23 August 2007

Berri tells Jumblatt: Honored to be Hezbollah's 'Mail Box'

Beirut- House Speaker Nabih Berri on Thursday lashed out at rival
Democratic Gathering leader MP Walid Jumblatt for accusing him of
becoming a "mail box" for Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

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"The parliament speaker has the honor to be a mail box for the resistance that he was the first to establish," Berri said in a statement released by his office.The statement said Jumblatt's attack of the "parliament speaker is aimed at forcing him (Berri) to relinquish all positive initiatives and his incessant efforts to unify ranks which you constantly reject."Jumblatt on Wednesday accused Berri of becoming a "mail box for Hassan Nasrallah.""Unfortunately Berri has finished himself with his own hands," Jumblatt said in an interview with the youth supplement of the daily An Nahar.Excerpts of the interview were distributed by the state-run National News Agency (NNA).In 2005 Jumblatt was the leading supporter of Berri to be the speaker of the parliament and lobbied hard for him. Jumblatt lost faith in Berri after the resignation of the Shiite ministers from the cabinet. Jumblatt saw Berri transformed from being the leader of the Amal movement to becoming the rubber stamp of Hezbollah. Berri refused to convene the parliament ever since the Shiite Ministers resigned, despite pressure from several groups.Berri's credibility suffered greatly during his November 2006 trip to Iran. He was asked right after the resignation of the Shiite ministers from the cabinet " if the cabinet was still constitutional " He responded by saying " of course it is " . He later , reportedly after pressure from Syria and Iran , retracted the statement and said the cabinet was unconstitutional .picture: House Speaker Nabih Berri ( R) . Democratic Gathering leader MP Walid Jumblatt ( not shown) accused Berri of becoming a "mail box" for Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah (L) .-(Ya libnan)

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.