Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for Lebanon

Newsline: Ambassador designated as Lebanon’s new PM

Lebanese President Michel Aoun designated ambassador Mustapha Adib on Monday to form a new government after he secured the support of a majority of MPs. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-crisis-presidency-pm/lebanons-aoun-designates-ambassador-adib-as-pm-idUSKBN25R1BO) The previous government quit on Aug. 10 in the wake of the catastrophic explosion at Beirut port.

Newsline: Senior U.S. diplomat heads to Lebanon to stress need for ‘urgent’ reform

The No. 3 U.S. diplomat will head to Lebanon on Thursday to stress the “urgent need” for the country to embrace fundamental reform, the State Department said, in the aftermath of a blast that caused large-scale damage in the capital Beirut. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-security-blast-usa/senior-us-diplomat-heads-to-lebanon-to-stress-need-for-urgent-reform-idUSKCN25921R) The Aug. 4 explosion at a warehouse storing highly explosive material killed at least 172 people, injured some 6,000, left around 300,000 without habitable housing and wrecked swathes of the Mediterranean city, compounding a deep economic and financial crisis. In planned meetings with political leaders, civil society, and youth groups, Undersecretary for Political Affairs David Hale will also underscore America’s willingness to support any government that is “genuinely committed” to and acting upon such a reform agenda, the State Department said in a statement.

Newsline: Syrian embassy in Lebanon says 43 Syrians killed in Beirut explosion

As many as 43 Syrians were killed in the mega blast that shook the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Tuesday, state news agency SANA reported on Saturday. Citing a statement by the Syrian embassy in Lebanon, the report said the death toll is not final as search for missing people and casualties is ongoing. (http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-08/08/c_139275349.htm) Facilitations have been provided for returning some of the bodies to Syria and bury others in Lebanon, said the embassy, adding that coordination will continue with the Lebanese authorities to search for the missing people. At least 154 people were killed in the massive explosion and more than 6,000 others injured, but numbers are expected to rise as the search for the missing people continues.

Newsline: German Embassy diplomat confirmed killed in Beirut blast

The official’s death is the first confirmed Germany fatality following Tuesday’s explosion. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas confirmed that she was killed in her home and said the foreign ministry was in ‘deep mourning.’ A German diplomat was killed in Tuesday’s massive explosion in Beirut, marking the first death of a German citizen due to the blast. “Our worst fears have been confirmed,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement. “A member of our embassy in Beirut has been killed in the aftermath of the explosion in her home. All employees of the Federal Foreign Office are in deep grieving for their colleague.” (https://www.dw.com/en/german-embassy-diplomat-confirmed-killed-in-beirut-blast/a-54464915) “I would like to thank everyone who, like our late colleague, takes great personal risks around the world every day in serving our country,” added Maas.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy in Beirut says American citizen killed in blast

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut says at least one American citizen was killed and several more were injured in Tuesday’s massive explosion in Beirut’s port. “We offer our sincerest condolences to their loved ones and are working to provide the affected U.S. citizens and their families all possible consular assistance. We are working closely with local authorities to determine if any additional U.S. citizens were affected,” the embassy said in a statement. (https://www.news8000.com/the-latest-american-citizen-killed-in-blast-embassy-says/) The embassy said all of its employees are safe and accounted for.

Newsline: Wife of Dutch ambassador seriously injured in Beirut blast

he wife of the Dutch ambassador to Lebanon was seriously injured by a huge blast that took place in Beirut’s port on Tuesday, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-security-blast-netherlands/wife-of-dutch-ambassador-seriously-injured-in-beirut-blast-ministry-idUSKCN2511FJ) A spokesman said she had been admitted to hospital. He said the blast had caused extensive damage to the Dutch embassy, also wounding four other people connected to it.

Newsline: Australian Embassy building damaged in Beirut blast

At least one Australian was killed, and the Australian Embassy building has been “significantly compromised,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Two Filipino citizens also died from the explosion, and eight others are injured, said a statement from the Philippine Embassy in Beirut. Eleven other Filipino seafarers are still missing. (https://edition.cnn.com/2020/08/05/middleeast/beirut-blast-explainer-intl-hnk/index.html) One Japanese citizen, one Indonesian, and six Turkish citizens were also injured, according to authorities from the three countries.

Newsline: Lebanon’s Hezbollah files official complaint against US envoy

The military arm of Lebanon’s Hezbollah has filed a formal complaint against the US Ambassador Dorothy Shea following comments she made in a recent interview. Secretary-General of the Iranian-backed Shia militia Hasan Nasrallah had warned the group’s parliamentary bloc would make the move during a recent speech. According to local media reports, the head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc Mohammed Raad made the formal complaint to the Foreign Ministry during a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nassif Hitti, saying afterwards: “We asked Minister Hitti to take the measures that he sees appropriate to rein in the US ambassador’s behaviour, statements and meddling in our domestic affairs… the ambassador must stop interfering in our internal affairs and she must stop the rhetoric that incites the Lebanese”. “We consider that respecting diplomatic rules and norms would reflect positively on the reputation of the ambassador and those whom she represents,” Raad was quoted as saying by Lebanese daily Naharnet. (https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200714-hezbollah-files-official-complaint-against-us-envoy/) The formal complaint comes after US Ambassador Shea appeared on the Saudi-owned news channel Al-Hadath at the end of June saying the US has “grave concerns about the role of Hezbollah” which “is destabilising the country and jeopardizing Lebanon’s economic recovery”. Following the comments, Judge Mohammed Mazeh, who is based in the southern Lebanese city of Tyre, a Hezbollah stronghold, banned local media, as well as foreign journalists working in the country, from reporting the comments for a year. The ruling garnered widespread criticism including from several Lebanese news channels that broadcast interviews with the US ambassador after the ban had been issued, in a show of defiance. Mazeh was referred to a judicial inspection board over his issuing of the ban but later resigned.

Newsline: U.S. Ambassador Appears on Lebanese TV Despite Court-Imposed Ban

Lebanese media broadcast interviews with the U.S. ambassador on Sunday, ignoring a ruling by a judge who banned the diplomat from television for a year over remarks that criticised the powerful Shi’ite movement Hezbollah. Hezbollah is the main political force behind the Lebanese government. Washington considers the heavily armed pro-Iran movement to be a terrorist group. In an interview with Saudi-owned AlHadath television on Friday, U.S. ambassador Dorothy Shea said Hezbollah’s behaviour was preventing Lebanon from properly dealing with a deep economic crisis. A Shi’ite judge in the southern city of Tyre ruled on Saturday that Shea’s comments had incited sectarian strife, and banned broadcasting interviews with her for a year. State-owned National News Agency (NAA) said media that violate the ban would be fined $200,000. But the government has repudiated the court ruling, while criticising Shea over the remarks that had prompted it. Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad tweeted that while she understood the judge’s concerns about diplomats meddling in Lebanon’s internal affairs “no one had the right to prevent the media from covering news, or to curb press freedoms”. (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2020-06-28/us-ambassador-appears-on-lebanese-tv-despite-court-imposed-ban) A Lebanese government official and a Western diplomatic source both said Shea had been summoned to the foreign ministry on Sunday. No further details were given.

Newsline: Philippines’ ambassador to Lebanon dies of coronavirus

The ambassador of Philippines to Lebanon died of the novel coronavirus on Thursday, an official statement confirmed. “With deep sadness, the Department of Foreign Affairs announces the untimely demise on 2 April 2020, of Ambassador Bernardita Catalla, Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon, from complications arising from COVID-19,” the Philippine’s Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. (https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/philippines-ambassador-to-lebanon-dies-of-coronavirus/1789064) Catalla, 62, who suffered from chronic respiratory problems, passed away at a hospital in Beirut where she was receiving treatment. After surfacing in Wuhan, China last December, coronavirus has spread to 180 countries and regions.