July 26/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 20,20-28. Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached him with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, "What do you wish?" She answered him, "Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom." Jesus said in reply, "You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?" They said to him, "We can."He replied, "My cup you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left (, this) is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father." When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Why Lebanon produces mediocre presidents-By Chibli Mallat-July 26/07
Lebanon's private sector has a duty to step up when politicians fail-By The Daily Star-July 26/07
Which direction home for Turkey after its parliamentary elections?
By Barry Rubin. July 26/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for July 26/07
Sources: Intra-Lebanese Dialogue Aborted by Hizbullah-Naharnet
Lebanon: Two soldiers killed as army bombs camp-Al-Bawaba
UN deminer killed in south Lebanon explosion-International Herald Tribune
New US Diplomacy in Syria - US Delegation Visits Damascus and Uses ...PR Newswire (press release)
Hezbollah's military strength restored largely thanks to Syria-Israel Insider
Germany presses Aoun to compromise with Beirut leaders-EUX.TV

Two Years After Withdrawal, Syria Still in Lebanon-Naharnet
Army Maintains Massive Nahr al-Bared Shelling in Attempt to seize Remaining Militant Positions-Naharnet
Nahr al-Bared Battle Fuels Anti-Palestinian Sentiment-Naharnet
War of Words Between Gemayel and Aoun
Shin Bet Arrests Arab-Israeli Woman Allegedly Recruited by Hizbullah-Naharnet
Global Poll: Lebanese Muslims Increasingly Reject Suicide Bombings-Naharnet
Cousseran Discusses Lebanese Dialogue with Lebanon's Leaders-Naharnet
Syria still lingers in Lebanon, report says-USA Today
US clamps down on funding to Hezbollah-Ha'aretz
Gag lifted on arrest of Israeli allegedly recruited to Hezbollah-Ha'aretz
Rival camps dig in heels over Metn by-elections-Daily Star
Suleiman set to resign if two governments emerge-Daily Star
Lebanon's private sector has a duty to step up when politicians fail-Daily Star
Nasrallah insists unity government 'only solution'
-Daily Star
French envoy presses feuding politicians toward dialogue
-Daily Star
Bush administration moves against US branches of Iran-based charity
-Daily Star
Netherlands requests talks ahead of accepting Hariri court
-Daily Star
Army finds tunnels used by militants
-Daily Star
Rizk asked to clarify details on Hariri court
-Daily Star
Officials blame Nahr al-Bared battle for power shortages
-Daily Star
Civil society groups outline plan to end Lebanon's enduring political crisis
-Daily Star
Minister of displaced becomes president of AUB alumni association
-Daily Star
Environmental group presses ministry to clear coastline of polluted sand
-Daily Star
Increasing number of people at risk of contracting AIDS
-Daily Star
Economy Ministry holds summit on food safety
-Daily Star
Solidere defends regional expansion
-Daily Star
To Check Syria, US Explores-
Wall Street Journal
Why Obama Got it Right-Yahoo! News
MI says Syria has no plans to attack-Ha'aretz
Free Assad-Ha'aretz
Winograd panel to probe alleged Israeli war crimes in Lebanon-Ha'aretz

Two Years After Withdrawal, Syria Still in Lebanon

Two years after it was forced to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, Syria still occupies at least 177 square miles (458.4 square kilometers) of Lebanese soil and smuggles arms to militants, according to a recent survey.
The report, published by The Wall Street Journal, comes by way of a fact-finding survey of the Lebanese-Syrian border produced by the International Lebanese Committee for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, an American NGO that has consultative status with the U.N.
Because of the sensitivity of the subject, the authors have requested anonymity and have circulated the report only among select government officials and journalists, the daily said.
Surveyors scrutinized the central and northern two-thirds of the 227-mile border between Lebanon and Syria, according to the report. It said the southern portion, patrolled by the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) under a cease-fire agreement that ended last summer's war between Israel and Hizbullah, was not surveyed.
The report, accompanied by maps and pictures taken by satellites, concludes that Syria maintains army camps in Lebanon, along with "dozens of smuggling passages" used to "infiltrate foreign fighters and weapons."
It says that Palestinian militants and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard allied with Syria remain on Lebanese soil.
Surveyors said Syrian barriers are visible at the Maaraboun area some 2.59 square kilometers deep into Lebanese territories.
Pictures also confirm Syrian anti-aircraft batteries are visible at Wadi Brak.
On the outskirts of Qoussaya, the report uncovered that the Syrian-backed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, headed by Ahmed Jibril, maintained a militia camp there in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and Lebanese government requests.
USA Today, a national American newspaper, quoted Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer in Lebanon and Middle East specialist on the White House National Security Council, as saying that the findings "look very credible to me. The areas indicated on the border have long been in de facto Syrian control."
Augustus Richard Norton, a Middle East expert at Boston University and author of Hizbullah, a new book on the Shiite group, said the report appeared "credible to a considerable extent, bearing in mind that much of the border has been disputed since Lebanon's independence" in 1943.
A U.N. commission investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and related crimes has implicated senior Lebanese and Syrian security officials.
Syria denied involvement in Hariri's 2005 killing, but was forced to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, ending its 29-year domination of it smaller neighbor.
Beirut, 25 Jul 07, 07:29

Army Maintains Massive Nahr al-Bared Shelling in Attempt to seize Remaining Militant Positions
Lebanese army troops unleashed barrages of artillery and tank shells Wednesday on the northern Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in an effort to seize the remaining pockets controlled by Fatah al-Islam militants.In some of the heaviest bombardment of Nahr al-Bared in weeks, army cannons fired shells at a rate of 8 to 10 every minute at suspected Fatah al-Islam positions inside the camp. The shelling could be heard in the nearby port city of Tripoli, witnesses said.
The army action, which began at dawn Wednesday, follows days of low intensity fighting during which soldiers continued to push their way deeper into the camp, seizing weapons and other military equipment from tunnels dug by the militants.
A senior military official said Wednesday that two soldiers were killed in military operations a day earlier, raising to 119 the number of troops killed since fighting with the al-Qaida-inspired militants broke out in the camp on May 20. Security officials said the army shelling on Monday had mainly targeted the Saasaa neighborhood of the camp, where remaining militants are thought to be hiding in underground shelters and bunkers. Throughout last week, the army used loudspeakers to urge the militants to surrender or allow their families to leave the camp, but they have vowed to fight to the death.
The gunmen have recently been firing Katyusha rockets on nearby villages on an almost daily basis in what appears to be a new tactic to ease the army's pressure. A Lebanese teenager was killed and a young girl was injured last week in the rocket attacks. On Wednesday, two Katyusha rockets landed in farm fields a few kilometers north of Nahr al-Bared, the state-run National News Agency said. Fatah al-Islam spokesman Abu Salim Taha has also warned they would send suicide bombers against the army if it continued its offensive. Almost all of the camp's estimated 30,000 residents have been evacuated, as have Palestinian militants not involved in the showdown.  However, around 20 wives and 45 children of the Islamists have stayed inside the besieged settlement despite appeals by the military for them to leave the largely destroyed camp.(AP-AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 25 Jul 07, 10:42

Nasrallah Hints Israel Possibly Behind Attacks on UNIFIL
Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has hinted that Israel possibly was behind two recent bomb attacks that targeted peacekeepers serving with the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon. Six peacekeepers belonging to the Spanish contingent were killed on June 24 when a bomb struck their armored personnel carrier in the south, marking the first such attack against UNIFIL. On July 16, a roadside bomb struck a U.N. jeep in the village of Qassimiyeh near the southern port city of Tyre, causing damage to the vehicle but no casualties. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. But in a videotape earlier this month, al-Qaida's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri blessed the attack against the Spanish contingent, fueling speculation that it was carried out by al-Qaida-linked militants.
In the second part of an interview Tuesday on the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera television network, Nasrallah said that while it was possible that al-Qaida or other extremist groups were behind the attacks, Israel could also be the culprit. "Why not Israel?" Nasrallah said, adding that "Israel has an interest in attacking UNIFIL with the aim of transforming the force into a multinational force under Chapter 7."He was referring to a section of the U.N. Charter that empowers a U.N. force to suppress threats to international peace and security -- reflecting what could be his perception that Israel hopes to see U.N. troops actively moving against Hizbullah in the future.
He also suggested Israel may want UNIFIL out of Lebanon, in case of another Israel-Hizbullah war. "It will be very embarrassing for the Israelis, especially if they are thinking in the next war to launch a large-scale land invasion (of south Lebanon), to have UNIFIL troops there," Nasrallah said.
He said Hizbullah, which promptly condemned both bombings, was "concerned" by the attacks which were "worrying."In the first part of the interview, broadcast Monday, Nasrallah claimed his group has rockets that can reach any corner of Israeli territory. The interviews marked a year since the monthlong war between Israel and Hizbullah. Nasrallah also reiterated claims that Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government colluded with Israel and the U.S. to launch the war against Hizbullah.
Saniora's government has been locked in a bitter power struggle with the opposition, led by the Syria and Iran backed Hizbullah. Saniora has rejected the opposition's demand for a veto power in a new national unity government. Nasrallah claims the United States opposes such a government for Lebanon.
"The Americans consider that forming a national unity government in Lebanon is a gain for Iran and Syria at a time when they are in big trouble in Iraq," he said. "This is not true."(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 25 Jul 07, 11:11

War of Words Between Gemayel and Aoun
Former President Amin Gemayel exchanged war of words with his rival Gen. Michel Aoun over the upcoming parliamentary by-elections.
Gemayel slammed Aoun, saying his remarks aimed at escalating the problem "even more," and asked God to forgive him.
"I regret to say that Aoun is fond of elimination wars and similar sort of adventures on the Christian arena and today there seems to be a new war," Gemayel said in remarks published by Lebanese newspapers on Wednesday. Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir on Tuesday dispatched a delegation of bishops to meet with Gemayel in an effort to talk the rival parties into reconciling. Gemayel was retorting to comments made by Aoun on Monday in which he indicated that the killers of his son, anti-Syrian Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, could be found within the government.
The younger Gemayel, who was also an MP and supporter of the government of Prime Minister Fouad Saniora, was gunned down on November 21 in a suburb north of the Lebanese capital. The parliamentary majority blamed Syria for the killing, despite repeated denials from Damascus of any involvement in a string of attacks on anti-Syrian figures in Lebanon since the February 2005 assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri.
Saniora's government has decided to hold partial elections on Aug. 5 in Beirut and Metn for the two seats that went vacant by the murders of Gemayel and of Walid Eido, another MP who was killed in a Beirut car bombing on June 13. FPM legislator Ibrahim Kenaan also blasted Gemayel, expressing hope that the by-elections race would remain within the framework of "political differences."  The daily An Nahar on Wednesday quoted senior sources from Aoun's FPM as saying Gemayel's remarks sabotaged all mediation efforts to reach consensus in Metn. Beirut, 25 Jul 07, 09:35

Global Poll: Lebanese Muslims Increasingly Reject Suicide Bombings
Muslims in Lebanon are increasingly rejecting suicide bombings and other violence, according to a new international poll dealing with how the world's population judges their lives, countries and national institutions. The wide ranging survey of international attitudes in 47 countries by the Pew Research Center said support for bombings and terror tactics has dropped since 2002 in seven of the eight countries where data were available. In Lebanon, the proportion of Muslims who say suicide attacks are often or sometimes justified fell to 34 percent from 79 percent while just 9 percent of Pakistanis believe suicide bombings can be justified often or sometimes, down from 33 percent in 2002 and a high of 41 percent in 2004. The report said that Muslims around the world increasingly reject suicide bombings and other violence against civilians in defense of Islam.
The survey also reported that in many of the countries where support for suicide attacks has declined, there has also been decreasing support for al-Qaida terror leader Osama bin Laden. The percentage of Jordanian Muslims who have confidence in bin Laden as a world leader fell 36 percentage points to 20 percent since 2003. Other countries where support for bin Laden has declined include Lebanon, Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan and Kuwait. The 95-page survey released Tuesday found that surging economic growth in many developing countries has encouraged people in these countries to express satisfaction with their personal lives, family income and national conditions, said Andrew Kohut, the center's director.
"It's a pro-globalization set of findings," Kohut said. Most notably, the survey found a large and growing number of Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere rejecting Islamic extremism. Ten mainly Muslim countries were surveyed along with the Palestinian territories, as well as five African nations with large Muslim populations.
Support for suicide bombings is widespread among Palestinians, the report said, with 41 percent saying such attacks are often justified while another 29 percent say they can sometimes be justified. It found that only six percent of Palestinians -- the smallest in any Muslim public surveyed -- say such attacks are never justified.
Amid continuing sectarian violence in Iraq, the survey found there is broad concern among Muslims that tensions between Sunnis and Shiites are not limited to that country and represent a growing problem for the Muslim world more generally. Eighty-eight percent of Lebanese and 73 percent of Kuwaitis -- along with smaller majorities or pluralities of Muslims elsewhere in the Middle East -- said Sunni-Shiite tensions represent a growing problem for the Muslim world, the report said.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 25 Jul 07, 09:44

Hizbullah Celebrates Nasrallah Interview with Bullets, Fireworks
Hizbullah celebrated by firing gunshots and crackers in Beirut's southern suburbs as Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a rare interview that the group possesses an arsenal of rockets that can reach any spot in Israel. Witnesses said gunshots and fireworks erupted in the predominantly pro-Hizbullah neighborhood as Nasrallah's interview with the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera satellite Television network began and after it ended. They said cars and other property were damaged by ricocheting bullets.
"We could absolutely reach any corner and any point in Occupied Palestine," Nasrallah said in the interview that was also aired by Hizbullah's Al-Manar television.
The interview marks a year since the monthlong war between Israel and hizbullah. Nasrallah said the conflict did not succeed in diminishing Hizbullah's military capabilities. Repeating earlier claims, Nasrallah said his group could have fired at Tel Aviv last summer during the conflict, but had avoided doing so.
"Even until the last day of the war, we were ready to fire rockets on Tel Aviv if (central) Beirut was hit," Nasrallah said. "In July and August 2006, there wasn't a place in Occupied Palestine that the rockets of the resistance could not reach, be it Tel Aviv or other cities," he said, describing Israel and Hizbullah in terms usually used by the group."We could absolutely do that now," he added. "We can reach any target and any point in Occupied Palestine," he repeated.
In Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Hizbullah's rearmament "is a direct and grave violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 1701," which ended last year's war. "The international community must hold accountable those governments, namely Syria and Iran, who by supplying weapons to Hizbullah are deliberately trying to undermine the United Nations, the Lebanese government and peace and stability in the region," he said.
Nasrallah boasted of Hizbullah's "strategic" accomplishments during the war, saying: "We succeeded in largely destroying the project of Greater Israel."
He has previously said his group increased its stock of missiles since the war ended, despite attempts to keep arms from being smuggled into southern Lebanon.
In a speech last October, he said Hizbullah had 33,000 rockets -- up from the 22,000 he said they had on Sept. 22. Nasrallah insisted Monday that Israel had failed to hit any important Hizbullah cache during the war. "The targets that they hit were not weapons depot," he said. "Those were not hit."
Hizbullah fired nearly 4,000 rockets at northern Israel during the 34-day conflict, including several medium-range missiles that for the first time hit Israel's third-largest city, Haifa. Nasrallah warned during the war that he had weapons that could reach Tel Aviv. Although the city was never targeted, Hizbullah's targets struck deeper inside Israel than ever before, hitting on at least one occasion the town of Hadera, about 50 kilometers north of Tel Aviv.
The war began on July 12, 2006 after Hizbullah fighters crossed into Israel, killing three soldiers and seizing two. Israel then invaded southern Lebanon and pounded the country with massive bombardments that destroyed most roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
More than 1,200 Lebanese --mostly civilians-- were killed in the monthlong fighting, while 158 Israelis died, including 119 soldiers. Nasrallah refused to say on Monday whether the two Israeli soldiers were alive or dead. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that Hizbullah representatives who took part in a meeting of rival Lebanese factions in Paris earlier this month had led him to understand that the two captured soldiers were still alive.
"Not true," said Nasrallah. "Our brothers do not answer to this kind of questions. This is something that is left to negotiations," he said, adding that the group would only give out information on the two soldiers in return for a gesture from Israel regarding Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails. "Why would we offer information in exchange for nothing?" he asked. Nasrallah also claimed that neighboring Syria had used mediators to warn Israel during last summer's war that it would intervene militarily if Israeli forces approached Lebanese territory close to its own southwestern borders.
"I know for sure that Syria told the government of the enemy through mediators that in case of any (Israeli) incursion... along the Ante-Lebanon mountain chain... Syria would join the battle," he said. "The warning meant that Syrian troops would advance... even into Lebanese territory to confront the invading Israeli troops," he added.
Nasrallah said that that Israel heeded the Syrian warning and did not move any forces into that part of the border. Nasrallah, who remains in hiding since last year for fear of an Israeli retaliatory assassination, denied media reports that he lived in Syria or in the Iranian embassy in Beirut during the war.(AP-Naharnet)(AP photo shows young Lebanese Hizbullah supporters holding mock Katyusha rocket launchers in front of a portrait of Nasrallah.) Beirut, 24 Jul 07, 09:50

Shin Bet Arrests Arab-Israeli Woman Allegedly Recruited by Hizbullah
Israel has arrested an Israeli Arab woman suspected of aiding Hizbullah, security services said Tuesday, in a rare case of alleged espionage among Israel's large Arab minority. The internal security agency, known by its Hebrew acronym Shin Bet, said it arrested the woman June 30 at the Allenby border crossing between Jordan and Israel. The woman, whose name was kept secret by court order, told interrogators she was recruited by Hizbullah while she was a university student in Jordan, the agency said in a statement. She allegedly confessed to having received a computer memory card to pass to a Hizbullah operative in the West Bank.
The Shin Bet has previously arrested less than a dozen Israeli Arabs on espionage charges. Officials said the agency believes the Shiite group has an entire branch dedicated to drafting spies in Israel, particularly among its Arab citizens who make up some 20 percent of the population.
In March, the agency said Hizbullah directly supports 50 groups in the West Bank and 30 in the Gaza Strip. About 35 activists arrested in the West Bank in the first half of 2006 -- before Israel's summer war with the Lebanese group -- received direct orders from Hizbullah, the agency said (AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 25 Jul 07, 09:20

Ban Asks Dutch Government to Host Special Tribunal for Lebanon
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked the Dutch government to host the international tribunal that will try suspects in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe told a press briefing on Monday that Ban earlier in the day sent a letter to Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende inviting him "to consider hosting the Special Tribunal" for Lebanon. "The secretary general hopes that the government of The Netherlands will give serious consideration to the request," she added. Hariri and 22 other people were killed in a massive truck bombing in Beirut in February 2005.
Ban telephoned Prime Minister Fouad Saniora on Sunday to inform him that the U.N. was seeking The Hague venue for the tribunal.
In his letter, the U.N. secretary general highlighted the fact that several international tribunals are already located in The Hague, including the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Court.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone, which has its headquarters in Freetown, also has a chamber in The Hague, where former Liberian president Charles Taylor is being tried. Earlier this month, a report by Serge Brammertz, the Belgian prosecutor heading the U.N. probe into the Hariri slaying, noted the international court's coming into force last month, in line with a U.N. Security Council resolution. But the court will not be up and running for several months, according to diplomats and U.N. officials.
Brammertz' German predecessor Detlev Mehlis had implicated senior officials from Syria -- which for three decades was the power-broker over its smaller neighbor -- in the Hariri slaying. But Damascus has denied any involvement in the Hariri slaying, as well as in the string of assassinations of other anti-Syrian Lebanese figures.
In his July 12 report, Brammertz said his team had identified several people who may have been involved in the Hariri murder.(AFP-Naharnet)Beirut, 23 Jul 07, 20:07