Pompeo warns of Hezbollah's 'destabilizing activities' during Lebanon visit

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Mike Pompeo meets with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, in Beirut. (Reuters)
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Mike Pompeo meets with Lebanon's President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon. (Reuters)
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Mike Pompeo meets with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri at the governmental palace in Beirut. (Reuters)
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Lebanon's Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan at the Interior Ministry in Beirut, Lebanon March 22, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 22 March 2019

Pompeo warns of Hezbollah's 'destabilizing activities' during Lebanon visit

  • US secretary of state flew in from Israel for two days of meetings in Lebanon
  • Holds meeting with parliament speaker Nabih Berri

BEIRUT: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned on Friday of Hezbollah's "destabilising activities" as he visited Lebanon on the latest leg of a regional tour to build a united front against Iran.
He flew in from Israel a day after he became the first high-ranking American official to visit the Western Wall in annexed east Jerusalem with an Israeli prime minister.
His visit also comes just hours after US President Donald Trump said Washington should recognise Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights, breaking with the policy of successive administrations as well as UN Security Council resolutions.
In a meeting with parliament speaker Nabih Berri Pompeo warned of the "destabilising activities" of Hezbollah, the Iran-backed group that is targeted by US sanctions but holds cabinet posts in Lebanon.
"He highlighted US concerns about Hezbollah's destabilising activities in Lebanon and the region and the risks posed to Lebanon's security, stability and prosperity," US deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said.
Hezbollah has backed government forces in neighbouring Syria in the civil war that broke out in 2011

But Berri, a political ally of Hezbollah, also told Pompeo sanctions on Hezbollah were having a "negative impact on Lebanon and the Lebanese". He said Hezbollah's "resistance" against Israel was a result of continuing Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory, his office said in a statement.
Pompeo and Berri also discussed "the need to maintain calm along the boundary between Lebanon and Israel", Palladino said.
Lebanon and its southern neighbour are still technically at war, even after Israeli troops withdrew from the south of the country in 2000.
Israel and Hezbollah fought a devastating month-long war in 2006, and skirmishes still erupt along a UN-patrolled demarcation line.
The secretary of state then met Prime Minister Saad Hariri to discuss "the latest developments in Lebanon and the region", according to the premier's office.
Earlier, he met the country's first female interior minister.
"Pompeo met in Beirut today with Lebanese Minister of the Interior Raya Al-Hassan," Palladino said.
They "discussed the regional and internal security challenges facing Lebanon and how the United States can help support the interior ministry's efforts to maintain safety and stability inside Lebanon."
Hassan became the first woman interior minister in Lebanon and the Middle East in a cabinet line-up unveiled in late January following an eight-month delay.
The United States considers Hezbollah a "terrorist" organisation, and has targeted it with tough sanctions.
Lebanon's new cabinet includes three posts for Hezbollah, including at the helm of the health ministry.
The Shiite movement is the only group that did not disarm after Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.
Earlier this week, Lebanese intelligence said a Lebanese-Canadian dual national had been arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel.
Pompeo is expected to leave Lebanon on Saturday.

Russian ‘calligrafitti’ artist seeks to merge the world’s languages

Pokras Lampas is a ‘calligraffiti’ artist. Supplied
Updated 14 min 2 sec ago

Russian ‘calligrafitti’ artist seeks to merge the world’s languages

DUBAI: Dubai’s Opera Gallery just unveiled its latest exhibition — a rare look at the work of up-and-coming Russian artist Pokras Lampas, who creates calligraphy with non-Arabic scripts.

Set to run until May 4 in the gallery’s Dubai International Financial Center location, the exhibit showcases the artist’s unique canvas work.

The artist, who marries calligraphy with street art techniques, spoke to Arab News about the moment he discovered the art of calligraphy, after working as a graffiti artist in Moscow.

(Image supplied)

“I used to do a lot of work on the street with graffiti artists and one day I found that there was a new (style) of art called ‘calligrafitti.’ I was like ‘wow,’ I had never seen it before,” he said.

Lampas started researching the art form and visited museums around the world in a bid to understand more. He was particularly inspired by the likes of Niels “Shoe” Meulman, an Amsterdam-based artist whose style draws on Japanese, European and Arabic calligraphy, and Tunisia’s El Seed.

He told Arab News that the artists furthered his interest in the art form — “how it can be created… and how, at the same time, to respect the history of calligraphy.”

The artist started out as a street artist and gained fame by winning local graffiti competitions, as well as “tagging” his name on walls around Moscow.

(Image supplied) 

“I used to be a graffiti artist and work for 5-6 hours, or a few days in a row,” he said, adding that he now typically takes 30-40 hours to complete one piece of art.

“The base of my work is to research how I can deconstruct the shape of the existing language and recreate it with influence from other countries and other cultural backgrounds,” he added, explaining how his use of the Latin alphabet separates his work from traditional Arabic calligraphy.

The 27-year-old artist expanded on his use of international scripts, saying he sees a future in which international alphabets can “be merged by different countries to be more multi-cultural, different and unique.”

(Image supplied) 

His travels have taken him across the world in a bid to learn more about his chosen art form — and he is keen to make is mark by molding the future of calligraphy.

“I’m not going to travel (just) to get inspiration. I’m trying to explore the world of calligraphy and communication of different cultures and merge it together to see how calligraphy can be changed in the future.”