DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 6,17-29. Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias's own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you." He even swore (many things) to her, "I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the Baptist." The girl hurried back to the king's presence and made her request, "I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist." The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
Will Sarkozy Get a Syrian Response?By: Elias Harfouch. August 29/07
It is in Israel's interests to make concessions now for the sake of peace. The Daily Star. August 29/07
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources
for August 29/07
Lebanon slams rights report on Hezbollah war with Israel.Africasia
Sfeir Warns of 'Disaster' if Presidential Elections Were Boycotted-Naharnet
Hamadeh Brands Hizbullah Phone Networking 'State Violation'-Naharnet
Cabinet Considers Severing Hizbullah Network Connections That Have Reached Beirut-Naharnet
Saudi Bans al-Hayat Newspaper-Naharnet
Crossfire War - Iran - Smuggled 40 Tons of Weapons to Hamas ...NewsBlaze
Barak: Hezbollah has 20000 rockets, more than before war.Ha'aretz
Crossfire War - Missiles for Hezbollah Unloaded At Syrian Port.NewsBlaze-Daily Star
Germany's development minister visits Syria.International Herald Tribune-Daily Star
China, not the US, poses the greatest threat to Russia.By Andrei Piontkovsky-Daily Star
Syria Hysteria [Greg]Atlantic Online
Sfeir warns against moves that could divide Lebanon-Daily Star
Shiite council VP appeals for 'partnership scenarios-Daily Star'
Italy's defense minister visits UNIFIL troops-Daily Star
Government sets sights on Hizbullah phone network-Daily Star
Sabaa exempts journalists from municipal charges-Daily Star
Liban Lait workers committee demands compensation-Daily Star
Electrical fire breaks out at Gemmayzeh's Cloud 9-Daily Star
Authorities discover body of murder victim-Daily Star
Berri denounces threats against UAE ambassador-Daily Star
German aid helps provide for Nahr al-Bared refugees-Daily Star
Moussa decries threats against ambassadors-Daily Star
Nahr al-Bared battle passes 100th day as army continues assault-Daily Star
Consensus democracy is an inherent part of the spirit of the Lebanese Constitution-Daily Star
Summer retreat offers youth skills to foster social change, peace-Daily Star
Three generations of boys, guns and ants.By Jim Quilty-Daily Star
Sfeir warns against moves that could
If MPs violate constitution, 'we would get two presidents, two governments'
By Hani M. Bathish -Daily Star staff
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir warned on Tuesday against electing Lebanon's next president with a simple majority of half-plus-one of MPs in the first electoral session, saying such a move risks splitting the country in half. Sfeir said he accepts the idea of amending the Constitution if it is in the national interest to elect an individual to the presidency "in whose hands lies the salvation of the country." "There are those who talk of boycotting presidential elections, this is unfair and disastrous for the country," Sfeir said from Diman on Tuesday. "Elections must proceed in accordance with the Constitution, with two thirds of MPs in the first session, and after that maybe with half-plus-one of MPs," Sfeir added. He said if from the first electoral session a simple majority is adopted to elect a president the other side could claim this to be a violation of the Constitution which would prompt them to respond similarly.
"Thus we would get two presidents, two governments, two Lebanons and so on, which would be ruinous for the country as a whole," Sfeir said.
Sfeir said that in Lebanon a constitutional amendment occurs at every juncture, a harmful process, adding that only the national interest should warrant an amendment.
"Lately some said that maybe the army commander would want to be president if everyone agreed to his candidacy, which would require an amendment. We said if the salvation of the country lies with a certain individual, then the Constitution can be amended to save the country," he said.
He reiterated that a president should be at equal distance from all political parties, to have experience in political matters and not take orders from anyone but take decisions on his own.
President Emile Lahoud said Tuesday that a president should have the support and backing of most of the Lebanese and should be elected in accordance with the Constitution. He also insisted that a quorum of two thirds is required in the first electoral session of Parliament. Lahoud said he would hand over power to a person who would protect and preserve principles that consolidate national unity and prevent Lebanon from teetering on the verge of chaos.
Justice Minister Charles Rizk said that no candidate supported by one group, or by one bloc and not the other will have a chance to be elected president. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Rizk said the presidency is not a prize to be won "nor a piece of cheese for those with big appetites."
Rizk said the presidency is a series of tough hurdles and challenges that only someone who has proved himself capable of facing may assume. He added that the UN tribunal for Lebanon to try suspects in the slaying of former Premier Rafik Hariri is the first challenge facing any new president.
He said the second pressing issue for a president would be security and finding a solution to the weapons of the resistance by creating a Lebanese fighting force that would incorporate the resistance within its ranks, benefiting from its abilities and experience in fighting Israel.
Rizk said the third pressing issue would be to restore harmony among the Lebanese and build national unity through stimulating political life and re-evaluating the electoral law so that it meets the challenges of the age.
Speaker Nabih Berri is waiting for a response from the US administration over a number of questions he put to them through their ambassador concerning the presidential elections, the US position over a consensus candidate and their ideas on a possible solution. In light of these answers, the speaker could present new ideas for a solution to the current political impasse during a speech Friday, sources close to Berri told The Daily Star on Tuesday.
Arafat Hijazi, Berri's media adviser, said the speaker is waiting to hear from US Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffery Feltman, who recently returned to Lebanon, but no meeting has been arranged. Media reports said the meeting would take place in the next 48 hours.
Berri is due to speak Friday afternoon in Baalbek to mark the 30th anniversary of the disappearance of Shiite leader Moussa al-Sadr.
Although Feltman did not meet with Berri on Tuesday, he met with Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh and Defense Minister Elias Murr.
Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Sergey Bukin discussed the upcoming presidential elections with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora at the Grand Serail on Tuesday, reaffirming Russia's support for a return of political stability to the country. "We hope presidential elections will be held within the constitutional timeframe and in accordance with the Lebanese Constitution," Bukin told reporters after the meeting. Bukin said the political wisdom of the Lebanese and their capacity to overcome more difficult situations leads Russia to be optimistic. Siniora later met UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Gier Pedersen with whom he discussed the latest developments. Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani called upon Arab and friendly countries Tuesday to continue their endeavors to find a solution to the political crisis and urged all those concerned with the presidential elections to hold them on time. "It is not right to hinder presidential elections, Lebanon must not be faced with a [presidential] vacuum which could plunge the country into chaos and ruin," Qabbani said.
He also called for dialogue over the fate of the country that would be a means to settle unresolved issues used by some as an excuse to destabilize the country.
"What we see in Lebanon, from offensive language, to threats and accusations, is dangerous and risks the security and stability of Lebanon," Qabbani said, warning of the dangers of internal division and talk of separatism, adding that such would be disastrous for Lebanon.
Senior Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah said that Lebanon has become a regional and international arena of conflict, adding that the country is being used as a chess board in these conflicts. Fadlallah, who met Belgian Ambassador to Lebanon Stephane De Loecker Tuesday, allayed certain fears by stressing that the Shiite community does not plan to set up a separate entity from other sects in Lebanon.
He said the Shiite community believes in Lebanon as a final homeland and works to protect it, while at the same time having friendly relations with certain Arab and Muslim countries. "However, [the Shiites] refuse to be ruled by any of these countries, as we refuse subservience or submission to any regional or international axis," Fadlallah said.
Sfeir Warns of 'Disaster' if
Presidential Elections Were Boycotted
Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir warned of a "disaster" if upcoming presidential elections were boycotted, saying such a move would produce "two presidents, two governments and two Lebanons." "…There are those who talk about boycotting the presidential elections. This is something unfair and ruinous for the country," Sfeir told reporters on Tuesday. He stressed that presidential elections should go on in accordance with the constitution, starting with a two-thirds simply majority vote "and then maybe" with half-plus-one of the members of parliament. "But if a half-plus-one (vote) was adopted in the first electoral session, this is very dangerous," Sfeir cautioned. "Because the other camp could claim this to be a violation of the Constitution which would prompt them to respond similarly."
"As a result we would get two presidents, two governments, two Lebanons and so on, and this would be ruinous for the country as a whole," Sfeir said.
The Patriarch reiterated that he was against constitutional amendments unless they are introduced to serve national interest, adding that a constitutional amendment in Lebanon takes place at every juncture "and this is bad." "Some came to say that maybe if there were consensus over the army commander then he would become a President which would require an amendment," Sfeir went on.
"We said if the salvation of the country lies with a certain individual, then the constitution can be amended to rescue the country and not for a personal interest," he emphasized. Beirut, 29 Aug 07, 07:04
Cabinet Considers Severing Hizbullah Network Connections That Have Reached Beirut
Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government was considering severing private Hizbullah phone network connections that had started out in south Lebanon and ended up in Beirut and its suburbs. "We agreed to draw a plan of action for a peaceful resolution of this issue, but we are serious about resolving it because it is a dangerous matter," Information Minister Ghazi Aridi told reporters after a lengthy cabinet session on Monday.
Aridi said the government formed a committee to draft a report on recent information that Hizbullah had installed its own communication infrastructure south Lebanon.
He said initial reports has shown that the Hizbullah networks "went beyond (the southern village of) Zawtar Sharqiyeh … to reach Beirut and the suburbs of Beirut which are outside the security areas of the leadership of the resistance." Aridi said the government was "determined to protect the Resistance (Hizbullah) and the symbols of the resistance from the Israeli enemy but the information that we gathered do not follow this logic." He did not give further details.
The daily An Nahar, however, citing cabinet sources, said Tuesday that a report prepared by a ministerial committee confirmed that Hizbullah had privately installed phone netwworks that have reached Dahiyeh, or the southern suburbs, as well as the Ring and Riad Solh districts in downtown Beirut.
The sources said the cabinet instructed Lebanese security forces to perform a "specific task" under which "appropriate measures" would be taken to deal with Hizbullah's move. They said the cabinet was considering authorizing a "security and technical team" to sever the phone network connections.
Saniora was quoted by a source as responding to Hizbullah's act, which was considered a violation to Lebanon's sovereignty, by sarcastically saying: "All we need is (Hizbullah) to ask a musician to compose a new national anthem." The issue of the death threats directed at the Saudi and United Arab Emirates ambassadors to Lebanon was also discussed during the five-hour cabinet meeting that ended late Monday.
An Nahar said that according to information obtained by the government, a third unidentified European ambassador has also received death threats in addition to a number of journalists via the Internet. Cabinet members also tackled the issue of the Fatah al-Islam "terrorist network" and outcome of the investigation with Islamists of the al-Qaida inspired group who are in Lebanese custody. Aridi said Lebanon has tightened security following these threats.
"Security measures have been increased ... and all the security agencies are on alert ... particularly after the latest threats," Aridi said. He said recent arrests of suspects in Lebanon "have helped the army and the internal security forces prevent dangerous acts by groups in several areas" across the country. Saudi Ambassador Abdel Aziz Khoja, whose country is a leading supporter of Lebanon's beleaguered government, left Beirut on August 17 in the face of attack warnings, a senior Lebanese official said on Saturday. The Saudi embassy declined all comment but Khoja told the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat daily on Saturday that "there were threats against the Saudi embassy and against my person."
Oil-rich Saudi Arabia and the UAE are key financiers of Lebanon and staunch backers of the Saniora government. Khoja had been involved in efforts to broker an end to the political crisis with pro-Syrian factions that has paralyzed Saniora's legislative agenda. A member of the appointed Saudi Shura (Consultative) Council, Mohammad al-Zulfa, has pointed the finger at Syria, claiming that proxies of Damascus in Lebanon could be behind the alleged threats.
Riyadh and Damascus were recently involved in a tit-for tat tirade.Lebanon has been hit by a wave of attacks in recent years targeting anti-Syrian politicians, most infamously the 2005 murder of five-time premier Rafiq Hariri, a billionaire businessman.(Naharnet-AFP)
Saudi Bans al-Hayat Newspaper
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday banned for a second day the distribution of Al Hayat newspaper in the kingdom due to objections over articles published by the pan-Arab daily, the newspaper's editor said. Ghassan Sharbel told Agence France Presse that Saudi Arabia's information ministry stopped distribution of the newspaper's local edition since Monday, without specifying the offending articles. The London-based newspaper sells around 250,000 copies daily in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
"The Saudi information ministry has a number of objections over articles by a Saudi writer about internal issues," an unnamed source at the newspaper told AFP.
Al Hayat is one of the Arab world's leading newspapers and was set up in Lebanon in 1946.(AFP) Beirut, 28 Aug 07, 15:40
Hamadeh Brands Hizbullah Phone Networking 'State Violation'
Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh on Wednesday slammed Hizbullah for installing a private phone network, branding the move a "state violation."
Hamadeh said that the Hizbullah network, which started out in south Lebanon and ended up in Beirut and its suburbs, "went beyond logic." He criticized Hizbullah's move as a "commercial, security and military project" related to the group's "state within the state." Hamadeh uncovered that Hizbullah's "independent network" is an indication that the group intends to cover two-thirds and three quarters of Lebanon. Beirut, 29 Aug 07, 10:40
Government sets sights on Hizbullah phone network
Cabinet agrees to draw up plan of action to resolve 'dangerous matter'
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
BEIRUT: The government is planning to take action against private communication networks installed by Hizbullah, a Cabinet minister said Monday. "We agreed to draw a plan of action for a peaceful resolution of this issue, but we are serious about resolving it because it is a dangerous matter," Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said after a Cabinet session late Monday. Aridi said the government formed a committee to draft a report on recent information that Hizbullah had installed its own communication infrastructure in the South of the country. He said initial reports have shown that the Hizbullah networks "went beyond [the Southern village of] Zawtar Sharqiyya ... to reach Beirut and the suburbs of Beirut which are outside the security areas of the leadership of the resistance." He said the government was "determined to protect the Resistance [Hizbullah] and the symbols of the resistance from the Israeli enemy but the information that we gathered does not follow this logic." He did not wish to give further details. An-Nahar newspaper said Tuesday that according to sources, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora commented on the issue, saying: "All they [Hizbullah] need now is a composer for a national anthem of their own," said a source.
Hizbullah did not comment on the government's decision. When contacted by The Daily Star, resigned Energy and Water Minister Mohammad Fneish said there is no comment on this matter. The government also decided to intensify security measures following recent threats against the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates."Security measures have been increased ... and all the security agencies are on alert ... especially after the latest threats" against the Saudi and UAE ambassadors, Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said after a Cabinet meeting. Recent arrests of suspects in Lebanon "have helped the army and the internal security forces prevent dangerous acts by groups in several areas" across the country, he said, without giving more details. Saudi Ambassador Abdel-Aziz Khoja, whose country is a leading supporter of Lebanon's beleaguered Western-backed government, left Beirut on August 17 in the face of attack warnings, a senior Lebanese official said on Saturday. The Saudi Embassy declined all comment but Khoja told the Saudi-owned Ash-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper on Saturday that "there were threats against the Saudi Embassy and against my person."
Oil-rich Saudi Arabia and the UAE are key financiers of Lebanon and staunch backers of Siniora's government. Khoja had been involved in efforts to broker an end to the rift with pro-Syrian factions that has paralyzed Siniora's legislative agenda. A member of the appointed Saudi Shura (Consultative) Council, Mohammad al-Zulfa, has pointed the finger at Syria, claiming that proxies of Damascus in Lebanon could be behind the alleged threats.
The Cabinet also accepted the decision made by Acting Foreign Minister Tarek Mitri, regarding the appointments he made to fill vacant administrative and diplomatic positions at the Foreign Ministry. The government's decision was criticized by parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri. Berri was quoted on Tuesday by As-Safir newspaper as saying that Salloukh is still the minister, because the government did not accept his resignation.
Berri said that the government decision is "a new constitutional breach to be added to the series of breaches the present government is committing."
In an interview with the Voice of Lebanon radio, Salloukh said that he shall resume his duties in the ministry and that he had been resuming his duties even upon resignation. He said there are matters that need to be revealed to the public and that he would go over the names and the respective posts, particularly that a wide sect has not been given its right in [Mitri's] appointments.When Mitri was asked to comment on Salloukh's statement, he said: "I did not listen to Salloukh's statement yet and I hope this does not turn into another conflict, as the Foreign Ministry is in no need of additional complications or divisions."The Cabinet also discussed the security situation in Nahr al-Bared, presented by head of the Internal Security Forces Brigadier Ashraf Rifi and director of intelligence of the Lebanese Army Major General George Khoury. The Cabinet also approved the decision that Lebanon contribute the sum of $5 million to the Justice Ministry, in contribution to the international investigating committee assigned to the case of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. - With agencies
Crossfire War - Missiles for Hezbollah Unloaded At Syrian Port
By Willard Payne
Crossfire War - Tehran - Damascus - Beirut Watch - West Asia Theatre: Tehran - Damascus - Beirut - Baghdad - Ankara - Riyadh - Gaza - Ramallah/Jerusalem - Cairo - London - Washington; Iranian Missiles for Hezbollah Unloaded At Syrian Port of Latakia - Lebanon Army Assists Hezbollah Arms Shipments - UN Resolution 1701 "Dead Letter"
Night Watch: LATAKIA - Debka reports Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in his first briefing to the Israel government, has stated Lebanon's army is helping Hezbollah with its arms shipments from Damascus-Tehran, which is in direct, flagrant violation of the United Nations resolution 1701 that ended last summer's war and stated Lebanon's army was to prevent Hezbollah from re-arming. Barak said it makes the resolution in effect a "dead letter" of no value or effect whatsover.
Lebanon's ineffectiveness is an exact reflection of the European units in UNIFIL which have done nothing, nor ever intended, to prevent Hezbollah's re-arming by Damascus-Tehran. UNIFIL knew if they did make an effort to enforce the resolution they would be at war with not only Hezbollah but also with Syria and Iran. [DEBKA] That war was always inevitable since Tehran used last year's war as part of the preparation for this year's much larger regional war. And Tehran had al-Qaeda declare UNIFIL an enemy of Islam as soon as the units arrived.Tehran will use Lebanon as a trap for the European forces in the same way Iran has used Iraq as a trap for the lost alliance of London-Washington still chasing the Jihad around the country. So while Europe pursues its false hope policy, Iranian missiles for Hezbollah are being unloaded at the northern Syrian port of Latakia near Turkey's border. The latest shipments increase by many times the amount of long range missiles and short range rockets Hezbollah had last year. Israel may be forced to use some of its nuclear arsenal.
**Night Watch Information Service
http://www.crossfirewar.com/8/27/2007Copyright © 2007, NewsBlaze, Daily News
Lebanese cabinet considers disabling phone network of Hezbollah
August 28, 2007
Lebanese government was mulling over severing private Hezbollah phone network connections that started in southern Lebanon and ended up in Beirut and its suburbs, local Naharnet news website reported on Tuesday. "We agreed to draw a plan of action for a peaceful resolution of this issue, but we are serious about resolving it because it is a dangerous matter," Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi Aridi was quoted as saying. Aridi said after a lengthy cabinet session on Monday that the government has formed a committee to draft a report on recent information that Hezbollah had installed its own communication infrastructure in southern Lebanon.
He said initial reports have shown that the Hezbollah communication networks "went beyond (the southern village of) Zawtar Sharqiyeh ... to reach Beirut and the suburbs of Beirut which are outside the security areas of the leadership of the resistance (Hezbollah)."Aridi said the government was "determined to protect the resistance and the symbols of the resistance from the Israeli enemy but the information that we gathered do not follow this logic." But he did not give further details.
Meanwhile, the daily An Nahar, citing cabinet sources, said Tuesday that the cabinet had instructed Lebanese security forces to perform a "specific task" under which "appropriate measures" would be taken to deal with Hezbollah's move. The cabinet was considering authorizing a "security and technical team" to sever the phone network connections, according to the report. Source: Xinhua
Officials worried Iran will give their Russian anti-ship missile to terrorists
By Israel Insider staff August 28, 2007
Defense officials have expressed concern about the recent delivery of an advanced Russian-made anti-ship missile to Iran, saying they will likely be transferred to Syria and Hezbollah, the Jerusalem Post reported. If they fall into the hands of Syria and Hezbollah, they will be used against the Israeli navy in a future conflict.
"This is certainly a threat to the Navy," one defense official said. "There is a real fear that if this missile is in Iran it will also be in Syria and Lebanon."
The defense establishment's fears are in part due to the IDF's surprise during the Second Lebanon War last summer at the content of Hezbollah's arsenal. The INS Hanit was struck by a Chinese-made ground-to-sea missile, which was not known to have been in Hizbullah hands. At the time, the IDF suspected Iran had assisted Hezbollah in the attack, in which four sailors died.
Although officials could not confirm that the missile had reached Syria or Hizbullah, the general assumption now is that any weapons system or missile that can be taken apart and fit into a shipping container can easily be smuggled to Hezbollah or Syria.
Meanwhile, Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman said Monday "the Iranian leadership with Ahmadinejad at its helm is temporary."
Lieberman called the Iranian administration "a band of crooks jeopardizing the security of Iran and the entire world," he said. "Instead of investing in the economy, [they] are investing in terror and Hizbullah, and I hope the Iranian people will remember this the next time they line up to vote."
Regarding Iran's nuclear program, Liberman advocated economic sanctions over military action, saying that sanctions have been successful in frustrating such programs in Libya and North Korea.
Fitzgerald: All the victims of Jihad
and Sharia should spend their time making alliances with one another
The main immigration of Lebanese, entirely Christian, arrived here between roughly 1880 and 1940. They came because Western pressure on the Ottoman government, while it led theoretically to a formal improvement in the legal treatment of non-Muslims in the Ottoman domains, in fact caused great unease among Muslims. The massacre of the Maronites in Damascus in 1860 was one such manifestation. Those Lebanese who arrived, whose papers might describe them as "Syrians" or even as "Turcos," were in fact refugees from Islam and the encroachments of Islam, even if they did not talk of it that way, but were simply seen as economic migrants from the Ottoman Empire.
And in recent decades other Christians have arrived from Lebanon, both Maronites (most keenly aware that they are Arabic-using but not Arabs) and the slightly different case of Greek Orthodox Christians. Some of them are more willing to assume that the imposed use of the Arabic language means that they must -- as Muslim Arabs insist -- think of themselves as "Arabs" and, as "Arabs," naturally identify with the chief gift and identifying characteristic of the Arabs, Islam, even if they are not Believers themselves. They must adopt the views and promote the agenda of Muslim Arabs in order to fit in or to be tolerated.
What has happened in recent years should be transparent, but it is not. Muslim Arabs, who have arrived recently (unlike the Lebanese Christians) have cynically attempted to pretend that there is an identity of interests between the descendants of Arabic-speaking Christians who were essentially fleeing from Islam and its inevitable pressures and menaces, and Muslim Arabs. It is as if some unreconstructed group of German Nazis, having made it to America recently, had pretended to make common cause -- that shared "Deutschtum" -- with the descendants of those who had fled the Nazis, both Jewish and non-Jewish Germans.
Those who think of themselves as descendants of those Lebanese Christian refugees should be aware of how these so-called "Arab-American" groups have been infiltrated by, taken over in many places by, those who are really promoting Islam, and whom their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents would have had no trouble in detecting, and denouncing, and shunning. The "Arab-American" identity is not one thing, but is used by Muslims in this country to backdate their arrival, to appropriate the good reputation of those Lebanese immigrants, and to relentlessly promote their own, quite different and sinister objectives. Those objectives have nothing to do with the enthusiastic acceptance of America, and its equal treatment of adherents for all religions, as well as its political and legal institutions, that was offered by Lebanese Christian immigrants.
They should be very careful, not least because of that handful of islamochristians who are willing to promote Islam's agenda, and thus sully the name, even blacken the name, of those who have nothing to do with that agenda, and deplore it. Muslims in this country have been attempting to exploit, for their own purposes, the good reputation, and influence, of those who are described usually as "Lebanese" in origin, a word that covers all those whose Maronite (or other Christian) ancestors fled present-day Lebanon, or Syria, beginning at the end of the 19th century. These people, or their descendants, make up more than 70% of all those described, quite cunningly, as "Arab-Americans" but is, at least in the case of the Maronites, whose existence in Lebanon predates the arrival of the Arab Muslim invaders, a completely misleading description. They may use Arabic, they may have Arabic names (though of course the fashion in recent decades, to demonstrate that non-Arabness, has been French names -- Georges and Philippe and Antoine and Brigitte and so on). They are not Arabs, but rather Arabic-speaking descendants of those who managed to remain Maronites because the mountainous geography of the Lebanon. And proximity to both Byzantium (not fully under Muslim control until the fifteenth century), and to the Western world by sea, prevented the kind of islamization that, for example, Mesopotamia (also a center for Christianity) experienced, with the last indigenous remnants being harassed, persecuted, and murdered in Iraq today.
The falsity of this "Arab-American" identity is being used by Muslims to establish their own bona fides, to take advantage of the good will that accrues to Christians (and therefore Christian refugees, of one sort or another) from the Middle East, and above all, to attempt to swell the numbers and perceived power of those who may mistakenly be assumed by American politicians to be part of some Islamic lobby whose demands must be met -- when in fact these Lebanese, like the Copts with whom they now are making common cause, have nothing to do with, are the first victims of, Islam.
Perceiving the various methods of Islamic propaganda, and attempts to create a factitious connection between the Muslim who arrives from the Middle East, and the Christian (or Jew) who arrives, the latter being victims of Islam -- requires vigilance.
The victims of Islam, in the Middle East itself, as Bat Ye'or has noted, seldom aided one another, so afraid were they of the circumambient Muslims, and so intent on striking their own deals and pleasing their Muslim masters or would-be masters. That phenomenon can be found among some Christians in the Middle East today. Do the Greek Orthodox Arabs sufficiently side with the Maronites? Or for that matter do the Catholic Egyptians stand up for the Copts? And have not the Copts in Egypt helped to prove their "loyalty" by being, at times, as fierce in their demonstrations of antipathy to Israel as any Muslim, in the vain hope that somehow that will improve their own lot in Egypt?
Whatever false stratagems for survival, both understandable and yet deplorable, were employed within the Middle East, they should not be employed in the Infidel lands. There, and especially in the United States, all the victims of Jihad and Sharia should spend their time making alliances with one another, and above all in alerting the naive indigenes about the real nature of Islam -- lest that Islam follow those Maronites, those Copts, those Assyrians, those Jews, those Armenians from Haleb or Beirut -- right to this country, where they had believed they would at last be safe from the persecutions of Islam, the power of Islam, the menace of Islam.
Syria Hysteria [Greg]
28 Aug 2007 08:03 am
Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman recently wrote in the pages of the (pre-Murdoch!) WSJ:
...the Damascus airport is the point of entry into Iraq for most of the suicide bombers who are killing innocent Iraqi citizens and American soldiers, and trying to break America's will in this war. It is therefore time to demand that the Syrian regime stop playing travel agent for al Qaeda in Iraq. When Congress reconvenes next month, we should set aside whatever differences divide us on Iraq and send a clear and unambiguous message to the Syrian regime, as we did last month to the Iranian regime, that the transit of al Qaeda suicide bombers through Syria on their way to Iraq is completely unacceptable, and it must stop.
We in the U.S. government should also begin developing a range of options to consider taking against Damascus International, unless the Syrian government takes appropriate action, and soon. Responsible air carriers should be asked to stop flights into Damascus International, as long as it remains the main terminal of international terror. Despite its use by al Qaeda and Hezbollah terrorists, the airport continues to be serviced by many major non-U.S. carriers, including Alitalia, Air France, and British Airways. Interrupting the flow of foreign fighters would mean countless fewer suicide bombings in Iraq, and countless fewer innocent people murdered by the barbaric enemy we are fighting there.
At a time when the al Qaeda network in Iraq is already under heavy stress thanks to American and Iraqi military operations, closing off the supply line through which al Qaeda in Iraq is armed with its most deadly weapons--suicide bombers--would be devastating to the terrorists' cause. Simply put, for the U.S. and our Iraqi allies, defeating al Qaeda in Iraq means locking shut Syria's "Open Door" policy to terrorists. It is past time for Syria to do so.
Where to begin? Perhaps the recently published NIE, which states:
Syria has cracked down on some Sunni extremist groups attempting to infiltrate fighters into Iraq through Syria because of threats they pose to Syrian stability, but the IC now assesses that Damascus is providing support to non-AQI groups inside Iraq in a bid to increase Syrian influence.
Well of course the Syrians, like the Saudis, Jordanians, Turks, Iranians, and indeed all of Iraq's neighbors, are going to provide support to Iraqi factions they deem friendly to them. But note the NIE, the most authoritative judgment on national security issues produced by the Government, states explicitly that Syria has "cracked down" on Sunni extremists, and is providing support to non-al Qaeda groups.
But what is most fascinating about Lieberman's zealotry is its sheer ignorance, how devoid of any historical context it is. Does he remember Tom Friedman's "Hama Rules", born of the Hama Massacre? Hafez Assad brutally put down a domestic rebellion of the Muslim Brotherhood back in 1982, as the Alawite ruling elite feared the growth of Sunni extremism in their midst. Indeed, the Alawites in Damascus are not fans of Islamic extremists, because said extremists view the Alawites as heretics. So the notion that Bashar Assad plays "travel agent" to al-Qaeda is just laughable. And regardless, if Damascus International were really the Grand Central Station of al-Qaeda for the entire Middle East, per Lieberman's hysterical accounting, the 'blowback' would likely ultimately prove severe, and Assad's regime could well be toppled (in this Lieberman and al-Qaeda may have common cause).
Now, Lieberman is not alone in making these wild claims. We have Michael Gerson waxing rhapsodic about "Syria's Ho Chi Minh Trail of terrorists" and "lower-hanging fruit" (to which George Will recently quipped: "In the other faction, there still are those so impervious to experience that they continue to refer to Syria as "lower-hanging fruit." Such metaphors bewitch minds. Low-hanging fruit is plucked, then eaten. What does one nation do when it plucks another? In Iraq, America is in its fifth year of learning the answer.")
And how can one forget our favorite Rudyard Kipling-lite, Max Boot, who writes in Commentary's blog (deliciously named "Contentions") a post entitled (you guessed it!): "Low-Hanging Fruit", riffing on Gerson's piece in très excité fashion: "One possible idea: Hold Damascus International Airport—the entry point into Iraq for countless Arab radicals from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Algeria—hostage. We could announce that we will use our airpower to shut down the entire facility, Syria’s only international airport, until Bashar Assad cuts off the influx of terrorists into Iraq. This would be a relatively low-risk option from the American viewpoint, but it would impose considerable pain on Syria."
A peachy idea! Save that using airpower against a sovereign nation's airport is an act of war, you know. But, little matter. Gerson, Boot and Lieberman are very, very serious individuals. Much more serious, say, than the members of the Iraq Study Group, people like Larry Eagleburger, Vern Jordan, Ed Meese, Sandra Day O'Connor, Leon Panetta, Bill Perry, Chuck Robb, Alan Simpson, and of course, co-chairs James Baker and Lee Hamilton--all of whom counseled high-level dialogue with Damascus. Why? Because people who've been around the block and understand how the real world works know that when you're bogged down in a massive mess (read: Iraq), you seek to dialogue rationally with neighbors to help put the fire out, not scream for more adventures like shrill hysterics.
Ultimately, this is why it's much more alarming to see a sitting Senator displaying such a dangerous combination of ignorance and adventurism--as compared with assorted think-tankers screeching from the side-lines, to which we've become drearily accustomed. What happened to the Senator from Connecticut, one wonders, who in decades past seemed a reasonable man? Increasingly one has little choice but to see Joe Lieberman, as Joe Klein put it so well, simply as an " American embarrassment".
(Cross-posted at Belgravia Dispatch for those wishing to comment).
Barak: Hezbollah has 20,000 rockets,
more than before war
By Shahar Ilan. Haaretz 28/8/07
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said yesterday that Hezbollah has about 20,000 rockets and missiles of various ranges, more than it did prior to last summer's war in Lebanon.
Barak was speaking to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for the first time since joining the cabinet in June, and the first time overall since 2002.
"Barak's statements point not only to a failure to meet the aims of the Second Lebanon War, but also the failure of the diplomatic arrangement that ended the war," Likud whip Gideon Sa'ar said in response. "The paragraph in the agreement calling for an embargo is a dead letter," Sa'ar added.
With regard to Israeli gestures to the Palestinian Authority, Barak said the Central Command of the Israel Defense Forces is currently reviewing which checkpoints inside the West Bank could be removed. He said the continuation of missile fire from the Gaza Strip into the northern Negev proves that Israel cannot relinquish military control of the West Bank until an appropriate response to rocket fire is in place.
According to Barak, Israel will have an anti-rocket system within the next two and a half years, "and then maybe certain things can be done in Judea and Samaria."
The deputy head of research at Military Intelligence, Lieut.-Col. Eli Ben-Meir, told the committee that tension in Syria regarding the possibility of war with Israel has dropped recently.
With regard to Palestinian military activity in the Gaza Strip, he said that the Philadelphi Route is still used to smuggle arms into Gaza, and that Hamas leaders have recently slipped back into Gaza from training camps in Iran and in Syria using underground tunnels, despite Egyptian efforts to seal the smuggling routes.
Aluf Benn adds: Israeli intelligence has not detected any recent changes in Syria's military readiness and deployment, but does believe that the Syrians are less worried about Israeli intentions, and are not interpreting IDF training exercises as indicative of plans to attack their country.
Will Sarkozy Get a Syrian Response?
Elias Harfouch - Al-Hayat - 29/08/07//
The French president, Nicola Sarkozy, has offered Syria Franco-Syrian talks in return for facilitating the presidential elections in Lebanon. Guessing the Syrian response, however, will not be an easy task.
Damascus can claim that it has nothing to do with the Lebanese presidential elections since these elections are an internal Lebanese affair and since Damascus favors anything on which the Lebanese agree, and most importantly, since it has nothing less than best wishes for them while standing equidistantly from all sides. Nonetheless, this broken Syrian is barely persuasive, except for those who truly want to believe the Syrian claims.
In Lebanon, however, Syria's allies and supporters are always ready and motivated with their staunch convictions to overzealously assert their ties with Syrian interests. This happens to embarrass Syria as it makes it impossible for the Syrians to claim a neutral role.
Damascus can infer from the French offer the first signs of defeat for the western project and recognition of Syria's role in Lebanon. Such inferences are very much in line with the role that Syria believes it plays in the region. In playing this role, Damascus has no qualms about starting or encouraging all kinds of fires in the region in the hope that as heat warms up, those interested in putting the fire out will have no other choice but to turn to Syria, which plays the role of both arsonist and firefighter. Such has been the Syrian role in Palestine and Iraq; in the former, Syria played an instrumental role in dividing the Palestinians and in the breakup between Gaza the West Bank to the point that many have come to believe that only Damascus has the ability to put an end to the conflict there; in the latter, Al-Maliki's willingness to play to the tunes of Damascus after the vicious media campaigns between the two sides only indicates his awareness of the threats crossing over to Iraq through the Syrian borders.
On the other hand, however, as the French President's message is more accurate and far clearer than that made a day earlier by his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bernard Kouchner, Syria can take the opportunity to deal with the offer in a more realistic and modest manner. President Sarkozy has it plain that the French détente with Syria would be stunning if Syria cooperated with the French mediation and put no obstacles to Lebanon's sovereignty and its presidential elections. For the first time since the famous fallout between presidents Jacques Chirac and Bashar Assad, Paris is making an offer to meet Syria halfway in return for a positive Syrian role in Lebanon.
The significance of this offer arises not only from the fact that it comes from a heavyweight western leader, but also from the fact that President Sarkozy who is much closer to the American administration than his predecessor, shares more interests with the US in the Middle East as was clearly indicated by the recent diplomatic crisis between Paris and Baghdad and in which the French side asserted the position of President Bush toward Nouri Al-Maliki and his government.
If Damascus decides to take the French hint, it will not only create a breakthrough in the otherwise blocked Lebanese wall, but it will also manage to mend relations with other Arab countries that are opposed to Syria's role in Lebanon.
A transformation in the Syrian attitude will turn the tables on those in Lebanon, Syrian allies or otherwise, who are looking forward to an open confrontation. Political realism characterizes Sarkozy's prescription for Lebanon: a president who represents all Lebanese and capable to work with all sectarian groups internally and with Lebanon's different partners internationally. Anything short of this will be a disaster at best, and not only for Lebanon
Consensus democracy is an inherent
part of the spirit of the Lebanese Constitution
Establishing healthy and equal ties with Syria key to welfare of both countries
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The third round of inter-Lebanese dialogue organized by the Swiss Association for Euro-Arab-Muslim Dialogue (represented by Hassan Ghaziri and Yves Besson) was held in the suburbs of Bern, Switzerland for three consecutive days, from August 17 to August 19, 2007. The meeting was sponsored by the Swiss government (represented by Swiss envoy to Lebanon Didier Befirtre and his assistant Kim Stenzler, Swiss Ambassador to Beirut Francois Barras, and Swiss mediator Julian Hottinger). Representatives of various Lebanese political groups, in addition to representatives from Lebanon's civil society took part in the meeting.
Participants included Ali Fayad, Aref al-Abed, Ghaleb Mahmassani, Abbas Halabi, Farid Khazen, Ghassan Mukhaiber, Roula Noureddine, Joseph Neameh, Antoine Messara, and Raghid Solh. Ali Hamdan and Ambassador Samir Hobeika were not present.
The three-day discussions focused on Lebanon's parliamentary system, in addition to consensus democracy, and Lebanese-Syrian ties. The overall agenda of dialogue sessions is centered on six main themes, which will be discussed in turn during future meetings. In addition to the above mentioned topics, future meetings will discuss Lebanon's electoral law, judicial reforms, the defense strategy, and the Palestinian presence in Lebanon.
Sincerity and openness prevailed over discussions, where participants agreed to opt for consensus, and respect Lebanon's higher interests whenever faced with difficulties. Organizers along with attendees hoped that the outcomes of the dialogue session would promote inter-Lebanese understanding and constitute a step toward reaching a permanent state of stability in Lebanon both on the political as well as on the social levels.
While both organizers and participants stressed the consultative nature of the meeting, the sincerity, depth and accountability governing the dialogue provided an excellent opportunity to tackle the potential obstacles, the different perspectives, in addition to the suggested solutions to the topics under examination.
The primary goal of the dialogue meeting was to provide an in-depth examination of the major causes behind instability in Lebanon which always seems to transform political conflicts into institutional crises. Such crises paralyze the state and cause divisions and feuding. In light of the previous account, this statement aims to outline the progress made during discussions, expose the different viewpoints expressed by participants, and present major conclusions reached, which are neither final nor binding.
One: A Parliamentary
Democratic System and
The discussion revolved around the essence of the parliamentary democratic system in Lebanon as well as on the terms and procedures of such a system. The discussion used specific constitutional articles to clarify the nature and principles of the system.
Article (c) from the preamble to the Constitution stipulates: "Lebanon is a parliamentary democratic republic based on respect for public liberties, especially the freedom of opinion and belief, and respect for social justice, and equality of rights and duties among all citizens without discrimination."
Article (j) from the preamble walks along the same lines: "There is no constitutional legitimacy which contradicts the pact of national coexistence." Other articles in the Constitution which discuss the concept of consensus include: articles 65, 24, and 95.
Dialogie participants agreed on the following:
While the constitutional system of Lebanon is a democratic parliamentary one, it also specifies that democracy in Lebanon is a consensus democracy as stipulated by articles (J) from the preamble to the constitution and constitutional articles 65, 24, and 95, which all deal with the concept of sectarian consensus, as well as articles 9 and 10 of the Constitution which stressed the freedom of belief and the freedom to religious instruction, or as stated by article 19 which urges the leaders of Lebanon's sects to resort to the Constitutional Council on laws relating to personal status, the freedom of belief and religious practice, and the freedom of religious education.
Participants stressed that consensus democracy, rather than being a newly introduced concept aiming at revolutionizing Lebanon's constitutional system or introducing changes to the Taif Accord, has long characterized Lebanon's political make up. Furthermore, consensus democracy does not aim to reinforce sectarian politics in Lebanon but rather aims to limit the negative repercussions of such a system by preserving Lebanon's democratic system as well as Lebanon's diversity.
Consensus democracy is most closely embodied in societies where religious, ethnic, or linguistic diversity are prevalent. Consensus democracy is the application of consensus decision-making to the process of legislation in a democracy. It is characterized by a decision-making structure involving and taking into account as broad a range of opinions as possible, as opposed to systems where minority opinions can potentially be ignored by vote-winning majorities. Consensus democracy also features increased citizen participation both in determining the political agenda and in the decision making process itself.
Keeping a straight balance between true representation and effective rule, in addition to giving the democratic system the opportunity to develop its own tools, is a true challenge for countries where constitutional democracy is at the core of the democratic system.
Endowing the Constitutional Council with the necessary jurisdiction to explain and elucidate constitutional texts is a necessary step toward an accurate implementation of the Taif Accord. Such a step will help in setting the foundations for efficient arbitration tools, likely to resolve potential conflicts which may arise concerning the interpretation or the application of the Constitution.
The concept of partnership in decision-making initiated an animated debate during the meeting, where participants were segregated into two groups. The first group stressed the importance of promoting the concept of partnership, while adhering to the following principles: the efficiency of the administration, the government's duties toward the Parliament, ministerial unity, and the possibility of having an opposition. However, the second group reminded of the concept of proportional representation as well as of veto power, which is mutual to both the executive and the legislative authorities. The second group considered that veto power was enjoyed at several crucial instances in Lebanon's history, which required various Lebanese players to make mutual concessions in a bid to avoid the country from plunging into big crises. Participants also agreed on pursuing discussions on a number of legal concerns, in addition to a series of problematic issues such as:
l Should consensus be established before resorting to constitutional institutions, or is consensus forged inside of constitutional institutions?
l What are the general principles governing the appointment of the government in times of crises as well as in ordinary circumstances?
l Does the concept of "equality" relate to proportional representation of various sects or does it also relate to the representation of the majority within each sect?
l Does the two-thirds quorum required for taking specific decisions inside Cabinet entail certain legal considerations when forming governments?
l What are the constitutional steps to be taken when the ministers of a major sect resign from Cabinet, when the resigned ministers constitute only one-third of the total number of ministers in the Cabinet?
l To what extent is the government a promoter of dialogue among the Lebanese? What is the specific role of the government as the executive power? How is this reflected on the role of the Parliament as the Cradle of national dialogue?
l How can balance between institutions and authorities be maintained in light of the impossibility of dissolving the Parliament or contesting the authorities of the president as an arbitrator?
l How can political paralysis due to the use of the mutual veto power be overcome?
l Does partnership mean that crucial national decisions such as war and peace are taken after surveying as broad a range of opinions as possible?
l How can the negative repercussions generated by the dual (consensus and competition) nature of the Lebanese political system be decreased or limited so as to ensure the well-being and efficiency of constitutional institutions while ensuring equality among the Lebanese on the other? Moreover, how can the positive facets of such a system be promoted?
l What are the possible solutions to be adopted in order to put an end to the controversy concerning the required constitutional quorum for the election of a president?
Two: Lebanese- Syrian ties
Participants discussed Lebanese-Syrian ties, where various scenarios to restore stability back to the relationship between the two countries and to cast aside previous mistakes were exposed.
Dialogue participants suggested two approaches:
The first approach considered that several factors, including elements of history and geography, as well as common political and security interests governed the relationship between the two countries. The relationship between Lebanon and Syria was further defined by a series of memorandums signed between the two countries such as the Taif Accord, which stressed the exceptional nature of the ties between the two countries, in addition to the Brotherhood and Cooperation agreement. This approach saw healthy Lebanese-Syrian ties as a guarantee against the constant threat Israel represents in the region.
Thus advocates of the first approach consider the restitution of normal and stable ties between Lebanon and Syria as an essential pre-requisite to having stability, security, and national interests of both countries safeguarded.
The first approach added that for Lebanese-Syrian ties to be based on healthy foundations, past experiences ought to be reassessed and both countries should commit themselves to acknowledging their respective sovereignty and independence, while adhering to their common interests on the strategic, political, and democratic levels.
The second approach, meanwhile, considered serious efforts to shape a steady-yet-equal association with Syria should not rule out the fact that previous attempts to establish healthy and stable ties between the two countries have failed.
The approach held Syria responsible for the failure, while acknowledging the several positive phases witnessed in the past.
Therefore, advocates of the second approach considered that in order to foster healthy and stable ties, Syria should work on wiping away its previous lapses by undertaking a series of practical steps with the aim of rebuilding trust with the Lebanese. The second approach urge Syria to express its support of Lebanon's independence, put an end to all attempts to stir chaos in Lebanon and threaten its welfare and stability, abide by Arab and international decisions concerning Lebanon, maintain a neutral attitude and not show bias against any Lebanese group.
Following judicious discussions, dialogue participants reached a common understanding on the matter:
Participants agreed that the Taif Accord clearly defined the boundaries of the exceptional ties between the two countries, whereby the accord stipulated: "Lebanon, with its Arab identity, is tied to all the Arab countries by true fraternal relations. Between Lebanon and Syria there is a special relationship that derives its strength from the roots of blood relationships, history, and joint fraternal interests. This is the concept on which the two countries' coordination and cooperation is founded, and which will be embodied by the agreements between the two countries in all areas, in a manner that accomplishes the two fraternal countries' interests within the framework of the sovereignty and independence of each of them. Therefore, and because strengthening the bases of security creates the climate needed to develop these bonds, Lebanon should not be allowed to constitute
a source of threat to Syria's security, and Syria should not
be allowed to constitute a source of threat to Lebanon's security under any circumstances. Consequently, Lebanon should not allow itself to become a pathway or a base for any force, state, or organization seeking to undermine its security or Syria's security. Syria, which is eager for Lebanon's security, independence, and unity and for harmony among its citizens, should not permit any act that poses a threat to Lebanon's security, independence, and sovereignty."
Dialogue participants also agreed to abide by the resolutions issued by the national dialogue sessions in Lebanon concerning Lebanese-Syrian ties, which specify:
"As stated in the preamble to the Lebanese Constitution, which stresses Lebanon's sovereignty, freedom, and independence, as well as Lebanon's Arab identity and Arab association, and as confirmed by the Taif Accord concerning the exceptional relationship tying Lebanon to Syria that derives its strength from the roots of blood relationships, history, and joint fraternal interests, and while highlighting the necessity of maintaining coordination and cooperation between the two countries by the signing of agreements in all areas, in a manner that ensures the two countries' interests within the framework of the sovereignty and independence of each of them; therefore in order to strengthen bonds and base them on clear foundations, participants agreed on the following:
One: Syria should not become a threat to Lebanon's security and Lebanon conversely should not pose a threat to Syria's security. In order to achieve such aim, the borders between the two countries ought to be controlled, and the Lebanese government ought to be urged to take necessary measures.
Two: The two countries are not allowed to interfere in each others domestic affairs.
Three: Establishing equal ties between the two countries based on mutual trust and respect, in addition to the establishment, as soon as possible, of formal ties between the two countries which would include setting up of diplomatic missions.
Four: Initiate and support the activity of the Lebanese Syrian Committee in order to settle pending issues such as Lebanese detainees in Syrian prisons in a fast and efficient manner.
Participants considered that the Constitution, the Taif Accord, and decisions taken during dialogue sessions provided a suitable political as well as legal framework towards arranging Lebanese-Syrian ties. Nonetheless, participants concurred that discussions should not remain in the theoretical context and practical steps ought to be undertaken:
Drawing lessons from past experiences and avoiding past mistakes are key steps to be undertaken in order to set the foundations for healthy Syrian-Lebanese ties, where the interests and sovereignty of each of the two countries will be respected, and where all forms of hegemony will be dismissed.
Exceptional ties between Lebanon and Syria should not be at odds with standards of international relations put fort by the International Law.
Preserving Lebanese sovereignty and ensuring the proper functioning of Lebanese state institutions guarantee healthy Lebanese-Syrian ties, and preserves the security and interests of the two countries.
Lebanon, which had liberated its occupied territories in 2000 and is currently working on liberating the occupied Shebaa farms along with the Kafarshouba hills, will not sign peace agreements or normalize ties with Israel until the Arab-Israeli conflict is permanently settled. In accordance with the Taif Accord, and in attempt to safeguard Lebanese sovereignty, Lebanon will not allow that its territories be used by outside forces to launch attacks against Israel.
Lebanon should commit itself to developing a defense strategy that would enable it to preserve its territory in face of any potential Israeli attacks. Lebanon should not allow any permit that its territory be used to launch attacks against Syria.
Monitoring Lebanese - Syrian borders so as to ensure stability in both countries.
The necessity of demarcating the borders between Lebanon and Syria, while setting aside potential tensions and complications, which could hinder the demarcation process.
Tensions between Lebanon and Syria should not reflect on economic ties between the two countries, which should be further promoted.
Participants in the dialogue meeting would like to thank the Swiss Government, envoy Didier Befirtre, Swiss ambassador to Lebanon Francois Barras. Participants also express their gratitude to the Swiss Association for Euro-Arab-Muslim Dialogue for facilitating and promoting such sessions. Finally, participants expressed their determination to prolong meetings so as to revive and pursue dialogue.