‘Lebanon is sick, and officials do not want to treat its illness,’ says Maronite patriarch

Special ‘Lebanon is sick, and officials do not want to treat its illness,’ says Maronite patriarch
Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi, center, has expressed his doubts about the sincerity of Lebanese politicians toward the country. (Getty Images)
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Updated 05 July 2023
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‘Lebanon is sick, and officials do not want to treat its illness,’ says Maronite patriarch

‘Lebanon is sick, and officials do not want to treat its illness,’ says Maronite patriarch
  • Bechara Al-Rahi criticizes officials who are devastating the country and its people by destroying the constitution
  • Politicians clash over border demarcation after double killing near Qurnat as Sawda

BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi reiterated his call for an “international conference for Lebanon after Lebanese politicians fled from dialogue due to being beholden to their own interests” on Wednesday.

Al-Rahi was speaking at the launch of a new document titled “A New Vision for Lebanon Tomorrow: A Secular, Decentralized, and Neutral State.”

He expressed his doubts about the sincerity of politicians toward the country, saying that “there is no salvation for Lebanon if we remain as we are. Lebanon is sick, and officials do not want to treat its illness or know its cause.”

Al-Rahi continued: “It is not the right of officials to devastate a country and its people by destroying the system and the constitution.”

The presidential vacuum in Lebanon has entered its ninth month without MPs being able to elect a head of state due to ongoing political divisions.

Meanwhile Al-Rahi was briefed by Lebanon’s caretaker minister of justice, Henri Khoury, on the progress of army investigations into the murder of two people in the Qurnat as Sawda area last Saturday.

Haitham Tawk and Malek Tawk were killed in a dispute over water and real estate near the town of Bsharri, an area frequently riven by disputes over land and resources due to a lack of demarcation of some areas, including the Qurnat as Sawda summit itself, which is the highest peak in Lebanon and the Levant.

Multiple people from Bsharri and the neighboring town of Dennieh were arrested and weapons seized.

“Army Intelligence investigators have formed an initial picture of how the crime took place and how the first bullet was fired, which hit Haitham Touk, 36, and led to his death,” said a security source.

After meeting with Al-Rahu, the minister said the real estate judge responsible for the north of the country has completed the demarcation of six towns and sent documents and maps for them to the land registry, and has until the end of the summer to send further documents for two more towns. However, he noted that he was facing “many obstacles.”

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati has formed a committee tasked with studying the disputes between real estate borders and over water, headed by the minister of interior.

According to a source close to the prime minister’s office, the committee contributes to “relieve” what it called “popular tension” and takes steps “toward addressing chronic border disputes.”

However, Mikati’s opponents said that the formation of the committee is “an attempt to push the blame for government negligence and delay in resolving border disputes,” with one source saying “formal steps” had “led to a terrible crime and two victims, which almost caused … sectarian strife (had it) not (been) for the quick action of the region’s leaders and the absorption of tension by the Lebanese Army, despite calls for revenge.”

Samir Geagea, the leader of the Lebanese Forces party, said that Mikati “overstepped his authority by forming a committee to study the issue of property border disputes, as the matter falls within the jurisdiction of the judicial authorities, not the political ones.”

Geagea pointed out that “the file of defining the real estate borders in the Qurnat as Sawda area has been in the hands of the judiciary for three years, and the survey and determination work is in full swing, albeit slowly.”

Fares Souaid, president of the National Council to End the Iranian Occupation of Lebanon, called for the committee to include village chiefs and municipalities of the affected areas.


Arab League chief to attend China-Arab Cooperation Forum in Beijing

Arab League chief to attend China-Arab Cooperation Forum in Beijing
Updated 9 sec ago
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Arab League chief to attend China-Arab Cooperation Forum in Beijing

Arab League chief to attend China-Arab Cooperation Forum in Beijing
  • The event will be attended by China’s President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi
  • The meeting in Beijing aims to provide a platform for the exchange of views on regional and international issues, particularly the Palestinian cause

CAIRO: Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the secretary-general of the Arab League, will on Thursday attend the 10th session of the ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in Beijing.
The event will be attended by China’s President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, as well as monarchs and political leaders from several Arab countries.
Aboul Gheit’s spokesperson, Gamal Roshdy, said the visit would include a number of meetings with senior Chinese officials, including Wang and Vice President Han Zheng.
The meeting in Beijing — which comes after Aboul Gheit met EU foreign ministers to discuss the Palestinian cause earlier in the week — aims to provide a platform for the exchange of views on regional and international issues, particularly the Palestinian cause, which remains a priority for the Arab League, especially in light of efforts to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza.
To mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, Roshdy said the Arab League had produced a commemorative book that highlighted some of the key milestones in its history.
The forum is a framework for dialogue and cooperation between Arab states and China. Its founding document was signed in September 2004 at the headquarters of the Arab League in Cairo, following a visit by then Chinese President Hu Yintao.
 


Egypt to host Sudan peace conference next month

Egypt to host Sudan peace conference next month
Updated 41 min 44 sec ago
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Egypt to host Sudan peace conference next month

Egypt to host Sudan peace conference next month
  • The ministry said it was part of Egypt’s “unremitting efforts and endeavors” to put an end to the ongoing war in Sudan
  • The conference will be held in the presence of relevant regional and international partners

CAIRO: Egypt will next month host representatives of Sudan’s civil and political groups in a bid to bring peace and stability to the country, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said.
The offer to hold the event stemmed from the belief that the “current conflict in Sudan is basically a Sudanese issue and that any future political process should include all national stakeholders on the Sudanese scene, and within the framework of respecting the principles of Sudan’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, non-interference in its internal affairs, and preserving the state and its institutions,” the ministry said.
The conference will be held in the presence of relevant regional and international partners and seek to achieve consensus among Sudanese forces on ways to build a comprehensive and lasting peace.
The ministry said it was part of Egypt’s “unremitting efforts and endeavors” to put an end to the ongoing war in Sudan and within a framework of cooperation and integration with the efforts of regional and international partners, especially Sudan’s neighboring countries, the parties to the Jeddah talks, the UN, African Union, Arab League and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an eight-country trade bloc in Africa.
Egypt looked forward to the effective participation of all and concerted efforts to ensure the conference succeeded in achieving the aspirations of the Sudanese people, it said.


Brazil recalls ambassador to Israel: diplomatic source

Brazil recalls ambassador to Israel: diplomatic source
Updated 54 min 5 sec ago
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Brazil recalls ambassador to Israel: diplomatic source

Brazil recalls ambassador to Israel: diplomatic source
  • Relations between Brazil and Israel have soured over the conflict

BRASILIA: Brazil has recalled its ambassador to Israel and will not immediately appoint a replacement, a diplomatic source told AFP Wednesday, ratcheting up tensions between the two countries over Israel’s war in Gaza.
Relations between Brazil and Israel have soured over the conflict, with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in February accusing the Israeli government of “genocide.”
Israel reacted furiously, declaring the Brazilian leader “persona non grata.”
Israel had previously summoned the South American country’s ambassador Frederico Meyer to a meeting at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem, which the Brazilian source said “was a humiliation to which (Meyer) was subjected.”
In response, Brazil recalled Meyer for consultations, and in turn summoned Israel’s representative in Brasilia.
The source said conditions had not been met for Meyer “to return” to Israel.
The Brazilian representation in Israel in the meantime will be led by diplomat Fabio Farias.


Lebanon backtracks on ICC jurisdiction to probe alleged war crimes

Lebanon backtracks on ICC jurisdiction to probe alleged war crimes
Updated 29 May 2024
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Lebanon backtracks on ICC jurisdiction to probe alleged war crimes

Lebanon backtracks on ICC jurisdiction to probe alleged war crimes
  • Lebanon has accused Israel of repeatedly violating international law since October
  • Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib never filed the requested declaration

BEIRUT: Lebanon has reversed a move to authorize the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged war crimes on its soil, prompting a prominent rights group to deplore what it called the loss of an “historic opportunity” for justice.
Lebanon has accused Israel of repeatedly violating international law since October, when the Israeli military and Lebanese armed group Hezbollah began trading fire in parallel with the Gaza war. Israeli shelling has since killed around 80 civilians in Lebanon, including children, medics and reporters.
Neither Lebanon nor Israel are members of the ICC, so a formal declaration to the court would be required from either to give it jurisdiction to launch probes into a particular period.
In April, Lebanon’s caretaker cabinet voted to instruct the foreign ministry to file a declaration with the ICC authorizing it to investigate and prosecute alleged war crimes on Lebanese territory since Oct. 7.
Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib never filed the requested declaration and on Tuesday the cabinet published an amended decision that omitted mention of the ICC, saying Lebanon would file complaints to the United Nations instead.
Lebanon has regularly lodged complaints with the UN Security Council about Israeli bombardments over the past seven months, but they have yielded no binding UN decisions.
Habib did not respond to a Reuters question on why he did not file the requested declaration.
A Lebanese official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the initial cabinet decision raised “confusion” over whether a declaration would “open the door for the court to investigate whatever it wanted across different files.”
The official said the request to revisit the decision came from George Kallas, a cabinet minister close to parliament speaker Nabih Berri, who heads the Shiite Muslim Amal movement that is allied with the politically powerful Hezbollah.
Hezbollah and Amal have both fired rockets into Israel, killing eight civilians and displacing around 60,000 people from towns near the border since October.
Contacted by Reuters, Kallas confirmed he requested a review of cabinet’s initial decision but denied it was out of fear Hezbollah or Amal could become subject to ICC arrest warrants.
Human Rights Watch condemned the cabinet’s reversal.
“The Lebanese government had a historic opportunity to ensure there was justice and accountability for war crimes in Lebanon. It’s shameful that they are forgoing this opportunity,” said HRW’s Lebanon researcher Ramzi Kaiss.
“Rescinding this decision shows that Lebanon’s calls for accountability ring hollow,” he told Reuters.
Information Minister Ziad Makary, the government spokesman, said that he had backed the initial decision and would “continue to explore other international tribunals to render justice” despite the reversal.
Lebanon backtracked a few days after the ICC requested arrest warrants over alleged war crimes for Israel’s prime minister and defense minister and three Hamas leaders.
The initial push to file an ICC declaration came from MP Halima Kaakour, who holds a PhD in public international law. She recommended the measure to parliament’s justice committee, which unanimously endorsed it. Cabinet approved it in late April.
“The political parties that backed this initiative at first seem to have changed their mind. But they never explained the reason to us or the Lebanese people,” Kaakour told Reuters.
“Lebanon’s complaints to the UN Security Council don’t get anywhere. We had an opportunity to give the ICC a period of time to look at it, we have the documentation — if we can use these international mechanisms, why not?”


Ancient Egyptians skulls reveal ‘extraordinary’ cancer surgery, study suggests

Ancient Egyptians skulls reveal ‘extraordinary’ cancer surgery, study suggests
Updated 29 May 2024
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Ancient Egyptians skulls reveal ‘extraordinary’ cancer surgery, study suggests

Ancient Egyptians skulls reveal ‘extraordinary’ cancer surgery, study suggests
  • Discovery gives ‘new perspective in our understanding of the history of medicine,’ says researcher
  • Ancient civilization may have broken ‘medical knowledge frontier’ with precise treatment

LONDON: Ancient Egyptians may have discovered the existence of cancer and practiced surgery to treat it, a new study has found.

A team of international researchers studied two human skulls, discovering “extraordinary” evidence that places the already distinguished medical practices of Ancient Egypt in a new light.

Historical texts documenting medicine in Ancient Egypt already revealed tremendous knowledge, including the ability to treat disease, traumatic injury and dental issues.

But researchers say that the civilization may have broken through a “medical knowledge frontier” in treating cancer, Sky News reported.

Lead author Prof. Edgard Camaros, a paleopathologist at the University of Santiago de Compostela, said: “This finding is unique evidence of how ancient Egyptian medicine would have tried to deal with or explore cancer more than 4,000 years ago.

“This is an extraordinary new perspective in our understanding of the history of medicine.”

Scientists in the study examined two skulls held at the University of Cambridge’s Duckworth Collection.

The first, of a man estimated to be 30 to 35 years of age, was dated to between 2687 and 2345 B.C.

The second skull is of a woman older than 50, dated to between 663 and 343 B.C.

Microscopic viewing of the male skull showed a “big-sized lesion,” resulting in likely tissue destruction and about 30 metastasized lesions, said Tatiana Tondini, a researcher at the University of Tubingen.

But researchers later discovered cuts around the lesions, suggesting the precise medical use of a metal instrument.

“When we first observed the cutmarks under the microscope, we could not believe what was in front of us,” added Tondini, the first author of the study in the “Frontiers of Medicine” journal.

“We see that although ancient Egyptians were able to deal with complex cranial fractures, cancer was still a medical knowledge frontier.

“We wanted to learn about the role of cancer in the past, how prevalent this disease was in antiquity and how ancient societies interacted with this pathology.”

The female skull that was examined also featured a large lesion “consistent with a cancerous tumour that led to bone destruction,” Sky News reported.

The discovery may also lead to reappraisals of the proliferation of cancer and carcinogens throughout human history.

However, researchers cautioned against making definitive statements based on the study.

Prof. Albert Isidro, the study’s co-author and a surgical oncologist at the University Hospital Sagrat Cor, said: “It seems ancient Egyptians performed some kind of surgical intervention related to the presence of cancerous cells, proving that ancient Egyptian medicine was also conducting experimental treatments or medical explorations in relation to cancer.

“This study contributes to a changing of perspective and sets an encouraging base for future research in the field of paleo-oncology, but more studies will be needed to untangle how ancient societies dealt with cancer.”