DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 9,1-6. He summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal (the sick). He said to them, "Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them."Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.
Time for Lebanon to prove it deserves to determine its own destiny.The Daily Star. September 26/07
Latest News Reports From
Miscellaneous Sources for September 26/07
Kouchner Cancels Meeting With Moallem-Naharnet
Rice: Syria's Arms Supplies to Hizbullah Key Reason for Israel-Damascus Tensions-Naharnet
Lebanon Less Corrupt than Iran, Libya, Syria-Naharnet
Lebanon's Last Chance to Make or Break-Naharnet
Hizbullah Fighter Escapes Attempt on Life-Naharnet
U.N. to Restate Support for Free, Fair Presidential Election in Lebanon-Naharnet
Bush: Civilized Nations Should Stand with Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq-Naharnet
Can Lebanon's rival camps elect president?.Reuters
Hariri For Finishing Off the Assad Regime.Naharnet
Syria's attendance at summit is vital to peace process - EU.Jerusalem Post
Syria willing to place Shaba Farms in UN custody.Ha'aretz
Ynet reporter visits site of Syria operation.Ynetnews
11 Fatah Islam Members Indicted for Terrorism-Naharnet
Will Hizballah Attack UN Troops?TIME
Where's the UN?Commentary - New York,NY,USA
Is Syria Slipping? Asharq Alawsat
Riyadh calls for Lebanese to choose consensus candidate.Daily Star
Postponement of Lebanese election draws mixed response from leaders-Daily Star
They came, they saw, they adjourned to October 23-Daily Star
All sides repeat denials of training for war, but-Daily Star
Chronology of events leading up to Lebanon's political stalemate.AFP
Top banker warns Lebanese politicians to end impasse-Daily Star
UN-backed plan to curb power usage in Lebanon hits high gear-Daily Star
Solidere surges in heavier trade on Beirut Stock Exchange-Daily Star
Hordes of security forces guard Downtown Beirut-Daily Star
Beirut gets treated to the antics of an unorganized clown who isn't a politician-Daily Star
'We're with ya:' Bush assures Maliki of unwavering American backing as more than 40 die-Daily Star
Berlin charges Syrian-German with espionage.AFP
Laura Bush to visit Mideast to focus on breast cancer.AFP
Iranian president gets rough ride in New York-Daily Star
Phares on al Jazeera on "Iran's expansionism"
الاتجاه المعاكس- استهداف أميركا لإيران
Dr Walid Phares will be on a rerun on al Jazeera TV
on "Iran's expansionism" at 7:05 AM (US-EST) and 2:05 PM (Eastern Mediterranean)
Dr Phares' main points made during the "cross fire" show with an Iranian senior expert on "Iran's National security":
1. The Iranian regime is waging wars "left and right" from Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, the Gulf and all the way to Argentina.
2. The Iranian regime has appointed military overseeing the nuclear program, so
how can it not be about a nuclear weapon?
3. Tehran is spending its Oil revenues on funding terror through Hezbollah, Hamas and the Pasdaran, instead of supporting its own people to develop a middle class.
4. The Ayatollah regime is oppressing its own minorities in Khusistan, Kurdistan, Baluch and its women, students and labor unions.
5. The Iranian occupation of three Arab islands, the Tumb, is a reminder of the threat to the UAE and Bahrein, which was threatened lately by Iranian officials to be "recaptured" by the Islamic Republic.
6. The Palestinian authority didn't mandate Khamenei to build a nuclear bomb and throw it on Israel.
7. Tehran is backing a regime, the Baath of Damascus, which is involved in assassinations of legislators in Lebanon and backing Hezbollah which wants to bring down a democratically elected Government in Beirut.
8. The Iranian regime is mismanaging the country's natural resources. How can it be that Iran buys 40% of its need in gas and petrol? Why isn't the regime reforming the economy and helping the poor instead of spending on excessive military structures?
9. Iran is developing nuclear technology, long range ballistic missiles and is threatening countries with "vanishing." Isn't this a prelude to the use of nuclear weapons?
10. The world can't trust a regime that oppresses its own people and is building a weapon that can mass murder other peoples.
11. Iran wants to back the so-called struggle of Arabs while it is oppressing the Arabs in Khusistan's province.
12. The Pasdaran and the Quds forces are behind terror in Iraq and in Aghanistan.
The full text of the "cross fire" will be posted on al Jazeera web site in the next few days.
Rice: Syria's Arms Supplies to
Hizbullah Key Reason for Israel-Damascus Tensions
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Syria's continued supply of weapons to Hizbullah remains the "most acute" reason for tension between Israel and Damascus. "There are lots of reasons to be concerned about Syria and Israel," Rice said in an interview with Fox TV. "… The most urgent, immediate one is that after the war in Lebanon, when Hizbullah was knocked back, Syria has been the principal supplier for weapons coming in to Hizbullah," Rice said. "And this has actually been publicly acknowledged by the Lebanese and others. Rice said that for the Israelis to watch Hizbullah rebuild "was a problem, and so we've been trying to work with the Lebanese on that issue.""But there are lots of reasons for Syrian-Israeli tensions. I think that's one of the most acute," she stressed.
Rice said Israel was not the only country "that is just really concerned about Syria. "What Syria is doing in Lebanon, what Syria is doing with the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq, what Syria is doing in supporting Hamas by letting them keep their offices in Damascus - these are all really threats to a different kind of Middle East.
"So I can imagine that Roger, who mentioned this when we first started, might say then why in the world would you want to invite Syria to a meeting, an international meeting that is supposed to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Rice pointed out that the Syrians are members of the Arab Follow-on Committee, the committee that the Arab League put together to have follow-on discussions about their peace initiative. "This initiative will be one of the pillars for the discussions in the meeting because we really would like to see not just a Palestinian-Israeli track but really the Arabs need to get accustomed to the idea that Israeli is going to be there, too. Rice accused Syria of intimidating the Lebanese, saying that the problem is that the Syrians do not "really accept that they are no longer in Lebanon."
"And they (Syrians) have tried through intimidation and support for any number of their allies in Lebanon to make life very difficult for the democratically elected government there."So yes, they do have to be pressured," Rice assured. In response to a question, Rice said she believed that there was a chance that "the reasonable, responsible Sunni Arab states that are very worried about the Iranian influence and Iranian aggressiveness form a kind of natural set of friends, allies, to try to do several things in the Middle East."She cited the formation of a Palestinian state that can "live side by side with Israel" as one thing that could be done "and therefore end that conflict and put us on the way to reconciliation of Arabs and Israelis."
Secondly, Rice went on, is to "try to support the Lebanese Government … and also to have better policies toward Iraq." She admitted that Iraq was the hardest of all "because Iraq - what we've had to try to convince the Sunni Arab states of is that just because Iraq's Government is Shiite majority, it is not Iranian-backed. That there can be a Shiite-majority government that is Arab in its character and integrated into the Arab world is not an easy argument.
Rice said one of the reasons that it was so important to get the violence in Iraq under control was that "without some reduction in that kind of sectarian violence led by death squads which the Iraqi army simply couldn't handle, without some reduction there was no way that you were going to begin to get a basis for any kind of political reconciliation." Beirut, 26 Sep 07, 12:30
U.N. to Restate Support for Free, Fair Presidential Election in Lebanon
The United Nations has circulated a draft statement that restates support for free and fair presidential elections in Lebanon.
The daily An Nahar on Wednesday quoted a French diplomatic source as saying that the statement, under examination, is expected to be finalized within the coming days. It said the statement also reiterates adherence to implementation of all U.N. Security Council resolutions on Lebanon, particularly 1559, 1680 and 1701.
Members of the Security Council … call for timely, free and fair presidential election in accordance with constitutional norms and away from any external interference," the draft statement said.It said members of the Security Council "encourage all efforts" in this regard, and stress the need for the "cessation of violence and intimidation" against Lebanese MPs and institutions. An Nahar said the statement also reiterates its backing to Lebanon's sovereignty, independence and safety of its territories with its internationally recognized borders. Beirut, 26 Sep 07, 08:33
Hizbullah Fighter Escapes Attempt on Life
A Hizbullah fighter escaped an attempt on his life after he jumped from his car before a hand grenade exploded under the vehicle in southern Lebanon on Wednesday, police said.They said Ahmed Mhanna tried to start his car when he heard an object falling from the vehicle which was parked near his home in Jbal al-Botm, east of the southern port city of Tyre. Mhanna leapt from the vehicle just in time to escape the explosion of the hand grenade which had been placed on the left front tire. The car was damaged but he was unhurt. Police said they had started an investigation. Hizbullah, which fought a devastating war with Israel last summer, spearheads the country's Syrian- and Iranian-backed opposition. The grenade attack came a day after the Lebanese parliament postponed a vote on a new president to replace pro-Syrian incumbent Emile Lahoud to allow more time for a consensus to be reached between the rival sides.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 26 Sep 07, 13:35
Lebanon's Last Chance to Make or Break
The four-week delay in electing a new president was seen Wednesday by the government and opposition alike as a last chance to prevent an escalation of the political crisis in Lebanon. "From now, and until October 23 we have a new chance, it is a real chance for reconciliation," parliament speaker Nabih Berri, a prominent opposition leader, told As-Safir newspaper. Lebanon's parliament on Tuesday adjourned for four weeks a crucial session for MPs to elect a new president and to allow more time for rival deputies to reach agreement on a consensus candidate. "One month ... either agreement or confrontation," read the front-page headline in Al-Balad newspaper, which is close to the Western-backed ruling majority in parliament. "Race in the final month: agreement or collapse," agreed the opposition daily Al-Akhbar. Tuesday's brief parliament session allowed leaders of the ruling majority to renew contact with the opposition, which is strongly supported by neighboring Syria and regional ally Iran.
"The parliament session for the election of a new president of the republic did not take place, but it was a turning point in setting up an entente between the ruling majority and the opposition," commented As-Safir. For the first time in months, parliamentary majority leader MP Saad Hariri met twice on Tuesday with Berri who has vowed to pursue contacts with the other camp to try reaching agreement through dialogue.
"We hope for good results at the end. And this will not happen without both sides ... working together to salvage the country," Berri said.
Berri said "reconciliation is a victory for everybody without exception. It is not a victory for one party without the other, and it is not a victory of one party at the expense of the other "We have to build on it. And the more we speed up the work, the better it is for the country," he said.
Most of the 58 MPs from the Hizbullah-led opposition boycotted Tuesday's session on the grounds that the feuding political parties had failed to agree on a consensus candidate to replace Lahoud. MPs from the ruling majority have made clear they plan to go ahead with a vote when lawmakers reconvene in October even if no agreement has been struck.
But opposition deputies have warned that any attempt by the majority to force through a vote would be a "declaration of war", in the words of Christian opposition leader and presidential candidate Michel Aoun. Fears are running high that the deadlock over the presidency could lead to two rival governments, a grim reminder of the final years of the 1975-1990 civil war when two competing administrations battled it out. Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government has been paralyzed since opposition forces withdrew their six ministers from the cabinet in November 2006 in a bid to gain veto power in cabinet.
Tuesday's session came in a tense atmosphere after the assassination last week of MP Antoine Ghanem from the ruling coalition, the sixth deputy from the anti-Syrian camp killed since 2005.(AFP) Beirut, 26 Sep 07, 15:15
Lebanon Less Corrupt than Iran, Libya, Syria
Lebanon was rated Wednesday a corrupt nation by the Transparency International in the same category with Algeria, Armenia and Mongolia, but in a much better status than Iran, Libya and Syria Following are the rankings of 180 nations studied by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International for its annual Corruption Perceptions Index, released Wednesday. The index score relates to perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts and ranges between zero, which is highly corrupt, and 10, which is very clean.
=1. Denmark 9.4
=1. Finland 9.4
=1. New Zealand 9.4
=4. Singapore 9.3
=4. Sweden 9.3
6. Iceland 9.2
=7. Netherlands 9.0
=7. Switzerland 9.0
=9. Canada 8.7
=9. Norway 8.7
11. Australia 8.6, =12. Luxembourg 8.4, =12. Britain 8.4, 14. Hong Kong 8.3, 15. Austria 8.1, 16. Germany 7.8, =17. Ireland 7.5, =17. Japan 7.5, 19. France 7.3, 20. USA 7.2, 21. Belgium 7.1, 22. Chile 7.0, 23. Barbados 6.9, 24. Saint Lucia 6.8, =25. Spain 6.7, =25. Uruguay 6.7,
27. Slovenia 6.6, =28. Estonia 6.5, =28. Portugal 6.5, =30. Israel 6.1, =30. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 6.1, 32. Qatar 6.0, 33. Malta 5.8, =34. Macao 5.7, =34. Taiwan 5.7, =34. United Arab Emirates 5.7, 37. Dominica 5.6, 38. Botswana 5.4, =39. Cyprus 5.3, =39. Hungary 5.3, =41. Czech Republic 5.2, =41. Italy 5.2, =43. Malaysia 5.1, =43. South Africa 5.1, =43. South Korea 5.1, =46. Bahrain 5.0, =46. Bhutan 5.0, =46. Costa Rica 5.0, =49. Cape Verde 4.9, =49 Slovakia 4.9,
=51. Latvia 4.8, =51. Lithuania 4.8, =53. Jordan 4.7, =53. Mauritius 4.7, =53. Oman 4.7, 56. Greece 4.6, =57. Namibia 4.5, =57. Samoa 4.5, =57. Seychelles 4.5, 60. Kuwait 4.3, =61. Cuba 4.2, =61. Poland 4.2, =61. Tunisia 4.2, =64. Bulgaria 4.1, =64. Croatia 4.1, =64. Turkey 4.1, 67. El Salvador 4.0, 68. Colombia 3.8, =69. Ghana 3.7, =69. Romania 3.7, 71. Senegal 3.6, =72. Brazil 3.5, =72. China 3.5, =72. India 3.5, =72. Mexico 3.5, =72. Morocco 3.5, =72. Peru 3.5, =72. Suriname 3.5
=79. Georgia 3.4, =79. Grenada 3.4, =79. Saudi Arabia 3.4, =79. Serbia 3.4, =79. Trinidad and Tobago 3.4, =84. Bosnia and Hercegovina 3.3, =84. Gabon 3.3, =84. Jamaica 3.3, =84. Kiribati 3.3, =84. Lesotho 3.3, =84. Macedonia 3.3, =84. Maldives 3.3, =84. Montenegro 3.3, =84. Swaziland 3.3, =84. Thailand 3.3, =94. Madagascar 3.2, =94. Panama 3.2, =94. Sri Lanka 3.2, =94. Tanzania 3.2, 98. Vanuatu 3.1, =99. Algeria 3.0, =99. Armenia 3.0, =99. Belize 3.0, =99. Dominican Republic 3.0, =99. Lebanon 3.0, =99. Mongolia 3.0
=105. Albania 2.9, =105. Argentina 2.9, =105. Bolivia 2.9, =105. Burkina Faso 2.9, =105. Djibouti 2.9, =105. Egypt 2.9, =111. Eritrea 2.8, =111. Guatemala 2.8, =111. Moldova 2.8, =111. Mozambique 2.8, =111. Rwanda 2.8, =111. Solomon Islands 2.8, =111. Uganda 2.8, =118. Benin 2.7, =118. Malawi 2.7, =118. Mali 2.7, =118. Sao Tome and Principe 2.7, =118. Ukraine 2.7, =123. Comoros 2.6, =123. Guyana 2.6, =123. Mauritania 2.6, =123. Nicaragua 2.6, =123. Niger 2.6, =123. East Timor 2.6, =123. Vietnam 2.6, =123. Zambia 2.6,
=131. Burundi 2.5, =131. Honduras 2.5, =131. Iran 2.5, =131. Libya 2.5, =131. Nepal 2.5, =131. Philippines 2.5, =131. Yemen 2.5, =138. Cameroon 2.4, =138. Ethiopia 2.4, =138. Pakistan 2.4, =138. Paraguay 2.4, =138. Syria 2.4, =143. Gambia 2.3, =143. Indonesia 2.3, =143. Russia 2.3, =143. Togo 2.3, =147. Angola 2.2, =147. Guinea-Bissau 2.2, =147. Nigeria 2.2, =150. Azerbaijan 2.1, =150. Belarus 2.1, =150. Republic of Congo 2.1, =150. Ivory Coast 2.1, =150. Ecuador 2.1, =150. Kazakhstan 2.1, =150. Kenya 2.1, =150. Kyrgyzstan 2.1, =150. Liberia 2.1, =150. Sierra Leone 2.1, =150. Tajikistan 2.1, =150. Zimbabwe 2.1,
=162. Bangladesh 2.0, =162. Cambodia 2.0, =162. Central African Republic 2.0, =162. Papua New Guinea 2.0, =162. Turkmenistan 2.0, =162. Venezuela 2.0, =168. Democratic Republic of Congo 1.9, =168. Equatorial Guinea 1.9, =168. Guinea 1.9, =168. Laos 1.9, =172. Afghanistan 1.8, =172. Chad 1.8, =172. Sudan 1.8, =175. Tonga 1.7, =175. Uzbekistan 1.7, 177. Haiti 1.6, 178. Iraq 1.5, =179. Myanmar 1.4, =179. Somalia 1.4(AFP-Naharnet)
Beirut, 26 Sep 07, 15:34
Message from the Lebanese
Information Centre (LIC)
HRes. 548 passed today the House of Representatives almost unanimously: 415 Members voted for. (Only 2 voted against: Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul.)
This Resolution specifies the policy of the U.S. Congress towards Lebanon. It sends a clear message that there in no change in Congress' support for Lebanon's sovereignty and democracy, for the Cedar Revolution and for the Siniora Government. It deals a blow to those who thought that the Democrats in Congress will reverse previous policies towards Lebanon, and will tolerate Syrian interference in this country. Congratulations and Thanks to all of you who helped.
Below Statements from Chairman Gary Ackerman who introduced the Resolution.
Ackerman Resolution on Lebanon Passed by House
(Washington, DC) Congressman Gary L. Ackerman today led the House of Representatives to pass of his resolution calling for strong U.S. support for the government of Lebanon by a vote of 415 to 2. Ackerman, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, warned the House that "Lebanon is being bullied" by Iran, Syria and their proxies, Hezbollah, Amal and Gen. Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement.
Citing the campaign of assassinations, bombings, weapons smuggling and the instigation of a jihadi insurgency, Ackerman slammed Damascus and Tehran for destablizing Lebanon in order to pursue their own national interests.
"Now is the time for Congress to send a strong message of support for the democratically elected and fully legitimate government in Lebanon" Ackerman said. "Time is short. The Syrian-backed campaign of murder is creeping ever closer to its goal of destroying the majority of the Lebanese parliament, bringing down the government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, and again imposing a pro-Syrian president on Lebanon."
Ackerman added, "The current Lebanese government, which is under siege, is both legitimate and representative of the majority of Lebanese. The attempts to undermine it are not some kind of retaliation. Lebanon's government is being systematically attacked only because it is unwilling to subordinate its authority and Lebanon’s sovereignty to external and extra-legal demands."
The resolution, H. Res. 548 condemns Syria and Iran for providing arms to Lebanese militias, particularly the terrorist group Hezbollah, and Palestinian factions in Lebanon in clear contravention of Security Council resolutions and endorses "prompt action" by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon established by the Security Council to investigate the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005. The resolution also pledges continued U.S. material support to help preserve and strengthen Lebanese sovereignty and independence.
On September 19, a massive car bomb killed Antoine Ghanem along with 5 other civilians, and left many dozens of innocent bystanders wounded. Mr Ghanem, a member of the Lebanese parliament, and a supporter of the Siniora government, was just the latest in a string of 11 political assassinations over the past three years. As a consequence of this pattern of violence, the Lebanon's ruling March 14 alliance’s majority has dropped from 72 to 68 out of 127.
Rep. Gary L. Ackerman
Statement in Support of H. Res. 548
September 25, 2007
Mr. Speaker, what's been happening in Lebanon is extreme aggression in the classic sense of the word. Through a campaign of assassinations targeting Lebanese parliamentarians and political figures; bombings in public places; threats to establish an alternative extra-constitutional government; and the instigation of a jihadi insurgency by the Fatah al-Islam, Syria, Iran and their boot-licking proxies, Hezbollah, Amal and Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, have brought Lebanon’s government to a constitutional crisis. Yet again, outside actors have pushed Lebanon to the brink of civil war for their own selfish interests.
Just 6 days ago, on September 19, a massive car bomb killed Antoine Ghanem along with 5 other civilians, and left many dozens of innocent bystanders wounded. Mr Ghanem, a member of the Lebanese parliament, and a supporter of the Siniora government, was just the latest in a string of 11 political assassinations over the past three years. As a consequence of this pattern of violence, the March 14 alliance is 2 parliamentarians away from being murdered out of their majority.
Now is the time for this Congress to send a strong message of support for the democratically elected and fully legitimate government in Lebanon. Time, Mr. Speaker, is short. The Syrian-backed campaign of murder is creeping ever closer to its goal of destroying the majority of the Lebanese parliament, bringing down the government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, and again imposing a pro-Syrian president on Lebanon.
Fearing just this scenario, months ago, I introduced H.Res. 548, with the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Mr. Pence, with Chairman Lantos, and Representatives Issa and Boustany, two Members whose roots extend back to Lebanon. This bipartisan resolution expresses the strong support of the House of Representatives for Lebanon's elected government, and affirms our readiness to make that support tangible in order to help preserve and strengthen Lebanese sovereignty and independence.
The resolution condemns Syria and Iran for providing arms to Lebanese militias, particularly the terrorist group Hezbollah, and Palestinian factions in Lebanon, in clear contravention of Security Council resolutions.
H. Res. 548 also endorses "prompt action" by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon established by the Security Council to investigate the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005. Syria must know with utter certainty that the United States will never sacrifice justice in Lebanon to allow Damascus to escape accountability for its crimes.
The current Lebanese government, which is under siege, is both legitimate and representative of the majority of Lebanese. The attempts to undermine it are not some kind of retaliation. Lebanon's government is being systematically attacked only because it is unwilling to subordinate its authority and Lebanon’s sovereignty to external and extra-legal demands.
Quite simply, Lebanon is being bullied. And in light of this fact, the United States and the entire international community must come to its aid.
I urge my colleagues to support the resolution
Will Hizballah Attack U.N. Troops?
Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2007 -CNN
By ROBERT BAER/BEIRUT
Lebanon failed to elect a President Tuesday, continuing its drive along the abyss. A new parliamentary session is set for October 23, with the hope that a two-thirds quorum can finally be assembled by then to choose a successor to outgoing President Emile Lahoud. But his term runs out on November 24, and the chances of finding a compromise candidate, sources in Hizballah tell me, are nil.
The same sources tell me that Hizballah will never compromise with the March 14 movement, which it considers an American puppet. The March 14 movement is a political bloc that has promised to disarm Hizballah and take to trial the murderers of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. The same Hizballah sources told me that an interim administration that shares any part of the March 14 agenda is also not acceptable to Hizballah, which controls a third of the seats in the parliament.
How determined is Hizballah to block the election of a President? "We will do whatever it takes to keep a pro-American President from coming to office," Hizballah said. What that means is that aside from refusing the two-thirds quorum needed to elect a President in parliament, Hizballah is considering an attack on the French U.N. contingent in southern Lebanon. The aim of such a move would not only be to convince the French to stop meddling in Lebanon, but also to serve as a response to France's implicit threat to bomb Iran if Iran does not stop its nuclear development.
Hizballah has no obligation to tell me the truth, but I have little doubt that if provoked it would turn over the table and plunge Lebanon into another civil war. Hizballah is stronger than the Lebanese army, and its threats are not idle. During the last 25 years the indelible red line for Hizballah has been keeping its arms. It says it needs them to drive the last Israeli forces out of Lebanon — a small slice of land called the Sheba Farms — and force Israel to release its remaining Lebanese prisoners of war. But it's more than that. Hizballah's military is its raison d'etre. If Hizballah gives up its arms, it is just another party in the dog's breakfast of Lebanese politics.
Israel's September 6 bombing of Syria has further incited Hizballah. "They hit something, but, come on, it wasn't nuclear," a Hizballah source said, refuting rumors in the press the Israelis had hit some sort of North Korean nuclear shipment going to Syria. Hizballah didn't offer any evidence, but they believe the September 6 Israeli strike was an attack on a missile shipment — and possibly a prelude to an Israeli attack on Iran and Hizballah. None of it bodes well for the election of a President — and that's about the one thing the American Embassy in Beirut and Hizballah agree on. On September 24 the embassy issued a warning to Americans living in Lebanon that the potential for violence is high.
***Robert Baer, a former CIA field officer assigned to the Middle East, is TIME.com's intelligence columnist and the author of See No Evil and, most recently, the novel Blow the House Down.
U.N. to Restate Support for Free,
Fair Presidential Election in Lebanon
The United Nations has circulated a draft statement that restates support for free and fair presidential elections in Lebanon.
The daily An Nahar on Wednesday quoted a French diplomatic source as saying that the statement, under examination, is expected to be finalized within the coming days. It said the statement also reiterates adherence to implementation of all U.N. Security Council resolutions on Lebanon s, particularly 1559, 1680 and 1701.
Members of the Security Council … call for timely, free and fair presidential election in accordance with constitutional norms and away form any external interference," the draft statement said. It said members of the Security Council "encourage all efforts" in this regard, and stress the need for the cessation of violence and intimidation against Lebanese MPs and institutions. An Nahar said the statement also reiterates its backing to Lebanon's sovereignty, independence and safety of its territories with its internationally recognized borders. Beirut, 26 Sep 07, 08:33
Bush: Civilized Nations Should Stand with Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq
U.S. President George Bush called on the United Nations to do more to fulfil its global responsibilities and said civilized nations have to stand with Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq. Speaking before world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Bush called on the world body to go back to its guiding principles under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to defend freedom and battle hunger and disease. "When innocent people are trapped in a life of murder and fear, the declaration is not being upheld," he said. "When millions of children starve to death or perish from a mosquito bite, we're not doing our duty in the world."
Bush, who decided to go to war in Iraq in March 2003 without U.N. backing, linked Baghdad's fight for democracy and against terrorism to the situations in Lebanon and Afghanistan. "Brave citizens in Lebanon and Afghanistan and Iraq have made the choice for democracy -- yet the extremists have responded by targeting them for murder," he said. "The people of Lebanon and Afghanistan and Iraq have asked for our help. And every civilized nation has a responsibility to stand with them."
Taking aim at familiar foes -- Iran, North Korea, Myanmar, Cuba, and violent Islamic extremists -- Bush urged "civilized nations" to help people suffering under dictatorships.
"In Belarus, North Korea, Syria, and Iran, brutal regimes deny their people the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration," Bush told an audience including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Bush also predicted the demise of 81-year-old Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who has been sidelined by surgery since July 2006, saying, "the long rule of a cruel dictator is nearing its end." "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," he said, as the Cuban delegation to the global body walked out in protest. As Buddhist monks led the biggest protests in Myanmar in 20 years, Bush denounced the "reign of fear" imposed by the southeast Asian nation's military junta and announced new sanctions against the regime.
"I urge the United Nations and all nations to use their diplomatic and economic leverage to help the Burmese (Myanmar) people reclaim their freedom," Bush said.
In Africa, the U.S. president called on the United Nations to "insist for the freedom of the people of Zimbabwe," which has been ruled by President Robert Mugabe since 1980. He also urged the world body to quickly deploy peacekeepers to Sudan's strife-torn region of Darfur, where at least 200,000 people have died since civil war broke out in 2003. "The United Nations must answer this challenge to conscience, and live up to its promise to promptly deploy peacekeeping forces to Darfur," he said. While Bush spoke relatively little about Iraq, his national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said the U.S. president wanted to tell the UN it needed to return to its core principles.
"One of the things the president wanted to try to do in this speech was to call the United Nations back to first principles, and of course, one of the first principles is freedom," Hadley said. While Bush praised the U.N.'s "noble efforts" in combating hunger and disease, he also scolded its Human Rights Council for failing to denounce repressive regimes and called for the panel to be reformed. "The United States is committed to a strong and vibrant United Nations. Yet the American people are disappointed by the failures of the Human Rights Council," he said. "This body has been silent on repression by regimes from Havana to Caracas to Pyongyang and Tehran -- while focusing its criticism excessively on Israel," Bush said. "To be credible on human rights in the world, the United Nations must reform its own Human Rights Council."(AFP) Beirut, 26 Sep 07, 09:46
Berri Adjourns Presidential Vote till October 23
House Speaker Nabih Berri adjourned Tuesday's crucial parliamentary session to elect a new president till October 23.
"The session has been adjourned till October 23 at 10:00 am," deputy Speaker Farid Makari announced.
The announcement was made by a parliamentary official in the chamber after the bell rang three times to call the lawmakers into session.
In a clear message to the opposition, MPs from the ruling majority said if there was no quorum and no vote on Tuesday, they would go ahead and elect a president with a simple majority when the next session convenes. "We are taking part in today's session to preserve our right to vote in a subsequent session with a simple majority," MP Elias Atallah told AFP before entering parliament. "Our presence means that the first session has been convened, and the next session (there will be a vote) with a simple majority," MP Samir Frangieh said. The majority attended but opposition members who had gathered in the building stayed in the hallways.
The postponement had been expected after the opposition, led by Syrian- and Iranian-backed Hizbullah, vowed to boycott the session to block the ruling March 14 alliance from electing a president from its own ranks. March 14 MP Mohammed Qabbani said there were more than 65 lawmakers, a simple majority, but less than 85 -- the necessary two-thirds quorum -- in attendance when the announcement was made.
The lawmakers gathered under a tight security cordon for the first time in nearly a year for a session on electing a new president to defuse Lebanon's political crisis.
Many MPs from the ruling majority arrived at the legislature in downtown Beirut under heavy military escort from the nearby Phoenicia Hotel where they had been residing. Some of them stood outside the parliament headquarters briefly and held up a banner bearing the names and pictures of six fellow lawmakers killed since 2005 in attacks they have been blamed on Syria. The latest victim, Antoine Ghanem, was assassinated last week in a car bombing in Beirut's Sin el-Fil suburb.
"We were forced out, don't choose to be forced out" read the banner in a supposed message from the grave.
MP Ghinwa Jalloul arrived, waving a Lebanese flag from her car and holding up a picture of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri whose assassination in February 2005 lies at the root of the current crisis. "Long live Lebanon," she shouted to reporters before entering the building.
The perimeter around the imposing structure was off-limits to normal traffic after elite troops and tanks deployed in the area. Checkpoints were also set up throughout the city creating traffic jams, and many businesses were shut.
Ali Bazzi, an MP with the opposition Amal movement, reiterated that his camp would only take part in Tuesday's session if the feuding political parties agreed on a consensus candidate. But many MPs said that was unlikely to happen, and the session was expected to focus on consultations among the rival parties.
Lawmakers have to choose a candidate between September 24 and November 24 to replace President Emile Lahoud, whose six-year term was controversially extended by three years in 2004 in a Syrian-inspired constitutional amendment. A two-thirds majority is required for a candidate to be elected by parliament in the first round of voting. In the event of a second round a simple majority suffices.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 25 Sep 07, 08:18
Hariri For Finishing Off the Assad Regime
Al-Moustaqbal Movement leader MP Saad Hariri stressed Tuesday that the Lebanese would elect a new president without Syrian influence, called for getting rid of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and warned Hizbullah against rejecting the Taif accord. In an interview with Fox Television, Hariri said: "Time is of essence, and we have to elect a president. I believe that we will elect a president because we will not let the Syrian regime win over us on such an issue."
"I believe that the Lebanese – the opposition and us – will have to find a president for all Lebanon and for all Lebanese people. We will keep on pushing for that, and we believe that the March 14 coalition has a majority; we are the majority and we will keep on pushing to elect our president," he added
Hariri stressed that "we are looking for a consensus, and we believe that through a dialogue with the opposition, people will calm down when they see the challenges and threats that Lebanon will face without a president. Lebanon without a president is something dangerous for all of us, for the majority and for the opposition. The opposition knows that very well."Hariri insisted on blaming the Syrian regime for the serial killings targeting anti-Damascus Lebanese figures.
"I have no doubt that the Syrian regime is after all of us: they killed my father, Gebran Tueni, Basil Fuleyhan, Pierre Amine Gemayel, Walid Eido, and Antoine Ghanem. They will kill as many members of parliament of the majority who represent the Cedar Revolution as possible. This is their way. They have never stopped. They will never stop," Hariri said. He stressed that the "international community has a responsibility. It can do a lot. The problem is, the international community condemns and condemns. The problem is that the killing has not been only targeting Lebanese members of parliament. My disappointment is that the UNIFIL was attacked and all the international community was able to do is condemnation."
"With a regime that is willing to go for as far as killing 6 members of parliament in the last two years, is condemnation enough? I think this regime needs to be isolated … The solution is not in getting rid of the regime of Saddam only but of the regime of Bashar also," Hariri said.
He expressed the belief that "there will be justice. An international tribunal will be hopefully established by the beginning of the year. This is our hope. This is for the Lebanon, for the Lebanese people and for all those who have been assassinated, and even for those who had been assassinated before my father."
"All the assassinations that occurred in Lebanon, like the (1977) assassination of Kamal Jumblat and others, were committed by the Syrian regime. But there was no justice, and the perpetrators were not punished. But now and for the first time in Lebanon's history and in Lebanon's democracy that an international tribunal has been set up to give us justice. We do not want political justice, and we are ready to accept any decision to which the tribunal would come up," Hariri added.
He said the Syrians "think that the more they kill people, the more they will affect our ability to continue and fight for our Cedar Revolution. The March 14, 2005 was a historical day in Lebanon, and they want to erase that historical day from the minds of the Lebanese people. This is something that a regime such as the Syrian regime cannot face, because it was an uprising of Muslim and Christian people."
"This is something that could be fatal for such a regime. That's why they want to kill those members of parliament to get rid of the majority, and they will go after the leadership of this majority," added Hariri.
The young leader stressed that "we want peace. We don't want to be against Syria, but we want Syria to respect us. We want diplomatic relations with Damascus. We have agreed on that in the national dialogue talks. We are not the ones who are killing Syrian members of parliament, but they are the ones who are killing Lebanese members of parliament. We need and we want from Syria to just involve itself with its internal politics and to solve its problem of the Golan Heights. They should not interfere into our life. They should not tell us how to resist or to liberate our Shebaa farms. We will do it as a government, and we will do it as Lebanese people. We will do it as united Lebanese, and they should not interfere in our problems."
Hariri defended U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701 . "The 1559 is not just words on paper. The Syrians left Lebanon, and this is something that we have gained. We should preserve and protect what we have achieved. On 1701, we have already sent the Lebanese army to South Lebanon while we were unable to take this step during the past 25 years. We have about 12000 UNIFIL troops in the South; this is also something that has been accomplished. I think that it is not going to be a short-term process," he explained. Hariri expressed gratitude to foreign states that had supported the Lebanese Army in its 106-day battle against Fatah al-Islam terrorist in the northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared.
"President Emile Lahoud claims that he has built the army, while the army has been ill-equipped. The army has no ammunitions when it was fighting in Nahr Al- Bared. The army has run out of ammunition in a week, but thanks to the United States and thanks to other allies like the Europeans, the Saudis and the Egyptians, the Jordanians, and the Emiratis, the army was able to accomplish its mission in Nahr Al-Bared. We need to rebuild our army and our internal security forces in order that all Lebanese – no matter to which political party they belong – feel safe and protected. This army and this ISF will be able to protect Lebanon from any foreign enemy," Hariri said. He warned the Iranian-backed Hizbullah against rejecting the Taif accords, noting that: "Hizbullah has said on many occasions that they are with the Taif agreements, and if they do challenge these agreements they will be committing the biggest mistake. Honestly, this will turn Lebanon upside down."
Beirut, 25 Sep 07, 21:25
11 Fatah Islam Members Indicted for Terrorism
Eleven members suspected of belonging to the Fatah al-Islam militia have been charged with murder and terrorism, state prosecutor Saeed Mirza said.
He told AFP that the defendants, seven of them in preventive detention, were charged in connection with the murder of several Lebanese army soldiers who were killed during a 15-week standoff with the Al-Qaida-inspired militants that ended on September 2.
More than 400 people died in the battles at the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared, in northern Lebanon, including 167 soldiers.
A total 297 members of Fatah al-Islam have been charged in connection with the fighting since August.
The suspects charged on Monday are accused of terrorist acts, threatening the state as well as its civil and military institutions, and firing on soldiers, civilians and interior ministry forces, according to the charge sheet. Mirza said he was seeking arrest warrants for the 11 men who are of various Arab nationalities.
The prosecutor in August filed charges against 227 militants, including the head of Fatah al-Islam Shaker al-Abssi, whose whereabouts remain unknown.
Charges were also filed last week against 59 others.(AFP) Beirut, 25 Sep 07, 12:21
Geagea: No Consensus on pro-Syrian President
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea announced Monday that March 14 MPs will not elect a new president tomorrow to "Keep the door open for further dialogue."
"Electing a new president doesn't necessarily mean achieving pre-election consensus on the head of state … We will not practice our constitutional right tomorrow (Tuesday) to keep the door open for further dialogue," Geagea told a news conference at his residence in Merab, north of Beirut.
He accused the Hizbullah-led opposition of working for the election of a president "who remains at the service of Syrian (Intelligence) agencies. That is why they are trying to elect a president who would satisfy Syria."
"Either they achieve that or prevent presidential elections. This is the Opposition's plan which puts us between Syria's hammer and the March 8 hard place," he added.
Geagea described the March 14 alliance of being "the actual opposition. When they assassinate parliamentary deputies one after the other any discussion of quorum becomes useless."
He said Lebanese opposition factions are to blame for the serial killings targeting anti-Syrian Lebanese figures.
"We do not blame the enemies of Lebanon, but we do blame internal factions who benefit from our (Shed) blood. We want a president who would continue the building of institutions to guarantee the Lebanese People's security and stability," Geagea added.
The assassination of March 14 MP Antoine Ghanem by a powerful car bomb blast in Beirut's eastern suburb of Sin el-Fil on Wednesday was "The 11th such attack in three years," Geagea recalled.
Victims of the serial killings were "all against Syria's deployment in Lebanon and against the return of Syria's influence. So isn't it logical to blame Syria for the killings?" he asked.
Geagea blamed failure of efforts to expose the killers on security agencies.
"Security agencies are responsible, not Premier (Fouad) Saniora … We proposed changes in the security agencies and the judiciary, but obstacles always prevented that. Certain security agencies do not regard Syrian intelligence as an enemy and do not launch investigations in all issues they are asked to investigate," he stressed.
The Lebanese Forces leader said the March 8 opposition wants to "either prevent presidential elections or install a head of state similar to (pro-Syrian President Emile) Lahoud and they want to retain the present status of security agencies."
"Whoever delays the elections for even one moment puts Lebanon in the line of danger," Geagea stressed.
As for the traditional demand by the opposition for the formation of a government in which they enjoy veto powers, Geagea said: "Had such a government been formed, the army wouldn't have entered Nahr al-Bared" refugee camp in north Lebanon and finished off the Fatah al-Islam terrorist network.
Settling the quorum controversy, according to Geagea, is the responsibility of Parliament "which the March 8 team doesn't resort to … We are not the side that has prevented parliament from convening."
If Berri's Parliamentary bloc refrains from entering the assembly house to elect a president that would mean that the speaker's initiative "is not serious," Geagea concluded. Beirut, 24 Sep 07, 15:52