Gulf states review Lebanon’s response to proposal to ease row

Gulf states review Lebanon’s response to proposal to ease row
Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah poses with Arab foreign ministers as they meet to discuss Lebanon’s response to a Gulf proposal to mend a diplomatic rift. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 30 January 2022

Gulf states review Lebanon’s response to proposal to ease row

Gulf states review Lebanon’s response to proposal to ease row
  • Patriarch Al-Rahi warns against calls for postponing parliamentary election planned for May

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait said on Sunday that a Lebanese response to a list of suggested measures to ease a diplomatic rift with Gulf countries is currently under review.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah said that receiving the response was a “positive step by the Lebanese authorities.”

He was speaking during a news conference following a meeting of Arab foreign ministers, which was attended by Lebanon’s top diplomat Abdallah Bou Habib.

Sheikh Ahmed visited Beirut last week and handed Lebanese leaders a list of suggested measures to ease a diplomatic rift with Gulf countries.

In October, Saudi Arabia and its allies suspended diplomatic ties with Lebanon after the airing of comments by then Information Minister Georges Kordahi criticizing the military conflict in Yemen.

Kuwait recalled its ambassador from Beirut and also asked Beirut’s charge d’affaires to leave the emirate.

Kordahi resigned in November, in a bid to ease the standoff and French President Emmanuel Macron said Paris and Riyadh had agreed to fully engage to restore diplomatic ties.

“It is now up to the relevant parties in Kuwait and in the Gulf states to study this response in order to find out what will be Lebanon’s next step,” said Sheikh Ahmed.

He thanked Beirut “for interacting” with the demands, which he said was a positive step.

The measures presented by Kuwait are part of wider efforts to restore trust between Lebanon and its Gulf neighbors as Beirut grapples with an unprecedented financial crisis.

The terms delivered to Beirut on Jan. 22 include setting a time frame for implementing UN Security Council resolutions, among them Resolution 1559 which was adopted in 2004 and calls for the disarmament of nonstate militias in Lebanon.

The Lebanese draft letter had expressed respect for UN resolutions “to ensure civil peace and national stability” and said that Lebanon “will not be a launchpad for activities that violates Arab countries.”

Despite Kordahi’s resignation, tension between Lebanon and Gulf states has persisted, mainly over Iran-backed Hezbollah.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Beirut called on Lebanese political parties to “end Hezbollah’s terrorist hegemony over every aspect of the state.”

Also on Sunday, the Maronite Christian patriarch said former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s decision to step back from politics and boycott a parliamentary election in May must not be used as an excuse to call for a delay.

Cardinal Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi said he was surprised by the decision and said he hoped Sunnis would still take part so the election “expresses the position of all Lebanese.”

Hariri’s decision has turned the electoral landscape on its head, adding to the uncertainties facing the country.

“Given the importance of this parliamentary (election), we must all confront attempts to circumvent it,” Al-Rahi said, noting the new parliament would elect President Michel Aoun’s replacement.

Referring to Hariri’s decision, he said “it is not allowed for some to invoke the new reality and promote the postponement of the parliamentary elections.”

He did not say to whom he was referring.

Lebanon’s 2018 election produced a majority for Hezbollah and its allies, who include Aoun. Its adversaries hope to overturn this in May.

Al-Rahi is a critic of Hezbollah, saying it has harmed Lebanon by dragging it into regional conflicts.

While none of Lebanon’s main parties have called for an election delay, many observers believe this may well suit a number of influential players.

Western states want the vote to go ahead on time.

Saad Hariri will leave a fractured Sunni community in his wake.

On Friday, his older brother, Bahaa signaled he was entering politics, saying he would “continue the journey” of his father Rafik Al-Hariri.

Bahaa plans to support candidates but will not be running himself.


Egyptian, Israeli leaders hold talks after Gaza truce

Egyptian, Israeli leaders hold talks after Gaza truce
Updated 11 sec ago

Egyptian, Israeli leaders hold talks after Gaza truce

Egyptian, Israeli leaders hold talks after Gaza truce
  • Yair Lapid thanks Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for Cairo’s mediation

 

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid held talks following Sunday night’s Cairo-brokered truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, where fighting last week left at least 44 Palestinians dead, including 15 children.

During their phone call, El-Sisi said it is crucial to build on the current calm and take immediate steps to improve living conditions in Gaza and support Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Lapid reaffirmed Egypt’s role as a cornerstone for Middle East peace, expressing his gratitude for its effective mediation in recent days.

In a statement, Lapid said he and El-Sisi “talked about the importance of promoting and developing normalization between Israel and the countries of the region and the importance of dialogue for achieving stability in the region.”

They also discussed “important humanitarian issues for the two countries and the continuation of economic cooperation between them.”

The truce ended the worst fighting in Gaza since an 11-day war last year. Israel began its operation by assassinating an Islamic Jihad leader on Friday, and killed another of its leaders on Saturday.


Hezbollah warns Israel against targeting Palestinian militants in Lebanon

Hezbollah warns Israel against targeting Palestinian militants in Lebanon
Updated 53 min 45 sec ago

Hezbollah warns Israel against targeting Palestinian militants in Lebanon

Hezbollah warns Israel against targeting Palestinian militants in Lebanon
  • Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah: ‘Any attack on any human being will not go unpunished or unanswered’
  • Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz hinted at the possible targeting of Islamic Jihad officials abroad

The head of Lebanon’s powerful armed movement Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, warned on Tuesday against any Israeli attempts to expand their targeting of Palestinian militants to Lebanon.
“Any attack on any human being will not go unpunished or unanswered,” Nasrallah said in a televised address marking Ashura, a melancholic commemoration for Shiite Muslims of the killing the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein.
The comments came after a flare-up in violence between Israel and the Islamic Jihad movement in the Gaza strip, prompted by Israel’s arrest of a senior Islamic Jihad leader earlier this month.
On Saturday, Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz hinted at the possible targeting of Islamic Jihad officials abroad, who he said could be seen in “restaurants and hotels in Tehran, Syria and Lebanon.”
“They too will have to pay the price,” Gantz said.
On Monday, a day after a truce brokered by Egypt ended the Gaza violence, he said Israel could carry out “pre-emptive strikes” abroad.
“In the future too, if necessary, we will deliver a pre-emptive strike in order to defend Israel’s citizens, sovereignty and infrastructure and this is true for all fronts, from Teheran to Khan Younis,” he said.
Iran-backed Hezbollah is vehemently opposed to Israel and tensions between the two have been escalating in recent months over a disputed maritime border between Lebanon and Israel.


Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Lebanon mark festival of Ashoura

Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Lebanon mark festival of Ashoura
Updated 09 August 2022

Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Lebanon mark festival of Ashoura

Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Lebanon mark festival of Ashoura
  • The public rituals of Ashoura often fuels sectarian tensions in places like Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan where Islam’s two main sects both reside

BAGHDAD: Shiites in Iraq and Lebanon chanted, paraded and beat their chests on Tuesday as they marked Ashoura, one of the most important dates on the religious calendar, commemorating the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein.
The symbols of Shiite piety and penitence blanketed major cities in Iraq, where Hussein was believed killed at the battle of Karbala, south of Baghdad, in 680 A.D.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people converge on Karbala, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, to observe the solemn holy day.
Shiites see Hussein and his descendants as the rightful heirs to the prophet. His killing at the hands of a rival Muslim faction embodies the rift between the Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam and continues to shape the identity of the minority branch of Islam today.
The public rituals of Ashoura often fuels sectarian tensions in places like Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan where Islam’s two main sects both reside.
Security forces were on high alert for any violence, as extremist groups that consider the Shiites heretics have seized on the occasion to mount attacks in years past.
In Iraq, the powerful cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr has used the emotional religious occasion to stir up support for his movement, deepening the country’s inter-Shiite divisions. Unable to form a government, Iraq descended further into political chaos last week when thousands of Al-Sadr’s supporters stormed and occupied the parliament building. Their sit-in continues outside the assembly, making it impossible for lawmakers to convene and raising the specter of civil strife.
In the Shiite-dominated Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, Al-Sadr’s portrait hangs from nearly every door. Processions of men and boys expressed extreme fervor in the Ashoura rituals of self-flagellation on Tuesday. They beat their heads and chests in unison and whipped themselves with chains to the point of bleeding.
“We inherited this from our fathers and grandfathers,” said participant Hamza Abdul-Jalil. “God willing, we will continue on this path.”
In Lebanon, processions shut down Shiite areas across the country and Beirut’s biggest suburb.


Palestinians say Israel troops kill 3 in West Bank raid

Palestinians say Israel troops kill 3 in West Bank raid
Updated 09 August 2022

Palestinians say Israel troops kill 3 in West Bank raid

Palestinians say Israel troops kill 3 in West Bank raid
  • Last week, Israel arrested Bassam Al-Saadi, a senior militant in the West Bank city of Jenin

JERUSALEM: Israeli troops killed three Palestinians and injured dozens more in a shootout Tuesday during an arrest operation in the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
The shootout came a day after a cease-fire ended three days of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militant group in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli police said forces encircled the home of Ibrahim Al-Nabulsi, who they say was wanted for a string of shootings in the West Bank earlier this year. It confirmed that Al-Nabulsi and another Palestinian militant were killed in a shootout at the scene, and that troops found arms and explosives in his home.
The Israeli military said that troops came under attack from Palestinians throwing rocks and explosives, and that soldiers responded with live fire. It confirmed Palestinians were shot, but did not elaborate on their condition.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said that three people were killed — Al-Nabulsi, Islam Sabouh and Hussein Jamal Taha — and at least 40 others were wounded.
Israel has conducted near nightly arrest raids in the West Bank in recent months as part of a crackdown on Palestinian militant groups in the aftermath of a string of deadly attacks targeting Israelis earlier this year that left 19 people dead. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops during these arrest raids.
Last week, Israel arrested Bassam Al-Saadi, a senior militant in the West Bank city of Jenin, during one of the nightly operations. The group said it was going “on alert,” and on Friday Israel said it had launched a series of strikes on militant targets in the Gaza Strip in response to an “imminent threat” by the militant group.
During the three days of Gaza fighting, at least 46 Palestinians were killed, including 16 children and four women, and 311 were wounded, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. Twelve of those killed were militants, one was from a smaller armed group, and two were Hamas-affiliated policemen who were not taking part in the fighting, according to the armed factions.
Israel estimated that a total of 47 Palestinians were killed, including 14 killed by misfired rockets. It said 20 militants and seven civilians died in Israeli airstrikes and that it was still investigating six deaths.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and the Palestinians seek it as the heartland of their future state. Israel views the West Bank as the biblical and historical heartland of the Jewish people, and has constructed dozens of settlements, now home to over 400,000 Israelis.
The Palestinians and much of the international community consider Israel’s West Bank settlements a violation of international law and an obstacle to a peaceful resolution of the decades-long conflict.


UAE ambassador to Hungary praises Hungarian PM’s statements on rights of children, families 

UAE ambassador to Hungary praises Hungarian PM’s statements on rights of children, families 
Updated 09 August 2022

UAE ambassador to Hungary praises Hungarian PM’s statements on rights of children, families 

UAE ambassador to Hungary praises Hungarian PM’s statements on rights of children, families 

The UAE Ambassador to Hungary, Saud Hamad Al Shamsi, has praised Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s statements on protecting the rights of children and families, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported on Monday. 

The ambassador said Orban’s statements emphasized the role of values and morals in protecting the institution of marriage, strengthening family ties, and upholding children’s right to parental care in an environment in which safety prevails and the integrity of families and society is preserved, WAM said.