March 4/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 5,43-48. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Free Opinions
Give Abboud the Boot. Why does Syria need two ambassadors in Washington? Weekly Standard. by David Schenker March 4/07
It's a war of ideas-Islam talk a first for Reclaiming America rally.By James D. Davis March 4/07
From Baghdad to New Orleans, climate at chaos' edge -By David Ignatius March 04/07
Sy Hersh: the dark side of spun a lot -By Michael Young March 04/07

Latest News Reports From miscellaneous sources For March 4/07
Wide Support for International Court Amid Expected Breakthrough-Naharnet
Israel Awaits Stinging Report on the War with Hizbullah-Naharnet

Pederson Tours South Lebanon-Naharnet
Effective explosives found in South Lebanon -- Security sources-Kuwait News Agency

Lebanon's Siniora: "We Don't Want To Be a Battlefield"-TIME
McConnell's Hezbollah allegations signal strikes against the group-PRESS TV
Amr Moosa to visit Tehran-PRESS TV
Knesset Speaker Itzik meets with UN Secretary General-Ha'aretz
Remarks of Senator Barack Obama - As Prepared for Delivery - AIPAC ...Business Wire (press release)
Can the US help Lebanon?Monsters and
Lebanon and the Middle East Crisis
Lebanon's Siniora: "We Don't Want To Be a Battlefield"
Sunni jihadists gathering in Lebanon-United Press International
Calgarian describes ordeal of retrieving daughters from ex in
Iran president to Saudi on first official trip-Reuters

Latest News Reports From the Daily Star For March 3/07
Don't waste Paris III proceeds' - Chirac
Israelis briefly detain Lebanese in South
Rice phones Siniora to assure him of US support
UN assured that troops 'will never' be attacked
Rizk decries 'politicized' status of Hariri tribunal
Attorneys lobby Lahoud to sign off on appointments
Hashem says accusation of land-grab 'fabricated'
Siniora hosts discussion on energy-sector reform
Mitri to discuss Hariri court with Arab ministers
Swiss donate fully loaded ambulance
Berri believes 'good news is on the horizon,' says Qabalan
Bulgarian envoy reiterates support for Siniora
Hoss accuses 'feudal parties' of hijacking Lebanese political sphere
Anfeh skirmish leaves 6 youths wounded
LAU pays tribute to female war correspondents
Chirac's departure doesn't mean support for Lebanon will change

Wide Support for International Court Amid Expected Breakthrough
Parliament's majority leader Saad Hariri and legislator Walid Jumblat have garnered wide support for the international tribunal amid an expected breakthrough on the court at the Saudi-Iranian summit. French President Jacques Chirac expressed hope in talks with Hariri at the Elysee Palace on Friday that the Lebanese parliament would approve the Special International Tribunal for Lebanon. He said, however, if the court was not established by a Lebanese decision then "some parties will have to face the formation of the tribunal under Chapter 7" of the U.N. charter. Chapter 7 allows for the establishment of the court by international parties without the approval of the Lebanese parliament. Speaker Nabih Berri whose Amal movement is part of the Hizbullah-led opposition is refusing to call for a parliament session to ratify the tribunal that would try ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's suspected assassins.
In New York, Druze leader Jumblat received major support from permanent members of the Security Council for the formation of the international court, An Nahar daily reported Saturday. Jumblat said Friday after holding talks with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon that the court "is the key for national reconciliation and the deterrent for killers." An Nahar quoted sources from the pro-government March 14 forces as saying that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Saudi King Abdullah might find a solution to the Lebanon crisis. In December, King Abdullah likened the situation in the Arab world to "a powder keg waiting for a spark to explode." Recently, Riyadh and Tehran, Hizbullah's main backer, began working together to reduce tensions in Lebanon.
Ahmadinejad arrives in Saudi Arabia on Saturday for talks expected to focus not only on the crisis in Lebanon but also the sectarian bloodshed in Iraq and Tehran's nuclear row with the West. The March 14 sources told An Nahar that the formula to end the political deadlock in Lebanon would be based on the formation of a national unity cabinet in return for the setting up of the court.
The government would include 30 members under the rule of 19+10+1. The Lebanese opposition has been camping outside Premier Fouad Saniora's offices in downtown Beirut since Dec. 1 demanding his resignation and the formation of a cabinet of national unity. Beirut, 03 Mar 07, 08:32

Israel Awaits Stinging Report on the War with Hizbullah
A stinging report on the Israeli Government's handling of the Hizbullah rocket barrage against the Jewish State's northern sector during last summer's war is due next week, public radio reported on Saturday. State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss will submit an "extremely severe" report to a parliamentary committee on Tuesday after a lengthy investigation into the government's handling of the north's rocket-battered residents both before and during the 34-day war, the radio reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who saw his approval ratings plummet in the war's aftermath, refused to be interviewed for the report and declined even to answer written questions submitted by Lindenstrauss, the radio report said. Tuesday's preliminary findings precede a final report, to be released at a still undisclosed date, which will address the military's performance during the controversial and inconclusive conflict.
During the war with Hizbullah last July and August, the Shiite militia fired more than 4,000 rockets at northern Israel, forcing more than a million Israelis to spend a month in underground bomb shelters and scores more to flee south. More than 160 Israelis, most of them soldiers, were killed in the war which failed to achieve its main objectives -- to stop Hizbullah from being able to fire rockets into Israel and to secure the release of two soldiers kidnapped in the July 12 cross-border raid that sparked the conflict. Israel was also slammed abroad for the devastating use of its firepower in Lebanon, where more than 1,200 people -- mostly civilians -- were killed, and thousands of homes and infrastructure targets were bombed.(AFP) Beirut, 03 Mar 07, 14:00

Rice Reassures Saniora: No Compromises
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has reassured Premier Fouad Saniora in a telephone conversation that there would be no compromises on Lebanon.
According to a statement released by Saniora's office, the prime minister and Rice discussed on Friday the situation in Lebanon and continued U.S. support for the country. It said Rice "stressed that efforts to find solutions (to conflicts) in the region will not be on the expense of Lebanon."Saniora also urged the U.S. Secretary of State that her country assist in ending Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty, the statement said. "U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 needs to be fully implemented," Saniora added. Beirut, 03 Mar 07, 07:51

Pederson Tours South Lebanon
U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Geir Pedersen has toured south Lebanon where he received a briefing from UNIFIL Commander Gen. Claudio Graziano on the overall situation there. Pederson told reporters at the UNIFIL headquarters in the southern coastal town of Naqoura on Friday that he discussed with Graziano relations between the international troops and residents in the south. Pederson also visited key positions of U.N. peacekeepers and met with troops of the Italian and Spanish contingents. He visited several towns and villages to assess first-hand the recovery and reconstruction work undertaken by the U.N. since the end of the Israeli offensive on the country in August. In Bint Jbeil, he met with legislators Hassan Fadlallah and Ayyoub Hemayyed, Mayor Ali Bazzi and heads of neighboring municipalities to hear their concerns and brief them on the U.N.'s work in south Lebanon. "I have come to south Lebanon again to see with my own eyes how the Lebanese and the international community have joined forces in rebuilding homes and infrastructures," Pedersen said during his stop in Bint Jbeil.
At a morning meeting in Tyre, representatives of various U.N. entities operating in the south briefed Pedersen on the assistance extended by the U.N. to recovery work and the challenges facing them. Beirut, 03 Mar 07, 11:24

Israelis Briefly Detain Lebanese Man
A Lebanese man detained on Friday by Israeli troops at the border with Lebanon was released later in the day, a spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said. "We facilitated his transfer from the Israeli Defense Forces (army) into custody of the Lebanese authorities," Liam McDowall told Agence France Presse. "We are carrying out further investigation to establish all the facts," he said, without wishing to disclose further details.
Earlier, McDowall said the Israelis "confirmed to UNIFIL that they are holding in custody a man they detained Friday in the immediate vicinity of the technical fence, east of (the southern Lebanese village of) Houla." He could not confirm whether the man was detained on the Lebanese or Israeli side of the border.
Lebanese security sources said the man was gathering scrap metal in an area near the border with Israel when he was detained. They identified him as Mahmoud Hussein Hajj, a resident of Houla. Local residents have been collecting and selling scrap metal since last summer's 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah.(AFP) Beirut, 02 Mar 07, 17:33

Give Abboud the Boot
Why does Syria need two ambassadors in Washington?
by David Schenker
03/12/2007, Volume 012, Issue 25
It's been two years since the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri caused the United States to withdraw its ambassador from Syria. But even as the U.S. embassy in Damascus continues to function without its senior diplomat, Syria maintains not one but two ambassadors to Washington. Officially, Syrian president Bashar Assad's top diplomat in the United States is Ambassador Imad Moustapha. Assad's second, unofficial--but reliably pro-Syria--envoy is Lebanon's ambassador to Washington, Farid Abboud.
The absence of a Lebanese ambassador to Washington who is accountable to his own government reflects the ongoing Syrian influence in Lebanon and the fractious nature of Lebanese politics. While the Bush administration has adapted to this dynamic by finding alternative interlocutors to Abboud, the situation remains problematic for Lebanon.
Abboud has been in Washington for eight years, a remarkable tenure given the typical ambassadorial rotation lasts only four years. He was appointed by the pro-Syria Lebanese president Emile Lahoud--who himself was chosen by Assad. And despite the tectonic shift in Lebanese politics away from Syria following the assassination of Hariri, the unabashedly pro-Syria, pro-Hezbollah Abboud remains ensconced in the embassy. The anti-Syrian Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has thus far been incapable of dislodging him.
Not that they haven't tried. Last summer, during the Hezbollah-Israel war, Abboud was recalled to Beirut for condoning Hezbollah's attacks on CNN. Instead of returning to Beirut with his tail between his legs, Abboud stayed in Washington. Lebanon's strife-ridden parliamentary politics have allowed Abboud to remain ensconced in the ambassador's
Abboud has been, in effect, protected by the ongoing power struggle between Hezbollah and the so-called March 14 forces, the anti-Syria alliance led by Siniora. In November 2006, after Hezbollah cabinet ministers--including Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh--withdrew from the government in a gambit to attain more political power, Siniora tried to appoint 58 new ambassadors, all of whom had already been vetted. The move was blocked by pro-Syria president Lahoud, who refused to approve the new diplomats in the absence of the Hezbollah foreign minister's consent. Months later, the deadlock continues, and Abboud's title remains.
But Abboud's ability to function as a diplomat has been seriously eroded. Essentially, Abboud has spent the last six years of the Bush administration largely isolated, having little or no contact with executive branch personnel. Since 2003 Abboud has met with only one senior administration official--then Deputy Secretary of Defense-designate Gordan England--but the meeting happened only because of negligence on the part of one of England's junior staffers. As a matter of policy, the administration has treated Abboud as a Syrian official and has studiously avoided contact.
The ongoing quarantine of Abboud has thrust the Lebanese deputy chief of mission Carla Jazzar--a longtime foreign-service professional unaffiliated with Syria and not beholden to President Lahoud--to the forefront of Lebanese diplomacy in Washington. Much to the chagrin of Abboud, for the past few years Jazzar has surfaced as the de facto charge d'affairs, the primary senior Lebanese diplomatic contact with the U.S. government. And by all accounts, she has proven an outstanding interlocutor. Indeed, many had hoped that after Abboud, Jazzar would be appointed ambassador.
In October, however, it was announced that Antoine Shadid, a veteran Lebanese professional diplomat, would replace Abboud. (Abboud has been reassigned to Tunisia.) Rumors abound as to when Shadid will finally be posted, but given the crisis in Lebanon, it can't be soon enough. Jazzar has done a fine job representing her country both with the U.S. government and in the media, but the uncertain dynamic of a deputy chief of mission loyal to Lebanon and a lame duck ambassador beholden to Syria has not advanced Lebanon's interests in the United States.
The challenges facing the pro-democracy government of Prime Minister Siniora are extremely complex and daunting. Making matters worse is the fact that Beirut's senior representative in Washington neither represents nor advocates on behalf of the elected government in Lebanon. While the Bush administration has long considered Abboud a problem, it has avoided taking any steps to expel him, lest unintended and potentially damaging consequences ensue.
The Bush administration has committed itself to supporting the Siniora government in its struggle against Syria and Iran. And in this context, it would be helpful if the senior Lebanese diplomat in the United States also truly represented and supported his government in Lebanon. Given the ongoing crisis in Lebanon, Washington and Beirut are looking forward to Abboud's eventual departure. His eviction notice is long overdue.
**David Schenker is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. From 2002 to 2006, he was the Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestinian affairs adviser in the office of the secretary of defense.

`It's a war of ideas'
Islam talk a first for Reclaiming America rally
By James D. Davis -Religion Editor
Posted March 3 2007
American leaders -- teachers, journalists, elected officials -- failed to warn America about radicals waging war in the name of Islam, a scholar of Islam told more than a thousand listeners at a conservative rally Friday.
"We are being targeted by the worldwide jihad movement, and we were not informed -- not in the classroom, the newsroom, the courtroom, the art room, the war room," said Walid Phares, addressing the annual Reclaiming America for Christ conference in Fort Lauderdale.
"It is not political or economic," he said. "It's a war of ideas."
Phares, from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C., was one of nine speakers for the first day of the conservative-minded conference, held at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale. Other scheduled speakers included Baptist activist Richard Land, religious broadcasting chief Frank Wright and veteran conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly.
In the first-ever talk on Islam for the decade-old Reclaiming America conference series, Phares painted the modern jihad movement as a throwback to beliefs of the seventh-century Islamic empire. Modern jihadis want to overthrow 50 Muslim states worldwide and reunite them in the old empire, Phares warned.
"In some ways, they're like that TV show Star Gate," said Phares, a former professor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. "They're people from the past, who come to the present and think nothing has changed."
He said anti-jihadi leaders in his native Lebanon wrote essays against the militants in the 1970s and 1980s, which were largely ignored in the West. "All the signs of aggression and attack, and the dissident and reformist messages, were disregarded.
"We are facing off with an enemy that has been in preparation for decades," he said.
He recommended that the United States form alliances with the growing number of Muslim reformist and democratic groups, both in Islamic countries and in western nations. Those opportunities include a groundbreaking summit of Islamic secularists set for Sunday and Monday in St. Petersburg, at which Phares will speak.
The conference went on despite the absence of its founder, the Rev. D. James Kennedy, who has been sidelined since a cardiac arrest Dec. 28. Kennedy was flown Thursday afternoon to a hospital in Michigan for further rehabilitation, Coral Ridge officials reported.
"The main guy isn't here, but the main guy's purpose is instilled in all of us," Brian Fisher, executive vice president of Coral Ridge Ministries, said in an interview. He said he didn't know to which hospital in Michigan Kennedy was transferred.
Conference participants echoed Fisher's remarks, saying they were glad Kennedy was getting more treatment.
"He's an awesome man, and he has good people working with him," said Jackie Hodges, a product director with a bank card company in Benicia, Calif. "I'm confident he'll return. Meanwhile, maybe he'll have some time alone with God."
The last day of the conference starts at 7:30 a.m. today with anti-abortion priest Father Frank Pavone, followed during the day by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and columnist Ann Coulter. Last-day admission is $75. For information, call 954-334-5355.
***James D. Davis can be reached at or 954-356-4730.