Lebanese security forces pepper spray demonstrators outside US Embassy

Lebanese security forces pepper spray demonstrators outside US Embassy
Lebanese demonstrators pull on a barbed wire as they take part in an demonstration against the US peace plan proposal, near the US embassy in Awkar, northeast of the capital Beirut on February 2, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 02 February 2020

Lebanese security forces pepper spray demonstrators outside US Embassy

Lebanese security forces pepper spray demonstrators outside US Embassy
  • The protesters called on all Arabs to take to the streets and stressed that “this deal will fall before the will of the Palestinian people as did the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Balfour Declaration before, and Palestine will remain for all Palestinians

BEIRUT: Angry Lebanese and Palestinian protesters staged a sit-in on Sunday outside the US Embassy to protest the “deal of the century,” which US President Donald Trump announced last week.
The Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces set up a perimeter using barbed wire and iron barriers on the Dbayeh Highway leading to the US Embassy in Awkar, 11 km north of Beirut.
The protesters raised Palestinian flags as well as the flags of Lebanese parties, including the Communist Party and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. They chanted in support of Palestine and in denunciation of the deal.
Protesters shouted: “Down with the deal of disgrace. All Palestine is for the Palestinians, their children, and grandchildren.”
The protesters called on all Arabs to take to the streets and stressed that “this deal will fall before the will of the Palestinian people as did the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Balfour Declaration before, and Palestine will remain for all Palestinians.”
The sit-in became violent when the protesters attempted to remove the barbed wire to reach the perimeter.

They threw stones at the security forces. The military responded by using pepper spray, leading to protesters fainting and suffocating.
Ghassan Ayoub, a representative from the Palestine Liberation Organization, told Arab News: “The Palestinian factions did not participate in the sit-in as the call for the sit-in was Lebanese, and the Palestinian participation was symbolic.”  He said that the Palestinian camps in Lebanon have been in a state of anger since Trump announced his deal.
“Palestinian refugees express their anger by staging sit-ins inside their camps and holding seminars that explain to the refugees the disadvantages and risks of the deal to the Palestinian people,” he added.
The US Embassy warned its employees 24 hours before the sit-in to avoid the area of ​​the demonstration.

HIGHLIGHT

The sit-in became violent when the protesters attempted to remove the barbed wire to reach the perimeter.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced during a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on Saturday that “the Palestinian Authority decided to cut all ties with the US and Israel, including security relations, after rejecting the US Middle East peace plan.”
Trump’s plan, endorsed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calls for the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state under near-total Israeli security control. It also calls for the US recognition of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and of Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel.
Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem said on Sunday: “Trump and Netanyahu must know that the resisting Palestinian people and the peoples of the region will not let this deal pass and will not allow Israel to occupy and legitimize its occupation at the same time.
“Palestine is on all the soil of Palestine, from the sea to the river, and the capital is Jerusalem, east and west, not East Jerusalem alone. This is what we believe in, and we believe it is possible to achieve it. It requires some sacrifices and time.”
Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi said: “The deal of the century is a slap to the Palestinian cause and the decisions of the UN and the Security Council taken successively since 1948.”
Al-Rahi expressed his fear that the implementation of this deal would lead to “a new conflict that would increase destruction and bloodshed, and as usual Lebanon would not be spared the outcomes.”


EU sees must-not-miss chance to revive Iran nuclear deal

EU sees must-not-miss chance to revive Iran nuclear deal
Updated 20 min 37 sec ago

EU sees must-not-miss chance to revive Iran nuclear deal

EU sees must-not-miss chance to revive Iran nuclear deal
  • Nuclear deal almost collapsed after the Trump administration unilaterally pulled the US out three years ago

BRUSSELS: The top European Union diplomat supervising the international agreement aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions called Friday for a concerted effort to reinvigorate the pact even as Tehran appears to be reneging on some of its commitments.
“This is an occasion that we cannot miss,” to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters via video-link.
The deal almost collapsed after the Trump administration unilaterally pulled the US out three years ago, triggering crippling economic sanctions on Iran. Britain, France and Germany notably struggled to keep it alive and have been heartened by President Joe Biden’s willingness to bring the US back in.
“I am convinced as coordinator of the JCPOA that we do have diplomatic space, a diplomatic window of opportunity to dialogue” in line with Biden’s aims, Borrell said. “We need to use this opportunity and focus on solutions to bring the JCPOA back on track in order for everybody (to fulfil) their commitments.”
Iran this week effectively set a deadline to lift the US sanctions within three months, after which it said it would erase surveillance footage of its nuclear facilities. It has also limited some monitoring of its activities, which the EU says are meant to help ensure that Tehran’s nuclear work is peaceful.
The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has also reported that Iran has added 17.6 kilograms (38.8 pounds) of uranium enriched up to 20 percent to its stockpile as of Feb. 16 — far past the 3.67 percent purity allowed under the JCPOA.
Borrell said that Iran’s latest moves “are very much concerning.”

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HRW urges Iran to probe deadly shooting on Pakistan border

HRW urges Iran to probe deadly shooting on Pakistan border
Updated 26 February 2021

HRW urges Iran to probe deadly shooting on Pakistan border

HRW urges Iran to probe deadly shooting on Pakistan border
  • Shooting in the border area near the town of Saravan killed at least 10 people and wounded five
BEIRUT: Human Rights Watch called on Iran Friday to investigate a deadly shooting by Revolutionary Guards against smugglers attempting to transport fuel into neighboring Pakistan for excessive use of force.
Monday’s shooting in the border area near the town of Saravan killed at least 10 people and wounded five, HRW said, citing Baluchi activists.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had blocked a road used to transport fuel before apparently opening fire at people attempting to reopen the route, it added.
The action has prompted attacks by angry protesters on government buildings in both Saravan and the Sistan-Baluchistan provincial capital Zahedan.
“The Iranian authorities should urgently conduct a transparent and impartial investigation into the shootings at the Saravan border,” said HRW Iran researcher Tara Sepehri Far.
“The authorities should hold those responsible for wrongdoing to account, appropriately compensate victims and ensure that border guards are taking the utmost precautions to respect the right to life and other human rights.”
Provincial deputy governor Mohammad-Hadi Marashi said Tuesday that the shooting had started from the Pakistani side of the border and one person had been killed and four wounded.
Sistan-Baluchistan province has long been a security headache for the Iranian government.
Its large ethnic Baluch population, which staddles the frontier, has made it a flashpoint for cross-border attacks on government or Shiite targets by separatists and Sunni extremists.
HRW said the lack of employment opportunities in the province had left its ethnic Baluch population few alternatives to black market trading with their fellow Baluchs across the border.
“Similar to the western provinces of Western Azerbaijan and Kurdistan (on the border with Iraq), its lack of economic opportunities has led many residents to engage in unlawful cross-border commerce with Pakistan,” the New York-based watchdog.

Israel vaccinates 50% of its population against COVID-19

Israel vaccinates 50% of its population against COVID-19
Updated 26 February 2021

Israel vaccinates 50% of its population against COVID-19

Israel vaccinates 50% of its population against COVID-19
  • About 35 percent of Israel’s population had received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine

JERUSALEM: Israel has administered at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to 50 percent of its 9.3 million population, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Friday.
Israel counts East Jerusalem Palestinians, who have been included in the vaccine campaign that began on Dec 19, as part of its population. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip are not part of the Israeli campaign.
Edelstein said 35 percent of Israel’s population had received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, putting them on course to receive a so-called “Green Pass” with access to leisure sites that the country has been gradually reopening.


Libya’s new PM delays naming Cabinet as deadline looms

Libya’s new PM delays naming Cabinet as deadline looms
Updated 26 February 2021

Libya’s new PM delays naming Cabinet as deadline looms

Libya’s new PM delays naming Cabinet as deadline looms
  • Appointing the Cabinet is part of a UN-backed transitional roadmap
  • Since 2015, Libyan state institutions have been divided between two administrations

CAIRO: Libya’s newly-elected prime minister failed to name members of a much-anticipated Cabinet ahead of an expected deadline Thursday, raising questions over whether his transitional government can unite Libya’s factions.
Prime Minister designate Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah was set to announce his Cabinet in a news conference from the capital, Tripoli, and send it to Libya’s House of Representatives for approval.
Instead, Dbeibah told reporters he only shared with Libyan lawmakers proposed guidelines for the selection of Cabinet members and an outline of his priorities in the coming period.
Appointing the Cabinet is part of a UN-backed transitional roadmap, which envisages holding general elections in the war-torn North African country by the end of the year.
Since 2015, Libyan state institutions have been divided between two administrations: One in the east and another in the west, each supported by a vast array of militias and foreign governments.
“We are ready to submit the names (of Cabinet ministers) but we should consult among ourselves and examine candidate names meticulously,” Dbeibah told reporters in Tripoli without specifying when he will actually make the submission.
Dbeibah said he envisages a Cabinet of technocrats who would represent Libya’s different geographic areas and social segments.
“These are critical times and we are taking into consideration that the Cabinet must genuinely achieve national unity and seek consensus and reconciliation,” he said.
He added that the country’s sovereign ministerial portfolios should be equally divided between candidates from Libya’s three key geographic areas in the east, the west and the south.
Earlier this month, Dbeibah was elected as prime minister by Libyan delegates at a UN-sponsored conference near Geneva.
The 75-member Libyan Political Dialogue Forum also elected a three-member Presidential Council, which along with Dbeibah should lead the country through general elections on December 24. Mohammad Younes Menfi, a Libyan diplomat from the country’s east, was selected as chairman of the council.


Bahrain introduces fifth vaccine, extends COVID-19 safety measures

Bahrain introduces fifth vaccine, extends COVID-19 safety measures
Updated 26 February 2021

Bahrain introduces fifth vaccine, extends COVID-19 safety measures

Bahrain introduces fifth vaccine, extends COVID-19 safety measures
  • The Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine will be the fifth vaccine authorized in Bahrain in the fight against the spread of COVID-19
  • The announcement comes as the Government Executive Committee extended precautionary measures

DUBAI: Bahrain’s National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) has authorized the use of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine for coronavirus the Bahrain News Agency reported on Friday.

The Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine will be the fifth vaccine authorized in Bahrain in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 and will be given to those most at risk, suchas the elderly, people with chronic diseases and other groups identified by the Health Ministry.

The announcement comes as the Government Executive Committee extended precautionary measures, aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, for an additional three months.

The measures involve the continued enforcement of  social distancing and screening of people at commercial and industrial premises for a further three months.