Lebanese burn ruling parties’ offices after night of clashes

Beirut was rocked by the most violent government crackdown on protesters since nationwide demonstrations began two months ago. (AP)
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Updated 15 December 2019

Lebanese burn ruling parties’ offices after night of clashes

  • Attacks came just hours after Beirut was rocked by the most violent government crackdown on protesters

BEIRUT: Attackers in northern Lebanon set fire to the offices of two major political parties on Sunday, the state-run National News Agency said.
The assaults came just hours after the capital Beirut was rocked by the most violent government crackdown on protesters since nationwide demonstrations began two months ago. Lebanese security forces fired rubber bullets, tear gas and used water cannons throughout the night to disperse anti-government protesters from the city center — the epicenter of the protest movement in Beirut — and around parliament.
The overnight confrontations in Beirut left more than 130 people injured, according to the Red Cross and the Lebanese Civil Defense.
In the northern Akkar district on Sunday, attackers broke the windows and torched the local office for resigned Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s political party in the town of Kharibet Al-Jindi.
In a separate attack in Akkar district, assailants stormed the local office of the largest party in parliament, affiliated with President Michel Aoun and headed by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. Their party said the contents of the office in Jedidat Al-Juma town had also been smashed and burned.
Lebanon is facing one of its worst economic crises in decades, and the protesters accuse the ruling political class in place for three decades of mismanagement and corruption.
The violence comes a day before the president is due to hold talks with different parliamentary blocs to name a new prime minister on Monday.
Interior Minister Raya Al-Hassan on Sunday ordered an investigation into the clashes which she said injured both protesters and security forces. She said she watched the confrontations “with concern, sadness and shock.”
Al-Hassan blamed “infiltrators” for instigating the friction and called on the demonstrators to be wary of those who want to exploit their protests for political reasons. She didn’t elaborate.
Nationwide protests began on Oct. 17, and the government headed by Hariri resigned two weeks later.
Political parties have since been bickering over the shape and form of the new Cabinet. Protesters want a technocratic government, not affiliated with established political parties.
After weeks of back and forth, Hariri has emerged as the likely candidate for the job.


Israel ‘will not oppose’ advanced US arms sales to UAE

Updated 23 October 2020

Israel ‘will not oppose’ advanced US arms sales to UAE

  • Israel has long opposed the sale of the fighter planes to any US allies in the region including Egypt and Jordan
  • Gantz has received assurances from Esper that Israel’s “qualitative military edge” would not suffer

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday his country would not oppose US sales of advanced weapon systems to the UAE, apparently referring to F-35 fighter planes.
“The prime minister and the defense minister both agree that since the US is upgrading Israel’s military capability and maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge, Israel will not oppose the sale of these systems to the UAE,” the premier said in a joint statement with Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Gantz held talks in the Pentagon Thursday where he got assurances from US Defense Secretary Mark Esper that Israel’s “qualitative military edge” would not suffer.
Israel has made its concerns clear following President Donald Trump’s confirmation last month that the United States could sell F-35s to the UAE.
It has long opposed the sale of the fighter planes to any US allies in the region including Egypt and Jordan, both of which have peace treaties with Israel.
Israel has already received a first consignment of F-35s, which are coveted by Gulf powers including the UAE.
The Netanyahu-Gantz statement came minutes after the announcement in Washington of the normalization of relations between Israel and Sudan.
It is the third Arab country to officially recognize the Jewish state this year, following the UAE and Bahrain.

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