June 16/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 15,3-7. So to them he addressed this parable. What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance

Free Opinion
Damascus and Tehran's Wager on a Bargain Policy with Washington-By: Raghida Dergham. June 16/07
Arab Troops to Lebanon? By:
Walid Choucair.June 16/07
Will it be War or Peace in the Middle East this summer?
By: Patrick Seale. June 16/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for June 16/06/07
Hezbollah kidnaps & interrogates Lebanese Police-
Ya Libnan
Lebanon To Show Arab FMs Evidence Of Arms Smuggling From Syria To ...MEMRI
Booby trap kills 4 soldiers at Lebanon camp-Reuters
Bruising political battle looms after assassination of Lebanese ...International Herald Tribune
Lebanese Bid Eido Farewell-Naharnet
Saudi Doctor in Army Custody Says Abssi, Hureira Are Alive-Naharnet
US Warns Citizens Against Travel to Lebanon
Syria Claims Eido was Killed by Its Lebanese Opponents-Naharnet
Lebanon's Feet in the Quick Sand of Terror-Naharnet
Interior Minister Calls for election of Successors to Eido, Gemayel-Naharnet
Lebanese TV Broadcaster, Who Made Big Mess, Sued
Crisis in Lebanon Deepens-
Voice of America
Lebanon sinking in quicksand of terror-Gulf Times
Analysis - Lebanon, Syria and Security-Ya Libnan
Lebanon Mourners Blame Syria-
Wall Street Journal
UN Mideast envoy: Israeli attitude towards Syria changed-Ynetnews
Anti-Syrian Lawmaker Killed in Lebanon Blast; Hezbollah Suspected-NEWSPost India
Persian Ghosts-The Nation
'Hizbullah not rearming in s. Lebanon'-Jerusalem Post
A summer of war or peace?Gulf News
Mediator hopeful despite new heavy clashes at Nahr al-Bared-Daily Star
March 14 MP Walid Eido assassinated in Beirut bombing-Daily Star
Rizk refuses to withdraw slander case against New TV-Daily Star
Damascus denies UN report of arms crossing into Lebanon-Daily Star
Pro-government politicians call for dialogue to break political impasse-Daily Star
Makhzoumi: Leaving army on its own fuels divisions-Daily Star
2007 State Department report on human trafficking in Lebanon-Daily Star
Phillipines prepares mass evacuation-Daily Star
Fighting in North too close for comfort for Minyeh residents-Daily Star
Human Rights Watch flays treatment of Palestinians-Daily Star
Qabbani blasts militants taking cover in mosques-Daily Star
Fatah al-Islam planned to assassinate Siniora, Jumblatt-Daily Star

Hezbollah kidnaps & interrogates Lebanese Police
Friday, 15 June, 2007 @ 4:14 PM
Beirut, Lebanon - Hizbullah gunmen kidnapped three policemen in south Beirut Friday, stripped them of their weapons, interrogated them and then set them free.
A ranking police officer said the police patrol was trying to settle a quarrel between a number of people in the Hadi Nasrallah avenue of south Beirut, which is a Hizbullah stronghold. "All of a sudden armed Hizbullah elements besieged the patrol, stripped the officers of their weapons and took them to a Hizbullah office in the area," said the officer. "The police officers were interrogated by Hizbullah members who set them free later after contacts between Lebanese officials and the party's leadership," he added. The officer said Hizbullah gunmen accused the three of "entering Hizbullah's secured square" in south Beirut which is off limits for Lebanese troops and security forces.The so-called secured square in south Beirut houses Hizbullah's main facilities.
Source: Naharnet

Public Statement
AI Index: MDE 18/008/2007 (Public)
News Service No: 111
15 June 2007
Lebanon: Amnesty International condemns murder of parliamentarian and other civilians
Amnesty International condemns the murder on 13 June 2007 of Lebanese parliamentarian Walid Eido, and nine other people, as a result of a car bomb attack in the al-Manara area of Beirut. Walid Eido was killed together with his elder son and two bodyguards who were travelling with him. Six other people who were in the vicinity when the car bomb was detonated were also killed and at least 11 were reported injured.
Amnesty International condemns deliberate attacks on civilians and calls for all such attacks to be investigated, promptly and thoroughly, and for those responsible to be brought to justice in accordance with international standards.
The attack which killed Walid Eido was the latest in a series of attacks on Lebanese politicians and journalists considered to be strong critics of the Syrian government. It also follows a spate of other bomb explosions in and around Beirut in recent weeks that appear calculated to cause political instability, in which a number of civilians have been killed and injured. These have been blamed on the Syrian government and its intelligence agents by Lebanese government authorities, but little evidence has been produced as yet to substantiate this. For its part, the Syrian government has denied any involvement in attack which killed Walid Eido and others. At least 12 people have been killed and scores have been injured as a result of explosions in Beirut since 20 May 2007.
As a member of parliament representing the Future Movement led by Saad al-Hariri, Walid Eido, 65, was a strong critic of the Syrian government. He was one of the principal leaders of the mass demonstrations that were held in Lebanon following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, also in a car bomb explosion, on 14 February 2005. That explosion killed 22 people in addition to the former prime minister. It led to mass protests resulting in the withdrawal of Syrian military forces, who had exercised strong influence in Lebanon for the previous 30 years, in April 2005. It resulted also in a UN-sponsored international investigation, the arrest of several senior Lebanese security officials, and the establishment of a joint Lebanese-international criminal tribunal to try those accused in connection with the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri and other similar attacks. This joint Lebanese-international tribunal is now being established in pursuance of a resolution adopted by the UN Security Council on 30 May 2007. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has reportedly requested that the UN-sponsored investigation into the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri should also now investigate the assassination of Walid Eido.
The assassination of Walid Eido comes at a time of mounting tension in Lebanon. As well as the series of bomb explosions in and around Beirut, since 20 May the Lebanese army has been engaged in a continuing battle with members of Fatah al-Islam, an Islamist armed group, at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli. At least 130 people have been killed as a result of the fighting at Nahr al-Bared, including at least 27 civilians, and more than 20,000 Palestinian refugees have been forcibly displaced from the camp and are now sheltering at al-Beddawi, another Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli, and elsewhere. Several thousand civilians, however, are reported to remain in the camp and to be in peril due to the fighting and lack of water, electricity and food.
In the months following the February 2005 killing of Rafik al-Hariri, several other Lebanese politicians and journalists known to be strong critics of the Syrian government, and of any continuing Syrian military or political presence in Lebanon, were killed or injured as a result of assassination attempts. They included Samir Kassir, a prominent journalist, who was killed by a car bomb in June 2005; Gibran Tueni, another leading journalist and parliamentarian who was killed by a car bomb in December 2005; and Pierre Gemayel, Lebanon’s Industry Minister, who was assassinated by unknown gunmen in November 2006.
East Mediterranean Team
Amnesty International, International Secretariat
Peter Benenson House, 1 Easton Street
London WC1X 0DW
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7413 5500
Fax: +44 (0)20 7413 5719

Booby trap kills 4 soldiers at Lebanon camp
Fri Jun 15, 2007
By Nazih Siqqid
NAHR AL-BARED, Lebanon (Reuters) - Four Lebanese soldiers were killed on Friday by an explosion in a building booby trapped by Islamist militants at a Palestinian camp in north Lebanon, security sources said. Six more soldiers were wounded, one seriously, by the blast at the Nahr al-Bared camp, where the army has been fighting the al Qaeda-inspired Fatah al-Islam group for nearly four weeks. The fighting is Lebanon's worst internal violence since the 1975-1990 civil war, killing at least 148 people, including 66 soldiers, more than 50 militants and 32 civilians. The violence has forced thousands of people to flee the camp.
Shell explosions and sporadic bursts of machinegun fire were heard at the camp -- base to the Fatah al-Islam group which is led by a Palestinian but includes fighters from other Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon. The army has been fighting in the outskirts of the camp but has not entered its official boundaries. Lebanese security forces are not allowed to enter the 12 Palestinian camps in Lebanon under a 1969 Arab agreement.
The Lebanese army wants the militants to surrender unconditionally and face justice for attacking and killing its troops. Fatah al-Islam says it is fighting in self-defence and has vowed to fight to the death. Most of the camp's 40,000 residents fled to the nearby Beddawi camp in the early days of the fighting, which erupted on May 20.
Fatah al-Islam emerged late last year after its leader, Shaker al-Abssi, and some 200 fighters split from the pro-Syrian Palestinian faction Fatah al-Intifada (Uprising).
Members of Lebanon's Western-backed government link Fatah al-Islam to Syrian intelligence, although both the group and Damascus deny any links.
Fatah al-Islam's stated goals are to spread its vision of Sunni Islam among Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and to fight Israel and the United States. The group has little support among the Palestinian community. (Additional reporting by Nadim Ladki in Beirut)

Lebanese Bid Eido Farewell
Lebanon observed a Day of National Mourning Thursday as angry mourners chanted anti-Syrian cries at the funeral of legislator Walid Eido who was killed in a massive car bomb the day earlier.
Before noon Thursday, the bodies of Eido, his son and a bodyguard were taken in ambulances, covered with Lebanese flags, from the American University Hospital in West Beirut to the Verdun neighborhood where the slain politician lived.
The funeral procession went through the main thoroughfare of Corniche Mazraa, where pictures of the slain politician were posted on walls and overpasses.
The 65-year judge and Beirut MP, his eldest son, Khaled, and a bodyguard were buried at the Shohada Cemetery several kilometers away after a prayer service at the Khashikji mosque.
Saad Hariri, leader of the anti-Syrian majority bloc in parliament to which Eido belonged to, Druze leader Walid Jumblat and other prominent anti-Syrian leaders marched behind the ambulances along with hundreds of people, with the crowds swelling as the procession went on.
Thousands of mourners gathered on the streets, carrying flags of the Hariri Future movement and shouting the Islamic cry "There is no God but Allah."
"With our soul, with our blood we shall redeem you Saad," chanted the mourners, many waving banners of Hariri and Eido's Future Movement.
"Beirut wants revenge on (pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile) Lahoud and (Syrian President) Bashar (Assad)," cried the mourners marching behind ambulances carrying the coffins of Eido, Khaled and one of two bodyguards who were killed with him.
Another bodyguard and six other people were also killed in the explosion near the Sporting Club swimming center where Eido and his son were swimming.
Eido and his son had just left the facility when the bomb went off Wednesday at 5:40 pm, hurling them into the Nejmeh Sporting Club some 20 meters from the explosion site. The fatalities included two players from Nejmeh that has become the most fan-supported Football club in Lebanon, and four other passers-by.
Eleven other people were wounded in the seafront bombing. Local media said the car was rigged with 80 kilograms of explosives and detonated by remote control.
Prime Minister Fouad Saniora, who declared Thursday a Day of National Mourning for Eido, called for an extraordinary meeting of Arab foreign ministers to discuss Eido's murder. Businesses, banks as well as public and private schools and universities across Lebanon were closed Thursday to observe this day of mourning.(Naharnet-AP-AFP) Beirut, 14 Jun 07, 07:13

Saudi Doctor in Army Custody Says Abssi, Hureira Are Alive
A Saudi doctor who was handed over to the Lebanese army after surrendering to the mainstream Fatah faction said Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker Abssi and his military commander Abu Hureira were still alive. A Palestinian official, who identified the doctor as Omar Abu Merssi, said the physician had treated Abssi and Abu Hureira from non-fatal injuries they suffered during the gunbattles. He did not reveal the nature of the wounds, but Abu Merssi said both men were still alive.
Lebanese army officials refused to comment on the report. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement handed Abu Merssi over to the Lebanese army Thursday, the official said. He said the Saudi doctor came to Lebanon two months ago to participate "in liberating Jerusalem."
The official said Abu Merssi had been treating members and officials of the al-Qaida inspired Fatah al-Islam group that has been fighting Lebanese troops since May 20 in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp near the northern city of Tripoli. Al-Abssi is a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, while Abu Hureira is a Lebanese citizen whose real name is Shehab al-Qaddour. Fatah al-Islam is known to include members from several other countries as well, including Saudi Arabia and Syria.
Later Thursday, heavy clashes were reported around Nahr al-Bared as the army advanced toward Fatah al-Islam positions, the state-run National News Agency said.
Also Thursday, the army announced in a statement that troops captured a large Fatah al-Islam arsenal near Nahr al-Bared.
Meanwhile, a prominent Palestinian official indicated Thursday that a Palestinian force could be deployed in the camp to end the fighting that has claimed the lives of more than 130 people. "The coming days will bring a solution in which a joint Palestinian force will be deployed in order to stop the bloodshed," Sultan Abul Aynein, head of Fatah in Lebanon, said in remarks carried by NNA.
He added that "we are working night and day to guarantee a solution to close this wound that harmed Lebanon and Palestine together."
Palestinian officials have been holding almost daily talks with Lebanese politicians in an attempt to find a political solution to the crisis. The Lebanese government has said there will be no solution before the militants surrender. Most of the estimated 30,000 residents of Nahr al-Bared have fled the camp since the fighting began, but the International Committee of the Red Cross has said that between 3,000 and 6,000 civilians remain behind. The fighting has so far left 63 soldiers and some 50 Fatah al-Islam militants dead.(Naharnet-AP) Beirut, 15 Jun 07, 09:29

Lebanese TV Broadcaster, Who Made Big Mess, Sued
NBN television broadcaster, Sawsan Safa Darwish -- who made an intolerable mistake when she didn't know she was on the air shortly after the bomb attack that killed Beirut MP Walid Eido – was sued, so was the TV station.
Sports and Youth Minister Ahmed Fatfat on Friday sued Darwish for "stirring sectarian hatred."
Darwish, a Lebanese newscaster for NBN, which is close to pro-Syrian House Speaker Nabih Berri, was heard saying: "Why were they late in killing him?," referring to Eido. Her name was not revealed. She then said "they're driving us crazy," apparently referring to other anti-Syrian politicians. "Ahmed Fatfat is left. I'm counting them," she added. The daily An Nahar put out a transcript of the conversation. NBN TV later said it "regretted the unintentional mistake" which it said did not reflect the station's policies or moral and professional standards. It said in a statement carried on the official news agency that it took full responsibility for what happened and that it had taken immediate measures against those responsible. Fatfat is a cabinet minister who has been one of the most outspoken critics of the opposition. He told Al-Arabiya TV Thursday he complained to Berri about the incident and planned to take the matter up with the judiciary. Despite repeated provocations, Lebanon has so far been spared another large scale sectarian conflict -- thanks to the efforts of rival political leaders, who urge restraint after every episode of violence.
Beirut, 15 Jun 07, 13:58

U.S. Warns Citizens Against Travel to Lebanon
The U.S. State Department has urged Americans to defer travel to Lebanon due to ongoing violence and a renewed threat from extremists against Western and Lebanese government interests. The Department said on Thursday that it remained concerned for the safety of U.S. citizens amid fighting at the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam. "The Department of State continues strongly to urge that Americans defer travel to Lebanon, and that American citizens in Lebanon consider carefully the risks of remaining," the travel warning said. "This warning alerts U.S. citizens to the renewed threat of attacks against western and Lebanese government interests by the extremist group Fatah al-Islam," it said.
Similar threats were also made by a-Qaida and the militant group Jund al-Sham, the Department added. It also noted that explosions have hit Beirut and its suburbs since May 20. "The possibility of related episodes of violence in popular districts of Beirut and other tourist areas in Lebanon remains high," it said.
The new travel warning, which replaces a December 22 bulletin, was issued a day after anti-Syrian MP Walid Eido, his son and eight other people were killed in a bombing in Beirut's seafront Manara district.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 15 Jun 07, 07:38

Lebanese Army Detains Militant Medic, Seizes Arms Cache
Lebanese troops on Thursday scored major advances in their battle against besieged terrorists at the northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared, seizing an arms cache and detaining one of the militants' medics. Amid intermittent gunbattles, the army detained Palestinian doctor Omar Abu Merssi after he surrendered to a checkpoint outside Nahr al-Bared, Lebanese security sources said. A Palestinian source said the doctor had first handed himself over to the mainstream Fatah movement inside the camp on Wednesday."The army was eager to take him in because it wants to know the whereabouts of the leader of the gang Shaker Abssi and his deputy Abu Hureira who have been reported to be wounded," the source said. A Special Forces unit earlier in the week destroyed the house of Abssi, leader of Fatah al-Islam -- a Sunni militia made up of Islamist extremists of various Arab nationalities which shares the ideology of al-Qaida.
Abssi was not in the house at the time, and his whereabouts remain unknown. An army statement said on Thursday that a large ammunition depot for Fatah al-Islam has been seized in Nahr al-Bared, "which proves that this terrorist gang has destructive objectives." It did not say when the discovery was made.
Sporadic gunfire continued to echo around Nahr al-Bared where the army has claimed advances in its siege of the Islamists.
"Fatah al-Islam's firepower has greatly diminished because of troop advances over the past two days along the seafront toward Fatah al-Islam positions," an army officer said. A total of 130 people have been killed in the clashes, including 63 soldiers and 50 Fatah al-Islam fighters since fighting broke out in the camp and the nearby port of Tripoli May 20.(Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 14 Jun 07, 20:09

Lebanon's Feet in the Quick Sand of Terror

Lebanon appears to be sinking in the quicksand of terror, with yet another prominent anti-Syrian figure assassinated in the capital while fierce battles with Islamist extremists rage in the north. Walid Eido, an MP and vocal critic of Syria, became the third member of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority to be assassinated since 2005 when the government of Prime Minister Fouad Saniora assumed power. The latest killing comes amid a deadly showdown in northern Lebanon between the army and Fatah al-Islam terrorists, which has left 130 people dead since fighting broke out on May 20. Eido, killed in a seafront car bomb attack on Wednesday, was also the seventh anti-Syrian personality to be assassinated since former prime minister Rafik Hariri was blown up in Beirut in February 2005.
"(Lebanon) is today in the front line against terrorism which threatens the international community and Arab countries," said former president Amin Gemayel, whose lawmaker son Pierre was assassinated last year. And as in Iraq, political and financial support by Western and Arab countries for Saniora's government achieves nothing, he said. "Lebanon has a bitter experience with Arab countries that, despite their support, have not successfully confronted its vital problems."
Paralyzed by a grave seven-month political crisis fuelled by the Damascus and Tehran-backed opposition spearheaded by Hizbullah, Saniora is facing mushrooming instability threatening an already economically battered country. Coming from Iraq via Syria, and driven by a wave of violence unparalleled in the region, Islamist extremism appears to be gaining ground in Lebanon, a country already beset by deep sectarian and political divisions.
In addition to such threats, Lebanese faces the frustrated ambitions of its former power broker, Syria, which was forced to pull out its troops two months after Hariri's murder.
Washington and Lebanon's anti-Damascus parliamentary majority have pointed the finger at Syria over the latest assassination.
However, Damascus on Thursday condemned Eido's murder, saying it was an attack on the security and stability of its smaller neighbor.
"The Syrian regime must be punished," said Saad Hariri, son of the slain ex-premier. "It is exporting terrorism to Lebanon and Iraq," Hariri, who leads the parliamentary majority, told CNN. Saniora has called for an extraordinary Arab ministerial meeting in order for Damascus to "assume its responsibilities towards Lebanon." The murder will be on the agenda of a meeting by Arab foreign ministers in Cairo.
The Lebanese premier has also said a U.N. tribunal set up to try suspects in the Hariri killing should equally take up "this new crime".
But the mobilization of the international community faces the risk of being ill-timed.
In a recent article, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said an attempt to overthrow the Syrian regime, being called for by some Lebanese parties, makes Lebanon more vulnerable than ever. Members of Saniora's government acknowledge the extreme weaknesses of the country, whose institutions, save the army, have been paralyzed for a month. Adding to the already grave situation, MPs are calling for electing a new president, in principle, in September to replace the pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud, whose tenure expires in November. Analyst and journalist Michael Young spoke of "tough times ahead, and Lebanon's crises are nowhere near their end. "Syria's most powerful weapon is to block everything and bargain from a position of strength. But things tend to backfire with this Syrian regime," Young said.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 14 Jun 07, 17:51

Interior Minister Calls for election of Successors to Eido, Gemayel
Interior Minister Hassan Sabaa asked the government Thursday to issue a decree calling for the election of successors to assassinated Parliamentary Deputies Pierre Gemayel and Walid Eido. The state-run National News Agency (NNA) said Sabaa sent his request in a memo to the cabinet secretary general Suheil Bawji.
A cabinet source said Bawji would list the request on the agenda of Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government holding its regular weekly session.
The March 14 majority alliance called Wednesday, a few hours after Eido's assassination by a car bomb in Beirut, for elections to fill in his seat and that of Gemayel, who was shot dead last Nov. 21. Both crimes have been blamed on Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Damascus has denied the charges.
Gemayel, a Maronite, represented the Phalange Party in the 128-seat house.Eido, a Sunni, represented al-Moustaqbal Movement in Parliament.
Election of the two legislators, if approved, would be held in the Metin and Beirut constituencies. Beirut, 14 Jun 07, 19:25

Syria Claims Eido was Killed by Its Lebanese Opponents
Syria condemned on Thursday the murder in Beirut of an outspoken anti-Damascus Lebanese MP, blaming it on Syria's Lebanese opponents.
"Syria strongly condemns the criminal attack that cost the lives of (Parliamentary) Deputy Walid Eido and other people, as well as any act aiming to damage the security and stability of Lebanon," the foreign ministry said. "Those who profit from the series of crimes against Lebanese figures who are in disagreement with Syria, are carrying out a plot with hidden figures that is against both Lebanon and Syria," it added.(AFP) Beirut, 14 Jun 07, 11:51

Damascus and Tehran's Wager on a Bargain Policy with Washington
Raghida Dergham Al-Hayat - 15/06/07//
Some Middle Eastern regimes are betting on what can be described as great bargains. Part of their strategies is to prepare to conclude deals in order to avoid trials and investigations resulting from their violations of international resolutions and laws. Another part focuses on terrorism as a fundamental pillar of their strategies, as these regimes resort to political assassinations and pay mercenaries to destabilize more than one spot in the region. Another part consists of triggering wars to reach deals that guarantee that these regimes remain in power. A well-studied escalation is fundamental in all three cases; therefore, expectations are increasing of a hot summer in more than a country. The allies in the axis of escalation are pretending to be very much confident and are claiming they can play their cards firmly, calmly and resolutely. The truth is, however, that they are having these adventures with worn-out nerves and that their escalation will have a boomerang effect on them, as it will tie the rope of isolation around their necks. The fire raging among the Palestinians could lead to a meaningless 'victory' for the regimes feeding sedition and for Hamas, which has staged a bloody coup against the Palestinian Authority. In fact, winning the military battles in Gaza will kill its political future in the West Bank. In addition, the strategy of using the Palestinian elements in Lebanon is a great stab in the back of the Palestinians themselves, as both these elements and the people are the biggest losers.
The Palestinian militants serving as mercenaries for regimes and using the Palestinian Cause in a scandalous blackmail will pay a heavy price. Therefore - and unfortunately - the Palestinian people will incur one more time the costs of their desperate factions' adventures. This time Lebanon will not be the only ransom of this alliance of escalation because this alliance is simultaneously operating in Palestine and Iraq. Then, the winds of surprises could blow in a way that the ships of bargaining and bartering may not wish to face.
Everyone is closely observing the other and keeping hidden cards that may have a value and be used as mere instruments of dodging. There are now separated railroads for trains that have left the station and can no longer be controlled. Hence, there is increasing talk about potential rifts in the axes of the regimes and militias in Iran, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq. Also, increasingly people are saying "enough is enough" referring to how the axis of escalation is making too many miscalculations and having too many adventures.
Resuming political assassinations in Lebanon and targeting MP Walid Eido are part of a strategy aimed at liquidating the parliamentary majority by murdering one MP after another. President Emile Lahoud believes he is holding the keys of power by refusing to approve a decree calling for by-elections. Meanwhile, by preventing the election of new MPs to replace those assassinated, he is making a big mistake and is digging more and more the abyss into which he will fall. The trial is on the way, and all those contributing to the murders of Lebanese youths and leaders will be tried, no matter how high up and powerful they are.
The international tribunal was set up by a Security Council resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. This resulted from the losing bet of those who thought they had killed the tribunal simply by barring a Parliament meeting that should have concluded the treaty for the establishment of the tribunal, which has been signed by the UN and the Lebanese government and ratified by the Security Council. By-elections will be held in El-Metn and Beirut to elect two MPs to replace Pierre Gemayel and Walid Eido, killed by a despotic force thirsty for power. This will take place regardless of Lahoud and his allies's thinking that their perfect way of swimming would save them from drowning in the sea where they bypass legitimacy and ignore patriotism.
The efforts aimed at disrupting the presidential elections and making Lebanon slip into a constitutional vacuum will not remain unaccounted for. The Security Council is now directly responsible for investigating into the attempts of undermining its resolutions. Among these resolutions is the one No. 1559, which demanded that presidential elections be held according to the constitution and without any foreign interference and influence.
Practically speaking, failing to implement that article of Resolution 1559 makes Emile Lahoud an illegitimate president. As for intentionally hampering the electoral process, this is another effort that will be taken into account when his file is discussed in more than a place and more than an accusation are leveled at him. If the Lebanese president can read history properly and learn the lessons, he must think about those in the Arab region who ultimately made miscalculations. He must carefully examine the international tribunal prerogatives to try those suspected of being involved in the political assassinations in Lebanon, in particular of former PM Rafik Hariri and his companions and, finally, MP Walid Eido, his son and the other innocent victims accompanying them. The UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Nicholas Michel, made it clear that the subordinate is not the only responsible for terrorist murders, but that those in charge will be tried, as well, on crimes against humanity if the investigation establishes a premeditated pattern in linking a number of terrorist assassinations. The chief/ subordinate aspect, which is strongly opposed by Damascus and its allies in Lebanon, does not apply on one single subordinate and one single national president. This is the rhetoric of law, which is above individuals and posts, hence the panic and its upshot.
Panic has a local dimension inside Lebanon as well as an international one. As the battle in Lebanon has become clear to everyone under all its aspects, Hezbollah and parties of the like have to choose to whom they really belong and are loyal. This is the Lebanese army's battle against Palestinian and Arab and Islamic multi-national militias. If Hezbollah loves, belongs to and thinks like them, it will maintain its positions and all Lebanese will know the nature of this party as well as who it serves and is loyal to. On the contrary, it may take the strategic decision to be a Lebanese party serving its grass-root Lebanese basis and eager to protect the country's stability and prevent Lebanon from falling into the clutches of the terrorism that is being exported to it. If it did so, today this party's leadership would have a rare chance to surprise the Lebanese people. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has the opportunity to take the initiative, put the Lebanese army in the frontline of his considerations, express Hezbollah's readiness to voluntarily disarm in compliance with Resolution 1559, and join the army to protect Lebanon.
The Lebanese government has, for the first time, submitted reports of the Lebanese army to the UN. They prove with figures and dates Syria's involvement in the military reinforcements received by the terrorist Fatah al-Islam, which is fighting the Lebanese army and using Palestinian refugee camps for its military operations against the state hosting the refugees. These reports drew a horrific picture of the movement of weapons and armed elements and the re-armament of Palestinian and non-Palestinian militias inside Lebanon across Syrian-Lebanese borders.
Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN envoy tasked with following up on the implementation of Resolution 1559 had submitted the report to Security Council members during a closed-door session before the Lebanese government requested that the report be circulated as an official UN document.
In his report, Larsen unveiled information showing that arms, equipment, and armed personnel have been crossing through the Syrian-Lebanese borders "in violation of UN Resolutions 1559 and 1701," where the first resolution calls for the dismantling and disarming of the Lebanese and the non-Lebanese militias, "while the opposite is now taking place by the re-arming of the militias.", while Resolution 1701 imposed an arms embargo on Lebanon under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. Nevertheless, arms continue to flow across the Syrian borders "in violation" of the binding resolution.
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon seems unable to fully comprehend the significance of the Lebanese government's decision to submit the army's report to the UN, settling instead for his trademark statements, which he tends to repeat whenever there is a crisis, namely "I am concerned," and "My concerns are growing,", or "I am deeply concerned."
Instead, Ban Ki-Moon should have acted decisively and responsibly upon receiving the Lebanese government's report, which came only 30 hours before the assassination of MP Walid Eido, especially since he has been receiving a deluge of information tying the escalation in the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp and the onslaught of mercenary militia in Lebanon to the UN Security Council's decision to establish the international tribunal.
Ban Ki-Moon claims that he has received assurances and confirmations from the Syrian leadership during his visit to Damascus more than two months ago. However, these pledges continue to be under consideration and remain unimplemented till this day.
Therefore, the least that the UN secretary general should do inline of his political and moral obligations toward a nation being ravaged by assassinations and mercenary militias is to immediately demand the Syrian government's implementation of the international resolutions calling on it to put an end to the smuggling of arms, the arming of the militia, its evasion of the demarcation of the boarders, and to immediately accept the international surveillance of the lawless borders.
Instead of the language of drifting diplomacy along the lines of "All region's leaders must respect Resolution 1701," Ban Ki-Moon should resort to serious and earnest diplomacy and firmly approach Syria's President Bashar Assad, and Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and demand the immediate fulfillment of their pledges to him, declaring that he will not accept anything short of respect of the resolutions while at the same time candidly warning them of the consequences of failing to abide by these resolutions on their relationship with him in his capacity and the UN Secretary General.
It is unacceptable for the UN secretary general to continue with his silence especially that his envoy has submitted a report, warning of an imminent danger and detailing gross violations and breaches of resolutions, which Ban Ki-Moon is in charge of protecting and upholding today.
What adds salt to the injury is the fact that the spokesman of Ban Ki-Moon's office remained silent, giving no reaction for four full hours after the assassination of Walid Eido, which is an indication of either ignorance of the impact of delaying the reaction of the UN secretary general or of an unjustified excessive caution that has been dominating the mentalities of Ban Ki-Moon and his aides.
The danger of this attitude is that assassinations are coming back and Lebanon is being ravaged, while Ban Ki-Moon continues to over occupy himself with caution and with waiting for replies to his drifting diplomacy and its indecisive, far fetched demands.
Therefore, should the new secretary general fail to reconsider his position, he will be vulnerable to criticism and the questioning of his ethical and political leadership.
However, he still has opportunities other than those at the hands of the UN Security Council, especially since he is the author of the reports that will be submitted this month to the Security Council's mission to evaluate the surveillance of the Syrian-Lebanese borders and to verify the degree of commitment to Resolution 1701, which banns the flow of arms to anyone inside Lebanon apart from the Legitimate government.
Ban Ki-Moon also faces the responsibility of accelerating the transformation of the establishment of the international tribunal from a mere resolution to a reality, and to cut the timeline envisaged by the UN legal department for achieving this objective from the proposed year as this will lead to the saving of lives and to slightly immunize Lebanon against an escalation looming through external and internal wills, either in the form of more assassinations or the consolidation of the militia structures.
Ban Ki-Moon is fully capable of giving priority to finding a location for the international tribunal as soon as possible. The financial aspects of such a move don't appear to be the problem even though it is of great importance to the Secretariat General of the UN, also the appointment of the judges and the prosecution panel should not take months.
Should the court's location be settled on, then this period must be cut by half given the fact that funding does not pose a problem, and that Serge Brammertz, the head of the independent panel investigating the assassinations, had agreed to remain in his post until the end of the year; a time interval that could realistically be used to complete the arrangements for setting up the court.
In the meantime, the people of Lebanon should not pin hopes on the miracle of enacting the court within a month or even six months because the task is complicated and because the international tribunal is not a ready key but rather needs many arrangements. The tribunal is also not the only deterrent for the terrified against their pathetic escalatory adventures.
The Arab League Council is another key podium to shed light on what is being done to Lebanon, and who is behind it. Therefore, filing officially documented complaints with the Arab League Council is critically important as these complains and reports, will be used to indict those behind the escalation in Lebanon, whether external, neighboring, or internal forces including the Palestinian militia and the mercenaries and those funding or arming them in violation of the international resolutions.
These violations will lead to punitive measures and a political and economic isolation through new resolutions targeting Syria and Iran, who were demanded by resolutions under Chapter Seven of the UN charter to stop middling in Lebanon and using it as a battlefield for a proxy war serving the objectives of their regimes.
Damascus and Tehran might be tempted to believe that Washington's need for them in Iraq would force it to turn a blind eye on their violations in Palestinian and Lebanon as they back Hamas's onslaught against the Palestinian Authority.
They are, however, taking a great risk, not only because they misinterpret and underestimate Gorge Bush's resolve when it comes to Lebanon and his waning patience with them as they toss Lebanon back and froth like a ball while his secretary of state begs for their sincere cooperation in Iraq, but they are taking a risk because the Palestinian Authority holds in its hands the trump card of withdrawing from the national unity government and divorcing Hamas by offering it a chance for victory in Gaza, since it has a choice of taking a defeat and abandoning Gaza to Hamas while it focuses its efforts exclusively on the West Bank.
Should the Syrian and the Iranian regimes, be contemplating to once again resort to proxy wars in Lebanon and Palestine without paying the price and without being held accountable, then they are mistaken as they, along with their allies have become entangled in issues that go beyond politics and into the domain of law and the international tribunal, which permanently closes the doors before bargaining and tradeoffs.
For their demand of the US to provide guarantees for their survival in return for abandoning their partners or even abandoning each other is subject to the degree and extent of these regimes' involvement in terrorist assassinations, both in the past and those to come, as blackmail, too, enters the domain of surveillance and prosecution.

Arab Troops to Lebanon?
Walid Choucair Al-Hayat - 15/06/07//
Will the Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora's call for the Arab League (AL) to "bear its responsibilities for Lebanon", the Future Trend leader Saad Hariri's call for the AL to protect Lebanon, and the 14 March Forces call for the government to "file a complaint to the AL against the Syrian regime" lead the effective Arab countries to take fresh steps that promote them to another level of caring for the small country, to be effective in helping it resist and deter terrorism?
Is it just a coincidence to resort to Arab countries in response to the absence of a majority MP who has been known for being 100% Arabist and for being an Arab nationalist by nature regardless of politics and its games? Or is it ascribed to the tragic crime's coincidence with circumstances that may come up with a new Arab handling of the Lebanese situation?
The assassination of martyrs MP Walid Eido, his son Khaled, his bodyguards, and all innocent civilians in broad daylight two days ago means nothing but the ceiling of political, financial, economic, moral, international and Arab failure in the protection of a fragile and pierced - if not glassy -Lebanon.
Looking at that tragic crime from a wider perspective implies that it is complementary to the continuous bloody confrontation between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam organization in Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in north Lebanon since May 20, and also to the series of bombings that targeted several tourist, commercial and industrial areas in Lebanon over the last weeks. It also implies that all that has been said to the effect that the endorsement of the international tribunal on assassination of former PM Hariri and his colleagues as well as all related crimes according to the UN Security Council Resolution 1757 may deter the criminals from continuing the series of assassinations they started on October 1, 2004 when they attempted to assassinate Minister Marwan Hamada was not expected. Rather, assassinations, undermining stability, and bombings will continue, after the tribunal's approval, in protest against the tribunal establishment and in order to empty the tribunal of its essence by blood, iron, fire and chaos. It is not a coincidence that those who do so make advantage of the wide gap of Lebanese differences over main issues like the tribunal, relations with Syria, Palestinian arms, camps and sharing political power.
Since some of them have become involved in the internal Lebanese affairs, Arab officials have realized how far every single word and proposal they discussed with both the majority and opposition to get out of the internal crisis had to do with the regional situation. They learned how the internal factors intercept with Syrian, Palestinian, Iranian, international and Arab factors on that small Lebanese arena, in which bloody scenes increase and presage more in the near future. Those Arab officials sought to knock regional doors to make a successful potential compromise among the Lebanese but in vain.
Pending their success, dispatching Arab troops to Lebanon and to the Syrian border may be a step towards promoting the Arab concern for Lebanon to a new level, as hinted by the 14 March Forces statement. This step may find an exit between the continuation of the intense situation and the proposal of dispatching UN observers, something which Syria rejects on the ground that it is an antagonistic step that makes it close its border. Since accepting the dispatch of international troops to south Lebanon to protect Lebanon from Israel according to Resolution 1701 is accepted by Syria and its allies in Lebanon and rejected within Lebanon and along the Syrian border; Does it apply for Arab troops?
The larger regional scene, in which the Arab system is certainly interested when handling the internal Lebanese scene, determines the effective Arab countries' choices toward Lebanon. This regional scene was the motivation for that care we see now. Certainly, that Arab regime does not want Lebanon to be like Iraq or Palestine. Rather, the transfer of open fighting to Lebanon may prolong what is going on in the two main Arab arenas.
The resolutions of the last Arab summit held late last March in Riyadh imply that the Arab League tends to restore the Arab decision in treating regional crises, and the Lebanon-related resolution consolidates this tendency. So, will Lebanon be an arena for testing the Arab regime's capability of restoring that decision so it can make use of it in other crises in return for internationalization or other regional non-Arab powers

Will it be War or Peace in the Middle East this summer?

Patrick Seale Al-Hayat - 15/06/07//
As Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister, prepares to travel to Washington next week to meet President George W Bush on June 19, the Middle East is awash with rumours of war - but also of peace. Which will Olmert press for with his American 'Big Brother'?
Some observers predict a 'hot' summer in the Middle East. They think Olmert will seek Bush's backing for another war in Lebanon, perhaps extending this time to Syria, to finish off their common enemies - Lebanon's Hizballah and President Bashar al-Asad's regime in Damascus -- in preparation for a joint assault on their ultimate nemesis, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in Tehran.
Israeli troops have recently carried out large-scale manoeuvres in both the Golan and the Negev, as if preparing for that much trumpeted 'second round', which some Israeli strategists believe is necessary to restore Israel's deterrent capability, severely dented by the military fiasco in Lebanon last summer.
An American armada, including two carrier battle groups and 150 strike aircraft, has assembled on the approaches to the Iranian coast.
Another theory, however, is that neither Israel nor the U.S. are ready for war. The U.S. and Iran have held a preliminary meeting in Baghdad, which might lead to more exchanges, while the Israeli media have reported that Olmert has sent secret messages to President Bashar in Damascus responding positively to the Syrian leader's repeated calls for a resumption of negotiations. The U.S. has so far vetoed any such Israeli-Syrian contacts but, if the reports are accurate, Olmert may ask Bush for a green light to resume talks with Syria, which have been interrupted since 2000.
How should one read these conflicting signals? Which is it to be? War on all fronts or a possible breakthrough towards peace -- or if not peace then at least some stabilization of a region now erupting in violence in all directions?
The war scenario is, unfortunately, the more plausible. The destruction of Hizballah, and its Palestinian sister Hamas, is still very much on Israel's wish-list, as is the termination, one way or another, of Iran's programme of uranium enrichment. To Israel's way of thinking, Syria, the vital link between Iran and Hizballah, must also be neutralized - by war if other means fail.
Olmert and his advisers must be anxious to halt and reverse what, from their standpoint, will be seen as some profoundly unfortunate trends.
*Pressure is mounting in the United States for an American withdrawal from Iraq, where the surge in U.S. troop numbers has evidently failed to tame the lethal insurgency, and where the U.S. is facing the possibility, even the probability, of strategic defeat. An American withdrawal, even if phased over a year or two, will inevitably result in a loss of influence. This is not good news for Israel.
*Meanwhile Iran, undeterred by international sanctions, seems more determined than ever to master the uranium fuel cycle on an industrial scale, eventually giving it the means to manufacture nuclear weapons. Neither the United States, nor the Europeans, nor the UN Security Council has yet come up with a formula for dealing with what Israel sees as a deadly threat.
*Far from being weakened, Hizballah is now said to be armed with some 25,000 missiles as well as large numbers of Russian-built anti-tank weapons, such as played havoc with Israel's Merkeva tanks last summer. Worse still, Israel's diplomatic campaign to persuade the European Union to label Hizballah a terrorist organization has failed. France, on which Israel had placed great hopes in this regard, has invited Hizballah representatives to Paris to take part in a meeting aimed at re-launching a dialogue between Lebanon's warring factions.
*In an allied move, France's new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, is ending the boycott of Syria which Jacques Chirac, his predecessor, had insisted on ever since the murder of his close friend, the former Lebanese premier Rafic Hariri. To Israel's undoubted displeasure, France has resumed a dialogue with Syria, which the Quai d'Orsay sees as a necessary part of French efforts to stabilize Lebanon.
President Bashar al-Asad's brother-in-law, General Asaf Shawkat, head of military intelligence, has visited Paris for discreet talks, and may indeed still be in the French capital.
*Another setback for Israel is that the international isolation of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian government is splintering. The Norwegians have led the way in resuming aid and diplomatic recognition, and others are about to follow suit. Even the United States has begun to realize that the boycott and siege of the Palestinian territories has led to a humanitarian disaster and to greater, rather than less, Palestinian militancy.
Far from Fatah defeating and destroying Hamas -- as was planned for, armed and funded by Israel, the U.S. and some Arab countries -- the latest savage bout of inter-Palestinian fighting suggests that Hamas may rout Fatah and seize total control of Gaza.
Israel's shortsighted policy of expanding West Bank settlements while seeking to starve into submission the democratically-elected Hamas government has resulted in extremist groups, whether in Lebanon or the Occupied territories, creeping ever closer to Israel's borders.
* Olmert will urge Bush to boost military aid to Israel to over $2.4 billion a year and halt the sale to Saudi Arabia of a major arms package, including satellite-guided weapons, which Israel sees as threat to its regional supremacy. But the U.S. needs to placate its main Arab ally and Olmert may not succeed.
In view of these negative trends, some Israeli planners are thought to believe that the last months in office of George W Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney present what might be a last opportunity for Israel to defeat all its enemies in an extended war.
Quite apart from dealing with Hizballah and Hamas, and with a resurgent Syria - which Israel claims has been acquiring Russian weapons -- Israel and its friends have never tired of urging the U.S. to make war on Iran, whose nuclear ambitions are regularly portrayed as an 'existential threat' to the Jewish state.
'Bomb Iran!' is the hysterical cry of Israeli hard-liners; of the remaining Washington neo-cons and their organ the Weekly Standard; and most recently of Norman Podhoretz, the American neo-con intellectual who edited Commentary, the Jewish monthly, for thirty years and who is the father-in- law of Eliott Abrams, the hawkish U.S. deputy National Security Adviser responsible for the Middle East.
The call for military strikes against Iran has also come from Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and from his namesake, Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's racist and war-mongering Minister for Strategic affairs, that is to say the minister in charge of confronting Iran!
Can this beating of the war drums be dismissed, in the words of Dr Muhammad al-Baradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency, as the ravings of the 'new crazies'? Or must the stoking of war fever inevitably lead to war?
Olmert has hinted that he is ready for a deal with Syria if it severs its links with Iran and Hizballah and ends its support for Hamas and other Palestinian militants. These are wholly unrealistic preconditions, rather like asking Israel to sever its ties with the United States! Syria's ties with Iran and with the Shi'ite community of South Lebanon are decades old and will not be loosened until there are clear signs that Israel is ready for a withdrawal from occupied Syrian and Palestinian territory and a comprehensive peace.
If this analysis is correct, Israel and its friends will continue to press the U.S. to make war on Iran and its allies, much as they pressed for war against Iraq in 2003. They will try, but they may not succeed. The world has changed.
In the wake of the Iraqi catastrophe and the erupting violence everywhere, the international mood is to seek a resolution of conflicts, and especially that between Israel and its neighbours, rather than to pile up still more bitterness and hate.
*Original English