ASBAREZ ONLINE [05-11-2004]


1) First Couple Begins Official Visit to Lebanon
2) Georgia to Deploy Troops in Ethnic Armenian District Following Clashes
3) More Than 95% of ARF Candidates in Lebanon Elected
4) US General Blames Leadership for Abuse
5) Efforts to Control Sensitive Armenian Exports Discussed in Washington

1) First Couple Begins Official Visit to Lebanon

BEIRUT (Combined Sources)–Armenian and Lebanese Presidents Robert Kocharian
and Emil Lahoud met on Monday to discuss intensifying their already solid
bilateral relations. Officials said the two also reviewed the situation in the
Middle East, including Iraq. The Armenian president was due to meet with
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
Accompanied by Armenian first lady Bella, President Kocharian was greeted by
President Lahoud and Lebanese first lady Andrea at Beirut International
early Monday.
A state dinner was held in honor of the Armenian first couple Monday evening,
and the two planned to visit historical and cultural sites on Tuesday. Lebanon
hosts the Arab world’s largest Armenian community, with about 200,000 members.
The community has government ministers and parliament members, and is very
active in the business sector. Kocharian was scheduled to meet church and
Kocharian made a first visit to Lebanon in 2000. The Lebanese president,
mother and wife are of Armenian origin, made a trip to Yerevan in 2002. Hariri
also visited Armenia in April, where he signed a series of agreements for
bilateral economic and cultural cooperation.

2) Georgia to Deploy Troops in Ethnic Armenian District Following Clashes

TSALKA (Combined Sources)–A 150-strong unit of Georgia’s Internal Troops are
to be deployed in Tsalka District following mass disturbances involving the
district’s ethnic Armenian and Georgian residents on Sunday.
A Prime-News correspondent reported from Tsalka that the president’s
representative in the Kvemo Kartli Region, Ioseb Mazmishvili, as well as a
group of investigators from the regional offices of the Interior Ministry and
the Prosecutor-General’s Office, arrived in Tsalka on Monday to investigate
The Prime-News correspondent has said that the regional administration will
stay in Tsalka until order is restored there. A temporary command post to
coordinate the activities of law enforcement officers will also be set-up.
Mazmishvili told Prime-News that the temporary command post will institute
special measures, to include the disarming of residents.
A-Info reported that clashes began when some 50 Svans (ethnic Georgian group)
ran into the field and began beating the Armenian soccer players after they
made a goal. Most of the victims, schoolchildren, suffered serious injuries.
Armenian youth from neighboring villages moved in to help, but before
Tsalka, were told that police had managed to stop the fight. Armenian and
clashed again in other areas.
A-Info also reported that the mainly Georgian local police arbitrarily
harassed Armenians, with one policeman opening fire on the car of a young
Armenian who had nothing to do with the events.
The president’s representative in the region has described the situation in
the district as tense.
Several dozen have been injured; one youth suffered concussion.
A group of doctors from Rustavi went to Tsalka on Monday to treat the
Mass disturbances involving ethnic Georgians and Armenians have taken
place in
the Tsalka District before.

3) More Than 95% of ARF Candidates in Lebanon Elected

BEIRUT (Aztag)–Of the 90 candidates running for seats in Lebanon’s municipal
and local elections on the ARF list, 86 were elected, reported the ARF Central
Committee of Lebanon. The elections began May 2 and ended May 9.
The turnout by Armenian voters was high and highly organized, in sharp
contrast to overall voter turnout, according to Lebanese news reports.
The ARF’s election machinery included 1,500 youth campaign workers, as
well as
750 vehicles that transported voters from outlying areas, including the Bekaa
Valley and the north, to the heart of Beirut.
“We congratulate the ARF’s election allies, who recorded major victories
throughout Lebanon,” read a statement issued by the Central Committee after
“The consolidation of the democratic order, and election campaigns waged on
that basis, constitute the starting point for the development of the
country…which is predicated on the development of municipalities and their
districts. It was with that understanding that the ARF approached the
at this stage, and was able to achieve the election of 86 persons as municipal
council members and district heads,” the statement read.
The ARF waged the election campaign for the Beirut municipal and district
elections from headquarters in Mt. Lebanon. It had seven election headquarters
in Bourj Hammoud, seven in Antelias, three in Zalka and Jal-al-Dib, four in
Beirut, and one each in Ainjar, Zahle, and Jibeyl.

4) US General Blames Leadership for Abuse

WASHINGTON (Reuters)–The abuse of Iraqi prisoners reflected a failure of
leadership in the US armed forces, the general who investigated the
mistreatment says.
But he said on Tuesday that he found no evidence that American soldiers had
acted on the direct orders of higher-ups.
Asked directly in “your own soldier’s language” what had caused the abuse at
the Abu Ghraib prison, once the feared symbol of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial
rule, US Army Major General Antonio Taguba recited a litany of ills.
“Failure in leadership, sir, from the brigade commander on down, lack of
discipline, no training whatsoever and no supervision. Supervisory omission
rampant,” Taguba, the author of a Pentagon report on the abuse, told the
Senate hearing on the scandal, which has drawn worldwide outrage.
But Taguba told the Senate Armed Services Committee he did “not find any
evidence of a policy or a direct order given to these soldiers to conduct what
they did. I believe that they did it on their own volition.”
The hearing followed an all-day grilling of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
on Friday, at which Rumsfeld apologized for the abuse but said he would not
step down simply to appease his political enemies.
At the Pentagon’s insistence, Under Secretary of Defense Stephen Cambone, who
is in charge of intelligence, and other Pentagon officials also appeared with
Taguba to testify on the scandal that has sparked international outrage and
calls for Rumsfeld’s resignation.
Coalition military intelligence officers estimated that about 70 percent
to 90
percent of the thousands of prisoners detained in Iraq had been “arrested by
mistake,” according to a report by Red Cross given to the Bush administration
last year and leaked this week.
The report said the mistreatment of prisoners apparently tolerated by US and
other coalition forces in Iraq involved widespread abuse that was “in some
cases tantamount to torture.”


Democrats on the committee were irked that the Pentagon balked at plans for
Taguba to testify by himself, calling it an “attempt to dilute Taguba’s
testimony”, a Democratic aide said. “Taguba is known as a straight-talker.”
Taguba’s report and photographs shown around the world of naked prisoners
stacked in a pyramid or positioned to simulate sex acts at the prison near
Baghdad have shocked Americans and set off an international furor that has
posed a serious setback to US efforts to stabilize Iraq.
With close US ally Britain battling its own abuse scandal, Amnesty
International accused British soldiers in Iraq of killing civilians, including
an 8-year-old girl and a wedding guest, who posed no apparent threat.
Already, a British judge has ruled that 12 Iraqi families whose loved ones
were killed should be given permission to argue that the European
Convention on
Human Rights applied to their cases.
The scandal broke in America as public support for the Iraq war was already
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll released on Monday found only 44 percent believed
the war was worthwhile. In a poll taken a month ago, 50 percent said it was
worth going to war in Iraq. A year ago, 73 percent thought the war was
President George W. Bush’s own approval rating dipped to 46 percent, down
52 percent a month earlier.


In Iraq scattered violence, underlined the continuing lawlessness. A civilian
supply convoy was attacked on the main highway to Baghdad from Jordan and 21
vehicles were destroyed.
Three people were killed when a bomb exploded in a crowded market in the
northern oil city of Kirkuk, Iraqi police said.
And in Najaf, hundreds of Iraqis marched through the streets to demand that
militant cleric Moqtada al-Sadr withdraw his fighters from the Shi’ite holy
It was the biggest and most public display yet of mounting local exasperation
with an uprising launched last month by Sadr’s Mehdi Army against the US
occupation force.
Despite the ongoing turmoil, the United States is planning to hand over
Hussein and other top officials of his ousted regime to the Iraqis before it
transfers power to an unelected Iraqi government by June 30, according to
lawyer Salem Chalabi, who is coordinating the trial.
“The coalition forces now have more than 100 former regime officials,”
said in Kuwait. “They will be transferred to us before the transfer of power,
and they include Saddam Hussein, Ali Hassan al Majid and Tareq Aziz.”
In his report, completed in March, Taguba cited the “systematic and illegal
abuses of detainees,” and said between October and December 2003, “numerous
incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on
several detainees.”
While his 53-page report castigated the prison operation, Taguba told the
committee he did not see evidence it resulted from a deliberate policy on
extracting information from detainees.
“I think it was a matter of soldiers with their interaction with military
intelligence personnel who were perceived or thought to be competent authority
… influencing their action to set the conditions for successful
interrogations,” he said.
But Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the committee’s top Democrat, said “the
despicable acts” shown in the report “not only reek of abuse, they reek of an
organized effort and methodical preparation for interrogation.”
Levin said the abuses “were not the spontaneous action of lower ranking
enlisted personnel,” but “attempts to extract information from prisoners by
abusive and degrading methods were planned and suggested by others.”
Congress is now preparing to see a new set of photographs and a video that
Rumsfeld warned may be even more shocking.

5) Efforts to Control Sensitive Armenian Exports Discussed in Washington

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Senior Armenian and US officials met in Washington last week
to discuss efforts to prevent possible transfer of sensitive equipment and
technology from Armenia to third-world countries, the Foreign Ministry in
Yerevan announced on Monday.
A ministry statement said the meeting was a part of “periodical
between the two governments relating to exports of goods that could be used in
the manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It said the Armenian
side was represented by officials from several government agencies, including
the National Security Service and an exports control body.
The statement said their counterparts from the US Department of Commerce
praised relevant steps taken by the Armenian authorities, notably a law
regulating exports of “goods and technologies of dual use” and their transit
through Armenian territory which was passed by the National Assembly last
The talks seemed to have come about as a result of a May 2002 incident over
the transfer of sensitive Armenian technology to neighboring Iran. Washington
imposed sanctions on an Armenian businessman who had allegedly sold the
technological equipment of a local biochemical firm to an Iranian-linked
trading company registered in the United Arab Emirates.
The company, based in the central town of Charentsavan, grew special bacteria
for the production of lysine, an amino acid added to animal fodder. Scientists
say they could also generate other biochemical substances. The businessman,
Armen Sarkisian strongly denied having any links with the now defunct firm
called Lizin.
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian stated at the time that Armenia had been
cautioned in 2001 of the dangers of exporting of lysine, which can be used for
military purposes, but that the Armenian government had no authority to block
the deal.
The incident prompted the government to tighten export controls on Armenia’s
border crossings.

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From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS