July 27/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 13,10-17. The disciples approached him and said, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" He said to them in reply, "Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because 'they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.'Isaiah's prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: 'You shall indeed hear but not understand you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them.'
But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

Syrian Media Say Aoun Supports Syria but FPM Denies: Who’s telling the truth? [Modified From Naharnet] July 27/07
Hizbullah's Ambush-By:Hassan Haydar- Dar Al-Hayat. July 27/07
If the Metn votes, Aoun can be beaten-By Michael Young. July 27/07
The only pressing goal now is to ensure that Lebanon survives its own politicians. July 27/07
This summer's reading theme: the great escape from grim politics.
By David Ignatius. July 27/07

Commentary: Lebanon is staring down the abyss-Middle East Times - Cairo,Egypt

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for July 27/07
Aoun in Germany:The Syrians Helped us in the Past and Will do in ...Naharnet
Steinmeier to Aoun: Respect Democracy and State Institutions-Naharnet
German FM urges Lebanese parties to hold serious dialogue-Islamic Republic News Agency
World: Support Declines Among Muslims For Violent Defense Of Islam-RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
Intense army bombardment of north Lebanon refugee camp-International Herald Tribune
Government Accuses Nasrallah of 'Inventing Facts' Regarding Last Summer's War
French UNIFIL Deminer Killed in Ordinance Explosion
Army Maintains Massive Nahr al-Bared Shelling in Attempt to seize Remaining Militant Positions
Army Penetrates Militants' Small Enclave
Lebanon's French Friend Leaves Security Council
Syria Explosion Kills 15 Soldiers-Forbes
Muslims are weary of bin Laden but still fear American attack-Times Online
US says Hezbollah breached ceasefire in
Hezbollah has completely restored its military capabilities to ...
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
UNIFIL, Hezbollah Join - Edmond
UN ignores Hezbollah-Boston Herald
Reporter's Notebook: A Dark Cloud Over Lebanon-FOX News - USA
A Non-Violent Approach to Containing Hezbollah-The Moderate Voice
French envoy ends Lebanon visit with few-France24
Clinton, Obama in war of words over 'rogue leaders'-CNN
IDF intelligence: Syria has no plans to attack-Ha'aretz
UN draft expresses concern over arms flow to Hizbullah
-Daily Star
Cousseran leaves Beirut with few signs of progress
-Daily Star
Army in 'final phase' of assault on Nahr al-Bared
-Daily Star
MP slams children's charter as 'unconstitutional'
-Daily Star
Hopes for consensus on by-elections fizzle out
-Daily Star
UAE to distribute relief for Nahr al-Bared displaced
-Daily Star
Medical center to pay for healthcare of refugees
-Daily Star
UNIFIL troops still operating on high alert
-Daily Star
Farhat denies reports of rift with March 14 Forces
-Daily Star
LOG urges Lebanese to take part in by-elections
-Daily Star
French UNIFIL soldier killed in demining operation in South
-Daily Star
Winograd to probe war crimes
-Daily Star
United Nations Security Council statement on Lebanon
-Daily Star
Survey reveals Syria still occupies 4 percent of Lebanese territory
-Daily Star
First Beirut-based equity fund aims to encourage private sector to invest in Lebanese SMEs
-Daily Star
UNDP announces fruits of rehabilitation project in South
-Daily Star
US Embassy inaugurates second American Corner in Chouf region
-Daily Star
Angry relatives of fallen troops affirm support for army
-Daily Star

Survey reveals Syria still occupies 4 percent of Lebanese territory
Fact-finding mission discovers areas along border remain home to outposts
Compiled by Daily Star staff
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Syria still occupies 458 square kilometers of Lebanese soil two years after its soldiers' withdrawal, according to a report published in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
The report said a fact-finding mission on the Lebanese-Syrian border conducted by the International Lebanese Committee for UN Security Council Resolution 1559 (ILC) had discovered that certain areas and villages along the border were still home to active Syrian outposts, despite the fact that Syria claims to have withdrawn all its troops and intelligence agents from Lebanon in April 2005.
"In meticulous detail - supplemented by photographs, satellite images, archival material and Lebanese military maps predating Syria's 1976 invasion [used as a basis of comparison with Syria's current positions], the authors [of the survey] describe precisely where and how Lebanon has been infiltrated," wrote The Wall Street Journal. The article said the ILC had distributed its survey to a few selected reporters and government officials because of "the sensitivity of the subject."
The ILC is a US-based non-governmental organization set up specifically to focus on the implementation of Resolution 1559. Members include Lebanese from around the world, and the group is chaired by US resident Tony Harb. Closely following all matters related to Resolution 1559, the organization has garnered consultative status with the UN on the monitoring and implementation of the resolution.
Since the withdrawal of Syrian troops two months after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, there have been a number of official local and international complaints concerning the issue of the Lebanese-Syrian border, mainly revolving around the lax border control of arms-smuggling.
Since the implementation of Resolution 1559, the UN has authorized the establishment of the Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team, which has as its mission the monitoring of border activity and demarcation efforts.
Its most recent report, released in June, noted the ambiguity relating to the border's delineation, highlighting the fact that border crossings are not located on the line of the frontier.
"In general, the premises of the border crossing points are not located close to the borderline; they are located at a distance of up to 13 kilometers from it. Most of the perimeters of the border crossing points are neither fenced nor secured by access gates," the report said, contributing to the ILC's conclusion that Syria still controls land within Lebanese territory.
The fourth semi-annual UN report on the implementation of Resolution 1559, released in October 2006, also mentioned that there was obvious Syrian presence on Lebanese soil.
"The government of Lebanon has informed [the UN] that Syrian border police maintained sand barriers and positions inside Lebanese territory at several locations during the last six months. The government of Lebanon further informed [the UN] that there were mobile positions, some of which were also manned by Syrian border police on occasion."
While The Wall Street Journal reporter said he had last visited Lebanon in May 2005, when Syrian presence in certain villages along the border was still visible and known, the ILC said in its recent survey that Syrian anti-aircraft batteries were found in the Birak al-Rassass Valley and Syrian military checkpoints were located at least a kilometer-and-a-half within Lebanese territory.
"Though the land grabs are small affairs individually, they collectively add up to an area amounting to about 4 percent of Lebanese soil," said The Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper story went on to say that the lack of adequate border patrol and the lack of stringent demarcation efforts further complicated the issue of arms smuggling, which has been raised repeatedly by the United Nations and the Lebanese government.

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

Nahr al-Bared Battle Fuels Anti-Palestinian Sentiment
As the list of dead soldiers grows, anger mounts in villages of north Lebanon where the army has been locked in a deadly showdown with Islamist militants for more than two months. Black-clad women shout angrily as men in sombre mood sit in heavy silence next to portraits of the "martyred" soldiers in impoverished villages in the remote north -- a main reservoir for the country's armed forces.
Elite unit soldier Bassam Jawhar, 29, was killed on July 14 during the ongoing battles around Nahr al-Bared refugee camp where Fatah al-Islam militants have been under army siege since May 20. He was killed when a booby-trapped building collapsed on a patrol in Nahr al-Bared and it took the army six days to retrieve his body from under the rubble due to the intensity of the battles.
Like Jawhar, six other soldiers from Bebnin fell in combat in Nahr al-Bared in two months. At his family home in the village, his widow Mariam, wearing a black dress and an embroidered headscarf, sits near the giant portrait of the "Shahid" (martyr in Arabic) standing proudly in full combat gear and holding a rocket-launcher.
"I delivered our baby the day he left, 50 days ago exactly," said Mariam, 23. "He only saw the baby twice." In another room, the grandfather holds his newly-born granddaughter in his arms as an endless queue of men flock in to present their condolences. The procession takes place in silence, but anger is boiling.
"Don't say Fatah al-Islam, it is an insult to Islam. Say 'the criminal gang of Shaker al-Abssi,'" the Islamist group's commander, said Mohammed Jawhar, a cousin of the slain soldier. Across the dusty villages of the impoverished northern province of Akkar, the men enroll in the country's armed forces by local tradition but mostly by necessity. "There is not a single house where there is no soldier," explained 42-year-old Zeina Sufain, who lost her 19-year-old son Firas on May 22.
"There is no work here. Even for those who go to school," she said. The list of soldiers killed in Nahr al-Bared has painfully reached 116, including 27 servicemen on the first day of the clashes when the Islamist extremists attacked most of them in their beds. Reports of "massacres" against off-duty soldiers by Fatah al-Islam, including harrowing stories of servicemen executed at gunpoint or slaughtered with knives seemed to have at least momentarily ended decades of good relations with the Palestinian refugee camp.
"Let them go to hell," shouted Sahar, Bassam's aunt. "We will never let the camp be rebuilt. We will never accept that the Palestinians come back. We used to buy from their shops, but they are traitors. They harbored these criminals, they helped them," Mohammed Jawhar said.
"Some of them even married their girls to the terrorists" from Fatah al-Islam, shouted another man.
But despite their grief and great losses, Akkar villages continue to back the army and its military campaign on Nahr al-Bared.
"In Akkar we love the army," said a cousin of one of the slain soldiers in Bebnin.
But in a poor house further down the street, Zeina Soufain voices rare criticism of the army.
"They sent them (soldiers) there (to Nahr al-Bared) like cannon fodder. They had no experience, and they only had a Kalashnikov," she said.
Back at the Jawhar reception hall, a soldier came to present his condolences before returning to Nahr al-Bared after a six-hour leave, his first in 14 days.
"Morale is high, even the wounded soldiers want to return" to the battlefront, the soldier who did not wish to be identified told Agence France Presse.
"With our meagre means, we are combating a very well-trained enemy that kills with unbelievable savagery," he said.
The soldier said the army was surprised by the "very sophisticated arms" of Fatah al-Islam which he said had "high-precision rifles, infra-red goggles and remote-controlled landmines." He said the soldiers "stay three days in the camp. They take turns to sleep. Then they leave and others replace them."(AFP)
Beirut, 24 Jul 07, 18:15

Army Penetrates Militants' Small Enclave
Lebanese troops on Thursday pushed deeper into the northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared, penetrating the small enclave where Fatah al-Islam militants are holed up in a bid to wipe out the Islamists.Lebanon's National News Agency said the Lebanese army shelled a tiny neighborhood near the Saasaa area with heavy tank fire.
It said house-to-house clashes also erupted in Nahr al-Bared, particularly in the al-Magharbeh quarter.
NNA said a number of Fatah al-Islam militants were killed in Thursday's fighting. A military spokesman said the army had been advancing "slowly" since Wednesday.
"We are tightening the noose, the Islamists have no option but to surrender or face a fight to the end," the spokesman told AFP.
He said the army had stepped up its shelling of camp positions held by the Fatah al-Islam and was hoping to end the 10-weekold standoff in coming days, although no deadline has been set. Lebanese newspapers reported that there is widespread hope that the fighting could end by August 1, to coincide with the country's Army Day celebrations. But troops were being hampered in their bid to end the fight by land mines and booby traps strewn throughout the camp by the Al-Qaida-inspired militants, the spokesman said. "As the soldiers advance, they must clear every building of mines and booby traps and then move on to the next building," he said.
The army was urging the Islamists through loudspeakers to surrender on a daily basis, but was yet to receive a response, he added.
"We have appealed to them to surrender and to let their families go so as not to be held responsible for the crime of holding them against their will," he said.
There are an estimated 27 women and 42 children inside the camp, the spokesman said. The army has accused the Islamists of using the wives and children as human shields, but refugees who fled the camp said the spouses were refusing to leave their husbands behind and feared interrogation by security services.
Humanitarian organizations earlier this month failed in a bid to evacuate the remaining civilians. The army spokesman said the Islamists appeared determined to fight to the end and had enough food and ammunition to last them for many days. The army said in a statement published Thursday that its troops had "discovered trenches and hideouts inside the buildings where they found weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, various ammunition, detonators, explosives, monitoring equipment and ready made meals." In addition to the mines and booby traps, the narrow and winding streets of the camp make it difficult for vehicles and tanks to pass, the army has said.
More than 200 people, including 119 soldiers, have died since fighting first broke out in Tripoli and at the camp on May 20, according to the army.
Almost all of the camp's estimated 30,000 residents have been evacuated, as have Palestinian militants not involved in the showdown.
The fighting at Nahr al-Bared has exacerbated political tensions in Lebanon where the government has been paralyzed by an eight-month political crisis between the country's feuding parties.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 26 Jul 07, 08:57

Government Accuses Nasrallah of 'Inventing Facts' Regarding Last Summer's War
Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government accused Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah of inventing facts regarding last summer's war in Lebanon.
A lengthy statement issued by Saniora's office also accused Nasrallah of "intelligence violations."
It said Nasrallah focused on two points in his interview with the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera television network aired in two parts on Monday and Tuesday.
The first point, the statement said, was to boast of Hizbullah's victory against Israeli troops in the 2006 July-August war, while the second centered on accusing the "others of conspiracy and deception."Moreover, the statement said, Nasrallah provided "new data" about the Israeli aggression … facts that did not exist before which is a violation of intelligence." The statement, published Thursday by Lebanese newspapers, expressed surprise over Nasrallah's remarks when he told Al Jazeera that the request to deploy Lebanese army troops and beef up U.N. peacekeepers in the south to end the monthlong fighting between Israel and Hizbullah was his idea.
"Our national army was deployed in line with a decision taken by the Lebanese government," it said, stressing that the duty of protecting Lebanon and defending the country was solely that of the army. It said Nasrallah's claims that he did not approve of the seven-point plan that ended the Lebanon-Israel war were also inaccurate.
It said the Hizbullah chief had ignored the fact that Saniora was authorized by the cabinet to negotiate an end to the Israeli onslaught based on a five-point plan in return for exercising full government jurisdiction over all Lebanese territory. The statement said among those points were an immediate ceasefire, the recovery of Shabaa Farms, the release of prisoners and obtaining a copy of mine maps. The statement said Nasrallah has charged that the pro-government team had rejected the formation of a national unity government following the end of last summer's war, while in fact the multi-confessional Lebanese government was present.
The statement said one year after the Lebanon-Israel conflict, Nasrallah was still looking for "excuses" for the war. Beirut, 26 Jul 07, 07:14

If the Metn votes, Aoun can be beaten
By Michael Young
Daily Star staff
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Michel Aoun has taken a risk in deciding to contest the Metn by-election against the former president, Amine Gemayel. Mediation may yet succeed in averting a destructive electoral contest. If Aoun agrees to this, he would be doing the right thing, because even if the general does come out on top - and his candidate is the favorite - some victories are better left not won.
Aoun is prone to getting sidetracked. Back when he was liberating Lebanon from the Syrian Army, he took time off to destroy the Lebanese Forces. The army and the militia ended up destroying each other, and the Syrians walked into the predominantly Christian areas on October 13, 1990. Not surprisingly, Damascus has been pushing for an election contest in the Metn, and has mobilized its client parties for that purpose. Whenever the Christians are divided, the Syrians are better able to help themselves to Lebanon's sovereignty. So little seems to change.
On paper, Aoun and his allies have more votes than Gemayel, assuming they mobilize their voting blocs to the limit. But that's not taking into consideration the large mass of floating Metn voters whose allegiances are unclear. It is those voters who elected Gabriel Murr against Myrna Murr and very long odds in 2002; and it is they who gave Aoun a landslide victory in 2005. However, Aoun is said to have lost support since then, and the election will be the first real test of his alliance with Hizbullah. Aoun is vulnerable in victory. The general has argued that by choosing his candidate, Camille Khoury, voters would improve his own chances of becoming president, so that Christians would finally have a strong leader. But if the price of Aoun's triumph is a more divided Christian community - as will be the case after the by-election - then the general will have to prove that this is somehow good for Christians. Today Aoun can still claim to have unified the Metn in 2005; but a bruising by-election, unless he crushes Gemayel, which is unlikely, will show precisely the opposite. What will the ensuing rancor do for Aoun's desire to end "Christian marginalization"?
Then there is Aoun's justification for entering a candidate in the race. The general would have us believe that he put Khoury forward in order to officially challenge the by-election's constitutionality, because President Emile Lahoud did not sign off on it. So, Metn voters are grappling with the tortuous logic that Aoun is participating in the by-election because he feels it is illegal. That makes you wonder whether, if Khoury wins, Aoun will do the normal thing and relinquish his Metn seat. Of course the general will not, which is when many voters will see his argument for what it is: casuistry obscuring political avidity.
A third Aoun vulnerability is that it's not always advisable to beat a man whose son was assassinated. The general has always had little sympathy for the dead, particularly the March 14 dead. Then again, he forgot his own October 13 dead with alacrity. However, Metn voters have longer memories. Even presuming that Aoun's candidate wins, the resulting animosity in the district will be multiplied by a perception that the general callously took a murdered man's seat. Worse, many voters will assume that Aoun's decision to participate was payback for not being allowed to pay his respects to the Gemayel family after Pierre Gemayel was killed. Aoun was unfairly treated, but revenge hardly looks presidential.
For all these reasons, Aoun should reconsider his decision to contest the open Metn seat. It's a seat he doesn't need, which he allowed Pierre Gemayel to win during the 2005 elections, in a district the general can already pretend to control. But if Aoun goes ahead anyway, his rivals can beat him by highlighting the general's marked inconsistencies. Gemayel and his allies should avoid a strategy that centers around accusing Aoun of doing Syria's bidding. The general won by a large margin in 2005, and even voters displeased with him today don't want it insinuated that they voted for a Syrian puppet. Gemayel can point out that Syria would benefit from Christian divisions, but mostly the former president should focus on parochial Christian concerns in his campaign. That's what Aoun did in 2005 and it's what he's doing today. Gemayel has enough sticks with which to hit Aoun. For example, when did Christian marginalization really begin, he might ask? Wasn't it on October 13, 1990?
Gemayel should also harp on a central concern of Metn voters: their strong sense of support for the state and its institutions. The district is relatively prosperous, with a high percentage of industries compared to the rest of the country. The relationship between the state and the Metn has always been closer than that between the state and other areas. That is why the Metn championed Aoun back in 1988-1990 against the Lebanese Forces militia. And it is why Michel Murr, with his unparalleled skill in manipulating the levers of the administration on behalf of his electorate, has so successfully protected his political base. Gemayel's Kataeb Party has also long identified itself as a mainstay of state power.
Within such a context, Gemayel can argue that Aoun's alliance with Hizbullah has weakened the state because it strengthened a political-military organization overseeing a parallel state of its own. Indeed, Gemayel might want to mention the recent statement of Aoun's ally, Muhammad Raad, who leads Hizbullah's parliamentary bloc. Raad warned that there would be no presidential election if there were no government of national unity formed first. If Aoun wants a strong president, then how can he justify his alliance with a party that places its own political demands ahead of constitutional deadlines? Indeed, how can Aoun justify to his voters that he and Hizbullah would prefer to leave a vacuum at the top of the state rather than budge an inch on a unity government that would resign anyway once a president is elected?
Finally, Gemayel should play on Aoun's history of divisiveness. He divided the country when he was prime minister. He did it again when he returned to Beirut in 2005. He divided the Christians on January 23 of this year, when he blocked roads within and between Christian areas. His presidential strategy is based not on consensus but on blackmail. And even Aoun's closest Metn allies, Michel Murr and the Tashnaq Party, prefer to avoid an electoral contest, so that the decision to forge ahead with Khoury is entirely the general's responsibility. Gemayel must ask whether this is the kind of man Metn voters should be empowering.
Hopefully, it will not reach that stage. Self-interest, but also the interest of the Christians and the country as a whole, should make Aoun withdraw Camille Khoury from the Metn race. But if Aoun persists, then the next best thing to do is ensure that he will not view the results as permission to hold Lebanon hostage to his narrow political aspirations.
***Michael Young is opinion editor of THE DAILY STAR.

Hizbullah's Ambush
Hassan Haydar Al-Hayat - 26/07/07//
Standing on the very same spot from which he covered last summer's war in Tyre, South Lebanon, a reporter for an Arab satellite channel pans his camera out to the sandy shore of the beach to reveal swimmers of all ages cooling off in the water under the summer heat. This reporter proceeded to assure his audience that these people - among others in South Lebanon and the Lebanese in general - were "prepared to sacrifice once more if such a sacrifice would lead them to another victory." He made this bold assertion without bothering to ask any of the swimmers in the water - whose numbers included many women and children - the position he had just taken in their name.
Anyone listening to the recent speeches of Hizbullah Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah knows now that the ambush of Israeli soldiers that forced the Lebanese to make the sacrifices the reporter referred to was in fact three months in the making. Thus, the same Hizbullah that had been attending the famous national dialogue and reassuring the Lebanese that the summer and tourist season of 2006 would be a peaceful one was planning an operation that would inflict pain on Lebanon as a whole and not just on two kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Throughout this planning, Hizbullah did not bother to grant others a say in the matter which would affect them - or to ask whether or not others were willing to pay the necessary price for Hizbullah's actions.
Hizbullah's reasoning bears a remarkable resemblance to the reporter's belief that he may speak freely on behalf of others without consulting them on his own plans for their future, and content himself with rallying them behind slogans of 'the road to paradise' - slogans fundamentally incompatible with the consensual democratic arrangement cemented in Lebanon's Taif Accords.
Sayyid Nasrallah went on to launch a scathing attack on Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and on his insistence throughout last summer's ceasefire negotiations on a full resolution of the issue of Hizbullah's weapons and on the state's monopolization over armed force in Lebanon. Thus, Nasrallah is condemning Siniora for implementing the duties delegated to him by the Lebanese people: the establishment and preservation of the power of the state rather than that of factions and parties. Nasrallah seems to have forgetten that it was Siniora who was relaying the conditions expressed by Israel through the United States government. This was due to Hizbullah's decision to use the Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament as a conduit in negotiations owing to the party's own political taboos and security constraints. By that reasoning, why does Hizbullah not also accuse Speaker Nabih Berri of pushing for the creation of an enclave dominated by multinational forces in Southern Lebanon?
As for Nasrallah's defense of Syria - who stood idly by while Lebanon was pummeled with several thousand tons of explosives - on the grounds that Damascus threatened Israel with military action should it take the war to Syrian territory, his statement is more an indictment than a defense. For it indicates that Syria is concerned only with her own security and not with that of its neighbor whom it dominated for years and with whom it has signed many a defensive pact. In addition, if Damascus' threats really prevented Israel from taking the fight to Syria, why did Damascus not issue warnings against attacks elsewhere?
So it seems that twisting the truth and switching positions are part of the 'politics of ambush' embraced by Hizbullah both publicly and in secret. And anyone who buys into the idea that the national unity government demanded by Hizbullah and its allies will remove Lebanon from destructive regional axes and restore peace and stability in the country has fallen victim to the politics of perpetual ambush

Syrian Media Say Aoun Supports Syria but FPM Denies: Who’s telling the truth?

[Modified From Naharnet, Beirut, 26 Jul 07]
The Free Patriotic Movement denied Thursday remarks attributed by official Syrian media to its leader Michael Aoun earlier in the day.
The FPM, in a statement posted on its web site, said "some Lebanese" radio and television stations quoted from the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) and the Sham Press Website a statement allegedly made by Aoun in Germany. The FPM, however, has not posted Aoun’s original statements in order to allow people to decide who is lying.
"FPM stresses that the statement attributed to Gen. Aoun is totally baseless. All the statements that General Aoun made in Germany and that have been distributed to the media, did not include what was included in the mentioned statement," the statement said.
Free Patriotic Movement Leader Michael Aoun was quoted by Syria's official news agency as saying Thursday: "Our Syrian brethren have helped us in the past and they will help us in the future." "We had reached an understanding (in the past) and we will also reach an understanding with them in the future politically, economically and socially," Aoun told a news conference in Berlin after talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, according to a report by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).
Aoun, according to the report, said the problem in Lebanese-Syrian relations is "a mere media problem and not a political problem. Some (factions) want to direct accusations against Syria to distort its image. This media problem has been imposed on the world to implement some people's objectives internally and externally."
Commenting on the chain of killings that has struck Lebanon, Aoun was quoted as saying: "The assassinations that happened in Lebanon are the making of hands and criminals that remain unknown because certain (forces) do not want them to be known. What is important for them is to drag this crisis into the hallways of the United Nations to distort Syria's reputation."
He accused Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's Government of corruption. "Corruption in Lebanon is part of the government plan," Aoun was quoted as saying. He expressed "hope that the Saniora Government ministers be interrogated" on corruption charges. He held the Saniora government responsible for the presence of Fatah al-Islam group in Lebanon "if not in connivance with it." "Where were the Lebanese Intelligence agencies when members of the organization entered Lebanon? Where were these agencies when the organization stored tons of equipment and ammunition in Nahr al-Bared?" Aoun asked. "Maybe they were (busy) monitoring our movements in our homes," he replied.
Aoun said his ongoing European tour aims at "clarifying positions and real viewpoints regarding the Lebanese crisis." Aoun accused some factions that he did not identify of "distorting Lebanon's real image and leading the public opinion to believe in the presence of a peaceful government that wants to make Lebanon a stable and sovereign state, and an opposition that aims at sabotaging it (Lebanon) and making wars against others."
The SANA report said Aoun "criticized western support that is being used in favor of the illegitimate Saniora Government to impose solutions rather than finding a settlement. The government side has no other solution but launching war on us." He described his relationship with Hizbullah as "distinguished," according to the report which also said Aoun” emphasized the necessity of achieving national entente in Lebanon and the formation of a national unity government to end the political crisis and avert any confrontations that could happen."