Following are summaries of some of the main stories in a selection of Lebanese newspapers Wednesday. The Daily Star cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports.
Clashes between Lebanese Army, Free Syrian Army on outskirts of Arsal
As security concerns return to the forefront, parliamentary committees launch an election law workshop Wednesday against the backdrop of disputes between the March 8 and March 14 blocs.
On the other hand, the Future parliamentary bloc revoked a decision to boycott the National Dialogue and decided to the take part in Thursday’s session.
Clashes resumed on the Lebanese-Syrian border, as did kidnappings [elsewhere]. As part of his follow-up efforts regarding security issues, President Michel Sleiman announced the creation of a joint task force drawn from the security services and the Lebanese Army to seek information regarding the whereabouts of the kidnapped in order to carry out raids, liberate the hostages and arrest the perpetrators whatever the difficulties and costs.
In a significant security development, military sources revealed that a clash took place on the outskirts of Arsal on Sunday between a Lebanese Army patrol and Syrian opposition gunmen.
The sources told Al-Akhbar that the Lebanese Army patrol encountered more than 100 militants crossing into Syria. A clash ensued between the two sides, the sources added.
March 14 likely to participate in National Dialogue for Sleiman’s sake ... Aoun has not heard of Jaafari or seen Revolutionary Guards
Lebanon hostage of pay scale ... and kidnappings
Lebanon seemed hostage yesterday to two critical issues against the backdrop of armed clashes in Saadiyat and Jiyyeh in which Hezbollah emerged as a hero.
The first issue is kidnappings, which affects citizens across Lebanon, with the kidnappers seeking to receive huge sums of money. The second issue is the economic bodies’ warning of a disaster looming on the economic horizon should the government approve a pay scale [for public employees].
Meanwhile, MP Michel Aoun emerged Tuesday in defense of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Commenting on a statement regarding the presence of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon and Syria, Aoun said: "Sometimes they publish articles to distract the people like the one on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards .... If there are elements of these Guards [in Lebanon], show us.”
Addressing the Lebanese, Aoun asked: “Have any of you ever seen Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon?”
“Who is [head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Mohammad Ali] Jaafari? I don’t know him.”
Telecoms data ‘out of service’ starting today?
Government finds its way around pay scale, budget with ‘theoretical’ resources
The financial issue remained the government's top concern. The Cabinet made headway Tuesday toward securing the "theoretical resources" to fund both the salary scale and the budget.
Outside the Grand Serail, the issue of the electoral law imposed itself on political life, with intense debates around it on the eve of parliamentary committee meetings to discuss the hot-button subject.
As-Safir has learned in this regard that Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri informed his deputy Farid Makari during a meeting yesterday of the need to direct the debate during committee meetings toward crystallizing two points: firstly, determining the nature of the electoral system (a majority or proportional representation); and secondly, determining the size of the constituencies (small, medium or large) so that voting can place on the best formula should a consensus fail to be attained.
Government procrastinates, in search of funding, [while] Sleiman’s strategy focuses on Lebanese Army
Cabinet continued discussing ways to finance a salary scale and resources to cover the 2013 state budget spending.
The government discussed in a meeting held at the Grand Serail Tuesday afternoon the 33-item tax proposal basket suggested by Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi in addition to the proposals from other ministers.
The Council of Ministers agreed on a large section of these proposals without making a final decision, pending discussion of a finalized version of Safadi’s plan in a Cabinet session after the return of President Sleiman and Prime Minister Najib Mikati from a trip abroad.
Hours before a National Dialogue session Thursday, Al-Joumhouria has learned that Sleiman’s [approach] focuses on a defense strategy that allows the Lebanese Army to have the authority over the three-way equation “the army, people and resistance.”
It calls on placing the skills of the resistance at the disposal of the Lebanese Army in the context of a strategy that would determine the use of resistance weapons in a legal framework that preserves Lebanon’s integrity and power.