April 30/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 10,27-30. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father's hand.The Father and I are one."

Free Opinion
Neither Sharia, nor a coup, but a fully democratic Turkey. Daily Star. April 30/07
Iranian-Saudi ties defy the caricature narrative.By Afshin Molavi. April 30/07  
Cutting through a misreading of the Arab peace plan.By Henry Siegman. April 30/07  

Latest News Reports From The Daily Star for April 30/07
Olmert has no intention of resigning - aide
Tragedy brings rival political camps together
LF MP backs presidential vote at 'appointed' time
Siniora says state 'closer' to solving kidnap-murder
Jallaleddine remembered for support of resistance
Shamas brothers emerge as primary suspects
Model UN conference gives students taste of diplomacy
Dahiyeh residents join in new project to clean up war mess
Orange TV calls shareholders meeting on capital increase

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for April 30/07
Rice Says US to Press Iran on Arms Flow at Meeting.Bloomberg
Ashkenazi: Hizbullah trying to move south of Litani.Ynetnews
Ziads' Killing was Organized Crime

Despite withdrawal from Lebanon Syria still uses the ‘old book ‘.
Ya Libnan, Lebanon
Lebanon mourns Alia El - Solh ' daughter of independence'.Ya Libnan
A vice-presidency position in Lebanon.Ya Libnan
Nadine Njeim crowned Miss Lebanon.Gulf News
HISTORY WITH HAYES: Lebanon's Doc Adams is used to big
Brand Hatch: A1 Team Lebanon Qualifying Recap - Mistake Hurts Quali
UN risks being pulled into Lebanon conflict.
Kuwait Times, Kuwait 
Iraq suicide blast kills 
Lebanon War Inquiry Brings Calls for Olmert's Resignation.Voice of America 
The Lebanon Scapegoat.Alternative Information Center (AIC), Israel
Qaeda figure urges Hamas "bombs, fire" on Israel.Reuters


Ziads' Killing was Organized Crime
Naharnet: Authorities were very close to finding the kidnappers and murderers of a youth and his 12-year-old neighbour, and investigation indicated the twin murder was an organized crime. Security sources said that the probe into the killing of Ziad Ghandour, 12 and Ziad Qabalan, 25, whose bullet-riddled bodies were found on Thursday, has revealed that the crime was not in retaliation for the murder of Adnan Shamas as previously believed.
They said a thorough joint investigation by the intelligence bureaus of both the police and the army revealed that the killing of the two Ziads was not the vendetta-style crime practiced by tribes or clans. Beirut, 29 Apr 07, 16:34

Lebanon Says It is Close to Finding Ziads' Killers
Naharnet: Lebanon said it was very close to finding the kidnappers and murderers of a youth and his 12-year-old neighbor. The crime has drawn nationwide condemnation with rival political leaders and top clerics calling for calm. "Authorities are exerting genuine efforts and we are very close to finding those who committed the crime ... and those behind it," Prime Minister Fouad Saniora said in remarks published by the daily Al Mustaqbal on Sunday. "They (criminals) will be punished by the government and we will make sure they pay the price for their actions," Saniora added.
He was referring to the kidnappers and killers of Ziad Ghandour, 12, and Ziad Qabalan, 25, whose bullet-riddled bodies were found southeast of the capital on Thursday. The youths were kidnapped on Monday in what was thought to be a political vendetta for the killing of pro-Hizbullah Adnan Shamas during sectarian street fights in January.Al Mustaqbal said police search for the killers continued across Lebanon. It quoted security sources as saying that authorities will only announce details after crime data and other information is gathered. The sources said two cars, one of which had been used during "some phases of the crime," have been seized. "But the leading criminals are still at large and search is underway to find them," one source told Al Mustaqbal. The daily An Nahar said on Friday that 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. The Shamas clan, however, has said in a statement that it had nothing to do with the abduction of Ghandour and Qabalan. Beirut, 29 Apr 07, 08:10

A vice-presidency position in Lebanon !
Sunday, 29 April, 2007 @ 4:08 AM
By Joseph A. Kachichian *
Beirut- A few decades after a bloody civil war, and continuing internal upheavals that would destroy most Middle Eastern governments, Lebanon - the only functioning Arab democracy, warts and all - is still on its feet.
All of the assassinations, kidnappings and murders in the post-1989 Taif Accord period, confirm a simple truth: that the Lebanese are condemned to live together. The sole remaining issue is whether that may be a harmonious undertaking.
In politics, one should attempt not to fall in too many traps, although this is easier said than done. In Lebanese politics, it looks that most parties eagerly fall into various traps, set by internal rivals or regional hegemony . Lebanese zu'ama (leaders) relish in their capabilities to maneuver around perceived traps, as the process takes precedence over their abilities to offer the hapless population permanent solutions, just to attack each other. Nearly all of them, including religious figures and key ambassadors, appear on television on a nightly basis - thus making Lebanon the World's number 1 producer of daily news commentary that is repetitive and wearisome - to reassure a struggling public. No one is immune to these nightly diatribes, but one party, Hezbollah, is the focus of attention.
It is thus befitting to ask: what does Hezbollah want and can it get it? The short answers are, of course, absolute power and no. Still, all is not hopeless, if Hezbollah is entrusted with additional responsibilities. Of course, everything must be within the 1989 Taif Accord -parity between the religious sects - but flexible enough to remove the noose around Lebanon's sore neck.
If for most of the 1990s, but especially after the Israeli withdrawal in 2000, Hezbollah underwent a carefully tailored "Lebanization" process, the Party of God did not accept a multi-confessional country before 2006.
Tactical error
Nevertheless, Shaikh Hassan Nasrallah made a tactical error of some consequence when he backed Syria against Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, even if the latter stood by Hezbollah for many years. Whether he actually intended to separate himself from the mainstream was impossible to know but, few Hezbollah members participated in the February 21, 2005 "Cedar Revolution" that assembled over 1.5 million Lebanese in Martyrs' Square. Perhaps more egregious was Nasrallah's response to this epochal event, as Hezbollah - goaded by its allies - organized a counter demonstration on March 8, 2005 supporting Syria and accusing Israel as well as France and the United States of meddling in internal Lebanese affairs.
Finally, a counter-demonstration on March 14, 2005 essentially highlighted the basic brake in the country's political make-up.
These maneuvers resulted in the 2005 General parliamentary elections that saw the Current for the Future (Hariri's party) feed 36 posts while Hezbollah won 14 seats nationwide (out of 128), and Amal gained 15 more seats for a total of 29 Shiite portfolios. Hariri, the heir, managed to put together a formidable coalition of 72 parliamentarians - a majority plus 8.
Nasrallah aligned himself with General Michel Aoun, a former Commander of the Lebanese Army determined to succeed Emile Lahoud as President, even if the vast majority of fellow Maronites reject his candidacy. Still, Aoun and Nasrallah entered into an unusual national compact, ostensibly to reform the country's confessional electoral system and move in the direction of one-man, one-vote. Whether Hezbollah would accept to fold into the Lebanese Army in exchange for this new contract was the primary source of disagreement between it and the majority.
In short, few Lebanese believed that the Party of God would ever disarm, especially as long as Lebanese territory (Sheba'a Farms) remained occupied by Israel. Nasrallah, of course, donned a non-Shiite cover, but few Lebanese - Christians, Druze or Sunni Muslims accepted his logic. Then came the July/August 2006 Hezbollah-Israel war that devastated Lebanon and parts of Northern Israel.
Lebanon has no Vice-Presidency and I propose that one be created for Nasrallah or a representative. This should be a meaningful post with specific responsibilities that will require the office holder to perform. In such a position, none of Hezbollah's enemies could doubt the patriotism of Shiite Lebanese, something that is whispered often. Of course, critics will immediately respond that the Shiites have the presidency of parliament, and the 1989 accords cannot be changed. Well, they can be changed, on the condition that the vice-presidency become a revolving post, not promised exclusively to the Shiites but open to all denominations. In other words, the first vice-president would be a Shiite from Hezbollah, whereas the second one could be from any other party. This proposal aims to tie a position with performance to allow all Lebanese to compete in the service of their country.
The Lebanese need to open their books and study their civil war. They need to look at awful pictures to appreciate the value of freedom. They need to read and study the Constitution, especially its 1989 amendments, to better understand what is within the realm of the possible in a united country. They would do well to think of alternatives to free themselves from the current doldrums, rather than condemn their youths to kidnappings and murders. They should be rules that all Lebanese follow and responsibilities for each official aspiring to become a leader.
*Dr Joseph A. Kechichian is a commentator and author of several books on Gulf affairs.
Sources: Gulf News

Despite withdrawal from Lebanon Syria still uses the ‘old book ‘
Sunday, 29 April, 2007 @ 4:22 PM
By: Walid Choucair
Beirut- Thursday April 27, marked the second anniversary of the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, in the shadow of events warning about dramatic developments in the Lebanese arena. These events are bringing some people to the conclusion that there must be a relation between some of these symbolic incidents and the anniversary. As far as many of Syria's allies in Lebanon are concerned, the disorder in their country on the anniversary is a sufficient reason to say that two years after the Syrian withdrawal, security is threatened, and that Syria's previous administration of Lebanon used to provide the minimum level of stability. As for Damascus' rivals, they see in what is happening a reason to condemn and repeatedly accuse Syria of trying to undermine security in Lebanon in spite of its withdrawal.
In reality, Lebanon is currently undergoing the same political division that prevailed some months before the Syrian withdrawal. Additionally, the General Michel Aoun-led movement, which constitutes the main Christian force, has joined the ranks of Damascus' allies.
The unrest parallel to the anniversary is evident. It is taking a terrible direction, as there was still uncertainty over the destiny of 12-year-old Ziad Ghandour and 25-year-old Ziad Qabalan. However, the fertile land for disorder in Lebanon is nothing but the continuation of the schism among the Lebanese people and, indeed, this turmoil has been escalating since last autumn. The core of the schism is linked to the stance toward Syria, its Lebanese and regional policy and its alliances, exactly as was the case before the withdrawal.
Before April 26, 2005, Syria was puzzled due to the pressure compelling it to withdraw. It has remained confused after the withdrawal, but it has come back and decided its counter plan since autumn 2005. It is being helped in this by Iran's new offensive regional policy, adopted as soon as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the presidency, and the failure of the US' rash policy in Iran and Palestine, a policy which included its blind support for Israel's conduct in Southern Lebanon. These factors allowed Damascus to practically carry out what President Bashar al-Assad said to a Western envoy on February 13, 2005: 'You will see our tanks and machinery withdraw from Lebanon [UN Resolution 1559 calling for the withdrawal had been adopted by extending President Emile Lahoud's mandate more than five months before], but be reassured that we will remain there'. By saying so, he pointed out that Damascus would be able to continue to control the situation in Lebanon through its large influence.
In spite of the new developments in the region's conditions (changes in US policy, extension of President Lahoud's mandate and, finally, the Lebanese uprising because of the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri), which influenced very much the decision to withdraw, Damascus has kept reading from the 'old book' with regard to its Lebanese and regional policy, which is the same book that the late president, Hafez al-Assad, read from. According to it, Syria has to build its role by intervening in regional crises and contributing to complicating them. In this way, super-powers will acknowledge its role in finding solutions to these crises, and the importance of its regime and force in confirming the region's fundamental equation.
One of the things that the old book relies on is the adoption of 'razor-edge' tactics in Syria's confrontations with Western countries, and of bargaining with these countries and with regional neighbors in settlements and local mutual understandings.
In Lebanon's current situation, Syria's objective is probably not a military return to Lebanon. Its influence, exercised through its allies, and in particular Hezbollah, is sparing Damascus this return, given what they owe this country for just supporting the party's confrontation with Israel in the 'razor-edge' game.As for bargaining, which is set forth by the 'old book', Damascus is trying to adopt it in exchange for its political 'return' that has achieved important results over the past few months. It has to do with the international tribunal that has to try those charged with the murder of Hariri and which seems to have become an international status quo. The 'old book' did not include a clear description of how to deal with a case like this. While waiting for it to be adjourned, Lebanon will undoubtedly continue to suffer.Picture: Late Syrian president Hafez Assad ( L ) and his son Bashar ( R) the current president. Like father like son, both used the same 'old book' in dealing with Lebanon and the region. Sources: Al-Hayat

Rice Says U.S. to Press Iran on Arms Flow at Meeting (Update1)
By William Roberts
April 29 (Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the U.S. will use this week's meeting of regional governments about Iraq to press Iran to stop letting foreign fighters and arms cross its border.
Rice also said she ``will not rule out'' meeting with her counterpart, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, during the May 3-4 conference at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. She added that ``this is not a meeting about the United States and Iran.''
The U.S. is ``quite clear'' about what Iran must do to help stabilize Iraq and the rest of the region, she said.
``Stop the flow of foreign fighters across the borders,'' Rice said today on ABC's ``This Week'' program. ``Stop using advanced IED technology to kill American soldiers. Stop stirring up trouble among militias that then go and kill innocent Iraqis.''
The conference is a follow-up to a meeting in Baghdad last month to work out what Iraq's neighbors can do to help the Iraqi government quell the sectarian and terrorist violence that threatens the country's stability. President George W. Bush is under pressure from the U.S. Congress to start pulling American combat forces from Iraq. Bush has warned that leaving Iraq would unleash chaos in the region and give Iran greater influence in the region.
Dealing With Iran
In addition to Iran's role in Iraq, the U.S. has been at odds with the Islamic republic over its nuclear development program.
Iran's government announced earlier today that Mottaki will head the Iranian delegation to the conference in Egypt.
``I will not rule out that we may encounter each other,'' Rice, 54, said. The focus of the meeting is ``Iraq and about what Iraq's neighbors and interested parties can do to help stabilize the situation in Iraq,'' and not relations between the U.S. and Iran, she said.
The U.S. hasn't made any deal with the Iranians to get them to attend the conference, Rice said. Iran has called on the U.S. to release five Iranians seized by U.S. forces in Iraq last February. The subject of Iran's nuclear program won't be on the agenda for the Sharm el-Sheikh meetings.
``The proper channel for Iran's nuclear program is through Javier Solana,'' the European Union representative in the nuclear negotiations, Rice said on CBS's ``Face the Nation'' program. Solana ``is representing all of the six countries that have made Iran a very generous offer concerning the development of civil nuclear power.''
Iraq Funding
Bush is facing a showdown with Congress on Iraq when lawmakers send him legislation this week providing more than $100 billion to pay for military operations and setting a deadline for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq.
The president has said he will veto the measure and wants to negotiate on legislation providing the money with any timetables. Rice said the administration also won't accept a new version that sets penalties if the Iraqi government fails to meet benchmarks.
``We shouldn't tie our own hands in using the tools that we have to help the Iraqis along with national reconciliation,'' Rice said on ABC.
Rice said the president's new strategy of adding more troops to Iraq is ``just under way'' and its effectiveness will get a ``hard look'' in September, Rice said.
Questioning Progress
Representative John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat who has been leading congressional demands for the U.S. to withdraw, said the administration has refused to compromise or listen to lawmakers and the public on Iraq.
``The progress that they talk about is not there,'' Murtha said on the CBS program. ``We've had 330 people killed since the surge began. More people killed in the last four months than were killed any other time during the war. Fifty-three percent increase in American deaths, and this White House keeps saying we're making progress.''
Violence continues in Iraq as the U.S. continues to deploy the additional 30,000 troops to the country. A car bomb exploded near one of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines in Karbala today, killing at least 40 and injuring 80 as people headed for evening prayers, the Associated Press reported. The U.S. military said seven soldiers and two Marines died in three separate incidents yesterday, including four killed by roadside bombs in Baghdad.
To contact the reporter on this story: William Roberts in Washington at
Last Updated: April 29, 2007 12:42 EDT