July 12/07

Bible Reading of the day-Daily Star
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 10,1-7. Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, "Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand

Lebanon's Bloody Summer-By: Mohamad Bazzi-The Nation- July 12.07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for July 12/07
Lebanese army prepares to storm refugee camp- AP
Lebanese Army Preparing for Final Showdown with Militants-Naharnet
Graziano: UNIFIL Mission Successful for Time Being-Naharnet
Hizbullah's Participation in Dialogue 'Under Study' Despite France's Clarification of Terrorism Charge-Naharnet
Israeli Official: U.N. Cartographer Finds Shebaa Lebanese-Naharnet
Lebanon solution only through Damascus, claims Syrian daily-Peninsula On-line - Qatar
UN chief: Lebanon still mired in deep political crisis-Xinhua

IDF: War with Syria would be 10 times worse than Hizbullah-
Jerusalem Post
Olmert presses Assad to begin direct talks with Israel-Daily Star
Army Day celebrations cancelled out of respect for fallen soldiers
-Daily Star
Hizbullah confirms plan to attend France summit
-Daily Star
Beirut archbishop pays tribute to Siniora's 'great sacrifices'
-Daily Star
Report: Brammertz's visit to Syria linked to probe into Gemayel killing
-Daily Star
Lebanese women demand role in resolving impasse
-Daily Star
Authorities defuse bomb found near FPM offices
-Daily Star
Kaslik businesses feel effect of recent turmoil, fear slow-down may last
-Daily Star
Troops shell snipers in Nahr al-Bared
-Daily Star
America's blind backing of Israel during war shredded US clout in Mideast, say analysts
-Daily Star
Lebanon uses high-tech tools to boost ecotourism
-Daily Star
New organization aims to create a civil state in Lebanon
-Daily Star
Renting land for agriculture no longer lucrative
-Daily Star

The cells are already here, while more are coming
By Walid Phares

The current media rush to interpret what the US Government is releasing in terms of potential infiltration by an al Qaeda cell (or cells) to strike this summer is warranted but still unfocused. ABC News and AP have reported new official "concerns" of an attack on the US homeland this summer. ABC specified that (according to its sources) the Terrorists intend to attack a Government facility. Furthermore, as reported widely in the press, "new intelligence suggests a small al Qaeda cell is on its way to the US, or may already be here." The report added that the White House has convened an urgent multi-agency meeting for Thursday afternoon to address ways to minimize or counter the threat, and steps to harden and protect Government facilities."
The report quoted a former FBI agent (and ABC Terrorism expert) analyzing the potential threat by stating that the target is a Government building. ABC told its viewers that the tactics by the London attackers provided clues that are being used to decode other emails, etc. Even further AP reported that US Counter Terrorism officials have warned that al Qaeda has "interest in attacking in the summer time." Added to this salad of analysis, was the news about a previous video showing a "graduation" by the Taliban in Pakistan. And to season it, two more leads were added: One was the Daily Telegraph story about the 45 doctors who were planning on attacking a US military target in Florida and a Sky News report about British Pastor Canon Andrew White who has said of an April discussion with al Qaeda "representative" who told him "the killing will start in the UK and the US."
So in short, based on these "reports," US media are telling their audiences (from their Government sources) the following:
1. A Graduation has occurred in Pakistan (they showed the footage) and Jihadists are on their way to the West.
2. A Pastor has met an al Qaeda representative who told him operations are underway.
3. American analysts looked at the British Jihadists tactics over the past few weeks and "learned" something new. Something that taught them how to better read information they already had.
5. A media report said 45 doctors were to prepare an attack against a US base.
4. Hence, the conclusion is that a cell, or more, is on their way to the US. And according to a general mood, it was concluded that summers are better for Jihadists to attack.
But if the reader would re-read those five points he/she may ask many troubling questions. I have the following ones:
a. What if the footage of "Taliban graduation" aired by a TV network wasn't obtained and thus wasn't shown to the American public? Would it mean that the Taliban aren't graduating, or haven't been graduating since 2001 or even before? Will that mean that there were no Jihadist graduates already heading to the West? Does it mean that this is the "only" graduation by the Taliban, other Jihadists around the world? Did we have to "see" that particular footage to "learn" that a Jihadi machine is producing "graduates" as we speak, even if they are not featured on ABC or al Jazeera?
b. What if the Pastor hasn't met with the al Qaeda representative? Would that meant that the Jihadists weren't marching and aren't willing to strike deep inside the West? With great sympathies to the cleric, who should be thanked for reporting, but was that a "new" revelation? We have the leaders of al Qaeda informing us every few months on al Jazeera and online, and a daily wave of chat rooms statements enlightening us on the "blessed strike to come." Why aren't we taking that seriously until a "personal story" occurs somewhere? Don't we know that there is a standing order by al Qaeda to strike when and where possible?
c. Did we have to wait for the British Jihadis to load two Mercedes and one Jeep and target a nightclub and an airport to "learn" that this is a possible tactic? Is this scenario that impossible to imagine and project? What did we learn from these tactics that we've already seen in the Sunni triangle in Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria and Afghanistan? That it could happen in England too? So are there advisors in the West who are telling Governments and the public on both sides of the Atlantic that there is no such thing as "Jihad;" that there is no "war on terror;" that "it is about socio-economics?" So what have we learned tactically from the UK failed "raids?" What is it that our imagination has failed to predict, since the 9/11 Commission has told us that we have a "failed imagination."
d. Then we learn about the discovery of 45 doctors who planned for a Jihad in Jacksonville against a US base. What did we really discover here? That doctors "can be" Jihadists? Weren't we listening to "Doctor" Ayman Zawahiri for years and many other "doctors" in the region threatening with Terror? Haven't we seen in the 20th century’s darkest moments "Nazi doctors" involved in one of the most horrific genocides of all times? Or were we surprised by the fact that Jihadists were planning on attacking a US base in the US homeland? Didn't we analyze enough the Fort Dix guys who were planning a similar attack on American soil against an Army base few weeks ago? Weren't the two Georgia young Jihadis, arrested last year, planning on striking at US military installations across the nation? In short, is that shocking to "learn" that the Jihadis are targeting our national defense?
e. Last but not least, we are supposing that "al Qaeda likes to attack in the summer." So, should we discount attacks in the fall, winter and spring?
I am not being sarcastic here but there is something strange about how we proceed in analyzing the Jihadi war against democracies and America, and how we break news to the public. On the one hand, the overwhelming majority of the academic elite, many in the political establishment and most of the mainstream media are desperately trying to demobilize their audiences by claiming that all what we see "is just a mirage." And on the other hand, the same media tells us that al Qaeda could be "attacking us this summer" because of a graduation, a Pastor's report, tactics we learned from London, doctors-turned-Jihadis, and summer times. With all these ingredients, the debate on Terrorism seems to be swinging between total denials on the one hand and blurry vision on the other hand.
This summer and any other summer, and all other seasons by the way, are Jihadi times. We need to adapt to this reality for as long as this conflict is on. For al Qaeda and its allies, as well as the Khomeinists are on the path of war. And when they are in that mode, nothing should surprise us.
* Al Qaeda has already established cells in the UK, the US and the West. If there is an "additional" cell coming this way, we would certainly be happier if the Government would have detected it, and will stop it. But it would be misleading the public to state that al Qaeda's second cell ever to infiltrate the country (after Mohammed Atta's in 2001) is "now" heading to our shores.
* The intention to penetrate our systems and to strike is as old as the Jihadi war against the West (that would be at least since the early 1990s). An al Qaeda representative in Iraq is not serving us with news if he "reveals" that the group will be spilling blood soon.
* Arresting the Terror-doctors is a positive development, but we shouldn't be in shock and awe about it. Our analysts and public educators should have (and some have) informed the public of the deep penetration that has been taken place within liberal democracies. We should learn form the infiltration of this particular segment of the medical field to preempt the penetration of other sectors, and of other fields as well. We should project that the Jihadists have infiltrated the engineering, computer, banking, security and other fields.
* Zawahiri's orders to strike inside the West and within the realm of moderate Arabs and Muslims are al Qaeda standing orders at least since 2001. His additional statements are reminders of what has already been a war waged at will and is taking place as its perpetrators are acquiring means and targets.
* Yes, it may be true that, statistically, most al Qaeda known attacks have taken place in the West between July and September, with the exception of Madrid's March 11, but there is no "Jihadi summer time." If and when these "forces" would acquire targets and circumstances, they will most likely wait for warmer months to strike.
So, if indeed evidence is gathering that al Qaeda is preparing for a series of attacks in the US in the next weeks and months, then it is important to inform and ready the public for it. But the media -and their sources- must help their audiences put the information in context. There is a Jihadi war on liberal democracies including America, and a US-led campaign on Terror. The learning and educational processes must be set in this general direction not in terms of an out-of-context sensationalism. For it would have been out of line if in 1942, spokespersons and reporters in Allied nations would have been announcing that "unidentified planes with Swastikas on their wings were dropping what we think could be bombs on European cities."
Dr Walid Phares is the Director of Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a visiting fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy. He is the author of The War of Ideas: Jihadism against Democracy.
July 11, 2007

Lebanon's Bloody Summer
Mohamad Bazzi

The Nation/article | posted July 10, 2007 (web only)
The car bomb that shook Beirut's waterfront on the evening of June 13 was the sixth explosion in Lebanon in less than a month. But unlike the other bombings, which were intended more to instill fear than to cause serious damage, this one had a political target: Walid Eido, a member of the US-backed parliamentary majority. With the killing of one more legislator--the fifth in two years--Lebanon is hurtling toward yet another crisis.
The bomb, which was planted in a parked car, ripped through Eido's black Mercedes as his motorcade left a swimming club where he played cards with friends almost every afternoon. The explosion resonated throughout Beirut, shattering windows 100 yards away and throwing body parts onto a nearby soccer field. It killed Eido, his son and eight other people. Within minutes, ambulances filled the Corniche, a palm-tree-lined boulevard that overlooks the Mediterranean and is often packed with people out for an evening stroll.
As soon as the bomb went off, dozens of young men rushed to the scene, and soldiers had to push them back from the burning cars. They gathered around two fire trucks, picking through twisted wreckage. Naim Chebbo, a 33-year-old waiter, ran for a half-mile from his restaurant, following the cloud of black smoke. Drenched in sweat and hyperventilating, he screamed, "Look at what the Syrians are doing to us! Don't ask me why this bombing happened. Ask the Syrians!" He pointed up a hill, toward the headquarters of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. "I'm going to get the SSNP. I'm going to fuck them up!" he shrieked. "They're just sitting up there laughing." His friends restrained him from marching up the hill.

When Chebbo began insulting Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah--leader of Hezbollah, the Shiite political party and militia allied with Syria--calling him a "terrorist" and a "criminal," a bystander told Chebbo to keep quiet. The two began shoving each other, and a dozen soldiers toting M-16s moved between them, at one point cocking their guns to shoot into the air. Soldiers finally managed to wrestle Chebbo away, and he walked off, still cursing.

This is the state of Lebanon today: deep sectarian anger that could boil over at any moment. In mixed Beirut neighborhoods, tensions rise between Sunnis and Shiites after each bombing. Tempers flare, small fights get out of hand, people start calling their friends and relatives to come in from other areas to help them and eventually the police have to step in. (A Shiite friend who lives in a mainly Sunni neighborhood told me that for several days after Eido's killing, he found a broken egg each morning on his car.) And there's no shortage of bombings to stoke tensions: On June 24 a car bomb exploded near a convoy of United Nations peacekeepers in southern Lebanon, killing six troops under Spanish command. It was the first attack on the UN force since it was expanded to 13,000 soldiers after last summer's war between Israel and Hezbollah. Some Lebanese politicians quickly blamed Syria for the bombing, but there is also evidence that Sunni militants tied to Al Qaeda have been plotting for months to attack UN peacekeepers in the south.

Throughout Lebanon's fifteen-year civil war, foreign powers battled for control of the tiny country, either directly or through proxies. But a great deal of the day-to-day fighting involved well-armed rival neighborhood gangs. In a city on edge, angry young men like Chebbo can easily get out of control. Perhaps at the next bombing, they won't be held back.

"The elements for a new civil war are here. They are ready. But there are some red lines that prevent it from happening. We saw an example in January, when sectarian violence broke out but the national leaders quickly asked everyone to calm down," says Elias Hanna, a retired Lebanese army general who is now an independent military analyst. "You need an incident or catalyst that can ignite the situation. It's not yet here. But people's hearts are full of hatred."
'Everything Is Blowing Up'

Lebanon's current round of assassinations began in February 2005, when a powerful truck bomb killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri as his motorcade drove along the Corniche. Hariri's murder cast a harsh light on Syria's domination over its smaller neighbor. Faced with international pressure and mass protests, the Syrian-backed prime minister resigned, and Damascus pulled thousands of troops out of Lebanon. But the killings continued, mainly targeting politicians from the anti-Syrian bloc led by Rafik's son Saad Hariri.

Today Lebanon is bracing for a showdown over the presidency. It could be a bloody summer, as the presidential election looms in late September. The president is appointed by a majority vote in Parliament. After the last parliamentary election, in June 2005, Hariri's Future Movement and its allies won seventy-two seats in the 128-member legislature. But with several defections, Eido's killing and that of another legislator last November whose seat remains unfilled, the parliamentary majority is down to sixty-eight. If the majority loses another four members--either by death or defection--it will no longer be able to determine the next president. "Eido was assassinated to reduce the parliamentary majority in order to bring the government down," Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces, a right-wing Christian group that is part of the ruling coalition, said after the bombing. "It seems that we're the opposition because we're the ones being targeted by assassinations."

There's another danger: Without a majority, it's conceivable that Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's government could fall in a parliamentary no-confidence vote. Siniora's twenty-four-member Cabinet has been in danger of collapsing since November, when six ministers representing Hezbollah and its allies resigned after talks to form a national unity government failed. (Siniora's ruling coalition of Sunni, Christian and Druse parties accuses Hezbollah of walking out of the government to block a UN investigation into Hariri's murder, which has been widely blamed on Syria.)

Hariri was Lebanon's most prominent Sunni leader, and his killing changed the dynamic within the Sunni community. During Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war, Sunnis and Shiites were largely allied under the banner of pan-Arabism and support for the Palestinian cause. But the current conflict has fractured them, with most Shiites supporting Hezbollah and most Sunnis backing the younger Hariri. Christians are divided between the two factions. Hezbollah is currently allied with Michel Aoun, a former army commander and prominent Maronite Christian politician.

Syria is likely the biggest beneficiary of these political killings. But the coming showdown over the presidency could prove catastrophic for all sides. And there doesn't appear to be any way out. All of Lebanon's crises have become intertwined--and they're all converging on the battle over the presidency. Ironically, the latest series of crises began in September 2004, when the Syrian regime forced the Lebanese Parliament to extend the presidential term of Emile Lahoud, a former army commander and Syrian ally, for three years.

Lebanon's problems are rooted in a sixty-four-year-old power-sharing agreement among the country's rival religious groups. The system was designed to keep a balance among eighteen sects, dictating that power must be shared between a Maronite president, a Sunni prime minister and a Shiite speaker of Parliament. But this confessional system has barely changed since it was put in place in the early 1940s, when Lebanon won its independence from French colonial rule. After decades of intermittent crises precipitated by the unworkable confessional balancing act, the structure again risks creating a failed state.

The Lebanese predicament is also an extension of the ongoing proxy war in Iraq--pitting Iran and Syria (which support Hezbollah) against the United States, Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab regimes (which support Hariri's alliance). As soon as Siniora's government took office, the Bush Administration began pressuring it to disarm Hezbollah.

The crises are interconnected in a Gordian knot: the Hezbollah-led Shiite walkout from Siniora's Cabinet, which throws the government's legitimacy into question because the Lebanese Constitution dictates that every major sect must be represented in the Cabinet; the creation of a new government; the pressure on Hezbollah to give up its weapons; and the disarming of various factions in twelve Palestinian refugee camps scattered across Lebanon. The issue of Palestinian weapons boiled over in late May, when a group of Sunni militants attacked the Lebanese Army, which then besieged the Nahr El-Bared camp near the northern city of Tripoli.

Siniora's government claims that Syrian intelligence created the militant group Fatah Al Islam and is using it to destabilize Lebanon. But as with the attempt to hold Syria responsible for the bombing against UN peacekeepers, the ruling coalition has provided little evidence to back up its claims about Fatah Al Islam. Some reports in the Lebanese press tied the group's leaders to Al Qaeda and to militant networks that are recruiting young Sunni men from northern Lebanon to fight in Iraq. It's unclear if Fatah Al Islam played a role in the attack on UN troops in the south, but the group is part of a growing militant Sunni movement in Lebanon, which is drawing inspiration--if not logistical help--from Al Qaeda. (In several messages over the past year, Al Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, urged Muslims to open a new front on Israel's border with Lebanon and to attack "Crusader forces" in the south--meaning UN troops.)

"All the problems that were suppressed for thirty years are popping up, and they're all popping up at the same time," says a Lebanese NGO worker who could not be quoted by name. "The Hezbollah weapons, the Palestinian weapons, the presidency; I mean everything, everything is now blowing up. It's thirty years of bullshit. The Pandora's box has opened up."

'The Blood of Sunnis Is Boiling'
When Hezbollah and its allies began an open-ended protest in downtown Beirut on December 1, setting up hundreds of tents outside the main government palace, relations between Sunnis and Shiites deteriorated quickly. On January 23 the opposition organized a nationwide strike as part of its campaign to topple Siniora's government. Two days later, rioting erupted around a university, killing four people, injuring dozens and forcing the army to impose a curfew in Beirut for the first time in ten years. Lebanon teetered on the edge of another civil war.

In the following months, sectarian tensions eased slightly--until Eido's assassination, which further inflamed the hatred between Sunnis and Shiites. The funeral procession on June 14 for Eido and his son passed through the Sunni neighborhood of Tarik Al-Jadideh, the scene of January's bloody street battles. Overnight, billboards throughout Beirut were plastered with pictures of the two men, calling them "the martyrs of justice." Hundreds of supporters carried the blue flags of the Future Movement and white flags with a stencil of a roaring tiger--the logo of the Ras Beirut Tigers, the movement's pseudo-militia, which has become more active in Sunni neighborhoods in recent months. At this point, the Tigers lack an organized military structure and weapons; instead, they're focused on showing their strength at rallies and on the streets of Muslim-dominated West Beirut.

"The blood of Sunnis is boiling!" a crowd of young men shouted as they marched behind the coffins. "Terrorist, terrorist, Hezbollah is a terrorist group!" Koranic verses warbled from the minarets of every mosque along the route, mixing with the loudspeakers mounted atop minibuses that blared out, "Today is the funeral for a new martyr killed at the hands of Bashar Assad"--the Syrian president. Other mourners insulted Hezbollah's revered leader, chanting, "Nasrallah is the enemy of God!"
After Saad Hariri spoke at the funeral, his supporters pumped their fists in the air and bellowed, "Labayk ya Saad-Eddine!" (We obey you, oh Saad-Eddine). It's the same rhythmic chant--freighted with religious overtones--that Nasrallah's followers intone whenever he speaks in public.

At Eido's funeral, the next Lebanese political crisis began to emerge. Within hours of his assassination, members of the Future Movement started calling for a special election to replace Eido, and another to fill the seat of Pierre Gemayel, a Maronite member of Parliament and minister allied with the Hariri bloc who was assassinated last November. Two days after Eido was buried, Siniora's Cabinet approved a plan to hold elections on August 5. But special elections also need the president's consent, and Lahoud has vowed not to sign any directive issued by Siniora's government because he "and half of the Lebanese people" consider it unconstitutional.
Even if the elections are held, it's unclear if the two new legislators would be allowed to take their seats in Parliament. Speaker Nabih Berri, leader of the Shiite Amal Party and a Hezbollah ally, has refused to convene Parliament ever since the Shiite ministers resigned in November. For months, Berri blocked the legislature from approving a UN Security Council plan to establish an international tribunal that will try Hariri's killers. In late May the council created the tribunal anyway--without Lebanese approval. (With the vote for president looming, the Future Movement and its allies have threatened to convene a parliamentary session without Berri; opposition legislators would likely boycott such a meeting.)

On June 17 Lahoud met with the octogenarian Maronite Patriarch Butros Nasrallah Sfeir, the most powerful Christian leader in Lebanon. Lahoud told the cleric that he's not being obstinate for his own sake but rather is trying to protect the powers of the presidency. Lahoud's argument is meant to appeal to the Patriarch and to Lebanese Maronites in general, who are worried about the waning power of the presidency--the last vestige of Christian influence. "Siniora and his government are trying to usurp the authority of the president, and that is a dangerous precedent that I cannot allow," Lahoud told Sfeir, according to the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar. "These powers do not belong to me personally. They belong to the presidency."

In the short term, Siniora's government began losing Shiite support after Washington backed Israel during its war last summer against Hezbollah. Fresh off its perceived military victory against a far superior Israeli Army, Hezbollah accused Siniora's government of being a US puppet and demanded more power. After months of on-and-off negotiations, Hezbollah and the Siniora-Hariri bloc now stand at an impasse.

But even if the two sides reach a compromise, another political crisis is sure to emerge, unless they address the root causes of Lebanon's instability--like the fact that the country's largest sect, Shiites, do not have power equal to their proportion of the population. Eventually, the Lebanese will have to tackle the question of what kind of country they want.

That question has dominated Lebanon since it gained independence in 1943. When the French left, they created the confessional system and handed the lion's share of political power to the Francophone Maronite elite. The system was enshrined under the National Pact, an unwritten agreement among Lebanese leaders. Seats in Parliament were divided on a 6-to-5 ratio of Christians to Muslims, with parliamentary seats and executive offices divided among the major sects, and that partitioning was extended to most government jobs.

The division was based on a 1932 census, which showed Maronites as the majority in Lebanon. Since then, the government has refused to hold a new census. By the 1960s, when Muslims began to outnumber Christians, Muslims began to clamor for a change in the balance of power. A recent State Department report estimated that Lebanon's population of 4 million is more than two-thirds Sunni and Shiite. Some Lebanese researchers estimate that Shiites make up 40 percent of the population, although others put the number slightly lower.

When civil war broke out in 1975, the political imbalance was one of the driving forces that prompted each sect to form its own militia. Because of the confessional system, Lebanese political institutions never got a chance to develop; the country remained dependent on the powerful clans and feudal landlords that held sway in much of Lebanon. The zaeem, or confessional leader who usually inherited rule from his father, became paramount during the war. With most people loyal to their sectarian leaders, few Lebanese were invested in developing the constitutional institutions of the state.

As the war waned in 1989, Lebanon's political class convened in the Saudi city of Taif to salvage the sectarian system. Brokered by Saudi Arabia and Syria, the resulting Taif Accord restructured the National Pact by taking some power away from the Maronites. Parliament was expanded to 128 members, divided equally between Christians and Muslims. Taif also called for all militias to disarm--except for Hezbollah, whose military branch was labeled a "national resistance" against the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, which ended in 2000. All factions in Lebanon constantly affirm that they will abide by Taif, elevating the document to the status of a Magna Carta. Yet few acknowledge that the agreement also called for eventually abolishing the sectarian system, although it gave no time frame for doing so.
Confessionalism leads to a weak state. It encourages horse-trading and alliances with powerful patrons. And it's easily exploited by outside powers (Syria, Iran, the United States and Saudi Arabia being the latest examples). But most of the current players are too invested in this system to really change it. And foreign patrons don't want change, because that could reduce their influence.

"Whenever you talk about a new Taif, people freak out.... Lebanese are always afraid of changing any social contract," says Khalil Gebara, co-director of the Lebanese Transparency Association, an anticorruption watchdog group. "Because the problem is that, in Lebanon, social contracts are changed only in times of violence."
What if the battle over the presidency continues past September, and the country is further paralyzed? There's a real fear that the Lebanese government could once again split into two dueling administrations, as happened in 1988, when outgoing President Amin Gemayel appointed Aoun as a caretaker prime minister because Parliament could not agree on a new president. He created a largely Christian government, while the sitting Sunni prime minister refused to leave and led a rival Muslim administration. The crisis ended in October 1990, when Syrian warplanes bombed the presidential palace, driving Aoun into exile in France. It's remarkable how many Lebanese are talking openly today about the possibility of another government breakup; some are even resigned to it.

Splitting the country into two administrations in 1988 was a logical endpoint of the confessional system. Lebanese leaders are going down the same path once again: They're trying to run the country under a system that's no longer viable and that continues to create a perpetual crisis. Until the Lebanese can agree on a stronger and more egalitarian way to share authority, they will be cursed with instability, their future dictated by foreign powers.

Christian Persecution
"So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly,I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." (Mark 11: 22-24)
Prayers for July 10, 2007
From The Voice of the Martyrs
MALAYSIA MALAYSIA – Christians Face Persecution – VOM Sources
The Voice of the Martyrs’ contacts in Malaysia have received information that they are being investigated by Malaysian police for sharing the gospel with Muslims. VOM sources reported, “An individual in one of the villages where we have led many Muslims to Jesus reported us to the police. The police have interrogated a family living in the house we have ministered in and have collected evidence against us. It is not clear how many new believers in the area are being persecuted.” Pray God protects Christians in Malaysia and strengthens the faith of new believers. Ask him to draw more Muslims into fellowship with Him as a result of what has happened. 2 Timothy 1:7, Philippians 4:6-7
IRAN IRAN – Increased Persecution against Christians – VOM Sources
The Voice of the Martyrs’ contacts in Iran report increased persecution for Christians in Iran. Several Christians have been imprisoned, interrogated and threatened. VOM sources said, “Iranian security forces prompted by the Islamic leadership and Iranian president are trying to wipe out Christianity in Iran. They are angry many Iranian Muslims are choosing to follow Christ.” Pray God protects and sustains Christians in Iran. Ask God to use the testimonies of those being persecuted to draw nonbelievers into fellowship with Him 1 Peter 5:7, John 14:27
INDONESIA INDONESIA – Imprisoned Christians Charged – VOM Sources
More than 40 Christian leaders imprisoned in April, after a video recording of them praying for Muslims was leaked to Islamic organizations, have been charged under Article 156 KUPH. Under article 156 and 156a, “anyone who expresses hatred, opposition or insults one individual or groups of Indonesian citizens in public, will be imprisoned four to five years, or fined 4,500 rupiah. Muslims claim Christians blasphemed the Koran by placing it on the floor and praying for millions of people deceived by it. The Islamic organizations consider the video’s content abusive and have released the video to the media. Among the imprisoned are parents of young children. Pray for those in prison and their families. Ask God to give them boldness and wisdom as they face these difficult challenges. Psalm 91, Isaiah 26:3
IRAQ IRAQ – Christian Killed by Militants in Baghdad – Compass Direct News
On June 12, Fouad Salim was killed by Muslim militants in Baghdad while leaving the police station where he worked. According to Compass Direct News, Salim’s family believes he was killed because he refused to convert to Islam. He had informed his family that anonymous people he believed to be Muslim militants had been threatening to kill him if he did not convert. Salim is survived by his wife and two children less than six years of age. Pray God comforts and protects Salim’s family. Pray those who persecute Christians will repent and accept Jesus Christ. Psalm 23, Romans 8:31