November 18/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 18,1-8. Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, 'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.' For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, 'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'"The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

Releases. Reports & Opinions
Lebanon's precarious and unpredictable politics.By Richard Wike. November 17/07
The stateless Kurds.The Week Daily- 17/11/07
Why There Will First Be A New War In Lebanon Before A War On Iran. By: Lord Stirling.November 17/07
Where is the Lebanese leader who will act for Lebanon's interests?. The Daily Star. November 17/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for November 17/07
Italian foreign minister sees "positive elements" in Lebanon.Monsters and
War of Lists Began Soon After Sfeir Submitted Candidate Names.Naharnet
Italian FM in Lebanon for presidency crisis talks: officials.AFP

Hints of Split in Aoun's Parliamentary Bloc.Naharnet
Rice will not visit region before summit.Ha'aretz
UN chief warns Lebanon faces "brink of abyss".Reuters
Reports of Plot to Kill Nasrallah 'Fabrication.Naharnet

Ban warns Lebanese to step back from 'an abyss.Daily Star
Sfeir hands over list of presidential candidates.AFP
French envoy submits list to Hariri and Berri
Siniora reviews 'successes' of outgoing Cabinet.Daily Star
British Conservative Party urges government to ban Lebanese journalist.AFP
Lebanon's precarious and unpredictable politics. Daily Star
Hariri: Breakthrough may happen 'at any moment.AFP
Gunfight breaks out in Burj al-Barajneh.Daily Star
Environmentalists cry foul over 'seeping' bags of oily sand on Beirut beach. Daily Star
LF protests LBC decision to call off interview with Geagea
IMF issues favorable report on Beirut's economic reforms. Daily Star
World Bank gives Lebanon a failing grade for logistics.Daily Star
IMF issues favorable report on Beirut's economic reforms.Daily Star
Iran demands apology for 'wrong' nuclear accusations.Daily Star
Algeria 'kills senior member of Al-Qaeda.

Italian foreign minister sees "positive elements" in Lebanon
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Nov 17, 2007, 16:57 GMT
Beirut - Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said Saturday he sensed some 'positive elements' to solve Lebanon's political deadlock. 'I felt that the various leaders we met are keen on finding an agreement on a consensus presidential candidate,' D'Alema told Italy's RAI television after meeting with Lebanese leaders. D'Alema, who arrived in Beirut at dawn, began a series of meetings with members of the Western-backed ruling coalition and the Syrian- backed opposition who have yet to reach a compromise ahead of a November 23 deadline to elect a new president. He held talks with Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Foaud Seniora, parliament speaker and opposition leader Nabih Berri, and also Maronite Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir. 'I think that among the names in the list presented by Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir there could be the next president of Lebanon,' D'Alema said. D'Alema's trip came as part of the international efforts to break the political deadlock which has been threatening the stability in the country.
During a visit to Beirut on Friday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned that Lebanon was passing a 'critical stage' and that its leaders should put their differences aside to elect a new president. So far, Berri has cancelled three special parliament sessions to elect a president because a consensus was not reached. There were fears that the last-chance vote on November 21 could be cancelled.
The crisis is the country's worst since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war and there are fears the conflict will lead to two rival governments. Despite the tension, political observers said cautious optimism had prevailed since Friday, when Sfeir drew up a list of candidates to the presidency, a post traditionally reserved for the Maronite community in Lebanon. The cardinal submitted the list to Berri and parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri. 'Berri has received the list and he is expected to discuss it with Saad Hariri so that they can agree on a consensus candidate either Saturday or Sunday,' a source close to Berri said Saturday.
The source stressed that Berri did not wish to disclose the number or names of candidates on the list. On Saturday, Beirut newspapers published lists varying from six to 12 potential candidates. The lists included three declared candidates - Nassib Lahoud and Boutros Harb, both backed by the ruling majority, and Michel Aoun from the opposition. Other candidates named by the media included Robert Ghanem, a lawyer and member of parliament, top banker Joseph Tarabay and former finance minister Damianos Kattar. The Western-backed government has been paralysed since the opposition, led by Hezbollah, withdrew its six ministers from the cabinet in November last year.

War of Lists Began Soon After Sfeir Submitted Candidate Names

Speculation over the names of Presidential candidates reached fever pitch soon after Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir submitted his list in hope of ending a crisis threatening to derail a gloomy election.
Andre Parant, France's Charge D'Affaires, told reporters after meeting with Sfeir on Friday that the prelate had authorized him to confirm that Speaker Nabih Berri and parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri had each been given a list of names to hash over.
"It is now up to Berri and Hariri to meet in order to try and reach consensus based on this list," Parant said.
Both Berri and Hariri remained secretive about the list. A Lebanese official, however, said that the list handed over by Sfeir included three declared candidates -- Nassib Lahoud and Boutros Harb, both of whom are backed by the ruling majority, and Gen. Michel Aoun from the opposition.
The official said three other names were added to the list -- Robert Ghanem, a lawyer and member of parliament, Joseph Tarabay, who heads the board of the Union of Arab Banks and the Association of Lebanese Banks and Damianos Qattar, who served as finance minister in the interim government of former Prime Minister Najib Mikati in 2005.  The daily As Safir, citing diplomatic European sources, said the list includes between six and seven names.
It said that while Aoun, Harb and Nassib Lahoud are confirmed candidates, three others have not been verified. They are, in addition to Ghanem, former cabinet minister Michel Edde and Michel Khoury.
As Safir said the name of the seventh nominee was still under circulation.
Al Akhbar newspaper, however, said Sfeir's list included 12 names divided into four categories:
Group 1- Political: it includes Aoun, Harb, Lahoud.
Group 2- Consensus candidates: it includes -- in addition to Ghanem, Khoury and Edde -- Faris Bouiz and Pierre Dakkash.
Group 3- Economical: it includes Tarabay, Qattar and Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh.
Group 4- Military: it includes army commander Gen. Michel Suleiman.
Lebanon's president must be a Maronite Christian according to the country's confessional power-sharing system and is elected by parliament rather than by popular suffrage.
Three special parliament sessions to elect a successor to Lahoud have already been postponed because of the deadlock and there are fears that a last-chance vote on November 21 could meet the same fate.
News after Sfeir submitted the list reflected optimism on Lebanon's presidential election and raised the possibility that a consensus president could be agreed upon before Wednesday's session to elect a new head of state, the daily An Nahar reported Saturday. In a conciliatory tone, the first contact was made by Druze leader Walid Jumblat when he phoned Berri to assure him that "national unity and dialogue are above all." Another surprising development appeared when MP Michel Murr gave a distinct stance in regards to the elections, announcing from Bkirki that he would support any president chosen from Sfeir's list even if Gen. Michel Aoun and Hizbullah did not agree with him on the name. Hariri, meanwhile, said he believed there could be a "breakthrough" at any moment and that he was confident the election would take place by the constitutional deadline. "It could happen at any time, we're good to go," Hariri told AFP. "We don't seek a presidential void and we want to elect a president." He added that French efforts to end the crisis had broad support with only Damascus and its local allies voicing opposition.
"The attacks on the French initiative are coming from one source -- Syria and its tools," he said.
Sfeir's list was awaited anxiously in Lebanese circles in hope it would prompt the ruling majority and the Hizbullah-led opposition to agree on a candidate by a November 23 deadline. The two sides have been at loggerheads over who should succeed the current pro-Syrian head of state Emile Lahoud, prompting fears that two parallel governments could be formed. Beirut, 17 Nov 07, 08:42

Reports of Plot to Kill Nasrallah 'Fabrication'

Security sources on Friday dismissed reports of a plot to assassinate Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
The daily As Safir had reported that security forces uncovered a plot to kill Nasrallah. It said the plot was uncovered during the course of ongoing investigations into a terror cell arrested in the summer in the Iqlim al-Kharroub region in the Chouf mountains southeast of Beirut.
As Safir said large quantities of cyanide, a fast-acting, potentially deadly chemical, were found during a raid on the Iqlim al-Kharroub house of a Libyan suspect.
It said the Libyan, who is in police custody, hid around 100 kilograms of cyanide in a rural area in Iqlim al-Kharroub, 30 kilograms of which had been shipped to Iraq. Authorities confiscated only 70 kilograms of the chemical. A security source told The Daily Star that it was highly unlikely that Sunni fundamentalist terror cells could have gotten access to Nasrallah at any time or known of his movements, which are highly secretive, in order to poison him. Poisoning would require intimate and close contact with the subject.  "The suspects, whether those arrested in Iqlim al-Kharroub or Fatah al-Islam terrorists from Nahr al-Bared, are all trained to lie and mislead investigators to the point of repeating the same sentences which they appear to have memorized verbatim," the source told the English language newspaper.
He dismissed as "fabrication" much of the information in the As-Safir report. As-Safir also said that grilling of terrorist suspects affiliated with al-Qaida, uncovered another plot against U.N. peacekeepers in South Lebanon.  It said the attack was intended to sour relations between UNIFIL and Hizbullah in areas South of the Litani river. As Safir said the suspects also admitted to firing Katyusha rockets toward northern Israel in the 2004-07 period.
The security source told The Daily Star that no link has been established between what the Lebanese judiciary refers to as "al-Qaida-style Sunni fundamentalist terrorists," and the real al-Qaida. "These are Sunni, fundamentalist groups that carried out attacks in the style of al-Qaida," the security source said, "but they are most likely sleeper cells left behind by the Syrians like time bombs."He said the terror cells are most likely affiliated to pro-Syrian organizations in the South, like Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC). The U.S. Embassy in Beirut had demanded that it be kept informed of the results of the investigations so it can determine how such a large quantity of cyanide reached Lebanon and how almost a third of the quantity was moved to Iraq, most likely to be used against U.S. troops there. Beirut, 17 Nov 07, 00:47

Hints of Split in Aoun's Parliamentary Bloc
Hints of a split in Gen. Michel Aoun's Change and Reform parliamentary block began to appear when MP Michel Murr took a distinct stance in regards to presidential elections. Murr on Friday announced from Bkirki that he would support any president chosen from a list drawn up by Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir even if Aoun and Hizbullah did not agree with him on the name. Murr said he and at least seven MPs from Aoun's Change and Reform Bloc would attend Wednesday's session to "elect a compromise president chosen by Berri, Hariri and the patriarch." Aoun's ally, Elie Skaff had a similar position. A statement issued by Skaff's Popular Bloc stressed that Bkirki's commitment to its fundamentals "promoted consensus" over the next president. It said efforts to find a compromise president have reached a "turning point … when Speaker Berri and MP Hariri paved the way for a constitutional election session which requires agreement in advance between the (government) loyalists and the opposition on a name and cannot go straight to parliament unless consensus was achieved." Aoun had threatened to block a two-third quorum to elect a new head of state for Lebanon if the president-to-be did not enjoy popular backing and urged deputies from his Change and Reform Bloc to boycott Wednesday's session set to elect a new head of state. "We will not support any president, not even if elected by a two-third quorum, if he does not enjoy popular support," Aoun had said. Beirut, 17 Nov 07, 12:25

Where is the Lebanese leader who will act for Lebanon's interests?
By The Daily Star
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Leaders of both sides in the power struggle that has gripped Lebanon for the past year or so have indicated that they will stop at nothing to get their way. Fair enough, although it would be nice to know a little more about what, precisely, it is that each side wants. In addition, all of the players have proven their ability to mobilize large numbers of people for demonstrations. Impressive, but a good football coach can do much the same. Anecdotal evidence also suggest that both camps are now preparing to use violence against one another should a negotiated solution fail to materialize. Disturbing, but an argument can be made to the effect that it is only prudent to prepare for the worst. What can safely be said of Lebanon's current political "leaders," therefore, is that they are accomplished posturers, rabble-rousers, and insurrectionists.
This is hardly the stuff of the statesmanship required to build a viable society. That requires flexibility, maturity and wisdom - ingredients of a willingness to compromise that has been the hallmark of all those who have created nation-states worthy of longevity. Even and perhaps especially when the leaders in question have had to establish new political orders, the successful ones have taken great pains to communicate their plans to followers and foes alike: The former need to know as much as possible about that for which they are being asked to sacrifice, and the latter need to know that they will not be persecuted under the new regime.
As near as can be discerned, this kind of leader is extinct in Lebanon. In fact, far from there being anyone on the scene capable of averting an increasingly likely train wreck, the country appears to lack so much as a single major political figure who is willing to try. Judging by their actions, most of them seem not to notice - or perhaps not to care - that their country is on the verge of self-impoverishment at best and self-immolation at worst. Instead, it is left to visiting foreign dignitaries like French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to sound the alarm.
Of course, it would be unfair to heap all of the blame on the Lebanese actors involved: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently made clear, in public, that the price for Washington's support of Lebanon's ruling coalition is that no compromise will be tolerated which does not further American policy in the region. She used terms like "international resolutions," but since her government has a long and continuing history of disregarding such formalities with merry abandon, everyone knew what she meant: "our way - or the highway."
One of Rice's subordinates, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs David Welch, is scheduled to arrive in Beirut today. He may not care that his government's policies are helping to drive Lebanon toward civil war, and that is understandable: It is not, after all not his country, so he might be willing to shed Lebanese blood to further American influence and diplomatic leverage. The same can be likely be said of his counterparts in Iran and Syria. There is nothing unique about this: Larger powers have always toyed with smaller ones. What makes Lebanon's case so hopeless is that it has no real leaders, only rival Quislings.

Hariri: Breakthrough may happen 'at any moment'
Despite continuing tensions, parliamentary majority leader insists 'we're good to go'

By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Saturday, November 17, 2007
BEIRUT: The leader of the pro-government bloc in the Lebanese Parliament, Saad Hariri, said on Friday that he was optimistic that a deal could be reached with the opposition on the choice of a new president. Hariri told AFP in an interview that he believed there could be a breakthrough "at any moment" in the deadlock that has seen three special sessions of Parliament convened to elect a successor to pro-Syrian incumbent Emile Lahoud all postponed.
"We're good to go," Hariri said. "I think there will be a consensus vote. Nothing is preventing the go."
Lebanon's former colonial power, France, has been spearheading international efforts to broker a solution to the crisis, the country's worst since the 1975-90 Civil War.
Earlier this week, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner convinced Nasrallah Sfeir, the spiritual leader of the Maronite community from which Lebanese presidents are drawn as per the country's confessional system, to draw up a list of compromise candidates whose names could be put to the two sides.
Hariri said Kouchner's plan had broad support with only Damascus and its local allies voicing opposition.
"The attacks on the French initiative are coming from one source - Syria and its tools," the majority leader said.
"Hopefully, when we get the list there will be a meeting between myself and Nabih Berri," he added referring to the pro-opposition speaker of Parliament. "I am quite optimistic that we will reach an agreement that will get the country out of the crisis."
Parliament is now set to convene on November 21, just two days before Lahoud's term of office expires.
The last-ditch timing of the session has raised fears that any new hitch could leave Lebanon without a president, and with two parallel governments like in the dark days of the Civil War.
Hariri said it was vital that Lahoud's successor support a planned international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 murder of his father, former Premier Rafik Hariri, a crime widely blamed on Syria.
"The most important is to elect the president for Lebanon who believes in sovereignty and freedom of the country and the tribunal and the rule of law," he said.
Lahoud and the opposition have blocked moves by the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to ratify the planned court since six pro-Syrian ministers quit the Cabinet in November last year.
The opposition insists that it is not opposed to the tribunal in principle but wants to be properly consulted on how it is set up.
But the pro-government camp accuses the opposition parties of blocking ratification of the court, which has already been endorsed by the UN Security Council.
A UN commission of inquiry has identified several senior Syrian officials as suspects in Hariri's murder. - AFP

World Bank gives Lebanon a failing grade for logistics
Daily Star staff
Saturday, November 17, 2007
BEIRUT: The World Bank's first Logistics Performance Index (LPI) ranked Lebanon in 98th place among 150 countries worldwide and 13th among 17 Arab countries, while it also ranked in 21st place among 24 upper-middle income countries. The LPI provides the first in-depth assessments of the logistics gaps among countries and reflects perceptions of the logistics environment of trading partner countries.
The index's results were reported in Lebanon This Week, the economic publication of the Byblos Bank Group. The LPI is based on a survey of operators on the ground worldwide who provided feedback on the logistics "friendliness" of the countries in which they operate and those with which they trade. The LPI is a composite of seven sub-indices of supply chain performance that cover customs procedures, logistics costs, infrastructure quality, the ability to track and trace shipments, timeliness in reaching destination, and the competence of the domestic logistics industry. The survey assigned scores to the main index and its sub-categories that range from one to five points, with one being the worst performance.
Globally, Lebanon tied with Russia, Zambia and Senegal, came ahead of the Ivory Coast, the Kyrgyz Republic and Ethiopia, and ranked behind the Dominican Republic and Papua New Guinea. It ranked ahead of Mauritius and behind Uruguay among upper-middle income countries. Lebanon received a score of 2.37 points, below the global average of 2.74 points, as well as lower than the upper-middle income countries average of 2.85 points and the Arab average of 2.66 points.
Lebanon tied with Mali, came ahead of Ethiopia and ranked behind Cambodia on the customs sub-index. Regionally, it ranked ahead of Egypt, tied with Syria and came behind Yemen. This category reflects the efficiency and effectiveness of customs and other border procedures. Further, Lebanon tied with Liberia and Haiti, ranked ahead of Guatemala and came behind Kenya on the infrastructure sub-index, while, it ranked ahead of Yemen and behind Mauritania in the region.
Lebanon ranked ahead of Nigeria, tied with eight countries that include Angola and Bosnia and Herzegovina and came behind Ukraine on the international shipments sub-index. Within the Middle East, it ranked ahead of Egypt and behind Oman.
Also, Lebanon ranked ahead of Nigeria, tied with Togo and came behind Nicaragua on the logistics competence sub-index, while it ranked ahead of Egypt and behind Tunisia within the region.
Lebanon ranked ahead of Senegal, tied with Nepal, Uganda and Gambia, and came behind Guyana on the tracking & tracing sub-index. Regionally, it ranked ahead of Yemen and behind Egypt. - The Daily Star

Lebanon's precarious and unpredictable politics
Even sectarian divisions don't follow straight lines anymore

By Richard Wike
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Report by Richard Wike
As the term of Lebanese President Emile Lahoud draws to a close, the country's precarious political balance is once again in jeopardy. Unable to agree on a successor, Lebanon's Parliament has delayed the selection of a new president three times this year. Now scheduled to take place next week, the selection process ultimately should produce a Maronite Christian president, in accordance with the country's confessional political system.
As a recent Pew Global Attitudes survey finds, large and important differences of opinion exist among the Christian, Sunni, and Shiite communities. However, on a number of issues, these divisions do not run along a Muslim-Christian fault line. Instead, the sharpest divides are between Shiites on the one hand and Christians and Sunnis on the other.
For decades, Lebanon has repeatedly fallen victim to power struggles involving larger nations. Today, many observers see this country of roughly 4 million people as one arena in the regional competition for influence between Iran and the United States. In recent years, Iran has funded and armed Hizbullah, which the US government has labeled a terrorist group. Meanwhile, the Lebanese Armed Forces have received military aid from the US, which has been an ally of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.
The Pew poll, conducted April-May 2007, shows the extent to which Lebanon's three major religious communities differ in their views of these two rival powers. Overwhelmingly, Christians see America in a positive light - 82 percent have a favorable opinion of the United States. Shiites, on the other hand, are decidedly negative - only 7 percent have a favorable view. Sunnis occupy a middle ground, with roughly half (52 percent) holding a positive view. This is a considerably higher level of support than the United States receives among Lebanon's largely Sunni neighbors - for instance, only 21 percent of Egyptians, 20 percent of Jordanians, 13 percent of Palestinians, and 9 percent of Turks hold a positive opinion of the US In fact, the US receives more favorable marks among Lebanese Sunnis than among some of America's closest European allies, including Britain (51 percent favorable), France (39 percent), and Germany (30 percent).
Opinions of Iran follow a markedly different pattern. Positive views of the Islamic Republic are rare in both the Christian (14 percent favorable) and Sunni communities (8 percent). However, Lebanese Shiites overwhelmingly have favorable attitudes toward Iran (86 percent), which of course is a largely Shiite country. The same pattern characterizes opinions of Iran's controversial president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: 75 percent of Shiite have confidence in Ahmadinejad to do the right thing in world affairs, compared with only 9 percent of Christians and 5 percent of Sunnis. And while 76 percent of Shiites approve of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, only 4 percent of Christians and 7 percent of Sunnis support the idea.
Shiite Lebanese also stand apart in their views of Iran's closest ally in the region, Syria, which occupied much of Lebanon for nearly three decades, before removing its troops in 2005 under tremendous pressure from abroad as well as from many in Lebanon's Christian and Sunni communities. Today, two-thirds of Christians and 52 percent of Sunnis name Syria as one of the top two countries posing a threat to Lebanon, compared with only 8 percent of Shiites. In fact, half (51 percent) of the Shiite community names Syria as one of Lebanon's top two allies.
Sharp divisions are also seen in attitudes toward other key international players, especially the European Union and the United Nations. Both organizations are rated favorably by Lebanese Christians and Sunnis. Both are quite unpopular, however, in the Shiite community.
Attitudes toward two major Lebanese political figures - Siniora and Hizbullah's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah - also vary dramatically along sectarian lines. For several months, these two leaders have been locked in a political standoff, with Hizbullah staging mass protests in Beirut, calling for the ouster of the Siniora-led, anti-Syrian government. Siniora, a Sunni, is held in high regard by Christians as well as Sunnis; in both communities, more than nine out of 10 people say the prime minister is having a positive impact on the country (95 percent of Christians, 91 percent of Sunnis). In contrast, only 20 percent of Shiite think he is having a good effect.
Meanwhile, views of Nasrallah mirror the pattern of opinion regarding his benefactor, Iran. When asked whether they have confidence in Nasrallah to do the right thing in world affairs, 82 percent of Shiites say they have a lot or at least some confidence in the Hizbullah leader, compared with only 5 percent of Christians and 10 percent of Sunnis. And views of Nasrallah's organization are very similar - 85 percent of Shiites have a favorable opinion of Hizbullah, compared with just 7 percent of Christians and 10 percent of Sunnis.
The 2007 Global Attitudes Pew survey revealed that support for terrorism has declined in much of the Muslim world over the last five years, and the decline among Lebanese Muslims has been particularly dramatic: In 2002, 74 percent of Lebanese believed that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians could often or sometimes be justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies; today, this number has dropped to 34 percent.
However, again sharp differences emerge between Sunnis and Shiite. In recent years, suicide bombing has often been associated with Sunni organizations, such as the Palestinian group Hamas or Al-Qaeda in Iraq, but one of the first groups to use the tactic in the Middle East was Hizbullah, which deployed suicide bombers against Israeli, American, and French targets in the 1980s. Currently, support for suicide bombings remains substantial among Lebanese Shiites, with a majority (54 percent) saying suicide attacks can either often or sometimes be justified. In contrast, support for this type of violence is much lower in the Sunni community - only 19 percent say these attacks can often or sometimes be justified and about six in ten say they can never be justified.
There is at least one issue on which the Sunni, Shiite, and Christian communities can agree however: antipathy toward Osama bin Laden. Only 1 percent of Sunnis, 2 percent of Shiites, and 2 percent of Christians say they have a lot or some confidence in the Al-Qaeda leader to do the right thing in international affairs.
**Richard Wike is a senior researcher for the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

Why There Will First Be A New War In Lebanon Before A War On Iran

by Lord Stirling Page 1 of 1 page(s)
November 16, 2007 at 06:09:50
Before any Israeli and/or American strike on Iran there will first be an attack on the well dug in Hezbollah Special Forces in Lebanon. This is because the Hezbollah rocket forces there are a strategic threat to Israel's existence and a strategic checkmate by Iran and Syria against Israel's nuclear arsenal. In fact the 2006 Lebanon War (known in Lebanon as the "July War" and in Israel as the "Second Lebanon War") was a failed attempt to neutralize the Hezbollah threat.
The Hezbollah Special Forces are in-effect a highly trained and well-equipped Iranian commando force of at least a Brigade in size. They man and protect a large number of mostly unguided and rather crude rockets, generally Katyusha 122mm artillery rockets with a 19 mile/30km range and capable of delivering approximately 66 pounds/30kg of warheads. Additionally, Hezbollah are known to possess a considerable number of more advanced and longer range missiles. During the 2006 war Hezbollah fired approximately 4,000 rockets (95% of which were Katyshas) all utilizing only "dumb" high explosive warheads. Some Iranian build and supplied Fajr-3 and Ra'ad 1 liquid-fueled missiles were also fired. At the time of the 2006 war Hezbollah was reported to have in the range of 13,000 rockets. There are creditable reports that this number has been rebuilt and expanded upon since the end of that war.

During the 2006 war the world watched as Israeli towns were hit time and time again by the Katyushas. What was not discussed by the main stream news media was the fact that the ordinance delivered by the Katyushas was mainly harassment fire with very limited effect. The Iranian/Syrian trained and supplied Hezhollah commandos were holding back their "heavy stuff" both in terms of their longer range guided missiles capable of hitting southern Israel and most importantly warheads of strategic military importance. That is NBC (nuclear [in this case radiological] chemical and biological) and advanced-conventional warheads. They were demonstrating their ability to deliver "ordinance on target" and their ability to survive a heavy Israeli ground and air combined arms attack.

Hezhollah has the capability of loading truly strategic warheads on the large number of mostly crude older technology unguided rockets that it has. The use of advanced-conventional fuel-air explosive (FAE) warheads on the Katyushas would have had a much more profound effect in Israeli cities. The use of FAE submunitions on the larger missiles capable of hitting any target in Israel would have given Hezhollah the firepower of low-yield nuclear weapons without crossing the nuclear threshold. Coupled with the large number of missiles in Syria and those in Iran, the Hezhollah rockets posed, and continue to pose, a truly grave strategic threat to Israel if FAE warheads are used. This threat is dramatically increased if radiological ("dirty bombs"), chemical, and/or biological warheads are used.

During the late 80s I had lunch with the CEO of a US aerospace company and one of Israel's top generals. I warned the general of the military threat posed by Saddam's Scuds and related missiles armed with FAEs and radiological warheads. He assured me that the air force could locate and take out all, or almost all, Scud launchers. I responded by saying, "Look around you. How many Scuds or cruise missiles could you hide in this restaurant, with pre-surveyed launch positions just outside and knock-down walls, you could erect and launch a number of Scuds without any aircraft locating the position in time to knock it out." In the First Gulf War, Saddam continued to demonstrate his ability to launch missiles and to deliver ordinance on target over the Middle East. He held back his "heavy stuff" and we did NOT go to Baghdad until the Second Gulf War (when allied intelligence knew that Saddam had denuded himself of his radiological, chemical, and biological weapons).

FAE warheads work somewhat like a automotive engine's carburetor. They mix fuel with a much larger amount of air to create an explosion, which in the case of the car drives the camshaft but in the case of a FAE creates a rather large footprint bomb. Instead of a bomb the size of your living room sofa (like a 1,000 bomb), the fuel air vapor cloud, created by the FAE aerosol, can create a bomb the size of a city block (or even much larger if multiple guided missiles with FAE submunitions are used). FAEs use an embedded detonator to trigger the fuel air "brew" which itself results in a high overpressure blast followed by a vacuum effect. In fact the Russians refer to FAEs as "vacuum bombs". An exposed person would likely be killed by the overpressure but in any case, should a person survive the overpressure blast the vacuum effect has been known to suck the lungs right out of people. FAEs can utilize a number of liquid explosive bases, including gasoline. A gasoline FAE uses a ratio of gasoline fuel vapor to air at a 1.3% to 6% gasoline to 98.7% to 94% air mix. The FAE can be spiked with assorted agents, such as powered aluminum, to increase blast effect. The Russians have developed variations of the FAE such as a slurry-explosive warhead (a mix of a combustible liquid with solid high explosives) and a reactive-surround warhead (nitrocellulose and combustible aluminum in a thin walled container).

The massive number of Hezbollah rockets could also be outfitted with chemical warheads. It is worth noting that the joint Syrian-Iranian chemical warfare R&D and production program is perhaps the largest and most complicated on earth. Generally the Israelis have shown themselves to be prepared for chemical warfare, however a chemical war attack following closely behind a FAE attack (to open up bunkers and apartment buildings) would greater effect. While it is not necessary to utilize a rocket to deliver a biological war attack, it could be done and there is some benefit militarily to a rapid dispersal of biowar agents under the cover of conventional attacks. Radiological weapons deliver the long term (which can be hundreds of thousands of years) lethal effects of radiation without the blast effect of a nuclear bomb.

The combined military strategic capability of NBC/Advanced Conventional warheads and very large numbers of rockets operated and protected by Hezbollah, coupled with the arsenal of Syria and Iran acts as a MAD (mutually assured destruction) between Israel and Iran/Syria. Yes the Israelis can nuke the hell out of both Iran and Syria, however, they possess a fatal return punch. Hence it is very likely that any attack on Iran and it's ally Syria would first require a very serious weakening of their offensive strategic firepower by taking out the Hezbollah arsenal.

In the 2006 war, this was attempted by Lt.-General Dan Halutz, the Israeli Air Force general who was the Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Force, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. They seriously miscalculated. The Syrians had bought a large number of very nasty, relatively low cost Russian AT-14 Kornet solid fuel anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) and the Iranian trained Hezbollah commandos dug in massive numbers of concrete bunkers and firing positions. After over 50 Merkava main battle tanks were hit, and the high tech American made warplanes and pinpoint weapons proved ineffective, the handwriting was on the wall. Either use neutron bombs or lose a large number of Israeli solders to remove the Hezbollah threat; or declare peace and walk away for the time being ~ the Israelis chose the latter.

Since the Israelis do not like being caught with their pants down, they have been spending a considerable amount of time seeking a non-nuclear military solution to the Hezbollah threat. I suspect that the solution will utilize massive numbers of FAEs. Then we shall see if the Iranian combat engineers have build the bunkers to withstand the vapors of massive numbers of FAEs (this means air tight bunkers that are very strong). The real danger point will come if either, a second non-nuclear Israeli attempt fails, or if it appears to be succeeding. If it fails, the temptation to use neutron bombs will be very high on the Israeli side. If it appears to be succeeding, the Hezbollah side (with their Iranian and Syrian backers) will be faced with the "use it or lose it" option for their strategic rocket force. Using the full force of the massive number of rockets with strategic weapons on the Israeli population would ensure a full nuclear response from the Israel Defense Force. Not using the strategic weapons would mean that a massive US/Israeli/allied attack on Iran (and perhaps Syria) would be highly likely, and the destruction of Iraq and its leadership has shown the high stakes involved.
I am reminded of an old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times". It appears that the year 2008 may be among the most interesting of times (especially in light of the Iranian global ability to use advanced biological war against its enemies).
Why There Will First Be A New War In Lebanon Before A War On Iran
**Earl of Stirling, Hereditary Governor and Lord Lieutenant of Canada. Author of CASH FOR PEERAGES: THE SMOKING GUN (Lulu Press at

Briefing: The stateless Kurds
The Week Daily- 16/11/07
Turkey’s threatened invasion of northern Iraq to hunt down Kurdish guerrillas could cause a disastrous chain reaction. What’s behind the mounting tensions?
Who are the Kurds?
A non-Arab, mainly Sunni Muslim people, Kurds occupy a mountainous region, known as Kurdistan, that straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. United by a strong sense of cultural identity, they are 25 million in number. That makes Kurds the world’s largest stateless people, and for decades, they have been dreaming of, and sometimes fighting for, their own nation. About 6 million now live in Iran and 4 million in Iraq. But the majority, 14 million, live in Turkey, where, ever since the Ottoman Empire collapsed in 1922 and the modern Turkish state was formed, they have often been persecuted.

How have they been suppressed?
Until 1991, the Kurds weren’t recognized as a separate people or even allowed to speak their own language in public. In fact, Turkish law still forbids public expressions of Kurdish identity. But under the current prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, things have improved. Kurds are now allowed to study their own language, though only in private classes, and welfare programs have helped alleviate the poverty of Kurdish areas. Erdogan’s reforms, in fact, encouraged many Kurds to vote for his party in the recent elections. That’s one reason the separatist Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) has resumed its terrorist attacks.

What kind of outfit is the PKK?
Founded in 1974 by a political science graduate named Abdullah Ocalan (whose name in Turkish means “he who takes revenge”), the PKK is a Marxist-Leninist party whose goal is an independent Kurdish state. It launched an armed struggle against the Turkish government in 1984 and, until the early 1990s, carried out numerous attacks on Turkish security forces and on civilians it accused of collaborating with them. In response, the Turkish military launched a vicious crackdown; at the peak of the conflict, thousands of Kurdish villages in the southeast were destroyed, and some 37,000 Kurds died. Ocalan was arrested in early 1999 and announced a cease-fire later that year. He remains in custody.

Has the cease-fire held?
It’s been sporadic. The PKK says it has abandoned its goal of a separate Kurdish state and instead seeks to promote the rights of Kurds living in Turkey. But it’s still regarded as a terrorist group by the U.S. and the European Union, and PKK guerrillas operating from northern Iraq have continued to mount attacks. In late October, 12 Turkish soldiers were killed in an ambush, pushing the army’s death toll up to 40 in a month. Turkish public opinion was inflamed, and the parliament, in an emphatic 507-to-19 vote, authorized military strikes into northern Iraq.

What about the Kurds of Iraq?
Their scars from the Saddam Hussein years have not yet healed. Long considered a separatist threat by the Saddam regime, in 1987 the Kurds were targeted by Saddam in a brutal campaign that even included use of chemical weapons. Tens of thousands perished (see box.) After the Gulf War in 1991, the U.N. created “safe havens” for the Kurds, policed as “no-fly zones” by the U.S. and Great Britain. Saddam’s regime withdrew its administration from the region in 1992, and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was formed by the two main Kurdish parties. So even before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iraqi Kurdistan had acquired many of the attributes of independence, with an elected parliament, municipal councils, and a free press.

What has happened to Iraqi Kurds since then?
They have taken on even more of the trappings of an independent nation. The Kurdish flag, not the Iraqi one, hangs over government buildings, and many Kurds openly advocate secession—even though Kurds are now represented at the highest levels of the Iraqi government. The crisis involving the PKK points up the complexity of the Kurds’ relationship with the central government. Baghdad has unequivocally condemned the PKK, but the Kurdistan Regional Government has been ambiguous. KRG President Masoud Barzani has called for dialogue to solve the PKK problem, but he vows to defend the region from any invasion. Turks believe, with some justification, that he is turning a blind eye to the PKK, and even actively assisting them.

Why isn’t he taking a stronger stand?
Partly because he knows that many Iraqi Kurds support the PKK. Even Kurds who condemn its methods are apt to be sympathetic to the cause of Kurdish independence, which, after all, is also their goal in northern Iraq. The prospect of an independent Kurdistan at its border terrifies Turkey, of course, since many Turkish Kurds would want their adjoining region to be part of such a country. Analysts say that at least some of the invasion talk in Turkey is fueled by fears of broader Kurdish national aspirations. But such an incursion could be a geopolitical disaster.

What might an invasion unleash?
For starters, it could wipe out one of the few success stories of the Iraq war—the relative peace and stability of northern Iraq. America’s two major allies in the region, Iraq and Turkey, would effectively be at war, while other neighboring powers, starting with Iran, could see an opening to make their own military moves. And an attack might not even succeed. The Turks have launched 24 incursions into Iraq since 1984, to little effect. The PKK has avoided serious losses, simply melting away into the hills.