Arab League flays Iran for attacks on Saudi missions

Updated 12 January 2016
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Arab League flays Iran for attacks on Saudi missions

CAIRO: Arab League foreign ministers agreed at an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday to condemn the attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran and accused the Tehran government of failing to protect them.
In a closing statement distributed after the meeting, the Arab League also denounced the reported discovery by Bahrain of a militant group that it said was backed by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
All members of the Arab League voted in favor of the statement, with the exception of Lebanon, where Iranian-backed Hezbollah is a powerful political force.
The statement did not agree on any specific joint measures against Iran but set up a committee to keep up discussions of the crisis and consult on possible future actions.
Top Arab diplomats gathered earlier in the day in Cairo for emergency talks to discuss tensions with Iran.
Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said Iran was interfering in Arab affairs and undermining regional security.
Speaking of the attacks on Saudi's dimplomatic missions in Tehran, he said: "These attacks clearly reflect the approach that the Iranian policy is taking in our Arab region specifically ... with its interference in the affairs of the (region's) states and instigation of sectarian strife and shaking its security and stability."
Al-Jubeir also said the cutting of diplomatic and commercial ties with Iran was a first step and it could take more action if Tehran does not change its policies, but did not expect the dispute to affect efforts to end the war in Syria.
The diplomat said the Kingdom would discuss any potential further actions against Iran with its regional and international allies but gave no details on what those measures might involve.
Al-Jubeir said some countries had offered to mediate but that required Iran to be serious about the efforts.
Meanwhile, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said Iran intentionally failed to protect Saudi diplomatic posts.
Al-Nahyan said the attack "took place under the nose and within the earshot of security forces."
Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby accused Tehran of "provocative acts" and called on Arab states to take a "clear stance" against Iran's meddling in Arab affairs.


Lebanon's Christian rivals shake hands after decades of hostility

Updated 58 min 31 sec ago
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Lebanon's Christian rivals shake hands after decades of hostility

  • Geagea and Frangieh have been foes since the early days of the 1975-1990 civil war

BEIRUT: Christian rivals from the Lebanese civil war, Samir Geagea and Suleiman Frangieh, shook hands with each other on Wednesday, marking a formal reconciliation to end more than four decades of enmity.
Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces (LF) political party, and Frangieh, head of the Marada party, have been foes since the early days of the 1975-1990 civil war.
The two parties had armed militias during the conflict that battled against each other. The war, which drew in regional powers, included fighting between the country’s main sects and rival factions within those sects.

The men, both Maronite Christians, met to reconcile at the seat of the sect’s Patriarch Bechara Al-Rai in Bkerki, north of Beirut. They shook hands with Rai and then with each other after several failed reconciliation attempts over the years.
Geagea has been accused of leading a raid in 1978 on the home of Frangieh’s father, Tony Franjieh, a rival Maronite Christian chieftain, who was killed with his wife, daughter and others. Geagea has said he was wounded before reaching Frangieh’s house, and did not take part himself.
This is the second rapprochement of recent years between civil war Maronite Christian rivals.
In January 2016 Geagea endorsed then presidential candidate Michel Aoun for the Lebanese presidency, ending his own rival candidacy for the position, which must be held by a Maronite Christian under Lebanon’s sectarian power sharing system.
Geagea and Aoun, who fought each other in the 1975-90 civil war, have been on opposite sides of the political divide since Syrian forces withdrew from Lebanon in 2005.
President Aoun is a political ally of the Iran-backed Shiite group Hezbollah, whereas Geagea is a staunch opponent of the group. Frangieh is a close ally of Syrian President and Hezbollah ally Bashar Assad.
Tony Frangieh, Suleiman’s son, said the reconciliation was a good thing for all Lebanese and was not connected to any presidential aims.
“We are looking forward to the future by achieving this reconciliation,” he told Lebanese broadcaster Al-Jadeed at the ceremony.