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Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at crowds protesting pound devaluation

Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at crowds protesting pound devaluation

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Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at crowds protesting pound devaluation

Lebanese security forces on Wednesday fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters, mostly retired members of the security forces, who had gathered near government buildings in Beirut in anger at deteriorating economic conditions.

Crowds gathered in the streets of downtown Beirut between parliament and the government serail, carrying Lebanon’s tricolour or flags bearing the logos of security forces.

They were outraged at the deteriorating value of state pensions paid in the local currency. The pound has lost more than 98% of its value against the U.S. dollar since 2019.

“Our kids are hungry. We’re hungry,” said Mohamad el-Khateeb, a 59-year-old who had served in the army for 32 years.

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“We left the army with nothing. No healthcare, no welfare, our kids are out of school and prices are rising obscenely. What do you expect?” Khateeb told Reuters.

Some of the men tried to cross one of the checkpoints leading to a government building, prompting security forces to fire tear gas to keep them back, according to a Reuters witness.

Protesters dashed away from white clouds emanating from locations around the serail. One soldier was seen treating a young boy who was affected by the tear gas.

“If he fires on us, he’s firing on our rights and on his rights at the same time,” said army veteran Ahmad Mustafa, 60.

“He’s suffering just like me,” he told Reuters, clutching two of the tear gas canisters fired just moments earlier.

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There was no immediate statement from the Lebanese army.
Lebanon’s economic meltdown began in 2019 after decades of profligate spending and alleged corruption. Its onset prompted the most wide-ranging protests the country had seen in years, but they fizzled out and rallies have been sporadic since.

The country’s top financial and political leaders have allowed the crisis to fester, with the Lebanese pound hitting an all-time low of 140,000 to the U.S. dollar on Tuesday before an intervention by the country’s central bank.

Lebanon’s army troops and members of the security forces are receiving salary support in U.S. dollars from the United States and Qatar for the first time.

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White-led DA party joins ANC in South African unity government

White-led DA party joins ANC in South African unity government

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White-led DA party joins ANC in South African unity government

 The African National Congress and its largest rival, the white-led, pro-business Democratic Alliance, agreed on Friday to work together in South Africa’s new government of national unity, a step change after 30 years of ANC majority rule.

Once unthinkable, the deal between two sharply antagonistic parties is the most momentous political shift in South Africa since Nelson Mandela led the ANC to victory in the 1994 elections that marked the end of apartheid.

“Today, South Africa is a better country than it was yesterday. For the first time since 1994, we’ve embarked on a peaceful and democratic transfer of power to a new government that will be different from the previous one,” DA leader John Steenhuisen said in a televised address.

“From today, the DA will co-govern the Republic of South Africa in a spirit of unity and collaboration,” he said, adding that multi-party government was the “new normal”.

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The ANC lost its majority for the first time in an election on May 29 and has spent two weeks locked in intensive behind-the-scenes talks with other parties, which came down to the wire on Friday morning as the new parliament was convening.

The DA’s entry into national government is a big moment for a country still processing the legacy of the racist colonial and apartheid regimes. The party has struggled to shake off its image as a defender of rich white people and convince a broad spectrum of South Africans that it reflects their aspirations.

Two smaller parties, the socially conservative Inkatha Freedom Party and the right-wing Patriotic Alliance, will also take part in the unity government, they said. 

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Hamas’ armed wing says Israeli airstrike killed two hostages in Rafah

Hamas’ armed wing says Israeli airstrike killed two hostages in Rafah

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Hamas' armed wing says Israeli airstrike killed two hostages in Rafah

Hamas’ armed wing al-Qassam Brigades said on Friday that two Israeli hostages held in Gaza were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Rafah a few days ago.

The group, in a video posted on its Telegram channel, did not release the names of those said to have been killed or provide any evidence.

The Israeli government “does not want your hostages to return, except in coffins,” the al-Qassam Brigades statement said.

Israel rescued four hostages held by Hamas in a hostage-freeing operation in central Gaza’s al-Nuseirat on June 8. The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said more than 250 Palestinians were killed in the raid.

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The war in Gaza erupted when Hamas militants stormed southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. 

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US attack sub, Canada navy patrol ship arrive in Cuba on heels of Russian warships

US attack sub, Canada navy patrol ship arrive in Cuba on heels of Russian warships

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US attack sub, Canada navy patrol ship arrive in Cuba on heels of Russian warships

A Canadian navy patrol ship sailed into Havana early on Friday, just hours after the United States announced a fast-attack submarine had docked at its Guantanamo naval base on Cuba, both vessels on the heels of Russian warships that arrived on the island earlier this week.

The confluence of Russian, Canadian and U.S. vessels in Cuba – a Communist-ruled island nation just 160 km (100 miles) from Florida – served up a reminder of old Cold War tensions and of current fraught ties between Russia and Western nations over the Ukraine war.

However, both the U.S. and Cuba have said the Russian warships pose no threat to the region. Russia has also characterized the arrival of its warships in allied Cuba as routine.

The Admiral Gorshkov frigate and the nuclear-powered submarine Kazan, half submerged with its crew on deck, sailed into Havana harbor on Wednesday after conducting “high-precision missile weapons” training in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Canada`s Margaret Brooke patrol vessel began maneuvers early on Friday to enter Havana harbor, part of what the Canadian Joint Operations Command called “a port visit…in recognition of the long-standing bilateral relationship between Canada and Cuba.”

A Canadian diplomat characterized the Margaret Brooke`s arrival as “routine and part of long-standing cooperation between our two countries”, adding it was “unrelated to the presence of the Russian ships.”

Russia and Cuba were close allies under the former Soviet Union and tensions with Washington over Communism in its “backyard” peaked with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Moscow, which has maintained ties with Havana, has questioned the apparent nervousness of the West over the warships this week. 

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