February 11/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 8,1-10. In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat, he summoned the disciples and said, My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance." His disciples answered him, "Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?" Still he asked them, "How many loaves do you have?" "Seven," they replied. He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd. They also had a few fish. He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also.  They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over--seven baskets. There were about four thousand people. He dismissed them and got into the boat with his disciples and came to the region of Dalmanutha.

Free Opinions
One hurdle less. By: Khalid Amayreh.
Al Ahram Weekly 11.02.07
The Lebanese government & Hizbollah's Challenges-American Chronicle (American Chronicle   World Forum)

Latest News Reports From miscellaneous sources For 11/02/07
March 14 Calls for Massive Gathering to Mark Hariri Murder-Naharnet
Feltman to Hizbullah: What are These Weapons for Now?-Naharnet
Hizbullah to Army: When We Want to 'Give Gifts' We will Do it-Naharnet
Ban Names Pederson Special Coordinator for Lebanon
Ban Makes Long-Awaited Overhaul of Senior U.N. Posts-Naharnet
Tension Evident at St. Maroun Church-Naharnet
Lebanon Will Use Confiscated Hizbullah Arms to Fight Israel-Naharnet

Maronite Bishops liken clashes to 'coup d'etat'-Daily Star
Gemayel Urges 'Compromise' to Settle Lebanon Crisis-Naharnet
Ex-President of Lebanon seeks 'truth, not revenge'-Ya Libnan
Lebanon's premier, president share rare handshake at church -Daily Star
Israeli military continues to violate Lebanon's sovereignty-Ya Libnan
Ex-Lebanese Leader Wants Hariri Tribunal-CBS News

Hezbollah Wants Its Guns Returned-New York Times -
AFP: Lebanon hit by black market weapons boom
-Focus News
Lebanon's DM rejects Hizbullah demand to return truckload of weapons
IAEA Halts Aid to Iran-Naharnet
U.S. Photographer Wins Award for Shot of Bombed-Out Beirut-Naharnet

Canadian mum still stuck in Lebanon-Sydney Morning Herald

Ban Names Pederson Special Coordinator for Lebanon
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has named Geir Pedersen, the U.N. envoy for southern Lebanon, as special coordinator for Lebanon (SCL), according to a letter released in New York Friday. In the letter addressed to the 15-member U.N. Security Council, Ban said the Norwegian diplomat would be responsible "for coordinating the work of the U.N. in the country and representing me on all political aspects of the U.N. work there." "Among other functions, the SCL will ensure that the activities of the U.N. country team in Lebanon are well coordinated with the government of Lebanon, donors and international financial institutions in line with the overall objectives of the U.N. in Lebanon," he added. Pedersen has been the U.N. secretary general's personal representative for southern Lebanon since March 2005.
In 1993, he was a member of the Norwegian team to the secret Oslo negotiations that led to the mutual recognition between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel.(AFP) Beirut, 10 Feb 07, 07:35 -Naharnet

Gemayel Stresses Need for Tribunal to Expose 'Truth about Terrorists'

Former President Amin Gemayel has stressed the need for a Special International Tribunal for Lebanon to "empower" the country, reiterating his support for the Saniora government against the opposition. Gemayel told a press conference Friday after meeting with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon in New York that exposing "the truth about terrorist actions perpetrated in Lebanon is essential for the empowerment of its democracy." "The democratically elected parliament ... which is a legitimate institution, has approved the international tribunal with a big majority," he added. The United Nations signed an accord with the government of Prime Minister Fouad Saniora to set up an international court to prosecute the suspected killers of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes.
But the Hizbullah-led opposition is demanding Saniora's resignation because its sees the cabinet as unconstitutional since the withdrawal of six pro-Syrian ministers from the government over the issue of the court.
"The government and the parliamentary majority remain committed to establishing the tribunal ... This tribunal is a prerequisite to reestablishing law and order not only in Lebanon but all around," Gemayel noted. "The need to move toward the setting in place of the tribunal is as strong as it has ever been. No other country in the region has suffered as many political assassinations, all of which remain unresolved," he said.
Gemayel's son, Industry Ministry Pierre Gemayel, was assassinated by gunmen in November and his death has been added to those being investigated by the International Independent Investigation Commission, a U.N. probe led by Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz. The Saniora government has endorsed the court plan but Speaker Nabih Berri, who is a Hizbullah ally, is refusing to call for a parliament session for ratification. "We do what we have to -- to overcome the obstacles and to face whatever obstacles that could prevent the establishment of this court," Gemayel said. Asked whether a binding Security Council resolution under Chapter Seven of the U.N. charter might be required to secure the establishment of the tribunal in view of the political stalemate in Lebanon, the ex-president replied: "We attach importance to Chapter 7." But for now, he said, he supports keeping the current U.N. resolution on the tribunal under Chapter 6 which does not include military measures.(Naharnet-AFP-AP) Beirut, 10 Feb 07, 08:09

March 14 Calls for Massive Gathering to Mark Hariri Murder
The March 14 coalition has called for a massive gathering on Wednesday to commemorate the second anniversary of the assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri in downtown Beirut where the Hizbullah-led Opposition is staging an ongoing sit-in.
"We call on the Lebanese who loved Rafik Hariri to commemorate the second anniversary with a massive gathering in Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut," where Hariri was buried, said a statement issued after a meeting of the March 14 Forces on Friday at the mansion of Hariri's son, parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri. Security forces recently erected a fence slicing Martyrs' Square in half, in an apparent bid to prevent friction between pro- and anti-government supporters.
Street fighting between Opposition activists and pro-government followers across the country left nine people killed and 300 wounded two weeks ago.
The Opposition has been holding an open-ended sit-in since December 1 on the northern part of Martyr's Square and on the adjacent Riad Solh Square near Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's offices. Hariri was killed along with 22 others in a massive bombing Feb. 14, 2005 that was widely blamed on Syrian officials and their Lebanese allies. Damascus denied any involvement. The former five-time premier's murder led to domestic and international protests that forced Syria to end 29 years of military domination of Lebanon.(Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 10 Feb 07, 08:27

Hizbullah to Army: When We Want to 'Give Gifts' We will Do it
Hizbullah insists that a truckload of ammunition, seized earlier this week by Lebanese authorities, be returned to the group.
"When we want to give gifts to the army we will do it, because the army is defending the border," Hizbullah MP Hassan Fadlallah told a news conference Friday.
He was referring to a statement by Defense Minister Elias Murr in which he said he would have liked to see Hizbullah offer the shipment to the Lebanese army which on Wednesday engaged in a shootout with Israeli troops on the tense Israel-Lebanon border. Under a U.N. resolution that ended the July-Aug. war, Hizbullah is banned from rearming.(Naharnet-AP) Beirut, 10 Feb 07, 10:36

Feltman to Hizbullah: What are These Weapons for Now?

U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman has lashed out at Hizbullah for the weapons shipment seized by Lebanese authorities, wondering "what are these for now?"
"We've heard Hizbullah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah talk very proudly of the weapons his organization already has. So one has to ask what are these for now?" Feltman asked Friday. Nasrallah boasted soon after a cease-fire ended the July-August war between Hizbullah fighters and Israeli forces that his group had replenished its arsenal of rockets, numbering some 33,000. Hizbullah acknowledged the ammunition seized Thursday in the Hazmieh suburb east of Beirut belonged to the group and demanded the government immediately release the shipment. It urged the government to abide by its own policy, proclaimed in 2005, to support the "resistance" in the south. The daily An Nahar on Friday said the Hizbullah shipment included forty-eight 60mm mortars, sixty 120mm mortars, 52 Grad rockets and 118 cases of mortar shells. Defense Minister Elias Murr on Friday rejected Hizbullah's demands that the truckload of ammunition be returned to the group. He said the Lebanese army would keep the ammunition and use it if Israel attacks.(Ap-Naharnet) Beirut, 10 Feb 07, 09:42

Lebanon Will Use Confiscated Hizbullah Arms to Fight Israel
Defense Minister Elias Murr, who rejected Hizbullah demands that a truckload of weapons seized by Lebanese authorities be returned to the group, has said the army will keep the ammunition and use it if Israel attacks. "The truck and the weapons are now with the Lebanese army in southern Lebanon," Murr said after talks Friday with the new commander of the U.N. peacekeeping force in south Lebanon, Major General Claudio Graziano. "If Israel carries out another violation, we will use these weapons to confront it," he said. Murr said he told Graziano that "the Lebanese army deployed in southern Lebanon has orders to confront Israeli forces in case of any new violation" of Lebanese sovereignty.
The shipment was seized on Thursday in the Hazmieh suburb east of Beirut, raising tension between Hizbullah and Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government, which are engaged in a power struggle. U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman sharply criticized Hizbullah for the arms shipment, which according to the daily An Nahar included forty-eight 60mm mortars, sixty 120mm mortars, 52 Grad rockets and 118 cases of mortar shells.
"We've heard Hizbullah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah talk very proudly of the weapons his organization already has. So one has to ask what are these for now?" he asked Friday. Nasrallah boasted soon after a cease-fire ended the July-August war between his guerrillas and Israeli forces that his group had replenished its arsenal of rockets, numbering some 33,000. Hizbullah had acknowledged the ammunition seized Thursday belonged to the group and demanded the government immediately release the shipment. It urged the government to abide by its own policy, proclaimed in 2005, to support the "resistance" in the south.
Hizbullah senior official Mohammed Yazbek reiterated on Friday that the seized truck was carrying munitions destined for his group's fighters and demanded the return of the weaponry. "The security and judicial authorities should return the truck which was carrying arms for the Resistance from the (eastern) Bekaa to the south," he said at Friday prayers in the eastern city of Baalbek.
"The Resistance did not breach any agreement by transporting these arms ... in line with the 'ministerial declaration,'" which recognized the right to resist Israeli occupation, Yazbek said. "We are still in a confrontation with the enemy which continues to occupy parts of our land and continues to hold Lebanese detainees," he added. Lebanon claims sovereignty over the Shabaa Farms along the Lebanon-Syria-Israeli borders which Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and then annexed along with the rest of the Golan Heights. Hizbullah was the only armed group which was not asked to surrender its weapons after the country's 1975-1990 civil war because it was considered a "resistance group" then fighting Israel's occupation of Lebanese territory. U.N. Security Council resolutions have called for the disarming of all militias in Lebanon. On Thursday's Kalam el Nas talk show, Murr criticized Hizbullah's statement, saying he would have liked to see the group offer the shipment to the Lebanese army which on Wednesday engaged in a shootout with Israeli troops on the tense Israel-Lebanon border. It was the most serious clash since the Israel-Hizbullah summer war. Hizbullah legislator Hassan Fadlallah said Hizbullah insists on recovering the ammunition. "When we want to give gifts to the army we will do it, because the army is defending the border," he said at a press conference Friday.(Naharnet-AFP-AP)(Outside AFP file photo shows Lebanese soldiers deploying near the border town of Marjayoun and inside photo shows Murr) Beirut, 09 Feb 07, 21:16

Maronite Bishops liken clashes to 'coup d'etat'
By Maroun Khoury -Daily Star correspondent
Thursday, February 08, 2007
BKIRKI: The Council of Maronite Bishops said on Wednesday that riots and clashes across Lebanon in late January were "not an ordinary phenomenon, but rather an attempted coup d'etat" aimed at aborting the Paris III donors conference. "The situation in Lebanon is not reassuring, and what happened on January 23 and 25, from protests and burning tires to blocking roads, killing and wounding people, was an attempted coup aiming at changing the course of the country, should it succeed, and this is unusual in a country like Lebanon," the council said.
The bishops were referring to riots that followed an opposition strike on January 23 and clashes that erupted at Beirut Arab University two days later between government and opposition supporters. In a statement read by Monsignor Youssef Tawk following the bishops' monthly meeting in Bkirki, the council said that the Paris III meeting last month showed the importance of Lebanon to donor countries and institutions, despite attempts to thwart the donors conference.
"We have to thank all donor countries, especially France, whose President Jacques Chirac deployed all efforts to help Lebanon get out of its crisis," the council said.
The bishops also expressed gratitude to all of the Christian politicians who have signed a "code of honor" proposed by Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir to avoid inter-Christian discord.
Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, former minister Suleiman Franjieh and 22 Christian politicians within the March 14 Forces have expressed support for the code. "We hope that politicians put national interests above personal ones and deploy all efforts to ward off internal and external dangers threatening the country," the council said.  The bishops criticized the "shameful" political bickering between government and opposition leaders, which they said has led to a "paralysis" in public institutions. "They [politicians] are doing all they can to plunge the country into their discords, while countries are rushing to help us," the council said. In an address to the Maronite community ahead of Lent, Sfeir pointed out that the national debt was in excess of $40 billion "and is still increasing," while the majority of Lebanese youths "are leaving their land to work abroad due to a lack of job opportunities."
"Several businesses have been closed, especially in Downtown Beirut, where opposition supporters are spending their time smoking water pipes and playing cards," the prelate added. "The summer and winter seasons have also perished, thanks to the summer 2006 war with Israel and the losses it inflicted on the country."
The prelate said the worst aspect of the ongoing crisis was that constitutional bodies had ceased to function due to political bickering.
"The country's main public institutions are challenging one another, leaving their activity in paralysis," Sfeir said. "Instead of settling their discords with a constructive national spirit, our politicians, whether in power or not, are throwing at each other the most indecent words. I wish the Lebanese knew the value of their country, which is characterized by a unique amount of freedom that we have spoiled and turned into chaos."
Meanwhile, Arab League Ambassador Hisham Youssef said on Wednesday that he was "worried" by the stalemate.
"I have noted great concern over developments in the situation and great fear about the future of Lebanon," Hisham Youssef told reporters after a meeting with Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan held before he boarded a plane for Cairo. "We too feel this same sense of worry," he added. The ambassador said he would update Amr Moussa on the situation in Lebanon, adding that the Arab League chief would make his decision on when to resume his own mediation efforts in Lebanon "in light of his contacts in Moscow and with certain Arab countries and the international community."  Youssef, a top aide to Moussa, arrived in Beirut on Monday to meet with leaders of both the government and opposition ahead of the expected arrival of the Arab League chief. However, an Arab diplomatic source said Youssef "came up against a brick wall" during his meetings here. Moussa launched an initiative last December in a bid to resolve the political crisis sparked by the resignation of six Shiite ministers one month earlier. In comments made to Jordan's Al-Arab Al-Yaom daily to be published Wednesday, former Premier Omar Karami said that all initiatives to put an end to the deadlock to date had failed because they did not "ensure true participation in power.""Dialogue should resume in order to find a solution to the crisis based on true participation," he said. - With agencies

Tension Evident at St. Maroun Church
Lebanon's political crisis manifested itself at St. Maroun church on Friday as President Emile Lahoud and Premier Fouad Saniora sat meters apart during mass.
As Safir newspaper said that Saniora told a cabinet minister on Thursday that Protocol officials were considering exceptional seating procedures at the church since Lahoud regards the prime minister and the government illegitimate. Television footage showed Lahoud's seat placed on the right side of the altar while Saniora sitting on the left separated by the church's hallway. An Nahar daily said that reception at the church's hall was also cancelled given the sensitivities between the Saniora and opposition camps. Politicians, diplomats and clergymen also attended the mass on the occasion of St. Maroun day at the church in Gemmayze. Beirut's Maronite archbishop Boulos Matar, who led the mass, urged unity among politicians and called on them to resolve their problems to prevent the country from plunging back into civil war.The crisis erupted after the resignation of six pro-Syrian ministers from the Saniora cabinet in November. This was followed by an ongoing sit-in in downtown Beirut by the Hizbullah-led opposition aimed at toppling Saniora's government which is backed by the parliamentary majority.
The crisis turned bloody last month after street clashes between pro and anti-government protestors left at least nine dead and hundreds injured. Beirut, 09 Feb 07, 12:27

Press Release
Alliance for Democracy and Reform

Muslim Brothers to Military Court
In a recent wave of arrests of Muslim brothers, the ADR firmly detains sending a number of business men charged with financing the Muslim Brothers to military court, the Egyptian government indicates a severe declination of moving ahead in the political reform process as she promised. Civilian trials in military courts are a pervasive violation to the international conventions concerned about fair and just trials. Eminently, the undisrupted emergency law applied since President Mubarak took the lead of Egypt in 1981, gives him the right to send civilians to military courts. These courts lack the minimum level of just and fair trials as it’s almost impossible to appeal. The law is applied by officers ruled by the minister of defense, provided that he has the right to punish, and dismiss them and give them orders, where as the judges are assigned based on the Minister of Defense’s resolution for two years, renewable, and the military courts judges are subject to the military service rules which let intervention into their judgments.
The ADR possesses firm evidences; foretell that detainees will not get a fair trial, as they were arrested according to the emergency law following the statement given by one of the military courts to release the detainees, and refused to respond to the State Security Prosecution’s request for the detainees to remain in custody.
The ADR reminds with the stipulations of article 10 of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” which say that “Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him”, also article 1/14 of the “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” says that “All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, or of his rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.” Last but not least, according to principle 5 of the “Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary” that’s says “Everyone shall have the right to be tried by ordinary courts or tribunals using established legal procedures.
Tribunals that do not use the duly established procedures of the legal process shall not be created to displace the jurisdiction belonging to the ordinary courts or judicial tribunals.”
The ADR strictly detains this grave procedure especially that the country is getting ready for some cryptic constitutional amendments. Doubts arise on the government’s desire to issue an Anti-Terrorism law, so she could destroy the essential freedoms of civilians. ADR calls upon the president to cancel this decision and its consequences, as we urge the civil society’s institutions to stand firm against the use of military courts as a tool to squash freedoms and suppress a fundamental principle of human rights, which is the right of a just trial.
ADR also declares it’s confidence in the Penal code, and the ordinary Egyptian judiciary to strictly challenge whoever violates the law or messes with the security and stability of the society. By all means, monitors will be delegated to follow through the trials progression, as well as acknowledging the Egyptian, Arabic and international societies with the proceedings, knowing by heart that it’s always, innocent until proven guilty after a fair and just trial.

One hurdle less
Al Ahram Weekly
By: Khalid Amayreh from the West Bank
A high-level Arab League delegation arrived in Beirut this week for consultations aimed at assessing the chances for reconciliation. Headed by Ambassador Hesham Youssef, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa's chief of staff, the delegation's two-day visit, which started on Monday, included meetings with key political players. The visit comes amid the standoff between the Lebanese government and the Hizbullah-led opposition over the proposed international tribunal to try the assassins of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. The exchange of accusations between the two sides has included the Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Al-Siniora and the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri, who is in the opposition camp.
The delegation arrived in Beirut days before the second anniversary of Hariri's death on 14 February, and against a backdrop of increasing Israeli provocation of Hizbullah. Yesterday Israel's defence minister accused Syria of allowing Hizbullah to rearm, and said Israel reserved the right to take "forcefull" action to counter the threat. During his stay in Beirut, Youssef was keen to clarify his mission. His aim, he said, was to assess the possibility of Moussa visiting Lebanon to resume his mediation. Moussa placed his shuttle diplomacy on hold in late December, saying at the time that his efforts to encourage reconciliation had not succeeded, though the Arab League secretary-general did manage to contain any further escalation of the confrontation between the Lebanese government and opposition.
Moussa left the conflicting parties with a set of ideas aimed at closing the gap between them on the composition of a national unity government. His proposals included the majority parties keeping two-thirds of cabinet seats with less than one-third going to the opposition. One cabinet seat would be reserved for an independent, neutral candidate agreed by the majority and opposition, a formula intended to reassure the opposition that the make-up of the cabinet would not contravene the principles of Lebanon's consensual democracy.
It was the departure from consensus on the part of the majority in the Siniora government that ignited the political crisis in Lebanon, boiling since the assassination of Hariri two years ago and which reached an explosive point during the Israeli war against Lebanon last summer with Hizbullah accusing the government of playing in the hands of the aggressor. Moussa also asked Lebanon's conflicting factions to consider fixing the rules of the international tribunal and contemplate possible scenarios, and the political implications, of early elections. While the opposition has been demanding fresh parliamentary elections, the government has said they should be expanded to allow for the replacement of Lebanese President Emil Lahoud, whom the Siniora camp view as having been imposed by Damascus.
While acknowledging the obstacles to his mission, Youssef declined to comment on their gravity or whether or not they would torpedo Moussa's mediation efforts. An informed source says Youssef is likely to advise Moussa to consider resuming his diplomatic mission provided he can secure the support of key regional players, most notably Syria, which has close contacts with the opposition, and Saudi Arabia, which is in direct communication with Al-Siniora's government. Youssef, says the source, is "neither optimistic nor pessimistic". His assessment is likely to be that while "no breakthrough is in the works... efforts must be made to tackle what is becoming an increasingly complicated crisis".
Whatever the statements coming out of Lebanon on the possibility of Moussa resuming his mediation efforts, both the majority and opposition camps are keen to receive the secretary-general and work on an exit strategy from the current crisis, says the source.
Moussa's final decision, though, is not dependent solely on developments in Lebanon. It will be informed by a wide range of international factors. In Moscow this week for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Serge Lavrov, Moussa heard clear confirmation that there is a growing international awareness -- despite some American reluctance -- that a deal should emerge that will spare Damascus the serious political consequences that might come with accusations being leveled by the international tribunal of Syrian involvement in the killing of Hariri and other Lebanese political figures.
Saudi Arabia, which is preparing to chair the next Arab summit in March, is also keen to see a breakthrough from the current deadlock and avoid Lebanon dominating the summit. Riyadh has its own problems with the growing political demands of its Shia minority and is fast losing patience with the way the political crisis in Lebanon is being portrayed as an essentially Shia versus Sunni conflict. During the upcoming summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, the composition and mandate of the international tribunal is expected to be high on the agenda.
Resolving issues related to the tribunal, though, is but one part of a complicated jigsaw puzzle that also includes the make-up of the Lebanese government and the questions arising from an early legislative and presidential poll. Moussa may or may not go to Lebanon -- it is still unclear. If he does decide to go, though, say observers, the visit will be almost immediate. "The Arab League and the secretary-general are not going to give up on Lebanon," Youssef said at the conclusion of his trip to Beirut yesterday morning. What will happen if and when he arrives in Lebanon will depend on the assurances he can muster from regional and international protagonists, especially Syria, which means he may well be traveling to Beirut via Damascus>