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Sectarian Explosion beginning in Syria?

The situation in Syria took an even graver turn yesterday. As the ruling Assad regime continues to brutalise dissenting citizens, some Syrians appear to be lashing out at the regime's minority Alawite sect. In retaliation, several Allawites went on a rampage of their own. Nada Bakri reports in The New York Times:

On Sunday, residents of Homs, Syria's second-largest city, discovered the bodies of three Alawites mutilated and dumped in a deserted area, according to Omar Idlibi of the Local Coordination Committees, a group that helps organize and document protests. All three were armed government loyalists, he said...

Hezbollah and the Hariri Tribunal

This Update focuses on the impact of the unsealing of four indictments for Hezbollah members late last week by the UN's Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), investigating the 2005 murder for former Lebanese PM Rafiq Hariri.

We lead with an analysis and backgrounder by Prof. William Harris, a distinguished specialist on Syria and Lebanon based in New Zealand. Harris goes through the detailed history of the tribunal process and recent Lebanese politics up until the important turning point reached last week. Harris argues that the "STL is the only serious route to ridding Lebanon of a culture of impunity and paving the way for real pluralist politics free of terror and murder" but also elucidates some reasons for optimism that it can still be effective, despite Hezbollah's opposition and control over the Government.

UN Tribunal Judge – Bashar Al-Assad ordered murder of Rafiq Hariri

A new revelation has just added to the intense scrutiny already aimed at the repressive Assad regime in Syria in the wake of its bloody efforts to suppress a popular revolt over the past 3 months.

Detlev Mehlis, a German judge who previously headed a UN enquiry into the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, has gone farther than even before in fingering the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, as directly responsible for the murder.

Speaking on German radio:

Detlev Mehlis said Syrian President Bashar Assad "ordered Hariri killed" because he feared the premier was cooperating with France and the US in order to overturn the Syrian regime and disarm Hezbollah.

Turkey’s Election outcome/Lebanon’s Hezbollah-dominated government

This Update focuses on the outcome of the Turkish election on Sunday, while also offering expert comments on the new Hezbollah-dominated Lebanese cabinet.

First up is Soner Cagaptay, an analyst focussing on Turkey at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Cagaptay highlights some of the problems with the past 8 years of rule in Turkey by the Islamist-leaning AKP party of PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, especially its legal persecution of journalists and media outlets critical of the government, and other illiberal means to suppress political opposition. But he is optimistic that the failure of the ruling party to gain enough seats to change the constitution or pass major legislation unassisted may mean it will compromise with the reformed and increasingly liberal opposition CHP party.

Syrian Nazis on the Air

3ZZZ's Syrian programming advances the Nazi-inspired dogma of a violent secular party - it is the mouthpiece of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP).

Lebanon’s Election Result

This Updates features analysis of the weekend Lebanese election resuts, which saw the government pro-western governing coalition improve its position moderately vis-a-vis the Hezbollah-led opposition, contrary to the predictions of many.

Hezbollah and the Future of Lebanon

The Israel-Hezbollah exchange of prisoners for the bodies of abducted soldiers last week has renewed the focus on the political battle occurring inside Lebanon, as Hezbollah tried to capitalise on the hero's welcome given to released terrorist and child-murderer Samir Kuntar.

Israel-Syria Talks Resume/ Lebanon’s Doha Agreement

As readers will be aware, Israel and Syria officially announced the resumption of peace talks this week, mediated by Turkey. Meanwhile, following last week's violent confrontation whereby Hezbollah took over much of Beirut, Lebanon's factions agreed to a Qatari-mediated deal, known as the Doha Accord.

Lebanon on the Brink

This Update brings together some analysis of the crisis in Lebanon over the last week, which saw Hezbollah gunmen temporarily take over much of Beirut in fighting that left scores of people there and in the North, including one Australian, dead.

Dealing with Iran and its proxies/ Lebanon’s latest crisis

Today's Update features some new pieces on strategies for dealing with the challenge posed by Iran and its proxies and allies, as well as analysis of the latest example of destablising behaviour by one such ally, Hezbollah, in Lebanon.