Lebanese caretaker energy minister says ‘politics’ behind delay of US-backed electricity plan

Lebanese caretaker energy minister says ‘politics’ behind delay of US-backed electricity plan
Walid Fayad, Lebanon’s caretaker energy minister, is pictured before the start of the MENA Europe Future Energy Dialogue conference, at the Dead Sea, Jordan on Wednesday. (Reuters)
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Updated 08 June 2022

Lebanese caretaker energy minister says ‘politics’ behind delay of US-backed electricity plan

Lebanese caretaker energy minister says ‘politics’ behind delay of US-backed electricity plan
  • Walid Fayad told Reuters that the World Bank, which had pledged to finance the project, was "tying it to some kind of political diligence,"
  • The United States had demanded to "see the financing terms from the World Bank" to ensure that the electricity deal "is not sanctionable,"

AMMAN: Lebanon’s caretaker energy minister said on Wednesday “politics” was behind the delay of a US-backed deal to supply his country with electricity from Jordan via Syrian territory to ease crippling power shortages.
Walid Fayad told Reuters that the World Bank, which had pledged to finance the project, was “tying it to some kind of political diligence,” alluding to external considerations without getting into specifics.
Speaking on the sidelines of an energy conference in the Jordanian capital, Fayad said the World Bank was also “adding more conditions although they were clear at the start.”
Fayad said the United States had demanded to “see the financing terms from the World Bank” to ensure that the electricity deal “is not sanctionable,” even though Washington had told Beirut in January not to fear sanctions over its regional energy supply plans.
A US State Department source said that the US was requesting details of transactions, including final financing as contracts, to review for sanctions compliance as part of Washington’s OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) process, which administers a number of different sanctions programs. The source said this was part of standard government procedures.
The United States enacted the Caesar Act in 2019 allowing it to freeze assets of anyone dealing with Syria, with the aim of forcing President Bashar Assad to stop his war with opposition forces and agree a political solution.
Lebanon and Jordan signed a deal in Beirut last January to ease chronic Lebanese power outages by transmitting about 400 megawatts (MW) of electricity across Syrian territory.
Fayad said the delay would worsen shortages as Lebanon enters its summer season, with higher energy demand and an influx of tourists.
The Lebanese-Jordanian agreement is part of a wider plan that also aims to pump Egyptian gas to a power station in northern Lebanon via a pipeline that runs through Jordan and Syria.
The agreement with Egypt has yet to be signed.
“There is no delay but an important milestone that we need to get through is the American approval plus the financing from the World Bank,” Egyptian Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla told Reuters at the conference in Amman.
Lebanon has suffered power outages dating to its 1975-90 civil war, which ravaged the electricity infrastructure and left many families relying on private generators.
A World Bank spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.


Palestinian killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry

Palestinian killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry
Updated 6 sec ago

Palestinian killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry

Palestinian killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry
  • Israeli military say soldiers came under fire during a raid in the town
  • Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories Presse: A Palestinian man was killed Friday by Israeli forces during a raid in the north of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.
Salah Sawafta, 58, “died of critical wounds, sustained by live bullets from the occupation (Israeli military) in the head, in Tubas this morning,” a ministry statement said.
The Israeli military said soldiers came under fire during a raid in the town.
During an operation in “Tubas, several suspects hurled Molotov cocktails and opened fire at (Israeli) troops, who responded with fire,” the army said in a statement, adding “hits were identified.”
The mayor of Tubas, Hossam Daraghmeh, said Sawafta had been leaving dawn prayers when he was shot.
“He left the mosque and was heading to his house wearing a prayer robe. There was a vengeful soldier stationed in a building near the municipality who shot him in the head,” he said.
Daraghmeh said Sawafta had been unarmed when he was hit.
“This man did not have a stone or anything in his hand,” he said.
The Israeli military said five people were detained in overnight raids across the West Bank.
On Thursday, a 20-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli troops during clashes in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967, when it seized the territory from Jordan.

Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: civil defense

Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: civil defense
Updated 52 sec ago

Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: civil defense

Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: civil defense
Algiers: Wildfires, which killed at least 38 people and left a trail of destruction in eastern Algeria this week, are now under control, a civil defense official told AFP on Friday.
“All of the fires have been completely brought under control,” said fire brigade Col. Farouk Achour, of the civil defense department.
Since the beginning of August, almost 150 blazes have destroyed hundreds of hectares (acres) of forest in Africa’s largest country.
Deadly fires have become an annual scourge in Algeria, where climate change has turned large areas of forest into a tinderbox in the blistering summer months.
The justice ministry launched an inquiry after Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud suggested some of the fires were started deliberately, and authorities on Thursday announced four arrests of suspected arsonists.
Authorities have been accused of being ill-prepared, with few firefighting aircraft available despite record casualties in last year’s blazes and a cash windfall from gas exports with global energy prices soaring.

UAE’s foreign aid over past year totalled $3.5 billion

UAE’s foreign aid over past year totalled $3.5 billion
Updated 57 min 25 sec ago

UAE’s foreign aid over past year totalled $3.5 billion

UAE’s foreign aid over past year totalled $3.5 billion

DUBAI: The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC), said on Thursday that the total value of foreign aid provided by the UAE from the start of 2021 to mid-August 2022 amounted to some $3.5 billion.
While Yemen accounted for most of the Emirati foreign aid with over $315 million, the list also included several Arab, Asian and Western countries, state news agency WAM reported.
A range of sectors and programmes received aid from the UAE, including public and health sectors, social services, and education.
Programmes aimed at supporting peace and security received over $74 million, and the water and public health services sectors received $72 million, government and civil society initiatives received nearly $60 million, and services that support the energy sector received some $57 million, and initiatives aimed at supporting the agriculture sector received over $50 million.


Iraq security forces thwart Daesh attack in Kirkuk

Iraq security forces thwart Daesh attack in Kirkuk
Updated 19 August 2022

Iraq security forces thwart Daesh attack in Kirkuk

Iraq security forces thwart Daesh attack in Kirkuk

DUBAI: Security forces have thwarted a Daesh attack in the northern Iraqi region of Kirkuk.

“A group of ISIS remnants attacked a security point in the village of Khabaza, affiliated to Hawija district, southwest of Kirkuk, before they were confronted by a force from the 61st Brigade of the Popular Mobilization,” the Popular Mobilization Forces said in a statement carried by state media Iraqi News Agency.

“One of the brigade’s fighters was shot during the attack, and the point was reinforced strongly from the brigade’s headquarters and from its third regiment,” the statement added.

Iraqi security forces have undertaken extensive operations against Daesh to prevent their resurgence since declaring their defeat in 2017.

Iraqi anti-terror resistance groups have repeatedly warned that remnants of Daesh active in Syria’s east may find unhindered access to the Iraqi border and infiltrate the country to conduct militant activities.


Kuwait and US officials discuss bilateral ties

Kuwait and US officials discuss bilateral ties
Updated 19 August 2022

Kuwait and US officials discuss bilateral ties

Kuwait and US officials discuss bilateral ties

Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister, Ambassador Majid Al-Dhafiri, met with Charge d’Affairs of the US Embassy in Kuwait Jim Holtsnider, state news agency (KUNA) reported.

During the meeting, both officials discussed bilateral relations and reviewed the latest regional and global developments of common interest.