Hezbollah Military Against Israel

Clashes between Lebanese protesters and supporters of the Shiite militant Hezbollah group are putting Lebanon’s military and security forces in a delicate position, threatening to crack open the country’s dangerous fault lines amid a political deadlock. For weeks, the Lebanese security forces have taken pains to protect anti-government protesters, in stark contrast to Iraq, where police have killed more than 340 people over the past month in a bloody response to similar protests. The overnight violence — some of the worst since protests against the country’s ruling elite began last month — gave a preview into a worst-case scenario for Lebanon’s crisis, with the country’s U.S.-trained military increasingly in the middle between pro- and anti-Hezbollah factions. By attacking protesters Sunday night, Hezbollah sent a message that it is willing to use force to protect its political power. Confronting the powerful Iranian-backed Hezbollah, however, is out of the question for the military as doing so would wreck the neutral position it seeks to maintain and could split its ranks. “The army is in a difficult position facing multiple challenges and moving cautiously between the lines,” said Fadia Kiwan, professor of political science at Saint Joseph University in Beirut. She said the military has sought to protect the protesters and freedom of expression but is increasingly grappling with how to deal with road closures and violence. The U.N. Security Council urged all actors in Lebanon on Monday to engage in “intensive national dialogue and to maintain the peaceful character of the protests”Continue reading

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Lebanese Troops and Riot Police Deployed

“We’ve been on the streets for 14 days. The politicians have been taking this as if nothing’s happening,” said Simon Nehme, a protester at the Ring Bridge in Beirut. “They’re stalling to get us bored and tell us to leave the streets. This won’t happen.”Continue reading

Canadian, Kristian Lee Baxter

A Canadian citizen held in Syrian prisons since last year and freed after Lebanese mediation said Friday he had no idea if anyone knew he was still alive. Kristian Lee Baxter appeared emotional and at times jittery at a press conference in the Lebanese capital Beirut. The Lebanese general who mediated his release said Baxter was heading home. It was not clear when Baxter was released from Syria. Details of Baxter’s detention were not immediately available but Canadian media reported last December he was detained while in war-torn Syria, where he was traveling seeking an adventure. Canadian officials declined to provide further information, citing privacy provisions. Lebanon’s General Security Chief Abbas Ibrahim said Baxter was detained for what Syrian authorities considered a “major violation” of local laws, adding that authorities there may have considered the incident security related. He didn’t elaborate. Baxter appeared briefly on a podium, shared with Ibrahim and the Canadian ambassador to Lebanon, Emmanuelle Lamoureux. He was emotional and choked on his words as he tried to hold back tears. “I’d just like to thank the Canadian embassy for helping me,” Kristian Lee Baxter said, reaching to hold the shoulder of the Canadian ambassador. “I would like to thank the Lebanese for helping me get free. I thought I would be there forever, honestly.” He added, wiping his eyes: “I didn’t know if anyone knew if I was alive.” Baxter’s release marked the second time Lebanon has helped free a foreigner held in Syria. Last month, IbrahimContinue reading

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Nizar Zakka - Lebanese - Lebanon

“We have received a request filed by the accused and other Lebanese officials to grant amnesty and release him. We are looking into this request as a special case,” Gholamhossein Esmaili, a judiciary spokesman, was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.Continue reading