Lebanon rejects Syrian conditions on its trucks' transit through Nassib border crossing

The main border crossing between Jordan and war-torn Syria reopened on October 15. (AFP)
Updated 16 October 2018

Lebanon rejects Syrian conditions on its trucks' transit through Nassib border crossing

  • The only contact existing with the Syrian side is on the return of displaced persons and is taking place with the Russian side: source
  • The Lebanese leader Michel Aoun had praised the agreement reached between the Jordanian and Syrian authorities to open the Nassib border crossing

BEIRUT: Lebanese government sources confirmed to Arab News that it "will not coordinate with the Syrian government in any way regarding the transit of Lebanese trucks through this (Nassib) border toward the Gulf States.”

The sources stressed that “the only contact existing with the Syrian side is on the return of displaced persons and is taking place with the Russian side. Otherwise the contacts between the Lebanese and Syrian sides are conducted on an individual level.”

“How could any conditions be imposed on the Lebanese side for the crossing of Lebanese trucks at a time when crossings at the Syrian-Lebanese borders take place normally without any preconditions?” the sources said.

Elnashra Lebanese news website had quoted a Syrian source as saying that “No agreement has been reached with the Lebanese side on all details related to the transit of trucks from Lebanon to Jordan through the Nassib border crossing.” The source added that “In the last meeting with the Lebanese ministers, the Syrian side emphasized the necessity of communication between the governments of the two countries, whether on transit trucks or other economic files.”

According to Elnashra, the Syrian source described the meetings with Lebanese officials as “always positive and fruitful, but also in need of greater and wider contact with the other officials.” And whether the Lebanese trucks will begin to cross, the Syrian source reiterated that it “needs some time and arrangements with the Lebanese side.”

The Lebanese leader Michel Aoun had praised the “agreement reached between the Jordanian and Syrian authorities to open the Nassib border crossing. This will be beneficial also to Lebanon and allows the movement of people and goods from Lebanon to the Arab countries and vice versa.”

Aoun stressed that “the opening of this vital crossing after three years of closure will revive the various productive sectors, and reduce the cost of exporting goods from Lebanon to the Arab countries.”

The Lebanese Minister of Agriculture in the caretaker government, Ghazi Zu’aitir, said that “opening the Nassib crossing serves the interest of Lebanese exporters and that communication with the Syrian side is continuing at the level of ministers concerned on this issue.”

Zu’aitir spoke about “agreements signed between the Lebanese and Syrian parties: The Treaty of Brotherhood, Cooperation and Coordination, the presence of the Lebanese-Syrian Higher Council, and the exchange of embassies between the two countries, which allows us to move based on constitutional and legal provisions."

The Minister of Economy in the caretaker government, Raed Khoury, revealed that “we communicated with the Syrian side today, and the logistical details on the transit of trucks and Lebanese exports and other issues will be discussed in the coming days.”

The head of the Farmers and Peasants Association in the Bekaa Valley, Ibrahim Tarshishi, told Arab News: “The agricultural sector was exporting through the Nassib border crossing goods in reaching up to 500,000 tons annually to the Arab countries, and 50,000 by sea. With the closure of the crossing over the past three years, the sector was exporting only 350,000 tons by sea, causing losses to farmers because they had to sell the remaining production at prices below 50 percent of the cost of production.”

“The trucks will start operating starting Tuesday, and we have not been informed of any different procedures related to the transport and transit process,” said Shafiq Al-Qassis, head of Truck Owners' Association in Lebanon.

Sudan protesters plan march on parliament, more demos

Updated 19 January 2019

Sudan protesters plan march on parliament, more demos

KHARTOUM: A group that is spearheading anti-government protests across Sudan on Saturday said it plans to launch more nationwide rallies over the next few days, including a march on parliament.
Protests have rocked Sudan since December 19, when the government raised the price of bread, and since then have escalated into rallies against President Omar Al-Bashir’s three-decade rule.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of trade unions, in a statement called for a march on parliament Sunday to submit to lawmakers a memorandum calling for Bashir to step aside.
“We are calling for a march to parliament in Omdurman on Sunday,” it said referring to Khartoum’s twin city where parliament is located.
“The protesters will submit to parliament a memorandum calling on President Bashir to step down,” added the association, which represents the unions of doctors, teachers and engineers.
Over the past month, protesters have staged several demonstrations in Omdurman, on the west bank of the Nile.
Officials say at least 26 people, including two security personnel, have died during a month of protests, while rights group Amnesty International last week put the death toll at more than 40.
The group spearheading the protests said there will also be rallies in Khartoum on Sunday, to be followed by night-time demonstrations on Tuesday in the capital and in Omdurman.
“And on Thursday there will be rallies across all towns and cities of Sudan,” the statement added.
On Friday, hundreds of mourners leaving the funeral of a protester had staged a spontaneous demonstration in the capital’s Burri district, while crowds of Muslim worshippers had launched another rally in a mosque in Omdurman, witnesses said.
Protesters chanting “freedom, peace, justice” have been confronted by riot police with tear gas at several rallies since the first protest erupted in the eastern town of Atbara on December 19 after the rise of bread price.
The government’s tough response has sparked international criticism, while Bashir has blamed the violence on unidentified “conspirators.”
Analysts say the protests have emerged as the biggest challenge to the veteran leader’s rule who swept to power in 1989 in an Islamist-backed coup.
The protests come as Sudan suffers from an economic crisis driven by an acute shortage of foreign currency and soaring inflation that has more than doubled the price of food and medicines.