Race between Shiite-Maronite meeting … and broad Christian meeting in Bkirki
Conflict of priorities between Aoun, Hezbollah as Rai suggests neutral [figure to head] Judicial Council
The Cabinet will meet Wednesday and mull over a draft 2012 state budget law. Ministers will also discuss subsidizing fuel oil during the months of January and February.
While Bkirki prepares to host a wide-scale Maronite meeting Friday, Hezbollah remains adamant about holding a meeting that would group Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri as well as MPs Michel Aoun and Suleiman Franjieh.
MP Talal Arslan and the Tashnaq are trying to join the meeting designed to:
1- Reach agreement on a figure to head the Higher Judicial Council (Judge Tannous Mashlab), an understanding on not obstructing the electricity and water projects put forward by Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc.
2- Settle the dispute between ministers Ali Hasan Khalil and Charbel Nahhas over health cards, coordination regarding the 2012 state budget.
3- Coordination between the finance committee and other committees regarding the 2012 state budget to prevent conflict.
4- Approach the draft election law from a 2013 parliamentary election results’ angle, given that these elections will produce a council that would in turn elect a new head of state.
Political sources close to Christian groups said preparatory meetings by the political aides of Berri, Nasrallah and Aoun are aimed at investigating the benefits of holding a Maronite-Shiite meeting either before or after the Maronite meeting in Bkirki.
Cabinet ignores teachers’ strike, refers wage decree to Shura [Council]
As the Union Coordination Committee (UCC) said it was adamant on holding a strike Thursday after Cabinet referred the wage amendment to the Shura Council, the situation in south Lebanon continued to be the center of attention with various sides warning about the dangers of what is going on there.
President Michel Sleiman said Tuesday he was concerned about the situation in Lebanon and called on politicians to tone down their political rhetoric.
The UCC, in a statement, expressed surprise at decision by Cabinet to refer pay hikes to the Shura Council and thus ignoring their demands.
It called on teachers in public and private schools as well as technical and vocational institutions and public employees to join the strike planned for Thursday. The UCC also called for a massive turnout in Thursday’s demonstration outside the Grand Serail.
Geagea holds Hezbollah responsible for attack on UNIFIL … an embarrassed Berri invokes ‘trinity’ magic
South Lebanon continued to be a focal point as the two messages – the explosive that targeted UNIFIL and the rocket that landed in Houla – put Lebanon in the midst of the storm as is the case in Syria.
Some leaders tossed the ball into Hezbollah’s court as fears mounted about turning Lebanon into a new arena for conflict.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said given that Hezbollah alone is present on the ground in the south, it bears responsibility for the attack on the U.N. peacekeepers.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, in turn, described the security incidents in the south as a “message” from Syrian President Bashar Assad “through his men in Lebanon.”
Meanwhile, political sources said remarks made by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri following a meeting with UNIFIL commander Alberto Asarta in Ain al-Tineh Tuesday were seen as an attempt to escape from the crisis caused by the lack of security in the south.
Berri has said that the security incidents in south Lebanon target the “trinity: people, army and resistance.”
The sources told Al-Mustaqbal that Berri’s attempt to show that this “trinity” is being targeted was a sign of weakness and not strength.
Resistance accomplishments acknowledged by U.S.
Homes of the majority [camp]: Coordination under test
While the security situation in the south remained open to different readings and conclusions, Cabinet held a clam meeting Tuesday after the relationship between some in the majority camp improved following a lengthy and honest meeting between the two Khalils and Energy Minister Jibran Bassil.
As-Safir has learned that the meeting between Speaker Nabih Berri’s political assistant, Ali Hasan Khalil, and the political aide to Nasrallah, Hajj Hussein Khalil and Bassil was “fruitful” in terms of bringing the majority together.
The meeting also produced what looked like a roadmap for raising the level of coordination within the majority team. It also aimed at activating the government’s productivity.
Meanwhile, revelations made by Hezbollah regarding CIA work in Lebanon continued to draw U.S. reactions.
American circles acknowledged that the name of the CIA station chief in Beirut [as provided by Hezbollah] is accurate, which strengthens the credibility of the resistance’s claims and demonstrates that the group has dealt the CIA a severe blow.