Latest New from the Daily Star for August
Top US, French officials scramble to secure deal
Hariri 'cautiously optimistic' upon return to Beirut
Offers to help Lebanon clean up severe oil spill hinge on cease-fire
Olmert orders start of expanded ground offensive
Iran's FM in Turkey for talks on Mideast crisis
Catholic Relief Service pledges $10 million in Middle East aid
UN Human Rights Council condemns Israeli attacks against Arabs
Global protests condemn Israeli offensives in Lebanon
Humanitarian disaster in South close to taking turn for the worse
Beirut's nightlife shifts to Broummana
Lost in limbo between Lebanon and US
Elderly woman in South Lebanon throws out Israeli troop
Bringing the siege of Lebanon into focus
Agents fan out to build case in UK airplane plot
Israel's political disarray threatens to prolong war
Is anyone awake to the wake-up call in London? By Rami G. Khouri
Latest New from miscellaneous siurces for August 12/06
Lebanon: the view from Syria-Open Democracy - London,UK
UN deal on Lebanon ceasefire expected today-National Post
Syria has violated international law - Amnesty International-British Ahwazi Friendship Society - London,UK
Pope to send special envoy to Lebanon-Reuters
US and Lebanon say ceasefire deal is close-Khaleej Times
World powers see Lebanon ceasefire deal, Israel wary-Malaysia Star
Difficult Decisions for Hezbollah.By: Raghida Dergham- Al-Hayat. 12 August 12/06
France's Moral Ceiling!By: Walid Choucair Al-Hayat - August 12/06
We Don't Want a Proxy War in Lebanon"-Spiegel Online
Polls Show Sinking Support for Israel's Government-Voice of America
24 Are Arrested in Alleged Plot Against US-Bound Planes
US embassy warns of terrorist attacks in India-Houston Chronicle
Latest New from miscellaneous siurces for August 12/06
Rice hopes for Lebanon vote at UN on Friday-Reuters
Beirut rejects deployment of additional UN troops-ABC Online
Rice to UN for Lebanon peace talks-Reuters Canada, Canada
Olmert comes under fire for Lebanon failures-Times Online, UK
Bush On The Conflict In Lebanon-Voice of America
Lebanon aid ship still in Cyprus-Monsters and Critics.com,
Russia, US Disagree Over UN Resolution for Lebanon -Bloomberg
UN steps up push for Lebanon deal-BBC News - UK
Russia calls for Israel-Lebanon ceasefire-ABC Online - Australia
Britain names suspects in airline bomb plot-ABC News
New strikes on Day 31 of Mideast fighting-KLTV -
US Embassy in New Delhi Issues Terror Warning-Voice of America
Israel Blasts Key Bridge to Syria-ABC News
Lebanon's figurehead of state-Globe and Mail - Canada
Push for Lebanon agreement at UN-BBC News - UK
Strife Beyond Lebanon-Washington Post - United States
Setback For Mideast Proposal-Hartford Courant - United States
Food running out in south Lebanon-Washington Post
Israel takes key town in Lebanon-International Herald Tribune
Britain/US: Terror Plot Foiled-WFIE-TV
Airline terrorists were days away from massacre at 30,000 feet-Scotsman
Analysis: Chirac wavers on how to save Lebanon-Jerusalem Post
Blair sees Lebanon agreement 'within hours'-Independent Online
Acting for Lebanon-Al-Ahram Weekly
France and US narrow gap on Lebanon-International Herald Tribune
SWC: Investigate Lebanon for war crimes-Jerusalem Post
Blair sees Lebanon agreement 'within hours-Independent Online
Israel holds off on new push-Christian Science Monitor
The best you could do?Al-Ahram Weekly - Cairo,Egypt
Khan ready to give up Liberal job to help Harper-CTV.ca, Canada
Difficult Decisions for Hezbollah
Raghida Dergham Al-Hayat - 11/08/06//
New York - For years, Hezbollah resisted the deployment of the Lebanese army in the South so that it could extend the State's authority there. This week, it has finally agreed to the idea that the government would send 15,000 troops to the South. But this came after the start of Hezbollah's war with Israel, which has devastated Lebanon. It is good enough for Hezbollah to agree that the army should carry out its normal tasks, but the movement has not yet ceded that authority over the South rests with the State alone. Nor has it taken the only step that would put an end to the war: surrendering its weapons to the State. It is still in Hezbollah's hands to prolong or end the war, and it has the responsibility of showing its good intentions. If it thinks that by blessing the dispatch of army units to the South the Security Council will change its attitude and allow it to keep its weapons, then Hezbollah is actually maneuvering to score points, despite the horrendous costs of this war which Israel is savagely waging.
On no condition will the Security Council bless Hezbollah if it keeps its weapons, not even if the Arab League delegation tries to have the resolutions modified on the grounds that the issue of Hezbollah's arms would be channeled into the Lebanese National Dialogue. Anyone who tries to allow the idea to pass that there can be two equal powers controlling Lebanon's sovereignty - the State and Hezbollah - is doing an injustice to Lebanon, because the existence of one authority will mean the end of the other. It is hoped that the authority of the State will remain, and not that Hezbollah will end it.
War with Israel is a decision that should only be taken by a sovereign State. And if Lebanon must continue the war with Israel, then Hezbollah must give up the authority it has robbed from the State, and return it willingly by taking concrete steps that go beyond the rhetoric of Hassan Nasrallah's speeches. These steps are obvious: Hezbollah should give up its weapons to the State, the militias should be disbanded, and they should be integrated into the regular army, without conditions or bargaining.
In other words, and in all honesty, Hezbollah must make decisions that relate to more than a battle in the war or the Security Council resolution. It has the historic responsibility of deciding once and for all whether this war is a battle for the survival of the party and the movement, even if the result is the complete destruction of Lebanon and its people; or to place Lebanon above the party and regional considerations. I have repeatedly stated in this column that these are Hezbollah's basic options that will affect the future of Lebanon and its people: either prosperity, or the destruction of the country.
More than eight months ago, on January 6, 2006, an article appeared in this column entitled: "Scenarios that 'Call For' A Military Strike on Lebanon and Syria". The article warned that grave preparations and policies were underfoot at the time. It would be well to cite parts of this article.
"There is talk in international circles of scenarios that strike a vital nerve of Syria and Hezbollah's decisions that relate to their survival, and warnings of the consequences to Lebanon and Syria if Israeli cities are struck from across the Lebanese borders. Besides aggravating the situation between the Palestinians and Israel by allowing the pro-Syrian Palestinian factions to act at will, Hezbollah is the most important factor that affects the situation in Lebanon. It has the power to allow steps to be implemented, and it can delay them. For this reason, the responsibility for Israel's bombing and invasion of Lebanon rests squarely on the shoulders of Hezbollah's leadership. Today, Hezbollah must choose between protecting Lebanon from being used and from acts of retaliation, on the one hand, and sacrificing it to serve Syria and Iran, on the other."
The above is a quotation from what was printed in this column. The following are some additions to highlight what happened afterward, and why.
The Syrian and Iranian leaderships may have found it in their interests at this juncture to provoke Israel through Hezbollah and the Palestinian factions, either to draw attention and pressure away from them, or to rally anti-Israeli feelings to them for their own local and regional purposes. Any Hezbollah operation against Israel from across the Lebanese border at this stage will be calculated to incite the Israeli bombing of Lebanon. And any encouragement from Syria to let the situation develop in this direction will mean that Damascus had the intention to provoke the Israeli shelling of Syria, which would enable it to declare to the Arabs that it is in a state of war with Israel.
As for Iran, according to Ali Larijani, Secretary General of the Higher National Security Council, Tehran has already set a scenario for retaliation if attempts are made to force it to abandon its enrichment of uranium. He also added that Iran has plans to drag the region into war. The article in this column, mentioned previously, noted, "This is exactly the scenario that was discussed in international circles: there would be a regional war motivated by Tehran and provoked by Syria. This would necessitate creating sectarian or political party violence among the Lebanese, and stirring problems in Lebanon."
Finally, again, to cite from the article, there are certain noteworthy points:
"It is said in international circles that the attempt to strike terror in the hearts of the Lebanese by carrying out a series of assassinations has proved to be a failure. The reason is that Lebanon remains united and has not slipped into civil war, as Damascus had hoped. The only alternative open to the Syrians now is to change their tactics completely, both qualitatively and quantitatively, so that the confrontation would be at all levels. This it will do by exploiting all the Lebanese and Palestinian elements to provoke Israel into taking large-scale action to distract attention from the Syrian presence in Lebanon and bringing it to account on the international level for what its security leaders have done."
With regards to Lebanon, the article stated, "From a Lebanese perspective, Hezbollah shoulders the greatest responsibility because it must decide once and for all whether it is truly a Lebanese party, or if it will be the instrument of the Syrian-Iranian decision to drag the region into war and turn Lebanon into the inferno to serve Iran's nuclear interests or save Syria from being brought to account for the criminal assassinations it is responsible for. Today, Hezbollah has the choice to prove its worth. Tomorrow, it will face a difficult test."
These words were written at the beginning of the year. They were not a prediction; they were based on information. Now, the time has come for Hezbollah to prove its worth in a period where everything is put to the test.
Hezbollah tested Israel and claimed the victory of trimming its might down to size, because it has deprived the Israeli army of the ecstasy of a lightning victory. But this test, which has been very costly to Lebanon, is not a real victory for Hezbollah because the movement has caused Israel to widen and intensify its invasion of Lebanon with the result that there may be another occupation of its territory. This is nothing for Hezbollah to celebrate or feel victorious about, because, ultimately, Lebanon will be used in a way that will not be in its interests and that will negatively affect its future. The fact that Israel is despicable is no excuse for sacrificing Lebanon to Syrian and Iranian ambitions. It is time that the 'nationalists' in Lebanon and the Arab World distinguished between their obsessive hatred of Israel and what is being done because of this hatred at the expense of future Arab generations.
These 'nationalists' make hay of what is happening in Lebanon, restricting themselves to the perspective of their hatred of Israel, and the Israeli aggression. But they are being elusive, in the sense that they deny the evil axis of Iran-Syria-Hezbollah, and excuse the latter of being accountable for the destruction of Lebanon. Israel is an enemy who does not care for Lebanon and its people. It considers Lebanon a target, and feels justified in violating all of the humane and international laws and the rights of civilians in war time. It therefore commits war crimes, and the dead bodies of children are a testimony to this. This is something one cannot argue with the 'nationalists' about: to them, anyone who dares to hold others beside Israel responsible is a traitor.
The 'nationalists' face the following challenge: either they are completely with open resistance that would immediately inflame the Syrian-Israeli front, thus allowing elements from al-Qaeda to pour in - and Syrian officials had warned they would arrive in Lebanon; or they must make up their minds to either support the authority of the Lebanese State, or Hezbollah, in the name of a resistance that is confined to this victimized country.
It is time to make decisive choices unequivocally: either to be for the sovereignty of the State, which would definitely mean that Hezbollah must disarm and give up its authority willingly or by force; or to be for Hezbollah as a substitute for the authority of the State, and which is deliberately acting to undermine it according to its agreement with Iran and Syria.
Ultimately, this is a battle for existence. Hezbollah can now choose, even on the ruins of Lebanon, to be a part of a Lebanese government that exercises its sovereignty independent of Iranian influence and Syrian excuses. This will require a decision that will turn Hezbollah from a movement that is subordinate to Tehran and Damascus to an effective party that can preserve its popularity within the Lebanese social structure.
As for the warnings expressed by the foreign ministers of Syria, Iran and Qatar that there will be civil war if the Security Council adopts the resolution to cease hostilities, these sound more like an incitement to civil war than actual warnings.
It never occurred to anyone in Lebanon at the beginning of this summer that they would be plunged into the inferno, as Iran had threatened. Nor did it occur to the Lebanese that they would be dragged into a war, as Syria had planned, with Hezbollah as its instrument. As for the fact that 'The True Promise' triggered a savage Israeli response, there is no doubt that this was beyond everyone's expectations. More than any other country, Israel is notorious for its brutality when it occupies territory, and for its disregard of civil rights and humane and international laws. In no way can Israel be excused for its disgusting conduct in the war, which is an injustice to Lebanon and the Lebanese. If Israel had self-confidence and could make its threats good, it would not have chosen the weakest country to vent its anger on. This paper tiger vents its frustration on the bodies of Lebanese and Palestinian children because it is afraid to wage war where it must - against Syria and Iran.
But informed sources that justify Israel's way of thinking challenge the statement that the Israeli military is bankrupt, and that Israel is a paper tiger. These sources say that part of Israel's strategy is to leave Hezbollah and Damascus with the impression that Damascus is not considered a target in this war, and that Hezbollah dragged Israel into the predicament of war in Lebanon, whereas it is Lebanon and Hezbollah who have fallen into the predicament.
The coming hours will expose both Israel and Hezbollah's claims in this war that is being conducted at the expense of Lebanon. But the issue will not be decided by peace or war in the next few hours. These two parties who toy with war thought that they could decide its outcome. Until now, both have failed and have made mistakes. A trumped-up war, such as is raging in Lebanon, can be unpredictably fatal. The pain has come before the end. Indeed, it is a preliminary to the end, and to a great deal of construction on the bodies of Lebanon's children.
France's Moral Ceiling!
Walid Choucair Al-Hayat - 11/08/06//
Does France have the wherewithal to stand up to the US over the draft resolution which, previously, both States had bargained over and was met with disapproval by the Lebanese with Arab League backing? Will this consternation between Washington and Paris be a repetition of what happened between them in 2003 over the decision to go to war with Iraq?
On Tuesday, French President Jacques Chirac hinted that the French vision might break away from the American vision of finding a solution for the Security Council resolution. The resolution, after all, is meant to put an end to the continued Israeli aggression against Lebanon, an aggression that the US has supported and backed blindly, regardless of all the massacres; barbarism and crimes against humanity left in its wake.
To pave the way for such a potential break, President Chirac did not rule out that Paris may come up with its own draft resolution independent of its original participation with Washington, if only because the original draft resolution is inapplicable. Lebanon did reject it because its internal makeup cannot accept such demands, and because it gives Israel freedom of movement within Lebanese territory, legitimizing any moves it takes by international decree. This takes Lebanon back to before the Israeli withdrawal in May 24, 2000, though with some minor military and political tactical modifications.
But what is certain is that even if France opts for an independent draft resolution (and this is still unclear despite Chirac's posture), the differences will not, out of necessity, reach the level of 2003 over the Iraq war, and for several reasons:
1 - Paris has crossed a large gulf to patch up relations with the US administration following the Iraq War to ameliorate the ill effects this has had on a number of international crises where both parties have common positions. One example is the wear on terror; others are global economic crises and the crises in Africa. Most recently, there was Lebanon and Resolution 1559, a case study in the crossing over of positions and a turning point in the process of mending bridges. More likely than not, neither Washington nor Paris can return to the chasm that developed in 2003 over Iraq. It seems that Paris decided that, like many other States, the invasion of Iraq was a disaster but the defeat and withdrawal of the US will also be a catastrophe for the West.
2 - Paris in 2006 does not have the same European following it previously had. One of the chief reasons for this is that Gerhardt Schroder's Germany is not Angela Merkeil's Germany, shifting as it did to the American-British axis, At least as far as Lebanon is concerned; not to mention the fact that the new members of the EU, such as Hungary and the Czech Republic, were willing this time round to openly defy Paris over an immediate ceasefire, instead of a cessation of hostilities.
3 - Israel's open war, backed without reservation by Washington, with all its savagery and barbarity, is merely the corollary of a larger confrontation between the West and the States that it backs in Asia. This encompasses Russia and Iran's drive to fully possess nuclear technology. Washington relied on the international consensus over the Iranian nuclear portfolio that came out very clearly in the Security Council Resolution that gave Tehran until the end of the month to end its uranium enrichment program. Washington used this momentum to legitimize its total support of the Israeli war against Hezbollah, one of Iran's chief pivots in its regional role. This role has continued to escalate while Tehran comes closer to acquiring nuclear technology. Western States, including France, are in agreement on this, hemming Iran in and considering Hezbollah one of its trump cards. It seems that Paris can do nothing about this open war on Lebanon in the face of Washington's clinching such a consensus. This would explain how limited France's ability was to improve on American ideas in the draft resolution.
The single, solitary function served by the margin of difference between France and America's belligerent pro-Israeli stance is a 'moral' function, as Chirac himself said. That is, he found it immoral for the Security Council to remain in limbo, with no resolution being issued because of the differences over the draft resolution. This stance was taken because Washington told Paris that the choice was between their demands (and by extension, Israel's) or no resolution at all, which meant the continuation of war.
The only positive aspect of France's 'moral' guise is that Paris might continue to be able to play a role inside Lebanon among the different groups, compared to the US - but no more, and no less.
Ayoon Wa Azan ( Smoking and
the Israeli Cabal )
Jihad el-Khazen Al-Hayat - 11/08/06//
Sometimes I feel like that smoker who was so horrified by what he had read about the effects of smoking that he gave up reading. I have read the lies of Israel's cabal about the US administration and its racism and diseases and have come to think that life is short and I do not want to get an ulcer out of sadness. Perhaps it is better that I stop reading.
Smoking and Israel's cabal are one and the same as either cause cancer or incurable diseases. From the beginning of this year I had begun to collect articles by pro-Israeli extremists to write a series about them, after writing about Daniel Pipes and Michael Ledeen. However, the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by the Palestinians on June 25 and then Hezbollah's kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers on July 12 made me change my mind and reorder my topics in a way that would help us understand the thought process of this group up to and including this current confrontation.
Therefore, I chose for the reader examples that demonstrate how truths are forged: Following the explosion of the issue of the insulting cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), it emerged that Daniel Pipes, who has connections with Danish extremists, led a campaign with the Danish newspaper, 'Jyllands-Posten'. I have written more than enough about him so I will choose others. For instance, P. David Hornik wrote an article entitled 'Embracing Islamo-Fascists', reflecting an attempt by the evil gang to popularize the term 'Islamo-Fascism'. I suddenly discovered that the phrase is being repeated in their writings, so much so that I wrote a column to warn everyone about it.
Andrew C. McCarthy, who posed the question: "War? What War? Those who don't learn from history" castigating the Bush administration's reluctance to identify the enemy in the 'war on terror' as not terrorism per se but Islamic terrorism. He insists that mentioning Islamists should not be neglected in this war. Joe Kaufman wrote an article 'CAIR April Fools', attacking the Council on American-Islamic Relations for organizing a conference. The least I can say in the Council's defense is that, unlike AIPAC, it is not teaming with 'spies' who have been prosecuted and found guilty for placing Israel before America. After this he wrote another article, 'An Annual Hatefest', about the annual get-together of Muslim students at Florida Atlantic University.
All I can say here is that if a Muslim wrote an article about a yearly gathering of Jewish university students and used the language Kaufman used, could he possibly escape the charge of anti-Semitism? Even Brandeis University has not escaped their wrath, while a Jewish university, simply because it awarded an honorary doctorate to the Jewish playwright Tony Kushner. Robert Spencer attacked the university because Kushner sympathizes with the Palestinians. Then Spencer attacked the university again because it had the audacity to host an exhibition about Palestinian children.
With the deteriorating situation in Iraq, the continued aimless killing and the failure of the occupation to find solutions, there were those who rushed to the defense of this failure. Edward Luttwak, for instance, writes 'Civil war: the only way to bring peace to Iraq'. The peace he preaches is the peace of the grave. He actually wants a civil war to kill off the Iraqis and his opinion, which reveals the racism and extremism of the author, is too contemptible to deserve a reply.
As for Andrew Walden, he took things a step further with his bizarrely titled article 'Iraq: Safer than DC', meaning Washington DC, the US capital. He even used statistics to back up his claim, which leaves one with nothing to do save thank the occupation for lifting Iraq up to the level of Washington's crime rate!
From Iraq to Iran, we find that warmongering is Michael Ledeen's bęte noir. I have already written a series about him, so I will choose someone else, someone who is the most virulent and most filthy of the neo-conservatives, namely, Richard Perle. He has written about the dangers of any retreat in the confrontation with Iran and has opposed negotiations with it. Also, like Perle in this regard, Mike McGavick calls for boycotting or expelling Iran, author of 'Red Carding Iran', getting the idea from the World Cup that was raging at the time. He argued that Iran already got itself a red card when it lost in the first round and had to leave.
Then the confrontation between Israel and Hamas and Hezbollah came and with that the pro-Israeli gang positively outdid itself. Dan Darling writes that 'Israel's enemy is our own'. I, on the other hand, insist that Israel is the greatest enemy of the US and its interests, and that the likes of Darling are responsible for spreading worldwide hatred of the US with their immoral adherence to Israel. In the same vein, Andrew McCarthy, whom I referred to previously, writes: 'Israel's war with Hezbollah is our war with Iran' - in other words, a war in which American boys will die in the service of Israel.
Kevin Toolis, who directed a documentary about suicide operations, wrote 'When in Rome, don't forget the bombs of 1983', pointing to the bombing of the American embassy in Beirut and the headquarters of the Marines. However, the article focused on the 'prince of martyrs' Ahmed Qassir who, in 1982, attacked the Israeli military headquarters in Tyre, killing 76 Israeli troops. This means that this Israeli apologist does not want any resistance at all to savage occupation.
I do not think anybody in the whole Arab world wrote articles objecting to suicide operations as much as I, and I still call for them to be stopped, but only because they kill civilians. Killing occupation soldiers, on the other hand, who have spread devastation in the land, is heroism and true martyrdom. If suicide operations targeted soldiers exclusively, I would not object to them, were it not for the fact that they often hurt innocent bystanders along with the criminal. Therefore, once again, I call for them to be stopped.
Michael Rubin has attacked the Bush administration, in his article, 'All Talk and No Strategy', for not being extremist enough. I found that he reminds the reader of a statement made in 2000 by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, declaring that Israel was a "cancerous body in the region . . . [which] must be uprooted." It seems that Rubin's memory is selective, since every Arab leader up until the end of the 1970s have mouthed the same words, as did Ayatollah Khomeini. I myself used similar terms in this column a few days ago, with the reservation that I do not want Israel wiped out, but I simply want it isolated behind the very exclusion wall it has built to isolate this cancerous tumor away from us.
I surmise that those defending Israel's crimes and dredge up excuses for it are a cancer themselves of another kind, even if they are no less dangerous than smoking!
2 men arrested in Ohio on charges of laundering money for Hezbollah
CHICAGO - Two 20-year-old men arrested in Ohio were being held on Thursday on charges of money laundering on behalf of Hezbollah, authorities said.
The two men, Ali Houssaiky and Osama Abulhassan, of Dearborn, Michigan, were apprehended on Tuesday in Marietta, Ohio, during a traffic stop and found carrying $11,000 in cash, 12 cell phones, airline passenger lists and information on airport security, a spokesman for the Washington County prosecutor's office said. Authorities said the men admitted to buying hundreds of telephones and reselling them in Dearborn. A map marking Wal-Mart stores from Ohio to South Carolina was also found in their sedan, a spokesman said. Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit with a large Arab-American population, has been a locus of U.S. investigations into money-raising on behalf of Hezbollah and Hamas, both groups that are on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations. The two men's alleged tie to Hezbollah was not detailed by authorities. Each was being held on $200,000 bond and neither had yet entered a plea to the charge, which carries a sentence of up to 18 months in prison. Initially, the two men were charged with obstructing official business because they lied to police, the spokesman said, but those charges were dropped. They were stopped for a turn signal violation in the central Ohio city 90 miles (145 km) southeast of Columbus.
Elmasry’s call for ‘tolerance’ undermined by his own statements,
says B’nai Brith Canada
TORONTO, August 10, 2006 - B'nai Brith Canada has characterized as “disingenuous and irresponsible” the remarks made yesterday by Canadian Islamic Congress president and University of Waterloo professor Mohamed Elmasry. Elmasry had urged Jewish groups to “tone down their rhetoric” in response to B’nai Brith Canada’s call for a ban of pro-Hezbollah rallies on our city streets.“It is the height of absurdity for Mohamed Elmasry to speak of promoting peace and tolerance when he himself is on record for publicly endorsing terrorism against Israeli civilians,” said Frank Dimant, Executive Vice President of B’nai Brith Canada. “When you add to the mix this individual’s recent attack on the core of Judaism, by his promotion through his Canadian Islamic Congress bulletin of the thesis that the Old Testament is the root cause of all hatred and violence in the world, then you get a picture of where he truly stands.
“It appears that Elmasry is once again whitewashing terrorism, this time in the form of Hezbollah, while at the same time holding himself up as poster boy for liberal democratic values. At this critical juncture, as democracies such as Israel, the UK and Canada grapple with how best to deal with terrorism, it is necessary to look beyond Elmasry’s empty platitudes for real and constructive solutions.”
U.N. rips lack of aid access in Lebanon
By ALEXANDER G. HIGGINS, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 20 minutes ago
The top U.N. humanitarian official said Thursday that relief workers have not been able to bring lifesaving aid to tens of thousands of people in Lebanon, and that the U.N. Security Council must act to stop Israeli and Hezbollah fighting.
Jan Egeland said a plan worked out with Israel, Lebanon and Hezbollah to funnel aid through humanitarian corridors has not worked the way each side had promised."It's a disgrace really because the parties to the conflict, the Israelis and Hezbollah, could give us access in a heartbeat and then we could help 120,000 people in southern Lebanon," Egeland said at the U.N.'s European headquarters in Geneva.
Egeland said the fuel shortage has become "the single most worrying humanitarian crisis at the moment," noting that four hospitals in southern Lebanon already have run out. The World Health Organization said it has enough fuel ready to keep hospitals in southern Lebanon functioning for a week as soon as it can move it by convoy. Without fuel, "hospitals will be paralyzed and simply will not be able to perform lifesaving operations, keep vaccines cold, or run incubators for newborns," said a WHO statement. It said a U.N. convoy of 15 trucks containing humanitarian relief, including medicines and health supplies, was unable to proceed to Baalbek in eastern Lebanon. The World Food Program also appealed to Israel and Hezbollah to allow relief assistance to reach thousands of victims in southern Lebanon. "Above all, we require a cessation of hostilities by both sides to allow humanitarian aid through," said Zlatan Milisic, WFP Emergency Coordinator in Lebanon. "Our aid operation is like a patient starved of oxygen facing paralysis, verging on death, if we can't open up our vital supply lines to help an estimated 100,000 people stranded south of the Litani River."
The international Red Cross, which also has pressed for improved access to southern Lebanon, said it has received a personal commitment from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that "everything possible will be done to facilitate access for our teams on the ground."
"Anything short of full access to these areas is insufficient," said ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger, who just concluded a four-day visit to Lebanon and Israel.
Kellenberger noted that some steps already have been implemented by Israel, which he said was critical given that the Red Cross has faced "enormous obstacles to bringing in aid convoys loaded with essential foodstuffs, water and medicines for trapped civilians." The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, whose aid stocks in Lebanon were nearly depleted because of the difficulty of sending in truck convoys, dispatched two airplanes from Jordan to Lebanon with a range of supplies on Thursday, spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis said. The World Food Program had to cancel one convoy that had Israeli clearance to take relief supplies to Sidon on Thursday, said spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume. The drivers refused to go, because they would be expected to remain in the region for two more days.
*Associated Press writers Bradley S. Klapper and Eliane Engeler contributed to this report.
Israel may be gearing up for escalation
By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA, Associated Press Writer
Israel took control of the strategic southern hub of Marjayoun on Thursday and warned that its fight against Hezbollah could grow wider and more severe if diplomacy fails. Israeli leaders have authorized a major new ground offensive going deeper into Lebanon but have held off to give international negotiators more time. With clear signals indicating that Israel already was gearing up for a major push northward, Israeli warplanes blanketed downtown Beirut with leaflets threatening a "painful and strong" response to Hezbollah attacks.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz also said the military would use "all of the tools" to cripple the Islamic guerrillas if U.N. efforts toward a cease-fire pact collapse.
Earlier, missiles from Israeli helicopter gunships blasted the top of a historic lighthouse in central Beirut in an apparent attempt to knock out a broadcast antenna for Lebanese state television. Top U.N. humanitarian official Jan Egeland, meanwhile, criticized Israel and Hezbollah for hindering the delivery of aid to civilians trapped in southern Lebanon, saying it was a "disgrace" they had failed to allow convoys to get through.
Egeland said a plan worked out with Israel, Lebanon and Hezbollah to funnel aid through humanitarian corridors has not worked the way each side had promised. "The Hezbollah and the Israelis could give us access in a heartbeat," Egeland said at the U.N.'s European headquarters in Geneva. "Then we could help 120,000 people in southern Lebanon. I don't think that any military advantage has been gained in these last days or will be gained in the next few hours."
At least 715 people have been killed in Lebanon since fighting erupted July 12_ including 628 civilians confirmed dead by the Health Ministry, 29 Lebanese soldiers and at least 58 Hezbollah guerrillas. The Lebanese government's Higher Relief Council put the number higher — at 973.
Authorities in Israel said 120 Israelis have been killed, including 82 soldiers and 38 civilians.
The seizure of the mostly Christian city of Marjayoun and nearby areas overnight appeared to be an attempt to consolidate bases in southern Lebanon before any possible push northward. It gives Israel an important foothold for any deeper drives into the country.
Marjayoun — about five miles from the Israeli border — was used as the command center for the Israeli army and its allied Lebanese militia during an 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon that ended in 2000. The high ground around Marjayoun, including the village of Blatt, overlook the Litani River valley, one of the staging sites for the relentless Hezbollah rocket assault on northern Israel.
Israel suffered its worst one-day military losses on Tuesday, with 15 soldiers killed, most in other areas of the south away from the Marjayoun area.
Taking command of Marjayoun was not considered a key battlefield victory since the city gives little support to Hezbollah. But reaching the site required passing through Hezbollah country, the scene of fierce fighting. Witnesses said they saw hundreds of Israeli foot soldiers moving into the town Thursday afternoon.
Hezbollah claimed it destroyed 13 Israeli tanks. Israel did not immediately give a tally of its losses.
Israeli gunners used their new vantage points as payback: pounding Hezbollah-led areas such as the plain around the nearby town of Khiam, which has been used as a rocket site for the militants.Still, Hezbollah was defiant. It fired 110 rockets into northern Israel by mid-afternoon, including one that hit Haifa, Israeli police said. An Arab Israeli mother and her young daughter were killed in the village of Deir al-Assad. Lebanese officials reported at least four civilian deaths Thursday.
On Wednesday, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah warned in a television address that Israeli Arabs in Haifa should flee for their own safety and threatened more strikes on the port city, already hit repeatedly by Hezbollah rockets.
In Ibl el-Saqi, a village about two miles east of Marjayoun, the mayor said nearly all residents had fled to the north.
"They all left this morning. There was very intense shelling last night," Riad Abou Samra said. But it seemed fewer and fewer areas of Lebanon were safe from the threat of Israeli attacks, including the relatively untouched heart of Beirut. The leaflets that fluttered down over the capital Thursday said "the Israeli Defense Forces intend to expand their operations in Beirut." They said the decision came after statements from "the leader of the gang" — an apparent reference to Nasrallah's television address. Israel also extended its warnings to areas north of Beirut. Leaflets said trucks "of any kind" would face attack after 8 p.m. along the northern coast road to Syria. A round-the-clock road curfew has been in force across southern Lebanon since early Tuesday.
Israeli warplanes pounded a coastal highway junction connecting three major southern cities — Sidon, Tyre and Nabatiyeh. The junction already had been nearly cut off in strikes on July 12 — the first day of fighting — which spared only a single lane. It was not clear if the road was completely severed in Thursday's hits.
The strike at the historic lighthouse, built early last century during French colonial rule, was the first in central Beirut since a warning Aug. 3 by Nasrallah that such a move would bring retaliation against Tel Aviv.
The capture of Marjayoun came just hours before a senior Israeli official, Rafi Eitan, announced the delay of an expansion of the ground offensive to give U.N. diplomats time for a cease-fire deal. Lebanon and its Arab allies demand Israel withdraw its forces as part of any cease-fire.
The planned offensive would thrust toward the Litani River valley, 18 miles north of the border — and would be aimed at crippling Hezbollah before a possible cease-fire. The offensive is expected to last a month and eliminate 70 to 80 percent of Hezbollah's short-range rocket launchers, but not its long-range launchers, senior military officials said. However, Trade Minister Eli Yishai, who abstained in Wednesday's vote, said the assessment is too optimistic. "I think it will take a lot longer," he said. Israel is waiting to see whether Arab and Western diplomats can find a solution to end the monthlong conflict.
"There are diplomatic considerations. There is still a chance that an international force will arrive in the area. We have no interest in being in south Lebanon. We have an interest in peace on our borders," Eitan told Israel Radio. The U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, Jeffrey Feltman, met three times Thursday with Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, whose aides reported no progress on negotiations to find a cease-fire. Relief agencies have sent aid to some Lebanese areas caught up in Israeli-Hezbollah fighting, but progress has been slow, U.N. officials said in pleading for more access. The international Red Cross said it has received a personal commitment from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that "everything possible will be done to facilitate access for our teams on the ground." "Anything short of full access to these areas is insufficient," ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger said.
Khan ready to give up Liberal job to help Harper
Updated Thu. Aug. 10 2006 7:54 PM ET
MP Wajid Khan is poised to temporarily give up his job as Liberal defence critic after accepting new duties as a special adviser on the Middle East to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "If I cannot justify being in a position that I can perform, then I must move out and let somebody else take over while I'm busy with this (new assignment)," the Mississauga Liberal MP told The Canadian Press late Thursday.
"That's only fair."
Khan refused to elaborate but said his office will issue a news release on Friday. A Liberal colleague said Khan is planning to step aside as the party's national defence critic. The colleague also told CP that Khan will not attend the Liberals' summer caucus retreat in Vancouver later this month, to allay concerns from some MPs that they won't feel free to speak their minds if an adviser to the Conservative prime minister is in the room. Khan hotly denied he's caving in to criticism from his colleagues or withdrawing from caucus meetings. Still, he suggested his busy travel schedule as Harper's new Middle East envoy may prevent his attendance at the Vancouver retreat. "It's quite possible I might be somewhere else in the world," he said.
Khan pointed out that he has received support for his new role from interim Liberal leader Bill Graham and from Liberal caucus chairman Raymond Bonin.
But most of Khan's caucus colleagues were stunned when Harper announced Tuesday that he had appointed the Pakistan-born, Muslim MP to be his special adviser on the Middle East and South Asia. Many Liberals view the move as a cynical partisan ploy by Harper to reach out to the Muslim community, which he has alienated with his unequivocal support for Israel's bombardment of Lebanon, and to exploit Liberal divisions over the issue. Some Liberal MPs are demanding that Khan withdraw temporarily from caucus, at least when the Middle East and Afghanistan are being discussed.
Michael Ignatieff, the front-runner in the Liberal leadership race, questioned whether the appointment has upset "the relationship of trust which is necessary for Wajid to sit in caucus." He suggested the matter must be sorted out at the Vancouver meeting.
"I think we're going to have to clarify the rules under which Wajid can and cannot participate," Ignatieff said in an interview. Others want Khan to reconsider his decision to help the Conservative prime minister navigate the perilous political waters surrounding the Lebanese crisis and the Afghanistan conflict.
By mid-Thursday, Toronto MP Maria Minna said she had received responses from about half a dozen fellow Liberal MPs to her previous day's e-mail demanding that Khan withdraw temporarily from caucus discussions. She said all agreed with her position.
"Wajid's a colleague and as far as I'm concerned he's still a Liberal," Minna said. "I just have concerns about talking in caucus in front of someone who's reporting to the prime minister." "I'm uncomfortable with it. He has to choose who he's going to stand with," said Paul Szabo, Liberal MP for a neighbouring Mississauga riding. "I would say this doesn't sound like a team thing to do. I think he's got to reconsider the appointment (as Harper's special adviser), I really do."
Szabo said Khan's surprise appointment has become "a matter of trust" for his Liberal colleagues. He said he had spoken to three other MPs who believe Khan must make a choice: Give up the new assignment or get out of Liberal caucus.
Borys Wrzesnewskyj, another Toronto MP, said he assumes Khan will conduct himself with "discretion" and ensure he doesn't betray Liberal confidences to Harper. Still, he said it's for caucus to decide whether Khan is welcome. "If a significant number in caucus do not feel that they are able to be forthright, then a decision will be made. Maybe Mr. Khan will make that decision by himself or perhaps a decision will be made for him," said Wrzesnewskyj.www.freelebanon.org
An appeal to all Lebanese regardless of their sectarian or political
If this is “Victory” how does defeat look like?
You are bearing the brunt of this calamity. Anyone who has seen Lebanon before July 12th would have thought that war and destruction were gone forever. You went about your daily lives, in your recently freed country, believing that whatever remaining issues would be solved on the table of dialogue. You were wrong. A Lebanese party, Hezbollah, has chosen to execute a different agenda. While you were building your homes, planning for your future, they were building bunkers and planning for war. While they were affirming to their counterparts that their weapons are only to “deter” and that they will not initiate any fights, their men were preparing for a major breach of international law on the Israeli border.
One has to wonder “why did they do that”. They obviously had no internal motives to explode the situation. By threatening to "cut the arms and necks of those who dared to touch the weapons of the resistance”, they intimidated political leaders and warranted the acceptance of their presence pending further political negotiations. The regional allegiances of Hezbollah caused the clash with Israel. Iran was searching for a diversion from the climaxing pressure over its nuclear programs and Syria wanted to cause the destruction of Lebanon and to explore the ensuing disorder to reenter and influence the Lebanese scene again.
In every country there is a silent majority. They are citizens who go about their daily lives without direct involvement in any political activities. This appeal is especially for you, the silent majority. Your silence was interpreted by Hezbollah as an approval of its false claims of “resistance” and “liberation”. For sectarian and economic reasons, Hezbollah has some hardcore supporters. You should not allow yourselves to be bunched up with those. Supporting the adventures of Hezbollah for the sake of Iran and Syria has proven to be deadly. Hezbollah drafted you to become martyrs of its “Islamic revolution”. If you do not speak up now your blood will be spilled for the wrong cause. The future of Lebanon depends on you solely. Like you made your voice heard during the “Cedar Revolution” you should do it now. Then, you were outraged by the loss of a great political leader, now, all of Lebanon could be lost.
Hezbollah is presenting itself as an achiever of a miracle. It wants us to admire and applaud its feats. Granted it has some devoted and ideologically motivated fighters but what good are they doing for Lebanon. Do you believe, as Hezbollah does, that the destruction of your homes and neighborhoods is a necessary price to pay to cure the inferiority complex of the UMMA? Did you need to be displaced, watch friends and family killed and all your dreams and aspirations destroyed so Hezbollah can prove to the world that it could lob rockets on Israel or it could kill a few soldiers? Do you accept the winning theory of Hezbollah? If this is “Victory” how does defeat look like for Lebanon and the Lebanese?
You, the silent majority, should raise your voices against being deprived from your rights and safety for an ideological fanaticism foreign to you and your culture. You have to act now to dismantle the moral pedestal over which Hezbollah claims to stand. You have to unravel the cloak of patriotism under which Hezbollah pretends to operate. No single party should be allowed to decide the fate of Lebanon. The catastrophe will be a lot more devastating if you remain morally confused or unaware of whom your true enemy is. While the fighters of Hezbollah are bunkered and prepared you are there left helpless under the rain of fire. It’s time for the Lebanese, the Lebanese Government and the Lebanese Army to fill the void Hezbollah exploited in the South of Lebanon.
Our hearts and minds are with you. May God save Lebanon.
AI Index: MDE 02/013/2006 (Public)
News Service No: 212
11 August 2006
Lebanon/Israel: 1.8 million asked to write to Israeli government demanding safe passage for trapped civilians
Amnesty International has launched an "Urgent Action" to its 1.8 million members around the world calling on them to write to the Israeli Minister of Defence, Amir Peretz, asking him to take urgent steps to ensure safe passage for civilians in the south of Lebanon.
Israeli bombardment of roads, bridges, telecommunication transmitters, electricity networks and fuel depots throughout southern Lebanon has forced tens of thousand of civilians to flee their homes. But thousands of others who were unable to leave are now trapped in the area.
"The plight of civilians in the south of Lebanon is at crisis point. Evacuation of civilians who wish to leave must happen immediately, and emergency supplies and aid needs to reach villages in Southern Lebanon urgently," said Kate Gilmore, Amnesty International's Executive Deputy Secretary General.
"The Israeli authorities must allow immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access, as well as safe passage out of Southern Lebanon. It is absolutely shameful that humanitarian convoys trying to deliver badly needed aid cannot gain safe access."
For at least a week, neither the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), nor any other humanitarian or relief organization, has been able to reach the villages under Israeli siege. United Nations' top humanitarian official Jan Egeland on Thursday criticised Israel and Hizbullah for hindering access to 120,000 people still in South Lebanon, calling it a "disgrace".
Amnesty International delegates who visited a number of villages earlier this week reported that in at least two of them, Aitatoun and Bint Jbail, more than 200 people remain trapped, including women, children, elderly and disabled people. At least one of those trapped is a pregnant woman.
The Amnesty International delegates described the unbearable stench of rotting corpses that pervades the villages as the bodies of people killed in their homes remain under the rubble, roaming dogs often indicating where bodies are buried.
"The dire humanitarian situation is not exclusive to the villages that our delegates were able to visit, the situation of despair of those who remain trapped by the conflict is likely to be replicated in villages all over the south of Lebanon," said Kate Gilmore.
"Israel's repeated calls for residents to evacuate villages has led to massive internal displacement. The mere issuing of warnings does not excuse disrespect for the rules of war," Kate Gilmore cautioned.
Amnesty International called on Israel to respect the distinction, that is protected under law, between civilian and military objects. It must put an end to the direct, disproportionate and indiscriminate targeting of civilian objects, such as residential buildings and medical facilities.
US optimistic of UN vote Friday on Lebanon war
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice travelled to the UN headquarters as the United States expressed mounting optimism that a vote on a Security Council vote on the Middle East war would be held.US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice travelled to the UN headquarters as the United States expressed mounting optimism that a vote on a Security Council vote on the Middle East war would be held.
US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, said "we are getting closer" to an agreement between resolution backers, the United States and France, and Lebanon and Israel. "I have every aspiration to vote this afternoon assuming of course that all of the members of the council are willing to waive the 24-hour rule. We are not yet at agreement but we are very close," he said Friday.
France and the United States would normally have to wait 24 hours after a resolution is put to the council before a vote is carried out. But this can be waived with the agreement of the 15 council members.
After days of delay which has caused mounting international frustration, the US secretary of state was also "hoping for a on the resolution today" calling for a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, said a senior State Department official.
Rice was to meet UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who expressed guarded optimism.
"I think we've had enough discussions, the issues have been discussed all around and it is time for decision and I hope the council will take firm action today," Annan told reporters before Security Council consultations on the crisis.
"Each day the discussion goes on, the deaths, the killing and the destruction continue in the region and civilians on both sides continue to suffer," he added.
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy was also due at the UN headquarters and Britain's Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett was in New York to take part in negotiations.
France and the United States have agreed a formula that would see Israeli troops gradually withdraw from southern Lebanon, diplomats said. They would be replaced by 15,000 Lebanese troops backed up by a strengthened UN force.
But Lebanon has raised questions about makeup and mandate of the international force, diplomats said.
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