Troops use tear gas as violent clashes rock Beirut

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Protesters, protect riot police from stones thrown by anti-government protesters during a protest in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, June 6, 2020. (AP)
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Anti-government protesters hold Lebanese national flags as shout slogans during a protest in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, June 6, 2020. (AP)
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Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a protest in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, June 6, 2020. (AP)
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Hezbollah and Amal supporters stand in front of Lebanese army as they shout slogans against anti-government protesters, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, June 6, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 06 June 2020

Troops use tear gas as violent clashes rock Beirut

  • Divisions among protesters over the goals of the demonstration quickly became apparent as groups of protesters faced off
  • 35 hurt after chanting protesters call for Hezbollah to disarm

BEIRUT: Violent clashes between supporters of Iran-backed Hezbollah and rival protesters left more than 35 people injured as anti-government demonstrations returned to Lebanon’s capital on Saturday.

Hundreds of protesters filled the streets around Martyrs Square, blaming a lack of reforms for the country’s worst economic turmoil in decades amid rising unemployment worsened by a lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus.

But the protest turned violent as supporters of Hezbollah clashed with demonstrators demanding that the Tehran-backed Shiite group disarm.

Protesters threw stones and chanted sectarian insults as troops formed a human chain to keep the rival groups apart.

“No to Hezbollah, no to its weapons,” said a sign held up by a female protester.

Panic erupted after troops used gunfire to halt the confrontation.

The Lebanese Red Cross said that 35 people were hurt in clashes, with many treated at the scene.

Protesters came from around Lebanon to join renewed demonstrations in the capital, with many waving flags and others carrying banners demanding Hezbollah disarm.

One protester told Arab News: “We are rebels and free to raise demands of our choice, whether it is related to the economy or to disarming Hezbollah.”

Another said: “I am from Akkar. The government has done nothing. Hundreds of people have lost their jobs, and I know families that have nothing to eat.”

A third said that Arab and foreign countries had broken ties with Lebanon because of Hezbollah.

“No one wants to help us out of our financial crisis. That is why we want Hezbollah to disarm,” he said.

Interior Minister Mohamed Fahmy and Defense Minister Zeina Akar followed security operations in Martyrs Square from an operation room in Emile Helou police station.

Fahmy warned protesters against attacking public or private property, saying that security forces ” will intervene the moment riots occur.”

However MP Samy Gemayel, head of the Phalanges party, accused authorities of “trying to cause discord among protesters, labeling them traitors, and spreading rumors to intimidate them.”

The Phalanges Party was among parties calling for early parliamentary elections during the protests.

“The mood of the people has changed, and the goal of the political authority is to cause divisions in order to postpone the next elections,” Gemayel said.

Former justice minister Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, whose supporters traveled from Tripoli to join the protests, accused Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah of being “an Iranian agent.”

He said: “The revolution rejuvenates itself for a new start, and differences among protesters is a healthy phenomenon. No one dares to intimidate us by threatening to put one segment of society against the other.”

Rifi said that Hezbollah’s illegal arms supply was a threat to “Lebanese sovereignty and national unity.”

“We are partners in one country and we should establish a sovereign state, not a state within the state. You have a regional power that supplies weapons to you, but another regional power could supply weapons to another party, which would lead to the destruction of the country,” he said.


Full steam ahead for Egypt-Sudan rail network

Updated 24 min 26 sec ago

Full steam ahead for Egypt-Sudan rail network

  • Gateway project will open continent to new trade and jobs, says Cairo minister

CAIRO: Egypt’s Minister of Transport Kamel Al-Wazir has discussed plans with Sudanese counterpart Hashem bin Auf to build a cross-border railway network between the two neighboring countries.

The pair discussed terms of a joint cooperation document for railway connectivity, which aims to provide funding for an economic, social and environmental feasibility study for the project. The planned network will extend from the Egyptian city of Aswan across the southern border to Sudan’s Wadi Halfa in its first phase.

Funding will be organized through cooperation between Egypt, Sudan and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.

Al-Wazir signed the document and delivered it to the Sudanese ambassador in Cairo for signing by the country’s transport minister.

The two sides also discussed a number of road projects, including a prospective land road between Egypt and Chad through Sudan. 

The project aims to be a gateway for trade between the two countries, Chad and West Africa. 

The Cairo-Sudan-Cape Town road, which passes through nine African countries, was also mentioned by the ministers. Al-Wazir also said that Egypt is building a Cairo-Arqin road corridor inside its borders, which passes through the governorates of Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, Sohag, Qena, Luxor and Aswan, and then then extends to the Egyptian border, passing through the Toshka junctions to Arqin, parallel with Sudan.

He added that the new project is important in achieving land connectivity and increasing trade with African countries, as well as serving Egyptian and African citizens, opening new job opportunities and encouraging comprehensive development. The Sudanese side also requested cooperation with Egypt in maritime transport and the training of maritime cadres at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport.

Al-Wazir said that Egypt will provide its capabilities to train the workers, whether through the Arab Academy, Egyptian ports or the Egyptian Authority for Maritime Safety.

The two sides also agreed to hold a joint meeting to follow up on the progress of other cooperation projects and to discuss the development of the Nile Valley Authority for River Navigation.

Al-Wazir’s team said that the coming period should include urgent plans to develop the authority, train river workers and provide support through specialized technical cadres.