FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators hold flag during anti government protests in Algiers, Algeria April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina
June 17, 2019
By Lamine Chikhi
HAIZER, Algeria (Reuters) – While tens of thousands of Algerians have been gathering for four months in the capital to demand sweeping political reforms, former fighters who led the last confrontation with the establishment have been warning people not to rock the boat.
In the 1990s, they drove an uprising against the military after it canceled a landmark multiparty election that Islamists were poised to win. This time they say protests could bring a repeat of the chaos and bloodshed their actions unleashed.
“I deeply regret what happened in the 1990s,” once such fighter, Sheikh Yahya, said at his home in Haizer, a village in the Kabyle mountains 120 km (75 miles) east of the capital Algiers where he now works as a butcher.
“This is why I will never participate in any action that might end up violent.”
Some 200,000 people died in Algeria’s decade-long civil war, leaving many Algerians fearful of radical change now that longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has given into the pressure from the streets and stepped down.
Following Bouteflika’s departure in April, the protesters have been pressing for the exit of the entire elite in control since the North African country’s independence from France in 1962 – the same cause the jihadists took up arms for in 1991.
But Yahya and other former jihadists now support the army and other security forces, the strongest part of that elite. It also includes business tycoons and former independence fighters in Algeria’s ruling FLN party as well as labor unions in a state-dominated economy sustained by oil and gas production.
The ex-fighters are Salafists, a literalist Sunni school of Islam whose adherents range from the radical jihadists of Islamic State to an overwhelming majority which shies away from politics.
Salafi influence in Algeria is far wider than their numbers – an estimated one in 40 people – would suggest, analysts say. This makes their anti-protest messages a significant counterweight to calls for radical change.
“Algeria has around 18,000 mosques, most of them are under Salafi influence,” said political analyst Mohamed Mouloudi. One Salafi cleric has a website with a million followers.
By contrast leading Sufis, a more inclusive Sunni school that most Algerians belong to, have kept a low profile since the ouster of Bouteflika, their most high-profile member.
Salafists are social conservatives heavily influenced by Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabis. They reject both political Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, which led Egypt in a 2012-2013 interlude from military-backed rule, as well as Western influence – from clothing to political systems.
They were part of the reason the 2011 Arab Spring pro-democracy movement bypassed Algeria, after Sheikh Ali Ferkous, a Salafi icon, declared “unrest is forbidden in Islam”, and they continue to argue that stability is paramount.
MILITARY CHIEF, CONSERVATIVE LEADER
The Army chief, Lieutenant-General Ahmed Gaed Salah, played a key role in toppling Bouteflika by saying the president’s poor health made him unfit for office.
Upper House Chairman Abdelkader Bensalah became interim president but is now under pressure from demonstrators to quit, due to his links with Bouteflika and pledge on June 6 to stay in office until elections, which have been postponed indefinitely.
A group of protesters and some Salafi clerics have suggested Bensalah hands over to former conservative minister Ahmed Taleb Ibrahimi, son of well-known cleric Bachir Ibrahimi who played a role in the independence war against France from 1954 to 1962.
Ahmed Taleb Ibrahimi is a fierce opponent of Bouteflika, who did not allow him to set up a political party. Ibrahimi, 87, has promised to end of what he called “dirty money”, referring to corruption under Bouteflika, and introduce transparency.
“Ibrahimi is one of the rare clean politicians in Algeria who can reconcile the youth with politics. We believe he can play a very positive role,” said Seif Islam Benatia, a dentist prominent among protesters who encompass a wide array of views.
Yahya, who spoke to Reuters with two of his fellow former fighters Akli and Mohamed sitting alongside, also supports Ibrahimi, as well as army chief Salah. “We want stability to remain,” he said.
Their village lies in what was known in the 90s as the “triangle of death” — the flashpoint of the civil war, which the army said it was fighting to prevent Taliban-style rule. The mountains with its caves and valleys were ideal hiding ground for fighters to store arms and prepare ambushes on the army.
Yahya gave up the fight in 2006 after accepting amnesty from Bouteflika and persuaded others to make peace with the state.
Algeria’s welfare state rewarded him with $6,000 in aid to build a modest house where the ground floor serves as his poultry butchery. Two sons got jobs at state firms — a livelihood they fear losing if chaos erupts.
“GIFT FROM GOD”
Salafists have been quietly working to influence society, identifiable here, as elsewhere, by their long beards, white robes and short trousers emulating the Prophet Mohammad.
Their clout can be seen in Haizer, where Yahya’s house is a gathering point for youth, neighbors and other ex-fighters he persuaded to lay down arms.
“Marches, protests, unrest and all the tools used in democracies to topple leaders are illicit in Islam,” Yahya said.
Such messages resonate in Algeria, analysts say, because many people fear protracted unrest would undermine a state that provides jobs, health insurance and housing.
They also undermine Islamist political parties, which have struggled since the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), which almost took power in 1991, was banned the following year.
“Salafi are influential because they focus on the youth, and society,” Mouloudi told Reuters. “Political Islam’s leaders are divided, fragmented and hold little influence politically.”
In Algiers, some of the young protesters, who include many women and some children, oppose any kind of Islamist takeover.
“We want radical change, but I don’t want to end up with Islamists ruling the country,” said Nadia Beigacem, 21, who studies English at Algiers University and does not wear a veil. “Western democracy is my model, not the Saudi Arabian model.”
Rather than Ibrahimi, she wanted a young Algerian as leader, like former U.S. President Barack Obama or French President Emmanuel Macron. “We are a young nation,” she said.
Salafist leader Ferkous has not commented on recent protests but other followers have rejected them. “What is forbidden remains forbidden, even if everyone does it,” said Mohamed Al-Habib, a prominent Salafist in a video message.
The weekly Friday protests have been continuing, but numbers have declined in recent weeks, indicating the resignation of Bouteflika and prosecution of his younger brother and closest former advisor Said and others have slowed their momentum.
“After chaos and 200,000 people killed, we now have peace and stability, this is a gift from God,” Yahya said.
“Let’s preserve it.”
(Editing by Ulf Laessing and Philippa Fletcher)
The Trump administration is doing just about everything it can to slow the flood of undocumented Mexicans and Central Americans coming to the U.S. and claiming asylum. But alleviating our growing border crisis is impossible unless Congress changes our immigration laws.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was right when he said Tuesday during a congressional hearing on border security that there is “absolutely no justification whatsoever for Congress to sit on the sidelines and watch as this crisis continues to unfold.” The emergency on the border is “getting worse and worse as Congress sits on its hands and does absolutely nothing” to help.
The border pandemonium is literally fatal. Since December, six migrants have died while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Five were children. This isn’t the fault of the Trump administration’s policies that aim to stanch the stream of illegal immigrants. It’s the result of a border patrol collapsing under the weight of hundreds of thousands of migrants making a dangerous and debilitating journey to the U.S. and needing urgent medical care as soon as they arrive.
In fiscal 2018, border agents apprehended nearly 106,000 “family units,” meaning families that made their way illegally onto U.S. soil and, more often than not, claimed asylum. We’re only halfway through this year, and that number has tripled to more than 316,000.
Why is this happening? It is because everyone south of the border knows that to secure indefinite legal protection to stay in the U.S., they need simply to arrive with children, who by law must not be detained for more than 20 days. When the child is released by border patrol, as it inevitably will be, so too is the person who came with them. That’s why the number of apprehensions of supposed families dwarfs apprehensions of single adults.
News media and Trump’s critics blame administration cruelty for the crisis. They’ve started referring to detention centers as “concentration camps” (see P.xx). But the crisis is caused by our nonsensical asylum laws, which are well intentioned but incapable of dealing with the sort of massive run on the border we’re seeing today. Our laws act as a magnet for illegal immigrants, encouraging migrants to make dangerous journeys with children, across Mexico, and enter our country without documentation.
Asylum claims at the border are rising rapidly. The vast majority of migrants who claim asylum, 90%, pass a first screening. They’re ordered to show up at court on a specified date that, because of a backlog of about a million cases, may be five years later. In that time, they’re allowed to work legally within the U.S. Even so, some 40% don’t show up for their court hearings, having disappeared into the country, perhaps forever.
Kevin McAleenan, acting homeland security secretary, is calling for reform, so the asylum process can no longer be abused by migrants who aren’t really fleeing persecution in their own countries but are simply looking for a better way of life in the biggest economy in the world. That’s the lure of the United States. Congress should raise the bar for who can qualify for asylum, McAleenan argues, and make it much easier to remove people quickly if they don’t meet the standard.
Asylum laws are to provide a safe haven to people who arrive at our door with a well-founded fear of persecution. If you’re genuinely fleeing drug gangs out to kill you and your family in Mexico or Canada, you should be let in. If you are persecuted by Iran and can get a flight to America, this country should grant you asylum and keep you safe.
But our crisis is from South American and Central American migrants fleeing El Salvador or Venezuela and merely passing through Mexico. Most arrivals at our southern border are not Mexicans.
The question is, why didn’t they stop in Mexico? And why should they become this country’s responsibility? There are many good reasons to prefer the U.S. to Mexico — more jobs, more freedom, more welfare — but none of these are remotely valid reasons to grant asylum.
These are simple economic migrants, encouraged by massive loopholes in the law and the fecklessness of a Congress unwilling to doing anything about them. Trump has leaned on Mexico to absorb more of them, and that seems to be working. But for a lasting reform, Congress needs to change the law.
More border security, which Democrats say implausibly that they want, and fewer detained migrants: Shouldn’t everyone jump to these reforms?
The problem is that House Democrats have little political incentive to work with Republicans and the White House on any measure that would reduce the flow of illegal immigrants. Democrats are loath to cooperate with the GOP while they, at the same time, hope to drag Trump down to defeat in the 2020 election. It is certainly true that most Democrats are at best muddled on the immigration question and at worst fully in favor of opening the southern border to anyone who wants to come into the country.
But the party of the Left cannot deny that we have a crisis at the southern border. If Democrats are honest, they’ll admit it’s caused by our asylum laws, and they will help fix them.
FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – November 23, 2018 McLaren’s Fernando Alonso during practice REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
June 17, 2019
LE MANS, France (Reuters) – Double Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso struck lucky with a second successive victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours race on Sunday with Toyota team mates Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi.
The number eight car crew, who were set for second until late drama, were also crowned world endurance champions with Nakajima driving the final stint and becoming the first Japanese to win a global FIA-sanctioned series.
Toyota’s number seven TS050 hybrid, driven by Britain’s Mike Conway, Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi and Argentina’s Jose Maria Lopez, had a two-minute advantage before a puncture shattered their hopes with an hour to go.
The team changed the wrong tire, due to a sensor issue, meaning the car had to limp around and pit again before rejoining in second place in a one-two finish for the Japanese manufacturer.
The winning margin, after 385 laps of the Sarthe circuit in the 87th edition of a race watched by a crowd of 252,000, came down to 16.972 seconds.
Alonso, 37, recognized fortune had played a big part in completing the unprecedented feat of winning Le Mans twice in one ‘super-season’, a one-off scheduled to readjust the calendar so it finishes with the endurance classic in future.
“The main goal this weekend was to win the championship,” the Spaniard, who won his Formula One titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, told Eurosport television.
“I think car seven was quicker than us for 24 hours, they really deserved the victory but today the luck decided that we have to take the trophy.
“Luck sometimes plays an important part in motorsport and today we feel extremely lucky and maybe we don’t deserve it but we take it,” added the former Ferrari and McLaren driver who left Formula One last year.
“The world championship feels right at this moment.”
The number eight crew had needed only a top-seven finish to be sure of the title.
Alonso’s former McLaren Formula One team mate Stoffel Vandoorne, a Le Mans rookie, joined him on the podium in the third-placed number 11 SMP Racing BR Engineering car shared with Russians Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin.
That non-hybrid car finished seven laps off the pace.
The two Toyota TS050 hybrids had started first and second, with the number seven car leading but with the gap repeatedly narrowed by safety car periods.
Toyota remained in control throughout, with only the risk of mechanical failure or driver error to worry about in a top LMP1 category they have dominated as the sole major manufacturer.
“We wanted to make it really boring, but that didn’t happen,” said Toyota team boss Rob Leupen.
“We got into a situation where we caught a puncture at the end, and it hurts a lot that the team didn’t respond well to that.”
The title was the second of Buemi’s endurance career, after a first in 2014, and an addition to the all-electric Formula E crown the Swiss won in 2015-16.
Alonso, a two-time winner of the Monaco Grand Prix, is now leaving the series and hoping to become only the second driver after the late Briton Graham Hill to complete the so-called ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’.
The Spaniard needs to win the Indianapolis 500 to complete that, a race he failed to qualify for this year after leading for 27 laps on his debut in 2017.
The racing was punctuated by crashes, with Venezuelan former F1 driver Pastor Maldonado hitting the barriers at Tertre Rouge in the number 31 Dragonspeed LMP2 after daybreak and bringing out the safety car.
Before that, the number 17 SMP spun out of third place in the early hours with Russian Egor Orudzhev at the wheel.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Ian Chadband)
A helmet and messages of support for the protest against a proposed extradition bill, are seen displayed early morning in Hong Kong, China June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
June 17, 2019
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s political crisis enters its second week on Monday as uncertainty mounts over the fate of government leader Carrie Lam and an extradition bill she postponed at the weekend.
Organizers said almost 2 million protesters turned out on Sunday to demand that Lam step down in what is becoming the most significant challenge to China’s relationship with the territory since it was handed back by Britain 22 years ago.
“Her government cannot be an effective government, and will have much, much, much difficulties to carry on,” veteran Democratic Party legislator James To told government-funded broadcaster RTHK.
“I believe the central people’s government will accept her resignation.”
Opposition politicians are echoing marchers’ calls for both Lam and the law to go, even though she apologized for how her government handled the draft bill, which would allow suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial for the first time.
While Lam delayed the bill, it has yet to be completely shelved despite broad local and international concern.
“We cannot accept her apology, it doesn’t remove all our threats,” said social worker Brian Chau, who was among several hundred protesters who stayed overnight in the Admiralty district around the government headquarters and legislature.
Some cleared away rubbish left after the vast but peaceful march, while others sang ‘Hallelujah’, a gospel song that has become of a feature of Hong Kong’s protests against Lam.
A smattering of uniformed police stood by, without riot equipment, in a contrast to the recent violent skirmishes between police and protesters.
The headquarters will remain closed on Monday, the government said.
(Reporting by Marius Zaharia, John Ruwitch, Farah Master and Greg Torode; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
FILE PHOTO: Athletics – Diamond League – Shanghai – Shanghai Stadium, Shanghai, China – May 18, 2019 Noah Lyles of the U.S. celebrates winning the Men’s 100m REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
June 17, 2019
(Reuters) – Noah Lyles overcame an apparent false start to run the fourth-fastest 150 meters of all time on a wet elevated straightaway in Boston on Sunday.
After television footage showed the world and Olympic 200m favorite leaving the starting blocks early, Lyles was given a second chance and romped to a personal best 14.69 seconds in the Adidas Boost Boston Games.
Retired Jamaican Usain Bolt, the man Lyles would like to succeed in the Olympic 200m, holds the world best of 14.35 seconds in the infrequently run event.
“What did the guy at the start say? Green card. Then it was a green card,” Lyles said after officials told NBC Sports there was no conclusive evidence that the star of the meeting had false started.
But four-time Olympic sprint medalist Ato Boldon, the network’s analyst, disagreed. “In any other meet, Noah is out of this race,” he said.
Once the red-clad Lyles got moving in the restart, there was no stopping him as he left British runnerup Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake 0.41 seconds in his wake.
The United States has not won an Olympic medal in the men’s 200m since 2008 and Lyles is aiming to change that.
“I made it my mission,” said the talented sprinter with Bolt-like showmanship. “We are not out of this. We are coming back.”
His goal is gold in both September’s world championships in Doha and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Despite the wet conditions, Bahamian Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Britain’s 100m European champion Zharnel Hughes and South African sprinter Akani Simbine had impressive performances.
Miller-Uibo clocked 16.37 seconds, a mere 0.14 off her world best in the women’s 150m.
Hughes claimed the 200m straightaway race in 20.00 seconds and Commonwealth Games winner Simbine clocked 9.92 seconds in the 100m.
The women’s 100m went to world 60m indoor champion Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast in 11.09 seconds with world outdoor gold medalist Tori Bowie, who is coming back from injuries, third in 11.22.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Ian Ransom)
FILE PHOTO: Athletics – Diamond League – Rome – Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy – June 6, 2019 Authorised Neutral Athlete Sergey Shubenkov after the Men’s 110M Hurdles REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini/File Photo
June 16, 2019
RABAT (Reuters) – World and Olympic 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod fell before the finish to allow Sergey Shubenkov to win the latest dramatic installment in their rivalry at the Diamond League meeting in Rabat on Sunday.
Russian Shubenkov came from behind to catch McLeod before the last hurdle but was tripped just ahead of the finish by the stumbling Jamaican while still somehow managing to fall forward over the line first to claim victory in 13.12 seconds.
McLeod’s tumble meant he ended up fifth as the 28-year-old Shubenkov won an early morale booster ahead of one of the most anticipated clashes at the World Championships in Doha in September.
Sprinter Andre de Grasse seemed to have put last year’s injuries and illness woes behind him with a strong late burst that left Turkish world champion Ramil Guliyev trailing in the 200m in another indicator of potential drama to come in Qatar.
Yet it was not a result that entirely satisfied the Canadian, who won in 20.19 sec.
“I was grateful for the victory but not happy with the time. I wanted a sub-20 seconds. But it’s a long process,” said De Grasse.
“I’m not yet fully healthy and still have a lot of work to do to be really back in shape. But I have time before the World Championship.”
With Caster Semenya not participating following a war of words over her late invitation to compete in the Moroccan meet, the women’s 800 meters was won by Kenyan Nelly Jepkosgei, in one minute 59.50 seconds.
But the best women’s performance came in the 1500 meters where world record holder Genzebe Dibaba, of Ethiopia, ran the fastest time of the year to hold off her Dutch rival Sifan Hassan and win in 3:55.47.
The 30-year-old Nigerian, Blessing Okagbare, was a surprise victor in the women’s 100m in 11.05sec, finishing ahead of Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou with Dafne Schippers, a medalist at the last two world championships, only finishing fifth.
Salwa Eid Naser, of Bahrain, held off Niger’s exciting youngster Aminatou Seyni to win the women’s 400m for her third Diamond League triumph this year, in a season’s best 50.13.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; editing by Ian Chadband)
FILE PHOTO: A personnel of the National Migration Institute (INM) checks passenger’s ID as a member of the Military Police keeps watch at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Tapachula, in Chiapas state, Mexico June 6, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Torres/File Photo
June 16, 2019
By Roberto Ramirez
TAPACHULA, Mexico (Reuters) – Mexican officials detained nearly 800 undocumented migrants on Saturday, the government said, in one of the biggest swoops against illegal immigration in recent months, as members of the National Guard began patrolling the southern border.
Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) said in a statement late on Saturday that 791 foreign nationals were found in four trucks stopped in the eastern state of Veracruz, confirming earlier reports about a mass detention.
The apprehension came as Mexico steps up efforts to reduce a surge of migrants toward the U.S. border under pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump, who vowed to hit Mexican goods with tariffs if Mexico does not do more to stem illegal immigration.
As part of those efforts, Mexico has pledged to deploy 6,000 National Guard members along its border with Guatemala.
Although there have been few signs of that deployment so far, a Reuters reporter near the border in Tapachula this weekend saw a handful of security officials wearing National Guard insignia and spoke to others in military outfits who said they were part of the guard.
Mexico made a deal on June 7 with the United States to avert the tariffs, setting the clock ticking on a 45-day period for the Mexican government to make palpable progress in reducing the numbers of people trying to cross the U.S. border illegally.
There has been a jump in apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border this year, angering Trump, who has made reducing illegal immigration one of his signature policy pledges.
Most of those caught attempting to enter the United States are people fleeing poverty and violence in three troubled Central American nations, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Mexico’s decision to tighten its border and respond to Trump’s threats has caused tensions within the government, and on Friday, the head of the INM, Tonatiuh Guillen, resigned.
He was replaced by Francisco Garduno, who had previously served as the head of Mexico’s prison system.
(Reporting by by Roberto Ramirez in Tapachula and Dave Graham in Mexico City; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Sonya Hepinstall)
FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister Fayez Mustafa Al-Sarraj of Libya speaks during a high-level meeting on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants at the United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo
June 16, 2019
By Ulf Laessing
TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj said on Sunday he was not prepared to sit down with eastern commander Khalifa Haftar to negotiate an end to the two-month offensive against Tripoli.
His comments to Reuters suggest low prospects for a ceasefire soon in the battle for Libya’s coastal capital, where Serraj and his administration are based.
In the latest turmoil since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) force has been unable to take Tripoli despite fighting that has caused havoc in southern suburbs and displaced tens of thousands of people.
“I will not sit down again with this person because what he has done in past years shows he won’t be a partner in the political process,” the 59-year-old Serraj said in an interview at his wood-panelled office in central Tripoli.
The longest-serving in a succession of Tripoli-based prime ministers since 2011, Serraj has met Haftar, a 75-year-old former general in Gaddafi’s army, six times in the past few years.
The last meeting was in February in Abu Dhabi as foreign powers sought to broker a power-sharing deal between the rival eastern and western administrations.
“He was only trying to gain time,” Serraj said, pointing out that his rival had sent planes to bomb Tripoli.
Serraj struck a defiant tone, saying his troops, from armed groups in western cities, would continue to fend off Haftar, whom he views as a would-be dictator like Gaddafi.
“Our primary military goal is to defend Tripoli,” he said. “In the coming days there will be positive news … progress,” he said, without giving further details.
Calls from abroad for a ceasefire have fallen on deaf ears, particularly given diplomatic divisions over Libya.
Egypt and the United Arab Emirates back Haftar and have armed him since 2014 as a perceived bastion against Islamists, according to U.N reports. Haftar depicts himself as the man to reunite Libya and combat jihadists.
Most Western countries work with Serraj and Turkey recently sent him arms. France and other countries have proposed an unconditional ceasefire – without putting real pressure on Haftar – which would allow his troops to stay in western Libya.
But Serraj’s camp has rejected that. “You cannot ask the person defending himself to cease fire,” he said.
He also earlier on Sunday proposed a national conference to prepare for elections by year-end. “Libyans should meet to overcome this struggle for power,” Serraj said.
The United Nations – which had proposed its own such forum just before the war – and the European Union welcomed the idea. But eastern lawmakers allied to Haftar predictably rejected it.
The prime minister said he was concerned the OPEC member’s oil facilities could become embroiled in the conflict.
Libya produces around 1.25 million barrels a day, the Tripoli-based economy minister told Reuters last week.
“For us, it is very important that oil production continues,” he said. “But there are dangers coming from the other side which has turned ports into military positions.”
State oil firm NOC has repeatedly warned its facilities could become dragged into the conflict. Last week, state oil firm NOC accused an LNA commander of arriving with 80 soldiers at the eastern oil port of Ras Lanuf.
The LNA controls all major oilfields and most ports.
Serraj said his forces would avoid attacking any oil facilities even if the LNA was stationed there.
The war was hurting Libya’s development and basic services as funding had to be diverted to equip troops and treat the wounded, he said. “There could be a (national power) blackout anytime,” he said.
As well as threatening to disrupt oil supplies, there are fears the conflict will increase migration across the Mediterranean to Europe and encourage jihadists to exploit the chaos.
(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel in Brussels; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)