June 20/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 5,43-48. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Free Opinions
A Lebanese Gaza-By:Zuheir Kseibati- Dar Al-Hayat. June 20/07
Go General!-By:Ghassan Charbel.Dar Al-Hayat. June 20/07
If Lebanon becomes a failed state again, failed leadership will be to blame-Daily Star. June 20/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for June 20/06/07
Homemade Bomb Being Prepared by Militants Blows Up, Killing 2, Wounding 3
Landmine Wounds Zimbabwe Demining Expert in South.-Naharnet
Former U.N. Official Says Rocketing Israel is 'Contracting Work.-Naharnet
Security Council, Ban Slam Rocket Attack on Israel.-Naharnet
Syria: No secret peace talks with Israel-Houston Chronicle
Russia reportedly plans to supply advanced MiG-31 warplanes to Syria.Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Syria's Poison Pill-Huffington Post
Security Council press statement on Lebanon-ReliefWeb (press release)
WFP delivers Saudi dates to WFP beneficiaries in Syria-ReliefWeb (press release)
Fears the Midle East is slipping toward war-Scripps News
Militant group claims rocket attack on Israel-Daily Star
Moussa aims to 'reconcile' feuding Lebanese leaders-Daily Star
Army says its has Fatah al-Islam cornered-Daily Star
Rizk receives 12 nominees for spots on Hariri tribunal-Daily Star
Aoun calls on FPM activists to prepare for by-elections-Daily Star
Philippines trying to keep nationals away-Daily Star
Jumblatt: Rockets aimed to renew war with Israel-Daily Star
NGO urges by-elections 'as soon as possible'-Daily Star
Italy starts four projects to assist displaced-Daily Star
Czech Republic donates $140,000 to refugees-Daily Star
Kuwait sends aid to help Palestinians-Daily Star
Palestinian refugees in Lebanon vow to resist spread of Gaza infighting-Daily Star
Lebanese Army, UNIFIL on full alert after rocket fire into Israel-Daily Star
Lebanon plunges in annual index of 'Failed States'-Daily Star

Lebanon's economic woes don't deter private equity companies-Daily Star

Security Council, Ban Slam Rocket Attack on Israel
The U.N. Security Council on Monday strongly condemned a weekend rocket attack on northern Israel and reaffirmed its support for the Lebanese government.
"The Security Council strongly condemned the rocket attack" on the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona on Sunday, it said in a statement.
The rocket fire "constitutes a serious breach of the cessation of hostilities and a flagrant violation of" Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah last summer. "Council members reaffirmed their full support to the Lebanese government and army in their efforts to ensure security and stability throughout Lebanon," added the statement read out by Belgium's U.N. ambassador, this month's council chair.
The 15-member council again urged all parties concerned "to exercise utmost restraint."It further urged all parties to respect the U.N.-drawn boundary between Israel and Lebanon, known as the Blue Line, and to support the U.N. peacekeeping force that monitors the region.
Earlier Monday, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon also strongly deplored the rocket attack which he said aimed "to destabilize the situation in Lebanon" and reiterated the importance of fully implementing Resolution 1701.Lebanese troops and U.N. peacekeepers were on full alert Monday in southern Lebanon a day after militants fired rockets into Israel for the first time in 10 months.A previously unknown militant Islamic group claimed responsibility for the attack.
The self-proclaimed group, "the Jihadi Badr Brigades Lebanon branch," also vowed in a statement faxed to The Associated Press in Beirut to continue attacks on Israel.(AFP-AP-Naharnet) (AP photo shows Lebanese soldiers standing at a checkpoint as an Indonesian U.N. armored vehicle patrols the area in the southern border village of Adaisseh) Beirut, 19 Jun 07, 07:33

U.N. Investigators to Help Probe Eido's Murder

The Security Council has given a green light to U.N. investigators to help probe last week's assassination of anti-Syrian lawmaker Walid Eido in a massive car bombing in Beirut's seaside Manara district.Belgium's U.N. Ambassador Johan Verbeke, who is the current council president, asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a letter circulated Monday to inform the Lebanese government and the U.N. commission investigating the assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri of its approval.
Prime Minister Fouad Saniora sent a letter to Ban last Thursday asking the International Independent Investigation Commission to provide technical assistance to the Lebanese investigation into last Wednesday's "heinous terrorist act" that killed Eido, his son, two bodyguards and six bystanders.
In his letter informing Ban of the council's approval, Verbeke said the Security Council is "determined to continue to assist the government of Lebanon in the search for the truth and to bring to justice perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of that terrorist attacks and assassinations committed in Lebanon since October 2004."
The Council asked the commission led by Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz "to extend appropriate technical assistance to the Lebanese authorities in the investigation" of Eido's killing. Last week, U.N. officials announced that Ban plans to keep Brammertz as head of the U.N. probe into the Hariri murder until next December. Brammertz on Friday visited the scene of the blast that killed Eido near Beirut's popular seafront promenade. A team of U.N. experts was expected in Beirut soon to survey the bombing site. The commission is also providing technical assistance to Lebanese authorities in 16 other cases, including the November assassination of Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 19 Jun 07, 07:47

Source: United Nations Security Council
Date: 18 Jun 2007
The following Security Council press statement on Lebanon was read out today by Council President Johan Verbeke ( Belgium):
The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the rocket attack launched against Israel from southern Lebanon on 17 June 2007, which constitutes a serious breach of the cessation of hostilities and a flagrant violation of resolution 1710 (2006).
The members of the Security Council noted the condemnation of this attack by the Government of Lebanon, and commended the determination and commitment of the Government of Lebanon to bring to justice the perpetrators of this attack.
The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their full support to the Lebanese Government and army in their efforts to ensure security and stability throughout Lebanon. They reiterated their call upon all parties concerned to respect the Blue Line in its entirety and to exercise utmost restraint, and underlined the need for full implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), including through the full support to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in carrying out its mandate.

Aoun calls on FPM activists to prepare for by-elections

Daily Star staff
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
BEIRUT: Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun called on party activists on Monday to prepare "technically" for by-elections in Beirut and Metn and stressed the need to establish a unity government. "We will respond positively to the by-elections and to any popular referendum," Aoun said after a regular weekly meeting of his Reform and Change parliamentary bloc.
"We cannot be against by-elections," he said. "But while preparing to hold those elections we should work simultaneously on establishing a national unity government.
"With the formation of a national unity government, the constitutional obstacle will be overcome and then the by-elections will be legal. A national unity government is the starting point to conducting any dialogue," Aoun said. Aoun said hampering the establishment of such a government would mean "dragging the country into clashes" which, he said, "we have always resisted." "A national unity government is a great necessity because its absence might create emptiness," he said.
Aoun added that the French initiative to renew dialogue between Lebanon's divided political camps was still being discussed. French Foreign Ministry envoy Jean-Claude Cousseran met with a number of Lebanese political leaders last week to invite them to attend a roundtable meeting in Paris to rebuild trust between rival political factions. "We are not the ones trying to impede France's initiative," Aoun said. Commenting on the two Katyusha rockets fired from South Lebanon into Israel on Sunday, Aoun said the "launching of rockets is an attempt to destabilize the country."
"But the current security situation should not prevent us from creating a national unity government," Aoun said. The two rockets fell on the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona and caused no casualties. A third rocket failed to cross the border. Earlier in the day, Aoun met with US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman to discuss the latest developments in the country. Feltman did not comment on the meeting. -The Daily Star

If Lebanon becomes a failed state again, failed leadership will be to blame

By The Daily Star
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
This year, a number of independently produced studies and reports have painted a worrisome picture of the state of affairs in Lebanon, a country that more and more observers view as increasingly precarious. The most recent of these was a private survey carried out by analysts for Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace that ranked Lebanon among the countries in the world that are most vulnerable to collapse or conflict. This year's rankings, which were published on Sunday, saw Lebanon plunge from its spot in the "Warning" category of states and enter the most troubled tier: the "Alert" zone, a league of conflict-ridden countries that includes Iraq, Sudan and Somalia. Moreover, Lebanon's slide downward on the scale toward failure was more pronounced than that of any other country in the world.
Who or what is to blame for the fact that Lebanon is once again rapidly on its way to becoming a basket case? Certainly one must acknowledge the role that Israel's 2006 war against Lebanon played in fueling instability in this country. Indeed, the report's authors acknowledge that events such as natural and man-made disasters can cause a state's demise. However, they add that of all the factors that can cause state failure "few are as decisive or as deadly as bad leadership."
In this respect, each and every member of Lebanon's political class is to blame for setting this country on the course toward collapse. Yes, the war with Israel created problems, but the leaders of Lebanon have compounded those "difficulties" and transformed them into an utter disaster. This applies equally to the leaders of the ruling coalition, who have foolishly turned a deaf ear to the voices of Lebanese who reject their legitimacy, and to the leaders of the opposition, who have acted as though they have the right to force their agenda on all the citizenry. Leaders on both sides of the political divide are guilty of playing solely to their respective supporting audiences and ignoring everyone else. Not one has risen to the challenge of being a leader for all the Lebanese.
But even though bad leadership has played a central role in contributing to Lebanon's precarious situation, it is the citizens of this country who are being made to pay the price of the multiple failures of the political class. It is they whose businesses are losing money, whose jobs are in jeopardy, whose loan payments are overdue, and whose children's school fees are looking increasingly unaffordable. Whatever their personal opinions, few of them could have adequately accounted for the paralyzing impasse that has been brought on by their political leaders' shared predilections for hubris and maximalism.
The Fund for Peace report's authors also point out that "effective leadership can pull a country back from the brink." Since this is self-evidently true, the next generation of historians will probably look back on this current crossroads and say that it represented a crucial moment of truth in which the leadership abilities of the Lebanese political class were tested. Unless our leaders start showing a sense of responsibility, the historians are likely to conclude that they failed miserably.

Homemade Bomb Being Prepared by Militants Blows Up, Killing 2, Wounding 3
An explosion ripped through a tire shop in the southern Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh as extremist militants of Jund al-Sham tried to prepare a bomb, killing two people and wounding three. Lebanese security officials said the late Monday afternoon blast went off as some of Jund al-Sham members were extracting TNT from a 107 mm shell, apparently to use it in making a bomb. Among those lightly wounded was a leader of Jund al-Sham, Shehadeh Jawhar, according to residents and Abu Sharif, the officials said. Residents said the two dead men were the shop owner -- Jawhar's uncle -- and his nephew.
Also wounded was a Lebanese man named Mohammed Ghuneim, whose brother, Shadi, has been held for months in Saudi Arabia for suspected links with al-Qaida, the security officials said. However, Palestinian sources said the two men died when a bomb hidden in a tire exploded. A number of small, little known Islamic militant groups proclaiming a jihadist (holy war) ideology have arisen in recent years in Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps, which have long been home to numerous Palestinian militias. Jund al-Sham, which is Arabic for Soldiers of al-Sham -- an old Arabic word for the region of Syria, Lebanon and Jordan -- is a splinter group from another Palestinian militant group called Asbat al-Ansar based in Ain al-Hilweh.
Jund al-Sham's fighters battled Lebanese troops earlier this month, killing two soldiers, as the army fought Fatah al-Islam terrorists in the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. Another group using the name Jund al-Sham has carried out attacks in Syria, seeking to topple its secular regime, but it is not known whether it is connected to the Ain al-Hilweh group.(AFP file photo shows a Palestinian Islamic militant of a joint force of various factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), pro-Syrian groups and Islamist movements, secures a street in Ain al-Hilweh.) Beirut, 19 Jun 07, 07:23

Former U.N. Official Says Rocketing Israel is 'Contracting Work'
Timur Goksel, former senior adviser to the U.N. peacekeeping force's commander, said he believes the rocket attack into northern Israel was a "contracting work."
"This is one of the local sympathizer groups, somebody paid money. This is sort of solidarity attack with Fatah al-Islam," said Goksel, who also served with the U.N. peacekeepers in southern Lebanon for two decades as spokesman. He noted that attacks with small rockets like Sunday's are difficult to stop. The rockets can be easily transported and need no launcher. "You need a donkey and two Katyushas and you can start a conflict in southern Lebanon," he said.
Two rockets fired from Lebanon landed Sunday in northern Israel, causing damage but no casualties, in the first such incident since last summer's war between Israel and Hizbullah.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 19 Jun 07, 09:25

Landmine Wounds Zimbabwe Demining Expert in South
A land mine left over from last summer's war between Israel and Hizbullah has wounded a Zimbabwe demining expert.
The state-run National News Agency on Monday said Mertzi Zouzi, from Zimbabwe, was working for the U.N. Mine Action Coordination Center near the southern town of Jezzine, some 35 kilometers from the Israeli border, when a mine he was attempting to secure went off. It said he suffered serious injuries to a shoulder and to one eye, and was rushed for treatment at a hospital in the port city of Sidon. Separately, security officials in Beirut said Lebanese troops dismantled Monday two unexploded rockets also left over since last summer's war in the town of Bayada near the southern port city of Tyre. The Lebanese officials said the two rockets were shoulder-fired anti-tank projectiles that were found by a villager as he cleared the rubble of a collapsed wall. The United Nations and human rights groups charge Israel dropped about 4 million cluster bomblets during the summer fighting. U.N. ordinance clearing experts say that up to 1 million failed to explode and now endanger civilians in the zone. Lebanese authorities and the U.N. have also repeatedly called on Israel to hand over a map of the land mines it planted in southern Lebanon during its previous occupation of the region, which ended in 2000.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 19 Jun 07, 08:37

A Lebanese Gaza

Zuheir Kseibati Al-Hayat - 18/06/07//
Lebanon is at the risk of becoming another Gaza. Although people do not believe or understand Hamas's vow to adhere to the Mecca Agreement after what this movement did to bring down the unity government with Fatah, the fate that the Palestinian Cause has come to because of the Palestinians and their two legitimacies makes many dark clouds loom on the horizon for the Lebanese people and their different legitimacies.
In Lebanon, they are doomed to a conflict between two governments, in which case they had better bid the country's unity farewell. What is terrifying is a relative comparison between how "easily" the battle in Gaza has been wrapped up and Hamas took control of the Strip on the one hand and the frightening idea of any similar scenario starting in Beirut. This scenario would begin with the formation of another government opposed to the one led by Fouad Siniora, which President Emile Lahoud no longer considers as legitimate, nor does the opposition. The latter, for its part, insists on refusing dialogue unless priority is given to "participation". How will the authorities fragment? And what does the future hold for the institutions and indeed for the constitution? How can presidential elections be carried out? More importantly, who can guarantee that the political division will not turn into street clashes?
"Either kill or get killed," as Walid Jumblatt, President of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), said after the murder of MP Walid Eido. This phrase is the title of a new stage in Lebanon, where the confrontation is escalating at the internal level and with regard to the Syrian borders issue.
This confrontation will not be a mere political front to pelt one another with accusations and deny recognition, as opponents, or at least most of them, will do to those that will be elected to replace Minister and MP Pierre Gemayel and MP Eido. These opponents, especially Hezbollah, know that now that any chance of dialogue has been ruled out, there is enough congestion nationwide to produce many sparks on the streets whenever any friction is invented to challenge the by-elections due on August 5. Everyone knows, as well, that the opposition's attempt to overthrow Siniora's government on the streets, as Hamas did with President Mahmoud Abbas's authority in Gaza, will push Lebanon toward a chaotic and nationwide division with the traits of a replicable absurd model.
Meanwhile, no one is calculating the main costs of a big explosion based, as is the case with Iraq, on resentment along with sectarian and confessional fragmentation. Whose interests will be served? Who will benefit from this violent destabilization on the Iraqi-Palestinian-Lebanese front? This is certainly no coincidence. It is well-known that a decision has been taken to change the conflict's givens in the region and, therefore, speed up confrontations. Likewise, one can include this destabilization into a regional theatre, where pressures on Iran, which is being threatened with more sanctions and a war, are mounting, and Syria feels it is being targeted even more after the adoption of the International Tribunal to look into the murder of PM Rafik al-Hariri.
In Gaza, people are wondering who is behind the attempt to abort the Mecca Agreement. In Lebanon, on the other hand, the question is: Are these the final days of the Taif Agreement and Resolution 1701, now that everyone is choosing either to put an end to the country's unity or oust Siniora from the government palace after the failure of the battle of disrupting the tribunal? Now, it is no use discussing who would acknowledge a possible Lahoud-formed government from abroad. At the same time, making Lebanon's internal affairs more international (like the loyalists' request for protection through international forces) is not an option easily within reach. Expectations stem from Hamas's threats against such internationalization in Gaza, which is turning into an illegitimate entity for the international community.
These are really dark clouds, while the chances of successfully betting on the French endeavors to revive the Lebanese dialogue are equal to hoping that all the parties of the three fronts will learn the lesson. Meanwhile, most of these parties are expecting the Arab delegation visiting Beirut tomorrow just to confirm what the efforts of Amr Moussa, Arab League Secretary General, led to. In other words, it will demonstrate one more time that a miracle is impossible as long as there is someone who believes that time for miracles has not yet come.
Certainly, the Lebanese people will not make a miracle. On the other hand, something similar to that could have been achieved until the post-July war period by applying what was agreed upon in the dialogue to reduce regional repercussions without ignoring the fact that some of these are caused by the Lebanese themselves. The other side of this fact is that Iran and Syria are still part of the problem and the solution. Accordingly, it may be possible to explain the "test" of violent destabilization, either as a reaction to what is now mistrust in the US, which is just setting conditions for Damascus and Tehran, or a way to escalate the conflict to prove what Iran calls "the failure of the US project" in the region.
These two countries are part of the solution and also of the problem that causes confrontations. These are not in favor of the Palestinians, the Iraqis or the Lebanese, who are still addicted to the game of regional interests and change of fortunes, even if this ends up bringing down a State and risks ruining a country

Go General!
Ghassan Charbel Al-Hayat - 18/06/07//
The General had a terrible night. They burst into his room without permission. They sneaked into under his eyelids and then into his dreams. He knows them as well as he knows his price; they were soldiers who were killed in Nahr el-Bared and whose camouflaged uniform was stained with their bloods. An officer returned wrapped in a flag to the soil of his homeland. A mother who had been waiting for her son to return to wed but he returned borne in a coffin. A wife had been waiting for her knight in shining armor but he returned laid down in a coffin with medals hanging on it. There were kids who were playing I front of soldiers playing the song of death; they were unaware that they had been awarded the medal of orphanage.
It was a hard night. They came to him without any prior arrangement. Rafik Hariri was carrying a shrine and a capital, Bassel Fleihan carrying files and figures, Samir Kassir pens and inkwells, George Hawi a scream and history, Gebran Tueini daylight and an oath, and Pierre Amin Gemayel was carrying a flag and a rock. Walid Eido also came; he was carrying his son while his and his son's livers were bleeding. Among those present also were Marwan Hamadeh, Elias el-Murr and May Chidiac.
The meeting did not have an agenda; it was a talk from heart to heart. There are some who say that the visitors agreed on a single point: to accept what had happened to them on a condition that their blood is not shed in vain. They consider that keeping Lebanon united, democratic, free and Arab is enough compensation for the injustice they were done. They repeated in rotation that there was nothing more important than the homeland and that nothing had a meaning in absence of it. When they left he had made his mind. He heard a voice calling deep inside him: leave Mr. General.
A homeland rarely needs a man. When it needs him, it gives him the chance to join the club of the great saviors, a club endowed with a status higher than the club of presidents and politicians. It is a club of those whose names are engraved in the book of history when they are gone. Then they grow in books like deep-rooted, lofty trees whose shadows protect the generations to come.
Early the next morning, the General summons representatives of the media. His aides get confused, as he did not tell them about it or share anything with them. In front of cameras, he read the reporters a brief statement: "Presidency has no meaning in a country that is desecrated. Republic has no meaning in a lost country. Now is the time to save the country and the republic. Now is the time of sacrifice. Because I am a soldier before I am a politician, I declare that I will not run for presidency. At the same time, I launch the battle to save the country and the republic from the scenario of desecration and sectarianism."
A little later, his car moves away. The guards feel confused toward a visitor without an arranged appointment. He enters the palace and tells Emile Lahoud frankly: "this is the Palace of the Republic. Its seals belong to the people. By virtue of what I have of morale credit and popular mandate, I ask you to consider yourself in an open vacation pending an agreement between the Lebanese people on a president. I heard that you threaten to recall your conscience, and I warn you against it."
From far away, his procession moves toward Qoreytem. Saad Hariri interrupts a meeting to receive the visitor. A few minutes ago, his aides told him about the details of the press conference and the statement that had a De Gaulle-like nature. The General tells the chief of Qoreytem: "your father was not martyred to lose the country. Your father used to say that the country was more important than its statesmen. The truth will be lost if the country is lost. It will come too late. What is now required, immediately, is a president who can speak to the Lebanese people and re-unite them, a president who is not waiting for someone else to regain the republic and the country."
From Qoreytem to the Southern Suburb; the head of the Resistance receives the visitor General with embraces. The General says: "the Lebanese people bend in respect to the sacrifices of the Resistance. They are sacrifices for the homeland. What will remain of the Resistance and its credit and weapons if a civil war breaks outor the country is lost? What is required now is a president who would fight against the winds of sectarianism and protect the country and the republic."
The General continues his tour toward Moukhtara, Bikfaya, Bzemmar, Ain el-Tinrh, Bkerke, Dar al-Fatwa and the Higher Shiite Islamic Council.
The General goes in all directions. The country deserves these sacrifices and risks. The next morning, the opposition withdraws from the Riad al-Solh Square. General Lahoud gives a farewell speech. Speaker Nabih Berry gets his hammer out of his pocket. The MPs elect a president who could be entrusted with the palace, the republic, the country and the people. Consultations begin to form a national unity government. The General has saved the republic!
That was a dream of one of al-Hayat readers who sent it to me and I published it. May God forgive him

Lebanon plunges in annual index of 'Failed States'
Divided elites steer country on path toward collapse

Tuesday, June 19, 2007
In the third annual "Failed States" index issued on Sunday, analysts for the Fund for Peace, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to conflict resolution, and Foreign Policy magazine ranked Lebanon as the world's 28th most failing state.
The report said that the war in Lebanon last summer helped undo nearly two decades of economic and political progress. Israeli air strikes drove more than 700,000 Lebanese from their homes and caused an estimated $2.8 billion in damage to the country's infrastructure. A political crisis has led to deadlock within the Lebanese government, and the country's economy remains weak.
However, according to the report, Lebanon was already vulnerable to such backsliding because its political and security structures lacked integrity and remained tensely divided by factionalized elites. These vulnerabilities not only helped lead to a regression in the country's development, but they had effects throughout the region - including Israel, Jordan and Syria. The report again underscores that a country's problems are never simply its own.
The Failed States Index includes 177 states. According to the Fund for Peace Web site, "a state that is failing has several attributes," which the report describes in detail:
"One of the most common is the loss of physical control of its territory or a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Other attributes of state failure include the erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions, an inability to provide reasonable public services, and the inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community.
"The 12 indicators cover a wide range of elements of the risk of state failure, such as extensive corruption and criminal behavior, inability to collect taxes or otherwise draw on citizen support, large-scale involuntary dislocation of the population, sharp economic decline, group-based inequality, institutionalized persecution or discrimination, severe demographic pressures, brain drain, and environmental decay. States can fail at varying rates through explosion, implosion, erosion, or invasion over different time periods."
The Daily Star has below published the entire portion of the report relating to Lebanon.
The Report
Smaller than the state of Connecticut, Lebanon is located between Israel and Syria. France granted the area independence in 1943. Lebanon's many religious sects include Shiite, Sunni, Druze, Ismaili, and Alawite Muslims (roughly 60 percent of the population), and Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Copt, and Protestant Christians (around 40 percent of the population).
Ninety-five percent of Lebanese are Arab, 4 percent are Armenian, and 1 percent other, although many Christian Lebanese identify themselves as Phoenicians rather than Arabs. A 15-year sectarian Civil War devastated the country from 1975 until 1991, but Lebanon has made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions, until the July 2006 war ... [with] Israel exposed the fragility of the state.
The Taif Accord, a blueprint for national reconciliation, ended the Civil War but institutionalized sectarian divisions in the government, which means that Lebanon continues to struggle with the legacy of these problems. The population is 3.8 million and the GDP per capita is $6,000.
Social Indicators
There are high scores for group grievances because the Civil War and intermittent violence between Hizbullah and Israel have left many groups with deep and lingering animosity. Sectarian identity is institutionalized - for example, religious affiliation is indicated on national identity cards.
Many Shiites believe they are not well represented in the government, especially given their status as Lebanon's largest constituency. The Islamist militia and political party, Hizbullah, has broad support amongst the Shiite, who view this "Party of God" as their major defender in an inequitable political system.
After the assassination of Rafik Hariri in February 2005, Hizbullah strongly supported Syria's presence and opposed the "Cedar Revolution" that resulted in Syria's withdrawal. Pro-Syrian terrorist groups are suspected of detonating five bombs in predominantly Christian suburbs in the run-up to parliamentary elections in May and April 2005.
There are also over 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Most are unable to obtain citizenship and are subject to governmental and societal discrimination. Their presence is controversial, and resisted by large segments of the Christian population, who argue that they dilute the number of Christians. Many Shiite Muslims look unfavorably upon the Palestinian presence since refugee camps are located in their already crowded southern neighborhoods. There are also non-Palestinian refugees from Iraq, Somalia and Sudan. These groups are vulnerable to exploitation and expulsion by authorities.
Adding to these problems are over 300,000 internally displaced persons, primarily from Shiite communities in Southern Lebanon, that have been the focus of Israeli security operations. Frequent fighting between Israel and Hizbullah, especially in 2006, in this area adds to the strain on the population and many Shiite resettled in hastily constructed slums south of Beirut. Many Christians have fled Lebanon to Europe, Latin America, and the United States.
Economic Indicators
Uneven economic development parallels sectarian identity and contributes to political tensions. Notably, the Shiites have been neglected and impoverished. The 1975-91 Civil War seriously damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure and ended Lebanon's position as a Middle Eastern economic hub.
Lebanon has rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure by borrowing. In an attempt to reduce the swelling national debt, which stands at nearly 170 percent of GDP, the Rafik Hariri government tried to restrain government expenditures, increase revenue collection, and privatize state enterprises. However, after Hariri's assassination, the economy took a downward turn and has not reversed, and political instability has kept tourism low since 2004.
During the Civil War, Syria occupied Lebanon with military troops. The assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005 led to massive demonstrations against the Syrian presence and culminated in the withdrawal of Syrian forces in April 2005. The scores for legitimacy of the state improved with the Syrian withdrawal and fair elections in Spring 2005.
However, Hizbullah operates as a "state within a state." It holds a large quantity of weapons and controls a lot of territory, and its civilian arm provides services, such as hospitals and schools, that the government is unable to offer to poor Shiite areas. Nonetheless, Hizbullah has managed to join the legitimate government - the party won a number of representatives during the parliamentary elections of May 2005, but this only made it impossible to disarm the militia and prevent violent cross-border attacks by Hizbullah against Israel.
Human rights scores also improved after the Syrian exodus. Previously, Syrian forces operating in the country carried out illegal searches, arrests and detentions. Abuses still occurred in Palestinian refugee camps where rival Palestinian factions such as Fatah and Asbat al-Nur regularly clashed over territorial control.
The security apparatus also saw high but improved scores after the Syrian withdrawal. Prior to that, intelligence and security officers working with the Syrian government engaged in terrorist attacks on pro-democracy politicians and journalists.
There are high scores for factionalized elites because the political system imposed during colonialism privileged the Christian population. The small Maronite community enjoys great political clout, to the consternation of both Sunni and Shiite Muslims. In addition to the high scores for external influence due to Syria's continued meddling and support for Hizbullah, the Lebanese government also claims the Shebaa Farms area of Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Core Five State
Emile Lahoud has been president since November 24, 1998. In 2004, with Syrian manipulation, Parliament voted for a constitutional amendment extending his term for three years. This partly triggered the popular support for Syria's withdrawal. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora was elected in June 2005, in the first parliamentary elections in 30 years without Syrian interference. The elections were mostly free and fair, but somewhat flawed because they were carried out according to the Syrian-influenced 2000 electoral law. Saad Hariri, Rafik Hariri's son, is the majority leader in the Lebanese Parliament. The Constitution mandates that the president be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of the legislature a Shiite Muslim.
The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) are composed of an army, navy and air force. The LAF has significantly reduced the role of confessionalism through universal conscription. The armed forces have been unable or unwilling, however, to disarm Hizbullah.
Violent abuse of detainees has occurred at police stations where suspects were interrogated without an attorney, but this is improving, as Syrian security forces were responsible for the most serious abuse.
Each recognized religious group has its own courts for family law matters, such as marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance. Many family laws discriminated against women.
Posts in the civil service are also based on sectarianism, and are distributed among the 18 recognized religious groups.
The situation in Lebanon is precarious. Hizbullah retains its weapons and Siniora's government remains weak. ... The July 2006 war with Israel likely increased Hizbullah's strength and popularity. As of early December 2006, Hizbullah and another major Shiite party left the government in a boycott.
Now there are no Shiite ministers left in the Cabinet, and this is likely to increase group grievances. Moreover, there is a fear that sectarian violence in Iraq will spread throughout the region and ignite long-simmering tensions between Shiite and Sunnis in Lebanon.
The Lebanese government will have to assert its authority over Hizbullah, and real progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have to be made, before true stability in Lebanon can be achieved.
Copyright (C) 2007 The Fund for Peace