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Arab League denies Libya-Lebanon mediation request

The Arab League said yesterday that it has not been asked to mediate between Libya and Lebanon following Tripoli’s recent announcement that it is boycotting the Arab Economic Summit due to be held in Beirut later this month.

“The Arab League’s secretary general was not asked to mediate between Libya and Lebanon regarding Libya’s participation in the upcoming Arab Economic Summit,” official spokesperson Mahmoud Afifi told the Egyptian state-owned MENA news agency. “Libya has officially announced its boycott of the summit in the wake of the burning of its country’s flag by the Amal movement in Beirut.” Afifi described the incident as “regrettable”, as did Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.

With “27 Arab social and economic issues” on the agenda, the League spokesman said that it remains to be seen where things will be heading. “The summit is due to discuss Arab food safety, developments of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area and the Arab Common Electricity Market, as well as the challenges faced by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees [UNRWA],” he explained.

UNRWA has been facing its biggest financial crisis after a US decision last year to reduce its annual donation to just $65 million, compared with $365 million in 2017. Apart from a core of UN central funding, all of UNRWA’s running costs depend entirely on voluntary donations.

The summit in Beirut will also discuss the developments in Yemen and the implementation of the Somali Development Plan.

On Monday, a group of supporters of the Lebanese parliament speaker and the leader of the Amal movement, Nabih Berri, took down a Libyan flag flying near the summit venue in downtown Beirut. Following the incident, Libya’s Government of National Accord demanded “clarifications” from the Arab League.

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