UN chief urges Syria to resolve gaps on chemical weapons

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during the opening of the COP24 summit on climate change in Katowice. (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2018

UN chief urges Syria to resolve gaps on chemical weapons

  • “The secretary-general has been a believer in the United Nations and a believer in the multinational system for a long time now,” said Dujarric

UNITED NATIONS: Secretary-General Antonio Guterres again urged Syria to resolve “gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies” in its declaration of chemical weapons after the global watchdog reported no progress on these outstanding issues.
The UN chief said in letter to the Security Council circulated Wednesday with the report from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that he is “deeply concerned about the continued alleged use of toxic chemicals as weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic.”
OPCW chief Fernando Arias said in the report that Syria’s report still cannot be considered “accurate and complete” because of its failure to clear up “all of the identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies.”
He said OPCW investigators went to Syria in late September to investigate five alleged uses of chemical weapons in 2017.
Also on Wednesday, the UN spokesman said Guterres remains a “believer” in the UN despite US criticism that the world body had lost sight of its founding mission to advance peace.
In a major foreign policy address in Brussels, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a swipe at the UN and other multilateral organizations, suggesting they were outdated and catered to elites.
“The UN was founded as an organization that welcomed peace-loving nations. I ask: Today, does it continue to serve its mission faithfully?” Pompeo said in the address on Tuesday.
Asked about Pompeo’s remarks, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric acknowledged that there was a “lack of trust” in international organizations but that Guterres strongly defended multilateralism.
“The secretary-general has been a believer in the United Nations and a believer in the multinational system for a long time now,” said Dujarric.
He has been “very clear in addressing the lack of trust... that there exists in many international organizations,” he said.
In his remarks, Pompeo took aim at UN peacekeeping missions that “drag on for decades, no closer to peace,” and said UN climate deals were “viewed by some nations as simply a vehicle to redistribute wealth.”
“Anti-Israel has been institutionalized. Regional powers collude to vote the likes of Cuba and Venezuela onto the Human Rights Council.”
The renewed criticism followed the US administration’s decisions to quit the Geneva-based Human Rights Council and cut funding to UN agencies and UN peacekeeping missions.
On Thursday, the UN embarked on two major peace efforts, bringing warring parties in Yemen to the negotiating table in Sweden while talks on the decades-old conflict in Western Sahara opened in Geneva.
Guterres, the former prime minister of Portugal, who took the UN helm in January 2017, has pushed for reforms to make the global body more responsive to world crises.
The Socialist politician has had a surprisingly smooth relationship with the administration of President Donald Trump, despite its criticism of the UN.
By far the UN’s largest financial backer, the US provides for 20 percent of the operating budget and 28 percent of the separate peacekeeping budget.


Lebanese lawmakers to defy naming of new PM

Updated 07 December 2019

Lebanese lawmakers to defy naming of new PM

  • Saad Hariri submitted the resignation of his government on Oct. 29 as a result of ongoing mass protests against corruption

BEIRUT: Three lawmakers and members of Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s parliamentary bloc will not abide by its decision to name a new prime minister on Monday. 

Meanwhile, activists in the civil movement are holding meetings to announce a general strike and the blocking of roads on Monday in protest over reports that the new government will not include technocrats.

Samir Al-Khatib is considered the most favored candidate after preliminary consultations conducted by Aoun with his allies prior to setting the date for binding parliamentary consultations to nominate a Sunni prime minister, as required by the Lebanese constitution.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri submitted the resignation of his government on Oct. 29 as a result of ongoing mass protests against corruption. He later said he would not agree to head a new government unless it consisted of technocrats.

Lawmaker Neemat Frem urged citizens to provide him with the name of their favorite candidate to head the new government, “for you are the primary source of authority, and it is my duty to convey your voice in the binding parliamentary consultations.”

Lawmaker Chamel Roukoz said he will not nominate anyone for the position of prime minister.

Lawmaker Michel Daher declared his intention to boycott the parliamentary consultations if Al-Khatib is the only candidate.

Aoun assured a delegation of British financial and investment institutions, and US bank Morgan Stanley, that binding parliamentary consultations will take place on Monday to form a new government, which will help Lebanon’s friends launch agreed-to development projects.

“The new government’s priority will be to address the economic and financial conditions as soon as it is formed,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Samir Al-Khatib is considered the most favored candidate after preliminary consultations conducted by Aoun with his allies prior to setting the date for binding parliamentary consultations to nominate a Sunni prime minister, as required by the Lebanese constitution.

On Friday, Hariri sent letters to the leaders of a number of countries with good relations with Lebanon. 

He asked them to help Lebanon secure credit to import goods from these countries, in order to ensure food security and availability of raw materials for production in various sectors.

His media office said the move “is part of his efforts to address the shortage of financial liquidity, and to secure procuring the basic import requirements for citizens.”

Among the leaders Hariri wrote to are Saudi Arabia’s King Salman; the presidents of France, Russia, Egypt and Turkey; the prime ministers of China and Italy; and the US secretary of state.

On Dec. 11, Paris is due to host a meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon. Reuters quoted a European source as saying: “France has already sent invitations to attend the group meeting.”

Protesters continued their sit-ins in front of government institutions in Nabatieh, Zahle and Saida.

In Tripoli, protesters blocked the city’s main roads, which were eventually reopened by the army.

In Akkar, protesters raided public institutions and called for an “independent government that fights corruption, restores looted funds, and rescues the economic situation and living conditions from total collapse.”

Lebanese designer Robert Abi Nader canceled a fashion show that was due to be organized in Downtown Beirut, where protesters are gathering. 

Abi Nader said he intended through his show to express support for the protests by designing a special outfit called “the bride of the revolution,” and revenues were to be dedicated to families in need.