DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 14,22-36. Then he made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. "It is a ghost," they said, and they cried out in fear. At once (Jesus) spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."Peter said to him in reply, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how (strong) the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, "Truly, you are the Son of God."After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret. When the men of that place recognized him, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought to him all those who were sick and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak, and as many as touched it were healed
Lebanon's by-elections exposed a need for leaders to take action.The Daily Star. August 8/07
A victory on the path to oblivion. By Michael Young. August 8/07
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources
for August 7/07
U.S. Keeps Close Vigil on Donors Sending Money to Aoun-Naharnet
Government Hails By-Elections as 'Genuine Acknowledgement' of its Legitimacy-Naharnet
Ban Urges Security Council to Consider UNIFIL Extension-Naharnet
Lebanon says top Fatah Al Islam member killed-Khaleej Times-Naharnet
Abu Hureira Officially Declared Dead-Naharnet
UN Chief Urges Extended Lebanon Mandate-Washington Post-Naharnet
Rival Lebanese leaders claim by-elections as 'victory'-Daily Star
Israel warns of Hizbullah abduction plot-Daily Star
Government announces killing of Fatah al-Islam's number two-Daily Star
Barak: Israel's 2000 pullout was the only right move-Daily Star
Witnesses report heavy clashes in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp-Daily Star
Israel voices satisfaction on UN statement-Daily Star
ICRC completes reconstruction of water reservoir-Daily Star
Mexico donates ambulances to Lebanese Red Cross-Daily Star
Welcome calm prevails in Metn after day of tense balloting-Daily Star
Beirutis across capital hope politicians will bury hatchet and focus on citizens' needs
Hoss: Metn polls prove democracy in Lebanon is an 'illusion'-Daily Star
Star and orphan seek song for children in the Middle East-Daily Star
USAID opens 5 water treatment plants in South-Daily Star
Six die in automobile crash in Bekaa-Daily Star
Investment banker takes precipitous approach to aid-Daily Star
The World Council of the Cedars Revolution
Representing the hopes and aspirations of many millions of Lebanese in Lebanon and throughout the Diaspora
2300 M Street, NW, Suite 800 , Washington , DC , USA 20037
Phone + 1 202 416 1819, Fax + 1 202 293 3083
Monday 6th August 2007
Barakat: Bush's executive order helps Lebanon against Terror
Commenting on President George Bush's executive order on freezing the assets of elements threatening security and democracy in Lebanon , Colonel Charbel Barakat, Terrorism Advisor to the World Council on the Cedars Revolution said "this is the best decision against Terrorism taken internationally regarding Lebanon so far."
Barakat, speaking with Cedars Revolution News (CRN) said: "What President Bush's executive order has done was to clarify that Terrorist organizations and individuals are threatening a democratically elected Government in Lebanon and that Lebanon 's civil society needs to be protected." Barakat, who has testified in the past to the US Senate and writes with the Phoenicia News in Canada , said "it is no secret that the Syrian and Iranian intelligence services and Hezbollah have devised a plan to sink Lebanon in blood and reverse the democratic order by year end, if they can. As of July 2005, these forces have launched a terror campaign which has led to assassinations of politicians, journalists and legislators, urban insurrections, explosions and killing of innocents, as well as a war across the southern international border. Most recently, the axis has sent Fatah al Islam into battle assassinating Lebanese soldiers and officers. And while this terror war is bleeding Lebanon , members of Terrorist organizations and those allies and facilitating for them have been traveling to the West and to the United States unchecked."
"It is logical and long overdue," said Barakat that the US Government which is waging a war on Terror would freeze the assets of Hizbollah, Syrian intelligence, and other Lebanese organizations and individuals who are the allies of Hizbollah. It was time that the operatives of Terrorism in Lebanon would be identified in the US and stopped from using America as a fundraiser launching pad and intelligence gathering on Lebanese exiles. President Bush has delivered a strike to Lebanon-based terrorism and made the United States safer by releasing that order. We thank him and hope other Western leaders in Canada , Europe and Australia follow the example. Lebanese around the world and in America are happy to see the leader of the free world leading the efforts to protect democracy in Lebanon and confront Terrorism internationally."
Ret. Colonel Charbel Barakat
Terrorism Advisor to the WCCR
Keeps Close Vigil on Donors Sending Money to Aoun
The United States is keeping a tight vigil on Lebanese businessmen and other wealthy resident and non-resident Lebanese allegedly donating money to Gen. Michel Aoun and his Free Patriotic Movement. The daily An Nahar on Tuesday, citing prominent sources, said "any citizen is subject" to the executive order issued by U.S. President George Bush which aims at blocking property of persons undermining Lebanon's sovereignty or its democratic process and institutions.
It said the move reflects the U.S. administration's "never-ending concern" over the possibility of Aoun's participation in any activity that could lead to the emergence of dual governments or hinder upcoming presidential elections if he figured he was not going to win.The sources uncovered that the donors include renowned Lebanese businessmen from various sects. They said these businessmen own property, companies, factories as well as houses in the United States, adding that they are known for their close relations with Aoun and for providing him with financial aid. Bush on Thursday declared a "national emergency to deal with the threat in Lebanon" aimed at undermining Premier Fouad Saniora's government, reasserting Syrian control and undermining state sovereignty.
Bush's move was made in an executive order and informed to congress for immediate application. It aims at blocking property of persons undermining the sovereignty of Lebanon or its democratic process and institutions, according to a White House statement. Bush said the move aims at confronting the "threat in Lebanon posed by the actions of certain persons to undermine Lebanon's legitimate and democratically elected government or democratic institutions,
"to contribute to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law in Lebanon, including through politically motivated violence and intimidation, to reassert Syrian control or contribute to Syrian interference in Lebanon or to infringe upon or undermine Lebanese sovereignty." The move also targets persons "contributing to political and economic instability in that country and the region. Such actions constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States," Bush said in a letter to congress.
He said the order will "block the property and interests in property of persons determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to have taken, or to pose a significant risk of taking, actions, including acts of violence, that have the purpose or effect of undermining Lebanon's democratic processes or institutions or contributing to the breakdown of the rule of law in Lebanon."It also targets persons "supporting the reassertion of Syrian control or contributing to Syrian interference in Lebanon, or infringing upon or undermining Lebanese sovereignty."
"The order further authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to block the property and interests in property of those persons determined to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financing, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such actions or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the order; to be a spouse or dependent child of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the order; or to be owned or controlled by, or to act or purport to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the order," the letter said. Bush concluded by telling congress that "I delegated to the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the authority to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of my order." Beirut, 07 Aug 07, 11:56
Government Hails By-Elections as 'Genuine Acknowledgement' of its Legitimacy
The government hailed by-elections as a gesture of a "genuine acknowledgement" of its legitimacy which has long been considered by the Hizbullah-led opposition as unconstitutional. Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said after a cabinet session late Monday that through the Beirut and Metn by-polls the government recovered a "thunderous" acknowledgment of its legitimacy and constitutionality. He said Saniora congratulated Interior Minister Hassan Sabaa and Defense Minister Elias Murr for "making the election day successful and preserving people's security." "He also congratulated the winners and losers in the elections," Aridi told reporters after the meeting. "Everyone in the polls has performed his duty to the best of his ability while preserving the Lebanese people's safety and right to express their opinion," he added. Aridi said the cabinet also approved President Emile Lahoud's participation in the United Nations General Assembly in September, adding that the government asked for reduction of the trip fees. He did not say whether the government would send its own delegation to the U.N. Aridi also welcomed the "unexpected return" of resigned Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh to his ministry. Salloukh visited the Foreign Ministry on Monday and informed ambassadors of his decision to modify those of acting Foreign Minister Tarek Mitri on some diplomatic posts. Aridi said that "we hope Salloukh's initiative does not constitute a challenge to any ... decisions made by acting ministers." Beirut, 07 Aug 07, 07:37
By-election Leaves Christians Deeply Divided
The deadlocked struggle between the pro-U.S. government and mainly Shiite opposition deepened after a tense parliamentary election showed a sharp divide among Christians, a key swing bloc. That deadlock was reinforced when pro-government candidate Amin Gemayel, a former president and the head of one of Lebanon's most powerful Maronite Christian families, conceded defeat Monday by a mere 418 votes in Sunday's election in the Christian stronghold of Metn north of Beirut.
The victor was little-known Kamil Khoury, who was backed by the most prominent Christian leader in the pro-Syrian opposition, Michel Aoun. Khoury took 39,534 votes to Gemayel's 39,116. The result "reaffirms the existing stalemate," said Rami Khoury, an analyst with the Issam Fares think tank at the American University of Beirut. "It shows a very polarized Christian community." Sunnis are the base for the ruling coalition, which opposes Syrian influence. Shiite Muslims, led by Hezbollah, overwhelmingly back the pro-Syrian opposition. Neither side has been able to decisively lure the Christians, around a third of Lebanon's 4 million people, to their camp.
Many fear the deepening stalemate may lead to the formation of competing governments if it is not resolved before the race to replace pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, whose term ends Nov. 23.
Under Lebanon's division of power among its sects, the presidency must be held by a Maronite Christian chosen parliament. Now, no Maronite leader can boost his bid among lawmakers by claiming to represent the entire community. Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's backers are hoping to finally put in place an anti-Syrian figure in the presidency to strengthen their power. They rose to control the government after Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon in 2005, ending Damascus' decadeslong control of Lebanon. But the political struggle with the Hezbollah-led opposition has sapped the anti-Syrian movement's power and paralyzed the government. Gemayel's loss is a setback for his potential as a candidate. Aoun has said he will stand for the presidency. But the slimness of Kamil Khoury's victory Sunday damages his patron Aoun's attempts to present himself as the top Christian politician. "Aoun is still a formidable figure but cannot really present himself as the leading Maronite figure anymore. That's probably the single most significant element in the election," said Rami Khoury, the analyst. Gemayel, 65, was running in his home district with an implicit endorsement by the powerful Maronite patriarch. He was seeking to replace his son, Pierre Gemayel, who was gunned down in November in an attack that government supporters blamed on Syria. Gemayel got more of the Maronite vote than his rival -- 75 percent, according to press reports. But Aoun's candidate made up for it by winning other Christians' votes. Gemayel supporters blamed his loss on the large ethnic Armenian community in the Metn district and said Kamil Khoury was not representative of the Maronites, who form a majority in the district and are the largest Christian sect in Lebanon. Armenians are largely Catholic or Orthodox Christian. Another election Sunday was to replace lawmaker Walid Eido, a Sunni Muslim who was killed in a June car bombing there. A pro-government candidate, Mohammed al-Amin Itani, won that race easily.(AP) Beirut, 07 Aug 07, 13:14
Ban Urges Security Council to Consider UNIFIL Extension
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon urged the Security Council to extend the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping force Lebanon, praising the troops for helping to establish security in the south following last summer's Israel-Hizbullah war. In a letter to the council president circulated Monday, Ban said Prime Minister Fouad Saniora has asked to renew the mandate of the force, known as UNIFIL, for a year. The current mandate of the force -- comprising 11,428 ground troops, 2,000 maritime personnel, 185 staff officers and 20 local staffers -- expires on Aug. 31. The Security Council is scheduled to discuss UNIFIL on Aug. 16. The 13,000-strong U.N. force, along with 15,000 Lebanese troops, was deployed along border with Israel to enforce the Security Council resolution that ended the Israeli-Hizbullah war, which killed more than 1,200 people in Lebanon. "The swift and effective deployment of UNIFIL has helped to establish a new strategic military and security environment in southern Lebanon," Ban said. The peacekeepers from 30 countries that make up the land and maritime forces and the "strong peacekeeping partnership with the Lebanese armed forces" have made it possible to implement several key aspects of the resolution that ended the war.
But Ban said "recent events have tragically shown that much work remains to be done." He cited "the vicious attack" on June 24 that killed six peacekeepers belonging to the Spanish contingent whose armored personnel carrier in southern Lebanon was struck by a bomb. It was the first such attack against UNIFIL.
In early July, a roadside bomb hit a U.N. jeep near the southern port of Tyre, but there were no casualties. Ban also cited the firing of rockets into Israel by militants on June 17, which caused no casualties and little damage but demonstrated the continuing volatility of the border region. The secretary-general reiterated that as a result of these attacks, the United Nations "will not be deterred from implementing its Security Council-mandated activities," including negotiations on critical issues between the parties. "At the same time," he said, "the attacks on UNIFIL have changed the security environment in which the mission operates in Lebanon."
In an effort to increase protection for the U.N. force and civilian staff, Ban said the mission will continue to strengthen its cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces and will also require additional "risk mitigation assets." U.N. officials said these include explosive detectors, jammers on vehicles, and material and equipment to conduct investigations.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 07 Aug 07, 08:54
Abu Hureira Officially Declared Dead
Lebanese authorities declared that Fatah al-Islam deputy commander known as Abu Hureira has been killed. Information Minister Ghazi Aridi on Monday said Abu Hureira, a Lebanese whose real name is Shehab al-Qaddour, was killed few days ago by police in the northern port city of Tripoli, near the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared where Fatah al-Islam militants have been fighting Lebanese soldiers for more than two months.
"The cabinet was informed by Interior Minister Hassan Sabaa that Lebanese security forces have killed Fatah al-Islam's No. 2 in the Abu Samra neighborhood" in Tripoli, Aridi told reporters following a cabinet meeting Monday night. The whereabouts of Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker Youssef Absi and Abu Hureira have been unknown since gunbattles at the Nahr al-Bared camp erupted on May 20. Monday's announcement marked the first official declaration that Abu Hureira had been killed. Absi's whereabouts remain unknown. A senior police official told The Associated Press that the incident took place five days ago, when two bearded men on a motorcycle opened fire on a police checkpoint in Abu Samra while trying to flee. Police fired back, killing one of the gunmen and wounding the driver.
The official said the driver disclosed during interrogation that his companion was Abu Hureira. Police took blood samples from the dead man and samples from Abu Hureira's parents in the northern Akkar region, the official said. "DNA tests were carried out which showed the samples matched," he said, adding that Abu Hureira's parents also identified him as their son. He said the killing was not announced earlier because officials were waiting for the DNA results.
The official said it was not clear how or when Abu Hureira had fled Nahr al-Bared or how long he had been in Tripoli. The Nahr al-Bared fighting has dragged on. More than 200 people, including 133 soldiers, have been killed in the standoff at the camp. The army has refused to halt its offensive until the militants completely surrender, but the gunmen have vowed to fight to the death.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 07 Aug 07, 08:27
Robert Fisk: Lebanese strike a blow at US-backed government
Published: 07 August 2007
They've done it again. The Arabs have, once more, followed democracy and voted for the wrong man.
Just as the Palestinians voted for Hamas when they were supposed to vote for the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, so the Christian Maronites of Lebanon appear to have voted for a man opposed to the majority government of Fouad Siniora in Beirut. Camille Khoury - with a strong vote from the Armenian Tashnak party - won by 418 votes the seat that belonged to Pierre Gemayel, murdered last November by gunmen supposedly working for the Syrian security services.
While the Maronite vote had increased against Gemayel's showing in 2005 elections, the result was a stunning blow to the American-backed government - how devastating that phrase "American-backed" has now become in the Middle East - in Lebanon and allowed Hizbollah's ally, ex-General Michel Aoun to claim that "they cannot beat me". Mr Aoun is a candidate in presidential elections later this year.
True, the voting figures showed huge support for Pierre Gemayel's father Amin - himself an ex-president- who was standing for the parliamentary seat of his murdered son. Although he was a weak and fractious leader - Amin paid a state visit to Damascus to re-cement "fraternal" ties after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon - he proved himself a brave man in the aftermath of his son's murder, calling upon Lebanese to support the government rather than submit once more to the domination of Syria.
Khoury's score in the Metn hills above Beirut - and a 418 conquest out of 79,000 votes is hardly a crushing political victory - yet again emphasises the divisions among the Christians of Lebanon who have traditionally fought each other - rather than their more obvious enemies - throughout Lebanese history. The Crusaders fought each other in Tyre when Saladin was at the gates of the city; in 1990, Mr Aoun's own Lebanese army fought the Christian Phalangist militia while still trying to defend themselves from the Syrians. They lost both battles.
Amin's father Pierre - grandfather of the MP murdered last November - founded the Phalange in 1936 after being inspired by the Nazi Berlin Olympics. "I thought Lebanon needed some of this order," he admitted to me shortly before his death; the original Phalange dressed in brown shirts and gave the Hitler salute. But they had turned themselves into a neo-respectable right-wing party by 1982 when they were enthusiastically supported by the invading Israeli army which hoped that Amin's brother Bashir would be elected president. Alas, Bashir turned out to be less pro-Israeli than the then-defence minister, Ariel Sharon, hoped, and was himself murdered in a bomb attack shortly before his inauguration.
Old Pierre of Olympics fame is long dead - he did not even know his own age when I last spoke to him - and Amin's brother and son were both assassinated. For the government, there was one electoral light yesterday: the victory of Mohamed Itani in Beirut, a Sunni Muslim who scored 85 per cent of the vote for the seat of Walid Eido who was himself blown up by a bomb in June.
One begins to wonder, in Lebanon, whether the election results are more surprising than the means by which MPs are liquidated.