Lebanon PM vows to press ahead with key reforms

Lebanon PM vows to press ahead with key reforms
Najib Mikati, Caretaker PM of Lebanon, addresses the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York, on Wednesday. (Reuters)
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Updated 22 September 2022

Lebanon PM vows to press ahead with key reforms

Lebanon PM vows to press ahead with key reforms
  • MPs welcome Saudi-France-US agreement on ‘next phase of rescue roadmap’
  • Saudi Arabia, US and France expressed their continuing support for Lebanon’s sovereignty, security and stability

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati has promised to move ahead with urgently needed reforms after Saudi Arabia, France and the US agreed on a rescue roadmap for the crisis-hit country.
Representatives of the three countries issued a joint statement early on Thursday following a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The statement highlighted their willingness to work with Lebanon, but warned that support for the next phase of the rescue is subject to compliance with key provisions.
These include “the formation of a government capable of implementing the structural and economic reforms urgently needed to address Lebanon’s political and economic crises, specifically those reforms needed to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund,” the joint statement said.
Saudi Arabia, US and France expressed their continuing support for Lebanon’s sovereignty, security and stability.
Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Bukhari said on Twitter that the joint statement carried a message that the Taif Agreement is “the guardian of national unity and civil peace in Lebanon.”
MP Marwan Hamadeh called on Lebanese political parties to read the joint statement and the Saudi ambassador’s tweet thoroughly.
The MP called for a conference aimed at forming a tripartite state that would allow Hezbollah to become “a partner in governance.”
Mikati, who represented Lebanon at the UN General Assembly, addressed the country’s social and economic crisis in a speech on Wednesday night.
He said the crisis was threatening all institutions, driving most of the population below the poverty line, and causing a brain drain among the country’s young.
The caretaker PM pledged to move forward with legislative and administrative reforms, and said that Lebanon relies on its international friends, especially among Arab countries.
He reiterated Lebanon’s commitment to the Taif Agreement, and vowed to deal strongly with any threat to its provisions.
Mikati told delegates that “a sovereign, independent, strong and capable Lebanese state is critical to peace, security, stability and prosperity in the region.”
MP Abdul Rahman Al-Bizri told Arab News that the Saudi-US-French joint statement reflects the hopes of all Lebanese in terms of holding presidential elections, forming an effective government and implementing political reforms.
MP George Okais said the statement highlighted key issues that need to be addressed if Lebanon is to regain stability.
A political observer told Arab News that the terms outlined in the joint statement follow on from the Taif Agreement.
The statement insisted on the implementation of all international resolutions, including those restricting the supply of weapons to Lebanon’s armed forces and Internal Security Forces.
The three countries also highlighted the importance of “timely elections” as Lebanon’s parliament prepares to elect a new president.
“It is critical to elect a president who can unite the Lebanese people, and work with regional and international actors to overcome the current crisis,” the joint statement said.
“We affirm the need for the Lebanese government to implement the provisions of UN Security Council resolutions 1559, 1680, 1701, 2650, and other relevant international resolutions, including those issued by the Arab League, and commit to the Taif Agreement which enables the preservation of national unity and civil peace in Lebanon,” the joint statement said.


#BREAKING: Depositors storm three banks in Lebanon’s cities of Tripoli, Bekaa and Tyre to demand their frozen money

#BREAKING: Depositors storm three banks in Lebanon’s cities of Tripoli, Bekaa and Tyre to demand their frozen money
Updated 8 sec ago

#BREAKING: Depositors storm three banks in Lebanon’s cities of Tripoli, Bekaa and Tyre to demand their frozen money

#BREAKING: Depositors storm three banks in Lebanon’s cities of Tripoli, Bekaa and Tyre to demand their frozen money

#BREAKING: Depositors storm three banks in Lebanon’s cities of Tripoli, Bekaa and Tyre to demand their frozen money


Iran launches test ‘tug’ into suborbital space

Iran launches test ‘tug’ into suborbital space
Updated 04 October 2022

Iran launches test ‘tug’ into suborbital space

Iran launches test ‘tug’ into suborbital space
  • Saman test spacecraft was built by the country’s Space Research Center
  • Iran has long pursued a space program saying it is aimed at peaceful purposes

TEHRAN, Iran: Iranian state media said Tuesday the government has launched a space tug capable of shifting satellites between orbits.
State TV said the Saman test spacecraft was built by the country’s Space Research Center and launched Monday by the Defense Ministry.
Hassan Salarieh, chief of the Islamic Republic’s space agency, told state TV that officials “hope to use and test the main tug in near future.” Iran unveiled the craft in 2017. A space tug can transfer a satellite from one orbit to another.
Iran has long pursued a space program saying it is aimed at peaceful purposes. The country has both a civilian and a military space program, which the US fears could be used to advance its ballistic missile program.
In June Tehran had launched a solid-fuel rocket into space and in August a Russian rocket successfully launched an Iranian Khayyam satellite into orbit. It’s named after Omar Khayyam, a Persian scientist who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries.
However, Iran has seen a series of mishaps and failed satellite launches over recent years
Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in April 2020 revealed its own secret space program by successfully launching a satellite into orbit. The Guard operates its own military infrastructure parallel to Iran’s regular armed forces.


Yemen seeks to implement developmental projects in Taiz

Yemen seeks to implement developmental projects in Taiz
Updated 04 October 2022

Yemen seeks to implement developmental projects in Taiz

Yemen seeks to implement developmental projects in Taiz
  • Work plans and challenges were reviewed ahead of finalizing projects under the Saudi Program for Yemen’s Development and Reconstruction

ADEN: Yemeni officials reviewed plans with charity organizations to implement developmental projects in Taiz as part of ongoing reconstruction efforts in the province.

On Monday, Taiz Governor Nabil Shamsan discussed work plans and challenges ahead of finalizing projects under the Saudi Program for Yemen’s Development and Reconstruction.
Yemen is working closely with Saudi Arabia to establish a college of medicine in Taiz University, construct a center to treat cancer and rehabilitate a road linking Taiz with Makha.
Shamsan said these sustainable projects aim to serve the people of Taiz, which remains under Houthi siege, and mitigate the effects that the war has left on vulnerable communities.
Meanwhile, Major General Abdul Karim Al-Sabri, the Undersecretary of Taiz Governorate for Defense and Security Affairs, discussed de-mining efforts with the HALO Trust, a Scottish charity organization specialized in clearing mines in war zones.
He vowed collaboration with the organization in surveying targeted areas, detecting the type of mines implanted and raising awareness among citizens on dealing with mines that might be encountered.
He said local authorities would facilitate the work with the organization to de-mine high-priority targeted areas and save lives.


Iran arrests prominent rights activists

Iran arrests prominent rights activists
Updated 04 October 2022

Iran arrests prominent rights activists

Iran arrests prominent rights activists
  • Iranian government has been referring to the protests as ‘riots’ and ‘sedition’ to suppress them

DUBAI: Iran’s crackdown against prominent individuals linked to ongoing protests in the country continues with the arrest of prominent human rights activists in Tehran.

Bahareh Hedayat, a university student, was detained early on October 3, Radio Farda reported, as the unrest hit a crescendo in Tehran and has hit far-flung provinces in open demonstration of grievances against rigid social restrictions, political repression and a failing economy.

Hedayat is a former political prisoner who has been arrested and imprisoned several times, the report noted, quoting the BBC.

Hossein Masumi, another political activist, was arrested on October 2 with his whereabouts unknown according to his family.

The protest actions, spurred by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while under detention by Iran’s morality police for alleged violations of the Islamic dress code, are on their third week despite government efforts to quell them.

The Iranian government has been referring to the protests as ‘riots’ and ‘sedition’ to suppress them, and being used as basis for the detention of key personalities.


UNRWA director visits Jenin refugee camp days after Israeli assault

UNRWA director visits Jenin refugee camp days after Israeli assault
Updated 04 October 2022

UNRWA director visits Jenin refugee camp days after Israeli assault

UNRWA director visits Jenin refugee camp days after Israeli assault
  • Adam Bouloukos said: ‘I witnessed the extent of the damage caused by the recent Israeli military operation. I saw fear and concern in school children’s eyes’
  • He added that the current level of violence in the camp, and across the West Bank, is at the highest level the agency has seen in years

JERUSALEM: Adam Bouloukos, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East’s director in the West Bank, has visited Jenin refugee camp, the Palestine News and Info Agency reported on Monday.

His visit came just days after a large-scale Israeli military assault on the camp last Wednesday that left four people dead and 44 injured.

During his visit to the camp, Bouloukos was shown an UNRWA clinic that was hit by bullets during the attack, which took place while patients and medical staff were inside. It provides healthcare services to about 35,000 people. He also visited a UNRWA school, where he met students and teachers.

“I witnessed the extent of the damage caused by the recent Israeli military operation,” Bouloukos said. “I saw fear and concern in schoolchildren’s eyes.

“The level of violence in Jenin camp, and across the West Bank, is the highest we have seen in years. Many Palestinians, including refugees, were killed or injured. Violence only brings loss of life, grief for families and instability.

“All parties to the conflict should protect civilians, including Palestine refugees. UN staff and facilities and civilian infrastructure must be kept out of harm’s way. I specifically call on the Israeli security forces to limit the use of excessive force and spare the loss of civilian life in Jenin and across the West Bank.”