October 09/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 10,25-37. There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?"  He said in reply, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."  He replied to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live." But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, 'Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.' Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers' victim?" He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

Iran's Plan for Iraq.By: Walid Phares.FrontPage October 8/07
As Lebanon Goes. By Jackson Diehl-Washington Post. October 8/07
Turkey can be a powerful force for the building of regional stability.The Daily Star. October 8/07
Two dictators going in opposite directions.
By Kishore Mahbubani. October 8/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for October 08/07
Lebanon arrests 30 militants who allegedly plotted to attack Arab, European ambassadors ...International Herald Tribune
Jumblatt: Nasrallah is spokesperson for Syria and Iran in Lebanon.Ya Libnan

Fiery Attacks on Nasrallah Over Referendum Proposal-Naharnet
Tribunal Set Up to Top Hariri Agenda in N.Y.--Naharnet
Alleged Aoun Financial Backer Squeezed in Washington-Naharnet
Turkish FM: Syria Plays Role in Stability of Neighbors
Sfeir Urges Increased Awareness Over Presidential Election Issue-Naharnet

Sfeir warns politicians to take presidential poll seriously-Daily Star
March 14 assails Nasrallah's suggestion of direct polls for Lebanon's presidency
-Daily Star
Two FPM members released pending trial on training rap
-Daily Star
Ceremony honors troops slain by Fatah al-Islam and Israelis
-Daily Star
Italian peacekeepers help Southern village
-Daily Star
Merrill Lynch paints gloomy picture of Lebanon-Daily Star
Lebanese real estate market remains unshaken by political, economic crises.AFP
ISF denies responsibility for man's death
-Daily Star
FPM wraps up summer camp for students
-Daily Star
Economic troubles mean lean Eid al-Fitr for many Lebanese
-Daily Star
First families 'return to Nahr al-Bared Tuesday'
-Daily Star
Sidon schoolchildren turn wall into vibrant 'Childhood and Peace' mural
-Daily Star
AUB inaugurates Abu Haidar Neuroscience Institute-Daily Star
Beirut party district hosts bazaar to help rural women
-Daily Star
Hamas will join Damascus talks to counter US confab.AFP
Turkey 'won't let' Israeli planes through to hit Syria
-Daily Star

As Lebanon Goes . . .
The Case for Fixing Beirut First

By Jackson Diehl-Washington Post
Monday, October 8, 2007; Page A17
Lebanon has long been described as a theater where the larger tensions and conflicts of the Middle East are played out in miniature, and in the past three years its drama has seemed particularly representative. When the Bush administration's push for democracy appeared to be gaining momentum in 2005, Lebanese responded to the assassination of their prime minister with a classic "people power" revolution, and a relatively democratic election installed a pro-Western government. When Syria and Iran launched their own offensive in 2006, Lebanon became both a staging point and a strategic target: After starting a summer war with Israel, the Hezbollah movement tried using its own street revolt to topple the government in Beirut.
For the past year, Lebanon, like the Middle East, has endured a tense and dangerous stalemate between the forces of Damascus and Tehran, spearheaded by Hezbollah, and those of the United States, Europe and Sunni-ruled Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which are backing the government of Fouad Siniora. Middle East analysts and many Lebanese tend to shruggingly conclude that nothing can be resolved until the larger regional standoff is settled -- or one side decisively gains the upper hand.
Saad Hariri, the son of the prime minister whose assassination triggered the "Cedar Revolution," is trying to defeat that conventional wisdom -- or maybe turn it inside out. The soft-spoken 37-year-old parliamentarian, now one of the leaders of the government coalition, was in Washington last week to meet with President Bush and congressional leaders. His main aim was the same one he has pursued since Feb. 14, 2005, when his father was killed by a massive car bomb in the center of Beirut: to focus enough international pressure on Damascus that it will be forced to stop its incessant, brutal interventions in Lebanon.
The latest of those came less than three weeks ago, when a pro-government legislator named Antoine Ghanem was killed by another car bomb -- the sixth such assassination in the past 2 1/2 years and the second since June. Like most Lebanese, Hariri has no doubt that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is responsible. This is not mere terrorism -- by picking off pro-government members of parliament one by one, Syria is bloodily eroding the government's small parliamentary majority.
Assad is also sending a message to Hariri and opposition Shiite leader Nabih Berri, who have been trying to negotiate a way out of the Lebanese stalemate. Their talks have been inspired by the need for parliament to elect a new president by Nov. 24, when the term of Emile Lahoud expires. Lahoud is a Syrian puppet; while the pro-Western alliance has the votes to elect its own choice as his successor, the opposition is able to deny the necessary quorum.
The Lebanese are talking about a compromise that could allow a new president to take office while offering a concession or two to the opposition parties -- such as a delay in implementing the disarmament of Hezbollah required by two U.N. Security Council resolutions. But "Syria is determined that the presidential election will not happen," Hariri said shortly after meeting Bush. "In their eyes they are winning this conflict. They are killing people in the streets of Beirut, and nothing is happening to them."
Bush has been tougher on Syria than anyone else in the West. But his administration is under a lot of countervailing pressure -- from State Department diplomats and Democrats who insist that "dialogue" with Assad is the best approach; from Israelis and Arabs who would like Syria to join incipient Middle East peace negotiations; from Europeans who hint that a U.N.-sponsored investigation into the Hariri murder and other killings might best be put on a back burner or used as a bargaining chip. Syria has been folded into U.S.-orchestrated diplomatic meetings on Iraq and invited to the administration's Israeli-Arab summit planned for Annapolis in November.
Hariri argues implicitly for a different strategy, one that starts rather than ends in Lebanon. "It is possible to pressure Syria by threatening isolation," he says. "When Rafiq Hariri was assassinated, the whole world talked with one language -- and when the whole world said it, Syria got out of Lebanon, because they were afraid that the world would isolate Syria." If the same coalition were to unite in demanding that Damascus stop interfering in the Lebanese presidential election, Hariri reasons, the Lebanese could strike a deal that would allow the choice of a president committed to the country's independence, to strengthening its government and its armed forces, and to creating a state that would eventually crowd out militias such as Hezbollah. "If we succeed as a moderate democracy, it will have an enormous impact on the region, and on Syria," Hariri says. "If we fail, terrorism and extremism will flourish." In other words, the Middle East can paralyze Lebanon -- or, just maybe, Lebanon can start to change the Middle East.

Merrill Lynch paints gloomy picture of Lebanon
Daily Star staff
Monday, October 08, 2007
BEIRUT: Leading international investment bank Merrill Lynch maintained its recommendation on Lebanon's external debt at "underweight" in its model portfolio of emerging- markets debt for October, as reported in Lebanon This Week, the economic publication of the Byblos Bank Group.
Merrill Lynch attributed the decision to the continued deterioration in the political outlook and considered that Lebanon will be unable to deliver a substantial portion of pledges from the Paris III conference due to the political impasse. It warned that Lebanon will head into another crisis if a president is not elected in the October 23rd parliamentary session which will impact negatively the country's public finances.
"However, the sizeable international aid package and the expected IMF Emergency Post Conflict Assistance are supportive of the credit," it said.
It added that if the political deadlock were to be solved soon, the medium- and long-term outlooks would improve on the back of higher chances for the implementation of the program. But the ongoing political stalemate clouds even the medium-term outlook.
Audi Bank's news bulletin noticed that a sluggish mood swept over the Eurobond market this week, as the local and foreign investors' interest in Lebanese bonds faded away. "However, prices reported a tiny increase as reflected by a decrease in the average yield of six basis points to 8.39 percent, while the average spread widened by 16 basis points to 420 points," the bulletin said. It added that on a cumulative basis, the average spread widened by 120 basis points since year-end 2006, due to the adverse local security conditions and the political bottleneck. In parallel, Eurobond prices in other emerging markets remained unchanged this week, as reflected by a stable average yield at 5.53 percent. The average spread expanded by 12 basis points over the week to reach 155 basis points, as investors awaited US data for clues on whether the Federal Reserve will cut rates. - The Daily Star

Sfeir warns politicians to take presidential poll seriously
By Maroun Khoury
Daily Star correspondent
Monday, October 08, 2007
BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir in his sermon on Sunday that presidential elections need to be treated seriously and with a great deal of awareness and concern, adding that the presidency is an institution that deserves respect and the highest consideration.
"If this office was degraded and if those entrusted with preserving it were lenient regarding the sanctity of this office, this would reflect on all the country's institutions, and on the country as a whole. Therefore we have to face this election with a great deal of awareness and seriousness," Sfeir said.
"We pray that God enlightens the minds of those entrusted with the [presidential] election to carry it out in a way that satisfies their conscience, their country and the future generations, and to spare them what befell [their countrymen] which was devastating to their families and the country," Sfeir added.
In meeting afterward, Sfeir met a delegation from the Batroun Development Council, headed by deputy chairman Antoine Salhab, who said during the meeting that ending the political crisis requires a president capable of reconciling the Lebanese. Salhab added that these specifications are found in presidential candidate and March 14 MP Butros Harb.
Sfeir said in response to Salhab that he hopes a president is elected whose abilities, integrity and devotion to his country can be relied on, adding that Harb is well known for his devotion to his country, his qualifications and abilities.
"But as you know there are many competing for this office," Sfeir said, adding that in the past there used to be two main candidates competing for the office, but today "only God knows how many there are.""We ask God that he enlightens the country's deputies to choose for us a president capable of extracting this country from its crisis and restores its past glories, its confidence and national dignity," the patriarch said. Sfeir's comments come as time is running out for Lebanon to elect a successor to President Emile Lahoud, who will step down on November 24. Lahoud served one six-year term as stipulated by the Constitution, but his mandate was extended for more three years under pressure from Syria in late 2004. Parliament met September 25 but a quorum was not achieved for an electoral session to convene. Parliament failed to vote on a candidate when most opposition MPs boycotted the session. The opposition continues to insist that a consensus candidate should be agreed on before an electoral session. Opposition MPs' absence prevented the legislature from having the two-thirds quorum necessary for a first round of voting. In a second round only a simple majority is required, according to the Constitution.

March 14 assails Nasrallah's suggestion of direct polls for Lebanon's presidency
By Hani M. Bathish
Daily Star staff
Monday, October 08, 2007
BEIRUT: The ruling majority's response over the weekend to Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's Jerusalem Day speech was decidedly negative, focusing on elements of the speech that called for a direct election to choose the next president if consensus is not achieved for a parliamentary vote.
From Washington on Saturday, Parliamentary majority leader MP Saad Hariri, said such suggestions risk taking the country down an uncertain path.
"[The opposition] should stop making such suggestions because the Lebanese Constitution is clear. We do not fear a referendum, and we could, if one was carried out, get a president elected. We will not abandon our Constitution or the Taif [Accord] which ensured civil peace. This is not the time for suggestions that take the country to the unknown," Hariri told An-Nahar newspaper.
Hariri also called Speaker Nabih Berri, who is currently in Geneva, to share the results of his US visit. Both men agreed to stay in close contact in the coming days, while Hariri's media office said that dialogue between them will resume once Hariri returns to Beirut.
Hariri is due to arrive in New York Monday for talks with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the UN ambassadors of the five permanent Security Council members and UN Special Envoy Terje Roed Larsen. His meetings will focus on progress in setting up the Special Tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of his father, former Premier Rafik Hariri, and ways of enforcing all UN resolutions concerning Lebanon.
In the harshest criticism of Nasrallah's speech so far, Democratic Gathering leader MP Walid Jumblatt, said Saturday that Nasrallah has become a spokesperson for Syria and Iran. "Nasrallah says, 'if you want an international investigation [into the slaying of Rafik Hariri] expect more assassinations.' He also said 'if you want freedom, sovereignty and independence, we won't stand for it and we will impose a consensus candidate' by which he means a president who rejects all international resolutions," Jumblatt said. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, speaking at an iftar banquet Sunday, criticized those who would exonerate Hariri's killers, without making specific reference to Nasrallah, and stressed that the majority will maintain their "national commitment" no matter what the cost.
Presidential candidate and March 14 MP Nassib Lahoud, speaking to ANB television, said it is not possible to change the rules of the game on the eve of presidential elections. "Changing the Lebanese political system to allow the election of a president directly by the people is complicated and requires other adjustments to the system as well," he said.
Lahoud supported Nasrallah's call to reach consensus over the next president, but also stressed the need to agree on electing a president through "democratic competition" in accordance with constitutional rules, if opposing parties fail to agree on a consensus president. Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh, speaking to the Hariri family's Future TV Sunday, asked why March 14 MPs alone are the ones threatened with assassination and in need of protection, rejecting Nasrallah's assertion that Israel is behind recent political killings in Lebanon.
"I do not see a single opposition MP in danger," Hamadeh said. "Does this mean Israel is their ally and it does not threaten them but only kills us? This is a question I would like to put to Sayyed Nasrallah."
He said that the majority "knows Syria will continue with the assassinations," for which reason the majority has taken preventive measures and is eager to see the Special Tribunal set up as soon as possible.
Commenting on Nasrallah's suggestion to use polling firms to conduct an opinion poll to choose the next president, Hamadeh asked: "Is there a country in the world that elects a president based on opinion polls? Or do we amend Article 49 of the Constitution and say we elect a president based on opinion polls conducted by companies chosen by Sayyed Nasrallah?"
He also asked if Lebanon was on the verge of becoming a democracy "along Syrian lines, where presidents are elected by a 99 percent of people's votes."
Justice Minister Charles Rizk, speaking to Voice of Lebanon radio, said Sunday that Nasrallah's speech contained a lot of positive elements that need to be dealt with carefully, but he added that electing a president directly by popular vote requires a constitutional amendment, to which he is opposed to at this time.
"After presidential elections the Lebanese can come to an agreement over all issues that require discussion, among these electing a president directly by the people," Rizk said.
Presidential candidate and March 14 MP Butros Harb, addressing a delegation from Batroun and Tannourine visiting him at his home Sunday, said Nasrallah's suggestion of direct presidential elections was a breach of the Taif Accord that ended the 1975-1990 Civil War.
"The Taif Accord maintained a consensus formula based on multi-confessionalism," the MP said. "Once we resort to a popular referendum to choose a president we topple this formula."
Another presidential candidate, MP Robert Ghanem, told Voice of Lebanon radio on Sunday that the time was not a suitable to suggest holding direct elections for the presidency, adding that the country can no longer tolerate being a "proving ground" for such concepts.
Ghanem also said he had hoped that Nasrallah's speech would announce the end of the sit-in in Downtown Beirut "in view of the damage it has caused for people and seeing it had failed to achieve its goal of changing the government."
Hizbullah MP Hussein Hajj Hassan, also speaking to Voice of Lebanon on Sunday, said members of the ruling majority commented selectively on Nasrallah's speech concerning internal Lebanese affairs, noting that Hariri's statements from Beirut differ from those issued out of Washington, and accusing him of wanting to electing a Lebanese president from the American capital.
He said that Nasrallah's point of reference was the Constitution and consensus, but in the event consensus is not achieved, the Hizbullah leader only suggested democratic options that are available all over the world. "[Nasrallah] said, 'do not talk of majorities in Lebanon, there are no majorities in a democratic, consociational, confessional system,'" Hajj Hassan said.

Fadlallah sets Friday as start of Eid al-Fitr

BEIRUT: Daily Star/ Lebanon's senior Shiite cleric, Sayyed Mohamad Hussein Fadlallah, has announced that Friday, October 12, will be the first day of Eid al-Fitr. The feast marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from dawn until sunset. The month of Ramadan varies between 29 days and 30, and ends when another new moon is sighted, signaling the beginning of a new month, in this case the month of Shawal.

Iran's Plan for Iraq
By Walid Phares
World Defense Review | Monday, September 10, 2007
[Part one of a series on "Freedom Lines," adapted from seminars conducted for the U.S. House of Representatives' Caucus on Counter Terrorism, summer 2007]
In March 2003, the United States made a strategic decision to send troops into Iraq and defeat the Saddam Hussein regime militarily. This decision is still being debated nationwide and internationally as to its legitimacy and rationality.
One camp claims Washington didn't have a right to change the regime and engage in an armed confrontation with Iraqis. Another camp says Saddam was a threat, the region is now better off without him, and Iraqis have been liberated from a bloody dictatorship.
Above, general Directions of the Iranian Syrian Plan for Post Withdrawal Iraq.
Above, advances by
1. Iran: Center, South and Saudi and Jordanian borders; pressure on the Kurds in the North
2. Syria: Anbar, limits of Sunni Triangle, pressure on Kurds
3. Turkey: Tentative: Pressure on the Kurds
Above, final advances
1. Iran: Central, South, West
2. Syria: Anbar, borders enclaves
3. Al Qaeda and Jihadists: in the Center
In reality, only historians will determine if it was the right decision at the right time for one simple reason: While U.S. military operations aimed at dismantling the regime's military power ended in April 2003 very successfully as a matter of fact the second much longer road for the following set of U.S. goals is now under scrutiny.
Should American and Coalition forces withdraw immediately, begin pulling out, or staying the course, is the center of the ongoing debate. But to answer, one has to understand the goals of the adversaries in this ongoing conflict. Al Qaeda has a plan for Iraq, and U.S. forces are fighting it along with Iraqi units. But the direct geopolitical threat that is linked to the role of U.S. troops in that country is the Iranian regime and its allies in the region and inside Iraq. How does Tehran see the American presence, what are its plans for Iraq, and what will happen if U.S. forces are withdrawn abruptly?
Prior to 2001, the Iranian regime had developed regional ambitions, including a military alliance with Syria, continuous support of Hezbollah in Lebanon and a slow-pace development of a nuclear weapon. In the 1980s, its proxies delivered blows to the U.S. in Beirut and by May 2000, its allies in Lebanon had reached international borders with Israel.
During the decade following the first Gulf War, the Pasdaran were training and arming Iraqi militias for future mission in Iraq. The Khomeinists and Hafez Assad had an Iraq plan years before the U.S. invaded in 2003: overrun the Shia areas in the center and the south and open a land bridge between Iran and Syria.[1] But 9/11 shook off the foundations of the Iranian plan. By December of that year, U.S. and Coalition forces removed the Taliban and opened the path for a democratic government in Afghanistan.
The regime change in Kabul was a first problem for the Mullahs in Tehran: democracy defeating a Jihadi regime wasn't a good example to watch. By April 2003, a second catastrophe hit the Islamic Republic: Saddam was removed, but worse, democratic elections were succeeding each other in Iraq. But more dramatic was the fact that U.S and NATO forces were deployed to the East and to the West of Iran.
In strategic reading, the Khomeinist project was geographically contained: no more bridge to Syria and a greater menace was hovering over the nuclear program. Even more catastrophic was the proximity of two democratic experiments to the Iranian society. Students, women and workers have been challenging the theocratic regime since the late 1990s.
To Khamanei's ruling elite, successes across the borders meant a condemnation to the regime inside Iran. Thus the Pasdaran were tasked with a plan to destabilize Afghanistan and crumble the political process in Iraq. Since the summer of 2003 and for the following four years, Iranian backed Terrorism against civilians, Syrian passage for the Jihadists and pressures against U.S. and Coalition forces aimed at provoking a quicker and chaotic pull out.
If Washington withdraws catastrophically from Iraq what would the Iranian regime do? In about six to nine months, this is what would happen:
The pro-Iranian militias (SCIRI, Badr Brigade, Muqtada al Sadr, act.) would seize the control of two thirds of Iraq between Baghdad and Basra. The militias would create "security enclaves," perform several terror acts and assassinations leading to a crumbling of the central Government, and a pro-Khomeinist regime established.
Most moderate Shiite politicians and liberal elements in those areas would be eliminated, as did Khomeini with his partners in the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Within less than a year, most Shia partners of the Pro-Iranian forces would be eliminated.
And as it was practiced in Lebanon in 1990, the pro-Iranian future regime of Iraq will call in Iranian "brotherly" forces to assist in security and in the defense of the borders. The Pasdaran and the Iranian army will deploy in the southern Oil fields, along the borders with Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan and would connect with the Syrian forces across the borders. The latter will be asked to help in the Anbar province.
The Sunni areas will be left to be dealt with later, along with Syrian interventions.
The Kurdish areas will be submitted to isolation, pressure and internal divisions, in a concerted effort with Syria and the Islamic Government of Turkey.
This is not a theoretical scenario. This is the projected reality if U.S. forces would prematurely and abruptly withdraw from Iraq before achieving one major strategic objective in Iraq and the region: Helping the independently minded Iraqis to reform and solidify their Government, erect their Army to a regional level and along with U.S. forces establish a containment system for Iranian expansionist ambitions. Any lesser goal achieved in Iraq is a direct invitation to the Iranian regime to become the greatest threat in the 21st century against Peace and Security, in the region and worldwide.
[1] See Phares, Walid "The Syrian-Iranian Axis" Global Affairs. Spring 1992.
Professor Walid Phares is the author of Future Jihad. He is a Visiting Fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels and a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington.

Lebanon arrests 30 militants who allegedly plotted to attack Arab, European ambassadors
The Associated PressPublished: October 8, 2007
BEIRUT, Lebanon: Authorities have arrested some 30 Islamic militants who allegedly plotted to bomb the main police headquarters in Beirut and attack Arab and European ambassadors in Lebanon, court and security officials said Monday.
The 30 militants were detained nearly two months ago in and around the southern port city of Sidon when the Lebanese army was engaged in fierce fighting with militants of the al-Qaida-inspired Fatah Islam group in a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon.
Some of the arrested belong to Fatah Islam and the rest are members of another al-Qaida-inspired group, said the security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Interrogation of the detained militants showed that they planned to blow up the headquarters of the Internal Security Forces with an explosives-laden military vehicle, the officials said. Police have since tightened security around its headquarters in Beirut. Concrete blocks have been set up around the building and people living in the vicinity have been barred from parking their cars.
Officials said some of the militants were linked to a roadside bomb that struck a U.N. jeep in the village of Qassimiyeh in July near the southern port city of Tyre, causing damage to the vehicle but no casualties.
The group was also planning to help some 200 Fatah Islam members and 50 other al-Qaida-inspired militants escape from the central Roumieh prison east of Beirut, according to officials.Prison security guards, backed by a group of army commandos, foiled an escape attempt last Thursday when relatives of the prisoners tried to storm the prison, the officials said.
Separately, Lebanese authorities charged 20 suspected militants, 16 Palestinians and four Russians, with terrorism Friday for alleged membership in Fatah Islam.
The Russian nationals were the first non-Arabs charged by authorities with being among the Fatah Islam fighters who the Lebanese army finally crushed on Sept. 2 after a three-month siege that destroyed large parts of the Nahr el-Bared camp near the northern city of Tripoli.
In the past weeks, Lebanese authorities charged more than 330 people of different nationalities with terrorism and belonging to Fatah Islam.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese army granted permission Monday to more than 400 displaced families from Nahr el-Bared to return to the northern section of the camp, according to a statement released by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees.
Starting Wednesday, the displaced families will be allowed to return in groups of 100 families per day, it said. Some 30,000 refugees fled Nahr el-Bared during the battle between Fatah Islam and the Lebanese army.
The repatriation is being organized by UNRWA in collaboration with both Lebanese and Palestinian groups. The Lebanese army has said the camp will be completely cleared of gunmen, unexploded shells, mines and booby traps before anyone returns, and the government has promised to rebuild devastated parts of Nahr el-Bared.