Tuesday, October 31, 2006

War of Words Escalates!: Quotes + More...

Nabih Berri - Amal Party (Pro-Syrian)
"There is no party, regardless of how disciplined they are, that can control street protests, and all past experiences proved that,"

Akram Chehayeb - PSP (Anti-Syrian...for now...)
"every demonstration will be faced with another demonstration and a bullet will not be met with a flower."

Nasrallah Butrous Sfeir - Maronite Patriach (Anti-Syrian...ish)
"What we are hearing nowadays is very worrisome. The Lebanese society is divided and there are those who are working toward returning the country to the age of tutelage."

Amin Gemayel - Phalange Party (Anti-Syrian...under newly returned management)
"a party working for Lebanon ... and another one which insists on linking [Lebanon] to regional strategic interests that are closer to adventures, taking place on its land and destroying its infrastructure and killing and displacing its people."

Lebanese Forces (Anti-Syrian)
"[We urge the government] to take all necessary measures to prevent any party from violating the laws, hindering democracy and attacking the authority under certain political demands."

Hisham Safieddine - Hizballah (Pro-Syrian)
"[The national unity government is] on its way to being accomplished...there is no way that anyone could try to eradicate or run away from this reality."

Mohammad Raad - Hizballah (Pro-Syrian)
"We will take all available democratic steps to achieve this goal, including resigning from the government,"

Al-Manar TV - Hizballah (Pro-Syrian)
"[The March 14 Forces are] betting, for example, on regional developments that could lead to a possible American offensive against the Islamic Republic (of Iran)...[they] are terrified of popular anger."



These statements were either published or broadcast throughout Sunday and Monday, and by most counts, have led to a general sense of unease amid Lebanon's communities. In one week's time Berri's nonsensical agenda will be put to discussion in national talks aimed at defusing political tensions.
In reality these talks are nothing but a sham in spirit and in practice. They are a ploy to buy time, to setup a pretext. They are an extra-governmental phenomenon, a phenomenon which tears right at the heart of Parliament and its exclusive privilege to represent Lebanon's peoples and their aspirations.
In addition to the ominous statement highlighted above, Berri also stated today that the agenda set out for the talks would not be amended. The talks will not include a discussion of the war Lebanon and its darling south had to endure this past summer. They will not include a discussion of a national, unified, and truly representative defense strategy to strengthen Lebanon in the face of its aggressors to the South, to the East, and to the North. And they certainly will not include a discussion of a development, re-development, and re-construction strategy that will help the State of Lebanon...the State of all Lebanese...reach its constituents in those areas where it has neglected them in the past and where sinister forces have sought to instill their own state.
While thousands of people remain homeless in Lebanon, while hundreds of our compatriots remain imprisoned in Syria, and while hundreds of thousands of Lebanese the world-over, continue to seek a way out of the dark chasm into which they have been forced through the actions of a few; Nabih Berri, Michel Aoun, and Hassan Nasrallah (along with numerous others) have all elected to use the brilliance and majesty of their political clout to...
...[If anyone has anything positive to put in here, please let me know]
(Silence)


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Extremely Urgent!

Follow up on the coup plot that was cooked in August. It is now confirmed that hizb_iran will use armed men to occupy the capital Beirut, while thousands of protestors will occupy the downtown area around the Grand Serail where the PM resides. Also, the roads leading into Beirut will be cut along with the airport route, rendering the airport useless. The aim is cut of Beirut from the rest of Lebanon and occupy it with protestors on one hand and with armed militia men on the other. In the other areas, government buildings and police stations will be encircled and major roads will be cut, grinding the whole Lebanese state functions to a dead stop. This is a serious plan and not be taken lightly. It's a final warning to anyone wishing to avoid an imminent civil war.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Cleanup Continues





Original pictures and descriptions found on:
Click Me!

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Bombing in Beirut

October 23rd, 1983
There will always be a number of ways in which to remember this infamous day. The Dawn of Hizballah. The introduction of the Suicide Bomb. The Fall of Lebanon. The End of America's Military Involvement there. The Death of the Multinational Force.
Whichever way one chooses to remember it, one can't help but notice how close to a full circle we have come in the 23 years since two bombs brought down the American and French barracks.
We pray that circle never becomes complete.




Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Case Against the Alawite Regime

I thought I should remind the reader.
Yesterday the deputy of Hassan Nasrallah of Hizb_Iran, Sheikh Naiim Qasim gave a threatening speech, where he accused the PM of Lebanon Mr Fouad Saniora of being the Qarazai of Lebanon i.e American puppet. In that speech he also declared with pride and determination that his militia belongs to the Iran-Syria axis. However, he forgot to remind the Lebanese populace of the following facts.
As a matter of fact, hizb_iran and its masters came to represent the perfect case of hypocrisy. They accuse fellow Lebanese of treason while they defend a traitor like Assad and his father who is well known to have served well his American and Israeli masters from 1974 until his death. While his son continued his policy with the Israelis till now and with Americans till 2004 when their relationship soured.
I would like remind Qasim and his masters that I never heard them criticize Assad when he opened his jails for terror suspects handed by the CIA to be tortured in Syrian jails, or when he recently called for instant peace talks with Israel. Also, one never hear them talking about the American occupation of Iraq, or the puppet pro-American Shiaa regime in Iraq. It seems for them Uncle Sam is a foe in Lebanon and friend in Iraq.
Now going back to the subject of my post, here it is:

The Alawite Regime in Syria is more commonly but wrongly known under the name of the Baath regime. This terminology is wrong since the idea of the Arab Baath died with its founder Michel Aflaq a long time ago. All what is left is a gang of criminals and sectarian haters.

Here are the six main points against this despicable regime.

This regime is guilty of high treason because:

1-it sold the Golan to Israel in exchange for Lebanon

2-it allied itself with the Persians in the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) against the Arabs

3-it declared war on the Palestinian cause and on the Palestinian people, and it committed war crimes and massacres against them in Lebanon

4-it brutally occupied Lebanon for 30 years and committed mass murder and massacres against the Lebanese population

5-it left Syria in a state of under-development and mass poverty

6-and above all, it ruled the Syrian people with the armored fist for more than 35 years by filling the concentration camps of Tadmour and Mazzeh. All while committing acts of mass murder, annihilation (Hama 1982), atrocity, rape, torture, and mass deportation against anyone who dared to speak up against their absolute rule.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Face to Face

For the first time in thirty years, the Lebanese army is right on the border with Israel. These pictures show the Southern Lebanese border fence in the Lebanese village of Kfar Kila where Lebanese and Israeli army soldiers faced off. Fortunately, it was about taking pictures and trading looks.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Modern Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Wall

For starters, I am not against the idea of a Security Fence (Wall). I think it’s a decent idea that – if implemented properly – could dramatically alleviate the Israeli state’s security concerns and (sometimes unrealistic) demands of the Palestinian Authority. What is objectionable about it is its path, and the continuous exploitation and manipulation of this path the Israeli Right has pursued in an effort to undermine any compromises reached by their counterparts on the Left, or moderate Palestinian factions.
Originally a conception of the Israeli Left, the Security Fence was initially designed to follow the ‘Green Line’. Its primary designers envisioned an Israel completely withdrawn from the occupied territories in the West Bank, and protected from them with this new wall of security. At the time of its inception (in its workable form) at the end of the 1990’s under a faltering Labor government, the idea of a wall permanently separating Israel from the West Bank – and the illegal settlements therein – was the subject of vigorous opposition from Jewish religious settlers and their rightwing supporters. In essence, Israel’s Security Fence was a peace project.

Unfortunately today, the reality of the Security Fence is far different from what is conceptors had originally dreamt up. Today the fence has become a symbol of the Israeli rightwing’s continuous efforts to scuttle any push towards a final and just peace with the Palestinians. Through committees setup under the Likud-Sharon government to oversee the path of the Wall, the Israeli right has created a situation on the ground where opposition to the Wall’s path has been lumped together with the idea of the Wall itself, a confusion that only serves those who would be all too happy to limit the Palestinians to control of only 42% of the lands they were promised in the West Bank. Effectively, the Wall has become a tool to enhance the security and longevity of the very settlements its creation was meant to isolate and abolish. Its primary purpose has become to control the fields – and water basins on which those fields lie - roads, and lands on which Palestinians have not only lived on for centuries, but on which they had been promised a life in the future.



As my source I have linked to one article. This article, although long, is essential reading I think for all those interested in this issue. I found it completely unbiased and urge anyone who wishes to formulate an intelligent opinion on this issue to read it. I apologize for making all of you read through my own (inadequate but personal) post on the subject before submitting this link:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,1034483,00.html

Modern Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Intro


The Two-State Solution is dead, but it can be revived.

To me, it seems completely ridiculous to assert that there is any legitimacy in Israel’s claim to wanting a Two-State Solution while it continues to support illegal settlements in the West Bank, illegal territory annexation through the path of their Security Fence, and refusal to acknowledge Jerusalem – or at least East Jerusalem – as a capital for the state the Palestinians so badly desire.

What it would appear Israel really wants is an Israeli state with segregated Palestinian territories – not a Palestinian State. These issues listed above (I’ll get to the Right of Return, and the Suicide Bombers later), are at the heart of the entire conflict in a Middle East conflict that shows no signs of abetting, even while the solution seems to be quite clear.

In this series I will try to highlight the major issues in this conflict and to propose a solution. The solution will not be anything new, revolutionary, or eye-opening. It has been around for years, if not decades. All we need is to have the courage to support it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Appeal for Help

News
This appeal for help, was published on Freckle

"Emad Mohammad Bornat of the village of Bil'in, video photographer for Reuters and documentary film maker...was arrested on Friday October 6th, 2006 while filming...by an Israeli Border policeman. When Emad arrived at the police station in Givat Zeev, he was wounded. The Border Police soldiers claimed a radio "fell" on him in the jeep, on the way to the station."
Read more...

Picture: Humanitarian Aide to Lebanon

Friday, October 13, 2006

Naharnet Finally Catches Up...

Naharnet (today):
"Elie Youssef Najem, a self-styled Lebanese business billionaire who has promised a hefty donation to help Lebanon recover from the recent Israeli war, was apparently nothing but a phony, according to the Malaysian media."
Yeah no kidding...

Blacksmiths of Lebanon :
(with the help of the DailyStar 24 hours earlier)
"Indeed, according to reports from several Lebanese and International sources, Najem has been implicated in a long line of sexual and financial misconduct allegations ranging from a 1993 sexual harassment case in Winnipeg, Canada, to fraud charges in Lebanon, to a "cheating" charge and number of fraud charges in January 2006, in Malaysia surrounding a $260 million pledged donation to a cancer research center there."
:D

Exclusive: Diplomatic Rotations (English)

Well the government has finally passed the long-awaited plan for diplomatic rotations for Lebanese ambassadors. This list details which ambassadors went where, from where and what sect they belong to. The missions to the five members of the Security Council, plus the U.N., are divided among the 5 largest sects, while other missions like Tehran, Riyadh, the Vatican and Athens are almost always given to Shiites, Sunnis, Maronites and Greek Orthodox respectively. Enjoy.

Foreign Ministry Diplomatic Shuffle

Hicham Dimachkieh from Berlin to Secretary General of Foreign Ministry (Su)

From Beirut:
Butrous Asaker to Paris (M)
Antoine Chedid to Washington (GO)
Nasrat al-Asaad to Stockholm (Sh)
Elias Ghosn to Ankara (GO)
Mustafa Mustafa to Rabat (Su)
Zeidan al-Sagheer to La Hague (Su)
Izhiah Khoury to Vienna (M)
Najla Ryasheh to Geneva (UN) (CM)
Charbel Aoun to Amman (M)
Bassam Naamaneh to Kuwait (Su)
Jean Daniel to Canberra (GO)
Aziz al-Qazzeh to al-Manama (M)
Ahmad Chammat to Khartoum (Su)
Iman Younis to Abuja (Sh)

From outside the diplomatic corps, Beirut:
Nawwaf Salam to the U.N. (New York) (Su)
Bassam Torba to Algiers (Su)
Marrwan Zein to al-Riyadh (Su)
Khaled Ziadeh to Cairo (Su)
Ramiz Dimachkieh to Berlin (Su)
Vaskeen Kafleekian to Almaty (Arm)
Khodr Mouneef Habib to Conakry (Ala)

Between foreign postings:
Sylvie Fadlallah from Paris to UNESCO (Paris) (M)
Gebran Soufan from Geneva to Athens (GO)
Inaam Osayran from Bern to London (Sh)
Charbel Estfan from Khartoum to Budapest (M)
Massoud Maalouf from Warsaw to Ottawa (C)
Farid Abboud from Washington to Tunis (GO)
Adnan Mansour from Tehran to Brussels (Sh)
Hussein Remmal from Seoul to Bern (Sh)
Fowzi Fawwaz from Brussels to Abu Dhabi (Sh)
Noel Fattal Algiers to Jakarta (CM)
Jad al-Hassan from Accra to Prague (Su)
Chukri Abboud from Tunis to Madrid (M)
Hikmat Awwad from Sana’a to Warsaw (M)
Hassan Moselmana from Jakarta to Bogota (Sh)
Hassan Abi Akar from (consul) Rome to Sana’a (D)
Issam Moustafa from Abidjan to Seoul (Sh)
Khaled Salman from Abuja to New Delhi (D)
Zein al-Mousaweh from (consul) Berlin to Tehran (Sh)
Michel Katra from charge d’affaire to ambassador, Pretoria (C)
Charbel Wehbe from (consul general) Los Angeles to Caracas (M)
Micheline Baz from (consul) Brussels to Libreville (M)
Jean Maakroun from (consul general) Melbourne to Havana (C)
Ali Ajameh from (consul general) Detroit to Abidjan (Sh)
Mohammad Harakeh from (consul general) New York to Tokyo (Sh)

Returning to Beirut from foreign postings:
Samir Mubarak from Madrid (M)
Raymond Baaklini from Ottawa (M)
Hussein el-Mousaweh from Budapest (Sh)
Michel Bitar from Canberra (GO)
William Habib from Athens (GO)
Mounir Talhouq from Stockholm (D)
George Siam from Ankara (CM)
Hassan Berro from Abu Dhabi (Sh)
Mohamad Hajjar from al-Manama (Sh)
Ahmad Abdullah from Rabat (Su)
Mustafa Hamdan from La Hague (Su)
Gharameh Ayoub from Libreville (M)
N’oula Khawejah from Caracas (C)

Legend
Su: Sunni
GO: Greek Orthodox
Sh: Shiite
C: Catholic
M: Maronite
CM: Christian Minorities
D: Druze
Arm: Armenian
Ala: Alawite

Picture: Human Rigths Law Violation



This summer, Israel dropped thousands of cluster bombs, containing millions of little bomblets, on Lebanese towns, villages, and fields, leaving in its wake a legacy of pain, death, and suffering that will haunt the residents of the South for years to come. This action constituted a breach of the Human Rights Law, according to four UN experts sent to Lebanon to investigate the issue and draw up a report for the UN Human Rights Council.

So what exactly are looking at in the picture above?

What you're looking at is a picture of the other Human Rights Law violations found in the investigation. That of Hizballah's use of payloads packed with ballbearings mounted onto rockets headed for Israel's towns, villages, and (mostly) fields. It is the use of weapons such as these that resulted in the deaths of a number of children and elderly (as well as regular adults) in the North of Israel.

Does the Lebanese-to-Israeli civilian death ratio of 1140/43, or the ratio of Israeli-to-Hizballah bombs dropped and rockets fired (something like 20-to-1...yes, Israel fired at least 40,000 artillery rounds, rockets, and bombs on Lebanon) justify the use of these weapons? The answer, I suppose, would depend on who you ask, and when you asked them.

Source
http://www.standwithus.com/gallery/index.asp

Thursday, October 12, 2006

"Two Warplanes Carrying the Lebanese Cedar Tree"

News broke today of a massive $15 billion private donation to Lebanon's government and civil society as one [Lord] Dr. Elie Youssef Najem, vowed to make the country of his birth "...like it was between 1967-72."

The announcement of the donation was made Wednesday by a four man Malaysian delegation headed by Prince Farid Bin Abdullah (Najem's father-in-law) at a press conference held at the journalists syndicate in Beirut.

According to the DailyStar Najem, 45, who originally hails from the Batroun costal region and who's base of operations is in Malaysia, will donate
"$10 million to the Lebanese Red Cross and $2 million to the Batroun Red Cross; finance the construction of a $20 million orphanage and a home for the elderly; bring 160 million barrels of crude oil to the market; give 16 fighter jets to the Lebanese Air Force; develop a beach resort in Jounieh; and turn Lebanon into the gateway of Malaysian palm oil exports."
Najem is also reported to be looking to open up "...at least three branches of what he described as his bank, Magobio Investments" along with an initial $4 billion account at Byblos Bank.

In statements published on the Naharnet news website, Najem claimed that upon his arrival to Lebanon, he will have with him"...two warplanes with a cedar tree hoisted on each" . He also calimed that his Lebanon trip was awaiting a green light from Defense Minister Elias Murr, President Emile Lahoud and Premier Fouad Saniora."

As of yet, there has been no comment on the would-be recipients of these donations on the matter. When contacted by the Daily Star the Prime Minister's office refused to comment on the story. According to the paper, a statement issued by Byblos Bank a day prior to the press conference denied that any transactions between the bank and Najem had been undertaken.

Indeed, according to reports from several Lebanese and International sources, Najem has been implicated in a long line of sexual and financial misconduct allegations ranging from a 1993 sexual harassment case in Winnipeg, Canada, to fraud charges in Lebanon, to a "cheating" charge and number of fraud charges in January 2006, in Malaysia surrounding a $260 million pledged donation to a cancer research center there.

[Dr.] Najem's track record, along with the exceptionally garish nature of his pledges, have now left most Lebanese questioning the validity of these promises and motives behind them. When asked about rumors of his entrance to the political arena, [Dr.] Najem replied, "I don't wish to become a political leader."




Malaysian Sources
http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2006/1/9/nation/13063190&sec=nation
http://bpms.kempen.gov.my/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4332&Itemid=61

Video: Lebanon - The Good


My accompanying English Zajal! (kinda) and description:

Ahhhhh....OK!! I've just spent at least 2 hours browsing and searching through YouTube.com in an effort to find a decent, positive video about Lebanon absent of any political overtones or connotations. I mean surely you can understand how such a task could - and did - become complicated given the summer we've all been through. But no worries!! For all those now wishing to take their minds off the politics - wether they be regional, international, or domestic - just sit back, relax, and let the gentle tunes and soothing pictures take you back to that place that makes it all worth it...
...Prediction! Movies such as these, i.e. one void of the politics, will become more popular on YouTube.com as the stress of the never-ending bickerings, deadlocks, and let-downs of politics take their toll on a population already been through so much. So here's to taking a step back and breathing easy...even if its just for a moment.
PS - I found at least two other videos I liked and that I hope to put up soon enough, so keep your eyes open people and your beer mugs full...its time to celebrate that which we all love so much, and to hell with all the politicians!!!
PPS - Here is the link to the original video on YouTube.com (for proper attribution), it was put up under the title: Watani Lebanon

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Good Day for the South

I couldn't help but react with complete joy at the news that Israel had finally handed over maps containing the location of the mines it had planted in Lebanon throughout its 22-year occupation of the South.
Although the comprehensiveness of the maps has not yet been determined, UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army are presently engaged in a full review of the maps which were handed to the UN force on Monday and later transferred to the Lebanese Army on Tuesday.

As I read through the Naharnet article detailing this recent development, however, my excitement was checked by the fact that the maps handed over did not contain details of Israel's cluster bomb strikes which left approximately 1,000,000 unexploded bomblets scattered throughout the south of the country.

Nevertheless, I think that this fine development, along with Israel’s relatively speedy withdrawal (last time they invaded it took them 22 years to leave) from the land it reoccupied as a result of Hizballah’s actions, stand as a testament to the Lebanese government’s efforts in securing a just and comprehensive resolution to the crisis thrust upon it by Iran’s lackeys.

Pause for Palestine

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sovereignty Struggle: Georgia

To Georgia, Russia is their Syria.

The deepening crisis in the Caucasus has highlighted the similarities in the struggles both Lebanon and some former Soviet Republics have been engaged in, for the past several years, in their efforts to break free from the imposed domination (political, economic, and social) of their larger neighbours. It also highlights, to some extent, the reliance on western support (both American and European) needed in order to make the break a successful one.

In Georgia, a recent crisis has captured world media attention as Russia has moved to impose punitive measures on its much smaller (and weaker) neighbour for moves it views as being provocative and disrespectful, but which I think we can all agree are simply moves aimed at strengthening Georgia’s sovereignty in the face of a larger, domineering Russia.

These punitive measures have evoked a sense of sympathy in me for the Georgian cause as the more I read about the closer it becomes to those causes we in Lebanon are striving for. In particular, I am particularly empathetic towards: Georgia’s desire to break free of the choking control of its autocratic neighbor; the Georgian people’s rallying street revolution – dubbed the Rose Revolution – in the face of a great injustice perpetrated on them in the name of greed, corruption, and servitude to a larger country; their steadfastness in the face foreign troops whose bases have implanted on their soil and whose removal they strive for; their resoluteness in the face of the arming of internal factions by their larger neighbor; their endurance in the face of the violent instability their larger neighbor has stirred on their soil; and their unyielding determination in the face of economic sanctions, gas and electricity limitations, and border closures by their larger neighbor.

There are other similarities between the situation we face in Lebanon today and that faced in Georgia. Some not so pretty ones revolve around the internal political gains the ruling party in Georgia is trying to push through the precipitation of a conflict with its larger neighbour (e.g. the rise in tensions with Russia has helped the ruling party secure large electoral gains in its recent municipal elections), and around the heavily steeped western interests (in the form of oil pipelines passing from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey) pushing for the realignment of Georgia along western lines. More superficial (perhaps) similes could be drawn between the arrest of four Russian intelligence agents in Georgia and the arrest of our 4 generals in relation to the Hariri assassination, and the fact that the new Orange insignia of former Army General Michel Aoun’s LFPM (along with the term “Cedar Revolution”) was wholly inspired by the Orange Revolution that swept through Ukraine in its struggle to break free of Russia’s grip – and which was itself inspired by Georgia’s ‘Rose Revolution.

Differences – there are a few. For one, Lebanon’s economy isn’t as reliant on Syria as Georgia’s is on Russia, in fact, it is Syrians who come to Lebanon in search of work and money in order to send back to their waiting families in Syria. Georgia, although embroiled in several other (smaller) regional disputes with its neighbours does not have to contend with having Israel as its neighbour and all the baggage that that entails. But anyway, that’s a topic for a different post.



It should suffice to say, for now, that our struggle is one with the Georgians’ struggle and that of all smaller nations striving to be sovereign and free of the meddling and domination of their neighbours, whether it be in Georgia or Ukriane, Lebanon or Taiwan, we must all stand together for the right to self-determination.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sites that made me go hm....

Here are a number of sites that I came across this past month that I thought it would be interesting to highlight.
In general, I try to keep the material I put up constructive, moderate, and progressive towards a just and sustainable peace in the middle east and I think these links share that.
I'm sure there are others out there but these are the ones that I've come across and that've caught my attention.

If anyone would like to add any I invite them to do so in the comments section. Oh, and you can add any comments about the sites linked to in this post too.

Edward Lear: The Cedars of Lebanon (1862)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

No Thanks!

UN Tanks Face Down Illegal Israeli Checkpoint (Pictures)



Article

Now this story is a few days old but it took us a bit of time to find the right images for it. In brief, the IDF had been setting up flying checkpoints in the Lebanese town of Marwaheen in clear violation of UNSC R 1701 and with the support of several armored vehicles. In return the UN sent it its own armor to facedown the Israelis and force them to withdraw from the area. There was a faceoff for about 20 mins and then the Israelis withdrew after having been assured that the area would be patrolled by UN observers...and thats the long and short of it!
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