Lebanese PM: ‘We insist on neutrality in Arab conflicts’

Special Lebanese PM: ‘We insist on neutrality in Arab conflicts’
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Arab ministers with the award winners. (Supplied)
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Updated 26 February 2022

Lebanese PM: ‘We insist on neutrality in Arab conflicts’

Lebanese PM: ‘We insist on neutrality in Arab conflicts’
  • Mikati tells Arab Justice Ministers: ‘Do not burden Lebanon with what it cannot handle’
  • Arab League secretary-general praises Lebanon as ‘a beacon of knowledge’

BEIRUT: Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit has praised Lebanon as “a beacon of knowledge that spares no effort in backing every activity that enriches joint Arab action.”

Aboul Gheit was speaking on Saturday at a ceremony held by the Council of Arab Justice Ministers in Beirut for Arab doctoral thesis award winners in the field of law and justice.

His remarks came after comments by Lebanon Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who said at the ceremony: “We expect our Arab brothers to understand our reality and stand by us to spare Lebanon more risks and help us bear the burdens that have exceeded our capabilities.

“Lebanon, which was and will remain part of the Arab world, is experiencing an unprecedented crisis, and our government is trying to solve it with all available capabilities, relying on the support of its Arab brothers and international friends,” Mikati added.

“It is unfair to burden Lebanon with more than it can handle,” the prime minister said.

Mikati added: “We are unable to stand in a trench here or on a front line there. We have thus adopted a neutrality policy when it comes to Arab conflicts, and we insist on implementing it.”

He said that the only loser in any regional dispute “is our Arab world, which has always been seeking unity.”

The prime minister added that Lebanon’s “bitter experience has taught it that fighting leads nowhere and everyone comes out a loser.”

He said: “The homeland loses and the people lose. Whoever thinks they can win against their Arab partner is wrong.

“Victory can only be achieved through understanding, looking after future generations, and charting a future that fulfills their ambitions.”

Aboul Gheit added during his speech that Arab universities are still experiencing “low rankings worldwide due to their lack of innovation and seriousness in scientific research, and the dwindling volume of scientific publications.”

He highlighted the need to “recover from this shortfall by increasing the budget for scientific research, providing opportunities for the youth, preparing them to face modern challenges and allowing them access to equal opportunities to compete with other societies.”

The awards were first proposed during the 35th session of the Council of Arab Ministers of Justice in 2019, and were promoted by the council’s Arab Center for Legal and Judicial Research to support scientific research, targeting a category of Ph.D. holders in law and justice.

Jury representative and former Lebanese justice minister Ibrahim Najjar said: “It was not easy to choose the best thesis out of hundreds that tackled various topics from all over the Arab world. This diversity shows that we can be open to different cultures and adapt to how the world is constantly developing.”

Lebanese Justice Minister Henry Khoury said that the awards, which will take place every two years, aim to “encourage applied comparative studies that deal with real issues in Arab law and justice, direct studies toward serving national needs in these fields, as well as strengthen legal and judicial studies, and raise institutional awareness in this regard.”

Algerian Justice Minister Abdul Rashid Tabbi, who was present at the ceremony, said: “The interest researchers from various universities in the Arab world expressed in the award is the beginning of an Arab scientific rapprochement between the peoples of the Arab world, and it will pave the way for other such opportunities.”

The ceremony awarded first prize to Amina Kab, second to Mohammed Mohammed Hussein and third to Safiyan Abdali.

Khoury and Tabbi signed two agreements on the sidelines of the event. The first covers judicial cooperation between Lebanon and Algeria on penal policies, while the second aims to prosecute convicts and extradite detainees between the two countries.

Tabbi said that the agreements “are the best mechanism for confronting the evasion of criminal accountability, and by signing them, we will establish for both our countries a comprehensive framework that will protect them from criminal threats.”

Meanwhile, an Iranian delegation, led by Culture and Guidance Minister Mahdi Ismaili, arrived in Beirut to inaugurate “Days of Cultural Dawn” activities in Lebanon.

The activities are scheduled to be held at the Hezbollah-affiliated Resalat Theater in south Beirut, at the UNESCO Palace in the capital and at the International Center for Dialogue of Civilizations in Rabweh.

They include a musical evening by the Rudaki National Iranian Orchestra, a craft exhibition, a symposium on cultural pluralism, a film screening, and poetry and folklore evenings.


UAE to host global conference on falconry

UAE to host global conference on falconry
Updated 12 sec ago

UAE to host global conference on falconry

UAE to host global conference on falconry
  • Emirates Falconers Club organizes conference on role of local communities in heritage preservation
  • Event aims to bring together UAE-based experts, researchers and participants to promote sustainable use

ABU DHABI: Emirates Falconers Club hosts on Monday a global conference on the role of indigenous people and local communities in linking intangible cultural heritage and wildlife conservation.
Based on the theme, “Sustainability and Heritage . . . A Reborn Aspiration,” the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center welcomes 24 young falconers (aged 18 to 30), representing 24 countries, to participate in the conference between Sept. 26 and Oct. 2, the Emirates News Agency reported.
Emirates Falconers Club is organizing the conference in cooperation with the International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey (IAF), UNESCO and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Chairman of the conference’s higher organizing committee, Majid Ali Al-Mansouri, and secretary-general of Emirates Falconers Club, said that the event aims to bring together UAE-based experts, researchers and participants to promote sustainable use, which plays a pivotal role in preserving the environment.
The seven-day conference will highlight IUCN’s role and establish a link with the UNESCO Commission on Intangible Cultural Heritage to make use of communities’ readiness to support heritage and environment preservation efforts.
Encouraging communications between falconers and indigenous people and local communities, and promoting falconry and correcting misinformation about it, will be among the conference’s main goals.
The event also aims to encourage cultural approaches to restore ecosystems through sustainable use, recognize the role of falconry as an important heritage in local and indigenous communities, as well as the leading role falconers can play in achieving heritage conservation and preservation goals.
The conference will outline the role of the IAF in promoting the legal practice of falconry and focus on conservation portals and student education projects through cooperation with schools, and the International Falconry Festival, highlighting the UAE’s commitment to preserving and promoting falconry around the world.


Egyptians in online bid to save child with rare illness

Egyptians in online bid to save child with rare illness
Updated 28 min 11 sec ago

Egyptians in online bid to save child with rare illness

Egyptians in online bid to save child with rare illness
  • Twitter hashtag #Save_Celine is trending in the country, with calls to raise $2 million
  • “We have resorted to opening the door for donations in coordination with the Ministry of Social Solidarity,” Celine’s father told Arab News

CAIRO: Egyptians have come together to raise funds online for a baby girl suffering from a rare life-threatening disease.
Celine, who is 15 months old, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy four months ago.
The genetic condition makes the muscles weaker, and causes increasing problems with movement and breathing.
The Twitter hashtag #Save_Celine is trending in the country, with calls to raise 40 million Egyptian pounds ($2 million) to pay for expensive gene therapy medication via a Zolgensma injection.
The hashtag has been used over 100,000 times as people call for contributions to support the girl.
Similar campaigns were organized in the past for other children suffering from the same disease.
“We have resorted to opening the door for donations in coordination with the Ministry of Social Solidarity. So far, we have collected about EGP12 million for the injection,” Celine’s father told Arab News.
Ramy Elhamy, who takes part in campaigns to help sick children, told Arab News: “The injection that Celine needs is the first gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy caused by genetic changes, and gained the approval of the US Food and Drug Administration in 2019.
“It is the most expensive injection in the world, which helps treat respiratory functions and gradually puts the child on the path of normal growth. It is followed by physiotherapy and pulmonary rehabilitation.
“We launched the campaign to save Celine after the success of such campaigns for other children who had the same rare disease. We knocked on all doors to save the child, and many responded to our calls.”
Egyptian actor Mohamed Henedy shared a photo of the child with the caption: “This honey is called Celine. She suffers from a very rare disease and her condition is starting to worsen. The coming days can save Celine’s life. If you don’t know how to donate, share the hashtag, and retweet and write about Celine on your account.”
He added: “This is the simplest thing that you can offer because others can donate. All Egyptians have gathered and saved the life of Ruqayya and the life of the twins Alia and Farida, and now it is our turn, with pleasure, that we are helping Celine.”
Another actor, Ahmed Safwat, joined the donation campaign to highlight the significance of social solidarity and the ability of Egyptians to achieve this goal, as they previously did with other children.
Media personality Esaad Younis hosted Celine’s mother, Radwa Hamdi, on her program to appeal for donations.
Earlier, Hamdi had asked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for help, saying: “I am pleading with you. I know that the injection is expensive, but surely the life of my daughter and your daughter is more expensive. We are asking the state to help Celine take the Zolgensma injection, even if in turn it will take all our salaries. She is all I have.”


Israeli troops kill Palestinian after alleged car-ramming

Israeli troops kill Palestinian after alleged car-ramming
Updated 24 September 2022

Israeli troops kill Palestinian after alleged car-ramming

Israeli troops kill Palestinian after alleged car-ramming
  • The military said the soldiers opened fire when the motorist tried to run them over
  • Israeli media said the driver was killed

JERUSALEM : Israeli troops on Saturday shot and killed a Palestinian motorist who allegedly tried to ram his car into a group of soldiers patrolling in the occupied West Bank, according to Israeli soldiers and media.
The incident took place near the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank — the focal point of the deadliest Israeli-Palestinian violence in the occupied territory since 2016.
In a brief statement, the military said the soldiers opened fire when the motorist tried to run them over. Israeli media said the driver was killed. There was no way to immediately verify the account.
Palestinian assailants have carried out dozens of attempted stabbings and car rammings in recent years. But Palestinians and human rights groups say that Israeli troops often use excessive force, and in some cases, have shot people who did not pose a threat.
Israeli troops have been carrying out stepped-up activity in the northern West Bank since a series of deadly Palestinian attacks inside Israel last spring. Several attackers came from the area.
Some 90 Palestinians have been killed in the crackdown. Israel says many were militants or local youths who hurled stones and firebombs at troops, though several civilians have also died.
Early this week, Palestinian security forces, which coordinate activity with Israel, clashed with Palestinian youths in Nablus. The incident cast a spotlight on the growing ranks of Palestinian youths who see no end in sight to Israel’s 55-year military occupation and view the Palestinian Authority as a vehicle of corruption and collaboration with Israel.
Israeli officials say they are on heightened alert for violence ahead of the Jewish new year, which begins Sunday night.


Kurdish protesters rally in Irbil over Mahsa Amini’s death

Kurdish protesters rally in Irbil over Mahsa Amini’s death
Updated 24 September 2022

Kurdish protesters rally in Irbil over Mahsa Amini’s death

Kurdish protesters rally in Irbil over Mahsa Amini’s death
  • Protestors carrying placards with Amini's photograph gathered outside the UN compound in Erbil chanting "Death to the dictator"
  • "Women, Life, Freedom" chanted others

IRBIL, Iraq: Dozens of Iraqi and Iranian Kurds rallied in Iraq’s northern city of Irbil on Saturday over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who died in the custody of Iranian police.
Protesters carrying placards with Amini’s photograph gathered outside the United Nations compound in Irbil chanting “Death to the dictator” — a reference to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“Women, Life, Freedom” chanted others, many of whom were Iranian Kurds living in self-imposed exile in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq.
Protests broke out in northwestern Iran a week ago at the funeral of Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died after falling into a coma following her detention by morality police enforcing hijab rules on women’s dress.
“They killed (Amini) because of a piece of hair coming out from her hijab. The youth is asking for freedom. They are asking for rights for all the people because everyone has the right to have dignity and freedom,” said protester Namam Ismaili, an Iranian Kurd from Sardasht, a Kurdish town in Iran’s northwest.
Amini’s death has reignited anger over issues including restrictions on personal freedoms in Iran, the strict dress codes for women and an economy reeling from sanctions.
“We are not against religion, and we are not against Islam, we are secularists, and we want religion to be separate from politics,” said protester Maysoon Majidi, who is a Kurdish Iranian actor and director living in Irbil.


Iran regrets Ukraine’s downgrading of ties over drones

Iran regrets Ukraine’s downgrading of ties over drones
Updated 24 September 2022

Iran regrets Ukraine’s downgrading of ties over drones

Iran regrets Ukraine’s downgrading of ties over drones
  • Ukraine said on Friday that it would downgrade diplomatic ties with Iran over Tehran’s decision to supply Russian forces with drones

Iran regrets Ukraine’s decision to downgrade ties over the reported supply of Iranian drones to Russia, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson said on Saturday.
Nasser Kanaani said Ukraine should “refrain from being influenced by third parties who seek to destroy relations between the two countries,” a ministry statement said.
Ukraine said on Friday that it would downgrade diplomatic ties with Iran over Tehran’s decision to supply Russian forces with drones, a move President Volodymyr Zelensky called “a collaboration with evil.”
Kanaani said Ukraine’s decision was “based on unconfirmed reports and resulted from a media hype by foreign parties.”
Military authorities in southern Ukraine said on Saturday they had shot down at least seven Iranian drones, including six Shahed-136 “kamikaze” craft over the sea near the ports of Odesa and Pivdennyi on Friday.
These included — for the first time in Ukraine — a MoHajjer-6, a larger Iranian drone, the southern military command said.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in an English language tweet on Saturday that Iran was supporting Russia “by giving modern drones to (a) backward country for the murders of Ukrainians.”