December 14/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 11,11-15. Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force.All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John.And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.

Interview with Former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel
Former Lebanon President Amin Gemayel tells WND he sees growing trend of persecution. By Aaron Klein.© 2007 December 13/07

Releases. Reports & Opinions
'Smith is a hero'-By: by Tom Harb-World Defense Review-December 13/07

UNIFIL - Whose Mission is it fulfilling?By: Franklin P 13/07
Be Wise on Kosovo- By Walid Phares-American Thinker-December 13/07
They Killed General Hajj-By: W. Thomas Smith Jr.-Family Security Matters-December 13/07
Lebanon's officers under axis Terror attack? By: Dr. Walid Phares.Counterterrorism Blog. December 13/07
Attacks on Lebanon's military target the country's ability to heal itself- The Daily Star- December 13/07
Syria prepares its grand comeback-By Michael Young-December 13/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for December 13/07
Security Council Condemns in 'Strongest Terms the Terrorist Attack' in Lebanon-Naharnet
Investigation Ordered in el-Hajj's Assassination-Naharnet
Four Men Arrested in House Raids on Suspicion of Involvement in Hajj Killing-Naharnet
El-Hajj's Killing: Clear Message to Gen. Suleiman, media-Naharnet
Saniora: We Remain Determined to Hold Presidential Elections-Naharnet
Berri Urges March 14 Christians to Meet with Aoun-Naharnet
Leaders condemn Lebanon car bomb-BBC News
Illegal Alien Becomes Hezbollah Mole in FBI, CIA-The New American
Lebanon blames Syria for high-profile assassination-ABC Online
Lebanon assassination sends clear message-Independent Online
Israeli Police again question Druze MK on visit to Syria-Ha'aretz
Rice: Iran, North Korea and Mideast top agenda-AP
Report: N. Korea aided Hezbollah after IDF left Lebanon in 2000-Ha'aretz
Hopes Rise for Improved US-Syria Relations-NPR

Lebanon's Exodus-Newsweek
Murder of general deepens crisis in Lebanon
-Guardian Unlimited
Lebanon bomb kills top army general-Financial Times
The 'Al-Shara principle' in action-Jerusalem Post

Assassination of Hajj adds to pessimism among Beirutis-Daily Star
Family of slain Lebanese Army general grieve for fallen son-AFP
Cabinet to refer killing to country's highest court-Daily Star
Hajj killing departs from hits on anti-Syrian figures-Daily Star
Suleiman pays tribute to 'hero,' vows army has many more-Daily Star
Condemnations pour in from across region and beyond-Daily Star
Senior Lebanese Army general assassinated-Daily Star
March 14 supporters win majority of seats in LAU student elections-Daily Star
Hajj latest casualty in string of assassinations-Daily Star
Analyst points to Nahr al-Bared for reason behind Hajj killing-AFP
UN Security Council urges prompt presidential polls-Daily Star
The assassination of François al-Hajj-Voltaire Network
General's killing rocks Lebanon-The Australian
United condemnation follows murder of Lebanese general-Africasia
Lebanon 6th in region for ease of paying taxes-Daily Star
Lebanese business mulls means to end crisis-Daily Star

13/12/2007 00:09 UNITED NATIONS, Dec 12 (AFP)
Security Council condemns 'terrorist' attack in Lebanon

The Security Council on Wednesday joined UN chief Ban Ki-moon in strongly condemning the "terrorist attack" which killed a top Lebanese army officer in suburban Beirut and said this should not delay Lebanon's presidential poll. "The Security Counci condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attack in Baabda which killed two persons, including General Francois El-Hajj of the Lebanese Armed Forces, and injured several others," said a non-binding statement issued by Italy's UN envoy Marcello Spatafora, the council chair this month.

Lebanon's officers under "axis" Terror attack?
By Walid Phares
December 12, 2007 05:32 PM
On December 12 a top Lebanese Army commander, Brigadier General Francois Hajj, was killed in a Terrorist bombing in the suburb of Baabda southeast of Beirut. Hajj, 54, who was close to army commander Michel Sleiman and tipped to be his successor, was killed along with his bodyguard in a rush-hour blast. This was the first assassination of a high ranking officer of the Lebanese Armed Forces in decades. The first set of questions is: Why was he murdered, who may have perpetrated this terror attack and what could be the consequences of this dramatic development?
1) General Francois Hajj was born in the Christian town of Rmeish in southern Lebanon. His home village had a history of resistance against Terror forces since the late 1960s. Many of its inhabitants enrolled in the Lebanese Army over the past decades. A number of them were involved in opposition to the Syrian occupation and Hezbollah. Hajj joined the Lebanese army Academy in 1972 and graduated in 1975. He also commanded the Special Forces brigades (Maghawir) before he was promoted to LAF operation chief. According to many sources in Lebanon, he was selected to become the next commander of the Lebanese Army. Hence, the assassination aimed at preventing Francois Hajj from being appointed by the next President, yet to be elected, as the top military man in Lebanon. General Michel Soleiman, who has been nominated by the majority coalition in Parliament for the Presidency was grooming Hajj to become his successor. In addition the slain commander had in past months and years refused to accept Hezbollah’s exclusive areas of control in south Lebanon and in the Bekaa valley. Moreover he was credited for coordinating the Lebanese Army offensive against the Fatah Islam Terror group in Nahr al Bared camp in north Lebanon over the summer. The strike can be understood as a message to the Lebanese Army not to attempt to confront terror groups in the future, including Hezbollah.
2) The parties that can execute such operations in Lebanon, and have an interest in it, fall under the umbrella of the Syrian-Iranian Mihwar (Axis) which includes the Syrian intelligence, the Pasdaran network, Hezbollah, Ahmad Jibril Palestinian group, as well as other smaller pro-Syrian militias. This “axis” has been accused by the Cedars Revolution of perpetrating a series of assassinations since 2005, including against Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and a number of leaders and MPs, last of whom MPs Walid Eido and Antoine Ghanem, all opposed to the Syrian occupation and in favor of disarming Hezbollah.
3) With the assassination of Hajj, the pro-democracy majority is now facing the reality of terrorism again. But this time the violence was directed against the very institution which is supposed to protect this democracy, the future President, the Parliament and civil society: The Lebanese Army. What seems to be a logical next step is for the current Government in Lebanon and its legislative majority to ask the United Nations Security Council to issue a new resolution calling for the following vital measures:
a. Put Resolution UNSCR 1559 (withdrawal of Syrians, disarming Hezbollah and electing a new President) under Chapter 7 of the Charter
b. Supervising the election of a new President of the Republic under UN protection.
c. Extending a UN support to Lebanon’s Army to confront the Terror campaign.
However the March 14 Coalition and the Seniora cabinet have been intimidated by many assassinations: Thus the likeliness of seeing them initiate these dramatic moves is not high at this point, but not impossible eventually. International -including US, European and Arab- support is covered by a good number of UN resolutions, a Franco-American understanding, and a bipartisan set of resolutions issued by the US Congress and Arab moderate frustration with Iranian-sponsored violence in Lebanon. It will boil down to the rise of a courageous group of leaders out of Lebanon calling for help. And it is precisely that group which is targeted by the “axis.”
Dr Walid Phares is the Director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He is the author of War of Ideas.
December 12, 2007 

US condemns assassination of general in Lebanon
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States on Wednesday firmly condemned the killing of a top Lebanese army officer as Lebanon seeks to fill a presidential void.
Brigadier General Francois El-Hajj and his bodyguard were killed in the Lebanese capital by a powerful car bomb blast.
Officials said Hajj, 54, was targeted because he was tipped to become the army's new commander-in-chief, replacing General Michel Sleiman, frontrunner to become Lebanon's next president. "We strongly condemn the assassination," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement.
"This is a crucial time as Lebanon seeks to maintain a democratically elected government and select a new president. President (George W.) Bush will continue to stand with the Lebanese people as they counter those who attempt to undermine their security and freedom," the spokesman added.
Lebanon has been without a president since November 23 when incumbent Emile Lahoud ended his term with rival parties unable to agree on a successor.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack read a statement denouncing the blast as "another vicious and cowardly attack against Lebanon and its constitutional institutions," following a stream of political assassinations.
"The international community has called for the Lebanese to hold without delay free and fair presidential elections in conformity with Lebanese constitutional rules without foreign interference or influence," it said. The statement commended Prime Minister Fuad Siniora's "legitimate and democratically-elected government" and Lebanese armed forces for their roles in managing affairs of state and security until the presidential election occurs.
Presidential elections in Lebanon have been blocked by a standoff between pro- and anti-Syrian camps.
McCormack said he did not know who might be responsible for the bombing.
He said it was "positive" that Syria, which Washington has blamed for past assassinations, had denounced the bombing because it means officials are speaking out against "the use of violence as a political tool."But he added that the Syrian government still had to show it was committed to turning a new leaf.
"And it's not entirely clear at this point that Syria, as a government, is committed to turning away from the use of violence to gain political leverage and advantage in the region," he said.
"And certainly, it has not turned away from supporting those groups which have sworn to use violence and terror to undermine progress, to bring about a more stable, prosperous and democratic Middle East," McCormack said.
Washington welcomed Syria's participation in a US-sponsored international conference in Annapolis, Maryland last month to launch the first serious Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in seven years. The Bush administration sees Syria as an ally of US nemesis Iran. And while the United States still has diplomatic ties with Syria, it has imposed sanctions on Damascus. At the White House, spokeswoman Dana Perino refused to speculate who might be behind the bombing, and refused to finger Syria as a culprit.
A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Bush met December 4 with Ammar Abdulhamid, Djengizkhan Hasso, and Mamoun Homsy, three Syrian democracy activists. "Syrian democracy activists and their families face great hardship -- including forced separation and lengthy detentions -- simply for questioning peacefully the oppressive system kept in place by the Syrian regime," the official said.

AL, Egypt condemn blast killing senior officer in Lebanon 2007-12-12 21:52:20 CAIRO, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Cairo-based Arab League (AL) and the Egyptian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday denounced a bomb attack which killed Chief of Lebanese Operations Brigadier General Francois al-Hajj and three others, Egypt's official MENA news agency reported.
Offering condolences to the families of the victims, AL Secretary General Amr Moussa stressed the importance of protecting Lebanon's national unity.
Moussa urged Lebanese political leaders to shoulder their responsibility in the current crisis, hoping such incident would not spoil efforts exerted to reach a consensus on the presidential elections in the country. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit on Wednesday also voiced his sorrow over the terrorist explosion that killed al-Hajjin the eastern Beirut suburb of Baabda. Abul Gheit expressed his concern that the terrorist attack may negatively affect the Lebanese presidential elections and further deteriorate the political and security situation in the country. The car bomb explosion on Wednesday shattered al-Hajj's car as it drove in Baabda, the historic capital of Mount Lebanon province, and seat of the presidential palace, which is on another hill. Lebanon's official National News Agency reported that four people were killed and tens of others injured in the explosion, which occurred before 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) on Wednesday. The senior army officer was killed as his country is still embroiled in a battle between rival leaders over the presidential election.

Lebanese General El-Haj Killed in Car Bomb Attack (Update6)
By Massoud A. Derhally
Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- A car bomb in the Lebanese city of Baabda killed General Francois El-Haj, who waged a three-month army campaign against militants this summer. At least one other person was killed and five people were wounded in the attack at 7:12 a.m. local time today in the city, where the presidential palace is located, Major General Ashraf Reefi, director of Lebanon's internal security forces, said in a telephone interview from Beirut.
Haj is the latest public figure to be assassinated as Lebanon struggles to find a successor to President Emile Lahoud. Yesterday, lawmakers failed for the eighth time to agree on amending the constitution to allow army commander Michel Sleiman to be elected president. Bombings killed anti-Syrian lawmakers Walid Eido, of the Future Movement, on June 13 and Antoine Ghanem, of the Phalange Party, on Sept. 19.
``Because it comes in the context of a very high degree of unprecedented political escalation, it's very worrisome,'' Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment Middle East Center in Beirut, said of the attack on Haj. ``The army has never been a target. The army is being considered by whoever did this as a political side.'' At least six Lebanese anti-Syrian politicians and one journalist have been killed since February 2005. None of their killers has been prosecuted. Former President Amin Gemayel's son, pro-Western Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, was gunned down on Nov. 21, 2006.
Car Bomb
The bomb-laden car used in the assassination was a BMW, Brigadier Saleh Haj Suleiman said in a telephone interview. ``The investigation is ongoing,'' he said, declining to provide further details. The Ministry of Defense initially said the number of people killed and wounded was higher. The Internal Security Force's Reefi declined to provide further details. ``We strongly condemn the assassination of Brigadier General Francois Haj,'' White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement in Washington. Lebanon is facing a ``a crucial time'' as it seeks to maintain a democratically elected government and select a new president, he said.
``President Bush will continue to stand with the Lebanese people as they counter those who attempt to undermine their security and freedom,'' Johndroe said.
Led Offensive
Haj led a summer offensive against Fatah al-Islam, an al- Qaeda-inspired group, in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp. The Lebanese army invaded the camp in May after an attack that killed 27 of its soldiers. The fighting, which ended Sept. 2, was the most serious Lebanese internal violence since the country's 1975- 1990 civil war.
Haj, who was second in command in the Lebanese army, would have been a contender to replace General Sleiman in the event he was elected president.
Lebanon has seen a wave of assassinations, since the killing of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others in Beirut on Feb. 14, 2005.
United Nations investigators have said Lebanese and Syrian intelligence officials, including the brother and brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, were implicated in the truck bombing that killed Hariri. Syria has denied any involvement in the attack.
Public outrage over Hariri's murder forced Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, ending a 29-year presence, and led to an anti-Syrian political bloc gaining a majority in Lebanon's parliament after elections in June 2005.
Syrian Condemnation
Syria condemned the killing of Haj today. The official state-run news agency Sana cited an unidentified government official as saying the assassination targeted the Lebanese army and it was Israel that benefited from the killing of a national figure. The agency noted that Israel blew up Haj's car in 1976 in southern Lebanon after he refused to cooperate with its allies.
Parliament is due to reconvene on Dec. 17 to try and elect Sleiman as president.
To become president, Sleiman, 59, has to step down from the army and the constitution has to be amended to allow a recently retired public servant to take the post.
In Lebanon's sectarian governmental system, the president is a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of parliament a Shiite Muslim.
Hezbollah Opposition
For two months, the majority coalition under Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has been trying to select a successor to Lahoud, 71. It was blocked by Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim party which fought a 33-day war with Israel last year, and Hezbollah's ally, Christian politician Michel Aoun.
Lahoud, whose six-year term was extended by three years in 2004 under Syrian pressure, supported Syria's occupation of parts of Lebanon following an outcry over the assassination of Hariri. The U.S. and the Lebanese government have blamed Syria, an ally of Iran, for his killing and the deaths of 14 other prominent politicians and activists.
The struggle between the pro-Western government of Siniora and the Syrian-backed opposition to select a successor to Lahoud has threatened to provoke new violence in a nation still recovering from the sectarian civil war that ended in 1990.
Lebanon has been without a president since Lahoud's term ended on Nov. 23.
The last time the presidency was vacant was in 1988-1989 during Lebanon's 15-year civil war when Aoun, the only Christian ever to have served as prime minister, ran Lebanon at the end of President Amin Gemayel's mandate.
The deadlock to elect a president could drag on until March, if lawmakers fail to elect a new head of state before parliament goes into recess at the end of December, Arafat Hijazi, speaker Nabih Berri's spokesman, said yesterday.
To contact the reporters on this story: Massoud A. Derhally in Amman, Jordan, at .
Last Updated: December 12, 2007 11:16 EST

Lebanese General Killed in Bomb Blast
Published: December 13, 2007
BEIRUT, Lebanon — A powerful car bomb killed one of Lebanon’s top generals and his bodyguard in a suburb of Beirut on Wednesday, striking an unexpected blow at the country’s most widely respected institution and further undermining Lebanon’s precarious stability.
Lebanese soldiers carry the body of Brigadier General François al-Hajj after he was killed in a bomb explosion Wednesday in Baabda, an eastern suburb of Beirut. More Photos > The army officer, Brig. Gen. François al-Hajj, was killed when a bomb under a parked blue BMW sedan exploded as he drove past on his way to work at the Defense Ministry. General Hajj, 54, was a top contender to succeed Gen. Michel Suleiman, the army chief who is poised to become the country’s next president. He was also the operational commander during the three-month battle over the summer against Islamic militants holed up in a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon.
Whether it was intended as a political message or as revenge, the blast underscored the persistence of the bitter political confrontation that has crippled the government during the past year. The crisis has deepened since Nov. 23, when Émile Lahoud stepped down at the end of his term as president without any agreement on a successor.
A solution seemed possible two weeks ago when the major political groups agreed to support General Suleiman as president. But since then political negotiations have foundered, with leaders disagreeing over procedure and the makeup of the next government.
If the lawmakers do not elect General Suleiman by the end of the year, they may be forced to wait until mid-March. Lebanese law limits the calendar sessions for amending the Constitution — a necessary first step before an army chief can be allowed to become president.
The killing reverberated far beyond Lebanon. Condemnations poured in from the United States, Iran, Syria, France and Germany.
Factions from across the Lebanese spectrum deplored the assassination, including Hezbollah, which called it a “great national loss.” The army, which splintered during the 15-year civil war, has in recent years been viewed as the one neutral institution in a country whose leaders are deeply divided over ideology, foreign patrons and their share of power. The explosion, which also wounded six people, took place about 7 a.m. in Baabda, an eastern suburb, on a mountainous road overlooking the city that the general regularly took to work. The blast, caused by what an army spokesman described as a 77-pound bomb that was placed under a car parked on the street, set other cars on fire and left a hole six feet wide in the ground. In its aftermath, scores of soldiers could be seen milling around the blackened ruins of a car. Some wept openly. Security men searched for body parts in the valley below the road.
“It was a scary scene,” said Tony Deeb, who works at a nearby supermarket. “People started running and screaming. I saw a man walking with blood coming down his face, cars on fire, others were shattered and smoke filled the area.” Some leading anti-Syrian politicians blamed Damascus for the killing, as they have for a series of political assassinations during the past three years. They pointed to comments made Tuesday by the Syrian vice president, Farouq Sharaa, who said that Syria’s friends in Lebanon were stronger than ever and that “no one in Lebanon, even with foreign support, can win the battle against Syria.”
Syria has denied any role in previous assassinations in Lebanon, and on Wednesday the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Moualem, denounced the “criminal attack” on General Hajj, saying, “We condemn any action that threatens Lebanon.” None of the previous assassinations were aimed at the army, which has remained neutral during the past year’s political crisis. Some speculation focused on the possibility of revenge by Fatah al Islam, the jihadist group that lost a bitter fight against the army in the refugee camp. But one senior Lebanese Army official said the methods used in the bombing were too sophisticated for Fatah al Islam.
“The way the bomb was placed rules out the possibility of a personal account,” the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the news media. “It requires infiltration, someone who is familiar with the area and knows what time the general leaves his house every day.”
Instead, the official said, the bombing could be related to behind-the-scenes negotiations between the parliamentary majority and the opposition — which is supported by Syria and Iran — over the successor of General Suleiman as top army commander.
Members of the American-backed parliamentary majority, known as the March 14 alliance, said General Hajj had been their preferred candidate for army chief — a broad hint that the assassination was aimed at them. But Michel Aoun, a Christian leader in the opposition alliance backed by Syria and Iran, disputed that, saying he too supported General Hajj, with whom he had been close since Mr. Aoun was himself the top army commander in the late 1980s.
Those recriminations seemed likely to lessen the chances of electing a new president, which have grown dimmer in recent days. Members of the majority accuse the opposition of deliberately obstructing the effort. They have begun talking again about the possibility of electing a president on a simple-majority basis, a move that would infuriate the opposition. Opposition members say they want a broader agreement about the cabinet before agreeing to make General Suleiman president.
“If you want to elect a president, you must protect him by providing a vision,” said Ibrahim Kanaan, a legislator with Mr. Aoun’s party. To elect General Suleiman without making further agreements, Mr. Kanaan said, would be to replicate the situation under Mr. Lahoud, an ally of Syria who lacked the support of the parliamentary majority in his last years in office and was therefore largely powerless.Nada Bakri reported from Beirut, and Graham Bowley from New York.

Heroes Never Die
Family and friends of slain Brig. Gen. Francois el-Hajj, killed by a car bomb on Wednesday, reacted with grief and horror in his hometown of Rmaish, vowing he would always be remembered as a 'hero'."My son is a hero and heroes never die, he will remain alive in our hearts," cried Kafa al-Aalam, mother of el-Hajj, chief of military operations, who was killed with his bodyguard in a car bomb blast in Beirut's suburb of Baabda during the morning rush hour.
Women threw water on Aalam's face as she fainted in her living room in Rmaish, a remote Christian village along Lebanon's border with Israel.
The 79-year-old woman beat her head in grief as other black-clad women attempted to calm her. "I heard that there was an explosion, so I called him on his mobile. He did not answer, then I saw on television that my Francois is dead," she said. "He was due to celebrate his son's wedding over Christmas, he will never have the joy to see his son getting married. "May God crush the hearts of all those who have crushed mine at the holiday season," she added, as female relatives embraced portraits of the 54-year-old slain general. Esperance, el-Hajj's 35-year-old sister, wept silently and remembered her brother as a loving man committed to his troops. "He was a very loving person. Why did they kill him?" she asked. "Because he was a hero. Because he fought against the terrorists," she said, referring to the army's 15-week deadly battle against Islamist radicals over the summer.
In a nearby house belonging to Hajj's uncle, male relatives sat silently in the living room as villagers filed through to present their condolences.
The village streets appeared deserted except for the road leading to his family house and the village main square where young men were putting up Lebanese flags and posters praising the army. The slain officer last visited his hometown on Tuesday, as he accompanied army chief Michel Suleiman on a tour of army positions and UN peacekeeping bases in the south. Suleiman is front-runner to fill the country's presidency, vacant since Emile Lahoud stood down on November 23 at the end of his term.
El- Hajj is survived by his wife Lody Andraos, his son Elie, 25, as well as his daughters Racha, 22, and Jessica, 20.
At the family home, Maronite bishop Nabil Shukrallah arrived to present his condolences. "We ask the politicians to come to an agreement and to elect a president because we are all targeted, Lebanon is targeted," the bishop said. "We hope that Francois will be the last martyr in Lebanon," he said.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 12 Dec 07, 17:32

Serial Killings Shift from Politicians to the Military
The spate of Serial killings plaguing Lebanon for over three years targeted the Lebanese Army on Wednesday, killing its chief of operations Brig. Gen. Francois el-Hajj in a major car bomb explosion. The seat of the Maronite Church, in a statement released by its secretariat, denounced the "terrorist" crime and urged the speedy election of a new president.  France also called for the speedy election of a new head of state.
A BMW vehicle, rigged with over 35 kilograms of explosives, went off at 7:10 am as Hajj, 55, and his driver, Kheirallah Hadwan, drove by the Baabda municipality offices, that abut the presidential palace compound east of Beirut. The powerful blast hurled Hajj's GMC SUV for about 20 meters sending it off road into a ravine where it settled near a rivulet. The bodies of Hajj and Hadwan were shattered by the powerful blast that echoed across Beirut and the surrounding mountainous resort.
Police said a third person was killed and his body was torn apart beyond immediate identification. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner denounced the killing as a "cowardly" attempt to destabilize the country. "France condemns in the strongest terms the attack that claimed the life of a senior Lebanese army official, Francois El-Hajj, as well as several Lebanese citizens," the minister said in a statement. "This cowardly act, committed against one of the chief figures of the Lebanese military... is part of an obvious attempt to destabilize" Lebanon. Kouchner said the "only response" should be to "elect without delay a new president" and keep the country functioning to "ensure its security, liberty and sovereignty."
He urged the "entire international community to exercise the greatest possible influence" to help the country do so.
Hajj was a close aide to Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman, the frontrunner to become Lebanon's next president but whose election has been blocked by a standoff between pro- and anti-Syrian camps. El-Hajj was tipped to head Lebanon's armed forces if feuding politicians agreed to elect Suleiman president.
Hajj, born on July 27, 1953, was the chief of military operations of the Lebanese armed forces and a key figure in the army's victory over Fatah al-Islam terrorists in a 15-week battle earlier this year. Hajj was a "high-value target for the murderers... because he was tipped to become the future army chief," to succeed army commander General Michel Suleiman, retired General Elias Hanna said. A security official, who declined to be named, also confirmed that Hajj, a Maronite, was tipped to replace Suleiman on top pf the army after the presidential election.
"Francois el-Hajj was my friend. He was a true man, a distinguished officer and competent at what he was doing," Hanna added. A security official described Hajj as "a great man, a kind man, who was very intelligent." Hajj hailed from the southern Christian town of Rmeish, near the Lebanon-Israel border and was the target of an Israeli attack in the town in the late 1970s, according to the army.(Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 12 Dec 07, 13:33

March 14 Christians Demand Action, Not Words
Christian leaders of the March 14 Forces on Wednesday urged Speaker Nabih Berri to convene a parliamentary session to approve a constitutional amendment allowing the election of Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman as President. A statement read by former President Amin Gemayel at the end of the meeting at the Phalange Party headquarters in Saifi called on Berri to "stop these formal invitations asking parliament to convene and (stop) these useless talks, and instead launch an immediate initiative for a special session to approve constitutional measures to allow Gen. Suleiman's election."The statement accused local and regional powers of hampering the presidential election process. The statement said that should Berri fail to respond to their appeal, March 14 will take all constitutional measures to ensure that their demand is met. "Settlements outside the traditional constitutional mechanism are compulsory settlements, and (this is) not what we wish for," Gemayel said in response to a question.He said he feared that if the presidential crisis is prolonged "we will face a set of options no one would want."
Beirut, 12 Dec 07, 22:17

Saniora: Lebanon's Existence is Targeted by el-Hajj's Assassination
Prime Minister Fouad Saniora said Wednesday's car bomb assassination of chief of military operations Brig. Gen. Francois el-Hajj aims at blocking the election of a new president for the nation. "This is one of a series of crimes that targeted Lebanese institutions and leaders... and now is targeting the military and the army command in a bid to foil the presidential election," Saniora said. El-Hajj, a key figure in the army's victory against Fatah al-Islam terrorists in a 15-week battle earlier this year, was tipped to replace army commander Gen. Michel Suleiman, who is the frontrunner to become Lebanon's next president.
He was killed a day after parliament postponed until December 17 a session to elect Suleiman, amid a tug-of-war between the ruling majority and an opposition allied with Syria and Iran. Since 2005 Lebanon has been rocked by a series of assassinations targeting anti-Syrian figures. The ruling majority has blamed the attacks on Damascus that has rejected the accusations. "The criminals wanted to terrorize and shake the morale of the institution (army) which has succeeded in carrying out great national missions," Saniora said, referring to the army's victory over the Fatah al-Islam militants earlier this year. Saniora vowed that "the Lebanese people will not surrender, and the Lebanese army and security forces will not back down or be scared." "The message was clear, and the response to it is more determination," he said. "The existence of Lebanon is targeted, but Lebanon is here to stay."(Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 12 Dec 07, 18:37

Gen. Suleiman: The Army is Stronger Than Ever
Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman pledged Wednesday that Terror would not be able to subjugate the army and people of Lebanon.
Suleiman made the statement after inspecting the scene of a car bomb explosion that killed chief of military operations Brig Gen. Francois el-Hajj in Baabda.
"I urge all to refrain from investing bloods of the martyr in politics or in attempts to question the capabilities of the military institution," Suleiman said.
The military establishment, according to its commander, is "stronger, hundreds of times, more than it has been … The army has a thousand Francois who would safeguard Lebanon's unity.""Terror .. would not manage to subjugate the army or the people," Suleiman said. Beirut, 12 Dec 07, 18:15

Ageing Building Collapses in Beirut
An ageing building collapsed in Beirut's Tariq Jedideh district Wednesday, injuring two people, police said.
A police communiqué said the three-storey residential building was evacuated by most of its tenants two weeks ago. However, two of the old tenants who happened to be checking on their house holds, were wounded when the building collapsed, the communiqué added without further elaboration. Beirut, 12 Dec 07, 18:23

El-Hajj Crime Condemned
The killing Wednesday of Lebanon's chief of military operations Brig. Gen. Francois el-Hajj was condemned by the nation's feuding factions amidst warnings that the bloodshed would further destabilize the nation. "This is a criminal, terrorist act linked to the ruling majority's endorsement of army chief Michel Suleiman for the presidency," deputy parliament speaker and majority MP Farid Makari said in a statement. "I urge all deputies to head quickly to parliament to elect a new president in order to end the void," that has gripped Lebanon since pro-Syrian incumbent president Emile Lahoud quit on November 23 at the end of his term.
Hajj, 54, who was a close aide to army commander Suleiman and tipped to be his successor, was killed along with his bodyguard in a rush-hour blast that rocked the suburb of Baabda, southeast of Beirut. Leaders from the ruling majority and the Hizbullah-led opposition, backed by Syria and Iran, are deadlocked over attempts elect Suleiman president. Parliament has tried but failed on seven occasions since September to convene a session to elect a new president.
House speaker Nabih Berri, a key member of the opposition, postponed a session on Tuesday until December 17 to allow for more consultations. Some politicians feared a vote could be delayed until next year. Lebanon has been rocked by a series of killings, including that of five times premier Rafikk Hariri in February 2005. His death created an international and domestic storm, which led Syria to withdraw from the neighboring country where it had been powerbroker for nearly three decades.
Anti-Syrian politicians have blamed Damascus for the killings, a charge Syria has strongly denied.
On Wednesday, Syria indirectly fingered Israel over the latest bloodshed. "Israel and its agents in Lebanon are the beneficiaries from this crime," said a Syrian official, quoted on state news agency SANA. The agency, citing analysts, said the bomb attack outside Beirut that killed the general aimed at "creating a void within the Lebanese army after the void created at the heart of Lebanon's presidential institution, and to wreck the security and stability of the country."
Al-Moustaqbal Movement leader Saad Hariri said Hajj's assassination aimed at plunging Lebanon into new political disarray. "This terrorist operation comes at a vital time when the enemies of Lebanon are trying to consolidate the presidential void and sow discord between the Lebanese people," Hariri said in a statement.
"Because of this we announce that we back, now more than ever, the army and totally support Gen. Michel Suleiman in particular. The attack that targeted the hero, martyr, Brig. Gen. Francois el-Hajj, will not stop our drive to protect the constitution, democracy, sovereignty and independence," he said. The Shiite militant group Hizbullah, a pillar of the opposition, denounced "the heinous and criminal assassination."
"We urge the Lebanese to rally around the army and to work seriously to build a political agreement in order to save the country from shortsighted policies that allow criminals to worsen the crisis in Lebanon," The Hizbullah statement said. Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun, a presidential hopeful and former army chief, blamed Premier Fouad Saniora's Government for failing to prevent a new political murder.
A senior official in the Saniora Government told Agence France Presse the el-Hajj murder was "a crime targeting the only unified and strong institution that remains in Lebanon." French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who visited Beirut seven times over the past six months to try to spur a presidential vote, said the killing is "part of an obvious attempt to destabilize" Lebanon. He urged feuding Lebanese politicians "to elect without delay a new president" and keep the country functioning to "ensure its security, liberty and sovereignty." Jordan's King Abdullah II sent a cable of condolences to Saniora, saying the "criminal act targeted efforts to achieve national conciliation in Lebanon."(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 12 Dec 07, 17:22

EU For Presidential Election Following El-Hajj Killing
The European Union affirmed Wednesday that it would continue to support Lebanon's democracy and sovereignty, despite a "contemptible" car bomb attack that killed the nation's chief of military operations. "I condemn in the strongest possible terms the assassination this morning of General Francois El-Hajj and others accompanying him," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said in a statement. "I am greatly concerned that (the attack) comes at a time when, despite many difficulties, opposing parties have been using dialogue to forward their positions," he said. "I emphasize that the EU will continue, undeterred, in its support of the independence, democracy and sovereignty of Lebanon." El-Hajj was a close aide to Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman, the frontrunner to become Lebanon's next president but whose election has been blocked by a standoff between pro- and anti-Syrian camps. "This was a contemptible act that puts an even greater pressure on Lebanon's delicate situation," EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement. "The European Commission condemns unreservedly that act which should by no means obstruct the process of electing the new president," she said.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 12 Dec 07, 16:39

Washington Condemns El-Hajj Killing
The United States on Wednesday issued a firm condemnation of the killing of a top Lebanese army officer, as Lebanon seeks to fill a presidential void.
In Beirut's eastern suburb of Baabda, a powerful car bomb explosion killed the army's chief of operations Brig. Gen. Francois El-Hajj along with his bodyguard as their car drove by the municipality compound during the morning rush-hour. "We strongly condemn the assassination of Brig. Gen. Francois Hajj," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement. "This is a crucial time as Lebanon seeks to maintain a democratically elected government and select a new president. President (George) Bush will continue to stand with the Lebanese people as they counter those who attempt to undermine their security and freedom," the spokesman added. The Red Cross said the blast also wounded eight people, none of them seriously. The attack was the first of its kind against the Lebanese military, seen as a unifying force in a country mired in its worst political crisis since the end of the civil war in 1990. Several officials said Hajj, 54, was targeted as he was tipped to replace as army chief Gen. Michel Suleiman, the frontrunner to become Lebanon's next president but whose election has been blocked by a standoff between pro- and anti-Syrian camps.Lebanon has been without a president since November 23 when incumbent Emile Lahoud ended his term with rival parties unable to agree on a successor.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 12 Dec 07, 16:34

Attacks on Lebanon's military target the country's ability to heal itself
By The Daily Star
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday's assassination of General Francois Hajj strikes at the last remaining symbol of unity in this country, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). For years the military has been more successful than other institutions in limiting and even reversing the corrosive effects of sectarianism, so any attack on it is also an assault on national spirit and a blow to progressive policies. In addition, the killing threatens to compromise the LAF's essential role as a bulwark guarding against clashes between supporters of rival political camps. For all these reasons and many more, the murder of Hajj figures to complicate the challenges facing the LAF's commander, General Michel Suleiman, whether or not he eventually emerges as the country's next president.
Luckily, the very reasons that make the military such an important target also make it a tough one. A concerted effort has been made to keep the LAF above the political wrangling that poisons so much else in Lebanon, making it less susceptible to attempts at sowing division. There is little reason for panic, therefore, or even for serious concern that an incident like Hajj's assassination might cause the military to lose a significant amount of either its internal cohesion or the confidence it inspires in many sectors of society.
This last point was made clear by the individual reactions of most Lebanese political leaders and their parties. The great majority of these condemned the hit on Hajj and refrained from the sorts of accusations and counter-accusations that have accompanied similar attacks in the past. There were key exceptions: MP Michel Aoun, leader of the opposition Reform and Change bloc, insinuated that the governement of Premier Fouad Siniora bore responsibility for the killing; and former President Amin Gemayel, whose Phalange Party is part of the majority, made a thinly veiled accusation against the opposition. At least initially, though, they were the only major figures who rushed to judgment: The rest were known cranks of one stripe or another.
Each of the multiple shocks that have rocked Lebanon over the past year or so has fueled talk of a precipice on whose edge the country can only teeter for so long before it tumbles over into chaos. Conversely, some of the more dangerous incidents have been touted as potential catalysts for a widespread realization of the need for an end to the impasse. If some form of discipline can be maintained among the ranks of both camps, this might be the occasion that convinces both of them of the urgent need for them to settle their differences.

Key events in Lebanon
James Sturcke takes you through some of the key events in Lebanon since the assassination of the former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in 2005
Wednesday December 12, 2007
Guardian Unlimited
February 14 2005: Rafik Hariri, a major force in driving the economic and political recovery of Lebanon after the 1975-1990 civil war, is killed with 22 others in a bomb blast in central Beirut. Many believe Syria is behind the attack.
February 28 2005: The Lebanese prime minister, Omar Karami, widely seen as a Syrian puppet, announces the resignation of his government following huge street protests after Hariri's death.
March 5 2005: The Syrian president, Bashar Assad, announces that his troops will withdraw from Lebanon.
June 2 2005: A prominent Lebanese journalist known for his anti-Syrian writings, Samir Kassir, is killed by a car bomb.
June 21 2005: A leading anti-Syrian politician, George Hawi, is killed by a car bomb in Beirut. His death comes two days after an anti-Syrian alliance wins parliamentary elections.
October 12 2005: Ghazi Kanaan, Syria's interior minister, dies in mysterious circumstances weeks after being questioned by UN officials investigating Harari's killing.
October 20 2005: A UN report implicates Syria in Harari's death.
November 22 2005: Israel launches airstrikes against Hizbullah fighters in southern Lebanon in response to mortar attacks which wounded 11 Israeli soldiers.
December 12 2005: Gebran Tueni, an anti-Syrian MP and newspaper publisher, is killed one day after returning to Lebanon from France, from where he had fled in fear of his life.
July 12 2006: Two Israeli troops are captured by Hizbullah triggering a 34-day war in which more than 1,200 Lebanese are killed.
September 22 2006: The final Israeli troops withdraw from southern Lebanon. The Hizbullah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, vows his group will never surrender its weapons.
November 13 2006: Six pro-Syrian Lebanese ministers resign during three-day period following the collapse of talks to give them more say in government.
November 21 2006: The anti-Syrian Lebanese industry minister, Pierre Gemayel, is assassinated in Beirut.
January 23 2007: A Hizbullah-backed general strike demanding a new government brings much of the Lebanese transport infrastructure to a halt.
February 13 2007: Three people are killed by two bus bombs in what appears to be an indiscriminate attack aimed at further destabilising the country.
June 13 2007: A leading anti-Syrian Lebanese MP, Walid Eido, and at least five other people, are killed in a bomb explosion in western Beirut.
September 2 2007: Lebanese troops seize control of the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp from Fatah al-Islam militants. More than 420 people, including 168 soldiers, were killed during the operation, led by Brig Gen Francois al-Hajj.
September 19 2007: The anti-Syria Lebanese MP, Antoine Ghanem, is among seven people killed in a car bombing in Beirut. Ghanem was a member of the right-wing Christian Phalange party.
September 25 2007: The Lebanese parliament postpones a session to elect a new president after pro-Syria politicians boycotted the event.
November 23 2007: The Lebanese president, Emile Lahoud, says the country is in a state of emergency, less than four hours before the end of his term of office. Lahoud orders the army to take over security in Lebanon, after the parliament failed to elect a new president.
December 5 2007: The parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, says rival Lebanese leaders have agreed on the head of the army, General Michel Suleiman, as president.
December 12 2007: The man tipped to replace Suleiman, Brig Gen Francois Hajj, is killed by a car bomb in a Beirut suburb.

Bombing in Lebanon 'to intimidate Christians'?
Country's former president tells WND he sees growing trend of persecution

Posted: December 12, 2007
By Aaron Klein
© 2007
Former Lebanon President Amin Gemayel
Today's deadly bombing targeting a top Lebanese army general was a bid by anti-government elements to destabilize the country and delay presidential elections and may be part of a general campaign to intimidate Lebanon's Christian population, former Lebanese president Amin Gemayel told WND during an exclusive interview today.
"While we don't know who specifically carried out the bombing, it was for sure connected to delaying parliament electing a new president, prolonging the political vacuum and creating constitutional and security chaos in the country," said Gemayel, speaking from his home in Lebanon.
Today's blast, the latest in a string of political assassinations to rock Lebanon, killed top Lebanese Army Gen. François al-Hajj and his body guard and wounded at least eight others. According to reports, a 77-pound bomb in a parked BMW sedan exploded as al-Hajj drove past on his way to work at the defense ministry in an eastern Beirut neighborhood.
Hajj was seen as a leading contender to take over as army chief from Gen. Michel Suleiman should parliament elect Suleiman as president in a much-delayed vote now slated for Monday.
Gemayel noted it was "very strange" that today's attack, like so many other recent bombings, occurred in a Christian neighborhood.
"Maybe this could lead to a situation where Christians feel threatened," he said. "There are some Islamist groups here that would like to target Christians while other Muslims in Lebanon are interested in preserving Lebanon as a country where all communities coexist all together."
Gemayel pointed to trends of what he said evidenced Christian persecution throughout the Middle East, including in Egypt, where Christian Copts are regularly singled out and targeted, and in Iraq, where even under U.S. occupation Muslim groups have bombed churches and attacked Christian villages. In 2005 alone, 30,000 Christians fled Iraq, according to survey information.
A recent study in Lebanon found 30 percent of the country's Christian population is working actively to emigrate. And according to several reports, nearly 600,000 Christians departed Lebanon the past 16 years.
Christians previously made up the majority of Lebanon's population. A 1932 census stated Lebanon was 55 percent Christian. But recent surveys cited by the CIA Factbook state Muslims now constitute a solid majority, with 60 percent. The Shia sect, represented by the Hezbollah militia, is Lebanon's largest Muslim community.
Many Christian sects support Lebanon's anti-Syrian politicians, including the Christian Phalangists, considered one of Syria's main political foes in Lebanon. Others, including many Maronite Christians represented by parliament member Michel Aoun, have joined political forces with Hezbollah, Syria's ally.
Gemayel served as Lebanon's president from 1982 to 1988 and is still actively involved in Lebanese politics. He is no stranger to political assassinations. He assumed leadership after his brother, Bashir, who had earlier been elected president, was assassinated. Amin Gemayel's son, Pierre, who was a member of parliament, was killed in 2006 in a bombing widely blamed on pro-Syrian forces.
Syria occupied Lebanon for nearly 30 years, until mass protests following the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005 led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops.
But since then, Lebanon has been struck by a series of bombings and political assassinations many have attributed to Syria. And Syrian-backed Hezbollah has been using its parliamentary veto power to stall the election of a new Lebanese president after the country's former president, Syria-appointed Emile Lahoud, left office last month.
Gemayel would not specifically assign blame to Syria or to pro-Syrian forces for today's bombing. But he told WND he and other anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians live under constant threat.
"Every Lebanese fears for life, especially those involved on the Christian side and the political side, including the Cedar Revolution leaders, but we refuse to give in to threats. We will prevail," said Gemayel.
Today's assassination was the first attack in recent years against a Lebanese army target. The army has been viewed as a neutral institution in a country whose leaders are deeply divided largely along pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian lines.
Hajj last summer led a deadly battle against Fatah al-Islam, an Islamic group said to be connected to al-Qaida that lost confrontations against the army.
Gemayel told WND he had information that at least one other recent political assassination in a Christian neighborhood was tied to Fatah al-Islam.
To interview Aaron Klein, contact Tim Bueler Public Relations by e-mail, or call (530) 401-3285.

Hezbollah IS the Syrian Occupation, and Partition is the Answer
By: Charles Jalkh
There will not be any security nor peace in Lebanon as long as Syrian-Iranian controlled armed groups continue to dominate large swaths of Lebanese territory and violate the authority of the Lebanese state. There is no doubt that the terrorists are using safe havens in the Hezbollah security zones and some Palestinian camps to launch their attacks and assassinations against the Lebanese. They are able to organize, arm, train then launch operations with total impunity under the protection of Hassan Nasrallah. The Lebanese must finally realize that Hezbollah and the Syrian enemy are two faces of the same coin and they are both trying to annihilate us. Hezbollah has no honor and is capable of anything. It has perpetuated the Syrian occupation of our homeland. It has its own army, conducts its own independent foreign policy, manages independent finances, and has launched destructive wars causing thousands of deaths and billions in losses.
The Lebanese have been threatened with war if they move to disarm Hezbollah. Israel has failed to defeat it. The army cannot be relied upon to perform such mission since about half of the force is Shiite and may sympathize strongly with Hezbollah. Also the suggestion to merge Hezbollah with the Lebanese army is impractical to say the least if not ludicrous. For even though it may be possible to fuse them logistically, how do you erase 30 years of Syrian-Iranian fundamentalist indoctrination? How do you make them loyal to Lebanon and ALL its people under the authority of the Lebanese state, and abandon their allegiance to their Syrian-Iranian creators and masters? Chances are that they will dominate the Lebanese army in the fashion the Iranian Revolutionary Guards dominate the Iranian regular army. Hezbollah has been loud and clear in repetitive declarations that it will not disarm nor dismantle its state within the state. So short of defeating Hezbollah militarily, and without a direct NATO or UN military intervention, and considering the continuing idiotic stands against peace with Israel, the Lebanese have no other choice but Partition.
Two states, a Hezbollah-Syrian-Iranian state, and Free Lebanon. A fundamentalist terrorist state, and a free, democratic, pluralistic, multi-ethnic, and perhaps one day secular state. At least each side will achieve their national aspirations. The scenario of a federated state will not work since it lacks all minimal and essential requirements of such union ; common global identity, common foreign policy, common economic policy, and common defense. We disagree on identity and foreign policy, and we already maintain separate economic infrastructures and separate defense forces. Our land and spirits are already sharply divided, so why not just acknowledge and formalize such reality without hypocrisy, regrets, or guilt.
A partition will bring us security, political stability, social harmony, and rapid economic progress. Partition will allow us to create a powerful military which will truly and ably defend our state against all dangers, rather than staying neutral for fear of divisions. We will be able to move forward in a clear direction. We will quickly achieve prosperity and enhance the living standards of our people with the recognition and help of the whole world. It is high time for the Lebanese politicians to abandon their hypocrisy, their posturing, and state the obvious honestly and clearly. We need to partition the country and better do it peacefully than thru conflict, since we will end up with the same demarcation lines anyway. Perhaps in a generation or two, and after the fall of the Axis of Evil, we may be able to reunite, re-conquer Hezbollahstan, or buy it back, and perhaps not, but at least in the meantime we would have achieved our respective national aspirations without hindering each others.
A mother with her children on a sinking boat will attempt to save some of her children if she cannot save them all.

They Killed General Hajj

W. Thomas Smith Jr.
It’s one thing to be embroiled in the recent media circus surrounding my reporting from Lebanon; it’s quite another to learn that in the midst of that circus – though having nothing to do with it – one of my strongest sources while I was in Lebanon, Gen. Francois Hajj, was assassinated yesterday.
Hajj, 55, a Maronite Catholic and the director of operations for the Lebanese Army, was killed in a car-bomb attack Wednesday, on the route between his home and his office at the Ministry of Defense in Beirut. It’s been reported that he “was considered a leading candidate to succeed the head of the military, Gen. Michel Suleiman [Sleiman], if Suleiman is elected president.”
Who killed Hajj? Who knows.
Some newspapers are reporting the possibility that the assassination was the work of an offshoot cell of the al-Qaeda affiliated Fatah al Islam militant group, which was wiped out almost to a man in the Battle of Nahr al-Bared.
“Another possibility,” according to the UK’s Times Online, “would be pro-Syrian militants within Lebanon, who are believed to have been behind the killings of a number of anti-Syrian politicians in the past two years.”
Hours after the Hajj killing, I asked Middle East terrorism/counterterrorism expert, Dr. Walid Phares:
“From what I understand, there were a few motivations behind his assassination:
“First, as chief of operations for the army, it was believed that killing him would demoralize the army, and hence pro-Iranian and pro-Syrian militias would be sending a message to the Lebanese army saying, ‘You can’t get close to us.’
“Second, he was considered to be the next commander of the Lebanese army.
“Third, the plan, which ultimately defeated Fatah al Islam, was engineered by Hajj.”
So who killed him?
“The Axis,” Phares tells me. “The Axis -- as referred to by the experts in Lebanon -- includes Syrian intelligence, Pasdaran (Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), Hezbollah, and the other combined Jihadist movements.”
During my time in Lebanon – September and October of this year – Hajj was one of my strongest sources. And despite my railing against the often under-reported threat of Hezbollah activities in Lebanon – as well as what I perceived to be problems within the military -- Hajj pulled some serious strings enabling me to gain greater access to elements within the defense structure from which I had been previously barred.
Granted, I had already met one-on-one with Lebanese commander-in-chief Gen. Michel Sleiman before formally being introduced to Hajj, but I did speak with Hajj over the phone, and I was made aware through very reliable sources (men who had a personal relationship with Hajj) within the Cedars Revolution movement that Hajj was reversing decisions and making things happen for me, when other generals were saying, “No. Smith has had all the access he is going to get.”
On October 4, I met with Hajj at his office at the Ministry of Defense in Beirut.
I wrote at National Review Online:
“As I entered his office — his desk covered with several huge maps of Lebanon, a couple of cell phones, and a single pack of Marlboros – Gen. Hajj was discussing something (unintelligible to me because it was in Arabic) with another general. The other general and I shook hands, he left the office, and Hajj ordered coffee for the two of us.
We discussed everything from current security operations in Lebanon to the recent fighting at Nahr al-Bared. He then showed me an exclusive video tape – not seen by outsiders [he told me] – of the fighting at Bared, including some truly grisly images of killed Fatah al-Islam fighters.”
Before leaving his office, Hajj invited me to attend the burial that afternoon of more than 100 Fatah al-Islam fighters who had been killed at Nahr al Bared.
I declined the invitation because I had a meeting that same afternoon with Maj. General Achraf Rifi, the commanding general of Lebanon's Interior Security Forces (the national police).
At any rate, the assassination of Hajj (the latest in a string of political assassinations in Lebanon) simply plays -- as another terrible variable -- into the craziness of what is going on and who’s in bed with whom in Lebanon. There is also the inability of Lebanon to elect a president; the existence of the virtual state of Hezbollah (the “kingdom of Hezbollah” as some Lebanese have told me) within the so-called sovereign state of Lebanon; the manipulation of the media (both nationally and internationally) in that country; and the unchecked money, weapons, and influence of Iran and Syria.
From what I knew of Gen. Hajj – and admittedly that knowledge is limited to what I learned while there -- he was a good man. He was a “strong man,” as others have said. He was a man who wanted freedom and democracy in Lebanon. He wanted the truth told about what is actually happening in Lebanon, and what was and is too often not reported, or what is manipulated by the Axis-influenced media.
And now they have killed him.
** contributing editor W. Thomas Smith Jr. is director of the Counterterrorism Research Center of the Family Security Foundation and a Contributing Editor to A former U.S. Marine infantry leader and shipboard counterterrorism instructor, Smith writes about military/defense issues and has covered conflict in the Balkans and on the West Bank. He is the author of six books, and his articles have appeared in USA Today, George, U.S. News & World Report, BusinessWeek, National Review Online, CBS News, The Washington Times, and others.

'Smith is a hero'

by Tom Harb
Secretary General of the International Lebanese Committee for UN Security Council Resolution 1559
Former National Review Online reporter W. Thomas Smith Jr. is NOT a liar. On the contrary – and as we stated in American Mercenaries of Hezbollah – Smith is a hero.The problem is, a hero in the West, is often a villain to the Jihadists operating in the Middle East, and Smith simply got too close to the latter during his recent trip to Lebanon. And now he is under fire by those who either do not understand the situation as it exists – and has existed for some time – in Lebanon. Or he is under attack by those newsmen and so-called newsmen who have been influenced either directly or indirectly by Iranian petrodollars.
We know who attacked: a handful of supposed Lebanon-based American journalists and their blogging allies who have irresponsibly accused Smith of fabricating stories about the reality of Hezbollah. Though in their accusations, they themselves have fabricated that which they accuse Smith of. For instance, Smith never said he "saw" 200 Hezbollah militiamen in the "tent city" in downtown Beirut. He never said Hezbollah militiamen had "taken over" a section of east Beirut. Nor did he mention anything about a "kidnap" attempt.
They wrongly accused him of making those statements. And so far they have gotten away with those accusations.
But this digresses.
What has happened is Smith has been ruthlessly attacked by the handful of questionable reporters under the command of a correspondent for The New Republic (recently under fire for a true fabricator, Scott Beauchamp, and obviously looking for payback) Thomas B. Edsall writing for the controversial Huffington Post. Smith was then charged by the Left blogosphere, convicted without a hearing, and sentenced (branded a "liar," a "fabricator," and a "fabulist") in the alternative and mainstream press.
Who has heard Smith's voice in the matter since he left National Review Online last week? Almost no one, he told us two days after his resignation.
"One or two have asked for my take in the matter," Smith says. "But most are either writing about it without talking to me, or ignoring it, and – I suppose – hoping it will go away."
The problem is, Smith is an American who got too close to Hezbollah and the truth of their activities (without their approval) in Lebanon. He reported things that were not supposed to be reported in an atmosphere where there is very little media objectivity, and huge stories are often not reported because Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah control much of what is reported in both the Lebanese media and among Western journalists in Lebanon.
Smith is also a conservative journalist, who the Left is willing to destroy without the facts, and some on the Right have been too willing to sacrifice – also without the facts – to demonstrate their ability to eliminate any possible Beauchamps in their midst, though Smith is nothing of the sort.
The Left contends Smith's report that between 4,000-5,000 Hezbollah militiamen to Christian areas of Beirut on an unspecified day in late September simply never happened.
As we write in this article, thousands of Hezbollah militants and supporters have been crossing from the southern suburbs to east Beirut for months, as hundreds – sometimes thousands – walk or motorcycle from their neighborhoods to visit or replace the hundreds of militants who are camping in front of the Prime Minister's building. And this is only scratching the surface.
The Left also contends that Smith's report of "some 200-plus heavily armed Hezbollah militiamen" occupying the "sprawling Hezbollah tent city" near the Lebanese parliament was wrong. And that, they say, makes him a "fabulist."
Who do they think they are kidding? There were more than 200 in September and October. Smith actually underreported. And the militants who have occupied downtown Beirut are armed and their weapons are hidden in their tents and in different locations. So again, Smith's attackers are flat wrong, as are any Lebanese reporters who would dare to say otherwise.
Let's also not forget: Hezbollah, including the terrorist organization's predecessors, are the ones who blew up the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing over 240 U.S. servicemen in 1983. They have kidnapped or murdered other Americans since, including journalists and educators.
Today, they are just as ruthless, just as murderous. But they have combined that ruthlessness with an ability to control and manipulate the national and international media. The Left's ruthless and unjustifiable attack – initiated by Edsall and his men, and proliferated throughout the liberal blogosphere – on a respected conservative writer like Smith is but one example.
If we allow this attack to stand with no challenge, what else will we stand for or turn our tails and run from?
— Tom Harb is secretary general of both the International Lebanese Committee for UN Security Council Resolution 1559 and the World Council of the Cedars Revolution. He may be contacted at
© 2007 Tom Harb

UNIFIL - Whose Mission is it fulfilling?

Thursday, 13 December 2007, 11:34 am
Column: Franklin P Lamb
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)
Whose Mission is it fulfilling?
Naquora, Lebanon
Ever since one of this student's favorite Professors, Dr. Ruth Widmeyer, an accomplished and rare beauty still, who was the first woman to receive a PhD. in Soviet Studies from Harvard nearly a half century ago, announced to our Political Science class at Portland State University that our class would be representing France at the Model United Nations Session in San Diego, Lamb was smitten: both with Professor Widmeyer and with the United Nations.
Straight out of high school, rarely having taken a step out of Clackamas County, Oregon, and never having been on an airplane or stayed in a hotel, the prospect of travelling more than 1, 300 miles south to compete against the likes of Stanford and UCLA was exciting. Especially for a hayseed (city kids called us hicks in those days) whose main life achievements were a record demolishing 6 years of perfect attendance at St. John's Episcopal Church Sunday school and another record (at that time) at Milwaukie Union High School for a basketball free throw percentage of 89%. (I will never understand why Shaquille O'Neal can't do better than he does at the foul line! Shaq! Habibee! Wear a blindfold for goodness sake and your percentage will surely improve!)
Responding to Professor Widmeyer's Germanic discipline, our delegation took our work seriously. Between trips to the San Diego Zoo, the swimming pool at our El Cortez Hotel, and side trips to San Diego's nearby sister city, Tijuana, Mexico, "to buy fresh street made Tacos", PSU prevailed and we won the award for outstanding Model UN Delegation that year.
When we returned to Campus some of us were surprised by the reaction of the Dean of Students who graciously invited us to his office. We thought perhaps some sort of accolade might be waiting for us but all the Dean cared about was the fact that three of our delegation returned to Portland from the Model UN Session and Tijuana with gonorrhea!
Poncho Villa's Revenge, we called it in the locker room at Portland's Jewish Community Center where I lifeguarded and studied Hebrew part time. "This is disgraceful and not good for the University Community", the Dean scolded us.
Three of us narrowly avoided suspension from PSU that Semester, but not because of our argument that there must have been something bad in the Tacos. The Dean just glared at us and his face reddened when that explanation was floated. We remained PSU students by having the Jewish Community Center Director, my friend and boss, Portland attorney Ted Bloom, inform the University that it is not unheard of that our poor judgment in drinking the local water in Mexico could have caused the condition.
That may have been the last time an ardent Zionist saved me but my gratitude endures.
In Lebanon, almost nobody, and certainly not UNIFIL, drinks the local water and I have not seen anything remotely resembling Tijuana; certainly not in my Hezbollah neighborhood, Dahiyeh.
Rather, from Naquora to Kafr Shuba, along the 75 mile 'blue line' fine French, Spanish and Italian wines are, understandably, the preferred default UNIFIL boire.
What has UNIFIL been doing in Lebanon?
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was created with the adoption of Security Council Resolutions 425 and 426 on March 19, 1978, primarily to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and "to restore international peace and security". Both goals have proved elusive these past three decades with Israel still in Shebaa Farms, the village of Ghajar, and violating Lebanese airspace and sovereignty at will.
An examination of 30 years of UNIFIL's presence in Lebanon reveals that UNIFIL, like its parent the UN Security Council, has been exploited by power politics conducted by the Untied States on behalf of Israel and unfortunately, frequently acquiesced in by the international community.
Too often UNIFIL's guiding principles and mandate has been replaced with the power and authority which were detrimental to the people of Lebanon. UNIFIL has often acted in favor of the interests of Israel and Washington over the international community including the people of Lebanon.
As Boston University's Professor Augustus Norton instructs us, actions taken by UNIFIL have sometimes reflected the US dictate that UN resolutions are to operate in one of two dimensions. Either manifesting a unified binding character which the entire world is expected to accept or taking the form of an inconclusive mandate
"which leaves sufficient room for Israel to buy time, alter the enforcement of the resolution and sometimes even replace the intended policy or action with its own objectives."
A very recent example of the Bush administration manhandling the Security Council to the detriment of democracy in Lebanon is the December 12, 2007 US move to coerce the UN into a self destructive endorsement of the preferred US/Israel faction in Lebanon, the Siniora government. The Welch Club idea is to push the Army to try to link with UNIFIL against the opposition. During this attempt the US will provide the necessary noise at Turtle Bay about the need for UNIFIL 'to do its duty under UNSCR 1701'.
The assignation of Brig. Gen. Francois Hajj on 12/12/13 could be a signal not to use the Lebanese army for Bush Administration projects.
The 12/12/07 US move, employing the new French pro-Israel Skorsky government as pitchman, takes the form of an unusual draft of UN Presidential Statement in support of the Siniora government. The Draft stresses the need to implement United Nations Security Council resolutions which is US Bush Administration code language for disarming Hezbollah.
If the the Bush administration succeeds in pushing UNIFIL to attempt to disarm the Lebanese Resistance UNIFIL, according to one UN official at its HQ in Naquora, " will be forced out of Lebanon within fewer hours than Israel needed to saturate South Lebanon with US cluster bombs".
The first UNIFIL troops arrived in Lebanon on March 23, 1978 although a unit was sent in 1974 to observe the Golan Heights and Israel frontier.
UNIFIL is currently primarily deployed along the Blue Line dividing Israel and Syria's Golan Heights and southern Lebanon. Its activities have centered on monitoring military activity between Hezbollah and Israeli Forces with the aim of reducing tensions and allaying continuing low-level armed conflict. UNIFIL has also played an important role in clearing landmines, assisting displaced persons, and providing humanitarian assistance in this underdeveloped region.
The UNIFIL contingent was reinforced last year and is up to more than 13,000 personnel and a tougher UN mandate under UNSC resolution 1701.
The new resolution states that UNIFIL can "take all the necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces, and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind."
After the 2006 July War, a UNIFIL Maritime Task Force (MTF) was established to end the Israeli sea blockade of Lebanese ports which for months had kept Lebanon's 3,000 year old fishing fleet in dock and without income. This MTF was initially led by the Italian Navy. In October 2006 the German Navy assumed the lead and is contributing the major part of the force with five frigates and ten smaller patrol vessels.
Like most of Lebanon, UNIFIL is under intense political pressure and a pall of mistrust with its immediate future the subject of casino wagers from Macau, off China's Guangdong province in the South China Sea, to Monte Carlo, a half a world away.
Debate over UNIFIL's neutrality
UNIFIL has fallen out of favor with both Israel and many in Lebanon. Israel has criticized the force for, among other things, maintaining a dialogue with Hezbollah, which it views as a terrorist organization, for treating Israeli and Hezbollah ceasefire breaches equally, and of complicity in the capture of three Israeli soldiers in 2000.
The imaginative and truly gifted temptress, Lori Lowenthal Marcus of the Zionist Organization of America has accused UNIFIL, in a September 2006 Weekly Standard (!) article, of providing Hezbollah with 'real time intelligence' concerning Israeli troop movements via its website during the July 2006 War.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: "We didn't like very much UNIFIL which was very useless and very helpless. Look what happened. Did you hear of any particular efforts of the United Nations UNIFIL force in the south of Lebanon to prevent the attacks against Israel in the first place? So they were not useful and that is why we were unhappy with them."
Former Israeli ambassador Itamar Rabinovich on the 20 July 2006:"UNIFIL, I'm afraid, is a joke. They've been there for 29 years and since then, there have been so many skirmishes [along the border]."
Former UNIFIL spokesman, Timur Goksel disagrees:
"UNIFIL came here in 1978. We were, because at that time there was no Hezbollah here, accused of being sympathetic to Palestinians. A peacekeeping force does not come here with pre-set enemies. There is no enemy in a peacekeeping force and UNIFIL is a peacekeeping force. It's not an Israeli combat force or an anti-terror force, as they would like it to be. As long as we don't serve their direct interests, they are going to denigrate it as much as they can." (Sept 26 2006)
One example of UNIFIL's image problem can be found in Sibqin, a small remote village overlooking Tyre and the Mediterranean, a few miles from the Lebanon border.
During the July 2006 War, which destroyed 60% of Sibqin's homes, the local hospital and its grounds were not just targeted but saturated with US-made cluster bombs. This carpet bombing was done in the last 72 hours of the conflict after the long delayed UN sponsored cessation of hostiles agreement was finally allowed to be signed by the Bush administration. UNIFIL reckons that nearly one million unexploded US bomblets still constitute a deadly infestation of the surrounding countryside of South Lebanon.
Recently a young Shia mother from Sibqin brought her son who had a serious cut on his hand for emergency treatment to the gate of the newly arrived Italian regiment, called the 'Savoia Cavalleria' which is part of a six month rotation with responsibility for this village.
According to villagers, the boy and his mother were coldly turned away without treatment, further endangering the lad: "We learned during the long Israeli occupation to expect such inhumanity from the Zionists, but it hurt our community for the Europeans to behave in this way towards us. We did not invite them to become the new occupiers. And anyhow is it not true that Bush and Rice sent UNIFIL to protect the thieves of Palestine, not to protect us Lebanese".
Soon, other complaints against UNIFIL surfaced. "We liked the Nepalese but they left in 2000", one woman said. Another added, "Italian UNIFIL doesn't even talk to us anyone, they just stare at us from behind their dark glasses inside their armored vehicles. My children are afraid of them."
Sensitive to their image, the Italians apologized for not helping the boy and have set up a Friday morning free clinic for Sibqin, and as has been their annual custom, are currently busy arranging for Santa Claus to deliver Christmas gifts to the precious, and war-traumatized children in their area. The Italians also plan to do foot patrols with an interpreter and 'try to connect more with the people'.
But doubts persist on both sides in Zibqin as in the more than 200 villages of South Lebanon. The other 28 country contingents around the South have had similar experiences to the Italians.
But increasingly UNIFIL respects the Lebanese villagers they are assigned to protect.
A Spanish soldier explained recently near Fatima Gate, while studying a new Israeli bunker across the blue line cyclone fence and with Israeli binoculars focused on him reflecting the bright sunlight from the hills in the distance:
"When I am on patrol in a village and I see an old woman walking along the road I become emotional sometimes. I don't see a Muslim woman, a supporter of Hezbollah, a 'terrorist'. I see my deceased sainted mother or my aunt who lives in a village near Barcelona. These Arab people are exactly the same as us. Why can't people understand that?"
Near the village of Al-Sultaneh, a French paratrooper volunteered:
"Sometimes I arrive to a young man on his motorcycle. I assume for sure he is Hezbollah. We are friendly and correct in our conversation. Do I want to arrest him or question him? Non, Pas de tout! I have no right to do that. C'est interdit. Truly I would like to play football with him because all UNIFIL troops know that Hezbollah are also very good on the sporting battlefield. But if we invited them for a match Israel would maybe react completely fou [crazy] and cause an international crisis. So our commander tells us to keep our distance. Malheursement also from the Shia mademoiselles qui bien sur sont plus belle et chamrment que lesquelles nous avons en toute de France!
"Don't tell my girlfriend in Lyon that I said that!" he adds to shrieks of laughter from his friends.
The June 24, 2007 attack on UNIFIL which killed six peacekeepers from the Spanish contingent near Khiam shook UNIFIL resulting in even less direct contact with the local population as UNIFIL hunkered behind protective barriers and in armored vehicles.
Some Hezbollah supporters, but not the organization itself, has accused UNIFIL of siding with Israel, especially since the passage of Resolution 1701 which they view as one-sided.
On October 16, 2006 the much respected senior Shia cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah declared that "the UN force has come to protect Israel, not Lebanon." Many agree with the Sayyed, whose social service projects are second only to those of Hezbollah in areas where the Government of Lebanon has never functioned for average citizens and which today does less for Lebanese in need than the Bush administration has done for post Katrina New Orleans's lower ninth ward and St.Bernard Parish.
The anti-Hezbollah salafist organization, Al Qaeda in Lebanon, has declared UNIFIL its target and is widely believed to be behind the June attack. Hezbollah is watching UNIFIL's back and has foiled more than half a dozen operations against it.
Slowly and discretely, a growing bond is forming among the Lebanese Resistance (led by Hezbollah), the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL. This quasi-entente cordial does not please the Welch Club whose first question to each of Lebanon's Presidential aspirants over the past months is reported to be "how are you going to disarm Hezbollah?"
UNIFIL Casualties
To date, UNIFIL has suffered 258 fatalities: 249 military personnel, 2 military observers, 3 international civilian staff, and 4 local staff.
More than two thirds were killed by Israel in what has been three decades of accidents, wrong firing logs, out dated maps, terrorists operating near UNIFIL, mistakes, faulty equipment etc.
Citing Israel's frequent 'errors', deep concern from contributing countries has pressured UNIFIL to largely withdraw to bunkers in times of 'blue line' tension. This is what Israel wants to happen to those who would presume to monitor their actions.
Military pressure on UNIFIL
During the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Israel ordered UN positions overrun, primarily by its de facto forces under Phalangist Saad Haddad and later Antoine Lahad who reportedly still plots against the Lebanese Resistance from his current Israeli-commission based in his Tel Aviv Restaurant.
The aftermath of the 1982 invasion saw the establishment of what was to become Israel's 22 year occupation. And it forced UNIFIL to quit its military mandate, only sporadically allowing it to provide humanitarian aid to needy Lebanese in their area.
According to UNIFIL documentation, there have been scores of attacks against UNIFIL by Israeli forces since its arrival in Lebanon and dozens of incidents of UN posts coming under Israeli fire during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.
The first Qana Massacre, on April 18 1996, was another Israeli-claimed 'accident' that saw a UNIFIL post attacked. A hundred and thirteen (113) civilians were killed having sought safety at the UN base as Israel had bombed and flattened 17 nearby villages in the areas shortly before. In addition to those killed, more than 300 of the 800 seeking safety were wounded.
A UN investigation concluded that Israel's explanations of sustained 14 shells per minute firing over a 30 minutes period and that it was all a regrettable accident was disingenuous.
Today, a visitor finds the targeted UNIFIL base untouched for the past 12 years, the devastation permanently documenting a heinous war crime.
By May 24, 2000, Hezbollah forced Israel into a nearly full withdrawal, which allowed UNIFIL to resume its military tasks and last summer the UN Security Council has extended UNIFIL's mandate until August 31, 2008.
Recent casualties from Israeli fire
On Monday 24 July 2006, an Israel tank shell hit four Ghanaian soldiers. Earlier, UNIFIL engineers from China were fired at while repairing a road connecting Tyre and Naqoura which had previously destroyed by the Israeli airforce.
A week earlier on 16 July 2006 shrapnel from Israeli tank shells seriously wounded an Indian soldier.
A UNIFIL international staff member and his wife were killed after an IAF airstrike on the Hosh area of Tyre where they lived on July 17. Their bodies were recovered from the rubble on July 26.
On 25 July 2006 four UN peacekeepers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland were killed when an Israeli aerial bomb struck a UN observation post over looking the blue line into near the former Khiam concentration camp. Again, the Israelis claimed were responding to "Hezbollah fire from that vicinity," and the four had taken shelter in a bunker under the post.
The area around the site was shelled a total of 14 times by Israeli artillery throughout the day despite more than a dozen communications via telephone between the UN liaison and the IDF during which the UN demanded Israeli shelling of their post cease. Following the direct bombing of the post and deaths of the UN observers, a rescue team was also shelled as it tried to recover the four bodies from the rubble. One UNIFIL office angrily surveying the carnage stated that Israel was better at finding and bombing UNIFIL than it was Hezbollah.
Israeli planes continue to harass UNIFIL and Lebanon
On October 3, 2006, an Israeli fighter penetrated the 2-nautical mile defense perimeter of the French frigate Courbet, triggering a diplomatic incident.
Three weeks later six Israeli F-16's flew over a German vessel patrolling off Israel's coast just south of the Lebanese border. The German Defense Ministry said that the planes had given off infrared decoys and one of the aircraft had fired two shots into the air. The Israeli military accused the Germans of launching a helicopter from its vessel without having been given permission by Israel, and denied vehemently having fired any shots at the vessel and said "as of now" it also had no knowledge of the jets launching flares over the German vessel.
The "as of now" wording is signature Israel military speak, often used to give it an out, after an incident recedes from public attention, to allow for a later qualified admission of responsibility.
On 31 October 2006, eight Israeli F-15s flew over many areas of Lebanon, including Beirut.
The IAF jets also flew over a French peacekeeper position in Lebanon. According to the French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, the planes came in at what was interpreted as an attack formation, and the peacekeepers were "seconds away" from firing at the intruders.
Dating back to Roman and Mamluk days, foreign troops have never had an easy mission in Lebanon.
As college students in Portland, San Diego, and elsewhere continue to represent France and other countries in Model United Nations, UNIFIL's Real World mission in Lebanon to some extent represents France, Italy, Spain, Germany and the other contributing Nations as well as the international community's mandate. It has done a creditable job despite some doubts from those for whom it risks and loses its lives to protect and despite Israeli criticism and harassment. Ultimately Lebanon's future and its political sovereignty depend on its people and hinges upon the intent and actions of the community of nations and their willingness to resist Israeli aggression in Lebanon and through out the region.
A period of hoped for calm in Lebanon has now shattered by the latest assassination and the apparent selection of General Michel Suleiman as Lebanon's new President, is in doubt, Lebanon's best hope for a national consensus may be the growing Lebanese Army, Hezbollah and UNIFIL cooperation. That tripartite cooperation may well lead to Lebanon being able to secure and safeguard its Southern border, airspace, and help rebuild the Country.
Dr. Franklin Lamb is currently based in Lebanon where he is doing research on Hezbollah and the effects of Bush Administration policy in the Region. He can be reached at