Syrian ship carrying ‘stolen Ukrainian barley, flour’ docks in Lebanon

This frame grab from a video provided on Friday, July 29, 2022, shows a Syrian cargo ship Laodicea docked at a seaport, in Tripoli, north Lebanon. (AP)
This frame grab from a video provided on Friday, July 29, 2022, shows a Syrian cargo ship Laodicea docked at a seaport, in Tripoli, north Lebanon. (AP)
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Updated 29 July 2022

Syrian ship carrying ‘stolen Ukrainian barley, flour’ docks in Lebanon

Syrian ship carrying ‘stolen Ukrainian barley, flour’ docks in Lebanon
  • According to the Ukrainian Embassy in Beirut, the cargo vessel Laodicea docked in the port of Tripoli
  • It was carrying 5,000 tons of flour and 5,000 tons of barley

BEIRUT: A Syrian ship under US sanctions has docked in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli carrying barley and wheat that Ukraine Embassy officials in Beirut claim has been plundered by Russia from Ukrainian stores.

The Laodicea moored up in the Mediterranean city on Wednesday, according to shipping data website MarineTraffic.

In a statement, the embassy said: “The ship has traveled from a Crimean port that is closed to international shipping, carrying 5,000 tons of barley and 5,000 tons of flour that we suspect was taken from Ukrainian stores.”

Nasser Yassin, Lebanon’s caretaker environment minister, said: “Lebanon respects international laws. The ship said to be stolen from Ukraine and docked in Tripoli had not been offloaded.”

He added that the matter was being looked into by the Lebanese ministers of economy and public works.

Igor Ostatch, the Ukrainian ambassador to Lebanon, notified Lebanese President Michel Aoun of the situation during a meeting, warning that “imports of Ukrainian grain stolen by Russia might harm bilateral relations.”

However, the Russian Embassy in Lebanon said that “the Syrian ship carrying the cargo is from a private company in Lebanon,” and it denied any “knowledge of or relation to it.”

It added: “The accusations of the Ukrainian ambassador against Russia regarding the flour stolen from Ukrainian warehouses are unfounded.”

Some Lebanese observers fear certain parties may take advantage of the economic and political chaos in Lebanon to smuggle goods into Syria and circumvent US sanctions on the war-torn country, especially following claims that the Laodicea belonged to the Syrian General Directorate of Ports.

Lebanon is currently facing an acute bread shortage due to a scarcity of flour and a lack of funds to import subsidized wheat. The country used to import 60 percent of its needs from Ukraine.

A Lebanese Economy Ministry source told Arab News: “Importing wheat or flour from abroad doesn’t require the approval of the ministry unless it was subsidized by the central bank.

“Other than that, private companies and mills have the right to freely import wheat or flour, provided that the Lebanese customs check the legitimacy of the importation.”

The Ukrainian Embassy in Lebanon has claimed that, “since the invasion of Ukraine last February, Russia worked on sending about 100,000 tons of stolen wheat to Syria.”

In May, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense stated that “ships carrying stolen Ukrainian wheat and raising the Russian flag were heading to Syria.”

An officer from the Turkey-based grains trading company, Loyal Agro, told Reuters: “Russia is the source of the flour carried by the ship docked in Tripoli. The flour wasn’t stolen from Ukraine and the company sought to import 5,000 tons of flour to Lebanon to sell it to buyers from the private sector and not the Lebanese government.

“The cargo had not been offloaded and the Lebanese customs had not yet granted an import license, as they were investigating Ukraine’s assertions that the flour has been stolen by Russia from its territories following the invasion.

“The company provided the Lebanese customs with documentation clarifying that the source of the cargo was legitimate,” the official added.

Lebanon’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdallah Bou Habib said Lebanese authorities had not been able as of the early hours of Friday to “determine the source of the flour and barley cargo carried by the ship.”

He noted that Lebanon had “received a number of complaints and warnings from a number of Western countries” following the docking of the ship.

The maritime row comes a week before Lebanon commemorates the second anniversary of the Beirut port blast on Aug. 4. A ship called the MV Rhosus had carried the ammonium nitrate to the port seven years before it exploded, killing 232 people, and leaving thousands injured. The chemicals had been stored in one of the port’s hangars.

In recent days dust has been seen rising from blast-damaged grain silos at the port forcing Lebanese authorities to take precautionary measures and put security forces on alert in case the structures collapse. Around 200,000 masks have been distributed among residents in the area.

 


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.”