Feud of the Month: Sfeir Vs. Arslan
In Khaldeh and during Patriarch Sfeir's visit.
Minister of State Talal Arslan called for Lebanon to maintain its
responsibilities toward the Arabs and the Arab cause
Patriarch Sfeir: "But we also have to protect our identity, Lebanese first
and then Arab as stipulated by our Constitution,"
Minister of State Talal Arslan said that the relationship with Syria protects
the country's sovereignty and its independence.
Patriarch Sfeir: "We want our ties with Syria to remain strong, but we do
need our sovereignty and independence,"
A Good Ending for quotes
"It is not only dangerous. In reality, to generally describe Christians as
having a nostalgia to I don't know what type of relations with Israel is at
the same time factually false and politically criminal"
Minister Ghassan Salameh to L'Orient Le Jour .
But that is not what he said when he met with ELIE BERNABI the head of the Jewish community in paris?
Why is Israel doing what is doing?
The recent unrest "may well have been masterminded by the Israelis to switch
international attention away from what they are doing in the West Bank and
Public Works and Transport Minister Najib Mikati
Comment: Not only we are called traitors but gullible as well.
Information Minister Ghazi Aridi sarcastically talked about the
authorities' ability to root out an alleged Israeli conspiracy within "15
minutes" but to uncover the identity of those responsible for attacking
protesters at the Justice Palace almost two weeks ago. 08/22/01
Comment: We believe that films, pictures and witnesses do not constitute as
"We bless this role and hail the efforts and the souls of the martyrs from
this movement and other factions of the Palestinian people and we assert that
they are not alone in this battle,"
Information Minister Ghazi Aridi "blessed (ing) the great role" of the
Islamic Palestinian movement Hamas, which carried out a suicide bombing
killing 18 Israelis.
News Round up
Nicolas Nassif writes that the political tensions between the various power centers in town are abating. Joumblatt, who is on an equal footing from all parties, has been charged with playing a mediating role between them. Hariri and Lahoud have been asked by the Syrians to cool off their tensions. The relations between the various parties had reached a very dangerous level of behavior and all avenues of dialogue had been closed in the events of the last three weeks. Berri has played a neutral role during this crisis trying to appease the belligerents to no avail. Hariri's lengthy holiday in Sardinia was seen by many as a sulking exercise, in which all the state apparatus is brought to a standstill and could lead to a constitutional deadlock. Hariri knows that they would not be able to find a prime minister who is willing to replace him under such circumstances and that he is the only person who can save the economic situation of the country. Hariri is being asked to accept the heavy-handed events that occurred without getting something in return. He is reminded that the "security file" has been entrusted with Lahoud and that he is only responsible for the "economic file".
It is his stubborn insistence to strictly stick to his constitutional powers that led to this crisis. Damascus reminded him that he is sharing power with Lahoud who has the full backing of Bashar Assad.
Sarkis Naoum analysed Syria's fears in Lebanon. The Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon last May and the subsequent death of Hafez Assad triggered a war between those who want to reduce Syria's influence in Lebanon with or without the help of the Israelis and the ones who are clinging to power with the help of Syria. The anti-government nationalists wanted to test the resolve of the still inexperienced heir of Hafez Assad, who has tried to unleash new policy initiatives both in Lebanon and Syria, but is always afraid that things can get out of hand. Bashar's fears can be summarized as follows:
First, the refusal by many Lebanese including Hariri to accept the role of Hizbullah in the South in its attempt to continue the military struggle against Israel in the Shebaa Farms, when the liberation can be achieved in a peaceful way through diplomatic channels. Second, the unanimous pressure on the government to send the Lebanese army to the border, backed up by western diplomatic maneuvers, which practically means the end of the resistance in the South and the loss of the last trump card Syria has in its effort to pressure Israel to return the Golan Heights. Third, the Maronite bishop's statement last September that put the blame on Syria for all the economic problems Lebanon is facing, demanding the full withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon. Fourth, the visit of Patriarch Sfeir to the U.S., where he deplored the Syrian presence in Lebanon. Fifth, the tabling of the Syrian troop withdrawal in the Lebanese parliament for the first time ever by Christtian and Moslem MPs alike.
Sixth, the strengthening of the Maronite-Druze alliance in the last parliamentary elections that culminated in the historic visit of Patriarch Sfeir to the Chouf. Seventh, the attempt by many Lebanese factions, even the ones allied to Syria, to control the security apparatus by submitting them to the rule of the constitutional institutions, i.e. the government.
Eighth and final threat to Syria's hegemony was the support of the reformers in Syria by the Lebanese Press which offered a platform for them to express their opinion about the liberalization of Syrian institutions.
Those eight threats do not negate the fact that there is a clear struggle between those who "control" the institutions in Lebanon and who claim that they are the only ones that can secure the strategic interests of Syria, and that the rest are trying to undermine Syria's role in Lebanon. The "others" failed to convince Syria that Lebanon as a faithful ally, not a puppet by force, through a true national reconciliation, a balanced government which protects democracy and human rights, can be more useful to Syria. Democracy and security do not necessarily contradict each other. Security protects democracy if it respects the laws, and democracy does not mean chaos. The success of the Democratic movement in Lebanon is dependent on three factors: First, national unity and second, the Arab and foreign effective support, both of which are not available due to other priorities in the area. Thirdly, get Syria convinced that a democratic Lebanon is much more useful to her strategically than the current situation.
Samir Kassir pointed to a bigger conspiracy than the Israeli conspiracy that the courts are being dragged into. It is the conspiracy of silence that attempts to portray what happened as something normal: the indiscriminate round-up of people followed by beatings and illegal interrogations ending with a release against a "ransom".The government has behaved like a militia by literally "knocking" the opposition out under the pretext of preserving "public peace". What public peace there is by beating up the population into submission?Those people have violated the Lebanese Constitution which supports the human rights of its citizens, and are liable, if they read, to future legal proceedings by international courts, witness what is happening now in Europe