May 4/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 14,6-14. Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.

Free Opinion
Two Revolutionary Projects in Lebanon and Turkey.Dar Al-Hayat. May 4/07

Latest News Reports From The Daily Star for May 4/07
Pope assures Sfeir of support for Lebanon
Rice meets Moallem on sidelines of Iraq talks
Feltman stresses urgency of Hariri tribunal
Seven suspects to face charges over killing of two Ziads
UN aims to raise living conditions in Ain al-Hilweh
Solidere says Chouf landfill contains no toxic waste
Ban: Attacks on press constitute attacks on freedom
US report raps Beirut for failing to halt piracy
Minister announces Lebanon will launch DSL next week
Newspapers to close Sunday for World Press Day
Ceremony to honor fallen journalists in Tallet al-Druze
AUB dedicates new center to former ambassador
Industrialists honor late Industry Minister Frem
Aridi says media workers have become a new target of terrorism worldwide
Frustrated students flock to job fair in search of employment abroad
Ministry fails to collect bags of oil residue from fuel spill
Modern agricultural techniques threaten farmers' livelihoods
Thousands march to call for Olmert ouster

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for May 4/07
Sfeir brings concerns about his country’s future to the
Rice meets with Syria foreign minister on Iraq. AP
US and Syria in high-level talks.BBC News

Pope Eager to See Lebanon Crisis Resolved.Naharnet
Michel's Failed Mission Could 'Soon' Prompt U.N. Action on Tribunal
Lebanese Dailies Say Olmert Should Quit
March 14 'Forced' to Ask U.N. to Approve Tribunal
Saniora: Israel-Hizbullah War Probe Missed Real Lesson
Hezbollah chief praises Israel for war commission.Reuters
Report: Hezbollah won by controlling media.Jewish Telegraphic Agency
US' New UN Ambassador to Face 1st Test on Lebanon.Naharnet
Olmert stabilizes party standing after Lebanon criticism (Roundup).Monsters and
Lebanon: The Truth About Hezbollah.Global Voices Online
Talks with Iran, Syria are main focus as Iraq summit opens.CNN International
After the war in Lebanon... the battle for Israel.Independent
After trip to Lebanon, top UN lawyer reports deadlock in Hariri ...International Herald Tribune
Gag lifted, details of Bishara's alleged treason emerge.Ha'aretz
Peretz Seen As Lebanon War Casualty.The Jewish Week
Israeli envoy: Syria preparing to war.Al-Bawaba
US Blocks Israel-Syria Talks: Stephen
Nasrallah: Israel needs Olmert to quit.Jerusalem Post
Ahmadinejad in controversy over embrace.Gulf Times
Israeli ambassador to US offers reassurances to Syria.International Herald Tribune
Washington Takes Aim at Syria.Foreign Policy In Focus
Looking back in satisfaction.Ha'aretz

Pope Eager to See Lebanon Crisis Resolved
Pope Benedict XVI has reiterated his backing to Lebanon during talks with visiting Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, An Nahar daily reported Thursday.
It said Benedict XVI and Sfeir held a "private" discussion at the Vatican Wednesday during which the two "examined in depth" the situation in Lebanon and developments in the region. "The pope reiterated his support to Lebanon and his interest in seeing that (the country) gets out of its crisis," An Nahar said. It said that the pope and the patriarch also discussed international efforts to defuse tension in the region.
Sfeir was expected to meet with top Vatican officials on Thursday, according to An Nahar.
Beirut, 03 May 07, 10:41

Sfeir brings concerns about his country’s future to the Vatican
by Youssef Hourani May 3/07
Maronite Patriarch is increasingly worried about the institutional deadlock caused by the country’s political crisis, but especially by the increasingly bitter divisions within the Christian community. The synod of Maronite bishops will take place in a few weeks.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Card Nasrallah Sfeir is in the Vatican to see the Pope and bring his concerns about his country’s institutional deadlock caused by its ongoing political crisis. In addition, Lebanese sources close to the Patriarchate suggest that he will also discuss the growing divisions within the Christian community.
The sources also see a connection between Cardinal Sfeir’s Vatican visit and that by David Welch, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, who was received at the beginning of the week by the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti. A former advisor at the Apostolic Nunciature in Lebanon, the archbishop is seen by Lebanese politicians as “a sharp-minded expert who knows Lebanon’s reality and mentality, not to mention a keen observer of how Patriarch Sfeir has led the Maronite Church for the past 21 years and more.”
Similarly, they stress that Cardinal Sfeir remains concern about the increasingly permanent nature of emigration and his fears that the country’s economic crisis might end up depriving Lebanon of its more productive elements.
The Maronite patriarch’s meetings are described as “rich in content.” Significantly, they are taking place just a few weeks before the next synod of Maronite bishops, which is scheduled for the first week of June, and only a few months before the end of President Émile Lahoud’s mandate on November 24. Lebanon’s presidency is reserved for the Christian community.
A Maronite bishop who chose to remain anonymous told AsiaNews that “danger lurks behind our doors,” hence the need to elicit support from the Holy See a month from US President George W. Bush’s visit to the Vatican.
Divisions among Christians remain the Maronite Church’s main worry. So much so that some have accused Cardinal Sfeir of losing his neutrality and moving closer to the positions expressed by the March 14 movement, the alliance between Geagea and Hariri, which is opposed to the partnership between General Michel Aoun and Hezbollah.
Many hope that the Vatican may also do something with regard to the Christian presence in the Middle East, a topic close to Pope’s heart.

March 14 'Forced' to Ask U.N. to Approve Tribunal
Pro-government legislators on Wednesday said that failure by House Speaker Nabih Berri to convene the assembly to ratify the international tribunal has prompted the ruling majority to urge the U.N. Security Council to endorse the court. "After losing all hope of ratifying it internally, we are forced to resort to the Security Council in order to approve the court," Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan said in a statement read after a meeting of the March 14 coalition at the parliament building. Adwan, however, urged Berri to make a last-ditch attempt to convene parliament to pass the tribunal that would try suspects in the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes. Opposition MP Ali Khalil swiftly reacted to the ruling team's statement.
He accused March 14 of closing all doors to any possible dialogue. Khalil reiterated that the opposition will continue extending a hand to the other camp.
"We will not be dragged into any strife," he stressed. Lawmakers have been calling on Berri to convene parliament since the speaker declined to hold an ordinary session scheduled for mid-March. Parliament convenes twice a year in two ordinary sessions -- the first starts mid-march until the end of May and the second from the middle of October through the end of December. Wednesday's gathering was the seventh since March 20. Adwan also criticized a call by Gen. Michel Aoun for electing a Lebanese president directly by the people. He said such a proposal was a "clear violation of constitutional texts, which we have long worked to preserve." Beirut, 02 May 07, 13:55

Michel's Failed Mission Could 'Soon' Prompt U.N. Action on Tribunal
Key members of the U.N. Security Council have indicated that they could soon act to break the deadlock over the creation of an international tribunal that would try ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's suspected assassins. Although options have not yet been discussed, the 15-member council "could assist the Lebanese by establishing the tribunal, that the Lebanese have agreed to broadly, under Chapter 7 (of the U.N. Charter)," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters Wednesday. His comments came after the council heard a briefing from Nicolas Michel, the U.N.'s top legal adviser, on his recent mission to Beirut where he failed to get rival Lebanese factions to agree on the formation of the court. Michel said anti and pro-government parties "expressed support in principle for the establishment of the tribunal" but could not reach an agreement. "We heard that the domestic situation with regard to the process in Lebanon to establish the tribunal is deadlocked," said Khalilzad, the president of the Security Council for May. "The council needs to look at options to assist the Lebanese because it's very important that the tribunal be established as soon as possible," he added. "It's important for reasons of justice and it's important for deterrence of such actions in the future and therefore important for the long term stability of Lebanon," Khalilzad said.
Asked who would request a Chapter 7 resolution, Khalilzad said Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Saniora has told the U.S. it would be politically unfeasible for him or his allies to do so. "We've had some discussions ... with the Lebanese on this matter," he said. "I believe that in the coming days there will be some clarity on this." French ambassador, Jean-Marc de La Sabliere expressed the same concerns as those of the U.S. ambassador.
"We are concerned by this continuing deadlock confirmed by Nicolas Michel's report," he said.
"The Security Council should study how best to help Lebanon overcome this impasse," he added. "We think that the time for the Security Council to exercise its responsibilities is approaching." But Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin objected to the idea of a Chapter 7 resolution and warned the Lebanese that they should not expect the Security Council to sort out every problem. "We feel that there is still time for the parties in Lebanon to come to agreement on the special tribunal," he told reporters. "The people of Lebanon cannot be looking to the Security Council to solve all their problems," he said.(AFP-AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 03 May 07, 07:36

U.S.' New U.N. Ambassador to Face 1st Test on Lebanon
The new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad will face one of the first tests of his diplomatic skills – a Security Council showdown on Lebanon that could have wide implications for the Middle East and the war on terror, the New York Sun reported.
The Afghan-born Khalilzad -- an alumnus of the American University in Beirut -- assumed the monthly rotating presidency of the Security Council May 1, on only his second week as ambassador, and one of his most challenging tasks, as emerged Tuesday, is to unite members on the issue of Lebanon, The Sun said. It said at issue is an attempt to pass a new resolution that would enforce the council's past decision to set up an international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes.
"The process in Lebanon to establish the tribunal is deadlocked, and the council needs to look at options to assist the Lebanese, because it's very important that this tribunal will be established as soon as possible," Khalilzad told reporters. "It's important for reasons of justice and it's important for deterrence of such actions in the future, and therefore important for the long-term stability of Lebanon," he added. The tribunal, which was set up by the council last year, is approved by Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government. The U.S. and France see the tribunal as a necessary tool in liberating Lebanon from Syria's yoke, the Sun said. But, it said, several members of Syrian President Bashar Assad's family and his government may end up as suspects, and Damascus has marshaled its political allies in Lebanon to resist the establishment of the tribunal. Pro-Syrian House Speaker Nabih Berri blocked a parliamentary vote to ratify the tribunal. He has turned down several appeals by the parliamentary majority asking him to convene the assembly to endorse the court. Saniora and the majority MPs have sent separate letters to the Security Council in recent weeks asking for its intervention to end the ongoing political crisis that has crippled Lebanon. But Russia, Syria's ally, has resisted a council move to enforce creation of the court. Khalilzad spoke on Tuesday after U.N. legal adviser Nicolas Michel reported to the council that he has failed in his latest attempts to assist in breaking the Lebanese political impasse, the Sun said.
Michel said after several trips to Lebanon, where he met with rival political leaders: "From all the discussions that I have, all the efforts that I attempted, I see no progress."The Sun, citing several diplomats, said Mr. Michel's trips — as well as an unsuccessful Damascus visit by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week — were designed to demonstrate to Syria's allies on the council, led by Russia, that the impasse is intractable and that the only way to set up the tribunal is to pass a new resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which allows enforcement of the council's will.
It said America, France and Britain, as well as most other of the 15 members, want the council to move to a Chapter 7 Resolution now, so the tribunal can quickly be established outside Lebanon, most likely in Cyprus. Although Russia has stopped short of threatening a veto, it has resisted attempts to pass such a resolution. "People in Lebanon cannot be looking to the Security Council to solve all their problems," Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, told reporters. "We do not share the enthusiasm for a Chapter 7 Resolution," The Sun quoted another Russian diplomat as saying.
"If there is no place to put them on trial, why did we conduct the investigation in the first place?" a European diplomat told the Sun on condition of anonymity. The Russians "are being difficult," he added. Beirut, 03 May 07, 11:35

Lebanese Dailies Say Olmert Should Quit
Lebanese newspapers said on Thursday Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should quit after the Winograd report showed that he failed in his post during the summer war on Lebanon. Al-Akhbar, close to the Hizbullah-led opposition, said "the dust of the earthquake provoked by the Winograd report has withered away to reveal the image of a struggle for survival by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and a battle of succession in Israel."
"The distance between Olmert and the term 'former prime minister' is now shorter than ever," it said.
The liberal Al Anwar said the embattled premier had no choice but to step down. "If Olmert remains it will weaken his party Kadima, and if his government remains it will weaken Israel's position and will prevent it from being able to face any developments in the future, whether to go to war or negotiate a (peaceful) settlement." A front-page editorial in the leading An Nahar newspaper said the internal situation in Israel has been "destabilized" because of the Winograd report. "The question is not Olmert, but what is after Olmert. But the most important question remains: ... will Israel learn the most important lesson?" asked An Nahar. "Wars (whether planned or unplanned) will not guarantee a victory on the Arabs, and it is an impossible way to achieve security and stability for Israel," it said. "Wars do not cover Israel's constant headlong rush instead of facing its failure to take the decision to make peace," An Nahar added. On Wednesday, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Saniora said he regretted an Israeli inquiry into last year's war had failed to learn the real lesson -- that military offensives will not bring peace to the Jewish state. The Winograd commission of inquiry's interim report published on Monday accused Olmert of a "serious failure," of acting "hastily" and personally contributing to "over-ambitious" and unfeasible war aims.
The report has left Olmert battling to keep his job after his foreign minister joined a chorus of voices in Israel demanding his resignation.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 03 May 07, 10:22

Saniora: Israel-Hizbullah War Probe Missed Real Lesson
Premier Fouad Saniora has said that he regretted an Israeli inquiry into last summer's war had failed to learn the real lesson -- that military offensives do not bring security. "Israel's offensives against Lebanon have not brought security" for the Jewish state, he said in reference to successive major operations against the country in 1978, 1982, 1993, 1996, and 2006. "The Winograd report failed to draw the lesson ... These wars have shown that they do not guarantee the security of Israelis and they do not lead to peace." The Winograd commission's interim report published on Monday accused Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of "serious failure in exercising judgment, responsibility and prudence," of acting "hastily" and personally contributing to "over-ambitious" and unfeasible war aims. But it did not criticize the principle of the war itself despite the huge destruction and loss of life it entailed.
An estimated 1,200 people died in Lebanon, most of them civilians, as well as 162 Israelis, most of them soldiers during the 34-day war.
The conflict erupted after Hizbullah fighters captured two Israeli soldiers in a deadly cross-border raid on July 12. Saniora said peace would only come to the region once Israel accepted a five-year-old Arab peace initiative offering it full normalization of relations in return for a full withdrawal from the territories it occupied in 1967. "A just peace will only be established through the Arab peace initiative and U.N. resolutions," he said.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 03 May 07, 07:50

Aoun Warns 'Conspirators' Against Return to 'Cartridge Boxes'
Free Patriotic Movement leader Gen. Michel Aoun has accused those who are against holding elections of being "conspirators" and warned that they would lead Lebanon to war. "Those who refuse to return to the ballot boxes are conspirators, whether they are in power or not, because they would be leading the country to cartridge boxes," Aoun told a crowd of FPM supporters on Tuesday. Aoun also urged that the next Lebanese president be elected directly by the people if chances for holding early parliamentary elections failed. He described calls for unity among Christians as undemocratic. "The call for Christian unity is a provocation," he said. "There are always a majority and minority in the logic of democracy. Unanimity is manifested by dictatorship," he added. Aoun accused those in charge of the country as behaving on the grounds that they "possess" the state without referring to any authority.
He stressed that a solution to the ongoing political crisis was "simple" if there were a "will.""We do not want external interference. We have a democratic system that we ought to respect," Aoun emphasized. He warned that in case of any conspiracy on Lebanon "we will then have the upper hand, and we are not powerless, we are resisters."Aoun finally expressed hope that the new Lebanese president would be the key to breaking the impasse. Beirut, 02 May 07, 08:08

Two Revolutionary Projects in Lebanon and Turkey
Hassan Haydar Al-Hayat - 03/05/07//
MP Michel Aoun's call for holding presidential elections in Lebanon through direct popular vote, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's to elect the president of the republic directly by the people, involve two revolutionary projects which undermine the meaning of the "State" in both countries and that of the Constitution. This Constitution protects the meaning of the "State", strikes a balance between the society's components and stands in the face of deeming easy any attack on that meaning whenever such an attack seems to be a convenient means of forcing any one party's will on others.
Despite the differences between the two regimes in Lebanon and Turkey, the similarity lies in their attempt to break the shackles of the law and annul the role of the legislative institution when one party finds it difficult to ascend the throne and another finds it tough to impose its full authority. Aoun doesn't seem to see any glimpse of hope in winning the presidential elections, due within months under the current Parliament which enjoys an unrelenting legitimacy and of which Aoun is a member. He thinks that the solution lies in a constitutional change that might make his dream come true "at least once". On the other hand, Erdogan, whose Islamic Party does not have complete authority over the state through Parliament, wants to dodge the role of the legislative institution and its competences also through changing the constitution.
Perhaps Aoun's call is inspired by the mandatory constitutional amendment which extended the current president's term under the Syrian military presence. Aoun considered resorting to a course of intimidation giving the Lebanese nation a choice between polls or bullets, making a point of being a man of the "resistance". Yet, the Parliament member, whose political life didn't make him forget being a General, is grossly contradicting himself in many ways; for instance, he calls for early parliamentary elections, then eats his words when his popularity goes down claiming that "confidence is a proxy given to a member of Parliament in order to represent the authorizer until the next elections". Why does that apply to him and not to the majority members? Once more he contradicts himself as he appeals for a decision to be made by the "popular majority", alluding to his Shiite allies. However, he refuses to attest to the "cliché" of Christians becoming a minority in Lebanon, saying that, "It is not a matter of numbers", because that's exactly what the majority is trying to communicate to him when it stands up for the Ta'ef Agreement. This agreement set the foundation for harmony between the Lebanese people in a way that goes beyond the sizes of sects and the number of its electors paving the way for establishing a "secular" partnership so to speak, and protecting diversity against the danger of monopolization which undoes the meaning of Lebanon.
The capricious Aoun is then ready to change his mottos on the spot as long as this serves his purpose of occupying the presidential seat because, in his practices, the end justifies the means. Nevertheless, the Lebanese people who have become well aware of his tactics when he was heading the infamous military government, and bore the consequences of his blunders and temperament won't make the mistake of the "experience of the experienced".
As for Erdogan's party which managed to head the government, owing to the elections which awarded it a majority in Parliament, it is all set to back out on this institution in case it would not help extend its authority throughout the country, and wage a war against the judiciary authority which is inspired by and protects the constitution. This scheme not only endangers the stability of Turkey, but also threatens to thwart the eternal dream of the Turks of joining the European Union. Aoun and Erdogan are two revolutionary projects working against the clock and do not bode well