1.29.2007

The Totalitarian War on Lebanon

The Middle East totalitarian axis represented by the Iranian terrorist armed gang of Hezbullah, is attacking Lebanon's freedom and democracy. Meanwhile, the international community continues its support to Lebanon and its legitimate and democratically-elected independence government and assures the achievements of the Cedar Revolution which kicked out the totalitarian occupation in 2005.

Nevertheless, as I frequently said before, the essential problem was diagnosed and the prescription was and still obvious and stated in the historic UNSC resolution 1559. I frequently warned of not fully implementing this resolution that it would cause Lebanon to be held as a hostage on behalf of some regional totalitarian regimes. So, the international community should do more with the concerned totalitarian regimes to save Lebanon and the democratic project in the Middle East.

Here are some related reports.

Some related posts and articles:

- Lebanon's Independence and Democracy

- Lebanon Under Attack

- Beirut and Iranian Gangs

- Syria's Role in Lebanon

- Totalitarianism, Violence and Terror

- Middle East Totalitarian Axis

- Hariri Assassination Suspects and Independence Government

- Rice on Middle East Crisis and Resolution 1701

- Middle East Salvation

- The International 'New Deal' of the Middle East

- Middle East Totalitarians and Existential Choice



Paris III Provides Lebanon with 7.6 Billion Dollars

Naharnet
25 Jan 07

International donors meeting in Paris on Thursday pledged more than 7.6 billion dollars in aid for Lebanon to bolster the Western-backed government in Beirut and help the country recover from war. Saudi Arabia, the United States, France and multilateral funds led the drive to raise the massive aid package at a donors' conference for Lebanon, which was partly ruined during the July-August war between Hizbullah and Israel.

The biggest pledges came from the World Bank and the European Investment Bank, which together contributed more than two billion dollars (1.5 billion euros).

Saudi Arabia put forward 1.1 billion dollars (846 million euros), the United States gave 770 million dollars and France a loan of 500 million euros (650 million dollars).

"The amount raised totals a little over 7.6 billion dollars," French President Jacques Chirac announced at the meeting attended by more than 40 countries and international organizations.

The meeting was held two days after protests led by the Syrian-backed Hizbullah opposition erupted into violence, leaving three people dead and fueling fears Lebanon could slide back into the civil strife.

"We can't overcome all our problems alone. We need the support of the international community," Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Saniora told the gathering at a Paris convention center.

Saniora has been facing calls from Hizbullah to step down and make way for a new government of national unity that would leave the Syrian- and Iranian-backed movement and its allies with veto power in cabinet.

The billions of dollars in aid were a clear sign of support for the embattled prime minister and provided a lifeline for his government as it battles its opponents and seeks to pull the country away from the brink of financial collapse.

Chirac opened the meeting with an appeal to help Lebanon, saying "a very substantial and immediate financial support from the international community is absolutely indispensable."

Lebanese officials have said they need several billion dollars to rebuild villages and infrastructure devastated in the month-long war between Israel and Hizbullah.

Lebanon's public debt has reached 41 billion dollars (32 billion euros), more than 180 percent of gross domestic product.

Pledges for Lebanon's recovery also came from the Islamic Development Fund offering 250 million dollars and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development with 700 million dollars.

Britain offered 48 million dollars (37 million euros) to a U.N. agency to assist Palestinian refugees, many of whom are in Lebanon.

Much of the aid is in form of grants, soft loans and direct support to the Saniora government which has proposed a five-year reform plan that would see a hike in taxes and privatization.

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Clashes Spread in Beirut Raising Fears of Civil War

Naharnet
25 Jan 07

At least one person was killed and more than 47 people were wounded in spiraling violence between pro and anti-government factions in Beirut Thursday.

Defense Minister Elias Murr ordered a nightime curfew to help the army enforce law and order.The army command said the curfew would last from 8:30 pm Thursday until 6 am Friday.

Security sources said the casualties included 17 wounded soldiers, four of whom are officers.

They said at least 200 cars were smashed in the clashes pitting supporters of the Moustaqbal movement, headed by parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri, against an alliance grouping Hizbullah and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri's Amal movement.

The clash reflects the sharp split between Sunni Muslims, represented by Moustaqbal, and Shiites, led by Hizbullah and Amal.

Police sappers also defused a rocket that was directed at the Moustaqbal newspaper in Beirut, shortly before it was set to launch.

"Luckily they discovered it. It would have resulted in a massacre. The newspaper is packed by journalists at this time of the evening," Editor Nassir al-Assad told Naharnet by telephone.

Staccato bursts of gunfire echoed across the streets as tongues of flame shot up in the sky from dozens of deserted cars.

The sudden outbreak of violence started as a quarrel between students from the Moustaqbal movement and members of the Amal movement at Beirut Arab University.

Hariri, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, Berri and Premier Fouad Saniora issued separate statements urging restraint and calling on all followers of all the factions to withdraw from the streets.

Nasrallah also Issued a Fatwa, or religious ruling, instructing his followers to cooperate with the army and withdraw from the streets.

Ambulances, their sirens wailing, sped across the streets evacuating casualties to Beirut's hospitals.

The state-run Lebanese University and other institutes suspended classes until Monday, in an effort to avoid the spread of violence.

The quarrel started around noontime at BAU and Amal tried to send reinforcements in mini busses from its stronghold in the district of Zokat Blatt to rescue their comrades besieged at the university's soccer stadium in the Sunni District of Tarik Jedideh.

Helmeted troops of the Lebanese army moved into the BAU campus and opened fire in the air to disperse the mad crowd, said a student who was reached by Naharnet through his mobile telephone.

"The situation is very tense. Moustaqbal supporters are at the basketball stadium and Amal followers are at the soccer stadium. Both factions are separated by army troops," said the student who asked not to be identified.

Meanwhile, Residents of Tarik Jedideh, which is a stronghold for the Moustaqbal movement, rushed to back their student comrades, the student reported.

He said followers of both factions used sticks, bottles and even broke desks to use them are weapons in the confrontation.

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Warning of new Lebanon protests

BBC News
24 January 2007

Lebanon is returning to normal after a nationwide anti-government strike led by the Hezbollah faction, but the group has warned of more action to come.
Bulldozers cleared debris from Beirut streets after fighting that saw three people killed and 100 injured.

But Hezbollah and its allies threatened even more dramatic steps if they were not granted a government role.

There was no indication that any deal was reached to end the strike, leaving Lebanese fearful of a new flare-up.

Sectarian tensions

The BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut says people in the city are well aware that there could still be worse to come.

Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, has been campaigning since the beginning of December to replace the Western-backed cabinet with a government in which it would have a veto.

But Prime Minister Fouad Siniora still enjoys strong support from his loose alliance of Sunni Muslims, Christians and Druze, and is backed by powerful outside players, including the US, France and Saudi Arabia.

Our correspondent says that although there has been no explicit statement as to why the strike was lifted, Beirut newspapers suggest Saudi Arabia and Iran may have intervened to reduce sectarian tensions.

Any such development, he says, would be an encouraging sign in a region where sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shia have been rising sharply.

Scorched roads

Many Lebanese found themselves unable to go to work on Tuesday as businesses were closed, roads blocked and flights cancelled.

The strike then turned violent as opposition and government supporters fought in the streets, burning barricades, throwing stones and exchanging gunfire.

Roads around the country were cleared by sunrise, though, after bulldozers took to the streets at night to clear away the burnt remnants of tyre barricades.

Beirut's international airport re-opened on Wednesday morning, reports said.

But the scorched roads and traces of broken glass were a reminder of a traumatic day which people will not be quick to forget, our correspondent says.

The opposition is demanding a big enough share in government to give them veto power over any decisions they do not like - a step the Western-backed government has not been willing to take.

Mr Siniora has said he will stand firm against what he called "intimidation" and government officials insist they have made no concessions to persuade the opposition to back down.

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Nassim Yaziji's Neo-Internationalism

Nassim Yaziji's perspective

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