Lebanon Languishes: Bush and Sarkozy Threaten

This from "friday-lunch-club" on why Bush and Sarkozy are on the war path
Nicholas Nassif, in Al Akhbar, here
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"… Aoun's "unfolded hand" included a National Unity government of 30 ministers, divided as such: 15 to M14, 4 to President Michel Sleiman (?) 5 to Michel Aoun and 6 Shia'as. [a 60-40% ratio] … Hezbollah & Berri DID NOT humor Aoun with the following: A shortened Presidential mandate and his (Aoun) refusal of Hariri's premiership. (Some believe, and perhaps rightly, that Hariri should be burdened with the rebuilding of confidence between Beirut & Damascus.)
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Apparently, MANY in M14 did not like what they saw, and hurriedly called Washington through their usual conduits to ask for support. Consequently, Secretary Rice called Minister Kouchner while he was still in Beirut to tell him that his "draw" weakened the US allies in M14 and strengthened Hezbollah's hand … "
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FLC knows Nassif's "source", and let's just say that it is as French and as Official as a Quai D'Orsay Ratatouille!

Posted By GPC to "friday-lunch-club" at 12/14/2007 10:43:00 PM

Sarkozy warns politicians have 'last chance' on Monday

US undersecretary for Near East affairs, David Welch, is expected to arrive in Beirut on Saturday.

Bush Urges Syria to Stop Interfering in Lebanon, Voice of America

Comments (44)


1. Innocent_Criminal said:

Josh,

I keep getting a website of OU’s exhange outlook webmail access when clicking some of the links (for example the first 2 in this post)

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December 15th, 2007, 8:24 am

 

2. Kamal said:

Prof Landis,

Your overreliance on Friday Lunch Club discredits you. That blog has no credibility, its political bias stinks and it specializes in spreading rumors based on hearsay culled from unnamed sources.

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December 15th, 2007, 3:32 pm

 

3. Bashmann said:

Prof. Landis,

I thought this might interest you.

Cheers

WALL STREET JOURNAL
REVIEW & OUTLOOK
Syria’s Remote Control
December 15, 2007; Page A12

Wednesday’s car bombing of Lebanese General Francois Hajj is being treated as something of a murder mystery because, unlike Lebanon’s other recent assassination victims, the general was not an overt foe of Syria. Yet the method of his killing, along with the political benefits that accrue from his death, hardly rule out a Damascene hand.

Hajj made a name for himself earlier this year by routing Fatah al-Islam, a Sunni terrorist group that had been hiding out in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared, up the coast from Beirut. This has led to speculation that Hajj was killed by that group to avenge its defeat. While that may be true, what’s more significant is that Fatah al-Islam is widely suspected of being controlled and aided by Damascus. The sophistication of the bomb that killed Hajj — a remote-control device similar to the one that killed anti-Syrian figures Gebran Tueni, Walid Eido and Antoine Ghanem — underscores that suspicion.

No less important is that in targeting Hajj, who had reportedly been tipped to become the next chief of staff, a message has been sent that the Lebanese military is now fair game. The current chief of staff, General Michel Suleiman, is the nominee to be Lebanon’s President, and Damascus is ambivalent about his candidacy. Murdering Hajj is a signal to General Suleiman and other officers not to chart too independent a course from Syria.

All this should alarm the Bush Administration, which was instrumental in evicting Syria from Lebanon in 2005. Instead, it has been helping to rehabilitate Bashar Assad’s regime. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a point of meeting one-on-one with her Syrian counterpart at a regional meeting on Iraq in May. Syria’s state-run news agency condemned the Hajj assassination via an unnamed government official, but the Syrians also condemned the murder with a remote-control bomb of Rafik Hariri in 2005. A U.N. probe into that murder has found overwhelming evidence of Syrian complicity.

The difference this time is that State Department spokesman Sean McCormack praised Syria for its condemnation, calling it “positive if continued over time.” Maybe Secretary Rice believes she can get the Syrians to play nice on Iraq and Israel while thwarting their ambitions in Lebanon. For their part, the Syrians tend to view such American entreaties as signs of weakness. On Tuesday, Syrian Vice President Farouq Sharaa remarked that “no one in Lebanon, even with foreign support, can win the battle against Syria.” The next day Hajj was dead, which, if nothing else, was a perfect illustration of Mr. Sharaa’s point.

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December 15th, 2007, 3:41 pm

 

4. why-discuss said:

70% of lebanese (90% of shias, Aoun’s christians majority and moderate sunnis represented by ALL the ex prime ministers who rules lebanon since its independance) believes that Fath al Islam is supported by Hariri jr, Saudis, Jordanians US and undercovered operations.
A UN probe has NOT found “overwhelming” evidence of Syria’s responbility in Hariri’s murder.
The guy who wrote this article lives in a world of fantasy. Why is he not signing this brillantly misleading article?

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December 15th, 2007, 4:19 pm

 

5. Bashmann said:

Why,

You site quiet a poll. Can you produce it?

I do not doubt that a section of the Lebanese population think the way you describe it, yet I believe the numbers you site are exaggerated.

The WSJ article makes a good case as to the possible involvement of the Syrian regime, although I would hold final judgement on this ’till the tribunal finishes its work.

Aside from the speculation on the part of the writer of this article about the Syrian regime’s involvement in the assasinations, I believe the important message the owner of it is trying to send to the Bush administration that the regime in Damascus is incapable of “rehabilitation”. I think the battle between Rice and Cheney is shifting back in Cheney’s favor. The latest meeting between Bush and members of the opposition and the subsequent Bush’s statement posted above regarding the lastest widespread arrest of the Damascus Declaration members accross the country is sending clear message to those who jumped to a hasty conclusions that the relationship between the US and Syria is improving.

The fact that Bashar Asad statement yesterday about his “Strong Iranian alliance” coupled with Shara’ statement that “no one can beat Syria in Lebanon” has moved the tide back in favor of the neo-con’s and will stay there ’till at least the next US President takes office, even then I do not believe much will change in regards to Syria.

What most readers of SC who seem to support Bashar Asad governement overlook the fact that civility in such a government has been discarded since the Chief of Staff General Husni al-Za’im seized power in 1949 and arrested President Shukri Al-Qwatly and his Prime Minister Khalid al-Azm. Za’im’s fate was sealed then when his friend, General Sami al-Hinnawi killed him a month later after he staged his own military coup d’etat.

Cheers

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December 15th, 2007, 7:02 pm

 

6. Honest Patriot said:

WHY-DISCUSS

Brilliant. Hariri jr funds Fatah al Islam. What have you been ingesting ?
You rely on the lack of “overwhelming” evidence to vindicate Syria, yet callously put forth the thesis of civilized folks supporting Fatah al Islam without any shred of logic, purely based on your assumption of what people “believe.” While one has to question the source of your percentages, it is likely that many folks in Lebanon believe what you say, but that’s only because of the remarkably effective propaganda and brainwashing machine cooked up by the Syrian and Hezbollah machineries. I would even concede that it is possible that the people driving these machineries so delude themselves that they end up believing their fallacies – thus making their message sound sincere.
It is this same kind of blindness that has caused the misery of the Paletsinians and the decades old hardline against reaching a civilized accommodation with Israel.
You clearly have absolutely no experience in dealing with decent, hard-working Israelis or Jews worldwide. If you did, you’d find the utterly dismal contrast between their largely laudable family values, civilization, skills, intelligence, hard work, and the languishing laziness of some of the arab masses led by fanaticism and ignorance.

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December 15th, 2007, 7:03 pm

 

7. Ziz said:

“A UN probe has NOT found “overwhelming” evidence of Syria’s responsbility in Hariri’s murder.”

Hear Hear.

Yhe (very lengthy and inconclusive ) UN report was started by Detlev Mehlis who has a dodgy record (and is a shill for the US – see record over nightclub bombings)and has now run into the sand.

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December 16th, 2007, 12:42 am

 

8. Qifa Nabki said:

you’d find the utterly dismal contrast between their largely laudable family values, civilization, skills, intelligence, hard work, and the languishing laziness of some of the arab masses led by fanaticism and ignorance.

Honest Patriot,

Way to racialize the debate. Why not just drop the “some” qualifier in that last sentence and tell us how you really feel?

I don’t think this quite passes for “honesty” …

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December 16th, 2007, 12:43 am

 

9. Nur al-Cubicle said:

Vaporware!

Russia does not intend to set a date for the follow-up conference unless it is assured that the understandings established at Annapolis are implemented, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. At the conclusion of the Annapolis Conference, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner affirmed that Russia had proposed to hold the meeting, which would address the Israeli-Syrian peace process, in early 2008 in Moscow. The first Israeli-Palestinian talks following Annapolis on Wednesday, “ended badly”, said Mr. Lavrov. During the 2-hour meeting, the Palestinians has asked the Israelis to end colonization of the West Bank.

[Via L’Orient-LeJour]

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December 16th, 2007, 12:59 am

 

10. Honest Patriot said:

Qifa Nabki,

I understand your disappointment at my statement. Have YOU experienced both sides of the fence ? I have, and can only be honest if I tell it as I see it. I will NEVER paint any wall with an “all” qualifier because I just don’t believe in it. However, facts are facts. Compare the valiant regrouping of the Armenians when faced with traqedy with the degeneration into terrorism of the Palestinians when faced with theirs (and the Palestinian people were dealt one of the worst tragic blows that any people had to endure). Just reading history and observing objectively, with a forum to express this opinion that I’m grateful to Professor Landis for making available. Somehow I have a strong inkling that you don’t agree with Why-Discuss either.

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December 16th, 2007, 3:34 am

 

11. Nur al-Cubicle said:

Sarkozy suggested the “Bomb Iran” option, again. You would have heard nothing of the sort from the old Gaullists, or even the young ones like de Villepin.

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December 16th, 2007, 4:11 am

 

12. why-discuss said:

HONEST PATRIOT

I can return the same arguments to you on the propaganda made by the US and its allies to convince the world that Iran is the culprit and the Israelis are just “good, hard working people” with high ethical values. You sound like Gates…This propaganda has obvioulsy convinced you and blinded you.
Yes, Hariri has supported financially islamic extremists, probably not knowing they will turn against him. The whole story of the Bank Meditteeranee hold up is still hazy and the lebanese autorities seem very reluctant to disclose what they found, why?
Your admiration for the Isrealis business people is laudable. I don’t doubt that many jews are highly educated, motivated and sophisticated compared to the arab mass, the same as the armenians.
It does not preclude them from ignoring the fate of the palestinians as Israel ruthlessly thrive to become as one Israeli was putting it “one of the richest country in the world”
Also you seem to imply that the arab ‘race’ is genetically lazy, they may be so, as the Italians are, so what? Are you suggesting they should be wiped out from the earth and replaced by genetically modified zombies to become what you want them to be ‘good hardworking” people?

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December 16th, 2007, 9:45 am

 

13. ANNIE said:

honest patriot says “You clearly have absolutely no experience in dealing with decent, hard-working Israelis or Jews worldwide”.

Quoting a Palestinian friend : the only decent Israelis are the ones who do not live in Palestine on MY land in MY house.

OK Israelis are hard working, so what ? Does it benefit anyone but them ?
Does the so called “laziness” of Arabs “hurt” anyone but them ?

Arabs have preserved a quality of humanity and human relationships which we have lost in the West

As for Palestinians, they are ruthlessly provoked and wiped out, step by step by the occupant.

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December 16th, 2007, 10:02 am

 

14. why-discuss said:

Bashmann

I agree with you on the shifting of influences in the White House, especially after the failure of France who had a softer approach to Lebanon’s presidential election. After Geagea received the visit of Welch, he declared that the 50% +1 option is not dead. Obviously the US wants to use forceps for the election as they see that more delay is playing against its interests and reinforcing the opposition supporting Hezbollah, including Syria.
I guess this shifting is normal in politics, then it may shift again depending on the results. The battle’s results are impredictable. Would the anti-american alliance succeed in forcing the US to readjust its strategy in favor of Syria or would the pro-americans be able to impose their solution on Lebanon and weaken Syria.
Syria is gambling on the time pressure and the weakness of the US during the election period to score points. They also count on Israel’s panic about Iran that is now let loose, to score more points and draw the Isralis and the US to the obvious conclusion that the peace with Syria is attainable and is the key to trigger a chain reaction towards peace in Palestine.

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December 16th, 2007, 10:08 am

 

15. Honest Patriot said:

Why-Discuss,

You said: “Are you suggesting they should be wiped out from the earth and replaced by genetically modified zombies to become what you want them to be ‘good hardworking” people?”

Of course NOT. And I don’t believe it’s genetic, either. It may be systemic, but systems can be changed. I just wish there was a realization that whatever “loss” Arabs and Palestinians believe they would incur by making peace with Israel is minuscule compared to the many losses that they continue to incur by their insistence on either “wiping it out” or on setting up a solution that, in the eyes of Israelis, will lead eventually to the loss of their identity. More can be achieved by accommodating peace under less-than-ideal terms and then working within democratic and civilized systems on evolving towards one’s goals than by the strategy that has been followed in the last several decades.

Annie,

I agree that one of the most painful and tragic lot in history is that of the Palestinians. I also agree about the “quality of humanity and human relationships which we have lost in the West” and which many Arabs have preserved. Surely, you mean by it the many positive aspect of these relationships and not the still negative aspects such as women’s rights and the feudal system of government in many Arab countries. The state of Israel was imposed on the Palestinians through a guilt-trip of the international community driven by – alas – the religious belief of Zionists wanting to reclaim the land that “God has given them”: I have granted that in a previous post. What I argue for is a workable solution that starts from the facts on the ground and the ability to create, if not harmonious, then at least peaceful coexistence, letting the competition be economic, cultural, and friendly. Palestinians do have an intellectual class second-to-none. There are “points of light” in Palestine, in the US and in the world, Paletinians who are articulate and capable of taking on the cause through peruasion – the kind that can change minds and mobilize masses. What I lament is the seeming endless cycle of violence created by the fixation of many extremist and fanatical elements to wipe Israel off the map (as a Jewish state). Isn’t the escalation in violence, leading to what you call “ruthless provocation” of the Palestinians, isn’t this “provocation” driven by the attacks on innocent Israeli civilians?
The tragedy is doubled by how the Arab countries treat Palestinians. Except in Lebanon. That is because in Lebanon, it is the Palestinians (or the violent elements in them) that are a key culprit – ever since the 1968 Cairo accord – that completely destabilized this country. No other country in the world would accept the creation of an armed state-within-a-state which goes on to attack another country from withn its borders. Lebanon is still suffering from the imbalance created at that time.

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December 16th, 2007, 12:25 pm

 

16. Observer said:

Clearly from the latest news and from the posts on this blog, I conclude that Lebanon has ceased to exist. The politicians are nothing more than a group of mafiosi.
Some on this blog continue to use the orientalist discourse: civilization, laziness, hard work. Let me say, these are nothing more than the intellectual foundation for racist colonialist discourse; that the average Arab works far harder than any Israeli however inefficient that work is at the end of the day; that a system of governance can lead to cultural apathy as the East Germans became “lazy” under communism; that the Palestinians have achieved 95% litracy rate and without them the prosperity of the Gulf would not have happened; that being hard working and disciplined does not give you moral superiority. Remember that the most hard working and disciplined of the nations on earth did so for the most efficient and superb organization of the Holocaust.

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December 16th, 2007, 2:42 pm

 

17. why-discuss said:

Honest Patriot

You are right but you have an idealistic view of the area and of the world. “If only”… Lots of wars coud have been avoided if only…

You said “No other country in the world would accept the creation of an armed state-within-a-state which goes on to attack another country from withn its borders. Lebanon is still suffering from the imbalance created at that time.”
And no one in the present lebanese governement dares to cancel that deadly Cairo accord. It would have been very easy after the murderous war of Nahr El Bared to have this agreement rescinded, why is that governement still paralyzed when it has to deal with paleastinians?

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December 16th, 2007, 2:47 pm

 

18. Observer said:

Here is some “civilizational” news from the “chosen people” book of how to treat your victims:
Strangling Gaza

by César Chelala

It could, rightfully, be a cause of shame to the world. But the world, besieged by violence and injustice, hardly notices it. The people of Gaza, 1.4 million of them, are slowly and purposely being deprived of basic foods and medicines by the so called civilized countries in the West and there is hardly a protest. And all this happens because the people in Gaza want to be free and independent. Never mind that in the process children and innocent civilians are killed or families dispossessed.

Dr. Mona Elfarra, a Palestinian physician and human rights activist, thus describes a situation in her personal blog, “I don’t know exactly what was going on inside the little heads of the kids who were preparatory school children, of Al Buriege boy’s preparatory school. But the two tiny bodies were shot, with many bullets, as I was told by my colleagues at the emergency room at the Al Aqsa hospital…On November 10, the dreams of two tiny kids has stopped forever.”

As Dr. Elfarra states, both the children as well as the Israeli soldiers who killed them are victims of the occupation, “…the occupation that deprives the soldiers of their humanity, when under the false pretence of Israeli security, daily crimes are committed against my country. And against my people.” This is particularly true in the lack of food and medicines for the people in Gaza.

Most of the basic goods in Gaza are imported. Because of border closures, there is limited delivery of those goods, in particular sugar and wheat flour, which represent 80 percent of the caloric intake of Palestinians. The majority of the population depends on food aid from international organizations.

At the same time, the flow of exports leaving Gaza has practically stopped, while the commercial and humanitarian goods allowed to come in continues to decline. The Gaza Strip is practically sealed off from the outside world. Approximately 80 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day. It is estimated that 70 percent of the potential workforce is out of work or without pay. The Gaza Strip is not receiving tax monies owed to by Israel, which amounts to almost half of its budget.

Also critical is the public health and medical situation of the inhabitants of the Strip. The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that the public health system is facing an unprecedented crisis. UNICEF reports that children are living in an environment of extreme violence, insecurity and fear. Shelling and sonic bombs have increased children’s signs of distress and exhaustion.

UN agencies have appealed for Israel to restore full energy supplies to the Gaza Strip, stating their concern over the status of the public health system. “In the last months, the situation has become intolerable, with problems of referral outside of Gaza for patients who need specialized care that cannot be delivered in Gaza,” states Dr. Ambroggio Manenti, head of the WHO office for the West Bank and Gaza.

The Israeli government General Security Service (Shabak) cites unspecified “security concerns” when denying medical patients exit permits from Gaza, a situation that has been denounced by Human Rights Watch and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel.) “Israel denial of medical care to those in urgent need amounts to collective punishment against the population, which violates international law,” states Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Human Rights Watch Middle East division.

In June, PHR-Israel and Gisha, another Israel-based human rights group, challenged Israel’s restrictions on medical evacuees in Israel’s Supreme Court. One of those denied permission to leave Gaza was a 16-year-old girl with a heart condition. “Israel has legitimate security concerns about militant groups firing rockets from Gaza into civilian areas. But denying medical treatment to a 16-year-old girl with a congenital heart defect doesn’t make Israel any safer,” said Leah Whitson.

Leah Whitson’s words are confirmed by Gideon Levy, the Israeli journalist, writing in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “But we have no right to do what we are doing. Just as no one would conceive of killing the residents of an entire neighborhood, to harass and incarcerate it because of a few criminals living there, there is no justification for abusing an entire people in the name of our security. The question of whether ending the occupation would threaten or strengthen Israel’s security is irrelevant. There are not, and cannot be, any preconditions for restoring justice.”

César Chelala, an international public health consultant, is the foreign correspondent for The Middle East Times (Australia.) He is also a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award.

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35 Comments so far

Ragdoll December 15th, 2007 12:42 pm

Gaza is a concentration camp!

US taxpayers are supporting the oppressive exteme right wing Israeli government to the tune of several billion dollars a year. The neo-con Bush administration works as blood brothers with the Israeli extreme right-wing.

Major US media is not informing the public about what is happening, and is so majority biased against the Palestinians, there is little chance of thorough and accurate reporting of the Palestinians awful plight.

Admirable organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace in the US, with a web site, that publish thorough and thoughtful criticism of the current Israeli administration and IDF practices, and B’tselem, the Israeli human rights organization are not getting the voice they deserve in major US media.

US politicians are scared to death of offending AIPAC even though article after article, and poll after poll, reveal that this so-called Israeli lobby does not represent the majority opinion of American Jews.

Meanwhile, Palestinian children starve, endure unbelievable truama, die at birth when held up ffor hours at checkpoints or for lack of urgent medical care, and see their futures jeopardized, all in the “noble cause” of security for Israel.

The EU has turned its back on the requirement that Israel not commit violations of human rights in order to continue to benefit from duty free imports into the EU. 35% of
Israel’s exports is to the European Union.

Jim Glover December 15th, 2007 12:49 pm

If Israel would start acting like smart Jews instead of Stooges for the War Machine, they would start negotiating with Hamas… Gaza and Hamas are not going away but the strength of Israel and its ability to Justify their collective punishment is going with the wind.

For 60 Years they have been giving the rest of the World reason after reason to hate the the rest of us Jews.

Come on Israel … get with the program! Only Human Harmony can make a future worth living for and that is to Talk to perceived enemies and end all this fighting for money and power and false security.

Shalom.

tellurider December 15th, 2007 12:59 pm

Do you think that maybe, during and after World War I, the jews did something that really pissed off the German people?
Remember there was all that depression/inflation in Germany. The Germans were kinda fucked. That’s why they followed the devil himself. Any port in a storm.
Is it a stretch to believe that they turned on the jews for no reason? None ?
Look at the way the Palestinians are being treated, not a peep from the world jews !
Could it be that the German bankers (were they jews?) fucked their neighbors during the depression and thereby caused the rank and file German to hate them so?
Do people, like today’s Zionists, just become heartless tormentors ? Are we to believe that peaceful people that love all, just one day up and decided to torture the Palestinians ?
The bible does indicate that the tribes of juda did employ a ‘kill them all’ diplomatic policy, kinda like today’s zionists.
What else did they do ?

Bernice December 15th, 2007 1:03 pm

Why don’t thousands and thousands more people who ARE aware of what is approaching genocide in Gaza write letters to the editor or ombudsman to let the MSM know we know what is going on? (Not to mention our reps in Congress who seem to bow down in obeisance to AIPAC.)

Israel seems to be absolutely paranoid about Palestinians. The tank and/or fighter plane attacks they REGULARLY carry out against Gaza are supposedly to protect Israel from, I guess, annihilation by resistance fighters who have nothing to fight with but shoulder rockets that cannot be aimed. Israeli soldiers/pilots are cautioned not to kill any Palestinians who are less than 12 years old. (How humane.)

Israeli deaths in the last year of so from rockets: 2
Palestinian deaths: 600-700, many of them children

DenverCurmudgeon December 15th, 2007 1:28 pm

This country exists as the fulfillment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy.”
– Golda Meir, Le Monde, 15 October 1971

The time has come for US Taxpayers to stop propping up Israel and to give God an opportunity to financially support his chosen people in their war to extend the borders of the promised land.

Jim Glover December 15th, 2007 1:31 pm

Sending letters to our Media and government is good and sending them to the government of Israel might even be more effective.

We can’t change the past, the future is Now!

kelmer December 15th, 2007 1:32 pm

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December 16th, 2007, 2:47 pm

 

19. Observer said:

And here is even better news from the Guardian how “civilization” of the “chosen people” works so well for its own Israeli second rate citizens in this superb democracy while at the same time “working hard” to become the “richest country on earth (per capita)”
 

 

Published on Friday, December 14, 2007 by The Guardian/UK

Privatising Zionism
Increasingly, Israel is handing over its ‘Judaisation’ project to private firms – leading to a corrosion of accountability

by Neve Gordon and Erez Tzfadia

For less than four dollars an hour, the Jewish teenagers removed furniture, clothes, kitchenware and toys from the homes and loaded them on to trucks. As they worked diligently alongside the many policemen who had come to secure the destruction of 30 houses in two unrecognised Bedouin villages, Bedouin teenagers stood by watching their homes being emptied.

When all the belongings had been removed, the bulldozers rapidly destroyed the homes. All those present, Jews and Bedouins, were Israeli citizens; together they learned an important lesson in the discrimination characterising civic life in the Jewish state.

The current demolitions are part of a strategy that began with the foundation of the state of Israel. Its ultimate objective is the Judaisation of space. In this case, the demolitions were carried out in order to establish two new Jewish villages. Their establishment, though, is part of a much larger plan that includes the construction of about 30 new Jewish settlements in the Israeli Negev, the seizure of Bedouin land for military needs, and the creation of dozens of single-family farms on land that has been inhabited by Bedouins since they were relocated to the region by the state in the early 1950s.

After witnessing the demolitions, a Bedouin activist asked one of the Jewish teenagers why he had agreed to participate in the eviction. Without hesitating, the teenager replied: “I am a Zionist and what we are doing here today is Zionism.”

The teenager was not wrong. And yet he was probably too young to recognise that even though Zionism’s major goals have not changed, the methods deployed to realise them have been undergoing a radical transformation. While, traditionally, the state itself performed the task of Judiasing space, over the years the government has been outsourcing more and more of its responsibilities to private firms. The teenager himself was hired by a personnel agency, which was employed by the state to carry out the job of expelling Bedouins from their homes.

The process of privatising Zionism has been slow. For over five decades the state was the sole agent responsible for all planning of new villages, towns and cities, and only the construction was carried out by private contractors. Now, land from which the Bedouins are being expelled is sold at rock bottom prices to big real estate moguls, who are then responsible not only for building Jewish villages and towns, but also for planning them. The private contractors manage to garner larger returns than ever before, since the difference in price between “unplanned” land and land that has undergone “planning” is enormous.

The personnel agencies and contractors are, however, not the only heroes in the crusade to privatise Zionism. A five-minute drive separates the two unrecognised Bedouin villages whose houses were demolished from a number of single-family Jewish farms established in the last few years. The state gives these Jewish farmers large plots of land and connects them to basic infrastructure like water and electricity, and, in return, expects them to be part of an apparatus whose role is to contract and restrict Bedouin movement and development and to help the security forces keep an eye on the Negev’s indigenous population.

If one drives a few kilometres further and crosses the Green Line into the occupied Palestinian territories, one may notice that military checkpoints are also being privatised. In the past year, at least five such checkpoints have been handed over to subcontractors and are currently managed by corporate warriors. The difference between IDF soldiers and corporate warriors is that the latter operate within the gray areas of the law. They are Israel’s Blackwater. Thus, as this privatising trend continues the checkpoints in the West Bank, which have already earned notoriety under the management of the Israeli military, will surely become sites of more misery for Palestinians trying to pass through.

The checkpoints, though, are just a recent development in a process that has been going on for several years in the occupied territories. In the early 1980s, the Israeli government allowed private contractors to appropriate land within the occupied territories and sell it at great profits, while the military created settler militias to help it police the Palestinian inhabitants. These civilian militias were given military-issue personnel carriers, weapons, and communications equipment and were asked to patrol around their settlements, which, in practice, often meant policing nearby Palestinian villages.

Zionism’s privatisation does not symbolise a strategic change but rather a tactical one. The state has been shedding some of its responsibility, while private entities have been taking on the tasks that until recently had been carried out by the government. The major difference is that the private firms are even less liable than the state. Hence, the use of teenagers to evict Bedouins from their homes is not only a reflection of this insidious process of privatisation, but also the unrelenting corrosion of moral accountability.

Neve Gordon teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. He is the author of From the Margins of Globalization. His book Israel’s Occupation will appear in 2008 (University of California Press). Erez Tzfadia teaches public policy at Sapir College in Israel.

© 2007 The Guardian

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December 16th, 2007, 2:54 pm

 

20. Honest Patriot said:

Why-Discuss:

You ask “why is that governement still paralyzed when it has to deal with palestinians?”
Maybe you can shed light on this. My read of the news has been that Mar 14 representatives have always been working towards elimination of all weapons except with the Lebanese Army and the Lebanese Security forces. This includes not only integrating Hezbollah’s forces in the army but also eliminating all Palestinian weapons (and in parallel working towards much better living conditions and political efficacy of the Palestinians). I conclude this from their statements and actions. I also infer that it is the Mar 8 representatives who are at best stalling and at worst working to torpedo any such steps. To me the big enigma is Aoun. Mar 8 has been standing in the way of this government taking the steps you talk about. Am I wrong on this ? If so, where and how ? And what is the solution ?

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December 16th, 2007, 4:13 pm

 

21. Kamal said:

Honest Patriot,

You give Aoun too much credit by calling him an “enigma”. He’s so transparent, Hizballah/Syria figured him out a long time ago and have been using him like a cheap tool since 2005.

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December 16th, 2007, 5:26 pm

 

22. Akbar Palace said:

Quoting a Palestinian friend : the only decent Israelis are the ones who do not live in Palestine on MY land in MY house.

Annie –

Tell your Palestinian friend that there are no Israelis living in Palestine. Also remind him/her that even more than that, there isn’t one Jew living in Palestine. I’m sure that would make him feel better.

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December 16th, 2007, 8:05 pm

 

23. Observer said:

This article from Rhagida Dargham in Al Hayat is worth reading by those on this post that think that morality has anything to do with politics especially when proclaimed by the ” Exceptionalism theory” or ” La Mission Civilisatrice”.
I also said before : Al takrar youallem al himar. Repetition teaches the ass; however arab potentates princes and presidents for life are inferior to the ass as they keep getting screwed and continue to smile and share hands and take photo ops.

Reconnaissance d’une défaite:
من المسؤول عن «التراجع» الدولي عن دعم مسيرة الاستقلال
اللبنانية؟
نيويورك – راغدة درغام الحياة – 14/12/07//

يتحمل الرئيس الأميركي جورج دبليو بوش مسؤولية سياسية
وأخلاقية نحو بلد صغير اسمه لبنان، لأنه بادر إلى اطلاق
تصريح تلو الآخر، متعهداً دعم مسيرة هذا البلد نحو
الاستقلال والديموقراطية والوقوف في وجه التطرف والتصدي
لتحويله قاعدة لسورية أو لإيران، ثم خذله بصمت رهيب
وبإبلاغ الذين راهنوا على تعهداته أنه غير قادر أن يفعل
شيئاً.

كذلك الرئيس الفرنسي نيكولا ساركوزي الذي تعهد الحب
والولاء للولايات المتحدة وحصل على تفويض من بوش ليدير
الملف اللبناني، وعليه الآن واجب تفسير ما فعله هو
وطاقمه عندما قرر إعادة النفوذ السوري إلى لبنان
ببهلوانية فرنسية مذهلة في جهلها وغطرستها معاً.

بالطبع، ان الإدارة الأميركية والحكومة الفرنسية ليستا
مسؤولتين مباشرة عن كل اغتيال سياسي جديد لمسؤول حكومي
أو لصحافي أو لضابط مرموق في الجيش اللبناني، لكنهما
ليستا معفيتين من بعض المسؤولية في تركهما الانطباع بأن
الافلات من العقاب على الاغتيالات السياسية بات وارداً
الآن، وأن الصفقات مفتوحة على كل احتمال. صحيح أن لبنان
سيكون الثمن المباشر للقرار الأميركي السياسي بالتخلي
عنه لأسباب تبدو ذات علاقة بإيران ودورها في العراق،
وبسورية وعلاقتها بإسرائيل. لكن لبنان لن يدفع وحده هذا
الثمن، بل ان أميركا ستدفع هي أيضاً ثمناً غالياً
لاطلاقها هيمنة النظام الايراني على العراق ولبنان
ولخضوعها أمام قوى التخويف والتهديد والاغتيالات
السياسية والتخريب.

أوروبا أيضاً ستكون ساحة مكشوفة على افرازات وعواقب
سياسات الخضوع والارضاء التي كلف الاتحاد الأوروبي فرنسا
بها، فتلهفت في عهد ساركوزي على سياسات تمليها المصالح
المالية بالبلايين كتلك التي تتحكم بعلاقة فرنسا بقطر،
التي تقيم علاقة وثيقة بالنظام السوري. فالذي ينتصر في
المعركة على لبنان أو يخسر المعركة ليس اللبنانيون
وحدهم، وإنما الذين وثقوا بالولايات المتحدة وفرنسا
والأسرة الدولية المتمثلة بمجلس الأمن والأمانة العامة
للأمم المتحدة، وهم يمثلون قاعدة شعبية ونخبة مهمة في
منطقة الشرق الأوسط وجزء من العالم الإسلامي. هؤلاء
يطالبون مجلس الأمن أن يدافع عن قراراته بقدر ما دافعت
القوى الموالية للحكومة اللبنانية عن مركزية هذه
القرارات وضرورة تنفيذها، فيما عملت قوى المعارضة
وحلفاؤها في دمشق وطهران على التقويض المنهجي للقرارات
الدولية. هؤلاء يطالبون الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة بان
كي مون أن يكف عن ديبلوماسية التقاط الصور وهو يجول
العالم بزيارات مبرمجة وأخرى مفاجئة، وأن يتعمق حقاً في
معنى خسارة معركة القرارات الدولية في لبنان وآثارها على
المنطقة وعلى الأمم المتحدة.

واضح أن الصين لا تولي ملف لبنان أي قدر من الأهمية
وتتركه، في مجلس الأمن، لروسيا – حليفة دمشق وطهران.
كذلك بريطانيا بدورها تترفع عن دور قيادي في ملف لبنان،
وتترك القيادة لفرنسا. سفيرا فرنسا وبريطانيا جديدان على
الأمم المتحدة، وهما يخلفان سفيرين مخضرمين كانت لهما
أدوار مباشرة وفاعلة في ملفي لبنان وإيران. السفير
الأميركي زلماي خليل زاد أيضاً جديد، إلى حد ما، وهو غير
مهتم بالملف اللبناني والإيراني، كما كان سلفه جون
بولتون. كل ما يريده هو أن يعيد دوراً للأمم المتحدة في
العراق ليعين الولايات المتحدة هناك. ومما لم يساعد
ابداً لبنان أن الممثل العربي الوحيد في السنتين
الماضيتين هو قطر (التي تنتهي عضويتها آخر هذه السنة)
والتي «انجزت» تشكيل ما يسمى بـ «الزمرة الخماسية»، في
إشارة إلى المجموعة التي تحاول تكراراً اجهاض القرارات
التي لا تعجب سورية وإيران وتضم جنوب افريقيا واندونيسيا
وقطر والصين وروسيا.

وبعدما كان الرئيس الأميركي أبلغ قبل أقل من شهرين القوى
اللبنانية التي راهنت على دعمه للمسيرة نحو الديموقراطية
والاستقلال أنه سيوجه تهديداً ذا صدقية لسورية لتكف عن
لبنان، عاد وبعث اليها رسائل واضحة أن الولايات المتحدة
غير قادرة أن تفعل شيئاً من هذا القبيل. قالت إدارته إن
الأجواء لا تسمح بتوجيه «تهديد ذي صدقية» إلى دمشق يبين
جدياً أن أميركا ملتزمة بوعودها للبنان ولن تسمح للنظام
السوري أن يستعيد نفوذه وهيمنته على البلاد، وأن يفلت من
العقاب.

هناك رأيان أساسيان، من بين آراء متضاربة ومتطابقة عدة،
في شأن ما حدث ويحدث في السياسة الأميركية نحو إيران
وسورية مروراً بلبنان وفلسطين والعراق.

رأي يقول إن الموضوع الرئيسي للولايات المتحدة هو العراق
وليس لبنان، وإن إيران وسورية تتعاونان الآن في مسألة
العراق – كل بطرقها الخاصة – بعدما كانتا استخدمتا
العراق لابلاغ الولايات المتحدة أكثر من رسالة عبر
اساليب تضمنت تسهيل هجرة المتطوعين إلى العراق وتضمنت
أيضاً ضربات مباشرة للقوات الأميركية في العراق.

أصحاب هذا الرأي يقولون إن الأميركيين ليسوا الطرف الذي
بادر إلى اصلاح العلاقة وطلب المساعدة، إنما الإيرانيون
هم الذين أخذوا المبادرة بعدما تمكنت الولايات المتحدة
من تحقيق انجازات أمنية مهمة في العراق. أي بعدما تبيّن
لإيران أن جورج دبليو بوش لن يهرول هرباً من العراق.
عرضت ايران عليه المساعدة وأثبتت له أن لديها معلومات
استخباراتية من صميم العراق تساعد الولايات المتحدة.
الرئيس الأميركي، الذي يتوق للنجاح في العراق، وجد مصلحة
استراتيجية له وللولايات المتحدة في تلبية النداء
الإيراني. وهكذا حدث التغيير الجذري في العلاق مع ونحو
إيران.

إيران، من جهتها، أرادت الاعتراف بها لاعباً رئيسياً لا
غنى عنه في الموازين الاستراتيجية الأميركية في منطقة
الخليج والشرق الأوسط ابتداء من العراق. أولوياتها
الفورية واضحة: بقاء النظام في السلطة، وعدم خسارة
العراق الذي لها فيه سيطرة ونفوذ بفضل الغزو الأميركي
للعراق.

القائمون على صنع السياسة الأميركية توصلوا إلى اقتناع
بأن لا مانع من اعطاء إيران أسهم شراكة في العراق إذا
استعدت طهران أن تضمن مساهمة ايجابية تسهّل – بدلاً من
عرقلة – إعادة ترتيب العلاقات الأميركية الثنائية مع
الحكومة العراقية. هذه العلاقة الجديدة ستتوج جهود اخراج
القوات الأميركية من المدن، كي لا تبقى رهينة التطورات
الأمنية فيما يُعاد نشر القوات، بدلاً من الانسحاب
الأميركي من العراق.

وبحسب أصحاب الرأي القائل بالتوصل إلى توافق أميركي –
إيراني ساحته العراق، ان الصراع حُسم بين دعاة تقسيم
العراق ومعارضي التقسيم بأي شكل «فجّاً» كان أو
«ناعماً». يقول هؤلاء إن القرار النهائي لإدارة جورج
دبليو بوش هو الابقاء على عراق موحد. أما اذا جاء
الديموقراطيون إلى الحكم، فإن الوضع قد يتغير، لا سيما
أن أمثال جو بايدن ولزلي غلب وريتشارد هولبروك، يدعون
الى تقسيم العراق لإنقاذه، حسب تصورهم.

وأخيراً، يرى اصحاب هذا الرأي أن الناحية النووية في
العلاقة الأميركية – الإيرانية تم حسمها بدورها من خلال
تقرير الاستخبارات الأميركية التي قالت إن طهران توقفت
عن برنامجها السري عام 2003. ويضيف هؤلاء ان النظام في
إيران لم يسعَ وراء امتلاك القنبلة النووية بقدر ما سعى
وراء «اختلاق النقاش» حول «حق» إيران بامتلاك القدرات
النووية. ذلك «النقاش» حول ذلك «الحق» هو الذي ساهم في
حشد الدعم الشعبي وراء النظام الايراني، لأنه حرّك
المشاعر القومية والشعور بالعنفوان استناداً الى «الحق»
بالقنبلة النووية الشيعية في وجه امتلاك باكستان القنبلة
النووية السنيّة، وإسرائيل القنبلة النووية اليهودية
والهند القنبلة النووية البوذية.

وعليه، يرى اصحاب هذا الرأي أن البراغماتية والحكمة
الإيرانيتين أسفرتا عن تقويم بسيط هو: أن الانجازات
الأميركية في العراق، ومقاومة شيعة العراق لوسائل
الاملاء الإيرانية، وتعاون العشائر العراقية مع الولايات
المتحدة، تضع إيران أمام انتهاز فرصة اصلاح أوضاعها مع
أميركا ومع العراق، أو خسارة الفرصة المتاحة ودفع ثمنها.
فاتخذت طهران القرار بالتوجه الى التعاون والاتفاق في
شراكة صامتة مع الولايات المتحدة.

هذه الشراكة، حسب هذا الرأي، لا تترجم نفسها سلباً على
الساحة اللبنانية، بل قد يكون العكس هو الصحيح. يقول
هؤلاء – وهم منخرطون بصورة مباشرة في علاقة لبنان
بالاستراتيجيات الأميركية والإيرانية نحو بعضهما البعض
ونحو العراق – ان طهران تريد التخلص من عبء «حزب الله»
في لبنان بصورة تنقذ ماء الوجه وبضمانات أميركية لا
إحراج فيها لحليفها ووكيلها في لبنان. فـ «حزب الله»
مشروع يكلف مالياً مئات ملايين الدولارات سنوياً لطهران،
الى جانب كلفته السياسية. وايران قد تضع علاقتها بهذا
الحزب في موازين مختلفة إذا كان سيسبب عرقلة في علاقاتها
الاستراتيجية مع الولايات المتحدة. تلك العلاقة سيكون
اساسها الاعتراف بالنظام والكف من محاولات زعزعته
وتهديده وعزله والإقرار بوزنه الاقليمي. وهذا مردود كبير
يستحق اعادة النظر إذا كان الخيار البديل هو التمسك بـ
«حزب الله» والتضحية بفرصة تأهيل النظام الايراني.

السؤال الذي يفرض نفسه الآن على جورج بوش وإدارته هو: هل
سيؤدي التعاون الأميركي – الايراني في العراق الى صون
نموذج التعددية الذي وعدت به هذه الإدارة عندما غزت
واحتلت العراق؟ او أن الشراكة مع رجال الحكم في طهران
الذين يفرضون نموذجهم الرافض للتعددية ستحبط وتعرّي كل
مزاعم الرغبة الأميركية بالتعددية والديموقراطية؟

السؤال ليس عشوائياً ولا هامشياً سيما وانه يتزامن مع
بوادر تخلي جورج بوش عن تعهداته بدعم التعددية في لبنان،
بل عن خيانة للعملية الديموقراطية وللاستقلالية والتصدي
لهيمنة سورية، اعتمدت الاغتيالات السياسية للشخصيات
اللبنانية نمطاً وسياسة.

وهذا يؤدي الى الرأي الثاني لمعنى الأحداث في لبنان
والتي كان آخرها عملية اغتيال ارهابية أخرى قبل يومين
قتلت مدير العمليات في الجيش اللبناني، العميد الركن
فرنسوا الحاج، أبرز المرشحين لخلافة قائد الجيش العماد
ميشال سليمان – بعد ان يتم انتخاب الأخير رئيساً
للجمهورية – وأحد أكفأ العسكريين الذي قاد العمليات ضد
الارهابيين من «فتح» الاسلام» وغيرهم.

يقول اصحاب هذا الرأي ان هذا الاغتيال تزامن مع الشعور
العام في لبنان بأن الولايات المتحدة والمجتمع الدولي،
الممثل بمجلس الأمن والأمين العام للأمم المتحدة، تخلى
عن لبنان، وان أجواء التخلي عززت ثقة مرتكبي هذه الجرائم
ومن وراءهم بإفلاتهم من المحاسبة.

فكل ما يفعله مجلس الأمن والأمين العام في الأشهر
القليلة الماضية هو اصدار بيانات تطالب سورية وايران
بوقف استخدام لبنان ورقة لهما في المقايضات والصفقات، من
خلال تعطيل منهجي للمؤسسات الديموقراطية، من البرلمان
الى الجيش.

روسيا هي ايضاً وراء المماطلة وتقويض المواقف السابقة
لمجلس الأمن وهي المسؤول الرئيسي عن تراجع الأسرة
الدولية عن دعم القرارات التي أصدرتها وعن دعم حكومة
لبنان وجيشه. لكن التراجع في المواقف الاميركية
والفرنسية ساهم جذرياً في تقوية المطالبة الروسية
بالتقويض المنهجي للقرارات وللبنان.

بان كي – مون ايضاً ساهم في التقويض إذ انه تردد تكراراً
في مطالبة سورية بتنفيذ ما طالبتها به قرارات مجلس الأمن
من تعاون في التحقيق الى ترسيم حدودها مع لبنان الى
اعتراف باستقلاله من خلال اقامة علاقات ديبلوماسية معه،
الى الكف عن التدخل في شؤونه الداخلية، الى تنفيذ أوامر
مجلس الأمن بعدم تسريب السلاح والرجال والارهابيين عبر
الحدود السورية الى لبنان.

صمت بان كي مون وصمت مجلس الأمن على التجاوزات هو مباركة
لسورية ودورها التخريبي في لبنان وهو ايضاً مباركة
لإيران وتمويلها وتسليحها لـ «حزب الله».

صمت مجلس الأمن والأمين العام للأمم المتحدة حتى بعدما
ابلغهما الاسبوع الماضي رئيس التحقيق الدولي في
الاغتيالات السياسية المكلف بقرارات في مجلس الأمن سيرج
براميرتز ان «القدرات التشغيلية جاهزة في لبنان
لاغتيالات سياسية اضافية»، انما هو صمت مخجل. وقد جاء
اغتيال العماد الركن فرانسوا الحاج وصمة عار على جبين
الأسرة الدولية التي تتصرف باعتذار كلما كان عليها ان
تطالب بأصوات حازمة وبتهديد يتمتع بالصدقية يفيد بأن على
الذين يرتكبون هذه الفظائع ان يرتجفوا خوفاً.

بدلاً من ذلك، ها هي حكومة نيكولا ساركوزي تتباهى بأنها،
على عكس حكومة جاك شيراك السابقة، لن تتعمد عزل سورية.
انها، بكل وقاحة، تتباهى باعتزامها تأهيل الحكومة
السورية التي ضربت بعرض الحائط جميع القرارات الدولية.
والأنكى ان ساركوزي كلف رجلاً له تاريخ في عدم الجدية
ملف وزارة الخارجية، فأخذ برنار كوشنير على عاتقه مهمات
اعادة سورية من النافذة الساركوزية الى لبنان بعدما كانت
فرنسا شيراك أخرجتها من لبنان ركلاً من الباب المفتوح
وحشدت وراءها الدعم الدولي.

لقد نسي ساركوزي وفريقه ان البوابة اللبنانية هي التي
أعادت العلاقة الفرنسية – الأميركية الى الشراكة
والصداقة في أعقاب القطيعة بسبب العراق. وها هو ساركوزي
اليوم يتوسل الولايات المتحدة ان تقبل به شريكاً ليحل
مكان ما كان يعرف بـ «البودل» poodle البريطاني توني
بلير. وهو يفعل ذلك في خيانة واضحة للباب اللبناني الذي
فتح المصالحة الأميركية – الفرنسية ويفعل ذلك عبر فتح
النافذة للتسلل السوري للتحكم مجدداً بلبنان.

خطاب نائب الرئيس السوري، فاروق الشرع قبل أيام هو خطاب
انتصار نموذج العنف والاستهتار بالقرارات الدولية
وبالدعوات الى الديموقراطية واحترام استقلال لبنان. ما
ساهم في تمكينه من إلقاء هذا الخطاب هو السياسة
الفرنسية، المدعومة أميركياً، وليس فقط تحالف سورية مع
ايران.

خطب «الانتصار» الآتية من القيادتين في طهران ودمشق ليست
خيالية. انه الانتصار على الأسرة الدولية وعلى القرارات
التي أصدرتها وطالبت كلاً منهما بالامتثال لها وإلا…
فالتراجع الاميركي والفرنسي عن «وإلا» تمثل الآن في
خيانة للبنان، لكن ثمن التضليل والتراجع والخذل لن يدفعه
اللبنانيون فقط. انه ثمن آتٍ على الأميركيين والفرنسيين
والأوروبيين الذين سيدفعون استحقاقات قرارات عقد الصفقات
مع أنظمة الاغتيالات السياسية والسيارات المفخخة
واستخدام الحدود لتسهيل هجرة الارهاب وتمويل الميليشيات
وتسليحها في لبنان، وكذلك في العراق لضرب القوات
الأميركية.

اللبنانيون صمدوا لثلاث سنوات واستولوا على عقل وذهن
وتطلعات الملايين من أهل المنطقة العربية والاسلامية.
باتوا نموذج الانتخابات الديموقراطية والشرعية الدولية
والذكاء السياسي في وجه الاغتيالات والارهاب المستورد.
الذي لم يصمد هو ادارة جورج بوش وحكومة نيكولا ساركوزي
ومجلس الأمن الدولي والأمين العام للأمم المتحدة وهم
الخاسرون لأنهم انهاروا أمام الابتزاز والتخويف والرشوات
وكلفة ما فعلوه ستكون غالية.

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December 16th, 2007, 8:57 pm

 

24. norman said:

KSA And Syria are not in good terms,

Farouk “al Sharakh”
Sunday 16 December 2007

Whenever the Syrian Vice President Farouk al Sharaa discusses politics, he causes a rift within inter-Arab relations. His political discourse is unlike that of politicians; rather, the vocabulary that he uses is similar to the words used by those featured in ‘Iraq’s Most Wanted Playing Cards’ namely, the affiliates of Saddam Hussein’s deposed regime. It is for that reason that he deserves to be called Farouk “al Sharakh” [an Arabic term for someone who causes division].
In his latest presentation during a meeting with the various branches of the National Progressive Front, Farouk “al Sharakh” spoke about the issue of dividing Iraq and the opposition of Syria, Iran and Turkey to such an idea. He stated that Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, also do not want partition since the division of Iraq, according to al Sharaa, would lead to the division of the entire region, thus the “oil resources would be outside of the areas controlled by the Saudi royal family.” It’s as simple as that.
Al Sharaa is discussing regions that are governed by the [Saudi] royal family as if the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not a political entity, a state and a nation. His discourse is reckless and arrogant and is similar to that used by Taha Yassin Ramadan during his last press conference before the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. In this brazen manner, al Sharaa spoke about a country that is considered unique and a model unparalleled in the entire Arab region.
This was the not first case and will probably not be the last of “al Sharakh” making insinuations against Saudi Arabia and it certainly does not help to mend rifts between Arab states. The issue is not about what he said about Saudi Arabia a few days ago or even before that as his remarks relating to Lebanon demonstrate the difference between his thoughts and what Saudis have done so far for sake of stability in Lebanon.
Saudi Arabia does not see Arab countries as locations to settle scores and it does not seek to be strong in any country, rather, it only aims to achieve stability in Lebanon and Iraq. Saudi Arabia was the first to warn and stand against dividing Iraq.
If everything that was known was out in the open, I would have mentioned the names of those involved in the following story that I will narrate; however I will respect the agreement between my source and I.
A few days ago, an Arab official told me about a change in his conviction regarding a division that will occur in the region; a division in many Arab countries that is sought by Israel and blessed by the United States. The Arab official told me that he had changed his outlook after a colleague from an Arab state, who is well informed about what is taking place in the region told him, “Two years ago, this [division] would have been possible. However, what Saudi Arabia has done so far, and continues to do within the political realm, has made the idea of partition impossible. The Saudis stood against the idea of the division of Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon through ongoing political action and tremendous efforts.”
The Saudis were not dragged into the game of sectarian partisanship; they sought to defuse the conflict with Iran and did not add fuel to the fire of confrontation between Tehran and Washington. Moreover, the Saudis strived for the stability of Lebanon without a drop of blood.
This is the conduct of a balanced political system that is based upon an integrated state that seeks to achieve Arab unity and stability. More importantly, the conduct of the state does not use a discourse that is similar to the discourse of Farouk “al Sharakh”.

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December 17th, 2007, 3:37 am

 

25. why-discuss said:

Honest patriot

In my view, one of the reason that the Cairo accord are ignored is because it may stir sunni’s sensivity, i.e KSA allies in Lebanon and because this governement is arrogant, has no guts, no vision and no decency.
After Nahr El Bared painful victory, Sleimane complained bitterly that the heroic army did not get any official recognition of the sacrifices, there was no mass or islamic ceremony to thank the army. Why? Just because Sleimane had said that Syria had nothing to do with nahr El bared? Was he punished and the whole army with him?
Or this goverment did not want the army, seen as not enough anti-syrian, to eclipse it in the public opionin?. A very stupid and childish attitude from this governement, like many other actions.
The case of the Cairo accord?
The top priority of this governemnt has been to patch up as quickly as possible the country to be able to develop it economically, ironically like it was when the syrians were controlling the security. Saudi Arabia wants to invest in building appartments and hotels in Lebanon, we can’t wait and who cares about the Shia’s rights? The palestinians horrible and threatening situation in Lebanon? Le’s make money and all will be solved!
Its strategy with opposition forces has been to ignore and isolate them, similarly to the US strategy of isolating North Korea, Iran, Syria as a sign of power to have them bend their back. We know the results.
This governement is blinded by its narrow view of the country’s destiny. It’s high time it leaves its place to a more imaginative, strong, decent and courageous group.

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December 17th, 2007, 6:59 am

 

26. Observer said:

On how the US keeps its promises to its allies, read the NYT today
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/17/world/asia/17laos.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

One more point: Iraq is not a country but a collection of tribes and sects, Syria is not a country but a collection of sects and clans, Jordan is not a country but a family fiefdom, KSA is not a country but a family just as the Gulf monarchies and principalities and Sultanates are not Nation States per se. The next 50 years will see the dissolution of the post colonial boundaries and the disappearnce of so called countries that have been kept together by the Cold War on the one hand and the sclerosis of the political class on the other.
Globalization and Jihadism will destroy these entities slowly and inexorably.
The reality is that the only new force and idea is the Iranian revolution of 1979 and this comes as the second most profound shock to the system after the creation of the Zionist enterprise in 1948. Although very different both have destroyed the status quo of the region. Now pile on this the dissolution of the Ottoman empire and the most recent events ushered in by 9/11 to help you understand the futility of these entities.
I look upon the work of the EU as it forges a boundary-less continent where war has been banished, prosperity and progress institutionalized, education standardized, and regional exceptionalism accepted without threatening the Union and at the same lament the situation in the ME region: KSA is building a $ 7 billion fence with Iraq, Lebanon wants diplomatic relations with Syria, education systems drifting apart, corruption at the core of daily life, crumbling infrastructure, and pølitical elites entrenched in pre modern times. Sunni clerics splitting hairs of male female encounters, flesh showing dress, and leaders’ pictures to scare your children at bedtime at every corner. To each his Middle Ages.

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December 17th, 2007, 6:24 pm

 

27. GG said:

Josh,

Still no elections! What does your source say? My observation is that it doesn’t look as though there’ll be an election any time soon, and the longer it drags on the less likely General Michel Suleiman will be elected.

I’m disappointed to see that you don’t edit some of the twaddle that appears as “informed comment.” One of your commentators wrote: “You give Aoun too much credit by calling him an “enigma”. He’s so transparent, Hizballah/Syria figured him out a long time ago and have been using him like a cheap tool since 2005.”

What’s this about and was the writer sucking on the old happy pipe while his fingers typed this message. Here’s a better quote:

“The US committed its worst crime by dealing with Syria at Lebanon’s expense.” (MP Atef Majdalani in Al Anba’). The most appropriate description of how Lebanon’s self-styled M14 have been treated by the US would be GANG RAPE, but as they’re being paid to be repeatedly raped it’s unfair to accuse the US of this crime. They are willing victims and have text book characteristics that makes them the perfect target for rape: greed, lack of morals, lack of dignity, dishonest, treacherous, hubris, etc, etc.

At least Aoun has principles which he’s stood by.

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December 17th, 2007, 6:55 pm

 

28. Akbar Palace said:

Observer,

Thank you for the articles about the “chosen people”. I think more people would care about Gaza if Gazans recognized Israel and negotiated with the “chosen people”. Certainly, it is difficult to garner world support and sympathy when a “starving” people find it more important to demostrate “Death to the Chosen People” and launch Qassams instead of, say, feeding their own children.

Just MHO.

Observer, I also want to thank you for copying a pasting the following explaination of why the Nazis killed so many Jews. It was always a question I had, but could never really answer:

tellurider December 15th, 2007 12:59 pm

Do you think that maybe, during and after World War I, the jews did something that really pissed off the German people?
Remember there was all that depression/inflation in Germany. The Germans were kinda fucked.

Now we know why Germany decided to kill millions of Jews as well as kill several million Europeans and Russians. It’s all becasue the poor Germans lost soooo much money during a depression that, somehow, didn’t affect the Jews. That explains it! Losing money makes people homicidal*!

I’m sure it has nothing to do with Nazi government propaganda and indoctrination all backed-up with a brutal police state. No, because that would resemble so many current Arab dictatorships, and we know how peaceful they are!

*unless you’re a Jew, North American, African, Asian, South American, Latino, or any other human being

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December 17th, 2007, 8:33 pm

 

29. Kamal said:

GG,

That was a sick quote, produced and reproduced by a sick mind.

It’s just the type of analogy Ausamaa would think up.

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December 18th, 2007, 3:38 am

 

30. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

No comment on the Saudi reaction to Sharaa’s speech?
What does it mean for the summit in March and the situation in Lebanon?

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December 18th, 2007, 4:58 am

 

31. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Interesting opportunity for Syria:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/935472.html

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December 18th, 2007, 5:23 am

 

32. GG said:

Kamal,

“That was a sick quote…” I’m glad you appreciate the degradation of M14. And it doesn’t matter how much you or the author of the quote deny it, the fact of the matter is that the paper in which it was published stands by it, and if its wrong (which only the liar who said it claims it is) he should sue.

Another fact: M14 are a gathering of thieves, murderers and corrupt pseudo-politicians who worshipped at the alter of Syria for 15 years, but then decided to jump ship and dawn the dress of patriots. The very fact that whatever “informed” comment / analysis you wish to communicate does not begin with an acceptance of this fundamental truth discredits your post. In other word you’ve already shot yourself in the foot before you even touch your keyboard.

Finally, one last point (and watch out for this one because it’s the knockout blow) my point, which is that M14 are no more Lebanese patriots than Bashar Asad, can easily be proven while yours can’t. And please don’t even try to tread the path of “Aoun is a Syrian / Iranian / Hizballah tool” because you just embarrass yourself. History in the 21st century, my friend, is on video cassettes, CDs, voice cassettes, hard photographs and the internet. You’re foolish if you think you can write your twaddle and no one will find you out.

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December 18th, 2007, 10:08 am

 

33. Qifa Nabki said:

Who in Lebanon had a choice but to “worship at the alter [sic] of Syria for 15 years?”

Worshipping at altars is usually a sign of highly affected adulation. Do you imagine that anyone actually enjoyed doing it?

Aoun, whether he likes it or not (or you, for that matter), has been co-opted. Why else would he still be alive in Lebanon? Oh, I forgot, the Zionists, Americans, or “al-Qa’ida” militants who have been carrying out all of these assassinations have no reason to get rid of the single obstacle to a M14 victory in Lebanon. Right…

Save it for whoever buys your “twaddle”…

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December 18th, 2007, 2:28 pm

 

34. norman said:

Hariri does not seem to get it ,

Lebanon’s Hariri blames stalemate on Syria

Reuters
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
BEIRUT: The leader of Lebanon’s governing coalition has accused Syria of seeking to drag out the political limbo surrounding the election of a new president.

Saad al-Hariri told Tuesday’s al-Nahar newspaper: “What happened in parliament proves that Syria is still trying to prolong the vacuum in the Lebanese presidency.”

The presidency has been vacant since November 23 when the term of pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud ended — the first such hiatus since the 1975-90 civil war.

The presidential election in parliament was postponed for a ninth time on Monday, even though the anti-Syrian governing coalition and its Damascus-backed opponents have agreed on army chief General Michel Suleiman as the next president.

They are at odds over how to share power once Suleiman is elected and also over how to amend the constitution to allow a senior public servant to become president.

The new cabinet will be formed after the new head of state is elected. But the opposition, led by Hezbollah, wants guarantees it will have at least a third plus one of the seats in the government before it will attend the presidential election. There can be no quorum for the vote without a deal.

Hariri, a governing coalition heavyweight, said he supported a formula whereby the new president would have a decisive say in government decisions by allocating him seats in cabinet.

“Our position is commitment to the president having the balancing vote in cabinet,” Hariri told al-Nahar.

The opposition should not have the seats needed for it to veto government decisions and the governing coalition should not have the two-thirds required to impose its will, he said.

Suleiman was appointed army chief in 1998 when Syria controlled Lebanon. He has good ties with Hezbollah.

(Reporting by Tom Perry, Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

——————————————————————————–
Notes:

——————————————————————————–
Copyright © 2007 The International Herald Tribune | http://www.iht.com

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December 18th, 2007, 4:16 pm

 

35. GG said:

Qifa Nabki

You made a statement; now prove it! As I said, history in the 21st century is on video cassettes, CDs, voice cassettes, hard photographs and the internet; so you should have no problem backing-up what you wrote, which can only be described as emotional.

I think you’ll find that Rafic Hariri had little or no qualms about worshiping Syria:

“In return for helping high-ranking Syrian officials in charge of Lebanon grow fabulously rich (most notably Maj. Gen. Ghazi Kanaan, the commander of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon; Vice-president Abdul Halim Khaddam; and Army Chief of Staff Hikmat Shihabi), Hariri gained enormous influence within the Syrian regime itself (which is largely why Assad found it necessary to remove him from office for two years while paving the way for his son’s ascension). However, he never aspired to lead Lebanon out of Syria’s orbit so much as to gain influence within it, even after being forced to share power with his archrival, President Emile Lahoud.” (Lemons from Lemonade: Washington and Lebanon after the Syrian Withdrawal, Gary Gambill, Middle East Monitor http://www.mideastmonitor.org/issues/0705/0705_1.htm)

There’s more, but I don’t have the time to educate you. To paraphrase the editor of Lebanon’s Daily Star (a deeply anti-Aoun newspaper), it’s ludicrous to claim that Aoun is connected with Syria, directly or indirectly, even if some of his allies are (just like all M14 were and many still are: recall Amine Gemayel’s contact with Syria prior to the Matn by-election, revealed by Wiam Wahhab in an interview in Al-Manar and not denied).

One last point, if you choose to use sarcasm when describing Syria’s involvement with the murders in Lebanon, then use in it effectively because you come across as extremely simple minded in trying to portray Aoun as a lackey. I would say that you join the “Jews killed Christ” gang with such nonsense.

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December 18th, 2007, 5:33 pm

 

36. Alex said:

ORANGEBURG, South Carolina (CNN) – Former President Bill Clinton said Monday that the first thing his wife Hillary will do when she reaches the White House is dispatch him and his predecessor, President George H.W. Bush, on an around-the-world mission to repair the damage done to America’s reputation by the current president — Bush’s son, George W. Bush.

“Well, the first thing she intends to do, because you can do this without passing a bill, the first thing she intends to do is to send me and former President Bush and a number of other people around the world to tell them that America is open for business and cooperation again,” Clinton said in response to a question from a supporter about what his wife’s “number one priority” would be as president.

A spokesman for the George H.W. Bush was not immediately available to comment on whether the former president would chip in some diplomatic help after his son leaves office next year.

Clinton and the elder Bush, rivals in the 1992 presidential election, have grown chummy in recent years, often traveling and appearing at public events together. In 2005, they started a charity to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

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December 18th, 2007, 5:52 pm

 

37. Qifa Nabki said:

GG

What is your point, exactly?

Wading through your anti-M14 diatribes is tiresome.

It’s difficult to extrapolate any positive assertion from any of your posts besides: “Aoun = Messiah”.

Is there anything else you’d deign “to educate” us on?

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December 18th, 2007, 6:45 pm

 

38. Seeking the Truth said:

Would the Lebanese politicians be able to solve their differences by themselves, and agree on a new president and a working government, if there is no interference from the outside?! The above arguments might give a hint.

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December 18th, 2007, 8:26 pm

 

39. t_desco said:

Lebanon charges al Qaeda cell in church bomb plot

Lebanese judicial authorities charged 31 al Qaeda-linked individuals on Tuesday for plotting to attack a church and other religious sites in the Christian town of Zahleh in the eastern Bekaa Valley.

Judicial sources said the suspects were also charged with possessing illegal weapons including rockets and forging documents. Death sentences were recommended for 14 of them.

Eighteen of the suspects, who include Lebanese, Syrians and a Saudi, were arrested over the past few months and judiciary sources said the group was led by a Saudi and a Syrian in Lebanon. There were 13 on the run, including al Qaeda leader in Syria, Salahuddin Mohammad Saleh, also known as Abu Ahmad.

The group was part of what security forces described as an al Qaeda cell in the Bar Elias village, just west of the border with Syria in the Bekaa Valley, which was preparing for car bomb attacks in Lebanon.

Most of the suspects were arrested while the Lebanese army was fighting al Qaeda-inspired militants in a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon earlier this year.
Reuters

Lebanese Military Judge Indicts 31 On Terrorism Charges

A Lebanese military judge Tuesday indicted 31 Al-Qaeda-linked suspects, including a Saudi national and four Syrians, on charges of plotting to carry out terror attacks in the country, officials said.

Judge Rashid Mezher charged the so-called “Bar Elias terror network” of ” plotting to carry out terrorist operations” in the eastern Christian city of Zahle, the state-run National News Agency reported.

It quoted the charge sheet as saying that as part of their plans the suspects were preparing to “fire rockets on Zahle.”

The charge sheet identified the plot’s mastermind as Saudi national Fahd Abdelaziz al-Ghames and said that the group, including four Syrian nationals, a Palestinian as well as a number of Lebanese, “is linked to Al-Qaeda.”

Most of them, including Ghames, have been arrested in various sweeps since June.

The National News Agency did not give further details nor did it say when a trial would start.

In June, Lebanese security forces dismantled bombs in three booby-trapped cars in the eastern village of Bar Elias, near Zahle, following confessions by two Syrians, an Iraqi and a Palestinian who were arrested for possessing weapons.
AFP

Who would have been blamed for the attack, I wonder…?

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December 18th, 2007, 8:50 pm

 

40. Honest Patriot said:

GG:

You said to Qifa-Nabki: “You made a statement; now prove it”
And then you said: “[by choosing] to use sarcasm when describing Syria’s involvement with the murders in Lebanon, […] you come across as extremely simple minded”

I say to you:
1- Your request to “prove it” is just like the Taliban wanting “proof” that Osama Bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks.
2- While using sarcasm, Qifa-Nabki was making an extremely valid and legitimate, logical, point clearly pointing to the pattern guiding the criminals responsible for the assassinations in Lebanon, a pattern that spares anyone who supports them. There was powerful logic and profound truth in this, which, alas, you fail to understand in your hollow infatuation and complete gullibility of the babblings that Aoun keeps barking. Aoun is NOT a statesman. At best he is selfish and naive. At worst he is evil in his stubborn pursuit of personal glory.

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December 18th, 2007, 9:08 pm

 

41. t_desco said:

The problem of possible inaccuracies in reports

Just two examples from today:

1. “The group was led by a Saudi national called Abu Ahmed, the sources said.”
(“Lebanon charges al-Qaeda cell in church bomb”, DPA)

This seems to clash with the reports quoted above. Is “Abu Ahmad” “Salahuddin Mohammad Saleh” and what is his nationality?

2. “Three other suspects, Khalid al-Hajj Dib, 20, Ayman Hawwa, 23, and Khalil Boubou, 24, were freed by the Beirut court.”
(“German “suitcase bombers” get stiff sentences in Beirut “, DPA)

The three were acquitted, but were they “freed”, in particular Khalil al-Boubou?

The background

As AFP reported in April: “Bubu … is also facing another trial for links in a bomb attack on a Lebanese army barracks in Beirut last year,”
(“Lebanese go on trial for German bomb plot”, AFP, Guld Times, 12 April, 2007)

Again DPA seems to contradict this:

“Al-Bobo was arrested and jailed in Lebanon for throwing a bomb at a Lebanese Army checkpoint in the north of the country last year.”
(“Verdict on Lebanese suspect in German train bombing on December 18”, DPA, Dec 11, 2007)

However, the article is not without merits, confirming the link between Khalil al-Boubou, Saddam al-Haj Dib and Osama al-Shahabi:

“Al-Bobo also denied having any connection with the German bombing plot, but said he met Saddam al-Haj Dib, brother of Youssef al Haj Dib, through a common friend called Osama al-Shahabi, who was responsible for sending Muslims to fight in Iraq.

‘At the time, I was impressed with the way al-Haj Dib thinks – his jihadist thinking – and we exchanged telephone numbers,’ al-Bobo told the judge.”
(DPA, Dec 11, 2007)

According to a report by Ulrike Putz (Spiegel), Khalil al-Boubou’s telephone number was found inside one of the suitcases containing bombs that were planted on German trains but failed to explode; he also took part in the Danish consulate riots in Beirut
 and is accused of attempted murder of a Lebanese soldier (“Nach neun Minuten klickten wieder die Handschellen”, Der Spiegel, 11. April 2007).

One soldier was wounded in the Beirut barracks attack. The trial is still underway (Al-Mustaqbal, Dec 8, 2007)

The attack was possibly connected to al-Qa’ida as I explained back in October:

“After the attack on the barracks, a caller to the newspaper Al-Balad claimed responsibilty for it in the name of al-Qa’ida. He demanded the release of the mother and the fiancé of Badieh Hamadeh and he said that the attack was in retaliation for the arrest of the now famous “cell of 13″, linked to Khaled Taha and Ahmed Abu Adass. The call was traced back to a phone booth in Ain al-Hilweh.”

“Now As-Safir reports that al-Boubou had visited the mother of the fiancé of Badieh Hamadeh in prison.”

“Badieh Hamdeh was linked to Ahmed Miqati. Hamadeh could even be the “Abu Obeida” of the first Mehlis report, though it seems more likely that those reports were referring to Jihad Mustapha, also called Abu Obeida. In any case, both were linked to the Dinniyeh group.

Khalil al-Boubou told the court that he “met Saddam al-Haj Dib”, the brother of one of the train bombers, “through a common friend”, Osama Amin al-Shihabi who was also a member of the Dinniyeh group who fled to Ain al-Hilweh (like Ahmed Miqati).

Saddam al-Haj Dib was a leader in Fatah al-Islam who was killed in the initial battle with the Lebanese army in Tripoli.”
(SC, October 12th, 2007)

If the reports are all true, al-Boubou would link the Dinniyeh group, Fatah al-Islam, al-Qa’ida, the Danish consulate riots and (at least indirectly) even the German train bombs.

If that is not enough reason to be more accurate…

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December 19th, 2007, 1:11 am

 

42. Nur al-Cubicle said:

Fear al-Bobo!

Oh my, that’s the funniest nom de guerre since Commander Zero!

In the meantime, David Welch ordered Nabih Berry to “assume his responsibilities”. To which Berry replied that he is aware of and has assumed those responsibilities and that, in so many words, Welch doesn’t appear to know the difference between those who take orders from him and those who might be willing to hear what the ambassador has to say.

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December 19th, 2007, 2:34 am

 

43. SyriaComment - Syrian politics, history, and religion » Archives » Lebanon and the Art of Kabuki Theater said:

[…] T_desco writes; "If the reports are all true, al-Boubou would link the Dinniyeh group, Fatah al-Islam, al-Qa’ida, the Danish consulate riots and (at least indirectly) even the German train bombs." […]

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December 19th, 2007, 4:30 am

 

44. GG said:

Ok, I give up, which one of you two is the straight man in this double act.

My personal opinion of Michel Aoun is utterly irrelevant to this debate because at a minimum my stance is rational. But are you two trying to convince your readers that M14, made up of Samir Geagea (a convicted criminal), Fouad Saniora (Lebanon’s longest serving finance minister, throughout Syria’s 15 years occupation, and corrupt), Walid Jumblatt (politically unstable), Saad Hariri (a Saudi Arabian citizen, who’s spent more time out of Lebanon than in), to name just the front row in this circus, genuinely have Lebanon’s interest at heart??

Please, please don’t talk about Hizbullah, Aoun and foreign interference, when Welch, Abrams, Rice, Kouchner, etc. have polluted the skies over Lebanon just to give instructions (and I do mean instructions) to these clowns. You pair suffer from a severe case of hypocrisy and thus lack credibility.

And if you’re so confident of the righteousness of M14, you should support the call for early elections and crush Aoun and Hizballah once and for all. The odds are stacked in M14’s favour: they have the backing of the US and France; they control when and how ballots are cast; and Hariri has more than enough money to buy votes. Indeed, in Aoun’s case, Geagea saw the Matn by-election as a dry run for future elections and insisted that Aoun lost his Maronite base. So for crying out, Qifa Nabki, live up to your name; stop bitching about the opposition and throwing baseless accusations about; and push for them to be electorally crushed with the overwhelming support you feel M14 has. Otherwise stop posting because your comments aren’t even funny anymore, but just tiresome. For God’s sake M14 barely got a majority in the first round and they were riding on the sympathy vote.

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December 19th, 2007, 10:43 pm

 

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