US Treasury offers $10 million for information on Hezbollah officials

US Treasury offers $10 million for information on Hezbollah officials
Founded in 1982 by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and designated by the US and other Western countries as a “terrorist organization,” Hezbollah is a powerful group in Lebanon. (AFP)
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Updated 20 June 2022

US Treasury offers $10 million for information on Hezbollah officials

US Treasury offers $10 million for information on Hezbollah officials
  • The designation of Hadwan and Al-Shaer forms part of the wider US crackdown on Hezbollah

LONDON: The US Department of State on Monday announced it was offering a reward of up to $10 million for information on Haseeb Hadwan, a senior official in Hezbollah’s General Secretariat, and his office manager, Ali Al-Shaer.

Both men are accused of using the international financial system to transfer money to Lebanon, where it is used to finance the Hezbollah militia.On September 17, 2021, the US Department of Treasury designated Hadwan and Al-Shaer as Specially Designated Global Terrorists in accordance with Executive Order 13224.

As a result, all of their property and interests within US jurisdiction are blocked, and it is generally prohibited for US persons to transact with either man.

The move forms part of the larger US effort to crackdown on the Iran-backed group Hezbollah. As a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, it is a crime to knowingly provide, or attempt or conspire to provide, material support or resources to Hezbollah.

Earlier in January, the US designated Hezbollah-linked financial facilitators Adel Diab, Ali Mohamad Daoun, Jihad Salem Alame and their Lebanon-based travel company Dar Al Salam. This was followed by the designation of Lebanese businessman, Ahmad Jalal Reda Abdallah, on May 12.

In a statement, the Treausury said sanctions continue to have significant consequences in Lebanon, as it faces an unprecedented economic crisis.

As part of Lebanon’s government, Hezbollah is impeding economic reforms and the necessary change demanded by the Lebanese people, the statement added.


Lebanese MP Cynthia Zarazir enters Byblos Bank north of Beirut to demand frozen savings

Lebanese MP Cynthia Zarazir enters Byblos Bank north of Beirut to demand frozen savings
Updated 5 min 23 sec ago

Lebanese MP Cynthia Zarazir enters Byblos Bank north of Beirut to demand frozen savings

Lebanese MP Cynthia Zarazir enters Byblos Bank north of Beirut to demand frozen savings
  • First-time parliamentarian enters bank unarmed and demand $8,500 in cash
  • Bank offers a rate of 8,000 pounds to the dollar, an 80 percent cut on the value of her funds

A Lebanese member of parliament entered a branch of Byblos Bank north of Beirut on Wednesday with a group of associates to demand access to her frozen savings to pay for surgery.

Cynthia Zarazir, a first-time parliamentarian who was elected in May to represent Beirut, entered the bank unarmed and demanded $8,500 in cash, she said.

“We’ve spent a few days going back and forth to the bank and bringing my (medical) reports and they don’t answer us. I can’t delay this any more. I came to take my money,” Zarazir said by telephone from the bank.

“Today, I came as a I don’t care what my colleagues in the parliament will think. I see right from wrong,” she said.

 

 

Cases of bank hold-ups and protests have snowballed across Lebanon recently as depositors have grown exasperated over informal capital controls that banks have imposed since an economic downturn began in 2019.

Depositors can only withdraw limited amounts in US dollars or the Lebanese pound, which has lost more than 95 percent of its value since the crisis began.

The bank branch shut down after Zarazir entered and a spokesperson for Byblos Bank at its headquarters was not immediately available for comment.

Zarazir said she had rejected an offer from the bank to withdraw an unlimited amount in Lebanese pounds at a rate of 8,000 pounds to the dollar — which would represent a roughly 80 percent haircut on the value of her funds.

“She has not broken the law in any way. She went into her bank to ask for her money. She didn’t even shut the bank down — the management did that,” said Fouad Debs, her lawyer and a founder of the Depositors’ Union advocacy group.

He accompanied Zarazir and spoke to Reuters from the bank, saying the sit-in would continue until the lawmaker had access to her funds.

Tuesday saw four hold-ups across Lebanon, two of them involving armed men demanding their deposits.

Another incident took place on Monday.

Separately, an unidentified assailant fired shots at a Beirut Bank branch in the northern town of Byblos on Wednesday, a security source said.

There were no injuries and the assailant fled, the source said.

Lebanon’s banking association has expressed outrage over the hold-ups. A similar surge last month prompted banks to close for about a week.


Newest Hindu temple officially opens its doors to UAE residents

Newest Hindu temple officially opens its doors to UAE residents
Updated 05 October 2022

Newest Hindu temple officially opens its doors to UAE residents

Newest Hindu temple officially opens its doors to UAE residents

DUBAI: The newest Hindu temple in Dubai opened its doors to worshippers on Tuesday following an official ceremony. 
The new Hindu House of Worship officially welcomed worshippers for the first time following its inaugural by the UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence. 
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan inaugurated the temple by lighting a lantern in the temple’s multi-purpose hall on the ground floor, Al-Khaleej Times reported. 

People visit the newly inaugurated Hindu Temple in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, October 4, 2022. (Reuters)


The new temple in Jebel Ali is the latest addition to what is locally known as “village of worship” which already houses nine religious shrines, including seven churches, the Guru Nanak Darbar and Sikh Gurudwara. 
The ceremony was also attended by the Indian ambassador to UAE and over 200 dignitaries, including officials, faith leaders, and members of the Indian community in UAE.

 


Yemen reviews humanitarian projects amid renewed Houthi attacks

Yemen reviews humanitarian projects amid renewed Houthi attacks
Updated 05 October 2022

Yemen reviews humanitarian projects amid renewed Houthi attacks

Yemen reviews humanitarian projects amid renewed Houthi attacks
  • Saudi Arabia is implementing a project to drill and operate 10 replacement wells using solar energy in Aden
  • Kuwait-funded projects are being established under Altwasul for Human Development to serve the displaced in Marib

ADEN: Yemeni officials reviewed humanitarian projects as the government seeks to intensify relief efforts amid a renewed escalation in conflict after the Houthis refused to extend the United Nations-brokered truce.
On Tuesday, Saudi Program for Yemen’s Development and Reconstruction briefed officials on a project to drill and operate 10 replacement wells using solar energy in Aden.
The team also reviewed the proposed sites for a solar-powered seawater desalination plant with a capacity of 10,000 cubic meters a day.
“Such projects will largely contribute to enhancing water security in Aden,” said Engr. Mohammed Bakhbeira, director general of the Local Water and Sanitation Corporation in Aden.
Abd Rabbo Muftah, the Undersecretary of Marib governorate, also reviewed some ongoing Kuwait-funded projects being established under Altwasul for Human Development to serve the critical needs of the displaced and the host community in the province.
He was briefed on the progress of a women and children hospital north of Marib, which was 20 percent complete, and the efforts to install a $500,000 oxygen plant in a public hospital with a capacity of 300 cylinders a day.
Badr Ma’awn, Secretary-General of the Local Council in Aden, meanwhile reviewed the implementation of humanitarian projects under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He praised the UN’s efforts in assisting war-affected families and the displaced in Aden amid the current situation in Yemen.
Heavy fighting has earlier erupted between government troops and Houthis across Yemen after the Iran-backed group refused to renew a UN-brokered truce that expired on Sunday.
The fiercest battles took place outside the central city of Marib and in Al-Fakher area of Dhale province, according to officials.


Iran summons British ambassador after ‘interventionist comments’

Iran summons British ambassador after ‘interventionist comments’
Updated 05 October 2022

Iran summons British ambassador after ‘interventionist comments’

Iran summons British ambassador after ‘interventionist comments’
  • Britain’s foreign ministry had summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires over crackdown on protests

DUBAI: Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the British ambassador in Tehran in reaction to “interventionist comments” from the British foreign ministry, the semi-official news agency Tasnim reported on Wednesday.
“The British side, by issuing unilateral statements, shows that it has a role in the belligerent scenarios of terrorists active against the Islamic Republic,” the director general of Western Europe at Iran’s foreign ministry added, after saying that London’s remarks on Iran’s internal affairs were “based on fake and provocative interpretations.”
Britain’s foreign ministry said on Monday it had summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires, Iran’s most senior diplomat in Britain, over the crackdown on protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in custody.
The British envoy in Tehran was summoned on Tuesday.
The Iranian official added Tehran will consider possible options in response to any unusual actions from Britain.
A 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman, Amini was arrested on Sept. 13 by the morality police in Tehran for wearing “unsuitable attire.”


Detained US citizen Baquer Namazi allowed to leave Iran, State Department confirms

Detained US citizen Baquer Namazi allowed to leave Iran, State Department confirms
Updated 05 October 2022

Detained US citizen Baquer Namazi allowed to leave Iran, State Department confirms

Detained US citizen Baquer Namazi allowed to leave Iran, State Department confirms
  • Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF official, was detained in 2016 when he went to Iran to press for the release of his son Siamak
  • The US has been pressing for the release of these two men and two other Americans

Detained US citizen Baquer Namazi has been allowed to leave Iran and his son has been granted furlough from prison, the State Department said Wednesday, confirming their release.
Namazi, a former UNICEF official, was detained in February 2016 when the 85-year-old went to Iran to press for the release of his son Siamak, who had been arrested in October of the previous year.
The United States has been pressing for the release of these two men and two other Americans amid efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major Western powers.
“Wrongfully detained US citizen Baquer Namazi has been permitted to depart Iran, and his son Siamak, also wrongfully detained, has been granted furlough from prison,” a State Department spokesperson told AFP.
It added that the older Namazi “was unjustly detained in Iran and then not permitted to leave the county after serving his sentence, despite his repeated requirement for urgent medical attention.”
“We understand that the lifting of the travel ban and his son’s furlough were related to his medical requirement.”
The United Nations said last week that the pair had been allowed to leave Iran, after an appeal from its Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Both were convicted of espionage in October 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Baquer Namazi was released on medical leave in 2018 and had been serving his sentence under house arrest.
At least two other American citizens are currently held in Iran.
Businessman Emad Sharqi was sentenced last year to 10 years in prison for espionage, and environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, who is also a British national, was arrested in 2018 and released on bail in July.
A drive to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal resumed in late November last year, after talks were suspended in June as Iran elected ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi.
The 2015 deal — agreed by Iran, the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany — offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
But the United States unilaterally withdrew in 2018 under president Donald Trump and reimposed biting economic sanctions, prompting Tehran to begin rolling back on its commitments.
On Sunday, the United States rejected Iranian reports that Tehran’s release of US citizens would lead to the unfreezing of Iranian funds abroad.
“With the finalization of negotiations between Iran and the United States to release the prisoners of both countries, $7 billion of Iran’s blocked resources will be released,” the state news agency IRNA said.
But the State Department dismissed any such link as “categorically false.”
Billions of dollars in Iranian funds have been frozen in a number of countries — notably China, South Korea and Japan — since the US reimposed sanctions.