Macron ‘awaiting explanation’ from Iran on who ordered France bomb plot

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the audience as he visits the Station F startup campus in Paris, France, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018. (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Updated 13 October 2018

Macron ‘awaiting explanation’ from Iran on who ordered France bomb plot

  • France’s foreign ministry said on Oct. 2 there was no doubt the Iranian intelligence ministry was behind the June plot
  • The plot targeted a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) outside Paris

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday it was not clear whether a foiled attack on a Paris-based Iranian opposition group was ordered by the higher echelons of authorities in Tehran.
“As you know Iran is sometimes divided into different factions and tensions, and so I can’t say today whether the order came from the top or from this (security) service or that division,” he told France 24 television in an interview.
France’s foreign ministry said on Oct. 2 there was no doubt the Iranian intelligence ministry was behind the June plot and froze assets belonging to Tehran’s intelligence services and two Iranian nationals.
The plot targeted a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) outside Paris. US President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and several former European and Arab ministers attended the rally.
Belgium charged an Iranian diplomat and three other individuals on Oct. 10 with planning to bomb the meeting. Two of the suspects were intercepted by Belgian police.
One senior French official told Reuters the plot is likely to have been hatched by hard-liners looking to undermine President Hassan Rouhani, who has tried to improve Iran’s relations with the outside world.
Macron said he was still awaiting explanations, but that Rouhani had not given him any during two exchanges he had with the Iranian president.
The hardening of relations between Paris and Tehran could have far-reaching consequences for Rouhani’s government, which is looking to European capitals to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal after the United States pulled out and reimposed tough sanctions.
Macron repeated that there should be a more demanding policy toward Iran which needed to include keeping the existing deal, discussing its nuclear work after 2025 when parts of the agreement expire, its ballistic missile program and curtailing its regional influence.
“I’ve never been naive with Iran or thought it would be easy,” Macron said.


Lebanese patriarch warns of crisis without a government after Adib steps down

Updated 19 min 19 sec ago

Lebanese patriarch warns of crisis without a government after Adib steps down

  • Al-Rai said Adib’s resignation had ‘disappointed citizens, especially the youth’
  • Frustration at Adib’s failure to form government was voiced by Lebanon’s religious communities

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top Christian cleric said on Sunday the nation faced “multiple dangers” that would be hard to weather without a government, speaking a day after the prime minister-designate quit following his failed bid to form a cabinet.
Mustapha Adib stepped down on Saturday after hitting a roadblock over how to make appointments in the sectarian system, striking a blow to a French initiative that aimed to haul the nation out of its deepest crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who had pressed Lebanon’s fractious politicians to reach a consensus so that Adib was named on Aug. 31, is to due to speak about the crisis in a news conference in Paris later on Sunday.
Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, leader of the Maronite church, Lebanon’s biggest Christian community, said Adib’s resignation had “disappointed citizens, especially the youth, who were betting on the start of change in the political class.”
Many top politicians, both Christian and Muslim, have held sway for years or even decades. Some are former warlords.
Rai said Lebanon now had to navigate “multiple dangers” without a government at the helm.
Rai’s comments were echoed on the streets of Beirut, where mass protests erupted in 2019 as years of mismanagement, corruption and mounting debts finally led to economic collapse, paralysing banks and sending the currency into freefall.
“There needs to be fundamental change. We need new people. We need new blood,” said 24-year-old Hassan Amer, serving coffee from a roadside cafe in the capital, which was hammered by a huge port blast on Aug. 4 that killed almost 200 people.
In nearby streets, walls were still plastered with graffiti from the protests, including the popular call for sweeping out the old guard: “All of them means all of them.”
Frustration at the failure of Adib, a Sunni Muslim, to form a government was voiced by many across Lebanon’s religious communities. Prime ministers under Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system must be Sunnis.
A senior Shiite Muslim cleric, Sheikh Ahmed Qabalan, said on Saturday Adib’s resignation as the economy collapsed could “be described as a disaster,” calling for national unity to deliver reforms, the state news agency reported.
The cabinet formation effort stumbled after Lebanon’s two main Shiite groups, Amal and the heavily armed Iran-backed Hezbollah, demanded they name several ministers, including finance, a key role as the nation draws up a rescue plan.
Saad Al-Hariri, a former prime minister and leading Sunni politician, said in a statement he would not be involved in naming any new premier and said the French plan was “the last and only opportunity to halt Lebanon’s collapse.”
A French roadmap laid out a reform program for a new government to help trigger billions of dollars of international aid.