|Kerry Not Sure if Hariri's Support of Aoun Will Lead to New President|
|[An Nahar] U.S. Secretary of State expressed caution on Friday regarding the possibility of electing a new president in in the near future, a day after ex-PM formally endorsed founder MP for the presidency.|
In response to a 's question during Washington talks with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah, Kerry hoped there will be progress in but noted that he is not sure about the outcome of Hariri's move.
"This stalemate on the issue of the presidency is hurting and hurts the region and we hope it will move forward," Kerry added.
bloc MP George Adwan later tweeted that Kerry's statements "prove that the presidential juncture is Lebanese par excellence," noting that "his skepticism increases Aoun's chances."
In a speech on Thursday, Hariri described his decision to endorse Aoun as a "major political risk" that he is willing to take for the sake of the country.
has been without a president since the term of ended in May 2014 and , Aoun's Change and Reform bloc and some of their allies have been boycotting the parliament's electoral sessions, stripping them of the needed quorum.
|Geagea Says Hizbullah Does Not Want Aoun as President|
|[An Nahar] leader stressed Wednesday that does not want presidential elections in the current period or the election as president of its main Christian ally, founder MP "At the strategic level, Hizbullah cannot coexist with a real state in ... and at the tactical level Hizbullah does not want General Aoun as president, although it cannot afford to lose him, which has pushed it to obstruct the presidential vote," Geagea said in an interview with Russia Today TV.|
"This way it does not lose Aoun and it postpones the problem," Geagea added.
On Monday, Hizbullah chief accused the LF of seeking to stir a dispute between Hizbullah and the FPM.
"If we head to parliament, it is known that =Aoun will not be elected," Nasrallah noted, dismissing LF calls in this regard.
"Our relation with (Speaker Nabih) Berri is not based on coercion and we are ethically committed to supporting Aoun's nomination," Nasrallah added.
has been without a president since the term of ended in May 2014 and the FPM, Hizbullah and some of their allies have been boycotting the electoral sessions.
Al- movement leader ex-PM launched late in 2015 a proposal to nominate chief MP Suleiman Franjieh for the presidency but his suggestion was rejected by the country's main Christian parties as well as Hizbullah.
In January, Geagea announced his support for Aoun's presidential bid after the LF and the FPM signed a rapprochement agreement described as a "declaration of intent."
|Berri Urges Hizbullah to Elect Franjieh as President|
|[An Nahar] Speaker has urged to settle for the election of Marada leader MP Suleiman Franjieh as president in light of the unlikelihood of their candidate MP to reach the post, al-Akhbar daily reported on Saturday.|
"Berri held contacts with Hizbullah a few days ago and has explained his point view on the need to expedite the election of Franjieh before the Saudi-Iranian dialogue kicks off in order to help a candidate of the to win the post" sources close to the Speaker said on condition of anonymity.
"Berri has urged Hizbullah not to waste the opportunity at the time being since it is impossible for the Change and Reform bloc chief Aoun to win the seat," they added.
But the sources confirmed that Hizbullah is adamant to continue supporting Aoun as their sole candidate.
has been without a president since the term of president ended in May 2014.
Conflicts among the rival March 8 and March 14 camps thwarted all attempts aiming at electing a successor.
In addition to Aoun and Franjieh, MP Henri Helou is a nominee of the Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Franjieh was nominated by the al- movement chief late last year.
|Lahoud: We Must Defend Lebanon Whenever Being under Attack|
|[ALMANAR.LB] Former Lebanese President Emile Lahoud stressed on Monday that " did not abandon the Arab consensus, but Arabs abandoned it as they are working to reach consensus on Israel," attributing the reason of Saudi escalating policies towards to the losses of Kingdom in the Syrian battlefield.|
During an interview with Al-Manar TV channel, President Lahoud pointed out that Saudis wanted to deliver a message to the Lebanese people that the existence of their country depends on its sponsorship, stating that whenever there is an attack on , the Lebanese people must defend themselves and not distance themselves.
Lahoud expressed beliefs that the root problem of the region is 'Israel', which is plotting conspiracies sponsored by the United States within the Persian Gulf states, and implemented by the so-called ' of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL) group.
"The outline is made by Israel and the executioners are some regional states with the help of Washington, whose foreign policy is influenced by the Zionist lobby," the ex-President said, adding that the United States wanted to topple Syrian as a punishment for his stand with the resistance against Israel.
"His [Assad's] stance rescued , especially Christians who are being exterminated in the region at the hands of ISIL and other terrorist groups," he said.
He noted that the first loser in Syria will be 'Israel', which is trying to compensate for its defeat by provoking sedition in .
"If the Saudi claims about fighting ISIL were true, so why they would have stopped the aid to the army that is fighting terrorist groups?" Lahoud asked in reference to halting the Saudi 'grant' promised for , stressing that those terrorist groups are being supported by the countries that halted aid to the Lebanese army.
" is confused today, therefore it is behaving this illogic in , while the Lebanese politicians who are walking the Saudi path receive monthly salaries from the Kingdom, while the Saudi aid for is being allocated for the leaders and not for the impoverished people in the North, Akkar and other poor regions.
|Rival Lebanese Christian leaders hold rare meeting|
|[ENGLISH.ALARABIYA.NET] 's two main Christian politicians held their first meeting in years on Tuesday, an effort to find common ground among civil wartime enemies whose rivalry has helped obstruct the election of a new president.|
and , who fought each other in the dying years of the 1975-90 civil war, are both candidates for the Lebanese presidency that has been vacant since 's term expired a year ago.
The post is reserved for a Maronite Christian according to the country's sectarian power-sharing system.
Their meeting at Aoun's house in Rabieh north of Beirut seems unlikely to yield a breakthrough: agreement on a new
president is widely seen as requiring a broader deal backed by rival regional states Iran and .
The leaders issued a joint statement calling for the election of "a strong president" accepted by the Christian community and capable of reassuring 's other sects.
The presidential vacuum is part of a wider crisis fuelled by the war in neighbouring Syria that has paralysed much of the state and triggered spasms of deadly violence.
A government formed in February 2013 with Saudi-Iranian blessing has spared from a complete vacuum in the executive arm. But that government has struggled to take even basic decisions. Parliament barely functions.
|Leb Security Forces Boost Measures near Egypt's Embassy over ISIL Threats|
|[AnNahar] Security measures have been boosted near the Egyptian embassy in Beirut's Bir Hassan area after receiving threats from the of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).|
Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq confirmed in comments published in al- newspaper on Thursday the threats.
"The Egyptian embassy informed the ministry in an official letter that it received threats from ISIL," Mashnouq pointed out, saying: "The concerned security apparatuses took precautionary measures near the mission's building."
On Wednesday, Egyptian Interior Minister Magdi Abdel Ghaffer warned in a speech that his nation is facing an "existential war" in its battle against "terrorist groups."
Speaking to a meeting of Arab interior ministers in Algeria, Ghaffar stressed that the danger posed by ISIL has escalated after local-area terror groups pledged allegiance to the organization.
The Sinai-based and similar local groups in Libya are now linked to ISIL, with Ansar having since changed name to "Sinai Province."
Egypt proposed creating a joint Arab force to preserve Arab national security.
He called on the political arch-foes to immediately elect a new head of state to safeguard the country.
Asked if his country will engage in a dialogue with , Zayed said that Egypt is open to any positive stance by the Lebanese rivals.
"Egypt welcomed the dialogue between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal Movement... the foreign ministry issued a statement that supports (Speaker Nabih) Berri's efforts to defuse tension," he remarked.
He stressed that "the success of dialogue would end the presidential vacuum."
Hizbullah kickstarted in December dialogue with al-Mustaqbal Movement under the auspices of Speaker in Ain el-Tineh.
President 's term ended in May without the election of a successor. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps have thwarted the polls.
|Hezbollah faces internal criticism in Lebanon|
|[Ynet] Senior Lebanese officials say Nasrallah is dragging the country into another war in Israel; 'Hezbollah has no right to implicate the Lebanese people in a battle with Israel,' says leader of March 14 Alliance.|
While some in and in Beirut's Dahieh suburb, a Hezbollah stronghold, fired shots of jubilation into the air, celebrating Hezbollah's Wednesday attack on Mt. Dov, s in were quick to accuse Hassan Nasrallah's organization of trying to drag the country into another war with Israel.
"Where is the interest of if it gets dragged into a war with Israel, when Israel is the one that needs it?" former Lebanese president wrote on his Facebook page.
, one of the leaders of the March 14 Alliance, said that "today's development indicates that Hezbollah is more and more expanding its regional schemes against the Lebanese state."
"Hezbollah has no right to implicate the Lebanese people in a battle with Israel. There is a government and a parliament which can decide on that," Geagea went on to say.
Hezbollah has been facing a lot of internal criticism in over the past three years, mostly due to its constantly increasing involvement in the civil war in Syria. Two years ago, Hezbollah sent large forces to Syria to help 's army recapture territories it lost to rebels trying to oust the Syrian president, after it appeared Assad was losing his grasp on Syria.
Since Hezbollah joined the fighting in Syria, has turned into a target for attacks by Sunni rebels - some more moderate than others - as well as attacks by al-Qaeda and the , both Sunni organizations opposing the Assad regime.
Dozens of Lebanese people - both soldiers and civilians - have been killed in these attacks, which include s and rocket fire, while Hezbollah has been accused of dragging into a war it has no stake in.
Like Syria, is a complicated and tangled web of religions and sects which includes Christians, Druze and s. There's a variety of sects - Sunni, Shi'ite and Alawites.
itself was torn to shreds in a civil war that claimed the lives of thousands between the years 1975-1990. Many in the country fear that Hezbollah's involvement in Syria will lead to another civil war, mostly between Sunni and Shi'ites. Many rounds of fighting between Sunni and Shi'ite have already taken place in several Lebanese cities, particularly in Tripoli, since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.
Officials in of the consequences of any Hezbollah response to the attack in Quneitra even before Wednesday's attack, especially in light of the crisis the country faces - including attacks by Islamic State and Jabhat a as well as matters of internal politics.
|Lebanon parliament fails again to elect new president|
|The Lebanese parliament failed Tuesday for the tenth consecutive time to elect a new president to replace incumbent president Michel Suleiman because of lack of the required quorum.|
Speaker Nabih Berri called for a new session to be held on September 2, after no one won two thirds of the parliament as required by the constitution.
The western-backed March 14 alliance is backing head of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea as candidate for the post, while the Syrian-Iranian backed March 8 camp has not declared the candidacy of any of its components as MP Michel Aoun, one of its prominent leaders, insist on running to the post as a consensual candidate.
Centrist Democratic Gathering leader MP Walid Jumblatt announced the candidacy of the Gathering member MP Henri Helou.
Because of the sharp division among the political forces in the parliament, the presidential elections have failed so far on none occasions to conclude as the constitution requires the presence of two thirds of the 128-member parliament which is far from being achieved.
Since May 25, the government of Prime Minister Tammam Salam is running the country according to a constitutional article that stipulates that in the absence of a president, the cabinet will take charge of the post until the election of a new president.
|Israeli Troops Point Guns at Lebanese Army Border Post|
|[AnNahar] Israeli soldiers on Wednesday pointed their weapons at a Lebanese Army post near the Fatima border gate as other troops opened fire towards a Lebanese citizen.|
Twenty Israeli soldiers "loaded their individual weapons and pointed them towards an army post at the Fatima gate, hurling insults at its troops," a Lebanese Army statement said.
Separately, Israeli troops stationed at the Roweisat al-Alam post in the occupied Kfarshouba Hills "threw a smoke grenade and opened fire towards a Lebanese citizen who was grazing his flock inside Lebanese territory, 150 meters from the Blue Line," the statement said.
Last week, President asked Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil to file a complaint with the U.N. Security Council over recent Israeli violations.
Israeli military aircraft violate the Lebanese airspace on near daily basis while manned patrols frequently cross the U.N.-demarcated Blue Line on the border between the two countries.
Several Lebanese shepherds have also been by Israeli troops in recent months before being released shortly after interrogation.
|Report: Qahwaji Heads to Saudi before Month's End to Sign Army Grant Protocol|
|[AnNahar] Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji will travel to before the end of the month to follow up on the kingdom's grant to the Lebanese army, reported As Safir newspaper on Saturday.|
It said that he should head to Saudi Arabia before the end of May in order to sign the protocol linked to Riyadh's grant to the army.
Widely-informed sources told the daily that he will head to the kingdom at the head of a military delegation.
President unveiled the three billion dollar grant in late December.
It is aimed at purchasing French weapons for the Lebanese army as soon as possible.
Qahwaji had traveled to Saudi Arabia and in January in order to discuss the grant.
Officials concerned with Lebanese affairs in the French administration told Naharnet on January 20 that the Saudi donation will include weaponry used for military and security sources to enable troops to face terrorist and security challenges in the country, and arms and equipment to monitor the border.
|Army Arrests 14 as Tripoli Security Plan Gets Underway|
|[An Nahar] The army deployed heavily on Tuesday in the northern city ofas it started implementing a security plan established by the government to end violence in the area, as President urged officials to deal firmly with all who violate the peace.|
|Suleiman Urges Arabs to Share Number of Syrian Refugees, Support Lebanon's Neutrality|
"We urge convincing the largest number of Arab countries to share the burden and the number of Syrian refugees," Suleiman said in a speech he gave at the Arab Summit in the Kuwaiti capital.
Suleiman emphasized on the necessity of hosting refugees in safe regions inside Syria, stressing that cannot bear the refugees' crisis on its territories.
"The long-term negative consequences on 's economy require many years of care and follow-up," he noted.
The influx of nearly one million Syrian refugees, according to U.N. figures, has swollen 's population by 25 percent since the war broke out across the border in March 2011.
The forecasts that registered refugees in could reach 1.5 million by the end of the year.
The president also called on Arab nations to continue supporting in all fields, particularly urging them to "encourage the different factions to commit to neutralizing , control the border with Syria, and draw an end to Israeli violations."
"Amid the current challenges, an international support committee was formed to help and we have reached several conclusions that enable us to face the refugees' crisis," Suleiman said.
He continued: "The committee also called for disassociating from regional turmoil and implementing the Baabda Declaration."
"We also agreed on new policies to support the army and we welcome the exceptional Saudi donation to the military institution."
Suleiman described the situation in Syria as the "worst misery since World War II."
" is concerned with the developments in Syria and we are keen on supporting dialogue and communication to reach a political solution in the country," he said.
"We want a solution that ends the worst misery since WWII, that helps in releasing the kidnapped, on top of them the two bishops, and a solution that preserves the rights of all Syrians without any foreign meddling," he added.
Suleiman also demanded increasing the financial support given to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), to strengthen its support to the Paleostinian refugees in the country.
"We also call for financial aid to continue rebuilding the (northern) Nahr al-Bared refugee camp," he said.
Separately, Suleiman pledged "to work on holding the presidential elections according to 's democratic traditions."