News from Beirut May 14  1997 ...Search

-Lebanon-Pope, Report on Assassination Attempt

Revealing interpol cables on the alleged assassination attempt on his pontiff May 13 evoked wide reactions, argument, dismay, and casted doubts. The Vatican declined to comment on the news coming from Beirut.

Vatican Spokesman Navaro quoted saying " the rule in practice in the Vatican is not to make any comment on news concerning security whether true or not". Lebanese political circles said the circulation and exaggeration of the news on the alleged conspiracy is merely aiming to cast doubts on the positive results of the visit and also the merit of the apostolic guidance. Lebanese security sources see it an attempt to sabotage the image of the security agencies and discredit it.

Italian responsible sources said the information were not confirmed and similar warnings had been frequently received by the Vatican before his pontiff each move or trip. UNIFIL unnamed sources said the interpol frequently sends such warnings to the concerned circles in the countries classified "tensed" before each visit. The sources added that the "incoming information on the assassination on verge of the visit, aimed at foiling the visit, and perhaps certain agencies in a world great country was behind the news, in cooperation with regional agencies that is hostile to Lebanon".

-The UNIFIL sources stated that the Italian intelligence was mobilized all the time to ensure security of the Pope, and if these information were true or accurate, it could have taken different measures, or at least Italy could have dispatched frigates to the Lebanese coast off the site of the mass or sent more military aircrafts to escort the Pope's moves.

-Italian press sources regretted the row which went in time with the news on conspiracy, and hinted to a report in the Italian daily Journal. The paper report said "the Lebanese police and the military MP are not taking serious the security information, and the version on the assassination conspiracy by using missiles was doubted in Beirut. The daily's correspondent in Beirut said the capital has been placed under protection of some 20,000 soldier of the Lebanese army backed by 35,000 Syrians. Italian official sources said such warnings on assassination attempts against his pontiff had never stopped. The last was a top secret report published by the daily Journal saying "a suicide group close to the Muslim fundamentalists composed of 18 terrorists, some will come from Bosnia, others from Turkey and Iran, are to enter Rome airport on April 16-18 to assassinate the Pope.

The report mentioned that the Kurdish Ahmad Tansou is leading the group. The story said they were going to meet at Hilton-Rome and their target was killing his pontiff using a booby trapped diplomatic car bomb which was going to be parked at St. Peter square. The story went on saying if the operation failed, they were going to blow McDonald-Rome, or a night club, or Milano Cathedral. The paper's report ended with the conclusion that no explosion took place neither any of the prementioned was arrested.

- Cardinal Ashili Silvestrini quoted by the same paper saying "The Hizbullah are peaceful like monks. I think his pontiff's protection stems from his own image. As to the Hizbullah men, I had the chance to know them in person, and their welcome to me was warm and heartily, furthermore, they are committed to the good of peace and helping the poor. They are similar to the Franciscans of the catholic church'".

- President Elias Hrawi quoted extremely dismayed of talking on the assassination that way. he said "the issue was not that size, it was merely a notice sent to a security agency and proved to be forged. Raising the issue this far has been harmful to the success of the visit".

- Sources close to prime minister Hariri quoted him saying "the target of such rumors was to blow at the successes of the visit, and if we had to believe all the rumors, none of the officials would go out of his home". Government sources wondered how details of the alleged conspiracy could have been circulated again on May 13, through the interior ministry statement, as if it is supporting the leak of the news. The same sources recalled that in past occasions, such as the recital performed by Fairouz in downtown Beirut, there were spate of warnings and rumors, but it was not given more than it had deserved.

- Lebanese security sources said the target of such rumors is to blow at the credibility of the Lebanese military forces. It said "though it was true receiving some cables but it has never referred to the source and only mentioned it is from the Italian interpol, something which could be easily sent on the internet. The sources added "eventhough, all security measures were taken, and in this regard, the Hizbullah officials have shown full cooperation and abide by the security measures enforced at the southern suburbs, in the vicinity of the airport, and in other Lebanese areas".

-Hizbullah said the entire story was fabricated by the Israeli Mossad intelligence aiming to disturb Lebanon and the Lebanese as result of the welcome to the Pope by residents of the southern suburbs. Hizbullah statement May 13 said "the reference to certain areas, in the framework of telling the story of the assassination attempt, was harmful to these areas and to Lebanon, as the apparent target to undermine the security success of the visit, something the Mossad could not be able to sabotage".

- Islamic Jihad official Ramadan Abdallah declared saying "the only party annoyed of the visit is Israel. he condemned involving his group in such conspiracy, if it exists, stressing the point that the group had never ever raised arms against other than the only and sole enemy which is Israel.

- Hamas group in a statement issued May 13 denied the allegations saying it was a participant in the conspiracy to assassinate the Pope. The statement said Zionist parties not else are behind the rumors, as its the only one beneficent of casting doubts, tensing relations, and undermining the peace drive in Lebanon.

- One of Lebanon leading dailies today questioned the assignation conspiracy against the Pope or the apostolic guidance.

Sojod War-Operation, the timing and significance

- The Islamic resistance overrun of Sojod outpost Monday continues to be controversial between Israel and SLA on one hand and the resistance on other. Mortar shells fell Tuesday morning in the vicinity of the post drawing retaliatory artillery duels. A resistance group attacked Tuesday an SLA patrol near the post, apparently trying to pull out the body of one of the martyrs died Monday. The SLA radio Voice of South said the Israeli commander of the liaison unit Gen. Emitai checked the post of Sojod and congratulated soldiers there who repelled back Monday attack. he said four groups attacked the post with 10 men in each group. He claimed the soldiers repelled back the attack and could kill commander of the attacking force.

SLA commander Antoine Lahd checked the scene of the offense. SLA claimed it has found three bodies in the battleground including one hit directly. Lahd denied allegations of Hizbullah S.G who claimed the SLA is fragmented and deserting and emigrating to Europe and America. he said the SLA soldiers now totalling 3,000 represents 3,000 family and it is impossible for those families to quit their land and belongings under any threat. Hizbullah reacted to claims by Lahd and Emitai, who said the resistance men could not invade the post and instead raised their banners in a near place, saying the T.V screen will provide the evidence and proof on the resistance credible reports. Hizbullah said the video tape on the Sojod operation, including photos from inside the post and its fortifications also the banners of resistance, will reveal the truth on the operation. The party assured that one not four resistance man martyred and he is commander of the offense Hussein Nasser. Hizbullah deputy S.G Sheikh Naim Kassem said the Sojod operation is the resistance response to the claims of Emitai on supplying the SLA with sophisticated weapons. He said the Israeli claim of rebuilding the force and its equipment is not anyway equal to the spirit planted in hearts of the mujahideen.

Parliament speaker Nabih Berri.

Addressing the Arab Parliamentary Union's conference now held in Cairo May 13, speaker Nabih Berri said the peace in the ME is almost impossible and Lebanon and Syria  must get ready to the worst that could take place. He told the conference a cold war is now staged at the Arab countries and almost everyone regards the Arab world the patient man, who the entire world is wishing his fast rapid death in order to split his fortune, or force him to go in dormancy so that his fortune can be looted. Mr. Berri speech before the conference was described as the "most strongly worded". He assailed the Arab disagreements which allowed authority malpractice.

News Summary

- Prime minister Rafic Hariri left to South Korea May 13 heading a delegation of Lebanese officials in a three day official visit that will center on economical issues. Lebanese imports from S.Korea amounted $134mn last year compared to exports totaling only $2.3mn.

- News today said the Pope has done to the Lebanese Christians what he did not do to any other group, and the Lebanese state, Syria, and the church are before the challenge of the aftermath of the visit. It also said "The Pope has charged patriarch Sfair the mission to guide Christians on the way of the guidance so that all can go out of war and extremism to peace, dialogue, and democracy ". Analysts say the apostolic guidance has been issued by the Pope in his capacity as head of state, and the synod has been issued  by heads of the churches. Welcoming the outcome of the visit now comes after the early welcome of the visit itself. Lebanese politicians and dignitaries say the challenge of the apostolic guidance is a responsibility of both the Muslims and Christians.

-New scale of salaries for the public sector is under discussion according to minister of administrative reform Beshara Merhej.

- The Constitutional Council is still awaiting recovery of two ill members. 7 members only could attend May 13 session but not enough for the quorum of eight.

- Foreign minister Fares Boueiz, now visiting Rumania is expected to leave the town of Constanza to Bucharest to start talks with Rumanian officials. Boueiz said in Constanza there are similarities between the town and Beirut, with both having sea outlets and a crossway for cultures and trade. He also said there are similarities between Lebanese and Rumanian peoples as both keen to maintain freedom and resist all barricades facing them.

-Hrawi, Hariri, and Berri popularity are almost close according to a recent poll conducted in Beirut and Tripoli. MP Najah Wakim was chosen as best opposition MP, seconded by Selim Hoss, and Butros Harb third. Wakim was also chosen as most credible and honest politician second to Hariri and Hoss who were equal.

-Lebanese columnist at a seminar at Saydet Loueize university said the Pope visit to Lebanon could turn patriarch Sfair to a first Christian leader both politically and religiously.

-Patriarch Sfair received May 13 ambassador of Germany, a Jordanian diplomat who came to extend congratulation on the visit of the Pope, a delegation representing the National Bloc, MP Butros Harb, and others. The German ambassador praised the patriarch's stands and national convictions, expecting the Pope's remarks to be heard and sounding everywhere.

-The world media wide coverage of his pontiff's visit to Lebanon is reproduced now in Lebanon's dailies. Articles published on May 10-11 in prominent dailies such as Herald Tribune, Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Liberation, included interviews with Patriarch Sfair and analysis on the Christian situation in Lebanon. Patriarch Sfair quoted telling Le Monde "The Pope is not exercising a political role".

-The Islamic Supreme Shari Council under Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani said after a meeting May 13 "we do not accept the claim that among the Lebanese people there are marginalized, weak or weakened, or someone who is worry on the future and destiny, because our country is incomplete without solidarity of citizens". The council said Lebanon is constantly in need for developing the political practice, the legislatures, and economical methods.

- Head of Lebanon Journalists Association Mohammed Baalbaki said in a note to information minister Bassem Sabbaa many newspapers are published without license, many other publications licensed though not published, and some nonpolitical publications publish political article. Baalbaki urged the ministry to take the legal measures to adjust the conduct of Lebanese press. The information ministry asked various publications in pursuant to abide by the law in effect otherwise legal actions will be taken.

- The file of emigrants attaches at the Lebanese missions abroad, now pending because of disagreements among officials, is to be placed over the government next meeting. The Lebanese foreign ministry opposed appointment of the 22 attaches and consequently assuming their posts. News report said minister fares Boueiz agreed to 10 attaches only.

- First lady Mona Hrawi met a delegation representing parents of the Lebanese kidnapped. She listened to the burdens and sufferings of the parents who are waiting since 7 years, since the military operations were put off, to know whereabouts of their beloved. The parents asked lady Hrawi to reveal fate of their kidnapped, even if it would be painful, to review laws regarding their civil status and proof of death with its legal effects, and to deal with parents of the kidnapped same as the dealing with families of  those detained by Israel and who receive allowances.

-Palestinian DFLP and PFLP called in joint statement the Palestinians in Lebanon for a strike on May 15th in the occasion of the 49th year occupation of Palestine.

-Last day of Ashoura mourning 10 days is Friday which is a national day off.

-British ambassador in Lebanon in a visit to Tripoli said the apostolic guidance includes much of the good advises and wise thoughts for the Lebanese society. He called for a self restraint in south Lebanon.

Sports Round Up

-9th Asian volleyball Clubs Championship in its second day at Ghazir club marked victory of the Saudi Hilal, Japanese Nippon, and S.Korean Samsung. The Saudi Hilal , leading the Arab clubs, defeated Lebanese Shabiba Bushrieh with 3-0. The S.Korean Samsung hardly defeated the Iranian Baikan after an hour and half game with 3-0.The Japanese Nippon Steel won Lebanese Ghazir with 3-0.

- Today's games include Hilal-S.A against Japanese Nippon Steel, Iranian Baikan against Shabiba Bushrieh-Lebanon, and Samsung Fire against Ghazir -Lebanon.

- President Elias Hrawi received Saudi prince Khaled Ben Talal who heads the Saudi Volleyball union, in presence of the Saudi ambassador, and Lebanese union's head.

Portemilio Suite Hotel   The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon

 Chateau Kefraya

email us for more details ...

More news from International Agencies

[ Weekly Business Reports ]

Back to Local News Wire

© 1995-1997 Interactive- USA ,
All Rights Reserved.

For any comments or questions please e-mail