LCCC ENGLISH NEWS BULLETIN
New from the Daily Star sources for August 17/06
Cabinet approves troop deployment in South today
Maronite Bishops call for single national leadership
Was the war in Lebanon a blueprint for Iran?
A war with neither victor nor vanquished?
Tyre postpones mass burial as army fixes bridges
Economically, heart of Beirut is barely beating
AUB volunteers decided to continue relief efforts for at least another week
Arab criticism of Hizbullah: 'The street is not with us'
Tankers arrive just in time to take edge off far-reaching fuel shortage
CDR: Rebuilding infrastructure will take at least a year, cost $3.5 billion
Love it or hate it, Hizbullah has lessons for all Arabs
Does Lebanon's mess open a door to peace? By David Ignatius
The somber dream of a garrison state -By Michael Young
Latest New from miscellaneous sources for August 17/06
France to head new Lebanon force-BBC News
South Lebanon: 200,000 people are left without shelter-Reuters
Families claim their war dead in south Lebanon-Reuters
Lebanon army to deploy in south Thursday-Ynetnews
Lebanon skirts issue of disarming Hezbollah-AP
15,000-strong peacekeeping force planned for Lebanon-AP
Iran and Syria Claim Victory for Hezbollah-Los Angeles Times
Israel sends mixed signals on Lebanon pullout-Newsweek
Papal envoy to Lebanon, Cardinal Etchegaray, winds up visit-AsiaNews.it
The weak link is the Lebanese government-Global Politician - Brooklyn,NY,USA
Young: Hezbollah's Rivals Not Happy With Its Attack on Israel-Council on Foreign Relations
War likely leaves Hezbollah stronger in Lebanon-Houston Chronicle
Israel shells out $6bn for Lebanon war-Business Day
Handover in Lebanon as troops change over-Euronews.net
UN hopes to deploy peace forces in Lebanon-NDTV.com
Turkish FM to visit Israel, Lebanon-People's Daily Online
UN's Israel/Hizballah Resolution Rewards Terror-Zionist Organization of America (press release)
France calls on Israel to end Lebanon blockade-Jerusalem Post - Israel
Truce in Lebanon Holds as UN Attempts to Assemble Peacekeepers-Voice of America
Hezbollah promises to rebuild in Lebanon-Houston Chronicle
Will Mossad Ignite a War with Syria by Killing Fouad Siniora?uruknet.info
A problem of perception-Die Welt - Germany
Syria sees no Mideast peace-
Israeli commission to probe Lebanon war conduct-Euronews.net
European Nations Plan New Anti-Terror Efforts-New York Times
Now the war of words starts-Scotsman
Tehran softens stance on nuclear talks-Financial Times
ANALYSIS-Palestinians await fallout from Lebanon war-Reuters
Maronite Bishops call for
single national leadership
By Maroun Khoury
Daily Star correspondent
Thursday, August 17, 2006
BEIRUT: Criticizing what it called a divided national decision-making process, the Council of Maronite Bishops said Wednesday that "it is impossible to continue like this." "Decisions have to be taken by one leader, one leader represented by the government who has won the confidence of Parliament and is elected by the people, otherwise the country is doomed to suffer catastrophes," said Monsignor Youssef Tawq, spokesman for Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir.
In a statement released following an extraordinary meeting chaired by Sfeir in Bkirki, the council said the cease-fire in the Israeli-Lebanese conflict - which has destroyed much of Lebanon's infrastructure as well as devastated thousands of homes and displaced hundreds of thousands of citizens - has been welcomed by the Lebanese. But, the council added, "this does not dispel the people's fear of Security Council Resolution 1701's content, which is open to various interpretations."
A papal delegate, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, took part in the meeting before his departure to the Vatican carrying along a message of gratitude from Sfeir to Pope Benedict XVI.Etchegaray has been in Lebanon for a three-day visit to inquire about the situation of the Lebanese in the wake of the destructive war that left more than 1,000 people dead. The cardinal also made a donation to the Caritas Lebanon League in support of the needy on behalf of the Vatican.
The council expressed gratitude to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who heads the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and all Catholic organizations in the US and the world for their "generous" humanitarian aid. The council called on the Lebanese to unite to rebuild Lebanon.
Prior to his departure, Etchegaray held a press conference in Harissa where he said his meetings with the religious and political authorities highlighted the readiness of the Lebanese to rescue their country. "Peace was not the objective of those involved in the fighting only, but that of all parties," he added.
Commenting on the predicament of the displaced, the cardinal called on governmental and nongovernmental associations to expedite help, conveying the Holy See's concern about the spiritual and material needs of Lebanese.
Iran must help disarm Hezb
Posted on 8/15/2006
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times
WHEN people are wondering whether there is any real need for Hezbollah’s continued existence, especially as Israel has started withdrawing from Southern Lebanon, Syria has come to Hezbollah’s rescue by citing the story of Shebaa, which was occupied by Israel along with the Golan Heights in 1967. According to Syria, Hezbollah has the right to exist and resist Israel until Shebaa and the three Lebanese hostages captured by Israel are freed.
Syria and Hezbollah are acting as if there is no legitimate government in Lebanon. Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and forced Israel to occupy southern Lebanon to justify its existence and intensify Iran’s presence in the southern parts of Lebanon. Instead of serving the national interests of Lebanon, Hezbollah’s excuses are aimed at helping Iran to achieve its goals. The short-term goal of Hezbollah is to give Tehran an opportunity to escape the pressure of the international community, which has given Iran time until the end of August to end its uranium enrichment programme and comply with the regulations of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The Western world has understood how vicious Iran can be. Tehran won’t mind burning Syria and Lebanon to achieve its own goals without any thought for the innocent victims. This is why Western countries have decided against attacking Syria. Tehran’s intentions were clear to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak when he received Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to discuss the tragic events in Lebanon.
Mubarak made it clear to Mottaki that Arabs, who believe Hezbollah has launched a reckless stunt, won’t support Iran through its proxy Hezbollah. The Egyptian President also told Mottaki that attempts to play the sectarian game by pitting the Sunnis against Shiites in southern Lebanon won’t serve Iran’s interests. As a result the Iranian minister left Egypt with the impression that Egypt won’t coordinate with Tehran in its policies.
The truth of the matter is that Iran is refusing to reach an understanding with the international community. It refuses to disarm Hezbollah and support the stand of the legitimate government of Lebanon. Mubarak couldn’t resist asking Mottaki “who is the real decision-maker in Iran and who is Iran’s official spokesman?Lebanon is passing through a fragile truce, which may collapse any moment unless Iran whole-heartedly participates in disarming Hezbollah, which has become a burnt ace that cannot be used again. At this crucial juncture Tehran must establish its good intentions and understand that being the enemy of the whole world and flexing muscles against Israel won’t help it in strengthening its position or security in the region.
Iran must abandon the path of revolutionary theories and build a state with a recognized decision-maker. Iran can prove its good intentions by helping the Lebanese government to disarm and dismantle Hezbollah. This will help Tehran avoid a dreadful confrontation with the international community.
Lebanon: A view
One million people from all over the south have fled their towns and their homes. Broke, they hang on to their dignity and move into public schools, parks, convents, and receive hand outs that consist of clothing, milk, diapers, bread, canned food, or anything that might allow their family to survive. If you go down to the Dahiyeh area in the outskirts of Beirut, you see nothing but total destruction. Standing on city streets, you don’t hear any cars passing, but only the sound of your own feet walking over all the rubble. Even the city cats have answered the Israeli pamphlets asking everyone to leave their homes. Even those who are attempting to flee their homes are not safe during the trip. Fighter planes hit a Red Cross convoy attempting to evacuate civilians from war-torn areas, where a family of fourteen, had three killed and nine wounded, some of whom have lost limbs and others were brutally disfigured. The bodies of the dead are still under the rubble one week later, because of the heavy bombing in that area. Stories of the ill, the pregnant, the elderly, the hungry, the wounded, the orphaned and the dead are endless. Over one thousand are dead so far; that being said, one can only imagine what their families are feeling right now. To make things worse, they are unable to grieve properly or give a proper burial because the bombs falling from the sky don’t leave a safe window for the dead to be buried. One can only pray that this brutal war will not leave an everlasting mark on one third of our population. Many Lebanese are taking advantage of other peoples sorrows and rental of homes in safe areas has skyrocketed in some parts. Gas station owners added to the shortage problem by withholding gas from the public until the prices went up.
Thankfully, most of the stories we hear are of people opening their homes, mayors opening their towns and of schools, both public and private, opening their doors to all the refugees. As co founder of the Lebanese association for development and growth, I have seen first hand all of the sorrow that has invaded and raped these people from most everything they hold dear. We can hate what is happening, and blame whoever we want, but the one thing we can not do as Lebanese from any religion or background, is to believe that this is not everyone’s problem. Thirty one years have passed since the thought began that one sect or one religion can actually eliminate or destroy another in Lebanon. Turning the blind eye towards what is happening, assuming that this is only a Shiite problem will end up destroying us all. We simply can’t leave one million people in need, no matter if we agree with their political or religious belief or not. Only in unity towards the humanitarian side of this and not necessarily the political one, can we survive this painstaking blow to our country.Our economy has been suffering enough, and many fear that we have been kicked while we were down; that Lebanon was expecting millions of tourists and billions in revenue. Many of us also believe that diplomacy was the key to our problem solving and not a forced war on us all. But one thing is for sure, all of this should not be directed towards the homeless and the hungry right now. If we do not act responsibly today, we all may end up losing our country. Selfish devotion to our own religion, political beliefs, village or whatever it is we all have will have made us all lose what we love the most, our beloved Lebanon.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Pro-terror sympathies undermine respect for Canadian law,
says B’nai Brith Canada
TORONTO, August 15, 2006 – B’nai Brith Canada has reiterated its concern over the increasingly open displays of sympathy for terrorist groups on our city streets. Virulently anti-Israel manifestations such as this weekend’s burning of an Israeli flag by cheering crowds at a supposedly pro-peace rally held in Toronto, should be taken as a precursor of future extremist activity if left unchecked, says the Jewish human rights group.
“We have noted an alarming trend whereby elements within Canadian society are openly challenging Canadian law to express support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah that are banned in this country,” said Frank Dimant, Executive Vice President of B’nai Brith Canada.
“We are concerned by the statement of Ali Mallah, Vice-President of the Canadian Arab Federation – Ontario Region, who has expressed open defiance for Canada’s laws by challenging the government’s ban of Hezbollah. He did so in a very public venue on a popular Toronto radio program, apparently without considering the implications of the terrorism that he appeared to be condoning. We also heard last week the joint statement by the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and the group Muslims Against Terrorism, which in one breath condemned the alleged terrorism plot discovered by UK authorities, while at the same time characterizing it as a trumped-up plot to deflect attention away from events in Lebanon. The groups alleged that the plot was dreamt up by ‘Neo Cons’, which is often used as code for Jews.
“We have requested an urgent meeting with Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair as well as relevant federal authorities. We are recommending that loopholes in the existing anti-terrorism legislation be closed to prohibit the kind of glorification of terrorism that we are currently seeing. Such pro-terror sympathies must be addressed immediately, lest Canada’s multicultural values of tolerance and respect be eroded.”
Who Wins?On the Mideast muddle.
An NRO Symposium
14, 2006, 2:46 a.m.In the wake of Friday night’s vote on a ceasefire resolution at the United Nations on the crisis in the Middle East, are there any winners in the thirty-some days’ war? National Review Online asked a group of experts in the U.S. and Israel.
The most frightening part of the U.N. Security Council resolution is that the United States agreed to allow the U.N. to play a pivotal role in the battle of our age — between democracy and terrorism, freedom and bondage, dignity and intolerance.
Kofi Annan’s wide grin, as he stood side-by-side with Secretary Rice on Friday, said it all. He won. But America and freedom’s cause lost.
At exactly the moment the “reformed” U.N. Human Rights Council condemned Israel — and only Israel — for the third time in two months, America cut a deal with the same U.N. to pin down the arms of the state on the front lines of democracy’s war.
Why is the America that guards the right of self-defense so dearly willing to deny it, in effect, to the state of Israel? Why would America permit the U.N., which has systematically sided with Arab and Islamic states in their war against the Jews for half a century, to play-act as even-handed peacemaker? Why did the administration believe that denying Israel a win over Iranian proxies this time means America is more likely to win over their Iranian bosses next time?
Everything about this resolution is an assault on the shared values of America and Israel: labeling Israel’s battle against Hezbollah partially “offensive”; failing to mention Iran and Syria — the states driving the war; designing a force for southern Lebanon incapable of disarming Hezbollah; suggesting territorial gains for Hezbollah’s terror; signing a death warrant for the kidnapped Israeli soldiers by placing their release side-by-side with the release of Lebanese killers in Israeli jails.
So why did the administration sign on? The mistaken impression that the U.N. is a good place to make real friends and allies who will be there down the road; the erroneous belief that having the intolerant and the racist inside the tent is progress; the alleged lack of an alternative. These are a lot of very bad reasons for handing an international institution unable to define terrorism a central role in combating it.
— Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and at Touro College Law Center. She is also editor of www.EyeontheUN.org.
Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran.
At the outset of the conflict, Hezbollah had faced deteriorating popularity at home and the very real possibility of dismemberment at the hands of the Israeli military. But despite four weeks of heavy bombardment, the Shiite militia has survived to fight another day. There is no doubt that it will.
Syria is also sitting pretty. Early on, the Assad regime seemed to be caught in the crosshairs of a conflict that could quickly escalate into a regional conflagration — a nightmare scenario for a state whose survival strategy is simply to wait out the Bush administration. Now, however, not only is its security assured, but Hezbollah’s war with Israel, and the resulting political vacuum that has emerged in Lebanon, has provided Damascus with the opportunity to reclaim lost political ground.
Iran, meanwhile, is stronger than ever. Hezbollah’s resilience vis-à-vis Israel has reinforced the power — and the popular appeal — of the Islamic Republic’s principal terrorist proxy. And, with international attention diverted, the Iranian regime has gained valuable breathing room to forge ahead with its nuclear program.
—Ilan Berman is vice president for policy at the American Foreign Policy Council, and author of Tehran Rising: Iran’s Challenge to the United States.
Thus far, the U.S. and Israel lose; Iran wins.
The U.S. believed Israel’s destruction of Hezbollah would be a victory on one front in the war against terrorists and the states that harbor and support them; a proxy victory over Iran. The administration gave Israel time, space, and political support, although simultaneous U.S. military attacks on eastern Syrian staging grounds for terrorist infiltration into Iraq would have benefited both countries.
At the U.N., the U.S. held out for what Israel called its strategic goals: return of its soldiers, dismantling Hezbollah, and extending Lebanese sovereignty to the south. But UNSCR 1701 contains no enforcement mechanism, leaving continued and successful military operations by the IDF as the only hope for a satisfactory resolution. To date, unfortunately, IDF operations have been far from successful, and Israel’s civilian leadership appears to have decided against continuing offensive military operations. Israel’s chief of military intelligence acknowledged that Syria and Iran will continue to supply Hezbollah — a huge setback for the good guys.
Hezbollah’s decision Sunday not to entertain disarmament talks gives Israel one last chance. A coordinated and clever military campaign could, with luck, bring success — but time is running out and the political tide is turning.
— Shoshana Bryen is director of special projects for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA).
If there is a clear winner in this war, it’s Iran. Regrettably, the “Mullahs of Mayhem” came out of the conflict with nary a scratch — politically, economically, or militarily. While Tehran lost no soldiers, and suffered no attacks on its territory, it was able to:
a) Divert a great deal of world attention from its nuclear (weapons) program, and its support for anti-American Shia militias in Iraq;
b) Strike out at its arch-enemy Israel using its terrorist toady, Hezbollah;
c) Severely damage public opinion about the U.S. in the Muslim world;
d) Put a deep freeze on the Middle East peace process;
e) Push global oil prices even higher, filling its national coffers for advancing its nuclear program, its conventional military, and its support of Hamas and Hezbollah;
f) Catapult itself to a position of leadership in the Muslim world through its support of Hezbollah;
g) And, lastly, remind the region — and the world — that it is capable of creating even more instability if anyone tries to get in the way of its plans for hegemony in the Middle East.
— Peter Brookes is senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He is author of A Devil’s Triangle: Terrorism, WMD and Rogue States.
The big winners in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which set the terms of a ceasefire between the state of Israel and the Hezbollah terrorist organization, are U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran.
Kofi Annan is a major beneficiary of the resolution because it named him the arbiter of compliance with the ceasefire. Moreover, by retaining UNIFIL and widening its mandate, it rendered him Generalissimo Annan of Lebanon. Israel can expect daily condemnations from the U.N. Secretariat’s office for any act it takes to defend itself against Hezbollah strikes.
Hezbollah is the big winner of the resolution because it adopts almost every Hezbollah demand. Hezbollah will not be disarmed. An arms embargo will not be instituted against it. Its unsupportable claim to Lebanese sovereignty over the Shebaa Farms on the Golan Heights has received international recognition. It is not going to be forced to release the Israeli soldiers it holds as hostages. As Hassan Nasrallah put it, “Yipee, we won. But we still have more demands so better watch out in Haifa!”
Syria is a winner because the resolution made no mention of the fact that Syria is Hezbollah’s logistical base. By ignoring Syria’s central role in the war, the resolution effectively gave its blessing to continued Syrian aggression against Israel (and U.S. forces in Iraq) through terrorist proxy armies.
Iran is the greatest winner of the Security Council’s ceasefire sweepstakes. Iran, which was the architect of the entire war, did not even receive a mention in the resolution. It is already using this victory to force the Arab world to accept its leadership. The Iranian foreign minister’s visit Sunday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was a clear sign that its stock is sky high. Iran has not had full diplomatic relations with Egypt since 1979.
— Caroline Glick is a columnist for the Jerusalem Post.
Halting the violence and ending the humanitarian catastrophe are commendable goals. Anyone expecting dramatic changes as a result of this resolution, however, is going to be disappointed.
One very big gamble is whether Hezbollah will remain, from the perspective of the resolution, a non-state actor and militia subject to disarmament. Left unspoken is what happens if the Party of God cloaks itself within the veneer of Lebanon’s state sovereignty. After all, in Kosovo the KLA transformed itself from a terrorist organization on the State Department’s watch-list into the province’s official police force.
The resolution also does not solve what I have termed “Israel’s Napoleonic conundrum” — its inability to transform its battlefield superiority into acceptance — even grudgingly — of its permanence in the Middle East. The dream of a latter-day Horns of Hattin has not been damaged by the latest round of fighting.
I see two long-term losers beyond Israel and Lebanon.
The first is the “onward march of democracy.” Given the central role of semi-authoritarian states like Jordan and Pakistan in the war on terror — particularly after the foiling of the liquid-explosives-on-airliners plot — does anyone in Washington still want to pressure Amman, Islamabad, or any other friendly capital to continue pell-mell with democratization if the end result is to bring into government forces profoundly hostile to U.S. interests? Fuad Siniora’s heart may be in the right place, but with Hezbollah in his coalition his freedom of action is highly constrained. Does anyone want Pervez Musharraf similarly handicapped?
Iraq is the second loser. Like Lebanon, it too has a weak central government ruled by an unstable coalition cobbled together from ethnic and sectarian parties. Hezbollah has just demonstrated not only to like-minded elements like Sadr’s Mahdi army but to others like the Kurds that a well-organized, determined subnational actor can bypass the central government and unilaterally decide questions of the utmost importance for the entire state, not a particularly useful lesson for a country already on the eve of civil war. (On a side note, pro-Hezbollah demonstrations in Baghdad have not helped Iraq’s cause among the American public either.)
The only glimmer of hope is whether this resolution starts a process of making what happens in southern Lebanon accountable. Will the West have the backbone and staying power to establish and maintain this region as a demilitarized neutral zone? Will Israel end up concluding that Damascus is a “known quantity” and that it is a lesser evil to return to the pre-2005 status quo ante Cedar Revolution — tolerating an overt Syrian presence in return for holding Hezbollah in check? One thing seems clear — three years of “transformation” have not made the region more stable or Israel more secure. Perhaps what is needed is a good dose of realism.
— Nikolas Gvosdev edits The National Interest and blogs at The Washington Realist.
One loser in the fighting in Lebanon is the staunch proponents of airpower alone as a response to asymmetric threats. For military and political leaders, responding to Hezbollah attacks with air strikes held the charm of providing clean victories without heavy casualties. It is a terrific theory with one problem: it does not work against an enemy dug in and using easily portable rocket launchers. (Although this does not guarantee that it will not be tried again. Israel’s previous experience hunting down Katyusha launchers by air should have been sufficient warning of the limitations of airpower against Hezbollah.)
This academic debate had real-world implications. While Israel’s leadership tested the airpower theory, valuable time was lost. This was a unique situation when Israel went to war with a relatively high-level of international sympathy. This advantage was squandered with a semi-effective air campaign, which inevitably made tragic mistakes. When the campaign brought disappointing results Israel’s leadership dithered before finally committing substantial ground forces. But the ground campaign suffered from a lack of strategic clarity. Although the IDF fought well, poor leadership created the appearance of a Hezbollah victory — establishing Hezbollah as the only Arab army that can meet Israel head on.
— Aaron Mannes, author of the TerrorBlog and Profiles in Terror: The Guide to Middle East Terrorist Organizations, and he researches terrorism at the Maryland Information and Network Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Maryland. Opinions expressed here are his own.
Israel has been defied and found wanting: It neither defended territory and population from attack nor brought the war to its enemy. A hesitant war never tried to hit the enemy’s center of gravity. Some fingers were crushed — Hezbollah fighters — but neither the head, Iran, nor Syria, their connector, were hit. They have shown themselves able to unleash more terror against Israel, through their utensil Nasrallah, without having to pay a price.
For close to a month, George Bush re-emancipated himself from the bureaucracy. Once military operations started, he properly opened a window for Israel, since she was fighting the right war against the masters of terror. The window is now closed. Political capital has been spent in vain: Olmert and Halutz have squandered an extraordinary strategic opportunity; the U.S., by accepting the disastrous U.N. ceasefire resolution, is making it worse. We still need to crush the Iranian threat, but are worse off to do so.
Iran and the Syrian enabler now triumph: They have substantially lowered Israel’s deterrence. Israel should expect a new, bigger wave of terror attacks, a new war. We should expect an Iran-led Shiite insurrection in Iraq within months. The dynamic of success holds especially for jihad. Before the Lebanon affair, Ahmadinejad et al. were drunk with impunity: they will now hasten their flight forward.
— Laurent Murawiec is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
Before July 13, Hezbollah was winning by building its massive terrorist infrastructure and feeding its cells around the world, unchecked. Tehran was readying Hezbollah for a future strategic strike against the U.S., Europe, and Israel at Ahmedinijad’s timing (connected to the nuclear crisis).
The state of play as of Sunday night? Hezbollah lost its preeminence as a military power in south Lebanon (for few months), its ability to surprise Israel (and the U.S. and the West) in the near future, and part of its legal protection inside Lebanon. This partially curtails Hezbollah, but only on paper. Israel depleted significant Hezbollah capacities but stopped short of a strategic change on the ground. The Lebanese government, which was being suffocated gradually by Nasrallah, got an opening. In short:
Hezbollah lost 40 percent, but can still reverse it and re-obtain up to 90 percent;
Israel on 40 percent, but it can still lose it and go back to level 0;
The Lebanese government gained a 50 percent chance to reassert itself, but can lose it all to Hezbollah.
— Walid Phares is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
In any war, there are winners and losers. Sometimes, however, without the luxury of time and perspective it’s a little difficult to tell just who is who. For Israel and Hezbollah the firing may be over, but the battle to consolidate political gains remains. Hezbollah — and by extension its patron Iran — have emerged from the shooting war with burnished “resistance” credentials and improved regional stature. Given the U.N.’s sordid record in Lebanon and the longstanding Lebanese preference for political consensus over confrontation, it seems unlikely that these battlefield gains will be reversed.
But the big winner so far has been Syria. Internationally isolated since the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafiq Hariri, the fighting in Lebanon has brought Syria back as a regional player: Spain and Germany dispatched their foreign ministers to Damascus to seek assistance in resolving the crisis, and former U.S. presidents and pundits are clamoring for the U.S. to reengage with the Syrians. Meanwhile, the world seems to have forgotten about the Syrian role in the Hariri killing. Worse, the crisis in Lebanon has weakened the Sinora government — a government that Damascus (and Hezbollah) would like to see fall. Sadly, the vacuum in Lebanon may open the door for a Syrian return.
— David Schenker is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. From 2002 to 2006, he was the Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestinian affairs adviser in the office of the secretary of Defense.
A colleague called this war an “unmitigated disaster” for Israel. Let’s call it a squandered opportunity. This was our shot at decisively trouncing an Iranian division on our border and we blew it.
The upside is Iran’s proxy no longer constitutes the same deterrent against us. We destroyed most of its most dangerous missiles. We demonstrated we weren’t afraid to subject our population to bombardment and that barrages of over a hundred missiles a day only caused our public to say “fight harder!”
Another byproduct is what was supposed to have been a Palestinian struggle against occupation has been revealed for what it really is: an Israeli struggle for existence against the same axis of evil that is threatening the rest of the free world. This should have been clear since 9/11; now it is undeniable.
We are calling this a war, but it was a battle against the wider jihad led by Iran. How we are doing depends on whether the West reacts to the double wake up call from the London bombing plot and the Hezbollah-Israel battle by substantially stepping up the seriousness of its confrontation of Iran.
— Saul Singer is editorial-page editor of the Jerusalem Post and author of Confronting Jihad: Israel’s Struggle and the World After 9/11.
الجمعية الوطنية القبطية
National American Coptic Assembly
Mr. Morris Sadek-ESQ President
Islamic Extremists are taking over the Egyptian Army
The National American Coptic Assembly condemns the assassination of Hany Sarofeem. Hany Sarofeem Nasralla is one of many Coptic soldiers who serve in the Egyptian Army. Mr Sarofeem is serving in upper Egypt region , Aswan, unit number 2152.This killing has occurred after Mr. Sarofeem has rejected his commander’s offer to convert to Islam. This incident is deemed to be a wake up call to display the amount of suffering that Copts endure during their military service in the Egyptian Army. The National American Coptic Assembly calls for an immediate investigation of the incident and punishment of all the predators in this ruthless crime. The Coptic Egyptians have suffered many acts of discrimination and prosecution by the Egyptian government. Copts are considered the biggest minority in the Middle East.
The somber dream of a garrison state
By Michael Young
Daily Star staff
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Near the end of his speech on Monday, Hizbullah's secretary general, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, began sounding, ominously, like a president. I say ominously, because Nasrallah has not been elected president, though the current tenant of that office does make us pine for better. In outlining his vision of a stronger state, the Hizbullah leader plainly implied he intended to help reshape that state, and how else would he do so except by bending it around his own party's priorities?
On the same day there was an intriguing headline in the new daily newspaper Al-Akhbar, which, once you've worked out the intricacies of its financing and the identity of its journalists, mainly situates itself in the March 8 camp, close to Hizbullah, with some splashes of Aounism. The headline read: "A Government of National Unity, to Prevent 'Faulty Calculations.'" Given that the story cut to the national unity government idea editorially, without it being based on a specific news item or quote, it seemed more a warning than anything else.
Then on Tuesday we heard Bashar Assad effectively call for a coup d'etat against the March 14 majority. The Syrian president declared that Hizbullah should transform its military "victory" in the South into a political victory in Beirut, and accused March 14 of being the intended beneficiaries of Israel's onslaught. The Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, sensing a Syrian effort to re-impose its control over Lebanon, will hold a press conference this morning to start mobilizing the majority, which has seemed extraordinarily faint-hearted in recent weeks.
Yet March 14 should profit from Hizbullah's constraints. Unless implementation of Resolution 1701 fails and the war resumes, in the foreseeable future Hizbullah will be cut off from its vital space in South Lebanon. This doesn't mean the party intends to withdraw its men from the South or crack open its weapons caches to the Lebanese Army and the expanded United Nations force. If anything, Hizbullah seeks to empty the UN resolution of its content. And unless Prime Minister Fouad Siniora takes a firmer position in favor of a complete demilitarization of the area south of the Litani River, he risks losing his credibility at the Security Council. But there is a good possibility that one thing will change in the short term, namely Hizbullah's ability to raise and lower the temperature in the border area. Nasrallah may be declaring victory, but with hundreds of thousands of his coreligionists rebuilding their homes and lives, Hizbullah's latitude to fire at Israel, and to do so amid a UN force reflecting an international consensus, will be relatively small.
This raises the question of whether Nasrallah will compensate by turning his attention to the domestic front. If the secretary general is so keen to build up a strong Lebanese state, presumably he intends to contribute to that effort from a position of authority. So, is Nasrallah on the verge of taking that authority, flush from his tactical triumphs in the South and motivated by an understandable desire to draw attention away from the devastation inflicted on the Shiite community since July 12?
If the answer is yes, then we must consider the mechanism of a sudden accumulation of greater power. This brings us back to a government of national unity. For some time, the Aounists have regretted their decision to be an opposition party in Parliament, without power. But what they have regretted more is that Hizbullah has done nothing at all to bring them into the Siniora Cabinet. Now this may change. If there is anything explaining Michel Aoun's fresh rabidness against the government (in an Al-Akhbar interview, no less), it is that he feels, apparently like Assad, that the time is ripe to do away with the present government majority.
Nasrallah may soon agree, insisting that Hizbullah, along with the Aounists and other groups in the country, particularly those close to Syria, are entitled to more ministerial portfolios. He could justify this on the grounds that Lebanon's reconstruction demands national concord. Would Nasrallah succeed? Maybe not, because Parliament would still need to vote confidence in a new government, and the March 14 majority does not want to lose its dominance. But the pressure could mount, so that the fallback position would be to grant Hizbullah and the Aounists a third of Cabinet seats plus one, allowing them to block votes on major policy. Lurking over this would be Hizbullah's militants, angry with the majority and eager to build up a system defending the "resistance option."
That's, of course, just one scenario. There are those who will argue that Nasrallah is more cornered than his coolness suggests. He may have declared a historic victory, but Lebanon has already started focusing on the price of that victory, whether in monetary terms or in terms of unemployment, emigration, opportunity costs, investor confidence, and much else. Nasrallah's supporters might buy into his rhetoric, but businessmen won't. With a debt of some $40 billion and losses estimated at between $6 billion and $10 billion, for a GDP languishing at just above $20 billion, the shadow of a general economic collapse remains near.
Shiites would suffer as much as anyone else from such a calamity - probably worse given their current vulnerabilities. And the reality is that when international donors or investors look to Lebanon, they don't feel particularly comfortable with a political and paramilitary organization that announces its passion for martyrdom; they look to those people that Nasrallah has criticized for failing to adequately defend his choices: Siniora and the bland technocrats of the Hariri-led reconstruction era. Whatever Nasrallah and Aoun think of this reality, neither man has the credibility to put Lebanon on even a tolerable economic footing.
So, what did Nasrallah mean by a strong state? You have to imagine that he was in part thinking of his "defensive plan," whereby Lebanon would essentially ask Hizbullah to be a vanguard in facing down permanent Israeli threats. But since that plan has gone nowhere, since it effectively brought Israel back into Lebanon, Hizbullah must have a newer version in hand. But would the Lebanese go along with seeing their languid Mediterranean playground transformed into a somber garrison state?
That's where Nasrallah must be more amenable to the odd psychology of Lebanese society, all compromises and consensus and winks and nods. The Hizbullah leader is no aficionado of this. As he remarked at a May 2003 rally, Lebanon needed "great men and great leaders, not leaders of alleyways, of confessional groups, of districts." But that's who Nasrallah will have to deal with if he decides to transform the state into something stronger, and he'll have to accept that many of his countrymen don't want a stronger state if it means living in a gigantic Hizbullah barracks.
It is doubtless time for everyone to be modest, both Nasrallah and his March 14 rivals. Lebanon will fall back into civil war before it accepts the hegemony of one side over the other, before one side imposes its version of the state over that of the others. One truth stands out, though: Lebanon can no longer afford to be a playground for proxy wars, since what will emerge is not a stronger state, but no state at all.
**Michael Young is opinion editor of THE DAILY STAR.