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Entries from May 2005

Democracy campaigners released: the Atassi 8

May 30th, 2005 · 18 Comments · Uncategorized

The eight political activists arrested a few days ago have all been released. There were part of an anti-government political forum, allowed under Bashar’s 2000 reforms. But their arrest last week sparked fears that hopes for a renewed ‘Damascus Spring’ were over. One of the released men Hassan Odat said “We were not held in […]

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Sa’ad wins the whole of Beirut

May 29th, 2005 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

Sa’ad Al-Hariri has claimed the whole of Beirut. He won 9 of the 19 seats before the polls even opened. His party is claiming that he has won the whole city. Unprecedented.

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Who voted?

May 29th, 2005 · No Comments · Uncategorized

The first round of the Lebanese elections is over. But did anyone turn up? Official turnout figures are dismal, at just 28% – that’s just over a quarter. But it’s not surprising, given that nine out of Beirut’s 19 areas already cancelled their vote because all of Sa’ad’s rivals pulled out after he struck deals […]

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Lebanon votes – or not

May 29th, 2005 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Beirut has started voting, in the first election without Syrian troops for 30 years. Except that half of Beirut wont be voting at all. All of the candidates withdrew to give Sa’ad Al-Hariri, son of murdered Rafiq, a clear run. It was Rafiq’s murder in February that forced the hasty Syrian troop withdrawal, and focussed […]

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Syrian Ambassador: 1200 fighters arrested at Iraqi border

May 26th, 2005 · 8 Comments · Uncategorized

Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Fayssal Mekdad says they’ve arrested 1200 people at the border in the past few weeks. Most of them were foreigners, from Kuwait, Saudi, Libya and Yemen, and were trying to enter Iraq to fight. It is the first time that Syria has admitted that fighters were crossing the Syrian-Iraqi border […]

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And the UN says it’s Bye Bye Syria

May 24th, 2005 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

The UN has confirmed the withdrawal of all Syrian troops from Lebanese land. They said that they couldn’t confirm whether all intelligence officers had left too (well, they are supposed to be ‘secret’ aren’t they – although with Syrian mukhabaraat, they stand out like a sore thumb, everyone knows their friendly neighbourhood mukhabaraat!). It’s the […]

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Aleppo: the Islamic World’s ‘City of Culture’ 2006

May 22nd, 2005 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Aleppo has been named as the 2006 City of Culture by the ‘Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’ – a world body. The city rivals Damascus in its claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. It is at least 5000 years old. And it has been the centre of empires and […]

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Berri: full independence within grasp

May 20th, 2005 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

Lebanon’s Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri has announced the establishment of a Lebanese Embassy in Damascus, and a Syrian Embassy in Beirut. It would be the final step in establishing full bilateral relations, and would signal that Syria has come to accept Lebanon’s full independence. In a similar vein Berri announced that the two countries are […]

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Opposition says ‘no’ to warlord Aoun

May 18th, 2005 · No Comments · Uncategorized

The two opposition leaders set to sweep the polls at this month’s parliamentary elections have rejected Michel Aoun’s pleas for co-operation. The power-hungry warlord has been turned down by Saad Al-Hariri (who has already won half of Beirut) and Walid Jumblatt. Aoun visited his arch foe and Lebanese warlord Samir Jaja in a desperate attempt […]

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Saad Al-Hariri wins 8 seats in Beirut

May 18th, 2005 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Nearly two weeks before the elections begin, and Saad Al-Hariri has already won nearly half of the Parliamentary seats in Beirut. The shock came after all the other candidates in those seats withdrew to make way for the Hariri ticket, handing him the win by default. Voters will now not go to polls in nearly […]

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