Shatah meets Berri, Khalil, and Khalil: Is Hizbullah Ready to Give Up Arms if Army Is Deployed?
Sfeir Approves of Spiritual-Summit Statement Greeting Resistance... Siniora Interferes to Cross Expression!
It is the night we cross July's ruined bridge to August's pathway as promises of the coming victory are there. Now we can smell the "Israeli" tanks that have burned in plains - as if this were fresh breeze blowing after the storm.
The storm has promised us to leave room for rainbows, and now it whispers to the martyrs: "Rest in peace, for combat has exhausted your slayer and your blood has turned this slayer's face black...
"Israel" has no choice left but to continue sinning, whereas we are doubtless that it has begun losing the bet on the American chances and that Washington D.C. itself has become somehow ready to consider our conditions.
It is the time when everything is to become crystal clear as we firmly request cease-fire, giving no guarantees, for which the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Philippe Douste-Blazy has asked "in order to press the U.S.". MP Berri's answer is quite firm: "Cease-fire is our condition for any debate," whereby the one-day truce is something we refuse as we wish to offer "Israel" no chance to take a breath before sustaining ‘the burned-land policy'.
It hasn't been hard to play our cards well in confrontation with foreigners. Yet it saddens us to see some fellow citizens asking a question after another in an attempt to beat us up - as if inquiring into a crime. These fellow citizens have forgotten making any initiatives for the sake of the Lebanese interest; palaces have been sending envoys to ‘charge us for offenses'.
Envoys kept on arriving, and diplomats kept on ‘donating solution proposals', among which was the proposal of the German Security Minister as he began knocking the doors to act as the exchange mediator upon that missionary experience in ‘coordination and relation' regarding the process of ‘destiny revelation'.
It was obvious that "the Qana Massacre" had brought about confusion to the American and "Israeli" stances, and the loud-ringing news of bloodshed created pressure on everybody, including "Israel" that could not conceal this fact by escaping responsibility rudely. It seemed that Condoleezza Rice, who reported the Lebanese stance regarding not receiving her, tried to diminish the chance "Israel" had to continue its Aggression. But Rice soon related cease-fire with ‘stability'.
On Monday, July 31, the "Israeli" bluff concerning the aerial truce was exposed, whereby tens of people across the country and Bekaa were wounded or martyred. Throughout that long day, all of us saw the pictures of the "Israeli" Merkava tanks burning on the eastern frontline by the borders of Kfarkila Town.
When we arrived in Ain el Tineh in the morning, MP Berri was discussing the French draft resolution, which was being promoted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Philippe Douste-Blazy after his arrival in Beirut. MP Berri considered that the draft resolution was inconvenient at that moment, and he reflected on it quite carefully as it essentially simulated the American stance.
MP Berri received the United Nations Secretary General's Representative to Lebanon Geir Pedersen, who reported the thanks of Secretary General Kofi Annan for MP Berri's stance and assistance to restrict the attack against the headquarters of the ESCWA (Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia).
Likewise, Pederson reported Annan's ‘consolation for' the martyrs of "the Qana Massacre" and his reiteration that they ‘were working seriously' to cease fire. As for MP Berri, he made use of the chance to warn from the dangers of "Israel's" promotion for a one-day truce because he saw that would give the chance to "Israel" to burn the South and impose conditions in the UN Security Council. This was, in fact, what he declared in his letter to Annan.
Meanwhile, I was participating in the meeting held by the Higher Islamic Shiite Council and headed by Sheikh Abdul Amir Qabalan. The Council issued a statement, requesting support for the stance (which was made in the Governmental Palace) of the Speaker of the Parliament Berri and of Premier Siniora regarding the priority of cease-fire and the end of the Aggression.
By the time I came back to Ain el Tineh, MP Berri had met with Douste-Blazy, who convicted "the Qana Massacre" before proposing the following French draft resolution:
- Immediate cease of military works
- Releasing the "Israeli" captives and the Lebanese detainees
- Executing "the Taef Accord" in regard to the functioning of the government as sovereign on all Lebanese lands
- Resolving the issue of the Shebaa Farms and subjecting them to the UN's custody
-Establishing an international force to ensure stability and help to fulfill the political agreement
Berri, "Although I appreciate the French attempt, I have no intention to discuss it essentially, and I adhere to what Premier Siniora and I declared yesterday: Cease-fire is the condition for any debate."
Douste-Blaze: "In that case, will Hizbullah quit launching missiles against "Israel"?
Berri, "Certainly - if an agreement on cease-fire is made."
Douste-Blaze: "Is Iran influencing the incidents?"
Berri: "Well, the Resistance is Lebanese, but Iran's role is necessary and sufficient."
Douste-Blaze: "And what's the official stance of the government?"
Berri: "We've agreed that you'll learn that from the government. I'm not going to discuss the details now."
Douste-Blaze (again): "Then what about the stance on the international force?"
Berri: "I've told you I am not discussing anything before cease-fire. Yet we support France's role, and we want it to be our gate to Europe. Frankly, I tell you that in spite of deep pain and sorrow, I'm not politically aggravated that the "Israeli" Aggression is focusing on certain regions and targeting Shiites in particular - and I truly appreciate the level of national consolidation; whereby this fact can actually serve us in the future to try (the "Israeli" Prime Minister) Olmert and his government. And this perfectly contradicts with their claim of suffering upon what they call ‘the oppression against the Jews of Europe'."
MP Berri added, "Your Excellency, I do appreciate the call President Jacque Chirac made yesterday. So if you don't wish to waste your time, then you should help to cease fire; hence, all other political issues become discussable."
Douste-Blaze: "What about the exchange?"
Berri: "I've announced that the exchange conditions have totally varied from what I'd announced previously."
Douste-Blazy: "But what cards are you going to give me so that I press the U.S. Administration?"
Berri:" I believe that the corpses of Qana's children make the biggest means of pressure!"
After Douste-Blaze left, Head of the Liaison and Coordination of Hizbullah, Haj Wafik Safa called and informed me that the German security minister had sent an envoy to Beirut to debate the issue of the captives' exchange and that Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah had asked him to meet MP Berri instead. Haj Safa also said that the security minister was going to ask for an appointment with me. As for MP Berri, he replied that this issue could be discussed after cease-fire.
Siniora's Envoy Muhammad Shatah: "Multinational Force!"
Dar Al-Fatwa's envoy Mr. Muhammad As-Sammak arrived in Ain el Tineh to discuss the issue of holding the spiritual summit in Bkirki, and he informed us that they had made a draft statement including a greeting to the Resistance and its martyrs. When the draft statement was offered to Bkirki, it was accepted, but when MP Berri considered the final-statement plan, he found out that it didn't mention the Resistance and that such adjustment, as well as others, took place after Premier Fouad Siniora had considered the statement. Hence, MP Berri insisted on mentioning Hizbullah in particular. And after he informed Sheikh Abdul Amir Qabalan of this, the Sheikh reiterated Berri's stance.
Haj Hussein Khalil arrived in Ain el Tineh, and I met with him in a special suite on the second underground floor. Afterwards, we moved to discuss with MP Berri the plan for the special statement for the spiritual summit, particularly the paragraph related to the Resistance, which was refused by Premier Siniora even though Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir approved of it. And MP Berri insisted on listing it and mentioning Hizbullah in particular. During the session, MP Siniora called to set an appointment for his political advisor Muhammad Shatah, who was going to report Siniora's message.
As we continued the session, Haj Hussein Khalil became familiar with the progress of the meeting with MP Douste Blaze.
Holding our meeting with Muhammad Shatah, we knew from him that Siniora had called the British Prime Minister Toni Blair, who had inquired about the probability of the deployment of the Lebanese Army on the borders before the declaration of cease-fire.
Shatah: "What if Hizbullah does not agree?"
Berri: "Well, in that case, I'll handle the responsibility of assisting the deployment of the Lebanese Army."
Siniora's envoy Shatah replied, "We have three questions:
1- In case the Lebanese Army, assisted by the UNIFIL is deployed, will Hizbullah be ready to give up its arms?"
Awkward, MP Berri looked at me and remained silent for some moments. Then he asked, "Are you suggesting that no arms be apparent in this region? Anyway, what borders do you mean should be empty of arms?"
Shatah: "That should be along a ten-kilometer distance."
Now MP Berri answered sharply, "Is that supposed to be before withdrawal from the Shebaa Farms or after that?! Listen Dr. Muhammad, my discussion is whether arms should be apparent or not - not whether they should be given up, and this is what I understand."
Shatah: "Well, the French minister says it's a matter of trust."
Berri: "What about us? Who can we confide in to liberate the land and deter "Israel" from aggressions?
(Shatah did not answer the question.) He moved to the second question, as assigned by Siniora:
"2- France is reflecting upon constituting the majority of the multinational force of French soldiers."
Berri, "Don't use the term ‘multinational', for in case it exists, it'll be on the "Israeli" side, and we don't care what the nationality of its soldiers will be. But if you mean increasing the number of the UNEF (United Nations Emergency Forces) in accordance with their missions, then I'll handle the responsibility of this issue."
Shatah: "3-Since we haven't agreed on this point, how about having a meeting with Premier Siniora and the French Minister?
Berri: "I will not desecrate the blood of the martyrs of Qana, and I'm not discussing anything before cease-fire. I agree that we discuss issues locally to reach a unified stance, but I don't agree to discuss issues with foreign sides."
Now Shatah was back to the first point regarding arms in the South Litany Region, so MP Berri said that we were treating this issue just like the issue of arms in Beirut and other regions: The Lebanese Army would not allow the appearance of these arms in public; "we, however, will not accept any breaks-in. Anyway, this is not the matter for discussion now."
As for Haj Hussein Khalil, he iterated that in case a cease-fire agreement was reached, Hizbullah would not launch any missile.
At night, the Iranian Ambassador Muhammad Reda Shibani inquired about the incidents of the day while he was preparing for a meeting between the Iranian and French ministers of foreign affairs at the headquarters of the Iranian Embassy in Bir Hassan (Beirut). During the meeting, the ministers exchanged opinions on the French plan. The Iranian minister reported the essence of the stance we had made.
In the meantime, the UN Security Council issued a statement of ‘sorrow for' "the Qana Massacre", but the Security Council did not dare refuse the American stance on not convicting this massacre. Neither did the statement declare cease-fire.
Sayyed Sistani Sends a Strong, Indirect Message to Bush and His Assistants: Islamic Peoples Won't Excuse U.S. if It Doesn't Contribute to Cease-fire
In a Similar context, Head of the office of Ayatollah His Eminence Sayyed Ali Sistani in Lebanon, Haj Hamed AL-Khafaf, has offered the story here below in response to what an episode of the July-War incidents, published by "As-Safir" newspaper, mentioned concerning Sayyed Sistani's stance:
"-On Sunday, the 30th of July, "Israel" bombarded Qana Town, whereby the bombardment resulted in the famous massacre (the Qana Massacre).
Approximately at 7:00 PM on the same day, MP Berri called me and said, "Haj Hamed, I want you to deliver my message to his Eminence Sayyed Sistani: Now that "the Qana Massacre" has been perpetrated, the whole world - even the U.N. - is advocating for immediate cease-fire. Only the U.S. is insisting on not ceasing fire. Therefore, I believe that if His Eminence makes a stance advocating for cease-fire, then such stance will be effective and resolving."
So I told MP Berri, "Your Excellency knows that we keep no relations with the United States."
MP Berri replied, "I know that, but I know, as well, that there are tens of thousands of American soldiers in Iraq; also that the words of His Eminence are awed. So I say His Eminence should issue a public statement asking for cease-fire." Then MP Berri informed me of the current tragedy in the South.
And I said, "Your Excellency, His Eminence issued a statement concerning the "Israeli" aggressions against Lebanon ten days ago, and it is not a practice of his to issue two statements on the same issue in a brief period of time!"
Berri said, "Well, I hope that you deliver my message to His Eminence. Tell him: this is Nabih's request."
"I'll do so," I said.
Now I called Sayyed Muhammad Reda, Imam Sistani's son in the Holy Najaf (Iraq), and I reported MP Berri's message. "His Eminence," he said, "has recently issued a statement regarding the current events, so what effect can another statement on the same issue have? Some Iraqi officials can send an oral message from him to the U.S. President George W. Bush, whereby His Eminence reports a firm stance, probably being more effective in putting an end to the current tragedy. So what do you say?"
"This is good," I said, "In case His Eminence approves of the proposal, I'll inform MP Berri and find out what his opinion will be."
After repeated calls, Sayyed Muhammad Reda informed me that His Eminence had approved of the proposal "as the brothers in Lebanon see this is beneficial for them in spite of my reservation regarding some (Lebanese political) figures."
I called MP Berri and informed him of the proposal, so he answered, "This is very good - exactly what we want. Yet, I hope that His Eminence issues a statement advocating for cease-fire as well, for this is necessary and very beneficial".
- At night, Sayyed Sistani (God keep him) issued a strict statement concerning "the Qana Massacre", and it was distributed to media means that night.
As well, Sayyed Sistani decided to deliver an oral message to President George W. Bush and the American Administration, showing his stance on the current incidents in Lebanon. Dr. Adel Abdul Mahdi, the Iraqi vice-president (then), was chosen to report this stance.
The stance was as such:
"His Eminence Sayyed Sistani is very worried upon what is going on in Lebanon, and he sees it is crucial to cease-fire. The Islamic peoples won't excuse the U.S. if it doesn't contribute to cease-fire."
- On Monday, July 31, Dr. Aadel Abdul Mahdi told us that he had phoned four American figures, delivering His Eminence's message. The figures were: President George W. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and National Security Advisor Steve Hadley.
At 6:40, I informed MP Berri that His Eminence Sayyed Sistani had reported his stance to the American Administration, so he thanked me very much and made a testimonial to Sayyed Sistani and his care.
-On Friday, August 4, Sayyed Muhammad Reda Sistani told me that an Iraqi MP had visited His Eminence's office in Najaf, and had delivered to him a letter from the U.S. President George W. Bush, whereby the letter included Bush's comment on the current events in Lebanon and His Eminence's stance. As well, Sayyed Muhammad Reda Sistani talked to me about the content of the letter, "Upon the vulnerability of the issue, we do not intend to declare it through media means. But I'll report its text to you so that you can inform MP Berri of it."
-On Sunday, August 6, Sayyed Muhammad Reda Sistani phoned me and read the letter of George Bush, who declared ‘he shared Sayyed Sistani's strong desire to put an end to the crisis in Lebanon'... The letter was: "During this week, we are going to focus on working along with the Security Council to ratify a thorough settlement for this crisis. The settlement is to include cease-fire; setting the political principles that guarantee reaching a long-term settlement; and issuing a commissioning for international forces that can support the Lebanese Army and assist it in maintaining peace."
Bush's letter, written on August 2, 2006 in Washington D.C., reached Najaf in the evening of Friday, August 4, 2006.
I called MP Berri, who was very busy as the Arab foreign ministers had arrived in Beirut, and we agreed on meeting the coming day (Monday, August 7, at 11:45).
I met with MP Berri on time, and I explained to him about the letter's arrival, pointing out His Eminence's practice of not answering letters like this! And I offered him the reported letter.
MP Berri read it well and checked its date, saying, "This text is correct and is taking place currently - except for ‘the cease-fire' paragraph, for the U.S. is now talking about ceasing war operations rather than ceasing fire."
"They've sent an English text and a formally Arabized one," I said, "His Eminence sees that the conspiracy is big, multilateral, and complicated, but he has made this initiative upon his sense of responsibility for the people of Lebanon. Berri thanked His Eminence very much, and he explained to me the latest situations of the negotiations and political developments locally and abroad. As regards combat, he seemed confident, saying, "It's very good.""
-‘Multinational Force' Issue Is Put into Action
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-"Israeli" Airdrop in Baalbeck in Search for "Hassan Nasrallah"!