Lebanon president requests contact with US Embassy over sanctions on ex-ministers

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun requested the country’s caretaker foreign minister make contact with the US to understand the circumstances behind the US sanctions. (File/AFP)
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Updated 10 September 2020

Lebanon president requests contact with US Embassy over sanctions on ex-ministers

  • Aoun also requested contact with the Lebanese embassy in Washington

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun has asked his interim foreign minister to contact the US embassy about the imposition of sanctions on two of the country’s former ministers, the presidency media office said on Wednesday.
Aoun also requested contact be made with the Lebanese embassy in Washington “in order to understand the circumstances” behind the decision to place the politicians, allied with the Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah, on its sanctions list.
The US Treasury on Tuesday announced it was imposing sanctions on former finance minister and top Amal official Ali Hassan Khalil and former public works and transportation minister Youssef Fenianos, a senior member of the Christian Marada Movement.
The treasury department said they “provided material support to Hezbollah and engaged in corruption.” The move was Washington strongest warning against Hezbollah’s allies.
Khalil is currently a member of the Lebanese Parliament and Hezbollah and its allies control majority seats in parliament. 
The Shiite Amal group is headed by Lebanon’s longtime Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and the Marada Movement is an organization allied with Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government. 
The sanctions came as Lebanon grapples with an unprecedented economic and financial crisis and deals with the aftermath of a devastating explosion at Beirut’s port that killed more than 190, wounded 6,500 and caused damage worth billions of dollars.
The sanctions also came as prime minister-designate Mustapha Adib works to form a new Cabinet to replace the one that resigned on Aug. 10, six days after nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate detonated in Beirut. The disaster fueled outrage against a ruling class that has run the country for decades amid widespread corruption and mismanagement.
Some analysts in Lebanon saw the sanctions as a message to Hezbollah’s allies to review their links with the Iran-backed group, especially by targeting a Christian ally for the first time.
“Fenianos and Ali Hassan Khalil are two central figures in the coalition that is led by Hezbollah,” said Ali Hamadeh, a political writer at An-Nahar newspaper who is often critical of the Iran-backed group.
He added that by sanctioning Fenianos, the US is sending a message to Frangieh, the Marada chief, who is a presidential hopeful. Hamadeh said Hezbollah’s non-Shiite allies will now have to “think seriously about the repercussions of their relations with Hezbollah.”
Amal denounced the US sanctions against one of its senior members in a statement on Wednesday, saying they infringe on Lebanon’s sovereignty and will not succeed in extracting any concessions.
(With Reuters and AP)

Egyptian ministry of irrigation — torrent season begins

A general view of the High Dam in Aswan, Egypt February 19, 2020. (REUTERS
Updated 11 sec ago

Egyptian ministry of irrigation — torrent season begins

  • Preliminary indications of the flood showed that it is higher than average and that the incoming waters during August and September are so far higher than those of last year

CAIRO: Egypt’s flood season began in August and will continue for three months — and the torrent season is about to begin — Mohamed El-Sebaei, spokesman for the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, has confirmed.

The Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation continues to prepare for the torrent season and to deal with flooding, which has caused the levels of the Nile to rise significantly over the past few days.

El-Sebaei said the ministry is monitoring the quantities of water that reach Egypt and accumulate in front of the High Dam on a daily basis, pointing out that the Minister of Irrigation, Mohamed Abdel-Ati, has been in Aswan since yesterday to inspect the water facilities of the High Dam.

He said that the torrential season is about to start in the period between autumn and winter, and that the ministry is following up with all torrent, canal and drain networks to ensure that they are ready to receive any volume of water and to preserve private and public property.

The ministry is preparing to cope with the torrents and rains expected to occur during autumn and winter by preparing Lake Nasser, located behind the High Dam, which is one of the most important strategic points in containing the quantities of water coming from the Ethiopian plateau.

The Egyptian River Revenue Regulatory Committee, in its meeting headed by Abdel-Ati, reviewed the situation of the Nile flood, the procedures for monitoring, analyzing and evaluating its condition, and the quantities of water expected to arrive until the end of the current water year 2021-2022.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Irrigation, the rates of rain in the sources of the Nile is expected to start decreasing by the end of September.

Preliminary indications of the flood showed that it is higher than average and that the incoming waters during August and September are so far higher than those of last year. Is still too early to make a final judgment on the type and size of this year’s flood.

Eman El-Sayed, head of the planning sector and head of the forecast center at the Ministry of Irrigation, said the center works to calculate the rates of rain that fall on the upper Nile River countries until it reaches the country on a daily basis. She explained that the latest technology is used to take satellite images and download mathematical models to determine the amount of rain falling and when it will fall.

El-Sayed added that the ministry holds two meetings every week to discuss the developments of the flood season, which have been confirmed more than once to be very high — once during the meeting of the River Revenue Regulatory Committee and the other during the Leadership Committee meeting.

She pointed to the development of three scenarios to deal with a flood. If it comes at a power 10 percent stronger than expected, it will be water drainage as usual. If it comes 50 percent stronger than expected, the excess will be dealt with through drains and waterways and the Toshka spillway will open. If it is stronger than that, the country will declare a state of emergency, she said.