Posts Tagged ‘ Lebanon ’

Lebanon adopts law regulating smoking

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 18 (UPI) — Lebanon’s new no-smoking law bans some tobacco advertising and requires a pictorial warning about smoking hazards on cigarette packs, officials said.

The Parliament Wednesday backed a law putting an end to smoking in all enclosed public places, including bars, restaurants, offices and airplanes, The Daily Star in Beirut reported.

The law bans tobacco advertising on billboards and in magazines, and prohibits tobacco companies from sponsoring events and music concerts. It also requires tobacco companies to print a pictorial warning covering 40 percent of the area on each pack of cigarettes.

Hotels will be allowed to set aside up to 20 percent of their rooms for smokers.

Parliament said businesses will have a set period of time to prepare for the law, although no time frame was mentioned in the report.

Officials said Lebanon was obligated to pass legislation controlling tobacco products since it signed onto the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2005.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Abbas hoists Palestinian flag in Beirut

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 18 (UPI) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hoisted the Palestinian flag atop the new Palestinian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, officials said.

“In these days it delights us as Palestinians to see the Palestinian flag flying in the heart of Lebanon, in the heart of the Lebanese people, and in the heart of every Lebanese who loves Palestine,” the Lebanese Web site quoted Abbas saying at Wednesday’s ceremony.

The inauguration of the embassy came after the Lebanese cabinet officially recognized the state of Palestine and raised the level of diplomatic ties, the Web site said.

Abbas, accompanied by Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Miqati unveiled a plaque at the entrance to the building.

“We will go with Lebanon to the United Nations to seek a full membership for the state of Palestine at this international forum,” Abbas said adding he hoped “to see the day when the Lebanese flag will be hoisted in Jerusalem.”

“The Lebanese government will exert utmost efforts within its available resources to improve the living conditions of our Palestinian brothers residing in Lebanon,” Miqati said.

Abbas, on a two-day visit to Beirut to garner Lebanon’s support ahead of the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations in September, said so far, 122 of the 193 member countries support the Palestinians.

Lebanon takes over temporary presidency of the U.N. Security Council in September.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

‘US, Israel plan civil war in Lebanon’

Wed Aug 17, 2011

Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah says the US and Israel are trying to cause a civil war in Lebanon by destroying people’s coexistence.

In his speech on Wednesday, Nasrallah said Washington and Tel Aviv are laying the foundation for sectarian strife in a bid to ruin the social fabric in Lebanon.

The Hezbollah leader also rejected the US-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) probing the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, saying its indictments lack credibility.

The former Lebanese premier and over 20 other people were killed on February 14, 2005 in massive explosions in downtown Beirut.

The STL, which was authorized by a US-sponsored Security Council resolution in 2007, was set up to look into the deadly incident.

The tribunal issued indictments and arrest warrants in June 2011 for four men identified by Lebanese officials as Hezbollah members.

Nasrallah said on Wednesday that the tribunal has refused to consider other scenarios such as Israel’s involvement in the murder.

He also accused media outlets and figures associated with the March 14th movement of jumping to conclusions, adding that they make accusations against Hezbollah without any basis.

Source: PressTV.

Syrian Opposition Members Disappearing in Lebanon

By Mona Alami

BEIRUT, Aug 11, 2011 (IPS) – A wave of mysterious disappearances is befalling members of the Syrian opposition in Lebanon, where Syria’s military and intelligence apparatus had a strong presence during its occupation of the country from 1976 until 2005.

On May 24 at 4:30 in the afternoon, 86-year-old Shibli al-Ayssami, a Syrian former politician and opposition member, left his daughter’s house on the outskirts of the Lebanese mountain city of Aley. He was going for a walk, as he had done every day since he had arrived in Lebanon from his home in Washington five days earlier. Two hours later, the elderly man had vanished without a trace.

“We have not heard from him since,” Ayssami’s daughter, Rajaa Charafedine, told IPS

After several months with no leads, some new information surfaced last week. According to a source that is close to the investigation, three dark-colored four-wheel drive vehicles with tinted windows were seen circling the area before Ayssami’s disappearance. At one point, the cars blocked the road leading to Charafedine’s house, and two men pushed Ayssami into one of the cars. The three vehicles were then spotted a few hours later crossing the border into Syria, en route to Damascus, added the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the case is still under investigation.

Ayssami was one of the founders of the Syrian Baath Party. He was the minister of education, culture and agriculture in the 1960s and was vice-president of Syria in 1966, before the government was toppled by Hafez al-Assad, the father of current president, Bashar al-Assad. He was imprisoned and sentenced to death but was able to escape to Lebanon. Two years later he co-founded the Baath Party in Iraq. He retired from political life in 1992.

Walid Saffour, president of the Syrian Committee for Human Rights, said his organization has information that Ayssami was kidnapped by a patrol led by a Lebanese security forces officer who is “known for his loyalty to a major Lebanese political party that is allied with the Syrian authorities.”

“Our information points to Ayssami being detained in one of the branches of the military intelligence in Damascus,” said Saffour.

Ayssami’s kidnapping is not the first of its kind to take place in Lebanon since the beginning of the Syrian pro-democracy uprising and the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown on it.

In February, when anti-regime activity was just beginning in Syria, Lebanese military intelligence agents arrested six Syrians belonging to the Jasem family while they were distributing flyers calling for democratic change in Syria. Three of them disappeared in the early hours of the morning after their release on Feb. 25, according to Nadim Houry, head researcher at Human Rights Watch’s Beirut office.

“Three civilian cars were seen waiting by the police station the night of the Jasems’ disappearance. One of the drivers was identified as a member of the Lebanese security services who was at the time in charge of security at the Syrian Embassy,” a high-ranking officer from the Lebanese security services, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told IPS. The Lebanese security officer who allegedly led the kidnapping was identified as Salah al-Hajj by pan-Arab daily ‘al-Hayat’.

“We could not arrest him due to the current fiery political situation, but he was stripped of any official responsibilities,” the Lebanese security services officer said. In March, the Syrian embassy issued a statement denying that anybody associated with it had played any role in the disappearance of the Jasem brothers.

The Jasem case bears many similarities to a host of disappearances that occurred in Lebanon during the heyday of Syria’s occupation of the country in the 1990s, and even after its military withdrew in 2005.

In one instance, Nawar Aboud – an accountant at the United National Alliance (UNA), a political group affiliated with Syrian opposition figure Refaat al-Asad – was arrested on Dec. 24, 2008 by members of the Lebanese Military Intelligence in Tripoli, Lebanon’s northern capital. Aboud was taken to a local military base for interrogation along with two other UNA employees. Like the Jasem brothers, he disappeared after his release the next day.

“Lebanon has a painful history of people being detained and illegally transferred to Syria. This issue is too sensitive to be dealt with lightly,” said Houry. If members of the security services are involved in the kidnapping of members of the Syrian opposition, they should be prosecuted. Lebanon’s judiciary should open an independent and transparent inquiry to shed light on these disappearances and establish responsibility for them… Only a credible and transparent investigation will put to rest fears that Lebanon’s security services may have acted outside the law and cooperated with Syrian security services in the kidnapping of Syrian opposition members.”

Source: Inter-Press Service.

Using bed sheets, 5 prisoners escape Lebanese jail

August 13, 2011 — BEIRUT (AP) — Five prisoners escaped a high-security Lebanese prison Saturday by scaling down the building’s walls with bed sheets before mixing with visiting relatives and walking out of the compound with them, the interior minister said.

The minister, Marwan Charbel, blamed the escape from the Roumeih prison east of Beirut on “the pure negligence” of the guards and demanded that officers who were in charge when the jail break took place be punished.

Lebanese authorities later released photographs, names and the nationalities of the five fugitives, urging people to contact police with any information. A security official said the five are a Lebanese, a Kuwaiti, a Sudanese and two Syrians.

Late Saturday, members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah group detained the Sudanese man in the Biddawi refugee camp in northern Lebanon and handed him over to Lebanese authorities, security officials said on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Local media reports said the escaped convicts included members of the al-Qaida-inspired Fatah Islam group. Charbel refused confirm or deny that there were Fatah Islam members among those who fled. Fatah Islam fought a three-month battle against the army inside the Palestinian refugee camp Nahr el-Bared in northern Lebanon in 2007. The Lebanese army crushed the group after three months, but the clashes left 220 militants, 171 soldiers and 47 Palestinian civilians dead. Dozens of the group’s members were captured.

Lebanese troops, backed by an army helicopter, set up a security cordon around the prison and searched all cars leaving the area, security officials said.

No basis to Hezbollah claims in Syria?

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 10 (UPI) — A U.N. agency dismissed allegations it had claimed Hezbollah was involved in the Syrian unrest after the Shiite resistance cried foul.

Al-Arabiya, citing Radio France, claimed the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees was set to release a report accusing Syrian ally Hezbollah of killing Syrian army defectors.

Hezbollah denied the allegations, saying the report was part of an effort to discredit the group.

Hezbollah had called on the U.N. agency to be “credible.”

Lebanese media, which picked up the al-Arabiya report, had said the Iranian military was likely involved in the Syrian unrest as well.

The UNHCR, Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper reported, said the allegations it was making claims on Hezbollah were baseless.

“The UNHCR has categorically denied the information published on the Web site of Al-Arabiya news channel on Aug. 5 quoting French sources and attributing inaccurate statements to UNHCR,” a statement read.

Hezbollah was quoted by the Lebanese newspaper as saying it has issued “many statements” denying it played a role in the Syrian crackdown.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Bodyguard of Palestinian commander ‘killed in Lebanon’

Thursday 15/12/2011

BEIRUT (Ma’an) — The bodyguard of a top Palestinian commander was shot dead on Wednesday in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon, a local official told Lebanese media.

“At around 10:00 p.m., a masked gunman shot and killed Ashraf Qadiri at his shop here in the Ain al-Hilweh camp,” Munir Maqdah, in charge of security at the camp near Saida, told Now Lebanon.

Qadiri was a bodyguard for Mohammed Abdel Hamid Issa, alias “Al-Lino,” the head of Palestinian party Fatah’s police force in Ain al-Hilweh, according to the Beirut-based news site.

The shooting was the second such incident targeting one of Issa’s bodyguards, Now said.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.