MARCH 8/2006

Below news from miscellaneous sources for 8/03/06
Lebanon Leader Asks Rice to Pressure Syria -AP
Lebanon crisis talks adjourned until next week-Deepika
Lebanon finally returns remains of French hostage-Reuters
Below news from the Daily Star for 8/03/06
After 20 years, kidnap victim Seurat's remains repatriated
Politicians deny adjournment linked to Jumblatt statements
Electoral commission members resign, citing internal deadlock
Jumblatt 'seeks U.S. help' to liberate Lebanon from Syria
Feltman praises dialogue as free of foreign interference
Syrians in Lebanon still face anxieties despite efforts to mend
Chouf MP takes Lebanon's concerns to Washington
No plan in place for March 14 commemoration
Mouawad, Edde sign up for Lahoud's ouster
Revise the dated dogma of state sovereignty
UN urges European countries to help cover costs of tribunal
Syrians in Lebanon still face anxieties despite efforts to mend ties between two states
Law does not recognize children of Lebanese females
It's a tough life for many women in Lebanon
Lebanon's hospitality sector taps into virgin boutique hotel

After 20 years, kidnap victim Seurat's remains repatriated
By Raed El Rafei -Daily Star staff
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
BEIRUT: The remains of Michel Seurat, a French researcher kidnapped by Muslim militants in Lebanon in 1985, were flown to France Tuesday, almost 20 years after the announcement of his execution. Accompanied by his widow and two daughters, his corpse was flown to Paris after a ceremony at Rafik Hariri International Airport, not far from where he was abducted on May 22, 1985.
Speaking at the ceremony, Seurat's widow, Marie, who is originally from Aleppo, said she thought of "the 17,000 Lebanese who disappeared" during the 1975-90 war and whose bodies were not found.
"My emotions today are unexpected. I am not submerged by terror as I had been anticipating for months ... Today, I feel appeased and serene," she said.
On hand for the ceremony were Culture Minister Tarek Mitri, representing Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, and Jean-Paul Kauffmann, the journalist abducted with Seurat moments after their arrival in Beirut.
Later, at a conference at the Ecole Superieure des Affaires, French Ambassador Bernard Emie paid tribute to Seurat. "It is a very strong day for my country," Emie said, calling Seurat "a man of science, a man of research, a man of courage and a man of commitment, who worked in [Lebanon] for the advancement of knowledge and research."
"This evening Michel Seurat will regain the soil of France after having died in Lebanon, which he loved very much," he added.
Earlier, Seurat's remains in a coffin draped in the French flag were handed over to a French legal delegation as a military band played somber music at a brief ceremony held at Beirut's police headquarters. Emie formally received the coffin in the presence of the Internal Security Forces director general, Brigadier General, Ashraf Rifi. Seurat's remains were unearthed recently by construction workers digging at a rest stop on the road to Beirut airport. DNA tests carried out in France confirmed the remains belonged to Seurat.
Seurat was among dozens of Westerners abducted in Lebanon during the 1980s when the 1975-90 war was at its height. His kidnappers, the pro-Iranian Shiite Muslim group Islamic Jihad, claimed on March 5, 1986 that they had killed him in retaliation for France's extradition to Baghdad of two pro-Iranian Iraqi dissidents.
Hostages who were later freed said Seurat died of either hepatitis or cancer.Judiciary sources told The Daily Star that in 1997 Lebanese authorities received information about the location of the remains, but searches at the time were unsuccessful. - With agencies

Politicians deny adjournment linked to Jumblatt statements
Berri: 'We're simply taking some time out for consultations'
By Nada Bakri and Nafez Qawas -Daily Star staff
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Lebanese national Dialogue - Day 5
BEIRUT: Lebanon's national dialogue was abruptly adjourned until next Monday over Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt's strong attack Monday from Washington against Hizbullah and President Emile Lahoud. The first round of the talks ended with no agreements on major political issues that have been the center of debate for over a year, including disarming Hizbullah's military wing and a campaign to topple Lahoud, both stipulations of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, and Syrian-Lebanese relations. Relations between Beirut and Damascus took a nosedive following the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri, particularly after Syria and its political allies in Lebanon were implicated in the murder by UN investigators.
The dialogue, which kicked off last Thursday, was due to last for a week. However, Speaker Nabih Berri, who sponsored the talks, said it will be resumed Monday in order for the leaders to hold consultations with their parties and leaderships.
"Some of the participants said they want to consult their parties and leaderships before taking decisions and hopefully on Monday they will announce their final decision," said Berri, vehemently denying the suspension was caused by Jumblatt's calls Tuesday from Washington for the immediate departure from office of the pro-Syrian president, as well as the disarmament of Hizbullah."These comments are nothing new and are not the reason for the delay. They are the same comments Jumblatt made on Thursday," Berri said.  "This delay does not imply any breakdown in the conference and we're simply taking some time out for consultation to reach an agreement," he added. Jumblatt had attended the first day of the national dialogue before heading to Washington for meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other top U.S. officials.
Jumblatt further said the dialogue had reached a deadlock because participants disagreed over the Shebaa Farms issue and Hizbullah's disarmament.  Jumblatt, who heads the Democratic Gathering, also said the pro-Syrian Amal-Hizbullah coalition had hoped to strike a deal with the anti-Syrian coalition that would allow Hizbullah to keep its arms in return for letting them name the next president.  Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri also denied any setback in the talks.
"As you will see, we are going to reach an agreement on Monday," he said, adding: "We have tackled some of the most controversial political issues and we are determined to reach an agreement. But each party needs to consult with its leadership before finalizing our decisions." Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said a time-out is essential to hold consultations.
"We want to discuss some of the matters with our advisers and parties before taking final decisions," Geagea said.
Geagea denied the presence of any division among the March 14 camp as a result of Jumblatt's remarks. "We have the same positions regarding the key issues," Geagea said.
But Hizbullah's Al-Manar television said the Druze leader's outspoken comments had been a factor in the conference's adjournment. "It seems Jumblatt's comments have had an impact on the meeting, forcing a reaction from those who are opposed to him," the channel reported. Political sources close to a participant in the dialogue told The Daily Star Jumblatt's comments were strongly opposed by Berri and Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
Rumors emerged that an argument erupted when participants began discussing Hizbullah's arms and the Shebaa Farms, with Nasrallah and Berri questioning the point of such dialogue when Jumblatt was only trying to derail them.
Nasrallah then allegedly stormed out of the room. Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun and Hariri failed to convince Nasrallah to rejoin the talks, the rumors say. As a result, the talks were postponed.
MP Elie Skaff, representing Lebanon's Greek Catholic community and the first to leave the dialogue, hinted in comments to reporters that the dialogue was postponed over Jumblatt's remarks. "It has been adjourned until next week to allow time for additional contacts and await the return of MP Walid Jumblatt." Democratic Gathering MP Wael Bou Faour told The Daily Star a Syrian decision to break off the dialogue has been passed. "The pro-Syrian coalition does not have the authority to oust Lahoud, only President Assad can take this decision and he is not yet ready to give up on this card without receiving an outstanding price for it ... therefore they decided to end it," Bou Faour said, refusing to elaborate further.
Reports also emerged that Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal will arrive in Beirut on the weekend to complete preparations for an Arab initiative that will sort out the situation. The initiative is expected to be announced during the Arab Summit to be held in Sudan this month. Meanwhile the government's weekly session will be held Thursday at the Economic and Social Council in Downtown Beirut. A source close to Lahoud said the president is likely to head the Cabinet session.

Electoral commission members resign, citing internal deadlock
Baroud, Tabet deny rumors of political pressure
By Leila Hatoum -Daily Star staff-Wednesday, March 08, 2006
BEIRUT: Two members of the national commission drafting the country's electoral law submitted their resignations on Tuesday after the body was unable to reach an agreement that "fulfills the aspiration of the Lebanese citizens." Ziad Baroud and Michel Tabet issued a statement saying that "despite the good intentions of the commission's members and president, a mutual unifying vision to establish electoral divisions that ensure the best representation of the various Lebanese sects could not be reached."
The commission, which was established by the Cabinet almost seven months ago to devise a new electoral law for Lebanon, has already presented the government with a draft law stipulating that Lebanon be divided into either nine or 13 electoral provinces, with Beirut listed as a single province in either case.
"We have presented many suggestions and contributions to develop the electoral system as forming an independent committee for the elections, engaging the Lebanese abroad in the electoral process (and) monitoring the electoral spending..." the statement read. The two men said the commission was looking into several contradicting projects, but the body's "reservations, disagreeing and objections on many of these projects didn't work." Wishing not to "obstruct the commission's work," both Tabet and Baroud withdrew from the commission, "wishing it all the best in its work, and that it would not settle for projects that don't fulfill the citizens' aspirations." A source close to both men told The Daily Star they had informed the commission's president, former Minister Fouad Boutros, of their wish to withdraw on Monday.
The source also denied rumors that the two members were subject to political pressures while sitting on the commission.
Earlier Tuesday, media reports circulated that there were political pressures on the commission's members regarding the electoral divisions that would be noted in the commission's electoral draft law. As-Safir reported that two Maronite members of the commission, presumably Baroud and Tabet, had protested the divisions "which were made to please the wishes of a certain political party," referring to the Future Movement, headed by MP Saad Hariri.
The As-Safir article added that both Baroud and Tabet insisted Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir "refuses any electoral law which is unjust and doesn't provide the national balance within each electoral division."
It further reported that Boutros had tried to find a solution to prevent another political crisis, "especially as any decision made would be subjected to the approval or rejection of the Cabinet, which is known for following a certain political bent" - another reference to the Future Movement. The same source condemned "As-Safir's sectarian hint" that the move was made by the Maronite members rather than saying the commission members. "It is shameful how they turned the whole issue into a sectarian one," the source said. Zuheir Chokor, the president of the Lebanese University and a member of the commission, told The Daily Star that he read of the news in the media and that no one said anything to him during Monday's session.
He also said that as far as he knows "there are no pressures of any kind on the commission ... at least not on me as far as I'm concerned." Attempts to contact commission president Boutros failed. The commission's secretary, Nawaf Salam, told The Daily Star that he had not heard of the resignations.

Jumblatt 'seeks U.S. help' to liberate Lebanon from Syria
By Hussain Abdul-Hussain -Special to The Daily Star
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
WASHINGTON: One of Lebanon's leading politicians, March 14 Forces MP Walid Jumblatt said Monday that he had been in the U.S. "asking for help" to liberate Lebanon from the Syrian regime, "which killed Kamal Jumblatt." Jumblatt's comments came during a panel discussion at the Saban Center in Brookings Institute Monday. The March 14 leader is on a one-week trip to the U.S. in which he met Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and is scheduled to meet UN Secretary General Kofi Annan later this week. Following their meeting, Rice assured Jumblatt of "ongoing U.S. support for the path of democracy and reform" in the Middle Eastern country, a U.S. spokesman said. It was Rice's second meeting with the anti-Syria leader of the Progressive Socialist Party in two weeks, symbolically ensuring that Syria and its supporters are made aware of the U.S. determination to terminate Syrian influence in Lebanon. The demise of the Syrian regime will not cause any havoc or destruction in Syria or the region, according to Jumblatt. "But it's not for me to say, I leave it up to the Syrian opposition to decide," Jumblatt said. He added: "I met with (former Syrian Vice President Abdel-Halim) Khaddam in Paris before heading for Washington, and seeing him before the international investigation committee is very important to the case of former Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination; but I don't know what he is planning."
Jumblatt's past relations with the U.S. saw an all-time low two years ago when his harsh criticism of the U.S. policies made the U.S. consider him persona non-grata. "I criticized the U.S. policy in the past. I don't regret it. I said it," he said. But the U.S. too has erred in the past, according to Jumblatt.
"The U.S. said that over the past 60 years its policy was wrong for [the Americans] supported dictators."
"It took me a long political trip to come to the U.S. and ask for help against the [Syrian] dictator," the head of the Democratic Gathering bloc said. He added that he was finally able to confront the Syrian regime because when in 1977 this regime killed his father, who "was much more courageous, I was weak back then."
Jumblatt described his trip as an effort to rally international support for the independence of Lebanon against the Syrian regime that is trying to undermine this independence. "The Syrian president was offensive in his speech some days ago. [The Syrian regime and its Lebanese allies] are launching a counteroffensive now," he said.
If the U.S. fails in Lebanon, its whole initiative for democracy in the Middle East will fail, "and we'll go back to dictatorships."
Speaking of the ongoing dialogue in Lebanon, Jumblatt said: "Dialogue should be based on the Lebanese presidency. We need a president that can protect the Cedars' Revolution and convince the Syrians to acknowledge Lebanon's independence. The president should be able to deploy the army in the South and implement the Taif Accord and UN Security Council Resolution 1559." "As for the others, they want the Shebaa Farms, they want the permanent presence of the Palestinian weapons outside the camps and other non-Lebanese agendas," Jumblatt said.
Jumblatt argued that Hizbullah was trying to use the Shebaa Farms issue as an alibi to keep
Lebanon connected to what he described as the Iranian-Syrian axis. He said the Shebaa Farms area may be "Lebanese property but has historically been under Syrian sovereignty. The Shebaa Farms are not Lebanese," Jumblatt reiterated, unless the Syrian government proves it.
March 14 Forces have requested that either Syria provides enough evidence of the Lebanese identity of this land or that Lebanon considers Resolution 425, stipulating that Israel withdraw from Lebanese territories it occupied in 1978, has been fully implemented and that there was no reason for further aggression between Lebanon and Israel. Pro-Syrians reject such a scheme. Speaker Nabih Berri's sponsored dialogue has reached a deadlock because the sides disagree on Shebaa and disarming Hizbullah, Jumblatt added.
Jumblatt insisted, however, that he did not intend to undermine this dialogue. "If we accept a trade of [March 14 naming] a president [in return] for Shebaa Farms ... it's better to keep [President Emile] Lahoud."
But "if the process of dialogue will stay in deadlock, we have to stick to the street," Jumblatt added.
Jumblatt accused the Syrian regime of creating a police state in Lebanon, saying it is not easy to "de-Syrianize the security apparatus" after 30 years of Syrian control.
Accordingly, Jumblatt said his mission was to generate political, economic and diplomatic pressure on Syria and Emile Lahoud, and look into ways the U.S. might influence Saudi Arabia and Egypt to play a role.
He said that the U.S. could help the Lebanese Army consolidate its power and be deployed to the South. "But we don't think there should be a military action against Hizbullah. They are Lebanese and their disarmament should be through dialogue."
The Chouf MP said that the Lebanese impasse can be ended by electing a president who should act as an arbitrator, unlike Lahoud, and who should be able to negotiate with Syria over the issue of the Shebaa Farms.
According to Jumblatt, the March 14 parliamentary bloc cannot constitute a majority to impeach Lahoud. "We have 71 MPs out of the 86 needed for impeachment. But we have the simple majority that would elect the coming president."
Jumblatt also accused the Syrian regime of sending into Lebanon the same terrorists and weapons that it sends in-to Iraq.
Speaking about regional issues, Jumblatt said the war in Iraq started off well, but then the U.S. committed a mistake by disbanding the secular Baath Party which gave way to the rise of fundamental groups.
He also spoke hopefully of the extremist Palestinian group Hamas changing its anti-Israel policy once it is in power.
But Jumblatt took a low-key approach on that volatile issue and said: "I am not here to defend Hamas."
"I know many of you here disagree with me, but let them rule, as long as there is a democracy."
He added: "They will have to live the harsh realities of ruling. They will have to deal with the IMF and the World Bank."

Feltman praises dialogue as free of foreign interference
Daily Star staff-Wednesday, March 08, 2006
BEIRUT: U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman said the most important aspect of the national dialogue, which is currently adjourned, is the fact it is being held in Lebanon free of foreign interference. The ambassador's comments came after a meeting on Tuesday with former Prime Minister Salim Hoss at the Third Force Party leader's Beirut residence.
"The purpose of my visit is to discuss with the former premier the developments in the country," Feltman said. "It is important to me to listen to the initiative launched by the Third Force in order to inform Washington of the party's policy."
He added: "I have also informed [Hoss] of the United States' support to the national dialogue and to all the initiatives that gather the Lebanese leaders together without any foreign interference."
Asked if he thought the national dialogue would be a success, Feltman said: "I don't know. I hear the news as you do. There are people gathered around the table and they represent wide factions of the Lebanese society."
He added: "This fact [that the dialogue is being held] by itself is considered a success because the dialogue is happening in Lebanon, without the U.S., France or Saudi Arabia or any foreign interference."
Asked if the international community would attempt to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1559 should the participants fail to agree on a Lebanese mechanism, the ambassador said, "I cannot speak on behalf of the international community, but everyone is supporting the Lebanese national dialogue to deal with Resolution 1559."
He added: "The resolution is a main article on the agenda of dialogue, but the means and the date of its implementation fall within the competence of the Lebanese government." Feltman also met with former Deputy Speaker Elie Ferzli. - The Daily Star

Chouf MP takes Lebanon's concerns to Washington
By Hussain Abdul-Hussain -Special to The Daily Star
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
WASHINGTON: Sources here heartily welcomed the visit of March 14 Forces leader, Chouf MP Walid Jumblatt. Unlike Washington's usual line in friends among the different Arab groups, whose influence often relies on American funds and political support, Jumblatt is a leader in his own right and belongs to a coalition that enjoys popular support in his country and an elected majority bloc in Parliament. Unlike Iraq's Ahmad Chalabi and Lebanon's Michel Aoun, Jumblatt is not seeking American support for personal gain. Jumblatt has always observed the rules of the game in Lebanon and realizes that his ambitions, as a Druze, are limited to commanding a considerable parliamentary bloc in his home country.
Jumblatt already commands such a big bloc and belongs to a bigger solid parliamentary coalition. Accordingly, a healthy parliamentary democracy remains Jumblatt's best bet. As a result Jumblatt is believed to have carried genuine Lebanese national concerns to Washington without either any personal ambitions or hidden agenda. Also, unlike many of America's Arab opportunist friends, Jumblatt is not sweet talking Washington into any ambiguous adventure. On the contrary, the March 14 leader is a veteran politician who knows exactly what he's talking about.
In his own words, Jumblatt has set conditions for what he described as his "long political trip" to the U.S. as he cited Washington's announced change in its foreign policy as having been his motive for this shift.
As Jumblatt understands it, the U.S. has given up on its previous policy of "friendly dictators" or those regimes whose behavior used to benefit Washington at a low cost, in return for sponsoring democracies in countries where such dictators are being replaced. Washington has been trying to convey to the Arab world for a while now, but without much success, this idea. Jumblatt is among the few Arab leaders who is taking Washington at its word and giving it the benefit of the doubt in this regard. Still, Jumblatt is not in the tradition of letting Washington hear what it wants to hear. The veteran politician is known for his bold opinions. In his talks, Jumblatt has highlighted to the administration the flaws and discrepancies between its rhetoric and its action. If the U.S. supports democracy, it should respect the outcome of democratic elections without exception.
Along these lines, Jumblatt opposed what many in Washington might have wanted to hear and stood his ground regarding his opinion that democracy alone is needed and cannot have pre-determined American-friendly results.
Jumblatt's message was that America should give a chance to groups that it views as fundamentalist and let them get involved in the democratic process. This will shape their experience and moderate their tone. Jumblatt said time and again in his meetings that the solution for disarming Hizbullah will come through dialogue. As such, Jumblatt is genuinely reciprocating Washington's initiative for the democratization of the Middle East, which so far looks to have been a failure, by giving honest advice.
American officials here have also learned from Jumblatt how Lebanon and Syria should have been the cornerstone of this democratization policy. Lebanon has always been the Arab world's trendsetter with a robust civil society and a relatively free press and could serve as the starting point for the democracy "domino effect" that America had originally chosen Iraq for.
Both Washington and Jumblatt realize the urgency for dealing with the Lebanon question as President George W. Bush enters the second half of his second office and the mandate of French President Jacques Chirac nears its end.
Jumblatt has tipped off the Americans as to the secret behind the survival of regimes like Syria and Iran: They benefit from the rotation of power in the West. Such regimes also bet on the impatient Western public vis-a-vis their lifelong leadership.
Jumblatt has told decision-makers in Washington that the Syrian regime is currently buying time waiting for the election of new leaderships in Western capitals and hoping their fortunes would change accordingly.
The Chouf MP has been advising these capitals to speed things up before the end of their tenures and try to pass on their experience to their successors so that any new leadership can stand its ground and keep up the pressure on Arab dictatorships until democracy is achieved. While the Arab populist leaders have always warned their followers of the imperial "American" agenda, Jumblatt has taken a bold step by coming to Washington and trying to shape the agenda in a way that he believes would be in the interest of both the U.S. and the Arab world. So far, Washington seems to believe his genuine drive and looks set to act accordingly.

No plan in place for March 14 commemoration

By Hadi Tawil -Special to The Daily Star
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
BEIRUT: Seven days till March 14 and still the "March 14 Forces" coalition has no clear plan to commemorate the occasion. "After the suspension of the national dialogue till next Monday I don't think there will be a chance to prepare any kind of event for March 14," Future Movement MP Atef Majdalani said Tuesday. "However I do not have any information on when the final decision on the issue is likely to be made," he said.
On March 14 of last year, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese gathered in Downtown Beirut to mark the one-month assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri and to demand the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.
Member of the Democratic Gathering parliamentary bloc MP Wael Bu Faour told The Daily Star that nothing would be decided regarding a commemoration of March 14 before late Tuesday, as a series of meetings will be required.
Meanwhile the man the March 14 Forces coalition is trying to depose, Emile Lahoud, is preparing to attend the Arab summit to be held in Darfur, Sudan, on March 27. Lahoud reportedly is in the process of preparing materials for the conference and polishing a speech he will give before the other Arab leaders.  MP Elias Atallah, a member of the March 14 Forces, reiterated the call for Lahoud's immediate resignation. "Our demand for the resignation of President Lahoud is clear, and if we cannot accomplish that by political or constitutional means we can always rely on the popular means of a mass demonstration," he said.

Revise the dated dogma of state sovereignty

By Richard N. Haass -Daily Star
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
For 350 years, sovereignty - the notion that states are the central actors on the world stage and that governments are essentially free to do what they want within their own territory but not within the territory of other states - has provided the organizing principle of international relations. The time has come to rethink this notion.
The world's 190-plus states now coexist with a larger number of powerful non-sovereign and at least partly (and often largely) independent actors, ranging from corporations to non-government organizations, from terrorist groups to drug cartels, from regional and global institutions to banks and private equity funds. The sovereign state is influenced by them (for better and for worse) as much as it is able to influence them. The near monopoly of power once enjoyed by sovereign entities is being eroded. As a result, new mechanisms are needed for regional and global governance that include actors other than states. This is not to argue that Microsoft, Amnesty International, or Goldman Sachs be given seats in the United Nations General Assembly; but it does mean that representatives of such organizations be included in regional and global deliberations when they have the capacity to affect whether and how regional and global challenges are met.
Moreover, states must be prepared to cede some sovereignty to world bodies if the international system is to function. This is already taking place in the realm of trade. Governments agree to accept the rulings of the World Trade Organization because on balance they benefit from an international trading order even if a particular decision requires that they alter a practice that it is their sovereign right to carry out.
Some governments are prepared to give up elements of sovereignty to address the threat of global climate change. Under one such arrangement, the Kyoto Protocol, which runs through 2012, signatories agree to cap specific emissions. What is needed now is a successor arrangement in which a larger number of states, including the United States, China, and India, accept emissions limits or adopt common standards because they recognize that they would be worse off if no country did.
All of this suggests that sovereignty must be redefined if states are to cope with globalization. At its core, globalization entails the increasing volume, velocity, and importance of flows - within and across borders - of people, ideas, greenhouse gases, goods, dollars, drugs, viruses, e-mails, weapons, and a good deal else, challenging one of sovereignty's fundamental principles: the ability to control what crosses borders in either direction. Sovereign states increasingly measure their vulnerability not to one another, but to forces beyond their control.
Globalization thus implies that sovereignty is not only becoming weaker in reality, but that it needs to become weaker. States would be wise to weaken sovereignty in order to protect themselves, because they cannot insulate themselves from what goes on elsewhere. Sovereignty is no longer a sanctuary.
This was demonstrated by the American and world reaction to terrorism. Afghanistan's Taliban government, which provided access and support to Al-Qaeda, was removed from power. Similarly, America's preventive war against an Iraq that ignored the UN and was thought to possess weapons of mass destruction showed that sovereignty no longer provides absolute protection. Imagine how the world would react if some government were known to be planning to use or transfer a nuclear device or had already done so. Many would argue - correctly - that sovereignty provides no protection for that state.
Necessity may also lead to reducing or even eliminating sovereignty when a government, whether from a lack of capacity or conscious policy, is unable to provide for the basic needs of its citizens. This reflects not simply scruples, but a view that state failure and genocide can lead to destabilizing refugee flows and create openings for terrorists to take root.
The NATO intervention in Kosovo was an example where a number of governments chose to violate the sovereignty of a state - Serbia - to stop ethnic cleansing and genocide. By contrast, the mass killing in Rwanda a decade ago, and now in Darfur, demonstrate the high price of judging sovereignty to be supreme and thus doing little to prevent the slaughter of innocents.
Our notion of sovereignty must therefore be conditional, even contractual, rather than absolute. If a state fails to live up to its side of the bargain by sponsoring terrorism, either transferring or using weapons of mass destruction, or conducting genocide, then it forfeits the normal benefits of sovereignty and opens itself up to attack, removal, or occupation. The diplomatic challenge for this era is to gain widespread support for principles of state conduct and a procedure for determining remedies when these principles are violated.
The goal should be to redefine sovereignty for the era of globalization, to find a balance between a world of fully sovereign states and an international system of either world government or anarchy. The basic idea of sovereignty, which still provides a useful constraint on violence between states, needs to be preserved. But the concept needs to be adapted to a world in which the main challenges to order come from what global forces do to states and what governments do to their citizens rather than from what states do to one another.
***Richard N. Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of "The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course." THE DAILY STAR publishes this commentary in collaboration with Project Syndicate (

It's a tough life for many women in Lebanon
By Mohammed Zaatari -Daily Star staff
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
SIDON: Women in Lebanon are not only their husband's partners in the home, responsible for housework and taking care of the children, but are also hardworking, patient and "tough as men." On the occasion of International Women's Day, The Daily Star spoke to women in the South about their average day. Tahani and Amani Bitar are two sisters in their late 20s who dropped out of school for financial reasons and are now plowing the earth for a living.
The elder sister, Tahani, said she left school during the sixth grade. "I don't care anymore because I've been working since I was young. I help my parents and sisters." Plowing is not an easy thing to do for Tahani. She said she always wished she had been able to finish her education along with her former classmates. "But now all that I hold is a shovel to plow the land."
Tahani and Amani work eight hours a day for less than LL10,000. Drawing a contrast between her life and that of other women, Amani said: "Women in Lebanon are women by all means, they are feminine and beautiful. And then there are women who have never worn make-up. The only beauty products they have are the shovel and the dirt they work in."
Nadia al-Ali, a 45-year-old mother, said her job is also very difficult. Nadia lives in a village in South Lebanon and works as a cow herder. "I carry a stick and walk with my 10 cows in the meadows and green plains," she said.
While herding cattle may not be easy or glorious, at least it's "decent work," she says.
Nadia said she is doing everything possible to ensure that her daughters never have to live her life. Her daughters are still in school, and she wants them to stay there.
"I don't know how to use a computer, but my daughters are learning how to use them at school," she beamed.
Umm Saad is another hard-working woman. She collects junk from the side of the road and sells it.
"Women are men's partners in sickness and in health in our societies," she said.
Umm Saad believes Eastern societies are envied by the West, but admits the world is changing. "The Internet, mobile phone and satellite television have corrupted our cultures and societies and now we are starting to resemble the western cultures."

Berri formally announces adjournment of dialogue
BEIRUT, March 7 (KUNA) -- Lebanese Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, on Tuesday announced a postponement till Monday of a national dialogue, which had been going on since Thursday among the country's main political leaders. As Berri put it in his formal announcement, the postponement was needed to "allow the delegations taking part in the dialogue to consult with their leaders ahead of agreeing on the resolutions emanating from the dialogue." "The postponement had nothing to do with the (overnight) statements made in Washington by MP Walid Jumblatt," Berri said. He added that there was nothing new in Jumblatt's statements, which he made to reporters after a round of talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Jumblatt had called for a US military intervention in Lebanon in order to protect against Syria and in the face of Hezbollah's militancy. "Hezbollah's mission has come to an end," Jumblatt had told reporters. He also urged Syria to provide evidence of Lebanon's ownership of the controversial Shebaa Farms. Jumblatt is expected back from his trip to Washington before Monday.Berri also indicated that there was a progress in the dialogue, "which had come near its conclusion." "We were about to begin dealing with UN resolution 1559 and its fall-outs on Lebanese-Syrian relations," Berri said. He denied that the halt in the talks had anything to do with the motion to impeach Lebanese President Emile Lahoud. Berri also said that Lebanon welcomed any Arab initiative aimed at removing obstacles facing the dialogue, which started Thursday. Participants in the dialogue had agreed on the need to continue looking for the truth behind the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and had agreed to resort to an international court to achieve that objective. (pickup previous).

Syria Reaches Confidential Agreement with UN Investigators

2006-03-07 01:02:40 Xinhua
Syria has reached a confidential agreement with the United Nations investigation team over the probe into the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, the pan-Arab Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported on its website on Monday."We will cooperate with the probe team ... We have reached a confidential agreement and do not want to reveal any details at this time out of consideration for the investigation and its integrity," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem was quoted as saying in an exclusive statement to Asharq al Awsat. Expressing satisfaction with the agreement, Muallem said that the deal "safeguards Syria's honor and sovereignty", according to the report. The minister also refused to discuss the details of talks with UN chief investigator Serge Brammertz, who made a visit more than a week ago to Damascus and held a meeting with Muallem over "effective means" to make the UN commission accomplish their probe. Syria's official SANA news agency has hailed the talks as reaching "positive results." Meanwhile, a UN spokesperson in Beirut was quoted by SANA as saying that the meeting as "very good" and "it was a business one."In addition, an informed source told Xinhua in Damascus on condition of anonymity that investigation into Hariri's death was being carried on in accordance with the understandings reached by the two sides. "They have reached an agreement that the investigation should be carried out behind closed doors and far away from the spotlight," the source added. Syria has been under intense international pressure following the killing of Hariri on Feb. 14, 2005 in a massive truck bomb attack. Many Lebanese believed Damascus was behind the scene.
Syria denied any role in the killing, but was forced to withdraw its troops from its smaller neighbor in late April, 2005, ending 29 years of military presence there. The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1636 last October, demanding full Syrian cooperation with the probe or it would face unspecified further action. Former UN chief investigator Detlev Mehlis requested to question Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, rejected by Damascus. But Syria gave a go-ahead to the UN team's demand to query security officials in Vienna. Mehlis has implicated senior Syrian and Lebanese officials in Hariri's death in two interim reports. Currently, four Lebanese generals are under arrest in Lebanon.

Remains of French Hostage Found in Lebanon

Staff and agencies-06 March, 2006
BEIRUT, Lebanon - Lebanon has found the remains of Michel Seurat, a French history researcher whom Islamic militants kidnapped in 1985 during the civil war, a police official said Monday. Seurat was kidnapped May 22, 1985. He was among dozens of Westerners kidnapped in Beirut during the 1980s when the 1975-90 civil war was at its height. Seurat‘s kidnappers, a pro-Iranian Shiite Muslim group, Islamic Jihad, claimed on March 5, 1986 that they had killed him in retaliation for France‘s extraditing two pro-Iranian Iraqi dissidents to Baghdad. The bones were found in the Shiite-dominated southern suburbs. The groups that kidnapped Westerners were believed to come from the Shiite community. Most of the Westerners kidnapped in the 1980s were released, but the fate of several remains unknown.

Lebanon Leader Asks Rice to Pressure Syria
Monday March 6, 2006 10:46 PM
By BARRY SCHWEID -AP Diplomatic Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Less than three years after losing his U.S. visa for saying he wished a top Pentagon official had been hit with a rocket, a senior Lebanese political leader pocketed an audience with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and received her assurances of support for his country.  Speaking in Arabic after the meeting Monday, which came within two weeks of a similar session with Rice in Beirut, Jumblatt acknowledged to reporters that his remarks about then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz had been harmful. But they evidently have mended the strain, and Jumblatt was due to meet Tuesday with Wolfowitz, who is now head of the World Bank, about economic aid to his country.  Jumblatt said Wolfowitz had credited him in an interview with being a participant in Lebanon's ``freedom revolution.''
The focus of his meeting with Wolfowitz on Tuesday is expected to be on how the bank can assist the Lebanese economy.
Rice did not speak to reporters after she saw Jumblatt, A State Department spokesman, Tom Casey, said Rice had assured the Druse leader of ``ongoing U.S. support for the path of democracy and reform.''
While Casey did not provide details of what form that support might take, he singled out Lebanon's right to free and fair presidential elections under a U.N. Security Council resolution. Jumblatt said before seeing Rice that he wanted U.S. support to ``liberate our country'' from Syrian influence. He said the outcome ultimately depends on opposition forces in Syria.
Rice's two meetings with the anti-Syria leader of the Progressive Socialist Party symbolically ensures that Syria and its supporters are made aware of the U.S. determination to terminate Syrian influence in Lebanon.
For Jumblatt, a sometimes quixotic politician, it's a long leap since he lost his U.S. visa in November 2003 for publicly expressing regret that Wolfowitz, an architect of the war in Iraq, had survived a rocket attack on a hotel in Baghdad.
Jumblatt, always sharp-tongued and with a history of shifting his alliances, was an ardent supporter of Syria until two years ago. A day after the Baghdad rocket attack he said he hoped it would be more effective next time ``to get rid of this germ and people like him in Washington, who are wreaking havoc with the Arab land in Iraq and in Palestine.''
In a news conference Monday at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center before calling on Rice, Jumblatt criticized U.S. strategy in Iraq, saying, ``It was a big mistake to destroy the Iraq army.'' The result, he said, is that Syria and Iran are free ``to play'' inside Iraq. He also spoke hopefully of the extremist Palestinian group Hamas changing its anti-Israel policy once it is in power. But Jumblatt took a low-key approach on that volatile issue and said, ``I am not here to defend Hamas.''
In fact, he said his mission was to generate political, economic and diplomatic pressure on Syria and Lebanon's pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud, and look into ways the U.S. might persuade Saudi Arabia and Egypt to play a role.
``The Syrians are smuggling troops and weapons into Lebanon. The same people they are sending to Iraq,'' he said. ``If you don't change Syrian policy, you won't have peace.''
Under U.S. and French pressure, Syria has withdrawn its troops from Lebanon. But it remains a potent force in the neighboring Arab country, and channels Iranian weapons to Hezbollah, a militant Lebanese group classified along with Hamas by the State Department as a terrorist organization.

Arab govts to pressure Syria to quit Lebanon
(AP)7 March 2006 WASHINGTON — Senior Lebanese political leader Walid Jumblatt called yesterday for US support to “liberate our country” from Syrian influence. But the outcome ultimate depends on opposition forces in Syria, he said before a meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.It was Rice’s second meeting with the anti-Syria leader of the Progressive Socialist Party in two weeks, symbolically ensuring Syria and its supporters are made aware of the US determination to terminate Syrian influence in Lebanon. For Jumblat it’s a long leap since he lost his US visa in 2003 for publicly expressing regret that he hoped a missile would kill then-Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz. An architect of the war in Iraq, Wolfowitz had survived a rocket attack on a hotel in Baghdad.
He said his mission was to generate political, economic and diplomatic pressure on Syria and Lebanon’s pro-Syrian President, Emile Lahoud, and look into ways the United States might influence Saudi Arabia and Egypt to play a role. He also spoke hopefully of the extremist Palestinian group Hamas changing its anti-Israel policy once it is in power.

Transcript: Vice President Cheney Speaks to The American Israel Public Affairs Committee 2006 Policy Conference Office of the White House Press Secretary

Tuesday, March 7, 2006; 12:57 PM
The Washington D.C. Convention Center, Washington, D.C.
10:10 A.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) Well, you made my day. (Laughter.) Well, thank you very much. And, Ed, thank you for the kind introduction. And let me thank all of you for that very warm welcome. It's a delight to be here this morning.
I want to thank the distinguished guests who've joined us, especially Israel's ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon. (Applause.) I also want to recognize the substantial delegation of student attendees from all over the U.S.: Welcome to Washington, it's good to see you here. (Applause.)
I'm grateful to the board of AIPAC for inviting me to be part of your 2006 Policy Conference. It's obviously a very well attended and successful event. And to everyone attending the conference, I bring personal greetings from our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
As always, AIPAC has brought together a large and public-minded group, representing different parts of America, many callings in life, and varied points of view on the issues of the day. Gathered here this morning, some of us are Republicans; some of us are Democrats. Yet all of us share a fundamental belief --- that the freedom and security of Israel are vital interests to the United States of America. (Applause.)
Nearly 58 years ago, in May of 1948, the new Jewish state was declared. On the day Israel came into being it was 12 midnight in Jerusalem --- six o'clock in the evening here in Washington. Eleven minutes later, Harry S. Truman made America the first nation to recognize Israel. (Applause.) From that moment to this very day, the United States has counted Israel as a special and valued friend that shares our basic principles.
As fellow democracies, both founded in struggle, we have shown our devotion to the ideals of liberty, equality, and the dignity of every person. We have shown, as well, great resolve and deep faith in times of testing and a true willingness to work and sacrifice for the cause of peace. We are, as President Bush has said, natural allies. There is no doubt that America's commitment to Israel's security is solid, enduring and unshakeable. (Applause.)
Over the years, our two peoples have also known the good fortune of having some very capable, resolute leaders come along when they were most needed. In my career I've had the privilege of meeting a long line of Israeli statesmen and women, including many prime ministers, starting with Yitzhak Rabin in the mid '70's. And in recent days I've been feeling especially grateful to have had many years of a relationship and friendship with Ariel Sharon. (Applause.)
The Prime Minister's life has been in many respects a reflection of Israel's modern history. He gave decades of service to Israel --- fighting in all of its wars, rising to high office, and leading the nation with purpose. When their country came under attack, Israelis knew that Ariel Sharon would stand in the line of fire. And in the effort to achieve peace, which requires so much wisdom, and boldness, and vision --- Israelis again placed their trust in this fearless member of the pioneering generation. Last year at AIPAC's policy conference, Prime Minister Sharon said, "I am willing to make painful compromises for peace ...There is one thing on which we will not make any compromises --- not now and not in the future --- and that is our security." (Applause.)
Today Ariel Sharon's voice is silent, and our thoughts are with him as he battles for his life. It's a comfort to know that his deeds will live on, and in our memory the man himself will stand like a rock. We honor him as one of the great statesmen of our time, and a man of peace. (Applause.)
As a small country in a tough part of the world, Israel has always had to be on guard against enemies to have a clear-eyed view of potential threats, and to confront dangers squarely. Throughout its history, the country has faced sudden, random acts of terrorism --- attacks intended to shake Israel's confidence and break the will of its people. Yet Israel has held firm, and has defended itself with patience, with moral courage, and decisive action. Those are the very qualities by which freedom is preserved, innocent lives are protected, and wars are won. And by those qualities, Israel, and the United States, and all civilized nations will win the war on terror. (Applause.)
To prevail in this fight, we must understand the nature of the enemy. As Israelis have seen so many times, and as America experienced on September 11th, 2001, the terrorist enemy is brutal and heartless. This enemy wears no uniform, has no regard for the rules of warfare, and is unconstrained by any standard of decency or morality. We are dealing with enemies who plot and plan in secret, then attempt to slip into a country, blend in among the innocent, and kill without mercy.
This enemy has a set of beliefs --- and we saw the expression of those beliefs in the rule of the Taliban. They seek to impose a dictatorship of fear, under which every man, woman, and child lives in total obedience to a narrow, hateful ideology. This ideology rejects tolerance, denies freedom of conscience, and demands that women be pushed to the margins of society. Such beliefs can be imposed only through force and intimidation, so those who refuse to bow to the tyrants will be brutalized or killed --- and no person or group is exempt.
The terrorists have targeted people of every nationality and every religious faith, including Muslims who disagree with them. The war on terror is a fight against evil; victory in this war will be a victory for peaceful men and women of every religious faith. (Applause.)
This enemy also has a set of clear objectives. The terrorists want to end all American and Western influence in the Middle East. Their goal in that region is to seize control of a country, so they have a base from which to launch attacks and wage war against governments that do not meet their demands. The terrorists believe that by controlling one country, they will be able to target and overthrow other governments in the region, and ultimately to establish a totalitarian empire that encompasses a region from Spain, across North Africa, through the Middle East and South Asia, all the way around to Indonesia.
They have made clear, as well, their ultimate ambitions: to arm themselves with chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons; to destroy Israel; to intimidate all Western countries; and to cause mass death here in the United States.
Some might look at these ambitions and wave them off as extreme and mad. Well, these ambitions are, indeed, extreme and they are mad. They are also real, and we must not wave them off. We must take them seriously. We must oppose them. And we must defeat them. (Applause.)
Over the last several decades, Americans have seen how the terrorists pursue their objectives. Simply stated, they would hit us, but we would not hit back hard enough. In Beirut in 1983, terrorists killed 241 Americans, and afterward U.S. forces withdrew from Beirut. In 1993 we had the killing of American soldiers in Mogadishu, and the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York. Then came the attack on the Saudi National Guard Training Center in Riyadh in 1995; the killings at Khobar Towers in 1996; the attack on our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998; and, of course, the attack on the USS Cole in 2000. With each attack, the terrorists grew more confident in believing they could strike America without paying a price --- and indeed, believing that if they killed enough Americans, they could change American policy.
So they continued to wage those attacks --- making the world less safe and eventually striking the United States in our homeland on September 11th. And we've seen the work of terrorists in many attacks since 9/11 --- in Jerusalem, Riyadh, Casablanca, Istanbul, Karachi, Mombassa, Bali, Jakarta, Najaf, Baghdad, London and Madrid. The terrorists have declared war on the civilized world. And America will lead the civilized world to victory. (Applause.)
We have a strategy of our own in this fight. First, we are absolutely determined to prevent attacks before they occur, and so we are on the offensive against the terror networks. (Applause.) At home and with coalition partners abroad, we've broken up terror cells, tracked down terrorist operatives, and put heavy pressure on their ability to organize and plan attacks. The work is difficult and very often perilous, and there is much yet to do. But we've made tremendous progress against an enemy that dwells in the shadows. We've counted on the skill and the dedication of our professionals in law enforcement, intelligence, and homeland security --- and, of course, on the United States military. They have been superb, and they make us proud each and every day. (Applause.)
Second, we are determined to deny safe haven to the terrorists. Since the day our country was attacked, we have applied the Bush Doctrine: Any person or government that supports, protects, or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and will be held to account. (Applause.)
Third, we are working to halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and to keep those weapons out of the hands of killers. In the post-9/11 world, the United States and our allies are determined: we will not live at the mercy of terrorists or regimes that could arm them with chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. This requires that we deal with threats before they fully materialize. (Applause.)
The President has put it very well: "Terrorists and terror states do not reveal these threats with fair notice, in formal declarations --- and responding to such enemies only after they have struck first is not self-defense, it's suicide." (Applause.) By whatever means are necessary --- whether diplomatic or military --- we will act to protect the liberty and lives of our people. (Applause.)
Fourth, we are determined to deny the terrorists the control of any nation, which they would use as a home base and a staging ground for terrorist attacks against others. That is why we continue to fight Taliban remnants and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan. That's why we are working with President Musharraf to oppose and isolate the terrorist element in Pakistan. And that is why we are fighting the Saddam remnants and terrorists in Iraq. (Applause.)
Our strategy in Iraq is clear, our tactics will remain flexible, and we'll keep at the work until we finish the job. (Applause.) On the security side, our forces are hunting down high-value targets like Zarqawi and his lieutenants. Our soldiers and Marines are conducting smart, focused, aggressive, counterterrorism operations in the areas where the terrorists are known to be concentrated. And our coalition continues to train more Iraqi forces that are effective, well trained and well equipped, and prepared to assume increased responsibility for their country's security.
As the security force grows in strength and the political process advances, we'll be able to decrease troop levels without losing our capacity to defeat the terrorists. And going forward, any decisions about troop levels will be driven by conditions on the ground and the judgment of our commanders --- not by artificial timelines set by politicians in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
Progress in Iraq has not come easily, but it has been steady. A short time ago, the Iraqi people had an appointed government, no popularly elected legislature, no permanent constitution and no recent experience with free national elections. In less than two years' time they've voted for a transitional government, drafted a progressive, democratic constitution in the heart of the Arab world, then approved the document in a national referendum, and elected a new government under its provisions. And in each successive election in Iraq there has been less violence, broader participation, and bigger voter turnout --- over 70 percent turn-out in the most recent election. (Applause.) Iraqis have shown that they value their own liberty and are determined to chart the future of their own country.
It is not hard to see why the terrorists oppose and rage against the rise of democracy in Iraq. They know that as liberty advances, as men and women are given a say in the affairs of their country, they turn their creative gifts to the pursuits of peace. People who live in freedom are able to choose their own destiny, and this gives them real hope for material progress in their own lives, and a better future for their children. As democracy advances, ideologies that stir anger and hostility lose their appeal, and terrorists lose recruits, safe havens, and sources of funding.
For that reason, our strategy for victory in the war on terror has a fifth and crucial element: Across the broader Middle East, we will work to replace hatred and resentment with democracy and hope. (Applause.)
Supporting political freedom and peaceful change in a troubled part of the world is a long-term commitment. And we already know that the work will be difficult. Yet there is no alternative. On 9/11, the United States learned that problems boiling in a far-off region of the world could lead directly to a sudden and murderous attack right here on our own soil. For decades in the Middle East, millions of people have known nothing but dictatorship and heavy-handed rule --- resulting in misery, bitterness, and the ideologies of violence. If we simply accept the status quo, that region will be a source of conflict and mounting violence for this generation and beyond.
If the peoples of that region are given the rights of free men and women, and live under elected, accountable governments, and have a chance to work and succeed in hopeful societies, then the flow of radicalism and hate will one day come to an end.
In this way, as the President has said, America's ideals and interests are one and the same: The survival of liberty in our own land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands; the best hope for peace in the world is the expansion of freedom throughout the world. (Applause.)
As Americans, we have faith in democracy, but no illusions. We know that it takes time and effort and patience for democratic values and free institutions to take hold, and the greater Middle East has a long way to go. The promise of democracy rests ultimately on free elections and the ability of free peoples to hold accountable those who govern them --- but that is only the beginning.
A functioning democracy requires institutions that endure beyond a single vote. Democracy requires the protection of minority rights, religious liberty, equality before the law, freedom of expression, and an inclusive society in which every person belongs. And those who win elections have a duty to nurture institutions and laws that serve the peaceful aspirations of their people.
Such duties now belong to the newly elected government in the Palestinian territories. I recognize that the outcome of last month's election has caused some to question whether democracy is truly the way toward peace in the Middle East. They argue that, by promoting democratic change, we are actually destabilizing the region and undermining hopes for peace. I believe that's a faulty argument.
For one thing, it's hard to claim that you get lasting stability and peace by denying people a voice in their own government. In fact, the denial of legitimate means of expressing dissent is one of the causes of extremism in the Middle East. For decades, many thought it was worth tolerating oppression for the sake of stability in that region. But we were only buying time as problems multiplied, and demagogues stirred resentment, and the ideologies of violence took hold.
We must make a clean break with that history of failed policy. By helping the peoples of that region gain the freedom to express their views, to have open debate, and to choose their own leaders, we have a better chance of defeating the radicalism that threatens us all. (Applause.)
An alternative to democratic rule is command and control by a tiny elite. That's unfortunately what we have seen for much of the past decade in the Palestinian territories --- and we're still living with the legacy of corruption, broken promises, abject poverty, the collapse of the rule of law and, ultimately, the outbreak of a terrorist campaign on Israel's doorstep. The Hamas candidates pledged to fight corruption and to improve social services, and they'll be held to that standard by the Palestinian people. If the leaders of Hamas desire the help of America and the international community to build an independent, prosperous Palestinian state, then the way forward is very clear. The Palestinian government must recognize Israel's right to exist. (Applause.) And Hamas must renounce terror and dismantle the infrastructure of terror. (Applause.) One thing is certain: The United States will not be a party to the establishment of a Palestinian state that sponsors terror and violence. (Applause.)
Nearly four years ago President Bush committed himself to the vision of two states, living side by side in peace and security. At the same time, he made it clear: There is simply no way to achieve that peace until all parties fight terror.
Ladies and gentlemen, one of the basic truths of the world we live in today is that George W. Bush is a man of his word. (Applause.) The policies of the United States reflect our ideals and the commitments we've made as a nation. And we will be consistent. We will not abandon our belief in democracy. We will not abandon our opposition to terrorism. And we will not abandon our commitment to the security of our friends and allies. Israel can count on the United States of America. (Applause.)
Over the past four years, other free nations have risen in the broader Middle East. America will remain on the side of democratic reformers, and the reformers are on the side of history. Across that region, the political dialogue has been transformed --- and politicians, scholars, students, and men and women from every walk of life are talking about freedom, equal rights, and accountable institutions of government. One leader in Lebanon said: "When I saw the Iraqi people voting, it was the start of a new Arab world...The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."
Indeed, the whole world can see the change, and the rising hope in places like Lebanon. Now that Syrian troops have left that country, the Syrian government must stop trying to interfere with the future of free Lebanon. (Applause.) America is committed to a sovereign, independent, Lebanon, dismantling all armed militias, and control by Lebanon's government over all of Lebanon's territory. (Applause.)
The inquiry into the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri should be carried out in full, so the killers can be brought to justice and all those involved --- no matter what their official positions may be --- can be held accountable. (Applause.) America supports the Lebanese people in their aspirations for freedom and democracy. They deserve the right to decide their country's future, and they deserve a President who truly represents them and who looks to the future, not to the past. (Applause.)
America supports, as well, the democratic aspirations of the people of Iran. (Applause.) Iranians have endured a generation of repression at the hands of a fanatical regime. That regime is one of the world's primary state sponsors of terror. The current President has spoken openly of wiping Israel off the map, and of a world without America. He's made despicable statements doubting the crimes of the Nazis, aligning himself with the rest of the fantasy-world Holocaust deniers.
The regime in Tehran also continues to defy the world with its nuclear ambitions. Of course, this matter may soon go before the U.N. Security Council. The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose meaningful consequences. (Applause.) For our part, the United States is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime. (Applause.) And we join other nations in sending that regime a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)
The people of Iran can be absolutely certain that we respect them, their country, and their long history as a great civilization --- and we stand with them. Iranians desire and deserve to be free from tyranny and oppression in their own homeland. Freedom in the Middle East requires freedom for the Iranian people --- and America looks forward to the day when our Nation can be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran. (Applause.)
In the months and years ahead, America will continue to support democracy as the expression of our ideals for the sake of our own security, as well as for that of our friends and allies. And we will continue to act with the kind of resolve that has made these past five years a time of progress in the broader Middle East.
Consider for a moment where we were five years ago, when President Bush and I took office. The secret planning for the attacks of 9/11 was already well underway. Hijackers had been recruited; funds raised; training had taken place. Some of the hijackers were already in the United States. In Afghanistan, the Taliban were in power. Al Qaeda was operating training camps that in the late '90s turned out thousands of terrorists. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein was in power, overseeing, along with his two malevolent sons, one of the bloodiest regimes of the 20th century.
Five years ago, there was a serious problem with proliferation, especially in the nuclear area. A. Q. Khan, the man who helped put Pakistan's nuclear program in place, had established a network that was providing nuclear weapons technology to rogue states including North Korea and Iran. And Moammar Ghadafi of Libya, one of the A.Q. Khan network's biggest customers, was spending millions to acquire nuclear weapons.
Today the picture is very different. The Taliban regime is now history, and 25 million Afghans are free. (Applause.) We have captured or killed hundreds of al Qaeda; put its leaders on the run; and closed the camps that had trained the killers. (Applause.) Saddam Hussein wakes up every day in a jail cell, his sons are dead -- (applause) -- and Iraqis by the millions have embraced democracy. (Applause.) Iraq's leaders reflect the decency of the Iraqi people, and no dictator is taking their money and giving it to the families of suicide bombers. (Applause.)
Only days after Saddam was captured, the leader of Libya announced he would turn over all of his weapons of mass destruction materials. (Applause.) A short time later, Libya's uranium and centrifuges were sent to a U.S. facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. (Applause.) And the A.Q. Khan proliferation network has been shut down. (Applause.)
Our great country, which over the decades has aided the rise of new democracies in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, now serves that cause in the Middle East --- with courage, and firm purpose, and a level of generosity by the American people not seen since the Marshall Plan.
Five years ago, many would have found it hard to imagine that all these changes were on the way. And, obviously, they did not just happen. Because we've been willing to act on our convictions, we live in a better world today. We cannot know every turn that lies ahead in the fight against terror, and tyranny, and proliferation. Yet at every point, we will be patient and resolute --- because the supporters of democracy will need our help, and the enemies of democracy will test our will. And we will be confident, because events are moving in the direction of human liberty. Freedom's cause is the right cause, and every action we take in support of it makes this world better and safer for our children. (Applause.)
Once again, ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate your hospitality this morning. The President and I are grateful for your counsel, for your commitment to the security of our country, and for all you do on behalf of America's friendship with Israel.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 10:43 A.M. EST