The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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October 29, 2010

Iloubnan - Lebanon braces for worst as Hezbollah snubs UN Hariri probe - OCtober 29, 2010

Lebanon braced for a fresh crisis on Friday after Hezbollah urged a boycott of a UN-backed probe into the murder of Rafiq Hariri and the United Nations warned of a "hyper-dangerous" situation.
Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the militant Shiite party, called on all Lebanese on Thursday to end cooperation with investigators probing the ex-premier's 2005 assassination, warning "citizens and politicians alike" that further collaboration would be tantamount to an attack on Hezbollah.

That warning further set him at odds with Prime Minister Saad Hariri, son of the slain Sunni former premier, who has vowed to see the international investigation through.

The prime minister's office on Friday responded to Nasrallah's call by saying there was no turning back on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) after a meeting by Hariri's bloc, which with its allies holds the majority in parliament.

"The bloc emphasises its adherence to the tribunal, which has received consensus among the Lebanese as a form of protection of political pluralism," it said in a brief statement released after a meeting headed by Hariri. Nasrallah's comments also sparked fears of the collapse of Lebanon's hard-won government, in which Hezbollah has two ministers.

The Shiite leader has repeatedly said he expects his Iranian- and Syrian-backed movement to face STL accusations and warned that such an outcome would have repercussions, which he did not specify.

His latest comments, which came hours after the United Nations warned that Lebanon had entered a "hyper-dangerous" state, sparked the ire of Hariri's pro-Western allies.

Tensions have been rising in the turbulent Mediterranean country ever since reports emerged that the STL could point to high-ranking Hezbollah figures in the Hariri murder.

Thursday's speech echoed the buildup to a political deadlock which paralysed the government between November 2006 and May 2008, culminating that month in inter-sectarian gunbattles in mainly Muslim west Beirut that brought Lebanon to the brink of a new civil war.

"What we see today is another episode of the terrorisation and intimidation Hezbollah has come to rely on to force the Lebanese to submit," said Christian MP Samir Gemayel, next in line to head the Maronite Kataeb (Phalange) party.

"This is similar to what happened on May 7 (2008) and we fear the rebellion (Nasrallah) announced paves the way for steps we will only discover in the future," said Gemayel, an ally of Hariri.

But Oussama Safa, head of the Lebanese Centre for Policy Studies, downplayed the likelihood of violence in the immediate future. "This is an expected escalation, but I don't think another May 2008 is on the horizon yet," Safa told AFP on Friday.

"There seems to be regional and international agreement to keep Lebanon calm for now, which Saudi Arabia and Syria abide by, and I don't think Hezbollah is going to breach that. "The escalation is going way beyond accepted ... and is in contravention to international law, but I don't think things will descend into war."

Ahmed Fatfat, an MP with Hariri's Saudi- and Western-backed bloc, said Nasrallah's comments amounted to a call to "revolt against the international community." "The government must clarify where it stands (regarding Nasrallah's statement) and whether it will recant its policy statement," he added.

That statement stipulates the cabinet's "respect for ... and commitment to cooperating with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL)." The press release issued by Hariri's office on Friday made no mention of
the government policy statement.

Nasrallah's warning came one day after angry women attacked two STL investigators at a gynaecology clinic in the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburb of Beirut, taking a briefcase from them.

"We have reached a very dangerous point where our honour has been breached," Nasrallah said, charging that the probe was passing on information to Hezbollah's arch-foe Israel.

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