UN chief warns 'a wind of madness is sweeping the globe'

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a session during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. The 50th annual meeting of the forum is taking place in Davos from Jan. 21 until Jan. 24, 2020 (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

CAMEROON – U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Tuesday that “a wind of madness is sweeping the globe,” pointing to escalating conflicts from Libya and Yemen to Syria and beyond.

At a wide-ranging news conference, he said, “All situations are different but there is a feeling of growing instability and hair-trigger tensions, which makes everything far more unpredictable and uncontrollable, with a heightened risk of miscalculation.”

The U.N. chief also expressed great frustration that legally binding U.N. Security Council resolutions “are being disrespected before the ink is even dry.”

Guterres singled out Libya where he called the current offensives by the warring parties “a scandal” — coming soon after world powers and other key countries adopted a road map to peace in Berlin on Jan. 19 that called for respect for a U.N. arms embargo, an end to foreign interference in the fighting by rival governments and steps toward a cease-fire.

Libya has been in turmoil since 2011, when a civil war toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi who was later killed.

A weak U.N.-recognized administration that holds the capital Tripoli and parts of the country's west is backed by Turkey and to a lesser degree Qatar and Italy. On the other side is Gen. Khalifa Hifter, whose forces launched a surprise offensive to capture the capital last April from their base in the country's east and are backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt as well as France and Russia.

Guterres said the 55-point Berlin agreement has been repeatedly violated by fighting and continuing arms deliveries. “We are seeing more and more civilians being targeted, ... migrants in a desperate situation and all the commitments that were made apparently were made without a true intention of respecting them,” he said.

The secretary-general also expressed “enormous concern” at the escalation of attacks in Idlib, Syria’s last rebel-held province with a population of 3 million, and said the U.N. is “particularly worried” that the escalation now includes the Syrian and Tukish armies bombing each other. He again urged a cessation of hostilities “before the escalation comes to a situation that then becomes totally out of control.”