Pope's visit cools down domestic politics
It is good that Pope Benedict XVI decided to visit Lebanon during this time in the region. The [upcoming] visit [has already] cooled down the domestic scene and opened roads between the residences of officials just days before he arrives in Beirut, which, like other areas, is preparing to receive the third pope to visit Lebanon since independence.
While President Michel Sleiman sent political signals regarding Lebanon and Syria, Prime Minister Najib Mikati did the same and agreed that the government would remain in office until the elections. Mikati [also] promised that the release of the kidnapped [Lebanese pilgrims] in Syria would happen gradually with Turkish help.
Just as it chose to reveal Michel Samaha's network at a specific moment, the Information Branch chose ... political timing to leak the presence of evidence that former Brig. Gen. Jamil Sayyed was in the former minister's car, loaded with explosives, before it reached the parking lot.
Jamil Sayyed is second resounding file after Samaha
With the start of the "papal week" Friday, which will witness the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI in Lebanon for a three-day visit, the local development revealing that former Brig. Gen. Jamil Sayyed is tied to the case of former Minister Michel Samaha represents a sudden violation of the preparatory atmosphere for the pope's visit.
It was not the first time Sayyed's name was mentioned in the case. Two or three days following the arrest of Samaha on Aug. 9, rumors circulated that Sayyed had accompanied Samaha in his car while transporting explosives from Syria to Lebanon. The dangerous part is that in the Information Branch's report, it cites incriminating evidence that Sayyed was in Samaha's car. The report has been referred to Judge Sakr Sakr, who reviewed the report to refer it – probably Tuesday –to Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghida, who is presiding over Samaha's case.
Judicial committee prevents delivery of complete telecoms data
The March 14 coalition lost two battles at once: the first was for the security agencies to fully receive telecoms data (following a trip to France, it was determined that such a move was against the constitution and the law); the second is the own against the government and Syria after the president rejected the opposition's memo in this regard.
In a noteworthy development, the judicial committee tasked with reviewing requests to obtain telecoms data has decided to prevent any complete delivery of the data to security agencies starting Tuesday. The decision limits data by time and place related to the crime. According to judicial sources, the decision comes as a result of the trip to France by the Lebanese judicial delegation and its discussion with French officials on how to deal with such a matter constitutionally and legally. The delegation returned to Beirut with a summary stipulating that giving out all the data is against the constitution and the law in Lebanon and France alike and that the data should be limited to certain investigative purposes to protect personal freedoms.
The committee will announce the decision Tuesday. It is expected to stir political dispute, especially as officials have been saying that the decision will be announced after Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Lebanon.