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.”


War fears mount despite cease-fire between Gaza and Israel

Updated 22 July 2018
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War fears mount despite cease-fire between Gaza and Israel

  • Any further escalation will deepen humanitarian catastrophe in the Strip: UN chief
  • Before the truce, Israel unleashed an offensive it says destroyed more than 60 Hamas targets, including three battalion headquarters

GAZA CITY: After seven chaotic and violent hours, quiet returned to the Gaza Strip Friday night. Yet on Saturday, civilians in the Palestinian enclave and Israel remained fearful of the potential for a new war.
The fatal shooting by a Palestinian sniper of an Israeli soldier during protests along the border on Friday sparked a widespread wave of Israeli bombing, with three fighters from Hamas killed and dozens of targets struck.
After intensive indirect mediation by the UN and Egypt, a truce came into force at midnight, yet both populations remained on high alert of another all-out conflict between Israel and Hamas.
“War is coming. I know that the (Israeli) occupation is carrying out raids to pave the way with their home base,” Somaya Rabaya, 21, from Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza, said.
While the cease-fire deal included an end to rockets and mortars, it didn’t include a commitment by Hamas to stop what Israeli media have dubbed “terror kites,” a senior Hamas source said.
In a brief statement on Saturday, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the movement accepted the cease-fire brokered by Egyptian and UN officials and that calm had been restored. Later, the Israeli military announced a return to civilian routine along the volatile border.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “gravely concerned” about the escalation and called on both sides to step back from the prospect of another devastating conflict. “Any further escalation will endanger the lives of Palestinians and Israelis alike, deepen the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and undermine current efforts to improve livelihoods,” he said.
On Saturday morning in Gaza, 17-year-old Wissam was with a number of other youths fitting kites with small bottles full of diesel, while sheltering behind a sandbank for fear of Israeli strikes. “This morning, they bombed a Hamas observation post near here. I was afraid they would hit us with a missile,” he said.
Israel says it has no interest is engaging in another war with Hamas, but says it will no longer tolerate the Gaza militant campaign of flying the incendiary devices into Israel.
On Friday, Israel unleashed an offensive it says destroyed more than 60 Hamas targets, including three battalion headquarters.
“The attack delivered a severe blow to the Hamas’ training array, command and control abilities, weaponry, aerial defense and logistic capabilities along with additional military infrastructure,” the Israeli military said in a statement, adding that the strikes “will intensify as necessary.”