Arab League: Syria seat not yet given to coalition

Updated 15 May 2013
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Arab League: Syria seat not yet given to coalition

DUBAI: The vacant Syrian seat at the Arab League has not been given to the opposition, even though its leader addressed the bloc’s last summit, the League’s secretary general said yesterday.
“The opinion was that if they (opposition) form a government, which they have not done yet, then they can become a representative,” Nabil Elaraby told reporters in Dubai.
He said the opposition chief had been invited to address the March summit in Doha by the meeting’s Qatari host, not by the bloc.
“Yes, they were invited to address the summit, but until now, the opposition is not invited to meetings, because it has not formed a government,” Elaraby said.
Meanwhile, Syria’s opposition National Coalition warned yesterday that 30,000 civilians in the rebel-held town of Qusayr faced an “extremely dangerous situation” as regime troops prepare to attack.
President Bashar Assad has “mobilized military forces in the direction of the city of Qusayr, in the province of Homs,” the statement said, describing reports of dozens of tanks and large groups of soldiers on the outskirts of the town.
“The Syrian Coalition stresses that this is an extremely dangerous situation. We warn civil society of these new crimes that Assad may soon commit against the residents of Qusayr.”
The statement called on NGOs to head to Qusayr and for quick international action “to help save 30,000 civilians facing imminent danger.”
“We ask the (UN) Security Council to issue a decision forcing Lebanon to control its borders, and thus guarantee the withdrawal of Hezbollah members from Syrian territory,” the coalition said.
Qatar, which has taken a lead in arming the Syrian opposition, is coordinating with the CIA and has tightened control of the arms flow to keep weapons out of the hands of Al-Qaeda-linked fighters, according to rebels and officials familiar with the operation.
With Britain and France discussing lifting an EU ban on arming the rebels fighting Assad, Western countries are concerned about making sure no arms end up in the hands of groups like Jabhat Al-Nusra, which has pledged support for Al-Qaeda and which Washington considers a terrorist group.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s prime minister says authorities have detained four more people in connection with two car bomb attacks in a Turkish town near the Syrian border, bringing the number of suspects in custody to 13.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said yesterday the death toll in the attacks has increased to 51.


Campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

Updated 24 April 2018
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Campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

  • Lebanon's independent Sabaa party talks about exploitation of positions and money.
  • Several young men from the Sabaa party demonstrated on Tuesday outside the Ministry of Interior.
BEIRUT: Sectarian and partisan polarization resulting from fierce competition for parliamentary seats in Lebanon has led to the first armed clash between two rival Druze parties.
Machine guns were used in the clash between the Progressive Socialist Party, led by MP Walid Jumblatt, and the Lebanese Democratic Party, led by Talal Arslan, which took place on Sunday evening in the city of Choueifat, about 5 km south of Beirut.
The two parties’ leaders acted quickly to calm their supporters.
“When politicians plant seeds of hatred and grudges among people, they commit a crime against citizens who have been breaking bread together for centuries,” Jumblatt said in a tweet.
In a joint statement, the two parties stressed “the need to avoid any steps that could provoke anger among supporters or disturb citizens who look forward to freely exercising their right to vote in an atmosphere of democratic competition.”
The two parties, alongside other parties with supporters in Choueifat, such as Hezbollah, the Lebanese Forces, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and the Amal Movement, have agreed on “disowning anyone who breaches security, requesting that the security forces intensify their presence in Choueifat, identifying fixed locations until the elections are over, and restraining from carrying out provocative processions.”
Campaigning lasts 24 hours before polling and has seen various kinds of violations of the electoral law.
Several young men from the Sabaa party — a group of independent activists — demonstrated on Tuesday outside the Ministry of Interior, carrying banners questioning the ministry’s role in election-related issues.
“Serious violations are taking place because the country is out of control; many are exploiting their positions and pouring (in) their money, and conflicts are happening at grassroots level — people are tearing down photos of candidates and individuals are fighting with one another,” said Gilbert Hobeish on behalf of the demonstrators.
He added: “This is unacceptable, and the minister of interior must take responsibility.”
Hobeish criticized the Electoral Supervisory Commission, saying “it only oversees the civil society or change candidates.”
“We reject this in toto,” he said.
Ali Al-Amin, a candidate on the Shbaana Haki electoral list (who was assaulted last Sunday by Hezbollah supporters in the town of Shaqra because he hung his photo outside his house), held a press conference in the town of Nabatiyah Al-Fawqa and renewed his protest against “the tyranny that silences voices, oppresses liberties and acts on its own will and temperaments, making us feel as if we were in the law of the jungle era.”
He said that “resistance isn’t anyone’s property nor is it one party’s ownership.”
He also called on “the free people of the south to decide which life they wanted and to which homeland and identity they belonged.”
Campaign fever is rising in Lebanon 48 hours before the elections are held for the first time for Lebanese communities in several Arab countries. These elections are to be held 11 days before parliamentary elections take place inside Lebanon.