Syria slams ‘hypocrisy’ of donors

Damascus says the sanctions have contributed to a fuel crisis in the country, which on Friday marked the eighth anniversary of its civil war. (AP)
Updated 15 March 2019
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Syria slams ‘hypocrisy’ of donors

  • International donors pledged nearly $7 billion in aid for 2019 for civilians caught up in the conflict
  • European powers stressed progress on a UN-led peace process must come before they release funds to rebuild Syria

DAMASCUS: Syria on Friday accused donors who pledged aid to help its citizens displaced by the country’s eight-year war of “hypocrisy” as they continue to impose sanctions on the regime.
International donors — led by the European Union — meeting on Thursday in Brussels pledged nearly $7 billion in aid for 2019 for civilians caught up in the conflict.
But European powers stressed progress on a UN-led peace process must come before they release funds to rebuild Syria — though they no longer insist President Bashar Assad must go.
“The hypocrisy of the discourse of the officials of some countries taking part in the Brussels conference is both laughable and angering,” a source at the foreign ministry said.
EU sanctions have deprived “the European Union of any credibility when it speaks about helping Syrians and alleviating their suffering,” state news agency SANA quoted the source as saying.
The source criticized what it called the “deliberate and systematic politicization of the humanitarian issue and attempts to use it through conferences like these to continue to exert pressure on Syria and compound the crisis.”
It slammed the conference for not inviting the Damascus government, calling it the “main concerned party” in the matter.
Since late 2011, the 28-member bloc has imposed sanctions on 277 Syrian officials including Damascus ministers over their role in the “violent repression” of civilians.
It has frozen the assets of some 72 entities and introduced an embargo on Syrian oil, investment restrictions and a freeze on Syrian central bank assets within the European Union.
The United States has also imposed a flurry of sanctions against Syrian officials, and had worked to hamper oil shipping to Syria.
Damascus says the sanctions have contributed to a fuel crisis in the country, which on Friday marked the eighth anniversary of its civil war.
Numerous rounds of US-backed peace talks have failed to stem the bloodshed, which has killed more than 370,000 people and pushed millions more from their homes.


Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

Updated 20 May 2019
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Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

  • Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut
  • Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt

BEIRUT: Security forces opened water cannons on Lebanese anti-austerity protesters in the country’s capital on Monday, as the government continued to hold marathon meetings to discuss severe budget cuts.
Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt, rising unemployment and slow growth. The government’s tightened budget and key reforms aim to unlock billions of dollars in pledged foreign assistance. But planned cuts have unleashed a wave of public discontent, amid leaks that austerity could target public wages, services and social benefits.

A retired Lebanese soldier chants slogans while holding an army flag, during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday. (AP)

Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut shouting “Thieves, thieves!” as the Cabinet met for its 16th session and struggles to reach agreement.
Protesters pushed back against police lines and set fire to tires outside the building. At least two policemen and one civilian were wounded in the scuffles.
Among those demonstrating Monday were public and private school teachers and retired officers.
The government, headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, has sought to calm nerves while also describing the upcoming budget as the most austere in Lebanon’s history.
Hariri said he hopes the government will be able to send the budget to parliament later this week.
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said the cabinet made “important progress” in discussions Sunday.