July 2/07

Bible Reading of the day-Daily Star
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 9,51-62. When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?" Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village. As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." And to another he said, "Follow me." But he replied, "(Lord,) let me go first and bury my father." But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God."And another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home." (To him) Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for July 2/07
Anti-Syrian MPs Seek Safety Overseas Amid Fear of Assassinations
London's Failed Bombings Carry the Marks of Hizbullah-Hamas-al-Qaida
Lebanese Lawmakers Leave Amid Threats-Guardian Unlimited -Naharnet
Second Lebanon War to be commemorated tomorrow-Ha'aretz
UN's Ban: Threat to the lives of abducted IDF soldiers is increasing-Ha'aretz
Interview: Barry Rubin on Syria-Global Politician
Siniora, Saudi king in talks-Gulf Times
Leaders barred by US feel 'honoured', angry-Gulf Times
Pro-Syrian Lebanese Politicians Ridicule U.S. Entry Ban -Naharnet
Lessons from Israel's lost war-Khaleej Times
Canadian woman still missing in

Anti-Syrian MPs Seek Safety Overseas Amid Fear of Assassinations
Some 20 pro-government legislators have temporarily left Lebanon this summer apparently seeking safety overseas amid fears of mounting security threats and new assassinations against outspoken Lebanese critics of Syria. According to an Associated Press count of legislators who have left Lebanon, more than two dozen, many from the leading majority party bloc, have flown out of the politically divided country over the past 10 days.
Though some of the legislators have since returned, 20 are still abroad. The trend reflects growing concern about their safety -- and overall security in the country.
A senior Arab intelligence official said Lebanese lawmakers who are allied with Prime Minister Fouad Saniora have been advised to seek temporary shelter abroad after names appeared on a hit list. Many of the legislators have traveled to Egypt, an ally of the United States and Saniora's government whose relations with Damascus have been tense in recent months, according to the official and other officials familiar with the travel plans.
On June 13, a car bomb killed Walid Eido, a pro-government Beirut MP and fierce critic of Syria. He was the seventh high-profile anti-Syrian personality assassinated in the last two years.
Pro-government leaders have accused Syria of killing Eido to undermine Saniora's government, which could fall if it loses two more Cabinet ministers or four legislators. Syria denies the accusations and has condemned the killing. The Lebanese As-Safir daily newspaper, which tilts toward the Hizbullah-led opposition, said in a June 20 report that "an Arab security agency chief has informed a number of leaders in the majority that they should take summer vacation outside Lebanon."
Another pro-opposition newspaper, Al-Akhbar, on Friday also reported that arrangements were being made to move 65 pro-government MPs, or more than half the legislature, as well as 35 other politicians to Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and France. The report said party leaders would remain in Beirut.
One lawmaker from the majority who was staying in the country denied receiving warnings about moving abroad but added that some colleagues had left for their own safety. "Some lawmakers have left Lebanon temporarily because they don't have security capabilities to protect themselves," Samir Franjieh said. "There is no decision from our leadership or the Lebanese security authorities to leave the country. This is a self-made decision by members after the assassination of Eido to guarantee their own safety." He said since Eido's assassination, lawmakers have been taking "precautionary measures," including leaving to visit family abroad or to temporarily live somewhere that they believe is safer.
An atmosphere of apprehension has descended over Lebanon in recent weeks, with the army fighting al-Qaida-inspired Fatah al-Islam militants up north, a car bombing that killed six peacekeepers in the south and half a dozen bombings in the Beirut area. Saniora has been largely holed up with some members of his Cabinet at government headquarters in downtown Beirut, behind razor wires and troops. Hizbullah leaders Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's whereabouts are a deep secret. House Speaker Nabih Berri rarely leaves his heavily guarded residence, and when in Beirut, Saad Hariri, leader of the majority party bloc and son of slain Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, lives in a fortified compound.
Increasingly yellow tape forbidding parking has appeared on many city streets. Random military checkpoints have become a routine.
Recent U.S. statements in support of the government also have highlighted the security concerns. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, after a recent meeting with Saniora in Paris, issued a veiled warning to Syria, saying a Lebanese-international tribunal created by the U.N. Security Council must be safe while it handles the murder of Rafik Hariri, who was killed in a 2005 truck bombing. The White House on Friday stepped up the pressure on Damascus and its allies to stop what Washington says is Syrian destabilization of its neighbor, banning the entry into America of a number of individuals. The White House listed 10 names that included Syria's intelligence chief and several low-level Lebanese politicians allied with Damascus.
The departure of legislators comes amid a deepening political crisis. The news media has repeatedly referred to a "hot summer" -- political parlance for trouble -- that Lebanon is expected to face in the coming months. The pro-government camp wants to hold an election to fill the seats of Eido and Pierre Gemayel, a Cabinet minister and legislator killed by assassins' bullets on a suburban street in November.
Saniora's Cabinet has already called a vote for Aug. 5. But President Emile Lahoud, a staunch ally of Syria and the Hizbullah-led opposition, is refusing to sign a decree calling for the balloting. Another political crisis is also fast approaching: the presidency. The legislature must vote on a replacement when Lahoud's term ends in November. But it is highly unlikely that Lebanon's divided leaders can agree on a candidate, threatening a power vacuum or even worse -- the creation of two rival governments. Parliament is supposed to open a session late September during which it can elect a president.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 01 Jul 07, 08:37

Pro-Syrian Lebanese Politicians Ridicule U.S. Entry Ban
Pro-Syrian Lebanese politicians have ridiculed a measure by the U.S. barring entry to people undermining Lebanon's stability as "dictatorial" and unlikely to have much impact. The order did not list specific individuals subject to the ban, but the White House released information that named 10 individuals -- four top Syrian officials and six pro-Syrian Lebanese politicians -- who are suspected of being engaged in the type of activities the U.S. seeks to end.
"The decision is a dictatorial measure targeting democracy in Lebanon," Assad Hardan, a former Lebanese labor minister and sitting member of Parliament, whose name was on the list, said in a statement broadcast by Hizbullah's Al-Manar television. Hizbullah, which leads the opposition, is backed by Syria and Iran.
The proclamation signed by U.S. President George Bush on Friday targets people who have harmed Lebanon's sovereignty or its democratic institutions, or who have worked to destabilize Lebanon through terrorism, politically motivated violence, intimidation or the reassertion of Syrian control in Lebanon.
Washington has repeatedly accused Syria of interfering in Lebanon's affairs and seeking to destabilize the country more than two years after it was forced to withdraw its troops from Lebanon in the wake of the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hairi. A former Syrian information minister said Bush's decision was part of "well-known U.S. pressure on Syria, the Lebanese national forces and all those who stand against the hegemony policy in the region."
The measure will have "no impact" on Syria, which is used to all types of pressure, Mahdi Dakhlalah told The Associated Press.
Nasser Qandil, a former Lebanese legislator, whose name was also on the list, criticized the measure, saying it proved the ongoing struggle between Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government and the opposition was "a Lebanese confrontation with U.S. policies." "The government is only a tool in the American project," Qandil said in a statement released by his office. The Lebanese Unification Movement led by former Environment Minister Wiam Wahhab said Saturday that Bush's decision to sanction Wahhab for opposing "Fouad Saniora's weak government" was "a distinguished medal" that he was proud to wear on his chest.
When the news of the ban surfaced earlier this week, Wahhab told a news conference the order was "silly" and would have little impact on him.
"It's not like I spend my evenings in Las Vegas or I go to Miami to swim," Wahhab said, noting he has never been to America and has no intention of going there.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 01 Jul 07, 10:05

Iran Denies Meddling in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denied Saturday U.S. charges that Iran is meddling in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territory, state television reported. "American accusations against Iran about Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Afghanistan are unfounded," Khamenei said.
"Instead of searching for the real reason, which is people's hatred of the United States, they accuse the Islamic republic of Iran," he added.
American officials have accused predominantly Shiite Iran of backing Shiite militia groups fighting U.S. troops in neighboring Iraq and of channeling arms to Taliban militants also fighting a US-led coalition across its eastern border in Afghanistan. The U.S. military in Iraq said on Saturday it had killed 26 militants who it said were suspected of links to "Iranian terror networks". The militants were killed in U.S.-Iraqi raids in the Baghdad Shiite district of Sadr City.
U.S. officials have also pointed a finger at Iran who they say helped fighters from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas to seize control of the Gaza strip and of sponsoring the Lebanese Shiite militia Hizbullah. Iran, which does not recognize Israel, is one of the most vocal backers of Hamas and Hizbullah, and pledged millions of dollars in 2006 to the sacked Hamas government crippled with a Western aid cut. Tehran praised Hizbullah for its "victory" last year in a war with Israel but insists it only gives the Lebanese militia "moral support". "There is no doubt about the Iranian government's and people's hatred towards the US. Administration, but America's problem stems from elsewhere," Khamenei said.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 30 Jun 07, 18:29

Car Used in Gemayel's Killing Busted in North Lebanon
Security forces confiscated a car believed to have been used in the assassination of anti-Syrian legislator Pierre Gemayel seven months ago, a reliable source told Naharnet. The source speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Japanese-made Honda vehicle, which is believed to have been used in Gemayel's killing, was busted in north Lebanon. The industry minister was shot in the head at point-blank range in broad daylight on Nov. 21.
At the time, one escort said two cars took Gemayel's convoy by surprise. One rammed his Kia automobile from behind, while an assassin stepped out of another vehicle and shot the legislator in his car. A bodyguard was also killed. "We have evidence, solid enough to make us believe it is one of the cars used by the assassins" who gunned down Gemayel in Beirut's northeastern suburb of new Jdeideh. However, he said "further laboratory tests to be conducted abroad will provide the definite answer."The source refused to disclose further details. Gemayel was a prominent member of the anti-Syrian March 14 majority alliance that backs Premier Fouad Saniora's government. His killing, as well as that of legislator Walid Eido earlier this month, had been blamed by the Saniora government on Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Damascus has denied the charges. Beirut, 29 Jun 07, 19:23