DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 6,24-34. No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink)or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?' or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?' All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.
Analysis: EU's Hezbollah tolerance shifts-By: Megan Harris-June 24/07
How Far is Too Far?By: Manuela Paraipan-Bucharest, Romania-June 24/07
The Arabs have been big part of their own sorry fate-By The Daily Star, June 24/07
Three old men still reflect on the game of nations-By David Ignatius, June 24/07
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources
for June 24/06/07
Booby trap kills 3 Lebanon soldiers-Ya Libnan
Lebanon army finds explosives, weapons , missiles in Tripoli raid-Ya Libnan
Arab League failure in Lebanon blamed on outside interference-Ya Libnan
Moussa Leaves Beirut as No Solution Looms in the Horizon-Naharnet
Moawad Accuses the Opposition of Thwarting Arab League Mediation-Naharnet
Heavy Clashes at Nahr al-Bared, 1 Soldier Killed-Naharnet
Nahr al-Bared Heads to the Worst-Naharnet
Army Command Wants 'Surrender' of Fatah al-Islam Criminals-Naharnet
Shooting in Hamra Street but with Cameras-Naharnet
Security forces nab 'Hezbollah-trained' suspect in W. Bank raid-Ha'aretz
Sarkozy & Abdullah discuss Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine & Iran-Ya Libnan
On Anniversary Of Capture, ADL Urges International Community To ...Anti-Defamation League (press release
How Far is Too Far?World Press Review
US slams Syria for jailing young-France24
Nahr al-Bared fighting persists despite Murr's claim of victory-Daily Star
Moussa comes up short again as timing issues divide Lebanese-Daily Star
ISF chief cites 2,140 arrest in anti-drug drive-Daily Star
Investigators identify vehicle used in Eido slaying-Daily Star
Fadlallah: US wants Lebanon in state of chaos-Daily Star
Lebanese prepare to hit the beaches as weekend heat wave arrives-Daily Star
Michel Murr exerts influence ahead of Metn by-election-Daily Star
UNWRA workers protest assaults-Daily Star
UNIFIL plans development projects across South-Daily Star
Beirut grows less tolerant of displaced Iraqis-Daily Star
Lebanon 'open for business' by August 1-Daily Star
Moussa Leaves Beirut
as No Solution Looms in the Horizon
Arab League Chief Amr Moussa has admitted that he had failed in a bid to bring Lebanon's feuding camps to the negotiating table to end more than seven months of political impasse. "Some ideas and suggestions proposed today hindered the possibility of reaching an official understanding" between the parliamentary majority and the Hizbullah-led opposition, Moussa told reporters Friday at the end of a four-day visit to Beirut. Heading a delegation representing Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, Moussa said however that progress had been made toward a dialogue, with a view to the formation of a unity government and presidential elections in September. He said he was ready to resume the mediation mission "if things progress."
An Nahar daily reported Friday that Moussa said "cooperation was very good" from the pro-government March 14 coalition while he hinted that the opposition did not adopt a favorable reaction to his mediation. The newspaper said that Moussa informed members of the opposition that the Arab League and the delegation's four member-states were not prepared "to hand over Lebanon's will to non-Lebanese." "The Arab League or the Arabs will not back off from their interest and role in Lebanon…the Arabs have a responsibility toward Lebanon and Lebanon is an Arab responsibility," Moussa said.
Parliament's majority leader Saad Hariri told An Nahar that the March 14 camp had agreed on two separate written documents that mediators proposed.
"We received the first proposal after a meeting the Arab delegation held with Speaker Nabih Berri," Hariri said, adding that the March 14 coalition complied with it.
"But the March 8 forces backed off from it within 24 hours," he said. The pro-government camp also agreed on a second document that was offered after a meeting between Moussa and Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
"We spent more than ten hours waiting for the final answer," Hariri said, but the opposition again backed off. Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh also accused the anti-government camp of thwarting attempts to find a solution to the country's ongoing political crisis. "It seems that they want us to go back to 1976 when the Syrian regime distanced an Arab solution for Lebanon" to rule the country alone.
The opposition first wants a government of national unity, but the majority insists that the priority is to secure the border with Syria, which it accuses of trying to destabilize Lebanon. Another majority demand is that the opposition not place obstacles to the election of a new president, scheduled for September.(Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 23 Jun 07, 08:04
Moawad Accuses the Opposition of Thwarting Arab League Mediation
A Lebanese minister on Friday accused the opposition of seeking to scupper Arab League mediation efforts by demanding the formation of a national unity government before talks aimed at ending the crisis. "Parliament speaker Nabih Berri, who speaks for the opposition, made a complete about face on Thursday evening," Social Affairs Minister Nayla Moawad in the pro-Western government told Agence France Presse. "While he accepted (league secretary general) Amr Mussa's proposal for a resumption of dialogue, he made it conditional on the formation of a national unity government," she said.
"This hardening of the opposition's stand is because of last-minute orders from Syria. Under such conditions the chances of the Arab mediation mission succeeding are diminished and impasse looms." Moawad was speaking on the final day of the latest Arab League push aimed at getting Lebanon's feuding anti- and pro-Syrian camps to talk to each other and end more than seven months of political paralysis. According to a source within the Arab League delegation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Berri told the team on Thursday that any dialogue had to take place under a unity government. "It is a unity government that will become a conference for dialogue," the source quoted Berri as saying. The anti-Syrian parliamentary majority had welcomed the league proposal for an unconditional resumption of the Lebanese national dialogue interrupted by last year's 34-day war with Israel.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 22 Jun 07, 19:25
Nahr al-Bared Heads to the Worst
By announcing that military operations against Fatah al-Islam militants in northern Lebanon have ceased, the government risks making the situation even worse and creating long-term problems, analysts say. Defense Minister Elias Murr said on LBC television late on Thursday that the army's offensive on the Sunni Islam extremists in Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp north of the country's second city of Tripoli was over. "Military operations in Nahr al-Bared camp have ended, but the camp will remain encircled until the total surrender of Fatah al-Islam," he said. "The army has destroyed all of the Islamist positions and is currently engaged in search operations, de-mining and defusing booby-traps." While the army now controls the new part of the camp, so named because it is a spillover of the original Nahr al-Bared whose perimeter was set by the United Nations in 1948, the surviving militants have retreated inside the old sector.
This is a warren of single-storey buildings and narrow alleyways, difficult terrain for a conventional military force but the perfect ground for waging guerrilla warfare.
"I'm quite pessimistic," said Mustafa Adib, director of the Centre for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies in nearby Tripoli. "If there is mediation and the army agrees to a compromise after the heavy losses it has suffered it could lose respect. That could have dramatic consequences for the entire country."
According to one expert on radical Sunnis in north Lebanon, who declined to be identified because of his closeness to such groups, "each day that passes without a clear military victory puts the army in a more difficult position. "Sympathy for Fatah al-Islam is growing among young people in Beb Tebbaneh and elsewhere," he said, referring to a radical Sunni district in Tripoli.
He took from his pocket a hand-drawn plan of Nahr al-Bared and pointed to the "new camp." "It took them 33 days to take this," he said. Then he pointed with his pen to the "old camp," which is larger and easier to defend. "If they want to enter here, how many days? Double? Triple?" Since the battle broke out on May 20 after militants attacked the army and slit the throats of at least 17 soldiers, analysts have insisted that the honor and credibility of the army is at stake in the continuing standoff. Lebanon's army is the country's sole national institution symbolizing national unity.
Retired general Whebe Katisha said Friday that in making Thursday's announcement Murr "did not use the right words. Is it over? No." Katisha said the militants were "surrounded in the old camp, under the most difficult conditions for the army. If they (Fatah al-Islam) don't surrender, we will ask all civilians still there to leave and everyone left inside will be considered enemy combatants. The camp will be flattened. "There can be no dealing with these terrorists," he added. "The army has proved its unity and its competence. It will not back off."
For Timur Goksel, spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon for 24 years and now a professor at the American University of Beirut, "obviously, it's not over. "And if it becomes a stand-off and drags on for weeks, it could be very dangerous for the army. It can't afford that.
"With all due respect to the minister, let's wait for what the army has to say about that. They are calling the shots here. They will decide if it's over or not," Goksel said.
Just hours after Murr said the campaign had come to an end, sporadic shooting resumed at Nahr al-Bared on Friday, albeit at a lower level of intensity than in previous days and weeks. At least 143 people have been killed since the conflict broke out on May 20.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 22 Jun 07, 19:12
Heavy Clashes at Nahr al-Bared, 1 Soldier Killed
Heavy clashes resumed Saturday between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam militants at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon.
One Lebanese soldier was shot dead and an Islamist suicide bomber blew himself up and wounded several more, the military and a resident inside a besieged refugee camp said. "One Lebanese soldier has been killed by a Fatah al-Islam sniper," an army spokesman said on the 35th day of the siege of Nahr al-Bared.
A Palestinian resident of the camp told Agence France Presse: "One Islamist blew himself up near an army position and several soldiers were wounded."
Lebanese artillery continued to bombard the fighters who responded with bursts of automatic fire.
Fires burned inside the camp and plumes of smoke rose over the southern part of Nahr al-Bared's single-storey buildings and narrow streets into which the surviving militants have retreated. On Friday, Lebanese troops used artillery, tanks and machine guns against the fighters holed up in the camp despite the government saying the offensive had ended. Defense Minister Elias Murr called a halt to the military onslaught late on Thursday, but said soldiers would pursue the siege until surviving Fatah al-Islam fighters in the camp surrendered.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 23 Jun 07, 12:10
Army Command Wants 'Surrender' of Fatah al-Islam Criminals
The Lebanese Army Command said Friday that "surrender of the criminals" is the first step in achieving justice in the ongoing confrontation with Fatah al-Islam terrorists in the northern Nahr al-Bared camp. "The army command highly values initiatives and efforts … aimed at finding a settlement to the current crisis," a statement said.
However, it noted that the army command "has no right to make concessions related to justice … achieving justice starts with surrender of the criminals who committed massacres against (Lebanese) troops," the statement added. The confrontation, which has claimed more than 150 lives, broke out on May 20 when Fatah al-Islam terrorists slaughtered 17 troops around the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp. The army command said troops have "tight field control" over all the "facilities, command centers, fighting outposts, training bases and information offices" that had been used by Fatah al-Islam terrorists in the camp.
Such control included "demolishing "tunnels" used by Fatah al-Islam militants in the fight, the communiqué explained. The terrorists, according to the statement, have "fled towards the depth of the camp where they use civilians as human shields." Beirut, 22 Jun 07, 19:53
Shooting in Hamra Street but with Cameras
Troops on the streets of the troubled Lebanese capital are not an unusual sight. But it is not often that civilians salute them in the presence of cameras.
Traffic came to a standstill as Beirut's Hamra Street was sealed off on Friday, prompting security fears after a series of deadly bombings in and around Beirut and the continuing standoff with Fatah al-Islam militants in the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. But anxious bystanders relaxed when they saw the film crew. The shopping district was being used as a location to shoot a television commercial honoring the army. "We wanted to honor our army and show that we love them," Nada Abi Saleh of advertising agency Leo Burnett told Agence France Presse. "This is our way of paying our respects to all of the soldiers who have been killed in the battles against Fatah al-Islam. It is a simple initiative from all the Lebanese to tell the soldiers that we love them and we support them."Many shoppers in Hamra Street gladly volunteered to act as extras in the commercial. "For the Lebanese army we are prepared to do anything," Mohammed Itani said as he prepared to be directed by Tawfiq Trabulsi, the owner and executive producer of Independent Productions. "For more than 30 years the army was totally absent. This is the first time we feel that the army is protecting us and the first time all Lebanese, Muslims and Christians, are united behind their military," Abi Saleh added.
The 45-second TV spot to be broadcast on most Lebanese television stations starting next week will show a real soldier walking down Hamra Street and being saluted by pedestrians. "We joined forces with a leading advertising company and production house to film the commercial for free. The army even broke its own rules by allowing a real soldier to act in it," Abi Saleh said. "The military wanted to give credibility to the commercial, which was why they agreed to allow a soldier to appear."
The pro-army advertising campaign is not restricted to television spots. Starting next week there will also be a billboard blitz across the country.
"Some 600 billboards will carry posters that are being printed and displayed for free to honor the army," Abi Saleh said. "The whole campaign will carry a simple slogan -- The Nation in Our Hearts."(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 23 Jun 07, 11:54
Analysis: EU's Hezbollah tolerance shifts
June 22, 2007
WASHINGTON -- If the European Union is to add Hezbollah to its terror list, the key may be providing more information about the threat that the militant group poses to Europeans.
During the last European Council meeting in April, the periodic gathering of the heads of state of the EU member countries, apparently the issue was not discussed - although it has been several times in the past without reaching a consensus, according to Jesus Carmona, speaking on behalf of Javier Solana, the EU's high representative for common foreign and security policy. Nor could he say whether the council would address the matter at its next meeting. The expert witnesses mentioned a statement from Solana that a decision could not be reached on Hezbollah because of a lack of information.
The US Congress has repeatedly urged the EU to act on the Hezbollah issue, but Alexander Ritzmann, senior fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy and a former member of the Berlin state Parliament, told the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe Wednesday that a more subtle approach would work better, suggesting establishing joint work study groups to share information and help Europeans to see the need, adding that public pressure was likely to be ineffective.
As with many EU decisions that require unanimous consent among the 27 member states, consensus can be difficult to reach, but in this case, the key seems to be France because of its special relationship with Lebanon and the fact that it may be able to sway other EU states that have been reluctant on the Hezbollah question.
Other European nations reluctant to add Hezbollah to the terror list, according to Michael Jacobson of the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, include Italy, Belgium, Greece, and Spain. Jacobson, who testified before the subcommittee Wednesday, noted that many of these countries have troops in southern Lebanon as part of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, which was first created with a peacekeeping mission in 1978 for six months, after an Israeli incursion into southern Lebanon. Nations with troops in UNIFIL may fear reprisals for voting to name Hezbollah an official terror organization by the EU.
In his testimony, Ritzmann noted that the EU has no common foreign policy and that there are many differences among the EU states, including a few countries that have experienced bombings or kidnappings - France and Italy - and a couple that have nothing to fear from Hezbollah.
Germany, on the other hand, has been very tough on terror under its 2005-elected coalition government headed by Angela Merkel, Ritzmann said. When asked by UPI why Germany - which holds the rotating EU presidency until June 30 - had not brought the issue forward, Ritzmann said that he had queried the German government about that exact question and would relay the response when he receives it.
Asked by Rep. Albio Sires, D-NJ, whether Europeans view Hezbollah as a threat, Ritzmann said that images from Lebanon after the destruction from its war with Israel in July and August 2006 generated sympathy for Hezbollah.
Europeans have taken some measures to contain the spread of radicalism, however. The EU - following a bold French ruling in December 2005 - banned the Arabic satellite news channel Al Manar in the spring of 2006, because of the Lebanon-based channel's highly anti-US and anti-Israel sentiments, the witnesses said.
James Phillips, research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, argued that Europeans' continuous dismissal of the Hezbollah danger was "short-sighted" and will "make it a much more serious terror threat." By allowing a large presence of active supporters of Hezbollah within its borders (with an estimated 900 in Germany alone), the EU will bolster financial support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, which will later be a greater threat to European UNIFIL troops.
One trend that might signal change, however, is the recent election of Nicolas Sarkozy as French president. Sarkozy has referred to Hezbollah as a "terrorist organization," something that his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, never would have done, Jacobsen told UPI.
Adding the Lebanon-based political and military Shiite Islamic organization to the EU's terror list would greatly harm its fundraising activities in Europe as well as its ability to use Europe as a logistical launching pad, but the overall efficacy of restricting its financial and other activities remains in doubt.
Jacobson said that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who stated that a European ban would "destroy" the organization, has probably overstated the likely results of being added to the EU terror list as Iran could continue to provide Hezbollah with material and financial support. Hopefully, however, a ban could "weaken Hezbollah and diminish its ability to serve as a proxy for Iran," Jacobson said.
The United States also appears to be pursuing a strategy of countering Hezbollah's influence. A Treasury Department news release February 20 announced US actions to target Hezbollah's construction company, Jihad Al Bina, and to "ensure that legitimate reconstruction efforts, led by the Lebanese government, succeed," as quoted by Stuart Levey, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. President Bush pledged $230 million in humanitarian reconstruction and security assistance in August 2006, and $770 million more was pledged at a Paris donor conference in January 2007, the release also states.
While there are certainly some who are drawn to Hezbollah's resistance movement against Israel, "the ideology alone isn't drawing its support," Jacobson said. He added that Hezbollah has also gained popularity in Lebanon by providing needed social services in certain parts of the country. As a result, Hezbollah has gained political legitimacy, with its political wing winning more seats in parliament and even gaining positions in the president's cabinet (until a recent withdrawal).
Tony Kutayli, communications coordinator for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, told UPI: "Hezbollah is a political entity that has to be dealt with at some level. These people were legitimately elected and have supporters," he said, arguing that cutting off funds targets innocent civilians.
IDF arrests senior Hamas militant near Ramallah
By Yuval Azoulay, Haaretz Correspondent and News Agencies
Israel Defense Forces troops on Saturday arrested a senior Hamas militant in the West Bank, the Islamic group said. The detainee, Saleh Aruri, was described on a Hamas Web site as the founder of Hamas' military wing in the West Bank. Aruri had served 15 years in an Israeli prison and was released in March, the Web site said. The IDF confirmed an arrest was made in the village of Arura, north of Ramallah, but provided no details. Earlier on Friday IDF soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man at a West Bank roadblock near the city of Hebron. The man was later identified as Shadi Matoor, 25. The IDF said Matoor had tried to enter a military outpost north of Kiryat Arba. When he did not respond to soldiers' calls to stop, the troops shot at him, the army said.According to a preliminary investigation, Matoor was unarmed. The man was seriously wounded and taken to a hospital in Hebron, where he later died of his wounds.
Sources in the IDF maintain that Matoor was wearing IDF army pants and high boots, and soldiers suspected he was attempting to infiltrate to the outpost.
Security forces nab 'Hezbollah-trained' suspect in W. Bank raid IDF and Border Police troops early Friday morning arrested three suspected militants in an overnight raid in the West Bank city of Nablus. Security forces said one of the suspects, Yusuf Abu Layla, is a senior member of the Fatah-affiliated Tanzim who had received training and instructions from Hezbollah to carry out terror attacks in Israel. The two other suspects are Moeib Hoteri, also of Tanzim, and Yusuf Mabruk, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. During the operation, soldiers opened fire on a car with five suspects that fled the scene, wounding one of the passengers. The wounded man and another suspect escaped, while the three others barricaded themselves in a building. Troops surrounded the structure and called on them to surrender. They were caught while trying to escape. No IDF soldiers were hurt in the firefight. Abu layla is an explosives device expert who planned bombings in Israel, the army said. In addition, it claimed he was involved in manufacturing suicide belts for Tanzim in Nablus, as well as training others how to make bombs.
The Arabs have been big part of their own sorry fate
By The Daily Star
Saturday, June 23, 2007
For all the myriad flaws of US and Israeli policy in the Middle East, no one who looks at the region with an unbiased eye can fail to note the Arabs' role in this season of their own discontent. From Algeria, Morocco and Sudan to Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine, government and opposition parties alike are engaged in all manner of underhanded and self-destructive activities. Arab regimes meddle in one another's domestic affairs with abandon and refuse to differentiate between sedition and legitimate dissent, preferring instead to repress both with equal enthusiasm. Many of those who rail against the current Arab condition refuse to offer policy platforms, lending credence to the theory that their only goal is to replace the existing order atop a mountain of authoritarianism and corruption. In essence, all are making war on one another and on their own peoples.
The region was not always this way. Even when conservative and revolutionary regimes clashed over how to deal with Israel and the West in the early years following the creation of the Jewish state, a certain decorum generally prevailed. Egypt's Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Saudi Arabia's King Faisal championed views that were diametrically opposed and even engaged in proxy warfare, but they also had enough respect for each other - and for the Arab world as a whole - to impose certain limits on just how far the contest could go.
Then came the bitterness over what some have described as the "lost victory" of 1973 and the premature peacemaking with Israel that cost Anwar Sadat his life. Soon whatever rules had ever existed were cast aside, and the region began its inexorable slide toward the wretched state that it knows today. The Arab League was never a decisive body, but now it more resembles a confederation of mafia dons that a grouping of sovereign governments. Its members pretend to act collectively, but since they agree on so little apart from the necessity of illegitimate rule, the acceptability of uncontrolled kleptocracy and the legitimacy of craven capitulation to various foreign masters, their real purpose is to rubberstamp a never-ending series of vague and vapid resolutions that are never implemented.
Nowhere is this sorry fact on more obvious display than in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq, places where the Arab world might be able to accomplish something if its constituents were concerned with the welfare of their peoples rather than phony expressions of respect for sovereignty. America and Israel have done plenty of damage to this part of the world, but its own rulers have gone along for the ride and/or cashed in on the consequences.
On Anniversary Of Capture, ADL Urges International Community To Press For Immediate Release Of Israeli Soldiers
New York, NY, June 22, 2007 … On the one-year anniversary of the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on human rights groups, the United Nations and the international community to speak out and demand his freedom, as well as that of two Israeli soldiers held captive by Hezbollah in Lebanon.
On June 25, 2006, Gilad Shalit, 20, was kidnapped by Hamas in an attack on a military installation on Israeli soil. Shalit remains in captivity in the Gaza Strip. Israel Defense Forces reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, kidnapped in a raid on Israel's northern border and taken into Lebanese territory by Hezbollah on July 12, 2006, also remain in captivity, their whereabouts and conditions unknown.
"The continued captivity of these young men after one year with no word as to their fate is unacceptable and a clear violation of international protocol," said Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, National Director. "The international community must demand their immediate and unconditional release."
In letters to the directors of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Human Rights First, ADL called on those groups to speak out and demand the release of the soldiers one year after their capture.
The League thanked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his previously speaking out on the issue and for meeting with families of the kidnapped soldiers. On the anniversary of Shalit's capture, Mr. Lewy and Mr. Foxman urged the Mr. Ban to "reinvigorate efforts" to demand the soldiers' release.
U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which set the terms of an Israeli-Hezbollah ceasefire in August 2006, calls for the "unconditional release" of the soldiers. The captors of Goldwasser and Regev have refused to provide any information to international relief agencies regarding their whereabouts or condition. Hezbollah and Hamas have also denied requests by the International Red Cross for access to the captives.
***The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.
How Far is Too Far?
Manuela Paraipan-Bucharest, Romania
June 22, 2007
This is a rare opportunity for both Syria and Lebanon to break ties with a past dominated by violence, insecurity and corrupted dictators.
That is the question Siniora's government and the Lebanese should ask when it comes to Lebanon and Syria's tortuous relationship.
Through Fatah al Islam a newly born and relatively unknown Islamist group, Damascus did what its best at. It created mayhem in Lebanon. Presumably coincidentally Fatah al Islam attacked the Lebanese army just when the talks about establishing the International Tribunal in Rafiq al Hariri's case were at their climax at UN. But this time neither the UN nor the Lebanese government took the bait.
The International Tribunal has been established through the UN Resolution 1757, under chapter VII as opposed to the other UN resolutions (1559, 1680,1701, 1636). Lebanon will be better off with chapter VII where the deliberations and outcomes of the tribunal to prosecute the Syrian and Lebanese criminals will not be tainted with any (Lebanese) bias, blackmail or intimidation attempts, but truly an international effort.
The resolution was sponsored by the United States, Britain, France, Belgium, Slovakia and Italy and brought in at the request of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.
Annahar (Arabic liberal publication) reported that hundreds of people celebrated in the streets this first important step, and Saad Hariri, the parliamentary majority leader thanked them and the international community for supporting this initiative from the get go.
The tribunal is necessary, not just for Rafiq Hariri but also for Pierre Gemayel, Gebran Tueni, Samir Kasir, all good men who have publicly stated that they want a Lebanon free of Syrian interference. Lets not forget that long before this chain of assassinations there were many others eliminated or unlawfully detained by Syria. They too deserve justice.
Evidently President Assad refuses to accept the legitimacy of the international tribunal and he has often warned in the past two years that Syria will not go along with tribunal's demands and decisions. After almost 30 years of military and intelligence occupation, the Syrian Baath has the audacity of denying that it has ever harm the Lebanese or Lebanon as a national entity.
In the light of Serge Brammertz and Mehis reports that suggested Syrian and Lebanese involvement and cooperation at different levels in the assassination of Rafiq Harri it is comprehensible why President Assad together with his Lebanese counterpart and puppet, Emile Lahoud opposed the tribunal all along. If justice will prevail that may be the last we see of their regimes.
The same rhetoric uses Hezbollah, which declared that the tribunal is illegitimate and a hostile interference in internal affairs. If Hezbollah is truly concerned that Lebanon sovereignty is being pushed aside, then its refusal to disarm as requested by several UN resolutions, the Lebanese government and many citizens is difficult if not impossible to explain.
Moreover, if there isn't anything to hide, why fear the tribunal? It lacks reason.
This is a rare opportunity for both Syria and Lebanon to break ties with a past dominated by violence, insecurity and corrupted dictators. But there aren't any quick solutions.
The government should step up its reforms while fighting tooth and nail against terrorist factions, Palestinian, Syrian or Lebanese. The army at Nahr el Bared did a very good job and the population responded by largely supporting the army. But that is not enough. Lebanon cannot have two polls of power. It is either the militias or the government ruling the country.
Siniora's government immediate objectives should be:
To protect Lebanon's sovereignty
To seek justice for the victims of assassinations, Syrian hegemony and the bombings that plagued the country in the past few years
To continue to fight against terrorism
To implement the economic and fiscal reforms asked by Paris III conference in order to recover at least partially from the destruction brought by Hezbollah upon the country
Implement the UN 1559, 1680 and 1701
Border delimitations with Syria - by doing so, the problem of the Shebaa farms will also be solved
New electoral law
Amend the Constitution in order to stop political clientelism, diminish the negative influence of sectarianism and give meritocracy and transparency a chance - Presidential elections held in accordance with the Constitution
Too much is at stake now for the government to act coy and bow in front of 8 March pressure and plots.