News / Middle East

    New Libyan, Egyptian Leaders Make UN Debut

    Egypt's Foreign Minister Mohamed Kemal Ali Amr addresses the 66th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, in New York, September 24, 2011.
    Egypt's Foreign Minister Mohamed Kemal Ali Amr addresses the 66th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, in New York, September 24, 2011.
    Margaret Besheer

    The Arab Spring blew through the U.N. General Assembly hall on Saturday as Libya’s interim prime minister made his debut at the podium and called on the international community to lift sanctions against his country. He was followed by Egypt’s foreign minister, who hailed his people for overthrowing long-time leader Hosni Mubarak in February.

    New Libya

    Libyan interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril spoke in New York as anti-Gadhafi forces in Libya made another push on Sirte, former leader Moammar Gadhafi's hometown and one of the few remaining towns that has not ceded to the National Transitional Council’s authority.

    Jibril recalled Gadhafi’s one and only speech to the General Assembly annual debate in 2009, during which he ranted for more than an hour and dramatically tore up a copy of the U.N. Charter.

    Libya's interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, chairman of the National Transitional Council, addresses the 66th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York September 24, 2011.
    Libya's interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, chairman of the National Transitional Council, addresses the 66th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York September 24, 2011.

    “Today I stand before you, excellencies, to show the world that a new Libya is coming to life," Jibril said. "Libya that looks forward; Libya that has a view to redevelop itself; Libya that wants to heal its wounds; Libya that wants to overcome its pain, to reach out to the entire world. It wants to rebuild itself, to reform its history.”

    Frozen assets

    Jibril said his nation has too many citizens living in poverty, there is high unemployment and very poor healthcare and education. He called several times for the United Nations Security Council to unfreeze the country’s assets so it can pay for development.

    “The asset freeze on our funds must be lifted as urgently as possible. Let me appeal to you from this rostrum: let the Security Council soon take the historic resolution to lift the freeze. The regime has fallen even though we have not liberated the entire homeland yet,” he said.

    The Security Council has taken steps toward lifting the freeze on some Libyan banks and corporations unfreezing more than $16 billion so far, but has not lifted all the sanctions.

    Foreign policy shift

    Jibril also said his people want a radically different foreign policy than that of Moammar Gadhafi.  He said Gadhafi sowed terror, fear and used blackmail in many regions of the world. He said the new Libya would seek international relations based on mutual respect, common interests and non-interference in the affairs of other states.

    Jibril added that the United Nations, which intervened to protect civilians from attacks by pro-Gadhafi forces, would play a pivotal role in his country’s transition to democracy.

    “We believe that the international organization, just as it was a faithful friend then, can now be a trustworthy partner in rebuilding my country. This is the major battle where we appeal for your help and assistance - political, economic, financial and technical,” he said.

    New era, new face

    Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr also addressed the General Assembly, saying he stood before the gathering representing Egypt in a new era and with a new face.

    “I am addressing you today whilst Egypt moves forward determined to complete the transition phase that arose from that remarkable transformative change,” Amr said.

    He praised Egypt’s people who stood up for their belief in democratic reforms, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and praised the Army for supporting them, saying their stance would be remembered by history.

    Palestinian statehood

    But Minister Amr spoke more about the changes sweeping the region than in his country. He criticized the Middle East Quartet for their call Friday on Israel and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table within a month, saying the Quartet’s vision is not “balanced” and failed to address the issue of Israeli settlements.

    He also congratulated Libya and Tunisia for their revolutions, but expressed concern about lingering crackdowns on anti-government protesters in Yemen and Syria.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora