Inside the Middle East
July 19, 2011
Posted: 300 GMT

Lebanon's prime minister has said his government will support the United Nations-backed tribunal that is investigating the killing of a previous Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

"Whatever we can do from our side," Najib Mikati told CNN’s Richard Quest, "we are going to do it fully."

Hariri, a wealthy entrepreneur turned politician, died when his motorcade passed a bomb that exploded in Beirut on February 14, 2005.

Supporters say he was killed because of his opposition to Syrian influence in Lebanon. His death prompted mass protests that led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops who had been in Lebanon for nearly 30 years.

Read the full interview on CNN Arabic here.

Filed under: General •Hezbollah •Lebanon •Syria

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December 7, 2010
Posted: 1116 GMT

A series of U.S. diplomatic cables from early this year directly accused Syria of supplying advanced weaponry, including SCUD ballistic missiles, to the Shiite militia Hezbollah in Lebanon.

U.S. protests to Damascus met with persistent denials, according to the cables, which were published by the WikiLeaks website.
At a meeting in February, according to one cable, a senior U.S. diplomat stressed Washington's concerns directly with Syrian President Bashar Asad, "who bluntly stated that he knew of no new weapons systems going to Hezbollah."

But just a week later, an urgent note from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the U.S. Embassy in Damascus said the United States had learned of Syrian plans to supply Hezbollah with SCUD-D ballistic missiles, which would magnify its threat to Israel.

Clinton wrote: "I must stress that this activity is of deep concern to my government, and we strongly caution you (Syria) against such a serious escalation." To reinforce the point, the cable continues: "Your interest in avoiding war should require you to exert maximum restraint, including restraining Hezbollah and preventing the group's acquisition of such lethal, long-range weapons." Read more...

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Filed under: Clinton •Hezbollah •Syria •U.S.

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November 9, 2010
Posted: 1523 GMT
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses a mass rally in the southern Lebanese border town of Bint Jbeil (Getty Images)
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses a mass rally in the southern Lebanese border town of Bint Jbeil (Getty Images)

Fresh off the success of his controversial visit to Lebanon, it appears that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will now be weighing whether or not to make another diplomatic visit – this time to the Gaza Strip.

According to semi-official Iranian news agency Fars,  the Hamas government in Gaza has extended an official invitation to the Iranian leader to visit the coastal strip in order to "boost resistance moral" of the territories 1.5 million Palestinian residents.

Hamas official Ahmed Yousef told Fars  “We invite (President) Ahmadinejad to pay a visit to the Gaza Strip, and we are confident that the visit will have extraordinary importance”

Yousef  told Fars he hoped that a trip by the Iranian leader would inspire Gazans in the same way it did for Lebanese.

Lacking the same enthusiasm would be Israel which has long accused the Iranian regime of providing weapons and cash to Hamas which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

"Perhaps he could be smuggled in through the tunnels with weapons" deadpanned Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor who said he did not expect an Ahmadinejad visit to take place, despite the invitation.

Israel and Egypt control the land, sea and air approaches to the territory and it would be unlikely that the Egyptian government of Hosni Mubarak , which has not enjoyed the friendliest of relations with Iran, would allow such a visit.

For his part Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who represents a rival Palestinian political faction,  will not be supporting a visit either.  He recently told CNN that both Iran and Hamas were impeding the peace talks with Israel.

"Hamas and whoever is standing behind Hamas – meaning Iran – is slowing the peace process. Yes, yes, Iran is pressuring Hamas not to be part of any agreement, so that they can use Hamas as a negotiations card in their talks with the international community and especially with the United States."

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Filed under: Gaza •Hamas •Hezbollah •Iran •Lebanon •Palestinians •West Bank

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October 13, 2010
Posted: 1545 GMT

I heard them before I saw them.  Canaries happily warbling outside of Hezbollah’s press registration office in Beirut’s southern suburb of Dahieh.

Now, security is tight as always given that this militant Shia political party is considered a terrorist organization by the US and Lebanon’s neighbor Israel.  We fully expected a thorough search, since Iranian president Ahmadinejad is about to give a speech to his supporters in Lebanon’s capital, and Hezbollah believes that there is a constant threat of an attack.

The birds, however, quite unexpected.

“Are they here to detect poisonous gas?” I ask our producer Jomana.

“No it can’t be.” She says.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Filed under: Hezbollah •Lebanon

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August 10, 2010
Posted: 926 GMT

By the CNN Wire Staff

Beirut, Lebanon (CNN) - Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah accused Israel on Monday of having been behind the 2005 killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

"We accuse the Israeli enemy of this assassination," said Nasrallah, who spoke with reporters in Beirut via a video link from an undisclosed location. "Israel has the capabilities to execute this type of assassinations and similar attacks. They are well-known in this field and, indeed, have the expertise in targeting Palestinian and Lebanese figures, here and abroad.

"Lebanon offers Israel a fertile soil with the spies that they have on our land, and this is how Israel was plotting from the beginning to accuse Hezbollah of the assassination of Hariri."

There was no immediate reaction from the Israelis.

Hariri was assassinated February 14, 2005, when a bomb erupted near his motorcade in Beirut. A U.N.-sponsored investigation is under way. Last month, Nasrallah said Hariri's son, current Prime Minister Saad Hariri, had told him that the special tribunal would implicate rogue Hezbollah members for the killing but not the party itself.

Nasrallah said he would reject any such conclusion.

"We absolutely reject accusing any Hezbollah member of the killing of Hariri," the Hezbollah leader said. "We will not accept any indictment to anyone in Hezbollah." Read full story

Filed under: General •Hezbollah •Israel •Lebanon

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November 24, 2008
Posted: 2215 GMT


The rhetoric is heating up in Israel: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset today that Lebanese militant group Hezbollah's arsenal "has grown threefold since the Second Lebanon war."

Barak said Hezbollah's missiles can reach Israeli towns 200 kilometers away from the Lebanon-Israel border.

He also repeated the warning that if Hezbollah takes aim at Israeli cities, its response against civilian infrastructure would be harsher than in the summer of 2006.

Meantime, Lebanon's new president visited Iran, a country widely accused of financially and logistically supporting Hezbollah.

Referring to the 34-day conflict that pitted Hezbollah militants against the Israeli army, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinajad said that "the Lebanese disappointed the enemy forever and crushed the myth of the enemies' invincibility."

Lebanese president Michel Sleiman is on a two-day visit to Tehran with a group of ministers.

Quoted by the state-controlled Iranian news agency, Sleiman said: "We are grateful that the Islamic republic of Iran has always stood by the Lebanese people and government."

Filed under: Hezbollah •Iran •Israel •Lebanon

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