Iran promises Iraq full support against ‘terror’

Updated 14 June 2014

Iran promises Iraq full support against ‘terror’

TEHRAN: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani promised Iraq’s beleaguered Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki his government’s full support against “terrorism” on Friday as militants advanced toward Baghdad.
Iran is a key ally of Maliki, whose government has been left in disarray by the collapse of its security forces since Monday across a swathe of northern and north-central Iraq, including second city Mosul.
Rouhani told Maliki in a telephone call that Tehran would do its utmost to “combat the massacre and crimes of the terrorists,” his office said.
Iran “will not allow the supporters of terrorists to destabilize Iraq,” he said.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif telephoned UN chief Ban Ki-moon to express Iran’s deep concern over the offensive, spearheaded by extremists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, Iranian media reported.
ISIL’s offensive was a “danger that goes beyond borders,” Zarif said.
Neither Rouhani nor his foreign minister gave any details of the support that Iran was offering.
But a former army intelligence officer said Tehran could offer military advice similar to that it has given Syrian President Bashar Assad in his own battle against rebels.
“We already defeated them and their tactics. It can be done once again,” the retired officer said.
Iran has had military advisers in Syria since 1980 when Damascus took Tehran’s side when now executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein sent in his troops, sparking a devastating eight-year war.
Iraq’s communications ministry has ordered Internet and mobile companies to block social media websites and applications as militants drive toward Baghdad, technicians from two major service providers said Friday.
The technicians said video-sharing site YouTube, social network site Facebook, micro-blogging site Twitter and communications applications WhatsApp and Viber were all affected.
Militants and their supporters have been active on sites including Twitter during the offensive.
Meanshile,German foreign minister warned Friday that the swift advance of militants demonstrates they have become a powerful force that will make it hard to prevent a division of the country.
The broad offensive shows the group “has reached a potential that goes far beyond terrorist attacks,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters in Berlin.
“That’s a power factor we will have to deal with, not just in Iraq but in the entire region in future,” he added. “And this won’t make it any easier to find a solution to the political problem and avoiding a splitting up of Iraq.”
Steinmeier spoke after meeting with his Moroccan counterpart, Salaheddine Mezouar, who said there is a real danger the conflict in Iraq might spread beyond its borders. “We need to support neighboring countries, Jordan and Lebanon” Mezouar said. “We need to do everything to prevent this process from spreading.”


Lebanese celebrities join Beirut protests as anger rises over tax reforms

Updated 12 min 24 sec ago

Lebanese celebrities join Beirut protests as anger rises over tax reforms

  • A video emerged on social media showing actress Nadine Al-Rassi preparing to set fire to a car tire in downtown Beirut
  • In a series of tweets, Lebanese recording artist Elissa, who is abroad, supported the protesters’ demands

BEIRUT: Lebanese celebrities joined thousands of protesters on the streets of Beirut on Saturday to voice their anger at the country’s ruling elite.
Singers, actors and playwrights were among a host of high-profile artists who backed demands for action over government corruption and to counter Lebanon’s spiralling economic crisis.
Beirut has been shrouded in smoke for three days following widespread protests and rioting over government tax plans.
A video emerged on social media showing actress Nadine Al-Rassi preparing to set fire to a car tire in downtown Beirut and crying inconsolably about her financial state.
The actress, wearing jeans and her face blackened, told protesters: “I am Nadine Al-Rassi. I was hungry for seven days. I have debts. Banque du Liban (Lebanon’s central bank) seized my house and I am unable to rent a home. Corrupt people should be held responsible.”


In a series of tweets, Lebanese recording artist Elissa, who is abroad, supported the protesters’ demands, saying: “This is the first time I wish I were in Lebanon. My heart is with you.”
In another tweet, the high-profile singer, one of the Middle East’s best-selling performers, said: “I proudly follow the news of Beirut and its citizens ... who are demanding a decent life. It is time for people to get back their dignity.”
Meanwhile, singer and composer Ragheb Alama expressed his dismay at a Council of Ministers plan to impose a daily fee on WhatsApp calls.
“The people’s misfortunes are not funny. Why don’t you tax the polluted air people breathe? It is a great idea that brings money to your fathers’ treasury, too,” he wrote.
Alama accused the Parliament of responsibility for the country’s dire economy: “Why do deputies receive money, privileges and overheads, and what have they done? They covered up for looting and stealing for decades. They are responsible for destroying the economy and the country.”
Nancy Ajram, one of the Arab world’s most popular singers, wrote on Twitter: “My heart goes out to my country every moment and with every heartbeat. We are a people who deserves to live and it is our right to live with dignity. May God protect Lebanon.”
Singer and actress Haifa Wehbe tweeted: “There is nothing better than the Lebanese people when they stand in unity and under one slogan, without any political affiliation. We are all for our country.”
Comedian and prime-time TV host Hisham Haddad was among celebrities who joined protesters at Riad El-Solh Square, near the Prime Minister’s office, site of the biggest centralized demonstrations.
Actress Maguy Bou Ghosn, singer Moeen Shreif, actors Abdo Chahine, Badih Abou Chakra and Junaid Zeineldine, playwright Ziad Itani and musician Ziyad Sahhab also joined the protests.
Actor Wissam Hanna called on Twitter for protesters to close the Beirut Airport road to stop corrupt officials fleeing the country.
“I am all for closing down the airport road to stop thieves from fleeing. I am all for recovering stolen funds. Lebanon rises, revolts and it is time to hold them accountable,” he wrote.
Actress Gretta Aoun said: “We have to take to the streets. They must know the extent of our pain.”