August 26/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 23,1-12. Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens (hard to carry) and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.' As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.' You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.  Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

The Coming Change in Iraq.By: Raghida Dergham. August 25/07
Iran has missed a golden opportunity to gain in Iraq.By David Ignatius.August 25/07
America's armchair generals get another reality check in Iraq.The Daily Star.August 25/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for August 25/07
Cousseran Ends Beirut Mission, No Progress-Naharnet
Army Resumes Nahr al-Bared Battle
Army Releases Families of Fatah al-Islam Terrorists
Tueni Rejects Constitutional Amendment, Military Rule
Saudi envoy quits Lebanon amid attack warnings.Africasia
Livni praises UNSC extension of peacekeepers' mandate in s. Lebanon.Jerusalem Post

Report: Hezbollah to move its Beirut HQ to a secret location.Ha'aretz
Hezbollah Exhibits 'Victory' Over Israel.Guardian Unlimited
US criticism draws a blunt Iraqi retort.Los Angeles Times
Security Council votes to keep UN force in Lebanon and calls for (Pressemitteilung)
Cousseran holds 'useful' talks with Aoun, Gemayel-Daily Star
Army evacuates militants' families from Nahr al-Bared-Daily Star
UAE to provide housing for displaced of Nahr al-Bared-Daily Star
Fadlallah accuses US of interfering in presidential polls-Daily Star
Berri-Jumblatt diatribe dominates political scene-Daily Star
Italian deputy foreign minister to visit Lebanon-Daily Star
Security forces hunt Baalbek car robbers-Daily Star
Under half of Lebanon's nurses feel accountable to patients-Daily Star
War damaged 90 percent of South's vegetation - report-Daily Star
4 youngsters injured in explosion of old shell-Daily Star
Suffering in the dark: abused women have few places to turn in Lebanon-Daily Star
EDL announces further power cuts due to breakdown-Daily Star
Bush faces pressure on Iraq as Maliki Cabinet crumbles-Daily Star
Iran closes barber shops offering Western hairstyles.(AFP)
Sudan expels Western diplomats for 'interfering in its affairs'
-Daily Star

Saudi envoy quits Lebanon amid attack warnings
25/08/2007 09:48 BEIRUT, Aug 25 (AFP)
The ambassador of Saudi Arabia, a leading supporter of Lebanon's beleaguered Western-backed government, has left Beirut in the face of attack warnings, a senior Lebanese official said on Saturday. Abdel Aziz Khoja left on August 17 after the embassy formally notified the Lebanese foreign ministry of a "threat of attack against the ambassador's residence, the embassy or other Saudi interests in Lebanon," the official said. The Saudi embassy declined all comment but Khoja told the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat daily that "there were threats against Saudi embassy and against my person."The ambassador had already been threatened four or five times in the past, the London-based paper added. Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is a key financier of Lebanon and a staunch backer of the government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora. Khoja had been involved in efforts to broker an end to the rift with pro-Syrian factions that has paralysed Siniora's legislative agenda. Early last week, he held talks with the pro-Syrian speaker of parliament, Nabih Berri, who has refused to recognize the Siniora government's legitimacy since six pro-Syrian ministers quit last November. Lebanon has been hit by a wave of attacks in recent years targeting anti-Syrian politicians, most infamously the 2005 murder of five-time prime minister Rafiq Hariri, a billionaire businessman who held joint Lebanese and Saudi citizenship.
©2007 AFP

Security Council votes to keep U.N. force in Lebanon and calls for solution to Israel-Hezbollah war
2007-08-24 20:49:54 -
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The Security Council voted unanimously Friday to keep the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon for another year, praising its help in creating «a new strategic environment» in the south but urging stepped up efforts to find a long-term solution to last summer's Israel-Hezbollah war.
The 13,600-strong U.N. force known as UNIFIL was deployed along Lebanon's border with Israel after the war to help 15,000 Lebanese troops extend their authority into the south for the first time in decades and create a buffer zone free of Hezbollah fighters.
While the resolution adopted by the council on Friday commends UNIFIL for helping Lebanese troops «to establish a new strategic environment in southern Lebanon,» it also emphasized the need for further coordination to establish «an area free of any unauthorized armed personnel, assets and weapons.
The council also emphasized the need for «greater progress» from the parties in achieving a permanent cease-fire and long-term solution to the 34-day conflict in 2006 which killed more than 1,000 people in Lebanon and 159 people on the Israeli side. Members reiterated their intention to consider further unspecified steps to achieve a cease-fire and solution.
The resolution calls on all parties to respect the cessation of hostilities and the U.N.-drawn Blue Line boundary between Israel and Lebanon. The language was softened from an «appeal» to a «call» in the final text. France's deputy U.N. ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix, whose country sponsored the resolution, said the council's unanimous vote is «a recognition that UNIFIL's work is essential to stability in southern Lebanon. The resolution also «sends a message that «there is still a lot to do to achieve lasting stabilization in Lebanon,» he said.
The current mandate of the force _ comprising 11,428 ground troops, 2,000 maritime personnel, 185 staff officers and 20 local staffers _ expires Aug. 31. Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Saniora sent a letter asking the council to renew the mandate for a year and the resolution extends it until Aug. 31, 2008.
While the resolution was mainly technical, the United States used its adoption to criticize Syria and Iran for continuing to send weapons across the border to Hezbollah in violation of an arms embargo imposed by the council in the resolution that ended last year's war.
Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador Igor Shcherbak objected, saying the question of weapons smuggling does not relate to the resolution. South Africa's U.N. Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo also criticized the inclusion of «unrelated sensitive issues» in a technical resolution.
Israel's U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman welcomed the resolution and UNIFIL's continued presence in the south as «a very positive aspect both for Lebanon and for Israel.» Lebanon's U.N. envoy chose not to speak to the council or to reporters. Gillerman expressed concern, however, that three major elements in the U.N. resolution that ended the war remain unresolved _ the fate of two Israeli soldiers whose kidnapping sparked the conflict, the continuing flow of arms into Lebanon, and the continued presence of Hezbollah fighters in the south who have not been disarmed. «We urge the international community not to be satisfied just with the technical extension of the UNIFIL mandate, but to see to it that those very, very crucial points that endanger not just Israel but the safety, freedom and democracy of Lebanon are resolved as quickly as possible,» Gillerman said.
U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said a June 24 bomb that killed six UNIFIL soldiers from Spain and the June 17 rocket attack against Israel «demonstrate that there are unauthorized armed elements and weapons in south Lebanon, and that they pose a danger both to regional stability and to the safety of U.N. personnel.
He expressed «deep concern about illegal weapons transfers across the Syrian-Lebanese border» and urged Iran and Syria to honor the arms embargo.
Wolff also urged U.N. and Lebanese troops to establish joint patrols to prevent weapons smuggling and called for full implementation of a September 2004 resolution demanding that all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias be disbanded and disarmed. «Peace will never be secured until this call is met,» he said.
Earlier this month, the Security Council expressed «grave concern» at reports of arms smuggling to Lebanon, but dropped a direct call to Syria and Iran to enforce a U.N. arms embargo. Instead, a council statement underscored the obligation of all countries, «in particular in the region,» to ensure that the embargo is not violated.
The council statement also expressed concern at allegations that Lebanese and other groups and militias are rearming, and voiced «deep concern» about recent statements by Hezbollah «that it retains the military capacity to strike all parts of Israel.

Cousseran Ends Beirut Mission, No Progress
A French envoy ended a visit to Beirut on Saturday without any sign of progress towards defusing the nine-month political standoff that threatens to scuttle a looming presidential ballot in Lebanon."I urged all the parties about the need for the presidential election to take place within the timeframe set by the constitution," diplomat Jean-Claude Cousseran told reporters before leaving Beirut after a three-day visit.He added that a new date will be set "very soon" for French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to return to Lebanon. Kouchner traveled to Beirut at the end of July as part of France's efforts to end a crisis which has blocked Lebanese institutions since 2006, but his visit produced no concrete results. The resignation last November of six pro-Syrian ministers, five of them Shiites, sparked the current political standoff, the country's worst since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war. The Shiite militant group Hizbullah, bolstered by what it called its victory during last year's 34-day war with Israel, is pushing for the opposition to be better represented in government in order to give it veto power. But the majority insists that this can only happen if Hizbullah agrees to stop blocking parliamentary sessions in order to ensure the quorum needed for the presidential election. Failure by the parties to resolve their differences in the coming weeks could spark a dangerous power vacuum.(AFP) Beirut, 25 Aug 07, 16:13

Army Releases Families of Fatah al-Islam Terrorists

The wives and children of Fatah al-Islam militants holed up in the northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared were released by the army after questioning them following their evacuation, a mediator said Saturday. "The process of turning over the 63 women and children to their families began overnight," Sheikh Mohammed Hajj, spokesman for a group of Palestinian clerics who acted as go-betweens, said. Some of the women and children went to two Palestinian refugee camps -- Beddawi, which is close to the main northern city of Tripoli, and Ain al-Helweh in south Lebanon, he said. About 25 or 30 of them who are Syrian or Syrian-Palestinian were meanwhile headed to Syria, Hajj added. Among them are the wife and children of Fatah al-Islam chief Shaker al-Abssi, he added. The families evacuated on Friday were the last civilians remaining in the bombed-out Nahr al-Bared camp, opening the way for a final assault by the army on the remaining Al-Qaida-inspired militants. Early Saturday, military helicopters carried out three raids on the camp, which has mostly been reduced to rubble since the standoff between the army and the Islamists began on May 20. The remaining militants, thought to number about 70, have been besieged for the past two months in a small area in the south of the camp, hiding in well equipped underground shelters, according to the army. The advance of troops has been hampered by the camp's winding streets and booby traps and mines planted by the militants. At least 200 people, including 142 soldiers, have been killed in the fighting, Lebanon's deadliest internal unrest since the 1975-1990 civil war. The vast majority of Nahr al-Bared's 30,000 residents fled after the battle broke out..(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 24 Aug 07, 19:17

Army Resumes Nahr al-Bared Battle

The Lebanese army resumed its air raids and shelling of militants holed up at Nahr al-Bared on Saturday after evacuating the last remaining civilians from the battered refugee camp. Helicopters carried out repeated raids dropping 250- and 400-kilogram bombs on the small area still controlled by the Al-Qaida-inspired Fatah al-Islam militants while tanks shelled the camp. "Pressure on the militants will be maintained until they heed our call to surrender," an army spokesman said.
He said information gathered from the 63 women and children who were evacuated from the camp on Friday could help the army in its final assault on the militants.
The group of civilians, including the wife and children of Fatah al-Islam chief Shaker al-Abssi, were turned over to their families overnight after questioning by the army, a cleric told AFP. "The process of turning over the group of 63 women and children to their families began overnight," Sheikh Mohammed Hajj, spokesman for a group of Palestinian clerics who acted as go-betweens, said. Two of the children evacuated were hospitalized after leaving the camp and three women were injured, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.(AFP) Beirut, 25 Aug 07, 16:08

Tueni Rejects Constitutional Amendment, Military Rule
MP Ghassan Tueni rejected Saturday any constitutional amendment to elect a new president saying a vacuum in the president's office could produce a "new rule."
Tueni, in a lengthy dialogue with Voice of Lebanon Radio, also said he was against convening a Parliamentary session to elect a new head of state with less than a two-third quorum.Syria, according to Tueni, is "determined to prevent" the international tribunal from condemning it in the 2005 assassination of ex-premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes. He expected more assassinations and bombings in Lebanon, stressing that "Syria cannot remain a trouble-distributing pit … No state managed to proceed with this role."Tueni said religious leaders cannot rule Lebanon, stressing that "I do not welcome a military" person in the president's office.
"The history of military rule in the Arab World is not encouraging," Tueni noted. The escalation of verbal campaigns reflects a desire to "bargain with the aim of reaching a compromise," Tueni said. The Lebanese "are not stupid and will not commit suicide," he said in answering a question as to whether civil war was possible.
The meeting of Christian leaders of the March 14 coalition at the residence of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea was a "normal response to charges that March 14 Christians are in the laps of MPs Saad Hariri or Walid Jumblat," Tueni noted. Beirut, 25 Aug 07, 14:37

Berri-Jumblatt diatribe dominates political scene
Politicians slam Chouf MP for attacks on speaker

By Mirella Hodeib
Daily Star staff
Saturday, August 25, 2007
BEIRUT: The upcoming presidential poll, in addition to recent accusations traded between Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and head of the Democratic Gathering MP Walid Jumblatt, dominated political talks Friday. Publisher of An-Nahar newspaper and MP Ghassan Tueni said Friday the presidential election was going to take place within constitutional deadlines, adding that French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was likely to return to Beirut "real soon."
"France is doing its best to help Lebanon find a solution to the continuing political impasse in Lebanon, and the international community has shown a real determination to have the crisis solved," he said, following a meeting Berri in Ain al-Tineh.
Tueni said the Lebanese should not fear the "highly tense" rhetoric on the Lebanese political scene, "because I am sure none of the conflicting groups is willing to draw Lebanon into a state of chaos."
Tueni was referring to criticism traded by Berri and Jumblatt on Thursday. Jumblatt accused Berri of becoming "a mere mailbox," through his association with Hizbullah. Berri on the other hand accused Jumblatt of jeopardizing "any attempts to solve the nine-month-old impasse in Lebanon."
Jumblatt's criticism of Berri drew angry responses Friday, with former Premier Salim al-Hoss describing his remarks as "unwarranted, especially that they were made against Speaker Berri who is known to be one of the few who still care about the welfare our country."
"Extremely harsh and unfounded comments targeted at the speaker Thursday, only aim to hold back a crucial event in the Lebanon's like the imminent presidential polls," Hoss said.
Hizbullah also lashed out at statements made by Jumblatt, saying that his "attack on remarkable figures such as Speaker Berri will not make him in any way remarkable," adding: "Speaker Berri is one of the founders of the resistance movement in Lebanon and it is us [Hizbullah] who seek his wise opinion at all times."
Vice president of the Higher Shiite Council Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan urged Berri not to comment on statements made by "ignorant" people, saying: "Leave them to their nonsensical babble."The Central News Agency (CNA) reported Friday that Berri has not given up on the initiative he is expected to launch to solve the impasse. CNA added that Berri is expected to visit Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir on the fifth of September to start preparations for the looming presidential poll.
Meanwhile, the urgency of the presidential issue has also led Sfeir to reschedule his visit to the Vatican, where he is expected to head to the capital of Catholicism on August 28 rather than September 05. On Friday, Berri met with departing Egyptian Ambassador Hussein Darar, who reiterated that only consensus was likely to solve the crisis in Lebanon. Darar revealed that he paid a farewell visit to Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, adding that the visit "was a very positive one."
Nasrallah "expressed very wise stands showing he is very much aware of all the dangers threatening Lebanon," he said.
Seconding Darar's stand, Hizbullah MP Mohammad Raad said "consensus as well as true partnership" were the "only solutions to the deadlock."

Hezbollah is to move its central HQ in the Shi'ite Dahiya quarter of south Beirut to a secret location elsewhere in Lebanon,
London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Friday.
All of the guerilla organization's offices, including its "security compound" are to be relocated.
During the Second Lebanon War last summer the Israel Air Force bombed the Dahiya neighborhood in an attempt to destroy the Hezbollah command center.
Asharq Al-Awsat said Hezbollah plans on turning the area occupied currently by their headquarters into a public park.
The whole Dahiya quarter has of late been undergoing extensive renovation, however, Hezbollah has imposed a blackout on news of the exact work being done there.
According to the newspaper report, the relocation will be completed by "the first day of 2009," some two and a half years after the Second Lebanon War.
The offices where Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah receives visitors will also be moved. Nasrallah himself will relocate to a place only known to those responsible for his personal security.

Report: Hezbollah to move its Beirut HQ to a secret location
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
Fadlallah accuses US of interfering in presidential polls
Daily Star staff
Saturday, August 25, 2007
BEIRUT: Senior Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah accused the US Friday of interfering in choosing Lebanon's next president, "so as to preserve its own interests in Lebanon." "It is funny how some politicians still boast about Lebanon's freedom and independence, and talk about rejecting foreign hegemony, when it is clear that the US interferes in all aspects of Lebanese political life," Fadlallah said during the weekly Friday sermon at the Imam Hassanayn Mosque in Haret Hreik.
He added that all large-scale meetings which took place during the last week to discuss the presidential issue and to stress the importance of having a "made in Lebanon" presidential poll "do not conceal the fact that a number of foreign factors contribute in choosing Lebanon's next president."
Fadlallah was referring to the meeting of Christians from the March 14 Forces in the residence of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea in Maarab last week, and another meeting of Christian figures from the opposition at the residence of Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun in Rabieh. Both meetings, held last week, were aimed at discussing the imminent presidential election. Fadlallah said Lebanon's next president ought to represent all Lebanese sects, "and not just the Maronite sect." "The Maronite identity of the president does in no way imply that other sects refrain from contributing in the choice of our next president," he added.
Fadlallah said that all the problems Lebanon has long suffered from are due "to its deep-rooted sectarian makeup."
"Lebanon's shaky state on the political as well as economic and security levels, in addition to the incessant interference of foreign forces in Lebanese domestic issues are all due to Lebanon's sectarian composition," he said. Fadlallah added it was "high time" Lebanon shifts from being a "sectarian entity to being a country where the high principles of citizenship prevail." "It is known that true citizenship renders both the regime and the political makeup of a country much more human," he said. - The Daily Star