November 19/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 21,5-19. While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, he said, All that you see here--the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down. Then they asked him, "Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?" He answered, "See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he,' and 'The time has come.' Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end." Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky. Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives

Releases. Reports & Opinions
A Patient On The Reanimation Bed.By: Elias Harfcouch. November 18/07
Iran And America: Intransigence And Escalation. By: Abdallah Iskandar. November 18/07
Iran, Syria & Lebanon wars. By Ahmed Al-Jarallah. November 18/07
All bets are off.Al-Ahram Weekly. November 18/07
Al Taqiyya: The Islamist Terrorist’s Weapon of Deception. By Frank Salvato  Canada Free Press. 18/11/07
Abourezk and the ADC: Apologists for Terror.By: Robert Spencer. November 17/07
How the UN Helps Terror.By: Arlene Kushner.November 17/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for November 18/07
Events in Lebanon since Hariri's killing.Guardian Unlimited
Jordanian king arrives in Syria on "important" trip ahead of Arab
Diplomats scramble to push Lebanon deal, clock ticks.Reuters
Concern grows as deadline looms.Al-Arabiya

As Presidential Vote Nears, Beirut's Residents Sense They Won't Be winners.New York Times
Italian minister pushes for Lebanon poll compromise; D'Alema meets ...Arab Times
Lebanon enters decisive week in presidential crisis.Khaleej Times
Palestinian factions clash in refugee camp in Lebanon.International Middle East Media Center

Syria sets condition for Mideast talks.United Press International
Three US Agencies Reviewing Decision to Export High-Tech Support
to Syria.
FOX News
World community makes "last minute" efforts for compromise over Lebanon's president vote.Xinhua
Lebanon rivals can agree, Italian minister says.Reuters
U.S. Licensing High-Tech Exports to Syria Under U.N. Development Program.By: Fox News

Events in Lebanon since Hariri's killingReuters Sunday November 18 2007
Nov 18 (Reuters) - Rival Lebanese leaders are seeking to agree on a new president with the incumbent's term ending this week; a lack of deal is expected to trigger an escalation in the country's political crisis.
Here is a chronology of some of the main events in Lebanon since former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri was killed, along with 22 other people, on Feb. 14, 2005.
Feb. 28 - Pro-Syrian Prime Minister Omar Karami resigns.
March 5 - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad tells his parliament Syrian troops will start phased pullout from Lebanon.
April 26 - Last Syrian soldiers leave Lebanon.
June 2 - Samir Kassir, journalist opposed to Syria's role in Lebanon, is killed in Beirut by a bomb in his car.
June 16 - U.N. investigation into Hariri's killing starts.
June 19 - Lebanese parliamentary elections end in victory for anti-Syrian alliance led by Hariri's son Saad al-Hariri.
June 21 - Former Communist Party leader and critic of Syria George Hawi is killed in Beirut by a bomb in his car.
Oct. 20 - U.N. investigators say high-ranking Syrian officials and their Lebanese allies were involved in Hariri's killing, in report to U.N. Security Council. Syria denies it.
Dec. 12 - Gebran Tueni, anti-Syrian member of parliament and Lebanese newspaper magnate, is killed by a car bomb near Beirut.
July 12, 2006 - Hezbollah captures two Israeli soldiers in cross-border raid, setting off 34-day war in which about 1,200 people in Lebanon are killed.
Nov. 11 - Five pro-Syrian Shi'ite Muslim ministers from Hezbollah and its ally, the Amal movement, resign after collapse of all-party talks on giving their camp more say in government.
Nov. 21 - Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel is killed by gunmen. U.N. Security Council approves plans for tribunal to try suspects in assassination of Hariri and subsequent attacks. Dec. 1 - Hezbollah, Amal and supporters of Christian leader Michel Aoun camp outside Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's office in central Beirut in open-ended campaign to topple government.
Jan. 25, 2007 - Aid conference in Paris pledges more than $7.6 billion to help Lebanon to recover from the war.
Feb. 13 - Three people are killed in two bomb blasts near a Christian village northeast of Beirut. Lebanon says in March four Syrians confessed to the bombings and were members of Fatah al-Islam, a small Palestinian group linked to Syrian intelligence. The group deny involvement.
June 13 - Anti-Syrian parliamentarian Walid Eido and five other people killed by a car bomb near a Beirut beach club.
Sept 2 - Lebanese troops seize complete control of Nahr al-Bared camp after months of fighting which kills over 300 people in the worst internal violence since the civil war. Sept 19 - Car bomb in Beirut kills seven people, including Anti-Syrian Christian lawmaker Antoine Ghanem.
Nov 10 - Parliament postpones a presidential election from Nov. 12 to Nov. 21 in a bid to break a deadlock over a consensus candidate and end the political crisis. France leads mediation efforts to reach agreement on a presidential candidate.
Nov 18 - Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, an opposition leader, and Saad al-Hariri, leader of the ruling coalition, set to intensify meetings to try to agree on a consensus candidate from a list of six hopefuls drawn up by Maronite Christian Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir.
(Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)

Jordanian king arrives in Syria on "important" trip ahead of Arab peace meeting
© AP
2007-11-18 15:28:09 -
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - Jordan's King Abdullah II arrived in Syria Sunday on a previously unannounced trip, his first to the Syrian capital in nearly four years, Syria's official news agency reported. Jordan's chief government spokesman Nasser Judeh confirmed Sunday that King Abdullah II would be traveling to Damascus to meet President Bashar Assad, describing the visit as «important.» He did not, however, detail the topics to be discussed.
The reason for the surprise visit was not immediately clear, but relations between the two neighbors have been bumpy for years, particularly in the last few months over a host of political issues. The visit comes few days before Arab foreign ministers are to meet in Cairo, Egypt, where they are expected to come up with a unified stand on a U.S.-sponsored peace conference scheduled for later this month. Syria has repeatedly said it would attend the conference to be held in Annapolis, Maryland, only if discussions included the return of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed.
Although U.S. officials have said the focus of the conference will be the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in recent days that he hoped Syria would take part. Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who visited Damascus this week, said Arab states would come up with a united stand on the conference at a meeting of Arab foreign ministers to be held in Cairo Nov. 22-23. The last time the Jordanian king visited Syria was in February 2004.

A Patient On The Reanimation Bed
Elias Harfcouch Al Hayat - 18/11/07//
The doctors' rush to Beirut these days does not presage that the patient is fine. There is a feeling of despair among his family and relatives, which is being alleviated by a certain gleam of hope that the zeal of the most prominent experts will undoubtedly pay off. A team from the patient's family thinks that these doctors are certainly confident of the success of the treatment that they are bringing along, or else they wouldn't have gone through all these hurdles and left their other patients in order to supervise the treatment of this exceptional patient.
The patient is, of course, in a coma, a recurrent situation in such critical times. He is being injected with a sort of internal anesthetic once in a while, and this is not yielding any medical result. It is only keeping the patient laid down on his bed awaiting a momentary success of the external treatment or a confirmation of his ability to survive despite these onerous circumstances.
As for the parents of the patient, they are torn apart over the treatment. Some of them would have preferred to immunize the patient's blood before exposing him to imported drugs. These fear that this flock of doctors from the outside would lead to a risky change in his blood, which would wipe out his distinguishing features and character, and become sensitive when mingling with his neighbors and relatives. The other members of his family believe that any treatment, whatever it may be, remains better than keeping the patient in this helpless situation that has grown to represent a threat for his survival.
This problematic situation is not impeding the doctors coming from all over the world to be optimistic. Their talks are brimming with hope for the future of the patient. They are all surely worried about him and they are all warning against resorting to the kinds of treatment that, according to past experiences, have proven to be almost deadly. But these doctors, according to their experience, are bringing this patient treatments previously tested outside and proven successful in similar cases, but are not sure about their success in his case. They are unable to diagnose the causes of this chronic disease and thus wager on local medicine or on the Arab herbs to aid them in their arduous mission.
There is a sort of historical impairment in this patient's case. There are deadly symptoms that recur from time to time. His situation remains stable as long as he remains at bay of the outer winds inside his walls and the windows are closed. However, his inevitable location in this stormy area has led to this fragile health that forecasts similar cases in different climates and regions.
He is a patient that garners the world's sympathy. His situation is envious and piteous at the same time. Envy stems from this rare worldwide attention drawn to his situation, despite the fact that the patient himself is unable to settle his treatment fees. In fact, his former and chronic ailments have plunged him in major debts that he cannot settle during his lifetime. Pity stems from his desperate situation that forewarns his demise despite his relatively short life. He is a patient, who had he been provided better living conditions and other scopes to breathe, could have been able to enjoy a long, happy life.
He is a patient who had a typical cesarean birth. Some wished that it didn't happen. Some considered him a bloody child. They showed that by bringing a "caring" foreign Mother to give birth to him. Some considered him from the onset as an entity forcefully separated from his original twin and that his separation triggered his health problems. These strived for resolving this situation through all types of surgical operations. But this twin has proved resistant to the fusion, which made his "brother" yearn even more to blend in, though forcibly.
Many banked on this patient's ageing as a way to protect him and boost his immunity system. But with the recurring health setbacks, the speculations and fears run rampant. All the drugs that were administered proved to be a temporary, rather than permanent, cure. The experts in the field currently concur that this setback may be the last one should the patient fail to override it. Not only medicine seems to be helpless in dealing with this case. But for the first time, there may be a feeling of despair among his parents and adherents that it is best to allow him to take care of himself if the efforts of all the doctors fail to save him

Concern grows as deadline looms
Harairi, Berri discuss Lebanon presidential list

BEIRUT (Agencies)
Lebanon’s presidential standoff entered a decisive week, with parliament speaker Nabih Berri, a leading member of the opposition, and majority leader Saad al-Hariri meeting late Saturday and foreign diplomats converging on Beirut to push for a way out to avoid chaos.
Berri hosted Hariri for their first meeting after the head of the Maronite church had given both a list of presidential candidates.
A statement from Hariri’s office described the meeting as “positive and constructive”, adding another meeting will follow before the coming parliamentary session set for Wednesday November 21.
Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema told reporters late Saturday that rival Lebanese leaders say they can agree on a new president but "everything could still go wrong". D'Alema said talks to reach a deal before Nov. 21 had hit a stumbling block because of Christian leader Michel Aoun's insistence he should fill the post.
Both sides uniting behind a candidate to replace President
Emile Lahoud, a close ally of Syria whose term ends on Nov. 23, is regarded as vital to defusing a political crisis in Lebanon.
"The negotiations are hitting a particularly difficult point because there is a player who says 'I am the candidate'. This is clearly a problem," D'Alema told Italian reporters during a visit to Beirut, referring to Aoun. "He thinks he is the candidate who can unite the country but, as an observer, it doesn't seem likely to me."
Cautious optimism
Observers and analysts fear the pro-Western ruling coalition and the Syrian-backed opposition may miss a final November 23 deadline to elect a new president, plunging the country into chaos. There is also concern that the dispute could lead to two rival governments, echoing the final years of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war when two competing administrations battled for control.
"We need a miracle because the political leaders are so far apart, it is hard to imagine that they would agree on something," Ousama Safa, head of the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, told AFP. "But even if they elect a new president, the paralysis will continue because there will still be the issue of the make-up of the new government," he said. The crisis has three times forced the postponement of a parliament session to elect successor to pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, and there are fears that the last-ditch vote on November 21 could meet the same fate.
"I have been told by Berri and Hariri that it is possible to find an agreement on one of the personalities on the list, even though I am not sure they are thinking of the same person," D'Alema said. "The ingredients of a deal are there but then everything could still go wrong." Lebanese political sources say the list includes Aoun -- the opposition's declared candidate -- and two figures supported by the governing coalition. But the consensus figure is expected to be one of three moderate candidates named by Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir. They are parliamentarian Robert Ghanem, former central bank governor Michel Khoury and former minister Michel Edde. "My impression is that the consensus solution can be found," Massimo D'Alema said. The candidate will be Lebanon's first new president since
Syria pulled its troops out of Lebanon in 2005.

World community makes "last minute" efforts for compromise over Lebanon's president vote 2007-11-18
BEIRUT, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema on Saturday held a series of meetings with both Lebanon's ruling coalition and the opposition in a "last minute" effort to reach a compromise ahead of a Nov. 23 deadline to elect the country's new president.
D'Alema, who arrived here on Friday night, conferred Saturday with Lebanese parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Fouad Seniora, Christian Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir and some other politicians.
Although it goes without saying that the major issue on the agenda of the meetings is the presidential election, local press here said that D'Alema is here to join the diplomatic efforts to chose consensus candidates for Lebanon's upcoming presidential election after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
UN chief Ban concluded his two-day visit to Lebanon on Friday. Before leaving Beirut, he described his meetings with Lebanese rival leaders as very "successful" and "constructive," urging them to elect a new president on time and without foreign interference.
He said that any new president should be committed to the implementation of the related UN resolutions, calling on the new president to be selected "with the broadest possible support."
"If the presidential election does not occurred, that may lead to dangerous and unexpected consequences," Ban warned.
Earlier this week, France also sent its Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to Beirut with the mission of breaking the deadlock threatening Lebanon's presidential election in parliament due to be held next Wednesday.
Kouchner reiterated Tuesday France's support for holding a presidential election in Lebanon within the constitutional period, saying this would end the current political crisis.
He also hoped to return to Lebanon next week -- for his sixth visit in as many months -- to ensure the vote goes through.
Lebanon's presidential election has been postponed for three times till Nov. 21 to give the majority coalition and the opposition more time to break a deadlock over a compromise candidate to succeed current President Emile Lahoud, whose term runs out on Nov. 24.
Lebanese ruling coalition and the opposition have been separated by a wide chasm since six of the latter's ministers resigned from Seniora's government last November.
The forecast presidential event has caused widespread concern among the Lebanese, fearing further disarrays and possible eruption of violence.

As Presidential Vote Nears, Beirut’s Residents Sense They Won’t Be the Winners
Bryan Denton for The New York Times
Published: November 17, 2007
BEIRUT, Lebanon, Nov. 16 — Mireille Adas took part in a march through downtown Beirut this week, demanding that Hezbollah end its yearlong occupation of the city’s commercial center. Her jewelry shop, steps away from the organization’s tent camp, has suffered major losses as a result of the power struggle between Hezbollah and the government, which has paralyzed the capital and brought Lebanese politics to a standstill for nearly a year.
Lebanon’s Presidential Front-Runners (November 16, 2007) Like most Lebanese, Ms. Adas has felt new heights of anxiety as the clock counted down to next Friday’s deadline for the country to choose a new president. Hezbollah and the pro-Western governing coalition have faced off in a game of brinkmanship over the selection of a president, the head of state, making no visible progress during two months of crisis negotiations that began when Parliament met to elect a president on Sept. 25 and promptly disbanded for lack of a quorum of two-thirds of its members.
Echoing many politicians and analysts here, Ms. Adas worries that the Friday deadline is likely to bring one of two outcomes, either of them bad: a deal that prolongs the current standoff, extending a long period of stagnation and malaise, or a catastrophic head-on clash between the governing coalition and the opposition led by Hezbollah, the Islamist Shiite faction.
On Thursday the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, visited Beirut and called for more talks among politicians across the divide. Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner of France shuttled among Lebanese leaders trying to strike a deal that would end this Mediterranean country’s deepest political crisis since its civil war ended in 1990.
Until a few weeks ago, an odd sense of routine prevailed. Only now has the political elite started to act with urgency.
The president, Émile Lahoud, must step down on Friday, and a Parliament session to elect a successor is scheduled for Wednesday. So far, there is little public optimism that a deal will be reached, though there have been intense negotiations, with many foreign officials visiting Beirut.
Negotiators could craft a constitutional dodge that would extend the term of Mr. Lahoud, who is an ally of Hezbollah, and of the pro-Western government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. But the government, which wields a slim majority in Parliament, has threatened to elect a new president with a simple majority — if it cannot cut a deal with Hezbollah.
Lebanese analysts predict that, if that happened, the opposition could take to the streets, name a rival government or take up arms against the government.
Ms. Adas, 25, said she wondered every morning if the day would bring a solution or push the city into chaos. “I want to know if I will go back home tonight or no,” she said, worrying that strife could cut neighborhoods apart as it did during 15 years of civil war.
She takes no comfort from the radio bulletins that she obsessively tunes in to every 15 minutes in her shop.
The crisis is defined as a power struggle between the Hezbollah-led opposition, supported by Iran and Syria, and the governing coalition, backed by the United States, France and Saudi Arabia.
The government has framed the presidential battle as a question of how much say Syria should continue to have in Lebanese politics; Syria ended its 29-year occupation of the country in 2005, but continues to exert widespread influence.
Meanwhile Hezbollah and its allies, including the Maronite Christian leader Michel Aoun, argue that the current impasse is really over whether Lebanon should stand up to Israel and crack down on corruption.
But the more intractable dispute is over the country’s political future. Can the existing, largely feudal, parties, dominated in most cases by a single family, continue to control political life? How much influence should foreign countries have over the government? Should Hezbollah be allowed to have its own militia, independent of the Lebanese Army, and should Lebanon actively fight Israel?
A United Nations Security Council resolution has called for the disarmament of all Lebanese militant groups. The United States and the Lebanese government say that any new president should be committed to United Nations resolutions.
But the Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech last week that the group would not give up its weapons despite international demands. Parliamentarians from Hezbollah and its allied parties said in interviews that they would agree to a presidential candidate only if he would not try to disarm Hezbollah — a key demand of the government, backed by United Nations resolutions.
“A president to execute international resolutions will not help Lebanon,” said Marwan Fares, a member of the opposition in Parliament.
How Lebanon resolves the presidential crisis will determine how it navigates its fragile status as the regional battleground in a proxy war between the West and Iran, said Sateh Noureddine, a columnist for a pro-opposition daily, As-Safir.
“The question is whether to let the country fall back under Syria’s hegemony or resist at any price,” Mr. Noureddine said. “It will create a big change in the region. It will define the relationship between the West and Iran and Syria.”
France has stepped up its efforts in recent weeks to find a compromise candidate acceptable to rival leaders. In addition to Mr. Kouchner, several other top European and Arab officials have visited Beirut.
If an agreement is not reached by Wednesday, opposition lawmakers say they will boycott the parliamentary session, preventing the two-thirds quorum needed to elect a president.
The governing coalition contends that it can elect a president with a simple majority. But many here believe that the selection of a president without a comprehensive deal could prompt the opposition to set up its own parallel government, dividing the country and possibly igniting factional violence.
If Parliament fails to elect a president by the constitutional deadline, power will automatically be handed over to Mr. Siniora’s government. But officials close to Mr. Siniora claim that he opposes an interim government.
The opposition already considers his government illegitimate since all the Shiite ministers resigned last November. Lebanon’s power-sharing system is divided among sects: the prime minister must be a Sunni, the Parliament speaker a Shiite and the president a Maronite Christian.
“So no compromise and a government that does not want to take over power leaves us with either vacuum and its dangers, or election with a simple majority,” said Elias Atallah, a member of the majority bloc in Parliament.

Lebanon enters decisive week in presidential crisis
18 November 2007
BEIRUT - Lebanon enters a decisive week Monday as the term of President Emile Lahoud is set to expire with political leaders still unable to agree on his successor despite intense international pressure.
As foreign dignitaries converge on Beirut ahead of a planned vote in parliament on Wednesday, many fear the pro-Western ruling coalition and the Syrian-backed opposition may miss a final November 23 deadline to elect a new president, plunging the country into chaos.
There is also concern that the dispute could lead to two rival governments, echoing the final years of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war when two competing administrations battled for control.
“We need a miracle because the political leaders are so far apart, it is hard to imagine that they would agree on something,” said Ousama Safa, head of the Lebanese Centre for Policy Studies.
“But even if they elect a new president, the paralysis will continue because there will still be the issue of the make-up of the new government,” he said.
The crisis has three times forced the postponement of a parliament session to elect successor to pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, and there are fears that the last-ditch vote on November 21 could meet the same fate.
The deadlock has prompted foreign dignitaries, including UN chief Ban Ki-moon and the foreign ministers of France and Italy, to visit Lebanon in recent weeks for talks with Lebanon’s feuding leaders.
Maronite cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, who heads Lebanon’s largest Christian community from which the president is chosen, injected fresh momentum into the search for a solution on Friday, when he drew up a list of candidates.
French charge d’affaires Andre Parant, whose country is leading international efforts to end the crisis, said Sfeir submitted the list on Friday to parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri and parliament speaker and opposition leader Nabih Berri.
The names on the list has not been revealed, but Beirut newspapers said they included politicians from both feuding camps, in addition to independent technocrats.
Safa said Lebanon will continue to suffer instability as regional tensions were expected to continue over the next year, “so a technocrat may be elected president because he would not scare or threaten anyone.”
“It will be a president for crisis management,” he said.
A two-thirds majority is required for a candidate to be elected by parliament in a first round of voting. In the event of a second round, an absolute majority suffices.
The parliamentary majority, with 68 MPs in the 127-seat house, has threatened to go ahead on its own with a presidential vote if no consensus candidate is found.
Lahoud himself has threatened to appoint an interim military government if no agreement is struck, raising fears of civil conflict in the multi-confessional country.
“If a new president is elected by a simple majority, (the opposition) may take to the streets, grab some ministries,” Safa said.
“But this is a very costly option for everybody. There will not be civil war because it is not in anyone’s interest, but there may be clashes and incidents here and there that would keep the country in instability,” he said.
Lebanon has been mired in political crisis, with pro- and anti-Syrian camps engaged in a power struggle since the 2005 assassination of Saad Hariri’s father, former billionaire prime minister Rafiq Hariri.
Hariri’s murder triggered international and domestic protests that forced Syria to end 29 years of military domination in Lebanon.
The Western-backed government has been paralysed since the opposition, which includes factions backed by Syria and Iran, withdrew its six ministers from the cabinet in November last year

Iran, Syria & Lebanon wars

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times
IT seems that Lebanon is destined to experience civil wars from time to time. Other nations’ penchant for meddling in the internal affairs of Lebanon has often led to a civil war as was evident in the latest armed conflict which began in 1975 and continued for 16 years. If we take a closer look at the political situation in Lebanon, we will realize that its population structure comprises of a huge variety of nationalities. Compared to other countries, Lebanon is unique in its ability to cater to an assortment of ethnic groups practicing their own sets of beliefs, cultures and traditions. Lebanon can be an example for other nations around the world if it succeeds in maintaining harmonious relations among the different ethnic groups but this may also result in internal strife as it opens avenues for outsiders to interfere in the internal affairs of the country.
At the end of the most recent civil war, when Lebanon signed the ‘Tayef’ Agreement, the Lebanese thought the senseless deaths of 120,000 people would somehow prevent the occurrence of another war. The latest turn of events in Lebanon, however, indicate otherwise. Some parties have apparently forgotten their promises not to restart the conflict as they have started preparations for another war reminding the Lebanese of the internal conflicts in the past. This is a reflection of the ongoing hostilities outside Lebanon. Again, we might face the same dilemma wondering how many years the civil war will last and how many innocent people will die?
Bombings and assassinations in the past two years in Lebanon, which started with the murder of the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, are manifestations of the weaknesses of the security system in Lebanon. These weaknesses have encouraged other nations, such as Syria and Iran, to interfere in the internal affairs of Lebanon. They have even gone as far as igniting conflicts among the Lebanese and preventing them from electing their next president.
What is strange in this case is not only how much the Iranian regime paid for the Lebanese security but the manner in which Iran purchased this security. Payments were made without taking into consideration the reaction of those who might witness the bribery. Procedures were carried out through vulgar means wherein money exchanged hands the way salaries are handed out to employees. Iran benefited well from this exchange as is evident from the photographs of Iranian leaders displayed in South Lebanon. If you visit the place, you will think you are actually in Iran. At this point, we should not forget the fact that Iran plays a crucial role in the decision-making in Lebanon due to the huge amount it paid to Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.
Syria also controls the decision-making process in Lebanon and has been doing so for the last 30 years. Unlike Iran, Syria did not pay a single fil for the Lebanese security but it took full advantage of the situation in Lebanon. The Syrian regime acquired access to the internal affairs of Lebanon through some unscrupulous Lebanese leaders who sold their country at a very minimal price. What is bizarre in this situation is that these leaders are still active in their political careers. Lebanese leaders, who act on instructions from influential people outside Lebanon, have put their country in grave danger. Lives of innocent people are at risk because these leaders chose to implement directives from the Persian regime in Iran and the ‘Alawi’ regime in Syria.**Email:

Iran And America: Intransigence And Escalation
Abdallah Iskandar Al-Hayat - 18/11/07//
When two opposing parties draw contradictory conclusions from a single technical text, and each party tries to use it to support its position, that means that matters have become open to intransigence and escalation. This is what has happened with respect to the reading of America and the West with it, and of Iran, of the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding progress in the Iranian nuclear program. With the cancellation of the meeting of the six big powers, which was supposed to study the conclusions of the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Muhammad al-Baradei, the other report, which is supposed to be issued at the end of the month by the higher coordinator of European foreign policy, Javier Solana. who is entrusted with negotiating with Iran in the name of these powers, becomes decisive with regard to heading toward new sanctions in the Security Council, especially since Baradei's report was not definitive one way or the other.
El Baradei said that Iran had achieved "tangible progress" in its cooperation with the agency. However, on the other hand, he said that this agency's knowledge of the Iranian nuclear program is diminishing as time goes by, asking for more time in order to ascertain "the (Iranian) unannounced nuclear activities," despite his having said that the agency cannot confirm "the exclusively peaceful nature" of the Iranian activities, and despite his confirmation, for the first time, of the putting into operation of centrifuges that can produce nuclear fuel that will be suitable for military use within a year, according to experts.
The United States has refused to deal with the praise, in Baradei's report, of the continuation of Iranian cooperation with the IAEA. It said that it was necessary to head immediately toward a series of serious sanctions, by means of a third international resolution, before the issuance of Solana's report. In a clear indication of the possibilities of escalation, it criticized the Chinese position as obstructing movement in the United Nations, such as accusing Beijing of cutting the roads to a diplomatic settlement , that is, non-political roads are being prepared at the same time, including of course the military option.
It appears that the three European counties that are concerned with negotiations over the Iranian issue (France, Britain, and Germany) wish to postpone immediate international sanctions, while waiting for Solana's report, even though they have alluded in the past to the possibility of unilateral steps. This position stems from the wish to exhaust all means to convince Russia and China of the new sanctions, which could be the last step before military action in light of the term of office of President George Bush.
On the other hand, Tehran only took the paragraph on "tangible progress" in cooperation from Bardei's report. Ignoring the important parts relating to the grey areas and uncertainty with regard to the IAEA, about Iranian nuclear activities. Let President Ahmadinejad infer from that that Iran was right "in holding out against the West," and let the new person in charge of the Iranian case conclude that he should withdraw this case from the United Nations, that is, announce the desire to continue the current situation: providing the IAEA with old information and continuing with ambiguous activities, far from the oversight of the IAEA. In the desire of the United Sates to escalate international sanctions, if possible, and unilateral sanctions if necessary, and in the Iranian desire to keep the situation as it is, lies the danger of the entire issue sliding into non-diplomatic methods and a military solution.
Such a state will not be affected much by the American position in support of Israel and the West in general, nor by the Iranian position toward the responsibility that lies with Baradei. The report of the IAEA is a summary of the work of experts from different nationalities, and it reflects what they saw and concluded with supposed neutrality. Responsibility for the Iranian activities goes to the decision-maker in Tehran, and to the Western dealing with his decision.
What the report included in terms of dubiousness and ambiguity, and what it entails in terms of opposing interpretations, is the result of the Iranian policy in its dealings with the IAEA, which does not have the right to impose what it wants on Iran. The United States is attempting in its complicated political battle, across the region, with Iran, to acquire that right to arrive at the use of force. For its part, Iran is showing, by a policy of concealment, ambiguity, and lack of openness to any serious proposals to deal with its right to obtain peaceful energy, a desire for defiance and intransigence that does not help anybody, including its international allies (Chinas and Russia) to prevent the slide to the use of force

All bets are off
By: Lucy Fielder
© Al-Ahram Weekly.
Beirut was a hive of diplomatic initiatives this week, but where is the new queen bee, asks Lucy Fielder
Lebanon's flashpoint presidential vote was delayed for the third time this week, with the new date, 21 November, perilously close to the end of incumbent Emile Lahoud's term. As diplomatic and local initiatives continued to try to stave off crisis, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah upped the ante with a characteristically frank speech. He called on Lahoud to fulfil his duties if no agreement is reached and to prevent the country falling into the hands of "thieves and murderers", prompting the expected volley of invective from his opponents in the ruling anti- Syrian bloc.
Lebanon has been locked in a dispute between the Syrian- and Iranian-backed Hizbullah and its allies and the Western-backed government for a year, though the origins of the crisis go back to the extension of Lahoud's term under Syrian pressure in 2004. If no president is elected by the time Lahoud's term ends on 24 November, or one side nominates a head of state unilaterally, rival governments or military rule are among several unappealing options for the fragile country. Fears of sectarian tension or a slide back towards civil war are widespread.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner arrived in Beirut this week -- his fifth visit in six months. The so-called "French initiative" has raised hopes over the past fortnight, but all bets remain off as to how much it can achieve. Kouchner met Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir and Prime Minister Fouad Al-Siniora and declared himself "very slightly optimistic". Also expected to press the Lebanese flesh this week are Italian foreign minister and Arab League head Amr Moussa, veteran of various failed initiatives to resolve the stubborn political crisis.
Kouchner is viewed as having a hope of success because the French appear to have won the backing of US President George W Bush and the Syrians during a flurry of diplomatic visits to both capitals. However, the foreign minister had promised to return next week at the time of writing, suggesting he was to leave empty-handed this time round.
Another meeting between parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri, who represents the opposition, and 14 March leader Saad AL-Hariri was also widely welcomed as portending a deal. The crux of both initiatives seems to be persuading Patriarch Sfeir, traditionally the king-maker of the Christian community, to come up with a list of names he considers qualify as that elusive figure, the compromise candidate. Al-Hariri and Berri would then narrow it down before a parliamentary vote.
The problem is, Sfeir refuses to bite. "He has an acute understanding that what's going on has huge implications for the Christian community. He's not going to name someone and then live with recriminations for the rest of his life," says Karim Makdisi, a political analyst at the American University of Beirut. The president is traditionally drawn from the Maronite community, and the post was weakened after the civil war to give more power to the Sunni post of prime minister and the Shia parliament speaker.
Furthermore, the Maronites are split between hardline Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and former General Michel Aoun, who is allied to Hizbullah. Hence patriarchal statements focus on the unity of the sect and the need for the president to be elected according to the constitution. The anti-Syrian bloc led by Saad Al-Hariri, which commands 68 out of 127 MPs, has threatened to choose a president by a simple majority, rather than the two-thirds quorum stipulated by the constitution for the first round (thereafter a simple majority suffices). The opposition would answer that escalation with one of its own, with the likely outcome being rival governments.
Sfeir's concern about a simple majority, Makdisi said, is that it weakens the presidency itself and sets a precedent whereby a head of state could in theory be elected in future without even Christian consent. As France, Lebanon's former colonial overlord, has centuries-old links with the Maronite community, it is likely that Sfeir's concerns have a sympathetic ear in Paris.
Sami Baroudi of the Lebanese American University, said the French and Europe in general see a solution as a security issue, with explosions in the Middle East widely seen as having potential repercussions at home. Diversity is another aspect. "For Europe, it's also about the survival of the Christians in the Middle East. They want to maintain a mosaic in the region," he said. Baroudi said one of the main merits of the various initiatives was simply keeping all sides talking, thereby preventing the rhetoric from ratcheting up or actors on the extremes of either side stirring trouble.
But Nasrallah's speech, and the reaction to it, served as a reminder that the issues that have polarised the Lebanese refuse to go away. Hizbullah will not accept a president committed to disarming it; Washington, which backs 14 March, has made clear it wants a president committed to Security Council Resolution 1559, calling for disarming militias in Lebanon. The struggle to confiscate the arms of Hizbullah, which surfaced during Israel's US-backed bombardment of southern Lebanon last year, continues.
"We want a president unlike the one wanted by the Americans. What do the Americans want? The Americans want nothing from the president but for him to implement Resolution 1559," Nasrallah said in a speech marking the movement's Martyrs Day. Nasrallah called upon Lahoud, an ally of Syria, to undertake his national and constitutional responsibilities and make a "salvation move" if there was no solution found.
In response to Nasrallah's statement about "thieves and murderers", Sports and Youth Minister Ahmed Fatfat accused Hizbullah of protecting those who carried out a series of assassinations of 14 March figures, for which, read Syria. "With his speech, Nasrallah has protected those who have assassinated our 14 March allies," Fatfat said. "He has not only protected them though his alliances but also through his security zones.""What Nasrallah did is a stab in the back for Berri," he added. "It was an attempt to thwart all efforts to reach consensus." But Baroudi pointed out that there was no unified statement issued after a 14 March meeting following the talk, suggesting the movement had opted to react, rather than escalate.
Nasrallah's speech was a sign that he placed little store in the various diplomatic efforts, Makdisi said. "If it were true that the atmosphere was good, then there would be no need for such talk in the midst of all this mediation. It could have been aimed at Berri: 'enough mediation, I'm going to talk directly.'" Nasrallah may also have been delivering a reminder that avoiding the central issues would be pointless from his point of view.
Hizbullah, Makdisi said, has two constants. The first is that Israel is preparing to attack either Lebanon, Syria or both, either combined with a US attack on Iran or alone. This calculation was evidenced by an unarmed, but large-scale Hizbullah manoeuvre conducted two weeks ago, which Nasrallah confirmed in his speech.
The second constant behind Hizbullah's manoeuvring, argues Makdisi, is that "all this internal bickering is a distraction aimed at weakening their base and delegitimising them." Hizbullah sees Lebanon as a potential entry point for a neo- conservative US plan to mould a greater Middle East and views the tug-of-war for the presidency in those terms.
Washington, meanwhile, has made clear it wants a president who agrees with its policies in the Middle East, and earlier this month Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned against a compromise figure who was not committed to UN resolutions.
Despite the incompatibility of the essential positions of the two camps, Makdisi said he was hopeful realpolitik would dictate an eleventh- hour presidential election. "I think the key players understand they have a lot to lose from chaos," he said. © Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved

Al Taqiyya: The Islamist Terrorist's Weapon of Deception
Terrorism Frank Salvato, Managing Editor
November 16, 2007
Western civilization’s delinquent knowledge of the Islamic faith leaves us naïve to many of its tenets. Many among us would be hard pressed to explain the differences between the Sunni and the Shi’ite, let alone the reasons why they have remained in conflict for almost the entire existence of the Islamic faith. This delinquency in understanding Islamic culture and doctrine makes those they consider non-believers – or kafirs – vulnerable both individually and collectively. This is especially true when we examine the Islamic concept of taqiyya.
Taqiyya is defined literally as:
“Concealing or disguising one's beliefs, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions, and/or strategies at a time of eminent danger, whether now or later in time, to save oneself from physical and/or mental injury."
In essence, taqiyya can be generally defined as the legitimization of deception in times of danger.
Taqiyya is alluded to in the following Quranic verse:
"Let not the believers take for friends or helpers unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, (they) shall have no relation left with Allah except by way of precaution ("tat-taqooh"), that ye may guard yourselves ("tooqatan") from them...” [3:28]"
In his book, al-Durr al-Manthoor Fi al-Tafsir al-Ma’athor, Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti conveys these words by one of Sunni Islam’s most respected voices, Ibn Abbas:
"al-Taqiyya is with the tongue only; he who has been coerced into saying that which angers Allah (SWT), and his heart is comfortable (i.e., his true faith has not been shaken), then (saying that which he has been coerced to say) will not harm him (at all); (because) al-Taqiyya is with the tongue only, (not the heart)."
In most every reference to taqiyya in Islam it is held that there are only a very few times when it is permissible:
▪ To save one’s life
▪ To effect a peace or reconciliation
▪ To persuade a woman
▪ On the occasion of a journey or expedition
▪ To save the life and honor of the innocent person from the highhandedness of tyrants and oppressors
In his book, Ihya ‘Uloom al-Din, the influential Egyptian Islamic scholar Abu Hamed Mohammad ibn Mohammad al-Ghazzali stated:
“Safeguarding of a Muslim's life is a mandatory obligation that should be observed; and that lying [taqiyya] is permissible when the shedding of a Muslim's blood is at stake.”
Those of the Wahhabi ideology acknowledge the fatwa:
“Be dissociated from the infidels, hate them for their religion, leave them, never rely on them for support, do not admire them, and always oppose them in every way according to Islamic law.”
Because Wahhabism is one of the predominant forms of Islam being disseminated in the mosques of the United States it must be surmised that Wahhabis are living among the “infidels.” In order to achieve their existence without open confrontation they must, therefore, employ taqiyya.
So, it can be stated with a great deal of confidence that when a Muslim feels that his life, limb or property are in danger, in order to avoid or quell violent confrontation or to rescue himself or a fellow Muslim from the “oppression of tyranny” and death he can and should utilize taqiyya.
So why is this relevant?
As we continue to engage radical Islam in the war against Islamofascist aggression we need to be cognizant of our foe’s use of taqiyya.
There has been a great deal of debate over interrogation techniques used by the United States and our coalition nation allies. While there are legitimate arguments on both sides of this debate each side has to be fully aware that those enemies who are caught on the field of battle – unconventional that it is – will most certainly employ taqiyya.
In addition, those who are faithful to the religious tenets of Islam must, as a religious duty, utilize taqiyya when interacting with government and law enforcement where giving damaging information on another Muslim is concerned.
Should the situation arise where a practicing Muslim, loyal to the faith, were to be questioned about a suspected terrorist operation or criminal activity being planed or perpetrated by a fellow Muslim – whether here in the United States or anywhere in the world – that Muslim must employ taqiyya. This makes the gathering of credible information from within the Islamic community, regarding the criminal Islamic community, virtually impossible.
Further, the recognized religious duty of faithful Muslims to practice taqiyya makes the actions, statements and testimony of those who operate organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the now defunct Holy Land Foundation and individual Islamic leaders such as Sami al-Arian (now deported for his relationship with Palestinian Islamic Jihad) both understandable and suspect. Understandable in there unwavering defense of almost every questionable act committed by a Muslim regardless of its legality and suspect because of the fact that they would be violating taqiyya should they validate the “infidel” over another Muslim.
This also brings into relevance our government’s predisposition toward skepticism when entering into diplomatic negotiations with leaders of predominantly Muslim countries and the assurances they provide.
A perfect case in point is the current nuclear proliferation issue with the Islamic Republic of Iran and its leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Ahmadinejad, a most devote Shi’ite, who has indicated without reservation his blind faith to Islam, would be held to the Quranic tenet of taqiyya. This tenet, understood for its true meaning, it would make it impossible for any clear thinking human being to take Ahmadinejad’s words of peace at face value, especially in light of his violent declarations toward Israel, the United States, Western civilization and the non-Muslim world.
If the West – and especially the United States – is to survive this very real conflict with Islamofascist aggression, we must educate ourselves on the intricacies of our enemy’s beliefs and tactics. To not do so would be the epitome of neglect and a ostentatious display of stupidity.
**Frank Salvato is the Executive Director and Director of Terrorism Research for Basics Project a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, Basics Project, partnered in producing the first ever national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel and is the host of the NMJ Radio show broadcast global on NetTalkWorld global talk radio and broadcast live on BlogTalk Radio. He is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, syndicated on over 25 stations nationally and on The Captain's America Radio Show catering to the US Armed Forces around the world, as well as an occasional guests on radio programs across the country. His opinion-editorials are syndicated nationally and he is occasionally quoted in The Federalist.

U.S. Licensing High-Tech Exports to Syria Under U.N. Development Program
Friday, November 16, 2007
By George Russell
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After years of harsh talk and escalating rounds of sanctions against Syria for supporting terror and seeking weapons of mass destruction, the United States is quietly supporting a United Nations program to supply the Syrian regime with sophisticated surveillance equipment and computers to monitor its borders.
That surreptitious support emerged in the course of a FOX News investigation that began after a surprise Israeli air strike on September 6 destroyed a mysterious Syrian facility that many experts believe was a North Korean-style nuclear reactor.
The gap between the Bush Administration’s anti-Syrian rhetoric and reality emerges in the book-keeping of the $5.2 billion United Nations Development Program, the U.N.’s flagship development agency, which has come under heavy fire for its improper funneling of cash to the regime of North Korean dictator and nuclear proliferator Kim Jong Il.
This time the issue is UNDP’s ties — and those of the U.S. and the European Union — to the Baathist regime of Syrian President Bashir Assad, which has been sanctioned by the U.S. for its sponsorship of international terrorism, destabilization of Lebanon and its shipping of terrorists and weapons to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
Syria’s own ties to North Korea and its clandestine attempts to gain weapons of mass destruction were dramatically underlined on Sept. 6, when Israeli Air Force F-15s blasted the secret nuclear facility.
According to Bush Administration statements, Syria is a pariah state. It has been under escalating forms of U.S. economic, financial and trade sanctions since 2003, culminating in a broad ban on the export of U.S. goods to the Assad regime in May 2004, as a result of its alleged terrorist activities. Export controls on goods intended for Syria are in the same category as those on exports to Iran, North Korea and Sudan, likewise designated for their support for international terrorism.
They are backed up by other presidential executive orders that slapped U.S. financial sanctions on a variety of Syrian government officials, banks, and companies for being involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, association with al Qaeda, and destabilizing activities in Iraq and Lebanon. The most recent order was signed in August.
All of which makes especially mysterious UNDP’s purchase and supply to Syria of more than $2.1 million worth of computers, servers, local and wide area networking equipment, networked surveillance cameras and other high-tech goods, under the bland heading of “Modernization of Syrian Customs Directorate.”
Included among the goods are network routers and other equipment manufactured by Cisco, a longtime UNDP partner, which are U.S. manufactured equipment that would be covered under any export ban.
The money for the goods comes from the Syrian government itself, part of an $8.1 million construction and equipment deal that has been going on quietly since Feb. 1, 2005. UNDP is spending some $480,000 of its own on the deal, and it expects to refund nearly $1.6 million in unspent funds to the Syrian government.
The deal also involves the purchase of some $2 million worth of specialized software from another U.N. branch, the Geneva-based United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
According to UNDP, the customs modernization deal is entirely on the up-and-up. A UNDP spokesman told FOX News in response to e-mailed questions that it “will benefit the business environment and the private sector through transparency, trade facilitation, simplification and consistency of procedures, efficient clearance of goods, remote filing and national entry processing.”
The customs upgrade has been mentioned in UNDP official documents that have been approved by a 36-nation executive board, which includes the United States.
(The mention consists of a half-dozen words at the end of a single sentence in a dense 12-page document. As the UNDP spokesman noted, by way of explanation in response to FOX News questions, “UNDP’s Executive Board approves country programs, not specific projects.” Purchase of goods for the project was specifically approved, per UNDP procedures, by Akiko Yuge, head of UNDP’s Bureau of Management, and by the organization’s No. 2 official, Associate Administrator Ad Melkert.)
Most importantly, UNDP’s high-tech undertaking is covered by a U.S. export license from the Department of Commerce, Industry and Security for the sensitive Cisco goods, meaning that the U.N. organization can export them without penalty under U.S. law. The license, which is granted to Cisco, is numbered D357459. It was issued on Sept. 6, 2006 — exactly one year before the strike on the mysterious Syrian nuclear facility.
What’s going on?
It appears that UNDP, the U.S., and yet another partner in Syria’s “customs modernization,” the European Union, have been engaged in a game of incentive diplomacy with the Assad regime, quietly laying the building blocks for a broader trade-for-peace framework with Syria and its neighbors while talking tough and brandishing trade and financial cudgels that are less than meet the eye.
The 2004 U.S. trade sanctions were renewed with fanfare in May 2005. They were renewed with additional sanctions targeting specific officials of the Syrian regime in May 2006; those sanctions were renewed yet again on May 8, 2007.
But the September 2006 U.S. export control license is a strong sign that the original 2004 export controls, which allow a presidential waiver for exports “in support of activities of the U.S. government,” among other things, have been allowed to develop a loophole big enough for a high-tech overhaul of Syria’s borders — and perhaps other holes as well.
If so, they are holes that the Bush Administration is not anxious to discuss. Repeated requests by FOX News to the Department of Commerce, Industry and Security to glean information on the high-tech exports and their legality were met with silence. And even though UNDP has freely answered questions posed by FOX News about the nature of the customs project and its history, sources within the organization report that UNDP staff have been grilled as to how FOX came to learn sensitive details of the project in the first place.
It may be that the biggest reason for the silence in Washington is the bombing of Syria’s suspected nuclear facility — an action that Israel has not admitted or discussed. The existence of the facility — which had been under construction for an estimated two or three years — apparently involved clandestine cooperation with North Korea, a view widely accepted in diplomatic and national security circles.
The now-destroyed secret facility casts a large shadow of skepticism over any notion that a program of trade improvement, trade preferences and technology transfers is enough to induce the Assad regime to give up terrorist meddling and cease any quest for weapons of mass destruction.
Moreover, it underlines the extent to which the negotiators of the trade-for-peace strategy may have been lulled into believing that their approach would contain the proliferation appetite of the Syrian regime.
Indeed, the design and construction of the secret Syrian facility was evidently taking place during all the time that the customs modernization project was itself being negotiated and built. The facility was evidently well underway by the time the Bush Administration issued its export certificate for UNDP to ship embargoed components of the system to Syria.
Even though UNDP and the Bush Administration had significant roles in the customs project, the biggest player is clearly the European Union. Ever since 2004 — the same year the Bush Administration announced its trade embargo against Syria — the E.U. has been dangling a strategy of enhanced trade relations with countries on the southern edge of the Mediterranean as part of a “European Neighborhood” policy aimed at expanding the E.U.’s economic sphere of influence.
The big stumbling block was Syria. Due to Syrian human rights violations, intrusiveness in Lebanon and support for terrorist activity in Iraq and elsewhere, E.U. officials have been unable to complete bilateral agreements with Syria that would seal their overall partnership.
Instead, they have apparently proceeded piecemeal. UNDP officials told FOX News that their own customs project was designed to be “complementary” to an even costlier — roughly $11 million — European Union customs modernization package for Syria. According to UNDP, “the E.U.’s work is on internal work process of customs” — essentially software — which would have kept E.U. fingerprints off politically sensitive technology transfers.
Questions sent by e-mail to the European Union’s customs project supervisors in Syria went unanswered.
UNDP expects it will have finished its part of the customs modernization in three to four months’ time.
**George Russell is executive editor of FOX News.

Shattering Conventional Wisdom About Saddam's WMD's
By John Loftus | Friday, November 16, 2007
Finally, there are some definitive answers to the mystery of the missing WMD. Civilian volunteers, mostly retired intelligence officers belonging to the non-partisan, have been poring over the secret archives captured from Saddam Hussein. The inescapable conclusion is this: Saddam really did have WMD after all, but not in the way the Bush administration believed. A 9,000 word research paper with citations to each captured document has been posted online at, along with translations of the captured Iraqi documents, courtesy of Mr. Ryan Mauro and his friends.
This Iraqi document research has been supplemented with satellite photographs and dozens of interviews, among them David Gaubatz who risked radiation exposure to locate Saddam’s underwater WMD warehouses , and John Shaw, whose brilliant detective work solved the puzzle of where the WMD went. Both have contributed substantially to solving one of the most difficult mysteries of our decade.
The absolutists on either side of the WMD debate will be more than a bit chagrinned at these disclosures. The documents show a much more complex history than previously suspected. The "Bush lied, people died" chorus has insisted that Saddam had no WMD whatsoever after 1991 - and thus that WMD was no good reason for the war. The Neocon diehards insist that, as in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the treasure-trove is still out there somewhere, buried under the sand dunes of Iraq. Each side is more than a little bit wrong about Saddam's WMD, and each side is only a little bit right about what happened to it.
The gist of the new evidence is this: roughly one quarter of Saddam's WMD was destroyed under UN pressure during the early to mid 1990's. Saddam sold approximately another quarter of his weapons stockpile to his Arab neighbors during the mid to late 1990's. The Russians insisted on removing another quarter in the last few months before the war. The last remaining WMD, the contents of Saddam's nuclear weapons labs, were still inside Iraq on the day when the coalition forces arrived in 2003. His nuclear weapons equipment was hidden in enormous underwater warehouses beneath the Euphrates River. Saddam’s entire nuclear inventory was later stolen from these warehouses right out from under the Americans’ noses. The theft of the unguarded Iraqi nuclear stockpile is perhaps, the worst scandal of the war, suggesting a level of extreme incompetence and gross dereliction of duty that makes the Hurricane Katrina debacle look like a model of efficiency.
Without pointing fingers at the Americans, the Israeli government now believes that Saddam Hussein’s nuclear stockpiles have ended up in weapons dumps in Syria. Debkafile, a somewhat reliable private Israeli intelligence service, has recently published a report claiming that the Syrians were importing North Korean plutonium to be mixed with Saddam’s enriched uranium. Allegedly, the Syrians were close to completing a warhead factory next to Saddam’s WMD dump in Deir al Zour, Syria to produce hundreds, if not thousands, of super toxic “dirty bombs” that would pollute wherever they landed in Israel for the next several thousands of years. Debka alleged that it was this combination factory/WMD dump site which was the target of the recent Israeli air strike in Deir al Zour province..
Senior sources in the Israeli government have privately confirmed to me that the recent New York Times articles and satellite photographs about the Israeli raid on an alleged Syrian nuclear target in Al Tabitha, Syria were of the completely wrong location. Armed with this knowledge, I searched Google Earth satellite photos for the rest of the province of Deir al Zour for a site that would match the unofficial Israeli descriptions: camouflaged black factory building, next to a military ammunition dump, between an airport and an orchard. There is a clear match in only one location, Longitude 35 degrees, 16 minutes 49.31 seconds North, Latitude 40 degrees, 3 minutes, 29.97 seconds East. Analysts and members of the public are invited to determine for themselves whether this was indeed the weapons dump for Saddam’s WMD.
Photos of this complex taken after the Israel raid appear to show that all of the buildings, earthern blast berms, bunkers, roads, even the acres of blackened topsoil, have all been dug up and removed. All that remains are what appear to be smoothed over bomb craters. Of course, that is not of itself definitive proof, but it is extremely suspicious.
It should be noted that the American interrogators had accurate information about a possible Deir al Zour location shortly after the war, but ignored it:
"An Iraqi dissident going by the name of "Abu Abdallah" claims that on March 10, 2003, 50 trucks arrived in Deir Al-Zour, Syria after being loaded in Baghdad. …Abdallah approached his friend who was hesitant to confirm the WMD shipment, but did after Abdallah explained what his sources informed him of. The friend told him not to tell anyone about the shipment."
These interrogation reports should be re-evaluated in light of the recently opened Iraqi secret archives, which we submit are the best evidence. But the captured document evidence should not be overstated. It must be emphasized that there is no one captured Saddam document which mentions both the possession of WMD and the movement to Syria.
Moreover, many of Saddam's own tapes and documents concerning chemical and biological weapons are ambiguous. When read together as a mosaic whole, Saddam's secret files certainly make a persuasive case of massive WMD acquisition right up to a few months before the war. Not only was he buying banned precursors for nerve gas, he was ordering the chemicals to make Zyklon B, the Nazis favorite gas at Auschwitz. However odious and well documented his purchases in 2002, there is no direct evidence of any CW or BW actually remaining inside Iraq on the day the war started in 2003. As stated in more detail in my full report, the British, Ukrainian and American secret services all believed that the Russians had organized a last minute evacuation of CW and BW stockpiles from Baghdad to Syria.
We know from Saddam’s documents that huge quantities of CW and BW were in fact produced, and there is no record of their destruction. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Therefore, at least as to chemical and biological weapons, the evidence is compelling, but not conclusive. There is no one individual document or audiotape that contains a smoking gun.
There is no ambiguity, however, about captured tape ISGQ-2003-M0007379, in which Saddam is briefed on his secret nuclear weapons project. This meeting clearly took place in 2002 or afterwards: almost a decade after the State Department claimed that Saddam had abandoned his nuclear weapons research.
Moreover the tape describes a laser enrichment process for uranium that had never been known by the UN inspectors to even exist in Iraq, and Saddam's nuclear briefers on the tape were Iraqi scientists who had never been on any weapons inspector’s list. The tape explicitly discusses how civilian plasma research could be used as a cover for military plasma research necessary to build a hydrogen bomb.
When this tape came to the attention of the International Intelligence Summit, a non-profit, non-partisan educational forum focusing on global intelligence affairs, the organization asked the NSA to verify the voiceprints of Saddam and his cronies, invited a certified translator to present Saddam’s nuclear tapes to the public, and then invited leading intelligence analysts to comment.
At the direct request of the Summit, President Bush promptly overruled his national intelligence adviser, John Negroponte, a career State Department man, and ordered that the rest of the captured Saddam tapes and documents be reviewed as rapidly as possible. The Intelligence Summit asked that Saddam's tapes and documents be posted on a public website so that Arabic-speaking volunteers could help with the translation and analysis.
At first, the public website seemed like a good idea. Another document was quickly discovered, dated November 2002, describing an expensive plan to remove radioactive contamination from an isotope production building. The document cites the return of UNMOVIC inspectors as the reason for cleaning up the evidence of radioactivity. This is not far from a smoking gun: there were not supposed to be any nuclear production plants in Iraq in 2002.
Then a barrage of near-smoking guns opened up. Document after document from Saddam's files was posted unread on the public website, each one describing how to make a nuclear bomb in more detail than the last. These documents, dated just before the war, show that Saddam had accumulated just about every secret there was for the construction of nuclear weapons. The Iraqi intelligence files contain so much accurate information on the atom bomb that the translators’ public website had to be closed for reasons of national security.
If Saddam had nuclear weapons facilities, where was he hiding them? Iraqi informants showed US investigators where Saddam had constructed huge underwater storage facilities beneath the Euphrates River. The tunnel entrances were still sealed with tons of concrete. The US investigators who approached the sealed entrances were later determined to have been exposed to radiation. Incredibly, their reports were lost in the postwar confusion, and Saddam’s underground nuclear storage sites were left unguarded for the next three years. Still, the eyewitness testimony about the sealed underwater warehouses matched with radiation exposure is strong circumstantial evidence that some amount of radioactive material was still present in Iraq on the day the war began.
Our volunteer researchers discovered the actual movement order from the Iraqi high command ordering all the remaining special equipment to be moved into the underground sites only a few weeks before the onset of the war. The date of the movement order suggests that President Bush, who clearly knew nothing of the specifics of the underground nuclear sites, or even that a nuclear weapons program still existed in Iraq, may have been accidentally correct about the main point of the war: the discovery of Saddam’s secret nuclear program, even in hindsight, arguably provides sufficient legal justification for the previous use of force.
Saddam’s nuclear documents compel any reasonable person to the conclusion that, more probably than not, there were in fact nuclear WMD sites, components, and programs hidden inside Iraq at the time the Coalition forces invaded. In view of these newly discovered documents, it can be concluded, more probably than not, that Saddam did have a nuclear weapons program in 2001-2002, and that it is reasonably certain that he would have continued his efforts towards making a nuclear bomb in 2003 had he not been stopped by the Coalition forces. Four years after the war began, we still do not have all the answers, but we have many of them. Ninety percent of the Saddam files have never been read, let alone translated. It is time to utterly reject the conventional wisdom that there were no WMD in Iraq and look to the best evidence: Saddam’s own files on WMD. The truth is what it is, the documents speak for themselves.
***John Loftus is President of, which is entirely free of government funding, and depends solely upon private contributions for its support. The full research paper on Iraqi WMD, along with the supporting documents and photographs can be found at

How the UN Helps Terror
By Arlene Kushner | Friday, November 16, 2007
Breakdown and Introduction
At the beginning of November, Col. Nir Press, of the IDF’s Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration, registered a complaint with the United Nations Relief and Welfare Agency (UNWRA) regarding the use by terrorists of an UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun on October 31 for shooting mortars. The IDF has aerial photos from an unmanned vehicle that showed the terrorists shooting from the school. Israel did not fire at the school in return.[1]
John Ging, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, responded[2] that the masked terrorists had gained entry into the school after threatening the life of the guard.
Karen AbuZayd, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations who has been UNRWA's Deputy Commissioner-General since August, however, told the press a different story: She said that all teachers and students and the one guard employed at the school had been moved out following an Israeli incursion into the area.
According to her, UNRWA only discovered militants had been inside the school after seeing television footage a week ago.
"This is a problem when we're not there, what happens to our schools," she said.
She does not explain what happened to the guard whose life was threatened.
UN Secretary-General Ki Moon is sufficiently concerned about this incident to have now ordered an investigation.
This particular incident has not occurred in isolation, however, and must be set into fuller context:
Before September 2005
UNRWRA and terrorism in Gaza
The connections of the UNRWA refugee camps in Gaza to terrorism – and specifically to Hamas – date back well beyond recent events.
The genesis of radicalism in the UNRWA camps was traced by these authors in March 2003.[3] A state of indefinite, stateless limbo, the impression that Israel was denying them their “inalienable right to return,”[4] and unsatisfactory living conditions all promoted anger and a move to a radical stance. Added to this was (and is) an educational system that in Gaza, as well as in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) , utilizes Palestinian Authority textbooks that promote jihad and deny the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state.
Evidence of radicalism in the UNRWA camps was apparent – but largely ignored – for some years:
A full ten years ago, UNRWA schools were seen decorated with Hamas graffiti and a map of a Palestine that ran from the river to the sea, covered with pictures of machine guns.[5]
An UNRWA food distribution center in Beach Camp, Gaza, was reported to be “decorated with murals of exploding Israeli boats and burning jeeps.” At a nearby boys elementary school “posters glorifying suicide bombers” were stripped from classroom walls.[6]
IDF Colonel (ret.) Yoni Fighel, a former military governor in the territories, gave testimony in 2002 to the fact that UNRWA employees were members of Hamas.[7]
By 2003, it was clear that “the UNRWA camps have become centers of terrorist activities. It is often in the camps that terrorists are recruited, trained, and dispatched, and weapons manufactured; camps (and UNRWA facilities) are utilized for hiding terrorists and weapons. Camps provide a safe haven for terrorists from outside, while residents of the camps themselves are involved in terrorist activities.”[8]
Hamas activity in UNRWA schools and on UNRWA school property
Hamas and related groups were able to promote their ideology in UNRWA schools in Gaza well before Hamas had political control in the area.
In the summer of 2000, UNRWA schools were used for military training for 25,000 Palestinian Arab youngsters; children, ages eight to 16, were trained in the preparation of Molotov cocktails and roadside bombs. “A common theme in the camps was preparation for armed conflict: 'slitting the throats of Israelis' is one of the children's exercises at these camps."[9]
On July 6, 2001, the Hamas movement convened a conference in a school in the UNRWA Jabalya refugee camps in Gaza, with the participation of the school’s administration, teachers and hundreds of students. Saheil Alhinadi, representing the teaching sector on behalf of UNRWA, praised Hamas student activists who carried out suicide attacks against Israel.[10]
A memorial ceremony for Sheikh Yassin – who had headed Hamas and was later killed by Israel – was held at the UNRWA boys’ school in the UNRWA Balata refugee camp on April 3, 2004. Veiled operatives held mock Kassam rockets; the families of “martyrs” were given gifts and certificates of gratitude.[11]
The UNRWA union for teachers has been controlled by Hamas for over 10 years; Islamist nationalist representatives to the union council in Gaza have consistently won its elections and in recent years have controlled the executive committee.[12] The overwhelming predominance of Hamas-affiliated individuals within the population of teachers hired by UNRWA has been particularly troubling because of their influence on generations of refugee children (i.e., descendants of refugees registered by UNRWA).
Yet another way in which the youth attending UNRWA schools in Gaza were influenced was via a group called the Islamic Bloc – which was ideologically connected to Hamas and operated within its framework. Dedicated to the “Islamization” of the “Palestinian issue” and the necessity of liberating all of the land of “Palestine,” the Bloc was charged by Hamas with furthering the goal of Hamas within the schools, in order to prepare the next generation for the liberation of Palestine.[13]
The Bloc sponsored events such as the following:[14]
In the UNRWA Nuseirat Camp in Gaza, a newsletter was published and distributed in the schools. A march was organized to promote identification with the “martyr” Muhammad el-Babli, who was active in Hamas and had been killed in a terrorist incident. Visits were arranged to the homes of “martyrs.”
In the UNRWA Maghazi Camp in Gaza, movies dealing with jihad were shown to students. A “jihad” newsletter was distributed in two boys’ schools; it honored the memory of someone killed by the IDF.
In the UNRWA Bereij Camp in Gaza, an Islamic Bloc preacher gave a session to students on how to bring people closer to Islam; the presentation honored two Hamas founders in prison in Israel. A culture day was organized at two schools; the emphasis was placed on the importance of becoming martyrs.
UNRWA Responsibility
When this information is examined now, with hindsight and in light of all that has occurred in the last two years, it is impossible not to be struck by the fact of UNRWA’s responsibility for these events. The connection of Hamas activity in Gaza in earlier years – in particular activity in the schools – to what subsequently transpired is all too apparent.
UNRWA for the most part turned a blind eye during the years the Hamas strength was building in Gaza. UNRWA’s unvarying position in recent years has been that it is not in control of the camps, but only its facilities, and that, as it does not have a police force, cannot monitor what is being done.
This is a severely insufficient answer. What we are looking at here is promotion of a Hamas – Islamist/jihadist – ideology within the schools run by UNRWA. We are looking at influential teaching personnel for the UNRWA schools in Gaza who are formally affiliated with the Islamic Bloc. And we are looking at events run by and for Hamas, celebrating martyrs and jihad, done on UNRWA school premises in Gaza and in some instances involving UNRWA-hired teaching staff.
At a bare minimum, it is not unreasonable to expect that UNRWA might have established a rule that prohibited the employment of teachers who were affiliated with Islamist organizations, and another rule that no event celebrating “martyrdom” or jihad be permitted on UNRWA school premises.
One suspects that there was a tendency to keep the situation quiet in part out of fear that international awareness of what transpired in UNRWA facilities might reduce donations.
But there was undoubtedly something else going on. UNRWA had generated a Catch-22 situation for itself. As described above, a good percentage of the refugees registered with UNRWA had become radicalized because of their (UNRWA-supported) situation. But, with very few exceptions, it is refugees who were -- and are -- employed by UNRWA,[15] which did not see fit to prohibit their open affiliation with “political” groups. UNRWA was immersed in a climate of radical ideology and, taking the path of least resistance, allowed this situation to persist.
Thus it was that Col. Fighel explained (emphasis added): “As long as UNRWA employees are members of Fatah, Hamas or PFLP(all known terrorist groups) they are going to pursue the interests of their party within the framework of their job…Who’s going to check up on them to see that they don’t? UNRWA? They are UNRWA.”[16]
And so it was, as well, that former UN Secretary General Peter Hansen caused a flap when he admitted with candor in an October 2004 interview with the Canadian Broadcast Corporation that "Oh, I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll, and I don't see that as a crime…Hamas as a political organization does not mean that every member is a militant, and we do not do political vetting and exclude people from one persuasion as against another." "
Teachers employed by UNRWA who were affiliated with Hamas, in the words of Col Fighel, “pursued the interests of their party within the framework of their jobs.” Youngsters were educated to an Islamist ideology under the very nose of UNRWA.
Unquestionably the most famous (infamous) of teachers who taught in the UNRWA schools in Gaza is Sheikh Ahmed Yassin himself, founder of Hamas, who worked as a teacher from 1967 to 1984.[17]
Yet another well-known Hamas personage, Hamas Interior Minister Saeed Siam[18], taught in UNRWA schools in Gaza. A teacher from 1980 to 2003, he was active in the UNRWA union, heading the Teachers Sector Committee for seven years. [19]
Financial support for terrorists
UNRWA at this juncture most certainly is providing funds to some of the terrorists in Gaza, who are registered refugees and who may even live in the UNRWA camps. UNRWA has no policy of checking on the affiliations of its recipients and does not keep records on their activities.[20]
September – December 2005
In August and early September 2005, the Israeli government pulled out of Gaza – removing all Jewish communities and redeploying the IDF.
Absent the IDF, the level of violence within Gaza began to increase considerably; a good percentage of it centered in or emanating from the UNRWA refugee camps.
On September 23, 2005, in the course of a major Hamas rally in the UNRWA Jabaliya camp, there was an accident that caused the death of 19 Palestinians and injured some 85 more. Apparently this occurred when rockets being carried on a truck for purposes of a parade exploded.
The very next day, in response to a barrage of Kassam rocket attacks coming from Gaza, the IDF did a series of strikes on rocket storage and manufacturing sites. One of these was the Jabaliya camp.
On September 28, 2005, Israel targeted a structure used by the PFLP terrorists in the UNRWA Bureij camp.
In October 2005, Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan, situated in the Jabaliya camp, bragged that Hamas was manufacturing its own mortars and launchers.[21]
On November 1, 2005, Israel targeted a vehicle inside the Jabaliya camp that was carrying camp resident Hassan Mad’hun, a terrorist with Al Aksa Brigades who also cooperated with Hamas. He was responsible for launching rockets at Israel in the weeks before his assassination, as well as planning and initiating suicide bombing attacks.[22]
On December 6, 2005, UPI reported that a Hezbollah representative was meeting with Palestinians Abu Mahujayn, Shehada Jawahr and Khaled Safayn, who lead Palestinian militias from inside the Bureij refugee camp.
Leading to the Current Situation
January 2006 – May 2007
In January 2006, Hamas won a sweeping electoral victory in PA legislative elections and by March a Hamas-dominated government had been established – which was followed by a unity government in March 2007. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, chosen as prime minister, grew up in the UNRWA Beach refugee camp in Gaza and attended UNRWA schools.
Terrorism continued to emanate from the UNRWA camps
The violence emanating from Gaza – in good part from the UNRWA refugee camps – persisted during this period. The attacks became more deadly as the power and accuracy of the Kassams was increased and for the first time, in March 2006, Katyusha rockets, more accurate and more powerful, were launched.
Additionally, on June 25, 2006, IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by terrorists associated with Hamas who tunneled into Israel near Kerem Shalom. Israel intelligence first placed him in the UNRWA Khan Younis refugee camp.[23]
Repeatedly during this period there were Israeli operations into the camps, in an effort to take terrorists and destroy weapons caches or launching sites – as well as in order to locate Shalit. Other reports of terrorist activity within the camps surfaced as well.
In May 2006, Jihadists were reported moving into the camp at Khan Younis in south Gaza.[24]
In June 2006, Israel did an air strike in the Jabaliya camp in an effort to take out members of the Al Aksa Brigades, Fatah’s terrorist wing.[25] Additionally, Israel took out the Hamas security headquarters located in this camp. [26]
Also in June, Israel killed Jamal Abu Samhadana, a security chief for Hamas. A resident of the UNRWA Rafah refugee camp, he was mourned by a huge outpouring of the population there.[27]
Israel entered UNRWA Mughazi refugee camp in central Gaza, in July 2006,[28] killing at least three Hamas militants.
In October 2006, a Gazan refugee camp resident affiliated with Hamas died while assisting in the digging of a tunnel between Gaza and Israel. [29]
In April 2007, rumored reports surfaced regarding the release of specific Palestinian prisoners to be released in exchange for corporal Shalit. One of those mentioned was Yehya al-Sinwar, of the Khan Younis refugee camp, who had founded the first Hamas military unit in 1988. [30]
In May 2007, the UNRWA Nuseirat refugee camp was identified as a site for launching Kassam rockets and a weapons storage facility was targeted there by the IDF.[31]
Humanitarian issues
By early May 2006, the international community, responding to Hamas control of the PA government, began to seriously implement a freeze on assistance to the PA.
At this point a proposal emerged, supported in several quarters, that would have assigned to UNRWA an expanded role as a relief agency through which emergency relief funds might be distributed to the Palestinian population at large. UNRWA itself, however, expressed reluctance to assume this role out of fear of seeing its resources overwhelmed. Its first priority, representatives insisted, would be the refugees.[32] But while UNRWA’s position is that it tends to refugees, information has been previously secured indicating that some Palestinians who are not refugees but are in need also receive relief from UNRWA.[33]
At the same time that UNRWA demurred with regard to an expanded role, the agency sounded the alarm regarding the need for increased international donations. In June 2006, UNRWA announced that an additional 90,000 refugees were being provided with emergency food assistance. Most were said to be government (i.e., PA) workers who had received no pay since March.[34] This fact – that Palestinians working for the PA government are still considered to be “refugees” – highlights the illogic of the system under which UNRWA operates.
Over the subsequent months reports came from within UNRWA of an emergency so severe that its services might have to be terminated. At the same time, announcements were made of pledges of assistance from several nations.
UNRWA vulnerability
As chaos increased within Gaza, UNRWA found itself in a position of increased precariousness. On March 17, 2007, shots were fired at the convoy of John Ging, UNRWA Director of Operations in Gaza. This was thought to be an assassination attempt by radical militants: Ging was unharmed but his vehicle was hit by 11 bullets. On March 22, it was reported that an UNRWA vehicle was hijacked.
By the end of March, in light of the above, the UN decided to cut back on the UNRWA international staff stationed in the Gaza Strip.[35] Rather than looking to an increase in operations, just the reverse was occurring.
On May 6, Islamic radical gunmen opened fire at an UNRWA elementary school in Rafah during a sports day celebration because they disapproved of what was going on. A bodyguard was killed and eight others, including two children, were wounded; a vehicle was destroyed. This was a well-organized event with some 70 radicals, likely connected to al-Qaida, involved.[36]
At various times during May, UNRWA teaching staff was instructed to either cut their day short or remain at home because of potential risks. UNRWA compounds were physically reinforced to add additional protection.[37]
In an ironic state of affairs, the very agency that had looked the other way with regard to terrorist activity within its bailiwick and had proved itself to be a major support for and defender of the Palestinians in Gaza now found itself the target of violence, so that its ability to function was severely curtailed. This situation was exacerbated in good part by the internecine violence between various Palestinian groups.
A bias in statements
It has been the case repeatedly over the years that UNRWA top personnel, in expressing concern about Palestinian hardship, avoid mention of the cause of that hardship – the actions of terrorists – and focus instead on Israel. What is more, it is not uncommon for the statements to contain distortions of facts. That pattern persisted during the period under discussion below:
On June 21, 2006, Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd, responding to the accidental death of two Palestinian children in the course of an Israeli air raid in northern Gaza, said, “I was extremely saddened to learn of these tragedies, so soon after the killings on Gaza beach.”[38]
However, the “killings on Gaza beach” – an incident in which seven people were killed as they picnicked in an explosion on a Gaza beach– had been shown, a full week before AbuZayd made her statement, to not be the result of Israeli action.[39] What is more, she made no mention of the reason why the Israelis were conducting the raid – Palestinian launching of Kassams or shooting of mortars.
On July 12, 2006, in an interview with Haaretz, AbuZayd said, "The children see like everyone else what is going on around them. I'm afraid that they will be the ones who lead the Third Intifada…Our teachers and consultants have invested a huge effort in instilling the values of peace. I believe that the sophisticated tools we have given the children will last, and they will overcome this crisis."[40] In light of the fact of Hamas teachers instructing in the UNRWA classrooms in Gaza, the Islamic Bloc programs permitted in the schools, and the use of PA educational material that includes maps without Israel and promotes jihad, the suggestion that UNRWA has educated for peace is more than a little startling.
An on-going UNRWA complaint has been the IDF practice of closing crossings into Gaza, which inhibits the agency’s ability to move in goods and supplies. This is particularly the case with the Karni Crossing. IDF soldiers have been killed in attacks at this site in the past, and Israel has found it necessary to close this crossing when there has been warning of an imminent attack – a not infrequent occurrence. UNRWA, however, has declined to utilize alternate crossing sites made available by the IDF, claiming that this would require a re-packaging of supplies – palletizing – that is prohibitively expensive.[41] The choice thus made by UNRWA in these instances is to allow potential recipients of its goods to go without, even in instances when the possibility to get at least some supplies in does exist.
The Present Situation:
June through mid-November 2007
In June, the violence between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza escalated into civil war. After five days of battle, Hamas routed Fatah – which withdrew to Judea and Samaria – and took over control of Gaza on June 15, 2007. PA President Mahmoud Abbas disbanded the unity government and appointed a caretaker government to govern in Judea and Samaria, which Hamas called illegitimate.
While there has in recent weeks been unofficial or secret contact between Hamas and Fatah, as this is written the situation remains the status quo. To a considerable degree, Hamas has been under siege, as Israel and the Western powers have attempted to strengthen an allegedly “moderate” Fatah.
Much of what we are now seeing is a continuation or expansion of previous patterns.
Increased terrorism
Launching of rockets and shooting of mortars has greatly increased during this period. Of considerable concern to Israel is the smuggling, permitted by Egypt, of weapons and material into Gaza, the manufacture of weapons, and the stockpiling.
Political statement and misstatement
In a reversal of a previous UNRWA position that largely held Israel responsible for closing of the crossings into Gaza, John Ging said in July, in response to terrorist shelling of crossings, "It is very clear the responsibility lies with the Palestinians."[42]
But, by the beginning of August, Ging was again criticizing Israel, when he condemned Israeli entry into an UNRWA school in Gaza. "This is a violation of our property and we expect the IDF to halt any operation that places in danger our staff and which damages our installations," he said.[43] However, Israeli forces arrested two of the school guards during this operation, which certainly would seem to have had a legitimate focus. Ging does not address this aspect of the situation at all.
Karen AbuZayd, in a September interview with Akiva Eldar of Haaretz, stated, “Even Hamas people talk about the two-state solution and the Israeli state. They've accepted that.”[44] This major misrepresentation of the reality,[45] just the opposite, is a key to AbuZayd’s sympathies.
AbuZayd, in the interview, also said that growing numbers of the refugees in Gaza seek emergency assistance from UNRWA because of the difficult situation. “Their distress,” however, “neither minimizes their support of Hamas nor dispels their ambitions to return to the homes they abandoned 60 years ago.” And here she does reflect a reality on the ground. One that UNRWA accepts.
Humanitarian issues
In the course of the Fatah-Hamas fighting, which occasionally bordered on UNRWA facilities, 18 medical clinics and three food distribution centers were forced to temporarily close.[46] After two UNRWA workers were killed and two others wounded, UNRWA announced that except for emergency food distribution and essential medical services, its operations would be temporarily suspended. Once Hamas was fully in control and there was expectation of decreased violence, UNRWA announced full resumption of services by June 17. [47]
An on-going focus in the weeks and months that followed was the closing of crossings from Israel into Gaza, which, according to UNRWA, generated a humanitarian crisis situation.
According to Shlomo Dror, IDF, Civil Administration in Gaza,[48] there is sufficient food in Gaza; Israel permits enough to be brought in so that there will be adequate supplies if there is subsequently a backlog because of the closing of crossings: supplies for various foods range from enough for two weeks to three months. Other non-governmental programs, such as the World Food Program, are supplying assistance, as well.
There are also sufficient medical supplies. Palestinians are being brought to Israel for medical care, with 80% of requests approved. There has been adequate electricity (about which more below) and water, as well.
Dror reports that Hamas is ruling by terror and that UNRWA is afraid and will not criticize.
There has been some dispute with regard to what constitutes basic humanitarian needs. UNRWA acknowledges that Israel has been bringing in food and medical , but registered distress about the failure to allow in building materials, or paper and books for the UNRWA schools. Israel, says Dror, increased the amount of these materials permitted in after a request from the PA. Israeli concern has been that UNRWA will turn these materials over to Hamas. While Israel has no desire to allow Palestinians in Gaza to suffer in basic ways, neither is there a willingness to make it easier for Hamas to function: this requires walking a fine line.
UNRWA has expressed concern that the achievement levels of students in Gaza have fallen drastically; it has instituted some remedial programs for core subjects such as math.
As to the issue of electricity and other fuel: As of September 19th, Israel officially declared Gaza to be a hostile territory. The intent is to curtail delivery of electric power and fuel in response to Kassam attacks. The proposed action is currently being examined by the attorney general regarding its legality; there has been declared intent by Israel to do it in such a way that there will be no humanitarian suffering.
[1] The Jerusalem Post, November 7, 2007.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Arlene Kushner, “UNRWA: A Report,” The Center for Near East Policy Research, March 2003.
[4] While in fact no such “right” exists in international law.
[5] Shawn Cohen, “The Refugees Dilemma: A Day in the UNRWA Arab Refugee Camps,” Washington Jewish Week, July 23, 1997.
[6] Charles Radin, “UN Role in Palestinian Camps in Dispute,” The Boston Globe, July 8, 2002.
7] Interviewed by Allison Kaplan Sommer in “UNRWA on Trial,” Reform Judaism Magazine, Winter 2002, p. 42.
[8] UNRWA: A Report, op. cit., p. 31.
[9] John F. Burns, “Palestinian Summer Camps Offers the Games of War,” The New York Times, August 3, 2000, p.1.
[10] From the website of the Israeli prime minister.
[12] Arlene Kushner, “UNRWA: Links to Terrorism,” The Center for Near East Policy Research, October 2004.
[13] Interview with Ahmed Casiso, Islamic Bloc supervisor of 20 summer camps for 3,000 junior high and high school students run in 2004, found on
[14] See “UNRWA: Links to Terrorism,” op. cit., p. 25-26 for further details and website sources for each item.
[15] Of some roughly 24,000 people employed by UNRWA, all but about 100 “internationals” at top management levels are Palestinians, the vast majority of these registered by UNRWA as refugees. This hiring practice runs contrary to the normative hiring practice for social service or humanitarian organizations, which is to avoid hiring from within the population being serviced.
[16] “UNRWa on Trial,” op. cit.
[17] Access to Palestine website:
[18] Siam was Interior Minister in the PA Unity Government and established a 3,000 man security force in Gaza that Abbas called illegal.
[19] Jerusalem Media and Communications Center.
[20] See Arlene Kushner, “UNRWA: Links to Terrorism,’ 2004 for details on this.
[23] CNN, June 29, 2006.
[24] The New York Times, May 21, 2006.
[25] From a UN document at
[26] Patterns of Global Terrorism: Israel 2006 Overview
[27] Fox News, June 8, 2006.
[28] The Boston Globe, July 19, 2006.
[29] Real Israel, News, October 2006 archive.
[30] Reuters, April 9, 2007.
[31] Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
[32]Relief Web, May 22, 22006
[33] Dr. Emanuel Marx, who met in February 2004 with Sami Mshasha, head of UNRWA’s Jerusalem Public Information Office, learned that since September 2000 UNRWA had stopped requiring that those in need in Gaza or Judea and Samaria present their ID cards.
[34] BBC, June 18, 2006
[35] Haaretz, March 28, 2007.
[36] Khaled Abu Toameh, The Jerusalem Post, May 6, 2007.
[37] Mid East Newsline, May 18, 2007.
[38] UNRWA press release, June 21, 2006.
[39] A three day investigation by the IDF that took into consideration the timing, the angles of shooting, and the nature of the shrapnel led to this conclusion. “IDF not responsible for Gaza blast,” The Jerusalem Post, June 13, 2006.
[40] Haaretz, July 12, 2006.
[41] Phone interview with Shlomo Dror, IDF, Civil Administration in Gaza, September 2006.
[42] The Jerusalem Post, July 8, 2007.
[43] AHN Meda, August 3, 2007.
[44] Haaretz, September 18, 2007.
[45] Hamas is boycotting the anticipated conference at Annapolis because of its opposition and has declared intent to sabotage it.
Ismail Haniyeh, former PA prime minister, of Hamas, warned the PA government, "Don't fall into the trap of the coming conference.” AP, October 12, 2007.
In July 2007, with regard to the conference, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Bush of outlining "a plot to launch a crusade against the Palestinian people." Haaretz, July 17, 2007.
Ismail Haniyeh, when he was still prime minister of the PA, had made the Hamas position clear: "We will never recognize the usurper Zionist government and will continue our jihad-like movement until the liberation of Jerusalem." Guardian Unlimited, December 8, 2006.
Khaled Mashaal, political head of Hamas, expressed the same sentiment from Damascus: "Hamas will not surrender ... and will not recognize Israel." The Washington Post, October 12, 2006.
[46] BBS News, June 12, 2007.
[47] Web Relief, June 15, 2007.
[48] September 2007 interview.
American-born Arlene Kushner is an investigative writer and author in Jerusalem. UNRWA is a frequent topic of investigation for her. She has done major reports on this subject for the Center for Near East Policy Research, and has written articles on UNRWA for Azure Magazine, The Jerusalem Post, and Front Page Magazine.