Jalili visits Beirut amid stories on the fate of the kidnapped
State and security officials have not been informed of any details about the 11 Lebanese kidnapped in Syria whose case resurfaced following conflicting news of an attack on them and their kidnappers.
This development comes following the ruckus over General Security’s deportation of 14 Syrians and the entry of Palestinians into Lebanon from Syria following the bombing of the Yarmouk camp in Damascus. These developments brought back to the fore the effects of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon.
What proved noteworthy Saturday was the report by An-Nahar's correspondent in Sidon quoting Palestinian sources in Ain al-Hilweh camp that the shooting Saturday night was in joy at the return of a group supporting Fatah al-Islam and Jund al-Sham headed by Osama al-Shihabi from Syria. Three months ago, this group reportedly left the camp for Syria.
Secretary of Iran's Higher National Security Council Saeed Jalili will visit Lebanon Monday and meet several high-ranking officials in a noticeable visit to discuss the repercussions of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon.
Iranian national security official visits Beirut 'officially' and the kidnapped in Syria are OK
The repercussions of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon continue and Iran's interference in the interest of Assad grows. At a time when Iran's Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi says that “arming the Syrian opposition will have dire consequences in the region," warning that the fighting in Syrian could extend beyond its borders, the secretary of the Iranian Higher National Security Council arrives in Beirut Monday on an "official" visit to meet top Lebanese officials.
As we wait to see what message Jalili has for Lebanon, the repercussions of Lebanon's vote in the General Assembly against the Arab and international consensus continue, while the unknown fate of the 11 kidnapped Lebanese has returned to the spotlight amid an escalation in fighting and an increase in conflicting news regarding the kidnappers. The official spokesperson for the kidnappers, Mohammad Nour, denied that their location was attacked Saturday night and affirmed that the head of the group, "Abu Ibrahim," was not hurt.
Mikati to Saudi Arabia against Hariri's wishes, will represent Sleiman in the Islamic summit
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri put all his efforts into preventing Prime Minister Najib Mikati from visiting Saudi Arabia to represent President Michel Sleiman in the Islamic Summit scheduled for March 14.
It would have been an interesting thing to see a Christian man [Sleiman] at the Islamic Summit. But Sleiman's busy schedule and perhaps his negligence of the issue made Mikati decide to go as his representative. Hariri used his clout with the administration of Saudi Arabia to pressure Mikati not to come. Hariri also made secret calls to the president in an attempt to convince him not to designate Mikati as his representative. Hariri, who feels strong in Saudi Arabia and with its administration, is met with the weakness of Mikati, who is looking for a role in the kingdom and trying to make it satisfied with him and his Cabinet.
The following are the weak points of the Lebanese state with regard to the Islamic summit issue, its symbols and leaders: firstly, it is shameful for Hariri to try to prevent Mikati from coming to Saudi Arabia because he is acting in a malicious way rather than as a statesman. Secondly, it would have been better to have the Maronite President Michel Sleiman at the Islamic summit
Thirdly, how long will the Sunni-Sunni war between Salafists and fundamentalists on the one hand and, on the other, the middle forces represented by Mikati, Mohammad Safadi and Future Movement backed by Saudi Arabia last? The fourth point is that there is pressure on the Lebanese embassy not to conduct a reception for Mikati and instead make his visit exclusively for the summit.
Disputes inside the government return
The Cabinet of Prime Minister Najib Mikati had barely overcome the problem threatening the unity of its majority until it fell into another one.
Media and political sources following up on the problems of the Cabinet said that the success of the government lies in its ability to resolve their problems, particularly the recent one which saw teachers retract their decision to boycott the correction of official examinations in the hope of a new salary scale, the end of the contract workers' strike and the end of Sheikh Ahmad Assir's sit-in in Sidon. The resolution of these problems gave the government a push to continue and lessened complications preventing it from continuing its work.
But soon another problem occurred; General Security’s decision to deport 14 Syrians to their country -- which was met with severe opposition by the National Struggle Front Parliamentary bloc headed by Walid Jumblatt in Cabinet last Thursday when the ministers insisted on clarifying details of the issue and opening an investigation into it.
Head of the Future Movement Parliamentary bloc Fouad Siniora reiterated his party's and March 14's demand for the resignation of the government when commenting on Mikati’s comments Friday that the “humanitarian reality of the Syrian refugees is receiving all our care and it is not acceptable for it to be an obstacle in the face of applying judiciary sentences." Mikati's words infuriated Jumblatt, who said Mikati accepted the story by the General Security and closed the issue despite objections by his ministers and regardless of information they had received that among the deportees were political activists.