Saturday 7 December 2019

In brief: Hezbollah's leader vows not to turn over Shiite militants for PM's murder

Hezbollah's leader vowed yesterday never to turn over four members of his Shiite militant group who have been indicted in the 2005 murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, saying that "even in 300 years" authorities will not be able to touch them.

In his first comments since the indictments were announced on Thursday, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah also promised the country would not see a new "civil war" linked to the findings of a UN-backed tribunal. But the assurance came with a warning that peace in Lebanon depends on the government bowing to Hezbollah's power.

Nasrallah, who is strongly supported by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad's, also denounced the six-year investigation as a plot by Israel and the US, saying it was "aggression against our holy warriors".

Hezbollah, which gets crucial support from Iran and Syria, has denied any role in the killing and accused the UN-backed tribunal of doing Israel's bidding.

Hezbollah has amassed unprecedented political clout in the government this year, having toppled the previous administration in January when then-Prime Minister Saad Hariri -- the murdered leader's son -- refused to renounce the tribunal investigating his father's death.

Assad fires governor of activist city

Syrian President Bashar Assad dismissed the governor of the key central city of Hama yesterday in apparent political payback after an estimated 300,000 gathered in the largest protest yet against his dictatorial regime.

In 1982, Mr Assad's late father, Hafez Assad, attacked Hama to crush a rising. The attack left between 10,000 and 25,000 people dead.

Gaddafi threatens to attack Europe

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi vowed yesterday to attack "homes, offices and families" in Europe in revenge for Nato airstrikes -- but US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said he should quit instead of issuing threats.

In a telephone address relayed to 100,000 supporters in Tripoli's Green Square, Gaddafi urged Nato to halt its bombing campaign or risk seeing Libyan fighters descend on Europe "like a swarm of locusts or bees".

Gaddafi forces continued to shell the rebel-held coastal town of Misrata yesterday, a Nato official said. Libyan TV reported that Nato bombs had caused casualties in the central region of al-Jufrah, but have no further details.

Gaddafi, his son and spy chief all face an international arrest warrant for crimes against humanity.

Israel denies sabotaging Irish aid ship

Israel has denied claims it sabotaged the MV Saoirse, an Irish ship docked in Turkey on a mission to bring humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory in Gaza.

Peace activists accused Israel of damaging other ships docked in Turkey and Greece that are part of a flotilla attempting to reach the Palestinian territory and break an Israeli blockade. Efforts were further stalled late last week when Greece prevented ships from sailing.

Israel's foreign ministry yesterday said the sabotage charge was "ridiculous", calling it a "sad conspiracy theory". Israeli forces killed nine activists last year in a night-time raid on a ship sailing in a similar flotilla.

Eurozone OKs Greece's €12bn tranche

Eurozone finance ministers agreed yesterday to disburse a further €12bn to Greece and said the details of a second aid package for Athens would be worked out in the "coming weeks".

After a conference call among the 17 eurozone ministers, it was agreed that the next, fifth tranche of a €110bn bailout agreed with Greece in May 2010 would be paid by July 15 as long as the IMF's board signs off on the disbursement. The IMF will meet on July 8 to discuss it.

Bahrain leaders in reconciliation talks

Bahrain's Sunni rulers have started reconciliation talks with the opposition, four months after Shia-led protests for human rights led to harsh crackdowns on dissent.

Washington has strongly pushed for dialogue in the tiny but strategic Gulf kingdom, which hosts the US Navy's 5th Fleet. The Sunni rulers have made token concessions ahead of the talks, including sanctioning an international investigation that will probe the conduct of security forces.

Moroccan king scores vote 'victory'

Morocco's 'Arab Spring' protesters vowed yesterday to pursue demonstrations after King Mohammed scored an avalanche referendum victory on constitutional changes they say do nothing to ease his tight grip on power.

Preliminary results of Friday's poll showed 98.5 per cent of voters approved the text with a turnout that officials estimated to be 73 per cent. The opposition alleged irregularities in voting procedures.

Sunday Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News