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Saudis Urge Citizens to Leave Lebanon as Iran Tension Rises

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Saudi Arabia
  • Saudis Urge Citizens to Leave Lebanon as Iran Tension Rises

Saudi Arabia advised its nationals to leave Lebanon, further fueling fears of a heated confrontation with Iran in a country long known for being a battleground for proxy wars in the Middle East.

Saudi citizens were also advised not to travel to Lebanon, the official Saudi Press Agency cited the foreign ministry statement as saying, five days after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri unexpectedly resigned in a speech from Saudi Arabia.

Lebanon is in the cross-hairs of the escalating tension between Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Shiite-led Iran, who are on opposite ends of conflicts across the Middle East. Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen launched a missile at the international airport in Riyadh — an attack Saudi officials said could be an Iranian “act of war.” That day, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri — a pro-Saudi politician — abruptly resigned, issuing a statement in Riyadh blaming Iran for meddling in Lebanon’s affairs via its proxy, Hezbollah.

Iran denied supplying Houthi fighters with missiles, and accused Saudi Arabia of trying to escalate tensions.

“The safety net Lebanon had is no longer in place,” Sami Nader, head of the Beirut-based Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs, said by phone, adding that Lebanon may face the same kind of economic sanctions imposed by a Saudi-led alliance on Qatar since June. “We should expect further escalation from Saudi Arabia against Lebanon.”

After Hariri’s resignation, Saudi Arabia warned the Lebanese government of the dangers of Hezbollah, accusing the group — which is part of the Lebanese government — of being involved in every terrorist attack that threatens the kingdom. It has denied forcing Hariri to resign.

Warning

“We won’t accept Lebanon taking part in a war against Saudi Arabia,” State Minister for Gulf affairs Thamer al-Sabhan said in an interview with al-Arabiya television. “The Saudis will take all political measures and more to confront Hezbollah.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said he will make a stopover in Riyadh Thursday night on his way back to Paris from Dubai, to discuss regional issues with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Topics will include the political crisis in Lebanon, wars in Yemen and Syria, and tensions with Iran.

The “stability and security” of Lebanon is France’s priority, Macron said. The president said he had “informal contacts” with Hariri, declining to comment on his decision to resign.

Other Gulf nations are rallying around Saudi Arabia against Iran. Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates minister of state for foreign affairs, called for Iran’s ballistic program to be tackled as “an urgent priority” after the Houthi attack on Riyadh’s airport.

Embargo

Iran is also central to the Saudi-led embargo on Qatar. The alliance accused it of sponsoring terrorism and cozying up to Iran, charges the Gulf nation has repeatedly denied.

Hariri stepped down at a time when Iran and its allies are widely seen to have won the proxy war against Sunni powers in neighboring Syria. Lebanon, a battleground of proxy wars during its 1975-1990 civil war, has largely avoided the sectarian massacres that ravaged its larger neighbor for more than six years. Even so, the conflict has weighed on Lebanon’s economy, cutting major trade routes and bringing more than 1 million refugees into the country.

The instability has rattled financial markets. Lebanon’s $1.54 billion Eurobonds due 2022 tumbled, sending the yield up 40 basis points to 8.31 percent as of 4:16 pm in London, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said this week that markets are stable and that there was no run on the country’s banks.

In a statement Thursday, Hariri’s Future Movement called for the former prime minister’s return to Lebanon, saying that it would support him regardless of circumstances.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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