Archive for January 3rd, 2015

Lebanon first post-war PM dies age 80


TRIPOLI – Omar Karame, Lebanon’s first post-war prime minister and a staunch ally of the Syrian government, has died at the age of 80, his family announced on Thursday.

“With great sadness… the Karame family announces the death of the great Omar Abdel Hamid Karame,” they said in a statement.

Family sources said Karame had died of stomach cancer.

His health had been deteriorating for the past two years, and he was admitted to hospital a month ago, falling into a coma a few days before his death.

Karame came from a Lebanese Sunni political dynasty — his father was one of the architects of Lebanon’s independence in 1943 — and served as prime minister twice.

But both his terms ended with him resigning under public pressure.

His first term began in 1990, and was marked by the huge challenges of rebuilding the country after its 15-year civil war.

He stepped down in May 1992 after massive protests against rising living costs caused by the collapse of the Lebanese pound against the dollar.

He was succeeded by Rafik Hariri, a billionaire who orchestrated massive reconstruction projects throughout Lebanon.

Karame’s second term began in 2004, but he was forced to resign the following year after the assassination of Hariri.

Hariri’s death provoked a political firestorm in Lebanon, including accusations that Syria’s government was involved in the murder.

Karame was a longtime ally of the Syrian regime and was accused of subservience to President Bashar al-Assad.

He was educated in Cairo, and was married with four children, including son Faisal, a former minister.

Source: Middle East Online.


Nigeria’s Muslims angry after Palestinian statehood vote

02 January 2015 Friday

A leading Islamic group in Nigeria has rebuked President Goodluck Jonathan after the latter reportedly caused the country to abstain from voting in favor of a motion seeking recognition for an independent Palestinian state at the UN Security Council earlier this week.

“We are constrained to liken Nigeria’s decision to pitch tent with Israel to President Jonathan’s consistent disgust for Islamic norms and values, his unveiled desire to marginalize Muslims in the scheme of things and his unhidden mien for the debilitation of Muslims both locally and internationally,” Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) said in a statement on Thursday night.

Nigeria raised eyebrows on Wednesday when it unexpectedly abstained from voting when the Palestinian statehood motion was presented before the 15-member UN Security Council.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later said he had called Jonathan and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame to help frustrate the Palestinian bid. The motion needed at least nine votes to succeed but only eight nations voted in its favor.

Nigeria’s decision has drawn considerable criticism, largely locally, because the abstention meant foreign policy somersaults for a nation with a history of pro-Palestinian decisions. Jonathan’s ascension to power has undermined Nigeria-Palestinian relations, with him tilting more in favor of the self-proclaimed Jewish state.

MURIC said Nigeria’s abstention from backing the Palestinian struggle reneges on its history of backing the global cause for justice and fairness as epitomized in its leading the anti-apartheid campaign in South Africa.

“MURIC is astounded by this conservative shift in Nigeria’s foreign policy. It is on record that Nigeria has always been in the forefront of Africa’s struggle for freedom, justice and equal rights,” the group said in its statement signed by its director Ishaq Akintola.

“Nigeria has always been known for its principled stand on international issues. This great African country confronted the apartheid regime of South Africa until it collapsed. We did the same in Rhodesia, Zimbabwe and Angola.

“The basis has always been the promotion of fundamental human rights on the international scene. On what basis has Nigeria supported Israel this time around?”

Nigerian presidential spokesman Reuben Abati has not responded to Anadolu Agency’s request for comment on the country’s decision to abstain and the accusations already leveled against Jonathan.

Nigeria’s Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) also accused the government of betraying the Nigerian people after abstaining from voting in favor of a motion seeking recognition for an independent Palestinian state at the UN Security Council earlier this week.

“By this development, we felt that Nigeria government had betrayed the people of Nigeria and created serious problems for the nation’s foreign policies,” NSCIA Secretary-General Ishaq Oloyeda said in a statement.

“It was indeed a slap on the faces of all the freedom fighters,” he added.

Nigeria unexpectedly abstained from voting when the Palestinian statehood motion was presented before the 15-member UN Security Council on Tuesday.

Source: World Bulletin.


Israel’s Netanyahu wins Likud party primary

January 01, 2015

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won the backing of his hard-line Likud party in its primary and will lead it into general elections this March, Israeli media reported Thursday.

With about 20 percent of the ballots cast Wednesday counted, Israeli media said Netanyahu had won the support of about 75 percent of electors, giving him an unassailable lead over challenger Danny Danon, a former deputy defense minister.

Some 100,000 Likud members were eligible to vote in the poll. Netanyahu was the heavily favored candidate in the vote. Early opinion polls ahead of the March 17 general elections show Netanyahu’s Likud party in a neck-and-neck race with a joint list headed by Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog and former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni of the Hatnuah party.

Netanyahu has been Israeli prime minister since 2009, taking a hard-line in Israel’s relations with the Palestinians. He has cultivated members of his right-wing coalition through supporting contentious legislation that would enshrine into law Israel’s status as a Jewish state.

But he has so far drawn a line with the right at efforts to change the status at a disputed Jerusalem holy site by allowing Jews to pray there, fearing that such a change would solidify anti-Israeli opinion in the Islamic world and undermine the country’s relations with the United States and Europe.

Early returns in the Likud primary suggest that one major backer of the change in the status quo at the site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and Muslims as the Nobel Sanctuary, did not win enough support to gain a chance to return to parliament, while another supporter of that change did.