October 24/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 12,35-38. Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master's return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.

Free Opinions & Special Reports
A Caliph's frustration with his emirs.By: Dr. Walid Phares. Counterterrorism Blog. October 23/07
Efforts to resolve Lebanon's crisis may be too little, too late.The Daily Star. October 23/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for October 23/07
A last chance for reconciliation.Gulf News
Aoun Labels Meeting with Gemayel 'Exellent'.Naharnet
Reconciliation efforts in Lebanon back on track.Arab Monitor - Italy

Vatican Seeking to Bring Maronite Leaders Together-Naharnet
Arab League Comes Out in Support of European Initiative to End Lebanon Crisis
Brammertz in Beirut before Quitting Post
Hizbullah Threatens U.S. Troops On Lebanese Soil
Hizbullah Hits Back at Jumblat
Hariri, Berri Meeting Devoted to European, Turkish Initiative

What Did Israel Bomb?Washington Post
Report on Resolution 1559 expected to focus on arms, sovereignty, free election-Daily Star

Berri puts off day of decision in Beirut until November 12-Daily Star
Fatah, PLO shake up posts in Lebanon-Daily Star
Prisoner swap included old letter from Arad - Israeli newspaper-Daily Star

Hizbullah mocks Jumblatt for trying to derail dialogue-Daily Star
'Do you want a UN chief who blows in the wind like a reed?'-Daily Star
Fuel pinch throws much of Lebanon into darkness-Daily Star

Salameh says IMF supports policies to keep Lebanese pound stable-Daily Star
NGOs lambaste Environment Ministry's 'complacency' over Jiyyeh oil spill-Daily Star
Schools across Lebanon take part in World Day of Action against Violence-Daily Star
Stories of abuse and mistreatment abound among foreign domestic workers in Lebanon.AFP
Abbas puts best face on peace process, 'hopes' agreement can be reached by end of 2008-Daily Star
Olmert, Sarkozy hold 'identical views' on Iranian nuclear issue.AFP
UN apologizes to Syria over translation error.AFP
US first lady meets breast cancer survivors in UAE.AFP
Iranian students protest against jailing of colleagues.AFP
Israeli extremists call for Rabin assassin's release.

Hizbullah Threatens U.S. Troops On Lebanese Soil

Hizbullah threatened Monday that U.S. troops would be treated as "occupation forces" on Lebanese soil.
Hizbullah official Nawaf Mussawi made the threat in a statement to Agence France Presse. He was commenting on alleged plans by the United States to set up a military base in Lebanon, a charge that has been made by as-Safir newspaper and denied both by the government and Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman. "It is impossible to accept such a project. American soldiers on Lebanese soil will be considered an occupation force and will be treated as such," Mussawi told AFP.
"Let the Americans take (interpret) this message as they wish." On Thursday, the pro-Syrian Lebanese newspaper As Safir reported that Washington had presented an official request to the Beirut government for the creation of U.S. army bases in Lebanon. Despite the official denials, Hizbullah continued to warn against any such alleged plans. On Sunday, Hizbullah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem said the creation of U.S. military bases in Lebanon would be considered a "hostile act."(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 22 Oct 07, 19:17

Vatican Seeking to Bring Maronite Leaders Together

The Vatican is seeking to bring the feuding Maronite leaders together in an effort to stop the "unbearable" media campaigns and to urge them to agree not to engage in intra-Christian warfare.According to well-informed sources, Papal Nuncio Monsignor Luigi Gatti is trying to arrange a meeting that would include leaders of the Phalange Party, Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanese Forces, National Liberal Party, The National Bloc, and the Marada. Gatti, the sources said, also aims at reaching an understanding on the qualities of the next president. Among these qualities are a "strong" president who could preserve national equilibriums and to be committed to implementing UN Security Council resolutions. During a meeting with former President Amin Gemayel at his Sin el-Fil residence, Gatti expressed the Vatican's keenness for holding presidential election in a democratic way, away from violence and within the constitutional framework.
Gemayel, in turn, briefed the Vatican ambassador on the outcome of his visit to Free Patriotic Movement leader Gen. Michel Aoun and his contacts with Speaker Nabih Berri. Gatti also visited Aoun in Rabiyeh and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea in Maarab. He then met with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir.
Gatti is expected to meet on Tuesday with Marada Party chief Suleiman Franjieh. Political sources told the daily As Safir that a Gemaye-Franjieh meeting would take place soon. Beirut, 23 Oct 07, 10:52

Brammertz in Beirut before Quitting Post
Head of the International Investigation Commission into the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Serge Brammertz, arrived in Beirut to try to complete elements of prosecution before quitting his post next December. Meanwhile, Head of the Legislation and Consultations' Commissions in the Justice Ministry, Magistrate Shikri Sader, said from New York that the U.N. was speeding up the process of forming the Special Tribunal for Lebanon that would try suspects in the Hariri murder. In an interview with the daily An-Nahar, Sader said he is in New York on a personal visit and not relevant to meetings held there between the international judges nominated to the tribunal and the U.N. Committee which will choose the Magistrates of the international court. Sader stressed that the U.N. is "determined to push things forward," bearing in mind the findings of the investigation. He said that the investigation in Hariri's assassination and other crimes was gaining monentum. "The findings of Brammertz's Investigation will be handed to the General prosecutor of the (international) court," he added. Whereas Brammertz, who will step down on Dec. 31, "won't uncover the secrets of the investigation but will speak generally about it," Sader said. Beirut, 23 Oct 07, 13:1

Arab League Comes Out in Support of European Initiative to End Lebanon Crisis
The Arab League has come out in support of a European initiative aimed at ending Lebanon's ongoing political standoff and clear away obstacles on the path of Presidential election. Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa announced from Cairo that the Arab League has decided to dispatch a high-level delegation to Lebanon next month to follow up on the presidential election issue. Moussa said Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos briefed him in detail on the outcome of a visit by a troika of EU ministers to Beirut over the weekend. Moussa hoped that intra-Lebanese talks would lead to narrowing the list of presidential candidates, adding that 12 names are currently suggested for the presidency. "Consensus among the Lebanese is needed since the president is theirs," Moussa said.
In another mediation bid to bring the warring Lebanese political sides closer, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu al-Gheit is due to arrive in Beirut on Thursday.
A statement released by the Foreign Ministry in Cairo said Abu al-Gheit will "offer elements of an Egyptian vision that Egypt hopes will help the Lebanese sides ... to reach solutions to get out of the current impasse." Beirut, 23 Oct 07, 09:10

Hariri, Berri Meeting Devoted to European, Turkish Initiative
MP Saad Hariri met with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri in Ain al-Tineh as part of efforts aimed at resolving the presidential election crisis. Hariri said in a statement published by his office that the meeting was devoted to assessing the outcome of a visit to Beirut by the foreign ministers of France, Spain, Italy and Turkey. The statement said the two leaders also discussed contacts by Arab and foreign states for their support of Lebanese efforts in the presidential election process. The Hariri-Berri meeting came shortly after a visit by former President Amin Gemayel to Qoraitem where he met with Al Mustaqbal leader. Beirut, 23 Oct 07, 14:00

Hizbullah Hits Back at Jumblat
Hizbullah lashed out at Democratic Gathering leader Walid Jumblat, describing him as a "worthless person who says worthless things." In a statement published by Lebanese dailies on Tuesday, Hizbullah said that Jumblat "has an excuse (for what he had said) since he is stuck and squeezed and suffers hallucinations whenever hope looms for an agreement between the Lebanese." This was a reference to Jumblat's fresh accusations made against Damascus and Hizbullah in which he said they were behind the recent assassinations of Lebanon's anti-Syrian MPs. "I believe it's Syria and it's Hizbullah ally," Jumblat said in response to a question by CNN television network when asked who was responsible for the spate of political assassinations in Lebanon. "Any agreement means political suicide for him," the Hizbullah statement said. Hizbullah stressed that Jumblat's allegations were in fact "an assassination of all the on-going initiatives and efforts (to reach) consensus" on a presidential candidate. Jumblat said he believes the assassinations of MP Antoine Ghanem on Sept. 19 was, like previous political killings, aimed at preventing Lebanon's parliament from convening to elect a president "freely, a president who respects the law and international resolutions."
Beirut, 23 Oct 07, 10:00

A Caliph's frustration with his emirs
By Walid Phares
Yes, Bin Laden’s latest audiotape aired on al Jazeera is somewhat unique. Not in its ideological party line or in the Salafi doctrinal roots. That hasn’t changed nor is it expected to. Surely, in a previous speech he inserted some neo Marxist and Trotskyite stuff; but that was part of his “American” rhetoric, and possibly at the request of his Gringo advisers. Today’s audio wasn’t concerned about Berkeley’s approval but was dedicated to whip the chaotic commanders of Jihad in Iraq. Usama’s message was more so the expression of a frustrated (self appointed) “Caliph” trying to reign in on his emirs gone wild in the deserts of Middle Earth. The “Lord” is upset with how al Qaeda Iraq has administered the struggle, the people and the image. Incredibly, the number one of al Qaeda said the المجاهدين “Mujahidins” in Iraq committed أخطاء “mistakes.” I purposely quoted the words in Arabic because this was indeed the first time the man used them in this context: self criticism. In fact he criticized the “emirs” for the recklessness of their Jihad in the land of the two rivers. If one reviews the public statements of Bin Laden, at least since 1996, this would be the first time he would talk about the Jihadists’ mistakes, not the errors by Muslim rulers in general: Now these are his own fighters who are at fault. The last time an al Qaeda leader came close to this attitude was the shy warning by Ayman Zawahiri to Zarqawi demanding that the killing of Shiia stops in Iraq. But the top leader at the time wasn’t addressing the mistakes of the emirs. He dealt with “higher geopolitical matters” per the comments of Abdel Bari Atwan on al Jazeera tonight. “Sheikh Bin Laden, said Atwan deals with high level issues, such as the confrontation with the United States, India etc, but this time the Sheikh is dealing with issues on the ground.”
Maybe not so comparable in context, but see it as a summoning by the “Fuhrer” to his Generals after losing Libya, Stalingrad or Normandy. The plan of the high commander was excellent, but the commanding officers messed it up, would be a possible analogy. Indeed since that speech delivered on February 11, 2003 in which Usama asked his worldwide Jihadists to prepare for Iraq and form the expeditionary corps to fight the Kuffar (infidels) for Baghdad, the Terror activities were scoring points: instability, bloodshed, sectarian violence, further recruitment, and political chaos behind enemy lines, that is within the West, particularly in America. But things began to change as the “generals” started to act as owners of the land. Again on al Jazeera (swiftly after the tape was released), another commentator Abdelwahhab al Qassab, said the reason of the set back was the interference of al Qaeda (foreign fighters) in Iraqis daily lives. Qassab is right, I’d argue, the emirs went wild in Iraq with the Sunni population, particularly with the tribes. They went a la Khmer Rouge with traditional communities and even with local Islamists. On al Jazeera, other commentators said al Qaeda and its competitors committed the errors “of Algeria.” Interestingly this statement means loads to the analysts who have observed the civil war in Algeria in the 1990s. The mainstream Front Islamique du Salut (Slavation Islamic Front) first, then its first off shoot, the “Armed Islamic Groupings” and lastly the second generation off shoot “Salafi Group of Call and Combat;” all of them going from extreme to more extremism, got themselves involved in a mass bloodshed with the Algerian population. Ironically the academic elite in the West, lost in the labyrinth of interpretation, portrayed the Algerian Jihadists as an interim force for change (!) Stunningly, it is al Qaeda today -in the words of Bin Laden- which is stating that the Algerian type of reckless Jihadism is irresponsible. This is so telling in terms of the Western failure in reading the barbarism of the Salafists in the 1990s, and in doubling this failure of analysis by asserting since 2003 that al Qaeda Iraq is an expression of the Iraqis opposing the “foreign occupation.”
Well, here we have the chief of the organization telling the world that excesses were committed in Iraq, which led to divisions and to alienating tribes and urban communities. Indeed, in his letter to the “Iraqi people” Bin Laden is asking -ironically- for a change of direction by his own followers. Actually, for more precision the audio message’s title doesn’t use the term شعب العراق Shaab al Iraq , accurately translated into the people of Iraq but the term لأهل العراق “ahl al Iraq” which would translate into: population, communities or even the inhabitants, as an ideological indication that Iraqis aren’t a people of their own but a segment of the Umma (Islamic Nation). His linguistic game aims at telling his audience that local and transnational Jihadis are in fact one in their struggle. In short here are his points:
1. All Jihadists -read also Islamists- in Iraq must unify; meaning all power struggles should cease.
2. “Mistakes” were made indeed and they need to be corrected.
3. The “tribes” cannot be marginalized and made into enemies. They should be recuperated.
4. Clerics, with strong fatwas should be the mentors of the reunified Jihadi movement.
5. The main new direction is that the Jamaa (read the collectivity) primes over the selfish leadership of one or multiple emirs. That’s the bottom line.
6. Last but not least, all Jihadists must come to a center of gravity where everyone has to make a concession.
Always on al Jazeera, yet another commentator Dhaya' Rashwan said that Bin laden is telling his supporters in Iraq to make concessions on few things and unite with all other insurgents to defeat the US. And as in magic, Abdelrahman al Jabburi -the spokesperson of the “Iraqi resistance,” a competitive group, called in (al Jazeera) and declared that “indeed local Jihadists must seize the opportunity and reorganize, unite.” Almost as in a captivating movie, in about three hours, the master of al Qaeda had his message aired, the commentators were ready to make very focused analysis -of what it means- and leaders from inside Iraq calling in and approving. The audio message was few minutes long while the whole back and forth debate was few hours long.
At the end of the day, this tape show -as I have argued since last summer- that al Qaeda central feels that their strategic initiative in Iraq is lagging behind. Two things went wrong for al Qaeda: One was the misbehavior of its own barons on the ground, and two -one can see it clearer now- the (US led) surge has worked so far. The Jihadi combat machine is flying low and is going through turbulences. Any major decision in Washington can accentuate this direction down or release it up. Ben Ladin has taken the risk of exposing this reality to his foes. It should be read thoroughly and responsibly inside the beltway.
Dr Walid Phares is the Director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington and the author of The War of Ideas.
October 22, 2007 11:59 PM Print