October 22/07

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

Free Opinions & Special Reports
Islamo-Fascist Bigotry: The Persecution of Believers.By: Robert Spencer. October 21/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for October 21/07
Declared and Secret Meetings between Aoun and March 14 Leaders-Naharnet
Cheney Warns Iran and Syria over Nuclear Program and Lebanon-Naharnet
Top Lebanese Muslim cleric: US offering Lebanon military base or ...International Herald Tribune - France
Israeli FM Livni meets with UNIFIL commander in southern Lebanon.Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (press release)
Iran lambastes US base in Lebanon.PRESS TV

Presidential Elections Session to November!-Naharnet
Cautious Assessment by Lebanon's Media of EU Ministerial Mission-Naharnet

Turkey Offers Mediation Between Lebanon and Syria.Naharnet
Lebanon's press unmoved by EU troika.France24
Lebanon Elections Likely to Be Postponed.The Associated Press
North Korean official discusses ways to develop relations with Syria.International Herald Tribune
Iraq President Assails Syria’s Support for Turkish Cross-Border Threat.New York Times
'Warmonger' Syria rapped.Gulf Daily News
French, Italian, Spanish FMs to urge Lebanese factions to agree on ...International Herald Tribune
European FMs in Beirut: 'Things are Getting Better'-Naharnet

European FMs Meet Lebanese Leaders in Fresh Bid to End Political Crisis-Naharnet
Kouchner Raids Beirut Wedding Party-Naharnet

European ministers launch new bid to end Lebanon crisis.ABC Online
European FMs Stress Commitment to End Lebanon Crisis.Asharq Alawsat
European Foreign Ministers in Lebanon to Try to Break Political ...Voice of America
Syria Shuts Last Official Exit From Violence for Iraqis
.New York Times
Talabani condemns Syria PKK
Barak: Nuclear Iran will disrupt world order.Ynetnews
Lebanon Undergoes Parliamentary Crisis.NPR
Lebanon Election Set For Delay

Ex-deputy chief of staff: Next time we'll know how to handle Hizbullah.Ynetnews

Note on Turkey Kurdistan Trigger
By Walid Phares
The Turkish army is mobilizing to move inside Iraqi Kurdistan, and Turkish experts say the invasion may go as deep as 60 KM inside Iraqi Kurdish lands. The objective is to uproot the fighters of the PKK, but the Turks may also find themselves clashing with the Peshmergas. Hence intense diplomatic efforts are needed to avoid this Turkish-Kurdish war inside Iraq. Washington — along with the Kurdish leadership in Iraq — must dismantle the PKK positions and networks, or at the very least declare an intention to do so. This is the only way to convince Ankara not to engage in such an operation.
However, there could be more to this problem than Turkey's frustration with PKK cross-border activities. According to well-informed sources in the region, an intelligence campaign sponsored by the Iranian and Syrian regimes has so-far been successful in dragging Turkey into their present position. In fact, the PKK has been penetrated by the intelligence services since the 1990's when they were based inside Syria and the Bekaa valley of Lebanon. Tehran and Damascus have perhaps manipulated their previous influences to trigger this brewing conflict. (A more comprehensive analysis will follow soon)

Cheney Warns Iran and Syria over Nuclear Program and Lebanon
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday the United States would not permit Iran to get nuclear weapons and accused Syria of trying to undermine free presidential elections in Lebanon. He pledged "serious consequences" if Iran continues to enrich uranium. Cheney, considered the toughest hardliner on Iran in the U.S. administration, did not specify what measures might be taken against Tehran however, and did not mention the possibility of military action. "The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences," he said in a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"The United States joins other nations in sending a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon," said the hawkish Cheney, who reportedly favors military strikes against the Islamic republic. "Our country and the entire international community cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its most aggressive ambitions," he said, accusing Iran anew of abetting attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq. Iran is "the world's most active state sponsor of terror," added Cheney, after President George Bush warned last week that a nuclear-equipped Iran evoked the threat of "World War III." Cheney also rebuffed U.S. critics who want a swift end to the war in Iraq. "We're going to complete the mission so that another generation of Americans does not need to go back and do it again," he said.
Cheney's terminology recalled the warnings issued in 2002 by the U.N. Security Council that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein faced "serious consequences" if he failed to come clean on his alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. Several U.S. media reports have said that Cheney is encouraging Bush to consider missile strikes that could go beyond Iranian nuclear facilities to take in command-and-control systems of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
Campaigning for the 2008 White House nomination, top Republicans and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton insist that they will never tolerate Iran being in a position to menace its neighbors and Israel with atomic arms. Clinton last month voted for a Senate resolution that declared the Revolutionary Guards a terror organization -- a step that her Democratic rival Barack Obama said represented a "blank check" for Bush to wage war on Iran. Iran, which insists it only wants peaceful nuclear energy, has brushed aside U.S. warnings, and announced Saturday that its top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani had resigned and was being replaced by an ally of hard line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"Iran is pursuing technology that can be used to develop nuclear weapons. The world knows this," Cheney said, noting that Iran had refused to stop enriching uranium despite two rounds of sanctions from the U.N. Security Council. He said "the regime continues to do so, and continues to practice delay and deception in an obvious attempt to buy time." Cheney's new warning came five months after he declared from the hangar deck of a powerfully-armed U.S. aircraft carrier in the Gulf that the United States would not let Iran acquire nuclear arms. Middle East experts who spoke at the Washington Institute conference after Cheney's speech noted that US rhetoric against Iran was being sharply escalated. "The language on Iran is quite significant," former Middle East presidential envoy Dennis Ross said.
"That's very strong words and it does have implications," he said. Cheney also accused Syria of using "bribery and intimidation" to undermine a free vote in Lebanon's upcoming presidential election. "Lebanon has the right to conduct the upcoming elections free of any foreign interference," he said, insisting that Washington would work with its allies "to preserve Lebanon's hard-won independence and to defeat the forces of extremism and terror."(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 21 Oct 07, 19:57

Declared and Secret Meetings between Aoun and March 14 Leaders
A Chain of hastily organized meetings could result in a new political approach to the forthcoming presidential elections, sources told Naharnet.
Ex-President Amin Gemayel, the supreme leader of the Phalange Party, met Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun at joseph Ghsoub's residence in Rabweh Sunday evening. The meeting followed talks earlier in the day between Aoun and MP George Adwan, deputy chairman of the Lebanese Forces Executive Authority.
Contacts are underway to arrange meetings for Aoun with al-Moustaqbal Movement leader MP Saad Hariri, and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat upon the latter's return from a visit to the United States. The chain of meetings followed efforts in the past few days to arrange consensus on a presidential candidate and coincides with efforts by a joint opposition-majority committee trying to achieve the same goal under the auspices of Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir.
Beirut, 21 Oct 07, 20:57

Iran lambastes US base in Lebanon
Sun, 21 Oct 2007 19:40:46
Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman
The Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman has lambasted a US plan to establish military bases in Lebanon describing it as 'destructive'. Mohammad Ali Hosseini said the US blatant meddling in Lebanon's internal affairs was the root cause of the country's political crisis. He voiced Iran's support for initiatives which would ensure security and stability in the region and bring different factions together. Hosseini described plans for setting up a US military base in Lebanon as destructive and said the US was trying to stir up tension in the country through its warmongering policies while the Lebanese factions support a diplomatic approach. Referring to Turkey's possible incursion into northern Iraq, Hosseini said Iran supports a diplomatic approach to the issue and added that a military action would only worsen the situation. The Iranian spokesman expressed concern over the reports that US forces are arming terrorist groups inside and outside of Iraq. Hosseini added that there is no need for Iran's mediation in the Iraq-Turkey dispute since the two countries have diplomatic relations.

Presidential Elections Session to November!
A Parliamentary session set for Tuesday to elect a successor to President Emile Lahoud would probably be postponed in light of a tacit agreement between the Hizbullah-led opposition and the ruling majority to give more time for consensus on a candidate, Parliamentary sources told Naharnet. The sources said Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri was considering rescheduling the session for the first 10 days of November. "Nov. 6 appears to be the chosen date for the session," a ranking Parliamentary source said. However, he noted, that Berri's "last choice could be Nov. 13 to exhaust all possible efforts aimed at reaching an agreement on a consensus presidential candidate."The Daily newspaper an-Nahar, in a sub headline for its main story, referred to a "trend to postpone Tuesday's (Parliamentary) session."
The pan-Arab Daily al-Hayat also reported that the session would be postponed in light of the "positive atmosphere" that prevailed over the political spectrum following a meeting late Friday between Berri and Parliamentary Majority leader Saad Hariri.
Nevertheless, The remaining issue is what procedure would Berri adopt to enforce the postponement? Would the speaker issue a statement before the Tuesday schedule announcing that the session was re-scheduled, or would he wait for quorum not to be achieved then issue a statement saying the session was re-scheduled due to lack of Quorum?
The March 14 majority prefers a statement in advance issued by Berri announcing re-scheduling the session, because it does not want its MPs, bastioned at the Phoenecia Hotel to avoid the threat of assassination, to venture out and attend a parliamentary session that would not be convened, a source told Naharnet.
"That would be too big a risk for nothing," the source added.
The foreign ministers of France, Spain and Italy called on the hotel-confined majority MPs late Saturday to voice support for "your courage and commitment to democracy." French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said prior to the visit that he and his colleagues would call on the Majority MPs who are "sentenced to death" by the unidentified assailants who have been targeting anti-Syrian legislators in Lebanon.
Kouchner, Italy's Massimo D'Alema and Spain's Miguel Angel Moratinos said after their one-day mission in Beirut and talks with leaders of the feuding factions that peace in Lebanon sets the stage for peace in the Middle East. The three called for holding presidential elections without foreign intervention and in line with Lebanon's constitution. They called on the various factions to reach agreement on a consensus presidential candidate to avoid power vacuum that could threaten Lebanon's stability. Their mission in Beirut has development a belief that things are getting better, the European Ministers said.
During their stay in Beirut the three met Berri, a leading member of the Hizbullah-led opposition, Prime Minister Fouad Saniora as well as politicians who had participated in talks hosted by Paris to sponsor dialogue between the Lebanese factions. They also held a 30-minute conclave with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir and visited their respective nations' battalions serving with the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The three ministers told a press conference late Saturday that they were leaving with a sense that things are moving in the right direction as far as the presidential election is concerned.
"We came out of our meeting with the political leaders with the feeling that things are getting better, it seems to us that there is some movement forward," Kouchner said. He also stressed that the three ministers had not come to Lebanon to impose a candidate but to prod the feuding factions toward reaching agreement and sparing the country further chaos. "This evening we met the political leaders of all the major parties to which we repeated the message that we didn't come here to discuss names," Kouchner said. "We would like to see a consensus candidate or the name of one or more candidates submitted to parliament."
Speaking earlier at a press conference at UNIFIL's headquarters in southern Lebanon, Moratinos termed the visit "historic". "The three Euro-Mediterranean countries came together with the same purpose -- to help assist and to commit themselves for peace and stability in Lebanon," he said. "It's a very strong sign that the three countries come at a very timely moment where Lebanon has to look forward for hope and peace in Lebanon and the region," he added. Beirut, 21 Oct 07, 09:28

Cautious Assessment by Lebanon's Media of EU Ministerial Mission
Lebanon's leading newspapers said on Sunday that a visit by a troika of EU ministers aimed at breaking a months-long political deadlock has failed to achieve a breakthrough. "The three ministers don't have Alexander the Great's sword to cut through Lebanon's Gordian knot," said the independent daily al-Anwar following Saturday's visit by the foreign ministers of France, Italy and Spain.  "This was a very laudable visit, but it's not enough to pave the way to the restoration of normal politics in Lebanon," wrote the An-Nahar daily, which is close to the Western-backed parliamentary majority. The opposition daily Al-Diyar said "the three ministers' message cannot push the political machine towards an agreement because there are multiple factors to the political crisis, which depend on regional issues."
The ministers met the leaders of rival Lebanese factions from the anti-Syrian, pro-government camp and the opposition led by the militant Hizbullah group, which is backed by both Syria and Iran. Their visit came days before a deadlocked parliament is expected to convene on Tuesday for a vote to elect a new president, although analysts say the meeting is unlikely to go ahead. "We came out of our meeting with the political leaders with the feeling that things are getting better, it seems to us that there is some movement forward," France's Bernard Kouchner said. However, Al-Diyar said a positive climate "would not be enough to cause great change and a real partnership between the majority and the opposition".(AFP) Beirut, 21 Oct 07, 12:12

Turkey Offers Mediation Between Lebanon and Syria
Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan has offered Ankara's mediation to improve relations between Lebanon and Syria.
The pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat reported that Babacan made the offer to Premier Fouad Saniora during a dinner meeting hosted by the Lebanese leader in Beirut Friday. Saniora, according to the report, did not comment on the Turkish foreign minister's offer, but rather briefed his guest on the Beirut-Damascus relations during the past two years. The report said Ankara, in light of its developing relations with Damascus, is ready to play a role in mending fences between Lebanon and Syria.
Saniora "neither rejected the mediation nor accepted it," the report said. It added that he briefed Babacn on "the main topics of difference, including border demarcation and control and Lebanon's interest in combating smuggling" in of weapons. Saniora also briefed Babacan on the dispute regarding sovereignty over the Shebaa Farms region that has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 six-day war against Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Saniora, the report added, also explained to his Turkish guest the "impact" of Syria's intervention in Lebanon's politics, noting that "such persisting intervention is not accepted."Saniora also did not comment on Babacan's request for support of Ankara's decision to launch military attacks against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. However, the permier reiterated Lebanon's standard policy that objects to the violation of the sovereignty of any Arab state, noting Beirut's stands during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the Israeli air raid on Syria. Beirut, 21 Oct 07, 10:08

European FMs in Beirut: 'Things are Getting Better'
The foreign ministers of France, Italy and Spain said after a series of meetings with Lebanon's feuding leaders on Saturday that they were leaving with the feeling that things are getting better. France's Bernard Kouchner, Italy's Massimo D'Alema and Spain's Miguel Angel Moratinos met with Speaker Nabih Berri, a leading member of the Hizbullah-led opposition, and with Prime Minister Fouad Saniora in hopes of a breakthrough just days before parliament is to convene on Oct. 23 for a vote on the presidency. They also held a 30-minute conclave with Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, the influential leader of the Maronite Christian community, from which the president is usually drawn, and with various other political leaders. The three ministers told a press conference late Saturday that they were leaving with a sense that things were moving in the right direction as far as the presidential election was concerned.
"We came out of our meeting with the political leaders with the feeling that things are getting better, it seems to us that there is some movement forward," Kouchner said. He also stressed that the three ministers had not come to Lebanon to impose a candidate but to prod the feuding factions toward reaching agreement and sparing the country further chaos. "This evening we met the political leaders of all the major parties to which we repeated the message that we didn't come here to discuss names," Kouchner said. "We would like to see a consensus candidate or the name of one or more candidates submitted to parliament."
Speaking earlier at a press conference at the U.N. headquarters in southern Lebanon, where the three ministers visited their contingents, Moratinos qualified the visit as "historic". "The three Euro-Mediterranean countries came together with the same purpose -- to help assist and to commit themselves for peace and stability in Lebanon," he said. "It's a very strong sign that the three countries come at a very timely moment where Lebanon has to look forward for hope and peace in Lebanon and the region."
Their visit comes as parliament prepares to convene Tuesday to pick a successor to the current pro-Syrian head of state Emile Lahoud, whose term ends on November 24. A first meeting on September 24 was postponed due to disagreement among the ruling majority and the opposition and it is all but a given that Tuesday's session will also not take place. Ziad Baroud, a legal expert, said the ministers' visit was aimed at sending a message to the warring parties that Europe was committed to helping end the standoff that marks the country's worst political crisis since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.
"Their visit is a message from Europe that it stands by Lebanon and not by just one community in the country, and that is very positive," he told AFP. "However, the game is not over and no one should believe that Europe has a magic wand."
The three ministers on Saturday also were to visit more than 40 MPs cooped up at a luxury Beirut hotel for security reasons, before wrapping up their visit.
They also laid wreaths at the tomb of MP Antoine Ghanem, who was killed along with five others by a car bomb last month, just days before the first parliamentary session. That session was postponed until Tuesday because of a lack of consensus among the ruling majority and the opposition, which includes factions backed by Syria and Iran. Ghanem was the sixth lawmaker to be killed since 2005 in attacks blamed by the ruling coalition on Syria, which has denied involvement.
Saniora's government has been paralysed since opposition forces withdrew six ministers from the cabinet in November 2006 in a bid to gain more representation in government. Fears are running high that the standoff over the presidency could lead to two rival governments, a grim reminder of the end of the 1975-1990 civil war when two competing administrations battled it out.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 20 Oct 07, 14:46

Iraq President Assails Syria’s Support for Turkish Cross-Border Threat
Published: October 21, 2007
BAGHDAD, Oct. 20 — President Jalal Talabani of Iraq has criticized Syria for supporting Turkey’s threat to carry out military attacks against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. “Usually I refrain from commenting on Syrian positions to maintain our historical good relations,” Mr. Talabani, himself a Kurd, said in the interview, published Saturday in the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. “But this time I cannot support this crossing of a red line.” The tensions have already unnerved world oil markets. The price of crude oil hit a record high Thursday, before sliding 87 cents to close at $88.60 a barrel in New York on Friday.“I think these statements are dangerous and contradict the soul of Arabic solidarity,” Mr. Talabani said in the interview. Mr. Talabani’s comments were in reference to Mr. Assad’s endorsement of the Turkish Parliament’s decision on Wednesday to authorize cross-border incursions against Kurdish rebels. Turkey, however, has said that no strikes are imminent. The rebels, known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., use bases along the mountainous border to stage attacks inside Turkey in a separatist struggle that has continued for decades. Syria also has a large Kurdish minority and, like Turkey, fears that the substantial autonomy that Kurds inside Iraq have won will impel Kurds in Syria to seek similar concessions, or even independence. Turkey says about 3,000 rebels seeking an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey now operate out of bases in Iraq. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the P.K.K. threatened in a telephone interview on Saturday that the group would retaliate against the Turkish oil infrastructure if Turkey attacked its bases. The spokesman, Abdul Rahaman Jaderi, said the group would strike a pipeline that transports Iraqi oil to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. “Turkey makes money from Iraqi oil pipelines and buys weapons to attack us,” he said.
Violence continued inside Iraq when a roadside bomb detonated Saturday morning beside a crowded minibus, killing three people and wounding nine on a highway south of Baghdad. An American soldier was killed and another eight were wounded in an ambush in Baghdad, the United States military said.
Also Saturday, the military said soldiers near the city of Tarmiya, north of Baghdad, had discovered a large cache of homemade explosives stored in piles of 100-pound bags and totaling more than 18 tons in one of the largest such finds of the war. Ordnance specialists detonated the stockpile. “The crater from the blast measured 100 feet wide, 100 feet long and 30 feet deep,” the military news release said.
**Ahmad Fadam contributed reporting.

North Korean official discusses ways to develop relations with Syria
The Associated PressPublished: October 20, 2007
DAMASCUS, Syria: A high-level North Korean official held talks in Damascus with senior officials of Syria's ruling Baath Party on ways to develop relations between the two countries, Syria's official news agency reported. The visit by Choe Thae Bok, the visiting speaker of North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament, comes amid lingering suspicions that North Korea may be providing nuclear assistance to Syria. Israeli warplanes struck a target in Syria on Sept. 6., and Western news media have quoted unidentified U.S. officials as saying the strike hit some sort of nuclear facility linked to North Korea, which is now in the process of dismantling its nuclear weapons program. On Friday, The Washington Post cited American officials as saying the site had characteristics of a small but substantial nuclear reactor similar to North Korea's facility. Syria said an unused military building was hit.
North Korea provides missile technology to Syria but has strongly denied accusations that it spreads its nuclear expertise beyond its borders. Syria also has denied receiving any North Korean nuclear help or embarking on any nuclear program. Turkish bid to pursue Kurds poses quandary for IraqLucky Dube, South African reggae star, is killed in carjackingSecurity contractors shoot at taxi, wounding 3 iraqis. The two countries have accused U.S. officials of spreading the allegations for political reasons. Choe held separate talks in Damascus with Abdullah al-Ahmar and Mohammed Saeed Bkheitan, both assistant heads of the Baath Party command, and reaffirmed support for Syria's position in seeking to regain its lost territory, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported. In the meeting with al-Ahmar, the two discussed "the challenges and pressures and what the policies of aggression, occupation and hegemony are causing in threats to security and stability in both regions and around the world," SANA said. Al-Ahmar backed North Korea's "choice to peacefully reunite" the two Koreas, while Choe expressed support for Syria's efforts to regain its occupied territory "and confront the external schemes surrounding the region." In the meeting with Bkheitan, the two discussed "strengthening relations between the two countries and their two parties in addition to the situation in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula."SANA also said Choe in his meeting with Bkheitan "expressed his country's support for Syria's stand and its legitimate right in regaining its occupied territory," a reference to the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.
Both sides stressed the importance of exchanging visits "and working on achieving the requirements of security and stability in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula."North Korean state media said Choe's overseas trip will include a visit to Italy. Defense minister, UN Secretary-General Ki-moon discuss Syrian and Iranian efforts to rearm Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon

Yitzhak Benhorin Latest

10.20.07, 16:58 / Israel News
WASHINGTON – Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Ban Ki-moon on Friday that world order would be disrupted if Iran obtains nuclear weapons.
During their meeting at UN headquarters in New York, Barak and the UN secretary-general discussed Syrian and Iranian efforts to rearm Hizbullah in Lebanon.
The Israeli defense minister said that the terror group has resumed its activity in southern Lebanon in areas that are under UNIFIL's control.
Barak, who described the meeting as "good," thanked Ki-moon for the UN activities in Lebanon and its efforts to release captive IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. The meeting with the secretary-general was the last in a series of meetings Barak held on his three-day visit to the US. The defense minister met with President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, among others.

Top Lebanese Muslim cleric: U.S. offering Lebanon military base or face new strife
The Associated PressPublished: October 21, 2007
BEIRUT, Lebanon: The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush wants the Lebanese to choose between having their country turn into an American military base or face a new strife, Lebanon's top Shiite Muslim cleric alleged Sunday.
The allegation by Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah came three days after a senior Pentagon official said the U.S. military would like to see a "strategic partnership" with Lebanon's army to strengthen the country's forces so that the militant Hezbollah group would have no excuse to bear arms.
"We warn that the U.S. administration is offering the Lebanese a choice either to accept their country being turned into a (U.S.) military, security and political base, or to expect a new strife," Fadlallah said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press.
Eric Edelman, U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, spoke about a "strategic partnership" with Lebanon's army in an interview aired on Lebanese television Thursday, two days after he held talks in Beirut on military cooperation with Western-backed Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and other officials.
Edelman did not say that the U.S. government wants to build a military base in Lebanon.
Today in Africa & Middle East
Fadlallah, the top religious authority for Lebanon's 1.2 million Shiites, said the Lebanese army was aware of attempts to link U.S. military aid to Lebanon to confronting the guerrilla group and was determined in "rejecting strife and rejecting any restrictions on its armament."
Since last year's war between the Shiite militant group Hezbollah and Israel, the United States has sharply increased its military assistance to Lebanon to US$270 million in 2007 — more than five times the amount provided a year ago — in a show of support to Saniora's government.
Fadlallah was skeptical about U.S. military aid to the Lebanese army.
"The Lebanese, who have seen the American failure in Iraq and felt the American involvement with Israel in last year's war against Lebanon ... must be aware that what the administration of President Bush is aiming at is something else other than supporting the Lebanese army," Fadlallah said.
"It (U.S. Administration) is working to make Lebanon a new base for chaos and another position for NATO in order to exert pressure on regional and international powers which disobeyed its decisions and policies," the cleric added in a clear reference to Iran and Syria.
Also Sunday, Hezbollah's deputy leader, Sheik Naim Kassem, warned that the establishment of a U.S. military base would amount to "a hostile act" against Lebanon.
Hezbollah also has denounced Edelman's call for a U.S. "strategic partnership" with Lebanon's army, saying American attempts to boost military ties were a ploy for domination and could turn the country into another Iraq.
Some in Lebanon have expressed fears that a foreign military presence could attract al-Qaida and other militants, as has happened in Iraq.

FM Livni meets with UNIFIL commander in southern Lebanon
21 Oct 2007
FM Livni met with Major-General Graziano, UNIFIL commander in southern Lebanon, and discussed with him UNFIL's performance and the situation in southern Lebanon.
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni met with Major-General Claudio Graziano, force commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), to discuss UNFIL's performance and the situation in southern Lebanon. FM Livni opened the discussion by stating that "Even though it is not part of the UNIFIL mandate, receiving a sign of life from our abducted soldiers and their subsequent release is a primary objective that must be fully implemented". FM Livni stressed that "Continued smuggling of weapons and ammunition from Syria damages UNFIL's ability to dismantle Hizbullah's armaments, and will do so in the future as well if the smuggling continues.FM Livni expressed her personal appreciation of Major-General Graziano's performance of his duties, stating that "The population of Israel assesses UNIFIL's conduct in southern Lebanon, and at the same time examines the actions of the international community. There is no doubt that the change in the situation in southern Lebanon and the movement of Hizbullah northwards, away from the border, is a direct response to activities carried out by UNIFIL and the Lebanese army. It is imperative that these activities continue".

Islamo-Fascist Bigotry: The Persecution of Believers
By Robert Spencer | Friday, October 19, 2007
Islamic jihad violence has captured worldwide attention when focused on unbelievers – in the Twin Towers, as well as in London, Madrid, Bali, and in so many other places. But the jihadists don’t hesitate to target fellow Muslims as well, when they regard them as insufficiently Islamic.
The most notorious example of this throughout Islamic history is the Sunni-Shi’ite strife that has broken out in many times and places – and today in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Sunni suicide killers and Shi’ite death squads have targeted one another since the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Nor have they hesitated to target holy sites: Sunni jihadists destroyed the tenth-century Shi’ite Al-Askari Mosque in Samarra, Iraq, in a two bombings in 2006 and 2007. Some estimate that 4,000 have been killed in Sunni-Shi’ite strife in Pakistan since the late 1980s, and in Afghanistan, while the Taliban was in power they waged relentless jihad warfare against the Shi’ite Hazaras.
The Qur’an forbids a Muslim to kill a fellow believer intentionally (4:92), but both sides justify these conflicts by appealing to the Islamic practice of takfir: the declaration that, because of some doctrinal deviation, some group of Muslims are not actually Muslims at all, and their blood can lawfully be shed. One of the chief characteristics of modern day Salafist movements – that is, movements to restore the purity of Islam – is their frequent use of takfir and subsequent targeting of those whom everyone in the world except they themselves would regard as their fellow Muslims. This phenomenon is playing out all over the world today, as Wahhabis and other Salafist preachers take an Islamic hardline into areas where a more relaxed cultural Islam has long prevailed. The result is often violent. In fact, the Algerian sociologist Marieme Helie Lucas explains that the controversial term “Islamo-Fascism” was “initially coined by Algerian people struggling for democracy, against armed fundamentalist forces decimating people in our country, then later operating in Europe, where a number of us had taken refuge.” These pro-democracy Algerians were, of course, Muslims – Muslims who were massacred by jihadists in the 1990s for being insufficiently Islamic. Over 150,000 were killed.
In November 2003, a Somali journalist named Bashir Goth complained in the Addis Tribune about a group of Islamic clerics, the “Authority for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,” who were “trying to impose draconian moral codes on Somaliland citizens.” Goth was himself a Muslim, but he objected to the Wahhabi Islam that Saudi preachers were bringing into Somalia.
Wahhabism, said Goth, was “an austere and closed school of thought,” deviating from the established schools of Islamic jurisprudence. “Wahhabism,” according to Goth, “is the only school that compels its followers strictly to observe Islamic rituals, such as the five prayers, under pain of flogging, and for the enforcement of public morals to a degree unprecedented in the history of Islam.” He characterized it as “a closed mind sect that turned Islam into a fragile creed that lives in constant fear of children’s toys and games such as Barbie dolls and Pokemon.” Wahhabi clerics, Goth noted, were challenging Somali Muslims: “They want to tell us that over the LAST 14 CENTURIES, our people have been practicing the wrong religion; that since the dawn of Islam, Somali people had lived in vain, worshipped in vain and died in vain. God help them, they all will be burned in hell because they did not follow the correct path -- Wahhabism.”
Their devotion to this “correct path” led them to despise numerous manifestations of Somali culture, despite its Islamic character. “These people,” Goth continued, “are out to eradicate our culture, our traditions, our songs, our poetry and our folklore dances….If we let them have their way, these prophets of ‘purity’ would soon be on a mission to destroy what has remained of our culture.” He listed several female Somali singers, warning that “the cassettes of their songs will be burned in the streets. Just remember Taliban.” Goth went on to explain that the jihadists also wanted to eliminate co-ed schools and compel Somali girls to go out only “fully shrouded with black from head to toe.”
The Wahhabi-influenced Islamic Courts Union that held power in Mogadishu for seven months in 2006 bore out Bashir Goth’s fears. It criticized indigenous Somali practices as not sufficiently Islamic. One militia commander, Mohamed Ali Aden, explained: “We’ve neglected God’s verses for so long. We want our women veiled and we want them at home. We men have to grow our beards.” The Courts forbade music (which is prohibited according to strict Islamic law), dancing and soccer within days of taking power. Women began to don Saudi dress, which covered their faces, rather than traditional Somali garb, which did not.
ICU militiamen were ready to enforce Islamic law with an iron fist: after banning all movies and television viewing, jihadists shot and killed two people who were watching a World Cup soccer match in early July. Raids in Mogadishu led to sixty arrests for the crime of movie-watching. Islamic Courts militiamen also raided a wedding reception in Mogadishu because men and women were attending the celebration together and music was playing. “We had warned the family,” explained Sheikh Iise Salad of the ICU, “not to include in their ceremony what is not allowed by the sharia law. This includes the mixing of men and women and playing music. That is why we raided and took their equipment. What was going there was un-Islamic.” In September 2006, the ICU closed down Radio Jowhar, a station in a town about fifty miles from Mogadishu, because it was playing love songs. ICU Sheikh Mohamed Mohamoud Abdirahman explained that the programming was “un-Islamic.” The station was later allowed to return to the airwaves, without music. The Islamic Courts even decreed that Muslims who did not perform the five daily prayers would be executed.
Salafists target Muslims they regard as insufficiently Islamic also in Darfur, where Arab Muslims attack non-Arab Muslims whose Islam is closer to the cultural version that prevailed in Somalia than to Wahhabi austerity. Dr. Hassan Al-‘Audha of the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood explained in July 2007 that “we are not zealous for this land because of the rivers that flow in it. We are zealous for it because it is the land of Islam.” Another Sudanese leader situation the activities of the brutal Janjaweed militia within the larger struggle of the Muslims against the infidels: “Those scumbags want to play with us? They want to come to the children of Darfur? The children of Darfur will eat them alive. By Allah, there are some ferocious tribes there. They call them Janjaweed, and they want to attack them. There is a tribe called ‘Al-Masiriya.’ Are they men or not? By Allah, when we ride horses and make these battle cries... By Allah, the infidels die of fear. They die of fear.” In 2004, Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir charged that international efforts to aid Darfur were actually targeting Islam. Referring to the 1990s Sudanese jihad against the Christians in the southern part of the country, he said: “The door of the jihad is still open and if it has been closed in the south it will be opened in Darfur.”
That jihad in Darfur features Muslims targeting Muslims. Such episodes, whether in Somalia, Darfur, or anywhere else, emphasize the need for peaceful Muslims to stand up strongly, in deed as well as word, against global jihadist violence. The sword of takfir ought to cut both ways, with peaceful Muslims willing to distinguish themselves from their bloody-minded coreligionists, and to repudiate their murders not just of fellow Muslims but of non-Muslims also.
Meanwhile, Islamic jihadists and Sharia supremacists continue, with increasing confidence and brutality, to impose – violently – their vision of Islam upon their coreligionists.
***Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Religion of Peace?.

Life After Death
By: Joseph Hitti
New England Americans for Lebanon
Boston, Massachusetts
On the occasion of the 24th commemoration of the bombing of the US Marines Barracks in Beirut (October 23, 1983) by Hezbollah, we re-post the 2003 piece below since it captures the mood of the transformation in US foreign policy that took place after 2001. Syria and Hezbollah are no longer the “factor of stability” that Richard Murphy and Edward Djeredjian of the US State Department were so fond of telling the Lebanese between 1975 and 2003; it became an “occupation”. And the US no longer runs away out of fear of Syria and Hezbollah, like Ronald Reagan did in 1983; today the West is fighting tooth and nail to rein in the Iranian appendage Hezbollah and restore normal life to Lebanon. The Lebanese people are tired of the wars of others on their soil; Western intervention through the UN is Lebanon’s only hope.
To the neo-Lebanese nationalists who have embraced Hezbollah as a “national resistance”, we say that no one wants to eliminate the Shiites of Lebanon. They are a pillar of Lebanese society and a full-fledged community among those that constitute the Lebanese nation.
But there is a huge difference between Hezbollah and the Shiite community. Hezbollah, the killer of peacekeepers, the kidnapper and murderer of ministers, journalists, teachers, priests, nuns and nurses, the bomber of embassies, universities and cultural centers, the hijacker of planes, the usurper of national Lebanese institutions, the assassin of university presidents, the Iranian and Syrian agent, the Islamic fundamentalist movement, the hater of the West, of Christians and Jews, and all of Hezbollah’s other constitutive attributes, cannot be swept under the rug. Hezbollah may have transformed itself in 20 years from a terrorist organization into a terrorist political organization, but it remains a terrorist organization that negotiates with its declared enemy Israel but denies the sovereign State of Lebanon the right to do so; it uses its 20,000 missiles as a negotiating instrument; and it occupies large swaths of Lebanese territory where the State is denied entry. Hezbollah must be held accountable for its actions, those of today and those of 20 years ago. Hezbollah’s actions in the early 1980s as the proxy of Syria and Iran to cleanse Lebanon of any Western presence and deliver the country to the Syrian occupation have indeed delayed a solution to the Lebanese crisis for another quarter of a century. Hezbollah does not represent the true aspirations of the Lebanese Shiites; it is a caricature of that community which it imposes on them with Iranian money and ideology, and Syrian criminality. Cut the Iranian purse and sever the Syrian link, and the Lebanese Shiite community will finally be itself to discard the Hezbollah anomaly.

October 23, 2003
It has been 20 years this October 23d since the suicide truck bombing of the US Marines barracks in Beirut. There is nothing sacred about the number 20 but we humans like round numbers, and so this 20th anniversary of Islamic bombing of the US Marines Barracks in Beirut on a Sunday morning in 1983 is more special than, say, last year's 19th anniversary. Not that the event is less important than the anniversary. I actually remember it every year, because it left a deep scar in me.
But beyond the anniversaries, this year the memory has indeed a very special place because it has mutated from one of complete, hopeless, bottomless sorrow and sadness to one in which the sorrow, for the first time in 20 years, has in the words of Khalil Gibran showed us its other face, its alter ego, hope! As Khalil Gibran said "The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain." And as the West slowly but surely makes a U-turn, comes to terms with its often-stated but rarely practiced convictions, and begins to seriously fight terrorism, Lebanon and the people of Lebanon cannot help but feel gleeful. Yes, we told you so.
For 30 years the Lebanese people were alone, with bombs in their streets and shrapnel in the bodies of their children, with massacres and destruction, shelling, kidnapping, and sniping. They tried to tell the world that theirs was not a civil war, but the war of terror on gentility, the war of backwardness on civility, of anarchy on stability, of totalitarianism on democracy, of darkness on enlightenment. They tried to tell the world that their land and their history were, for better or for worse, the fault line where the seeds of coming wars were being sown that will come knocking at their doors in the not so distant future. But no one listened, even when the US Marines and the French paratroopers were blown to shreds, or when the US ambassador Francis Meloy and the French Ambassador Louis Delamare were gunned down in the streets of Beirut under the watchful eyes of the Syrian "peacekeepers", or when their own journalists, clergymen, teachers, and diplomats were being snatched off the streets of Beirut to be chained for years in dingy basements. The world insisted that this was a "civil war", even as every symbol of global East-meets-West decency that Lebanon harbored for decades was being shredded to pieces through the terror grinder of Syria, Iran, and their many proxies. Even as embassies were being shut down, Western civilians were being evacuated, schools were being closed, and peacekeeping armies were being blown up, it was the fault of the Lebanese people for being so close to Palestine, and for having borders with Israel and Syria. It was the fault of the Lebanese for being the proxy victims, the scapegoat, the accidental actors in a play not of their making. Lebanon was even accused of being an artificial nation, made of so many tribes - since when was diversity a shame, and pluralism a sin? - Because its history and geography did not allow a single group from "ethnically-cleansing" the others, or converting them to one religion. Lebanon was a Bosnia-Herzegovina a couple of decades too early for the sensibilities of the West to wake up from their comfortable slumber.
And so now the hens have come home to roost. Things have changed and the tables have been turned. For the first time in 20 years, the US Administration is calling the Syrians occupiers. For the first time in 20 years, the US is not running away from the suicide bombings and the acts of terror, but is pursuing them in every far corner of the world. For the first time in 20 years, there will be no retreat from Beirut or Baghdad, because the message is no longer "Bomb them and they will retreat". The message today is "No matter the body bags or the bombs, we will hound you till the end." For the first time in 20 years, State Department did not object to an anti-Syrian piece of legislation and the US Congress is voting a law to hold those behind the terrorists accountable for their acts. For the first time in 20 years the West has finally recognized that what happened in Beirut that Sunday morning had nothing to do with the liberation of Palestine or with what Israel was doing to the Palestinian people. Rather, that Sunday morning was a pure act of hatred, seated deep in the civilizational clash that makes certain people afraid of the modern world. That truck bomb was a pure act of terror, distilled of all the excuses and pretexts that are uttered these days to justify and promote another retreat in front of the terrorist threat. That Sunday morning bombing was a direct precursor for that Tuesday Sept 11 bombing.
For we need to remember why the Marines came in the first place to Beirut that year, accompanied by their Allies, the French, the Italians and the British as the Multi-National Force (MNF). We need to remind Jacques Chirac of France that 56 of his own paratroopers were also blown up at exactly the same time as 241 US Marines were being killed in their sleep, about half a mile away. The MNF was not a force of occupation. The MNF was not there looking for weapons of Mass Destruction. The MNF was not fighting any war. In fact, the soldiers of the MNF were forbidden from loading their guns. The MNF was there to supervise the evacuation of Yasser Arafat's PLO from Beirut, after he had declared that the road to Palestine goes - with much looting, raping, pillaging, killing, mass-murdering - through Beirut. And when the time came to face up to reality, no Arab brother was there to help him out, not even the Syrians. Not even the Saudis. And not even the Iranians. And that is why the Americans and the Europeans had come to Beirut. To save the hide of an Arab. To save a city from the Israeli siege that no Arab "brother", especially Syria, dared to oppose.
And so Lebanon is today the winner. Lebanon was right and everyone else was wrong. The Lebanese people now can, but may choose to have the decency not to, engage in academic debates and make moral judgments about the appropriateness of invading Iraq as a component of the war against terrorism. Or the effectiveness of targeted assassinations as a means to fight Yasser Arafat. Or whether a country such as Israel that cannot control its Palestinians is, like Lebanon of the 1970s and 1980s, an artificial or uncivilized country with many tribes that just can't "sit down and agree" on how to deal with a mortal threat in its midst. Or whether the US government's restrictions on the civil liberties of its citizens is the moral equivalent of General Aoun's government trying to enforce the law by shutting down the illegal harbors of the warlords along the Lebanese coast. Or whether Syria's behavior in opening its borders to Jihadists flocking into Iraq to fight the imperialist American crusaders is really exactly the same as Syria's opening its borders in the early 1970s to Al-Saika, the Yarmuk Brigades, or the Palestine Liberation Army to enter into Lebanon and destabilize the isolationist Lebanese government and kill the indigenous crusaders of Lebanon.
It took 30 years and September 11 for the West to comprehend what Lebanon had gone through, place its tragedy in the right context and stop the condescending sermonizing. Baghdad, you owe Beirut a big thank you because the US has learned a lot from its retreat that year. The Lebanese people were alone that year, and so were the Marines when their government withdrew in the face of their killers. Today, they are no longer alone. Their pain is everyone's pain, and the end of the tunnel, even if it remains distant, is now bigger and more crowded. But most of all we owe the Marines who died in their sleep on that Sunday morning in Beirut a huge debt. The debt of having being the accidental victims, and like Lebanon, they were the canaries in the mine. But no one was listening then. Today the whole world is listening.