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YOUR WORLD TODAY
Middle East Cease-Fire in its 11th Hour; Terror Plot Investigations Still Under Way in United Kingdom
Aired August 14, 2006 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully, Lebanon returns to its glorious days as it once was.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it will take a while. It's probably not going to be immediate. But hopefully it will be effective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Still fearful. Refugees on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border dream of a peaceful future beyond the cease-fire.
The sounds of silence. The cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah takes effect. But how long will it and can it last?
The U.K. downgrades its terror alert, but warns the threat of a major attack remains.
Hello and welcome to YOUR WORLD TODAY. These are just some of the stories we're following in our broadcast seen around the world.
I'm Hala Gorani, reporting from Beirut.
After more than a month of bloody conflict, the cease-fire is now 11 hours old. For the first time in that month, a tense calm is settling over Lebanon and northern Israel after the guns largely fell silent in line with that U.N.-brokered truce.
The cease-fire appears to be holding despite sporadic clashes between Israeli troops and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Lebanese and Israeli military officials met with the head of the U.N. forces in the area to talk about the transfer of territory now under Israeli control in some parts there.
Ten of thousands of Lebanese are packed into cars, crowding roadways as they make their way home, despite an Israeli warning not to travel in the south. Humanitarian groups are also sending more convoys of aid, but the clogged roads are slowing delivery.
Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert says the war has eliminated Hezbollah's "state within a state," but he says Hezbollah remains committed to Israel's destruction, vowing Israel will keep going after its leaders "everywhere and at any time." Well, the cease-fire hasn't ended the uncertainty for many people, especially those residents of the south who fled the violence just a few weeks ago.
Our Brent Sadler is in Nabatiye and has more on this human flow, the human flow streaming from the north to the south -- Brent.
BRENT SADLER, CNN BEIRUT BUREAU CHIEF: Thanks, Hala.
You join me live in Nabatiye, one of the main market towns in the south. And for the past several hours, people have been poring down to Nabatiye and other towns and villages that they can get to. And they have been coming here for one reason and one reason only, to get back home. I have seen cars piled with mattresses, families packed inside vehicles with their cooking utensils, the stuff they've needed to keep them going for the weeks that they've been displaced from their home.
Here in Nabatiye, this is normally a town of some 70,000. By no means are everybody back in their homes, but certainly in the past couple of hours, particularly, many cars pouring in, many of them carrying pictures of Hezbollah's chief, Hassan Nasrallah. Many of them carrying Hezbollah's yellow flag and showing the "V" for victory sign. No doubt in anyone's minds here that from their perspective, they feel that they have come out on top of this conflict.
I just want to take you for a quick look behind me here of the scenes of devastation. In this side street of one of the main roads in Nabatiye, multi-story buildings have collapsed as a result of air strikes. Eyewitnesses here telling me that seven people died when the Israelis struck this commercial district.
I've looked around the rubble. I can tell you this area was shops, dress shops, men's shops, as well as food stores, trinket stores. Really, a lot of people now asking why it was that Israel concentrated so much of its fire power on this particular part of Nabatiye.
There were no Hezbollah Katyusha rockets, say eyewitnesses and those returning home, fired form this location. So they are angry, and, of course, they are shocked and bewildered at the levels of destruction here.
I have seen people hugging, I've seen people crying. But over and above all, I have seen people coming back here, grimly determined to see what's left of their homes and their livelihoods and basically raising Hezbollah's flag in triumph as they return back to this rubble -- Hala.
GORANI: Brent, is there any level of confidence among ordinary residents of Nabatiye that this cease-fire will hold?
SADLER: We have heard the warnings from the Israeli Defense Forces that it's dangerous for people to come to the south, all of south, not just south of the Litani River. But people have had it set in their minds that once that cessation of hostilities deadline came into effect, they would come here.
There's been no attempt by the government to stop them coming back. Israel has warned them that there are dangerous explosives, unexploded bombs lying in many parts. And also, Israel has said that they're continuing -- the Israeli military continuing with what they call ongoing defensive military activity.
So, the Israelis say they shouldn't be coming back. But as you can see behind me here, women now looking at the devastation. Cars coming in, driving through this street. You can hear the mosques in the background now coming alive because it's time for prayer in the evening.
And I've also seen loud speakers, again flying Hezbollah flags, as activists, supporters of Hezbollah have told people who are coming back to attend funerals for three victims of the air strikes tomorrow. So you can see the organization, the life of this city, is coming back. And many people I speak to tell me they've come back also not just to restart lives out of this rubble, but also as an act, they say, of resistance in support of Hezbollah -- Hala.
GORANI: All right. Brent Sadler, our Beirut bureau chief there, reporting live from Nabatiye.
Well, Lebanon's finance minister says both Israel and Lebanon have to see progress on the ground to reach a level of trust between the two countries. He also said this was the first step in a longer- term process.
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JIHAD AZOUR, LEBANESE FINANCE MINISTER: I hope it will stick, because this is the beginning of process. It's not the end. We have to work now very actively, diplomatically to achieve the various steps in order to reach a permanent solution, a solution whereby the security will be achieved on both sides on of the border.
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GORANI: Jihad Azour there, the Lebanese finance minister.
Ehud Olmert says Israel will continue to pursuit Hezbollah leaders. The Israeli prime minister addressed a special session of parliament on Monday. He says the conflict has hurt Hezbollah's capabilities, its arsenal, and its confidence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EHUD OLMERT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The soldiers of the IDF have struck a major blow at this murderous organization. The extent of this blow is not yet known. But in terms of its long-term capabilities, its enormous arsenal of arms that it built up and stockpiled for many, many years, and also with regard of its self-confidence and the self-confidence of its personnel and its leaders...
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GORANI: Well, Mr. Olmert who has been criticized by some for his handling of the war, was heckled there, as you can see, by some of the legislators.
What is the level of confidence on the Israel-Lebanon border, the scene of much of the clashes there, especially in the southern part of the country?
Our Matthew Chance has been covering the conflict from there practically since hostilities began, and he joins us now live -- Matthew.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Hala.
Well, the confidence is certainly building up hour by hour. It's been more than 11 hours now, as you pointed out, since the cease-fire came into force. And I'm talking to you now from one of the artillery batteries in the north of Israel, just overlooking the Israeli border. A site from which Israeli guns have been really pounding positions in south Lebanon for the past several weeks.
This is the first time in that period that anybody here has seen them so quiet. And it's a similar story about the fire coming in the other direction as well. According to the Israeli police that we have spoken to, there hasn't been one single Katyusha rocket fall on Israeli territory since the cease-fire came into force.
There have been transgressions, of course. There have been clashes between Israeli forces and Hezbollah suspects in south Lebanon.
At least four instances are being reporting to us, in fact, by the Israeli military. On all of those occasions, the Israeli military fired at what they believed to be Hezbollah fighters who were advancing towards their positions on the ground. So there is a sort of fragile nature to this, plenty of room for tensions to build and expand beyond those isolated clashes.
Remember, Israel has at least 30,000 ground troops still in southern Lebanon. And Hezbollah has said that it will continue to fight those troops until they're finally out of Lebanon altogether and a multinational force has come in. And so there is plenty of potential there for this cease-fire to be literally blown out of the -- out of the air, out of the water -- Hala.
GORANI: Thanks, Matthew.
We're going to have a lot more on this. We'll be speaking to the U.N. special envoy to the Middle East, Alvaro De Soto, after a break.
Stay with us.
STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I'm Stephen Frazier with news from outside the Middle East, including the threat level lowered in Britain. But the threat apparently not gone, the Message from British officials today. as they change their country's terror threat level from critical to severe. Investigations are still under way, and security there still tight.
So, what has changed?
Robin Oakley reports.
ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When police swooped last week to round up suspects over the plot to bomb airliners en route from Britain to the United States, intelligence chiefs feared an instant terrorist response. They hoisted the security alert level to critical, implying an immediate attack.
Come Monday, that was loosened a notch.
JOHN REID, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: Just after midnight, the Joint Terrorism and Analysis Centre, known as JTAC, changed the United Kingdom's threat level from international terrorism, from critical to severe. This means that the terrorist attack is still highly likely, but the intelligence assessment suggests that such an attack is no longer imminent.
OAKLEY: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security simultaneously downgraded the U.S. threat level from the maximum, red, to orange for flights from the U.K. But U.K. intelligence sources are still watching upwards of a thousand potential terrorists. Dr. Reid said there were at least two dozen other plots being investigated.
REID: I want to stress, therefore, that the change in the threat level doesn't mean that the threat has gone away. The public needs to know that there may be other people out there who may be planning to attack against the United Kingdom.
OAKLEY: The 23 suspects still being held are Muslims aged from 17 to 35, which has increased alarm among their community. Some British Muslims complain of unfair targeting, and a number of their leaders, including three of the four Muslim members of the House of Commons, have signed a protest warning that Tony Blair's foreign policy over Iraq and Lebanon was playing into the hands of extremists. Communities minister Ruth Kelly met Muslims on Monday to hear their concerns.
(on camera): The lessened state of alert reflects police confidence that the main suspects over the planned attacks on transatlantic airliners are in custody. But ministers were shocked by the scale of the plans, and with at least two other dozens plots being investigated, there will be no letup in public vigilance.
Robin Oakley, CNN, London. FRAZIER: And neither is there any letup in the investigation, either.
For more on that, let's go to CNN's Dan Rivers on the streets of London.
Dan, what do you know now?
DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I have had a briefing from a security source with knowledge of the current investigation. Let me give you the headlines of what we know so far from this source.
He was suggesting that -- that some of the suspects who are currently detained by the police here may be released without charge. They're saying that they're standing by the intelligence against those suspects, but there may not simply be enough evidence to charge them.
Also, pouring doubt on reports of a link with one of Pakistan's most wanted supposed terror suspects with links to al Qaeda, Matiur Rehman. That suggestion now is that there may not be an obvious immediate link that they have uncovered so far. They are investigating, of course, but doubts being put on any link to him.
But there is a fear and a genuine fear of copy-cat attacks now that this plot, suspected plot, has been disrupted. The source saying that after 7/7 attacks last year, last summer, there were three separate plots in the following three months after those atrocities, two of which have gone through the courts, one of which no charges were pressed.
But they fear that those subsequent plots were influenced and encouraged by the 7/7 attacks, and that the same thing may happen this time. That militants out there -- and he said they are watching a number of other plots, and that this was just one of a dozen or so plots that they were -- they were actively watching, maybe encouraged, maybe influenced to bring their -- bring their attacks forward.
And for that reason, although the threat level has been decreased from critical to severe, it will remain at severe for the foreseeable future. And really, they're painting a pretty bleak picture that, you know, all of the officers who had been working on this inquiry with the security service, MI5, have already been redeployed to other inquiries such as the urgency of some of these other plots.
So, while there is some good news that the threat of an imminent attack has been removed with the arrests of these suspects, emphasizing really that we're still on a severe watch and that an attack is still highly likely.
FRAZIER: All right. Dan Rivers in London.
Dan, thank you very much
Directly back now to Beirut and more from Hala.
GORANI: All right. Stephen, thanks very much. Well, the European Union foreign policy's chief, Javier Solana, says preparations are under way to quickly deploy 4,000 troops to southern Lebanon. Of course, the U.N. Security Council resolution that was passed a few days ago authorizes 15,000 troops to be deployed to the region.
Here's a potential breakdown.
Military analysts expect France could provide up to 5,000 troops and would be in command of the overall force. Italy says it's ready to send between 2,000 and 3,000 troops to Lebanon as part of this planned U.N. force.
Finland's government is saying it could say 200 peacekeepers to Lebanon. Australia says it will consider contributing only a small niche group of troops to the proposed peacekeeping force. Some of the other countries considering sending troops are Indonesia, Portugal and Spain.
Well, it took the United Nations about a month to come up with a resolution that satisfied both sides, and many pitfalls still remain in Resolution 1701 to bring about lasting peace.
For more on this, we go to Alvaro De Soto. He's the U.N. special envoy to the region.
Mr. De Soto, thanks for being with us. I'm going to ask you the question I've asked all of our guests this day. Eleven hours into this cease-fire, how confident are you that this truce will hold?
ALVARO DE SOTO, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY: Well, I think -- I think there are grounds for optimism. My colleagues in Beirut and in southern Lebanon report an almost eerie silence. They have become accustomed to exactly the contrary lately. And we have the sense that the determination of the parties to go along with this cease-fire is likely to hold.
GORANI: The big issue now is the deployment of that U.N. special force, also the deployment into southern Lebanon of the regular Lebanese army.
What timetable are we looking at right now for that?
DE SOTO: Well, the timetable is simply as soon as possible. But bear in mind that we're not starting from scratch.
We have a United Nations presence there already, the 2,000 brave men of UNIFIL, plus military observers from another U.N. outfit, UNSO. And they have a mandate, among other things, to monitor the cessation of hostilities. And so they are able at least to initiate the work of making sure that things stick, and certainly to initiate the preparations for all of the things that happen in parallel, the deployment of the Lebanese armed forces, of the enhanced presence of UNIFIL, and also the crucial withdrawal of Israel.
GORANI: Now, we have heard from various sources, and high-level ones, as well, here in Lebanon, that Hezbollah is saying that it is not necessarily willing to disarm in southern Lebanon, perhaps just not use its arms for now. But those two are very different things.
Would that, do you think, threaten and jeopardize a U.N. force and a lasting peace in that part of the country if that happens?
DE SOTO: Well, we believe that Hezbollah, which, by the way, is a part of the government of Lebanon, they have got cabinet ministers, is bound to respect the resolution and the cessation of hostilities that is already enforced, despite the reservations that it has about it, which, by the way, the others also have. They are bound to it.
Now, what the resolution provides for in the immediate is creating a situation where you will only have Lebanese forces and UNIFIL forces, period. That's in a zone that's between the blue line that separates Lebanon and Israel and the Litani River northward.
Now, that -- ensuring that, bringing that about, is the responsibility of the government of Lebanon. And, of course, we are there as the United Nations to assist in bringing that about. But there's a clear commitment there, and until there is a movement in a different direction, we have to believe that Hezbollah is committed to comply.
GORANI: All right. It's a wait-and-see situation right now for many people in the region.
Alvaro De Soto, the U.N. special envoy to the Middle East, many thanks for joining us here on YOUR WORLD TODAY.
Well, let's ask you our "Question of the Day" now. To all of our viewers in the United States and elsewhere around the world, do you think the cease-fire will hold?
Send us your responses, firstname.lastname@example.org. And also tell us, if you don't think the cease-fire will hold, tell us why. If you do, tell us why as well.
We'll read some of your responses later on the air.
All right. An update on the condition of Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister of Israel.
He is still hanging on, but his doctors are saying that his condition is worsening this day. Hospital officials say the condition of the former Israeli prime minister is deteriorating. The announcement comes nearly three weeks after Sharon was transferred to intensive care.
He's been comatose since suffering a massive stroke in January. He suffered a minor stroke before that in December.
All right. We're going to have a lot more here on YOUR WORLD TODAY after a short break.
Don't go away. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Daryn Kagan at CNN Center in Atlanta.
More of YOUR WORLD TODAY in just a few minutes.
First, though, let's check stories making headlines here in the U.S.
From code red to code orange, the Department of Homeland Security lowers the threat level for flights from the U.S. to Britain. The risk of attack now considered high rather than severe. Authorities say both domestic and international flights will remain under a heightened level of security. The move comes four days after British police say they busted a plot to bomb U.S.-bound airliners.
Airport security remains tight today. In fact, the TSA has added a precaution. All air travelers must now remove their shoes and have them x-rayed.
Also, some tweaks to the carry-on restrictions. The general no liquids rule still holds, but travelers with infants can now carry baby food, as well as milk or formula, which were allowed under the old rules.
Diabetics can bring insulin or glucose gel aboard. And small amounts of over-the-counter liquid medicine are now permitted, as well as prescription drugs in the passenger's name.
Lipstick is OK now, ladies, but leave those liquid glosses at home. You'll find the full list of do's and don'ts at tsa.gov.
Alarm bells in Michigan, they're prompted by an unusually large cell phone purchase.
Coast Guard patrols add to the increased security surrounding the Mackinac Bridge this morning. The Mackinac Bridge this morning. The five-mile span links upper and lower Michigan.
Three Texas men suspected of targeting the bridge are in custody on terror-related charges. They were arrested outside of a Wal-Mart on Friday. Police say they found nearly 1,000 cell phones in their rented van.
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SCOTT WEBER, FMR. DHS COUNSEL: There's two things primarily that the cell phones could be used for. One, is from an operational standpoint, making quick calls, dumping the phones and going to another phone. They're not easy to trace.
The other is use as detonation devices. So, with the batteries not in the phones, one has to question whether these phones were actually going to be used as cell phones.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAGAN: In a separate case, two men are under arrest in Ohio on similar charges. Police say in addition to buying hundreds of cell phones, the two had copies of an airline passenger list and details about airport security checkpoints.
They were the subjects of a nationwide manhunt. Now all 11 Egyptian college students who failed to show up for classes in Montana are in custody today. The final two were picked up last night in Richmond, Virginia. The FBI says none of the students pose a terrorism risk.
A type of bird flu has been detected in Michigan. Scientists discovered it in two wild mute (ph) swans. That's according to officials with the Agriculture Department. The birds might have the H5N1 virus. More tests are under way.
Officials at the Agriculture Department say they don't believe this virus poses a risk to human health. Initial tests show it is not the particular strain that has spread through birds in Asia.
Let's go ahead and check in and see what's happening in the world of weather.
KAGAN: Am I dating myself when I bring up Boy George? Do you remember Boy George?
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: No, you're not, because I do remember him.
KAGAN: OK, I feel better about that. Well, he's that pop icon from the 1980s. The flamboyant frontman for Culture Club is launching a new kind of tour, no tickets needed here. All this week, Boy George is sweeping New York City sidewalks as part of his community service for falsely reporting a burglary. The officers who responded, it turns out, found cocaine instead. All right.
Coming up 1:00 p.m., "LIVE FROM" picks up special coverage of "Target: USA," and we want to hit send. Where do you think the U.S. is most vulnerable and what do you see as a solution? Send us e-mail to email@example.com and then tune in at 1:00 p.m. to see if Kyra reads your e-mail.
Meanwhile, YOUR WORLD TODAY continues after a quick break. I'm Daryn Kagan.
GORANI: Welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY. (INAUDIBLE) I'm Hala Gorani. (INAUDIBLE) top stories we're following for you.
Ten of thousands of Lebanese are wasting no time (INAUDIBLE). I apologize. Let's put my microphone on here. After a U.N.- brokered ceasefire went into effect, they're crowding roadways in the south, despite Israel's warning that the area still isn't safe for travel.
The truce appears to be holding, but there have been sporadic clashes between Israeli troops and Hezbollah. Lebanese and Israel military officials met with the head of U.N. forces in south Lebanon Monday to talk about the transfer of territory now under Israeli control.
In Iraq, insurgents have stepped up attacks in Baghdad. More than 65 people have died in the past three days alone, including 13 killed in bombs and other violence on Monday. Iraqi officials say bombs and rocket attacks on the weekend left dozens dead, and 160 wounded in the Zafrania (ph) area. But the U.S. military says most deaths were caused in that case by a natural gas explosion.
The threat level is lowered, but officials say that travelers' vigilance should not be. Britain Home Secretary John Reid announced that his government has lowered the terror threat level from critical to severe. Reid says the move does not mean that danger has passed, and that the threat of a terrorist attack remains serious.
Well, back if the Middle East, as many Lebanese try to make their way home, sometimes they're finding that their homes and even businesses have been destroyed. Our Jim Clancy visited one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in southern Beirut, and sent us this story.
JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the southern suburb of Ruais (ph), hit Sunday by multiple missiles; an entire city block of apartment buildings and shops still smoldering. The acrid smoke from burning carpet and upholstery burns the lungs of rescue workers hoping to reach victims still trapped.
The rumor on street is that Israeli intelligence believed Hassan Nasrallah was here. He wasn't. But in one of the last gasps of the 32-day bombing campaign, Israeli forces crushed the life out of anyone who was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is all the gift of the United States. They are shipping the missiles (INAUDIBLE) to bomb this residential area, to kill the children. You know how many people (INAUDIBLE)? It's more than fifteen!
CLANCY: A claim that can't be confirmed. Hundreds of people stand along the perimeter, watching the diggers and bulldozers, breathing in Beirut's agony. The roads into the southern suburbs are tangled with traffic. Hezbollah's activist passed out posters and banners, declaring divine victory to motorists, returning to see what's left of their homes, if anything at all.
Earlier, Israel sent a declaration of its own in leaflets delivered by naval, artillery and air bursts. The message? Whatever damage was done, Nasrallah and Hezbollah are the culprits.
(on camera): Blaming Hezbollah is a message that isn't even heard here, and victory? We didn't see anyone celebrating. But you can see something if you look hard into the faces of the people of Beirut's southern suburbs, just two hours into this ceasefire.
(voice-over): There's a collective bewilderment at how all of this is going to be put back together. There is hurt and pain, a sense of loss; of family first, friends, even strangers, to die like this. And there is anger and determination, especially among the Shia, that speaks volumes at how Israel's military strategy has served to strengthen Hezbollah and its leader.
In the smoke and dust, the ceasefire gets under way in the southern suburbs. Somehow, there is a sense you'd better hurry, get to the top, make your gestures, wave the flag and hail the leader. This may not last very long.
Jim Clancy, CNN, Beirut.
GORANI: All right. Let's take a look at the latest casualty figures here after a more than a month of fighting. Authorities in Lebanon say at least 890 Lebanese have been killed. Israel counts at least 159 dead. Israel Defense Forces say 53 of those were civilians killed in rocket attacks by Hezbollah. The IDF reports 865 people have been wounded in the month-long battle. Lebanese internal security forces report more than 3,800 wounded, most of them civilians.
Well, with the loss of life on both sides and heavy damage to Lebanon's infrastructure, the question on everybody's mind today as we enter the 12th hour of this U.N.-brokered ceasefire is, quite simply, will it last?
I'm joined Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, the assistant professor of political science at the Lebanese-American University. Amal, thanks for being with us.
We're just a few hours into this. And the question for many Lebanese and Israelis, as well as what happens in a few weeks, what happens in a few months? What's your analysis on this?
AMAL SAAD-GHORAYEB, LEBANESE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: You know, obviously, I mean, in the very short term, I don't think we're going to see an end to hostilities. I think much now depends both on the cabinets -- internal cabinet split that's occurring.
Basically the political majority has asked to discuss Hezbollah's disarmament in another session of the cabinet. Hezbollah ministers have refused. And so that could very well affect, you know, the deployment of the army. It could affect the deployment of UNIFIL forces in Lebanon. So that's the first hurdle that has to be overcome before we talk about the medium terms.
GORANI: All right. Hezbollah ministers are refusing to talk about it. But once they do accept to talk about it, because at some point the political dialogue will have to start up again, then what? Will Hezbollah lay down its arms, do you think? SAAD-GHORAYEB: No, it's out of the question. I mean, Hezbollah has said on many occasions, even in private interviews that I've had with them before this conflict, during this conflict, that there's no way, that, you know, given that the balance of power has shifted, in Hezbollah's power to its favor, that it sees any need to disarm.
In fact the hostilities are ongoing. Israeli continues to occupy the Shebaa Farms. It may take quite a while before the U.N. resolved that issue. You've still got the prisoner exchange, you know, still being negotiated there, will be eventually, and of course there's the fact that Israeli forces are still on Lebanese soil. So it's premature to discuss disarmament.
GORANI: All right, but if everything goes according to plan, maybe not in a few hours, maybe not in a few days, but in a few days, the Shebaa Farms are returned to Lebanon, the prisoner swap, for instance, happens, then is the reason for existence for Hezbollah removed from the equation?
SAAD-GHORAYEB: I wouldn't say so actually, because Hezbollah has never linked its raison d'etre with the Shebaa Farms or Lebanese territory. It has always said, fine, you know, when that happens, we'll definitely enter a dialogue, and they already did actually before this conflict, about the fate of arms, about a national defense strategy. And perhaps they could work out some formula with the government to coordinate with the army.
But as far as Hezbollah is concerned, Lebanon really is in the midst of a wider, a much wider regional conflict. And if anything, the U.S. involvement in this conflict, its support for Israel, has only really heightened those fears that we can't extricate Lebanon from the Arab-Israeli conflict.
GORANI: So, wait, because the perception we were getting in the last week, 10 days, is that Hezbollah has agreed with the Lebanese government on its seven-point plain, which calls for a Southern Lebanon that is free of all arms except for the regular Lebanese army and a strengthened UNIFIL force. Did we misunderstand that?
SAAD-GHORAYEB: Well, it's all a matter of semantics basically. When the government say about that seven-point plan, that the Lebanese army or the Lebanese state would have the monopoly over the arms, this could not, in Hezbollah's understanding, mean that Hezbollah would be disarmed. I think what they thought was going to happen was weapons deactivation, but not disarmament. You know, it's not the same thing.
GORANI: Wait, so we're looking potentially at a conflict that will continue on and on if this case. If Hezbollah remains a state within a state, this is not something that's going to satisfy either the Lebanese government or the Israel government, correct?
SAAD-GHORAYEB: Well, I mean, that's obvious, and this is why -- this issue has to be discussed internally. It going to take some time. It can not be resolved in one cabinet session. It necessitates a continuation of the national dialogue to discuss this, and Hezbollah is awaiting convincing counterproposals that would ensure that Lebanon's borders are secure from an Israeli -- another Israeli onslaught.
GORANI: We have a few seconds. But you've spoken to very high- level Hezbollah officials. Are they giving you any indication that they're going to stop fighting against Israeli forces, regardless of whether or not Israeli soldiers are on Lebanese soil?
SAAD-GHORAYEB: Basically if Israeli forces withdraws from all Lebanese territory, Hezbollah is not going to initiate attacks against Israel. I mean, that's (INAUDIBLE). However, Hezbollah believes that it should always remain in an armed state of alert, and that the resistance would then switch from a liberation role to a defensive or deterrent role.
GORANI: All right, thanks very much, Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, assistant professor of political science for the Lebanese American University.
And just a quick note for our viewers, if they'd like to read your report, it's at carnegieendowment.org. Thanks very much, Amal, for joining us.
All right, we're going to take a short break. When we come back, what can't you bring on a plane now after the thwarted alleged terror plot in Britain. What are the rules? Could there be any surprises when you get to the airport? We'll try to clear it up for you, when we return.
KAGAN: I'm Daryn Kagan. We're watching live pictures unfold. This is LAX in Los Angeles. Alaska Airlines flight 281 that came in from Guadalajara, Mexico had some sort of suspicious package onboard. The plane was sent to a remote part of the airport, It landed safely. All 125 people onboard were taken off the plane. they're fine. Now federal and local law enforcement are on sight. They're trying to determine what is behind that package right now.
Once again, a suspicious package onboard on Alaska Airlines flight that has landed safely at Los Angeles International Airport.
We're going to rejoin now YOUR WORLD TODAY in progress.
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FINIGHAN: ... from Tuesday the strict rules on hand luggage introduced last week will be relaxed.
(on camera): Now in the good old days, no waiting at the luggage carousel for me. This is what I used to take, this hand luggage. And into this, I could fit more or less everything I needed for a five-day business day.
However, under the new rules this is all I'll be allowed to take onboard. Not much I can get into this, (INAUDIBLE) a toothbrush and a change of underwear.
(voice-over): My new bag has to be no more than 45x35x16 centimeters. And as before, its liquids that security staff are most concerned about. No toiletries or contact lens solution, though I can take on enough prescription medicine for my journey. And baby milk, as long as I taste it front of security staff.
Better news for the business travelers: I'm now allowed to take e electronic items, like my laptop and my mobile phone, onboard. Actually you'll be amazed what you can get into such a small bag with some inventive packing.
Passengers at Heathrow welcome the less stringent rules, and accept that safety comes before convenience.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I do. I think it makes it easier for them to check the bags. I think safety's the important thing. I want to be safe going back. So yes, I'll do whatever needs to be done to get back safely.
FINIGHAN (on camera): So for me and thousands of other business travelers for the moment, our trusty handbaggage goes into the hold.
(voice-over): Heading for the airport, I'm Adrian Finighan, CNN, London.
GORANI: All right, well, back to Middle East now. And Israel and the United States have often accused Syria and also Iran of financing and supporting Hezbollah militarily.
Our Aneesh Raman sat down with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and asked about ties between Tehran and Hezbollah. And he joins us now on the line from the Iranian capital.
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, hi.
The chief nuclear negotiator, Dr. Ali Larijani, also the head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council. I asked him about persistent allegations that Iran is fighting a proxy war with Israel through Hezbollah, reports that we have reported that in the past few weeks Iran might have transported on commercial flights further arms to Hezbollah; in any way, shape, or form, are they arming the group? Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALI LARIJANI, IRAN'S CHIEF NUCLEAR NEGOTIATOR (through translator): Hezbollah does not need Iranian weapons. You can find anything on the market. The weapons Hezbollah uses are not that hard to find.
And by the way, the Americans haven't admitted that they are supplying Israeli with weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAMAN: And that seemed the strategy throughout this interview. Every question that was asked, it was turned in answer to comments made about the United States. When I asked about the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, strong suggestions Iran is festering civil unrest in Iraq, Dr. Larijani said, it is the U.S. that wants civil war, and that he has Information that the U.S. ambassador has met with Sunni insurgents and told to attack Iran.
When I asked about suggestions Iran had orchestrated this war to divert attention from the nuclear issue, again, he said, it's actually the U.S. and Israel that did this. How would Iran have known what Israel's response would be? Iran, of course, faces a nuclear deadline at the end of the month, no sign it is willing to suspend its uranium enrichment. The question here, at what expense for Iran's government is defiance against the U.S. worth? -- Hala.
GORANI: All right. Aneesh Raman, reporting live from Tehran. Thanks very much.
You're with YOUR WORLD TODAY. We'll be right back after a short break. Don't go away.
KAGAN: I'm Daryn Kagan. Want to get back to this developing situation at LAX in Southern California. A suspicious package found onboard this Alaska Airlines flight. It came in from Guadalajara, Mexico.
Let's bring in Harold Johnson, a spokesman for LAX. He's on the phone with me. What can you tell me, Mr. Johnson?
HAROLD JOHNSON, LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: At 8:21 a.m., Los Angeles airport police received notification from Alaska Airlines that their Flight 281 inbound to Los Angeles International Airport had an item onboard that didn't belong to any of the passengers.
KAGAN: And at that point, the plane landed safely, everyone's been deplaned. Was anybody detained?
JOHNSON: No one's being detained at this moment. The Los Angeles Airport police are checking out the item right now.
KAGAN: And where is it on the plane? Can you tell me?
JOHNSON: No, I don't know the location or the description of the item at this time.
KAGAN: And has it affected any of the other traffic at LAX?
JOHNSON: No, this has not interrupted flight operations at LAX.
KAGAN: So this plane's been taken off to a more remote part of the airport?
JOHNSON: That's correct. We have the west side of the airport, where this was used -- that is standard procedure in these cases.
KAGAN: All right. We will keep monitoring that. Harold Johnson at LAX, thank you.
Once again, a suspicious package that is described not belonging to any of the 100 or so passengers that were on board flight Alaskan Airlines 281 coming in from Guadalajara, Mexico. It landed. Everyone deplaned. And now they're investigating what that package could be.
We'll continue to track that story as more information becomes available. I'm Daryn Kagan. We join YOUR WORLD TODAY.
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NEILL: Well, people will rarely tell you that in public. They will say that they have all of the confidence in the world in Raul Castro's leadership, and that the revolution will continue. As a matter of fact, we've seen that in much of the state-run media.
Nevertheless, it's -- no one can deny that the charisma of Fidel Castro is be, if not impossible, extremely difficult to replace. People here -- most -- some seven out of 10 Cubans have never lived under another leader. So it's just difficult for most people to imagine anything different than the way they've known it all their lives -- Stephen.
FRAZIER: All right. From the streets of Havana, our Morgan Neill. Morgan, thanks very much. And now, back to Hala in Beirut.
GORANI: Thank you, Stephen.
Well, the ceasefire came into effect 12 hours ago. It appears to be holding, despite some sporadic clashes in the southern part of the country. And what we're seeing, as well, and what you're hearing now are fireworks there. A little bit to the south to me here, individuals presumably and perhaps celebrating the fact that, at least for now, the cessation of hostilities seems to be holding and sticking.
And what we're also seeing in Lebanon this day is thousands upon thousands of displaced Lebanese returning home to the southern part of the country, and some of those towns and villages that they fled when the fighting began more than one month ago.
All right, we've been asking our viewers the question, do you think the ceasefire will hold? Here are some of your answers.
Olecs (ph) in Malayasia writes, "War destroys lives and nations. I pray that the ceasefire holds, but that can only happen with the strong cooperation of Lebanon's government."
Other responses. Ben in Belgium believes that the ceasefire will hold for now. "Neither side wants to see more helpless people trying to go back home to more destruction in south Lebanon."
All right. And that's a quick sampling of your views there.
Thanks for watching YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Hala Gorani in Beirut. From me and from Stephen Frazier at the CNN Center, thanks for watching, and do stay with us. The news continues on CNN.
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