Top Arab League official holds talks in Lebanon over Gulf row

Update Arab League Assistant Secretary General Hossam Zaki, left, speaks during a joint news conference with Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bouhabib, in Beirut on Monday. (AP)
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Arab League Assistant Secretary General Hossam Zaki, left, speaks during a joint news conference with Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bouhabib, in Beirut on Monday. (AP)
Update Top Arab League official holds talks in Lebanon over Gulf row
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Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Lebanon on Oct. 29 after remarks made by George Kordahi on the Yemen war. (AFP)
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Updated 08 November 2021

Top Arab League official holds talks in Lebanon over Gulf row

Arab League Assistant Secretary General Hossam Zaki, left, speaks during a joint news conference with Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bouhabib, in Beirut on Monday. (AP)
  • Arab League assistant secretary-general tells Lebanese politicians: ‘You know the way to solution and yet you are not taking any steps’

BEIRUT: Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Hossam Zaki held talks in Lebanon on Monday to try to ease a rift with Saudi Arabia over criticism of its role in the Yemen war.

Zaki said the purpose of his visit is to “familiarize himeself with the Lebanese position and make an effort to promote a convergence of opinion and resolve problems with Saudi Arabia.”

Zaki stressed that the Lebanese crisis with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries “is not simple and goes beyond a minister’s account of what is happening in Yemen. It is an integrated position on the situation, and this is what Saudi Arabia has condemned. The Lebanese position is different from Arab decisions on the Yemeni issue.”

Zaki held talks with President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah Bou Habib.

His talks came against the backdrop of the diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon that started on Oct. 29 after the airing of remarks by Information Minister George Kordahi on the Yemen conflict.

Mikati told Zaki that “Lebanon is keen on restoring normal relations with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and will make every possible effort to remove the gaps in these relations and address the differences in the spirit of brotherhood and cooperation.”

He said Lebanon “is committed to all Arab League decisions regarding the Yemeni crisis, stemming from the Security Council resolution, the Gulf initiative, and the principle of dialogue between the concerned parties.”

Zaki confirmed in a statement that if he needs to visit to Saudi Arabia, he will do so.

However, he said that “the majority know the way to solve the Saudi-Lebanese crisis, but no one has taken a single step.”

Political observers say that “Kordahi’s resignation and taking serious steps to prevent drug smuggling into the Kingdom may be the gateway to the solution.”

Addressing a press conference at the Lebanese Foreign Ministry, Zaki said: “What must be done to start addressing the current crisis is clear and we must all continue to work hard because the relationship between Lebanon and the Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, is an old, well-established and important relationship for both parties, but the matter needs an effort that we hope everyone will make and seek to achieve.”

He said that “the issue is far from being taken lightly.”

The prime minister has been unable to achieve any breakthrough in the crisis of the relationship with the Gulf as Hezbollah is rejecting Kordahi’s resignation unless it receives guarantees.

Last weekend, Mikati asked Kordahi to “do what his national conscience dictates,” that is, to submit his resignation.

Kordahi refused to do so, taking the position of the leader of the Marada Movement, Suleiman Frangieh, an ally of Hezbollah and the Syrian regime.

Hezbollah has said that Kordahi’s resignation would undermine “national sovereignty.”

The diplomatic rift has put further pressure on the Lebanese government, which is already suffering from a crisis provoked by Hezbollah.

Hezbollah has blocked the participation of its deputies and those of the Amal movement in the Cabinet sessions until the dismissal of the judicial investigator in the port explosion case, Judge Tarek Bitar, and the ending of investigations into the Tayouneh clashes.

The Tayouneh clashes started after Hezbollah’s protest against Judge Bitar turned into an armed confrontation with the people of Ain Al-Rummaneh neighbourhood, including members of the Lebanese Forces party.

There are still efforts to dismiss Judge Bitar from the port blast case.

The most recent of these was the ruling of Judge Habib Mezher, head of Chamber 15 of the Appeals Court, to dismiss Bitar.

Mezher’s move provoked a storm of reaction.

Prosecutors for the foreign victims of the explosion filed a complaint with the Judicial Inspection Authority and the Supreme Judicial Council against Mezher “due to the grave errors in his decision.”

The Beirut Bar Association submitted a review to the Civil Court of Appeal to say that Judge Mezher’s “intervention in Judge Bitar’s response file and taking unilateral decisions is illegal.”

As of Monday, the number of lawsuits filed against Bitar by politicians he had accused over the explosion reached 16.

These aim to paralyze his investigations and dismiss him from his role.

Former Prime Minister Hassan Diab and former ministers Ali Hassan Khalil, Ali Zuaiter, Nohad Al-Machnouk and Youssef Finianos are all seeking to avoid appearing before the judge.


Arab states condemn terrorist attack on educational center in Kabul

Arab states condemn terrorist attack on educational center in Kabul
Updated 7 sec ago

Arab states condemn terrorist attack on educational center in Kabul

Arab states condemn terrorist attack on educational center in Kabul

DUBAI: Arab states have condemned Friday’s terrorist attack that targeted an educational center in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, which killed teenage students, most of them girls.

The bombing happened in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood of western Kabul, a predominantly Shiite Muslim area home to the minority Hazara community, the target of some of Afghanistan’s most deadly attacks.

The bomber shot dead two security guards before entering the gender-segregated hall where students were sitting for a practice college examination, earlier reports said.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack.

The Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, in a statement, condemned the attack which killed and injured “scores of innocent people.”

The ministry voiced its rejection of all forms of violence and terrorism.

Bahrain also condemned the suicide blast, and in a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the kingdom’s “deep condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims.”

It also wished a speedy recovery for those injured.

Kuwait similarly denounced the attack as the Gulf state renewed its “firm and principled stance against all forms of violence and terrorism.”


Turkey rejects Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory

Turkey rejects Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory
Updated 27 min 50 sec ago

Turkey rejects Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory

Turkey rejects Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory
  • Turkey, a NATO member, has conducted a diplomatic balancing act since Russia invaded Ukraine

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday it rejects Russia’s annexation of four regions in Ukraine, adding the decision is a “grave violation” of international law.
Turkey, a NATO member, has conducted a diplomatic balancing act since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Ankara opposes Western sanctions on Russia and has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbors. It has also criticized Russia’s invasion and sent armed drones to Ukraine.
The Turkish ministry said on Saturday it had not recognized Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, adding that it rejects Russia’s decision to annex the four regions, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
“This decision, which constitutes a grave violation of the established principles of international law, cannot be accepted,” the ministry said.
“We reiterate our support to the resolution of this war, the severity of which keeps growing, based on a just peace that will be reached through negotiations,” it added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of the regions on Friday, promising Moscow would triumph in its “special military operation” even as he faced a potentially serious new military reversal.
His proclamation came after Russia held what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and non-representative.
The United States, Britain and Canada announced new sanctions in response.
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky said on Friday his country had submitted a fast-track application to join the NATO military alliance and that he would not hold peace talks with Russia while Putin was still president.


UAE provides aid to those affected by floods in Mauritania

UAE provides aid to those affected by floods in Mauritania
Updated 01 October 2022

UAE provides aid to those affected by floods in Mauritania

UAE provides aid to those affected by floods in Mauritania
  • According to UN OCHA, at least 19 people have died, 38,000 people have been affected

The UAE sent a plane carrying food items on Friday to various cities and villages affected by the torrential rains that recently struck southern and eastern Mauritania, state news agency WAM reported. 

Since late July, heavy rainfall and widespread floods hit several parts of Mauritania. According to UN OCHA, at least 19 people have died, 38,000 people have been affected, and almost 4,000 houses destroyed.

“The provision of these supplies reflects the strong relations between the two countries and underscores the UAE’s humanitarian role in providing relief to those in need and those affected by disasters that threaten food security,” said Hamad Ghanem al-Mehairi, UAE Ambassador to Mauritania. 

The UAE previously sent aid to Mauritania in April 2021, as well as medical aid to support the country's efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.


Iran arrests artist whose viral song became protest anthem

Iran arrests artist whose viral song became protest anthem
Updated 01 October 2022

Iran arrests artist whose viral song became protest anthem

Iran arrests artist whose viral song became protest anthem
  • A few days before his arrest on September 29, Shervin Hajipour posted the moving song on Instagram
  • Iranian authorities have also arrested female artist Donya Rad, Radio Farda reported

DUBAI: Shervin Hajipour, whose viral song became the anthem for anti-government protests in Iran, has been arrested by police with his whereabouts currently unknown.

It was also unclear what were the charges brought against the young singer, news website Radio Farda reported.

A few days before his arrest on September 29, Hajipour posted the moving song on Instagram describing the current situation in the Islamic Republic, which was triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini while in custody of the morality police.

Hajipour’s song had garnered more than 40 million views on Instagram, and has spread on other social media platforms, before it was removed.

The lyrics of Hajipour’s song was woven from tweets posted by Iranians following Amini’s death, many of them blaming the country’s clerical leadership for the current social, economic and political problems.

 

 

“For the shame of having no money,” read one of the tweets in Hajipour’s song.

“For the fear of kissing a lover on the street,” said another tweet.

“For the political prisoners,” another part of the lyrics said.

Iranian authorities have also arrested female artist Donya Rad, Radio Farda reported, after she posted a photo of herself eating out in Tehran without a head scarf and the image going viral on social media.

Rad’s sister claimed Donya was taken to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.


Iran’s leaders ‘in disarray’ as protests grow

Iran’s leaders ‘in disarray’ as protests grow
Updated 01 October 2022

Iran’s leaders ‘in disarray’ as protests grow

Iran’s leaders ‘in disarray’ as protests grow
  • High-level jockeying for position over who will succeed Khamenei as supreme leader

JEDDAH: Iran’s clerical rulers are in disarray over how to crush mass anti-government protests amid rifts over security tactics and high-level maneuvering over who will succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, analysts say.
Nationwide unrest over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody has coincided with new rumors about the 83-year-old supreme leader’s ailing health, posing a threat to Iran’s religious establishment.
Although in theory, the 86-member Assembly of Experts will choose the next leader, jockeying for influence has already begun, making it difficult for the ruling clerics to unite around a set of security tactics.
“This race has caused disarray inside the leadership. The deepening rift is the last thing we need when the country is in turmoil,” one hard-line official said. “The main issue right now is the Islamic Republic’s survival.”

FASTFACT

Nationwide unrest over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody has coincided with new rumors about the 83-year-old supreme leader’s ailing health.

The two candidates viewed as favorites to replace Khamenei are his son Mojtaba and President Ebrahim Raisi. “Neither of them has popular support,” said Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “But what keeps the Islamic Republic in power is not popular support, but repression — and both men are deeply experienced in repression.”
As the protests spread to 80 cities nationwide, Iran’s rulers have accused a coalition of “anarchists, terrorists and foreign foes” of orchestrating the troubles — a narrative few Iranians believe.
Alarmed by the depth of popular outrage, some senior clerics and politicians have appealed for restraint to avoid bloodshed that could galvanize and embolden protesters.
But that has not stopped hard-liners calling for tougher measures, despite the death of at least 75 protesters in the security crackdown. “A part of the establishment fears that this time using more lethal force can push the Islamic Republic to a no return point,” said a senior former Iranian official.

 

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