LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 14,1-6. Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where (I) am going you know the way." Thomas said to him, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Back from the brink.Al-Ahram Weekly. May 5/07
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for May 5/07
Lebanon overlooked in Condi's talks with Syria.Ya Libnan
Syria refuses role in tribunal.Washington Times
Syria arming intensely.Ynetnews
Rice, Iran official have little contact. AP
Berri Imposes Conditions to Resolve Lebanon Crisis-Naharnet
White House plays down US-Syria talks-People's Daily Online
Chirac Honors Chidiac-Naharnet
ANALYSIS-Hezbollah prepared but not seeking new Israel war.Reuters
Hezbollah's Islamic revolution in Lebanon-Ya Libnan
Five More Suspects Linked to Ziads' Killing-Naharnet
Clash Between Fatah and Fatah Islam in North Lebanon-Naharnet
Protesters demand Israeli premier quit over Lebanon war failures.Boston Herald
Can Syria be wedged away from Iran?Gulf News
Will Lebanon Get Lost in the US-Syrian Shuffle?American Thinker
Litani River and Israel-Lebanon-The People's Voice
MP Eido urges Lebanon PM to set up an inquiry probe into the war.Ya Libnan
Israel: Government on ropes after report condemns Olmert and ...World Socialist Web Site.
Syria refuses role in tribunal
By Betsy Pisik-THE WASHINGTON TIMES
May 4, 2007
DAMASCUS, Syria -- No Syrian will participate in an international trial of suspects in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a senior foreign ministry official said yesterday. He also warned that Lebanon is on the brink of civil war.
Speaking as his superior held a ground-breaking meeting in Egypt with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Vice Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad insisted that any Syrian identified as a suspect in the February 2005 car-bombing that killed Mr. Hariri would be tried only under Syrian law in national courts.
Mr. Mekdad added that Syria would stand by that policy regardless of whether the long-delayed tribunal is convened at the request of the Lebanese government, as supporters of the plan hope, or imposed unilaterally by the U.N. Security Council.
Mr. Mekdad granted the interview in his Damascus office as Foreign Minister Walid Muallem met with Miss Rice on the sidelines of an international conference in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt.
Miss Rice, who had refused to meet with the Syrians for more than two years, said afterward that she had offered Damascus the prospect of a better relationship with Washington if it helps to stabilize neighboring Iraq. She remained noncommittal when asked to send a U.S. ambassador back to Syria.
In Damascus, Mr. Mekdad argued that U.S. efforts to isolate the government of President Bashar Assad have failed.
"It is the Bush administration that is isolated," he said, adding that there was rising regional impatience with Washington's "blind support" of Israel.
Regarding the Hariri investigation, he said Syria was cooperating with the U.N. probe "one million percent" and "respects the decisions of the Security Council," but that any findings or evidence produced by that investigation might not be admitted in Syrian courts.
"We would accept findings that are appropriate and convincing," he said. But he indicated that the Security Council's judgment on the value of the evidence would carry little credibility with Damascus.
The Syrian government has dismissed as biased and politically motivated the findings of the original U.N. chief investigator, Detlev Mehlis of Germany, whose October 2005 report implicated senior Syrian intelligence and military officials in the Hariri bombing, which also killed 22 others.
Mr. Mehlis was replaced by Serge Brammertz of Belgium, who has not issued such specific interim findings.
"Mr. Mehlis was a very biased person who took only the views of one side," said Mr. Mekdad, who represented Syria in the Security Council in 2002 and 2003. "He committed falsifications."
Nicolas Michel, the U.N.'s top legal officer, told reporters in New York on Wednesday that he saw "no progress" in efforts to broker a deal on the tribunal during a recent trip to Beirut. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is not expected to make a recommendation on how to proceed until later this month. Asked about Syria's hard line on the tribunal, a U.N. official, speaking on background yesterday, said the world body was focused entirely on getting the tribunal established. "We are not going to speculate right now on hypotheticals about extradition policy or cooperation from other nations," the official said. The United States and France have been the strongest backers of an international tribunal to pursue the case. U.S.-backed Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and parties allied with the late Mr. Hariri have also pushed for the tribunal.
But the Shi'ite movement Hezbollah and other factions in Lebanon with ties to Damascus have blocked the parliament from formally asking the United Nations to convene the tribunal. Mr. Muallem warned Mr. Ban last week that bloodshed would follow if the Security Council voted to establish the tribunal without a formal request from the Lebanese government.
Mr. Mekdad reiterated that view yesterday, saying, "The current situation in Lebanon is a recipe for war."
He said President Bush and French President Jacques Chirac, who leaves office May 16, "are supporting one side [in Lebanon] against the other. But without consensus, Lebanon will face a lot of difficulties."
"We are advising our brothers in Lebanon to help each other and help them come to an agreement," Mr. Mekdad said.
Tens of thousands of Lebanese died in a 15-year civil war that ended in 1975. Syria helped to restore an uneasy peace that included the presence, until early 2006, of some 25,000 Syrian troops stationed inside Lebanon. But a U.N. Security Council resolution in the wake of the Hariri killing led to the withdrawal of the Syrian troops and Mr. Mekdad said they "will absolutely not go back." He denied charges -- based on evidence from Israeli reconnaissance planes -- that Damascus has resumed the shipment of illicit weapons to Hezbollah and other pro-Syrian elements inside Lebanon. • Nicholas Kralev in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, and David R. Sands in Washington contributed to this report.
Berri Imposes Conditions to Resolve Lebanon Crisis
House Speaker Nabih Berri on Friday imposed conditions to end the ongoing political impasse, warning that any settlement to the Lebanon crisis will not take place unless all cabinet decisions taken by the "illegitimate" government are reassessed.
"Let them (ruling majority) know that from now on any inner-Lebanese reconciliation or political settlement will be conditioned on reassessment of all decisions taken by the cabinet or in any other public institution," the daily As Safir quoted Berri as saying.
Berri threatened that he will not settle for anything less than that.On the presidential election issue, Berri reiterated his backing to Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir who warned that any attempt to prevent a two-third quorum at the parliamentary session that would elect the new head of state would be unconstitutional. Berri, according to As Safir, stressed that any head of state to come into being should be based on an agreement in advance on a new president.Berri set Sept. 25 to convene parliament to elect the next head of state that will succeed President Emile Lahoud, whose term expires on Nov. 22.An Nahar on Friday quoted Berri as saying "gone with the country" if the president-to-be was not agreed upon beforehand as stated in the constitution.
Five More Suspects Linked to Ziads' Killing
Five suspects in connection with the April 23 kidnapping and murder of a youth and his 12-year-old neighbor were referred to Mount Lebanon Prosecutor Magistrate Ghassan Oweidat. The daily An Nahar said security authorities on Thursday delivered the suspects -- four Lebanese and a Syrian – to Oweidat and Examining Magistrate Malik Abla. An Nahar said the detainees were charged with "preparations" ahead of the kidnapping of Ziad Ghandour, 12, and Ziad Qabalan, 25, whose bullet-riddled bodies were found four days after their disappearance. It said two other suspects who were taken to custody following the discovery of the bodies were released. The Daily Star, citing a judiciary report, said charges would also be filed against five brothers of pro-Hizbullah Adnan Shamas who was killed during street fighting in Beirut Jan. 25. Ziads' murder was believed to be a vendetta for the killing of Shamas. The Daily Star quoted a security source as saying that the five detainees now in police custody helped the Shamas brothers transport the victims' bodies to Jadra and hide three cars used in the kidnapping and killing. "Suspects who disappeared are said to be within the Lebanese territory and security forces are cooperating with parties that expressed their readiness to offer the help needed to arrest them," The Daily Star quoted the source as saying, in apparent reference to the Shamas brothers.
An Nahar said the perpetrators were still at large.
Five More Suspects Linked to Ziads' Killing
Five suspects in connection with the April 23 kidnapping and murder of a youth and his 12-year-old neighbor were referred to Mount Lebanon Prosecutor Magistrate Ghassan Oweidat. The daily An Nahar said security authorities on Thursday delivered the suspects -- four Lebanese and a Syrian – to Oweidat and Examining Magistrate Malik Abla. An Nahar said the detainees were charged with "preparations" ahead of the kidnapping of Ziad Ghandour, 12, and Ziad Qabalan, 25, whose bullet-riddled bodies were found four days after their disappearance. It said two other suspects who were taken to custody following the discovery of the bodies were released. The Daily Star, citing a judiciary report, said charges would also be filed against five brothers of pro-Hizbullah Adnan Shamas who was killed during street fighting in Beirut Jan. 25. Ziads' murder was believed to be a vendetta for the killing of Shamas. The Daily Star quoted a security source as saying that the five detainees now in police custody helped the Shamas brothers transport the victims' bodies to Jadra and hide three cars used in the kidnapping and killing. "Suspects who disappeared are said to be within the Lebanese territory and security forces are cooperating with parties that expressed their readiness to offer the help needed to arrest them," The Daily Star quoted the source as saying, in apparent reference to the Shamas brothers.An Nahar said the perpetrators were still at large.
Chirac Honors Chidiac
French President Jacques Chirac has awarded LBCI anchorwoman May Chidiac the knighthood in the Legion of Honor order at the Elysee Palace.
Chidiac lost an arm and a leg from a bomb placed under her car in September 2005."A year later and with courage she overcame her destiny and returned to her job as a journalist and published a book," Chirac said Thursday. He said he was glad he was presenting the Legion of Honor to Chidiac on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day. He also described her as a "symbol of free speech in Lebanon." Beirut, 04 May 07, 09:08
Syria arming intensely, minister says
Deputy Defense Minister discusses Israel's regional situation with American Jewish Committee, also cites positive potential changes in region
Yitzhak Benhorin Published: 05.04.07, 04:14 / Israel News
WASHINGTON: Syria is arming intensively, warned Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, Thursday. Nonetheless, he praised a recent meeting between US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Syrian Foreign Secretary Walid Moallem at a conference in Egypt.
Sneh, speaking at the American Jewish Committee conference in Washington, said it was good news that Syria is choosing to play a central role in the politics of the Middle East. Sneh also spoke of Iran as a catalyst for change in the Middle East, positing that the threat of a strengthen Iranian regime could push moderate Arab nations into a coalition with Israel. He cited a so-called Arab Quartet, made up of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and spoke optimistically about the Arab Summit peace initiative as a positive gesture that indicates a changing environment.
However, the deputy defense minister also told conference participants that the Middle East had become a dangerous place to live.
Iran is closer than ever to getting nuclear weapons and Syria is arming intensely, buying weapons from Russia at an unprecedented rate, he said.
Hamas is growing stronger within the Palestinian Authority, and threatening negotiations and potential agreements between Israel and the PA, he added.
Hezbollah's Islamic revolution in Lebanon
Wednesday, 2 May, 2007 @ 8:38 PM
Beirut- One of the many problematic assumptions about Hezbollah that we often hear is that they have given up on their project to create a Khomeinist state in Lebanon.
The "proof" we're offered is their supposed "tolerance" of skimpily dressed women and of Lebanon's open social life, and thus they do not seek to impose their own ideology on the rest of Lebanon. Others will add that Hezbollah recognizes that the project of an Khomeinist state is not easily achieved in Lebanon due to its pluralist nature, and so it must be a "long-term" one (leaving aside the fact that this only confirms the endurance of the project!). Needless to say, proponents of this view completely ignore the velayat e-faqih (rule of the jurisprudent) and its consequences.
The problem with this view is that it reduces the project to a matter of strict Islamic mores. This view, therefore, completely misses the point. What if establishing the Khomeinist state is not to be primarily defined by strict Islamist ethics (at least, as they say, "at this stage")? What if what's actually being sought after is a cloning of the structures of the Islamic Revolution regime in Iran (namely the Pasdaran and the supreme guide), and the complete destruction or mutilation of the structures of the Lebanese system?
We are often told that Hezbollah seeks to "reform" the Lebanese system to improve the share of the Lebanese Shiites. Emile Hokayem of the Stimson Center has argued persuasively that this is a myth (as has Michael Young in various op-eds in The Daily Star). Pluralism in the Shiite community and the extension of state authority into (Shiite) Hezbollah-controlled areas are hardly in Hezbollah's interests. In fact, the prevention of that development in the Shiite community is precisely Hezbollah's tool to promote its project.
Hezbollah strives for one thing and one thing only: maintaining its armed status and parallel existence both within and above the system. Think Iran's Pasdaran. In other words, Hezbollah has not joined the political process in order to integrate in it, but rather, to use it to protect its anomalous existence outside it. Under the Syrian occupation, Hezbollah was able to solidify this status, and it used its weapons as a means of intimidation. They and the Syrians then imposed an entire socio-political culture (based on intimidation) to support it. This is now no more.
Here's where we started seeing glimpses of what the project aims to achieve. Tactically, Hezbollah might set minimum goals, all of which however are part of the strategic vision. Existing in a normal political process is not in Hezbollah's interests, and Syria's no longer there to forcibly bend the system to Hezbollah's needs. Therefore, it has sought to completely mutilate the system. If the parliamentary configuration is not to its liking, then Hezbollah will shut down parliamentary life altogether. There goes the major Lebanese institution. What do we have in its place? A "Shura" council of sorts, where Hasan Nasrallah enjoys the status of the "supreme guide" who will have the final say on all decisions.
If that doesn't work, start a war, as Hezbollah also controls (and seeks to maintain and enshrine) the exclusivity to decide war and peace (a collective decision).
What about the executive? Hezbollah seeks to gain veto power in the cabinet, in order to transfer that same order to the executive branch. It will also seek to enshrine its right to continue a parallel armed existence in the ministerial statement of such a cabinet. Even when Hezbollah, under duress, agreed to a government plan that called for a state monopoly over arms and state control over all Lebanese territory, it now seeks to eliminate that agreement (as Emile Lahoud tried to do at the last Arab summit in Riyadh), which was enshrined in international law in UNSC Resolution 1701 (which recalls the earlier UNSCR 1559).
But then, what is the reference for political life in Lebanon? Surely the constitution. Wrong. The reference, as Hezbollah's Mohammad Raad declared yesterday, is the document that Hezbollah drafted with Gen. Michel Aoun. Hezbollah only abides by its own laws. Or, if you prefer, as Hasan Nasrallah put it, it abides by "religious laws" (which, as his deputy Naim Qasim explains, means the velayat e-faqih). But hey, remember, they don't really want to implement that in Lebanon!
Raad declared that only a president who abides by Hezbollah's constitution would be deemed legitimate (by Hezbollah, not parliament!). But it is parliament that elects presidents in Lebanon. Not anymore, Hezbollah and Aoun have declared. If Hezbollah doesn't control all three institutions, then it will make sure to destroy the country until it does. There's no such thing as an electoral cycle or peaceful rotation of power. And meanwhile, they will propose every possible alternative to Lebanese institutions that would set the precedent for the latter's demise and the introduction of Hezbollah law. But hey, they're "integrating" into the political process!
Recently, people jumped up and down that Jumblat "made an opening" to Hezbollah. Apparently they didn't read what Jumblat actually said. Jumblat said that only the state will protect Lebanon, and the state alone will protect Hezbollah, once it's agreed that they would integrate their militia into the Army, thereby abandoning their parallel existence and autonomous decision making. He added that that would happen once we agree to where we left off in the national dialog sessions. And where did we leave off? When we were discussing the status of Hezbollah's arms. It was at that time that Hezbollah decided to launch a coup by initiating a war with Israel, then turning its tactics inwards.
Very clearly, Hezbollah and Syria's orphans in Lebanon were not pleased with that statement. The pro-Hezbollah and pro-Syrian rag al-Diyar put it best, decrying precisely this part in Jumblatt's statement and saying that instead he should have said that the state and Hezbollah would both, in parallel, protect Lebanon (not the "state"). This is verbatim Hezbollah's vision, as evidenced by one of Nasrallah's rabid speeches where he said: "The Resistance will always stand by the Lebanese army, with our weapons, men and blood ... to defend Lebanon." (Emphasis mine.)
The word "by" here is of essence. In Arabic it's "ila janib", which literally means "next to." I.e., Hezbollah will always be "next to," or, "parallel to" the state.
Where does this come from? The Islamic Revolution in Iran. More precisely, from Hezbollah's midwife, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or the Pasdaran.The status of the Pasdaran in Iran is pretty much what Hezbollah aspires to achieve in Lebanon, with Nasrallah assuming the role of the supreme guide (see also this old post by Abu Kais). Mind you, that Iran too has a parliament, a presidency, and a cabinet. This is the system Hezbollah is after, and it is very much the Khomeinist state. It would also be the end of the Lebanese state. Perhaps, we'll become like Cyprus.
Picture: Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah ( L) and Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, in Iran