Lebanon PM will not extend central bank governor’s mandate, office says

A view shows Lebanon's Central Bank building in Beirut, Lebanon July 6, 2023. (Reuters)
A view shows Lebanon's Central Bank building in Beirut, Lebanon July 6, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 July 2023
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Lebanon PM will not extend central bank governor’s mandate, office says

A view shows Lebanon's Central Bank building in Beirut, Lebanon July 6, 2023. (Reuters)
  • Salameh’s term expires on July 31, bringing an end to a 30-year tenure stained by recent charges at home and abroad of embezzlement of Lebanese public funds

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s caretaker premier Najib Mikati will not extend the term of sitting central bank governor Riad Salameh when it ends later this month, the prime minister’s office said on Monday.
Salameh’s term expires on July 31, bringing an end to a 30-year tenure stained by recent charges at home and abroad of embezzlement of Lebanese public funds. He denies the charges.
In a statement sent to Reuters, Mikati’s office said his position was based on current legislation which stipulates that the first vice governor would assume the governor’s duties until a new one is appointed.
“The most important thing is that no vacuum occurs at the central bank because it’s the country’s financial backbone,” the statement said.
One of Lebanon’s four vice governors told Reuters they were considering quitting together if no successor is named, raising the possibility of a leaderless central bank amid a deep financial crisis.
Mikati’s deputy, Saade Chami, told Reuters last week that such a threat was “dangerous” and that the vice governors should “assume their responsibility in case this appointment is not possible.”
Efforts to find a successor to Salameh have been hamstrung by Lebanon’s breakdown in governance and intensifying political tensions. Central bank governors are typically appointed by the president, but parliament has been unable to elect one to follow Michel Aoun, whose term ended in late October.
Parliament speaker Nabih Berri, a longtime backer of Salameh, told reporters on Monday that “necessity allows for that which is prohibited,” signalling that cabinet should appoint a governor even as it operates in a caretaker capacity.
But he said he would “respect what the prime minister announced regarding neither an appointment, nor an extension.”
Many Lebanese blame Salameh for Lebanon’s financial collapse, alongside the long entrenched ruling elite. Salameh says he has been scapegoated for the meltdown, which followed decades of corruption and profligate spending by politicians.
Salameh has worked hand-in-glove with the elite for years. In late 2021, Mikati signalled Salameh should remain in his post even as the graft investigations against him gained traction, saying “one does not change their officers during a war.”
More recently, however, Salameh has appears to be increasingly isolated.


Egypt air defenses on maximum alert: media

Egypt air defenses on maximum alert: media
Updated 16 min 26 sec ago
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Egypt air defenses on maximum alert: media

Egypt air defenses on maximum alert: media
  • The Egyptian foregn ministry said it was “deeply concerned” by the events, and called for “maximum restraint” by all sides

CAIRO: Egypt’s air defenses were on “maximum alert” Sunday after Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Israel, a TV channel close to the intelligence services reported, as Cairo warned against an escalation of the conflict.
“A crisis cell ... is closely monitoring the situation and submitting reports to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi hour by hour,” Al-Qahera News said late Saturday, citing a senior security official.
The Egyptian foregn ministry said it was “deeply concerned” by the events, and called for “maximum restraint” by all sides.
Warning of the risk of a “regional expansion of the conflict,” the ministry said in a statement that it was “in direct contact with all the parties to the conflict to try to contain the situation.”
Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October, Cairo has sought to walk a delicate tightrope between showing solidarity with the Palestinians while also maintaining its ties with Israel.
It has also hosted several rounds of negotiations seeking to agree a truce in the six-month war.


Iran and Israel: From allies to deadly enemies

Iran and Israel: From allies to deadly enemies
Updated 5 sec ago
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Iran and Israel: From allies to deadly enemies

Iran and Israel: From allies to deadly enemies
  • Israel has killed more than 33,600 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry

PARIS: Israel and Iran have moved from once being firm allies to sworn enemies.
Here is a recap of their volatile relationship over the past half century.

Israel, following its creation in 1948, had close ties with Iran, which becomes the second Muslim country to recognize the Jewish state after Turkiye.
They become allies under the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. At the time, Iran was home to the biggest Jewish community in the Middle East.
The new Jewish state imported 40 percent of its oil from Iran in exchange for weapons, technology and agricultural produce.
Israel’s Mossad spy agency helped train the shah’s feared Savak secret police.

The 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran toppled the shah, dramatically ending the friendship between the two states.
Israel did not recognize the new Islamic Republic.
The ayatollahs considered Israel illegal occupiers of Jerusalem. Informal commercial links remained in place, however.
Islamic Jihad became the first Islamist Palestinian organization to take up arms against Israel in 1980, with Iran as its main backer.
Nonetheless, Israel sent Tehran around 1,500 missiles to help it fight Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war that raged from 1980 to 1988.

Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 to counter Palestinian groups based there, going all the way to briefly hold the capital Beirut.
Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps subsequently backed the creation of militant group Hezbollah, which waged a campaign against Israeli forces from Shiite strongholds in southern Lebanon.
Israel blamed Hezbollah for attacks abroad, including in Argentina, where the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy killed 29 people and a 1994 attack on a Jewish community center left 85 dead.

Tensions rose after the election in 2005 of ultra conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who talked on several occasions of bringing an end to Israel and described the Holocaust as a “myth.”
Iran resumed uranium enrichment at Isfahan the same year.
When the Iran nuclear deal was brokered by world powers in 2015, Netanyahu slammed it as an “historic mistake.”
He was the first to congratulate then-US president Donald Trump when he withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018.
Iran has since resumed uranium enrichment.

Officially still at war with Syria, Israel claimed to want to stay out of the civil war that broke out in 2011 and still simmers.
But from 2013 on, Israel — wary of Hezbollah and Iran’s presence on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad — carried out hundreds of air strikes against them in Syria.

Israel began cultivating ties with long-time foe Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main religious and regional rival.
In September 2020 Saudi allies the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed normalization accords with Israel.
The Unites States sought Israel-Saudi rapprochement, but the efforts were derailed by the Gaza War.

Over the following months Israel accused Iran of attacks on vessels. Iran accused Israel of targeted assassinations and the sabotage of the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.
Israel was blamed for targeted attacks on Iranians in Syria, including top members of the Revolutionary Guard in 2022 and 2023.
An Israeli airstrike on Iran’s consular annex building in Damascus on April 1, 2024 killed more than a dozen people — including two senior members of the Revolutionary Guards.
US President Joe Biden warned that Iran was “threatening to launch a significant attack on Israel,” promising Israel “ironclad” support.
On April 13 — two weeks after the unprecedented attack on its consular facilities — Iran responded by sending waves of drones from its territory toward Israel, which closed its airspace, as did Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s air defense systems were deployed and that it was prepared for a “direct attack from Iran.”

 


Israel puts Golan, Nevatim, Dimona, Eilat residents on impact standby

Israel puts Golan, Nevatim, Dimona, Eilat residents on impact standby
Updated 14 April 2024
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Israel puts Golan, Nevatim, Dimona, Eilat residents on impact standby

Israel puts Golan, Nevatim, Dimona, Eilat residents on impact standby
  • Israel has a nuclear reactor on the outskirts of Dimona

JERUSALEM: Israel’s military put the northern part of the occupied Golan Heights as well as Nevatim, Dimona and Eilat on standby for possible impact from Iranian drone launches early on Sunday, instructing residents to stay close to bomb shelters.
The Golan was captured from Syria in a 1967 war. Nevatim is the site of an Israeli air base. Israel has a nuclear reactor on the outskirts of Dimona. Eilat is Israel’s southern Red Sea port, which has come under repeated attack by Yemen’s Houthis.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army said it sounded sirens in a kibbutz near the Lebanon border early Sunday, after Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Israel.
"Sirens sounded in Kibbutz Snir, northern Israel," the army said in a statement.

 

 


Reaction to Iran’s drone, missile attack on Israel

Reaction to Iran’s drone, missile attack on Israel
Updated 16 min 46 sec ago
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Reaction to Iran’s drone, missile attack on Israel

Reaction to Iran’s drone, missile attack on Israel
  • Israel puts Golan, Nevatim, Dimona, Eilat residents on impact standby

DUBAI: Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said it launched dozens of drones and missiles at Israel on Saturday, in an attack that could lead to a major escalation between the regional archenemies.
Here is some reaction to the attack from official statements and postings on social media:

ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU
“In recent years, and especially in recent weeks, Israel has been preparing for a direct attack by Iran. Our defensive systems are deployed; we are ready for any scenario, both defensively and offensively. The State of Israel is strong. The IDF is strong. The public is strong.
“We appreciate the US standing alongside Israel, as well as the support of Britain, France and many other countries. We have determined a clear principle: Whoever harms us, we will harm them. We will defend ourselves against any threat and will do so level-headedly and with determination.”

IRAN’S MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS
.”.. Iran’s military action was in response to the Zionist regime’s aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus. The matter can be deemed concluded.
“However, should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe. It is a conflict between Iran and the rogue Israeli regime, from which the US MUST STAY AWAY!“

US PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN
“I just met with my national security team for an update on Iran’s attacks against Israel. Our commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad.”

US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SPEAKER MIKE JOHNSON
“As Israel faces this vicious attack from Iran, America must show our full resolve to stand with our critical ally. The world must be assured: Israel is not alone.”

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTONIO GUTERRES
“I strongly condemn the serious escalation represented by the large-scale attack launched on Israel by the Islamic Republic of Iran this evening. I call for an immediate cessation of these hostilities.
“I am deeply alarmed about the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation. I urge all parties to exercise maximum restraint to avoid any action that could lead to major military confrontations on multiple fronts in the Middle East.
“I have repeatedly stressed that neither the region nor the world can afford another war.”

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER RISHI SUNAK
“I condemn in the strongest terms the Iranian regime’s reckless attack against Israel. These strikes risk inflaming tensions and destabilising the region. Iran has once again demonstrated that it is intent on sowing chaos in its own backyard.
“The UK will continue to stand up for Israel’s security and that of all our regional partners, including Jordan and Iraq. Alongside our allies, we are urgently working to stabilize the situation and prevent further escalation. No one wants to see more bloodshed.”

CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU
“Canada unequivocally condemns Iran’s airborne attacks against Israel. We stand with Israel. After supporting Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 attack, the Iranian regime’s latest actions will further destabilize the region and make lasting peace more difficult.
“These attacks demonstrate yet again the Iranian regime’s disregard for peace and stability in the region. We support Israel’s right to defend itself and its people from these attacks.”

GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER ANNALENA BAERBOCK
“Iran has fired drones and missiles at Israel. We strongly condemn the ongoing attack, which could plunge an entire region into chaos. Iran and its proxies must stop this immediately. Israel offers our full solidarity at this time.”

GERMAN AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL STEFFEN SEIBERT
“Germany’s solidarity is with all Israelis tonight whom Iran is terrorizing with this unprecedented and ruthless attack: Jews as well as Arabs and Christians, the Bedouins in the Negev as well as the Druze in the Golan. May they all be safe.”

FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER STEPHANE SEJOURNE
“France condemns in the strongest terms the attack launched by Iran against Israel. By deciding on such an unprecedented action, Iran is taking a new step in its destabilizing actions and taking the risk of a military escalation.”

EUROPEAN UNION FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF JOSEP BORRELL
“The EU strongly condemns the unacceptable Iranian attack against Israel. This is an unprecedented escalation and a grave threat to regional security.”

EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT CHARLES MICHEL
“Strongly condemn the attack launched by Iran on Israel. Everything must be done to prevent further regional escalation. More bloodshed must be avoided. We will continue to follow the situation closely with our partners.”

SPANISH PRIME MINISTER PEDRO SANCHEZ
“We are following events in the Middle East with the deepest concern. We are in permanent contact with our embassies in the region which will remain open to support Spaniards in the area.”

DUTCH PRIME MINISTER MARK RUTTE
“Very worrying situation in the Middle East. Earlier today, the Netherlands and other countries sent a loud and clear message to Iran to refrain from attacking Israel. The Netherlands strongly condemns Iran’s attacks on Israel. Further escalation must be prevented. ... We continue to monitor developments very closely.”

DANISH FOREIGN MINISTER LARS LOKKE RASMUSSEN
“Denmark strongly condemns Iran’s announced attack on Israel. I urge everyone to show restraint and deescalate the situation. Iran’s destabilising role in the Middle East is unacceptable — and so is this attack.”

NORWEGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ESPEN BARTH EIDE
“I condemn the illegal and dangerous Iranian attack underway against Israel. This will further deteriorate an already extremely volatile situation. We must prevent further escalation of violence in the Middle East. I call upon all parties to exercise maximum restraint.”

CZECH REPUBLIC FOREIGN MINISTRY
“Czechia firmly condemns the destabilizing behavior of Iran and its proxies who decided to attack Israel. We reiterate the Israeli right for self-defense. Iran’s long term aggressive behavior is preventing the Middle East region to live in peace and security.”

COLOMBIA’S PRESIDENT GUSTAVO PETRO
“It was predictable; we’re now in the prelude to World War III precisely when humanity should rebuild its economy toward the rapid goal of decarbonization. The support of the US, in practice, for a genocide, has ignited the world. Everyone knows how wars start, no one knows how they end. If only the people of Israel were high enough, like their ancestors, to stop the madness of their ruler. The United Nations must meet urgently and must immediately commit to peace.”

ARGENTINA’S PRESIDENT JAVIER MILEI
“The office of President Javier Milei expresses its solidarity and unwavering commitment to the State of Israel following the attacks by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Republic of Argentina recognizes the right of State-Nations to defend themselves and strongly supports the State of Israel in the defense of its sovereignty, in particular against regimes that promote terror and seek the destruction of western civilization.”

PARAGUAY’S PRESIDENT SANTIAGO PENA
“In such difficult times, we express our full support for the people of Israel, and are concerned about the increase of violence in the region. We remain in contact with our embassies in the region to serve our compatriots.”

CHILE’S FOREIGN MINISTER ALBERTO VAN KLAVEREN
“We express our concern about the serious escalation of tensions in the Middle East and the Iranian attacks against Israel. Chile condemns the use of force and defends international humanitarian law, which protects civilian lives in armed conflicts.”

MEXICO’S FOREIGN MINISTRY
“The government of Mexico expresses deep concern over Iran’s attack against Israeli territory, and the impact that this could have on thousands of human lives. Mexico condemns the use of force in international relations, and calls on the parties to self-restrain and seek solutions peacefully to avoid a more general conflict in the Middle East. Mexico also emphasizes the importance of respecting international law for the sake of international peace and security.”

 


As Jordan, US forces intercept Iranian drones bound for Israel, Tehran warns Amman against aiding Israel

Objects are seen in the sky above Jerusalem after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, in Jerusalem April 14, 2024.
Objects are seen in the sky above Jerusalem after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, in Jerusalem April 14, 2024.
Updated 10 min 46 sec ago
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As Jordan, US forces intercept Iranian drones bound for Israel, Tehran warns Amman against aiding Israel

Objects are seen in the sky above Jerusalem after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, in Jerusalem April 14, 2024.
  • The US military operating from undisclosed bases in the region also shot down a number of Iranian drones in Sweida and Daraa provinces in southern Syria near the Jordanian border, security sources told Reuters

AMMAN: Jordanian jets downed dozens of Iranian drones flying across northern and central Jordan heading to Israel, triggering a warning from Tehran on Amman against aiding Israel.

Two regional security sources said the drones were brought down in the air on the Jordanian side of the Jordan Valley and were heading in the direction of Jerusalem.

Others were intercepted close to the Iraqi-Syrian border. They gave no further details.

The US military operating from undisclosed bases in the region also shot down a number of Iranian drones in Sweida and Daraa provinces in southern Syria near the Jordanian border, security sources told Reuters.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said it launched dozens of drones and missiles at Israel in an attack that may trigger a major escalation between the regional archenemies.

Two regional security sources earlier said Jordan's air defenses were ready to intercept and shoot down any Iranian drones or aircraft that violate its airspace.

They said the army was also in a state of high alert and radar systems were monitoring any drone activity coming from the direction of Iraq and Syria.

Iran, meanwhile, said it is watching Jordan for any moves in support of Israel during Tehran’s retaliatory attacks, warning the country may become the “next target,” a military source told the semi-official news agency Fars on Sunday.

“A military informed source said (we) are closely monitoring Jordan’s movements during the punitive attacks ... and if they participate in any possible action (to back Israel), they will be the next target,” Fars reported.

Residents in several cities in the northern part of the country near Syria and central and southern areas heard heavy aerial activity. A security source said the country’s air force was intensifying reconnaissance flights.

Jordan had earlier said it closed its airspace starting on Saturday night to all incoming, departing and transiting aircraft in what officials told Reuters were precautionary measures in the event of an Iranian strike across its border.
“The relevant authorities took the decision to close the airspace for precautionary reasons as a result of the surrounding security situation,” Jordan’s government spokesperson Muhannad Mubaideen said.
Mubaideen denied media reports that the kingdom had announced a state of emergency, adding they were baseless and there was no cause for concern among its citizens.
Jordan neighbors Syria and Iraq – both countries where Iranian proxy forces operate – and also is next door to Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
It has watched Israel’s war against the Palestinian group Hamas, another Iranian ally, with rising alarm for fear of getting caught in a crossfire.
Late last year, Amman asked Washington to deploy Patriot air defense systems to Jordan to bolster its border defenses.
Officials say the Pentagon had since increased its military aid to the kingdom, a major regional ally, where hundreds of US troops are based and hold extensive exercises with the army throughout the year.
In January, three US service members were killed and dozens wounded in a drone attack by Iran-backed militants on US troops in northeastern Jordan near the Syrian border.
It was the first deadly strike against US forces since the Israel-Hamas war erupted in October, and marks a major escalation in tensions that have engulfed the Middle East.