News from Beirut August 12 1997 ...Search

Pull Back From East Sidon's Villages

-The Lebanese authority is evaluating backgrounds and motives of the sudden Israeli and SLA pull back today from seven villages at east of Sidon namely Saidoun. The Lebanese officials today assured that the Lebanese citizens in the region will be under their national legitimate authority's security and safety. They examined the move in order to avert an Israeli trap. The AMAL movement confirmed the pull back from the seven villages. Hizbullah statement today said any pull out from any inch of the national land is a victory to the mujahideen and there is no reason to fear any consequences on the residents of the area who instead should be happy and enjoy their coming back to the mother homeland. Jezzine MP Suleiman Kanaan has revealed the news today and report it to the house speaker and other officials.

Lebanese Army Smooth Deployment In Baalbek and Southern Suburbs

-Units estimated by one brigade of the Lebanese army that is around 1,500 and around 350 gendarmerie force from the ISF started to deploy as of this morning at Baalbek to enforce the security measures that were decided earlier by the government. The deployment of both the army units and the ISF force were smooth and calm without reporting any objection or resentment. The government measures were given the motto of tightening security, clamp down on calls for disobedience and revolutions, and stabilize security and order at a time the regional situation is at a crucial phase. Premier Hariri has declared Saturday after a meeting with president Assad that the security measures which were decided by his government will be enforced according to the legal rules. Leading reports today said the move was preceded by series of contacts that included among others sheikh Subhi Tufeili. Mr. Hariri held talks Saturday in Beirut with Hizbullah Mp Mohammed Fneish. The situation is cooling down amid the harsh statements that followed the US lifting of the travel ban and the news on packages and deals behind the lift.

-This evening, interior minister Michel Murr denied any contacts with those who have called for disobedience and hunger revolutions. He said the army units and the ISF force are enforcing the decision of the political authority and have no other authority than the political authority to consult with. He denied the repeated linkage between the lifting of the US travel ban and other issues, including the discussion today by a parliamentary committee on the formation of a high board for civil aviation that will unify the security authority in the airport, or the issue of the government security measures, or the treaty on the hostage taking.

-Sheikh Subhi Tufeili at a press conference he held today at his house 50 meters from the army unit that was patrolling Baalbek-Hermel main road welcomed the army deployment in Baalbek. He said he did not halt his hunger revolution but postponed it to give the government a chance to carry on its pledges. He said the army is to support the people's steadfastness against the Israeli enemy. Tufeili said he will announce the formation of the "council of notables" in a short time. He said the army structure and policy today is different than the past times. Tufeili said the security measures are not targeting him and he is not thinking about the judicial warrant to arrest the callers for disobedience.

-The judicial authority issued warrants to investigate and arrest people who called for disobedience and staged rallies and demonstrations violating the law. It is not likely to arrest Tufeili but press reports estimated his loyalists by around 1,000 including some people convicted of certain charges. The evening news said the army and ISF patrols today at Baalbek did arrest many people and raided some villages.

-President Elias Hrawi told his visitors today that the regional situation is very hard but there is no signal on an imminent large scale war. He said consolidating the internal situation and the state institutions is the main task of the security dragnet that is enforced at present. The president said that from his constitutional post he is dealing equally on same foot with all the citizens.

-At Naqoura, the five nations cease-fire monitoring committee resumed today its meeting that has started Sunday and have adjourned midnight yesterday due to exhaustion. The committee is examining 12 complaints filed by Israel and Lebanon. News reports said this time's meeting is the most furious. The Lebanese delegation to the committee meeting, backed by the Syrian delegation, presented tapes and evidences on the Israeli deliberate violation of the cease-fire's understanding, through targeting Lebanese civilians. The Lebanese team presented tape records that proved Israeli orders to its forces in south to strike at civilians. Lebanon demanded a clear condemnation of Israel but Israel said it was not striking at civilians but at the resistance.

-President of Israel yesterday declared that the latest recent events in south Lebanon were not threatening the situation. He said the invitation extended to Israeli Arabs of 1948 to visit Syria was a positive signal. He said reaching rapidly a comprehension with Syria will lead to a solution in south Lebanon. The Israeli minister of tourism, in a response to a question on the possibility of peace with Syria, said Israel has a real desire to reach an agreement with Syria, even if its exclusively on south Lebanon, but the problem is that we have no partner in that matter. He said Syria is not ready to share Israel such agreement, Lebanon is not qualified to bear such responsibility, and for that, Israel finds nothing else than to adopt a way that ensures peace and tranquillity to the people in north Israel, or otherwise to take a unilateral, uncoordinated stand without a settlement with the other parties, and that will pose harm to north Israel. He said Israel prefers not to stay in south and wishes it can pull out of Lebanon and go back to the international borders, since Israel has no territorial claims or ambition in Lebanon, but since there is nobody to reach an agreement or settlement with , there is nothing left except than to keep its forces and the force of the SLA in the security zone, to ensure security for the Galilee population.

-Spokesman for Yasser Arafat Ghassan Kanafani said Arafat felt regret for the campaign against him in Lebanon. Kanafani said Arafat was quoting Israeli sources which conveyed the information on the Jerusalem bombing to the Palestinian security. Kanafani said Arafat did not accuse neither Lebanon nor Hizbullah of the bombing in Jerusalem. The Palestinian senior negotiator Saeb Oraykat said what Arafat has said is that there was a possibility that the bombers came from outside, and that meant 187 state, that is the five continents. Lebanon's prime minister Rafik Hariri in an interview with Le Monde said Arafat was trying to involve Lebanon in the bombing in Jerusalem by saying the bombers came from outside.

-House speaker Nabih Berri speaking to 300 Lebanese immigrant youths in presence of the immigration and education ministers said Lebanon should review its policy toward the US. He said the US policy toward Lebanon and the region is an implementation of an Israeli policy. He addressed the immigrant youths saying the Lebanese overseas are an empire and called for the formation of a Lebanese pressing lobby. The speaker said confessionalism in the country is a calamity but existence of confessions is a blessing. He admitted that confessional and sectarian feelings have been an epidemic in the country and no one else than the immigrants can remedy that cancer in the Lebanese body. Prime minister Hariri addressing the immigrant youths said in case of an Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon the Lebanese army has to fill the vacuum and deploy there, consequently at this stage, Lebanon will be in need of the Syrian forces. He said the Syrian army which came to play a positive role in restoring security in Lebanon and to help to stop the civil war cannot go out and come in whenever it is needed or not.

-The Lebanese government is to discuss at its weekly meeting Wednesday the enforcement of security measures also 25 other different topic. The government is not expected to discuss the issue of religious media stations from out of the agenda. Muslim Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani revealed today that six religious media radio stations will be granted licenses. He denied that licensing the stations will enhance confessionalism and said the religious authorities are guarantor of ethics and patriotism. 11 out of the 25 topics on agenda are related to the ministry of electricity. During the previous cabinet meeting, the electricity minister Elie Hubeika was engaged in a fiery argument with the state minister for finance Fouad Seniora. Seniora pointed out that the outnumbered projects of Hubeika's ministry were exclusively given to only four companies. Hubeika repelled the charge saying it is 74 not 4 companies and Seniora has to apologize to him. Prime minister Hariri's circles said the news reports on a government reshuffle are baseless, ridiculous and not under discussion. The circles said the government continues to work to serve the national interests. It said such news were merely political leaks. Some news reports today said 11 ministers would be replaced.

-Kesrouan MP Rshayd el Khazen at a press conference today revealed that he and foreign minister Fares Boueiz, who is also an MP of Kesrouan, received pledges from prime minister Hariri to implement series of projects in the region. The pledges include Shabrouh dam, establishing five additional public schools in the region, regenerate operations at Jounieh seaport, and treat the Zouk electricity factory pollution's problem and other projects.

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