A Tribute to Lebanese Independence Government and Prime Minister Saniora

(picture: Prime Minister of Lebanon Fouad al-Saniora)

Lebanese independence government got the job done in Lebanon. Yes, the heroic government did it led by an extraordinary statesman, a real hero is Fouad al-Saniora.

This government achieved the political independence from the Baath occupation and made Lebanon a free, sovereign and independent country under the sole and exclusive authority of the government of Lebanon after long decades of totalitarian occupation.

This government extended the state's control over all Lebanese territory and ended the Iranian canton of Hezbullah armed militia in southern Lebanon, which came back to the Lebanese Republic.

This government achieved the international tribunal for Lebanon (Special Tribunal for Lebanon) to protect Lebanon and save the freedom, democracy and independence of Lebanon in spite of all sacrifices and painful costs it had to pay.

This government saved Lebanon, maintained the civilization in Lebanon, and protected the diversity and public freedoms in Lebanon despite the huge challenges posed by the barbarian armed-militia of Hezbullah with its allies of bandits and thugs representing the Middle East Totalitarian Axis led by Iranian regime and al-Baath. And it never let this totalitarian criminal axis win in Lebanon despite this axis' tremendous criminality and violence shown and exerted in Lebanon.

This government protected the Christian presence in Lebanon and Christians' potential presence in Lebanon as the center of the Christian presence in the East despite the Iranian project of the Middle East, so-called the "Islamic Middle East." And I acknowledge that as a Christian.

This government saved and protected peacefully Lebanon's democracy, democratic institutions, the constitution and the rule of law, and defeated all violent attempts of Iranian-Baath barbarian armed militias to take over the country.

This heroic government never gave up until the last minute of its constitutional mandate even when the democratic world, especially Europe, let Lebanon down in front of the Middle East Totalitarian Axis and its barbarian armed militias.

Now, as the constitutional mandate of this government, the independence government, came to an end, I urge the entire civilized world and all free and civilized people around the world to pay tribute to this heroic and historic government, especially to its head Prime Minister Fouad al-Saniora.

Nassim Yaziji


News Concerning Middle East Reform

This is the news section of May issue of Arab Reform Bulletin Published by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

- Egypt: Salary and Price Increases; Local Elections; Brothers Sentenced
- Kuwait: Elections; Tribal Demonstration; Anti-demonstration Law Revoked
- Bahrain: New Press Bill; Minister Questioned on Naturalization
- Yemen: Qatari Mediation; MP Killed; Newspaper License Revoked
- Saudi Arabia: Blogger Released
- Iraq: Journalists Released
- Jordan: Political Party Law; Brotherhood Selects Leaders; Prison Demonstrations
- Syria: Economic Initiatives; Activist Sentenced
- Lebanon: Political Deadlock Continues; Worker Protests
- Tunisia: Opposition Newspaper Seized; Appeals Court Upholds Journalist Sentence
- Algeria: Ban on Passport Photos with Veil and Beard Contested
- Morocco: Criminalizing Violence against Women; Demonstrators Pardoned
- Sudan: Efforts to End Censorship

Egypt: Salary and Price Increases; Local Elections; Brothers Sentenced

The Egyptian parliament rushed through a package of increases in the price of fuel, cigarettes, and vehicle licenses on May 5 in order to pay for a 30 percent increase in public sector salaries proposed by President Hosni Mubarak on April 30. Several cabinet members and National Democratic Party (NDP) parliamentarians reportedly opposed the price increases, which passed in the People’s Assembly by a vote of 297 to 76 (the NDP holds 366 of the Assembly’s 454 seats). The steep increases—roughly 40 per cent for gasoline, for example—were implemented May 6. Click here for more information.

The government’s moves followed strikes on April 6 and May 4 to protest inflation, low wages, and poor worker conditions. The April 6 strike was not widely observed, but there were protests in several cities and some industrial workers, particularly in the Nile Delta town of al-Mahalla al-Kubra, took to the streets and defaced pictures of President Mubarak. Security forces clashed with protesters in al-Mahalla, leading to one reported death. Authorities arrested several well-known opposition figures, including Kifaya activists George Ishaq and Mohammed Abdel Quddus, on suspicion of instigating the April 6 protests; they were released a few days later. Facebook organizer Isra Abdel Fattah was arrested and held until April 23. The May 4 strike, called to mark Mubarak’s eightieth birthday, drew weak participation although the Muslim Brotherhood called on its members to participate. Click here for more information.

On April 8, the National Democratic Party won over 95 percent of the 53,000 seats in local council elections. The Muslim Brotherhood announced a last-minute boycott of the elections after nearly all of its candidates—as well as most candidates from legal opposition parties—were prevented from registering. Independent civil society monitors were denied permission to observe elections, but informal reports suggest that voter turnout was extremely low.

On April 15, an Egyptian military court convicted twenty-five members of the Muslim Brotherhood (five in absentia) for membership in an illegal organization and attempting to revive its military wing. Fifteen were acquitted, but the rest received unusually harsh sentences ranging from three to ten years in prison. Those tried in absentia in particular received 10 year sentences. Deputy Supreme Guide Khayrat al-Shatir, the third highest-ranking Brotherhood leader, was sentenced to seven years in prison. Amnesty International issued a statement condemning the trial.

Kuwait: Elections; Tribal Demonstration; Anti-demonstration Law Revoked

On May 17, Kuwait will hold general elections for fifty parliamentary seats; an additional fifteen ministers sit in the assembly as ex officio members. The parliament was dissolved March 19 following resignation of the cabinet. Some 360,000 Kuwaitis over age 21 are eligible to vote. This will be the second general election in which women will participate, and the first since electoral districts were reduced from twenty-five to five. Non governmental organizations such as the Kuwaiti Association for Developing Democracy and Kuwait Transparency Association plan to monitor the elections. The main political blocks include the Islamic Constitutional Movement, the Salafi Movement, the National Islamic Alliance, and the liberal National Democratic Movement.

On May 4, thousands of Kuwaitis protested in front of a government security building demanding the release of members of the Mateer tribe arrested for carrying out unauthorized tribal primaries. Click here for more details in Arabic.

On April 14, the Kuwaiti government reversed a recent law banning public assembly and peaceful demonstrations. The law contradicted a prior ruling of Kuwait’s Constitutional Court granting Kuwaitis the right to demonstrate peacefully and was passed by decree on April 7 after the parliament had been dissolved. The government withdrew the new law after much public criticism and demonstrations. Click here for more details in Arabic.

Bahrain: New Press Bill; Minister Questioned on Naturalization

On May 6, Bahraini Information Minister Jihad Bin Hassan Bukamal proposed a new press law. The bill reportedly will abrogate jail sentences for journalists but imprisonment will still be possible in cases of insulting religion or the ruler or compromising national unity. The bill was passed to the parliament for review and approval. Click here for additional details.

On April 29, Bahraini opposition MPs prevented pro-government legislators from excluding the prime minister and his deputies from recently-passed legislation that requires financial disclosure from top government officials. The new law requires financial statements and asserts the right to investigate any suspicious accumulation of wealth by ministers and members of parliament and their spouses. Click here for additional information.

On April 24, the parliament questioned Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Ahmed bin Attiyatallah al-Khalifain about accusations of tampering with national statistics and willfully providing incorrect data. The minister was accused of doing so as part of an effort to naturalize large numbers of Sunnis in order to tip the demographic balance. Al-Khalifain refuted all allegations but Shi’i opposition deputies said they intend to call him for more questioning. Click here for more information in Arabic.

Yemen: Qatari Mediation; MP Killed; Newspaper License Revoked

Qatar has launched a mediation process between the Yemeni government and Abdel Malik al-Houthi, leader of a Zaidi rebellion in the north. The first meeting among Qatari mediators, Yemeni government officials, and representatives of al-Houthi took place on May 4. Click here for more information in Arabic.

Yemeni MP Saleh Hendi was killed on April 18 near Saada governorate, where government forces have been fighting with rebels.

On April 5, the Yemeni government revoked the license of al-Wasat newspaper on accusations of harming relations with Saudi Arabia. The newspaper published an article alleging that Saudi Arabia was responsible for smuggling and abusing Yemeni children. The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement on April 7 condemning the Yemeni government’s decision.

Saudi Arabia: Blogger Released

Saudi blogger Fouad al-Farhan, detained since December 2007, was released on April 27. Various international organizations and other Saudi bloggers have been calling for his release. Click here for more information.

Iraq: Journalists Released

Iraqi forces freed CBS news journalist Richard Butler on April 14. He had been abducted, along with his interpreter, two months earlier in Basra. The interpreter was released a few days after the abduction.

U.S. forces freed Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein on April 16, after a two-year detention. Hussein was accused of cooperating with insurgents but no evidence against him was ever disclosed. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented several cases in which the U.S. military detained journalists without charges or evidence. Click here for additional information.

Jordan: Political Party Law; Brotherhood Selects Leaders; Prison Demonstrations

On April 16 a new Jordanian political party law went into effect. Parliament passed the law in 2007 but the government agreed to give parties a grace period to organize themselves. Newspapers have reported that only fourteen of Jordan’s thirty-six political parties have been able to comply with the new regulations, which include obtaining a certificate of government support and an increase in minimum party membership from 50 to 500. Parties unable to comply, including eight of the fourteen-party opposition coalition, were forced to dissolve and are calling the new law unconstitutional. The Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jordan’s largest opposition party, was able to comply with the new law. Click here for more information in Arabic.

The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood selected a new governing body at its third national council meeting on May 1, after a postponement caused by disagreement between conservative and liberal members. After long discussions, the members reportedly agreed to appoint a predominantly liberal group to balance recently elected General Guide Humam Sa’id, who is considered a conservative. Click here for more information in Arabic.

On April 14, revolts broke out in at al-Muwaqar prison in southwestern Amman, reportedly due to the inhumane treatment of inmates. The violence initially left three prisoners dead and led to additional protests leaving thirty injured. The protest has garnered support from Jordanian opposition parties with the IAF being the most vocal.

Syria: Economic Initiatives; Activist Sentenced

As part of a package of economic reform initiatives, President Bashar al-Assad on April 15 issued a presidential decree that increased the sentence for stealing public funds from five to ten years. The Syrian Finance Minister indicated that the measure was part of an effort to overhaul the public sector and promote transparency and accountability.

On April 23, a Syrian military court sentenced political activist Kamal Labwani to a three-year prison term, in addition to the twelve year sentence he is currently serving. The government claims that Labwani insulted the president while in prison. Human rights groups called the charge unjust and politically motivated. The U.S. State Department and the European Union called for Labwani’s release.

Lebanon: Political Deadlock Continues; Worker Protests

On April 22, the Lebanese parliament postponed a session to elect a new president until May 13. This is the eighteenth postponement since President Lahud left office in November 2007.

On May 7, worker strikes turned into clashes between government and opposition supporters in Beirut, leading to the closure of many roads and the airport. The cabinet agreed on May 6 to raise monthly minimum wages from approximately $200 to $330, but Hizbollah-backed activists are demanding a raise to $600 per month. Government supporters are accusing Hizbollah of using economic grievances to destabilize the government; click here for more information.

Tunisia: Opposition Newspaper Seized; Appeal Court Upholds Journalist Sentence

Tunisia’s highest court upheld journalist Salim Boukhdir’s one year jail sentence on April 3. Boukhdir, correspondent for al-Quds al-’arabi,was convicted in December 2007 for “insulting behavior toward an official” after an incident in which he refused to produce identity papers. The April 3 ruling was Boukhdir’s final chance for appeal. Click here for more information.

Reporters Without Borders issued a statement on April 18 condemning the Tunisian government’s harassment of the weekly newspaper al-Mawaqif, published by the opposition Progressive Democratic Party. Since March 14, the government has seized issues of the weekly and has brought a libel suit against editor Rachid Khechana, who is due to appear in court on May 10.

Algeria: Ban on Passport Photos with Veil and Beard Contested

The Society of Algerian Muslim Scholars issued a fatwa on April 23 against the government ban on passport pictures of veiled women and bearded men. The fatwa claims that the ban infringes upon Islamic law and that both the veil and beard are integral to the Muslim tradition. Click here for more information.

Morocco: Criminalizing Violence against Women; Demonstrators Pardoned

King Muhammad pardoned on April 4 eight demonstrators convicted in 2007 on charges of undermining the monarchy. The eight men, all members of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, were detained after chanting slogans critical of the monarchy. Click here for additional information.

The Moroccan government continues its effort to curb violence against women. The Ministry of Social Development, Family, and Solidarity announced it is drafting a bill that would criminalize domestic violence. The law is part of a broader plan that also involves setting up treatment centers for victims of domestic violence. Click here for more details.

Sudan: Efforts to End Censorship

On April 16, the Sudanese government reportedly agreed with the Sudanese Journalists’ Union to end government censorship of journalism. Reporters will no longer submit stories and reports to government censors prior to publishing. Click here for more information.


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UN Stance on Lebanon

Following is the most recent UN stance on Lebanon, which represents the international community's stance and international legitimacy in this regard.

Ban Urges Immediate Presidential Election, Disarming of Hizbullah

22 April 2008

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate presidential election in Lebanon without foreign interference, underlining concerns over the political stalemate that has kept the post empty since November.

Ban also warned Monday that Lebanon will not be a fully sovereign, democratic state until Hizbullah is disarmed. He told Syria and Iran they must support efforts to disarm the group.

The secretary-general's six-month report to the Security Council focused on the implementation of Resolution 1559 that calls for presidential elections under the constitution and the disbanding of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias.

"Parliament, which has not met in more than a year, must be allowed to convene urgently to fulfill its constitutional duties in order to elect a president ...," Ban said. "A free and fair presidential election, without foreign interference or influence, must take place immediately."

Ban urged all parties to cooperate with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa to immediately implement a three-point plan adopted by Arab foreign ministers in January calling for Army Chief Gen. Michel Suleiman's election, formation of a national unity government in which no single party has veto power and adoption of a new electoral law.

Although the majority and the opposition have accepted Suleiman as a consensus candidate to succeed Emile Lahoud as president, the election has been snarled by their disagreement over power-sharing and the shape of the future cabinet.

He said that "Hizbullah's maintenance of a paramilitary capacity poses a key challenge to the government's monopoly on the legitimate use of force."

He reiterated that disarming and disbanding militias in accordance with the 2004 resolution should be done through a political dialogue that addresses the political and economic interests of all Lebanese.

"In this context, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Islamic Republic of Iran, which maintain close ties with the party (Hizbullah), bear a significant responsibility in supporting such a process, for the sake of both Lebanon's and the wider region's security, stability and welfare," Ban said.

He also called on Beirut and Damascus to normalize their relations three years after Syria ended nearly three decades of military occupation of Lebanon.

"Time has come for a re-definition and formulation of ties between the two historically close neighbors, in mutual respect for their sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence," Ban said.



No Tangible Progress towards Implementation Of Resolution 1559 (2004), Roed-Larsen Reports in Briefing on Middle East

8 May 2008
Security Council 5888th Meeting

Lebanon remained a battleground for actors seeking to destabilize the region for their own benefit and aspirations of dominance, Terje Roed-Larsen, United Nations Special Envoy for implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 (2004), told the Security Council today as it met to consider the situation in the Middle East.

Introducing the Secretary-General’s seventh semi-annual report on implementation of the resolution, Mr. Roed-Larsen said the prolonged political and security crisis in the country illustrated that the provisions of resolution 1559 (2004) remained as relevant now as they were at its adoption. Regrettably, there had been no tangible progress towards its implementation over the past six months. On the contrary, the riots that had started yesterday tragically showed that Lebanon today confronted challenges of a magnitude unseen since the end of the civil war.

He said the electoral void, the stalled functions of Parliament and the defiant manoeuvres of militias were all threats to Lebanon’s ability to operate as a sovereign, democratic and independent State, cautioning that those developments could have serious regional repercussions. Given the eighteenth postponement of the presidential election, to 13 May, the Secretary-General urged Parliament to convene on that date to fulfil its constitutional duties.

With that, the Lebanese people would have a unique opportunity to open a new chapter in their difficult history, he continued. They and their political representatives must rise to the occasion and elect a President without any conditions beyond those prescribed by the Constitution. Such an election would signify a major milestone. A return to political dialogue among the Lebanese parties, through national constitutional institutions, was imperative, and the only way to resolve all outstanding issues. The Secretary-General stood firmly behind the legitimate Lebanese Government and people in their quest to recover their sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity.

The Special Envoy said Lebanon’s continuing severe political crisis centred particularly on the failure to elect a new President, pointing out that the presidency had remained vacant since 24 November 2007 despite the sustained efforts of Lebanese, regional and international players. The electoral void had fuelled political polarization and impeded the normal functioning of legitimate constitutional institutions, particularly the Government and Parliament. It had also contributed to violent and dangerous confrontations between the opposing parties, leading to casualties.

Outlining several incidents that had occurred during the reporting period, he said that, on 20 April, two followers of the Phalange party had been killed and two wounded in the city of Zahle. On 5 May, five people had been wounded by gunfire in separate overnight clashes between supporters of the majority and the opposition, in Beirut and elsewhere in the country. On 7 May, Hizbullah-led demonstrators had blocked the principal highway and other roads leading to Beirut’s international airport, sea port and commercial centre with burning tyres and large mounds of earth. Soon afterwards, scuffles had broken out between pro-Government and opposition supporters in the Beirut neighbourhood of Corniche al-Mazraa. That evening, Future party supporters had blocked the main road between the towns of Baalbeck and Chtura in the Beka’a valley and the Masna’a road leading to the border with Syria. In addition, several armed clashes had occurred in the Beka’a valley, while heavy exchanges of fire had been reported in Beirut, around the national stadium adjacent to the airport road.

A very tense calm had since returned to the capital, he said, noting, however, that several roads remained closed. Access to Beirut International Airport remained restricted by Hizbullah roadblocks. So far, three people had been killed in the clashes and 10 injured. The United Nations remained in close touch with both sides and was gravely concerned about the potential for a further escalation of the situation. Several capitals in the region and beyond had publicly called for an end to the clashes, and the Secretary-General urged all parties to cease the riots immediately and to reopen all roads. The tense political climate was a significant obstacle to implementing resolution 1559 (2004).

Mr. Roed-Larsen said the continued existence of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, and allegations of widespread rearming and paramilitary training across the political spectrum, were major challenges for the Lebanese Government and a threat to national stability. Hizbullah, the most significant Lebanese militia, had a massive paramilitary infrastructure separate from the State, and it was a matter of concern that its militants had carried weapons in populated areas during the recent clashes. The Government had informed the United Nations that Hizbullah had illegally developed an independent and secure national communications network, which the Government deemed an attack on State sovereignty. Lebanese officials also claimed that Hizbullah had established a surveillance system at Beirut airport, promoting the Government to remove Brigadier General Wafiq Shoucair from his security command at the facility.

Such developments gave rise to growing fears among the Lebanese that Hizbullah was building parallel institutional structures distinct from, and in competition with, those of the State, he continued. That contributed in turn to the erosion of the State and its monopoly on the use of force. The United Nations also continued to be deeply concerned about the activities of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) and Fatah Al-Intifadh, which maintained significant paramilitary infrastructure outside refugee camps and along the Lebanese-Syrian border. During the reporting period, there had been no discussions among Lebanese political leaders about a political process leading to the disbanding and disarming of militias, stipulated in the 1989 Taif Agreement and resolution 1559 (2004).

The Secretary-General reiterated that the disarmament of militias must take place through a political process leading to the full affirmation of the authority of the Lebanese Government throughout the country, he said. The Secretary-General also called on all parties with close ties to Hizbullah, particularly Syria and Iran, to support its transformation into a political party. In addition, the Secretary-General urged Hizbullah to abide by the decisions of the Council and the Lebanese Government, in accordance with the Taif Agreement. Full disarmament was in the best interest of regional peace and stability.

Mr. Roed-Larsen stressed that a Lebanese President must be elected without delay in a free and fair electoral process conducted strictly according to Lebanese constitutional rules, without foreign interference and in accordance with the provisions of resolution 1559 (2004). Such an election would help revive Lebanon’s constitutional process, particularly the convening of Parliament, which had been paralysed since November 2006. The Secretary-General supported fully the final communique of the March Arab League Summit, which urged the election of consensus candidate General Michel Sleiman, and the formation of a national unity Government as soon as possible.

He recalled that representatives of several Arab and European Union nations, as well as the United States and the United Nations Secretary-General, had met in Kuwait on 22 April and called on parties inside and outside Lebanon to respect the country’s independence and sovereignty. They had urged Syria and Lebanon to redefine and normalize ties in mutual respect for their sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence, as required under resolution 1680 (2006). The Secretary-General had continued efforts to encourage a process between Lebanon and Syria that would eventually lead to the establishment of full diplomatic relations, thus fulfilling the relevant provisions of that resolution.

During the reporting period, Mr. Roed-Larsen said, the Secretary-General had also promoted the timely implementation of tangible measures to delineate the Lebanese-Syrian border, as that would help significantly his efforts concerning the Shab’a Farms area and Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s seven-point plan. While there had regrettably been no progress to date on those matters, the Secretary-General expected Syria’s full cooperation.

Also during the reporting period, he said, Israeli aircrafts had continued regularly to violate Lebanese territorial integrity by flying into Lebanese airspace for security reasons, according to the Israeli Government. The Secretary-General and his representatives had continued to reiterate the concern of the United Nations and to call on Israel to cease those violations. Moreover, Israel continued to occupy the northern part of Ghajar in violation of Lebanese sovereignty.


United Nations Special Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen speaks to reporters

8 May 2008 – The stalled political process in Lebanon, combined with the current violence on the streets and the “defiant manoeuvres of militias,” is leaving the country struggling to function as a sovereign, democratic State, United Nations Special Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen told the Security Council today.

“The riots that started yesterday in Lebanon show tragically that the country today confronts challenges of a magnitude unseen since the end of the civil war,” said Mr. Roed-Larsen.

“The electoral void combined with the stalled functions of Parliament and the defiant manoeuvres of militias are all threats to Lebanon’s ability to function as a sovereign, democratic and independent State,” he added, speaking as the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559.

Adopted by the Council in 2004, resolution 1559 calls for free and fair presidential elections in Lebanon without any foreign interference or influence, and for the disbandment of all militia groups operating in the country. Mr. Roed-Larsen said that he regretted he had no progress to report on the resolution over the past six months.

Speaking later to reporters, Mr. Roed-Larsen said that the Secretary-General “calls for all parties now to show restraint, to find a solution to the current impasse and the current violence, through peaceful dialogue,” and added that the Security Council had unanimously called for “calm and restraint.”

Since last November the country has been deadlocked on the election of a new president, with the position remaining vacant. Yesterday and today pro- and anti-government militias have been battling on the streets of Beirut. Mr. Roed-Larsen commented that, “Lebanon for a long time now – several months and more – has been on a slippery slope of violence and turmoil,” adding that “it is in the deep interest not only of the Lebanese but of the whole region and beyond to now stabilize the situation in Lebanon.”

While calling for the disarming of all militias in the country, the UN Envoy said that Hizbullah, the most significant Lebanese militia, “maintains a massive para-military infrastructure separate from the State.” This had “an adverse effect” on the Government’s efforts to impose law and order and was “a threat to regional peace and security.”

The Secretary-General, said Mr. Roed-Larsen, calls on all parties with ties to Hizbullah, “in particular Syria and Iran, to support its transformation into a solely political party.”

The Special Envoy urged a return to political dialogue among the Lebanese parties, stressing that this was “the only way to resolve all outstanding issues.”


- Lebanon's Independence and Democracy


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Beirut under Occupation: First Arab Capital under Iranian control

Christians lose their potential presence in the East, and their allies the modernistic Sunnis are humiliated.

Yes, it is not believable, but it is true. Beirut under Iranian terrorist occupation.

Many many stupid people around the world, especially in Europe, would not believe me when I previously qualified Hezbullah as an Iranian terrorist armed gang. Now, the whole world just needs to look at occupied Beirut.

The Iranian terrorist regime with its terrorist Revolutionary Guard's branch in Beirut so-called Hezbullah has occupied Beirut using the Israel-Baath alliance and European Union's stances and policy in the Middle East, especially when they bought the last Baath that occupies Syria.

Neither the region nor the world can afford the Iranian-led Middle East totalitarian axis taking control of Lebanon. This would be an ultimate strategic disaster.

Now, I am waiting for the international action to say my word. In the meantime, my message to the US, do not wait for some things to happen, or Arabs to move. And to Europeans I say avail yourselves of Baath and its leader the Iranian regime.

In this context, and to conceive an empirical and realistic perspective on the struggle in the Middle East, which can explain current and future events in the Middle East read my previous articles:

- The Conflict over the New Middle East

- Lebanon's Independence and Democracy

Hizbullah Controls Beirut, March 14 Says 'Violence Will Not Terrorize Us'

Beirut, 09 May 2008

Hizbullah gunmen seized control of key parts of Beirut from Sunnis loyal to the U.S.-backed government Friday, a dramatic show-of-force certain to strengthen the Iranian-allied group's hand as it fights for dominance in Lebanon's political deadlock.

An ally of Hizbullah said the group intended to pull back, at least partially, from the areas its gunmen occupied overnight and Friday morning — signaling Hizbullah likely does not intend a full-scale, permanent takeover of Sunni Muslim parts of Beirut, similar to the Hamas takeover of Gaza a year ago.

The clashes eased by Friday evening as Lebanon's army began peacefully moving into some areas where Hizbullah gunmen had a presence.

But as Hizbullah gunmen celebrated in the capital's empty streets — including marching down Hamra Street, one of its glitziest shopping lanes — it was clear that the show-of-force would have wide implications for Lebanon and the entire Mideast.

Three days of street battles and gunfights capped by Hizbullah have killed at least 14 people and wounded 20 — the country's worst sectarian fighting since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Three more people were killed in two separate incidents on Friday after the Hizbullah takeover. Two of them were Druze allies of Hizbullah who died in a shooting in a hilly suburb southeast of the capital late Friday, security officials said.

The leaders of Qatar and Syria held talks on Lebanon in Damascus, which wields influence with Hizbullah and has close relations with Iran. Syria's official news agency said the two sides agreed the conflict in Lebanon was an internal affair and expressed hope the feuding parties would find a solution through dialogue.

About 100 Shiite Hizbullah militants wearing matching camouflage uniforms and carrying assault rifles marched down Hamra Street, a normally vibrant commercial strip in a mainly Sunni area of Beirut. They took up positions in corners and sidewalks and stopped the few cars braving the empty streets to search their trunks.

On nearby streets, dozens of fighters from another Hizbullah -allied party appeared, some wearing masks and carrying rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

The Hizbullah takeover was peaceful in some neighborhoods as the militants fanned out across the Muslim sector of the city.

Later in the day, Lebanese troops began taking up positions in some Sunni neighborhoods abandoned by the pro-government groups, but did not intervene in the clashes, which had largely tapered off into sporadic gunfire by early afternoon. Some of the gunfire was celebratory in the air by the militants.

A senior security official said the army began deploying on some streets with the end of the clashes and would soon take over the Sunnis' last stronghold of Tarik Jadideh. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

In some cases Hizbullah handed over newly won positions to Lebanese troops, presumably after having made clear to everyone its strength ahead of the next round of negotiations with opponents over the country's political future.

Hezbollah's power was demonstrated dramatically Friday morning when it forced Future TV, the station affiliated to the party of Lebanon's top Sunni lawmaker, Saad Hariri, off the air.

Gunmen also set chaos in the offices of the party's newspaper, Al-Mustaqbal, in the coastal neighborhood of Ramlet el-Bayda.

Later in the afternoon, anti-government gunmen loyal to a pro-Syrian group attacked and set on fire a two-story building where Hariri's Future TV have their archives in the western neighborhood of Raouche.

With top leaders Hariri of the Sunnis and Druze leader Walid Jumblat besieged in their residences, officials of the pro-government majority held an emergency meeting in the mountain town of Maarab, northeast of Beirut

After the meeting, the March 14 forces called on the army to take control of the streets and urged Arab and international intervention to pressure the countries that support Hizbullah — meaning Iran and Syria.

"The bloody coup d'etat aims at returning Syria to Lebanon and placing Iran on the Mediterranean," said the statement read by Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea. "Violence will not terrorize us, but it will increase our resolve," he said.

He said the Hizbullah takeover violated the constitution which governs Christian-Muslim coexistence in Lebanon.

Late Friday, a group of gunmen fired about a dozen bullets at a statue of Rafik Hariri next to the seafront road where he was killed in a massive 2005 truck bombing. The statue was raised in February on the anniversary of the assassination.

Prime Minister Fouad Saniora and several ministers were holed up in Saniora's downtown office surrounded by troops and police.

An emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo to discuss the crisis will be held in two days, said Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki.

The unrest has virtually shut down Lebanon's international airport and barricades closed major highways. The seaport also was closed, leaving one land route to Syria as Lebanon's only link to the outside world.


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Registrar of Special Tribunal for Lebanon Begins Duty

First official of UN-backed tribunal on Lebanese killings starts work

29 April 2008 – The first official of the United Nations-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon to take up his functions, the registrar Robin Vincent, began his duties yesterday as the court continues to make progress in its start-up phase.

In a statement issued today by his spokesperson, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that Mr. Vincent will work closely with the Special Tribunal’s management committee and with the UN Secretariat to take the necessary steps to formally establish the court, in line with Security Council resolution 1757 from last year.

“He will initially concentrate his activities on preparing the premises of the Tribunal, coordinating the transition between the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) and the Tribunal, recruiting core staff, and finalizing the Tribunal’s budget,” the statement added.

The Council asked Mr. Ban last year to set up the court after Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora informed the 15-member body that all domestic options had been exhausted, due to the country’s ongoing political crisis.

The Special Tribunal is designed to try those accused of recent political murders in Lebanon, particularly the February 2005 assassination of the former prime minister Rafiq Hariri in a massive car bombing in downtown Beirut that killed 22 others.

Last month, in a report to the Council, Mr. Ban said the selection of the judges and the prosecutor has also been completed and a draft budget will be submitted soon to the management committee of the Tribunal.


29 April 2008

The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

Robin Vincent yesterday commenced his duties as Registrar of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. He was appointed by the Secretary-General on 10 March 2008 and is the first official of the Special Tribunal to take up his functions.

Mr. Vincent will work in close consultation with the Special Tribunal’s Management Committee and the United Nations Secretariat to take the steps necessary for the Tribunal to be established in a timely manner, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1757 (2007). He will initially concentrate his activities on preparing the premises of the Tribunal, coordinating the transition between the International Independent Investigative Commission and the Tribunal, recruiting core staff, and finalizing the Tribunal’s budget.


Related materials on Special Tribunal for Lebanon:

- Special Tribunal for Lebanon Is Ready ― UN Report

- Statute of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

- Registrar of Special Tribunal for Lebanon Is Appointed, Tribunal Is Ready

- 'Management Committee' of Special Tribunal for Lebanon Is Set Up

- Special Tribunal for Lebanon Gets Base, Judges

- The International Tribunal for Lebanon (Resolution 1757)

- UN Report on the Establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

- Ninth report of Hariri International Investigation Commission

- Memo for International Tribunal for Lebanon

- Special Tribunal for Lebanon Comes Into Force


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