March 7/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 23,1-12. Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens (hard to carry) and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.' As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.' You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Latest News Reports From miscellaneous sources For March 7/07
Optimism over End to Lebanon Crisis Dwindles-Naharnet
Murr: Army Weapons Exclusively in South-Naharnet
Gemayel: International Tribunal Key to Ending Political Deadlock-Naharnet
Lebanese Suspect Testifies to Planting Bomb on German Train-Naharnet
Lebanon optimistic on resolving crisis-United Press International
Israel's army, legislature battle over Lebanon war-Reuters
UNIFIL's Hard Work Paying Off in Lebanon, Safety Remains Questionable-BBSNews
Small But Important Steps on Iran, Hezbollah and Argentina-Counterterrorism Blog
Ros-Lehtinen Comments on Interpol Decision to Issue Capture ...PR Newswire (press release)
Hezbollah sees solution to political crisis-People's Daily Online

Agreement seen in schism between governing factions-
Washington Times

Syria and Hezbollah rearmament-
Iran denies temporary halt to uranium enrichment-Irish Examiner 
Israel's Olmert under fire over Lebanon war probe-Reuters
Who did more harm to Lebanon, the Syrians or the Israelis?”

Latest News Reports From the Daily Star For March 6/07
Doubts surround reported Turkish bid to lead naval arm of UNIFIL
Berri adviser expects deal to be sealed this week
Olmert spars with government watchdog ahead of report on handling of war
Chamoun to meet top US officials in Washington
Sfeir 'supports' any group promoting national cohesion
Ghattas Khoury says US, UN 'fully' back Hariri court
Arab Media Forum flees for Amman
Germany promises 'modern' project to monitor Syrian border
Gemayel: Stable Lebanon is key to regional peace
Security forces round up 20 drug users in Sidon, launch search for nine dealers
FPM teaches youth members how to make their point - especially with journalists
Southerners risk life and limb to work bomb-laden lands

Chamoun to meet top US officials in Washington
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
The Central News Agency (CNA) reported Monday that National Liberal Party leader Dory Chamoun will head to Washington "soon" to meet with top US officials. Speaking to CNA Monday, Chamoun called on Speaker Nabih Berri to allow "normal parliamentary activities" to take place. He added that calls for "civil disobedience" would only help "widen the gap between the government and the opposition."

Sfeir 'supports' any group promoting national cohesion

Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir said Monday he "supported" any gathering that promotes national cohesion, and hoped the Lebanese work to find a "final" solution to the current crisis. Sfeir was addressing a delegation from the Multaqa Gathering headed by MP Pierre Dakkash. Earlier Monday, Dakkash enumerated the goals of the newly established group, "which aims to revive the presence of Christians in all sectors of Lebanese life." Dakkash said this "does not mean marginalizing the role of Muslims," but rather to "promoting a more productive role for Christians in crafting Lebanese identity."

Gemayel: Stable Lebanon is key to regional peace
Former president stresses any solution must respect country's Constitution and traditions

By Hani M. Bathish -Daily Star staff
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
BEIRUT: Achieving stability in Lebanon is the first step to solving other Arab crises, especially those of Palestine and Iraq, former President Amin Gemayel said Monday. The former president was speaking from Egypt following a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whom he met for talks on the current situation in the Arab world and the Lebanese crisis.
"During our meeting, I sensed from President Mubarak his complete understanding of the situation in Lebanon and his support for Lebanon's march toward internal stability and peace through the respect for constitutional institutions and the Lebanese democratic system," Gemayel said
Leaving the two-hour-meeting with Mubarak with a proclaimed sense of optimism, Gemayel hoped efforts exerted by the Egyptian president with other Arab countries concerned, in particular Saudi Arabia, arrive at a solution to the current political deadlock in Lebanon. Gemayel said that any solution to the current crisis and any agreement reached has to respect the Lebanese Constitution and Lebanese traditions, and not be just a temporary "pain-killer" solution that results in only a "fragile truce," which no sooner materializes than it falls apart. "President Mubarak is conducting intensive contacts with Lebanese politicians, either directly or through envoys, and he is in constant touch with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on finding solutions that meet the best interests of the Lebanese people, cement stability, respect constitutional institutions and the applicable laws," Gemayel said. Speaking to the Egyptian press, Gemayel said all crises in the region are interconnected and said the key to any solution to the Lebanese crisis is the ratification of the tribunal of an international character to try suspects in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and all assassinations since then, up to the November killing of his own son, Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel. "We do not look at the tribunal as a means for exacting revenge, but we see it as a means to end the criminal [assassinations] actions in Lebanon, that have been aimed at senior journalists, politicians and religious figures," the former president said. He said that such criminal actions cannot be stopped except through international action by the UN Security Council and by ratifying the tribunal and the election of a new Lebanese president "especially as the extension of the current president's term was a challenge to UN Security Council Resolution 1559."Gemayel said he hoped progress is made toward an inter-Lebanese accord that comes about through agreement over the tribunal and achieving national interests, and affirming the legitimacy of the present government, which he pointed out still has the confidence of the parliamentary majority.

Free Shiite Movement leader blasts SSNP and Hezbollah

Tuesday, 6 March, 2007 @ 2:21 AM
Beirut- The leader of the Free Shiite Tayyar ( movement) Mohammad el Hajj Hassan commented on the seizure of the SSNP weapons from the Renault 12 car in Bhamdoun yesterday: “Congratulations to the Lebanese customs authorities for a job well done . The seizure of the weapons is another solid proof of the involvement of the Syrian Socialist National Party ( SSNP) in causing trouble and in the destabilization of this country.”He added : I have a question. When will this criminal political party that follows the instructions of Syrian president Bashar el Assad stop shedding Lebanese blood . He went on to say : “this is the same party that is behind the murder of former Prime Minister Riad el Solh and former president Bashir el Gemayel. Perhaps they are also behind the crimes of 2005 and 2006”.Hassan accused Syrian president Bashar el Assad of being behind the actions of SSNP . “ Bashar el Assad is fully responsible for the actions of this party because he employed them to cause trouble and destabilize our country”
He questioned the silence of the country and lack of action: What surprises me most is the silence of the government and judicial authorities about the SSNP and why they have not moved swiftly to dissolve this criminal political party? He urged Hezbollah to refrain from giving the SSNP any political cover like they did last December.
Hassan praised the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their efforts in trying to end the Lebanon crises and in helping Lebanon to be a truly sovereign and Independent nation , free from the interference of Iran and Syria. Hassan saved the harshest criticism to Hezbollah leader when he said” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on the Day of Judgement (Qiyamah) will be asked about the injustice and misery he caused so many people and the damages he caused this country . He urged him to” call on his people to end the protest which has caused tremendous damage to the economy and to vacate downtown Beirut”.Sources: LBC Arabic

UNIFIL wins hearts and minds in south Lebanon

Tuesday, 6 March, 2007
Beirut - Nepalese soldiers are teaching computing skills to the women of Houla, a Shia Muslim village 2km from Lebanon's southern border with Israel.
At barracks across the south-east, Spanish troops meet their Lebanese counterparts to teach them Spanish. And at 8am in the Christian valley town of Ebl Al Saqi, just south of the Litani River, a class of excited eight and nine-year-olds from Al Fardis School learn the basics of yoga from the Sikhs of the 15th Punjab Division. "I like everything about it. I have pain in my knees and it takes that away," said Hada'a Khafaja, a pupil at Al Fardis, who had just finished her morning workout with some of the Indian soldiers of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL). "I started when the first class began and now my older sister wants me to teach her how to do it," said Hada'a. Across the towns and villages of southern Lebanon - where communities continue to struggle six months after the end of Israel's devastating bombardment of the area during its war with the armed wing of Shia political party Hezbollah - UNIFIL peacekeeping troops have launched a concerted effort to win the hearts and minds of the local people. "Humanitarian assistance is a very important part of our work. For UNIFIL to work, we need solid relations with the people south of the Litani," UNIFIL spokesman Liam McDowall told IRIN.
Humanitarian assistance
"The first need is security, to make sure the agents of the state are in charge. But there is an immediate need for humanitarian assistance. People want to see positive developments. Security with no development would mean no hope," McDowall said.
UNIFIL began Quick Implementation Projects (QIPs) this month, said McDowall, with an overall budget of US $500,000 to spend on projects of up to US $25,000, such as digging wells, repairing electricity cables and providing street lighting. Mobile health clinics treat up to 4,000 Lebanese a month, said McDowall, while hundreds of herds of livestock have benefited from the expertise of UNIFIL vets. In Ebl Al Saqi, UNIFIL's effort to reach out to local communities is paying off.
"The children have responded very well to the yoga. Their attention and enthusiasm have increased," said Aida Slika, head teacher at Al Fardis School. "If there is no yoga class, they ask why not. They never ask that about any other class." Major Sumit Sharma, press officer of the 15th Punjab, said an agreement had been reached with Lebanese officials for the Indian battalion to provide Lebanese amputees with artificial limbs, produced at around a tenth of the average cost by a factory in the Indian city of Jaipur. Fifty people had already received artificial limbs imported from Jaipur, he said, while lists were being drawn up of the many hundreds of other Lebanese who also require them. UNIFIL has monitored Lebanon's southern border with Israel since 1978, but in the aftermath of last summer's war, its troop numbers swelled to 10,000 armed soldiers deployed across southern Lebanon, in concordance with UN resolution 1701.
A further 10,000 Lebanese troops have been deployed to the area, tasked with preventing any militia groups, first among them Hezbollah, carrying weapons south of the Litani River. UNIFIL now make up to 400 patrols a day, said McDowall, accessing "all areas" of southern Lebanon, a region that was formerly tightly controlled by Hezbollah.
Hezbollah rockets and weapons
"We continue to turn up rockets and weapons," said McDowall. "The Lebanese army are performing well and their activities are closely coordinated with us. But it is still a very delicate situation in the south."
Though UNIFIL officials say no armed Hezbollah fighters have been seen moving weapons inside UNIFIL's area of operation since last September, there was, reportedly, evidence that Hezbollah fighters were building a new line of defense just north of the Litani.
Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah said this month that his group was re-arming and that weapons were being sent to "the front" in southern Lebanon.
Last month, the Shia group demanded the return of a lorry loaded with rockets and mortars that had been seized by Lebanese officials, saying the weapons were intended for Hezbollah's military wing. Though welcoming of UNIFIL's presence, some residents of southern Lebanon said they felt Hezbollah remains their best line of defense against any future Israeli attack. "We are with UNIFIL and we thank them for their work here," said Ahmed Hassan, Mukhtar [local elder] of Khiyam, one of the towns worst hit by Israeli bombing. "But UNIFIL are just observers, and if the Israelis decide to bomb us again the UN will be the first to be hit again," he said, referring to the 25 July Israeli strike on a UN observation post just outside Khiyam, which killed three UN observers. But if a lasting security solution for southern Lebanon remains elusive, UNIFIL's battle for hearts and minds is, for now, reaping rewards. "We have been received with open arms and we have excellent relations with the common man and the local administration," said Sharma. "We have had no skirmishes and we have not noticed any hostile activity south of the Litani, so I feel that the mission is succeeding." Picture: United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Beligian medics treat Ali Kashakish for a scorpion bite in a Belgian military field hospital in Tibnine, south Lebanon, March 1, 2007. Residents have welcomed medical care and other free help from UNIFIL, including language and yoga classes. A Belgian military field hospital in Tibnine has treated some 2,300 civilians since October. Source: IRIN, Reuters

FPM teaches youth members how to make their point - especially with journalists

By Nour Samaha -Daily Star staff
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
HARISSA: The Free Patriotic Movement's (FPM's) youth wing held a two-day conference over the weekend in Harissa, in order to educate its members and supporters on communication skills and on how to deal with the media. "The point of this camp is to give the students new tools in order to hold better discussions about the FPM with others," FPM youth leader Mario Chamoun told The Daily Star. "It's an occasion for students to raise questions and concerns. We want members who are not followers, but who can think for themselves. The people who are presenting at the camp are professionals who can provide the tools necessary for the students to be innovative."The camp began on Friday evening with the attendance of 60 selected youths from several private universities. Participants ranged from first-year students to Masters candidates from the American University of Beirut, the Lebanese American University, the Universite Saint Joseph (USJ), Sagesse, and Antonine stayed the night in Harissa, overlooking Jounieh.
May Akl, the FPM press officer who deals with foreign media, gave a presentation on the workings of both local and international media.
"This information is vital to the students because they are in constant contact with the media, whether it be foreign or local," said Akl. "They are the future of this country, and people always want to know what they think, so it is important for them to be aware."
"Specifically with regards to the international press, it is important for the students to understand why they [the students] are being asked these particular questions, and to know how to answer them in the best way, as the press in question do not hold the same background in Lebanese history and therefore will not understand everything," she explained. Akl told the members that on a local level there is now what she called "an aggressive attitude" by the press toward the FPM. In order to deal with that, she said, it is necessary for the students to remain calm and avoid conflict. "You have to minimize confrontations with people from the press who are attempting to provoke you," she told them. Elias Abou Chebel, an engineering student at USJ, found the camp a necessary event for all youths, regardless of which party they belong to. "It's an opportunity to bring students who share the same ideas but are at other universities closer together," he said. "It's also a chance to both express your opinion, and to learn more, especially on how to transmit good arguments to others.""The media in Lebanon is 80 percent against the FPM," he argued, "so it's necessary that we learn how to defend our cause appropriately."Presentations were also delivered on Saturday by MP Ibrahim Kanaan, MP Farid Khazen and former Finance Minister Elias Saba.

Murr: Army Weapons Exclusively in South

Defense Minister Elias Murr has refuted Israeli claims that Lebanon was violating Security Council Resolution 1701, An Nahar reported Tuesday.
The daily's Washington correspondent quoted informed sources as saying Murr told U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon in New York on Monday that the Lebanese military will confiscate all weapons that do not belong to the armed forces. The sources added that Murr stressed Lebanon's commitment to the cease-fire resolution that brought an end to the July-August war between Israel and Hizbullah. An Nahar said that Israel has claimed it has satellite images showing violation of the resolution.
However, Murr stressed to Ban that "the military is deployed in all sensitive regions in the south and there are no arms other than the Lebanese army's weapons there."
Resolution 1701 calls on the Lebanese government "to secure its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel."Murr is expected to hold talks with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington on Tuesday in a visit aimed at shoring up support for the army. Beirut, 06 Mar 07, 11:31

Optimism over End to Lebanon Crisis Dwindles
Optimism that emerged following the Iranian-Saudi summit has dwindled after an announcement by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal that the Lebanon situation remains unchanged. "The situation there hasn't changed in terms of political turmoil and lack of stability," Faisal told a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh Monday. He also urged Lebanon's feuding parties to adopt a "positive change" to solve the country's political crisis, adding that the "Lebanese must put an end (to the crisis) and decide for themselves to put national interest above all.""How much Lebanon should suffer and waste opportunities before its people can enjoy stability?" Faisal wondered.The foreign ministers of the GCC, which groups Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Qatar, later released a statement urging "all parties and Lebanese political groupings to resort to dialogue."The statement also condemned turmoil in Lebanon that is shaking "security and stability" in the country. However, The Daily Star on Tuesday quoted sources close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri as saying that a settlement to the three-month-old power struggle between the government and the Hizbullah-led opposition could be reached this week.
The daily said that Berri, a close Hizbullah ally, and parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri are coordinating process of "announcing the solution."
The sources said Berri was expected to hold a news conference within the coming days. "There is a deadline set for end of this week to announce a solution at the insistence of Saudi King Abdullah, heavy insistence," Arafat Hijazi told the Daily Star. But An Nahar said no deal has yet been concluded. It quoted one source from the ruling majority as saying that "there has not been any new development" that could resolve the political impasse. Rival Lebanese leaders have been expressing optimism that the ongoing political crisis was near an end. Positive atmosphere emerged following an Iranian-Saudi summit on Saturday where the two leaders agreed to resolve the Lebanon crisis. The Saudi kingdom supports Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government, while Iran is Hizbullah's main backer.
Hijazi said that the new deal was based on "the 19 + 1 formula for a national unity government" which would give Hizbullah and its ally veto power.
"The ruling majority received guarantees from both the Saudi king and the Iranian president that the opposition will not use the 11th minister to topple the government," the Daily Star quoted Hijazi as saying. "What more do they want?"But the ruling majority source, quoted by An Nahar, accused the opposition of "leaking news that the majority has yielded to the 19 + 1 formula … this is baseless." Beirut, 06 Mar 07, 08:41

Gemayel: International Tribunal Key to Ending Political Deadlock
The key to resolving Lebanon's crippling political crisis is to form a Special International Tribunal for Lebanon, former President Amin Gemayel said Monday.
"The key to resolving the Lebanese crisis lies in ratification of the international tribunal," that would try suspects involved in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's murder and other crimes as demanded by the U.N. Security Council, Gemayel said after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
"We don't see the international tribunal from a vindictive standpoint, but rather (as a means) to end the criminal acts taking place," in Lebanon, said Gemayel, whose son, Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, was murdered in November in the Beirut suburb of New Jdeideh. "The meeting concentrated on the necessity to resolve the Lebanese crisis," Gemayel told journalists.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 06 Mar 07, 07:13

Lebanese Suspect Testifies to Planting Bomb on German Train
A Lebanese citizen testified to judicial interrogators Monday to planting one of the bombs used in last year's abortive attempt to blow up two German trains, a judicial official in Beirut said. The suspect, Jihad Hamad, told an investigating magistrate that he was trying to avenge the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, the official said. Lebanese authorities arrested Hamad and three other suspects on charges of planting bombs on two trains at Cologne station on July 31. German surveillance cameras are reported to have filmed the suspects as they pulled wheeled suitcases in the station. The bombs were found later that day on trains at Koblenz and Dortmund stations. Their detonators went off but failed to ignite the explosives.
On Monday, police took the four suspects under heavy security from Roumieh prison east of the Lebanese capital to the Justice Palace in central Beirut, where they underwent preliminary interrogation by Judge Michel Abu Arraj. Hamad, who hails from the northern city of Tripoli, told the judge that his aim was not to kill but to defend Islam, the official said. He said he was retaliating for the publication of 12 cartoons that satirized the Prophet Muhammad. One of the drawings, which were first published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005, showed the prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb. The cartoons, which were republished in German and other European papers, sparked outrage across the Muslim world.
The head of Germany's Federal Crime Office, Joerg Ziercke, has said that the train-bomb suspects were also motivated by the June 7 killing of al-Qaida leader in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a U.S. airstrike. No date for Hamad's trial has been set. The three other suspects in custody are Ayman Hawa, Khalil al-Boubou and Khaled Khair-Eddin el-Hajdib, whose brother Youssef is under arrest in Germany in connection with the case. German officials have also arrested a 23-year-old Syrian, Fadi al-Saleh, on suspicion that he did research on the Internet to prepare the bombings. Germany wants to extradite the suspects, but there is no extradition treaty between the European country and Lebanon. Lebanon has decided to try the suspects in its courts, as they were arrested on its territory, and defer consideration of extradition until later.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 05 Mar 07, 16:38

Who did more harm to Lebanon, the Syrians or the Israelis?”

3/6/2007 -Dear Sheikha Sajida,
I hope by the time my message reaches you, you’ll be able to reply back to enlighten me and others about this issue which I see as hugely important, specially at this particular time of turmoil in the Middle East. Watching what’s currently taking place in Lebanon, I can’t but lament the withdrawal of the Syrian forces from the country, as a result of international pressure, led by the United States following the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Al Hariri in mysterious circumstances two years ago. The Syrian Arab forces, as stated Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara in a letter to the UN in April 2005, when Syria announced the withdrawal of all of its military forces from Lebanon in line with United Nations demands, were deployed “in Lebanon, at the request of Lebanon and under an Arab mandate". Please compare our country under the protection of Syrian forces two years ago, and Lebanon today, facing almost daily aerial violations by the Israelis.
Who did more harm to Lebanon, the Syrians who protected the country’s sovereignty or the Israelis who massacred its civilians?!
The amount of bias and the double standard ruling the UN has become unbearable.

Syria and Hezbollah rearmament
London, United Kingdom - Anxiety for USA and Israel

(WAPA) - The Israeli press evidences that the situation in Lebanon and Syria is only of apparent peace.
In the security band occupied by Blue Helmets, armed Hezbollah are not seen, but immediately in the North the same guerrilla fighters retired after the last Summer war, now re-organize themselves and at the same time re-arming. The British Daily "Times" has unveiled this news, having conducted an enquiry in the North of Litani river.
Hezbollah has already excavated shelters and launch platform for their missiles over those mountains and now are simply expanding their bunker system. Also the arms trafficking continues. Two weeks ago, a bus charged with rockets was stopped and Hassan Nasrallah, military leader of Hezbollah, declared proudly that these arms were for the river Litani front. "We are sincere and trasparent", said Nasrallah, "We do not deny to have arms. Others say not to have them while secretly they distribute and accumulate them". The arms arrive always from the same front: Syria. However, by the Security Council resolution 1701 one of the tasks of Blue Helmets consists in stopping the arms trafficking not to be employed in the regular Army, and assisting the Police and Lebanon one.
After Israeli press Agencies noticed that also Syria is in order to rearm itself. The Israeli Press evidences that the Damascus government has drawn up a contract with Russia, seller of arms to Syria by the times of URSS. The agreement will expect the supplying of laser anti-tank missiles of next generation named AT-15 Khrizantema that are able to perforate the most advanced tanks, and the value of the order is about USD 1 billion. Russia begins to irritate not only Israel but also Americans, because of the providing of TOR missiles to Iran. In accordance with Israeli media, also Iran is contributing to rearming Syria. The risk is that Syria and Iran could turn these arms to Hezbollah. (Avionews)(050) 070306122333-1070676 (World Aeronautical Press Agency - 2007-03-06 12:23 pm)

Agreement seen in schism between governing factions

By Krystal Knapp
March 6, 2007
BEIRUT -- A deal to end the standoff between Lebanon's U.S.-backed government and Hezbollah, the nation's worst political crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war, is expected to be finalized within the next few days, key political figures say. Optimism about an agreement follows a meeting between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Saudi King Abdullah on Saturday, when Mr. Ahmadinejad made his first official visit to the Saudi capital. "The chances of success this time are greater than at any previous time," opposition leader Nabih Berri told the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Berri, who is parliament speaker and head of the Shi'ite Muslim political party Amal, added that a settlement "might appear within 48 hours." His optimism was echoed by Samir Geagea, a Maronite Christian and a strong critic of the opposition, who told the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. Sunday that "indeed an effective solution" has been found to the crisis. The opposition, which includes Hezbollah and Amal, has been locked in a power struggle for months with the anti-Syrian governing coalition. So far Mr. Berri has not elaborated on the details of an agreement, which would end an impasse over plans for an international tribunal to try suspects in the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The assassination created international pressure on Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. Leaders from both sides have provided conflicting information about the details of the agreement.
Mr. Geagea said the solution is based on the formation of a joint committee that would oversee changes to the international tribunal and the creation of a national unity government that would expand the Cabinet, giving the governing majority 19 seats. The opposition, he said, would be allocated 10 seats and another seat would be allocated to a figure not affiliated with either side.
Hezbollah officials told the press that the deal being negotiated by Iran and Saudi Arabia would provide the opposition with 11 seats in the new Cabinet, giving it veto power. Opposition leaders threatened as recently as yesterday to escalate their campaign to oust the government if the ruling majority does not respond positively to the proposed settlement. Pro-Hezbollah demonstrators have held a sit-in in front of the government offices downtown for more than three months in an attempt to topple the pro-Western government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. They have been demanding a larger say in the government, including veto power in the Cabinet. They have also called for early parliamentary elections. The ruling coalition has accused Hezbollah of trying to gain veto power to block the international tribunal in order to protect Syria, which denies any involvement in Mr. Hariri's killing. Fatal street clashes between pro-government Sunnis and the mainly Shi'ite opposition have stoked fears that the country could see another sectarian civil war. Christian political factions are divided between the two camps.
Iran supports Hezbollah, while Saudi Arabia has close ties with Sunni parliament member Saad Hariri, a leader in the ruling coalition.

Ethnic Cleansing of Iraq's Assyrians Still Not Being Reported
Assyrian International News Agency
Södertälje, Sweden -- Now Södertälje is getting hot for journalists again. This time it wasn't Astra, Scania, soccer, basketball, hockey or crime. It's refugees. BBC, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune and Swedish Radio/TV's program "Conflict" are among those that have visited my hometown and asked the question "Why are so many refugees from Iraq coming to this small town in Sweden?" Unfortunately, the question has not been answered, at least not completely.
Those refugees now arriving in Södertälje are Christian Assyrians (also known as Syriacs and Chaldeans) or Mandeans (followers of John the Baptist). The reason they come here, is that Södertälje is the Assyrian capital in the west, Perhaps it sounds crazy but that's the way it is. Every fifth resident of Södertälje is an Assyrian (Syriac or Chaldean) who have settled here to find security and peace. We come from Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq.
This is what was told to the journalists.
The majority of those seeking asylum have arrived in Södertälje during the past seven years are from Iraq. First they fled the sanctions that were imposed on Iraq when the west established an embargo on the country due to Saddam Hussein's regime and people were starving to death. Now they are fleeing due to ethnic and religious persecution. If one is not a Muslim in large parts of today's Iraq one is looked as an enemy. If one is also born as a Christian you become a double enemy and should one assert their Assyrian (Syriac or Chaldean) heritage one becomes a triple enemy.
This is what was told to the journalists.
President Bush went to war using Christian rhetoric but once in Iraq he forgot the Christian Iraqis. A day doesn't pass in Södertälje that news of church bombings, rapes, beheading of priests, kidnapping of children and other "daily harassments" such as young girls being urinated upon are reported. The Christians are automatically seen as allies of the west.
This was stated by those interviewed.
According to the UN refugee organization UNHCR, a third of all the Iraqi refugees in the neighboring countries such as Syria, Turkey and Jordan are Christians. It's worth repeating, "a third!" If three of a hundred Iraqis are Christian and thirty of a hundred are fleeing what does that imply? Yes, ethnic cleansing. In the shadow of the state of war in Iraq there is a genocide in progress or, at least, the beginning of one. This is why they are arriving in Södertälje. At least four of those refugees I have spoken to have stated this to the journalists but it hasn't been published.
Journalists who are invited to the homes of people seeking asylum should listen to what is being told to them.
By Nuri Kino
EasternStar News Agency
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