Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dietary Victory!

Let me be the first to declare Lebanon's "dietary victory" over the [imperialist] Zionist attempt to invade, occupy and annex the culinary terrain of the brave Lebanese nation.

Behold the internationally recognized achievement we have attained.


Read it and weep vile enemy, not one but two Guinness World Book of Records-setting dishes of savory goodness. Double-dip you shall not in the bowl of our righteousness!

Let this be a warning, any arm outstretched towards our falafel - or any other honorable dish - will meet the same shredded fate of the parsley laid before you.

Consider yourselves and your delirious claims annihilated!!

Photos courtesy of Daylife.com. Full story at Babylon & Beyond, background post here and here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Breaking News: Rocket Exchange in South

Update: Lebanese Army units along with UNIFIL forces have cordoned off the area of the rocket launch and have launched an investigation into the incident.

Update:
NOWLebanon reports that the Israeli army has held the Lebanese government responsible for the rocket launch and has confirmed retaliatory shelling of the launch site. Sources in Lebanon have confirmed Israeli shelling of the area.

Update: Lebanese officials have reported that 8 Israeli artillery shells landed in the Wadi Sallouqa valley near the village of al Houla in southern Lebanon at approximately 7:45 pm.

Update:Israeli officials have reportedly denied an Israeli artillery response to a rocket attack from southern Lebanon. The officials stated that a 107mm Katyusha rocket landed in an open field near the town of Kiryat Shmona at approximately 7:20 pm local time, causing no damage or casualties.

Update: Israeli police reported no casualties from a single rocket which landed in the north of that country. Meanwhile Lebanese security officials reported Israeli jet incursions into Lebanese airspace over the south of that country.

Reports are emerging of a rocket launch from South Lebanon towards Israel followed by an artillery attack by the IDF on the Lebanese village of al Houla.

The attack comes in the aftermath of a visit by Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, to the Lebanese-Israeli border in which he declared that his army was "getting ready for any military confrontation that may erupt with Lebanon", adding "Israel is ready to deal with every situation including the probability of a new confrontation with Hizbullah".

Monday, October 26, 2009

Code Sharing from Montreal to Beirut

From Marketwire, with a very big H/T to Jad over at Lebanon News: Under Rug Swept:
Today the Honourable Jason Kenney, Canada's Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, announced that the Government of Canada has taken action to improve travel options for passengers wishing to fly from Canada to Lebanon.

Effective immediately, the change will allow Canadian air carriers to make arrangements to sell seats on flights of partner airlines (code-sharing) to and from Beirut, Lebanon. Code-sharing will make it easier for customers and businesses to plan and book their trips. Minister Kenney made the announcement while meeting with Lebanese-Canadians in Montreal, which is home to Canada's largest Lebanese community.

"By enabling this easier travel option between Canada and Lebanon, we are accomplishing some important goals: We are responding to the economic growth that has flourished in recent years between the two countries and we are making it easier for families and friends to plan travel and maintain strong ties," said Kenney. "Today's announcement builds on important action this government has taken to positively impact the Lebanese-Canadian community."

"Since 2006, our government has taken significant action to expand air travel choices for Canadians and open the doors wider to more tourism and business in Canada," said Canada's Transport Minister John Baird. "We believe it is a win-win situation to expand consumer choice in air travel, which is why we have signed or updated air agreements with nearly 50 countries."

Code-sharing opportunities will be available to Canadian carriers designated by the Minister of Transport and authorized by the Canadian Transportation Agency. This is the first time that code-sharing services between Canada and Lebanon by a Canadian carrier will move forward.
Canada has one of the largest Lebanese ex-patriot populations in the world but has hitherto not permitted direct flights from/to Beirut due to security concerns and political pressure from the U.S.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lebanon On UN Security Council

Informal comments to the Media by the Permanent Representative of Lebanon, H.E. Mr. Nawaf Salam, following the election of the five non-permanent members of the Security Council.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Lebanese Banks Safe from Hizballah-linked Pyramid Scheme

Television broadcast featuring Ezzedine (courtesy of FT.com)

That according to the country's Central Bank Governor, Riad Salameh, who declared that,

"The investigation is ongoing. It has nothing to do with the finance or banking industry. He had his own investors, and it's a private matter that's outside of the banking industry."

The 'he' referred to by the Governor is Salah Ezzedine, or "Lebanon's Madoff" as the media has come to refer to him. Ezzedine is also known as a businessman and financier with close ties to Iran's Lebanese proxy-militia, Hizballah. Check for the full story NOWLebanon.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lion Cub Saved

Members of the Lebanon-based group Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (BETA) gather around the cage where a lion, found left to die in the sweltering Mediterranean sun, is kept at a centre that specialises in the care of wild animals in the Lebanese town of Aley, in the mountains southeast of Beirut, on August 28, 2009. BETA activists found the lion cub in the morning after receiving an anonymous call saying that it had been spotted on waste ground in Karantina, just east of the Lebanese capital Beirut.

Image and caption via Daylife. NOWLebanon has the story.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hizballah: Sunni Disturbances

NOWLebanon gets boots on the ground and talks to the villagers to ascertain what exactly happened on the day that villagers from the predominantly Sunni village of Marwahein in southern Lebanon purportedly resisted attempts by Hizballah militiamen to store weapons and ammo in these villagers' homes:
“It started with Abu Alaa, three days ago, but it got bigger,” he explains. “They brought around 200 armed men, and all the people in the village came out to fight them. The army came. The police came. Then the secret police came. We called the mufti from Tyre, and somebody senior from Hezbollah was also here, and it is all settled now. Nothing happened. But God knows what will happen next.”

According to Khaled, the problems with Hezbollah started after the July War in 2006. Until then, there was peace and quiet in Marwahein and the other Sunni villages of Em al-Tout, Yarine, Al-Boustan and Bouhaira, which all sit on the Israeli border.

“They do this to us because we are Sunnis, and there are political problems in Beirut,” Khaled says. “Nothing like this happens in the Shia or Christian villages. But here they beat the workers on the land. They beat the women looking for wood. They beat the kids taking care of the cattle. They want to be in charge in this village.”

...

He leans back on his chair and sighs. “We are not against Hezbollah. Make sure you say that in your report. They are Lebanese like us. They helped us during the war. We don’t want the Israelis to get our land. My sister and my brother-in-law had seven children, and they all died in the July War. All we want is to live in peace.”
Meanwhile, allegations continue to surface that Hizballah is arming extremist Sunni groups in northern Lebanon. Naharnet has the latest.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Off the Wall

From the NYTimes Sunday Book Review:
The visual language of rebellion has a few commonalities that are adapted to individual cultures and countries. The images in Zeina Maasri’s Off the Wall: Political Posters of the Lebanese Civil War (I. B. Tauris/Palgrave Macmillan, paper, $29.95) are stylistically similar to some of the underground comics created in the ’60s. But the messages in Lebanon from the ’70s to the early ’90s were decidedly more serious than those in the United States. Underground comics were concerned with sex and drugs, among other favored themes; the Lebanese activists were concerned with survival and victory. American undergrounders faced nightsticks and Mace when they demonstrated against government policy; the Lebanese factions used lethal weapons.

This is not a picture book per se, although it is well illustrated with black-and-white and color plates. Maasri, an associate professor of graphic design at the American University of Beirut, provides a detailed analysis of the nature of graphic propaganda and of the issues Lebanon faced during its civil war, along with explanations of various symbols and motifs. The book also includes a provocative chapter on martyrdom. Most of the images reproduced here did not break any new design territory — which makes sense. They were meant to function in a cluttered visual environment amid many messages. There are the requisite portraits of martyrs and a few anti-Israel protests (one with the swastika embedded in a Star of David). But there is one poster in particular that caught my eye for its conceptual curiosity. The designer is anonymous, and it is titled “Towards Independence.” It looks pixelated, like a Whitman’s Sampler box, and depicts a figure running with a torch. In the heat of a civil war, such a well-designed composition makes it seem as if the conflict were basically the Olympic Games.
Here is a write-up on the book and a discussion with the author in the Economist.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Some Reads

Here are some reads to help you ease into the working week:
  • Michael Young finds Samir Geagea, and the Maronite-Sunni partnership of which he is a foundation, in Syria's sights;
  • Matt Nash reveals the President's plans to push through constitutional reforms;
  • Michael Totten posts an extensive interview with the Kataeb Party's Vice-President, Salim Sayegh, and;
  • Mustapha allows for no excuses in Walid Jumblatt's political acrobatics

German Public Radio July Interview - On Iran

Below is a transcript from an interview I did about a month ago with a German public radio station regarding the protests in Iran. I typed up my responses to the questions while in transit and so I chose to keep the details to a minimum. What are your views on the matter and what would you have answered to some of those questions?

  • What have you felt when you saw the pictures of the young people demonstrating in Iran?

In all honesty my first thought about the protesters was a sort of worry for the protesters. We anticipated what the authorities’ reaction could be – night time raids, arbitrary arrests, beatings, kidnappings, murder. Such are the ways of an autocracy desperately holding on to power.

My second thought was closer to home. No matter the immediate outcome of the protests in Iran, it is clear that a domestic struggle has begun for that country’s future. A struggle that could have serious consequences for the region as a whole, and Lebanon in particular given the presence of Hizballah, a proxy militia integrally attached to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.


  • Do you think that the youth of Iran can be an ideal?

I think the youth of Iran have decided that they want to have an active place and voice in the affairs of their country. The blatant electoral fraud engaged in by the regime in that country came in addition to unpopular economic and foreign policies implemented by the regime. It was the stick that broke the camel’s back.


  • How was the reaction of your friends, and the people of Libanon in general, as to the protests?

Our reactions were conflicted. On the one hand, we’ve aspired to define our sovereignty on a national level, attempting to limit our involvement in regional affairs due to the heavy cost those affairs have inflicted on our country. With this in mind, it was difficult for us to even advocate paying attention to what was going on in Iran – we didn’t want to have anything to do with that country’s regime and we didn’t want them to have anything to do with us.

On the other hand, it was hard for us to turn away. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves had taken to the street to protest an injustice (here I’m referring to the Hariri assassination).

Finally there was some worry and some hope with regards to what a destabilization of the Iranian regime would mean for the stability of Lebanon given that that regime maintains a proxy fighting force on Lebanese territory.


  • Do you see a similarty between the Protest in Iran and the Protest in Libanon after the assassination of Hariri?

As I mentioned earlier, I think both protests arose out of an injustice that came after a long history of injustice.


  • Politic need symbols. What were the symbols of the Demonstrations which most have impressed yourself? Do you think, that this symbols will also will have an influence of your political work?

Over the past several weeks we’ve seen a number of symbols emerge out of the protests in Iran, from the stark, shocking images of a young woman dying before our eyes to motorcycle “policemen” chasing down female students and beating them with batons. As a young English language blogger from the Middle East, two images have resonated especially with me. The first was the image of smashed computer screens in university dorms following a Basij raid on them. This came in light of the broad-based phenomenon of social networking providing a voice to the outside to those who could not, for years, find a voice on the inside of this theocratic autocracy.


  • In Germany we think, that a lot of young people in the MidEast are attracted by radical religious groups like the Hizbollah or the Hamas. I don’t know if this is true, but do you think, that in the succession of the protests there could be grow a countermovement?

Extremist movements around the world, no matter what their ideological underpinnings, feed on a society’s weakest and most neglected portions. In the Middle East there are huge demographic changes in progress. Vast portions of countries’ populations are below the age of 25, in many of countries this demographic makes up the majority. Economies in the region face difficulties in providing opportunities for these young people, meanwhile these economies are burdened with wealth distribution issues which worsen feelings of neglect, and decrepit political systems which prevent the expression of political will normally available in countries with more developed democratic systems. These factors therefore end up driving some youth towards radical symbols of protest and disruption. But if the youth of Iran have shown us anything it is that they, and other youth in region in general, want to be active members of the world, and don’t want to be regarded as terrorists.


  • Do you think, in the future, there could be a cross-border movement of young people in the mid East, towards more liberality?

Each country in the Middle East is different, with unique social and economic structures and politics. Of course, there are overriding universal humanitarian principles towards which the civil societies of each of these countries will aspire. The path they will take to reach these principles will be tempered by each country's domestic factors.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Political Spectrum Quiz

My Political Views
I am a center-left social moderate
Left: 2.38, Libertarian: 0.01

My Foreign Policy Views
Score: 2.67

My Culture War Stance
Score: -2.4

Political Spectrum Quiz

How do you score? Take the quiz and share your results in the comments section!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Guess Who's Back


(click on the pic to find out)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Young on Der Spiegel Hypothesis

Read Michael Young's article in full here:
This allows us to ask, then, why the sudden return to the Der Spiegel conclusions? It’s difficult to say. However, the leak to the German magazine was not a coincidence, and it was, plainly, done to undermine the UN investigation. The most frightful message in the article was that the truth about who killed Rafik Hariri might lead to a Sunni-Shia civil war. That was the gist of what Bashar Assad told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a meeting they held in Damascus in April 2007. Are those leaking to the media that the Special Tribunal’s indictments will inculpate Hezbollah trying to issue the same warning? If so, then someone is again placing the Hariri trial in the crosshairs.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lebanon: 2009 Tourism + Business Haven

Business Intelligence - Middle East reports:
Lebanon is emerging as one of the few positive stories in 2009 with remarkable growth in its tourism industry and overall economy, according to a branding expert.
...
[Ibrahim Lahoud, Director of Strategy and Brand Communication, BrandCentral] pointed out that the national rebranding efforts will have a dramatic impact in redefining the way the world looks at this key Middle Eastern country, helping promote Lebanon as a major business and tourism destination like Brazil, Greece and Turkey.

He also noted several gaps in the promotion of Lebanon, particularly in the area of tourism wherein a great number of people around the world are still unaware that Lebanon has so much more to offer than its cedar trees.

Another key measure that will enhance "Brand Lebanon" as a business destination according to Lahoud is to create dedicated districts that cater to various business and technological pursuits such as IT parks, banking and financial centres, and other business-centric development projects. Moreover, he emphasised the important role of prominent public figures such as singers and actors as well as ordinary citizens to serve as "Brand Ambassadors" of Lebanon.

“Lebanon is one of the rare success stories of the global financial crisis. Branding efforts focusing on its unique geography and way of life have opened up numerous opportunities in growth areas such as tourism, banking and construction, which continue to generate substantial capital from internal and external investors.

Another important milestone that underscores the importance of branding strategies is the recent top-ranking performance of Beirut in an exclusive list of places to go in 2009, which has certainly boosted Lebanon’s image as a leading leisure, lifestyle and business destination,” said Lahoud.

“Furthermore, it is critically important to maintain the momentum generated by the country as a tourist hotspot and a safe and secure business destination. As such, there is an urgent need to develop more specific branding ideas and strategies that will further excite the world over the positive transformation of Lebanon.
...
He further pointed out that the Lebanese economy has been projected to enjoy GDP growth of 3% in 2009 and 4% in 2010, according to the latest issue of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) bi-annual World Economic Outlook (WEO), even as the Lebanese Government expects a much more impressive 6 per cent growth this year. Lebanon’s projected growth rate in 2009 easily eclipses the average growth in the Middle East (2.5%) and among emerging and developing countries (1.6 %), while performing way above advanced economies and the world economy, which will record average negative growth rates at -3.8% and -1.9%, respectively.

On the other hand, a recent report by London-based investment firm Blakeney Investors has described Lebanon as a safe banking haven because of abundant liquidity and unprecedented inflow of deposits; the same report also highlighted Moody’s upgrade of Lebanon’s local and foreign currency government bond ratings at a time when several countries around the world have been downgraded.

Lebanon’s tourism sector also achieved dramatic growth, enjoying a 56.8% surge in tourist arrivals for a total of 434,418 visitors in the first four months of 2009 compared with the same period in 2008.

Lebanon’s tourism industry is expected to generate around 9.3% of the country’s GDP and account for about 9.6% of total domestic employment in 2009.

It is also projected to provide indirect revenues worth US$7.78 billion and indirectly create around 439,600 jobs or at least one out of every 3.6 jobs within the year, equivalent to 28.1% of total employment.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Assef Shawkat Makes the Grade

From Foriegn Policy magazine's review of the Middle East's five most powerful intelligence chiefs ... charming (emphasis, invariably, mine):

Position: Former commander of Syria's military intelligence agency, current deputy chief of staff of the Syrian military

Career: Few paths to power have been as unlikely -- or as oddly romantic -- as Assef Shawkat's. Born in the coastal town of Tartus, Shawkat served in the Syrian military while pursuing a graduate degree in history, a subject for which he has a deep affinity. Shawkat moved easily within elite circles, socializing that paid off spectacularly when he captured the heart of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad's daughter, Bushra. His dogged pursuit of Bushra -- her father initially opposed the relationship -- earned him some measure of respect: "Anyone who could go into the home of Hafez Assad and take his daughter away without his permission has the power to do anything,'' a Syrian newscaster who had met Shawkat many times told the New York Times in 2005.

By the late 1990s, Shawkat had joined the inner sanctum, assuming command of military intelligence in February 2005 -- the same month former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri was assassinated. The initial findings of a U.N. commission cast suspicion on Shawkat, leading many observers to suggest that President Bashar al-Assad would hand his brother-in-law over for questioning or possible trial. In January 2006, the U.S. Treasury Department added to the avalanche of condemnation by freezing Shawkat's assets and dubbing him "a key architect of Syria's domination of Lebanon".

Influence: By 2008, having successfully avoided the calls for his extradition, Shawkat appeared poised to continue the consolidation of his power base. However, his ascension may have been stalled by the death of Hezbollah security chief Imad Mugniyah in February 2008. Killed in the heart of Damascus, Mugniyah's death was viewed as an embarrassing breach of security or even an indication of Syrian involvement. Tellingly, Shawkat was barred from participating in the joint Hezbollah-Syrian-Iranian investigation into Mugniyah's death. Additionally, just this month, Shawkat was "promoted" to deputy chief of staff of the Syrian military, a transfer that may signal a deterioration of the Assad-Shawkat relationship. However, given Shawkat's marriage to Bushra and his long-standing ties to senior members of the security apparatus, it is way too early to count him out of the Syrian power game.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Understand Jumblatt

If you ever want to understand why Walid Jumblatt, the effective political leader of Druze community in Lebanon, does what he does, keep the following in mind:
The Druze leader has been willing to alter his position on virtually everything in the past 32 years, usually through mesmerizing acrobatics, but he has consistently stuck to two principles: defense of the Druze, and defense of Jumblatti domination over the Druze. The seemingly volatile Jumblatt is among the most predictable of politicians if you understand what motivates him.
If you only read a couple of Michael Young pieces a year, make sure one is about Jumblatt and the other about Aoun, two of the country's most consistent turncoats whose motives Young has a gift in deciphering. For Young's two most recent pieces on Jumblatt check here and here ... and then you'll understand.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Beirut Art Center

Here's the NYTimes with the write-up.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Miri Family Grieves ...

... and calls for the arrest of the AMAL gunman who murdered 30 year old mother of five Zeina Miri.

The photo shows Prime Minister-designate, Saad Hariri, consoling Zeina Miri's two daughters as he visits the family to offer his condolences. Pro-Hizballah groups, and supporters of pro-Syrian groups have attempted to disseminate the [false] impression that pro-sovereignty Lebanese politicians and political groups are providing more attention to the withdrawal of comedian Gad al Maleh from the Beiteddine Festival (check here) than to the death of Zeina Miri [who was killed by a pro-Syrian gunman]. Hence the photo (courtesy of Dalati & Nohra) and this link, this link and this link.

Of course it should be noted ... make that emphasized ... that El Maleh's withdrawal comes after a concerted campaign by Hizballah's media outlet, Al Manar, against the comedian. Michael Young gives an interesting look at the interplay between Walid Jumblatt's moves to cuddle up with the group, the attack on El Maleh's scheduled performance at the Beiteddine festival - which is run by Jumblatt's wife, Nora, and the broader implications for free speech and intimidation by violence inherent in the group's message.

Walid Phares at Center for Security Policy



I think we have an even split in readers who would agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Phares' assessments of the Lebanese scene and those that might disagree. What do you think?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Amnesty International on Gaza War Crimes

GAZA CIVILIAN DEATHS

Children: 300
Women: 115
Men over 50: 85
Civilian men under 50: 200
Non-combatant police: 240
Total: 940 Source: Amnesty International

BBCNews reports:

Israel committed war crimes and carried out reckless attacks and acts of wanton destruction in its Gaza offensive ...

Hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed using high-precision weapons, while others were shot at close range, the group Amnesty International says.

Its report also calls rocket attacks by Palestinian militants war crimes and accuses Hamas of endangering civilians.
...
Amnesty says some 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the 22-day Israeli offensive between 27 December 2008 and 17 January 2009, which agrees broadly with Palestinian figures.

More than 900 of these were civilians, including 300 children and 115 women, it says.
...
The 117-page report by Amnesty International says many of the hundreds of civilian deaths in the conflict "cannot simply be dismissed as 'collateral damage' incidental to otherwise lawful attacks - or as mistakes".

It says "disturbing questions" remain unanswered as to why children playing on roofs and medical staff attending the wounded were killed by "highly accurate missiles" whose operators had detailed views of their targets.
...
The document also gives details of several cases where it says people - including women and children posing no threat to troops - were shot at close range as they were fleeing their homes in search of shelter.
...
The Amnesty report says no evidence was found that Palestinian militants had forced civilians to stay in buildings being used for military purposes, contradicting Israeli claims that Hamas repeatedly used "human shields".

However, Amnesty says Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups had endangered Palestinian civilians by firing rockets from residential neighbourhoods and storing weapons in them.

It says local residents had in one case told researchers that Hamas fighters had fired a rocket from the yard of a government school.
...
However, Amnesty does accuse Israel of using civilians, including children, as human shields in Gaza, forcing them to remain in houses which its troops were using as military positions, and to inspect sites suspected of being booby trapped.

It also says Palestinian militants rocket fire from the Gaza Strip was "indiscriminate and hence unlawful under international law", although it only rarely caused civilian casualties.
...
Thirteen Israelis were killed, including three civilians, during the offensive, which Israel launched with the declared aim of curtailing cross-border rocket attacks.
Amnesty International had previously called for an arms embargo to be placed on Israel [and Hamas] for their unflinching use of illegal weaponry against civilians. Follow this link for pictures and more.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

For the Hockey Fans ...

The Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the oldest and best known hockey franchises in the world, have drafted Lebanese-Canadian Nazem Kadri, as their first round pick.

Via NHL.com:

With the seventh selection, the Leafs selected high-scoring London Knights forward Nazem Kadri. Despite missing time with a broken jaw, the 6-foot, 167-pound center had 25 goals and 78 points in 56 games. He was ranked No. 15 by NHL Central Scouting in its final ranking of North American skaters.

"Our guys loved the energy and skill he brings to the game," Burke told NHL.com. "He's a hard worker, he's a dynamic player, he makes things happen on the ice. … It's a great deal for us."



Canada has a large and active Lebanese community that has contributed to hockey going all the way back to Ed Hatoum in 1963. Kadri will join Alain Nasreddine as the league's two current players of Lebanese descent.

For more on Nazem Kadri's background, readers can refer to the following NHL.com article.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

HRW: Basij Conduct Night Terror Raids

From Human Rights Watch:
Iran's paramilitary Basij are carrying out brutal nighttime raids, destroying property in private homes and beating civilians in an attempt to stop nightly protest chants, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch also said the Iranian authorities are confiscating satellite dishes from private homes to prevent citizens from seeing foreign news.

"While most of the world's attention is focused on the beatings in the streets of Iran during the day, the Basijis are carrying out brutal raids on people's apartments during the night," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Witnesses are telling us that the Basijis are trashing entire streets and even neighborhoods as well as individual homes trying to stop the nightly rooftop protest chants."

Since the onset of protests against the disputed presidential election results on June 12, 2009, residents throughout Tehran and in other cities in Iran have carried out nightly rooftop protest chants of "God is Great" (Allahu Akbar) and other similar slogans.

The nighttime shouting of such slogans at designated hours is a powerful form of protest in Iran, as it was one of the emblematic forms of protests during the Iranian revolution 30 years ago, which toppled the ruling Pahlavi monarchy and led to the establishment of the Islamic Republic. Opposition leaders had asked their supporters to chant these slogans as a form of peaceful protest. With the increasingly severe crackdown on the current street protests in Iran appearing to make large-scale daytime protests impossible, the nightly chanting has become one of the few remaining forms of mass public protests against the disputed results of the June 12 presidential election.

...
Read the whole thing on the HRW website. Readers can also view a video of a nighttime raid on an Iranian university below:


For more complete coverage of the Iranian crisis readers can refer to the following websites:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hizballah's Menace and Lebanon's Christians

Michael Young provides incisive commentary on the Hizballah campaign to weaken Christian resistance to its militant projects in Lebanon by attacking, first, the Presidency and, second, the Maronite Patriachy, in favor of its nefarious stooge, Michel Aoun. Read the whole thing below, its well worth it:
The barrage of verbal attacks organized by the opposition against Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir is worrisome. Sfeir's partisans are unlikely to close the airport road or assail opposition neighborhoods, but they should at least be aware that this concerted campaign, whatever the intentions behind it, mainly serves to discredit the one individual who has most consistently defended the Lebanese state and its sovereignty.

The opposition has been incensed with Sfeir for some time. His endorsement of a "centrist" bloc for Parliament was viewed by Michel Aoun as a way of strengthening both President Michel Sleiman and March 14 at his expense. Hizbullah agreed, and during the recent elections the party voted massively in Aoun's favor in the Jbeil and Baabda districts, where centrist candidates had the best chance of making a breakthrough.

It is the patriarch's statement on the eve of the elections that riled the opposition most, however, provoking a riposte from Hizbullah's secretary general, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Sfeir said on June 6, "Today we are facing a threat to the Lebanese entity and its Arab identity, requiring alertness." This reference was seen by the opposition as a warning to Christian voters that Iranian influence in Lebanon would rise if the opposition won. Since then, a bevy of opposition politicians, many of them Maronites, have echoed Nasrallah in criticizing the patriarch. The latest reaction came on Monday from the vice president of the Higher Shiite Council, Abd al-Amir Qabalan, who asked for "clarifications" on the comment.

This request for clarification was amusing. Sfeir could not have been clearer. However, there remains some question as to whether the patriarch's words were as decisive as many believe. We don't do opinion polls on these things (a relief after the shoddy surveys of the pre-election period), but at best Sfeir only hardened doubts that Nasrallah and his Iranian sponsors had already created in Christian minds. Perhaps Qabalan should ask for clarification from Nasrallah about what he meant when he described May 7 as a "glorious day;" or from Nasrallah's deputy, Naim Qassem, when he said that Hizbullah would "arm, arm, and arm," regardless of what the United Nations said; or from Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who pointed out that an opposition victory "would change the situation in the region and would create new fronts for strengthening the resistance." Sfeir would not have had the impact that he did on voters had not these startling declarations been issued first.

The Aounists in particular have been hypocritical above and beyond their usual norm on Sfeir. For example, an Aounist candidate, at a private dinner before the elections, roundly complained that Nasrallah's "glorious day" speech would lose him and his colleagues the elections. But this week he was on television complaining about Sfeir's behavior, adding that he was shocked to see the way voters during his campaign stops were expressing their fears of an opposition victory. But if he was disturbed by what Nasrallah said, surely his voters could be as well.

Then you have to wonder about those Aounist parliamentarians who once made Bkirki their second home, particularly in the days of the Qornet Shehwan gathering. Today, not one of them can work up enough nerve to make a public statement in defense of Sfeir, for fear of annoying Michel Aoun. They say cowardice has no color, but in this case it's bright orange.

The patriarch merely confirmed the deep misgivings that an increasing number of Lebanese have about the opposition's project, which they see as a lot of empty wrapping around a very firm goal: defense of Hizbullah's weapons. Aoun has lost much ground in convincing Christians that he can stand up to Hizbullah, that his so-called change and reform program should be taken seriously, and that he can yet unite the Christians. A virus has entered the Aounist movement and it is slowly but surely making its way through the system, closing down the circuits.

Hizbullah is aware of this, which why Nasrallah, in his first post-election speech, suggested that the opposition still represented a numerical majority in Lebanon. The party had relied on Aoun to provide it with a Christian fig leaf for its weapons. Realizing that the general was losing ground among his coreligionists, Nasrallah shifted to a new game board, that of numbers. Even there, however, you could sincerely doubt his math, when there were no elections to speak of in Baalbek-Hermel and much of the South, and when the possibility of emigrants voting makes categorical arguments on majoritarianism dubious.

The premeditated effort to isolate the patriarch seems to be part of a broader scheme by the opposition to offset its mediocre election results. If the Christians are moving away from Aoun, then Bkirki becomes one of the poles around which they gather - the other being the presidency. And just as the opposition went after Michel Sleiman before the elections, they are doing the same with Sfeir today. Their goal is evidently to intimidate the holders of independent Christian power, so that Aoun, who is in urgent need of salvaging, can control more political space.

If that's the plan, it won't work. A declining Aoun is not about to regain popularity through the efforts of the one party, Hizbullah, that most scares Christians, and by assaulting traditional bastions of Christian authority. The Lebanese in general and Christians in particular are, by most accounts, tired of the polarized politics of recent years. On that terrain, Sfeir remains significantly more potent than Michel Aoun, for the patriarch best incarnates the longing for a temperate middle.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Badran on Hizballah and Wilayat al-Faqih

Tony brings it again. I've re-posted in its entirety his latest commentary as posted in NOWLebanon. Read it all:
There is a glaring contradiction between Hezbollah’s recent statements about the concept of Wilayat al-Faqih (the rule of the jurisprudent) and events in Iran. The reverberations of the events, regardless of their outcome, are being felt hundreds of miles away in Lebanon, specifically by Hezbollah. Far more than protesting a fraudulent electoral process, the Iranians who have chanted “death to Khamenei” have also taken a sledgehammer to the basic tenets of Hezbollah’s dogmatic universe.

Days ago, Hezbollah Member of Parliament and Minister Muhammad Fneish, lashed out at the party’s domestic critics, complaining that “attacking” Wilayat al-Faqih was an offense against Lebanon’s Shia, one that constituted “a violation of the freedom of belief.”

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah picked up where Fneish left off, saying, “the subject of the Wilayat al-Faqih and the Imamate is at the heart of our religious doctrine, and any offense to it is an offense to our religion.” Recognizing that his statement was a transparent bending of the truth, Nasrallah tried to outflank his adversaries by inserting a caveat: “[T]he lack of unanimous agreement among Shia on Wilayat al-Faqih does not prevent it from being part of our doctrine.” He ended by trying to have it both ways: “And so, in all politeness I tell you, say what you will in politics and stay away from offending our beliefs.”

In other words, Nasrallah paid lip service to the reality that the Wilayat al-Faqih concept remains an idiosyncrasy that many senior Shiite religious scholars have rejected. He has done this in order to claim its hold over all of Lebanese Shia, whom Hezbollah has used as a shield against condemnation of its agenda, behavior and weapons. Hezbollah is seeking to create a link between Lebanese Shia and Wilayat al-Faqih, making them subjects of Iran’s Supreme Leader, whether they like it or not.

However, as Saoud al-Mawla, an advisor to the late Shiite cleric, Sheikh Muhammad Mehdi Shamseddine, remarked in an interview with L’Orient-Le Jour this week, Wilayat al-Faqih, far from being a theological doctrine as Nasrallah contended, is a concept of jurisprudence, meaning that nothing prevents it from being challenged.

But Nasrallah’s trick is one that has served Hezbollah well. The party has always manipulated its hybrid nature to its advantage: it is an armed movement and a provider of social assistance; it is a military party but also a political one; and when disapproval intensifies, it defends itself by affirming its religious nature. Similarly, we are now told the Wilayat al-Faqih is a religious not a political question. Hezbollah media representative Ibrahim al-Moussawi practiced this line on a foreign journalist last month: “These are purely religious questions,” he told him. “The Wilayat al-Faqih is a concept that is central to Islam, but it was crystallized in the thought of the Ayatollah Khomeini… So you see that this is a purely religious question that has nothing to do with Iran.”

Aside from the fact that senior Lebanese Shia clerics--including the late Shamseddine and Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah--have rejected the concept as formulated by Khomeini, it is absurd to claim that it is a “purely religious” matter that has nothing to do with Iran. The mere fact that the wali al-faqih, the Jurisprudent, is today Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, makes it very much about Iran. All the more significant, Khomeini’s thesis relates specifically to Islamic governance, which means it is very much political.

The Wilayat al-Faqih claims worldly, political and social authority over all Shia. As scholar Hassan Mneimneh recently put it in an article on the Arab reception of the concept: “Wilayat al-Faqih entails the recognition of the absolute worldly authority of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Supreme Leader (Rahbar), in whom the ultimate executive, legislative, and judiciary powers [are] supposed to reside.” Mneimneh added: “In the early 21st Century Arab world, support for the imported Khomeinist doctrine of Wilayat al-Faqih... within Shia communities is invariably synonymous with political allegiance to the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Hezbollah’s own experience lends support to Mneimneh’s remarks. Not only did Hezbollah seek Khamenei’s permission to enter parliamentary politics in 1992, but the party’s deputy secretary general, Naim Qassem, has written in his book on Hezbollah that “the wali al-faqih alone possesses the authority to decide war and peace.” If this is the prerogative of the Supreme Leader—the head of a foreign state--then how can Hezbollah ever accept that the Lebanese government alone should decide on matters of war and peace? This only underlines that Hezbollah and a sovereign Lebanese state can never be compatible.

What did Nasrallah say when Iranians took to the streets shouting “death to Khamenei?” What an offense it must have been to his religious beliefs. Are we honestly being asked to accept that the Lebanese cease all criticism of the concept of governance underwriting Khamenei’s authority, when his legitimacy at home is being directly challenged in far starker terms?
Tony Badran is a research fellow with the Center for Terrorism Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Obama on Iran

Below is the Iran-related portion of U.S. President Barack Obama's June 23rd press briefing. Transcript via NYTimes:
First, I'd like to say a few words about the situation in Iran. The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, the beatings and imprisonments of the last few days.

I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost.

I've made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran and is not interfering with Iran's affairs.

But we must also bear witness to the courage and the dignity of the Iranian people and to a remarkable opening within Iranian society. And we deplore the violence against innocent civilians anywhere that it takes place.

The Iranian people are trying to have a debate about their future. Some in Iran -- some in the Iranian government, in particular, are trying to avoid that debate by accusing the United States and others in the West of instigating protests over the elections.

These accusations are patently false. They're an obvious attempt to distract people from what is truly taking place within Iran's borders.

This tired strategy of using old tensions to scapegoat other countries won't work anymore in Iran. This is not about the United States or the West; this is about the people of Iran and the future that they -- and only they -- will choose.

The Iranian people can speak for themselves. That's precisely what's happened in the last few days. In 2009, no iron fist is strong enough to shut off the world from bearing witness to peaceful protests of justice. Despite the Iranian government's efforts to expel journalists and isolate itself, powerful images and poignant words have made their way to us through cell phones and computers. And so we've watched what the Iranian people are doing.

This is what we've witnessed. We've seen the timeless dignity of tens of thousands of Iranians marching in silence. We've seen people of all ages risk everything to insist that their votes are counted and that their voices are heard.

Above all, we've seen courageous women stand up to the brutality and threats, and we've experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets.

While this loss is raw and extraordinarily painful, we also know this: those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people have a universal right to assembly and free speech.

If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect those rights and heed the will of its own people. It must govern through consent and not coercion.

That's what Iran's own people are calling for, and the Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ohio's Basij-Hizballah

This is important (albeit unconfirmed), via Slashdot, David Hume writes
"electronicmaji is reporting on the Daily Kos that the individual known as ProtesterHelp (also to be found on twitter) was attacked in Ohio for providing network security for Twitterers in Iran, setting up private networks to provide secure proxies, calling for media networks to remove the Iranians Twitterers' information from their broadcast, and providing counter-intelligence services (including Basiji and Army Locations) within the Twitter community. ProtesterHelp was allegedly attacked by a group of men while walking to class in Ohio. The men, who appeared to ProtesterHelp to be either Iranian or Lebanese, drove up beside him and threw rocks at him while shouting, 'Mousavi Fraud.' ProtesterHelp further reported that his personal information has been leaked, and is currently being spread both online and inside of Iran amongst the government."
This, however, is confirmed.

Lebanon's Own Basij

In this photo taken Saturday, Jan. 19, 2008, Lebanese Hezbollah scouts carry a poster of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during a march to mark Ashoura day in Beirut's southern suburbs of Dahiyeh, Lebanon. Iran has had an impressive run for the past decade — expanding its regional muscle through proxy militias, its expanding missile capabilities and its big brother role with Iraq's Shiites after the toppling of arch-foe Saddam Hussein. But the fallout from the post-election unrest will most likely bring tougher times for Iran's ambitions beyond its borders. Beside Iraq, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah would be the group affected the most by who wins Iran's ongoing confrontation. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Image and caption via Yahoo!News. For more on the fight for freedom and democracy in Iran check the links provided in this post.

For more on the Lebanon wing (or extension) of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard check here and here (Tony Badran always brings the goods), and for more on their violent actions against the Lebanese check here and here and here ... and that's just for starters.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dozens Killed in Iran

Warning: Very graphic images of shown below (videos 3-5 video)

Video: Basij militiamen openning fire on demonstrators


These people were demonstrating for their right to decide their own fate and run their own country, and for that, they were murdered by the regime and its militias. The same regime that has entrenched its militia on our soil. Their fate, their blood could have been ours, and has, in fact, already been ours. Our hopes and prayers go out to them.

CNN reports:
The unrest left 19 people dead, hospital sources said. Unconfirmed reports put the death toll as high as 150 on the seventh day of post-election demonstrations.

...

The protests were held in open defiance of warnings issued Friday by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the Islamic Republic Security Council. They had said protest organizers -- specifically Moussavi -- would be held accountable if the protests led to bloodshed.
I'll try to update this as more video and pictures become available.

For more up to date information readers can check the following blogs following up developments in Iran:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Iranian Students Arrested

Via Revolutionary Road:

After the recent attack of the secret police powers to the Tehran university, many student have been attack and injured and some are even missing. the last news about the students are as follow: please note that IMAN NAMAZI who was a civil engineering student at the tehran university has now passed away.

Missing students: List includes name surname and subject which they study

Mohsen azmoodeh politics
Payam poorang civil
Morteza janbazi chemistry
Hajipoor

Students who have been attacked:

Yaghob rahbarihagh electronics
Hossein abadi mechanics
Mohammad fateminejad hygiene
Mojtaba kashani management
Hafez mohammad hassani literature

Students who have been released:

Ahmad ahmadian mythology
eskandari physiques
Amin afzali literature
Vahid anari physiques
Mohammad boloordy architecture
Hossein hamedi mechanics
Mohsen habibi mazaheri mechanics
Navid haghdadi electronics
Mohammadreza hokmi electronics
Kazem rahimi social science
Morteza rezakhani civil
Meysam zarei physiques
Amin samie law
Bahram shabani photography
Alireza sheikhy physiques
Siavash fayaz civil
Seyed hossein mirzadeh
Hossein nobakht civil
Javad yazdanfard chemisty engineering
Habib khadangi literature

Students still in custody:

Sohrab ahadian English
Reza arkvazi medicine
Karim emami philosophy
Mohammad hossein emami philosophy
Elahe imanian social science
Rohollah baghery
Farhad binazadeh architecture
Iman poortahmaseb English
Ezzat torbaty agriculture
Somayyeh tohidloo
Yasser jafary plan sketching
Milad cheginy archaeologis
Mohammadreza hadabadi social science
Seyed javad hosseini geography
Farshid heydary earthology
Behnam khoda bandeloo computer
Mohammad khansari civil
Mohammad davoodian plan sketching
Mahmoud delbari civil
Ali raie
Omid rezasamety civil
Ali refahi social science
Seifollah ramezani English
Ebrahim zahedian Mythology
Naser zamani
Majid sepahnood cartography
Hanif salami counselling
Mohammadbagher shabanpoor English
Hamed sheikhalishahi biochemistry
Iman sheidayi English
Farhad shirahmad veterinary
Saman sahebjalali history
Farhan sadeghpoor language
Farshad tahery computer
Ghamdideh political science
Hazeh faraty rad mythology
Esmail ghorbany psychology
Mohammad karimi geography
Erfan mohammadi medical rofession
Adrian jalali computerscience

For more sources, readers can refer to:
Past posts can be found here and here and here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hizballah Meddling in Military Court

Boutros Harb, a leading pro-sovereignty politician, former presidential candidate and former lawyer, has revealed troubling information on the August 2008 murder of Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) helicopter pilot, Lt. Samer Hanna, by Hizballah gunmen:

MP Boutros Harb called on Hizbullah Thursday to reveal the real identity of the culprit who shot at a Lebanese army helicopter killing its pilot Samer Hanna last year.

...

"Military investigations did not convince the court that Muqdim was the shooter … rather he confessed under a religious obligation," Harb said, adding he has been in contact with the court to inquire over the case.

The findings are "very frightening because they indicate that the real perpetrator is still anonymous," Harb said after a meeting with a delegation from the Carter Center for Election Monitoring.

He called on Hizbullah to "confess to who the real shooter was."
Harb's statements come following the release [on bail] of Mustapha Hassan Muqdim, a Hizballah gunmen who had confessed to shooting Lt. Samer Hanna.

Meanwhile, Hizballah MP Hassan Fadlallah, hinted that the group had pressured the Lebanese Army to release Muqdim by threatening to provoke popular sentiment against the military institution under the pretense of a delayed reaction to the January 2008 clash between Hizballah supporters and LAF troops in Mar Mikhael.

Iran Media Clampdown

EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to report, film or take pictures in Tehran. A video grab from state television news network IRINN shows hundreds of supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi gathering in Tehran June 17, 2009. Iranian reformist Mousavi called on Wednesday for a day of mourning for those killed in clashes set off by a disputed presidential election as tens of thousands protested for the fifth straight day. REUTERS/IRINN via Reuters TV

Below are pictures from that rally taken by Iranian Twitter users and distributed by wire services such as Reuter, AP and AFP:

Also, in an astonishing move, a number of Iranian soccer players competing in a World Cup qualifying match against South Korea in Seoul, wore and displayed green wrist/arm bands in support of democracy advocates back home:

But CBSNews reports some worrying developments:
The Revolutionary Guard, an elite military force answering to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said through the state news service that Iranian Web sites and bloggers must remove any materials that "create tension" or face legal action.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports that Iranian authorities appear to have successfully blocked all access to Facebook, MySpace and Twitter Wednesday morning. Access had been intermittent since the election.

...

It was the Guards' first public statement since the crisis erupted following the presidential election last Friday.

Along with the Western social networking sites which are now blocked, Iranian reformist Web sites and blogs have been vital conduits for Iranians to inform the world about protests over the declaration of election victory for hard-line President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

...

CBSNews.com editor-in-chief Dan Farber noted that several sites are offering information on what is happening on the ground in Iran and other countries, piecing together and triangulating data to create almost real-time snapshots. While it's often impossible to verify the authenticity of the information, the combined force of the Web in conveying the story from Iran has been unprecedented. Click here to see some of the recent video and images from "citizen journalists" covering the aftermath of the contested vote.

...

Iran clamped down Tuesday on independent media in an attempt to control images of election protests, but pictures and videos leaked out anyway - showing how difficult it is to shut off the flow of information in the Internet age.
For more links to sources reporting (or "i-reporting") on events in Iran you can check here. Also, readers can have a look at the following TwitPic feeds:
Finally, from Daily Kos (via Sandmonkey) here is the saddest (most pathetic) news of all: "yesterday's rally for Ahmadinejad's supporters was photoshopped to appear larger than it really was."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hizballah Murderer Released

The Hizballah gunman accused of murdering Army helicopter pilot, Lt. Samer Hanna, has been released on bail by the military court investigating the incident. In a country where those who attack the country's security services and institutions have, more often than not, escaped across the Syrian border to find refuge, this development is worrying, to say the least. Reaction from the country's pro-sovereignty cadres has started to come in:

“Releasing the man who killed Lebanese army pilot Samer Hanna comes as the biggest possible insult to Lebanese Armed Forces,” National Bloc leader Carlos Eddé stated on Wednesday.

Eddé said that the killer belongs to “a known militant group,” a reference to Hezbollah, which ordered its members to confront any intervention regardless of affiliation. He added that Hezbollah gave out instructions to prevent the Lebanese army or security forces from entering the areas under its control.

“What is noteworthy is that the release of the man came a week after the 2009 parliamentary elections, in order to avoid affecting the opposition’s election results,” he said.

Eddé said, “Hezbollah has the authority to kill, and does not abide by the law, and thus is becoming similar to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”

...

MP Boutros Harb called the release of the man arrested for the death of Lebanese army pilot Samer Hanna “a scandal and an unacceptable act,” An-Nahar reported on Wednesday.

The man was accused of accidently killing Hanna on August 28, 2008 in the South while he was flying his helicopter.

Harb expressed shock over the way the case was dealt with, especially because the detained man was released before the sentence was issued.

“I will follow up on the case, and the reason behind the court’s decision to release the accused, who confessed to opening fire on Officer Hanna,” he affirmed.

The daily cited an official source, saying that the military court released the accused man, Mustapha Hassan Moukaddem, with a 10 million LL ($6,666) bail.

Government Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr refused to release Moukaddem, but the court’s decision did not change.
More commentary on the killer's release from Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar, MP Atef Majdalani, the March 14 Secretariat, and former President Amine Gemayel, via NOWLebanon:

After outcry over the release of a Hezbollah member who confessed shooting First Lieutenant Samer Hanna’s helicopter in August 2008 and killing him, Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar said that investigations “did not end yet, and the Military Court will follow up on this case.”

In an interview with Future News on Wednesday, Najjar said, “The decision to release the killer was issued by the Military Court, and this case raises questions about the ability to safeguard Lebanese Armed Forces officers,” although he questioned the Military Court’s efficacy.

...

Future Movement MP Atef Majdalani said on Wednesday that the release of Lebanese army pilot Samer Hanna’s murderer is “a scandal,” adding that the verdict of the military court is “unacceptable,” especially since Hanna was performing his duty in Lebanese airspace and over Lebanese territory.

...

The March 14 General Secretariat issued a statement on Wednesday saying that the military court’s verdict to release Mustapha Hassan Moukaddem, who is accused of killing Lebanese army pilot Samer Hanna, is “surprising.”

Hanna was killed when Moukaddem, a Hezbollah gunman, opened fire on his helicopter on August 28, 2008. The helicopter was flying over the village of Tilal Soujoud in southern Lebanon. The statement read that March 14 had decided to leave the case to the Lebanese judicial system and hoped that the judiciary would remain impartial.

“Today is the second commemoration of the assassination of MP Walid Eido, who died for Lebanon and its independence. March 14 promises all the Lebanese to remain steadfast in pursuing the noble goals of the Cedar Revolution,” the statement read.

...

Gemayel also asked how the release of the killer of Lebanese army pilot Samer Hanna can be justified to the parents of the deceased.

The Kataeb leader said that the military court released the perpetrator upon the direct recommendation of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) or based upon a report from them, as procedures require. He said that “the recommendation” was based on the belief that Hezbollah’s presence in Jezzine and the shooting down of a military helicopter are “normal and right.”

“Let us look at a map of Lebanon one last time and understand where the Lebanese can roam freely under the protection of the state and where they cannot,” Gemayel told reporters.

He added that he does not want confront any judicial authority, military or otherwise and asked, “Is it possible for Hezbollah to have a power greater than the power of the army, the judicial system, the parliament, the cabinet and the president combined? We want to know who controls the sovereignty of Lebanon and [who rules] its people.”

Monday, June 15, 2009

Violence in Iran

Unconfirmed reports place the number of dead at 15. BBCNews reports, pictures from The Big Picture blog and Yahoo!News, scroll down for video:
Shots have been fired at a rally in Iran where hundreds of thousands of people were demonstrating against last week's presidential election results.

One protester was killed and several more were hurt when security forces opened fire.
The crowd had been addressed by Mir Hossein Mousavi, who believes the vote was fixed in favour of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mr Ahmadinejad has dismissed the claims and says the vote was fair.

The BBC's Jon Leyne, in Tehran, says Monday's rally was the biggest demonstration in the Islamic republic's 30-year history and described it as a "political earthquake".

...

But reports at 2045 local time (1615 GMT) said shots were being fired.

"There has been sporadic shooting out there... I can see people running here," Reuters quoted a reporter of Iran's Press TV as saying from Tehran's Azadi Square.

"A number of people who are armed, I don't know exactly who they are, but they have started to fire on people causing havoc in Azadi Square."

A photographer at the scene told news agencies that security forces had killed one protester and seriously wounded several others. A man is said to have been arrested over the shooting.

He said the shooting began when the crowd attacked a compound used by a religious militia linked to the country's powerful Revolutionary Guard.

Pictures from Tehran show Basij militia-men attacking students (at a university campus and dormitory) and protesters demonstrating against the theocratic regime and the rigged election results:

While other pictures depicted security service agents, sometimes on motorbike, beating attacking demonstrators:


For up-to-date information on developments in Iran readers can refer to previously cited sources or these other websites keeping close tabs on developments in that country:
Readers can also check this walk-through of Iran's political system provided by BBCNews.

Finally, I'll end this post with a quote from the Blacksmith Jade twitter feed: "As level of chaos rises in Iran, worries grow that Hizballah will act to create a distraction in the region, sparking Leb bloodshed."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chaos in Iran

(AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

For those of you who would like to follow ongoing events in Iran, here are two blogs with live blogging, pictures and video from that country:
For his part, independent journalist and blogger Michael Totten is keeping close tabs on developments in that country from close-by Iraq.

You can also find full coverarage (including pictures and video) of events in Iran through regular news services, like BBCNews.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Official Voter Statistics

Here are links to official voter statistics by region. The format is borrowed from NOWLebanon but the tables below contain more districts as well as both winning and losing candidates, along with their partisanship.
  • Official Voter Statistics - Beirut
  • Official Voter Statistics - North
  • Official Voter Statistics - Mount Lebanon
  • Official Voter Statistics - South
  • Official Voter Statistics - Bekaa
Check the Blacksmiths of Lebanon Elections Center for more information related to the 2009 Parliamentary Elections.

Official Voter Statistics - South

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