Hit Song Criticizing Iran-Iraq War Stokes Controversy in Iran

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Hit Song Criticizing Iran-Iraq War Stokes Controversy in Iran

Friday, 4 January, 2019 – 08:30
A scene from pareh sang, youtube (Arabic Website)
London- Asharq Al-Awsat
Iran’s up-and-coming artist Mehdi Yarrahi is believed to have been banned from performing a few days after releasing his anti-war ‘Pareh Sang’ song.

Yarrahi, an Ahwazi Arab, is known for his highly controversial works and is one of the very few artists who maintained a daringly close take on social developments within the Iranian community.

Etemad daily reported that Yarrahi was barred from publishing any of his works after the culture and media ministry summoned managers from the Iranian music publisher Jame Sabz, which sponsored Pareh Sang’s production.

Criticizing the Iraq-Iran war which spanned over eight years, Yarrahi’s hit song expresses the post-war anguish lived in Arab areas witnessed bloody conflict in southwestern Iran.

For the time being, Jame Sabz Manager Farhad Goi Abadi refused to make any statements involving Yarrahi’s work or being questioned by authorities, however, confirmed he will be meeting soon with culture ministry officials.

The reported dispute, on the other hand, was denied by the Public Relations Department of the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Information which said pop singer Yarrahi was not barred in any way.

“I’m the last martyr of this tribe … My tribe, which has no bread or water,” Pareh Sang’s powerful lyrics say, echoing Yarrahi’s struggle which he labels a “torn stone.”

“Death has won and once again the mind has died and all our memories are subject to war … do tell me where we are now and in the name of the war pen. Why have not we had a life yet ?!” the lyrics, sung in Farsi, say.

Hard-line media close to the Revolutionary Guard considered the Pareh Sang’s video clip as an appalling attack on the beliefs and values of the “holy war.”

While ultra-conservatives blasted Yarrahi’s work, other musicians and experts applauded his exceptional knack for balancing traditional and pop culture to deliver a wide-reaching product that resonates with Iranians everywhere.

The singer is also very apt in his social innuendoes and references– throughout his work, Yarrahi was very shrewd in invoking crises faced by Iran such as sanctions and weather pollution. A majority of his work is dedicated to delivering on the suffering of Arabs living south of Iran, namely Ahwaz.

A year ago, at one of his concerts, he wore a mask to protest the pollution. He participated in recent protests that took place in Ahwaz against the diversion of the Karun River. Citing his unmatched passion for defending the environment, southern locals have dubbed Yarrahi “the son of Karun.”

Saudi Arabia Seeks Death Penalty for 5 Suspects in Khashoggi Killing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

(SO, THIS ARTICLE SHOWS THAT THE SAUDI CROWN PRINCE IS NOW PLANNING ON MURDERING 5 MORE PEOPLE WHEN IN REALITY THE ONLY PERSON THAT SHOULD BE ON TRIAL FOR MR. KHASHOGGI’S MURDER IS THE CROWN PRINCE HIMSELF BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN PROVEN THAT HE IS THE ONE WHO ORDERED THE MURDER!) (oldpoet56)

Saudi Arabia Seeks Death Penalty for 5 Suspects in Khashoggi Killing

An autopsy expert. A lookalike. A black van. Our video investigation follows the movements of the 15-man Saudi hit team that killed and dismembered the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.Published On 

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor on Thursday formally requested the death penalty for five suspects in the killing of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, but provided no new information about the murder or the investigation into how it happened.

The killing of Mr. Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul has badly tarnished the international reputation of the kingdom and of its crown prince and day-to-day ruler, Mohammed bin Salman.

After weeks of insisting that Mr. Khashoggi had left the consulate alive on Oct. 2, the kingdom finally acknowledged in November that its agents had killed and dismembered him, and vowed to hold the perpetrators accountable.

After the first court session in the case on Thursday, the public prosecutor’s office released a statement saying that it had requested the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects charged.

It did not provide any of the suspects’ names, or any details about what role they might have played in the crime. Nor did the statement explain why the prosecutor had sought the death penalty against some but not others.

Turkish officials and investigations by The New York Times have found that Mr. Khashoggi’s killing was the result of a complex operation that involved at least 15 agents who flew into Turkey specifically for the job, many of them closely connected to Prince Mohammed.

They included intelligence agents who had traveled with the crown prince, a physician who specialized in autopsies and brought a bone saw, and a body double who donned Mr. Khashoggi’s clothes and walked around Istanbul seeking to leave a false trail of evidence that he was still alive.

Saudi Arabia has insisted that despite the complexity of the operation, the decision to kill Mr. Khashoggi, 59, was made by the team on the ground and had not been ordered by their superiors in Riyadh.

Mr. Khashoggi had been close to the Saudi royal family before Prince Muhammad’s rise to power. He moved to the United States and became a public critic of the Saudi government, writing columns for The Washington Post.

Demonstrating that it will hold accountable those responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s killing is expected to be a crucial part of the kingdom’s efforts to move past the scandal, which has complicated its foreign relations and scared off Western investors it was counting on to support its cultural and economic reform plans.

But it remains unclear whether the trial, and the lack of public information about the legal proceedings, will quell worries in the West about Saudi Arabia’s respect for the rule of law. The kingdom’s courts enforce a strict interpretation of Shariah law, the legal code of Islam based on the Quran, but are also easily influenced by the country’s royal leaders, critics say.

While the Trump administration, which considers the kingdom under Prince Mohammed’s leadership an important ally in the Middle East, has stood by the prince, United States intelligences services and members of Congress believe that he ordered the killing.

The Saudi statement did not say when the next hearing in the case would take place. It said the suspects appeared with their lawyers, were given copies of the charges against them and asked for time to prepare their defenses.

‘Hezbollah’ Exploits Disputes in The Mountain to Reshuffle Druze Alignments

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

‘Hezbollah’ Exploits Disputes in The Mountain to Reshuffle Druze Alignments

Sunday, 9 December, 2018 – 10:15
A Druze woman (L) walks with a Christian woman in the village of Brih, Lebanon April 23, 2016. REUTERS/Aziz Taher
Beirut – Wajdi Al-Aridi
The events of the Mountain and developments in the town of Jahilia last week have reshuffled political alignments and divisions among Druze leaders, reminiscent of the post-2005 period.

In this regard, a minister of the Democratic Gathering bloc, headed by MP Taymor Jumblatt, noted that “Hezbollah” wanted to reunite the March 8 Coalition’s Druze officials, after they were divided during the parliamentary elections, which would lead to the fortification of its internal situation through the realignment of its allies.

This means the return of communication between the head of the Tawheed Party, Wiam Wahhab, and the Democratic Party President, MP Talal Arslan, Hezbollah’s rival allies.

The minister, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Quite frankly, the party [Hezbollah] entered the Sunni house through some figures, and today it is seeking to enter the Mountain through its allies to send a message to the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party Walid Jumblatt.”

The minister asserted that Hezbollah, through its current policies, was seeking to tighten the grip on Lebanon, with Iranian support, in the wake of the new sanctions imposed by the United States against Tehran and the party.

“Through Hezbollah, Iran is maneuvering a political and security exercise on the Lebanese territory, trying to make this country a platform for the exchange of messages through its allies,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Democratic Gathering bloc MP Henry Helou told Asharq Al-Awsat that the bloc’s recent meeting, which was held in Jumblatt’s presence, was aimed at taking a series of steps and measures that would fortify the mountain security at the social and living levels, after the recent developments.

As for Jumblatt’s fears that some figures would seek to restrict his role and enter his region, Helou underlined that no one was capable of curbing Jumblatt’s influence.

“He is a Druze and patriotic leader. Al-Mukhtara has its Arab and national role,” he stated.

Women to Get Equal Representation in UAE’s FNC as per President’s Directives

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Women to Get Equal Representation in UAE’s FNC as per President’s Directives

Sunday, 9 December, 2018 – 10:30
UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan among members of the Federal National Council (FNC) (WAM)
Abu Dhabi – Asharq Al Awsat
Women’s representation in UAE’s Federal National Council (FNC) will be increased to 50 percent in the coming parliamentary term, as per the directives of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. In a step reflecting the country’s future approach aimed at achieving full empowerment of Emirati women and emphasises their pioneering and effective role in all vital sectors of the UAE.

The President’s directives include doubling the current percentage of women’s representation in the Council from 22.5 percent to 50 percent in the coming parliamentary term, aiming to place UAE in top positions worldwide in terms of representation of women in parliament, reported Emirati News Agency (WAM).

This will enable the UAE women to achieve, in a record time, what has been achieved by their international counterparts in decades.

The National Council is comprised of 40 members, and the number of women will increase from nine to twenty next year. The Council discusses general issues such as bills and government budgets.

Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, voiced his support for the plans to further improve gender parity in government.

He noted that this “is a great leap forwards in cementing the legislative and parliamentary role of women in our nation’s development.”

“Women are half of our society: they should be represented as such,” said Sheikh Mohammed in a tweet.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, congratulated Emirati women on the decision.

“We congratulate the Emirati women on raising their representation in the Federal National Council. This is an additional step to enhance their role and contribution to national decision-making,” he asserted.

The Crown Prince described women as the partners and supporters in the process of building and development as well as “a role model in giving and excellence.” He added that women proved effective in various work fields, wishing them all the success.

Half of the Council’s members are elected by electoral bodies whose members are nominated by the rulers of the various emirates, while the other half is appointed.

Elections for a new set of FNC members will be held next year. Currently, there are nine women members, representing 20 per cent of the 40 available seats.

Current chairperson and speaker of the FNC is Amal al-Qubaisi, who became the first woman leader of a national assembly in the UAE and Arab world three years ago. Qubaisi was also the first woman elected to the FNC in 2006

Ky Senator: Rand Paul blasts ‘deep state’ for shutting him out of CIA briefing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘POLITICO’)

 

CONGRESS

Rand Paul blasts ‘deep state’ for shutting him out of CIA briefing

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) lashed out at the “deep state” Tuesday for excluding him and other senators from a briefing with CIA Director Gina Haspel on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

The briefing was limited to a select group of lawmakers, including leaders of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, Foreign Relations Committee and Intelligence Committee.

The meeting comes after bipartisan outrage that Haspel didn’t attend an administration briefing for senators last week on Khashoggi’s killing, which took place at the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Turkey earlier this year.

Haspel was also sent to Capitol Hill as part of a bid to stave off a Senate vote on whether to pull U.S. support for Saudi-backed forces in Yemen.

Paul said that the exclusion of most senators was undemocratic and that Haspel should have testified before all senators.

“There are eight people in Congress who get briefings on intelligence,” Paul said. “That is not democracy. That is not democratic representation nor is it democratic oversight.

Paul added that he only heard about the meeting from media reports.

“I think the very definition of the deep state is when the intelligence communities withhold information from Congress,” he said.

Qatar Announces Withdrawal from OPEC

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Qatar Announces Withdrawal from OPEC

Monday, 3 December, 2018 – 11:15
Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad al-Kaabi. (Reuters file photo)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Qatar announced on Monday that it was quitting OPEC from January 2019.

Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad al-Kaabi told a news conference that Doha’s decision “was communicated to OPEC” but said Qatar would attend the group’s meeting on Thursday and Friday, and would abide by its commitments, reported Reuters.

He said Doha would focus on its gas potential because it was not practical for Qatar “to put efforts and resources and time in an organization that we are a very small player in.”

Al-Kaabi stressed the decision was not political but related to the country’s long-term strategy and plans to develop its gas industry.

Qatar had been a member of OPEC for 57 years.

In Yemen, Lavish Meals for Few, Starvation for Many

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

In Yemen, Lavish Meals for Few, Starvation for Many and a Dilemma for Reporters

A woman in the poor mountain village of Al Juberia, Yemen.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Image
A woman in the poor mountain village of Al Juberia, Yemen. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

SANA, Yemen — At a restaurant in the Yemeni capital, Sana, a waiter brought bowls of slow-cooked lamb served with mounds of rice. For dessert there was kunafa, the classic Arab dish of golden brown pastry filled with cheese.

An hour later I was back at work, in a hushed hospital ward filled with malnourished children with skeletal faces, hanging between life and death for want of money and a good meal.

If that juxtaposition strikes you as jarring, even distasteful, it felt that way to me, too.

Crisis zones are often places of stark contrast, but in Yemen the gulf is particularly uncomfortable. The problem isn’t a lack of food; it’s that few people can afford to buy what food is available.

Years of blockades, bombs and soaring inflation have crushed the economy. A crushed state means there is no safety net.

As a result, beggars congregate outside supermarkets filled with goods; markets are filled with produce in towns where the hungry eat boiled leaves; and restaurants selling rich food are a few hundred yards from hunger wards filled with desperation, pain and death.

For a reporter, that brings a dilemma. Journalists travel with bundles of hard currency, usually dollars, to pay for hotels, transport and translation. A small fraction of that cash might go a long way for a starving family. Should I pause, put down my notebook and offer to help?

It’s a question some readers asked after we published a recent article on Yemen’s looming famine.

Many were touched by a powerful photograph by Tyler Hicks of Amal Hussain, an emaciated 7-year-old girl whose haunting stare brought the war’s human cost into shocking focus.

And many were devastated to learn that, soon after we left, Amal’s mother brought her back to the shabby refugee camp they call home, where she died a few days later.

Amal Hussain, who died at age 7 from malnutrition soon after this photograph was taken.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Image
Amal Hussain, who died at age 7 from malnutrition soon after this photograph was taken.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Some, in their anguish, turned the focus back on us.

Why didn’t we do something to save Amal’s life, they wanted to know. Did we just take the photo, conduct the interview and move on? Couldn’t we have somehow ensured that her family would get help?

“You can take the picture AND provide assistance,” one woman said on Twitter. “One doesn’t rule out the other.”

The questions resonated. Reporters are trained to bear witness; aid workers and doctors have the job of helping people.

Donating money, or other forms of assistance, can be fraught with ethical, moral and practical complications. Is it fair to single out one person or family for help? What if they embellish their story for the next foreigner who comes along, thinking they could get more money?

Plus, we have a job to do.

Doctors show us around, and sometimes we end up acting like them — examining stick-like limbs and flaccid skin with clinical detachment; tabulating figures about weight and age; listening as families recount their tragedies with amazing calm. The prospect of death is discussed. We nod sagely, make a note, move on.

But while we may try to mimic a stone, we are not stones, and every day in Yemen someone told me something that made a lump rise in my throat.

COMMENT OF THE MOMENT

Sandra commented November 30

Sandra
Times Pick

Let’s cut to the chase and get the U.N. and it’s agencies in there. Just do it. The USA should be spear heading the effort. War between armies is one thing. War on starving people is quite another….no grey area! NONE!

SEE MORE

Usually it was a mundane detail, like the lack of a few dollars to take a dying child to the hospital. Yemen, you realize, is a country where people are dying for lack of a taxi fare.

An injured Yemeni fighter with the Saudi-led Arab coalition that is battling Iran-allied Houthis for control of Yemen at a field hospital in Durayhimi.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Image

An injured Yemeni fighter with the Saudi-led Arab coalition that is battling Iran-allied Houthis for control of Yemen at a field hospital in Durayhimi.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Yemenis have to navigate such terrain, too.

While some are dying, others are getting on with living. One night we returned to our hotel in Hajjah, a town ringed by rocky ridges in a province that has been pummeled by Saudi airstrikes. Lying in bed, I was startled by a loud bang then a burst of light that filled the sky — not a bomb, but fireworks.

Since the start of the war, the rate of marriage in Yemen has gone up. And so, in this town where malnourished infants were perishing at the city hospital, others were dancing and celebrating through the night.

But the surge in weddings, it turned out, was a survival mechanism.

Across the social spectrum, Yemenis are sliding down the poverty ladder. Where once a mother bought a sack of rice to feed her family, now she can afford only a small bag. The hand of a daughter in marriage brings a bride price, and so weddings can be a source of income for stretched families.

Disturbingly, many of the brides are children. According to Unicef, two-thirds of Yemeni girls are married before the age of 18, up from 50 percent before the war.

As we crossed Yemen — from the battle-scarred port of Hudaydah to the Houthi-held mountains — on a bumpy 900-mile journey, we saw scenes of heartbreaking suffering that unfolded against a backdrop of spectacular mountains, and customs that stubbornly endure despite everything.

Every day, town centers bustled with men buying khat, the narcotic leaf beloved by Yemenis. The khat bazaars are a social event. Men, some with guns over their shoulders, gather to trade news, meet friends and prepare for the afternoon chew.

Women in black cloaks flitted between them; in one place, a loud argument erupted into fisticuffs. Even as starvation bites, some are reluctant to cut back on their habit.

In one health clinic, Ibrahim Junaid, a worried father standing over his ailing 5-month-old son, was chewing a lump of khat that left a green stain on his teeth and lips.

Mr. Junaid was 60; his wife, 25, stood silently by his side. The nurses wrapped the boy in a gold foil blanket to keep him warm.

Ibrahim Ali Mohammed Junaid, 60, and his wife Zahra Ali Ahmed, 25, taking their son, Ahmed Ibrahim al Junaid, 5 months old, to a clinic to treat his malnutrition.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
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Ibrahim Ali Mohammed Junaid, 60, and his wife Zahra Ali Ahmed, 25, taking their son, Ahmed Ibrahim al Junaid, 5 months old, to a clinic to treat his malnutrition.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Mr. Junaid regretted that his son hadn’t enough to eat, adding that he had a lot of mouths to feed; he had married twice, and fathered 13 children.

The value of practices like chewing khat may be hard to understand in such turbulent times. But for men like Mr. Junaid, it is an integral part of their day. And it is a mark of the resilience of an ancient society, one of the oldest civilizations of the Middle East.

“People say Yemen is in a state of chaos, but it’s not,” said Thierry Durand, an aid worker who has worked in Yemen since the 1980s, and now runs a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Mocha. “There is still structure.”

“You can’t put it in three lines in your paper or describe it in three minutes on TV,” he continued. “This country is structured by family, tribe, traditions — and despite everything, those structures are still there, and they are strong.”

Still, Yemeni society is being ravaged by war. Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition, aided by American bombs, have killed thousands of civilians, and displaced many more. But for most Yemenis, war strikes their lives in quieter, more insidious ways.

Bombs blow up bridges or factories, killing jobs, causing the currency to crumble and prices to soar, and forcing families to abstain from meat, then vegetables. Soon, they are dependent on international food aid or, in the worst cases, resort to meals of boiled leaves.

A bridge in Bani Hassan was damaged by a Saudi airstrike.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
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A bridge in Bani Hassan was damaged by a Saudi airstrike.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Small but vital things, like a cab fare, become unattainable.

As we drove away from the small hospital in Aslam, where Amal Hussain was being treated, we passed a young couple hitching a ride on the side of the road. They were holding a small infant. We stopped and offered them a ride.

They squeezed into the passenger seat — the father, Khalil Hadi, enveloped by the black cloak of his wife, Hanna, who held their fragile 9-month-old son, Wejdan, who had just been released from the malnutrition ward.

Theirs was a typical story. Their home near the Saudi border had been bombed, so they rented a room in a house near Aslam. Mr. Hadi tried to earn money driving a motorbike taxi, and by foraging for wood to sell at the market.

But it wasn’t enough, and when he tried to go home, the Houthi soldiers told him the area was a military zone. Their diet was reduced to bread, tea and halas, the vine that grew locally. His wife was four months pregnant with their second child.

Mr. Hadi wasn’t looking for pity; many people were in similar trouble, he said. “I’d do anything to make some money,” he said. “The situation is so hard.”

At a junction in the road, the couple stepped out, offered thanks and began to walk away. Fumbling in my pocket, I called them back.

I pulled out a wad of Yemeni notes — about $15 worth — and pressed it into his hand. It seemed so futile, in the greater scheme of things. What could it buy them? A few days respite, if even that?

Mr. Hadi accepted the money with a gracious smile. As we drove off I saw the couple amble down a dusty road, toward their shelter, their ailing son held tight.

Khalil Hadi and his pregnant wife, Itanna Hassan Massani, carrying their 9-month-old son, Wejdan, from a clinic in Aslam.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
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Khalil Hadi and his pregnant wife, Itanna Hassan Massani, carrying their 9-month-old son, Wejdan, from a clinic in Aslam.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Follow Declan Walsh on Twitter:@declanwalsh

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Contrast in Crushed State Presents Journalists With Ethical Dilemma. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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AN F.U. Statement To The World: Saudi Crown Prince Arrives in Argentina

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Crown Prince Arrives in Argentina

Wednesday, 28 November, 2018 – 10:15
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo
Asharq Al-Awsat

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, arrived in Argentina on Wednesday after leaving Tunisia on the last leg of his Arab tour.

Upon leaving Carthage Presidential Palace, the Crown Prince was seen off by Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

At the Presidential Airport, the Crown Prince was also seen off by Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, and a number of senior officials, it said.

Crown Prince Mohammed will attend the G20 summit in Buenos Aires at the end of this week.

His Arab tour included Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Tunisia.

Lebanon Questions Int’l Stances for Ignoring Syrian Refugee Right to Return Home

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Lebanon Questions Int’l Stances for Ignoring Syrian Refugee Right to Return Home

Tuesday, 27 November, 2018 – 10:15
Lebanese President Aoun meets with President of the Belgian House of Representatives, Siegfried Bracke, and his accompanying delegation at Baabda. (Dalati & Nohra)
Beirut – Asharq Al-Awsat
Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Monday emphasized the need for Syrian refugees to return to safe areas in their country.

Aoun was speaking during a meeting at the Baabda palace with President of the Belgian House of Representatives, Siegfried Bracke, in the presence of his accompanying parliamentary delegation.

The president said linking the Syrian refugees’ return to their homeland to reaching a political solution in Syria “raises doubts regarding their stay in their host countries,” citing the example of the Palestinian refugees.

“Seventy years have passed and the solution of the Palestinian issue has not yet been reached,” he noted.

Aoun informed Bracke that Lebanon has asked the international community and the international organizations affiliated to the United Nations to provide assistance to the displaced Syrians after their return, because they are contributing to the reconstruction of their country.

In response to a question, Aoun expressed his surprise at “international positions that ignore the need for the return of Syria refugees.”

He stressed that Lebanon was witnessing an economic crisis due to accumulating challenges, the impact of the international economic situation and the influx of displaced Syrians.

Bracke, for his part, said his country would become a member of the Security Council as of next January, and would contribute to supporting Lebanon’s causes at international platforms.

Also on Monday, Speaker Nabih Berri and Bracke signed a three-year extension to 2021 of a partnership protocol between the two countries’ councils, which provides for parliamentary cooperation in sharing expertise in legislation and supervision.

Lebanese President: Government Crisis Grown Bigger

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Lebanese President: Government Crisis Grown Bigger

Sunday, 25 November, 2018 – 09:30
President Aoun speaks to a delegation of participants in the annual “Independence Day Race”
Beirut- Caroline Akoum
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Saturday that the government formation crisis has grown bigger, while contradictions emerged in the positions of Hezbollah concerning Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri.

Sources close to the Shiite party said Saturday there was no substitute to Hariri, but at the same time, they asserted their attachment to the representation of the March 8 Sunni deputies in the next government.

Hariri’s sources described Hezbollah’s position as contradictory, offering an opinion and its opposite.

The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hezbollah was trying to change Hariri’s positions and at the same time, impose on him the party’s own conditions.

“Hariri would not bow to pressures,” they said.

Separately, speaking to a delegation of participants in the annual “Independence Day Race”, who ran from Rashaya Castle to the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Aoun recalled the story of Solomon when two women came to him with a child, each claiming to be the mother…and when King Solomon ordered the child to be cut in half, the real mother cried out to him to spare his life and give the child to the other woman, at which instant Solomon knew who the real mother was.

“Today, we wish to know who Lebanon’s mother really is in order to give it to her,” said Aoun, adding, “I shall suffice with that brief statement.”

For his part, head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, MP Mohammed Raad renewed on Saturday the party’s support to the demand of the six Sunni March 8 deputies to be represented in the next cabinet.

In return, head of the Phalange Party Sami Gemayel reiterated his proposal to form a government of specialists at this stage, while the conflicting parties resolve their problems calmly and agree on their points of dispute through dialogue at the Parliament House.

“Lebanon needs a government that will play its role, address its problems, and save the people from the economic and social disaster we are facing today,” Gemayel said.