Lebanon’s security forces pursuing smugglers, says interior minister

Lebanon’s security forces pursuing smugglers, says interior minister
Minister Fahmy inspects the sites from a Lebanese army watchtower in the northern Bekaa Valley. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 03 May 2021

Lebanon’s security forces pursuing smugglers, says interior minister

Lebanon’s security forces pursuing smugglers, says interior minister
  • Saudi Arabia has banned import of Lebanese agricultural products 

BEIRUT: Lebanese Caretaker Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmy told Arab News that he could not deny or confirm the involvement of Hezbollah in the smuggling of the Captagon shipment to Saudi Arabia, an operation thwarted by the Saudi authorities in April.
Fahmy stressed that “investigations are underway, and their contents cannot be disclosed until now, fearing for the integrity of the investigation. Upon completion of all data and the initial investigation, we will speak. We hope that we will get the results soon.”
The minister of interior inspected on Sunday the illegal crossing points on the borders with Syria, starting from the Al-Fawj border center in Shedra, Akkar district (the far north of Lebanon) to the town of Ras Baalbek (eastern Lebanon).
He listened to a briefing from the regiment commander, Col. Milad Saliba, about the military situation, the conditions of the legal crossing points, and the illegal routes at the Lebanese-Syrian borders, through which smuggling operations take place in the region.
Fahmy said that “cross-border smuggling is a chronic problem that goes back to before the year 1975, and no country can control its borders 100 percent.”
He said: “But we will activate border controls based on the directives of President Michel Aoun and the orders of the Supreme Defense Council, and anyone responsible for any act of corruption or smuggling will be held accountable.”
The minister’s inspection tour comes after Saudi Arabia decided on April 23 to ban the import and transit of Lebanese fruits and vegetables due to an increase in drug smuggling operations and after millions of narcotic pills (Captagon) were seized inside the pomegranate fruits.
Fahmy traveled by a military helicopter to the Bekaa region to inspect the crossings and the sites where smuggling operations are active. He met with officers from the second border regiment command and listened from the regiment commander, Col. Mohammed Dahboul, to a detailed briefing about the security and military realities and the situation on the crossings.
He concluded his tour by inspecting the army’s control tower in the Mastaba area in the outskirts of El-Qaa-Hermel.
In 2019, Lebanon estimated the number of illegal crossings on all its borders with Syria as 12. These illegal crossings have seen an increase in activity during the last two years due to the chaos and illegal weapons in the environment that supports it, especially in the northern Bekaa, where Hezbollah enjoy the freedom of movement and entry to Syrian territory through their own crossings.
Fahmy said: “All these points are being monitored and are being addressed.”
Smuggling has become active in both directions in light of the decline in the economic situation in the two countries. Minister Fahmy said: “In the past, smuggling used to take place from Syria toward Lebanon, but today, it is reversed, and the security forces are pursuing smugglers who devise new methods every day.”
A security source, however, told Arab News: “Smugglers from the Lebanese side benefited from official Lebanese basic items subsidies, especially fuel, medicine, and flour, and have been smuggling them into Syria to make a profit due to the price difference. Smugglers also use these crossings to bring cars stolen from Lebanon to Syrian territory.
Lebanon "was used as a platform for smuggling abroad. Food, agricultural products, eggs, dairy products, cheese, and medicine pass through these illegal crossings into Lebanon, and some of them are Iranian-made, in addition to smuggling humans.”
The source said: “Controlling these crossings is difficult. As soon as we discover a crossing, the smugglers will be guided to another crossing in the barren and harsh areas. They know these areas very well because they are native residents, or they facilitate the work of smugglers.”
Although Hezbollah declares that it has nothing to do with drug dealing, they turn a blind eye to prominent dealers in the northern Bekaa.


US imposes fresh Syria-related sanctions: Treasury

US imposes fresh Syria-related sanctions: Treasury
Updated 47 min 34 sec ago

US imposes fresh Syria-related sanctions: Treasury

US imposes fresh Syria-related sanctions: Treasury

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury Department on Wednesday imposed fresh Syria-related sanctions on several individuals and entities, according to the Treasury’s website, increasing pressure on President Bashar Assad’s government.
The United States blacklisted eight individuals and 10 entities in separate counterterrorism and Syria-related actions taken on Wednesday, including branches of the Syrian general and military intelligence, according to the website.


Schools in Egypt flourishing with Tokkatsu system

Schools in Egypt flourishing with Tokkatsu system
Updated 28 July 2021

Schools in Egypt flourishing with Tokkatsu system

Schools in Egypt flourishing with Tokkatsu system
  • Japanese system develops all the skills of the student, focusing on creativity and thinking rather than conservation and indoctrination
  • Egyptian-Japanese schools in Egypt are preparing for the new academic year, which begins in October

CAIRO: The Japanese education system, Tokkatsu, continues to flourish in Egypt as the country had 48 schools that used the system during the last academic school year. 

These Egyptian-Japanese schools teach Egyptian curriculum in addition to the Japanese Tokkatsu educational system, which develops all the skills of the student, focusing on creativity and thinking rather than conservation and indoctrination.

Safwat Al-Jamai, an educationist, told Arab News the Tokkatsu method relies on activities that help the students with daily life, self-development, health, safety, and creativity.

“It encourages students to help with the management and planning of the activities, and there are cultural exchange programs for different age groups within the school,” Al-Jamai said.

“It also entails activities that develop a sense of belonging and solidarity toward others and working for the public interest through practical activities carried out by students."

These activities, according to Al-Jamai, transform the role of the teacher into that of a facilitator. They no longer merely teach facts and concepts leading students to a right-or-wrong answer, but rather facilitate social and emotional learning for the student through trial and error in an individual or group environment.

The activities also enable the development of the personal and social skills needed when students enter the real world, and it requires them to share tasks, set rules, experience leadership as well as follow rules and adhere to order.

Egyptian-Japanese schools in Egypt are preparing for the new academic year, which begins in October. One of them is in Sharm El-Sheikh, which was inaugurated by the Egyptian Minister of Education, Tariq Shawky, and the Governor of South Sinai, Maj. Gen. Khaled Fouda, last March.

The Egyptian-Japanese School in Sharm El-Sheikh is located near King Salman University and consists of 28 classrooms from kindergarten to secondary school. It is the second such school in the governorate after another that was established in Tur Sinai in October 2018.

The Egyptian-Japanese School finished conducting personal interviews for students initially accepted to the school for the academic year 2021-2022. Prospective students applied to enroll in the school through the school's website, under the supervision of the Egyptian-Japanese Schools Administration Unit at the Ministry of Education.

They canceled paper submissions due to coronavirus (COVID-19) safety precautions. 

The admission process for students included a personal interview with parents, submission of supporting documents with the application, a math test, and a cognitive skills test for the child. Personal interviews were also conducted for students applying for kindergarten.

Mahmoud Abdel-Aal, director of the Egyptian-Japanese School, said interview results will be announced after they are completed in all schools nationwide.


Lebanon's Mikati hopes to form government soon

Lebanon's Mikati hopes to form government soon
Updated 28 July 2021

Lebanon's Mikati hopes to form government soon

Lebanon's Mikati hopes to form government soon
  • Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati said he hoped to form a government in the "near future"

BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati said on Wednesday that he hoped to form a government shortly after securing the approval of President Michel Aoun for most of his nominees.
Mikati, a businessman, is the third potential prime minister to be nominated since Hassan Diab's government resigned after an explosion in Beirut's port area on Aug. 4 last year that killed more than 200 people and flattened large areas of the city. He spoke to reporters after meeting Aoun.
Diab's government has stayed on in a caretaker capacity, but Lebanon's currency has collapsed, jobs have vanished and banks have frozen accounts in the country's worst crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.
"I gave my proposals, President Aoun approved most of them and he made some remarks which are acceptable; God willing ... we will be able to form a government soon," Mikati said.
Mikati has been prime minister twice before and, unlike many Lebanese leaders, does not represent a political bloc or hail from a dynasty.
Like the previous nominee, Saad Al-Hariri, he must navigate the sectarian, power-sharing structure and secure agreement on a cabinet equipped to address the financial meltdown in Lebanon, one of the world's most heavily indebted states. 


UAE starts granting golden visas to doctors

UAE starts granting golden visas to doctors
Updated 28 July 2021

UAE starts granting golden visas to doctors

UAE starts granting golden visas to doctors
  • All doctors licensed by the UAE health regulatory bodies can apply for the golden visa between July 2021 to September 2022

DUBAI: The UAE has started to grant golden visas to doctors in what the government described as “recognition of their efforts and sacrifices and being the frontline heroes.”

The golden visa will grant doctors and their families a 10-year residency, ensuring stability in their jobs and livelihood in the UAE as well as the development of the health care sector.

“This initiative promotes a motivational work environment and high-quality living standards by attracting and retaining the top talents in the medical field, and providing opportunities for medical staff to work and reside in the UAE,” a report from state news agency WAM said.

All doctors licensed by the UAE health regulatory bodies can apply for the golden visa between July 2021 to September 2022 online through smartservices.ica.gov.ae.

Dubai-licensed doctors meanwhile may apply via smart.gdrfad.gov.ae.

Seven offices across the Emirates affiliated with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship will accept applications from doctors who wish to apply for the golden visa personally.


Daesh attack kills seven Syrian troops: Monitor

Daesh attack kills seven Syrian troops: Monitor
Updated 28 July 2021

Daesh attack kills seven Syrian troops: Monitor

Daesh attack kills seven Syrian troops: Monitor

BERLIN: Daesh group militants killed at least seven soldiers and militiamen in eastern Syria on Wednesday, the latest in a series of deadly attacks, a Britain-based war monitor said.
Several government positions came under attack in a desert area of Deir Ezzor province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Several troops were also wounded, some of them critically, while five militants were also killed.
A Kurdish-led offensive overran the last patch of Daesh-held territory in Syria in March 2019 but sleeper cells continue to launch attacks in the vast desert that stretches from central Syria east to the Iraqi border.