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Ankara dismisses Egypt’s warning of Libya intervention



Ankara will no stop supporting its Libyan allies despite Egypt’s warnings that it could proceed with a “direct” intervention if forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) march towards the strategic city of Sirte, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing a senior Turkish official.

On Saturday, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi also ordered the country’s army to be ready to carry out missions inside or outside of the country to protect its national security amid tensions over Turkey’s intervention in Libya.

Later in the day, GNA denounced el-Sisi’s threat of military intervention, labelling it as a “declaration of war.”

“This is a hostile act, direct interference and amounts to a declaration of war,” the Tripoli-based GNA, led by Fayez al-Sarraj said in a statement.

“Sisi’s statements have no basis,” the Turkish official told Reuters on condition of anonymity, adding that “Turkey and Libya will not turn back from their determination.” He added that GNA with Turkish support is continuing preparations to recapture Sirte and the Jufra region further south.

Libya has been torn by conflict since 2011, when the NATO-backed uprising overthrown the longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

In the war-torn country, the internationally-recognised GNA is clashing with the forces of Libya’s National Army (LNA) under the command of General Khalifa Haftar.

On June 6, el-Sisi proposed the “Cairo Declaration and Cairo Initiative” and called for a number of measures, including a ceasefire on June 8, elections for a presidential council by the Libyan people under the auspices of the UN, the departure of all mercenaries from Libya, and the resumption of the 5+5 military talks.

 



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Egypt says film-maker died in cell after drinking hand sanitiser | World news


Egypt’s public prosecutor has said a young film-maker who died in prison had mistakenly drunk hand sanitiser in his cell, thinking it was water.

Shady Habash died inside Cairo’s Tora prison complex on 2 May. He had been held for more than two years without trial, accused of membership of a terrorist group and “spreading false news” after he produced a music video critical of Egypt’s president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

The 24-year-old was the latest in a number of high-profile people to die in custody in Egypt, particularly inside Tora prison. For months observers have been sounding the alarm about the denial of medical treatment to prisoners of conscience, including the deaths in custody of the US citizen Mustafa Kassem and the former president Mohammed Morsi.

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said Habash’s death was the third in 10 months among prisoners of conscience in Tora prison’s cell block number four. “For over several hours, Shady’s cellmates desperately tried to summon medical help but were ignored by prison officials,” it said. “Such wanton cruelty is hardly exceptional – prisoners of conscience are often left to die in prison without trial or due process, in appalling conditions that include the deliberate withholding of healthcare.”

The public prosecutor said in a statement that Habash visited medical facilities several times for treatment and was returned to his cell, before he was transferred to the prison clinic “unconscious and in a delirious state”. The statement added that Habash “informed the prison physician that he mistakenly drank a bottle of alcohol a day earlier and claimed he mistook it for a bottle of water”. His cellmates found empty 100ml bottles of hand sanitiser intended to protect them against Covid-19 among Habash’s belongings, it said.

Since Sisi came to power in 2013 thousands of Egyptians have been detained in an unprecedented crackdown on dissent. TV programs and newspapers have taken the government position and steered clear of criticism, or else disappeared. Many privately owned Egyptian news outlets have been quietly acquired by companies affiliated with the country’s intelligence service.

Habash’s detention and death represent a stark reminder of the growing number of young people at risk inside Egypt’s sprawling prison system, including many detained for their work as artists, making dissenting statements against Sisi’s rule or for no charge at all.

There are fears that the Covid-19 could easily spread inside the country’s mammoth prison complexes, proving deadly when combined with the routine medical neglect of inmates.

Egyptian authorities suspended family visits to inmates due to the Covid-19 outbreak in early March, cutting prisoners’ sole means of communication with the outside world as well as their ability to receive clean clothes and additional food. The pre-detention of several high-profile activists was renewed earlier this week, including the award-winning human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Massry, the politician and journalist Khaled Daoud and Alaa Abdel-Fattah, the activist and blogger, who recently began a hunger strike in protest at prison conditions.

“What happened to Shady was clear medical negligence,” said the singer Ramy Essam. Habash added his name to the credits of Essam’s song Balaha, which lambasted Sisi, after he worked on post-production of the raw video footage. The song’s release led to the arrest of eight people, including one man who played the track in his car in Kuwait and was deported back to Egypt.

“Shady decided to put his name on it with the belief that making art would never cause harm,” said Essam. “He deserves to be remembered as extremely talented.”



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Turkey, Libya delimitation deal raises geopolitical tensions



Turkey has signed an agreement with Libya’s internationally recognised government on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea that could affect oil and gas exploration of other countries and heighten geopolitical tensions in the volatile region.

Ankara reportedly announced the accord and a deal on expanded security and military cooperation on 28 November.

Cyprus Natural Hydrocarbons Company CEO Charles Ellinas told New Europe on 29 November that the immediate impact of the Libya-Turkey agreement is on the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of Greece and Egypt.

Both Greece and Egypt, but also Cyprus, have already strongly condemned this as not being in agreement with international law, blatantly ignoring the rights of islands. Cairo dismissed the deal between Ankara and Tripoli as “illegal” and Athens said the accord is “completely unacceptable” because it ignored the presence of the Greek island of Crete between the coasts of Turkey and Libya and summoned Turkish Ambassador Burak Ozugergin to the Greek Foreign Ministry, Greece’s Kathimerini newspaper reported.

Cyprus’ Foreign Ministry on 29 November also condemned the deal. “Such a delimitation, if done, would constitute a serious violation of international law,” an announcement said, CyprusMail reported. “It would be contrary to the recognised principle of the convention on the law of the sea and the rights of islands’ EEZ,” it added. “With the distortion of the law of the sea and the counterfeiting of geography – Turkey will gain no footing in the Eastern Mediterranean,” it concluded.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed that with the memorandum of understanding on the “delimitation of maritime jurisdictions Turkey is protecting “rights deriving from international law.” Reuters quoted him as saying that such accords could be agreed with other countries if differences could be overcome and that Ankara was in favour of “fair sharing” of resources, including off Cyprus.

Constantinos Filis, director of research at Institute of International Relations, told New Europe on 29 November Turkey’s illegal acts do not have legal repercussions. “Ankara’s attempt to agree with an unstable regime, which represents only part of Libya and therefore any deal it signs is uncertain, is a result of its isolation particularly from energy developments. Given that Turkey cannot agree with any other regional actor not only in the delimitation of the continental shelve or EEZ but also on how to stabilize the region and make it prosperous, it is left with no option but to approach a semi-rogue regime in order to showcase its regional power,” he said, adding that the message it wants to send is that any agreement or plan, including energy projects, cannot be fulfilled without Ankara’s consent.

Ellinas said the Libya-Turkey agreement indirectly affects Cyprus as well, as Turkey uses the same justification to delineate its ‘EEZ’ in the Mediterranean. “In effect, this ignores the entitlement of islands, including Cyprus and Crete, to an EEZ. Turkey defines its ‘EEZ’ to be coextensive with its continental shelf, based the relative lengths of adjacent coastlines, which completely disadvantages islands. It is a ‘unique’ interpretation not shared by any other country and not in accordance to the United Nations UNCLOS treaty, ratified by 167 countries but not Turkey,” Ellinas said.

He argued that Ankara appears to be picking and choosing, as it has used UNLOS principles to delineate its ‘EEZ’ in the Black Sea but does not accept them in the Mediterranean. “That may be challengeable under customary international law,” the Cyprus Natural Hydrocarbons Company CEO said.

“In all likelihood Turkey is doing this, as well as through its aggressive actions in carrying out exploration and drilling in Cyprus’ EEZ, in order to establish a position of strength from which eventually to enter into negotiations. But also as a reaction to the growing cooperation among almost all the other countries bordering the East Med. Turkey’s claims have no internationally recognised legal basis,” Ellinas said.

According to Filis, it is not clear whether there is an agreement – rather, it seems to be a preliminary step of expressing their intention to sign an agreement in the future. “But the most dangerous repercussion might be Turkey’s attempt to use it as a basis for projecting its supposed sovereign right to proceed with seismic activities in the area between Rhodes and Crete, especially in the southeastern part of the matter, thus confirming its strategic interest for the triangle between Crete, Kastellorizo and Cyprus,” he said.

Asked what could be the US and EU reaction to this agreement and how does it affect geopolitics in the region, Ellinas said both Washington and Brussels, and all other neighbouring countries in the East Med, recognise Cyprus’ and other countries’ rights to their EEZs declared in accordance to UNCLOS. He explained that as UNCLOS is not legally enforceable against a state that declines to sign and ratify it, the way to resolve this may eventually be through negotiations or arbitration on the basis of internationally recognised law and not through aggressive actions as Turkey is now pursuing.



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