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Arrests in Beirut


Four senior Lebanese officers, all closely linked to President Lahoud's former pro-Syrian government, have now been arrested. Together, they are charged with "murder, attempted murder and carrying out a terrorist act" in Beirut, in connection with the murder of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in February. Those arrested are the former commander of the Presidential Guard: General Mustafa Hamdan, Major General Jamil Sayyed, former Chief of Security, Major General Ali Hajj, Former Chief of Internal Security Forces, and Brigadier General Raymond Azar, former Head of Military Intelligence.

The arrests and the ongoing investigation have led to even stronger pressure on the incumbent president, who last autumn was pushed through a proposal in the National Assembly which – unconstitutionally – extended his presidency by three years. The president constantly claims that he will sit until "the last minute" in 2007. It remains to be seen.

The most sensible Norway can do for Lebanon in the "liberation year" of 2005 is to upgrade the Norwegian embassy office in Beirut to embassy. The fact that the Norwegian ambassador to Lebanon is located in Syria's capital Damascus is a wrong signal to give in today's situation!

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