LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 12,1-12. He began to speak to them in parables. "A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and left on a journey. At the proper time he sent a servant to the tenants to obtain from them some of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent them another servant. And that one they beat over the head and treated shamefully. He sent yet another whom they killed. So, too, many others; some they beat, others they killed. He had one other to send, a beloved son. He sent him to them last of all, thinking, 'They will respect my son.' But those tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' So they seized him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What (then) will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come, put the tenants to death, and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture passage: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes'?"
They were seeking to arrest him, but they feared the crowd, for they realized that he had addressed the parable to them. So they left him and went away.
Nahr El-Bared and the 'Heat' in Lebanon!-By: Jamil Ziabi-Dar Al-Hayat- June 5/07
Commentary: Hopes high for Lebanon tribunal.Middle East Times. June 5/07
Latest News Reports
From Miscellaneous Sources for June 5/05/07
No short term solution to Lebanon's crisis as terrorists open ...AsiaNews.it
Lieberman: If Syria imposes war, we'll know how to respond-Ynetnews
How 1967 defined the Middle East-BBC News
Israel minister to discuss Syria peace ideas in US-Reuters
Does Damascus Want Peace?Infolive.tv
Abbas, Hamas or Syria-Ynetnews
Is Lebanon the new link in the Middle Eastern American made chaos(1) ?Newropeans Magazine
Lebanon refugee camps breeding ground for extremism-ReliefWeb (press release)
Syria jails four more dissidents-Middle East Times
Tribunals, Trials and Tribulations in Lebanon?ZNet
Lebanese troops strike Palestinian camps-AFP
Deadly fighting grips second Lebanon camp AFP
Militants planned 9/11-style Lebanon attack: report.AFP
Militants Open New Warfront to Ease Pressure on Fatah al-Islam in Nahr al-Bared-Naharnet
Catholic priest shot dead in Iraq.AFP
Militants, army clash again in south Lebanon camp.Reuters
Ahmadinejad: Israel's Destruction Getting Close.MyFox Atlanta
Syria, Hezbollah Condemn Un Tribunal.Guardian Unlimited
Golan's Druse wary of Israel and Syria.Seattle Post Intelligencer
Israeli foreign minister says she favored a brief war in Lebanon ...International Herald Tribune
Peretz: Israel ignored events in Lebanon too long.Jerusalem Post
Unity government ok if Hezbollah supports tribunal & Lebanon army.Ya Libnan
Golan's new generation waits for regime change in Syria.International Herald Tribune
Six-day war set the pattern.Gulf News
Phares on Current Lebanese Army Combat Operations [W. Thomas Smith Jr.]
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Walid Phares's latest analysis (exclusive to The Tank) from various intelligence sources, as well as directly from high-ranking officials within the Lebanese government and the military addresses combat operations in Lebanon over the past several days:
The Lebanese Army is now inside some sectors of the Nahr al Bared camp. Operating in concert with artillery barrages on Fatah al Islam positions, Lebanese soldiers also have been engaging terrorists from other Syrian-sponsored organizations such as the Ahmed Jibril and Hamas-linked forces.
Here is how it breaks down:
The pro-al Qaeda forces (Fatah al Islam) have controlled all areas from the sea to the main road north of the camp.
The Fatah central forces (Mahmoud Abbas) control the neighborhoods of Hay al Burwa and Hay al Magharba, as well as areas southwest.
The southern areas of the camp from the main street to the state highway is controlled by both Fatah al Islam and Fatah central, with a greater presence of the Shaker al-Abssi elements (al Qaeda).
The areas west of the camp are controlled by the Ahmed Jibril (general command) and Nayef Hawatmeh (FDLP) elements. They are deployed over half of the school districts. But they share the rest of the area with the al Qaeda elements.
East of the camp is or was firmly dominated by the Fatah al Islam elements.
"Colonel Youssef" (no real power. just the local baron) is the "official" commander of the camp on behalf of the Palestinian joint security apparatus, but obviously has very little control outside the central Fatah militias.
Over the past few days, the Lebanese Army including infantry, special operations commandos, tankers in old armor (including a few Soviet T-55s left by the militias after the war and American M48s) have thrust into the Fatah al Islam defenses splitting the camp into two areas. But as soon as the soldiers moved in, the Syrian-controlled Ahmed Jibril forces attacked them, accompanied by other smaller pro-Syrian militias. This forced the LA to counterattack and push them back. The main offensive against al Qaeda was (is) advancing, but gradually.
Interestingly and amazingly, Lebanese military intelligence has been supported by good information received from Palestinian civilians inside the camp.
The current offensive is slated to separate Fatah al Islams last enclave inside the camp and dismantle its defenses. But the assaults by pro-Syrian forces could widen Lebanese operations. Reports about the use of helicopters by the Lebanese Army are now being confirmed. The very old French-built Gazelles are equipped with precision air-to-surface rockets. These helicopters were used by the Lebanese Army in 1989 during clashes with the Syrian army.
It is amazing to see the Lebanese Army using Cold War-era weapons to fight a lethal post-9/11 terrorist network. But it suggests that the determination by a local small force if supported morally and politically by its people and the international community can produce results against al Qaeda and pro-Syrian terrorists. However the question remains, until when? For no observer in Lebanon has any illusion about what I called the other components of Group A (Salafists elements in other locations) and Group B (Hezbollah and pro-Syrian forces).
It is interesting to note however, that the war room in Damascus has moved some elements from Group B such as the Ahmed Jibril militias in the battle of Nahr al-Bared. This scenario may repeat itself in other locations. There is a consensus among analysts that the bulk of Group B (Hezbollah) will be thrown into battle only after the Lebanese Army proves its success against the Al Qaeda Jihadists.
For now, Syrian operatives are trying to set the tone for similar engagements in the Baddawi camp in the north and in the al Naama camp - the fortress of Ahmed Jibril south of Beirut.
At the Lebanese Ministry of Defense in Yarze, plans to pacify Nahr al-Bared are clear, but the policies regarding other potential fronts north and south of the capital are still being reviewed.
The first problem, naturally, is the degree of "tolerance" of Hezbollah regarding these operations.
Hassan Nasrallah has declared that the camps to be a red line. Which means that he and through him Syria and Iran is strategically committed to not seeing the camps being disarmed by the Lebanese Army. Speculation is still ongoing about when and how Damascus and Hezbollah might throw more forces against the Lebanese Army, and at what stage of the confrontation will they order the pro-Hezbollah elements in the Lebanese Army to pull out or paralyze the action of the little army.
Until then, the brave little force" is fighting its debut-battle in the far north. The outcome will determine the next stage, both for the Lebanese government and for the terror alliance. It is only the beginning, unfortunately.
Dr. Phares' previous analysis may be read here, here, and here.
Militants Open New
Warfront to Ease Pressure on Fatah al-Islam in Nahr al-Bared
Islamic militants opened a new warfront in the southern refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh in a clear effort to ease the pressure on Fatah al-Islam fighters locked up in fierce gunbattles with Lebanese troops trying to crush the al-Qaida inspired terrorists deep inside Nahr al-Bared in north Lebanon.
A military spokesman said two Lebanese army soldiers and two Islamist extremists from Jund al-Sham were killed in the overnight clashes at Ain al-Hilweh.
They said 11 other people were also wounded in the fighting which broke out anew after militants attacked army checkpoints in Taamir, a residential area adjacent to Ain al-Hilweh, with grenades, prompting Lebanese troops to respond with artillery and machine gun fire. Back at Nahr al-Bard, Lebanese troops on Sunday pushed ahead, pounding Fatah al-Islam hideouts relentlessly. Many in Lebanon believed the army would be able to crush the Fatah al-Islam quickly, but after three days of fierce battles using artillery and tanks, the troops continued to face strong resistance. Lebanese security officials said that Nahr al-Bared had been strategically divided into three zones. The army was controlling one zone, the militants held another, while Palestinian civilians and Fatah al-Islam guerrillas controlled the third and were refusing the militants sanctuary, they said.
Lebanese troops on Sunday fought their toughest battles with Fatah al-Islam militants holding out inside Nahr al-Bared. White smoke rose from the camp all day as the Lebanese army resumed its bombardment of Fatah al-Islam hideouts, the third day of a military offensive aimed at crushing the fighters. But unlike the first two days of the offensive against Fatah al-Islam when the army targeted areas on the edges of the Nahr el-Bared camp, Sunday's artillery fire was directed at militant positions deep inside the camp, indicating that troops were advancing further inside. There was no way to tell exactly how deep the army had advanced into the camp, because the area had been sealed off and journalists were kept away.
Al-Arabiya's correspondent, reporting live from the scene of the fighting, said Lebanese troops penetrated deep into Nahr al-Bared around midday Sunday and were locked in "violent building-to-building" battles" with Fatah al-Islam militants around the Cooperative site inside the camp. Correspondent for the state-run National News Agency in north Lebanon said army troops were in "full control over all axes" to Nahr al-Bared following heavy confrontations between the military and extremist fighters on Sunday. NNA said the army advance was part of a plan aimed at tightening the noose on the militants who have been cornered in the operation that began early Sunday on the camp's Samed, Cooperative and al-Khan zones.
A senior Lebanese army officer said nine Lebanese troops have been killed, and several others wounded since Friday when the army launched its latest ground offensive against Fatah al-Islam militants. The casualties raised the army's death toll to 44 since the standoff began two weeks ago. At least 20 civilians and about 60 militants have also been killed, but casualties in the camp in the last three days were unknown because relief organizations were banned from entering.
Fatah al-Islam spokesman Abu Salim Taha confirmed that five Fatah al-Islam fighters, including a senior leader, have been killed and seven wounded since Friday.
Officials said the group's third-in-command, Naim Deeb Ghali, identified as Abu Riad, who was known to send fighters to Iraq, was also killed in the gunbattles with Lebanese troops. NNA reported four Islamist militants were killed on Sunday, including the group's deputy leader Shehab al-Qaddour, better known as Abu Hureira.
Al-Arabiya, however, said there were conflicting reports on whether Abu Hureira, a Lebanese, was killed or wounded in his shoulder.
LBC television said Lebanese troops have also rounded up more than 20 militants.
In other developments, the main road linking Tripoli with the province of Akkar and the Syrian border reopened Sunday. Vehicles were seen passing on the road that was closed for two days by Lebanese troops over fears of snipers. Earlier Sunday, the army denied that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was helping Lebanese troops in their fight against Fatah al-Islam.(Naharnet-AFP-AP)(AP photo shows the Lebanese army shelling a building being used by a militant sniper in Nahr al-Bared) Beirut, 04 Jun 07,
Lebanon evacuation irritates some Canadians
Sunday, 3 June, 2007 @ 4:36 PM
Beirut - Former Montrealer Fouad Haddad worked with the Canadian Embassy last summer to rescue hundreds of the nearly 15,000 Lebanese Canadians who were clamoring to escape the war between Hezbollah and Israel. Haddad and some others in the 40,000-strong Lebanese Canadian community here now have doubts about whether Ottawa did the right thing by spending nearly $100 million to bring its citizens to Canada, especially since more than half of them quickly returned to the country of their birth.
But others insist Canada did the right thing and the Lebanese- Canadians behaved properly in the circumstances.
"Canada is a great country, and it was much appreciated that it did so much for its citizens here, but Lebanese-Canadians have been very bothered by how it all turned out," Haddad said, referring to a widespread awareness here that many Canadians felt some Lebanese-Canadians had divided loyalties and had used their adopted homeland to acquire so-called passports of convenience they only intended to use in emergencies. "The community has had meetings with the embassy, and we understood that the government was really mad and that many Canadians were not happy that so many of those who left had come back."While not excusing what happened, Haddad said it was necessary to understand the mood in Lebanon during the 34-day war.
"There was a phenomenon of panic here that in my opinion was very overdone, and governments such as Canada overreacted, too. They were too generous," the building-supplies company owner said. "It was a catastrophe for those in the south and parts of the Bekaa Valley. But there was no danger to most of the people in Beirut or in the north or in the mountains, yet without reason thousands of them wanted out, too," he said.
Sami Nakad, a winery owner in the Bekaa, wanted his wife and daughter to join the Canadian- sponsored exodus, but their Canadian documents had lapsed and were not ready in time."After seeing and hearing those warplanes and having explosions break everything very near our house, I really wanted my wife and child out," Nakad said. "People have forgotten that it was a terrible time."
Annie Dantziguian was one of thousands who took a Canadian-chartered ship to Cyprus and then flew to Montreal on a Canadian-chartered jetliner.
"I lived it. I know what it was like. Our nerves were totally ruined," she said. Dantziguian returned to Lebanon not because she wanted to, she said, but because her family has been unable to sell the family aluminum business.
Her husband, Garbis Dantziguian, who helped the embassy arrange the evacuation of some Lebanese-Canadians but chose to stay in Beirut, accused journalists of distorting the situation. "It has been made to sound as if we were taking advantage of the situation, but if the war had lasted six months or a year, there would not have been such criticism," the past president of the Lebanese Canadian Business Association said. "The context of that time was that nobody knew how long the war might last."
While there were some who profited from Canada's largesse, he said, what has been overlooked is that many of those who went to Canada, such as his wife, had spent tens of thousand of dollars while there. "This is a difficult situation to analyze, but these really were Canadians in trouble, and on a humanitarian basis they deserved to be helped," he said. "And who is to say that all Canadians must live in Canada?" The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada has estimated that more than 2.5 million Canadian citizens live abroad. An unknown number of them hold passports from two or more countries, as do hundreds of thousands of dual nationals living in Canada.
The largest group of such passport holders are probably Hong Kong Chinese, but there are also substantial numbers of Canadians who also have British, Lebanese, Indian, United States or Israeli nationality.
One of the reasons Canada has so many dual nationals was that, unlike almost any other western country, it grants citizenship to immigrants after only three years.
The Harper government studied ways that it might force foreign nationals to renounce their Canadian citizenship after the Lebanese-Canadian exodus from here last year but concluded to do so would be "impractical and difficult to enforce," according to federal documents released to the Ottawa Citizen. Mia Salami Fares is a Canadian citizen who chose to stay in Lebanon last summer because she and her family were "safe enough." But she said many others departed because when embassies of countries such as Canada, the U.S., Britain, Australia and the Philippines began offering free trips, their citizens concluded that they must have had special information about how the security situation was going to worsen. "You could say that this was a mistake by Canada and that it now looks like those people who left and have come back took advantage of Canada," said Fares, who is a hotel reservations clerk.
Should such a crisis arise again, Fouad Haddad hopes Canada would still help Lebanese-Canadians get out, but he felt Ottawa should not be stuck with such a huge bill for doing so. "I think that everyone here was ready to pay, but it was offered for free and maybe it shouldn't have been," he said. "I hope that there is no next time, but if there is, Canada should not spoil its citizens. "It should just pay to get them by ship to the safety of Cyprus, and from there they could buy their own plane tickets to Canada."Sources: Canada.com
Lebanese troops strike Palestinian camps
By HUSSEIN DAKROUB, Associated Press Writer
12 minutes ago
TRIPOLI, Lebanon - Lebanese troops fought Islamic militants in a northern Palestinian refugee camp and clashed with another group in a southern camp Monday as the violence spawned by a two-week-old confrontation with al-Qaida-inspired fighters appeared to be spreading.
Two Lebanese soldiers were killed in fighting in the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon between troops stationed outside the camp and Jund al-Sham Islamic militants.
At the same time, Fatah Islam continued its 16-day standoff against the army in the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of this northern Lebanese port city. The overnight exchanges tapered by the morning. Police said five Lebanese soldiers were wounded in the southern fighting by rocket-propelled grenades and machine gunfire in clashes that have continued on and off since late Sunday. There was no word on militant casualties at Ein el-Hilweh, the largest of Lebanon's 12 Palestinian refugee camps.
Jund al-Sham, which is Arabic for Soldiers of historic Syria, has claimed responsibility or been blamed for a number of bombings and gunbattles, mainly in Lebanon and Syria. Syrian officials have portrayed Jund al-Sham, which is based in Ein el-Hilweh and sympathetic to Fatah Islam, as the most active militant group in their country. The militants are believed to number in the dozens.
In the north, sporadic fighting resumed Monday morning after an overnight lull. The army has been pounding Fatah Islam positions at Nahr el-Bared since May 20 and has moved tanks and armored carriers into the camp in a push to crush the al-Qaida-inspired militants who refuse to surrender.
But there was relatively less fighting at Nahr el-Bared on Monday than there had been since the army offensive began, suggesting troops were conducting commando operations against specific targets inside the camp.
Many in Lebanon believed the army would be able to crush the Fatah Islam inside Nahr el-Bared quickly, but after three days of fierce battles using artillery and tanks, the troops continued to face strong resistance. The relentless bombardment has angered Palestinians in some of the 11 country's other refugee camps, a possible recipe for spreading violence. The Lebanese government has demanded that Fatah Islam surrender, but the militant group's deputy leader rejected the call in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
"This is not only impossible, this is unthinkable. Our blood is cheaper than handing over our weapons and surrendering," said Abu Hureira, a Lebanese whose real name is Shehab al-Qaddour, said Sunday. He also denied the army had made significant progress in its offensive. "I am still in the same position since the war began," Abu Hureira said. "Our morals are high and the army did not make any advance."Lebanese security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make statements to media, have said that Nahr el-Bared had been strategically divided into three zones. The army was controlling one zone, the militants held another, while Palestinian civilians and guerrillas controlled the third and were refusing the militants sanctuary, they said.
Fatah Islam spokesman Abu Salim Taha, told the AP by cellular telephone that five Fatah Islam members, including a senior leader, have been killed and seven wounded since Friday, when the latest army offensive began. He also said Fatah Islam militants ambushed an advancing Lebanese force Sunday, pushing it back a few yards amid heavy fighting on the north and northeastern edges of the camp.
A senior Lebanese army officer said nine Lebanese troops have been killed at Nahr el-Bared and about 40 wounded since Friday. The body of one more soldier was retrieved Sunday. The casualties raised the army's death toll to 45 at Nahr el-Bared and two at Ein el-Hilweh since the standoff began two weeks ago. At least 20 civilians and about 60 militants have also been killed in the northern Lebanon fighting, but casualties in the camp in the last four days were unknown because relief organizations were banned from entering. Officials said Sunday that a senior leader of Fatah Islam, Naim Deeb Ghali, who is also known as Abu Riad, had been killed in the fighting. Abu Hureira confirmed that Ghali was killed Friday, but would not say whether he was a senior Fatah Islam official, referring to him only as "a brother."
**Associated Press writers Sam F. Ghattas and Bassem Mroue in Beirut and Ahmed Mantash in Sidon contributed to this report.
Catholic priest shot dead in Iraq
AFP: A Chaldean Catholic priest and three of his assistants were shot dead on Sunday outside a church in northern Iraq, the Catholic Asianews agency said.
"An armed group shot dead the 31-year old priest Ragheed Ganni and three of his assistants, outside the Holy Spirit church in Mosul. The murder happened shortly after Sunday mass," the agency said.
Militants planned 9/11-style Lebanon attack: report
03/06/2007 10:17 BEIRUT, June 3 (AFP)
A mass-circulation Beirut daily reported on Sunday that Fatah al-Islam, whose fighters are under siege at a refugee camp in the north of the country, had planned a September 11-style attack on Lebanon. "This information was obtained by questioning arrested Fatah al-Islam members" detained by the Lebanese military since the outbreak of fighting on May 20, An-Nahar said without identifying its sources. No officials were immediately available to comment on the report.
The paper also said that explosives seized in the country's second largest city Tripoli, south of the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp where militants were being besieged by the army for the 15th day, came from Syria. "Fatah al-Islam planned to attack a large hotel in the capital using four suicide truck bombs at the same time as launching suicide attacks on embassies in east and west Beirut," the paper said.
An-Nahar also said the Al-Qaeda-inspired Islamist group "planned to launch attacks on the Shekka tunnel linking Beirut to Tripoli with the aim of cutting off the north and proclaiming an Islamic state there." It said the attacks would be "a Lebanese September 11," in reference to the 2001 attacks on the United States by Al-Qaeda.
On May 22 Fatah al-Islam denied planting two bombs that rocked Beirut on consecutive nights after the siege began, killing a woman and wounding a total of 20 people. The group had earlier denied charges by the authorities that it carried out bus bombings in a Christian mountain village in February that left three people dead.
Fatah al-Islam has also denied any links to Al-Qaeda, although it has admitted having ideological ties with the worldwide terror movement headed by Osama bin Laden. On May 25 a group calling itself the Levant wing of Al-Qaeda threatened to target tourists in Lebanon if the army siege at Nahr al-Bared was not lifted.
Fighting continued on Sunday around Nahr al-Bared as the deadly standoff between Lebanese troops and the militants entered its third week.
In all 97 people have been killed since May 20, including 44 soldiers and 41 Islamist gunmen, in the bloodiest internal fighting in Lebanon since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Deadly fighting grips second Lebanon camp
by Muntasser Abdallah
SIDON, Lebanon (AFP) - Two soldiers were killed in fierce fighting at a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon as troops continued to bombard Islamist militants in another camp in the north of the country. Six soldiers and two civilians were also wounded in the gunbattles which raged overnight between the army and militants at the entrance to the Ain al-Helweh camp, hospital sources said on Monday. The fighting has added to concerns that the violence could spread to more of Lebanon's 12 refugee camps, which hold more than 200,000 Palestinians mostly in conditions of abject poverty. A mortar shell fired from Ein al-Helweh, Lebanon's largest camp, crashed near the municipality building in the main southern town of Sidon and bombardments could be heard throughout the night.
The army has sent in more armoured vehicles around the camp after the fighting with gunmen from a Palestinian group calling itself Jund al-Sham or Soldiers of Damascus. In the north of the country, Lebanese troops to tighten the noose around militants holed up in the Nahr al-Bared camp, where both sides vowing to fight to the end as the siege entered its 16th day. Smoke billowed into the sky throughout Sunday as the intermittent thud of shells and the rattle of machine-gun fire reverberated around the Nahr al-Bared camp on the shores of the Mediterranean. Backed by tanks and helicopters, the military pounded the squalid camp where Fatah al-Islam militiamen are still holding out in the face of superior firepower.
"We are inflicting great damage on the part of the Lebanese army," Fatah al-Islam spokesman Abu Salim Taha told Al-Jazeera television on Sunday.
"We are... in total control of the battlefield... We have the upper hand in fighting at the moment. We will never surrender... we will fight till the last drop of blood."
Prime Minister Fuad Siniora on Saturday had warned Fatah al-Islam to surrender or be wiped out after two days of the fiercest gunbattles since the fighting erupted in northern Lebanon on May 20. The standoff has continued despite efforts by a group of Palestinian clerics to mediate a negotiated solution.
On Sunday, army big guns fired a volley of around 20 shells at the east of Nahr al-Bared, setting fire to several buildings, AFP correspondents reported.
One officer told AFP that fighters had been firing from rooftops on to the motorway leading north from the nearby city of Tripoli, effectively cutting it off, before the army was able to destroy their positions. Four Islamist militants were killed on Sunday, Lebanon's official news agency reported, including the group's deputy leader named as Shehab Kaddur. However, a man who Al-Jazeera said was Kaddur denied he had been killed and boasted that his fighters "have arms that would shock the enemy." The overall death toll from fighting in both camps now tops 100, including 46 soldiers.
It is the bloodiest internal fighting since the 1975-1990 civil war and has added to tensions in a country already battling an acute political crisis.
"This is a terrorist gang," Siniora told Al-Arabiya television on Saturday. "They have to surrender themselves and their arms."
He said the army was carrying out "surgical operations" to eradicate the gunmen, but that if the Islamists give up "they will face a fair trial."
It is not known whether the army is planning a ground assault on the camp. By longstanding convention, it does not enter Lebanon's 12 Palestinian refugee camps, leaving security inside to armed militant groups.
Fatah al-Islam, a tiny band of well-armed Sunni Muslim extremists which first surfaced only last year, is believed to have about 250 fighters, according to Siniora.
Tanks could be seen on streets outside the camp on Sunday, along with armoured personnel carriers loaded with soldiers and red-bereted members of the special forces. Siniora said the camp's population had fallen from more than 31,000 to fewer than 3,000, with thousands taking flight from the fighting and an increasingly desperate humanitarian situation.
Lebanon's An-Nahar newspaper reported that arrested members of Fatah al-Islam had confessed the group was planning a September 11-style attack in Beirut and bombings to isolate the north and proclaim an Islamic state there.
El-Bared and the 'Heat' in Lebanon!
Jamil Ziabi Al-Hayat - 04/06/07//
Is Lebanon destined for wars or is it the other way round? Is Lebanon a lover of wars or is it that wars are in love with Lebanon? Has Lebanon lost a precious chance, or is it that the chance has lost Lebanon? Is Lebanon wounded, or is it that the Lebanese are the ones who are bleeding? Is Lebanon "rebellious" against all agreements, or is it that the Lebanese are rebellious against them? Each day, the spirit of Lebanon and its complexion change from joy to sadness and bleed, as always, that blood which is capable of penetrating gunpowder. Confrontations, fighting, narcissism and asphyxiation of the national spirit due to external causes, political and sectarian disagreements between those who call themselves Lebanese leaders - all this is the order of the day there.
Last summer, Lebanon went to a battlefield against the will of its people and its government. A war that's been chosen by Hezbollah. It was a vicious war that wreaked havoc over suburbs, the infrastructures, and had its toll on the people. Lebanon lived a "hot" summer abounding in corpses and the stench of blood shed by the Israeli military machines. Today, Lebanon witnesses "sad" days as refugees escape their homes, and the scared inhabitants look for safer places, and more remote ones, away from the threat of explosions and demolition.
Shortly before this summer, straying elements known as "Fatah al-Islam" were seeking to turn Lebanon and Nahr el-Bared into torrents of blood rather than water with an eye on revenge and creating a "heated" summer smelling of blood. This was in response to the warm welcome of Lebanon which opened its arms to them unconditionally and without inquiring about the where, why and what.
The question remains unanswered: Did the Lebanese military really know about these straying elements? How many they are? What are their nationalities? And how did they enter Lebanon to end up in the Palestinian camps?
Surely, the Lebanese military can't lay a hold on the streets of Beirut, and arrest those who break the traffic lights, how can it then get wind of the new comers?
The elements of "Fatah al-Islam" don't mean well for Lebanon, the Lebanese, or the Palestinians, but rather death, demolition, disorder and instability in a country which is already "unstable" and that never witnessed a time of stability to begin with. Otherwise, why are those elements reluctant to surrender if they don't mean any harm to the country, or the people, so we can spare the blood and create a "clean" environment in the Palestinian camps which are filled with refugees fleeing the Israeli machine guns? And why don't the Palestinian leaders in Lebanon take concrete steps to convince the Lebanese and the others?
In a previous interview with the London daily 'al-Hayat', the military commander of the Fatah al-Islam organization, Shihab al-Qaddour, also known as Abu Hurieira, said, "We are ready to blow up every place in Beirut and/or any place else in Lebanon." He pointed out that Fatah al-Islam has sleeper cells on alert in all Palestinian refuge camps and in more than one area in Lebanon "and they are on the alert [to launch] a harsh response - they await only a sign from us." He also said that threatening the organization would only open the fire of hell against Lebanon, as they have suicide bombers ready to carry out suicide operations.
Lebanon is a country torn by wars and disagreements thanks to the political mentalities, and the Lebanese leaders. Lebanon didn't need to see his territory occupied by a terrorist organization which has been allowed entrance, deployment and breeding into a camp that doesn't put up with this new burden over the Lebanese streets, and the Palestinian refugees.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora proves that he is a "Statesman" capable of standing up to difficult challenges, and creating a policy expressive of a "popular" will through the decisions he takes at the times of crises. These decisions don't belittle the crises, which is how some members of the opposition, who don't calculate the repercussions of these continuing disorders and strikes, deal with these crises.
Lebanon is an "open" field; those who play abroad are "almost" known, as well as those who threaten it from the inside. At this "decisive" historic phase the Lebanese should defy all the attempts of those who try to manipulate the destiny of their country before it turns into a huge battlefield, and a haven for warmongers. The victim at the end of the "tragic" play is Lebanon and its people