Rein in Hezbollah, Yemen tells Lebanon

Updated 13 July 2018
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Rein in Hezbollah, Yemen tells Lebanon

BEIRUT: Yemen’s Foreign Minister has called on Lebanon’s caretaker government to “rein in” Hezbollah and its aggressive tactics in support of the rebel Houthi militia.
“The Republic of Yemen reserves the right to present the matter to the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Security Council,” Khalid Hussein Al-Yamani said in a letter to the Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. The contents of the letter were aired by Sky News.
Al-Yamani said that Hezbollah’s support for the Houthis was evident in a recent televised address by its Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, who called on Houthis to fight Yemeni government forces, and expressed “his party’s ambition to fight in Yemen against the internationally recognized legitimate authority.”
The foreign minister described the address as “blatant interference in the internal affairs of my country, which would seriously damage Yemen’s national security and fuel the flames of war.”
“The Yemeni government condemns Hezbollah’s statements and practices, including participation in training, planning and incitement and supporting the coup movements,” he said.
The Arab Coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, said on Monday that it had evidence of Hezbollah’s involvement in training Houthi militias.
The Lebanese Foreign Ministry did not comment on the Yemeni demand.
However, Mustafa Alloush, of the Future Movement, told Arab News: “The meaning of this message is that Hezbollah’s damage to Lebanon continues.
“The Lebanese government will not respond to this message, not because it supports Hezbollah but because it is unable to restrain the party,” he said.
The situation in Yemen was the focus of a recent meeting between the United Arab Emirates Ambassador to Lebanon, Hamad Said Al-Shamsi, and the United Nations Coordinator in Lebanon, Bernell Dahler Cardel.
Al-Yamani said that talks focused on “the integrated humanitarian plan that is being implemented to ensure easy access and provision of aid, as well as the protection of unarmed civilians through close coordination between the legitimate forces and international humanitarian organizations.”
He highlighted support for the efforts of UN special envoy Martin Griffiths confirming that Houthi militias should withdraw from territories they occupied illegally as a prerequisite for accelerating peace negotiations.


Morocco’s litter-strewn beaches kick up a stink

Updated 35 min 6 sec ago
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Morocco’s litter-strewn beaches kick up a stink

  • Every summer, Morocco’s media publish reports lambasting the condition of sands stretching from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic
  • A nationwide ban on platic bags imposed in 2016 appears to have done little to stem the tide of rubbish piling up on beaches

RABAT: Blessed with a coastline that stretches for hundreds of kilometers across flat sandy expanses and rugged coves, Morocco’s beaches should be a magnet — but a litter crisis risks repelling sun seekers, citizens say.
On a small beach in the capital Rabat the words “Keep your city clean” are daubed across largely empty bins, seemingly mocked by the detritus on the ground.
The litter “spoils the pleasure,” says 22-year-old Said, who has come to Oudayas beach for a dip with friends to cool off on a hot day.
“Unfortunately, people don’t realize the importance of keeping beaches clean,” he laments, surrounded by cigarette butts and other trash, just a few steps from the edge of the old city.
Some feel they are fighting a losing battle.
“Rubbish collectors clean the beach from top to bottom every morning, but in the evening, bathers leave it even dirtier,” says a local official.
“Perhaps megaphones should be used to sensitise the people and embarrass the polluters,” the official adds.
The state of this small beach in the capital is far from unique.
Every summer, Morocco’s media publish reports lambasting the condition of sands stretching from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.
A nationwide ban on platic bags imposed in 2016 appears to have done little to stem the tide of rubbish piling up on beaches, despite authorities strictly enforcing the measure.
The problem is in part generated outside Morocco — Greenpeace estimates that the equivalent of a truckload of plastic enters the world’s seas every 60 seconds.
And the activist group said in June it had found microplastics in samples collected in Antarctic waters.
But volunteers who take part in beach clean-ups say far too many Moroccans dump refuse without a second thought.
“In recent years we’ve seen water pollution increase due to a lack of awareness,” says 45-year-old Mohammed el Machkour, president of the Al Marjane sporting association.
Only 21 out of 40 beaches nominated nationwide for the coveted international “Blue Flag” status have met criteria, due to litter, poor water quality and other issues.
In Morocco’s commercial capital, netizens post indignantly on a “Save Casablanca” Facebook page.
“The people are disgusting,” one post says; “there is no environmental policing,” laments another, while a third demands the council provide more bins.
And it is not only beaches that are affected.
Returning from a recent lakeside walk near Rabat, Britain’s ambassador to Morocco Thomas Reilly tweeted his horror.
“The place has been ruined by plastic waste, sandwich remains, bottles and filth... it was disgusting. Morocco deserves better,” he said.
In a bid to shore up tourism, Morocco has launched several initiatives over the last couple of decades to improve the beaches.
An environmental body established in the king’s name spearheads annual beach clean-ups and funds television advertising campaigns.
The Mohammed VI Foundation has also worked to improve water quality — with some apparent success.
An analysis of 165 beaches at the start of the summer season showed 97 percent of waters “conform with microbiological standards,” compared to 72 percent in 2002, according to the secretary of state for the environment.
But back in Rabat, people still complain.
The hygiene “situation isn’t much better under the water,” says 25-year-old Hassan, near the beach.
In early July, a local association asked divers to volunteer to clean Sale marina, opposite Oudayas beach.
After two hours in the water, the divers recovered a litany of items, from iron bars to plastic bottles.
“We have taken part in cleaning a patch of the waters — hopefully people will understand the importance of keeping the beach clean,” says 22-year-old diver Alaeddine.
The divers are determined to bring about a culture change, even as they swim against the tide.
“We don’t claim to be able to clean all the sea and river, but we want to send a message on the importance of protecting the environment, above all to young people,” says another volunteer.