Christian parties demand restoration of Lebanon’s sovereignty from Hezbollah

Christian parties demand restoration of Lebanon’s sovereignty from Hezbollah
Moawad called for “the formation of a clear, capable and united opposition to face the mafia and the militia.” (File/AFP)
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Updated 28 April 2021

Christian parties demand restoration of Lebanon’s sovereignty from Hezbollah

Christian parties demand restoration of Lebanon’s sovereignty from Hezbollah
  • “The Lebanese are paying the price of the coexistence between the state and the statelet,” Moawad said
  • He demanded that Hezbollah “leave us alone”

BEIRUT: Christian parties in Lebanon called for the collective resignation of Parliament on Wednesday, accusing Hezbollah of dominating the country.
The head of the Independence Movement, Michel Moawad, a former MP and son of former President Rene Moawad, said at a press conference: “With each passing day, we are more convinced that we are dealing with a criminal, corrupt and conspiratorial authority.
“The Lebanese are paying the price of the coexistence between the state and the statelet,” he added, demanding Hezbollah “leave us alone.”
Moawad, who resigned from Parliament following the Beirut Port explosion on Aug. 4, noted that “retaking the state from the mafia and the militia happens through the restoration of sovereignty over all our borders and regaining control over the decision making.
“What interest do we have in belonging to one axis against the other? What interest do we have in being hostile toward countries that do not attack us? What interest do we have in being hostile toward Arabs or the international community and fighting in Yemen and elsewhere? What interest do we have in exporting rockets, militias and drugs? How do we build a productive economy? How do we protect Lebanese nationals abroad?”
He added: “Sovereignty means enforcing the Lebanese state’s authority, using its own capabilities, over the entirety of the territory. This means that there should not be guarded areas, illegal weapons inside or outside of refugee camps, weapon warehouses, rockets, camps to train Houthis and non-Houthis and Captagon factories.” 
Moawad called for “the formation of a clear, capable and united opposition to face the mafia and the militia and focus on retaking the state.”
After meeting Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi, the parliamentary bloc of the Lebanese Forces’ MPs renewed their calls for the holding of early parliamentary elections.
Sethrida Geagea MP expressed her support for Al-Rahi’s call for neutrality. “Our country is a small one located in a troubled region. It was not wise to place it in the middle of the region’s conflicts, leading to it being completely isolated from its Arab surroundings and its international friends.
“There is no hope from any government that the ruling majority forms because, even if formed, it will be an exact replica of the ones that came before, which means that true reforms are not an option with this majority. The solution resides in reproducing the ruling class in order to put an end to this parliamentary majority’s hegemony over the country following the disastrous situation they lead us to. This can be done through the only practical step available, which is the holding of early parliamentary elections.”
The Kataeb Party’s political office stressed that “the prevailing state of chaos confirms the blatant collusion between the mafia and the militia, which is aimed at turning Lebanon into a failed state, dragging it into agendas that serve foreign interests at the expense of the country’s identity and historic role, and isolating it from countries that can help it overcome the current crisis in order to further stifle it.
“The situation will not change as long as Lebanon has a parliament that has surrendered to Hezbollah’s will, is unable to prevent violations and has lost its national legitimacy.”
Camille Chamoun, new head of the National Liberal Party, added “Lebanon is in trouble.”
Arab News asked the former opposition MP Fares Saeed if the steps being taken by Christian political parties are an attempt to establish a new Lebanese Front in the face of the authorities and Hezbollah, which would be similar to the Lebanese Front that was established during the civil war.
“The steps taken by these parties are natural. However, I think that the main goal should be to put an end to the Iranian occupation of Lebanon, and anything else would be less than what is required,” Saeed answered.
“What is required is for Hezbollah to hand over its weapons in line with the constitution and the resolutions of international legitimacy. This solution is not feasible currently, which is why Al-Rahi called for an international conference to be held to ensure Lebanon’s neutrality. This is a serious proposition that could lead us to the desired solution. Late Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir demanded the departure of the Syrian forces that were occupying Lebanon in 2000. This demand was fulfilled in 2005,” he added.
Regarding the Free Patriotic Movement’s position in light of the Christian parties’ call to restore Lebanon’s sovereignty away from Hezbollah, Saeed said there is no doubt that Hezbollah still has a lot of supporters among the Christians due to the alliance in place. “If this alliance is broken, the political scene could change.”


Tensions mount on Gaza border with Israel

Tensions mount on Gaza border with Israel
Updated 1 min 9 sec ago

Tensions mount on Gaza border with Israel

Tensions mount on Gaza border with Israel
  • A number of rockets fired from Gaza toward Israeli towns on Sunday evening and Monday morning were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system
  • The Israeli army responded to the attacks by bombing sites belonging to Palestinian factions in Gaza

GAZA CITY: Tensions on the Gaza Strip border with Israel on Monday continued to mount following recent violent confrontations at Al-Aqsa Mosque and in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem.

A number of rockets fired from Gaza toward Israeli towns on Sunday evening and Monday morning were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system and no injuries were reported. Incendiary balloons were also launched toward Israel.

The Israeli army responded to the attacks by bombing sites belonging to Palestinian factions in Gaza.

Night demonstrations also resumed along the border in support of several Palestinian families threatened with eviction from their homes in Jerusalem and as part of the so-called March of Return protests that have gone on for two years.

Mohammed Deif, commander-in-chief of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas in Gaza, recently warned that the resistance would “not stand idly by” and that Israel would “pay a dear price” if it continued with its actions against Palestinians.

He said the brigades’ leadership was “watching what is happening (in Sheikh Jarrah) closely” while saluting “our steadfast people in occupied Jerusalem.”

Deif has been on Israel’s wanted list for more than two decades and has been accused of being behind numerous military operations against the country. He has survived several assassination attempts, the most recent being during the 2014 Gaza war.

Jerusalem has recently witnessed violent clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protestors over eviction plans to give Palestinian homes in the city suburb to Jewish settlers.

In East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, Palestinians feel an increasing threat from settlers who have sought to expand the Jewish presence there by buying properties, constructing new buildings, and through court-ordered evictions.

Meanwhile, Israel has suspended Palestinian fishing rights off Gaza over the incendiary balloon attacks which it blamed on Hamas.

A statement on Sunday issued by the coordinator of the Israeli government’s activities in the Palestinian Territories, said: “It has been decided to close the fishing distance in the Gaza Strip, and the decision will take effect immediately, and will continue until further notice.”

On Monday, the Israelis also announced the complete closure of the Erez border crossing. Israeli Army Radio said: “Hamas in Gaza is making an extensive effort to ignite the situation. On the other hand, we are ready on all fronts. I advise them not to give us a try.”

Speaking at a recent Cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “I tell the terrorist organizations that Israel will respond forcefully to any rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.”

Mustafa Ibrahim, a columnist, told Arab News that the current escalation in tensions was calculated both by Hamas and Israel.

He said: “At this stage, it seems that Hamas is well aware that the conditions are not conducive to escalating toward a military confrontation with Gaza. Therefore, the rockets fired from Gaza have a short range ... and also the current Israeli response to them does not indicate that it wants to expand the confrontation.

“The somewhat positive reactions from the international community toward Jerusalem seem to have curbed the harsh reaction by the Palestinian factions in Gaza.

“Any developments in Jerusalem and the West Bank may always push Gaza into a military confrontation that may be limited and may be wide. But it seems that we have not reached a broad confrontation this time,” he added.


UN says 5 migrants downed; over 700 intercepted off Libya

UN says 5 migrants downed; over 700 intercepted off Libya
Updated 10 May 2021

UN says 5 migrants downed; over 700 intercepted off Libya

UN says 5 migrants downed; over 700 intercepted off Libya

CAIRO: At least five people, including a woman and a child, drowned when a boat carrying at least 45 Europe-bound migrants capsized off Libya, a UN migration official said on Monday. The wreck was the latest disaster in the Mediterranean Sea involving migrants seeking a better life in Europe.
Safa Msehli, a spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration, said the wreck took place on Sunday. She said fishermen rescued 40 migrants and returned them to the shore.
Msehli said the boat was among nine others carrying more than 700 migrants intercepted Sunday by the Libyan coast guard off the coast of the North African country.
The intercepted migrants were taken to overcrowded detention centers, where the UN migration agency fears more threats to their lives and violations of their rights, she said.
There has been a spike in crossings and attempted crossings from Libya in recent weeks, with smugglers taking advantage of the calm sea and warm weather.
Federico Soda, head of IOM in Libya, said he was “extremely concerned” about the spike in migrant departure from Libya and “the continuous loss of life.”
“The situation cannot be ignored, and states must live up to their responsibilities and redeploy search and rescue vessels,” he tweeted.
Libya has in recent years emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East. The oil-rich country plunged into chaos following a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Earlier this month, at least 11 Europe-bound migrants drowned when a rubber dinghy carrying two dozen people capsized off Libya. That followed another tragedy in April where at least 130 migrants were presumed dead, in one of the deadliest maritime tragedies in years along the busy route.
Around 7,000 Europe-bound migrants were intercepted and returned to Libya so far this year, according to the IOM’s tally.
Smugglers often pack desperate families into ill-equipped rubber boats that stall and founder along the perilous Central Mediterranean route. Over the last several years, hundreds of thousands of migrants have reached Europe either on their own or after being rescued at sea.
Thousands have drowned along the way. Others were intercepted and returned to Libya to be left at the mercy of armed groups or confined in squalid detention centers that lack adequate food and water, according to rights groups.


UAE to bar travel from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka from Wednesday

UAE to bar travel from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka from Wednesday
Updated 10 May 2021

UAE to bar travel from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka from Wednesday

UAE to bar travel from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka from Wednesday
  • Part of measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates will bar entry for travelers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka starting Wednesday, as part of measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority said on its website on Monday.

“Flights between the four countries will continue to allow the transport of passengers from the UAE to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka,” it said.

The UAE announced last month a ban on entry from India to guard against the spread of the highly contagious Indian variant of the coronavirus.


Dubai Police arrest one of UK’s most-wanted fugitives

Dubai Police arrest one of UK’s most-wanted fugitives
Updated 10 May 2021

Dubai Police arrest one of UK’s most-wanted fugitives

Dubai Police arrest one of UK’s most-wanted fugitives
  • Michael Paul Moogan has avoided apprehension by using false identities

DUBAI: Dubai Police have arrested one of the UK’s most wanted fugitives after eight years on the run, after Interpol issued a Red Notice.

Michael Paul Moogan, 35, from Liverpool in the UK, had been on the National Crime Agency-UK wanted list for his alleged role in a large-scale international drug trafficking plot to import drugs from Latin America to Europe, state news agency WAM reported.

Moogan had evaded arrest by using false identities after escaping a police raid on a café in the Netherlands, believed to be a front for a drug cartel.

It is claimed that Café de Ketel in Rotterdam, Netherlands was being used for meetings between drug traffickers and cartels and was central to a plot to bring hundreds of kilos of cocaine into the UK every week, WAM reported.

British officials described the café as “a business not open to the public that could only be entered via a security system,” a separate report from British broadcaster the BBC noted.

Moogan will be flown back to the UK where he is due to face trial, the broadcaster added.

UK anti-crime officials have praised the cooperation between Dubai Police and Interpol, which resulted to Moogan’s arrest.

“We are extremely grateful to those partners for their assistance in ensuring Moogan now faces justice and particularly thank the Dubai Police for their efforts to track him down. His extradition from the UAE is being requested,” Nikki Holland, NCA Director of Investigation said.

Dubai Police managed to identify the suspect although he had used a different name and nationality to enter the country and was immediately placed under surveillance prior to his arrest.

Police authorities have earlier worked on the extradition of 52 internationally-wanted people involved in serious crimes such as terrorism, organized crime, money laundering, murder and drugs.


Kuwait Oil reports ‘limited fire’ at Burgan field

Kuwait Oil reports ‘limited fire’ at Burgan field
Updated 10 May 2021

Kuwait Oil reports ‘limited fire’ at Burgan field

Kuwait Oil reports ‘limited fire’ at Burgan field
  • Production was not impacted

DUBAI: A “limited fire” broke out on Monday at the Kuwait Oil Co’s Greater Burgan field, injuring two workers but with no impact on production, the state news agency KUNA reported, citing a company statement.
The fire was quickly brought under control, it said.
Greater Burgan is Kuwait’s biggest and one of the world’s largest producing fields, according to Wood Mackenzie.