Thursday 13 November 2008

Killers are homesick

Apparently Lebanese who collaborated with Israel are sick of living in the "only democracy in the Middle East":

Bshara Rizk awoke at dawn and headed home, making his way through mine-infested fields and climbing over a barbed wire fence that stood between him and his native Lebanon.

Bloodied but euphoric, he arrived in his hometown of Qlayaa, located just across the border from Israel, where he exclaimed to the local priest: "I'm back."

Rizk, 24, had been living in a northern Israeli town since 2000, when his father's mainly Christian militia, the South Lebanon Army (SLA), followed its Israeli allies as they withdrew back across the border, after a long and brutal occupation of south Lebanon.

For eight years, Rizk worked at a factory in Israel, but most SLA members never felt welcomed in Israel.

"I never felt complete there and I always wanted to go back to Lebanon," the burly Rizk said following his return home on a Thursday back in June.

His family was amongst hundreds who fled because of their links to the SLA which was trained, financed and armed by Israel during its decades-long occupation of southern Lebanon.

They were seen as traitors.

Islamists in the mist

The Financial Times is attempting to get a grip on the murky world of Islamists, Syria and Lebanon:

Syrian television last week broadcast what it said were the confessions of members of the Lebanon-based Fatah al-Islam faction, admitting responsibility for a bomb attack in Damascus in September that killed 17. The Lebanese authorities yesterday said they had arrested five of the militants on suspicion of involvement "in terrorist acts".

The controversy arises from televised claims by the militants that they had been financed by Lebanon's anti-Syrian Future movement. The movement, led by Saad Hariri, son of murdered former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, is Lebanon's main Sunni political party.

The Future movement has denied the allegation. Ahmad Fatfat, a former cabinet minister, called it "a fabrication by the Syrian security services that can only prove their own involvement with Fatah al-Islam".

Damascus has repeatedly accused Salafi groups of involvement in violence in Syria. President Bashar al-Assad has sent about 10,000 troops to the border in what Syria says is an attempt to contain them.

Apart from their apparently limited number, much of what is known about the Salafists is a matter of dispute. The movement is splintered and divides into openly anti- and pro-Syrian factions. Members vary in their ideological affiliation with al-Qaeda and have different financial backers with wildly diverging agendas.

The sharpest division seems to run between groups for whom anti-US and general anti-western motives trump local politics, and those for whom antiSyrian, anti-Shia, antiHizbollah and anti-Iranian sentiments dominate - to the extent that they co-operate with the US-backed mainstream Sunni Future movement.


According to the AP news agency: Archaeologists say they have unearthed pottery up to 3,000 years old in southern Lebanon that ancient Phoenicians used to bury the remains of the dead after cremation.

Archaeologist Ali Badawi tells The Associated Press that a team of Lebanese and Spanish experts discovered more than 100 earthen jars at an excavation site in the southern port city of Tyre.

The pottery dates to between 700 and 900 B.C., when Phoenician traders flourished on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. Badawi said Wednesday that such discoveries offer a rare window into Phoenician history and culture.

Originating from what is now Lebanon, the Phoenicians were early seafarers who spread their culture to other countries around the region.