UN urges Lebanon’s parties not to back foreign conflicts

The UN Security Council called on all Lebanese parties on Friday for disarmament of all non-state armed forces and to implement the policy as an important priority. (AP)
Updated 09 February 2019
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UN urges Lebanon’s parties not to back foreign conflicts

  • Security Council welcomes Jan. 31 announcement of a national unity government

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council called on all Lebanese parties on Friday to implement a policy disassociating themselves from any external conflicts “as an important priority,” a statement that appears clearly aimed at Hezbollah which has sent fighters to Syria.

The council also reiterated its call for implementation of its resolutions which “require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon so that there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon” except those of the state. This is also aimed at Hezbollah militants.

The council statement issued on Friday night welcomed the Jan. 31 announcement of a national unity government in Lebanon, which broke a nine-month deadlock.

Council members encouraged all political leaders to build on the momentum of the new government’s formation “to address the pressing security, economic, social and humanitarian challenges facing the country” and called on the new government to urgently implement reforms, fight corruption and strengthen accountability.

Rival political groups had been locked in disagreement over the makeup of a new government since May, after the country’s first parliamentary elections in nine years. A breakthrough became possible after weeks of backroom deals as Lebanon’s economic woes mounted.

The new government is headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the Western-backed politician who has held the job since 2016. But Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite group, made significant gains at the expense of the largest Sunni party and controls three ministries including the Health Ministry.

The US administration expressed concerns about Hezbollah holding three Cabinet posts and called on the new government to ensure that group is not supported by the ministries’ resources.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Wednesday the group would defend Iran in the event of war with the US. 

He said the so-called axis of resistance, led by Iran, is the strongest it has ever been. 

The axis groups the Syrian government of Bashar Assad with Shiite militias in Iraq and Hezbollah.


US to leave 200 troops in Syria for a period of time - White House

A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria. (US Army photo)
Updated 22 February 2019
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US to leave 200 troops in Syria for a period of time - White House

  • The decision was announced after Trump spoke by phone to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan

WASHINGTON: The United States will leave “a small peacekeeping group” of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a US pullout, the White House said on Thursday.
President Donald Trump in December ordered a withdrawal of the 2,000 American troops in Syria on the defeat of the last remnants of the Islamic State militancy there.
But he has been under pressure from some advisers to adjust his policy to ensure the protection of Kurdish forces who supported the fight against Islamic State and who might now be threatened by Turkey.
“A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a brief statement.
The decision was announced after Trump spoke by phone to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
A White House statement said that the two leaders agreed, regarding Syria, to “continue coordinating on the creation of a potential safe zone.”
They noted that acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford would be hosting their Turkish counterparts in Washington this week for further talks, the White House said.