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Lebanon

The Latest Anti-Immigrant Party On The Rise ... In Lebanon

The Lebanese 'Party of Hope' calls for the immediate expulsion of more than one million Syrian refugees.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon
Syrian refugees in Lebanon
Giacomo Tognini

ZOUK MOSBEH — Dozens of supporters turned out recently in this coastal town north of Beirut to inaugurate a new political party, the Lebanese Party of Hope, which advocates the expulsion of an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees currently in Lebanon.

The Beirut-based daily L'Orient-Le Jourreports that the question of what will happen to the refugees once the Syrian civil war draws to a close is a deeply divisive topic in Lebanese politics. Some parties are pushing for a voluntary repatriation led by the refugees themselves, while others prefer the involvement of security forces.

The Party of Hope is demanding immediate negotiations with the Syrian government to repatriate all of the displaced. "The government must block Syrians from entering and must re-establish control over our borders, revoke the refugee status of Syrian refugees who cross the border and seek more international aid to deal with the situation," party leader Farès Ftouhi told L'Orient-Le Jour.

We aren't against Syrians, we are for them.

Lebanese parties that oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad refuse to talk to him, as any negotiation is perceived as legitimizing his regime. The Lebanese government has distanced itself from Assad since the outbreak of the civil war in 2011, a choice decried by the Shia Lebanese militia Hezbollah, a staunch ally of Damascus.

The Party of Hope warns that delaying the issue further could lead to a back-door naturalization of Syrian refugees, though that is unconstitutional. Granting Lebanese citizenship to millions of predominantly Sunni Muslim Syrians would upend Lebanon's political landscape, in which religion determines everything from the presidency to the number of seats a party wins in parliament.

"We aren't against Syrians, we are for them," said Ftouhi. "We support their secure and orderly return to Syria."

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Geopolitics

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023

Before heading to South Sudan to continue his highly anticipated trip to Africa, the pontiff was in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he delivered a powerful speech, in a country where 40 million Catholics live.

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — You may know the famous Joseph Stalin quote: “The Pope? How many divisions has he got?” Pope Francis still has no military divisions to his name, but he uses his voice, and he does so wisely — sometimes speaking up when no one else would dare.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (the former Belgian Congo, a region plundered and martyred, before and after its independence in 1960), Francis has chosen to speak loudly. Congo is a country with 110 million inhabitants, immensely rich in minerals, but populated by poor people and victims of brutal wars.

That land is essential to the planetary ecosystem, and yet for too long, the world has not seen it for its true value.

The words of this 86-year-old pope, who now moves around in a wheelchair, deserve our attention. He undoubtedly said what a billion Africans are thinking: "Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: It is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered!"

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