Akkar and Rweis conflict under control
Domestic developments took a turn in the last hours in favor of strengthening security before the Pope Benedict's visit between Sept. 14 and 16. The army's security operation continued in the troubled area of Rweis, while the March 14 coalition proved able to put out the fire that erupted following the release of three officers involved in the Kweikhat incident in Akkar.
Despite possible reactions to both incidents, one common thing between them has become clear; the need to strengthen the calm atmosphere before the pope's visit to Lebanon.
Amid this security situation, President Michel Sleiman made a few remarks regarding recent developments during his trip to Amshit, including his position of not backing down on any stance he has taken regarding the case of Minister Michel Samaha. Sleiman saluted the Army, which pursued the kidnappers in Rweis, and purposely said he was the one who asked for such an operation.
Lebanese-Syrian diplomatic tension comes to the fore
Tensions in the diplomatic relations between Lebanon and Syria were apparent even through closed doors, along with the increase in Syria's objections to the Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and the involvement of some of the [Syrian] regime’s own allies in campaigns against it.
The latest manifestation of the tensions came when Damascus voiced its annoyance after Sleiman said that the commander of the Army Gen. Jean Kahwagi received an apology from the military leadership of Syria about border violations in Akkar, north Lebanon, which resulted in the death and wounding of a number of citizens as well as material damage.
Al-Hayat obtained information from Lebanese ministerial sources saying that Secretary-General of the Higher Lebanese-Syrian Council Nasri Khoury told high-ranking Lebanese officials that Damascus is angry with Sleiman. Sleiman received an apology from Syria over the Syrian Army's violation of several villages in Akkar, after which the Syrian authorities launched a probe to reveal the circumstances and vowed not to repeat the violations.
Syria's objections began when Sleiman instructed Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour to summon Syria's Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel-Karim Ali and hand him a letter protesting the continued violations of Lebanon's border in Akkar.
Sleiman remains committed to congratulating Internal Security Forces in the Samaha case
President Michel Sleiman continues to explain the meaning of "defense strategy" for Lebanon against Syrian violations and remains committed to congratulating Internal Security Forces on discovering the bomb plot of Minister Michel Samaha. Meanwhile, Tehran lifted the veil off an Iranian "defense strategy" with Hezbollah as the tool that has nothing to do with the strategy discussed by the Lebanese at the Dialogue table.
The Iranian stance was voiced by the advisor of Commander of Iranian armed forces Brig. Gen. Yehia Safwat, who said that Lebanon and Syria represent the core of Iran's defense strategy, and that Hezbollah will respond if Israel attacks the Islamic Republic.
Mehr news agency quoted Safwat as saying: "If the Zionist entity takes a step one day against us, then our resistance groups and particularly Hezbollah, considering it is the core of our defense strategy, will respond to this entity."