US Sponsors Int’l Conference on Countering Hezbollah’s Terrorist Activities

A Hezbollah flag and a poster depicting Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah are pictured along a street, near Sidon, Lebanon July 7, 2020. (Reuters)
A Hezbollah flag and a poster depicting Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah are pictured along a street, near Sidon, Lebanon July 7, 2020. (Reuters)
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US Sponsors Int’l Conference on Countering Hezbollah’s Terrorist Activities

A Hezbollah flag and a poster depicting Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah are pictured along a street, near Sidon, Lebanon July 7, 2020. (Reuters)
A Hezbollah flag and a poster depicting Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah are pictured along a street, near Sidon, Lebanon July 7, 2020. (Reuters)

The Law Enforcement Coordination Group (LECG) focused on countering Hezbollah’s terrorist and illicit activities convened in Europe on June 29-30 for its ninth meeting, said the US State Department.

More than 30 governments – from the Middle East, South America, Central America, Europe, Africa, Indo-Pacific, and North America – participated in this session, along with Europol.

Participants discussed Hezbollah’s ongoing global terrorist plotting, weapons procurement, and financial schemes, and outlined how Hezbollah may adapt in the future to evade law enforcement detection.

LECG members discussed how law enforcement or financial tools can be used to disrupt Hezbollah’s terrorist and criminal activities, and associated networks.

The LECG also featured governments from Europe, South and Central America, and the Indo-Pacific that have taken national level action in recent years to designate, ban or restrict Hezbollah from operating on their territory.

LECG participants noted that these actions demonstrate the growing recognition among our partners about the need to cooperate on our efforts to counter Hezbollah’s global terrorist networks, said the State Department.

Officials from the US Departments of State, Justice, Treasury, as well as from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Drug Enforcement Administration also participated in this meeting.

The LECG will convene again in 2023.



Lebanon Military Judge Charges 5 Hezbollah Members for Peacekeeper's Death

FILE - Lebanese soldiers stand behind a damaged vehicle after a UN peacekeepers convoy came under fire in the Al-Aqbiya village, south Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari, File)
FILE - Lebanese soldiers stand behind a damaged vehicle after a UN peacekeepers convoy came under fire in the Al-Aqbiya village, south Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari, File)
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Lebanon Military Judge Charges 5 Hezbollah Members for Peacekeeper's Death

FILE - Lebanese soldiers stand behind a damaged vehicle after a UN peacekeepers convoy came under fire in the Al-Aqbiya village, south Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari, File)
FILE - Lebanese soldiers stand behind a damaged vehicle after a UN peacekeepers convoy came under fire in the Al-Aqbiya village, south Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari, File)

Lebanon's military tribunal on Thursday charged five men with the killing of an Irish UN peacekeeper in December, a senior judicial official said. The official alleged all five are linked with Hezbollah.

The indictment of Judge Fadi Sawan followed a half-year probe after an attack on a UN peacekeeping convoy near the town of Al-Aqbiya in southern Lebanon. The shooting resulted in the death of Pvt. Seán Rooney, 24, of Newtown Cunningham, Ireland, and seriously wounded Pvt. Shane Kearney, 22. The wounded peacekeeper was medically evacuated to Ireland. Two other Irish soldiers sustained light injuries.

The 30-page indictment includes evidence from bystanders’ testimonies, as well as audio recordings and video footage from surveillance cameras, the Lebanese official said. In some of the recordings of the confrontation, the gunmen reportedly could be heard telling the peacekeepers that they are from Hezbollah and were using walkie-talkies to communicate.

Hezbollah has denied any role in the killing.

One of five indicted, Mohamad Ayyad, is currently in custody of Lebanese authorities. The four others facing charges - Ali Khalifeh, Ali Salman, Hussein Salman, and Mustafa Salman - are at large.

On the fatal night, Rooney and several other Irish soldiers with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), were on their way from their base in the south to the Beirut airport. Two UN vehicles apparently took a detour through Al-Aqbiya, which is not part of the area under the peacekeepers’ mandate.

Initial reports said angry residents confronted the peacekeepers, but the indictment concludes that the shooting was a targeted attack. The UN peacekeeper vehicle reportedly took a wrong turn and was surrounded by vehicles and armed men as they tried to make their way back to the main road.

UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said the indictment was an “important step towards justice”.

“Attacks on men and women serving the cause of peace are serious crimes and can never be tolerated,” Tenenti told the AP. “We look forward to justice for Private Rooney, his injured colleagues, and their families.”


US Imposes Sanctions Against Those Perpetuating Violence in Sudan

Bullet holes riddle the wall of a building at the Souk Sitta (Market Six) in the south of Khartoum on June 1, 2023. (Photo by AFP)
Bullet holes riddle the wall of a building at the Souk Sitta (Market Six) in the south of Khartoum on June 1, 2023. (Photo by AFP)
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US Imposes Sanctions Against Those Perpetuating Violence in Sudan

Bullet holes riddle the wall of a building at the Souk Sitta (Market Six) in the south of Khartoum on June 1, 2023. (Photo by AFP)
Bullet holes riddle the wall of a building at the Souk Sitta (Market Six) in the south of Khartoum on June 1, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on companies it accused of fueling the conflict in Sudan.

The US Treasury Department said in a statement it targeted two companies affiliated with Sudan's army and two companies affiliated with the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), accusing them of generating revenue from the conflict and contributing to the fighting.

“Through sanctions, we are cutting off key financial flows to both the Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese Armed Forces, depriving them of resources needed to pay soldiers, rearm, resupply, and wage war in Sudan,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in the statement.

“The United States stands on the side of civilians against those who perpetuate violence towards the people of Sudan.”

Saudi Arabia and the United States have been leading efforts to try to secure an effective ceasefire in Sudan.

Thursday's action marks the first punitive measures imposed under an executive order signed by US President Joe Biden in May that paved the way for new Sudan-related sanctions amid the fighting.

The conflict, which broke out on April 15, has killed hundreds, displaced more than 1.2 million people inside Sudan and driven 400,000 others across borders to neighboring states, the United Nations says.

Washington targeted Algunade, which it said is a Sudanese holding company controlled by RSF Commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and his brother; Tradive General Trading L.L.C., a front company controlled by RSF Major Algoney Hamdan Dagalo, another brother; Sudan's largest defense enterprise Defense Industries System; and arms company Sudan Master Technology.

Washington also issued an updated business advisory to highlight growing risks to US business and individuals exacerbated by the conflict, including trade in gold from a conflict-affected area, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a separate statement.

He added that visa restrictions were imposed on individuals in Sudan, including officials from both the army and RSF and leaders from the former Omar al-Bashir government.

"The ongoing fighting in Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces is a tragedy that has already stolen far too many lives - it must end," White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Thursday.

"These measures are intended to hold accountable those responsible for undermining the peace, security, and stability of Sudan."

Sudan's army suspended talks with the rival paramilitary force on Wednesday over a ceasefire and aid access, raising fears the six-week-old conflict will push Africa's third largest nation deeper into a humanitarian crisis.


UNHCR: More Than 100,000 Flee to Chad from Sudan Conflict

A Sudanese refugee woman, who fled the violence in Sudan's Darfur region and newly arrived, walks as she jokes with her relatives, in a yard of a Chadian's family house where she takes refuge, near the border between Sudan and Chad in Koufroun, Chad May 14, 2023. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
A Sudanese refugee woman, who fled the violence in Sudan's Darfur region and newly arrived, walks as she jokes with her relatives, in a yard of a Chadian's family house where she takes refuge, near the border between Sudan and Chad in Koufroun, Chad May 14, 2023. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
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UNHCR: More Than 100,000 Flee to Chad from Sudan Conflict

A Sudanese refugee woman, who fled the violence in Sudan's Darfur region and newly arrived, walks as she jokes with her relatives, in a yard of a Chadian's family house where she takes refuge, near the border between Sudan and Chad in Koufroun, Chad May 14, 2023. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
A Sudanese refugee woman, who fled the violence in Sudan's Darfur region and newly arrived, walks as she jokes with her relatives, in a yard of a Chadian's family house where she takes refuge, near the border between Sudan and Chad in Koufroun, Chad May 14, 2023. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

More than 100,000 people have fled violence in Sudan to neighboring Chad and the numbers could double in the next three months, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday.

The near seven-week conflict has pushed Sudan into a humanitarian crisis and turned one of Africa's greatest cities - the three-part capital of Khartoum, Omdurman and Bahri on the confluence on the Blue and White Niles - into a war zone.

"As the rainy season is coming within the next few weeks, we require massive logistics to move refugees from border areas... We need to establish immediately new camps and extension of existing camps," UNHCR Chad representative Laura Lo Castro said.

One of the poorest countries in the world, Chad was already hosting close to 600,000 refugees before conflict broke out in Sudan in April.

UNHCR said it needs $214.1 million to provide vital services to displaced people, in the country, which is currently 16% funded.


Syrian FM to Visit Iraq on Saturday

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Al-Mokdad (AFP)
Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Al-Mokdad (AFP)
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Syrian FM to Visit Iraq on Saturday

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Al-Mokdad (AFP)
Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Al-Mokdad (AFP)

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Al-Mokdad is set to visit the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on Saturday, Syria’s Al-Watan newspaper said on Thursday.

 

Quoting unnamed sources, the paper said that during his visit the Minister will meet with Iraqi officials including Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid, Prime Minister Mohamed Al-Sudani, his counterpart Fouad Hussein and Parliament Speaker Mohamed Halbusi.

 

Discussions will reportedly focus on promoting bilateral relations between the two countries, and the latest developments in the region.

 

Mokdad’s visit to Iraq comes amid “positive” developments in the region following the Arab League summit in Jeddah.

 

The Arab League member states agreed to welcome Syria back into the Arab fold earlier in May after a 12-year suspension.

 

Syrian President Bashar Assad attended the summit.

 


Hussam Edin Aala Appointed as Syria’s Ambassador to AL

Ambassador Hussam Edin Aala. (SANA) 
Ambassador Hussam Edin Aala. (SANA) 
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Hussam Edin Aala Appointed as Syria’s Ambassador to AL

Ambassador Hussam Edin Aala. (SANA) 
Ambassador Hussam Edin Aala. (SANA) 

Syria has appointed Hussam Edin Aala as its representative to the Arab League.

A presidential decree was issued few months back to appoint Aala as Assistant Foreign Minister for European Affairs and International Organizations.

Syrian state media reported on Wednesday that Aala would succeed Youssef al-Ahmad. who was the Syrian ambassador to the Arab League 11 years ago before suspending Syria’s membership.

Syria retook its seat in the AL at the beginning of May after the Arab states foreign ministers approved this step during an exceptional meeting in Cairo.

On May 19, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attended the Arab summit that was held in Jeddah, Saud Arabia.

Aala, 56, was Syria's permanent representative to the UN in Geneva for eight years. Before that, he was Syria’s ambassador was appointed as Syria’s ambassador to Spain.

He further worked at the Permanent Mission of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations between 1996-2001 and was later appointed as the director of the office of the foreign minister assistant in Damascus.


World Bank Expects Economic Growth Amid Lasting Peace in Yemen

Displaced Yemeni children in Aden (UN)
Displaced Yemeni children in Aden (UN)
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World Bank Expects Economic Growth Amid Lasting Peace in Yemen

Displaced Yemeni children in Aden (UN)
Displaced Yemeni children in Aden (UN)

The World Bank expected that a permanent peace agreement in Yemen would achieve significant economic revenues and contribute to economic growth, despite its previous assessment of Yemen's need for billions of dollars for economic recovery.

In its report entitled "The Future: Glimmers of Hope in Dark Times," the World Bank said if Yemen attains a lasting peace agreement, there could be a significant "peace dividend" for the population, a six percentage point increase in GDP growth trajectory which would result in a cumulative increase in real GDP by one third over the next five years compared to the status quo.

It noted that this would be accompanied by significant growth in public and private investment, employment, productivity, and poverty reduction.

It must be accompanied by external donor assistance at scale for accelerated reconstruction and recovery.

The conflict led to a contraction in real GDP by approximately 50 percent between 2011 and 2022. It has damaged or destroyed over one-third of the country's homes, schools, hospitals, and water and sanitation facilities.

Productivity plummeted as violence intensified, while productivity indicators were weak before the conflict.

The war severely disrupted oil production, which is crucial to the economy, undermined the government's ability to support the population by providing essential services, and affected public employment.

Many civil servants have been paid only partially or not regularly.

- A glimmer of hope

The report's in-depth political economy analysis and innovative data analytics suggest that Yemen's de facto decentralization could help support its future growth, corroborating a perspective consistently voiced in informant interviews.

The report cited other reasons for guarded optimism about potential recoveries, such as the strong entrepreneurial spirit of the Yemeni people, including, notably, women, the proximity of the high-income adjacent markets of the Gulf states, and Yemen's economic potential for agricultural, agro-processing and light manufacturing production, and exports.

World Bank Country Manager for Yemen, Tania Meyer, said that peace must enable inclusive growth, foster sustainable development, and improve the living conditions for the people of Yemen.

Meyer cautioned: “We must remain clear-eyed about the realities on the ground – the hardships faced by the Yemeni people are immense," noting that "high inflation, poor job quality, and an unstable public sector persist as major hurdles."

Earlier, the World Bank announced that nearly 17 million Yemenis suffer from food insecurity because of the wars and deteriorating economic conditions.

It warned that hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition were among the most pressing challenges, exacerbated by the protracted conflict in the country.

Last March, the World Bank approved a second additional financing of $207 million for the Emergency Social Protection Enhancement and COVID-19 Response Project (ESPECRP) in Yemen to address chronic food insecurity and malnutrition.

However, a month later, it announced that Yemen needed between $11.82 and $16 billion in 2023 and between $11 and $22 billion next year to rebuild the local economy.

Ahead of the World Bank report, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) allocated $18 million for the urgent needs of people affected by humanitarian crises in Yemen to prevent famine and address rising levels of food insecurity driven by conflict, economic shocks, and climate change.

The Office warned in its statement that the humanitarian crisis would affect 17.3 million people in 2023.

By the end of May 2023, the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) was only 23.5 percent funded. In February, the Response Plan seeking $4.34 billion to assist 17.9 million people was only 10.4 percent funded, forcing aid organizations to reduce or close critical assistance programs.

- Development is the solution

The report indicated that relief agencies in Yemen are facing a significant funding shortfall amidst increasing humanitarian needs, which endangers the life-saving response of millions of people.

The UN repeatedly cautioned about a lack of funding compared to the proposed plans to finance the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, considered the worst in modern times.

A previous donor conference fell far short of the needed humanitarian aid, as world leaders pledged less than $1.2 billion in February for the humanitarian response that requires more than $4.3 billion.

The advisor to the Yemeni Minister of Local Administration and Coordinator of the Relief Committee, Jamal Balfaqih, wondered if the international organization could conduct accurate statistics on the numbers of needy families and those threatened with starvation.

Balfagih told Asharq Al-Awsat that he doubts the UN can reach all regions.

He added that relief work and aid provision are based on predictions of the numbers of those targeted without actual statistics and surveys.

The official presented his point of view to provide practical solutions to save Yemeni families from famine by defining targeted areas and supporting families with an integrated program that links food with production.

He noted that food in exchange for production in agriculture, livestock trade, or other medium-sized income-generating projects are viable solutions.


African Road Map to Solve Sudanese Crisis

 Mohamed El Hassan Ould Labat, spokesperson for the African Union, during a press conference in Addis Ababa on Wednesday (AFP)
 Mohamed El Hassan Ould Labat, spokesperson for the African Union, during a press conference in Addis Ababa on Wednesday (AFP)
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African Road Map to Solve Sudanese Crisis

 Mohamed El Hassan Ould Labat, spokesperson for the African Union, during a press conference in Addis Ababa on Wednesday (AFP)
 Mohamed El Hassan Ould Labat, spokesperson for the African Union, during a press conference in Addis Ababa on Wednesday (AFP)

The African Union announced on Wednesday a road map to resolve the Sudanese crisis, which included a set of measures to settle the conflict, and an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

In a statement following the third meeting of the Expanded Mechanism on the Sudan Crisis, the AU said that the road map consisted of six items, including the need to coordinate support to Sudan and secure an immediate, permanent, inclusive and unconditional cessation of hostilities.

According to the statement of the Expanded Mechanism, which is composed of 21 countries, along with the African and European Unions, the United Nations and IGAD, the roadmap underlined the need strengthen the humanitarian response, ensure the protection of civilians, civilian infrastructure and compliance with international humanitarian law, give impetus to the agency of neighboring states, and promote the resumption of an inclusive, fully representative political process.

The Expanded Mechanism on the Sudan Crisis was established at the Ministerial Special Session on Sudan, convened by the AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on April 20.

The Mechanism aims to coordinate and harmonize regional, continental and international efforts in support of a peaceful resolution of the conflict to end the suffering of the Sudanese people. The second meeting of the Expanded Mechanism was held in Addis Ababa on May 2.

Meanwhile, violent clashes renewed between the two warring parties, in Khartoum and North Kordofan, on the second day of a 5-day truce agreement sponsored by Saudi Arabia and the US.

On Wednesday, the Sudanese army announced the suspension of talks with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Jeddah, “for the [group’s] failure to implement the terms of the truce agreement.”

Also, the RSF leadership accused the Sudanese Army of attempting to thwart the mediation efforts and resorting to a military solution.

Eyewitnesses told Asharq Al-Awsat that they heard the sound of artillery shelling and heavy weapons in many areas of Khartoum.


US Says Ready to Resume Sudan Mediation Once Parties 'Serious'

A man has a drink of water as buses wait for passengers fleeing violence to depart from al-Sittin (sixty) road in the south of Khartoum on May 30, 2023. (Photo by AFP)
A man has a drink of water as buses wait for passengers fleeing violence to depart from al-Sittin (sixty) road in the south of Khartoum on May 30, 2023. (Photo by AFP)
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US Says Ready to Resume Sudan Mediation Once Parties 'Serious'

A man has a drink of water as buses wait for passengers fleeing violence to depart from al-Sittin (sixty) road in the south of Khartoum on May 30, 2023. (Photo by AFP)
A man has a drink of water as buses wait for passengers fleeing violence to depart from al-Sittin (sixty) road in the south of Khartoum on May 30, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

The United States said Thursday it will only be ready to mediate a truce between Sudan's warring parties when they get "serious", after the army left negotiations and the latest ceasefire unraveled.

The army on Wednesday blasted bases of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) after pulling out of the truce talks in the Saudi city of Jeddah, accusing its rival of breaching the ceasefire meant to bring in aid.

The United States said there had been "serious violations of the ceasefire by both sides".

"Once the forces make clear by their actions that they are serious about complying with the ceasefire, the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are prepared to resume facilitation of the suspended discussions to find a negotiated solution to this conflict," a State Department spokesperson said.

"These violations have led us as a facilitator of these talks to seriously question whether the parties are ready to take the actions needed to meet the obligations they have undertaken on behalf of the Sudanese people," he said.

In both north and south Khartoum on Wednesday, troops loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan attacked key bases of the RSF led by commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, residents told AFP.

One witness said there was "heavy artillery fire from army camps" in the capital's north, on the 47th day of a war that researchers said has claimed 1,800 lives.

Another reported "artillery blasts on the RSF camp in Al-Salha" in southern Khartoum -- the largest paramilitary base and arsenal in the city.

The attacks came two days after Saudi and US mediators said the warring parties had agreed to extend by five days the initial week-long humanitarian truce.


France Faces Crisis of Presidential Candidates in Lebanon

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai is pictured in Bkerke, Lebanon October 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo
Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai is pictured in Bkerke, Lebanon October 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo
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France Faces Crisis of Presidential Candidates in Lebanon

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai is pictured in Bkerke, Lebanon October 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo
Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai is pictured in Bkerke, Lebanon October 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

French President Emmanuel Macron met on Tuesday with Lebanon’s Patriarch Beshara Rai at the Elysee Palace and showed “remarkable hospitality” in a bid to assure the Lebanese, mainly the Maronite Christians, that France will always be their “caring mother”.

Through the distinguished reception of Rai in the courtyard of the Elysée Palace, Macron wanted to display a message to Lebanon’s Christians that his country is still committed to support them, despite the divergence with the majority of the Christian forces over the presidential file.

French diplomats are often criticized at events and meetings for the mismanagement of the Lebanese file. Some speak of “disregard” and others of French “neglect” of the Christians, while some go so far as to describe the French proposal to elect former minister Sleiman Franjieh as “treason.”

A senior French diplomat acknowledges this reality, but describes it differently.

He said: “Their primary concern is to fill the vacuum at the top state post."

According to the diplomat, France believes that the election of a president is the first step to revive the country’s constitutional and government work, which has been disrupted since Nov. 1, 2022, when President Michel Aoun left office without the political parties being able to agree on a successor.

The diplomat went on to say that the French chose Franjieh over the vacuum at the top state post, but were not insisting on him.

“We will work with any president that [the Lebanese] agree upon, because the next stage is the most important,” he underlined, pointing to the need to launch political reform and work with the World Bank to develop a road map that would help the country to overcome its financial crisis.

The French are aware of the importance of the opposition forces reaching an agreement over the name of a candidate. They consider the election of the president an absolute priority.

The French diplomat continued: “The most important matter is to preserve the institutions, and the presidency is the key.”

During their meeting, Macron and Rai agreed that the “political and constitutional impasse was the biggest obstacle facing the country.”

They both stressed the need for Lebanon to elect a new president as quickly as possible.

There was also an agreement, according to the French diplomat, that France continues to support the Lebanese educational sector, which is essential to preserve the country.

Since 2020, France has offered about 90 million euros for Francophone Christian schools, where the majority of students are Muslims.

Other points that Macron and Rai emphasized include the necessity of preserving “the health system and food security for the Lebanese, strengthening the judiciary, and expediting the investigations into the Beirut port explosion,” the French diplomat told Asharq Al-Awsat.

 


US Considers Imposing Sanctions on Lebanese Officials

File Photo. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf. (AFP)
File Photo. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf. (AFP)
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US Considers Imposing Sanctions on Lebanese Officials

File Photo. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf. (AFP)
File Photo. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf. (AFP)

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf has said the US was considering the possibility of imposing sanctions on some Lebanese officials over the failure to elect a new president.

During a Senate committee hearing on the Middle East, the top US diplomat for the region expressed the Biden Administration’s “enormous frustration” over the current situation in Lebanon.

Leaf said Washington was “working collaboratively with several regional partners, European partners, to push the Lebanese Parliament to do its job.”

“The elected representatives of the Lebanese people have failed to do their jobs. The Speaker of the Parliament has failed to hold a session since January to allow members to put candidates forward for the presidency, to vote on them up or down, and to get a choice to get to elect a president,” according to Leaf.

Leaf responded to a question by Sen. Cynthia Chaheen on whether sanctions should be contemplated, saying, “We are looking at it. Yes, we are.”

She further affirmed, “We are engaging with the diaspora. I meet regularly with members of the Lebanese Parliament who come through town.”

“In the face of growing instability, Lebanon’s political class must urgently overcome their differences and commit to advancing the interests of Lebanon’s people,” Congressmen Mike McCaul and Gregory Meeks said in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“We also call on the Administration to use all available authorities, including additional targeted sanctions on specific individuals contributing to corruption and impeding progress in the country.”

They called on the Lebanese Parliament to “break through months of intransigence to urgently elect a new president who is free from corruption and undue external influence.”