Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Not Forgotten: Independence 2006


In examining the recent history of the Middle East, a common pattern emerges where political assassinations, although common, have largely remained a mystery. This aberration on the spirit of democracy and the rule of law has been most pointedly pronounced within the Lebanese context in which political assassinations have, unfortunately, become a fact of political life. Even when answers have been provided, they have been deemed largely unsatisfactory by the public which has resorted to its own interpretations and conspiracies.

Lebanon has had more than its fair share of unresolved political assassinations. Beginning with the assassination of Kamal Jumblatt on March 16, 1977, and extending to the fatal shooting of Pierre Gemayel yesterday, targets of attempted and successful assassinations - as well as staged disappearences - have included Presidents of the Republic [Bachir Gemayel 1982, uncle of Pierre Gemayel, Rene Mouawad 1990], Prime Ministers [Rachid Karami 1987, Rafiq Hariri 2005], prominent political figures [Dany Chamoun 21 October 1990, Walid Jumblatt, Tony Frangieh, 13 June, 1978, Marwan Hmadeh 2004, Bassel Fuleihan 2005, Elias Murr July 12, 2005, Georges Hawi June 25, 2005, Elie Hobeika 1999, Gebran Tweini, December 12, 2005, Pierre Gemayel November 20, 2006] religious figures [Mufti Hassan Khaled May 16, 1989, Imam Moussa Il Sadr - who disappeared in August 1978 during a trip to Lybia], and journalists [Samir Kassir June 2005, May Chidiac, attempted assassination September 2005].

Ironically, Lebanon's "resolved" assassinations have largely been attributed to other Lebanese groups (those include Karami, Chamoun, Frangieh) while suspicions in the uresolved cases have centered on Syria. For instance, the assassination of Karami, Chamoun and Frangieh are cases in which the emergence of the truth has been clearly unhampered by Syria's involvement - or lack thereof. That is to say, in a historical sense, the cases which have excluded Syrian involvement have been swiftly resolved. In contrast, in the assassinations, kidnappings and attempted assassinations in which suspicions have been turned to Damascus, the Lebanese have found themselves trapped in a web of lack of evidence, ambiguity and mistrust. Investigations which started with loud words and grand intentions soon dwindled down to mere whispers and rumors on the street.

Herein lies the importance of the international court which will set a precedent in Middle Eastern politics. The international court, set to try those accused of involvement in the violent death of former Prime Minister Rafic el Hariri, will thereby serve in empowering the attenuated judiciaries of the region, and demonstrate that accountability and the rule of law are a reality that governments should not only contend with, but fear.

Today Lebanon will not be celebrating its independence, it will be paying tribute to all those who have shed their blood so that we Lebanese can finally stand up and claim this country as ours. Today is the day we say we will not strangle each other's minds and spirits but stand together, under one flag in one nation united for the truth.

In collaboration with Ib.

36 comments:

  1. wishing you all that you wish yourself..

    peace
    lirun
    telaviv

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  2. Thanks Lirun. Your thoughts at these difficult times are welcome and appreciated.

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  3. The way we celebrate independence day is by remembering the long caravan of martyrs who fell on the altar of Lebanon's sovereignty.

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  4. Addendum:
    In a segment of this post we have alluded to the fact that Syria's possible involvement in murky attacks on Lebanese political personalities has led to an entanglement of the facts, leads, and accusations in those cases.

    It is perfectly possible, however, that the murky nature of these assassinations (etc...) has made it possible for some to accuse Syria without it being direcly involved.

    We leave it to the reader to form his own opinion on this and hope you will share those opinions with us in this comments.

    Enjoy

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  5. Anonymous9:32 AM

    We hope that this dream

    "we Lebanese can finally stand up and claim this country as ours ... stand together, under one flag in one nation united for the truth"

    will come true one day!

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  6. Anonymous10:06 AM

    Well stated! You deserve peace and prosperity. I pray that this happens for you!

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  7. I agree it is a very sad day for Lebanon. However, I completely disagree with you on the importance of the international court in your post.

    If we Lebanese cannot resolve our own issues, including trying and convicting our own suspects, and have to depend on foreign support, then we truly do not deserve the "sovereignty" we desire so much or supposedly have. The Hariri trial is first and foremost a Lebanese issue and, in my opinion, should be dealt with by the Lebanese themselves, especially since the suspects are Lebanese. This is akin to the foreign interference our country has been subjected to by the different sects. For example, the March 14 are “sponsored” by the US, while other groups are “sponsored” by Syria and Iran.

    Blaming Syria for Hariri’s murder before the Lebanese people can examine the evidence collected by the UN for themselves is a cheap and impulsive way of dealing with this issue. Why? Because the accusation has been made without examining any evidence, which will only create more divisions and distortion amongst us.

    We have to rid ourselves of all foreign interference and sponsorship, and learn how to tackle our own problems in a non-violent manner. Have we not learned anything from our contemporary history? Yes, the international court will set a precedent, but a very dangerous and negative precedent that will only create more foreign interference in our country to resolve our issues and weaken Lebanon’s institutions.

    Again, this is a very sad day for Lebanon!

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  8. Anonymous3:57 PM

    I hope we'll be smart enough one day to know that there's only ONE flag for us, and not 18.

    From a concerned lebanese.
    *Allah yer7amak ya Pierre.

    youssefsblog.blogspot.com

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  9. Nassim is either naive or a Syrian stooge. Since all the unresolved political murders seem to point in Syria's direction it is precisely an internationbal court that is needed.

    If the court finds Syria's hand is involved, and there is by far much evidence already to point the finger, then only an international tribunal can take the appropriate punitive measures. If Syria's invovement can not be proved at the tribunal, this will go a long way in redeeming Syria's standing in the world.

    Only someone involved himself, or one who wants to shield the guilty party would want to stop the tribunal from taking place...

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  10. Nassim,

    The international court will, in no way, infirnge on Lebanon's institutions or sovereignty. In fact, any trial of the suspects will be conducted under the Lebanese criminal code and Lebanon will have, and already is, participating through judges who are examining the evidence and who will be present in the court. The Lebanese will be allowed to examine the evidence for themselves only when this evidence is no longer a secret. That is to say when the court starts. This is a purely legal issue, since no presecutor will divulge his evidence ahead of time so that that the suspects and their defense teams will use it to their advantage. This pratice will not confined to this court but to almost all the judiciaries of the world. The Lebanese judiciary is way too weak to to carry on with such a task on its own. It's a highly politicized judiciary that is inapt for dealing with such major crimes. Leaving things for the Lebanese only means more killing of Anti Syrian figures. The international court is not only a major positive poit for Lebanon, but for the whole Arab world in which political assassinations have gone unnoticed and unpunished for a long, long time. It will only serve to strenghthen democracy and sovereignty !

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  11. Anonymous6:49 PM

    I do not agree with nassim or Ib on their view points. The tribunal does have some signficance which can not be denied and it must go through. On the other hand I would not be as positive about it as was Ib. This tribunal seems like its in the hands of the political foes of Syria and as such is already politicized way before it happens.

    In my opinion, the international tribunal is a way to achieve an 'internationalized' legimitacy to a campaign of pressure and perhaps war against Syria designed to cause Syria to allign itself with the West's policy.

    In the end, I do not know if such a campaign against the Syrian regime is in Lebanon's best interests... many obviously think it is and many differ on that too in Lebanon. Oh what a divided land!

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  12. Freedom,

    I will not make this long or painful for you, since you obviously seem to have poor analytical tools and a poor grasp of many facts. To illustrate, on your blog, you mentioned that the Al-Seyassah article that was placed in this blog (entry before this one) as proof of Syria’s involvement in Hariri's murder. Do You know Alseyassah is not even a newspaper, but a tabloid full of junk? Plus, the article that talks about the supposed exchange between the SANA editor and supposed Leb. newspaper is totally sketchy, since it does not name anyone in the exchange, even the newspaper name. So what’s the point of that? Second, you have used the content of this entry as proof for Syria’s involvement in Hariri's murder in your own blog. The only reasonable way any person can go about to reveal a suspect’s involvement in a crime is to collect evidence, which has been very difficult to achieve in Hariri’s case.

    This entry by Blacksmith Jade and IB is merely an opinion piece, and there are hundreds of them out there that come in different shapes, forms, and sizes. You placed this opinion on your blog as "proof", which must be very flattering to the authors. However, it is most obvious who is naive and has a poor grasp of these issues, someone who is not willing to question the evidence or lack of evidence that is out there, someone like you.

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  13. Arabic Coffee Pot8:08 PM

    Nssim is right in saying this is an opinion.

    Indeed, the authors put up an addedum saying that one could interpret the fact that there is a lack of facts surrounding, not just this most recent - and tragic - assassinatoin, but all the unsolved assassinations mentioned through a different perspective.

    But that is what blogging is about, giving one's personal perspective in cases which are open to interpretation, and trying to provide the readers with possible alternate ones. This post does that.

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  14. Anonymous8:10 PM

    The 'other Lebanese groups' you talk about are the LF in every case!!

    Everyone should remember that!!!

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  15. An additional point:

    The issues related to the murders of Rashid Karame and Dany Chamoune are not resolved since no one has been convicted of them.

    In addition, it is necessary to point out that Samir Geagea was accused of these 2 murders and was recently pardoned, which somehow made him a saint.

    So, evidence is also murky concerning the murders that were perpetrated by Lebanese groups/individuals, not only those that are suspect of Syria.

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  16. Anonymous8:57 PM

    Anonymous,

    I do not think the court will be highly politicized or that its purpose is to give legitimacy to an international campain against the Syrian regime. The fact that it happens to be in accordance with US and French interests doesn't mean that it has to be "politicized" at the outset. Definitely, the US and France will be happy to squeeze the Syrians, but I don't think that they will fabricate evidence for this. Believe me, had they wanted to get rid of the Syrian regime, they would have done this a long time ago and in less painstainking ways. In fact, at some point the US offered the Syrians control of Lebanon in exchange for Syria's participation in the second gulf war. The only guarantee for the Lebanese that their country will not be the subject of such future murky deals is the international court. I seriously won't lose any sleep over criminals getting tried and neither should my Lebanese compatriots.

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  17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  18. Nassim,

    All the crimes committed during the civil war were subject to a general pardon. Thus, when you refer to the pardoning of Samir Geagea I believe you mean the crimes which he supposedely committed after the end of the civil war (Sayedet An Najat chruch bombing, namely).
    When we referred to the Rachid Karami and Dany Chamoun cases in our post, please notice that we specifically put the word resolved in between two quotation marks.

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  19. IB,

    Yes, everyone who committed crimes in the civil war was given a general amnesty on the condition that they do not commit any other crimes after the amnesty. That is, if they were found to be involved in any crimes after the general amnesty, then their whole case or file would be open and subject to investigation.

    In the case of Geagea, he would have avoided being subjected to answer for or be convicted of the murders of Rashid Karame or Dany Chamoune if he did not involve himself in the Sayedet An Najat chruch bombing. That is, Geagea was found to be involved in the church bombing and as a result his whole file of war crimes and the ones related to the murders of Dany Chamoune and Rashid Karame were open to investigation. So, Geagea was pardoned for all his crimes in the civil war and for the crimes committed by him after the general amnesty.

    Labeling the murders of Dany Chamoune and Rashid Karame as “resolved” is not enough in my opinion, given the issues we are talking about. You both should mention that they are not resolved and why, since they are pertinent to the current situation in Lebanon and above all your’s and Blacksmith Jade’s opinion piece.

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  20. Nassim, though I'm not Lebanese... I'm not as naive and ignorant as you try to paint me. THE FACT REMAINS that only the pro-Syrian elements have anything to gain from the latest murder. Had you bothered reading other earlier posts on my blog, you would have realized that my quoting the specific post on this blog was merely reinforcement of what the majority on the streets around the world already believe. The Tribunal, if it finds that the collected evidence is meaningless would only enhance Syria's and Bashir Assad's standing in the world. If the Tribunal, however, finds that Syria's dictator (he is a dictator, is he not?!?!?) is guilty it can meet out the proper punishment. Is there any reason you so fear the outcome?

    For the sake of a new strong beautiful Middle East, I envision a Lebanon where NO FOREIGN POWER has any influence on the sovereign decisions of the country whether directly (by overtly having its own agents or soldiers on Lebanese soil) or indirectly (through the militias they fund and arm). Is there anyone here who is against Lebanon being free of militias and foreign forces and agents?

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  21. Anonymous9:53 PM

    Anonymous,

    Well, I think the Mehlis was pretty politically baised in the way he used to dine and drink wine with some of the victims of the very crimes he was investigating. Mehlis was treated quited nicely by the March 14'ers and was made much of; conflict of interest??? Brammertz was certainly professional in that you at least didn't see him 'hanging out' with any body...

    in the end, who knows... who knows...

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  22. IB,

    In addition to my last response to you, i want to mention that you and Blacksmith Jade's opinion piece is an oversimplification because not all assassinations mentioned in you piece fit the categories (Lebanese vs. Syrian suspicion) you created to classify them. (See my previous response to you).

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  23. Nassim,

    you said: "In the case of Geagea, he would have avoided being subjected to answer for or be convicted of the murders of Rashid Karame or Dany Chamoune if he did not involve himself in the Sayedet An Najat chruch bombing". You fail to mention, however, that this conviction in Sayyedet al Najat bombing is questionned by a segment of the Lebanese population who believe that Geagea was framed by Lebanese and Syrian security apparatuses. These segments of the Lebanese population offer Geagea's case as the main example of a political prosecution. Now, given he is involved, I am not sure on what you base yourself when you claim that: "That is, Geagea was found to be involved in the church bombing and as a result his whole file of war crimes and the ones related to the murders of Dany Chamoune and Rashid Karame were open to investigation. So, Geagea was pardoned for all his crimes in the civil war and for the crimes committed by him after the general amnesty." Is this part of the Lebanese constitution? If so, then I would appreciate it if you could offer backing to this claim.
    Although the case of Geagea is taken up as an example here, this exchange between myself and you goes to iterate what we said in our opinion piece Specifically, with all the murky stories floating around in Lebanon, it is only logical for the Lebanese to support the establishement of the international court which will embolden our judiciary and allow it to resolve those issues once and for all. It also shows that when it comes to inditing Lebanese our judiciary does wonders, while when someone looks towards the other side of the border, things look much foggier all of a sudden.

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  24. Just so people to confuse facts: Geagea was found innocent of the Sayyedat al Najat bombing. The regime continued the Karameh investigation just as a pretext for keeping him incarcerated and out of the political scene, despite the amnesty law. Dori Chamoun has insisted on various occasions that the Lebanese Forces had no part to play in the killing of his brother's family, which was merely an early step in destroying christian opposition to Syria's plans in Lebanon. Geagea's imprisonment (which could have easily turned into assasination, again read Hrawi's book), Aoun's exile, and the brutal suppression of all christian opposition parties would mark the next 15 years of Syrian control.

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  25. Anonymous1:15 AM

    Why are you all talking about Geagea in a post about Lebanon's independence, sovereignty and freedom??

    You people arguing for Syria - like you Nassim - obviously have no consideration for the country you want to live in. If you're so in love with living under a dictatorship why don't u move there and leave Lebanon for the free!

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  26. IB,

    Sure, many people view Geagea’s involvement in the church bombing as a Syrian concoction and many others view that he actually was involved. There are two sides to every coin. Moreover, evidence is sketchy or as you and Jade put it “murky”.

    Below is an Amnesty International article about Geagea, which also briefly discusses the General Amnesty Law of 1991 (Law No. 84/91): (look under contextual background) http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engmde180032004

    Concerning the General Amnesty Law of 1991 (Law No. 84/91), I recall reading about it in a book for one of my courses by Julien Denoux titled Urban Unrest in the Middle East: A Comparative Study of Informal Networks in Egypt, Iran and Lebanon. Here is a Link. To put it simply, the General amnesty Law of 1991 is not part of the constitution, but more of an agreement between the warring factions at the time to bring about calm in Lebanon.
    My point is to state that there is sketchy information not only related to the assassinations that suspect Syria’s involvement, but also murkiness with respect to assassinations that suspect Lebanese involvement, namely that of Geagea and the assassinations of Dany Chamoune and Rashid Karame. So, this is to suggest that you and Jade’s categorization og the assassinations in Lebanon does not reflect all the information available related to these issues and is an oversimplification.

    Like I mentioned in my first comment to you and Jade, I do not agree with both of you that the court will benefit Lebanon as a whole nor will it “embolden” the judiciary. Why? Because we need other people (foreigners) to clean our dirty laundry, which I have mentioned is a bad long lasting habit amongst the Lebanese factions. To reiterate, we Lebanese have to rid ourselves of all the foreign interference and sponsorship in our country and politics.

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  27. To anonymous,

    Why are you all talking about Geagea in a post about Lebanon's independence, sovereignty and freedom??

    If you bother reading the comments that have been made, then you might understand…

    You people arguing for Syria - like you Nassim - obviously have no consideration for the country you want to live in. If you're so in love with living under a dictatorship why don't u move there and leave Lebanon for the free!

    No one here is arguing for Syria. I am debating with the authors about their system of classification related to the assassinations in Lebanon. You should read before you type.

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  28. Anonymous2:43 AM

    For someone who is not arguing for Syria... Shakespeare said: "Methinketh the lady doth protest too much... I must paraphrase the Bard and say, methinketh Nassim doth protest too much! As I've said before, if the Tribunal finds Syria was not involved Syria, Assad and Nassim will be vindicated... Why would he be so opposed to it? Could it be that Syria really is involved in Hariri's, Gemayel's and all the other murders and attempted murders?!?!?

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  29. Freedom,

    I find that citing dubious sources and especially propagating them to be very naïve. It is important to question the credibility of all sources of information whether they serve a specific purpose or not. In addition, not all Lebanese people believe that Syria is behind the assassinations, which is a legitimate stance. We are talking about almost 50% of the population. Moreover, the Arab world, in my opinion is split down the middle (Syria & Iran on one side Vs. the Saudis and Americans on the other), where Lebanon is their battle ground.

    So, in my first comment to this entry, I stated that is important that the Lebanese rid themselves of foreign sponsorship and patronage in order for them to have peace and prosperity (we see eye to eye on this issue). Moreover, I agree with you, there is a need to disarm all militias in Lebanon wherever they may be.

    Concerning the tribunal, I suggested that the Hariri tribunal falls under the wings of foreign interference in the context of Lebanon because the Lebanese people are completely split on this issue and being pulled left, right, and center by their patrons. I am not trying to protect Syria, they can go to hell for all I care. I am seeking the best interest of my country, where all factions can reach an agreement that is purely Lebanese and not a result of foreign influence.

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  30. Anonymous,

    you read too much and don't think much. Check out my last comment to freedom.

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  31. "I am debating with the authors about their system of classification..."

    Good on you!!! Nassim is like a French observer worried by the pollution created by the allied tanks as they liberated Paris. Wake up man!! The Syrians would skin you from head to toe and you want to bullshit about classifications!!

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  32. 1944,

    The classification i was debating with Jade and IB concerns the clarity of their post in order not to bullshit readers. Plus, i have no sympathy for the Syrian Baath Regime and want the best for my country, which involves all the Lebanese factions agreeing with each other without any foreign influence.

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  33. International Justice is a tricky thing....especially in the Middle East. The details of the investigation are not to be released to the public. This opens doors for deals to be cut, between Syria and the U.S.
    Lebanon will always be a playing field for the major countries in the West and the Middle East.
    Are we incapable of conducting our own investigation? Yes, we are. And that due to many, many reasons. So we do need this International Tribunal..technically.
    But is the International Community trustworthy of treating us fairly and not cutting us out if they strike a deal with Syria? This remains to be seen. Will we thus ever find out the "Truth". This I doubt.

    The lesson of all this, a lesson that we should have learned long ago but unfortunately have not, (and now it is too late), is that to trust no one when fighting for survival.

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  34. I find that citing dubious sources and especially propagating them to be very naïve. It is important to question the credibility of all sources of information whether they serve a specific purpose or not. In addition, not all Lebanese people believe that Syria is behind the assassinations, which is a legitimate stance. We are talking about almost 50% of the population.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Nassim, can you back up your claim that 50% of Lebanese think that Syria is not behind the assassinations?

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  35. Nassim I think you're trying to address a very worldly problem with very lofty ideals.

    I would love to hear how exactly you think we should all work together but in the 10 comments you've put up in this section I haven't seen a single idea on how to do that.

    I thought you might've been against the International Court because it could be used as a tool to bring down the regime in Syria, but then I read your comment where you said they could go to hell.

    You said that since the suspects to be tried will be Lebanese then Lebanese judges should judge them. But the truth of the matter, Nassim, is that you don't know if the suspects will be Lebanese. The whole point of internationalizing this trial is to deal with the fact that the leads, investigations, and maybe results seem to cross international boundaries and therefore need an international court to address them. For the Lebanese suspects, there will be Lebanese members of the judiciary not only to judge them, but to consult and represent them as well. So here too, we don't find any basis for your opposition.

    What is left of your argument against the court, as far as I can tell, is a case of "everyone else is against so then so am I", where your "everyone else" are the scores of Baath Party, Syrian Socialist National Party, Hizballah, and Amal supporters with whom I know you share nothing else.

    Wissam is right in pointing out that there are a number of ways in which this court can be skewed or abused, but I also know that the Lebanese government has good people working closely and coordinating with officials at the UN. The two leading independents in the cabinet, Charles Rizk (agreed on by Syria's allies in Lebanon to head the Ministry of Justice - that leading the coordination with the UN on the tribunal), and Tarek Mitri (now in the UN coordinating on behalf of Lebanon) have been leading proponents of the court. You should note that these men have, for all intents and purposes, attained the positions they have today because a majority of Lebanese (from all factions) have placed their trusts in them to represent Lebanon's interests without bias or favoritism to one side (or the other).

    So study the situation carefully, and try to stand up and speak out in favor of an effort to move our country forward instead of supporting those who would cast obstacles in our way.

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  36. Janzir9:47 PM

    "Au cours d’une entrevue accordée au Figaro ce matin, l'ancien président libanais et père du ministre assassiné, accuse le président syrien Bachar el-Assad d’être derrière le meurtre de son fils. En retraçant l’histoire des meurtres commis au Liban depuis 1977, depuis l’assassinat de Kamal Joumblatt jusqu’à aujourd’hui, Gemayel souligne que ce sont les mêmes méthodes employées par la Syrie pour liquider tous ceux qui entravent son chemin."

    This say that Amin Gemayel, in interview with French paper Le Figaro, says assassinations in Lebanon since 1977 assassination of Kamal Jumblatt bear the same mark and say that Assad is behind killing of latest one...killing of his son.

    http://www.libnanews.com/2006/11/amine_gemayel_a.html

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