December 05/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 10,21-24. At that very moment he rejoiced (in) the holy Spirit and said, "I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him." Turning to the disciples in private he said, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it."

Releases. Reports & Opinions
Exploring the Axis of Evil. By: Tom Ordeman, December 4/07
Enough is enough: Aoun has no right to gamble with Lebanon's future-The Daily Star-December 04/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for December 04/07
French FM back to Beirut to discuss presidential crisis: official-AFP
EU delegation calls on Lebanese to unite-The Daily Star
Aoun trots out list of 'Christian Principles and Basics-The Daily Star
Berri says he has key to ending presidential crisis-The Daily Star
AUB celebrates 141st anniversary-The Daily Star
Wife of Israeli soldier captured by Hizbullah seeks support in America-The Daily Star
Student supporters of Amal and Future clash in Hamra-The Daily Star
Rainstorms compound misery of displaced Nahr al-Bared refugees-The Daily Star
Bahia Hariri lauds example set by Lebanese athletes-The Daily Star
Lebanese sure Suleiman will be elected - but wonder when-The Daily Star
Visiting dance troupe stages performance inspired by Indian culture and mythology-The Daily Star
Abbas closes 92 Hamas-linked charities-The Daily Star
Ahmadinejad tries to woo GCC leaders into agreements on trade, security-By The Arab Advisors Group

Aoun: No Constitutional Amendment Before Political Accord-Naharnet
Murr: Berri Ready for Sponsoring Constitutional Amendment
Geagea accuses Opposition of Seeking to Maintain Presidential Vacuum-Naharnet
Israel Fears Hamas Could Turn its Fighters into Quasi-Army on Par Hizbullah-Naharnet
Annapolis Conference Paying Off For Assad-Naharnet
Hizbullah: The Majority must Discuss New Government, Army Commander with Aoun-Naharnet

Enough is enough: Aoun has no right to gamble with Lebanon's future
By The Daily Star
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
The Daily Star strives to be representative of both public opinion and the public interest in Lebanon, no small challenge in a country where the misleading of the former leads so frequently to the subjugation of the latter. As such, this newspaper has generally supported many of the democratic ideals enunciated by leading members of the March 14 coalition, even if it has not always been fully confident of their devotion to such notions. For the same reason, we have also endorsed many of the complaints and suggestions put forth by key figures in the opposition March 8 camp, even if we have sometimes questioned their motivations.
There are times, though, when politicians of one inclination or the other seem to lose their way. If the statement issued by Michel Aoun - member of Parliament, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, head of the Reform and Change parliamentary bloc, former commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), former (contested) prime minister and erstwhile presidential hopeful - on Monday is any indication, this is one of those instances in which a major national figure needs a push in the right direction. After hosting the current commander of the LAF, General Michel Suleiman, for talks at his residence in Rabieh to discuss Suleiman's candidacy for the Lebanese presidency, Aoun did something very disturbing. Instead of issuing a straight "up or down" evaluation or even indicating that he needed more information and/or more time to form a judgment, the MP declared vague support for Suleiman but made it conditional on all or part (no one knows which) of a proposal he made in late November that was almost universally appraised as having been stillborn.
All politics leads to cynical positioning that has nothing to do with national priorities and everything to do with personal ambition. Given Lebanon's current predicament after a year-long existential crisis, however, it can ill-afford business as usual. Given these conditions, Aoun's maneuver is no longer an acceptable tactic. Instead, it is a throw of the dice in which the stakes include the fate of a nation and the well-being of its people. No one has the right to make such wagers.
Previous attempts at compromise have been blocked by certain members of the March 14 camp, and The Daily Star has argued, in essence, that their arguments stemmed from a gross disorder of priorities. Aoun's gambit is no different. One cannot be certain of his intention(s), only that no goals he has articulated (and few if any that can be imagined) would be worth plunging Lebanon into a new round of instability.
General Suleiman may not be a career politician, but in this country, particularly at this juncture,that is anything but an insult. He enjoys an unquestioned record of service to his country, widespread popular confidence, and a reputation for objectivity. He has helped separate supporters of the ruling and opposition camps when they have been on the verge of mutual (and national) suicide. His candidacy represents an opportunity for the reduction of tensions and the payment of sober attention to pressing national issues, including - most urgently - the makeup and platform of the next Cabinet. If Aoun thinks he has a good reason why anyone should ignore all of these factors, he should say so. If not, he ought to stop playing games that frighten and possibly endanger the Lebanese people.

Aoun trots out list of 'Christian Principles and Basics'
By Hani M. Bathish
Daily Star staff
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
BEIRUT: Change and Reform Bloc leader MP Michel Aoun offered conditional support on Monday for the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, General Michel Suleiman, to assume the presidency, saying the move would be contingent on its being "in line" with a proposal issued by Aoun last month - and on a political agreement to amend the Constitition to lift a ban on senior civil servants (including military officers) from Baabda Palace.
Aoun's announcement came on the same day he unveiled a "Memorandum of Christian Principles and Basics," the result of three days of talks with other Christian figures last week. He also met with Suleiman at his home in Rabieh.
The memo outlined several "immediate demands:" that a president enjoy "representative and personal qualities;" that a Christian "imbalance" in government jobs be redressed; that a just election law which employs a small electoral district be adopted to ensure fair representation; that Christians displaced during the 1975-1990 Civil War be returned to their homes; and that the fate of those missing from the same conflict be determined.
Aoun said Christians seek to "engage other communities" and strengthen national unity, stressing that an "active role" bolsters and supports Christians' existence in Lebanon. The memorandum said Christians suffered from demographic changes resulting from the naturalization law passed in the 1990s.
The document criticized whqat it called Christians' "symbolic" participation in government and that a "Christian crisis" has been exacerbated by the vacuum in the presidency since Emile Lahoud left office last month. Aoun also decried attempts to push the Maronite Church into a more political role. The document said Christians should choose a president who would then enjoy national backing. Aoun also called for holding Christian political leaders accountable.
Aoun rejected reverting to an era where each sect builds up its own defense forces. He called instead for a unified defense strategy. Aoun also called for re-establishing the middle class and adopting a reform program to fight corruption.
Aoun said that part of the crisis Christians are going through right now is due to regional and Western perceptions that their role as a conduit between the East and the West in the region is no longer relevant. He said the root cause of regional conflict has been the failure to find a just resolution to the Palestinian issue and failure to spread democracy in the region, which the Christian presence in Lebanon can redress by offering a model of coexistence with other sects.

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 ( 202) 416 1819, Fax ( 202) 293 3083
Press release
Seven Conditions For Lebanese Army Commander Candidacy
Washington, Dec 2nd, 2007/CR News
In view of the fact that the leader of the Parliamentary majority in Lebanon, Sheikh Saad Hariri has advanced the name of Army Commander General Michel Sleiman, as his candidate for President of the Republic; and in view of that fact that other leaders from the March 14 Movement, including MP Walid Jumblat, Kataeb Supreme Leader Sheikh Amin Gemayel, Lebanese Forces commander Dr Samir Geagea as well as Prime Minister Fouad Seniora have all expressed their approval for this candidacy, the World Council for the Cedars Revolution issues the following press release:
A - The supporters of the Cedars Revolution worldwide have conducted their efforts since March 2005 and have struggled since 1990 to achieve goals pertaining to the liberation of Lebanon from Syrian occupation and the Terror networks linked to the Iranian regime. These goals remain even as the legitimate representatives of the Lebanese people, including their legislators, perform their constitutional duties, including the election of a President for the Lebanese Republic. The WCCR has issued a list of candidates it approves from the Majority in Parliament under the umbrella of the Cedars Revolution. But if the legislators decide to adopt another candidate in light of their perception of events and interest, the WCCR will not oppose their choice even though it wasn’t listed on the Council’s final list if certain conditions are met.
B - If the Legislative majority wishes to proceed with the candidacy of the commander of the Lebanese Army, they will have to assume the responsibility of a constitutional amendment for that purpose. And if they decide to amend the current constitution, the WCCR will recommend that certain amendments be passed simultaneously so that the new constitution reflects the objectives of the Cedars Revolution.
C - If the Lebanese constitution is amended in such a way to satisfy the goals of the Cedars Revolution, and to preserve Lebanon’s democracy, then the candidacy of the commander of the Lebanese Army will be accepted and supported. The Lebanese Army, which has scored an important victory against terrorism in Northern Lebanon, has proven that it can be relied on when the political leadership of the country is committed to counter Terrorism.
Hence, the WCCR poses the following conditions for accepting and supporting the candidacy of the commander of the Lebanese Army to the Presidency of the Republic.
1 . That the Parliament of Lebanon vote for an amendment to the Taif Agreement canceling the privileged relations between Lebanon and Syria and replace them with normal diplomatic relations.
2. That the Parliament of Lebanon vote for canceling the privilege granted to a so-called “resistance”, named Hezbollah, to bear weapons, transport them, use them, organizes training camps, and receives weapons and financial support from foreign Governments.
3. That the Parliament of Lebanon vote for the abrogation of the Syrian-Lebanese Cooperation and Brotherhood Treaty forced on Lebanon in 1991, by virtue of which any President of Lebanon is bound to coordinate with the head of the Syrian regime on sovereignty and security issues.
4. That the current Government of Lebanon dismantles the "joint operation room," between the Syrian Regime, the Lebanese state and Hezbollah. This security apparatus, imposed on Lebanon by the Syrian and Iranian regimes has to be dismantled before a new President is elected
5 That the Presidential candidate declares prior to the election that he and his new Government will commit to deploying the Lebanese Army along the Syrian-Lebanese borders and stop the flow of weapons, men and logistics destined to Lebanese armed groups, including the so-called “resistance” named Hezbollah.
6 That the Presidential candidate declares prior to the election that he and his new Government will commit to the full implementation of UN 1559 and 1701 under international auspices and not under the armed influence and intimidation of Terror militias.
7 That the Presidential candidate declares prior to the election that he and his new Government will commit to work fully with the UN and the international tribunal to implement the decisions of the tribunal and the judicial process initiated by these institutions with regard to the prosecution of the parties involved in the assassination of a number of MPs and political leaders in Lebanon.
If the legislators who advanced the candidacy of the Commander of the Lebanese Army issue a declaration confirming these seven principles and if the candidate they have selected also issues a declaration confirming these principles, the WCCR will extend its support to the candidacy of General Michel Sleiman for the election as President of the Republic of Lebanon

Aoun: No Constitutional Amendment Before Political Accord
Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun on Monday stressed that he has accepted the nomination of Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman for president "in line with my initiative," saying the process to amend the constitution cannot be launched before reaching a political agreement. In a document outlining the outcome of consultations he held with Christian figures, Aoun said the Christians seek to "engage other communities … tighten national unity and civil order and reject regional and international alliances." He stressed that "active role" by the Christians supports and safeguards their existence.
Aoun's "Historic document" said the Christians have been "targeted in their mere existence, role and rights" which is tantamount to targeting Lebanon's "existence."
The Christians, according to the document, are suffering from the demographic changes resulting from the naturalization law passed more than 10 years ago.
It criticized the Christians' "symbolic participation" in government institutions.
The document stressed that such an alleged Christian crisis has been escalated by the resulting vacuum in the presidential office.
It set the lines for the "rules of democratic practice" in the Christian community, stating that it should be based on "two principles and one authority."
The two principles, according to the document, are political pluralism and recognition of majority-minority system, by which both adhere to democracy.
The majority, according to the document, has the right to lead the community politically while the minority would have the option of either joining the majority in an alliance or forming an opposition. "The authority is Bkirki" that would oversee respect by both the majority and minority of the set rules.
"No one should be allowed to use Bkirki as a parallel authority or as a competitor to the political authority," the document stated. It stressed that the president should be chosen by the Christians and backed at the national level. The Christians, as a community, "should not be punished for choosing their leaders. However, their leaders should be subject to discussion regarding their performance and political options." The document called for re-building the nation's middle class, adopting a reform policy and combating corruption, stressing that the Christians reject "auto-security" which leads to partitioning the nations.It also called for adopting a "national defense structure" that provides Lebanon with stability and could be a "force of deterrence against enemies" and facilitates the spread of state authority throughout Lebanon. The document listed two main threats directed against Lebanon and its Christians: Naturalization of Palestinian refugees and the monetary surplus being used in purchasing real estate and "changing its identity."It urged the Christians to adopt a path of "political resistance to safeguard their presence and role." Beirut, 03 Dec 07, 17:49

Murr: Berri Ready for Sponsoring Constitutional Amendment

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has adopted a "positive trend" towards amending the constitution to allow the election of Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman as president. The statement was made by MP Michel Murr after talks with Berri.
"A consensus candidate has emerged and we've reached a stage that could be final and requires some clarifications by the sides," Murr told reporters after his talks with Berri. "Speaker Berri is clear and his stand regarding nominating Gen. Suleiman is positive, and his stand also is positive regarding reaching a solution quickly to the constitutional amendment," Murr said. He stressed that "this (amendment) is not an obstacle and the speaker has the experience and knowledge that enable him to find a solution to overcome whatever is regarded an obstacle."Murr disclosed that "some consultations would be carried out today and tomorrow to speed up steps that should be followed as soon as possible." Such consultations, he explained, would be carried out "between the sides that seek to put into effect this consensus solution quickly." Murr did not elaborate on the remark, which could indicate that factions previously allied with the opposition are breaking away from the Hizbullah-led camp in favor of electing Gen. Suleiman.  Murr stressed that in line with the Taif accord "there can be no review of candidates for the post of prime minister because the new president would have to launch binding consultations that would name a premier." Beirut, 03 Dec 07, 18:52
Geagea accuses Opposition of Seeking to Maintain Presidential Vacuum
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Monday directed an accusing finger at the Hizbullah-led opposition, charging it is trying to block presidential elections.
Geagea made the accusation in a statement released by his press office after a telephone discussion with Premier Fouad Saniora at the latter's initiative.
The statement said Geagea "expressed to Premier Saniora his concern regarding intentions of the other side regarding presidential elections."
Geagea, according to the statement, informed Saniora of "primary indications reflecting a trend by the other side to maintain vacuum at the presidential office by proposing a parcel of conditions following the adoption by the March 14 forces of Gen. Michel Suleiman's nomination."
The two agreed on maintaining contacts to "overcome obstacles and difficulties facing presidential elections," the statement added without further elaboration.
Beirut, 03 Dec 07, 18:24

Annapolis Conference Paying Off For Assad
It's been barely a week since Syria joined the U.S.-sponsored peace conference, but the participation is already paying off for President Bashar Assad.
The Arab world is treating Damascus more warmly, the sharp criticism from Washington has tapered off and Syria is getting credit inside Iraq for a drop in cross-border infiltration of foreign fighters. Syria has not achieved its long-term goal, a resumption of negotiations with Israel that it hopes will win the return of the Golan Heights, seized by the Jewish state in 1967. So far, new talks are not being considered.
But on other fronts it has been smoother going for Damascus since the Nov. 27 gathering in Annapolis, Maryland.
In Lebanon, army commander that Syria approved nine years ago when it ran Lebanon, was edging closer to becoming the next president, after the anti-Syrian, U.S.-backed parliamentary majority dropped its candidates and backed him. The sharp about-face, which is expected to preserve Syrian interests in its neighbor, would not have been possible without the thaw in Syrian-U.S. relations. Analysts say Syria is not yet off the hook.
"The Annapolis conference opened a tight window for Damascus but in return is subjecting it to a series of tests, rather than incentives," wrote Sateh Noureddine over the weekend in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, seen as close to the pro-Syrian opposition.
Syria, meanwhile, stresses that it holds its own interests as priority. "We did not go to the conference to satisfy anyone," Suleiman Haddad, head of the Syrian parliament's foreign relations committee, said Monday. "The conference could have some repercussions which we could see in Lebanon today such as the easing of tensions," he told The Associated Press, but Syria went to Annapolis for the sake of the Golan and in support of international, collective action.
"We went out of faith and conviction that peace is the only choice," said Haddad, a former assistant foreign minister.
In any case, the Syrians are reaping the benefits with the breaking of its isolation by Western and Arab nations.
Syria's relations with America have long been tense over a string of issues -- particularly U.S. accusations over Damascus' meddling in Lebanon and Iraq and over Syria's human rights record.
But at Annapolis, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Meqdad had warm handshakes and did not hear any of the criticism directed at Damascus in the last few years. Two days later, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the Syrian participation shows "they understand that there is another pathway that they can choose to take, a more constructive pathway."
The Annapolis gathering was widely seen as in part aimed at isolating Iran by rallying moderates in the region behind a new push for Mideast peace. The U.S. has been hoping to drive a wedge between Syria and its longtime ally Iran, which opposed the conference.
Over the weekend, Syria sent Meqdad to Iran to reiterate Damascus' strong ties to Tehran, aiming to contain any strains its participation at Annapolis caused.
The voices from Syria's neighbor Iraq also are comforting. Damascus is now credited with taking steps to limit the flow of foreign militants into Iraq after years of being accused of allowing them across its border.
The U.S. second-in-command in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, reported a reduction of up to 30 percent in foreign fighters entering Iraq. "We think (the Syrians) they can do a bit more but we're pleased with the fact that they are taking some additional responsibility with their own internal security measures," he told CNN on Sunday.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has twice met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice earlier this year, a departure from America's policy of isolation Syria since 2005. During the past weeks, French President Nicolas Sarkozy twice spoke to Assad and has sent his chief of staff twice to the Syrian capital to discuss Lebanon. On the Arab front, Jordan's King Abdullah II visited Damascus before the Annapolis conference -- his first visit to Syria in four years.
Efforts are underway for a five-way summit that brings Syria together with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, according to Ibrahim Hamidy, who reports for the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and the LBC satellite TV.
The Damascus-based Hamidy said a Syrian envoy was expected to travel to Saudi Arabia, another country with which Damascus has had bad relations for the last year. Hamidy said isolating Syria proved to be a mistake. At the same time, Syria recognized that it cannot do without Arab solidarity, particularly since it is hosting the Arab League Summit in March, and concluded that it should not "provoke" the Bush administration in its last year in office.(AP) Beirut, 03 Dec 07, 21:40

American Mercenaries of Hezbollah
Published: December 3, 2007
John Hajjar, U.S. director for the World Council of the Cedars Revolution and
Tom Harb, Secretary General of the International Lebanese Committee for UN Security Council Resolution 1559
Back in September, a reporter for National Review Online and former Marine, W. Thomas Smith Jr. landed in Beirut and began a three-week journey to report about the deeper end of Hezbollah’s deployment. Smith wasn’t the only American or European journalist who had crossed the psychological-warfare defense lines of Hezbollah and filed stories about the real situation, but he was the first reporter who is now under heavy fire from Hezbollah propagandists and their American mercenaries for having “penetrated” the second line of defense of Iranian propaganda in Lebanon.
The first line is when a journalist asks for Hezbollah’s permission to cover the organization but fails to follow the party line in his or her stories. The punishment is usually not to be granted another permission to walk in Hezbollah’s zones. But to those who come closer to the organization’s buildings, observe closely their urban movements, and never ask for any permission, the punishment is capital. Top dogs are unleashed against such journalists for the “kill” -- the moral, professional and political kill. Smith is today in the cross hair of the “mercenaries” who in turn deliver the blows from Hezbollah’s propagandists.
It was a matter of, “Smith reported too much: Let’s get him.”
So who is doing the attacking?
The “mob”
Leading the charge is Thomas B. Edsall from The Huffington Post. Edsall enlists Michael Prothero and Chris Allbritton, two journalists who have no real Middle East training but who at least went to Lebanon, and filed articles from there.
But readers would be amazed to learn who these writers are, and at whose service are their pens. This is precisely where readers will begin to understand that the attacks on Smith are in fact at the “service” of Hezbollah. Edsall – eager to score points on his political enemies in American politics (Bush and the conservatives) and in a rush to settle some scores with The National Review -- hastily hired two members of Hezbollah’s media mob who are all over the Internet defending the Iranian-funded militia. Instead of succeeding in nailing some sort of “victory” over Smith’s daring reporting, Edsall has opened a Pandora’s box on himself, Mrs. Huffington, and on the hidden media mercenaries, now fully exposed to the readers’ scrutiny on aiding Hezbollah against its victims.
Why the attack?
Edsall wrote that “there is a growing dispute over the veracity of reporting from Lebanon by former Marine W. Thomas Smith, Jr. who is posting reports on his blog, The Tank, published by the conservative website, National Review Online (NRO).”
So here is the truth: NRO is a conservative web site, thus "it needs to be" attacked.
In his article, he wrote that he “contacted” the above-mentioned journalists, not the other way around. So we are to understand Edsall read Smith’s articles. He decided they were wrong –although he lacks the expertise to challenge that unless he has experts advising him - and thus decided to open a “file.” But my question is why did Edsall open fire first and on what grounds? Who contacted him and asked him to begin this action? He claims he contacted “experts” and asked them to check these reports. But who asked him to check the reports? Or was it that someone asked the reporters to contact him and run a story on Smith? And where is that mysterious monitoring desk? Is it in the U.S. or based in some quarters in southern Beirut?
Edsall goes on to say: “Smith is a supporter of the war in Iraq, and is affiliated with two politically conservative organizations.” How telling this is: Edsall is prosecuting Smith because Smith is a supporter of the War in Iraq and belongs to conservative organizations.
Edsall writes: “At question are two reports filed by Smith on The Tank -- reports which appear to be designed to bolster support for the ongoing presence of U.S troops in the Mideast.” So the issue is simple: regardless of their content, Smith’s blogs and articles are to be discredited because their author seems to encourage support for the ongoing presence of US troops in the Middle East. While any reasonable reader can’t see how reporting on Hezbollah in Beirut’s suburbs is connected to bolster US troops in Iraq, a seasoned analyst would immediately understand that the motive behind Edsall’s article is to weaken US presence in the region by discrediting those journalists who are exposing Hezbollah. The latter is an Iranian-backed organization, and Tehran’s first priority is to get US troops out of Iraq. A simple deduction process would tell any commonsense reader that Edsall is either playing the cards of the Iranian regime and Hezbollah, or he has been manipulated by pro-Hezbollah media who are aiding the propaganda of Hezbollah.
So called points of contention:
Edsall presents three points of contention:
1) Smith's September 29 report that between 4,000-5,000 Hezbollah gunmen had "deployed to the Christian areas of Beirut in an unsettling 'show of force.'
Research: Smith was reporting about the presence of thousands of Hezbollah militants who cross from the southern suburbs to East Beirut. After checking, we know these movements have been occurring for months, as hundreds –sometimes thousands - of Hezbollah supporters walk (and travel on motorcycles) from their neighborhoods to downtown Beirut to visit or replace the hundreds of militants who are camping in front of Prime Minister’s building. If these moves were not exciting for journalists Prothero and Allbritton, that is their problem. Not so for Smith who – according to his account - got this information from neighborhood watch teams in the East sector and from NGOs. It would have been more useful for Edsall to invite these witnesses to write about Hezbollah’s moves on Beirut’s streets instead of subcontracting two media sympathizers of Hezbollah to ratify these stories.
Then Edsall adds:
2) September 25 report that "some 200-plus heavily armed Hezbollah militiamen" occupied a "sprawling Hezbollah tent city" near the Lebanese parliament.
Edsall must be joking. Which part of this statement is he worried about? Is he rejecting the fact that 200 Hezbollah militiamen occupy downtown Beirut or is it that they may be armed? Well, first, he needs to spend more time watching CNN, the BBC, or al Jazeera to actually “see” that there is a tent city in Beirut, and that the occupiers were way more than 200 persons in September and October. Smith actually underreported. There are hundreds and sometimes more than a thousand present in that part of downtown. And when the Hezbollah coalition holds rallies, tens-of-thousands appear on TV. As to weapons, Edsall might read more reports on Lebanon and understand that Hezbollah is a militia that owns 20,000 missiles, and that its leaders have openly threatened to take the city center of Beirut. Hence, the militants who occupied downtown Beirut are armed and their weapons are hidden in their tents and in different locations. If journalists boast otherwise, they need to go there along with NGO and UN observers and enter these tents. Short of such investigative reporting, attacking Smith for daring to state the obvious, is an insult to common sense and to the Lebanese People who have been suffering from violence for too long.
Then Edsall claims:
3) In addition, Smith's critics contend that Smith's self-reported exploits – if true - endanger the press corps in the troubled region.
From all accusations this one is certainly the most ridiculous and uncovers the degree of collaboration between the accusers and the Hezbollah propaganda machine. For if a courageous American journalist goes freely wherever he wishes and was successful in reaching very close to Hezbollah’s military positions and writes about it, he should be treated as a hero by the press corps: not as badly as the crowd at the Huffington Post and their associates have done.
And if Prothero and Allbritton spend their time in Beirut cozying up to Hezbollah’s media department and filing stories in defense of the Iranian-funded militia, that is their choice, but not the choice of independent-minded US journalists who take risks to inform their readers about the real situation on the ground. Prothero and Allbriton do not represent the press corps nor do they represent professional journalism. They are friends of Hezbollah …
The accusers
Edsall wrote that he contacted four “well-regarded Middle East reporters,” who made accusations against Smith's journalism. Let’s review whom Edsall contacted for his campaign:
1) Mitchell Prothero, who is said to have reported for Fortune, the Washington Times, and Slate. Now, who is Prothero?
Answer: Prothero is a rabid anti-Israel, anti-American, anti-Lebanese journalist who was obviously assigned by Hezbollah the task of promoting the Iranian-funded organization as of Summer 2006. In an article published in Salon on July 20, 2006, titled "Killing a nation, one airstrike at a time: From Beirut to the Beqaa Valley to the south, Israel is methodically smashing Lebanon into the dust. A report from the ground," he promotes Hezbollah as a resistance movement and rails against the Lebanese population in general and the Christians in East Beirut in particular.
Prothero, writing with the style of his veteran Libanophobes of the 1980s, didn't understand that Christians, Sunnis, and Druze have come together against Hezbollah, or maybe he understood, but the Iranian Petrodollars were in action. On May 26, 2005, Prothero wrote a piece for the Washington Times (strangely) titled "Hezbollah warns against disarmament" in which he undermined the Cedars Revolution. Yet, he has the conservative newspaper in his CV to mislead readers about his neutrality.
Prothero has been accused in “letters to the editor” of being a staunch defender of Hezbollah and by pro-Jihadist readers as an advocate for their cause in Lebanon.
On July 28, 2006, Prothero wrote a piece for Salon to smash the "hiding among civilians myth" promoted by Israel.
He has been spending months in Beirut, according to Lebanese observers, living a good life.
Michael Totten, who spent weeks in Lebanon covering the conflict, exposes Prothero's bias. Lebanese and Western sources said they will be very happy to report to American readers what Prothero's "good life" is in Lebanon. All they need are visas and tickets to travel to Washington and hold a press conference at the National Press Club. Obviously, Prothero has neither Middle East studies training nor language skills to serve as an expert on the region or on Lebanon.
2) The second accuser is Chris Allbritton, who “has reported from the Middle East since 2002 for Time, Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Times, and the Newark Star-Ledger.
Allbritton is another anti-Bush, anti-Israel, anti-Lebanese journalist and Hezbollah-Jihadists sympathizer. No need for hyper-research. Just Google him and here you go:
Allbritton has written many pieces and has his opinions well-shaped. He attacks presidential candidates because they expose Islamist terrorism. He praises Syria as a serious player in the Middle East. He criticizes the Kurds in Iraq, and sees Iran as a partner for stabilization.
Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle on July 28, 2006, Allbritton said "87 percent of Lebanese said they support Hezbollah in its fight against Israel."
But the Lebanese majority in parliament has criticized Hezbollah for igniting a war without any authorization. It took some research to realize that the so-called Beirut Center for Research and Information he quoted is a Hezbollah front.
Oddly as Allbritton accuses Smith of lying about weapons being distributed in Beirut he wrote this:
The old weapons have been taken out, dusted and oiled up, and new weapons have been bought in alarming quantities," said Omar Nashabe, who writes on security issues for the opposition Al-Akhbar. "They are ready to burn the country again." Even private citizens are getting in on the action. In downtown Beirut this week, two armed drivers argued over the right of way on one of Beirut's many narrow streets. The argument ended with one of them shot dead. Hezbollah is preparing for something. Last weekend, the group staged a massive military exercise on both sides of the Litani River, south of which the group is not supposed to wander while armed. So, the fighters didn't carry weapons when they cross the river. Both Israeli military observers and members of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) watched the exercise, which was personally overseen by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.
So Allbritton denies Smith the right to "talk about it," because perhaps he wants to talk "about it"?
Writing in the Columbia Journalism Review under the title "Lifting the Cover of the Hezbollah PR Effort" on July 27, 2006, Paul McLeary describes how Albritton admitted that Hezbollah controls the journalists in Beirut, but omitted to state how he (Albritton) and the Hezbollah media guys are friendly. Last but not least, see whose sites link with him: Electronic Intifada, the pro-Jihadist website, antiwar, and none other than the chief apologist for Hezbollah, Iran, Syria and other terrorists, Juan Cole. So the bottom line is this witness from Beirut is nothing more than a "friend" to Hezbollah.
3) A third “accuser” is presented as a “reporter for a major U.S. magazine, who did not want his name used because he did not want to become involved in a journalistic controversy.” Yet an anonymous source would be used in an attempt to destroy Smith’s credibility and crush his message?
4) Even more incredible is Edsall’s reckless attempt to convince his readers with yet a fourth “accuser,” also anonymous.
Let’s follow the arguments just to understand these serious propaganda tactics:
Prothero writes: "In his [Smith's] wildly entertaining postings, he describes kidnap attempts, an armed incursion into Christian East Beirut by 5,000 armed Hezbollah fighters that was missed by every journalist in town, he also notes the presence of 200 armed Hezbollah fighters in downtown Beirut 'laying siege' to the prime ministers office, recounts high-speed car chases and 'armed recon operations' where he drives around south Beirut taking pictures of Hezbollah installations, while carrying weapons. In a word, this is all insane."
Prothero wants US readers to be convinced that all this chaos doesn’t exist and everything is just great in Lebanon. Obviously, while even CNN and al Jazeera show the downtown siege to Seniora’s offices, Prothero prefers the company of a nice Aoun press secretary to chat about the General’s future. He doesn’t need to be careful as he drives around Hezbollah’s buildings as he enters them accompanied with Hezbollah militia escort. He has no need for weapons as his Hezbollah bodyguards have very advanced ones. So why would Prothero care?
Allbritton said Smith is a “fabulist.” He quotes him saying “4,000 Hezbollah gunmen took over East Beirut at the end of September.”
Obviously that didn’t happen: a military invasion of the city didn’t happen, yet. Nor did Smith say or suggest that anyone “took over” East Beirut.
Allbritton misquoted Smith – got his facts wrong -- nor did he explain what Hezbollah was doing.
What he has done in fact has been to cover up preemptively for what Hezbollah has threatened to do. It is odd that Smith reported that thousands of Hezbollah had been walking throughout Beirut, and Allbritton didn’t even notice. But odder is that Allbritton has been describing left and right that militiamen have been seen all over the city. Go figure.
Edsall unleashes his “secret journalist testimony.”
He writes on the behalf of the “third musketeer”: "Mr. Smith also says that 4,000 armed Hezbollah fighters took up positions in East Beirut one day this fall in a 'show of force'. This would have been a major international news event and possibly the start of the next Lebanese civil war. In January, unarmed opposition supporters led by Hezbollah shut down roads in Beirut, and the event sparked riots and led the news all over the world. And yet, Mr. Smith is the only journalist in Lebanon to have found this story, as far as I know. So why, with such a major scoop in his hands, does Smith devote just a few lines in a blog post to it? Because it never happened."
Edsall (or his ghost writer) misquotes Smith and creates a second story. There was no half-division of Hezbollah taking over Beirut for one day. Smith never said so. There were Hezbollah militants walking around the city. Smith might have been more specific in his description, but Edsall and his crowd must stop fabricating new ones. True, there was no Hezbollah division marching in Beirut – Smith never suggested there was -- but what Hezbollah’s friends refuse to report to their readers in the US is that a militia has indeed deployed in downtown. Smith’s military slang description of what took place in late September angered Hezbollah, because it probably preempted their real plans already visible on the streets.
Edsall then unleashes his second unnamed phantom from the “region” who allegedly emailed:

“This guy is hilarious. Armed Hezbollah at the Serail? He must be mistaking the Lebanese army at the gates - those 200 in the tents are some middle class Hezbollees - who now come once a week to have a smoke with their friends and get away from their wives."
Now that, dear readers, is a Hezbollah operative’s talk. All Western and Lebanese security reporting estimates the occupiers in downtown at about a thousand. Counterterrorism experts out of the region estimate the capacity of the downtown camp to mobilize and seize the Prime Minister’s offices at 6 hours, with one brigade from Hezbollah taking downtown. But the media friends of Hezbollah, especially the unnamed sources cited by the Huffington writer, wants the world to believe otherwise. Of course, they don’t want their foes to be ready for the confrontation.
Why Are The Pro-Hezbollah people offended?
Edsall says the four musketeers were frustrated that Smith snatched a Hezbollah flag.
Well, that shows their feeling for Hezbollah…so what?
Allbritton wrote that “by openly bragging about how he conducts 'reconnaissance' on Hezbollah 'strongholds' and describing what weapons he's carrying, he's making it difficult for every journalist here to do his or her job. We're all under suspicion anyway, and his public cowboying doesn't help at all."
Oh please, a cowboy snatching a flag from Nasrallah will make lives more difficult to journalists who are living in Lebanon and whose passports are already with the organization? Who are we kidding here? And what job are these Hezbollah accredited journalists doing? Defending Hezbollah’s image? Hiding information about the organization? Where is the reporting about the Iranian Pasdaran walking around in Nabartieh, Tyre, Baalbeck and the 20,000 missiles? Why aren’t these American journalists visiting the Syrian-Lebanese borders – like Smith courageously did - and reporting from there? Where is their investigative work on the assassination of many Lebanese legislators? All their job seems to be is to rail against the Cedars Revolution and praise the achievements of Hezbollah, warning about its disarming.
“Demonization” of Smith
The bottom line is crystal clear: There is a lynch mob out to demonize Smith for having dared to play “cowboy” in Beirut and snatch a flag from the terrorists. Edsall, Prothero and Allbritton are to be condemned for what they wrote and ought to apologize to Smith for trying to destroy him and his reputation.
Otherwise the bloggers and readers will expose their work. Smith is a hero who had the courage to write about things which are taboo to write about in Lebanon. Perhaps he could abandon slang descriptions, especially as the vultures are circling.
Let it be understood that journalists can and should explore all published pieces for their veracity and credibility. Smith’s pieces are no exception. But to have writers tear him apart in defense of Hezbollah is neither acceptable nor professional. Today’s journalists stationed in Lebanon – unlike in the 1980s and the 1990s - must realize that they don’t have an open field in disinformation. For every citizen today can be and is a journalist. With the internet, YouTube and blogging, no more big boys can impose a party line anymore. Cartels are broken even for the mainstream media. You have your blog and I have mine. You mess with me and I’ll mess with you, and cyberspace has no limit.
So it’s best not to play with the truth: you won’t get away with it.
# #
Tom Harb is secretary general of the International Lebanese Committee for UN Security Council Resolution 1559 and John Hajjar is U.S. director for the World Council of the Cedars Revolution.
If you are a reporter or producer who is interested in receiving more information about this writer or this article, please email your request to
Note -- The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, and/or philosophy of The Family Security Foundation, Inc.

Meeting Abu Arz

written by: Manuela Paraipan, 03-Dec-07
At the suggestion and direct support of Dr. Hitti, whom I consider by now to be a trustworthy friend, I went to Cyprus to meet Abu Arz (Etienne Saqre). Abu Arz is a living legend. As with any legend he is also controversial. I read all that I could about him before meeting him, but what I expected was much different from what I experienced. The conclusion of most of my readings was that Abu Arz is an extremist Christian military leader who fell into the state's disgrace for having a relationship with Israel. Nothing could be further from the truth. I found a man who deeply cares and misses his country and wishes to be allowed to go back.

Abu Arz did what others did. When all refused to help Lebanon, Israel did not. In the interview he explains the circumstances as to why he and other Christian leaders started their partnership with Israel. Those who condemn him should look at the bigger picture. Israel was Lebanon's last chance when the West and the East chose to look the other way. Abu Arz is part of Lebanon's recent history and people should pay attention to what he is saying.

It is not that he holds the absolute truth (who does?), but he was part of what happened since the 1970s and he personally knows today's leaders. Maybe this is the reason why he is still condemned to years in prison and death while others who were his friends and allies enjoy high-ranking positions.

Regardless of his views or the ideology of the Guardians of Cedars, people owe him respect for trying his best to defend his homeland. Others in his shoes would have run away as fast as possible or would have sided with the winners. Actually, some did just that.

In my second day in Cyprus I called Abu Arz early in the morning to ask when we could meet for the interview. I was a little bit nervous. After all, he is Abu Arz. He was actually waiting for my call and we established to meet an hour later in a hotel lobby. He sent a driver to bring me there - very courteous. When I arrived, he was in front of the entrance waiting. As we shook hands I felt this was going to be one of the most interesting meetings ever. After sitting down at a table he asked about the publication I work for. I told him more about WSN and about my recent project from Lebanon.

During all this time he kept his sunglasses on. Those who studied psychology in high school or university know that this is a barrier. I trusted that he would lower the guard once he felt comfortable enough talking to me. I was right. Talking about his home country had a positive impact. We talked for hours. If as a military leader he was respected he could just as easily have had a prodigious career as a history professor. One thing I noticed years ago in Lebanon is that history can be rewritten depending upon the person one speaks with. The Orwellian way. It shows that society is divided and that the younger generations know half-truths. Later in the afternoon when we met again, Abu Arz brought a map of Lebanon to illustrate his views. I liked that. No doubt his enthusiasm impressed me.

I left Abu Arz hoping to see him again in the near future. Wouldn't it be a miracle if next time we see each other it would be in Lebanon and not Cyprus? I am glad I met yet another brilliant and brave Lebanese. This time one who gave up everything for his country.

"Lebanon is our sacred cause"

WSN: You are persona non-grata in Lebanon. Actually you were sentenced to prison and death.

ABU ARZ: Because of the Syrians. One sentence was to death and several others to prison time. Because I am a friend to Israel.

WSN: How would you describe your friendship with Israel? What does that mean?

AA: You want the whole story?

WSN: Yes, of course.

AA: I am going to be frank. I am known in Lebanon for saying what I think. I am not a coward who hides what I believe in. I will tell you the whole story. Let us start at the beginning, in 1975. The war started and everyone said it was a civil war. It was not a civil war. I want to tell you something. Of everything they told you in Lebanon, let us say 90% is wrong. They lie. They tell you things in a different way. There is a lot of misunderstanding so people are confused. How can you say about the war that it was a civil one when the Palestinians and the Syrians were involved?

WSN: How did it start?

AA: The war started between Arafat and the PLO and all terrorist organizations around the world that were backing the PLO, and I will give you names. They were against us, the Lebanese and especially against the Christians. It started like this. With Arafat there was all the PLO. There were six or seven organizations, plus the terrorist organizations from other parts of the world. The Red Army was there; Carlos was there, the Italian Brigade, mercenaries from Bangladesh, Pakistan and others. They all came to fight with Arafat against the few Christian people. At that time the army vanished. It went home. We did not have an army like today. And who was backing Arafat? The whole Arab world: Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, and Egypt - all of them.

WSN: Why did they back Arafat? What did they hope to accomplish?

AA: The plan was... You have to know it to understand what is happening today in Lebanon. If you do not know the past, you cannot understand the present. It is all linked together. The whole Arab world supported Arafat. He had billions of dollars in his name and he was giving money to Syria. He was that rich. Where did he get the money? From the Gulf.

WSN: What exactly was the plan?

AA: The plan was to push the Christians out of Lebanon and to settle the Palestinians there. The idea was to have a Palestinian state in Lebanon, and part of Lebanon was to be annexed to Syria.

I cannot forget this. I don't know if anyone told you. Suleiman Frangieh was president in 1976. At that time America was against us.

WSN: Why this policy?

AA: Because Saudi Arabia was the cornerstone of the US foreign policy. John Gunther Dean came from the US on behalf of Ronald Reagan and he met Frangieh. He told him that we could not win the war. He asked, how many Christians are in Lebanon? One million? We are ready to take you all in the US and Canada, to send as many ships as needed. Frangieh said that we were not going to leave and he told Dean that he could go back to his country because we were going to fight.

He called us and he told us what happened. It was a conspiracy. The whole world was against us. The goal of Saudi Arabia was the Islamization of Lebanon. This was the situation. Without an army, Bachir Gemayel, Dany Chamoun and myself had to form an army in 24 hours. It was an army of young people, 16, 17, 20 years old.

We started to fight with hunting weapons. In 1½ years, we had our victory. Everybody was shocked. We were shocked. We did not believe what we did. Some people from the US, let's say from the CIA came to the minister of defense and told some officers who were still there that we could not win the war. It was 1 to 6: One chance for us, six for the Palestinians. This is the truth. But the 1 won against the 6. We were defending our land, our homes. We fought with feelings. We have it from our grandfathers. Our ancestors fought for Lebanon. We never fought outside Lebanon in our whole history.

WSN: What happened afterwards?

AA: We won and we cleaned all the Christian areas of Palestinians, especially the Tel Zaatar camp. If you ask in Lebanon who was the main group that liberated Tel Zaatar they'll tell you it was ours.

President Camille Chamoun told me to go and take a small camp and I said no, we'll go to Tel Zaatar. He asked: can you, can you? Nahr el Bared is nothing. It is a small camp. Tel Zaatar was the biggest and the strongest one. At that time we started to establish contacts with Israel.

When the whole world is against you, you don't have any choice but to find somebody to give you weapons. That is how our relations started. The first people who went to Israel were the Kataeb, Bachir Gemayel, Pierre Gemayel, Amine Gemayel, the Tanzim, then Al Ahrar – Dany and Camille Chamoun. I was the last one to go. The last one. They said that they were ready to help us. I met Prime Minister Menachem Begin and I told him to look at our history. We never lost, proof that we are still in Lebanon. If you help us we can win quickly.

If you don't help us we will still win, but only in the long run. I want to know if you have any ambitions in Lebanon. If you want land, water, something. I won't forget this. He was clear and frank. He said, look my friend we don't want anything from Lebanon. You can believe me, this is the policy of Israel. Proof is that they left. But they did not leave the Golan because they want a part of it. In 1976 -1977 we had an agreement. He told me this – we don't have borders with the Arab world, only with Lebanon we have official borders and if we sign an agreement with you we will respect it. We don't want any centimeter of land from Lebanon. We have water. If in the future we will need water we don't have to invade Lebanon. We can make a deal with the Lebanese government and we make projects and all the water instead of going to the sea – you can give part of it to the South, because the South is thirsty and what is left can be for us. But that is in the future and only if the need arises. We don't need to make war for water. I asked him about the Palestinians and he said they didn’t want them in Lebanon because if they were further away it would be better for them. He said that their policy was to put them as far away as possible. As long as they are on the borders they'll continue to make problems. And they did not want to settle them in Lebanon. I asked him about the Syrians. In '77 the Syrians came to Lebanon and we'll go back to this subject. He asked me, why did you let the Syrians in? In return I asked him the same question. Begin said that he told the Americans that Syria was Israel's number one enemy and if Syria comes to Lebanon it would also be dangerous for them. They did not accept it. The Americans said that when the Maronite leaders accept, Israel cannot say no. All the Maronites leaders agreed, so what could Israel do?

WSN: What did you do?

AA: I was the only one who did not accept the Syrians. I held a press conference and afterwards I went to the mountains with all my soldiers and the weapons and I started to fight the Syrians. I was the only one who refused them in '76. Begin told the Americans that if the Maronites want the Syrians, fine. But from the Litani they don't accept the Syrian presence. At the Litani they have to stop. This was the deal. This is why the Syrians did not go to the South.

This is how the relationship began between us. In '76 we finished Tel Zaatar. It was a big victory. We killed many Japanese in Tel Zaatar and near the camp. By that time, they elected Elias Sarkis as president.

When the plan of Saudi Arabia failed through the Palestinians, they called for the Arab Summit in Riyadh in '76 and they decided to send the Arab deterrent forces. Look what kind of bluff! They told the whole world that they sent these forces to stop the civil war in

Lebanon. So there was a civil war between the Palestinians and us. What a pretense! Everyone agreed. They sent the Arabs. What was this force? The biggest lie in history. There were 40,000 Syrian soldiers and a few hundred Arabs from the Golf, Jordan etc. It was a camouflage. After a few months, the latter withdrew and the Syrians remained in Lebanon for 30 years. They were sent by the Saudis and by the whole world. The Syrian occupation of Lebanon was backed by the Arabs, the US and others.

They gave Syria time to destroy Lebanon. To destroy the institutions, to take the money, democracy - everything. 30 years of occupation by our first enemy and no one did a thing.

In 1978 I was still in the mountains. Bachir and Camille Chamoun came to me. Can you imagine that the Greeks asked the Turks to come and stop the war? I was upset. We started to fight the Syrians in 1977 and in 1978 we had the big war. I went to my headquarters in Achrafieh and we surrounded the buildings and started to sniper them. We were listening to them on the radio saying that they wanted to surrender. It was silly of them to go into the towns because they were easy targets. In the end, they decided to quit. The Syrian army’s special forces left the Christian areas.

WSN: The Christian areas of Beirut?

AA: From Achrafieh to the Cedars. They left. But afterwards Hafiz Assad gave the orders to shell the Christian areas day and night. He took his revenge. We the Christians are dynamic people, so we rebuilt everything. We had to clean our areas two times - once of the Palestinians and once of the Syrians for the mistakes made by our politicians. Now we are going to speak about the politicians and how corrupt they are. Especially the Maronites, and I am also a Maronite.

Bachir was making his way to becoming the first man and Israel was in Lebanon and sent us weapons and trained our people. They trained thousands of people, from Kataeb, Ahrar and Guardians of the Cedars. This continued until 1982. In 1982 the Palestinians in Southern Lebanon started to shell Israel. Sharon was Minister of Defense and Begin Prime Minister, so two strong personalities.

It was our last chance to rescue Lebanon from the Syrians and the Palestinians. Israel came and put the Syrians out and they ousted 10,000 Palestinian terrorists from Lebanon. Philip Habib came here and made the negotiations.

WSN: Very tense times. What happened next?

AA: Bachir did not want to continue with Israel because Pierre Gemayel was against Israel. He was afraid of the Arab states. He always said that we shouldn’t open one door and close 22. It was not doors that were kept open; it was hell. The Syrians killed Bachir. Amine came and our relationship stopped. They made the negotiations, the 17 May agreement. It was a deception. It went on for 3 months. David Kimche was director and he came to me every time to brief me about what happened. I told him that Amine would not sign.

When they finished the agreement they sent it to the parliament. The parliament voted for the agreement but I still said he was not going to sign. I was right. Amine let 60 days pass and the agreement was nullified.

Israel had to leave. That was what Syria and Assad waited for. Iran and Hizbollah started operations in Baalbeck against the Israeli army; the US was forced to go back and our dreams were finished.

Syria came back to Lebanon. It was as if Assad had kidnapped a child that was rescued by Israel and after that the child went to Assad and asked: Please kidnap me again. This is what happened from 1982 until recently.

This was the colossal mistake of the Gemayel family. They canceled the 17 May Agreement when the whole parliament, the Muslims before the Christians voted for it. The Knesset voted for it, by majority, in Lebanon it was unanimously. I think all the killings and all the crimes that took place after the 1982 happened because of this big, big mistake. The war would have been finished. So this was our relationship with Israel.

WSN: Tell me about your visit to the US.

AA: I went to the US because Arafat was very strong back then, a very wealthy man paying for PR. Public opinion in the US at the time was saying that Israel may have committed crimes and atrocities. So I went on TV and radio to say that this was not true. They should have come and seen what the Palestinians and the Syrians did in Lebanon. The people they assassinated in Damour and other places. They did not know about those who were massacred. Now they speak only about Sabra and Shatila. It is like in 30 years there were no other atrocities committed other than Sabra and Shatila.

WSN: There were other massacres as well.

AA: I was the first one to enter Shekka, and I saw what they did. In one small kitchen three women were murdered and a small boy killed with a bullet in the head. They then threw the boy from the window. I buried them. Not one journalist was there, no media, nothing.

Another mistake committed by the Gemayels was to send the Lebanese Forces to the Chouf in 1984 to fight against the Druze. It was a great mistake. The Israelis came to us and said that we would lose, they had to leave and that we should not do it. Israel left and the war started. The Palestinians and the Syrians came back to Beirut and it was a catastrophe. We lost the Chouf. In 1985 the fight started between Hobeika and Geagea, between Kataeb and the Lebanese Forces. Why am I telling you that the Maronites are more corrupt than others? Because they are killing each other and now they are preparing for another fight between Geagea and Aoun. They are getting weapons. The Druze, Sunnis and Shias are not doing this. Only the Christians and the Maronites are doing this.

In 1986 - 1987 we formed the new Lebanese Front. Bachir died and Camille Chamoun was still alive and they asked me to join it. I went to the Lebanese Front and after that the problems started between Geagea and Aoun. What was the result? A catastrophe. A brother fighting against a brother, a cousin against a cousin. Aoun lost. Geagea won but after two years he went to jail and Aoun went to France.

Geagea made two mistakes. He accepted the Taef Agreement, which is a disaster for us.

WSN: Why did he do it?

AA: Because he wanted to get the support of all the Christian ministers.

Also, the Patriarch accepted the Taef. Look what kind of idiocy. The Taef Agreement transferred the prerogatives of the president to the prime minister. How could the Maronite Patriarch accept this? Just to tell you about the Maronite leaders, civil and otherwise: All are corrupt. Why are the Christians now weak? It is of their own doing and not because of the Muslims.

Geagea's second mistake was that he sold all the weapons of the Christians.

WSN: To whom?

AA: He sent the tanks to Israel, and the rest was sent to various places in the world. There is a lot of mafia. I don't know where the money is. But all our weapons were gone. We bought them, Bachir and I, with money from our pockets. Geagea came later. Look at Hassan Nasrallah. He is not ready to give away one bullet and this man sold all the weapons of the Christians. This is Samir Geagea.

Now they are fighting for this position, the presidency, which is nothing. Like a chair with only one leg. And they are fighting for one leg.

After this fight between Geagea and Aoun, he came and took our headquarters I was at home under arrest.

WSN: Who put you under arrest?

AA: He sent his people to keep me there. After two months the agreement was that I have to leave. I came to Cyprus. From Cyprus to Israel and from Israel I decided to go to Jezzine. We lost our Christian areas in Beirut but we still had Jezzine and the South. I thought that I should go back and continue to fight against Hizbollah, Syria and its proxies. I built my new headquarters in Jezzine. I sent the majority of my people to the South Lebanon Army (SLA) because I could not pay them.

We started to fight politically and military against Syria and Hizbollah. At that time, Syria asked the Justice Court to give me 7 – 10 years or a life sentence. That's why I have the sentences. In 2000, the Israelis decided to withdraw. This was another mistake. A stupidity.

They decided to leave and I think that it was an agreement between them and Hizbollah. It was obviously an agreement on behalf of the SLA. Hizbollah, the Israelis and the SLA were there and not one bullet was shot. The SLA left and Hizbollah came in. Unbelievable! What a price we all paid.

WSN: Did you have to leave as well?

AA: During the withdrawal I was the last person to leave. I did not want to. At around 11 o'clock in the morning, everybody was out. I was still at home with some of my bodyguards. I did not want to run away and they were calling me to go. The last one to call me was the Maronite Bishop who is now in Jerusalem. He said that it is suicide and that I have to leave. I left at 6 o'clock in the evening.

WSN: What about the people who were part of the SLA?

AA: We have thousands of people in Israel. Some left families in Lebanon and when they want to meet they come to Cyprus. I have a friend, one of my soldiers who had a commanding position, he left his daughter at the age of 10 and now she is 17. What a high price for families to pay. I am here. I refuse to stay in Israel. I went to the Knesset and made a speech. I told them that they stabbed us in the back. I still have the speech. It was a strong one. They were writing in the Israeli papers about the Lebanese refugees. I told them that we don't accept being called refugees; we are your friends and allies. We don't want you to call us like this.

WSN: Why do you think they made the agreement with Hizbollah? It was not in their interest in the long run.

AA: I will tell you why they withdrew:

1) Hizbollah was fighting them and they were losing 1 – 2 soldiers every month;

2) They always said they did not want anything from Lebanon

3) The most important reason: There was a group of four women called the four mothers and this group was calling everyday at the newspapers and all the papers are left side, and the slogan was, get our boys from Lebanon.

This movement became very popular. At this time, the elections in Israel were between Netanyahu and Barak. Barak said that if elected he would withdraw from Lebanon. So they voted for him because of this movement.

Also the commander of the SLA was a bad one, Antoine Lahd. He was running after the money, millions of dollars. He did not care about the soldiers. When you are fighting you either follow the cause and don't get the money, or you follow the money and lose the cause. This man was following the money as the Maronite leaders of Lebanon. They want power and money and they lost the cause.

WSN: It must be very difficult to be away from your country and family.

AA: It is difficult. My family comes here on holidays. This is the story. The sad story of Lebanon. We could have won easily. There was no reason to lose. We lost because of our leaders.

WSN: Since you are here, do you still have connections in the country?

AA: Of course. My people are there. For 20 years they worked underground. They were persecuted by the Syrians. Now we have two offices - in Batroun and in Sin el Fil. We are working, we are active. But I am out of the country and it is not the same thing.

WSN: How do you explain this long-term crisis in Lebanon?

AA: Lebanon has more than one enemy. The primary enemies of Lebanon are the politicians, Christians, Muslims and Druze. Those who are now the majority and vocal against Syria were the puppets of Syria. All of them. Abdel-Halim Haddam, the former Vice President of Syria said on more than one occasion that Hariri was the Foreign Minister of Syria. It is true. When the US decided to put Hizbollah on the terrorist list, Hizbollah asked for Hariri's help and he went to Europe – in particular to France, and he did his best to impede the Europeans to do as the Americans did. Hizbollah is not on the EU terror list. It is because of Hariri and they killed him. Now his son is against Syria. As for our Christians, Boutros Harb is now a candidate for president and he was begging Syria to nominate him as president.

WSN: What about Nassib Lahoud?

AA: He is a weak man.

WSN: And General Aoun?

AA: I do not think he has a chance. I see that we'll have two governments. What kind of agreement can they reach? The conflict is very deep. Everybody is in it for himself, to keep his power, army etc. If they find a neutral one it will be worse.

WSN: Why do you think so?

AA: He won't be able to do anything. He will try to please everybody, but not Lebanon. You want to please Nasrallah, Aoun and Hariri, so what can you do? We need somebody to please Lebanon, to rebuild Lebanon to disarm the Palestinians and Hizbollah. We need a statesman not a politician. There is a significant difference. A man of courage, an extraordinary man for an extraordinary crisis. If we fail to find him the crisis will go on for years to come. We need a De Gaulle.

We have a system in Lebanon with a lot of corruption. We have feudalism, the same people in high positions. They work for their own well being, not for that of Lebanon. The proof is that the country is dying.

Seniora has been head of government for two years now. What has he achieved? Nothing. Before they said that Syria is the problem and that's why they cannot fix electricity, the water problem, the high price of the mobile services, etc. Syrians are out. What did they do? Are the

Syrians still taking money from the Lebanese? If they aren't, then why are these high costs not being reduced?

WSN: What is your opinion about the EU and the US offer to mediate the crisis?

AA: It is good. But they cannot do what the government is not doing. The government should ask the army to protect the border with Syria or ask the UN to do it. They do not dare ask for this.

WSN: Are they still afraid of Syria?

AA: Of course. No one asks where Fatah al-Islam got the weapons from. The Holy Spirit?

WSN: Any solution in sight? What can the people do?

AA: We have the best people in the world, but they don't have real leaders. They have fake ones. People don't make the rules. They need a real leader to take the right actions. There is anxiety and fear because you don't know where a bomb may explode next. People are trying to survive.

WSN: Can a solution be found when Lebanon has parliamentary elections?

AA: No, because the same people will come back. Maybe the situation will change once the context in the region changes. When Hariri was prime minister he impoverished the country. He claimed things were working well. We now have a huge debt. Where did the money go? Who is to blame for this? If you ask me, it is the same plan today. Get the money, impoverish the country, push out the Christians and settle the Palestinians.

WSN: Would the Shias accept it?

AA: I don't think so, but if they lose the war they will be forced to accept. Seems like an endless problem unless we have this man who can say no to Syria, no to Saudi Arabia, no to Iran and yes to Lebanon.

WSN: The ideology of your party, the Guardians of Cedars ( speaks of Lebanon as being Lebanese. Could you brief me about it?

AA: We are not Arabs. Last year my people in Lebanon had a press conference saying exactly that. The next day Siniora sent them (a poet, lawyer and a journalist) to jail for two months and two days because they said Lebanon is not an Arab state. This was their crime. It was nothing they could accuse them of, but still they did not release them. The judge was pressured not to release them. Our big enemy is Arabism. Arabism is the first step toward the Islamization of Lebanon. The ambition of the Saudis is not only to Islamicize Lebanon but also the whole world. I read last week that in Germany 4,000 people converted to Islam. They plant these mosques everywhere and they send preachers to incite the people to Jihad. This was so in Indonesia, so was Malaysia. Who was behind the Islamic movement from day one? They went to the US and hit them inside. You see enemies such as Iran and Syria. But Saudi Arabia is hidden.

WSN: But it is there?

AA: It is strongly there.

WSN: Aren't the Christians aware of it?

AA: If they send them money, they won't bother looking at or thinking about the big picture. This is why I am out. If I go now they'll kill me the next day. If I say there what I am saying to you, they'll kill me the next day. And if I go and won't say it, I am not myself.

They accuse me of being a friend to Israel but what more did I do than the Gemayel family or the Chamoun family? I did what I did and it was to defend all of us. What's wrong with that? Someone tries to kill you. Where do you go? We were trying to defend ourselves at any cost. Ask for weapons from the Arabs? They sent weapons to kill us.

This was the only way and the Israelis were the only people who wanted to help us. Begin asked, where are the Christian nations, the big nations to help you? They were not persecuted and don't know how that is. But we (Jews) were persecuted and we know the meaning of it. We feel it and that's why we are going to help you. Go and fight for Lebanon, he said.

WSN: What did the Vatican do?

AA: They sent us their blessings. They said they were praying for us. We needed money and weapons. The Patriarch did the same thing. A very sad story.

WSN: It looks like a complicated story.

AA: Its simple. It’s not complex.

You have Lebanon here, the Arabs want to annex Lebanon, and for that they had to push the Christians out, this was the plan since 1975. They sent Arafat and he failed. They sent Syria for 30 years and they destroyed Lebanon. And now the plan is going on with these politicians who are loyal to all except Lebanon.
We have to get back to our national cause. This is a sacred cause for me and for others. We have to do everything we can for it. We cannot stop. This is our country.
WSN: Thank you sir for meeting me and for sharing your thoughts.

Exploring the Axis of Evil
Tom Ordeman, Jr.
Published: December 4, 2007
Some infidels are better than others. The likes of al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and other Islamist terrorist groups swear to keep fighting until all confess that there is one God, and Muhammed is his prophet; however, these groups have shown themselves to be remarkably willing to work with individuals, nations, and groups that show no interest in converting to Islam. Although the primary motivator for terrorists and those who support them is and remains a dedication to extremist Islam, the existence and extent of the Axis of Evil should not be underestimated.
Some commentators and pundits have claimed over the course of the last several years that the "Axis of Evil" was an impossible construct. After all, Sunnis and Shi'is could not work together; Islamists and secular Baathists could never cooperate; Arabs and Persians loathed each other beyond the point of collaboration – and these examples were merely within Islamic society! These incompatibilities say nothing of the impossibility of collaboration with Asian Communists, or European nationalists, or narco-terrorists. Just as the claim that "the Civil War was about slavery" is a gross oversimplification, these assertions ignore both history and evidence. Focusing solely on the last 30 years, a geographic flow chart of terrorist organizations, state sponsors of terrorism, and their allies vaguely resembles a diagram depicting the regular flights of a mid-sized airline – it's that complex.
Passing review of major media outlets will quickly reveal that one of the most egregious state sponsors of terrorism is the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran, which is Shi'i in religious persuasion and majority Persian in ethnicity, founded Hezbollah (which is Shi'i and Arab) in Lebanon in the mid-1980s. In addition to the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing (which killed more than 300, including 241 American military personnel), Hezbollah and its precursors have launched attacks against Israel and operated a criminal network in the United States in order to raise funds. Hezbollah has also trained members of the Shi'i militias within Iraqi borders.
Hezbollah trained and collaborated with the Provisional Irish Republican Army (Provos) terrorists in the 1980s, and "may continue to do so. Hezbollah, among other groups like Hamas and possibly al Qaeda, maintains operations in Venezuela, as well as in the "tri-border" region that joins Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, and Paraguay. The possibility also exists that Hezbollah and other Islamist terror groups have trained and cooperated with such narco-terrorists as FARC and the ELN in Colombia. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have made a point of publicizing their countries' close ties in the last few months.
Iran is also well known for having armed the Jaish al Mahdi Militia (JAM), a Shi'i insurgent organization in Iraq, providing Katyusha and Kassam rockets, mortar training, sniper rifles, and the notorious explosively-formed penetrators (EFPs) that are capable of penetrating tank armor (although American military leaders have acknowledged a recent decline or stoppage in Iranian weapons smuggling into Iraq). The leader of the JAM, the notorious Moqtada al Sadr, has even taken refuge in Iran in the past, possibly in order to confer with his Iranian allies.(Fox, ABC)
American military leaders have also accused Iran of aiding the Taliban on several occasions, (Reuters, AP, BBC) citing intercepted shipments of weapons that could be credibly traced back to Iran. This is only one example of Shi'i, Persian, and Islamist Iran working with Sunnis (primarily Pashtuns in the case of the Taliban). Iran has also pledged financial support to Hamas (BBC, VOA), and works closely with Sunni, Arab, Baathist (secular) Syria. (BBC, Fox)
Syria itself is a supporter of terrorist organizations. Syria shelters the leader of Hamas' militant wing, and is believed to provide either active or passive sanctuary for weapons shipments from Iran to Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. Syria has offered its own public support to both Hamas and Hezbollah. Whether done in cooperation with Hezbollah, or carried out solely through the efforts of Syrian intelligence agents, Syria is widely believed to have carried out the massive car bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February of 2005. Subsequent assassinations of anti-Syrian politicians in Lebanon have included Antoine Ghanim in September of 2007, Pierre Gemayel in November of 2006, and several others.
Although Syria has apparently worked to tighten its border control, the Syrian government provided assistance for foreign fighters in Iraq in the past by maintaining porous borders. The complexity of Iraq's internal divisions between Sunnis, Shi'is, Baathists, Kurds, Arabs, and other groups (some of which overlap) makes it difficult to determine which groups have received training and support from or within Syria, but the evidence and accusations of Syrian support for terrorism in Iraq exist. (NY Times, ABC)
A great deal of media attention has been paid since early September to an Israeli air strike deep in Syrian territory. Syria claims that the Israelis hit a vacant, derelict building. The Israeli government has been relatively quiet, barely acknowledging that the air strike took place at all. Subsequent evidence has emerged that Syria may have been building a clandestine nuclear program with the help of North Korea and Iran (Times, Fox), and that the site was discovered by Israeli intelligence and destroyed. North Korea has collaborated with Iran on ballistic missile development in the past, and reports indicate that North Korea may also be assisting with Iran's nuclear program.
Outside the Middle East, the Taliban continues to play a destructive role in South Asia, sowing the seeds of chaos and violence in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Fueled economically by involvement in Afghanistan's illicit opium trade (which ties them back into global organized crime and narco-terrorism), the Taliban remains a primarily regional power. There are some indications that, in addition to material support from Iran, the Taliban may have received support from Chechen militants (CDI, CS Monitor), though hard evidence for Chechen involvement in Afghanistan is sparse. Evidence exists, however, that some Chechens have seen combat in Iraq and offered experienced training to Islamist militants there. (Pravda, SAAG)
Chechen militants, including the now-deceased Shamil Basayev, have been linked to the former Finsbury Park Mosque in North London. Notable former members of the Finsbury Park Mosque, prior to a 2003 raid by British security personnel and subsequent reclamation by mainstream Muslims, included al Qaeda terrorists such as Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid. Prior to the raid, the Finsbury Park Mosque was headed by Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, better known as Abu Hamza al Masri (or "Captain Hook" in many parodies), an Egyptian-born militant cleric reported to have fought in the Balkan Jihad. Some question exists as to how Abu Hamza received his noteworthy injuries – while he claims that he lost both hands and an eye in mine-clearing operations in Afghanistan, other sources claim that they were the result of an explosives accident while he was receiving training at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. Abu Hamza's son, Mohammed Mustafa Kamel, was apparently convicted in Yemen of taking part in a bombing campaign.
Many of the exploits of al Qaeda are well known. However, in addition to involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, and East Africa, al Qaeda has allied with the Fighting Islamic Group in Libya, and the Salafist Group for Call and Combat. In his 2004 book Shadow War, Richard Miniter presents evidence that points to an al Qaeda alliance with Iran; subsequent rhetorical clashes between the two groups over dueling intentions in Iraq may indicate that a previous alliance has collapsed.
Additionally, the revolutionary change in Libya's foreign policy since 2003 has provided evidence of other connections between rogue states and rogue groups. Libya itself supported various terrorist groups, including the Abu Nidal Group and the aforementioned Provisional IRA. Upon renouncing support for terrorism and surrendering his illicit weapons programs, Libyan leader Moammar Qaddhafi revealed the extent of the nuclear support network of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan – a network which supported development of nuclear programs in Iran, North Korea, and Libya.
Some of the most heinous examples of far-reaching cooperation in illicit weapons proliferation and state sponsorship of terrorism were found in pre-invasion Iraq. Saddam Hussein publicized his regular gifts of money to the families of homicide bombers who die in attacks against Israel. Questions still remain as to the level of cooperation between al Qaeda and Saddam's regime, but credible intelligence indicates that al Qaeda operatives and Iraqi intelligence agents explored the possibility of establishing operational relationships, at the very least.
Despite efforts to keep knowledge of these nations and groups organized, the overwhelming complexity of the interconnected web of terrorists and rogue states is staggering. The preceding paragraphs describe a handful of groups and their operations and supporters on across the globe, from Venezuela to Pakistan to North Korea. The preceding analysis describes the cooperation of Sunnis and Shi'is with Korean Stalinists, Irish Catholic nationalists, and South American narco-terrorists. It details the cooperation of Arabs, Berbers, Persians, Chechens, and Pashtuns, just to name a few. This merely scratches the surface, and omits other high profile terrorist groups to include the Kurdish PKK, or Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines and Indonesia, or ETA in Spain, to name just a few.
Although several of these entities (Iraq, Libya, A.Q. Khan, and the Provisional IRA) no longer factor into the terror networks of the world as they once did, the seemingly simplistic moniker "Axis of Evil" is nothing more than a descriptive phrase used to encompass the cooperation of various forces against world stability and civilized existence. By understanding them, both individually and collectively, we as a nation and the global community at large can better support efforts aimed at disrupting their operations and ultimately bringing greater stability to the global community.
# # Contributing Editor Tom Ordeman, Jr. is a technical writer for a major defense contractor. He holds a B.S. in History and Naval Science from Oregon State University. He specializes in military affairs and international terrorism.
read full author bio here

The Lebanese incentive
Instead of ceding Golan for peace, Israel could agree to Syrian takeover of Lebanon
Yaron London
Why did the Syrians come to Annapolis? Bush hinted that they arrived because the bombing of the site in northern Syria made them realize how weak they are. The weakness of an Arab opponent is advantageous to us, but experience taught us it doesn't prevent war.
The Egyptians were perceived as weak, until they crossed the Suez Canal, exacted a terrible toll and forced us to return the Sinai to them. The Palestinians are also helpless, but they have been using the little power they do have to torment us for decades.
Syria will maneuver between Iran and the West but will not disregard its interests in Lebanon and on the Golan Heights. Sooner or later it will attempt to regain these territories, which it perceives to have been wrested away from it. Regardless of how big our military advantage is, a clash with Syria would be a heavy blow for us and it would be better to take advantage of the Syrian weakness, which may be temporary, in order to sign a peace treaty.
We know the price of peace, but Israel does not dare pay it, and the reasons for this can be justified. In the absence of an agreement, Iran will boost its influence in Syria and at this time it appears the only chance to sever the ties between Tehran and Damascus lies in a complete change in Iran. There is no telling if and when such change would take place, and Israel has not come up with an alternative strategy.
If we are unwilling to withdraw from the Golan, what else can we tempt the Syrians with? This temptation is Lebanon. Israel's special attitude to its small northern neighbor was shaped even before the Jewish State's establishment. Zionist Movement diplomats forged ties with the Christians in Beirut and Galilee farmers maintained good neighborly relations with the Shiites in the south of Lebanon.
Before we signed the peace treaty with Egypt we used to say that there is no telling which Arab country would be the first to make peace with us, but the second one would certainly be Lebanon. This statement was premised on the assumption that the Lebanese are not hostile to us and even view as us clandestine allies, yet their situation forces them to conduct themselves like Muslims Arab countries. This assumption has been refuted.
Christian hegemony won't last long
Lebanon was separated from Syria upon the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The country's establishment by imperial powers was meant to express the Christian uniqueness in the Mount Lebanon region, and a constitution like no other in the world guaranteed Christian-Maronite control.
However, constant immigration and different birthrates gradually changed the ratio of ethnic groups, and today Shiites comprise the majority. We can assume that in a few years the country's constitution would give expression to the changed demographic reality. Either through arms or through the polls, Muslim Shiites will complete their takeover of Lebanon.
At this time, Lebanon enjoys the patronage of Western countries, but this is akin to artificial respiration. Christian hegemony will end in a few years. The Christian population is split and is unwilling to fight to the death for the independence of its homeland.
Beirut's Christian quarters flourish on the strength of Saudi money, but in a few years there will be only two regional powers that can make it difficult for Damascus to take over this asset: Israel and Iran. At that point, Israel and Syria will have a joint interest - preventing an Iranian takeover.
Upon the elimination of the Christian hegemony in Lebanon, the old Israeli interest in maintaining an independent Lebanon will dissipate. The real alternatives are an Iranian Lebanon or a Syrian Lebanon. We do not know the price Syria will be willing to pay for a secret pledge that Israel would not do a thing to prevent Lebanon's annexation to Syria, but it is worthwhile looking into it - this price may be Syrian willing to renounce its claims for the Golan.