LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 1,39-56. During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever." Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
The Hariri court is out of Lebanon's hands - but a healthy debate is not.Daily Star. June 1/07
Bush and 'Plan B-H,' meaning it's back to Baker-Hamilton.By David Ignatius. June 1/07
Exploiting Ali Larijani's notable idea.By Michael Young. June 1/07
Supporting the Democratic Opposition in Syria.By Joseph Puder. May 1/07
Latest News Reports
From Miscellaneous Sources for June 1/05/07
G8 Backs 'Legitimate' Lebanese Government-Naharnet
U.N. Sets Up Tribunal to Try Hariri's Killers-Naharnet
Hariri Supporters Dance in Streets After U.N. OKs Tribunal-Naharnet
Emotional Saad Hariri Urges Lebanese to Join Hands-Naharnet
20 Suspected Fatah Islam Militants Charged with Terrorism-Naharnet
U.N. Probe Commission Collecting Samples from Saudi Arabia-Naharnet
France, Britain: 1757 Reveals There Shall Be No Impunity for Killers-Naharnet
Hezbollah has returned to positions near the Israeli border with ...Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Rice to Israel: Don't push Syria peace.Jerusalem Post
Damascus tells UN Lebanon smuggling weapons into Syria.Ha'aretz
Lebanon: Hezbollah Might End Protest.Stratfor
Brief lull in fighting allows aid into Nahr al-Bared-Daily Star
UN approves Hariri court-Daily Star
ISF beefs up patrols across country, especially Beirut-Daily Star
Politicians voice mixed reactions to Lahoud's 'salvation' initiative-Daily Star
Committee 'improving' Palestinians' lives-Daily Star
Fadlallah accuses US of 'spoiling' internal accord-Daily Star
Nahr al-Bared refugees balk at UN proposal for temporary shelters-Daily Star
Beirut? Beyrouth? Conference tackles transliteration-Daily Star
Sidon engineer laments loss of children 'kidnapped' by wife-Daily Star
Hariri Hospital commits to training BAU students-Daily Star
'A movement to promote emotional stability'-Daily Star
Called to account: Young activists target graft in high places-Daily Star
U.N. Sets Up Tribunal to Try
The U.N. Security Council voted Wednesday to set up an international tribunal to prosecute suspects in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri which shook Lebanon two years ago. Fire works lit up the night sky over Beirut in celebration of the court's establishment. A concussion bomb exploded near Mar Mikhael Church in Beirut's Shiyyah district just as news of the court's creation was announced around 11 p.m. The 15-member council adopted a legally binding resolution that sets June 10 as the date for the entry into force of a 2006 agreement between the United Nations and the Beirut government to establish the court.
Ten countries voted in favor, with veto-wielding members Russia and China as well as South Africa, Indonesia and Qatar -- three non-permanent members -- abstaining. Hariri and 22 other people were killed in a massive bomb blast in February 2005, widely blamed on Syria, which was then forced to end nearly 30 years of military and political domination in Lebanon. An initial U.N. inquiry into the Hariri slaying implicated Damascus, which has denied any involvement.
The vote comes at a time of high tensions in Lebanon, exacerbated by a deadly standoff between the army and an Al-Qaida-inspired Islamist militia, and a spate of bomb attacks in and around the capital Beirut. Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry told reporters the aim of the resolution was to "send the right political signal in Lebanon that there cannot be impunity and that the U.N. stands behind those people who want to see justice."
Resolution 1757 was sponsored by the United States, Britain, France, Belgium, Slovakia and Italy, and introduced at the request of Prime Minister Fouad Saniora.
It came after U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon reported that rival Lebanese parties had failed to agree on ratifying the 2006 accord. The Hizbullah-led opposition objects to the way the Saniora government has handled plans to create the court under U.N. auspices and has so far blocked all moves to set up the court.
The government in turn accuses allies of Syria of bowing to pressure from Damascus to try to prevent the creation of the tribunal. Jones Parry said while a domestic solution would have been the "preferred route," the Security Council, in view of the deadlock, needed "to take its responsibility so that there can be a resolution."
Russia, a veto-wielding council member and a close ally of Syria, South Africa and Qatar had all voiced reservations to the parts of the text and had sought more time for the rival Lebanese parties to find a home-grown solution.
To mollify them, the sponsors agreed to set June 10 as the deadline for the entry into force of the tribunal convention to give the Lebanese factions a last chance to find common ground. The resolution states that "the tribunal shall commence functioning on a date to be determined by the secretary general in consultation with the government of Lebanon, taking into account the progress of the work" of the U.N. panel probing the Hariri murder. In any case, the tribunal is not likely to be up and running until several months after the treaty enters into force, diplomats said. The U.N.-Lebanon deal envisages a mixed tribunal composed of two chambers, a trial court composed of three judges -- one of them Lebanese alongside two foreigners -- and an appeals court with five judges, including two Lebanese.
For reasons of security, administrative efficiency and fairness, the tribunal would be located outside Lebanon. Cyprus, Italy and the Netherlands have been mooted as possible sites, diplomats said.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 30 May 07, 23:15
20 Suspected Fatah Islam Militants Charged with Terrorism
20 suspected militants from the Fatah al-Islam group fighting Lebanese troops at the northern refugee camp of Nahr al-bared have been charged with terrorism offences, court officials said. The Lebanese military has been fighting Fatah al-Islam militants at Nahr al-Bared since May 20. The camp is ringed by hundreds of soldiers backed by artillery and tanks in place to storm the camp. Fatah al-Islam has claimed to have between 600-700 fighters with automatic weapons, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades inside the camp. The Lebanese government has vowed to crush the militants.
Fighting between the army and militants resumed shortly after sunset Wednesday at the camp on the outskirts of the port city of Tripoli. Army artillery blasted militant positions inside the camp to silence the source of fire. There was no immediate word on casualties. Several Fatah al-Islam suspects have been arrested in army raids on apartments in Tripoli in the past two weeks. It was not clear where the 20 militants -- including 18 Lebanese, a nonnative Lebanese and a Syrian -- were arrested.
All were charged with committing terrorist acts that resulted in the deaths of soldiers and civilians, the officials said. The charges against them also include forming a gang with the aim of committing crimes against the people and undermining state authority. All 20 are in custody and if convicted, they could face the death penalty.(Naharnet-AP) Beirut, 31 May 07, 10:35
U.N. Probe Commission Collecting Samples from Saudi Arabia
The U.N. commission investigating ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination was on Thursday reportedly collecting water and soil samples from Saudi Arabia's Zalim area. An Nahar newspaper said that the Saudi al-Watan daily has reported that a team of investigators collected the samples on Monday from Zalim which is about 250 kilometers northeast of Taef city. Al-Watan also said that the team, made of Saudi specialists as well as German, Canadian and Egyptian geological experts, had already began work in Zalim and will take samples from three other regions in the country.
The Saudi daily quoted Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen Mansour al-Turki as saying the team's work was "part of the kingdom's cooperation with international resolutions' requirements as well as to back the commission's efforts in finding the culprit or culprits" in Hariri's murder. A Saudi security source also told al-Watan that the panel's collection of samples "does not mean that it is suspecting any Saudi citizen" of involvement in Hariri's killing, but that its work could help in identifying the suspected suicide bomber. Chief U.N. investigator Serge Brammertz said in the commission's seventh report on March that DNA tests of body parts in the blast scene revealed that the suicide truck bomber did not spend his youth in Lebanon and arrived in the country two or three months before his death. The report said that "the man had significant exposure to lead pollution in an urban environment up to the age of about 12, and that such exposure was low during the last ten years of his life, possibly indicating that he lived in a more rural environment during this period."Brammertz also wrote that "the commission has collected a total of 112 samples from 28 locations in Syria and Lebanon. Over the coming weeks, it will collect samples in three other countries in the region, and further countries are identified for another series of sampling missions."(AP photo shows a man in front of a poster showing the scene of the bomb which killed Hariri) Beirut, 31 May 07, 10:01
Syria: Establishing Court Could Worsen Lebanon Situation
Syria said the U.N. Security Council vote to establish an international tribunal to try suspects in the murder of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri was a violation to Lebanese sovereignty and could worsen the country's situation. "Syria's position regarding the special tribunal on Lebanon has not changed," said the state-run news agency, SANA. "Setting up the court under Chapter 7 (of the U.N. Charter) violates Lebanese sovereignty and could result in further deterioration of the situation on the Lebanese arena," SANA said. A U.N. commission investigating Hariri's murder and related crimes has implicated senior Lebanese and Syrian security officials.
Syria denied involvement in Hariri's killing, but was forced to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, ending its 29-year domination of it smaller neighbor.
Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari criticized the resolution. "Definitely this is something that goes against the interests of the Lebanese people and Lebanon as a whole," he told reporters after the vote.
But Lebanon's acting Foreign Minister Tarek Mitri, who spoke in the council after the vote, told reporters "going the road of justice does not mean going the road of division." "I think all Lebanese seek justice," he said. "I think the Lebanese should rebuild their national consensus -- a national consensus that has always existed as far as this tribunal is concerned."(Naharnet-AP) Beirut, 31 May 07, 11:37
France, Britain: 1757 Reveals There Shall Be No Impunity for Killers
France and Britain have hailed a U.N. vote to set up the international tribunal that would try ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's suspected assassins, saying the resolution shows that there will be no impunity for murderers. "I welcome the adoption today by the United Nations Security Council of resolution 1757 on the establishment of an international tribunal for Lebanon," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in a statement.
"In line with the wishes of the Lebanese people, of all sides and all religious beliefs, there will be no impunity" for Hariri's killers, he said.
"This shows the will of the international community to reinforce the stability of Lebanon," he added, saying the Security Council had "fulfilled its responsibilities faced with the institutional dead end in Lebanon." The resolution voted on by the 15-member council was sponsored by the United States, Britain, France, Belgium, Slovakia and Italy and brought in at the request of Premier Fouad Saniora. "By adopting this resolution, the Security Council has demonstrated its support for the government of Lebanon and its commitment to the principle that there shall be no impunity for political assassinations, in Lebanon or elsewhere," British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said in a statement. "The tribunal has been a politically sensitive issue. I hope that all parties in Lebanon will now be able to move forward to establish a broad-based government that can make decisions on the basis of consensus," she said.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 31 May 07, 10:24
Hariri Supporters Dance in Streets After U.N. OKs Tribunal
Fireworks lit up the night sky above Beirut and supporters of assassinated former Premier Rafik Hariri poured into the streets, dancing and cheering, the moment the U.N. Security Council approved an international tribunal to prosecute their slain leader's suspected killers. They also lit candles before the U.N. Security Council's voting on the resolution late Wednesday. On Thursday, Hariri followers were out on the streets, handing out white roses and candy with a label reading "justice."
Meanwhile, Hariri's son, Saad, choking back tears, said in a televised statement shortly after the U.N. Security Council voted to unilaterally establish the tribunal that the U.N. resolution was a turning point in Lebanon that would protect the country from further assassinations.
He called it a "victory the world has given to oppressed Lebanon and a victory for an oppressed Lebanon in the world." The vote on Resolution 1757 at around 11 p.m. Wednesday was 10-0 with five abstentions -- Russia, China, South Africa, Indonesia and Qatar. That was one more than the nine votes needed for passage.
The five countries that abstained objected to establishing the tribunal without approval of Lebanon's parliament and to putting the resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter which deals with threats to international peace and allows militarily enforcement. But none opposed the tribunal itself.
As Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said, Moscow "has been consistently advocating" that Hariri's killers "need to be brought to justice." But "given the deep rift in Lebanese society ... that should not lead to negative consequences," he said. The resolution, Churkin said, "essentially is an encroachment upon the sovereignty of Lebanon." China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said "we are all united in doing justice to those who have committed political assassination in Lebanon."
But he warned that only a tribunal supported by all Lebanese factions can be effective.
The council's move "will give rise to a series of political and legal problems, likely to add to the uncertainties embedded in the already turbulent political and security and situation in Lebanon," Wang said. A massive suicide truck bomb in Beirut killed Hariri and 22 others in February 2005. The first U.N. chief investigator, Germany's Detlev Mehlis, said the complexity of the assassination suggested Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services played a role. Four Lebanese generals, top pro-Syrian security chiefs, have been under arrest for 20 months, accused of involvement.
The issue of the tribunal has sharply polarized Lebanon. It is at the core of a deep political crisis between Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government and the Syrian-backed opposition led by Hizbullah. The tensions have taken on an increasingly sectarian tone and have erupted into street battles in recent months, killing 11 people.
Saniora asked the Security Council earlier this month to establish the tribunal. He cited the refusal of opposition-aligned Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to convene a session to ratify statutes to create the tribunal, already approved by his government and the United Nations.
The resolution gives the Lebanese parliament a last chance to establish the tribunal itself. If it does not act by June 10, the U.N.-Lebanon agreement will "enter into force," creating a tribunal outside Lebanon with a majority of international judges and an international prosecutor.
The tribunal will be established under Chapter 7, which the U.S., Britain, France and other resolution supporters insisted was essential to make it binding, as Saniora wanted. The Russians, Chinese, South Africans, Indonesians and Qataris objected, saying Chapter 7 is unnecessary because all Security Council resolutions are legally binding.(Naharnet-AP) Beirut, 31 May 07, 07:32
Emotional Saad Hariri Urges Lebanese to Join Hands
Legislator Saad Hariri welcomed the U.N. vote on Wednesday to set up the international tribunal that would try ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's suspected assassins.
"Let's all join hands in defending the international tribunal ... as an opportunity for all Lebanese to unite," said Hariri, in a televised statement.
"Enough is enough with division ... Let's join hands to serve the interests of our nation," he said, addressing the Hizbullah-led opposition which was against the U.N. Security Council vote. "This tribunal is for all Lebanon ... putting an end to the criminal terror intimidating Lebanon," said Hariri choking back tears. "We are seeking justice to hold to account the perpetrators." Seconds after the vote, watched on satellite television, celebratory gunfire was heard as Hariri's supporters gathered at the downtown graveside of the former premier near Al Amin mosque. Saad Hariri also headed to his father's graveside where he lit a candle and put a rose.
Premier Fouad Saniora, also on local television stations, said the trial for the murder of Hariri that has been widely blamed on Syria would allow for "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" to be revealed. It is not directed "against sister Syria," he insisted. Saniora also urged the Lebanese to join hands and overcome their differences after the vote in New York. "Lebanon is not the homeland of any party, group, sect, or religion, it is the country of all Lebanese," Saniora said.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 30 May 07, 23:37
G8 Backs 'Legitimate' Lebanese Government
Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight most industrialized countries have pledged their "unlimited" support for Premier Fouad Saniora's government.
In the final communique after a day-long meeting in Potsdam Wednesday, the G8 ministers also called on the region's countries, including Syria, to stop interfering in Lebanon's internal affairs. "The G8 gives its unlimited support to the legitimate and democratic government of Lebanon and strongly calls for a rapid solution to the current political standstill and to make progress towards national reconciliation," the statement said. The G8 ministers also supported the establishment of the international tribunal that would try ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's suspected assassins. The court is at the heart of a political crisis that has paralyzed the Lebanese government for months.
The U.N. Security Council voted on Wednesday to set up the tribunal. The G8 meeting was aimed at preparing for next week's summit hosted by the G8 current president, Germany, in Heiligendamm on the Baltic coast. The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States will attend the summit.(AFP-Naharnet) (AFP photo shows US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice waving as she is welcomed by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier prior to the G8 Meeting of Foreign Ministers in Potsdam) Beirut, 31 May 07, 08:49
Supporting the Democratic Opposition in Syria
By Joseph Puder
FrontPageMagazine.com | May 31, 2007
It is rather amazing how little effort the U.S. administration seems to have expended in probing the existence of a significant opposition to Bashar Assad, the Baathist dictator of Syria. If the State Department, through the U.S. embassy in Damascus, has in fact discovered an opposition group, it certainly has not briefed reporters on this matter. And recent contacts by U.S. government representatives with their Syrian counterparts are serving to bolster the Syrian dictatorship rather than the opposition that most certainly exists within Syria.
In a frank conversation with Sherkoh Abbas, president of the Kurdistan National Assembly-Syria (KNA-S), Mr. Abbas made distinct observations about U.S. policy towards Syria and emphasized the weakness of the Assad minority regime. He also described the KNA-S vision for the future democratic Syria.
Joseph Puder: Mr. Abbas, please describe the nature of the Syrian opposition and why it has a chance to mobilize the Syrian nation?
Sherkoh Abbas: “First let me describe KNA-S. It is an umbrella organization for the Kurdish political parties, NGO’s, human rights organizations, and independent citizens from the Kurdish region of Syria.
The Syrian opposition consists of three types: the first is the classical opposition represented by Muslim Brotherhood. It is Islamist in nature and Arab in orientation. The second group is a Baath party derivative, and it is represented by people who spent their careers serving the Assad regime, and now found themselves out of favor. One such figure is former Vice President Khaddam. The Kurdish opposition groups and their allies have become a formidable opposition, and they represent the third type. In the case of the first two opposition groups, they either share the regime’s ideology or have been infiltrated by agents of the regime. The Kurds on the other-hand are the strongest proponent of democracy and the most serious opposition to the regime. They view democracy as their salvation from tyranny. The non-Kurdish opposition making up the first two groups is less of a threat to the regime now.
The Syrian people will support our opposition group because it is inclusive and addresses issues of human rights, freedom, democracy, national rights, peace, and economic development. Therefore, a committee of the Syrian opposition groups that is inclusive and have not been infiltrated must work on mobilization of public opinion based on a democratic and inclusive Syria. The Kurdistan National Assembly – Syria (KNA-S) is working to mobilize Syrians from the entire spectrum of Syrian society: Kurds, Druze, Alawaite, Christians, Sunni Moderates, etc. and, we have laid the foundation for a true democratic and inclusive opposition that has the confidence of the Syrian masses.
Progress is slow however, due to financial limitations and lack of support from the international community, but we are determined to succeed because we are pursuing a democratic program where all Syrians will be winners. It is a "win-win" policy instead of current "win-lose" policy.”
JP: Is the state of the Syrian economy a factor in the weakness of the Bashar Assad’s regime?
SA: “The weakness of the Syrian economy may play a role depending on other supporting factors. It can play a role if the international community supports the opposition by issuing tough sanctions, and seek to remove the legitimacy from the current regime by implementing travel bans on the regime's officials. The Assad regime’s real weakness stems from the lack of public support for it. The regime uses all means of force and authority to maintain itself by using brutal methods such as murder, imprisonment, and torture. Simply put, the regime has been using terrorism to cling to power. This cruel mentality is widespread throughout the Middle East. In Syria's case, an economic embargo alone will not work, just as it did not in Saddam Hussein’s case. The international community needs to impose effective sanctions that coincide with full support of the opposition, and the removal of legitimacy from the regime.
Syria’s centralized economy will help bring down the regime in the same way the Eastern
European regimes fell in the 1990’s. The Syrian regime uses creative ways to survive, employing the black-market, corruptions, drug profiting, and assistance from enemies of the US such as Iran, China and Russia, to maintain its existence. Recently, the Assad regime managed to convince some Gulf States to invest in its economy. I am sure that the lack of a clear pro-democracy policy by US and the west, helped lure many of the Gulf States investments to Syria.”
JP: Why do you think that the current U.S. policy towards Syria is wrong?
SA: “The U.S. erred when it changed and softened its policy towards Syria. The Assad regime sensed that and it became more radical. It increased its support for terrorist organizations, strengthened its relationship with Iran, and has worked openly against U.S. interests in the region. The regime in Damascus realized that the U.S. is not committed to regime change. The absence of western support for the democratic opposition in Syria further emboldened the Assad regime. Today, the results of American inaction towards Syria is visible in southern Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine. Iran too is more defiant towards the America and the west. The Syrian regime managed to outmaneuver the U.S. State Department.”
JP: What is your vision for Syria’s future?
SA: “I envision a federal republic of Syria that is multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-religious in nature, where democracy, human rights, freedom, a free market economy and peace reigns. We are seeking to make Syria a secular society where to be Muslim or Christian is a personal choice. Syria occupies an important position in the Middle East by virtue of its proximity to Europe, and because it serves as a bridge between Africa, Asia, and Europe. A democratic Syria will also contribute to stability in the region especially with regard to Lebanon, Israel-Palestine and Iraq.
A democratic Syria would prevent the Golan Heights from becoming the next front in a Syria/Hezbollah war against Israel - similar to what happened in southern Lebanon last year. The current regime in Damascus has ‘imported’ around 100,000 new ‘Syrian citizens’ from Iran who are poised to undermine the countries of the region including Sunni-Muslim Jordan, Sunni-led Lebanon and Israel. Only a democratic Syria has the potential for a ‘win-win’ formula that would bring a lasting peace and mutual recognition between Syria and Israel.”
President George W. Bush may be remembered as the president who brought democracy to the Middle East instead of being identified with the Iraqi quagmire. For his legacy to become a reality; he must not be paralyzed by fear of additional criticism over involving the U.S. in confronting Iran, or supporting the democratic opposition in Syria. He must learn from President Harry Truman that in the end, one must do what is right.
Rescue Government for Whom?!
Hassan Haydar Al-Hayat - 31/05/07//
The opponents of the international tribunal, whether those afraid of it or those sympathized with them willingly or unwillingly, will never run out of suggestions, even after the court is adopted by the Security Council under Chapter VII. They will come out every now and then with a proposal and fabricate a political or security complexities whose aim, first and foremost, is to prevent this tribunal from becoming a legal international shield that protects Lebanon from cross-border oppression, ends the cycle of 'fraternal' and regional abuse of Lebanon, deprives the country of its attractive characteristics: 'mine' and 'arena', and allows its people to live normally in their country without sleeping cells or latent sedition and without 'ready-made' and 'on-demand' organizations and parties spawned on their land.
President Emile Lahoud's proposal to form a 'rescue' government is part of this approach, especially that he linked it to his call on the Security Council to extend the 10-day respite to start implementing its new decision, like the two-month ultimatum requested by Qatar's UN ambassador and possibly in coordination with him, and to reconsider the tribunal's statute to take into account the opposition's remarks.
Perhaps the president is expecting developments that he has never disclosed, so as to finish his term without the election of a successor being made possible or justify his formation of another government that further deepens the division and throws the country into fatal duality that will affect the remaining institutions. Security services, including the army, which has so far managed to remain neutral, may not be able to avoid such duality.
If the president, the extension of whose term marks the beginning of the current division, really wants to save the country, why does he wait until the date of his departure in order to 'obey his conscience' before the master of Bkerke? Why did not he listen to the advice of Patriarch Sfeir more than a year ago to step down and spare the country further fragmentation? What is the difference between the government of poles he is advocating today and the negotiating table, which was held before the summer war and attended by representatives of the political communities themselves? Back then, they reached understandings about the relationship with Syria, the defense policy and the Palestinian weapons, but these understandings did not last long, because the president's friends were also expecting developments they knew would torpedo the dialogue and its results.
The only difference is the endorsement of the tribunal in the Security Council and turning the file of assassinations and bombings into an international case in which the accused will be put to international justice after being a controversial issue debated by the Lebanese for a long time.
Therefore, the party Lahoud's proposal seeks to save is the staunch ally, who has extended his term and who considers the tribunal "a threat to his national security".
Up till now, Lebanon, the government and the army, managed to contain the explosion caused by Fatah al-Islam and its grave repercussions. It managed, through diplomacy and firmness, to separate this mine from the file of the Palestinian camps so as not to turn into an excuse for any one.
Signs of this trend could be traced in Hezbollah's position on the ongoing treatment, but the real success must be in preventing the explosion of the other mines that are manifested in statements here or there.It is a race between justice and the convicts
A Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism as well as Saudi affairs. Mshari is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page Editor, where he also contributes a weekly column. Has worked for the local Saudi press occupying several posts at Al -Madina newspaper amongst others. He has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.
As evident to all those who are concerned about what is happening in northern Lebanon today, the approach of tackling this issue should diffe¬r to the stereotypical equation that is subject to the balances and limits of the domestic political game in Lebanon.
As mentioned previously, each of the Lebanese opponents had sought to hurl the burning ball of “Fatah Al-Islam” into the others court. Lahoud is enquiring innocently about who actuates this group and stated that the aim behind mobilizing it at this time and causing the Palestinian camp to burn is to impose settlement [of the Palestinians in Lebanon], an idea that he contemptuously rejected at the Beirut summit. This practically means that he is accusing the other camp of treachery by serving Israeli and American interests as they are proceeding with the settlement agenda whether they sense it or not.
Team Hezbollah and its affiliates, some of which hinted that the Al Mustaqbal channel and Saad Hariri were reckless in dealing with the Dhinniyyah group, do not fail to remind us of Israel’s role. This group challenged the army in 2000 and some of its members were arrested. Hezbollah reminds us that the Al Mustaqbal channel had decreased the number of Dhinniyyah detainees and finally instigated their release. This fact has been reiterated again and again by Emile Lahoud over the past few days. He demanded severe imprisonment and asserted that whoever is imprisoned after being proven guilty should not be released before serving the full sentence. This is despite that Lahoud himself was bitter towards the lengthy imprisonment of the four generals (Jameel Al Sayyed and his companions).
With regards to Syria, there is no doubt that “Fatah al Islam”, at least at its beginning stage, was closely linked to the Syrian regime whether through the organization's overflow of Arab fighters in Iraq who stayed in Syria or were stuck there, or through the misuse of the fundamentalist movement (as they see it) and transforming it into a source of chaos and sabotage that could be used later to penetrate religiously the Sunni north, especially the Salafist current. This is because the Syrian regime was able to penetrate the Muslim Brotherhood movement through the Islamic Action Front that was established by the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Tarablosi through Fathi Yakan who formed the Islamic Action Front and used it to support the Syrian party in Lebanon against the March 14 Movement. It is true that Bilal Shaaban, son of Said Shaaban and founder of the famous Tawhid al Islami party that dominated Tripoli for a while during the civil war, is now on Syria's side. The same applies to Hashem Minqara, however the wider trend of Salafists, led by Daii al Islam al Shahal, do not support Syria, in fact, they hold an inherent enmity towards Syria because of its repressive policies towards them during the era of the Syrian mandate.
But all this talk, after the eruption of the battle at Nahr al-Bared, is now history and now we have a new reality. This reality states that this group works in accordance with the rules that govern Al Qaeda in Lebanon such as attacking the “renegade” or “crusader” Arab countries such as Lebanon according to fundamentalist definitions. Striking these systems, launching movements of political chaos that create disorder in existing structures, and which are exploited by fundamentalist military organizations in order to have more impact on the ground, recruitment websites and rejecting the dominance of the central state make the chaotic environment in which the authority of the state has been destroyed the appropriate environment for the work of “jihadist” groups. Therefore we must be very careful. The Al Qaeda movement (according to the previous definition) is the movement that is currently operating in Lebanon. Let us divert away from the internal Lebanese political talk to see the issue as it actually is.
Al Qaeda and its “methodology”, and what it does in each arena, the similar interaction that it presents in all fields regarding political and media work despite the country in which it operates, all reminded me of something. With frequent talk concerning mediators in Lebanon between “Al Qaeda’s Fatah al Islam” and the Lebanese army, I remembered the mediation issue, which we experienced a while ago with the Al Qaeda movement in Saudi Arabia and whose activities we had seen in Kuwait. Those mediators seek to pass on messages and concerns from the organization to the state and vice versa.
The nature of the role of mediator requires that the mediator is not bias towards any party and is acceptable to both sides. On occasion, mediation is rejected at first by governments because this would mean that the two parties are equal whereas the true picture is that on one hand there is the state and on the other hand there are rebels or outlaws. There is no equality between both parties however, as usual, in the end, and with the prolonging and complexity of the battle, the need for mediators is emphasized, and perhaps that is not well-known.
Mediators of terrorism have increased in recent years in more than one Arab arena. In Saudi Arabia, many Saudi Islamists have offered to act as intermediaries between Al Qaeda and the government and this even led to wanted Al Qaeda criminals surrendering themselves such as Ali al Fuqasi who surrendered himself to Sheikh Safar al Hawali who in turn handed him over to security forces.
These attempts to mediate have not been fruitless or without a political or ideological cloak to cover it, as it is not mediation that is devoid of the political cloak. We recall how one Saudi Islamist cleric who was mediating expressly stated that he discovered that the cause of extremism among Saudi youth and the reason behind them choosing “Al Qaeda” is due to the “forbidden acts” and religious violations within the state, for example the decision to merge the institution for female education into the larger Ministry of Education [formerly, separating its practices based on gender segregation]. In addition, another reason for these young people turning towards terrorism lies in the media criticism directed against the ideology. For the sake of efficient mediation, the cleric called upon critics to stop writing against terrorist ideologies and called for the state to retract its decision to merge the institution for female education into the Ministry of Education; in addition to other fundamentalist demands.
ِAfter some time, the mediation “trend” had stopped and Al Qaeda members and leaders, such as Saleh al Oufi, did not approve of such intermediaries and mocked the sheikhs of mediation in his magazine, “Voice of Jihad”.
The same thing happened in Kuwait regarding the ‘Peninsula Lions’ (Asood Aljazeera) movement. Some Islamists offered to intervene between Al Qaeda and the government, such as Sheikh Tariq al Tawari but due to the decrease of terrorist cells and the speed with which they were countered, the need for such efforts diminished.
In Lebanon today, some parties have offered their services as mediators, such as Syria’s friend in Lebanon and Muslim Brotherhood member, Fathi Yakan. Although the Lebanese army denied this claim, Yakan himself confirmed it at one point then denied it at another. Among the individuals who had offered to mediate was Sheikh Mohamed Al-Hajj, a member of the Association of Scholars of Palestine in Lebanon. He stressed that mediation started some time ago before the battle of Nahr al-Bared, with the emergence of the Fatah al Islam phenomenon. The aim of this mediation was to ensure the safety of Arab combatants, other than Palestinians and Lebanese fighters, in the ranks of the group (such as the Saudi and North African fighters for example).
The problem with many of these mediations is that they are costly and that they are conditioned to succeed where weapons failed. In such case, we are faced with a real dilemma. No one wants war, no one wants young men who join these organizations to die, who perhaps would remove themselves [from these organizations] if they find a suitable opportunity to do so. But how can the prestige of the state be preserved, how can peace be guaranteed and how do we close the door to the spread of militias and movements and how can we ensure that the terrorist threat is once and for all laid to rest? In other words, how do we give terrorists a victory that they failed to achieve through the use of arms but finally achieved with the use of intermediaries?!
The issue becomes more complicated with regards to the Nahr al-Bared confrontations, as in this case, we face an extra dilemma which is how to ensure the safety of women, children and innocent residents of the camp whilst not allowing terrorists to exploit this concern?
Mediation and mediators are present in the crisis. Perhaps they would be useful if the issue was confined to technical demands or to ensure wellbeing only and so on. These mediators become more harmful than those who bear arms if they accept the demands of armed groups even mildly.
Thus from amongst the congestion of mediators, we must distinguish between politicized mediation and completely humanitarian mediation so that the former would never be repeated in the Al Qaeda conflict with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. This is just a reminder