LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 5,21-43. When Jesus had crossed again (in the boat) to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, "My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live."He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him. There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured."Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?" But his disciples said to him, "You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, 'Who touched me?'" And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction." While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official's house arrived and said, "Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?"Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid; just have faith." He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, "Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep."And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child's father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!"The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. (At that) they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.
Hezbollah and its satellites are either mercenaries or-World Forum - USA 31/01/07
Lebanon's Opposition: Hypocritical, or Sinister?Ya Libnan
When desperation leads to deception - Aoun learns to Photoshop-Ya Libnan 31/01/07
Traitors, Hypocrites and Thugs The New Lebanese Opposition??American Chronicle 31/01/07
Lebanese leaders give mothers good reason to fear for their children-Daily Star 31/01/07
Iran wants to steer away from a Sunni-Shiite clash By Sadegh Zibakalam 31/01/07
It is no easy thing being Lebanon By Frederic C. Hof 31/01/07
Analysis: A tale of two cities, redux-Monsters and Critics.com
Latest News Reports From miscellaneous sources For 31/01/07
Bush: Syria, Iran, Hizbullah Must be 'Called to Account' for Destabilizing Lebanon-Naharner
Nasrallah Wants 'National Resistance' Movement to Liberate Shabaa Farms-Naharner
Nasrallah's 'National' Tag-Naharner
Lebanon's Army Command Adopts Stringent Approach to Enforce Law, Order-Naharner
Shiites Mark Ashoura in Lebanon, Mideast-Naharner
What's Pulling Lebanon Apart-CBS News
Shiites in Lebanon mark Ashoura with blood spilling marches-International Herald Tribune
Washington Watch: Lebanon On The Edge-Middle East Online
Classes Suspended at Lebanese University Till Monday-Naharner
Lebanon: UN force rises above 12000 as troops arrive from Qatar-UN News Centre
Lebanon war letdown demonstrates need for new decision making process-Ynetnews
Diplomatic Odd Couple Tries to Avert War in Lebanon-New York Times
International Conference of Support to Lebanon - Canadian statement-ReliefWeb
They would not listen-Ha'aretz
Bush warns Iran, Syria, Hezbollah on Lebanon-France24
Hezbollah draws on Ashura in battle and politics-Reuters
Turkey warns Lebanon, Egypt against oil exploration deal with Cyprus-Khaleej Times
Latest News Reports From the Daily Star For 30/01/07
US admits Israel 'likely' broke rules on cluster bombs
Diplomats renew effort to calm Beirut
Belgian envoy recommends 'political balance'
Italian general arrives to take over command of UNIFIL
Armenian Orthodox leader counsels coexistence
Lebanese University to search students for guns
Irish foreign minister to visit Beirut
SOLIDA: Jailed security chiefs' rights must be upheld
Meteorologists predict cloudy, rainy days ahead
Siniora holds meeting with Brammertz
Media council chief cites perils of 'tense rhetoric'
FPM says 'de facto government' is stirring strife
Paris III includes something for private sector, too
Students determined to complete their education despite political row
Fadlallah urges Islamic unity during Ashoura
Spooked Beirutis fear new 'balloon-borne' Israeli plot
Good for roadblocks, bad for health: Watchdogs condemn tire-burning
Private firm wants right to generate power for long-suffering Bekaa
Lebanon's Opposition: Hypocritical, or Sinister?
Tuesday, 30 January, 2007 @ 7:11 AM
By Alan Hafeza,
Ya Libnan Volunteer
In a stunning about-turn, Hezbollah now says that it is "criminal" for citizens to gather, demonstrate, and hold sit-ins.
MP Mohammad Raad affirmed on Sunday that such actions are criminal since they may lead to civil strife, and the responsibility is borne by the individuals who participate, and the leaders of the groups that call for such gatherings.
Hezbollah's newfound aversion to such freedoms would've been truly startling had Raad been referring to his own party's actions on Black Tuesday, which by all measures transcended legal demonstrations, or had he been addressing the ongoing tent-city carnival near the Grand Serail, where paid Hezbollah mercenaries continue to occupy public land and block private businesses.
Instead, he was referring to the upcoming second anniversary of the assassination of ex-prime minister Rafik Harriri on February 14th, and the expected gathering by the faithful near his grave on that day.
Alas, Raad wasn't having an awakening of the conscience. He was merely being a hypocrite: "do as I say, not as I do." Or, even more ominously: he was promising violence for any peaceful gathering near Harrir's grave.
The events are still fresh in our memories to interpret sincerity in his call. It was only a few days ago that the opposition militias of Hezbollah, Aoun, and other minor players unsuccessfully hid behind "democracy" in their futile coup d'etat attempt. In scenes reminiscent of the dark days of the civil war, they blocked roads with burning tires and truck loads of dirt and rock. They unleashed their thugs to dump oil, nails on public roads and intimidate ordinary citizens from reaching their workplaces. They closed airport roads and created a virtual siege on Beirut. They dismembered Lebanon's major thorough fares ... replicating the strategy used by Israel during the summer war.
Ordinary citizens refused to allow these militias to intimidate them and deprive them of their freedoms. They forced the opening of these roads and we nearly fell into the abyss again.
Back then, Hezbollah and Aoun saw nothing wrong with their terror. Even worse, using a bizarre and twisted logic, they decried the attempts to liberate the roads as an assault on their rights to hijack the country. Of course, everyone saw right through this warped understanding of democracy, and it became clear to civilized people everywhere that Hezbollah and Aoun are bankrupt.
With these events so near and fresh, you'd think the instigators would be reticent to ask of others what they themselves have exceeded by orders of magnitude.
I truly want to find the sincerity in Raad's statement, and maybe even accept his pronouncement as an honest attempt to prevent hostilities. But I can't ... the events are just too fresh.
Perhaps if Mr. Raad's statement had been something like this, he may have had a chance at legitimacy:
"We in the opposition have learned a valuable lesson from the Black Tuesday events. We have learned that our incessant fanning of the flames of sectarianism among our Shiaa supporters, such as telling them, among other things, the government wants to "ship" them outside Lebanon, have created an uncontrollable monster. We have learned that in this tinder-box, any situation that causes friction between the opposing parties is dangerous and can flare up into full blown armed conflict. We have learned that closing roads, holding illegal sit-ins, and threatening our fellow citizens is counterproductive and will cause civil war. We, Hezbollah, have made a mistake, and ask the all parties to learn from our mistake. As a gesture of our good-will, we are ending the sit-in near the Grand Serail to permit the peaceful observance of Rafik Harriri's commemoration on February 14."
Of course, I'm not holding my breath.
Bush: Syria, Iran, Hizbullah Must be 'Called to Account' for Destabilizing Lebanon
U.S. President George Bush has accused Iran, Syria and Hizbullah of fomenting the latest violence in Lebanon, adding they must be "called to account" for trying to destabilize the country. "While Lebanon's friends seek to help the Lebanese government build a free, sovereign, and prosperous country, Syria, Iran and Hizbullah are working to destabilize Lebanese society," Bush said in a statement Monday.
"All those who seek a peaceful, constitutional solution to the crisis in Lebanon deserve the support of the international community, but those responsible for creating chaos must be called to account," he said.
At least eight people were reported killed and more than 300 wounded in violence between pro and anti-government factions last Tuesday and Thursday."I am deeply disappointed by the recent violence and bloodshed on the streets of Lebanon. It is all the more troubling that the violence occurred while Lebanon's legitimate leaders and friends were gathered together in Paris to help secure a peaceful and prosperous future for the country," said Bush. The U.S. has pledged 770 million dollars in new aid to Lebanon as part of a major international drive to rebuild the country and bolster the government of Premier Fouad Saniora. He said that total U.S. support for a peaceful Lebanon will approach $1 billion if Congress backs his funding request. "This is a strong symbol of the American people's support for and commitment to the future of Lebanon," said Bush, who had tough words for Damascus, Tehran, and Hizbullah. Bush said they sought to derail the creation of the international tribunal to try suspects in the murder of ex-premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes. He also accused them of trying to stall Hizbullah's disarmament as called for by the U.N. Security Council.
"Their goals are clear. They foment violence in order to prevent the establishment of a Special Tribunal in response to former Prime Minister Hariri's assassination, to prevent full implementation of U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for Hizbullah's disarmament, and to bring down Lebanon's democratically elected government," said Bush.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 30 Jan 07, 07:48
Nasrallah Wants 'National Resistance' Movement to Liberate Shabaa Farms
Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday called for the formation of a multi-faction "national resistance" movement to liberate the Israeli-occupied Shabaa Farms. In an address marking the Ashoura Anniversary, Nasrallah told the crowd: "I call for the creation of a national resistance to liberate the Shabaa farms. …whoever was prevented by us from liberating Shabaa Farms should step forward to liberate and we'll be with him."
Nasrallah's call was the first ever acknowledgement by Hizbullah that it had prevented factions comprising the leftist National Resistance Movement from carrying out attacks against the Israeli-occupation forces in south Lebanon.
Nasrallah stressed that there should be a "sole national resistance (movement) to liberate our national land … the state is responsible for protecting the borders."He admitted that Hizbullah fighters are not along the southern confrontation line with Israel, saying "this is not a secret."
Nasrallah was referring to the deployment south of the Litani river of U.N. peacekeepers and regular troops of the Lebanese army since U.N. Security Council resolution 1701 ended a 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah on Aug. 14.The Hizbullah leader said U.S. President George Bush "should be punished."He said the U.S. President and his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had "ordered the Zionists to launch war against Lebanon."
He accused Washington of devising a "conspiracy to retaliate against resistance movements by instigating civil wars in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq."
The alleged plot, according to Nasrallah, was to start "civil wars and inter-communal fighting" in states hosting resistance movements.
Syria was not mentioned by Nasrallah as a target of the alleged plot, presumably because President Bashar Assad's regime does not permit resistance attacks against Israeli troops occupying the Golan Heights since 1967. Nasrallah stressed that Hizbullah's Islamic Resistance was "ready" to confront any Israeli aggression, stressing that whoever believes that it has weakened is "deluded."
He pledged that Hizbullah would make Lebanon a "graveyard for invaders." The crowd in Beirut's southern suburb responded by repeated chants of "death to America, death to Israel and death to the great Satan."The outspoken Hizbullah leader stressed that his party will "not be lured into using its weapons" against other Lebanese factions, and called for an independent judicial investigation to bring to justice culprits in the violence that swept Beirut last week. "We underline our determination to avoid any collision" with other Lebanese factions, Nasrallah said declaring that "I adhere to the just demands of the opposition" which has been trying since Dec. 1 to topple Premier Fouad Saniora's Majority government.
He called for the formation of "a state (government) based on cooperation … to steer Lebanon out of its crises."The opposition demands, according to Nasrallah, are of a "political nature and the solution can only be a political one." Beirut, 30 Jan 07, 12:58
Classes Suspended at Lebanese University Till Monday
Lebanese University Rector Zuhair Shokor on Tuesday extended for a week the suspension of classes at the government-run institute in an effort to avoid violence between its students. A statement said the decision, adopted in consultations between Shokor and Education Minister Khaled Qabbani, aimed at "consolidating a positive atmosphere" in relations between students. Violence erupted at the Beirut Arab University Thursday between students backing anti and pro-government factions and spread throughout the capital, killing at least four people and wounding more than 160.
The Lebanese army enforced a 10-hour curfew that expired Friday morning after its units deployed throughout the capital to contain the spiraling violence. Beirut, 30 Jan 07, 17:48
Army Command Adopts Stringent Approach to Enforce Law, Order
The army command stressed in a directive issued Tuesday that throwing rocks and opening fire are equal offences, stressing that "what has happened will not recur."Text of the directive, relaying Army Commander Gen. Michael Suleiman's instructions to his troops, was distributed by the army command.It stressed that those who "open fire or throw rocks are equal in the eyes of the law. Throwing rocks is more painful and more humiliating."
The army command, the directive pledged, would "not lax at all" in chasing offenders. "Let it be known that what has happened will not recur. You are required to enforce laws and instructions under the supervision of your superiors." The directive was apparently referring to the spate of violence that has swept Lebanon since last Tuesday in which at least seven people were killed and more than 250 wounded.
Followers of anti and pro-government factions used sticks, iron rods and rocks against each other. Several soldiers were wounded in the mushrooming violence that spread when the Hizbullah-led opposition blocked roads to enforce a general strike it called last Tuesday. Beirut, 30 Jan 07, 17:34
Nasrallah's 'National' Tag
By Mohammed Salam
Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's declared strategy tag is based on the single concept of "unity" –Lebanon's synonym to partnership- in sharp contrast with the movement's background that rests on a history of monopoly.
For over 16 years, ending on Aug. 14 2006, when U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 enforced a ceasefire in the 34-day war with Israel, Hizbullah enjoyed a resistance monopoly in south Lebanon.
The Lebanese National Resistance Movement (LNRM), an underground alliance of leftist factions that fought Israel after its invading troops occupied Beirut in Sept. 1982, faced de facto dismantling of its network as Hizbullah was gaining the upper hand in the country that was run by Syria's army and intelligence agencies.
LNRM leaders and fighters were either assassinated or killed while trying to carry out attacks against Israeli troops occupying parts of south Lebanon. Some of them were "liquidated" before reaching the confrontation zone with what Hizbullah terms "the Zionist enemy."
However, after saying it is "no secret" that Hizbullah fighters are no more in the confrontation zone of south Lebanon, Nasrallah made a call for the creation of a "sole" multi-faction national resistance movement to liberate the Shabaa Farms.
Nasrallah even went as far as saying that "whoever has been banned from liberating (the Farms) should step forward to liberate (the area) and we'll be with him."
The key note in this National Resistance call by Nasrallah is "we'll be with him."
So Nasrallah wants Hizbullah, which did not even allow the regular Lebanese army into south Lebanon during its monopoly era, to return to the confrontation zone with Israel, but this time with "partners" under the banner of a "national" resistance movement.
The next move would, almost certainly, be a declaration forming this "national" resistance outfit, which would group Syrian-backed factions that form Lebanon's opposition.
The Arab Socialist Baath Party, Lebanon's chapter of Syria's regime, is expected to be part of the new resistance along with the Syrian Social National Party (SSNP) and Osama Saad's Popular Nasserite Organization.
It remains to be seen, though, whether the resistance frame as outlined by Nasrallah would include his two main Christian allies: Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement and ex-MP Suleiman Franjieh's Marada faction.
Nasrallah had wanted both Aoun's FPM and Franjieh's Marada be represented in a government of "national unity" replacing the majority administration of Premier Fouad Saniora which the opposition has been trying in vain to topple since Dec. 1.
But how would the Nasrallah-designed "national resistance" structure, irrespective of whether it represents all the opposition factions or not, manage to launch attacks against Israeli troops in Shabaa Farms?
First they would have to cross the 23-kilometer deep buffer south of the Litani river patrolled by the Lebanese army and troops of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Geographically, Nasrallah's "liberation" road to Shabaa Farms goes through UNIFIL's area of operations. This is a fact.
Was Nasrallah setting the stage for a "national" war on UNIFIL?
That remains to be seen, especially that the Saniora government has been working for putting the Shabaa farms under U.N. control pending a settlement of its fate, which Syria doesn't facilitate.
The region was occupied by Israel in its 1967 war against Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Beirut, 30 Jan 07, 14:54
Shiites Mark Ashoura in Lebanon, Mideast
Tens of thousands of men marched through the streets of Lebanon on Tuesday, some pounding their chests and others cutting their heads with razor blades or swords to mark Ashoura, the holiest Shiite ritual which commemorates the killing of Imam Hussein in 680 by armies of the Sunni caliph Yazid in Iraq. The marches in Lebanon -- and others in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran -- took place despite tension between Shiites and their Sunni Muslim rivals that has risen during the past year as the power struggles in Beirut and Baghdad took sectarian lines.
In Beirut, squads of black-clad Hizbullah men beat their chests in rhythm as a sign of grief as they walked in cold rainy weather through the southern suburbs, passing buildings damaged by Israeli air strikes during last year's war against their fighters' movement. Women raised their fists and joined spectators in cries of "At your service, O, Hussein!", "Death to Israel!" and "Death to America!"
In Sihat, a town in eastern Saudi Arabia near the city of Dammam, hundreds of men stood in a farm shed, beating their chests with their open palms and wailing "O, Hussein, God is great! God is Great!" In a large shed next door, women followed the demonstration on closed circuit TV, tapping their one hand with the other in time to the rhythm set by the men.
One of their holiest days of the Shiite year, Ashoura marks the killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, in a 680 A.D. battle at Karbala in Iraq. As the victors went on to become the Sunni branch of Islam, Hussein's death is regarded as the start of the schism between Sunnis and Shiites. The story of Hussein's final hours was recounted in a huge hall in south Beirut by a cleric who broke down and wept. Several thousand men and women listened in segregated seating, many weeping or slapping their heads in mourning.
In the southern Lebanese town of Nabatiyeh, thousands of Shiite men walked in circles in the town square, many slashing their heads with swords and then pounding the wound with the palm of their hand. They wore a piece of white cloth around their neck to absorb the blood.
Men brought their young sons, parts of their heads shaven, to a specially decorated hall in Nabatiyeh where a man, known as Hajj Khodor, wiped a blade with alcohol before hitting each boy three or four times on the head. Some boys cried and resisted, but the cutting proceeded.
"We're used to it," said Mahmoud Jaber, 43, who brought his five boys and two girls to slash their heads. "We've been doing this since we were kids. I started when I was three. It doesn't hurt because the cry of pain goes away with the faith."(AP-Naharnet) (AP photo shows a Shiite woman crying as she listens to the story of Imam Hussein during Ashoura day in Beirut's southern suburbs) Beirut, 30 Jan 07, 13:01
FPM says 'de facto government' is stirring strife
Daily Star staff-Tuesday, January 30, 2007
BEIRUT: The Free Patriotic Movement's Reform and Change parliamentary bloc vowed on Monday that it would defeat "all attempts to stir sectarian strife among the Lebanese." In a statement issued after its regular meeting headed by FPM leader MP Michel Aoun, the bloc said it would not allow "the return of the militias that led the country into the Civil War." The FPM also launched a fresh attack against Premier Fouad Siniora's government, calling it the "de facto government - imposed on the Lebanese whether they like it or not." It also denounced last Tuesday's riots which according to the party, were used by the "de facto government and its militias to stir strife and lead the country into a civil war."
Opposition parties, including Hizbullah and the FPM, held a general strike last Tuesday, during which they blocked roads and burned tires. In some parts of the country, clashes broke out between pro- and anti-government demonstrators. At least three people were killed and 130 others wounded during the clashes between the rival forces.
The FPM accused "government militias" of attacking "unarmed people and private property during the riots." It also accused the government of "violating the role of the army and security forces as part of a strategy to implement settlement and division plans." On the other hand, the FPM said that it welcomed any "Arab or non-Arab initiatives aimed at resolving Lebanon's deteriorating crisis." "However," it added, "any initiative will not succeed unless it is based on an internal agreement, which was first launched by the memorandum of accord between Hizbullah and the FPM."
Aoun's bloc also said the government's stalling in revealing the truth behind the series of assassinations "might be done on purpose."
"This stalling would not make us forget about these assassinations," the statement added. - The Daily Star
Good for roadblocks, bad for health: Watchdogs condemn tire-burning
By Maria Abi-Habib -Special to The Daily Star
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
BEIRUT: Despite a fatwa once imposed by leading Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah against burning tires, setting fire to rubber, cars and garbage bins has become the latest weapon of choice for protesting youths. Last Tuesday and Thursday's opposition protests and clashes witnessed an abundance of tire-burning, contributing to air toxicity in Beirut and other areas and hospitalizing almost 100 civilians due to air pollution.
According to Environment and Development magazine's publisher and editor-in-chief Najib Saab in his February editorial, "[m]ore than 10,000 tires burned within 12 hours. The tires weighed around 100 tons and emitted 300 tons of poisonous smoke.
"This smoke contains dust particles, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxide, lead, mercury, chrome, arsenic and cadmium, carcinogenic substances," he wrote. "[About] 25 percent of materials in tires cause cancers when burned. The risks to air, water and soil will not disappear within 12 hours, though the smoke was dispersed the next day [after the protests last week]."
Last Tuesday the Hizbullah-led opposition staged massive protests coupled with street blockades. Burning tires, trash and hundreds of metal garbage dumpsters released carcinogens into the atmosphere, creating long-term health and environmental impacts.
Fadlallah's son and spokesperson, Sayyed Ali Fadlallah, acknowledged the fatwa, saying "this is a permanent fatwa. Sayyed Fadlallah is against anything that harms the public and the environment." Many regard Fadlallah as Hizbullah's spiritual leader.
Saab wrote that in last Tuesday's "black environment day, St. Joseph University monitored toxic particles in the air and concluded that it was 20 times more than the limit." Air pollution causes 350 deaths annually in Beirut and Tripoli, according to Lebanon's 2006 Environmental Report. The report states that the cost of Lebanon's deteriorating environment in 2000 reached $655 million. The cost includes sickness due to pollution.
"The pollution and health damage caused by the tires that were burned during Tuesday's protests is comparable to when the Israelis bombed the Jiyyeh power plant during last summer's war," says independent environmental activist Wael Hmaidan. "The Ministry of Environment needs to follow up on issues such as making protesters aware of the effects of tire burning." Farid Shaaban, an American University of Beirut professor who has researched Lebanon's air pollution extensively, said the health threat would linger. "The problem is that it's not raining, which may have cleaned the streets but now [hazardous] particulates from the fires are still there - on buildings, cars, roads - and we will have to inhale it," he said.
Hussein Rahal, Hizbullah's media spokesperson, said the risk was tolerable. "[The toxins] are the price we have to pay to get rid of the disease - the government," he said.Rahal said he was not aware of Fadlallah's fatwa, but that the sayyed "is one of Shiite Islam's most revered leaders."
When asked if the opposition-aligned Free Patriotic Movement was worried about the health and environmental impacts of toxins, FPM spokesperson Tony Nasrallah said: "What, for one day?" But health and environmental experts stress that the toxins stay in the atmosphere, to be absorbed by humans over time. "I wish they could have burned these tires by the houses of all [opposition and government] leaders so they can feel the backlash us citizens face from the protests," Shaaban said.
United States Assistance to Lebanon
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 26, 2007
Press Office: 202-712-4320
Public Information: 202-712-4810
Support for a sovereign, democratic, and prosperous Lebanon
is a key element of U.S. policy in the Middle East.
-President Bush, November 1, 2006
Continued International Support for Lebanon. We support the efforts of the Government of Lebanon (GOL) to rebuild and recover from the conflict and to continue its economic reform agenda. The United States aims to strengthen Lebanon's sovereign, democratic government; help the Lebanese people rebuild their country; and ensure lasting peace and security for the entire region.
United States Assistance to Lebanon Following the Summer 2006 Conflict is Expected to Reach Approximately $1 Billion. At the Stockholm Donors' Conference for Lebanon's Early Recovery, the United States pledged $230 million for humanitarian, reconstruction, and security assistance to Lebanon. More than $120 million of this assistance has already been directed to ongoing efforts. To support the aspirations of the Lebanese people for continued peace, stability, and prosperity, President Bush will request an additional $770 million in FY2007 supplemental funding from Congress for a comprehensive economic and security assistance package for Lebanon.
In addition, the U.S. Government (USG) is partnering with the private sector to leverage approximately $296 million in private sector and non-profit resources for Lebanon. This includes a new $120 million public-private partnership between the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and Citibank.
The United States Led the International Effort to Bring Urgently Needed Humanitarian Relief to the People of Lebanon. From the onset of the conflict, U.S. diplomatic, military, and disaster relief personnel have coordinated with the Lebanese government, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, and allies to alleviate the suffering of the Lebanese people.
USG-funded humanitarian programs are reaching more than 2 million beneficiaries in over 500 villages across 24 of Lebanon's 26 districts. USG emergency and early recovery programs will continue into June 2007.
As a result of the efforts of U.S. and international humanitarian relief partners:
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), through Department of Defense airlifts and sea transport, provided emergency relief supplies, including 3,000 tarps, 40,000 blankets, and 18 emergency health kits benefiting nearly 300,000 people countrywide.
The USG contributed enough wheat flour, wheat, and lentil commodities through the U.N. World Food Program to help deliver food aid to an estimated 714,000 people.
USG resources provided water and sanitation services for more than 600,000 residents, including rehabilitating water and sanitation infrastructure, household water storage tanks, and supporting water trucking operations.
USG-funded transitional and winterization shelter supplies provided support to host families and displaced persons.
USG livelihood interventions provided small cash grants, cash for work programs and vocational training for Lebanese families whose livelihoods were affected by the conflict.
The USG helped provide access to healthcare and essential drugs, following the disruption of basic health services as a result of damaged health infrastructure. In addition, agencies provided psychological and social support services to families affected by the conflict.
The USG provided significant support for demining and unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance activities in Lebanon.
The USG Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) departed Lebanon on December 10, 2006, following a 21-week deployment. The DART successfully completed mission objectives of assessing humanitarian needs, programming emergency and early recovery assistance, and coordinating the USG humanitarian response to the crisis in Lebanon.
The United States Commitment to Lebanon Extends Beyond the Stage of Immediate Relief to Long-Term Reconstruction and Development. Our commitment to bolstering Lebanon's democracy and assisting the Lebanese people is enduring and unwavering.
In partnership with the Government of Lebanon, the United States is implementing the following projects to support the GOL's reconstruction plans:
Work has begun on the Mudeirej Bridge, a critical transportation link, with an anticipated completion date in early 2009.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is working with the U.S. private financial sector in conjunction with private sector banks in Lebanon to encourage local bank lending for microfinance, small businesses, and home improvements.
Work has begun on rehabilitating schools and upgrading facilities.
Following the Jiyyeh oil spill, work was completed on the cleanup necessary to restore livelihoods and protect public health in coastal communities in the Byblos and Anfeh areas.
The USG provided significant funding in support of the UN emergency clearance plan to assist in the disposal of unexploded cluster munitions and other ordnance, and to fund demining and mine awareness programs.
The Cornerstone of a Sovereign and Independent Lebanese Government is a Strong and Effective Lebanese Army. The United States is assisting the Lebanese Armed Forces and Lebanon's national police to enable them to extend government authority throughout Lebanon; secure Lebanon's borders and ports of entry; and ensure that no armed groups exist in Lebanon outside the authority of the state.
The United States is providing assistance to build capacity and enhance capabilities of Lebanese security forces and institutions. Activities include:
Providing the Lebanese security services with new equipment and spare parts to service existing equipment.
Working with international partners to provide the Lebanese security services with up-to-date training.
Continuing programs that further modernize and professionalize Lebanese law enforcement organizations, and bolster their ability to address growing terrorist threats.
Supplying the United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNIFIL) with more than a quarter of the costs to the UNIFIL mission and providing logistics support to peacekeeping troops.
Funding mine action organizations that have cleared more than 73,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO) - including more than 71,000 cluster munitions - which contributed significantly to opening all primary and secondary roads in the South. The UN estimates that with sufficient assistance from the international community it will be able to eliminate the cluster munitions threat in the major casualty producing areas by December 2007.
Support for the Engineer Regiment of the Lebanese Armed Forces to substantially expand its emergency UXO destruction capability, doubling its former capacity.
Private Sector Assistance
Supporting Lebanese Business. In collaboration with the Lebanon Partnership, OPIC has moved quickly to facilitate some $279 million worth of investment in the banking, small and medium-sized enterprise (SME), housing, and education sectors. For instance, OPIC launched a public-private partnership with Citigroup to initiate a loan facility with Lebanese banks to offer up to $120 million in capital to families and small businesses. In addition, the Export-Import Bank of the United States is currently providing $7.5 million in loan guarantees to finance U.S. exports to (public and private) enterprises in Lebanon.
Encouraging Trade. The United States is working to support Lebanon's economic development through expanded trade and investment. On November 30, 2006, the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Europe and the Middle East and the Lebanese Minister of Economy and Trade signed in Beirut a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which will provide a forum for expanding and strengthening bilateral trade and investment relations between the United States and Lebanon. TIFAs have proven an effective tool for helping to strengthen bilateral economic ties between the United States and its Middle East trade partners. The United States also strongly supports Lebanon's accession to the World Trade Organization.
Tapping into America's Generosity through Partnership. In order to highlight the great generosity of America's private businesses and individuals, and to encourage the dynamic Lebanese business sector, President Bush asked distinguished American private-sector leaders to launch a nationwide effort to raise awareness and marshal resources to partner with the Lebanese people. The ongoing effort is led by the private sector and focuses on programs that will assist with economic growth, job creation, and education.
The five executives leading this effort are: Craig Barrett, Chairman, Intel Corporation; John Chambers, Chairman and CEO, Cisco Systems; Dr. Ray Irani, Chairman, President and CEO, Occidental Petroleum Corporation; Yousif Ghafari, Chairman, GHAFARI, Inc; and Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft. The group has established the U.S.-Lebanon Partnership Fund and is actively encouraging private and corporate donations. Those wishing to donate to the fund may do so by going to www.lebanonpartnership.org. The nationwide campaign focuses on initiatives in five key areas critical to creating sustainable economic growth in the region.
Crisis Relief and Response: The Partnership is working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have a proven track record in Lebanon to help address the immediate needs of adequate housing, education and workforce training, including:
Habitat for Humanity (HFH) will assist approximately 50 families to repair damaged homes, helping close to 3,500 people.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will rehabilitate 10 schools in southern Lebanon, relying in part on youth volunteers brought in from affected areas and across the country.
American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) will distribute Partnership funds among 10 southern Lebanese community-based organizations to link the neediest populations to educational and worker training materials through information technology.
Mercy Corps will rehabilitate 10 schools, expand its extra-curricular offerings, provide IT access and computer training, and encourage school engagement among parents and other community members.
ICT Infrastructure: Currently, Lebanon is burdened by a nascent and inefficient information technology infrastructure. The Partnership has pledged to donate an International Gateway and an Internet Exchange Point to Lebanon to help develop Lebanon's economy by enabling open communications in a competitive environment. The International Gateway would offer improved international Internet connectivity for Lebanon and the Internet Exchange Point would strengthen local infrastructure to stimulate local economic development. Both of these investments have the potential to improve the speed and efficiency of Internet traffic flow throughout Lebanon and help decrease costs.
Workforce Training: Sustainable economic growth in Lebanon requires a skilled workforce and businesses built to compete in a global marketplace. The Partnership is working to identify and place 500 Lebanese interns in Lebanon and the U.S. over the next three years. Members of the Partnership have committed to placing 115 interns within their own companies.
In addition, Cisco has pledged to double the number of its Networking Academies in Lebanon to 43. The Networking Academy program prepares students for IT jobs through a combination of an online, e-learning curriculum and hands-on lab work.
Job Creation & Public Sector Revival: Growing Lebanon's private sector is the linchpin to creating jobs for the Lebanese people. Over the past two months, the Partnership has conducted extensive outreach and worked with local stakeholders to asses Lebanon's private sector needs, identifying 100 promising projects in six key industries: technology, tourism, banking and finance, agribusiness, health care, and manufacturing. The Partnership shortly will announce 25 projects that have been assigned high priority based on the potential for creating jobs.
The Partnership will work with OPIC to link smaller projects with the financing or capital they need to grow. For larger projects, the Partnership will work with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Near East Consulting Group to create joint ventures between Lebanese businesses and compatible American business partners.
The Partnership's goal is to stimulate $60 million of investment, creating up to 3,000 new jobs.
Connected Government: Technology has an increasingly important role to play in the delivery of government and social services to the Lebanese people. For this reason, the Partnership will establish a number of community access centers in Lebanon which will provide full-service, on-line access points to provide social resources, such as job training, healthcare information, on-line education and government services to Lebanese citizens.
Using technology to facilitate communication is another imperative not only in Lebanon, but in the greater Middle East. Cisco will donate two TelePresence systems to the following Middle Eastern countries: Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, and the UAE. TelePresence encourages collaboration and exchange through unique technology that uses ultra high definition video and sophisticated audio so people in remote locations communicating via the network appear to be in the same room.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Backlash against immigrant and minority communities
does not reflect Quebec multicultural values, says B'nai Brith Canada
MONTREAL, January 29, 2007 - B'nai Brith Canada-Quebec Region has reacted with concern to two incidents occurring this past weekend, which appear to reflect a backlash against immigrant and minority communities. One incident involved the web-posting of a song by a Montreal police officer with lyrics suggesting that immigrants to this province are undermining Quebec 's "traditional" values. In the second case, the Quebec rural town of Herouxville established a code of official behavioural norms, which in effect seeks to limit its residents from making any accommodations to ethnic and immigrant newcomers.
"These latest incidents occurred on the heels of a series of other confrontations that pit immigrant and minority communities against their fellow Quebecers," said Allan Adel, National Chair of B'nai Brith's League for Human Rights. "The unfortunate consequence of what appears to be an anti-immigrant, anti-ethnic backlash is that minority communities are increasingly encountering barriers to integration, as opposed to being on the receiving end of nurturing and productive relationships between communities.
"In anticipation of the formal release of the Quebec Government's inaugural policy against racism and discrimination, we urge the Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities to act on the recommendations put forth by B'nai Brith during the public consultation process. Amongst our priority recommendations was a call for enhanced governmental, corporate and community partnerships, designed to sensitize the general public and promote intercultural dialogue. These recent manifestations of intolerance fly in the face of what must be respect by all Quebecers for all its diverse populations."
**B'nai Brith has been active in Canada since 1875 as the Jewish community's
foremost human rights organization.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Suicide bombing in Eilat underscores urgent need to do away
with artificial distinctions between Palestinian terror groups
TORONTO, January 29, 2007 – B’nai Brith has called on Canada and the international community not to give in to false distinctions that label Fatah as ‘moderate’ and Hamas as ‘extremist’, when both Palestinian factions are guilty of terrorist acts against Israel’s civilians. This call by the Jewish human rights group occurs in the wake of today’s terrorist attack by Palestinian suicide bombers, who ruthlessly targeted Israeli civilians in the country’s southernmost popular coastal resort town of Eilat , murdering three and injuring countless more.
“Today’s murderous act was the work of no less than two Palestinian terrorist groups - Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades – who lost no time in proudly boasting of their joint responsibility for the attack,” said Frank Dimant, B’nai Brith Canada ’s Executive Vice President. “In this apparent effort by Palestinian factions to upstage one another with their murderous feats, Hamas, the very same terrorist group that controls the Palestinian government, was quick to heap its own lavish praise on the bombers.
“Today’s terrorist act exposes the lie of the so-called distinctions that are said to exist between Palestinian factions. The attack in Eilat was perpetrated by the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a terrorist group outlawed in this country, which represents the ‘military wing’ of the supposedly more ‘moderate’ and widely-accepted Fatah. These artificial labels might make for political expedience in the short term, but in the longer view they perpetuate the notion that Israel has a genuine partner with whom to make peace. Such dangerous deceptions serve only to strengthen the terrorists by turning a blind eye to their murderous rejoicing and frequent cooperation, all the while that Jewish blood continues to be spilt.”
**B’nai Brith Canada has urged the international community to “maintain its firm resolve” in isolating all Palestinian terror groups on the world stage.