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.”


Iran nuclear deal parties meet as accord nears collapse

Updated 06 December 2019

Iran nuclear deal parties meet as accord nears collapse

  • Envoys from Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran will take part in the meeting
  • Iran insists that under the agreement it has the right to take measures in retaliation for the US’s withdrawal from the deal

VIENNA: The remaining signatories to the faltering 2015 Iran nuclear deal will meet in Vienna on Friday with the survival of the landmark agreement at stake after Tehran vowed to continue to breach the deal’s limits on its nuclear program.
Envoys from Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran will take part in the meeting, which is the first time the six parties will have gathered in this format since July.
Since May, Iran has taken a series of measures, including stepping up uranium enrichment, in breach of the 2015 deal, with another such move likely in early January.
Iran insists that under the agreement it has the right to take these measures in retaliation for the US’s withdrawal from the deal in 2018 and reimposition of crippling sanctions.
Since last month, European members have in turn begun raising the possibility of triggering the so-called “dispute resolution mechanism” foreseen in the accord, which could lead to the resumption of UN sanctions on Iran.
On the eve of what was already likely to be a strained meeting, Britain, France and Germany accused Iran of developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, in a letter to the UN on Thursday.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif dismissed the allegation as “desperate falsehood.”
However, despite the mounting tension observers say Britain, France and Germany are unlikely to trigger the dispute resolution mechanism on Friday when their diplomats attend the joint commission meeting chaired by senior EU official Helga-Maria Schmid.
Analysts say if UN sanctions are re-imposed and the deal falls apart, Iran could also withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
“It’s not clear whether that’s worth the benefit,” Ali Vaez from the International Crisis Group told AFP.
But he warned the risk of the deal collapsing was increasing as Iran was “running out of measures that are easy to reverse and non-controversial.”
“Both sides are locked into an escalatory cycle that is just very hard to imagine that they would step away from,” he said.
Francois Nicoullaud, former French ambassador to Iran, also says tensions were expected to continue to rise.
“Maybe it won’t be this time, but (the deal falling apart) will certainly be in the background of the discussions,” Nicoullaud told AFP.


Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani warned Sunday that if European partners triggered the dispute mechanism, Tehran may “seriously reconsider” its commitments to the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors the deal’s implementation.
European efforts to shield Iran from the effects of US sanctions by creating a mechanism to carry on legitimate trade with the Islamic republic have borne little fruit, much to Tehran’s frustration.
The EU is growing increasingly concerned by Tehran rowing back from its commitments.
The dispute resolution mechanism in the deal has numerous stages, but it can eventually culminate in the UN Security Council voting on whether Iran should still have relief from sanctions lifted under the deal.
In such a scenario, says Vaez, “we will have a major non-proliferation crisis on our hands in the sense that the Russians and the Chinese have already declared they would not recognize the return of (sanctions).”
Vaez said in the end the path to a diplomatic solution would depend on Washington’s next moves and whether it would at least be willing to relax its attempts to prevent sales of Iranian oil, a vital source of income for the country.
“The remaining parties to the deal have proved incapable of providing Iran with any kind of breathing space,” Vaez said.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that Tehran is willing to return to the negotiating table if the United States first drops sanctions.