Friday, January 26, 2007

New Series of (DID YOU KNOW!) By Tony Safa

New Series of (DID YOU KNOW!) By Tony Safa

Pro Syrian group accusing March 14 of arming themselves and letting member of el Qaeeda enter Northern Lebanon.

Did you know that aside from the Lebanese-Israeli borders, Lebanon has only 1 other border, the Lebanese-Syrian borders. Since Israel borders have long been closed, geographically the ONLY possible route for weapon or terrorist groups into Lebanon is through SYRIA.

Ironically the same pro Syrian groups in Lebanon reject all effort to control the Lebanese-Syrian borders (the deployment of UNIFIL troops…)

Is it coincidence ????
Iran claimed to defeat US in Lebanon

Syria accused Lebanon government as agents serving the western world and Israel
Lahoud confirm that 8 Adar groups are the allies of Iran Syria as they share the same views and he would step down only if Aoun to take his place.

Hassan Nosralla accused the Lebanese government as American puppets calling it (the Feltman's government)

Naaiem Qasem chanting death to America in downtown Beirut and 8 Adar including Tayyar repeat after him

Aoun accused both Bush and France president of working against the Lebanese opposition 8 Adar and the Lebanese government as agents to foreign countries. Aoun also claimed that The Iranian ambassador and Syria are not getting involved in domestic Lebanese affair!!!

Tayyar MP. Nabil Naoula blamed the Lebanese government for not demanding Israel compensation after the July war between Hezbollah and Israel.

Did you know that according to United Nation Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and Hezbollah arm presence is Lebanon is illegal. in addition, the United Nation hold Hezbollah (Tayyar ally) responsible for starting the July war.

Tayyar, SSNP (Syrian Social National Party), Marada, Hezbollah... (all 8 Adar) have protested in front of the Lebanese justice system demanding the truth in Pierre gemayel investigation and all other March 14 martyrs!!

Did you know that 1 week ago the Lebanese justice system have arrested 7 members of SSNP who will be sentenced to life in prison for attempting to murder Martyr Pierre Gemeyal and his father in North Lebanon (sheka)...!!!!! in addition, the militia of Hezbollah has security areas in Lebanon where Lebanese police are not permited...

Did u know SSNP members arrested in the killing of Bachir and Pierre Gemayel !!!

Is it coincidental?
The same day the Iranian Atomic negotiator, Ali Larijani, visited Saudi Arabia, Hezbollah announced that “Saudi Arabia's efforts in Lebanon are constructive and that they “Hezbollah” are not against Paris 3”

A day after Tayyar announced: “we hope Paris 3 would be successful”.
Did you know that both Hezbollah and Tayyar have totally rejected Paris 3 up to Ali Larijani's visit to Saudi Arabia?

Hezbollah, who rejects the infidels' money, and promise to rebuild Lebanon from 'Holly money', apparently, is now accepting other currency…!!!

Tayyar, accusing the government of corruption and loyal to foreign countries, is hoping the same government get more money!!!!

Both Tayyar and Hezbollah hope what they call the unconstitutional, corrupt and Feltmen’s government gets more money!!!!

In addition, Hezbollah and Tayyar are helping the government by running an open protest in downtown Beirut shutting down business and threatening of shutting down the airport and all vital roads…

Tony Safa Independent Political Advisor

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Hizballah Protests Meant to Weaken Western Resolve Against Iran, Expert Phares Says

Hizballah Protests Meant to Weaken Western Resolve Against Iran, Expert Says
By Julie Stahl Jerusalem Bureau Chief
January 24, 2007

Jerusalem ( - Iran and Syria are funding Hizballah's "urban intimidation" campaign in Lebanon to crush the emerging democracy and weaken Western resolve to stop Iran's nuclear program, a U.S.-based expert said on Wednesday.

Lebanon was paralyzed on Tuesday by a Hizballah-led nationwide general strike and protests that blocked roads with rubble and burning tires, closing off the capital and virtually shutting down the country's international airport.

Three people were killed in violence that broke out between protestors supporting Hizballah and its allies in their attempts to bring down the government and others who support the government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

Hizballah and its political allies quit the government late last year in an attempt to force it into giving Hizballah enough power to wield a veto over decisions it does not like.

The strike was called off on Tuesday night because it had achieved its purposes, a spokesman for what is being called "the opposition" was quoted as saying. But he warned of more protest actions to come.

Addressing his nation, Siniora said that the country would stand together "against intimidation" and would "confront sedition for the sake of Lebanon."

The U.S. State Department released a statement saying it was "deeply concerned" about the developments and blamed Syrian allied factions for the trouble.

"These factions are trying to use violence, threats and intimidation to impose their political will on Lebanon," said spokesman Sean McCormack.

Experts have said that Lebanon is a "microcosm" for all the conflicts in the Middle East. As such, it is on the front lines in the clash between Western pro-Democracy forces and Iranian Islamic extremist forces.

Dr. Walid Phares, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told Cybercast News Service in an email that Hizballah has two goals in stepping up the protests, which began late last year with a sit-in by government buildings.

"The urban intimidation unleashed by Hizballah aims at blocking the airport, ports and main roads so that civil society is put under pressure," said Phares. The plan was instigated and funded by Tehran and Damascus to crush the Cedars Revolution and emerging democracy in Lebanon, he said.

The "Cedars Revolution" refers to the popular pro-Democracy movement that spontaneously came together following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri two years ago. Many Lebanese believe Syria was behind the assassination.

The movement, which includes most Lebanese Christians, Druze, Sunni and some Shiite Muslims, succeeded in forcing Syria to withdraw troops from the country that had been entrenched there for years.

In the "bigger picture," the Hizballah-led protest can be seen as a "pre-emptive strike" by the regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against Lebanese democracy in an attempt to weaken U.S. and European resolve to act against Iran's nuclear program, Phares said.

'Stage to stage'

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, President Bush said that during the past two years, "the enemy" had reacted fiercely to the "desire for liberty" in the Middle East, including Lebanon.

"A thinking enemy watched, ... adjusted their tactics, and in 2006, they struck back," Bush told the nation.

"In Lebanon, assassins took the life of Pierre Gemayel, a prominent participant in the Cedars Revolution. And Hizballah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon's legitimately elected government," Bush said.

According to Phares, Hizballah has moved from "stage to stage" since the Cedar Revolution began in March 2005 as part of a strategically "well-prepared" attempt to take over the country.

The Syrian-Iranian networks in Iran launched a political assassination campaign of outspoken critics of Syrian involvement in the country. Last winter, Hizballah "faked" a dialogue with other political factions while preparing for war.

In July, Hizballah ignited a war with Israel when it abducted two Israeli soldiers and fired rockets at Israeli civilian centers in an attempt to shift pressure away from Iran and strike a blow at the Lebanese government.

Since then, Hizballah has preparing itself for war against the Lebanese government; making preparations to side with Iran if a confrontation erupts with the U.S., Europe and moderate Arab states; and concentrating on ensuring that United Nations peacekeepers are only deployed in southern Lebanon, Phares said.

United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon have not been allowed to deploy along the Syrian-Lebanese border through which they receive weapons from Iran, Israeli officials have said.

Beginning in November, Hizballah and its pro-Syrian allies launched a "terror campaign" with the assassination of Gemayel and intimidation against the government in November 2006. On Tuesday, Hizballah waged its first day of "urban terror" against Lebanese civil society and government, Phares said.

Tuesday's trouble came as French President Jacques Chirac prepared to host a donors' conference on Lebanon's behalf. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due in Paris for that conference, and a senior U.S. official said here this week that the U.S. is prepared to contribute a "considerable sum of resources" to rebuilding Lebanon. (

“…Black Tuesday: Hezbollah’s state besieges Lebanon…”

“…Black Tuesday: Hezbollah’s state besieges Lebanon…”

On January 24, Al Mustaqbal, a pro-government, Hariri owned daily, said: “Yesterday is called Black Tuesday. Hezbollah’s smoke covered Lebanon and besieged the country from North to South, from the Bekaa to the coast. It turned out that the strike was nothing but a terrorist action that took the Lebanese people as hostages in the hands of the militias of Hezbollah and its affiliates…, one which burned tires, blocked the roads, smashed stores and the cars of the citizens in the name of the peaceful, democratic and civil strike which they talked about.

“Congratulations to you Hezbollah for this memorable day in which those you call the “men of Allah” proved that their primary enemy is not Israel but Lebanon with all its axes, components and free and proud people. In a few hours they managed to accomplish what Israel couldn’t in 33 days during the July war and emptied all the hatred they had in them. It is a day of victory for the Lebanese people. Congratulations to you Hezbollah on your leadership.

“This coup will remain engraved in the memories of the Lebanese people who were truly amazed by what they saw in terms of civilized [action], of courage and poise exerted by your men as they were holding the citizens hostages and preventing them from seeking their livelihood, the employees from reaching their places of work, the sick from reaching the hospitals and the children from reaching their schools. Thank you Hezbollah. It is truly the “ending” which you promised to the Lebanese people a few days ago. We only hope that it will not be the end of the beginning for Lebanon that will make January 23, 2007 like April 13, 1975.

“Thank you, the state of Hezbollah, which has “spread” in the regions and the bodies and tools of which have claimed the lives of three people in Tripoli and wounded 133 others. And finally, thank you Hezbollah, for bragging along with its affiliates about “completing their escalation step at this stage with great success”, announcing that they achieved “the desired goal”, and threatening to adopt “different forms of protest that will have a greater impact than what was adopted until this day”. Amid this climate, PM Fu’ad Al-Sanyurah assured that “we are standing together against intimidation and strife and are defending the interest of all the Lebanese”.

“He called on those partaking in the actions to “be aware of where you are wanted to be led, far from your real interest and that of the nation”. He considered in a press conference held yesterday at the Government House that “the strike has turned into practices and harassments which have exceeded all limits and brought back to mind the crisis of strife, war and tutorship”. He assured that “protesting by cutting the roads, assaulting property and threatening of continuing the escalation, is an assault against the citizens and democracy and predicts great dangers that are no secret to anyone”.

“The prime minister called for the return to dialogue in the context of the institutions and demanded the issuance of a decree to hold an extraordinary parliamentary session… In the meantime, the head of the “Democratic Gathering”, MP Walid Junblatt, said that “the issue is no longer that of besieging the Government House”. He said to Al Mustaqbal that: “Today we are witnessing the besieging of Beirut. The Beirut of Gamal Abdul Nasser and Rafik Al-Hariri. Beirut is besieged by the Syrian regime and Hezbollah and if the army doesn’t open the roads and lift the siege imposed on Beirut, I declare today that we are all detainees and are besieged in Beirut.

“Hence, I hope that the army realizes the seriousness of the siege imposed on the capital”… The March 14 Forces called upon all the Lebanese in a statement issued yesterday following their meeting “to defend their nation, their independence and freedom and to defend their legitimate government in the face of the insurrectionists who are carrying out a Syrian-Iranian plan aiming to undermine the international tribunal and its ruling in advance, as well as to undermine the Taif rule and its constitution”.

“The statement that was related by MP Wael Abu Faour from the Democratic Gathering after a meeting with PM Al-Sanuyrah at the Government House, confirmed the “determination of the March 14 Forces to protect these principles and lift the siege imposed on Beirut”. He called on the army and the security bodies to “perform their duties in this direction because if they don’t, the Lebanese people in all the regions are invited to be prepared for a historical stance to open the roads leading to the capitals”.

“In a message to the Lebanese people, the Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Muhammad Rashid Qabbani, said that: “What the country is witnessing in terms of vandalism, mayhem and the violation of security, public safety and properties has surpassed the imagination and has exceeded all the limits of public freedoms. This has started to [prefigure] serious consequences, the most dangerous of which are those affecting civil peace”… He then reiterated that: “The attempt to topple the government through the street and the besieging of Beirut through violence, threats and oppression will not be allowed to pass by that easily regardless of the price, as God is my witness”.

“The tools of the terrorist coup had started their action at the break of dawn, whereby they started unloading the sand, burning tires and placing cement obstacles, garbage containers and wrecked cars on the entrances of the capital, as well as in its streets and neighborhoods and along the coastal road in the North, the South and the Beirut-Bekaa road… In the meantime, dozens of militia elements started wrecking the cars and the shops in a barbaric way and started provoking the safe citizens, which lead to confrontations with sticks and stone in more than one region.

“While confrontations and acts of vandalism were concentrated in several Christian areas, the Maroun Ar-Ras front moved to Jdeideh, Nahr Al-Mot, Nahr Al-Kalb, Tariq Al-Jdideh, Corniche Al-Mazraa, As-Siyad roundabout, Hazmieh, Rawcheh and Shtoura where Hezbollah elements shot at supporters of the Future movement and wounded three of them…” - Al Mustaqbal, Lebanon Click here for source

“…Larijani transmitted to Riyadh Damascus’s refusal to ratify tribunal…”

“…Larijani transmitted to Riyadh Damascus’s refusal to ratify tribunal…”

Al Hayat, an independent Saudi owned newspaper, reported in its January 24 issue about the latest developments in the Lebanese political situation. The newspaper wrote: “Last Friday, those calling the Saudi ambassador Abdul-Aziz Khojah were still wagering on the success of the agreement on a draft for a solution to the political crisis that would end with the signature of the major factions, whether in the government or in the opposition, to be announced in a parliamentary session to be called for by the parliamentary speaker Nabih Birri. The leaders of the majority and the Prime Minister Fu’ad Al-Sanyurah had expressed their approval of the draft to ambassador Khojah who was asked for more time by the leaders of Hezbollah, who were negotiating with him along with speaker Birri, until last Thursday night in order to convince the head of the Free Patriotic Movement General Michel Aoun to sign the draft because he had insisted on including in the draft a section promising early parliamentary elections.”

The newspaper added: “The leaders of Hezbollah had postponed their reply from Tuesday the 16th first to Thursday and then to Friday. But Hezbollah’s answer came on Friday night in the interview with the secretary general of Hezbollah Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah on the Al-Manar television. Sayyid Nasrallah placed a condition that any solution should stipulate that the program of the national unity government must include a section promising early parliamentary elections…Khojah was surprised by Nasrallah’s statements and considered that they blew the draft out of the water especially as Nasrallah’s terms were accompanied with the announcement of the protests planned by the opposition…Al Hayat followed the communications and the developments that led to the dropping of the draft. The communications had started to accelerate after the return of Hezbollah’s delegation from Saudi Arabia where it was advised by the Saudi king to open up to Al-Sanyurah and the head of Future movement MP Sa’d Al-Hariri, with ambassador Khojah tasked with helping…”

The newspaper continued: “The discussions centered on a formula that ensures the ratification of the international tribunal through a team that studies the remarks of the opposition concerning the draft statute for the tribunal which would then be ratified by an expanded government on the basis of 19 ministers for the majority, 10 for the opposition, and one neutral minister to be appointed with the approval of both teams. The final draft centered on these two principles with the agreement set to be announced in a parliamentary session after long communications away from the light between ambassador Khojah and the concerned factions between the 8th and 14th of March in which Hezbollah suggested ideas that were amended…Meanwhile, on the 15th, the secretary general of the Supreme Iranian national security council Ali Larijani ended his visit to Saudi Arabia where he had reached an agreement with its leaders about hastening the solution for the Lebanese crisis and had offered to go to Beirut to market the solution based on the 19-10-1 formula with the ruling team choosing the neutral minister out of a list of five names suggested by Birri…”

The newspaper added: “On Sunday Larijani went to Damascus where he was preceded by a delegation from the Hezbollah leadership that met with Syrian officials and then met with him. The sources announced that that the Iranian official’s communications in Damascus revealed that the Syrians rejected the draft for the agreement prepared by Khojah between the majority and the minority. He also heard some hardliner talk about the inclusion of the ratification of the tribunal in any deal…” - Al Hayat, United Kingdom
Click here for source

“Main factions in opposition present, smaller factions absent”

“Main factions in opposition present, smaller factions absent”

Al Hayat, an independent Saudi owned newspaper, reported in its January 24 issue about the protest implemented by the opposition yesterday in Lebanon. The newspaper wrote: “The black smoke which hid the sky over Lebanon yesterday might be a pointer to where the general situation is going if it wasn’t replaced soon by white smoke which seems to be facing difficulties in rising especially as leaders in the opposition confirmed to Al Hayat that what happened so far is nothing compared to what will happen later on if the government and the forces of the majority insisted on closing all the doors in the face of a political settlement. But the quantities of black smoke didn’t hide the political scene of the opposition in the light of the absence of some of the forces of the opposition who contradicted their own statements about their preparations for the escalation.”

The newspaper added: “Except for the effective presence of the supporters of Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement and to a lesser degree the supporters of the Amal movement and the Al-Muradah movement headed by the ex minister Suleiman Franjiyyeh, the other forces with their varied names decided to absent themselves from this escalatory protest while yet other forces such as the Nasseri movement in Saida and the supporters of the head of the popular coalition Elie Skaf in Zahle were not able to control their areas of influence and had to back down for more than one reason. While the reasons behind the absence of Al-Tashnaq party, one of the allies of General Aoun, from the movement after it had made promises in front of its allies to participate heavily on the ground, Skaf, who had personally asked his supporters to heed the call for the general strike, made a mistake when he used some of the symbols of the previous political period to convince the owners of the shops to close down...”

The newspaper continued: “What took place on the ground throughout Lebanon revealed the weakness of these forces and their inability to drag the street along with their attitudes. The opposition will have to re-evaluate its calculations, not regarding the escalatory protests, but towards taking into account the fragility of the support of some personalities and parties that issued statements that do not befit the number of their supporters…” - Al Hayat, United Kingdom
Click here for source

“…Saudi call to Iran ends strike... & Prince Bandar heading to Tehran”

“…Saudi call to Iran ends strike... & Prince Bandar heading to Tehran”

On January 24, Al, a Saudi-owned online news service, reported that: “A knowledgeable source revealed that Saudi Arabia interfered to end the clashes which emerged in Lebanon due to the strike of the opposition and the blocking of the roads, according to what was reported on Al Arabiya channel on Wednesday 24-1-2007. The sources assured to Al Arabiya that a call was made by Riyadh to the Iranian government calling upon it to show more cooperation in the region, which Tehran had previously promised to do, in order to contain the serious deterioration of the situation.

“They added that Iran asked Hezbollah yesterday to end the strike which entailed the besieging of Beirut and the increase of the tensions between the conflicting parties. In the context of seeking a solution to the Lebanese crisis Saudi Monarch King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz sent Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the secretary-general of the National Security Council, to Tehran to meet with Supreme Guide Ali Khamanei. The two countries recently witnessed intensive contacts, whereby the head of the Iranian national security council, Ali Larijani, made three visits to Saudi Arabia within a short period of time, one of which was following a secret visit made by Larijani to Syria…” - Al, Middle East
Click here for source

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Interview Sheikh Subhi Al-Tufeili, Hizbullah is an Integral Part of the Iranian Intelligence Apparatus

Former Hizbullah Sec-Gen: Hizbullah is an Integral Part of Iranian Intelligence; The Abduction of the Israeli Soldiers Was an 'Unsuccessful Adventure'

In an interview with the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, former Hizbullah secretary-general Sheikh Subhi Al-Tufeili saidthat Hizbullah was part of Iranian intelligence, and called the July 12, 2006 abduction of two Israeli soldiers, which sparked the July-August 2006 war with Israel, an "unsuccessful adventure."

The following are excerpts from the interview. [1]

Hizbullah is an Integral Part of the Iranian Intelligence Apparatus

Question: "You were formerly Hizbullah secretary-general. Is the [situation in Lebanon] within the strategic framework of Hizbullah? Does Hizbullah have an outlined and prepared plan that is being implemented today? Why do you think Hizbullah has become a source of anxiety for the Lebanese? "

Al-Tufeili: "It wasn't like this in the beginning. Hizbullah's activity was limited to resistance [operations]... But, unfortunately, the problem has developed today to the point where they have succeeded in changing Hizbullah from a resistance force into a tool to be used in [whatever] direction they want."

Question: "Does this mean that Hizbullah does not make its own decisions, and that its orders come from outside [Lebanon]?"

Al-Tufeili: "Yes, Hizbullah is a tool, and it is an integral part of the Iranian intelligence apparatus. Unfortunately, all the elements in the [Lebanese] arena have become tools, and take orders from outside [Lebanon]..."

Abducting the Soldiers Was "An Unsuccessful Adventure"
Question: "Can you see any justification for the July [2006] war after southern Lebanon was liberated in 2000?"

Al-Tufeili: "Following the abduction of the Israeli soldier [Gilad Shalit] in Gaza, and the enemy's response to that operation, [i.e.] the shelling, and the abduction of Palestinian ministers and MPs... I was amazed when Hizbullah announced that it had abducted two Israeli soldiers...

"[Israel is] an enemy we know. It has plundered our land, murdered our people, and slaughtered our children. [Was it reasonable] for us to carry out an operation like this after we have seen the response to it in Gaza and in occupied Palestine? [Was it reasonable for us to carry out such an operation] when we know that Israel attacks us, murders our children, and destroys our country [even] without us giving it excuses to do so...? I think that any sensible person could have assessed the enemy's possible response to the abduction operation... On the one hand, they [Hizbullah] are saying, 'Had we known what the reaction would be, we would not have abducted the soldiers.' On the other hand, they are giving the Israeli enemy a pretext to launch aggression against us...

"When we look at the causes of the war, there is no choice but to [admit] this. If [the war] had gotten worse, it could have led to the loss of the [entire] country... Are we allowed to destroy our country [just] so we can say that we abducted two soldiers - when we all knew what the magnitude of the Israeli response [would be]? What happened was an unsuccessful adventure, and there is no escaping the fact that those who carried it out will bear the responsibility for it..."
Iran Must Stop Using Hizbullah for Its Own Aims in Its Struggle with the West

Al-Tufeili: "[Furthermore], why was... the South [Lebanese] front the only one left burning, and why was Lebanon the only arena of bloodshed? Why weren't all fronts opened?... Why has Hizbullah become a tool [serving] individual interests that have nothing to do with the resistance? In my opinion, the issue is broader than the local [context], and is connected to the regional struggle - but it is being carried out by a local tool [i.e. Hizbullah]...

"After all that has happened, I hope that Iran will change from an element seeking its political interests in the region [into an element acting for the] liberation of Jerusalem - if Iran indeed wants to liberate Jerusalem as it claims. [It must stop] using the resistance [i.e. Hizbullah] for its own aims in its struggle with the West..."

Hizbullah is Leading the Country to Civil War

Al-Tufeili continued: "Until not long ago, the March 8 Group [a term for the Lebanese opposition] was a partner in the government, and participated in parliamentary elections.

"The March 14 [Forces] did not mislead [the Lebanese opposition]... They are openly allied with of the U.S. and France; they say openly 'We do not agree to weapons in Lebanon, except for those of the military.' They are demanding that Hizbullah hand over its arms, but in the framework of [internal Lebanese] dialogue, not by force. [They are also saying] that they want an [international] court [for the Al-Hariri assassination]. All this they said prior to the elections as well as after the elections, before they became ministers and after they became ministers.

"So where is their treason? Whom have they betrayed? Their position is clear; this is their plan, and [Hizbullah] entered into [an alliance] with them [just] for the election campaign... Yesterday, [Hizbullah] had an alliance with them, and gave the March 14 Forces a majority in parliament and in the government, and had no dispute or problems with them. [Hizbullah considered this alliance] to be for the good of the homeland.

"Today, [Hizbullah] is leading the country to civil war, in order to obtain a third [of the government]... If this third is so important, then [Hizbullah] must be punished, because it itself was the one who gave it to the [March 14 Forces in the first place]. If it is not important, then Hizbullah is leading us to civil war, to destruction and to the ruin of the country, for no good reason..."

I Do Not Believe Those Who Say They Are Against Civil War Yet Behave in a Way that Will Lead to Civil War

"I find no [justification] for us having reached such a situation... This is how wars begin. What we are seeing today in Lebanon is the preparation of an emotional, popular, military, media, and security climate [leading] towards a war that might break out at any moment. I don't believe anyone who says he is not interested in [civil] war, [yet] behaves in this manner. This is the behavior of someone who wants war."

"Iran is the Main Nerve in the Activity Today in Lebanon"

Referring to Syria's role in the events in Lebanon, Al-Tufeili said: "Syria is undoubtedly Iran's ally. It has undoubtedly been harmed by the March 14 Forces, and by the establishment of the [international] court. Thus, it is part of this battle; but it is not the most influential factor...

"Iran is the main nerve in the activity today in Lebanon. All Hizbullah activity [is financed] by Iranian funds. Syria has an important role, but Iran is the main and primary support of [the Lebanese opposition]. On the other side, the U.S. is supporting the March 14 Forces."


[1] Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), December 14, 2006.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007



Hidden agenda of Dictatorship Rule surfaces!


He calls the Christians a bunch of nighttime militant squatters that came and stole our land.


PART 2 - Lest we forget this story:

“It is the wish of Hezbollah to one day establish an Islamic Republic [in Lebanon] because Hezbollah believes that the establishment of an Islamic government is the only way to achieve stability in society, and it is the only way to resolve social differences, even in a society consisting of diverse minorities”. (Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, in an August 2006 interview with the Iranian magazine “Risalat Al-Hussein” (The Message of Al-Hussein), and as quoted in Al-Shiraa Magazine, Dec. 18, 2006).

Monday, January 15, 2007

John Hajjar from the World Council for the Cedar's Revolution, Speech at Memorial Mass

Liturgy mass in memory of Sheikh Pierre Gemayel and MP Gebran Tueni

Date: January 14, 2007

Place: Our Lady of the Cedars of Lebanon Maronite Church Hall, Boston, MA

· Welcome. My name is John Hajjar and I’m pleased that this remembrance is so well attended. I know we are all here to pay tribute to and to express our grief at the brutal assassinations of MP Gebran Tueni and Minister of Industry, Pierre Gemayel. We are also here to make a statement that those in Lebanon and we here in the vast and strong Diaspora, are committed to a free, sovereign, pluralistic and independent Lebanon. That is why these brave men gave their lives. They also gave their lives for the cause of freedom worldwide; not just in Lebanon, and, we here in the US, whether of Lebanese origin or not, give our deepest thanks for their ultimate sacrifice.

· Lebanon is now at the forefront in the war on terror. It is a war that the Lebanese are all too well accustomed. It is not a war the Lebanese chose but one that has been thrust upon them by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, rejectionist Palestinian groups and their proxies. It is a war for liberty for all mankind against those who practice brutality, intolerance and hatemongering. Into this war Tueni and Gemayel brought not their weaponry but their intellect and bravery. As the Lebanese national anthem so eloquently states; “our sword is our pen”. These men lived by this anthem and gave their lives for their belief in it. These are true patriots.

· As for the Lebanese citizens- they do not command large armies, are not in possession of advanced armaments and have no oil reserves. Their human qualities of hope, faith and love, however, far outweigh and are far more powerful than their lack of the former. These qualities were on vivid display on March 14, 2005 during the Cedars Revolution. These brave revolutionaries demonstrated to the world their love of liberty and freedom. As the great patriot James Otis stated “where Liberty is, there is my country.” Therefore, there is a kinship with all who live in liberty for whatever their nationality, there are strong and natural bonds. That is why Lebanese thrive in the free world.

· Unfortunately, there is no liberty in Lebanon. So, therefore, on March 14, the new day of hope for independence, the Lebanese, peacefully and with purpose, without wielding even the most simple weapon, made the pilgrimage to Beirut to express peacefully their disgust and outrage at what had become of their once proud nation. Through this act of bravery these otherwise ordinary citizens shook the leaders of the forces of darkness, in Dahiyeh, Ain el Helweh, Damascus and Tehran. These terror masters know that liberty, freedom and justice are their worst enemies and will, ultimately, result in their defeat. On that great day, March 14, 2005, they were trembling with fear in their hiding places knowing that their days are now numbered.

· To the forces of darkness we, the members of the Cedars Revolution and their brethren here in the great USA and the rest of the free world say, with determination and resolve, that we will be steadfast and undeterred in seeking justice for our fallen leaders who have given their lives in the cause of liberty, we will continue to struggle for the cause of peace and we will not back down until victory is ours.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ousted Bolton puts world to rights, London Sunday Times

Ousted Bolton puts world to rights
Sarah Baxter, Washington

AS America’s ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton was no tame diplomat. Armed with his feared red pen, ready to strike out waffling resolutions, he was an able and aggressive defender of US interests, but he often had to uphold policies with which he was not in tune.

“To the great chagrin of many people, I followed my instructions at the UN,” he said in his first newspaper interview since relinquishing his post. He is a free man now and eager to have his say.

Bolton engaged in tortuous negotiations over sanctions for Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programmes with little confidence they would work.

“I wouldn’t have engaged in negotiations with Iran in the first place,” he said, evidently disdainful of Britain, France and Germany’s years of reaching out to Iran. “The policy has failed. Sanctions won’t stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”

Bolton thinks the Bush administration would “rather find a way for diplomacy to succeed but time is running out”. He added as an afterthought, “That’s me speaking” — a rueful acknowledgment that he is no longer the voice of America.

Bolton’s disillusion with the UN is such that he would like it to face competition from other international organisations. “The choice is to fix it or go somewhere else.” He favours building up Nato as a rival in the belief that it could expand into a “caucus of democracies” — a permanent coalition of the willing.

“Fifteen years ago people said Nato would either go out of area or out of existence and now it is in Afghanistan and it is all but Nato — absent Germany and France — in Iraq,” he said. “I think Nato should go global. There is no reason why Japan and Australia shouldn’t join.”

Nato could also make room for Israel. “Why not?” he said. “It’s a European country, fundamentally. Turkey is a European country and it is further east.”

Bolton believes that Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, is wasting her time trying to restart the Middle East peace process. The Arab-Israeli conflict was “not a priority”, he added. “I don’t see linkage to Iraq, and Hamas and Fatah are in a state of civil war.”

When the walrus-moustached Bolton, 58, was appointed ambassador in August 2005, Rice was eager to give diplomacy a chance — whether on Iran, North Korea or the Middle East.

Bolton was then under-secretary of state for arms control and nuclear proliferation. He was notably belligerent on Iran, and was sent to the UN in the face of opposition from Congress, including Republican “wets”, as one of his heroes, Margaret Thatcher, might describe them. Yet his mission, defined by Rice, was to talk, not to bite.

The same politicians balked at confirming Bolton in the job after he had served at President George W Bush’s discretion for little more than a year. He toyed with the idea of hanging on as an acting ambassador, but thought better of going for a “jury-rigged” selection. So out he went last month to the evident satisfaction of his arch-enemy Sir Mark Malloch Brown, the former British UN deputy secretary-general, who departed weeks later.

“I was very pleased that I . . . could at least hold the door for him to go first,” Malloch Brown said witheringly on Channel 4 News last week. “He was only saying publicly what he had been leaking for two years,” Bolton retorted.

Malloch Brown represented everything the US ambassador detested about the United Nations and its air of superiority. Bolton famously observed the organisation could lose 10 floors without anybody noticing, irritating UN bureaucrats.

Bolton approves of Ban Ki-Moon, the new South Korean secretary-general, but advises him to “move quickly to put his stamp on his tenure” before the bureaucracy sucks him in.

In Bolton’s view, America needs to take the lead in global affairs rather than the ineffectual UN because “Who else will?” His opinion of the Foreign Office in London is not much higher than the UN. It is “European” — not a compliment.

Britain has a “fundamental choice” to make, Bolton insisted. “The real issue is whether the UK sees itself as part of a ‘little Europe’ as opposed to Atlanticist. I certainly hope the Atlanticist view will prevail.”

Now back at the American Enterprise Institute, an old perch, he has taken over the office of the late Jeanne Kirkpatrick, another outspoken UN ambassador, who was every bit as ardent a defender of the perceived national interest.

The room, with a view of the Jefferson memorial, is still sparse but he has made it his own by placing his favourite gift from colleagues, a bronzed hand-grenade inscribed with “truest Reaganaut”, on the coffee table.

One of his greatest concerns is the threat to Israel and the West posed by Iran’s nuclear programme. Regime change is “preferable” to striking Iran’s sites, he noted, but “the only course worse than the use of force is an Iran with nuclear weapons”.

The EU3 nations’ years of negotiations with Iran were not a “neutral activity”. Iran used the time to develop its mastery of uranium enrichment — as its own leaders have boasted.

“There are all kinds of ways to change the regime,” he added, citing covert and overt means to topple the theocracy. “We have an extensive diaspora of people with Iranian heritage in America who we don’t use effectively.”

Ultimately, “President Bush has said it is unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons and he will not accept it.” The same was true of Israel: “They consider a nuclear Iran an existential threat.”

Bolton negotiated a package of UN security council sanctions against North Korea but the pariah state, ruled by the dictator Kim Jong-il, is already preparing for another nuclear test, the US believes. “It is perfectly clear they are not going to give up nuclear weapons.” Talks involving Russia, China and Japan as well as the US have gone nowhere, he said. The only real solution, Bolton suggests, is “peaceful reunification of the (Korean) peninsula”.

Once that is sorted out, there is still the problem of what to do with Iraq. Unlike Bush, Bolton believes Iraq is already at war with itself: “The fundamental point is whether the civil war that exists is going to continue.” Bolton has often been mistaken for a neocon, but while he considers democracy preferable to other forms of government, he does not consider it America’s duty to spread it.

The shape and form of the nation is irrelevant: what matters is that Iraq is either tolerably pro-western or de-fanged. He has no regrets about the removal of Saddam Hussein; now it is up to the Iraqis if they want to engage in “fratricide”. The same goes for partition: “If the future of Iraq is to stay together, that’s fine. If not, I couldn’t care less from a strategic perspective.”

In that sense, he is the authentic voice of the pre-September 11 Bush, before the president chose spreading the “fire of freedom” as the best way to protect his country from terrorism. Will America revert to its traditional moorings? Bolton is out of the UN but he could fit in with the new conservative thinking.

Copyright 2007 Times Newspapers Ltd.

Friday, January 12, 2007


There will be a meeting of the Committee on
Friday, January 12, 2007
9:30 AM
Room SH-216, Hart Senate Office Building
To receive testimony on Iraq.

Honorable Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense

General Peter Pace, USMC
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

* There is a possibility of a CLOSED session in S-407 ofthe Capitol, following the OPEN session.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Transcripts: US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence - Hearing on National Security Threats

Open Hearing: Current and Projected National Security Threats


Date & Time
Thursday, January 11 2007 2:30 PM

Witnesses & Opening Statements

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV Chairman U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Honorable John D. Negroponte Director of National Intelligence (DNI)

General Michael V. Hayden Director Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Honorable Randall M. Fort Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR) Department of State

Honorable Robert S. Mueller, III Director Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)

Lieutenant General Michael D. Maples Director Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)

US House Armed Services Committee on the way forward in Iraq

Thursday Jan. 11, 2007, 1:00pm, 2118 Rayburn
The committee will meet to hearing testimony on the way forward in Iraq.

Honorable Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense

General Peter Pace, USMC

No transcripts YET!

Bloomberg Article

Gates, Pace Say U.S. Will Review Plan If Iraqis Fail (Update3)

By Ken Fireman

Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. will ``revisit'' President George W. Bush's plan to send more forces to Iraq if that country's leaders fail to fulfill their responsibilities under the plan, top Defense Department leaders told lawmakers.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace said they remain confident that Iraqi leaders will follow through on commitments to provide more troops and use them evenhandedly against all violent groups.

If those pledges are not met, Gates and Pace said in testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, U.S. officials will quickly pressure the Iraqis to act. If that isn't successful, the U.S. will reconsider the decision to send as many as 21,500 additional American troops, they said.

``Obviously, if the Iraqis fail to live up to their commitments,'' we will have to revisit our strategy,'' Gates told the committee.

Pace reiterated that view, while adding that early indications are that Iraqi leaders are serious about following through on their pledges. ``Everything they have said they would do, they have done,'' said Pace, a Marine general.

The two officials testified as part of a Bush administration effort to sway lawmakers who are skeptical about the plan, which Bush presented last night as an Iraqi-led crackdown on violent unrest in Baghdad with the new U.S. forces in a supporting role.

Doubts on Maliki

Committee members from both parties expressed strong doubts that the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki would deliver on its promises to commit three new brigades to the Baghdad operation within five weeks and to act against Shiite militias as well as Sunni insurgents.

``I just have my doubts that the Iraqis will show up,'' said Representative John McHugh, a New York Republican.

McHugh and other lawmakers pressed Gates and Pace repeatedly for details on how U.S. officials would react if such fears were realized.

Gates declined to say how long the administration would wait before reacting to an Iraqi failure. Still, he and Gates noted that U.S. officials will soon have some concrete indications about Iraqi intentions because the Maliki government has promised to fully deploy one new brigade in Baghdad by Feb. 1 and two more by Feb. 15.

``We clearly will know within a couple of months or so whether this strategy is, in fact, beginning to bear fruit,'' Gates said. ``It's going to take a while. We are at the mercy of anyone willing to strap on a bomb and blow themselves up, in terms of more bloodshed and more violence. But we will, obviously, be monitoring it.''

Positive Sign

Pace said the joint Iraqi-U.S. operation in central Baghdad earlier this week was an early favorable sign that Iraqis would live up to their promises. In that operation, he said, Iraqi forces took the lead in taking on insurgents, backed by U.S. ground forces as well as helicopters and aircraft.

Gates and Pace provided new details on the planned tempo of the U.S. buildup and said Iraqi performance would be one of the factors determining that pace.

They said U.S. ground commanders requested two new brigades for Baghdad and one for Anbar province in western Iraq to carry out the new security plan developed by U.S. and Iraqi officials. Bush has authorized five brigades for Baghdad -- more than requested -- to provide a reserve force, they said.

Gates said decisions about whether to commit some or all of those U.S. forces, and when to do so, will be made based mainly on two factors: whether Iraqi officials are keeping their commitments and the ``overall success'' of the operation on the ground.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ken Fireman in Washington at

Last Updated: January 11, 2007 16:27 EST SOURCE

Testimony The Honorable Condoleezza Rice, US SENATE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS

Securing America’s Interests in Iraq:
The Remaining Options.

The Administration’s Plan for Iraq

before the


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Time: 10:00 AM
Place: 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Senator Lugar's Opening Statement
Senator Biden's Opening Statement Witness

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC

House Committee on Foreign Affairs - "Briefing: Iraq" - The Honorable Condoleezza Rice

Committee on Foreign Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives
Contact: Lynne Weil at (202) 225-5021
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Full CommitteeTom Lantos (D-CA), Chairman

You are respectfully requested to attend the following OPEN hearing of the Full Committee, to be held in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building .

Date: Thursday, January 11, 2007

Time: 2 PM

Subject: "Briefing: Iraq"

Witnesses: The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State


House Committee on Foreign Affairs - "Briefing: Next Steps in the Iran Crisis"

Committee on Foreign Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives
Contact: Lynne Weil at (202) 225-5021
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Full CommitteeTom Lantos (D-CA), Chairman

You are respectfully requested to attend the following OPEN hearing of the Full Committee, to be held in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building .

Date: Thursday, January 11, 2007

Time: 10:00 AM

Subject: "Briefing: Next Steps in the Iran Crisis"

Witnesses: The Honorable Thomas R. Pickering
Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

The Honorable R. James Woolsey, Jr.
Former Director
Central Intelligence Agency


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

“So This Is Our Victory”

“So This Is Our Victory” Michael Totten

BINT JBAIL, SOUTH LEBANON – I drove to Hezbollah’s stronghold in South Lebanon to survey the devastation from the war in July, to check in on the United Nations peacekeeping force, and to talk to civilians who were used as human shields in the battle with Israel. My American journalist friend Noah Pollak from Azure Magazine in Jerusalem went with me. We went under the escort of two professional enemies of Hezbollah who work for the Lebanese Committee for UNSCR 1559, an NGO which closely advises the Lebanese government and the international community on the disarmament of illegal militias in Lebanon.

The two men picked us up at our hotel first thing in the morning.

Said (pronounced Sah-EED) rode up to the front door on his motorcycle. Henry arrived in his car.

“Good morning, gentlemen,” Said said as he shook our hands. “Shall we go in your car?”

“If you prefer,” I said.

It was probably better that way. Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah hysterically accuses Toni Nissi, the man Henry and Said work for, of heading up “the Beirut branch of the Israeli Mossad.” Best, I thought, to show up in Hezbollah’s bombed-out southern “capital” of Bint Jbail in a rental car rather than one that might be recognized.

It’s not worth taking Hezbollah’s “Mossad” accusation seriously. Nasrallah also says Prime Minister Fouad Seniora is a “Zionist hand” because he is pushing for Hezbollah’s disarmament.

“Let me drive,” Said said. “It is better. We know the best roads to take.”

Toni insisted these guys were the best. Not only do they know their way around the back roads of South Lebanon, they are battle-hardened infantry veterans of Lebanon’s civil war. I seriously doubted we would need their services as trained killers, but it was nice to have that skill set in our back pockets while venturing into the heartland of an illegal warmongering militia. Every Lebanese person I know insists Hezbollah won’t actually harm American journalists, and I believe them. It has been a while since Hezbollah has violently terrorized Western civilians in Lebanon. But the very same people strongly insisted Noah and I not go to the South by ourselves.

Normally you can drive from Beirut to the fence on the Israeli border in just over two hours. Lebanon, though, isn’t normal right now, especially not in the South. The Israeli Air Force bombed most, if not all, the bridges on the coastal highway. Reconstruction moved along quickly enough, but snarled traffic had to be re-routed around the construction sites, at times onto side roads that were too narrow and small to handle the overflow.

A bridge destroyed by the Israeli Air Force under reconstruction

“What do you think about Israel’s invasion in July?” I asked Said and Henry.

“Of course what Israel did wasn’t good,” Said said. “They only care about themselves. Hezbollah doesn’t pay taxes, so the rest of us have to pay for all the infrastructure the Israelis destroyed.”

“What do you think about Israel in general?” I said. “Aside from the war in July?”

“I have nothing against Israel,” Henry said. “They are good people and they do good for themselves. We need to make peace with everyone. They are open-minded people, but we have no way to communicate with them since the Syrians came.”

“I would love to visit the Holy Land,” Said said. “My mother went there when the border was open before 2000. It is a good place. If you want to make peace with people, you can make peace, especially with the Israelis. They just want to live in their country, so it is no problem.”

“Is UNIFIL doing much in the South?” Noah asked from the back seat.

Azure Magazine Assistant Editor Noah Pollak

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon is widely assumed to be doing little aside from impotently standing around while Hezbollah reconstitutes its weapon stocks for the next round of war.

“The multinational forces don’t have the authority to stop Hezbollah unless they are smuggling weapons out in the open,” Said said. “The Lebanese army is not taking sides because of the volatile political situation and the violent clashes taking place in Beirut.”

The Lebanese army has actually confiscated a small amount of Hezbollah’s weapons smuggled in from across the Syrian border. One of Hassan Nasrallah’s recent demands is the return of those weapons from the army, even though Hezbollah’s existence as an autonomous militia is against Lebanese and international law.

Said is right, though, that the army does not have the authority to disarm Hezbollah. Hezbollah is better-armed, better-trained, and overall more powerful than the army, which suffered 15 years of deliberate neglect and degradation under Syrian overlordship. Some of the army’s top officers were also installed by the Syrians, and they are still loyal to the regime in Damascus. Most important, though, are fears that the army would break apart along sectarian lines if orders to militarily disarm Hezbollah were given. The army split during the civil war, after all, and would likely do so again. More than a third of the soldiers are Shia conscripts. Many are more loyal to Hezbollah than they are to the legal authorities.

“The Lebanese army is partly controlled by Syria, not like before 1975,” Henry said. “Before 1975 the Lebanese army was pro-Western and neutral toward Israel.”

As we left the city and the suburbs behind, apartment towers were replaced on the side of the road with soft beaches and the floppy leaves of banana trees. The weather was still warm and sunny even late in the year. Lebanon, as always, looked greener than I remember it when I am away.

“How badly was the South hit in July and August?” I asked.

Said laughed and shook his head. “You will see, my friend. You will see.”

We passed through the conservative Sunni coastal city of Saida, where former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was born, and continued down along the Mediterranean toward the southern city of Tyre.

“What exactly, for the record, do you guys do in your organization?” I said.

“We advise the international community on how to implement UN Resolution 1559,” Said said. “And we try to convince Lebanon to be less conservative, more open and liberal and democratic. We try to convince the international community that most of us are not fanatics, to make Lebanon a good example for everyone. We want to live our lives as free people like you do in the US and Europe. We have a right.”

“The Hezbollah camp downtown is ugly,” Henry said. “This is not us. But it shows the world our differences. Most people think we live in a desert and ride camels and are all Muslims.”

“Hezbollah is trying to distract the world from Iran’s nuclear bomb,” Said said, “by making trouble in Lebanon, killings, dissolving the government, and so on. Can you imagine what Iran would do if they got the nuclear bomb? My God. Even right now they do what they want and don’t listen to anyone.”

A young man stood in the middle of an intersection and waved glossy pamphlets at cars. Said pulled alongside him and said something in Arabic.

“What is he handing out?” Noah said and rolled down his window.

“Hezbollah propaganda,” Henry said.

Said stepped on the accelerator.

Noah tried to grab one of the pamphlets.

“I want one of those,” he said. But the Hezbollah man kept the pamphlets tightly clutched in his fingers.

“He is selling them,” Said said, “not giving them away.”

“Oops,” Noah said. “I wasn’t trying to steal one.”

“He doesn’t care about money or propaganda,” Said said. “He is watching. This is the beginning of their territory. He reports on who is coming and what they are doing.”

Hassan Nasrallah (left) and Nabih Berri (right) announce to motorists that they are entering Hezbollah and Amal territory.

“Whenever you see something blown up from here,” Henry said, “it is because it was owned by Hezbollah people or because Hezbollah had something to do with it.”

If you’re familiar with Lebanese politics it’s obvious whose territory you’re in just by looking at roadside political adverts and posters. The Shia regions are divided between the Hezbollah and Amal parties. Amal, also known as the Movement of the Disinherited, is Hezbollah’s sometime rival and sometime ally. It’s a secular party that was founded by the Iranian cleric Moussa Sadr to advance the interests of the long-neglected and voiceless Shia, the poorest and most marginalized Lebanese sect. Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri is the chief of Amal today, and he has forged an uneasy alliance with Hezbollah and with the Syrians. Berri’s face is plastered up everywhere in Amal strongholds, and Nasrallah’s face is even more ubiquitous in Hezbollah territory. Occasionally you’ll see both Berri and Nasrallah together.

What you rarely see in either Hezbollah or Amal areas are Lebanese flags. The Sunni, Druze, and Christian parts of Lebanon are blanketed with the national cedar tree flag, as well as those of various political parties and movements. Only the Shia towns and villages are bereft of noticeable signs of patriotism.

Another striking difference between the Shia regions of Lebanon and the rest is which kind of “martyrs” are famous. Hezbollah and Amal strongholds venerate “resistance” fighters killed in battles with Israel.

You never see anything like this in the Sunni, Christian, or Druze parts of the country. Instead you’ll see portraits of more liberal and moderate Lebanese who were car-bombed by the Syrians.

A poster of Samir Kassir, journalist and activist with the Movement of the Democratic Left, murdered last year by a Syrian car bomb.

Hezbollah glorifies violence and mayhem and murder.

The severed head of an Israeli is shown held up by its hair on one of Hezbollah’s billboards

In the rest of the country you see appeals to peace and life instead.

“No War” stickers left over from the conflict in July are common in Beirut.

The “I Love Life” campaign is intended to counter Hezbollah’s warmongering and “martyrdom” culture.

A “Wage Peace” billboard in the northern suburbs of Beirut

Last year a series of billboards all over Beirut said Say No to Anger, Say No to War, and Say No to Terrorism. Hezbollah would never allow anything of the sort to be erected in their parts of Lebanon, even though I know lots of Shia who agree with those sentiments.

The majority of the people in the South are Shia, but there are some Christian, Sunni, and Druze villages, too.

“The Christians down here are cornered,” Henry said. He could have mentioned that the Sunni and Druze are, as well. “They have no freedom of movement. They only have freedom of speech inside their own villages. Outside their villages they can’t speak or talk to the press unless they leave the South.”

“They have been a long time under Hezbollah control,” Said said. “It’s the same scenario as 1975, only with different players.”

The situation is eerily much like it was in 1975 when Lebanon descended into 15 years of hell and chaos and war. Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization used South Lebanon as a launching pad for terrorist raids into Israel. The Shia who lived there were fiercely opposed to having their land used in this way for a foreigner’s war. Lebanon’s Christians also stridently opposed the use of their country as a battleground by Palestinians. But Lebanon’s Sunni community allowed and even encouraged Yasser Arafat to build himself a state-within-a-state in West Beirut. Street clashes between Christians and Palestinians sparked what eventually became a war of all-against-all that shattered the government and drew in the Syrians, the Iranians, the Americans, and the Israelis.

“Israel was surprised by the war this summer because they neglected Hezbollah after 2000,” Said said. Prime Minister Ehud Barak withdrew the Israeli occupation forces from the “security belt” in South Lebanon in 2000, and wrongly assumed the Lebanese army would take control of the area. Hezbollah moved in instead and immediately dug in for more war. “Nasrallah will go all the way now unless Seniora and Hariri surrender. Only if they surrender will Nasrallah spare them from the final solution.”

This struck me as a bit on the paranoid side. Hezbollah can almost certainly win a defensive war against fellow Lebanese, but no one is strong enough to conquer and rule the whole country.

Iran’s dead tyrant Ayatollah Khomeini lives on as a poster boy in South Lebanon

As we drove through a small village an imam screamed slogans in angry Arabic from the muezzin’s speaker atop a mosque minaret. It was a sharp contrast to what I’m used to hearing from the mosques in Beirut. There the muezzin’s call to prayer is hauntingly beautiful and genuinely spiritual, as though the muezzin himself is no longer tethered to this world. I miss the unearthly singing when I’m in Christian Beirut and when I’m at home.

“What is he saying?” I asked.

“It is about Palestine,” Said said. He listened. “He is saying If we win this fight against the Seniora conspiracy we will only have Palestine to liberate. We won’t have Israel as an obstacle.”

Shrapnel tore holes through a Hezbollah billboard

“They won’t have Israel as an obstacle?” Noah said in a bemused tone of voice.

“Ha, ha, ha, I like this guy,” Henry said.

A convoy of Lebanese army trucks headed north.
“One thing we are worried about,” Said said, “is the weakening of the South because the army has to go north. This is part of the plan.”

We ventured deeper into the South, into the steep rolling hills that make up the region known as the Upper Galilee.

“It’s beautiful here,” Noah said, and kept saying. He had never been there before. “This would be a great place for an artist’s retreat if it weren’t so dangerous.”

“Beautiful country, fanatic people,” Said said.

Most of the villages and towns were more or less intact.

We did, however, drive past the occasional damaged house or places where buildings recently stood and that now were fields of cleared rubble.

Dour-looking men stood on street corners and in the middle of intersections and carefully watched all the cars and people who entered the area.

“You see the watchers?” Said said.

“Yep,” I said. “They couldn’t be any more obvious. Can we get out and talk to people around here?”

“I do not recommend it,” Said said. “They cannot talk freely. These watchers will come up to us if we get out of the car, and they will make sure anyone who talks to us only tells us what they are supposed to say.”

Soon we reached Bint Jbail, Hezbollah’s de-facto “capital” in South Lebanon. The outskirts were mostly undamaged, but the city looks now like a donut. Downtown was almost completely demolished by air strikes and artillery.

“So this is our victory,” Said said. “This is how Hezbollah wins. Israel destroys our country while they sleep safely and soundly in theirs.”

Said parked in the center of what used to be the central market area. The four of us got out of the car. Noah and I walked around, dizzied by the extent of the 360-degree devastation.

Three severe-looking men walked up to Said and Henry.

“Who are they, who are you, and what are you doing?” said the man in charge.

“They are international reporters,” Henry said. Notice that he did not say we were American reporters. “They are here to document Israel’s destruction of our country.”

The men seemed satisfied with that answer and left us alone. Presumably they would continue to leave us alone as long as we didn’t try to interview any civilians. I was glad Henry and Said were there with us. They were the ones asked to do the explaining rather than Noah and me.

I kept snapping pictures.

“Oh man,” Noah said. “Some real pain got dropped on this place.”

The photos don’t do “justice” to the extent of the damage. The destruction was panoramic and near-absolute in the city center.

Apparently the outskirts of town were not seen as threatening by the Israelis. Most of Bint Jbail beyond downtown was unscathed.

We got back in the car. Said looked for the road to Maroun al-Ras, the next hollowed-out southern town on our itinerary. The streets, though, were confusing now that many landmarks no longer existed. Only after a few laps around town could Said re-orient himself.

“Three times on the same road, not good,” Henry said.

It looked – and felt – totalitarian in Bint Jbail. Everyone watched us. If Said was right that the locals weren’t allowed to speak freely (assuming they dissented from Nasrallah’s party line) it must feel totalitarian to people who live there as well.

I asked one of my Shia friends who grew up in Hezbollah’s dahiyeh south of Beirut what would happen if he said “I hate Hezbollah” outside his house on the street.

“I’d get my ass kicked,” he said. “No one would do that.”

We reached Maroun al-Ras only a few minutes after leaving Bint Jbail. This was the first Lebanese village seized by the Israeli Defense Forces during the war. The scene was familiar – much of the center of town had been reduced to rubble.

One site stood out, though. At the top of a hill overlooking the Israeli border stood a mostly intact mosque surrounded by panoramic destruction.

Israel may have over-reacted in July and selected targets (the milk factory, bridges in the north, etc.) that should not have been hit. But the stark scene on the hill of Maroun al-Ras demonstrated that the Israeli military did not bomb indiscriminately as many have claimed. Unlike Hezbollah, the Israelis are able to hit what they want and they don’t shoot at everything. That mosque wouldn’t be standing if they dropped bombs and artillery randomly in the villages.

“My mother is from Deir Mimas,” Said said. “In July Hezbollah brought their weapons out of the caves and valleys and into the village. My family has a small house there that was burned during the war.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“Eh,” Said said. “It’s okay. It is fixed now. Anyway, at first Hezbollah fired their missiles from groves of olive trees. Then they got hit by the Israelis. So they moved into Deir Mimas because the other nearby option was Kfar Kila. Hezbollah didn’t want the Shia villages hit, so they moved into Christian villages instead.”

That sounded right. I recently saw Kfar Kila from the Israeli side. The town is literally right on the border, only twenty feet or so from the fence next to the Israeli town of Metulla. I saw no damage whatsoever in Kfar Kila – and this was one day before the end of the war – but I did hear machine gun fire in the streets ominously close to where I was standing.

The four of us arrived in the Christian village of Ein Ebel just outside Bint Jbail. A man was there waiting for us who would tell us about Hezbollah’s brutal siege of his town in July.

First we stopped for lunch, though, and ordered some pizza and sandwiches. As Said parked the car he turned the dial on the car stereo.

“Do you hear them?” he said. “Do you hear the Israelis?”

Sure enough, scratchy voices in Hebrew came through the crackling static.

“Yep,” I said. “Those are Israelis.”

“We are right next to the border,” Henry said.

We went into the restaurant. Henry and I sat at a table while we waited for food. Said hovered over us, as did Noah with his camera.

“We have been screaming about this conflict for 30 years now,” Henry said as he dealt himself a hand of Solitaire from a deck of cards in his pocket. “But no one ever listened to us. Not until September 11. Now you know how we feel all the time. You have to keep up the pressure. You can never let go, not for one day, one hour, not for one second. The minute you let go, Michael, they will fight back and get stronger. This is the problem with your foreign policy.”

“Since 1975 we have been fighting for the free world,” Said said. “We are on the front lines. Why doesn’t the West understand this? America can withdraw from Iraq, you can go back to Oregon, but we are stuck here. We have to stay and live with what happens.”

To be continued…

Post-script: Please help support independent journalism. I have no corporate backing, and I cannot visit foreign countries and file these dispatches without your assistance.

If you would like to donate money for travel expenses and you don't want to use Pay Pal, you can send a check or money order to:

Michael Totten
P.O. Box 312
Portland, OR 97207-0312

Many thanks in advance.

All photos copyright Michael J. Totten and Noah Pollak

March 14 Forces accuse rivals of preventing solution

March 14 Forces accuse rivals of preventing solution
By Maher Zeineddine
Daily Star correspondent
Tuesday, January 09, 2007

BEIRUT: Lebanon's pro-government forces accused "Hizbullah and its allies" in the opposition on Monday of hampering the government's efforts to resolve the crisis, adding that security forces would respond to the opposition's demonstrations. In response to the opposition's decision to move to "Phase 2" of its campaign to force Premier Fouad Siniora's Cabinet to step down, the March 14 Forces' follow-up committee met at the Progressive Socialist Party's headquarters in Beirut.

Former MP Fares Soueid told reporters that "in the event that the opposition's demonstrations hamper governmental and administrative work, then security and government authorities will respond."

In a statement afterward read by Soueid, the participants said that the only way to resolve the economic crisis was to agree on a reform plan and take advantage of Arab and international support.

The statement said Hizbullah and its allies were trying to "widen the scope of the demonstrations imposed on the Beirut Central District and spread it to other vital areas to paralyze the economy ... and force the Lebanese to succumb to the will of forces standing behind them."

The statement also attacked a call by the General Labor Confederation to hold a demonstration Tuesday near the Institute of Finance in protest against the Cabinet's reform plan for the Paris III donor conference.

The plan is to be forwarded to Paris III, scheduled for January 25, and includes tax reforms, as well as raising VAT rates and the full or partial sale of the mobile-phone sector by the second quarter of 2007.

"[The opposition] sent for the General Labor Confederation, the members of which were raised by the officers of the former Syrian security regime," the March 14 Forces said, adding that the GLC neither cared about the labor syndicates' concerns nor represented them.

The group's statement also alleged that the GLC was "a cover-up behind which Hizbullah and its allies operate in an effort to force Siniora's Cabinet to resign."

"The only way to resolve the financial, economic and social problems burdening the Lebanese since the period of Syrian tutelage and which deepened with the summer Israeli war, is agreeing on a reform plan that would enable Lebanon to benefit from unprecedented Arab and international support," the statement added.

The March 14 Forces also criticized the opposition for not "presenting any alternatives to resolve the country's socioeconomic problems."

The statement added that the pro-government forces "call on the Lebanese people to support the government and the economic recovery plan and to confront their plans aimed at impoverishing them."

It also urged all the Lebanese to "double your efforts at all public and private sectors in order to stress your rooted belonging to the nation and your rejection of plans targeting its sovereignty, security and economy."

Soueid added that the Paris III conference was the only means to overcome the repercussions of the summer war in 2006.

Siniora held a meeting late Monday night with ministers of his Cabinet which was still in progress when The Daily Star went to press. The meeting was held to discuss the current situation and the appropriate government response to the planned GLC strike Tuesday and the opposition's escalation of its campaign to force the government to share power or step aside.

Separately, PSP leader MP Walid Jumblatt said Monday the Paris III conference "represents a new step of the achievements of Siniora's legitimate and constitutional Cabinet."

In remarks to the PSP-affiliated Al-Anbaa newspaper, he urged Speaker Nabih Berri to "assume his political and legislative responsibilities because he is the head of Parliament, which represents all the Lebanese."

Jumblatt said "Hizbullah's 'divine victory' has cost the Lebanese $15 billion and led to destruction of 100,000 homes."

The president of the Lebanese Forces executive committee, MP Samir Geagea, said the opposition's movements would not "yield any results but would deepen the crisis."

Speaking to journalists on Monday, Geagea said the opposition was "acting like a child who starts to rebel when things at home disturb him."

He added that the GLC was formed by the former Syrian security regime.

In a radio interview Monday Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh said the GLC was formed of the "remains of the Syrian security regime in Lebanon." - With Naharnet

Saturday, January 06, 2007

“Next Monday: the launch of the second stage of the opposition’s uprising”

“Next Monday: the launch of the second stage of the opposition’s uprising”

Ibrahime Al-Amine, chairman of the board of directors of Al Akhbar, an independent pro-opposition newspaper, commented in the January 5 issue on the latest political developments in Lebanon. Al-Amine wrote: “The opposition embarked upon a new stage in the sharp confrontations with the ruling team. The discussions that have going on since the holidays focused on coming up with an agenda for protests that aim at tightening the stranglehold on the ruling team and for dealing with any reconciliatory initiative according to a mechanism that doesn’t allow the ruling team to waste more time especially as the opposition has become convinced that the Arab forces handling the initiatives are endorsing the point of view of the ruling team which belongs along with themselves to the ‘moderation’ camp which is supported by the United States and France. This attitude practically lays the ground for dealing differently with any future Arab movements amidst information that the forces of the 14 of March directed a request to the secretary general of the Arab League Amr Moussa to return quickly to Beirut.”

Al-Amine added: “It seems that the attention [of 14 of March forces] is focused on facilitating the Paris-3 conference which makes the 25th of the current month a target by itself for both the ruling team and the opposition. According to the information of those concerned, the discussions [among the opposition] are now based on the fact that the ruling team wants one thing only: to waste time, and the strategy of sabotaging the initiatives used by this team has its supporters outside. There are incessant reports about a role played by the ex Saudi ambassador to Washington the current head of the Saudi national security council Bandar Bin Sultan who is said to practically head the front which considers the opposition in Lebanon “as an extension of the new strategic enemy which is Iran and Syria”. The current actions of the American and French ambassadors in Beirut Jeffery Feltman and Bernard Emie fall in the context of looking for means used by the ruling team to defend itself against the opposition including attempts to revive the “Quartet Alliance” [between Hezbollah, Amal, Future movement, and the Progressive Socialist party] which provides an explanation for the newly found warmness in the relationship between Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah.”

Al-Amine continued: “The visit by Hezbollah’s delegation to Saudi Arabia aroused the anger ‘of the remaining neo conservatives’ in Riyadh and Beirut which resulted first in the infamous Junblatt (the media spokesman for the American-Arab moderation campaign) interview on the Al-Arabiya channel with which he wanted to move the confrontation to another level by giving an extra dose to the issue of the international tribunal by accusing Hezbollah of being involved in the assassinations. Junblatt’s live interview on a network funded by Saudi Arabia, and run by Bandar Bin Sultan’s group and his allies in the Jordanian intelligence services and the CIA, which came a few days after he called for the assassination of Bashar Al-Assad, is linked to Saudi Arabia’s attitude towards what is going on which has not been explained so far except in the context of the raging battles on the Arab scene with Junblatt being a direct member of the axis that supposes that getting rid of Syria and its allies in Lebanon is a prerequisite for guaranteeing the stability of the regime in Lebanon as well as in the other countries…”

Al-Amine added: “There were meetings up till yesterday between the poles of the opposition to prepare for laying a plan that is based on forming a committee that represents the main factions in the opposition and handles the daily coordination that guarantees that the action plan for the protest is ready before the end of this week so that it could be put before the leaders of the opposition which will be followed by drawing timetables to implement it…According to observers, the discussion is revolving around several issues: Reiterating the slogans of the opposition and moving forward in the battle to form a transitional government that would supervises early parliamentary elections. Preparing a paper by the whole opposition that focuses on the economic situation and imposes it on the agendas of the current government or any government that will rise in the future. Preparing a unified attitude regarding dealing with any local or foreign initiative to solve the crisis. Endorsing practical suggestions for union and student protests that would immobilize all the institutions of the state and focusing the movements on killing the government and not the people without stopping too long on the considerations heeded in the past period which focused on avoiding the direct confrontations. After next Monday we will be facing a different reality between the opposition and the authority.” - Al Akhbar Lebanon, Lebanon

“Renewal of land buyouts in Jezzine: demographic goals or commercial ones?”

“Renewal of land buyouts in Jezzine: demographic goals or commercial ones?”

An Nahar, an independent pro government newspaper, reported in its January 5 issue about the latest developments in Lebanon. The newspaper wrote: “The Jezzine area is characterized with a nice geographic location between the Shouf, Biqaa, and the south. It is unique in the context of Christian demographics as the area of concentration for the largest congregation of Christian sects in the south followed by Hasbayya and Marj-El-Oyun. The Jezzine province has constituted across the past decades a symbol for coexistence between the various Lebanese sects as it is home to. Despite the sectarian and religious wars that tore Lebanon, both Christians and Muslims from various sects and its inhabitants managed to protect this uniqueness despite the Israeli occupation of the region and the divisive techniques used by the enemy in that period to spread strife didn’t succeed...”

The newspaper added: “The area of Jezzine is back in the headlines of the media these days not for security, electoral, financial, or development matter as was the usual following the liberation but for a very sensitive issue that concerns the demographic structure of this area: the mass and suspect buying of wide tracts of land in the Jezzine area that doesn’t disappear in one area before appearing in another…During the two last years, the mass purchase of land was again brought to the surface along with fears about changing the demographics of the area amidst renewed talk about settling the Palestinian refugees in Jezzine. This was compounded by confirmed reports that one of the wealthy men from outside Lebanon is buying wide areas of land and presenting incentives…”

The newspaper continued: “But today and after the recent statements by the head of Democratic Congregation MP Walid Junblatt about “mass buyouts of land in Jezzine, Alaih, Suq Al Gharb and others” by “suspect factions using false names”, the problem is worsening again as the reports state that “one of the wealthy businessmen in the Shi’i sect is buying wide tracts of land in the area stretching from the surroundings of the Darayya farm through Al-Qatrani to the Druze village of Al-Sarirah in the western Biqaa”. The same information points out that the “buyer intends to build large apartment buildings on the aforementioned lands as well as stores and gas stations and schools along with all other requirements for human settlement so that the area will turn into a self sufficient town from all the economic, social, and living angles”…” - An Nahar, Lebanon