UN chief calls on Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah

Hezbollah supporters celebrating in Lebanon. (Shutterstock photo)
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Updated 14 May 2020

UN chief calls on Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah

  • Lebanese leaders rap Nasrallah for his stance over Assad regime

BEIRUT:  Lebanon on Wednesday entered talks with the International Monetary Fund, amid calls to disarm Hezbollah. 

A report in the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday quoted UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as saying that the Lebanese government and the army should take all possible steps to prevent Hezbollah and other armed groups from acquiring weapons. 

He added that Hezbollah’s continued involvement in Syria “carries the risk of entangling Lebanon in regional conflicts and undermining the stability of Lebanon and the region.” 

Guterres also expressed concern over Israel’s use of Lebanese airspace to attack targets in Syria. 

Lebanon’s Supreme Defense Council, which is headed by President Michel Aoun, on Wednesday met to review measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and steps to control smuggling through illegal crossings on the border with Syria. 

Within an hour of the meeting, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah gave a televised speech in which he called on the Lebanese government and army to work with the Syrian regime to halt the cross-border smuggling. 

Commenting on the possible deployment of UN forces along the border, Nasrallah said that this would be “an achievement of one of the objectives of the Lebanese-Israeli war of July 2006, which is something we can never accept as it has nothing to do with the economy.” 

He called on the Lebanese government to restore ties with the Syrian regime. 

Following the speech, Lebanese MP Fadi Karam said: “It is not only a matter of some illegal border points, but there are highways open to assist the economy of the Syrian regime.” 

In a message posted on Twitter, former minister May Chidiac wrote: “Nasrallah is eager to take advantage of the financial collapse and poverty of the Lebanese, and is going on with his plan to make us submit to the Iranian alliance.” 

Former MP Mustafa Allouch, a member of the Future Movement, said: “It is true that Lebanon needs Syria economically but Lebanon does not need the Syrian regime, nor the Wilayat Al-Faqih in it. All they have contributed is destruction and devastation.” 

Former MP Fares Souaid said: “Nasrallah lives in his own world. Lebanese relations are not only limited to Syria and Iraq as he claimed, but many other Arab countries.” 

Doha faces diplomatic row after women strip-searched at airport

Updated 15 sec ago

Doha faces diplomatic row after women strip-searched at airport

  • The female passengers were taken to a private area of the airport and subject to intrusive examinations
  • The doctor examined the women to see whether they may have given birth recently, Babeck said

LONDON: Australia’s government has registered “serious concerns” with Qatar following a strip-searching scandal at Doha airport.
A flight to Sydney from Hamad International Airport was due to leave on Oct. 2, but was delayed by more than four hours after authorities allegedly discovered a deceased new-born infant in the airport. 
All the female passengers on board the aircraft were ordered to disembark. A doctor on the flight told Guardian Australia that the women returned some time later and that “most of them were very upset.”
Dr. Wolfgang Babeck added: “At least one of them was crying, they were discussing what had happened and saying it was unacceptable and disgusting.” 
The flight took off after the women returned. Babeck said he spoke with some of the passengers, who told him they were taken to a private area of the airport and subject to intrusive examinations.
“They were taken by security personnel into the cellar, not knowing what was going on. And then they were presented to a female doctor and they were basically strip-searched and had to take everything … off, all their clothes, even their underwear,” he added.
“And then the doctor would try to feel in the uterus and stomach area or lower abdomen to see whether they may have given birth recently. Someone had been told that a baby had been found in the toilet and they were trying to find out who the mother was.”
Other reports say the inspections took place in an ambulance on the runway, and 13 Australian women were strip-searched.
A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) told Guardian Australia that it was “aware of concerning reports regarding the treatment, in Qatar, of passengers on a Qatar Airways flight to Sydney. DFAT is seeking further information from the Qatari authorities and Qatar Airways.”
On Sunday, DFAT issued an updated statement saying Australia’s government had “formally registered our serious concerns regarding the incident with Qatari authorities and have been assured that detailed and transparent information on the event will be provided soon.”