Lebanese to contest by-poll from Iran jail

Zakka wrote of Lebanese politician Mohamad Chatah who was assassinated in Beirut.. (Shutterstock)
Updated 14 March 2019
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Lebanese to contest by-poll from Iran jail

  • Nizar Zakka announced he will run for the by-election to fill the vacant Sunni seat in the district of Tripoli

BEIRUT: A Lebanese citizen imprisoned in Iran, Nizar Zakka, announced in a message he sent from Tehran’s Evin prison that he will run for the by-election to fill the vacant Sunni seat in the district of Tripoli in northern Lebanon. 

Zakka, an information technology expert, was kidnapped in September 2015 on his way to Tehran airport after having accepted an invitation from Iran to attend a scientific conference. 

He was a permanent resident of the US, where he served as secretary-general of the Arab ICT Organization in Washington. Iranian authorities have accused him of “spying for the US.” 

Zakka pledged in a message distributed by his family and lawyer to be Lebanese voters’ “loud voice in Parliament, and the voice of every ordinary citizen who has lost his right in a state that knows no justice.” 

He wrote that the Lebanese state had conspired against him when he was kidnapped and “detained in one of the most appalling prisons in the world.” 

He added: “For four years, I have been living in an underground grave between sewers and rats.”

Zakka saluted Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the parties, civil society organizations and personalities that have supported him and his cause. 

“Not a day goes by while I am in prison that I do not remember Mohamad Chatah, and I am sure that had he gotten invited to Iran and responded to the invitation, he would have met the same fate,” Zakka wrote. 

Chatah, a Lebanese politician and economist, was assassinated in 2013 by a car bomb in Beirut. 

He was born in Tripoli, served as finance minister in 2008, and was among the most prominent advisers to Hariri’s Future Movement.


Security tops agenda as Iraqi PM visits Egypt in first foreign trip

Updated 23 March 2019
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Security tops agenda as Iraqi PM visits Egypt in first foreign trip

  • After meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Abdul Mahdi highlighted “the importance of drying up the sources of terrorism”
  • The visit to Egypt is Abdul Mahdi’s first trip abroad since taking office in October

CAIRO: Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi sought Egypt’s support for efforts to tackle extremist militants in the region during a visit to Cairo on Saturday, his first trip abroad since taking office in October.
After meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Abdul Mahdi highlighted “the importance of drying up the sources of terrorism” and said “cooperation between Egypt and Iraq will be essential for this matter,” according to an official statement.
His comments came as US-backed forces said they had captured Daesh’s last shred of territory in eastern Syria at Baghouz, ending its territorial rule over a self-proclaimed caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq after years of fighting.
Though the defeat ends the group’s grip over the extremist quasi-state that it declared in 2014, it remains a threat.
Some Daesh fighters still hold out in Syria’s remote central desert and in Iraqi cities they have slipped into the shadows, staging sudden shootings or kidnappings and awaiting a chance to rise again.
The United States thinks the group’s leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, is in Iraq.
Defeating militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and restoring security after years of unrest has been a key promise of El-Sisi, the general-turned-president who came to power a year after the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Mursi in 2013.
Egypt has fought an insurgency waged by a Daesh affiliate in North Sinai since 2013. Hundreds of members of the security forces have been killed.