June 06/14


Bible Quotation for today/You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength

Mark 12,28-34/One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’Jesus answered, ‘The first is, "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."The second is this, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself." There is no other commandment greater than these.’Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that "he is one, and besides him there is no other"; and "to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength", and "to love one’s neighbour as oneself", this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question.

Pope Francis's Tweet For Today
Like the Good Samaritan, may we not be ashamed of touching the wounds of those who suffer, but try to heal them with concrete acts of love.
Pape François
Comme le Bon Samaritain, n’ayons pas honte de toucher les blessures de celui qui souffre, mais cherchons à les guérir par un amour concret.


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For June 06/14
Kerry in Beirut promotes US engagement with pro-Iranian Hizballah terrorists, after Hamas/DEBKAfile/June 06/14

Lebanon’s Hijacked Presidency/By: Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/June 06/14

Kerry in Lebanon: the American spectator/By: Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya/June 06/1
Religious Repression in Saudi Arabia/By: Todd Daniels/June 06/14


The Daily Star Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For June 06/14

Lebanese Related News

MP.Nadiem Gemayel: Parliament sessions boycotted until president elected

STL Confirms June 18 Date for Resuming Trial, Rejects Merhi's Counsel Appeal

Decision on Assignment of Counsel in STL's Akhbar Case

Salam Tackles Cabinet’s Power Mechanism with Berri

Hariri: Syrians Need Real Global Solidarity to Eradicate Bashar from Political Existence

Jumblat: Syrian Elections Demonstrated the 'Art of Democracy' to the World
Bou Saab: Postponing Official Exams Again is out of the Question
Amin Gemayel Agrees with Aoun, Jumblat to End Presidential Crisis

23 Arrested in Tripoli for Celebratory Gunfire

Plumbly Meets Salam, Reiterates Need to Elect New President as Soon as Possible
Nusra Front Members Kill Syrian in Arsal
Abou Faour: Constitutional Heresies, Obstruction Won't Lead Anywhere

Mustaqbal: Govt. Must Help Speed up Efforts to Elect New President
$16 Million in Chinese Aid for Syria Refugees in

U.S. Says it Provides $51 Million to WFP, NGOs to Help Lebanon Confront Refugee Crisis

Finance Minister Completes State's 2014 Budget, Fears Economic Woos

Maronite Officials Discuss with al-Rahi 'National Pact Contradication'

Lebanese call for boycott of Israeli's singer, Amir Haddad

Hezbollah could take battle into Israel: report

Terrorism and refugees main obstacles facing Lebanon: Bassil

Miscellaneous Reports And News
Obama Lands in Paris for D-Day Anniversary

Obama Makes 'No Apologies' for Taliban Hostage Deal

Israel: Iran lying to UN nuclear probe

EU condemns settlement building plans, calls the move 'unhelpful to peace'

Poll: Israelis oppose unilateral withdrawal from West Bank, split on annexation

Opposition Deems Assad Election Illegal as Moscow Says People Have Chosen their Future
500 'Qaida' Killed, Aid Needed, Says Yemen Army
Criminal Probe over Merkel Phone Tapping, U.S. Says Issue Best Dealt with Through Diplomacy
'Deeply Disappointed' EU Urges Israel to Reverse New Settlements Plans
EU Ready to Work 'Closely' with New Egyptian President
Radical Myanmar Monks Urge Boycott of 'Muslim' Qatari Telecom Firm


MP.Nadiem Gemayel: Parliament sessions boycotted until president elected
June 05, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: March 14 Christian MPs will boycott all parliamentary legislative sessions until a new president is elected, according to Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel, who added that Aoun’s candidacy would not be supported. “We will not participate in any legislative session as long as the presidential void remains,” said the Kataeb MP, during an interview with Kalam Beirut, a program on Future TV.  Gemayel slammed Aoun’s hopes for presidency, saying that “the Future Movement supports a candidate from March 14,” referring to Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, “and it will not adopt Aoun’s candidacy.” In this vein, he called on Future Movement leader former Prime Minister Saad Hariri “to give Aoun a definitive response” that his candidacy would not be supported.
If there is no president selected by September, said Gemayel, then MPs would be obliged to conduct parliamentary elections and the next legislative body would elect a president.
“We shall not think about extending the parliamentary term at all,” he explained. The Parliament’s term was extended by 17 months at the end of May 2013, the first since the end of 1975-90 Civil War.
Gemayel also addressed Maronite Patriarch Bashara Rai, calling him to invite Christian MPs to hold comprehensive meeting in which a stance against the presidential void could be adopted.
Separately, the Kataeb senior commented on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Lebanon Wednesday, saying that “he should have come when [former President] Michel Sleiman was still in Baaba Palace, and the visit would have been given more importance.” Concerning relations between the U.S. and Iran, Gemayel said that there was an obvious rapprochement ongoing between the two states, noting that “[Hezbollah head] Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has stopped attacking the United States in his speeches.”

STL Confirms June 18 Date for Resuming Trial, Rejects Merhi's Counsel Appeal
Naharnet /The Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Thursday issued a decision confirming June 18 as the date for the resumption of trial in the Ayyash et al. case, rejecting a postponement appeal filed by the counsel of the accused Hassan Merhi. “The Appeals Chamber today rendered a decision confirming June 18 as the date for the resumption of trial in the Ayyash et al. case,” the STL said in a statement. The decision follows an appeal filed by Merhi's counsel on May 22, 2014, the court added. “The Appeals Chamber denied three of the four grounds of appeal raised by counsel for Mr. Merhi but it upheld, in part, one of Merhi's Defense complaints,” the tribunal announced. It said the Merhi team had requested to postpone the trial until an expert had reviewed the Prosecution’s evidence and prepared a report.
The Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber had “abused its discretion when it failed to consider whether counsel for Mr. Merhi required the assistance of their expert – at least on the basis of interim reports – for particular witnesses or groups of witnesses that the Prosecutor intends to call in the next part of his case.”The Appeals Chamber judges instructed the Trial Chamber to “assess on a case-by-case basis whether the Merhi Defense can challenge the evidence of certain witnesses without the assistance of an expert.”According to STL's statement, a pre-trial conference is scheduled for June 16 and trial will resume on June 18. On February 26, the Trial Chamber had ordered the adjournment of the trial sessions “until at least early to mid-May to allow Defense counsel for Hassan Habib Merhi adequate time to prepare for trial and to conduct their own investigations.”And following a May 12 status conference, the Trial Chamber issued an oral ruling setting the date for the resumption of trial as June 18.
The chamber had adjourned the trial following an oral ruling on February 11 on the joinder of the Merhi case to the Ayyash et al. case.
The five Accused – Hizbullah members Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badreddine, Assad Sabra Hussein Oneissi and Hassan Merhi -- are indicted for their alleged role in the February 14, 2005 bomb attack that killed former premier Rafik Hariri and 22 other people. During a February 12 trial session, the defense team objected against several logistical procedures adopted by the Trial Chamber, refusing the fragmentation of trials. “We oppose the fragmentation of trials and conduct ethics oblige us to acquaint ourselves with all the aspects of the case,” Merhi' defense lawyer Mohamed Aouini said.
“We must be able to cross-examine the witnesses and we can't just attend for the sake of attendance,” he stressed. Aouini then requested to have “a certain reasonable period to look into all the files of the case.”The in absentia trial had opened on January 16 at the STL's headquarters in The Hague.

Decision on Assignment of Counsel in STL's Akhbar Case
Naharnet/The Special Tribunal for Lebanon Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri issued on Thursday a decision providing written reasons for the assignment of counsel in the case against Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. and al-Akhbar newspaper's editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Amin. The initial appearances of Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. and al-Amin, which were originally scheduled for May 13, were rescheduled to May 29 upon the request of the accused. Al-Amin, representing both himself and the company, appeared via video-conference last Thursday. But prior to entering a plea, he read a statement to the court, after which he left the courtroom. Lettieri interpreted his statement and his actions as a plea of not-guilty, said the STL. “After consultations with the parties the judge ordered the Defense Office to appoint counsel for the accused,” it said in a statement. “The decision of the Contempt Judge makes it clear that al-Amin’s presence at the initial appearance means that he no longer has the rights that an Accused in an in absentia trial enjoys,” the STL said. The Contempt Judge states in his decision that al-Amin may still participate in person or via video-conference in these proceedings, and appoint counsel of his own choosing to represent him if he wishes to do so. In this case, Lettieri concludes that he “would be ready to reconsider” his decision on the appointment of the counsel on his behalf. In addition to ordering the assignment of counsel, Lettieri ordered the Amicus Curiae Prosecutor to initiate disclosure at the earliest opportunity after counsel is assigned and necessary arrangements are made, the STL said in its statement.
Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. and al-Amin are charged with “knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by publishing information on purported confidential witnesses in the Ayyash et al. Case.”New TV S.A.L. and deputy head of news at al-Jadeed television Karma Tahsin al-Khayat also face the same charges. In April last year, a list of 167 names of so-called witnesses for the trial in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination was published by a previously unknown group identified as "Journalists for the Truth."The group said it wanted to "unveil the corruption" of the STL. Both al-Akhbar and al-Jadeed published the list.

Hariri: Syrians Need Real Global Solidarity to Eradicate Bashar from Political Existence

Naharnet /Al-Mustaqbal movement leader MP Saad Hariri on Thursday called for “real global solidarity” with the Syrian people aimed at “eradicating” Syrian President Bashar Assad from political existence.
“No elections in the history of humanity have been deplored and described with degrading terms such as the elections that granted Bashar Assad a new presidential term,” Hariri said in a communique.
Syrian parliament speaker Jihad Laham had on Wednesday officially announced that Assad was re-elected by a landslide, capturing 88.7 percent of the vote, after having competed against two little-known challengers – Hassan al-Nouri and Maher Hajjar. Hariri said derogatory terms such as “farce, despicable, fabricated, bloody and detestable," which had been “repeated daily” by top Western officials against the vote, were “100% true.” Criticizing the Friends of Syria group, which comprises the majority of Arab and Western nations, the ex-PM said “nowadays they're settling for launching the ugliest descriptions against Bashar as he continues to launch barrel bombs against residential neighborhoods.” “What human mind can believe the lie that 74% of the Syrian people had taken part in the elections?” Hariri added, slamming “the rigging operations that were broadcast live by TV stations.”The former premier said “the Syrian people need something more than describing the Syrian elections as a great big zero,” referring to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks on Wednesday from the Grand Serail. “The Syrian people need real global solidarity aimed at eradicating the phenomenon of Bashar from political existence,” Hariri added. He warned that Bashar's persistence as Syria's president is “equivalent to the persistence of war, terrorism and destruction in Syria,” urging an end to “this tragedy and farce.”
Hariri also slammed “Bashar's partners in the creation of death and destruction, who welcomed the elections and erupted in celebratory gunfire.”

Amin Gemayel Agrees with Aoun, Jumblat to End Presidential Crisis
Naharnet/Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat briefed head of the Kataeb Party Amin Gemayel on the latest consultations to resolve the presidential deadlock. According to al-Joumhouria newspaper published on Thursday, Aoun, who visited Gemayel to offer his condolences over the death of his sister Claude, briefed the Phalange leader on his meeting with Speaker Nabih Berri regarding the presidential crisis. “The two officials agreed to continue contacts to be able to confront the developments,” the daily reported. Another meeting that was held between Jumblat and Gemayel tackled the latest local developments. The newspaper said that the two officials agreed on exerting efforts to end the deadlock “as soon as possible.”On Wednesday, Aoun announced from Ain el-Tineh that the participation of the Change and Reform bloc MPs in parliamentary sessions “is being mulled,” noting that solutions to the political crises might be found “in the near future.” “It is normal to talk about the thorny issues, such as the presidential vote, the cabinet's faltering work and the parliament's performance,” Aoun said after meeting Berri. Gemayel also held talks with U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale, who informed the Christian leader on the motives of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's 5-hour visit to Beirut. Hale reportedly stressed the importance of stability in Lebanon. Kerry arrived in Lebanon on Wednesday for a short visit where he met with Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi.

Salam Tackles Cabinet’s Power Mechanism with Berri
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam held talks on Thursday with Speaker Nabih Berri at Ain al-Tineh as media reports said the meeting tackled the mechanism regulating the government’s work during the ongoing presidential vacuum. Salam left Ain al-Tineh without making any statement. However, MTV channel reported that the meeting focused on a row among the cabinet members over the mechanism that should regulate the government’s work and its jurisdictions. Tuesday's cabinet session failed anew to resolve the dispute among the political arch-foes over the mechanism that should regulate the work of the government during the presidential vacuum. The cabinet had convened last week for the first time after the end of ex-president Michel Suleiman's term. The parliament has failed to elect a successor to Suleiman -- whose six-year term ended on May 25 -- despite having held five electoral sessions for that purpose. The presidential vacuum raised fears that it would affect Lebanon's power-sharing agreement under which the president should be a Maronite, the premier a Sunni and the speaker a Shiite. As Salam left Ain el-Tineh, Health Minister Wael Abou Faour, who is loyal to Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat, arrived for talks with Berri. On Wednesday, Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun met with Berri, he announced that the participation of the Change and Reform bloc MPs in parliamentary sessions “is being mulled,” noting that solutions to the political crises might be found “in the near future.”

23 Arrested in Tripoli for Celebratory Gunfire
Naharnet/A number of people were arrested on Wednesday in the northern city of Tripoli for firing gunshots and grenades to celebrate the re-election of Syrian President Bashar Assad, announced the army in a statement on Thursday. It said that a total of 23 suspects were arrested. It identified one of the suspects as Mahmoud al-Masri, who fired a rocket-propelled grenade towards the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood. The remaining 22 people, including a Syrian, were detained for firing celebratory gunshots in the Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen neighborhoods. They were also charged with driving motorcycles without proper licenses and resisting arrest. Supporters of Assad opened fire in the air in the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood following news of his re-election on Wednesday. The army carried out raids in the area to arrest the suspects. LBCI television reported on Wednesday that tensions were high on Tripoli's Syria Street following the celebrations.

Nusra Front Members Kill Syrian in Arsal
Naharnet /Syrian members of the Nusra Front killed on Thursday a fellow Syrian in the eastern Bekaa town of Arsal, reported the National News Agency. It said that a number of the gunmen killed Khaled al-Mustafa. The reasons for the murder were not disclosed and the whereabouts of the gunmen is not clear. Ever since the Syrian revolt erupted in March 2011, Arsal has served as a key conduit for refugees, rebels and wounded people fleeing strife-torn Syria.

Plumbly Meets Salam, Reiterates Need to Elect New President as Soon as Possible

Naharnet/United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly reiterated on Thursday the international community's insistence that Lebanon elect a new president in order to fill the vacuum in the presidency. He said after holding talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail: “Needless to say, our main message is one you have heard repeatedly over the past two weeks from the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the Security Council, from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday and from the International Support Group the necessity of electing a new president as soon as possible.”“The additional message is also clear, our support for Salam and his government, and the importance in accordance with the constitution of it being able to address the challenges that Lebanon faces and to work closely with its partners at this time,” he added. “In the context of Lebanon’s partnership with the U.N., we discussed the implementation of resolution 1701 on which a new report is due this month, our work together in respect of the Syrian refugees and our joint efforts to encourage burden sharing and greater assistance for Lebanon,” he continued. “In that last context, I take this opportunity again to welcome the activation of the Trust fund announced here earlier this week by the President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim and the meeting on support for the Lebanese Armed Forces, which the government of Italy plans to hold soon,” stated Plumbly. Lebanon is home to more than a million refugees, while around 600,000 have fled to Jordan, and Turkey hosts another 700,000. Kim, on a regional visit, said on Monday in the Saudi city of Jeddah that the conflict in Syria has cost Lebanon $7.5 billion (5.5 billion euros). He kicked off his regional trip by visiting the kingdom, Lebanon, and then Jordan.

Abou Faour: Constitutional Heresies, Obstruction Won't Lead Anywhere
Naharnet /Health Minister Wael Abou Faour on Thursday rejected from Ain el-Tineh any attempt to spread political vacuum into the parliament and cabinet amid the ongoing presidential void, stressing that “obstruction” will not lead anywhere. “We are in a dilemma and a failure has happened in the presidential elections, but that must not lead to other failures or the paralysis of the parliament and cabinet,” Abou Faour said after meeting Speaker Nabih Berri in Ain al-Tineh, delegated by MP Walid Jumblat. “We must not turn the vacuum into a fireball that rolls towards the rest of the state institutions. We are calling for consensus regarding the presidency and until that happens, the institutions must not be impeded under any excuse, especially for the sake of a certain populist gain,” the minister added.
Answering a reporter's question, Abou Faour said “all the Lebanese know who is obstructing the presidential vote and who is proposing extreme choices.”He noted that centrist MP Henri Helou, who was nominated by Jumblat's Democratic Gathering bloc for the presidency, is not “an intruder in the political life and he is practicing his democratic right.”“Why are others boycotting the sessions and paralyzing the parliament?” Abou Faour decried. “Where will the obstructive approach lead the country to? To further problems which the politicians might not find an exit from?” he asked rhetorically. Abou Faour noted that Prime Minister Tammam Salam has suggested “a very clear roadmap” regarding the cabinet's work during the period of presidential vacancy and that “the Constitution does not need all these different interpretations.”“We have heard a lot of constitutional heresies, that's why we must abide by the Constitution. Today, there are political and not constitutional motives, which are aimed at gaining popularity,” the minister went on to say. “The meetings that Speaker Berri is holding will lead to positive results and we hope everyone would realize that extending vacuum to all institutions will not produce anything,” he said. On Wednesday, Berri had held talks in Ain al-Tineh with Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, who announced after the meeting that they discussed “the thorny issues, such as the presidential vote, the cabinet's faltering work and the parliament's performance.” Earlier on Thursday, the speaker met with PM Salam. Separately, Jumblat held talks Thursday in Clemenceau with U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale, in the presence of Minister Abou Faour. On Monday, Salam stressed that the Constitution is “clear” and “indisputable” regarding the powers of the government during a presidential vacuum, noting that “the PM is the one who asks cabinet to convene and prepares the session agenda.” The cabinet had convened Friday for the first time after the end of ex-president Michel Suleiman's term. The parliament has failed to elect a successor to Suleiman -- whose six-year term ended on May 25 -- despite having held five electoral sessions for that purpose.

Jumblat: Syrian Elections Demonstrated the 'Art of Democracy' to the World
Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat criticized on Thursday the Syrian presidential elections with a caustic and sarcastic statement, noting the regime's bloody crackdown against the people and the international community's disappointing stances towards the Syrian people. He said sarcastically: “The regime could have achieved better results in the glittering, diverse, transparent, and democratic elections, had the dead, which exceeded 200,000, and displaced, who exceed eight million, been able to cast their votes.”“The residents of Homs and Aleppo could have been able to renew their eternal loyalty to Mr. President Bashar Assad were it not for the rubble and destruction in those cities,” he added. “They would have been able to head to the polls were it not for the corpses and remains of hundreds of thousands of victims, who ironically died for the regime,” he continued in the same tone. “The residents of the eastern Ghouta and northern Syria would have been able to take part in the elections were it not for the regime's barrel bombs and occasional use of chemical weapons,” remarked Jumblat sarcastically. “The residents would have been able to teach the West how elections are organized and how free and honest voting is held,” he added. “The regime would not have been able to stage the most honest elections in the history of mankind had the international community not let down the Syrian people and stood idly by as the they were oppressed, displaced, and bombarded by Assad as part of his preparations for the free, diverse, and democratic elections,” said the PSP chief.
“The Syrian people would not have been able to express themselves with freedom, dignity, and democracy without world powers taking their time in five star hotels in strenuously phrasing the most strongly-worded statements of condemnation,” he commented. On this note, the MP “proposed gathering these statements and compiling them in the most luxurious book for future generations to use as a reference for phrases of condemnation.” “What a sparkling election indeed, which radiated freedom and democracy. The election should be used as blueprint for all peoples of the earth,” he added. “The world should learn the art of elections, voting, the counting of ballots” from the Syrian presidential polls, concluded Jumblat. Assad was re-elected in a landslide, officials said Wednesday, capturing a third seven-year term in the middle of a bloody three-year-old uprising against his rule that has devastated the country. Syria's parliament Speaker, Jihad Laham, announced the final results from Tuesday's election, saying Assad garnered 10,319,723 votes, or 88.7 percent. Laham said Assad's two challengers, Hassan al-Nouri and Maher Hajjar, won 4.3 percent and 3.2 percent respectively. The Supreme Constitutional Court put turnout at 73.42 percent. Assad's victory was always a foregone conclusion, despite the presence of other candidates on the ballot for the first time in decades. Voting was held only in government-controlled areas, excluding huge tracks of northern and eastern Syria that are in rebel hands. The opposition and its Western allies, including the United States, have denounced the election as a farce.

Finance Minister Completes State's 2014 Budget, Fears Economic Woos
Naharnet /Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil accomplished the state's 2014 budget draft-law in an attempt to control the government's spending. “The budget draft-law is an urgent need to control the state's spending,” Khalil said in comments published in As Safir newspaper on Thursday. The minister explained that the expenditures are based on the 2013 local financial status, stressing that the state will not impose new taxes on the people. “If the state remains without a budget we will have to encounter huge risks,” Khalil told the daily. The newspaper said that budget deficit for 2014 is estimated to be L.L.7,670 billion (34.9%) in comparison to last year's L.L.6,150 billion (26%). “The budget deficit increased from 9% in 2013 to 10.71 in 2014, which reflects a negative image concerning the country's credit rating.” Fitch, Standard and Poors and Moody's rating agencies had downgraded Lebanon's rating in 2013, citing political uncertainties, spill-overs from the Syrian conflict on economic performance and slow growth prospects. Fitch Lebanon's credit rating was affirmed at 'B', while S&P rates the country 'B-' and Moody's has the nation above Fitch at 'B1'. All with negative outlook.

U.S. Says it Provides $51 Million to WFP, NGOs to Help Lebanon Confront Refugee Crisis
Naharnet/The U.S. embassy revealed on Thursday that Washington is providing more than $51 million to the World Food Program and Non-Governmental Organizations in Lebanon, the highest amount in terms of assistance provided to countries neighboring war-torn Syria. In a series of tweets, the embassy said that “the U.S. is committed to delivering humanitarian assistance to Syrians through the U.N. broad network, no matter where they reside or have sought refuge.” The U.S. assistance in Lebanon includes food aid, protection, shelter, water and sanitation in host communities, education programs and other programs to prevent gender-based violence, it said in one tweet. Secretary of State John Kerry's announcement during a visit to Beirut of a $290 million in U.S. aid for U.N. agencies, rose total humanitarian assistance since the beginning of the Syrian crisis to more than $2 billion. Lebanon, home to 4.5 million people, is struggling to cope with the presence of more than a million Syrian and Palestinian refugees in desperate need of housing, education and medical care. There will be a new assistance of nearly $169 million inside Syria and more than $121 million for neighboring countries, including Lebanon, the mission tweeted. The U.S. assistance is aimed at helping over 4.7 million people inside Syria and more than 2.8 million refugees and host communities in neighboring countries, the embassy said. It called on “all nations to support urgent needs inside Syria and in neighboring countries,” saying “more than 2/3 of U.N.'s appeal remains unfunded.”

Mustaqbal: Govt. Must Help Speed up Efforts to Elect New President
Naharnet/The Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc noted on Thursday the “maturity” demonstrated by the government in confronting the various challenges facing Lebanon, namely the vacuum in the presidency. It said in a statement after its weekly meeting: “The government must play a role in speeding up the process of electing a president.” The bloc noted however that the cabinet must not neglect its duties in administering state affairs. “These duties are stipulated in constitutional articles and the government should go ahead and continue on tackling the people's concerns,” it explained. “The challenges facing the cabinet obligate all sides to stay clear from incitement and instead focus on the country and people's concerns,” said the Mustaqbal bloc. “The success of the government so far demonstrates the maturity of the political parties and their ability to adapt to various developments,” it added. The bloc also hailed the Interior Ministry for its recent decision to control the flow of Syrian refugees into Lebanon. The Interior Ministry announced on Saturday that Syrian refugees registered with the United Nations should not to return home as of June 1, warning they will lose their refugee status in Lebanon. The measure was taken three days before Syrian presidential elections. Commenting on the elections and the voting of Syrians in Lebanon, the Mustaqbal bloc questioned the “insistence of the remnants of the Syrian security regime in Lebanon on repeating the boring scenarios through exploitation and threat of Hizbullah's arms to pressure and intimidate the refugees.” “The murderous regime will not succeed in re-establishing its legitimacy that has been toppled after the resounding crimes committed by it,” it stated. Syrian expatriates streamed to their embassy in Yarze on Wednesday to vote in a controversial presidential elections, contrary to Lebanese elections that are usually held on weekends, which triggered suffocating traffic congestion, jamming work bound Lebanese citizens in their cars. The March 14 alliance strongly criticized the elections at the embassy, calling for dropping the refugee status of those whose life is not in danger and who are constantly traveling across the border. Of the estimated three million Syrians living abroad, including both refugees and peacetime residents, only around 200,000 were entitled to vote on Wednesday, in 39 embassies abroad, a foreign ministry source said in Damascus.

$16 Million in Chinese Aid for Syria Refugees in Lebanon

Naharnet/China offered $16 million in humanitarian assistance Thursday for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan as part of Beijing's growing engagement with the Arab world. The assistance will go to displaced Syrians sheltering in neighboring countries, including Jordan and Lebanon, President Xi Jinping was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency. More than 2.7 million Syrian refugees have been scattered across the region by a bloody, three-year uprising against the rule of President Bashar Assad that has devastated the country. Lebanon, home to 4.5 million people, is struggling to cope with the presence of more than a million Syrian and Palestinian refugees. Xi made the aid announcement in remarks to Arab delegates to the sixth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in Beijing, an event underscoring China's burgeoning ties with the region. Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil represented Lebanon in the forum. Calling Arab countries China's "good friends and brothers," Xi said Beijing supported a political settlement to promote peace and stability in the Middle East, Xinhua reported. It didn't say whether Xi offered any details on what a settlement might look like, but said Xi also announced nearly $10 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority. China's ties with the Middle East have expanded along with its rising diplomatic profile and growing dependence on imported crude oil. Asked about Syria at a briefing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Beijing wants all sides to cease fighting and negotiate an end to the conflict. "No matter how the situation develops in Syria, a political resolution is the only realistic way to solve the Syrian crisis. All sides should work toward that end," Hong said. Source/Associated PressNaharnet

Bou Saab: Postponing Official Exams Again is out of the Question
Naharnet/Education Minister Elias Bou Saab vowed on Thursday that the official school exams in Lebanon will be complete, especially in light of the growing number of Syrian refugees in the country. He said: “It is out of the question for the official exams to be postponed again.”He made his remarks during the launch of an Education Ministry plan aimed at ensuring that all children in Lebanon, including refugees, have access to education. “The situation is very dangerous and no country in the world can support a number of refugees that equals the size of half of its own population,” added Bou Saab.
He noted that the number of registered refugees in Lebanon is increasing by 40,000 to 50,000 per month. The ministry's plan will allow Lebanon to help the refugees on a humanitarian level, he stated. “There is a major danger when three-year-old children are unable to enroll in schools,” he commented on the state of the displaced. On Monday, the minister announced that official school exams would be postponed for five days pending a solution with the public sector employees and teachers who have threatened to boycott the exams over the parliament's failure to approve the controversial pay hike.
The Syndicate Coordination Committee on Wednesday declared a general strike at all ministries and public institutions on June 9 and 10, holding “the MPs who obstructed legislation for several months” responsible for a possible postponement of official school exams. The SCC is a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees.

Opposition Deems Assad Election Illegal as Moscow Says People Have Chosen their Future
Naharnet /Syria's exiled opposition vowed Thursday to continue its uprising against President Bashar Assad, saying his election to a new seven-year term was "illegal"."The Syrian National Coalition reaffirms that this election is illegal and does not represent the Syrian people," it said in response to Assad's landslide victory in a Tuesday election held only in government-controlled areas.
"The people are continuing in their revolution until its goals of freedom, justice and democracy are reached." The Russian Foreign Ministry meanwhile said that Syrians had chosen their country's future by voting in "legitimate" polls to reelect Assad. "It's unacceptable to ignore the opinion of millions of Syrians who... came to polling stations and made a choice in the interests of the future of the country," spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said at a televised briefing. "In Moscow the vote is seen as an important event that ensures the continued function of state institutions in Syria according to the constitution of this sovereign country," he said. "We have no basis to cast doubt on the legitimacy of these elections," Lukashevich said, while acknowledging that "in these conditions, they cannot be considered 100 percent perfect from the point of view of democratic standards.""At least Russian observers came to the conclusion that they took place in a transparent atmosphere, despite all the complex security conditions in this country, and they noted a very high turnout," added Lukashevich. Russia felt "disappointment" at the "shallow politicized reaction" to the polls from "certain international partners," the foreign ministry spokesman said.Source/Agence France Presse

500 'Qaida' Killed, Aid Needed, Says Yemen Army
Naharnet/Yemen's armed forces have killed 500 Al-Qaida suspects in an assault on their southern strongholds since the end of April, the army said, even as the network killed 14 soldiers on Thursday.
On the army said, 40 soldiers have been killed and another 100 wounded in the assault in Shabwa and Abyan provinces, during which 39 militants were captured, Colonel Saeed al-Fakeih told reporters.
"We will press on with our war against Al-Qaida, especially in the regions that (militants) fled to," he said. The army launched the offensive against Al-Qaida in Shabwa and neighboring Abyan in a bid to expel its forces from smaller towns and villages that escaped a previous sweep in 2012. Troops and militia have entered a string of towns, but analysts say their advances could be the result of a tactical retreat by militants in coordination with local tribes. The latest setback for the army came on Thursday when Al-Qaida suspects armed with automatic rifles killed 14 soldiers and a civilian in Shabwa, a security official said. Several troops were also wounded. In Sanaa, Fakeih vowed that "the army will not stand with its arms folded" in the face of the network's attacks. Acknowledging that his impoverished country "lacks the means needed to fight this global network," Fakeih urged "friends and neighbors to help Yemen in its war on terror." A "Friends of Yemen" meeting in London in April heard a call by British Foreign Secretary William Hague for donors to back Yemen's efforts to give Al-Qaida "nowhere to hide". Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) -- a merger of the network's Yemeni and Saudi branches -- is regarded by Washington as its most dangerous franchise and has been targeted in an intensifying drone war this year. Late on Wednesday, a drone strike killed three Al-Qaida suspects as they were traveling in a vehicle in the Wadi Abida area, east of Sanaa, tribal sources said. The United States is the only country operating drones over Yemen, but U.S. officials rarely acknowledge the covert operations. Around 60 suspected jihadists were killed in a wave of strikes against suspected AQAP bases and training camps in mid-April. The drone program has been defended by both the White House and Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, in the face of protests by human rights groups over civilian casualties. Taking advantage of a collapse of central authority during a 2011 uprising that forced veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh from power, Al-Qaida seized large swathes of the south and east. They remain deeply entrenched in Hadramawt province further east, where they have carried out a series of spectacular attacks in past months. On May 24, dozens of Al-Qaida militants, including suicide bombers, attacked army camps and public buildings in Hadramawt valley's main town Seiyun, killing at least 15 soldiers and police. Source/Agence France Presse

Criminal Probe over Merkel Phone Tapping, U.S. Says Issue Best Dealt with Through Diplomacy

Naharnet/Germany's federal prosecutors said Wednesday they had opened an investigation over alleged snooping on Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone by the U.S. National Security Agency in a case that has soured relations. The long-anticipated probe, which follows an explosive allegation last year that U.S. spies had eavesdropped on Merkel's mobile phone conversations in the past, is against persons unknown, chief federal prosecutor Harald Range said. "I informed parliament's legal affairs committee that I have started a preliminary investigation over tapping of a mobile phone of the chancellor," he said after addressing the committee. However, in a move that was condemned by opposition and Social Democrat lawmakers, he added that he had decided against opening an investigation into claims of wider NSA surveillance against German citizens.  The latest move may again strain ties between Washington and its key European ally, Germany, which both countries' leaders have been at pains to restore following the reports. The claims embarrassed U.S. President Barack Obama and led Merkel to comment that spying between friends is "just not done".
Her spokesman declined to comment directly Wednesday saying the federal prosecutor had taken the decision "according to the letter of the law". The government had no right to influence, nor did it exert influence, in the discussion over whether to launch the probe, Steffen Seibert told reporters. U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said German concerns over the alleged U.S. tapping of Merkel's cellphone were best dealt with through diplomatic channels. The issue had been raised directly with the German government. "So I think that's probably the most appropriate venue."
Harf said she did not have any information on whether the United States would cooperate with the German federal prosecutors' investigation.

 - 'Remarkable step' -
Data-sensitive Germans reacted with outrage to the accusations by fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, in a country where bitterness lingers about mass state spying on citizens by the Stasi secret police in former communist East Germany where Merkel grew up. "There are concrete facts which justify the suspicion of possible spying on a mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel by unknown personnel of U.S. intelligence services," a federal prosecutor's statement said. Range later said at a press conference it was not yet clear whether or when Snowden would be contacted as a witness. "We'll see whether and how," he said. But the decision to limit the probe to the allegation concerning Merkel's phone prompted criticism. "The main offence that is being discussed here, is the mass spying," Greens party lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele said. Ralf Stegner, of the SPD, Merkel's coalition partners, was also critical, citing in the online edition of Handelsblatt business daily from George Orwell's book "Animal Farm" that "all animals are equal but some are more equal than others".News weekly Spiegel said the decision was a "signal" to the Obama administration that Germany can defend itself legally.
"With all the to- and fro-ing of the last weeks, it is a remarkable step which again puts the relationship between Berlin and Washington to the test," it said in its online edition.
After the investigation by the federal prosecutor is finished, Range must still decide whether to bring charges, for example against the head of the NSA at the time of any alleged incident.
But German criminal procedure foresees proceedings being stopped in the event it could lead to a serious disadvantage for Germany. Berlin set up a parliamentary panel in April to assess the extent of spying by the NSA and its partners on German citizens and politicians, and whether German intelligence aided its activities. It has decided it wants to question Snowden -- regarded as a traitor by the U.S. administration and subject to an arrest warrant -- perhaps via video link or by sending an envoy to Russia where he has been given temporary asylum. Obama sought to quell the international furor over the reports of NSA activities, announcing in January he had halted spy taps on friendly world leaders and curtailed the reach of mass NSA phone surveillance. In an interview with a German TV channel a day later he assured Merkel that he would not let intrusive surveillance harm their relationship but that intelligence gathering on foreign governments would continue. During Merkel's visit last month to Washington, she and Obama admitted that differences remained. Source/Agence France Presse

Kerry in Lebanon: the American spectator
Thursday, 5 June 2014 /Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya
Except for the $51 million in aid to help with the Syrian refugee crisis suffocating Lebanon, there was hardly anything tangible in U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Beirut. America’s first diplomat looked more of a spectator and less of a problem solver, with glossy rhetoric unaccompanied with tools or strategy to deal with the Presidential stalemate and the Syrian crisis.
The visit that lasted five hours is the first for a U.S. secretary of state to Lebanon since five years ago. Washington opted to wait for cabinet formation in March and for the presidential deliberations to end in the Parliament on May 25 before dispatching Kerry. But while the visit was intended to reassert U.S. influence, and help end the presidential void, Kerry looked more like an observer of an increasingly complex regional and domestic situation and where the U.S. influence is quickly diminishing.
Rhetoric vs. reality
In his press conference, Kerry had a lot to say on the presidential elections in Lebanon, calling for a swift vote in the parliament that has failed so far to avoid and end the vacuum in the presidency following the departure of former President Michel Suleiman two weeks ago. The U.S. secretary of state also called for a “fully empowered” president saying “we want a Lebanon that is free from outside pressure and outside interference, and we hope that in the days ahead, rapidly it will be possible for a president to be elected by the parliament and provided to the people of Lebanon.”
“Kerry looked more like an observer of an increasingly complex regional and domestic situation and where the U.S. influence is quickly diminishing”
The above statement, which sounds great on paper, is at odds with all aspects of reality inside Lebanon today. As things stand, the presidential stalemate is only getting more convoluted, and no indications of a breakthrough are on the horizon. Communications between local actors has slowed down, and the picture regionally has only gotten more stagnated. Locally, the channel between Michel Aoun and Saad Hariri lost lot most of its momentum following the Paris meetings last month, and Aoun has introduced parliamentary elections as part of a negotiated roadmap for the presidency thus only extending the vacuum. Regionally, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif canceled his visit to Saudi Arabia, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has just inaugurated himself for a third term. Such atmospherics do not promote confidence inside Beirut, and do not drive the Lebanese parliamentarians any closer to a consensus name to take the presidency. Many link the end of the stalemate to a Saudi-Iranian rapprochement, or a Hariri-Aoun deal, yet neither is in sight.
Kerry’s expectations of a “fully empowered” president and “free from outside pressure” in Lebanon is also far from the current reality or the one in recent history. Today, the elections are more debated in outside capitals than in Beirut, and the divisions are making it almost impossible for a “strong” president to go to office. More likely than not, the next inhabitant of Baabda Palace will be someone who is consensual or a puppeteer that many sides can claim as their own.
Hezbollah and Syria
On Syria, the U.S. secretary of state surprised many in the press when calling on Hezbollah, a non-state armed actor, to “engage in the legitimate effort to bring this [Syrian] war to an end.” Kerry speaking from the Grand Serail, the same building in downtown Beirut that Hezbollah blockaded in May, 2008 said “I call on them – Iran, Russia, and I call on Hezbollah, based right here in Lebanon – to engage in the legitimate effort to bring this war to an end.”While a U.S. official clarified the comments to Al Arabiya News, saying that Kerry “ was reiterating our longstanding position that those who have influence with the Syrian regime need to use this influence to move the regime toward a negotiated political solution,” his statement turned heads in some quarters of Beirut. It was perceived as granting legitimacy to Hezbollah, elevating its role to that of Russia and Iran, and lending credibility to its armed presence in Syria. Kerry went on to call the elections in Syria, where Assad was declared winner, as “meaningless “ and “a great big zero.” Yet, to the Syrian government and its allies, the elections are vindication for Assad that he has the political cover to govern for another seven years. While Kerry is bound by the White House calculus to pin his hopes on a political solution, both Assad and Hezbollah have theirs on the realities on the ground. It’s the advantages that the Syrian regime made in the last year, as the White House was trying to persuade the Kremlin to abandon Assad, that made Assad’s voting circumstances possible. Kerry’s Beirut visit, albeit short, is a rude awakening to many in the region on the U.S. decline of influence in the Middle East. Washington is reacting and adjusting to events rather than shaping them, whether the country is Egypt, Syria, Libya, Palestinian territories or Lebanon. It is a reality that makes any rhetoric unaccompanied with strategy very irrelevant.

Lebanese call for boycott of Israeli's singer
Amir Haddad took third place on French version of The Voice and was supposed to perform with the other frontrunners in Lebanon, but once Hezbollah's mouthpiece got wind of show they called for boycott: 'His voice is beautiful, but his history reeks of occupation.'
Ran Boker, Roi Kais/Ynetnews /Published: 06.05.14,
Israeli singer Amir Haddad is in the eye of a media storm after a near win in the French version of the hit show The Voice slated him to perform in Lebanon, inspiring anger and calls by Hezbollah supporters to boycott his performance in Israel's northern neighbor. At the end of the French version of The Voice – called La plus belle voix (The Prettiest Voice) – the program's winners and leading contests embark on a tour of the French speaking world. This year, the tour was set to take the group to Lebanon. However, some in Lebanon were distraught to find out that among the troupe of singers set to arrive there was one Amir Haddad – an Israeli singer who took third place in the last season of French version of the competition, and, who like most Israelis, is a veteran of the IDF.
Hezbollah-affiliated network Al-Manar published a scathing piece on its website, which called on the Lebanese public to boycott Haddad's show and block his entrance into Lebanon.
"Soon you will be visited by an Israeli singer who has in the past served in the Israeli army for three years," the piece warned. "This time he comes to sway you with his beautiful voice, but in the past his army sounded rockets, blasts, jets and warships to you and your children." The story was given under the headline "Don’t allow Amir Haddad to sully our land." The text then continued to quote Haddad as saying he proudly represents both Israel and France, with him stressing his dual-identity and how each holds a special place in his heart. The text ended with a call to action for its anti-Israeli readers: "Lebanese! Amir Hadad is among you. His voice is beautiful, but his history reeks of occupation, settlements and blood. Expel him!" The boycott calls inspired angry responses from France's Jewish community, and, according to Haddad, from the show's production as well. "The producers were very angry at the reports," Haddad told Ynet from his home in France."He personally told me he wants to cancel the scheduled shows in France – as far as he is concerned either all of us perform or no one performs." However, Hadad said that no official statement on the issues has yet to be released. It is worth nothing, that unbeknown to Al-Manar, Haddad had not really planned to travel to Lebanon. "I have an Israel passport, I served in the army – I never planned to go there. Not to mention my wedding is planned for the same time. It is unclear to me why they chose to publish the report when they did," he said. Nonetheless, Haddad adds that it is disturbing that his army service is not public knowledge. "While I was on the program I never attempted to stress my Israeli identity. I am in a foreign country and didn't want to inspire angry responses. Now we will see what will happen. "

Opinion: Lebanon’s Hijacked Presidency
By: Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat
Thursday, 5 Jun, 2014
In an atmosphere of illusions, hopes and the calculations of defeat and victory, the presidency of Lebanon remains vacant.
The vacancy at the presidential palace can be attributed to a host of factors. First, there are Lebanese who still believe—whether wrongly or rightly—that they are free and that they have every right to accept or reject and hold accountable those who claim to be their parliamentary representatives, who, in turn, are tasked with electing the president.
Second, in Lebanon there are politicians, like former president Michel Suleiman, who are decent and respectable. They are proud of their sense of patriotism, which stops them from begging for posts from the armed factions who are the “status quo” governors. It also stops them from pandering to their regional masters who—thanks to the US administration’s deplorable passivity—have been given free rein to do whatever they want with impunity throughout the Arab Mashreq.
Third, due to both the US administration’s shameful position and the unethical support from Russia and China, these regional players today feel that they have indeed won their war, which aims to secure full control over the eastern part of the Arab world. Recent statements by Iran’s mullahs and military commanders are nothing but a culmination of the massacres their military has committed in Syria. And that is to say nothing of the disruption of state institutions and the systematic destruction of the political structures and demographic realities in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, carried out by Iran’s followers in these countries. Today, Iran is acting like a regional power that has triumphed over anyone who dared to object to its steadily growing regional dominance. Statements issued by Iran during the visit of the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al Sabah, to Tehran promoting the Shi’ite state’s agenda under the nebulous title of “confronting takfirists” confirm these feelings. In turn, remarks by British Foreign Secretary William Hague last week about the danger of “takfirists” suggest that, when it comes to tackling the Syrian file, London has adopted the perspective of Russia and Iran about prioritizing combating “takfirists” above all else.
In this context, how can one forget Obama’s masterpiece of a speech to cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point, in which he renewed his commitment to a policy of denial, procrastination and inaction? Those enthusiastic about turning the page on Bashar Al-Assad’s regime have been quite naïve, believing that “a shift” has taken place in the Obama administration. This is the same administration whose approach to the Syrian crisis over the past three years confirms it has definitively decided to do nothing. Washington has justified its position all along on the basis that the American people are tired of war. This has been the US position on the international level, but what about the situation in the Arab region? Well, it is much worse than many are prepared to admit. I assert, without exaggeration, that an Iran still capable of blackmailing and infiltrating the Arab world despite the social, economic and political problems it is facing represents conclusive evidence of our incompetence and our miscalculations.
The state of polarization marking the struggle for the presidency in Lebanon is taking place against this tragic background. The public in Lebanon have been truly shocked by the sight of thousands of Bashar Al-Assad’s supporters shouting his name and carrying his picture on their way to vote for him at the Syrian embassy in Beirut. They were shaken and upset at the realization that what they thought they had achieved in the Cedar Revolution of 2005, when the Lebanese people forced the Syrian Army to pull out of Lebanon, has been nothing but a mirage. Hezbollah has since played the role of the substitute occupying force, replacing Damascus’s former role in disrupting state institutions, monopolizing the political arena, and bringing its agents and lackeys into parliament and cabinet.
Today the Shi’ite militia, which follows the instructions of the Supreme Leader, is carrying out Tehran’s regional project down to the last detail, by undermining the election of the president and altering the country’s political demographics. Like its leadership in Tehran and its allies in Baghdad and Damascus, Hezbollah is acting like the victor who must win all the spoils of war. Hassan Rouhani—supported by Obama’s passivity—is imposing his ideological perspective on the Middle East, while Nuri Al-Maliki is manipulating Iraq’s opportunist and petty Sunni politicians, capitalizing on tensions between them in a bid to force them to submissively support his bid for a new term in office. As for Assad, he is prolonging his presidency over a country that has seen 300,000 of its people killed and over 10 million displaced.
And so we can understand the remarkable dynamics of the presidential elections in Lebanon.
The Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea started off the race to Baabda Palace by announcing his presidential candidacy, supported by the majority of those opposed to the Iran–Syria axis, the March 14 Alliance. But, as expected, the backing he received was insufficient to secure him the presidency. In order to prevent the required quorum for a vote being secured, lawmakers from the rival March 8 Alliance boycotted subsequent parliamentary sessions, justifying their move on the pretext of their rejection of a “defiance” candidate, as they perceive Geagea to be.
Until this point, this political interaction sounds somewhat reasonable. What is really bizarre, however, is the March 8 Alliance’s promotion of Michel Aoun, the leader of the pro-Hezbollah Free Patriotic Movement, as a “consensus candidate.” If there were ever a Lebanese politician who has always opposed “consensus,” it is Aoun. Ever since he stormed onto the Lebanese political scene in 1988, Aoun has been launching attacks on friends and foes alike. He even rejected the inter-Lebanese consensus promulgated in the Taif Agreement. The political game Aoun and his backers are trying to play aims at handing Lebanon over to the status quo power, represented by Hezbollah and its co-sponsors in the “alliance of minorities.”
Geagea already knew he would not succeed in his presidential bid, but he wanted to put his reluctant allies in the March 14 Alliance in a “fait accompli” situation. So he stood for the presidency and then refused to leave the arena even when it became clear that he would not secure the required number of votes. Following this, after Aoun’s supporters intensified their talk of ongoing “consultations” with the objective of securing an “understanding” with Future Movement leader Saad Hariri, Geagea himself traveled to France to meet with Hariri. What happened during this meeting was also striking.
I think the true objective of Geagea’s decision to maintain his presidential bid is to block any kind of settlement that the international community may impose on the Lebanese as whole, and on Saad Hariri in particular. Thus, the similar positions of Geagea and that of Walid Jumblatt—though from different perspectives—represent the last guarantee against Lebanon descending into absolute subordination to the scenario that Iran is seeking to construct in the region.

Kerry in Beirut promotes US engagement with pro-Iranian Hizballah terrorists, after Hamas
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 5, 2014/Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Beirut Wednesday June 4 was part and parcel of the new turn in Obama administration policy, which is to start engaging directly with Arab governments backed by pro-Iranian terrorist organizations like the Lebanese Hizballah and Palestinian Hamas. The first visit to Beirut in five years by a US secretary of state came two days after Washington rushed to accept and continue funding the Hamas-backed Palestinian government installed in Ramallah.
On his arrival in Lebanon, Kerry made some awkward comments:

"We do not recognize the government of Palestine – that would mean we recognize a state." He added that the US will continue to work with the new Palestinian unity government "as we need to" and will monitor daily its policies to ensure it "doesn't cross the line."A leading member of the Lebanese government is Hizballah, which is classied in the US as a terrorist organization. By talking with prime minister Tammam Salam, Kerry articulated the new rule: Washington will maintain ties with a government, whether in Beirut or Ramallah, so long as it “doesn’t cross the line.”At the same time, the US Secretary delivered into the hands of the Lebanese government a half billion dollar check for the Syrian refugees sheltering in Lebanon, ignoring the fact that its member, Hizballah, has crossed many lines by fighting for President Bashar Assad in the Syria civil war, and the death and destruction Hizballah helped inflict had put those refugees to flight.
But Kerry avoided defining the lines that must not be crossed and saying how the administration would respond if they were.
Talking to journalists later, Kerry himself crossed a line to new ground, when he said:
"Iran, Russia and Hizballah must engage in a legitimate effort to bring this war to an end,”
This was the first time a US Secretary of State has explicitly invited Hizballah, whose forces are fighting in Syrian under Iranian command, to be part of the quest for a political resolution of the Syrian war and accepted the Moscow-Tehran-Beirut axis as a critical partner in this effort. Up until now, Kerry insisted in leaving Iran and Hizballah out of US discussions with Moscow on the Syrian crisis.
Senior sources in Jerusalem sharply criticized Washington’s embrace of the most violent and radical of Middle East terrorist organizations. They saw no difference between the openness to Iran and Hizballah exhibited by Kerry in Beirut and the administration's readiness to do business with the Palestinian unity government backed to the hilt by Hamas.
According to those sources, by Thursday morning June 5, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had determined to go head-on against the new Obama administration line with a confrontation in the US Congress over its support for the Palestinian unity government. Netanyahu will seek, with the aid of the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby, to get a law passed banning the continued transfer of US financial aid of approximately $500,000 a year to the Ramallah government, over its backing by the Hamas terrorist organization.
debkafile's sources in Washington don’t expect this move to succeed. Even if the both houses of Congress enact such legislation - and that is doubtful - the president has enough legal and administrative resources to circumvent it.