‘Solution’ for Lebanon near as protests continues

A Lebanese demonstrator holds up an old identity card during a march entitled "My Nationality, My Dignity" in the center of the capital Beirut on Nov. 10, 2019, calling for giving Lebanese women the right to transmit the nationality to their children. (AFP / ANWAR AMRO)
Updated 11 November 2019

‘Solution’ for Lebanon near as protests continues

  • Salaries dip 25% as lira falls against dollar
  • Protests enter their 25th successive day

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Saad Hariri, is set to announce on Monday “positive signs of a solution to the issue of government formation in Lebanon, unless sudden developments occur.” 

That is according to Mustafa Alloush, a member of the political bureau of the Future Movement, whose comments came after Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) MP Ibrahim Kanaan suggested FPM was convinced of the formation of “a government of technocrats.”

Ali Bazzi, of the Liberation and Development Bloc headed by Speaker Nabih Berri, stressed: “The coming hours will be critical in breaking the state of political stagnation, and the Amal Movement is helping to overcome obstacles and is open to facilitating the formation of a government that serves this country.”

These latest developments come as protests in Lebanon enter their 25th day — protests that have already forced Hariri’s government to step down.

FASTFACTS

  • Activists in the civil movement have stepped up their social media campaigns to call for people to join a sit-in.
  • Public affairs expert Walid Fakhreddine said that some parties were trying to hold the protesters responsible for the deterioration of the currency exchange rate.

Activists in the civil movement have stepped up their social media campaigns to call for people to join a sit-in on Sunday. With the value of the US dollar reaching 2,000 Lebanese lira on the black market, salaries have fallen by 25 percent, and purchase value has fallen by 35-40 percent, which has fueled discontent.Public affairs expert Walid Fakhreddine told Arab News that some parties were trying to hold the protesters responsible for the deterioration of the exchange rate. “This is not a new attack technique; it is globally deployed where there are revolutions, but it is ineffective,” he added.

“There are discussions and dialogues between activists in the squares every evening, and some people tried to disrupt one of the discussions in which (the actor) Ziad Itani and I were involved,” he continued.

“Someone tried to stop Ziad Itani from speaking. One of them attacked me and hit me on my head. Then the same person tried to break the microphone Ziad was using. The third time, they attacked us and began to beat us. The security forces intervened and took the attackers aside. Phone calls took place and the aggressors were allowed to go free.

“What happened is not the first of its kind, as incidents of disruption, repression and assault on protesters are frequent in Beirut, Nabatieh and Tire.

“Everyone in this corrupt government participates in these operations because they are annoyed by the people, so they are trying to thwart their movement. They do not know that the Lebanese people are devising many methods to continue the movement, which has reached the stage of no turning back.”

Fakhreddine revealed that bank employees had joined the movement in the street and complained that the government had left them to face the dollar crisis alone.

He referred to a draft prepared by MPs on the amnesty days ago to be approved next Tuesday. He said: “It is a booby-trapped draft because it prevents trials for all cases involving administrative and financial corruption.”

Itani said the attack against him was against the backdrop of a lawsuit he has filed in court against those involved in his arrest for allegations of communicating with Israel, of which he was found innocent.

“When someone came to me in the square, he told me that it is enough that you went to Tripoli, and it seems that my words bothered them. I said that sedition and sectarianism are forbidden, and that this is the revolution of the poor. I was threatened, and the threat was acted upon in Beirut,” he told Arab News.

“They want to silence me, but I will continue to prosecute those who did me an injustice.”

In a recent report, Human Rights Watch called on the Lebanese authorities to take all possible measures to protect peaceful demonstrators and refrain from using force to disperse peaceful gatherings.

 

 


Protests, explosions hit Iraq’s south as demos maintain strength

Updated 10 December 2019

Protests, explosions hit Iraq’s south as demos maintain strength

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s south saw further protests and explosions, as demonstrations against the government and its Iranian sponsor that erupted on October 1 persist unabated, according to security sources.
The southern city of Amara was rocked overnight by four near-simultaneous explosions targeting premises of two pro-Iran armed factions, according to police.
“Three sound grenades targeted two premises and the house of an Assaib Ahl Al-Haq leader and an improvised explosive device targeted the house of an Ansar Allah commander,” police said.
Asaib Ahl Al-Haq is one of the most powerful groups in Iraq’s Hashed Al-Shaabi security force, a network of armed groups integrated into the state, of which Ansar Allah is also a component.
Medical sources reported three wounded by the blasts.
Founded in 2014 to fight IS jihadists who had seized swathes of northern Iraq and neighboring Syria, the Hashed is made up of mostly Shiite factions, many of which have been backed by Iran.
According to security sources, the attacks were committed against the groups due to their loyalty to neighboring Iran, whose influence continues to grow in Iraq, in particular via armed groups that it has long trained and financed.
These attacks come shortly after the recent bloodshed in several Iraqi cities, the latest seeing 24 people killed, including four police officers, on Friday evening in central Baghdad.
Both the state and the demonstrators accuse armed men of perpetrating the violence, the former claiming that it is not possible to identify those responsible, while the latter point to pro-Iran entities.
Since October 1, Iraq’s capital and its Shiite-majority south have been gripped by rallies against corruption, poor public services, a lack of jobs and Iran’s perceived political interference.
More than 450 people have been killed and more than 20,000 wounded during the unprecedented protest movement demanding an overhaul of the political system.
In the holy Shiite city of Karbala, protesters rallied at the police station to demand information within 24 hours on the death of Fahem Al-Tai, a 53-year-old prominent civil society activist gunned down in a drive-by shooting on Sunday evening while returning home from protests.
Others blocked access to the courthouse to demand proceedings be launched against local leaders for corruption — a key priority of the protest movement in a country ranked the 12th most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International.
In Diwaniya, also in the south, protesters blocked the road to the Shanafiya oil refinery, according to police, demanding employment.
Despite Iraq being OPEC’s second-largest crude producer, one in five of its people live in poverty and youth unemployment stands at one quarter of the population, the World Bank says.
Protesters from several cities in the south on Tuesday joined thousands of demonstrators gathered for more than two months in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, which is the epicenter of the demonstrations in the capital.
“We came to support our brothers in Baghdad,” said an activist in the movement from Nassiriya, Haydar Kazem.