August 11/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 12,24-26. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me

Syria's Asking Price For a Vacuum in Lebanon-By:Walid Choucair-Dar Al-Hayat. August 10/07
Perpetual political drama is not what Lebanese expect from their leaders.The Daily Star. August 10/07
Why We Must Label Al-Qaeda Terrorism "Jihad Martyrdom"-
By Robert Spencer. August 10/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for August 10/07
Iranian and Syrian officials deny fueling violence in Iraq-International Herald Tribune
Syria claims it too is victim of Islamic

Gunships Pound Fatah al-Islam Bunkers
Bush: U.S. 'Cannot Live with' Iran's Support for Hizbullah, Nuclear Program, Anti-Israel Warnings
March 14: No Compromises Over Presidential Elections
Geagea Warns Lahoud against Handing over Power to Military, Suleiman May Run for Presidency
Aoun accuses US of destabilizing Lebanon-Ya Libnan
US Promotes Free Elections, Only to See Allies Lose-New York Times
Change and Reform bloc MP denies swipe at Church-Daily Star
Lebanon Today after Yesterday! Newropeans Magazine

US opens new front in diplomatic war over Lebanon.International Herald Tribune
Barak: No expansion of frontline in north.Ynetnews
Research shows Lebanon's coast in danger of being devastated by tsunami-Daily Star
Army crushes Fatah al-Islam offensive-Daily Star
Salloukh defends his 'authentic' role as foreign minister-Daily Star
Change and Reform bloc MP denies swipe at Church-Daily Star
Qabbani urges Lebanese to rescue their 'collapsing' country-Daily Star
Siniora, Feltman discuss US aid for army-Daily Star
'Lahoud can do nothing but go home on Nov. 23'-Daily Star
USAID inaugurates plant to boost Tripoli food industry-Daily Star
Hoss highlights need to combat 'sickness' of corruption in society-Daily Star
Independent Christian voters 'shifted support' from FPM to Gemayel-Daily Star
Lebanese banks show growth amid political turbulence-Daily Star
AUB Alumni Independent Group clarifies ambiguities-Daily Star
Ammiq marshes: an 'animal motel' in the Bekaa-Daily Star
Canadian Agency Knew About US Renditions in 2002, Report Says.Bloomberg
Russia Boosts Military Presence at Home and Abroad.Moscow News

Bush: U.S. 'Cannot Live with' Iran's Support for Hizbullah, Nuclear Program, Anti-Israel Warnings
U.S. President George Bush warned that Iran would have "a price to pay" for its ongoing effort to supply Iraqi militants with weapons to attack American forces and said Washington "cannot live with" Tehran's support for Hizbullah, suspect nuclear program and anti-Israel warnings.
Bush, holding a pre-vacation press conference on Thursday, said he was not surprised at pictures showing cordial meetings between Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and top Iranian leaders in Tehran but that he hoped the prime minister was delivering a tough message. "You don't want the picture to be kind of, you know, duking it out," when on a diplomatic mission he said, putting up his fists like a boxer. But "if the signal is that Iran is constructive, I will have to have a heart-to-heart with my friend, the prime minister, because I don't believe they are constructive," said Bush, who called Iran "a very troubling nation."
Bush's comments came days after he disagreed sharply with Afghan President Hamid Karzai about Iran's influence after Karzai called Tehran a positive force in combating extremists in his country. And they came as top U.S. officials worried about the pace of political reconciliation in Iraq, amid misgivings in Washington about whether Maliki, a Shiite, truly wanted or was able to build bridges to minority Sunnis.
Iran, which the United States blames for fomenting much of the bloodshed in Iraq, had earlier given visiting Maliki its full support for restoring security but told him a pullout of U.S. forces was the only way to end the violence. According to the state-run IRNA news agency, Maliki thanked Iran for its "positive and constructive" work in "providing security and fighting terrorism in Iraq." Bush expressed skepticism and warned Iran: "There will be a price to pay" if its agents are caught undermining U.S.-led efforts in Iraq. "There will be consequences" for any Iranians shipping weapons, including sophisticated roadside bombs, inside Iraq, said the U.S. president, who branded Tehran "a destabilizing influence" in the Middle East.
Bush cited Iran's support for Lebanon's Hizbullah, Tehran's suspect nuclear program, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel warnings, which he said Washington "cannot live with."
"That's something, obviously, we cannot live with. They have expressed their desire to be able to enrich uranium, which we believe is a step toward having a nuclear weapons program. That, in itself, coupled with their stated foreign policy, is very dangerous for world stability," Bush said. "They are funders of Hizbullah. Hizbullah is intent upon battling forces of moderation. It's a very troubling nation right now. "
"Should I be concerned of a picture -- should the American people be concerned about Iran? Yes, we ought to be very concerned about Iran. They're a destabilizing influence. They are a government that has -- its declared policy is very troubling, obviously, when they announce -- when Ahmadinejad has announced that the destruction of Israel is part of its foreign policy," he added. "My message to the Iranian people is, 'You can do better than this current government. You don't have to be isolated. You don't have to be in a position where you can't realize your full economic potential,'" Bush said.
Asked whether he was confident that, in past talks, Maliki shared his view about Iran, Bush replied: "Does he understand with some extremist groups there's connections with Iran? And he does. And I'm confident." Maliki's talks appeared to confirm the increasingly warm relations that have emerged between majority Shiite Iraq and overwhelmingly Shiite Iran following the fall of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime. In a highly symbolic move, Maliki met the families of seven Iranian officials arrested in Iraq by U.S. forces on accusations of being members of an elite Revolutionary Guards force on a mission to stir trouble. Iran insists the men were diplomats and is livid that the United States has shown no sign of releasing them. "The Iraqi government will do all it can to release these people," Maliki said in Tehran, expressing optimism that the officials would be freed and condemning their arrest.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 10 Aug 07, 07:22

Independent Christian voters 'shifted support' from FPM to Gemayel
Aoun lost significant number of votes by adopting nationalist rhetoric

By Hani M. Bathish
Daily Star staff
Friday, August 10, 2007
BEIRUT: Independent Christian voters in Metn motivated by confessional loyalties shifted their support in Sunday's Metn by-election from MP Michel Aoun's opposition Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) to March 14 Forces candidate and former President Amin Gemayel, said Abdo Saad, director of the Beirut Center for Research and Information.
Saad, who compiled statistics on the by-election, told The Daily Star this historically independent Christian bloc accounted for 15 percent of all Christians who voted in the Metn. A cluster of about 10 villages around Bikfaya - which Saad said he considered to be the Christian heartland of the Metn - is home to a large percentage of the independent Christian voters.
"In 2005 they went with Aoun because, at the time, he represented their aspirations and because Aoun was opposed to the four-party electoral alliance [that grouped Christian and Muslim parties]," Saad said.
Aoun lost a significant number of Christian votes as his rhetoric changed from using confessional terms to a more nationalist tone and as March 14 Forces accused Aoun of aligning the FPM with Syrian and Iranian interests. FPM candidate Camille Khoury's majority among Christian voters in the Metn was 79 votes - he won the polls by a paper-thin margin of 418 votes.
"Gemayel gained in all areas of the Metn, compared to the 2005 general elections, except for Bourj Hammoud," Saad said, adding that the Tashnag Party, for the first time, mobilized less than 80 percent of its Armenian voters. "Usually they mobilize around 90 percent," he added.
Despite this, an unprecedented number of Armenians - 27.9 percent of eligible voters - went to the polls last Sunday, compared to 26 percent in 2002. "Between 7-8 percent of Tashnag supporters voted for Gemayel this time," Saad said.
The only village in the Metn that has consistently voted against Gemayel and his Phalange Party is Majdal Tarshish, a predominantly Shiite village, Saad said. The Shiite minority in Metn voted overwhelmingly for FPM: Khoury tallied 97.4 percent of the Shiite vote, while Gemayel received 18 Shiite votes.
Gemayel garnered 56.3 percent of Maronite votes in Metn, while Khoury got 79.8 percent of Armenian votes and 57.6 percent of Orthodox Christians' votes. The coastal, central and upper Metn areas registered an increase in support for the March 14 Forces and Gemayel's Phalange Party from the 2005 general elections, at the expense of the FPM and their political allies.
On the coast, 43.4 percent of voters went with the March 14 Forces in the by-election, while in 2005 the March 14 slate won 29 percent of the coast's ballots. In the central Metn, March 14 Forces got 59.2 percent of votes in 2007, compared to 44.8 percent in 2005. In the upper Metn, March 14 got 47.2 percent of the vote in 2007, compared to 35 percent in 2005.
Kamal Feghali, an elections specialist and authority on demographics, told The Daily Star that Gemayel had taken a majority of 52 percent of votes from naturalized Lebanese citizens in the Metn by-election, a disparate group that includes 16 Christian and Muslim sects.
The situation was reversed in the 2005 general elections, with the FPM candidate in the Metn at the time, MP Nabil Nicholas, getting a majority of naturalized Lebanese votes, Feghali added. At 14 polling stations in Jdeideh, Nicholas got 1,144 votes in 2005 from naturalized Lebanese, while the March 14 candidate got 625 votes.
March 14 politicians have made it a point to stress that the FPM candidate was elected with the help of busloads of naturalized Lebanese brought in to vote from Syria, but the election results do not support this assertion. In last Sunday's by-election, Gemayel got 1,110 votes from the same 14 polling stations in Jdeideh from naturalized Lebanese Christians and Muslims, while the FPM candidate got 831 votes, Feghali said.

March 14: No Compromises Over Presidential Elections
The March 14 majority alliance on Thursday termed "decisive" the forthcoming presidential election, rejecting any compromises on holding it.
The alliance, in a statement issued after a meeting of its follow-up committee, also said the election of a new head of state is "not subject to compromises or black mail."
Electing a head of state to succeed pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud is "a top priority at the Christian and national levels and a land mark along the march for independence."The statement rejected all proposals made by the Hizbullah-led March 8 opposition that link electing a new president to the formation of a so-called national unity government that gives Syria's allies veto powers. It also rejected attempts by the Hizbullah-led opposition to "impose a certain candidate" for president, in reference to Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun.
Such attempts by the March 8 camp, according to the statement, reflect efforts by Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and its Local allies to hurl Lebanon into "political vacuum" and push the Christians out of the nation's political system. Beirut, 10 Aug 07, 16:24
U.S. Opens New Diplomatic Front to Free Lebanon from Syrian Influence
The United States has quietly opened a new diplomatic front in its efforts to free Lebanon from Syrian influence, with a move to undermine the authority of Damascus-backed President Emile Lahoud. The behind-the-scenes campaign began to bear fruit last month when the U.S. State Department sought and won the replacement of Lebanon's ambassador to the United States, Farid Abboud, an ally of Lahoud who had served in Washington for eight years, officials in Washington said.
The Lebanese foreign ministry, run by Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government, transferred Abboud to Tunisia and chose career diplomat Antoine Chedid to succeed him in Washington. But Lahoud has refused to sign Chedid's letter of accreditation, meaning he is not considered an ambassador.
On Thursday, though, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took the unusual step of inviting Chedid to her office to personally welcome him to the United States, effectively recognizing the diplomat as Lebanon's ambassador, although his official title is Charge d'Affaires.
"It's good to receive you on behalf of the democratic government of Lebanon," Rice said in comments seen as a slight to Lahoud and Abboud, whom the administration had snubbed for years. "I am sure we will have very close contacts because the United States is and wants to be a friend of a free and sovereign Lebanon."
Chedid, who has previously served in Washington and is well-known and admired as a professional, replied by making clear he represents Saniora's government and that he was honored by his reception since arriving in late July. Washington has long sought to bolster Saniora and reduce Syria's role in Lebanon. Earlier this month, President George Bush signed an executive order letting the U.S. freeze the assets of anyone deemed to be working to destabilize efforts to promote Lebanese security and sovereignty.
An official with the Lebanese Embassy declined to discuss the circumstances of Chedid's appointment but noted that the envoy already held the rank of ambassador in Lebanon's foreign service and that matters of protocol would not interfere with his mission. In addition to Rice, Chedid met Thursday with the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, David Welch, and Iraq coordinator David Satterfield, both of whom he knows from previous jobs. He will also soon see Bush's national security adviser Stephen Hadley, officials said. One U.S. official familiar with the situation said the slew of high-level meetings accorded Chedid is intended as both a signal of support for Saniora's government and a diplomatic slap in the face to Lahoud, whose term in office is due to end in November.(AP)
Beirut, 10 Aug 07, 11:33

Geagea Warns Lahoud against Handing over Power to Military, Suleiman May Run for Presidency

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea warned pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud against handing over power to the military if a new president was not elected by November 23. Geagea said Lahoud was behaving outside the realm of the constitution and the regime "as though (the presidential) Baabda Palace is owned by Emile Lahoud." "Lahoud has no right to hand over or not hand over (power)," Geagea said in remarks published by the daily An Nahar on Friday.
"He just has to leave Baabda Palace at the end of his term," Geagea warned, adding that "we will not allow anyone to stage a coup."
Al-Mustaqbal lawmaker Nabil De Freij said that according to the constitution, the president does not have the right to hand over power to anyone except the next head of state. "If his term expires and no new president is elected, Lahoud can do nothing but go home at midnight November 23, when his term in office ends," Du Freij told The Daily Star. Lahoud has said that he wanted to hand over power to the Lebanese army and not to Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government if a new head of state was not elected by Nov. 23. Du Freij, however, argued that the constitution does not give Lahoud that right.
Meanwhile, Michel Murr, a staunch ally of Gen. Michel Aoun, said he supports the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement as candidate to the presidency.
Murr hinted at the possibility that army commander Gen. Michel Suleiman could nominate himself for the presidency if parliament failed to elect a news head of state.
"If Lebanese consensus (over Suleiman) is achieved, the Constitution could be amended within a quarter of an hour," Murr told Thursday's Kalam al-Nass on LBC television. Beirut, 10 Aug 07, 08:54

Gunships Pound Fatah al-Islam Bunkers
Helicopter gunships pounded terrorist bunkers in the northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared Thursday and troops advanced across the rubble to uproot Fatah al-Islam militants. The state-run National News Agency (NNA) said the Gazelle gunships fired a total of 12 rockets at Fatah al-Islam bunkers as the troops advanced to wipe out the remaining terrorists in the camp. Agence France Presse quoted an officer as saying "the army made a breakthrough in the last quarter where the Fatah al-Islam gunmen are entrenched."The soldiers "destroyed some buildings with explosives, uncovering the entrances to underground tunnels and fortifications" still held by the die-hard extremists, he said. An army spokesman confirmed there had been progress on Thursday.
"This advance is progressing slowly because of the rubble and the booby-trapped terrain," he said.
Meanwhile, the military continued to bombard Nahr al-Bared, starting a number of fires in the impoverished shantytown, an AFP correspondent said.
Sheikh Mohamad al-Hajj, a Muslim cleric who has acted as a mediator in previous bids to end the crisis, said the army has agreed to let his team enter the camp again to contact Fatah al-Islam. But a military spokesman would not confirm this, saying only that the army "seeks the unconditional surrender of the gunmen."
More than 200 people, including 136 soldiers, have been killed since the conflict started on May 20. Most of the camp's 3o,000 residents have fled since the battles erupted, but about 60 women and children related to Fatah al-Islam fighters remain in Nahr al-Bared. The army has accused the Islamists of using them as human shields.(Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 09 Aug 07, 16:43

Change and Reform bloc MP denies swipe at Church
Daily Star staff
Friday, August 10, 2007
BEIRUT: Change and Reform parliamentary bloc MP Abbas Hashem provoked a storm of criticism with comments about the Church attributed to him in Thursday's press. In a statement from the Lebanese News Agency published in newspapers, Hashem listed the "black army" - a reference to Christian religious leaders - among groups that he said had been defeated by Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun in Sunday's Metn by-election.
Hashem also included the Lebanese Forces and the Phalange Party on the list. "Napoleon Bonaparte fell against political, financial, family and Church feudalism," while Aoun prevailed over all of them and has become "this century's Bonaparte," said Hashem in the statement. On Thursday, the MP said his comments had been misinterpreted. "I never mentioned the Church, nor have I said anything about Christian leaders," Hashem added. He said when he had been asked about the Metn by-election results, he had compared Aoun to Napoleon "without mentioning the Church, which I respect, and without saying anything about any religious figure."
"Everybody knows who is behind" attempts to twist his words, he added. "They have one origin. This campaign has vile objectives, because it put words in my mouth. What is certain is that it will not affect the Church's support for me." - The Daily Star

Syria's Asking Price For a Vacuum in Lebanon
Walid Choucair- Al-Hayat - 10/08/07//
A number of international and most regional players are anticipating a political vacuum after the 24th of November - the end of the term of Lebanese President Emile Lahoud.
Both opposition members and loyalists are taking measures and planning contingencies on the basis that the presidential vacuum will last at least a few days if not months. They will then await the arrival of a God-sent solution in the form of an international, regional and Lebanese settlement - after which a true Lebanese President can be elected.
After initially basing their demands for a national unity government on the importance of political participation and a lack of trust towards the current government, Lahoud and Hizbullah among others are now using the dangers of a presidential vacuum as an argument for a transitional national unity government that could hold presidential elections. The current majority government is threatening in turn to unilaterally elect a president in the second round of parliamentary voting - for which the government possesses the requisite 50% + 1 majority - if the opposition makes good on its threat to withhold parliamentary quorum in case they are not assured the election of a candidate of their choice.
The Western and Arab nations, adamant that elections be held on time (between September 25 and the end of Lahoud's term), are alternatively offering carrots and sticks to actors threatening to stall them - namely: Syria.
Naturally, these actors - along with the March 14th majority - assume that the emergence of a presidential vacuum would be the work and choice of Syria. Thus, many regional powers are counting on Speaker Nabih Berri to push for avoiding such a vacuum and on Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir to pressure Christian MPs from Michel Aoun's bloc to attend the parliamentary session in accordance with a key Church 'principle' of upholding national and constitutional processes.
Meanwhile, Western nations - including France, Italy and Spain - are offering carrots to Syria in the form of promises to end its isolation from Europe. The United States brandishes the stick by threatening more measures (like its freezing of assets of those seen to be undermining Lebanese sovereignty and democracy) against Syria should they push their allies in Lebanon to set up a second government to rival that of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.
A number of questions arise over these measures - regardless of whether they remain exclusively American or become international: Do they seek to prevent a presidential vacuum - or does the greater danger lie in the creation of a second Lebanese government? If these measures refer to the subversion of democracy implied by the latter, does that mean that Washington would 'tolerate' a temporary vacuum?
Furthermore, in the event of the formation of a parallel military government, would Washington dish out a punishment or would it instead bet on the military leadership's refusal to assume such a difficult role - especially in light of General Michel Sleiman's pledge to remain neutral in the event of such a development?
The questions do not end there. Another important one is how the international community will react to Syria's asking price for avoiding a presidential crisis in Lebanon. It does not seem overly worried about punishments against its Lebanese allies should they participate in the occurrence of a vacuum or creation of a parallel government. Syria's conditions are more likely to be all - and not some - of the following:
- An invitation for Syria to attend the international summit planned by Bush in Washington for this coming November. Indications are that Washington is ready to consider this - especially in light of calls for inviting Syria by other Arab nations, including those with less than ideal relationships with Damascus.
- A Syrian say in determining the president of Lebanon - a say that Washington and some of its European allies have refused to grant
- A reconsideration of the creation of an international tribunal to try the killers of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri - something neither Western nor Arab players are willing to consider
- A guarantee that Prime Minister Fouad Siniora will relinquish the premiership - to which leader of the Al Mustaqbal Party Saad Hariri has replied that Siniora is a "red line." Thus, the presidential vacuum has become the prime Syrian tool for the prevention of another government led by Siniora - who represents and has stuck by the essential principles of the current Lebanese majority - should all its other demands be rejected

Why We Must Label Al-Qaeda Terrorism "Jihad Martyrdom"

By Robert Spencer | 8/10/2007
During the question period after my notorious YAF talk last Thursday, it came up again: one of the students asked if we weren't conferring legitimacy on Osama and Co. by calling them jihadists instead of something like mufsidoon: evildoers. That is just one small indication of how influential this idea has become -- and of course it enjoys great influence in the State Department.
Now one of its foremost proponents, a man named Jim Guirard, who called me up a few years ago and spent a great length of time trying to convince me to get on board with this idea, writes in its defense in Accuracy In Media. He's responding to this excellent column by Walid Phares, about which I commented at some length here.
Guirard affects a cutesy, folksy writing style, beginning with the three question marks and hapax legoumenon he uses in his title, "Is AQ-style Terrorism 'Jihadi Martyrdom' or 'Irhabi Murderdom' ???" Perhaps it is unsporting or invincibly crabbed of me to note such a thing, but I must say I found it incongruous that a man who has the Pentagon's ear and confers with the highest American military officials writes like a lovestruck teenage girl. With all his cuteness and misspellings, Guirard seems practically to be begging not to be taken seriously. But since he is taken seriously, and his ideas are taken seriously, they are worth dealing with again.
In a recent article in the Family Security Matters website -- innocently re-printed by on July 18 -- Lebanese expatriot [sic!] Dr. Walid Phares quite sharply, and by name, attacked me and three like-minded anti-terrorism strategists (Dr. Michael Waller of the Institute for World Politics, Dr. Doug Streussand [sic!] of the Marine Corps Staff and Command College and Col. Harry Tunnell of the National Defense University).
That's "expatriate" and "Streusand."
That angry writer's complaint was that the four of us are refusing to follow his (and so many other's) current addiction to Osama bin Laden's self-sanctifying language of so-called "Jihadi Martyrdom" -- namely, the five-word al Qaeda narrative of so-called Jihad (holy war) by purported mujahideen (holy warriors) and alleged shuhada (martyrs) who are supposedly destined for Jennah (Paradise) as a reward for killing all of us kuffr (infidels) and in due course disposing of al-Shaitan al-Kabir (the Great Satan). Dr. Phares insists that this is the one and only valid framework within which to properly and sufficiently attack al Qaeda-style Terrorism.
Phares doesn't say that at all, of course. He says that the concept of hiraba, unlawful warfare, which Guirard says we should use to label contemporary jihadist activity, "implies that a 'genuine' war against a real enemy does exist and that these hotheaded soldiers have simply acted without orders. Hence this cunning explanation puts 'spin' on Jihad but leaves the core idea of Jihadism completely intact." Thus obligingly calling jihadism hiraba could leave us open to having to confront in the near future a jihad deemed genuine by those so anxious for us to relabel Osama's efforts. In other words, it doesn't get to the heart of the matter: the persistence of religious violence arising within an Islamic context. It leaves that wide open as a possibility for the future.
But Guirard doesn't deal with this point. Instead, he contents himself, like Dinesh D'Souza and so many others, with the manipulative little slur of charging that his opponent agrees with bin Laden -- with all the unsavory associations that brings: they're both hotheads, hardliners, fascists at heart, doncha know?
But this sidesteps the questions of why the version of Islam purveyed by Osama and the other jihadists has gained such traction within the Islamic world, and why the jihadist claim to represent "true" or "pure" Islam has so much resonance. And since Guirard and his ilk refuse to acknowledge that that is even happening, they can't formulate any worthwhile response to it.
In sharp contrast, Marine Corps LtG James Mattis has recently condemned this sort of AQ narrative as "tyranny in false religious garb." But when we, the four accused, recommend a new counter narrative which attacks the Salafi-Wahhabi-UBL conspiracy's deceitful self-labeling, Dr. Phares berates us (as he might now General Mattis, as well?) as somehow "representing the views of classical Wahhabis and the Muslim Brotherhood" ( !!! )
Not quite. Phares actually said: "When researched, it turns out that this theory was produced by clerics of the Wahhabi regime in Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood, as a plan to prevent Jihad and Jihadism from being depicted by the West and the international community as an illegal and therefore sanctioned activity." It is, again, a shame that Guirard did not see fit to address that except with a sneer.
But, of course, it is Walid Phares himself, not us, who is so insistently parroting al Qaeda's patently false description of itself and its suicide mass murders as "Jihadi" (Holy Guys) defenders of Allah and the Qur'an.
See, Guirard's fundamental assumption, behind the cutesy language ("'Jihadi' (Holy Guys)" indeed), is that jihad is a good thing, a holy thing, and that the jihadists have appropriated it in defiance of Islamic theology and law. And that therefore, if we start using the terms that actually apply to them and their activities -- criminals, unlawful warfare, rather than jihadists and jihad -- the moderate Muslim majority will feel empowered to rise up against them, and take back Islam.
It would be great if it were true. But unfortunately it's just a fantasy. The imperative to wage war against unbelievers in order to establish over them the hegemony of Islamic law wasn't invented by Al-Qaeda; it is taught by all the Sunni schools of jurisprudence, and by the Shi'ites also. This doesn't mean that every Muslim takes it seriously. But it does mean that it's just whistling in the dark to think that Al-Qaeda's claim to represent Islamic purity can't draw on genuine elements of Islamic theology that encourage bellicosity. Fantasy-based policymaking is never wise.
In sharp and everlasting contrast to this de facto embrace of the enemy's self-serving description of political, cultural and religious reality, this writer's proposed counter narrative condemns the al Qaeda, al Sadr, Hizballah, Hamas and other "Death to America" terrorists as waging Hirabah (unholy war, forbidden "war against society") by mufsiduun (evildoers, sinners and corrupters) and munafiquun (hypocrites) destined for Jahannam (Eternal Hellfire) as punishment for having become al Murtadd al Qaeda (the al Qaeda Apostasy) against Qur'anic Islam -- namely, for having tried to drag all Muslims into a most unholy war against Abrahamic America and the West.
"This writer's proposed counter narrative..." (emphasis added). But do Muslims worldwide, whether jihadists or not, really listen to Jim Guirard's version of Islam? If there were major Islamic sects or leaders teaching this sort of thing and representing it as "Qur'anic Islam," that would be one thing. But there aren't.
Likewise Kilcullen's new lexicon, in Guirard's reprinted article below, is based not on reality but on what we really wish jihad were all about:
In further explanation of this "Know Thine Enemy" frame of reference for understanding who the Terrorists actually are, as opposed to who they falsely claim to be, the following is a "war of words" essay of mine which appeared in the June 29, 2007 issue of the Marine Corps--oriented website -- entitled "Petraeus Aide's Call for a New Lexicon." Rather than my trying to paraphrase that carefully constructed truth-in-language thesis, here it is verbatim:
In his multi-faceted article, "New Paradigms For 21st Century Conflict," David Kilcullen of General David Petraeus' senior staff in Baghdad recommends five major initiatives to be taken in developing truly effective counterterrorism (COIN) strategies, operations and tactics against al Qaeda-style Terrorism (AQST).
In briefest of terms, these are to (1) Develop a New Lexicon, (2) Get the Grand Strategy Right, (3) Remedy the Imbalance in Government Capability, (4) Identify New Strategic Services, and (5) Develop Capacity For Strategic Information Warfare. While others will comment in learned fashion on all five of these topics in due course, this commentary will concern only the first -- the proposed New Lexicon.
To make a medical analogy, this is an enemy which is not in the nature of a state-based, clearly definable tumor to be neatly cut out by a scalpel but is, instead, an ideology-based cancer which been metastasizing for several decades (particularly the last one) and is attacking far-flung elements of Western Civilization 'round the clock and seeking a "death by a thousand cuts" result.
The first of Kilcullen's five steps toward an effective antidote -- a worldwide chemotherapy-type counterattack -- on the raging AQST cancer is his call for "a new lexicon based on the actual, observed characteristics of [our] real enemies ..."
In so doing, he clearly recognizes that in order to meet Tsun-Tzu's ancient admonition that we must "Know The Enemy," we absolutely must have a truthful common language by which to achieve that end and then to communicate such knowledge effectively to multiple audiences.
Although he does not list particulars of this proposed new lexicon, here are more than a dozen of the Arabic and Islamic words of which he would almost surely approve. They are the words, the semantic tools and weapons, we will need to break out of the habit-of-language box (largely invented by Osama bin Laden himself) which currently depicts us as us the bad guys, the "infidels" and even "the Great Satan" -- and which sanctifies suicide mass murderers as so-called jihadis and mujahideen ("holy guys") and "martyrs" on their heroic way to Paradise.
Importantly, the ubiquitous (It's everywhere! It's everywhere!!) word Jihad is entered four times, in order to more clearly define its several confusing and often conflicting meanings.
irhab (eer-HAB) -- Arabic for terrorism, thus enabling us to call the al Qaeda-style killers irhabis, irhabists and irhabiyoun rather than the so-called "jihadis" and "jihadists" and "mujahideen" and "shahids" (martyrs) they badly want to be called. (Author's lament: Here we are, almost six years into a life-and-death War on Terrorism, and most of us do not even know this basic Arabic for terrorism.)
Hirabah (hee-RAH-bah) -- Unholy War and forbidden "war against society" or what we would today call crimes against humanity. Among the many al Qaeda-style crimes and sins which constitute this most "unholy war" are such willful, and unrepented transgressions as those enumerated in the next section of this proposed glossary of terms.
Jihad al Akbar (gee-HAHD ahl AHK-bar) -- this "Greater Jihad" is a personal and spiritual struggle or striving to become closer and more faithful to Allah and his teachings as set forth in the Qur'an.
Here is the problem with this whole endeavor in microcosm: Hassan Al-Banna (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood), Abdullah Azzam (cofounder of Al-Qaeda) and others argued that the idea of jihad as a spiritual struggle as based on a weak hadith -- a tradition of Muhammad that couldn't be taken as authentic. They gained many recruits by arguing this successfully among Muslims. And so now here come Kilcullen and Guirard, reminding Muslims that jihad is primarily an inner spiritual struggle. How will the Muslims who have bought the argument that all that is based on a weak hadith react? Will they lay down their arms? Or chuckle at the ignorant infidels?
Jihad al Saghir (gee-HAHD ahl Sahg-HEER) -- "Lesser Jihad" can be a physical -- and even a military -- struggle to protect or to free Muslims and non-Muslims from oppression, but only in strict accordance with reasonable and non-terroristic standards set forth in the Qur'an, which provides that only the Caliph (or head-of-state?) can legally declare such a Jihad. Osama bin Laden is neither....
Fine. Until you realize that many Muslim authorities identify as "oppression" anything except a Sharia state. The implications of that for the above statement are clear. And only the state authority can declare a jihad? Unfortunately, there is a difference of opinion on this question among contemporary Islamic scholars. Some argue that Muslims may wage war in order to establish that Islamic state, and then continue to wage war against unbelievers under its aegis. Others contend that the Islamic state must be established by peaceful means, and only then may Muslims wage jihad warfare. The latter position was held by Syed Abul Ala Maududi, the influential Pakistani jihad theorist who died in 1979, Sheikh Muhammad Said Ramadan Al-Buti, and Sheikh Muhammad Naasir ud-Din Al-Albani. The former view is held by Islamic scholars such as Muhammad Amarah and Khair Haykel, as well as by Azzam and, of course, other mujahedin today.
It is important to note, however, that Maududi and Al-Buti, as well as others who hold this view, don't reject the idea of jihad against unbelievers in order to establish the hegemony of Islamic law. Maududi, after all, wrote that non-Muslims have “absolutely no right to seize the reins of power in any part of God’s earth nor to direct the collective affairs of human beings according to their own misconceived doctrines.” If they do, “the believers would be under an obligation to do their utmost to dislodge them from political power and to make them live in subservience to the Islamic way of life.”
So in other words, this is just a disagreement about means, not about ends.
...Just for starters, imagine the khawarij (outside the religion) al Qaeda's great difficulty in winning the approval of any truly devout and faithful Muslims whatever once these genocidal irhabis (terrorists) come to be viewed by the Umma (the Muslim World) as mufsiduun (evildoers) engaged in Hirabah (unholy war) and in murtadd (apostasy) against the Qur'an's God of Abraham -- and as almost surely on their way to Jahannam (Eternal Hellfire) for their Satanic ways....
Yes, that would be great. But pretending that truly devout and faithful Muslims will follow the lead of non-Muslims in defining these things is naive in the extreme.
Of course, to sustain the validity of such condemnatory labels, there must be a true-to-the-Quran basis for their application to the al Qaeda, al Sadr, Hizballah, Hamas and assorted other Terrorists.
This is readily available in the fact that at the heart of AQST's own false labels and equally false promises of a sex-orgy Paradise is a pattern of plainly satanic and cultic violation of many of the fundamental precepts of authentic Islam -- including such sinful transgressions and such de facto desecrations of the Qur'an as:
o Wanton killing of innocents and noncombatants, including many peaceful Muslims
Here we go again. Define "innocent" and "noncombatant." British jihadist Anjem Chaudary says no non-Muslims are innocent. How will this stop him?
o Decapitating the live and desecrating the dead bodies of perceived enemies
o Committing and enticing others to commit suicide for reasons of intimidation
Qur'an 9:111 guarantees Paradise to those who "kill and are killed" for Allah. And that's not suicide, in the jihadist view. How will Guirard's lexicon overcome that idea?
o Fomenting hatred among communities, nations, religions and civilizations
o Ruthless warring against nations in which Islam is freely practiced
o Issuing and inspiring unauthorized and un-Islamic fatwas (religious edicts)
o Using some mosques as weapons depots and battle stations, while destroying others
o Forcing extremist and absolutist versions (and perversions) of Islam on fellow Muslims, when the Qur'an clearly says that there shall be "no compulsion in religion"
Qutb and others argue that the "no compulsion" verse does not rule out fighting until "religion is for Allah." Will Guirard's use of this verse change any jihadist minds?
o Distorting the word "infidels" to include all Christians, all Jews and many Muslims, as well -- when the Qur'an calls them all "Children of the Book" (the Old Testament) and "Sons of Abraham," and calls Jesus one of Islam's five main Prophets
People of the Book, not Children of the Book. Anyway, fine, don't call them infidels. They still must be fought and subjugated, per Qur'an 9:29.
o Deliberate misreading, ignoring and perverting of passages of the Qur'an, the Hadith and the Islamic Jurisprudence (the Fiqh)
Such as? The jihadists claim that the peaceful Muslims do this. Guirard claims that the jihadists do it. The real challenge is to refute the jihadist use of Islamic texts and teachings in a way that blunts the force of jihadist recruitment. Peaceful Muslims haven't done it yet.
One final note. Guirard argues that what he is doing here was done effectively during the Cold War:
A look-back lesson from the Cold War argues strongly that we should have done a far better "war of words" job of challenging -- rather than all too often parroting -- the Soviets' and Fascist Fidel Castro's false narrative of so-called "Liberation by purported Progressive Movements and alleged Popular Fronts who were destined for heaven-on-earth People's Democracies as a reward for killing us Reaganite Fascists and disposing of American Imperialism."
Recognize the remarkable parallels? Both then and today, the deadly dangerous problem is that of "semantic infiltration," which the late, great Senator Pat Moynihan and Dr. Fred Charles Ikle -- Ronald Reagan's Under Secertary of Defense for Policy, who is today still active at the Center for Strategic and International Studies -- carefully defined in the early 1980s as follows:
"Simply put, semantic infiltration is the process whereby we come to adopt the language of our adversaries in describing political reality. The most totalitarian regimes in the world would call themselves 'liberation movements.' It is perfectly predictable that they should misuse words to conceal their real nature. But must we aid them in that effort by repeating those words? Worse, do we begin to influence our own perceptions by using them?"
Back then, it was a case of Leninist, Maoist and Castroite tyranny wrapped up in false "Liberationist" lingo. Today, it is the neo-Leninist, fascist-Left and pseudo-Quranic narrative of "Jihadi Martyrdom" which General Jim Mattis so correctly condemns as "tyranny in false religious garb" -- while all too many of us continue the "useful idiocy" parroting.
(Le plus ca change, le plus c'est la meme chose !!. N'est-ce pas ??)
Sure. We should challenge the jihadist idea that Sharia equals justice. And we should call it tyranny. But that is not the same thing as formulating some genuine way to counter jihadist claims to represent true Islam. Inventing our own benign little Islam and hoping that Muslims will buy it won't do that.
Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of six books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad.

Democracy in Lebanon: Lessons from the Lebanese Cuisine
by Elie Al-Chaer*
CDL | August 08, 2007 | Visit: AlChaer Blog
After the Metn elections, much debate is taking place these days about the viability of democracy in Lebanon, its values and its prospects, given the intense emotional charging that preceded the elections and the role money may have played in the process. These factors may have turned off many voters and disillusioned young generations in the promise of their democracy, even some seasoned Lebanese politicians like former Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss who was quoted saying in a statement that the Metn by-election polls had proven again that "democracy in Lebanon is an illusion where money and emotions rule."
To begin, all elections, even in the finest of democracies, are held with an element of money and emotions. To what extent these 2 factors “rule” the process, corrupt the vote or dictate the outcome is controlled by the rule of law. Elections are but one step in the democratic process; the primary and essential step remains always the rule of law.
Defining democracy in the abstract is a daunting task and the subject of encyclopedic volumes of discussions and debates. For me, the easiest way to understand democracy is to look at it as a practical concept; think of it as a plate of the world famous Lebanese salad: Tabbouleh.
Tabbouleh is a Lebanese salad dish. Its primary ingredients are finely chopped parsley, cracked wheat (Burghul), diced tomato, chopped onions, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and various other seasonings. The main tools needed to prepare the dish are a sharp knife to chop, dice and slice and large bowl to mix the whole.
Tabbouleh’s taste varies by region, from country to country, town to town, and sometimes from one house to the next within the same town. Each region has its recipe for the mix, including its measures, special seasonings and preferred flavor. However, the one thing all regions agree on is that you cannot prepare Tabbouleh without its main ingredients (e.g. parsley) and a sharp knife. Once we agree on the concept of diversity of Tabbouleh preparation within its universality, it becomes easy to accept democracy as a main dish in our Lebanese political mezza.
A Recipe for Democracy “à la libanaise”
1) Five bunches of parsley:
The “parsley” (main ingredient) in any democracy is the rule of law. Without it, there is no democracy. That does not simply mean electoral law; it means:
i) Fair and modern constitution that protects basic human rights for all citizens without discrimination
ii) A modern penal code that protects the innocent and punishes the criminal swiftly and justly
iii) A modern code to protect the civil rights of individuals against private or public intrusion
iv) A fair tax code that redistributes wealth and protects the poor and vulnerable population
v) A modern electoral law that guarantees one vote for one citizen
The essential tool for implementing the rule of law (the sharp knife) is an independent, transparent and qualified justice system with equal access to all and equal enforcement on all.
2) Two large tomatoes:
The second main ingredient for a successful democracy is the rule of reason. The viability of any representative democracy rests as much on the wisdom of its well-informed citizenry as on its laws. Two main safeguards are essential for the rule of reason; these are:
i) insuring the public is always well- informed by protecting access and providing transparency
ii) insuring the free-flow of knowledge by protecting the openness of the marketplace of ideas
3) Two cups of burghul:
These are auxiliary precautions necessary to protect against abuse of powers. As James Madison said in the Federalist Papers: "If men were angels, no government would be necessary ... A dependence on the people is no doubt the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions." These would be:
i) separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of government
ii) a system of checks and balances through which branches of government check each other, to ensure that the power of the government is both limited and controlled.
4) One large onion:
That would be the freedom protection against the unhealthy accumulation of too much power in the hands of one person; be it political power, military power or economic power.
5) Seasoning and the mix:
That is done to taste and will have to be adjusted until you reach the right measures. We are talking of course about the process of apportionment and also districting within the electoral law. You only get it right with experience – of course if you learn from experience.
6) Sample before you serve:
This is what happens in by-elections, general elections and referenda. Voters get to say what they think of the taste, the ingredients and the chef. And in the words of James Madison: “as long as the reason of man continues to be fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed.”
We Are Not Re-Inventing the Wheel
We may have invented Tabbouleh but we certainly did not invent Democracy nor we are about to re-invent it. So why not look at other systems and borrow from them what may work for us. Instead of always asking others for fish (to tell us what to do), let us for once learn how to fish ourselves or ask others simply to show us how they’ve done it.
Take the USA, for instance, allegedly one of the most influential powers in Lebanese politics these days: In the fall of the year 2000, the citizens of the USA voted to elect a president. Candidate Albert A. Gore received 50,999,897 votes and candidate George W. Bush received 50,456,002 votes placing Bush 543,985 votes behind Al Gore in the popular vote. The constitution of the USA, however, clearly states that a president is elected by a majority of the electoral vote, regardless of the popular vote. Only three times before (1824, 1876, and 1888) in more than 250 years of the US constitutional history, the electoral vote did not reflect the popular vote. What was most impressive about the year 2000 presidential elections was not the outcome, but the legal process through which the candidates challenged each other in the courts of law for ~ 2 months until the Supreme Court (9 judges) ruled 5 to 4 in favor of Bush. With great dignity and majestic grace, Gore (winner of the popular vote by 543,985 votes; about 1/5 of the Lebanese population) conceded in a public address to the nation and one of the most moving speeches in political history. Here is an excerpt:
“Good evening.
Just moments ago, I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States…Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court's decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession. I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honor the new President-elect and do everything possible to help him bring Americans together in fulfillment of the great vision that our Declaration of Independence defines and that our Constitution affirms and defends.” “…I know that many of my supporters are disappointed. I am too. But our disappointment must be overcome by our love of country.”
He closed by saying: “It is time for me to go. Thank you and good night and God bless America.”
Al Gore could have easily bypassed the institutional and constitutional process, claimed that he represented the majority of Americans (which he did), used this as a basis to continuously emphasize his political power, taken his supporters to the streets to protest the outcome and plunged his nation in civil unrest. But a dignified patriot knows better, and for love of country forsakes all.
Obviously this is not intended as a review of American history but as an example for us to learn how great leaders build great nations; by respecting the rule of law and by stepping aside “gracefully” at the right moment.
It is also intended to illustrate how the rule of law rather than popular elections is what preserves a democracy and brings forth internal peace for its people.
Of course, the electoral and legal systems in Lebanon are not to be compared with those of the USA; yet we have one advantage: being a smaller nation, we should be able to manage our affairs more easily. What do we lack? May be just the right leadership!
Admittedly, the system is not perfect. But fixing it begins by adopting a fair and balanced electoral law, in which every vote counts (one citizen, one vote), and districting and apportionment are not manipulated for electoral advantage. Without getting into the details of a model electoral law, any law should at least regulate the use of money in elections – i.e. require accountability and limit spending for all candidates in order to level the field of competition financially – and should be enforceable against all.
What Happened in Metn?
First and foremost, the Metn by-election should be interpreted for what it really was: a by-election to fill a parliamentary seat vacated by the assassination of MP Pierre Gemayel. As such there were winners and losers. The candidate that obviously won the election was Dr. Camille Khoury. The 2 other candidates lost.
Many may regard this as a narrow technical reading of the elections; for most, however, it is a simple reality. The margin of victory should only be relevant for the candidates themselves and their parties if they wish to broaden their base and run again in the future.
The mistake that many in Lebanon make today on both sides of the political spectrum (some with good intentions but others maliciously), is to blow the results of this by-election out of proportion and beyond their immediate implications.
Firstly, it was a by-election in a single district with ~48% voter participation, and it generated a clear winner.
Secondly, it was not a referendum on who better represents the Christians or the Maronites in Lebanon today, and therefore gets to name the next Maronite president - Michel Aoun or the Christians of the March 14 Coalition - for many reasons: technical (legal) and political.
Technical (legal) reasons:
1) The question of who better represents the Christians and their interests was not on the ballot
2) The opinion of the Christians in the Metn district does not necessarily reflect the opinion of all Christians in Lebanon
3) Not all the Christians of Metn participated, and
4) Non-Christians from Metn were also polled.
So technically, the winner was Dr. Camille Khoury.
Political reasons:
For more than two years now, the March 14 Coalition brandished itself as a national non-sectarian movement, representative of all Lebanese people, guided by the Taef accord and the famous oath of the late Gebran Tueini on March 14, 2005. As such, its candidates in any district should seek approval of all the district’s voters regardless of religious or ethnic affiliation. In fact, one would expect their candidates to reach out nationally beyond their sectarian base and their campaigns to brag about the diversity of their electorate rather than recluse to the votes of a single sect looking for a measurable yet hollow majority.
Surprisingly, many in the March 14 Coalition (most vocal being Samir Geagea), are doing just the opposite. They persist in reporting the results along a sectarian distribution in an effort to claim superiority in representing the Christians and the Maronites. That in itself is a political failure of the March 14 Coalition, and on many levels:
1) It turns the coalition into a federation of sects, rather than a coalition of national leaders. As such, Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblat could no longer claim to represent the Christians and Shiites of Beirut and the Shouf let alone Baabda-Aley, North Lebanon and the Bekaa; gutting thereby their parliamentary majority of any political clout – “politically speaking”.
2) Applying the Geagea logic to the results in Beirut II will leave the Future movement with less than 20% of the Sunni voters; unless someone can provide a fact-based reason for why more than 80% of the voters in a largely Sunni district (Beirut II) would boycott a by-election at times of high political tension.
3) The rhetoric used by some of the March 14 leaders is similar to the one used by Michel Aoun after the elections of 2005. Basically, presuming extra-institutional representative powers based on the popular votes of one sect in one district. Where do you cash this "check" in an institutional government?
No matter how one looks at it, the March 14 Coalition lost the by-election in Metn, technically and politically. The only political victory they may arguably claim goes to the cabinet of PM Siniora, and that by no means confer on the Christian leaders of the March 14 coalition the right to select the next president of the republic.
On the other hand, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and its allies, ran in 2005 on a sectarian platform, capitalizing on the anger of the Christian voter at the quadripartite alliance (Hariri, Jumblatt, Berri, Nasrallah), which totally marginalized the Christians. Christian leaders from Kornet Shahwan (now in the March 14 Coalition) who found it expedient at the time to participate with the Muslim alliance, to the dismay of Bkerki, paid the price heavily; the FPM won a majority of the Christian votes, albeit their representative power within Parliament was limited. What happened afterwards, the FPM used their victory and the mandate they acquired from the Christian communities of Lebanon to reach out nationally. They managed to broaden their political platform beyond its narrow sectarian appeal. Yes they may have sacrificed some of the Christian base but that’s what popularity is for: you take it to a spin and find out how far it carries you. Nationally speaking, it was a political success. The quadripartite alliance disintegrated and half of it is allied with the FPM today.
In the 2007 Metn by-election, the FPM and its allies used the same old mantra again (defending the Christians) without retracting from their broader national appeal. They won again, this time with a cross-section of the national electorate; very astute by all accounts!...but not enough to give the FPM and its allies exclusive right to select the next president.
Therefore saying that the Metn by-election ended politically without a victor is not accurate. In a parliamentary democracy, you do not seek to vanquish your opponents; you simply seek to unseat them – unless of course we are following a totalitarian model of elections, very common in our region of the world, and unless we really prefer Tabbouleh “à la syrienne”.
Not so Perfect, but a Democracy!
Despite all what was said and done, and despite the many flaws in the process, one cannot but thank the government of PM Siniora for remaining as neutral as humanly possible in a society like Lebanon, and insuring that the by-elections were conducted in a transparent manner and according to existing Lebanese law.
Perfecting the law and streamlining the process remain our sincere desire; as long as we work for it, we will be on the right track towards a better democracy.
* Elie D. Al-Chaer, PhD, JD. Scientist and lawyer; director of the Center for Democracy of Lebanon.