News from Beirut June 5  1997 ...Search

Syria-Lebanon- Visit and Conciliation

- Syrian V.P Abdel Halim Khaddam, foreign minister Farouk Sharaa, and Brig. Ghazi Kanaan are hosted to a dinner this evening at 8.00 p.m. at Baabda palace upon invitation from president Hrawi. Speaker Nabih Berri is to attend the dinner, ending a long boycott and signaling conciliation with the president who invited him to dinner on phone.

The Syrian officials arrived 10.00 am and were received at Masnaa by prime minister and foreign minister, afterwhich they headed directly to Baabda palace. The visit included a meeting with house speaker Nabih Berri, another meeting with prime minister Hariri, a tour on Beirut reconstruction projects. Mr. Khaddam responding to reporters said the Arab cooperation is now at a very good stage and promising future. He said the Arab joint action is at a good and comfortable stage and promising optimism. Mr. Khaddam said the Israeli policy closed the door for peace and unless Israel drastically change that policy one cannot expect a breakthrough. Khaddam said the Israeli-Turkish partnership aimed against all the Arabs. On Bkerke-Syria dialogue, he said " Syria is interested to have good relations with all Lebanon's civic and religious sides but its not a matter of having dialogue with this or that authority". Mr. Khaddam argued with who and on what that dialogue is to take place. He said Syria deals with Lebanon as a state, and its relation is state to state. Khaddam said Syria deals with the state of Lebanon, the state which made major achievements. Asked on his effort to concile president Hrawi and speaker Berri, Khaddam denied any distance between Baabda and Ain Tineh, and denied any disagreements between the two.

GLC Affair

- Arrest of labor union leading figures Elias abu Rizk and Yasser Neemeh is still the top story in Lebanon. The former GLC secretary general Yasser Neemeh has been released before midnight yesterday, in an unprecedented and unexpected move, and Elias abu Rizk has been discharged of the case of circulating false news but was returned to his hospital- prison for the charge of claiming the title of GLC leader. However, the case is still open. Both were charged of circulating false news abroad that damage state reputation and image. The release came as a dramatic development after series of political conflicting wills that reflected on the judicial authority. Lebanese officials stressed the point that the case is up to the judiciary, but the reality is that the case went far beyond syndicate and judicial frameworks and turned to be one of the major political issues.

Before the release of Neemeh, observers here argued why the case of Abu Rizk and his colleagues is maximized, since the broadening of legal suites is faced by mounting protests, that would go far than words statements to strikes and even demonstrations.

-Morning press reports said the arrest of Neemeh, after Abu Rizk, stemmed a plan that aimed to uproot all forms of political and syndicate actions, and wane down the dream of living in a political democratic institutions system. "Who is responsible of injecting Lebanon internal situation with such action and reaction cycle, and for what purpose", argued a leading report. Lebanon judiciary could rescue itself of this conflict with the least damage pursuing its legal procedures toward the cases placed over, leaving politicians to continue conflicting each other out of their zone. General prosecutor Adnan Addoum ordered release of Neemeh after being confirmed of his health situation and after Neemeh insisted he won't go to the hospital. Neemeh, after his release, urged all parties to double their efforts in order to release Abu Rizk.

-Prime minister Rafic Hariri expressed dissatisfaction of the arrest of Yasser Neemeh. He said "Neemeh is my colleague and even my manager in the magazine "Al Hurriya", and I can't be behind his arrest". Neemeh himself declared after his release that the release was "a precedent in the judicial and political detention history. Neemeh's arrest could have evoked a one day strike of the Lebanese press and printing labors, recalled that he is the general manager of the daily As Safir.

- Press reports this morning said many of the GLC Abu Rizk faction would stand for investigations, the names include Elias el Habre who actually was investigated today, also Abdel Amir Najdeh and George Berberi, who are representing their faction at Geneva conference of the WLO. In the meantime, the GLC split is widening. Five of eight members of north Lebanon union shifted to Abu Rizk faction. In Geneva, while the government recognized faction of Ghoneim Zoghbi declared they were recognized by the WLO, Abu Rizk faction's delegates rushed overnight to deny that. However, the aggravating crisis and its now broadened framework might lead to settlement that not only will resolve the judicial suites but may also help resolve the entire labor movement problem and put end to the double dual representation.

- Earlier to the release today, a follow up committee of the Coral beach meeting called for strikes and demonstrations allover Lebanon, also prepared for a schedule of rallies and meetings which were supposed to be announced today.

President Hrawi- Tufeili here and Tufeili There

- President Elias Hrawi, speaking at the opening of the government session June 4 and prior to visit today by Syrian V.P Abdel Halim Khaddam and foreign minister Farouk Sharaa, surprisingly said "too much extreme surmount of freedom limit would lead to anarchy, chaos, and consequently dictatorship". He went on saying "what you hear is the same I hear, and what you read is the same I read, on Tufeili here and another Tufeili there threatening to assault the state security and safety of citizens also threats Lebanon's interests and its relations with friendly countries".

President Hrawi was quoted saying that weapons are supplied to "well known parties in Bekaa". He was referring to sheikh Subhi Tufeili who is threatening to stage civil rebellion in the Bekaa region. Hrawi was also referring to a press conference held at Beirut suburbs by the Kurdish PKK military official threatening to strike at US and Turkish interests. He also said that the Lebanese government has specified its stand toward the Turkish-Israeli security coordination and the Turkish aggression against Iraq, but " that doesn't mean the door is open to anyone or any party to behave on his own. He called the concerned ministries, the judiciary, and security agencies, to take the necessary measures in that regard. The president said the country is facing an occupation of its land something posing real challenges, and it is needless to reaffirm our support to the resistance, but there shouldn't be, under any claim or pretext, a call to resist the state by someone who threats also to resume sort of security loose control which had been exercised earlier before.

- Sheikh Subhi Tufeili, preparing for 4th July sit in and civil rebellion, is now moving to the southern suburbs of Beirut. He addressed June 4 a massive crowd at Hey Selloum Husseiniah. He said the garbage nearby incinerator at Amrousieh is making life intolerable and difficult as bad smell covers the whole area, while the government continue its unfair policy and tyranny. He said " we won't accept anymore our quarters to remain poor and neglected". Asked on the 4th July move, he said "either they treat the people's concerns or we shall continue the drive, and they know I am not joking". Tufeili is to hold another meeting at Jnah religious center. In an address in Baalbek, he said he wished the Hizbullah could, after five years dialogue, join him to defend the bread of the people. He said Hizbullah and the resistance are not a sort of company so that we can split because, and the resistance is "my own effort for 30 consecutive years", so "I should not allow myself or the others to touch it". Tufeili also said "we should not place ourselves between hunger and Hizbullah as we are with resisting the occupation and resisting deprive".

Government Session, Decisions

- Additional of the 65 topic agenda, the government settled the case of emigrants attaches by approving issue of diplomatic passports for them despite the objection of foreign minister fares Boueiz. The government formed a ministerial committee under Premier Hariri to lay down proposals on a new election law. Another committee was formed to review the law concerning establishment of the general board of civil aviation. Appointment of the Lebanese university faculty deans was postponed until Monday extra session which will study several topics.

Parliament-Turkish-Israeli Alliance

- Lebanon parliament's foreign relation committee denounced at its meeting yesterday the Turkish-Israeli alliance and turkey's aggression against north Iraq. It recommended all Arab countries including Lebanon to sever economical relation with Turkey. The committee said Lebanon is importing a yearly est. $200mn worth of goods from Turkey which only imports $10-12mn from Lebanon. The committee also called for an Arab economical conference to face the global economical blocs, and recommended denunciation of US patronage of this alliance, which contradicts with Madrid conference principles and USA sponsorship of the peace process.

Lebanon-USA, Economy and Ban

- While an American diplomat says Lebanon prevailing situation does not justify the US travel ban, The USA review of the ban end of July would be the first chance for Mrs. Albright to deal with the Lebanese file. She had never made any comment on Lebanon since assuming her post. The US laws do not permit partial lift of the ban, especially for American businessmen wishing to visit Beirut for commercial and economical purposes. Special lift of the ban includes only some humanitarian cases or press missions. Some US nationals participated recently in a conference in Beirut on financial capitals markets. The financial expert Paul Yuing participation was approved by the state department which see that he would help Lebanon rehabilitate its financial markets. Another US national James Stevenson of the USAID is now visiting Beirut in order to lay down basis of the "Securities Exchange Commission"".

- Lebanon ambassador to the USA is due to leave tomorrow to assume his post in Washington. The ambassador Mohammed Shatah is before delicate, multiple, and complicated files including the travel ban, regenerating bilateral relations, the 425 resolution and the peace tracks etc. Diplomatic view in Beirut says that the USA backed "Friends of Lebanon Conference" was in fact futile, and had aimed only to halt France attempt to widen its sphere of influence, following its significant role in the April cease-fire and the monitoring panel, also aimed to encourage Hariri adventure of reconstruction. As to the successful visit of his pontiff to Lebanon, the USA would have regarded it a challenge to its slogan on unsecured Lebanon.

Monitoring Committee, Lebanon's Complaint

- Lebanon lodged yesterday another complaint to the cease-fire monitoring committee and asked the panel to convene to examine explosion of four blasts on Zillaya-west Bekaa main road amid the killing of one Lebanese civilian and wounding two others. Lebanon accused Israel of planting the blasts and consider it violation of the cease-fire.

National Conscription-Stagnation

- House speaker Nabih Berri told his visitors he is against cancellation of the military service and against exemptions. A draft bill on exempting those born in 1975 and backward is still pending and now under discussion at the concerned parliament committee. Prime minister Rafic Hariri is supporting the bill and in contrast with the speaker. The national conscription which started four years ago Aug. 1993 is now facing conflicting official views. Five parliament MPs proposed cancellation of the entire conscription. They advocated their suggestion saying the concept of national conscription in other countries aim at forming a specialized elite unit with high combat potentiality and put in reserve until the time its needed, that practice is in the direction to minimize number of the armed forces and consequently its expenses. The MPs argue that the concept in Lebanon is short of specifying the national defense plan which could translate the feasibility of the youths military training. They also argue if the purpose of the service in Lebanon is to help national merger, the objective has not yet been accomplished, and instead there should be another method to adopt, including either education relevant adequate programs, or enhancement of the volunteering for civil service. The army command, which was not invited to parliament defense committee meeting Monday, maintains silence. The command argue that the national conscription "builds the new generations", and among the other advantages are saving enormous amount of money totaling L.L160bn yearly, which are the difference between regulars and conscripts salaries and social allowances.

-  PSP party official under minister Walid Jumblat praised the Lebanese army command aimed at consolidating the national commitment and Arab affiliation inside the army institute and among its soldiers and units.

News In Brief

- Sayed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, commenting on Sierraleone coup and outcomes, said much many of the African security and military agencies are loyal to Israel. He did not exclude the possibility that the Israeli plan is to force the Lebanese out of Africa because they represent the most economical successful community. Sayed Fadlallah said the earlier events in Zaire, Rowanda, Liberia and lately Nigeria and now in Sierraleone is sort of European-American conflict and among the leading Europeans is France. He said America is planning to control the entire Africa which is the continent of huge natural resources which were not taken out. He concluded that Israel is moving parallel to America in order to have its share, and entered Africa where it had trained much of its security and military agencies.

- Evacuation of the Lebanese community in Sierraleone continues today with fourth batch is due to arrive today from Konakri on board of the MEA jumbo 747. Around 500 Lebanese were on the plane. they were reported exhausted due to long journey from Freetown via sea to Konakri and by air to Beirut. News reports said 400 out of 2,500 Lebanese community in Freetown still staying there. a fifth batch of evacuees are expected to arrive later. A delegation representing the Lebanese community in Freetown met today the leader of the coup who pledged to safeguard the Lebanese community and its interests.

- The Islamic resistance announced its fighters launched five operations against the Israeli occupation and the SLA. The Islamic resistance announced martyrdom of one of its fighters. Security reports said one SLA man killed and 2 others wounded in June 4 operations.

- CNN office manager in Beirut visited minister of education Jean Obeid.

- More rallies in support to Syria against the USA-Israel-Turkey alliance are held in Beirut and other regions.

- The Ambassador of Japan in Lebanon, after a meeting yesterday with the foreign ministry S.G Zafer el Hassan, said the Japanese technical team who visited Lebanon recently have a good impression on Lebanon's security situation. He said the team's one week mission was to examine restoration of security here, before Japanese experts could come in future and cooperate with Lebanon in the technical and economical fields. responding to reporters on a visit by prime minister Hariri to Tokyo, he said Mr. Hariri visited Tokyo last year and he is interested of an official visit to Japan, we are working on it, but it is not definite yet. On the extradition of Japanese Red Army Five, he said their trial will begin 9th June and it won't finish in one day.

- By elections to fill the four vacant seats of the constituencies of north, Bekaa, and Byblos caza is underway. 8 candidates have already submitted their papers and paid the charge. The deadline is June 13.

Sports Round Up

- The Arab 8th sports tournament's organizing high committee introduced at a press conference June 4 the schedule of preparations and activities. The committee press conference under education minister Jean Obeid, was attended by local and foreign pressmen, Lebanese sports unions, and two Lebanese Olympic champions Mohammed Traboulsi and Hassan Beshara. Minister Obeid said the tournament is the start of Lebanon golden times which will enhance Arab brotherhood. He called all Lebanese, including unions, press, and public to mobilize to help their country face the challenge. Future television official portrayed the coverage plan and said the station has mobilized 300 staff member to prepare for the major event.

- Majida Roumi visited the newly constructed sport city and expressed admiration of the new facility. She is the first artist to visit the city.

- Nijmeh information adviser affirmed that the team will definitely participate in the spring tournament organized by Al Ahli-Sidon contrary to all other news. Nijmeh called its fans to contribute and lend success to the Al Ahli tournament.

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