Lebanon needs ties with Saudi Arabia and Arab countries, says premier

This handout image provided by the Doha Forum shows Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (L) and Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati attending the Doha Forum in Qatar's capital on March 26, 2022. (AFP)
This handout image provided by the Doha Forum shows Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (L) and Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati attending the Doha Forum in Qatar's capital on March 26, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 27 March 2022

Lebanon needs ties with Saudi Arabia and Arab countries, says premier

This handout image provided by the Doha Forum shows Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (L) and Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati attending the Doha Forum in Qatar's capital on March 26, 2022. (AFP)
  • Beirut politicians condemn cowardly Houthi attack on the Kingdom as an assault on all Arabs

BEIRUT: “Lebanon always needs Arab sponsorship, and (I hope) all the Gulf countries, in particular, will restore ties with Lebanon, which needs its Arab environment to embrace it,” Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said during his visit to the Doha Forum on Saturday.

Mikati met Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani at the forum’s headquarters. His media office said he discussed ties between Lebanon and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Mikati also met his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al-Thani.

In a press conference following the two meetings, Mikati said: “What is meant to be shall be, and Lebanon is meant to always have excellent relations with the Arab countries and the Gulf states. Lebanon is one of the founders of the Arab League and we strongly believe in such ties.”

Lebanon is meant to always have excellent relations with the Arab countries and the Gulf states. Lebanon is one of the founders of the Arab League and we strongly believe in such ties.

Najib Mikati, Lebanese prime minister

Speaking about Lebanon’s diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, Mikati stressed: “It was a summer cloud that passed. God willing, it will entirely fade out with the visits that I will make to the Arab countries, and with the restoration of diplomatic ties between Lebanon and the Gulf states. We need these ties, especially with Saudi Arabia.”

Mikati said that the Emir promised that the Qatari foreign minister would visit Beirut in the coming weeks to personally check Lebanon’s needs.

He talked about the Lebanese government’s efforts to resolve the country’s economic crisis, saying: “The current economic situation is an accumulation of over 30 years’ worth of problems. It cannot be resolved overnight. The government is striving to achieve economic recovery. God willing, we’ll soon get there.”

Mikati said: “The IMF delegation will arrive in Beirut next Tuesday to resume negotiations. The delegation is headed by the IMF chairperson and the next round of negotiations will run for two weeks, after which a preliminary agreement would be signed.

“We have no choice but to cooperate with the IMF to put Lebanon on the path to recovery.”

On the sidelines of the Doha Forum, Mikati met Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and Oman’s Foreign Minister Sayyed Badr Al-Busaidi. He also met with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

In Beirut, Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi denounced the terrorist Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia on Friday, saying: “Targeting the Kingdom’s security is a clear and direct terrorist attack on Arab legitimacy. We always stand by the Kingdom’s side in addressing the challenges facing our common Arab security and in the face of any attack on Saudi sovereignty and security.”

Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian also condemned the Houthi aggression against the Kingdom, calling it “a crime that violates all international and humanitarian laws and norms. The security of Saudi Arabia is part of the security and stability of the Arab region and that of all Arabs and Muslims in the world.”

Derian called for standing in solidarity by Saudi Arabia in repelling the terrorism that the Arab Gulf states are exposed to.

The Future Movement issued a statement condemning the Iranian-backed Houthis for attacking Saudi Arabia and targeting oil and vital facilities and civilian areas.

“This Iranian persistence in carrying out criminal acts goes beyond targeting the Kingdom, posing a threat to regional security and stability. It is a cowardly attack on all Arabs, who are fed up with Iran’s subversive arms. We stand with the Kingdom in confronting such acts, no matter what the challenges and sacrifices may be,” the statement read.

The Future Movement further demanded “the international community to stand firmly behind the Kingdom in confronting Iran, to force it to stop playing with fire and threatening the security, stability and peace of Arab countries, especially in Yemen, which it has turned into a ballistic platform for attacking Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”


France repatriates 35 children, 16 mothers from Syria camps

France repatriates 35 children, 16 mothers from Syria camps
Updated 11 sec ago

France repatriates 35 children, 16 mothers from Syria camps

France repatriates 35 children, 16 mothers from Syria camps
  • Minors were handed over to child protection services while the mothers would face judicial proceedings
PARIS: France has repatriated 35 children and 16 mothers from camps in Syria where family members of suspected Daesh terrorists have been held, the foreign ministry said in Paris.
“France has today undertaken the return to the country of 35 French minors who were in camps in northeast Syria. This operation also includes the return of 16 mothers from these same camps,” a statement said, adding that the minors were handed over to child protection services while the mothers would face judicial proceedings.

Israeli PM to press France on Iran, warn Hezbollah ‘playing with fire’

Israeli PM to press France on Iran, warn Hezbollah ‘playing with fire’
Updated 05 July 2022

Israeli PM to press France on Iran, warn Hezbollah ‘playing with fire’

Israeli PM to press France on Iran, warn Hezbollah ‘playing with fire’
  • France is among world powers trying to revive a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran
  • Iran has itself been in breach of the deal, ramping up projects with bomb-making potential

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid will press French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday for a tougher and time-limited tack on the Iranian nuclear negotiations, and warn that the Tehran-backed Hezbollah group is “playing with fire,” an official said.
Lapid’s visit to France, his first abroad since becoming caretaker premier last week, is also a chance to flex diplomatic muscles as Israelis gear up for a snap election in November.
France is among world powers trying to revive a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that the previous US administration quit and which Israel opposed, deeming its caps insufficient.
As Lebanon’s former colonial administrator, France has additional clout in Beirut — whose economic crisis-hit leaders were jarred on Saturday when Israel shot down three Hezbollah drones launched toward one of its Mediterranean gas rigs.
“The French are very, very active on the Iranian issue,” a senior Israeli official told reporters.
“It is important for us to make our case ... Israel opposes a return to the JCPOA (2015 nuclear deal). In the same breath, we do not oppose a deal. We seek a very strong deal.”
Israel is not a party to the nuclear negotiations. But Western capitals have been attentive to its worries about its arch-enemy and worried it might take preemptive military action if it deems diplomacy a dead end.
Since the US walkout, Iran has itself been in breach of the deal, ramping up projects with bomb-making potential — though it denies having such designs. Its technical advancements have set a ticking clock on the so-far fruitless negotiations.
“We want an end to the unending talks,” said the senior Israeli official, calling for “coordinated pressure” on Iran and offering help on “drafting an appropriate framework” for that.
Israel has de facto front with Iran in Lebanon, home to Hezbollah. The senior Israeli official, alluding to Saturday’s shoot-downs, accused the group of “playing with fire.”
The official declined to elaborate on that warning, but said Lapid would share with Macron “new material explaining how Hezbollah is endangering Lebanon.”
Hezbollah and Israel fought a war across Lebanon’s border in 2006 but have been in a largely stable standoff since.
The Karish rig near Lebanon’s coast will produce gas not only for Israel, but eventually also for the European Union, the official said, tapping into EU countries’ quest to replace Russia as an energy supplier since it invaded Ukraine.


Egypt FM in London to inaugurate partnership council

Egypt FM in London to inaugurate partnership council
Updated 04 July 2022

Egypt FM in London to inaugurate partnership council

Egypt FM in London to inaugurate partnership council

CAIRO: Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry headed to London to inaugurate the first partnership council between his country and the UK.

The council will be co-chaired by Shoukry and British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. It will include political consultations and discussions on economic and trade issues, with the participation of British Trade Policy Minister Penny Mordaunt.

A spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said the launch of the council comes in light of strengthening cooperation between the two countries in various fields.

While in London, Shoukry met with Lord Tariq Ahmad, British minister for South Asia, North Africa, the UN and the Commonwealth, to discuss bilateral relations.


Woman stabbed by husband in front of court in Jordan

Woman stabbed by husband in front of court in Jordan
Updated 04 July 2022

Woman stabbed by husband in front of court in Jordan

Woman stabbed by husband in front of court in Jordan
  • The woman, who was rushed to the hospital and admitted to the intensive care unit, was listed in fair condition.

AMMAN: A woman was stabbed by her husband in a public street in Karak in front of the Karak Sharia Court on Monday, according to a Jordanian security source.

The unidentified man pulled out a knife and stabbed his wife in the back, chest and right hand, according to a source at Al Karak Public Hospital.

She was rushed to the hospital shortly after and admitted to the intensive care unit. She was described as in fair condition.

The attacker has since been apprehended, and police are currently investigating the incident.

According to eyewitnesses, family disputes between the couple led them to review the case at Sharia court before the situation escalated and the husband attacked the victim.

Following the death of 18-year-old Iman Ersheid, who was shot dead on campus, public outrage in Jordan has fueled calls for the death penalty to be enforced in such cases.

Last week, the High Criminal Court in Jordan sentenced a 50-year-old to death for stabbing his ex-wife before the Northern "Rusaifa" Sharia Court in a similar incident.


US offers cash rewards to curb Iran smuggling

US offers cash rewards to curb Iran smuggling
Updated 05 July 2022

US offers cash rewards to curb Iran smuggling

US offers cash rewards to curb Iran smuggling
  • Navy targets weapons and drugs in Arabian Gulf and Red Sea

JEDDAH: The US Navy is offering cash rewards of up to $100,000 for information leading to the interception of smuggled weapons and narcotics in the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea.

The initiative by the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet does not directly name Iran but analysts said it was clearly aimed at curbing the flow of Iranian arms to the Houthi militia in Yemen and restricting the lucrative regional drugs trade operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“Any destabilizing activity has our attention,” 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins said. “Definitely we have seen in the last year skyrocketing success in seizing both illegal narcotics and illicit weapons. This represents another step in our effort to enhance regional maritime security.”
Operators fluent in Arabic, English and Farsi will staff a phone hotline, and the Navy will also take tips online in Dari and Pashto. Payouts can be as high as $100,000 or the equivalent in vehicles, boats or food for tips that include information on planned attacks targeting Americans.
Asked whether new seizures could increase tensions with Iran, Hawkins listed the weapons and drugs the Navy hoped to intercept under the program. “That’s what we’re after,” he said. “That’s not in the interest of regional stability and security.”

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The fleet and its allies seized $500 million in drugs alone in 2021, more than the four previous years combined, and intercepted the shipment of 9,000 weapons, three times the number in 2020.
Despite a UN Security Council arms embargo on Yemen, Tehran has long been transferring rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, missiles and other weapons to the Houthis in Yemen. UN experts have examined missiles aimed at civilian targets and oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and traced the components back to Iran.
The rewards program is the latest initiative under 5th Fleet Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, who also launched a drone task force last year amid rising tension with Iran. The US Navy and Revolutionary Guard naval forces have had several encounters in the Strait of Hormuz.
The Houthis said last week they were monitoring increased US activity in the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf.“Because of this, defense and confrontation options are open,” a spokesman said.