Monday, March 14, 2005

Articles from The Observer

Two articles caught my eye from yesterday's Observer:

Beirut on the brink of an abyss
There is foreboding in Lebanon after Hizbollah flexed its political muscles last week. Peter Beaumont reports from the group's stronghold in the Bekaa Valley.

A new way of calculating the escalating crisis that has engulfed Lebanon since former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a bomb blast last month has emerged on the streets of Beirut. It is not to be found in the sizes of the rival demonstrations that have blocked Beirut's streets, but in the price of an AK-47 assault rifle.

Before Hariri's murder - blamed by many Lebanese on Syria, whose army and intelligence services have lingered in the country for 30 years - you could buy one for $100 (£52). These days, say Lebanese, you would be lucky to find a weapon for $700.
Be afraid, perhaps. But very afraid? No
The threat to Britain from Islamic militancy is far less serious than the government is telling us, says Jason Burke.

As you read this, there are no 200 'Osama bin Laden-trained volunteers' stalking our streets, as is claimed by the government. Nor are there al-Qaeda networks 'spawning and festering' across the country. Nor are Islamic militants cooking up biological or chemical weapons.

Nor indeed are there any 'terrorist organisations', as Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, calls them, nor are there 'hundreds of terrorists', as the Prime Minister told Woman's Hour. Nor are there legions of young British Muslims, enraged by perceived injustices in the Islamic world and by the supposed iniquities of Western policy towards their co-religionists, preparing to mount violent attacks.

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