In the news 8/09/07

The Fatah al-Islam saga goes on. The army is still hunting 11 militants who escaped in the breakout on 2 september, the final day of the siege. Two others, both Syrian men, have been arrested – one, who was wounded, by inhabitants of the village of Muniyyeh, another, who escaped swimming, by the army today. There is also a rather amusing development in the DNA-identification of the dead leader of the group, Shakir al-Abssi. Although his corpse had been identified in a Tripoli hospital by both family members and other people who knew him well, his DNA turns out not to match that of one of his daughters… DNA-samples are now being taken of all of his 5 children in an attempt to resolve the problem. This could either mean that a lot of people are conspiring to conceal the fact that the dead man is not al-Abssi – which would imply that he escaped and is still alive somewhere – or that his wife has not been entirely faithful to him…

In a rather more worrying development, Israeli war planes have been testing the Syrian air defences and found that they were working adequately… The worrying thing being not so much the incident itself, as the fact that the Syrian government was exceedingly vague in its statements on the intrusion of their air space, while the Israeli – and US – authorities refused to comment in any way. It comes after a month of Israel and Syria trying to outdo eachother in assuring us all that they most definitely absolutely certainly no way want to start a war… Never believe anything until it’s officially denied, right?

Meanwhile Druze leader and MP for 14th March Walid Junblatt – always in for a spectacular quote or two – has come on LBC TV yesterday accusing Nabih Berri – who finally set the date for parliament to convene and (try to) elect a new president on 25th September – of’ ‘having information or trying to predict that something shocking is going to happen in Lebanon about ten days prior to the election date’. The options he mentioned were: ‘assassinations, an uprising or Beirut could be shut down’. About Berri’s initiative to negotiate a ‘compromise’ president acceptable to all parties, whereby the opposition would drop its demand for a unity government, Jumblatt said ‘I suspect Berri’s initiative is filled with assassinations’… (sources: LBC/Ya Libnan)

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