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

Official Voter Statistics - Bekaa

Official Voter Statistics - North

Official Voter Statistics - Mount Lebanon

Official Voter Statistics - Beirut

Monday, June 08, 2009

In Pictures: Victory Celebrations

The following pictures were taken on June 7th and depict victory celebrations for partisans of the pro-sovereignty M14 movement across Lebanon. Specifically, the pictures are of celebrations in Tripoli, Zahleh, Beirut (Tareeq el Jdeedeh and Aschrafieh), Saida and other towns, villages, and municipalities.

Pictures courtesy of Yahoo!News

Check the Blacksmiths of Lebanon Elections Center for more information related to the 2009 Parliamentary Elections.

Official Election Results Announced

Official results confirm the unofficial results obtained by us on election night. Here is a link to the official voter turnout and ballot casting statistics (english version) as given by the Interior Ministry.

NOWLebanon is also providing the number of votes for the winning candidates. Below is a graphic depicting the results provided by the site.


I'll be putting up the full numbers in another post later today.

Meanwhile, Hizballah has already started to threaten those Lebanese who have proven their dedication to ensuring the country stays on the the path to sovereignty. NOWLebanon has the story.

Election Night Victory Speeches + Interviews

Here are some interviews as seen on election night on the Kalam an Nass political talk show. All were given after M14 had been assured of victory, but before final results for some districts were released.

Victory!!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Unofficial Ballot Count - Continuously Updated!

VICTORY!!!!

M14 DECLARED WINNERS OF MAJORITY IN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS!!


HIZBALLAH DECLARES DEFEAT OF M8!!

Unofficial Seat Count:
  • M14: 71
  • M8: 57
Unofficial Winners:
  • (5) Beirut I: 1 Armenian Orthodox, 1 Armenian Catholic, 1 Maronite, 1 Greek Catholic, 1 Greek Orthodox seat for M14
  • (4) Beirut II: 1 Armenian Orthodox seat for each of M8 and M14. 1 Sunni seat for M14, 1 Shiite seat for M8.
  • (10) Beirut III: 1 Druze, 1 Shiite, 5 Sunni, 1 Maronite, 1 Evangelical, 1 Greek Orthodox seats for M14

  • (3) Jezzine: 1 Greek Catholic and 2 Maronite seats for M8
  • (2) Saida: 2 Sunni seats for M14
  • (3) Zahrani: 2 Shiite and 1 Maronite seats for M8
  • (4) Sour: 4 Shiite seats for M8
  • (3) Bint Jbeil: 3 Shiite seats for M8
  • (3) Nabatieh: 3 Shiite seats for M8
  • (5) Marjayoun-Hasbaya: 2 Shiite, 1 Druze, 1 Sunni, 1 Greek Orthodox seat for M8

  • (7) Akkar: 1 Alawite, 3 Sunni, 1 Maronite, 3 Greek Orthodox seats for M14
  • (2) Batroun: 2 Maronite seats for M14
  • (2) Bcharreh: 2 Maronite seats for M14
  • (3) Koura: 3 Greek Orthodox seats for M14
  • (3) Minnieh-Dinnieh: 3 Sunni seats for M14
  • (3) Zogharta: 3 Maronite seats for M8
  • (8) Tripoli: 1 Alawi, 5 Sunni, 1 Greek Orthodox, and 1 Maronite seat for M14

  • (3) Jbeil: 2 Maronite seats and 1 Shiite for M8
  • (5) Kesewan: 5 Maronite seats for M8
  • (8) Metn: 1 Armenian Orthodox, 1 Greek Orthodox, and 4 Maronite seats for M8, 1 Greek Orthodox and 1 Maronite seat for M14
  • (5) Aley: 1 Druze seat for M8 1 for M14. 2 Maronite seats and 1 Greek Orthodox for M14
  • (6) Baabda: 3 Maronite, 2 Shiite, and 1 Druze seat for M8
  • (8) Chouf: 1 Greek Catholic, 3 Maronite, 2 Druze, 2 Sunni seats for M14

  • (10) Baalbek-Hermel: 2 Sunni, 6 Shiite, 1 Greek Catholic, and 1 Maronite seat for M8
  • (7) Zahleh: 2 Greek Catholic, 1 Sunni, 1 Shiite, 1 Maronite, 1 Greek Orthodox, 1 Armenian Orthodox seats for M14
  • (6) Western Bekaa-Rashaya: 2 Sunni, 1 Shiite, 1 Maronite, 1 Greek Orthodox, and 1 Druze for M14
Unofficial results websites can be found here:
Ballot counting has begun across the country after the closure of polling stations at 7:00 pm and a news conference by the country's Interior Minister, Ziad Baroud, declaring the end of a successful day of voting. Several websites are providing up-to-date unofficial counting results, below are two screen-shots from the FPM and Kataeb (Metn) results sites, respectively:

Check the Blacksmiths of Lebanon Elections Center for more information related to the 2009 Parliamentary Elections.

In Pictures: Party Convoys

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