Lebanon receives US food aid, Egyptian medical supplies to combat cholera

Special Lebanon receives US food aid, Egyptian medical supplies to combat cholera
Solar panels system funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the Lebanese-Syrian border town of Majdal Anjar, eastern Bekaa valley, Lebanon on Wednesday. (AP)
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Updated 09 November 2022

Lebanon receives US food aid, Egyptian medical supplies to combat cholera

Lebanon receives US food aid, Egyptian medical supplies to combat cholera
  • On the sidelines of his participation at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Mikati held many meetings, in which he requested assistance for Lebanon to overcome its economic crisis

BEIRUT: The US has pledged more than $72 million in emergency food assistance to Lebanon aimed at helping over 650,000 of the most vulnerable people in the country, including refugees from Syria.

Samantha Power, administrator of the US Agency for International Development, announced the aid during a visit to Lebanon on Wednesday.

She met local farmers affected by the deteriorating food security situation in the country.

Power said: “Through the UN World Food Programme, this funding will provide food parcels including rice, lentils and chickpeas for Lebanese families, and electronic food vouchers for Syrian refugees to use in local shops, which supports the Lebanese economy.”

The dollar exchange rate has reached 40,000 Lebanese pounds against the US dollar on the black market, impacting prices amid fears of unprecedented inflation.

Fuel prices have surged in the country due to the uncontrolled dollar exchange rate.

According to the US Embassy in Lebanon, “the repercussions of the Russian-Ukrainian war have impacted food and gasoline prices in Lebanon, depriving more people of food security and worsening the economic crisis in the country.”

The embassy added: “Lebanon usually imports about 80 percent of its wheat from Ukraine. Foodstuff prices in Lebanon have increased between October 2019 and June 2022 by more than 2000 percent. When people lose their income source, the most vulnerable families can no longer afford the food they need.”

The new emergency food assistance is part of worldwide USAID relief amounting to $2 billion announced by US President Joe Biden last September to address the global food security crisis, the embassy said.

“Since 2012, the US has granted over $3 billion in humanitarian aid to secure the needs of the most vulnerable groups in Lebanon,” it added.

Parallel to Power’s visit, Robert Oliphant, parliamentary secretary to the Canadian foreign minister, said that Canada “will continue to cooperate with the Lebanese government.”

After meeting Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Oliphant said: “Canada will support Lebanon in all fields, but the required reforms should be implemented to advance the process of signing the final agreement between Lebanon and the IMF.”

Oliphant also stressed the need for Lebanon to elect a new president and form a government.

On the sidelines of his participation at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Mikati held many meetings, in which he requested assistance for Lebanon to overcome its economic crisis.

A source familiar with the meetings said: “In response to Mikati’s request, everyone agreed on the necessity to elect a president as soon as possible and form a government that can be dealt with regarding providing Lebanon with assistance.”

Meanwhile, an Egyptian military plane carrying a donation of 17 tons of medicines, vaccines and medical supplies arrived in Beirut on Wednesday. The donation aims to combat the spread of cholera in Syrian refugee camps and some Lebanese communities in the north, the south and in Bekaa.

Caretaker Minister of Public Health Firass Abiad oversaw the delivery last Thursday of 600,000 cholera vaccine doses provided by the World Health Organization.

Moreover, the EU announced that it had allocated €800,000 ($803,500) toward community-based water, sanitation and hygiene interventions in areas with high levels of cholera cases in Lebanon.

Janez Lenarcic, commissioner for crisis management in the European Commission, said: “The situation in Lebanon has gone from bad to worse, with about 80 percent of the population living in poverty. Cholera is an indication of this deteriorating situation and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time.”

He added: “The EU funding will allow our partners in the humanitarian field to deploy rapid response teams and make sure that affected communities consume clean water.”


Iran escalated arms smuggling to Houthis since truce end, Yemeni minister

Iran escalated arms smuggling to Houthis since truce end, Yemeni minister
Updated 9 sec ago

Iran escalated arms smuggling to Houthis since truce end, Yemeni minister

Iran escalated arms smuggling to Houthis since truce end, Yemeni minister
  • Minister pointed to recent international operation that intercepted Iranian shipment of weapons heading to Houthi militia

DUBAI: Iran has escalated its arms smuggling operations to the Houthi militia since the United Nations-backed truce ended last October, said Muammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s minister of information, culture, and tourism.

The minister pointed to a recent operation, jointly carried out by US and French forces, that intercepted an Iranian shipment of weapons heading to Yemen through the Gulf of Oman.  

Reports earlier said the vessel carried 3,000 assault rifles, 20 anti-tank missiles, and around 500,000 rounds of ammunition en route to the Houthi militia.

In a statement, the US said the operation was one of four major interdictions over the last two months that prevented over 5,000 weapons and 1.6 million rounds of ammunition from reaching Yemen.

Al-Eryani said the Yemeni security forces’ seizure of 100 drone engines, headed to the Houthis via Shahn land port in the 5th such violation in two months, has demonstrated Iran’s role in undermining the international community’s efforts to end the war and bring peace to Yemen.

He added that it confirms Iran’s full empowerment of a militia that “doesn’t have power to decide on war and peace.”

Al-Eryani accused Iran’s regime of committing such violations to “export its internal crises” and “cover up atrocities against the Iranian people.”

The regime, he said, wanted to “mobilize its sectarian militias to create chaos, terrorism, destabilize security and stability, and threaten energy security and international shipping lanes.”

The minister called on the international community and UN members to confront Iran’s illegal practices that undermine regional and international stability.


UN ‘unable’ to resolve conflicts, Jordanian official

UN ‘unable’ to resolve conflicts, Jordanian official
Updated 04 February 2023

UN ‘unable’ to resolve conflicts, Jordanian official

UN ‘unable’ to resolve conflicts, Jordanian official
  • Global organization needs to play a more “effective” role in ending regional disputes, said senate speaker Faisal Fayez

AMMAN: Jordan’s Senate Speaker Faisal Fayez has said that the UN is still “unable” to play its role in ending conflicts and crises, especially ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

On Friday, Jordan’s News Agency reported that Fayez’s statement came during a student workshop on the role of the UN and the goals on which it was founded.

He said the UN has been unable to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and had not been able to take any decision regarding the crimes and massacres committed by the Israeli authorities daily against Palestinians.

“The UN is unable to end the conflicts and political crises in Syria, Yemen and Libya,” Fayez added.

The organization needed to play a more “effective” role in ending regional conflicts and enabling its people to live freely and safely, he said.


Images of emaciated Iranian prisoner on hunger strike prompt outrage

Images of emaciated Iranian prisoner on hunger strike prompt outrage
Updated 04 February 2023

Images of emaciated Iranian prisoner on hunger strike prompt outrage

Images of emaciated Iranian prisoner on hunger strike prompt outrage
  • Iran has been rocked by nationwide unrest following the death of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16 in police custody, one of the strongest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution

TEHRAN: Social media images purported to be of an emaciated jailed Iranian dissident on hunger strike have caused outrage online as supporters warned on Friday he risks death for protesting the compulsory wearing of the hijab.
Farhad Meysami, 53, who has been in jail since 2018 for supporting women activists protesting against Iran’s headscarf policy, began his hunger strike on Oct. 7 to protest recent government killings of demonstrators, the dissident’s lawyer said.
The images of Meysami went viral on social media on the same day Iran released award-winning director Jafar Panahi on bail after seven months in jail. Panahi said the images of Meysami reminded him of survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Iran’s judiciary denied the hunger strike claim and said the photos were from four years ago when Meysami, a physician, did go on hunger strike.
As evidence, the semi-official YJC news agency posted what it said was Meysami’s latest photo, in which he does not look emaciated and is sitting on the floor of his prison cell with a bag of what looks like chips next to him.
Reuters was unable to confirm when the pictures were taken.
Iranian authorities released Panahi on bail after he started a hunger strike this week to demand to be freed pending a retrial, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported, citing the Directors Guild of Iran.
There was no official word from Iran’s judiciary on the release, but videos on social media purportedly showed Panahi speaking to well-wishers outside Evin prison.
“The images of Farhad Meysami... remind one of the people in Auschwitz or of (Mahatma) Gandhi, since Meysami has written about non violence,” Panahi said. “Many are left behind bars... so how can I say I feel happy?“
Iranian authorities detained Panahi in July to serve a six-year sentence which a court originally ordered in 2010 for “propaganda against the system.” In October, the ruling was quashed by Iran’s supreme court which ordered a retrial.
Iran has been rocked by nationwide unrest following the death of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16 in police custody, one of the strongest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.
Morality police arrested Amini for flouting the hijab policy, which requires women to dress modestly and wear headscarves. Women have played a prominent role in the protests, with many waving or burning their headscarves.
Rights groups say more than 500 protesters have been killed and nearly 20,000 arrested. At least four people have been hanged, according to the Iranian judiciary.
“My client Farhad Meysami’s life is in danger,” tweeted lawyer Mohammad Moghimi. “He went on hunger strike to protest the recent government killings in the streets.” He said Meysami had lost 52 kg (115 lb).
Images show Meysami curled up on what looks like a hospital bed, and another standing, his ribs protruding.
“Shocking images of Dr. Farhad Meysami, a brave advocate for women’s rights who has been on hunger strike in prison,” tweeted Robert Malley, Washington’s special envoy for Iran.
“Iran’s regime has unjustly denied him and thousands of other political prisoners their rights and their freedom. Now it unjustly threatens his life,” he said.
Amnesty International said: “These images (of Meysami) are a shocking reminder of the Iranian authorities’ contempt for human rights.”
In a letter published by BBC’s Persian Service on Thursday, Meysami made three demands: an end to executions, the release of political-civil prisoners and an end to “forced-hijab harassment”.
“I will continue my impossible mission in the hope that it may become possible later on with a collective effort,” he wrote.

 


Iranian protests are ‘beginning of the end for regime in Tehran’, says Nobel laureate Ebadi

Iranian protests are ‘beginning of the end for regime in Tehran’, says Nobel laureate Ebadi
Updated 04 February 2023

Iranian protests are ‘beginning of the end for regime in Tehran’, says Nobel laureate Ebadi

Iranian protests are ‘beginning of the end for regime in Tehran’, says Nobel laureate Ebadi
  • Exiled Nobel-winning former judge speaks out
  • Revolution is a ‘train that will not stop,’ she says

JEDDAH: Protests in Iran over the death in custody of a young Iranian Kurdish woman are the start of an irreversible “revolutionary process” that will eventually lead to the collapse of the regime, one of Tehran’s most eloquent critics said on Friday.

Shirin Ebadi, the distinguished Iranian lawyer and former judge who lives in exile in London, said the protests were the boldest challenge yet to the legitimacy of Iran’s clerical establishment.

“This revolutionary process is like a train that will not stop until it reaches its final destination,” said Ebadi, 75, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her work defending human rights.

“The protests have taken a different shape, but they have not ended,” she told Reuters in a phone interview from London.

Iran’s clerical rulers have faced widespread unrest since Mahsa Amini died in the custody of the morality police on Sept. 16 last year after she was arrested for wearing “inappropriate attire.”

This image grab from a UGC video posted on Feb. 3, 2023, reportedly shows protesters demanding the release of political prisoners during a march in Iran's southeastern city of Zahedan. (AFP)

Iran has blamed Amini's death on existing medical problems and has accused its enemies of fomenting the unrest to destabilise the regime.

For months, Iranians from all walks of life have called for the fall of the clerical establishment, chanting slogans against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Amini’s death has unbottled years of anger among many Iranians over issues ranging from economic misery and discrimination against ethnic minorities to tightening social and political restrictions.

As they have done in the past in the face of protests in the past four decades, Iran’s hard-line rulers have cracked down hard. Authorities have handed down dozens of death sentences to people involved in protests and have carried out at least four hangings, in what rights activists say is a crackdown aimed at intimidating people and keep them off the streets.

BACKGROUND

The crackdown has stoked diplomatic tensions at a time when talks to revive Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers are at a standstill.

The rights group HRANA said 527 protesters had been killed during unrest, of whom 71 were children, and nearly 20,000 protesters had been arrested.

However, protests have slowed considerably since the hangings began. Videos posted on social mediashowed people chanting “Death to Khamenei” from rooftops in some cities, but nothing on the scale of past months.

Ebadi said the state’s use of deadly violence would deepen anger felt by ordinary Iranians about the clerical establishment because the their grievances remain unaddressed. “The protests have taken a different shape, but they have not ended,” she said.

The crackdown has stoked diplomatic tensions at a time when talks to revive Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers are at a standstill.

To force the regime from power, Ebadi said the West should take “practical steps” such as recalling their ambassadors from Tehran, and should avoid reaching any agreement with Iran, including the nuclear deal. 

With deepening economic misery, chiefly because of US sanctions over Tehran’s disputed nuclear work, many Iranians are feeling the pain of galloping inflation and rising joblessness.

Inflation has soared to over 50 percent, the highest level in decades. Youth unemployment remains high with over 50 percent of Iranians being pushed below the poverty line, according to reports by Iran’s Statistics Center.

(With Reuters)


Satellite photos: Damage at Iran military site hit by drone

Satellite photos: Damage at Iran military site hit by drone
Updated 04 February 2023

Satellite photos: Damage at Iran military site hit by drone

Satellite photos: Damage at Iran military site hit by drone
  • Video taken of the attack showed an explosion at the site after anti-aircraft fire targeted the drones, likely from one of the drones reaching the building’s roof. Iran’s military has claimed shooting down two other drones before they reached the site

TEHRAN: Satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press on Friday showed damage done to what Iran describes as a military workshop targeted by Israeli drones, the latest such assault amid a shadow war between the two countries.
While Iran has offered no explanation yet of what the workshop manufactured, the drone attack threatened to again raise tensions in the region. Already, worries have grown over Tehran enriching uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels, with a top UN nuclear official warning the regime had enough fuel to build “several” atomic bombs if it chooses.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose earlier tenure as premier saw escalating attacks targeting Iran, has returned to office and reiterated that he views Tehran as his country’s top security threat. With State Department spokesperson Ned Price now declaring Iran has “killed” the opportunity to return to its nuclear deal with world powers, it remains unclear what diplomacy immediately could ease tensions between Tehran and the West.
Cloudy weather had prevented satellite pictures of the site of the workshop since it came under attack by what Iran described as bomb-carrying quadcopters on the night of Jan. 28. Quadcopters, which get their name from having four rotors, typically operate from short ranges by remote control.
Video taken of the attack showed an explosion at the site after anti-aircraft fire targeted the drones, likely from one of the drones reaching the building’s roof. Iran’s military has claimed shooting down two other drones before they reached the site.
Images taken on Thursday by Planet Labs PBC showed the workshop in Isfahan, a central Iranian city some 350 km south of Tehran.
An AP analysis of the image, compared to earlier images of the workshop, showed damage to the structure’s roof. That damage corresponded to footage aired by Iranian state television immediately after the attack that showed at least two holes in the building’s roof.
The Iranian state TV footage, as well as satellite photos, suggest the building’s roof also may have been built with so-called “slat armor.”
The structure resembles a cage built around roofs or armored vehicles to stop direct detonation from rockets, missiles or bomb-carrying drones against a target.
Installation of such protection at the workshop suggests Iran believed it could be a drone target.
Iran’s Intelligence Ministry in July claimed to have broken up a plot to target sensitive sites around Isfahan.
A segment aired on Iranian state TV in October included purported confessions by alleged members of Komala, a Kurdish opposition party that is exiled from Iran and now lives in Iraq, that they planned to target a military aerospace facility in Isfahan after being trained by Israel’s Mossad intelligence service.
It remains unclear whether the military workshop targeted in the drone attack was that aerospace facility.
Iran’s mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the satellite images and other questions about the workshop.
The attack comes Iran’s theocratic government faces challenges both at home and abroad.
Nationwide protests have shaken the country since the September death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman detained by the country’s morality police.
Its rial currency has plummeted to new lows against the US dollar.
Israel is suspected of launching a series of attacks on Iran, including an April 2021 assault on its underground Natanz nuclear facility that damaged its centrifuges.
In 2020, Iran blamed Israel for a sophisticated attack that killed its top military nuclear scientist.
Israel has not commented on this drone attack.
However, Israeli officials rarely acknowledge operations carried out by the country’s secret military units or the Mossad.
A letter published Thursday by Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Amir Saeid Iravani, said that “early investigations suggest that the Israeli regime was responsible for this attempted act of aggression.”
The letter, however, did not elaborate on what evidence supported Iran’s suspicion.