18 April 2009

* Syria Asks Sharjah to Arrest Siddiq and Extradite Him

Mohammed Zuhair Siddiq, a Syrian army deserter often described by the Arab media as the 'King Witness' in the Hariri murder case, was reportedly arrested in the United Arab Emirates.
Reliable sources told As Safir newspaper that Syria lately asked the authorities of the Sharjah emirate through Interpol to arrest Siddiq and extradite him.

The sources said the man had a forged Syrian passport and was living in the city of Sharjah.

As Safir on Saturday quoted sources following the Siddiq case as saying several arrest warrants were issued in Lebanon and Syria against the man for providing false testimonies in the assassination case of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri.

The sources also said that Siddiq had lately become a burden on the political sides that at one stage were providing cover for him. Even sources in the Lebanese majority expected Siddiq to be jailed after it turned out that he was a "big lie."

Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar told LBC TV station that the Lebanese government has no information about Siddiq's arrest.

Siddiq, who was under an international arrest warrant requested by a Lebanese prosecutor, was detained in October 2005 in a Paris suburb on grounds he gave false evidence to U.N. investigators.

He had been living in France under house arrest until he disappeared a year ago.

Newspaper reports in 2006 quoted Siddiq as saying that Syrian President Bashar Assad and his then Lebanese counterpart Emile Lahoud ordered Hariri's killing in a massive Beirut car bombing.

King witness legally means an accomplice in a crime who turns against his partners, revealing their role in exchange for state pardon.


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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.