October 26/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 12,49-53. I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

Free Opinions & Special Reports
Shaping a 'save Lebanese democracy' resolution at the United Nations.By Chibli Mallat. October 25/07
A groundbreaking event in Muslim-Christian solidarity.By Claude Salhani. October 25/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for October 25/07
U.S. imposes sweeping sanctions on Iran. AP
Abul Gheit: Hands Off Lebanon-Naharnet
Rice: Lethal Aid Underscores Iran's 'Hegemonic' Aspiration in Region-Naharnet
Lebanese Shops Looted Following Killing of Sierra Leone Girl-Naharnet

Gemayel: Salvation Lies in Normalizing Relations with Syria-Naharnet
Hizbullah for Christian Consensus Conditional to national Approval-Naharnet
National Bloc Hammers Hizbullah-Naharnet
Japanese Court Releases Red Army Member who had Served in Lebanon-Naharnet
UN: Hezbollah has increased military strength since 2006 war.Ha'aretz
Ban: Hizbullah rearming 'disconcerting'.Jerusalem Post
Egyptian FM in Lebanon to try to end crisis.Middle East Times
Lebanese army opens fire on intruding Israeli jets.Africasia
What Rice's non-apology doesn't cover.Toronto Star
Syria: Israel should pay for air raid.PRESS TV

Arson suspected in latest forest fires-Daily Star
UN secretary general's sixth semi-annual report on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559-Daily Star
Salameh receives award from Arab bankers in North America.Daily Star
Ban urges dialogue in Beirut, frets rearmament-Daily Star
Lebanese await potentially pivotal meeting between Aoun and Hariri-Daily Star
Jewish state to educate public on war readiness. (AFP)
Suleiman calls on Palestinians to root out extremists-Daily Star
Qoleitat denies wrongdoing after release from Brazilian jail-Daily Star
Group calls for dialogue, 'competent president-Daily Star
Hawi's family sues Mossad for assassination-Daily Star
Siniora discusses Hariri tribunal with Ban-Daily Star
Fadlallah: 'We can only overcome the internal clashes with a new electoral law-Daily Star
Graziano: UNIFIL gives peace a chance-Daily Star
Lebanon's central bank head sees comeback in economy-Daily Star
Azour: Nation will not face full-scale blackouts-Daily Star
AUB to hand out 20 Franklin Scholarships-Daily Star
Abbas would reject participation to Annapolis conference.
Voltaire Network
Rice compares 'dangerous' Iran to cancer-Daily Star
UN chief warns Lebanon against constitutional void.France24
Suspicious fires destroy forests in northern Lebanon.Earthtimes
Ahmadinejad: Rumors of Mottaki's resignation are 'psychological war'.AFP
Sarkozy agrees to provide Morocco with nuclear technology. AFP
Cypriot authorities seize 56 kilograms of cannabis. AFP
Saudi Arabia executes 124th person in 2007.AFP
UAE court sentences American to death for murder.

US slaps broad new sanctions on Iran
By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration imposed sweeping new sanctions against Iran Thursday the harshest in nearly three decades cutting off key Iranian military and banking institutions from the American financial system for Tehran's alleged support for terrorism and nuclear weapons ambitions.
In the broadest U.S. unilateral penalties on Iran since the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in 1979, the administration slapped sanctions on Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, a main unit of its defense ministry, three of its largest banks and eight people that it said are engaged in missile trade and back extremist groups throughout the Middle East.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the moves would further isolate the Islamic republic's government by further distancing it from the international economy and discouraging its trading partners from continuing to do business with it.
At the same time, they stressed that offers for negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program remain on the table and that the sacnctions are not a sign of imminent military action. The U.S. officials insist over Iranian denials that the nuclear program is a cover for atomic weapons development.
"Unfortunately, the Iranian government continues to spurn our offer of open negotiations, instead threatening peace and security," through its nuclear program, production and export of ballistic missiles and backing for Shia insurgents in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, Rice said.
The United States has long labeled Iran a state supporter of terrorism and has been working for years to gain support for tougher sanctions from the international community aimed at keeping the country from developing nuclear weapons. It has won two U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions but a third has been held up by Chinese and Russian opposition.
And Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized it, saying new international sanctions are not advisable.
"Why worsen the situation by threatening sanctions and bring it to a dead end?" Putin said in a veiled reference to the U.S. push for harsher international sanctions. "It's not the best way to resolve the situation by running around like a madman with a razor blade in his hand."
Rice, who also noted Iran's hardline anti-Israel stance, said the moves were part of "a comprehensive policy to confront the threatening behavior of the Iranians" but that Washington remains committed to "a diplomatic solution."
Other officials echoed that sentiment, maintaining the announcement is not a prelude to armed conflict with Iran despite concerns from some allies that the administration is building a case for war.
"In no way, shape of form does it anticipate the use of force," said Nicholas Burns, the State Department's No. 3 diplomat.
Instead, officials said they hope the measures will increase pressure on Iran to take a deal offered last year that would give the oil-rich country economic and other incentives in exchange for dropping nuclear activities that could produce a bomb.
In Tehran, the Guards' chief, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, shrugged off increased U.S. pressure on the force.
"Today, enemy has concentrated sharp point of its attacks on the Guards," Jafari told a military ceremony in Mashhad, east of Tehran, according to the state news agency IRNA. "They have applied all their efforts to reduce the efficiency of this revolutionary body. Now as always, the corps is ready to defend the ideals of the revolution more than ever before."
Israel, on the other hand, said it was pleased with the sanctions.
"Israel welcomes the U.S. government's decision," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said in Jerusalem. "We see this as an important contribution to the international effort to intensify pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear program."
Iran has ignored previous, smaller attempts to apply international and financial sanctions, and says the conditions Washington has set for talks are unacceptable. Iran is continuing work on its nuclear program, which it says is peaceful.
The sanctions target 25 Iranian entities, including individuals and companies owned or controlled by the Revolutionary Guard that play a major role in Iran's domestic economy and international trade. The are the first of their type taken by the United States specifically against the armed forces of another government.
In addition to freezing any assets they may have in U.S. jurisdictions, something officials acknowledged would be of minimal effect, the sanctions also bar Americans from doing business with them.
But of far greater impact, officials said, they will subject foreign firms to U.S. sanctions if they engage with the designated entities.
Paulson called on "responsible banks and companies around the world" to end relationships with the three banks and companies and affiliates of the IRGC and noted that because of the IRGC's reach into business and other spheres, "it is increasingly likely that if you are doing business with Iran you are doing business with the IRGC."
State-owned banks Bank Melli, Bank Mellat and Bank Saderat were named supporters of global terrorist groups for their activities in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East. Along with Bank Sepah, which was already under U.S. and U.N. sanctions, the institutions account for more than 50 percent of Iran's banking sector, Treasury officials said.
"As awareness of Iran's deceptive behavior has grown, many banks around the world have decided as a matter of prudence and integrity that Iran's business is simply not worth the risk," Paulson said. "It is plain and simple: Reputable institutions do not want to be the bankers for this dangerous regime."
The Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics were designated proliferators of ballistic missile technology. The Corps, also known as the IRCG, is the largest component of Iran's military. The defense ministry entity is the parent organization for Iran's aerospace and ballistic missile operations.
The Quds Force, a part of the Guard Corps that Washington accuses of providing weapons, including powerful bombs blamed for the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, was named a supporter of designated terrorist organizations.
The Revolutionary Guards organization, formed to safeguard Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, has pushed well beyond its military roots, and now owns car factories and construction firms and operates newspaper groups and oil fields.
Current and former members now hold a growing role across the country's government and economy, sometimes openly and other times in shadows.
The guards have gained a particularly big role in the country's oil and gas industry in recent years, as the national oil company has signed several contracts with a guards-operated construction company. Some have been announced publicly, including a $2 billion deal in 2006 to develop part of the important Pars gas field.
Now numbering about 125,000 members, they report directly to the supreme leader and officially handle internal security. The small Quds Force wing is thought to operate overseas, having helped to create the militant Hezbollah group in 1982 in Lebanon and to arm Bosnian Muslims during the Balkan wars.
*AP Diplomatic Correspondent Anne Gearan and Associated Press Writer Jeannine Aversa contributed to this story.

Lebanese Shops Looted Following Killing of Sierra Leone Girl
Scores of Sierra Leonean youths rampaged across the capital Freetown ransacking over a dozen shops owned by Lebanese traders from early Thursday, police said.
The riots in the war-scarred and desperately impoverished west African country were sparked by the death of a local teenage girl allegedly at the hands of a Lebanese gems dealer in the eastern diamond-rich town of Kenema. Police assistant inspector general Elizabeth Turay said the 18-year-old Alima Kamara died in a "suspected murder" case on Monday in Kenema, some 300 kilometres (190 miles) east of Freetown.
Lebanese diamond dealer Mohamed Basma, 40, and a friend of the dead girl, Victoria Jarret, were being questioned by police in Freetown, police officials said.
Police moved in to restore order and protect the shops based in downtown Freetown, where scores of youths rioted and looted electric power generators, mobile phones and an array of household goods. "It is a great shock, what has been done to Lebanese shops," head of the 10,000-strong Lebanese community in Sierra Leone, Sani Hassaniyeh told AFP, adding all Lebanese outfits including schools had been closed as a result. Sierra Leone has had a large Lebanese business community over the past four decades, since many settled there after independence from Britain in 1961.(AFP)

Abul Gheit: Hands Off Lebanon
Visiting Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit on Thursday urged foreign states not to interfere in the Lebanese presidential vote, echoing an outcry by the late Anwar Sadat: "Hands off Lebanon.""It is up to the Lebanese people to decide themselves," Abul Gheit said after meeting pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, whose extended term in office expires by Nov. 24. A source close to the parliament's western-backed and anti-Damascus majority told Agence France Presse that the remarks were particularly aimed at Syria, which long wielded great influence in Lebanese politics.
"Mr. Abul Gheit's comments fall in line with pressures on Syria to stop interfering through its Lebanese allies to hamper the presidential vote," the source said.
The late Egyptian President Sadat launched his famous "hands off Lebanon" outcry in the mid-1970s, during the early stages of the civil war that lasted until 1990 despite the intervention by 30.000 Syrian troops and a 10.000-strong intelligence apparatus. The Lebanese parliament has been unable to pick a successor to Lahoud, raising fears that the country could plunge into its most serious crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war. The parliament's majority accuses the Hizbullah-led opposition of taking orders from Tehran and Damascus while it is accused by the rival camp of bowing to the United States. Abul Gheit said on arrival in Beirut that he was seeking to help resolve the crisis.
"We cannot say that we have brought viewpoints and instructions, but we will try to convey the Egyptian vision to the (Lebanese) leaders," he said.
During his one-day visit Abul Gheit met the western-backed ruling majority and Hizbullah-led opposition leaders as well as Prime Minister Fouad Saniora and parliament speaker Nabih Berri. "I don't think Lebanese leaders have discussed yet the names of the candidates," the minister said.
Shortly after arrival in Beirut he met Lahoud and Nasrallah Sfeir, patriarch of the Maronite church.
Sfeir has launched an initiative to bring Maronite opposition and majority leaders closer in an attempt to break the deadlock.
After meeting the patriarch, Abul Gheit said: "We will not interfere with candidates and it should not be inferred that we prefer one candidate over another.
We hope that all interference stops."
He explained that a recent meeting between Army Commander Gen. Michel Sleiman, who has been cited as a presidential contender, and the Egyptian president was in the framework of "supporting the Lebanese army", which fought a bloody 15-week battle with Islamist militants in a refugee camp in northern Lebanon.
The Egyptian foreign minister also held talks with Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Qabbani and parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri.
Berri on Monday again postponed a special session of parliament to elect a president to give the feuding political factions time to try to agree on a consensus candidate.
Saniora's government has been paralyzed since last November when opposition forces, which include Iran- and Syria-backed factions, withdrew their six ministers from government. Many Lebanese are on edge fearing another MP from the ruling coalition could be assassinated, following the murder of lawmaker Antoine Ghanem and five others in a car bombing just days before the previous parliamentary session.
Ghanem was the sixth lawmaker to be killed since 2005 in attacks blamed by many on former power broker Syria, which has denied involvement.
There are fears that the standoff could lead to two rival governments emerging, a grim reminder of the end of the civil war when two competing administrations battled it out.(Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 25 Oct 07, 16:11

UN chief warns Lebanon against constitutional void
by Gerard Aziakou - Haaretz
Send by e-mail Save Print UN chief Ban Ki-moon Wednesday warned Lebanese parties against rearming and conducting military training, calling for presidential polls to go ahead to end a crippling political stalemate. Just two days after a special session of Lebanon's parliament to elect a new president was postponed for the second time, Ban urged the Lebanese people to "rise to the occasion and turn a new page in their difficult history." "There must not be a constitutional void at the level of the presidency, not two rivalling governments," he warned. He also expressed dismay at the current crisis in a report on implementing a Security Council resolution calling for the disarming and disbanding all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias.
"Most political parties in Lebanon are apparently preparing for the possible deterioration of the situation," the UN secretary general said. "I repeat my urgent call on all Lebanese parties to immediately halt all efforts to rearm and engage in weapons training and to instead return to dialogue and conciliation as the only viable method of settling issues and resolving the ongoing political crisis." Lebanon's parliament speaker Nabih Berri on Monday again postponed a special session to elect a president to give the divided country's feuding political factions time to agree on a consensus candidate.
The fresh delay had been widely expected as rival factions have so far been unable to agree on a consensus candidate, raising fears the country could plunge into its most serious political crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war. Fears are running high the standoff could lead to two rival governments, a grim reminder of the end of the civil war when two competing administrations battled it out. But Ban's report made it clear that "rearmament and military training directly contravenes" UN resolution 1559. He noted that since the text was adopted in 2004 "Lebanon has continued to suffer setbacks in its struggle to reassert, beyond dispute, its sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence."Yet the 2005 withdrawal of Syrian troops after 29 years of military and political domination of its smaller neighbor meant the Lebanese could now hold their first free and fair election since the end of the civil war.
"Such an election would signify a major milestone on the road toward the full assertion of Lebanon's sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence," the UN chief said. Ban described as "deeply disconcerting" information suggesting that Lebanon's Iranian-backed Shiite movement Hezbollah "has rebuilt and increased its military capacity compared to prior to" its 34-day war with Israel in south Lebanon last year.
Calling on all parties, including Hezbollah, to commit to the disarmament of all militias in Lebanon, he restated his conviction "that the eventual disarmament of Hezbollah in the sense of the completion of its transformation into a solely political party" is of critical importance for the future of a fully sovereign Lebanon.
And he called for "the unequivocal cooperation of all relevant regional parties who have the ability to support such a process," citing specifically Syria and Iran.
Prime Minister Fuad Siniora's government has been paralysed since last November when opposition forces, which include Iran- and Syria-backed factions, withdrew their six ministers from government. Many Lebanese are on edge fearing another MP from the ruling coalition could be assassinated, following the murder of lawmaker Antoine Ghanem and five others in a car bombing just days before the previous parliamentary session. Ghanem was the sixth lawmaker to be killed since 2005 in attacks blamed by many on former power broker Syria, which has denied involvement.

Lebanese army opens fire on intruding Israeli jets
Oct 25 (AFP)
Lebanese troops opened fire on two Israeli jets flying low over the south of the country on Thursday, the police and army said. "The Lebanese army used anti-aircraft weapons toward two Israeli warplanes that were flying low over the Marjayoun area," said a police spokesman, who asked not to identified. An army spokesman said the two jets headed back towards Israel at around 11:10 a.m. (0810 GMT). The incident marked the first time in a year that the army has fired on Israeli warplanes. In February, troops fired on an unmanned Israeli drone flying east of the southern port city of Tyre. Israel has drawn intense international criticism by continuing overflights after the ceasefire that ended last year's 34-day war against the militant group Hezbollah. The United Nations has said such overflights undermine the credibility of UN peacekeepers stationed in southern Lebanon and compromise efforts to stabilise the region.

National Bloc Hammers Hizbullah
The National Bloc party meeting under chairman Carlos Edde on Thursday criticized a declaration by Hizbullah claiming that its resistance is the Lebanese people's "destiny.""We have been horrified by the Hizbullah parliamentary bloc's statement stating that the resistance is no more an option, but rather the Lebanese people's destiny.""Peoples don't have a say in their destiny, while options can be chosen freely and only the Lebanese people has the right to determine the nature of its resistance," The bloc said in a statement. "Any resistance capable of lasting is a Lebanese, not factional, resistance grouping all the sects and not comprising only part of a sect," the statement added. It asked whether the "nation that Hizbullah leaders keep referring to contradicts the interests of the Lebanese people.
Beirut, 25 Oct 07, 15:41

Hizbullah for Christian Consensus Conditional to national Approval
Hizbullah on Thursday declared support for efforts exerted by Bkirki to achieve consensus among Christians on a presidential candidate provided that it is backed by a nationwide consensus. The stand was informed to Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir during a visit by a three-member Hizbullah delegation grouping MPs Mohammed Raad And Ali Ammar as well as politburo member Ghaleb Abu Zeinab. "We stressed on our support for these effort and this initiative and we stated clearly that we support consensus among Christians regarding the (forthcoming) President as an introduction to consensus among all the Lebanese," Raad said after the 30-minute meeting.  In answering a question as to whether the delegation has informed Sfeir that Hizbullah's presidential candidate is Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, Raad said: "In fact, nominations are not discussed in public." "We expressed to the patriarch that we are keen on consensus," Raad added. When the question on Aoun's candidacy was asked again, Raad said: "Gen. Aoun is well aware of our view point." He said the atmosphere was "positive and open to optimism."
Raad said the Hizbullah-sponsored Tent City protest, erected in downtown Beirut since Dec. 1 with the declared objective of toppling Premier Fouad Saniora's majority government, "would be dismantled once consensus is reached and a presidential candidate is named." Beirut, 25 Oct 07, 14:27

Gemayel: Salvation Lies in Normalizing Relations with Syria

Phalange Party Supreme leader Amin Gemayel said Lebanon's salvation lies in the "normalization of relations" with neighboring Syria. Ex-President Gemayel, in statements to al-Manar and New T.V. said he was exerting efforts to organize a meeting grouping the main four Maronite political leaders, in reference to himself, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun and ex-Mp Suleiman Franjieh of the Marada Movement.
The aim of the get together, according to Gemayel, is to achieve intra-Christian reconciliation. He called for "expanding the scope of consultations and dialogue to include leaders of both the opposition and majority. Gemayel noted that a parliamentary session to elect a new head of state needs a two-thirds quorum, stressing that a president should be elected by unanimous vote. Gemayel said he does not stick to electing a president from the March 14 ranks "provided that the candidate is a capable personality and committed to principles of sovereignty." Beirut, 25 Oct 07, 14:53

Rice: Lethal Aid Underscores Iran's 'Hegemonic' Aspiration in Region
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday said Iran was "perhaps the single greatest challenge" to U.S. security, stressing, however, that diplomacy was the preferred way to end its nuclear drive. President George Bush last week warned that a nuclear-armed Iran evoked the threat of "World War III," and Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday spoke of "serious consequences" unless the Islamic republic comes to heel.
The bellicose tone has revived speculation that U.S. hardliners are pressing for a military conflict with Iran, which also stands accused of funding and training Shiite extremists in Iraq through its Revolutionary Guard Corps. In testimony to Congress, Rice said "serious consequences" would include a third round of sanctions from the United Nations Security Council to punish Iran's refusal to renounce uranium enrichment. "We are very concerned that the policies of Iran constitute perhaps the single greatest challenge to American security interests in the Middle East and around the world," she said. "The regime's emboldened foreign policy, as demonstrated by its lethal assistance to groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories, further underscores Iran's hegemonic aspirations in the region."
But Rice was also adamant that while Bush "does not take any options off his table, he's committed to a diplomatic course with Iran."
"We are, with our international partners, continuing to pursue a two-track approach on the nuclear issue," she told the House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee, giving testimony about U.S. policy on the Middle East. Rice noted that along with talks steered by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Washington and its EU partners were working on tougher sanctions at the U.N..
After talks involving Solana in Rome on Wednesday, Iran's former nuclear pointman Ali Larijani said at a news conference that "new and constructive ideas" had emerged on the crisis without going into detail. Saeed Jalili, an ally of Iran's hardline president who was appointed to replace Larijani as the chief nuclear negotiator on Sunday, did not speak at the news conference. The United States is also pressing its allies to help cut Iran off from the international financial system, and so prevent what Rice called its "ill-gotten gains" being recycled through respectable banks.
Beyond the diplomacy, she said, the United States would do its utmost to prevent Iranian interference in Iraq. "We are determined to cut off Iran's malignant activities in Iraq by apprehending and eliminating Quds Force members and other actors who endanger human life and overall national stability," she said.
"We will defend ourselves and we will defend Iraqis against Tehran's meddling." The Quds Force is the covert operations arm of the Revolutionary Guards and is accused by U.S. commanders of helping Shiite militias involved in Iraq's bloody sectarian conflict. The U.S. Senate last month resolved to label the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization -- a step that some Democrats said had set the United States on a path to war with Iran. Commenting on the recent declarations of Bush and Cheney, Democratic Representative Eni Faleomavaega said he was reminded of the aggressive language used by the U.S. leaders in the run-up to the Iraq invasion. "It seems to me that this is the same rhetoric that led us to war with Saddam Hussein," he told Rice, arguing that the U.S. military was already "struggling" to cope with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But stressing the possibility of fresh sanctions against Iran, Rice said: "When one speaks of serious consequences, there also have to be serious consequences in diplomacy."(AFP) Beirut, 24 Oct 07, 22:45

Site continues to assert US bases in Lebanon Written by CRNews, Editor
Thursday, 25 October 2007
CRNews doesn't find any evidence to support
Washington DC , CRNews, Editor, Thursday October 25, 2007
For the third week in a row, an Israeli-based web site continues to assert that the US and the Lebanese Government have concluded an agreement on creating US bases in Northern Lebanon and on a program to train the Lebanese Army. These reports have been picked up by Lebanese media, including the LBCI but also Hezbollah's owned al Manar TV. In reaction to these reports, Hezbollah leaders, including Naim Qassem, threatened to attack the future American presence in the country and to transform Lebanon into another Iraq.
CR News investigated the initial report, posted by Debka File last week (Link) and check it wth both Lebanese and US authorities, which dismissed the information. In addition, US ambassador to Lebanon also rejected the report (Link ). Strangely, Debka File issues another report this week ( Link) insisting that such an agreement was in place. Furthermore Debka File quotes a pro-Syrian Lebanese daily as Safir to confirm its own reporting. Then the Debka File projects bloodshed in Lebanon as in Iraq citing its own sources inside Hezbollah. CR News checked with Senior Terrorism expert with the World Council of the Cedars Revolution, Ret Col. Charbel Barakat on this issue. Barakat, who has testified to the US Senate and participated in NGO delegations to the United Nations over the past few years said: "We doubt such agreements exist already because both the US and the current Lebanese Governments are democratic institutions and these types of projects will have to go through a process in both countries. However said Barakat, posting such reports -without foundations- can only exacerbate the situation, already tense in Lebanon. For a web site to certify that US bases will be established in Lebanon and for pro-Syrian as Safir to confirm the report afterward, then followed by Hezbollah's threat, mean that there is a silly game going on here. The site posts reports, the Terrorists in Lebanon use them to issue their threats against Lebanon and the US, and then the site uses the Terror threats to confirm that it was right in its original reporting." Barakat said: "either there is coordination between those who issue the reports and those who use them, and that is a very dangerous development, or those original reporting are irresponsible." In both cases, concluded Barakat, this game is not helping the war on terror, just the opposite."
In Sydney, the President of the World Council of the Cedars Revolution (WCCR) said "providing Hezbollah with alibis to attack the Lebanese Government and US interests, as the situation in the region is explosive, is irresponsible. The United States is assisting the Lebanese people with all it can and within the realm of Lebanese Government requests. Issuing such reports will only damage the real cooperation between Beirut and Washington and harm the implementation of UNSCR resolutions. We hope the editors of these web sites, which we value when they are right and professional, would correct their reporting and refrain from assisting Hezbollah in their campaign against Lebanon's Government and the strategic support by the United States." Baini added, "if US bases are needed, the Lebanese Government will make that request, but as long as that hasn't happened, insisting on the opposite and claiming confirmation by citing the terrorist sources, is a shame."
CR News has just posted a story this week regarding another strange development when Israeli media cited a Syrian Mukhabarat web site (Champress) as their basis for a news report stating that Lebanese leader Walid Jumblat has met Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak in Washington. Rapidly discredited by CR News ( Link) and by a leading expert on the Counter Terrorism Blog ( Link), the original Syrian intelligence report and the Israeli media rush to quote it, fell off the debate. But CR News investigators are now looking at the possibility of an intoxication campaign waged by the Iranian intelligence PsyOp unit, to prepare for attacks against US interests in the region. The missing link, according to the investigators is why are Syrian and Iranian incitement reports being picked up by Israeli media. Have the penetration by these intelligence networks gone that deep or is just media recklessness? Last Updated ( Thursday, 25 October 2007 )

Japanese Court Releases Red Army Member who had Served in Lebanon

A Japanese court released Thursday a suspected member of the far-left Red Army who had allegedly served in Lebanon, giving him a suspended sentence after he served out 15 years in a U.S. prison for transporting bombs. The court found Yu Kikumura, 55, guilty of using a forged international driver's license when he was arrested by police while driving on a highway with three homemade bombs in New Jersey in 1988. According to U.S. prosecutors, Kikumura planned to bomb a veterans affairs building in Manhattan on the anniversary of a U.S. air raid on Libya. "His crime was dangerous and vicious as he used a forged license in attempting to conceal his possession of explosives," Tokyo District Court judge Masanori Tsunoda said. The judge handed him a two-year sentence but suspended it for four years as the defendant "admitted to the indictment's charges and already spent nearly 19 years in detention abroad." If Kikumura stays out of trouble for four years, he will not have to serve any of the sentence.  Kikumura had served 15 years of a 21-year, 10-month term in the US. He was released from a Colorado prison in April and deported to Japan. Japanese courts regularly show leniency to people who admit their crimes. The prosecution had sought two years in prison with no suspension.
Kikumura denied in a U.S. court that he was a member of the Red Army, though he was allegedly spotted in the guerrilla group's base in Lebanon.
The Japanese Red Army, advocating worldwide leftist revolution through violence, carried out a series of hijackings and violence on embassies abroad in the 1970s and 1980s. It is most notorious for a 1972 massacre at Tel Aviv's airport that killed 24 people, most of them Puerto Rican pilgrims.
Kikumura was said to have left Japan in 1974. He was deported home after being arrested with explosives in the Netherlands in 1986, but he slipped out of Japan two days later, according to media reports. The group's leader, Fusako Shigenobu, was arrested in Osaka in 2000 after slipping into the country under a false identity. She announced the disbandment of the group in April 2001. Beirut, 25 Oct 07, 13:35

Arson suspected in latest forest fires
About 5,000 men battle blazes across country

By Mirvat Ammouri
Special to The Daily Star
Thursday, October 25, 2007
BEIRUT: Fires raged across forests in northern and southern Lebanon late Tuesday and Wednesday for the second time in a month, prompting government officials to question whether the devastating blazes were the result of arson. Interior Minister Hassan Sabaa said on Wednesday during a news conference at the Grand Serail in Beirut that the conditions under which "these fires have appeared have raised huge questions."
However, Sabaa refused to identify any possible suspects, saying that he would not comment on the matter until police reports are finalized.
According to a report issued by the Lebanese Army on Wednesday, the fires engulfed forests around several towns and villages across the country, including Nabatieh, Jwaya, Khiam, Kfar Kila and Jezzine in the South, Barja and Ras al-Metn in the Chouf, and Amshit and Hamat in the Mount Lebanon Governorate, as well as the northern regions of Akkar and Dinnieh.
Residents of Ain al-Sammak, a small town in Dhour al-Shoueir, said they witnessed a group of armed individuals set fire to the mountainous region. They said the group later opened fire at the townspeople who tried to put out the fire.
Suspects have been taken in for questioning by the authorities, who have heard the testimonies of the townspeople, Sabaa told reporters.
"Reports on the first flames indicate that the fires were intentionally set," Sabaa said.
Sabaa did not identify the suspects, nor did he say what may have motivated them to ignite the flames.
Some 5,000 men from Civil Defense, the army, and the Internal Security Forces pooled their efforts to extinguish the blazes across the country.
The army used helicopters to pour water on the fires. However, their efforts were hampered by strong winds and dry conditions, which helped to spread the flames.
Cyprus has so far sent one water-dumping helicopter to aid the army. Also, Civil Defense has rented water tanks from the private sector to keep their water supply flowing.
Firefighters also had to contend with mountainous terrain which made it difficult for trucks to reach affected areas. An official told AFP that the town of Aito was the hardest to reach because of a lack of roads leading to the area.
George Abu Mousa, head of fire operations, said the fires are too big for Lebanon to handle by itself. "We are understaffed," he told The Daily Star.
Although there were no immediate reports of casualties, the fires are likely to deal another blow to the environment, as well as the state's coffers.
"The costs of extinguishing these fires are enormous, and they eat away at the government's budget" said Abu Mousa.
Fires earlier this month burned 2,500 hectares of forest. Replanting the forests is expected to cost $10 million, according to a report by the Association of Forest Development and Conservation (AFDC).
The AFDC report said forest fires in Lebanon are mainly caused by climatic conditions: prolonged hot summers, lack of water and strong winds.
"Also, the general public through their lifestyle or livelihood activities, is a key initiator of forest fires," mainly due to the clearing of agricultural fields using fire, it said.
The Lebanese Environment Party (LEP) said in a statement on Wednesday that a council of firefighters had been formed in 2001 with a set strategy to combat future blazes.
The group criticized the government for failing to put the emergency plan into use.
They also called for an investigation of the responsible government bureaus over what they called "carelessness."
The LEP suggested setting up watch towers and water tanks in fire-prone areas in the mountains - a step it said would cost less than the loss of Lebanon's natural resources. - With AFP
Congressman Gary Ackerman Comes Out In Full Support Of Lebanon's Democracy with Demands!
Written by NY Congressman Gary Ackerman
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
NY Congressman Gary Ackerman
At today's hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Rep. Ackerman made the following statement regarding Lebanon. Madam Secretary, I'd like to call your attention to the presidential succession crisis in Lebanon. Support for the Cedar Revolution may be the President's biggest potential win in the Middle East, and right now, that success is just four dead men away from disappearing.
That's the remaining number of parliamentarians that Syria and Iran and their terrorist proxies need to kill to destroy the current majority and return Lebanon to its status as a fiefdom. If losing Gaza was a disaster, trying losing Lebanon. Our response here has been, frankly, inadequate and I'd like to suggest the following steps be considered urgently:
First, America's commitment to Lebanon's sovereignty and independence needs to be reiterated by the President in a specific major address. Damascus and Tehran and the entire Middle East need to hear explicitly that the United States will not accept the resumption of foreign domination of Lebanon; that we insist, and mean it, that foreign states refrain from interfering in Lebanon's constitutional processes; that we consider the assassinations of Lebanese parliamentarians as acts of international aggression; that we will never sacrifice the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to appease other states; and that we will push for the Special Tribunal to include all assassinations since Rafiq Hariri's in its purview. If a Presidential statement was important for Burma, it's equally important for Lebanon.
Second, the President should immediately impose economic and political sanctions against the Syrian regime, specifically President Assad, his family and his coterie of close associates. Their assets in the United States should be frozen and their travel to this country should be barred. The very same steps should be taken against their proxies in Lebanon. The President has expansive sanctioning powers under U.S. law that are not even close to being exhausted with regard to Syria.
Third, the United States needs to raise the profile of this crisis much higher. Security Council resolutions are not enough. A formal international contact group should be established with the explicit mission of protecting Lebanon's sovereignty and independence. Further, I believe the President should appoint a single figure in the United States government to be responsible for managing this crisis.
Fourth, the House (twice) and the Senate (once) have passed resolutions supporting Lebanon, and pledging our continued readiness to put our money where our mouth is. Currently, we're getting out-bid in Lebanon by two countries whose combined GDP is a third of just our national defense budget. If you believe we need more resources to prevent disaster, you have to ask for them. The support is here.
Madam Secretary, I know you and the President have more than enough to handle, but there's not going to be another chance to save Lebanon. We have to act now. I've summarized these points in a letter which I'd like to give you, but I'd like to hear your initial response.
Editor, Cedars Revolution News