Posted by Joshua on Sunday, April 6th, 2008
Suleiman, Lebanese Army chief, says he wants to resign from his post in August
Insists Lebanese are 'fed up' with political impasse, Daily Star
The commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, General Michel Suleiman, announced in remarks published Thursday that he would leave his post in August and warned feuding political factions that he would bow out of the presidential race if his election as a compromise candidate is not secured by then.
In the interview Thursday in As-Safir daily, which is close to the opposition, Suleiman said he had had enough of the continued "polarization" between the opposing sides and that he felt his dignity was hurt over the ongoing bickering.
"Every time we take one step forward we find ourselves facing another series of steps that need to be taken before electing a president," he said.
"This leaves us with a mountain of contradictory conditions that must be met if a new president is to be elected. "If one side nominates me the other side protests. If one country supports my candidacy another opposes it," he added.
Suleiman said he would not wait until the last day of his military service on November 21 to retire. Instead, he has decided he would quit as army chief on August 21, three months before retirement, by taking accumulated vacation days, As-Safir said.
The paper described the decision as "a highly explosive political bomb" that could also scuttle an Arab foreign ministers plan adopted in Egypt in January to solve the Lebanese crisis. The plan calls for the election of Suleiman as a consensus president, formation of a national unity government and the adoption of a new electoral law. Suleiman said he would "hold all [factions] responsible and make them understand that the continuation of the current situation will lead to a daily exhaustion of the army and also the exhaustion of the Lebanese who are fed up with politics and politicians."
Israel, U.S. plan to release details on Syria attack Haaretz
By Barak Ravid and Amos Harel
American officials may reveal details of the strike later this month during congressional hearings. Even though the defense establishment in Israel is opposed to any publication of details of the attack, the Prime Minister's Bureau and U.S. President George W. Bush's administration are of the opinion that it is now possible to reveal details because there is little chance of a conflagration as a result of a Syrian decision to avenge the attack.
Details of the attack are likely to be revealed by senior Bush administration officials during hearings before Congress. …
According to the American assessments, the revelations about the attack will also bolster its hand in negotiations with North Korea on dismantling its nuclear arms. …
In political circles it is now commonly accepted that the release of details of the attack may help bolster the public image of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert…..
Congressmen have included in the bill on the intelligence budget that American intelligence agencies will not be given large portions of their budget unless they reveal in full the details of the strike in Syria and the nuclear cooperation between Pyongyang and Damascus.
This has led U.S. and Israeli officials to conclude that American officials will release details of the strike during the hearings.
Talks between the U.S. and North Korea are schedule to resume tomorrow in Singapore. One of the American conditions for lifting the sanctions on Pyongyang is for it to expose its nuclear collaboration with other countries, which North Korea maintains does not exist….
Interesting article on Iranian bloggers in the NYTimes. Much the same holds true for Syria
….“Arguing about stuff, arguing about public affairs, is taking root in the blogosphere on the conservative side, on the reformist side, all over,” said John Kelly, the founder of Morningside Analytics, a New York company that took part in the study and created the software that helped researchers group blogs together by subject and social networks.
“We don’t know if the government is not trying or not able to block as much as we thought,” …. Bloggers are not permitted to criticize the Islamic system itself, Ms. Kar said, but they are far freer than writers for newspapers or other news media.
“These Web logs are very effective,” she said. “They create conversation. Not just about elections or democracy, but about cinema, theater, arts, literature. These fields are very important for changing that society.”
Here is the Harvard Study, on which the article is based.
In Senate hearing on Wednesday about the future of Iraq, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) asked Nir Rosenof the NYU Center on Law and Security what advice he would have for theU.S. going forward in Iraq, given Rosen’s extensive first-handexperience in the country. Rosen declined to respond, saying he felt“uncomfortable” giving advice to an “imperialist power”:
BIDEN: Based on what you’ve said, there’s really no hope— we really should get the hell out of there right now. I mean, there’snothing to do. Nothing.
ROSEN: As a journalist, I’m uncomfortable advising an imperialist power about how to be a more efficient imperialist power. And I don’t think that we’re there for the interest of the Iraqi people. I don’t think that’s ever been a motivation. […]
BIDEN: [If we withdraw], the good news is we wouldn’t be imperialists in Iraq, from your perspective.
ROSEN: Only elsewhere in the region. (laughter). … There’s no positive scenario in Iraq these days. Not every situation has a solution.
Christian Priest Killed at Baghdad Home
By STEPHEN FARRELL in NYTimes
BAGHDAD — A Christian priest was shot dead outside his home in Baghdad on Saturday by attackers who used a pistol with a silencer, witnesses said. His wife, they said, who stood near him, did not realize he had been shot until well after he had fallen.
The priest, Faiz Abdel, who was known as Father Youssef, was the second senior Syrian Orthodox priest to be killed this year. And since the 2003 invasion, church officials say, about 40 percent of the denomination, the country’s second-largest Christian group, have fled their homes.
“I had to move out of my house in Dora a year and a half ago because I received two letters threatening to kill my son,” said Abu Noor, 59. “I paid them $900, and nothing happened.”
“All educated people are targeted,” he said. “It is the fault of the Americans.
“When they discharged the army, everything was lost,” he continued, referring to the decision by the American occupation authority to dismiss the entire Iraqi Army in 2003. “These people had no work and no money to live, so of course they will go into gangs. And a weak government with no police detectives, how can they manage?”
The invasion had caused only harm for Iraq’s Christians, he said.
“I heartily believe that we were living better under the old regime. No one could threaten the Christians then.”
Father Youssef’s murder follows the death of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, the leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Mosul,
By ELI LAKE
Staff Reporter of the Sun
April 4, 2008
WASHINGTON — A key adviser to Senator Obama's campaign is recommending in a confidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.
The paper, obtained by The New York Sun, was written by Colin Kahl for the center-left Center for a New American Security. In "Stay on Success: A Policy of Conditional Engagement," Mr. Kahl writes that through negotiations with the Iraqi government "the U.S. should aim to transition to a sustainable over-watch posture (of perhaps 60,000–80,000 forces) by the end of 2010 (although the specific timelines should be the byproduct of negotiations and conditions on the ground)."
Mr. Kahl is the day-to-day coordinator of the Obama campaign's working group on Iraq. A shorter and less detailed version of this paper appeared on the center's Web site as a policy brief.
Both Mr. Kahl and a senior Obama campaign adviser reached yesterday said the paper does not represent the campaign's Iraq position. Nonetheless, the paper could provide clues as to the ultimate size of the residual American force the candidate has said would remain in Iraq after the withdrawal of combat brigades. The campaign has not publicly discussed the size of such a force in the past.
Al-Hayat (London): Messages of calm between Israel and Syria; warnings against repercussions of attacks
– Israel and Syria exchanged messages of calm, accompanied by mutual warnings against launching an attack, following reports of preparations by both sides for an imminent war. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem insisted that peace was his country's strategic choice but "we should be awake to any Israeli aggression." Israel's army officials said it was not in anyone's interests to have a military confrontation, but warned that "our response will be harsh and painful" if attacked.
Al-Qabas (Kuwait): Zawahiri: Al-Qaida will fight Israel after victory in Iraq
– Al-Qaida's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri said in response to questions on an Islamic Web site that Osama bin Laden was in good health and said rumors saying otherwise were lies. He condemned the United Nations and vowed to "attack the Jews inside and outside Israel" after achieving "victory in Iraq."
Al-Arab al-Yawm (Jordan): Kuwaiti mediation to solve Syrian-Saudi crisis
– Kuwaiti reports said the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, will visit Riyadh on Saturday to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Syria to ease tensions over the Lebanese crisis. Sources said the emir, who attended the Arab summit boycotted by the Saudi monarch, will deliver to King Abdullah a Syrian message that is hoped would defuse tensions between them.
The NY Review of Books has an interesting article on the memoir of conversations with a leading reformist Chinese official who was placed under house arrest following the Tienman Square protests. His remarks about free market reforms without major political liberalization are interesting for Syria. Unfortunately, the artile is onlyl available by subscription.
Perry Link, He Would Have Changed China
Zhao Ziyang: Ruanjinzhong de tanhua (Captive Conversations) by Zong Fengming