May 26/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 21,15-19. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."He then said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." (Jesus) said to him, "Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."

Free Opinions
The Positions of Amal and Hezbollah on Fatah al-Islam.Walid Choucair-May 26/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for May 26/05/07
America Rushes Aid To Lebanon.New York Sun
Lebanese army gets foreign military aid. AP
'Cursed' Lebanese endure yet another crisis
.Middle East Online

Renewed Fighting in Camp Leaves Shaky Truce in Tatters-Naharnet
Foreign Military Supplies Rushed to Lebanese Army-Naharnet
Fatah al-Islam Threatens More Attacks on Lebanon-Naharnet
Gaza-based Group Vows to Help Fatah al-Islam-Naharnet
Independent Team to Monitor Arms Movements Next Week-Naharnet
Rice Slams Nahr al-Bared's 'Extremists'-Naharnet
France: International Community Wants Hariri's Assassins Punished-Naharnet
Ahmadinejad to Israel: Your Root Will Be Cut from its Stem if you Attack Lebanon-Naharnet
Syrian connection is crystal clear in Lebanon.Ya Libnan
Palestinian Group In South Lebanon Vows To Attack Army .RTT News
Israel, US views on Syria talks unchanged.Ha'aretz
Assad grows into role of Syria's iron ruler.International Herald Tribune

All sides stress unity in face of crisis.Daily Star - Lebanon
Drug dealer convicted of giving Hezbollah information.Ha'aretz
Siniora promises to 'root out terrorism'
-Daily Star
Kouchner vows creation of Hariri court
-Daily Star
Zahrani Bridge to reopen on Liberation Day
-Daily Star
North braces for next round at Nahr al-Bared
-Daily Star
Khalilzad expects UN Security Council to address Hariri court within 'days'
-Daily Star
Hizbullah's construction arm to start rebuilding Dahiyeh in June
-Daily Star
All sides stress unity in face of crisis
-Daily Star
Ottawa and Athens voice support for Beirut
-Daily Star
Exodus from Nahr al-Bared soaks up resources at Beddawi camp
-Daily Star
Gemmayzeh business owners refuse to be cowed into shutting their doors
-Daily Star
Children display knack for salesmanship at 12th Junior Business Fair
-Daily Star
Bombing fails to break resolve of Aley residents
-Daily Star

Neal News Update-Thurs. May 24 - PM
Ø Fighting has resumed between the fortified Nahr Al-Bared Fatah Al-Islam Camp and the Lebanese Army. The Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Al-Murr had earlier issued an ultimatum to the Al-Qaeda affiliated Syrian-backed group holed up inside the camp to either surrender or suffer the consequences. Reliable sources on the ground in Lebanon believe this is the ultimate assault in which the Lebanese government is determined to win.
Ø The consensus in Lebanon is that Syria triggered the fighting in order to deflect attention from, and derail, this week’s UN vote on a resolution imposing an International Tribunal under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter to look into the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri by the Syrian regime. This situation is similar to last July 2006 when Syria prodded Hezbollah to ignite a war with Israel in order to deflect attention from, and derail, the passage of a UN resolution imposing sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. Syria and Iran are allies, and they use Lebanon as a lever in their policies with the West through their proxy Islamic fundamentalist terror groups.
Ø The 24-hour truce agreed to by the Lebanese army has allowed most civilian residents to evacuate the camp, leaving behind only the heavily armed Islamic terrorists to face the onslaught of the Lebanese Armed Forces.
Ø On a goodwill visit to Beirut today, the new French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner declared that Hezbollah was not a terrorist organization, thus setting the stage for another 5 years of French poodling to Islamic fundamentalists. New French President Nicolas Sarkozy had promised otherwise.
Ø The US has acquiesced to the request by Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora for re-supplying the Lebanese army. The pre-1975 strength of that army was deliberately curtailed over the 3 decades of the Syrian occupation and its puppet Lebanese regimes to the benefit of the Syrian Islamic fundamentalist proxies like Fatah Al-Islam and Hezbollah. Ø Rumors are being circulated by the hardline left-wing propagandists Robert Fisk, Seymour Hersh and Alistair Crooke to the effect that the terror groups now fighting the Lebanese Army were in fact armed by the Lebanese government in some far-fetched conspiracy theory to which a terrified and brain-washed Lebanese population is very prone. Luckily, those false rumors and twilight-zone conspiracies have been debunked as propaganda-driven second rate information, if not outright lies, that aim at denying Lebanon its right to assert its sovereignty and extricate itself from the claws of Syria and its Islamic fundamentalists who have wreaked havoc in the country for the past 30 years. See Michael Young’s editorial in the respected Lebanese English daily the Daily Star (Appropriately re-titled by this writer as Fisk, Hersh and other Crookes):
and also:

Rice Slams Nahr al-Bared's 'Extremists'
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has blamed the collapse of a truce in north Lebanon on Fatah al-Islam fighters trying to "sow discord" as she renewed the Bush administration's strong support of Premier Fouad Saniora's government. "I certainly hope that the Lebanese government will be able to deal with these extremists," Rice said Thursday. "It's just another example of extremists in the Middle East who are trying to destabilize democratic governments." Rice made her comments in a joint appearance with Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer at California's Silicon Valley. "We continue to follow the situation in Lebanon very closely," she said."The Lebanese government is, I think, very much trying to do the right thing here, to protect its population against the extremists who would sow discord and instability there," Rice said. "And I think the world is speaking out in favor of the Lebanese government." Fighting resumed Thursday night between Lebanese troops and the militants holed up inside the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-bared, ending a two-day-old truce.(AP-AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 25 May 07, 07:21

Foreign Military Supplies Rushed to Lebanese Army
Military aid began arriving Friday after the U.S. said it will rush supplies to the Lebanese army which is locked in battles with Fatah al-Islam fighters inside the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. Although U.S. officials said the military aid to Lebanon had been agreed to before the fighting broke out this week, the speedy shipment marked the first tangible U.S. backing of the Lebanese authorities in their fight with the militants.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday renewed the Bush administration's strong support of the Lebanese government.
"I certainly hope that the Lebanese government will be able to deal with these extremists," Rice said. "It's just another example of extremists in the Middle East who are trying to destabilize democratic governments." At the camp, gunfire had grown heavier Thursday shortly after nightfall and continued on and off through early Friday. Troops have entrenched their positions around the camp but did not appear to be attempting to advance. Reinforcements from other regions are also arriving, mostly drawn from elite commando units.
The military airlift began in earnest Friday as the U.S. rushed ammunition and other equipment to the Lebanese army. Two military transports landed at Rafik Hariri international airport in the morning, spotted by many Beirut residents. The military refused to comment, apparently because of the sensitivity of the matter. Security officials, however, said that a United Arab Emirates air force plane had landed late Thursday with the first supplies. But An Nahar newspaper said that a first U.S. plane had arrived late Thursday from Kuwait, with two more expected on Friday from Egypt. The remainder will be coming from other Arab states where the U.S. maintains weapons depots, it said. A Pentagon official said Thursday that the United States would provide ammunition and other equipment to the Lebanese army in a military airlift of eight planes. A U.S. military official said the Lebanese government had asked the U.S. to expedite a shipment of a broad range of equipment and ammunition already in the pipeline for delivery. Lebanese officials subsequently told Washington they needed the ammunition right away, the official said. All of the materials en route had previously been requested, the agreements were already in place, and they were in the delivery process, the official said. The United States provided $40 million in military aid to Lebanon last year and already this year has supplied hardware worth $5 million.(AP-AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 25 May 07, 10:09

Fatah al-Islam Threatens More Attacks on Lebanon
Fatah al-Islam's military commander threatened to carry out attacks in other Lebanese regions than the north if Lebanese troops launched an all-out onslaught on its fighters holed up in the refugee camp of Nahr al-bared. Shehab Qdour, better known by his pseudonym of Abu Hureira, said in a telephone interview with the pan-Arab Al Hayat newspaper that "sleeper cells" in all 12 Palestinian refugee camps and elsewhere in Lebanon were awaiting word for a "violent response."
Abu Hureira assured that Fatah al-Islam is "capable of transferring the battle to any spot in Lebanon." "We can easily do that," he told Al Hayat by telephone from Nahr al-Bared. He said Fatah al-Islam can launch a guerrilla war "which no army can defeat." Abu Hureira said Fatah al-Islam members were "highly qualified" warriors with fighting experience outside Lebanon," adding that he himself enjoys a 21-year combating experience in various countries.
He emphasized that his group has no intentions to attack peacekeepers of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon "as long as they do not hit us."
Abu Hureira said between 600 to 700 Fatah al-Islam militants were spread across Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps, not just in Nahr al-Bared as believed by the Lebanese authorities."They are (in a state) of maximum alert," he said. Abu Hureira denied reports that Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker Absi had been wounded during the three days of fighting with Lebanese troops in Nahr el-Bared. He said the terrorist group has underground shelters in the camp on the outskirts of the northern port city of Tripoli. "We have nothing to lose," he said. "We are ready to fight two years or more." Beirut, 25 May 07, 11:37

Renewed Fighting in Camp Leaves Shaky Truce in Tatters
Brief exchanges of gunfire late Thursday shattered a shaky truce between Lebanese troops and extremist militants of Fatah al-Islam holed up in the northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. But there was no sign that the army was making any move to enter the beleaguered shantytown.
The renewed fighting on the northern edge of the Nahr al-Bared camp appeared so far limited to exchanges, which lasted 20 minutes before tapering off into sporadic gunfire. Security officials said army positions came under heavy machine gun fire from Fatah al-Islam gunmen followed by rocket-propelled grenades, so the army "dealt" with the source of fire. The officials said the army will not initiate fire but will respond to attack. Earlier in the day, the Lebanese army moved troops around the Nahr al-Bared camp but did not attempt to advance, apparently giving time for negotiations and for the militants to comply with a government ultimatum to surrender or face a military assault. The aim of the troop movements outside the camp, the security officials told The Associated Press, was to provide better protection for troops in exposed positions. Fatah al-Islam spokesman Abu Salim Taha said on al-Jazeera television from inside the camp that the army opened fire and that the fighters remain committed to the truce.
The renewed exchanges came as both sides dug in their positions -- the government determined to root out the militants and the fighters refusing to surrender.
Prime Minister Fouad Saniora vowed in a speech Thursday to wipe out the militants barricaded in the camp, raising the prospect that the Lebanese army will either storm the camp, in what would likely be a bloody battle, or dig in for a long siege to force their surrender. Fighters from the al-Qaida-inspired Fatah al-Islam militant group, estimated in the hundreds, saying they will fight off any Lebanese attack. Taha repeated Fatah al-Islam will never surrender or flee. "This is impossible. We will fight till the last moment, the last drop of blood and the last bullet," he said. He added that mediation by major Palestinian factions has not proven successful.
The fighting between the army and the militants, which broke out Sunday, has killed some 50 combatants and many civilians. Thousands of Palestinian civilians -- mainly women and children -- have fled the camp on the outskirts of the northern port city of Tripoli, but many thousands remain inside.
Most of the thousands of Palestinian refugees who have fled the Nahr al-Bared camp since the truce took hold Tuesday packed into the nearby Beddawi refugee camp, lining up at U.N.-run schools and clinics with registration cards hoping to get food and mattresses. The camp's six schools were overflowing with refugees who said that up to 50 people were sleeping in each class room. More refugees trickled out of Nahr al-Bared Thursday. They left packed in a few pickup trucks or walked out to the first army checkpoints where they were checked and allowed to proceed.
Amid media reports of Muslim clerics negotiating with the militants to avert an army onslaught, Saniora's government appeared to be preparing the grounds for a showdown, including the possible storming of the camp. The Lebanese military stays out of the camps under a 1969 agreement that allows the Palestinians to run them.
Storming the Nahr al-Bared camp -- a densely built-up town of narrow streets on the Mediterranean coast -- could mean rough urban fighting for Lebanese troops and further death and destruction for the thousands of civilians who remain inside. It could also spark unrest in Lebanon's 11 other Palestinian refugee camps. Although Palestinian factions have dissociated themselves from Fatah al-Islam, refugees in other camps, which are rife with armed groups, were seething with anger over the army bombardments that have partially destroyed Nahr al-Bared.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 25 May 07, 07:30

Independent Team to Monitor Arms Movements Next Week
The United Nations has said it would send an independent team to Lebanon early next week to check on reported arms smuggling across the border with Syria.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon informed the Security Council of the impending mission which was requested by the Council last month to probe reports of illegal arms movements across the Lebanese-Syrian border. After briefing the Council on the latest turmoil in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, U.N. Under Secretary General for political affairs Lynn Pascoe told reporters Thursday said the U.N. team would assess Lebanon's ability to check on arms movements across its border and report back to the Council. In a letter to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilzad released Thursday, Ban said the independent assessment team "will review the roles of relevant agencies, with particular attention to current national customs and border monitoring capacities, as well as progress made by security and customs agencies in strengthening their control of the border."
He added that the team would also liaise closely with a German team currently conducting a pilot project in northern Lebanon and with the relevant Lebanese agencies with a view to developing a set of standards for border entry points. The U.N. team, which is to spend roughly two weeks on the ground in Lebanon, will be led by Lasse Rosenkrands of Denmark and will be made up of experts from Algeria, Germany, Jamaica and Switzerland. Earlier this month, Ban warned in a report that the alleged arms smuggling into Lebanon and the possible arming of various groups in the country might deepen the ongoing political crisis. Syria has denied that arms are making their way over the border into Lebanon. Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah last August, called for the prevention of illegal arms sales and smuggling operations in Lebanon.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 25 May 07, 07:34

Ahmadinejad to Israel: Your Root Will Be Cut from its Stem if you Attack Lebanon
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Israel on Thursday that other nations in the Middle East would take strong action against the Jewish state if it attacked Lebanon in the summer. "If you think that by bombing and assassinating Palestinian leaders you are preparing ground for new attacks on Lebanon in the summer, I am telling you that you are seriously wrong," Ahmadinejad told a rally in the city of Isfahan. "If this year you repeat the same mistake of the last year, the ocean of nations of the region will get angry and will cut the root of the Zionist regime from its stem," added Ahmadinejad, speaking live on state television.
Ahmadinejad warned Israel that "60 years of invasion and assassination is enough. If you do not cease invasion and massacre, soon the hand of power of the nations of the region will rub you criminals with earth."Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Ahmadinejad's comments reflected the Iranian leadership's support for the "most extreme elements in Lebanon and in the Palestinian Authority."
"Ahmadinejad funds, trains and arms the most extreme anti-peace elements in the region. If there is any real threat to regional security, it comes from an expansionist fundamentalist Iran," Regev said. The 34-day Israel-Hizbullah war started after the Iranian and Syrian-backed Shiite group captured two Israeli soldiers in a deadly cross border raid in July 2006. The conflict ended August 14 under U.N. Resolution 1701. After the inconclusive outcome of the war, Israelis are seen as unlikely to start another one unless they felt they could emerge clearly victorious. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lost most of his public support after Israel failed to achieve its stated goals — freeing the captured soldiers and crushing Hizbullah.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 24 May 07, 21:26

France: International Community Wants Hariri's Assassins Punished
France said Thursday the international community is determined to set up an international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, on his first trip since assuming office less than a week ago, told a Beirut news conference "France and the international community are determined to establish the tribunal to try the assassins." He flew in Thursday for a two-day trip billed by the foreign ministry as a re-affirmation of "French solidarity with Lebanon and its people during a critical period."
His visit comes at a time when the country's army and a tiny Islamist militant group are facing off at a Palestinian refugee camp in the north of the country after three days of fighting that killed at least 69 people. Kouchner met Prime Minister Fouad Saniora, parliament speaker Nabih Berri and other officials.
"The international community will never accept threats and terrorism, and we are determined to vote at the (UN) Security Council a resolution to establish the international tribunal," he told reporters. A draft put forward by the United States, France and Britain to set up the proposed court to hear the Hariri case is currently before the 15-member council. No date has yet been set for a vote. Hariri and 22 other people were killed by a massive bomb blast in February 2005, widely blamed on Syria which was then forced to end nearly 30 years of military and political domination of Lebanon. Damascus denied any involvement in the killing. The issue is one of the key political challenges that has faced Saniora's majority government for months, with the Syrian-backed opposition, led by Hizbullah, trying to overthrow the administration.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 24 May 07, 17:26

Lebanese Troops Kill Well-known Militant during House Raid
Lebanese troops killed a militant from the extremist Fatah al-Islam during a house raid in the northern port city of Tripoli, police said.
They said Bilal Drakish, also known as Abu Jandal, was shot dead on Wednesday as he prepared to throw a grenade at a unit of security forces raiding an apartment in Tripoli's northern neighborhood of Tibanneh. Police said the security forces had been pursuing Drakish who tried to throw a hand grenade at them but was fatally shot before he could trigger it. State-run National News Agency said two passers-by were wounded in the exchange and were taken to hospital for treatment.
The incident came a day after another Fatah al-Islam militant -- wearing a suicide belt -- blew himself up in an apartment in Tripoli as security forces closed in on him. No one else was killed in the event Tuesday, which was the first case of a suicide bomber directly confronting security forces in Lebanon. On Sunday, a residential compound on the city's Mitein Street was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting between troops and Fatah al-Islam. Lebanese troops have been fighting members of the al-Qaida-inspired Fatah al-Islam in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared on the outskirts of Tripoli. More than 50 people have been killed in the battles.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 24 May 07, 09:19

Neal News Apdate
Lebanon – Update Friday May 25 AM
Fighting continues between the fortified Nahr Al-Bared Fatah Al-Islam Camp and the Lebanese Army, which is hunting Fatah Al-Islam’s terrorists trying to escape the besieged camp. All indications point to an imminent final assault by the Lebanese government.
Ø Three planeloads of US supplies to the Lebanese army arrived yesterday from Qatar .
Ø The Draft UN resolution on the International Tribunal allowing the use of force is being circulated prior to a vote. Qatar , a US ally with US military bases on its soil and with friendly trade relations with Israel , has expressed reservations.
Ø The silence of Hezbollah over the Nahr Al-Bared events – other than an expression of lukewarm support to the Lebanese army – indicates the conflict and division within the pro-Iranian terrorist organization that these events are causing it. On one hand, Hezbollah has to appear supportive of Lebanese sovereignty and institutions in the eyes of the Lebanese people (about whom Hezbollah could not care less but on which it is counting to seize power), but most importantly for Hezbollah’s ideological foundations it cannot appear to support a strong Lebanese army taking on a group like Fatah Al-Islam because:
1. Like Hezbollah, Fatah Al-Islam is a fundamentalist Islamic organization challenging Lebanese sovereignty
2. Like Hezbollah, Fatah Al-Islam is an ally of Syria armed and funded by it (with Iran )
3. Like Hezbollah, Fatah Al-Islam is supposed to be liberating Palestine . How can Hezbollah which wants to liberate Palestine in spite of the Palestinian themselves, support a crackdown by the Lebanese government on Palestinian movements?
4. Paradoxically, Hezbollah and its allies of Gen. Michel Aoun’s FPM, have raised the threat of Sunni Islamic fundamentalism as more dangerous to Lebanon than Hezbollah’s Iranian Shiite brand of fundamentalism, as a way to justify not disarming Hezbollah as mandated by the Lebanese constitution, several UN resolutions, and the Taef Accord of 1989.
Ø The hardline left-wing western media continue to attack the Lebanese government for its action against the fortified terrorist camps. As they did in the 1970s and 1980s, they are doing it again today. In their view of the world, the Lebanese government cannot do what every other Arab country has done long ago: Clamp down on the Palestinian movements. In the 70s and 80s, they said it was the Lebanese Christians, those modern-day “Crusaders”, whose thirst of power made them attack the poor Palestinian refugee camps. Today, they have a Sunni Moslem Lebanese government taking on Sunni Palestinian terrorists.
Ø Unfortunately, the Lebanese FPM party of Michel Aoun has today – after three decades of war – become the mouthpiece of this vicious rejection of the Lebanese right to self-assertion and sovereignty. On their web site, which only a few months ago promised an “objective” coverage of the news, one sees the verbal diarrheas of extreme hard-line “abjective” left-wing propagandists like Robert Fisk and Seymour Hersh. The most recent English-language posting on the site is another “let’s-pity-the-poor-Palestinians”, “Damn-those-Fascist-Lebanese” conspiracy lunacy by one obscure leftwing militant Franklin Lamb whom the FPM wants paraded as “mainstream” western opinion. [see:]. No other western opinion is presented, as though one gets objectivity from hallucinating residual hippies from the 1960s, and FPM followers are asked to believe this garbage as the “THE Western” view of the Lebanese situation. Similarly, seems to relish posting reports by the UK’s The Guardian as it spews its venom against the Lebanese army with reports entitled: “Lebanese army shells refugee camp” or “Refugees warn clashes may spread amid fury at Lebanese army”, obviously to discredit the army and the country for wanting to finally impose its own long-deserved peace.
Ø We suggested two days ago that Lebanon is not responsible for the Palestinian refugees. [See:] All those whose hearts are bleeding at the sight of the poor “Palestinian refugees” under the fire of the horrible Lebanese government should “rescue” the refugees to their own countries where, unlike the Fascist Lebanese, they can give them civilized housing, medical care, jobs, and yes, training camps from which they can continue the “liberation” of Palestine. The UK in particular should be the best candidate for such a humanitarian re-settlement since its former colonial governments in the early 1900s duplicitously offered both the Jews and the Palestinians conflicting sovereignties, which leads us directly to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with which Lebanon has nothing to do other than suffer its devastating consequences.

The Positions of Amal and Hezbollah on Fatah al-Islam

Walid Choucair Al-Hayat - 25/05/07//
On Wednesday, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), General Michel Aoun, joined key political powers in Lebanon in supporting the Lebanese army's military intervention to end the standoff with Fatah al-Islam fighters holed in the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp by declaring that "the entry of the army is the only solution," and his rejection to "any negotiations" with the upstart movement while at the same time stressing that he "was not subjecting the security and the interests of the country to any political calculations or considerations. "
As a matter of fact, Aoun's new position in response to this crisis comes at the heals of pervious position dominated by blaming Lebanon's majority-backed government for the exploding military situation in the city of Tripoli and the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp between the Lebanese army and security forces and the Fatah al-Islam movement.
Aoun's decision to reconsider his previous stance has essentially taken him out of the ongoing debate over the internal political crisis and thrown him into a new light.
For General Michel Aoun, in his capacity as former army chief and the leader of a huge popular base made up to a significant extent of families of former military personnel both in active service or retired, is fully aware of the extent of the damage the army, as well as he himself, stand to sustain on the popular level after the massacre carried out by the Fatah al-Islam fighters against the army on Sunday.
Aoun fully realizes that this popular base, along with the popular base loyal to his political rivals in the March 14 Forces, are currently at the highest state of solidarity and sympathy with the army; and are in full support of any option the army might settle on; whether in decisively dealing with the Fatah al-Islam fighters or demanding their surrender, as the only position to protect, uphold, and maintain the status of the army and the authority in Lebanon.
This realization entails that Aoun has opted not to wait for the national unity government or the resignation of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora - as demanded by Aoun and the his allies in the opposition - before taking declared stances in response to the emerging phenomenon of Fatah al-Islam.
Aoun's decision, however, places his main allies in the opposition, particularly Amal Movement and Hezbollah, in an even tighter spot and a position of accountability in the light of the Arab consensus, as expressed by the Arab League's declaration, and the UN Security Council statement in support of the Lebanese army's and the government's choices with respect to Fatah al-Islam, not to mention the backing of another key Christian leader to this option.
For their part, Amal and Hezbollah opted to stay out of this consensus, as evident by statements issued by the Amal's representatives in the parliament and the Supreme Islamic Shiite Council, which encompasses religious clerics and the key Shiite MPs, who make up the majority of the council.
Amal and Hamas leaders insisted on depicting the challenge facing the people of Lebanon as a manifestation of the internal political debacle in Lebanon, essentially confusing the perils to transforming Lebanon into an arena for external terrorism that is not related to the Palestinians or the Lebanese, with their accusation of the majority of monopolizing power.
As part of their condemnation of the standoff between Fatah al-Islam and the army, both Amal and Hezbollah accused the majority backed government of 'embroiling the army'.
The leadership of both Shiite movements also waged a relentless political mobilization campaign against the army's actions in the name of criticizing the government's policies and accusing it of discrimination against Palestinian civilians.
Many questions, lingering over Amal's and Hezbollah's positions might have remained unanswered, hadn't it been for the call by both movements to "draw lessons from the state of political vacuum resulting from the absence of a legitimate authority," and the need to "quickly ratify a political settlement …", which coincided statements by Vice Syrian President, Farouk Shara's statements carrying the meaning.
On the same day, Shara said that Fatah al-Islam can only emerge in a weak, divided country, and that the "responsibility" for the emergence such movements lies on "those who reject the national unity government", and that "there will be no security remedy without the political participation from all the active sides in Lebanon…".
These identical ideas are actually against the interests of Amal and Hezbollah, especially if we took into account the accusations their Syrian ally is facing of being behind the unleashing of Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon.
Leaving these accusation aside for now, the justifications made by the opposition leaders for their decision to abstain from backing a the army's decision to deal with an iron fist with the emergence of the Sunni Fatah al-Islam under the pretext of seeking to avoid inflaming Sunni- Shiite sensitivities are highly untenable.
As a matter of fact, what has been actually inflaming the Sunni-Shiite sensitivities in Lebanon is the relentless attack by Amal and Hezbollah against Siniora and the head of the Future Movement, MP Saad Hariri, in addition to their position with respect to the international tribunal