Excerpts: Lebanon National Dialogue agrees on Syria. Conflict re Egyptian
constitution plans. Saudi to add agriculture to its foreign investments.
China's influence on Iran. New U.N. political affairs chief.Jumblat admits
conspiring with Syria, Iran June 12, 2012
+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 12 June '12:"Lebanon rivals agree on Syria", Agence
SUBJECT: Lebanon's National Dialogue agrees on Syria
QUOTE:"The political leaders agreed to keep 'Lebanon from turning into a
proxy of regional and international conflicts"
FULL TEXTT:BEIRUT — Rival leaders in Lebanon agreed on Monday [11 June]that
the country must not become a base for smuggling arms and insurgents into
Syria while rejecting the idea of a buffer zone between the two countries.
The political leaders agreed to keep "Lebanon from turning into a proxy of
regional and international conflicts", according to a statement issued by
President Michel Sleiman's office following a National Dialogue meeting.
Sleiman had urged the resumption of the talks, suspended for the past 18
months, in light of deadly sectarian clashes linked to the uprising in
The statement stressed stability must be maintained along the shared border
and that neither a "buffer zone" nor a "base or corridor for the smuggling
of weapons and insurgents" would be tolerated.
Syria's government has accused some Lebanese opposition parties of financing
rebel forces and smuggling arms to them.
The opposition Syrian National Council has repeatedly accused Damascus of
breaching the border with Lebanon and of launching attacks against Lebanese
citizens and Syrian refugees alike.
Participants at the National Dialogue meeting described the atmosphere of
the talks as positive.
However, key opposition member, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea,
boycotted on grounds the talks were futile and unlikely to address the
weapons of Hizbollah, which is backed by Iran and Syria.
The subject of the arsenal of the Shiite group Hizbollah, considered the
most powerful military force in the country, was not broached during the
The National Dialogue was launched in 2006 but has been adjourned repeatedly
because of successive political crises and has yet to resolve the thorny
issue of Hizbollah's weapons.
Lebanon's political parties are deeply divided over the 15-month revolt in
Syria, with the Western-backed opposition supporting the uprising and
Hizbollah, which plays a key role in the government, backing the regime of
President Bashar Al Assad.
Hizbollah considers its weapons to be a legitimate defence against Israel,
whereas the opposition believes that the state should have the monopoly on
arms and decisions concerning war and peace.
The next session of the National Dialogue has been scheduled for June 25
+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 112 Junw '12:"Rift widens over plans for new
Egyptian constitution", Reuters
SUBJECT: Conflict re Egyptian constitution plans
QUOTE:"tussle between Islamist parties which dominate the parliament and
FULL TEXT:CAIRO — A group of liberal and leftist political parties decided
on Monday[11 June] to forego their seats in the assembly that will write
Egypt’s new constitution, in protest at what they called the
over-representation of Islamists in the body.
Islamists hit back, saying the group had gone back on an agreement concluded
The row cast a new shadow over a process that has been held up since April
by a tussle between the Islamist parties which dominate parliament and other
Criticising the blueprint for the division of the seats in the 100-member
body due to be picked on Tuesday[12 June], groups including the liberal Free
Egyptians Party said they would not take part at all and instead would hand
their seats to women, Christians, workers, peasants and others — sections of
society they said had been denied representation.
Pressure from the ruling military council on the parties to overcome their
differences resulted last week in what appeared to be an agreement on how
the assembly should be formed.
The deadlock over the constitutional assembly has held up a central element
of the transition to civilian rule mapped out by the military council that
assumed power from Hosni Mubarak on February 11, 2011.
The new constitution will replace the one that underpinned Mubarak’s three
decades in power. Up for debate are crucial questions such as the extent of
presidential powers and whether the parliament might be given new authority.
The generals are due to hand power to a new head of state on July 1. The
identity of the new president will be decided on Saturday and Sunday by a
run-off vote between Ahmed Shafiq, Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, and
Mohammed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate.
In a statement, the liberal and leftist parties said an initial agreement to
divide the 100 seats equally between Islamist parties and non-Islamist
groups masked a different reality.
They had subsequently found out that two Islamist parties had been included
in the quota of seats set aside for leftist and liberals, together with the
state’s main Islamic and Christian institutions.
The signatories “held the military council responsible for the erroneous
path that led us to this crisis”, the statement said.
“We also hold the Muslim Brotherhood responsible for resolving this crisis
which escalated because of the Brotherhood’s insistence on domination and
rejection of consensus.”
Islamists said that liberals were the ones who had overturned the agreement
they approved earlier.
“We haven’t breached any agreement... clearly they agreed on something then
changed their minds and want to backtrack and they have no right to
backtrack,” Sayed Khalifa, an MP from Al Nour Party, said during a session
on Monday[11 June].
The Muslim Brotherhood and Al Nour, a more hardline Salafist Islamist group,
won some 70 per cent of the seats in the upper and lower houses of
parliament in elections that ran from November to February.
Under Egypt’s interim system of government, the Islamists’ strength in
parliament gave them a big say over the shape of the constitutional
Non-Islamists accused them of exploiting their position to squeeze others
out of the body and filed a lawsuit that resulted in the process being
Both chambers of parliament are set to hold a joint meeting to choose
members of the assembly
+++SOURCE: Saudi Gazette 12 June '12: "(Saudi) Cabinet okays agro
SUBJECT: Saudi to add agriculture to its foreign investments
QUOTE: "Saudi investors have got the go-ahead to invest abroad in the field
EXCERPT:JEDDAH — Saudi investors have got the go-ahead to invest abroad in
the field of agriculture as part of King Abdullah’s initiative. This was
decided at a meeting of the Council of Ministers here Monday[11 June]. King
Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, chaired the meeting.
The Cabinet laid down certain parameters for the purpose which include the
provision of credit facilities and easy financing by the Agricultural
Development Fund. Other conditions are:
* Strict abidance by King Abdullah’s initiative for agricultural investment
* The investor is required to provide a comprehensive feasibility study for
the proposed projects prepared by a specialist consultation body which
should have knowledge about investment in the targeted country.
* The size of financing should not exceed 60 percent of the total investment
mentioned in the feasibility study.
* The Saudi investor should have the right as per the laws of the host
country to export at least 50 percent of his produce to the Kingdom’s
* An investor should be able to benefit from agricultural equipment owned by
local farmers in the host country
+++SOURCE: Saudi Gazette 12 June '12:"Is China upping the pressure on
SUBJECT: China's influence on Iran
QUOTE:"Iran has become extremely reliant on Beijing [oil]purchases"
FULL TEXT:While China’s support for the Assad regime in Syria remains
largely passive, merely backing Russia’s active championing of Damascus,
Beijing is in fact taking a subtle interventionist role in Iran.
President Hu Jintao used a regional summit in the Chinese capital, attended
by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to urge the Iranian president, in a private meeting,
to be “more flexible and pragmatic” over the issue of Iran’s nuclear
Private though the encounter may have been, on the sidelines of the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization summit, official Chinese media quickly broadcast
details of Hu’s call. Beijing does not want to see a nuclear-armed Iran.
Given that its ungrateful and unstable ally North Korea, has supplied the
Iranians with equipment to enrich uranium, as part of the nuclear
device-making process, Beijing is probably in a good position to know
precisely what the Iranians are up to.
China has rejected US sanctions against Tehran and is now the major buyer of
Iranian crude. This, it may feel, has boosted its leverage. With the
weakening oil price expected to produce a 39 percent drop in its oil
revenues, Iran has become extremely reliant on Beijing’s purchases, to stave
off a worsening of its existing economic crisis. Yet with their own economy
slowing, the Chinese are no longer desperate for oil and could probably, if
need be, reduce or even stop altogether liftings of Iranian crude. Such a
move would be a body blow to Iran.
Therefore, it might be expected that the country’s rulers will have listened
carefully to Beijing’s advice. Yet it is clear that regime hardliners are
still in the ascendency. After promising signals from the Iranians, the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, has
had to report that “no progress” has been made in negotiations that would
allow inspectors unfettered access to all the country’s nuclear sites,
including that at Parchin, which is suspected to be at the heart of a
nuclear weapons program.
Yet even after this bleak finding, the Iranians continue to protest that
their research is entirely peaceful and insist that they will do everything
in their power to prove this. One might therefore think, given the
circumstances, that the Iranian leaders were oddly powerless. Opening up
their nuclear facilities, in the way that every other country in the world
except Israel and North Korea have done, to prove there is no weapons
program, ought to be the simplest thing to do.
Next week the Iranians go to Moscow, for yet more talks with the six powers,
China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and USA. Will these talks once more
prove a pointless diplomatic dance and ratchet up further the possibility of
an Israeli or US preemptive strike against Tehran’s nuclear facilities? Or
will some behind-the-scenes arm-twisting by Chinese envoys between now and
then, have persuaded the Iranians to honor their international obligations
under nuclear nonproliferation agreements? At which point, the international
spotlight would be free to swing on to Israel.
+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 12 June '12:"U.N. Names U.S. Diplomat Feltman
as New Political Chief",Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: New U.N. political affairs chief
QUOTE: Feltman speaks Arabic, French and Hungarian and has previously been
U.S. ambassador to Lebanon"
FULL TEXT:U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon on Monday[11 June] named Jeffrey Feltman,
the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, as his new political affairs
Feltman has just stood down as U.S. assistant secretary of state for near
eastern affairs. In his new position he will help form U.N. policy and
mediation efforts on the Middle East peace process and other conflicts.
He takes over as head of the political affairs department from another
American diplomat, B. Lynn Pascoe.
Feltman speaks Arabic, French and Hungarian and has previously been U.S.
ambassador to Lebanon.
+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 12 June '12:"Jumblat Reportedly Admitted to
Conspiring with Syria, Iran Against Hariri "
SUBJECT: Jumblat admits conspiring with Syria, Iran
QUOTE:"On Hizbullah's weapons, Jumblat rejected linking them to the
FULL TEXT:Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat has admitted that
he conspired with Syria and Iran against a Qatari-Turkish initiative,
forcing the collapse of ex-Premier Saad Hariri’s government in early 2011,
media reports said Tuesday[12June].
“I carried out the coup along with Premier (Najib) Miqati,” Jumblat told 16
leaders meeting at Baabda palace under President Michel Suleiman at the
national dialogue session. “We conspired with Syria and Iran against the
“I don’t regret the coup because it was aimed at averting strife,”
newspapers that hit the newsstands on Tuesday[12 June] quoted him as saying.
The PSP chief reiterated that he is a centrist and advised both the
opposition and the majority to end their support for two rival neighborhoods
in the northern city of Tripoli.
“I am neither with March 14 nor with March 8 and both teams should stop
funding and arming Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen to avert sedition,”
Majority Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh residents and mostly Alawite Jabal Mohsen
have engaged in gunfights that left several people dead. The clashes were
seen as a spillover of the Syrian crisis to Lebanon.
On Hizbullah’s weapons, Jumblat rejected linking them to the Arab-Israeli
conflict and putting them in defense of Iran.
“We have previously agreed during the dialogue that was led by Speaker Nabih
Berri in 2006 to put the arms in defense of Lebanon,” he stressed.
In remarks to An Nahar daily published Tuesday, Jumblat said the national
dialogue session was “very good.”
He hailed Suleiman on his suggestions but lamented that some officials
continue to hold onto the past.
“We should find solutions to several problems that force us to adopt a
policy of keeping Lebanon at a distance” from the Syrian crisis, he said,
adding “what’s happening in Tripoli and the North is a very dangerous alarm
Northern Lebanon has also been shaken by tit-for-tat sectarian abductions
raising more fears that the unrest in Syria would expand Tripoli’s
instability to other areas.
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA