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Arabic press review: Haftar plans to disrupt Libyan elections

Meanwhile, Egypt has issued over 1,500 death sentences under Sisi, Houthis launch 372 missiles at Saudi Arabia over six years and Riyadh appoints Qatar envoy
Khalifa Haftar (R) at his Benghazi headquarters meets with Jan Kubis (L), head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (AFP)

Libya's eastern commander Khalifa Haftar is planning to escalate military activity in the country before the end of the year in order to disrupt the elections scheduled for 24 December, reported the New Arab newspaper.

The newspaper quoted private sources in Cairo, who said the Egyptian government was not backing Haftar's plan.

“So far, Cairo rejects this plan, and has clearly informed Haftar, during the recent visit of Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel to Benghazi, that it would not allow such steps to be implemented," said one source.

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"[This is] because of the risks it might pose to Egypt’s national security and to western borders again, in light of Haftar's inability to resolve the conflict in his favour militarily."

Estimates by the Egyptian security services indicate that the plan would "lead to the continuation of the turbulent conditions on the western Egyptian borders, the halting of economic efforts aimed at strongly involving Egypt in the reconstruction of Libya and the return of Egyptian labour force in large numbers".

The sources pointed out that the major dispute at present emanated from a failure by Egypt, Turkey and the Libyans to reach an agreement over the extent of Egypt’s participation in the Libyan reconstruction process on the one hand, and the Turkish companies' control over the largest share of the reconstruction projects on the other.

The sources confirmed Ankara's adherence to maintaining the presence of Syrian fighters in Libya and its desire to establish a Turkish military base to secure its interests, which Egypt categorically rejects.

Egyptian courts issue over 1,500 death sentences under Sisi

The total number of death sentences issued following trials of political prisoners in Egypt from 2013 to 2021 reached 1,565, of which 97 have already been carried out, reported Arabi21.

The director of the independent al-Shehab Centre for Human Rights (SHR), Egyptian lawyer Khalaf Bayoumi, confirmed that "about 81 prisoners are expected to be executed at any moment after their sentences have become final", noting that "the Egyptian government has significantly expanded its use of capital punishment in the past six years".

Egyptian politician Ezz el-Koumi said that by issuing these sentences, the authorities intended to send a message domestically and internationally.

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"They want to strengthen the security grip inside [the country] to prevent any move that might take place during the coming period," Koumi said, according to Arabi21.

Koumi added that Sisi was also sending a message to the US and the West, which says “I am willing to crush all supporters of political Islam, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, and I will do what no other regime loyal to you in the region has done before".

Koumi said that "the regime uses death sentences, repression, oppression, the expansion of … prisons and detention centres, silencing opposition voices, preventing demonstrations and other measures considered necessary to protect its existence, perhaps to cover up the failure of the Renaissance Dam negotiations and the disasters that will emanate from this failure”.

Houthis launch 372 missiles at Saudi Arabia in six years

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said that the Houthi militia had launched 372 ballistic missiles and 659 booby-trapped vehicles since the start of the crisis six years ago, reported Al Khaleej Online.

The coalition said that the Houthis had used 75 booby-trapped boats and 205 naval mines and had fired 96,292 projectiles since the beginning of the Yemen crisis, in addition to the missiles. The coalition also claimed it had intercepted at least 17 drones carrying bombs.

Shaya'e al-Zindani, Yemen’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said the numbers showed the Houthis were "a group that does not value or consider peace or international efforts aimed at stopping violence and establishing peace".

"Such criminal steps are aimed at thwarting the efforts of the international community and the endeavours of the Arab coalition countries seeking to preserve Yemenis’ lives and achieve the cohesion of the Yemeni state," he said.

Saudi envoy to Qatar takes up post

Saudi Arabia has appointed an ambassador to Qatar for the first time since 2017, when the blockade on Doha imposed by Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Manama and Cairo began and the ambassadors of the four countries were withdrawn, reported Qatar News Agency (QNA).

The move comes as an articulation of the Gulf reconciliation agreement adopted at the Al-Ula summit in Saudi Arabia.

QNA said that Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani received a copy of the credentials of Prince Mansour bin Khalid bin Farhan Al Saud, Saudi Arabia's new Doha envoy.

The Qatari foreign minister wished the new ambassador success in his new post, assuring him that the "necessary support to advance bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries to achieve closer cooperation in various fields will be provided".

State-owned Egyptian newspaper praises Qatar

Egypt's state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper praised the recent rapprochement between Egypt and Qatar, saying this event "marks the start of a new page based on mutual understanding between the two countries".

The newspaper said in an editorial, entitled "Egypt and Qatar... A New Beginning", that there was a strong political will on the part of the two countries to turn the page on the past and start a new phase exploring prospects for cooperation and consultation.

The newspaper referred to the recent meeting between Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and highlighted the official invitation forwarded by Egypt to the emir to visit Cairo as soon as possible.