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Satellite images show no major damage to ‘sabotaged’ ships

DUBAI: Four oil tankers anchored in the Mideast were damaged by what Gulf officials described as sabotage, though satellite images obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday showed no major visible damage to the vessels.Details of the alleged sabotage to two Saudi, one Norwegian and one Emirati oil tanker on Sunday remained unclear, and Gulf…

Satellite images show no major damage to ‘sabotaged’ ships

DUBAI: Four oil tankers anchored in the Mideast were damaged by what Gulf officials described as sabotage, though satellite images obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday showed no major visible damage to the vessels.Details of the alleged sabotage to two Saudi, one Norwegian and one Emirati oil tanker on Sunday remained unclear, and Gulf officials have declined to say who they suspected was responsible. But it demonstrated the raised risks for shippers in a region vital to global energy supplies as tensions are increasing between the US and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.The US has warned sailors of the potential for attacks on commercial sea traffic, and regional allies of the United Arab Emirates condemned the sabotage as the tankers were off the coast of the UAE port city of Fujairah.A US official in Washington, without offering any evidence, told the AP that an American military team’s initial assessment indicated Iran or Iranian allies used explosives to blow holes in the ships. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation, agreed to reveal the findings only if not quoted by name. The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which patrols the Mideast and operates from a base in Fujairah, has repeatedly declined to comment.The US already had warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region. America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Arabian Gulf to counter alleged, still-unspecified threats from Tehran.

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Middle East News

Bahrain says conference co-hosted with US aimed at helping Palestinians

DUBAI: Bahrain said Tuesday a peace conference it is co-hosting next month with the US is aimed at helping the Palestinians, who have criticized the kingdom for failing to consult them about the event.The conference “serves no other purpose” than to help the Palestinian people “through developing their abilities and enhancing their resources,” said Foreign…

Bahrain says conference co-hosted with US aimed at helping Palestinians

DUBAI: Bahrain said Tuesday a peace conference it is co-hosting next month with the US is aimed at helping the Palestinians, who have criticized the kingdom for failing to consult them about the event.The conference “serves no other purpose” than to help the Palestinian people “through developing their abilities and enhancing their resources,” said Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa.The kingdom “remains supportive of the brotherly Palestinian people in restoring their legitimate rights on their land as well as establishing an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital,” Bahrain’s top diplomat said in a statement.The White House announced Sunday it would co-host the June 25-26 conference with Bahrain focusing on economic aspects of the long-delayed US peace plan, with the declared aim of achieving Palestinian prosperity.“We were not consulted by any party on the announced meeting to take place in Manama, Bahrain,” Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in a statement.“We have not mandated any party to negotiate on our behalf.”The Palestinians have boycotted the US administration since President Donald Trump broke with decades of consensus and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.They consider the eastern part of the city the capital of their future state and have shown little interest in the US peace plan, which they fear will be heavily biased in favor of Israel.Dubbed “Peace for Prosperity,” the conference is expected to bring together leaders from several governments, civil society and the business sector.Trump’s office said the conference was a “pivotal opportunity… to share ideas, discuss strategies, and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement.”The Palestinians see this as offering financial rewards in exchange for accepting ongoing Israeli occupation.“Attempts at promoting an economic normalization of the Israeli occupation of Palestine will be rejected,” Erekat said.

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Middle East News

UN envoy warns of ‘long and bloody war’ in Libya

DUBAI: Bahrain said Tuesday a peace conference it is co-hosting next month with the US is aimed at helping the Palestinians, who have criticized the kingdom for failing to consult them about the event.The conference “serves no other purpose” than to help the Palestinian people “through developing their abilities and enhancing their resources,” said Foreign…

UN envoy warns of ‘long and bloody war’ in Libya

DUBAI: Bahrain said Tuesday a peace conference it is co-hosting next month with the US is aimed at helping the Palestinians, who have criticized the kingdom for failing to consult them about the event.The conference “serves no other purpose” than to help the Palestinian people “through developing their abilities and enhancing their resources,” said Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa.The kingdom “remains supportive of the brotherly Palestinian people in restoring their legitimate rights on their land as well as establishing an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital,” Bahrain’s top diplomat said in a statement.The White House announced Sunday it would co-host the June 25-26 conference with Bahrain focusing on economic aspects of the long-delayed US peace plan, with the declared aim of achieving Palestinian prosperity.“We were not consulted by any party on the announced meeting to take place in Manama, Bahrain,” Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in a statement.“We have not mandated any party to negotiate on our behalf.”The Palestinians have boycotted the US administration since President Donald Trump broke with decades of consensus and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.They consider the eastern part of the city the capital of their future state and have shown little interest in the US peace plan, which they fear will be heavily biased in favor of Israel.Dubbed “Peace for Prosperity,” the conference is expected to bring together leaders from several governments, civil society and the business sector.Trump’s office said the conference was a “pivotal opportunity… to share ideas, discuss strategies, and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement.”The Palestinians see this as offering financial rewards in exchange for accepting ongoing Israeli occupation.“Attempts at promoting an economic normalization of the Israeli occupation of Palestine will be rejected,” Erekat said.

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Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

BEIRUT: Security forces opened water cannons on Lebanese anti-austerity protesters in the country’s capital on Monday, as the government continued to hold marathon meetings to discuss severe budget cuts.Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt, rising unemployment and slow growth. The government’s tightened budget and key reforms aim to…

Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

BEIRUT: Security forces opened water cannons on Lebanese anti-austerity protesters in the country’s capital on Monday, as the government continued to hold marathon meetings to discuss severe budget cuts.Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt, rising unemployment and slow growth. The government’s tightened budget and key reforms aim to unlock billions of dollars in pledged foreign assistance. But planned cuts have unleashed a wave of public discontent, amid leaks that austerity could target public wages, services and social benefits.

A retired Lebanese soldier chants slogans while holding an army flag, during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday. (AP)

Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut shouting “Thieves, thieves!” as the Cabinet met for its 16th session and struggles to reach agreement.Protesters pushed back against police lines and set fire to tires outside the building. At least two policemen and one civilian were wounded in the scuffles.Among those demonstrating Monday were public and private school teachers and retired officers.The government, headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, has sought to calm nerves while also describing the upcoming budget as the most austere in Lebanon’s history.Hariri said he hopes the government will be able to send the budget to parliament later this week.Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said the cabinet made “important progress” in discussions Sunday.

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