Monthly Archives: July 2009

CON LAS MANOS ATADAS EN LÍBANO by Natalia Sancha in Foreign Policy

Todo menos sencillo es la labor diaria de la ONU en Líbano. España, el tercer país que más soldados aporta a la misión, podría relevar a Italia en el mando de la FINUL. Esta mayor responsabilidad puede proporcionarle más visibilidad y reconocimiento internacional, pero también tiene su contrapartida. He aquí las dos caras de la moneda.
Con grandes dotes de malabarismo político y social afronta la Fuerza Interina de Naciones Unidas en Líbano (FINUL) día a día su misión. Las tropas españolas entraron en el sur del país mediante la resolución 1701, que puso fin a 33 días de guerra entre la milicia chií libanesa Hezbolá (Partido de Dios) y el Ejército israelí en agosto de 2006. Desde entonces, alrededor de 1.200 soldados españoles se relevan cada cuatro meses en la franja sur de Líbano, delimitada al norte por el río Litani y al sur por la línea azul que marca la actual frontera con Israel. Aunque es un feudo del grupo islamista, una de cada siete personas en el sur del país es un casco azul. Y a pesar de ciertas reticencias locales, la implantación de la FINUL ha proporcionado importantes ingresos a la población local con la apertura de bares, restaurantes y pequeños comercios.  

/AFP/GettyImages

Una misión nada fácil: la ministra de Defensa española, Carmén Chacón, saluda a las tropas desplegadas en Líbano.

La práctica demuestra que la resolución otorga y neutraliza al mismo tiempo el poder de la misión. Si bien les responsabiliza de las labores humanitarias y de la limpieza de armas en la zona, e incluso les concede el uso de la fuerza para defenderse e implementar su mandato, también les impide toda acción que no esté coordinada con las partes, Israel y las Fuerzas Armadas Libanesas (FAL). Ausente por más de 30 años del sur del país, el Ejército libanés es un actor muy reciente. De manera paralela, Hezbolá ha copado ese vacío y ha creado un Estado dentro del Estado que proporciona no sólo servicios sociales y médicos o indemnizaciones, sino que también resuelve disputas entre vecinos y concede licencias de construcción. Aunque 15.000 soldados libaneses y unos 13.000 soldados extranjeros comparten desde 2006 el sur con el grupo islamista, las LAF son muy cautas a la hora de llevar a cabo una acción y, generalmente, no lo hacen sin consultar antes a los hombres de Hezbolá en el terreno. Esta cadena de dependencias hace que las tropas de la FINUL no actúen sin comunicárselo al Ejército libanés, y éste a su vez al Partido de Dios. Esta ecuación implica que Hezbolá es parte oficiosa de la resolución.

Esporádicamente en el punto de mira de grupos asociados a Al Qaeda en la región, la brigada española sufrió el peor ataque terrorista contra la FINUL que costó la vida a 6 españoles en junio de 2007. Por otra parte, el incidente ocurrido este mes en la aldea de Kherbet Selem, a unos 20 kilómetros al norte de la frontera con Israel, pone de manifiesto la fragilidad y dificultad de la misión de la ONU. Tras la explosión de un depósito de armas, cascos azules italianos y franceses se cansaron de esperar a una respuesta positiva de las LAF y entraron a registrar una casa cercana. Este tipo de iniciativa se saldó con 14 soldados heridos tras ser apedreados por un centenar de vecinos.

La milicia chií, que criticó a la FINUL por actuar sin concertación con las Fuerzas Armadas Libanesas, ha dejado claro también que sus armas no son negociables y que no duda en enfrentarse contra quien intente despojarle de ellas. En el terreno, la misión de la ONU ha resultado ser un actor disuasivo de cara al tránsito de armas pesadas en campo abierto, pero poco eficaz en cuanto a aquellas ocultas en domicilios civiles. El debate de las armas enfrenta a seguidores y opositores de Hezbolá sin que se haya alcanzado un consenso. Asunto en el que los cascos azules tienen poco que decir hasta que los libaneses se pongan primero de acuerdo.

En un tono más contenido, el Gobierno libanés ha enviado un mensaje más sutil aprovechando el momento para filtrar en la prensa libanesa, con un mes de retraso, el arresto de diez miembros de una célula  del grupo salafista Fatah al Islam cuya intención era atentar contra las tropas extranjeras en el sur del país. A pesar del oportunismo, el  peligro de ataques contra las tropas de la FINUL no es ficticio y Líbano aparece cada vez más como un destino de la yihad islámica y no sólo como un lugar de tránsito para grupos terroristas. La última amenaza de Al Qaeda iba dirigida al líder de Hezbolá, el jeque Hasan Nasralá, por su connivencia con los “cruzados” (en relación a las tropas a las tropas de la ONU).

           
El peligro de ataques contra las tropas de la FINUL no es ficticio y Líbano aparece cada vez más como un destino de la ‘yihad islámica’
           

La región sur de Líbano es un terreno complicado de actuación por la presencia de Hezbolá, por la cautela de las FAL, por las amenazas terroristas y por el riesgo constante del estallido de una nueva guerra con Israel. Paralelamente, el panorama nacional y regional es cambiante. Tras las recientes elecciones parlamentarias, el país de los cedros espera todavía la formación de su gobierno. Siria e Irán, ambos benefactores de Hezbolá, viven momentos de cambios. Damasco mantiene un perfil bajo y diplomático ante las negociaciones con la Administración Obama, mientras que Teherán intenta mantener su régimen a flote.

En este contexto, España ha presentado su candidatura para relevar a los italianos en la jefatura de la misión de las tropas de la FINUL. En el caso de ser aceptada, debería doblar el número de soldados españoles para alcanzar al menos unos 2.000. Esto incrementaría sustancialmente y en tiempos de crisis el coste anual de la misión, que el año pasado ascendió a 177 millones de euros. La mayor ventaja sería la rentabilidad política de tal maniobra, sobre todo si lograra dar un paso positivo en las relaciones entre Israel y Líbano tras un previo acercamiento entre Damasco y Tel Aviv. Una mayor visibilidad y reconocimiento internacional que permitirían a España jugar un papel más importante en la región y tener mayor peso en organismos internacionales. Con más presencia, España adquiere también una mayor responsabilidad, y debería asumir problemas tales como la demarcación de la frontera sur con Israel y en especial de la ciudad de Ghayar que podría quedar temporalmente bajo control de guardias civiles españoles. El reverso de la moneda proviene de esa misma visibilidad, ya que convertiría a los soldados españoles en icono de las tropas extranjeras en Líbano y, por lo tanto, en objetivo de ataques terrorista y también de críticas en el caso de un fracaso político.

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‘Roadmap to the presidency’ by Gamal Essam El-Din , in Al-Ahram Weekly

\’Roadmap to the presidency\

The appointment of Farouk Sultan as new chairman of the Supreme Constitutional Court refuels speculation about the 2011 presidential elections, reports Gamal Essam El-Din

Two weeks ago President Hosni Mubarak appointed new heads to Egypt’s five highest courts. Farouk Sultan was appointed chairman of the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) and Adel Abdel-Hamid was appointed chief justice of the Court of Cassation. Mohamed El-Husseini was chosen to head the State Council; Sedqi Abdel-Rahman Kholosi was appointed head of the State Cases Authority and Intessar Nessim Hanna as head of the Court of Appeals. It is the appointment of Sultan, 68, as chairman of the SCC that has stirred the greatest controversy. The position means he is ex officio head of the Supreme Presidential Election Commission (SPEC), the ten-member commission in charge of supervising presidential elections.

Under amendments to Article 76 of the constitution the chairman of the SCC also chairs SPEC, which exercises sweeping powers over presidential elections, supervising the voting process and announcing the final results. In his capacity as chairman of the SCC Sultan is also charged with giving a final opinion on the constitutionality of new legislation. Article 84 of the constitution also states that should the office of president fall vacant because the president of the republic is unable to carry out his duties the head of the SCC will take over the presidency until elections are held. Given the pivotal nature of Sultan’s new role it was perhaps inevitable that his appointment be met with suspicion. Mahmoud El-Khodeiri, a reformist independent judge, argues that Sultan is not the right man for the job. Nor, says El-Khodeiri, should the president of the republic name the man who will be responsible for heading the SCC. “This is a glaring breach of judicial independence. President Mubarak should rather be keen that chief judges, as well as those of the SCC, remain completely independent, from the president of the republic in particular, and from the executive authority as a whole.”

El-Khodeiri believes it is unfair that Mubarak should appoint the chief judge who will be in charge of supervising the 2011 presidential elections which Mubarak, or his son, is expected to contest. “How can Sultan be a fair and neutral head of the Commission charged with supervising elections in which President Mubarak — the man who appointed him — is likely to run?” El-Khodeiri points out that the current minister of justice, Mamdouh Marei, was chairman of the SCC during the 2005 presidential elections. “Some believe that at the absence of international monitors Marei manipulated the 2005 presidential elections in favour of Mubarak and as a result was promoted later to the position of the minister of justice,” says El-Khodeiri.

 Mahmoud Mekki, another reformist judge, claims the SCC has been led by government placemen for the best part of a decade. In the 1980s and 1990s, he argues, the SCC acted independently of both the government and presidency. “They ordered twice in the 1980s that the People’s Assembly be dissolved and ruled in 2000 that the 1990 and 1995 People’s Assembly elections were rigged and that parliamentary elections should be fully supervised by judges,” said Mekki. “The 2000 SCC ruling, in particular, irked the government and President Mubarak very much, prompting the latter to make sure that future chairmen of the SCC remained loyal to him and that their rulings did not cause any political troubles for the regime.” El-Khodeiri recalls that in 2006 President Mubarak chose Maher Abdel-Wahed to be chairman of the SCC, though he was previously a prosecutor-general and a criminal law judge. “He, like Sultan, was chosen because of loyalty rather than any experience in constitutional law,” says El-Khodeiri. Before his appointment Sultan had served as chief justice of the Cairo Southern Court and head of the commission supervising polls at professional syndicates, a post which embroiled him in disputes with both lawyers and engineers. He also served for 10 years as a judicial member of the Military Prosecution- General. Some political activists have joined forces with El-Khodeiri and Mekki, alleging that in appointing Sultan political factors weighed more heavily than expertise in constitutional affairs. “Mubarak wants to ensure that the man who will be in charge of the presidential elections in 2011 is completely loyal to him,” asserts Saad Abboud, an independent MP and member of the newly-elected board of the Syndicate of Lawyers. “The choice of a loyalist who has no experience in constitutional law to be the head of the SCC suggests that President Mubarak is seeking to guarantee 2011’s presidential elections run smoothly in his favour, or else that the SCC play a role in preparing the constitutional ground for Mubarak’s son Gamal to inherit power from his father.” Mohamed El-Dakrouri, chairman of the ruling National Democratic Party’s (NDP) Ethics Committee and a former legal adviser to President Mubarak, claims such arguments are unfounded.

Article 173 of the constitution, he says, empowers President Mubarak, in his capacity as chairman of the Supreme Council of Judicial Authorities, to name the head of the SCC. “Appointing the SCC’s chairman does not mean that the president has the upper hand in the court or that its chairman is politically loyal,” says Dakrouri. “Rulings issued by the SCC are the outcome of deliberations by members of its board as a whole rather than by its chairman.” “The important question is how rulings are issued by the SCC,” Dakrouri continued. “During the 1980s and 1990s the SCC issued rulings both in favour and against the government.” A case in point, he says, was the 1997 SCC ruling that privatisation did not contradict with the constitution which gave the government a green light to go ahead with economic policies in the face of stiff objections from opposition groups. He refutes claims that SCC orders in the 1980s that the People’s Assembly be dissolved had irked Mubarak. “By contrast, President Mubarak implemented these orders at once, urging NDP officials to amend election laws so as not to be ruled unconstitutional,” said El-Dakrouri. “President Mubarak has repeatedly denied that he is grooming his son, Gamal, to be the next president and describes repeated rumours about this as rubbish,” says Dakrouri. “Inheritance of power is in complete contradiction with Article 76 of the constitution which draws a roadmap to the presidency, clearly stating that political parties and independents be allowed to run in presidential elections provided they meet the necessary conditions.”

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Homenaje saudí a Michael by Mónica G. Prieto, in El Mundo

Homenaje saudí a Michael Jackson

MONICA G. PRIETO desde Beirut, 23 de julio de 2009.-

Tras la muerte de Michael Jackson, en Oriente Próximo se realizaron numerosos homenajes espontáneos al artista norteamericano. Fueron muchos los fans que se citaron el mismo día del deceso en plena calle, desafiando las altas temperaturas, para bailar al ritmo de su música.Los árabes confirmaban así que los admiradores en la zona son legión, pero ninguna de las imágenes que he visto me ha parecido tan delirante como esta manifestación de afecto que llega desde Arabia Saudí. Se trata del tema Smooth Criminal bailado, según matizan algunos blogs locales, al estilo del sur de Arabia Saudí. Desconozco cómo es el estilo del norte del reino wahabí, y tampoco podría distinguirlo. Pero, ¿no resulta chocante?

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Lebanese Army arrests terror network planning to hit UNIFIL By Nicholas Kimbrell Daily Star staff

Lebanese Army arrests terror network planning to hit UNIFIL

By Nicholas Kimbrell
Daily Star staff
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army announced Tuesday that it had arrested 10 members of a “fundamentalist terrorist cell” that was planning attacks on UN peacekeepers in South Lebanon and foreign targets. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) accused the cell, made up mostly of foreign Arab nationals, of observing the operations of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the LAF in preparation for an attack, “plotting terrorist attacks” abroad and providing wanted foreigners and Fatah al-Islam members with forged

ID cards as well as passage to and from the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp.

The LAF fought a vicious three-month long battle against Fatah al-Islam in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in the summer of 2007, leaving hundreds of civilians and more than 160 LAF soldiers dead.

“As a result of intensive investigations carried out by the army, with regard to following up on the issue of fundamentalist terrorist cells, the Lebanese army intelligence unit was able to arrest one of those cells made up of 10 people from different Arab nationalities,” the LAF statement said.

In addition to plotting attacks, the army listed a series of other criminal activities the group was engaged in, including staking out money exchange and jewelry stores for potential robberies and aiding “wanted terrorists” to escape from Ain al-Hilweh.

A senior military official, speaking on condition of anonymity to the Associated Press, said that while the nationalities of the suspects had not been released, the men had been in contact with militant groups like Al-Qaeda and Fatah al-Islam.

According to a separate security source, quoted by Reuters, the cell’s leader was a Syrian national who had been apprehended with six separate passports.

UNIFIL has been targeted before by fundamentalist groups in the South, including a deadly 2007 attack on Spanish and Columbian peacekeepers.

UNIFIL’s spokesperson Yasmina Bouziane said UNIFIL took all threats seriously and had security measures in place, but she noted that security against such groups was primarily the responsibility of the LAF.

“This is a matter that is dealt with by the Lebanese authorities and the Lebanese army … the LAF has the primary responsibility for security in UNIFIL’s area of operations,” she told The Daily Star.

UNIFIL’s mandate was established in 1978 to patrol the restive Lebanon-Israel border. The force was expanded to nearly 13,000 personnel after the July 2006 War with Israel.

The army statement noted that members of the cell had used their jobs with private institutions and companies in Lebanon to carry out surveillance work, and urged employers to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the proper authorities.

The statement added that suspects had been transferred to the judiciary. Local reports said the men had been transferred to military Judge Saqr Saqr.

The resistive Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp, Lebanon’s largest and most autonomous, is located in the southern coastal city of Sidon. The army does not have access to the camp which often witnesses clashes between rival Palestinian factions.

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فتح الإسلام: حين تتوافر البيئة المناسبة

(“Fatah Al-Islam: When the appropriate environment becomes available” in al-Akhbar, Lebanon.

فتح الإسلام: حين تتوافر البيئة المناسبة

فداء عيتاني خلال اجتماع لمجلس الأمن المركزي منذ بضعة أشهر، طرح وزير العدل إبراهيم نجار مسألة المعاهد الدينية التي تخرّج من وصفهم بالتكفيريين، والتي تتبنى مناهج دراسية عدّها متطرفة. تمّ احتواء الأمر حينها عبر تكليف فرع المعلومات متابعة الأمر بالتنسيق مع دار الفتوى، نظراً إلى حساسية التعامل مع المعاهد التعليمية الدينية.
كان وزير العدل مباشراً، بحسب ما ينقل بعض من شارك في الاجتماع، في تسميته لبعض المعاهد التي تشير التحقيقات مع موقوفين جهاديين إلى تلقّيهم التعليم كلياً أو جزئياً على مقاعدها. ولكن متابعة الموضوع في لبنان تحتاج إلى موافقات مسبّقة وتخضع لتوازنات ولمراجع دينية، كما يتعلّق الأمر في أغلب الأحيان بعلاقات المعاهد بدول صديقة، كالمملكة العربية السعودية والكويت وقطر وغيرها.
أمس، اعتُقلت شبكة من الجهاديين العرب القادمين إلى لبنان. وبحسب بيان قيادة الجيش الذي لخّص أربعاً من مهمّاتهم، فقد أُقيم الربط بينهم وبين تنظيم فتح الإسلام، ما يعيدنا إلى التساؤل عن التسهيلات التي حصل عليها التنظيم في الأوساط الجهادية اللبنانية، أو السلفية غير الجهادية، وأين كان الجيل الثاني من تنظيم فتح الإسلام يتعلم ويعمل في لبنان قبل أن يتبلور خلايا ناشطة بعد تدمير مخيم نهر البارد.

إلا أن طرح الأمر من الناحية الأمنية لا يمثّل أكثر من محاولة قاصرة أخرى للتعامل مع الملف الجهادي في البلاد. والاعتقالات، وإن كانت من أولويات عمل أجهزة الأمن في البلاد، فإنها حتماً ليست كافية. النزاع بين الطوائف يبلغ من الحدّة ما يوحي بأنّ وجود استشهاديين هو ما ينقص المشهد إذ إن ما يمكن استخلاصه من التوقيفات الأخيرة، التي أُعلنت أمس، وقبلها مجموعة الدوسري الكويتي الذي كان من ضمن الأفغان العرب، هو التالي: إن القاعدة، كما أشار الدكتور أيمن الظواهري أكثر من مرة، ترى في لبنان أرضاً للجهاد، وإن كانت الظروف التقنية لم تعد تساعد على الانتشار الجهادي السريع، إلا أن هذه البقعة الجغرافية قد وضعت تحت النظر كمنفذ لأزمة التنظيم الدولي التي قد لا تطول.
ثانياً، إن في هذه البلاد مجموعات متعددة، قد يُعتقل بعضها، وقد يوضع بعضها الآخر تحت المراقبة الأمنية، إلا أن ثمة فراغاً أمنياً ـــــ سياسياً يسمح لكل من يرغب في الجهاد بالقدوم إلى لبنان لتحقيق طموحاته. فمن ناحية، يعدّ الجهاديون في لبنان أنفسهم تحت الخطر وبحالة غبن، ويرون أنّ اليونيفيل تتصرف كأنها سلطة احتلال غربية تساعد إسرائيل على استكمال أهدافها بالإعداد لحرب مقبلة ولا شك. ومن ناحية أخرى، فإن النزاع بين الطوائف الرئيسية يبلغ من الحدّة بعض الأحيان ما يوحي بأن وجود استشهاديين هو وحده ما ينقص المشهد، كذلك فإن اقتصار المعالجات في ملف رئيسي كملف الجهاديين على الجانب الأمني يزيد من تحشيد الشبان إلى جانب الفكر السلفي الجهادي.
وثالثاً، إن التعامل مع الجهاديين، كما مع المخيمات الفلسطينية ـــــ التي تقف اليوم أمام عتبة تصفية جديدة قد لا نتمكن من تخيّل شكلها ـــــ التعامل مع هذين الملفين قد يكون أخطر من أن يترك للعسكر وحدهم في ظل شرذمة سياسية، وربما بعض التشجيع غير المباشر للجهاديين، عبر النزاعات المذهبية الداخلية.
رابعاً، إن كان من شيء يمكن استنتاجه من بيان الجيش اللبناني، فهو أن إعادة تسليط الضوء على فتح الإسلام يجب أن تكون عبر إعادة القراءة السياسية للمرحلة التي حلّ فيها التنظيم المذكور ضيفاً على البلاد، وأن الخلايا التي تعمل اليوم لم تعد ترتبط بدولة العراق الإسلامية، بل بأفغانستان والخلايا القاعدية في الغرب. وبالتالي فإن الصورة النمطية التي تُرسم للملف الجهادي في لبنان تحتاج إلى نفَس وعلاجات سريعة، وخاصة لناحية التوترات المحلية، ووضع قوات الطوارئ وأوضاع المخيمات الفلسطينية، والعلاقة مع سوريا، كما أوضاع المناطق الفقيرة في لبنان، وموقع الطوائف في السلطة، وموقف ديني واضح في المراكز والمعاهد التعليمية المحلية، قبل أن يبدأ الجنود بمعالجة ظواهر سياسية بالعصا الأمنية.
هل من الأجدى أن نسأل اليوم عن دور سوريا، كما لمّحت إحدى الوكالات الأجنبية، أم نسأل أين أصبحت مطالب وزير العدل، وما الذي قام به فرع المعلومات؟

عدد الاربعاء ٢٢ تموز ٢٠٠٩

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Arab Human Development Report 2009 “Challenges to Human Security in the Arab Countries”

Arab Human Development Report 2009: \”Challenges to Human Security in the Arab Countries\”

After few years of silence, the the UNDP plublishes the last Arab Human Development Report.

Click the link to acces the English or Arabic full text.

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The Obama Peace Engine Splutters by Joshua Landis in Syria Comment

The Obama Peace Engine Splutters

Analysis by Joshua Landis (Monday July 20, 2009) US-Syrian rapprochement seems to have hit an impasse. There has been no good news about the formation of a Lebanese government. Feltman recently stressed that the US has a problem with Syria’s continued support of Hizbullah. The US has not named an ambassador to Damascus, although it promised to do so some time ago. The Charge d’affairs has departed leaving the third in command to run things. The Saudis are also dangling the notion of an ambassador in front of Syria, but haven’t made the final arrangements to send one, just as they have not made arrangements for a meeting between the King and Assad, although there has been plenty of talk about a Syrian-Saudi confab.

The Palestinian front remains as paralyzed as ever. Hamas and the PLO are far from agreeing to form a national unity government. Iraq security arrangements between Damascus and the US also appear to have stalled. The fact that a CENTCOM delegation preceded Mitchell to Damascus last month suggested that military cooperation would begin in tandem with the return of a US ambassador. The fact that no US ambassador has been named to Damascus suggests to me that Syria will likewise drag its feet on military cooperation. Finally, Israel has stonewalled US and Syrian attempts to get talks on the Golan back on track. Netanyahu’s insistence that Israel retain a major portion of the Golan and the Syria abandon its allies as a prerequisite to talks are both killers. Quite possibly, US policy makers believe that they can squeeze Syria to better their advantage now that Damascus’ two regional allies have run into headwinds at the polls. The Lebanese opposition lost elections in Lebanon and the Iranian government is in turmoil over its election misdeeds. Damascus is unlikely to to concede to last minute US bargaining tactics, however.

It will likely stand firm, allowing Lebanon’s emulous factionalism to paralyze progress in forming a government. Assad can also stand back as Netanyahu and Obama play their game of chicken over settlements and the future of Palestinian land. If Obama blinks and allows Netanyahu to continue to expand Israel’s control over Palestinian land, as most expect him to do, it will be Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan — America’s allies — which will take the most heat for America’s failure. They have gambled on Obama and the ability of the US to play a constructive role in the region. The Saudis have insisted that the Palestinians must pursue the path of non-violence, following the practices of Mahatma Gandhi and not those of Hamas and Hizbullah which advocate violent resistance. In the face of US pressure, Syria may have to remind the West that it also has cards to play. Perhaps that is the purpose of President Assad’s public hosting of Muqtada al-Sadr in Damascus?

[End: J.L.]

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