Thursday, 12 June 2008


Sami Moubayed tracks the shifting role of France for the Asia Times:

By meeting with Nasrallah's envoy over lunch, Sarkozy was making himself heard in Washington, effectively saying: "We will do what it takes to get Lebanon up and running. US concerns over the background and agenda of Hezbollah do not concern us. We will do what we believe is in France's best interests in the Middle East."

Earlier, Sarkozy had snubbed the Americans when he invited a delegation from Hezbollah to Paris for round-table talks held with Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. When hostilities broke out in Beirut in mid-May, Sarkozy issued a statement calling for dialogue, falling short of condemning either Hezbollah or Syria.


Meanwhile the Chinese news agency Xinhuanet reports on a visit by a Syrian minister to France:

The French foreign ministry has confirmed that Syrian culture minister Riad Naassane-Agha had conducted a one-day official visit to the country on Tuesday, describing the development as turning a "new page" in relations between the two countries.

It is an "official visit," the first by a Syrian minister to France since March 2004, which goes to underscore the "old ties between our two countries," the French foreign ministry announced in a statement Tuesday.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Ain al-Hilweh

The Daily Star reports on the continuing efforts by Palestinians to rid Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp of the sectarian Salafi fighters:

Sheikh Jamal al-Khuttab, an Islamist militant leader in Ain al-Hilweh and spiritual guide of Osbat al-Ansar, said on Tuesday that security at the camp was far better than in Nahr al-Bared before the mid-2007 battle. He stressed that "those responsible for the [battle] were mostly outsiders with particular views" and added that "this is not the case in Ain al-Hilweh."