Tension in Lebanon over ‘political comeback’ by Hariri brother

The sons of the slain former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, Ayman, Saad-Dedine and Bahaa, visit the car bomb site where their father was killed in Beirut, Lebanon February 19, 2005. (REUTERS)
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Updated 11 May 2020

Tension in Lebanon over ‘political comeback’ by Hariri brother

  • Future Movement leader questions Bahaa’s sudden ‘zeal for Lebanon’

BEIRUT: Allies of former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri reacted with scorn on Sunday after an apparent attempt by his elder brother Bahaa Hariri to return to the political arena.

Mustafa Alloush, a member of the political bureau of Saad’s Future Movement, told Arab News he was surprised by Bahaa’s sudden “zeal for Lebanon, from which he has been away since the assassination of his father.”
The two men’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, died when his convoy in central Beirut was targeted by a van bomb widely attributed to Hezbollah in February 2005.
Alloush was responding to a statement by Bahaa Hariri in which he offered his support to forces calling for political change in Lebanon.
Bahaa said that after the end of the coronavirus pandemic, Lebanon would return to a corrupt and greedy system that used hollow sectarian rhetoric to “steal our country’s capabilities.”
He called for the restoration of “the dignity of the Lebanese people, which has been lost” because of a corrupt political system.
“There is no strong, responsible, honest or economically robust state to shoulder the burden of inspiring activity across the country,” he said.
Bahaa expressed support for “the rightful demands” of “the people’s revolution against the system of corruption and illegal weapons.”
He criticized the tendency of most politicians and political parties after his father’s assassination in 2005 to accumulate power and money at the expense of the country and citizens’ interests by forming multiparty alliances.

FASTFACT

Bahaa Hariri, who was born in Saudi Arabia in 1966, is thought to be worth more than $2 billion.

These alliances, he said, were formed on the basis of “we will be quiet about your arms and your party’s violation of national sovereignty, if you are quiet about our deals and theft of public money.” This, he said, was hurting Lebanon, its people and its international reputation.
Alloush said he could not find any plausible explanation for Bahaa’s statements. He said he believed there were parties in Lebanon that wanted to bring Bahaa back to the Lebanese political scene to take advantage of his wealth.
Bahaa Hariri, who was born in Saudi Arabia in 1966, is thought to be worth more than $2 billion. He worked in the family construction and development company, Saudi Oger, until 2008, when he set up his own operation in Switzerland.
Hariri also established the Horizon property development company, which has major projects in Beirut as well as the Abdali development in central Amman in Jordan.

 


Flash floods in southern Yemen kill five, displace hundreds

Updated 05 June 2020

Flash floods in southern Yemen kill five, displace hundreds

  • Five shepherds in the Henan valley were swept away as floods hit farms

AL-MUKALLA: Heavy rains and flash floods hit provinces in southern Yemen on Wednesday and Thursday, killing five people, displacing hundreds of families and isolating villages, local government officials told Arab News.

The heavy rain that began on Wednesday in Yemen's southern province of Hadramout triggered flash floods that killed five shepherds in the Henan valley and damaged farms.

“The five young men went to the valley to bring back their camels and sheep before floods washed them away,” Hesham Al-Souaidi, a local government official, told Arab News by telephone on Thursday.

Local authorities and residents found three bodies and are still searching for the other two.

Al-Souaidi said that flood waters destroyed farms and killed a large number of livestock in the agricultural Wadi Hadramout.

Southern Yemeni provinces have been bracing for the tropical depression since Saturday, when it hit Oman’s southern city of Salalah, as the country’s National Meteorological Center issued alerts, urging Yemenis to avoid traveling during the the storm and to avoid flood courses.

In coastal parts of Hadramout, hundreds of families living near flood channels were forced to flee to after flooding reached unprecedented levels.

Amen Barezaeg, a local government official assigned by the Hadramout governor to lead a relief committee, told Arab News that his team has documented the displacement of 450 families from Mayfa Hajer district alone, adding that the floods damaged roads, farms and isolated many remote areas in the province.

“We are now working on reopening roads to reach the isolated villages. The damage is huge,” he said.

Flash floods displaced dozens of families, washed away hundreds of palm trees and damaged dozens of houses in Hajr town, west of the city of Al-Mukalla, Hadramout province capital.

In some areas of Hadramout, residents said the floods were more destructive than those caused by cyclones over the last five years.

“We have never seen floods like this. Only the floods in 1996 were as strong as these,” Mohammed Bahamel, a journalist from Boroum Mayfa village, west of Al-Mukalla, told Arab News.

Heavy rains triggered flash flooding that wreaked similar havoc in Shabwa, Abyan and Aden, but with no reported casualties, according to local officials.

A government official in Shabwa province told Arab News that the floods washed away farms, isolated villages and damaged several houses.

In Aden, bulldozers were seen clearing mud from the streets as government officials inspected damage caused by the rain.

In April, the internationally recognized government declared Aden, the interim capital of Yemen, a “disaster” area after torrential rains and heavy flooding killed more than 10 people and damaged infrastructure.

Local health officials and residents say that the latest rainfall may set the stage for the spread of the coronavirus and other diseases that killed more than 1,000 people in May.

Wednesday’s floods destroyed the main road that links Hadramout province with Aden, disrupting movement of medical teams and vital medical supplies, including testing kits, officials said.

Meteorologists predicted that the rains would disappear on the weekend.

“Remnants of the tropical depression continue to produce rain across southwest Yemen. Rain will wane over the area on Friday,” Jason Nicholls, a meteorologist for AccuWeather, said on Twitter on Thursday.