English LCCC Newsbulletin For Lebanese, Lebanese Related, Global News & Editorials
For  September 22/2020
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
Mark 09/38-50: “John said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward. ‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell.+t,+u And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. ‘For everyone will be salted with fire.”Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’”

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on September 21-22/2021
Health Ministry: 652 new Corona cases, 6 deaths
Aoun meets delegation of US Evangelical Churches, receives two congratulatory cables on government formation
Mikati to visit France on Thursday, meet Macron Friday
Mikati meets ambassadors of France, Jordan, U.S.
UNIFIL marks International Day of Peace
Aoun, Miqati Discuss Measures against Israel's Disputed Oil Drilling
Has Wafiq Safa Threatened Judge Bitar?
Brax: Gasoline Shortage to Improve by Midweek
Army Arrests IS-linked Terrorist Cell in Tripoli
Jumblat Asks about Iraqi Oil, Slams 'Diesel Invasion'
UNRWA Head Alarmed by Incidents at Two Lebanon Palestinian Camps
FPM Praises Miqati, But Says Won’t Cover Up Govt. Mistakes
UNRWA Head Alarmed by Incidents at Two Lebanon Palestinian Camps
Reports: Paris Betting on Govt. Success, West Warns over Obstruction
Army command holds ambassadorial meeting to follow up on Paris conference outcomes
Bassil discusses political developments with Australian ambassador
To those who are placing all their bets on the upcoming elections if elections/Jean-Marie Kassab/September 21/2021
Investigation in shackles/Sally Abou AlJoud/Now Lebanon/September 21/2021

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 21-22/2021
Libya Lawmakers Pass No Confidence Vote for Transition Govt.
Poll Finds Nearly 80% of Palestinians Want Abbas to Resign
UAE Welcomes Regional Rivals at Major Natural Gas Conference
Tunisian President Vows New Electoral Code, Transition Team
Military General who Ruled Egypt after Mubarak Ouster Dies
European Court: Russia Responsible for Litvinenko Killing
Ballot-stuffing Videos Taint Russian Election
A coup attempt in Sudan "failed"
Trudeau’s Liberals win Canada election, but miss majority
German FM Calls US Submarine Actions 'Irritating,' 'Disappointing'
Egypt's ex military ruler Tantawi, key figure in 2011, dies at 85

Titles For The Latest The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 21-22/2021
The Sudanese Inattention Trap/Alberto M. Fernandez/MEMRI/September 21/2021
Egypt and Israel on path toward a warmer peace/Yossi Mekelberg/Arab News/September 21, 2021
Jordan, Egypt and Israel offer hope on Palestinian conflict/Osama Al-Sharif/Arab News/September 21, 2021
UN efforts stymied by discord among its members/ Dr. Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg/Arab News/September 21, 2021

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on September 21-22/2021
Health Ministry: 652 new Corona cases, 6 deaths
NNA/September 21/2021
In its daily report on the COVID-19 developments, the Ministry of Public Health announced on Tuesday the registration of 652 new Coronavirus infections, which raised the cumulative number of confirmed cases to-date to 619,232. The report added that 6 deaths were recorded during the past 24 hours.

Aoun meets delegation of US Evangelical Churches, receives two congratulatory cables on government formation
NNA/September 21/2021
President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, met a delegation representing Evangelical Churches in the United States, headed by Archbishop, Raffoul Najem. Archbishop Najem thanked the President for meeting the delegation, and expressed his happiness for visiting Lebanon. “We are very worried about the Lebanon we love, Lebanon whose name is mentioned 77 times in the Holy Bible. Lebanon in our view, represents an important strategic place, not only in the Middle East, but in the whole world, from a spiritual point of view and not from a political context. We strongly believe that it is a safe haven for the Church in the Middle East” Archbishop Najem stated. “We represent hundreds of churches, and we came to express our solidarity with Lebanon and help its people. After the tragic Beirut Port explosion, we were able to collect generous donations and sent them to 256 Evangelical Churches in Lebanon, to help them survive and continue” Najem added. Archbishop Najem also indicated that the delegation cam to Lebanon with aid, especially medicines, foodstuffs and goods which were distributed in various regions, from Beirut to Baalbek. In addition, Najem asserted that “The most important thing is that we were able to gather 55 priests representing 55 churches of different sects. Our main goal is to unite the Church in Lebanon, and to work on the basis of mercy and love to help in the reconstruction. We are here to listen to you and to represent your voice in the US”.
Afterwards, Bishop Joseph Matera thanked the President for receiving them, and praised the stances of President Aoun. Bishop Matera said that he heads a group whose goal is to press for change, and it is linked to an international alliance of around 3000 network leaders, in 50 or 60 countries. Bishop Matera addressed the Lebanese saying “We started collecting money to help the people, and we are here today aiming to provide support to the evangelical churches which constitute a minority. We will do all we can to convey this image to the whole world”.
Matera also emphasized that the system operated away from any association with a political entity. “We extend our hands for partnership and cooperation” Matera said.
President Aoun:
For his part, the President welcomed the delegation and praised their work, especially as its goal is to help the Lebanese people “Which shows solidarity with Lebanon in light of this difficult crisis and with good spirit and love to help the other”.
“This love is the core of the Christian religion, which considers that a person is a human being no matter the difference in religion, especially since Lebanon is a model for coexistence, and is different from other races, peoples and countries” President Aoun said.
“We mustn’t forget that the Lebanese area today represents the area of the world with the Lebanese in the diaspora who have not forgotten their homeland. The Lebanese, through their culture and civilization, can adapt in different continents, because their culture represents the quality of civilizations due to its spread in all parts of the world, and mastering different languages” the President added.
After the meeting, Archbishop Najem expressed his happiness to be with the delegation in Lebanon, and pointed out that the purpose of the visit, which represents around 15 US states, is to help Lebanon and extend a hand to its people of all sects without discrimination, in addition to uniting churches of different sects.Head of the Association of the Legion of Honor:
President Aoun met the Head of the Legion of Honor Association in Lebanon, Ambassador Khalil Karam.Ambassador Karam congratulated the President on the formation of the new government, and conveyed a verbal message from the President of the Association in France, Rear Admiral Alain Koldivy, who will visit Lebanon with a delegation next January 17, on the occasion of the centenary of the Assembly, and will participate in several activities.
Moreover, Ambassador Karam will represent the Lebanese branch of the Association in the celebration which will be held on September 28 in Paris, in the presence of French President, Emmanuel Macron.
For his part, President Aoun conveyed his greetings to President Macron and praised the assistance provided by the association to Lebanon, especially after the Beirut Port explosion.
Congratulation Cables: President Aoun received congratulatory telegrams on forming the new government, from the Qatari Prince, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad II. The Qatari Prince expressed his “Sincere congratulations and best wishes”, wishing the President good health and wellness, and hoping that the new government succeeds in achieving peoples’ aspirations, development, progress and prosperity. In addition, President Aoun received a congratulation cable from Deputy Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hamad II, who wished the government all the success. -- Presidency Press Office

Mikati to visit France on Thursday, meet Macron Friday
NNA/September 21/2021
Prime Minister Najib Mikati will pay an official visit to France on Thursday, and French President Emmanuel Macron is scheduled to receive him on Friday.

Mikati meets ambassadors of France, Jordan, U.S.
NNA/September 21/2021
Prime Minister Najib Mikati met Tuesday at the Grand Serail with French Ambassador to Lebanon, Anne Grillo, over the current general situation and the bilateral relations. He later received Ambassador of Jordan Walid al-Hadid, with whom he discussed the Lebanese-Jordanian ties. U.S. Ambassador Dorothy Shea also visited the Prime Minister today. Mikati had earlier met with a delegation of the International Chamber of Commerce.

UNIFIL marks International Day of Peace
NNA/September 21/2021
UNIFIL today marked the International Day of Peace with a ceremony at its headquarters in Naqoura, south Lebanon. On the occasion, UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col paid tribute to civilian and military peacekeepers for their sustained efforts – with support of the parties – to maintain security and stability in south Lebanon and along the Blue Line. “While we are fortunate in south Lebanon to have enjoyed a decade and a half of relative stability, events in recent months have shown us that peace is fragile, and should never be taken for granted,” the UNIFIL head told the ceremony, attended by LAF representatives, mayors and fellow peacekeepers. Maj. Gen. Del Col hailed UNIFIL’s work with the parties and the partnership with the LAF to accomplish the mission’s mandate. “UNIFIL is committed to work with Lebanese authorities, to support the LAF and the people of south Lebanon. In so doing, we pave the way for all political and diplomatic efforts to take root, towards a lasting solution and a permanent ceasefire,” the UNIFIL chief said. He was referring to the recent Security Council Resolution 2591, adopted on 30 August renewing UNIFIL’s mandate for one more year, which asked UNIFIL to take “temporary and special measures” to extend logistical support to the LAF for six months. Noting the deteriorating situation in Lebanon due to the compounded effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented socio-economic crises, Maj. Gen. Del Col said UNIFIL and its troop-contributing countries are doing their best to support and protect the people of south Lebanon. “We are helping local communities build capacity to halt the spread of COVID-19; donating medical equipment, expertise, PPEs (personal protective equipment), PCR tests; and providing training to hospitals, schools and communities,” UNIFIL chief added. On the occasion, members of UNIFIL leadership team and LAF representative Brigadier General Maroun Kobayati awarded 28 military staff officers with the UN Medal for their contribution to fulfilling the Mission’s mandate. The UN General Assembly established the International Day of Peace in 1981 in order to strengthen the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire. The UN invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace. The global theme of this year’s observance is “Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world.”

Aoun, Miqati Discuss Measures against Israel's Disputed Oil Drilling
Naharnet/September 21/2021
President Michel Aoun held a meeting Tuesday in Baabda with Prime Minister Najib Miqati and Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib. The Presidency said the meeting tackled the developments “after Israel tasked an American firm with offering evaluation services for the drilling of gas and oil wells in the disputed (offshore) area.”“The meeting was dedicated to studying the repercussions of the Israeli step and the measures that Lebanon will take following the letter that it addressed to the U.N. in this regard,” the Presidency added.

Has Wafiq Safa Threatened Judge Bitar?
Naharnet/September 21/2021
LBCI TV reporter Edmond Sassine has posted a tweet alleging that Hizbullah official Wafiq Safa has threatened the judge probing the Beirut port blast Tarek Bitar. "Hizbullah through Wafiq Safa has sent a threatening message to Judge Tarek Bitar," Sassine tweeted. "We're totally fed up with you. We will go with you until the end in the legal course and if it doesn't work out we will uproot you," Sassine quoted Safa as telling Bitar. TV networks meanwhile said that State Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat has asked Bitar to prepare a report about "what's being circulated about a verbal message that he indirectly received from Mr. Wafiq Safa."

Brax: Gasoline Shortage to Improve by Midweek
Naharnet/September 21/2021
A number of importing companies will start distributing gasoline to the local market, Georges Brax – member of the syndicate of gas stations owners – said on Tuesday. Brax told the National News Agency that many gas stations will re-open successively and that “we will witness a remarkable improvement” in the coming days. He added that “three ships carrying more than 100 million liters of gasoline will unload their cargo by Wednesday, which will cover the market needs for at least two weeks.”Brax urged the competent officials "to announce the process that will be adopted to permanently lift fuel subsidies” in order to prevent what could create “confusion” or “a new crisis of another kind."

Army Arrests IS-linked Terrorist Cell in Tripoli
Naharnet/September 21/2021
The Military Intelligence arrested in Tripoli “a number of people who formed a cell supporting the terrorist Islamic State organization,” the Army Command said in a statement Tuesday. The cell had purchased individual weapons and ammunition in order to carry out terrorist attacks. “The cell members sought to recruit other people to help them,” the statement said. According to the Army command, the cell had started its activity last June and carried out the assassination of the retired first adjutant Ahmed Murad in Tripoli on August 22, 2021.The detainees are being interrogated under the supervision of the competent judiciary, the Army stated.

Jumblat Asks about Iraqi Oil, Slams 'Diesel Invasion'

Naharnet/September 21/2021
Progressives Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat on Tuesday tweeted about Lebanon’s electricity crisis and the diesel that Hizbullah brought from Iran. “As if everything is calculated. An announcement is made about Jordanian electricity and Egyptian gas, which is a chance for beginning to address the electricity crisis, after which comes a diesel invasion,” Jumblat tweeted. “One asks about the Iraqi oil and the ambiguity surrounding its replacement and receives no answer. And finally there is the farce of parliament’s power cut, the subsequent bravados and the Iranian oil excavation,” the PSP leader added.
“Where is the state of Lebanon?” he wondered.

UNRWA Head Alarmed by Incidents at Two Lebanon Palestinian Camps
Naharnet/September 21/2021
Phillipe Lazzarini, the head of the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, has said that he is “very alarmed” by two “major” security developments that happened at two Palestinian refugees camps in Lebanon over the weekend. On the morning of September 19, protesters from the temporary housing units near the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp broke into the UNRWA construction site office, causing severe damage to the premises and to seven Agency vehicles. No one was injured. “This incident came in the aftermath of a series of thefts in our installations in the camp over the last few weeks. Palestinian faction leaders condemned the incident and the thefts and pledged their support to ensure these incidents would not occur again,” Lazzarini said in a statement. On the same day, in the Ain al-Hilweh camp, in the south of Lebanon, fighting between the Fatah and Jund al-Sham armed factions erupted, and fighters “entered four UNRWA schools,” Lazzarini added. Seven people were injured because of the fighting there, including two civilians in Sidon. Lazzarini said Palestinian faction leaders have condemned the incident and have committed to investigate it. “I strongly condemn these incidents, which severely undermine the neutrality and inviolability of our premises and put at serious risk the protection and security of Palestine refugees, UNRWA personnel and property. UNRWA is requesting that all parties commit to respect the Agency’s neutrality and the inviolability of its installations at all times and to take all measures necessary to ensure that incidents to the contrary are not repeated,” he added. Lazzarini also said that he continues to be “extremely concerned” about the deteriorating situation in Lebanon as a whole and its “significant impact on Palestine refugees who were already among the most vulnerable communities.” “UNRWA is a front-row witness to the immense needs and the high level of poverty among Palestine refugees in Lebanon. The Agency is sparing no effort to advocate for additional support to the Palestine refugee community in Lebanon,” he said. “In order to continue to deliver critical services, UNRWA needs both additional financial support and full respect for the safety of its personnel as well as for the inviolability of its installations at all times,” he added.

FPM Praises Miqati, But Says Won’t Cover Up Govt. Mistakes

Naharnet/September 21/2021
Even though the Free Patriotic Movement granted confidence to the government, “this doesn’t mean we will support it if it doesn’t commit to its obligations,” an FPM informed source said. The source told al-Joumhouria newspaper, in remarks published Tuesday, that the “FPM will loudly oppose the government when needed.”The source pointed out that the final judgment will be “on actions not words.”“We will certainly not cover up mistakes,” the source stressed, “even if the culprit is a minister affiliated with President Michel Aoun, we will confront him like we confronted former economy minister Raoul Nehme.” “We could build upon the new intersections between the bloc and Prime Minister Najib Miqati in the future,” the source said, adding that Miqati “doesn’t need to create a fight with Aoun to enflame the Sunnis sentiments.”“The man is capable of dealing with pressure; he preferred to be a Prime minister in the (Grand) Serail over being a hero in the ex-prime ministers’ club,” the source went on to say.

UNRWA Head Alarmed by Incidents at Two Lebanon Palestinian Camps
Naharnet/September 21/2021
Phillipe Lazzarini, the head of the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, has said that he is “very alarmed” by two “major” security developments that happened at two Palestinian refugees camps in Lebanon over the weekend. On the morning of September 19, protesters from the temporary housing units near the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp broke into the UNRWA construction site office, causing severe damage to the premises and to seven Agency vehicles. No one was injured. “This incident came in the aftermath of a series of thefts in our installations in the camp over the last few weeks. Palestinian faction leaders condemned the incident and the thefts and pledged their support to ensure these incidents would not occur again,” Lazzarini said in a statement. On the same day, in the Ain al-Hilweh camp, in the south of Lebanon, fighting between the Fatah and Jund al-Sham armed factions erupted, and fighters “entered four UNRWA schools,” Lazzarini added. Seven people were injured because of the fighting there, including two civilians in Sidon. Lazzarini said Palestinian faction leaders have condemned the incident and have committed to investigate it. “I strongly condemn these incidents, which severely undermine the neutrality and inviolability of our premises and put at serious risk the protection and security of Palestine refugees, UNRWA personnel and property. UNRWA is requesting that all parties commit to respect the Agency’s neutrality and the inviolability of its installations at all times and to take all measures necessary to ensure that incidents to the contrary are not repeated,” he added. Lazzarini also said that he continues to be “extremely concerned” about the deteriorating situation in Lebanon as a whole and its “significant impact on Palestine refugees who were already among the most vulnerable communities.”
“UNRWA is a front-row witness to the immense needs and the high level of poverty among Palestine refugees in Lebanon. The Agency is sparing no effort to advocate for additional support to the Palestine refugee community in Lebanon,” he said. “In order to continue to deliver critical services, UNRWA needs both additional financial support and full respect for the safety of its personnel as well as for the inviolability of its installations at all times,” he added.

Reports: Paris Betting on Govt. Success, West Warns over Obstruction
Naharnet/September 21/2021
Paris is pleased by the Lebanese government’s announcement that it will abide by the French initiative but it is waiting for a “practical and urgent materialization of this commitment,” French diplomatic sources said. France is pinning great hopes on “the government’s success in implementing the mission program specified for it,” the sources told al-Joumhouria newspaper in remarks published Tuesday. A senior Lebanese official meanwhile told the daily that “Western and European messages and embassies in Lebanon have warned against obstructing the government’s course and besieging the government by political interferences as happened in the past.”

Army command holds ambassadorial meeting to follow up on Paris conference outcomes
NNA/September 21/2021
The Army Command, in cooperation with the Office of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in Lebanon UNSCOL, organized a meeting at the ambassadorial level to follow up on the results of the Paris Conference held on June 17 in support of the Lebanese Army.
The meeting was attended by Armed Forces Commander General Joseph Aoun, UN Special Coordinator Joanna Wronecka, UNIFIL Commander General Stefano Del Col and the ambassadors, chargé d'affaires, and military attaches of: the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Italy, France, Germany, Canada, Russia, China, Netherlands, Finland, Turkey, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, South Korea, European Union, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia, India, Mexico, Norway, Nigeria, and Kazakhstan.
In an address at the meeting, Wronecka said "the crisis in Lebanon affects the operational capabilities of the Lebanese Army. Therefore, the need to support it is more urgent than ever."
"Resolution 2591, which was adopted by the UN Security Council, includes in its tenth paragraph a call for more international support for the army. Therefore, I call on colleagues to adhere to this resolution in seeking to do everything possible to assist the Lebanese army and security institutions," she added.
"In this context, the United Nations is seeking to adopt a mechanism to facilitate the transfer of cash assistance to the LAF and the other Lebanese security services," Wronecka said. Aoun, in turn, thanked the "participating countries for their support and aid to the army, in light of the difficult circumstances that Lebanon is experiencing," and said: "You were our partners in our battle against terrorism. Today, the army is fighting a battle of a different nature, perhaps more dangerous than conventional military war, which is how to deal with the current economic crisis while continuing to carry out our operational tasks and provide the minimum necessities of life for our soldiers and their families, which has become our priority today." He stressed that "the army will remain the backbone of Lebanon and the guarantor of security and stability, not only for Lebanon, but for the region as a whole."

Bassil discusses political developments with Australian ambassador
NNA/September 21/2021
Free Patriotic Movement leader, MP Gebran Bassil, on Tuesday welcomed Australian Ambassador to Lebanon, Rebekah Grindlay, with whom he discussed the most recent political developments and the relationship between the two countries, according to a statement issued by Bassil's office.

To those who are placing all their bets on the upcoming elections if elections

Jean-Marie Kassab/September 21/2021
To those who are placing all their bets on the upcoming elections if elections will ever happen. To those day dreamers who live in Lalaland and think they could possibly win . 
Remember Vichy. Read about Petain. Look at the electoral results of Assad , father and son . Remember Saddam's scores. 
We are living in a simulacrum of democracy , a puppetry show. 
We are living in an Iranian province called Lebanon.
And what if you win and get a couple seats, do you think they will let you  reign or make a change ?Are you dreaming that they will let you get out of the circle that you are allowed to play within. 
And those fond of demonstrations , do you dare to organize one and head towards the Iranian or the Syrian embassy and chant your stories such as Iran Out? Or hold a  banner printed with  your stupid photoshopped images of Nasrallah in Dahia and think you will get away with it? Get 1 km close to the Baabda palace and say one word about Michel Aoun and see what will happen.
You know why ? Because we are occupied and living under a masked Iraniam dictatorship .
And because nobody stood up to the occupant the way it should be. 
Because heroes are dead or old and the current generation wants their problems to be solved via an app they download.
Because courage is  history .
Because we have no leader(s).
Because we are rotten and part of the problem.
Pity the country.

Investigation in shackles
Sally Abou AlJoud/Now Lebanon/September 21/2021
Faced with a flawed domestic investigation, families of victims and survivors of the Beirut blast, supported by human rights groups, turn to the international community for a helping hand to uncover the truth. However, more advocacy work is needed to convince at least one state to file an official request with the UN Human Rights Committee.
The European Parliament heeds calls from Beirut port blast survivors, relatives of the victims, and multiple human rights groups and takes the lead in stepping forward with a resolution calling for an independent international fact-finding mission, within the framework of the United Nations, into the largest explosion in Lebanon’s history that wreaked carnage, killed at least 218 and reduced large swathes of the city to smithereens.
Labeling the situation in Lebanon as a “man-made disaster,” the resolution also calls for the European Union to impose targeted sanctions on Lebanese officials should they continue stonewalling reforms and barring the Beirut port investigation from yielding tangible results.
“Member states claim that they’re waiting to see the results of the Lebanese investigation, it’s been more than a year now yet we have absolutely no results and no reason to be optimistic, on the contrary, we see time and time again the political class obstructing, delaying and undermining the investigation,” said Aya Majzoub, a researcher at the Human Rights Watch.
The well-knitted, corrupt political establishment, the same entity who vowed to deliver justice within five days after the explosion, keeps boldly encroaching on the domestic investigation’s progress, jeopardizing the independence of the process, and has held no one accountable 13 months later.
Families of victims, and Lebanese and international human rights organizations have called for an international UN-backed inquiry into the blast and advocates say that many countries are ready to support such a decision. However, experts say, the international probe or fact-finding mission is possible only if a state or a group of states initiates the motion and officially puts it on the UN Human Rights Council agenda.
Appeal to the UN
The United Nations Human Rights Council is currently holding its 48th regular session which began on September 13 and continues until October 8. But Lebanon is not on the agenda.
“It’s not on the agenda as a stand-alone issue, unfortunately, but many states said they will be mentioning Lebanon in various sessions in their item remarks to UN special rapporteurs,” Majzoub said. “We hope that a lot of states will have very strongly-worded statements toward Lebanon particularly regarding the lack of accountability for the Beirut blast more than a year after the explosion.”
A second urgent appeal was made last week to the HRC in a joint letter endorsed by 145 international and regional rights groups, as well as survivors and families of the victims, to establish a one-year-fact-finding mission into the August 4 Beirut explosion.
With at least 30 more groups and individuals on board, compared to the joint letter sent in June 2021, and given the continuous determination to block the domestic investigation, the letter expressed broader support and reiterated the calls for an international and impartial inquiry.
“It’s not on the agenda as a stand-alone issue, unfortunately, but many states said they will be mentioning Lebanon in various sessions in their item remarks to UN special rapporteurs.”
Aya Mazjoub, HRW
“We had more signatories this time than we had in June,” Majzoub said. “This is important in showing the increasing lack of faith in the domestic process as it drags on and as the political class makes it very clear that they’re not going to lift immunities – they’re not going to allow for senior security officials to be questioned.”
She added that the letter also aids in demonstrating it’s not solely the HRW urging for an international investigation. “This is a call from most of the families of the firefighters that were killed in the explosion, from a very significant number of survivors and families of the victims of the blast and a large number of regional and international rights groups.”
Diala Haidar, Lebanon’s campaigner at Amnesty International, said multiple Lebanese authorities foresaw a significant loss of life by criminally failing to take measures when warned about the grave danger posed by the ammonium nitrate cargo stored at the Beirut port for seven years.
She explained the demand for an international probe posits “the right to life,” enshrined in Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, according to which Lebanon has an obligation to investigate the causes of the explosion.
Yet, Lebanese authorities have spared no effort in obstructing the victims’ families seeking truth and accountability by shamelessly hampering justice at every turn and shielding political and security officials from scrutiny, Haidar added.
Protestors join families of the August 4 victims during a symbolic funeral procession from Beirut port on August 8, 2021, days after the first anniversary of a vast dockside explosion that left more than 200 people dead. (Photo by ANWAR AMRO / AFP)
Investigation hindered
Twisting the knife in the wound, riot police fired tear gas at and beat relatives of victims with clubs on July 13 when the families stormed the building of the previous caretaker interior minister, Mohamed Fahmi, protesting his decision to overrule a request by the judge investigating the port explosion to interrogate one of Lebanon’s most senior generals, the head of General Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim.
A month later, parliamentary police and unidentified men dressed in black and armed with batons viciously charged at families of the Beirut blast victims, who flocked toward the UNESCO Palace to peacefully stage a camp out ahead of a key parliamentary session on the investigation, according to Amnesty International. Two journalists were hospitalized, several people were injured and the session aimed at ousting the judiciary probe and replacing it with a parliamentary one, which meant potential further protection for politicians in question, was postponed.
“They have resorted to violence against the families of the victims who are still leading a tireless campaign for accountability which only shows the authority’s disdain for justice and their unwillingness to deliver any kind of decent investigation into the explosion,” Haidar said, referring to the ruling political class.
The Discriminatory Public Prosecution leaked inaccurate investigation documents about eight months ago to create suspicion around the judge, said Ibrahim Hoteit, a spokesperson for a committee representing the relatives of some of the victims. His brother is one of the 10 firefighters who were dispatched to put out the fire at the port and perished in the explosion that followed.
“We are not living under a state, we live among gangs who form what they consider a state,” Hoteit said. “Consequently, these people will never admit the truth. They don’t sympathize with our pain and suffering, with the mothers’ tears, which until this day are still not dry.”
Lebanese authorities insistently refuse to lift immunities safeguarding prominent political and security figures summoned in the Beirut port blast probe who keep evading questioning.
Tarek Bitar, the lead judge investigating the blast, astounded those tracking the process by pursuing a range of high-level politicians and senior security officials, who have been indicted with criminal negligence causing death.
“The Lebanese legislature granted immunities to politicians to protect their rights and eliminate the possibility of being coerced upon exercising their duty by fear of prosecution.”
Mohammad-Ziad Jaafil, Lawyer
Bitar has been confronted with fierce accusations of contravening state laws and transcending the sphere of his authority.
The investigation’s findings don’t only impact the families of victims, Hoteit said. “We might’ve been more affected by the Beirut port blast, as families of victims, but the blast’s outcome extended to everyone, in one way or another. If a case in this size, that left behind this much destruction and that many numbers of victims, didn’t stir a change in Lebanon, then don’t bother, nothing will change it.”
Charged officials, namely former prime minister Hassan Diab, who learned about the ammonium nitrate around a month before the explosion, and former public works minister Youssef Fenianos, who supervised the port, have failed to appear for their interrogation sessions. The former traveled to the U.S., allegedly on a pre-planned trip to visit his kids, despite a subpoena from the judge who then postponed Diab’s interrogation until October 4, the state-run National News Agency said Monday.
Bitar issued an arrest warrant for Fenianos after he missed his interrogation last week to which he replied that he was “subjected to great injustice.”
“Even if Bitar is doing a good job, the purpose of the international investigation would be to support the domestic investigation and not to hinder it,” Haidar said.
Meanwhile, the Iran-backed political group Hezbollah’s leader, Hasan Nasrallah, accused Bitar of being politically biased in early August. Former prime ministers, Saad Hariri, Najib Mikati, Tammam Salam and Fouad Saniora, who constitute the mini unofficial prime ministers’ club, along with Lebanon’s Grand Mufti, the highest Sunni Muslim cleric in the country, persist on supporting the implicated politicians.
“We have seen statements by the leader of Hezbollah, by the prime ministers’ club, various political parties, all saying that [Judge Bitar] is politicized, casting doubt on his impartiality,” Majzoub said. “We’ve seen them not recognize his authority saying that he doesn’t have the authority to charge or subpoena them — they’re using every tool at their disposal to block him.”
An international investigative body can be formed when a country or a group of states take the lead in outlining a resolution and demand establishing such a body. Photo: UN Photo, Jean-Marc Ferré.
A precedent for the future
Lawyer Mohammad-Ziad Jaafil is convinced political factors govern the local investigation, primarily because every official who has been summoned to court is backed by political and sectarian reinforcement impeding the progress with feigned excuses.
“The Lebanese legislature granted immunities to politicians to protect their rights and eliminate the possibility of being coerced upon exercising their duty by fear of prosecution, “Jaafil said.
He added the immunities politicians are granted weren’t intended to be used as means to obstruct justice.
An international investigative body can be formed when a country or a group of states take the lead in outlining a resolution and demand establishing such a body to which then the 47 members of the HRC vote on, Majzoub said.
The HRW’s team in Geneva, whose primary job is advocacy with the UN bodies including the HRC, has been pushing this advocacy task for many months, according to Majzoub.
“They have resorted to violence against the families of the victims who are still leading a tireless campaign for accountability which only shows the authority’s disdain for justice and their unwillingness to deliver any kind of decent investigation into the explosion.”
Diala Haidar, Amnesty International
“So far nobody is in opposition to this request. All of the states that we’ve spoken with would support such an initiative if it was proposed at the Human Rights Council but no state so far is willing to take the lead in drafting the resolution,” she added.
The resolution would not entail Lebanon’s consent as most inquiry missions have been established regardless of the consent of the host country, Majzoub said. “For example after the latest round of hostilities in Israel and Palestine, the council created a new commission of inquiry to look into abuses and it went ahead despite the opposition of Israel.”
“Let’s give the Lebanese investigation a chance” is the statement being echoed by many states according to Majzoub, mainly after the new government was formed after 13 months of deadlock.
However, in the shadows of political complications, conflicting laws, overlapping powers and deep-rooted sectarianism, there is no hope of uncovering the truth, Jaafil believes.
Majzoub added the ruling political establishment knows if the probe moves forward it will be a precedent for future investigations and it’ll bear witness that they are not untouchable — that they can be held accountable.
Sally Abou AlJoud is a multimedia journalist with @NOW_Leb. She is on Twitter @JoudSally.

The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 21-22/2021
Libya Law
makers Pass No Confidence Vote for Transition Govt.
Associated Press
/September 21/2021
Libyan lawmakers on Tuesday passed a vote of no confidence in the country's transitional government, an official said, a move that throws long-waited elections late this year into further uncertainty. The vote took place in the parliament's headquarters in the eastern city of Tobruk, said Abdullah Ablaihig, a spokesman for the legislature. He said 113 lawmakers attended the session, with 89 of them voting in favor of withdrawing confidence in the government of Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah. Ablaihig said Dbeibah's government would work as a caretaker government without giving a timeframe for the appointment of another government three months before parliamentary and presidential elections on Dec. 24. There was no immediate comment from the prime minister. A spokesman for the government said Dbeibah would issue a speech to the nation shortly. Tuesday's vote of confidence is another challenge to holding the December elections and impedes efforts to unite the oil-rich North African nation after a decade of turmoil. Dbeibah, a powerful businessman from the western city of Misrata, was appointed last month to lead the executive branch of an interim government that also includes a three-member Presidential Council chaired by Mohammad Younes Menfi, a Libyan diplomat from the country's east. The transitional government replaced two rival administrations — one based in the country's east and another in the west — that had ruled Libya for years. Oil-rich Libya was plunged into chaos after a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Poll Finds Nearly 80% of Palestinians Want Abbas to Resign
Associated Press
/September 21/2021
A new poll has found that nearly 80% of Palestinians want President Mahmoud Abbas to resign, reflecting widespread anger over the death of an activist in security forces' custody and a crackdown on protests over the summer.
The survey released Tuesday found support for Abbas' Hamas rivals remained high months after the 11-day Gaza war in May, when the Islamic militant group was widely seen by Palestinians as having scored a victory against a far more powerful Israel while the Western-backed Abbas was sidelined.
The latest poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 45% of Palestinians believe Hamas should lead and represent them, while only 19% said Abbas' secular Fatah deserved that role, showing only a slight shift in favor of Fatah over the last three months.
"This is the worst polling we've ever seen for the president," said Khalil Shikaki, the head of the center, who has been surveying Palestinian public opinion for more than two decades. "He has never been in as bad a position as today."
Despite his plummeting popularity and refusal to hold elections, the international community still views the 85-year-old Abbas as the leader of the Palestinian cause and a crucial partner in the peace process with Israel, which ground to a halt more than a decade ago.
His Palestinian Authority administers parts of the occupied West Bank under interim agreements signed with Israel at the height of the peace process in the 1990s. Hamas drove Abbas' forces out of Gaza when it seized power there in 2007, a year after winning parliamentary elections.
Abbas' latest woes began in April, when he called off the first Palestinian elections in 15 years as Fatah appeared to be headed for another embarrassing loss. Hamas' popularity soared the following month amid protests in Jerusalem and the Gaza war, as many Palestinians accused the PA of doing nothing to aid their struggle against Israeli occupation. The death of Nizar Banat, a harsh critic of the PA who died after being beaten by Palestinian security forces during a late-night arrest in June, ignited protests in the occupied West Bank calling on Abbas to resign. His security forces launched a crackdown in response, beating and arresting several demonstrators. The poll found that 78% of Palestinians want Abbas to resign and just 19% think he should remain in office. It found that 63% of Palestinians think Banat was killed on the orders of PA political or security leaders, with only 22% believing it was a mistake. The PA recently announced that 14 security officials who took part in the arrest will stand trial. Sixty-nine percent of those polled felt that was an insufficient response. Sixty-three percent of Palestinians support the demonstrations that broke out after Banat's death, and 74% believe the PA's arrest of demonstrators was a violation of liberties and civil rights, the poll found. The PCPSR says it surveyed 1,270 Palestinians face-to-face in the West Bank and Gaza, with a margin of error of three percentage points.

UAE Welcomes Regional Rivals at Major Natural Gas Conference
/September 21/2021
Energy officials from Qatar and Turkey, long-standing foes of the United Arab Emirates, descended on Dubai along with hundreds of other executives on Tuesday, flocking to the world's largest gas expo and the industry's first in-person conference since the pandemic began. In a scene that would have been unthinkable just a year ago, the Emirati oil minister held forth from a crowded conference room beside the Qatari minister of state for energy, the first such visit since the UAE and three other Arab states imposed an embargo on Qatar in 2017. Also present was the deputy energy minister from Turkey, similarly at odds with the UAE over the Turkish government's support for Islamist groups in the Middle East. But there was no mention of those long-simmering political differences at Tuesday's event. Instead, the carpeted halls buzzed with cheery talk of the importance of natural gas in the world's looming energy transition. The exhibition came as world leaders prepare for a crucial U.N. climate summit, in Glasgow in November. "We think gas is definitely going to be part of the solution ... I think we need to join hands to make sure that this mammoth task that we're embarking on can be practically achieved," declared Saad al-Kaabi, minister of state for energy affairs in Qatar, home to some of the world's largest gas reserves. When asked by a crush of reporters about the economic yield of improved relations with the UAE, al-Kaabi kept it brief. "Our relationship is good with the UAE and any business dealings we're doing ... will not be discussed," he said. The officials refrained from shaking hands or bumping elbows but the group photo alone revealed a foreign policy shift, as the UAE seeks to bury the hatchet with its regional rivals. Last month, the influential Emirati national security advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan met Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, before flying to Qatar for talks with its ruling emir. The flurry of diplomacy aims to mend ties that frayed over Turkey and Qatar's support for the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings that empowered Islamists across the region. The rift between Turkey and Qatar on one side and Gulf Arab powerhouses on the other has fueled wars from Libya to Syria as well as the ultimately unsuccessful boycott of Qatar, which ended earlier this year. The backdrop for the detente was fitting, with each energy-dependent country increasingly preoccupied with how to fuel a post-pandemic economic recovery. The officials discussed a crunch in natural gas supply that has led prices to surge and scores of tankers to line up off Qatar's coast. They expressed skepticism about the frenzied push to eliminate carbon emissions when fossil fuels remain key to supplying the world's electricity. "I think we have to be realistic, but unfortunately there is a drive now for being emotional about net zero and its pace," said Emirati Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei. Turkey, which has sparred with neighbors over drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean in its push to become an energy hub, has similarly sought to cool tensions with long-time rivals like Egypt. Alparslan Bayraktar, Turkey's deputy energy minister, told reporters he hoped the country's gas discoveries and projects would "help us to solve some of the regional conflicts, our conflicts between neighbors." The modest optimism even extended to the prospect of more Iranian oil coming on the market in the future after years of U.S. sanctions throttling Iranian oil sales. "(Iran) looks forward to coming back to the market to play their constructive role," said OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo. But negotiations between Iran and world powers on reviving their nuclear deal have stalled for months, and Barkindo admitted he could offer no timeline for Iran's return. "We have to take everything step by step," he said.

Tunisian President Vows New Electoral Code, Transition Team
Associated Press
/September 21/2021
Tunisia's president has announced plans to draft a new electoral code and appoint a transitional leadership — and to hang on to the exceptional powers that he seized in July, throwing the country's young democracy into question. In a speech Monday night, President Kais Saied promised that the new initiatives would respect Tunisians' hard-fought rights and freedoms and democratic constitution. Saied's actions have sidelined Tunisia's long-governing Islamist party, which accuses him of a coup, and worried Islamist groups around the region. While many Tunisians welcome his moves, human rights groups and some others are concerned about the future of the only country to emerge from the turbulent Arab Spring uprisings with a new democratic system. Saied spoke to supporters in the impoverished town of Sidi Bouzid, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, where many people are disillusioned with the country's failure to solve economic and social problems since overthrowing its repressive leaders a decade ago. He defended his July 25 decision to suspend parliament, fire the prime minister and seize executive powers, which he said was needed to save the country amid unrest over financial troubles and the government's handling of Tunisia's coronavirus crisis. He invoked a special constitutional article allowing such measures in the event of imminent danger to the nation, and said they would be in place for 30 days. But they have been extended until further notice. "Danger still hangs over the country and I cannot leave it like a puppet in the hands of those who act in the shadows, and of corrupt people," Saied said Monday. He accused unidentified players of "conspiring to cause chaos and confusion" in Tunisia, and said, "There is no question of going back."He promised a new electoral code to hold lawmakers more accountable to constituents, and transitional arrangements to run the country before he names a new prime minister. He did not detail them. Several lawmakers and prominent figures have been jailed since his power grab. In the face of criticism from international human rights groups, he insisted that "rights and freedoms will be respected," and that no one is being jailed for political views. The North African nation was widely seen as a model for budding democracies but has failed to cure chronic unemployment and other social ills, especially in neglected provinces.

Military General who Ruled Egypt after Mubarak Ouster Dies

Associated Press
/September 21/2021
Hussein Tantawi, the Egyptian general who ruled the country following the Arab Spring uprising that removed longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, died on Tuesday, Egypt's presidency said. He was 85. Field Marshal Tantawi was Mubarak's loyal defense minister for some 20 years. But it was Tantawi who led the country after the then-chief spy Omar Suliman announced on state television on Feb. 11, 2011, that Mubarak was stepping down after the 18 days of protest against his government. Tantawi went on to chair the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power. Under his leadership, the military strengthened its tight grip on the country, outlawing dissent, and largely returned to using the same tactics that were in place under Mubarak and that protesters had decried. Born in October 1935, Tantawi, who suffered from age-related health problems in recent months, died in a hospital in Cairo, according to a person close to his family, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. His death came 19 months after Mubarak died in a Cairo military hospital in February last year. Tantawi, appointed defense minister in 1991, ran Egypt for 17 months until the election in June 2012 of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected leader. Morsi removed Tantawi and the country's chief of staff, Sami Enan, in August that year, following a deadly militant attack in the Sinai Peninsula. Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, now president, was the head of the military intelligence at the time. Morsi named el-Sissi defense minister, replacing Tantawi, his longtime mentor. El-Sissi would eventually oversee Morsi's removal from power in 2013, amid more street protests against the Islamist's brief rule. Under Tantawi and el-Sissi, rights groups have accused the country's security apparatus of repeated violations, including the targeting of protesters and the arrest and detention of political opposition members and dissenting citizens.

European Court: Russia Responsible for Litvinenko Killing
Associated Press
/September 21/2021
The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday backed the conclusion of a British inquiry that Russia was responsible for the killing of Alexander Litvinenko, who died in London in 2006 after drinking tea laced with a radioactive material. A former agent for the KGB and the post-Soviet successor agency FSB, Litvinenko defected from Russia in 2000 and fled to London. While in Britain, Litvinenko became involved in exposing corruption and links to organized crime in the Russian intelligence service. He fell violently ill on Nov. 1, 2006, after drinking tea with two Russian men at a London hotel, and spent three weeks in the hospital before he died. His tea was found to have been laced with radioactive polonium-210. The British inquiry concluded in early 2016 that Russian agents Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun had killed Litvinenko, and that President Vladimir Putin had "probably approved" the operation. Litvinenko's widow, Marina, took the case to the Strasbourg-based court. The European court, which is not a body of the European Union, backed the British conclusion in its verdict on Tuesday but rejected Marina Litvinenko's claim for "punitive" damages. "The Court found in particular that there was a strong prima facie case that, in poisoning Mr. Litvinenko, Mr. Lugovoi and Mr. Kovtun had been acting as agents of the Russian State," it said. It also noted that the Russian government had "failed to provide any other satisfactory and convincing explanation of the events or counter the findings of the U.K. inquiry." Both Lugovoi and Kovtun deny any involvement in the killing. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov brushed aside the European court's verdict. "We're not ready to take such rulings on board," he told reporters.

Ballot-stuffing Videos Taint Russian Election
Associated Press
/September 21/2021
In one surveillance video, a hand appears from behind a Russian flag to stuff ballots into a box. In another, a woman is seen removing ballot papers from under her clothes and, with the help of another woman, puts them into the box amid sounds of giggling. And then there's the mop being raised by someone to cover a camera in a room where workers were reviewing documents after the polling place in southern Russia had closed. A clean election? Russian authorities maintained that there were fewer violations in the three days of voting for a new parliament than the last election in 2016, but multiple videos and photos of incidents of ballot fraud have emerged since Friday. Critics argued that without the ballot manipulation, the Kremlin-backed United Russia party couldn't have won enough votes to hold its supermajority in the parliament, which is particularly important for the next balloting in 2024. That's when President Vladimir Putin's current term expires, and he is either expected to seek reelection or choose some other strategy to stay in power. In any case, a State Duma that the Kremlin can control would be key.
Over the weekend, election monitors and opposition activists shared photos of thick, folded piles of ballots in transparent ballot boxes that obviously were put in in one piece. Videos from polling surveillance cameras at polling stations showed people trying to shove multiple ballots into boxes, to various degrees of success. There was also footage from several regions of scuffles and confrontations between poll workers and election monitors trying to expose violations. In one video published by activists from the liberal Yabloko party, reportedly shot Friday in the Siberian region of Kemerovo, a woman subtly steps in front of a ballot box, blocking it from the view of a camera. But a hand can still be seen reaching to the box from behind a Russian flag next to it. The hand puts ballots in several times and the woman then walks away. Russia's prominent independent election monitoring group Golos pointed to another video depicting ballot box stuffing in the Bryansk region, which borders Belarus and Ukraine. In the video, a woman takes ballots from under her clothes. Together with another woman, they put them into the box. Giggling can be heard on the video as poll workers at their desks go about their business as if nothing is happening. In a St. Petersburg precinct, a piece of cardboard appeared in front of a surveillance camera shortly after a man opened a safe with ballots that was supposed to remain sealed, local news outlet Fontanka reported, showing the video. Police were investigating the incident.
The video from the southern region of Stavropol, showed two poll workers handling documents in polling station No. 1085 in the city of Pyatigorsk. Suddenly, a mop is raised to the lens of the surveillance camera, blocking the view of ballot manipulation. The incident drew the attention of Russia's Central Election Commission, where its head, Ella Pamfilova, fired the polling station chief. Still, she insisted at a teleconference with Putin on Monday that the number of complaints the commission has received this year was "minimal as ever." Election officials said more than 25,000 ballots were invalidated — including those from the polling station in Bryansk. On Saturday, Pamfilova alleged that videos were being fabricated. She showed a video, in which police confronted a group of people in an apartment containing video equipment, ballots and a ballot box. The video showed the group had photos of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny among other papers. Golos, which has been exposing Russian election problems since 2000, disagreed with Pamfilova's assessment of the scale of violations this year."Violations during the vote and the vote count, the three-day voting procedure and the way the vote count went in some regions, during which, in our opinion, results have been significantly distorted, don't allow us to talk about the veracity of the results the system of election commission is demonstrating right now," the group said in a statement Monday.

A coup attempt in Sudan "failed"
NNA/September 21/2021 
A coup attempt in Sudan "failed" early Tuesday, state media reported, as the country grapples with a fragile transition since the 2019 ouster of longtime president Omar al-Bashir. Top military and government sources told AFP that the attempt involved a group of officers who were "immediately suspended" after they "failed" to take over the state media building. "There has been a failed coup attempt, the people should confront it," state television said, without elaborating. Senior member of Sudan's ruling body, Taher Abuhaja, said "an attempt to seize power has been thwarted." Another senior ruling body member, Mohamed al-Fekki said: "Everything is under control and the revolution is victorious." Traffic appeared to be flowing smoothly in central Khartoum, AFP correspondents reported, including around army headquarters, where protesters staged a mass sit-in that eventually led to Bashir's ouster in a palace coup.
Security forces did however close the main bridge across the Nile connecting Khartoum to its twin city Omdurman.
Two years under transition -
Sudan is currently ruled by a transitional government composed of both civilian and military representatives that was installed in the aftermath of Bashir's April 2019 overthrow and is tasked with overseeing a return to full civilian rule. The August 2019 power-sharing deal originally provided for the formation of a legislative assembly during a three-year transition, but that period was reset when Sudan signed a peace deal with an alliance of rebel groups last October. More than two years later, the country remains plagued by chronic economic problems inherited from the Bashir regime as well as deep divisions among the various factions steering the transition. The promised legislative assembly has yet to materialise. The government, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, has vowed to fix the country's battered economy and forge peace with rebel groups who fought the Bashir regime. In recent months, his government has undertaken a series of tough economic reforms to qualify for debt relief from the International Monetary Fund. The steps, which included slashing subsidies and a managed float of the Sudanese pound, were seen by many Sudanese as too harsh. Sporadic protests have broken out against the IMF-backed reforms and the rising cost of living, as well as delays to deliver justice to the families of those killed under Bashir. On Monday, demonstrators blocked key roads as well as the country's key trade hub, Port Sudan, to protest the peace deal signed with rebel groups last year. ---

Trudeau’s Liberals win Canada election, but miss majority
AP/September 21/2021
Canadians gave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party a victory in Monday’s parliamentary elections, but his gamble to win a majority of seats failed and nearly mirrored the result of two years ago. The Liberals won the most seats of any party. The 49-year-old Trudeau channeled the star power of his father, the Liberal icon and late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, when he first won election in 2015 and has led his party to the top finish in two elections since. Trudeau’s Liberals were leading or elected in 156 seats — one less than they won 2019, and 14 short of the 170 needed for a majority in the House of Commons. The Conservatives were leading or elected in 121 seats, the same number they won in 2019. The leftist New Democrats were leading or elected in 27, a gain of three seats, while the Quebec-based Bloc Québécois remained unchanged with 32 seats and the Greens were down to two. “You are sending us back to work with a clear mandate to get Canada through this pandemic,” Trudeau said. Trudeau entered the election leading a stable minority government that wasn’t under threat of being toppled. The opposition was relentless in accusing Trudeau of calling an unnecessary early vote — two years before the deadline — for his own personal ambition. “Trudeau lost his gamble to get a majority so I would say this is a bittersweet victory for him,” said Daniel Béland, a political science professor at McGill University in Montreal. “Basically we are back to square one, as the new minority parliament will look like the previous one. Trudeau and the Liberals saved their skin and will stay in power, but many Canadians who didn’t want this late summer, pandemic election are probably not amused about the whole situation,” he said.—AP

German FM Calls US Submarine Actions 'Irritating,' 'Disappointing'
AFP/September 21/2021
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who has developed close ties with US President Joe Biden's administration, voiced solidarity Tuesday with France over Australia's cancellation of a massive submarine contract. "I can understand our French friends' anger," Maas told reporters at the United Nations, where leaders are meeting for the General Assembly. "What was decided, and the manner in which it was decided, was irritating and disappointing, and not only for France," he said. "What we're seeing makes things much more complicated and I think it's going to stay that way for a while." Maas, like many Europeans, has not hidden his joy at Biden's defeat of Donald Trump, a sworn unilateralist who openly criticized outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel on issues including immigration. But "I was never under any illusion that we wouldn't have problems with the new American president," Maas said. "We need to reflect in Europe on ways to bolster European sovereignty. It's ultimately up to us to do it or not."
France was infuriated last week when Australia cancelled a multi-billion-dollar contract for conventional submarines, saying it wanted to upgrade to US-made nuclear versions as it entered a new alliance with the United States and Britain.
France accused Canberra of back-stabbing and Washington of behavior unbecoming of an ally, with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian not scheduling a one-on-one meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken while in New York.

Egypt's ex military ruler Tantawi, key figure in 2011, dies at 85

Reuters/September 21/2021
NNA - Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the former head of the military council that ruled Egypt temporarily after its 2011 uprising, has died at the age of 85, Egypt's presidency said on Tuesday, declaring three days of national mourning.

The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials published on September 21-22/2021
The Sudanese Inattention Trap
Alberto M. Fernandez/MEMRI/September 21/2021
Fifteen years ago, hundreds of thousands of American citizens took to the streets in rallies across the United States for the sake of a faraway cause. At precisely the same time that the United States was directly and deeply embroiled in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of idealistic young people rallied to "Save Darfur." In retrospect, this looks like other passing Western enthusiasms for causes such as Free Tibet or "Kony 2012," a type of Western therapy generating intense, fleeting emotions about distant causes lending themselves to a simplified moralistic narrative. The biggest Darfur rally in 2006 was on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and featured hip-hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons, Al Sharpton, George Clooney, Elie Weisel, and a young U.S. Senator named Barack Obama. The overwhelmingly white middle class audience was called upon to "speak out," "raise awareness," to avoid silence and indifference to genocide in Darfur, comparisons were made to the Holocaust and to the massive killings a decade earlier in Rwanda which were mostly ignored by the Clinton Administration.
Eastern Sudan tribal leader Muhammad Al-Amin Turk at a recent press conference.
Did any of this attention make a difference on the ground in Sudan? Probably not much. The bulk of the genocidal actions of the Bashir regime in Darfur from 2003 to 2005 had already taken place by the time of the rallies, although the killing never actually stopped completely. An ineffective African Union peacekeeping force (AMIS) was on the ground by 2004 and would be replaced by a larger, much more expensive UN peacekeeping force (UNAMID), only slightly more effective, in 2007. UNAMID would finally end in 2020. If the Darfur War had any real effect in Sudan, it was to lead to the end of the much bloodier, more intractable decades-long war with the South Sudanese. The conflict that broke out in Darfur in early 2003 would contribute to the Bashir regime signing a peace treaty with the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement (SPLM) of Dr. John Garang in 2005 and this agreement would lead to the independence of South Sudan in 2011. Another result of the Darfur conflict would be the institutionalization of local Darfur Arab militias into the Sudanese military as a separate rapid reaction or shock force with unintentional consequences years later.
Western attention is fleeting and variable, and seems to be becoming even more fleeting in recent years. Western attention on Sudan is waning and will continue to do so. The West is deeply distracted by its own internal conflicts, its culture wars and controversies, and when the Western gaze looks abroad it sees a multiplicity of flaring interminable conflicts. The great human rights cause of the last decade, Syria, is all but forgotten as Assad, Iran, and Russia won that war in which they (and their adversaries) encouraged the rise of a thoroughly Islamized armed opposition. What once seemed like a black and white conflict between good and evil became a gray zone, and gray zones are discarded and forgotten.
With the fall of the Islamist Bashir regime in Sudan in 2019, a convenient villain passed the stage, Sudan entered its period of renewed international attention, one that is now passing and will likely end long before elections scheduled for 2024. Sudan's myriad problems pale compared to those of its neighbors. In Ethiopia, a new genocide rages at the hands of the Abiy Ahmed regime and his Eritrean allies. South Sudan is a near failed state and nearby Chad is volatile. Until recently both Libya and Yemen were at war.
A lot has been accomplished in Sudan since Bashir's fall. Sudan is finally off the U.S. terrorism list and that has led to a flurry of positive consequences in terms of integrating the country back on the world stage and in the global economy. It has a hardworking civilian government that is sensitive to the country's daunting problems and works from a realistic reform agenda. Sudan is less repressive and more at peace than it has been in fifty years.
But things are not going so well. News agencies recently reported as good news the fact that inflation had slowed to 387.6% in August, the first decline in inflation since 2019, as the country implemented tough economic measures in line with IMF guidelines.[1] The decline is good news for any country not named South Sudan, Venezuela, or Lebanon but shows the challenge that Sudanese policymakers face in managing dire economic and political challenges that don't quite rise to the level of the catastrophic.
If Sudan is managing painful economic conditions as well as can be expected, other challenges seem to constantly appear. While the interim government has signed several peace deals with rebel groups, incorporating them into the government (Sudan's finance minister is a former Darfur rebel), regional and political instability remain just under the surface, and not just under it. On September 17, a dangerous civil revolt in Eastern Sudan threatens to unravel the country's fragile progress as thousands of members of the region's Beja people blocked transport from the country's main port on the Red Sea to Khartoum and called for dissolving the civilian government and having the military rule in a new transitional council.[2] The rebels, led by Hadendowa tribal leader Muhammad Al-Amin Turk, also blocked access to the country's oil export terminal.[3]
While the action has an ethnic and economic component, it also has a political one as several of the leaders of the blockade are connected to the dissolved Islamist party of the Bashir regime, the National Congress Party (NCP).[4] So far, the Sudanese government has resisted calls to use force to put down the uprising which has attracted not just Islamists and tribal elements but even supposed reformers unhappy with the slow pace of reform in Sudan. The rebels are expressing respect for Sudan's generals while focusing their ire on Sudan's civilian administrators.[5]
Compared to ongoing genocide in Tigray and terrorist drone strikes from Yemen, this looks like small potatoes. Eastern Sudan is, however, a strategic zone facing Saudi Arabia across the Red Sea and bordering Eritrea, the North Korea of Africa, in the South. The Sudanese region also hosts thousands of Eritrean refugees and opponents of the regime in Asmara. During the Bashir regime, Iran used the same region to smuggle rockets across the border into Egypt on their way to Hamas in Gaza.
The conflict threatens to militarize the situation in Sudan, which is the ultimate danger. The question becomes whether military intervention will be nationalist, Islamist, or reformist. As if on cue, Sudanese media informed audiences on September 21 of a "small, failed coup attempt" by a SAF Major General Abdel Baqi Al-Bakrawi, in connection with exiled elements of the former Islamist regime. It was not the sixth known foiled plot during Sudan's transition period and it will not be the last. Al-Bakrawi is a tank officer and Sudan's armored units seem to be a hotbed of support for the previous regime. He had recently returned from medical care in Egypt where he may have been in contact with former regime elements.[6]
As the civilian government of Abdullah Hamdok undertakes the grim, difficult work of reform, of cleaning up 30 years of Bashir regime disasters and atrocities, it also runs the danger of wearing itself out, absorbing popular discontent and so discrediting the causes of reform, secularism and democracy that will make an eventual return to outright military rule in Sudan even more likely. And by the time this happens, Western attention will be elsewhere. Even if the civilian government is able to calm the situation in Eastern Sudan and appease demonstrators, it is likely that this pattern of regional/tribal agitation + economic discontent + political agitation behind the scenes will continue somewhere else and each time that it is repeated the dangerous temptation of cracking down too hard or allowing things to get out of hand will appear.
Sudan is trapped by its own history and reality. Away from the glare of spectacular awfulness of situations elsewhere, there is nothing for the government to do but doggedly persevere, avoiding excess and overreaction, continue the path of reform. But the fact that Sudan is doing many of the right things the so-called international community calls for, and that it has not exploded, does not make it a success story no matter how much worse things may seem to be elsewhere.
[1] Reuters.com/world/africa/sudan-inflation-slows-38756-august-2021-09-14, September 14, 2021.
[2] 3ayin.com/eastern-sudan-3, September 19, 2021.
[3] Sudantribune.com/spip.php?article70088, September 20, 2021.
[4] Youtube.com/watch?v=7mFbZN6VnCM, September 14, 2021.
[5] Youtube.com/watch?v=3_dBiQY6OJk, September 19, 2021.
[6] Mc-doualiya.com/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B7/20210921-%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%87%D9%88-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%B9%D8%A8%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%82%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D9%83%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AA%D9%87%D9%85-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%88%D9%82%D9%88%D9%81-%D8%AE%D9%84%D9%81-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%82%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86, September 21, 2021.

Egypt and Israel on path toward a warmer peace
Yossi Mekelberg/Arab News/September 21, 2021
Relations between Egypt and Israel have endured many ups and downs since the countries signed a peace agreement in 1979. However, ties between the two have proved to be robust enough and, based on the solid ground of common interests, sufficient to overcome trials and turbulence along the way.
For most of the intervening years, it has been more a matter of peace between governments than peace between peoples, especially as many Egyptians are opposed to a warm relationship with Israel so long as there is no fair and just solution to the Palestinian cause.
In recent years, however, other issues have taken precedence and closer strategic ties between the two countries have developed apace, though these have hardly been matched by economic or civil society engagement.
Last week’s meeting between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Sharm El-Sheikh was the first in more than a decade between leaders of the two countries and was significant both for the range of issues fundamental to both sides that were discussed and, equally important, for the warm reception Bennett received from his Egyptian host.
Cairo is becoming more comfortable in moving beyond business-like relations and this was clearly evidenced by a meeting that lasted longer than scheduled, the wide media coverage the visit enjoyed, and the Israeli flags that decorated the occasion for all to see. It might also be the case that last year’s Abraham Accords gave relations between these two neighbors a tailwind.
In recent years, Egypt has faced serious domestic security threats and it sees cooperation with Israel as an important element in rooting out extremist groups such as Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, which pledged allegiance to Daesh in 2014. This extremist movement seeks both the establishment of an Islamist entity in the Sinai Peninsula and the destruction of Israel, and has proved itself capable of carrying out many deadly operations, frequently targeting Egyptian military convoys with improvised explosive devices and assaulting police checkpoints. It has killed hundreds of soldiers, police officers and civilians.
Collaboration in containing this and similar movements that operate in the Sinai has become an important pillar of Egyptian-Israeli relations. It has even led Israel to abandon a taboo, enshrined in the 1979 peace agreement, on its assent to a growing Egyptian military presence in Sinai — a presence that now far exceeds the limitations agreed in that treaty. Additionally, it was Egypt, according to more than one source, that turned to Israel for assistance with its air force, including the use of drones, helicopters and jets, in targeting the Islamist insurgents.
Equally, Israel requires Egypt’s assistance in its dealings with Hamas. Since Hamas came to power in Gaza, Cairo has brokered ceasefires on each of the occasions that deadly hostilities broke out along the Israel-Gaza border. For Israel, Hamas in Gaza poses a critical and continuous, though not existential, challenge in a conflict in which Egypt is the most willing and capable broker of any long-term solution.
Hamas, in the eyes of Israeli strategists, is not a threat in the same league as Iran or even Hezbollah, but it is a constant one that also improves its capabilities in each round of confrontations.
Moreover, the harsh blockade of Gaza continues to stoke hatred against Israel, attract criticism from the international community and jeopardize hopes of improved relations with other Arab countries. Under these circumstances, another clash between Israel and Hamas is always just around the corner — a fact that influences the domestic conversation in Egypt and provides ammunition to those who oppose closer relations with Israel. But the new Israeli government appears more receptive to an agreement on Gaza that would improve living conditions there in exchange for calm along the border, especially an agreement brokered by Egypt, which would avoid the need for direct contact with Hamas.
Egypt is keen to play the mediator in Gaza and, possibly, in any wider-ranging negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, because this would ease pressures at home, reduce the risk of another flare-up between Hamas and Israel that might fuel extremism in the region and, equally importantly, improve Cairo’s image in Washington. For the latter, El-Sisi is looking for Bennett’s support.
Cairo is becoming more comfortable in moving beyond business-like relations and this was clearly evidenced by a meeting that lasted longer than scheduled.
To this end, the Israeli government could prove to be useful; hence Egypt’s improved relations with Israel and its cooperation in preventing Israeli-Palestinian relations from deteriorating could go down well with the Biden administration.
Another issue that has barely begun to be addressed is the potential for increased economic and trade relations between Egypt and Israel. After 40 years of peace, the volume of trade between the two countries is less than a fifth of Israel’s trade with the UAE only a year after the normalization accords were signed.
Egypt has not been averse to close and beneficial economic relations with Israel, but Cairo is wary of public reaction to such developments, which so far has resulted in only limited tourism opportunities, not to mention insufficient scientific, cultural and civil society collaboration.
For Israel, the public side is what it is longing for, as this would mean validation, recognition and acceptance of the country. The summit in Sharm El-Sheikh could be a first step toward transforming the cold peace between Egypt and Israel into a warmer one, but it will require both sides to remain cognizant of each other’s domestic and international needs and sensitivities, and to be prepared to make concessions in accordance with these.
*Yossi Mekelberg is professor of international relations and an associate fellow of the MENA Program at Chatham House. He is a regular contributor to the international written and electronic media. Twitter: @YMekelberg

Jordan, Egypt and Israel offer hope on Palestinian conflict
Osama Al-Sharif/Arab News/September 21, 2021
The post-Netanyahu era is heralding a state of rapprochement between Israel on the one hand and Jordan and Egypt on the other. It could also bring some badly needed benefits for the ailing Palestinian Authority. Since he managed to form a broad coalition government in June, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been able to mend ties with neighboring Jordan and Egypt while keeping his allies at bay.
Under Benjamin Netanyahu, relations with Jordan declined to an unprecedented level, while ties with Egypt witnessed little improvement. And when Donald Trump took over as US president, Netanyahu saw an opportunity to build an alliance with Gulf countries at the expense of Israel’s strategic ties with its two Arab neighbors.
Relations with Jordan reached a low last year when Netanyahu announced plans to annex the Jordan Valley. King Abdullah warned that the two-decades-old peace treaty could be affected if Israel went ahead with annexation. Peace talks with the Palestinians had been stopped for almost 10 years and Trump’s proposed peace plan was rejected by both Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan.
The Netanyahu era represented a bleak phase for the prospects of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Not that Bennett’s arrival will make much difference. But his allies in the coalition government may change the current trajectory. Defense minister and coalition partner Benny Gantz had a rare meeting with Abbas in Ramallah last month — the first official encounter between a high-ranking Israeli official and Abbas in almost 10 years. The meeting focused on improving the economic status of Palestinians in the West Bank and did not cover political aspects.
On three separate occasions, Israel announced that Bennett, Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Gantz had visited Amman and met with King Abdullah between July and August. That indicated a major shift in relations and an Israeli keenness to improve ties with Jordan after years of tension. Talks focused on bilateral relations, especially economic cooperation, and on supporting the PA. An informed source told this writer that Jordan now considered relations with Israel to be in their best ever phase.
Egypt, too, sought to capitalize on its diplomatic success in negotiating a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in May. Its mediation role has improved its standing with the Biden administration, as well as with Israel. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi last week invited Bennett to Sharm El-Sheikh, a move that was seen as a landmark in bilateral ties. Talks focused on Egypt’s role in reaching a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas that could include a prisoner exchange.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has visited Cairo before and, on Sunday, had a phone call with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry. Egypt said the exchange focused on reviving peace talks, while Lapid’s office pointed to an offer to allow major Gaza reconstruction projects in return for mutual security.
Jordan and Egypt are coordinating their positions with regards to Gaza and the PA. Earlier this month, Egypt hosted both King Abdullah and Abbas in a bid to support the PA and its president. But a source told this writer that both leaders put pressure on Abbas to carry out much-needed reforms and appoint a deputy. Abbas’ popularity has dipped following May’s showdown between Israel and Hamas and the killing of a Palestinian activist while in PA custody. His indefinite postponement of presidential and legislative elections has polarized Palestinians further. Meanwhile, Egyptian efforts to conclude a reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas appear to have reached a dead end.
While Jordan and Egypt call publicly for the resumption of peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel, it is clear that Bennett is in no position to launch such a process.
While Jordan and Egypt call publicly for the resumption of peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel, it is clear that Bennett is in no position to launch such a process. He is ideologically opposed to a Palestinian state and his coalition will fall apart if he initiates a political process.
On the other hand, he and the US administration are in agreement that the daily livelihood of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories must be improved. Lapid is pushing for a deal to allow major reconstruction projects in Gaza in return for a long-term truce with Hamas. Beyond that, he and his boss hope to shift attention from the West Bank to Gaza as the future Palestinian entity.
For Jordan and Egypt, managing the conflict at this stage is a delicate effort. Egypt hopes to endear itself to the Biden administration by helping Hamas and Israel reach a long-term truce that could include a prisoner swap. Such a deal would embolden Hamas’ position in Gaza and among Palestinians. On the other hand, all parties want the PA to survive while preparing for a post-Abbas era.
Although a political process remains elusive at this point, Palestinians can expect a major improvement in their daily lives. This is the most Israel can offer at this stage, and the least Jordan and Egypt can support as they seek to manage the conflict in the absence of a genuine political process.
*Osama Al-Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman. Twitter: @plato010

UN efforts stymied by discord among its members
 Dr. Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg/Arab News/September 21, 2021
For the second year in a row, the UN General Assembly’s high-level general debate is being held under a thick COVID-19 cloud. UN officials admit that the pandemic has slowed down their work, with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying on Saturday: “We were not able to make any real progress in relation to effective coordination of global efforts.”
Last year, the organization’s plans to celebrate its 75th birthday were derailed by the pandemic and the high-level debate was muted — conducted virtually for the first time in its history. This year, while restrictions have been eased, the pandemic has still forced some changes in the way this annual event is handled, including limiting the number of delegates in the UN building and assembly hall. Proof of vaccination is required, although some leaders, such as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, are flouting such restrictions.
In preparatory meetings preceding this week’s main event, the UN identified dozens of global issues it wanted its member states to tackle. Guterres underlined three particular major issues: COVID-19, climate change, and the fallout from America’s hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan.
On the pandemic, Guterres said that the world had failed to take unified action, calling it “totally unacceptable” that 80 percent of the population in a country like Portugal has been fully vaccinated, while in many African countries the figure is less than 2 percent. “It’s completely stupid from the point of view of defeating the virus, but if the virus goes on spreading like wildfire in the Global South, there will be more mutations,” he said.
On climate change, Guterres also sounded disappointed. He said: “One year ago, we were seeing a more clear movement in the right direction, and that movement has slowed down in the recent past. So we need to re-accelerate again if we are not going into disaster.”
And on Afghanistan, Guterres dismissed as “fantasy” any hope that UN involvement would be “able all of a sudden to produce an inclusive government, to guarantee that all human rights are respected, to guarantee that no terrorists will ever exist in Afghanistan, that drug trafficking will stop.” If the US and its allies could not do it with thousands of soldiers and trillions of dollars, and even made the situation worse, how could the UN succeed with far fewer resources, he asked.
In theory, the failure of America’s ill-considered adventure in Afghanistan could strengthen the UN’s role and, with it, the international rules-based system. Afghanistan and other intractable problems can now be addressed under those rules, instead of great powers trying to solve them by themselves. However, the prospect of the international community working together any time soon is dimmed by increasing discord among some of the great powers.
In an interview with the Associated Press this week, Guterres also warned of a potential new cold war and called on China and the US to repair their “completely dysfunctional” relationship and “re-establish a functional relationship” to address pressing global issues. “Unfortunately, today we only have confrontation,” he lamented.
In theory, the failure of America’s ill-considered adventure in Afghanistan could strengthen the UN’s role.
For the past two years, Guterres has been warning of the risk of a global split, with the US and China creating rival internets, currency, trade, financial rules and “their own zero-sum geopolitical and military strategies.” His new warnings are louder, fearing that this rivalry threatens to divide the world. “We need to avoid at all cost a cold war that would be different from the past one, and probably more dangerous and more difficult to manage,” he said.
The US in particular has pushed back against such warnings and in particular does not believe in the notion of a new Cold War but instead sees that its strong competition with China should not turn into conflict. However, the discord is too obvious to ignore. The China-US rivalry is now dividing the Western alliance, as can be seen in the raging dispute over Australia’s canceling of a military deal with France, a deal meant to bolster Australia’s defenses against China. Paris has blamed the US for Canberra’s change of heart. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian angrily said last Thursday: “President Biden’s method resembles that of President Trump without the tweets.” He also said that the US was acting according to its own narrow “core interests” and linked the matter with the crisis in Afghanistan.
Usually, this high-level week has hundreds of side events, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic only a limited number are being held, mainly virtually or outside the UN headquarters. These include events on vaccines, on children as the invisible victims of the coronavirus and conflict, on multilateralism and democracy, and on global hotspots including Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
There are also high-level meetings on energy and the nuclear test ban treaty, and a summit on the nexus between producing, processing, distributing and consuming food, which is responsible for a third of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN. On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden is hosting a virtual summit on the pandemic. He is expected to ask global leaders to boost their commitments to sharing vaccines and addressing oxygen shortages around the world, among other issues.
This is Biden’s first UN participation as president — an occasion that usually helps a new president to cultivate new relationships with counterparts from around the world and strengthen existing ones. However, the chaos of last month’s withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan has raised questions about US leadership and reliability as a partner. Close allies that had committed blood and treasure to the mission in Afghanistan have decried the lack of consultation, the hasty withdrawal without a comprehensive peace deal, and the disorganized evacuation.
While the UN secretary-general and many other observers expressed low expectations ahead of this year’s UNGA, the South Korean pop group BTS managed to inject some optimism. On Monday, they took part in an effort to promote the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, held at the renowned General Assembly Hall, where they performed an inspiring tune (“Permission to Dance”), garnering tens of millions of online views in less than a day, demonstrating that young people around the world still believe in the UN promise.
• Dr. Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg is the GCC Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs & Negotiation, and a columnist for Arab News. The views expressed in this piece are personal and do not necessarily represent GCC views.
Twitter: @abuhamad1