Lebanese mourners pay tribute to protest victim

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Lebanese well-wishers pay their respects. (AFP)
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Lebanese well-wishers pay their respects. (AFP)
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Lebanese well-wishers pay their respects. (AFP)
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The daughter of of Alaa Abu Fakher, who was killed by a Lebanese soldier in Tuesday night protests south of Beirut, mourns during her father's funeral, in Choueifat neighborhood, Lebanon, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. (AP)
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The coffin of slain Lebanese protester Alaa Abou Fakhr, draped in a national flag, is carried by mourners through the streets of his hometown of Chouaifet, southeast of Beirut, during his funeral procession on November 14, 2019. (AFP)
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A fire fighter extinguishes burning pipes and tyres set ablaze by anti-government protesters blocking the highway at the southern entrance of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, on November 14, 2019.(AFP)
Updated 15 November 2019

Lebanese mourners pay tribute to protest victim

  • The roads linking Beirut with the country’s south and north were opened shortly before noon Thursday
  • Thousands of people attended the funeral of a 38-year-old father who was shot dead by a soldier at a protest Tuesday night

BEIRUT: Thousands of Lebanese mourners on Thursday paid tribute to the first casualty of Lebanon’s protests, dubbed a “martyr of the revolution” by protesters.

To cries of “Revolution, revolution,” protesters from across the country watched as the body of Alaa’ Abu Fakhr, draped in the Lebanese flag, was carried to his final resting place in his hometown Choueifat, south of Beirut.

Mourners also carried the sobbing son of the victim, Omar, who raised his hand in a victory sign.

Abu Fakhr, 39, a father of three, died on Tuesday after an army officer opened fire on demonstrators blocking roads in the coastal town of Khalde, south of Beirut.

News of his death was met with shock and anger among protesters who have taken to the streets for the past 29 days demanding the removal of politicians accused of inefficiency and corruption.

Demonstrators on Tuesday night blocked roads and set tires ablaze, then rallied for nationwide protests on Wednesday where pictures of Abu Fakhr were held aloft.

The following night a Free Patriotic Movement supporter was arrested after firing on protesters in Jal El-Dib. There were no injuries.

Later, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi called on protesters to “show restraint and maintain peaceful protests.”

The army on Thursday reopened roads blocked by protesters on Tuesday night following a TV interview with President Michel Aoun.

State Prosecutor Judge Ghassan Oueidat said that Khaldoun Jaber, an activist leader who went missing during protests near the presidential palace in Baabda on Wednesday, will be released.

Banks will remain closed on Friday for the fourth day after employees said they feared for their safety and felt intimidated by customers demanding to withdraw large amounts of cash in dollars following strict limits imposed by banks.

On the second day of his visit to Lebanon, French envoy Christophe Varno said that “everyone is concerned about the hardships Lebanon is facing.”

Varno called for the rapid formation of “a government that is efficient, effective and capable of taking decisions that respond to the aspirations of the Lebanese people and restoring their faith.”

Meanwhile, a source close to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri told Arab News that “Hariri is convinced that nothing can save the country except a government of experts, and he is stressing that he is at the service of his country and its economy.”  

Hariri resigned on Oct. 29, but Aoun is yet to set a date for consultations on the appointment of a new prime minister.

Sources close to the former prime minister said: “The other side would normally inform Hariri of their approval or disapproval of his demand, but we have not received anything yet.”


Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

Updated 21 January 2020

Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

  • Expert says sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in Libyan conflict unlikely

JEDDAH: With the conclusion of the Libya peace summit in Berlin on Sunday, it remains to be seen whether Turkey is willing to implement the provisions of the final communique and stay out of the conflict.

Ankara is accused of sending Syrian fighters to the Libyan battlefront in support of Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

During the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron voiced concerns over the arrival of Syrian and other foreign fighters in Tripoli, saying: “That must end.” 

Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst at Oxford University, speculates that Turkey will not deploy more troops.  

But he told Arab News that a sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in the Libyan conflict is unlikely for the moment as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will remain present “until the GNA’s future is secured.”

Noting the difficulty of enforcing the Berlin agreement, Ramani said Turkey might not be the first mover in breaching a cease-fire in Libya.

But he added that Turkey will not hesitate to deploy forces and upend the agreement if Haftar makes any moves that it considers “provocative.”

The summit called for sanctions on those who violate the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya.

Turkish opposition MPs recently criticized the expanded security pact between Ankara and the GNA, saying the dispatch of materials and equipment to Libya breaches the UN arms embargo.

Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.

Micha’el Tanchum, Analyst

The summit does not seem to have resolved ongoing disputes regarding the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, a planned natural gas pipeline connecting eastern Mediterranean energy resources to mainland Greece via Cyprus and Crete.

The Cypriot presidency accused Turkey of being a “pirate state,” citing Ankara’s recent drilling off its coasts just a day after Brussels warned Turkey that its plans were illegal.

Erdogan dismissed the warning and threatened to send to the EU some 4 million refugees that Turkey is hosting.

Turkey dispatched its Yavuz drillship to the south of Cyprus on Sunday, based on claims deriving from the maritime delimitation agreement with the GNA.

Turkey’s insistence on gas exploration in the region may be subject to sanctions as early as this week, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday.

Aydin Sezer, an Ankara-based political analyst, drew attention to Article 25 of the Berlin final communique, which underlined the “Libyan Political Agreement as a viable framework for the political solution in Libya,” and called for the “establishment of a functioning presidency council and the formation of a single, unified, inclusive and effective Libyan government approved by the House of Representatives.”

Sezer told Arab News: “Getting approval from Libya’s Haftar-allied House of Representatives would be a serious challenge for Ankara because Haftar recently considered all agreements with Turkey as a betrayal. This peace conference once more showed that Turkey should keep away from Libya.”

Many experts remain skeptical about the possible outcome of the summit. 

Micha’el Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, said: “Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.”