Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Global Movement to Save Jerusalem

The Global March to Jerusalem joins the voices of concern in Jerusalem, Palestine and, indeed, the world over, about the latest as well as consequent threats to the al-Aqsa Masjid and the Dome of the Rock, as well as the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem and the policy of “Judaisation” that the Zionist leadership is pursuing with the explicit intent of removing Muslim, Christian, Arab and all other traces of non-Jewish history, culture, religion, archaeology and demography from the city of Jerusalem and all other areas under Zionist control.

Over the course of the last months in particular, the Zionists, with the backing of their regime and its Military Occupation Forces, have made many forays onto the Haram al-Sharif. On 9th of August, we fear a possible showdown with disastrous consequences, where the fanatical Zionists will invade the Haram Sharif and even attempt to destroy the two Masjids. Thus acting now is really a matter of grave urgency for the world.

The latest incidents include a statement by the Zionist government’s Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on 17th of July 2012 that the al-Aqsa Masjid is on Israeli territory and subject to Israeli sovereignty! The statement included no recognition of the special status of waqf (Islamic charitable trust) lands, or of the religious authorities governing such lands.

According to Islamic Movement deputy head Shaikh Kamal al-Khatib, the Zionist-controlled Municipality of Jerusalem also recently declared the open spaces of the al-Aqsa compound to be public areas, which means they have the same status as any park areas in the city and are therefore accessible to all with or without the control of al-Aqsa authorities. This has enabled Knesset members and other Zionist advocates of demolishing the Muslim holy sites to force their way onto the compound during Ramadan with the protection of armed Zionist forces, and display Israeli flags as part of rituals intended to further their project to destroy the historic Muslim sites and replace them with a Jewish temple complex (see illustration).

While enabling the presence of Zionist extremists bent upon destruction, the armed forces also removed around twenty nighttime worshipers on 25th July, the 6th day of Ramadan, including al-Aqsa Imam Shaikh Yusuf Abu Sneina, who was detained for an unspecified period of time. Until now no explanation for this action has been given. A similar incident took place again on 29th July (10 Ramadan), according to al-Aqsa authorities, with two persons being seized.

The Zionist authorities are now preventing Palestinian men between the ages of 12 to 40 from making the Ramadan pilgrimage to al-Aqsa Masjid. They have have also resumed their demolition of the historic Al-Magharibah Bridge, work which many fear will undermine the Masjid’s foundation. And finally, Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad has ruthlessly called for al-Aqsa Masjid to be “cut up” and moved to make way for the so-called Third Temple, which he threatens will be built soon.

All of the these actions are not only shameful and discriminatory against non-Jews but also violations of international law, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 18).

These latest actions are part of the coordinated policy called “Judaisation” by the Zionist authorities. It includes the burning and defacing of Christian churches, the expulsion of Christian and Muslim Palestinians from the city of Jerusalem and from their homes throughout Palestine, the demolition of Palestinian homes, the confiscation of property, the denial of building permits, and many other forms of deliberate ethnic cleansing. This policy of Judaisation is in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) on the rights of peoples living under occupation as well as dozens of resolutions of the United Nations censuring the Zionist state.

Israeli Occupation authorities have now initiated steps toward the transfer of Palestinian neighbourhoods, located east of the Apartheid Wall to the responsibility of the Israeli Occupying Forces. In addition, historic Palestinian archaeological treasures dating back up to two thousand years have been demolished and covered with new structures for the purpose of effacing most of the history of Palestine, which is predominantly Muslim and Christian Arab in culture and religion. The latest examples of this malicious policy are the ongoing construction of a Jewish “Museum of Tolerance” on the religious and historic Ma’manillah cemetery, which dates back to the 7th century and where the companions of the Prophet Mohammad and thousands of the righteous, officials, scholars, notables and Jerusalemite families have been buried, as well as the destruction of palaces from the Umayyad period near al-Aqsa in the Old City.

In this destruction of Christian heritage, the extremist Christian Zionists are as culpable in this crime as are the Jewish Zionists. We affirm that Christian Zionism is a blot on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the compassionate message of the Bible. The sacred Christian sites like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of the Nativity themselves are under similar threat as well.

In the absence of the world’s governments to take swift and decisive action we call upon all the peoples of the world to join the effort to prevent the “Judaisation” of Jerusalem and the destruction of the al-Aqsa Masjid. The Global March to Jerusalem strongly condemns this Zionist project in Palestine, the explicit purpose of which is to erase the overwhelmingly Arab indigenous culture, history and language. We believe that a global movement in support of Palestinian rights and objectives is needed in order to stop this form of ethnic and cultural genocide and to restore the human rights of the people of Palestine, and especially the inalienable right of all Palestinians to return to their homes.

GMJ-International Executive Committee
August 8th 2012


For more information please call the spokesman of the GMJ “Mr. Zaher Birawi” on mobile No. 00447850896057 or visit our website:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Protesters Attacked in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Police Fire on Qatif Protesters

Al-Akhbar English
Friday, July 27 2012

Saudi security forces opened fire on protesters in the tense Qatif district of the Eastern Province on Friday, wounding several as hundreds marched to demand political reform and the release of detainees, witnesses said.

Live rounds fired by anti-riot police wounded a number of protesters who took to the streets in the early hours, the witnesses said, without specifying a figure.

The interior ministry said security forces dealt with "rioters who burned tires" in parts of Qatif, arresting several people, including Mohammed al-Shakhuri, whose name figures on a list of 23 wanted people.

"There were no casualties," the ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

Witnesses said that Shakhuri had been taken to the military hospital in nearby Dhahran with bullet wounds to his back and neck.

The demonstrators carried posters of detainees, including prominent cleric Nimr al-Nimr who was violently arrested earlier this month, witnesses said.

In recent days, confrontations have intensified between police and protesters from the kingdom's marginalized Shia minority – estimated at around two million and mostly concentrated in the oil-rich Eastern Province.

Two protesters were killed earlier this month, triggering protests at government buildings in Qatif.

The district witnessed a spate of protests after an outbreak of violence between Shia pilgrims and religious police in the Muslim holy city of Medina in February last year.

The protests escalated when the kingdom led a force of Gulf troops into neighboring Bahrain the following month to help crush a pro-democracy uprising against the hardline Sunni monarchy.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Renewing the Palestinian Brotherhood?

Egypt's Morsi Meets Hamas Chief

Agence France Presse
19 July 2012

Cairo — Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi met Palestinian Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal on Thursday, a day after hosting his rival Mahmud Abbas amid scrutiny over how Cairo's policy on the Palestinians might change.

The Islamist Morsi affirmed his support for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip which is ruled by Hamas, Meshaal said after the meeting.

"Morsi affirmed Egypt's support for Palestinians in Gaza, which confirms a new era in relations between Egypt and the Palestinian cause," said Meshaal, in comments published by the Egyptian state news agency MENA.

Hamas hailed the "historic" meeting, the first between a delegation from the Palestinian movement and an Egyptian head of state.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya will meet Morsi, for the first time, in Cairo next week, Haniya's office said.

Israel and Egypt have partly blockaded Gaza, which neighbours both nations, since 2007, when Hamas violently routed Abbas's Fatah from the coastal enclave.

Egypt's ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak eased the blockade in 2010, but did not allow commercial traffic through the Rafah border crossing as Hamas had hoped.

Morsi, in the past an outspoken backer of the Palestinians who pledged during his campaign for the presidency to support their "right of resistance" against Israel, has adopted a more subdued tone since his election.

Under Mubarak, Egypt had tried to broker a reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, which foundered amid accusations between the rivals.

Meshaal said Morsi would soon schedule a meeting with him and Abbas to push the unity deal.

Fatah, which governs the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, signed a national reconciliation agreement in April 2011 in Cairo under Egyptian mediation.

Under this deal the two governments should make way for a non-partisan transitional executive charged with organising elections within a year. However the text remains a dead letter.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The American Spring in Yemen

US Ambassador in Yemen: The New Dictator

The American ambassador increasingly casts himself in the guise of leader, with the acquiescence of bickering Yemeni politicians and military chiefs.

By Jamal Jubran
Al-Akhbar English
Tuesday, July 10 2012

Sanaa - His Excellency the Ambassador of the United States, Gerald Feierstein, arrives at the Italian ambassador’s residence to attend an Italian national day reception. He walks in with a frown, disregarding the other guests, and makes for a far corner of the garden with a glass of red wine in hand. Within moments, a gaggle of senior Yemeni officials rush towards him, each wanting to discuss a problem he is facing in running his respective department.

The scene is a microcosm of how Yemen has become under the trusteeship imposed on the country since a “consensual solution” to its political crisis was reached. This led both to the departure of President Ali Abdallah Saleh under the terms of the so-called Gulf Initiative, and to a firm line being drawn under Yemen’s youth-led revolution.

The same American ambassador appeared on Yemeni TV screens in an interview with the state channel and declared “we will not allow” the release of imprisoned journalist Abdel Ilah Shaeh, who was sentenced to five years in jail after exposing the killing of 35 women and children in a US drone strike in December 2009. Feierstein explained that Shaeh had extensive links with al-Qaeda and posed a threat to the security of the US.

He thus overruled for a second time the presidential pardon that the respected journalist obtained from Saleh before the outbreak of the revolution last year. The first time, a quick phone call from President Barack Obama was enough for Saleh to shelve the pardon and keep Shaeh behind bars.

The US and its envoy do not stop at that. When Yemeni journalists held a protest march to the American embassy to protest against what the ambassador said about their detained colleague, they saw vehicles used for transferring prisoners entering the embassy compound. It was learned that these vehicles convey terrorism suspects from the nearby central jail for interrogation inside the compound under the supervision of FBI terrorism experts.

The extent of American meddling was further highlighted by the publication on local and foreign websites of leaked letters from the US ambassador to Yemeni Interior Minister Abdul Qadir Qahtan, instructing him to make certain security personnel changes, which he described as necessary to helping bring civil peace to the country. This leaves no room for doubt that Feierstein has assumed a de facto governing role in Yemen, pushing for progress but only in the manner that he deems appropriate, and which does not, of course, conflict with broader US policy in Yemen.

The US ambassador had no qualms about paying a visit last week to Zinjibar in the province of Abyan, accompanied by the administrator of USAID, to inspect conditions in the town after the Yemeni army’s successful expulsion of the forces of Ansar al-Sharia. The group, affiliated with al-Qaeda, had controlled the region for nearly a year, imposing its brand of Islamic sharia and penalties. There were muted protests about the un-diplomatic nature of the visit from some of the country’s political groups, but no outright condemnation.

Nobody is objecting. All the officials concerned have come to treat Feierstein’s interferences, and Yemen’s indubitably subject status, as a fact of life.

Analyst Qaderi Ahmad Haidar says the country has indeed fallen under effective US trusteeship, and blames the Gulf Initiative and the mechanisms that were agreed to implement it. “It is a deplorable and lamentable picture we see today,” he told Al-Akhbar. “We didn’t expect the pure revolution of the Yemeni youth to end in this.”

The US ambassador’s pronouncements are incessant, and oblivious to the basic diplomatic norms that govern relations between two states. He is constantly making media appearances to discuss, explain and clarify aspects of Yemen’s daily affairs, as though he were the country’s undeclared president.

During the course of one recent appearance he said: “We are now in the second phase of the Gulf Initiative... I met with the president yesterday... We believe everyone should take part in the National Dialogue... President Obama has issued an executive order which enables us to punish individuals or groups who obstruct the implementation of the agreement (the Gulf Initiative)... We are working to restructure the army and security forces... We are pleased with what has been achieved so far... We are on the right track.”

The ambassador’s use of the first person when discussing Yemeni affairs strikes Muhammad Ayesh, editor of the independent newspaper al-Awwali, as telling. It serves to cast him not just as Yemen’s “governor,” but as a leader propelled by a transformative revolution into the country’s top position. “The political and military classes surrendered the country’s affairs completely to the world powers, and then preoccupied themselves with their internecine struggles,” Ayesh remarks. He notes that the country’s factions were incapable of reaching agreement on clearing barricades and evacuating armed forces from the major cities without the intercession of the US ambassador.

Journalist and political analyst Mansour Hael agrees that it is the weakness and fragmentation of the country’s political groups that is most to blame for turning the US ambassador into “the chief of country’s political and security operations room,” and effectively giving him the final say on a host of domestic issues.

“Yemenis have come to be governed by a state of division, horizontal and vertical. The national unity government is split, and there’s a split between civil society organizations and the political parties,” says Hael, who edits the newspaper Al-Tajammu. “That’s what allows the American ambassador to hold the all the political strings in Yemen.”

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Divided Libya Votes

Libya Elections: Polling Station Raids Mar First Vote Since Gaddafi's Death

Libyans turn out in their millions for first national ballot since 1964 despite efforts by federalists to disrupt polls.

By Luke Harding in Tripoli
The Guardian
Saturday, 7 July 2012

Federalists in eastern Libya attacked several polling stations on Saturday as the country voted in the historic first election since last year's revolution and the death of Muammar Gaddafi.

Although voting took place peacefully across much of the country, armed gangs in Benghazi stormed a polling station and burned ballot papers. Two other polling stations were attacked, with one man shot in the arm. There were similar incidents in the eastern coastal towns of Guba and Suluq, where fighters stopped ballot papers being delivered.

However, in the capital, Tripoli, and other cities thousands queued from 8am to vote, the overwhelming majority for the first time.

Libya's last election took place in 1964 under King Idris al-Senussi, the monarch Gaddafi ousted five years later.

Many residents were overwhelmed at the opportunity to vote. "I'm so excited. I woke up at six this morning, before my daughters," said Mabroka Amar, 69, at a polling station in Tripoli. She said that she dimly remembered last voting almost half a century ago, adding: "A new country has been born. God willing, I will be alive to vote again and again."

The mood across the capital was festive. Residents waved the red, black and green revolutionary colours and honked their car horns. Several hundred gathered at Martyrs' Square, in the centre of the city, and kissed the ground. Others posted photographs of their fingers – dyed purple by officials after voting – on Facebook. One jokey doctored version showed the late Gaddafi also voting.

Many said that the idea of taking part in an election had previously been little more than fantasy, with Gaddafi a vehement opponent of parliamentary democracy. "I'm 35 years old. I've never voted. The devil was with us from 1969. This is like the first man on the moon," said Ali Ilhouri at Tripoli's Allassma high school, which was serving as a polling station.

He dismissed the federalist protesters in Benghazi and eastern Libya as a relatively small group of "mad fanatics". He said: "I was born in Benghazi. There are lots of other peaceful ways to protest in this election. It isn't civilised."

The federalists are deeply unhappy at the distribution of seats in the new national congress. The outgoing National Transitional Council allocated seats on the basis of population numbers, with 100 going to the west, 60 to the east and 40 to the south. The federalists say that the regions should have a third each.

The revolution has reignited Benghazi's long-standing feelings of marginalisation and injustice, fuelled by the city being the first to rise up against Gaddafi on 17 February last year.

On Friday, armed groups shut several important eastern oil terminals in protest. They also used anti-aircraft guns to fire on a helicopter carrying election materials, forcing it to land and killing a 22-year-old election volunteer.

"The country will be in a state of paralysis from now on because no one in the government is listening to us," Hamed al-Hassi, a defiant former rebel who now heads the high military council of Cyrenaica, the name for the eastern region, told Reuters.

The national election commission in Tripoli admitted that some election material had been "destroyed" in Benghazi. But it said that polling had gone ahead in 94% of voting centres – 1,453 out of 1,554 – with officials trying to deliver new ballot papers where the security situation allowed.

Against expectations, voting was a success across the south, it said, including in the remote south-eastern town of Kufra, the scene of vicious fighting between Arab Zuwayy and black Toubou forces. Two polling stations for Toubou were functioning, although two in Kufra had not functioned, he said, after local Toubou leaders "refused to receive" elections materials.

Libya's election commission chairman, Nuri al-Abbar, said all but seven polling stations had managed to open, despite sporadic federalist violence in the east of the country.

"The election has gone on in a very positive manner, much more than we expected," he said, adding that around 1.2 million out of 2.8 million registered voters had cast their ballot by mid-afternoon.

A spokesman for the interior ministry, Araaf al-Hoja, admitted that it was hard to stop federalist gunmen from "violating" polling stations. "Unfortunately we know many people have weapons," he said. "But overall the security situation is very good."

Western leaders praised the election, with the US senator John McCain on a visit to Tripoli, and British foreign secretary William Hague tweeting enthusiastically that the vote was a "historic moment and achievement after much suffering".

Results will not be known for several days. The Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Development party is expected to do well, with some predicting that Islamists will sweep to power, as they have done in post-Arab spring elections in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt.

On Saturday, however, many voters said that they had instead supported Mahmoud Jibril, a pragmatic moderate and Libya's former interim prime minister until his resignation in October. His National Forces Alliance appears to enjoy broad appeal.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Economic Insecurity in the West Bank

West Bank High Life Masks Deepening Economic Crisis

By Noah Browning
Wednesday, July 4 2012

RAMALLAH, West Bank - Past the Israeli sentry towers blackened by firebombs and the entrance to a refugee camp emblazoned with posters of rifle-clenching militants, downtown Ramallah sparkles.

The scars of an intractable conflict and occupation melt away: cafes bustle with smartly dressed patrons, water-pipe smoke perfumes the air and basslines from trendy clubs shake the night. New model BMWs ply leafy avenues beneath villas and tall apartment blocks sprout from the West Bank hills.

But it's more mirage than miracle.

"Thank God for loans," said Ibrahim el-Far, owner of the newly-opened branch of the upscale Italian cafe chain Segafredo Zanetti in Ramallah, the Palestinians' commercial capital and headquarters of their government in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Growth in the West Bank is concentrated in Ramallah and in real estate and services even as many sectors like agriculture and construction languish.

Government spending and living on credit at all levels of Palestinian society is rampant and, as the euro zone crisis has shown, may prove to be the economy's undoing.

Bank lending for personal consumption in the Palestinian territories has risen five-fold in the last two years to $417 million. Total credit for cars alone accounts for a further $119 million, according to the Palestinian Monetary Authority.

"If you're immersed in troubles, why not try to live well, have night life and good coffee? If we've been slapped once by occupation, the slap from the credit bill won't hurt as much," El-Far said.

Aid for the donor-dependent Palestinian Authority (PA), which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals with Israel, has slowed to a trickle.

Salaries for a swollen public sector again cannot be paid in full this month. The productive base for the economy is shrivelling while unemployment climbs along with poverty.

An economic crisis has deepened - growth is down from a peak of 9 percent in 2010 after the lows of the Intifada to 5.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012 from the same 2011 period.

The Palestinian Authority accounts for almost a third of the $3.5 billion in credit given by banks in the Palestinian territories but, with donor aid flagging and revenues down, it is not clear how much longer that can last.

A Palestinian request for a $1 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund was turned down, officials said this week. And foreign aid is waning partly because of global economic conditions and partly in a backlash to the Palestinians' abortive bid for statehood at the United Nations last fall.

Israeli-Palestinian violence has dropped off dramatically since the end of a 2000-2005 Palestinian uprising. But peace and coveted statehood remain elusive. Negotiations with Israel have been frozen since 2010 amidst bitter misgivings among Palestinians over Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.


The appeal of property becomes clear by looking out the windows of the stately 10th-floor office of Kareem Abdul Hadi, a manager in Palestine Development and Investment Inc., or PADICO, the biggest privately-owned enterprise in the Palestinian territories and a holding company for everything from swish eateries and luxury hotels to real estate and construction.

Cement highrises surge from the ground in the middle of verdant patches of nothing - "bald spots", Abdul Hadi dubs them - rendered largely out of bounds to Palestinian administration and construction as per the 1994 Oslo agreements setting out different zones of control in the West Bank.

The wall built by Israel winds across the landscape - part of a barrier Israel says ensures its security against suicide bombers but the international court of justice says is illegal and Palestinians decry as a land grab. While Israel's controls hamstring commerce, they are a boon to the property market.

"Land in Palestine is one of the only safe investments, both because the Oslo agreements made it more scarce and because it has historically never gone down in value," Abdul Hadi said.

"The same doesn't apply for real estate, and while value hasn't dropped, some housing projects are sitting empty, and people haven't bought them up yet."

Abdul Hadi's firm is investing in a members-only executive club and spa with views of the sweeping Mediterranean littoral below, and importing a luxury restaurant from Jordan, but prospects for undertakings that would create a substantial number of jobs and spur growth have dimmed.

Sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, and construction actually contracted in the first quarter of this year, according to preliminary figures from the World Bank.

"The problem is an unfriendly investment environment, caused by the Israeli occupation's wall and restricted access. It makes investors unsure about putting money into Palestine," said Mohammed Shtayyeh, a minister in charge of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction.

Around two-thirds of the West Bank is policed and administered exclusively by Israel, and the Palestinian-run cantons float precariously in an interstice of Israeli settlements, military bases and roads.

But Shtayyeh admits his government also deserves blame.

"The PA is not the owner of the means of production, but it should have encouraged more interest by the private sector and foreign direct investment in developing the productive base here," he said.


Beyond occupied land and limited water, even the air waves in the West Bank offer no safe outlet for economic growth.

Israeli authorities deny the Palestinian Authority and therefore Palestinian mobile phone providers access to the high-tech 3G frequency, while granting it even to Jewish settlements.

Sam Bahour, a telecoms entrepreneur-turned-business consultant, said any potential for a high-tech industry had been stymied by that move.

"Israel is in total control of the assets that could make for a real economy, and we've been left to manage the crumbs," he said. "It's a donor-driven economy and will remain one until the occupation ends."

International organizations and the public sector concentrate in Ramallah, where 75,000 people live, pulling jobs and wealth from the rest of the West Bank into its orbit and leaving other towns and cities in its shadow.

Poverty and joblessness have increased in the West Bank in 2012, both hovering at around a fifth of the population of 2.6 million.

"The government focuses on growth regardless of how it is achieved so that it will get some compliments abroad," Nasser Abdul Kareem, an economic analyst, told Reuters.

"Unfortunately, too much of it depends on government spending, which is neutral, and doesn't distribute wealth among people and geography," he said.

As division festers between the Gaza Strip, which is run by Hamas Islamists, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's dominant Fatah party in the West Bank, wealth disparities and the preoccupation with making ends meet are breeding alienation among a people already in no short supply of it.

"Indebtedness and financial problems are taking a toll on society, and making people 'Americanized' in a way," noted Bahour, the consultant.

"The focus on the individual and his ownership is increasing, and the sense of community and the collective fades."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Egyptians Celebrate Election Results

From Prisoner to President: Islamist Mohamed Morsi Wins Egyptian Vote

Crowds in Tahrir Square rejoice after Mohamed Morsi is finally declared victor after a week of uncertainty. Alastair Beach reports from Cairo.

The Independent
Monday, 25 June 2012

The Muslim Brotherhood was celebrating a landmark victory in its eight-decade quest for power last night after Mohamed Morsi was confirmed as the first democratically-elected President in Egypt's history.

In what could represent a seismic shift in the political balance of the Middle East, Mr Morsi, an Islamist jailed by Hosni Mubarak, eventually emerged as the victor following a nail-biting week in which the fate of the country hung in the balance.

The result – which saw Mr Morsi vanquish the former fighter pilot and Mubarak's last Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik by a margin of less than 3 per cent – is a momentous one for the Brotherhood, whose members have suffered torture, persecution and imprisonment at the hands of successive leaders since the revolution of 1952.

"We got to this moment because of the blood of the martyrs of the revolution," said Mr Morsi's spokesman, Ahmed Abdel-Attie, yesterday. "Egypt will start a new phase in its history."

But the victory also marks the first step in what looks likely to be a presidency plagued with pitfalls and overshadowed by the military establishment.

Tens of thousands of people packed into Tahrir Square, where almost 15 months ago to the day the first clashes erupted in what would eventually lead to the toppling of Mubarak. The crowds had been waiting for hours in the baking heat, but they were made to wait even longer by Farouk Sultan, the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court. His press conference was relayed to Tahrir Square on a loudspeaker.

When the result was eventually announced, confirming Muslim Brotherhood claims throughout the week, the roar was almost deafening. People wept as fireworks began to pop above the square. Others, clutching Korans, got to their knees and began to pray.

"Egypt has been reborn," shouted Ibrahim Mohamed, an electrician who said he was not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. "We will not return to the old days. The revolution continues."

Another Morsi supporter, Mahmoud Soliman, spoke to The Independent in Mohamed Mahmoud Street – the road leading off Tahrir Square which was the scene of vicious clashes between activists and the security forces late last year. Standing in front of one of the commemorative murals on the walls of the American University, the 50-year-old accountant said Mr Morsi's victory was a triumph for God. "God will make Egypt a great country," said Mr Soliman, sporting one of the long beards sometimes favoured by conservative Muslims. "Mohamed Morsi is the hand of God who will make Egypt great again."

Yet after a year and a half in which Egypt's uprising has looked anything but victorious, there were ominous indications of the potential for further conflict yesterday. Following the election commission's announcement, supporters near Ahmed Shafik's headquarters started screaming: "The people want the execution of the Field Marshal" – a reference to Hussein Tantawi, the man who will continue to rule as Egypt's de facto leader until the handover of power, supposedly at the end of this month.

The result itself came following a week which was racked with tension, as rumours circulated about Egyptians stockpiling food supplies in case of a breakdown in order. Twitter was awash with claims and counter-claims about an election too close to call.

Renewed violence was also widely predicted – an eventuality which appeared to have been forestalled by Mr Morsi's success. Yet tensions are certain to re-emerge. The military ring-fenced certain powers in a constitutional declaration last week. The Brotherhood-dominated parliament was also recently dissolved – a development the group wants to reverse – while the generals have claimed the right to draft the new constitution.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ignoring the Palestinian Uprising

West must Recognize Peaceful Palestinian Resistance Movement

The West has been largely silent on Palestinian nonviolent resistance, which is unifying groups like Fatah and Hamas. Unless the West recognizes these peaceful initiatives, some Palestinians may question whether civil protest is any better than its violent alternative.

By Sarah Marusek
The Christian Science Monitor
June 7, 2012

BEIRUT, LEBANON  – Some ask why the Palestinians seem to have been left behind in the so-called Arab Spring. In fact, they have not.

Palestinians in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and throughout the Middle East region have been engaging in nonviolent resistance over the past year. But the Western media have been largely silent in their coverage of this remarkable movement, which is unifying groups as disparate as Fatah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Unless the West recognizes these peaceful initiatives, some Palestinians may question whether nonviolent civil resistance will be any better than its violent alternative.

The current nonviolent resistance movement in the region – known as the Arab Spring or Arab Awakening – can, in fact, be connected back to the struggle that started in the Palestinian territories in 1987.

As American University of Beirut Professor Rami Zurayk notes, “the Arab uprisings have of course taken their inspiration from the [first] Palestinian intifada.” However he clarifies that the reverse is also true: There is “a constant feeding in from the Arab uprisings to Palestine and from Palestine to the Arab uprisings.”

Here in Lebanon, the diplomatic Israeli-Palestinian peace process embraced by the West has never been very popular. According to the leaked “Palestine papers,” Palestinian negotiators were willing to concede the right of return, recognized by UN Security Council resolution 194, to all Palestinian refugees but a select 10,000. One should not be surprised that this concession was unpopular here; over 400,000 Palestinian refugees are registered in Lebanon alone.

But their reaction to this and other developments has shifted in recent months. While in the past many Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon have supported the path of armed resistance to fight for their rights, today they are peacefully taking to the streets.

The new wave of Palestinian non-violent civil resistance in Lebanon started last year on the anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” to commemorate the expulsion or fleeing of around 700,000 Palestinians from their land in 1948. On May 15,  2011 more than 50,000 Palestinian refugees gathered in a non-violent demonstration near Lebanon’s southern border with Israel. Since then, Lebanon’s Palestinians have been regularly organizing peaceful sit-ins and demonstrations, demanding civil rights in Lebanon (which they lack) and the right to return to their homeland.

But while the Palestinian Authority’s recent bid for statehood at the United Nations generated a lot of Western media interest, that same media are not reporting on the Palestinians’ peaceful protests in Lebanon, and were mostly silent when Hamas leaders in Gaza issued a declaration last December that “violence is no longer the primary option” for the party’s resistance against Israeli occupation.

At around the same time, the Western media also largely ignored Palestinian Khader Adnan’s hunger strike to protest against the Israeli policy of “administrative detention” – holding Palestinian prisoners indefinitely without trial or charge. Reports about the hunger strike only started to appear in February when Mr. Adnan was close to death. Subsequently, at least 1,600 more prisoners joined the hunger strike, with several approaching death.

Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, criticized the lack of response from Western governments, media, and even the UN itself. Since then, Egyptian mediation negotiated a deal where Israel agreed to meet some of the prisoners’ key demands, ending the hunger strike for most, although several prisoners have continued their protest.

Throughout the spring, there was a frenzy of non-violent events in the region showing solidarity with the Palestinian hunger strikers. On March 30 an unprecedented series of peaceful demonstrations were organized in the Palestinian territories and the neighboring countries of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, under the banner of the Global March to Jerusalem. And then on May 15, people came out into the streets once again to remember the Nakba.

All of the major Palestinian parties are coordinating these activities, including Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The US considers the latter three terrorist groups.

As with the hunger strikes, the Western media are largely ignoring the remarkable fact that these three parties are now actively embracing non-violent resistance to achieve their political goals. But even when Hamas recently leaked to the press that the party is conducting secret talks with several European governments, the Western media barely noticed.

The danger is that Western silence – in the media and in government – on this peaceful movement will undermine the effectiveness of the Palestinian protesters. What good is peaceful protest if it is not recognized or engaged?

In a recent op-ed, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan argued that the international community must give Palestinian non-violent resistance a chance. They are right. The only problem is that we first need to know that it exists before we can encourage it.

Sarah Marusek is a member of the International Central Committee of the Global March to Jerusalem and is a social science doctoral candidate at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She is in Lebanon on an International Education Graduate Fellowship for International Study to research Islamic charities.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Proxy War Unfolding in Syria

In Syria, Foreign Intervention Will Only Shed More Blood

The US and its Gulf allies are already fuelling sectarian conflict in their proxy war with Iran. The fallout could be disastrous.

By Seumas Milne
The Guardian
Tuesday, 5 June 2012

As Syria descends deeper into civil war and human misery, pressure for yet another western military intervention in the Arab world is growing. Last week, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, declared that the US might take the "military option" in Syria if it was "asked to do so". Barack Obama's Republican rival Mitt Romney is meanwhile demanding that the US government arm the Syrian opposition.

Today, Russian and Chinese leaders reaffirmed their opposition to forced regime change and support for UN envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan. But Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN, has made clear western powers might act alone and take action "outside the authority" of the UN. Even the new French president François Hollande has said military intervention in his country's former colonial territory was "not to be ruled out".

The latest calls for action against Bashar al-Assad's regime follow the slaughter of 108 people, including 49 children, in Houla less than a fortnight ago. Opposition activists have blamed pro-regime "shabiha" sectarian militias for the massacre; the government al-Qaida terrorists. But there's no doubt that atrocities such as Houla – let alone killings on a larger scale – have the potential to turn intervention grandstanding into the real thing.

That's what happened in Kosovo 13 years ago, when contested killings in Racak led to Nato's bombing campaign outside the authority of the UN. The US administration continues to resist demands for open intervention in Syria. But Hillary Clinton says the case for intervention is getting stronger "every day", while the opposition Free Syria Army has now declared itself "free of any commitment" to the UN peace plan.

The reality is that intervention in Syria by the US and its allies has already begun. The western powers have backed the fractious opposition Syrian National Council since the early days of last year's uprising. So have the Gulf autocracies led by Saudi Arabia, who have stepped up the flow of weapons and cash to favoured Syrian rebel groups in recent months, while Turkey has provided a cross-border base. That is co-ordinated with the US, which supplies the same groups with "non-lethal assistance" and "communications equipment".

In other words, the US and its allies are sponsoring regime change through civil war. And while paying lip service to the Annan plan for demilitarisation and negotiation, they are making sure it won't succeed. The results can be seen on the ground. Overall, lethal violence is estimated by human rights groups to have dropped by 36% since the plan was supposed to come into effect, but government casualties have increased sharply over the same period (953 reported killed since mid-March). Rebel fighters claimed to have killed 80 government troops last weekend alone.

Syria is reported by the western and Gulf-controlled Arab media through the prism of a popular uprising against an authoritarian regime. But that is only one vital dimension of the conflict. And as brutal repression by a government which retains significant support has been met with a growing armed campaign, grassroots opposition has been displaced by foreign-backed groups whose strategy to win power is based on engineering outside intervention.

It has also increasingly morphed into a sectarian conflict, as the Alawite-dominated regime has used minorities' fears of a Sunni-dominated opposition to bolster support. The latest phase of Sunni-Shia conflict in the Middle East owes its virulence to the occupation of Iraq, where the US ruthlessly played the sectarian card to prevent the emergence of a genuinely national resistance. It has also been a knife at the heart of the Arab revolution and the linchpin of the Saudi-led strategy to prevent uprisings engulfing the conservative Gulf regimes.

Anti-Shia incitement has been central to Saudi propaganda against reform in the kingdom itself, the crushing of democratic protest in Bahrain and the drive to focus opposition across the region against Damascus (Alawites being a quasi-Shia sect), rather than Amman or Riyadh. It's also what has attracted al-Qaida and other Sunni volunteers to join the fight against the Assad regime, as tit-for-tat confessional killings multiply. For Syria and neighbouring Lebanon, with their precarious ethnic and religious makeups, that is a disaster.

But it is the third dimension of the crisis – Syria's role as Iran's principal ally – that gives it the potential to set the region on fire and draw the outside world into a devastating conflict. The internal struggle in Syria, whose territory has been occupied by Israel for the last 45 years, has already become part of a western and Saudi proxy war against Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah. As James Rubin, US assistant secretary of state under Bill Clinton, claimed this week, US intervention in Syria would be a "risk worth taking" because Iran "would no longer have a Mediterranean foothold from which to threaten Israel and destabilise the region".

In fact, Iran's alliance with Syria is one more reason why increasing western and Gulf dictators' intervention in Syria would escalate the conflict, not end it. Last year's Nato intervention in Libya increased the death toll by a factor of 10 to 15 and left a country of lawless warlords, torture and ethnic cleansing. Intervention in Syria, whether by fully arming the opposition or using air power to create "humanitarian corridors", would have a far more devastating impact.

That's partly because the Syrian regime has significant air defences and large-scale armed forces and the conflict is being fought out in heavily populated areas. But it's also because of the sectarian schisms and the risk of spreading the conflict further into countries such as Iraq and Lebanon. Why the states that brought blood and destruction to Iraq and Afghanistan should be thought suitable vehicles of humanitarian deliverance to Syria is a mystery. But full-scale foreign intervention would certainly lead to a far greater civilian death toll and many more Houlas.

Right now, lower-level intervention is bleeding Syria in a war of attrition. Short of an internal coup, the only way out of a deepening sectarian and regional conflict is an internationally guaranteed negotiated settlement that allows Syrians the chance to determine their own future. That means the US and its allies giving the Annan plan a chance, as much as Iranian and Russian pressure on Damascus. The consequences of the alternative – full-scale military intervention – would be incalculable.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Still Searching for Justice in Egypt

Hosni Mubarak Sentenced to Life for Complicity in Killing of Protesters

By Leila Fadel and Ernesto Londoño
The Washington Post
Sunday, June 3 2012

CAIRO — Ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his former interior minister were sentenced to life in prison Saturday after being convicted of complicity in the killing of protesters during the 2011 revolt that turned once-untouchable despots into defendants.

Mubarak became the first autocrat targeted in the Arab Spring uprisings to face life imprisonment in the country he once ruled. But the acquittal of six senior police officials charged with ordering the killings, as well as the exoneration of Mubarak and his sons of corruption charges, enraged many Egyptians, who took to the streets to decry the outcome as a travesty of justice.

Activists said the verdicts mean that no one has been held directly accountable for killing the nearly 1,000 people who died during the revolt. Mubarak and former interior minister Habib al-Adli were convicted for failing to stop the killings, not for ordering them. “Both will appeal,” said Yusry Abdel Razak, one of Mubarak’s attorneys.

The long-awaited verdicts jolted Egypt’s presidential race, as Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate who will compete in a runoff this month, sought to take advantage of the new groundswell of revolutionary rage to attack his opponent, Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.

As the sun set in Cairo, thousands of Egyptians poured into Tahrir Square and into the streets of the Mediterranean port of Alexandria and other cities. The volume and vigor of the turnout were startling in a year in which revolutionaries have often appeared deflated and rudderless.

“All of this is a charade, and we don’t accept it,” said Amal Ramsis, 40, as she protested in the square.

Dissatisfaction with the ruling could push revolutionaries who had planned to boycott the runoff election for president into grudging support of Morsi, an uncharismatic conservative Islamist, experts said.

“The Brotherhood might be able to capitalize on this to push the line for revolutionary unity against the regime,” said Michael Wahid Hanna, an Egypt analyst at the Century Foundation. “The anger could push those planning to sit it out to cast a vote for the Brotherhood against the old regime.”

After the verdict was handed down, Mubarak was whisked away on a helicopter to the Tora Prison hospital in suburban Cairo. The former strongman reportedly suffered a heart attack after learning that he would not be returned to the military hospital where he has been held in recent months, according to a medical official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. As the aircraft touched down, Mubarak reportedly wept and refused for several minutes to debark. State media reported he was in stable condition Saturday night in the prison.

The decision marked the first time that Mubarak has entered a prison since his detention in April 2011. During that time, he has been housed at a military hospital.

The three-judge panel that presided over the landmark case cited a statute of limitations in acquitting the former president, his two sons and a business tycoon of corruption charges. Both Alaa Mubarak and Gamal Mubarak will remain in custody on separate charges of stock market fraud.

The judges cited a lack of evidence in acquitting the six senior police officials charged in the killings of demonstrators. During closing statements in February, prosecutors said the Interior Ministry had been uncooperative during the investigation.

‘The loudest message’

Human rights activists said they were most disturbed by the acquittal of Ahmed Ramzy, the head of the riot police at the forefront of street battles with protesters during the revolt that began Jan. 25, 2011. Hossam Bahgat, a prominent rights worker, said the conviction of only the two top officials charged in the case suggested that the country’s military rulers were willing to sacrifice some of their own to preserve the security apparatus.

“This is the loudest message in the verdict,” he said.

Anti-Mubarak protesters initially rejoiced outside the heavily secured courthouse as firecrackers popped in the background. However, as the defendants were taken from the courtroom cage, people in the courtroom broke into angry chants denouncing the acquittals, and a brawl broke out.

“The people want the purification of the judiciary,” some spectators screamed. “Invalid, invalid!”

Mubarak attended the hearing on a stretcher, wearing dark sunglasses. He lay cross-armed, expressionless and motionless inside the black iron cage, as his sons sought to shield their 84-year-old father from cameras inside the courtroom.

Before announcing the verdict, the presiding judge, Ahmed Refaat, described the 2011 revolution as a historic turning point for the nation.

“As the sun rose on January 25 over Egypt, a new era was ushered in,” Refaat said. “A bright day loomed large for the great people of Egypt with new hope they had long yearned for.”

The Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement Saturday demanding justice for the slain revolutionaries.

“Who killed the martyrs if the police leaders are innocent?” the statement said. “If the evidence before the judiciary is insufficient, then the fronts responsible for concealing and discarding the evidence should be tried.”

Later, in a news conference, Morsi pledged that if he is elected president, all the defendants will be retried.

Ayman Nour, a renowned opposition figure who was jailed after he ran against Mubarak for the presidency in 2005, responded to the verdict by endorsing Morsi.

“The verdict today was shocking and did not meet legal prediction,” a statement from Nour’s office said.

In Tahrir Square on Saturday night, Ahmad Marzouk, 32, stood with his daughter to protest what he called a “weak” sentencing. He scoffed at the Brotherhood for supporting this protest after ignoring so many others, accusing the venerable Islamist group of opportunism.

“The Brotherhood come to the square when it is convenient for them,” he said. “Now they are trying to buy the votes of the revolutionaries by standing on their side, but if it was not in their best interest, they would have remained as quiet as always.”

Revolutions’ results

Shafiq, who was appointed prime minister by Mubarak during last year’s revolt, issued a statement praising the verdict as proof that “nobody in Egypt is above being held to account.” Shafiq saluted the “martyrs” of the revolt and said the verdict proved that the “reproduction” of Mubarak’s government is impossible.

Many revolutionaries, however, fear that Shafiq, who like Mubarak is a former air force chief, would restore the repressive policies of the old order if elected.

Shafiq’s spokesman, Ahmed Sarhan, accused the Brotherhood of condemning the verdict to propel its candidate to the presidency.

“We believe that this is being manipulated for the sake of the election,” he said.

Three other Arab leaders were toppled in the revolts that swept the region in 2011. Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia in January and was later tried and convicted in absentia.

Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi was killed by a mob in the city of Sirte in October 2011 after rebels aided by a NATO bombing campaign captured the capital. And Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president of Yemen, was forced to resign in February after enormous pressure from Persian Gulf states and the United States.

Heba Morayef, a Cairo-based researcher for Human Rights Watch, pointed out that no one, including the head of the riot police, has been held directly responsible for the killing during Egypt’s revolt, and she predicted that popular anger would be widespread.

“I don’t think this will satisfy people,” she said. “It’s a reflection of the fact that this was a very badly investigated case. It should have never gone to trial if they didn’t have enough evidence.”

Special correspondent Ingy Hassieb contributed to this report.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

English Translation of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's Speech 25 May 2012

In His Name

The speech delivered by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during the ceremony marking the Resistance and Liberation Day held in Bint Jbeil on May 25th, 2012.

In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Most Merciful. Peace be on the Seal of prophets, our Master and Prophet, Abi Al Qassem Mohammad and on his chaste and pure Household and on his chosen companions and on all messengers and prophets.

Peace be upon you and Allah's Mercy and blessings.

First I would like to felicitate all of you, all the Lebanese in general, and our Arab and Islamic nation on this great national day – the Resistance and Liberation Day – the anniversary of the victory of the resistance, the anniversary of the triumph of the blood on the sword, and the anniversary of the victory of will, determination and sacrifices. Today also, and on these very few hours, we are witnessing a good ending of a painful event as it was confirmed that the Lebanese kidnapped are now in the Turkish territories, and they are getting ready to head towards Martyr Premier Rafiq Al Hariri Airport in Beirut.

I would like to start with this event and experience as a prelude to talking on the occasion – the Resistance Day – the current challenges and the situation in the country in the available time Inshallah.

Indeed, above all the moral obligation necessitates that we express our gratitude first to Allah Al Mighty for his kindness, mercy and will in having this ending. He bestowed on all of us with this ending that came rapid and with no negative consequences. On the contrary, it has positive consequences Inshallah.

Moreover, who does not thank the creature does not thank The Creator. In our name and in the name of the families concerned in the event, I thank all those who participated, helped, showed care and led to this kind ending.

Since the very first moments that followed the abduction news, we contacted the Syrian leadership and the authorities in Syria who in fact from the beginning showed care for the women and the elderly who were set free. They provided them with security and following the orders of President Bashar Assad an airplane was set to convey the women and those with them swiftly on that very night back home. This helped greatly in soothing the souls and calming them down. We witnessed the arrival of the ladies on that very night. I start here with thanking the Syrian authority and President Bashar Assad for his special care. From the very first moments, the state and its presidents and officials assumed their responsibilities. Several Lebanese political leaderships also invested their relations and efforts and took initiatives to make contacts and show cooperation – true national cooperation. Thus we reached what we reached.

Here also we must thank – while observing legal hierarchy – His Eminence President of the Republic Michel Sleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Najeeb Mikati as well as former Premier Saad Al Hariri as we knew that he exerted special efforts in this direction. We also thank all those who made contacts, negotiations and invested their relations in an excellent positive way. In fact, the behavior of the youths a while ago does not agree with our courtesies. We might differ in politics. There is no problem in that, and we might differ in more than in politics. However, every good deed must be praised.

On the regional level also, the contacts which were made must be thanked as well as the Turkish officials and government – whether PM Ardogan or FM Oglo – for their cooperation in this domain as well. We thank everyone who made contacts and highly evaluate their humanistic and moral efforts.

Indeed we must thank the families for their positive response, patience and tolerance though some tried through the media to make things difficult. Such events need calmness, patience, wisdom, and precise handling if we wanted to reach good endings. I would also like to thank the people who controlled their agitations and responded to the calls of showing self-control, wisdom, reason and mediation. Here I would like in this occasion also to point to another event that happened to another group of visitors. It's the attack on the group of visitors in Iraq which led to the martyrdom of the solemn ladies and the injury of several people. We thank the brethrens in Iraq, the political forces and the government for their care for our wounded. Some time ago, I was informed that Iraqi PM Nouri Al Maleki will set a special airplane to convey the wounded and the rest of the visitors to Beirut. I also thank them for their special care.

I will tackle these events before ushering in talking about the occasion. I want to say a word to the people, a word to the kidnappers and a word to the state before ushering into the occasion.

First I address the people. We must contemplate lengthily on this event. Indeed during the first moments, some people got agitated. They hit the street to cut roads off. Only because this event may happen again – May Allah forbids and we hope that will not take place – and to put our actions in order I say that hitting the street is meaningless and cutting roads off is useless. That's not to mention what is worse – meaning the attacks on cars and public and private properties. What for is that good?

Indeed and according to all norms this is forbidden. On the religious level, this is forbidden and on the moral level as well as according to all humanistic, legal… norms, this is disgraceful. Through hitting the street, on whom are you trying to exert pressure? The kidnappers are not in Lebanon. The event has nothing to do with streets, people and cars. I must stress on another point. There's a fashion in the country that started primarily in 2005. Whenever an incident that has to do with Syria or Syrians take place, the Syrian subjects and laborers in Lebanon are being attacked.

This is really weird. These people and laborers live among us and in our neighborhoods, villages and towns. An incident which they have nothing to do with takes place. Thus they are attacked. Religiously, this is forbidden. Morally, this is a very disgraceful crime. What have these people whether they are laborers, subjects, a community or emigrants to do with the incident? No one is allowed to behave without these moral and human norms.

We highly respect this great self-control. This is a manifestation of our trust in people. That's how we know they act, and this has been our great hope in them always.

I also address the private sector and more precisely the officials of religious tours whether to Iraq or Iran. In this period of time, they must have mercy on us and on people. I add my voice to the voice of the Higher Islamic Shiite Council and to all the sides that announced a call to the effect of having no need to have tours by land because the stage is somehow difficult and critical.

The first priority is the security, safety, life and dignity of the visitors. However, the story does not end at these limits. That does not mean that there are people who were abducted only. Such incidents might have dangerous repercussions which might lead to ordeals and pursuant events. This time people showed control. The next time we don't know what might happen. Thus we wish that no one make the visitors, the people and the whole country in face of dangers and confrontations of this kind. Through Beirut Airport, people may travel safely and profitably on Beirut-Baghdad, Beirut-Holy Najaf, Beirut-Tehran and Beirut-Mashhad routes. Any tour official who insists on taking visitors by land from now on will assume the responsibility. I hold him responsible on all levels whether legally, legitimately, morally…Indeed we trust all of the officials of tours. We hope they will respond. Even more, the people must be careful and fully committed as far as this issue is concerned so that no one may lead us later in to problems as the one we were to have headed to had not all acted with responsibility and wisdom.

I have a word to the kidnappers. Indeed this act of yours was condemned. Now they have acted with wisdom and responded to the kidnappers. That is good. We hope that people may act with wisdom. However I would like to point to one thing: kidnapping the innocent and attacking people in such a way is something which does harm to you and to all what you claim or say you are seeking. What might your aim be? There are two suppositions. If the aim was pressing on our political stance as the words the visitors have heard from the kidnappers, this will not make any difference. Our political stance from the events which are taking place in Syria springs from firm convictions, a strategic vision, an evaluation to the situation in the region, and a precise, calm, and rational approach to the threats and events and projects. Thus we are with dialogue, with reforms, with national unity, with putting an end to all forms of armed confrontation, and with a political address for the sake of Syria and its future, position, people integrity and strength. Consequently, if the aim from kidnapping the Lebanese is influencing our political stance or the stance of our allies, that would be fruitless and senseless. That's because when we take a position, we would be ready to offer sacrifices for this position which springs from our firm convictions. Thus for such a position, we offer sacrifices for what is more important and has more priority.

The second supposition has been a serious attempt. It is to the effect that they kidnap Lebanese so that Lebanon pressures the Syrian regime in Syria – i.e. the authorities in Syria – to set free detainees in exchange for the kidnapped Lebanese.

Here I tell you; in the past, that was fruitless and in the future that will be fruitless. It is out of question that the authorities in Syria open this gate; it is also out of question that we get engaged in such a kind of problems. There has been an unfortunate attempt weeks ago. In Al Qasir area, two Lebanese who reside within the Syrian territories were kidnapped by armed groups who made a call saying to get these two Lebanese back, you must call on the Syrian authorities to set so and so free. In fact, this is a dangerous door. If they wanted things to move as such, there will be no response. Also this is unquestionable as far as the Syrian authority is concerned. Contacts failed. The tribes and the families of these two kidnapped Lebanese abducted some members of the armed groups. Then they made a swap operation among each other. Thus that was a failing attempt. We hope that this attempt would not happen again because it is fruitless whether on the political, security or swap levels. We also hope that no one resorts to violence against the Lebanese because after all violence might lead to violence.

Here of, I reach tackling the state. This experience that took place today was a kind experience. Since the first moment, we said that the responsibility is the responsibility of the state and the government must assume its responsibility as well as the political leaderships and the political forces. We all back the efforts of the government and the state. This is good. In fact, there are some people who commented on this stance saying this is a good start. No, this is not a start. This is an ancient route.

Here of, I usher to the south and to Lebanon and the confrontation with Israel, the resistance and the occasion.

Since the establishment of the Zionist entity in 1948 on the Palestinian territories, the Israelis started staging aggressions on the Lebanese territories. They used to attack the Lebanese, the Lebanese villages, peasants and farmers. Since 1948, the Israeli enemy used to sneak through the borders and burst into villages and security control posts. They used to attack the soldiers and kidnap militants and civilians and perpetrate crimes. Those who forget history may go back to the archives. Crimes were perpetrated in villages in some of which 80, 100 and 120 martyrs fell.

That was before the seventies and before the Palestinian resistance factions came to Lebanon. What was the speech of the people of the south and the political and religious leaderships of the south since the time of late Imam Abdul Hussein Sharafeddine and the other scholars? O state, come and defend the south? Come and guard the borders? Come prevent the aggressions against the Lebanese – all the Lebanese. However, the state did not respond to all these calls. Listen to the speeches of absented Imam His Eminence Sayyed Moussa al-Sadr – May Allah return him and both his friend safe – since he came to Lebanon in 1960-1961 and since he first started assuming the responsibility of the public affairs: we want the army to go to the borders to guard the south and not to guard Israel; we want the army to be present and defend the people; we want the state to be present; we want you to train the youths of the south and to arm the youths of the south; we want you to line the people of the south along the army so that both defend the south. However, the state did not respond. That was because the state was somewhere else. Let me say the authority instead of saying the state. The political authority has always been in another world. The political authority in Lebanon did not adopt any strategy to defend the south and the people of the south or Lebanon and the people of Lebanon. It rather adopted the theory of the strength of Lebanon is in its weakness and the theory of neutralism. Well, we may understand that someone be neutral concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict. But how may he be neutral concerning defending his land, people, forces, army, police, control posts and infrastructure? This was what took place. This is what held Imam Mussa al-Sadr – who was one of the strictest callers for the state to be responsible and for the Lebanese Army to be on the front defense lines – to form the Lebanese Resistance groups (Amal Movement) then. He also called on the people to hold arms and to purchase arms and to sell some of their properties to purchase arms to defend themselves. He used to purchase arms himself. Thus when we talk about popular resistance, we must remind and make a positive record for the Lebanese people and especially the people of the south and the front villages in the south and west Bekaa. They were obliged to purchase arms and to hold arms and assume this national obligation under an absolute absence of the Lebanese political authority – that is if we did not say more than absence. Let's be a little bit calm today. We want to help the country. The story is more than absence. However let's say absence. Thus if the state did not guard the country and the land and the people, thus the state did not assume the responsibility of liberating what was occupied later on following 1967 in Shebaa farms and Kafar Shouba Hills or in 1978 and 1982. The people did not give up their obligations and dignities and their legal and legitimate properties.

Thus the Resistance in Lebanon was launched and took its popular form manifesting itself in parties, organizations, and movements. The Palestinian brethrens also had an essential role in this resistance via the resisting and struggling Palestinian factions and the embracing popular milieu. Thus was this resistance which developed. Its efforts and achievements piled and thus was the great victory of May 25th, 2000 which has become a national day – The Resistance, Liberation, and Victory Day.                

Accordingly and as for the whole past stage we must say: We always had stressed and called on the state to assume its responsibility. All of us back it and support it. If it wants us to be before it in confrontation, martyrdom and offering sacrifices, we are ready. However, when it is not responsibility, people would assume their responsibility in a primary and precise way.

Here of, I usher into the occasion and say today we are before a true national day. I call for consecrating this national day for the entire Lebanese people, the state, the army, the institutions, the Lebanese people and to all the political forces especially the parties, organizations, groups and movements which participated and fought. What is the problem in that? Today we hold a ceremony, and tomorrow our brethrens in Amal Movement hold a ceremony in Khiam; other parties and organizations – each in their area and town – hold ceremonies. Thus ceremonies prevail in the country. It is the right of the parties, factions, groups, movements and organizations who participated in the resistance, shot bullets in the resistance, offered martyrs in the resistance, had prisoners who were taken as captives in the resistance, and had wounded in the resistance to celebrate and be a partner.

This day is for all the families of martyrs, all prisoners, all the wounded, all those who were displaced from their homes or whose houses were demolished, all those who remained steadfast in their lands, and all those who helped, shared, supported, and guarded with a spoken word, a written word, a stance, a poem, a prayer, or a show of sympathy which came whether sooner or later. It is a day also for all those who backed this resistance during July war. It is a day for everyone, and we want it truly to be as such and we do not accept that it be turned to a day for a sect or a faction or for definite organizations. No! This is a true national day. It is a true national victory. Since the very first day on May 25th when we celebrated in the field in Bint Jbeil – I was then live at your service – we talked and said this victory is for Lebanon – all of Lebanon. Today on the 12th anniversary, I also say this is the victory of Lebanon – all of Lebanon.

This is a national day for all the Lebanese, and we want it to be consecrated as such.

I will handle the second point which has to do with the occasion so as to talk about the achievement and the cause.

The topic which I do not want to talk about for history but rather for the future too – the topic which I want to present in my speech today – is that the resistance is an important achievement and cause. When I say resistance I mean its decision, will, right, legitimacy, fighters, people, weapons and readiness. This is the resistance.

Well, as we come to the achievement and later to the cause, I want to talk about consequences indeed:

As far as the achievement is concerned, we may say a lot. On the level of the region, everyone knows that in 1982 through the invasion there had been an Israeli-US project set for Lebanon and the region and for liquidating the Palestinian cause. There had also been a group of targets which had to do with the Lebanese and Palestinian issues and the settlement process in Lebanon and Syria. I will not consume all the time talking to this effect. All of you have lived this. The resistance, which launched swiftly and confronted the occupation in 1982, foiled the Israeli-US project on the level of the region and let the region launch into a new stage. Then it was said that Lebanon stepped into the Israeli era; however, few months later it was clear that Lebanon had started stepping out of the Israeli era.

Well anyway, let's talk about tangible points. Today, you are present in a region near the border. Let's talk about 1982, the Israeli project then, the targets from the invasion and the settlement which was intended to be imposed. Many people may still remember; still there is a generation which did not exist then. Let's talk about tangible things. Let's touch the achievement. The land you are standing on now was then an occupied land. A section of the region at the border was occupied in 1978; another section was occupied in 1982 – meaning following the Israeli pull out from Sidon, Tyr, and Nabatiyeh and the formation of the so called borderline. Well, this land was restored to its people through a tangible achievement. This land was not meant to be restored according to the Israeli project. The Israelis did not invade Lebanon to withdraw from Lebanon. The Israelis have greed in Lebanon and Lebanon's land and water. Indeed we do not have time now to read on you and show you. However, this is historically confirmed. Documents assert this greed. When first the region started to be formed and following the establishment of the Zionists entity in 1948, Israel's eye was on Lebanon – at least on southern Lebanon from Al Awali River to the border. If we wanted to descend to lower limits, we'd say from Litany River to the border. Through investing the events that existed in the south in 1982, the sensitivity between the people of the south with their various belongings or between the people of the south and the Palestinian factions, it was bet that the south and the people of the south would be calm, docile and cooperative and consequently, the Israeli army would remain in the south. They took a one-year-chance to start constructing settlements on southern Lebanon territories as they did on all the Arab territories they occupied in previous wars. However, the Lebanese wasted no time and rushed to resist the occupation. Thus was the great qualitative hit on November 11th, 1982 through the martyrdom of Ahmad Qasir in the city of Tyr. Sharon's miserable grub face on the ruins of that place gave a clear impression to the Israelis: No! Lebanon will not be a secure land for the occupation troops and the occupation projects. Well, today tangibly speaking, the land of the Lebanese to the very border had been restored to them.  

There still remain Shebaa Farms, Kafar Shouba Hills and part of Al Ghajar village. You also saw in 2000 how the Lebanese were on the border area via the political authority discussing meters of land, hundreds of meters and thousands of meters. This land was restored to us with dignity and unconditionally and without security guarantees and humiliating agreements or any profits for the enemy. What is most important is that this land returned to its owners. Everything – houses, farms and fields – was restored to the state, the authority and the state sovereignty.

We all know how Sinaa was restored to Egypt via Camp David Agreement. It returned with Israeli conditions. Today there is problem faced by the Egyptian authority in Sinaa: the number of soldiers allowed to be there, the number of policemen as well as the quality and quantity of arms allowed to be in there.

The achievement in Lebanon is that the entire land was restored to the Lebanese sovereignty. Today, the Lebanese government is the one who decides the number of army battalions and brigades it dispatches there as well as the kind of arms. No one has the right to discuss and object. It may be present over any span of land in the south. It does not need permission from Israel or the United Nations or anyone in the world. That means the return of sovereignty over this land. Well, this is an achievement also – a tangible achievement.

Today, we are present on our land and villages. People live securely in peace and serenity. The ordeal which was set by the Israelis and which they prepared to in 2000 was foiled in no time and we must praise Allah All Mighty for that. Perhaps no one tackled this point before. I don’t know if it was even mentioned before. Why did the Israelis withdraw from the south with haste? Why did not the Israelis inform Antoine Lahd and the army of Antoine Lahd? Do you know why? They stepped out with haste! They left Antoine Lahd Army in streets and in villages. They were lost and perplexed. The Israelis thought that the resistance will attack, kill, perpetrate massacres and turn the situation into a civil war or a sectarian ordeal. O our people in the south! O families of all those who were with Antoine Lahd Army! O Lebanese who were involved with the Israelis and went or fled to Occupied Palestine! You may scrutinize this phrase: The Israelis whom you served for decades wanted you to be killed and slaughtered. They wanted your women to be widowed and your children to be orphaned. They wanted you to be the victims of a sectarian ordeal so that the Lebanese celebration be turned into a funeral. They wanted you to be the victims and they conspired against you to this mean level.

However the resistance with all its factions then as well as the people of the south especially the residents of the frontal villages who had suffered to a great extent from Lahd Army and its crimes, shells, Khiam Detention Center, torture, and collaborators acted in a high sublime humanistic and moral level. This must be recalled not for the sake of begrudging one another. Never! These people observed their moral obligation, religion and national belonging. However we must remind all of the Lebanese – and especially those who collaborated with Israel for decades – that the Israelis do not care for your security, integrity, dignity, life and blood. They exploited you and fought with you and then as mattresses they left you in the open air. They left you to be killed and to be the fuel of the ordeal.

Well, since that day up till today, the people of the south and the border area – which is a little Lebanon because demographically it has Muslin, Shiite, Sunnite, Druze and Christian residents of all sects – live with each other in peace. No one revenged from another. No one demolished the house of another. No one burnt the field of another. No one displaced another. No demographic change took place under the presence of the resistance and the army of the resistance. Even those who fled to Occupied Palestine were not asked to flee. Since the very first day, the conduct and behavior and the stance were clear: {Nor can the bearer of burdens bear another's burdens}. The wives, mothers, women, daughters, kinship and fathers who were not involved with the Israelis were not approached. Even the wives of senior collaborators as well as the collaborators themselves were not harmed. Facts from the very first moment said that we did not want to kill anyone. The Lebanese jurisprudence and the Lebanese government try them. They fled though from that first moment we told the people you may return. That does not need an agreement. The women, children, the young and the elderly who were not involved in collaboration may come back. There are the state and the judicial authorities. You noticed the judicial tolerance as far as this issue is concerned. So no one wanted to make any change in the south. Rather the resistance with all its factions wanted the welfare of the south and the people of the south. It wanted the wound to be healed and the people of the border area to live with each other with security, peace, love, stability, cooperation and everything that promote united coexistence. We are always ready for this civil peace, rapprochement, and cooperation Inshallah.

Well, this also is a tangible achievement in every hour and in every moment. Some people may not feel this achievement; however, those who were under occupation and experienced humiliation on cross points feel it. Today you pass on cross points whether for the Lebanese Army or the security forces. These are your sons and people who respect you and represent you.

We now move to the other achievement and usher to the important cause. It is protecting the south, protecting Lebanon, protecting the people, and protecting the country against Israeli greed, threats and aggressions. In liberation, the balance was the resistance. In guarding the liberation, the equation is the army-people-resistance. Well, did this equation make an achievement or not? We may say poetry, prose, theories, or talk Plato. I will talk in the tongue of the people of villages. We will head to villages and ask the people of the villages: does this equation make an achievement or not? Does it protect the borders or not?

Yes, it protects the people at the borders. Yes, people may go day and night and move near the barbed wire and the founded wall – which I will talk about later. Day and night people move to and fro. They go to their fields. They go to their schools. Where are houses being built today? They are being built not only on front villages but also on the borders. By the barbed borders houses are being built. What does that indicate?

This stands for a feeling of security, protection and a great confidence in this protection. So it is not that we are protected and that is the end of the story. No! We have great confidence that we are protected.

Thus since May 25th, 2000 until July 12th, 2006, and since that date until August 14th, 2006 (this is the duration of the war time interval) and since August 14th, 2006 until this very day, the Israelis did not dare to stage an aggression on Lebanon and on the Lebanese. What is the problem? What happens? The Zionists make a violation here. The army confronts them. It is revealed the Blue Line or the Green Line. I don't know what the goal of this story is.

This is trivial compared to what used to take place since 1948 to 2000 when they used to shell villages, shoot peasants, displace villagers, attack control posts and kidnap people and stage commandos operations. This is over. All of this is over. What is the evidence? These 12 years are the evidence. The Israelis who are aggressive in nature – i.e. the owner of the aggressive nature – the Israelis who are greedy of our land and water do not dare to attack our villages, people, and the sovereignty of our country. Who is protecting? This equation is providing protection. It is not the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League or anyone else. It's the equation which is providing protection. It is the army-people-resistance equation and the resistance is part of this equation.

This is the achievement. That's not to mention that the Israelis were the ones who always used to transcend our land, attack us and open fire on us. Now they are afraid of fire being opened on them, stones being thrown on them and their area being transcended. Thus they started constructing this wall. We did not take a position from this wall which is being built in Kafar Kila. However I will tackle this point from one perspective. This wall is an indication to what we have been saying from 2000 until today. Israel's – or the Israeli – withdrawal from Lebanon in May 25th, 2000 hammered the last pin in the coffin of Greater Israel. That's over. The so called Greater Israel from the Nile to Euphrates and even Middle Israel outside historic Occupied Palestine are over. It was severed on our own land and border with the blood of your martyrs, your steadfastness, your resistance, your heroism and your sacrifices.

The project of Greater Israel had always aspired for comprising vast areas having rivers as its borders: the Nile River, the Euphrates River and the Litany – if we did not say the Awali – River. These rivers were to be under its control. Its strategy was based that no one who lives without the area of these rivers would dare to through a stone on this powerful capable Israel besides firing a bullet. Today on the Lebanese borders there are people who do not only through stones on the Zionists, do not only open fire on the Zionists but also threaten them with shelling rockets on all posts in Occupied Palestine.

These walls started being built in the West Bank. Indeed there is a great link between the achievement of the resistance in Lebanon and the achievement of the resistance in Palestine. Can you see that? A short time following the Israeli withdrawal in 1985, the first Intifada in Palestine took place. Few months following the liberation on May 25th, 2000, Al Aqsa Intifada took place. It had very great repercussions as it put Israel before a battle of existence. Was it not for the international community, the Arab states and the desertion which afflicted the Palestinians, this Intifada would have made very great historic and strategic achievements. However, one of its achievements is that it imposed on the Zionists building walls in the West Bank. Israel started pulling out. It pulled out from Gaza and southern Lebanon. In the west Bank it started building a wall. Now talks are taking place over building a wall on the Egyptian border and another on the Jordanian borders. That is great. So Greater Israel came to an end. The borders of rivers are over. They resorted to the borders of walls. Walls will not protect them. There existence which is established on usurping, massacres, aggression, terrorism and greed will not be protected. This is an achievement. This is also a great achievement.    

In 2000, much was said by senior Zionist leaders. By the way, I would like to remind of a word said by Isaac Shamir – the Right Likud extremist former enemy PM. He said: "I never thought to live to the day (and you know that he died in an old age) in which the state of Israel and its army which was labeled by our friends and foes alike (the Arabs also consecrate this label) as the undefeatable Army to flee (That means the time in which the state of Israel and its army are forced to flee) before an Arab side. (See this contempt to the Arabs! As if he was saying how would an Arab side drive us away? What happened? How do things move in that direction?) Few hundreds Hezbollah fighters force the most powerful state in the Middle East to appear in this defeated scene. We have proven to the Arabs always that they would rather not try to oblige us to offer concessions by force as after all they are the side which must offer sacrifices. However Hezbollah (but I say all the Lebanese fighters) proved that there are Arabs with other characteristics. I'm not someone who praises others by nature. Still I am among those who show respect and admiration to so and so (Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah) who ran the battle against us in a manner that mounts to the level of challenge which was imposed by the struggle with our state."

The enemy is acknowledging this achievement. Thus today this achievement is the most important on the level of the region and on the internal level and on the level of the south and the border. When we say that Lebanon is protected we mean that Lebanon as a whole is protected. In 1982, Baalbeck-Hermel was being bombarded. Later Beirut was being bombarded as well as Dahiyeh, Mount Liban, Mid Bekaa and Western Bekaa. Is there any place in Lebanon which was spared Israeli aggression? Well this is an achievement.

I will sum the cause in two words.

The cause is that the resistance and the arms of the resistance are part of the equation which protects Lebanon and confronts the Israeli threats and aggressions. This is the achievement and this is the cause.

I would like to remind before tackling the repercussions that this resistance has made all of these achievements under international conspiracies – I would not like to make a problem with Arabs – and under Arab absence – I would not like to say the conspiracies of some Arab countries – and under Arab and Islamic absence with the exception of Syria and the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is well known and does not need evidence. In Lebanon also, the achievement was made under the absence of the official Lebanese state with the exception of the last few years before 2000. I would not like to say more than that. Moreover, there never has been one day national consensus on the resistance. Never! You may go back to the archives. Few nights before May 25th some in Lebanon – whether politicians and media outlets – were still talking about the cycle of violence in the south. So they did not acknowledge the resistance and legitimate fighting. There are killed and no martyrs. There are armed men and armed groups.

With my respect to all who claim that, there has never been in Lebanon a national consensus on the resistance. There has always been division. There has never been national consensus on the arms of the resistance. There has always been a division.

I wonder when some Lebanese or politicians or media men say when a definite incident happens that now the national consensus on the resistance and its arms fell. When has there been a consensus so that it falls? There has always been a division over this issue.          

There are two viewpoints. Under this division, Arab absence, and international connivance, the resistance could make these achievements and victories. This must be kept in mind when we talk about the achievement.

Here I reach the conclusion. Today there is a search in the country before the state of arms chaos we witnessed in the past few weeks. Well, men let's calm down a little bit. There is a new file under the title of arms, arms chaos and the spread of arms. Let's evoke this issue along with the arms of the resistance and call it together illegitimate arms or the arms without the Lebanese state and let's approach this file as one file. This is a big fallacy. This is not a show of smartness. It is a very big fallacy for several reasons.

The first reason: I am talking about the arms of the resistance and I am saying these are its achievements and cause. Tell me about all the other arms, whether with the forces of March 8 Bloc or the forces of March 14 Bloc. Indeed no one may deny the possession of arms. We are through with the stories of individual arms and the like. All the people in Lebanon have arms whether light, middle or heavy. The light arms are qualitative such as expensive and valuable shotguns.

Now tell me what is the achievement and what is the cause of all the arms which are not in the equation of deterrence in face of the Israelis? There is an essential difference between the two arms. This is on one hand.

On the other hand, though we are convinced that there is an essential difference between the two kinds of arms, we say let's discuss everything. Let's discuss the two kinds of arms. Let's discuss the whole issue. When we tackled the national defensive strategy, we were not talking about the army – a definite face of the resistance. No! In fact, we were talking about the Lebanese people, the resistance and everyone who wants to be part of this defense strategy – i.e. everyone who wants to hold arms to fight the enemy and confront the enemy. We may gather all the capabilities and capacities in a national defensive strategy to protect our country. You saw today's event. When the Lebanese agree on a national cause, they exert all efforts despite their political disagreements and make an achievement.

Logic says: it's not because there is arms chaos in Lebanon let's annul the resistance and its arms. No! The true equation is: Because there is arms chaos in Lebanon, let's set all of these arms in the army-people-resistance equation to protect our country and to protect the wealth of this country.

Hereof, I will talk about the internal situation briefly. When we tackle this equation, I must differentiate – as I have to be very clear – between the equation that protects the country in face of the Israeli enemy and the equation of guarding civil peace, security, and national stability locally. These are two different topics and they are not one topic. True they interact, but we may view them as two major topics.

As far as confronting Israel is concerned, I frankly say our conviction and vision is based on the experience that worked in Lebanon and in Gaza and worked months ago in Iraq and before that in Afghanistan. Based on this experience, on the logic of history, on facts, on the enemy's status quo, greed and capabilities, and on Lebanon's (this weak country) situation and capabilities, we say we must protect the country through the army-people-resistance equation because Israel is before us.

As far as the internal level is concerned, the case differs. The side responsible for home security, home stability, and protecting the Lebanese at home, and protecting civil peace at home is the state and the state only via the Lebanese Army and the official security institutions. No one else is responsible at this level. Thus during all the past eras, some used to say that in Dahiyeh there is security disorder, in Baalbeck Al Hermel they kidnapped so and so and in such and such regions there are acts of burglary. Thus articles which hold us responsible of security would be written. Since the very first day we said we do not assume the responsibility of security. Let the state assume its responsibilities. In Bint Jbeil, on May 25th, I stood and said: We are not an alternative to the authority and we have no authority project. We are not responsible for security. The state, the army, the security forces and the Lebanese judicial authorities are the ones responsible. Let them assume their responsibility then.

The Lebanese people have passed through many experiences. We are not talking about theories. There had been wars in Lebanon. We do not read books. Our cemeteries embrace the bodies of many victims and our memory is burdened with woes. We do not want the past to be repeated. Our arms are not there to protect one sect. We call on the Lebanese state to protect all the sects, sides and political forces. Our arms are to protect the country in face of Israel, while the state is responsible of protecting the people at home. It is the one responsible for the people's security.

The political forces are partners in the sense that they do not provoke or cause troubles. The media is a partner in the sense that it does not magnify incidents in a way that makes people not able to tolerate each other. The same applies to platforms, speakers and sectarian and factional provocations as well. Thus security is not a plain operation; it is rather the outcome of political, cultural, educational, media, economic and living efforts. Consequently, everyone has to play his role and assume his responsibility so that the situation remains intact in the country, so that security remains stable in the country and so that civil peace persists. Hereof, we are clear and committed as far as this issue is concerned.

Some say this is a claim. We say that the essential institution that protects civil peace and performs this mission is the Lebanese Army along with the other security apparatuses. However the pillar is the Lebanese Army Institution. Let's be frank with each other. In the south, in the North, in Bekaa, in Beirut, in Mount Lebanon, we are all Lebanese. O People! In going back to civil war, local prominence, and sectarian cantons, we will be losers and people will kill each other. We are seeing unfortunately the moral and educational level. Today, the last guarantee which might guard civil peace in Lebanon is the Lebanese Army. Indeed there are other things which are required on the political and governmental level and on the level of the political forces. Thus we must guard this institution and protect it and support it and its morals, strength and presence in the field as well as its capability to perform its roles even if painful incidents took place.

I'm not theorizing. On September 13th, 1993, it was not an incident that took place by mistake on the Lebanese Army cross point at the Airport Rotary. People were demonstrating. The army and the security forces were facing them, and they opened fire on them. More than fifty martyrs and wounded fell. Women were among them. Did we open fire on the Lebanese Army? Did we hold arms in face of the Lebanese Army? Did we call for forcing the Lebanese Army out of Dahiyeh and its surrounding? Never! We said that if there is a political decision, the government must assume the responsibility, and the soldiers who executed the decision must be interrogated and tried.

Now, whenever anything takes place they say it's Dahiyeh. Where are those who killed our brothers and sisters at the Airport Rotary? Where were they executed and hanged? Were they put to life prison? The issue was very clear. In fact, it did not even need any investigation as there were no ambiguities. Later, syndicate demonstrators were killed in Hay Assiloum. Five martyrs were killed by the bullets of the Lebanese Army. Did anyone in Dahiyeh hold fire in face of the Army and open fire on the army or killed anyone from the army or called for forcing the army out? Never!

Some time ago, they gave Mar Mikhail events as an example. Some youths were demonstrating there and firing tires. Was that right or wrong is another point. However that does not make killing them permitted. Fire was opened on them and they were killed. What happened? We condemned the act and that was natural. We showed our objection, delivered speeches and called for trials and the like. However, what happened at last?

After all, in this framework I said, the incident that took place in Akkar and led to the martyrdom of Sheikh Ahmad Abdulwahed and Mohammad Mireb (May Allah have mercy on them) is an unfortunate, sorrowful and condemned. However, it is an incident. So let's put it in its natural context and say investigation, judicial action and trials are necessary. That's what is right. Still, the army must be guarded and preserved for the sake of all sheikhs and martyrs, all the regions, all the Lebanese and all the country and its integrity and future. This is an essential point which I liked to highlight. Here too I would like to say that the state must assume its responsibility. Let no one intend to make troubles with anyone and let no one intend to fight anyone. Still we must be careful not to be dragged to any form of fighting. Some work in the field so that fighting take place anywhere.

The security apparatus arrested one of the wanted. Well, why does fighting take place in Tripoli? Why do clashes take place between Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen and others? The incident that took place in Karakas yesterday might have led to worse endings. Prior to it the incidents in Tariq Jadida took place. No one may say these are individual incidents. No there are parties which assume responsibility. For eight hours clashes took place in Tariq Jadida. Where was the state? Where was the army? I defend the army but I also criticize it. Where were the security forces? This incident must not take place again because it may lead the country to true and serious dangers. Offices and political forces for whatever sides they belonged must be protected by the state. The state must intervene. The army and the security forces must be provided with all the materialistic and moral capacities and capabilities and all the margins to finally and fiercely put an end to all forms of clashes of this kind on the Lebanese internal level. There is a point which I like to stress too. I also wish to speak on the ground. O brothers several days ago we celebrated the reconstruction of Dahiyeh. I then delivered a speech and I like to stress on what I said in it.

There are political forces which are making provocations to cause tension and to secure their masses having in mind the elections. However we must be careful. Sectarian and factional provocations are extremely dangerous. It's a negative point which is called "the ground will not be controlled by any side". We would all be subject to the very risks. If anyone believes that he may control the ground and halt the collapse in the country or prevent falling on the verge of a civil war or to a civil war he is mistaken and misled. A couple of days ago, when I talked in my name and in the name of Speaker Nabih Berri, people responded and we thank them for that. Well, you may be able to control people once or twice. However, it I work to cause sectarian and factional provocations, these people will not respond to me or to anyone anymore. The leaderships will turn to members and members will become leaderships. You may tell some people you are educated and you understand because you have great minds; so how do you talk such a language? They would answer saying if we did not talk as such the street will forsake us. What led the street that far? It's political forces.

Thus before holding the government, the army and the security forces responsible for the status quo, the primary responsibility today is on the political leaderships and media outlets. We do not want a scoop to cause provocation. Let the piece of news remain a piece of news. Everyone must be responsible. Provocation must come to an end. These fallacies must come to an end or else if following every event sectarian and factional accusations would be made, where would the country head to then?

As for the arrested Islamists for example, our stance since the first day is the need for a quick trial and thus the release of those found not guilty. This was the position of Hezbollah. This was the position of Amal Movement, Speaker Nabih Berri, and the Higher Shiite Islamic Council. However some people said the Shiites are the ones preventing trying the arrested Islamists. What is this tone and speech?

Since the first day they were arrested years ago, the Premier was from Future Movement, and the Justice Minister was from March 14 Bloc and a Lebanese Forces Member. So what have we to do with that? On the contrary, some arrested Islamists were accused of attempting to kill me, I then said I would not ask for my right; I rather call for their release! Here I am saying it frankly. It is great oppression, falsification and misleading to oppressively and aggressively hold the Shiite Sect responsible for having the arrested Islamists still in custody. Whom does this serve? Today, I reiterate the very stance I said 4 or 5 years ago. We call for undertaking very quick trials. Whoever is found guilty must be convicted; or else let him be freed. This is not special to the Islamists only. It applies to all people in custody in Lebanese prisons. It is unfair that the arrested remain untried not for years but also for months and even weeks. Why must they?    

This is our stance, and it is well known and announced. Still they mislead to the extent that they hold us responsible. Here I am telling all the families of the arrested Islamists and all those truly showing solidarity with them – and it is right to show solidarity with them because they are really oppressed as they have been in custody for 4 or 5 years without trial. Search for the reason behind that. I have an interpretation; still I do not want to say it not to cause provocation. So search for the reason. Why have they been in custody for years without trial? Look for the true reason. Then announce your condemnations. Now the security body is undertaking its responsibilities. Excuse me for being frank here. Now if the Information Branch arrested someone in the south or in Dahiyeh or in Bekaa or in anywhere else, is it allowed that whenever a Shiite is arrested, that we say the Sunnite Information Branch officer or the Sunnite General Manager of the Internal Security Forces are arresting Shiites? Where would the country head to? If we are to reach a point in which we divide the country to the extent that the Army Information arrest only Christians and the Public Security arrests only Shiites and the Internal Security Forces arrest only Sunnites and I believe the Druze would be the share of the judicial police, would that be a state or the means to build a state?!

There are security bodies which are assuming their responsibilities and they must be supported officially and politically in undertaking their responsibilities, and no one must take permission or is asked to take permission in performing his duty.

In Hezbollah we are against security cooperation with the CIA and against security cooperation with the French, the British and the Germans on the convictional and political levels. There is rather a security body which does not belong to me but rather to the state, and the state is to provide it with security or clear it from responsibility. There are fallacies. Take for example the incident that took place at the army cross point. Since the first day of the incident in Akkar, they started searching for the identity of the officer who opened fire. Is he a Christian, a Shiite, a Sunnite or a Durzi? What is this logic? Pursuant to this logic, we won't have an army anymore. If the army is not trusted, things would be over. Let's erect mattresses and head to civil war then if the head of the army is not to be trusted, the army leadership is not to be trusted, and the army officer is not to be trusted. All of us have complaints at times. Fire is opened at us. Fire was opened on all of us. Still we are not heard to. That's natural because if the army leadership is to listen to everyone, it will not be able to assume its missions and obligations.

To wrap up I say: O brothers! Let's see how we may calm down the situation. Days ago, his Eminence the President of the Republic called for dialogue in the second week of June. In the name of Hezbollah, I officially announce that we agree on going back to the dialogue table. We will partake in the dialogue table without preconditions. I tell March 14 Bloc if you really care for the country and you are really worried and afraid on the future of the country as you don't know where to it is heading, let's go to the dialogue table without preconditions. As for those who say the government must resign and so and so before we go to the dialogue table, they do not want dialogue. They rather want the authority for whatever price.

I also call on the other sides of the dialogue table to respond to the call of the President and to participate. Let the people sit together and make discussions. Let's try to contain congestion in a way that makes political competitions and conflicts controlled by sound national ceilings.

There's one more point I want to tackle. Amid our preoccupation in our internal status quo, what happens around us remains important as well whether in Syria, Egypt (and the elections through which we hope the Egyptian people would elect a president for this stage and this challenge), Bahrain, Iraq, the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the 5+1 countries and all what is taking place in the region, our eyes must always remain oriented southwards and more precisely on the national unity government which was formed in the Israeli entity. Our researches and approaches say that it has internal reasons which have to do with the composition of the cabinet and the blackmailing and threats to topple the government, the blocs and political divisions. So most probably it has more to do with the internal status quo than with a war in the region.

However this analysis does not mean at all that a strong cabinet that is supported by the Knesset to this extent may not be employed in any aggressive project against Lebanon, Gaza, Syria or Iran. This must be kept in mind. The response must always be incessant awareness, readiness and not being drowned in internal affairs. The eyes, ears and minds must always be opened, and the hands must always be ready for any possibility of this kind.

Here I am telling you. You have liberated this country of yours with your chaste blood, your children and your senior leaders – martyrs Sayyed Abbass, Sheikh Ragheb and Hajj Radwan as well as Amal Movement and the other parties, forces and factions of the Lebanese and the Palestinian leader martyrs. We have restored our sovereignty, freedom, dignity, land and prisoners with pride, sacrifices and jihad. Likewise, we will Inshallah guard this country and the south. We will guard its coexistence, peace and the spiritual familial relations. We will guard the south which is the foremost front for guarding Lebanon and which was in 2006 the foremost front for guarding the entire region against a Neo Middle East project. Inshallah, with you and your presence, patience, faith, bravery, and wisdom we will always have but days of achievements and victories. Peace be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings.