Young Lebanese protesters share their spirited messages

Protesters chant slogans during ongoing protests against the Lebanese political class, as riot police stand guard in front of Finance Ministry building in Beirut, Lebanon, on Friday. (AP)
Updated 30 November 2019

Young Lebanese protesters share their spirited messages

  • Despite efforts to demonize them, activists stick to message of peace

BEIRUT: Activists in the civil movement in Lebanon have stuck to the peacefulness of their protests, despite attempts to demonize them by the political forces.

The best example of this peacefulness was the reaction of Farah Merhi, 30, after her car was torched aggressors in Riad Al-Solh and Martyrs’ Square. “I did not feel angry or frustrated, I just smiled,” she told Arab News.

Farah’s smile was transmitted by social media as she stood by her torched car, a Datsun, which she bought by installment ten years ago when she worked as an accountant. Farah used to drive her car every day to go to work, as she lives in the mountains, and it was her only method of transport.

Farah said that she was keen on parking her car last Saturday in a secure area. Supporters of the “Amal Movement” and Hezbollah attacked in the evening and torched tents, shops and cars in the streets neighboring the squares. When she came back to her car the following morning, she found it burnt.

Farah’s cousin started a social media account calling for $10,000 of donations to buy a car for her. In less than 24 hours, 50 percent of the amount was raised. Farah said that the “donations came from people I know and those I do not know in and out of Lebanon. It was really touching. The amount now exceeds $10,000 and I am astonished by the love shown to me.”

She said that she is participating in the protests to call for a “decent life for the people, away from politics, I am not against anyone but I am demanding human rights.”

While activists were lifting debris from the squares the day after the aggression, they adorned their tents and Farah’s torched car with flowers.

Many other stories from the revolutionary squares have been gathered in a newspaper titled “October 17,” which refers to the day when the revolution broke out in Lebanon. The newspaper was issued on Friday with 16 pages. Its front page was covered with a photo of activists, captioned: “I am the people who knows nothing is impossible.”

Inside, readers discovered articles and activist stories — including one titled “the people who is getting back its country” — and another on “the sanctity of the leader when it gets shaken.”

Bachir Abou Zayd, 27, one of the founders of the newspaper, told Arab News: “I am a cinema director and was part of the movement from the beginning. The idea of issuing the newspaper was agreed on with five friends and Ibrahim Halawi, a university professor in London who we are in contact with.”

He added: “we aim to record what is going on in the squares and the achievements of the revolution, so that the newspaper reflects the experiences of the various activist groups so that we could formulate one voice that expresses all opinions.”

Abou Zayd, from Kfar Roummane, noted that “the newspaper was produced in collaboration with media and social activists, and that the only condition to write in it was for the article not to have a political background or direction, everyone is free to have his own beliefs but we want something that expresses everyone’s opinions.” It was estimated to cost between $1,000 and $1,500 for 3,000 copies.


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.