News Round Up (12 May 2007)

Jay Solomon of the WSJ writes:

A U.N. Security Council vote on establishing an international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is expected as early as May 29.

The U.S., France and U.K. are initiating discussions inside the Security Council on the resolution Thursday, according to U.S. diplomats, and the actual vote is expected next Tuesday. Permanent Security Council members China and Russia, and non-permanent members South Africa and Qatar, are among the countries that might oppose the Hariri court, according to U.S. and Lebanese officials. Many Lebanese fear even more violence could engulf Lebanon should the tribunal move forward.

French FM says Hariri tribunal will happen, Date : May 24, 2007

France said on Thursday that the international community was determined to set up an international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, on his first trip abroad since being appointed less than a week ago, told a Beirut news conference "France and the international community are determined to establish the tribunal to try the assassins."

What is the case for a Syrian connection to Fath al-Islam?

Paul Salem says: "A lot of it is conjecture, but the timing is kind of suggestive," Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, said of the events this week and the accusations that ensued.

"It's worrisome that in pretty much 48 hours, we went to basically a war and two bombs," Salem said in a telephone interview in Beirut, before Wednesday's blast.

White House spokesman Tony Snow charged Tuesday that Syria was trying, through the violence, to influence the Security Council's decision on a tribunal, as well as disrupt security in Lebanon.

What is the Case Against?

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem has denied that his country played any role. Syria's ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari, also saw a pattern in the violence, just as Lebanese do, but suggested that the culprits were Lebanon or its allies.

"This is not a coincidence," the Syrian ambassador said. "Some people are trying to influence the Security Council and to make pressure on the council so they can go ahead with the adoption of the draft resolution on the tribunal."

Sami Moubayed argues that Syria has nothing to do with Fath al-Islam: Lebanon battles a new demon

Read the "Friday Lunch Club" for more interesting articles.

One commentator writes:

Any analogy between the events in Nahr el-Bared camp & Hama?

Islamic extremists, innocent civilians caught in the middle, a military siege, etc. etc… The only difference: publicity. The US was praising the Lebanese military for the "tough battle" yesterday..

Just a quick reflection on the notion of good vs evil. Sounds like history repeats itself, with different names… Don't forget the battle of Falluja to destroy the insurgency, and the number of civilian casualties.

t_desco said: 

"The truly international character of the Fatah al-Islam membership is a good argument against it being a creation of (or receiving orders from) Syrian intelligence. Frankly, it looks more like al-Qa’ida proper: so far we have seen reports of its members being

– Algerians
– Tunisians
– Egyptians
– Sudanese
– Somalis
– Lebanese
– Syrians
– Palestinians
– Jordanians
– Saudis
– Yemenis
– Afghans
– Pakistanis
– Bangladeshis

Many interesting articles today, e.g.:

A Newsweek interview with Bernard Rougier (note that he is much more cautious in his assessments than the reporter) – Lebanon’s New War(s)

A good summary by Robert Fisk who poses interesting questions about the relationship between Fatah al-Islam and Jund al-Sham –

Robert Fisk: The road to Jerusalem (via Lebanon)

Fatah al-Islam has a direct organizational link to al-Qa’ida via Mohammad Ali Omar (Abu Hattab/Abu Azzam) and Abu Rushd al-Miqati, according to Hazim al-Amin:

Lebanon’s Fatah al-Islam leadership & organization

Beirut- According to the group’s leader is not Shaker al-Absi. Absi belongs in the second tier of the leadership… His role is to execute the orders of the top leadership.

The top Leadership of the organization or what is known as first tier is a group of 3 who are the following:

1-Mohammad Ali Omar known as Abu Hattab who heads the leadership group.

Abu Hattab was born in Syria but travels with a Lebanese passport . He lives in Tripoli and is well known in this city and some call him Abu Azzam . He is 30 + years old. He has reportedly lived in Afghanistan and Chechnya.

2- Marwan , who is a a Palestinian is the Financial chief of the group. He lives in the Ein Helwe Palestinian refugee camp and travels regularly to Baghdad , Iraq . Unconfirmed reports say he is also known as Abd Alkarim Alsaadi or Abu Muhjin and has known Abu Hattab for a long time .

According to reports , the US FBI had sent an investigating team to Lebanon in 2002 to investigate the relations between Abu Hattab , Abu Muhjin and Mohammad Atta , the leader of the September 11 bombing .

3- Mohammad H. who is a Syrian citizen is the coordinator . His role is to inform the 2nd tier leadership of the decisions made by the first tier leadership.

According to Alarabiya, Alqaida is no longer an organization, but it is an ideology . Hence Fatah al-Islam is not a member of al Qaida , but it is an alQaida type organization and its leadership is organized in the same way as al Qaida.

Al Qaida Cell in Lebanon has a leader whose name is Abu Rushd el Mikati ( no relationship with the Mikati family of Lebnaon ). Mikati travels regularly to Peshawar in Pakistan . He is Abu Hattab’s boss.

Most of the Fatah al-Islam militants have returned from Iraq via Syria.

All those that were killed or wounded by the Lebanese army are from the second tier of leadership of the organization. information came from an expert on Islamic extremists including al Qaida, Arab Journalist Hazim al Amin. Amin told Alarabiya, Fatah al-Islam is finished as a coherent organization, but he is concerned that once shattered this organization could become very dangerous in Lebanon and individual terrorists could do could do much harm to the country.

Ya Libnan, Al-Arabiya

The Middle East Monitor has a number of good articles. The first by Gary Gambill article by Moubayed are particularly interesting.

Hezbollah and the Political Ecology of Postwar Lebanon
Hezbollah's conflict with is Israel is fueled substantially by local political conditions in Lebanon.
Gary C. Gambill
Implications of the Israel-Hezbollah War
The mixed outcome of the recent Israel-Hezbollah war may prove to be a stable equilibrium.
Gary C. Gambill
Briefing: Lebanese Public Opinion
Four surveys offer revealing insights into Lebanese public opinion about Hezbollah, Israel, and the United States.

The Islamic Revival in Syria by Moubayed
In response to growing Islamist militancy in Syria, the Assad regime has incrementally abandoned the ruling Baath Party's longstanding secularizing mission and encouraged the growth of Islamist civil society loyal to the state.  

One the subject of the regime and Islam, also read Marc Perelman in the Forward: With Islamic Militancy Rising, Syria’s Baath Regime Finds Religion

Juliette Terzieff of the World Politics Review Exclusive puts Syria's recent arrests of political activists in context in "Whither the Damascus Spring? Syria Steps Up Crackdown on Reformers."."

I will be off-line for the next several days, while at the shore.

Comments (64)

Atassi said:

40 مليار دولار حجم ثروات عائلة الأسد

May 25th, 2007, 4:45 pm


G said:

It’s become a rather standard feature of this pathetic blog to see these kinds of idiotic relativisms, but this one really tops them:
Any analogy between the events in Nahr el-Bared camp & Hama?

Islamic extremists, innocent civilians caught in the middle, a military siege, etc. etc… The only difference: publicity. The US was praising the Lebanese military for the “tough battle” yesterday..

Just a quick reflection on the notion of good vs evil. Sounds like history repeats itself, with different names… Don’t forget the battle of Falluja to destroy the insurgency, and the number of civilian casualties.

Yes, there’s no difference between this and Hama. They are identical. Minus of course 20,000 butchered people, an entire town razed to the ground, left like that as a spectacle for all to witness, then rebuilt over the dead bodies.

Yes, it’s exactly the same.

What idiots.

May 25th, 2007, 5:15 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

why not,panarabism is not against any group, it includes all group,
ask the kurds in Damascus, did we treated them bad, it is a fact that they get married to the rest of the syrian families,hardly you see a family who did not have kurd relative, they can get any job in the goverment, they are not treated different.the reason that we call it panarabism,is that the language is arabic, you have to have one language,so people comunicate.
also what civilization the kurds ever had?and are we to have every family establish a seperate country.
look at USA, we have german, british, french, african, asian.they all united, they did not ask to seperate, each with a country of its own, that is when civilization improves.

May 25th, 2007, 5:36 pm


t_desco said:

Since I made the list, I’ve also seen reports that mentioned Moroccans, Libyans and Iraqis as members of Fatah al-Islam.

Al-Qaida video threatens attack on Lebanon

A group claiming to be an al-Qaida branch in Syria and Lebanon threatened in an online video today to attack Lebanon’s military and its tourist venues if troops do not halt operations against Islamic militants in a Palestinian refugee camp.

The video could reflect a propaganda attempt to rally extremists over the battle at the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp more than a true organised threat. The group – calling itself al Qaida in al-Sham – is little known and has not claimed attacks in the past.

But it highlighted the danger that the fighting in northern Lebanon could stir up other militant attacks around the country.

“We warn you (Lebanese forces) for the last time, and after this there will only be seas of blood,” said a man in the video, identifying himself as the military commander of al-Qaida in al-Sham, an Arabic word referring to the area of Syria, Lebanon and parts of Jordan.

“If you don’t cease this, we will take out your hearts with booby-traps and besiege your positions with bombs, and target all of your trade, starting with tourism,” he said. He demanded the military withdraw its troops from around the camp.

In the seven-minute video, the man was seen standing in an area of green trees, a red kafiyyeh scarf covering his head and face and an ammunition belt looped over his chest.

The video – first reported by the SITE Institute, a private US group that monitors militant messages – was posted on an internet forum where Islamic extremists often issue statements.
Irish Examiner

Qaeda vows “seas of blood” over Lebanon Palestinians

Al-Qaeda group threatens tourists over Lebanon siege

May 25th, 2007, 5:40 pm


Ziad said:

I agree with G,Dr Landis you did wrong to underline this comment which insults the memory of the syrian people.
The massacre of Hama was premeditated and a planified genocide.

May 25th, 2007, 5:41 pm


EHSANI2 said:


The populace of the Arab world need to demand that their leaders abide by one simple rule.

” The Min-Ayna-Laka-Haza” Principal.

Once an Arab leader takes office, he ought to tell his people what his net worth is when he assumed office and what it was when he left it. If we can have our leaders live by only this principal, it would be a huge step froward.

May 25th, 2007, 5:41 pm


ausamaa said:

Is Seniora going to shed a few fresh “tears” again?

It does not appeare that there will be any vote on the International Tribunal Chapter 7 thing anytime soon.

Russia seems keen to NOT approve it and Qatar and other SC non-pemenant members are not Hot on the idea.

May 25th, 2007, 5:42 pm


Ziad said:

T DESCO,what’s your objective ,to show that the syrian mukhabarat are innocent from all what is happening in leb ,do u deny that all the leaders of Fateh al Islam had a tea party with Mukhabarat officers in Syria(in prison or outside prison) ?
And from which country all these hundreds of jihadists were parachuted to Lebanon?
Is that credible that all these weapons and jihadist traffic from Syria to Lebanon was possible without the knowledge of the mukhabarat?
T DESCO,we are syrians and we know regime behavior very well.

May 25th, 2007, 5:49 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

the article says 40 Billion dollar, I am sure it is 60 billion dollar,it was stollen from syrians,deposited in foreign banks,and the syrians are deprived of it . It could generate enough income to improve the economy of Syria cosiderably, this Asad family quit believing in socialism,and now they are capitalist kings.

May 25th, 2007, 5:50 pm


Ziad said:

How much billions per year do asad familly earn from free zones(Ramco) and phone companies(Areeba and Syriatel)…the port ?

May 25th, 2007, 5:53 pm


Ziad said:

Majedkhaldoun,capitalism is not the problem ;capitalism and liberalism are based on freedom of business and trade and some politcal freedom is needful(at least an effective,egalitarian judicial system) ,this is not the case in Syria …Syria is more like Zaire of Mobutu.

May 25th, 2007, 5:57 pm


ausamaa said:


Hell, and do not forget Lebanon. Syrians are still stealing millions from that godforsaken “heaven”. And the comissions they are making on the arms shipments that is being transferred from Iran to Hizbullah (this is a new one isn’t it?)! And the fees they charge to the infiltraters to Iraq. Unbeleivable man! Lots of money.

May 25th, 2007, 6:07 pm


Atassi said:

I totally agree, It’s a fare statement for sure.
Will the Syrian Parliament introduce a new “request for passing” of such a new governing law “ The Executives and officials financial discloser transparency law”.?
Trust me, This stolen money is a funny and bowered money. Saddam did not take anything to his grave, or did he!!! And it has no safe place to be parked other then “!”

May 25th, 2007, 6:15 pm


alle said:

majed khaldounwhy not,panarabism is not against any group, it includes all group, […] the reason that we call it panarabism,is that the language is arabic, you have to have one language,so people comunicate.

But the Kurds don’t speak Arabic. There’s nothing wrong with having Arabic as the official language of Syria, since it’s the language of the vast majority. But there is a problem if Kurds are prevented from using their own language freely in their own areas.

ask the kurds in Damascus, did we treated them bad, it is a fact that they get married to the rest of the syrian families,hardly you see a family who did not have kurd relative, they can get any job in the goverment, they are not treated different.

Yes they are. Tens of thousands of Kurds have been stripped of citizenship, some have been forcibly moved from their homes, discriminatory treatment is common, and the number of Kurds in important jobs is minuscule.

YOU didn’t treat them badly, but the government, operating on a xenophobic interpretation of Arabism, has treated them very badly. It should be the task of the opposition to understand and want to correct this, if not simply for justice, then because it’s the best way to keep the country united.

May 25th, 2007, 6:18 pm


Atassi said:

Assad grows into role of Syria’s iron ruler
Hassan M. Fattah

25 May 2007
International Herald Tribune

Information and Learning. All rights reserved.
Inside the tent, the trappings of a modern election campaign were on display – jingles playing, flags waving, confetti coating the floor and posters of President Bashar al-Assad hanging near the stage. Outside, however, Syria’s realities were evident. Government security men manhandled anyone trying to come in and blocked reporters from covering the rally – one of several held across the country recently – funded by one of Syria’s most powerful oligarchs. The sparse crowd hinted at growing popular fear of the future and apathy about Syrian politics.
Only a year ago, Assad faced so many troubles that some Syrians began questioning his political survival.
His troops had been forced out of Lebanon, his government faced allegations of collusion in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon, and the Bush administration had imposed sanctions that affected everything from the fleet of Boeings in Syria’s national airline to medical equipment used in hospitals. Waning oil reserves hinted at economic collapse and the European Union delayed signing a much-needed trade agreement.
But as he prepares to be overwhelmingly “re-elected” on Sunday to a second seven-year term, Assad seems very much in control, with his rivals isolated, his critics increasingly in prison or fearing retribution, and international pressure having eased significantly.
He has consolidated power around his immediate family and rewarded those who have been loyal. He has continued to reap the benefits of Washington’s troubles in the region. And in Lebanon, Syrian-backed unrest is growing.
“Syria has a great deal of confidence now,” said Abdel Fattah Al- Awad, editor in chief of the government-run newspaper Al Thawra. “The country is convinced that the major pressures that once faced us have disappeared. We want to offer security – that’s what we offer. The Americans, they offer Iraq, which is chaos.”
Assad came to power seven years ago on a wave of optimism, promising to bring change and to rule differently than his iron- fisted father, Hafez, did. But as he prepares for another term in a so-called national referendum, Assad has increasingly begun to emulate his father.
Where political campaigners openly called for change several years ago, today many have landed in jail in a government crackdown on dissent. Others have shrunk from public life.
Few Syrians would even speak on the record for this article, fearing reprisal.
Assad once focused his speeches on reform and economic development; today he speaks of security and stability. A small group of businessmen close to him have cornered the majority of Syria’s economy. Some foreign investors from the Gulf, encouraged to invest in Syria, have found themselves mired in webs of corruption that have delayed their projects.
“The Bashar of 2000 was a young, new leader who embodied the promise of change,” said Emile Hokayem, a research fellow at The Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington. “As he prepares for a new term, there is more repression in Syria, a hardening of the regime’s stands, and little movement on economic reform. Syria’s ills are as acute as they were seven years ago.”
Most of all, Assad has sought to prove to Syrians that he is a survivor, like his father, who brought stability to Syria under the Baath party, but dominated almost every part of society through a network of omnipresent informants and the dreaded secret police, known as the Mukhabarat. The elder Assad held his grip over the country for 32 years under an authoritarian government that not only helped end Lebanon’s civil war but also put Syria in control over its politics and economy.
“We used to say he was not as clever as his father,” said one respected doctor in Damascus, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. “But now things are different. I wasn’t so confident of him before, but he has gained good experience.”
Assad made three critical bets that proved successful, analysts here say. He bet that the U.S. occupation of Iraq would falter, hampered in part by Syria’s funneling of militants to Iraq, and that Syria would become a critical part of any effort to stabilize the country.
He maintained support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, which, when it survived a war with Israel last year, became a powerful Lebanese force that could spoil American ambitions there and further define Syria as a power that must be dealt with. And just as important, he maintained support for Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups, ensuring a Syrian role in any future Israeli-Arab peace effort.
Syria’s alliance with Iran, too, brought needed economic and political support and made Syria an important go-between to Iran. When British marines in southern Iraq were taken hostage by the Iranians recently, the Syrians played an important part in getting them released.
Soon European officials and, later, American congressional delegations, including the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, began visiting Damascus, chipping away at America’s isolation policy.
When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with her Syrian counterpart, Walid al Moallem, on the sidelines of an Iraq conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, the Syrians quickly painted the 30-minute meeting as a strategic victory. Though little was discussed, the meeting’s symbolism was critical.
“Whoever wants to isolate Syria is in fact isolating himself from the region’s issues, because Syria has a rightful role,” Assad said in a speech before Parliament last week, appearing confidant and defiant. The Bush administration’s attempt to isolate the country, he said, “has seen nothing but failure.”
Critics fear that an emboldened government will become even more repressive and reliant on its security apparatus. After years of tolerating the fractious opposition movement, the government cracked down on opposition figures last year, hoping to turn several prominent figures into examples, opposition campaigners say.
On Sunday, a court sentenced four, including Michel Kilo, a prominent Syrian writer and columnist, to three years in prison for “spreading false news, weakening national feeling and inciting sectarian sentiments.” Kilo was arrested after signing the so- called Beirut-Damascus Declaration, which calls on Syria to respect Lebanon’s territorial integrity.
Just a few days earlier a court sentenced Kamal Labawani, a Syrian physician and opposition leader, to 15 years for “communicating with a foreign country and inciting it to initiate aggression against Syria” after he met with Bush officials in Washington.
They languish together with an estimated 3,000 other political prisoners still in Syrian prisons.
The government still has much to fear, however. Despite Syrian efforts to stymie the establishment of a United Nations-backed tribunal in Lebanon to try suspects connected to the assassination of Hariri, deliberations about the court continue. The Syrians fear that the tribunal could call on senior regime figures to testify or, worse, to indict them.
On Monday, Lebanon’s prime minister, Fouad Siniora, requested that the UN Security Council proceed to create the tribunal despite objections from Lebanon’s opposition, which has refused to hold a session of Parliament to vote on a Lebanese plan to establish the court.
The government has also been under pressure to show some form of change domestically. A successful boycott of parliamentary elections last month, fueled by political apathy, resulted in low turnout that both embarrassed the government and put the legitimacy of the body in question, analysts say. Assad’s allies intend to make sure that the same is not repeated in the national referendum.
Meanwhile, a continuing flood of Iraqi refugees has also strained Syria’s economy, costing the country up to $2 billion a year in subsidies and expenses.
Many expect the referendum to be a turning point, but they differ on its direction. Some hope that Assad will begin reforms and pardon the jailed reformers; others fear that the referendum will further embolden the government to take an even tougher line domestically and cement its position.

May 25th, 2007, 6:27 pm


Ziad said:

Aussama ,no need of iranian money,haram half of iranians are under poverty line ,ok forget ,oil,phones,internet,ports,customs,contracts share…trade of lebanese drugs from bekaa valley(under hizbollahi control) was more profitable business for Syrian officers..add to this syrian antiquities and artefacts traffic…and guess who offered the rare syrian hellenic statues to western politicians?
who give them the right to sell our history and land ?

May 25th, 2007, 6:35 pm


AL-SYASY said:

French FM says Hariri tribunal will happen

It seems that Sarkozy is pushing forward to challenge the united states like his predecessor Chirac. The events in lebanon was created by the United states to stop the tribunal.

The Americans are encouraging the Lebanon army, who is supported by the stupid French policy, to enter the nahr elbared camp breaking the 1969 arab decree.Thus the result will be massacres shifting the public opinion of the tribunal and weaken the position of the french supported Seniora government (14march) in the presidential elections in september against the 8 march supported by syria.

May 25th, 2007, 9:26 pm


EHSANI2 said:

The U.S. now thinks that it has the votes.

By Jay Solomon

WASHINGTON–U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilzad said he’s confident
the Security Council will pass a resolution next week unilaterally establishing
an international court to try suspects in the 2005 murder of former Lebanese
Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Permanent Security Council members Russia and China have voiced concerns in
recent weeks about the potentially destabilizing impact the Hariri court could
have on Lebanon. And there have been fears within Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad
Siniora’s government that Moscow and Beijing might actually veto the resolution
sponsored by the U.S., France and the U.K.
(This story and related background material will be available on The Wall
Street Journal Web site,
After more then a week of deliberation inside the Security Council, however,
Khalilzad said that the resolution appears set for passage sometime next week.
“We have the votes,” he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. ambassador also said he appreciated the risks the tribunal could
pose to Lebanese stability in the short-term. “But we think there’s more risk
of not doing it,” he said.

May 25th, 2007, 9:57 pm


t_desco said:

Seymour Hersh yesterday: “I got an email the other day, and I have not checked this out, from somebody who was in the community, in the intelligence community and still consults with the community, he says, “Why don’t we ask more about the American arms that the fighters of Fatah al-Islam have, are brandishing?” I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I did get that email. And so, that could be true. Both Saudi money and American money, not directly, but indirectly, was fed into these groups.”
Democracy Now!

“There were so many weapons we hadn’t seen in the camp before,” said Khaled Layla, 34, a bus driver whose arm was fractured when an artillery shell exploded near him. “OK, before we had Kalashnikovs, 80-millimeter mortars, 14-gauge shotguns, rocket-propelled grenades. But these fighters had M-16s, like the American army. We were shocked at the rockets, some of them 60 centimeters, and new mortars, 120 millimeters.”

Militants in Lebanon will fight to the death, spokesman says
By Hannah Allam and Miret el Naggar
McClatchy Newspapers

(my emphasis)

“Return of the Crusader War” – A Video Speech from the Military Official of al-Qaeda in al-Sham regarding Fatah al-Islam and Lebanon
SITE Institute

Hezbollah leader warns government not to storm Palestinian refugee camp

Nasrallah said the Fatah Islam fighters who attacked the military should be brought to justice. But he said Hezbollah opposed any military incursion into the camp to crush the militants.

“The Nahr el-Bared camp and Palestinian civilians are a red line. We will not accept or provide cover or be partners in this,” he said.

Nasrallah called a large airlifting of U.S. military supplies to the Lebanese military to help in the Nahr el-Bared fight “a dangerous thing.”

“Does it concern us that we start a conflict with al-Qaida in Lebanon and consequently attract members and fighters of al-Qaida from all over the world to Lebanon to conduct their battle with the Lebanese army and the rest of the Lebanese?” he asked.

He stressed his position was not in defense of Fatah Islam but to preserve the army, which he described as the last bastion that is keeping the country together.

May 25th, 2007, 10:12 pm


K said:

Prof Landis,

You do not give justice to the argument that Syria is behind Fath al-Islam. Please be fair. I am not the most articulate explainer of the theory but here is some food for thought.

How about the fact that the leader of the gang was imprisoned in Syria for terrorism then mysteriously released after a couple of years behind bars. (Nonviolent Islamists, Kurds, and human rights lawyers all receive harsher sentences – but the convicted terrorist walks?) Then he pops up in Lebanon!

The multinational composition of the gang is no argument against Syrian involvement. The al-Qa’ida and Syrian connections are not mutually exclusive. Think of the links between Syria and the Iraqi terror campaign. The invidividual terrorists themselves are die-hard jihadists, and somehwere up the chain of command, is a Syrian intelligence agent. Syria doesn’t need to give them instructions, all it has to do is control their movement, let them into Lebanon, as it lets them into Iraq. In fact, many of these thugs are veterans of Iraq. They entered Iraq through Syria, and they have now passed from Iraq to Lebanon – through Syria!

Even though they are supposedly anti-Shi’a (“supported by Hariri as a counterweight to Hizballa” goes the lie) they have never attacked a Shi’a target. They attacked March 14 strongholds: Ain Alaq, (Christian), Ashrafieh (Christian), Verdun (Sunni), Aley (Druze).

This is in a larger context. The UNSC is discussing Chapter 7, and Bashar threatened to set the Mideast afire if the resolution passes.

To simply post a short statement by the US spokesman under “the case for Syrian involvement” is disingenuous.

May 25th, 2007, 11:43 pm


number6 said:

Dear experts- what are your views on the article ‘ Who’s behind the fighting in North Lebanon?’, by Franklin Lamb (Counterpunch, 24 May 2007)

May 26th, 2007, 2:13 am


Frank al Irlandi said:

I picked this up yesterday and am still wondering if it is fantasy

Lebanese newspaper Al-Diyar reported in 15-04-2007 and that is about 5-6 weeks before Nahr Al-bared violence started and this is the exact translation word by word:

Reported by: Bachus Faghali

Under the cover of fighting Salafi, Islamists fundamentalist in Lebanon’s Northern region [starting from Akkar via Tripoli to the Dinniyah-slopes], and after two years of hesitation, NATO decided to join the Lebanese territories to North-African &African coast military region, to establish Military airbases.

In this context, NATO’s Staff Member showed the importance of Qlei’at air-base near Lebanese-Syrian borders, using this vast area as bases for fast intervention troops.

American-German-Turkish military delegation toured and surveyed Akkar region, reported to the NATO headquarter in Brussels, mentioning that the military bases will contribute to the development and the economic recovery in the region, advising the government to focus on the financial aspect and positive reflection on the population of the region, giving the bases a name “Lebanese Army and Security training centre”.

As for Fatah Al-islam organization, Arabtimes says that exactly what I earlier (1)-(2) said:

“Fatah Al-Islam” is a Militia established by Sa’ad Harriri and the Jordanian intelligence to counter Hizballah, leading to later engagements between the Lebanese army against Hizballah.

May 26th, 2007, 2:52 am


Enlightened said:

Interesting Reading for those that are Interested.

May 26th, 2007, 2:54 am


EHSANI2 said:

A new twist late Friday. A grace period as requested byu the Russians seems to have won the day.

DJ New UN Hariri Tribunal Resolution Gives Lebanon Until June 1
2007-05-25 21:49 (New York)

UNITED NATIONS (AP)–A revised U.N. resolution to unilaterally establish an
international tribunal to prosecute suspects in the assassination of Lebanon’s
former prime minister would give the Lebanese parliament a grace period until
June 10 to ratify it.
If the Lebanese parties do not overcome their differences by that date, the
agreement between the U.N. and the government of Lebanon to establish the
special tribunal would enter into force.
The council is scheduled to discuss the new draft on Tuesday, and U.S.
Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the current council president, said he expects a
vote in the following days.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fuad Saniora asked the U.N. Security Council earlier
this month to take binding action to establish the tribunal. He cited the
refusal of opposition-aligned Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to convene a
session to ratify the statutes to create the tribunal that have already been
approved by his government and the U.N.
The suicide truck bombing that killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafik
Hariri and 22 others in Beirut in February 2005 sparked huge protests against
Syria, which was widely seen as culpable. Syria denied involvement but was
forced to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, ending a 29-year presence.
The issue of an international tribunal has since fueled a deep political
conflict between Saniora’s Western-backed government and the Syrian-backed,
Hezbollah-led opposition. The conflict has taken on an increasingly sectarian
tone and erupted into street battles, killing 11 people in recent months.
The original draft resolution called for the Security Council to create a
tribunal outside Lebanon with a majority of international judges and an
international prosecutor under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which deals with
threats to international peace and can be militarily enforced.
At a council meeting Friday where the three co-sponsors – the U.S., U.K. and
France – formally introduced the draft, Russia and Qatar said they opposed
putting the tribunal under Chapter 7.
In an attempt to address their concerns, the revised draft circulated Friday
night and obtained by The Associated Press leaves only part of the resolution
under Chapter 7 – the provisions on the grace period until June 10 and the
entry into force, on the location of the tribunal, and on its financing.
The provisions on putting the tribunal into operation would not be under
Chapter 7.
The revised draft states that “the special tribunal shall commence
functioning on a date to be determined by the secretary-general in consultation
with the government of Lebanon, taking into account the progress of the work of
the International Independent Investigation Commission.”
It asks the secretary-general, “when appropriate” and in coordination with
the Lebanese government, to take the necessary measures to establish the
tribunal “in a timely manner.”
The investigation commission, led by Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz, has
been extended until June 2008. It is probing the Hariri assassination and
assisting in 16 other cases.
The first U.N. chief investigator, Germany’s Detlev Mehlis, said the
complexity of Hariri’s assassination suggested the Syrian and Lebanese
intelligence services played a role. Four Lebanese generals, top pro-Syrian
security chiefs, have been under arrest for 20 months, accused of involvement
in Hariri’s murder.
Whether the revisions will satisfy Russia, Qatar and others remains to be
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin opposed any reference to Chapter 7,
stressing that all Security Council resolutions are legally binding and “on
legal grounds it’s very vulnerable to refer to Chapter 7 in this resolution.”
Khalilzad said political assassinations and the Hariri case have been dealt
with in past council resolutions as threats to international peace and security
– and therefore a reference is needed to Chapter 7.
Churkin also proposed a grace period “in the expectation that before that
period of time ends, they will be able to ratify it in Lebanon.”
Qatar’s U.N. Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser also called for additional time,
saying efforts are under way – including by his government – “to talk to all
Lebanese parties to convince them so we can create consensus on establishing
this court.”
But France’s U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said the council needs
to act now.
“We should not be intimidated by what is happening today in Lebanon,” he
Having the tribunal established now is important because it will help the
inquiry commission do its work, because of the council’s commitment to justice,
and because it could take a year before the tribunal starts operating, de La
Sabliere said.

May 26th, 2007, 3:02 am


majedkhaldoun said:

I wonder why it would take a year before the tribunal start working?
by then Lebanon will have different president. would this mean Brammertz will have to wait a year before he make his report public, I do not think it should take more than three months

May 26th, 2007, 3:46 am


K said:

Tony Badran vs Joshua Landis

When Bernard Kouchner made Lebanon his first trip abroad as Foreign Minister, I couldn’t help but recall a typically slimy post by one of the Syrian regime’s flacks:

“There is little chance that even Sarkozy, should he be elected, will want to begin his presidency by placing his money on the March 14th government in Lebanon. Nor will he want to make the possibility of reopening dialogue with Syria more complicated, which the establishment of an international tribunal would certainly do. He has said that ‘Lebanon is important, but is not everything.’ Such ambiguous statements give him plenty of latitude.”

The sinister, depraved projection is paradigmatic from someone who has consistently been advocating the abandonment of Lebanon and the return of brutal Syrian suzerainty, the scuttling of the tribunal and with it the complete discrediting of the Security Council, as well as advocating the defeat of the US in the ME. But it’s ultimately funny, as these sick puppies of the regime all are.

For one, Kouchner said, “France and the international community are determined to establish the tribunal to try the assassins. … The international community will never accept threats and terrorism, and we are determined to vote at the (UN) Security Council a resolution to establish the international tribunal.”

And then, for all the enthusiastic Syria engagers out there, Kouchner added the following, “We are ready to talk with all personalities and representatives of groups who are in favor of Lebanon’s unity, its autonomy and its territorial integrity. This clearly means we don’t have to talk to Syrian leaders,” he said, adding that France might be ready to resume contact as soon as the Syrian position on Lebanon changed.

May 26th, 2007, 7:56 am


whu-discuss said:

The draft resolution leaves so many points in the dark, ( who pays for it, who will participate etc..) that it will be discussed for a long time before taking effect, the political showdown is not yet over. This resolution is only a skeleton..

May 26th, 2007, 7:57 am


t_desco said:

Ad-Diyar – certainly not the most reliable of sources…

The Franklin Lamb article – I find it sloppy and inaccurate, e.g. he claims that:

“Over a year ago Hariri’s Future Movement started setting up Sunni Islamist terrorist cells …”(!).

And as one example he names Jund al-Sham (!):

“The first Welch Club funded militia, set up by FM, is known locally as Jund-al-Sham”.

While it is true that Jund al-Sham recently received funds from Bahiyya al-Hariri, as even Michael Young admitted, that does not mean that the group was “set up” by the Future Movement or that they share the same agenda. The relationship between the two is much more complicated and the idea that these extremist groups could be controlled – be it by Syria or by Prince Bandar – is outright silly (which is probably why this White House found it so intriguing…).

BTW, only recently did I realize that the “Terbol/Menyeh” area mentioned in the first Mehlis report is in the direct vicinity of Nahr al-Bared (if my interpretation of the report is correct):

According to one report, militia snipers “in the village of Miniyeh near the camp were shooting indiscriminately in our direction”.

Mehlis I: “121.The investigation shows that eight telephone numbers and 10 mobile telephones were used to organize surveillance on Mr. Hariri and to carry out the assassination. The lines were put into circulation on 4 January 2005 in the northern part of Lebanon, between Terbol and Menyeh.”

“Terbol” refers to the antennae on Jebel Terbol overlooking Miniyeh and Nahr al-Bared (you can see the shadows of the larger antennae on Google Maps). “Menyeh” may refer to some cell tower in Miniyeh. It would be interesting to learn more about the technical details and to see what “between Terbol and Menyeh” exactly means.

May 26th, 2007, 9:05 am


Mo said:


I suppose you counted the dead? Don’t forget, the official account was somewhere between 280 & 680 fatalities (I don’t recall the “exact” figure)
“20,000 butchered people”! You go too far my friend..

Of course there is an issue, NO one knows how many people lost their lives in Hama, so please stop throwing in numbers without any evidence!
I remember Jumblatt talking about the mass graves left by the Syrians in Lebanon: where are they?
The same Jumblatt is saying only one innocent Palestinian was killed in the refugee camp.. Is this not insulting?
Al-Jazeera reported “hundreds” were killed/injured, according to witnesses.

My point: any army besieging a civilian camp/city is wrong! And numbers are always politically motivated.
Be it in Hama, Falluja, Nahr al-Bared.. You can’t support one and reject the other! Come on, it’s not statistics, it’s human lives!

May 26th, 2007, 11:39 am


DJ said:

G (I suppose it is short for gullible) doesn’t like this blog nor its readers and commentators. But he still comes back for more. Like an insatiable whore…

May 26th, 2007, 12:00 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

Lahoud said if no changes developed,at the end of his tenure, he will do something consistent with the constitution, but he refused to tell what is it.
the question : what if he issues general pardon, he has the power to do it, but he will give pardon to whoever commit the hariri crime, this will make the tribunal useless,since there is already pardon, it is a big bomb,but with him leaving he would not care.

May 26th, 2007, 8:02 pm


ausamaa said:

Hakka Badri, Enta fain wel Hubbe Fain? What Goddamned General Pardon? Is anyone “accused” yet, let alone “sentenced” to be Pardoned? Allahum Afiena mema fiena!

Habibi Majedkhaldoun, Lahoud is talking about a possible disbanding of the Parliment or a disbanding of the current Government and appointing a Military Government.

May 26th, 2007, 9:03 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

No Ausamaa:
N. Berri is on Lahoud side, he prevented the parliment from convening,effectively disbanding the parliment, why Lahoud would get rid of Berri?
Also appointing a military goverment,is a coup, it is against the constitution, who would recognize this goverment except Syria?
Please do not drink wine before writing your comment.

May 27th, 2007, 1:07 am


ausamaa said:

well, you must know better than me, cheers

May 27th, 2007, 3:10 am


K said:

From The Daily Star to Bashar:

This Sunday’s referendum on a second seven-year term for Syrian President Bashar Assad is hard to judge through the lens of normal politics and governance. The idea that the result could be anything other than overwhelming support is not of this world, and certainly not of this Arab region with its modern legacy of presidents for life. In another two years, the Libyan leader will have ruled for 40 years. Rarely has the world known such a phenomenon as this eternal rule of republican leaders, other than in ancient empires and modern monarchies that have their own forms of legitimacy. For Bashar Assad to slip into this dwindling club of life-long autocrats is a shame, because he does not need to go through such performances of wild adulation. He as a leader and his country as a whole have the assets required to do that which has never been done by an Arab leader: Foster genuine legitimacy and enthusiastic popular support at home, and play a powerful role regionally and internationally, by pursuing policies that achieve win-win situations for all concerned.

Syria feels strong and safe right now, but this is not necessarily a correct perception. The country elicits significant opposition and some active pressures and sanctions from its neighbors and powerful countries around the world. Its core assumptions – that the US will keep making mistakes in the region, and that alternatives to the ruling Assad dynasty are not attractive to anyone – are short-term good bets, but long-term losers. The trend all around the world is toward stability anchored in economic prosperity, good governance and the rule of law. Syria makes gestures of acknowledgement to the global economy, but little else of substance.

Syria has the opportunity – still – to break away from the path of the hard rulers for life, by building on its tremendous assets of human wealth, natural resources, strategic geography and many positive political cards to play in the region. Assad can open the political space in his country, generate a more inclusive and accountable system of governance, tap the talents and creativity of his people, and get out of the trap of being permanently at odds with most of his neighbors and global interlocutors. He hinted that he would do this when he came to power seven years ago, but never did. Term number two is a chance to reconsider the options he still has in that respect.

May 27th, 2007, 6:17 am


Honest Patriot said:

Mr. Landis,

I am eagerly awaiting your personal opinion of my earlier post, herewith reproduced. You are highly intelligent, experienced, and respected. Most importantly, your integrity is acknowledged. What is your opinion ? You often give analyses of “argements for” and “arguments against.” Nevertheless, one must eventually choose. What do you really think ? Is Syria “Machievellially” manipulating Lebanon to its own selfish interests and with the usual cruelty that they applied in the past (as in the “Hama Rules” of Thomas Friedman fame), or are they really the victims ?

Mr. Landis, with all due respect, don’t you actually see the hands of Syrian intelligence in fomenting trouble in Lebanon ? Why did they release the Fatah-el-islam leader ? Who is responsible for all the assassinations ? Yes there are many very decent and wonderful people in Syria, but do you really have any doubt about the murderous savage ways of their secret service ? To be sure, many Lebanese are to blame for the lack of discipline and enlightenment that leads to a good societey, but is this a reason to victimize them so much ?? Happy to read your response in your blog. –

May 27th, 2007, 9:11 am


trustquest said:

The Syrian referendum for President Assad, forcing himself for 7 more years in office against change and in theme of closing the window of change and cooperation of all elements of the society, on this beautiful spring day is a reminder of the silence of the cemetery.
The cemetery has been identified as: The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery. — Harold Wilson

May 27th, 2007, 2:08 pm


K said:


Harold Wilson forgot about organized religion – the ultimate anti-progressive force in human civilization.

May 27th, 2007, 4:35 pm


t_desco said:

Israeli officials: Syria seems serious about talks

There is a growing consensus within the Israeli government that Syria is serious about resuming negotiations with the Jewish state, Israeli officials involved in the assessment said on Saturday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, and a former Israeli diplomat who drafted an unofficial peace plan, said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s recent meeting with the Syrian foreign minister may have opened the door for reviving the long-dormant Israeli-Syrian track.

But it was unclear whether Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would respond positively to the public and private overtures from Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Israeli officials and the former diplomat, Alon Liel, told Reuters.

ANALYSIS-Israeli, US scepticism of Syrian offer may soften

For Israel, reasons to talk to Syria are adding up

May 27th, 2007, 5:16 pm


ausamaa said:

A Follow-up on the Honest Patriot request..

And Professor Landis, honestly, honestly, honestly, from the bottom of your heart, and with all due respect, can you not “feel” the scary presence of “non-Syrian” hands in the Tragedy that is engulfing Lebanon, both homemade and Imported? More importantly, Professor Landis, and as an Assad-and-Baath-led Syria are going to be Lebanon nieghbours for the froseeable future, if you ever were a “smart” and a “patriotic” and a “wise” Lebanese, would you not find a way to make ammends with “current” Syria and try to reach an accomodation that will allow both Syria and Lebanon to co-exist without all the headaches that the current relationship is creating? Or would you rather choose to keep “antagonising” and conspiring publically and actively to “destroy” the Syrian regime (with the hindsight of knowing that the combined efforts of both Israel and the Bush Admin and their “local executive assistants” at their craziest hour could not manage to “topple” the Syrian regime or to even make it change it’s behavior).

And honestly again, do you not think that all the harsh threats and attacks on the Syrian Regime by the current anti-Syria front from Feb 14 to the rest is really serving the Regime and making the people on the streets of Syria sidline whatever issues they might have with the regime because they believe that Defending Syria is more important “now” than other things?

In your own “personal” opinion, Please Professor Landis?!

Merci Professor Landis.

May 27th, 2007, 5:35 pm


t_desco said:

Sloppy work by Mitchell Prothero:

“After Syria released from prison a former associate of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, a few weeks later (sic) a group calling itself Fatah al-Islam emerged under his leadership … .”
The Observer

(my emphasis)

Now this is what Shaker al-Absi’s brother Abdelrazzaq, “an orthopedic surgeon who lives in Jordan”, told AFP in a telephone interview:

“”I last saw him two and a half years ago when he was released from prison in Syria. We went there to congratulate him,” he said.”

And we also know that al-Absi arrived in Shatila in June.

May 27th, 2007, 6:44 pm


K said:

Ausamaa, what drugs are you on, and can I try some please? I wouldn’t mind escaping from this miserable reality.

Reading your comments, one would think Syria is a little helpless country being victimized by these hateful Lebanese, making “threats” to Syria. “Harsh threats and attacks”, you write. Dear Lord.

What Lebanese soldier has set foot on Syrian land – EVER? What Lebanese terrorist has committed terror bombings of Syrian neighborhoods or assassinated Syrian activists, politicians, journalists on Syrian soil? Or used Syria as a base for proxy wars?

Meanwhile, ALL the losses of this conflict have been incurred by one side only! All the assassinations and assassination attempts have targeted M14 figures (zero on the other side). All terrorist bombings have occurred in M14 strongholds – mostly civilian areas inhabited and frequented by Lebanon’s embattled Christian community.

The specific places where I personally hang out in Lebanon, the places I love and cherish, have been targeted, specifically to hurt me, my family, friends and community. That’s why I write from the safety of Canada. And the threats from the Syrian leadership and its mouthpieces have been relentless.

Ausamaa, when Syria is ruled by Michel Kilo, Kamal Labwani, Anwar al-Bunni and others of equal intellect, heroism and conscience, there will be peace and brotherhood between Syria and Lebanon. Until then we will be at odds.

Syria, being the larger and more powerful entity, will ALWAYS be able to inflict more damage on Lebanon than the vice versa. So believe me, eternal conflict between our states is in no one’s interest and ESPECIALLY not in ours.

We the Lebanese have very few weapons in our arsenal this fight. But we will never surrender to Syrian bullying; we will use every single means at our disposal.

May 27th, 2007, 8:20 pm


ausamaa said:

This is from Counter Punch. Most likely on the Payroll of the Syrian Regime. Dont you think?

Weekend Edition
May 26 / 27, 2007

“Another Waco in the Making”
Inside Nahr el-Bared

Bedawi and Nahr el-Bared Palestinian Refugee Camps, Lebanon.

With very intermittent internet access and this ancient pc with one lone wire running from the spaghetti wiring system tied to the ceiling and taped to a single bare light bulb socket, plus 8 toddlers, two babies, crawling over and under this ‘foreigner’ in a 10 x 12 concrete room where 28 or more of us slept on the floor last night, this blurb may never be sent. But if it does get out and for what it’s worthan update on the situation in the Palestinian Nabr al-Bared and Bedawi Camps. Will try to send results shortly of my interviews with 11 Fatah al-Islam fighters regarding who paid them and got them travel documents and weapons and what was their mission. There was no bank robbery by them. That wasa fake story put out by the Welch Club. Sorry I misreported it. BBC was suckered. Also, no, repeat no heads cut off. Where are the medical reports from those who claim it? That was black propaganda to smear Fatah el-Islam. Must leave this building nowmay not be until tomorrow or so.

Bedawi is teeming with new arrivals from al-Bared where there is still no water, power or food. A few NGO’s still negotiating with army for permission to enter. (Still possible to sneak in from the east but getting more dangerous to try it). The problem is not being shot by Fatah al-Islam anymore. They are digging in. And the army is not as trigger happy as on Monday-Wednesday. The “security agents” on the slopes above the army looking down into al-Baled are the main sniper danger. People claim they are Hariri militia but I can not confirm that. The army told the PLO they would stop them but as of Saturday night they are still shooting. They are trying to shoot anyone they see inside or leaving al-Balad. Someone should stop them.

Several hours ago I met a woman arriving from al-Bared who had walked the whole 7 miles with an 18 month old baby and a daughter of 5 who just stares into the press cameras with her mouth open and eyes glazed over. The Palestinian mother told us neither she nor her children have eaten or taken water for four days. The children will be ok. The mother’s husband is in Syria she said and she has no relatives.

One NGO group of three from Beirut left a few hours ago in tears from frustration, sadness and anger from repeatedly being stopped by the army from taking supplies to al Barad. Their cargo of water and blankets abandoned. On Saturday the Palestinian Red Crescent, which for a quarter century has provide the medical service to both camps has been formally and completely banned from al-Bared and told they will be shot if they try to enter al-Bared. I met with the PRCS leadership and drivers.

There is some-near panic in Bedawi caused by many rumors. One rumor, widely believed, is that the Lebanese government plans to demolish al-Bared to make room for the huge US/NATO airbase which is to be built next to the camp. 5,000 of the Palestinians in al-Bared are from the 1975 ethnically cleansed east Beirut camp Telazatter. The PLO moved them to al-Bared at the beginning of the Lebanese civil war (1975-90) and they live close together in one al-Bared neighborhood. Saw women wailing that they may be another Telazatter massacre and destruction of their homes.

Many Palestinian young men are being arrested as they leave al-Bared. An old woman sleeping in the same room as me last night told us that her son was taken as he left al-Bared on Monday and she has not heard from him. There are now 6 check points between Tripoli and Beirut. Many (I was told all but have not confirmed it) Palestinian males traveling to Beirut are being arrested and taken for interrogation. Some from al-Bared are afraid to try to go to Beirut and stay with relatives.

Fear among PLO camp leaders that there could be a blood bath. “It’s the Bush complex,” one German NGO volunteer said. “The Lebanese government wants to be macho like the Israelis to gain some respect. This could be another Waco in the making, for no reason.” The PLO is trying to mediate with the army to avoid a slaughter that would occur if the army tries to enter al-Bared. “What is needed is leadership and for the warlords to keep quiet. The army has behaved very badly but it’s the politicians fault.”

Great fear that the army will try to enter al-Bared.

The army moved the press position to more than one mile from al Bared, “for security”. The army has orders to give no information to the press. Some journalists feel something terrible is going to happen here. Just heard the army has now completely sealed the camp. No access to the wounded still in basements and bombed houses needing help Palestinians activist in Bedawi say that if the army goes into al-Bared and makes a massacre that Palestinian from all over Lebanon will fight. This may be what some here or outside Lebanon are hoping for.

The Welch Club wants the army to “wipe out the terrorists”, and “protect our Palestinian brothers”. Not one Palestinian in either camp or observer I know believes that. Rather the Palestinian community here believes that the whole Fatah al-Islam “very strange case” was designed to assault their 420,000 population here.

School is cancelled in Bedawi because up to 20,000 from Bared are being housed in them. Food and water are arriving intermittently but distribution is not yet well organized. Much angst among the arrivals who come with only what they are wearing.

Joy to find al-Bared loved ones. Statements are heard on the crowded streets such as” why did the army fire on us? There were no fighters in our area?” “Where was their artillery during the July war? Why did they not fight Israel and now bomb us”?

The leader of Nahr al Bared Women’s association accused Lebanon’s envoy Abbas Zaki of not helping the refugees and with cooperating with the government and Israel. ‘He should come here’, one woman said. Abu Ammar or Abu Jihad (Arafat and his deputy Khalil al Wazir) would have come if they were alive”. Fatah is weak in Bedawi and even weaker in al-Bared.

Seven PLO factions operate in both camps. They jointly chased Fatah al-Islam out of Bedawi on September 21, 2006 not long after they split from Abu Musa’s Fateh Intifida which has been based in Badawi since 1983. Fatah Intifada still man’s the entrance to Bedawi but they seem to have only about 100 members left. When one interviews them they are almost apologetic about their step-brothers, Fatah al-Islam. “We expelled them because we did not like their friends (Hariri intelligence staff) they were too religious and acted strange but we did not think things would come to this”) but the al-Barad PLO factions do not have arms or power to confront FAI.

Amazing examples of humanity happening here. There are many family connections between the two camps. Kids distribute and water bread when it arrives in cars from Beirut and elsewhere. Young girls picking up and caring for babies of people they don’t know, helping old people find a place to sit and listen to them when they tell of what happened. I could be wrong but I have rarely witnessed the solidarity among people as I see here with the Palestinians. Clean, smart, patient, charming, funny, and caring toward one another-determined to return to Palestine

Many who have been in Badawi for nearly a week now just want to just go back and die in their al-Bared homes. On 5/25/07 the Palestinian group, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine tried to organize a convoy of those who wanted to return to al-Bared. The plan is to go as far as they can and refuse to leave the army checkpoints until they are allowed back in. The convoy did not leave Bedawi yet and the idea may be abandoned

May 27th, 2007, 8:27 pm


K said:

I like to believe the Syrian people hate their oppressive dictatorship. I like to see them as allies in the same cause for justice and human rights. Every Syrian voice I hear criticizing the evil regime and expressing solidarity with Lebanon gives me hope for humanity. I salute all my Syrian brothers on this website who take these courageous stands.

But when I find Syrians who actually support their evil leaders and approve of their tyrannical policies, this sours my perception of the Syrian people. It forces me to ask: am I wrong and naive to draw this distinction between the good Syrian people and the evil Syrian regime? Should I begin to see them as one and the same? I hope not, with all my heart.

May 27th, 2007, 8:27 pm


ausamaa said:


Since you ask, I am on Panadol, Extra Strength. Caused mainly by watching news out of Lebanon and from having to read things posted by guys with “vendettas” like you.

And as you say: “we will use every single means at our disposal”

I say: Bravo ya Abtal..

May 27th, 2007, 8:35 pm


t_desco said:

I guess Nicholas Banford simply did not have enough space to explain who released Bilal Mahmoud and why…:

Tripoli Police Bullets Create a Martyr

Bilal Mahmoud — a 24-year-old Islamic militant brandishing a hand grenade to evade arrest, or a peaceful religiously devout Muslim who had forsworn his radical past? Either way, his death last week in a hail of bullets fired by Lebanese police has ignited strong anti-government passions in the impoverished Tebbaneh neighborhood of Tripoli and a backlash of sympathy for a band of Islamic radicals battling Lebanese troops in a Palestinian refugee camp 10 miles to the north.

“We used to support the government, now we are all with Fatah al-Islam,” said local resident Mohammed Ammar, 22, referring to the small Al-Qaeda-linked faction bottled up in the Nahr al-Bared camp whose leaders have sworn to fight to the death.

When fierce gun battles broke out on the streets of Tripoli a week ago pitting Fatah al-Islam militants against Lebanese security forces, few residents of Lebanon’s second largest city had any taste for the shadowy faction which has rarely been out of Lebanon’s headlines since emerging late last year.

But a week on, and the mood is changing in districts like Tebbaneh, a poor slum-like quarter in Tripoli long receptive to the clarion call of Islamic extremism. Television footage of seemingly indiscriminate army shelling of the Nahr al-Bared camp, home to 40,000 people, and a crackdown against Islamists in Tripoli have soured sympathy for the government’s bid to eradicate Fatah al-Islam.

Two Fatah al-Islam residents of Tebbaneh blew themselves up when surrounded by police in Tripoli last week. The funeral for one was held here Saturday, his shattered body tightly wrapped in a green Islamic shroud, furious mourners yelling revenge packing the street outside his home.

Some residents from here have fought American forces in Iraq. Others battled the Lebanese army in a brief but bloody insurrection in the rain-swept Dinnieh mountains east of Tripoli in January 2000. Among them was Bilal Mahmoud, known as Abu Jandal. When Lebanese troops crushed the Dinnieh rebels, Bilal was captured and jailed. He was released in summer 2005 in a general amnesty for the Dinnieh rebels. His family and friends say he returned to the family home in Tebbaneh and spent a quiet life, attending mosque and reading.

Spray painted on the stairwell of the run-down apartment block where the Mahmoud family lives are slogans reading “God bless Osama bin Laden”, “God bless Abu Musab al-Zarqawi”. “He was born naturally religious,” said Riad Mahmoud, Bilal’s father. “He didn’t take part in any fighting. He has been with us since it began last week.”

Lebanese newspapers last week quoted the police as saying that members of Lebanon’s paramilitary police had attempted to arrest Bilal but shot him dead as he prepared to throw a hand grenade.

But his father, Riad, said that the police “executed” his son in cold blood in front of dozens of eye witnesses. “He had just finished praying at the mosque and was drinking a juice and eating a sandwich,” he said. “He was only 24 and they shot him like a dog.” Bilal died on the sidewalk of a narrow dirty street of drab apartment blocks on one side and a small garden and beige stone clad mosque on the other. Since his death, the Lebanese army and police apparently have not entered the area, wary of the simmering resentment in this close-knit quarter.

Residents say that dozens of young men have been arrested in the past two months, persecution, they say, against anyone religiously devout. “You cannot buy a razor blade in Tripoli anymore because we are all shaving off our beards to avoid arrest,” joked an unsmiling Mohsen, 25. …

(my emphasis)

It is interesting that the following document by Amnesty International about the Dinniyeh trial lists Bilal al-Mahmud (and perhaps two other members of his family) alongside Ahmad Miqati (who planned to car-bomb the Italian embassy in downtown Beirut) and Hasan Nab’a (reportedly the leader of the cell of 13 al-Qa’ida members arrested in January 2006).

May 27th, 2007, 11:23 pm


Ziad said:

K , bashar,other than his familly and sectarian mukhabarat has few true friends inside syria but what about hizballah,marada and ssnp who are devoted allies of this regime ?

May 28th, 2007, 12:11 am


ugarit said:

A confidential and reliable source in Washington, DC sent me this: “[Abdul-Halim] Khaddam hired the good offices of Sandra Charles (C & O Resources) to lobby for him and obtain access for a high profile visit he’d like to make to Washington. Sandi Charles is on a substantial retainer with the Hariri family (from father to son) … Her C & O Resources group has one of the more potent rollodexes in Washington, and she was amongst Brent Scowcroft’s most able advisers (she sat on G W Bush’s NSC) … she also does limited work for Bandar … She is friends with Amal Mudallali*, who is Saad’s point woman in Washington…” My source does not want to be identified.
*Amal was a friend of mine from my Washington, DC days.

May 28th, 2007, 5:05 am


idaf said:


How credible is this in your view?

Al-Qaida threatens Asad in a new audio tape: “You Nussairi, we will not allow you to complete a second term in office” according to “Abu Jandal Al-Dimashqi”, the leader of Jama’t Al-Tawheed wa el-Jihad fi Bilad el-sham.


Likewise, we (Syrians) like to believe the Lebanese people hate their criminal Zaiims. I like to see them as allies in the same cause for justice and human rights. Every Lebanese voice I hear criticizing the evil and corrupt Lebanese war criminals and expressing solidarity with Syrians and Palestinians gives me hope for humanity. I salute all my Lebanese brothers on this website who take these courageous stands.

But when I find Lebanese who actually support their evil warlords (such as Jaejae and Junblat) and approve of their past and present corrupt and criminal policies, this sours my perception of the Lebanese people. It forces me to ask: am I wrong and naive to draw this distinction between the good Lebanese people and the evil Lebanese Zaiims? Should I begin to see them as one and the same?

However K, unlike you, I know the answer to this question. I will never advocate attacking Lebanon or its people for whatever being committed by any Lebanese (inviting the US to attack Syria.. etc.) While I know for sure that if the US, Israel or even Al-Qaida attacks Syria that many Lebanese will be dancing on the rooftops, as this answers their revenge thirsty minds fueled by their war criminals of zaiims, I argue on the other hand that Syrians can easily differentiate people from their corrupt or criminal leaders (take for example the Syrians’ view of American citizens vs. their view of the US administration).

May 28th, 2007, 8:46 am


ausamaa said:

This is from the Lebanese Akhbar Newspaper:

أيضاً… وأيضاً
خالد صاغيّة

فيما كان آلاف الفلسطينيّين يُقصَفون داخل مخيّمهم الصغير ويُجبَرون على الخروج إلى سجن آخر، كان العمّال السوريّون يُلاحَقون من قبل الجموع الغاضبة في عاليه ويتعرّضون للضرب. مشهد أصاب جماهير لبنانيّة واسعة بنشوة مزدوجة. خرجوا إلى الشوارع يداعبون أجسادهم، ويطلقون تأوّهات اختلطت فيها اللذّة بالألم. بعضهم رفض حتّى بيع الخبز للنازحين الفلسطينيّين، وبعضهم الآخر لم يتوانَ عن إظهار عجزه عن مواجهة النظام السوري، عبر الاقتصاص من عمّال لم يستسغ جنسيّاتهم وسحنات وجوههم.
«تنظيف المخيّمات» عنوان حفلة الجنون. «تنظيف» يتبارى في الدعوة إليه كلّ مرشّح للانتخابات الرئاسيّة المقبلة. فشرط الرئيس أن يكون قويّاً، ولا بأس أن يبدأ عرض العضلات ضدّ الحلقة الأضعف.
«تنظيف المخيّمات» عنوان يأتي دائماً بعد تأكيد الحرص على حياة الفلسطينيّين، «ولكن»… أو «غير أنّ»… استدراك ضروريّ لإطلاق العنان لإعلان الولع بأنواع معيّنة من المبيدات لأنواع معيّنة من البشر.
«الثأر» هو عنوان حفلة الجنون الأخرى. الزعيم يرفع راية الثأر في وجه الرئيس السوري، وجماهيره ترفعها في وجه الجمهور السوري. تقسيم «عادل» للعمل يتضمّن دائماً تحذير الزعيم من الانفعالات غير المنضبطة، حتّى لا تتأثّر صورته كركن من أركان التحوّل الديموقراطيّ وسيادة حقوق الإنسان.
بين حفلة جنون وأخرى، لا بدّ من إقناع الياس المرّ بأنّه ليس وزير دفاع الجيش الألماني، وأنّنا لسنا قبيل الحرب العالميّة الثانية.

May 28th, 2007, 11:28 am


t_desco said:


the statement could be genuine.

A “senior American security source” recently told The Sunday Times that “Al-Qaeda is trying very hard to seize a foothold in Syria”:

Al-Qaeda chief urges Iraqis to export jihad

THE deputy leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has urged supporters in Iraq to extend their “holy war” to other Middle Eastern countries.

In a letter sent to the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq in the past few weeks, Zawahiri claims that it is defeating US forces and urges followers to expand their campaign of terror.

He conjures a vision of an Islamic state comprising Lebanon, Palestine and Syria, where Al-Qaeda has already gained its first footholds.

The goal of an Islamic “greater Syria”, first outlined by Zawahiri two years ago, is detailed in the letter amid growing concern about the activities of new groups under Al-Qaeda’s influence in the countries concerned.

A senior American security source said he was aware of the letter and Al-Qaeda’s growing emphasis on spreading jihad through a volatile region.

The source said Zawahiri, a Sunni, was determined to prevent Lebanon falling into the hands of the Shi’ite Hezbollah movement, which has tried to bring down the government.

“Al-Qaeda is trying very hard to seize a foothold in Syria,” the American source added.
The Sunday Times

Note that the information about “Al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Suri” believed to have been arrested “in Syria” is probably wrong. Mustafa Setmariam Nasar was arrested in Pakistan and is now in Guantanamo (but perhaps there are several “Al-Qaeda leader’s” using that name?).

There seems to be a flurry of statements attributed to al-Qa’ida in recent days. This was reported by Ynetnews yesterday:

Al-Qaeda: Help Fatah al-Islam attack Israel

A statement attributed to al-Qaeda’s leadership has been released on the internet calling for “every Muslim” to support Fatah al-Islam, the Palestinian Islamist group engaged in a bloody conflict with Lebanese troops.

According to the statement, Fatah al-Islam is under attack in Lebanon because it is seeking “a confrontation” with Israel, and all Muslims are therefore obliged to support the group.

The message was released by the Global Islamic Media Front, an al-Qaeda mouthpiece which distributes statements by the international terror organization’s leaders and field commanders.

And today the New York Times published this important article detailing the modus operandi of al-Qa’ida linked networks in the region (including inside Syria):

Militants Widen Reach as Terror Seeps Out of Iraq

The article also shows, in my opinion, how important it would be to return to the kind of close cooperation with Syria in security matters that existed right after 9/11.

The following passage may be of interest for the Hariri case:

“In Somalia and Algeria, for example, recent suicide bombings have been accompanied by the release of taped testimonials by the bombers, a longtime terrorist practice embraced by insurgents in Iraq” (my emphasis).

After the recent suicide bombing in Algiers, the pictures of the three alledged bombers appeared on the Web almost immediately, together with a tape that was played on al-Jazeera.

In light of this, the quick release of the Abu Adass tape doesn’t seem so unusual anymore.

However, a word of caution – at least part of the reason why there are suddenly so many reports about al-Qa’ida in the region could be a deliberate shift in White House rhetorics, as Seymour Hersh noted recently:

“I do know that within the last month, maybe four, four-and-a-half weeks ago, they made a decision that because of the totally dwindling support for the war in Iraq, we go back to the al-Qaeda card, and we start talking about al-Qaeda. And the next thing you know, right after that, Bush went to the Southern Command — this was a month ago — and talked, mentioned al-Qaeda twenty-seven times in his speech. He did so just the other day this week — al-Qaeda this, al-Qaeda that.”
Interview on Democracy Now!, May 24th, 2007

Certainly related to this new PR strategy, yet also interesting:

Bush declassifies intelligence that asserts bin Laden ordered more attacks outside Iraq
AP, May 22, 2007

May 28th, 2007, 11:48 am


Atassi said:

Mabrook La Souria El Watan… by the popular demand and widely held opinions of your fellow Syrians, Souria El Watan has been sentenced to be oblivious, incompetent and liniment for seven more years …. Mabrook!!

May 28th, 2007, 2:30 pm


K said:


I don’t object to the gist of your statement. I do not support any particular party or leadership in Lebanon. And, to the extent of my abilities, I take it as my responsibility to resist sectarianism and backwardness within my own community. I am also a lifelong supporter of the Palestinian cause.

With that said, the Lebanese zu’ama, as toxic as they are, have never caused harm to Syria. They have allowed themselves to be used by Syria (and others) to cause harm to Lebanon and the Lebanese. They have robbed the Lebanese people in collaboration with the Syrian regime. They have never invaded Syria or shelled Damascus or armed surrogate militias to battle each other in Syrian streets or arrested hundreds of Syrians and dragged them to Lebanese dungeons, or any of the many, many Syrian crimes against Lebanon – ongoing.

May 28th, 2007, 3:06 pm


Ziad said:

K never call it syrian crimes ,say asad regime crimes against syrian,palestinian and lebanese people.
the first victims of their crimes are the syrian people.

May 28th, 2007, 4:03 pm


idaf said:


The Lebanese Zu’ama have done (and are still doing) a lot of harm to Syria and Syrians. I’ll give you few examples in the time on my hands (many more examples can be listed, and I’m sure that many can list some more):

The Lebanese Zu’ama are hysterically inciting their devout masses against anything Syrian and -historically as well as more recently- anything Palestinian. The end result is the barbaric murder of tens of Syrian and Palestinian civilians in the last 2 years (not to mention the “civil” war). Tens more have been robed, injured or abused in different inhumane manners.

The Lebanese Zu’ama were and still are coordinating with external powers that follow a declared agenda against the Syrian national interests (with an ultimate goal to harm Syria as much as possible, economically, militarily or even socially). Proclaiming that harming Syria is intended to hurt the regime, where in fact it only hurts the millions of ordinary Syrians (as the whole world has learned from Iraq). Examples on this:
Co-drafting and supporting the Syria Accountability Act (and continue to do so after Syria left Lebanon)
Begging the Europeans to harm Syrians economically by all possible means.

Moreover, I don’t think that Chirac asked Israel to attack Syria during the war last summer to advance French interest or out of the goodness of his heart. How much do you want to bet that this came under influence from his personal Lebanese Zu’ama friends?

Collaborating with the neo-cons in the US administration (hence indirectly with the Israelis) on how to harm Syria. Giving John Bolton the highest Lebanese Medal of Honor was not for the elegance of his mustache.

Funding Syrian fundamentalists (through their ex-master Khaddam) with the goal of destabilizing Syria (you can tell how I think about the MBs). I will not be surprised if more anti-Syria AlQaida-esque groups pop up soon through your Zu’ama funding.

Basically, many of the Lebanese war criminals (Zu’ama) would have driven forces to Damascus and slaughtered ordinary Syrians if they could (Junblat did beg the US to invade Syria publicly, didn’t he not?). Given their bloody history on their own kin, I argue that your Zu’ama’s onslaught on Syrians -if given a chance- would be even more inhumane and barbaric.

K, maybe you don’t support any of the Zu’ama, but how many other Lebanese think likewise.. honestly?
So, please quit your endless lectures to those Syrians who support Bashar for what they see as the “lesser evil” for their country at this moment of time. Bashar is definitely no worse than those war criminals in the M14 bunch with blood of tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians on their hands.
Here’s a thought K.. come to think of it, if we go with the rational “innocent until proven guilty” on Hariri, Bashar does not have anyone’s blood on his hand, compared to most of the Lebanese Zu’ama who repeatedly gloat with the blood of Lebanese and Palestinians they have on their hands.

May 28th, 2007, 5:45 pm


Ziad said:

Despite all its imperfections ,the lebanese liberal regime is the most respectable if compared to the neighbor monolothic regimes.

May 28th, 2007, 8:51 pm


Ziad said:

The qurdahian regime killed more palestinians than Israel.
The zionists have shown more dignity and respect towards the palestinians than the syrian regime and their lebanese allies.(under the cover and the green light after the tripartite deal between the qurdahians, israel and the usa).
So this regime is like a whore who speak in the name of dignity.
There is no difference between the syrian ,lebanese and palestinian blood.

May 28th, 2007, 8:59 pm


Ziad said:

I’m sure that the current debate in asad house is about the percentage of their last circus and what to say to the world more or less 97 % indeed ,they must be upset.

May 28th, 2007, 11:13 pm


ugarit said:

If you read the Hariri Lebanese press and the Saudi Arab press, you may get the impression that there is only one political prisoner in the Arab world: Michel Kilo. Almost every issue of Muhaq An-Nahar has something about human rights violations in Syria (and of course, it is obvious that the regime is tyrannical) and not a word about human rights violations in Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Tunisia, etc. But then again. Maybe they know something that I don’t know: maybe with the exception of Syria, Arab regimes are now functioning, exemplary democracies, of the kind that Mr. Bush constructed in Iraq.

May 28th, 2007, 11:41 pm


Enlightened said:

This article made made the hair on the back of my neck stand up!
An article about Iraqi refugees in Syria. Quite sad and appalling.

May 29th, 2007, 4:15 am


Ziad said:

Blair in Libya, Praises Kadhafi
Outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in Libya Tuesday on the first leg of a three-country African tour before he leaves office next month.

He touched down in Tripoli shortly after Libya announced that British energy giant BP was to sign a 900 million oil exploration deal with the state energy company.

Blair, who is due to meet Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, last visited the north African country in March 2004, three months after Tripoli announced it was abandoning a weapons of mass destruction program.

It was the first time a British prime minister had visited Libya since it became independent in 1951.

Speaking on board his plane before taking off for Tripoli Blair said he was on first name terms with the Libyan leader.

“I find him very easy to deal with,” he told reporters, describing his relationship with Kadhafi as “very good.” Asked about Kadhafi’s reputation for unpredictability, he added: “He’s not been mercurial.”

Blair said that ties between Britain and Libya had been “transformed” and that a visit 10 years ago would have been unthinkable.

Libya, which for years was subject to sanctions, renounced weapons of mass destruction in 2004, and Blair said the two countries were now cooperating well on business, as well as security issues.

On counter-terrorism, Blair said Libya has a vital role to play in combating the spread of extremism, including that of Al-Qaeda, adding that Kadhafi had made good his pledges since coming back into the international fold.

“Some of the information they have provided has been extremely valuable in combating terrorism,” he said.

During his trip to Libya Blair was expected to meet with the families of Libyan children suffering from AIDS, after a court ruled they were deliberately injected with HIV-tainted blood by foreign medics.

The medics — five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor — are on death row in Libya after being convicted of infecting 438 children at a hospital in Benghazi, 56 of whom have since died.

The West has appealed for clemency from Libya. “Our position is well known. But what we have to do is work with the Libyan authorities on this,” said Blair’s official spokesman.

After Libya, Blair was due to travel on to Sierra Leone and South Africa.(AFP-Naharnet)

May 29th, 2007, 3:06 pm


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