Disarming Hezbollah out of question: Iran

Two fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah stand near Katyusha rockets in the southern village of Ein Qana, Lebanon. (AP file)
Updated 23 November 2017
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Disarming Hezbollah out of question: Iran

ANKARA: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are ready to help rebuild Syria and bring about a lasting “cease-fire” there, chief commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said, adding that disarming Lebanon’s Hezbollah is out of the question, state TV reported on Thursday.
Iranian state television quoted Jafari as saying: “Hezbollah must be armed to fight against the enemy of the Lebanese nation which is Israel. Naturally, they should have the best weapons to protect Lebanon’s security. This issue is non-negotiable.”
He said: “Iran only provides advisory and spiritual assistance to Yemen ... and this help will continue.”
Jafari also praised the success of Iranian allies across the region, hailing a “resistance front” from Tehran to Beirut.
“We directly deal with global arrogance and Israel not with their emissaries...,” he said. The term global arrogance refers to the US.
“The guards are ready to play an active role in establishing a lasting cease-fire in Syria ... and reconstruction of the country,” Jafari said.
“In meetings with the (Iran) government, it was agreed that the Guards were in a better position to help Syria’s reconstruction ... the preliminary talks already have been held with the Syrian government over the issue,” Jafari said
Jafari repeated Iran’s stance on its disputed ballistic missile work, saying the Islamic Republic’s missile program is for defensive purposes and not up for negotiation.
The program was not part of the 2015 nuclear deal with Western powers under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions.
“Iran will not negotiate its defensive program ... there will be no talks about it,” he said.
“(French president Emmanuel) Macron’s remarks over our missile work is because he is young and inexperienced.”
Macron said earlier this month that Tehran should be less aggressive in the region and should clarify the strategy around its ballistic missile program.


Lebanese seek to save landmark concrete park from crumbling

Updated 32 min 5 sec ago
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Lebanese seek to save landmark concrete park from crumbling

  • An exhibition is ongoing at the site designed by legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in a call to save it
  • Until Oct. 23, a show titled “Cycles of Collapsing Progress” seeks to celebrate the era that gave rise to the fairground

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Close to the seafront in Lebanon’s Tripoli, giant curves of concrete stand testimony to dreams before the civil war, etchings of an exhibition park never finished but already cracking.
This month, a rare exhibition is being held at the site designed by legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in a desperate call to save it from ruin.
Inside the vast grey grounds of the Tripoli International Fair in northern Lebanon, a palm tree throws its dark silhouette onto a giant concrete dome.
A thin arch sweeps high over a narrow footbridge, and a steep staircase spirals up vertically, onto a circular cement platform perched on a curvaceous pillar.
“It’s a futurist paradigm that is unique in Lebanon and the region,” said Lebanese architect Wassim Naghi.
“In its modernity, in its reliance on curves, it sums up the progress of architecture over a hundred years,” he said.
And with buildings dotted over an area the size of 70 rugby pitches, it’s among “Niemeyer’s largest works outside Brazil,” he said.
The Brazilian architect designed landmarks around the globe during a decades-long career that started in the 1930s and ended in the 21st century.
When he died six years ago aged 104, he left behind hundreds of buildings, in Brazil as well as in the United States, France, Malaysia, Algeria and Cuba.
But today his work in Lebanon is in urgent need of restoration.
“These buildings of reinforced concrete need to be restored rapidly. There are buildings being eaten away at, blocks falling down, and many cracks,” Naghi warned.
“We fear there will be unpleasant surprises, especially during the rainy season,” he said.
Until October 23, a show titled “Cycles of Collapsing Progress” seeks to celebrate the era that gave rise to the fairground, but also sound the alarm.
In the halls under the perched platform, visitors can admire a seabed of snaking rebar, or even an elongated white space rocket hanging from the cieling.
The show “documents a golden age in Lebanon’s modern history — the architectural, scientific and cultural dreams of the time,” said curator Karina Al-Helu.
During the 1960s, the tiny Mediterranean country had its own space program, successfully launching a small unmanned rocket into space.
When Niemeyer was first asked to design the outdoor space in 1962, there were plans for the rooms under the circular platform to house a space museum.
But dreams of outer-space exploration, and any museum to commemorate it, were indefinitely put on hold with the outbreak of the 1975-1990 civil war.
The exhibition aims to remind Lebanese visitors of this chapter of the country’s recent past, Helu said, but also shine a light on a landmark about to collapse.
In a country whose history goes back millennia to the Phoenician period, she urged the authorities to give equal attention to modern architecture.
“It’s great to restore buildings that show Lebanon’s ancient history, but we should also care about the landmarks of this country’s modern history,” she said.
Architect Naghi said he was not optimistic about any immediate intervention by the government.
“The current atmosphere of crisis in the country doesn’t bode well,” he said, referring to a months-long deadlock over forming a cabinet.
Any renovation should involve in-depth studies and specialized companies, he said, “and that would require a lot of money, as well as a government decision.”
Instead, Naghi and others hope that the site can be added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Brazil’s capital Brasilia and an outdoor center in the south of the country, both of which were designed by Niemeyer, are already featured on it.
Sahar Baassiri, Lebanon’s delegate to UNESCO, said efforts were now being made toward adding the concrete park to the list’s contemporary architecture section.
Akram Oueida, president of the fairground, said Lebanese officials have made promises of assistance, but none have yet materialized.
Getting the concrete park listed by UNESCO may help, Oueida said: “That could open the door to funding from donors.”