Interviews, News, opinion 0 comments on Libya watchers see signs of progress toward reconciliation

Libya watchers see signs of progress toward reconciliation


The North African country was plunged into bloody violence following Muammar Gaddafi’s ouster
UN official hopes for an agreement ‘by mid-June’ to hold elections before the end of this year
TRIPOLI: Oil-rich but war-scarred Libya has for years been ruled by two rival governments, but now some analysts see faint signs of progress toward reconciliation between them.
They point to discord within one of the camps, based in the east and backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar, where the parliament last week suspended its former premier Fathi Bashagha.
Paradoxically, the observers say, Bashaga’s political demise could signal that the Haftar camp is moving toward rapprochement with the internationally recognized government in the capital Tripoli.
Some observers even suggest this could aid United Nations-led efforts urging new elections this year in the country that has been torn by bloody chaos since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The political rupture in the east has reversed the fortunes of Bashagha, who a year ago launched an attack on Tripoli that was repelled after a day of deadly street fighting.
Bashagha was suspended on May 16 by the eastern-based parliament, which also announced an investigation against him for unspecified reasons.
The move against Bashagha “sealed the end of the political life of this former strongman,” said analyst Hasni Abidi of the Geneva-based Institute for Arab and Mediterranean Cultures.
His “humiliating departure … reflects the differences in the eastern camp, in particular between the Haftar clan represented by his children and the parliament,” Abidi said.
Tripoli-based interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah has meanwhile used the “paralysis of the eastern government to consolidate his grip on political and economic life in Libya,” he said.
The North African country was plunged into more than a decade of bloody violence following Gaddafi’s ouster in a NATO-backed popular uprising in which the veteran dictator was killed.
The ensuing chaos drew in warlords, militants and foreign mercenaries and claimed countless lives while leaving the country awash with guns.
Haftar, a Gaddafi-era soldier turned exile, and since backed by Egypt and other foreign powers, launched an assault on Tripoli in 2019 that left thousands more dead but ultimately failed.
The warring parties reached a formal cease-fire in October 2020.
Since then, the United Nations has resumed its efforts for new elections, to bring stability to the troubled country, but these have been repeatedly delayed.
Bashaga, from the port city of Misrata and formerly a political heavyweight in the western camp, had sought Haftar’s support in late 2021, vowing to work for “national reconciliation.”
Bashagha’s suspension comes ahead of a mid-June deadline declared by the United Nations for the rival political forces to agree on a framework to hold elections before the end of the year.
Bashagha “always had an expiry date,” said Emadeddin Badi of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, a Switzerland-based research body.
“His usefulness ended the day he lost the possibility of establishing himself in Tripoli,” the analyst said.
Libyan media have meanwhile reported that talks have been held between representatives of Haftar and Dbeibah.
Dbeibah’s nephew and one of Haftar’s sons “have been in almost continuous talks for months,” researcher Jalel Harchaoui said.
“The desire of these two Libyan personalities to accommodate one another is one of the reasons for Bashagha’s fall,” he said.
Badi said Haftar had offered to suspend Bashagha, a move that had the “blessing” of Egypt.
The head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily, has said he hopes for an agreement “by mid-June” to hold elections before the end of this year.
He told the UN Security Council last month that “intensive consultations have taken place among security actors” and said “there has been a new dynamic in Libya.”
Libyan political analyst Abdallah Al-Rayes said the rival camps’ new understandings are the culmination of “discreet negotiations in Cairo” with a view to “forming a new coalition government.”
“This is a step that precedes any agreement on the polls,” he added.
Harchaoui, however, was less optimistic and said “the elites already well in place today … have absolutely no intention of leaving power in order to allow credible and authentic elections.”

Interviews, News, opinion 0 comments on Exclusive: Tons of uranium missing from Libyan site, IAEA tells member states

Exclusive: Tons of uranium missing from Libyan site, IAEA tells member states

VIENNA, March 15 (Reuters) – U.N. nuclear watchdog inspectors have found that roughly 2.5 tons of natural uranium have gone missing from a Libyan site that is not under government control, the watchdog told member states in a statement on Wednesday seen by Reuters.

The finding is the result of an inspection originally planned for last year that “had to be postponed because of the security situation in the region” and was finally carried out on Tuesday, according to the confidential statement by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi.

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IAEA inspectors “found that 10 drums containing approximately 2.5 tons of natural uranium in the form of UOC (uranium ore concentrate) previously declared by (Libya) … as being stored at that location were not present at the location,” the one-page statement said.

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The agency would carry out “further activities” to determine the circumstances of the uranium’s removal from the site, which it did not name, and where it is now, the statement added.

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“The loss of knowledge about the present location of nuclear material may present a radiological risk, as well as nuclear security concerns,” it said, adding that reaching the site required “complex logistics”.

In 2003 Libya under then-leader Muammar Gaddafi renounced its nuclear weapons programme, which had obtained centrifuges that can enrich uranium as well as design information for a nuclear bomb, though it made little progress towards a bomb.

Libya has had little peace since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising ousted Gaddafi. Since 2014, political control has been split between rival eastern and western factions, with the last major bout of conflict ending in 2020.

Libya’s interim government, put in place in early 2021 through a U.N.-backed peace plan, was only supposed to last until an election scheduled for December of that year that has still not been held, and its legitimacy is now also disputed.

Interviews, News, opinion 0 comments on Saudi Arabia and Iran Agree to Restore Ties, in Talks Hosted by China .. By By Vivian Nereim

Saudi Arabia and Iran Agree to Restore Ties, in Talks Hosted by China .. By By Vivian Nereim

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — After years of open hostility and proxy conflicts across the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Iran have agreed to re-establish diplomatic ties, they announced on Friday, in a significant pivot for the two regional rivals that was facilitated by China.

China hosted the talks that led to the breakthrough, highlighting Beijing’s growing role as a global economic and political power, and counterbalance to Washington — particularly in the Middle East, a region that was long shaped by the military and diplomatic involvement of the United States.

Seven years after cutting formal ties, Iran and Saudi Arabia will reopen embassies in each other’s countries within two months, and confirmed their “respect for the sovereignty of states and noninterference in their internal affairs,” they said in a joint statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency. Iran’s state news media also announced the deal.

The two countries agreed to reactivate a lapsed security cooperation pact — a shift that comes after years of Iranian-backed militias in Yemen targeting Saudi Arabia with missile and drone attacks — as well as older trade, investment and cultural accords.

Whether the shift leads to a deep or lasting détente between governments that have long been in conflict remains unclear, but there have been signs that both nations wanted to find a way to step back from confrontation. Saudi and Iranian officials had engaged in several rounds of talks over the past two years, including in Iraq and Oman, but without significant steps forward.

For the United States, the agreement signals that it cannot take for granted the pre-eminent influence it once wielded in Saudi Arabia — an ally that is charting a more independent diplomatic course — and elsewhere, as China, a rising superpower, builds trade and diplomatic relations around the world.

While Washington views Iran as an adversary, Beijing has cultivated close ties to both Iran and Saudi Arabia, and unlike U.S. officials, it does not chastise them about human rights. Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, visited Beijing last month, and China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, visited Riyadh, the Saudi capital, in December. Mr. Xi’s state visit was celebrated by Saudi officials, who often complain that their American allies are too critical, and are no longer reliable security partners.

John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, rejected the notion that the United States had left a void in Middle East affairs, now being filled by China. “I would stridently push back on this idea that we are stepping back in the Middle East,” he said, adding that Saudi Arabia had kept the United States informed of the talks with Iran.

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“We support any effort there to de-escalate tensions in the region,” Mr. Kirby said.

China’s most senior foreign policy official, Wang Yi, indicated on Friday in a statement on the Chinese foreign ministry website that Beijing had played an instrumental role in the resumption of diplomatic ties.

“This is a victory for the dialogue, a victory for peace, and is major positive news for the world which is currently so turbulent and restive, and it sends a clear signal,” he said.

Mohammed Alyahya, a Saudi fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, said the agreement was a “reflection of China’s growing strategic clout in the region — the fact that it has a lot of leverage over the Iranians, the fact it has very deep and important economic relations with the Saudis.” He added: “There is a strategic void in the region, and the Chinese seem to have figured out how to capitalize on that.”

After years of tensions, Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran completely in 2016, when protesters stormed the kingdom’s embassy in Tehran after Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Saudi Shiite cleric.

The rivalry between the two Islamic nations, which are less than 150 miles away from each other across the Persian Gulf, has long shaped politics and trade in the Middle East. It has a sectarian dimension — Saudi Arabia’s monarchy and a majority of its populace are Sunni, while Iran’s people are overwhelmingly Shiite — but has predominantly played out via proxy conflicts in Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, where Iran has supported militias that Saudi officials say have destabilized the region.

Tensions hit a peak in 2019, when a missile and drone assault on a key Saudi oil installation briefly disrupted half of the kingdom’s crude production; the Iran-backed Houthi movement in Yemen claimed responsibility, but U.S. officials said that Iran had directly overseen the attack.


A satellite image of smoke rising from a critical oil plant in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, in 2019.
Credit…Planet Labs Inc, via Associated Press
A satellite image of smoke rising from a critical oil plant in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, in 2019.

In Yemen, a Saudi-led coalition has been at war with the Houthis since 2015. Saudi officials have also repeatedly expressed fear over Iran’s nuclear program, saying that they would be the foremost target for any attack by the Islamic Republic.

China wants stability in the region, with more than 40 percent of its crude oil imports coming from the Gulf, said Jonathan Fulton, a nonresident senior fellow for Middle East programs at the Atlantic Council.

“Beijing has adopted a smart approach using its strategic partnership diplomacy, building diplomatic capital on both sides of the Gulf,” he said. “Unlike the United States, which balances one side against the other, and is therefore limited in its diplomatic capacity.”

Ali Shamkhani, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told Iran’s NourNews Agency that President Raisi’s visit to China in February had helped create the opportunity for the negotiations to move forward.

Mr. Shamkhani described the talks as “unequivocal, transparent, comprehensive and constructive.” He said he was looking forward to relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia that foster “the security and stability of the region.”


Xi Jinping, president of China, with President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran in Beijing last month, in a photo released by the Chinese state news media.
Credit…Yan Yan/Xinhua, via Associated Press
Xi Jinping, president of China, with President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran in Beijing last month, in a photo released by the Chinese state news media.

For Iran, mending ties with a regional enemy would be a welcome relief after months of internal turmoil marked by antigovernment protests that Iranian officials have blamed in part on Saudi Arabia. The Iranian government spokesman, Ali Bahadori Jahromi, tweeted that “the historic agreement of Saudi-Iran negotiated in China and led entirely by Asian countries will change the dynamics of the region.”

The Israeli foreign ministry declined to immediately comment. But the news complicates the Israeli assumption that shared fears of a nuclear Iran would help Israel forge a formal relationship with Saudi Arabia. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has repeatedly stated in recent months that he hoped to seal diplomatic ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia for the first time.

Saudi Arabia has pressed the United States to lower restrictions on selling it arms, and to help it build a civilian nuclear program, as its price to normalize relations with Israel, according to people familiar with the exchanges.

The agreement comes as China has been trying to play a more active role in global governance by releasing a political settlement plan for the war in Ukraine and updating what it calls the Global Security Initiative, a bid to supplant Washington’s dominant role in addressing the world’s conflicts and crises.

Political analysts took mixed views of the implications for the United States.

Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based research institute, described the renewed Iran-Saudi ties resulting from Chinese mediation as “a lose, lose, lose for American interests.”

He added: “It demonstrates that the Saudis don’t trust Washington to have their back, that Iran sees an opportunity to peel away American allies to end its international isolation and that China is becoming the major-domo of Middle Eastern power politics.”


President Biden meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia last year.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
President Biden meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia last year.

But Trita Parsi, an executive vice president of the Quincy Institute, a Washington research group that advocates U.S. restraint overseas, called the agreement “good news for the Middle East, since Saudi-Iranian tensions have been a driver of instability in the region.”

Saudi officials are not looking to replace the United States with China, said Yasmine Farouk, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington research group.

When it comes to defense and security, “Riyadh still thinks in English,” she said. But after years of feeling that the United States has become a less reliable ally, the Saudis are expanding their alliances wherever they can.

Reporting was contributed by Keith Bradsher, Patrick Kingsley, David Pierson, Christopher Buckley, Michael Crowley, Farnaz Fassihi, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Leily Nikounazar.

Interviews, News, opinion, Perspectives 0 comments on Final déclaration of the forum “Changes in Tunisia and the European Maghreb Countries in 2023: The economic and security situation new Threats.”

Final déclaration of the forum “Changes in Tunisia and the European Maghreb Countries in 2023: The economic and security situation new Threats.”

The closing statement of the forum “Changes in Tunisia and the European Maghreb Countries in 2023: The economic and security situation threatens to explode and collapse.”

– 35,000 Tunisians immigrated illegaly to Europe in 2022
A new regional order and distancing the region from “proxy wars”

A forum on economic and geostrategic changes in Tunisia and the European Maghreb region was organized in Tunisia, with the participation of elite diplomats, experts in economists, international relations, media and strategic studies, at the initiative of the organizations “Tunisia for Competencies”, “Ibn Rushd Forum for Strategic Studies” and “Association of Democrats in the Arab World” ..
Lecturers from the five Maghreb countries, Jordan and the European Union participated in this forum, in person or via electronic platforms. Their interventions warned of multiple indicators of social and security explosions due to the economic and political collapse and the serious repercussions of conflicts, the war in Ukraine, and the continuation of conventional and “cold” wars in the region, especially in Libya. And between Morocco and Algeria and in Palestine and the Arab East…
After diagnosing the situation, this forum resulted in many recommendations, including:

First, in the socio-economic field:
The forum recommended the adoption of “urgent and structural” and “unconventional” solutions: to contain the accumulated economic, social and political crises, which have increased in severity and seriousness due to the complications of the Ukraine war and its development into very serious conflicts between Russia and its allies and NATO countries, including European countries, the main partner of Tunisia and the Maghreb countries. And the Mediterranean..
The forum recommended good governance and the political and administrative reforms required to improve the economic and social reality and the conditions of youth and the popular classes that are about to explode and revolt against everyone … with an emphasis on the relationship between development and democracy and on the fact that the paths of the “democratic transition” in Tunisia and the Arab countries faltered as a result of the accumulation of politicians’ mistakes since 2011 Domestic, regional and international conspiracies and agendas.

Secondly, in the Maghreb field:

Participants recommended containing internal crises, especially in Libya, in all Maghreb countries through negotiation and political solutions, and excluding all scenarios of fighting, violent clashes, and security explosions of unknown consequences.
They also called for containing the old and new differences between Algeria and Morocco, restoring relations between them, opening closed borders, and purifying the climate between the five countries to activate bilateral and collective agreements for economic partnership and integration in all sectors, which will contribute to improving annual growth rates in Tunisia and every Maghreb country. At least two points.
The interventions also called for the exit of foreign forces from Libya and the region, and for the exclusion of foreign interference that impedes the paths of national reconciliation and comprehensive development throughout the region.

Third, in the Euro-Mediterranean field:
Participants from Arab and European countries recorded that the economic cost of the Corona epidemic and the war in Ukraine made the European Union countries retreat from their programs to support development, democracy and reforms in “neighboring countries”. Budgets were transferred to support Ukraine and finance the reception of millions of refugees fleeing the war. Brussels and the Arab and Mediterranean countries to activate partnership agreements and facilitate the movement of travelers, investors and goods in both directions… “And that the role of the countries of the southern Mediterranean is not reduced to protecting the southern European coasts from the waves of illegal immigrants, Tunisians, Arabs and Africans.”
The parliamentarian and former leader of the Democratic Current Party, Majdi al-Karbaei, recorded in his intervention from Italy and the journalist Moncef al-Sulaimi from Germany that the number of Tunisian immigrants “surreptitiously” towards Italy in 2022 was in the range of 18,000 from the sea, while the candidates for immigration to it via Turkey and Serbia were estimated at 15. Thousands… meaning that their number in one year hovered around 35 thousand… while the number of those who died by drowning or were imprisoned in very harsh conditions was estimated to be 1,000 Tunisians…

Fourth, in the international field:
The forum recommended decision makers in the world to take advantage of the suffocating global crisis triggered by the conflicts between the NATO countries on the one hand and Russia and its

News, opinion 0 comments on At Least 10 Killed in Mass Shooting near Los Angeles

At Least 10 Killed in Mass Shooting near Los Angeles


Ten people were killed and at least 10 others were injured in a mass shooting in the city of Monterey Park, California, while festivities were taking place for Chinese New Year, officials and witnesses say, as the exact numbers of casualties are not yet known.

The shooting took place on Saturday night in Monterey Park, just east of Los Angeles in the US state of California, around the location of a Chinese Lunar New Year celebration that had taken place earlier in the evening.

According to initial reports, at least 16 people have been shot, including multiple victims who succumbed to their injuries. Police have yet to confirm the exact number of dead and injured but reports are claiming that 10 people have been killed at the scene.

Two witnesses said they heard gunfire but initially assumed it was fireworks to mark the Lunar New Year. When officers arrived at the scene, many of the victims were found inside one of the businesses as the area is home to multiple Asian businesses.

Tens of thousands of people had attended the festival earlier in the day for a two-day long Monterey Park Lunar New Year Festival of the “Year of the Rabbit” downtown, which is considered one of the largest in the region.

Chinese New Year officially begins on January 22nd, 2023, and ends on February 1st.

Details about the circumstances of the shooting were also not yet known.

The incident is the latest in a spate of attacks targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) across the United States.

Crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders soared in recent years, especially during the coronavirus pandemic with experts blaming this in part on discriminatory rhetoric from former US president Donald Trump, who repeatedly used racist terms against Asians. Trump repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as the “China Virus”.

Between March 2020 and March 2022, more than 11,400 hate incidents against Asian Americans have been reported across the United States, according to a report by Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition that tracks such incidents and advocates for combatting hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Mass shootings are another specific concern as domestic violence and gun violence have also risen during the last year. The US experienced more than 600 mass shootings in 2022, nearly double the number recorded four years ago when there were 336, according to Washington-based Gun Violence Archive.

The rate of deaths caused by firearms is getting worse as the population of the US goes up. This is while firearm purchases rose to record levels in 2021 and 2022. The changing legal landscape for firearms comes as gun ownership continues to grow in the United States.

Analysts see a link between bias-motivated gun violence and a rise in hate groups and toxic discourse in the United States targeting vulnerable, often marginalized population.

News, opinion, Perspectives 0 comments on Chemical Weapons Probes Can Expose Western Plots against Syria

Chemical Weapons Probes Can Expose Western Plots against Syria

The UN and its sunsets that for a decade along with the Western-Arab-Israeli triangle backed the Syrian opposition and terrorists fighting the Syrian government now admitted they found documents that show the ISIS terrorist group was the party that used chemical weapons in the past years.

UN experts said they have cited digital evidence and witness evidence that all confirm the use of chemical weapons by the terrorist group in Iraq between 2014 and 2019. The UN investigation team confirmed that ISIS had produced and used rockets, chemical mortars, chemical ammunition for rockets, chemical warheads, and homemade chemical bombs. The report specifically mentions the ISIS attack on Tuz Khurma town in Kirkuk province on March 8, 2016.

This report is while the Iraqi government in July 2014, when ISIS occupied many western regions of the country, confirmed in a report that a center related to the country’s former chemical weapons program had fallen into the hands of terrorists and expressed concern about this issue.

In the past years, the issue of using banned weapons, especially chemical weapons, has been very controversial and at times it became a tool for the propaganda campaigns and the political pressure of the Westerners on the Syrian government. The UN has not submitted a report on the use of unconventional weapons by the terrorists so far, but now that the crimes of ISIS have been exposed to everyone, it had to disclose some realities.

Scenario of chemical weapons use in Syria

The UN has confirmed the use of chemical weapons by ISIS in Iraq while it refuses to prepare such reports in Syria. This is while ISIS was present in Syria before it rose in Iraq and occupied the border areas of the two countries and could easily move such weapons between the two countries and there are reports published by Moscow and Damascus that disclosed the use of chemical weapons by terrorists. A number of chemical attacks in Syria may have been carried out by ISIS, but since dozens of terrorist groups were present in the Syrian provinces at the same time, it is difficult to confirm which one was behind the attacks and this requires a comprehensive investigation.

The use of chemical weapons is not limited to ISIS, and other Takfiri groups have also committed these crimes many times. Terrorist groups based in Syria have committed such crimes in different regions in the past years, but the UN has always accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons instead of the Takfiris under the pressure of the Americans and Europeans. Even when all Syrian chemical weapons were removed from the country under the UN supervision in 2013, accusations against the Syrian government continued.

In October 2013, a year after outbreak of conflict, the UN inspectors reported that from the seven areas they inspected, in five areas, chemical weapons were used. Ghouta, Khan Ersal, Juber, Sargheb, and Ashrafia were areas in which these weapons were used, but the UN report did not specify which party, the government or the terrorists, used them. The ambiguity of reports paved the way for backers of terrorists to point the fingers at the Syrian government. Even former US President Barack Obama planned to attack Syria with the help of NATO in September 2013 under the pretext that the Syrian government was attacking terrorists and civilians with chemical weapons, but he eventually abandoned this plan as Damascus agreed to hand over its chemical weapons.
In another report, the UN claimed that the Syrian government used chlorine gas chemical weapons in the attacks on Idlib city in March 2016, and this substance was embedded in barrel bombs. In 2017, the UN claimed that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against armed groups in Khan Sheikhoun. In April 2018, when the use of chemical weapons in the Duma city in the Damascus suburbs was raised by the Western powers, Bashar al-Jaafari, the permanent representative of Syria to the UN, stressed that his country would not accept any results published by the investigation team of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons regarding the incident in Duma, adding: “Some countries are trying to repeat what happened in Iraq and find excuses with the aim of starting an aggression against Syria, but we do not allow the falsification of reality.”

In Syrian crisis, the UN has always tried to take the Western-backed terrorists’ side, and this is why it does not admit crimes by the terrorist groups— a behavior drawing strong-toned reaction from Damascus. Syria’s deputy UN envoy during a meeting of the Security Council on Monday, in a speech lashed out at the body’s “politically-motivated”

News, opinion 0 comments on ‘It’s done’: Did Liz Truss text Antony Blinken after Nord Stream attack?

‘It’s done’: Did Liz Truss text Antony Blinken after Nord Stream attack?

Former UK Prime Minister Liz Truss allegedly sent a text message saying ‘it’s done’ to the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken immediately after the Nord Stream attack, according to an online commentator.

It should be recalled Russia’s defense ministry claimed on October 29 that British navy personnel blew up the Nord Stream gas pipelines last month, a claim that London said was false and designed to distract from Russian military failures in Ukraine.

The government has been urged to open an investigation into claims former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s phone was hacked while she was foreign secretary.

Moreover, the Mail on Sunday reported private messages between Ms. Truss and foreign officials, including about the Ukraine war, fell into foreign hands. The hack was discovered during the summer Tory leadership campaign, but the news was suppressed, the paper said.


However, Kim Dotcom, a self-proclaimed ‘Internet Freedom Fighter’, claims the text message is the reason Russia believes the United Kingdom was involved in blowing up the gas pipeline.

“Liz Truss used her iPhone to send a message to Secretary Blinken saying ‘it’s done’ a minute after the pipeline blew up and before anybody else knew,” he told his nearly one million Twitter followers.

Dotcom, who was born Kim Schmitz in West Germany, suggested the data was obtained through an iCloud hack.

“It’s not just the Five Eyes that have backdoor admin access to all Big Tech databases,” he said.

“Russia and China have sophisticated cyber units too. The funny thing is Govt officials with top security clearance still prefer using iPhones over their NSA & GCHQ issued encrypted shit-phones.”

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News, opinion 0 comments on Usa secretary of defense : We will support Tunisia…

Usa secretary of defense : We will support Tunisia…

U.S. Africa Command is a small combatant command with a large mission that they are doing deftly, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said today at the command’s headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.

Austin and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke as Army Gen. Stephen J. Townsend turned over command to Marine Corps Gen. Michael E. Langley.

1:21:34PlayVideo Player

The command is only 15 years old and has embraced its mission of “working shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners” to make all nations safer and more prosperous, Austin said.

America’s most important advantage is its unparalleled network of allies and partners that is at the heart of U.S. National Defense Strategy.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III delivers remarks.

Africa is a huge and diverse continent with hundreds of languages, multiple ethnic backgrounds, different religions and a range of cultures. The nations of the continent have much promise, but also face many threats. “The continent is on the front lines of many of this century’s most pressing threats — from mass migration to food insecurity, from COVID-19 to the climate crisis, from the drumbeat of autocracy to the dangers of terrorism,” Austin said. “These challenges threaten us all together. So, we must tackle them all together.”

Africom is a prominent portion of this effort alongside U.S. partners from the State Department, the Agency for International Development and more, Austin said. “Every day, Africom works alongside our friends as full partners — to strengthen bonds, to tackle common threats and to advance a shared vision of an Africa whose people are safe, prosperous and free to choose their own future,” he said. “We’ve seen the power of partnership in Somalia, where Africom supports our partners as they lead the fight against al-Shabaab. That cooperation is especially crucial as its attacks on civilians grow more lethal, brazen and cruel.”

A service member climbs across rope as fellow service members watch.

Al-Shabaab is only one terrorist threat on the continent. There are many groups — including al-Qaida and the Islamic States — exploiting weak governance and political turmoil in the Sahel region that stretches across the continent just south of the Sahara Desert. “These groups have taken thousands of lives — and the havoc that they cause threatens to spill across borders to undermine security in Southern Europe and beyond,” Austin said.

Africom is also supporting other efforts to make Africa safer including efforts to unlock the continent’s opportunities, to deepen military interoperability and build stronger democratic institutions. “This work isn’t easy,” the secretary said. “Across Africa, those who support democracy, freedom and the rule of law are battling the forces of autocracy, chaos and corruption.”

He specifically mentioned Tunisia where events are working against the dream of self-government. “But the United States stands committed to supporting our friends in Tunisia — and anywhere in Africa — who are trying to forge open, accountable, and inclusive democracies,” Austin said.

Two men face each other holding a flag.

Every day, Africom works alongside our friends as full partners — to strengthen bonds, to tackle common threats and to advance a shared vision of an Africa whose people are safe, prosperous and free to choose their own future.”

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III

In other parts of Africa, there are other threats to democracy. In some nations, leaders are cracking down on civil liberties, giving in to corruption or stifling the will of the people. And some African militaries have pushed out civilian governments. “Let’s be clear: a military exists to serve its people — not the other way around,” Austin said. “And militaries must play their legitimate role. That means defending human rights and protecting the rule of law, not toppling civilian governments and wallowing in corruption.”

Soldiers move through desert terrain while green smoke rises behind them.

The secretary said it is particularly important now as “autocracy is on the march around the world, and that includes outsiders who are working to tighten their grip on the continent.”

The People’s Republic of China is expanding its military footprint, seeking to build bases in Africa and undermine U.S. relations with African peoples, governments and militaries, the secretary said. “Meanwhile, Russia is peddling cheap weapons and backing mercenary forces. That’s yet another reminder of Moscow’s willingness to sow chaos and threaten the rules-based international order — and it goes far beyond [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s reckless invasion of Ukraine.”

Four aircraft fly in formation.

Africa deserves the protections of the international rules and norms that advance safety and prosperity for all. “That gives the nations of Africa a clear-eyed choice of partners,” Austin said.

Milley stressed that Africom works to counter terrorist networks that challenge freedom and stability with a small footprint. The chairman called the command “responsive and adaptive” well able to cope with the changing landscape on the ground. “This command acts at the speed of relevance,” the general said.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III shakes hands with Marine Corps Gen. Michael E. Langley.

Africom continues to thwart the Islamic State and al-Qaida and other terror groups, he said. Much of the action is taken by partner nations with help and training from Africom including U.S. Army security force assistance brigades, special forces soldiers executing joint combined exercise training programs, and from the U.S. National Guard working through state partnership programs.

In his remarks, Townsend said his three years in Africom have been an education. “Africa is fascinating — the continent is big, complex and diverse,” he said. “America cannot afford to ignore Africa. The continent is full of potential but also full of challenges and it’s standing at a historic crossroads. On one side is authoritarianism and foreign malign influence, along with the terrorism and food and economic insecurity that goes with it. On the other side is peace, security, democracy, development and rule of law. Africa’s future will have global impact.”

Soldiers operate a mortar system at night creating a small explosion.

Africom must continue to work with allies, partners and inter-agencies across the continent to secure enduring peace and prosperity — for Africa and for America. “America’s future security, and I believe prosperity, depends on a more secure and prosperous Africa,” he said. “A few bucks and a few troops can go a long way there — we can afford it.”

The change of command ceremony was itself significant. A senior defense official traveling with Austin told reporters that African leaders see an African-American secretary of defense, an African-American commander of U.S. Africa Command and a deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs of African descent.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III meets with service members.

“There’s probably a sense that they have a connection to the diaspora that they should be tapping into,” the official said. African leaders see these leaders “focusing on the security challenges which are most important to our African partners.”

Langley kept his remarks on point. He thanked Townsend for his efforts at the command and vowed to continue the work to build partnerships in Africa.

Langley’s father — an Air Force master sergeant — raised the general and his three siblings alone after the general’s mother died. “Dad, this one’s for you,” the general said.

Related Speech: Remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at U.S. Africa Command’s Change of Command Ceremony (As Delivered)

Related News Release: Readout of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III’s Visit to United States Africa Command

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Pallets are tied down with webbing in an aircraft. – Pallets of ammunition bound for Ukraine are secured onto a commercial plane during a security assistance mission at Dover Air Force Base, Del., July 21, 2022.

Spotlight Support for Ukraine

Support for Ukraine

Four service members observe large artillery as its fire power light’s up the night sky. – Army paratroopers assigned to the Bull Battery, 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment fire an M119A3 howitzer during an exercise with Moroccan troops in Morocco, June 25, 2022. This training is part of Exercise African Lion 22 in the Grier Labouhi Training Area, Morocco.

News Defense Official Discusses New U.S. Sub-Saharan Strategy

Defense Official Discusses New U.S. Sub-Saharan Strategy

A man in formal business attire sits behind a microphone. – Secretary of Defense Lloyd. J. Austin III addresses the 15th Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas in Brasilia, Brazil, July 26, 2022. The conference is the Western Hemisphere’s premiere defense forum for strategic-level engagement among defense and security officials in the Americas.

News Austin Launches New Round of Discussions With Hemispheric Partners

Austin Launches New Round of Discussions With Hemispheric Partners

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III walks along a Pentagon hallway with South Korea’s Defense Minister and others. – Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III hosts South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup for talks at the Pentagon, July 29, 2022.

News, opinion, Perspectives 0 comments on The Non-Alignment Posture of Algeria’s Foreign Policy ..By Dr. Arslan Chikhaoui

The Non-Alignment Posture of Algeria’s Foreign Policy ..By Dr. Arslan Chikhaoui

The map of geopolitical alliances is being reshaped following the Russia-Ukraine Crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic. With the potential development of a multi-polar world, Algeria is reaffirming its affiliations and defining its strategic and geo-economic areas of interest yet remains committed to its positions of non-alignment. It is clear that Algeria will continue to defend and promote the resolution of crises and conflicts of varying intensities, in particular, in the Arab World, Africa, the Sahel, and the Mediterranean through political solutions rather than military ones. Inclusive dialogue and political reconciliation are the paths that Algeria will continue to advocate. Despite this new geopolitical dynamic, Algeria undoubtedly remains a key player in the processes of reconciliation and stability given its experience and its proven expertise over the past fifty years.

Since its independence in 1962, Algeria has mobilized and will certainly continue to deploy its diplomacy to promote the principles of self-determination, respect for borders inherited from colonial divisions, non-interference in the internal affairs of States, the peaceful resolution of conflicts, non-interventionism, and non-alignment posture. Its struggle for independence produced an uncompromising foreign policy against foreign interference. Faced with the new challenges of a rapidly changing region, issues of security, integration, and regional convergence, Algeria is in a phase of adapting and consolidating its foreign policy doctrine for its strategic repositioning on the international scene which is being “reshaped”.

The diplomatic dynamic initiated by Algeria since the Covid-19 health crisis with its economic diplomacy, proximity diplomacy, parliamentary diplomacy, civil society diplomacy, preventive diplomacy, and multilateral diplomacy, shows its desire to position itself on the international scene as a key partner in the region without calling into question the fundamental doctrinal principles of its foreign, defense and security policy in the face of new emerging players such as China, India, and Turkey, who are shaking up the established order.

In the absence of a systematic alignment which would be synonymous with a denial of the doctrinal principles on which Algeria has built its foreign policy since its independence, or an intransigent opposition which would isolate it, Algeria seems to be moving more and more toward a policy of non-dogmatic interests.

Breathing new life into the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and defining new paradigms for its adaptation to the new era would be the approach for which Algeria seems to be opting. As a result, it clearly displays both its posture of non-alignment, as is the case of the Russia-Ukraine Crisis, but also its belonging to areas of strategic interest such as the Mediterranean, the Sahel, Africa, and the Arab World. The visit in June 2022 of Venezuelan President Maduro to Algiers and the signing of a strategic cooperation agreement between the two countries is a clear message of the revitalization of the Non-Aligned Movement. Algeria’s membership to this movement and its commitment to its objectives are enshrined in the founding act of the Algerian State, which is the Declaration of November 1954 to recover its independence from French colonialism

Today, and taking into account a context carrying the risk of confrontation between the actors of world powers and for many African or Asian countries which refuse to choose to belong to one camp or another, Algeria is called upon to sponsor this movement of non-aligned countries which was born with the Afro-Asian Conference of Bandung in 1955. Algeria’s commitment is part of the logic of its geostrategic repositioning as a pivotal actor thanks to its attachment to the three demands defended by this movement, namely: decolonization, multilateralism, and economic development.

During his visit to Turkey in May 2022, Algerian President Tebboune stated that: “Our policy is Non-alignment and we are not going to give it up”. Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine politico-military crisis and despite the historical relations that bind it with Russia, Algeria has remained equidistant from the belligerents. As proof, at the end of March 2022, Algeria welcomed the visit of the US Secretary of State Blinken, followed in May by that of the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov. On these occasions, Algerian President Tebboune declared that: “Russia and the United States are our friends, all the others are our friends, except the one with whom we have a problem because of Palestine. Whoever wants to judge us let him do it. We are trying as best we can to reinvigorate the Non-Aligned Movement. We see where the world is heading. Regardless of the number of poles, we are equidistant from all. Our commercial interests work with everyone, but when it comes to political interests and stability, we look first and foremost at our interests, the interests of the Algerian people.” Concomitantly, the Chief of Staff of the Algerian Army, General Chengriha, had also reaffirmed the neutrality of Algeria vis-à-vis international conflicts, when he received the Director General of the International Military Staff of NATO, General Wiermann: “On the international level, Algeria continues to adopt a policy of neutrality. Our country takes care to exclude itself from the tensions that oppose the different parties.” For his part, the President of the Senate (Upper House) Goudjil indicated to the Cuban Ambassador in Algiers, Vergara, the need to draw inspiration from the principles of the non-aligned countries and that the countries of the Third World will have to better prepare themselves for profound changes that the world is currently experiencing. The Speaker of the Upper House, during a recent telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Sentopa, also stressed: “the need to work together to develop a new concept of non-alignment which is adapted to the new international situation.”

All these concomitant political statements show that there is a consensus among the Algerian ruling elite on the issue of the non-alignment posture of Algeria and its desire to bring the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries up to date.

In addition, by organizing the meeting in Algiers of the Arab League scheduled for 01 November 2022 aligning with the celebration of the 68th anniversary of the outbreak of the revolution against French colonization and also the 44th anniversary of the Declaration of Algiers of November 15th, 1988 by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) retained by the State of Palestine as its declaration of independence, marks the constancy of Algeria’s position for the self-determination and independence of the peoples. Moreover, by organizing the Mediterranean Games in June 2022, Algeria marks its membership of this strategic space in which it is one of the important players with regard to the issues and challenges that will be faced by the two shores bordering the Mediterranean Sea commonly referred to as “the Lake”. Conflicts and their malevolent corollaries around the Lake are becoming serious issues for the development of renewed, peaceful, and balanced cooperation between the northern and southern shores. The Mediterranean remains an issue at three levels: strategic, economic, and ecological. All this means that Algeria cannot be on the sidelines and clearly affirms it.

Algeria is gradually moving towards a new era where it is trying to adapt to the new global context. It displays it with some signals to the international community such as, for example, its adherence to NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue; its call for the resolution of low and medium intensity conflicts in Libya, Mali, and Yemen through inclusive political dialogue; and to offer its good offices as a facilitator with regard to its experience and expertise in this field (e.g. Iran-Iraq, Iran-USA, Ethiopia-Eritrea, and others); the implementation of Arab and African free trade agreements (GZALE and ZLECAf); its desire to revisit the Association Agreement with the European Union to adapt it to the new challenges; and resume dialogue with WTO for its possible accession to membership status. Algeria is already relying on privileged platforms to activate at the regional and sub-regional level (African Union, 5+5 Cooperation, CEMOC, Trans-Saharan Counter Terrorism Initiative, Afripol) and intends to re-launch with new paradigms.

In short, the global geopolitical and geo-economic context is shifting and Algeria’s positions of principle remain irrevocably constant, which explains its commitment to energizing a new concept of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries.

The views presented in this article are those of the speaker or author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

This entry was posted in Africa, Algeria, Alumni Publications and tagged Africa, Algeria, Arab World, COVID-19 pandemic, diplomacy, Foreign policy, non-aligned countries, non-alignment, Russia-Ukraine Crisis, the Mediterranean, the Sahel. Bookmark the permalink.

Interviews, News, opinion, Perspectives 0 comments on Putin claims progress made in talks over lifting Ukrainian wheat blockade

Putin claims progress made in talks over lifting Ukrainian wheat blockade

Russian president makes comments in Tehran, where he had a meeting with leaders from Turkey and Iran

Russia-Ukraine war: live news
Vladimir Putin leaves his presidential plane after arriving in Tehran on Tuesday.
Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor
Tue 19 Jul 2022 19.58 BST
Vladimir Putin has claimed on a trip to Tehran that progress has been made that may allow Russia to lift the blockade on Ukrainian wheat, an issue that is threatening famine across Africa.

“I want to thank you for your mediation efforts,” the Russian president told Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his Turkish counterpart, in comments released by the Kremlin.


“With your mediation, we have moved forward,” Putin said. “Not all issues have yet been resolved, but the fact that there is movement is already good.”

It was only Putin’s second visit outside Russia since his invasion of Ukraine and reflected his determination to show he is not as isolated as the west claims, but retains an influence in the region after the visit to the Middle East last week by Joe Biden.

Putin held bilateral talks not only with Erdoğan, but also with the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi.

Khamenei offered Putin support over the Ukraine conflict. “War is a harsh and difficult issue, and Iran is not at all pleased that ordinary people suffer from it, but in the case of Ukraine, if you had not taken the initiative, the other side would have caused the war with its own initiative,” he said.

“If the road is open to Nato, it knows no boundaries and if it was not stopped in Ukraine, they would start the same war some time later under the pretext of Crimea.”


Putin was reported to have replied: “No one is in favour of war, and the loss of ordinary people’s lives is a great tragedy, but the behaviour of the west made us have no choice but to react. Some European countries said that that they had been against Ukraine’s membership of Nato, but then agreed under American pressure, which shows their lack of independence.”

Although there was broad agreement about Ukraine, tensions were on display when Khamenei warned Turkey against an incursion into northern Syria.

Erdoğan, possibly taking advantage of Putin’s distractions in Ukraine, has been threatening a new military offensive in northern Syria to drive away US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters from Turkey’s borders. The operation is part of Turkey’s plan to create a safe zone along its border with Syria that would encourage the voluntary return of Syrian refugees, a move that would be popular inside Turkey as Erdoğan prepares for difficult elections next year.

But in a meeting with Khamenei he was warned against such a move. “Any sort of military attack in northern Syria will definitely harm Turkey, Syria and the entire region, and will benefit terrorists,” Iran’s leader said, stressing the need to “bring the issue to an end through talks”. He said he also opposed any threat to the integrity of Syria.


In recent weeks Syrian Kurds have asked Iran and Russia to defend them against Turkish threats. Russian military officials have flown to the region in a bid to broker a deal between the Syrian government and the Syrian Kurds that would make a Turkish incursion more difficult.

Erdoğan was also seeking a signal from Putin that he is willing to lift the Russian naval blockade preventing Ukrainian grain from leaving Black Sea ports. The EU said on Tuesday it is prepared to lift some sanctions on Russian banks in relation to the trade of food.

Turkey, a Nato member, has a special responsibility under the 1936 Montreux convention for naval traffic entering the Black Sea. It is proposing that Russia allows the Ukrainian grain ships to leave Odesa on designated routes so long as checks are made that the vessels are not carrying arms.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – the world’s biggest wheat supplier – has sent prices of grain soaring across the world, compounding pre-existing food crises. Dozens of ships have been stranded and 22m tonnes of grain are stuck in silos at Ukrainian ports.

Hulusi Akar, the Turkish defence minister, has said Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN will sign a deal this week on the grain exports corridor after talks in Istanbul. A coordination centre is to be opened in Istanbul allowing routing of those exports via the Black Sea.

Erdoğan also signed economic and trade cooperation agreements with Iran, and said he opposed western sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme. The US has again threatened to increase sanctions on Iran if it does not agree to revive the nuclear deal.

Putin was looking to use the talks to bolster regional opposition to any US-proposed defence pacts between Gulf states and Israel, an idea that some in Washington see as a necessary bulwark if Iran was to go ahead with its nuclear programme. Russia is a party to the nuclear talks that are stalled in Vienna due to a US refusal to lift sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards. The US says these sanctions were not imposed due to the nuclear deal but due to the Revolutionary Guards’ malign activities across the region.

In a memorandum of understanding sealed before Putin’s arrival, the National Iranian Oil Company signed an agreement potentially worth $40bn (£33bn) with Russia’s Gazprom.

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The talks may also touch on Iran’s long experience of circumventing US sanctions, and whether there is room for cooperation between Moscow and Tehran on defeating US measures. The long-term vision is for the two countries to reduce dependence on the dollar for trading, but in the short term there may be discussions over Russia buying Iranian drones for use in Ukraine.

The Russian ambassador to Tehran, Levan Dzhagaryan, said in an interview with Iran’s Shargh newspaper last Saturday that Iran and Russia were now in a “single fortress”.

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