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« Reply #210 on: July 19, 2006, 09:54:00 PM »

Israel Says It Destroyed Half of Hezbollah's Power
   
More than 60 people died in the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah Wednesday, many of them civilians. Analysts discuss whether Israeli forces can eliminate Hezbollah's military capabilities.
Israeli forces
              
JUDY WOODRUFF, NewsHour Special Correspondent: What kind of damage can the high-tech Israeli armed forces inflict on a guerilla group armed with thousands of rockets, and before the United States and other big powers push hard for a cease-fire?

Two views on that now from Michael Herzog, a brigadier general in the Israeli Defense Forces. He's in the United States as a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

And Augusta Richard Norton, he's on the faculty of Boston University, specializing in Lebanese and Arab issues. He's a retired U.S. Army colonel. He previously served on the faculty at West Point.

Professor Norton, let me begin with you. Let's first establish what it is exactly that Hezbollah has in the way of manpower and an arsenal, weaponry. We're not talking about your ordinary guerilla group here, are we?

RICHARD AUGUSTUS NORTON, Retired U.S. Army Colonel: No, we're not, Judy. We're talking about a group that has a broad base in Lebanese society, particularly in the Shiite community, which makes up about 40 percent of Lebanon's population.

It's instructive when you look back at the resistance campaign that Hezbollah fought against the Israeli occupation, which lasted from 1978 until the year 2000 when Israel finally gave up and withdrew. That campaign was fought by a relatively small cadre of about 450, 500 people.

And it was supplemented by effectively a reserve system. People would close down their mechanical shop or their optometry clinic or whatever and go on missions. So this is an organization that can expand like an accordion, in terms of manpower.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So there's no hardcore number of fighters you could give us?

RICHARD AUGUSTUS NORTON: Well, there's one estimate that I've seen around that now talks about 800 to 1,000 really hardcore cadre. At the moment, of course, the number would be much larger, in terms of the numbers that are mobilized.

But we're not talking here about something that resembles an army. It has a very different appearance. They do have a significant arsenal, as it's been widely reported, in terms of the Katyushas and other rockets. They've used very sophisticated remote-controlled devices for ambushes and that sort of thing against Israeli soldiers.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask General Herzog whether the description you just heard from Professor Norton matches your understanding of what Hezbollah has?

MICHAEL HERZOG, Brigadier General, Israeli Defense Forces: I would expand the description. I would say that what characterizes the military forces of Hezbollah is that they go far beyond that of a militia or a terror group.

We are talking about an organization holding more than 13,000 rockets, including long-range rockets with a range of over 120 miles. These are Zilzal rockets provided by Iran, medium-range rockets.

They have unmanned aerial vehicle drones. They've flown them over Israel in the past. They fired the other day a very sophisticated, radar-guided missile that hit one of our missile boats. I think very few militaries in the world have these capabilities.

In addition, of course, Hezbollah wields a global terror reach. Let us not forget that they were behind the targeting of the Marines in Beirut in '83. They destroyed our embassy in Buenos Aires in '92. So it goes beyond just being a resistance, of course.

Israel Says It Destroyed Half of Hezbollah's Power
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« Reply #211 on: July 19, 2006, 09:55:37 PM »

Nasrallah's Shi'ite error
By Zvi Bar'el

Hassan Nasrallah, who last weekend became an underground leader and in so doing recalled a former secretary general of Hezbollah, Subhi al-Tufeili, once again brushed up on his formal Arabic. This time he addressed opposition at home: an Arab and Lebanese home, but a Muslim home no less. His arguments against the Arab states are no different than those heard from Arab publicists, such as the editor of Al-Quds newspaper, Abd al-Bari Atouan, whose throat parched last Friday after a relentless attack on mute Arab leaders.

The important thing perhaps in Nasrallah's speech last Friday, and the major error in it, was the statement that the Lebanese opposition and the current struggle were a strong Shi'ite show of strength. In the paragraph directed at Israel, he said, "You have no idea against whom you are fighting. You are fighting against the sons of Mohammed and Ali and Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein and the household and friends of the prophet Mohammed. You are fighting a nation that keeps its faith, in a way that no man on earth keeps his faith." Ali and his sons Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein are the fathers of the Shi'ite faction of Islam. The phrase "household" was adopted by Shi'ites to refer to the dynasty of Imams that came after Ali.

Such phrases have huge political significance in Lebanon, since Nasrallah did not even mention the Christians, whom he considers a cowardly people who regularly criticize "the opposition." Sunni and Druze Muslims also could not have been overly pleased with Nasrallah's "unity speech" since it was more divisive than unifying.

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Nasrallah indeed chose to emphasize the Shi'ite nature of the struggle, despite knowing that he does not represent even all of the Shi'ites. Although there is an agreement between him and Nabih Beri, the chairman of the Amal movement and the speaker of the Lebanese parliament, and usually also cooperation, there is a large community of Shi'ites in Lebanon - secular Shi'ites, businessmen and even religious people - who do not agree with Nasrallah.

The choice to emphasize the Shi'ite element, and the fact that this is a battle waged by a devout segment of the public, is intended as a hint to the Shi'ites in Iraq. More importantly, however, it flaunts the ethnic sword in Lebanon. In his comments, which caused a chill in many Lebanese Christians, Nasrallah marked out the line of loyalty to the state: Shi'ites are faithful, all the rest are in varying levels of loyalty. That is exactly the formula that threatens the delicate and fragile fabric achieved in Lebanon after the Taif Agreement in 1989, which Lebanon has yet to recover from.

Does this wording indicate that already, at this stage, Nasrallah is feeling threatened? Not according to the rhetoric he used. He spoke like a leader who did not need to mention the president of Lebanon, the prime minister or anyone else. He simply ignored them. He did not search for consensus, other than his request that the Lebanese rally around the memory of the victory over Israel six years ago, a victory that he, of course, attributes to Hezbollah and to himself.

The business of war

Charles Helou was prime minister of Lebanon from 1964-1970. He is recalled, in Lebanese memory, as the man who was forced, following Lebanese public pressure, to sign the 1969 Cairo Agreement, which granted the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) the right to operate against Israel from Lebanon. Helou was another Lebanese prime minister compelled by circumstances to involve his country in the Israeli-Arab conflict. Today there is a monument "memorializing" Charles Helou at a Beirut-Damascus line taxi stand, which was named after him. According to reports from Lebanon, this stand is the only one that continues to operate regularly and still transports people from areas of fighting to Syria. It operates regularly, but it is astronomically expensive. This "season," which started last Wednesday and has gone on for a week now, is the season of taxi drivers. Whoever is not making money off tourists, is making money by driving passengers to Syria.

The prices are sky-high. Lebanese media reports indicate that the standard fare the Al-Helou stand charges for the trip from Beirut to Damascus is around $70, but today it costs $750-1,000 per person. Shared taxis charge around $400. The reason for the high cost is the great danger in the border area, in particular. This danger is, to a large extent, a fabrication, because the border area is not under attack, but panic does the job and whoever can exploit it does not hesitate to do so. Those who suffer are mainly Arab and Western tourists who are not familiar with the regular prices and are incapable of bargaining.

Another phenomenon that has surfaced is the war mafia. In Lebanon there are reports of thousands of Syrian workers and Lebanese citizens who are making their way on regular buses from Lebanon to the border post. The cost of this journey is the same as it used to be, but when passengers arrive at the border post, they cannot reach the customs terminal in the bus because of the crowds. They have to get off the bus and walk about a kilometer. This is "the kilometer of the mafia," which has already set up shop at border stations and charges a fee for everything.

This mafia caused the price of mineral water to soar to over two dollars a bottle (which normally sells for less than 30 cents.) The prices of sandwiches and candies at the border are pretty much the same as those at five-star hotels, and the latest businesses earning mafia money are the currency exchanges: Exchanging Lebanese liras at the border crossing for Syrian liras now costs around 30 percent more than it used to.

The Syrians are also not stupid: Reports from Syria indicate that hotel owners, like their colleagues in Eilat, have raised the prices of accommodations in Damascus from an average of $75 a night to around $250 a night. In the cities themselves - the parts of Beirut that are not being bombed, in the completely quiet Chouf Mountains and in the northern cities of Juniyeh and even Tripoli - business owners are making profits. After thousands of rooms were vacated in the small hotels in Beirut's luxury neighborhoods, the hotels started taking in refugees from stricken neighborhoods and villages in the south, all for an appropriate price.

A room in a small hotel now costs around $300 a week. An apartment that once was not fit to be lived in is now going for around $750 or a month. As opposed to the wealthy, there are thousands of families that cannot afford to pay for such temporary quarters and must gather instead in schools. The municipalities provide basic food and drinking water to these places, but there is no way of setting up toilets and showers there.

One of the problems with the temporary shelters is the political squabbles among the visitors, between those who think it was not right to destroy Lebanon for Samir Kuntar and those who think they should stand strong. When it comes to being a refugee, there is no distinction between Druze, Shi'ites, Sunnis or Christians, but these distinctions are heightened in the shelters and there have already been reports of blows exchanged by members of different ethnic groups due to political differences.

Gad Elmaleh's cancelled play

The question now is: Who will refund the price of tickets purchased for Gad Elmaleh's one-man show? He was supposed to perform at the Byblos Festival in Lebanon this coming Saturday and because the tickets sold out so quickly, a second show was even added. The prices are not cheap: $65 per ticket on average. The show is called "The Other is I" and Elmaleh plays a blond boy who easily gets through life's travails, actually a suitable play to put on in Beirut in these difficult times.

However, "due to the security situation" the show was cancelled, as was the dance performance at the Albert Academy, the Latin Dance party at the Kakur Club, the production "The Big Liar" at the Chateau Trianon and even the popular performance of "Women's Discourse" being presented by the Monroe Theater in Beirut.

But, undoubtedly, the cancellation of Elmaleh's show is the most important matter, because the 35-year-old comedian - a native of Morocco who has embarked on a grand career in France - is Jewish. Prior to the attack, in Beirut, they had already started wondering whether audiences there would allow the Jewish performer to appear. Wouldn't they boycott him? Would they laugh at his jokes? Now, at least in the meantime, this dilemma is no longer an issue.

Nasrallah's Shi'ite error
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« Reply #212 on: July 19, 2006, 09:57:07 PM »

 Senator Holding Up Pro-Israel Resolution
12:53 Jul 19, '06 / 23 Tammuz 5766

(IsraelNN.com) United States senators have proposed a resolution supporting the Israeli retaliation against the Hizbullah terrorist war effort, but a key lawmaker is holding it up because the Senate must consider “the suffering that is taking place on all borders."

Sen. John Warner, A Virginia Republican, wants to revise a paragraph that urges American President George W. Bush "to continue fully supporting Israel as Israel exercises its right of self-defense in Lebanon and Gaza." He said the Senate also must consider how Israel's "extraordinary reaction" might affect the American war in Iraq.

Senator Holding Up Pro-Israel Resolution
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« Reply #213 on: July 19, 2006, 09:58:43 PM »

 Gunfire Directed into Psagot
03:54 Jul 20, '06 / 24 Tammuz 5766

(IsraelNN.com) Palestinian Authority (PA) residents taking part in a wedding feast on Wednesday night fired into the community of Psagot, located in the Benjamin Regional Council district of Samaria. No injuries were reported.

Gunfire Directed into Psagot
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« Reply #214 on: July 19, 2006, 10:02:06 PM »

Hundreds Of Jews Are Relocating To Israel
Jewish Families Move To Israel Despite The War
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Tanya Rivero
Reporting

(CBS) NEW YORK Queens natives Risa and Baruch Grajower and their four young children...are leaving behind their house, their jobs, and family to start a new life in Israel. Risa says the move is the culmination of a dream born over a decade ago, when she visited Israel for the first time. But with missiles and rockets flying back and forth over Israel’s borders, isn't Grajower worried for her family's safety?

Risa Grajower says, "I feel like the Israeli government is doing what they can to protect people, I've always felt they do a lot to protect people, and I trust, I trust in the government, I feel safe there, I feel safer than here."

The Grajowers are among the roughly 200 Jews from our area who boarded a one-way El-AL flight. With the help of Nefesh B'Nefesh, an organization that has helped relocate more than 7,000 North American Jews.
Arye Mekel, the Ambassador, Consul General of Israel, was there to see the immigrants off:
"Moses had to walk with the Israelites from Egypt, fortunately we have EL AL today, and they don't have to walk, they can fly."

Many of those leaving for Israel today say they made the decision to relocate months, if not years, ago--and they say in light of the recent crisis there, what was once a personal decision...has now become a political one.

Beth and Jehudan Saar, say "For every threat that's coming against the state of Israel, a family gets up and makes a statement, by moving to Israel to live there."

Hundreds Of Jews Are Relocating To Israel
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« Reply #215 on: July 19, 2006, 10:04:33 PM »

In break with Bush, Iraqi PM denounces Israeli attacks on Lebanon

RAW STORY
Published: Wednesday July 19, 2006


"Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq on Wednesday forcefully denounced the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, marking a sharp break with President Bush's position and highlighting the growing power of a Shiite Muslim identity across the Middle East," reports The New York Times on Wednesday.

"The Israeli attacks and airstrikes are completely destroying Lebanon's infrastructure," Mr. Maliki said at an afternoon news conference inside the fortified Green Zone, which houses the American embassy and the seat of the Iraqi government. "I condemn these aggressions and call on the Arab League foreign ministers' meeting in Cairo to take quick action to stop these aggressions. We call on the world to take quick stands to stop the Israeli aggression."

The American Embassy did not answer a reporter's request for a response.

The comments by Mr. Maliki, a Shiite Arab whose party has close ties to Iran, were noticeably stronger than those made by Sunni Arab governments in recent days. Those governments have refused to take an unequivocal stand on Lebanon, reflecting their concern about the growing influence of Iran, which has a Shiite majority and has been accused by Israel of providing weapons to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group.

The ambivalence of those governments has angered many Sunni Arabs in those countries, despite the centuries of enmity between the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam.

In break with Bush, Iraqi PM denounces Israeli attacks on Lebanon
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« Reply #216 on: July 19, 2006, 10:10:10 PM »

Hizbollah leader ‘trapped’
IAN BRUCE, Defence Correspondent    July 20 2006
SHEIKH Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbollah's leader, is trapped in an underground command bunker at Dahiya, a southern suburb of Beirut, and was the target of heavy bombing last night, Israeli intelligence sources claimed yesterday.
A military source said dozens of aircraft took part in the operation sometime before midnight, dropping 23 tonnes of explosives on the bunker.
The radical cleric "has not seen the light of day for a week", as Israeli F16 jets cratered roads and bombed bridges to isolate him and members of his ruling council in the area controlled by his terrorist militiamen.
A dedicated strike squadron, the 101st, has been assigned the task of destroying Dahiya and has also been dropping US-made "bunker-buster" bombs to smash Hizbollah bunkers, underground bomb-making factories and weapons' caches.
An Israeli army intelligence officer said: "Nasrallah took to his bunker as soon as we started bombing. He hasn't seen the light of day since."
Nasrallah, who was a co-founder of Hizbollah, has not been seen in public since the Israelis retaliated for the murder of eight of their soldiers and the kidnap of two others.
The Israeli Ministry of Defence estimated yesterday that the constant pounding and precision air-strikes had eliminated up to 50% of Hizbollah's military capability.

Hizbollah leader ‘trapped’
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« Reply #217 on: July 19, 2006, 10:12:02 PM »

 Hizbollah's rockets have Arabs and Israelis in their sights
By Donald Macintyre in Nazareth
Published: 20 July 2006

Rabbia Taluzi, three, and Mahmoud Taluzi, seven, were playing in a street in the crowded heart of Nazareth yesterday afternoon when the Katyusha came out of clear blue sky and killed them. The two boys became the first Israeli Arabs to die in this eight-day war when four Hizbollah rockets - which now seem to make no distinction between Jewish and Arab victims in northern Israel - hurtled into the densely populated hill town where Jesus grew up.

In this asymmetrical war, the Israeli death toll is only a very small fraction of the one over the border. But it is slowly rising. Rabbia and Mahmoud were the 14th and 15th Israeli civilians to die in the past week, killed by the shrapnel that flew more than 30 feet from where last night the crater ­ perhaps three and half feet by three ­ and the smashed window frames of the adjacent houses testified to the force of the blast. In the yard behind one of them, dozens of children from the same extended family had been playing as the adults enjoyed a reunion with the children's grandmother inside the house. Several were among the 18 injured taken to three Nazareth hospitals. Last night Koranic verses of lamentation were recited through a loudspeaker from the mosque close to where the boys died.

As the sun set over the melancholy scene, a tense and emotional crowd gathered, their shock that Hizbollah would hit an Arab town compounded by anger at the lack of public ­ or private ­ shelters, warning sirens or clear advice in Arabic from the government.

Tarek Salah, 37, the owner of the house where the reunion was taking place, said: "I was sitting in my living room. The kids were playing in the back yard. I heard a huge explosion and went straight out through the front. When I came out I saw two kids lying on the ground. At first I thought they were my kids because they were burnt and I couldn't recognise them." Mr Salah, one of whose sons was lightly injured by the blast, said that the children were actually neighbours from a house about 50 metres away " but they often play here". He added: "We need to live in peace. Both sides need to live in peace. My sons are important; their sons [in Lebanon] are important."

As some residents displayed ball bearings and fragments of shrapnel spread all over the area from the rocket ­ including behind the house, which had protected most of the children from the blast ­ one of Mr Salah's neighbours, Mohammed Razeq, 50, said: "We want all the countries to stop the war. We are here without shelters. We have no place to put the kids. The Home Front [command of the army] have not given us any instructions about what to do with our kids. We do not want war. We want to live together. My son could be killed; your son could be killed. And for what?" Another neighbour, Abdul Khaliq Said, 54, said: "I feel very bad. It's a matter of chance. It could be anybody." Most of those in the crowd were unwilling to apportion blame for the war, but Mr Said said of the attack: "As a human being I am angry. Of course I am angry. But I am an Israeli citizen. What can I do?" Of the damage caused by the rocket and another which fell on a ­ fortunately empty ­ Mazda car showroom nearby, Mr Said said: "The property we can recover. The kids we can't get back."

The majority of civilian victims in Israel have been Jewish. The most recent before last night's deaths of the two children was a man in Nahariya who had simply left the town centre's main public shelter for a few moments to fetch a towel for his daughter.

But the Israeli Arab Knesset member Taleb al-Sanaa said last night after the explosions in Nazareth that because of discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel there were no sirens or shelters in Arab areas.

Ha'aretz reported that the military's Home Front had acknowledged that instructions on what to do in the event of Katyusha attacks had not yet been translated into Arabic.

Rabbia Taluzi, three, and Mahmoud Taluzi, seven, were playing in a street in the crowded heart of Nazareth yesterday afternoon when the Katyusha came out of clear blue sky and killed them. The two boys became the first Israeli Arabs to die in this eight-day war when four Hizbollah rockets - which now seem to make no distinction between Jewish and Arab victims in northern Israel - hurtled into the densely populated hill town where Jesus grew up.

In this asymmetrical war, the Israeli death toll is only a very small fraction of the one over the border. But it is slowly rising. Rabbia and Mahmoud were the 14th and 15th Israeli civilians to die in the past week, killed by the shrapnel that flew more than 30 feet from where last night the crater ­ perhaps three and half feet by three ­ and the smashed window frames of the adjacent houses testified to the force of the blast. In the yard behind one of them, dozens of children from the same extended family had been playing as the adults enjoyed a reunion with the children's grandmother inside the house. Several were among the 18 injured taken to three Nazareth hospitals. Last night Koranic verses of lamentation were recited through a loudspeaker from the mosque close to where the boys died.

As the sun set over the melancholy scene, a tense and emotional crowd gathered, their shock that Hizbollah would hit an Arab town compounded by anger at the lack of public ­ or private ­ shelters, warning sirens or clear advice in Arabic from the government.

Tarek Salah, 37, the owner of the house where the reunion was taking place, said: "I was sitting in my living room. The kids were playing in the back yard. I heard a huge explosion and went straight out through the front. When I came out I saw two kids lying on the ground. At first I thought they were my kids because they were burnt and I couldn't recognise them." Mr Salah, one of whose sons was lightly injured by the blast, said that the children were actually neighbours from a house about 50 metres away " but they often play here". He added: "We need to live in peace. Both sides need to live in peace. My sons are important; their sons [in Lebanon] are important."

 As some residents displayed ball bearings and fragments of shrapnel spread all over the area from the rocket ­ including behind the house, which had protected most of the children from the blast ­ one of Mr Salah's neighbours, Mohammed Razeq, 50, said: "We want all the countries to stop the war. We are here without shelters. We have no place to put the kids. The Home Front [command of the army] have not given us any instructions about what to do with our kids. We do not want war. We want to live together. My son could be killed; your son could be killed. And for what?" Another neighbour, Abdul Khaliq Said, 54, said: "I feel very bad. It's a matter of chance. It could be anybody." Most of those in the crowd were unwilling to apportion blame for the war, but Mr Said said of the attack: "As a human being I am angry. Of course I am angry. But I am an Israeli citizen. What can I do?" Of the damage caused by the rocket and another which fell on a ­ fortunately empty ­ Mazda car showroom nearby, Mr Said said: "The property we can recover. The kids we can't get back."

The majority of civilian victims in Israel have been Jewish. The most recent before last night's deaths of the two children was a man in Nahariya who had simply left the town centre's main public shelter for a few moments to fetch a towel for his daughter.

But the Israeli Arab Knesset member Taleb al-Sanaa said last night after the explosions in Nazareth that because of discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel there were no sirens or shelters in Arab areas.

Ha'aretz reported that the military's Home Front had acknowledged that instructions on what to do in the event of Katyusha attacks had not yet been translated into Arabic.

Hizbollah's rockets have Arabs and Israelis in their sights
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« Reply #218 on: July 19, 2006, 10:16:12 PM »

Lebanon must act to disarm Hizbollah

By Martin Stern

Published: July 20 2006 03:00 | Last updated: July 20 2006 03:00

From Mr Martin D. Stern.

Sir, Metin Mitchell (Letter, July 18) expresses "complete, and unreserved, condemnation of Israel's present attack on Lebanon" and states that "no rational mind can defend its wholesale and systematic destruction of Lebanon".

While I agree with him that Israel should "pursue Hizbollah and its sponsors, wherever they may be", I think its actions, by and large, have been precisely that. The destruction of Lebanon's communications network is clearly designed to prevent further armaments from reaching Hizbollah from its sponsors in Damascus and Tehran.

Any buildings bombed by the Israeli air force have been identified by intelligence as Hizbollah command posts or arms stores, surely legitimate military targets. While sometimes this intelligence may have been faulty, any civilian casualties result from Hizbollah's practice of locating them in civilian residential areas, in blatant contravention of the Geneva convention.

Mr Mitchell claims the reasoning behind Israel's actions in Lebanon would have justified Great Britain bombing Dublin and the Republic of Ireland in the pursuit of the IRA. This is a totally false analogy, since the Irish Republic never supported the IRA and co-operated with the UK in border control, unlike the government of Lebanon, which effectively gave Hizbollah freedom to act as it pleased in the areas bordering Israel.

The sooner Lebanon acts to disarm Hizbollah as required by UN Security Council resolution 1559 (2004), the sooner will its citizens be able to carry on their lives in peace and security.

Lebanon must act to disarm Hizbollah
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« Reply #219 on: July 19, 2006, 10:19:33 PM »

Iran 'may use weapon if Syria is attacked'
Posted: Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dubai

Iran could threaten to use its oil weapon if Syria gets drawn into the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas but Arab producers will not withhold their crude exports to exert pressure, analysts said.

"The only oil that could disappear from the market if this crisis develops is Iranian oil," said Mustafa Alani of the Gulf Research Council in Dubai.

"If there is an attack on Syria and if Iran is connected to this attack, militarily or politically, they could decide to stop oil exports for a few days," Alani said.

Tehran has threatened to use its oil exports as a weapon to defend itself in its standoff with the West over Iran's nuclear programme. Iran could face economic sanctions over Western suspicions it is seeking nuclear arms, a charge it denies.

Alani said any use of Iran's oil weapon now would be brief.

"It would be a token interruption and not a sustainable one, just to really undermine the psychology of oil markets and to show the Iranian muscle if the question of the nuclear issue begins to be under pressure in the future," he added.

Iran, Opec's second biggest producer, supplies the world with more than 2.4 million barrels per day, making it the fourth biggest exporter.

Traders say a loss of this amount would be hard to replace as, except for about 2 million bpd of spare crude oil capacity in top exporter Saudi Arabia, Opec is pumping flat out.

Syria and Iran are the main backers of Hizbollah, whose capture of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid sparked attacks on Lebanon.

The worsening conflict helped to send oil prices to record highs over $78 a barrel last week as traders feared the violence could spread across the oil-producing region. Oil held firm above $76 on Tuesday.

Another source of worry for markets is Iran's commanding position on the Strait of Hormuz, a channel at the mouth of the Gulf that is a conduit for roughly two-fifths of globally traded oil.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned last month that oil exports in the Gulf region could be seriously endangered if Washington made a wrong move over his country.

Oil-exporting Gulf Arab states then adopted a contingency plan in case of a blockage of shipping through the mouths of the Gulf and the Red Sea.

Saudi Arabia and other US-allied Gulf members of Opec have made clear in the past that they do not intend to repeat the 1973 Arab oil embargo, which wreaked economic chaos on the industrialised world.

Iran 'may use weapon if Syria is attacked'
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« Reply #220 on: July 19, 2006, 10:25:30 PM »

 Rafsanjani to lead this week's Friday prayers congregation
Tehran, July 19, IRNA

Iran-Prayers-Rafsanjani
Iran's former president and Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani will lead this week's Friday prayers congregation at Tehran University campus.

According to the Friday Prayers Headquarters, Hojatoleslam Akhtari and Abolhassan Faqih, head of the State Welfare Organization, will be the pre-sermon lecturers.

Message of Lebanese Hizbollah will also be read out at this week's Friday prayers congregation.

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« Reply #221 on: July 19, 2006, 10:26:57 PM »

 UK Archbishop condemns Israel's destruction of Lebanon
London, July 19, IRNA

UK Archbishop-Lebanon Invasion
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams Wednesday unequivocally condemned Israel's continuing bombardments of the Lebanese people and civilian infrastructure.

"The distress felt at the destruction not only of life but also the infrastructure so painstakingly rebuilt after years of conflict will, I know, be acute and reinforce the sense of helplessness at being caught up in a wider regional struggle," the archbishop said.

"My condemnation of this resort to violence is unequivocal," he said in a statement issued to the heads of Churches in the Lebanon.

The spiritual leader of the Church of England said he was "alarmed at the spiral of violence, the vicious circle of attack and retaliation, that has developed over the last few days."
"As thousands of foreign passport-holders are evacuated from Beirut, I am only too conscious of the plight of those, from all communities, who have no place of refuge from the violence that has been unleashed," he said.

The archbishop said "it pains us all greatly to see again the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East fleeing the land where they have borne witness for two millennia and to contemplate the hardships that will be faced by those who stay."

UK Archbishop condemns Israel's destruction of Lebanon
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« Reply #222 on: July 19, 2006, 10:29:42 PM »

 Speaker urges Muslim states to support Palestinians, Lebanese
Tehran, July 19, IRNA

Iran-Palestine-Haddad-Adel
Majlis Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel on Wednesday called on the powerful Muslim states such as Iran and Saudi Arabia not to leave the Palestinian and Lebanese nations alone under present conditions.

"Under present circumstances, the Muslim nations of the world expect their governments not to adopt stances which might encourage Zionists to continue aggression and massacre," said Haddad-Adel in a meeting with Saudi Ambassador to Tehran Ossama bin Ahmed al-Sonusi here on Wednesday.

He also criticized certain Muslim states for their indifference towards Zionists' savage attacks on Lebanon and Palestine and their merciless massacre of the defenseless Lebanese and Palestinian people.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Haddad-Adel hoped that the battle between Zionists and the Muslim Lebanese and Palestinian nations would eventually be in favor of Islam and Muslims thanks to bravery of Muslim combatants and vigilance of Muslim states.

He said expansion of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia would favor both their nations and the world of Islam.

He said Iran is ready to cooperate with other Muslim states to forge further unity and solidarity in the world of Islam.

The Saudi diplomat for his part expressed regret over Zionist atrocities and said the only solution remaining for the world of Islam under present conditions is unity.

Haddad-Adel also invited his Saudi counterpart to pay an official visit to Iran.

Speaker urges Muslim states to support Palestinians, Lebanese
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« Reply #223 on: July 19, 2006, 10:31:17 PM »

 Iran, Iraq sign cooperation protocol
Baghdad, July 19, IRNA

Iran-Cooperation-Iraq
A cooperation protocol was signed between Iran and Iraq at the Iranian embassy building in Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Wednesday.

Iran's commercial attache in Baghdad, Jonali Halvaei, and deputy head of Iraq-US Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Majed Michel, inked the document on behalf of Iran and Iraq respectively.

The protocol was signed to facilitate issue of trade visas for Iraqi businessmen planning to visit Iran, exchange of trade delegations between Iran and Iraq and their participation in the exhibitions held in either country.

At the meeting, where the document was inked, the Iraqi official said that the signed protocol is a primary measure for expansion of mutual trade and industrial relations and further joint investments in Iran and Iraq.

He said that Iraq-US Chamber of Commerce and Industries is the country's most active chamber in trade, industrial and investment fields.

"The chamber was founded in Los Angeles, US, by the Iraqi tradesmen residing in the US in 2003. At present, the chamber has more than 7,000 members," he added.

Iran's commercial attache to Baghdad said that the signed document is significant to Iran's public sector, adding that it is highly important to Iran's private sector, in particular members willing to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq.

Halvaei said, "From now on Iranian tradesmen and investors can access updated trade and investment laws and regulations in Iraq." Turning to a one-billion-dollar credit allocated by Iranian government to investment in Iraq, he said that this protocol will enable Iran to have a more active role in the reconstruction of Iraq.

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« Reply #224 on: July 20, 2006, 12:48:27 AM »

 US Buys Israel Time in Lebanon

CAIRO — The US and Israel have reached a common understanding to buy Israel more time to pursue its blistering strikes against Lebanon before Washington eventually steps in to help impose a buffer zone in southern Lebanon, a leading American daily reported on Wednesday, July 19.

"Some people are uncomfortable with the American position, and we’re very careful how we talk about it," a senior American official told the New York Times on condition of anonymity.

The daily said Israel had told the Bush administration it needed more time before US Secretary of State should interfere in the conflict.

"The Bush administration has, for the time being, gone along with an Israeli request for more latitude," it added.

The delayed intervention is meant to give the Israeli military juggernaut ample chance to emasculate Hizbullah.

American and Israeli officials are also contemplating a 12-mile buffer zone in southern Lebanon to keep Hizbullah way from the Israeli border.

News of the -Israeli consensus came after whole seven days during which Israeli warplanes pounded most Lebanese institutions and homes to rubble, forcing thousands of Lebanese to flee their country.

Millions of Lebanese are suffering on the dunes of Beirut and the muck of southern Lebanon under the unrelenting and shambolic strikes that have claimed the lives of more than 300 people, the sweeping majority of whom are civilians, and wounded hundreds others.

The onslaught has also left Lebanon virtually cut off from the outside world with an Israeli air and sea blockade.

Praying

Rice and her Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Abul Gheit publicly disagreed during a brief press conference Tuesday on the timing of a proposed ceasefire between Israel and Hizbullah.

"It is imperative. We have to bring it to an end as soon as possible," the Egyptian guest told reporters when asked about a possible ceasefire.

Rice immediately made the administration's position clear.

She said a ceasefire was only advisable once the root cause of the fighting – Hizbullah, in the US view, was addressed.

Rice stressed that diplomacy aimed at ending the crisis should be targeted at action "that is going to be of lasting value."

"The Middle East has been through too many spasms of violence, and we have to deal with underlying conditions so that we can create sustainable conditions for political progress there."

Rice declined to set a date for her proposed mission to the Middle East.

"When it is appropriate and when it is necessary and will be helpful to the situation, I am more than pleased to go to the region."

Rice told Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, head of the Maronite Catholic church in Lebanon, Tuesday that Americans were praying for Lebanese civilians amid their conflict with Israel.

"We are, of course, working very hard to minimize the impact of the current conflict on the Lebanese people," she said.

"And I want you to know that we're not only working very hard, but we're also praying for the people of Lebanon."

Arab and American Muslims have slammed the Bush administration for sufficing to look on the bloodshed in Lebanon by Israel's military arsenal and pursuing an unbalanced foreign policy.

Joined by peace activists and anti-Zionism Jews, thousands of Americans of Lebanese background took to the streets of several major US cities to protest the Israeli onslaught and the administration's apathy.

US Buys Israel Time in Lebanon
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