November 13/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 17,1-6. He said to his disciples, "Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, 'I am sorry,' you should forgive him." And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." The Lord replied, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to (this) mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you

Releases. Reports & Opinions
Physicians And The Gates Of Hell.Ghassan Charbel.Dar Al-Hayat. November 13/07
President of all of Lebanon...Friend/Enemy of Everybody.Dar Al-Hayat - Beirut,Lebanon. November 12/07
Defiance and sanctions generate only stalemate on Iran's nuclear industry.Daily Star. November 12/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for November 12/07
France's foreign minister to visit Lebanon.International Herald Tribune
Hariri: Concensus ... or Simple Majority Vote-Naharnet
Nasrallah Speech Sparks Outrage-Naharnet
Nasrallah Torpedoes French Initiative.Naharnet
Nasrallah: Hizbullah Ready to Change Face of Region, Vows to Maintain Military Might-Naharnet

Hezbollah turns up the pressure ahead of Lebanon elections. Reuters
Nasrallah: Hizbullah Ready to Change Face of Region, Vows to Maintain Military Might
Is Bkirki Willing to Take Responsibility for Election Outcome?
'US told Syria that Golan return will be on summit's agenda'
-Jerusalem Post
Russia Exerting Pressure on Syria over Lebanon Election
Syria Blasts U.S. for Meddling in Lebanon-Naharnet

Nasrallah: Hizbullah Ready to Change Face of Region, Vows to Maintain Military Might-Naharnet
Is Bkirki Willing to Take Responsibility for Election Outcome?-Naharnet
Syria Blasts U.S. for Meddling in Lebanon-Naharnet
Pope Worried About Presidential Elections-Naharnet
Egypt-Saudi Summit Focused on Lebanon-Naharnet
Bush, Merkel Reiterate Support for Saniora Government-Naharnet
Government Warns Against Stirring Up Tensions in Camps-Naharnet
No War Between Israel and Hizbullah to Avoid Mutual Defeat-Naharnet
Can Hizbullah Reject Syria's Orders?

Open-air concert sends message to politicians-Daily Star
Knowledge Networks project uses ICT to empower women-Daily Star
Initiative puts dirty laundry of domestic abuse on display-Daily Star
All Lebanese should feel represented' in Baabda - pope-Daily Star
Nasrallah backs early polls to defuse presidential crisis-Daily Star
Israelis say troops wounded two suspected drug smugglers in Ghajar.AFP
Cabinet calls for 'vigilance' in face of rumored Islamist infiltration-Daily Star
Sfeir calls impasse 'threat to existence of Lebanon'-Daily Star
An appeal for the sake of the republic-Daily Star
How to balance engaging Syria with protecting Lebanon.Daily Star
Beirut Stock Exchange shows signs of revival-Daily Star
Association of Banks in Lebanon renews terms of board members-Daily Star
Lebanon to build private power plants-Daily Star
Mubarak hosts summit with Iraqi, Sudanese and Yemeni leaders
-Daily Star

Nasrallah Torpedoes French Initiative
Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's fiery speech has torpedoed the French initiative aimed at bringing Lebanon's feuding leaders to agree on the election of a new president and avoid a power vacuum that could plunge the country into further chaos.
The daily An Nahar, which labeled Nasrallah's speech "stormy," said Monday that his remarks not only surprised the ruling March 14 team, but also many leaders within the opposition itself, on top of them Speaker Nabih Berri.
It said contacts and consultations held overnight among the various political parties covered the "focal point" in Nasrallah's speech regarding his appeal to President Emile Lahoud. Nasrallah on Sunday urged Lahoud to adopt a "national rescue initiative" to prevent a power vacuum in the event that a new head of state was not elected. An Nahar, citing opposition sources, said this proposal - which Nasrallah did not give details over its nature – had been coordinated among a number of opposition factions a long time ago. The sources did not rule out the possibility that this "proposal" could be under "actual preparation" since several meetings had taken place between Lahoud and Hizbullah's Loyalty to the Resistance parliamentary bloc which likely had witnessed "coordination of roles in preparing for this crucial moment."An Nahar quoted the sources as saying that Nasrallah's speech was tantamount to the go-ahead order for implementing the Lahoud proposal. Prominent March 14 sources said Nasrallah's speech is a "declaration of war, instigates a coup and opens fire on everybody, including Speaker Berri."An Nahar quoted one March 14 source as saying that "Iranian motives" were likely behind Nasrallah's speech, citing the French role that supported the United States in imposing new sanctions on Tehran. The sources said the speech seemed to be aimed at pressuring March 14 Forces into accepting one of two alternatives: Either drag it to a confrontation under Hizbullah's conditions, or force it to elect a new president by a simple majority.
Beirut, 12 Nov 07, 12:05

Nasrallah backs early polls to defuse presidential crisis
'The whole world' cannot disarm resistance - and cabinet is 'a bunch of thieves and murderers'-Daily Star
By Rym Ghazal -Daily Star staff
Monday, November 12, 2007
BEIRUT: Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah cast a broad net on Sunday, vowing that no one could disarm his Hizbullah resistance fighters, recommending early parliamentary elections as a remedy to the standoff over Lebanon's presidency, and warning that recent Israeli military exercises were preparation for a new conflict.
Nasrallah also reached out to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, many of whom live in camps near neighborhoods known as hotbeds of Hizbullah support, and voiced opposition to the government's plans to privatize the country's two mobile-phone networks.
In a televised address to a crowded Hizbullah rally in commemoration of Martyrs Day, Nasrallah promised that no power could force his group to give up its arms.
"If the whole world came and tried, it wouldn't be capable of implementing the clause concerning the disarmament of the resistance in [UN Security Council] Resolution 1559," he told the crowd. Resolution 1559, adopted in late 2004, calls for the disarmament of all nonstate militias in Lebanon and has been one of the most contentious issues separating the Hizbullah-led opposition from the Western-backed government, as Hizbullah and numerous Palestinian groups remain armed.
Nasrallah told his followers that Hizbullah held exercises of its own in South Lebanon last weekend in response to the Israeli maneuvers near the border and to send "a clear message" to the Jewish state that Hizbullah fighters were prepared "day and night" to defend Lebanon.
"The enemy has been conducting military maneuvers for months. The latest maneuvers occurred a few weeks ago near the Lebanese border, in which 50,000 Israeli officers and soldiers participated," he said. "These maneuvers are to prepare for an attack on Lebanon."
Nasrallah said his fighters were ready and Hizbullah had the "determination, the will, the manpower and sufficient weapons" to face Israel in conflict.
"The resistance is ready, day and night, to defend South Lebanon as well as all of Lebanon ... to achieve a historic victory that will change the face of the region," he said. Nasrallah also warned that Hizbullah and the opposition would "never" accept a new president elected by simple majority and without a two-thirds quorum of legislators, adding that if a consensus president could not be agreed upon in the upcoming days, then the country should hold early parliamentary elections.
"Let us hold early, transparent parliamentary elections where the true majority gets to elect the new president," he said.
The Syrian-backed March 8 opposition has been unable for months to agree with the March 14 ruling coalition on a consensus successor to outgoing President Emile Lahoud. Three scheduled sessions in Parliament have been postponed because of the tussle, with the latest vote called for November 21.
Nasrallah thanked Lahoud for supporting the resistance and called on him to step in if a consensus were not reached.
"We appeal to His Excellency President Emile Lahoud to do what his conscience and national responsibility stipulates ... and take a step or a national salvation initiative to stop the country from [sliding into] a vacuum," said Nasrallah.
He did not elaborate on what he wanted Lahoud to do. Lahoud has threatened not to hand over power to the government if his term expires without a successor, and many have voiced fears of parallel governments arising, as happened at the end of Lebanon's 1975-90 Civil War. Nasrallah also labeled the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora "a bunch of thieves and murderers" backed by the US and Israel. Siniora's March 14 cohorts have said they plan to elect a president by simple majority if the feuding camps cannot agree on a consensus successor. The Constitution allows MPs to elect a new head of state by simple majority only a first session attended by two-thirds of MPs. Addressing Lahoud, Nasrallah said, "Do not allow the country to fall into the hands of thieves and murderers."
Nasrallah also turned his attention to reports of potential problems brewing in Beirut's Palestinian refugee camps - Burj al-Barajneh, Sabra and Shatila - located near the Hizbullah-controlled southern suburbs. He said his followers enjoyed "strong and good" relations with the Palestinians.
"There will be no war between the camps and their neighbors," he said, calling on the Palestinians to act responsibly and not allow "strife to infiltrate the camps."
The Lebanese Cabinet had called on Saturday for vigilance in the face of reports of new attempts by Islamist militants to infiltrate the country's dozen Palestinian refugee camps. The Hizbullah leader also warned against the recent move to privatize the cellular industry, a move long opposed by the opposition with accusations that the tender would be rigged to favor bidders close to the government.
"Just you wait and see who buys it up," Nasrallah said, echoing the concerns of many observers who believe powerful politicians will steer the deal toward their cronies and/or relatives. - With agencies

Pope Worried About Presidential Elections
Pope Benedict XVI Sunday expressed his concern about the presidential elections rescheduled for Nov. 21, underscoring that it was "crucial" for the future of the country. "The national assembly will be soon called upon to elect a new head of state," the pontiff said, adding that the ballot was "crucial for the survival of Lebanon and its institutions." "I add my concerns to those expressed recently by the Christian Maronite patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir and his wish that all Lebanese can recognise the new president," he said. The ballot has been deferred three times since September 25 amid deadlock on a consensus candidate between parliament's majority bloc and the opposition, which includes factions backed by Syria and Iran.(AFP) Beirut, 11 Nov 07, 15:07

Hezbollah turns up the pressure in Lebanon crisis By Nadim Ladki

Sun Nov 11, 3:19 PM ET
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon's Hezbollah on Sunday called on incumbent President Emile Lahoud to take action if rival political leaders are unable to agree on a consensus president in next week's election. Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah did not say what he wanted the president to do and his call seemed likely to further complicate efforts by parliament to elect a president.
But, the powerful leader appeared to be backing a suggestion that pro-Syrian Lahoud could form a parallel government if there was no agreement on the presidential election. Lebanon's presidential election has been postponed from November 12 to November 21 to give the anti-Syrian majority coalition and the Hezbollah-led opposition more time to break a deadlock over a compromise candidate. Lahoud's term expires on November 23.
But there has been little progress towards an agreement and the majority, backed by the United States, has said it would elect a president on its own if there was no deal. Nasrallah said Hezbollah would consider any such president as an "usurper of power" and labeled the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora "a bunch of thieves and murderers" backed by the United States and Israel.
The parliamentary session to elect a president has already been postponed twice and the impasse has pushed Lebanon into its worst political crisis since the 1975-90 civil war. Many Lebanese fear a failure to reach a deal could lead to more bloodshed amid reports that all factions are arming themselves.
"We appeal to his excellency President Emile Lahoud to do what his conscience and national responsibility stipulates... and take a step or a national salvation initiative to stop the country from (sliding into) a vacuum," Nasrallah said in a live televised address to a crowded Hezbollah rally.
Hezbollah, which fought a 34-day war with Israel last year, is by far the strongest military force in the country and Nasrallah said the group would not give up its weapons despite international demands. The United States and the anti-Syrian majority say any new president should be committed to U.N. resolutions that include calls for the disarming of Hezbollah. "There is no one who can disarm Hezbollah," Nasrallah said.
The anti-Syrian majority also says Lahoud does not have the constitutional right to take any measures without the approval of the government.
Lahoud's six-year term was extended in 2004 by another three years at the behest of Syria, a step that enraged the international community.
Lahoud has largely been shunned since then and Syria ended its three-decade-long military presence in Lebanon in 2005 in the wake of widespread outcry after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Damascus has denied any links to Hariri's killing.
France, leading international efforts to ensure a smooth election -- seen as vital to resolving the year-old political dispute that has paralyzed the country -- will send Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to Beirut later this week.
(Additional reporting by Laila Bassam; Editing by Matthew Jones)

Nasrallah: Hizbullah Ready to Change Face of Region, Vows to Maintain Military Might

Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday pleaded with President Emile Lahoud to launch a "national rescue initiative" that would prevent a power vacuum in the event that a new head of state was not elected. " I call on Lahoud to undertake a step or a national rescue intitiative to prevent a vacuum if consensus (on a presidential candidate) was not reached or if elections were held by a half-plus-one vote which is worse than a vacuum," Nasrallah said in a speech delivered on a huge screen set up in the southern suburbs on the occasion of Martyr's Day. Nasrallah called for early parliamentary elections in the event that consensus was not reached before the end of Lahoud's term, which runs out Nov.24, adding that the one who wins with majority would choose the next president provided that the minority ensurse a two-third quorum for the elections. He said presidential elections would spell out the shape up of the new government and the role of the Lebanese army.
Nasrallah also vowed to maintain his military might. "No one in the world can disarm Hizbullah," Nasrallah warned, indicating his readiness to engage in a new confrontation with Israel. He said the Islamic resistance in Lebanon "possesses the men, the determination, the will and sufficient weapons to confront Israel."
"The resistance is ready day and night to defend south Lebanon and Lebanon," Nasrallah assured.
He said Hizbullah's recent maneuvres convey a message that the "resistance is ready to make a historic victory that would change the face of the region." Beirut, 11 Nov 07, 19:56

Is Bkirki Willing to Take Responsibility for Election Outcome?

Is Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir willing to take responsibility for the outcome of presidential elections and call for a meeting of key Maronite leaders in order to draw up a list of consensus candidates? The daily An Nahar on Sunday cited sources close to Bkirki as saying such a meeting could not take place, and even if it did, agreement may not be reached. They said Bkirki did not ask for guarantees to protect access to the list of candidates, adding that it would only present it to Parliament so that no names are wiped out. The sources wondered whether Bkirki should shoulder responsibility for drawing up a list of candidates that excludes Gen. Michel Aoun, MPs Butros Harb and Nassib Lahoud or even former President Emile Lahoud. "Thus, the ball now is in Parliament court," one source told An Nahar.
Bishop Boulos Mattar, Bishop of the Maronite Bishopric of Beirut, said, however, that Sfeir could call for a meeting of major Maronite leaders to "take the crucial decision."The pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat said Arab and international pressures have led to the delay of the elections till Nov. 21 to give the feuding sides a last chance to reach consensus through a mechanism sought by France. The mechanism, according to Al Hayat, was discussed in Syria and among the various Lebanese factions. It allows Sfeir to issue a list of consensus candidates out of which one or two nominees would be selected and then Parliament would pick one. Beirut, 11 Nov 07, 07:39

Syria Blasts U.S. for Meddling in Lebanon

Syria accused the United States on Sunday of meddling in Lebanon.
"The United States is always urging everyone not to interfere in Lebanese affairs, including the presidential election," the ruling Baath party daily, Al-Baath, said.
"And yet the U.S. administration is always interfering everywhere in the world, including Lebanon," wrote chief editor Elias Murad. Al-Baath particularly denounced statements made by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch, who pledged Washington would use all means to ensure an open election in Beirut. "We will not exhaust any means to support those who want to have a decent fair open election according to their constitution," Welch told Congress on Thursday. "This is a moment of truth for Lebanon," he added. Washington would welcome a new Lebanese "president who represents the country of Lebanon much more ably than President Lahoud's regrettable tenure." Al-Baath also lashed out at Lebanon's anti-Syrian parliamentary majority for "linking their fate, and Lebanon's fate, to the U.S. and Israeli agendas." The comments came a day after Lebanon's pro-opposition House Speaker Nabih Berri postponed, for the third time, a special session to elect a successor for Lahoud. The session due to take place on Monday was delayed till November 21, a mere three days before Lahoud's mandate expires.
The postponement is aimed at giving rival political leaders a chance to agree on a consensus candidate.(AFP) Beirut, 11 Nov 07, 16:36

Egypt-Saudi Summit Focused on Lebanon

A summit between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia focused on Lebanon. Egyptian presidential spokesman Suleiman Awwad said the two leaders also discussed during two rounds of talks in Cairo on Saturday the Arab situation, including Iraq in a bid to thrash out a common Arab position ahead of a U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference. Awwad said contacts continue to exist with the various political sides in Lebanon, stressing that Cairo is at an equal distance from all political players. "President Mubarak has held separate talks with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and is expected to meet later with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh," Awwad said. Mubarak "is continuing his efforts aimed at unifying Arab ranks," he said.
The U.S.-sponsored peace conference is intended to end the seven-year interruption in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
But Arab leaders have warned the meeting will be a waste of time unless it addresses the core issues of the conflict.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was also due in Cairo on Sunday as part of a diplomatic drive to muster support for the conference.
Washington has yet to set a formal date for the conference, although it is widely expected to take place in November in Annapolis, Maryland.
"The hope is that the Annapolis meeting comes out with tangible results which will pave the way for the other tracks in the peace process," said Awad.
The results would "pave the way for bringing up the question of the occupied lands in the Syrian Golan and also pave the way for peace between Israel and Syria and Lebanon," he added.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 11 Nov 07, 09:54

Physicians And The Gates Of Hell
Ghassan Charbel Al-Hayat - 12/11/07//
Listening to the news is no source of comfort. Too many envoys provides no tranquility. The rushing doctors only highlight the serious condition of the patient. Happy countries do not attract the attention of journalists. Stable countries do not appear on TV screens. Prominence in the headlines is for loser states; divided nations; civil wars; suicide attacks; coup d'états; for the seasons of violence and blood.
Listening to the news doubles anxiety. An emissary from the United Nations; another from the League of Arab States; from the US, Russia, France, Italy, and Spain. More will arrive tomorrow, from the Comoros, Haiti, and Lesotho.
A sweet country; a tourism hub; attractive; suitable for chronic crisis training, sterile negotiations, and compromising, and twisting realities. An army of mediators and envoys for a simple mission, to convince a nation not to go ahead with its threat to commit suicide; to commit its deputies to head to parliament to elect a president as most people on earth would do.
An active nation, dynamic, multi-polar. A nation rich in men and ideas, tiring for the arriving messengers. The majority in the March 14th camp is not sufficient to elect a sovereign president. The parliamentary size of the March 8th camp is insufficient to elect a president for the resistance. An absolute majority is equivalent to declaring war. The stay of Saniora's cabinet is a pessimistic evil. The void is a golden recipe to wage civil war.
A country that is at the center of attention of the entire world. Sarkozy considers its crisis to be an opportunity for an extraordinary appearance. George Bush is determined to help the Cedar Revolt. Vladimir Putin swims in its waters, facilitating at times, and resisting at times. Ahmedinajad considers it the shortest path to eradicate the artificial entity. All of them are installing centrifugal plants on its territories. All of them practice enrichment. The inflammatory crisis is not purely Lebanese. It is Lebanese and Syrian; regional and international.
Too many doctors indicates a deterioration of the patient's condition. One can say that the patient is struggling with a last breath, and that his health has slipped off the hands of local players. Amidst the ideas imported in polite briefcases, questions jump to mind. Has Beirut learned anything from Baghdad? From Gaza? From Mogadishu? Has it learned anything from Baghdad?
Emile Lahoud's reign created stability in its first years on the basis of two parallel principles. The first was to embrace the choice of identifying the state with the resistance in South Lebanon; the second was to adopt the choice of identification with Syria in regional and international policies. The role of the Lebanese state was to nurture these policies, and to serve and deepen them. In return, the Lebanese earned their security and stability as long as they gave up some of the conditions of full sovereignty until the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is neither my analysis nor my interpretation. I clearly and personally heard it from the man who articulated Emil Lahoud's speech of oath among other things. The same man considered that the assassination of Rafik Hariri has lost Lebanon the only two pillars of its stability.
It is possible to claim that the current Lebanese division is deep, serious, and unprecedented. It bears on internal balances, the share in making domestic decisions, the right to control, and the right to exercise veto. It also bears on the conditions to create a state and the limits of its role under conditions different from those prevailing in the past. The Lebanese are also divided over a series of international resolutions, the resistance arms, the international tribunal, Lebanon's regional and international position, and the meaning of special relations with Syria. In light of all these divisions, where will a president come from and how will he be elected? What will the government say in its ministerial statement? What will the state do with the resistance or the state of the resistance state as its critics refer to it? Do they want a pseudo-state that co-exists with the state of the resistance? Or has such co-existence become difficult, and hence, it is either a clash or the void?
A calm look at the scope of the Lebanese-Lebanese feud, the Arab conflict, and the regional-international conflict shows how difficult it is to breed a president from within a sea of conflicts and confusions. The same look will convince you that a state of division similar to the void may be more attractive to quite a few local and external players. The void exempts them from having to provide quick responses to questions that extend from the issue of arms, the decision to make war or peace, Lebanon's position…all the way to the position on international resolutions and the tribunal.
The attractive nature of the void is increasingly obvious. The void leads to two cabinets or presidents. Beirut has not learned from its history or from the suffering of others. It may be difficult for emissaries to resist the attractiveness of the void. The Lebanese are such stubborn people. No force on earth can stop them from opening the gates of hell and falling into it