January 7/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 3,23-38. When Jesus began his ministry he was about thirty years of age. He was the son, as was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Latest news from Miscellaneous sources for January 07/07
Chirac, Saniora Set Jan.10 as Preparatory Meeting Ahead of Paris-3-Naharnet
Additional anti-government Protest in Beirut Next Week
Security Council Members Want Brammertz to Reveal Names of Countries Not Cooperating with Hariri Probe-Naharnet
Jordanian Islamists Attack Hizbullah-Hamas-Naharnet
Four Men Allegedly Arrested in Shekka-Naharnet
Symbolic Saddam Funeral in Beirut-Naharnet
France does not see Lebanon crisis impacting aid-Reuters
Saudi Urges Lebanon Leaders to End Impasse-AINA
Hezbollah readies for bigger protests-Gulf Times
Hezbollah: Saudi can play mediating role in Lebanon-Ya Libnan
Israelis Reflect on Turbulent Year after Sharon's Stroke-Voice of America
Lebanon's labor unions call for a sit-in to protest proposed tax hikes-International Herald Tribune
Hezbollah: "Captured soldiers will not be freed unless Quntar is ...International Middle East Media Center
Chirac, Bush: International Tribunal Key to Lebanon Settlement-Naharnet
Quartet Meeting to be Held on Margins of Conference for Lebanon-Naharnet
Murr Mediation to Avert By-Elections Showdown in Metn-Naharnet

Lebanon and the Limits of Protests-Dar Al-Hayat - Beirut,Lebanon
End of a ruthless era-World Magazine
Lebanon labour union calls for sit-in Tuesday-Khaleej Times
America blocking Israel-Syria peace: Mubarak-Gulf Times
Outside View: Golan, key to peace-Monsters and
Israeli Deported for Conspiring to Equip Hezbollah-American Daily
A critical time for a fragile democracy-International Herald Tribune
US Imposes Sanctions On Arms Suppliers To Iran, Syria-Mediafax

French FM in Saudi for talks on Lebanon-Middle East Times
Siniora, Barri meet British, European Parliamentary delegation-Middle East Online

Additional anti-government Protest in Beirut Next Week
The General Federation of Labor Unions (GFLU) on Saturday said it would organize a sit-in next week to protest against the government's socio-economic recovery and reform plan. GFLU President Ghassan Ghoson, who was elected to the post before withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon in April 2005, said the sit-in would be carried out next Tuesday near the finance and justice ministries. Ghoson, who also is a reputed member of the Syrian Social National Party (SSNP), said the protest was directed against the socio-economic recovery and reform six-point plan adopted earlier in the week by Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's majority government that would be forwarded to the Paris III conference of donors later this month. Ghoson told a news conference the GFLU wants to "prevent" privatization plans and the imposing of new taxes and demands a pay raise for the labor force. The protest, which starts as a sit-in and could develop into a general strike, also aims at rejecting "changing Lebanon into an open market for the World Trade Organization," he added. He accused the government's economic reform plan of being "a recipe from the World Bank aimed at impoverishing all the Lebanese."However, labor sources told Naharnet the protest could lead to a major split within the GFLU, whose main executives were elected under Syrian influence when Damascus' army was in control of Lebanon. One source said "several Labor unions opposing Ghoson's approach and supporting the government's economic recovery plan and the Paris III conference would not take part in the sit-in."The source said a call by Ghoson's GFLU for a general strike would "split the unions. Ghoson is running the federation upon instructions from the SSNP."The SSNP, seven members of which were rounded up by police in December on terrorism-related charges, is a main component of the Hizbullah-led alliance that has been launching an open-ended sit-in since Dec. 1 with the declared objective of toppling the Saniora majority government. Ghoson's call was seen as an indication that the Hizbullah-led alliance would step up its opposition to the government as of next week. The move is seen as an effort to torpedo the Paris III conference which is scheduled for Jan. 25 to weaken the Beirut administration that enjoys Arab and international backing, except for that of Syria and Iran. The government is in bad need of foreign aid to compensate for the 6.3-billion dollar worth of losses inflicted during the 34-day war between Hizbullah and Israel last summer. Beirut, 06 Jan 07, 19:27

Chirac, Saniora Set Jan.10 as Preparatory Meeting Ahead of Paris-3
French President Jacques Chirac and Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Saniora called for a preparatory meeting to be held in Paris Jan.10 with representatives of the countries and organizations taking part in the Paris III aid conference for Lebanon.
Local newspapers said Friday the date for the preliminary meeting was set during a telephone call Chirac made to Saniora Thursday following the Lebanese government's adoption of a six-point economic recovery and reform plan to be referred to the Paris III conference of donors later this month.
The document will be the base for the donors to provide Lebanon with badly needed financial aid after the 34-day summer war between Hizbullah and Israel inflicted more than six billion dollars of losses. The daily An Nahar said Finance Minister Jihad Azour and Economy Minister Sami Haddad as well as Lebanon's Central Bank governor Riad Salameh will attend the meeting on Jan.10. It said Chirac reaffirmed France's support" for Saniora's "legitimate and constitutional" government. Chirac's office confirmed the French president spoke by telephone with Saniora to work out details of the Paris III conference, which is sponsored by France, the European Union, the United States and the United Nations. The aim is to gather together international financial institutions, Arab donors and representatives of Western countries, possibly including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Already deep in debt from rebuilding after its 1975-1990 civil war, Lebanon sank further into the red after the July-August war between Hizbullah and Israel, with total public debt estimated at 41 billion dollars (31 billion euros)Saniora's government is expected to ask for partial waiving of that debt, and help in repairing the 3.5 billion dollars in damage caused by the Israeli offensive.
In his conversation with Saniora, Chirac hailed Lebanese government measures recently announced that aimed to boost investment, increase sales tax and extend privatization over the next five years.(Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 05 Jan 07, 09:46

Four Men Allegedly Arrested in Shekka
Lebanese security forces have arrested four men, including a Syrian national, in the northern town of Shekka, the daily Aliwaa reported Friday.
Citing unnamed sources, the paper said the four were not from Shekka, but that they had been "living in the town for a long time due to internal immigration on a job hunt." Aliwaa said the arrest took place "in the past few days." It did not say when exactly police arrested them. It identified the detainees as "Z.B." al-Qareh who has multiple political and party loyalties, "D." Harb from the northern Maronite Nahleh village in Batroun who is member of a non-Christian political faction, "M." Hajj Hussein who is known for his association with one of the factions from outside the region, and Syrian "M." al-Jammal who is married to a Lebanese woman and is known for his links with the security official of a local party. The paper said it was not immediately known whether the four were in any way connected to the seven men arrested last month in a major police bust at their hideouts in the northern province of Koura. Police had also confiscated 200 kilograms of T.N.T. paste, detonators and timing equipment from the hideouts of the Syrian Social National Party (SSNP) in Koura during the December raid. Aliwaa said security sources were "discrete" regarding the ongoing interrogation of the suspects. The sources told Aliwaa that police had also confiscated around 120 kilograms of TNT hidden in a small tunnel under a restaurant in the Koura region, where the Lebanese Forces group of Samir Geagea hosted a dinner party for its senior officials about a month ago. Beirut, 05 Jan 07, 08:45

French Foreign Minister in Riyadh to Discuss Lebanon
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy arrived in Saudi Arabia Saturday for talks that will focus on Lebanon as Paris prepares to host an aid meeting for the country, a French diplomatic source said. Douste-Blazy will meet his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal during his brief stay in Riyadh, the source told Agence France Presse, requesting anonymity. French foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei had said Friday that Douste-Blazy will also hold talks with King Abdullah. The talks will focus on "regional issues, with a particular emphasis on Lebanon," the source said. He said the discussions would deal not only with the Paris III donors conference slated for January 25, but also "the will to work together to strengthen the Saniora government and help overcome the current difficulties" in Lebanon. The government of Prime Minister Fouad Saniora, which is supported by the West as well as oil-rich Saudi Arabia, faces a serious challenge from the opposition led by the Damascus-backed Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
Six pro-Syrian ministers have walked out of the cabinet and the opposition has been holding an open-ended rally near the prime minister's office in Beirut since December 1 demanding the formation of a government of national unity. But the Saudi monarch received a Hezbollah delegation in late December, and the group has since said that Riyadh is in a position to mediate in the Lebanese crisis. French President Jacques Chirac and Saniora on Friday organized final details for the Paris conference aimed at boosting aid for Lebanon's war-wracked economy. Chirac's office said the two men spoke by telephone to work out details of the meeting, which is sponsored by France, the European Union, the United States and the United Nations.
Already deep in debt from rebuilding after its 1975-1990 civil war, Lebanon sank further into the red after the July-August war between Hezbollah and Israel, with total public debt estimated at 41 billion dollars. With a 1,600-strong force, France is the second largest contributor to a U.N. peacekeeping force in south Lebanon, beefed up after a U.N.-brokered truce between Israel and Hezbollah took effect in mid-August.(AFP) Beirut, 06 Jan 07, 15:30

The Princes of Lebanese Politics and Their People

By: Etienne Sacre - Abu Arz

January 5, 2007

 It is noteworthy in the ongoing crisis in Lebanon that each side claims to represent the people and speak and act on their behalf, when the reality is quite the opposite. For if a referendum were to be conducted, one will find that the majority of the Lebanese are neither loyalists nor in the opposition. Rather, they are a silent majority that is unhappy with everything, rejecting all that is happening around it and in its name in this wide-open political bazaar. However, this silent majority continues to support to this day the popular movement of March 14 which lived only for a fleeting moment, before all the princes of Lebanese politics rushed to bury it alive out of fear of its revolutionary portent. 

 If this silent majority were allowed to speak openly, it would ask the parties concerned in the sit-in at the Serail and public squares some very obvious questions, such as:

 1- Where is the interest of the people in scuttling the Paris III Conference which represents the last chance to revive the national economy and rescue the moribund financial situation from collapse, now that the national debt has exceeded the threshold of $40 billion and the poverty rate has reached 30% of the population?  Isn’t this scuttling itself a deliberate push to further impoverish the people? The fact is that the dangerous financial and economic situation in which the country finds itself is the cumulative outcome of previous wrong financial policies whose responsibility lies squarely with the majority of those in power today, led by the Prime Minister himself who held the Finance Ministry portfolio in the governments of the previous decades.

 2- Where is the interest of the people in imposing new taxes on the citizens as proposed in the recent reform papers prepared by the government? And why this continued bullying of ordinary citizens, to the exception of the rich and the wealthy and those who pilfered the treasury and robbed the State blind, and who were the direct cause for the abysmal fall into deficit of the treasury today?

 3- Where is the interest of the people in obstructing the creation of the International Tribunal, which aims at uncovering the killers and tracking the butchers who have not yet quenched their thirst for the blood of the Lebanese people?  Isn’t this Tribunal the only way to bring an end to the growing wave of crimes on our soil? And where is the interest of Lebanon in protecting the figures of the Syrian regime against the reach of international justice?

 4- And where is the interest of the people in escalating the sit-in in the field, cutting off roads, and shutting down public facilities, all of which will lead to further choke the poor among the people instead of hurting the government, and which may also lead to a sectarian strife that will engulf everyone?

 No! The majority of the people are not with the princes of politics in Lebanon. The majority of the people have given up and lost faith in those, in politics, in politicians, in the sit-in in downtown Beirut, in the government and in their rulers. The majority of the people demand salvation from all of those princes and from the infernal cycle of their personal feuds and their petty electoral ambitions. Would the princes of politics cease and desist from deceiving and exploiting people, and from pretending to speak in their name and profiteering at their expense?

 Etienne Sacre - Abu Arz

January 5, 2007


Le Amid du BN invite le chef du CPL à soumettre à un audit les donations qu’il a reçues à la fin des années 80.
Carlos Eddé dénonce l’alignement de Aoun sur « deux pays dont les régimes sont l’antithèse des aspirations des Libanais »
Le Amid du Bloc national, Carlos Eddé, s’est déchaîné hier contre le général Michel Aoun, lui reprochant son « incohérence politique » et son « alignement sur deux pays dont les régimes sont l’antithèse des valeurs auxquelles aspire la majorité des Libanais ». M. Eddé invite, d’autre part, le général Aoun, « avant de parler d’audit international », de soumettre à un audit les donations dont il a bénéficié à la fin des années 80.
Commentant la réaction de l’opposition, et notamment du général Aoun, au plan de réformes du gouvernement, le Amid a notamment déclaré : « À peine le Premier ministre, Fouad Siniora, avait-il terminé l’exposé du projet de redressement économique du gouvernement en vue de Paris III, que les critiques de l’opposition ont commencé à fuser avant même que quiconque qui se respecte ait pu avoir lu, même en diagonale, le projet gouvernemental. Ces critiques étaient accompagnées des slogans démagogiques habituels lancés par des parties qui n’ont jamais disposé de vision économique. »
« Commençons par la vision économique du Hezbollah : l’économie ? Connaît pas ! À la rigueur, pour eux, l’économie consiste à compter les sous qu’on reçoit d’Iran et la question de l’électricité qui, au moins, est bien connue d’eux, a déclaré le Amid du BN. Quant aux critiques du grand conquérant de Damas, hier, de Chebaa aujourd’hui, et de Jérusalem, demain, et qui a osé dire devant les caméras de télévision, après la réunion de son bloc parlementaire, qu’il était contre le projet du gouvernement sans avoir besoin de le lire (!), nous lui demandons où est son fameux projet économique ? Où est cette merveille qu’il présentait avant les élections comme étant unique en son genre ? C’est sur mon insistance, publique, que ce fameux projet a été mis sur papier ! Qu’elle ne fut notre stupeur de voir que les deux pages de titres ressemblaient à tout sauf à un projet économique qui se respecte. N’importe qui aurait fait un meilleur projet pour le Liban, ne fut-ce qu’en se livrant à un peu de recherches sur Internet. Quelle farce ! Quelle honte ! Avant de jeter la première pierre… »
Et de poursuivre : « Son projet de lutte anticorruption ? Quand je suis allé voir le général avec le Dr Joseph Mourad, alors secrétaire général du BN, avant les élections, pour lui demander son soutien à notre projet (effectif pas illusoire) de lutte contre la corruption, je lui ai dit que le seul moyen d’arriver à des résultats serait de modifier la loi pour lever le secret bancaire sur les comptes des fonctionnaires, députés et ministres afin que ceux qui, parmi eux, commettraient des irrégularités soient passibles de poursuites. Quelle ne fut notre surprise et notre déception de voir le général, lui qui se présente comme la virginité politique, la transparence financière et le Grand Inquisiteur des corrompus, refuser énergiquement cette proposition, ajoutant : « Et si quelqu’un fait de l’argent n’importe comment en Afrique, pourquoi devrai-je m’opposer à ce qu’il le dépense en politique au Liban ? » Faut-il en dire plus ? Hélas oui. »
« Si le général n’a pas de plan économique, si son projet de lutte contre la corruption est sélectif et se limite à ses ennemis, et s’il est incapable de proposer un réel projet national qui défendrait d’abord la souveraineté du Liban, si ses propos se limitent aux revendications qui servent ses intérêts et ceux de ses alliés, quels seraient alors ses objectifs réels, lui qui dépense tant d’énergie dans sa lutte pour arriver à Baabda ? Une analyse concrète des faits nous permet de définir trois de ses objectifs les plus importants : arriver, rester et en profiter », ajoute M. Eddé qui précise sur ce plan : « Arriver : facile à démontrer, quand on voit son incohérence politique, ses changements d’attitude, de positions, de déclarations, ses guerres successives passées, son alignement récent sur deux pays dont les régimes sont l’antithèse des valeurs auxquelles aspire la majorité des Libanais depuis des générations et son soutien à une guerre illégale et destructrice. Rester : il suffit de voir les exemples des militaires arabes qui, une fois arrivés au pouvoir, s’y sont accrochés par tous les moyens jusqu’à en être évincés. Une exception dans la région, le général Chéhab qui, lui, était l’antithèse des généraux Lahoud et Aoun. Profiter : de nouveau, examinons quelques exemples de militaires au pouvoir dans la région. Certainement, le pouvoir n’a pas démuni les familles de ces militaires. »
« Dans le cas du général, souligne M. Eddé, il n’est pas encore arrivé au pouvoir que des rumeurs de signes apparents de richesses immobilières commencent à apparaître dans son entourage. D’où avez-vous cela ? disait Raymond Eddé. Et le refus de la levée du secret bancaire pour les responsables politiques et administratifs, quelle en est la ou les causes ? En fait, avant de commencer par un audit international, commençons par quelque chose de plus facile. En 88, 89 et 90, des milliers de Libanais ont contribué financièrement au soutien politique du général, certains au prix de grands sacrifices personnels. Or la loi de 1959 sur les droits de transmission à titre gratuit est claire à ce sujet : toute donation, même politique, doit être déclarée, et des impôts prélevés selon la loi. J’en sais quelque chose car lorsque Raymond Eddé a fait le don de 200 000 dollars au BN, la seule forte somme que notre parti ait reçue dans son histoire, nous l’avons déclarée et nous avons payé à l’État, à contrecœur, 63 000 dollars d’impôt. »
Et le Amid de poursuivre : « Général, commencez par donner l’exemple à ceux que vous critiquez et au grand peuple libanais. Montrez-nous que dans le passé vous avez déclaré ces donations et que vous avez payé les impôts requis. Montrez-nous les reçus prouvant que ces sommes ont été versées dans des comptes au nom du CPL et non pas à des holdings familiaux ou dans des comptes privés. Et maintenant, l’argent que vous et votre parti recevez abondamment devrait être déclaré et les impôts payés. Vous qui citez l’exemple des pays avancés, ce genre d’omission y est considéré comme de la corruption politique. Le concept de corruption est établi par le droit international et nous dispense des largesses de votre définition. Prouvez-nous que vous êtes cohérent. Le Liban n’évoluera que lorsque son peuple jugera ses leaders par la cohérence de leurs propos, par leurs actes et non par des discours démagogiques. Quand Raymond Eddé ou Pierre Eddé critiquaient ou revendiquaient des mesures, ils commençaient par donner l’exemple personnel. »
Et M. Eddé de conclure : « Enfin, et dans as-Safir du 30 décembre 2006, vous parlez d’envoyer des politiciens du 14 Mars à Deir el-Salib. Il serait plus efficace de commencer par ceux qui sont atteints par la folie des grandeurs et ceux qui croient encore en eux. En fait, la priorité devrait être à ceux qui n’auraient jamais dû en sortir avant la fin de leur traitement. »
Source: L'Orient Le Jour
Date: samedi 6 janvier 2007