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Divisions overshadow Lebanon’s Arab summit as few leaders come to…

BEIRUT ( ) – Divisions among Arab states over Syria, and internal Lebanese disputes, have overshadowed a summit to be held in Beirut this weekend, with several leaders who had planned to come now staying away.

At least eight heads of state were originally expected in Beirut, said a source in the organizing committee, but only the Somali and Mauritanian presidents will now join Lebanese President Michel Aoun in attending.

A big point of contention, in a region plagued by bellicose politics, is whether to welcome Syria back into the Arab fold now that President Bashar al-Assad has restored control over most of his country.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, at a pre-summit meeting on Friday, called for Syria to return to “our embrace” in the Arab League after being suspended for seven years.

The group’s secretary general, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, was cited by Lebanese state media on Thursday as saying there was “no Arab agreement over the return of Syria”.

The issue has played into divisions inside Lebanon, as has a row over Libya’s attendance, harking back to the disappearance of a Lebanese cleric there in the 1970s.

Lebanese leaders had hoped to agree a new government before the summit to showcase a fresh political dynamic after months of gridlock. But government formation talks drag on amid fears for the Lebanese economy.

Having closed down many Beirut streets, shutting schools and businesses in the city centre, the summit was on Friday portrayed in Lebanese media as a let down.

“The summit of excuses and ,上海夜生活男人好去处Falkner,Arab disappointment,” was the headline in al-Jumhuriya daily newspaper. That of another daily, al-Nahar, was: “Beirut’s shock… a summit without presidents”.

Still, some of the 20 countries taking part in the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit are sending prime ministers, foreign ministers or finance ministers, and officials played down the notion that the meeting would be poorly attended.

“It doesn’t take away from the importance of the issues (to be decided at the meeting),” s上海夜生活aid the Arab League assistant secretary general Hussam Zaki.


Although the economic summit has a lower profile than the Arab League summit, to be held in Tunisia in March, it still attracted numerous leaders when it was last held, in Saudi Arabia, in 2013.

Then, as now, Arab states were divided over the 2011 uprisings that toppled four leaders and led to three wars, over the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and over the role of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Syria was suspended from the Arab,上海夜网后花园Radcliff, League in 2011, but some members are pushing for its reinstatement and others have reopened shuttered embassies in Damascus.

In Lebanon, where Syrian forces were present for about three decades, the extent of relations with Damascus remains controversial.

Lebanon’s powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah fought alongside Assad in Syria and wants Arab states to normalize ties with Damascus. Some other Lebanese parties are wary of Damascus’ role.

“No Arabs without Damascus,” was the headline on Friday in the pro-Hezbollah al-Akhbar newspaper.

Meanwhile, members of the Amal party, a Hezbollah ally, on Sunday tore down a Libyan flag near the summit venue and burned it. They are angry over t,上海夜生活Jace,he disappearance of Shi’ite cleric Imam Musa al-Sadr while visiting Libya in 1978.

Libya was then ruled by Muammar Gaddafi, who was overthrown in 2011, but Amal politicians accuse the internationally recognized government in Tripoli of not cooperating with investigations into Sadr’s disappearance.

The Libyan government has boycotted the summit in protest and pointed out that thousands of Libyans also disappeared under Gaddafi’s four decades of autocratic rule.

“I don’t think this was necessary. It’s just two or three presidents,” said chocolate shop employee Mustafa Shatila in Beirut, bemoaning the closure of streets.

“They’ve always convened here and other places and no firm decisions that come out… they’ll be done in three days and leave as if nothing happened.”

Bus bomb in Syria’s Afrin kills three: witnesses

ISTANBUL ( ) – A bomb planted on a public bus in the northwest Syrian town of Afrin killed three civilians and wounded about 20, several witnesses told on Sunday.

The blast came on the first anniversary of Operation Olive Branch, an air and ground assault by Turkey on the mainly-Kurdish Afrin to drive out the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said it and similar attacks “will never discourage our fight in A上海夜生活论坛frin.”

“This process will continue without hesitation in Afrin, in Jarablus or in al-Bab,” he said, mentioning two other towns under the control of Turkish-backed forces. His comments came during a phone call with Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, state-owned Anadolu Agency (AA) reported.

No group has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack.

It follows a blast on Wednesday in Manbij, a northern Syrian town controlled by,上海晚上耍女人的地方Sabrina, a militia allied with U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, claimed by Islamic State, which killed two U.S. troops and two civilians working for the U.S. military.

Ankara considers the YPG an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has waged an insurgency on Turkish soil since 1984.

Erdogan said last month that his army would launch an operation against the YPG east of the Euphrates. President Donald Trump later announced he would pull all U.S. forces out of Syria, alarming allied Kurdish leaders who run much of the north.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella group dominated by the YPG and Washington’s main Syrian,上海夜网推油Octava, partner in the fight against Islamic State, controls territory in northeast and eastern Syria, which makes up about a quarter of the country.

The U.S. decision to leave Syria has led the Kurdish leaders to urge Russia and its ally Damascus to send forces to shie,上海夜生活桑拿会所Easton,ld the border from the threat of the Turkish offensive.

Russian senator says U.S. warship in Black Sea should keep its…

MOSCOW ( ) – Visits to the B上海夜生活论坛lack Sea by U.S. warships have nothing to do with U.S. security and are motivated by do,上海仙霞路夜生活Easton,mestic politics, prominent Russian senator Alexei Pushkov said on Sunday, warning they should stay away from the Russian coast.

The U.S. guided-missile destroyer Donald Cook began moving towards the Black Sea on Saturday, “to conduct maritime security operations and enhance regional maritime stability, combined readiness and naval capability”, a U.S. navy statement said. www.navy.mil/index.asp

The Russian Black Sea fleet began monitoring the warship once it entered the region, RIA news agency cited Russia’s National Defence Control Centre as saying on Saturday.

“U.S. warships are becoming fr,上海021夜网Gabe,equent visitors to the Black Sea. These visits have nothing to do with U.S. security,” Pushkov, a member of Russia’s Upper House Commission on Information Policy, wrote on his Twitter,上海夜玩网论坛Kailani, page.

“They flaunt their flag, send us a signal, and appease their own senators, who are demanding they send a whole military fleet to the Black Sea. They should keep away from our coastline,” he wrote.

This week a court in Russia extended by three months the arrest of 24 Ukrainian sailors captured along with their ships in November in the Kerch Strait, which links the Black Sea with the Azov Sea. They stand accused of illegally crossing into Russian territory.

The United States and European Union have called on Russia to release the men, but the Kremlin has said they must be put on trial. No trial date has been set.

According to the Montreux international convention, the U.S. warship can stay in the Black Sea for no more than 21 days, RIA cited the Russian defense control center as saying.

“Our arrival into the Black Sea will showcase the navy’s interoperability in pursuit of common security objectives, enabling us to respond effectively to future crises or deterring aggression,” Matthew J. Powel, commanding officer of the Donald Cook, said in a statement.

Factbox: UK PM May’s Brexit ‘plan B’ – What happens next in…

LONDON ( ) – British Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking to break the parliamentary deadlock over Brexit by proposing to seek further concessions from the European Union on a plan to prevent customs checks on the Irish border.

On Jan. 29, parliament will debate May’s proposed next steps as well as alternative plans put forward by lawmakers, including some that seek to delay Britain’s March 29 exit by requesting an extension to the two-year Article 50 negotiation period.

Some also seek to shift control of the process away from government and give parliament the chance to define Brexit. If successful, this could have a profound effect, giving lawmakers who want to block, delay or renegotiate Brexit a possible legal route to do so.

Below is what is due to happen next:


Lawmakers have begun proposing alternatives to May’s next steps through a parliamentary device known as an amendment. Amendments will be selected on Jan. 29 by speaker John Bercow and can then be put to a vote.

Below are the amendments that have been put forward so far:


Proposed by opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, it calls for parliament to consider alternative options to prevent Britain lea,上海夜生活服务Rae,ving without a deal, including seeking a permanent customs union with the EU and holding a second referendum.

This is unlikely to be approved as pro-EU Conservative lawmakers have indicated they will not support it.

The pro-EU Liberal Democrats have proposed a change to this amendment so that it would call only for parliament to vote on holding a second referendum and that remaining in the EU should be an option in that referendum.


Put forward by a group of Labour lawmakers, this calls on the government to request an extension to the Article 50 deadline so that a ‘Citizen’s Assembly’ of 250 people can be created to consider the way forward and make recommendations to parliament within 10 weeks of being set up.


This has been put forward by Labour lawmaker Hilary Benn, who chairs parliament’s Brexit select committee. It calls on the government to hold indicative votes on the following options:

1) Holding another vote in parliament on May’s deal

2) Leaving with no deal on March 29

3) Calling on the government to renegotiate May’s deal

4) Holding a second referendum


Proposed by lawmakers from Labour, May’s Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, this calls on the government to request an extension to the Article 50 deadline.


Put forward by Labour lawmaker Yvette Cooper, it has a strong chance of succeeding as Labour’s finance policy chief has said it is “highly likely” the party will back it and it is also supported by several of May’s Conservative lawmakers. [nL8N1ZN1BT]

It seeks to shift control of Brexit from May’s government to parliament by demanding that on Feb. 5, the rule that government business takes precedence in parliament is overturned.

Providing it has the support of 10 lawmakers, from at least four political parties, it then makes time for a piece of legislation Cooper has proposed, which gives May until Feb. 26 to get a deal approved by parliament.

If the government fails to get a deal through by that date, parliament would be given a vote on asking the EU for a postponement of the Article 50 deadline to prevent Britain leaving without a deal on March 29. It proposes a nine-month extension, to Dec. 31.


This has been proposed by Conservative lawmaker Dominic Grieve and has a chance of succeeding as it is supported by lawmakers from several parties.

It demands that, one day a week in February and March, the rule that government business takes precedence in parliament is overturned, giving lawmakers the opportunity to propose their own debates on Brexit.


Proposed by an independent lawmaker and a member of May’s Conservatives, this amendment calls for par,上海仙霞路夜生活上海夜生活网Quaid,liament to be given votes on a range of Brexit options including leaving without a deal, extending Article 50, leaving with a Canada-style or Norway-style relationship and holding another referendum.


Put forward by Labour and Conservative lawmakers, it seeks to rule out a ‘no deal’ Brexit.


Proposed by Conservative lawmaker Andrew Murrison, it calls for Britain’s exit deal with Brussels to be changed to add an expiry date to the Northern Irish backstop of Dec. 31, 2021.


Parliament will hold a day of debate on May’s proposed next steps and lawmakers’ amendments. They will not be asked to vote to approve a revised Brexit deal at this stage.

A vote in favor of changing the parliamentary rules would change the long-held principle of the British parliament that the government has control of what has the chance to become law.

Votes on alternative types of deal proposed by lawmakers should give an indication of whether there is any way forward supported by a majority in parliament.

If an option were approved by a majority of lawmakers, May could go back to the EU and seek changes to her Brexit deal. Parliament would ultimately still need to vote on any revised deal.