Anger in Lebanon over ‘arrogant’ Iranian president

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri attends a general parliament discussion in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, in this October 18, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 October 2017
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Anger in Lebanon over ‘arrogant’ Iranian president

BEIRUT: Lebanese politicians accused the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani of arrogance on Tuesday after he claimed dominance over the region.
“No decisive actions can be taken in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, North Africa and the Gulf region without Iran’s consent,” Rouhani said in a speech in Tehran on Monday.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri described Rouhani’s speech as unacceptable. “Lebanon is an independent Arab state that accepts no guardianship and refuses whatever undermines its dignity,” he said
The Future Movement Bloc, which has 33 members of Parliament, said Rouhani’s statement was describing it as “arrogant” and “vaunting.”
“It is now obvious that Iran aspires to take control of Lebanon and the region. Several Iranian officials have expressed this wish over the past few years, and we were misled into thinking that they were moderate and open-minded.” the MPs said.
Former Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb said: “Let everyone keep their hands off Lebanon. Leave the country to its government and institutions; they alone can determine its fate.”
The former Justice Minister, Ashraf Rifi, criticized the failure of President Michel Aoun to respond. His “silence in the face of Rouhani’s insult is unacceptable and humiliating,” Rifi said.
Hikmat Dib, an MP from the Change and Reform bloc, said Rouhani’s statement was a response to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “Iran’s influence in the Middle East has become a reality and it is exerted in Lebanon through Hezbollah; however, this does not mean that all decisions taken in Lebanon should pass by Iran first. We are a sovereign country and refuse this logic.”
Dib said that, despite its affiliation to Iran, Hezbollah had always stressed that the Iranian leadership did not intervene in internal Lebanese affairs. “We must appreciate Hezbollah’s role in defeating occupation and fighting terrorism,” he said. “We must also protect internal stability and spare Lebanon regional tensions that result from the intensification of regional conflicts.”
Nadim Gemayel, a member of the Kataeb bloc, said: “Rouhani’s speech proves that everything we said about the new guardianship over Lebanon and the scope of Iran’s influence is true. Al-Hariri’s response to Rouhani was good but it was not enough; the president, who is entrusted with Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, must take a clear and open stance toward this matter.”


Egypt says plane hijacker extradited from Cyprus

Updated 27 min 40 sec ago
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Egypt says plane hijacker extradited from Cyprus

  • Police said Seif Eddin Mustafa, escorted by Egyptian authorities, boarded an EgyptAir flight to Cairo on Saturday evening
  • Seif Eddin Mustafa hijacked the EgyptAir flight in March 2016 using a fake suicide belt and diverted it to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus

NICOSIA, Cyprus: An Egyptian man who hijacked a domestic EgyptAir flight in 2016 and ordered it to land in Cyprus to allegedly protest Egypt’s military-backed government has been extradited to his homeland after giving up a drawn-out legal fight, authorities said Sunday.
Police said Seif Eddin Mustafa, escorted by Egyptian authorities, boarded an EgyptAir flight to Cairo on Saturday evening.
Cyprus Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou told The Associated Press that Mustafa’s extradition went ahead after he dropped a three-year court battle to avoid extradition.
Doros Polycarpou, with the migrant support group KISA that assisted Mustafa, told the AP that the 62-year-old decided of his own accord to return to Egypt and face prosecution there, despite fears that he may be tortured.
Polycarpou said Mustafa told his legal team he was willing “to take the risk” of suffering maltreatment at the hands of Egyptian authorities because he could “no longer take” his holding conditions in Cyprus’ prison complex.
He said Mustafa had complained that he was being held in “isolation” and put under “psychological strain” because authorities kept him away from the prison’s general population.
Mustafa’s change-of-heart stands in stark contrast to his vociferous fight against extradition to Egypt on the grounds that he could face torture or an unfair trial there.
Last year, the European Court of Human Rights blocked Cyprus from extraditing Mustafa until it could rule on whether doing so would violate its prohibition about returning individuals to countries where they may face torture or inhuman treatment.
Mustafa hijacked the EgyptAir flight in March 2016 using a fake suicide belt and diverted it to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. A six-hour standoff with Cypriot authorities on the tarmac of Cyprus’ Larnaca airport ended peacefully after all 72 passengers and crew were released and Mustafa was arrested.
Mustafa told a Cypriot court that he meant no harm to anyone. He said he was trying to expose what he called the “fascist regime” of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and to help secure the release of 63 female dissidents being held in Egyptian prisons.
But prosecutors said Mustafa admitted in a written statement to police that he only carried out the hijacking in order to reunite with his Cypriot family.