Posted by Joshua on Friday, June 19th, 2009
(Naharnet) ….Regarding elections, Nasrallah said the opposition’s goal was to obtain a parliamentary majority “in order to carry out reform plans.”
“This, however, has not been achieved,” he acknowledged.
“I will not conceal that we were looking forward to winning the elections because winning meant confronting major challenges,” he added.
“However, we dealt realistically with election results. We were not shaken because we are still where we were, and nothing has changed as far as we are concerned.
He said he will continue to maintain the atmosphere of calm.
Nasrallah said elections took place under U.S., Western and Arab “intimidation in an effort to impose their options that may not coincide with the will of the Lebanese.”
“The opposition did not lose its status, but has stood fast in the face of a true global war: lies, money and America.
Nasrallah stressed that the opposition enjoys a “popular majority,” while the parliamentary majority is a “reality under the electoral system.”
He interrupted himself to tell the pro-government parliamentary majority jokingly: “I advise March 14 (forces) not to interfere in the Iranian elections because this is an issue that they don’t understand.”
Turning to the issue of vote-buying, Nasrallah said: “There is no equality of opportunity between the loyalists and the opposition regarding the issue of brining in expatriates, particularly with regards to money.”
“We will follow up on election violations through the law and will not resort to street” protests,” he said……
“…. The March 14 victory is a setback for Hizbullah which had hoped that an opposition win would provide a protective seal around its military wing. Contrary to scare-mongering rhetoric from some Israeli and Western officials, Hizbullah had no desire or interest in assuming control of the state if the opposition had triumphed.
Hizbullah’s history of participation in Lebanese constitutional politics has always been one of necessity rather than ambition. …..Protecting its weapons, not running the Lebanese state, remains Hizbullah’s principal motivation for political participation. If the opposition had won, Hizbullah probably would have preferred to fade into the background, leaving its allies to helm the government on a daily basis.
The party has invested enormous effort and expense in rebuilding and honing its military capabilities since the 2006 war with Israel. The level of recruitment, training and rearming is unprecedented in its 27-year history….
The dilemma facing Hizbullah is that without the one-third blocking share, it is vulnerable to fresh attempts to disarm its military wing. …. what action is Hizbullah – the most powerful political and military entity in the country – prepared to take to persuade March 14 to back down and re-offer the blocking share?
Much depends on the wisdom of March 14. If its leaders feel emboldened by its electoral mandate and continued US and Saudi support to begin maneuvering to weaken Hizbullah’s hold over its weapons, it surely will provoke a fresh crisis.
Key Iran Adviser Gains Obama’s Ear (Ross kicked Up Stairs)
By JAY SOLOMON in WSJ
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, facing a mounting political crisis in Iran, is increasingly relying on the counsel of a career diplomat who has been a staunch supporter of tough measures to curtail Tehran’s nuclear program.
The emergence of Middle East specialist Dennis Ross as a presidential confidant is being scrutinized in Washington for its potential impact on Mr. Obama’s approach to Tehran, as the nuclear issue and electoral crisis play out.
Mr. Obama has committed himself to direct talks with Tehran, but has said the U.S. should keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. He also has said the Iranian regime can be expected to be hostile to the U.S., regardless of who is declared president.
Mr. Ross is about to move to the White House from the State Department, where he served as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s point man on Iran. In his writings and speeches, he has argued for a direct U.S. outreach to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, something White House officials say they have considered.
Mr. Ross has also argued for crippling sanctions, and potentially military action, if Tehran doesn’t come to the negotiating table over the nuclear program, which the U.S. says is intended to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies. Mr. Ross didn’t respond to requests to comment for this article.
The White House says his move there will strengthen the National Security Council and is an indication of the pre-eminence Mr. Obama is placing on the Iran issue. Two administration officials said Mr. Ross would maintain his role overseeing Iran policy while also providing Mr. Obama with advice on broader Mideast issues…..
Former U.S. officials who have worked with Mr. Ross said he could prove to be an effective ally of Mr. Obama’s in managing Washington’s prickly relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Ross developed close ties to Israel’s leadership during more than a decade of work aimed at forging an Arab-Israeli peace agreement.
An Obama administration official said the president developed a personal relationship with Mr. Ross during last year’s presidential campaign, and wanted him at the White House. The official said Mr. Ross’s move is the latest in a series of hires that have brought key officials into the executive office, from health policy to energy.
Mr. Ross was a latecomer to Mr. Obama’s campaign, but helped write a number of Mr. Obama’s key foreign policy speeches, said Obama campaign staff, and worked to galvanize a Jewish-American community that was skeptical of the candidate’s pro-Israel credentials.
“…Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday reiterated the Jewish state’s refusal to freeze settlements. The Israelis say they received commitments from the Bush administration permitting some growth in existing settlements. …………..”In looking at the history of the Bush administration, there were no informal or oral enforceable agreements,” she (Clinton) said ..”
When an Israeli journalist asked how the Obama administration could envision a peace deal with the Netanyahu government placing so many conditions, Clinton suggested the government could change its stance.
She said previous prime ministers “have staked out positions that have changed over time.”
Mitchell, the special envoy for Middle East peace, is to travel on June 25 to Paris for talks with Netanyahu in the wake of the Israeli premier’s speech, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip Crowley said.
Jumblat-Nasrallah Meeting Soon, Damascus at Ease
Progressive Socialist Party leader has unveiled that he will meet with Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah soon and called for cooperation with Syria on a state-to-state basis.
The meeting “could be held this week or after the election of (Nabih) Berri as speaker. We can say that preparations got underway,” Jumblat told al-Jazeera satellite TV network Wednesday night.
Jumblat reiterated his call for “a government of national unity to face Israeli challenges.”
Lebanon is still under Israeli threat, he told al-Jazeera, adding that Lebanon has rejected an American proposal for an alliance between moderate Arabs and the Jewish state to face Iran.
On Damascus, Jumblat said: “Hostility with Syria cannot go on. We have to implement the Taef (accord), forget any hatred and grudge and cooperate with Syria on a state-to-state basis.”
Israel’s Crimes, America’s Silence
By John Dugard, June 17, 2009, The Nation
…On May 7 the Arab League published the 254-page report of an Independent Fact Finding Committee (IFFC) it had established to examine the legal implications of Israel’s Gaza offensive. This committee, comprising six experts in international law, criminal law and forensic medicine from non-Arab countries, visited Gaza in February. We concluded that the IDF had committed serious war crimes and crimes against humanity.
As the committee’s chairman, I spent five days in Gaza along with the other experts. Our views were deeply influenced by interviews we conducted with victims and by the evidence of destruction of property. We were particularly disturbed by the accounts of cold-blooded killings of civilians committed by some members of the IDF and the Israeli military’s use of white phosphorus in densely populated areas. The devastation was appalling and raised profound doubts in my mind as to the veracity of Israeli officials who claimed this was not a war against the Palestinian people.
The IFFC found that the IDF, in killing some 1,400 Palestinians (at least 850 of whom were civilians), wounding over 5,000 and destroying over 3,000 homes and other buildings, had failed to discriminate between civilian and military targets, terrorized civilians, destroyed property in a wanton manner not justified by military necessity and attacked hospitals and ambulances. It also found that the systematic and widespread killing, injuring and terrorizing of the civilian population of Gaza constituted a crime against humanity. ….
* John Dugard is a professor of law, a former UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and the chairman of the Independent Fact Finding Committee on Gaza
….Israeli ambassador Israel Michaeli accused ElBaradei during a debate on Syria at a meeting of the IAEA’s 35-member board, urging him “to avoid political bias in dealing with Syria’s nuclear file.”
The IAEA chief was angered by Michaeli’s remarks, according to the diplomat and said Israel’s position was “totally distorted.” “We’re not behaving selectively but across the board. We’re implementing the
international law. When Israel bombed what was claimed to be a nuclear facility, it was not only hampering our work, but it was a clear violation of international law,” ElBaradei said.
“You, sir, your action is deplored [sic] by not allowing us to do what we’re supposed to do under international law,” the IAEA chief said.
“You’re not even a member of the regime to tell us what to do,” ElBaradei said, referring to Israel’s refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. “We would appreciate it if you stopped preaching to us.” Syria was the main focus of debate on the fourth day of the IAEA meeting. The U.S. accused Syria of obstructing the IAEA’s probe.
“… Dr. ElBaradei, whose term of office is to expire in November, said in the interview that countries in possession of nuclear weapons were treated differently from others, citing the example of North Korea, which was invited to negotiations while Iraq under Saddam Hussein — which did not have a nuclear capacity — was “pulverized.”
“It is my gut feeling that Iran would like to have the technology to enable it to have nuclear weapons …. They want to send a message to their neighbors, to the rest of the world, ‘Don’t mess with us,’ …..“ultimate aim to be “recognized as a major power in the Middle East.”
Nuclear weapons technology, he said, was “the road to get that recognition, to get that power and prestige. “It is also an insurance policy against what they have heard in the past about regime change.”…. administration officials in Washington have said it is not clear that Mr. Moussavi would be any more flexible about Iran’s nuclear ambitions than Mr. Ahmadinejad has been.”