FROM SCRATCH NEWSWIRE

SCAVENGING THE INTERNET

Archive for the ‘LEBANON’ Category

ALL ‘POSSIBILITIES OPEN’ AGAINST ISRAEL, SAYS HEZBOLLAH (Lebanon)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 9, 2009


January 08, 2009 Thursday – Muharram 10, 1430

Agence France-Presse

PUBLISHED BY ‘DAWN’ (Pakistan)

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘DAWN’ (Pakistan)

Advertisements

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, HATE MONGERING AND BIGOTRY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LEBANON, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE: MURR EXTRACTS PROMISED GIFT OF 10 FIGHTER-BOMBERS – MIG-29S WOULD SUBSTANTIALLY BOOST POWER OF LEBANESE AIR FORCE

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 17, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

by Nicholas Kimbrell – Daily Star staff

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LEBANON, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, RUSSIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

NO POLITICAL CONDITIONS ON RUSSIAN ARMS SUPPLIES FOR LEBANON – Officials: ‘There are no obstacles in terms of equipping the army’

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 10, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

by Andrew Wander – Daily Star staff

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

BEIRUT: Russia will not attach political conditions to any future supplies of military hardware to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), senior defense officials said over the weekend. Speaking after a meeting on Saturday with Mikhail Dimitriev, Russia’s military co-operation chief, Defense Minister Elias Murr said: “There are no obstacles in terms of equipping the army. We prepared for my visit to Russia next week.”

Murr said the path was clear for discussing with his Russian counterpart in Moscow “what could be provided to the LAF.”

A senior Defense Ministry source told The Daily Star the types of weapons that could be supplied have not yet been discussed, but insisted there would be “no political conditions” attached to any arms deals between Russia and Lebanon.

The source said LAF commanders are currently deciding what weapons they would like to obtain from Russia, and said they will meet with Murr before his trip to Moscow, scheduled for December 15, to make him aware of their requests.

Speaking on Saturday, Dimitriev said Russia is keen to encourage regional stability and considers “it very important to see a strong LAF.”

He said that Moscow wishes to “provide a new pulse to our bilateral relations in the military and technical field.”

Dimitriev also met with parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri, whose own visit to Russia in mid-November sparked controversy. Hariri was reported by Russian media to have offered Lebanese recognition for the Russian-backed breakaway Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Hariri as saying that US support to the LAF was limited to light weapons and that Lebanon needed a supplier of more powerful military hardware, including “tanks and artillery.”

The US says it is seeking to bolster Lebanese state forces so that they can establish their authority throughout Lebanon’s territory. Washington considers Hizbullah, which has a strong presence in parts of the country, a “terrorist organization” and believes the best way to undermine it is to build up the power of central state authority.

The Pentagon insists that policy is designed to strengthen the LAF within the country, not to create a “juggernaut” that could challenge regional stability. In particular, Washington does not supply weapons that would challenge Israel’s “qualitative edge” in military hardware, a Pentagon official said last week.

Lebanon is courting several potential arms suppliers apart from the US. Last week, President Michel Sleiman asked the German defense minister, Franz Josef Jung, for alternative tanks but German officials have said the request is unlikely to be granted because of a national law preventing the sales of arms to conflict zones.

On a trip to Iran at the end of November, Sleiman was reported to have struck a deal with defense officials in Tehran that could involve the supply of medium-range rockets and other heavy weapons to the LAF.

Murr is expected to visit Syria soon to discuss defense issues. His trip will come after Jean Kahwaji, the commander of the LAF, met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus to discuss military co-operation, but unlike Kahwaji’s trip, Murr said an agenda would be agreed on in advance and submitted to the Cabinet for approval.

Analysts say that the current round of LAF rearmament is the most substantial since the 1980s, and that the range of potential suppliers demonstrates the fine balance of power in the region.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LEBANON, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, RUSSIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | Leave a Comment »

INTERFAITH DIALOGUE, HYPOCRISY AND PRIVATE LIVES (Lebanon)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 8, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Talal Nizameddin wrote this article for THE DAILY STAR (Lebanon)

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

First person by Talal Nizameddin

I am suffering from a total state of agnosia. Is this the same Michel Aoun who angrily vowed that he would break the head of the Syrian regime? Is this the same Syrian regime that pacified the Lebanese Army soldiers fighting under Aoun’s command and waged a ruthless campaign for 15 years to marginalize the idealistic Free Patriotic Movement supporters? At least I am almost sure that I haven’t been afflicted by amnesia. I remember when the Lebanese felt the thrill of defiance when they beeped their car horns driving through the Nahr al-Kalb tunnel leading to Jounieh from Beirut.

Letting bygones be bygones and forgiveness is a treasured feature of human nature and being an optimist, I say whatever breaks the ice and allows people to move on from a painful past should be welcomed with open hearts. But the process of forgiveness is a long and arduous one. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam it must begin with honesty, leading to confession and then as a final step absolution becomes meaningful. On a human level, in a one-to-one conflict, a discussion must take place that expresses the pain of each side so that there is an understanding of the hopes and fears of the other side before saying sorry reaches a level beyond words and touches the human within us.

It is said that since the end of the Cold War we have been living in the age of the clash of civilizations and the dialogue of faiths. In the Western and pro-Israeli media, Islam is the culprit, with the image of bloodthirsty mad Muslims rampaging through Mumbai killing randomly all those around them the latest episode of terror that does nothing to the great religion they claim to be fighting for. Among Arabs and Muslims it is the Jews who have manipulated the Holocaust tragedy to inflict suffering on Palestinians and Arabs. The Christian West is also blamed for a low-burning decadence that over time has led to the collapse of the world financial markets due to greed and the neglect of the poverty and misery of the so-called Third World.

What is strikingly noticeable about Aoun’s visit is the tour of the historic churches of Syria. The message clearly states that Christianity is safe from the harm of Muslim fanatics in secular Syria. But the manipulation of the clash of civilizations idea has been even better fine-tuned because there is now a distinction between Sunni Islam and Shiite Islam that has been dispersed in our media outlets like a wave of cluster bombs. Thus we have inter and intra-civilization clashes if we are to believe our political experts and TV commentators. Aoun and his supporters have played further on Lebanese Christian emotions, maliciously highlighting the difference between the Shiites, true Lebanese patriots who are fighting Israeli occupation and the Sunnis, bad people who are paid by the Saudis to turn Lebanon into a Wahhabi extension. Even by local standards Lebanese politics has descended to a truly low level.

In fact, the Saudi monarch courageously endorsed a United Nations gathering to promote dialogue among the world’s great religions despite criticisms from no other than Aoun and his comrades in March 8. Despite the good intentions, the Saudis may however be wasting their time. By entering into such discussions the world risks mirroring the same Lebanese facade that religious belief somehow lies at the source of conflict. It evades the powerful economic explanations and the fact that there is a huge gap in wealth between states and between individuals in the world we live in. It also, and just as importantly, diverts attention from the lack of representation, the lack of personal freedoms and the lack of human rights most people in the world endure on a daily basis. Blatant injustice, economic and political, creates extremism and not religions.

The West should not feel too self-satisfied about its state when there are calls for more social justice and greater freedoms. In Britain, as an example of an advanced European country, the state has been shown to fail time and time again in protecting children with one in four children according to a recent study suffering from sexual abuse. Crime is rampant and ethics are barely visible in the business and political realms. As in the United States, a philosophy of “grabbing hands grab what they can” has reigned for decades. Support for oppressive regimes, particularly here in the Middle East, is justified in the name of good diplomacy but the arming of parties fuelling regional conflicts is also considered good business sense.

If most sensible people agree that finding a solution to the Palestinian problem, which has nothing to do with religion, will make the Middle East and the world a better place, why on earth has it been so difficult for the world’s only superpower to convince Israel to accept a neighboring viable Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza? If the United States is truly a democracy, then I must concur with the people I despise the most, the religious fanatics, that blaming the elected leader of the United States is futile because the American people must shoulder their moral responsibility to force their government into a strategic change in their approach. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a political problem with a human dimension. It is simply about national self-determination and not religious fanaticism or civilizational clashes. Palestinians and Jews belong to the same religious family chart, whether they like to admit or not although undoubtedly their historic experiences have diverged.

Nowhere has the mythology of sectarian and religious warfare been more prevalent than in Lebanon. I am still surprised how many Western observers take for granted the cliches about Muslim-Christian divisions characterizing Lebanese society. In reality, Lebanon is more of a clan-based system, with chiefs of clans or communities often but not necessary being defined by their religious beliefs. It just so happens that the sect is an important form of self-identification that is manipulated for conflicts, whether it is over land or political power. That is why within Lebanese sects there are often more than one chief. Take the Maronites as an example of multiple chiefs or zaims, Suleiman Franjieh, Samir Geagea, Michel Aoun, Amin Gemayel and Dori Chamoun all godfathering their own loyal communities. Even the ideological Hizbullah recognizes the need to respect the independence of the unruly clans of Baalbek in return for acknowledgement.

In Lebanon inter-communal relations and divisions are far more complex than simple religious divides. The downside of this system is that the individual is forced into belonging into a clan, because the collective of clans are far more powerful than the formal state. Only the community can protect the individual. In Lebanon, individuals do not have private lives, as is the case in the West, because they are the property of the family, the village, the community. The pattern is the same among all of Lebanese sects. But then again, free from the regional political conflicts, the interference from outside and the flaws in the internal political system, why should we accept that the community is a lesser entity than the state in its value?

Some Western political theorists have even called for a return to communalism as a result of the social failures of the modern state. The Lebanese model offers the opportunity of creating a political system that safeguards communities and also protects the rights of individuals living within them because the hypocritical and simply false pretense of a unified centralized state has been unworkable and shows no signs of succeeding. The Lebanese want their personal liberty, social justice and their community at one and the same time. It is no easy task but where there is a will there is a way and Lebanon could present the world with an example to be emulated around the world. Lebanon’s greatness and loyalty from its citizens could be reinforced by the historic achievement of harmonious and fraternal communal cohabitation. The first step is liberation from the old slogans and working for the common good without playing on communal fears to achieve personal ambitions. When a zaim such as Aoun tours with an open heart the various neighborhoods of Beirut rather than the churches of Syria we would have began reaching the final step toward that sacred goal.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in AL QAEDA, CHRISTIANISM, EUROPE, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND CONSCIENCE, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISLAM, JUDAISM, LEBANON, PALESTINE, RELIGIONS, SAUDI ARABIA, SYRIA, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE LEBANESE CIVIL STRUGGLE, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), THE UNITED NATIONS, UNITED KINGDOM, USA, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

LEBANESE ECONOMY EVADES EFFECTS OF GLOBAL CRISIS – REPORT

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 8, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Lebanon This Week, with The Daily Star

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

BEIRUT: In its first report on Lebanon’s economy since the global financial crisis, the Institute of International Finance (IIF) indicated that there were no noticeable direct effects of the global financial turmoil on Lebanon and sovereign spreads have increased less than in other emerging markets in October and November 2008, according to Byblos Bank’s Lebanon This Week.

The report said that Lebanese banks have few direct links to foreign counterparts affected by the current financial market turmoil, and that the sector’s regulatory framework has limited banks’ exposure to structured products that have been at the core of the global crisis.

It added that the banking system remains well-capitalized and highly liquid.

The IIF added that macroeconomic developments have improved significantly since the Doha accord last May, but warned that the main risk to the outlook comes from a potential deterioration in the political and security situation in the run up to the May 2009 parliamentary elections.

It projected economic growth at 5.5 percent in 2008 and at 3.5 percent in 2009, adding that the spillover from the global economic slowdown could adversely affect tourism and construction activity.

It also noted that consumer price inflation peaked in July 2008 at 14 percent year-on-year, reflecting the sharp rise in commodity prices, and then declined to 10 percent in September. It expected inflation to average 12 percent in 2008.

The IIF considered that fiscal performance improved in 2008 and estimated the primary surplus to slightly exceed 2 percent of GDP this year.

But it cautioned that the overall fiscal deficit, while narrowing, remains very large due to the continued large interest payments on the public debt, and projected a deficit of 9.8 percent of GDP in 2008. The report forecast a fiscal deficit of 9 percent of GDP for 2009.

The IIF said Lebanon’s large public debt remains the country’s core macroeconomic challenge. It added that the government faces sizeable gross financing needs of $5.5 billion in 2009.

The report also predicted public debt to decline to 165 percent of GDP by the end of 2008.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in 'DOHA TALKS', BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INFLATION, INTERNATIONAL, ISLAMIC BANKS, LEBANON, MACROECONOMY, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LEBANESE CIVIL STRUGGLE | Leave a Comment »

BEIRUT BOURSE TRACKS LOSSES ABROAD (Lebanon)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 8, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

BlomInvest, with The Daily Star

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

BEIRUT: With the deepening world recession, the Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE) continued to mimic the performance regional Arab stock exchanges that on average have fallen around 43 percent from the start of the year.

On a weekly basis, total volume of trades increased 48 percent to 1.29 million shares as investors rushed to liquidate their portfolios. But the corresponding value decreased 33 percent to $10.29 million on declining share prices that sank the BLOM Stock Index to a 52-week low of 1,183 with a year-to-date drop of 21 percent.

Of the 26 listed stocks on the Beirut Stock Exchange, 11 stocks exchanged hands this past week, of which 2 went up and 9 decreased. Solidere stocks represented 64.9 percent of the total value traded.

The banking sector accounted for the remaining 35.1 percent. In the banking sector, BLOM GDR dropped this week by 2.08 percent to $68.4 after trading 7,830 shares at $533,187. Audi Bank’s GDR stock went down by 3.65 percent to close at $54.1 following trades of 9,460 shares with a value of $518,676. Byblos Bank’s common stock increased slightly this week by 0.61 percent to $1.65 recording a volume of 566,400 shares valued at $939,953. On the other hand, its preferred stock class 2008 dropped by 2 percent to $97.9. Solidere stocks remained vulnerable this week as its A shares dipped 4.58 percent to close at $16.66, Solidere B also dropped 2.65 percent to $16.87.

As described last week, the overall situation on the Beirut Stock Exchange remains volatile and vulnerable to the ongoing financial crisis.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in ALGERIA, BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EGYPT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INTERNATIONAL, ISLAMIC BANKS, LEBANON, LYBIA, MIDDLE EAST, MOROCCO, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, STOCK MARKETS, THE ARABIAN PENINSULA, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

LEBANON FINDS AUSSIE TERRORIST BELAL SAADALLAH KHAZAAL GUILTY

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 18, 2008

November 15, 2008

by Natalie O’Brien

Article from: The Australian

A FORMER Qantas employee who became the second person convicted Belal Saadallah Khazaal, of Lakemba, in Sydney, Australiaunder Australia’s tough anti-terror laws has been found guilty in absentia of terrorism charges in Lebanon.

At a sentencing hearing in the NSW Supreme Court yesterday, lawyers for Belal Saadallah Khazaal, who has been found guilty of producing a book knowing it could assist in a terrorist act, argued that his convictions in Lebanon should not be taken into account because he was never able to put his side of the case.

Khazaal, 38, of Lakemba in Sydney’s southwest, was convicted in absentia in Lebanon for his alleged involvement in funding the 2003 bombing of a McDonald’s restaurant in Beirut.

He was sentenced in absentia to 15 years for falsifying a passport for another Australian man who had fled to Lebanon from Australia.

This information was not revealed to the jury in his NSW Supreme Court trial, at which he was convicted in September of producing a book described as a “do-it-yourself terrorism guide” containing an assassination hit-list that included US President George W. Bush.

In the first conviction of its kind in Australia, Khazaal was found guilty of the offence of compiling a book knowing it could assist in a terrorist act.

However, the NSW Supreme Court jury failed to reach a verdict on a second charge against Khazaal of attempting to incite a terrorist act.

On that basis, Khazaal’s barrister, George Thomas, argued that any sentence handed down to his client must be at the lower end of the scale.

Khazaal was arrested and charged in June 2004 over the publication on the internet of a 110-page book titled Provision on the Rules of Jihad – short judicial rulings and organisational instructions for fighters and mujahideen against infidels.

He was among the first people charged after the federal Government introduced tough new terrorism laws in late 2003.

Khazaal’s conviction followed that in June 2006 of Sydney architect Faheem Khalid Lodhi, who became the first person convicted under the new laws.

The book listed various means of assassination, including letter-bombs, booby-trapping cars, kidnappings, poisonings and shooting down planes.

The book also contained a hit-list of officials and countries to be targeted, including Australia and the US.

In the Supreme Court yesterday, Khazaal’s close friend and doctor Tamir Khalil said Khazaal was suffering from medical ailments including a possible neurological condition that might have affected his behaviour at the time of the offence.

Dr Khalil said he had known Khazaal for many years and had never known him to display any violent tendencies, or even to talk about violence. But the doctor said Khazaal’s medical history indicated a possibility he might have a tumour on his brain and this should be investigated.

Khazaal’s wife, Mervat, gave evidence, telling the court her husband spent a lot of time working with angry Muslim youths, trying to protect them from their own emotions.

“He tried to cool them down,” Ms Khazaal told the court.

She described her husband as a lovely man who was honest and generous and respected her.

During the trial, US terrorism expert Evan Kohlmann described the book as a do-it-yourself guide to terrorism aimed at people who did not have Osama bin Laden’s telephone number.

Khazaal will be sentenced at a date to be fixed next year.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE AUSTRALIAN’

Posted in AUSTRALIA, INTERNATIONAL, JUDICIARY SYSTEMS, LEBANON | Leave a Comment »

LAHOUD: PRIORITY IS TO DEFEND LEBANON, NOT DISARM HIZBULLAH – ‘Israel is the enemy of all the Lebanese people’ – Abu Faour

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 18, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

by Nicholas Kimbrell – Daily Star staff

BEIRUT: A successful national defense strategy is not about disarming Hizbullah, but about protecting THE ISRAELI WALL IN PALESTINELebanon, Minister of State Nassib Lahoud said Friday at a conference on the future of Lebanon’s national defense strategy. “We do not want Lebanon to be a battlefield for Israel or a comfort gift for a loser in the region,” he said.

Lahoud delivered his comments during a plenary session, entitled “The Regional Environment and its Effects on Lebanon,” on the first day of a national defense conference at the Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure Center.

The conference, hosted by the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA), aims to contribute to the ongoing national defense strategy talks in Lebanon – the centerpiece of national dialogue sessions chaired by President Michel Sleiman.

Speakers and attendees at Friday’s session included a collection of parliamentarians, Cabinet members, retired military brass, and academics.

The two-day conference comes at a pivotal time for Lebanon’s fledgling defense strategy talks – in the wake of Sleiman’s suspension of national dialogue sessions until late December and as the rival March 14 and March 8 coalitions debate competing defense proposals presented last week.

At the opening ceremony, Arab League representative Hisham Youssef, speaking on behalf of the organization’s secretary general, Amr Moussa, said that the conference was in a position to provide “recommendations and proposals that will enrich the national dialogue.”

The primary national duty of the Lebanese people and the citizens of the Arab world is to “put our efforts into preventing the vicious cycles of conflict and tension,” Youssef said, adding that Lebanon must commit itself to civil security and restrain from violent rhetoric and actions.

Many speakers followed suit, highlighting the ongoing threats facing Lebanon and the vulnerability of its state institutions. Ali Fayyad, a professor at the Lebanese University and president of the Consultative Center for Studies and Documentation, noted Lebanon’s fragility and the precariousness of its internal divisions.

“Lebanon is a very fragile state … where institutions are incapable of absorbing political divisions,” Fayyad said. He cited Iraq and Palestine as other places where populations are forced to handle domestic discord, abetted by regional sponsorship.

Fayyad was one of the few representatives of the March 8 opposition bloc, and his commentary sparked lively responses from the audience, particularly remarks concerning relations with Iran and the importance of direct democracy.

Given the politically motivated spirit behind much of the discussion on Lebanon’s national defense policy, several partisan themes and disagreements were revisited Friday. Questions over Hizbullah’s arms, and over relations with Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia and the preeminent threat posed by Israel extended seminar blocks well beyond their allotted times.

Minister of State Wael Abu Faour said Israel remained the chief enemy of all Lebanese, regardless of their confessional and political affiliations.

“We are all convinced that Israel is the enemy of all the Lebanese people,” he said. “Of course, there are different enemies for different parties, but Israel is the common enemy.”

This sentiment was echoed by Lahoud, who noted that “we know Israel is the enemy.”

In his opening remarks Youssef saluted the success of the resistance in defending Lebanon from Israel, but said that the Arab League would like to see it operate in coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to bolster the legitimacy of the state.

Michel Nawfal, the foreign editor of the Mustaqbal daily, a newspaper owned by the March 14-aligned Future Movement, argued for the need of a new conception of national security. Hizbullah should not be allowed to make decisions of war and peace without first consulting with the government, he said.

Nawfal proposed the idea of a “critical red line” with Israel, one that when violated could authorize the use of the resistance’s military capacity.

Speaking about the threat posed by Israel, professor and retired General Elias Hanna emphasized the importance of distinguishing between enemies and dangers.

“An enemy [can] bring us problems and a friend can bring us problems as well,” Hanna said in a tacit reference to both Israel and Syria. Due to these divergent dangers, he added, “defense strategy is a living thing.”

Mohammad Abbass, also a retired general and defense analyst, noted the many difficult choices facing the state and the Lebanese Army.

He noted that integrating Hizbullah into to the army could have negative consequences like diminishing defensive flexibility and potentially realigning the political orientation of the LAF.

Ultimately, Abbass said, the state must exercise control over the country. “Building the identity of Lebanon should go through building the army,” he said. But he added that “in its current state [the army] is unable to address these threats.”

Other panelists suggested that pursuing a national defense strategy before Lebanon’s spring parliamentary elections and Israel’s snap elections planned for early 2009 seemed a bit premature.

INEGMA, the host of the conference, which continues Saturday, will be opening an office in Beirut in the coming months.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, LEBANON | Leave a Comment »

SEN. CLINTON’S VIEWS ON U.S. FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 17, 2008

Saturday November 15, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sen. Hillary Clinton has emerged as a candidate for U.S. secretary of state – SENATOR HILLARY CLINTONthe top diplomat in the administration of President-elect Barack Obama, who defeated her for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Here are some views on foreign policy issues expressed by Clinton, wife of former President Bill Clinton.

IRAQ

“Ending the war in Iraq is the first step toward restoring the United States’ global leadership,” Clinton wrote a year ago in an article in Foreign Affairs magazine. U.S. troops had to be brought home safely and stability restored to the region, she said.

But on the campaign trail, Clinton was more reluctant than Obama to commit to a firm timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. She refused to apologize for her 2002 Senate vote authorizing the war, but did say she would like to have that vote back to do over.

AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN AND AL QAEDA

During the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the United States should focus more on improving security in Afghanistan. She has called for greater U.S. troop deployments there. She also has suggested a U.S. envoy who could shuttle between the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan to help them in their efforts against a resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda presence in their countries.

IRAN

A big question for Obama’s secretary of state will be how to approach Iran. The Bush administration, which accuses Iran of seeking to build a nuclear bomb and helping militant groups in Iraq, has generally HILLARY RODHAM CLINTONshunned contacts with Tehran.

During the Democratic presidential primary campaign, Clinton charged that Obama’s willingness to meet leaders of Iran, Syria and North Korea was evidence of his naivete about foreign policy. She has threatened to “obliterate” Iran if it uses nuclear weapons against Israel.

But Clinton also has argued for engaging Iran, Syria and other countries of the region in talks about the future of Iraq. And one of her top foreign policy advisors, Richard Holbrooke, a former assistant secretary of state, suggested recently that U.S. contacts with Iran should start through private and confidential channels to determine if there is a basis for continuing.

MIDDLE EAST

Clinton stresses the need for Arab-Israeli peace, but is considered a favorite of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States. She says the fundamentals are a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank in return for a declaration that the conflict is over, recognition of Israel’s right to exist, guarantees of Israeli security, diplomatic recognition of Israel and normalization of its relations with Arab states.

“U.S. diplomacy is critical in helping to resolve this conflict,” she said in her article in Foreign Affairs in November-December 2007. She said the United States should help get Arab support for a Palestinian leadership that is willing to engage in a dialogue with the Israelis.

RUSSIA AND ARMS CONTROL

“I think she would probably be tough-minded toward Russia,” said Kim Holmes, vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the Heritage Foundation. “She has a reputation of being tough-minded generally, she is known and respected for that.”

Clinton has however criticized the Bush administration’s “obsessive” focus on “expensive and unproven missile defense technology” — one of the major points of contention recently in the U.S. relationship with Russia.

She favors further reducing U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, and also favors U.S. Senate approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

CHINA AND NORTH KOREA

Clinton has said the U.S. relationship with China will be the most important bilateral relationship in the world this century. Noting China’s support was important in reaching a multilateral deal to disable North Korea’s nuclear facilities, she says “we should build on this framework to establish a northeast Asian security regime.”

TRADE

Like Obama, Clinton has said the United States should either renegotiate or “opt out” of the North American Free Trade Agreement that was reached with Canada and Mexico during her husband’s administration. She also has called for a “timeout” from new trade agreements and a top-to-bottom review of trade policy.

Copyright © 2008 Reuters

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE STAR’ (Malaysia)

Posted in AFGHANISTAN, AL QAEDA, CHINA, COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAN, IRAQ, ISRAEL, LEBANON, MIDDLE EAST, NORTH KOREA, PAKISTAN, PALESTINE, RUSSIA, SYRIA, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »