UN: Reconstruction of landmark Mosul mosque to begin in 2020

In this July 4, 2017, file photo, fleeing Iraqi civilians walk past the heavily damaged al-Nuri mosque as Iraqi forces continue their advance against Daesh militants in Iraq's Old City of Mosul. The United Nations' cultural agency says reconstruction of Al-Nouri Mosque in Iraq's city of Mosul is scheduled to start at the beginning of 2020. (AP)
Updated 11 September 2019

UN: Reconstruction of landmark Mosul mosque to begin in 2020

  • The 12th-century monument is famed for its leaning minaret
  • The mosque restoration plan will be the most eye-catching part of a $100 million UNESCO-led heritage reconstruction of Mosul

PARIS: The United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO announced Wednesday that a landmark reconstruction of Iraq’s Al-Nouri mosque in Mosul, which was blown up by the Daesh group in 2017, will start at the beginning of next year.
The timeline of the restoration plan of the 12th-century monument, famed for its leaning minaret, was hammered out during a meeting in Paris between UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay and several Iraqi officials, including Iraqi Culture Minister Abdulamir Al-Dafar Hamdani, and Mosul’s regional governor, Mansour Al-Mareed.
First launched in 2018, the mosque restoration plan will be the most eye-catching part of a $100 million UNESCO-led heritage reconstruction of Mosul.
“Revive the Spirit of Mosul” is the largest restoration plan in Iraqi history, and comes two years after the old city’s destruction at the hands of extremists.
“Today we agreed on a calendar, a precise calendar and plan of action to be mobilized on the ground in Iraq. ... The ongoing phase of structural consolidation and the critical phase of site-clearing and mine-clearing (has) to be achieved from now to the end of the year,” Azoulay told reporters.
“We’ve also agreed on a timetable that would see the reconstruction start in the first semester of 2020 for the mosque,” she added.
IS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi declared an Islamic caliphate from the Al-Nouri mosque in the summer of 2014, only for IS extremists to blow it up in June 2017 as Iraqi forces closed in.
Two years after IS was evicted, Mosul is a city still very much in ruins with no meaningful international effort to rebuild — one that is still struggling with basic services like electricity, water and health care. The UN’s development program is working to restore private houses in the historic Old City. Most of its residents still reside in camps.
The UNESCO initiative goes far beyond the mere restoration of the mosque, and will see the cash be used to rebuild churches, schools and a street in Mosul’s Old City, which was famous for its bookshops.
The United Arab Emirates is providing $50.4 million to finance the project, focusing on the restoration of the mosque, with the European Union providing $24 million.
The decision to select Mosul, as opposed to other Iraqi cities, for a revamp owes to its particular history as a melting pot city.
“We’ve chosen Mosul as a symbol because Mosul was before the conflict a city of diversity, a city of tolerance — more than tolerance — a city where people lived together and knew each other beyond communities, beyond religious belongings,” Azoulay said.
She stressed that she’s asked that some of the $100 million go toward the rebuilding of a synagogue and Christian religious sites.


Former finance minister Mohammad Safadi put forward to be next Lebanese PM

Updated 15 November 2019

Former finance minister Mohammad Safadi put forward to be next Lebanese PM

BEIRUT: Three major Lebanese parties have agreed on nominating Mohammad Safadi, a former finance minister, to become prime minister of a new government, the Lebanese broadcasters LBCI and MTV reported on Thursday.
The agreement was reached in a meeting on Thursday between outgoing Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, Lebanon’s leading Sunni politician, and senior representatives of the Shiite groups Amal and Hezbollah.
There was no official comment from the parties or Safadi. The broadcasters did not identify their sources.
Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29 in the face of an unprecedented wave of protests against ruling politicians who are blamed for rampant state corruption and steering Lebanon into its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.
Hariri remains caretaker prime minister for now.
Since quitting, Hariri, who is aligned with the West and Gulf Arab states, has been holding closed-door meetings with parties including the Iran-backed Hezbollah, which had wanted him to be prime minister again.
Lebanon’s prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim according to the country’s sectarian power-sharing system.
Mustaqbal Web, a Hariri-owned news website, said a meeting between Hariri, Ali Hassan Khalil of the Amal Movement and Hussein Al-Khalil of Hezbollah had discussed recommending Safadi for the post.
MTV said the government would be a mixture of politicians and technocrats. Mustaqbal Web said the type of government was not discussed, and neither was the question of whether Hariri’s Future Movement would be part of the Cabinet.
LBCI said the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian party allied to Hezbollah, had also agreed to Safadi’s nomination.
They did not identify their sources.
Safadi is a prominent businessman and member of parliament from the northern city of Tripoli. He served previously as finance minister from 2011-2014 under prime minister Najib Mikati.
Prior to that, he served as minister of economy and trade in the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who was backed by the West. He held that post again in the Hariri-led Cabinet that took office in 2009.
Hariri had said he would only return as prime minister of a Cabinet of specialist ministers which he believed would be best placed to win international aid and steer Lebanon out of its economic crisis, sources close to Hariri have said.