Hezbollah under fire as Lebanese political, economic crises continue 

Hezbollah under fire as Lebanese political, economic crises continue 
A UN patrol drives past a Hezbollah flag on the Lebanese side of the Israel-Lebanon border. (AP Photo)
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Updated 09 August 2021

Hezbollah under fire as Lebanese political, economic crises continue 

Hezbollah under fire as Lebanese political, economic crises continue 
  • Hezbollah’s stance on importing medicine and fuel from Iran is ‘propaganda,’ says former MP Ahmed Fatfat 
  • Recent performance of Hezbollah and its secretary-general rapped amid political and economic crisis

BEIRUT: Hezbollah drew fresh criticism on Monday from the streets and the political class over the crisis in Lebanon. 

Angry residents blocked several roads in protest against the economic crisis. As the Lebanese pound’s value plummets, the country is also experiencing a major medicines shortage.

The process of forming a government headed by Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati is slowly coming to a stalemate. 

Meanwhile, Hezbollah launched a broadside against the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, accusing him of taking stances that are no different than Israel’s.

In his Sunday sermon, Al-Rai stressed that “the decision of war or peace should be in the hands of the state exclusively,” calling for “a return to the 1949 Armistice Agreements and Lebanon’s neutrality.”

Hezbollah’s campaign against Al-Rai elicited counter-reactions from various political figures and numerous Christian religious and political entities.

Druze leader Walid Jumblatt tweeted on Monday: “What crime did Al-Rai commit when he mentioned the armistice agreement? It seems that it is forbidden to discuss anything outside of the opposition group’s discourse,” sarcastically adding: “A democratic atmosphere par excellence.”

Resigned MP Marwan Hamade accused Hezbollah of igniting tension on the southern border with Israel and slammed the group for its attack on the judicial investigator in the Beirut port explosion crime Judge Tarek Bitar.

Hamade addressed Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah: “Your graciousness has set us back 50 years.

“The balance of deterrence advocated by Hezbollah is a pretext for controlling Lebanon.”

Saydet Al-Jabal Gathering warned that “if this campaign (against Al-Rai) does not stop immediately, we will take action in several cities.”

Former MP Ahmed Fatfat told Arab News: “The Lebanese state is collapsing because there is a parallel state — the state of Hezbollah. It seems that we are now experiencing the Iraqi scenario, and even more.

“Hezbollah suggests that it has the ability to replace the state, but in fact, it has so far failed to do so. Its entourage suffers like all the Lebanese, due to Hezbollah’s practices that destroyed the state.”

He added: “Iran will not allow the formation of the government in Lebanon as long as the Iranian-US negotiations are ongoing.

“Nasrallah has, for the first time, admitted that there is no consensus over the resistance in Lebanon.

“This means that Hezbollah has lost supporters and stature, and its intimidation policy no longer works on people.

“The biggest evidence is that the families of the Beirut port victims carried a banner that read Iran Out on Aug. 4. People have other priorities now.”

Fatfat said that Hezbollah’s stances regarding medicine and fuel imports from Iran are mere propaganda.

“The Iranians did it once in Venezuela, but they took gold in exchange. Do they want to get their hands on the gold that is in the Lebanese Central Bank?”

Elsewhere, caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan — affiliated with Hezbollah — criticized “financial and political decision-makers.”

Hassan said in an interview on Sunday: “The Central Bank and drug importing companies are responsible for exposing the health system in Lebanon to grave danger.”

Hassan defended medicine imports from Iran.

“The Central Bank and the importing companies are responsible for every missing medicine,” said the minister.

“A decision to urgently import and register missing medicines has been taken; any medicine that meets the conditions and standards will be imported.”

Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah also tried to pressure the Central Bank on Monday, saying that the latter “is insisting on controlling the decision to lift subsidies on oil derivatives and medicines.”

Fadlallah said Hezbollah “is exerting efforts to expedite the import of fuel from Iran.”

Sidon, the third major Lebanese coastal city after Beirut and Tripoli, sank into complete darkness on Monday, amid demands to secure diesel fuel as soon as possible.

Lebanese cities continue to fall into darkness as private generator owners announce that they are running out of fuel in light of strict rationing by the Electricite du Liban.

The Lebanese are being supplied with an average of one hour a day of fuel, as the Central Bank has used up most of the foreign currency it needs to purchase fuel for state electricity.

There are over 3,500 private generators in Lebanon, with monthly bills for subscribers raised to more than 1.5 million Lebanese pounds ($992).

MP Michel Daher complained on Monday that he “receives hundreds of visits daily from patients who need missing medicines. When importers are asked, they say that the Ministry of Health prices unsubsidized medicines at the rate of 12,000 Lebanese pounds to the dollar, half the actual value of the black market rate, which prompted them to stop importing.”


Kuwait announces lifting of COVID-19 restrictions for double-jabbed

Kuwait announces lifting of COVID-19 restrictions for double-jabbed
Updated 12 sec ago

Kuwait announces lifting of COVID-19 restrictions for double-jabbed

Kuwait announces lifting of COVID-19 restrictions for double-jabbed

LONDON: Kuwait has lifted COVID-19 restrictions for fully vaccinated people, the country’s prime minister said on Wednesday.

People will be able to hold conferences, social gatherings and weddings from Sunday, KUNA reported.

Face masks will not be required outdoors but people will still have to wear them and socially distance whilst indoors.

Visas will also be issued to double-jabbed people wishing to enter Kuwait. Kuwait International Airport will operate at full capacity as of Sunday.Social distancing restrictions will be scrapped at mosques as of Friday.


Arab coalition says more than 80 Houthis killed near Yemen’s Marib

Arab coalition says more than 80 Houthis killed near Yemen’s Marib
Updated 18 min 44 sec ago

Arab coalition says more than 80 Houthis killed near Yemen’s Marib

Arab coalition says more than 80 Houthis killed near Yemen’s Marib
  • Arab coalition says airstrikes hit 26 Houthi targets, also destroying 11 military vehicles

RIYADH: The Arab coalition in Yemen said on Wednesday it carried out 26 attacks targeting “mechanisms and elements” of the Houthi militia in two districts near the strategic city of Marib in the last 24 hours.
The coalition said more than 82 Houthi militants have been killed and 11 military vehicles were destroyed in the military operations in Al-Jawba and Al-Kassara.
The coalition added in a statement that it will continue to provide support to the Yemeni National Army to protect civilians from Houthi violations.
This is the tenth consecutive day that the coalition has announced strikes around Marib, reporting a total of around 1,300 Houthi fatalities.
Most of the previously announced strikes were in Abedia, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Marib — the internationally recognized government’s last bastion in oil-rich northern Yemen.
Al-Jawba lies about 50 kilometers south of the city and Al-Kassara is about 30 kilometers northwest.
According to a government military official on Wednesday, the Houthis have made “small advances” in Al-Jawba amid clashes with loyalist troops.
The Houthis began a major push to seize Marib in February and have renewed their offensive since September after a lull.
(With AFP)


Egyptian, Sudanese armies launch first-of-their-kind joint exercises

Egyptian, Sudanese armies launch first-of-their-kind joint exercises
Updated 20 October 2021

Egyptian, Sudanese armies launch first-of-their-kind joint exercises

Egyptian, Sudanese armies launch first-of-their-kind joint exercises
  • The exercises will be held until Oct. 29 at Mohamed Naguib Military Base in Egypt
  • The training is part of plans by the Egyptian Armed Forces to exchange military experience with friendly countries

CAIRO: The Egyptian Armed Forces announced the launch of “Guardian of the South,” the first joint exercises with Sudan’s military to involve both countries’ border guards.

The exercises will be held until Oct. 29 at Mohamed Naguib Military Base in Egypt. The first phase includes lectures, practical exercises, and an exhibition of military equipment used recently to combat smuggling and infiltration operations at the border. 

The training is part of plans by the Egyptian Armed Forces to exchange military experience with friendly countries.

In parallel with this, Egyptian naval forces carried out separate exercises with their Greek, US and Spanish counterparts. 


Six loyalist fighters killed in Syria arms depot blast: monitor

Six loyalist fighters killed in Syria arms depot blast: monitor
Updated 20 October 2021

Six loyalist fighters killed in Syria arms depot blast: monitor

Six loyalist fighters killed in Syria arms depot blast: monitor
  • It was not initially known what caused the blast

BEIRUT: Six members of a pro-government militia were killed Wednesday in an arms depot blast in the central Syrian province of Hama, a war monitor reported.
Seven other members of the National Defense Forces militia were wounded in the blast, the cause of which remains largely unclear, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.


Kuwait’s emir launches process for amnesty pardoning dissidents

Kuwait’s emir launches process for amnesty pardoning dissidents
Updated 20 October 2021

Kuwait’s emir launches process for amnesty pardoning dissidents

Kuwait’s emir launches process for amnesty pardoning dissidents
  • This could potentially end a months-long standoff with opposition

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s ruling emir on Wednesday paved the way for an amnesty pardoning dissidents that has been a major condition of opposition lawmakers to end a months-long standoff with the appointed government that has paralyzed legislative work.
Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah tasked the parliament speaker, the prime minister and the head of the supreme judicial council to recommend the conditions and terms of the amnesty ahead of it being issued by decree, Sheikh Nawaf’s office said.