Biden aide tells Israeli official diplomacy best way to keep Iran from getting nuclear bomb

Update Biden aide tells Israeli official diplomacy best way to keep Iran from getting nuclear bomb
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Updated 05 October 2021

Biden aide tells Israeli official diplomacy best way to keep Iran from getting nuclear bomb

Biden aide tells Israeli official diplomacy best way to keep Iran from getting nuclear bomb
  • Eyal Hulata is on a visit to Washington, which US officials said will allow the two allies to share intelligence

WASHINGTON D.C.: White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told his Israeli counterpart Eyal Hulata on Tuesday that President Joe Biden's administration believes diplomacy is the best way to make sure Iran never gets a nuclear weapon, the White House said.

Sullivan also noted at the White House meeting that Biden “has made clear that if diplomacy fails, the United States is prepared to turn to other options,” the White House said.

Hulata is on a visit to Washington, which US officials said will allow the two allies to share intelligence and develop a “baseline assessment” of how far Tehran's nuclear program has advanced.

Asked what actions were under consideration and whether that included military options, a US official said “we'll be prepared to take measures that are necessary“ but did not elaborate.

The official said that Iran was “sending indications to a number of parties that they are preparing to come back to Vienna,” where the US and Iran held indirect talks earlier this year that stalled.


Beirut bank gunman still behind bars as family takes to the street in protest

Beirut bank gunman still behind bars as family takes to the street in protest
Updated 20 sec ago

Beirut bank gunman still behind bars as family takes to the street in protest

Beirut bank gunman still behind bars as family takes to the street in protest
  • Bassam Al-Sheikh Hussein was arrested on Thursday after holding employees hostage
  • After surrendering himself he was told he would not be jailed

BEIRUT: The Lebanese man who held eight bank employees hostage at gunpoint while demanding the release of his frozen savings remaine behind bars on Friday pending further inquiries.

Bassam Al-Sheikh Hussein was arrested after voluntarily leaving the Federal Bank branch in Beirut on Thursday evening following a seven-hour standoff.

On Friday, members of his family blocked Al-Ouzai Road in Beirut in protest at his continued detention saying it was in breach of an agreement made the night before.

Al-Sheikh Hussein, 42, surrendered after being told his family would be given $35,000 of his money and being promised he would be questioned and then set free. Inside the bank he had been armed with a pump-action shotgun and gasoline, which at on point he said he would use to set himself alight.

Many people in the crowd that had gathered outside the bank during the siege applauded as he was led away. Lebanon’s central bank imposed a freeze on all bank deposits in 2019.

Despite the promise that he would be allowed to walk free, after leaving the bank Al-Sheikh Hussein was arrested and detained on the orders of the Lebanese judiciary.

Lawyer Haytham Ezzo told Arab News that Al-Sheikh Hussein was detained by the Information Branch of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces and denied access to a lawyer despite it being his legal right to have one present.

“Even if no one sues him, there’s the public right,” he said. “Either the investigating judge asks for his release after he’s referred to him by the Information Branch, or asks for his arrest.”

Ezzo said it was possible that Al-Sheikh Hussein had been arrested for endangering state security or threatening to kill or kidnap.

As for the money paid to the family, that could not be reclaimed by the bank as “it doesn’t constitute a criminal tool. It is the arrested depositor’s right and property,” he added.

Hassan Mughnieh, the head of Lebanon’s Depositors Association, who was in charge of the negotiations between Al-Sheikh Hussein and the bank, told Arab News that “neither the employees who were held hostage nor the Federal Bank sued him.”

But the gunman would remain behind bars until next week at the earliest, he said.

“Things will become clear on Tuesday, as it’s the weekend and judges do not work on Monday in the Justice Palaces.”

He added: “As depositors, we will organize a protest in front of Beirut’s Justice Palace on Tuesday and in front of the Directorate General of the Internal Security Forces. We don’t have a problem with Al-Sheikh Hassan’s arrest, but justice says the bank owner should also be arrested.”

Mughnieh said he had received many calls from other disgruntled bank depositors saying they wanted to act as Al-Sheikh Hassan had done.

Lebanese bank customers have had their deposits frozen since the start of the country’s economic crisis and slump of its currency.

Castro Abdallah, head of the National Federation of Trade and Employees Unions, said on Friday that “the affected people should stand together in order to recover the stolen public and depositors’ money.”

He called on unions to protest next Thursday in the commercial street of Hamra in Beirut.

Lebanon’s caretaker deputy Prime Minister Saade Chami warned that Lebanon was standing at a crossroads.

“We need to acknowledge the reality and the crises we are facing and confront them. This means that we should take the needed measures and carry out the critical and necessary reforms that put the country on the right path.”

He added that the financial and monetary policies adopted in recent years in a bid to buy time had failed and that time was now running out.

“No one will rescue us if we don’t try to rescue ourselves,” he said. “Receiving help from the little friends we have left in the world will not achieve the desired outcome.”


Hundreds linked to Daesh transferred from Syria to Iraq

Hundreds linked to Daesh transferred from Syria to Iraq
Updated 12 August 2022

Hundreds linked to Daesh transferred from Syria to Iraq

Hundreds linked to Daesh transferred from Syria to Iraq
  • It is the fourth operation of its kind this year from the camp, which lies less than 10 kilometers from the Iraqi border
  • The men, women and children belonged to 150 families and left the camp on Thursday

BEIRUT: Syria’s autonomous Kurdish region transferred to the Iraqi government more than 600 relatives of Daesh group members who were detained at the notorious Al-Hol camp, a monitor said Friday.
It is the fourth operation of its kind this year from the camp, which lies less than 10 kilometers from the Iraqi border.
In the latest transfer, around “620 people, relatives of Daesh members, left Al-Hol,” coordinated between the camp administration and the Iraqi government, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.
The men, women and children belonged to 150 families and left the camp on Thursday, an official in the Kurdish administration told AFP.
Thousands of foreign extremists joined Daesh as fighters, often bringing their wives and children to live in the “caliphate” declared by the group across swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014.
Kurdish-led forces backed by a US-led coalition dislodged the militants from their last scrap of territory in Syria in 2019.
Kurdish authorities have repeatedly called on countries to repatriate their citizens from crowded displaced camps, of which Al-Hol is Syria’s largest.
More than 100 people, including many women, were murdered in Al-Hol over an 18-month period, the UN said in June, calling for camp residents to be returned home.
But nations have mostly received them only sporadically, fearing security threats and a domestic political backlash.
The first repatriation of Iraqi families from Al-Hol, involving around 300 people, took place in May last year.
Iraq should repatriate 500 families in total from Al-Hol this year, the official Iraqi New Agency announced on Wednesday.
In addition to the returned family members, the Iraqi government also received this week about 50 Iraqi Daesh fighters and leaders who were detained by the Syrian Democratic Forces, according to the Observatory.
The SDF spearheaded the fight against Daesh in Syria with the support of the US-led coalition.
In early June, Iraq repatriated another 50 Iraqi Daesh fighters who were detained by Kurdish forces. They were among 3,500 Iraqis held in Syrian Kurdish prisons, a senior military official said at the time.
In April, a senior Iraqi security official said the Al-Hol camp is a security threat and should be dismantled.
It houses around 55,000 people, the UN reported in June.


Sadr followers hold mass prayer outside Iraqi parliament in show of force

Sadr followers hold mass prayer outside Iraqi parliament in show of force
Updated 12 August 2022

Sadr followers hold mass prayer outside Iraqi parliament in show of force

Sadr followers hold mass prayer outside Iraqi parliament in show of force
  • Supporters of the populist leader have occupied the Iraqi parliament since July
  • Iran-aligned political groups were expected to hold their own demonstration later on Friday

BAGHDAD: Thousands of followers of Moqtada Al-Sadr held a mass prayer outside parliament in Baghdad on Friday in a show of support for the powerful Shiite cleric who has called for Iraq’s judiciary to dissolve parliament by the end of next week.
Supporters of the populist leader have occupied the Iraqi parliament since July after a 10-month political stalemate that followed elections last October. Sadr was the biggest winner but failed to form a government free of Iranian-backed parties.
He withdrew his lawmakers from parliament and is now preventing the chamber from electing a new government and is demanding early elections.
On Wednesday he said the judiciary must dissolve parliament by the end of next week. If not “the revolutionaries will take another stand,” he said without elaborating.
Outside parliament on Friday thousands of Sadr supporters gathered for prayer. Most were dressed in black to mark the Muslim month of Muharram and some wore white capes symbolizing burial shrouds and their willingness to die.
“You will not break Iraq as long as Sadr is here,” an imam told the crowd from a big red stage set up outside parliament. “There is no going back from this revolution ... and the people will not give up their demands.”
In the intense summer heat, men picked their way through the worshippers and sprayed them with cold water. Some carried portraits of Sadr and his father, also a prominent cleric, as well as Iraqi flags.
“We have revolted and there is no going back,” said Mohammed Elwan, 40, carrying a portrait of Sadr.
Hamid Hussain, a father of five, said: “I am here to call for an early election and make sure that all the corrupt faces are excluded from the upcoming elections...I became unemployed because of the corrupt parties.”
Sadr’s opponents also accuse him of corruption. They say his loyalists have run some of Iraq’s most corrupt and dysfunctional government departments.
Iran-aligned political groups were expected to hold their own demonstration later on Friday, the latest in a series of protest and counter-protest in recent days which have led to fears of unrest.
Sadr counts millions of Iraqis among his followers and has shown he can still stir up gatherings by hundreds of thousands of supporters, mostly working-class Shiite Muslims, if he needs to exert political pressure.
His father Mohammed Sadiq Al-Sadr was killed more than 20 years ago for his outspoken opposition Saddam Hussein. When Saddam was topped in a US-led invasion in 2003 Sadr began an insurgency against US troops.
His new foes, however, are fellow Shiite leaders and parties mostly aligned with Iran, as Sadr has positioned himself as a nationalist who rejects foreign interference. Those groups, like Sadr, are backed by heavily armed militias, but do not hold the same sway as he does over masses of fanatical followers.


UAE minister says youth are main tool for building sustainable future

UAE minister says youth are main tool for building sustainable future
Updated 12 August 2022

UAE minister says youth are main tool for building sustainable future

UAE minister says youth are main tool for building sustainable future

DUBAI: The UAE’s Minister of Culture and Youth, Noura bint Mohammed al-Kaabi, said investing in young people, and empowering them to make a contribution to their countries and communities is the foundation of a nation’s development.
“Youth are the real capital and the main tool in our growth journey to build a sustainable future. In order to prepare them for future leadership positions, it is imperative to include them in key decision-making roles today," she said in a statement on the occasion of the International Youth Day, marked annually on Aug. 12.
The UAE government, she said, is keen to hear the voices of young people and empower them to achieve their goals. 
The National Strategy for Cultural and Creative Industries is one of the strategies which enables the UAE to invest in young talent and “helps nurture creativity and harness their energy to work towards a sustainable future,” according to state news agency WAM. 
The UAE has also launched initiatives and found specialised organisations that cater to young people's needs. 
This includes establishing the Federal Youth Authority (FYA) which implements 35 youth initiatives through 15 creative youth hubs across the country to engage the young population in various sectors of society.
The minister also said that the UAE also focuses on young people from all over the world. 
“This is the reason why Arab youth have chosen the UAE, for 10 consecutive years, as the best country to live and work. It goes to show that the country's strategy in attracting and caring for creative youth and providing them with a conducive environment is bearing fruit and enhancing the capabilities of the country and youth alike,” she said.


Iran says EU proposal to revive nuclear deal could be ‘acceptable’

Iran says EU proposal to revive nuclear deal could be ‘acceptable’
Updated 12 August 2022

Iran says EU proposal to revive nuclear deal could be ‘acceptable’

Iran says EU proposal to revive nuclear deal could be ‘acceptable’
  • The EU earlier it had put forward “final” text following indirect talks between the US and Iranian officials in Vienna

DUBAI, Aug 12 : A European Union proposal to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal “can be acceptable if it provides assurances” on Tehran’s key demands, the state news agency IRNA said on Friday, quoting a senior Iranian diplomat.
The EU said on Monday it had put forward a “final” text following four days of indirect talks between the US and Iranian officials in Vienna.
A senior EU official said no more changes could be made to the text, which has been under negotiation for 15 months. He said he expected a final decision from the parties within a “very, very few weeks.”
IRNA quoted the unidentified Iranian diplomat as saying Tehran was reviewing the proposal. “Proposals by the EU can be acceptable if they provide Iran with assurance on the issues of safeguards, sanctions and guarantees,” the diplomat said.
The Islamic Republic has sought to obtain guarantees that no future US president would renege on the deal if it were revived, as then-President Donald Trump did in 2018 and restored harsh US sanctions on Iran.
However, President Joe Biden cannot provide such ironclad assurances because the deal is a political understanding rather than a legally binding treaty.
Washington has said it is ready to quickly reach an agreement to revive the deal on the basis of the EU proposals.
Iranian officials said they would convey their “additional views and considerations” to the EU, which coordinates the talks, after consultations in Tehran.
The 2015 pact seemed near revival in March. But 11 months of indirect talks between Tehran and the Biden administration in Vienna were thrown into disarray chiefly over Iran’s insistence that Washington remove its elite Revolutionary Guards Corps from the US Foreign Terrorist Organizations list.
Under the 2015 agreement, Iran curbed its disputed uranium enrichment program, a possible pathway to nuclear weapons, in return for relief from US, EU and UN sanctions. Tehran says it wants nuclear power only for peaceful purposes.