Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pierre Gemayel in his last speech


"The language of intimidation and threats will not deter us"

Pierre Gemayel, November 21, 2006



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200 Militants Report to Assassinate Lebanese Figures

"Syrian President Bashar Assad was reported on Wednesday to have sent about 200 terrorists to Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon to assassinate 36 Lebanese figures."

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Hezbollah declares...


"Whomsoever dares to contemplate the idea of removing Hezbollah's weapons, we will cut off his hand and head, and we will snatch his soul"
Huge poster put up Thursday night on the outskirts of Beirut

Saturday, November 25, 2006

New Post Classification System

Blacksmiths of Lebanon has introduced a new classification system for our posts which, we hope, will help provide those readers less familiar with the intricacies of our region with a clear frame of reference for material on this site.

The classification system consists of several standard categories including:

  • Analysis: Contributors examine the facts on the ground and provide interpretation (significant referencing required)
  • Opinion: Contributors give their general opinion on a subject or topic (less rigourous than analysis)
  • News: Contributors point out interesting items on the online news services
  • Breaking News: Contributors bring you live updates on events in Lebanon
  • Rumour: Contributors bring you the "word on the street", whether you choose to believe it or not is up to you ;)
  • Videos, Pictures: Multimedia items

Keep an eye out for the top righthand side of posts where we will category under which that post will fall. And be sure to leave us your comments and feedback in the comments section!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Breaking News: Small Riots in Beirut and Gunfire in Tripoli - Updated!

Update:
Apart from a few isolated fist fights throughout Beirut, the demonstrations appear to have not resulted in any damage or injuries. Reports are coming in of a deployment of security forces and a peaceful disperion of rioters.
--
Lebanese media outlets are reporting armed clashes between Lebanese security forces outside and around the Baddawi refugee camp in Tripoli. Two casualties have been reported.
Sources in Lebanon also confirm that crowds had gathered on the road leading to the airport to protest verbal insults made at today's funeral for slain Minister of Industry Pierre Gemayel. Hassan Nasrallah has appeared on Hizballah television station, Al Manar, and urged all protesters to return to their homes.
News services are currently reporting a return to normalcy as demonstrators in other parts of Beirut (namely Chiyah) have started returning to their homes.
--
Former Minister of the Interior, Hasan Al Sabaa, has retracted his resignation and declared that he will return to the Cabinet. The minister had submitted his resignation in response to the mishandling of the "Danish Cartoon" riots of February 2006.
--
Commentary by Nick
The Hizballah gathering was portrayed as a “spontaneous” response to the verbal assaults aimed at Hassan Nasrallah, during today’s demonstrations, by their mouthpiece “Al-Manar”. What they failed to report was that this spontaneity was saved for 3 or 4 hours after the demonstration was over. In reality, this gathering aimed to send a message to the government and specifically Saniora, who had just finished giving a statement urging the return of the 5 ministers, that Hizballah will not budge on its decision to bring down the government through the use of "the street". The hizb is under pressure, and their answer remains the street.
Commentary by Blacksmith Jade
The recent clashes and mass gatherings tonight clearly indicate a synchronisation of elements aligned with Syria, and determined to undermine any realization of a national will to see through the implementation of the international court.

There was no danger tonight of escalations, but the message was clear. Either the majority of Lebanese submit to the will of the few peacefully, or those with arms, those with numbers easily mobilised, and those actively pursuing the re-establishment of Syrian domination will force their will upon the rest.

Over 200,000 Cry Out For Change





Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mehlis Points Finger at 'Pro-Syrian Forces in Lebanon'



"It is an attack on the Lebanese government and the planned international tribunal (to examine Hariri's murder) and it is also an attack on the U.N.," Mehlis told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily newspaper to be published on Thursday."
It is apparent to anyone who is unbiased that all the clues after this attack clearly point to the forces who want to bring down the Lebanese government and get in the way of the tribunal.

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Not Forgotten: Independence 2006


In examining the recent history of the Middle East, a common pattern emerges where political assassinations, although common, have largely remained a mystery. This aberration on the spirit of democracy and the rule of law has been most pointedly pronounced within the Lebanese context in which political assassinations have, unfortunately, become a fact of political life. Even when answers have been provided, they have been deemed largely unsatisfactory by the public which has resorted to its own interpretations and conspiracies.

Lebanon has had more than its fair share of unresolved political assassinations. Beginning with the assassination of Kamal Jumblatt on March 16, 1977, and extending to the fatal shooting of Pierre Gemayel yesterday, targets of attempted and successful assassinations - as well as staged disappearences - have included Presidents of the Republic [Bachir Gemayel 1982, uncle of Pierre Gemayel, Rene Mouawad 1990], Prime Ministers [Rachid Karami 1987, Rafiq Hariri 2005], prominent political figures [Dany Chamoun 21 October 1990, Walid Jumblatt, Tony Frangieh, 13 June, 1978, Marwan Hmadeh 2004, Bassel Fuleihan 2005, Elias Murr July 12, 2005, Georges Hawi June 25, 2005, Elie Hobeika 1999, Gebran Tweini, December 12, 2005, Pierre Gemayel November 20, 2006] religious figures [Mufti Hassan Khaled May 16, 1989, Imam Moussa Il Sadr - who disappeared in August 1978 during a trip to Lybia], and journalists [Samir Kassir June 2005, May Chidiac, attempted assassination September 2005].

Ironically, Lebanon's "resolved" assassinations have largely been attributed to other Lebanese groups (those include Karami, Chamoun, Frangieh) while suspicions in the uresolved cases have centered on Syria. For instance, the assassination of Karami, Chamoun and Frangieh are cases in which the emergence of the truth has been clearly unhampered by Syria's involvement - or lack thereof. That is to say, in a historical sense, the cases which have excluded Syrian involvement have been swiftly resolved. In contrast, in the assassinations, kidnappings and attempted assassinations in which suspicions have been turned to Damascus, the Lebanese have found themselves trapped in a web of lack of evidence, ambiguity and mistrust. Investigations which started with loud words and grand intentions soon dwindled down to mere whispers and rumors on the street.

Herein lies the importance of the international court which will set a precedent in Middle Eastern politics. The international court, set to try those accused of involvement in the violent death of former Prime Minister Rafic el Hariri, will thereby serve in empowering the attenuated judiciaries of the region, and demonstrate that accountability and the rule of law are a reality that governments should not only contend with, but fear.

Today Lebanon will not be celebrating its independence, it will be paying tribute to all those who have shed their blood so that we Lebanese can finally stand up and claim this country as ours. Today is the day we say we will not strangle each other's minds and spirits but stand together, under one flag in one nation united for the truth.

In collaboration with Ib.

SANA: Syrian National News Agency Inquires About Pierre Gemayel's Assassination 55 mins Before it Occurs!!

Al Seyassah daily learned from authoritative sources in Beirut, that one of the editors of the Syrian National News Agency (SANA) placed a phone call to a pro-Syrian Lebanese newspaper at 3:05 pm on Tuesday. The caller inquired about the details of the assassination of Lebanese Minister for Industry Pierre Gemayel, raising eyebrows at the Lebanese newpaper. The timing of phone call was 55 minutes before the assassination was carried out.

Ten minutes after the call was place, the Syrian editor placed another phone call in order to apologize for a misunderstanding.

http://www.alseyassah.com/alseyassah/First_12.asp

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Security in Light of Gemayel's Assassination

Mr.Gemayel was assassinated by a gunman and not by a bomb. This in itself is very extraordinary. I actually cannot recall the last time a politician was killed by a lone gunman. During the war some leaders, for example Franjieh, were killed in a hail of gunfire by whole militia squads.
But from Bashir Gemayel over to Rene Mouawad on to the string of assassinations since February 14th 2005, all those killing involved the placing of an explosive device in a strategic location.

The practice of targeting victims through bombs distances the assailant from the crime and makes it harder for our already incompetent security officials to make any arrests.
This time, a shooting in broad daylight in a densely populated area and after Gemayel's car was stopped by having the attacker's car crash into it, should make it much easier for our security services to follow up on leads and make an arrest within the hour.

This event shows that the safety measures which the state provides for its citizens (let alone for polticians)are totally inadequate. Watching press interviews of Sinora, Hariri and others this very minute made me realize that none of them are keen on improving security or ensuring us that they will do everything in their power to find the perpetrator. They are happy enough pointing fingers and pitying the country and themselves.
If no arrest is made very soon, then anybody with a gun can kill any memeber of cabinet at any time and get away unscathed, which is a very scary thought. At which point also Interior Minister Fatfat will have to resign.
Security is the most important feature which citizens of any country demand from their government. In Lebanon, no matter who is in power, this feature is at present almost non existent.

Breaking News: Assassination of Pierre Gemayel - Updates!

1972 - 2006


Please scroll down for more updates!


I just received a phone call from Lebanon stating that there has been an assassination attempt on Lebanese Minister for Industry, Pierre Gemayel.

According to sources in Lebanon, the assassination took place in Beirut suburb Jdeideh/Sin el-Fil and was carried out by gunmen as he travelled in a convoy of two cars.
Gemayel is a prominent anti-Syrian Christian politician, and is the son of former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel.

Please feel free to add your comments below

Update:
CNN has just reported that Gemayel's wounds were fatal and that his Lebanese Phalange Party is reporting him dead.

http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/11/21/lebanon.shooting.ap/

Update:
Pierre's Gemayel's fatal assassination has been confirmed by all major news organisations. May he Rest in Peace.

Update:
Saad Hariri, leader of the Lebanese Future Movement, has publicly accused Syria of being behind the assassination of Pierre Gemayel.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L21814193.htm

Update:
More details of the assassination emerge:

"Witnesses said Gemayel was shot in his car in Jdeideh, a Christian neighborhood, his constituency on the northern edge of Beirut. The witnesses said a car rammed his car from behind and then an assassin stepped out and shot him at point blank range."

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,231035,00.html

Update:
Lebanese TV station LBCI has reported that two bystanders were wounded in the assassination of cabinet minister Gemayel.

Update:
Pictures emerge of the assassination scene:

http://www.tayyar.org/tayyar/

Update:

Regional Reactions:

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Lvini:
"The negative role of Syria in Lebanon is not something new...clearly they are trying to be involved even now, but it's too early to say something more concrete."
http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/CrisesArticle.aspx?storyId=L21819088&WTmodLoc=World-R5-Alertnet-2

(Official) Syrian News Agency:
"This horrible crime is aimed at destabilizing solidity and civil security in Lebanon...Syria's keenness is on Lebanon's security and the unity of its sons, as well as keeping Lebanon's civil peace."
http://www.sana.org/eng/21/2006/11/21/87908.htm

Update:
The FPM political and news website has just reported an attack on the offices of Minister of State Michel Pharaon, said to have taken place at the same time as the assassination of Minister of Industry Gemayel.

The website has also revealed that Gemayel was assassinated as he left a the Mar Antonios al Jadida church, and that the weapons used were equiped with gun-silencers.

http://www.tayyar.org/tayyar/

Update:
Speaking on Lebanese TV outside the hospital where his son was declared dead, former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel has announced that the funeral for his slain son will take place tomorrow, November 22nd. The date of the funeral will coincide with Lebanon's independence day and is likely to draw huge crowds ahead of a pro-Syrian demonstration announced prior to the Minister's assassination.

Update:
Naharnet elaborates on attack on State Minister's office today:

"Gunmen opened fire Tuesday on the office of a minister of state, his office announced, just hours after the assassination of anti-Syrian minister Pierre Gemayel."The office of the state minister for parliamentary affairs, Michel Pharaon, in the Ashrafieh neighborhood was the target of gunshots today from gunmen in a white Suzuki car," it said."The security forces cordoned off the area and is carrying out the necessary measures to identify the culprits," who fled the scene, it said.Pharaon is a Greek-Catholic Christian MP from the bloc of anti-Syrian parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri."

http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&9EEBAD26FC4C34EEC225722D005C40F8

Update:
Tayyar website reports the death of one of Pierre Gemayel's bodyguards, Samir Chartouni, as a result of wounds sustained in today's assassination.

Please refer to the comments section for more updates!!
(I have to go to work :S)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Unity Government or Regime Change?

“If they want to govern without Shiite ministers, then nothing would prevent a Shiite from running for president in the future,” said Tarrad Hamadeh, the Hezbollah minister of labor, who resigned Saturday, referring to the agreement that the presidency would be reserved for Christians. “They are messing with the country’s future.”


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We'll Miss You Donald

This is a tribute to an icon of the new American century. I know it's a little late in coming, but it took a while to find the perfect way to honour this guy.

Donald Rumsfeld forever.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hizballah and Amal ministers resign from government (Part II): Analysis

The obvious question after the resignation of the five ministers representing Hizballah and Amal from the Lebanese government is: What's the real motive ? Why this insistence on having a "blocking presence" whithin the Lebanese government ?
The personal analysis that I offer in this post is that this move was not on those two parties' agendas at this specific time, but rather was improvised due to the swift progress towards the implementation of the international court.
Many interesting anectodes happened during the latest round of roundtable talks held by Lebanon's leading politicians. Firstly, the March 14 coalition agreed in principle that General Aoun be represented in government. This would be akin to having a national unity government since all the major political players in the country would have been represented in government. The only condition the March 14 coalition imposed was that the opposition could not hold a one third "blocking" representation in government. Such a representation was even subject to a compromise involving a change in the president of the republic and the approval of the international court. Hizballah claimed to have no problem with the international court but that the details should be subject to debate. It is obvious that the "strength" of a legal document lies in its details, that is why people look for "loopholes" whithin a certain legal document. Are they trying to create such loopholes to protect someone ? In fact, it is worth noticing that Hizballah was always reluctant on matters relating to the international court. Almost one year ago when MP Jubran Tueini (from March 14) was assassinated, the government suggested that the international court be expanded to investigate all the political assassinations occuring on Lebanese soil. At this moment, the Shiite ministers in government threatened to resign and actually boycotted the government meetings.
Furthermore, if one goes back to the 1990's, the stongest opposition to the Taef agreement (that brought the civil war to an end) came from none other than Hizballah and Aoun. Now, those parties claim that the latest governmental decision (of approving the international court) was not in compliance with the "spirit" of the Taef agreement- the exact same agreement that they opposed not in spirit but in essence. From a legal perspective, the government is still consitutional since less than one third of its members resigned. What is debatable is whether the government lost its political legitimacy without any Shiite representation. It is amusing to note that Hizballah mentions both legitimacy and nationalism only selectively . One would necessarily wonder whether they consulted any major Lebanese sects before the July war and whether the only legitimacy that counts is theirs. One would also wonder why every single foreign diplomat's visit to Syria is met with welcoming silence while the Lebanese government is accused of all sorts of treachery for receiving them. Could it be because a deal is in the works ? (as mentionned by the article in the Economist "Sir Nigel goes fishing" [1])
Hizballah might have interpreted the latest American elections, the latest July war, and the worsening American position in Iraq (a position so bad that it could perhaps call for a Syrio-Iranian-American deal to improve it) as signs of changing times, times in which they can be more vocal about their views and positions. It might also well be true that the power politics of the region and the American-Iranian saga might determine how things evolve in Lebanon. However, one thing is for sure: the Lebanese political landscape has changed considerably, and in the same way Hizballah rejects the "rule of the majority", it is warranted that March 14 rejects "the rule of minority".
The country is heading towards political vacuum that could spiral out of control. It might only be logical to understand that there will be no vinquor or vanquished, not to allow the Lebanese to alienate each other and to start seriously looking for solutions. The "holier than thou" attittude is not a way out anymore, the government and the people should be made aware of the precise points in which the government deviated from its platform and evidence should be given to the Lebanese for every claim put forth against the government. Once the Lebanese factions start accusing each other of various conspiracies, with the help of their remarkable imaginations, it is then obvious that we're heading the wrong way. Or perhaps we'd better all go fishing for a deal with Sir Nigel and stop discussing these side issues altogether?
Related Article:

Monday, November 13, 2006

Newest Lebanese Census


Annahar daily published the results of the first comprehensive census since the 1960s.

Total: 4.855 million (3.8 million residents, 1 million expatriates)

Sectarian distribution:
-All Christians: 35.33%
-Shiaa Muslims: 29.06%
-Sunni Muslims: 29.05%
-Druze: 5.38%
-Other: 1.18%

http://www.annaharonline.com/

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hizbullah and Amal ministers resign (Part I): A quick report

On Saturday Novermber 11th, five ministers representing Hizballah and the Amal movement resigned from the Lebanese government headed by PM Seniora and consisting mostly of the March 14th coalition (the ruling majority opposed to Syrian influence). The resigning ministers cited the unwilligness of the majority to offer more substantial power sharing. Namely, the March 14 coalition had refused in the latest talks to grant Hizballah and Amal ministers the so called "blocking third" of the government i.e. one third of the total number of ministers in the government. Under the Lebanese constitution, if one third of the government resigns, the government automatically falls. This move came as a surprise to the March14 coalition since further talks were scheduled next week to work out a new possible "power sharing" rule. While PM Seniora refused the resignation of the five ministers, Hizballah and Amal ministers insisted on their resignations. The resigning ministers were in charge of the foreign affairs, agriculture, health, energy and labor portfolios.

This move could make things very difficult for the PM and his government as well as the ruling majority.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The principles of the Alawite Regime in Syria

In order to be able to explain the survival of this criminal regime throughout numerous epochs of war and change, I had to think and observe their policies over a long period of time. Finally, I was able to 'reconstruct' the will that Hafez Assad might have left for his heir Bashar.

The principles of the Alawite Regime in Syria:

  1. No Principle (when the situation requires)
  2. Create the fire then sell the water
  3. Defeat is victory
  4. Always negotiate on the verge of the abyss
  5. There are no 'burned' cards
  6. The regime never fights, others fight for it
  7. Survival is revival

PS: If Niccolo Machiavelli was alive and had the chance to study this regime he would have resigned his duties a long time ago and went into exile.

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