Lebanon feels repercussions of Al-Hariri's shock resignation

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This photo from Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri’s Twitter account shows him with Saudi ambassador to Lebanon Waleed Yakoob. ‘It was a pleasure meeting Ambassador Waleed Yakoob after his swearing in before King Salman in Riyadh on Sunday,’ said Al-Hariri in his first tweet since his aannouncement of resignation on Saturday.
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This file photo taken on November 03, 2016 shows Lebanon's new Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaking to journalists following his nomination at the presidential palace in Baabda, near Beirut. (AFP)
Updated 06 November 2017
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Lebanon feels repercussions of Al-Hariri's shock resignation

BEIRUT: Lebanon has continued to feel the repercussions of the shock resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri.

Political positions ranged from support from Al-Hariri’s allies and those who remain in shock, such as the Free Patriotic Movement to Hezbollah, which insists on considering Al-Hariri’s decision “bad.”

Dar Al-Fatwa, Lebanon’s highest Sunni authority, witnessed a series of meetings and statements stressing the importance of the “unity of the Sunni sect to which the prime minister belongs, according to the Lebanese constitution.

“No one of the Sunni political figures will accept his appointment as prime minister in succession to Prime Minister Al-Hariri,” sources close to Dar Al-Fatwa told Arab News, pointing out that the meetings “unanimously agreed to confirm unity at this crucial stage.”

Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abul Latif Al-Daryan met with Charge d’Affaires of the Saudi Embassy in Lebanon, Minister Plenipotentiary Walid Al-Bukhari.

“What is happening in the Lebanese arena today is dangerous and requires more awareness, wisdom, and national unity among the Lebanese,” Al-Daryan said.

He stressed that the resignation of Al-Hariri was “a shock that did not come out of nothing. We support him and understand this resignation and it should be treated with care and dialogue.”

“Lebanon is for all its people,” Al-Daryan stressed, saying: “Saudi Arabia is keen on the security and stability of Lebanon and wants what is good for Lebanon as it wants good for other Arab countries that have fraternal relations with Lebanon and the Lebanese people.”

The head of the “Future” parliamentary bloc, Fouad Siniora, said in media statements that the resignation of Al-Hariri was "an alarm for the developments of political settlement in Lebanon.”

Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement considered the political settlement accepted by Al-Hariri as "a weakness to achieve political gains.”

Siniora said: “The state should be the sole authority in Lebanon,” accusing Hezbollah of “acting according to Iranian instructions.”

Marada movement head, Suleiman Franjieh, tweeted: “We will not accept a prime minister who defies the Sunni component and does not enjoy national consensus.”

Strategic expert Antoine Haddad told Arab News: “Lebanon faces several possibilities, either an unprecedented Israeli war with its destructive capability, or Lebanon being completely isolated as a result of a larger economic blockade, especially as Arab countries are an important economic partner for Lebanon, both in terms of Lebanese investment and employment in the Gulf states.”

This isolation may be added to the recent US sanctions which put Lebanon in an unprecedented situation. “The likely possibility is that Hezbollah and Iran will back down from their determination to use Lebanon as a battlefield,” Haddad added.

The presidential palace did not issue any statement about the announcement of the date of parliamentary consultations to appoint a new prime minister, which is stipulated in the constitution after the prime minister submits his resignation.

Free Patriotic Movement leader, Gebran Bassil, commented on the crisis in an interview with his supporters that appeared to be an attempt to heal the rift with Al-Hariri.

“If it is something that is not agreed upon by everyone; it comes with the background of preserving the country. We know very well that rule in Lebanon is not about excluding any Lebanese. Everything that happened before was a mistake that will not be repeated. We are determined to be together in ruling and government.”


Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

Updated 16 June 2019
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Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

  • Russian-backed regime forces try to retake villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters
  • The clashes also left 26 pro-regime forces dead in the north of Hama province

 

BEIRUT: At least 10 civilians and 35 combatants, mostly pro-regime forces, were killed on Saturday in clashes and airstrikes that erupted at dawn in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said.

The flare-up came as Russian-backed regime forces tried to retake two villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters earlier this month, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Since this morning, the Syrian regime and allied fighters have launched five failed attempts to regain control of Jibine and Tal Maleh in northwestern Hama province,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Syrian regime airstrikes killed nine opposition fighters, the war monitor said.

Ensuing clashes in the north of Hama province left 26 pro-regime forces dead, including eight who were killed in a mine explosion, the Observatory said.

In neighboring Idlib, regime airstrikes killed 10 civilians, including three children, the Observatory said.

The strikes hit the towns of Maaret Al-Numan and Al-Bara as well as the village of Al-Ftira, according to the war monitor.

The Idlib region of some 3 million people is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented, as opposition refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.

In January, the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian regime and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Turkey said on Friday that it did not accept Russia’s “excuse” that it had no ability to stop the Syrian regime’s continued bombardments in the last opposition bastion of Idlib.

“In Syria, who are the regime’s guarantors? Russia and Iran,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state news agency Anadolu in a televised interview.

“Thus we do not accept the excuse that ‘We cannot make the regime listen to us’,” he said.

His comments came as Turkey disagreed with Russia earlier this week after Moscow claimed a new cease-fire had been secured in the province following weeks of regime bombardments — a claim that was denied by Ankara.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-regime protests.

Russia launched a military intervention in support of the regime in 2015, helping its forces reclaim large parts of the country from opposition fighters and militants.