Excerpts:Egypt's military consolidates powers. Russia sending 2 warships to
their Syrian coast naval base. Syria spillover threatens Lebanon June 18,
+++SOURCE: Egyptian Gazette 18 June '12:"Egypt military to oversee laws,
budget", Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: Egypt's military consolidates powers
QUOTE:"Egypt's rulinng military council is to stay in control of legislation
and the budget in the absence of a parliament"
FULL TEXT:CAIRO - Egypt's ruling military council is to stay in control of
legislation and the budget in the absence of a parliament, even as the
country prepares to announce a new president, military sources told AFP
Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt's ruling military
council The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took power
when president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in an uprising last year, is set to
issue an amended constitutional declaration, consolidating its powers just
hours before Egypt wraps up a divisive presidential election to pick
Military sources say article 56 of the declaration will be amended to give
legislative powers and state budget to the SCAF, following a ruling by
Egypt's top court that the Islamist-led parliament is invalid.
The SCAF had in January handed legislative power to parliament.
The SCAF will also issue new rules under article 60 for the formation of the
constituent assembly that is to draft the country's permanent constitution.
A new panel was recently picked by the house to do so following its earlier
dissolution amid accusations of an Islamist monopoly.
Article 30 of the declaration will also be amended to say that the new
president will be sworn in before the Supreme Constitutional Court instead
of by the lower house of parliament.
Egyptians were voting on Sunday[17 June] in the final day of a presidential
election pitting Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafiq against Mohammed
Mursi of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood.
+++Report: Russian Sending 2 Warships to Syrian Coast
SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 18 June'12:" Report: Russian Sending 2 Warships
to Syrian Coast", Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: Russia sending 2 warships to their Syrian coast naval base
QUOTE:"the ships could be used to evacuate Russian nationals"
FULL textRussia is preparing to send two amphibious assault ships to the
Syrian port of Tartus where Moscow operates a strategic naval base to ensure
safety of its nationals, the Interfax news agency reported Monday[18 June].
"Two major amphibious ships -- The Nikolai Filchenkov and The Tsezar
Kunikov -- are preparing to be dispatched to Tartus outside of their
schedule," the Russian news agency quoted an unidentified officer from the
Russian naval headquarters as saying.
The two ships will carry a "large" group of marines, Interfax added. There
was no official confirmation of the report from the navy or the defense
The Tsezar Kunikov can carry 150 landing troops and various armaments
including tanks, while The Nikolai Filchenkov can carry up to 1,500 tons of
cargo and equipment, the report said.
Interfax said that the ships could be used to evacuate Russian nationals.
"The crews of The Nikolai Filchenkov and The Tsezar Kunikov and SB-15 rescue
tug together with marines on board are able to ensure security of Russian
nationals and evacuate part of the property of the logistical support base
if need be," Interfax quoted a source as saying.
The protracted conflict between the ruling regime and the opposition in
Syria shows no signs of easing. The opposition has demanded the deployment
of armed peacekeepers after U.N. observers halted their work because of
+++SOURCE: JordanTimes 18 June '12:"Lebanon must end rifts to withstand
Syria turmoil", Reuters
SUBJECT: Syria spillover threatens Lebanon
QUOTE:" 'If ,God forbid, something happened in Lebanon. . . There would be
an absurd war aming the Lebanese in which everyone would lose' "
FULL TEXT:BEIRUT — Lebanon risks being sucked into a worsening spiral of
violence that has already begun to spill over from neighbouring Syria unless
its deeply divided leaders set aside their disputes, Interior Minister
Marwan Charbel said.
The situation was so tense that the tiny Arab Mediterranean country could
not afford the luxury of internal disputes, including a row over disarming
the Shiite movement Hizbollah, and needed to agree to set them aside for
now, he added.
"If, God forbid, something happened in Lebanon I do not think there would be
anyone to help. There would be an absurd war among the Lebanese in which
everyone would lose," Charbel told Reuters in an interview late on Friday.
"Conditions now do not allow for disputes."
Lebanon is still recovering from its bloody 1975-1990 civil war, but unrest
in its larger and more powerful neighbour Syria has fuelled long-running
tensions, sparking violent clashes on the streets of its northern port city
of Tripoli and of its capital Beirut.
The opposition March 14 grouping has called on Prime Minister Najib Mikati's
government, a coalition which includes Charbel's mainly Christian Free
Patriotic Movement and the Shiite Hizbollah group, to be replaced by a
It is also pressing for the disarmament of Hizbollah, Lebanon's powerful
Shiite militant and political group that fought a war against Israel in
2006. Hizbollah supports Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in his crackdown
on his opponents.
Hizbollah was the only armed group to retain its weapons after the end of
the civil war — its domestic rivals have always been uneasy about its
arsenal, but it has proved too powerful within Lebanon to be forced to
It initially said it needed to keep its weapons to confront Israeli forces
which maintained their occupation of southern Lebanon for 10 years after the
civil war ended. It now says it needs to keep them to deter any future
attack by Israel.
"The argument over the government is a minor one and the argument over
Hizbollah's arms is minor — any other disagreements are minor compared to
what Lebanon would face because of what is happening in Syria," said
Ruling a country of just four million people, Lebanon's government has often
been paralysed by squabbling among its religiously and politically divided
members, many of whom are in parties formed during the 15-year civil war.
Political leaders have held a series of largely fruitless "national
dialogue" meetings to try to overcome their differences, which have hampered
efforts to tackle massive public debt and crippling electricity shortages.
"I call on those sitting at the table of dialogue not to demand any
preconditions. Our first priority is saving Lebanon from the calamity we
have fallen into," Charbel said.
Charbel said the debate over Hizbollah's weapons had hindered efforts by
security forces to clamp down on other armed groups and their weapons,
fearing a political conflagration.
Hizbollah's Sunni Muslim political opponents have supported the Syrian
uprising, and it is gunmen from their ranks that have clashed with Assad
supporters, particularly in Tripoli.
"It would be very easy to carry out raids and clear out the gunmen [in
Tripoli]," said Charbel. "But then other Lebanese groups will say there are
other places with weapons. That would be an embarrassing subject because it
would seem security forces were not applying the law everywhere."
However, Charbel said security forces were tightening up security at
Lebanon's border with Syria, across which rebels have been smuggling weapons
to the opposition.
"Weapons smuggling has dropped substantially because the Lebanese army has
tightened its grip on legal crossings and that was where most of the
smuggling happened," he said.
"But we should not forget that the border is 180km long and the Lebanese
army and security forces are not capable of covering all that."
Militants using Lebanon as a crossing point into Syria had increased in
numbers, he added, but security forces were improving their technical
capabilities at airports, seaports and borders in order to apprehend them
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA