Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for Lebanon

Newsline: German Embassy diplomat confirmed killed in Beirut blast

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

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

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

Newsline: Wife of Dutch ambassador seriously injured in Beirut blast

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

Newsline: Australian Embassy building damaged in Beirut blast

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

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

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

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

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

Newsline: Philippines’ ambassador to Lebanon dies of coronavirus

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

Newsline: Lebanon FM Summons US Ambassador Over American’s Release

Lebanon’s foreign minister on Friday summoned the U.S. ambassador, seeking an explanation for how an American on trial in Beirut was transferred out of the country from the U.S. Embassy compound. (https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2020-03-20/lebanon-fm-summons-us-ambassador-over-americans-release) The Lebanese-American man, Amer Fakhoury, was ordered released Thursday by a judge in Lebanon because more than 10 years had passed since he allegedly tortured prisoners at a jail run by an Israel-backed Lebanese militia. Fakhoury has denied the charges. Another military tribunal had contested the release, effectively banning Fakhoury from leaving the country until the appeal was heard. But Fakhoury was nonetheless released amid unclear circumstances, and on Thursday a U.S. Marine Osprey was seen taking off from the U.S. Embassy compound northeast of Beirut. Later, U.S. officials confirmed Fakhoury traveled out of Lebanon on the Osprey, and was being returned to the U.S. The decision to move him out of Lebanon has been widely criticized there. Lebanon’s official National News Agency said Foreign Minister Nasif Hitti sought an explanation from Ambassador Dorothy Shea for the circumstances of Fakhoury’s exit. A New Hampshire restaurant owner, Fakhoury received U.S. citizenship last year. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 lymphoma and had been hospitalized in Lebanon. His family and lawyer say that while he did work at the prison, he did not have any contact with inmates. Local media reported the U.S. Embassy gets an annual permission to fly helicopters out of the embassy compound and not for every single use. Fakhoury was a member of the Israel-backed militia known as the South Lebanon Army, and had been accused of torturing prisoners at a SLA-run jail during Israel’s 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon. He had been imprisoned since September after returning to Lebanon to visit family.

Newsline: US Embassy in Beirut suspends visa services due to coronavirus

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut announced Friday that it was suspending non-emergency visa services in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus. (https://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2020/Mar-13/502726-us-embassy-suspends-non-emergency-visa-services-due-to-coronavirus.ashx) The Consular Section at U.S. Embassy Beirut has suspended non-emergency visa operations in the interest of public health safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. American Citizen Services will remain available for U.S. citizen emergency appointments. All visa appointments have been suspended until further notice.

Newsline: Lebanon thwarts attack on US Embassy in Beirut

Lebanon’s Directorate of General Security has announced that it has foiled an attack on the US Embassy in Beirut, allegedly by a Daesh militant. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the security agency said that the man had worked to form terrorist cells in Lebanon, under the supervision of a Daesh member called Abdullah Al-Tunisi. (https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200219-lebanon-thwarts-daesh-attack-on-us-embassy-in-beirut/) The defendant apparently arrived in Lebanon with his family in 2013. The statement included transcripts from the conversation between the defendant and Al-Tunisi via telegram, as well as a plan to use a drone loaded with explosives to target the embassy. Last month, the Lebanese security forces said that they had arrested a 21-year-old Syrian man living in Lebanon who plotted an attack on the headquarters of Hezbollah and one of the party’s members.