Lebanese refuse Nasrallah’s ‘declaration of war’ on US

Lebanese refuse Nasrallah’s ‘declaration of war’ on US
Lebanon’s Hezbollah supporters chant slogans during a funeral rally to mourn Qassem Soleimani, in Beirut’s suburbs, on Sunday. (Reuters)
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Updated 06 January 2020

Lebanese refuse Nasrallah’s ‘declaration of war’ on US

Lebanese refuse Nasrallah’s ‘declaration of war’ on US
  • Anger after Hezbollah leader’s speech on death of Soleimani

BEIRUT: There were mixed responses in Lebanon to a speech by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday about the assassination of Qassem Soleimani.

A media activist, who declined to be named, said Nasrallah’s speech amounted to “a declaration of war” on the US. “How can the leader of a Lebanese party declare such war?”

Former MP Fares Saeed said: “There is nothing new in Nasrallah’s speech except that it is a high tone, an attempt to call to arms and a statement that Iran’s prestige still exists despite the assassination of Soleimani.”

“The results will not change what is happening,” he said. “There is an American decision to blockade Iran.”

On the impact of the speech on internal matters in Lebanon, he said: “Before and after the assassination, Lebanon is governed by Hezbollah and it is unable to save Lebanon from the crises that it is suffering from, economically and financially.”

But Wafa Sharif, a retired employee, said that she listened to Nasrallah’s speech to find out what would happen and “he assured me that there is no war in Lebanon but (the war is) in Iraq. There are no American bases in Lebanon. And if this is the limit of revenge, then this is reassuring, but I do not know how far they will succeed and what are the repercussions of this step.”

Hania Kinao, a Twitter activist, said: “Go back to Iran; we know that you don’t care about Lebanon.”

In his speech, Nasrallah called the assassination of Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, “a landmark separating two stages in the region. (It is) A new phase not only in the history of Iran or Iraq but for the whole region.”

“Trump’s policy aims to bring Iran to the negotiating table, but his term will end before Iran goes to him, and he will not receive a phone call,” he said.

Nasrallah said that the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Forces, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, “was with me about two months ago in the southern suburbs of Beirut and asked me to pray for him to be a martyr.”

“The bombing of the convoy of Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis turned everyone into pieces that are difficult to distinguish,” he said.

“The Iraqis were united in the funeral of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis, and they will not let any American soldier stay in Iraq,” he said. “The resistance forces must cooperate because the region is going to a different stage. The resistance forces must decide how to deal with or act with this event. Iran will not ask for anything. It is not permissible to content ourselves with consolation and memorial, the process is not against Iran, but against all our axis, and we must all work for just retribution.”

“This means the American military presence in the region, the military bases, the American military battleships, every American officer and soldier on our lands. The American army is the one that killed, and it will pay the price.”

There is nothing new in Nasrallah’s speech except that it is a high tone, an attempt to call to arms and a statement that Iran’s prestige still exists despite the assassination of Soleimani.

Fares Saeed, Former Lebanese MP

He said: “By fair retribution, we do not mean the American people throughout our region. There are American citizens who should not be harmed. Harming them serves Trump’s policy.”

He added: “The martyrdom seekers who drove the Americans out of our area in the past are still there and much more than they were before. And when the American coffins return to the US, Trump and his administration will realize that they lost the region, they will lose the elections, and the response to the killing of Soleimani is to remove the American forces from all of our region and the goal will be achieved.”

Nasrallah’s speech was accompanied by the deployment of the Lebanese army in the southern suburbs of Beirut, on the roads from Baalbek to Dahr Al-Baydar, and from Sidon to Beirut.

Pictures of Soleimani were hung on billboards on the Beirut airport road and in the southern suburbs. Supporters of Hezbollah also raised a picture of Soleimani at the Barakat Al-Naqqar Gate on the border with the occupied Lebanese Shebaa Farms and wrote on it: “With your blood, we will cross it.”




Portraits of slain Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani are seen on the airport highway in Lebanese capital Beirut, on January 4, 2020. (File/AFP)

The pictures on the Beirut airport road were criticized by social media activists. Rania Al-Khatib published a picture of the scene and commented: “These pictures are not in Iran but in Lebanon on the airport road.”

Another activist said: “Hanging the pictures on the airport road is totally and completely rejected. Those who love him should hang his picture in their homes; the airport and the airport road are only for the Lebanese. We respect your sorrow, respect our Lebanese identity.”


UAE says US sanctions complicate Syria’s return to Arab fold

UAE says US sanctions complicate Syria’s return to Arab fold
Updated 09 March 2021

UAE says US sanctions complicate Syria’s return to Arab fold

UAE says US sanctions complicate Syria’s return to Arab fold

DUBAI: UAE Foreign Minster Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said Tuesday the sanctions imposed by the US Caesar’s Act complicate Syria’s return to the Arab fold. 

The return of Syria to the Arab League is in the interest of Syria and other countries of the region, he said.

The minister made the remarks during a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Abu Dhabi. 

He also announced that the UAE is looking forward to developing relations with Russia in various fields, saying: "Russia is a reliable friend and partner."

Meanwhile, Lavrov said that Russia has been in contact with UAE officials on developments in the Gulf and the region’s the stability.


UAE to operate second Barakah nuclear power plant

UAE to operate second Barakah nuclear power plant
Updated 09 March 2021

UAE to operate second Barakah nuclear power plant

UAE to operate second Barakah nuclear power plant
  • The Nawah Energy Company became authorized to operate the second unit over the next 60 years

DUBAI: The UAE announced the issuance of a license to operate the second unit of the Barakah nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi’s Al-Dhafra region, state news agency WAM reported on Tuesday.
The Nawah Energy Company – which is responsible of operating unit one to four of the power plant - became authorized to operate the second unit over the next 60 years, the report said.
The extensive evaluation process during the past five years included a review of the design of the nuclear plant, and a geographical and demographic analysis of its location.
The evaluation process also included the cooling and safety systems of the nuclear reactor, security measures, emergency preparedness procedures, radioactive waste management, and other technical aspects.
The authority also reviewed the readiness of the Nawah Energy Company in making available all the necessary procedures and measures to ensure the safety and security standards of the power plant.
“Today’s announcement represents a milestone in the UAE’s journey and realization of the vision of the wise leadership. It is considered a strategic achievement that culminates in the efforts exerted over the past 13 years,” Permanent Representative of the International Atomic Energy Agency to the UAE Hamad Al-Kaabi said.


Airstrike kills 10 Daesh militants in Nineveh, north of Iraq

Airstrike kills 10 Daesh militants in Nineveh, north of Iraq
Updated 09 March 2021

Airstrike kills 10 Daesh militants in Nineveh, north of Iraq

Airstrike kills 10 Daesh militants in Nineveh, north of Iraq

DUBAI: A US-led coalition airstrike has destroyed a site housing 10 militants from the Daesh group in Nineveh, north of Iraq, according to the country’s state news agency Tuesday. 

“The international coalition warplanes carried out an air strike in Mount Adaya, within the Nineveh sector of operations, which resulted in the destruction of a den containing about 10 members of the Daesh terror group,” the agency reported. 

A brigade from the Iraqi army searched the targeted area after the coalition strike and neutralized two other Daesh militants wearing explosive-laden belts, the report said.


With Internet shutdown, Iran seeks to limit protest outcry

With Internet shutdown, Iran seeks to limit protest outcry
Updated 09 March 2021

With Internet shutdown, Iran seeks to limit protest outcry

With Internet shutdown, Iran seeks to limit protest outcry
  • Rights groups say at least 10 people were killed when security forces opened fire on fuel porters in Sistan-Baluchistan
PARIS: After Iran last month imposed an Internet shutdown lasting several days in a southeastern region during a rare upsurge of unrest, activists say the government is now using the tactic repeatedly when protests erupt.
Rights groups say at least 10 people were killed when security forces opened fire on fuel porters around Saravan in the province of Sistan-Baluchistan on February 22, prompting protests where live ammunition was used on unarmed demonstrators.
But little information filtered out due to a near total shutdown of the Internet in the impoverished region bordering Pakistan, which has a large ethnic Baluch population and has been a flashpoint for cross-border attacks by separatists and Sunni extremists.
The Internet shutdown was a “measure authorities appear to be using as a tool to conceal gross human rights violations and possible international crimes such as extrajudicial killings,” freedom of expression groups Access Now, Article 19 and Miaan Group said in a joint statement with Amnesty International.
Campaigners say such shutdowns, which recall those seen in recent months during street protests in Belarus and Myanmar, have a dual purpose.
They seek to prevent people from using social media messaging services to mobilize protests but also hinder the documentation of rights violations that could be used to rally support at home and abroad.
Iran in November 2019 imposed nationwide Internet limits during rare protests against fuel hikes that the authorities suppressed in a deadly crackdown.
Rights groups fear the same tactic risks being used again during potentially tense presidential elections this summer.

The Sistan-Baluchistan shutdown saw mobile Internet services halted, effectively shutting down the net in an area where phones account for over 95 percent of Internet use.
“It is aimed at harming documentation and the ability of people to mobilize and coordinate,” Mahsa Alimardani, Iran researcher with the Article 19 freedom of expression group, told AFP. “It helps the authorities to be able to control the narrative.”
State media said there were attacks on government buildings in Saravan and that a policeman was killed when unrest spread to the provincial capital Zahedan.
The governor of the city’s region, Abouzarmahdi Nakahei, denounced “fake” reports of deaths in the protests, blaming “foreign media.”
Alimardani noted that targeting mobile Internet connections made the shutdown different from the one seen in November 2019.
Then, Iranians were cut off from international Internet traffic but were able to continue highly-filtered activities on Iran’s homegrown Internet platform the National Information Network (NIN).
She said the documentation of atrocities was the authorities’ biggest fear. “It is a big rallying call when these videos go viral,” she said.


Unlike some other minority groups in Iran like Arabs and Kurds, the Baluch do not have major representation in the West to promote their cause and draw attention to alleged violations on social media.
Most Baluch adhere to the Sunni branch of Islam rather than the Shiism dominant in Iran and rights groups also say Baluch convicts have been disproportionately targeted by executions.
According to information received by Amnesty from Baluchi activists, at least 10 people were killed on February 22 when Revolutionary Guards “unlawfully and deliberately used lethal force” against unarmed Baluchi fuel porters near Saravan.
The crackdown came after the security forces blocked a road to impede the work of the porters, who cross between Iran and Pakistan to sell fuel.
Amnesty added that security forces also used unlawful and excessive force against people who protested in response to the killings, as well as bystanders, leaving another two dead.


Amnesty’s Iran researcher Raha Bahreini told AFP that the toll was a “minimum figure” that Baluchi activists verified after confirming the victims’ names.
The New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran have an even higher toll of 23 dead, citing local sources.
The Internet shutdown “severely restricted the flow of information to rights defenders from contacts and eyewitnesses,” Bahreini told AFP.
“The authorities are fully aware they are preventing the outside world from learning about the extent and gravity of violations on the ground,” she added.
She said such unlawful shutdowns had turned into a “pattern” in Iran.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Rupert Colville said that the shutdown has impeded precise verification of the death toll and had “the apparent purpose of preventing access to information about what is happening there.”
The CHRI said Iran blocked Internet access “to kill protesters indiscriminately and out of the public eye and prevent protesters from communicating and organizing.”
“Security forces killed hundreds of protesters with impunity in November 2019, and they are doing it again now,” said its director Hadi Ghaemi.
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Egypt hopes to resume talks with Ethiopia on Grand Renaissance Dam

Egypt hopes to resume talks with Ethiopia on Grand Renaissance Dam
Updated 09 March 2021

Egypt hopes to resume talks with Ethiopia on Grand Renaissance Dam

Egypt hopes to resume talks with Ethiopia on Grand Renaissance Dam

CAIRO: Egypt hopes to resume talks soon with Ethiopia over the controversial mega-dam to reach an agreement that serves the interests of the three parties involved in the dispute, its foreign minister said.   

Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said his country has been communicating with Ethiopia over the Grand Renaissance Dam, which Cairo fears it will significantly cut its crucial water supplies from the Nile River.

No talks on the matter were made outside the framework of the African Union (AU), Shoukry was cited by local daily Al-Masry El-Youm . The AU has been mediating the talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. 

Egypt and Sudan have voiced their concern about the possible threats posed by the dam and how it could negatively affect their water share if Ethiopia abstained from signing a binding and legal agreement on the dam operation and the process of filling its reservoir.