April 27/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 6,44-51. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: 'They shall all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for April 27/07
Lebanon: 2 youths feared kidnapped found dead.Jerusalem Post
Sfeir: Presidential polls must be held according to Constitution.Daily Star
Lebanon leaders urge calm after two Druze kidnapped-Ya Libnan
Lebanon police & army step up search for kidnapped youths.Ya Libnan
Saudi FM warns of Lebanese civil war.PRESS TV
Presidential elections have taken center stage in Lebanon.Ya Libnan
Israeli general raises doubt on Lebanon probe.MSNBC
Is Syria planning for a war with the West?Ya Libnan
US Companies Improve Internet Access in Lebanon.Naharnet
Calm urged after Lebanon kidnap.Gulf Times
Two years after Syrian exit, Lebanon still in limbo.Monsters and
Israel’s other enemy in Lebanon war — the media.J. - the Jewish News weekly of Northern California
Syria finds the world suddenly visiting, with carrot and stick.Financial Times Deutschland
Syrian opposition got it wrong.The Brunei Times
Saniora Criticizes Syria, Wants to Place Shabaa Farms under UN Control.Naharnet
Syria: rights attorney gets five years.World War 4 Report
Bishara denies aiding enemy in Lebanon war-Ha'aretz
Israel to publish Lebanon war report Monday.Middle East Online
Youth program brings together Southerners of all faiths.Daily Star
Paraplegic, ex-SLA soldier fled to Israel - report-Daily Star
The key goal of Lebanon war finally
Israeli troops violate South Lebanon. Naharnet

Lebanon: 2 youths feared kidnapped found dead
The bodies of two Lebanese youths feared kidnapped were found Thursday dumped near a roadside south of Beirut, police officials said.
The bodies of Ziad Qabalan, 25, and Ziad Ghandour, 12, were found by police in Jadra, just north of the southern port city of Sidon, after police earlier Thursday received a phone call informing them of the location where they had been left. Police said the bodies were swollen, suggesting they had been killed for at least 48 hours but did not have immediate word on how they were killed. Qabalan and Ghandour disappeared on Monday after leaving their homes in the West Beirut district of Wata al-Mseitbeh. The case has raised concern of renewed sectarian tensions in Lebanon.

Sfeir: Presidential polls must be held according to Constitution
Maronite patriarch says electoral law should be simple
By Maroun Khoury
Daily Star correspondent
Thursday, April 26, 2007
BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir said Wednesday that presidential elections should be held according to the Lebanese Constitution but declined to name a "compromise candidate" who might be acceptable on both sides of the country's political divide. "Presidential polls should be conducted according to principles laid out by the Constitution," Sfeir said.
The prelate made his comments at the Rafik Hariri International Airport before heading to Rome, where he is expected to meet with Pope Benedict XVI.
Asked by reporters about a draft electoral law that seeks to decrease the rigidly sectarian nature of national polls, Sfeir expressed support for any law agreed upon by all Lebanese. "The new electoral law should be simple, enabling the Lebanese people to express their opinion and choose the ones who can provide them with the best representation," Sfeir said.
The patriarch said he was doing his best to prevent a war from breaking out in the country, drawn deeper into internal conflict following the summer 2006 war with Israel, and asked: "But do they [politicians] respond to our demands?" Sfeir stressed the need to sow peace in the country, saying the Lebanese people "have become lost" while discords take place between politicians on a daily basis.
On Tuesday, pro-government and opposition MPs met outside the dormant Parliament for the sixth consecutive week to trade accusations over Lebanon's continuing political deadlock. "A war starts with a word ... We hope that the Lebanese people will live again in a normal situation," he said.
At the airport were former Minister Wadih Khazen, representing President Emile Lahoud, and a number of religious figures.
When asked if the presence of Khazen meant that "ice has been broken between him and the president," Sfeir responded with a smile.
"Where did you get ice from?" Sfeir said. "We hope that a meeting with Lahoud will be held upon his return to the country."
Commenting on a meeting between the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday, Sfeir said that he "welcomes" Syria's professed support for a Lebanese consensus.
"We hope that it won't be merely words," Sfeir said. Ban quoted Assad as saying on Tuesday that he would do what he could to foster a consensus among the Lebanese.Sfeir's 10-day visit to Rome was scheduled at the invitation of the Pontifical Academy, where the patriarch is scheduled to give a lecture.

Lebanon leaders urge calm after two Druze kidnapped
Wednesday, 25 April, 2007 @ 10:32 PM
Beirut - Rival Lebanese leaders urged calm on Wednesday after two Druze government supporters were kidnapped in what was believed to be retaliation for the killing earlier this year of a Shi'ite opposition activist. Police reported that Ziad Qabalan, 25, and Ziad Ghandour, 12, went missing on Monday and their vehicle was found abandoned in a Shi'ite neighborhood of Beirut on Tuesday.
Ghandour's father and Qabalan are members of the Progressive Socialist Party of pro-government Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.
Lebanese media reported that the two had been kidnapped by four members of the Shamas Shi'ite clan . The clan had vowed to avenge the killing of their relative in clashes between government and opposition supporters at a Beirut university in January.
The Shi'ite Shamas clan named by the media condemned the kidnapping. "(The clan) does not claim responsibility for it regardless of whether the perpetrator or perpetrators were members ... or not," a statement in the clan's name said. Sporadic violence between the mainly Sunni, Druze and Christian ruling coalition and mainly Shi'ite and Christian opposition have killed 10 people since the opposition launched a street campaign to topple the government in December.
The political crisis, Lebanon's worst since the 1975-1990 civil war, has at times threatened to spill into Sunni-Shi'ite strife as sectarian tensions run high.
Jumblatt urged calm after visiting the families of the two missing people with minister of information Ghazi Aridi . He told the reporters , we believe in the government and expect the Lebanese army and police to find the kidnapped youths and bring to justice the kidnappers. Jumblatt called Speaker Berri to help secure the release of the kidnapped persons "to avoid unrest." Saad al-Hariri, the Sunni leader of the anti-Syrian majority coalition, also called on all leaders to help secure their release. The opposition's main Shi'ite parties, Hezbollah and Amal, denounced the "very dangerous" kidnapping and urged the security forces to liberate the two and punish their captors.Sources: Reuters, Ya Libnan

Lebanon police & army step up search for kidnapped youths
Thursday, 26 April, 2007 @ 3:11 PM
Beirut- Lebanese police and army troops have mobilized their forces across the country in an effort to find the two missing –presumed kidnapped youths affiliated with Druze leader Walid Jumblatt 's Progressive Socialist Party ( PSP) . The daily An Nahar said on Thursday the army command and the Internal Security Forces were on high alert in what it termed "the biggest search operation" for Ziad Ghandour and Ziad Qabalan who disappeared on Monday.
Police, who listed them as "missing," had originally identified them as Ziad Ghandour, 12, and Ziad Qabalan, 25. But leaders of both sides of the political divide as well as some newspapers have described the disappearance as a kidnapping.
An Nahar said the mini van -- a white Renault Rapid -- was found deserted in Beirut's Shiyah neighborhood on Tuesday, fueling fears that they were kidnapped.It said Ghandour and Qatalan, who was driving the vehicle, were likely to have been abducted in neighboring Ein el-Rummaneh.
Future television, mouthpiece of MP Saad Hariri's Mustaqbal Movement, reported on Thursday that army soldiers have stepped up patrols on the coastal highway linking Beirut to south Lebanon. It said troops also deployed in the central mountains and in the Iqlim al-Kharroub region, and were stopping and searching cars.
The story of the two missing youths made headlines in Lebanon on Thursday in at least eight newspapers. An Nahar headlined: "Military, security mobilization to contain (civil) unrest over the kidnappings." As Safir wrote in bold: "Rumors hunt Lebanese … And fear united them against kidnapping."
Rival political leaders have urged restraint; and the kidnapping incident forced them to re-establish long dormant contacts in a bid to secure the release of the missing youths after violence in recent months left at least nine people killed. An Nahar, citing well-informed sources, said interrogation with a number of witnesses has determined that the license plate number of one of the two cars used by the kidnappers corresponds to the Shamas family.
It said the license number likely belonged to the brother of Adnan Shamas who was killed during street fighting between pro- and anti-government factions in Beirut on Jan. 25. Rumors have linked the youths' disappearance to a vendetta abduction related to the killing of pro-Hezbollah Adnan Shamas.
The Shamas clan, however, said in a statement distributed on Wednesday that it was not associated with the abduction of the two youths.
The statement, which condemned the act and called for the youths' release, brought relief to a nation bombarded by rumors about the alleged death of Gandour and Qabalan.An analyst points fingers at Syrian regime
According to Saeed Alam Eddine , all fingers point at the Syrian regime for the kidnapping. Alam eddine, said Syria has failed so far in toppling the government of Siniora and in its efforts to torpedo the international tribunal, so they are now trying to destabilize the country by sparking a civil war. Alam Eddine said that the person who shot Adnan Shamas was a Syrian intelligence agent , who confessed to the crime during interrogation by the police. Therefore there was no reason for the Shamas clan to take revenge from the PSP.
This theory could prove what Khaddam said the other day during an interview and that is “Syria intends to re-enter Lebanon”. This is why all politicians are trying to calm down the situation so that this incident does not result in a ‘fitna’ a civil war.
Picture: Ziad Ghandour's mother, Samira al-Saghir, shown weeping on Lebanese television yesterday. She was quoted as saying: "Why are they doing this to us? Why do they want to destroy the country? We are all Lebanese," she cried. "What mistake did my 12-year-old son commit to pay the price of political discords?"Sources: Naharnet, Ya Libnan

Saudi FM warns of Lebanese civil war
Thu, 26 Apr 2007 02:14:09
Civil war could erupt in Lebanon after President Emile Lahoud's term, according to Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal.
In an interview with Italian daily, La Stampa, Al-Faisal called on Syria to help Lebanon overcome the possible tensions which may arise when Lahoud's term expires in November. "Syria's task is to help Lebanon, which has a special role in the Middle East, because different religious groups live together successfully. That's maybe why Israel has for years attacked it, because it [Israel] rejects the concept of a multi-religious state," Al-Faisal told the Turin-based newspaper. Lahoud, together with Lebanese opposition parties, has been calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and the formation of a national unity government, a move which, Al-Faisal has claimed, may lead to instability and accelerate a civil war in the country.
Concerning the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Al-Faisal said provided certain conditions were met, Saudi Arabia would be prepared to dispatch a delegation to Israel. "If the exploratory mission undertaken by Egypt and Jordan obtains results on the issue of ending Jewish settlements [in the West Bank], the construction of the [Israeli] wall [that separates Jewish and Arab areas] and the economic boycott of the Palestinians, we might consider sending a delegation. But it is too early to speak of diplomatic relations", Al-Faisal was quoted as saying. AKM/HM/HAR

Presidential elections have taken center stage in Lebanon
Thursday, 26 April, 2007 @ 5:22 AM
Beirut - Presidential elections in Lebanon have taken center stage in the country's political deadlock, as pro-government members of parliament (MPs) weighed their next step to ensure the formation of a tribunal to try suspects in the assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri.
The Daily Star reported Wednesday that Lebanese pro-government legislators called again on parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to convene a parliament session to ratify the international tribunal.
But a government source told the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI) TV station that the government will not take rapid steps toward creating the court under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter until a report is issued by UN top legal adviser Nicolas Michel.
Meanwhile, the deeply divisive issue of the upcoming Lebanese presidential election, scheduled to be held in September for the first time since Syrian troops pulled out of Lebanon in 2005, is becoming the new focus of the ruling coalition.
Debates on the issue have started to take place after House Speaker Nabih Berri, a major leader of Lebanese opposition camp, have announced earlier this month that the parliament would be convened on Sept. 25 to elect a new president based on a two- thirds majority of the assembly.
The pro-government Lebanese Forces MP Georges Adwan on Sunday told LBCI that his party's main focus now is the issue of the presidency, adding that the matters of the tribunal and the government are "behind us now."
While anti-government MP Ali Bazzi, a member of Berri's Amal member, announced that the legislative will convene to elect a new head of state to replace President Emile Lahoud without the presence of the "unconstitutional" government.
Lahoud's mandate was controversially extended by three years in September 2004 after parliament adopted a constitutional amendment to that effect.
The anti-Syrian bloc, which won the majority in parliament after the elections in 2005, has repeatedly called on Lahoud to resign, but the pro-Syrian president has insisted on serving out his term.
Lebanon is facing its worst crisis since the end of the 1975- 1990 civil war. Opposition ministers, including all Shiites, resigned from the government last November because of Seniora's refusal to give them 11 seats in the 30-member cabinet and effectively hand veto power to his opponents.
Lebanese opposition alliance led by Hezbollah launched an open- ended sit-in in downtown Beirut on Dec. 1, 2006, in a bid to topple the government, declaring the anti-Syrian cabinet illegitimate and demanding early parliamentary elections and a new electoral law.
The Lebanese government, led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and backed by the March 14 parliamentary majority coalition, has rejected such calls and accused the Hezbollah-led protest of trying to obstruct the creation of the international tribunal and of taking orders from Iran & Syria to destabilize the country. Picture: Lebanon's current president Emile Lahoud. The focus in Lebanon right now is electing his replacement. The President of Lebanon according to the constitution should be a Christian Maronite. No official list of candidates has been made public yet , but the names of possible candidates is public information. Source: Xinhua, Ya Libnan

Israeli general raises doubt on Lebanon probe
General says panel shouldn’t limit review to just first 5 days of fighting
NBC World Blog Updated: 6:47 p.m.
JERUSALEM - Israel’s war in Lebanon was far more protracted than planned, a top Israeli general said on Wednesday, raising questions over the relevance of an imminent commission of inquiry report about the conflict’s first stage. The Winograd Commission will on Monday publish findings on Israel’s decision to go to war after Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas abducted two soldiers in a border raid on July 12, with blame possibly being laid on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. But the panel, which was appointed by Olmert in a move that angered many Israelis, will for now limit its findings to the first five days of the fighting -- roughly the same period things were going to plan, according to one commander.
“The initial orders spoke of an operation lasting five to six days, a limited operation, with the understanding that it had limited objectives,” Major-General Gadi Eizenkot, who was chief of operations at the time, said in remarks aired on television.
'Long and controversial war'
“In fact, it unfolded otherwise, into a long and controversial war, as is now known, whose outcomes are also in dispute,” Eizenkot, who now commands Israeli forces on the Lebanese and Syrian frontiers, said in a speech to school students.
Olmert has argued that the conflict, which lasted 34 days, improved Israel’s security by banishing Hezbollah from its frontier strongholds and boosting a U.N. peacekeeper force.But Hezbollah managed to fire 4,000 missiles into northern Israel, driving a million residents to shelters and shaking the Jewish state’s belief in its military superiority in the region. The Winograd Commission has said it will discuss Olmert’s personal responsibility for the war’s execution, though its report on the main part of the conflict -- July 17 to an August 14 ceasefire -- is not expected until later this year.
“A lot of people are raising doubts about how much ’bite’ this interim report is going to have,” said Yoav Limor, military correspondent for Channel One television. Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz have seen their popularity slump since the war, in which 158 Israelis died, including 117 soldiers and 41 civilians. About 1,200 people were killed in Lebanon, including an estimated 270 Hezbollah gunmen. Olmert’s office declined comment on Eizenkot’s speech, which was apparently not intended for a wide audience. Television footage of the event showed Eizenkot’s spokeswoman interrupting him so she could turn reporters out of the school auditorium. Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.

Two years after Syrian exit, Lebanon still in limbo
By Weedah Hamzah Apr 26, 2007, 9:36 GMT
Beirut - Two years ago, and shortly after the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri, Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon.
At the time, the Lebanese felt a sense patriotism that prompted many of them to think that Lebanon might finally be able to take control of their country and their destiny. But they were apparently wrong. The Lebanese were overwhelmed by the high emotions of the so- called victory that they had finally managed to push Syria out of Lebanon after 30 years of military presence. 'The high emotions blinded most of us who participated in the 'Cedar Revolution' calling for Syria to leave Lebanon following the death of Hariri, but we did not think of what comes next. Can we rule our country by ourselves? Can we be able to protect such a victory of democracy?' asked a follower of Druze-leader Walid Jumblatt, who requested anonymity.
Christians, Druze, and Sunni followers of Hariri joined hands in a March 14, 2005, rally, and for days they called on the world community to help free Lebanon from Syrian 'hegemony.'
The Syrian regime, along with their Lebanese allies, were accused of killing Hariri in a massive bomb blast on February 14 of the same year.
Syrian and Lebanese officers have been implicated in an ongoing UN probe of Hariri's assassination, a charge so far denied by Damascus.
Local and international pressure grew on Syria, which decided to finally withdraw its troops from Lebanon on April 26, 2005.
Independent political analysts believe that the anti-Syrian camp was overwhelmed by their victory and did not think that the Syrian withdrawal might pave the way for another country to take advantage of the Lebanese arena and take Damascus' role in Lebanon and use it as weapon to fight the West through local allies in the country.
'Iran, a powerful player in Lebanese politics, was able after the Syrian withdrawal to increase its influence, through the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah to use Lebanon as a card to play in its confrontation with the United States and Europe over its nuclear programme,' analyst Oukab sakr said.
According to political observers, the Iranian 'expansion towards Lebanon' also benefited from Israel's 33-day summer war of 2006.
The Iranians were fast in sending millions of dollars to help their Hezbollah followers by rebuilding their homes in Beirut and in southern Lebanon.
This reflected badly on the Western-backed government of anti- Syrian Fouad Seniora, who was accused by the pro-Syrian camp of delaying compensation to rebuild what was destroyed by the Israelis upon the orders of their US and European allies.
'For us Lebanese, we will never feel free to rule ourselves: it is always people fighting their wars over our heads, if it is not the Syrians, it is the Palestinians; if it is not the Iranians, it is the Americans,' a follower of the Lebanese Christian Forces said. Both George and Ziad, who wanted to be identified by their first names, participated in the March 14 rally to push for the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. But today both of them, who are still in the anti-Syrian camp, believe that Lebanon's leaders should sit down, carry on a dialogue and rely on themselves to solve the country's political divisions without outside help. 'I am a member of the March 14 (coalition) and I am against the anti-Syrian camp in Lebanon, but I believe in democracy and I think both we and our rivals should be able to rule our country, in equal shares, and without the interference of outside forces, whether it is the West, Iran or Syria,' said Ziad, a Druze and a follower of Jumblatt. 'We do not want to rule the country alone, but the other camp should be flexible ... Flexibility is the solution and the interest of our country and the nation is a priority,' he added.
'We want normal ties with Syria, Iran, the US and the West, but we do not want to fight their battles,' said Tony, a Christian and a member of the Lebanese Forces.
Leaders like anti-Syrian leader Nassib Lahoud, a Maronite Christian and a former ambassador to the US, agreed with Ziad and Tony.
'We are trying to build normal relations with everyone, and we refuse to turn Lebanon into a battlefield for regional and international powers,' Lahoud said.
Even Christian hardline leader Michel Aoun, who was a staunch enemy of Syria, and is today a member of the opposition led by Hezbollah, believes that the Lebanese government should start working on improving ties with Syria to better the situation in the country. 'We want the relations between Syria and us (Lebanon) to be natural - and this contact requires an atmosphere of friendship - but this is currently not the case,' Aoun said.
Lebanese political leaders in 2006 started a national dialogue to try to resolve long-simmering disputes internally, including ties with neighbouring Syria and disarming Hezbollah, but the dialogue stumbled and the leaders were not able to reach a compromise.
Analyst Tony Salameh said Lebanon would be always used by the Syrians and their close allies the Iranians as a place where they will fight their battles with the US. 'What this means, as long as the United States, Syria and Iran are at odds, Lebanon will remain, at best, in limbo. Lebanon will be unable to resolve its own domestic problems while Iran and Syria continue to try to build up their strategic positions,' Salameh added. © 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur