The following are a selection of stories from Lebanese newspapers that may be of interest to Daily Star readers. The Daily Star cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports.
Thwarting a criminal plan
Knowledgeable security sources told As-Safir that the Bekaa region and Lebanese as a whole escaped Thursday a dangerous criminal attempt that was about to push Lebanon into treacherous sectarian strife.
The sources said that an official Lebanese security force was informed by the Americans 10 days in advance that armed Syrian opposition groups with around 2000 members were planning to launch a military operation that would reach Bekaa’s Nahleh village among others. The objective was twofold: first to commit a large massacre that would provoke a sectarian retaliation in another region, and second to kidnap tens of men and youths from this village and others, in order to swap them for Islamist detainees in Roumieh prison.
Military operations continued yesterday in the Qalamoun hills, where the Syrian Army and Hezbollah were able to control a strategic spot that would have formed one of the biggest gathering posts for the armed [opposition] groups willing to commit the [above mentioned] operations.
The Americans asked the Army leadership and General Security to notify soldiers and commanding officers to initiate precautionary measures, with suspicious that some Takfiri groups might kidnap soldiers or commanding officers from their villages and similarly use them to negociate the release of Roumieh prisoners belonging to the Nusra Front and the Abdallah Azzam Brigades.
The sources said that the terrorist Takfiri organizations had assigned themselves central goal to release Roumieh’s Islamist detainees, either by launching a wide escape operation along with a huge suicide bombing, or through a hostage operation.
Hariri suggests a “protective map” prioritizing presidential election
Rumors are spreading that the move [former Prime Minister] Hariri suggested to break the immobility in the presidential election might include a dialogue with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and MP Walid Jumblatt from one side, and an attempt to find common ground between the head of the Reform and Change bloc MP Michel Aoun and the head of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea on the other. However, some [analysts] said that Hariri’s talk of a new movement marks a shift toward candidates other than the four political leaders from the March 8 and 14 groups.
Ministerial sources told An-Nahar that the efforts to resolve the Lebanese University file, allowing Cabinet to resume its sessions, have failed over the issue of appointing the Medical School dean. The Free Patriotic Movement insists on the name it suggested to this post, which closed the door on an agreement with the Progressive Socialist Party who suggest that current dean, Pierre Yared, should keep the post.
PSP revive the Amal-Future dialogue
After the escalation of the conflict yesterday between the Future Movement and Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, Health minister Wael Abu Faour intervened to reactivate the dialogue between the two sides. They agreed to resume discussion next week, to continue examining the two files of the public sector employees and the ranks and salaries scale.
Free Patriotic Movement sources told Al-Akhbar that some “discuss the ranks and salaries scale based on the suggestion to ensure its funding from the revenues that will result of the increase in electricity tariffs, which is something the FPM totally refuses.”
Berri not excited about Jumblatt’s proposal to meet him with Siniora
Jumblatt’s efforts to arrange a meeting between Speaker Berri and former Prime Minister Siniora have failed, on account of Berri’s refusal.
Meanwhile meetings between representatives of the Amal and Future movements brought nothing new because despite Jumblatt’s efforts, every party insisted on its own position. The refusal to meet each other halfway has led to an escalation of the conflict and worsened institutional paralysis. It will affect the functioning of Cabinet, especially as no progress has been made over the ranks and salaries scale, nor over the issue of contract professors at the Lebanese University. Another result was that teachers boycotted the official exam, causing a lot of problems for this academic year.