US sanctions 2 senior members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah

Sheikh Nabil Qaouk, Hezbollah’s military chief in south Lebanon, sits in front of the militia’s flag in Tyre in 2006. (File/AFP)
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Updated 24 October 2020

US sanctions 2 senior members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah

  • The sanctioned officials are Nabil Qaouk and Hassan Al-Baghdadi
  • Qaouk also served as Hezbollah’s military commander in south Lebanon from 1995 until 2010

BEIRUT: The US Treasury has sanctioned two high-ranking Hezbollah officials, including a former military commander in the country’s south.
The sanctioned officials are Nabil Qaouk and Hassan Al-Baghdadi, both members of Hezbollah’s Central Council. The Council is responsible for electing members of the group’s top decision-making body, the Shoura Council. Qaouk also served as Hezbollah’s military commander in south Lebanon from 1995 until 2010.
“Today we’re designating two Hezbollah officials, further exposing the terrorist group’s activities and disrupting its operational networks,” US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in a tweet Friday.
The Trump administration has intensified sanctions on the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group and institutions linked to it to unprecedented levels, targeting lawmakers and allies of the group for the first time. The US considers the group, which is heavily armed and a dominant military and political force in Lebanon, to be a terrorist organization.
Last month, the US Treasury sanctioned two former Cabinet ministers allied with Hezbollah, including the country’s ex-finance minister. Those sanctions were a rare move and delivered a strong message to allies of the group in Lebanon, which is experiencing an unprecedented economic and financial crisis.
Separately, the US Treasury also sanctioned Iran’s ambassador to Iraq — a member of the Quds Force, an elite wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, that oversees foreign operations. Iraj Masjedi took over the political side of Iran’s Iraq portfolio after the leader of the Quds Force, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a US attack in January this year..
Pompeo said Masjedi has directed the group’s activities for years, threatening Iraqi stability.


UN says Sudan needs $150 million to help Ethiopian refugees

Updated 28 November 2020

UN says Sudan needs $150 million to help Ethiopian refugees

  • The conflict broke out on November 4 between Ethiopia’s federal forces and leaders of the region’s ruling party
  • Sudan has since hosted more than 43,000 Ethiopian refugees fleeing from the intense fighting into one of its most impoverished regions

UM RAQUBA, Sudan: Sudan needs $150 million in aid to cope with the flood of Ethiopian refugees crossing its border from conflict-stricken Tigray, the UN refugee agency chief said Saturday during a visit to a camp.
The Tigray conflict broke out on November 4 between Ethiopia’s federal forces and leaders of the region’s ruling party.
Sudan has since hosted more than 43,000 Ethiopian refugees fleeing from the intense fighting into one of its most impoverished regions.
“Sudan needs $150 million for six months to provide these refugees water, shelter and health services,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi at Um Raquba camp, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the border.
Grandi called on “donors to provide Sudan with these resources as soon as they can.”
Between 500 and 600 refugees are still crossing the border each day.
Sudan has sought to provide help to accommodate the mass refugee influx as it struggles with its own deep economic crisis.
The country is also going through a fragile transition since the April 2019 ouster of veteran strongman Omar Al-Bashir, after unprecedented mass protests against his rule, triggered by economic hardship.
Some 65 percent of Sudan’s nearly 42 million people live below the poverty line, according to government figures.
As the Tigray fighting rages, Grandi also voiced concern over the fate of tens of thousands of Eritrean refugees living in Ethiopia for decades.
“We don’t have access to them,” he said, urging the Ethiopian government to authorize visits by the United Nations.