News from Beirut January 8  1997  .......Search

Cabinet meeting today is on hold

Lebanon cabinet will not meet today. Mr Hariri said Jan 7 the reason is the preoccupation of P.Hrawi, him and five other ministers who are preparing for a meeting of the Lebanese Syrian Coordination Committee on Jan 11 in Damascus.

Cancellation of the meeting and the given reason is not reasonable here because issues such as situation in south, Hariri-Chirac talks in Paris and latest security dragnet should have urged a meeting. Real reason is likely to be the showdown between the prime minister and army command over promotion of eight colonels. The cancellation or hold on is a bid to overt a potential division during the cabinet meeting between Hariri allies and others. The showdown has emerged by the new year and both sides show no readiness to concede .

Some circles see it as stars war. Mr Hariri quoted saying the army command defiance to the political authority is unacceptable. Army command in an internal circular authorized eight colonels to go a head and wear brigadier stars, despite the fact that prime minister did not sign relevant promotion decree . Hariri quoted saying army command is imposing promotions as a do facto.

The promotions were pending since july last year and due to come into effect on Jan 1. Mr Hariri refrained to comment Jan 7 and said there are rather more important issues to speak about, but he said promotion issue is now in the hands of the Shura Council and he did not want to make premature judgment, the Shura Council was petitioned by eight officers who are going to be promoted after it become clear that Mr Hariri will veto, namely promotion Jamil Es Sayed, deputy director of military intelligence, the Shura decision is likely to be taken in two weeks and possibly in favor of  promotion. The Question now is whether Mr. Hariri will loose the battle which emerged at a bad timing, or the showdown will  be settled compromisingly as usual. The Lebanese Troika including three presidents will meet all together today. Mr. Hariri conferred separately with president and the speaker who, so far, are standing in the middle and not siding with any of the parties of the "Stars War".  The army command says the promotion decree was on hold for only political reasons.

Hariri-Jumblat, normalization of relations

Prime minister Rafic Hariri received Jan 7 minister of displaced affairs Mr. Walid Jumblat, who for months was sharply critical to his old ally Hariri. Among many issues that prompted Jumblat's campaign was the composition of new government, Mr. Hariri social policy and huge reconstruction plan, also blocking money allocated to the displaced fund. Hariri circles say its a beginning of the normalization of relations. Mr Jumblat made no comment.

Foreign minister Boueiz to Damascus

Foreign minister Fares Boueiz is due to leave today to Damascus to meet his Syrian counterpart and V.P Abdel Halim Khaddam. They will confer over local and regional issues and the Israeli stands toward the peace process with its impacts on the situation in south Lebanon, also the impacts on security situation following Tabarja and Damascus security incidents.

Mr. Boueiz, at a new year reception to diplomatic corps in Beirut, said Middle East conflict would have global implications. He said the world peace in this volatile region was almost attainable until a new Israeli government came in with 4 big No's, by that Israel plunged the region and itself in a vicious circle and total deadlock.

French ambassador here described the situation in the south as most delicate and crucial since last April, namely the past two weeks confrontations there . He denied France has proposed a halt on the resistance. Which has the right as long the occupation continue. He also said the proposal to deploy international forces in the south is not subject to any negotiations unless in a framework of an all over solution, and after the prior approval of  Lebanon of any arrangement.

Interior minister and human rights

Interior minister Michel Murr said Jan 7 he will review the status of the human rights organizations here, after Arab interior ministers conference agreed that some of those groups allegedly seek to cripple work of security agencies in countries where they operate. He asked the department concerned at his ministry to provide him files of those organizations. He emphasised that the legitimate security forces are who rescued the Lebanese from the militias. Mr. Murr said investigations over Tabarja incident are going on after all arrested people released. He also said that an analysis of security incidents in Lebanon and Syria in recent weeks would reveal the grave danger posed by Israel's attempts to sabotage peace, through its agents who hide behind political, social and economic demands. He denied he meant the Labor Union in this context. He denied allegations over torture or ill- treatment of the detainees.

P. Hrawi views on arrests and other issues.

P. Hrawi, speaking Jan 7 to press syndicate, quoted saying not all arrests are free of irregularities but he justified arrests because of Zionist plot to destabilize the region. Head of the syndicate M. Baalbaki quoted Hrawi saying arrests and questioning could have been carried with fewer mistakes, and the judicial proceedings could have taken place within legal time limits, but security forces have the responsibility to remain constantly vigilant to avoid all dangers. P. Hrawi also quoted saying it is becoming clear that most of the incidents are connected to a Zionist plot to create unrest in Lebanon. The issue of peace is not complicated but the complications are what Israel wants, especially the proposal of  Lebanon First.

P. Hrawi quoted saying he denies his intention to distract from the role of  religious adjudications when he proposed amendment of  Personal status law.

P. Hrawi received Jan 7 Druze Sheikh Akl and Maronite Bishop Abu Jawdeh. News in Beirut said security agencies are now interrogating some 100 persons suspected to have links with an Israeli spying network, with branches in Lebanon and Syria. The network could be responsible of  latest security incidents. Those interrogated are resident of west Beirut and its suburbs.

Miscellaneous ...


Homentmen against Hikme 2-0

Akhaa against Tadamoun 1-0

Homenmen against Shabab Sahel  2-0

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