Trump, Macron agree on need to work with allies to counter destabilization attempts of Iran and Hezbollah

French President Emmanuel Macron, center right, and his wife Brigitte, right, meet Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, second left, his wife Lara, center left, and their son Hussam upon their arrival at the Elysee Palace in Paris on November 18, 2017. (AP)
Updated 19 November 2017

Trump, Macron agree on need to work with allies to counter destabilization attempts of Iran and Hezbollah

JEDDAH: US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday agreed on the need to partner with allies to respond to the destabilization activities of Hezbollah and Iran in the region.
The two leaders’ telephone conversation came in the aftermath of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation, which he announced during a recent trip to Saudi Arabia.
“Both presidents agreed on the need to work with allies to counter Hizballah’s and Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region,” a statement from the White House said.
Hariri has accused Iran and Hezbollah of dominating Lebanon and attempt to covertly target his life, which prompted his resignation, and drew comparisons to the similar “atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of martyr Rafik Al-Hariri.”
“I refer explicitly and unequivocally to Iran, which sows sedition, devastation and destruction in any place it settles in, as proven by its interferences in the internal affairs of the Arab countries, in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen, driven by a deep hatred of the Arab nation and an overwhelming desire to destroy and control it,” Hariri said, when he announced his resignation on November 4.
Hariri traveled to Paris for a meeting with Macron over the weekend upon the French president’s invitation, and also to dispel allegations he was being held against his will in Saudi Arabia, and was expected to return to Lebanon for the Independence Day celebrations on Wednesday.
Saudi Foreign Ministry Adel Al-Jubeir had earlier belied accusations that Saudi Arabia was keeping the Lebanese Prime Minister against his will.
“It doesn’t hold merit as Hariri is free to go anywhere he wants,” Al-Jubeir said in a joint press conference with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian in Riyadh.
The Saudi foreign minister also accused Hezbollah of disturbing regional peace and stability by supporting Houthi militias in Yemen, suppressing the will of the Syrian people and violating Lebanese law.
Hezbollah must learn to “respect Lebanon’s sovereignty,” he added.


Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

Updated 16 September 2019

Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

  • Joint operations planned to prevent attacks ahead of polls

KABUL: Afghan forces backed by US forces killed two senior Taliban leaders and at least 38 fighters of the hard-line insurgent group in joint airstrikes conducted in northern and western regions of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in capital Kabul, adding that clashes have escalated following the collapse of diplomatic talks between the US and the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry in a statement said that the Taliban’s designate governor for northern Samangan province, Mawlavi Nooruddin, was killed along with four fighters in an airstrike in Dara-e-Soof Payeen district.

But the Taliban denied the governor had been killed.

“He (Nooruddin) is alive,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.

HIGHLIGHT

Taliban deny the governor of Samangan province had been killed.

Last week, insurgents killed four Afghan special force members in a car bomb blast.

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day.

In a separate incident, Mullah Sayed Azim, a Taliban designate governor for Anar Dara district in western Farah was killed in a joint Afghan and foreign force raid.

“Sayed Azim was killed along with 34 other insurgents in Anar Dara,” said Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for Farah provincial police.

Senior security officials in Kabul said several joint operations will be launched against Taliban and Daesh fighters to prevent attacks on Afghan forces and civilians ahead of the presidential polls on Sept. 28.

Fighting picked up in several parts of Afghanistan last week after US President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancelation of talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing US troops and opening the way to end to 18 year-long war in Afghanistan. 

 

Troops for polling day

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 72,000 security personnel will be on duty around the 4,942 polling centers across Afghanistan while nearly 30,000 additional troops will serve as reserve units.

Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said security forces have recently taken back eight districts from the Taliban and that operations are underway to secure around 20 others.