Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Africa

Newsline: Libya to Reopen Iranian Embassy in Tripoli

The Libyan Foreign and International Cooperation Ministry of Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah’s interim Government of National Unity (GNU) announced that efforts are underway to resume the work of the Iranian embassy in the capital, Tripoli. Foreign and International Cooperation Minister Najla Al-Mangoush met with Iran’s ambassador to Libya, Mohamed Reza, to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relations. On its Facebook page, the Ministry wrote that Al-Mangoush tackled with Reza the activation of the joint economic committee between their countries and arrangements for the reopening of the Iranian embassy in Tripoli. Al-Magnoush said Libya welcomes the reestablishment of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, saying the agreement they reached last week will be significant for the stability of the region. (https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/4209336/libya-announces-arrangements-reopen-iranian-embassy-tripoli) The Iranian embassy in Tripoli closed its doors in 2011. In February 2015, the residence of the Iranian ambassador was attacked by a car bomb.

Newsline: Tunisia to appoint ambassador in Syria

Tunisian President Kais Saied said he wants to see Tunisia and Syria appoint ambassadors to their countries, the latest sign that full restoration of diplomatic relations with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government could be imminent. “A decision must be taken on this issue.”, Saied told foreign minister Nabil Ammar during a meeting, according to a video posted on Facebook by the president’s office. (https://neuters.de/world/africa/tunisian-president-says-he-wants-ambassador-syria-state-video-2023-03-10/) Tunisia cut off diplomatic relations with Syria nearly a decade ago to protest Assad’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011 that developed into civil war in which hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed and millions sent fleeing. Since Saied took control of almost all powers in July 2021 in what his political opponents have described as a coup, Tunisia has sent signals it was open to changing its diplomatic stance with Syria. Tunisia reinstituted a limited diplomatic mission to Syria in 2017, in part to help track more than 3,000 Tunisian militants fighting in Syria.

Newsline: South African Parliament Votes to Downgrade Embassy in Israel

South African lawmakers voted Tuesday to downgrade the country’s embassy in Israel, a move welcomed by human rights advocates around the world. The resolution to downgrade the status of South Africa’s embassy in Ramat Gan, just east of Tel Aviv, to a liaison office was introduced by the center-left National Freedom Party (NFP), which hailed the measure’s passage as “a historic moment for our country and a demonstration of our unwavering commitment to justice, human rights, and freedom.” (https://www.commondreams.org/news/israel-south-africa) Holding just two seats in the Parliament, the NFP secured the resolution’s passage with the support of parties including the dominant African National Congress (ANC), Economic Freedom Fighters, United Democratic Movement, African Independent Congress, Al-Jama-ah, and Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania. While Israel’s Foreign Ministry called the vote “shameful and disgraceful,” NFP Member of Parliament Ahmed Munzoor Shaik Emam, who introduced the resolution, said after its passage that “this is a moment Madiba would be proud of.” Emam was referring to former South African president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, who advocated for Palestinian rights and for Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.

Newsline: Algeria to reopen its embassy in Ukraine

Algeria will reopen its embassy in Kyiv one year after it was closed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Algerian state television said on Sunday citing a foreign ministry statement. “This decision falls within the framework of preserving the interests of the Algerian state and the interests of the national community in this country,” state TV quoted the foreign ministry statement as saying. “The Algerian embassy in Kiev, which suspended its activities due to the deteriorating security situation in Ukraine, will be managed by the Chargé d’Affaires.” The decision to reopen the embassy will be effective “as soon as possible,” the statement read. (https://neuters.de/world/africa/algeria-reopen-its-embassy-kyiv-after-one-year-closure-2023-02-26/) The embassy closed in March last year.

Newsline: Senior Israeli diplomat removed from African Union’s summit

A senior Israeli diplomat was on Saturday ejected from the African Union’s annual summit in Ethiopia, as a dispute over Israel’s accreditation to the bloc escalated. Images posted online showed AU security personnel confronting the diplomat during the opening ceremony of the summit, before she left the auditorium. “Israel looks harshly upon the incident in which the deputy director for Africa, Ambassador Sharon Bar-Li, was removed from the African Union hall despite her status as an accredited observer with entrance badges,” the foreign ministry said. Ebba Kalondo, the spokesperson for the African Union’s commission chairman, said the diplomat had been removed because she was not the duly accredited Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia, the official who was expected. But Israel blamed the incident on South Africa and Algeria, two key nations in the 55-nation bloc, saying they were holding the AU hostage, and were driven by “hate”. “We call on the countries of Africa to stand up against these actions that harm the organization of the African Union itself and the entire continent,” the Israeli foreign ministry said. South Africa rejected the claim, saying Israel’s application for observer status at the AU has not been decided upon by the bloc. “Until the AU takes a decision on whether to grant Israel observer status, you cannot have the country sitting and observing,” Clayson Monyela, head of public diplomacy in South Africa’s department of international relations, told Reuters. (https://neuters.de/world/africa/top-israeli-diplomat-ejected-au-summit-row-escalates-2023-02-18/) South Africa’s ruling party has historically been a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause.

Newsline: Algerian arrested for threatening to blast Saudi embassy

Algerian security forces arrested one person who threatened to blast the headquarters of the Saudi embassy in Algiers, Algerian state TV reported on Wednesday. The Saudi embassy received a call at 3 a.m. local time (0200 GMT) on Wednesday from a person who threatened to bomb its headquarters, the TV added, citing a statement from the capital’s security forces. (https://neuters.de/world/africa/algeria-arrests-one-person-who-threatened-blast-saudi-embassy-2023-02-15/) The capital’s security forces arrested the suspect after investigations, the report said adding that the person was subjected to medical checks and psychological tests before being prosecuted. There was no immediate comment from the Saudi embassy in Algeria or the Saudi authorities.

Newsline: Tunisia strengthens diplomatic ties with Syria

Tunisian President Kais Saied has decided to strengthen diplomatic ties with Syria, the presidency said on Thursday, the clearest sign yet of Tunisia’s intention to fully restore relations days after a deadly earthquake that has devastated large parts of Syria. “The issue of the Syrian regime is an internal matter that concerns only the Syrians,” Saied said in statement following a meeting with his country’s foreign affairs minister. He added that “the ambassador is accredited to the state and not to the regime.” (https://neuters.de/world/tunisian-president-decides-strengthen-diplomatic-ties-with-syria-2023-02-09/) Tunisia cut off diplomatic relations with Syria nearly a decade ago. After that, Tunisia reinstituted a limited diplomatic mission to Syria in 2017, in part to help track more than 3,000 Tunisian militants fighting in Syria.

Newsline: Algeria recalls ambassador to Paris

Algeria recalled its ambassador to Paris on Wednesday, accusing France of orchestrating the escape of an activist it wants for arrest and triggering a new crisis between the countries after months of increasingly warm relations. Amira Bouraoui, a rights activist detained during the 2019 mass protests in Algeria and freed from prison in 2020, had allegedly crossed into Tunisia illegally after evading Algerian judicial surveillance, according to Algerian and French media. She was arrested in Tunisia this week and faced an extradition hearing, but the judge ordered her to be freed and she was allowed to leave the country on Monday. French media has reported that her release and flight to France resulted from French diplomatic pressure on Tunisia. On Tuesday Tunisian President Kais Saied dismissed Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi without giving a reason. Algeria’s Foreign Ministry accused Paris of “violation of national sovereignty by French diplomatic, consular and security personnel who participated in the illegal and secret evacuation of an Algerian national”. It added in a statement that the development is “unacceptable and harms Algerian-French relations”. (https://neuters.de/world/africa/algeria-recalls-ambassador-paris-over-activists-flight-2023-02-08/) France’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment. A spokesperson for Tunisia’s government was not immediately available to comment.

Newsline: Tunisian foreign minister dismissed

Tunisian President Kais Saied dismissed Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi, replacing him with the former ambassador to the European Union and Belgium Nabil Ammar. A statement from the presidency’s office announcing the change did not give any reason for Jerandi’s dismissal or Ammar’s appointment. (https://neuters.de/world/africa/tunisian-president-dismisses-foreign-affairs-minister-2023-02-07/) Jerandi tweeted on Tuesday that he had phoned his Syrian counterpart after Saied had tasked him with directing aid to Syria and Turkey in response to the earthquakes there. Jerandi was appointed foreign minister in 2020 and had previously served in the role from 2013-14.

Newsline: Israel’s Ambassador robbed on the streets of Lusaka

Israel’s ambassador to Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana was mugged on a street in Lusaka last week, with the robbers getting away with her diplomatic passport, her cellphone, and some cash that was in her bag. Ambassador Ofra Farhi was crossing a street in Lusaka on Friday when she was mugged, according to Ynet, as cited by The Times of Israel. (https://mbaretimes.com/2023/02/israels-ambassador/) A car pulled up alongside her and the occupants grabbed her bag and dragged her resulting in her sustaining some minor injuries. Farhi’s bodyguards, who were with her at the time, did not manage to prevent the crime. She was treated at a local clinic and continued on to her scheduled meetings with local officials. Zambian Foreign Minister Stanley Kakubo and a presidential adviser both called Farhi to offer their support. Farhi is a roving ambassador who lives in Israel and makes diplomatic visits to the countries she serves.