April 29/14


Bible Quotation for today/‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.
John 20,11-18/: "Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." ’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For April 29/14

Emile Lahoud: Syria’s top man in Lebanon/By Wassim Mroueh /The Daily Star/April 29/14

Syrian presidential election is Assad’s last mission/By: Khairallah Khairallah/Al Arabiya/April 29/14


Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For April 29/14

Lebanese Related News

Presidential vote doomed to fail without consensus

SCC to Hold Another Strike Tuesday as MPs Race to Finish Studying Pay Raise Draft

Civil servants, teachers to hold nationwide strike

55 New Arrest Warrants against Tripoli Fugitives, Including Rifaat and Ali Eid

Salam urges Arab tourists to visit Lebanon

Lahoud: Syria’s top man in Lebanon

Lebanon slipping down Western agendas

Geagea warns March 8 against boycotting election

Two dairy factories closed in east Lebanon

Judge rejects bail for ex-Jumblatt business aide

Nusra Front suspect detained in east Lebanon

bulletLebanon's Arabic press digest - Apr. 28, 2014
March 14 grabs lion’s share of votes in ALI polls
Miscellaneous Reports And News

U.N. nuclear watchdog holds talks in Tehran ahead of May deadline
Syria’s Assad officially submits election bid

U.N. chief "alarmed" by new mass death verdicts in Egypt

Egypt sentences 37 MB supporters to death

Qatar's Al Jazeera files $150 million damages claim with Egypt
U.S., EU impose new Russia sanctions

Russia condemns new U.S. sanctions, says U.S. back in Cold War

Obama announces fresh sanctions on Russia

Iraq attacks kill 27 as security forces vote
Who is Clooney’s fiancée Amal Alamuddin

SCC to Hold Another Strike Tuesday as MPs Race to Finish Studying Pay Raise Draft
NaharnetظThe Syndicate Coordination Committee warned on Monday of a “strong reaction” if the new wage scale was implemented in installments or not according to its conditions, as joint parliamentary committees are racing to finish studying the draft this week. The SCC also announced a general strike on Tuesday in all public administrations, as well as in public and private educational institutions.
“The coalition of decision-makers and finance giants are insisting on not issuing the new wage scale to harm the public sector and to transform the situation in public administration into a state of feudalism,” SCC official Mahmoud Haidar said at a press conference. "Why did the prices go up and are still increasing without any supervision with or without issuing the new wage scale?” Haidar asked.
He continued: “All talks about the state's incapability and about educational institutions actually revising our salaries just distort reality. Private teachers have not been paid what compensates for the increase in prices until now.”He added: “And all talks about reform in administration are not true. We are asking for opening the door of employment and stopping the signing of contracts. The state should also respect the implementation of the Labor Law, the payment of transportation fees, health benefits, and the hourly rate for contract workers.” He stressed that the SCC will not accept to be paid the rights it is demanding “at the expense of the poor or at the expense of students' families.”“We are fighting together to impose taxes on the finance giants,” he stated. Haidar assured that the SCC will not change its stance on raising salaries by 121 percent without any installments, while preserving the retroactive effect. “We announce our total rejection of any formula that is issued by parliamentary committees if it does not take into consideration the 121 percent raise of salaries without any installments, decrease or division. We will not back down regardless of the sacrifices and all formulas suggested are going from bad to worse.”He considered that the pay raise should be financed through imposing taxes on sea-side properties, and through drawing an end to corruption and halting bank interests. Haidar then announced a general strike on Tuesday. “Tomorrow should be a day to strongly respond to issuing the new wage scale and it should reflect the unity of syndicates against those trying to draw a limit to its activities,” he said. “We reiterate our calls for a general strike tomorrow in all public administrations, public and private schools and in vocational institutions. We call for solidarity with the strike and for participating in the protest that will kick off near the Central Bank in Beirut will head towards the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and end at the parliament.”Meanwhile, Head of the private schools teachers association Nehme Mahfoud called on private schools to take part in Tuesday's protest. “Tomorrow there is a general strike, and I tell private school in (the southern city of) Sidon that the strike is for teachers, not for headmasters,” he noted. Addressing lawmakers, he said: “Let them save the country from a social explosion and let them refer a new wage scale that preserves historical rights.”
A ministerial-parliamentary committee is expected to submit its report on the wage hike this week, amid a renewed warning by public sector employees that they would not accept compromises.
The committee was formed after lawmakers failed to approve the draft-law, angering the SCC. It is studying ways to find the appropriate revenues to fund the hike. The SCC is demanding a 121 percent salary raise that would be effective retroactively. It has also rejected proposals for the extra money to be paid in installments. Many MPs and the Economic Committees, a grouping of businessmen and owners of major firms, fear that the pay hike would have a devastating impact on the economy and lead to a depreciation in the Lebanese pound.

55 New Arrest Warrants against Tripoli Fugitives, Including Rifaat and Ali Eid
Naharnet/New arrest warrants were issued on Monday against Arab Democratic Party leader Ali Eid, his son Rifaat and others over their involvement in the 18th round of fighting in the northern city of Tripoli. "First military examining magistrate Judge Nabil Wehbe issued a third in absentia arrest warrant against the party's political relations official Rifaat Eid,” MTV reported.
MTV added that another 53 warrants were also issued, among them one against Ali Eid and 12 against detainees involved in the same 18th round of fighting between the rival neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh last November. These warrants come as army troops and security forces continue the implementation of a security plan in the North and the Bekaa, which resulted in the arrest of dozens of fugitives while many others are still at large, among them Ali and Rifaat Eid. This is the third arrest warrant against Rifaat Eid, whose father Ali is accused of helping fugitives behind the double blast that targeted Tripoli mosques last August escape justice. According to Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi, Rifaat Eid had escaped to Orange County, California, while Interior Minister Nouhad Mashnouq noted the party's chief Ali Eid left Lebanon to Syria.

Geagea warns March 8 against boycotting election
April 28, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea warned Monday against obstructing the presidential election and urged all parties to attend Parliament’s session to vote for a new head of state. “The other side [March 8] is determined to obstruct the session and no side has the right to use the right [to boycott a Parliament session] randomly,” Geagea, a presidential candidate, said speaking from his residence in Maarab. “The white paper [casted by lawmakers in the previous session to elect a president] aimed at obstructing the election in a prelude to boycotting the next round [of voting],” he said. Speaker Nabih Berri has called on Parliament to meet Wednesday to elect a president after no candidate secured the two-thirds majority needed to win during the first round of voting last week. A two-thirds quorum (86) of the legislature’s 128 members is required for any electoral session. Geagea, the first to publicly announce his candidacy, gained 48 out of 124 votes in the first round against 52 blank ballots cast by most of the March 8 coalition’s MPs while one vote went for Kataeb leader Amin Gemayel and 16 went to MP Walid Jumblatt’s candidate MP Henri Helou.
The LF leader criticized the March 8 team for their blank ballots and said such action would be “legitimate only if Lebanon was occupied.” He said that failing to secure a quorum cannot be used as a pretext for obstructing the election. “The quorum cannot be a legal impediment to prevent the election; the legal texts stipulate that the quorum aims at organizing the presidential election process and making the best of it,” he said. “As for obstructing the quorum, it is undemocratic and unconstitutional.”Geagea also urged his rival March 8 team to announce the group’s presidential candidate ahead of the next session aimed at electing a new head of state. “The March 8 camp has to choose its presidential candidate and his program and head to Wednesday's session,” he said. Parliament has until May 25, the end of President Michel Sleiman’s six-year-term, to vote for a new head of state.

Presidential vote doomed to fail without consensus
April 28, 2014/By Hussein Dakroub/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A Parliament session to elect a new president will not be held this week, as March 8 lawmakers are determined to scuttle the vote in an attempt to push their March 14 rivals into agreement on a compromise candidate, political sources said Sunday. “There will be no quorum or election of a new president during Wednesday’s Parliament session,” a political source told The Daily Star.
Speaker Nabih Berri has called on Parliament to meet Wednesday to elect a president after no candidate secured the two-thirds vote needed to win during the first round of voting last week. A two-thirds quorum (86) of the legislature’s 128 members is required for any election session. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, the candidate backed by the March 14 coalition, won 48 votes against 52 blank ballots cast by lawmakers from MP Michel Aoun’s bloc and March 8 parties, while 16 lawmakers voted for MP Henry Helou from Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt’s bloc. March 14 lawmakers said Sunday that Geagea was still the coalition’s only candidate for the country’s top Christian post. MP Salim Salhab, from Aoun’s parliamentary Change and Reform bloc, said the Free Patriotic Movement leader might announce his candidacy for the presidency before Wednesday’s session. However, he said Aoun’s bid hinged largely on the outcome of ongoing consultations between the FPM and the Future Movement. Aoun was reported to be waiting for a final word from former Prime Minister Saad Hariri with regard to the Future Movement’s support for his candidacy.
“General Michel Aoun will not run for the presidency unless the results of contacts led to a consensus on him,” Salhab told the Voice of Lebanon radio station. He said Aoun would not accept becoming “a challenging candidate.” But Future MP Ghazi Youssef ruled out Hariri’s support for Aoun’s candidacy, saying that the Future Movement backed a single candidate from the March 14 coalition.
“There is no consensus whatsoever between ... Saad Hariri and MP Michel Aoun concerning the presidency,” Youssef told Voice of Lebanon. “We will remain united behind a single candidate representing the March 14.” Youssef said that if the country fell into a presidential vacuum, rival political factions should agree on “a consensus candidate.” He stressed that Aoun could not be such a figure.
Sources close to the FPM said that Aoun and members of his bloc along with their March 8 allies – except for Berri’s parliamentary bloc – would not attend Wednesday’s session if there was no agreement beforehand on a compromise candidate. Deputy Speaker Farid Makari meanwhile said the March 14 coalition upheld its support for Geagea’s candidacy.
“We will fight Geagea’s battle until the end,” Makari said in an interview with the Kuwaiti newspaper As-Siyasseh. “We want to bring to the presidency someone who carries the March 14 ideas and goals.”
MP Yassin Jaber said lawmakers from Berri’s Liberation and Development bloc were committed to attending all parliamentary sessions to elect a new president and ensure a two-thirds quorum.
“Speaker Berri is playing an important role in ... seeking to reconcile viewpoints between parliamentary blocs with a view to facilitating an agreement on a national figure who can be elected with a consensus,” Jaber told a rally in the southern town of Nabatieh.Health Minister Wael Abu Faour, who flew to the Saudi city of Jeddah Sunday for talks with Saudi officials on the presidential election, said members of Jumblatt’s bloc would attend all parliamentary sessions to elect a president.
“Our candidate is MP Henry Helou,” he said. Abu Faour’s Saudi visit comes as former Minister Jean Obeid, who has emerged as a possible consensus candidate, is also in the kingdom for talks with Saudi officials on the presidential election. Obeid has held talks with Hariri in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Hezbollah officials, meanwhile, stepped up their campaign against Geagea’s candidacy, saying that the party would not accept a president who was hostile to the resistance. “Everyone must understand that there is no place for a president who carries with him an anti-resistance project,” MP Mohammad Raad, head of Hezbollah’s bloc in Parliament, told a rally in south Lebanon. He called for the presidential election to be held on time, saying: “We do not want a vacuum in the presidency.”
Geagea, an outspoken critic of Hezbollah, has repeatedly called on the party to hand over its arsenal to the Army, saying a powerful state cannot be built while illegitimate arms remain in the hands of any party. Geagea unveiled earlier this month a broad political platform stressing the state’s monopoly over the use of arms, a move intended to deprive Hezbollah of its arsenal. Hezbollah MP Ali Fayyad said the president should support the resistance. “The next president must be a friend of the resistance, reflecting the consensual aspirations of the Lebanese and be committed to the current government’s policy statement,” Fayyad said in south Lebanon. “Those who opposed the policy statement have no place in the presidency seat,” he said, referring to Geagea, who refused to join Hezbollah in Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s coalition government. Jumblatt called on Hariri to return to Lebanon and head a new Cabinet after the presidential election. “Hariri should return to Lebanon today and [not] tomorrow because there is no longer any justification for his absence,” Jumblatt said in remarks published by As-Safir newspaper. “I support [Hariri] returning andheading a comprehensive government [after a new president is elected].”Separately, Geagea held “lengthy talks” with U.S. Ambassador David Hale on the presidential election, the LF media office said. The two discussed the political situation in the Middle East and stressed the need for the presidential election to be held within the constitutional period.

U.S., EU impose new Russia sanctions
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Monday, 28 April 2014
The United States and European Union agreed Monday to impose new sanctions on Russian officials, in a fresh bid to pressure Moscow over its role in the Ukraine crisis. The U.S. sanctions targeted seven Russian government officials, as well as 17 firms with links to President Vladimir Putin's close associates, The Associated Press reported. President Barack Obama had announced the sanctions while traveling in the Philippines, the last stop on a weeklong trip to Asia. He said that while his goal was not to target Putin personally, he was seeking to "change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he's engaging in could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul,” AP reported. The new penalties were a response to what U.S. officials say is Moscow’s failure to live up to commitments it agreed to under an international accord aimed at ending the dispute.  AP said that among the targets of the new sanctions is Igor Sechin, the president of state oil company Rosneft, who has worked for Putin since the early 1990s. Sechin was seen as the mastermind behind the 2003 legal assault on private oil company Yukos and its founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who at the time was Russia's richest man. The most lucrative parts of Yukos were taken over by Rosneft, making it Russia's largest company. Rosneft has a major partnership deal with ExxonMobil. In addition to the new sanctions, the U.S. is adding new restrictions on high-tech materials used by Russia's defense industry that could help bolster Moscow's military, AP said. The White House says Russia's involvement in the recent violence in eastern Ukraine is indisputable and warned that the U.S. and its partners are prepared to impose deeper penalties if Russia's provocations continue. The EU took similar measures. In Brusscles, the EU agreed to impose sanctions on another 15 Russian and Ukrainian figures for their role in the Ukraine crisis, diplomatic sources said told Agence France Presse. The 15 will be subject to the same visa ban and asset freezes imposed on more than 50 others as Moscow shows no sign of reversing course in Ukraine, the sources told AFP, while EU member states remain reluctant to take wider economic measures at this stage. (With AP and AFP)

Egypt sentences 37 MB supporters to death

By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Monday, 28 April 2014
An Egyptian court has sentenced 37 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death while recommending the death sentence for 682 others, judicial sources said. Attorney Ahmed Hefni told reporters outside the court in the southern city of Minya on Monday that the “recommended” death sentences for 682 Brotherhood supporters first have to be approved by Egypt's mufti, the top Islamic official - a step that is usually considered a formality. The case is linked to deadly riots that erupted in Minya and elsewhere in Egypt after security forces violently disbanded sit-ins held by Brotherhood supporters in Cairo last August. The same court also reversed 492 death sentences out of 529 it passed in March, commuting most of the death sentences to life in prison. The court is seeking the death penalty for Mohammad Badie, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s general guide, in a move that is tipped to raise tension in Egypt which has grappled with insecurity since the army ousted Islamist President Mohammad Mursi in July.
Badie defiant
Badie defied a death sentence handed down against him on Monday, saying he would keep pursuing his cause, a son of Mursi quoted him as saying. “If they executed me one thousand times I will not retreat from the right path,” Badie was quoted as saying by lawyer Osama Mursi, who attended one of his trials in Cairo. The comments were published on Osama Mursi’s Facebook page. Meanwhile, an Egyptian court on Monday banned a pro-democracy movement that helped ignite the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011, judicial sources and the website of the state-run al-Ahram newspaper said. The ruling banning the activities of the April 6 movement follows the imprisonment of three of its leading members last year on charges of protesting illegally. The charges against April 6 included "damaging the image of the state", according to the al-Ahram report.(With Reuters and the Associated Press)

Syria’s Assad officially submits election bid
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Monday, 28 April 2014 /Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has formally submitted his nomination to seek a third term in office in an election due to be held on June 3, the speaker of parliament said on Monday. Speaker Jihad Laham made the announcement on state-run television on Monday. Reading from a letter he said was submitted by Assad to the constitutional court, the speaker quoted Assad as saying: “I ... Dr Bashar Hafez al Assad ... wish to nominate myself for the post of president of the republic, hoping that parliament will endorse it.”Assad – who took over power from his father in 2000 – was widely expected to run for a third term in office. Each term is seven years. Opposition activists and the West have criticized the balloting, saying it will only exacerbate Syria’s three-year civil war that has killed over 150,000 people and displaced more than one-third of the population, the Associated Press reported. The Arab League has also criticized the move last week, with its head, Nabil el-Araby, saying “this step could suspend the desired efforts of maturing negotiations for a political solution to the Syrian crisis.” Six other contenders are in the race, but they are mostly expected to give the election a veneer of legitimacy. Earlier this month, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi said the elections would not be delayed and that military operations would continue regardless of the poll, according to state news agency SANA. The country's electoral commission chief said on Monday that Syrians who have fled the war-torn country via unofficial crossings will not be allowed to vote in the elections. "Syrians who left Syria illegally do not have the right to vote in host countries," Hisham Shaar was quoted as saying by pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan on Monday. According to the U.N., 88 percent of registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon -- now home to more than a million people who fled Syria's brutal war -- entered via official crossings. However, those who fled to Turkey and Iraq did not. "Syrian territory is open to all Syrian citizens who wish to exercise their right to vote, especially those living in neighbouring countries," Shaar said.(With the Associated Press and Reuters)

Who is Clooney’s fiancée Amal Alamuddin?
By Joyce Karam | Special to Al Arabiya News/Monday, 28 April 2014
It’s hard for words alone to do justice to Amal Alamuddin. She is a bright, trilingual, accomplished Oxford and NYU graduate, who recently got engaged to Hollywood’s most sought after actor George Clooney. News about their engagement spread like wildfire in the Arab world and on social media. Many Lebanese women are on cloud nine over the news that one of their own has tamed the perpetual bachelor after two decades of singlehood.
From Lebanon to London
Amal was born in war-torn Beirut in 1978 to Ramzi Alamuddin and Bariaa Miknass. Her father comes from the town of Baakline, a suburb of Beirut and a home to many Lebanese Druze. He is a retired professor of business studies at the American University of Beirut. Amal’s mother Bariaa is a senior correspondent and editor at Al-Hayat newspaper and has interviewed many regional leaders. The family moved to London when Amal was two years-old. She has one sister, Tala, and two half-brothers, Samer and Ziad. They’ve been trying to keep things low key, but when one of Hollywood’s most coveted bachelors gets engaged, it’s hard to keep schtum! (Photo courtesy: Getty) When Bariaa attended Al-Hayat’s 25th Jubilee in London last November, news about that Clooney and Alamuddin had already surfaced. But like every mother trying to protect her daughter from the public eye, Bariaa insisted that the two were just friends. However, sources told Al Arabiya News that Clooney invited the whole family to join the couple on a safari trip in Tanzania and the Seychelles last month. Around the same time, more photos of the pair started to appear publicly. The couple was seen holding hands at a movie screening at the White House, dining in New York and Los Angeles, and hanging out in Malibu with Cindy Crawford and her husband Rande Gerber.
Brilliant lawyer and multi-tasker
Those who know Amal speak of her brilliant mind, elegance and intellect. She won the Shrigley Award at Oxford University and the Jack Katz Memorial Award at New York University School of Law. She was also voted as the hottest London barrister in 2013. The Lebanese beauty, who the media has portrayed as an Anne Hathaway look-a-like, differs from Clooney’s past ex-girlfriends.
The Lebanese beauty, who the media has portrayed as an Anne Hathaway look-a-like, differs from Clooney’s past ex-girlfriends, a long roster of supermodels and actresses. Her career blends humanitarian law and international politics. One of her clients is the controversial figure Julian Assange, responsible for leaking a massive amount of diplomatic cables between American officials. She also advises many governments on international law and has previously consulted for former U.N. envoy on Syria, Kofi Annan. She has also represented the state of Cambodia, the former Libyan intelligence chief Abdallah al-Senussi, and Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. SEE ALSO: Is George Clooney’s fiancée an ‘Arabian Anne Hathaway?’
SEE ALSO: Engaged! Clooney proposes to Lebanese lawyer
For a 36-year-old, Alamuddin has an impressive resume, having also been appointed to several U.N. commissions. She has also lectured at several universities, including The Hague Academy and The New School in New York. She even interned with U.S. Supreme Court judge Sonya Sotomayor.  Last month, more photos of the pair started to appear publicly. (Photo courtesy: E! News)
If that wasn’t enough, she is fluent in Arabic, French and English and is a published author and editor of a book on The Special Tribunal of Lebanon.
It is Syria, however, that appears to have brought Clooney and Alamuddin together. A source told People magazine that George and Amal were initially just friends and merely “working on a satellite program over Syria.” Clooney himself has been doing plenty of humanitarian work in Africa and the Middle East. The Clooney-Alamuddin engagement promises the wedding of the century, with the potential of Hollywood bonanza colliding with international politics in one place, along with cross-cultural celebrations.

Syrian presidential election is Assad’s last mission
Monday, 28 April 2014
By: Khairallah Khairallah/Al Arabiya
Those following the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's behavior since the eruption of the revolution aren't surprised that he decided to rerun for the president, especially considering that he's taken it upon himself to destroy Syria. Perhaps the only thing that slipped Assad's mind was scheduling the elections for June 3 instead of June 5. It would've been better to schedule them for June 5 considering that the date coincides with the 47th anniversary of the Six-Day War during which his father Hafez was Syria's minister of defense. If June 5 had been the date of the elections, the choice would've been more than felicitous. It would've confirmed that the upcoming presidential elections fall within a clearly defined context. It's the same context the Syrian regime has adopted since before Hafez al-Assad took over authority on November 16, 1970.
A history of interference
Since the beginning, the Syrian regime played a pivotal role in implicating Gamal Abedlnasser in the 1967 War, the repercussions of which Arabs still suffer from, especially because the West Bank and Jerusalem are still occupied along with the Syrian Golan Heights. Its fall into the hands of Israel still remains a mystery. “He who looks into the Syrian regime's path, particularly since the Alawite officers took over authority on February 23, 1966, will realize that this regime has one specific task. It took Arabs to a war with Israel - a war Arabs weren't prepared for.”
The details of this mystery may only be revealed when the Syrian regime officially falls, now that it belongs in history's bin. However, the Syrian regime has already fallen in way. It fell the day it realized it needed a Lebanese sectarian militia, Shiite Iraqi fighters, Iranian experts and consultants and Russian arms to slaughter its people.
Is there a fall greater than this one for a regime that claims it protects its minorities and calls for secularism while at the same time it shells cities and towns using explosive barrels and incites sectarian tensions because it helps it survive? He who looks into the Syrian regime's path, particularly since the Alawite officers took over authority on February 23, 1966, will realize that this regime has one specific task. It took Arabs to a war with Israel - a war Arabs weren't prepared for. Arabs lost the war and realized that the Syrian regime is incapable of neither achieving peace nor engaging in a real battle to restore its occupied land. Even the October 1973 war was a mere means to close the Golan front and focus on destroying Lebanon. What was requested was destroying Lebanon. The Syrian regime accomplished the task required of it. It armed the Palestinians and Christian militias at the same time, destroying Beirut and every single Lebanese town.
It reached the extent of stationing the Palestinian Liberation Army in Beirut to separate between Muslims and Christians. In the Syrian regime's opinion, this was the task of the Palestinian Liberation Army.
Inciting divisions
The Syrian regime wanted to fight the Camp David Accords and Egypt from Lebanon. The result was destroying whatever it could destroy in Lebanon. It also caused an Israeli invasion of the country - an invasion that brought woes to the small country and to whatever co-existence was left in it especially between Druze and Christians.
However this invasion dispersed Palestinian fighters after they played the role - which according to the Syrian regime's point of view - they were supposed to be playing. The role was to alter the nature of Lebanese areas and demographics as much as possible and to weaken Christian presence. Christians spread across Lebanese areas from north to south was indicator of this presence.
There's no need to engage in the details of the war which the Syrian regime launched against the Palestinians, particularly against their historical leader Yasser Arafat who committed many mistakes, particularly in Lebanon. Arafat committed most of these mistakes because he had to protect his back from the Syrian regime's hostile actions.
There's no need to list the people the Syrian regime assassinated or incited to assassinate all the way to former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and his comrades and the honorable Lebanese who defended independence and sovereignty. And particularly, there's no need to list the harm Hezbollah has done to Lebanon and to the Lebanese after the Syrian regime bet on it to deepen the sectarian rift in the country and spread misery. The regime resumes the task assigned to it - from the semi-knockout of the Arabs in 1967 to breaking up Syria to destroying Lebanon through illegitimate arms and to confiscating Palestinian decisions. He who reruns for the presidential elections is seeking to resume the task of closing all doors towards a solution to save Syria or whatever is left of it - a solution via a committee or an interim government that allows thinking about the country's future. The irony is that there's a link between the 1967 defeat and the insistence to support the Syrian regime's manslaughter of its people.
Backing from Russia, Iran
The link is Moscow's stance. It was the Soviet Union who dragged Arabs and encouraged them to commit the stupid act of thinking about war in 1967. Back then, Moscow did not do anything to bring the Syrian regime's attention to the threats of military adventures and to help it realize that these adventures will eventually serve Israel's interests and aspirations and will only enhance Israel's negotiating and military positions. Now in 2014, we see that Russia, which succeeded the Soviet Union, is the most enthusiastic about Bashar al-Assad remaining in power. Is there a crime bigger than that of supporting a regime that does not hesitate to use all available weapons to implement a systematic murder of people and destruction of cities and towns? It's important to ponder about this irony especially because of Iran supports the Syrian regime in all means possible is more than understandable. And it's no secret that Iran is betting on inciting sectarian instincts to break up the Arab world.
And what about Russia and its insistence that the Syrian regime is legitimate? Or isn't this the easiest means to eliminate the Syrian entity which has suffered from a deep crisis since day one of its establishment? Will eliminating the entity be the last mission the regime is assigned upon Russian support and Iranian blessing translated on ground via sectarian militias coming from Lebanon, Iraq and Iran itself? *This article was first published in al-Mustaqbal on April 24, 2013.

Lahoud: Syria’s top man in Lebanon
April 28, 2014/By Wassim Mroueh /The Daily Star
Editor’s note: Ahead of the 2014 presidential election, this is the 11th in a series of articles examining the circumstances and conditions that shaped the elections of Lebanon’s 12 presidents since 1943.
BEIRUT: The election of Emile Lahoud to the presidency in 1998 occurred at the behest of Damascus despite the reservation of several Lebanese leaders, marking the start of an extended term that would cover many significant and dramatic events in post-Civil War Lebanon. During Lahoud’s tenure, Israel’s army would withdraw from south Lebanon, ending 22 years of occupation, and Syria would exit Lebanon too, after around 30 years of military presence in the country. His presidency would also see former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri assassinated in February 2005 and Israel’s summer 2006 war against the country. An Army commander since 1989, Lahoud, who comes from the Metn village of Baabdat, was elected president on Oct. 15, 1998, at the request of Syria, which at that time was in total control of Lebanon. He was the second Army commander to become president after Fouad Chehab. In his book, “Shock and Steadfastness: The Term of Emile Lahoud (1998-2007),” former Kataeb Party leader Karim Pakradouni wrote that 10 days prior to the presidential election in ’98, Syrian President Hafez Assad informed President Elias Hrawi, Lahoud’s predecessor, that he believed the Army commander was the best figure to succeed him. “It has come to my attention that Lebanese newspapers have published polls indicating that the majority of the Lebanese want Emile Lahoud as president,” Assad reportedly told Hrawi during the latter’s visit to Damascus. “It is our duty to respect the people’s will. ... We in Syria, under your patronage, will help and support this Lebanese consensus, even if this requires the amendment of Article 49 of the Constitution for this purpose,” Assad added. The article referred to restricted Grade I employees, such as Army commanders, from running for president for several years after leaving their post. Back in Lebanon, Hrawi called a Cabinet session on Oct. 8 to pass a draft law to amend Article 49 and allow such people to run for president just two years after leaving their job. Parliament approved the amendment and elected Lahoud a week later on Oct.15. He was the only candidate and won 118 votes of Parliament’s 128 members.
The vote was opposed by Jumblatt and former Army Commander Michel Aoun, who was in exile. The election of Lahoud led to the departure of Hariri, largely as a result of long-standing tense relations between the two. To replace Hariri, Salim Hoss was nominated to the premiership and, after heading the government for six years, the head of the Future Movement joined the opposition. It wouldn’t last long, however, and in 2000, Hariri became prime minister again after his landslide victory during parliamentary elections held that year.
In May of 2000, Israel withdrew from Lebanon, prompting calls for Syria to pull out its troops too. The number of people seeking Syria’s withdrawal quickly grew to include the Council of Maronite Bishops, Jumblatt, Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces. Lahoud, however, defended Syria’s military presence in Lebanon, saying it was necessary as long as Israel continued to occupy the disputed the Shebaa Farms and Syria’s Golan Heights, as well as refusing to recognize the right of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to return home. In a bid to quell growing anti-Syrian sentiment in Lebanon, local security authorities resorted to oppressive practices that only served to increase grievances against Lahoud and his sponsor, Damascus.
But as Lahoud’s six-year term neared its end, international pressure on Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon mounted.
On Sept. 2, 2004, the U.N. Security Council issued Resolution 1559. Drafted by the U.S. and France, the resolution called for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Lebanon, the disbanding of all illegitimate armed groups and free and transparent presidential elections. Ignoring the resolution and growing Lebanese dissent, Syria forced through a three-year extension of Lahoud’s term. On Sept. 3, Parliament met, and 96 MPs passed the extension, which was opposed by 29 others including Jumblatt’s MPs and a number of Christian lawmakers. Three MPs did not attend the session. Hariri resigned shortly after, rejoining the opposition and preparing for parliamentary elections scheduled for spring 2005, polls he would never live to see. The Lebanese leader’s assassination on Feb. 14, 2005, and the events that followed weakened Lahoud. The Valentine’s Day car bomb triggered anti-Syrian protests that culminated in a massive demonstration on March 14 where protesters accused Syria and the Lebanese security services of standing behind the assassination and called for Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon. The demonstration marked the birth of the March 14 coalition, which at the time comprised the Future Movement, Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party, the LF, FPM and the Kataeb Party. Succumbing to mounting local and international pressure, Syria – Lahoud’s main backer – withdrew its troops from Lebanon in April, ending 15 years of control over its neighbor. A few months later, the March 14 alliance won a majority in Parliament and in the government.
In a further blow to Lahoud, officers Jamil al-Sayyed, Ali al-Hajj, Mustafa Hamdan and Raymond Azar – who headed the country’s security services and were close to Lahoud – were arrested in September 2005 over suspicions that they were involved in Hariri’s murder. Regardless, with the extension already approved, Lahoud remained in power. In a bid to get rid of what it described as Syria’s “remnant” in Lebanon, the March 14 coalition launched a campaign in early 2006 to force Lahoud to step down early. Opposed by Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, the attempt failed.
Lahoud served the last years of his term under boycott by several local parties and many Western and Arab countries that backed the March 14 alliance.
He left the presidential palace at the end of his term in November 2007, without a successor due to a severe political division between the March 8 and March 14 coalitions.
Lahoud’s supporters argue that he was a key backer of the resistance against Israel and someone who confronted calls by the March 14 coalition for Hezbollah to give up its arms.
His opponents accuse him of obstructing efforts to free Lebanon from Syria’s tutelage and of cracking down on civil freedoms.
Lahoud remained unapologetic for his actions long after he had left Baabda Palace. “If I go back in time, I will repeat all that I did because my convictions proved to be right,” he told Al-Jazeera years after his term ended.