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Saudi Arabia too weak to attack Iran: Emile Lahoud

“Israel, which is hundreds of times stronger than Saudi Arabia, is incapable of launching an attack against Hezbollah…,” Lahoud said in an interview with Lebanon's Al Mayadeen television channel on Wednesday.

He added, “Saudi Arabia is too weak to attack Iran (then)”.

The former president called on the Lebanese nation to remain vigilant in the face of a new plot hatched by the Zionist regime of Israel against the Arab country and Hezbollah resistance group.

“If it had not been for Hezbollah, Lebanon would have been occupied by Israel now,” Lahoud noted.

The Yemeni army on Sunday targeted Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh with a long-range Borkan H2 ballistic missile.

On Monday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said his country reserved the right to respond to what he called Iran’s “hostile actions”, an apparent reference to the missile attack.

The Saudi crown prince alleged on Tuesday that Iran was involved in supplying weapons to the Houthis, which he said “is a direct military aggression” by Iran against Saudi Arabia.

In response, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed as “false and dangerous” accusations by the Saudi officials.

The top Iranian diplomat pointed to Saudi Arabia’s acts of provocation in the Middle East, saying that the kingdom’s accusations were contrary to international law and the United Nations Charter.

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Story of Hariri’s arrest; from airport to Ritz Carlton

According to the sources, Hariri was asked to go to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel complex shortly after arriving in Riyadh, to hold meetings in preparation for his transfer to Al-Yamamah Palace to meet King Salman. Upon his arrival at the hotel, he was surprised by the extensive security measures, realizing, minutes later, that he had been arrested. He was taken to one of the villas on the compound, not to the hotel where about 49 princes, ministers and a Saudi businessman were detained. They were also immediately summoned to Riyadh for "business meetings" with the king and the crown prince to undergo an investigation and get arrested over corruption allegations.

According to sources, the Saudi security forces seized the phones in the possession of Hariri and his security team. The members of the security team were given a choice between returning to Beirut or staying. Those leaving the compound would not be able to return to it again. At Hariri's request, four of his escorts, led by Officer Mohammed Diab, went to his home to stay with his wife and children, while the head of Hariri's guard, Abd al-Arab, and one of his aides remained with him in the same villa. Everyone was informed of the rules of residence, which include not being able to move inside the hotel and not being allowed to communicate with the security personnel and employees. They were in touch with a Saudi security officer in a nearby office, where they can go several times a day to check their phones. They are only allowed to use the phones to reply to messages received through applications such as "Watsapp". They were also allowed to make phone calls provided they did not discuss their place of residence and circumstances. If they broke those rules they would be denied further communication.

After meeting with a senior Saudi security official and another meeting with Minister Thamer al-Sbahan, Hariri was handed the resignation statement, which was written by the Royal Court. He was allowed to review it twice before recording. It should be stressed that he could not contact anyone to explain the background of the move. Al-Sabhan informed Hariri that he would explain the situation to those concerned in Beirut and that it should be stressed that the prime minister's aides are forbidden to come to Riyadh - a message that Hariri personally delivered in several letters to his office manager Nader Hariri and several Future Movement officials.

Hariri was then informed that he would be part of an investigation and appear as a witness - not as the Prime Minister of Lebanon but as a Saudi citizen. He was asked about files dating back to the era of Khalid al-Tuwaijri, who was the chief of the Royal Court during the reign of the former King Abdullah. Hariri repeated what he had said several months ago about these files. More specifically he addressed suspicions that he received commissions through a royal gift to Lebanon estimated at one billion dollars, as well as contracts obtained by the Saudi Oger company without committing to the dates of completion of the work, and the fate of large bank loans. Hariri also reiterated that all his property in Saudi Arabia is mortgaged to Saudi banks and that he only owns his home.

After Hariri's request to either hold a press conference or leave Saudi Arabia, his escorts who moved to his family home were told to make up their minds on whether to stay or travel to Lebanon. Some returned home yesterday.

Although everyone in Beirut was stunned by Hariri's resignation, contacts that took place in the next 24 hours prompted those close to him to raise the issue with local and foreign parties. The consensus was to act calmly and to try to secure a safe and decent exit for the prime minister from Saudi Arabia, something President Aoun and Nabih Berri tried to do through mediation with Egypt and Jordan but without achieving results. MP Walid Jumblatt also brokered mediation with the French and British authorities which ended in failure. Even London failed to obtain permission for one of its diplomats in Riyadh to meet Hariri at his residence, while the Americans refused to intervene.

On Monday night, it was revealed that the French mediation had failed and that the Saudi crown prince had insisted that Hariri could not leave Riyadh without a pledge not to change his position. It was suggested that his family would be kept in Riyadh as hostages to prevent him from declaring any political position contrary to what he announced in the resignation statement. Hariri's aides in Beirut did not receive any positive signals even after midnight. His team in Beirut was preoccupied with controlling the actions and statements of the media as well as the political and parliamentary team. It was later revealed that al-Sabhan was inciting these to launch statements denying Hariri's arrest and confirming the content of his resignation statement. It is noteworthy that MP Jumblatt did not receive any exceptional assurances from al-Sabhan, who he communicates with through Minister Wael Abu Faour.

The sources paused at the news of King Salman receiving Hariri at Al Yamamah Palace on Monday, pointing out that Hariri was transferred to the palace by a security team. They also pointed out that the meeting was aimed at sending a signal that he is not on the list of those arrested on charges of corruption and who will not be received by the king or the crown prince. They also added that Hariri's situation will be settled linking it to internal Saudi dossier as well as the Lebanese dossier. Noting that those close to Hariri believe that President Aoun's position and the positions of the Lebanese leaders not to accept the resignation along with the Arab and Western mediation will compel Saudi Arabia to allow Hariri to leave either to France or to Lebanon.

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<div>Iraq to trim Kurdish region's budget share</div>

November 8, 2017 - 11:07 PM News Code : 865583 Source : AP Link: (AhlulBayt News Agency) - Iraq's prime minister has defended a proposal to trim the self-ruled Kurdish region's share in next year's budget from 17 percent to 12.6 percent.

Haider al-Abadi told reporters Tuesday that the proposal is not "a punishment" to the Kurds in the wake of controversial independence vote held late September. That vote saw a majority support from the Kurds. Baghdad considers it unconstitutional and illegal.

Al-Abadi says his government is considering the region's population data, the real needs of all Iraq's regions and the poverty level nationwide.

The proposal is still under discussion in the Cabinet. It must be endorsed and sent to parliament for final approval.

Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the Kurdish region has been entitled to 17 percent of the budget based on political agreements.

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Sheikh Zakzaky: Falana withdraws petition against Nigerian Army

Mr. Falana said although it was painful, he had to withdraw the petition in view of the fact that there was already a judicial commission of inquiry, currently handling the case.

He, however, said that the panel could on its own, decide to listen to any witness in the case, and urged the panel to keep the petition in view

Mr. Falana also urged the panel to issue an order directing the federal government to comply with the ruling of the Federal High Court that ordered for the release of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky from detention.

He berated the Federal Government for not obeying the ruling of the Federal High Court on Sheikh Zakzaky, adding that since Nigeria’s independence, he had never seen a couple detain together.

He said that the couple should be released based on the premise that the country was operating the rule of law, adding that it was painful he could not put the petition through.

“We are already taking other steps to ensure that Sheikh Zakzaky is released, because this is the first time in the history of this country that a couple will be detained,” he said.

Akinseye George, the counsel to the Nigerian Army, said that the matter should be expunged from the panel list.

He said that the panel was magnanimous enough to accommodate the petition by shifting dates and time for the petitioner.

He said that the panel should disregard the petitioner’s plea that the petition be kept in view, stressing that the petition ended with the withdrawal.

Justice Biobele George, chairman of the panel, struck out the petition based on voluntary withdrawal by the petitioner

The Presidential Investigation Panel to Review Compliance of the Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement sittings ended on November 8.

The panel had traveled round the six geo-political zones to receive petitions and listen to petitioners’ allegations of human rights violation by the military.

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Qatar plans to reopen embassy in Iraq soon

The efforts announced by Doha include the reopening of the Embassy of Qatar in Iraq, which was closed in 1990 after late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

“Some conditions have recently complicated the issue, however, there is Emir’s order to open the embassy immediately and appoint an ambassador soon,” Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said at a press conference broadcast by Al Jazeera on Wednesday.

The minister has congratulated Iraq on liberation from terrorists and confirmed that Doha would play an active role in the recovery process in steps marking a new page in the two states’ relations.

Qatar’s top diplomat also blasted the “stubborn” Saudi foreign policy, saying that it will lead KSA into a crisis with the international community.

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