25 March 2011

* Anti-Syrian states fund nearly all of the $62M PA Rafik Hariri Lebanon assassination tribunal, 2008

Release date
March 25, 2009 
The billionaire former Prime Minister of Lebanon (1992-1998, 2000-2004) Rafik Bahaa El Deen Al-Hariri, or "Rafik Hariri" and 22 others were killed in a bomb attack in Beirut on 14 Feb 2005.

Following the assassination an investigating court, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, was slowly established by Lebanon, donor countries and the United Nations.
Syria was blamed for the assassination by Lebanese groups and states opposed to Syrian influence in Lebanon. The perception of Syrian involvement had a dramatic effect on Lebanese domestic politics, and lead to a rift in Syrian-Lebanese relations.
Under these contexts it important to know who is funding the Special Tribunal, since the court's expected outcome is to blame Syria, possibly correctly, for the assassination.
The document presents the first year (2007) contributions from donors.

Over $62 million dollars was raised from sympathetic states; the majority of which are known to be pro-Israeli or anti-Syrian. Other states, such as Uruguay and Macedonia gave amounts so token as to be considered a diplomatic insult (under $2000).

The $62M figure does not include a $5.3M/year contribution of secured building space by AIVD, the Dutch intelligence service which is also described in the document.
The large figure also represents a substantial boondoggle or corruption opportunity for officials in Lebanon.


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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.