UN's Mid East Envoy Slams Isolation of Syria and UN Kowtowing to US. - Syria Comment

UN’s Mid East Envoy Slams Isolation of Syria and UN Kowtowing to US.

The Guardian reports on the manipulation of UN policies dealing with Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. It rests on a highly confidential report by Alvaro de Soto, the UN’s Middle East envoy, which the Guardian secured. They posted the report on their website here.

T_Desco has kindly pulled out all the paragraphs concerning Syria from the 54 page report in the last comment section.

In short, de Soto explains that he was denied permission to visit Syria or speak with Syrians, although this is not official UN policy. He was also denied important information on Lebanon and Syria from other UN offices. He argues that Syria is correct to see the UN as a partial agency whose good offices are manipulated by the US ("by the bidding of one or two permanent members of the Council"). This makes a mockery of international law and the purpose of the UN, he argues.

He concludes:

Does anyone seriously believe that a genuine process between Israel and the Palestinians can progress without Syria being either on board or, at the very least, not opposing it, and without opening some channel for addressing Syria’s grievances? If this should be attempted, we can be sure that a reminder of the Syrian capacity to spoil it wouldn’t be long in arriving.

T_Desco writes: Here are the paragraphs concerning Syria (I hope I didn’t miss anything):

End of Mission Report, May 2007

Alvaro de Soto

4. …
As soon as I was appointed I sought to visit all my interlocutors in their capitals, but I was told by USG/DPA that I should consult before traveling to either Lebanon or Syria. …
Notwithstanding my strenuous efforts, of which there is plenty of evidence in the DPA cables file, I was never authorized to go to Syria. None of my arguments in favour of going were ever refuted, nor was I given any precise reason for denial of the authorization requested.

Syria

99. There is an old saying that in the Middle East you can’t make war without Egypt and you can’t make peace without Syria. The first half is no longer valid, but I sense that the second remains true. For the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, keeping Syria at arm’s length is particularly galling. Those who advocate it seem to believe that it is possible to pursue an Israeli-Palestinian track while isolating Damascus. I know that that is the thinking; it has been made perfectly clear by the US Envoy, who reported to his Quartet colleagues that, in discussing the Arab initiative with the “Arab Quartet”, they put to them whether the Arabs would be prepared to reciprocate if Israel reached an agreement only with the Palestinians – as opposed to the comprehensive withdrawal from all occupied territory (including the Syrian Golan provided for in the Beirut agreement of 2002 as the requirement for gaining normalization with Arab countries). The Arab Quartet, we were told, had replied in the affirmative.

100. I am gobsmacked. If indeed they did reply in the affirmative, it must be because of a desire to tell their interlocutors what they want to hear. Such an approach would be highly divisive amongst the Arabs, and it could seriously undermine that Arab unity which is behind the Arab initiative and is one of its main attributes. I don’t believe they can seriously believe that it is possible to neatly compartmentalize the various fronts and deal with them sequentially, bestowing the favour of attention on well-behaving parties first.

101. In much the same way, does anyone seriously believe that a genuine process between Israel and the Palestinians can progress without Syria being either on board or, at the very least, not opposing it, and without opening some channel for addressing Syria’s grievances? If this should be attempted, we can be sure that a reminder of the Syrian capacity to spoil it wouldn’t be long in arriving.

102. The conventional wisdom is that Israel can’t handle more than one negotiation at a time. As recently as 27 April, in a piece in Haaretz titled “Why Syria must wait”, an Israeli ambassador wrote: “Few would dispute the assertion that the Israeli bridge is incapable of supporting two peace processes, a Syrian and a Palestinian one, at the same time.” I understand the political difficulties involved. But I believe it’s just not possible to completely disaggregate the two, or calmly wait for their turn with the occupier (take a number and have a seat in the waiting room until you are called, please), and that is why the Madrid conference was conceived as it was. This can’t be anything but one more layer of excuses not to negotiate. I note further that the Winograd Committee has criticized the Israeli establishment for its lukewarm attitude to trying to make peace with Syria (and Lebanon). Its interim report notes that Israel believed it enjoyed military superiority over its neighbours, and that, “given this analysis, there was no need to prepare for war, nor was there a need to energetically seek paths to stable and long-term agreements with our neighbours“. In the wake of the report, Olmert has declared that he will implement the Winograd recommendations and has mobilized the Cabinet energetically toward that end. There is, of course, an element of staying in power, but a key point to watch is whether implementation of the recommendations will include a change toward Syria and whether the US will allow it.

103. While, as I say, no one ever gave me a cogent reason why I should have shunned Damascus for two years, I sometimes hear on the grapevine the idea that, since the main business with Syria related to its role in Lebanon, and in particular the implementation of SCRs 1559 and, lately, 1701, it would be distracting if anyone from the UN were to talk to Syria about anything else. Let me record that, in two years, I received not one report of the meetings or work of the Special Envoy for SCR 1559, even though I was informed that he regularly received the material I shared with HQ, and I was aware that he had certain contacts with the Syrian government (as well as the Palestinian and Israeli ones, of course – which I usually learned about from them rather than the UN). He had a narrow and confined mandate. I had a broad and over-arching one. Were the UN’s house in order, EOSG and DPA would have ensured that the envoy charged with taking a broad view would have been kept fully abreast of the work of the one working on a narrower front. And it would not have been at all difficult for a well-briefed Special Coordinator, when in Damascus, to ensure that there were no crossed wires, and that nothing he said or did undermined the need to make progress on other fronts, or the vital work of colleagues.

104. Given my constant efforts, opposed by HQ, to ensure that the UN had a good channel to Syria on the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is ironic that on the eve of my departure, the US Secretary of State is meeting the Foreign Minister of Syria, and members of the Quartet are meeting Syria as one of the members of the follow-up committee of the Arab League Initiative, in Sharm el-Sheikh. The UN played little or no role in bringing this about, but I devoutly hope that we will no longer isolate Syria and ensure that whoever deals with the MEPP for the UN maintains a dialogue and relationship with Damascus. Sadly, I wouldn’t augur him/her a privileged relationship. Since we went along with the ostracism docilely when they were out in the cold, we are likely seen not as impartial good officers, but as fair-weather friends.

112. Similarly, there is no Security Council resolution prohibiting contact with the Government of Syria. Syria’s territory remains occupied in contravention of international law and Security Council resolutions, and the Security Council advocates a comprehensive settlement to the Middle East conflict – that between Israel and its neighbours – thus making an end to the occupation of Syrian territory part and parcel of such a comprehensive settlement. Given all these circumstances, the Syrian government, in light of the truncation of the exercise of the terms of reference of the UN “Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process”, might be forgiven for wondering whether the Secretary-General’s policy is inspired not by international law including Security Council resolutions but by the bidding of one or two permanent members of the Council. (Indeed, I wonder whether we have failed in our duty to the Council in briefing them every month on the conflict without ever consulting a key State party to it whose territory happens to be occupied.)

113. It almost goes without saying that the impression that both the PA government and that of Syria will have gathered – even though they might tell us the contrary – is not one favourable to their viewing the UN as a trusted interlocutor.

133. Israeli rejectionism extends also to Syria on which, echoing the US, Olmert has taken the position that Syria knows what it must do to prove that it is an acceptable negotiating partner, and insists on compliance, prior to any contact or negotiation, with goals that might be achieved precisely as a result of negotiations. Much is made of the fact that visitors to Syria have returned empty-handed. I wonder, do they seriously believe that Syria is going to give up negotiating cards outside of the framework of a negotiation – gratis? If I believed that, I would be insulting their intelligence. Powell’s quote (”You can’t negotiate when you tell the other side, ‘ Give us what a negotiation would produce before the negotiations start’“; §131) applies here as well, in spades. The Israelis wouldn’t do it – why would the Syrians?

The Guardian summarizes the de Soto report: See also this comment by Ian Williams.

The highest ranking UN official in Israel has warned that American pressure has “pummelled into submission” the UN’s role as an impartial Middle East negotiator in a damning confidential report. The 53-page “End of Mission Report” by Alvaro de Soto, the UN’s Middle East envoy, obtained by the Guardian, presents a devastating account of failed diplomacy and condemns the sweeping boycott of the Palestinian government. It is dated May 5 this year, just before Mr de Soto stepped down.

The revelations from inside the UN come after another day of escalating violence in Gaza, when at least 26 Palestinians were killed after Hamas fighters launched a major assault. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, head of the rival Fatah group, warned he was facing an attempted coup.

Mr. de Soto condemns Israel for setting unachievable preconditions for talks and the Palestinians for their violence. Western-led peace negotiations have become largely irrelevant, he says.

Comments (57)


Akbar Palace said:

Mr. de Soto condemns Israel for setting unachievable preconditions for talks and the Palestinians for their violence. Western-led peace negotiations have become largely irrelevant, he says.

Why is a cessation of violence and recognition of Israel unachievable? Maybe Mr. de Soto knows something we don’t know;)

And if “American pressure has “pummelled into submission” the UN’s role as an impartial Middle East negotiator”, why does the UN waste so much time bashing Israel?

I think most people recognize the United Nations is a defunct agency. They can’t protect anyone, but they sure get paid well.

June 14th, 2007, 10:49 am

 

ugarit said:

Akbar Palace asks:

“Why is a cessation of violence and recognition of Israel unachievable? Maybe Mr. de Soto knows something we don’t know;)”

He knows that Israel would re-instigate violence to block any cessations by the Palestinians. He also knows that recognizing Israel by the Palestinians would be a threat to the expansionist ideals of Israel.

And if “American pressure has “pummelled into submission” the UN’s role as an impartial Middle East negotiator”, why does the UN waste so much time bashing Israel?

Because there are still good people in the UN that know the horrors that Israel brings to the Palestinians.

June 14th, 2007, 11:21 am

 

norman said:

T_ Desco, Thank you.

June 14th, 2007, 12:49 pm

 

Zenobia said:

as i said on the last post, this line from the UN envoy is totally fascinating ….

June 14th, 2007, 1:20 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

ugarit said:

He knows that Israel would re-instigate violence to block any cessations by the Palestinians.

Only in your mind. Hezbollah (backed by Syria) re-instigated violence against Israel causing the war last year. Similarly, Hamas re-instigated Qassam attacks against Israel after they completely withdrew from Gaza.

He also knows that recognizing Israel by the Palestinians would be a threat to the expansionist ideals of Israel.

Only in the “negative reality” world of rejectionists and fanatics is Israel’s withdraw of the Sinai, Lebanon, Gaza and areas of the West Bank considered “expansionist ideals”.

Because there are still good people in the UN that know the horrors that Israel brings to the Palestinians.

And of course, there are no horrors that the Palestinians bring to the Israelis or even to their own people. Again, the Palestinians do not seem to be responsible for anything they do. Quite a advantageous position to be in when walking the halls of the “pummelled” UN.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/mideastconflictisrael;_ylt=AtsezWlRYwmhawR7Llu4UyjlWMcF

June 14th, 2007, 3:59 pm

 

Atassi said:

With the drastic escalations we are witnessing on the Lebanese and palstination stages, I would hope, the Isolation will not upgrade to something more…. Man, the devil has moved to area, The DEVIL has a plan to send the whole area to HELL …

June 14th, 2007, 4:14 pm

 

Observer said:

Those that believed that the UN was created for the international community are essentially delusional. The League of nations and the UN with the make of the SC at present is nothing more than a forum for the colonial and post colonial powers to divide the world without going at each other with canons and missiles. The general assembly is nothing more than a safety valve to allow the rabble to voice their unheard voices while the SC takes resolutions that are selectively enforced according to the intersts of the big powers. The president of Iran is essentially in agreement with those of the Israeli right that think that the UN is irrelevant albeit for different reasons.

June 14th, 2007, 4:44 pm

 

K said:

SYRIAN STOOGE GLOATS OVER MURDER
(from Angry Arab)

NBN-TV: heard on live TV. NBN-TV (owned by Nabih Birri, speaker of the Lebanese parliament) is now embarrassed. It was revealed in An-Nahar, and today was aired on Al-Arabiya TV. Apparently, yesterday, while airing footage of the reactions to Walid `Idu’s assassination, the anchorwoman of NBN-TV, Sawsan Al-Abtah Darwish, was heard on the air saying “it is high time” in reference to the murder of `Idu. Another voice could be heard saying: “We should not gloat.” She then said: “But they have driven us to be fed up.” She then said: “And now there is still Fatfat.” Fatfat is now suing NBN, and he said that he will notify the UN Hariri investigating team. Birri claimed that he took administrative steps against the anchorwoman.

June 14th, 2007, 5:11 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

Mr. de Soto agrees in spirit and in content with the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the Road Map [to nowhere] whose stinging report (I believe it was late last year) was _buried_. RIP.

I believe even James Wolfensohn (Clinton-appointed World Bank President), who served as Quartet special coordinator after Sharon evacuated Gaza had much the same to say. Also RIP.

It certainly explains the UN’s obsession with the Hariri tribunal, ignoring the long list of UN resolutions chastising Israel (again, RIP).

But what nation puts itself on trial, anyway, outsourcing its own problems to the Security Council?

June 14th, 2007, 5:39 pm

 

idaf said:

K,

“Syrian Stooge”, “Saudi Stooge” “American Stooge”, “French Stooge” or “Israeli Stooge”, your Lebanese fellow citizens have been gloating over each others slaughter for decades. This is no specialty of “Syria’s stooges” in Lebanon. Here’s one more example for you on Lebanese “Israeli stooges” gloating over butchering fellow Lebanese: “Kill Them! Kill Everyone! All of Them!”. In another example, I called a (Sunni) Lebanese colleague of mine in Beirut (a Lebanese “Saudi stooge”) to make sure that he was safe when the war erupted last summer and to my utter shock, his response when I asked on the phone if his family and friends are OK was to gloat: “they are only killing the shia” (with a satanic laugh). His response made me sick to my stomach back then, but was another good eye-opener on how the Lebanese “people” minds work.

A Lebanese historian friend of mine who works for the UN keeps telling me: “we Lebanese have a 30-35 years cycle of recurring civil wars: late 1800, 1930s, 1950s, 1970s.. it’s about time”. Is it really about time? I sincerely hope not for the sake of Lebanon and Syria, but I fear that people like you, this anchorwoman and the Lebanese media might as well be expediting the next cycle with such reactions to each others misery.

Instead of you gloating over the fact that it was a “Syrian stooge” this time around, I advise you to focus on working to change this pathetic state of inhumanity that prevails in your diseased country (among all sects). That would be more constructive and beneficial to Lebanon.

K, my comments might be harsh, but this only stems from my sincere hope for the wellbeing of Lebanon in the future. It just makes me sick every time I see people in Lebanon act this way. What your Zu’ama have done to generation after generation in your country seems irreparable.

June 14th, 2007, 6:11 pm

 

K said:

Idaf,

I share most of your critique of Lebanese society. And I do indeed work on improving Lebanon. I do not support any of the zu’ama; I am a supporter of March 14, the movement for Lebanese liberation and renewal. What I ask from Syria is to back off so we can work on our problems.

Lebanon was under Syrian and Israeli occupation not too long ago. Under these repressive conditions, there was no means available to address Lebanon’s problems and fix them. Those of us who appreciate freedom, free press, liberal social values, peace, and who like to participate meaningfully in civil society, had no choice but to emigrate.

I didn’t dream it would be liberated from either occupation in my lifetime. 2000 was a year of liberation, and 2005 was another year of liberation, and many Lebanese (at least the 1 million who demonstrated on March 14, and certainly more) experienced genuine hope that this was a special moment of opportunity for renewal of Lebanese society and politics.

But the bitter Syrian regime would rather bathe Lebanon in blood and terror than allow it to experience freedom, and we are presently living its relentless campaign of intimidation and murder. I have no love for Israel – a racist, militaristic, colonialist state – and its war on Lebanon was savage and criminal. But I blame Hizballa, and its Iranian-Syrian masters for that unnecessary war – just another example of foreign forces using Lebanon as a battlefield for their own wars.

So, before any Syrian can pontificate to Lebanon, first refrain from brutalizing our country. And second, fix your own country. (Hint: A good first step is to overthrow the tyrannical Ba’thist regime.)

Idaf, with these 2 concepts in mind – Syria’s contribution to, exacerbation of, and manipulation of Lebanese internal problems; and the sorry state of Syria itself – I ask you to please reread, and reconsider, your “harsh” (to put it politely) words:

> another good eye-opener on how the Lebanese “people” minds work

> this pathetic state of inhumanity that prevails in your diseased country

June 14th, 2007, 7:01 pm

 

t_desco said:

Al-Akhbar on Ahmed Merhi and Syrian intelligence (quoting the usual anonymous sources). Abu Khalid al-`Amlah is said to have participated directly in the process that led to the founding of Fatah al-Islam. (BTW, is he still in prison?)

Aluminum powder

The SPIEGEL reports (in German) that the bomb that killed Walid Eido was made of 80 kg of TNT, plastic explosives and aluminum powder.

Some days ago, Al-Akhbar reported that 500 kg of aluminum powder had been confiscated in raids on Fatah al-Islam apartments in Tripoli. Al-Hayat added some details on the chemical composition of the powder.

But perhaps this kind of aluminum powder is just a common ingredient of such explosives?

June 14th, 2007, 8:05 pm

 

idaf said:

K,

Let’s agree on the following facts here:

Syria is not the only one that should “back off”. It’s merely one player among many on the Lebanese stage who possess “stooges” and “cronies”. Israel, France, Saudi and the US each have as many and as brutal puppets in Lebanon (among your M14 movement as well). Even if the regime in Syria was as peaceful as possible towards Lebanon, this wouldn’t have stopped Syria’s rivals from exploiting the sectarian and Zaiim systems in Lebanon against Syria (a proved effective method even before the Baath took power). This has been ongoing long before Syrian forces went into Lebanon

Blaming Syria and only Syria for each and every bad thing that takes place in Lebanon will logically invite many of its brutal rivals to use terror to frame Syria. If Syria did commit some of the assassinations that took place in the last 2 years, then I have no doubt that many of them were also committed by some of its rivals as well. This is simply common sense (As one example, Israel continuously gloats on its numerous successful car bombs assassinations in Lebanon in the last 3 decades, hence its fully capable and has the motive).

To put it simply and bluntly, Syria is Lebanon’s neighbor. It is not a week country. It’s resourceful, stable and has claws. Regardless if we like it or not, if Syria feels a slight threat from Lebanese Zu’ama on its stability (whether as a country or as a regime) it will mobilize its allies in Lebanon to counter them (sometimes its allies will move on their own to protect their interest and relationship with their patron as the rest of other countries’ allies do in Lebanon). These have been facts in the last century and the international relations teachings suggest that they will stay the same forever. Recent history suggests that this will keep happening as long as some Lebanese Zu’ama keep working against Syrian interests with Syria’s rivals (ie. Israel, US ..etc). This will keep happening regardless if the regime in Syria was Bathist, religious or democratic.

The only 2 ways I see for sustainable peace to prevail in Lebanon are (1) that the Lebanese people work as vehemently as possible to get rid of these sectarian and Zaiim systems that’s eating the country from the inside. This will be more effective for Lebanese stability than Syrians changing their regime or its behavior. (2) the other way is if the whole Israeli-Arab conflict is settled. Both are extremely hard targets to achieve, so I have little hope for the near future for Lebanon sustained stability unfortunately. Way too many external players have interests to keep the chaos going on, each for their own interest.

You claim to have the free press in Lebanon (I honestly have my doubts). You have the freedom to form parties and civil society movements. Use these to extort this sectarian Zaiim mentality form your society instead of using your energy to try to patch up one of the consequences of this system.

June 14th, 2007, 8:21 pm

 

Observer said:

The definition of insanity is the repetition of a process that has clearly failed. Or so said Einstein. I look at the situation in the Arab world today and clearly there is total insanity: Fatah lost the elections but refuses to share in power and they are surprised that they were routed by Hamas; Lebanon suffers a huge criminal war last summer and people blame Syria and Iran for the criminal behavior of Olmer-Bush-Blair; Iraq is in disintegration but we should be grateful that a consitution has been bestowed upon it ( meant to allow free exploitation of oil ); Kurds think that they can achieve independence when they are land locked in the worst neighborhood in the world ( after the DMZ in Korea ); Saudi Arabia’s ruling family so desperate for any stability they are willing to have an alliance with the devil; Syria talks modernity of the economy when it has reverted to 19th century family rule; Turkey wants to join the EU when the Europe was founded on the defining of the other ( mainly the Turk/Moor/Heretic )
In his first state of the Union speech President Bush uttered a phrase that is much more ominous than the axis of evil one: he said we will create dissention and strife among their ranks and cause many an internal conflict to erupt. That is exactly what is happening today.

June 14th, 2007, 8:29 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

K,
I read with respect your response to Idaf and I can’t agree more with many of your thoughts.

As an originally half Syrian half Lebanese person, split between two courtiers until reconciled into my proud US nationality, I would like to comment while wearing my dusty Syrian hat.

As a Syrian, I am furious and livid by the damage done to Syria and the Syrian people by the Lebanese corruption machine. Of course, no one is to blame here but some Syrians, but the amount of cash that had flown into Syrian hands from the Lebanese corruption engine is sickening and sad.

Most remember the days when Lebanese called on the Syrians for everything. You have a score to settle with your neighbor? Pay a Syrian officer and problem solved. You have a problem winning elections in Lebanon? Pay Syrians dearly and get the 2000 Election law. Want a favor from Khaddam? Get him and his family a Saudi citizenship. Lebanese and Syrians alike remember the bidding wars that went on to get Kanaan to be a friend of this group or that sect.

I further dare to say, as I have said it before, that Lebanon is one of the main reasons why the Ba’ath has lasted as it did in Syria. Without the money that was shipped to Syria, the Ba’athists would have crumbled under their own irresponsible and backward agenda. Investigators and prosecutors usually follow the money trail to find the head of the snake. We know where the money started and we know where it ended. If it wasn’t lucrative for Syrian officers to remain in Lebanon, they would not have stayed.

These are the facts that pain patriotic Syrians (I am selfishly and arrogantly counting myself as one of them). While I was elated and vindicated by the millions who marched for independence and freedom, the sour taste returned immediately when we, patriotic Syrians, saw the same hapless faces leading the freedom march. Things just don’t add up.

I believe that the same minds that created and participated in the perpetual corruption machine that maintained Syrian control over Lebanon cannot be the minds that will liberate Lebanon.

Again, I agree with most but appreciate all of your thoughts.

June 14th, 2007, 8:50 pm

 

Observer said:

For a change
Samir Ja3ja3, fed up with the persistence of the
> opposition in Lebanon,
> >started praying daily at church for the elimination
> of Hizbollah, hoping
> >that Jesus Christ would answer his prayers. After a
> whole week of praying,
> >his prayers are not answered.
> >
> >So, he started praying again hoping that Mar Maroun
> would answer his
> >prayers. After a whole week of praying, his prayers
> are not answered
> >either.
> >
> >The Patriarch happened to be in church so Ja3ja3
> runs to him madly shaking
> >his head and asks him: “I prayed and prayed and
> prayed… Please tell me
> >why Jesus Christ and Mar Maroun are NOT answering
> my prayers?!”
> >
> >The Patriarch says: “Of course; neither will answer
> your prayers because
> >one is Palestinian and the other is Syrian”.

June 14th, 2007, 9:11 pm

 

Alex said:

K,

I hope you agree that it is not either/or … Lebanon might be heading towards another form of civil war and the “reasons” are probably “all of the above” plus few more.

Is there a way out? can “Lebanon” move direction? or be allowed to move direction?

Looking for those who are responsible for today’s troubles is useful if you use that information to try to find solutions, and not to try to design punishments.

I believe the problems with “Lebanon” are more basic:

1) “Lebanon” changed a lot … and there is no easy way to adopt a new definition of the country without resorting to the use of power (violence), or without the reliance on external powers to force one side’s preferences at the expense of others’ desires.

2) No matter how much it changes, Lebanon will always be pushed to remain within Syria’s sphere of influence, oushed by the Syrian regime, its allies in Lebanon (half the Lebanese people?), by the Syrian people themselves, or by natural forces …

I know you think this is outrageous … and I understand the unnecessarily excessive role Syria played in Lebanon the past decade (after the civil war was well under control) is partly to blame, but if you want to help your country be functional, peaceful, prosperous, and independent … take a much more balanced approach to your relations with Syria. Forget the past and try to live with a balanced compromise between being occupied by Syria, and between being obsessed with punishing and eliminating Syria’s role in Lebanon altogether.

3) International political games are played in the weaker smaller countries where it is “safe” to mess up everything… that means that as long as the Middle East is still living everyday the ongoing competition between the United States’ camp on the one hand, and the Syria/Iran camp on the other, Lebanon, and Palestine can expect continued chaos.

It is a big mistake for the different Lebanese to continue to be excited about playing those power games … despite the western “support for the Seniora government” … there is no support for Lebanon … American position during last summer’s war was clear enough.

Forget the Syrian regime, you can manage a healthy relation with Syria, with or without the Syrian regime in power. Waiting for outsiders or the Syrian people to overthrow the Syrian regime does not look like a good strategy.

Syria WILL be democratic .. but only when the Syrian people have the urge to demonstrate in the Streets of Damascus like the Lebanese did when they really wanted Syria out of Lebanon.

I will tell you what my mother’s aunt just told me when I asked her about Bashar’s popularity among th Christians (she is Christian): she said “he is very popular … the more they attack him in Lebanon the more Syrians stand by him”

If you love Lebanon .. leave the Syrian regime alone and let others (Saudi Arabia, Israel, the US, Jordan … ) try to work on the case.

If your M14 politicians and Journalists do get off the back of “the Syrian tyrannical regime”, and if you honestly believe there is a way to find a compromise for Lebanon that satisfies everyone from Amin Gemayel and Geagea and Jumblatt, to Aoun and Nasrallah and Frangieh, to the Sunni extremists in Tripoly … then Lebanon will be in great shape.

The Syrians learned lessons from the past, they do not want total hegemony over Lebanon anymore, and they know the Lebanese people (even the Hizbollah supporters) do not want them to go back to the old ways of Khaddam and Ghazi Kanaan.

Forget the past and let Syrians worry about their own form of government… the same way we Syrians do not have expectations from Israel to elect a labor party and not a Likudist before we negotiate with them about the future of the area.

June 14th, 2007, 9:26 pm

 

shimron Issachar said:

Is it just the way of things that Syria must dominate Lebanon? Or are the assasinations just a call to get thew world’s attention?

What is better for the Lebanese people:
To be occupied by Syria?
to be Annexed by Syria?
to be subverted by Syria?
to be a docile small brother of Syria?

June 14th, 2007, 9:49 pm

 

K said:

Idaf, Ford Prefect, Alex,

Thanks for your responses.

> the other way is if the whole Israeli-Arab conflict is settled.

I really hope for this option, and objectively, it might be the only option. All the problems are interrelated, so there must be a grand solution. 1) If Syria regained the Golan as part of a deal with Israel it might relinquish some interest in Lebanon, and might also relax its internal repression. 2) Lebanon can’t handle the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees. They must leave, some to present-day Israel, most to present-day Palestine, and the rest to other countries willing to take them. 3) Lebanon must sign a treaty with Israel, along with the other Arabs. This would free us to work on restructuring our flawed system and repairing our society.

> As a Syrian, I am furious and livid by the damage done to Syria
> and the Syrian people by the Lebanese corruption machine.

Here is the best article on the subject:
http://www.meforum.org/article/769

“More than one Syrian commentator has lamented that it was Lebanon that corrupted Syria…”

June 14th, 2007, 10:09 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Wow I dissapear for two days and some real dialogue, without the usual sniping, what a difference a coherent argument makes!

I like some of you have both Lebanese and Syrian heritage 9through marriage) I echo a lot of the sentiments that were stated above.
Lebanon needs to rid itself of its Zaims and the patronage system , it is destructive.

Alex welcome back how was your break?

June 14th, 2007, 11:34 pm

 

Alex said:

Thank you Enlightened. It was a break from here, but there was no break.

And thank you Norman too (earlier!)

I forgot to mention that my father’s first cousin has been a Lebanese MP for Zahleh since the 70’s

I think the madness in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq can only mean that all the sides are frustrated with the status quo … since they don’t know how to talk to each other, they are communicating this way … they are speaking the same common Mideast language, but now they are raising their voices louder.

They are still in the “you think you can hurt me? I can hurt you too” stage… when they are done convincing each other how tough they all are, and if it does not explode in their face, they will be ready to sit down and talk … not too far in the future hopefully.

June 15th, 2007, 4:06 am

 

MSK said:

Dear all,

in the spirit of a calm discussion, I suggest this article as an example for good, non-hysterical journalism:

“Lebanon’s Agony”
Max Rodenbeck

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/20311

–MSK*

June 15th, 2007, 7:10 am

 

Enlightened said:

MSK;

Good article i wouldnt have caalled it Lebanons agony, Lebanons Hari Kiri would have been more apt.

June 15th, 2007, 8:01 am

 

why-discusss said:

Lebanese press is as “free” as the US press: financed by political or business figures who use it to accuse, counter-accuse, carry rumours of ‘informed sources’ or turning into Agatha Christie. Ultimately it is pouring oil on fire. It is pathetically primitive, and it is called “free”.

June 15th, 2007, 10:25 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Mr. Landis,

Who is perpertrating all the political assassinations in Lebanon?

Isn’t it obvious to you that this is the covert version of “Hama Rules” as Thomas Friedman called them?

For how long will you resist having your objective opinion from being voiced?

Is it really not obvious to you?

Honest Patriot

June 15th, 2007, 3:30 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Honest Patriot:

Who is perpertrating all the political assassinations in Lebanon?

Isn’t it obvious…

Dear Honest Patriot,

We have already concluded that political assassinations are OK if prepetrated by other Arabs (because Arab murderers are never responsible for anything they do).

I would focus on more important matters, like how to stop Israeli aggression.

June 15th, 2007, 3:51 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Who is perpertrating all the political assassinations in Lebanon?

I know that Isreal will benefit from all arab fighting,in Iraq Lebanon,or occupied palastine

June 15th, 2007, 5:18 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Akbar Palace,
Now you are making sense. Keep it up.

June 15th, 2007, 5:48 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

We have already concluded that political assassinations are OK if prepetrated by other Arabs (because Arab murderers are never responsible for anything they do).

Hmmm Akbar isn’t that a little racist comment. You do not like equal comments about Jews so why do you do make such comments about Arabs. Jews have made their share of political and other assassinations and only a fragment of of those murders are in prison.

How many Jews have faced the legal responsibility of their massacres in Palestine? How long prison terms have those IDF soldiers got, who have shot Palestinian children and internal observers by “mistake”? How long prison terms have those got who have made “targeted” killings but missed the target and have killed hundreds of innocent bystanders during the failed attempts?

The most “amusing” chapter in this responsibility topic is Iraq. In Iraq the anglo american “democracy helpers and WMD seekers” have impunity as we know. We have also read hundreds of newspaper articles how soldiers and mercenaries shot everything that is moving and even sometimes for “sport”. Some days ago there was an interesting news how the anglo american justice system sees the matter of responsibility and human rights with Arabs.

Such laws only applied to people held in custody by British troops, the House of Lords affirmed, refusing to extend that protection to those injured or killed by British soldiers on the streets of Iraq.

The issue arose in the case of six Iraqis who were killed by British troops in southern Iraq in separate incidents in 2003. The case was brought by the families of the victims.

The Lords upheld lower court rulings that human rights protections applied in the case of Baha Mousa, a Basra hotel clerk who died after being beaten while in British custody.

Seems that it is OK to kill Iraqis without no legal responsibility if they are not in “custody”. Seems also that the US and GB soldiers and mercenaries are “outside” the laws of their own countries. Israelis have certainly even a much more liberal view with the legal responsibility as their allies.

What did Abkar those your mental cousins write in the tombstones in the Muslim graveyard they desecrated some days ago? ‘Death to the Arabs’ and ‘Arab sons of bitches’ if you do not remember. How long prison terms and fines will those civilized, educated, tolerant “demonstrators” get? Zero days in prison and zero shekels I bet.

June 15th, 2007, 8:30 pm

 

t_desco said:

Fatah al-Islam directly linked to Saudi al-Qa’ida:

Saudi arrests are effort against Web jihad

Earlier this month, the official Saudi Press Agency reported that the Ministry of the Interior had “arrested three people involved in promoting deviant thoughts through the Internet to undermine the security of the country.”

It identified two of those arrested as Saudis who had used the online aliases Abu Aseed al-Falluji and Abu Abdallah al-Najdi. It said the third man — who was not identified — was a foreigner arrested in Medina and was responsible for the publication of the online jihadist magazine Sada al-Jihad, or “Echoes of Jihad.”

According to SITE, al-Falluji was one of the administrators of the Eklhaas forum, an online, password-protected chat room which it described as “one of the leading jihadist message boards which release primary source information, propaganda, and training manuals from established jihadist groups like al-Qaida.”

Both the SITE analysis and the Saudi Press Agency report stressed that al-Falluji’s role was not limited to cyberspace.

“He had an important role extending beyond the media aspects to operations planned by members of the deviant thought (group) inside the homeland and abroad,” read the Saudi Press Agency Report.

SITE said al-Falluji “acted as the liaison for jihadist groups needing to communicate with each other … provid(ing) an important layer of security between the strategists with al-Qaida in Afghanistan and the leaders of jihadist groups in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and elsewhere,” including the recently prominent Fatah al-Islam group in northern Lebanon.
UPI

“These individuals relied heavily on the existence of jihadist messageboards, specifically the Ekhlaas forum,2 to coordinate their activities. The Ekhlaas forum, a password-protected messageboard established in early 2003, is one of the leading jihadist messageboards which release primary source information, propaganda, and training manuals from established jihadist groups like al-Qaeda. In particular, the relationship between the Ekhlaas forum and al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia is very strong, as the forum itself was founded by a member of al- Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, Walid bin Muhammad Al-Sama’ani. Al-Sama’ani’s jihad was not limited to cyberspace; he was killed along with 14 others in an April 2005 firefight with Saudi security forces in al-Rass, northwest of Riyadh. However, the death of al-Sama’ani did not stop the growth of the Ekhlaas forum.

It was through the Ekhlaas messageboard, and others, that one of the recently arrested individuals, Abu Aseed al-Falluji, acted as the liaison for jihadist groups needing to communicate with each other. By using websites as clandestine meeting places to exchange information, Al-Falluji provided an important layer of security between the strategists with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and the leaders of jihadist groups in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and elsewhere. For example, as Fatah al-Islam was establishing itself in north Lebanon, Al- Falluji helped facilitate the group’s communication with jihadists outside the country.

Background of Online Jihadists Arrested in Saudi Arabia
SITE Institute

(my emphasis)

Equally interesting:

“The Rise of Fatah al-Islam”
SITE Institute

June 15th, 2007, 9:00 pm

 

bilal said:

please go to this address and see what is Bashar & Co. are doing. This will say exactly how they think.

June 15th, 2007, 9:46 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

majedkhaldoun said:

Who is perpertrating all the political assassinations in Lebanon?

Let’s take a guess!

I know that Isreal will benefit from all arab fighting,in Iraq Lebanon,or occupied palastine

Israel doesn’t benefit from arab fighting.

June 15th, 2007, 10:28 pm

 

ugarit said:

What benefit does the Syrian regime receive by the assassination of Walid `Idu? In what sense was Walid `Idu “anti-Syrian”?

I still don’t understand why Rafiq Hariri was a threat to Syria?

June 15th, 2007, 11:08 pm

 

ugarit said:

http://home.nestor.minsk.by/jazz/news/2007/06/1502.html

“‘ASR Records Recording Artist, Doug Pierce is performing at the Jazz Lives in Syria festival from July 2nd through July 12th at Damascus and Aleppo Syria. Prof. Pierce is one of the featured artists and soloists performing with the Syrian/Swiss Jazz Orchestra under the direction of the talented trombonist and arranger, Amadis Dunkel.”

June 15th, 2007, 11:11 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Bilal

The anchor woman is a lowlife, and represents the lowest form of human life, this episode disgusts me and makes me sick in the stomach, and is part of a deep malaise in Lebanese and Arab society.

This will episode truly shows Nabih Berris character if he doesnt fire her!

June 15th, 2007, 11:35 pm

 

norman said:

AP ,
I have a question for you ,
Would an Israeli Jew lose his privileges if he changes his religion to Christianity or Islam .?
One other question ,
How do you know that the Palestinians Christians and Muslims were not Israelites who changed their religion with coming of Christianity and Islam and why it is permissible for these to lose their privileges , As you know when Christianity and Islam spread in Palestine settlers did not come from other areas , people just change religion and mostly the poor people.

June 16th, 2007, 12:25 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Norman has thoughts of circumventng the “Elders of Zion”:

AP,

I have a question for you , Would an Israeli Jew lose his privileges if he changes his religion to Christianity or Islam .?

Israeli Muslims, Christians and Jews have the same “privileges” as well as citizenship. Sort of like what we have here in the United States.

You must be thinking of some other country.

BTW – What “privileges” do Jews have in Muslim countries?

One other question, How do you know that the Palestinians Christians and Muslims were not Israelites who changed their religion with coming of Christianity and Islam and why it is permissible for these to lose their privileges , As you know when Christianity and Islam spread in Palestine settlers did not come from other areas , people just change religion and mostly the poor people.

I have no way to prove if some Jew today has Israelite ancestry from 2000 years ago, or if some Palestinian today has Philistine ancestry or Canaanite ancestry or if some Christian today has Nazerite ancestry. Frankly, I don’t find it very important.

I still don’t know what “privleges” you are talking about. Please clarify.

(this form IS entertaining, don’t you think?)

June 16th, 2007, 1:46 am

 

norman said:

Israeli jews have more rights than non Israeli ones , related to aids to people who can go and join the Israeli army.Isn’t that right.?

June 16th, 2007, 2:13 am

 

norman said:

Christians do not have priveleges in Muslim countries either.except in Syria.

June 16th, 2007, 2:15 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

Norman,

What exactly are the so-called Privileges of Christians in Syria? Aren’t they excluded from the Presidency? Oh yes, Hafez just did to appease the Moslem fundamentalists right? Please explain those privileges. Surely, you could not be referring to their right to attend their Sunday morning church services. Are these the privileges that you are referring to? Some of my Christian friends sure don’t feel exactly privileged.

June 16th, 2007, 2:59 am

 

norman said:

Ehsani,
We are treated as equal in Syria , so except for the presidency Syrian Christians have the same rights as everybody else , we are happy not to be slaves like the Christians in Egypt , Saudi Arabia and Jordon. we can go to the universities open businesses , we are safe more than in American protected Iraq or AP, Israel. So please stop spreading rumors the enemy of Syria spread about the persecution of Christians in Syria , tell me about the chance of a black or a Hispanic of being a president in the US , some people feel that Kennedy was a mistake. not to mention a Muslim , Christians are treated a lot better in Syria than Muslims in the US and other western democratic countries.

June 16th, 2007, 3:27 am

 

norman said:

Ehsani ,
By the way your Christian friends who complain about Syria do not deserve to be Christian Syrian Arabs and can go somewhere else.
Real Christian Syrians want the best for Syria no matter who the president is . Maybe one day you can change the rule about the presidency.

June 16th, 2007, 3:34 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

A black or Hispanic is not barred from becoming a US President by the country’s own constitution. A Syrian Christian IS.

My Christian friends want to be treated as equal and not like third class citizens.

June 16th, 2007, 3:35 am

 

norman said:

We are not treated as third class citizens for your information.
Most Christians are very happy in Syria and they Love Bashar Assad ,Remember we think Syria first not Christian first and that what makes us or most of us different from the rest of the people who are trying to enrich themselves by being in power.

June 16th, 2007, 3:58 am

 

DJ said:

Ehsani,
With all due respect, you are not making any sense..

First of all, Christians in Syria are embraced by the whole population, and it is well known that they are NOT treated like ‘third class citizens’.
Actually it is the other way around, let me tell you this, when I was at the university (that was 8 years ago, so my example is more novel than yours), I was in a work group with 3 other students, two Muslims like me and one Christian. The experience was rich and eye opening. when the project started, we initially were cautious with each word or action not to offend our Christian partner unintentionally, specially that he was form different province (Al Hasake). Our cautions turned out to be false. He didn’t need to assimilate, he was fit right from the beginning. The imaginary religious barrier has fallen from the first session…
Do you know Al Jala’ club in Aleppo? The one that used to be called Shabibeh? If you know them, then you’d know what portion of the Aleppine population they represent.
Let me tell you this, when their basketball team played in one of the tournaments here in Dubai last January, the bleachers were packed with Syrians from all walks of life. You could pretty much say that the Syrian national team itself was playing. The whole crowd were shouting “Misho” ..”Misho” (The nickname of the talented player Micheal Ma’adinly) … and I am telling you, this Misho guy has more fans amongst Aleppine Muslim girls than he has amongst Christian girls…

Now how about that for religious integration? 🙂

June 16th, 2007, 5:37 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Israeli Muslims, Christians and Jews have the same “privileges” as well as citizenship. Sort of like what we have here in the United States.

Are you joking Akbar? That is pure bullshit propaganda that Israel is an equal society. Not even you believe what you are writing. If Israel would be a secular, equal state it would not call her self as the Jewish state. Teudat Zehut (Israeli ID card) has information about the religion and it determines how you are treated.

Comparing to USA would be have some relevance if we would live in the 1940’s.

You must be thinking of some other country.

There is no other country like Israel since South Africa turned the course.

I have no way to prove if some Jew today has Israelite ancestry from 2000 years ago, or if some Palestinian today has Philistine ancestry or Canaanite ancestry or if some Christian today has Nazerite ancestry. Frankly, I don’t find it very important.

I still don’t know what “privleges” you are talking about. Please clarify.

Well how do you then “prove” that Israel is the promised land for Jews if the ancestry is not important? Wikipedia’s definition who is a Jew is very interesting. Not surprising that you Akbar do not consider this question as “important”.

Can I for example became to be a Jew if I choose Judaism? Is it then possible move to Israel and get automatically the citizenship and later in Israeli style rob some land from the occupied areas from some poor gentiles and get the states tax relief?

June 16th, 2007, 6:38 am

 

K said:

Many Arab Christians suffer from inferiority complexes vis-a-vis their Muslim countrymen. For this reason, they feel the need to be “more Catholic than the Pope” – more militant than the Muslims – to prove to themselves, and to Muslims, that their loyalty is assured. They also tend to favore the ideologies of Arab Nationalism because this gives them a common bond with Muslim Arabs that is not based in Islam.

June 16th, 2007, 6:42 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

Dear DJ,

Please explain to me why they are excluded from the highest office in politics by the country’ own constitution? Were Misho or his children to decide to run for President one day, they will not be able to based on their religion, no?

June 16th, 2007, 12:15 pm

 

DJ said:

Dear Ehsani2,
You want me to be in the shoes of the legislator who has forged the constitution some 50 years ago? (34 years ago?)… I have no idea why are they not allowed to run for office or high ranking position…

Should Misho decide to run for the you-know-who position one day, he might get squashed. Not because he’s Christian, but because he’s ambitious beyond the permissible boundaries … that applies to everyone else you know…

If it was up to me, I’d call for relinquishing this religious pre-requisite. But till it happens, I don’t think that our Christian brethren are in distress because of it. they like the situation the way it is now, and that all what matters… (me thinks..)

June 16th, 2007, 12:48 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

I did not say that they are in distress. When one is excluded excluded from office because of his religion, this is pure and simple discrimination. Just because the country’s christians don’t talk about it, does not make the policy unimportant. My christian friends certainly feel very strongly about it.

June 16th, 2007, 12:54 pm

 

Ziad said:

Now how about that for religious integration? :

Integration ????????????????

Btw the percentage of christians in Aleppo has dwindled from 20% in 1970 to less than 5% today, and what’s dramatic is that most of young christians are leaving.
During the ottoman era,Aleppine christianity was the wealthiest and better educated in the Middle East.

June 16th, 2007, 2:50 pm

 

ugarit said:

A Syrian of any religious affiliation, or non for that matter, should be allowed to be elected as president. That being said the “elections” in Syria are only for show and if a Christian were to be “elected” he would be a dictator.

I get the sense that we having the necessity to talk about religious variations in Syria is an indication of underlying friction.

My family in Syria comes from a minority Muslim sect which doesn’t feel that comfortable with their surroundings nor do they feel that uncomfortable at the same time, which is a contradiction. They feel that they can’t freely talk about their religious perspective because some other Muslim is going to label them as heretics. I guess that’s the nature of being a minority.

I think it’s easier for a Syrian Christian than a minority Muslim sect member because at least the Christian is from the “People of the Book” while the “heretical” Muslim is not.

June 16th, 2007, 3:04 pm

 

Ziad said:

UGARIT,what u said is true.

June 16th, 2007, 3:06 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

SimoHurtta said:

Are you joking Akbar? That is pure bullshit propaganda that Israel is an equal society.

Much more equal than any Arab country I’m aware of.

Not even you believe what you are writing.

I haven’t been brainwashed by the Iranian and jihadist media.

If Israel would be a secular, equal state it would not call her self as the Jewish state.

This issue Norman and I were discussing was something about “privleges”. I have yet to obtain from you or Norman exactly what privleges you all wanted to know about.

Teudat Zehut (Israeli ID card) has information about the religion and it determines how you are treated.

The Israeli identity card does include a reference to “nationality”, but tell us more about how non-Jews are treated in Israel.

Comparing to USA would be have some relevance if we would live in the 1940’s.

And the 1940’s quickly becomes the Middle Ages when we compare to some Arab and Muslim countries.

There is no other country like Israel since South Africa turned the course.

“No other country”? I can think of a number, especially Arab and Muslim countries. Unlike South Africa and many Arab and Muslim countries, all religions and races can hold the highest political offices and can vote. All civil rights apply as well.

Well how do you then “prove” that Israel is the promised land for Jews if the ancestry is not important?

No one needs to “prove” Israel is a “promised land”. All you need is a people who desire to live there. The same can be said for Palestine. Now that Hamas is in control of Gaza, it seems as though people are leaving Gaza in droves.

Wikipedia’s definition who is a Jew is very interesting. Not surprising that you Akbar do not consider this question as “important”.

I don’t need Wikipedia’s definition of “Who is a Jew”. Nor do I need their definition of who is a Muslim. You are whoever you believe you are and no one can take that from you.

Can I for example became to be a Jew if I choose Judaism?

You can be a Jew if you want, and I can be a Muslim if I want. You mean you didn’t know that?

Is it then possible move to Israel and get automatically the citizenship and later in Israeli style rob some land from the occupied areas from some poor gentiles and get the states tax relief?

Yes, it is possible to move to Israel and get citizenship. People do it all the time. I don’t know if it is “automatic” or not. Israel has not robbed any land to my knowledge. She did conquer land after Arab armies invaded and tried to destroy her. And this process is still alive and well today due to intolerance and racism.

FYI, here is information on Israeli passports and the numerous muslim countries that will not accept them or passports of other countries that contain Israeli stamps:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_passport

June 16th, 2007, 4:11 pm

 

DJ said:

Ziad,
First of all, are your stats substantiated?

a declining percentage of Christians in Aleppo doesn’t necessarily means that their numbers (the natural growth of it, that is) are dwindling. Remember that Aleppo has witnessed huge tribal immigrations from the eastern governorates. Those now accounting to 30% of Aleppo’s population…

and btw, Aleppo Christians are still the wealthiest and best educated in the ME. They may immigrate, but they still are Aleppine (just ask George Ajjan about it!)

June 16th, 2007, 4:32 pm

 

ugarit said:

Akbar Said:

[Israel is] “Much more equal than any Arab country I’m aware of.”

Well in Syria the only thing a non-Muslim cannot do is become the “elected” dictator which is probably a good thing until Syria has truly free and democratic elections.

The National Jewish Fund owns about 90% of the land of Israel and that land is reserved only for Jews. There is no equivalent law in Syria. Syria doesn’t have Muslim only roads or Muslim only towns and settlements, while the Israeli system imposes such restrictions on non-Jews in lands it occupies.

Also a Palestinian who is an Israeli citizen cannot marry and live in Israel with a Palestinian who is not an Israeli citizen. As an example a Palestinian Israeli marrying a Palestinian from the West Bank cannot bring that spouse to Israel. This is only applied to Palestinians and no other group.

June 16th, 2007, 4:39 pm

 

SyriaComment » Archives » “UNIFIL and Eido Car Bombs the Same: Murr Blames al-Qaida” by T_desco said:

[…] As I had pointed out earlier, large quantities of aluminum powder were confiscated in raids on Fatah al-Islam apartments in Tripoli, according to reports by Al-Akhbar and Al-Hayat. […]

June 27th, 2007, 6:49 am

 

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