Thursday, March 31, 2005

when I juxtapose what ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE writes in this passage onto Lebanon, I get disheartened....

"...Thus, the most democratic country on the face of the earth is that in which men have, in our time, carried to the highest perfection the art of pursuing in common the object of their common desires and have applied this new science to the greatest number of purposes. Is this the result of accident, or is there in reality any necessary connection between the principle of association and that of equality?

Aristocratic communities always contain, among a multitude of persons who by themselves are powerless, a small number of powerful and wealthy citizens, each of whom can achieve great undertakings single-handed. In aristocratic societies men do not need to combine in order to act, because they are strongly held together. Every wealthy and powerful citizen constitutes the head of a permanent and compulsory association, composed of all those who are dependent upon him or whom he makes subservient to the execution of his designs.

Among democratic nations, on the contrary, all the citizens are independent and feeble; they can do hardly anything by themselves, and none of them can oblige his fellow men to lend him their assistance. They all, therefore, become powerless if they do not learn voluntarily to help one another...."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


This article cracked me up! I love it when people throw verbal punches at each other. My caveat, of course, is that the fists are smothered with sarcasim.

Anyways, I have to admit: the Interior Ministry seems to have some pretty good writers....

Monday, March 28, 2005

Lebanese Sectarianism - the discussion continues...


Thank you for you complements... I really appreciate them.

You responded to my specific observations with broad generalizations about where you feel Lebanon is headed.

I cannot hold you to it, because I think that if I were in your shoes, I'd probably do the same - most likely with less skill than you.

With regards to some of the points you make, I will state the following:

I would like to believe that Lebanese behave the way they do because the country is still in an initial phase of the "development process." I would also like to believe that dynamic systems always correct themselves for the better. A good counter-example to that claim is the re-segregation of American schools that is taking place today as whites and blacks willingly move to separate neighborhoods and send their kids to all-white & all-black schools. However, people here are noticing that development, and trying their best to arrest it.

The thing I keep on having to remind myself about Lebanon is that we don't have to just live together - we've been doing that for ages. We have to start thinking about how it is we want to live together.

A friend once told me that the diversity in America shocked her after leaving Lebanon (which she thought was one of the most diverse countries in the world). My response to her was that in America you have 300 people with different backgrounds, and in Lebanon, you have 20. The difference is that those 300 people each have their own apartment, whereas those 20 all live in one room.

The issue here is not physical space; it is psychological. I feel that in Lebanon, we live with a village mentality in the internet age. People (especially our parents) still judge each other and interact as if they were living in a village. Not only is their “group mentality” very strong, but the criteria for someone to be included in that group is ridiculously rigid. It’s almost like, if someone enters a house with his left foot instead of his right, he is automatically disqualified from consideration.

Whether or not this kind of behavior was a virtue a century ago, when the main form of transportation was horses and donkeys, is not for me to decide. But during an era when thousands of Lebanese from all over the country come together in one university campus, this behavior becomes ridiculous. Have any of you noticed how Lebanese insist on retaining their “village identities” even though their families have been living in Beirut for generations? My reaction to this is why? Why haven’t I grown up believing that I am part of the “cosmopolitan community” in Beirut, rather than a village that I barely visit twice a year? Mustapha, you and I, and the majority of other Lebanese bloggers think in a similar fashion, so why do we still identify ourselves with towns or sects even though we are probably more similar to each other than we’ll ever be to our cousins or relatives?

As I said in my previous post, our whole psychology needs to change. This is no easy task… and success is questionable. However, my hope is that this huge national gathering that took place only a couple of weeks ago will nudge things towards the right direction. In other words, I am hoping for an acceleration of Mustapha’s “development process.”

Day 3: From Tripoli

From Tripoli I write you--a short trip for family reasons has come at the right time when I really longed to be back to beloved Lebanon. What can I say about how things are from inside here?....

Well, let's just say that there is fear; it's amazing how when we're away from Lebanon we tend to synthesize news and analyze opinions and speeches in almost a vacuum...and definitely our discourse has been bold on this blog. Writing from all feels different.

The Lebanese people never fail to amaze me. We have such an appetite for life. The night I arrived home, a bomb blasted in Bouchrieh; the same night, my family danced joyfully for my return until the early hours of the morning...This is how we are. This is how it was during the war...and after the war. We lived through it and we overcame it when it ended. We hate defeat; we love life.

On the political level...there is fear and that is saddening and definitely a striking contrast from the spirit a month ago. We don't leave our homes at night. Cars that have any blue signs on them or pictures of those affiliated with Hariri have been a target of sabotage and attacks lately. More and more people are being advised not to wear the blue sign, symbolizing the call for the truth of Hariri's assassination. Moreover, there has been numerous skirmishes and violent confrontations here and there, except that they don't get broadcast....Tripoli is almost divided: a section that has former Minister Jisr's and Hariri's pictures and the other Karami's...

People, yes, have gotten out of their silence and our family gatherings are all about politics, but still such talk is still bound within four walls...the culture of "fear" is still clutching on to us and not letting go...we're scared of speaking out loud about the "others"; we still whisper at times... We suspect that this person or that might be someone "affiliated" and "is recording everything we utter." We talk of prisoners who have been armed and released north....

This is a glimpse of things from here--not a political analysis, but a description of the landscape from the heart to the heart.

I will write soon...


"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Sunday, March 27, 2005

A contrast of Lebanese and American psyches

One of the things that amazes me about American society is how much of a "to do" culture it is. Whenever you meet someone, the first thing that person tells you is what he does in his life. In the psyche of the American, a person is worth as much as his resume, and the lowest life form is the individual who is where he is at because he somehow inherited it.

One of the virtues I find in this obsession with "doing" is existential. The average American is the most restless human being in the world. He's a workoholic who works more than eight hours a day, not because he needs to feed himself, but because he wants to work. There is an unquenchable drive to be engaged in an activity; to help make something happen.

Another virtue of this attitude is, ironically, social. Professions tend to bring more people together than race, nationality or religious creed. In social gatherings, I find that although people are interested in my background and do ask me to elaborate, discussions revolve around the question: "so, what have you been doing lately?" or "what do you do in life?"

Compare that reality with the situation in Lebanon. Some of the most important questions asked there are: "where are you from?" "from what village is your dad? and mom?" "what's your family name?" and "who's your grand father?" When discussing the virtues of an individual, one of the most important criteria is summarized in the following question: is he from a good family?

In short, the issue of "who you are" is one of the biggest in Lebanese society; and although what you do is definitely important, it comes in a distant second place.

The most important downside of this societal trait is existential. People, especially men, feel that their life is justified mainly by being who they are. Why should Jubran do something worthwhile when he already "earns" admiration for simply being the son of Malek? Why should Mohammed/Joseph care about doing something in their lives when they both feel that just by being Muslim/Christian they are "better off", and are comforted by the prospect of eventual salvation - even though neither really practices his religion?

More damaging, however, is the behavior of those individuals who are motivated. Whatever enterprise they wish to undertake must be justified by answering the following questions: how does this benefit you (as if doing something is not inherently beneficial)? how does if benefit your family? your village? your sect? etc, etc....

This mindset simply does wonders for poisoning Lebanon's social environment. Identity factors into what friends you hang out with, who you support in the elections (rather than, for example, who will give you a tax break or better garbage collection), who you marry, etc....

I sometimes ask myself: if Lebanese valued "what they did" as much as americans do, how different would things be? If people were drawn together because of what they do in life rather than what sect or village they're from, what would happen to our infamous sectarianism?

The majority of Lebanese will say that they are not sectarian, but the political structure forces them to be that way. Unfortunately, I have to conclude that they are being dishonest with themselves and the rest of us. It goes much deeper than simply politics. Who you are is a question that is imbeded in our psyche, and seems to be a permanent fixture.

In my opinion, Lebanese need to look at themselves in the mirror before anything else. Some major behavioral changes need to take place if we are ever to overcome some of the animosity that currently exists between us. Politicians can always change the rules of the game, but in my opinion the problem exists within the people at large; and can only be remedied by them.

Interesting discussion

come share your opinion in this interesting discussion that is going on in Lebanese Political Journal.

Click on the title to go straight to the post.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Worth Million Words Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A few thoughts I would like to share...

Two bombs have exploded in the past few days, killing at least two people and causing considerable damage. The message that this sends seems to be that the Lebanese have to choose between SECURITY and SOVEREIGNTY. But it may well be that this time the Lebanese want both.

Leaders taking part in the ARAB LEAGUE SUMMIT in Algiers -although most of them asked Assad to comply with UN resolution 1559- did not speak with a strong enough voice. With Lahoud asking them for help in the face of foreign interference, and the opposition urging them to support their fight, the Arab leaders must have found it hard -or simply too politically costly- to take sides. On another note, their rejection of Jordan's proposal for unconditional diplomatic ties with Israel would make it potentially impossible for Lebanon to engage in normalisation talks with Israel before the step is taken by more powerful Arab countries (excluding Jordan and Egypt). Does that strengthen Hizballah's argument for retaining its arms?

-On Bush's position concerning the 'democratic wave' seemingly sweeping the Middle East ( in today's International Herald Tribune)-
In response to an article entitled "still think Bush was wrong?", E. H. Gould wrote: << Thanking President George W. Bush for the "Arab Spring" is like crediting a crowing rooster for the rising sun. In fact, the Arabs' move toward freedom is despite Bush, not because of him. The same brave Egyptians who now call for free elections in their country were beaten and arrested in the streets of Cairo when they protested the US invasion of Iraq. Bush, unlike any other American president in memory, is widely detested in the Arab world. Bush's espousal of "democracy" only cheapens the world in the Arab eyes and embarrasses reformers.>>
(I thought the first sentence presented a good analogy and wanted to share it with you).

Hizballah Secretary General Sayyed Nasrallah announced that he wanted to discuss the Party of God's status in Lebanese political life with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir (By the way, have you noticed that both men have 'Nasrallah', or "victory of God" in the names?). Both men are widely recognised by most Lebanese as reasonable, rational men. This may perhaps come as a surprise considering the fact that they are both religious figures. But in a country where politicians do not always inspire great trust, the two men appear to have, if not the trust, at least the respect of the people. Such steps that are guided by reason -rather than interest- give some reassurance that not all is to be determined by force and events beyond our control.

The System is Crumbling!

The system is crumbling! 48 hours before Fitzgerald's report is read out loud to the whole world, the magistrate charged with overseeing the Hariri murder investigation Abu Arraj stepped down... (funnily enough, it's almost like black comedy, Rabiah Qaddoura charged him with overseeing now the Jamil El-Sayyid file....)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Yet another bomb!

Events on the ground are proving that the Syrians have not left Lebanon. They have withdrawn some of their troops and ostensibly closed their "intelligence offices" in Beirut and a few towns, but they still control Lebanon.

I have arrived at a conclusion: Everytime Lahoud "releases a statement," I will ignore that it came from that sorry-excuse-for-a-president; and tell myself that it was released direct from Damascus. Lahoud is nothing but the face of the Syrian apparatus in Lebanon. Until Lebanon is clensed from both him and that apparatus, I will not consider my country liberated.

I have also arrived at another conclusion: Wi'am Wahhab has to be arrested with all the other traitors once all this is over. He is the prototypical Syrian stooge. A few months ago he was a worthless journalist. Then the Syrians shoved him into Omar Karami's government; and today, as a "former minister" he has the god given right to spill his venom onto the airwaves -- How Syrian can this get???

Syria isn't gonna let go... at least not as easily as we think.

One of the most contentious issues that lebanon is dealing with now is:

what do we do with Syria's "leftovers"?

the opposition wants to get rid of them... Hizballah is adamant that these individuals don't suffer the fate of the SLA big-wigs.

Some estimates put Syria's Lebanon-profits at $750 million a year in hard currency. They had Lebanese partners, and are probably counting on them to guard their "assets" after the withdrawal.

Let me just provide some examples of Syrian-Lebanese "economic cooperation":

1. syria has connected its electricity grid to Lebanon's and is "doing us a favor" by selling us power. The problem with their generosity is that we have more than enough power-generation capacity - our problem is with feul aquisition.

2. Last year, Syria completed a natural gas pipeline into Lebanon. This pipeline is supposed to supply us with "cheap and reliable" gas for our power plants. The problem with this offer is that Qatar (and even Iran) have offered us gas at much cheaper rates.

The reality is clear:

Lebanon was, and still is, a major source of hard currency for the Syrian regime and its cronies. They're not gonna let go that easily!

MP Walid Ido Attacked!

I just read on the tayyar website that MP Walid Ido was attacked by unknown assailants while giving a lecture alongside MP Akram Shehayyib at the Arab University. The army right now has encircled the university. I am still waiting for more news and will sure update this entry accordingly.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Ahdab, Fatfat, NY Times, and Impeachment

There a number of issues I would like to talk about that have occupied my mind this weekend:

  1. MP Mosbah Ahdab suddenly was missing from meetings and gatherings since the Opposition delegation's return from Europe two weeks ago. Just yesterday, he appeared on the Future news hour giving out a press release from his house in Tripoli. I just realized then that he is being threatened; he even complained of threats to the Opposition members' lives, their families lives and their property, but of course he did not talk about himself. This is a sad situation...
  2. Simultaneously then I was able to make the connection with MP Ahmad Fatfat. He also did complain of phone threats (but this person is always more blunt and talks about details) during an informal press conference the Opposition held after the US members of Congress visited MP Hamade's house. Did the brace that MP Fatfat is wearing around his neck mean anything to you? To me it means that someone has attacked him and twisted his neck...
  3. The third issue is with today's news article I read by Neil McFarquhar from the NY Times that is absolutely enlightening! It basically lays out the truth about Hariri's struggle with Syria since the summer and how he had a plan to oust Lahoud by winning the majority of the Parlimentary seats after the elections. Click on the following link to read the full text: A Must Read!
  4. Finally, I read that President Lahoud will not be ousted unless impeached. For God's sake, even American Presidents consider outright resignation before impeachment is dealt with. Who does Lahoud think himself?
"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Friday, March 18, 2005

intelligence services respond!

Tonight, 12:30 AM in Beirut, a car-bomb exploded in a suburb of Beirut. The car exploded in a commercial strip, and initial reports indicate that the casualties are few.

This is Jamil el Seyyed's warning. He's not going down without a fight. Tonight it was in a sparsly populated area; tomorrow, who knows!

Yesterday he gave an unprecedented press conference in which he proclaimed that he would "sue himself for neglegence" - all of you know what I think about that (if you don't, read my last post).

Almost all politicians condemned him for doing so. Their reason: the Lebeanese constitution stipulates that bureaucrats are barred from interacting with the public. Their only means for doing so are through the people's representatives (ministers and parliament members).

I guess that we've just received his response: "If I can't talk, who's gonna stop me from blowing things up?"

What should we expect next? A State of Emergency?

Hizbullah: The Next Contentious Issue On Our Agenda

I heard on the news today that the Opposition has renewed its efforts at reaching out to Berri and Sayyid Nasrallah, despite Sayyid Nasrallah's apparent disagreement on many issues that the Opposition espouses. I ask myself why? Well, because I believe that, and it has grown stronger with the first steps that the Syrian forces have taken towards withdrawal, do not want war. I'm serious and I can sense it despite the hundreds of miles that separate me from beloved Lebanon.) The Opposition's tireless attempt at dialoguing with Hizbullah has made me steer away from a dark thought I've been housing inside me for the past two days, especially pursuant to Sayyid Nasrallah's interview with Al-Manar, that we might be heading towards the abyss.

This whole Lebanese political arena, makes your hopes spike in extreme directions: one day optimistic, the other weary and afraid. But let me share with you my thoughts that I recorded yesterday. I didn't have time to enter them into the blog due to work.

"I listened to Patriarch Sfeir talking on a Kalam Innas interview on LBC. What he said was so full of logic--Why would Hizbullah keep arms while other parties are denied? The state should be the only entity that has the legitimate right to bear arms. Hizbullah is respected, is not a militia or a terrorist organization, but of course if the state is to assume sovereignty, there's no need for a military wing to Hizbullah. They'll become a political party, which they are, and continue providing indispensible social and economic support to their constituencies. He also added that Lebanon is not able to fight for the liberation of Palestine. If Lebanon is liberated, then there is no need for an armed resistance outside of the realm of the state (for God's sake, King Abdullah of Jordan proposed on the Arab League agenda to include a proposal to naturalize relations with Israel.)

Anything wrong with what the Patriarch said? I truely subscribe to his stands; they are logical, if logic is subscribed to in politics or political discourse. I'm afraid that it has become more and more apparent that Hizbullah's disarmament will wreak havoc in our country. The Syrian presence is not an issue anymore; they're withdrawing and will continue to do so. So it's Hizbullah, the next contentious issue on the Lebanese agenda. They will not disarm. And why would anyone want to lay down arms when they're at the peak of their power and popularity? I'm starting to be afraid...afraid that the army would be forced into an unwanted confrontation. Dialogue--they've been talking about dialogue, dialogue about what? The Opposition claims Hizbullah's disarmament issue is Lebanese. Hizbullah on the other hand does not want to give in to the Lebanese will. They're afraid of giving in, just like how the Opposition will not give in to joining Karami's government for fear that its demands would be up for a vote and negotiation. So I don't know where the dialogue will lead..."

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Thursday, March 17, 2005

I am tense and angry!

Two days after a protest that would have brought down the most formidable government, there are still no positive developments worth mentioning! Why? A tactic I call: "stall & divide".

Today, the head of one Lebanese inteligence service said: "I have sued myself for negligence and will abide by the ruling of the courts!" Okay... has anyone heard of such a thing? "I have sued myself..." To add insult to injury, the SoB didn't even bother to step down! So my question is: how is the court supposed to arrive at a fair ruling if the suspect is still the most dangerous man in the country? Maybe someone can enlighten me on that one!

Yesterday, we also got Nasrallah on Television. The hopefull among us probably expected some kind of concession... some kind of nod to the massive turn out on Monday. But Nooo!!!! Mr. Nasrallah said, in very eloquent terms, pretty much what he's been saying all along.

Why? Why the obstinance? Why the stubborness? All they do is stall, and try to divide the opposition. They keep on repeating the same thing: We have to defend ourselves from Zionists; and "some" members of the opposition are traitors because of what they did during the civil war.

Sor far they're failing. But for how long are they going to try? A few days; weeks; months?!?! When are they going to concede that they've been defeated?


"A Coup d' Etat took place in Damascus late last night (March/15/05). Intelligence reports coming from within the Syrian Military Command indicate the following:

A rebellion split The Syrian Army in two factions..."

You can read further on by clicking on the title. What do you think about this information? And even if I called my family to inquire about the truth of this matter, do you think that they would even want to talk about it over the phone?

There is even more intelligence information on Hariri's assassination attempt and cover-up.

Please let me know your thoughts....

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Reuters On Nasrallah's Al-Manar Interview

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Pro-Syrian Hizbollah guerrillas will keep their weapons despite U.S. pressure and the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, the group's chief said on Wednesday.

"I'm holding on to the weapons of the resistance because I think the resistance ... is the best formula to protect Lebanon and to deter any Israeli aggression," Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said in a live television interview with Hizbollah's al-Manar station.

Asked for how long the group would keep its weapons, he said:

"As long as Lebanon is threatened, even if we remain threatened for a million years, our will to our children, grand children and great grand children is that their national, human, moral and religious holy duty is to protect their people."

Karami: Let Hariri Demonstration Feed You!

Can you believe that three students were kicked out of an orphanage funded by PM Omar Karami in Tripoli because their parents attended the Monday demonstrations in Beirut? The orphanage principal told the children, "Let the Hariri demonstration feed you and dress you."

I'm just amazed at the pettiness of Karami's moves. Where does he think he's heading?...

News Items: Bahia, Jumblatt, Karami, Sfeir

Three interesting news items as of today morning (U.S. Eastern time):

  1. MP Bahia Hariri was chosen by the Hariri family and the Tayyar Al-Mustaqbal Parliamentary bloc to take over Rafiq Hariri's leadership. She's definitely taking the helm of the Prime Minister position after Karami fails to create a national coalition government. And I will be the first to welcome such an honorable move.
  2. PM Karami announced the cancellation of the Tripoli demonstration that was scheduled for this upcoming Friday, after its postponement from last week.
  3. MP Walid Jumblatt has suspended dialogue with Hizbullah after being branded as a Jewish Rabbi in the Nabatieh demonstration that took place last Sunday.

In less than an hour, a press release will be held in the White House between President Bush and Patriarch Sfeir. I believe that the Opposition, including two individuals whom I call "bridges"--namely MP Bahia Hariri and MP Mohsen Dalloul--have taken their best shot at attempting to build a bridge with Hizbullah. I am anxiously awaiting Sfeir's remarks to see whether he puts the ultimate seal on that attempt...If all goes well, then the ball will be clearly this time in Hizbullah's court and so they can play the waiting game no more...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

the clash of two visions: Arab-Israeli peace vs. Iranian-Israeli conflict

Yesterday proved to be a sweeping defeat for Hizballah. Hassan Nasrallah's claim that "the majority" was behind him is now shattered. His political strength melted away as Lebanese from every region of Lebanon and all of its sects rallied behind the banners of "the opposition." One vision for Lebanon finally overpowered the other in what has become an epic political battle that will be written about for years to come!

Three major questions now have to be answered in order to grasp what exactly happened:

- What are these two visions?
- Why did Hizballah make the decision to not join the opposition?
- How was Hizballah defeated?

In order to answer those questions, I have decided to step back and look at the regional and international political spheres. My reason for doing so is simple; international powers interfere far too much in Lebanon's domestic affairs.

International players cannot be overlooked

The three major international-local "couplings" in Lebanon are as follows:

1. Iran - Hizballah
2. Saudi Arabia & Kuwait - the Future Movement (i.e. Hariri)
3. France & the USA - the Future Movement, Qornet Shehwan and the Tayyar (both of which house the most prominent Christian politicians)

Each of these international players have their unique policy positions regarding the most contentious issue affecting Lebanon: the Arab-Israeli conflict.

- Iran remains the only major power in the Middle East that insists on maintaining a war footing against Israel and continues to categorically refuse even to consider normalizing relations. Their reasons could be the need for a close and dangerous enemy; the desire to out-do Saudi Arabia (their major Islamic competitor) in efforts to free the third holiest site of Islam from Israeli occupation; and maybe others that I am not aware of. The point is that the Iranian regime sees Israel purely as a foe and nothing else.

- Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, on the other hand, have all but normalized relations with Israel. We should not forget the Saudi-sponsored Arab League Summit held in Beirut that offered newly elected Prime Minister Sharon full recognition of Israel by all Arab states if Israel withdrew to pre-1967 lines (among other demands).

- And finally, France and the US naturally promote Arab-Israeli peace.

International positions correlate with positions taken by opposing camps

There is an obvious correlation between the positions of the international powers and the two opposing camps in Lebanon; hence “the two visions for the country.” The first is a Lebanon that is an open front in the war against Israel – a war that is increasingly looking like an Iranian-Israeli conflict, rather than an Arab-Israeli conflict. The second vision for Lebanon is of course the contrary. It is a vision in which Lebanon goes along with other Arab countries and signs a peace deal after all is said and done.

Hassan Nasrallah miscalculated by not joining the opposition

Now I will try to answer the more difficult question of why Nasrallah chose not to join the opposition. It is difficult because the opposition was Hizballah’s international umbrella. They were, and continue to be, the barrier that protects Hizballah from being labelled as a “terrorist group” rather than a “national resistance” group.

In my opinion, Nasrallah was either pressured by the Iranians to take his stand, or saw the political void left by Hariri as an opportunity to increase Hizballah’s influence and thus force the opposition to accept its own (i.e. Iran’s) vision for Lebanon. Either way, it is obvious he miscalculated.

Nasrallah miscalculated because he did not foresee the Saudi and Kuwaiti reaction. In the beginning, the “loyalists” consisted of all of Lebanon’s sects – including Sunnis, some Druze and even Maronites. Today, it has become clear that Hizballah is isolated. Tripoli’s demonstration was not cancelled because of bad weather. It was cancelled because the Saudis and Kuwaitis probably placed tremendous pressure on the Sunni notables of the city to cancel it.

The hidden conflict: a fight over influence

The Gulf Sheikhdoms see Lebanon as another battlefront for influence, with them on one side and the Iranian regime on the other. Hizballah, to them, is merely an extension of that regime, and they will not allow Lebanon to fall under its dominance. In Bahrain, Iraq and even Saudi Arabia, the Sheikhdoms have been trying to contain a new Shi’a resurgence. They see Iran as the catalyst, and seem to be very threatened by it. Lebanon, in there eyes, is only the newest battlefield, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to contain the spread of Iran's influence. There lies Nasrallah’s miscalculation – he forgot that in Lebanon all politics is not local… its international! Although his party's position is supported by a considerable percentage of the population, he was not going to be allowed to "set Lebanon's agenda."

Lebanon's Future looks bright...

Behind all this international jockeying, the fact remains that some very powerful events took place on the ground in Lebanon - events that bode well for all Lebanese.

First and foremost, the Syrian Army, along with its intelligence services, is packing up. That reality, in itself, is a Godsend. The second development, of almost equal importance, is the unparalleled unity that the opposition was able to maintain with such impeccable discipline. Finally, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese from all sects and from all corners of the country participated in a massive collective enterprise that will forever be enshrined in our memories.

All these developments could be taken as signs of better things to come. Lebanon is not going back to way things were before 1975, it moving forward into a better era.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Lebanon's biggest party ever!!!!! Posted by Hello
Maronites, Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Sunnis, Shi'as and Druze all united for Lebanon!
(Hizballah by no means represents all of Lebanon or Lebanon's Shia population)

Wanna see some pictures?

For those of you who are hungry for pictures, click on this link!

Understanding the political maneuvering in Lebanon

Over the past week, the basic positions taken by the two opposing camps in Lebanon have been the following:

Hizballah & the authorities claim that they want to remove Hariri’s assassination from the political rhetoric, and turn the issue into a purely judicial/investigative one. After that is done, they state that they would like to move on to the negotiating table with all Lebanese parties – without any prior conditions

The Opposition on the other hand, has categorically denied Hizballah’s demand. It has insisted on keeping Hariri’s assassination within the political rhetoric; and has refused to sit down on the negotiating table until their main demands have been met. These demands are:

- the full withdrawal of Syrian troops and intelligence personnel,
- the creation of an international investigating commission,
- and the resignation of all the major security chiefs in the country.

On the surface it appears that the differences between the two positions are somewhat superficial. It seems that the only disparity pertains to timing, and whether or not to hold the Lebanese security chiefs responsible for Hariri’s assasination.

However, I believe that the reality is quite different. What is now termed “the opposition” spans almost the entire Lebanese political spectrum – with, of course, the exception of Hizballah. Each of these parties and individuals naturally has political differences and objectives. The only glue uniting them today is that list of three basic demands that act as the lowest common denominator.

Therefore it is safe to assume that Hizballah’s call for sitting on the negotiating table (without any conditions) is an intelligent tactic with the objective of dividing the opposition. As I mentioned above, their unity is only skin deep; and once they do sit down on those chairs their differences are bound to surface – a very good example is the differing opinions with regards to UN Security Council Resolution 1559.

Of course, it is easy to foresee that if Hizballah's tactic works, the political desire for an international investigating commission, the resignation of the security chiefs, and full Syrian withdrawal from Lebanese territory will be fractured. Furthermore, Hizballah will not have to break its promise for a full judicial inquiry into the assassination because there will no longer be the political consensus for one.

Why is it not in the interest of Hizballah to carry out a real judicial inquiry into Hariri’s murder? Simple: The Lebanese intelligence sevices are, most likely, implicated; and it is not in Hizballah’s interest to destroy the apparatuses which have thus far protected its flank while facing Israel.

I see two options for Hizballah. The first is conceding to this overwhelming show of political force displayed by the opposition. The second is continuing in its attempts to divide its large but fragile political foe - maybe through more drastic means.

On the other hand, if the opposition does manage to maintain its unity by sticking to those three basic demands prior to joining any negotiations, I do not think that even President Lahoud will be able to withstand the pressure that is building against him.

Iranians... take heed... see the alternative!

The Iranian regime is represented in Lebanon today by Hizballah - that is no big secret.

The protest last Teusday was vintage Iranian - it is easy to have pictured the Iranian "Supreme Leader" or one of the other religious zealots giving a speach rather than Nasrallah.

I hope Iranians see today's protest. I want the reformists to see Lebanon today -- to see the alternative. I want the reformist in Iran to take heart - to be encouraged - to be reinvigorated.

A theocratic state is not the only path!!!

Get rid of your misery! Get rid of your shackles!

Fight for Freedom!

The Glorious Tsunami

I wish I was part of this glorious tsunami...the Mediterranean wash away the scum, the dirt, the fear, the darkness, the "ghosts"...If in Central Beirut stands a 1.5 million tsunami, I believe that a 10 million Lebanese tsunami from all over the world is standing there in spirit and soul. Koullouna Lil Watan, Koullouna Li Loubnan...Shoukran Ya Allah.

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

UN Team To Announce "THE TRUTH"

UN finds evidence of official cover-up in Hariri assassination
March 14, 2005
The Independent

"As the UN’s Irish-led special investigation team here prepares to report that the Lebanese authorities have covered up the evidence of the February 14 murder of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, the murdered statesman’s two sons have fled Lebanon after hearing that they, too, may be assassinated in the coming week...

US President George W Bush is expected to announce this week that Syrian – and perhaps Lebanese – military intelligence officers were involved in Hariri’s killing; the bombing took the lives of 18 other civilians.

The UN’s Irish, Egyptian and Moroccan investigation team has now been joined by three Swiss bomb experts following the discovery that many of the smashed vehicles in Hariri’s convoy were moved from the scene of the massacre only hours after the bombing and before any time for an independent investigation.

Yesterday, frogmen were sent into the sea off the Beirut Corniche to recover the wreckage of the one car in the Hariri convoy that was not taken away by the authorities because it was blasted over a hotel wall into the Mediterranean by the force of the explosion. If they successfully recover parts of the vehicle, they may be able to discover the nature of the explosives....

Some members of the Hariri family have been told that the report of the UN enquiry team will be so devastating that it will force a full international investigation of the murder of ‘Mr Lebanon’ and his entourage..."

OH MY GOD!!!!!!!










Sunday, March 13, 2005

Then and Now...

When I look at pictures of the first protests in Beirut I feel joy and hope. It appeared that all faiths had come together, and that Lebanon was truly comming together under its flag, and national anthem. Today the picture has changed. We are divided. We are flexing our sectarian muscles.

Tomorrow's protest is not going to be the same protests that were held weeks ago. They are bussing people in from the Bekaa, the North and the South. Tomorrow's protest are going to be a message to Hizballah and the world: "you're not the only ones who have numbers, we do too!"

My impulse tells me that Nasrallah is responsible for this division. He is responsible because he made the decision to not join the opposition's ranks. Thus far, all we can do is speculate what his rationale behind that decision was. I hope it was a good one though... because he is responsible for shattering the illusion of unity. For although it was an illusion, it had strength; and in the future, when we all look back to this moment in time we're going to say: "oh that was a frightening stage in our history... a stage where sectarian animosity spilled out into the streets."

Had Nasrallah made a different choice, we might have looked back on these past few weeks and said: "those were the glorious days... the days when Lebanese forgot about their sectarian animosities and united behind a single message."

Nasrallah... why??? was it worth it??? You shattered our dream!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Removal of previous post

I have removed the previous post titled "murderers" because I will not allow my words to be used as weapons in the war by some in the West to discredit Islam, and proselitize the virtues of their own faith.

My point was to criticise particular individuals and groups who use "God" to justify their atrocoties.

There is no shortage of people who do this sort of thing whatever their faith! Need I remind viewers of the Crusades and the Inquisition? The Sacking of Jerusalem and Constantinople? All in the name of God!

Religion is not the Problem - it never was! People are!

Anyways, I won't allow anymore posts (or comments) concerning either faith or God. I made a mistake that will not be repeated again.

Friday, March 11, 2005


I am first and foremost a proud Lebanese. My dream is to see my country AND MY REGION regain its prominence and prosperity. A Middle Eastern EU (maybe an MEU) can only be to our advantage and the benefit of everyone! It pains me to see countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, China and India grow and prosper while we drown in our oil and wallow in self-pity and self-righteousness.

Today, the Middle East is second only to Sub Saharan Africa in most UNDP human development indexes; and in some cases we are even worse off (Don't take my word for it; you can go check it for your self). Is that acceptable? Can that be justified by the "Arab-Israeli" conflict? We have most of the oil in the world, yet somehow we remain some of the least civilized... is that acceptable?

Fellow compatriots I wish to say the following:

YES! We (as a part of the Arab world) have been beaten. YES! The Palestinians have been kicked out of their land. YES! Israel is a powerful belligerent force in the region! YES! The USA is the only superpower!


But you know what? Life ain't supposed to be fair! Things just don't work that way, and there simply is nothing we can do about any of these things now. We're just too weak. The Israelis are there... and they're there to stay! So why can't we move on? Why don't we play the game? We're smart people! We can compete! We've been competing as individuals and succeeding in the West (and the entire world) for decades.... So why is it that we can't compete as a country?

I am sick of war. I am sick of destruction. I am sick of militarism. I am sick of empty rhetoric and vindictiveness. Who cares if the Israelis take 10 extra meters of land. In today's world, what is land??? Are we still agriculture-based economies? Land is worthless today. Brains matter. Factories matter. Laboratories matter. Universities matter. Markets matter.

Even most Palestinians are tired and want to move on. Why can't we? Why is it that we are insisting on remaining on the same page; whereas those who suffer the most are in the process of turning the leaf?

Enough of DEATH TO AMERICA! Enough of DEATH period!

I want to live! I want to live with my head held high! I want to elevate my country to a status that it deserves to be in. I deserve it. We all deserve it! We’ve suffered enough!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Great Analysis of Syrian-Lebanese Communique

Please click on to read a great analysis on the Syrian-Lebanese communique that was signed by Presidents Lahoud and Assad last Saturday. The name of the entry is "The Urge to Merge, Syrian-Style."

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Lahoud Isolated, He Better Step Down

I've been thinking all night about this: President Lahoud has basically lost international legitimacy. Who is the European Union meeting in Brussels? Who just met with Germany, France, and is going to meet with Russia? The Lebanese Opposition delegation.

We can see clearly Lahoud's resentment towards the international legitimacy that the Opposition has garnered, when he refused to receive the Opposition's letter that included their requests and snubbed off MP Fares Soueid and MP Ghinwa Jalloul yesterday afternoon. Moreover, we can see clearly that such resentment has led to the blind re-appointment of Karami as a Prime Minister, after hopeful talks that Hoss was the most suitable candidate. (I guess Hoss's stand that UNSCR 1559 cannot be rejected because it's a resolution passed from the highest authority that represents international law and legitimacy, the United Nations, did not sit well with Lahoud.)

Lahoud is truely isolated now, and Lebanon is divided, not only on the domestic level, but more strikingly on the international level. If you recall, Jumblatt was initially going to travel to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Russia...alone. We learn afterwards that Jumblatt has met with Germany's Joschka Fisher and a delegation from the Opposition will be traveling to meet Jumblatt in Brussels for talks with the European Council, represented by Javier Solana. Yesterday we also saw UN envoy to Syria and Lebanon, Terje Roed Larsen, meeting with EU representatives upon his trip back to the region. So perhaps we can see a nod from Kofi Annan that the Opposition is an internationally-recognized Lebanese entity.

Lahoud is better to step down. He should be embarassed that he is unrecognizable to even Arab countries that have always sided with Lebanon. And his latest move to re-appoint Karami as a Prime Minister is a pathetic move only accentuating his paralysis.

Despite all that, I'm still so weary of the next moves: tomorrow a pro-Syrian demonstration in Tripoli, on Sunday a similar demonstration in Nabatieh, and waiting to see what the Opposition's reaction would be towards Karami's call for a national unity government....

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

On the manipulator and the manipulated

To most of us, the pro-Syrian demonstrations that have been taking place in Beirut will seem much less spontaneous and genuine than those lead by the opposition. I have heard from a first-hand source that a Philipino housekeeper was offered 100,000 lebanese pounds to join in the protest. That's not too far-fetched considering the rumours that Syrian workers were brought to Beirut by bus loads.

Some of us watching western television may also have noticed the discrepancies concerning the number of pro-Syrian demontrators. CNN talked about 'tens of thousands', while the French TV5, apparently quoting government figures, reported the number was around 1.5 million.
Well, a friend spent some time going through a little creative exercise to estimate that number.

Based on a satellite image of Riad El Solh Square, and taking into account the two buildings sitting there, the total area came out less then 88,000 m2 (according to Al Nahar the area is 78,000m2). Assuming that there were 4 people per square meter, then the number of protesters could have reached 352,000.On Monday, according to many journalists there were at least 250,000 people in freedom square. Allowing for statistical dicrepancies, this is still a far cry from the 1.5 million figure put forward by government sources.

That is not to say that it was all a stage show. Hizballah certainly had a message to deliver, and many were no doubt there to listen. Who we are -in terms of education, social status, etc.- determines how we think. Had my life been that of a Shia living in the South and having never left Lebanon, who knows what protest I would have chosen to go to? And it's even much more complicated than that. The demonstrations of the past few weeks and days make it seem to the outside world that it's a story of pro-Syrian Lebanese versus anti-Syrian (interference) Lebanese. But we Lebanese know it's much more complicated.

At the moment however, we are forced to voice our opinion in a "you are either with us or against us" way. This is sometimes the way to make a stronger statement. Keep it simple, keep it unified, keep it strong. Of course I am irritated by Bush when he speaks with verve and enthusiasm about "spreading freedom and democracy to the Middle East", as if he could ever want that as much as we do. As if he had suffered what most Lebanese have suffered to want freedom and democracy and prosperity with such sincere longing. Of course I am saddened by the fact that such genuine desires are turned to the advantage of politicians for the sake of their geopolitical strategies. But one must know when to jump on the band wagon. The events of the past three weeks have provided an unmatched opportunity for change, and have released a great deal of energy. Not to seize this opportunity and voice sincere, uncensored demands for a better future would be unthinkable; even if this means risking getting branded as pro-western or anti-arab, or even unpatriotic. We owe it to Hariri, of course; but we also owe it to ourselves.

What I don't like about Hizballah's political stand

The worst thing to hit Lebanon since 1990 was the cropping up of a bunch of thug-politicians who were sponsored by Syrian occupation forces. For me, these individuals, who have no popular mandate whatsoever, are "collaborators" who need to be swept away with the Syrian Army & Mukhabarat. Nasser Qandil and Assem Qanso are, unfortunately, merely the tip of the iceberg.

I fear that Hizballah's call for Syria's "honorable withdrawal" consists of two components. The first is to show Lebanese, Syrians and the world that a significant portion of the population are against Syrian withdrawal. The second, and more dangerous component, is protecting Syrian polical/security/economic individuals and structures that will be left behind after the withdrawal. In short, Hizballah will not permit Syria's allies to meet the fate of Israel's.

You can see the consequences of their decision when brutes attend conferences hosted by Hizballah; or when they give speeches at Hizballah rallies. Basically, the party of God has signalled that it has taken them under its populist umbrella. Whatever their justification, Hizballah must be prepared to accept responsibility for whatever these individuals do in the future. For although they are not members of the party, they owe their necks to it!

Hizballah's neutrality in Lebanese politics has now come to an abrupt end.

Lebanese Cause In A Global Village

The Daily Star wrote: "As to whether the delegation's [the Opposition delegation sent to Europe] initiative could be viewed as a search for foreign backup, [Ghattas] Khoury said: "The world has become a global village and the Lebanese cause has become part of people's discussions around the world."

"Let's remember that the initial decision for Syrian troops to enter Lebanon [in 1976] was international."

"There has always been international agreement about this issue, as well as an Arab and international agreement on the Taif Accord. The allegations about us seeking foreign backup are not linked to our actual goal. Our goal is to inform the world of our will to build a nation."

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

What?! Karami Again?!

I am utterly shocked as I read just now news articles claiming that Karami is tipped to head the upcoming government. Isn't Karami embarassed of himself? Why can't he just stay home? I don't understand where Lahoud is taking Lebanon's fate. Is he watching the news? Is he watching TV?...

Despair is knocking once again on my door....

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Lebanon's Free Will Best Bet for Syria

Lebanon once again is becoming the battleground for others. Again, Lebanon a hostage of events and strategic calculations larger than it, we're caught in between.

Since two years ago, the Bush administration has been after the Syrian government demanding more cooperation on the Iraqi border and hassling them on their military presence in Lebanon. The Syrians of course cooperated on what they're able to concede in terms of information sharing and what not.

I believe that the relative "success" of the Iraqi and Palestinian elections have emboldened the Bush admiminstration to increase the heat on Syria. Add on to it the extension of Lahoud's term and Hariri's assassination.

It seems that the timing is against those who are calling for an end to the Syrian military/intelligence presence in Lebanon, who genuinely are calling for the sovereignty of only the Lebanese over Lebanon. The US has its own aims to fulfill in our region, and if it's democratization, then that is not much of an evil mission; however, most of the Lebanese are calling for something independent of Bush's claims and bully-style schemes. And if Syria is threatened by an evil scheme, then giving us the right to exercise our sovereignty will only benefit it.

Lebanon cannot be crushed because of strategic calculations, because of a US-Syrian/Iranian confrontation; that will backfire on the Syrian regime as it creates more disgruntled Lebanese. A Lebanon that is able to exercise free will is Syria's best bet in confronting any evil scheme, because then our government's claims will not be branded as scripted by Syria or our politicians branded as puppets; in short, we'd be more ligitimate in our eyes and in the eyes of the international community.

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Syrians Bussed To Participate In Protest

It's confirmed (as seen on the Future TV news) that Syrians were brought in buses from Syria to participate in the 1/2 a million loyalist demonstration....

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Paradigms Are Shifting Quickly

If I have to choose, and they're forcing us to choose here, between the Iran-Syria axis and the Saudi Arabia-Egypt-Western axis, then I choose the latter. For God's sake, most Arab countries are with the Syrian forces' withdrawal from Lebanon. Then if we call for such a move as Lebanese, we cannot be branded as not Arabists.

Today, a group of respectable representatives from the Opposition are heading towards Brussels and then Paris to support Jumblatt's stand and to visit Bassil Fleihan as well. Amongst them are Walid Jumblatt, Marwan Hamade, Nassib Lahoud, Ahmad Fatfat, Ghattas Khoury, Mohammad Kabbani, and Mosbah Ahdab.

Can I call this group a bunch of collaborators? Is it wrong to talk to the West? Since when was Lebanon "isolationist"? We are back again to square one with regards to the ever-contentious issue of whether Lebanon has an Arab face or a Western face. This time the Arab face is not the same Arab face; our region has changed. Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the bastions of everything traditional are changing, reconsidering their recalcitrant policies that have created more enemies to their rule than friends. Paradigms are shifting, and they are shifting quickly.

Most importantly, in order for Lebanon to maintain its delicate balance of housing under its roof vigorous, outspoken, and opinionated sects and political groups who are never immune from reaching out to others from all sides of the globe, we should all remember that our call for democracy should always be flanked with protecting the minorities.

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."

Israel is NOT the issue here...

If you look at the positions of the two broad political coalitions in Lebanon, specifically with regards to Israel, you will not find much of a difference. Both parties agree on being the "last country in the Middle East to sign a peace deal with Israel." The opposition is calling for a return to the truce agreement that was signed after the 1948 war; Hizballah insists on not going there, but has participated in a de-facto truce since the Israeli withdrawal (with around 15 infractions - none of which were major incidents).

Hizballah's rhetoric indicates otherwise of course. But speeches to crowds should not be intepreted at face value, especially speeches from Hizballah. Their constituency is the most disadvantaged group in Lebanon. The Shi'as have suffered from poverty, displacement, constant Israeli harassment, and even scorn from fellow Lebanese. Reasons behind these conditions are geographic, historical (going back to the Ottoman Empire and beyond), as well as inherent political flaws that can be attributed to the formation of the Lebanese Republic.

This is not to say that Hizballah doesn't see Israel as its eternal foe. However, limiting our analysis to the "Arab-Israeli" conflict is too superficial. The Party of God would definitely beg to differ, and in doing so, they offer other Lebanese a tremendous favor by effectively channeling Shi'a frustration to an "enemy" that is outside of the country.

Therefore, although the political positions seem to revolve around how to confront Israel, there are other, more local, nuances at stake. The domestic message of the protests are "Hey, look at us: we're here! We count! We're saying that we hate Israel and love Syria; but what we really mean is: don't think you can ride the changing fortunes of regional politics without taking us into consideration - oh and by the way, we pretty much like things the way they were before Syria started packing up. Change (especially if it is tainted by anything from the 'West') is unwelcome."

The international message, on the other hand, is very clear from the rhetoric: "Israel, America, and any other entity that opposes Hizballah, don't think you can get rid of it! It has real popular support, and is a legitimate force in domestic Lebanese affairs. Short of full scale war, it just ain't gonna happen!"

As always, I don't know how things are going to pan out. Lebanon seems to be divided into two camps: the Western and Eastern. Although Hizballah is powerful, its leaders probably don't want to over-play their hand and completely isolate the opposition. They're also aware that a considerable proportion of the Shi'a population doesn't necessarily agree with their vision for Lebanon - hence the wise decision to focus the demonstration on the rejection of 1559 and "Israeli/Western agression," something that all Lebanese are probably united behind.

On the other hand, it has been made obvious that the opposition will need Hizballah on board if they want to go anywhere. Both sides have now flexed their muscles and earned their seats on the table. It's time for them to take a look at what is happening around them, and move forward.

Where Are You Hariri? Why Did You Leave Us Alone?

I'm just amazed at the stark contrast in our country...I'm just amazed.

I'm right now just listening to Sayyid Nasrallah's speech as he talks to the loyalist crowds.

"Beirut: Sharon destroyed it and Assad protected it." That's what he just said. But Assad didn't interfere in Lebanon and sacrificed the lives of its soldiers for the sake of Lebanon and the Lebanese with no price in mind. There was definitely a price and they entered into Lebanon for clear, apparent strategic reasons of course.

I feel that as he talks, Lebanon is truely divided and this pains me much. Hariri's spirit is never to confront the international community, never to disregard a UN resolution. So in my mind, I feel that Hariri's soul would be pained by all of this.

Hizbullah of course is worried for itself, because 1559 targets it directly. You know? Hizbullah is trying to make it that today the people are gathered selflessly for the sake of the resistance. No! I come from the North, and I can say with confidence that Franjieh's Zgharta never got involved in the resistance and couldn't care much, frankly. Most importantly for them are the historical relations the Franjieh's have with Syria. And then the Alawites in Tripoli or Akkar were never involved in the resistance either. They were in fact recently naturalized, as they were Syrian citizens most of whom moved to northern Lebanon during the civil war.

So each group present in Tuesday's demonstration are there to protect their interests, just like they claim that the Opposition are there for the same reasons. No one is better than the other.

I'm dumbfounded because of the stark of Lahoud, the Assads, of Sayyid Nasrallah..."3ashat Souriyya Al-Assad."

So now he's addressing France's President Chirac. He's telling him that if you want to talk majority rules and democracy, then the majority (the crowds) are against 1559, are with Syria and the resistance. And now he's addressing President Bush.

You know? This is it. A demonstration to send messages to the West and Israel that Hizbullah is there and is capable of garnering the majority backing. An intimidating speech...

Arent's we sick of this talk. Why can't they just talk about us, the Lebanese, our plight, our situation, our sovereignty, hope, the future...why intimidation? why threats? why speeches to the US, France, or Israel?

I'm growing skeptical of all this...Where are you Hariri? Why did you leave us alone?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Forcing Tuesday

This might be too late of a news for those who live in Lebanon; but I just heard on the Future TV news that some informers from the Beka'a and the southern suburbs of Beirut let the TV news crew that many are being "pushed" to attend tomorrow's demonstration and close their shops between 3:00 to 5:00.

Another great read!

Okay guys, this comes to you curtesy of Mathew:

Title of post: A whole new perspective

note: the jewel on the crown is the third paragraph... Enjoy!

Hizballah must change its raison d'etre!

Of all the parties that challenged the Lebanese Opposition, Hizballah is the one that I respect the most. It is, ironically, one of the most 'modern' parties in the country. It is organized, led by competent leaders, relatively free of corruption, not based on tribal or familial lines, and for obvious reasons, motivated.

Of course, the negative aspect of the party is that it is an inherently religious party, with no clear platform outside of its religious or military roles. This reality must change. For Hizballah to survive in a new era, the institution must adapt to today's and tomorrow's circumstances, and gradually shed its military (and even more gradually) religious attire.

Such changes, of course, don't happen over night. Reforming any organization or institution is more like maneuvering a container ship, than a car, or even a large truck. I believe that Hassan Nasrallah, and the party leadership, know what needs to be done, but they are buying time. The opposition are, most likely, aware of that; however, they will need to play a delicate balancing act of pressuring Hizballah to change, while at the same time accomodating to the party's needs. I believe that this is the most challenging political feat that Lebanon's political leadership faces today, in light of current developments.

I definitely don't want Hizballah to disolve and dissipate - in many fields, it serves as a rolemodel for other Lebanese "political parties", and is valuable in that sense. Let us not also forget that it does legitimately represent the majority of the Shi'a population in the country. However, Hizballah does need to change!

I forsee two alternatives, if things don't happen; both of which will cost Lebanon dearly:

1. Hizballah will loose and collapse (the less likely outcome)

2. Tensions in Lebanon will increase, and probably lead to confontration.

The ball is in Hizballah's court.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Recomended reading!

Read a great synopsis of Assad's speach by Mustapha from Beirut Spring! In fact, the best one I've read so far. Enjoy:

cick here:

Title: Dear Chearleaders

Do Not Rob Us of Hope

Depression is creeping in....

Why are we always doomed, doomed to never have a true encounter with sovereignty? Why does someone like President Assad needs to define what sovereignty means to us? Why are we doomed to be stuck forever in the Arab-Israeli vicious cycle? Why are we doomed that whenever we call for genuine self-determination we are branded as traitors, as collaborators with the West?

Lebanon has always been a hostage to regional and international strategic calculations. What has changed? So why is the talk now of branding the Opposition (with all its diverse political and sectarian groups) as the party that's calling in for "foreign" intervention?

I have one question to ask, on my mind: Sayyid Nasrallah agreed with President Assad on dividing the Lebanese people between "patriots" and "those who collaborate with foreign parties." Why? Europe and the U.S. are foreign parties...but Iran is not?

Oh, I can't believe I'm asking this question....Yes, I've been pushed to question every given premise, just as they are questioning motives....

Of course depression will start creeping back into my heart...

I am speechless; my heart is in pain...full of weariness.

I'm almost on the verge of believing that it's all coming to an end...all this euphoria. As a "wataniyye" I am supposed to cave in; that's what is being called for now. I'm supposed to take the higher moral ground and give in for the sake of Lebanon, for the sake of not losing beloved Lebanon to the Israeli plot.

I never called for U.S. intervention, I never called for signing a peace treaty with our enemy Israel, I never called for animosity with our special neighbor Syria...yet I'm branded now as not a "wataniyye". I'm pained.

Just when there was it's dissipating before us. Are we doomed to live our parents' life forever in the "ghirbe"? Please, please give us a chance to return. Do not rob us of peace. Please do not incite civil strife. Do not rob us of HOPE.

Nasrallah's press conference

Nasrallah's press conference was exactly what I predicted it would be. He basically stated his own position: Lebanon will remain on a state of beligerancy with Israel - and Hizballah will remain at the forefront of this conflict. Hizballah will not disarm.

He acknowledged the opposition as a significant political force in the country. He acknowledged that the state was the priority, and that it would be the means through which Lebanese would solve their problems.

Nasrallah indirectly lambasted the pro-Syrian "protests" that took place yesterday. But he called for a protest on Tuesday. Flexing his muscles, I guess.

That is also expected. Now that the Syrians are withdrawing, the political forces in Lebanon are beginning to stake their claims, and rally behind agendas and banners.

Two things worry me. 1 - why the hell can't political discourse of Lebanon revolve around debate concerning a better future? Hizballah has just asserted that the discourse (or atleast a considerable portion of it) will remain the "Arab-Israeli conflict". 2 - Syria's puppets are going to crawl under the umbrella of Hizballah to claim some kind of popular backing.

Lets see how things fall through.

pro-Syrian protests in Beirut, Tripoli, etc, etc...

They were carrying posters of Bashar el Assad and Syrian flags... they were shooting in the air... they went to Achrafieh and shot at some store fronts and cars... they simply terrorized the population.

I need not say more about these "supporters"... they showed who they really were yesterday. I am glad they did that.... I am glad Lebanese saw for themselves.

Qanso - Qandil : go to Syria!!! get out!!!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

on the issue of Lebanese identity

The Syrians and "loyalists" like to state that there are two camps in Lebanon: the Lebanese and the traitors - (i.e. the Israeli collaborators). It seems to me that the camp that waits for the Syrian president to give a speech before taking a position has highly questionable national credentials.

There really are two camps in Lebanon; these camps are the Lebanese and the Syrians. The opposition has not capitalized on this labeling enough - they have not stated it as clearly and repeatedly as they should.

Hizballah, and maybe Amal, seem to be the only reasons the opposition didn't go that far.

Bashar's Speech

Some points I noticed:

1. He left the Lebanon issue to the end of his speech.

2. "If they want me to leave Lebanon, I'll leave it - but I'll destroy it first!" - that was written all over his face!! DIVIDE LEBANESE was the main (if not the exclusive) theme of his speech...

3. His target audience was obviously the Muslim population in Lebanon. I hope that Muslim patriots don't fall for that crap.

4. He claimed that Syria was already withdrawing beginning in 2000, so international pressure did not play a role in his decision to withdraw. To that ridiculous claim, I say this: Why stage 40,000 troops in Lebanon, if you only need a couple thousand mukhabaratis and a few more Lebanese collaborators?

5. His "speech" was more of a press conference than a formal "presidential speech to the nation"....

6. His laughs were rediculous...

7. and his jokes were so Homsi!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Concerning theories that claim Israel killed Hariri to destroy Syria and assert its hegemony on the region

These grand conspiracy theories sound great on paper. But then, when I look at what happened on the ground, I get a reality-check. How the hell are Mossad agents supposed to kill Hariri in the middle of $^#^&$ downtown Beirut without anyone knowing??? Taking into consideration the size and complexity of the operation - for God's sake it wasn't a sniper shooting - the likelihood that someone carried it out without getting the attention of the security services is virtually null.

Seriously, how the hell are you supposed to get 500-1000 kgs of TNT without anyone knowing? Did Israeli commandos bring it with them by boat? If so, then how big would the boat have been? Assuming they somewhow managed to do so, then how could they plant it underground without anyone noticing?

As for this whole hegemony thing... it is also kind of a shaky argument. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are definitely not militarily up to par with Israel, but they do have their weight, and can influence events in the region. Even Jordan was able to get weapons from the United States that Israel thought were too threatening, and tried really hard to prevent from happening. So these theorists do two things: they play on an inert fear of Israel, and completely ignore facts on the ground to make what would seem to be sound arguments.

In conclusion, I'll say the following:

1. The Syrians have no problem killing Lebanese (or anybody) who they perceive as a threat to their grip on power.

2. There is a huge difference between American hegemony (a reality that we are dealing with today) and Israeli hegemony (nonsense, considering Egypt, Saudi Arabia and even Turkey - all of which are allies of the USA).

3. Read the following article from Dier Speigel:,1518,343242,00.html