September 26/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 8,19-21. Then his mother and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you." He said to them in reply, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it."

The Nationalism of Idiots. By: Hazem Saghieh -Dar Al-Hayat. September 25/07
Academia’s Failure is Ahmedinejad’s Walid Phares.September 25/07
Al Qaeda: An International Jihadi Operation?By: Walid Phares. September 25/07
Lebanese Crisis Could Turn Violent.Angelique van Engelen.September 25/07
Syria Joins the Axis of Evil.By JOHN R. BOLTON. September 25, 2007
Majority Parliamentarians Need UN protection.By Elias Bejjani.Canada Free Press - September 25/07
A break might allow Lebanon's politicians to start doing their jobs.The Daily Star. September 25/07
France in Lebanon: colorful, but with no plan of action.
By Michel Nehme. September 25/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for September 25/07
Berri Adjourns Presidential Vote till October 23-Naharnet
Bush urges U.N. to spread freedom. AP

Saniora Government Devising a Plan to Confront Terrorism-Naharnet
Geagea: No Consensus on pro-Syrian President
Parliament Set To Convene But Without Quorum to Elect New President-Naharnet
Lebanese politicians seek safety in guarded hotel.AP
Security High for Lebanon President Vote.The Associated Press
Lebanon must sink its differences.Gulf News
Lebanon security official: Israeli apparently not involved in spying.Jerusalem Post
Lebanon may free Israeli arrested for spying.Ha'aretz
Syria set to reject peace talks offer.Guardian Unlimited
Analysis: Why flip-flop on Damascus? To stick Syria's finger in ...Jerusalem Post
The Revolution is Fading.The Media Line

Berri upbeat about prospects for consensus president-Daily Star
Lebanon 'center of attention' at UN session
-Daily Star
Long legacy of assassinations still looms over Lebanese
-Daily Star
'Opposition, March 14 camps conducting armed training
-Daily Star
Geagea accuses opposition of bending the rules, says they no longer apply anyway
-Daily Star
Olmert 'concerned' after Ghanem assassination.AFP
Authorities arrest prominent drug dealer.Daily Star
Zaki stresses Palestinian-Lebanese unity.Daily Star
Will we be pleasantly surprised?
-Daily Star
Pro-government MPs demand strict security during special session. AFP
Consensus president will not bridge divide between rival camps - analysts
-Daily Star
Salameh 'entitled to presidency' under labor arbitration ruling.Daily Star  
Detained Israeli 'was here for gay sex, not espionage.Daily Star
Word on the street: Mar Elias wants a president who unites people
-Daily Star.
Youth of Offre Joie bring anti-violence campaign to Sin al-Fil.Daily Star
Beirut gets treated to the antics of an unorganized clown who isn't a politician
-Daily Star
Olmert welcomes Syrian role at peace talks - under Washington's conditions.Daily Star
Cheney 'mulled Israel-Iran war to justify US onslaught.


The Nationalism of Idiots
Hazem Saghieh - Al-Hayat - 25/09/07//
Every time that the criminals strike at a politician or journalist in Lebanon, the name Michel Aoun immediately comes to mind.
The man, certainly, is innocent of assassination, whether in terms of implementation or planning. However, certainly, he is not innocent of producing the political circumstance that permits it, just as it permits the obstruction of political life in general. Perhaps we can say that he is the most important architect of what is happening today; it is a situation in which it is impossible to see the country lay anchor on a clear and stable political quorum that prevents murder. However, what is this Aounist phenomenon, which forms the strongest bridges connected to the murderous confusion, and how can we explain it?
Let us say, to begin with, that it is a combination of hatred and rancor. Thus, the Aounist is one of three things:
He hates the Lebanese Forces because of the civil war, which was crowned by the "war of elimination" (between Aoun and the LF).
Or, he hates the Hariri family and envies them - behind them stands the Sunni community, in general, imitating the Christian sectarian model, which grew to confront the Sunni sectarian model, just as the Sunni imitation of the sectarian model arose to confront it, when the Shiites were marginalized in terms of rights and political presence.
Or, he hates Walid Jumblatt, and behind him stands the Druze community (with the exception of Wiam Wahhab, of course), due to the War of the Mountain.
Regardless of whether or not these feelings of hatred are justified, the coming-together of various hatreds does not make a political program. In fact, the weak political element that arises in these hatreds will quickly shrink, gradually, in favor of trouble-making and seeking vengeance. To this combination of hatred, didn't we see a very inflated ego, which doubles its personal considerations and gives them prominence, destroying anything having to do with objectivity? Needless to say, the "me" in question here is only the famous ego of the general, who behaves, when it comes to the presidency of the Republic, like a child who cares only about getting his hands on a toy!
Between the self-obsession of Aounism and the explosive self of Aoun, a state of political stupidity is spreading, the like of which is difficult to find elsewhere. The Christian Aounists, who don't know political party work and never once approached the complexities of political life, draw up their political position in one or two expressions, which do not breed or reproduce; they are unaffected by any transformation, change or circumstance.
As a comment on the political Lebanonization that overcame the Sunnis in Lebanon after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, the Aounists say that it's a passing event, because any transformation that happens in Syria to the benefit of the Sunnis will return Lebanese Sunnis to their old Arabism. This is an example of fortune-telling and it's inappropriate for him to call it a policy, especially since it includes transformations in the meaning of "Arabism" in its countries that have an impact on Lebanon. This is not to mention the fact that a Syrian transformation of this type might put the entire Mashreq before questions in which the positions of Lebanese sects become a passing detail. Meanwhile, the sane find it hard to believe that we can witness coexistence between this wariness about the Arabism to which the Sunnis of Lebanon might return, and an "understanding" that links the Aounists to an armed fundamentalist party like Hizbullah, which threatens the foundations of the political entity itself!
As a commentary on the assassinations, it's said that nothing has been proven until now, while the razor is aimed at the government of victims, accused of negligence in pursuing the killers and exploiting their blood for partisan ends.
This is how, unexpectedly, we see the use of a language of persistent, investigating judges, which is neither a trait of Aoun nor the generous discourse of Aounism. One politician after another might be killed, or one journalist after another, while the judge remains a persistent and investigating judge, who repeats the same refrain.
A European thinker once wrote that "anti-semitism is socialism of idiots," meaning those who complain, those who have been harmed, and the exploiters who don't know the reason for their defeat, can easily blame it on "the Jews." Thus, Aounism is the nationalism of idiots, a nationalism that prompts its followers to ally with the true danger to the country against false threats… to ally with the killer, against the killed

Lebanon Parliament Fails to Elect New President
Lebanons parliament session to elect a new president was postponed to Oct. 23 on Tuesday for lack of a two-thirds quorum.
Reuters Lebanon's parliament session to elect a new president was postponed to Oct. 23 on Tuesday for lack of a two-thirds quorum, Speaker Nabih Berri said in a statement. The opposition stayed away from the session to elect a successor to pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, blocking the anti-Syrian majority from choosing a new head of state. Published: September 25, 2007 10:11h

Bush urges U.N. to spread freedom
By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS - President Bush announced new sanctions Tuesday against the military dictatorship in Myanmar, accusing it of imposing "a 19-year reign of fear" that denies basic freedoms of speech, assembly and worship.
"Americans are outraged by the situation in Burma," the president said in an address to the U.N. General Assembly. Now called Myanmar, the Asian country also is known as Burma.
Bush also urged other nations to support the struggle for democracy in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon.
"The people of Lebanon and Afghanistan and Iraq have asked for our help, and every civilized nation has a responsibility to stand with them," Bush said.
"Every civilized nation also has a responsibility to stand up for the people suffering under dictatorship," the president said. "In Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Iran, brutal regimes deny their people the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration" of the United Nations.
While the war in Iraq continues, Bush made scant mention of it. Similarly, he barely mentioned Iran, a nation the United States accuses of terrorism, pursuit of a nuclear weapon and assistance for insurgents who are killing U.S. troops in Iraq.
Instead, Bush focused his remarks elsewhere, challenging the U.N. to uphold its pledge to fight for freedom in lands of poverty and terror.
"The nations in this chamber have our differences, yet there are some areas where we can all agree," Bush said. "When innocent people are trapped in a life of murder and fear, the declaration is not being upheld. When millions of children starve to death or perish from a mosquito bite, we're not doing our duty in the world. When whole societies are cut off from the prosperity of the global economy, we're all worse off."
"Changing these underlying conditions is what the declaration calls the work of larger freedom and it must be the work of every nation in this assembly," he said. "This great institution must work for great purposes: to free people from tyranny and violence, hunger and diseases, illiteracy and ignorance and poverty and despair."
Bush looked ahead to a Cuba no longer ruled by Fidel Castro, the ailing 81-year-old leader of the communist-run government.
"In Cuba, the long rule of a cruel dictator is nearing its end," Bush said. "The Cuban people are ready for their freedom. And as that nation enters a period of transition, the United Nations must insist on free speech, free assembly and, ultimately, free and competitive elections."
Bush urged the U.N. to reform its Human Rights Council, created to replace the discredited Human Rights Commission. But Bush criticized the new body for ignoring abuses in places like Iran "while focusing its criticism excessively on Israel."
"The American people are disappointed by the failures of the Human Rights Council," Bush said. "The United Nations must reform its own Human Rights Council."
But the president's call for change came with the suggestion of a deal: the United States' support for the highly contentious issue of expanding the Security Council, the U.N.'s most powerful body. Bush suggested that Japan is "well-qualified" to be an additional member and said "other nations should be considered as well."
The council has 10 rotating members elected for two-year terms and five permanent members with veto power — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France. Bush said the United States would listen to all "good ideas."
Bush singled out Myanmar for particular attention.
"Basic freedoms of speech, assembly and worship are severely restricted," he said. "Ethnic minorities are persecuted. Forced child labor, human trafficking and rape are common. The regime is holding more than a thousand political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party was elected overwhelmingly by the Burmese people in 1990.
"The ruling junta remains unyielding, yet the people's desire for freedom is unmistakable," he said.
Bush said the United States would tighten economic sanctions on the leaders of the regime and their financial backers and impose an expanded visa ban on people responsible for human rights violations, as well as their family members. "We will continue to support the efforts of humanitarian groups working to alleviate suffering in Burma and urge the United Nations and all nations to use their diplomatic and economic leverage to help the Burmese people reclaim their freedom," he said.
The policies came as Myanmar's military government issued a threat Monday to the barefoot Buddhist monks who led 100,000 people marching through a major city. It was the strongest protest against the repressive regime in two decades.
About a dozen anti-war protesters were arrested during a peaceful demonstration of President Bush's speech before the U.N. General Assembly. They were among about 400 people opposing the Bush Administration's war in Iraq, and its incarceration in Guantanamo Bay of more than 300 men on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida or the Taliban. Many in the crowd wore orange jumpsuit in solidarity with the Guantanamo detainees.
The arrested demonstrators were taken into custody by police after kneeling on the sidewalk in an act of civil disobedience near the United Nations. One of them, 58-year-old Bill Ofenloch of Manhattan, said they were trying to serve an "arrest warrant" on Bush for "high crimes against humanity."
Bush spent Monday trying to revive the Mideast peace process. He was reminded of the hurdles as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas insisted that a U.S. peace conference deal with "issues of substance" — a sign of old skepticism that accompanies new hope.
Late Tuesday morning, Bush was to meet with another friend under tense circumstances, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The Iraqi leader is deeply frustrated over the killing of 11 Iraqi civilians by security guards with Blackwater USA, a private contractor

Syria set to reject peace talks offer
Guardian Unlimited

Syria is expected to rebuff an invitation from the US to attend a grand Middle East peace conference later this year because it does not believe that either the Bush administration or Israel wants to reach a comprehensive regional settlement.
President Bashar al-Assad has made no comment on Sunday's call by Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state. But diplomats said yesterday that the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Mouallem, will decline the offer when he holds talks at the UN this week - unless he receives ironclad assurances that the event will be more substantial than currently appears likely.
"Syria attaches more importance to the content than the formalities," a senior official said. "We have no interest in going just to have our photos taken."
The conference, centred on the Palestinians and Israel, is expected to be held in the Washington area in mid-November, but the details of the agenda and wider Arab attendance both remain uncertain.
Egypt and Jordan, which have peace treaties with Israel, are likely to go. But Saudi Arabia, godfather of the Arab peace initiative, is sending mixed signals. The Syrians and Saudis have been at loggerheads for months over Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and relations with Iran.
The 22-member Arab League, facing a damaging split, has warned it will not take part without a moratorium on Israeli settlement activity on Palestinian territory.
Ms Rice is reportedly seeking to widen the agenda of the conference. According to the state department, she has insisted that the event will be "serious and substantive" and will discuss the "core issues" of the conflict - borders, the status of refugees and the division of Jerusalem.
The last time Syria attended a Middle East peace conference was at Madrid, convened in a burst of optimism after the 1991 Gulf war. But its negotiations with Israel ended without agreement in 2000. Israel and the US are now demanding Syria ends its support for Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement, which has offices in Damascus, and Lebanon's Hizbullah.
Ms Rice said: "We hope that those who come are committed to helping the Israelis and the Palestinians find a way through. And that means renouncing violence, and working for a peaceful solution."
Sidestepping US demands, the senior Syrian official said: "The Americans want to freeze the Palestinian issue in order to finish whatever they want to finish in Iraq. They want to create headlines that they are moving forward on the Palestinian problem. The Israelis would like to impose their own view of the peace process."
The recent Israeli air raid on an unknown target in the far north of Syria has also cast doubts on hopes for renewed peace talks between the two countries.
Israel said it did not mind who was invited to the Washington conference, but it would have to be restricted "to the Palestinian track," one official said. Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, told the Knesset foreign affairs committee yesterday: "This is not a peace conference, but rather an international meeting aimed at offering international support to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process."

Syria Joins the Axis of Evil
Wall Street Journal
September 25, 2007; Page A19
The six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program are set to resume on Sept. 27 in Beijing. Since the last session, a raft of "working group" meetings and Democratic People's Republic of Korea propaganda events have purportedly shown "progress" in implementing the Feb. 13 agreement to eliminate the North's nuclear capabilities.
On Oct. 2, South Korean President Roh Muh-hyun will travel to Pyongyang to embrace Kim Jong Il. Mr. Roh hopes to boost political allies in a close presidential race against opponents of his appeasement policies.
But this entire diplomatic minuet has been reduced almost to insignificance by news from an unexpected place: the Middle East. A dramatic and apparently successful night-time Israeli air attack on Syria, whose details remain extraordinarily closely held, has increased the stakes. North Korea immediately condemned the raid, an action that raises this question: What is it about a raid in Syria that got Kim Jong Il's attention?
Israel's specific target is less important than the fact that with its objection to the raid, North Korea may have tipped its hand. Pyongyang's interest in the raid may be evidence of secret nuclear cooperation between the regime and Syria. There is much still unknown about a potential North Korea project in Syria, such as whether it was a direct sale of technology or equipment to the Syrians, a stand-alone facility or some sort of joint venture. In any case, the threat to Israel of such a project would be acute, perhaps existential -- which is why it would risk all-out regional war to strike pre-emptively.
Outsourcing strategic programs is nothing new for North Korea. For years, Pyongyang has been an aggressive proliferator of ballistic-missile technology, especially to the Middle East. In 1998, North Korea conducted a successful Taepo Dong missile launch and shortly thereafter gained an enormous propaganda boost by announcing a moratorium on launch-testing from its territory. But it didn't halt missile development and benefited greatly from Iran's ballistic missile program. Sharing data made eminent sense since both countries used the same basic Scud technology. Having successfully worked this shell game in ballistic missiles, it should come as no surprise that North Korea would try it again in the nuclear field.
Iran's increasing hegemony over Syria makes Syrian-North Korean cooperation in nuclear matters unlikely without its consent. Although Iran's involvement here is murky, its incentive to conceal its own nuclear program raises the possibility of a three-way deal. Most chillingly, the United States and Israel must now ask whether the Iranian and North Korean nuclear challenges can be resolved in isolation from one another.
Until more details become public, debate over the full extent of Syrian-North Korean cooperation will continue. What the Israeli attack highlights, however -- even if it does not prove conclusively for now -- is that North Korea is a global threat.
If the North is engaging in nuclear cooperation with Syria, the Feb. 13 agreement should be terminated. How much more evidence of mendacity do we need before we wake up? In fact, the Feb. 13 agreement is now merely a slogan. Its deadlines and its "actions for actions" mantra have disappeared, lost in a "process" of endless meetings and working groups. This "process" is inherently favorable to Kim Jong Il because it enables the North's legendary ability to trade the same obligation multiple times for tangible rewards, whether or not it performs.
Even if we "only" have evidence of continued North Korean ballistic missile cooperation with Syria, that alone should keep the North on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Syria -- and its senior partner, Iran -- are both long-time denizens of that same list of state sponsors of terrorism. Can we really delist North Korea when it partners with other terrorist states in the most destructive technologies?
Moreover, where are Syria's ballistic missiles -- and its weapons of mass destruction -- aimed? With American forces at risk in Iraq, no increase in the threats they face is acceptable, especially given Syria's record on Iraq to date. Syria remains at war with Israel and with Lebanon's Cedar Revolution. No one concerned about Israel's security or Lebanon's democracy should countenance giving North Korea a pass on the terrorism issue.
If the evidence is uncertain or mixed, the State Department will, unfortunately, desperately cling to "the process." If so, to protect the U.S. from the national security risk and international humiliation of another Pyongyang diplomatic triumph, we must insist on real dismantling of the North's nuclear program and a broad, deep and lasting verification mechanism. Moreover, what was once a subsidiary verification issue -- North Korean outsourcing off the Peninsula -- now assumes critical importance.
When will real verification experts from across our government finally receive a significant role? As one verifier said recently, "we'll know what's really going on when U.S. physicists start talking to [North Korean] physicists." State's diplomats should welcome this assistance, although traditionally they view the arrival of verifiers into arms control negotiations the same way Al Capone saw Elliot Ness and "The Untouchables." Of course, beyond negotiations, we need the concrete verification itself, which is barely a mirage in the six-party talks.
Developments in Syria should have brought the administration up short. Instead, the State Department has accelerated its efforts to declare "success," a deeply troubling and dangerous sign. This reflects a cultural problem at State, where "zeal for the deal" too often trumps the substance of the deal itself.
President Bush stands at a dispositive point regarding his personal legacy on North Korea. Until now, one could say with a straight face, if not entirely accurately, that implementing the Feb. 13 agreement was the State Department's responsibility. No longer. The Israeli strike and the possible Syrian-North Korean nuclear cooperation associated with it have presidential consequences. Further concessions to the North can now be laid only at the White House door, just as only the president can bring a tougher, more realistic attitude to the issue. That would be a real legacy.
**Mr. Bolton is senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defeating America at the U.N. and Abroad," forthcoming from Simon & Schuster.

Lebanese politicians seek safety in guarded hotel
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) -- Anti-Syrian lawmakers rattled by last week's assassination of one of their colleagues took refuge in a heavily guarded hotel Monday, a day before the deeply divided parliament convenes to elect a president.
A Lebanese soldier guards the Lebanese Parliament building in downtown Beirut Monday.
Security forces put together an elaborate plan sealing off downtown Beirut to allow the lawmakers to move safely Tuesday from the hotel to the parliament building a half-mile away.
Fears of an attack were high after Thursday's slaying of pro-government lawmaker Antoine Ghanem. It fueled accusations by government supporters that Syria is targeting members of the ruling coalition, a claim denied by Damascus.
Even without the tensions, the attempt to choose a successor to President Emile Lahoud by the time he steps down November 24 was expected to be a struggle between the anti-Syrian government coalition, led by U.S.-backed Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, and the opposition, led by Hezbollah, an ally of Syria and Iran.
The ruling coalition is eager to install one of its own to replace the pro-Syrian Lahoud, but the opposition has vowed to prevent that. Tuesday's session, the first in the process, is unlikely to yield any results. The opposition is expected to boycott, denying the necessary two-thirds quorum.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who is aligned with the opposition, pressed ahead with his efforts to find a compromise. On Monday, he met with Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, the influential spiritual head of the Maronite Catholic minority. Under Lebanon's sectarian-based political system, the president must be a Maronite.
Berri told reporters afterward he was optimistic Lebanon would have a consensus president by November 24. He said Ghanem's assassination was a motivation for all "to reach a solution acceptable to everybody."
But government supporters accuse Syria of seeking to end the ruling coalition's small majority in the 128-seat parliament -- 68 seats to the opposition's 59 -- by killing off lawmakers. They warn of a "new war" by Syria to undermine Lebanon.
Syria has denied involvement in the car bombing of Ghanem on a Beirut street or in seven previous assassinations of pro-government politicians since 2005, including that of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
At least 40 pro-government lawmakers have moved into the landmark Phoenicia Hotel, which is surrounded by concrete blocks and security forces. Two police armored vehicles were posted on intersections across from the Phoenicia on Monday.
Under a security plan starting Tuesday morning, the downtown area around parliament is to be sealed off to unauthorized vehicles, restaurants closed and traffic diverted to other roads. Security forces will ferry lawmakers between parliament and the hotel.
Others will protect lawmakers coming from the airport, returning from other countries where they have gone for their safety, Michel Pharaoun, minister for parliamentary affairs, told Voice of Lebanon radio.
If quorum is not reached, Berri was likely to set another session after the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday, which ends the holy month of Ramadan in mid-October, to allow both sides to try to reach a compromise.
The stakes are high: Failure to compromise could create a power vacuum leading to more political chaos.
The president, who is elected for one six-year term, has limited powers, but the post is seen as a uniting institution.
The ruling coalition has threatened to just elect a president of their own with a simple majority, eager to install an anti-Syrian candidate and end one of the vestiges of Damascus' decades-long political control of its smaller neighbor. Hezbollah and its allies have warned that they would not recognize a candidate elected in their absence and could elect a rival president.
If the parliament cannot elect a president by November 24, Siniora and his Cabinet would automatically take on executive powers. Some in the opposition have threatened that this could lead them to back another government they are urging Lahoud to appoint before he leaves office.
That could result in two rival administrations, as occurred in the last two years of Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war, when army units loyal to two governments fought it out.

Al Qaeda: An International Jihadi Operation?
Author: Walid Phares
Source: The Family Security Matters Foundation, Inc.
Date: September 22, 2007
The recent bounty offered by al Qaeda Iraq’s leader in connection to the Swedish cartoon of Mohammed sends a very clear message: al Qaeda in Iraq has bigger fish to fry than just the American presence there. FSM Contributing Editor Dr. Walid Phares shares his concerns about their alarming agenda.
The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq recently offered a bounty for the assassination of a Swedish cartoonist and his editor for having published drawings deemed insulting to religion. Omar al Baghdadi, in an audio statement said Lars Vilks, who “dared insult the Prophet”, should be killed for a reward of $100,000 and, if “slaughtered like a lamb”, the killer will receive another $50,000. In addition, he offered a Jihadi financial reward of $50,000 for the murder of Ulf Johansson, the editor of Nerikes Allehanda, the Swedish paper that printed Vilks’ cartoon on August 19th.
In the context of Global Jihadism, this second cartoon drama – after last year’s Danish crisis – if anything shows a dimension very relevant to the ongoing War on Terror. Indeed, the identity of the threat issuer is important, because it is al Qaeda in Iraq. This should send a significant message into the American and international debates about that conflict especially as the U.S. Congress, some of whom claim that Iraq is fighting only a civil war, is pressing for a rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops.
What the “Jihad bounty” tells us loud and clear is this: al Qaeda’s operation in Iraq is not, nor will it be, “only” about an American, Western or international presence. As the press release shows, this is clear evidence that those who are beheading, killing, maiming, kidnapping and blowing up Minarets in the Sunni Triangle and in the rest of Iraq have an agenda of international violence, and their launching pad is Iraq.
Regardless of the common sense or bad taste of the published cartoons this summer in the Swedish Nerikes Allehanda, or last year in the Danish Jyllands-Posten, why would al Qaeda Iraq – and not international, European, or even Scandinavian al Qaeda – initiate the release? Aren’t the other branches ideologically “insulted” too?
The answer is simple: The Iraqi branch of al Qaeda is using a cartoon published in Sweden, “deep inside infidel land,” to tell the world, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, that the emirate they want to build in Iraq – with blood and death – will have very long arms, capable of reaching Europe, America and beyond. Indeed, the logic of the release is not about “defending Iraq from occupiers” as claim many critics, but it’s about punishing anyone who insults religion anywhere around the world, with money – and maybe suicide bombers – coming from Iraq.
Again the Swedish cartoon, perhaps deemed offensive to devout Muslims, can be responded to in many forums and possibly in front of courts, depending on Swedish law. But al Baghdadi is telling us clearly that he and his ilk will determine whether an offense has taken place and, if so, how they will execute the offending artist as well as others involved and, as he said in his declaration, punish the entire country and its financial interests around the globe too.
Thus, al Qaeda Iraq is an international Jihadi operation which will – and now has demonstrated clearly that it would – strike thousands of miles away to satisfy its ideological vision of the world. For if tomorrow another “insult” is seen in London, Paris, New York, or Moscow, the terrorists of al Qaeda Iraq will fund and direct violence against the offenders, their cities, their countries, and their financial interests throughout the world.
Therefore, because of a cartoon, a Van Gogh-like tragedy could occur in Stockholm and companies such as Ericsson, Scania, Volvo, Ikea, and Electrolux, may be targeted – either by al Qaeda or by homegrown Jihadists. Other artists around the world and millions of workers in companies originating in liberal democracies will be at risk because of the imagination (albeit sometimes very insensitive) of one’s free mind. But this is what the Enlightenment has produced: free choice. And this is what al Qaeda Iraq is telling the world: there is no free choice, and we will punish you if you exercise it, at our own discretion.
Vilks told The Associated Press that he can “only hope that Muslims in Europe and in the Western world choose to distance themselves from this and support the idea of freedom of expression." His Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told the 22 Sweden-based ambassadors from Muslim countries that he regrets the hurt it may have caused, but said that according to Swedish law it is not up to politicians to punish the free press.
Eventually mainstream Muslims will – understandably – vehemently criticize the offense in the substance of the sketch, but will adhere to the norms of international law, particularly the freedom of press and expression. The issue, now becoming chronic, will generate debates in the Muslim world and internationally. But aside from this cultural clash, al Qaeda Iraq has just reminded us that indeed, it wants and will use a launching pad to wage terror attacks worldwide.
Just remember that Sweden, unlike Denmark – and certainly in opposition to the United States – has opposed the War in Iraq, doesn’t have troops in the region and, ironically, funds many associations inside its own borders that promote Jihadism as an ideology. Swedish foreign policy is the best Islamists could lobby for in the West. And yet, this Scandinavian economy was menaced from as far away as the Anbar province.
Just imagine if the Coalition surrenders the area – not to an Iraqi democratic government – but to a full fledged Taliban-like regime.

The Revolution is Fading
Written by Roman Lederer

Published Monday, September 24, 2007
Lebanese MP Antoine Ghanem is laid to rest. (Roman Lederer/TML Photos)
[Beirut] Accompanied by the sound of mourning music, May Chidiac leaves the church through the side door. For a moment a smile lightens up the face of the popular TV presenter, who, two years ago, lost an arm and a leg when a bomb exploded under her car.
Then, leaning on the shoulder of a woman dressed all in black, Chidiac disappears into the crowd of policemen, soldiers and private security personnel, who have gathered around the Church of Sacré Coeur in East Beirut’s quarter of Furn A- Shabek.
Security is tight on this Friday, as Beirut mourns another murdered critic of Syria: the 64-year-old member of parliament Antoine Ghanem, who was killed on September 23, less than a week before the Lebanese parliament was scheduled to elect a new president.
Since the morning, the four-lane Salim Sulh Avenue, where the Catholic-Maronite Sacré Coeur congregation has its home, has been blocked to traffic. Men sporting dark sunglasses, walkie-talkies and machine guns in their hands patrol in front of the church. A handful of crosses, propped up with flowers, stand next to the entrance.
Long white banners adorned with stylized green cedar trees – the symbol of the right-wing Kataib Party to which Ghanem belonged – hang down from Sacré Coeur’s clock tower. Ten months ago, assassins killed Pierre Gemayel, the son of Kataib head, Amin Gemayel. Together with 3,000 demonstrators, the man whose brother Bashir – an ally of Israel – was killed in 1982, has to mourn yet another victim of the anti-Syrian “Cedar Revolution,” which reached its climax in the spring of 2005.
But, more than two years later, the beat of the revolution is fading. The masses, which kicked out the Syrian troops after almost 30 years of presence, now prefer to stay home – or abroad. Take the example of Ghanem: out of fear of an assassination he spent the whole summer in Abu Dhabi, only returning on Sunday last week.
Newspapers reported that he asked for an armoured vehicle immediately after his arrival. The special licence plate for parliamentarians was found still attached to the burned-out car at the assassination site.
But the game of hide-and-seek did not save him: besides him, his two bodyguards lost their lives, as well as two civilians, pulled into death through the force of the 35-kg bomb.
“We won’t give in, we always come back,” Ilija Rabaa says.
In his hand Rabaa holds a flag displaying the green cedar of the Lebanese Forces (LF), the former militia of the Kataib, which only turned into a party after the end of the civil war in 1990. It’s not the first funeral he is attending: when Pierre Gemayel was killed last November, he was at the rally at Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square the day after.
And, of course, he joined the demonstration on February 14, the day on which, two years earlier, former prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri was killed. Tens of thousands of Lebanese joined the march in his memory in February – and to revive the spirit of the “Cedar Revolution” of 2005, which forced the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.
But the spirit of those days seems to be passing. Just a couple of days ahead of the presidential elections, the so-called “March 14” alliance – named after the date the largest demonstration during the “Beirut Spring” of 2005 took place – has been caught on the defensive.
Ghanem is the eighth prominent member of the alliance who has been killed since Al-Hariri’s assassination. Afraid of more political murders, around 40 deputies have locked themselves up in the noble seaside Phoenicia Hotel ahead of the vote on Tuesday.
The mourners in front of Sacré Coeur still blame Syria for the series of attacks that the United Nations’ Independent International Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) has been investigating for well over two years.
“The Syrian regime killed Ghanem and the others because it wants to destroy Lebanon,” says Noura Abu Asir, a young member of Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party (PSP).
Together with Gemayel, LF chief Samir Geagea and Hariri’s son Sa’ad, Jumblatt heads the gathering of mourners on this silent Friday.
On Tuesday they will see each other again in parliament in Beirut’s highly secured downtown district to decide who might succeed the incumbent Emile Lahoud as Lebanon’s next president. A two-thirds majority in the first round is what March 14 would need to get the post – something they don’t have. And with only 68 of formerly 128 deputies, even the simple majority for a second or third round is getting thinner.
Thus the fear continues: After a silent hour of speeches and mourning music the prominent visitors leave Sacré Coeur, tightly followed by their bodyguards. Only when Geagea walks down the wide set of stairs does the crowd cheer up: “Hakim, Hakim,” (“Doctor, Doctor”) they scream, the nickname of the former militia chief.
Copyright © 2007 The Media Line. All Rights Reserved.

CommentsAcademia’s Failure is Ahmedinejad’s Success

by Walid Phares
Posted: 09/25/2007
Without doubt the United States failed to deal at all -- far less effectively -- with Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s propaganda stunt on American soil this week. And this failure shows that the Jihadist global machine, both Khomeinst and Salafist, is winning the public relations part of the war of ideas.
In forty eight hours, the executive head of one of the most repressive regimes in the world was able to score points from the podium of one of the most prestigious universities in the US and later on -- today -- from the General Assembly of the United Nations. There was an opposition to the Holocaust denier, and naturally many Americans demonstrated against his appearances. New York officials opposed his visit to Ground Zero and Iranian-Americans voiced their pain for the torture and oppression his regime is causing in their homeland.
But at the end of the day, the man who oversees terror operations against American and Iraqi soldier , who threatens to obliterate entire nations with nuclear weapons so that the world can live “without them,” and who backs the leader in Damascus who is involved in the assassination of politicians in Lebanon won. Mahmoud Ahmedinejad made it to the United Nations and more importantly, to the heart of Columbia University, scoring important political points against American efforts to contain terrorism, to defend democracies and to assist peoples in jeopardy, including Iran’s.
Although the Iranian regime has involved itself in major breaches of international law and in oppression for over a quarter of a century, the present state of affairs at the United Nations doesn’t enable the organization to even abide by its own charter and universal declaration of human rights. Even though his regime has suppressed and continues to brutalize their own society, including women, students and minorities; and despite the fact that Tehran’s petrodollars fund Hezbollah and Hamas; and as a nuclear bomb will soon be in the hands of the Pasdarans, this United Nations cannot stop the symbol of all these threats from performing business at the General Assembly.
Short of a major UN reform, war criminals (especially if they have the foundation of oil revenues) will continue to be honored in Manhattan’s blue building. But there was worse on New York soil.
Columbia’s academic and administrative leadership, shattering common sense and demonstrating a stunning lack of knowledge, invited the man who pledged to terminate America and other nations to their microphone to lecture his victims through the media. One shouldn’t blame Ahmdinijad for coming, for he is the foe. But one must realize how catastrophic has become a large segment of the country’s intellectual elite, how suicidal and how ignorant.
Behind a façade of architectural buildings, history and prestigious appearance, the leadership of Columbia looked primitive in comparison with the shrewd propagandists of the Iranian regime. Standing across from the foxy dictator, Columbia’s president thought he would be demonstrating skills in mind games as he threw a few “hard” questions at his guest. Unfortunately for the United States, he failed, miserably, and with him the panache of American academia. Here is why:
One, in his so-called criticism of Ahmedinejad, which he thought enough to justify the invitation, President Lee Bollinger said “you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator.” The public must realize that in this game of words, Bollinger didn’t say “you are” but he said “you exhibit” which means you show the signs, and you are accused of. In reality the introduction was a pass from which Ahmedinejad didn’t need to defend himself. To connoisseurs of how propagandists outmaneuver liberal democracies, the so called criticism by the US academic was part of a game, already rehearsed by the Iranian speaker. This was the first failure.
Two, Columbia’s leadership, its academics and influenced students, flashed the believed-to-be invincible argument of “we need to know more about him.” Yes, it is a wonderful thought, but why would an Ivy League establishment needs to listen personally to a speech by the Iran dictator to learn about his thinking? What happened to the multi million dollars programs supposedly teaching about the Middle East, its politics, its ideologies and its leaders?
Ahmedinejad is constantly in the news, informing the world about his intentions and objectives. He isn’t the silenced dissident to be given a podium, he is the one who is silencing them, and by giving him the podium he was given one more hour to further silence them. This was a second failure.
Three, the advocates of this dictator show-off argued that at least “there should be a dialogue.” Columbia’s President and some academics said naively that he will be asked “hard questions:” Wonderful, but by whom? And why were they so self-deluded to believe he’d answer them? Has President Bollinger been a political prisoner in Tehran? Have any of his professors been tortured by the Mullah regime before they were asked to challenge their bully: obviously not. If Columbia and the self projected truth seekers wanted to achieve a commendable goal, and if they wished to challenge minds, they should have asked Ahmedinejad to face off with a panel of Iranian dissidents. This is how American liberalism can distinguish itself with intelligence. Those qualified to challenge the man of the mullahs are those who have suffered at the hands of his henchmen.
If you want to play hardball with a violent figure like Ahmedinejad don’t organize a press conference for him and call it a lecture don’t describe it as a dialogue when there are no other knowledgeable parties to challenge him; and don’t lead the American public into the expired slogans of the 1990s. Remember that the nation that suffered 9/11 grew smarter than its own elite.
Dr Walid Phares is the Director of Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense for Democracies and the author of The War of Ideas: Jihadism against Democracies. Professor Phares taught at St Joseph University, Florida Atlantic University and the National Defense University.

Lebanese Crisis Could Turn Violent
Angelique van Engelen - 9/26/2007
The killing of Christian member of parliament Antoine Ghanem last Wednesday has made it clear that regional and international conflicts are more than tangible in Lebanon. Politics in this country mirrors the struggle between Israel and Syria and the pro-Sunni Arab nations’ jostle for regional influence outrivalling Shi’ite Iran. And the puzzle pieces together too in the greater context of the American struggle with Iran.
The car bomb which also killed four other people, further complicates the Lebanese Parliament’s election September 25 of a new President. With only days to go, there is hardly any clarity as yet where the balance is struck in the election of a successor to outgoing President Emile Lahoud.
Ghanem (64), a member of the Christian Phalange party, was the seventh anti-Syrian figure to be slain since the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Last November, industry minister Pierre Gemayel, also of the Phalange Party, was assassinated.
It is important to understand the rifts in the country’s political elite because indications are that if a compromise solution to Presidential succession isn’t reached before September 25, the ‘political crisis could turn violent’, writes ISA consulting, an independent intelligence organization.
To convey the magnitude of the the precariousness of Lebanon’s internal affairs; Ghanem's death isn’t just a political blow, it also literally impacts on the status of play in politics. The deduction by one of the anti Syrian Parliamentary majority that rules the country, means this majority of Sunnis, Christians and Druze factions has even less of a majority of 68 in the 128-member parliament. The vote for a successor to the incumbent President Lahoud is now even less secured of the required two-thirds quorum.
The Lebanese opposition, made up of Shi'ites and Christians includes Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, has been keeping the country in a paralysis since the end of last year by effectively rendering governing impossible by walking out and subsequently organising protest meetings during so called ‘sit ins’. The opposition is threatening to boycott parliament, so that the legally required two-thirds quorum for the election of a President is beyond reach.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who has drawn up a plan for a deal between the opposition and the incumbent government, has been negotiating with Sa'ad Hariri, and Nasrallah Butros Sfeir. Sa'ad Hariri is the Saudi Arabia backed Sunni Future Movement leader as well as the leader of the pro-government coalition and Nasrallah Butros Sfeir is the patriarch of the Maronite Christians, whilst Nabih Berri is a pro-Syrian opposition member. Late Thursday, political sources told reporters the attempts to defuse the crisis had been without success.
The scenarios for the next few days in Lebanese politics? In an ideal world, parties will manage to strike a deal whereby the opposition agrees to give up on its claim that it has two thirds of the votes in return for agreement on a proposed Presidential candidate. If such an agreement is not reached, the chances are pretty much considered zero that a President is elected on time. In that case, analysts at ISI say, his powers are automatically transferred to the government. Some of the pro Syrian political leaders currently in power will then attempt to impose their candidate, which is not without its risks. “The fragile Lebanese political system stands in danger of total breakdown”, according to ISI.
They add, that come what may, “Syria will maintain significant influence over Lebanese political life regardless of the presidential vote result.” The international jostle for influence in tiny Lebanon’s internal affairs on a more immediate level is mostly the prerogative of not only Syria, but also of Saudi Arabia. The rivalry between Damascus and Riyad became most visible when the Saudis temporarily recalled their ambassador in Beirut because his life was feared for.
Meanwhile, the International Court of Justice in The Hague has started proceedings for the trial of the suspected murderers of President Rafiq Hariri, who was assassinated in February 2005. Hizbollah, Amal and allied pro-Syrian ministers have in the past been strongly opposed to this. They quit their posts last year having narrowly missed a convincing one-third majority that they would have used to block the international tribunal to try those held responsible for the al-Hariri murder.
The special tribunal in the Hague that was approved a few months ago by the UN has strong support of the US government. The preliminary investigation into the Hariri murder has found evidence of Syrian and Lebanese intelligence involvement in the assassination as well as clues as to what led to the murders of the recently killed anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians, ISI writes. The case is being transferred to legal experts in the international court of Justice in The Hague.
Anti Syrian political leaders have strongly condemned the killing of Ghanem and many hold Syria responsible for his death. Many politicians reiterated that the spate of killings of politicians and journalists over the past two years have all been acts of Syrian aggression. They believe it is Damascus’ way of imposing its own candidate for the upcoming presidential election. Druse leader Walid Jumblatt called on the international community to protect Lebanon against the Syrian-Iranian alliance, which has brought nothing but harm.
Syria officially denied all involvement in the killing of Ghanem and has condemned the attack. This country finds itelf increasingly isolated. It will be interesting to see how Syria will pursue its drive for power in Lebanon. If a compromise on the next Lebanese President is achieved, it will be a major victory for the US State Department. But that is deemed highly unlikely.
**Angelique van Engelen is a freelance journalist who is involved in, a journalistic project that combines reporting with Twitter. She crowdsourced opinions on this issue on this site.