Turkey’s Erdogan meets Iran minister over Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on April 17. (AFP)
Updated 17 April 2019

Turkey’s Erdogan meets Iran minister over Syria

  • Turkey supports Syrian opposition rebels and Iran backs Assad in Syria’s long war
  • The two sides have been expanding contacts amid international efforts to end the fighting

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday met with Iran’s foreign minister, who arrived in Ankara to brief him on his meeting with Syria’s President Bashar Assad.
Turkey supports Syrian opposition rebels and Iran backs Assad in Syria’s long war, but the two sides have been expanding contacts amid international efforts to end the fighting.
Kazakhstan will host a fresh round of Syria talks on April 25-26 in its capital, recently renamed from Astana to Nur-Sultan.
“I had a long interview with Bashar Assad. I will be giving details of these discussions to Mr. Erdogan,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters in translated comments.
Ankara broke ties with Damascus in 2011 after the start of the Syrian war, and Erdogan has in the past described Assad as an “assassin.”
But Erdogan acknowledged in February that low-level contacts have been taking place and his rhetoric has also softened in tone in recent months.
“In Syria, from the start, on the ground, we do not agree with Iran on many issues,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday. “But we have decided to cooperate with Iran for a political solution.”
Repeated rounds of UN-backed Syria peace talks have failed to end the bloodshed, and Iran, Russia and Turkey have sponsored the parallel so-called Astana negotiations since early 2017.
Talks among the three countries have focused on the militant-held bastion of Idlib in northwestern Syria, local Syrian media have reported.
That region bordering Turkey, is mostly held by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, and is in theory protected from a massive Syrian regime offensive by a Russia-Turkey deal.
The September accord aimed to set up a buffer zone around Idlib, but was never fully implemented as militants refused to withdraw.


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.