Sunday, July 31, 2005

The "Cure" for death? A terrifying prospect!

This post is not directly related to politics in Lebanon. It is, however, related to us all, since it grapples with the issue of death. According to an article I just read, a researcher in Britain says that he has discovered a theory that would not only halt aging, but also reverse it. Ridiculous? Well, yes! But, MIT's Technology Review thinks the scientist is credible enough to feature him on one of their recent issues.

Click here to read the Technology Review Article
Click here if you'd like to read the International Spiegel article - which is a much shorter read

Just in case this scientist's ideas are not completely ludicrous, I'd like to state my position regarding his claims:

I'm terrified! I read this quote somewhere (I totally agree with it):

"Death is life's best creation... It allows for the passing of the old and the coming of the new."

Maybe it's because I am only 25, but I have come to accept the idea that when I'm between 70 and 80 years old, I will pass away and leave the world to my Children (if I am blessed with a few). The only reason I'd like to live longer is to witness change or the completion of certain enterprises that I could not witness in the usual human life-span. For example, I would have loved to witness the colonization of the Mars, and the rise of a Middle East that is secular, liberal, properous and modern (if that ever happens).

But, will there be any change if I, and my generation, lived indefinitely? I know, for example, that the notion of Jumblatt, Berri, Aoun, Karami, Geagea, etc... living forever terrifies me. In a region where change of leadership comes only with death, the notion of indefinite human life, implies certain doom!

Finally, assuming that "a cure" for death by aging is found, will humanity "adapt" by utilizing other means to "change guards"? Will humans revert to murder as an acceptable means of bringing a new generation to the fore?

The Parliament: Skeletons and Debates

The focus now will of course be centered around the heated debates that took place in Parliament the past three days and all the "taboo" subjects that were brought up. And that focus will again of course be used and abused negatively and most probably will be cast in a sectarian light.

But as I heard the Prime Minister address the Parliament before he gained his Cabinet's confidence, I am only comforted at a person who is processing what the Lebanese usually take as negative and look at it in a different light, more positive one. He expressed his belief in transparency, in saying it all, in putting everything out on the table even if it is discomforting and this is all in order to move forward.

I agree with Seniora. For the first time the Parliament is fulfilling its role, namely being the ultimate forum for debate. And yes, the Lebanese Parliamentarians are opening Lebanon's closet and exposing the hundreds of skeletons that have been hidden there for so long. It is not a pretty sight, but this should all have happened a long time ago...

Our fellow blogger from Lebanese Political Journal, Lebanon.Profile, once brought up the point of whether the Lebanese political process can incorporate one-issue advocacy. I believe it is looking clearer to me that there are many issues that will split the Lebanese and provided that we pass through this critical period peacefully, we will move towards a situation where positions on issues will become more articulated by politicians and hopefully will lead towards electoral programs that are based on issue politics.

In his speech after gaining the vote of confidence, Seniora promised to hold monthly sessions open to the media that will relay to the public the progress of the government in moving forward with their Policy Statement. He also noted the weaknesses of the Statement expressed by many MPs and acknowledged their concerns and promised that their constructive advice will be taken into account to further bolster the government's agenda.

I am waiting for the upcoming monthly public session and also awaiting the outcome of Seniora's visit to Syria today...

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Resistance Debate Out In The Open!

Aoun today in Parliament brought the Resistance debate out in the open. At last, we are hearing open talk about this hush-hush topic.

He pointed that the Government Policy Statement refers to the Resistance in an Arab-wide context (refer to my previous post on the statement) and thus he asked the following: We all respect the Resistance but we would like to ask what are the Arab countries that we have to coordinate with in order to continue on with our Resistance? Syria? Syria has not fired one shot from its border towards Israel since more than 20 years ago. Jordan? Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. Egypt? Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel. The other Arab and Gulf countries? We're seeing more and more of them moving towards naturalizing their relations with Israel....

While these words were being said, the cameras honed in on HA's Minister Fneich and Berri.

The debate is out in the open and the current government in fact is encouraging transparency. The Parliament today was a place where taboo subjects can be opened and dealt with. And it is in fact the right of MPs to relay their constituents' thoughts and questions in that public forum no matter what they are. That is the way to go....

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

The Government Policy Statement: A Historical Document Fleshed Out

The Government Policy Statement to all out there is indeed a historical document. I want to share with you the policies that the newly-formed government promises it will accomplish so we could be able in a new era to hold our government accountable if it does not stay true to its promises.

The Ministers in the statement claim that this document is addressed to the Lebanese please do read this modest translation. At times, i translated every word, but at others, I tended to summarize. The document is long and extensive and cuts across all policies and standing issues. Look over it and you will find out how many issues and initiatives this government has promised to resume...Lebanon has been stuck in history for a while and it is time we move on to modernity and we progress.

I am indeed very optimistic. I have been speechless lately, because I am enjoying the show. I believe that each one of us is interested in a certain policy area, so scroll down and read what interests you. Let us not be too harsh on the first Independence government if it does not tackle all the issues we have in mind; as you read you will realize that the largest project ever is rebuilding our Lebanon across all levels. It is our duty as well, not only the politicians.

Best of all, I am excited to learn (check it at the end of the post) that the government has asked the Parliament to hold Accountability Hearings on a regular-basis (similar to what they have here in the U.S.). This is all good news. The Statement includes a closing word which I did not include (exhaustion!), but it basically talks about that the time has come for all of us to commit to moving our country forward by putting our parochial interests at bay and that this is truely what the Lebanese people aspire for. Enjoy the read!

Electoral Policy: Instate a modern and just electoral process, which includes a policy that encourages the formation of modern political parties and lowering the voting age to 18.

Establish a special National Commission to draw up the framework of the new electoral process. The Commission will include within it all the political parties and blocs that will contribute in the passing of the new law. The government promises that the Commission’s work will take no more than 5 months and passing it in Parliament should take place within a month thereafter.

Abolition of Political Sectarianism: After passing the electoral law, a commitment to establishing a National Commission to look into the steps towards abolishing political sectarianism.

Lebanese-Syrian Relations: Rebuild (emphasis on re) excellent Lebanese-Syrian relations; excellent in its depth, strength, transparency, and equality; excellent in putting its common interests above all considerations; excellent in meticulously implementing the memoranda of understandings among both countries.

A commitment to coordinate with the Syrians in negotiating any peace settlement with Israel.

The government promises to follow-up diligently on the case of the Lebanese prisoners and missing in Syrian prisons.

The Resistance and Foreign Policy: Protection of the Resistance and recognition that it is a genuine Lebanese manifestation of our right to liberate our lands from any occupation and the commitment to a peaceful dialog that revolves around the available options we have within a framework that takes into account the Arab stand towards Israel and that ensures Lebanon’s sovereignty and national immunity.

A commitment to the Beirut Arab League Initiative (namely recognizing the State of Israel if Israel agrees to return to the 1967 borders) and the respect for all UN resolutions and international law and legitimacy.

A belief in the right of return of the Palestinian refugees and the commitment to continue follow-up on all Lebanese prisoners and missing in Israeli jails.

Commitment to cooperation with the Lebanese in the Diaspora across all sectors.

Administrative Reform: Increase the competency levels in public agencies and develop the administration’s human capital with a commitment to rely on a policy based on valuing and rewarding merit and competency, and not one based on loyalty and association.

Public Services: improve the quality of public services and respect for the public’s rights and dignity through adopting modern, simple, swift, and transparent procedures and moving forward with the e-government initiative.

Administrative Decentralization: implement decentralization with special emphasis on strengthening municipalities and their decision-making power and equitable, comprehensive development.

Security Policy: Reform the security apparatus and assume the authority to assign and reassign security-related positions across all executive levels. Support the army and strengthen the Internal Security Forces to ensure the maximum security for the Lebanese as they go about their lives.

Introduce a bill to Parliament committed to reforming security laws on telephone wiretapping and other security and punitive laws.

Judicial Reform and Affairs: Ensure independence of the judiciary and judges and commitment to judicial reform and restoring of citizens’ confidence in this institution that constitutionally is mandated to protect the rights and freedoms of citizens. A fair and independent judicial system will also help restore confidence among foreigners and increase foreign investment.

A commitment to swiftly resume the authority of the Constitutional Council by speeding up the assignment process.

Investigation in Recent Assassinations: Full cooperation and coordination with the UN Investigative Team to uncover the perpetrators behind the late Hariri’s assassination attempt (including Fleihan and others) and bringing them to justice. Commitment to uncovering and trying the perpetrators behind the assassination of Hawi and Qassir and the assassination attempts of Murr and Hamade.

Information Policy: Commitment to the right of free speech. Strengthen the role of the National Information Council after closely revising its role and membership to ensure that only the most qualified are included.

Commitment to support the bill asking to reopen MTV.

Privatize National TV and Radio, with the government assuming the Golden Share to ensure that the national interest is respected as well as citizens’ rights.

Revise the laws and regulations pertaining to advertisements in a manner that invigorates this vital sector and help attract large investments.

Economic Policy: Restore confidence in the economy by unleashing the promised economic reforms of Paris II and those proposed in the FY 2005 budget proposal.

Combat corruption and waste and encourage and reward productivity and rely on accountability and transparency measures.

Encourage equitable and sustainable development to help eradicate illiteracy, poverty, and disease and help target underserved communities.

Build the tenets of a modern economic system that is flexible enough to accommodate rapid technological changes and that is responsive to workforce needs.

Emphasis on cooperation with civil society organizations, including youth organizations and business and industry associations.

Economic and trade integration with other Arab countries, the EU, and accelerating the process of accession to the WTO and commitment to uphold the principle of property rights and combating piracy.

Encourage local production by focusing on products and services of added value and that also comply with international standards, especially agricultural produce.

Encourage start-ups in small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) that allow Lebanese youth to stay in Lebanon by integrating them into the country’s business and productive base. Ease and lower the barriers to entry and exit into the marketplace.

Allow for more women and youth participation in the labor force by encouraging them to assume leadership positions in the public administration.

Tax Policy: Modernize the tax structure to effectively collect taxes.

Public Spending and Public Debt: Guide and lower public spending and modernize the management of the public debt.

Privatization: privatize the telecommunication, electricity, and energy sectors.

Financial Policy: Strengthen the financial markets by endorsing a freer stock market and encouraging the privatizing corporations to put their stocks on sale to the public.

Re-establish the ties with countries friendly to Lebanon formed during Paris II and commitment to a financial reform plan accepted by all political parties and blocs.

Workforce Policy: Institute reformed workforce policies and adopt modern job codes for public-sector jobs.

Social Policy: Put an end to dire poverty by meeting the millennium goals stipulated by the UNDP report on Lebanon.

Institute social safety nets in health care, education and retirement benefits and focus on servicing vulnerable populations (disabled, elderly, orphans, etc..)

Improve the return on investment from the provision of key social services (education, health care) in order to ensure a wider and more comprehensive coverage of beneficiaries.

Education Policy: Based on 3 tenets: 1) freedom of education while ensuring the public good; 2) linking education across all levels to the demands of the labor market; and 3) participate in world progress and encourage the acquiring of innovative knowledge by tapping into Lebanon’s cultural and economic openness.

Continue with modernizing the educational curricula and fully enforce the right of primary education for all citizens to strengthen citizenship.

Secondary Education: Encourage vocational and technical education and ensure that certification is properly linked with the needs of the labor market.

Post-Secondary Education: Focus on issues related to the Lebanese University, as it upholds the principle of national unity and again ensure that the post-secondary education is properly linked to the needs of an ever-changing economy and our expanding role in the Arab region and the world.

Follow-up on the completion of the Hadath LU edifice which encompasses all faculties.

Institute a law that guarantees LU’s independence, high-caliber academic instruction, and resolution of its standing issues.

Institute a law that sets clear standards for the establishment of private universities and colleges to ensure that the best educational instruction is provided.

The government is aware that our status in Lebanon is a result of two components: freedom and diversity, and across all sectors, especially in education and culture. This is why is it imperative to work towards achieving the highest levels of quality in all educational levels and across all its institutions.

Cultural Policy: Ensure that the rights of innovators and scholars are protected by passing laws that enforce these rights. The government looks to support and encourage innovation and cultural creativity without directing or restricting them; culture is not a commodity but part of our Lebanese heritage.

Telecommunication Policy: By coordinating the efforts of the Telecommunication and Finance Ministries, audit the revenues of the cellular and land-line networks and ensure that revenues are channeled properly to the state treasury and resolve all standing issues in that vital sector.

Decrease taxes on internet usage.

Encourage specialization in the telecommunication sector as it considered a vital tenet of a knowledge economy.

Energy Policy: Instate a short to medium-term program to deal with the electricity problem, which has cost the state massive resources and has drained the pockets of the public.

Resume the installation of electricity poles across the country.

Establish a well-programmed strategy for importing fuel oil from other countries with the least cost possible.

Push for the implementation of the energy agreement with Syria in order to operate the natural gas pipelines.

Enforce the electricity bill collection mechanism.

Set strategies to forge partnerships between the private sector and countries interested in exporting natural gas to Lebanon.

Move forward with Corporatization of all energy-related state-owned sectors with an eye towards full privatization at a later stage.

Accommodate increased energy needs by maintaining and building more electricity plants through private sector funding.

Study venues to tap into the hydro-electric industry.

Continue with building of dams and lakes based on the 10-year plan and agreements signed the Lebanese that protects our rights to the Assi, Hasbani, and Grand South rivers.

Continue with the study of the Litani project and other irrigation and water resource initiatives.

Health Policy: Move forward with the plan to reform the public health care sector in order to ensure a modern, fair, and comprehensive care for all citizens.

Women, Youth, and Sports: Enforce all the clauses agreed on by Lebanon during the 1995 World Conference on Women held in Beijing.

Encourage the role of youth, especially with regards to providing them with lending and insurance policies that encourage and protect their projects and initiatives.

Encourage sports activities and the formation of clubs away from the undertones of sectarianism and regionalism.

Environmental Policy: Set a framework for coordination and cooperation between the Environment Ministry and respective civil society and environmental organizations to encourage reforestation and protection of water resources, and limit desertification.

Acquire loans to deal with issues related to sanitization and solid waste management.

Integrate environmental policies across all levels of the overall development policy of the country, enforce all respective laws and regulations, and discourage parochial interests that continue to destroy our environment.

Cabinet-Parliament Relations: This a new era, the era of full implementation of the Taif Agreement, the era of respect for our Constitution, the Parliament, and the institution of the Cabinet, which emphasize the principle of separation of powers.

Stress accountability and transparency between the two institutions and the continuous communication among both to better strengthen the work of the government.

In that light, the government welcomes the idea to hold accountability hearings on a regular-basis, similar to what takes place in many democratic countries; a move that upholds the principle of separation of powers and further bolsters our democracy and Constitution.

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Geagea's speech rocks!

I didn't watch or read all of it, but I did watch the parts that were broadcast by Future TV and LBC. I saw a man who was vibrant, passionate and articulate. I sensed the presence of an individual who commands respect and admiration from all onlookers. Most importantly, I saw individuals who were genuinely ecstatic when around him.

My generation barely missed the civil war. Prior to the speech, Geagea was a somewhat scary mystery to me. Today, after a long and bleak stretch of political uncertainty and compromise, I've finally been injected with a shot of hope. Geagea is out. The Christian community is witnessing a political revival that is familiar to me only through words written in historical texts. A more vibrant balance is finally returning to Lebanon. And the prospect of a culturally, economically and politically vibrant Lebanon is as high as it has ever been.

I know wheeling and dealing won't end. Neither will corruption or political feuding. I also know that a tough period of adjustment lies ahead of us. Lebanon is treacherous, and it exists in a treacherous region. Despite that, I am looking forward to what lies ahead. Something deep inside tells me that things can only get better....

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Arabs Have Much to Learn From the Japanese

I promised a friend to post this article... it actually mirrors many of the thoughts that ran through my mind after watching that movie... a civilization rich in its past..poor in its present... stuggling to deal with modernity... hmm...sounds very familiar...

Arab News —

As I watched the “The Last Samurai” with Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe, I could not help but think of the lessons learned from the transition from old Japan to new.

Set during the late 1870s, the movie illustrates the struggle of the modernization of Japan, as the country evolved from a feudal to a modern, Western-style society. This struggle is illustrated by the decision of Japan’s emperor to abolish the traditional Samurai way of life.

The Samurai stood for many good things, such as honor, bravery, nobility and sacrifice. But they also believed that anything modern corrupts the spirit of Japan.

This led to a confrontation between old allies, the emperor and the Samurai. The Samurai rebellion is led by a proud warrior. The emperor hires a world-weary American war veteran, played by Tom Cruise, to train his army. The movie unfolds as the two warriors, whose cultures make them enemies but whose values make them comrades, are pitted first against one another and then side-by-side against the modern muskets of the emperor’s American-led army.

However, we all know that the emperor won the battle and this led to the modernization of Japan. Hollywood romance aside, what happened to Japan during the 20th century is nothing short of a miracle. During the first part of the century they became a military superpower in the Far East. They were feared by their neighbors for the ferocity and fearlessness of their soldiers. After World War II they became an economic superpower and equally feared and respected in the world for their economic might.

Some will argue that this was possible only because Japan abandoned its old ways and jumped on the bandwagon of the modern — Western — world. I don’t think so. I believe this was possible because Japan was able to draw on its historical strengths and retain the soul of its values and traditions. This is what made Japan special.

The Japanese were able to modernize their Samurai beliefs to fit the requirements of the modern world. When you think of corporate Japan and the Japanese workers today, one can’t help but think of competitiveness, pride, respect, honor, and commitment without fear to die rather then live dishonorably. Isn’t that what the Samurai stood for centuries ago?

Why were the Japanese able to change, adapt, and draw strength from their values, traditions, and heritage, and transform their ancient warriors into modern soldiers or corporate employees while we in the Arab world have failed to do the same?

The world is now telling us, based on the mistakes of a few, that the strengths of our past are our weakness and we are not fit for the modern world. The world is telling us that to be able to catch up and to have any hope of joining the industrial/information world, we must abandon some of our religious beliefs. Why is there this gross misinterpretation of our values and religion?

Perhaps the interpretation we ourselves provided a century ago of our values and beliefs was not sufficiently adaptable to guarantee their continuity while benefiting from what the world has to offer today. Instead, we have chosen to stagnate, to get into endless debates on side issues, to enjoy the modern consumables like kids in a candy store while simultaneously producing a narrow-minded, intolerant, militant type of Islam and exported it to every corner of the globe.

Perhaps the answer can be found in a book published by a Japanese Arabist, Nopoaki Notohara, who spent about 30 years living in the Arab world and wrote a book entitled “The Arabs.” In this book, the author, who seems to care a great deal about this part of the world, mentions some for the major differences between the Japanese and Arab minds.

He says that Japanese “add something new every day, while most Arabs just reminisce on facts discovered long time ago.” He also says the Arabs cannot comprehend how Japan was able to deal with the US after being bombarded with atomic bombs at the end of World War II. The Arabs, he says, “expect that Japan makes an everlasting enemy of the US until doomsday.” They are also at a loss to understand that Japan did a lot of “truthful” and “candid” soul-searching following their grave defeat, and were able to learn from their old mistakes. Also, the Japanese discovered early on that emotion alone does not make a future and that they must deal with their old enemies and make them allies for the benefit of Japan.

The writer concludes that the Arab mind cannot overcome its emotional, backward-looking thinking. This, I believe, limits our ability to adapt, change, and benefit from experiences, and is one of the reasons why we have not yet been able to transform from our old warriors, whose values were similar to those of the Samurais, into modern day warriors fit for this era.

Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate ourselves and learn from past mistakes, keeping the values that make us special while becoming adaptable, flexible, and letting the voice of reason and tolerance speak louder. That way we may gain the respect of the world through a deeper understanding of our own culture. In turn it will give future generations an improved chance of prosperity and growth.

We don’t have to search far: Just look at some Muslim countries that have become successful while keeping their values and traditions. I am thinking in particular of Malaysia and Dubai’s boom experience.

Perhaps most Arab countries missed the Industrial Revolution, but it is not too late to be a key player in the Information Revolution. We just need to member that emotion alone never makes a future.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Following yesterday’s explosion in Beirut, a Syrian friend messaged me saying “So its one of your people this time, the opposition is defiantly behind this one!” Immediately I took offense and questioned his rational.

In his typical humorous style he replied: Aih walaw khayo, mou 3alaina hal harakat, at 5:43pm your text message read, “Rice making statements in Beirut against Syria, do you believe it?! Yala watch the car bomb response follow.” Aih mafee two hours and the bomb went off…yala explain this to me la shoof….

He was right! With events unfolding rapidly today, I forgot that I half-jokingly made such a statement! Wala great, now I stood accused of orchestrating bombings in my own country…

On a more serious note, such is the situation today in Lebanon that even exaggerated, half-hearted, jokes about “message bombs” are not far from reality

All this reminds me of a statement that Johnny Abdo recently made. Drawing on his experience as an ex-security chief he explained that “security can never be achieved in Lebanon without a political compromise between the different parties, internal and external. No Lebanese security apparatus can ever achieve it.”

Building on Abdo’s words, one cannot but concede that Lebanon will continue to be the volatile “message box” between Syria and theUS in absence of a political compromise. Unfortunately, this is the reality we must contend with instead of burying our heads in the sand. I don’t like it and certainly won't accept compromising over Lebanon's sovereignty. Yet we must acknowledge some sort of compromise is needed.

More and more I’m feeling like that father in the movie “West Beirut” these days. In face of the attacks leading up to the war he kept reassuring everyone, “It’s just a skirmish and will end, the outside powers will compromise and the bombs will stop, Beirut will be back to normal tomorrow.” Like him I am an optimist, but let’s not put our head in the sand. As much as is being said about reorganizing the security agencies, a solution will only come through political compromise.

Friday, July 22, 2005


I'm in gemmayze and heard an explosion; first news say it's in Monot.
Also there's lots of police and ambulance sirens. More later.

Hearings: Could This Be True?

According to Al-Nahar, talk has been heard of including a possible pointer in the Government Policy Statement, which is scheduled to be released today, that basically calls for establishing a committee from within the government ranks and Parliament charged to hold "hearings" on the new electoral law.

People, did you hear this: HEARINGS? Could this be true that we are moving forward? That we're enacting something of what modern, developed states do? That our government and Parliament want to hear from the stakeholders and the public on the electoral law?

I hope such an initiative will be the beginning of establishing a process of holding hearings before enacting important laws.

Will write more soon...

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Syria (inadvertantly?) recognizes Lebanon's Sovereignty

After watching the news tonight, and learning about the new charge that Bashar's regime has raised against the Lebanese government ( 10s of Syrian workers killed, 100s injured, and 1000s missing, etc...), something dawned on me: Syria is, in its twisted way, finally dealing with Lebanon as a sovereign state.

If this is the only way they'll acknowledge that Lebanon is independent, then so be it! The cost is well worth the price....

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Info on the New Ministers

Some of you have been asking about the background of some appointed ministers. Here are the details on each as published by Al Moustaqbal. Sorry for those who can't read Arabic.

مراسيم قبول استقالة الحكومة السابقة وتشكيل الجديدة

24 وزيراً: 7 من المستقيلة و3 سابقون و13 للمرة الأولى

المستقبل - الاربعاء 20 تموز 2005 - العدد 1983 - شؤون لبنانية - صفحة 4

صدرت مساء أمس، على اثر اللقاء الثاني بين رئيس الجمهورية اميل لحود والرئيس المكلف فواد السنيورة، ثلاثة مراسيم تتعلق بقبول استقالة حكومة الرئيس نجيب ميقاتي وتسمية فؤاد السنيورة رئيساً لمجلس الوزراء، وتشكيلة الحكومة الجديدة. ووقع المرسومين الأولين الرئيس لحود، فيما وقع الثالث الرئيسان لحود والسنيورة.
مرسوم قبول الاستقالة
وأذاع المراسيم الأمين العام لرئاسة مجلس الوزراء سهيل بوجي. وجاء في نص مرسوم قبول استقالة حكومة نجيب ميقاتي والذي يحمل الرقم 14951، ما يأتي: "ان رئيس الجمهورية، بناء على الدستور، لا سيما البند 5 من المادة 53، والفقرة (أ) من البند واحد من المادة 69 منه، بناء على الاستقالة المقدمة من رئيس مجلس الوزراء السيد محمد نجيب ميقاتي، يرسم ما يأتي:
المادة الاولى: قبلت استقالة الحكومة التي يرأسها السيد محمد نجيب ميقاتي.
المادة الثانية: ينشر هذا المرسوم ويبلغ حيث تدعو الحاجة ويعمل به فور صدوره.
مرسوم تسمية السنيورة
وجاء في المرسوم الرقم 14952 تسمية فؤاد السنيورة رئيساً لمجلس الوزراء: "ان رئيس الجمهورية، بناء على الدستور لا سيما البند 3 من المادة 53 منه، بناء على المرسوم الرقم 14951 تاريخ 19/7/2005 المتضمن قبول استقالة الحكومة التي يرأسها السيد محمد نجيب ميقاتي،
يرسم ما يأتي:
المادة الاولى: يسمى السيد فؤاد السنيورة رئيساً لمجلس الوزراء.
المادة الثانية: ينشر هذا المرسوم ويبلغ حيث تدعو الحاجة ويعمل به فور صدوره.
مرسوم تشكيل الحكومة
أما مرسوم تشكيل الحكومة الذي حمل الرقم 14953، فنص على الآتي: "ان رئيس الجمهورية بناء على الدستور لا سيما المادة 53 منه، بناء على المرسوم الرقم 14952 تاريخ 19/7/2005، المتضمن تسمية السيد فؤاد السنيورة رئيسا لمجلس الوزراء، بناء على اقتراح رئيس مجلس الوزراء، يرسم ما يأتي:
المادة الاولى: عين السادة:
فؤاد السنيورة رئيساً لمجلس الوزراء
الياس المر نائباً لرئيس مجلس الوزراء ووزيراً للدفاع الوطني
مروان حمادة وزيراً للاتصالات
ميشال فرعون وزير دولة لشؤون مجلس النواب
غازي العريضي وزيراً للاعلام
محمد جواد خليفة وزيراً للصحة العامة
شارل رزق وزيراً للعدل
خالد قباني وزيراً للتربية والتعليم العالي
حسن عكيف السبع وزيرا للداخلية والبلديات
طراد كنج حمادة وزيراً للعمل
طارق متري وزيراً للثقافة
نعمه طعمه وزيراً للمهجرين
نائلة معوض وزيراً للشؤون الاجتماعية
محمد الصفدي وزيراً للأشغال العامة والنقل
محمد فنيش وزيراً للطاقة والمياه
أحمد فتفت وزيراً للشباب والرياضة
جان أوغاسبيان وزير دولة لشؤون التنمية الادارية
بيار الجميل وزيراً للصناعة
فوزي صلوخ وزيراً للخارجية والمغتربين
جوزف سركيس وزيراً للسياحة
سامي حداد وزيراً للاقتصاد والتجارة
طلال الساحلي وزيراً للزراعة
يعقوب الصراف وزيراً للبيئة
جهاد أزعور وزيراً للمالية
المادة الثانية: ينشر هذا المرسوم ويبلغ حيث تدعو الحاجة ويعمل به فور صدوره.

الوزراء الجدد
* احمد فتفت
­ وزير الشباب والرياضة.
­ مواليد طرابلس 1953. متأهل من رولا مظلوم ولهما ولدان.
­ والده النائب السابق محمد خضر فتفت انتخب نائباً عن الضنية ـ المنية لدورتي 1960 و1968.
­ خريج جامعة "لوفان" الكاثوليكية في بلجيكا في الطب الداخلي والجهاز الهضمي.
­ كان عضواً في "الجمعية الملكية للجهاز الهضمي" في بلجيكا.
­ تولى مهمة مسؤول المكتب الصحي لـ "التجمع الوطني للعمل الاجتماعي"، وهو عضو مجلس تنسيق "التجمع".
­ عضو مؤسس في المجلس الثقافي في الضنية.
­ رئيس فرع "النجدة الشعبية" في طرابلس.
­ انتخب نائباً في الاعوام 1996، 2000 و2005.
* جان اوغاسابيان
­ وزير الدولة لشؤون التنمية الادارية.
­ متأهل من ناديا جلوان ولهما ابنة واحدة: ريتا.
­ تابع دراسته الثانوية في مدرسة "الشانفيل".
­ التحق بالمدرسة الحربية وتخرج منها برتبة ملازم في العام 1977. حائز شهادة في علم الادارة والموازنة في الولايات المتحدة.
­ تدرج في الجيش حتى رتبة عقيد. خدم في لواء الحرس الجمهوري بين العامين 1990 و2000 مسؤولاً عن أمن الرئيس وأمن الرئاسة، ثم مساعداً لقائد الحرس الجمهوري.
­ قدم استقالته من الجيش بتاريخ 3/2/2000.
­ إنتخب نائباً في دورتي 2000 و2005.
* نائلة معوض
­ وزيرة الشؤون الاجتماعية.
­ مواليد بشري العام 1940. أرملة الرئيس الشهيد رينه معوض ولهما ولدان.
­ تلقت دروسها في مدرسة "الفرنسيسكان" وانتسبت الى الكشافة في مدرسة "الناصرة".
­ درست الانكليزية في بريطانيا، وفي جامعة القديس يوسف تخصصت في الأدب الفرنسي.
­ عملت صحافية في جريدة "الاوريان".
­ عينت نائباً في العام 1991، وانتخبت في دورات 1992، 1996، 2000 و2005.
* طلال الساحلي
­ وزير الزراعة.
­ ولد في الهرمل العام 1952، متأهل.
­ حائز على دكتوراه في العلوم الهندسية اختصاص اتصالات، وكفاءة في العلوم الهندسية اختصاص اتصالات.
­ الانجازات العلمية: براءتا اختراع لهوائيات تعمل على موجات المايكرويف، ومعادلة جديدة لحساب معامل الانزياح الموجي لشبه الموصل الصناعي.
­ عضو مجلس ادارة "المجلس الوطني للبحوث العلمية" (1998 ـ 2001).
­ استاذ مساعد في كلية الهندسة ـ الجامعة اللبنانية (1985 ـ 2005).
­ رئيس قسم هندسة الكهرباء والالكترونيك في الفرع الثالث لكلية الهندسة في الجامعة اللبنانية من العام 1999 حتى العام 2002.
­ باحث في قسم الهندسة الكهربائية في جامعة سيدني ـ استراليا.
­ باحث ومعيد في معهد للاتصالات الراديوية ـ سانت بترسبورغ.
­ باحث موفد من الجامعة اللبنانية الى "المدرسة الوطنية العليا للاتصالات" ـ باريس (2001)، والى مدرسة "البوليتكنيك" في مدينة نانت في فرنسا (2003).
­ انجز 12مشروعاً اكاديمياً.
­ الابحاث والنشرات العلمية: ورقة مؤتمر علمي 1982، براءتا اختراع في العامين 1983 و1984، تقريران علميان في العامين 1992 و2000، و4 مقالات علمية في الأعوام: 1983، 1984، 1986 و2004.
اللغات: العربية، الفرنسية، الانكليزية والروسية.
* بيار الجميّل
­ وزير الصناعة.
­ مواليد بكفيا في 23 أيلول 1972، وهو النجل البكر للرئيس أمين الجميل. متأهل من باتريسيا الضعيف من زغرتا.
­ تلقى علومه في مدرسة "الفرير" ـ الشانفيل (ديك المحدي)، وفي "اليسوعية" في مدينة نيس الفرنسية.
­ نال اجازة في الحقوق من جامعة "الحكمة".
* فوزي صلوخ
­ وزير الخارجية والمغتربين.
­ مواليد 1931 القماطية ـ قضاء عاليه. متزوج من هند بسمة وله ثلاثة اولاد: زينة وهاشم وباسل.
­ تلقى علومه الابتدائية في مدرسة "النهضة" التابعة للرهبنة الباسلية الحلبية في بمكين، والتكميلية والثانوية في "الجامعة الوطنية" في عاليه وحاز الشهادة في العام 1950.
­ حائز على بكالوريوس في العلوم السياسية من الجامعة الاميركية في بيروت (1954).
­ مارس مهنة التعليم ما بين العامين 1955 و1957.
­ مدير العلاقات العامة في "مؤسسة فرنكلين للطباعة والنشر" في فرعها في بيروت (1957 ـ 1960).
­ التحق بالسلك الديبلوماسي اللبناني في العام 1960 وتقلب في المراكز الآتية: قائماً بأعمال لبنان في ليبيريا (1962ـ 1964)، رئيس بعثة لبنان في سيراليون (1964ـ1971)، الادارة المركزية في وزارة الخارجية والمغتربين (1971ـ 1978)، سفيراً في نيجيريا (1978ـ 1985)، سفيراً للبنان في الجزائر (1985ـ 1987)، مديراً للشؤون الاقتصادية في الادارة المركزية (1987ـ 1990)، سفيراً في النمسا ومندوباً للبنان لدى مكتب الامم المتحدة في فيينا ومفوضاً للبنان لدى الوكالة الدولية للطاقة الذرية (1990ـ 1994)، سفيراً لدى بلجيكا ومفوضاً لدى الاتحاد الاوروبي وسفيراً مقيماً للبنان في امارة لوكسمبورغ (1994ـ 1995).
­ مثل لبنان في عدد من الاجتماعات والمؤتمرات الاقليمية والدولية.
­ عمل مستشاراً سياسياً لرئيس المجلس الاسلامي الشيعي الاعلى الراحل الامام الشيخ محمد مهدي شمس الدين ولرئيس مجلس النواب الاسبق عادل عسيران لدى اجتماعات اللجنة السداسية المكلفة ايجاد حل للقضية اللبنانية في العام 1989.
­ حائز عددا من الاوسمة والميداليات.
­ نائب رئيس اللجنة الفاحصة لدى مجلس الخدمة المدنية للمرشحين لوظيفة ملحق ديبلوماسي في ثلاث مباريات.
­ الامين العام لـ"الجامعة الاسلامية" في لبنان منذ العام 1998.
ـ مؤلفاته: "الواقع اللبناني قضايا وآراء"، "الواقع الاقليمي والدولي ـ قضايا ومواقف"، "تحولات دولية في ظل العولمة"، "امركة النظام العالمي ـ الاخطار والتداعيات"، "السفير فوزي صلوخ سيرة ومسيرة" (تحت الطبع).
* محمد الصفدي
­ وزير الأشغال العامة والنقل.
­ من مواليد طرابلس 1944 متأهل من منى صيداوي.
­ أكمل دروسه الثانوية في مدرسة "برمانا هاي سكول".
­ مجاز في إدارة الأعمال من "الجامعة الأميركية" في بيروت.
­ بدأ حياته المهنية بالعمل في حقل التجارة في طرابلس، ثم انتقل إلى بيروت في العام 1969 فأسس لنفسه أعمالا تجارية مهدت له السبيل إلى المملكة العربية السعودية في العام 1975، بحيث توسعت أعماله في عدد من الدول العربية وأوروبا من خلال مشاريع استثمارية متنوعة شملت قطاعات البناء والإسكان والطيران والتكنولوجيا والسياحة والمصارف.
­ منذ العام 1995 يدير أعماله انطلاقا من لبنان من خلال "مجموعة الصفدي القابضة".
­ انتخب نائبا عن طرابلس للمرة الأولى في العام 2000، ثم في العام 2005.
­ رئيس لجنة الصداقة اللبنانية ـ الألمانية منذ العام 2000.
­ عضو لجنة الصداقة اللبنانية ـ الكويتية منذ العام 2000.
­ أطلق في العام 2000 "مؤسسة الصفدي التنموية"، وهي منظمة غير حكومية تعمل في حقل التنمية البشرية (زراعة، بيئة، تكنولوجيا، صحة، تربية، رياضة).
­ عضو في: مجلس المستشارين في معهد جون كينيدي ـ جامعة هارفرد ـ بوسطن، ومجلس الأمناء في "الجامعة اللبنانية الأميركية"، ومجلس أمناء "مؤسسة تدريب الرواد اللبنانية"، ومجلس أمناء "جامعة الجنان".
­ حائز على وسام الاستحقاق من جمهورية ألمانيا الاتحادية.
* نعمة طعمة
­ وزير المهجرين.
­ مواليد المختارة العام 1934، متزوج من تريز عطية وله ثلاثة أولاد: ياسمين، يوسف ويمنى.
­ تلقى علومه الابتدائية والثانوية في المختارة ومدرسة "الفرير ماريست" في جونيه.
­ تخرج مهندساً مدنياً من "الجامعة الاميركية" في بيروت.
­ أسس "شركة المباني للهندسة والمقاولات والبناء" في العام 1972.
­ ساهم في العديد من الشركات والمصارف، وعضو مجلس إدارة في أكثر من شركة.
* جوزيف جورج سركيس
­ وزير السياحة.
­ مواليد العام 1949، الدورة ـ بيروت. متأهل من منى غازي سعد، ولهما ثلاثة أولاد: جورج، بيتر وأنطوني.
­ حائز على دبلوم في الهندسة المدنية ـ فرع الاشغال العامة من جامعة القديس يوسف في بيروت.
­ عضو نقابة المهندسين اللبنانيين.
­ عضو في مجلس بلدية بيروت ورئيس لجنة الرياضة والشؤون الاجتماعية بين العامين 1998 و2004.
­ مدير مكتب بيروت في "شركة المباني للهندسة والمقاولات" منذ العام 1992 وحتى تاريخه.
­ مدير عام "الشركة السياحية للهندسة والمقاولات" في بيروت بين العامين 1982 و1991.
­ عمل كمهندس بعد تخرجه في شركات سعودية وكندية.
­ عضو المكتب السياسي في حزب الكتائب بين العامين 1998 و1993.
­ مسؤول عن منطقة بيروت في "القوات اللبنانية" منذ العام 2002 وحتى اليوم.
­ يتقن اللغات: العربية، الفرنسية والانكليزية.
* يعقوب الصراف
­ وزير البيئة.
­ مواليد العام 1962، طرابلس. متأهل وله ولدان.
­ حائز على شهادة الهندسة المدنية من "الجامعة الأميركية" في بيروت.
­ عضو نقابة المهندسين اللبنانيين.
­ شغل مناصب عدة كمدير مساعد لعدد من المؤسسات والشركات الفرنسية والمغربية واليوناني منها (غينتولي، جترايتر وجيوميل).
­ محافظ بيروت منذ العام 1999 وحتى اليوم، ومحافظ جبل لبنان بالوكالة منذ العام 2002.
­ يتقن اللغات: العربية، الفرنسية والإنكليزية.
­ حائز على الجنسية الفرنسية.
* سامي حداد
­ وزير الإقتصاد والتجارة.
­ مواليد العام 1950. متأهل من حنان فاخوري، وله ولدان: كريم وريا.
­ حائز على شهادة الاقتصاد من "الجامعة الاميركية" في بيروت.
­ خضع لدورات تدريبية في جامعة هارفرد، وفي المصرف الاحتياطي الفديرالي في نيويورك.
­ تقلب في مناصب عدة في الشركة المالية الدولية التابعة للبنك الدولي حتى وصل الى منصب مدير فرع "الشرق الاوسط وشمال إفريقيا" منذ العام 2000 وحتى اليوم.
­ عمل في مصرف لبنان كمساعد لحاكم المصرف بين العامين 1979 و1981.
­ مدير سابق لمصرف "سوسيتيه جنرال" ـ فرع الحمراء.
­ يتقن اللغات: العربية، الفرنسية والانكليزية.
* محمد فنيش
­ وزير الطاقة والمياه.
­ مواليد بلدة معروب قضاء صور 1953. متأهل من حنان سلمان ولهما خمسة أولاد: ياسر، حمزة، فاطمة، علي ورضا.
­ تلقى دراسته الابتدائية في "معهد الريحاني" والثانوية في مدرسة "برج البراجنة الرسمية" والجامعية في "الجامعة اللبنانية".
­ يحمل إجازة في الرياضيات من كلية العلوم في "الجامعة اللبنانية"، واجازة في العلوم السياسية من كلية الحقوق والعلوم السياسية في "الجامعة اللبنانية".
­ عمل في اطار اللجان الاسلامية في الضاحية الجنوبية من أجل مواجهة الاحتلال الصهيوني ورفع الحرمان عن أهالي الجنوب والضاحية خلال السبعينات.
­ شارك في التصدي للاجتياح الصهيوني لبيروت خلال الحصار الذي فرضه العدو على العاصمة.
­ شارك في التصدي لاتفاق 17 أيار من خلال العمل الشعبي خلال المواجهات التي حصلت مع السلطة آنذاك.
­ إعتقل في 26 تشرين الثاني 1984 على يد القوات الاسرائيلية وأدخل زنازين معتقل انصار، وسجون الأراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة.
­ زاول مهنة التدريس في مادة الرياضيات للمرحلة الثانوية.
­ إنخرط في "حزب الله" مع بداية تشكله وتسلم مسؤوليات عدة منها: مسؤول منطقة الجنوب خلال فترة الاحتلال، عضو في شورى القرار، عضو في اللجنة السياسية التي تشكلت مع إنطلاقة العمل التنظيمي ومسؤول عن العلاقات الخارجية.
­ تولى مسؤولية رئاسة المكتب السياسي.
­ إنتخب نائباً عن المقعد الشيعي في صور في دورة 1992 ونائباً عن بنت جبيل في دورات 1996 و2000 و2005 .
­ عمل في المجلس النيابي من خلال كتلة "الوفاء للمقاومة" على الدفاع عن حقوق المواطنين وساهم في بلورة العديد من القوانين.
­ عضو المؤتمر القومي الاسلامي، وعضو مؤسس في "الهيئة الوطنية لمقاومة الاحتلال" وفي "لجنة المتابعة لدعم قضية الأسرى والمعتقلين في السجون الاسرائيلية".
* جهاد أزعور
­ وزير المالية.
­ مواليد سير الضنية في العام 1966. متأهل من رولا رزق.
­ تلقى علومه في مدرسة "الفرير" ـ جبيل، وأكمل تعليمه الثانوي في مونبيلييه ـ فرنسا، وحصل على إجازة في العلوم المالية من جامعة "باري نوف دوفين" ـ فرنسا.
­ حاصل على إجازة في الحقوق من جامعة باريس، وشهادة من معهد العلوم السياسية في باريس، وحائز على دكتوراه من معهد العلوم السياسية في باريس ومن جامعة هارفرد في اميركا.
­ عمل في مؤسسات مالية عدة في فرنسا واهمها شركة الاستشارات العالمية "ماكينزي"، وشركة "سان غوبان".
­ شغل منصب مدير لمشروع الامم المتحدة والبنك الدولي في وزارة المالية منذ العام 1999 ولغاية 2004. واشرف خلال هذه الفترة على البرنامج الاصلاحي في وزارة المالية.
­ خبير لدى مؤسسات دولية كصندوق النقد الدولي والامم المتحدة.
­ استاذ محاضر في الجامعة الاميركية سابقاً.
­ له مؤلفات عديدة باللغتين الفرنسية والانكليزية في حقل الاقتصاد والمال.

The Government Sees The Light!

The Government sees the light!

Lahoud increased his allies to four (added Yacoub Sarraf, the Governor of Beirut). Charles Rizk, Lahoud's ally, was given the Justice portfolio (I believe a concession on the part of Seniora). Seniora, therefore, replaced two of the Future Movement representatives, Atef Majdalani and Bahij Tabbara, with Lahoud's Yacoub Sarraf and Future Movement's Ahmad Fatfat. And while keeping all the other names the same, he in a smart maneuver shuffled the portfolios around to appease Lahoud's stand on the Christian representation. I'm excited!

This is the lineup:

Maronite: Charles Rizk (Justice), Jihad Azour (Finance), Nayla Moawwad (Social Affairs), Pierre Gemayel (Industry), Joe Sarkis (Tourism)

Sunni: Fouad Seniora (Prime Minister), Hassan Sabeh (Interior), Mohammad Safadi (Public Works), Khaled Qabbani (Education), Ahmad Fatfat (Sports and Youth)

Shiite: Fawzi Salloukh (Foreign), Talal Al-Sahili (Agriculture), Trad Hamade (Labor), Mohammad Khalifeh (Health), Mohammad Fneich (Energy)

Orthodox: Elias Murr (Deputy PM and Defense), Yacoub Sarraf (Environment), Tarek Mitri (Culture)

Druze: Marwan Hamade (Telecommunications), Ghazi Aridi (Information)

Catholic: Michel Pharaon (Minister of Parliamentary Affairs (a new portfolio...)), Nihmeh Tohme (Displaced)

Armenian and Minorities: Jean Ogassapian (Administrative Reform), Sami Haddad (Economy and Trade)

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

The Guessing Game: Hizbullah and Geagea

I might have just figured out why Hizbullah yesterday did not vote for Geagea's release. Their official claim was that they declined to vote because around the issue revolves certain sensitivities and complications on the national level and they used the late Rashid Karami's family as a justification for not participating in the amnesty law.

I could have believed that their move was purely driven by domestic/national concerns (note above "the national level"), if it wasn't for Al-Mustaqbal's piece of news which reported that 30 Iranian students demonstrated against Geagea's release in Tehran.

Why? What does Iran have to do with Geagea? The answer is that they were against his release because he was implicated in the kidnappings of four Iranian diplomats in Lebanon during the Israeli invasion in 1982 whom no traces were found of them since then, noting that Tehran believes that the Lebanese Forces turned in these diplomats to Israel. it's clearer why Hizbullah did not vote for Geagea's amnesty law...and it's not for purely national reasons and principles. They closely uphold Iran's policies and demands, so it would be better if they were outright and clear instead of leaving us with the guessing games.

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Lebanon Retaliates

Yesterday, Naharnet and the Daily Star reported that Lebanese authorities and Syrian smugglers clashed somewhere along Lebanon’s northern border. Majdoline Hatoum of the Daily Star claimed that

A gun battle broke out between Lebanese police and Syrian smugglers in the
northern city of Qaa…. One Lebanese officer was slightly wounded and the
smugglers returned to Syria…. A police source also claimed a Syrian border
patrol member shot toward Lebanese Customs Officers.

Naharnet reported that

The shootout took place just outside the Lebanese village of Qaa, 100 kilometers
(60 miles) northeast of Beirut, in an area where Lebanon's border with Syria is
not clearly demarcated. Lebanon recently increased its patrols along the area's
mountain trails to curb smuggling.

This development is good news! It is good news because certain Lebanese authorities are not only retaliating against the recent Syrian belligerency, they are retaliating wisely.

Border Mafia: a Flourishing Enterprise for the Syrian Armed Forces

The smuggling of goods across the Syrian-Lebanese border is an enterprise that has been flourishing since the end of the civil war. Between the Lebanese and Syrian border crossings in Masna’a for example, there is a five-kilometer stretch of highway that crosses what some people refer to as “no-man’s land.” Smugglers got so confident during Syria’s tutelage of Lebanon, that they’d actually drive their over-loaded 1970s pickup trucks down the wrong direction of the highway without any hint of fear from the authorities (Lebanese or Syrian). I saw them with my own eyes – every time I’d visit Syria, at least one of those vehicles would cruise down the highway; in the wrong direction, mind you. Every time I’d see them, my blood would boil in anger and frustration!

One of things I’d do in Syria was seek answers to some of the questions and issues that troubled me. During this one trip for example, I started a discussion with the driver of the vehicle I was in. It revolved around his experience in Syria’s obligatory two-year military service. During the discussion, I learnt something fascinating!

To the Syrian officer or soldier, the most sought-for posting was at border crossings. If they managed to get posted in one (especially a crossing that experienced considerable traffic), it meant that they were set for life! Only those with enough connections (wasta) however, could pull such a stunt off. Furthermore, the armed forces had institutionalized and strictly enforced short-term rotations, so that as many well-connected servicemen as possible could get a taste of that “border honey” as possible.

How did these state-sponsored border mafias make their money? Well, the list is quite long, and anyone who crosses the border with Syria can easily find out.

1. Passport Control: Put in a dollar or two inside of your passport for “express service.” Otherwise, the questions will go on and on, and five or six other passports will be stamped before yours

2. Car Registration: Every time, you enter or leave Syria, you have to register your car. Again, there’s the option of express service

3. Car Searches: You have two options: 1) comprehensive search 2) half-blind search. I don’t need to mention what the variable here is

4. Customs Laws for Goods: The real money is made when Syrian Customs officers search trucks carrying goods to or through Syria. These guys can make life really difficult for truck drives and transport companies especially because the laws in Syria are not exactly “business friendly”.

5. Smuggling of Goods: I’m not too sure what the scale of these operations is. However, considering the intensity of complaints from Lebanese agriculturalists in recent years, it is most-likely quite considerable. The three partners of these operations are (or were) the Syrian military, the Lebanese military and Arab/Bedouin tribes.

Syrian Economy not Hit; but Regime Potentially Hit Hard

There’s no question about it: the economic blockade hurts the Lebanese economy more than the Syrian. Even if Lebanese authorities decided to retaliate by imposing their own barrier on Syrian imports, Lebanese consumers would loose more than Syrian producers. However, considering the nature of the Syrian regime, approaching the conflict from such an angle is simply missing the point.

To the Ba’th dictatorship, pressure from the economic sector comes in a distant second place to pressure from the security/military apparatuses. After the assassination of Hariri, passenger traffic to and from Syria decreased significantly. After the economic blockade, traffic of goods plummeted as well. The only source of revenue that remained untouched (and maybe even increased as a result of the blockade) was the smuggling of goods across the border.

By targeting the smugglers, Lebanese authorities are taking from the Syrian military its last source of revenue in the border areas – the fact that Syrian border guards shot at Lebanese officers could indicate the inevitable frustration. Moreover, in order to have engaged the smugglers the authorities have proven that they are no longer partners in the smuggling operations. When put in the larger context of the overall withdrawal from Lebanon, it becomes clear that the Syrian military has abruptly lost some a major source of revenue.

Taking this reality into consideration, and juxtaposing it on the fact that Bashar’s click in the Ba’th depends overwhelmingly on corruption to maintain the loyalty of the security services, it is easy to see that the regime is really stretching its luck by adopting such a policy. Their country’s economy may not be harmed significantly by the blockade, but the loyalty of their security apparatus may now be considered to be in doubt (especially if the blockade continues into the future).

Do I have a timeline? No. But I do know that the regime in Damascus is prohibiting Syrian officers and soldiers from accessing one of their major sources of (outside) revenue available to them. Unless Damascus can come up with an alternative gold mine, it is easy to conclude that such a policy is not sustainable. So my advice to Lebanese authorities is to keep up the pressure by prohibiting the smugglers from running their operations. If the authorities in Damascus won’t feel the pressure from Syrian merchants, then they’ll hear it from their officers pretty soon – a much more powerful constituent!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Ain Rimmeneh & Shiyyeh Clashes

Guys, guys, what is going on? Did you read this? Clashes in Ain Rimmeneh between LFers celebrating Geagea's release and men from the Shiyyeh neighborhood (Assafir claims they were identified as from Amal's party.) 16 were wounded and one person was killed and the army intervened to stop the shooting.

What is going on?...

...And tomorrow around 9:00AM Seniora is set to meet with Lahoud. It's the final, decisive meeting....

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

A Sweet Day, A Bitter Day

Geagea will be out in a week! That's a piece of news.

But there's more: Today Saad Hariri came out at last from his silence. He said that at many times during the past 15 years, the late Rafiq Hariri was not represented in the government, despite having a hefty Parliamentary representation, "did he play the sectarian card or did he just contend with assuming the side of the Opposition?" he asked. He also added that many Christian power blocs and Jumblatt as well were at times not represented in the government and no one steered the political discourse towards sectarianism the way it is being steered right now.

On another point: Aoun today was asked whether Geagea's return to the political arena will create a new Christian power balance. Aoun answered that nothing will change until after a new Parliamentary elections take place (which translates to: "I am the sole Maronite popular leader for now.")

I don't know why a famous Egyptian movie's title is stuck in my head: A Sweet Day, A Bitter Day (Yom Hilou, Yom Murr). Perhaps because this is how Lebanon makes me feel : A Sweet Day, A Bitter Day...

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Balls of Fire!

The Monday editorials of Assafir, Annahar, and Al-Mustaqbal are like burning fire: against Syria and its punitive and meddling actions, against the threat of a "Federation of sects", against a political vacuum that bodes ill and promises war, against shady deals to break the symbol of March 14...

If Talal Salman, Ghassan Tueini, and Naseer As'ad see a bleak prospect (especially Assafir's editorial), then what are we left with?

The majority has fallen in a trap and is being successfuly suffocated. And to those who can't read the Arabic, I say: it is too disheartening translating the bleakness.

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Syrian "Soldiers" Still in Beirut

The Lebanese Blogosphere and Press have been obsessed with the formation of the Cabinet for as long as I can remember. Almost every article or entry that one reads has to do, in some form or another, with the cabinet.

In the Press, you find the following headlines:
Lahoud, Seniora in 'Irremediable Discord' as Lebanon Teeters on Brink of Abyss
Seniora after 1-Hour Talks with Patriarch: 'No Blessing, No Veto'
Aoun's door is open
PM back to square one on Cabinet
Lebanon's PM proposes new 24-member Cabinet

In the Blogosphere, headlines read as follows:
I'm Disgusted With Sectarianism!
The New Cabinet of Ministers Really Stinks
BREAKING NEWS: Seniora Submits A New Lineup To Lahoud!

A scan of both forums highlights a discourse that unfortunately verges close to all-out sectarian conflict as well as a complete obsession with local readings. Some new “enlightened thinkers” who have graced the blogosphere with their wisdom deserve a whole post on their own; but they are not the subject of this entry. Instead, I am posting because one aspect of the cabinet formation process is (for some weird reason) not covered by both bloggers and columnists: Syria's role.

Syria has become part of our government-formation process

Only two Lebanese bloggers have posted on Syria in the past few days: Firas, a member of the Lebanese Bloggers, and Tony at Across the Bay. Firas has written profusely about Syria’s possible role in the attempted assassination of Elias el Murr. Tony, on the other hand, has posted entries regarding Syria’s recent enthusiasm for border-security. Neither bloggers, to my knowledge (please guys, forgive me if I’m wrong) has connected these developments to the formation of the government.

In an entry titled Syrian Spite, Tony posts the following quotation from Nicholas Blanford:

Syria is making a "political statement that it is a strong adversary, if not an
'enemy' of the 'new Lebanon' that came out of the ballot boxes after the era of
Syrian tutelage," wrote Nassir Asaad, a columnist for Lebanon's Al Mustaqbal

Firas posted a story from Naharnet that reported the arrest of five Lebanese fishers off of Syria’s waters with the sarcastic title of “HOW FAR AND LOW ARE THE "BROTHERS" GONNA GO?”

I’m not so sure what the complete press coverage is like, but I am sure that if any columnists made the connection between the recent Syrian economic blockade (which, in international law, amounts to a de-facto declaration of war) and the formation of the future cabinet, they are few and far between.

Assassinations were not working… so they reverted to economic war!

The assassinations have been going on since the attempted murder of Marwan Hamade. Bloggers, thus far, have assumed that the Syrians harbor at least three possible motives for conducting such operations: 1) Assassinate their political opponents or those “who know too much” 2) Create a sense of instability in the country that would keep everyone on their feet and shut down the vital tourist industry 3) Ensure that Westerners perceive Lebanon’s “transition to democracy” as a rough transition, in the interest of discouraging further adventures.

The motive that has yet to be mentioned by most bloggers is the Syrian desire to maintain its grip on the country. In other words we all agreed that Syria was playing the role of the “spoiler” in our New Lebanon, but we could not even fathom that it actually desired to regain control over our country. The recent economic blockade is the final piece of the puzzle that points exactly at what Syria’s new (or rather not so new) policy towards Lebanon is, and what it will be for the foreseeable future.

What is clear is that the current economic blockade began when the process of cabinet-formation began. It has also become clear that this situation will persist until the Syrians get what they want. Berri mentioned two days ago that the situation will be resolved in a matter of hours (or rather, a day). It appears that Seniora did not cave in, and consequently, the Syrians did not play ball.

If the Syrians have realized that they cannot afford the cost of assassinating anyone in the Hariri orbit, they now think they can afford the price of destroying what is most valuable to Lebanese: its economy. If they are able to sustain the regional and international pressure that would result from such a policy, Seniora will most definitely be pressured into concessions.

A Glimmer of Light in a Room of Darkness: the People are Beginning to Feel Lebanese

The reason a glimmer of hope exists inside of me is that the Lebanese people are now starting to see Syria as a different and even hostile country. Even Lebanese who traditionally feel “pro-Syrian” have begun to seriously question their leanings. They now understand that the “Realists” have a point when they say that “its every country for itself,” irrespective of ideology, religion, race or whatever.

Muslims and Christians alike are beginning to see that Syria is a belligerent country that is not that much better than others in our vicinity. They are starting to feel like they are one people under siege, and are even thinking the unthinkable: in several conversations I recently overheard, people openly discussed signing a peace deal with Israel as a means of creating a different access point to Arab markets - it appears that when people are given the choice between starvation and dealing with an "enemy," they choose the latter.

The biggest losers of the blockade are Shi’a farmers in the Beka’a and South. Their products are rotting in the borders, and the markets that once received fruits/vegetables from Lebanese farms are now seeking other suppliers. This Syrian policy is putting Hizballah in a very tough bind, and (if it continues for the foreseeable future) will most likely induce some serious soul-searching in the Shi’ite community. The next group of losers are traders and manufacturers from all sects who depend on Gulf and Iraqi markets to sell their products. In short, today, it is not only one or two sects that are thinking about what was once the unthinkable. Today, all Lebanese are thinking – thinking about how to survive this onslaught from our “brotherly” neighbor.

Seniora: Stick to Your Guns!

Hopefully, Seniora will not cave into the Syrian demands for Syrian representation in the new cabinet. We did not kick them out of the Parliament so that they could be represented in our govrenment! Rumors on the street say that Mikati is on his way back. I seriously hope that is not the case…. If it is, we would have lost yet another round to our “brothers,” across the border, and Lebanon’s independence would simply be what it has been for the past 30 years: a hopeless pipe-dream.

I'm crossing my fingers. Our only way out of this is if we're able to muster enough international pressure to get the Syrians to loosen their suffocating grip. Lets hope that France and the US are still as interested in our independence as they were a couple of months ago.

I'm Disgusted With Sectarianism!

Reading the news today, all I can say is: I'm disgusted with sectarianism! Nothing more to add...speechless.

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Syria Seizes 5 Lebanese Fishermen & their Boats

Syria has arrested five Lebanese fishermen and seized their two boats after they strayed into Syrian territorial waters from the northern port city of Tripoli.
The association of fishermen staged a sit-in around Tripoli's government house on Saturday, demanding that the detained fishermen since Friday be allowed to return with their two boats home.

Public Works Minister Adel Hamieh called his Syrian counterpart Makram Obeid by telephone Saturday and asked that the stray fishermen be released.

Hamieh also issued a warning to fishermen in north Lebanon to avoid Syrian territorial waters.

An Nahar

Sticky Issues: Why Is Majdal Anjar Pegged to Geagea's Release?

Monday is the date when Berri as promised a million times will incur the bill to release Geagea and the prisoners of Majdal Anjar and Dinnieh. As we all await Monday, it might just not come and let me explain why...

There has been this vagueness about this issue from Berri's side, a vagueness to set a time and date, a vagueness in their statements. The last I've heard was Amal's MP Khalil saying that the bill will be tabled in the Parliament once a government is formed and blessed (not by Lahoud only, but by the Parliament). This ambiguity is dangerous.

But there's more...

On Kalam Innass two days ago, Charles Ayoub, the editor-in-chief of Addiyar, voiced his concern that pegging the issue of Majdal Anjar to Geagea's release, and in the light of Elias Murr's assassination attempt, was intentionally done as a stalling tactic.

We've read the news and learned that Muslim extremists might just be behind the assassination attempt as they hold a grudge against Murr who rounded up a cell in Majdal Anjar during his stint as Interior Minister.

With this sticky issue on the surface now, how will the Geagea issue be passed? It's clear that Geagea is imprisoned for charges that he has been proven innocent from. And aren't Geagea's release and Majdal Anjar two different, separate issues?

I remember once Elias Murr during a press conference from Aoun's house said clearly that he believes the two issues are separate...So it's clear that they are separate. Why then were they lumped together? And who lumped them? I would like to get your insights.

Finally, it's in the press today: there are rumors that the Monday session might just be postponed to accomodate the new government, if Lahoud blesses the lineup over the weekend.

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Lineup: Check The Names

UPDATE2: Aoun said yesterday that he will contest the government lineup before the Constitutional Council if Lahoud agrees to it. Aoun claims that the lineup does not uphold the Constitutional principle of balanced national representation (i.e.: he's not represented)....I wonder what works for Aoun...

: I updated the lineup based on official sources; there are some considerable changes, so read over.

Okay, this is the lineup that Seniora presented to Lahoud today morning. There are some changes made to the mix, however all in all it looks like the original lineup that Seniora prepared before Aoun's agreement to join the government. The lineup basically has a mix between technocrats, Parliamentarians from the Hariri/Jumblatt/Qornet Shehwan/Lebanese Forces bloc, Hizbullah/Amal's bloc, and Lahoud's allies (whom he asked to be represented). Sources say that this government lineup is blessed by HA/Amal.

We're left with Lahoud's agreement now, who already issued a statement saying that he encouraged Seniora to return to the negotiating table with Aoun. Is this a joke??!!!

Here's the lineup:

Jihad Azour (Finance), Charles Rizk (Culture), Nayla Moawwad (Social Affairs), Joe Sarkis (Tourism), Pierre Gemayel (Industry)

Fouad Seniora (PM), Bahij Tabbara (Justice), Hassan Sabeh (Interior), Mohammad Safadi (Public Works), Ahmad Fatfat (Youth and Sports)

Trad Hamadeh (Labor), Fawzi Salloukh (Foreign), Mohammad Jawad Khalifeh (Health), Talal Al-Sahili (Agriculture), Mohammad Fneich (Energy)

Elias Murr (Deputy PM and Defense Minister), Tarek Mitri (Administrative Development), Atef Majdalani (Environment)

Michel Pharaon (State Minister), Nihmeh Tohmeh (Displaced)

Marwan Hmadeh (Education), Ghazi Aridi (Information)

Armenian and Minorities:
Jean Ogassapian (Economy and Trade), Sami Haddad (Telecommunication)

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

BREAKING NEWS: Seniora Submits A New Lineup To Lahoud!

Seniora has met today morning with President Lahoud and provided him with another 24-member government lineup that does not include Aoun's bloc, after the proposal to form a government of technocrats was turned down by the Hariri/Jumblatt/LF/Qornet Shehwan bloc. He believes that this government lineup enjoys the backing of more than 100 MPs.

It is apparent that Seniora means business here and is probably not sleeping. Let's see what Lahoud will say...Don't you just love the suspense?! (I'm being sarcastic here...)

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Thursday, July 14, 2005

...And The Confrontation Continues

I read the Friday headlines of the Lebanese press: Seniora's allies, Jumblatt and Qornet Shehwan, disagreed with Lahoud's decision to opt for a government made up of Technocrats, which led Hariri to succumb to their demands. They believe that our country needs right now at this historical juncture a government made up of a strong team.

Seniora will be meeting with Lahoud a couple of days later to submit yet another Ministerial lineup (not sure if either another national unity government or majority lineup) and if Lahoud yet again turns down the lineup, Seniora will consult with his allies and will either resign or wage a full confrontation with Lahoud.

There are talks (especially in Al-Mustaqbal's Thursday editorial) that stalling will continue until the UN investigative team uncovers its report which is about to be concluded....

More will be upcoming...

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."


Since Bashar inherited the presidency speculations have been rampant as to whether he is truly in full control of all his security services. In fact, it has become common place to hear US policymakers openly speculating on the issue. Dennis Ross’s recent interview with the Arab “Al Moushahid Al Seyyasi” magazine is a case in point.

The interview demonstrates to what extent the US is now incorporating the idea of Bashar’s limited power into its policymaking process. Ross recommends that US policy should be one of offering Bashar carrots for cooperation, while not discounting the real possibility that he might simply be unable to respond. He goes as far as suggesting that Bashar might even be replaced in coming years.

Dennis Ross’s assessment of the Syrian situation is not foreign to US officials. In fact, there already exists a special degree of interest in Assef Shawkat amongst many in US policy circles. The powerful head of Syrian military intelligence, and Bashar’s brother-in-law, has exhibited nothing but loyalty to his President thus far. Yet speculation is rife as to whether Shawkat (in particular) will change his ways if Bashar’s miscalculations continue to threaten regime survival.

The speculation amongst many observers of Syrian affairs is not unfounded. Several events in recent years cause one to question what is taking place amongst Syria’s security services. In April 2004, bomb trucks filled with tons of chemicals crossed the border from Syria to Jordan. In a country in which numerous security services reign supreme, such “lapses in security” were startling to say the least. Could trucks filled with tons of explosives have really crossed the Iraqi-Syrian border, traveled across the width of Syria, and then crossed into Jordan undetected?

The large scale operation to assassinate Hariri, along with attempts still unfolding in Lebanon, raises similar questions.

Interestingly enough, in his embarrassing meeting with Crown Prince Abdullah, (which the Saudies then leaked to hsi further embarresment) Bashar told Abdallah that he was not responsible for Hariri’s death. He suggested that the Chief of Internal Intelligence in the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate was the one responsible, and that all found responsible will be punished. Since then, the once powerful Bahjat Suleiman has been demoted and returned to the headquarters on General Intelligence.

Since the Baath Party Conference in June, and in what seems to be an attempt at consolidation of power, Syria has witnessed a major security shake up. If what many US officials believe is true, this is Bashar’s attempt at gaining full control of his security services. Whether he sees it through or not is a different matter. Clearly the US is hedging its bets….

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

An Ultimatum In The Works

Sources say that Seniora has drafted his resignation statement and folded it neatly next to his bed. He is heading tomorrow at 9:00AM to Baabda Palace to hear Lahoud's decision on his proposed Ministerial lineup. He knows that Lahoud will say "No" and so Seniora has another paper hidden somewhere safely in a secret pocket in his jacket, a proposal for a small government made up of Technocrats to help salvage our country.

Either this proposal or the resignation statement!

I cannot say that he did not try. Seniora did. He moved from a 24-member lineup to 30 in the hope that this move would erase some obstacles, only to find out that same night that more obstacles surfaced.

According to Assafir, sources from Seniora's close circle claimed the following in response to the Hizbullah/Amal's bloc reservations(literal translation): "Hizbullah/Amal's bloc have taken away from Aoun and Lahoud the most important portfolios in the government and we don't know what they need more, and we don't know why they are complaining about bringing in MP Ghazi Youssef (from FM) and their insistence on monopolozing the Shiite representation, especially that the Future Movement has left a Sunni seat for someone outside of the Movement, MP Mohammad Safadi."

The sources continued, "It's true that there is an electoral alliance between the Hariri bloc and Hizbullah/Amal grounded on a certain political basis, however their popular representation/mandate differs from ours, and we are not sure if our agreement will last or if the stands will change at a later stage depending on the issues that will be tabled in the government. Therefore, this pushes us to hold on to the 2/3 of the government without this necessarily meaning distrust." The sources also added that "there is no need to consult Berri prior to the formation of the government because this can be misconstrued as breaking with the division of powers."

Readers, this is very important information that Seniora's sources are claiming, which shapes the relationship between FM and Hizbullah/Amal.

As for Aoun's stands with regards to the lineup, MP Hariri, (again based on Assafir so I would not be accused of being biased), said, "It seems that there are some allies of Aoun who do not wish that Aoun cooperates with me and I cooperate with him."

Now Aoun yesterday said something that struck all of the Lebanese media today, which I only touched on in my previous post, namely his declaration that his bloc and Hizbullah/Amal's form the 2/3 of the country and they have the right (emphasis on "right") to have representation in the government based on the principle of 1/3 + 1 Minister (basically, to assume the majority).

This talk is indeed interesting. Then can someone tell me why did not Aoun and Hizbullah/Amal ally in the first place? Why did we have elections then? I thought the Hariri bloc assumed a popular majority? Where did that go? Granted that Aoun's bloc might feel that it was not consulted before increasing the number from 24 Ministers to 30, but when Aoun starts talking about that his bloc and HA/Amal's need to assume the majority, I believe we're truely in another story here.

Berri, on the other hand, has said across the phone lines from Algeria that he not only asks for six Shiites from the Hizbullah/Amal bloc to be represented, but to also add MP Samir Azar, a Maronite Berri-ally. Sadly enough, he was set to arrive to Lebanon today but decided to stop over Geneva for two days and return home on Friday (he can vacation and send his orders by phone!)

Meanwhile, the vacuum continues and in this vacuum terror reigns and blockades rule the day. And with the vacuum we're starting to see old political faces being resuscitated (the likes of Arslan and Franjieh) who might just have another chance at becoming Ministers if all fails tomorrow.

Perhaps Jumblatt was right when he said that 120 members of Parliament out of 126 voting in Seniora as the PM-elect was a "trap". A trap to get him in, so all could see how the Hariri bloc will fail once more, erasing with it the hopes of March 14.

Will Lahoud work with Seniora? Does he want him in the first place? Again, I ask, where is our Lebanon heading?....I don't want to see tomorrow.

UPDATE: Lahoud agreed to have a 24-member government made up of Technocrats formed. Naharnet reports that Seniora looked relieved as I believe this is what he wanted initially, namely picking those most qualified for the portfolios away from drowning in the sea of parochial politics and sectarianism.

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

We Asked Him To Let It Be: Aoun Wreaks Havoc

Aoun wreaks havoc! His bloc met today in Rabieh and announced their disapproval of Seniora's move to include 30 Ministers in his government lineup and his breaking the promises he made to them with regards to representation.

Aoun claimed that he asked for four representatives based on a 24-member government and if it has increased to 30, then he asks for five. Morever, he was given 4 representatives, two with Ministerial portfolios (Justice and Environment) and two State Ministers (without portfolios). Aoun is demanding all four (or five) to have portfolios.

When asked whether it is advisable to let go at this sensitive juncture of our history, he claimed that the majority is the entity that should provide concessions. He further added that in his mind he sees three major partners in the government: the Hizbullah/Amal bloc, his bloc, and Hariri's bloc. (He completely obliterated Qornet Shehwan/Lebanese Forces and Jumblatt's bloc.)

He believes that this move to increase the government members to 30 is based on distrust.

The majority, even before President Lahoud and the Maronite Archbishop Council put out their official statement, was pushing for a "National Unity" government to face the major contentious issues ahead of our country; hence Hariri's visit to Aoun a couple of weeks back. My question is: isn't the majority allowed to have at least one or two extra Ministers so it could facilitate moving forward its policies and initiatives? Isn't it a right, or not? Or do we want to go back to the olden days when initiatives were blocked by Lahoud's bloc and we did not achieve anything, except more negative economic growth and political backwardness?

Moreover, the confusion is arising from oscillating between talking about sectarian representation versus representation based on political backing. So, Seniora yesterday submitted a lineup of 10 Maronites, 10 Sunnis, 10 Shiites, 4 Orthodox, 3 Catholics, 3 Druze, and 2 Armenians (sectarian-wise, there is equitable representation). Further, there was an issue with finding a Shiite to assume the Foreign Minister position (it had to be a Shiite, HA/Amal said). The other issue was a Maronite represenation one, where when Aoun's bloc opted out of joining the government, talks were rampant about the absent and lacking Maronite reprentation in the government. Seniora brought back Aoun, gave him the Justice, and Hizbullah got a Shiite in the Foreign Ministry.

But then over this sectarian layer, you have a political backing layer, like when Aoun demands 5 of the Ministers to be from his bloc, or when Hizbullah/Amal are upset that the sixth Shiite representative is not from their bloc, but from the Future's. Seniora moves from one set of obstacles to another.

Now in your mind, you think Lahoud will say "YES!"? Of course not!

Is Seniora that off-course? I've never been an avid supporter of Seniora, but what I've seen from him the past 12 days since he was voted in as the Prime Minister-elect is a person who is working diligently and positively to overcome the obstacles.

Will Seniora make it? Will Lebanon make it? That is the question.

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Murr's murder attempt plotted at Ain El Helweh Palestinian camp

For those whose Arabic is weak... an English summary..

Murr's murder attempt plotted at Ain El Helweh Palestinian camp

The assassination attempt that targeted Lebanon's Defense Minister Elias Murr was plotted by a Palestinian and a Syrian Kurd at Sidon's refugee camp of Ein El-Hilweh, the local media said Wednesday, splashing, too, a personal assertion Murr made from his hospital bed that he holds Lebanon's State Security apparatus responsible for "any security action endangering me."

"I had information since March of an attempt being hatched on my life," Murr told Beirut's Future-TV network in an interview recorded at Serhal hospital shortly after he came out from a 4-hour surgery to treat wounds he suffered from a car-bomb assassination attempt Tuesday.

"I had to send a letter a week ago from now to the military prosecution department telling of the information I had received by chance, which was possessed by the State Security apparatus. I held this apparatus responsible for security action that puts me in danger," Murr said in a steady voice.

Future-TV's specialized researcher Fares Khashan produced late night Tuesday an 'intelligence document' from Lebanon's State Security apparatus containing accurate information about meetings held in Ein El Hilweh in which Palestinian and Syrian conferees debated plans to assassinate Murr.

The document, attributed to a "very reliable source" by the State Security apparatus spoke of assassination-connected meetings held at the Ein El Hilweh house of Abu Hammam, a Palestinian, in the presence of a former Kurdish Syrian army soldier identified only by his first name of Jassem.

"The conspirators used an enlarged map of the Mt. Lebanon region and underlined the road to Murr's house where a car-bomb will be planted for the assassination," the Khashan document said.

It asserted that Abu Hammam and Jassem smuggled high-powered C-4 explosives, the type used in Rafik Hariri's assassination, from Jordan via Syria a week before he was murdered Feb. 14.

Khashan said Murr had passed to him the document of the State Security apparatus and asked him to release it "only if and when I am targeted by assassins." Murr gave Khashan the document during a dinner in March attended by Marwan Hamadeh and other political figures, Khashan said.

Chief U.N. investigator into Hariri's murder, Detlev Mehlis, recently asked Syria, Jordan and Israel for information on the movements of certain persons and the customs records of certain shipments. The dramatic revelations Tuesday suggest Mehlis may be tracking down Abu Hammam and Jassem along with the way they used to smuggle the C-4 explosives to Lebanon. (Naharnet)