Jordan foils militant pipeline smuggling plot, says army

A view of the Trans-Arabian Pipeline in 1950. (Ryan Navion/Wikimedia Commons)
Updated 17 February 2018
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Jordan foils militant pipeline smuggling plot, says army

AMMAN: Jordan’s army said on Saturday it has foiled a plot to smuggle arms, drugs and “terrorists” through a disused oil pipeline along its border with Syria.
“The Jordanian armed forces were able... to thwart a plan to smuggle weapons, drugs and terrorists” through the pipeline, an official in the general command said in a statement.
“A group of terrorists and drug traffickers” had used a house near the Jordan-Syria border and the disused Trans-Arabian Pipeline (Tapline) to “dig and prepare a series of tunnels for use in smuggling operations and to carry out terrorist attacks,” the official said.
Authorities have ordered the destruction of the tunnels and instructed army engineering units to unearth the pipeline to prevent other “smugglers and terrorists” from using it.
Tapline used to transport Saudi oil through Jordan, Syria’s Golan Heights — parts of which have been occupied by Israel since 1967 — onto Lebanon and the Mediterranean.
The 1,200-km pipeline was built in 1950 and links the Saudi oilfield of Abqaiq to the Mediterranean terminal of Zahrani, 40 km south of Beirut.
Oil transport through Tapline to Lebanon stopped in 1981 because of the Lebanese civil war.


Moody’s sees risk of Lebanon debt rescheduling despite budget

Updated 40 min 35 sec ago
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Moody’s sees risk of Lebanon debt rescheduling despite budget

  • The draft budget aims to cut the deficit to 7.6 percent of gross domestic product from 11.5 percent last year
  • Lebanon has long depended on financial transfers from its diaspora to meet the economy’s financing needs
BEIRUT: Slowing capital inflows to Lebanon and weaker deposit growth increase the risk of a government response that will include a debt rescheduling or another liability management exercise that may constitute a default, Moody’s Investors Service said.
This was despite fiscal consolidation measures included in the draft 2019 budget that is being debated in parliament, Moody’s said in a June 25 credit analysis.
Asked about the report, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said on Thursday “matters are under control.”
The draft budget aims to cut the deficit to 7.6 percent of gross domestic product from 11.5 percent last year, with Lebanese leaders warning the country faces financial crisis without reform.
Lebanon’s public debt is 150 percent of GDP, among the largest in the world. State finances are strained by a bloated public sector, high debt-servicing costs and subsidies for power.
The Moody’s report said: “Despite the inclusion of fiscal consolidation measures in the draft 2019 budget, slowing capital inflows and weaker deposit growth increase the risk that the government’s response will include a debt rescheduling or another liability management exercise that may constitute a default under our definition.”
Lebanon has long depended on financial transfers from its diaspora to meet the economy’s financing needs, chiefly the state budget deficit and the current account deficit of an economy that imports heavily and exports little by comparison.