Lebanon president says US pullout from Iran deal will hurt Middle East

FILE PHOTO: Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon, Nov. 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo
Updated 16 July 2018
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Lebanon president says US pullout from Iran deal will hurt Middle East

  • "US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement will have negative repercussions for stability in the region," Aoun wrote
  • Aoun is a political ally of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah

BEIRUT: Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Monday the US withdrawal from world powers’ 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran would have negative consequences for Middle East stability.
Aoun, a Maronite Christian politician, is a political ally of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah. The United States, which classifies Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, arms and trains Lebanon’s army.
“The unilateral US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement (in May) will have negative repercussions for security and stability in the region,” Aoun wrote on Twitter, his first public comment on the accord.
“Lebanon considered (the deal) a cornerstone for stability in the region, helping make it an area free of weapons of mass destruction,” Aoun’s office said in a statement summarising a meeting between him and Iranian foreign ministry official Hossein Jaberi Ansari.
Aoun said he welcomed the commitment of other countries to continue with the deal.
In Lebanon’s May parliamentary elections Hezbollah together with groups and individuals that are politically aligned to it won more than half of parliament’s seats, boosting the group politically.
Under the 2015 accord, Iran won a lifting of international sanctions in return for verifiable curbs on its disputed uranium enrichment program.
US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the deal in May, calling it deeply flawed, and has reimposed stringent US sanctions, heaping pressure on other signatories including major European allies to follow suit.
European powers have reaffirmed their commitment to the accord and say they will do more to encourage their businesses to stay engaged with Iran, though a number of firms have already said they plan to pull out to avoid US penalties.


Turkey suspends over 250 local officials for ‘terror links’

Updated 15 October 2018
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Turkey suspends over 250 local officials for ‘terror links’

  • Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu removed 259 local neighborhood heads
  • Turkey has suspended or sacked over 140,000 public sector employees because of alleged links to the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen blamed for the July 2016 failed coup

ANKARA: Turkey has suspended more than 250 senior local officials over alleged terror links and activities unrelated to their posts, the interior ministry said on Monday, in the latest purge of the country’s bureaucracy.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu removed 259 local neighborhood heads — known as “muhtar” in Turkish — from their posts, his office said in a statement.
It did not provide further detail on what terror organizations the officials were allegedly linked to.
The muhtar is the elected chief of a village or a city neighborhood, and responsible for day-to-day services for residents such as registration.
Turkey has suspended or sacked over 140,000 public sector employees because of alleged links to the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen blamed for the July 2016 failed coup and Kurdish militants.
Turkey claims Gulen ordered the coup but he denies the accusations.
Last week, the ministry suspended 559 village guards — locals employed to combat Kurdish militants — accused of links to terror organizations while 76 were accused of people trafficking and drug crimes.
Turkey has been fighting an insurgency against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) since 1984.
The group is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
Turkish authorities detained 137 people in country-wide operations earlier this month over alleged links to the PKK.