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 27, 2011

Daily Star - British ambassador pledges boost for Army, October 27, 2011

By Patrick Galey

BEIRUT: The United Kingdom delivered a strong show of support for Lebanon Wednesday, pledging to increase military assistance against a backdrop of growing international disquiet over Cabinet’s inability to reach agreement on funding the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
Following a meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati, British Ambassador Tom Fletcher said London’s training of the Lebanese Army would “more than double over the coming months.”
“The situation is always fragile,” Fletcher told The Daily Star. “But our intention is that this is a long-term program because the judgment is that the Army one of the parts of the state that functions best.”
Fletcher took over at the head of the U.K.’s mission in August, and has rapidly set about his country’s three-part vision for Lebanon, set to include increased support for the military, protection for the banking sector and reform support.
“[Military training] is really the most tangible part of our plan, because you can see it happen,” he said.
In the wake of his meeting with Mikati, Fletcher announced that “wise heads should prevail” on the acrimonious dispute over Lebanon’s share of STL funding.
Bound by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1757, Lebanon must pay 49 percent of the annual running costs of the court, which is probing the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Lebanon has so far failed to come up with the cash, as the issue continues to divide the Cabinet, with the court’s detractors calling for an STL boycott.
The U.N., the United States and the European Union have all warned that Lebanon could be slapped with sanctions should it renege on its international agreement and not pay the tribunal what it owes.
Fletcher took a more upbeat approach. “We hope for a resolution on his so we don’t have to put the option [of sanctions] on the table. I am confident there will be a way through this, that there will be a Lebanese solution,” he said.
“There are obviously more hawkish bits of the international community who are desperate to set this up as proof that Lebanon has moved out of the international orbit and it has become Hezbollah’s state. This [approach] doesn’t have Lebanon’s interests at heart.”
U.S. Ambassador Maura Connelly warned Monday that Lebanon could face “serious consequences” if it refused to pay the $32 million it owes for 2011, while European Union Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst Tuesday told reporters her organization was mulling sanctions if the country blocks the funding.
United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jacob Walles, who arrived in Beirut Tuesday, held two days of talks with leading Lebanese officials including President Michel Sleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri, Mikati, Lebanese Army Gen. Jean Kahwagi and Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh on the troublesome issue.
“Mr. Walles underscored the need for Lebanon to meet all of its international obligations, including cooperating with and funding the [STL],” a U.S. Embassy statement said.
Fletcher also announced that Mikati was set to meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron and other high-ranking ministers during an official visit to Downing Street on Nov. 7.
The British ambassador said that discussions would touch on developments in Libya and Syria, as well as the STL.
“I am sure the tribunal will come up,” Fletcher said.

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