Lebanon lodges protest with UN over Israeli attacks

A unit of the UN peacekeeping force patrols a coastal village in southern Lebanon amid claims that Israel violated Lebanon’s sovereignty. (File/AFP)
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A unit of the UN peacekeeping force patrols a coastal village in southern Lebanon amid claims that Israel violated Lebanon’s sovereignty. (File/AFP)
Israeli F-16 fighter jets fly over Jerusalem during celebrations marking the country’s Independence Day on May 2, 2017. (AFP file photo)
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Israeli F-16 fighter jets fly over Jerusalem during celebrations marking the country’s Independence Day on May 2, 2017. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 23 July 2021

Lebanon lodges protest with UN over Israeli attacks

A unit of the UN peacekeeping force patrols a coastal village in southern Lebanon amid claims that Israel violated Lebanon’s sovereignty. (File/AFP)
  • Hezbollah took control of Al-Qusayr in June 2013 during its intervention in the war in Syria, and it is now the site of security headquarters and training centers for the Iran-affiliated militia

BEIRUT: Lebanon informed the UN Secretariat on Thursday that Israel had violated Lebanese sovereignty by using Lebanese airspace to target Syrian territory on Thursday morning.
Lebanon claims that Israel violated its airspace while launching attacks on military sites in Al-Qusayr in Syria’s Homs governorate believed to belong to Hezbollah.
It says that a missile from an Israeli plane landed in an area of forest near the town of Lehfed, 56 kilometers north of Beirut in the Byblos region.
The people of Lehfed awoke to the sound of a huge explosion that shook buildings and shattered windows.
A missile had landed within hundreds of meters from populated areas, blasting a hole in the ground about 20 meters deep, according to the townspeople.
Initial information suggested that the missile weighed about 250 kg. No casualties were reported.
Residents of the town of Majdal and neighboring villages in the Koura district also heard the explosion and said they saw flashes of light in the area, which they believed to be the result of Syrian air defenses intercepting the Israeli attack. People in Akkar, a northern region that borders Syria, particularly those in Wadi Khaled and Akroum, said they heard missiles being fired at Shayrat Airbase in Homs.
The Syrian News Agency (SANA) reported: “The air defenses of the Syrian army intercepted the missiles and shot down most of them, causing material damage.”

BACKGROUND

Hezbollah took control of Al-Qusayr in June 2013 during its intervention in the war in Syria, and it is now the site of security headquarters and training centers for the Iran-affiliated militia.

Former Byblos lawmaker Fares Souaid commented on the incident in a tweet, saying: “The source of the downed missile was the conflict in the region and against the region. Today, it was Lehfed; where will it be next?”
Hezbollah took control of Al-Qusayr in June 2013 during its intervention in the war in Syria, and it is now the site of security headquarters and training centers for the Iran-affiliated militia. Al-Dabaa Airbase, northeast of Al-Qusayr, has been turned into an air supply base for Hezbollah camps.
In 2016, Hezbollah demonstrated its control over the area by holding a huge military parade.
According to several Syrian refugees in camps in Arsal, a Lebanese town on the border with Syria, residents of Al-Qusayr who opposed the Syrian regime fled to Arsal and adjacent rural areas after Hezbollah took control.
They also said that Hezbollah has ammunition and weapons depots west of Al-Qusayr city.
Since February 2014, no refugees have been allowed to return to the city of Al-Qusayr.  In September 2019, Hezbollah urged residents to return, but specified a number of conditions, most notably that they must “be loyal to Hezbollah.”
Also on Thursday, the Israeli army arrested two people who crossed Lebanon’s southern border into the Galilee region.
Candice Ardell, deputy director of the media office at the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), told Lebanon’s National News Agency: “UNIFIL is aware of reports that the Israeli authorities arrested two people who had crossed from Lebanon to Israel early this morning. We are in contact with the (concerned) parties and are following up on the incident.”


Abu Dhabi crown prince, Blinken discuss regional issues

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed held a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (File/Wikipedia)
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed held a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (File/Wikipedia)
Updated 16 sec ago

Abu Dhabi crown prince, Blinken discuss regional issues

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed held a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (File/Wikipedia)
  • Blinken thanked the UAE for hosting and facilitating the safe transit of US citizens, embassy personnel, and foreign nationals from Afghanistan
  • UAE foreign minister held separate talks with his counterparts from Oman, India and Sri Lanka

LONDON: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday to discuss “important regional matters,” the US State Department said.
Sheikh Mohammed and Blinken “reaffirmed their countries’ strong partnership and discussed ways to broaden and deepen their wide-ranging cooperation,” spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
“Blinken also thanked the crown prince for the UAE’s generous support in hosting and facilitating the safe transit of US citizens, embassy personnel, and foreign nationals from Afghanistan to third countries, and commended the UAE for providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan,” Price added.
Meanwhile, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed held separate talks with his counterparts from Oman, India and Sri Lanka on the sidelines of the two-day 5th Indian Ocean Conference, which kicked off on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.
During the meetings, Sheikh Abdullah discussed strategic relations and ways to enhance prospects for joint cooperation in all fields, as well as the latest regional and international developments.
Sheikh Abdullah welcomed Oman’s Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Al-Busaidi, and stressed the depth of the relations between the UAE and the sultanate.
India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar praised the strong friendship between the UAE and his country, and their strategic partnership which is witnessing continuous growth and development.
Sheikh Abdullah also welcomed Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Gamini Lakshman Pierce to Abu Dhabi and the two sides discussed bilateral relations and ways to support them in various fields, including tourism.


Jordan’s FM, US climate envoy discuss environmental protection

Jordan’s FM, US climate envoy discuss environmental protection
Updated 35 min 47 sec ago

Jordan’s FM, US climate envoy discuss environmental protection

Jordan’s FM, US climate envoy discuss environmental protection
  • Safadi and Kerry stressed the importance of the strategic partnership between Jordan and the US

LONDON: Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi held talks with US special envoy for climate, John Kerry, on Sunday to discuss environmental protection and confronting climate change.
“Safadi and Kerry stressed the importance of the strategic partnership between the kingdom and the US, and reviewed ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries,” Jordanian state news agency Petra reported.
Safadi praised the aid provided by the US to the Kingdom and its support for economic development, stressing the importance of its leading role in efforts to resolving regional crises and achieve peace and stability.
Kerry said that Jordan was a strong and essential ally of the US, and that his country appreciated the key role and efforts led by King Abdullah II to overcome regional challenges and achieve security, stability and peace.
Kerry reiterated Washington’s support for Jordan, including in the areas of environmental protection, facing the challenges of climate change, and developing clean energy and water sources.
“This engagement with government counterparts aims to accelerate global climate action following the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November,” the US State Department said in a statement.
It added that Kerry would discuss how the region could collaborate to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.


Aboul Gheit: Iran seeks to control Straits of Hormuz and Bab Al-Mandab

Aboul Gheit: Iran seeks to control Straits of Hormuz and Bab Al-Mandab
Updated 05 December 2021

Aboul Gheit: Iran seeks to control Straits of Hormuz and Bab Al-Mandab

Aboul Gheit: Iran seeks to control Straits of Hormuz and Bab Al-Mandab
  • Aboul Gheit said that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would trigger an arms race in the region

CAIRO: The Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Ahmed Aboul Gheit has said that Iran aims to extend its control over the Straits of Hormuz and Bab Al-Mandab, either directly or through militias it funds.

During his participation in the seventh Rome-Mediterranean Dialogue, held in the Italian capital with the participation of senior officials, experts and economists from countries bordering the shores of the Mediterranean, he pointed to attacks carried out by Iran in the summer of 2019, as well as to the continuing threat posed by the Houthis to navigation in the Red Sea.

The secretary-general added that the stability of navigation in these strategic straits, especially in the transportation of petroleum products, represented a fundamental backbone of the global economy, and that maintaining freedom of navigation without threat was a global priority and not only for the Arab countries bordering it.

He said that Iran’s behavior in the region, and its apparent tendency to dominate and interfere with Arab countries, was behind the difficulty in establishing a security system in the Gulf based on cooperation and the common welfare of the people.

He said that several initiatives had been put forward on this, but the main problem remained a lack of confidence due to Iranian policies that represented a threat to its neighbors.

Aboul Gheit said that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would trigger an arms race in the region. He hoped negotiations would succeed in dissuading Iran from achieving this goal to avoid a deterioration in the current security situation.

He said it was difficult to address the Iranian nuclear program without acknowledging that there was already a nuclear power in the region in Israel, especially in light of its insistence on destroying the two-state solution and wasting opportunities for its implementation.


Explosions heard near Syria-Iraq border, rebels deny blasts inside US base

Explosions heard near Syria-Iraq border, rebels deny blasts inside US base
Updated 05 December 2021

Explosions heard near Syria-Iraq border, rebels deny blasts inside US base

Explosions heard near Syria-Iraq border, rebels deny blasts inside US base
  • US-backed rebel group Maghawir Al-Thawra say the blasts were part of joint ground and air exercises that began earlier this week
  • The garrison was first set up when Daesh fighters controlled eastern Syria bordering Iraq

DUBAI/AMMAN: Syrian state television reported on Sunday that multiple explosions had been heard inside a US base in the Al-Tanf region near the Iraqi border.
The report was denied, however, by a commander in the US-backed rebel group Maghawir Al-Thawra, whose several hundred fighters work with US troops at the Tanf base, who said the blasts were part of joint ground and air exercises that began earlier this week and did not come from inside the base.
The garrison is located in a strategic area near Syria’s Tanf border crossing with Iraq at the crossroad of a main Baghdad-Damascus highway, Tehran’s main arms supply route by land to Syria and Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah militia.
Several drones attacked the outskirts of the base last October but there were no American casualties, according to US officials.
While it is not common for attacks on the US troops at the outpost, Iranian-backed forces have frequently attacked American troops with drones and rockets in eastern Syria and Iraq. .
Russia and the Syrian government have repeatedly called on Washington to pull its troops from the Tanf base, where it has declared a 55 km (35 mile)-radius “deconfliction zone.”
The garrison was first set up when Daesh fighters controlled eastern Syria bordering Iraq, but since the militants were driven out Tanf has assumed a role as part of a US strategy to contain Iran’s military build-up in eastern Syria.


Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Vatican meeting to discuss Document on Human Fraternity

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Vatican meeting to discuss Document on Human Fraternity
Updated 05 December 2021

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Vatican meeting to discuss Document on Human Fraternity

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Vatican meeting to discuss Document on Human Fraternity
  • The two discussed their vision of what the relationship between followers of religions should be
  • Last month, Sheikh Al-Tayeb met Pope Francis on the sidelines of the Religious Leaders on Climate Change summit

Cairo: Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, held a meeting in the Vatican with Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, to discuss how to implement the provisions of the Document on Human fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.

This joint statement, which was signed by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Al-Tayeb on Feb. 4, 2019, in Abu Dhabi, includes various proposed solutions from a religious standpoint to the current problems facing the world.

During the meeting Sheikh Al-Tayeb said that “the relationship of Al-Azhar and the Vatican remains an effective and real model for spreading tolerance and peace and combating extremism, hatred, wars and conflicts, and that the path of peace and dialogue is a difficult path, but the path is moving and making efforts,” adding that the world is in urgent need of the values of brotherhood, peaceful coexistence and respect for the other.

He stressed that religious leaders and scholars have a religious and societal duty to confront negative phenomena, especially with regard to moral aspects.

The two discussed their vision of what the relationship between followers of religions should be, and the role that religions should play in our contemporary world. The document seeks to activate dialogue about coexistence among human beings.

Ayuso said that the Grand Imam and His Holiness Pope Francis had the courage to fight battles for the good of humanity, and that the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity was not an easy thing.

But their persistence and sincerity helped to break barriers and repair broken bridges between some Muslims and Christians, and continued the dialogue between Al-Azhar and the Vatican after a rupture of nearly six years. They said they had begun to reap the fruits of this document in a rapprochement not only at the level of official institutions and institutes, but also between individuals among the wider masses.

Ayuso spoke about the great efforts of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity that emerged from the document, noting that this committee includes religious and cultural leaders from different ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds around the world.

He said that even in their diversity the members of the committee represent a group of friends loyal to their humanity, united by their concern to work for mankind and end its suffering. They seek to replace hatred with love and intolerance with dialogue, especially between young people, to ensure healthy relations and a better future for coming generations.

Last month, Sheikh Al-Tayeb met Pope Francis on the sidelines of the Religious Leaders on Climate Change summit, where they said that returning to the teachings of religions is the way to save the world from extremism and division.