Saturday, December 1, 2007

Report: Turkish forces in Northern Iraq

[Mewnews December 1] According to Israel radio at 16:20 hours local time, Turkish forces are operating in Northern Iraq against the Kurdish PKK resistance. It is not clear from the first report if this is a broad invasion or limited and focused operations.


New Free Opinion from Charles Jalkh/Freedom Fighter on the LCCC/For publication

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, December 01, 2007 4:53 PM
Subject: New Free Opinion from Charles Jalkh/Freedom Fighter on the LCCC/For publication


Yours truly
Elias Bejjani/LCCC Chairman

New Free OPinion From Charles JalkhlFreedom Fighter
No Honor, Sacrifice, or Loyalty in General Michel Sleiman candidacy. By: Charles Jalkh (Freedom Fighter).December 01/07

No Honor, Sacrifice, or Loyalty in General Michel Sleiman candidacy
By: Charles Jalkh (Freedom Fighter)
December 01/07
In an article published today (11/30/2007 view article) by the Daily French newspaper "Le Figaro", the Lebanese Army commander, general "Michel Sleiman" is reported to have falsely obtained a French Passport in 2004 in order to flee the country as the Syrian occupation was collapsing. 

"A wrong note in the background of Michel Sleiman: his fraudulent acquisition of a French passport in 2004, when the Syrian presence in Lebanon started to become uncertain. He badly explained himself, then returned the travel document to the French diplomats in Beirut." Le Figaro. 

This is not the only "wrong note" committed by yet this other general. His entire career has been on the opposite path of Free Lebanon. First and foremost, he has been the appointee of the Syrian occupation and regularly reported to the Syrian Intelligence Chief in Anjar. He passively watched for years as the occupation puppet regime oppressed the Lebanese. Thousands were arrested, beaten, kidnapped, jailed, and tortured under his watch. He kept the troops in the barracks while the Syrian intelligence services and agents roamed the land terrorizing our people.

Under Sleiman's command, a war was declared in July 2006 by Hezbollah against Lebanon and Israel in order to serve their dark lords in Damascus and Teheran. What did this army chief do to protect us? Absolutely nothing! He hid underground until the conflict was over, and then emerged shamelessly to do business as usual. Under his command, Hezbollah boasted that it has over 30,000 missiles, almost triple the numbers it possessed before the 2006 war. If this were to occur in any other country, a self-respecting security chief would have surely resigned or at least called to accountability.

General Sleiman again fouled up in Nahr El Bared. He has been made to look like a patriot when he was at best a negligent Army chief. He should have been held responsible for allowing the infiltrations of the Jihadist into the Nah-El-Bared Palestinian refugee camp and other parts of Lebanon. Hundreds of our army troops were killed and wounded because of his incompetence and his years of mismanagement of our poorly equipped and trained army. And he had the nerve to issue an official communiqué denying that arms and infiltrators are entering Lebanon from Syria, contradicting facts presented by the Lebanese Government, Israel, international intelligence agencies, as well as United Nations reports which clearly confirmed weapon infiltrations into Lebanon from Syria in violation of Security Council Resolution 1701.

 For one year now, Hezbollah has been camped dozens of meters from the center of the Lebanese executive power center in downtown Beirut, threatening our legitimate government with imminent threats and paralyzing our economy and daily life. Instead of rising to defend our state and people, Michel Sleiman stayed neutral and refused to commit the Lebanese armed forces in defending our democratically elected and internationally recognized government.

 The Lebanese Army motto is Honor, Sacrifice, Loyalty. Michel Sleiman's background has shown none of those traits. We are fed up of all these failures of generals. We yearn for an educated President, a College graduate, a cerebral intellectual, a person of courage with sovereign instincts and untainted by the Syrian occupation, a humane, law abiding, and decent human being.  

Source of this Middle East News article

Friday, November 30, 2007

Khartoum Islamists: Death for 'teddy bear' teacher

Actually, what the schoolteacher had done was to allow a child in her class to suggest the name Muhammad for the teddy bear.
Perhaps they should have lashed the child....
Ami Isseroff
Khartoum protesters demand death for 'teddy' teacher
Posted: 01 December 2007 0205 hrs  

KHARTOUM : Thousands of angry Sudanese, some brandishing swords, marched Friday through the centre of Khartoum calling for the execution of a British woman teacher as she began a brief jail term for insulting Islam.

"Those who insult the Prophet of Islam should be punished with bullets," a sea of white-clad demonstrators shouted after Gillian Gibbons, 54, was jailed for 15 days on charges stemming from naming a teddy bear Mohammed.

Others chanted "Execute her!" as Sudanese security forces deployed around the British embassy and the ambassador's residence and the demonstration, called by religious leaders during Friday prayers, spread.

The protesters flocked into the centre of the Sudanese capital from several mosques the day after a criminal court passed sentence on Gibbons.

She could have faced a maximum sentence of 40 lashes, six months' jail and a fine.

Gibbons was jailed on Thursday for allowing pupils in her class to call a teddy bear Mohammed as part of a school project.

Sheikh Hussein Mubarak told thousands of faithful gathered for the Muslim day of prayer that the court's "verdict was lenient out of fear of criticism from human rights organisations, America and the West."

The British embassy warned its citizens in Sudan about the demonstration, telling them to lie low and be vigilant.

Some of the crowd turned on an AFP correspondent and shouted at him to "Go home." He was later briefly detained by security services.

The organisers rallied the crowd using loud hailers from an improvised podium on a lorry in front of the palace of President Omar al-Beshir before they marched down one of Khartoum's main streets.

The angry crowd of men, some carrying banners declaring "Punishment, punishment, punishment" and "The entire nation is at your service, O Prophet of Allah", marched past the school were Gibbons taught a class of six- to seven-year-olds for a term until her arrest last Sunday.

The bulk of the crowd dispersed peacefully, but hundreds later congregated outside the heavily guarded British embassy, some of them on horseback.

Sudanese police prevented the crowd approaching the embassy but a Sufi religious leader was allowed to hand over a message explaining their unhappiness.

An embassy spokesman said later that the crowd had dispersed and "it looks like it's getting back to normal." He said he did not know whether Gibbons, a mother of two, was aware that the crowds were calling for her death.

In London, a Foreign Office spokesman told AFP they were aware of the demonstration but that "the local authorities are keeping it under control."

"We are pursuing diplomatic contacts with the Sudanese government," he said. "What we're searching for is a swift resolution of this issue... it's very difficult to say what will be the outcome."

He declined to say whether they were seeking Gibbons' early release.

Earlier, Sheikh Mubarak railed at what he said was an attempt "to transform Sudan from an Islamic state into a Christian state," adding that the British teacher had come to Sudan "as part of that design."

"Why did this teacher come to Sudan? She surely didn't need to emigrate from her country for the money? So she came for another reason..." he told the faithful at Al-Safa mosque in the city's eastern Jarif district.

He denounced "those who try to defend democracy and human rights and insult the Prophet," adding that he did not think the teacher would even serve out the 15-day sentence.

At the central Martyr's Mosque, another imam, Sheikh Abdul Jalil Karuri, said Gibbons "did it with the intention of insulting Islam."

The crowd responded with cries of "The army of Islam will prevail."

The trial itself took place behind a significant police barrier to avoid such demonstrations which, as with last year's publication of caricatures of Prophet Mohammed in Denmark, have previously led to violence.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the trial stemmed from an "innocent misunderstanding" as diplomatic contacts continued "in the search for a swift resolution of this issue," the Foreign Office said.

British embassy officials visited Gibbons in prison at an undisclosed location earlier Friday after she began serving her sentence. The 15-day sentence was to run from Sunday when she was arrested.

"The consul and the deputy ambassador visited her this morning and she was fine," an embassy spokesman told AFP. "She's in good spirits and she's not being mistreated or anything like that."

Friday's demonstration was called by the Committee of Ulemas and the Partisans of the Prophet as well as other religious associations. Some imams called for the faithful to congregate outside the presidential palace in the centre of Khartoum after the prayers.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Peace is probably a mirage this time.

Oasis or Mirage? asks Tom Friedman. An old hand like him should not be carried away by wishful thinking. Saudis would not shake hands with Israelis, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. The Palestinians are still in the frame of mind where peace is victory and includes driving the Jews out of Jerusalem and allowing "refugees" to return. If Friedman can explain what is going to happen to Hamas though, he might start to convince me.

November 28, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Oasis or Mirage?

Annapolis, Md.
The Middle East is experiencing something we haven't seen in a long, long time: moderates getting their act together a little, taking tentative stands and pushing back on the bad guys. If all that sounds kind of, sort of, maybe, qualified, well ... it is. But in a region in which extremists go all the way and the moderates usually just go away, it's the first good news in years — an oasis in a desert of despair.
The only problem is that this tentative march of the moderates — which got a useful boost here with the Annapolis peace gathering — is driven largely by fear, not by any shared vision of a region where Sunni and Shiite, Arab and Jew, trade, interact, collaborate and compromise in the way that countries in Southeast Asia have learned to do for their mutual benefit.
So far, "this is the peace of the afraid," said Hisham Melhem, Washington bureau chief of Al Arabiya, a satellite news channel.
Fear can be a potent motivator. Fear of Al Qaeda running their lives finally got the Sunni tribes of Iraq to rise up against the pro-Al Qaeda Sunnis, even to the point of siding with the Americans. Fear of Shiite thugs in the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army has prompted many more Shiites in Iraq to side with the pro-U.S. Iraqi government and army. Fear of a Hamas takeover has driven Fatah into a tighter working relationship with Israel. And fear of spreading Iranian influence has all the Arab states — particularly Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan — working in even closer coordination with America and in tacit cooperation with Israel. Fear of Fatah collapsing, and of Israel inheriting responsibility for the West Bank's Palestinian population forever, has brought Israel back to Washington's negotiating table. Fear of isolation even brought Syria here.
But fear of predators can only take you so far. To build a durable peace, it takes a shared agenda, a willingness by moderates to work together to support one another and help each other beat back the extremists in each camp. It takes something that has been sorely lacking since the deaths of Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein: a certain moral courage to do something "surprising."
Since 2000, the only people who have surprised us are the bad guys. Each week they have surprised us with new ways and places to kill people. The moderates, by contrast, have been surprise-free — until the Sunni tribes in Iraq took on Al Qaeda. What I'll be looking for in the coming months is whether the moderates can surprise each other and surprise the extremists.
The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, announced even before he got to Annapolis that there would be no handshakes with any Israelis. Too bad. A handshake alone is not going to get Israel to give back the West Bank. But a surprising gesture of humanity, like a simple handshake from a Saudi leader to an Israeli leader, would actually go a long way toward convincing Israelis that there is something new here, that it's not just about the Arabs being afraid of Iran, but that they're actually willing to coexist with Israel. Ditto Israel. Why not surprise Palestinians with a generous gesture on prisoners or roadblocks? Has the stingy old way worked so well?
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been so starved of emotional content since the Rabin assassination that it has no connection to average people anymore. It's just words — a bunch of gobbledygook about "road maps." The Saudis are experts at telling America that it has to be more serious. Is it too much to ask the Saudis to make our job a little easier by shaking an Israeli leader's hand?
The other surprise we need to see is moderates going all the way. Moderates who are not willing to risk political suicide to achieve their ends are never going to defeat extremists who are willing to commit physical suicide.
The reason that Mr. Rabin and Mr. Sadat were so threatening to extremists is because they were moderates ready to go all the way — a rare breed. I understand that no leader today wants to stick his neck out. They have reason to be afraid, but they have no reason to believe they'll make history any other way.
President Bush said in opening the Annapolis conference that this was not the end of something, but a new beginning of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. You won't need a Middle East expert to explain to you whether it's working. If you just read the headlines in the coming months and your eyes glaze over, then, as the Israeli columnist Nahum Barnea put it to me, you'll know that Annapolis turned the ignition key "on a car with four flat tires."
But if you pick up the newspaper and see Arab and Israeli moderates doing things that surprise you, and you hear yourself exclaiming, "Wow, I've never seen that before!" you'll know we're going somewhere.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Iranian Report: Saudis say they will never recognize Israel

Iran's IRNA news service reports that:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah discussed the latest regional and international developments by telephone Sunday evening.


Ahmadinejad warned that the Arab states need to remain vigilant for the plots and machinations of the Zionist enemy.

The Saudi king in the telephone contact asserted that they will never recognize Israel. He remarked that his country defends the rights of the Palestinians.
Remember - this is what the Iranians say that the Saudis said.

Saudis need more expatriate workers

This is fairly peculiar, given that the Saudis have a high unemployment rate. Apparently it results from inability to find trained engineering personnel in Saudi Arabia on the one hand, and on the other, unwillingness of Saudis to take poor paying menial jobs.

Saudi demand for expat workers soars

by Wael Mahdi, Arabian Business, 22 November 2007

The Saudi Minister of Labour said that Egyptians, Bangladeshis, and Indians were the dominant nationalities for the workers visas issued in Ramadan. 22% of the visas issued were for Egyptians, followed by Bangladeshis with 19% and Indians with 15%.

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Labour has said that it has issued 878,737 working visas in the first nine months of 2007 showing a 57% increase from a year earlier, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.
The ministry, which uses the Islamic calendar, said that number of visas issued in the month of Ramadan (which started on Sept.12) for this year was 90,619 visas, signaling a 104% increase over the same month a year earlier.

The ministry said that 50% of the working visas issued in Ramadan were for engineering professions. Services professions came next with 25% present and all other professions shared the remaining 25%.

The figures reflect the high demand for engineers and technical professionals by Saudi companies which are executing multi billion infrastructure projects. The number of visas issued for civil engineers went up 28% compared to a year earlier, according to the labor ministry.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf oil-rich countries are spending heavily on developing their infrastructures; however, companies are facing difficulties executing most of the infrastructure projects due to the limited availability of skilled labour in the Gulf.

According to International Data Corporation (IDC) figures for 2006, demand for networking skills in Saudi will exceed supply by 33% in 2009 and there will be a shortage of more than 33,900 skilled professionals.
Saudi Arabia will account for one third of the shortage in the Middle East region in 2009. UAE and Egypt will account for another one third of this shortage with a demand shortage of 19,000 IT skilled workers in each country.

IDC data estimated that the Middle East will fall short of providing 114,800 IT professionals to execute the region's infrastructure projects.

The Saudi Minister of Labour said that Egyptians, Bangladeshis, and Indians were the dominant nationalities for the workers visas issued in Ramadan. 22% of the visas issued were for Egyptians, followed by Bangladeshis with 19% and Indians with 15%.

Source: CNPublications