Monday, February 28, 2005

The Challenge Lies Ahead of Us Now

I still feel that I cannot completely celebrate any "victory." We are but at the low end of a steep hill that lies ahead of us. Now that Karami's government has resigned, Lebanon will be facing the real test. Here are several questions and thoughts on my mind at the moment:

How will the neutral government that everyone is asking for look like? Some have nominated Hoss to take on the lead due to his neutrality, but would he agree to lead this government? He already stated that he does not look forward to heading any government in the future; he made that decision in 2000. Who will be the Ministers who would agree to get on board?

That neutral government, I believe, would have the most challenging and trying tasks to see through: drafting and passing the electoral law, holding and overseeing fair parliamentary elections, pushing through the late premier Hariri's assassination investigation, negotiating on a national/international levels the Syrian withdrawal, and overseeing the Syrian withdrawal/redeployment (to say the least for now).

In my own view: Lahoud should bid us farewell and I find Mikhael Daher as an "acceptable" nominee. He is moderate in his relations with Syria; he joined the Opposition Front as of last week and his speech today before the Parliament has proved his strong nationalist stand.

Let us pray all goes well.

Now that Karame is gone

Some questions that are on my mind:

1. Will this new optimism and patriotism continue... or will the opposition quench it now that there is no more use for it?

2. I wonder whether this is really a change in the Lebanese mentality and political chessboard. The politicians say that they want Taef to be implimented to the fullest. Will it be so?

3. I am specifically interested in the creation of "Senate" or Majles al Shuyukh. If it is created, then the sectarian distribution of the parliamentary/"House" seats will no longer apply. I can run as a Lebanese if I wanted to. Ibelieve that other positive consequences will also come about.

4. How many Syrian politicians will be thrown out of parliament once real elections take place? I really hope Qandil gets the boot. Ialso hope Qanso gets arrested. But, I am afraid that these two have real constituencies.

5. How long will Lahoud last?

6. Will the investigations continue? Will there be justice?

7. Once the political system is purged (if it is purged), will the remaining leaders be able to play the game of politics without Syrian tutelage? It has been going on for so long, and as far as I know, habits do tend to die hard.

These are all questions that put some weight on my heart. From my vantage point, I can only pray that our leaders play their roles with the benefit of Lebanon in mind. I was born in 1980, two years before Beirut was invaded by the Israeli Army. I became aware of my Lebanon as a country that was occupied by Syria and depressed in all meanings of the word. I heard about a golden era of freedom from the previous generation. But all I could do was dream about it.

Are we on the threshold of a new era of Lebanese vibrancy? Are we on the threshold of regaining our Leadership in the Arab world? I've noticed that we always lead.... We led in economic growth and development prior to 1975. We led in sacrifices for the Palestinian cause after 1975. Now, I hope we continue that habit and lead again. Lead the Arab world into the 21st century. Lead the world as an example of Muslim-Christian fellowship. I hope that our leaders understand the weight of their responsibility and take the steps that we expect them to take.

We are a great people. We deserve a great leadership!!!

Congratulations everybody.
Congratulations for the fall of the puppet government
Congratulations for the victory of the Opposition
Congratulations for the rise of Lebanon's people power
Let us all pray that things don't just stop here.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Some words concerning US policies towards the Middle East

US policies toward the Middle East leave a lot to be desired. However, I prefer a policy that promotes change in our country and our region, rather than a policy that supports dictators and totalitarian regimes. I am not going to be angry that the US props up democracies only when doing so is in its interests... I am going to thank God that I am alive in the era that my interest and the interest of the US at least partially coincide!

With regards to Iraq, I think that it was, and is still a debacle. It is more than obvious that the US wants a presence in that country, and is offering "democracy" as a carrot to win over the population. Nuclear weapons, al Qaeda, bla bla bla... that was all nonsense, the US wants to be there! Why? Oil!!!

But so what?

Will they give Iraqis democracy? Will they turn Iraq into a kind of Germany? That's what they're saying they'll do. That is what I hope they'll do. Am I doubtful? Hell ya! But, hey, I don't give a shit about the oil... let them keep it. Was the population benefiting from it before the Americans came in? Barely! In fact, oil was actually harmful. It gave the dictators enough money to buy their seats of power rather than at least attempt to seek popular approval.

I am not going to judge the US now.... I am going to wait and see how they deliver on their promises to the Iraqis. At the moment, I am more infuriated at Zarqawi, and the other "Arabists," "nationalists" and "Islamists" that kill fellow Iraqis like they're swatting flies. These very people that the entire Arab world is supporting don't know how to do anything except by brute force. What will happen to the Iraqi people if they do win, and get to power? Will it be another 40 years of violent dictatorship? Yes! Is that what we (as fellow Arabs) want for our Iraqi "brethren"? Well, apparently, Yes again! Oh how we care for the Iraqis....

A friend of mine told me that he's always the very first person to defend Arabs when Americans say that we have an "irrational hate" of everything American... but considering the Arab reaction to Lebanese demonstrations against Syria, he is really starting to reconsider! It is natural for human beings to gather together and oppose the most powerful among us. But maybe we should look beyond this and ask ourselves whether our interests (as secular, modern, and somewhat liberal Arabs) are being advanced by everything that is happening on the ground today (moral values aside)?
We really need to reconsider our position towards the US. Let us not be apologists, but at the same time, let us not simply say what Arab dictators want us to say...

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The fall of the USSR finally hits Syria

The revolution that is taking place today is not only against the Syrian-Lebanese political-security apparatus. It is a revolution against the way things are done in the Middle East. For almost 60 years the Syrians have been at war with the Israelis (whether or not they were actually fighting). Today, that reality is changing.... Arabs cannot even pretend to fight. We're too week! Syria has turned to Iran. But Iran is not the USSR. Russia plus Iran don't even come close!

We must move on. The end of the cold war has finaly hit Syria and Lebanon.... Jumblatt anounced it. Jumblatt jumped on the bandwagon right on time. Lets hope that the West wins. Lets hope that the forces of liberalism, of democracy, and of modernism prevail. Once that happens we can go on to fight other battles. But first, I need the opposition to win this one!

Jumblatt: "In the seventies, I used to dream that in my past life I was a soldier in the great armies of the USSR fighting in Stalingrad against the Nazis. Today, I dream of being a garbage man in New York."

Monday, February 21, 2005

My Thoughts....

I just finished watching Marcel Ghanem’s talk show, Kalam Innass. Marcel during the show was trying in his own way to “mend fences” between the Opposition and the current government, represented by MP Samir Franjieh and Minister Elie Ferzli, respectively. He tried, but he failed. He ended his show somberly by claiming that he tried to build a bridge; he hoped that attempts at doing so would soon succeed. Clearly, the Opposition has refused completely any attempt at dialogue with the current government; they have chosen the Parliament as the only forum to rally for their demands.

As usual, Ferzli rambled on with his talk about the geostrategic threats, but what truly moved me was when he exposed his true self to us all on TV. He shared with Marcel, Franjieh and all of us his fears of a Shiite-Sunni armed conflict in our country. He said, “If the Sunnis and Shiites start to fight, where would I go, as a Christian?”

Despite Franjieh’s response claiming that such worries are unfounded and that the Lebanese are above and beyond armed conflicts amongst themselves and despite my personal belief in Frajieh’s claims, I frankly got worried for the first time. Is there any truth to Ferzli’s words? Or are his claims just another red flag that the Syrian-backed government waves in our face whenever there is a call for a Syrian withdrawal?

If I want to construct the scenario that Ferzli discussed during the show, it would then be easy to see how for instance Hizbullah might be a threat because it is armed. But can someone tell me how the Sunnis can be a threat in a Shiite-Sunni armed conflict? What Sunni party is armed?

I am simply not able to see what Ferzli is foreseeing. Is this just a cheap tactic? But I could swear that he was so real, filled with so much emotion when he was expressing his fears that Lebanon might see another encounter with blood and terror.

Where is our beloved Lebanon heading? I am personally filled with hope. But today as my companion, Raja, and I watched on TV the mass rally for Indpendence in Martyr's Square, a streak of fear filled my heart for a moment; I asked Raja: Where is the Opposition taking us and all those who are out on the streets? What next? Because I believe that right now there is no turning back…

I would like to see in the very near future a document drafted by the Opposition that will answer the many lingering questions: How are we going to resolve the question of the Sheba’a Farms? How will Hizbullah be disarmed and who will do so? What about the Palestinian refugee question?....Big, divisive issues indeed to which we must find honest and real answers. I believe the true challenge is not Syria’s withdrawal, but what will ensue after their withdrawal when we have to all sit together on one table to resolve those major, contentious issues on our own.

God Bless our beloved, sacred country Loubnan. May our happiness and high hopes today be vindicated. Ameen!

WE are leaders of the Arab world

WE, Lebanese, the only population in the entire Arab world that goes out to protest for Independence and Democracy. WE are the Leaders of the Arab world. WE put all other Arab populations to shame. WE, a population that is divided into different religious communities, have come together and done what other more homogenous populations could not do! Mulsims and Christians... United under the banner of LEBANON

God Bless Lebanon. God Bless the Lebanese. We have shown the entire world that we are worth much more than our weight in Gold or Oil!

Arab Nationalism...Samir Kasir in Friday's Nahar:

"Throughout history, Beirut's streets have been reserved for the "defense of pan-Arab causes," wrote Kassir. But with the funeral for Rafik Hariri, Arab nationalism has taken on a new aim, he declared: "Today, the nationalist cause has shrunk into the single aim of getting rid of the regimes of terrorism and coups, and regaining the people's freedom as a prelude to a new Arab renaissance. Thus hundreds of thousands of free citizens walked in Rafik Hariri's funeral - while only a paltry cortege mobilized by the single party and its intelligence apparatuses walked in (former Syrian President) Hafez al-Assad's funeral a few years ago. (With the Hariri funeral) Beirut was the beating heart of a new Arab nationalism. This nationalism is based on the free will of citizens, male and female. And this is what the tyrannical (Syrian) regime should fear more than anything else if it tarries about ending its hegemony over Beirut and Lebanon."

Sunday, February 20, 2005

damn al Jazeera

al Jazeera has the agenda of removing all blame of Harriri's slaying from Syria! Those dogs! They actively participate in proping up dictators! Arabs are even worse! They just sit in their countries and come up with stupendous theories that claim that Jumblatt killed Harriri... or even better, the Israelis, the Zionists, the Imperialists, the Americans, bla bla bla....Lebanon.... I wish we can just unite to purge Lebanon of the elements that murdered Rafik el Harriri. I wish we don't allow those (especially other Arab countries) who think of us as sects instead of as Lebanese to divide us. I hope and pray that the Sunni street in Beirut go hand in hand with their brothers from the Mountains to protest the status quo. Harriri's death cannot go unpunnished. Heads must role!

May Harriri Rest in Peace

May the soul of one of the greatest leaders of Lebanon rest in peace! I also pray that God show mercy to Bassil Fleihan....

Heads must role! Syrian-Lebanese security apparatus must be purged! Independence & Democracy Now!