News and Views [ December 2004 ]

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Friday, 31 December, 2004: The U. S. Thursday said Libya remains on its list of state sponsors of terrorism despite an improvement in bilateral relations. The State Department's travel warning advised Americans to exercise caution while traveling in Libya. The U.S. lifted restrictions on the use of U.S. passports for travel to Libya in Feb. 2004 after Tripoli abandoned its program for WMD. "Although Libya appears to have curtailed its support for int'l terrorism, it may maintain residual contacts with some of its former terrorist clients," the State Department warned. [UPI]
Friday, 31 December, 2004: The Libyan Embassy in Accra is collaborating with a number of Ghanaian organizations to employ skilled Ghanaians in Libya. The initial beneficiaries are people in the catering field, according to a press release signed by the Consular and Commercial Attache of the Libyan Embassy. Fathi Shkendah of the Embassy said, "the Bureau is working with several private companies to employ Ghanaian citizens to offer their services in Libya." [GHP]
Friday, 31 December, 2004: Bulgaria remains adamant in its refusal to pay indemnities for the freedom of the Bulgarian defendants in Lybia's HIV trial. Libya has repeatedly raised the issue, but we rule out paying compensations to Tripoli for people who are innocent, Foreign Minister Solomon Passy told private TV channel bTV. [SNA]

Thursday, 30 December, 2004: The [Libyan] Secretariat of the General Peoples Committee (SGPC) held Wednesday its 37th meeting for 2004 ... The SGPC reviewed the consequences of the natural disaster that struck a number of Asian countries. The SGPC approved 2 million dollars in aid, as a first urgent humanitarian aid to the countries afflicted by the natural disaster. [JANA]
Thursday, 30 December, 2004: A Benghazi court postponed on Wednesday the hearing of one of two civil indemnity claims, filed by the families of infected Libyan children in the HIV trial against the Bulgarian medics. Relatives of two twin sisters died of AIDS, are demanding 10 million Libyan dinars. Bulgaria's consul to Libya Veselin Pavlov attended the court session, where the medics were represented by Libyan lawyer Osman Bizanti. The Bulgarian nurses, who are locked up at the Judeyda prison in Tripoli, were not transported to Benghazi to attend the hearing. [SNA]
Thursday, 30 December, 2004: Forex Cross Rates (updated 15:44 GMT 29 December 2004) : Libyan Dinar (LYD) per: US Dollar 1.29950, Euro 1.76277, Pound Sterling 2.48880, Japanese Yen 80.19238, Swiss Franc 1.14292, Year High 1.31998, Year Low 1.20550. [Zawya]
Thursday, 30 December, 2004: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi received Tuesday evening Tunisian Prime Minister, Mohamed al-Ghanoshi, currently participating in the bi-annual meeting of the High Libyan-Tunisian Committee. The Tunisian Prime Minister conveyed to the leader, a letter from President Zain al-Abdeen Ben Ali of Tunisia related to the progress of the Arab Magharb Union and a number of regional and international issues of common interest. [JANA]
Thursday, 30 December, 2004: A U.S. jet registered to a ghost company whisks terror suspects to countries that use torture, The Washington Post reported Monday. The Gulfstream V turbojet has been seen at U.S. military bases around the world, often loading up hooded and shackled suspects and delivering them to countries known to use torture. The Post investigated the ownership of the jet, which has been spotted in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan. [The China Post]
Thursday, 30 December, 2004: New allegations made on Sunday by the New York Times say that Dr A.Q. Khan sold $100 million worth of nuclear gear to Libya and as "sweetener" included blueprints for a 10-kiloton nuclear bomb. The report says intelligence officials had watched Dr Khan, "for years", though it fails to say why they waits, "for years", before exposing his alleged network. US experts were unsure as to who else had those designs besides Libya. They were not certain if the designs had also been passed on to Iran, Syria or al Qaeda. [Daily Times]
Thursday, 30 December, 2004: The Libyan government has joined the bandwagon in the FUFA [Federation of Uganda Football Associations] campaigns to support Luwero delegate in the Fufa assembly Hajji Badru Sebyala. Sebyala is one of the candidates that have shown interest in the forthcoming polls to unseat incumbent Denis Obua. The polls are set for Feb. 5 at the Int'l Center in Kampala. Sebyalaĺs campaign Manager Fred Sekabembe told The Monitor that the Libyan government is set to inject between $200,000 to $300,000 to support Sebyala. [The Monitor]
Thursday, 30 December, 2004: Libya will host an inter-Sudanese forum on the conflict in Darfur next month which is expected to include representatives of both rebels and Sudan's government, a rebel official said Wednesday. The Tripoli meeting, called by Libyan leader Qadhafi, will take place on January 1 and 2, 2005. Delegations from both the JEM and the other main rebel movement in Darfur, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), will take part along with Sudanese from Darfur and several foreign countries, he told reporters in Tripoli. [AFP]
Thursday, 30 December, 2004: The U.S. Treasury Department said Tuesday it is allowing special foreign tax credits from Libya following easing of U.S. sanctions on the country. The Bush administration in April lifted most economic sanctions on Libya after it renounced its WMD programs, although the country remains on the State Department's list of sponsors of terrorism. In a press release, the Treasury Department said a waiver by President Bush earlier this month allows credits to be claimed against U.S. income tax for taxes paid in Libya. [Dow Jones]

Wednesday, 29 December, 2004: The United States Federal Register published information on the following: ... the new designation of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) ... The LIFG emerged in 1995 among Libyans who had fought against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Originally organized to overthrow the Qadhafi regime and install a Shari'a-based government, the LIFG has subsequently embraced the global jihadist agenda of al-Qaida. Its leadership has had a close association with al-Qaida. Some senior members of LIFG are believed to be or have belonged to al-Qaida's senior command structure, and now are part of the support network of the broader international jihadist movement. The LIFG constitutes the most serious threat to U.S. interests and personnel in Libya. [US State Dept.]
Wednesday, 29 December, 2004: A 27 year old woman gave birth to conjoined twins at Assoror clinic in Libya. The male babies, weighing 4 kg, are joined at the stomach and chest. It is believed to be one of the rarest cases of conjoined twins in Libya. Doctors at the clinic said that the twins and their mother are in good health. Preparations are underway to conduct a rare operation to separate 72-hour-old conjoined twins. Diagnoses show that the twins are joint at the Liver and doctors are still assessing whether separation can be done inside the digestive system. [LJBC]
Wednesday, 29 December, 2004: Pakistan is not among the countries that grant political rights and civil liberties to their citizens, says a report released this week by a Washington-based human rights organization, the Freedom House. Of the 49 countries rated 'Not Free', 19 received the worst possible numerical rating (7) for political rights. The broadest restrictions on political activity take place in Belarus, Burma, Cuba, China, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Haiti, Iraq, Laos, Libya, N. Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, ... Vietnam and Zimbabwe. [The Dawn]
Wednesday, 29 December, 2004: A hacker who described himself as a Saudi sympathiser broke into an official Web site of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and offered its sale for $US100,000. For a few hours the "Qadhafi is Speaking" site had only the English words, "Domain For Sale", the asking price, and the hacker's email address. The site was restored later in the day. In an interview via email, the 27-year-old hacker - who refused to give a name or a nationality - told AAP that he found "many lies and many things (that are) not related to Arabs or Islam" on the site. On Monday, the Saudi newspaper al-Jazirah reported that the "Gadhafi is Speaking" site had been hacked over the weekend. It said a photo of the Libyan leader had been replaced with one of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, accompanied by the words, "Would love to die, for my country to live." In the email interview, the hacker said he had not done that job. [AAP]
Wednesday, 29 December, 2004: A meeting of Arab foreign ministers scheduled for next month will be largely devoted to settling a dispute between Libya and Saudi Arabia. Diplomatic sources said Tuesday Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mousa is deeply involved in mediation efforts and will be visiting Riyadh soon to explore the chances of containing the dispute, which erupted after Saudi Arabia accused Libya of conspiring to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. "Mousa will seek an end to the ongoing war of words between the two Arab countries," the sources said. Riyadh recalled its ambassador from Tripoli last week and evicted the Libyan envoy in Saudi after making the accusations against Libya. [UPI]
Wednesday, 29 December, 2004: Saudi Arabia's official press Tuesday accused Libyan leader Qadhafi of terrorism, in an on-going war of words between the two countries. The daily al-Yom urged the international community to "quell Qadhafi's practices and terrorist activities," in reference to an alleged Libyan conspiracy to assassinate Crown Prince Abdullah. "Deterring Qadhafi has become an international request, which should be fulfilled without undermining the sovereignty of the Libyan people, who have endured a lot as a result of their leader's expensive adventures," the paper said. The daily al-Nadwa cautioned, "The conspiracy woven by the lunatic of Libya against the Saudi Crown Prince is a very dangerous matter that could not be settled lightly, as were the crimes committed by Qadhafi in the past, including Lockerbie." [UPI]

NYT: For A Critic, Libya's Nascent Openness Doesn't Apply

Tuesday, 28 December, 2004: Few people dare cross the aging army colonel who runs this repressive oil patch, but Fathi al-Jahmi (photo) is one. Interviewed on an Arabic satellite television station shortly after his release from prison in March, Mr. Jahmi, a balding, grandfatherly engineer and longtime critic of the government, minced no words, calling Col. Qadhafi a war criminal and a terrorist. Mr. Jahmi was arrested again the next day and has not been heard from since. In October 2002, he took the microphone at a Basic People's Conference in Tripoli. Mr. Jahmi called for free elections, for a free press and for abandoning "The Green Book". He was arrested on charges of defaming Qadhafi and inciting domestic conflicts, and sentenced to seven years in prison. He is not alone. Human rights organizations and Libyan dissident groups say dozens of Qadhafi critics are languishing behind bars, including more than 80 university professors who have called for democracy and the rule of law. Some are reported to be on death row. [The New York Times] click here for more details
Tuesday, 28 December, 2004: Libya's ambassador to Saudi Arabia was due to return home Monday after receiving an official request to leave Saudi territory. Mohammed al-Gashat "received on Sunday a written memorandum as well as a verbal request to leave immediately within the next 24 hours," diplomatic sources said. "The Libyan ambassador is actually packing and preparing to leave any minute," the sources added. Last week the Saudi government recalled its ambassador to Libya, Mohammed al-Tajissi, after deciding to evict the Libyan ambassador from Riyadh. The Saudi government was protesting an alleged Libyan conspiracy to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. [UPI]
Tuesday, 28 December, 2004: The Secretary of the General People's Congress (GPC) has met with the Chairman of the Belgian Parliament, Herman De Crour, who arrived on Sunday for a four day visit to Libya. Co-operation between the GPC and the Belgian Parliament, and ways to promote and consolidate them were discussed in the meeting. [LJBC]
Tuesday, 28 December, 2004: Korea Express (KE), the nation's largest logistics firm, signed a formal agreement with the Libyan government on Monday to take over the remaining construction for the world's biggest waterway project, the company said. Korea Express said the Libyan government agreed to waive much of KE's debt obligation and payment guarantees that resulted from a breach of contract by its parent company, Dong Ah Construction Industrial. "The Libyan government and Korea Express settled the delay penalty for the second phase of the project at $80 million from the original $452 million," a KE official said. The Libyan government in 2001 filed lawsuits against Dong Ah, seeking compensation of $1.3 billion for damages and construction delays caused by the Korean contractor during its work on the project. [The Korea Times]

Monday, 27 December, 2004: The Libyan ambassador in Saudi Arabia was still in Riyadh Sunday, four days after the kingdom announced it was expelling him over an alleged assassination plot by Tripoli, embassy staff said. Riyadh's decision has sparked a furious war of words with Tripoli, which has denied any role in an alleged plan to kill Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz. Staff at the Libyan diplomatic mission said that ambassador Mohammed Saeed al-Qashat was still in the Saudi capital but the envoy himself was not reachable for comment. Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it had recalled its ambassador from Libya and would expel the Libyan envoy in Riyadh, a move that triggered indignation in Tripoli. [AFP]
Monday, 27 December, 2004: The Saudi press took a swipe Thursday at Libyan leader Qadhafi (photo) over Tripoli's alleged role in a plot to assassinate the Saudi crown prince. One newspaper described Qadhafi as "mad" and his regime as "stupid" after Riyadh announced Wednesday it had recalled its ambassador from Libya and would expel the Libyan envoy. Okaz newspaper welcomed the move, saying it is "about time to say to the stupid Libyan regime; stop, your foolish behavior has become unbearable and your endless conspiracies have gone beyond the limits of patience." Al-Watan newspaper meanwhile said: "Oppression as well as the wasting of resources and inconsistency in politics and thoughts, which reach ... madness, are the highlights of ... Qadhafi's rule". [AFP]
Monday, 27 December, 2004: Thirty seven publishing houses, research centers and universities, with more than three thousand titles, are taking part in Libya book fair which commenced at Tripoli International Fair on Saturday. [LJBC]
Monday, 27 December, 2004: The Qatari-Libyan joint committee held in Tripoli today its second meeting co-chaired by Qatar's Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy and Industry Abdullah Al Attiyah and Libyan Minister of Energy Dr Fathi bin Shatwan. [QNA]

Sunday, 26 December, 2004: The United Nations won't be able to launch a trial against Libya for the torture of the five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death in Libya. Article 20 of UN Convention relates to confirmed systematical torture cases and doesn't apply for the case of the Bulgarian women, Krassimir Kanev, chair of the Bulgarian Helsinki committee, said. Kanev's comment came a day after Bulgaria's Chief Prosecutor Nikola Filchev sent a letter to Foreign Minister Solomon Passy urging him to approach the UN Commission against Torture over the case with Bulgarian medics sentenced to death in Libya. [Novinite]
Sunday, 26 December, 2004: The Arab League (AL) is trying to mediate in a dispute among two of its members caused by accusations Libya plotted an assassination attempt on the Saudi crown prince, AL's chief said. Saudi Arabia announced Wednesday it was withdrawing its ambassador to Libya and asking the Libyan ambassador to leave the Kingdom in response to accusations of a plot against prince Abdullah first made months ago by the US. Amr Moussa said that his aides met separately with Libyan and Saudi representatives to the AL to "listen to each country's position and asked each to provide the AL with all the information necessary about the crisis." [AP]
Sunday, 26 December, 2004: Belarus and Libya have produced a document on the establishment of a joint Belarusian-Libyan energy company. The proposal was the result of talks at the second session of the Belarus and Libya joint commission for economic, trade, scientific and technical cooperation. Belarus' foreign minister, Syarhey Martynaw, said of the possible creation of a joint venture for electricity generation in Libya: "There is interest in Libya in Belarus' participation in the exploration and exploitation of natural resources in Benghazi and Gharyan." [PEI]
Sunday, 26 December, 2004: Bulgaria should not pay compensations for the release of the sentenced Bulgarian nurses in Libya. Such an act would mean that Bulgaria considers them guilty. This is the opinion of 1,174 people, or 46.29%, out of the total of 2,536 respondents in a poll of FOCUS News Agency. According to 41.4% of the respondents, paying compensations would mean that Libya blackmails Bulgaria. 129 people, or 5.09% think that Bulgaria should pay because everything possible should be done to save the lives of the sentenced Bulgarian nurses. [FIA]
Sunday, 26 December, 2004: The Bulgarian lawyers in the AIDS case will go to Libya in January to meet with the five sentenced Bulgarian nurses and Dr. Zdravko Georgiev, who has been released from prison and expects to receive an exit visa, announced Bulgarian Minister of Justice Anton Stankov, reported BNR. Minister Stankov added that the interdepartmental commission had accepted the wish of the nurses to be defended by [Libyan lawer] Osman Bizanti (photo) in the two claims lodged against them by the relatives of the Libyan children infected with AIDS. [FIA]
Sunday, 26 December, 2004: Saharan tourism in Libya and its cultural and artistic dimensions were the focus of an important meeting, which ended Wednesday in Houn, 500 km southeast of Tripoli. Participants called for greater interest in tourism and the initiation of programmes to develop tourism. Over 25 studies and reports were examined at the two-day workshop, whose main topic was "Finding together alternative incomes to oil revenue". It was attended by experts and tourism operators from France, Canada, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. [Angop]

Saturday, 25 December, 2004: Libya's official al-Jamahiriya newspaper Friday blasted Saudi Arabia, calling it the "kingdom of obscurity that is living in dark ages." "How many ages and centuries does it need to reach the 21st century," the paper asked in a front page editorial. It said the Saudi regime "could be the best representative of the pre-Middle Ages era and a reflection of the cave ages." "At a time the world is preparing for the new century with all its challenges and realities, the kingdom of obscurity is still living in dark ages ruled with a mentality that belongs to the past by rulers who are sick and half dead," the paper added. [UEI]
Saturday, 25 December, 2004: Amnesty International (AI) has received reports that Libya is planning to deport dozens of refugees recognized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Libya. The organization fears that these refugees, who include Ethiopian, Eritrean, Somali and Liberian nationals, may be forcibly returned to their home country within hours or days. The refugees are currently being detained at the deportation centre of the immigration department in Tripoli. The news follows reports that hundreds of foreign nationals who recently arrived in Italy were deported to Libya on 20 December. [AI]
Saturday, 25 December, 2004: Libya's Qadhafi Foundation has pledged to sent representatives on a visit to the imprisoned Bulgarian nurses every week, it emerged on Friday. The news was broken by the five women's family members, who returned from a trip to Libya on Friday. The Foundation has also vowed to assist for the improvement of living conditions for the five Bulgarian nurses staying in Libyan prison. The visiting relatives also said Friday that Libyan solicitor Osman Bizanti has agreed to defend the medics in the two fresh lawsuits brought by the families of HIV-infected children. Libya has sentenced the Bulgarians to death in May. [Novinite]

Friday, 24 December, 2004: The US State Department said Wednesday allegations of a Libyan plot against Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah, have slowed the growth of U.S.-Libyan relations. Saudi Arabia has withdrawn its ambassador from Libya in connection with the plot charges, which Libya denies. Libya's decision a year ago to renounce WMDs has been described as one of the Bush administration's major foreign policy achievements. But officials acknowledge that progress toward full relations with the Tripoli government has been stalled by the assassination issue. Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi allegedly ordered the killing after he and the de facto Saudi ruler exchanged insults at an Arab League summit in 2003. [VOA]
Friday, 24 December, 2004: Libya has requested an official Arab League investigation into Saudi accusations that Tripoli was involved in a plan to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. The Libyan News Agency, JANA, reported Thursday that Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelrahman Shalgam made the request in a telephone conversation with Arab League Secretary General Amr Mousa. Shalqam demanded a thorough investigation into the Saudi accusations, stressing "the need to clarify the truth in that case." [UPI]
Friday, 24 December, 2004: Bulgariaĺs chief prosecutor urged Wednesday the United Nations to investigate Libya about torturing five Bulgarian nurses it has sentenced to death for allegedly causing an AIDS outbreak at a childrenĺs hospital. [BNN]
Friday, 24 December, 2004: No one knows what cause Libya's Col. Qadhafi imagined he would serve by having Crown Prince Abdullah assassinated. Libya and the Kingdom have neither a common border nor any competing ambitions. True, Qaddafi has denied that there was any such plot. But then, he is a man who has notched up an unenviable record in denials, most of which have later been followed by admissions made by Tripoli about their country's involvement in crimes. The Lockerbie bombing was long denied, then finally admitted as part of the rehabilitation of the maverick regime into the int'l community. The existence of WMD programs was flatly denied but was finally admitted. Similar denials, followed by admissions have been made about the downing of a French airliner and the supply of weapons to terror groups such as the IRA. [Arab News]

Thursday, 23 December, 2004: Saudi Arabia said it had recalled its ambassador to Libya and would ask Libya to remove its ambassador from the kingdom over an alleged Libyan plot to assassinate Prince Abdullah. "The procedure we took is to recall our ambassador from Libya and ask that Libya withdraws its ambassador," Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said. [Reuters]
Thursday, 23 December, 2004: Libya has indignantly denied it backed a plot to kill Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, after Saudi Arabia said it was recalling its envoy to Libya. Libya's foreign ministry said the alleged plot, which first came to light in July, had been "proven incorrect". Meanwhile, the US said the matter "needs to be explored" and had slowed progress in improving US-Libya ties. This latest row came to a head on Wednesday when Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said he would ask the countries' ambassadors to withdraw over the alleged plot. [BBC]

Wednesday, 22 December, 2004: Russia has restricted rights to such an extent that it has joined the countries that are not free for the first time since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, Freedom House said Monday ... Freedom House said that on balance, the world saw increased freedom in 2004: 26 countries showed gains while 11 showed decline. Of the world's 192 countries, it judged 46 percent free, 26 percent not free, and the rest partly free. Eight rated as the most repressive: Burma, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Turkmenistan. [AP]
Wednesday, 22 December, 2004: Jews who were expelled from Libya after the 1967 Middle East war have formed an international committee to seek compensation for their seized property. The members - now residents of Italy, Britain, the United States, France and Israel - announced their initiative Sunday in Rome. The group plans "dialogue with Libya on the question of compensation," said spokesman Paolo Giovannelli. In October, Libyan leader Qadhafi received a delegation of Italian Jews for talks on possible compensation. It was believed to be the first meeting in Libya on an official level with representatives of the 6,000 Libyan Jews forced to flee in an anti-Jewish backlash following Israel's victory in the Six-Day War. [AP]
Wednesday, 22 December, 2004: Hundreds of Ghanaians and other African nationals are said to be languishing in detention at deportation camps in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. The detainees, mostly from Ghana and Nigeria, are constantly subjected to beatings and other forms of torture on a daily basis. Reports reaching The Chronicle indicate that the Libyan authorities had for sometime now embarked on the arrest of foreign nationals to discourage them from using Libya as a transit point to Italy. Most of these foreign nationals allegedly have no valid traveling documents. The Chronicle has gathered that the detainees had been confined to deportation camps for the past three months under inhuman conditions. [Ghanaian Chronicle]
Wednesday, 22 December, 2004: Pity Saddam Hussein. If things had worked only a little differently, it would be Iraq's Saddam - not Libya's Qadhafi - who would be trading quips with Paul Martin and basking in the limelight as Canada's most favoured dictator. The official rehabilitation of Qadhafi is truly one of the world's great hoots. Unlike Saddam, the Libyan leader really has sponsored international terrorism. He provided bases and training to a host of terror groups. And he organized his own terror attacks - the 1988 bombing of a commercial airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland being the best known. By comparison, Saddam was a piker. True, he gave money to the displaced families of Palestinian suicide bombers. But in the world of international terror, that just made him a wannabe. Even U.S. President George W. Bush is unable to convincingly link Saddam to terrorism. No one ever had that problem with Qadhafi. [Toronto Star]
Wednesday, 22 December, 2004: Sudan's two main rebel movements on Monday rejected Libya's latest initiative to resolve the Darfur crisis as African Union mediators set Tuesday as the end of the current round of talks. "They (the AU mediation and Libyan teams) want to know our new position on the new (Libyan) initiative. We clearly stated that at this specific moment, we don't need any new initiative," a spokesperson for the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Ahmed Tugod, said on behalf of Darfur's two rebel movements. Tugod argued that the Libyan proposal would merely duplicate ongoing efforts to resolve the crisis. [AFP]
Wednesday, 22 December, 2004: World champions Brazil topped soccer's world rankings for the third year running. France, the World Cup winners in 1998, remain in second place ahead of Argentina. The rankings were announced by world governing FIFA at its Zurich, Switzerland headquarters this morning ... Nine teams have gained more than 20 ranks on last year, including ... Libya (61st, up 22) ... The next FIFA World Rankings will be published on 19 January 2005.
Canada Free Press : Qadhafi No Terrorist To Paul Martin

Tuesday, 21 December, 2004: Five Bulgarian nurses condemned to death in Libya on charges of spreading AIDS want to sue Libya for "unlawful arrest" and torture. "The Bulgarian medics have expressed the will to bring civil suits against Libya for their unlawful arrest and against the people who have (allegedly) tortured them," Bulgarian Justice Minister Anton Stankov told Bulgarian National Television on Monday. The move came after 60 families of HIV-infected children brought civil suits last week against the medics seeking compensation. [Al-Jazeera]
Tuesday, 21 December, 2004: Italian property services firm Gruppo Norman has signed a deal with Libya's government to build and manage one of the country's largest tourist resorts. The Farwa Island Project is among the first major non-oil related project with a foreign firm since the thaw in the country's relations with the West. The resort on the Mediterranean will be sited near the Tunisian border. The complex, expected to cost about $268 million to complete. [BBC]
Tuesday, 21 December, 2004: Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin arrived home Monday after an abbreviated visit to Libya. He met Colonel Qadhafi on Sunday, becoming the latest in a growing list of world leaders who have visited the country. "Col. Qadhafi is a man with an obvious sense of history ... and he put Libya's position within the greater historical backdrop, and then we talked about where we were going - where North Africa is going, where Libya is going," Martin said. During two meetings with Col. Qadhafi, Mr. Martin broached the issue of human rights, along with business opportunities and peace in Africa and the Middle East. [Globe and Mail]
Tuesday, 21 December, 2004: Sitting in a tent surrounded by camels and goats, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin found common ground with Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi yesterday, celebrating the first anniversary of the Libyan strongman's renunciation of WMDs. The bizarre scene took place in a field inside one of Mr. Qadhafi's sprawling private compounds in the centre of Tripoli and was followed up with an equally bizarre scene last night with a second meeting of the two leaders in a different tent -- this one the size of a basketball court and equipped with a 52-inch flat-screen TV. Mr. Martin chuckled when asked what he thought about shaking hands with a man Ronald Reagan called the "mad man of the Middle East". Mr. Qadhafi even joked about Mr. Martin leading a revolution someday just like he did. "Pretty soon I expect Canada to be a jamahiriya," Qadhafi said in reference to his own socialist revolutionary state. [CanWest]
Tuesday, 21 December, 2004: For all of those lamenting the minority status of the scandal-plagued Paul Martin Liberal Government, consider yourselves "lucky". That comes from Col. Qadhafi, the man President Ronald Reagan called the "Mad Dog of the Middle East". Canadians are "lucky" to have "His Excellency, the Prime Minister" as their leader," Qadhafi said. Martin, who was in Tripoli on a visit that happened to coincide with the first anniversary of Qadhafi's decision to abandon production of WMDs, is a Qadhafi fan. If Qadhafi was a "mad dog" to Reagan, to Martin, heĺs a "philosophical man with a sense of history". Part of that history is that Qadhafi, the former terrorist, is most infamous for his role in blowing up a Pam Am Flight over Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people, two of them Canadians. Martin will Christmas in Morocco and will not be returning to Canadian Parliament until Jan. 31. Meanwhile, he should perhaps be using his time off to brush up on the true history of terrorism. [Canada Free Press] More Details
The Seattle Times : Focus On Nurses Upsets Families Of HIV Victims

Monday, 20 December, 2004: After six years, the tears still come easily among the families of 428 children infected with HIV while under the care of Bulgarian nurses at a hospital in Benghazi, Libya. But their sorrow is mixed with frustration as attention focuses on the fate of the nurses, who have been sentenced to death, and not of the children, who are dying one by one, 46 so far. The nurses were sentenced in May and an international campaign is under way to win their freedom. "The West is only concerned about the nurses," said Omar al-Kelani al-Mesmari, whose son Seif el-Islam, now 7, was infected during a two-day stay in the hospital in 1998, when he was just months old. What is most important now, the families (photo) say, is taking care of the children, a task that they feel has been overlooked amid the bid to save the nurses' lives. [The Seattle Times]
Monday, 20 December, 2004: A Libyan oil worker questioned over a security alert which shut down an airport has been released without charge, police said today. Suspicions arose when the 35-year-old checked in for a flight from Durham Tees-Valley Airport, near Darlington [,UK], to Heathrow at 6.30am yesterday. All flights in and out were cancelled for two hours . The electrical engineer's baggage was blown up by Army bomb experts and investigations revealed no trace of explosive. But the man, who has been studying in Britain for six months, was arrested under the Terrorism Act. The 35-year-old male has been released today without charge. [PA]
Monday, 20 December, 2004: Canadian construction company SNC-Lavalin has won a $1 billion contract to help build a major water distribution system in Libya, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin said on Sunday. "Today there was the signing of new contract of a value of one billion dollars between SNC-Lavalin and the (Libyan) administration," Martin told a news conference during a two-day visit to Libya. SNC-Lavalin is expected to help complete the construction of a large man-made river project that will transport water for Libya's south from the Mediterranean coast along a distance of 4,000 km. SNC-Lavalin is already a partner in the project. [Reuters]
Monday, 20 December, 2004: Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin arrived Sunday in Libya on his first visit to the country for talks with leaders on boosting relations. Martin's visit to Tripoli follows visits a number of senior European officials. Those visits started after Libya announced an abandonment of its weapons of mass destruction program, a desire to resolve its problems with the West and an opening of the nation to foreign investments. Diplomats in the Canadian Embassy in Tripoli, which opened its mission in 2002, said Martin was leading an economic team of 130 businessmen, especially those in the oil, gas and communications industries. [UPI]
Monday, 20 December, 2004: Expectant moms planning on delivering at Alliston's Stevenson Memorial Hospital (SMH) can plan on seeing a new face around the obstetrics department. Dr. Adel Abdulhafid (photo) started at SMH as an obstetrician/gynecologist in September. Abdulhafid was an OB/GYN in Libya before coming to Canada and completing his residency program at the University of Calgary's School of Medicine. "We welcome Dr. Abdulhafid, his wife Asma and their son, Ahmed, to our community," said Ed Takacs, president and CEO of SMH. "We hope that they will feel at home as they meet new people and experience all our community has to offer." SMH board of directors chair, Nigel Gripper said the addition of Abdulhafid will have a positive effect. [Alliston Herald]
Monday, 20 December, 2004: Libya has dropped its plan to step down as president of the five-nation Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), Libya's state news agency Jana said. Libya announced on 8 December that it was stepping down as the one-year rotating president of the AMU in protest at what it said was other member states breaching the organisation's rules, including accepting to take part in military exercises with Israel and NATO. "In response to the desire of his brothers ... the leader agreed to continue his presidency," Jana said. Since its creation in 1989, the union has held only one summit in 1994. Regional disputes have held the AMU back, in particular that between Algeria and Morocco over the disputed territory of Western Sahara. Earlier this year Mauritania accused Libya of backing attempts to overthrow its president. [Aljazeera]
Monday, 20 December, 2004: For Libya, 2004 was the year where everything changed, politically with its return to international grace, and economically with the start of reforms cutting away at state-controlled management. It was a giant step that kicked off the year of change: Tripoli, on Dec. 19, 2003 surprised most of the world by exposing its programme for WMDs and then pledging to abandon it. "The world has changed," acknowledged Libya's leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, speaking on Sept. 1, the 35th anniversary of his accession to power in a coup, in explanation of Libya's opening up to the world. "We insulted each other a lot, but at the end of the day we were all losers," he said, justifying his determination to end the rogue image his country had endured for more than 20 years. [Daily Times]

Sunday, 19 December, 2004: Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin is expected to talk trade and human rights when he begins an official visit to Libya Sunday. Amnesty International (AI) says there are three people being held in Libyan prisons who have Canadian connections and are not being treated fairly. The group wants Martin to raise those cases during a meeting with Libyan leader Qadhafi. One such case involves Mustapha Muhammad Krer, a Canadian citizen and native of Libya who was arrested upon arrival at Tripoli airport in May 2002. AI says when its delegates met with Krer in February 2004, he had still not been charged or tried. Libya has accused him of being a member of a banned militant organization, an allegation he denies. [CBC]
Sunday, 19 December, 2004: Libya was preparing to decide the winner of its first major energy tender since the removal of sanctions in 1999. Officials said the project was being sought by 68 international energy companies. The firms were deemed eligible to participate in the first round of bidding, which took place in September 2004. Libya's national oil company was preparing to announce the winners in late January 2005. The tender was part of a project to nearly double Libya's oil production capacity to 3 million barrels a day by 2010. Officials said Libya has also aimed to attract around $30 billion of investment in the hydrocarbon sector. [MENL]
Sunday, 19 December, 2004: Families of Libyan children infected with the AIDS virus have filed two claims for indemnities against five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor sentenced to death on charges of causing the contagion at a hospital, a report said Saturday. Bulgaria's state TV said a court hearing in the case was scheduled on Dec. 28. It didn't say what the value of the claims was. Bulgaria says the nurses and a Palestinian doctor that was sentenced to death along with them are innocent and has won wide international support for its effort to make Libya free them. "Such claims imply guilt, which is absent in this case," Bulgaria's Deputy Foreign Minister Gergana Grancharova told the TV. [BNN]
MSN: Is Libya's Leader "Finished" ?

Saturday, 18 December, 2004: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi (photo) said that Libya's abandonment of its nuclear weapons programme played a big part in the U.S. presidential campaign and helped President Bush get re-elected. In an interview on Italian RAI TV, Qadhafi said that the U.S. had agreed to reward Tripoli for renouncing the nuclear programme. "America was very worried that Libya might get a WMD, so they were very happy about our decision," Qadhafi said on RAI's La Storia Siamo Noi show, according to a transcript released by the broadcaster. "It has been a winning hand ... Fifty percent of the US elections depended on Libya, on Libya's withdrawal of its nuclear project." [SAPA]
Saturday, 18 December, 2004: Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi should be encouraged to continue the type of changes launched over the past year, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin said yesterday as he prepared for a visit to Libya. Col. Qadhafi, once seen as a pariah for his sponsorship of terrorism, has seen a thaw in relations with the West since he renounced his [WMD] programs and accepted responsibility for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. "A number of world leaders have seen him, and the reason, I think is fairly evident ... There has been a substantial shift in Libya's position over the last couple of years: much more openness, much more transparency," Mr. Martin said. Mr. Martin is expected to discuss human-rights issues with the Libyan leader, particularly the need for change to the country's legal system. [GlobalandMail]
Saturday, 18 December, 2004: It has become increasingly apparent that the Libyan regime is willing to trade lives for money in the case of the Bulgarian medics sentenced to death by firing squad for allegedly infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV. Also proposed as a subject of a possible trade-off by Libya is a Libyan national serving a life sentence in Scotland for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. In an interview with The New York Times, Saif al-Islam (photo), son of Libyan leader Qadhafi, said that Libya would not execute the nurses. "No one is going to execute anyone," Saif al-Islam said. He suggested that Libya could extradite the nurses to Bulgaria in exchange for the Libyan imprisoned in the UK. Meanwhile, Libya and the association of the families of the infected children handed the European Union a list of three conditions under which the country would release the nurses. [Sofia Echo]
Saturday, 18 December, 2004: The energy industry and some of its executives have contributed over a million dollars to President Bush's inauguration fund, the committee handling the festivities reported Friday. In all, 26 donors gave over $4.5 million. Occidental Petroleum, whose business stands to benefit from the president's actions in regard to Libya, donated $250,000, as did Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil company. In April, Bush took steps to restore normal trade and investment ties with Libya, enabling four American oil companies, including Occidental, to resume commercial activities there after an 18-year absence. Bush's action was a reward to Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi for eliminating his most destructive weapons programs. [AP]
Saturday, 18 December, 2004: Coming back from an interview in Libya's capital one evening, I found myself stuck in a monster traffic jam in Green Square, the capital's vast open meeting point. Suddenly, police outriders came roaring up the avenue their flashing lights signaling a motorcade. My driver slipped into an old Tripoli habit: counting the cars in the convoy to identify the VIP. "Leader?" he wondered-the only title by which Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi is known in Libya. "If 50 cars, Leader. Less than 50, not Leader." Like most people in Tripoli, my driver had many theories about the leader: Leader has made a deal with America because he needs Big Oil money; Leader is sick, but no one knows from what; Leader is sick of being Leader and wants to retire in a few years, tops. "Leader is finished," is the version I heard most often. [MSN] click for details

LCC-CLHR : Letter To Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin

Friday, 17 December, 2004: As Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin readies himself for a trade mission to Libya this weekend, some Libyans in Canada are asking the prime minister to raise human rights issues concerning several people imprisoned there. A number of Canadians and Libyans with strong Canadian connections face harsh penalties, including death, for peaceful political activity. Martin's trip is intended to take advantage of new business opportunities in Libya. But going home for opportunities was a mistake for Ali Sadegh Elhouni (photo). He took his wife and Canadian-born children to Libya after completing his studies at Queen's University. Last week a Libyan court confirmed Elhouni's life sentence under Law 71, which bans any form of political organization or gathering. Amnesty says Elhouni and his co-accused were merely involved in a discussion group that talked about peaceful reform. [CBC]
Friday, 17 December, 2004: Libya cannot play Europe's coastguard against unwanted immigration from Africa, Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said in an interview with Italian radio reported Thursday. "With regard to clandestine immigration, we are suffering from a flood of people from sub-Saharan Africa who head for Libya in particular," Qadhafi was quoted as saying by the daily La Repubblica in extracts from the RAI interview published before its broadcast. "Libya alone cannot stop millions of people coming from Africa." He rejected criticism that Tripoli was not doing enough to stop immigrants leaving Libya's shores for Europe, notably Italy. "We want above all to stop them arriving in Libya," he said. [AFP]
Friday, 17 December, 2004: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has said it would be dangerous for the European Union to admit Turkey as a member state, calling the accession bid a "Trojan horse" for Islamic militants like Osama bin Laden. "As far as the Islamic world is concerned -- including the Islamic extremists, even bin Laden -- they're rejoicing over the entry of Turkey in the European Union. This is their Trojan horse," he was quoted as saying by the Italian media. "I'm saying only what will happen with the entry of the horse into Troy," he added in comments published on the day EU leaders met in Brussels to discuss whether to begin accession talks with the secular but overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey. [Reuters]

Thursday, 16 December, 2004: Libya is planning to open up its banking sector to Arab investors and is to privatise two major government banks, Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem said yesterday. "We will first start with Arab banks while at the same time privatise two major banks," he told the Arab Strategy Forum on "The Arab World in 2020". Ghanem said that in order to liberalise the economy, the government needs to also reform the telecommunications sector. "We will initially give a chance to local and public investors and later consider opening the market to international companies," he said, stressing that this would not happen in the short term. In March, Tripoli decided to liberalise its real estate market and boost investments in tourism. [AFP]
Thursday, 16 December, 2004: Libya transferred its previously frozen funds in U.S. banks to accounts in banks in other countries, an official said Wednesday. Deputy chief of Libya's Central Bank, Farhat Bin Gadara said the whole amount, including the initial frozen funds of $400 million and their accumulated interest amounting to $600 million, was withdrawn from American banks and deposited in other countries. Gadara said, however, "transferring the money from the United States does not imply that we are ending our relations with American banks." [UPI]
Thursday, 16 December, 2004: Relatives of five Bulgarian nurses on death row in Libya will spend Christmas with their loved ones. The Sofia News Agency reported Wednesday that the relatives would leave Thursday and spend the holidays in the Judeyda prison where the nurses are being held for infecting more than 400 children with HIV. A Palestinian doctor was sentenced to death along with the nurses in a trial in May, which was described as grossly unfair by human rights groups. Some of the nurses have said their confessions were extracted by torture. [UPI]
Thursday, 16 December, 2004: The flow of illegal workers from poor African states to Libya is causing severe social and economic problems. Although no official counts are available of the immigrants entering Libya illegally, they are estimated to be as many as 1 million in a country of 4 million. The incoming workers from various African and Arab countries offer their skills in return for little money, encouraging Libyan businessmen to employ them. This growing trend has affected the young Libyan workforce who cannot get jobs because of tough competition from illegal labor. Unemployment rates shot up in recent years with the number of unemployed Libyans exceeding 270,000, according to estimates announced by Libyan Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem. [UPI]
Thursday, 16 December, 2004: The British Foreign Office is to downgrade dozens of consulates in Europe, Africa and Latin America to pay for new embassies in troublespots such as Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, it was reported today. The Times said that the massive shake-up in the Diplomatic Service was intended to save more than ú100 million. [The Scotsman]
Thursday, 16 December, 2004: Women from Arab countries gathered in Sanaa, Yemen, for the First Democratic Forum of Arab Women to discuss the importance of women's participation in political reforms. Amal Basha, Chairwoman of the Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights, which organized the conference, described Saturday's event as a "scream" to the Arab regimes for the need to change and to involve women in decision-making. About 70 participants from the Middle East and Africa, including Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, ... Somalia and Iraq, presented their countries' practices and progress made in women's political empowerment. [The Daily Star]
Wednesday, 15 December, 2004: When Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin steps off his plane Saturday in Tripoli, he'll be entering a land described by human rights advocates as a surreal mix of kitsch and viciousness. Libya is a country where political opponents are jailed after deeply flawed trials or simply disappear for not fitting in with Col. Qadhafi's 30-year-old revolutionary ideas, say rights investigators. At best, it's described as a country taking small steps to catch up with a world already in progress. At worst, it draws parallels with Stalin's Soviet Union and its secret police, 'round-the-clock paranoia and fear of reprisals. Qadhafi has been rewarded with state visits by Western leaders after he renounced terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Martin follows French, British and Italian leaders who've already beaten a path to the strongman's door to lubricate the way for petro interests. [CP]

Tuesday, 14 December, 2004: OIL giant BP is in talks with Libya's State-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) about investing in massive projects in the energy-rich Arab nation that could be worth billions of pounds. Discussions are at an early stage but involve a range of huge, integrated projects, including construction of a gas liquefication project, gas pipelines and gas field development in partnership with the NOC. If the talks are successful it will ratchet up BP's rivalry with Shell, which has a tentative partnership with NOC that could lead to 'integrated upstream and LNG-export projects'. In 1960, BP discovered the 10bn-barrel Sarir field - a strike it dreams of repeating. Oil companies are struggling to replace what they produce with new reserves. The problem is especially acute for BP, which pumps 4 million barrel per day. [This Is London]
Tuesday, 14 December, 2004: The Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa, met yesterday in Tripoli with Libya's leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. Discussions during the meeting dealt with fields of cooperation between the two states and several issues of mutual concern. [Arabic News]
Tuesday, 14 December, 2004: Uganda's ambassador to Libya, Williams Hakiza, has asked Ugandans to start exporting tropical fruits to the north African country. Speaking to a Ugandan delegation in Tripoli last week, Hakiza said tropical fruits like bananas, mangoes and pineapples have a potential market in Libya, which is undergoing economic liberalisation. "l have told the foreign affairs and trade, industry and tourism ministries to advise Ugandans to exhibit tropical fruits in Libya, but there is no response," the ambassador said. [The New Vision]

Monday, 13 December, 2004: Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin must take up the cause of a Queen's University graduate student imprisoned in Libya when he visits Tripoli this month, activists and the man's friends say. Ali Sadegh Elhouni has been serving a life sentence since 1998 for helping a group that works toward democratic change in the military dictatorship, they say. The 47-year-old Libyan has two children born and living in Kingston, Ont., where he attended a Queen's graduate program in engineering. Amnesty International says Libya's human rights record remains terrible. The group's website says laws, institutions and practices violating human rights continue in Libya, and the truth about past events remains undisclosed. [CP]
Monday, 13 December, 2004: Senior Arab officials attending a U.S.-sponsored conference to promote democracy in the Middle East emphatically rejected on Saturday the Bush administration's assertion that greater democracy in the region would help end terrorism. They argued that the administration's strong support of Israel made it difficult to undertake political reform or to stop extremists driven by hatred of U.S. policies. Libya's representative, deputy foreign minister Hassouna Shawish, said "continued bloodshed makes it difficult for us all. I'm talking about bloodshed in Iraq." [The Post]
Monday, 13 December, 2004: Prime Minister Paul Martin will spend Christmas in North Africa, where he will discuss democracy and oil business. He leaves for Tripoli on Friday for a three-day visit to Libya, where he will meet President Moammar Gadhafi as part of a process of reconciliation and to discuss how Canadians can assist in projects in the oil fields. He plans to spend the holidays in Morocco. [St. Petersburg Times]

Sunday, 12 December, 2004: A British high court approved the extradition of a Libyan national to Italy, where he is wanted on charges of planning terrorist attacks in that country and abroad. Faraj Hassan Faraj, 24, also stands accused in Italy of acting as a ringleader for an international group which adhered to the principles of Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network, judge Simon Tuckey said. The judge rejected objections by Faraj's lawyer that he could be sent by Rome on to Libya, where there was a "real risk" for his life, given his extremist beliefs. [AFP]
Sunday, 12 December, 2004: Leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) industrial nations and about 20 Arab countries met on Saturday to discuss reforms in the Arab world as part of Washington's Greater Middle East Initiative. They discussed political and economic reforms proposed by Washington and how to boost exchanges and cooperation between the Arab world and the G8 at the "Forum for the Future" in Rabat, Morocco. Iran and Libya refused to attend the forum. G8 groups the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia. [Xinhua]
Sunday, 12 December, 2004: ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil, both based in Houston, and Amerada Hess formed Oasis Oil Co. with Libya to operate four fields. Before 1986, they produced 400,000 barrels a day, a quarter of Libya's current output. "They are looking for a higher rate of return at 8.5 percent, but the standstill agreement is 6.5 percent, and we can't change that," Fathi Shatwan, Libya's senior OPEC delegate, said. "We expect the companies to sign back on within the next two weeks." Libya plans to almost double its oil output to 3 million barrels a day by the end of the decade. Shatwan said Libya can't agree to the Oasis group's demands for an extension to their 18-year agreement because Libyan law only allows for 10 years. [Bloomberg News]
Sunday, 12 December, 2004: US Secretary of State Colin Powell said he hopes a meeting of 22 Islamic countries will provide a catalyst for expanding political and economic reform throughout the region. "This is an exciting long-term initiative. I think it will be something that will gain momentum as we go further," Powell said. Host country Morocco will be joined at the "Forum for the Future" by delegates from 18 Arab countries and four non-Arab Islamic countries, along with major industrialized countries and the Arab League. Governments participating are Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen. [AP]
Sunday, 12 December, 2004: A ringing call for the Arab world to arm itself for the future will be issued by thinkers, decision and policy makers attending The Arab Strategy Forum 2004, which begins on Monday 13th December 2004. The three-day gathering will map out a blueprint of the 'Arab World in 2020' and suggest measures to achieve sustainable growth that would be well integrated into the global economic, social and political fabric. General Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Defence Minister's opening address will be followed by the keynote address from former US President Bill Clinton ... The second session of the second day is devoted to discussing the issue of Iraq's and Libya's present and future. [Strategy].
Sunday, 12 December, 2004: Seeking to keep prices up without having them explode, OPEC agreed yesterday to reduce its daily oil output by 1 million barrels a day - and reserved the right to cut deeper early next year if crude turns much cheaper than now. But traders said they were taking a wait-and-see attitude toward the pact, and sent oil prices sharply lower. If effective, the output reduction would scale back output to 27 million barrels a day. "We will implement this cut and watch the market," Libya's oil minister, Fathi Shatwan, said. "If there are good prices, then fine. If prices keep dropping, then we'll take new action." [AP]
Sunday, 12 December, 2004: The statement of the Libyan leader's son, which rules out the execution of the Bulgarian nurses, echoes the words of Libya's Foreign Minister that the country would reexamine the death verdicts in exchange of indemnities, according to US State Department deputy spokesman. Adam Ereli commented at the daily press briefing Saif al-Islam's words for the New York Times that "no one is going to execute anyone." Meanwhile the families of the Libyan children infected with HIV demanded that Bulgaria pay EUR 10 Million per child. "We made it clear to the Bulgarians, I think we make it clear to the Libyans when we speak with them, that this case should be resolved and the people released," Adam Ereli said. [SNA]

Saturday, 11 December, 2004: US President Bush on Friday helped US companies doing business in Libya by easing tax restrictions. In a memorandum for Treasury Secretary John Snow, Bush waived a section of the US code that imposed restrictions on firms in Libya. The president "concluded that the waiver is in our national interest and will expand trade and investment opportunities for US companies in Libya," said an administration official. [AFP]
Saturday, 11 December, 2004: Libya will not execute six health workers accused of intentionally infecting more than 400 children with HIV, said Seif al-Islam, the son of Libyan leader al-Qadhafi. Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor, who have been detained since 1999, were sentenced to death in May. According to the New York Times, Seif al-Islam said Libya would like to expel the nurses to Bulgaria, suggesting that their expulsion might be linked to the extradition of a Libyan man serving a life sentence in Scotland for the 1988 downing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. He did not disclose the fate of the Palestinian doctor. [UNIRIN]
Saturday, 11 December, 2004: One of Mu'ammar Gal-Qadhafi's sons says he is not happy with Canada. Seif al-Islam al-Qadhafi is the Libyan leader's presumed successor and the leading figure in Libya's warming relations with the West. He says for quite a long time his country has regarded Canada as an enemy to Libya, and as just a follower of the Americans. Prime Minister Paul Martin heads to Libya this month for a two day visit focused on investment. [CFRA]
Saturday, 11 December, 2004: Member-states of the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) are holding emergency talks following Libya's decision to renounce the grouping chairmanship. Tunisian president, Zine Abidine Ben Ali, on Wednesday talked on the phone with Libyan leader Qadhafi to whom he expressed his country's "strong worries" over the Libyan decision. Libya announced on Wednesday it was renouncing the UMA chairmanship following the repeated violations by some members of the Union treaty and of agreements concluded between member states. [Arabic News]

LLHR: Egypt; 11 Years Of Blackout On Kikhia's Abduction?

Friday, 10 December, 2004: The EU has sent a medical delegation to Libya to examine a group of 400 children allegedly deliberately infected [by Bulgarian nurses] with the HIV virus. The BBC reported Thursday the delegation had arrived in the town of Benghazi where it was given a list of demands from the families of the infected children. The demands include the construction of a new hospital in Benghazi, arrangements for the children to be treated abroad and financial compensation. Bulgaria has said it will not consider compensation as a way of securing the nurses' release, arguing they are innocent and should be freed unconditionally. [UPI]
Friday, 10 December, 2004: Libya might soon let foreign banks operate in the country again for the first time since banking was nationalised in 1969, Prime Minister Shokri Ghanem (photo) said yesterday. "We are thinking about opening the door for foreign banks to operate in Libya in the near future," Ghanem said. "Once the principle is agreed, we'll see about the legislation." The government also planned to offer shares of two state-owned banks to the public in a drive to attract private investment to reduce unemployment. Libya has eight state-owned banks and one privately owned bank, which was created after a 1997 law authorising private banks. [Bloomberg]
Friday, 10 December, 2004: Libya announced today that it has given up its presidency for the Arab Maghreb Union because of what it described as the stumbled march of the union and the numerous violations made by certain members. A statement issued by the Libyan foreign ministry explained that among the violations was that certain member states has collaborated with others outside the frames agreed upon. [Arabic News]
Friday, 10 December, 2004: Libya is in the final stages of selecting eligible bidders for an auction of 15 exploration licences that could mark the return of US oil companies to the country, the oil minister said yesterday. Fathi Hamed Ben Shatwan (photo) said ahead of today's meeting in Cairo of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries that there were no longer any restrictions on US companies doing business in Libya. "I think most of the sanctions are lifted," Shatwan said. The field of potential bidders for the January auction had been narrowed from 120 oil companies to 63, including the large US oil groups ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco. US companies are looking to return to Libya for the first time since President Ronald Reagan imposed sanctions in 1986. [FT]
Friday, 10 December, 2004: Egypt, which will host an OPEC meeting this week, is probing cooperation with members of the cartel in oil and gas fields. Egyptian Minister of Petroleum Sameh Fahmy on Wednesday held separate meetings with his counterparts of Libya, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iran. During his talks with Libyan Minister of Energy Fathi Ben Shatwan, the two discussed the establishment of a joint company in charge of oil and gas transport and Egypt's participation in a number of projects in Libya, Fahmy said. [Xinhua]
Friday, 10 December, 2004: Teachers and health workers in Guinea-Bissau, which was jolted by an apparent coup attempt by renegade troops in October over poor living conditions, are holding a week-long strike over unpaid wages, the Lusa news agency reported Wednesday. Nurses and hospital ancillary staff, as well as over 1 000 teachers, in the former Portuguese colony began their action on Monday and the response to the strike call has been almost total. Earlier this week Guinea-Bissau's President Henrique Rosa travelled to Libya to seek financial aid to help plug a hole in the budget of his impoversihed west African nation. [IOL]

Thursday, 9 December, 2004: Ramadan al-Fitouri, chairman of the [HIV sick] Children' Families Association, told Reuters that the group's officials had met a delegation of doctors from the EU and given them a letter setting conditions to abandon the case [against Bulgarian nurses]. "Send all the HIV sick children for treatment in Europe, build a hospital in Libya where the children can pursue their treatment and a just compensation must be granted in order for the families to drop the case," al-Fitouri said. Only the Libyan judiciary has the authority to change the verdicts or sentences, but diplomats say such comments by a representative of the families prepared the ground for any future legal decision. [Photo: Nesma al-Wershefani, one of the HIV sick children] [Reuters]
Thursday, 9 December, 2004: Libya denied yesterday to have had extended an invitation for the deputy chairman of the Israeli Knesset Moshe Kahloun to visit Tripoli, but said it welcomes Jews of Libyan origin. In a statement to the Qatari al-Jazeera TV, the Libyan deputy foreign minister Hassouna al-Shawish described the call as "mere imagination and an odd one." The Libyan official said that current law does not permit the entry of Israelis or any other person with an Israeli passport. Earlier in the day, the Israeli radio announced that Kahloun received an official invitation to visit Libya to be the first Israeli official to visit Tripoli openly. Kahloun, a Jew of Libyan origin, said he will be meeting with Qadhafi during the visit. [Arabic News]
Thursday, 9 December, 2004: OPEC oil producers must act to stem a recent slide in prices, either by ending cheating on quotas or by lowering the official output ceiling, Libyan Oil Minister Fathi Ben Shatwan (photo) warned. "We were working very hard when the price went very high to the sky. Now we should work the same way when the price is going down," he told reporters in Cairo where ministers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries were gathering ahead of a meeting Friday. The minister said OPEC members should agree to comply with their current output quotas totalling 27 million barrels per day (bpd), and also consider cutting the quotas if oil prices continue to fall. [AFP]
Thursday, 9 December, 2004: Libya is striving to save its reputation by offering to discuss the possible repealing of the death sentences of the five Bulgarian nurses for compensations, according to a British expert on Libya. George Joffe told the Bulgarian section of the BBC that the suggestion signalled the beginning of tought talks, and that in the end financial compensations will be agreed indeed. His comment came after Libya's Foreign Minister Abdelrahman Shalgam said the discussions will be opened after Bulgaria's government addresses the families of the infected children and offers them money. Five Bulgarian nurses were found guilty of deliberately starting a HIV epidemic at a Benghazi hospital. Libyan court sentenced them to death. [SNA]

Wednesday, 8 December, 2004: Claudia Rosett reminds us that in the headlong rush to embrace Libya's Qadhafi as a reformed terrorist, we're allowing him to trample on the rights and freedoms of his people, including a man named Fathi al-Jahmi (photo), who has been brave enough to push for free speech and democracy in Libya. "When you encourage democrats living under the world's worst tyrannies to speak up, you'd better be there for them when they answer the call," says Rosett. Last March in Tripoli, Al-Jahmi spoke up for freedom in Libya, and was praised by President Bush. He was arrested for this right afterward by Qadhafi. "I have to say a tacky for Mr. Bush who has gone on courting Qadhafi, but has uttered not a word in support of Al-Jahmi since then," says Rosett. "That might be a good policy for France, that this is America, and we should leave no democrat behind." [PBS]
Wednesday, 8 December, 2004: After meeting with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the U.S. will continue to "push" for the release of the health care workers, Agence France-Presse reports. "We have been pressing the Libyans on every occasion to resolve this question and release the Bulgarian nurses," Powell said, adding, "We think the facts in this case are clear. We hope that justice will be served and compassion will be shown." He also said that he did not know if Shalgham's comments on Sunday amounted to "a change in position or progress". Shalgam has said Libya will discuss reversing the death penalty for five Bulgarian nurses if Bulgaria offers compensation. [KaiserNetwork]
Wednesday, 8 December, 2004: The world's biggest energy companies are preparing to fight it out for a stake in Libya's alluring oil and gas industry. Of 122 companies that registered to apply for oil and gas exploration permits under the latest government licensing programme, 63 have been given the green light to submit bids, says Tarek Hassan-Beck, a top executive at the State owned National Oil Corporation (NOC). The list is a roll-call of the world's top oil firms. BP, Royal Dutch/Shell, ChevronTexaco, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil are in the running, as well as smaller explorers such as Marathon Oil. Industry insiders expect China's State-owned energy companies to provide US and European rivals with stiff competition. [This Is London]
Wednesday, 8 December, 2004: Libya, holder of Africa's largest oil reserves, has the potential to become a primary development site for San Ramon-based ChevronTexaco Corp. as the African nation rebuilds its energy industry from years of sanctions, a company official said. "We think Libya has the potential to be a focus country," similar to those that receive about $5 billion of investment, James Lejeune, vice president of business development of ChevronTexaco, said in an interview with Bloomberg News during a conference in Tripoli. Oil and gas finds would need to be "significant. We are not talking about hundreds of millions of barrels, we are talking about billions of barrels per business unit," he said. ChevronTexaco, the second-largest U.S. based oil company, is one of 62 companies that qualified to bid in Libya's first oil and gas exploration tender since the lifting of the U.S. sanctions in September. [Contra Costa]
Wednesday, 8 December, 2004: American helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation, is in talks with Libya to sell an unspecified number of helicopters, company officials disclosed. Sikorsky's Libyan sales pitch has the State Department's blessing. The move by the leading US manufacturer of commercial and military helicopters to supply aircraft to Libya, considered a pariah state by Washington until recently, indicates that the US is opening up to business with Libya. "We are in discussions with Libya. They have some helicopter needs that we are looking at," Sikorsky's Dubai-based regional manager James Beahon told The Gulf Today. Beahon said the company had received the necessary government permission for a potential sales deal. [The Gulf Today]

Human Rights Watch: Libya Blocks Visit By Rights Group

Tuesday, 7 December, 2004: The Libyan government has blocked a scheduled visit by a Human Rights Watch (HRW) research team. The team was slated to begin a three-week fact-finding trip on Tuesday, but the Libyan government has withheld the visas, HRW said today. "The Libyan government says it is opening to the world, but it behaves as if there is much to hide," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW. "They are letting in oil companies and tourists, but keeping out human rights groups." HRW planned to investigate the cases of political prisoners, specifically the arrest and incommunicado detention of Fathi al-Jahmi and the 86 students and professionals imprisoned for supporting or sympathizing with the banned Libyan Islamic Group. [Reuters]
Tuesday, 7 December, 2004: Bulgaria welcomed a decision on Monday by Libya to reconsider executing five nurses for infecting hundreds of children with HIV, but refused a call for compensation, saying any payouts would be an admission of guilt. The nurses were sentenced to death in May for deliberately infecting more than 400 children with HIV at a Benghazi hospital, sparking cries of foul from Bulgaria and its allies the US and the EU. On Sunday, Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelrahman Shalgam said Tripoli would discuss reversing the death penalties if Sofia paid for a hospital to treat AIDS victims and recompensate families of the children. [Reuters]
Tuesday, 7 December, 2004: Libya has lifted an informal ban on commodity imports from India, which was in force for the last few years. This was stated by India's Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, E.V.K.S. Elangovan. Also, Indian firms have already made a foray in Libya in infrastructure, power, oil and telecommunications. New sectors identified for cooperation with Libya include automobiles, software, IT education, healthcare and pharmaceuticals. [ANI]
Tuesday, 7 December, 2004: The inaugural US-Libyan Economic Summit is set to take place in Tripoli on Monday. The two-day meeting will host more than 60 managers and CEOs from major US oil companies and Libyan ministers from the country's various sectors. Both Libyan and American investors will be seeking to explore future joint-business opportunities in the country. They were made available after the US lifted its sanctions against Libya this year. The summit's agenda includes an overall assessment of investment opportunities, costs, legal requirements and a realistic dose of the challenges that potential US investors face in Libya. [BBC]
Tuesday, 7 December, 2004: The foreign ministers of France and Bulgaria said Monday a compromise with Libya seemed the most realistic way to make it revise death sentences of five Bulgarian nurses it has convicted of causing an AIDS outbreak at a children's hosiptal. "In the framework of Libya's sovereignty we should find a solution both for the Bulgarian nurses and for the affected families and children," French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier told reporters in Sofia. "A compromise is the only chance to solve the problem with the Bulgarian medics in Libya," Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Solomon Passy said. [BNN]

Monday, 6 December, 2004: Likud MK Moshe Kahlon has been invited to visit Libya, Channel 1 TV reported Sunday night. Kahlon, who is Libyan born, serves as deputy speaker of the Knesset. Kahlon will travel to Libya at the head of an Israeli delegation at the end of December, the TV reported. Channel 1 said that preparatory discussions for the trip to Libya were conducted last week in London. Kahlon would not comment on the report. [The Jerusalem Post]
Monday, 6 December, 2004: Libya has said it will discuss reversing the death penalty for five Bulgarian nurses convicted of infecting children with HIV if Bulgaria offers compensation. "We have three problems - the infected children, the dead children and the convicted Bulgarians. In this case we have to solve the three problems together," Foreign Minister Abdlrahman Shalgam (photo) said on Sunday after talks with his Bulgarian counterpart in the Netherlands. In May, a court sentenced the five nurses and a Palestinian doctor to death for intentionally starting an epidemic in a Benghazi hospital that infected 426 children and killed at least 40. [Al-Jazeera]
Monday, 6 December, 2004: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi would like to travel to Italy soon to meet Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi and hopes to organize an international conference in Tripoli on immigration, his son has said. "We hope that as early as next week we can start working on a timetable of meetings for the leader in Italy, Saif al-Qadhafi told Italian newspaper La Stampa on Sunday. "The leader has spoken about it with Berlusconi and hopes to be able to travel to Italy soon for political discussions ... and to meet the Italian people," he said. [AFP]
Monday, 6 December, 2004: Jordanian King Abdullah II headed to Libya Sunday as ■part of a four-nation tour that also includes the United States, Japan and Singapore ■■where he will hold talks with leaders on the Arab-Israeli peace process, the ■■situation in Iraq and bilateral relations.■ The monarch's tour comes within "the ■■intensive efforts led by (King Abdullah) to revive the peace process and put ■it back on its proper track, and support efforts that aim at restoring ■security and stability to Iraq."■ The King's talks with US President Bush on Monday will focus ■on the current developments in the Middle East in addition to US-Jordanian ■■relations. [KUNA/PETRA]
Monday, 6 December, 2004: As Prime Minister Paul Martin plans a relation-thawing visit to Libya this month, a newly disclosed report shows Canada's spy agency was probing Libya's interest in deadly weapons as recently as last spring. The latest report of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan says the activities of "certain governments, such as Iran, Libya and Syria," came under scrutiny of the agency's counter-proliferation branch. Among the CSIS' responsibilities is the investigation of state-sponsored terrorism related to ... acquisition of biological, chemical, nuclear or radiological WMDs. [CP]

Sunday, 5 December, 2004: Emaar Properties broke new ground today when the Middle East's largest lifestyle property developer announced it has identified partners and selected prime locations to construct mixed-use developments in Libya. This is Emaar's premier foray in Libya and is spearheaded by Emaar Int'l Development, the company's division which develops property for the Middle East and N. Africa regions. Today's announcement follows a series of presentations and productive meetings Emaar concluded with its partners in Libya. [AME]
Sunday, 5 December, 2004: The group of international observers monitoring the peace talks between the Philippine government (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will be boosted by the arrival of a delegation from Libya tomorrow. The Libyan team is headed by Mohamed Mohamed Swaisi, with Abubakar Ibrahim Wanis as the other member. [Philstar]
Sunday, 5 December, 2004: Bulgarian Vice President Gen. Agngel Marin has demanded the support of Sough Africa for just ruling of the Bulgarian nurses case in Libya, underlying the leading position of South Africa in the continent. This has happened on a meeting with Gen. Marin's counterpart Deputy President Jacob Zuma. Marin is on a three-day official visit to South Africa on invitation of Deputy President of the Republic Jacob Zuma. [FIA]

Saturday, 4 December, 2004: A judicial and bilateral problem between Libya and Bulgaria should not affect the relationship between Tripoli and Brussels, the Libyan ambassador to the EU, Hamed El Houdeiri, has said. El Houdeiri was reacting to a statement made last week by the President of the European Commission, Jose Barroso to this effect. The Libyan envoy said he was astonished at Barroso's statement that the future of relations between Tripoli and Brussels depended on the outcome of the case of the Bulgarian medical personnel detained in Libya. As regards the case of the medical staff at Benghazi Hospital, the diplomat said that a solution is now at hand, explaining that only few "technical details" remained to be settled, as negotiations are under way to secure an EU grant to finance the fight against AIDS in Libya. [Angop]
Saturday, 4 December, 2004: Prime Minister Paul Martin heads to North Africa this month to explore for democracy and oil business - and enjoy a Christmas holiday. Martin flies to Tripoli on Dec. 18 for a three-day visit to Libya where he will meet President Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, a former international pariah. He will stay in the region over Christmas for a private holiday in Morocco. Western leaders, such as British Prime Minister Blair, have been visiting Libya as part of a process of reconciliation. Qadhafi has given up bankrolling terrorists and pledged not to pursue WMDs. But the visit is not all diplomacy. There is money to be made in the oil fields of Libya and Canadians itching to make it. A senior Martin official said Canada wants to use trade to knock down barriers in a move toward democracy, as was done with China and Russia. [CP]
Saturday, 4 December, 2004: HSBC is seeking to set up shop in former rogue states Iraq and Libya, among other Middle East target markets, chief executive Stephen Green has revealed. Mr Green said the bank was in the process of negotiating with authorities and banks in both countries to build a presence there. HSBC is one of the banks licensed to operate in war-torn Iraq and financial sources say it is likely to be operational by the first quarter of 2005. Mr Green declined to give details about the Iraq operation, but said: "We are interested in Libya. It is a country beginning to rebuild connections with the international banking world. [The Scotsman]

Friday, 3 December, 2004: A request by Libya to convert chemical weapons production facilities into a pharmaceuticals plant has been given the go-ahead by an international weapons watchdog. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said yesterday it had approved a scheme to covert the facilities into a plant that could produce low-cost medecine against AIDS and malaria. The plant at Rabta produced about 100 tonnes of sulphur mustard gas and other nerve agents in the 1980s. It was closed in 1990 after the United States and others accused Libya of using the facility for nefarious purposes and hinted at action to stop it. [AFP]
Friday, 3 December, 2004: A senior U.S. State Department official yesterday pointed to Libya as an excellent model of a country that gave up developing WMDs and elevated its reputation in the international community. Mitchell Reiss, director of the Office of Policy Planning, told a packed classroom of students at Yonsei University [Korea]'s political science department that Libya "made a strategic decision." Mr. Reiss stressed that the U.S. wants an opportunity to explain the details of the deal to North Korea. Earlier, Libya agreed to give up all its WMDs and related programs and open the country to weapons inspectors. [JoongAng]

Amnesty: Libya; Confirmation Of Sentencing Of Prisoners Is A Step Backwards

LLHR: The Regime In Libya Should Follow The Example Of Chile

Thursday, 2 December, 2004: The decision by the People's Court of Appeal to uphold scores of sentences, including two death sentences, issued today is a new blow to freedom of expression and association in Libya, Amnesty International said. Death sentences against two university professors, Salem Abu Hanak (photo/left) and Abdullah 'Izzedin (right), handed down at first instance in 2002, were upheld on appeal. Some 83 prisoners of conscience, sentenced in the same case in 2002 to prison terms ranging between 10 years and life, also had their sentences confirmed. "We are shocked by the decision to uphold the sentences against these prisoners of conscience and call for their immediate and unconditional release," Amnesty International said. The sentences were reportedly pronounced in absentia after the accused apparently refused to attend today's hearing as a mark of protest. . [Amnesty International]
Thursday, 2 December, 2004: The Italian and Libyan authorities have signed an agreement to restore the Christian cemetery in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. It is a desolate and neglected site, where thousands of Italians were buried. It was considered a place of shame - not to be visited. However, as Libya emerges from isolation, this is expected to change. The Hammangi Cemetery has been a no man's land for decades. However, like elsewhere in Tripoli, something has begun to change. Fabio Marceglia, an Italian working in Libya, was recently visiting the cemetery with his wife. He says it is in a better state now than when he last came here. [VOA]

Wednesday, 1 December, 2004: The Libyan embassy [in Zambia] yesterday denied that the man who was arrested by the Drug Enforcement last week is a national of Libya. In a statement released in Lusaka, the embassy denied that Ahmed Mohsen Mohamed was Libyan. Mohamed was arrested for carrying an expired Egyptian passport and allegedly trafficking in drugs. "We would like to correct the perception that Mr Ahmed Mohsen is Libyan. He was only born in Libya when his father was working in Libya in the 70s," the embassy read. [The Times of Zambia]
Wednesday, 1 December, 2004: Muslim clerics and scholars meeting in Libya from around the world Tuesday denounced attempts to link Islam to terrorism as an injustice to one billion Muslims. A final communiquÚ, issued at the end of a two-day conference in Tripoli organized by the Int'l Islamic Daawa (Call) organization, called on participants to combat all actions that tarnish Islam and undermine its aspects of love and tolerance. The conferees, some 500 clerics and scholars from 120 countries, condemned all aspects of injustice, enmity and the use of force such as invasions, sieges and wars in violation of international norms and principles, stressing that "developments in Palestine and Iraq are examples of injustice targeting Muslims." [UPI]
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