January 11/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 1,29-39. On leaving the synagogue he entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you." He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come." So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee. -Naharnet

Free Opinions
Syria and Iran in Lebanon-Randa Takieddin Al-Hayat - 11/01/07
The Lebanese deserve to know who is not cooperating with the Hariri probe -Daily Star 11.01/07
A long Lebanese movie, or just a dud?
By Michael Young 11.01.07

Latest news from The Daily Star for January 11/07
Advance team arrives for talks on Paris III
Organizers call off labor protest in Beirut to consider next step
Siniora dismisses report of Bush ordering CIA to hit Hizbullah
US, France block Russian request to reveal states resisting Hariri probe
Lahoud blasts diplomats for 'breaching all norms'
Sayyed demands release from custody to 'preserve integrity' of Hariri probe
All sides condemn 'cowardly' assault on wife of former MP Ghattas Khoury
Hizbullah MP: Siniora Cabinet 'staging coup d'etat against Taif'
De-mining official expects South to be clear of cluster bombs by year's end
Garbage ends up on streets after closure of Arnoun dump
Professor encourages Lebanese to start eating wild plants

Latest news from Miscellaneous sources for January 11/07
Lebanon opposition pursues protest campaign-Reuters
Labor strike falls flat as few show up for protest at Beirut tax ...Daily Star
Hezbollah Widens Anti-Government Campaign-Washington Post
Rice Embarks on Mideast Tour Friday, Attends Paris III Later-Naharnet
German Embassy Fears Attacks on Citizens in Lebanon-Naharnet

Former MP Wife Attacked-Naharnet

Olmert in China to Discuss Iran, Palestine and Lebanon-Naharnet
Russia Insists Brammertz Should Reveal Names of Countries Not Cooperating with Hariri Probe-Naharnet
Bush: New Wave of Troops Set for Iraq
Al Qaeda in Lebanon says report-Gulf News
''Lebanon: A Strained Political Stalemate''-PINR - USA
MI chief: Al-Qaida militants in Lebanon planning attacks-Ha'aretz
Russia wants names of those impeding Lebanon probe-Reuters

Commentary: For Syria, Golan is key to peace-Middle East Times
Beirut Memo A Nation With a Long Memory, but a Truncated History-New York Times, NY
More Than 50 Die in US Strikes in Somalia New York Times
US targets Al Qaeda-
New York Daily News

Latest news from the Daily Star for January 11/07
Senior Israeli officer takes swipe at UNIFIL
Egypt frets dire consequences if Lebanese deadlock intensifies
Labor strike falls flat as few show up for protest at Beirut tax office
Think tanks: helpful, but not a panacea
UNIFIL denies report of clash with Hizbullah
UN mulls call to identify states slowing Hariri probe
Parliament secretariat shelves opposition petition until next session in March
Fneish responds in kind to criticism from 'corrupt' Jumblatt
Germany Embassy 'fears attacks on nationals by radicals'
Army detains high-ranking PFLP-GC officer
Gemayel cites alleged Koura bomb plot as evidence SSNP may have killed his son

Doctors at AUB carry out rare neck procedure for first time in Middle East
Nuns give abandoned babies second chance in life
Downtown Beirut: front line to the world -By Rami G. Khouri

Former MP Wife Attacked
The wife of former MP Ghattas Khoury has been attacked by a lone assailant who intercepted her as she walked from work at the American University Hospital of Beirut. Lebanese newspapers reported Wednesday that the attacker repeatedly punched Dr. Samar Ghattas in the face, asking her: "Did you like that?" before running away.Ghattas Khoury is a close aid to Al Mustaqbal leader Saad Hariri.(Naharnet file photo is of Ghattas Khoury)
Beirut, 10 Jan 07, 09:19

Russia Insists Brammertz Should Reveal Names of Countries Not Cooperating with Hariri Probe

Naharnet: Russia has set off a controversy in the U.N. Security Council by insisting that chief U.N. investigator Serge Brammertz identify 10 countries which he said had failed to cooperate in ex-premier Rafik Hariri's assassination. Russia's U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin, who chairs the 15-member council this month, cited on Tuesday Brammertz' latest report on Hariri's murder released last December indicating that responses to requests for cooperation "sent to 10 separate member states are overdue." The U.N. report, the sixth to look into the February 14, 2005 bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others on the Beirut seafront, made it clear that "the lack of responsiveness by certain states has serious consequences in terms of delay for the work of the commission and its investigative process.""We were concerned about that," Churkin told reporters in New York.
"It is important for the sake of principle, objectivity and credibility to make sure all countries Mr. Brammertz is turning to provide full and proper cooperation with the commission," he added.
But the United States and European members of the council objected to Russia's bid to press Brammertz to identify the 10 countries which have so far failed to cooperate with the probe. Last week, Kuwait's state-run news agency, Kuna, said Russia, China, Qatar, Indonesia and South Africa made the proposal to disclose the names of countries during a "private council meeting." Churkin conceded that there was no consensus despite his attempt to come up with a compromise text that would have asked Brammertz to be "more specific" about who the countries involved are.
"Brammertz said he did not want to name the countries and said he would come back to the council in March," according to a Western diplomat. "If he needs help, he will let us know. Let's trust him, and not play political games." Brammertz's German predecessor, Detlev Mehlis, had implicated in the Hariri slaying senior officials from Syria, which for decades was the power broker in Lebanon. Damascus strongly denies any connection with Hariri's slaying. The U.N. probe has focused attention on Syria's level of cooperation with U.N. investigators, with the December report stating that "the level of assistance provided by Syria during the reporting period remains generally satisfactory."
"If we focus so hard on one country (Syria), why should we disregard completely or not want to know who those (10 other countries) are," Churkin said.
Last month, Brammertz, a Belgian prosecutor, said his panel "has reached a critical stage" in its probe. But he added that his panel and Lebanese authorities both "believe that placing information concerning suspects and witnesses in the public domain would make it difficult for sensitive witnesses to step forward and engage with the commission and may be prejudicial to future trials before a tribunal."(AFP-Naharnet) (AFP photo shows Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin speaking to the media)  Beirut, 10 Jan 07, 07:47

Rice Embarks on Mideast Tour Friday, Attends Paris III Later
Naharnet: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel to the Middle East Friday in an effort revive Arab-Israeli peace moves and would later attend a Lebanon donors' conference in Paris, the State Department announced Tuesday. Rice will visit Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait before stop-offs in Germany and Britain during the January 12-19 trip, department spokesman Sean McCormack said. He said Rice would also attend the Paris III Lebanon donors' conference in a second trip January 24 and 25.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 09 Jan 07, 19:22

Olmert in China to Discuss Iran, Palestine and Lebanon
Naharnet: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday kicked off a three-day visit to Beijing, where he will hold talks with China's leaders focusing mainly on Iran's nuclear program, bilateral trade, the Palestinian issue and the situation in Lebanon.
Olmert's first stop was a massive dairy farm built with Israeli technology situated on the outskirts of Beijing, where the 61-year-old premier pulled up his sleeves and milked a cow. A senior Israeli official said the project "symbolizes the type of cooperation the two countries want."
Olmert then headed to the site of the Olympic Village being built for Beijing's hosting of the Games in 2008. After viewing the model of the village and the colossal central stadium, Olmert wrote in the site's guest book that "I am sure the Beijing games will be the most successful and a symbol of friendship and peace." Olmert was to hold talks later with Trade Minister Bo Xilai before meeting Premier Wen Jiabao Wednesday and President Hu Jintao Thursday for talks focusing on Iran, as well as the Palestinian question, Syria and Lebanon.
The visit, marking 15 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries, is Olmert's last leg in a recent tour of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to discuss Iran's nuclear bid, which Israel claims is aimed at acquiring an atomic bomb despite Tehran's repeated denials.
"Olmert is arriving in China for a round of very important talks during which he will press through the Iranian issue," a senior Israeli official told reporters on board the premier's plane. Unlike his talks in Britain, France, Russia and the United States, Olmert expects to encounter little enthusiasm in Beijing for Israel's call to slap heavy sanctions on Iran, one of China's major suppliers of oil and gas needed to feed its fast-growing economy.
The Jewish state, the Middle East's sole though undeclared nuclear power, considers Iran its arch foe amid repeated calls by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for Israel to be wiped off the map. "But we must prepare for the next round of sanctions against Iran in the coming months," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Even though it did not oppose a Security Council resolution on December 23 slapping light sanctions on Iran, "China, too, has no interest in seeing a nuclear Iran," he said. "It is still very important to go to Beijing and spell out Israel's concerns over a nuclear Iran," the official said. Although China has generally kept a low profile in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a recent surge in efforts to restart the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians is also expected to be discussed.
Meanwhile, bilateral economic ties will play an important role during Olmert's talks with the Chinese leadership, as the two sides are expected to sign two new trade agreements on Wednesday. Trade between the two nations was worth three billion dollars at the end of last year, up 20 percent from 2005, according to figures provided by the Israeli embassy in Beijing. Chinese exports to Israel accounted for 2.25 billion dollars in trade last year, while high-tech products made up 46 percent of the Israeli flow of goods to China. Bilateral trade is expected to jump another 20 percent this year, according to the Israeli embassy. Israel has in the past also supplied arms technology to China. However, following two deals that drew U.S. opposition, Israel agreed to allow Washington to oversee the trade in this area.
During the visit, Olmert's first as premier but his second in fewer than three years, he will also tour the Forbidden City and visit the Great Wall.
On a personal note, Olmert, whose parents found sanctuary from Russian persecution in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin in the early 1900s, has branded the visit as a return to his roots. "I have a spiritual link with China," he told Israel's mass-selling Yediot Aharonot daily. "For me, China is not just another country -- it is an important part of my family history."(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 09 Jan 07, 19:13

Gemayel cites alleged Koura bomb plot as evidence SSNP may have killed his son
Former president lashes out at lahoud for refusing to let by-election take place
By Rym Ghazal -Daily Star staff
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
BEIRUT: Former President Amin Gemayel "wondered" on Tuesday whether the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) could have played a role in the assassination of his son, Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel. In a news conference held at his home in Sin al-Fil, the former president's first since his son's death on November 21, Gemayel said: "It is within our rights to question what the SSNP link might be to the current political unrest and severe security breaches that have plagued this country." Gemayel, who heads the Phalange Party, related the bad history between his group and the SSNP, beginning with the assassination of Bashir Gemayel in 1982 by a member of the SSNP in a powerful blast that ripped through a Phalange Party office in Beirut's Achrafieh district. SSNP member Habib Chartouni was charged with the murder, but he escaped from Roumieh Central Prison when Syrian troops occupied the region northeast of Beirut in October 1990. He remains at large.
Gemayel said that the ongoing clashes between the two parties and the reported failed attempt to detonate a bomb at a Phalange Party rally in Koura in 2005 puts the SSNP "in doubt." The Internal Security Forces confiscated large quantities of explosives, detonators and timers in December of last year, which the SSNP later declared were left over from its resistance activity against Israel in the 1980s, with the exception of the explosives which the police reported as "modern."At the time, the Future Movement's Al-Mustaqbal newspaper published a confession by SSNP member Tony Mansour, who was arrested along with six other SSNP members during a police raid at the members' homes in Koura last month, saying that he had been given orders to detonate a bomb at the rally.
"It was confirmed to us by sources close to the case that the Koura bomb attempt was true, and so the SSNP had a clear criminal intention toward me and my son," said Gemayel. "So it's my right to question whether they killed my son."
Pierre Gemayel was killed by unidentified gunmen who opened fire at his car in broad daylight in the northern Beirut suburb of New Jdeideh.
"We call on the Lebanese judiciary to complete its investigation into this case and verify whether the SSNP is linked to terrorist acts and assassinations that have marred this country," said Gemayel. The former president also requested that the judiciary "stay strong" in the face of any pressures it may be receiving to "close the case." Gemayel said there were "no new developments" on holding a by-election in Metn to replace his son, blaming the situation on President Emile Lahoud.
"Lahoud is refusing to sign the decrees to allow the election to take place, he is purposely violating the Constitution and causing delays," he said.
In answering a question about the measures he wanted fellow Phalange Party members to adopt, Gemayel said that "a coup-like approach is being imposed on Lebanon, which we should be aware of. We should be ready to confront the direct threat aimed at national institutions." "But we are open to dialogue to all groups, and so we need to head back to the table and end this deadlock," Gemayel said, adding that he had not "cut ties" with Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun as had been reported in the media. "We have also been in close contact with Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah but so far, there have been no solutions," said Gemayel.
The SSNP denied on Tuesday denied any involvement in the assassination of Pierre Gemayel, saying: "There is no truth to the claims made by Amin Gemayel.""If Gemayel wants to open files and prosecute, we are ready and have our own files and records that we will publish," said a statement released by the SSNP. The SSNP also called on the judiciary to speed up its investigation and "clear the party's name from this political campaign aimed at smearing the party's name." Tags: Middle East, Lebanon, Hezbollah, Nuclear, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Michel Hayek, Bush, Iran, Saddam, Palestinian, Hamas, Fouad Sanyoura, Hariri, Downtown Beirut

Downtown Beirut: front line to the world
By Rami G. Khouri -Daily Star staff
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Every time I walk through the front line of the political confrontation in Downtown Beirut between the American- and Saudi-backed Lebanese government of Fouad Siniora and the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hizbullah-led opposition, I have the sense of walking through a 1970s-era American rock festival or a World War II movie set. The Beirut scene encapsulates today's multiple ideological and cultural confrontations in the Middle East and the world, and may be the most visible front line of the wider global face-off. Like all other things Lebanese, this serious, often tense, and increasingly unpredictable confrontation is garnished with a bit of levity, and much humanity.
On one side are numerous encampments of government soldiers, amid armored personnel carriers and several layers of barbed-wire barriers, reflecting both the special camaraderie of their profession and the deadly serious nature of their mission. The relaxed demeanor of the troops suggests that D-Day is some ways away. One giveaway is that this muscular "war" scene takes place on a stretch of road that houses a music conservatory, a church, Beirut's Buddha Bar, a Subway shop, major banks, the Serail, and one of Beirut's best cigar shops.
Facing this military encampment across the front line is the tent city of several hundred full-time protesters from Hizbullah, the Free Patriotic Movement and half a dozen other mini-movements, where young lads seem to sleep most of the day and rally most of the night to fine music and fractious political rhetoric.
When the weather is fine, especially on evenings, weekends and official holidays, thousands of families converge on Downtown Beirut to rally for the opposition. The smell of grilled meat wafts over the scene, music interspersed with political speeches fills the air, and hundreds of young couples, families, and groups of friends sit around on chairs and mats, playing cards or backgammon, waving flags, and, mostly, smoking water pipes loaded with nicely flavored tobaccos.
For an indiscreet moment, you think that this is what one version of Paradise must be like: friendly folks having a good time, with plenty of camaraderie, good food and music, and only pleasant garden smells from a thousand water pipes. That is a passing thought only, for this is serious business, pushing Lebanon toward an increasingly strident confrontation with no clear outcome.
The dramatic front line is much more than just an anthropologically fascinating bifurcation of a very pluralistic and tolerant society. It is also more than a great urban center's ability to keep adding to its historical repertoire by inventing new ways for people to congregate and affirm their powerful humanity as well as their simple need to enjoy life.
The sharp cultural and political distinctions between the two camps that face off in central Beirut will now spread throughout the city, following Monday's decision by the Hizbullah-led opposition to escalate the peaceful protests to government offices and public facilities. Like the central Beirut dynamic, this escalation is matched step by step by an increasingly self-confident and assertive government. Among its moves has been the deployment of the army and police force to preserve order and keep open public facilities. Little encampments of army and police are visible all over the city at strategic junctions. Mostly they comprise a single armored personnel carrier with a typically dashing young soldier hanging out of the hatch door, smoking a cigarette or munching on a sandwich, with a few other of his mates standing around on the street.
The message of all this resonates far beyond central Beirut, reflecting a trend that we are witnessing in several Arab countries simultaneously: incumbent governments facing challenges from Islamist-led oppositions are standing their ground, defending their positions, and fighting back politically; in Palestine, Iraq and Somalia, the state also fights back militarily. Beirut's standoff remains peaceful, even though politicians on both sides occasionally verge into silly-land with their vitriolic rhetoric.
Here is the long-delayed synthesis between anthropology, ideology and politics in the modern Middle East, as groups with very different agendas and significant domestic and foreign support square off and battle for control of the governance system. The roughly equal weight and determination of the two Lebanese camps augurs for a compromise in due course, unless foreign interests push for a prolonged battle.
Watch this political battle closely. Lebanon may emerge from all this as a historic beacon of peaceful, increasingly democratic contestation of power in the modern Arab world; or, if things go badly, it may shatter and collapse in an ugly heap, fueled by a combination of mediocre local, provincial politicians egged on by selfish foreign patrons.
**Rami G. Khouri writes a regular commentary for THE DAILY STAR.
Tags: Middle East, Lebanon, Hezbollah, Nuclear, Iran, Syria, Israel, Michel Hayek, Bush, Iran, Saddam, Palestinian, Hamas, Fouad Sanyoura, Hariri, Downtown Beirut.

Syria and Iran in Lebanon
Randa Takieddin Al-Hayat - 10/01/07//
The constant escalation adopted by the Lebanese opposition, which has come at the expense of the economic circumstances in the country since the Israeli war on Lebanon in July, confirms that, while Syria pulled its forces out of Lebanon, its dominance there remains thanks to its allies.
Today, the whole world, except for Syria and Lebanon, wants to help Lebanon out of its economic crisis, while the opposition tries its utmost to paralyze the Lebanese economy.
The statements made by a former minister, an ally of Syria, in which he called for shutting down the airport, seaports and the roads before the holiday season, forced about 60,000 people in the Gulf to cancel their visits to Lebanon and head to Egypt instead.
As a result, Lebanon's hotels have all become vacant, their staff turned unemployed, never mind the fact that all walks of economic life suffer from recession.
The Syrian project for Lebanon is to work for the cancellation of the international tribunal because Syria is afraid of the truth. But even in the situation where Syria works through its allies in Lebanon to block or postpone the establishment of the tribunal, what is more important than the tribunal is the essence of the international inquiry that is being carried out by Serge Brammertz.
Everyone is looking forward to and calling for the international tribunal, but they forget that the results of the international inquiry are the important thing as they will, lead sooner or later, to the perpetrators of the crimes that Lebanon has witnessed.
It is better, then, that Syria becomes convinced of setting up the court, since the solution lies in changing its conduct and actually treating Lebanon as an independent and sovereign country. This would allow Syria to be reintegrated into to the international community; as was the case with Libya which became convinced of the necessity of agreeing with the results of the two trails over the cases of the UTA flight and Lockerbie.
As to the pro-Syrian Lebanese opposition, it cannot be left to obstruct the efforts to help Lebanon out of its economic crisis, because the country is not an exclusive property of the Future Movement, the Democratic Gathering, Hizbullah or Amal. No, an economically flourishing and advanced Lebanon is for everyone.
Syria blocked the economic reforms that the Paris 2 conference had demanded from the government of martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri through President Emile Lahoud.
The self-same scenario is being repeated. Hariri was murdered as was MP Basil Fuleihan and journalists Samir Kassir, Gebran Tueni and after them the former Communist leader George Hawi then MP Pierre Gemayel. This chain of disasters could continue while President Lahoud is steadfast in his disruptiveness to serve the interests of those who chose him and extended his term.
As Lebanon is on the verge of bankruptcy, what exactly does the opposition want? Does it want to hand over the country to Syria and Iran or does it want to corrupt and destroy the country and postpone reforms indefinitely in service to these two countries?
The Paris 3 conference, currently under preparation in Paris with the attendance of the Lebanese ministers of finance and economy and the governor of the central bank, is vital to rescuing Lebanon and allowing it to pay its employees salaries and fund its fuel imports.
If the resistance is truly patriotic then it must encourage all of the opposition parties to agree to dialogue and discuss Lebanon's destiny apart from the interests of Syria, Iran or any other state. Either that or disruption and corruption will effect all