July 4/07

Bible Reading of the day-Daily Star
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 20,24-29. Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

Lebanon's army commander shouldn't have to explain politics to its politicians-Daily Star July 4/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for July 4/07
French envoy hands invites to Lebanon leaders-Reuters
Army Skirmishes Fatah al-Islam-Naharnet
Denmark for Better Control of Syrian-Lebanese Borders-Naharnet

France Sets July 14 for Inter-Lebanes Meeting-Naharnet
French envoy on Lebanon fence-mending-France24
Family of 5 Killed in Traffic Accident in South-Naharnet
Lebanon bending under extremist challenge-Asia Times Online
US Says 'No' to Second Beirut Government-Naharnet
Itzik invites Hezbollah to negotiate over kidnapped soldiers?
Salafi Group behind U.N. Bomb Attack in South-Naharnet
Police Bolster Border Security With Syria
At Least 40 Saudis in Fatah al-Islam Ranks-Naharnet
Israelis Mark First Anniversary of War with Hizbullah-Naharnet

Lebanon: Proposal Gains Support-
Stratfor - USA
More arrests made in British car-bomb attacks-Christian Science Monitor
Report: Israel, Syria fortifying northern border-Jerusalem Post
A cell in Syria and Lebanon trains Algerians for fighting in the GSPC-Alkabar
Suleiman tells politicians to settle their differences-
Daily Star
Israelis remember casualties of summer war, flay absent Olmert for 'failing' again
-Daily Star
Hamas and Fatah split over Nahr al-Bared crisis
-Daily Star
Small earthquake shakes Bekaa Valley
-Daily Star
Court of Appeals to poll views on bid to replace judge in Hariri case
-Daily Star
Beit Mery municipality denies responsibility for sewage crisis
-Daily Star
Fighting at Nahr al-Bared splits Tripoli into two camps-Daily Star
CDR confirms bridge collapse in Dahiyeh was 'accident,' won't affect deadline-Daily Star
'Fortress Gemmayzeh' wants its customers back
-Daily Star

Salafi Group behind U.N. Bomb Attack in South -Daily Star
A Salafi extremist group on Tuesday was reportedly behind the June 24 bomb attack that left six U.N. peacekeepers serving with the Spanish forces killed in south Lebanon. The daily As Safir, citing European intelligence sources, said a Salafi group "implemented" the attack on the Spanish contingent of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).Three Spaniards and three Colombians were killed in the car bombing which struck their personnel carrier as they patrolled the main road between the towns of Marjayoun and Khiam near the Israeli border. As Safir said the Salafi ring had infiltrated into the deep south from an area outside south of the Litani river to carry out its attack. It said, however, that the group was likely assisted by "local members during the surveillance and preparation operation" way ahead of the assault. As Safir said the report coincided with indications by Spain's Defense Minister Jose Antonio Alonzo that the attack on UNIFIL was carried out by "non-Lebanese terrorists." It quoted the European intelligence sources as saying that the Lebanese army, in collaboration with UNIFIL, thwarted, not too long ago, an attempt to attack a German warship off the Lebanese coast.Germany is the leader of the naval component of UNIFIL. The sources said that "precise monitoring" by the Lebanese army had also led to the discovery of a terrorist group that was undertaking scuba diving training with professionals. As Safir said Lebanese security sources declined to comment on the report. Beirut, 03 Jul 07, 07:32

U.S. Claims Iran Using Hizbullah as 'Proxy' in Iraq to Arm Militants
U.S.-led forces have arrested an Iranian-controlled Hizbullah agent in Iraq, where he was training extremists, a U.S. general said Monday, accusing Iran of using the Lebanese group as a "proxy" to arm Shiite militants in the war-torn country. A senior Hizbullah operative, Ali Moussa Dakdouk, also known as Hamid Mohammed Jabur al-Lami, was captured March 20 in southern Iraq, U.S. military spokesman Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner told reporters. Dakdouk served for 24 years in Hizbullah and was "working in Iraq as a surrogate for the Iranian Quds Force," Bergner said. The general also accused Tehran's elite Quds force of helping militants carry out a January attack in Karbala in which five Americans were killed. He said that Dakdouk was a liaison between the Iranians and a breakaway Shiite group led by Qais al-Kazaali, a former spokesman for radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Bergner said al-Kazaali's group carried out the January attack against a provincial government building in Karbala and that the Iranians assisted in preparations. Al-Khazaali and his brother Ali al-Khazaali were captured with Dakdouk.
Dakdouk told U.S. interrogators that the Karbala attackers "could not have conducted this complex operation without the support and direction of the Quds force," Bergner said. Documents captured with al-Khazaali showed that the Quds Force had developed detailed information on the U.S. position at the government building, "regarding our soldiers' activities, shift changes and defenses, and this information was shared with the attackers," Bergner said.
The Karbala attack was one of the most sophisticated against U.S. forces in four years of fighting in Iraq, and American officials at the time suggested Iran may have had a role in it. In the assault, up to a dozen gunmen posed as an American security team, with U.S. military combat fatigues, allowing them to pass checkpoints into the government compound, where they launched the attack. One U.S. soldier was killed in the initial assault, and the militants abducted four others who were later found shot to death. The U.S. military in the past has accused the Quds Force -- the external arm of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards -- of arming and financing Iraqi extremists to carry out attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces. Tehran has denied the U.S. accusations. Hizbullah spokesmen in Lebanon said they were checking into the claims Dakdouk was a member of the group and would not comment. The group has in the past denied any activities in Iraq.
In late 2005, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said his government suspected that Iran and Hizbullah might be supplying technology and explosives to Shiite militant groups operating in Iraq, but he provided no proof. Bergner said Iraqi extremists were taken to Iran in groups of 20 to 60 for training in three camps "not too far from Tehran." When they returned to Iraq, they formed units called "special groups" to carry out attacks, bombings and kidnappings.
"Our intelligence reveals that the senior leadership in Iran is aware of this activity," he said. Asked if Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could be unaware of the activity, Bergner said, "That would be hard to imagine." Dakdouk was "tasked to organize the special groups in ways that mirrored how Hizbullah was organized in Lebanon," the general said. Dakdouk was ordered by Hizbullah's leadership to work with the Quds Force and went to Iran in May 2006 to meet with Quds Force commanders, Bergner said. He then made four trips to Iraq over the next year. Hizbullah, Bergner said, helps the Iranians as a "proxy ... to do things they didn't want to have to do themselves in terms of interacting with special groups."
He added that Hizbullah did not appear to have an extensive network in Iraq, saying Dakdouk was "being used specifically as a proxy by the Quds Force.(AP-AFP-Naharnet)Beirut, 02 Jul 07, 09:57

At Least 40 Saudis in Fatah al-Islam Ranks
More than 40 Saudis have been fighting with the Fatah al-Islam terrorist group against the Lebanese army, a senior Palestinian official said on Monday.
Sultan Abul Aynayn, the Lebanon chief of the mainstream Fatah faction, told Agence France Presse that 42 Saudis figured among the militiamen who have clashed with soldiers since May 20 in a Palestinian refugee camp of northern Lebanon. Twenty of them have been killed, one has surrendered, and another 21 are still holed up in the Nahr al-Bared camp, three of them wounded, Abul Aynain said. The Al-Qaida-inspired group is also made up of Palestinian, Iraqi and Syrian fighters, according to the army, which has been battling Fatah al-Islam in the bloodiest internal violence since the end of Lebanon's civil war in 1990.
On Thursday, five Islamists were killed as troops raided their suspected hideout in and around Qalamoun, also in north Lebanon. A Lebanese military source said three Saudis were among the dead.(AFP) Beirut, 02 Jul 07, 19:56

Israelis Mark First Anniversary of War with Hizbullah
Bereaved Israeli families held a series of tearful memorials on Monday marking the first anniversary of the Lebanon war, including a pilgrimage to the spot where the conflict began. Touring key sites of the war, the mourners visited the patrol road running along Israel's border with Lebanon where Hizbullah guerrillas attacked two army vehicles, killing two soldiers and capturing two more on July 12, 2006. One mother, whose son was killed, clutched the yellow border fence through which the Hizbullah militants infiltrated Israel, overcome with grief at the site where the names of the four dead or captured are sprayed on the road.
Many mourners displayed raw anger at the government and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was heavily criticized by an interim report into conflict and who was not attending Monday's events. Micky Goldwasser, whose son Ehud was captured together with Eldad Regev and about whom there has been no news, voiced frustration over army "complacency" that she said led to the fatal incident.
"One observation camera here could have prevented everything. The kidnapping, the victims and the war," she said, nonetheless refusing to believe that the 34-day conflict, widely seen as a failure in Israel, was in vain. "The power with which we struck Hizbullah nevertheless gave back the army a lot of strength... At the end of the day our kids did not die for nothing," she said, calling for stepped up efforts to help bring back her son.
"We must face the (Israeli) government and tell them to work a bit harder, to be a bit more creative and a bit more pressing" in the efforts to bring the soldiers home," she told AFP. Some 100 mourners traveled to the site in a convoy from Kfar Giladi, where a Hizbullah rocket attack killed 12 Israeli soldiers on August 6, before a ceremony at the military cemetery at Mount Herzl not attended by Olmert.
"We must re-establish our power of deterrence because there is no other way," said Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who took office last month after his predecessor Amir Peretz was found to have failed on the job during the war. "We keep sword in hand but with eyes fixed on the horizon of peace," he told the ceremony, as the mourners lashed out for Olmert for failing to turn up. "Just as he dodged responsibility during and after the war, he knew how to dodge this ceremony," said Elifaz Baeloa, whose son was killed at Kfar Giladi. At Kfar Giladi, 12 piles of rocks with the pictures of the 12 dead reserve soldiers are decked along the outer wall of a cemetery, near where the deadly Hezbollah rocket struck.
A small crater is still gouged out of the ground at the point where the rocket hit, next to a memorial stone with the rusty remains of the shell.
Opinion polls have shown that the Kfar Giladi attack marked a watershed event in Israeli public support for the war, which rapidly unraveled in the lead up to a U.N.-brokered ceasefire on August 14. Uzi Dayan, the former national security adviser who led a protest movement after the war, demanded again that Olmert resign, as have former chief of staff Dan Halutz and Peretz. "The prime minister has failed not only during the war but is continuing to fail because he doesn't know how to fix what needs fixing after the war. He will go home," he told AFP.(AFP) Beirut, 02 Jul 07, 19:50

Police Bolster Border Security With Syria
A 300-strong police force deployed along Lebanon's northern borders with Syria Monday in what appears to be an attempt to prevent the alleged smuggling of weapons and fighters.The state-run National News Agency (NNA) said the force set up "observation posts" along the northern border stretch from the seaside Arida crossing in the west to the village of Hnaider towards the east. The posts were erected along the southern bank of the Grand River, the natural barrier separating Lebanon from Syria in the Northern Province. The Lebanese Army also had set up observation posts in the region following reports of stepped up smuggling of weapons from Syria to Lebanon and the trafficking of terrorists engaged in clashes with government troops. The United Nations also has referred to reports about alleged smuggling of weapons from Syria to Lebanon. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Hizbullah-Israel war last summer, has been the smuggling of weapons into Lebanon from neighboring Syria. Beirut, 02 Jul 07, 16:38

Palestinians Work to End Nahr al-Bared Siege
Palestinian groups on Monday sought an end to the deadly gunbattles between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam terrorists at the besieged Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon. The groups, in an initiative spearheaded by the mainstream Fatah faction, were trying to assemble a force to restore security to Nahr al-Bared. Fatah commander at the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp, Mounir Maqdah, said that a 300-strong Palestinian force was to be formed to help restore security at the camp, near the port city of Tripoli. The Lebanese army, however, declined to comment on the plan which would need its approval.
According to a count compiled from official figures, the fighting which broke out May 20 has now claimed at least 170 lives, including 85 soldiers, in and around Nahr al-Bared. The toll does not include the corpses of fighters abandoned in the camp. An LBC television crew managed to gain access to the Palestinian camp early on Monday and ran new footage of the destruction in a northern sector, from which the diehard Fatah al-Islam militants have been forced to pull back.
Shell-pocked upper floors of two- to four-storey buildings stood next to mounds of rubble. Homes had collapsed like packs of cards, leaving behind low cinderblock walls which were apparently used for cover by militants.
Sporadic exchanges of gunfire were reported Monday between soldiers and Fatah al-Islam fighters, which the army now estimates at just "a few dozen", in the older southern sector of Nahr al-Bared. "The people are asking for fresh water and bread. No matter how many civilians are left, we are committed to helping them," said Virginia de la Guardia, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Fewer than 1,000 of its original population of around 30,000 are believed to remain in Nahr al-Bared, near the port city of Tripoli, having taken advantage of lulls in the fighting to flee. De la Guardia said estimates for the number of Palestinian refugees still cowering in their Nahr al-Bared homes varied and were unreliable. "The humanitarian situation is getting worse and worse," she said, pointing out that the ICRC, which has been coordinating relief operations, had not been allowed access for more than 10 days. But the army, which reported that another soldier had died on Friday of his wounds, said it was ready to help provide access. "There is every cooperation from the military. There is no problem for relief work," a spokesman said.(AFP- Naharnet) Beirut, 02 Jul 07, 12:43

Small earthquake shakes Bekaa Valley
By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
BEIRUT: An earthquake measuring 3.1 on the Richter scale jolted the Bekaa Valley region of eastern Lebanon on Monday, without causing casualties or damage, the national seismology center said. The quake at 9:30 a.m. was felt by some residents of the town of Zahle, it said. -AFP

Suleiman tells politicians to settle their differences
Army commander laments 'futile bickering'

By Mirella Hodeib -Daily Star staff
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
BEIRUT: Lebanon's army commander has publicly urged the country's bickering political leaders to end their feud and reach a suitable compromise to end an impasse that began in November 2006. In a statement addressing the Lebanese Army on Sunday, General Michel Suleiman said compromise would not be the result of weakness, but rather an "immense" feeling of responsibility "that drives away the culture of clashes and futile political bickering."
Suleiman called for national unity and consensus, stressing that the issue of Hizbullah's weapons should be resolved through constructive dialogue rather than clashes.
Suleiman's appeal for reconciliation over the weekend was widely overlooked on Monday, with the opposition pursuing its threats about a parallel government and the ruling majority accusing the opposition of crippling the country. International initiatives to solve the deadlock remain in motion, with French Foreign Ministry envoy Jean-Claude Cousseran expected to arrive in Beirut Tuesday to invite representatives of participants in last year's national dialogue to attend round-table talks in Paris.
US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman said his country would support "any solution the Lebanese see as fit to solve the current impasse."
"The US supports any initiatives aiming at resolving the crisis in Lebanon, in addition to supporting any form of dialogue among the Lebanese," Feltman said following a meeting with MP Michel Murr on Monday. Murr said various Lebanese parties agreed that presidential elections be held as scheduled in September. He added that he was "75 percent optimistic that a solution to Lebanon's problems can be reached." "The issue of presidential elections is the most problematic and we are working to solve all misunderstandings so that elections can run smoothly," Murr said. Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who visited Lebanon last week to try to broker an agreement among various conflicting groups, assigned Murr to pursue efforts. Murr has already met with a number of Lebanese leaders.
In other developments, at a meeting of the Socialist International Council in Geneva, Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt lashed out at Syria, holding it responsible for the continuing deadlock and "plotting, along with Israel, against Lebanon's independence and stability.
"Syria ought to control its borders with Lebanon and put an end to the massive infiltration of arms and terrorists into Lebanon," he said on Monday.
Jumblatt said the Syria-Iran alliance was a "dangerous" one likely to have "negative repercussions on Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq."The Druze leader also said that the Fatah al-Islam militant group "attacked the Lebanese Army when the opposition reached a dead end concerning the toppling of Premier Fouad Siniora's government."
Fatah al-Islam has been battling the Lebanese Army for at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp since May 20.
"Fatah al-Islam is a Syrian terrorist cell," Jumblatt added. He also urged United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeepers "not to abandon Lebanon and stand in the face of terrorism." Six members of UNIFIL's Spanish contingent were killed by a bomb attack in South Lebanon on June 25.
A number of European defense ministers are expected to visit Lebanon this week to check on their countries' UNIFIL contingents. On another level, Hizbullah politburo member Mahmoud Qomati said the government was acting upon the orders of the United States. "The ruling coalition is a US-supported gang aiming to incite chaos and fighting in Lebanon, in addition to jeopardizing the meanings and achievements of the resistance," he said during a rally on Monday. Qomati said the formation of a parallel government was a "serious and probable" scenario the opposition was considering.
"Even though the opposition has shown much patience; the upcoming weeks will witness important steps," he added. The opposition, along with President Emile Lahoud, waved threats that Lahoud might form a parallel government if presidential elections were not held according to a two-thirds parliamentary quorum. Another Hizbullah position about the crisis was voiced by MP Hussein Hajj Hassan, who said after a visit to former Prime Minister Salim Hoss on Monday that the only solution was the formation of a national unity government.
One of the opposition's main figures, Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, said he was not "too enthusiastic" about a second government.
"But I will not contribute in slaughtering Lebanon as the current illegitimate government is planning to do," he said in an interview with New Television on Sunday.
Aoun said the current government was battling to preserve its "own existence rather than Lebanon's existence." Echoing Hizbullah's position, he said the only "feasible" solution to the crisis was the formation of a "salvation" government, "where all problematic matters are openly discussed." Aoun left for Qatar early on Monday, where he was to meet a number of top officials there and discuss recent developments on the Lebanese political scene. The Central News Agency said Aoun is expected to visit other Arab states "in light of the outcomes of his talks in Qatar."

French envoy hands invites to Lebanon leaders
Tue Jul 3, 2007 12:46PM EDT
BEIRUT (Reuters) - A French envoy arrived in Beirut on Tuesday to hand out invitations to rival Lebanese leaders for a meeting in France later this month aimed at easing tensions in the country. The meeting scheduled for mid-July will include second-tier Lebanese politicians and is not expected to yield a breakthrough in a political crisis which pits the Western-backed government against the opposition, which includes Iranian-backed Hezbollah. "These are talks between Lebanese in the presence of the French, specifically French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. This does not mean that France will impose the issues to be discussed," said Jean-Claude Cousseran after meeting Siniora. "France aims, through these talks, to organize and participate in talks between the different representatives of the Lebanese sides," Cousseran, a former ambassador, said.
Lebanon was plunged into its worst political crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war last November, when opposition ministers quit Siniora's government after he refused to grant the opposition veto power in government. Rival Lebanese leaders have welcomed the French meeting but warn against any high expectations, especially after the failure of Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa to resolve the standoff in a recent mediation drive. The meeting scheduled for July 14-16 will take place in Saint-Cloud, a wealthy suburb west of Paris, and will include representatives from 14 of Lebanon's broad political parties. The Lebanese army has also been fighting al Qaeda-inspired Fatah al-Islam militants in northern Lebanon where at least 204 people have been killed since May 20. Bombs in and around Beirut, an assassination on an anti-Syrian lawmaker and a fatal car bomb attack on U.N. peacekeepers in southern Lebanon, further exacerbate Lebanon's fragile political landscape. The anti-Syrian majority in Siniora's cabinet accuses the opposition, made up of mainly Christian and pro-Syrian Shi'ite Muslim factions, of trying to derail a special tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 killing of ex-premier Rafik al-Hariri.
Pro-government leaders say Syria is responsible for Hariri's assassination, a charge Damascus denies.

AFP News brief
French envoy on Lebanon fence-mending mission

Send by e-mail Save Print French envoy Jean-Claude Cousseran flew in to Beirut on Tuesday to prepare for an inter-Lebanese meeting that Paris is expected to host in mid-July in a bid to ease the country's political crisis. Cousseran, sent by Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on his second Beirut mission since June 9, was to meet both officials of the Western-backed government and members of the Hezbollah-led opposition. He started his talks at the office of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, an AFP correspondent said. Cousseran was to deliver invitations for the meeting near Paris, diplomats said. An ambassador of the Arab League, which has tried but failed to resolve Lebanon's crisis, was also to be invited. Siniora said last week during a Paris visit he did not expect much progress from the talks called by France between all of Lebanon's political and civil society leaders, although not at a senior level.
"We support all of the initiatives that France has taken to bring together the Lebanese people, have a dialogue and bridge differences," said Siniora. But he added: "Expectations are not extremely high for this meeting". France has taken a leading role in trying to restore stability to Lebanon, with Kouchner travelling to Beirut in May for his first foreign trip abroad.
Lebanon has been deadlocked since November when six pro-Syrian ministers quit the cabinet, charging it was riding roughshod over the power-sharing arrangements in force since the 1975-1990 civil war. Both the anti- and pro-Syrian camps have publicly welcomed the French initiative.