Lebanon goes dark after bungling protesters disable key power plant

A picture taken on July 27, 2020 shows part of Lebanon’s capital Beirut in the dark caused by fuel shortages. (AFP)
A picture taken on July 27, 2020 shows part of Lebanon’s capital Beirut in the dark caused by fuel shortages. (AFP)
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Updated 09 January 2022

Lebanon goes dark after bungling protesters disable key power plant

A picture taken on July 27, 2020 shows part of Lebanon’s capital Beirut in the dark caused by fuel shortages. (AFP)
  • Patriarch says it is unacceptable for Cabinet to remain suspended when any IMF needs its approval

BEIRUT: The Lebanese population was subjected to collective punishment on Saturday night after protesters stormed a key power station and tampered with the electrical equipment, inflicting power cuts on the whole country for hours.

Protesters stormed the main power station in the Aramoun area, 22 km from Beirut, and tampered with its contents to secure electricity for their neighborhoods, causing a problem that affected all power generation plants.

They claimed that that there is discrimination in the distribution of electricity. They said that “the electric current is available to areas under the authority of the Free Patriotic Movement, while it is totally absent from areas that are considered an incubator environment for the movement’s opponents.”

The owner of a private electric generator in the Choueifat area near Aramoun said that as electricity supplies on Sunday morning returned to the same rationing levels in the Lebanese regions, resentment over what is happening could break out at any time.

Nabih Al-Durra told Arab News that “one hour in the morning and another hour at night is the total electrical energy provided by Electricite du Liban (Lebanon’s state electricity company) to people.”

The rest is provided by private generators, which are too expensive for many people and are also facing difficulties.

Al-Durra said that the number of subscribers had fallen by 25 percent because people are unable to pay LBP 7,100 ($ 4.72) for a kilowatt of electricity.

Electricite du Liban said in its statement that some protesters had broken into its Aramoun power station — “endangering their personal safety and the safety of the station’s workers.”

Their activities in the power station led to disturbances in the electrical network, which in turn disconnected all power production plants around the country, leading to a national blackout,  Electricite du Liban said.

The company renewed its appeal to “all authorities and security forces about the necessity of protecting all the establishment’s facilities from any other attacks and restoring control over the substations outside its control.”

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It pointed out the strategic importance of the main Aramoun station. This station is the main linking station between Al-Zahrani power plant and the rest of the electrical network.

Meanwhile Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi reiterated his concern on Sunday over the current political and economic crisis.

“It is unacceptable for the Cabinet to remain suspended, especially since any agreement with the International Monetary Fund requires the approval of the Council of Ministers as a whole,” he said in his Sunday sermon.

He stressed that “Lebanon’s Arab affiliation is in harmony with its natural surroundings and the interaction of the Lebanese and Arab civilizations throughout history. This is what determines its existence, not the regional conflicts, nor any sectarian project.”

He spoke as the official dollar exchange rate broke the LBP 30,000 barrier on Sunday. The Lebanese pound lost about 95 percent of its value against the dollar since November.

 


El-Sisi seeks enhanced Cairo cooperation with UAE

El-Sisi seeks enhanced Cairo cooperation with UAE
Updated 14 sec ago

El-Sisi seeks enhanced Cairo cooperation with UAE

El-Sisi seeks enhanced Cairo cooperation with UAE

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi expressed Cairo’s aspirations to enhance cooperation with the UAE, citing plans for increased investments in information technology, energy and communications.

El-Sisi’s statement came after he received the UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Sultan Al-Jaber in the presence of a number of officials from the two countries.

A spokesman for the Egyptian presidency said the meeting covered several areas for raising investments between Egypt and the UAE.

The Egyptian presidential spokesman said that El-Sisi conveyed his greetings to the President of the UAE Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, welcoming the increase in Emirati investments in Egypt to consolidate the strong brotherly relations between the two countries.

Al-Jaber conveyed to El-Sisi the greetings of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, praising the attractive investment and commercial climate in Egypt in light of the comprehensive development process the country is witnessing under the leadership of El-Sisi, which he said provides various opportunities for Emirati and foreign investments in the region.

The Emirati minister added that the UAE is keen to strengthen strategic cooperation frameworks between the two countries.


Sudan’s Burhan relieves civilian members of the sovereign council from duties

Sudan’s Burhan relieves civilian members of the sovereign council from duties
Updated 28 min 6 sec ago

Sudan’s Burhan relieves civilian members of the sovereign council from duties

Sudan’s Burhan relieves civilian members of the sovereign council from duties
  • Army would not participate in internationally led dialogue efforts to break its stalemate with the civilian opposition

CAIRO: Sudan’s military leader General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan issued a decree relieving the five civilian members of the sovereign council from their duties, a statement on the council’s telegram account said on Wednesday.
Burhan said on Monday the army would not participate in internationally led dialogue efforts to break its stalemate with the civilian opposition, and urged political and revolutionary groups to start talks to form a transitional government.


Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank

Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank
Updated 06 July 2022

Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank

Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank
  • At least 50 Palestinians have been killed since late March, mostly in the West Bank

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: A Palestinian man was killed by the Israeli military during a raid in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, the Palestinian health ministry said.
Rafiq Riyad Ghannem, 20, was “shot by the occupation (Israeli army)” near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, the ministry said in a statement, adding that he was killed in the town of Jaba.
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Sunday, a 17-year-old Palestinian died after being shot a day earlier in another Israeli army raid in the same town.
At least 50 Palestinians have been killed since late March, mostly in the West Bank, among them suspected militants and non-combatants.
Israeli security forces have launched near-daily raids in the West Bank following a spate of attacks in Israel in recent months.
Nineteen people — mostly Israeli civilians inside Israel — have been killed mainly in attacks carried out by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. Three Arab Israeli attackers have also been killed.


Palestinian president and Hamas chief hold rare meeting

Palestinian president and Hamas chief hold rare meeting
Updated 06 July 2022

Palestinian president and Hamas chief hold rare meeting

Palestinian president and Hamas chief hold rare meeting

ALGIERS: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met publicly for the first time in over five years, on the sidelines of Algerian independence anniversary celebrations.
Algeria’s state broadcaster reported late Tuesday that representatives of the Palestinian Authority and the Islamist Hamas movement also attended this meeting, which it called “historic.”
The pair, who officially last met face-to-face in Doha in October 2016, were brought together in a meeting with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, whose country marked the 60th anniversary of independence from France.
Abbas’ secular Fatah party, which dominates the Palestinian Authority that rules the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has been at loggerheads with Hamas since elections in 2007, when the Islamists took control of Gaza.
Tebboune and Abbas also signed a document to name a street “Algeria” in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
As well as Abbas and Haniyeh, Tebboune on Tuesday hosted several foreign dignitaries, who watched a huge military parade to mark independence in 1962 when Algeria broke free from 132 years of French occupation.


WHO praises Bahrain’s handling of COVID-19 pandemic

WHO praises Bahrain’s handling of COVID-19 pandemic
Updated 06 July 2022

WHO praises Bahrain’s handling of COVID-19 pandemic

WHO praises Bahrain’s handling of COVID-19 pandemic
  • National task force, 24-hour war room, and multilingual media campaign was key, says health body
  • Free testing and vaccines kept virus at bay

RIYADH: Bahrain’s successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic was built on active collaboration between various sectors in the Gulf state, according to a new WHO report.

The document titled “Bahrain COVID-19 Case Studies,” highlights the country’s wide-ranging efforts to get the health crisis under control and identifies lessons learned from that response.

The world health body credits strategic partnerships between public and private entities for the positive response.

Bahrain detected its first case of the virus on Feb. 24, 2020, and caseloads have remained relatively low during the pandemic, with only short-lived surges as a result of the delta and omicron variants. The country has lost 1,495 people to the disease since the start of the pandemic, according to the information organization Our World in Data.

The study was presented by Ahmed Al-Mandhari, the health organization’s head for the eastern Mediterranean region.

“I would like to acknowledge the resilience of the health system in Bahrain throughout the pandemic, and its continued provision of essential health services for all, under a framework of accessibility, acceptability, availability, and quality,” Al-Mandhari said.

“This new report provides us with a valuable reminder: Together we can face health emergencies, and together we can build back stronger,” he said in a joint press conference with Jaleela S. Jawad Hasan, the health minister, on Tuesday.

Hasan outlined some of the strategies that had helped to keep the virus in check on the small island kingdom of 1.7 million people.

Even before the first case appeared, Hasan said, Bahrain established a national task force coupled with a round-the-clock war room, featuring representatives from various sectors. A multilingual public media campaign to spread awareness was also introduced.

The report stated that by using its existing health infrastructure, the kingdom “capitalized on and scaled up its existing resources and displayed a level of preparedness and synergy of efforts from both the top down and the bottom up.”

King Hamad’s decision to provide testing and vaccines to the public free of charge was among the positive steps in handling the crisis, stated the authors of the report.

The lessons learned from what the country has achieved provide “invaluable insights into best practices that, shared, will have far-reaching and long-lasting effects beyond Bahrain’s borders,” the report concluded.

Hasan said Bahrain was committed to its cooperation with the WHO to combat the pandemic and achieve global health goals, according to the Bahrain News Agency.

On Tuesday, the health ministry reported 40 active hospitalized cases, 15 of which were critical.

Bahrain removed most COVID-19 restrictions in February, doing away with capacity limits at indoor venues and testing and vaccination requirements for travelers heading to the kingdom.