LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 8,31-42. Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, 'You will become free'?"Jesus answered them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if a son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father's presence; then do what you have heard from the Father."They answered and said to him, "Our father is Abraham." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!" (So) they said to him, "We are not illegitimate. We have one Father, God." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.
INTERVIEW-Jumblatt sees risk of wider Lebanon split-Reuters -March 29/07
Lahoud disgraced Lebanon in Saudi and should go-By Ali Hussein, Ya Libnan-March 29/07
Latest News Reports From The Daily Star for March 29/07
Saudi king chastises fellow leaders for lack of unity
Abdullah criticizes Beirut protests, voices hopes for deal to end stalemate
Egyptian envoy shares hope for accord
Tueni reports Berri 'seems serious' about electoral law proposal
Feltman honors 100 leading Lebanese women
Suleiman meets new UNIFIL commander
Syrian, Lebanese delegates discuss opening bridge
Chehayeb slams Hizbullah's refusal to disarm
Olmert opposes publicizing testimony in war inquiry
Chidiac blames 'the Syrians' for string of assassinations
Security Council votes to extend Hariri probe
Poll finds majority of Lebanese believe progress of talks between Berri, Hariri is 'satisfactory'
Iraqi refugees flee violence only to live in squalor
New center to care for elderly Palestinians
Teens film take on life in Beirut to share with peers around Mediterranean
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for March 29/07
Arab leaders to offer Israel peace for territories-The Australian
Arab leaders convene 2-day summit
Arabs to Urge Lebanon Dialogue, Mandate Mideast Peace Drive-Naharnet
The Riyadh Arab Summit: Multiple Issues and High Expectations-Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Lahoud disgraced Lebanon in Saudi and should go-Ya Libnan
Syria, Hezbollah control smuggling of cars from Lebanon to Iraq-Ya Libnan
Iraqi Jihadists operating out of refugee camps in Lebanon-Ya Libnan
US worried that Iran supplied weapons to Iraq & Lebanon-Ya Libnan
US blames Syria for letting bombers into Iraq-Independent Online
Most bombers cross from Syria into Iraq-Alsumaria
Lebanon and Palestine crisis-ReliefWeb (press release)
Olmert wants Lebanon testimony sealed-Middle East Online
Lebanon stands divided at Arab summit
The News - International Iran: Letter proves Brits were in Iranian water-Jerusalem Post
Interpol issues extradition warrants for five senior Iranians and ...Jawa Report,
Arabs to Urge Lebanon Dialogue, Mandate Mideast Peace Drive
The Arab summit, which opened in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, was expected to adopt in addition to reviving the long dormant Arab offer of peace with Israel, resolutions on Lebanon as well as Iraq. The daily An Nahar reported Wednesday that the heads of state of the 22-member Arab League will show support for Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government and urge rival Lebanese leaders to re-launch talks aimed at ending the four-month-old political crisis. An Nahar said that the draft resolution to be issued by the summit at the end of its two-day meetings will also give its backing to the "establishment" of the international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes.
It said the resolution will also support the seven-point, cease-fire plan adopted by the Saniora government during Israel's 2006 summer war on Lebanon.
An Nahar said that Saudi King Abdullah had studied the draft resolution during separate meetings with Saniora and Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Citing well-informed sources in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, the paper said the outcome of the meetings would come into sight at the opening session Wednesday. The Abdullah-Assad meeting was the first since relations chilled over Israel's July-August devastating war on Lebanon, which was triggered by the capture of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border Hizbullah attack, and Syrian policy with this neighboring country. Hizbullah is backed by both Syria and Iran.
The Saudi monarch was due to meet President Emile Lahoud on Wednesday, according to an official accompanying the Lebanese president.
An Nahar also quoted diplomatic sources in Riyadh as saying that the summit will set up a ministerial committee that would "back the Arab initiative," thus, visiting Beirut and maintaining contact with government supporters of the March 14 coalition and Hizbullah-led opponents.
It said the committee will be made up of the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and most likely the United Arab Emirates in addition to Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa. Several world figures, including U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, will attend the inaugural session, which will be addressed by 14 speakers, according to an Arab minister.
The annual gathering comes after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appealed to Arab governments to "begin reaching out to Israel" by building on the peace blueprint, first adopted at a summit in Beirut in 2002. Arab foreign ministers agreed during preparatory talks on Monday to revive the plan and mandate working teams to seek to initiate negotiations. The blueprint offers Israel full normalization of relations if it withdraws from all lands it occupied in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and permits the creation of a Palestinian state and the return of Palestinian refugees.
Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally and author of the blueprint, lobbied fellow Arab states to endorse the plan's revival. In doing so, it has leaned particularly on the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas which now leads a brand new government of national unity with the Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya is accompanying Abbas to the summit, which will express support for the unity cabinet and call for an end to a Western financial boycott imposed since Hamas first came to power after winning elections last year. "If this (Arab) initiative is destroyed, I do not believe that a better chance for peace will present itself in the near future," Abbas said. Israel rejected the peace blueprint when it was first adopted, but Israeli leaders have recently spoken of the plan as a starting point for talks.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, however, identified the plan's insistence on the right of return of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Middle East war as a particular stumbling block. Arab ministers said their offer of talks with all parties including Israel was intended to address such problems.
But Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal warned Israel not to expect any further diplomatic overtures. "What we have the power to do in the Arab world, we think we have done," Saud told the Daily Telegraph from Riyadh. "If Israel refuses (the Arab blueprint), that means it doesn't want peace and it places everything back in the hands of fate. They will be putting their future not in the hands of the peacemakers but in the hands of the lords of war," he said. Solana told journalists traveling with him to Saudi Arabia that he hoped that a meeting of the international Middle East peace Quartet -- EU, Russia, UN and United States -- with key Arab players can be swiftly arranged to further the peace process.
"We plan for the next Quartet meeting to take place in the region and if possible another one bringing together the so-called Arab Quartet," he said.
European sources said that initial plans were being made for a Quartet meeting at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in the second half of April.
Eventually it is hoped to get Israel involved in the talks. The summit is also expected to adopt a resolution calling for amendments to the Iraqi constitution aimed at giving more power to the former Sunni Arab elite and reversing moves towards a federal system.
Libya is the only Arab League member boycotting the summit.(Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 28 Mar 07, 12:24
INTERVIEW-Jumblatt sees risk of wider Lebanon split
28 Mar 2007
BEIRUT, March 28 (Reuters) - Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt said on Wednesday a political standoff between his ruling coalition and an opposition that includes Hezbollah might result in the creation of two rival governments if not resolved.
Jumblatt said talks this month had made no progress towards solving the crisis, which has triggered Lebanon's worst unrest since its 1975-1990 civil war. He described the situation as risky.
The split between the ruling coalition, which is opposed to Syrian influence in Lebanon, and the opposition, which includes factions allied to Damascus, was on show at an Arab summit on Wednesday in Riyadh. Lebanon has two delegations at the meeting.
"If the summit is unable to deliver something on Lebanon, meaning that it is unable to stop the Syrian regime from sabotaging the stability of Lebanon... well, it's an open crisis. We will stay in this stalemate," Jumblatt told Reuters.
Pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, whose term ends in November, has said he will not hand his authorities to the current government because, like the opposition, he considers it illegitimate.
The handover is part of the procedure towards the election of a new president by parliament, where the majority of seats are held by the anti-Syrian coalition but the speaker, Nabih Berri, is an opposition leader and a Damascus ally.
Jumblatt said: "They might appoint... another president on their behalf, so we'll end up with two presidents maybe, or two governments."
The opposition has been demanding veto power in an expanded cabinet. The standoff began in November when opposition ministers quit the cabinet and declared it unconstitutional.
Jumblatt said the governing coalition would not give in to the demand for veto power.
"Once they have it, they (will) block everything," he said, adding that the opposition would use it to halt the establishment of an international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 killing of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.
Jumblatt and his allies accuse Syria of the killing. Damascus denies involvement.
The ruling coalition says the opposition campaign aims to derail the tribunal. Hezbollah and its allies say they have no objection to the court in principle but want to discuss its mandate.
Opposition leader Berri and Saad al-Hariri, another ruling coalition leader, failed to agree on the government and the tribunal in talks this month.
"There was no progress because Nabih Berri was asking for ... the blocking minority, which means the (return) of direct Syrian influence ... in exchange for a vague promise to study the tribunal. So no progress," Jumblatt said.
Resumption of talks depended on the regional sponsors of the rival Lebanese, said Jumblatt, describing Hezbollah as "an advanced military post of the Iranians". Jumblatt's coalition is backed by states including Saudi Arabia.
"It's a balance of power," he said. "A regional balance of power between the Arabs on one side and the Iranians, with the Syrians, on the other."
The Riyadh Arab Summit: Multiple Issues and High Expectations
By David Schenker and Simon Henderson
March 27, 2007
On March 28, the Arab League will convene the annual summit of its twenty-two member states in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Despite a record of disunity and inconclusiveness, this annual meeting of Arab leaders remains the subject of intense interest in the region. Rising Sunni-Shiite tensions, talk of a peace opening with Israel, and developments in Iraq, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Lebanon have generated more attention for this year’s summit than usual.
Two Arab summits were convened in 2006. In June, an emergency meeting was held following Hamas’s kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and the subsequent Israeli incursion into Gaza. The meeting concluded with a unanimous condemnation of Israel’s military action. Some four months prior, Arab leaders gathered in Khartoum for the annual Arab Summit. Highlights from that meeting’s final communique included a pledge to provide $55 million per month in funding for the internationally isolated, Hamas-tainted PA; a condemnation of the Syria Accountability Act (a congressional sanctions measure targeting Syria for undermining stability in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories); and praise for Hizballah as a “resistance” organization, over the objection of pro-Western Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora. The communiqué was issued just one month before Hizballah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and sparked a war. Although the summit took place in the Sudanese capital, the humanitarian crisis in Darfur was just a footnote.
Saudi Diplomacy in High Gear
In the months leading up to this year’s summit, Saudi diplomatic activism has surprised the region, eclipsing, at least temporarily, the traditional Egyptian role in Arab politics. Led by Saudi National Security Council chief and former ambassador to Washington Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the kingdom brokered the Mecca accord between the warring Palestinian Fatah and Hamas factions and worked with Iran to try to mediate a solution to the impasse in Lebanon. Riyadh also condemned Hizballah for its provocation last summer and, more recently, hinted at the possibility of Saudi intervention in support of Iraqi Sunnis should Shiites get the upper hand.
Another aspect of this relatively robust Saudi foreign policy is the Arab Peace Initiative, formerly known as the Saudi Initiative. It is believed that the Saudis will move to “reactivate” this initiative at the Arab Summit, building on last September’s secret but widely reported meeting between Prince Bandar and Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert. For the Saudis, a deal with Israel would be an insurance policy vis-à-vis a predatory Shiite Iran. For Israel, however, the seemingly innocuous land-for-peace deal is a nonstarter, as it includes provisions for Palestinians’ “right of return” to their homes in Israel. Both Arab League and Saudi officials say that no modifications will be made to the plan.
The Riyadh meeting will be a real test for the new Saudi diplomacy. The challenge will be for the Saudis to turn the Arab Peace Initiative from a position -- i.e., Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines in exchange for peace and normalization with Arab states -- into a proposal that is acceptable to Israel and that could eventually become a framework for negotiations. To this end, it has been reported that if Israel were to agree in principle to King Abdullah’s 2002 peace initiative, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan would establish a committee to repackage that plan with softened conditions, presumably regarding right of return. Thus far, however, this potential proposal has been couched in vague terms that do not inspire U.S. or Israeli confidence. Weeks after forging an inter-Palestinian agreement based on compromise, what strategy will King Abdullah pursue to forge consensus among Arab leaders on these controversial issues?
It will be difficult to find common ground among the Arab states. According to the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat, the top items under discussion will be “support for the rights of Palestinians, the unity of Lebanon, and peace for Iraq.” Not surprisingly, however, each state comes to the summit with its own separate priorities as well:
Syria. Damascus has two main priorities. First, it would like to use the opportunity to patch up its bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia, which has deteriorated markedly since the November 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri -- a crime for which Syria is largely believed to be responsible. Second, and perhaps more important, Damascus hopes to end its international isolation. As Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told the state news agency after preliminary meetings in Riyadh on March 25, “There is full Arab consensus on the refusal of the American position” regarding sanctions against the Asad regime.
Lebanon: A tale of two governments. Lebanon brings its own special set of issues to the summit. Unable to agree on personnel or positions, as happened last year, two Lebanese delegations will attend this summit: one led by pro-Western Prime Minister Sinioria, the other by Syrian-allied President Emile Lahoud. According to a March 26 al-Hayat report, Lebanon will push for several largely compromise points at the summit, including compensation from Israel for the summer war, a UN role in adjudicating the Shebaa Farms dispute, and assurance of a Palestinian departure from Lebanon and a “right of return to their homes” in Israel. Lebanon will also raise other controversial domestic issues, such as the international tribunal on the Hariri assassination and Lebanese relations with Syria, albeit in a more generic way. In a nod to Hizballah, the Lebanese government is also asking the Arab League to publicly advocate a differentiation between “terrorism and legitimate resistance.”
Palestinians. While Fatah and Hamas have their own separate interests, the Palestinians are entering the summit with a new national unity government and a unified position. The Palestinian agenda is limited and focused on money. The PA seeks Arab support to end the economic blockade on the Hamas-led government, as well as direct budgetary support. Based on statements emanating from Riyadh, it appears that the Arab League may in fact move to end the Palestinians’ isolation. Several Arab states are also likely to renew their pledges to fund the PA, but the actual delivery of these pledges has long been a question mark.
Iraq. The positions advocated by the Iraqi delegation for adoption by the Arab Summit are largely noncontroversial. Among other elements, the platform includes support for the territorial integrity of Iraq and its “Arab and Islamic identity” -- a phrase that is both a slight to Kurds and a brushback for Iran -- as well as a call for a national reconciliation meeting to be held as soon as possible. Baghdad is also seeking Arab support for the following: a review of the de-Baathification law to “take away the rationale for political revenge”; the abolition of militias; and an equitable distribution of oil wealth in Iraq. The Iraqis may also be looking to their Gulf neighbors to finally fulfill their 2003 debt-relief commitments. But most important, Baghdad will be pressing for an end to external intervention in Iraq.
Given the summit agenda, there is a lot at stake for Washington. The administration is making a push to reenergize the moribund Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and has adopted the Arab Peace Initiative as a platform for diplomacy. Whether the Arab initiative eventually plays this kind of positive role is largely contingent on what happens at the Arab Summit. At the same time, it is all but certain that the summit consensus will be to end the PA’s financial isolation -- a step that could undermine continued European Union support for this U.S.-led policy.
And then there is Syria. To date, Saudi Arabia -- one of the leading proponents of Syrian isolation -- has rejected Syrian overtures for a rapprochement. There are even rumors that Riyadh and Tehran may be mediating a solution to the Lebanon crisis that leaves Damascus vulnerable to international sanctions. But Washington’s diplomatic engagement with Damascus this month -- the first in nearly two years -- may be taken as a signal in the region that U.S. policy toward Syria is shifting. Sensing this, Arab states may be more conciliatory toward Damascus at this week’s summit, undermining the already-tenuous international consensus on Syria.
**David Schenker is a senior fellow in Arab politics at The Washington Institute. Simon Henderson is the Institute’s Baker fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program.
Syria, Hezbollah control smuggling of cars from Lebanon to Iraq
Tuesday, 27 March, 2007
Beirut- Some 90 cars stolen in Lebanon were smuggled into Iraq by way of Syria in the first two months of 2007, according to sources in Lebanon.
Although cars smuggled into Iraq mostly end up for sale on the black market -- and are not specifically destined for use in suicide bombings -- Syria's failure to enforce effective border controls on stolen cars raises serious questions as to its ability, or willingness, to prevent other types of cross-border smuggling and infiltrations, including by suicide bombers. As such, the situation helps to undermine efforts to bring security and stability to Iraq.
Car theft is a well-organized criminal activity in Lebanon, and most of the stolen cars end up in Syria. During the period of Syria's military presence in Lebanon, some Syrian intelligence officers participated in the trafficking of stolen cars, charging criminal organizations approximately $1,000 per car for their help in getting the vehicles across the Lebanese-Syrian border. Since the withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country in 2005, incidents of car theft have slowed down noticeably, which suggests the extent to which Syrian officials were involved.
The cars are stolen in Lebanese cities and then taken to chop shops in the northern Bekaa Valley near Baalbek, where Hezbollah maintains a strong presence. At these facilities, the vehicle identification number is erased from the engine block and other indications of the car's origins are removed. From there, they are taken along the rugged back roads through the Anti-Lebanon Mountains into Syria.
When the cars are ready to be smuggled out of Lebanon, Syrian intelligence officers enter the process. Under an arrangement with local officials, the Syrian facilitators turn a blind eye to the smuggling operation -- apparently as long as the smugglers are not caught by Syrian border patrols. In that case, the officials would prosecute the smugglers, though it is not clear whether they would go after the intelligence officers.
The stolen cars are then smuggled across the Syrian border into Iraq, entering the county at the al-Walid crossing near Al Qaim in Anbar province. The crossing is part of a centuries-old system of smuggling routes though the Syrian Desert, which includes the "Rat Line" used to bring foreign jihadist insurgents into Iraq. Although the Syrians claim to be serious about enforcing border security along the Iraqi border, the smugglers can easily avoid Syrian patrols, which operate on a fixed schedule.
Although it is possible that some of these cars end up being used in attacks and suicide bombings in Iraq, the vehicles more likely are destined for the black market. Since the fall of Hussein regime, the market for cars and spare parts has grown. In Baghdad alone, the number of registered cars reportedly has almost tripled, to more than 1 million, since Saddam Hussein's downfall. To satisfy this demand, secondhand cars are imported from the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Jordan. In addition, stolen cars from all over the world -- including the United States -- have ended up in Iraq. It is virtually impossible to trace the origin of most of these vehicles, given the lack of adequate motor vehicle registration and record-keeping in Iraq's often chaotic environment.
Syrian ineffectiveness in plugging the holes in its border with Iraq, however, clearly is one reason for the flood of stolen vehicles. Moreover, the lack of border controls presents another obstacle to security and stability in Iraq because, if cars can be smuggled in, practically anything else can as well -- including suicide bombers.
Lahoud disgraced Lebanon in Saudi and should go
By Ali Hussein,
Ya Libnan Volunteer
Wednesday, 28 March, 2007
Beirut & Riyad - Lebanese Lahoud was welcomed by deputy prince of the Saudi capital, while his counterpart and ally Syrian President Bashar Assad was welcomed by Saudi King Abdullah.
This was the most damaging show of disrespect to Lebanon.
The Saudi government knows this is not the way their officials are met at the Beirut airport, nor this is the diplomatically correct way of meeting Lebanon's top official
The majority of the Lebanese consider Lahoud an illegitimate president and will probably forgive the Saudi's for their poor adherence to internationally recognized protocol. His extended term from 2004 to 2007 was forced on the Lebanese parliament by the Syrian president Basher Assad, who called Lahoud “my personal representative in Lebanon”.
Lahoud is claiming that the Lebanese government headed by prime minister Fouad Siniora is illegitimate. But lets analyze the situation carefully
While Lahoud was forced on the Lebanese parliament, the government of prime minister was voted in by the parliament majority. This parliament majority was elected in 2005 following the departure of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the end of the Syrian military occupation.
Speaker Nabih Berri knows very well that the anti-Syrian parliament majority still controls the parliament, that is why he will never convene the parliament based on orders from Iran and Syria. If the parliament is convened then all existing legislative issues will be approved including the end of Lahoud’s illegal presidency.
Saudi special welcome to Assad, despite Syrian Saudi strained relations
"Recently there was a cloud, but we overcame it," Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Al-Jazeerah ahead of the Arab summit.
Describing Syrian-Saudi ties as "historic", Assad said relations were now "in a good state, and we hope the summit will usher in a new stage."
Ties between Riyadh and Damascus began deteriorating during Israel's July-August war against Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah movement, which is backed by Syria and its ally Iran. The war devastated Lebanon and left it in ruins. Over 1200 died mostly civilians and over 1 million were displaced.
At the time, Assad lashed out at Arab countries which blamed Hezbollah for provoking Israel's onslaught, in what appeared to be a reference to Saudi Arabia, as well as Jordan and Egypt. He referred to the leaders of these countries as ‘half men‘. His comments sparked a wave of anger among Arab countries and underlined the divisions among them. Last week Syrian VP Farouk al-Sharaa during a visit to Cairo said that Assad was not referring to the Arab leaders.
Syria is Lebanon’s no 1 obstacle to stability
President Lahoud should be ashamed of himself for letting Lebanon down by siding with Syria and Iran against his own people .
The 2 main obstacles to Lebanon’s stability are:
1- Government of national unity
2- Approval of the international tribunal
1- What may appear as a legitimate call for uniting the country by having a unity government, the real objective is far from this assumption
The opposition which is controlled by Iran & Syria do not really want a unity government. They want what has been described as a disruptive government, in other words they want a government with veto power on all major decisions, so that Syria and Iran will decide the fate of Lebanon. The current government has 24 members which is plenty for such as mall country. The opposition wants to increase the membership to 30 ministers and want 11 members of the 30.
In Lebanon the constitution requires 2/3 majority for voting on any bill. The 11th minister of the opposition will be therefore the ‘king minister’. All bills will depend on how he votes …and all the Lebanese know how the minister is expected to vote.
Naturally the parliament majority refused the demand of the opposition and unfortunately Lahoud sided with them to please Syria and Iran against Lebanon’s interest.
2- The tribunal has proven to be the no obstacle for Syria, because many high ranking Syrian officials have been named by former UN chief investigator Detlev Mehlis.
The Alrai newspaper has quoted a reliable Iranian source that the opposition wants to change the composition of the international tribunal so that majority of the judges are Lebanese and not foreigners.
The purpose of the International Tribunal is to prosecute the killers of Lebanon’s prime minister Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005 along with 22 others.
According to the source that wanted to remain anonymous for security purposes, a strategy meeting took place recently in Damascus to decide on this issue. The meeting was headed by Syrian General Mohammad Nassif (Abu Wael) who is responsible for the opposition file in Lebanon and representatives from Amal and Hezbollah organizations.
In the proposed International style tribunal, the number of judges will be 7. Four of the judges will be foreign nationals and the remaining three will be Lebanese citizens.
According to the most recent reports about the current talks between Speaker Nabih Berri and parliament majority leader Saad Hariri:
1- Berri is offering to accept the international tribunal but with some modifications. He did not reveal the modifications (on the split in judges), but specified as “amendments that protect Lebanon’s sovereignty “. According to the Iranian source, this means a “majority of Lebanese judges “.
2- Against acceptance of the tribunal by the opposition, Berri‘s initiative calls for a government of 19 – 11, with veto power.
3- According to the Iranian source, since the opposition will have veto power, all the judges that have to be selected by the Lebanese government have to be approved by the opposition. This will allow the opposition to select judges that are friendly to Syria.
The above plot according to the Iranian source is in accordance with the strategy that was decided in Damascus during the above mentioned recent meeting between the Syrians, Hezbollah and Amal.
The desperation on the part of Syria and this cover up strategy with the help of its allies in Lebanon is another solid proof of its involvement in the murder of Hariri and other crimes .
Yes Lahoud again sided with Syria, and refused to sign on the approval of the tribunal by the democratically elected government of Siniora.
Lahoud disgraced Lebanon again - shouldn’t Lahoud go?
Syrian VP Khaddam said that when Lahoud used to travel to Syria, he used to tell everyone very proudly “I am a soldier in the Syrian Army”.
But the Syrian army was forced out. Today we have the Lebanese army in Lebanon, but Lahoud never said he is a proud soldier in Lebanese army.
Shouldn’t the Lebanese rise in full force and demand that Lahoud should go. After all Syria does not recognize Lebanon as a sovereign and independent nation
Time to get back Lebanon's integrity.
Iraqi Jihadists operating out of refugee camps in Lebanon
Tuesday, 27 March, 2007 @ 9:24 PM
BEIRUT -- Sunni militants are moving into Lebanon from Iraq because they regard it as a soft target for terrorist attacks, a British government minister has warned.Several cells, each with up to 12 members, are said to be operating out of the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon. Kim Howells, senior foreign ministry official, spoke out about the danger posed by the emergence of new Sunni jihadists in Palestinian camps after a briefing by the commander of the 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force.
"Some very dangerous people have arrived here from Iraq and other countries who are seasoned jihadists and who sense that they might get an easier ride here -- and there might be softer targets for them in Lebanon," Mr. Howells said.
Security has been stepped up outside the country's 12 Palestinian refugee camps, which are home to about 400,000 refugees -- mostly Sunnis.
But the camps are no-go areas for the Lebanese army. Internal security is handled by Palestinian political factions, with militant Sunni groups establishing themselves within the camps by exploiting Lebanon's continuing political deadlock.
In Nahr al-Bared, a 30,000-strong refugee camp outside Tripoli in northern Lebanon, the Palestinian-born fugitive Shakir al-Abssi is developing his little-known Fatah al-Islam group while amassing an arsenal that includes explosives and rockets.
"It only takes a gun to shoot someone and cause a massive problem," said Timur Goksel, who was for two decades a senior U.N. adviser in Lebanon.
Stridently disowned by the Palestinian Fatah Party of which it purports to be an offshoot, Fatah al-Islam raised concerns among Lebanese security officials late last year after reports that 200 of its members had infiltrated the Nahr al-Bared camp and the nearby Badawi camp.
Amid Lebanon's worst political crisis since the 1975-90 civil war, there is a growing gulf between the Shi'ite-led opposition movement, spearheaded by Iranian-backed Hezbollah, and the Western-backed, Sunni-led government.
Sunni groups are reported to be funded by contributions from oil-rich Saudis, seeking to offset the influence of Hezbollah.
Jawad Adra, the managing partner of the Beirut-based independent research body Information International, said the increasing polarization was providing a breeding ground for anti-Western extremism in Sunni communities around Tripoli and Sidon.
"Western countries need to be careful that their political support for Lebanon's Sunni leaders, to offset the supposed Shi'ite threat posed by Iran through Hezbollah, does not play into the hands of Sunni extremists," Mr. Adra said.
"The growth of Sunni extremism, not just in the Palestinian camps but also in impoverished areas of Lebanon, is a ticking time bomb that is waiting to explode and could sweep all moderates out of its path."
One local political analyst told Ya Libnan " Poor Lebanon , as if it didn't have enough problems, in trying to control armed militia's whose allegiance is not to the country. Between , Hezbollah and Jihadists Lebanon will be between a rock and hard place. Add of course Israel and Syria and you begin to cry for Lebanon"
Source: Washington Times, LONDON SUNDAY TELEGRAPH, Reuters, Ya Libnan
U.S. worried that Iran supplied weapons to Iraq & Lebanon
Tuesday, 27 March, 2007 @ 11:18 PM
Beirut & Washington - More than 20 months ago, the United States secretly sent Iran a diplomatic protest charging that Tehran was supplying lethal roadside explosive devices to Shiite extremists in Iraq, according to American officials familiar with the message.
The July 19, 2005, protest — blandly titled “Message from the United States to the Government of Iran” — informed the Iranians that a British soldier had been killed by one of the devices in Maysan Province in eastern Iraq.
The complaint said that the Shiite militants who planted the device had longstanding ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran, and that the Revolutionary Guards and Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia had been training Iraqi Shiite insurgents in Iran and supplying them with bomb-making equipment.
“We will continue to judge Iran by its actions in Iraq,” the protest added.
Iran flatly denied the charges in a diplomatic reply it sent the following month, and it continues to deny any role in the supply of the lethal weapons. But the confidential exchange foreshadowed the more public confrontation between the Bush administration and Iran that has been unfolding since December.
In the past four months, the administration has sought to put new pressure on Tehran, through military raids against Iranian operatives in Iraq, the dispatch of an American aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, as well as the increasingly public complaints about Iran’s role in arming Shiite militias. The American actions prompted criticism that the White House is trying to find a scapegoat for military setbacks in Iraq, or even to prepare for a new war with Iran.
A review of the administration’s accusations of an Iranian weapons supply role, including interviews with officials in Washington and Baghdad, critics of the administration and independent experts, shows that intelligence that Iran was providing lethal assistance to Shiite militias has been a major worry for more than two years.
The concern intensified toward the end of 2006 as American casualties from the explosive devices, known as explosively formed penetrators, or E.F.P.’s, began to climb. According to classified data gathered by the American military, E.F.P. attacks accounted for 18 percent of combat deaths of Americans and allied troops in Iraq in the last quarter of 2006.
Excluding casualty data for the Sunni-dominated Anbar Province, where the explosives have not been found, the devices accounted for about 30 percent of American and allied deaths for the last quarter of the year.
Some Democrats in Congress, while critical of many aspects of Bush administration policy toward Iraq and Iran, say they are persuaded by the intelligence pointing to an Iranian role in supplying E.F.P.’s. Debate remains about whether Iran’s top leaders ordered the supply of the weapons, about whether the Iranian-supplied devices can be copied in Iraq and about American policy toward Tehran.
In January, the number of American and allied troops killed by E.F.P. attacks was less than half of December’s total. That trend continued in February.
Some American officials suggest that this may be a response to their efforts to highlight the role Iran is accused of playing, but another factor may be that many Shiite militants have opted not to confront American troops. The weapon, however, is still a major danger. On March 15, an E.F.P. attack in eastern Baghdad killed four American service members and wounded two others.
A Devastating Weapon
E.F.P.’s are one of the most devastating weapons on the battlefield. The weapons fire a semi-molten copper slug that cuts through the armor on a Humvee, then shatters inside the vehicle, creating a deadly hail of hot metal that causes especially gruesome wounds even when it does not kill.
Many of the E.F.P.’s encountered by American forces in Iraq are both difficult to detect and extremely destructive. Because they fire from the side of the road, there is no need to dig a hole to plant them, so they are well suited for urban settings. Because they are set off by a passive infrared sensor, the kind of motion detector that turns on security lights, they cannot be countered by electronic jamming.
Adversaries have used the weapon in new ways. On Feb. 12, a British Air Force C-130 was damaged by two E.F.P arrays as it landed on an airstrip in Maysan Province, the first time the device was used to attack an aircraft, according to allied officials. Allied forces later destroyed the aircraft with a 1,000-pound bomb to keep militants from pilfering equipment.
Over the course of the war, the devices have accounted for only a small fraction of the roadside bomb attacks in Iraq; most bombing attacks and most American deaths have been caused by less sophisticated devices favored by Sunni insurgents, not Shiite militias linked to Iran. But E.F.P.’s produce significantly more casualties per attack than other types of roadside bombs.
“They were a new type of threat with a great potential for damage,” said Lt. Col. Kevin W. Farrell, who commanded the First Battalion, 64th Armor of the Third Infantry Division, in 2005, when a penetrator punched through the skirt armor of one of the battalion’s M-1 tanks and cracked its hull. “They accounted for a sizable percentage of our casualties. Based on searches of the Baghdad environment we occupied and multiple local Iraqi sources, we believed that they came from Iran.”
A Gradual Realization
American intelligence analysts say the first detonation of an E.F.P. in Iraq may have come in August 2003. But their view that Iran was playing a role in the attacks emerged slowly. American officials said their assessment of Iranian involvement was based on a cumulative picture that included forensic examination of exploded and captured devices, and parallels between the use of the weapons in Iraq and devices used in southern Lebanon by Hezbollah.
“There was no eureka moment,” said one senior American official, who like several others would discuss intelligence and administration decision-making only on condition of anonymity.
The entire E.F.P. assembly seen repeatedly in Iraq, including the radio link used to activate it and the infrared sensor used to fire it, had been found only one other place in the world, American officials say: Lebanon, since 1998, where it is believed to have been supplied by Iran to Hezbollah.
According to one military expert, some of the radio transmitters used to activate some of the E.F.P.’s in Iraq operate on the same frequency and use the same codes as devices used against Israeli forces in Lebanon.
More evidence came from the interception of trucks in Iraq, within a few miles of the Iranian border, carrying copper discs machined to the precise curvature required to form the penetrating projectile. Wrappers for C4 explosive, among other items, were traceable to Iran, officials say.
An important part of the American claim comes from intelligence, including interrogation of captured militia members, about Shiite militants who use E.F.P.’s and maintain close ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah.
The militant groups led by Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani have operated one of the most important E.F.P. networks. According to American intelligence reports, his network has been receiving E.F.P. components and training from the Quds Force, and elite unit of the Revolutionary Guard, and Hezbollah operatives in Iran. He is on the Iraqi most-wanted list and the Iraqi criminal court issued a warrant for his arrest in 2005.
Ahmad Abu Sajad al-Gharawi, a former Mahdi Army commander, has been active in Maysan Province. American intelligence officials say his group was probably linked to the attack on British forces that was cited in the American diplomatic protest. He is also on the Iraqi government’s most-wanted list, and an Iraqi warrant has been issued for his arrest.
In September 2005, British forces arrested Ahmad Jawwad al-Fartusi, the leader of a splinter group of the Mahdi Army that carried out E.F.P. attacks against British forces in southern Iraq. American intelligence concluded that his fighters might have received training and E.F.P. components from Hezbollah.
Mr. Fartusi lived in Lebanon for several years, and a photograph of him with Hezbollah members was discovered when British forces searched his home. In the view of American officials that may be circumstantial evidence of an Iranian connection, because American intelligence experts say Hezbollah generally conducts operations in Iraq with the consent of Iran.
Last week, American-led forces captured Qais Khazali and Laith Khazali, two Shiite militants who were linked to the kidnapping and killing of five American soldiers in Karbala in January, the United States military said. American officials say they have also trafficked in E.F.P.’s.
Some people who are experts on military matters but who acknowledge they do not have access to the classified intelligence have said the weapons could be made in Iraq. But American officials say they have not found any facilities inside Iraq where the high-quality E.F.P. components are being manufactured.
Nonetheless, the E.F.P. experience in Iraq appears to have, in turn, influenced developments in Lebanon. The installation of E.F.P.’s in foam blocks painted to resemble rocks, a technique first used in 2005 by Shiite militias in Iraq, appeared last summer in Lebanon when Hezbollah was battling Israeli forces. Previously, Hezbollah had generally placed the devices on tripods at the side of the road, covering them with brush to avoid detection.
“There’s almost been a cross-pollenization,” one official said.
American and British forces have been the primary targets in the E.F.P. attacks, but the devices have also been used against Iraqi security forces. In June 2005, a Japanese convoy near Samawa was struck by a roadside bomb that used a remote control firing device typically provided by Iran or Hezbollah. Concerned by the attacks, the British government protested through diplomatic channels in Tehran that year. Taking note of the British complaint, the Americans made their protest through Swiss intermediaries in Iran. As evidence of an Iranian role, the American complaint cited a May 29, 2005, E.F.P attack near Amara that killed a 21-year-old British lance corporal, Alan Brackenbury. Iran denied any involvement.
Discussing Concerns Publicly
After that diplomatic rebuff, American officials began to broach the topic publicly. In August 2005, Stephen J. Hadley, President Bush’s national security adviser, said allied forces were being made targets of bombs “that seem to have a footprint similar to that of devices used by groups that have historically had Iranian support.”
In October 2005, the British ambassador to Iraq, William Patey, told reporters in London that Iran was supplying lethal technology that had been used against British troops. Prime Minister Tony Blair added, “The particular nature of those devices lead us to either to Iranian elements or to Hezbollah.” At the time Mr. Blair expressed caution about the certainty of the link to Iran, but in February of this year he said it was clear that Iran “is the origin of that weaponry.”
Beginning in April 2006, E.F.P. attacks began to rise. With both the diplomatic protests and the public statements having failed to stop the attacks, American officials again began to discuss what to do. The changing nature of the American strategy, with its increased emphasis on challenging Shiite militias in and around Baghdad, made the issue all the more pressing.
According to officials involved in the discussion, who asked not be identified, one concern was that raiding Iranian operatives in Iraq might provoke Iran to increase lethal assistance to Shiite militants. Another worry was that it might require the American command to divert military and intelligence assets from missions against Sunni insurgents, like Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
“For many months American officials were torn between a desire to do something and a wish to avoid confrontation,” Philip D. Zelikow, a former senior State Department official, said in a recent speech. “When a government is conflicted about what to do, the usual result is inaction.”
As the Bush administration debated what to do, one issue involved the rules of engagement if American forces were to conduct raids against Iranian operatives in Iraq. After the United States Central Command submitted a plan for such raids, one option that was weighed was to declare the Quds Force that is operating in Iraq, to be a “hostile force.”
Such an order would give the military a clear legal justification for taking action against Iranian officials and operatives in Iraq, and flexibility in planning the raids.
Other officials said the Iranians were also involved in economic and social programs in Iraq. They argued for a more limited approach, saying that the United States should single out only Iranian operatives found to have “hostile intent” against coalition forces. The Bush administration decided that the raids would be carried out under the more limited rules of engagement for now.
Meanwhile, in Baghdad, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., then the top American commander, approved plans to brief the news media on the E.F.P. issue — a reversal for military officials, who had been reluctant to highlight the effectiveness of the weapons for fear of encouraging their use.
“Our intelligence analysts advised our leaders that the historical Quds Force pattern is to pull back when their operations are exposed, so MNF-I leadership decided to expose their operations to save American lives,” said Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the chief spokesman for Multinational Forces-Iraq, as the American-led command is known.
The Iran Connection
Some Democratic lawmakers who are critical of the administration’s Iraq policies say they now accept that there is a connection between Iran and the E.F.P. attacks in Iraq, though they emphasize that Iran is not the primary reason for instability in Iraq.
Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat who opposed Mr. Bush’s troop reinforcement plan, said he believed that the Bush administration was using the E.F.P. issue to distract attention from the difficulties in Iraq. But he said he was persuaded that the weapons were coming from Iran, in part from extensive talks with American and British commanders during trips to Iraq.
“They want to keep us under pressure in Iraq without causing a major power reaction by us or a major meltdown within Iraq, which puts a failing state on their borders,” Mr. Reed said of the Iranians.
At a February hearing, Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a critic of the plan to send more troops to Baghdad, pressed Mike McConnell, the new director of national intelligence, to acknowledge that other countries in the region, too, were supplying insurgents in Iraq.
Mr. Levin, however, said he was “not surprised” by Mr. McConnell’s view that some of Iran’s leaders probably knew of E.F.P. deliveries arranged by the Quds Force, and aides say Mr. Levin believes that the administration has been too cautious about pinning the blame on Iran’s leaders.
Flynt Leverett, a senior fellow at the New American Foundation and a Middle East specialist who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency and on the staff of the National Security Council, also said he believed that Iran was supplying munitions to Shiite militias.
But Mr. Leverett said the threat to American troops from Sunni insurgents, who draw on Syria and Saudi Arabia for money and other logistical support, was “orders of magnitude” greater than that from Shiites, and he contended that the Bush administration’s public emphasis on the E.F.P.’s was part of a larger administration strategy to blame Iran “for the failure of the American project in Iraq.”
In the report it completed in December, the Iraq Study Group called for opening talks with Iran and suggested Iran could take steps to improve security in Iraq by stemming “the flow of equipment, technology, and training to any group resorting to violence in Iraq.”
“The fact that Iran may be supplying lethal equipment is all the more reason to deal with them,” Lee H. Hamilton, a co-chairman of the panel, said in an interview. “We do think it fortifies the case for engaging Iran.”