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Old 03-17-2008   #61
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Very interesting article, Ted!
Quote:
The appropriated cultural identity of a Jihadi explains the at times absurd insistence and emphasis on details pertaining to cultural symbols of a largely superficial nature. The battle for control of these symbols became FaI’s centre of gravity as a militant group, allowing it to distinguish itself from mainstream society, to which it certainly did not belong, and from other militant Islamist groups as well. (page 4)
Which explains part of the porosity within the topological space of Jihadi groups and, also, some of the entry points into that topological space.
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Old 04-26-2008   #62
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Default Renewed sectarian conflict in Lebanon?

Fearing a War, Lebanese Prepare by Buying Up Arms
Potential for Violence Between Religious Sects Leaves Many Anxious
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...=moreheadlines


(Find the inaccuracy in the graphic, win a cookie)
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Old 05-08-2008   #63
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Default Meanwhile, back at the neighborhood firefight...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7390943.stm

Supporters of Lebanon's Western-backed government and the Hezbollah-led opposition have been involved in fierce armed clashes in the streets of Beirut.

Television reports showed gunmen firing rifles and rocket-propelled grenades in Corniche al-Mazraa and Ras al-Nabaa.

The fighting began after the leader of Hezbollah described the government's move to close its telecommunications network as a "declaration of war".

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Old 05-19-2008   #64
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Default C'est Liban, n'est pas?

Quote:
Hezbollah Ignites a Sectarian Fuse in Lebanon

...That sentiment has stirred fears that moderate, secular Sunni leaders like Mr. Hariri could lose ground to more radical figures, including the jihadists who thrive in Lebanon’s teeming Palestinian refugee camps. Fatah al Islam, the radical group that fought a bloody three-month battle with the Lebanese Army in a refugee camp in northern Lebanon last year, issued a statement Thursday condemning Hezbollah’s actions. The group also gave a warning: “He who pushes our faces in the dirt must be confronted, even if that means sacrificing our lives and shedding blood.”

A New Kind of Conflict

The Sunni-Shiite conflict is relatively new in Lebanon, where the long civil war that ended in 1990 revolved mostly around tensions between Christians and Muslims, and their differences over the Palestinian presence in the country. But after Iran helped establish Hezbollah in the early 1980s, Lebanon’s long-marginalized Shiites steadily gained power and stature. They have also grown in numbers. Although there has been no census since 1932, Shiites are widely believed to be more numerous than Sunnis or Christians, the country’s other major groups.
This will prove interesting. It is not entirely correct in that the "Muslim" bloc in Lebanon when I was there was hardly a bloc--Sunni versus Shia tensions did exist but they were overshadowed by Muslim-Christian tensions, especially when it came to the Israeli occupied south. A Shia versus Sunni struggle will also echo across the border in Syria with an Alawite (Shia derivative seect) regime and a Sunni majority.

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Old 05-23-2008   #65
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ICG, 15 May 2008: Lebanon: Hizbollah's Weapons Turn Inward
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....The recent escalation in violence was made possible, in part, by the long-standing ambiguity surrounding Hizbollah’s weapons. Lebanon must find a middle ground between irresponsibly allowing Hizbollah their unfettered use and recklessly seeking its forcible disarmament. Until a broader regional settlement is found – one that deals not only with the Arab-Israeli conflict but also relations between the U.S., Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia in particular – one cannot hope for much more. Still, as Lebanon edges toward civil war, that would be no modest achievement.
ISN Security Watch, 16 May 08: Lebanon Resumes Fragile Dialogue
Quote:
...Despite a commitment to renewed dialogue, it remains unclear whether the alteration of the strategic balance between the March 8 opposition bloc and March 14 coalition, implicit in the opposition military successes, can precipitate a breakthrough on the key political issues that have separated the two sides since November 2007.

"I think that Hizbollah may have been damaged much more by the violence than the government in the sense that Hizbollah lost a lot of its legitimacy as a resistance movement that claimed that it would never turn its arms against the country," Shehadi said.

Referring to the violence, Haenni said, "It seems that even sources close to Hizbollah recognize that, in terms of popularity, Hizbollah is going to face severe losses."....
The Economist, 17 May 07: Iran's Tool Fights America's Stooge
Quote:
....The wonder may be that Lebanon has held together at all, and even maintained a veneer of democracy. But this veneer has grown steadily thinner since the end of the 2006 war, which, aside from leaving 1,200 Lebanese dead and 100,000 homeless, also widened the central fissure in Lebanese politics.

This division is often defined, for simplicity's sake, as a split between Hizbullah, backed by Syria and Iran in the interest of confronting Israel and blocking American influence, against the Western-backed, democratically elected government of Fuad Siniora, the Sunni prime minister. The reality is more complicated.....
CEIP, 21 May 08: Syrian/Israeli Peace Talks and Political Deal in Lebanon
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.....I don’t think it’s quite correct to say this is a defeat for the Siniora government. What this is is a recognition of a situation that has been
existing for a long time. And in fact, by recognizing the situation—that is, the real power of Hizbollah to block what the government was doing—it’s an agreement that might allow, in fact, the government to govern a little more than it has been able to do so far. Now, concerning the issue of Hizbollah and whether it has, in fact, suffered a strategic loss, in many ways we will only know with the result of the next parliamentary election.....
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Old 06-26-2008   #66
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The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Focus, 24 Jun 08:

Fighting in Lebanon’s Palestinian Refugee Camps Result of Increased Islamist Influence
Quote:
Approximately a year has passed since the outbreak of violence between the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the armed Islamist group Fatah al-Islam in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in Northern Lebanon; and yet—one year later—the situation in the camps is far from being stable. On the contrary, episodes of violence have spread to the Ain al-Hilweh camp, and the conflict has broadened to include other Salafist factions, such as Jund al-Sham, or Asbat al-Ansar.

In the past few months fighting has resumed in the Ain al-Hilweh camp, the largest Palestinian camp in Lebanon, located near the southern city of Sidon. Accordingly, Ain al-Hilweh—traditionally a foothold of Fatah and the former operating base of Yasser Arafat in the 1980s—is now increasingly under the control of Islamist groups. Among such factions, one of the most active has certainly been Jund al-Sham....
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Old 07-22-2008   #67
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ISN, 16 Jul 08: UN Peace Keeping in Lebanon: A Case Study
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This case study assesses the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the obstacles it faces. It argues that the current UNIFIL force has yet to overcome serious obstacles to achieving its mandate. This in turn is linked to broader national and regional political and security issues that need immediate attention in order to facilitate a resolution of the problems confronting Lebanon as a whole.
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Old 02-11-2009   #68
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Default The Lebanese Armed Forces

A new and very useful report on an understudied topic:

Aram Nerguizian (and Anthony Cordesman), The Lebanese Armed Forces: Challenges and Opportunities in Post-Syria Lebanon, CSIS, working draft 10 February 2009.

For those of you interested in the historical evolution of the LAF, I would also flag Oren Barak's forthcoming The Lebanese Army: A National Institution in a Divided Society.
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Old 02-19-2009   #69
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ICG, 19 Feb 09: Nurturing Instability: Lebanon's Palestinian Refugee Camps
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The vast Palestinian refugee population is routinely forgotten and ignored in much of the Middle East. Not so in Lebanon. Unlike in other host countries, the refugee question remains at the heart of politics, a recurrent source of passionate debate and occasional trigger of violence. The Palestinian presence was a catalyst of the 1975-1990 civil war, Israel’s 1982 invasion and Syrian efforts to bring the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) to heel. Virtually nothing has been done since to genuinely address the problem. Marginalised, deprived of basic political and economic rights, trapped in the camps, bereft of realistic prospects, heavily armed and standing atop multiple fault lines – inter-Lebanese, inter-Palestinian and inter-Arab – the refugee population constitutes a time bomb......
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Old 03-11-2009   #70
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Default Nahr al-Barid update

In ruins for 18 months, a Palestinian enclave languishes in disrepair

Lebanese officials worry that Gaza has overshadowed efforts to help Palestinian refugees there rebuild from a 2007 battle between the Army and militants.

By Nicholas Blanford | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the March 11, 2009 edition

Quote:
NAHR ALBARED REFUGEE CAMP, LEBANON - Rebuilding Gaza isn't the only effort under way to improve the Palestinians' plight. Eighteen months after it was wrecked in fighting between the Lebanese Army and Islamist militants, this impoverished refugee camp is just beginning to be put back together again in a project hampered by a political crisis, slowed by donor apathy, and overshadowed by the war between Hamas and Israel.

"We are telling donors if you really want the camps improved and to end the misery, which makes these places fertile grounds for extremism, then we need resources," says Khalil Makkawi, a former Lebanese ambassador and chairman of the Lebanon-Palestinian Dialogue Committee.

Even though Lebanon has been trying to raise funds to improve conditions for Palestinians across the country, it may not even have enough money to rehouse some 30,000 refugees left homeless after the 2007 battle in Nahr al-Bared.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which is responsible for the welfare of Palestinian refugees, only has sufficient funds to rebuild homes for a quarter of the camp's population.
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Old 03-12-2009   #71
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Default Re-Imaging the Lebanon Track: Toward a New U.S. Policy

Re-Imaging the Lebanon Track: Toward a New U.S. Policy


Quote:
Executive Summary

In the Century Foundation report entitled “Re-Imaging the Lebanon Track: Toward a New U.S. Policy,” Beirut-based political analyst Nicholas Noe argues that, contrary to conventional wisdom, a viable roadmap for disarming Hizbullah through domestic peace-building exists within Lebanon itself—and that it should be pursued vigorously by the Obama administration.

Recognizing the deep challenges confronting both a Syrian-Israeli peace agreement as well as any “grand bargain” between the United States and Iran, Noe suggests these efforts can and should be explored concurrent with US-led efforts in Lebanon, but that the prospects for failure on both tracks, as well as the fast approaching elections this summer, means a new, Lebanon-focused policy is needed in the immediate term.

Based on his reading of Hizbullah and the multitude of limitations it faces, Noe concludes that Obama administration policymakers can better serve U.S. and Lebanese interests by breaking with their predecessors’ inflexible, often needlessly aggressive, approach.

Instead, he urges that they work toward undermining the rationale Hizbullah relies upon to justify its independent weaponry by driving a wedge between it and its vital political alliances and soft supporters across the spectrum of Lebanon’s confessional system. To do this, Noe suggests the following steps:...

View the full Executive Summary and Webcast - released December 10, 2008 - at: http://www.tcf.org/list.asp?type=EV&pubid=243
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Old 03-12-2009   #72
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Default Seriously?

Just read the paper once, but it seems written entirely from the perspective that even a really bad plan is better than no plan at all. It might be the starting point for a discussion, but only if you have a Hezbollah that is close to the one the paper supposes.

It really starts from the view point that if my mother had wheels, she'd be a steam engine.

It also makes a number of very groundless assumptions about how Israel views it's security dynamic with both Hezbollah and the Lebanese Government. Other than that, good effort.
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Old 03-12-2009   #73
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Default Presuppositions

This is a perfectly logical white paper, following the demands of its presuppositions to all of their necessary conclusions. But as the saying goes, input = garbage means output = garbage. Presuppositions mean everything.

If you can ignore what Hezbollah has said about itself for the last two decades and why they do what they do and the reason for their existence, and 220 dead Marines, and all of the globalist, jihadist rhetoric, and so forth, and simply focus on the notion of them being relatively placid chaps that really just want to be heard and respected by their countrymen and have a voice in government, then the report has some salient findings. Sure, if you activate the economy and do some "reconstruction," then their rai·son d'ê·tre as a military organization will end. Presto! No more guns!

But unless you take drugs before reading it, then you're going to come to quite different conclusions.

Smith out. No more time on that report for me.
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Old 06-05-2009   #74
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USIP, 1 Jun 09: Lebanon’s Parliamentary Elections: Anticipating Opportunities and Challenges
Quote:
Executive Summary

• Neither of the two key competing political alliances—the governing March 14th coalition and the opposition March 8th bloc—will decisively win the June 7th parliamentary elections.

• The election provides an important opportunity to place Lebanon on a positive trajectory toward greater reform and reconciliation.

• The stakes are high, but the election is not an existential battle for Lebanon’s identity.
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Old 06-18-2009   #75
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Default Palestinian refugees, Lebanon, and the role of the international community

Building a better relationship: Palestinian refugees, Lebanon, and the role of the international community

Source: International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

Date: 15 Jun 2009

Quote:
Summary

In recent years, official Lebanese policy towards Palestinian refugees in Lebanon has undergone major changes. Increasingly, Lebanese officials have voiced their support for improved social and economic conditions for the refugees, while at the same time maintaining staunch opposition to their permanent resettlement (tawteen) in the country.

These policy changes have been marked by the formation of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC), by limited policy reforms in areas ranging from employment to the issuance of ID to unregistered refugees, as well as an unparalleled change in the tone of official pronouncements. The government has also been an essential partner with UNRWA in efforts to reconstruct Nahr al-Barid refugee camp (NBC), destroyed in fighting between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the radical Fateh al-Islam jihadist group in 2007. Just as important, LPDC has sought to change the narrative of Lebanese-Palestinian relations in a way that holds out greater promise to all communities.

These changes in policies have profound implications for the humanitarian circumstances of the refugees, as well as the economic and security interests of Lebanon. Improved Lebanese-Palestinian relations could also pay significant dividends for the region and international community too.

The continuation and deepening of the reform process is far from certain, however. It could be derailed by political changes following the recent June 2009 elections, local and regional developments, and limited Lebanese government policy capacity. A failure to deliver on promises of NBC reconstruction (due to insufficient donor support) could prove especially damaging.

...
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Old 09-06-2009   #76
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Default lawsuit halts NBC reconstruction

Roman ruins put Nahr al Bared camp rebuild at risk

Mitchell Prothero, Foreign Correspondent
Last Updated: September 05. 2009 11:56PM UAE / September 5. 2009 7:56PM GMT

Quote:
BEIRUT // The seemingly endless struggle by Lebanon’s political factions to form a national unity government appears to have spilt over the efforts to rebuild a Palestinian refugee camp destroyed in 2007, as a major political party has filed a lawsuit to halt reconstruction.

A lawsuit filed by the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), led by the former general, Michel Aoun, demanded that the rebuilding of the Nahr al Bared camp be halted in order to protect Roman ruins that were discovered during the clean up of the 2007 siege, much to the anger of the camp’s 20,000 former residents who are still displaced since the fighting.

...

After the lawsuit succeeded last week, Khalil Mekawi of the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee held an urgent meeting with prime minister Fouad Siniora and warned the prime minister that this decision might cause outrage among Lebanon’s estimated 250,000 Palestinian camp residents that could spill out across the country, leading to, in his words, “chaos”.
Depressing news indeed for those who were hoping that a new chapter in Lebanese-Palestinian relations might be forged in the aftermath of the 2007 NBC clashes.

(Also, UAE-based The National is emerging as an excellent source of English-language regional news, for those of you who may not have seen it before.)
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Old 09-11-2009   #77
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[QUOTE=Rex Brynen;82024]
A lawsuit filed by the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), led by the former general, Michel Aoun, demanded that the rebuilding of the Nahr al Bared camp be halted in order to protect Roman ruins that were discovered during the clean up of the 2007 siege, much to the anger of the camp’s 20,000 former residents who are still displaced since the fighting.

No so much suprising coming from Aoun. He is aSyria pupet now and all he can do is supporting Hezbollah efforts.
In 2006, during the war, what surprised me the most was the fight inside the muslims between shia and suny on their legitimacy to be protect the palestinians in Lebanon.
The war behind the war was the fight between shia and sunny over palestinians. Soon after, Hezbollah was established in Gaza a 95% suny place.
And Aoun is with them...
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Old 09-11-2009   #78
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
No so much suprising coming from Aoun. He is aSyria pupet now and all he can do is supporting Hezbollah efforts.
He's politically ambitious, and for this reason finds it very useful to ally with Syria and Hizbullah--and for their part, they find the alliance equally useful. I don't think "puppet" captures the interests that lie beneath the relationships.

Quote:
In 2006, during the war, what surprised me the most was the fight inside the muslims between shia and suny on their legitimacy to be protect the palestinians in Lebanon.
I'm not sure what you mean here.

Quote:
The war behind the war was the fight between shia and sunny over palestinians. Soon after, Hezbollah was established in Gaza a 95% suny place.
Hizbullah cooperates with Hamas, and for that matter has cooperated with Fateh cells too. It has no real organization/support inside Gaza.
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Old 09-11-2009   #79
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Quote:
In 2006, during the war, what surprised me the most was the fight inside the muslims between shia and suny on their legitimacy to be protect the palestinians in Lebanon.

I'm not sure what you mean here.

By that time (july-august 2006), I was working as head of mission for a muslim humanitarian organisation based in UK (Islamic Relief). I did enter Lebanon during the war and conducted humanitarian operations in Tyr/Sour, Nabathiya and long the border with Israel.
I have been able to witness the struggle inside muslim humanitarian NGOs on Palestinian cause. Most of the middle east based muslim humanitarian NGOs are in fact state organisations (more or less). Them flowded palestinian camps with aid while they refused to provide aid to isolated shia populations in the battle field.
With some others (ICRC, Premiere Urgence, MSF), we were the only ones going physically there to deliver food aid.
There were even fatwa given by saoudi arabia respected religious leaders saying that the suny should not help the shia as it was tem who brought war to Lebanon and Palestinian.

I really witnessed an inside battle between shia and suny on their legitimacy to be the voice and the protector of palestinians, in Lebanon and in Palestine. The battle in the camps, just after the war, between lebanese army and palestinian foundamentalist did not surprised me so much. As the divisions inside the suny between "foundamentalists" and "progressists" were deep during the july war. In fact the inside challenge between lebanon state was more about who will stay between Hariri and foundamentalist inside the suny camp rather between Lebanon government and Hezbollah.
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Old 11-12-2009   #80
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WINEP, Nov 09: A Victory for Islamism? The Second Lebanon War and Its Repercussions
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....The political fallout of the 2006 war continues to be felt in Lebanon. In November 2006, Hizballah suspended its participation in the Lebanese cabinet, paralyzing the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Simultaneously, the party erected a tent camp in central Beirut, bringing normal business to a standstill. Hizballah and its supporters then laid siege to the parliament and the prime minister’s headquarters, further undermining the state. Despite these actions, Siniora’s rump government continued to function, albeit without Shiite ministers.

The crisis escalated in spring 2008 when the government demanded an investigation into Hizballah’s security cameras at Beirut airport and its autonomous telecommunications network. Tensions turned to violence in May of that year, when Hizballah took over West Beirut by armed force. The government and opposition struck an agreement in Doha, Qatar, to defuse the crisis, and a coalition government was formed that once again included Hizballah ministers. In fact, Hizballah’s position in the government was strengthened by the Doha Accord, which provided the opposition with a blocking third of ministers and essentially gave the Party of God veto power over all government decisions.

Hizballah’s increasingly obvious influence as a kingmaker in Lebanese politics has allowed the party to emphasize its demands for a more Islamic society and perpetual war against Israel. Its success to date is based on a strategy of adapting to the local political structure while maintaining its long-term regional goals....
USIP, 10 Nov 09: Lebanon's Unstable Equilibrium
Quote:
Lebanon's recently announced national unity government has eased fears that the country would once again be mired in a dangerous political stalemate. Yet, despite the recent breakthrough, Lebanon's unstable equilibrium -- marked by both internal and regional tensions - - could still devolve into serious violence. Deep seated sectarian animosities persist, raising the prospects for political instability and civil strife if unaddressed. Regionally, mounting tensions with Israel raise the worrisome possibility of isolated border incidents spiraling into more serious conflict. Taken together these two underlying challenges to stability -- internal civil unrest and regional conflict with Israel -- could undermine Lebanon’s fragile peace. This paper will examine internal challenges to Lebanon’s stability.....

Last edited by Jedburgh; 11-12-2009 at 02:18 PM.
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