Investigators looking into Sunday's riots in the Beirut suburb of Shiyyah, which left nine dead and dozens wounded, say they have taken statements from witnesses, victims, individuals detained by the army, and journalists who were in the area as the event unfolded. State Prosecutor Saeed Mirza met investigators Wednesday morning to review the progress of the inquiry into events around the Mar Mikhael intersection. The meeting included Advocate General Jocelyn Tabet, the government representative at the Military Tribunal, Judge Jean Fahd, and military police chief Brigadier Nabil Ghafry. The Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation on Wednesday quoted unidentified sources as saying that after closer scrutiny, it was determined that the snipers seen on nearby rooftops by witnesses and in television footage were in fact army troops. Die Gerüchte brodeln.
Meanwhile, the pro-opposition al-Akhbar newspaper said Hizbullah and Amal movement were waiting for the results of the investigation into Sunday's riots before announcing their stance regarding their support for consensus presidential candidate army commander Gen. Michel Suleiman. The paper said Hizbullah and Amal would convey their stand to Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who is expected to return to Beirut soon to resume efforts to implement an Arab plan aimed at ending the prolonged political crisis. Arab League chief Amr Moussa warned Wednesday that should the Arab initiative fail to resolve the impasse in Lebanon, international powers could intervene. Moussa, who was in Kuwait for a meeting with senior officials, told reporters that any further delay in electing a new president will harm the country's stability. "It is essential that a new president is elected as soon as possible. Any delay in electing a president is a blow to Lebanon's stability," Moussa said. "It is vital to rescue Lebanon from becoming a scene for regional conflicts," he added.
Khaled Yakoub Qweis: Legendary Lebanese singer Fairouz performed to a sell-out crowd in the Syrian capital on Monday, defying politicians who criticised her for going to what they consider enemy territory. The Arab diva, who burst onto the music scene on Damascus Radio in 1952, returned to the Syrian stage after an absence of two decades, and moved many of her fans in the Opera House audience to tears. She played the lead role in "Sah al-Nom", a musical satire about a careless ruler who is challenged by a poor woman, and received a standing ovation. The show was performed as part of cultural celebrations in the ancient city of Damascus, chosen as the 2008 Arab Capital of Culture.
Lebanon's public debt stood at $42.06 billion - or 171 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) - at the end of 2007, the Finance Ministry said in a new report issued on Wednesday. The debt, long a massive albatross crippling the state's finances, rose about 4.2 percent over the course of the preceding year, but economists said that there were some positives to be found on the state's balance sheet.
Across the Bay: As I finish up a long (and delayed) post summarizing and analyzing the developments of the last couple of weeks, including yesterday's riots, I wanted to make sure this item got the attention it deserves. The Kuwaiti al-Qabas ran a report today quoting Arab ministerial sources on the "difficult" Arab FM meeting that was held in Cairo on the 27th.
Großer [Großartiger] Text von Raghida Dergham: There are times when naming names becomes inevitable because any reluctance to do so, whether in the name of diplomacy, politics or any other consideration, may terribly discredit the hesitant party and hurt the victims of harmful maneuvering, be they innocent civilians in Palestine or an entire generation in Lebanon. There are times when entrusted mediators or self-proclaimed backchannels have to act according to their consciences under a moral and political responsibility that obliges them to name things as they are. There are times when accountability becomes inevitable because turning a blind eye, shifting blame, accepting an imposed status quo, or giving in to games aiming at buying time and eluding obligations can be costly for all concerned parties.
The list of those who should be confronted and demanded to end excess today bears several names:
* The Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ...