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 on Friday for a fresh political crisis after Hezbollah urged a boycott of a UN-backed tribunal on 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 was equivalent to an attack on his movement.

That warning further set him at odds with Sunni Prime Minister Saad Hariri, son of the slain former premier, who has vowed to see the investigation through. His comments also sparked fears that Lebanon's hard-won government, in which Hezbollah holds two ministers, might collapse.

The prime minister has not yet responded to Nasrallah's call. Nasrallah has repeatedly said he expects his Iranian- and Syrian-backed movement to face an accusation by the international court and warned that such an eventuality would result in 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 in the parliamentary majority.

The premier was scheduled to head a meeting of his Future Movement later on Friday, said Ahmed Fatfat, an MP with his Saudi- and Western-backed bloc, but that has not been officially confirmed.

Fatfat said Nasrallah's comments amounted to a call to "revolt against the international community." "Accepting this request pits the Lebanese government against the international community," Fatfat told local radio.

"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)."

Christian leader Samir Geagea, whose Lebanese Forces are a key Hariri ally, called on the president and prime minister to schedule an emergency meeting on the issue.

"This is a threat to the Lebanese government, as the government is the first to cooperate with the investigators through its memorandum of understanding with the Security Council," he said.

"Cooperation with the tribunal is also at the heart of the current cabinet's policy statement," he added. "We denounce this surprising, incomprehensible position."

The Hague-based STL, tasked with investigating the bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others, quickly condemned Nasrallah's call as a "deliberate attempt to obstruct justice."

Tensions have been rising in the turbulent Mediterranean country amid reports that the STL would point to Hezbollah in the Hariri murder.

Thursday's speech rang reminiscent of the buildup that led to a political deadlock and paralysed the government between November 2006 and May 2008, culminating in inter-sectarian gun battles that brought the country to the brink of civil war.

Nasrallah issued the warning 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," he said, charging that the probe was passing on information to his arch-foe Israel. "We now have reached a point where we can no longer keep silent for anyone's sake."

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 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."

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