EU to enforce Libyan arms embargo
BBC News, The Guardian and Reuters reports that EU states have agreed to launch a new military mission off the Libyan coast to enforce a shaky UN arms embargo, although the EU27 still have to draft a legal text for the mission, after agreeing it in principle in Brussels. Reuters reports that Libya’s combatants are readying for a long conflict despite the embargo, as foreign weapons flood in, eastern factions close oil ports and rival alliances wrangle over revenues from Africa’s largest petroleum reserves.
The Telegraph and Reuters report that Syrian authorities announced on Monday that Aleppo airport will be reopened to civilian flights for the first time in eight years, after regime forces captured large swathes of north west Syria from the rebels. The Associated Press reports that Syrian President Bashar Assad congratulated his forces for gains in north west Syria that led to his troops consolidating control over Aleppo province, pledging to press ahead with a military campaign to achieve complete victory “sooner or later.”
BBC News reports that the aid operation in north east Syria is being “overwhelmed” as the number of people displaced by the government offensive in Idlib rises, the UN said on Monday. Since early December 900,000 people have been forced to flee, most of them women and children, it said.
Reuters reports that the top United Nations envoy to Iraq condemned on Monday the use of hunting rifles loaded with birdshot against peaceful protesters in Baghdad and urged the government to ensure those demonstrating are not harmed.
The Times reports that an Iranian dissident journalist who had been living in exile in Paris and disappeared on a visit to Iraq has gone on trial in Tehran accused of spying and opposing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader.
Reuters reports that Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who is getting the cold shoulder from Gulf Arab states, on Monday met Iran’s parliamentary speaker, the first senior foreign official to visit since Diab’s government took office.
The Independent reports that Shamima Begum has said her “whole world fell apart” the day she found out she had lost her British citizenship. The former east London schoolgirl, now 20, was one of three friends who boarded a plane five years ago to join ISIS in Syria.
The Financial Times reports that the chief executive of Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund has defended President Erdogan’s close involvement in its running despite criticism from opposition parties and foreign investors, saying that “every sovereign wealth fund is a political animal”.
Reuters reports that Tunisian President Kais Saied said on Monday he would dissolve parliament and call for an early election if the new government fails to win a parliamentary confidence vote, amid what he called the worst political crisis since independence in 1956.
In The Times, Anthony Loyd’s Libyan war diaries show the conflict gripping the north African state since 2011 seems to be nearing a “turning point”, although the country still remains subject to enduring forces that “have not changed” since Loyd’s previous visit in 2016.
Haaretz and Maariv report the meeting of European Union foreign ministers yesterday in Brussels that discussed the US plan for Israel and the Palestinians. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the ministers: “Discussed how best to relaunch a political process that is acceptable to both parties and how best to defend the internationally agreed parameters, equal rights and international law.” However, a unanimous statement, let alone an actionable resolution and “preemptive measures” to deter Israel from applying its sovereignty in the West Bank, was not reached – reportedly due to opposition from Hungary and the Czech Republic. Borrell said the EU “could not resign itself to annexation.” The ministers agreed to revisit the issue at the end of next month, after the 2 March Israeli election.
All the Israeli media report the discovery of the body of a 50-year old Palestinian man suspected of perpetrating a shooting attack earlier this month at a highway junction in the central West Bank. An Israeli soldier was lightly wounded in the attack and a manhunt for the assailant had been ongoing. The man’s body was found near the scene of the attack, in dense underbrush, with a handgun and M-16 rifle nearby. The IDF suspects he was killed by return fire from forces on the ground, although an investigation has been opened to ascertain how he was not discovered earlier.
All the Israeli media report the firebombing of a restaurant in Ramallah early yesterday morning that had, a day earlier, hosted a large group of Israeli journalists. The restaurant sustained minor damage near its entrance. The attack was viewed as a protest against any “normalisation” of ties with Israel, despite the fact that the media delegation had been organised and invited by the Palestinian Authority, with several senior officials briefing the group. The group consisted of high-profile Israeli diplomatic correspondents who live tweeted the briefings as well as the culinary delights of Ramallah.