21 January 2008

(#3) Violence escalates in Lebanon

Beirut - The car of the wife of Judge Ahmad Oueidat was set ablaze by a grenade on Monday, but no one was injured according to Lebanese security sources.

Judge Oueidat is an assistant military prosecutor.

The grenade attack took place while her car was parked outside their home in Musaitbeh in west Beirut.

The grenade also destroyed a car belonging to a relative of General Mustafa Hamdan, former head of the Lebanese presidential guard. Hamdan is currently in jail along with 3 other security officials over the assassination of former PM Rafik al Hariri.

The security source could not determine which car was targeted, but as a rule it is easy to figure this out in Lebanon….all the assassinations and related crimes that took place during the past 3 years were against the anti-Syrians

Yesterday the car of Aziz el Matni, editor and director of the al Anba’a newspaper was set on fire . No one was injured. The attack outraged the press community.

Melhem Karam , Chief of the Lebanese Editors Syndicate condemned the attack on the car of Matni.
Karam said : “Those who think they can intimidate the press are only dreaming”
Karam described the attack on Matni as an attack against the free press and freedom of speech in Lebanon

His car was set on fire today in front of his house in Qornat Shahwan,

Al Anba’a is owned by the Progressive Socialist Party ( PSP) which is headed by MP Walid Jumblatt, a leading member of the anti-Syrian ruling majority . Jumblatt , considered one of the most outspoken leaders of Lebanon writes a weekly column in this paper

Police are investigating all the above attacks

Today was set earlier to be the election day of Army General Michel Suleiman to replace former president Emile Lahoud who stepped down on November 23 rd after his term expired . But the opposition has demanded a basket of preconditions before they agree to vote. The basket was rejected by the ruling majority as extortion and blackmail.

Speaker Nabih Berri, who is a key member of the Iranian and Syrian backed Hezbollah -led opposition decided to postpone the election till February 11. this was the 13th delay in the presidential election.

Today former president Amine Gemayel accused the opposition of blocking the presidential election to create a void at the top , in order to make way for creating a Hezbollah mini state He also accused the opposition of conspiring to change the regime in Lebanon, which he described as a coup against the institutions and the Taef accord .-(yalibnan)

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.