DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 7,1-5. Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove that splinter from your eye,' while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye
Finding the Truth. By: Elias Harfouch. June 26/07
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources
for June 26/06/07
Two Lebanese Soldiers Killed in Nahr al-Bared-Naharnet
Lebanon Blames Fatah al-Islam for the Attack on UNIFIL-Naharnet
Spain Mourns Its Soldiers Killed in South Lebanon-Naharnet
Lebanon: UN attack is a 'challenge to the international community'-Ya Libnan
UN peacekeepers vow to stay in Lebanon-Christian Science Monitor
Russia Condemns Killing of UNIFIL Troops-Naharnet
ICRC Deplores Hizbullah, Hamas for Lack of Access to 3 Israeli Soldiers-Naharnet
Attack on U.N. Peacekeepers Condemned-Naharnet
Clashes with Army Leave 10 Killed, Including 6 Terrorists-Naharnet
UN: Staying in Lebanon, despite bombing-Houston Chronicle
Car Bomb Targets U.N. Peacekeepers in the South, 6 Killed-Naharnet
Lebanon now a 'front line' for radical Islam-Middle East Times
Iran Establishes Missile Defense Shield in Syria-New York Sun
Crossfire War - Iran Warns Lebanon - Ultimatum-NewsBlaze
Rice for "Strong Message" to stop Syrian Intimidation in Lebanon-Naharnet
One Year After Lebanon War, Rice Insists Democracy Will Come to ...Naharnet
Rice defends US policy despite Mideast strife-Reuters
Bombing in South Lebanon kills five peacekeeping troops-Daily Star
Spanish Official Arrives in Lebanon-WRAL.com
Opposition warns of 'disaster' if unity government not formed-Daily Star
Fatah mainstream kills 3 Fatal al-Islam militants in north Lebanon-Ya Libnan
The only chance to defeat Hamas-Ha'aretz
Australian cleric supports Hezbollah-Daily Times
Hezbollah wants a president acceptable to all parties-Peninsula On-line
Australia's FM: 3 Alleged Australian Extremists Arrested in Lebanon-Naharnet
Australian killed, three arrested in Lebanon unrest-Sydney Morning Herald
Towards a dialogue between Israel and Syria?Guysen Israel News
Anti-Semitism on the increase since Lebanon war-Ya Libnan
Cabinet faces crucifixion for canceling Good Friday-Daily Star
Akkar backs army despite losses at Nahr al-Bared -Daily Star
Bombing in South Lebanon kills five peacekeeping troops -Daily Star
Army slays six militants in Tripoli -Daily Star
Opposition warns of 'disaster' if unity government not formed -Daily Star
US to blacklist instigators of 'political discord' -Daily Star
Sfeir, Fadlallah blame outsiders for impasse -Daily Star
Cabinet faces crucifixion for canceling Good Friday -Daily Star
Ad campaign salutes military's sacrifices in bloody battle with Fatah al-Islam-Daily Star
Teen in custody for brutal slaying of 10-year-old boy -Daily Star
Attack on U.N. Peacekeepers Condemned
EU Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner on Monday condemned the "heinous attack" which killed six U.N. peacekeepers in southern Lebanon. "The European Commission condemns in the strongest terms the heinous attack perpetrated against Spanish peacekeeping troops in Lebanon," Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims of this attack, and with the Spanish people. Those responsible should be swiftly brought to justice," she added. The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, "calls on all Lebanon's politicians to unite in order to face the serious security challenges that Lebanon is currently facing." Ferrero-Waldner also urged Lebanese authorities "to take urgent measures to identify and counter those who would undermine efforts to ... bring stability and security to Lebanon's long-suffering population."
Israel expressed "deep sorrow" at the deaths and offered assistance "in any way required," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev.
Syria denounced the bombing, the country's official news agency reported. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told his Spanish counterpart in a telephone call that the attack was "a criminal act that aims at shaking security and stability in southern Lebanon." At a news conference in Paris, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also condemned the attack.(AFP-AP-Naharnet) (AP photo shows a Spanish U.N peacekeeper standing by a burnt out armored personnel carrier, damaged by the explosion) Beirut, 25 Jun 07, 10:56
Car Bomb Targets U.N. Peacekeepers in the South, 6 Killed
A car bomb killed six peacekeepers patrolling a road in the southern village of Khiam Sunday, the first such attack on the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon since it was reinforced last summer after the 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah. Hizbullah was quick to denounce the bombing, calling it in a statement a "suspicious act that harms the people of the south and of Lebanon."Prime Minister Fouad Saniora denounced the "suspicious terrorist attack," saying "it targets Lebanon's security and stability." Witnesses said the powerful blast set fire in the peacekeepers' vehicle which was moving on the main road just off Khiam, a major Hizbullah stronghold in south Lebanon. UNIFIL said in a statement that six troops from a Spanish contingent were killed and two others seriously wounded in an "apparent car bomb attack" while they were on patrol. Initial reports said five soldiers serving in the Spanish army were killed and four others wounded after the blast.
Lebanese officials said it appeared the explosion was triggered by remote control. No body parts were found in the car, meaning the bomb was detonated from a distance and did not involve a suicide attacker. UNIFIL commander Major-General Claudio Graziano of Italy said the bombing was aimed at destabilizing the region.
"It's not an attack against Lebanon and UNIFIL only but against the stability of the region. This attack has made UNIFIL more committed to fulfill its mission in southern Lebanon," he said in a statement. In Madrid, Defense Minister Jose Antonio Alonso said Spain will continue to take part in the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon despite the roadside bombing. "Spain supports and will continue to support the United Nations UNIFIL mission," he told a televised news conference.
"This mission was deployed to introduce peace and security to a region which has been especially punished, a region which suffered a terrible war last summer and where it was possible to restore peace thanks to the work of UNIFIL," he said.Alonso arrived in Lebanon on Monday to visit his country's troops in the aftermath of the deadly attack. (AP-AFP-Naharnet) (AP photo shows Spanish U.N peacekeepers carrying one of their dead colleagues) Beirut, 25 Jun 07, 07:40
One Year After Lebanon War, Rice Insists Democracy Will Come to Mideast
Nearly a year after she was ridiculed for calling the Israel-Hizbullah war "the birth pangs of a new Middle East," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is insisting democracy will still come to the Mideast whatever the setbacks. In Paris for talks on the future of Sudan's ravaged Darfur region and a meeting with Premier Fouad Saniora, Rice acknowledged the bad news coming from Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. "Democracy is hard, and I see it as especially hard when there are determined enemies who try and strangle it," Rice said when asked about the "birth pangs" remark during a news conference with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. In Lebanon, the army had deployed in the south and had fought extremist groups in the Palestinian camps for the first time in decades, she said. The Lebanese had "gained a great deal."
Kouchner organized Monday's conference to speed deployment of about 20,000 new peacekeeping troops to Darfur. "I have seen firsthand the devastation and the difficult circumstances in which people live in Darfur, and I will be very frank," Rice said. "I do not think that the international community has really lived up to its responsibilities there." Rice's two-day Paris trip is a coming-out party for what the Bush administration hopes will be a happier relationship with new French President Nicolas Sarkozy after perceived slights and lectures from his predecessor, Jacques Chirac. Sarkozy and Rice were meeting Monday ahead of the Darfur session. She is seeing Saniora on Tuesday.
Rice welcomed another summit Monday between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Egypt, calling Arab support for embattled Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas more important than his Western backing. She acknowledged the difficulties Abbas has faced since his rivals Hamas won Palestinian elections last year.
It will be the first meeting between the Palestinian president and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert since Abbas lost control to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and consolidated power under an emergency government in the West Bank. The birth analogy caused anger and eye-rolling across the Middle East, and Rice has dropped it from her rhetoric. She had made the remark during a frantic shuttle diplomacy mission last summer that neither ended Israel's 34-day war with Hizbullah nor helped the U.S. image as a go-between.
Questioned by Western and Arab reporters Sunday, Rice gave a forceful defense of the principle behind the words -- that violence and hardship may be necessary to achieve freedom, and that the forces of moderation and democracy will win out against what Rice calls extremists. "Yeah, it's really hard. It's hard for democracy to take hold in a place where it has not taken hold before, but I am confident about the triumph of these values because I've seen it before," Rice said.
"There is nothing wrong with the people of the Middle East," she added. "They can triumph and triumph democratically." The secretary of state refuted the argument of her opponents that the Middle East had been more stable before the U.S. intervention in Iraq. "People say, well, the Middle East was stable. What stability? The stability in which Saddam Hussein put 300,000 people in mass graves? That was stability? The stability in which the Syrian forces were embedded in Lebanon? That was stability?(AP-AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 25 Jun 07, 09:37
Australia's FM: 3 Alleged Australian Extremists Arrested in Lebanon
Three Australians are among alleged Islamic extremists arrested after fighting against Lebanese soldiers in the northern port city of Tripoli, Australia's foreign minister said Monday. Officials in Canberra were also checking reports that two other Australians were killed in the fighting, Alexander Downer said.
He did not release the names or other identifying factors of the arrested men, or the date they were detained. "They've been arrested as a result of fighting between the Lebanese army and Islamic extremists and they certainly weren't in the Lebanese army," Downer told reporters. "The allegation against these three is that they were involved with an Islamist extremist organization," he said. "The fact that the Lebanese authorities have arrested them and done so in Tripoli by the security forces suggests rather obviously that they had very significant security concerns about these people," he said. Lebanese troops on Sunday raided an apartment complex housing al-Qaida-inspired militants in Tripoli's Abu Samra district, sparking a gunbattle that killed six terrorists, Lebanese security officials said. The six dead militants were three Saudi nationals, one ethnic Chechen and two Lebanese who also held foreign passports, said the officials. Downer did not indicate whether the Australians were arrested in Sunday's raid.(AP-Naharnet) (AP photo shows Lebanese citizens looking at the damaged building where Lebanese troops clashed with militants in Tripoli) Beirut, 25 Jun 07, 08:53
Clashes with Army Leave 10 Killed, Including 6 Terrorists
Lebanese troops on Sunday busted an apartment compound suspected of housing Islamic terrorists, sparking fierce clashes that left 10 people killed, including six militants, and 13 others wounded, security sources said.
Reliable sources told Naharnet among the terrorists killed were three Saudis, a Russian from Chechnya and two Lebanese.
An army soldier, a police officer and three family members were among those killed in the fighting, which began with an army bust targeting a terrorist hideout in Tripoli's Abu Samra district late Saturday, the sources said.
The officer, Khaled Khodor, was visiting his father-in-law, Mohammed Abdul Rahman Deeb, with his four-year-old daughter, Nadine, at the Shahal residential compound when fighting broke out. The terrorists had used them as human shields, the sources said.
The daily An Nahar on Monday said among the wounded were also four Lebanese army officers.
The clashes appear to be a spill over from the ongoing confrontation with terrorists in the Nahr al-Bared camp.
Security sources said the clashes broke out late Saturday as an army unit raided the Shahal compound in search of "wanted terrorists affiliated with Fatah al-Islam."
The army unit, according to the sources, came under fire as the troops tried to search the building.
The compound was pounded by tank cannons and the troops stormed it behind a curtain of heavy automatic fire after residents were evacuated, the sources said.
The army confiscated "large quantities" of weapons and explosives from the Shahal compound during the bust, the sources said.
Army units besieged surrounding olive groves and launched a hunt for other terrorists believed led by a Lebanese Basil as-Sayed, a reputed Salafist from north Lebanon.
One source, however, said Sayed was killed in the clash at the Shahal compound.
The clashes, the first in Tripoli since outbreak of the confrontation with Fatah al-Islam terrorists on May 20, followed a proposal by the Salafi movement in north Lebanon for the formation of a "Sharia Islamist court" to try Fatah al-Islam terrorists holed up in a tiny enclave at the heart of Nahr al-Bared camp, 12 kilometers north of Tripoli. Beirut, 24 Jun 07, 09:58
Sfeir, Fadlallah blame outsiders for impasse
Daily Star staff-Monday, June 25, 2007
BKIRKI: Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir said on Sunday that the main hindrance to resolving the country's seven-month-old political standoff was the fact that Lebanon's political camps were no longer "in control of the destiny of their country." "The secretary general of the Arab League visited Lebanon and met with leaders across the political spectrum to try to bridge gaps, but his visit ended in vain," Sfeir said during Sunday Mass at Notre Dame Church in Bkirki. "Unfortunately, it has become known to all that external forces, instead of Lebanese politicians, give the green light for a solution in Lebanon."Arab League chief Amr Moussa visited Beirut for four days last week in a bid to broker an agreement between the government and the opposition. Sfeir expressed hope that the Lebanese would "realize" that they had lost agency and become aware of the fact that external forces, "as unbiased as they might be," would rather "fulfill the interests of their own countries than fulfill Lebanon's interests.""Still," he added, "we have great hopes that the Lebanese will overcome their skirmishes and rise again."
"The state of peace and prosperity the Lebanese have sought for 30 years now is likely to reign one day, despite mild differences in opinions and sectarian diversity," he said.Sfeir said Lebanon's 18 sects will live in "peace and harmony" as long as no external forces interfere in their internal affairs. Senior Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah also condemned on Sunday foreign intervention in Lebanese affairs, holding the United States in particular responsible for the escalation of tensions in this country. "The Bush administration is to be held responsible for the political crisis in Lebanon, this crisis which is likely to have drastic repercussions on the political, economic and perhaps security levels in the country," Fadlallah said in a statement. Fadlallah said the US had rejected "any form" of dialogue in Lebanon and the Arab world "because it is keen on sowing violence and skirmishes in the Arab world so as to preserve Israel's interests." - The Daily Star
Spanish official arrives in Lebanon
By SAM F. GHATTAS Associated Press Writers
© 2007 The Associated Press
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Spain's defense minister arrived in southern Lebanon Monday to collect the bodies of six U.N. peacekeepers slain in a car bombing, as the U.N. commander stressed the force remained committed to keeping the peace between Lebanon and Israel. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the bombing Sunday that killed six members of the Spanish contingent, including three Colombians, and seriously wounded two others. But the anti-Syrian coalition in parliament blamed Damascus, despite its condemnation of the bombing. Before flying to the Marjayoun area of southern Lebanon near the border with Israel where the contingent has its headquarters, Spanish Defense Minister Jose Antonio Alonso called the bombing a "premeditated attack" and said the "most likely cause" was a car bomb or device activated by remote control. The peacekeepers were patrolling the main road between the towns of Marjayoun and Khiam, a few kilometers north of the Israeli town of Metulla, when the bomb struck their armored personnel carrier.
Alonso said Sunday that three Colombian and two Spanish peacekeepers were among the dead. Spain has 1,100 peacekeepers in Lebanon, part of the 13,000-member U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon from 30 countries, which first deployed in Lebanon in 1978 and was reinforced in the last year. UNIFIL, along with 15,000 Lebanese troops, patrols a zone along the Lebanese-Israeli border. UNIFIL's presence puts teeth in U.N. cease-fire resolution 1701 that halted last summer's 34-day war. Southern Lebanon has been largely quiet after the summer war killed more than 1,200 people, most of them in Lebanon.
The attack, the first since UNIFIL was reinforced following last year's war, came as the U.N. has become increasingly involved in highly divisive issues in Lebanon, including its tense relations with neighboring Syria. U.N. resolutions have dealt with Lebanon's borders with Israel and Syria, Palestinian guerrilla and Hezbollah weapons, as well as an international tribunal to try the killers of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The UNIFIL commander, Gen. Claudio Graziano of Italy, called the attack the "most serious incident" since the end of the Hezbollah-Israel war, saying "the perpetrators not only targeted UNIFIL but peace and security in the area."
Graziano added that UNIFIL "remains committed more than ever to its mission," according to a UNIFIL statement late Sunday.
Western-backed Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora condemned the "suspicious terrorist attack," saying "it targets Lebanon's security and stability"
Media reports earlier this month said interrogations by Lebanese authorities with captured al-Qaida-inspired militants revealed plots to attack the U.N. force. The warnings became more serious after fighting erupted May 20 between Fatah Islam and Lebanese troops at the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in the north. The militants have threatened to expand the battle to other parts of Lebanon.
In addition, al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, in videos broadcast in September, has denounced the reinforced UNIFIL. But the majority anti-Syrian coalition in Lebanon's parliament has accused Damascus of being behind the bombing. "This attack falls within the framework of the same terrorist project the Syrian regime is waging against Lebanon, its stability and independence, . . . through explosions and assassination," said a statement issued late Sunday by the group.
The coalition has regularly blamed Syria for attacks in Lebanon, beginning with the assassination of Hariri in 2005, a suicide truck bombing in Beirut that caused an international uproar, forcing Damascus to pull its army out of Lebanon after nearly three decades of control. Since then, a series of attacks against anti-Syrian figures have been blamed on Syria, including a recent car bombing that killed a prominent anti-Syrian lawmaker. Damascus has denied involvement in such attacks.
The coalition has also blamed Syria for the conflict with Fatah Islam that has killed more than 150 people.Syria and its main Lebanon ally Hezbollah have condemned the attack. So did the United States and France.Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told his Spanish counterpart in a telephone call that the attack was "a criminal act that aims at shaking security and stability in southern Lebanon," Damascus' official news agency reported Sunday. Syria has warm relations with Spain despite its tense ties to other European countries and the United States. Moallem visited Madrid in recent weeks.The Shiite Muslim Hezbollah called the attack a "suspicious act that harms the people of the south and of Lebanon." The militant group has had good relations with UNIFIL.
Lebanon now a 'front line' for radical Islam
AFP-June 25, 2007
BEIRUT -- A call by Al Qaeda number two Ayman Al Zawahiri to flood Lebanon with foreign Islamic extremists appears to have been heard, according to analysts monitoring jihadist groups. Last year, during the 34-day war between Israel and the Shiite Hezbollah, Osama Bin Laden's Egyptian deputy exhorted Muslims to "support the mujahedeen" and to "transfer the jihad to the borders of Palestine with the aid of Allah."
Since 2003 anti-American insurgents have been coming and going between Lebanon and Iraq, Lebanese and foreign analysts say. They use Lebanon as a base for rest and recuperation, and to train. Last year, after the July to August war, a previously unknown organization calling itself Fatah Al Islam announced its presence in the Nahr Al Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. Grouping radical Lebanese Sunni Muslims, veterans of the Iraq insurgency, and foreign extremists, it espoused views similar to those of Al Qaeda. Since May 20 this year, Fatah Al Islam fighters have been under siege by the Lebanese army at the refugee camp in a continuing standoff that has so far killed at least 157 people, including 80 soldiers and more than 55 Islamists. The Lebanese authorities and foreign analysts based in Beirut say the Nahr Al Bared siege is just the tip of the iceberg. "Al Qaeda is present in Lebanon," defense minister Elias Murr has said. "There are terrorist cells ready to strike and there are threats of new attacks." Overnight Saturday, security forces raided the apartment of an Islamist in the northern port city of Tripoli, sparking a firefight with Fatah Al Islam that resulted in the deaths of 10 people, including six Islamists.
"Nahr Al Bared could make things worse," said one Western diplomat in Beirut. "Ninety percent of Lebanese support their army, but an active minority will be susceptible to radical propaganda. On the Internet they call the Christian head of state the 'crusader general,' and the impact of pictures of US planes with cargoes of weapons at Beirut airport has been devastating." Washington supplied military equipment to Lebanon to help the army in its battle against the Islamists holed up inside Nahr Al Bared. A rumor is also circulating among jihadist Internet forums that ships from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon patrolling the coast after last year's war have fired on Nahr Al Bared. "It is false, of course," said the diplomat. "But if enough people believe it that does not matter - the effect is the same."
In Tripoli a man so close to local Sunni radicals that he did not want to be identified said that among the militants in Nahr Al Bared are some who fought against the army in Denniyeh. In December 1999 Sunni fighters battled the army in that mountainous region east of Tripoli. Thirty people were killed, among them 11 soldiers and 15 militants.
"I know that Fatah Al Islam has cells in Tripoli. They are keeping a low profile so they are not discovered. They are being monitored, but they are still at liberty. What are they planning exactly?" he said. Retired army general Whebe Katisha called the situation very worrying. "From now on the military will try to prevent the militants from basing themselves inside secure areas such as some Palestinian refugee camps. Drain the water to expose the fish. There may be isolated cells inside."
By long-standing convention, the Lebanese army does not enter the 12 official Palestinian refugee camps in the country, leaving interior security to Palestinian factions.
Commentator Elias Hanna, another retired general, said that "the army gave a deterrent example in Nahr Al Bared for other groups" of extremists. "It was a good base, close to the Syrian border, easy to manipulate for Damascus intelligence. It is not going to be so easy in other camps, where Palestine Liberation Organization influence is stronger." According to the Western diplomat: "Lebanon is no longer a base in the rear - it is the front line. The seed has been planted.
"Nahr Al Bared will radicalize some groups and enable their plans to take root. And if the Fatah Al Islam leaders never come out they will become legends, new Zarqawis," he said, referring to Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, the former head of Al Qaeda in Iraq who was killed by a US airstrike last year.
Iran Establishes Missile Defense Shield in Syria
By CON COUGHLIN-The Daily Telegraph
June 25, 2007
Iran is deploying missiles in Syria in preparation for military action if it is attacked over its nuclear program, U.N. officials in the region said.
Under a mutual defense pact signed between Damascus and Tehran in 2005, Syria agreed to the deployment of sophisticated weaponry on its territory.
The Iranians have now decided to implement the agreement following a meeting last month of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, which is chaired by a former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Iran is preparing to transfer dozens of medium-range Shahab-3 and Russian-made Scud-C missiles, together with Scud-B missiles. Most of the missiles can be fired from mobile launchers and are capable of hitting targets right across Israel. " Iran is preparing itself for the possibility of military action over its nuclear program," a senior U.N. official in Lebanon said."If Iran is attacked then this will give it a number of retaliation options."
U.N. officials said work on the new missile storage facilities will begin next month and will take about a year to complete.
Besides shipping the weapons, Iran has also sent missile engineers to help to train the Syrian military and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite Muslim group with which Israel fought last year's war. In addition, Iran is reported to have made similar arrangements with the Sudanese government to enable it to attack pro-Western Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia. Tehran's decision to deploy missiles abroad is taken at a time when it finds itself under mounting international pressure over its nuclear program.
Last week, it announced that it had processed 100 kilograms of uranium to a level that would enable it to move quickly toward producing weapons-grade material.
In a separate development, Russia was reported last week to be about to sell advanced fighter jets to Syria in a move that is already causing disquiet in Israel
Crossfire War - Iran Warns Lebanon - Ultimatum
By Willard Payne
Crossfire War - TEHRAN - RIYADH - DAMASCUS WATCH - West Asia Theatre: Tehran - Riyadh - Damascus - Nahr al-Bared - Ein el-Hilweh/Tripoli - Sidon - Beirut - Paris - Rome - Jerusalem - Cairo - Washington; Iran Charge d'Affaires in Beirut Delivers Threatening Message from Iran Foreign Minister Mottaki
Night Watch: BEIRUT - It has just been reported Tehran has had its Charge d'Affaires in Beirut, Mojtaba Ferdousipour, deliver a verbal message from Iran Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in a meeting with Lebanon Deputy Foreign Minister Heshan Damashiqiyeh.
Since Tehran/Beirut are on opposite ends of regional issues, with Iran leading the Islamic world against the West, while Beiurt, led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, is still working closely with Paris and the West. Then obviously, the message was not congratulatory, nor did it convey any conciliation concerning the death of Lebanese soldiers caused by the fighting at Nahr al-Bared near Tripoli. Nor is Tehran about to express any regret at causing the fighting, which is still going on, this new threat to Siniora. Therefore, I suspect what the message said was if Siniora does not announce new elections and an expanded cabinet, which would represent more of Lebanon's diverse political parties, then violence will spread to other Palestinian refugee camp-cities all over the country, which would compel Hezbollah-Damascus-Tehran to fulfill their regional-spiritual obligations and support them more directly by intervening openly in the conflict. [IRNA]
This message actually amounts to an ultimatum with the express purpose of announcing to Siniora, if he didn't know already, that Tehran - Damascus want to remove Lebanon from the West's sphere of influence in the region. I cannot see Siniora ever agreeing to it, because he may be connected to Paris financially, so I expect violence to spread right after the current visit of Iran Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs, Mohammad-Reza Baqeri, in Damascus, where he is meeting with representatives of Palestinian militant groups based in Gaza-West Bank-Lebanon. Baqeri arrived in Damascus Friday night for a three-day visit.
Night Watch Information Service
Fatah mainstream kills 3 Fatal al-Islam militants in north Lebanon
Sunday, 24 June, 2007 @ 5:01 PM
Nahr el- Bared - Fighters of the Fatah mainstream organization that is headed by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas have entered the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp and killed 3 Fatah al-Islam militants The above was based on information provided by Abu Emad Allouni , Fatah mainstream representative at the camp.
Abbas has voiced his strong support to the Lebanese government in its fight against Fatah Al-Islam, who have absolutely no relationship whatsoever with Fatah mainstream according to him. Fatah al-Islam is a branch of Fatah al-Intifada, which is part of the Syrian intelligence operation , created to oppose Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization and to destabilize the Palestinian camps in Lebanon. The Lebanese army has been fighting against the Fatah al-Islam militants since May 20
Cabinet faces crucifixion for canceling Good Friday
Daily Star staff-Monday, June 25, 2007
BEIRUT: The Cabinet's decision to no longer acknowledge Good Friday as an official national holiday triggered an outcry from a number of prominent Lebanese Christians over the weekend. Good Friday is "a central day in Christian culture," Jbeil Maronite Archbishop Bishara Raii said during an interview with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC) Saturday. "Canceling it as a holiday is a violation of Christian norms.
"The government should have consulted with various Christian religious figures before issuing any decisions. Christians would never allow such a key day to be simply left off calendars," Raii said. Tourism Minister Joe Sarkis had defended the move, saying that the government had intended to make Lebanon's holidays "the same as those of other Arab countries." In response, Raii said the holidays celebrated in Lebanon should not be compared with other Arab countries, because it is "known that Lebanon has particular demographic and religious characteristics that ought to be preserved."
The Cabinet had voted in December to alter the official schedule of holidays, but the decision was only published in the Official Gazette last week.
The Cabinet had also approved other changes to the official holiday schedule - making the Monday after Easter a holiday and removing one day from the two-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. In a bid to clarify the stance of Christian ministers concerning the matter, Culture Minister Tarek Mitri called Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir to brief him on the decision, telling the prelate that the move "in no way stems from political or sectarian considerations."
Local daily An-Nahar quoted Mitri in an article published Sunday as saying that he had informed Sfeir of the government's willingness to "modify its decree to abide by any decision the Christian clerics make."Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea expressed concern that Christian ministers did not show "much vigilance" regarding the issue of the distribution of holidays, given "all the meanings associated with Good Friday." The opposition "is manipulating Good Friday," Geagea said on LBC Sunday morning. "They want to give the decision political dimensions." Geagea also rejected media reports that blamed Premier Fouad Siniora for the move, saying: "Siniora did not cancel the holiday ... No one person can. " The government is trying to promote the economy by decreasing the number of holidays for both Muslims and Christians," Geagea said. Former MP Suleiman Franjieh's Marada Movement condemned Sunday the Cabinet's actions as "yet another step undertaken by the Siniora government to marginalize Christians even more," and called on the government to apologize for their "sin." - The Daily Star
Lebanese Soldiers Killed in Nahr al-Bared
Fatah al-Islam terrorists, opening fire from sniper nests, shot dead two Lebanese soldiers at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp Monday.
A communiqué released by the army command identified the "martyrs" as Captain Fadi Ibrahim Abdullah and Corporal Khaled Ahmed Taleb.
The communiqué did not say how the two were killed, but reliable sources said they were shot by Fatah al-Islam snipers who opened fire at army troops besieging them in a narrow enclave within the Nahr al-Bared camp.That brought to 82 the number of soldiers killed since the ongoing confrontation broke out on May 20.
The Lebanese government of Premier Fouad Saniora describes Fatah al-Islam as a gang of terrorists affiliated with Syrian President Bashar Assad's intelligence apparatus. Damascus denies the charge and says Fatah al-Islam, headed by Palestinian Shaker Abssi, is wanted in Syria. Lebanese security forces have busted several terrorist networks affiliated with Fatah al-Islam in north, east and Mount Lebanon. The Lebanese government also blamed a booby-trapped attack that killed six U.N. peacekeepers in south Lebanon Sunday on Fatah al-Islam affiliated terrorists.
ICRC Deplores Hizbullah, Hamas for Lack of Access to 3 Israeli Soldiers
The International Committee of the Red Cross has said it "deeply" deplores the refusal of Hizbullah and Palestinian groups to grant it access to three captured Israeli soldiers in Lebanon and Gaza. "We expect, as a minimum humanitarian gesture, that any detained person be allowed to show their families that they are still alive," ICRC head Jakob Kellenberger said on the ICRC's website. "In the case of the three Israeli soldiers, we deeply deplore the fact that the Hizbullah in Lebanon and the Palestinian factions in Gaza have so far denied our delegates access, and that several attempts to transmit family news such as Red Cross messages or to obtain a sign of life were rejected," he added. Apart from Gilad Shalit who is held in Gaza, the ICRC chief was also referring to Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were captured by Hizbullah in Lebanon on July 12, 2006. "We do not take "no" for an answer and will not give up. We will follow up on any leads that may present themselves," he said. Kellenberger reiterated an appeal to respect international humanitarian law, which governs the humane treatment of prisoners including by allowing them to contact their families. Hamas on Monday released an audio message purportedly from Shalit urging Israel to bow to his captors' demands and saying his health is failing. Shalit, who is now 20, was wounded during a deadly cross-border raid claimed by the armed wing of Hamas and two other radical Palestinian groups. He had not been seen or heard in public since his disappearance. In his interview, Kellenberger said the ICRC's priority was "to get at least a sign of life" about the three, and underlined that the agency maintained regular contact with the "relevant authorities" and the soldiers' families.(AFP)
Russia Condemns Killing of UNIFIL Troops
Russia Monday condemned the killing of six soldiers from the Spanish contingent of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon, saying it was a challenge to the international community. "Moscow firmly condemns a provocation by terrorists against the members of UNIFIL (the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon)," a foreign ministry statement said. "It is a challenge launched at the entire international community, a criminal attempt to block efforts aiming to normalize" the situation in the country. Moscow called for an investigation to identify the culprits, the statement noted.
The six U.N. peacekeepers were killed by a car bomb in southern Lebanon on Sunday, which a Lebanese security source said was detonated by remote control as their armored vehicle passed by. It was the first attack on the U.N. since the war between Israel and the Shiite Hizbullah ended in August 2006 in line with UN. Security Council Resolution 1757.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 25 Jun 07, 19:20
Lebanon Blames Fatah al-Islam for the Attack on UNIFIL
Lebanon on Monday linked a bomb attack that killed six U.N. peacekeepers in the south to a deadly standoff between terrorists and the army in the north.
Information Minister Ghazi Aridi pointed a finger at the Islamists, based on confessions extracted from Fatah al-Islam gunmen captured during fierce fighting at a Palestinian refugee camp which is now in its sixth week. Security has been tightened in south Lebanon following the attack, which has further rattled the fragile security situation in the deeply divided country. "There is a link between the attack which targeted the Spanish contingent of UNIFIL and the combat between the Lebanese army and the terrorists of Fatah al-Islam in Nahr al-Bared," Aridi told reporters after a cabinet meeting.
"Lebanon is the victim of a terrorist wave striking from the north to the south in which the latest target was the Spanish contingent. This attack was preceded by confessions from arrested terrorists about preparations against UNIFIL." It was the first fatal attack on peacekeepers since the UN Interim Force in Lebanon's mandate was expanded last year in the wake of a devastating 34-day war between Israeli troops and the Hizbullah Shiite militia.
Lebanese legal sources, quoting confessions from detained fighters, said earlier this month that Fatah al-Islam -- which emerged in the Nahr al-Bared camp late last year -- was planning to attack U.N. peacekeepers.
Abu Salim Taha, a spokesman for the extremist group, had accused UNIFIL forces of siding with the army and threatened to attack the Blue Helmets.
Security was heightened in the south on Monday where Spanish Defense Minister Jose Antonio Alonso was visiting his country's troops after the blast, which killed three Spaniards and three Colombian nationals. No one has claimed the attack, which a Lebanese security source said was carried out by car bomb detonated by remote control. It struck as the peacekeepers' armored vehicle passed by in the Marjayoun-Khiam valley, an area about 10 kilometers (six miles) from the Israeli border. A Spanish colonel told Agence France Presse it was a "deliberate attack".
"This attack was very well prepared in advance," the officer said at the scene. "The bodies of two of the victims were blown several meters (yards) by the force of the blast." UNIFIL commander Major-General Claudio Graziano of Italy said the bombing was aimed at destabilizing the region.
"It's not an attack against Lebanon and UNIFIL only but against the stability of the region. This attack has made UNIFIL more committed to fulfill its mission in southern Lebanon," he said in a statement. Hizbullah too was quick to condemn the bombing in an area considered its stronghold. "This act of aggression is aimed at increasing insecurity in Lebanon, especially in the south of the country," it said.
UNIFIL first deployed in Lebanon in 1978 after an Israeli invasion but was expanded from some 2,000 members after the July-August war between Israel and Hizbullah guerrillas who dominated the south of the country. It now has 13,225 soldiers from 30 nations, including nearly 1,100 from Spain.
The attack came on top of a series of car bombings targeting anti-Syrian politicians in and around Beirut and as the army pursued its fight against Fatah al-Islam terrorists. At least 157 people, including 80 soldiers and 55 Islamists, have died in the standoff.
Lebanon's pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud said the attack on UNIFIL was part of a "campaign of destabilization".
EU Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner condemned it as a "heinous attack" and said those responsible should be swiftly brought to justice.
In the north, 11 people died in clashes in the port city of Tripoli overnight Saturday, including six Sunni Islamists from Fatah al-Islam and a policeman's 10-year-old daughter. It was the first clash in the mainly Sunni Muslim city since the fighting between Fatah al-Islam and the army in Tripoli and Nahr al-Bared began on May 20.
Three Australian men were also arrested in Tripoli at the weekend and are allegedly Islamist extremists involved in the clashes, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 25 Jun 07, 16:38
Truth about Syria's interference in Lebanon
Monday, 25 June, 2007
Beirut - Contrary to what the Syrian leadership is trying to publicize about its current 'neutral' stances and its 'non-interference' in the details of Lebanese internal divergences, the latest declarations made by Syrian Vice President Farouk el-Shara in a meeting alleged to have been held with the media, showed another aspect of this orientation and unveiled Damascus's clear and constant stance.
These declarations were published when the initiative of Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa was at its peak in Beirut among an Arab mission to revive the interrupted dialogue among Lebanese leaders. Therefore, these declarations appeared to be addressed to this very initiative and also to its curators, especially because they expressed Syria's opinion about a group of thorny points representing the core of Lebanese disputes. Some of these points are the National Unity Government, the relations between Beirut and Damascus, and the legitimacy of the Fouad Siniora government and of the parliamentary majority.
With regard to the government, the Syrian Vice President believes that it is not possible to achieve anything different than the idea based on creating a national unity government and that without this, Lebanon will not stabilize. The idea of a national unity government is optimal in principle, and was proposed before independent ministers were asked to withdraw from the government. Likewise, the majority team in Lebanon is not opposed to this government. It has affirmed this many times and repeated it during Amr Moussa's Lebanese mission. Considering the non-formation of the government to be a gateway to Lebanon's 'instability' is, at least, an example of interference in an internal affair, a matter unacceptable to the norms of international relations. At most, and specifically with respect to Syria, this opinion means 'inciting' to link the current instability and the continuous assassinations in Lebanon to the opposition's request concerning the government.
Respectively, Shara does not conceal his clear 'estimation' of the size of the majority in the government and parliament, although the overwhelming majority of Arab and foreign countries have acknowledged it. He believes that 'a bunch of politicians' in Lebanon cannot bring Syria to cut its relations (what relations?), close its borders and enter into an armed conflict, even if these politicians had a 'portion of the Lebanese masses'(!). He added, "In Lebanon we have stronger allies than others, if they wanted to use this power."
The Syrian Vice President was certainly referring to military power, since the political one is not in the hands of Syria's allies, as he complains. In fact, no national unity government has been formed so far. When speaking of the military power of Syria's allies, what crops into one's mind is not the team led by General Michel Aoun, for instance, or Talal Arsalan. Indeed, what one immediately thinks of is Hezbollah, the strongest team - militarily speaking - in the Lebanese arena as a result of its intense armament used previously to carry out resistance and currently to remain in a state of readiness! Therefore, one must at this point consider Hezbollah leadership's opinion about this issue. Does it think that the party's 'military power' has now become something to be used based on the request of the Syrian 'ally'?
There is one positive point left that one must refer to and thank the Syrian Vice President for raising: Lebanon has matured and become capable of solving its own problems with no Syrian or Arab military interference. We hope that this position truly expresses Syria's political intentions in this stage and that it is not only a way to inhibit any other Arab role in Lebanon aimed at rescuing the country from the standstill in which it is now stuck and preventing it from emerging among all other countries for its political and security situation.
In front of these Syrian positions, which have become sincere and clear, it is now politically naïve to believe that the dispute among the Lebanese people is contained within Lebanon itself and that a solution can be found through a meeting of a group of leaders representing the two contending parties. As Amr Moussa has found out at the end of the mission, which has failed to achieve its goal, the decision of a team of the opposition comes from abroad. This is proved by the remarkable contradiction between the opposition's acceptance of the settlement projects that it itself had partially proposed and that is backing down on after a short while, under the shadow, or the pressure, of foreign stances.
By: Elias Harfouch