April 9/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 20,1-9. On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him." So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first;  he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

Free Opinion
Hezbollah's Nasrallah speech is bad news for Lebanon.By: Ali Hussein. Ya Libnan March 09/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous sources April 09/07
Pope calls for peace & a new role for Lebanon-Ya Libnan
Pope laments 'slaughter' in Iraq. AP

Nasrallah: 'We have to return to the people Daily Star
Nasrallah Predicts a Half Century of Hizbullah Influence-Naharnet
Jumblat Targets Hizbullah State in Lebanon-Naharnet
Pro-government leader accuses Lebanese security agents of helping ...International Herald Tribune
Hezbollah sees deadlock, Lebanon crisis continuing-Reuters
Iran pays for rebuilding Lebanon by Hezbollah-run firm-Ya Libnan
UN may form c'tee to review weapons smuggling to Lebanon-Ha'aretz
Lebanese are proud of their army but against armed militia-Ya Libnan
The Ridiculous Furor Over Nancy Pelosi's Visit to Syria-Associated Content
Rep.: Israel Said No Syria Attack Plan-Guardian Unlimited
Lebanon's Hezbollah, Iran & Syria prepare in case of war-Ya Libnan
Activists in Washington to host Easter cluster bomb Hunt-Ya Libnan
World Bank to fund water project in
Help free them. They could've been yours.-Ha'aretz
Crossing the Blue Line UNIFIL & the People of Southern Lebanon-The Media Line
Congressional Visits To Syria Confuse Direction Of US Policy-Opinion Editorials
Ellison says Israel told lawmakers it has no plan to attack Syria-Winona Daily News
The IDF's lost honor-Ha'aretz
How to free captives-Ha'aretz
Lieberman Says Pelosi Syria Visit Was Bad For America,Think Progress

Pope Worried About Lebanon's Future
Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday expressed concern over Lebanon's role and future due to the ongoing political crisis between the Hizbullah-led opposition and Premier Fouad Saniora's majority government. The pope also decried the "suffering in the world" in his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) on Easter Sunday. "In Lebanon, the paralysis of the country's political institutions threatens the role that the country is called to play in the Middle East and puts its future seriously in jeopardy. "… I cannot forget the difficulties faced daily by the Christian communities and the exodus of Christians from that blessed Land which is the cradle of our faith," the 79-year-old pontiff said.
"How many wounds, how much suffering there is in the world? Natural calamities and human tragedies that cause innumerable victims and enormous material destruction are not lacking," he said in the message beamed around the world.
"I am thinking of the scourge of hunger, of incurable diseases, of terrorism and kidnapping of people, of the thousand faces of violence which some people attempt to justify in the name of religion, of contempt for life, of the violation of human rights and the exploitation of persons," the 79-year-old pontiff said.
"My thoughts go to recent events in Madagascar, in the Solomon Islands, in Latin America and in other regions of the world," Benedict said from the loggia of St. Peter's Basilica to a crowd of tens of thousands filling the square as well as the main street leading up to it.
"I look with apprehension at the conditions prevailing in several regions of Africa," in several parts of the world's poorest continent, notably Zimbabwe, Darfur and Somalia. "Zimbabwe is in the grip of a grievous crisis, and for this reason the bishops of that country in a recent document indicated prayer and a shared commitment for the common good as the only way forward," he said. "In the Middle East, besides some signs of hope in the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian authority, nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees," the pope said in the message broadcast live by 67 television stations.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 08 Apr 07, 16:14

Nasrallah: 'We have to return to the people'
By Rym Ghazal -Daily Star staff
Monday, April 09, 2007
BEIRUT: Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah declared on Sunday that Hizbullah will not be dragged into a civil war and is "giving up" its demand of "19+11" as the formula for the new cabinet - and told the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to go ahead and "replace" the six ministers who left in November.
"We don't want the 19+11, thank you very much, as you," said Nasrallah, who made a point of noting that he was speaking on behalf of Hizbullah, "not the opposition" as a whole.
"If we have to pick between a civil war and keeping the situation as it is, we prefer to continue with the political deadlock," he said during a ceremony honoring 1,734 university graduates belonging to the resistance.
After offering his best wishes to Christians on the occasion of Easter, Nasrallah told his followers that the doors are "completely closed" against further dialogue and there now exists "only two solutions" to five months of political impasse.
"Now we have to return to the people, and do a national poll on what they want, or we carry out early parliamentary elections. These are the only two ways out now," Nasrallah said.
He also warned the ruling coalition to decide "soon."
"Now it is easier to reach a settlement than later," he said, "because later, we will be deciding whether or not to give you the 11."
Nasrallah also denied reports that his party will be sending the UN Security Council a detailed list of modifications to the international court to try suspects in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
"Many have asked to see the list, including Iran and Saudi Arabia ... but we refuse to show it to anyone, expect the other Lebanese side," he said. "Unfortunately, the majority never wanted to discuss our modifications seriously."
"[UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon and others have now become the experts on Lebanese Constitution and have started to rule Lebanon," he quipped, criticizing pro-government MPs for having sent a petition that called on Ban to establish the court through the UN security Council.
Nasrallah accused the ruling majority of "scheming" and taking "their orders from the US."
"They don't want a national army, they want a sectarian one they can manipulate," he added. "But the army will not give in to the rule by militia leaders."
He also praised President Emile Lahoud as a "man" who withstood "wave after wave of insults and campaigns by the ruling majority."
Nasrallah also criticized the "weak" state, saying: "When you become a strong state, then come and talk to us about us becoming a state within a state."
Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has accused Hizbullah on Saturday of setting up "a state within the state," saying a settlement to the political crisis was not in the offing and urging the army to control tunnels allegedly used to smuggle weapons from Syria.
"The opposition is a state run by Iran and the Syrian regime in Lebanon. There is a state within the state," Jumblatt said in an interview with al-Jazeera satellite television. "We have the Hizbullah army in addition to the Lebanese Army, we have Hizbullah intelligence in addition to the Lebanese Army intelligence, there are territories that the Lebanese Army cannot enter and the Lebanese state cannot practice its authority on such lands."

Nasrallah Predicts a Half Century of Hizbullah Influence
Hizbullah leader Sayed Hassan Nasrallah said Sunday his group is ready to maintain course for the next 50 years to confront alleged attempts by the parliamentary majority to change Lebanon's identity.
"They are stuck with us for 50 years more," Nasrallah said. In a televised speech to 1.700 Hizbullah students who graduated with college degrees, Nasrallah also attacked the international tribunal saying it is designed to announce ready-made verdicts against certain suspects in the 2005 murder of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes. He said four generals jailed in connection with the crime were "political prisoners" in Lebanon.
He was referring to former director general of the general security department Gen. Jamil as-Sayyed, former commander of the internal security forces Gen. Ali el-Hajj, former Presidential Guards commander Brig. Gen. Mustafa Hamdan and former director of army intelligence Raymond Azar.
Nasrallah also proposed either a referendum or early elections to allow the Lebanese people have a say in the ongoing political crisis, "or else the status quo would persist for two more years" pending general elections to choose a new legislative authority.
"We are not in a hurry," Nasrallah stressed as the crowd gathered in south Beirut chanted Allah Akbar, Arabic for God is great.
He accused the Parliamentary majority which supports Premier Fouad Saniora's government of "carrying out (U.S. President George" Bush's instructions."
The majority, Nasrallah said, has hopes that a regional war would erupt in three months "that's April, May and June, against Iran … which would reflect on the whole region.""But what if such a war does not erupt?" Nasrallah asked. "and have they thought of repercussions of such a war in case it erupted?"
The Hizbullah-led opposition, according to Nasrallah, is "determined to avoid civil war. Nasrallah also paid tribute to President Emile Lahoud, terming him "a guardian of national principles." The Syrian-dominated Parliament convened in Sept. 2004 to amend the constitution and extend Lahoud's mandate for three years, in direct challenge to U.N. Security Council resolution 1559 which called for presidential elections without foreign intervention.
Syria maintained 30.000 troops in Lebanon until April 2005, when its army was pulled out two months after the Hariri assassination which has been widely blamed on the Damascus regime of President Bashar Assad. Beirut, 08 Apr 07, 19:24

Jumblat Targets Hizbullah State in Lebanon
Druze leader Walid Jumblat Has accused Hizbullah of setting up a state within the state, saying a settlement to the political crisis was not in the offing and urged the Lebanese army to control tunnels allegedly used to smuggle weapons from Syria to Lebanon.
The Daily an-Nahar quoted Jumblat as telling supporters at his ancestral palace in Mukhtara, in the chouf heartland southeast of Beirut that factions affiliated with Hizbullah are planning to stir up trouble in Mount Lebanon.
He warned against schemes to stir inter factional fighting in the Druze hinterland of Mount Lebanon by Syrian-backed groups.
"They are trying to set up a new Riyad Solh square in Mount Lebanon," Jumblat said. He was referring to the Makeshift tent city that has been erected since Dec. 1 by the Hizbullah-led opposition in downtown Beirut in a so far failed effort to topple Premier Fouad Saniora's Majority government.
He said the Tent city has become a "military camp not a sit-in protest stage."In an interview with al-Jazera satellite television network, Jumblat launched a vehement attack on the opposition asking: "what opposition?"
"The opposition is a state run by Iran and the Syrian regime in Lebanon. There is a state within the state. We have the Hizbullah army in addition to the Lebanese army, we have Hizbullah intelligence in addition to the Lebanese Army intelligence, there are territories that the Lebanese army cannot enter and the Lebanese state cannot practice its authority on such lands," Jumblat said. "What opposition? It is not more than Iranian-Syrian opposition (to the Lebanese government)," he added. Jumblat said: "We want the Syrian regime and agents of the Syrian regime to stop the assassinations. That is why we sought the help of the United Nations."
He was referring to the international tribunal that, once created, would try suspects in the 2005 assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes. The majority blames the killings on Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Damascus denies the charges. Syria's allies in the Hizbullah-led opposition have voiced "reservations" on the tribunal, but never outlined such objections formally. Majority MPs have sent a memo to the United Nations asking the International organization to adopt the needed measures to set up the tribunal after Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri rejected receiving its government prepared bill for ratification by the house.
Jumblat also attacked the Lebanese army command for issuing a statement prior to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's recent visit to Beirut claiming that weapons were not being smuggled in from neighboring Syria.
"Instead of the Media-political maneuver, the Lebanese army should have established control over (illegal) tunnels linking Lebanon to Syria and deployed in areas that are off limits for its troops" near the borders with Syria, Jumblat said. He also accused "Hizbullah and others" of setting up "training camps … The problem would cease to exist when the flow of weapons and ammunition across the Syrian borders stops. We want a Lebanese state."
U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended a 34-day war between Hizbullah and Israel on Aug. 14, has banned the smuggling of weapons into Lebanon. France is leading an effort at the U.N. Security Council to set up an independent mission to determine effectiveness of the Lebanese-Syrian border control arrangements.
The move was seen as a step aimed at providing international help to Lebanon to effectively control its borders with Syria.
Most of the border region with Syria is controlled by Hizbullah and Syrian-controlled Palestinian factions that maintain bases on Lebanese territory, allegedly linked to Syrian territory by a network of tunnels.Such illegal facilities are off limits to the Lebanese army.
Jumblat, further more, rejected repeated calls by Berri for talks by the various Lebanese factions in Saudi Arabia to work out a settlement to the ongoing political crisis. "We go to Saudi Arabia to announce a settlement, but the agreement should be worked out and reached in Lebanon," Jumblat added.
He echoed remarks made by Parliamentary majority Leader Saad Hariri that a settlement to the Lebanese crisis should be worked out in Lebanon, and can be announced in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia also has made it clear it was ready to host the declaration of a Lebanese settlement, stressing that talks to work out the deal should be carried out in Lebanon without interference by non-Lebanese parties. Beirut, 08 Apr 07, 10:47

Pope laments 'slaughter' in Iraq
By FRANCES D'EMILIO, Associated Press Writer
VATICAN CITY - In his Easter message on Christianity's most joyous day, Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday decried suffering in the world, lamenting the "continual slaughter" in Iraq and expressing worry over unrest and instability in Afghanistan.
"In the Middle East, besides some signs of hope in the dialogue between Israel and the Palestine Authority, nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees," Benedict told tens of thousands of faithful in St. Peter's Square.
Delivering his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" Easter address from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica as tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists listened in the square, the pontiff noted "how many wounds, how much suffering there is in the world."
Benedict read out a litany of troubling current events, saying he was thinking of the "terrorism and kidnapping of people, of the thousand faces of violence which some people attempt to justify in the name of religion, of contempt for life, of the violation of human rights and the exploitation of persons."
He singled out what he called the "catastrophic, and sad to say, underestimated, humanitarian situation" in Darfur as well as other African places of suffering, including violence and looting in Congo, fighting in Somalia — which, he said, drove away the prospect of peace — and the "grievous crisis" in Zimbabwe, marked by crackdowns on dissidents, a disastrous economy and severe corruption.
Benedict said only a negotiated solution could end the drawn-out, bloody conflict in Sri Lanka, and said East Timor needs reconciliation ahead of elections. Earlier he celebrated Easter Sunday Mass on the flower-adorned steps of St. Peter's Basilica.
The voices of Choir boys rang across the square. Wearing gold-colored vestments, the pope gripped a slender, silver crucifix as clerics sprinkled incense across the steps. The altar area was ablaze with color — red tulips, orange tiger lilies and yellow broom plants were among the flowers delivered from the Netherlands — and at the end of the service the pope thanked the Dutch for the gift.
Benedict ended his appearance by giving Easter greetings in dozens of languages, including Arabic and Hebrew, and giving the crowd his apostolic blessing. The Vatican said that TV outlets in 67 countries had arranged satellite links for the Easter service. The boulevard leading from the Tiber River to the square was filled with numerous languages and tourists, toting backpacks and wearing hats against the sunshine, headed toward the Mass site.
After Sunday's events, Benedict heads to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, in the Alban Hills south of Rome, for a few days of rest.
When he returns to Rome, Benedict has two important dates on his calendar: his 80th birthday on April 16, and the second anniversary of his election as pope three days later.

Pro-government leader accuses Lebanese security agents of helping Hezbollah smuggle in weapons
The Associated Press - Published: April 7, 2007
BEIRUT, Lebanon: A senior Lebanese anti-Syrian politician alleged on Saturday that Lebanese security agents were involved in helping Hezbollah guerrillas smuggle in weapons across the country's porous border with Syria.
Druse leader Walid Jumblatt told the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite television channel that there is "complicity" between Hezbollah and some Lebanese security agents on the border who are allowing trucks to pass without being searched.
"Nobody knows what's inside these trucks," Jumblatt said without elaborating.
Jumblatt, a legislator and key government supporter, also said in the interview that he believes the Lebanese army should enter Hezbollah training camps along the Syrian-Lebanese boundary. The existence of such camps has never been confirmed by the Hezbollah or Lebanese security officials.
Also, such a crackdown against the Hezbollah would spark a major upheaval. The Lebanese army has so far been refused to be drawn into a conflict with the guerrillas and has taken a neutral stand in the political crisis between government and the Hezbollah-led opposition.
The army has said it will not move against either side, but also that it would not allow the dispute to degenerate into street violence, as was the case in December and January, when clashes took on a sectarian tone. Nine people were killed in the violence. At the time, the army came out onto the streets and briefly imposed a rare nighttime curfew.
Jumblatt's comments came a day after France circulated a draft U.N. Security Council statement expressing "serious concern" at mounting reports of illegal arms transfers across the Lebanon-Syria border and authorizing an independent mission to assess how the frontier is being guarded.
The draft, sent to Security Council members late Thursday, welcomes the Lebanese government's "determination" to prevent transfers of weapons — banned under a U.N. resolution that ended last summer's war between Hezbollah and Israel. It also urges all countries, especially Hezbollah backers Syria and Iran, to enforce the arms embargo.
"There is a state within a state," Jumblatt said of Lebanon in the interview. "There is a Hezbollah army alongside the Lebanese army. There is Hezbollah intelligence alongside Lebanese (army) intelligence and there are Lebanese territories that the army is prohibited from entering."
"The Lebanese army should have ... entered the areas between Lebanon and Syria that are off-limits," he added.
Jumblatt, a one-time ally of Hezbollah, turned against the group last year and has been among the most ardent callers for disarming it.
Mahmoud Komati, the deputy leader of Hezbollah's political bureau, promptly denied Jumblatt's allegations, telling Al-Jazeera that "all these accusations are part of the conspiracy against the resistance."
The Hezbollah-led opposition in Lebanon has been locked in a bitter struggle with the U.S-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.
Despite his anti-Syrian stance, Saniora recently conceded that "not one single case of arms smuggling across the border" with Syria has been recorded.
The opposition has been staging protests and an open ended sit-in since Dec. 1 to try and force Saniora to resign after he rejected its call for a national unity government that would give it a veto-wielding share in Cabinet.

UN may form c'tee to review weapons smuggling to Lebanon
By Shlomo Shamir
NEW YORK - The United Nations Security Council will consider forming a special committee to review accusations that Syria and Iran are smuggling arms to Hezbollah through southern Lebanon. The possibility of forming committee was included in a statement by the Security Council president, U.K. Ambassador to the UN Sir Emyr Parry Jones. The statement was circulated among member states in preparation of a discussion on the matter tomorrow.
The statement proposes forming a team of experts commissioned by Britain, France and the U.S., to examine whether weapons are indeed being smuggled to Lebanon, as Israel has repeatedly claimed. The initiative was launched Friday, and was considered a significant step toward resolving the issue. However, the statement stipulates that the proposed committee will only be formed if all 15 members of the Security Council vote in favor of it.
The Security Council presidency is rotated alphabetically each month. This means the formation of the committee is dependent on the consent of member countries such as Qatar, South Africa, Indonesia and Russia, among others.
"The initiative is a demonstration of the ongoing effort to counter the efforts of Hezbollah and to promote stability within Lebanon," a senior diplomat told Haaretz. The initiative is a result of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's briefing last week to member states, following his tour in the Middle East.
Sources in New York said the secretary-general informed the Security Council that he had obtained evidence from Israel and from "another country" that indicate Syria and Iran were indeed smuggling arms into Lebanon.

The Ridiculous Furor Over Nancy Pelosi's Visit to Syria
By Jeff Musall
Published April 07, 2007
The Speaker of the House, California Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi, recently made a trip to the Middle East. Her most publicized stop was in Syria. The rank hypocrisy of the right on this issue should shame even their most ardent supporters.
While Congress and President Bush are on vacation, Nancy Pelosi undertook a mission to further understanding and try to increase dialog in a region sorely lacking any constructive communication. The recent favorable outcome of the British sailors and marines held by Iran shows that cooler heads and diplomacy can be successful tools. Still, the mouthpieces of the right can't stop ranting about her visit. The vitriolic attacks are even coming from the highest levels, most notable the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney.
"I think it is fact bad behavior on her part. I wish she hadn't done it. But she's the Speaker of the House and fortunately I think the various parties involved realize she doesn't speak for the United States in those circumstances." Cheney said on Rush Limbaugh's radio show.
The Wall Street Journal even published an op-ed on Friday suggesting that Nancy Pelosi broke the law, writing about the Logan Act, which according to the journal "makes it a felony and provides for a prison sentence of up to three years for any American 'without authority of the United States' to communicate with a foreign government in an effort to influence that government's behavior on any disputes or controversies."
Some pundits on the right have taken up the position, even calling for her arrest. They don't mention the three Republican representatives that also visited during the same week. Or if they do mention it, they say that because she is House Speaker that she is somehow in a different category.
Nancy Pelosi - and the other representatives who have made the effort - are doing their jobs. Fact-finding instead of relying just on reports that favor views the White House wants expressed. Like the "walk around town" taken by Arizona Senator John McCain in Baghdad. They seek real information that they can base sound decisions on policy. A sound approach, especially in light of the record of the Bush Administration.
Also, they are taking the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group to heart. One of the foremost recommendations of the advisory group was that a deeper dialog with other countries in the region needed to be undertaken. The region seems eager to try to move beyond current stalemates.
In the most stupid of the criticisms of Nancy Pelosi, she has been hammered by the right for wearing a head scarf. It was reported by some as a "burhka" which covers the entire head and face. In fact, it was just a headscarf. They don't mention that Laura Bush took the same step when visiting the Middle East. It was no more than a polite deference to the culture she was in.
That so many buy into the hypocrisy is indeed disturbing. Funny, they are the same people who find no problem with the Bush Administration sending Canadian citizens to Syria under dubious circumstances where they get tortured. But actually talking to them above board doesn't seem like a good idea to them. If Condolezza Rice and the rest of the American diplomatic corps are not interested in expanding dialog, it is heartening to know that some are.

Rep.: Israel Said No Syria Attack Plan
Sunday April 8, 2007 2:31 AM
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a visiting group of U.S. lawmakers to relay to Syria that Israel had no intention of attacking it, according to one of the participants on the trip, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.
``He very clearly said he was worried that Syria might misinterpret some things that were happening in Israel, and he didn't want to end up in an accidental war with them,'' Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress, said in a telephone interview Saturday. ``So he told us to tell them that he was not planning to attack them.'' Ellison said Olmert was concerned that if Syria believed that Israel was planning an attack, the Syrians would make preparations to defend against one, and then a conflict could be provoked if something unexpected happened at the border.
The Israeli embassy in Washington had no immediate comment on Ellison's account. There was no answer at the Syrian embassy on Saturday.
Ellison said Olmert didn't specify what Syria might ``misinterpret.'' He said the group relayed the message to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The leader of the congressional delegation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said earlier this week that she had delivered a message from Olmert that Israel was ready for peace talks, and that Assad had replied that ``he's ready to engage in negotiations for peace with Israel.'' But Olmert's office later issued a statement saying peace talks could take place only if Syria stopped assisting terror groups.
President Bush criticized Pelosi for meeting with Assad, because the administration considers Syria to be a state supporter of terrorism.
Ellison, who also met with Assad, rejected that criticism.
``If we want to change Syria's behavior, we have to tell that to them,'' he said. ``We have to make it clear to them. We have to engage. We have to talk to people.'' The trip also included visits to Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Ellison called Saudi King Abdullah a ``visionary leader.''
``Even being in the same country where Mecca and Medina are located was personally uplifting for me,'' he said. In Jerusalem, Ellison visited the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam's third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina, which he called ``personally moving for me.''
He said he was well received in Israel.
``Nice people, serious about the issues,'' Ellison said. ``What I admired in Israel was the very frank and widely diverse points of view that were expressed. People there love a lively debate. And they had one.''
Ellison said he didn't share his views on the peace process with the Israelis.
``I wasn't really there for that reason,'' he said. ``I was there to listen a lot. I asked a lot of questions. I definitely talked less than I listened. This is my first trip to the region, and all the reading I've done and all the conversations I had don't compare to really being there - just seeing how close the holy sites are to each other.'' He said he would like the U.S. to be more engaged in the peace process.
``It's a good thing that Condoleezza Rice has started to go back to the region,'' he said of the secretary of state. ``The United States cannot simply fold its arms and turn its back on the Middle East.'' The group also met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.
``He needs to be strengthened, his hand needs to be improved,'' Ellison said. ``And the world needs to step up and help him if they want him to be successful.'' Abbas' Fatah movement is part of a Palestinian unity government that also includes the militant Islamic Hamas. While the U.S. has met with non-Hamas members of the government, it refuses to meet with Hamas officials.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iran & Syria prepare in case of war
Sunday, 8 April, 2007 @ 3:36 AM
By Nicholas Blanford
Beirut- The prospect of an attack by the United States against Iran has triggered a flurry of military activity around the Middle East as Tehran mobilizes its allies to prepare a defense.In a region where suspicion dominates and trust is rare, politicians and analysts warn, mounting tensions between the US and Iran could spark a war by accident.
"The situation is such that you can't rule out an unplanned development," says Zvi Shtauber, director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University in Israel. "Since we're living in an era where there is no negotiation, it looks like everything is open.... things are so fragile that you could have an accidental development."
Those concerns were voiced this week by Amos Yadlin, Israel's chief of military intelligence, who told the government that Lebanese Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran are making defensive preparations in expectation of war. "We are closely monitoring these preparations because [Iran, Syria and Hezbollah] could misinter-pret various moves in the region," Mr. Yadlin was quoted by the Israeli Haaretz daily as saying. Israeli media reported that Israel asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record) to relay to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during her visit to Damascus Wednesday a message of reassurance that Israel has no intention of attacking.
Still, the Middle East has a grim history of bellicose rhetoric and military gestures causing unintended consequences. A fatal chain of misinterpreted muscle-flexing moves by Egypt and Israel provoked the Arab-Israeli war of June 1967, a conflict that redrew the geostrategic map of the Middle East, and the repercussions of which continue to be felt today.
More recently, Hezbollah's abduction of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12 last year sparked a 34-day war that cost Lebanon more than 1,000 lives and damage estimated at $3.6 billion. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah subsequently all but admitted that the party's leadership had misread Israel's response to the abduction of the two soldiers.
"If any of us had a 1 percent doubt that Israel was going to reply in this savage manner, we wouldn't have captured those soldiers," he said in a television interview.President George W. Bush has vowed to resolve the crisis over Iran's nuclear ambitions by the time he leaves office in early 2009.
Although the White House says it is pursuing diplomacy to achieve its goal, it refuses to rule out the military option. The recent disappearance of a senior Iranian general, the arrests of Iranian diplomats in Iraq, and the deployment of US naval battle groups in the Persian Gulf have raised expectations in the region that a US attack on Iran may be imminent.
"US threats against Iran are no longer regarded by the Iranians and Syrians as just saber-rattling, and it's only natural that they prepare themselves," says Amal Saad-Ghorayeb of the Carnegie Endowment's Middle East Center in Beirut.
Hezbollah officials and fighters say that the party has launched an intensified training program with new recruits pushed through month-long courses in camps scattered along the flanks of the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon. Veteran fighters receive refresher courses and can volunteer for 45-day programs to join special-forces units.
"There is a high level of recruitment. The rearmament is happening because there will be a war with Syria. The Israelis cannot accept the insult of the July war," says Mohammed, a Hezbollah activist in Beirut, referring to last summer's conflict.
Analysts suspect, however, that Israel will bide its time to absorb and apply the lessons learned from last summer's conflict before contemplating a second round with its Lebanese foe.
Nawaf Mussawi, Hezbollah's foreign affairs adviser, says he doubts that Israel's government is strong enough domestically to persuade the public to support a second major war against Lebanon. But, he adds, Hezbollah "is ready for all eventualities."
"What we expect, or don't expect, from Israel has nothing to do with our preparations. In any situation, we are prepared," Mr. Mussawi says.
Iran's regionwide defensive preparations against a potential US attack, ironically, have been aided by Washington's policy of politically isolating Syria since 2003 and the Hamas-led Palestinian government since last year.
Ignored by the US and Europe, Syria and Hamas turned to Iran. In June 2006, Syria and Iran signed a mutual defense pact and last month inked a protocol on deepening bilateral military cooperation.
"There is a belief very much in Syria and certainly with Hezbollah that, should the Americans attack Iran, then Israel will get involved in a preemptive operation here," says Timur Goksel, a Beirut-based security-affairs analyst.
A Lebanese intelligence source says that the Syrian Army is being taught some of the guerrilla-style tactics devised by Hezbollah in Lebanon. "The Iranians are trying to convince Syria that if they use the same tactics as Hezbollah and if they can last 20 to 30 days in a war with Israel before a cease-fire, then [the public perception will be that] they will have won and Israel will have lost," the source says.
Iran also took advantage of the refusal by Israel and the US to deal with the Hamas government in the Palestinian territories, which was elected in January 2006. Tehran stepped into the gap, pledging Hamas $150 million to compensate for the freeze on Western development aid.
Israel claims that dozens of Hamas militants have traveled to Iran for training and that Iranian-supplied weapons are being smuggled via tunnels from Egypt into Gaza. "Hamas is doing all its best to arm itself. The attempt to stop it is like putting a door in the middle of the desert," Dr. Shtauber says, commenting on an Egyptian promise this week to stave the flow of weapons. "You can just go around it."
Sources: The Christian Science Monitor

Lebanese are proud of their army but against armed militia
Saturday, 7 April, 2007
Beirut- A recent opinion poll in Lebanon shows 95.75% of the Lebanese are proud of their army as a national institution and almost the same percentage of Lebanese wish to see Lebanon free of militia & armed people
Statistics Lebanon Ltd. for Polling and Research conducted this opinion poll to register the opinions of the Lebanese on the general situation in the country, the role of the army, in addition to the various opposition demonstrations. The poll was executed between 17 and 21 February, 2007.
The Methodology
The polling methods used in this survey included direct personal interviewing and cluster sampling on a sample of 400 respondents residing in Beirut, Mount Lebanon, the South, the North and the Beqaa. The sample comprised an equal number of respondents from both genders from a variety of age groups. The three social statuses (upper, middle and lower) were also represented in the sample as well as a variety of income levels, educational levels and sects.
The Field Work
Twelve field workers, divided into four teams, conducted the poll. A team leader was in charge of each team to direct it and supervise the work in the designated areas. A general supervisor oversaw all the execution steps of the field work, including the distribution of maps, designating the execution locations and directing the team leaders to the required samples.
Data Entry
After the completion of the field work phase, the data was fed into the computer to reveal the results of the poll.
Subject of the Poll
It was necessary to register the opinions of the Lebanese public in light of the recent events that took the country by storm, as well as the ongoing demonstrations and the new role the army is playing in the South. The poll also aimed to register the opinions of the Lebanese regarding the efficacy of the demonstrations and the governmental crisis as a whole.
Results of the Poll
Question 1: Do you support the ongoing demonstrations in Beirut?
The results reveal that 54.75% of the respondents do not support the demonstrations; 42.50% do; 1.75% answered, "I don't know", and 1.00% refused to respond.
Question 2: Has the demonstration achieved its primary goals?
A majority of 82.00% of the respondents saw that the ongoing demonstrations have not achieved their goals, another 13.65% saw otherwise, 3.00% answered "I don't know", and 1.25% refused to respond.
A breakdown of responses according to level of education reveals that 84.55% of respondents with university degrees contend that the demonstrations have not accomplished their goals, as do 83.55% of respondents with a secondary degree, and 78.26% of respondents with an intermediate degree.
Question 3: Are the demonstrations hurting the Lebanese economy?
67.00% of the respondents contend that they are, compared to 31.00% who believe otherwise; 1.75% answered, "I don't know", and 0.25% refused to respond.
Question 4: Are the demonstrations reflecting negatively on your daily life or the daily lives of people you know?
57.75% of the respondents contended that the demonstrations are indeed affecting their daily lives or the lives of people they know negatively. On the other hand, 41.00% see otherwise; 1.25% of the respondents answered, "I don't know".
A breakdown of responses according to area of residence reveals that 88.75% of the residents of West Beirut, 75.00% of the residents of East Beirut, 71.25% of northerners, and 60.00% of the residents of the Beqaa are affected negatively by the demonstrations. On the other hand, 67.31% of southerners and 50.34% of residents of Mount Lebanon are not affected negatively by the demonstration.
Question 5: Do you consider the blockade of the airport road and other main roads an appropriate way for political expression?
63.50% of the respondents do not consider such measures appropriate political expression methods; 32.85% see otherwise, 2.75% answered, "I don't know", and 1.00% refused to respond.
A breakdown of responses according to sect reveals that 92.31% of the Druzes, 89.91% of Sunnis, and 55.13% of Christians consider road blockading an inappropriate method of political expression; 51.38% of Shiites see otherwise.
Question 6: What is the best method for resolving the current political crisis?
The responses came as follows: 31.75% chose, "reform, finalizing an electoral law, setting a timetable for reform as well as a date for elections when these reforms are implemented." On the other hand, 21.00% consider that the best resolution to the crisis is through, "pushing forward the date of the presidential election"; 17.75% named "expanding the cabinet to include the Free Patriotic Movement and Hezbollah," 10.75% named "holding early elections without taking reforms into consideration," and 7.75% named "dissolving the cabinet and calling on Hezbollah and its allies to establish a new one." 7.27% of the respondents refused to respond and 3.75% answered, "I don't know."
The results to this question came as follows: 49.50% said their perception has remained unchanged, 23.50% said it has worsened, 19.25% said it has improved, 5.50% contended they had insufficient information on the conference, 1.75% did not respond, and 0.50% answered, "I don't know".
Question 7: Have you followed on the army's deployment in the South?
89.00% of the Lebanese have followed the army's deployment into the South; 10.00% did not, 0.75% answered, "I don't know", and 0.25% refused to respond.
A breakdown of responses according to age reveals that 97.89% of respondents aged 40 – 59, 90.91% of those aged above 60, and 83.47% of those aged 18 – 39 followed the army's deployment in the South.
Question 8: How would you evaluate the performance of the armed units of the Lebanese army in the South?
58.25% of the respondents consider that the performance of the armed units is "very good"; 30.75% considers it is "good"; 8.50% consider it is "mediocre"; 1.75% considers it is "dissatisfying"; 0.75% considers it is "very dissatisfying".
The results reveal that 89.00% of the Lebanese public is satisfied with the performance of the army dispatched to the South; compared to 2.50% who see otherwise.
A breakdown of responses according to area of residence reveals that the vast majority of respondents from various areas of the country are satisfied with the performance of the Lebanese armed forces in the south: 92.86% of the residents of East Beirut, 91.03% of the residents of Mount Lebanon, 90.00% of northerners, 88.57% of West Beirut residents, 86.54% of southerners, and 83.34% of the Beqaa residents.
Question 9: Are you have pride in LAF as a national institution?
95.75% of the Lebanese are proud of the army, 2.50% are not, 1.00% refused to respond, and 0.75% answered, "I don't know".
Question 10: How do you rate the performance of the LAF during the recent troubles in Beirut?
The results came as follows: 46.25% answered "very good", 32.00% said "good", 18.00% said "mediocre", 2.50% said "dissatisfying", 1.00% said "very dissatisfying", 0.25% refused to respond.
The results reveal that 78.25% of the Lebanese were satisfied with the performance of the army; 3.50% saw otherwise.
Question 11: Do you consider that the army's military capabilities and training refutes the argument that certain unofficial groups have a claim to arms for defensive reasons?
65.25% of the respondents agree with this statement, 21.75% of them disagree with it, 9.25% answered, "I don't know", and 3.75% refused to respond.
A breakdown of responses according to sect reveals that 80.77% of Druzes, 76.15% of Sunni, 70.51% of Christians, and 43.12% of Shiites agree with this statement.
Question 12: Would you like to see a day when there are no militias in the country?
A majority of 93.25% of the Lebanese have this aspiration, compared to 3.75% who don't; 1.50% answered, "I don't know" and 1.50% refused to respond.
This poll revealed the following opinions from the Lebanese:
* The vast majority of the Lebanese is proud of the army as a national institution;
* A majority of the Lebanese aspires for a Lebanon devoid of militias and armed, unofficial forces, such as Hezbollah and the armed Palestinian militia.
* A majority of the Lebanese is satisfied with performance of the army in the South;
* A majority does not support the ongoing demonstrations in Beirut;
* A majority sees that the demonstrations are harming the Lebanese economy;
* A majority sees that the demonstrations have not accomplished their principal goals;
*A majority considers road blockading an inappropriate method of political expression.
Picture: Lebanese army chief Michel Suleiman , gets high credit for the way he manages the armed forces in Lebanon and for the high regard Lebanese have for the army.

Hamadeh: Siniora studying issue of replacing resigned ministers

Saturday, 7 April, 2007
Beirut- Lebanon’s minister of communications MP Marwan Hamadeh disclosed that Prime Minister Foaud Siniora is studying the issue of replacing the resigned ministers and is going to ask the president to issue the decrees on this matter.
During an interview with Kuwaiti newspaper Al Seyasseh he emphasized that the parliament majority has no other choice.
With regards to the international tribunal for bringing to justice all involved in the Hariri murder , Hemadeh disclosed that deep inside Berri is for the tribunal , but he is under a lot of pressure from Hezbollah and the Syrian regime to oppose it .
Hamadeh denied that the parliament majority wants to control Lebanon, accusing instead Hezbollah and its allies of wanting to do so, since they want to keep their arms to act “as a state within a state”.
Hamadeh disclosed that “president Lahoud means nothing to Berri, since he strongly opposed the extension of his term and that they rarely see one another”.
Hamadeh said the” battle between the government and opposition is crystal clear. All the opposition wants to do is to take Lebanon back into Syria’s orbit of influence”. The refusal of the opposition to reveal their comments about the international tribunal is a proof that they wanted to protect Syria.
Hemadeh said neither Hezbollah, nor Michel Aoun, or Amal etc. can change the Lebanese direction for independence , freedom and sovereignty.
Hemadeh assured the Lebanese that Syria will fail in undermining Lebanon’s institutions . he added “ the new president will not be another Syrian puppet, but will be from the March 14 alliance .
Sources: LBC, Ya Libnan

UN mission to probe Lebanon - Syria border arms smuggling
Saturday, 7 April, 2007
Beirut & Paris- France circulated a draft Security Council statement that expresses "serious concern" at mounting reports of illegal arms transfers from Syria to Lebanon and authorizes an independent mission to assess how their border is being monitored.
The proposed presidential statement, sent to council members late Thursday and obtained Friday, welcomes the Lebanese government's "determination" to prevent arms transfer, which are banned under U.N. resolution 1701 that ended last summer's war between Israel and Hezbollah.
It reiterates the council's call on the Syrian government "to take further measures to reinforce controls at the border," and it urges all countries, especially Syria and Iran, to enforce the arms embargo.
The council is expected to discuss the draft statement, probably next week.
The draft welcomes Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's intention to evaluate the situation along the border in cooperation with the Lebanese government "and invites him to dispatch at the earliest an independent mission to fully assess the monitoring of the border."
Last Saturday, Ban warned during a visit to Lebanon that arms smuggling from Syria could threaten the cease-fire in Lebanon and urged full compliance with Resolution 1701.
"There are intelligence reports that arms are smuggled. I am concerned by that kind of arms smuggling, which will destabilize the situation in Lebanon," he said.An Nahar daily said Ban told Lebanese security chiefs that Israel had provided him with "evidence and pictures" of trucks crossing from Syria to Lebanon and unloading weapons.
Ban expressed the need for "an enhanced monitoring capacity of the Lebanese armed forces to ensure that there will be no such smuggling activity."
Asked again Thursday about the arms smuggling allegations, Ban said, they "should independently be assessed."
In the French draft, the Security Council would express "its serious concern at mounting reports of illegal movements of arms across the Lebanese-Syrian border in violation of resolution 1701."
When the council receives recommendations from the secretary-general, the draft says it will take further steps to achieve the goals of banning the sale or transfer of arms or technical assistance to any entity or individual not authorized by the Lebanese government.
The council would also reiterate "its deep concern at the continuing Israeli violations of Lebanese air space" and appeal to all parties to respect the ceasefire and the U.N.-drawn boundary between Israel and Lebanon known as the Blue Line, and "refrain from any provocation."
Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said at a news conference with Ban that the government was trying to improve its monitoring capabilities but stressed that "not one single case of arms smuggling across the border" with Syria has been recorded.
In February, Hezbollah acknowledged that a truckload of ammunition seized by the government belonged to the group and demanded its release. It urged the government to abide by its own policy, proclaimed in 2005, to support the "resistance" in the south.
The French draft expresses "deep concern" at statements by Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, notably about the February arms shipment, which "are an open admission of activities which would constitute a violation of resolution 1701."
It again urges Israel to provide the U.N. with detailed data on its use of cluster bombs in southern Lebanon.
The proposed statement notes "with profound concern" that there has been no progress on the issue of returning two Israeli soldiers abducted by Hezbollah, which triggered the war on July 12, and encourages efforts to urgently settle the issue of Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel.
Sources: AP, Ya Libnan

Crossing the Blue Line – UNIFIL & the People of Southern Lebanon
Written by Roman Lederer & TML Staff
Published Sunday, April 08, 2007
[A-Naqoura, Lebanon] Bassam Salim isn’t really on bad terms with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). He just has one wish: “They should send them to the other side of the border fence,” the young man from Southern Lebanon’s Palestinian A-Rashidiyya refugee camp says. “There they could protect the Palestinian people from the Israeli army.”
Right now the opposite is the case, the 22-year-old, whose father fled the Palestinian town of Akkar in 1948, claims.
“I wouldn’t say that Israel is completely controlling UNIFIL, but for sure it’s a strong power that influences their politics.”
Day-in, day-out, the white armored carriers, jeeps, and trucks of the approximately 12,500 international protection forces drive along the worn-down road coming from Tyre and passing by the A-Rashidiyya camp. From here to Israel’s northern frontier with Lebanon it’s only about 15 miles, and just a few minutes before the Israeli border towers come into sight in the small Mediterranean village of A-Naqoura, where UNIFIL has erected its headquarters – already there since 1978 and reinforced after the Second Lebanon War last summer.
Back in those days, UNIFIL’s first mission was to overview the retreat of the Israeli army after its first invasion of Lebanon, something the Lebanese had to wait for 22 years: only in spring 2000, after the bloody offensives of 1993 and 1996, did then-prime minister Ehud Barak order his troops to abandon the Security Zone and pull back to the south of the Blue Line.
Seven years and one war later, Israel’s failure to respect Lebanon’s sovereignty has not stopped though, United Nations Security General Ban Ki-moon says in his latest report.
“Throughout the period under review, UNIFIL continued to report Israeli air violations of the Blue Line, through jet and unmanned aerial vehicle over-flights. The incursions into Lebanese airspace continue on an almost daily basis,” the report on the implementation of the United Nation’s Security Council’s Resolution 1701 claimed in the middle of March.
Israeli officials would not provide a formal response to allegations that Israel was violating Lebanese air space. While maintaining that UNIFIL is doing an important job in southern Lebanon, Israeli government officials say the country will do whatever is necessary to maintain its security.
Resolution 1701 brought an end to last summer’s war between Israel and Lebanon’s Hizbullah and allowed UNIFIL to rise to a maximum number of 15,000 soldiers.
Hizbullah, which even during the years of the Israeli occupation, mostly cooperated well with the foreign troops, has welcomed the arrival of the new forces. In February, however, Spanish troops near the south-eastern town of Debeen, were attacked by local youths who threw stones at them.
Shortly afterward Hizbullah General-Secretary Hasan Na'srallah declared that it was not in the “interest of Lebanon, the south and the resistance to have trouble with” UNIFIL.
This is a view that Rana Hamze agrees with. Right across from the UNIFIL-headquarters in A-Naqoura, her family runs a souvenir shop, where cups, flags, badges, pins, and medals are sold. The presence of thousands of foreigners on their several month tours of duty has apparently helped business.
“During the war we didn’t know if the food would last until the end of the day,” she says. “But now we definitely can’t complain.”
French, Italian and Ghanian soldiers frequent the alleys of restaurants and souvenir shops that line the main street of A-Naqoura. Cups with the Hizbullah emblems, CDs with speeches by Na'srallah and the jerseys of the world’s major football teams are on sale here – a scene resembling far-off-places such as Kosovo or Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the presence of the international organization Blue Helmets has also helped stabilize the local economy.
Whether UNIFIL is able to secure peace is another question.
“On a number of occasions, however, UNIFIL came across abandoned unauthorized arms, ammunition or related material in its area of operations south of the Litani River,” it also says in the secretary general’s report.
Na'srallah has repeatedly made it clear that Hizbullah not only has plenty of weapons, but also the right to transport its arms within the country in order to combat Israel. Israel claims there have been hundreds of arms shipments to Hizbullah, including short- and longer-range rockets, anti-tank and anti-aircraft defense systems, which have crossed the Lebanese-Syrian border since the end of the 2006 conflict.
“Unfortunately,” an Israeli official said, “Resolution 1701 has not been fully implemented until this day. Hizbullah was not disarmed.”
On the ground, however, these reports do not necessarily worry the citizens of the south. The history of Israeli excursions and Hizbullah reprisals has been too long for UNIFIL’s larger presence to mark something significantly new. There are other concerns.
Nabil al-Baradei for example, a member of Tyre’s City Council and owner of a construction firm involved in about two-dozen projects between Tyre and A-Naqoura, wishes UNIFIL would take a more economic approach.
“They should encourage the local industry much more,” he says, while inspecting a construction site in the town of Man'souriyya, which lies between the A-Rashidiyya refugee camp and A-Naqoura. “Why don’t they support the foundation of a juice factory, for example?”
Such a step would not only bring employment to dozens of poor workers now seeking jobs, but could also increase the acceptance of the foreign troops, he believes. Mona Khalil, who runs a guesthouse in Man'souriyya, agrees with al-Baradei. “What the people in the south need are jobs, not more soldiers,“ she says.
After the experience of last year’s war she doesn’t’ have much confidence in UNIFIL’s abilities to prevent a new conflict anyway.
“UNIFIL was here in the summer, but the war took place nevertheless.”
Her major complaint about the new troops is much more down to earth:
“Since the Chinese opened up their headquarters in Al-Hiniyya, all the grocery shops in the area have run out of glass noodles,” she says, smiling.
Copyright © 2006 The Media Line. All Rights Reserved.

Hezbollah's Nasrallah speech is bad news for Lebanon
Sunday, 8 April, 2007 @ 10:35 PM

Beirut - Nasrallah was very defiant today and had bad news for the Lebanese . His group he said on Easter Sunday is ready to maintain course for the next 50 years to confront alleged attempts by the parliamentary majority to change Lebanon's identity.

"They are stuck with us for 50 years more," Nasrallah said.

But the kind of identity Hezbollah wants for Lebanon does not spell out good news for Lebanon…

Hezbollah has been accused by the parliament majority of trying to bring Syria back to Lebanon. Jumblatt today accused Hezbollah and the opposition as being a’ state within a state’:

"The opposition is a state run by Iran and the Syrian regime in Lebanon. There is a state within the state. We have the Hezbollah army in addition to the Lebanese army, we have Hezbollah intelligence in addition to the Lebanese Army intelligence, there are territories that the Lebanese army cannot enter and the Lebanese state cannot practice its authority on such lands," Jumblatt said.

In his televised speech to 1700 Hezbollah students who graduated from a Hezbollah run university , Nasrallah also attacked the international tribunal saying it is designed to announce the verdicts that have already been made against certain suspects in the 2005 murder of former PM Rafik Hariri and related crimes.

He called the four generals jailed in connection with the Hariri crime "political prisoners" in Lebanon and strongly defended them .

Nasrallah was of course referring to the former director general of the general security department Gen. Jamil as-Sayyed, former Presidential Guards commander Brig. Gen. Mustafa Hamdan , former commander of the internal security forces Gen. Ali el-Hajj, and former director of army intelligence Raymond Azar.

All the above generals have been accused by former UN chief investigator Detlev Mehlis of being behind the Hariri crime. According to Mehlis report General Jamil Al-Sayyed cooperated closely with General Mustapha Hamdan and General Raymond Azar in the preparation of the assassination of Mr. Hariri. He also coordinated with the Syrian General Rustom Ghazaleh and the fugitive Palestinian terrorist leader Ahmad Jibreel in Lebanon.

Further, according to Mehlis report General Hamdan and General Azar provided logistical support( providing money, telephones, cars, walkie-talkies, pagers, weapons, ID-cards etc.). Those who knew of the crime in advance were among others, former pro- Syrian MP Nasser Kandil and General Ali Al-Hajj.

Nasrallah also paid tribute to the very unpopular Lebanese president President Emile Lahoud, terming him "a guardian of national principles."

Lahoud’s term was illegally extended in 2004 when the Syrian regime of Bashar el Assad forced the Lebanese parliament to amend the constitution in order to extend Lahoud's mandate for three years, in direct challenge to U.N. Security Council resolution 1559 which called for presidential elections without foreign intervention.

President Assad calls Lahoud ‘ my personal representative in Lebanon and Lahoud used to say during his trips to Syria ‘ I am a soldier in the Syrian army according to former Syrian VP Abdel Halim Khadam .

Nasrallah let down the Lebanese today

For Nasrallah to call Lahoud a “guardian of national principals” is an insult to all the Lebanese, when the majority considers him illegitimate.

Instead of apologizing to the nation for the blunder in July last summer when he triggered the war with Israel , which devastated the country , Nasrallah is more defiant than ever and acted as the dictator of Lebanon

The Lebanese expected him to defend Lebanon’s independence, sovereignty and freedom , instead of defending the jailed criminals behind the Hariri crime ..

The Lebanese expected Nasrallah to defend the tribunal whose sole aim is to find the truth about the Hariri assassination and to bring to Justice those that committed the crime .?…One local observer who was angered by Nasrallah’s attack on the tribunal told Ya Libnan :” Nasrallah always led us to believe that he prided himself of being a personal friend of former PM Rafik Hariri . What kind of friendship is this ? As they say with friends like this who needs enemies “ He added ?

Another observer told Ya Libnan: “The only reason Nasrallah is attacking the tribunal is because Syria is fighting it ….and Nasrallah is trying to defend the Syrian regime , which has been accused of being behind Hariri ’s assassination”. He added “ I am getting tired of hearing Nasrallah defend Syria”. Isn’t it about time he starts defending Lebanon?
Former President Amin Gemayel told voice of Lebanon today” Syria is determined at any cost to make sure that the Hariri international tribunal never takes place , even if they ( Syrians) have to destroy Lebanon completely and the sky falls down “.
Amin Gemayel accused the opposition led by Hezbollah as being the extension of Syria’s influence and for executing Syria’s destructive plans in Lebanon .
Is Nasrallah proud of this role ?
It is time to think Lebanon !
By: Ali Hussein , Ya Libnan Volunteer