The return of Syrian refugees key topic in Cavusoglu’s talks in Lebanon

Special The return of Syrian refugees key topic in Cavusoglu’s talks in Lebanon
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) and his Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib hold a joint-press conference in Lebanon's capital Beirut, on November 16, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 16 November 2021

The return of Syrian refugees key topic in Cavusoglu’s talks in Lebanon

The return of Syrian refugees key topic in Cavusoglu’s talks in Lebanon
  • President Aoun calls for increasing the quantity of Lebanese products exported to Turkey

BEIRUT: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called for support for the Lebanese government in overcoming the country’s crises and holding parliamentary elections at a press conference in Beirut on Tuesday.

Cavusoglu stressed that “the Lebanese people should not have to pay the price of regional bargains,” referring to the issue of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. “Lebanon is waiting for urgent solutions to its problems.”

Cavusoglu was speaking alongside his Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib, after holding talks with President Michel Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

He also devoted part of his visit to highlighting Turkey’s presence in Lebanon through several development projects funded by Ankara.

Cavusoglu was on his fourth visit to Lebanon since 2016. 

He said he was in Beirut to “stress Turkey’s support for Lebanon, as well as to invite (Prime Minister) Mikati to visit Turkey and make preliminary arrangements for the visit.

“We discussed how to develop tourism and energy fields, especially since the Lebanese people’s top destination is Turkey and the Turkish people are known for how much they love Lebanon.”

The minister added: “We discussed regional issues, since our countries are the most affected by the Syrian crisis; the brotherly Lebanese people should not have to pay the price of regional bargains.”

The Lebanese presidency’s media office noted that Aoun told the Turkish official that he welcomed “any assistance that Turkey can provide to ease the return of Syrian refugees to their homes, most of which have become safe, in terms of pressuring the international community to provide aid to refugees inside Syria, to encourage return.”

Aoun said he supported “coordinating regional efforts to that end with Turkey, Jordan and Iraq” and called for “increasing the share of Turkey’s imports of Lebanese products, especially since the trade balance is currently tilting in Turkey’s favor.”

The president also raised “a request to Turkey to help return the Maronite Cypriots to their villages in the northern part of Cyprus, after the delay that occurred for reasons related to logistics and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

On the parliamentary elections scheduled for next March, Cavusoglu stressed the need to hold them on time.

“We have always given importance to the sovereignty, independence and security of Lebanon and provided the necessary support after the explosions in Beirut and Akkar,” Cavusoglu said. “We also support the army and security forces fighting for Lebanon’s stability and security.”

He added: “We renewed our support by extending (commitment to) the UN Interim Force in Lebanon for a year, and we have a unit working in this regard.”

Bou Habib stated he wished Turkey “to open its markets for the export of Lebanese products.”

The minister added that Lebanon “is keen on maintaining good relations with all countries and highly appreciates the Turkish support and aid, as well as its participation as a country within the UNIFIL.”

He said: “We, and the Turkish foreign minister, signed a cooperation agreement to enhance rapprochement between the two ministries and are working on a memorandum of understanding in other areas.”

Bou Habib noted that “Lebanon and Turkey are suffering from the burden of Syrian refugee issue.”

He called for “the necessity of unifying efforts to tackle the refugees’ issue and asking the international community to share the burden fairly among them or work on their return to their country.”


Iraq’s Sadr backtracks on call for huge protest

Iraq’s Sadr backtracks on call for huge protest
Updated 6 sec ago

Iraq’s Sadr backtracks on call for huge protest

Iraq’s Sadr backtracks on call for huge protest
BAGHDAD: Iraq’s firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr backtracked Tuesday after earlier urging his supporters to join a massive rally as a standoff with his political rivals appeared to be getting worse.
The populist cleric’s announcement came amid behind the scenes talks aimed at steering Iraq out of crisis, with the country’s two branches of Shiite Islam jockeying for supremacy.
More than 10 months on from elections, Iraq still has no government, new prime minister or new president, because of disagreement between factions over forming a coalition.
Sadr wants parliament dissolved to pave the way for new legislative elections, but his rivals the pro-Iran Coordination Framework want to set conditions and are demanding a transitional government before new polls.
The cleric’s bloc emerged from last October’s elections as parliament’s biggest, but still far short of a majority.
Sadr, whose supporters have been staging a sit-in protest outside parliament in Baghdad’s high security Green Zone for more than two weeks, had called for a “million-man demonstration” in the capital on Saturday.
But on Tuesday he announced on Twitter “the indefinite postponement of Saturday’s protest.”
“If you had been betting on a civil war, I am betting on preserving social peace. The blood of Iraqis is more precious than anything else,” Sadr said.
Late on Monday, a committee organizing demonstrations in support of the Coordination Framework also announced new gatherings, but without setting a date.
The Coordination Framework launched their own Baghdad sit-in on Friday, camping out on an avenue in the capital.
The Coordination Framework comprises former paramilitaries of the Tehran-backed Hashed Al-Shaabi network and the party of former premier Nuri Al-Maliki, a longtime Sadr foe.
So far, the rival Shiite protests have been peaceful, with attempts at mediation ongoing.
Hadi Al-Ameri, leader of a Hashed faction, has also called for calm and for dialogue. He has had a series of meetings with political leaders including allies of Sadr.
Also on Tuesday, Finance Minister Ali Allawi who is in the current government submitted his resignation to the Council of Ministers, the INA state news agency reported.
Iraq has been ravaged by decades of conflict and endemic corruption.
It is blighted by ailing infrastructure, power cuts and crumbling public services, and now also faces water shortages as drought ravages swathes of the country.
Despite its oil wealth, many Iraqis are mired in poverty, and some 35 percent of young people are unemployed, according to the United Nations.

Fire breaks out at church in Minya days after church blaze in Egyptian capital

Fire breaks out at church in Minya days after church blaze in Egyptian capital
Updated 1 min 45 sec ago

Fire breaks out at church in Minya days after church blaze in Egyptian capital

Fire breaks out at church in Minya days after church blaze in Egyptian capital

CAIRO: Four ambulances were sent to the site of a fire that broke out in a church in Egypt’s Minya governorate on Tuesday, the Health Ministry said.

The fire at Anba Bishoy church comes two days after a blaze ripped through the Abu Sefein Coptic Church in Cairo’s Imbaba neighborhood on Sunday, killing 41 people.

The spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Population, Hossam Abdel Ghaffar, said that although the fire did not result in any deaths, a person was treated on the scene for suffocation but did not require hospital treatment.

Abdel Ghaffar said that ambulances will continue to be stationed at the scene until the the area is deemed safe in case of further developments.

He added the ambulances arrived at the site of the fire within six minutes of receiving an alert at 2.30 p.m.

The spokesman said that Minister of Health and Population Khaled Abdel Ghaffar is following the incident and has directed hospitals in the area to raise their degree of preparedness.


Kuwait appoints Naser Al-Hain as UN representative

Kuwait appoints Naser Al-Hain as UN representative
Updated 3 min 57 sec ago

Kuwait appoints Naser Al-Hain as UN representative

Kuwait appoints Naser Al-Hain as UN representative
  • UN chief praises Kuwait’s humanitarian efforts

GENEVA: Kuwait has appointed Naser Al-Hain as its permanent representative to the United Nations.

The ambassador submitted his credentials to the head of the UN Office in Geneva, Tatiana Valovaya, on Monday, the Kuwait News Agency reported.

Al-Hain acknowledged the UN’s pivotal contributions in a variety of fields and in particular its humanitarian efforts.

Valovaya praised Kuwait’s humanitarian efforts and emphasized the country’s strong ties to the UN and other international organizations.

Al-Hain is a time-served diplomat and has represented his country at multiple international events.


Daesh leader killed in Sinai

Daesh leader killed in Sinai
Updated 40 min 20 sec ago

Daesh leader killed in Sinai

Daesh leader killed in Sinai
  • Hamza Adel Al-Zamili, a Palestinian, was considered one of the most prominent leaders of Daesh’s Sinai branch
  • Al-Zamili planned the massacre at Al-Rawda Mosque in North Sinai in November 2017, which resulted in the deaths of 305 people, including 27 children

CAIRO: The Egyptian military, in cooperation with the Federation of Sinai Tribes, has killed a Daesh leader in the village of Gelbana in North Sinai.

Hamza Adel Al-Zamili, a Palestinian, was considered one of the most prominent leaders of Daesh’s Sinai branch.

He was born in 1992 and infiltrated Sinai from the Gaza Strip, joining Daesh with his brother, who was killed in fighting against the Egyptian military.

Al-Zamili reportedly fled Gaza after being accused of shoplifting and drug trafficking. He planned the massacre at Al-Rawda Mosque in North Sinai in November 2017, which resulted in the deaths of 305 people, including 27 children.


Iraq’s finance minister resigns over political crisis

Iraq’s finance minister resigns over political crisis
Updated 16 August 2022

Iraq’s finance minister resigns over political crisis

Iraq’s finance minister resigns over political crisis
  • The officials said Finance Minister Ali Allawi resigned during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday to protest the political conditions
  • Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar will become acting finance minister

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s finance minister resigned Tuesday, two government officials said, over the country’s worst political crisis in years involving an influential Shiite cleric and his Iran-aligned rivals.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said Finance Minister Ali Allawi resigned during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday to protest the political conditions. They said Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar will become acting finance minister.
Allawi’s decision came weeks after members of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr’s parliamentary bloc resigned from parliament and his supporters stormed the parliament building in Baghdad. Al-Sadr later demanded that parliament be dissolved and early elections held.
Al-Sadr won the largest share of seats in the election last October but failed to form a majority government that excluded his Iran-aligned rivals.
Al-Sadr’s political rivals in the Coordination Framework, an alliance of Iran-backed parties, said earlier that parliament would have to convene to dissolve itself. They called the Al-Sadr supporters’ storming of parliament a “coup” and have held demonstrations in support of the government.
Iraq’s political impasse, now in its 10th month, is the longest in the country since the 2003 US-led invasion reset the political order.