US mediator to be informed of unified Lebanese stance on maritime rights

US mediator to be informed of unified Lebanese stance on maritime rights
Lebanon’s caretaker Energy Minister Walid Fayad, gestures as he meets with US senior adviser for energy security Amos Hochstein in Beirut on Monday. (Reuters)
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Updated 13 June 2022

US mediator to be informed of unified Lebanese stance on maritime rights

US mediator to be informed of unified Lebanese stance on maritime rights
  • Tensions mount amid dispute over drilling between Lebanon and neighbor Israel

BEIRUT: On Monday, a few hours before the arrival of Amos Hochstein, the US mediator in the indirect negotiations to demarcate the maritime borders between Lebanon and Israel, President Michel Aoun confirmed to the UN Special Coordinator in Lebanon Joanna Wronecka that the “Lebanese side will inform Hochstein of a unified stance regarding the proposals to resume these negotiations that preserve Lebanon’s rights.”

Talks between the two neighbors stopped after Israel rejected a Lebanese proposal to consider Line 29 as a negotiating line, and after the Lebanese rejected the Israeli Line 1 and Hof Line proposals.

Wronecka expressed the willingness of the UN to contribute to resuming the negotiations, praising the “wisdom of President Aoun and his role in this critical period of the history of Lebanon.”

The president told a delegation of lawmakers: “(Israel) is acting contrary to international laws and resolutions, taking advantage of the silence of the international community regarding its violations of the UN Security Council resolutions.”

Aoun denied “any connection between the demarcation negotiations and the issue of leasing gas and electricity from Egypt and Jordan, or the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.”

The president added that “drilling in Block 1 stopped due to unconvincing reasons presented by the drilling company,” noting that “there were international pressures on it to prevent it from continuing to drill.”

He said he would lead the negotiations, and “upon reaching an agreement the Council of Ministers will have to approve it and refer it to Parliament according to the procedures, which is something that did not occur with Line 29.”

Reports circulating in Lebanon suggest that Hochstein had already sent a proposal to the Lebanese government last March to demarcate the maritime borders based on drawing Line 23 in a zigzag in order to give Lebanon the whole of the Qana field.

The delegation Aoun addressed had asked him to swiftly amend decree 6433, issued in 2011, which adopted Line 23 as the base to start negotiations with Israel to demarcate the maritime borders, and to send it to the international agencies according to the rules, in order to fix Line 29 as the border line with Israel, giving Lebanon an additional area of 1,430 square kilometers according to a study by the Lebanese Army.

Lebanon invited Hochstein to Beirut against the backdrop of the arrival of the Energean liquified natural gas production unit to Karish field, in the disputed maritime area between Lebanon and Israel.

Lebanon wishes to “continue the indirect Lebanese-Israeli negotiations to demarcate the maritime borders as soon as possible, in order to prevent any escalation that could jeopardize stability in the region.”

Gen. Joseph Aoun confirmed on Monday during a meeting with officers of the General Staff that “the army’s mission regarding demarcation of the maritime borders was concluded upon the end of its technical mission,” adding that he stands “behind the political authority in any decision that it takes.”

On Sunday, Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Force Aviv Kochavi threatened to create “a border belt of fire on the border villages of south Lebanon and massive destruction in the whole country if war breaks out.”

This declaration came against the backdrop of a hardened stance by Hezbollah over the past few days, based over fears Israel might start drilling in the disputed Karish field.

Coinciding with the arrival of the US mediator to Lebanon, UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti confirmed that a UNIFIL patrol was intercepted on Sunday by a group of villagers.

Tenenti said that “our patrols always perform their duties without interceptions or threats except in rare cases, and this is not the first time that our forces become subject to an aggression attempt.”

The interception, which is the fourth this year for UNIFIL units, targeted a Spanish patrol that was carrying out a routine activity in its zone of deployment in the eastern sector, south of the Litani river.


Lebanese parliament fails to elect new head of state

Lebanese parliament fails to elect new head of state
Updated 20 min 32 sec ago

Lebanese parliament fails to elect new head of state

Lebanese parliament fails to elect new head of state
  • Michel Aoun’s mandate runs out at the end of October
  • No candidate has emerged as a front-runner among the hopefuls

BEIRUT: The Lebanese parliament failed to elect a new head of state on Thursday to replace President Michel Aoun when his term ends on Oct. 31, and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said he would call another session when consensus emerged on a candidate.

The bulk of votes cast by lawmakers at Thursday’s session — 63 — were blank. Christian politician Michel Moawad won the backing of 36 of 122 lawmakers who attended.

Unless consensus emerges on a candidate, the presidency looks set to fall vacant when Aoun’s term ends, at a time of deep financial crisis.

Reserved for a Maronite Christian in Lebanon’s sectarian system, the presidency has fallen vacant several times since the 1975-90 civil war.

Anticipating a presidential vacuum, politicians have stepped up efforts to agree a new cabinet led by the Sunni Muslim Prime Minister Najib Mikati — who is currently serving in a caretaker capacity — to which presidential powers could pass until a president can be agreed.


Rockets hit central Baghdad for second day in escalating unrest

Rockets hit central Baghdad for second day in escalating unrest
Updated 29 September 2022

Rockets hit central Baghdad for second day in escalating unrest

Rockets hit central Baghdad for second day in escalating unrest
  • A similar attack on Wednesday wounded seven members of the Iraqi security forces in the Green Zone

BAGHDAD: Four rockets fired from eastern Baghdad on Thursday landed around the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone, home to government buildings and foreign missions, police said, as political unrest intensified.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from the strikes and no claim of responsibility, two police officers said. A number of Shiite Muslim militant groups have offices and supporters in eastern Baghdad.
A similar attack on Wednesday wounded seven members of the Iraqi security forces in the Green Zone, and appeared to add a new dimension to a contest among power-hungry politicians.
Rocket attacks on the Green Zone have been regular in recent years but they are normally directed at Western targets by Iran-backed militia groups.
Those attacks have been rare in recent months. Wednesday’s attack took place as parliament was holding a vote to confirm its speaker.
The political crisis has left Iraq without a government for nearly a year after elections last October.
The crisis broadly pits the powerful populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, a political, religious and militia leader, against an array of mostly Iran-aligned political and militant groups.
Sadr, the biggest winner of the election, withdrew all his lawmakers from parliament in June and has sworn not to let parliament convene, fearing other parties will form a government without him.
The standoff spiralled into street clashes killing dozens of people in central Baghdad in August. Many Iraqis fear the same could happen again.


Kuwait’s military receives third batch of Eurofighter Typhoon jets

Kuwait’s military receives third batch of Eurofighter Typhoon jets
Updated 29 September 2022

Kuwait’s military receives third batch of Eurofighter Typhoon jets

Kuwait’s military receives third batch of Eurofighter Typhoon jets
  • Eurofighter Typhoon fleet aims to enhance the combat readiness of the Kuwait Air Force

DUBAI: Kuwait’s military said it received two more Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 3 jets, making it the third batch out of a total of 28 aircraft the country has ordered, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported.
The jets, one of the latest multi-role fighters, characterized by electronic warfare and high-speed response capabilities, aim to enhance the combat readiness of the Kuwait Air Force, the air force said in a statement.
The jets that Kuwait has received so far have achieved 100 flying hours, the statement added.
A ceremony was held at the Ali Al-Salem Al-Sabah Air Base to mark the aircraft’s landing, according to KUNA.


Yemen condemns attacks by Iran on Iraq’s Kurdistan region

Yemen condemns attacks by Iran on Iraq’s Kurdistan region
Updated 28 min 15 sec ago

Yemen condemns attacks by Iran on Iraq’s Kurdistan region

Yemen condemns attacks by Iran on Iraq’s Kurdistan region
  • Iraq’s state agency reported 58 injuries as a result of the attacks

DUBAI: Yemen’s government has condemned the attacks carried out by Iran on Iraq’s Kurdistan region, which has seen 13 reported deaths.

Yemen has accused Iran of targeting ‘security and stability in the region in a miserable attempt to create an external crisis for internal reasons’, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement released on state agency SABA.
It also said the Iranian regime ‘seeks to veer attention off the renewing revolution’ by the Iranian people against the government in Tehran.
“In this regard, the Yemeni government is following with great concern the excessive use of force and brutal repression by the Iranian regime against the brotherly Iranian people, and affirms its support for the people and their aspirations to achieve their legitimate rights to freedom, dignity and equal citizenship,” the statement added.
Iraq’s state agency reported 58 injuries as a result of the attacks, which occurred near Irbil and Sulaimaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Iran launched the attacks after the country’s authorities accused armed Iranian Kurdish dissidents of being involved in the unrest currently shaking the country, especially in the northwest.


Former Iranian president Rafsanjani’s daughter arrested for ‘inciting riots’

Former Iranian president Rafsanjani’s daughter arrested for ‘inciting riots’
Updated 27 min 56 sec ago

Former Iranian president Rafsanjani’s daughter arrested for ‘inciting riots’

Former Iranian president Rafsanjani’s daughter arrested for ‘inciting riots’
  • Iranian government had been referring to the protests as ‘riots’ and ‘sedition’ to suppress them

DUBAI: Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has been arrested in Tehran by security forces for ‘inciting riots’ that were triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while on police custody.

Before her arrest, Hashemi had said that the Iranian government has been referring to the protests for the past days as ‘riots’ and ‘sedition’ to suppress them, was used as the basis for her detention, news website Radio Farda reported.

Amini, who is Kurdish, was visiting Tehran with her family to visit relatives when she was accosted by the notorious morality police for allegedly breaching Iran’s strict dress code – including wearing of the hijab or head covering – and eventually arrested.

Her relatives claimed the beatings Amini received from the morality police, including a violent blow to the head that caused her death.

“What [authorities] want to convey is that these are not protests, they’re riots, but in fact they are protests,” Radio Farda quoted Hashemi in an audio recording it obtained.

“Those who have seen the protests know that, for example, if the youth set fire to garbage cans, it’s because the [security forces] have used tear gas and they want to neutralize it; or when they beat a member of the security forces it’s because they have been attacked and they’re defending themselves,” she said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of academics issued an open letter urging feminist communities to join them in building transnational solidarity with women and marginalized groups in Iran.

The letter was signed by academics including those from universities in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia who said that the death of Amini was ‘among many other state murders committed systemically and purposefully by the gender-apartheid regime of Iran.’

“This country-wide revolt is against not only the brutal murder of Mahsa but also the essence of the Islamic regime,” the letter said. “The demand is loud and clear: an end to a theocratic regime whose multi-faceted violence against marginalized bodies is manifested in Mahsa’s death.”