Sunday, August 27, 2006

EIU: Lebanon GDP to fall by 10% in 2006

The Daily Star reports,
A London-based research center said Lebanon's Gross Domestic Product will fall by 10 percent in 2006 and expects a reduced current account deficit of $4.8 billion this year... .

Although the Economist Intelligence Unit expects a settlement to be reached, the country's prospects are even more uncertain than previously. The obstacles preventing the current government from engaging in effective policymaking will grow, and its stability could yet be endangered by the downside risks associated with the conflict... .
Prior to this fiasco, some Lebanese political parties waged a relentless (and justifiable) political campaign against the Future Movement for accumulating $35 billion worth of debt during the fifteen years of post-war reconstruction. Today, in a matter of one month, as a result of the irresponsible actions of one party, Lebanon's GDP has shrunk by 10%. Akh! Aaaaaaaaaaakh!

Need I say more? Is this where we all want our country to be?

Update - Hizballah Reconstruction Efforts:

The Financial Times, AP and other news services published articles concerning Hizballah's reconstruction efforts in Harek Hreik (the area of Beirut that was hit hardest by the Israeli Air Force).

Apparently, 1,000 volunteer engineers an architects are taking part in this rather impressive effort under the umbrella of an organization called Jihad el a3mar (literally, The Construction Jihad), which was originally launched following Israel's futile 1996 military adventure, "Grapes of Wrath," which led to the downfall of then Israeli PM Shimon Perez.

Funding, according to a representative of that organization, comes from private donations, as opposed to Iran. Kassem Allaik, head of Jihad el a3mar told the Financial Times that "each Hizballah association is self-financed and relies on individual donations from sympathisers."

Mr. Allaik went on to say that "We help build a society of resistance... . Our aim is to create conditions so people can stay on their land to confront the enemy."


Several comments concerning these efforts. The first concerns credibility. Mr. Allaik tells us that his organization does not get funding from Iran. I find that assertion hard to believe because Hizballah's credibility suffered tremendously as a result of its lies concerning the source of its weaponry.

Prior to the war, Nasrallah and most of Hizballah's top brass insisted repeatedly to the Lebanese public that they did not receive military material from Iran, or any other form of military support, for that matter. I remember watching a Kalam el Nass show, where one of Hizballah's MPs used the Maronites' relationship with the Vatican to describe Hizbalah's relationship with Tehran - I believe it was MP Ali Amar. Now if those public assertions did not turn out to be blatant lies, I simply do not know what is a lie anymore.

During the month-long war, Turkish authorities refused to allow an Iranian aircraft to fly into its airspace because the pilot would not land his aircraft in Turkey to be searched (it is important to note here that subsequent aircraft flying from Tehran to Damascus did land in Turkey, and after being searched were found to be carrying humanitarian aid). According to press reports, that particular plane was filled with silk-worm surface-to-ship missiles of the kind used to damage an Israeli ship off Lebanese shores. Moreover, numerous Hizballah fighters interviewed by Western journalists have claimed to have received training from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard during "business" trips to Iran.

Therefore, thanks to these blatant lies emanating from the Hizballah leadership, I find that I cannot take Mr. Allaik for his word. How naive of me to think, at one point in time, that I should believe these men because they were "men of the cloth."

The second point I would like to make concerning Kassem Allaik, is that irrespective of his source of funding and his motivation (which I will get back to in a minute) the work that he and his men are doing is impressive, noble, and, no doubt, much appreciated by the Shi'ite population. However, these men should not forget that once people have roofs over their heads, the inhabitants will need to sustain themselves and their families economically. That means that they will need well-paying jobs that only a vibrant economy can afford them.

I very much doubt Hizballah's ability to create such a reality. Rather, if anything, Hizballah's mere existence in Lebanon has ensured that the country's economic performance has failed to achieve anything near its potential over the past 15 years.

As for the motivation of these men's work. In Allaik's own words, "
Our aim is to create conditions so people can stay on their land to confront the enemy... ." One can decipher from this statement that the sole purpose Hizballah has in mind for its people is to stay on their land merely to "confront the enemy." In other words, staying on their land is simply not sufficient in and of itself.

Well, if that is the case, then I advise the guys working for Jihad el a3mar to build straw buildings for their people because it looks like we're going to be experiencing a lot more these wars in the near future.

Straw houses are easy to destroy, but they're also easily and cheaply rebuilt.


Hani G. said...

Raja of ofcourse this is all justifiable by the concept of "Sira3 Al Mukaddass" (holy struggle). No expense should be spared for this great dignity!! To fight the holy war!

As you say, the irony of all this, is that the same bunch typically accuse the government and their supporters of not only the problematic external debt, but of apparent economic "strangulations" in the country.

Lirun said...

all the more reason to continue our efforts to communicate and dig our tunnels of contact..

once our myths crumble and peace emerges the GDP fall will be just an annoying memory..

forever optimistic


GD said...

What about the Patriotic struggle – of all the so-called patriotic groups – to free Lebanese land ? Over and above were is the Lebanese government effort in the reconstruction effort (which by the way in the case of Jihad al A'amar is not restricted to Shiia as your article implies – "no doubt, much appreciated by the Shi'ite population") ? As before as always – from the so-called Lebanese elites – long live the shopping centre... and Paris. Hear no evil, see no evil !

As far as credibility goes this piece does not help either "According to press reports, the plane was filled with silk-worm surface-to-ship missiles of the kind used to damage an Israeli ship off Lebanese shores." Press reports indeed the same that reported about Iraq's WMD.

A footnote. The existence of Hibz Allah derive from the historic abandonment by the central government of the South and the inherent and pervasive "class" racism that prevails vis-a-vis the downrotten southerner, and this span far more than the past 15 years. In other words the Hizb Allah is "your" baby.

Raja said...

g damiani,

to say that jihad al a'amar is working for all of Lebanon is similar in tone to the ridiculous claim by Hizballah that Lebanese from all faiths are welcome to join it and fight the Israelis. I'll stop there.

As for your "credibility" issue, please... why didn't the iranian plane land despite the fact that subsequent planes had no problems doing so. You see, the entire world came out against the American government when it trumped up the WMD case, however Turkey was involved in this case. Another thing: Hizballah officials, during the war, came out and said it straight out: "We get armed by the Iranians just like how the Israelis get armed by the americans." Ooops! Talk about a major U Turn... except the officials, as always, used "Israel" to justify their lie, and hence got away with it.

And finally, please spare me the "down-trodden" bull-crap. Some of the most powerfull elements of Lebanon's commercial class today are Shi'a. Have you been to Lebanon lately? Verdun 730, Verdun 732, Concorde, half the appartments in Ramlet el Bayda, Sa2eyt el Janzeer, and more. C'mon man! Are you blind???

GD said...

Allow me a quick answer, though I understand this is not a forum

1. Well Lebanese of all faiths are part of the struggle at all level as well documented – though not enough – even of foreign medias.

2. It is down-rotten and the south has always been historically abandoned by the central government. That some (even a lot of) Shi'ias are rich does not change this basic fact. Indeed I don't recall a lot of Lebanese strolling in Portemilio, Rimal or doing some happening-gathering in the city centre last year having joined in the 18 years struggle to free the south – part and parcel of the Sovereign state called – Lebanon !

Doha said...

I believe that the Lebanese state since before the civil war failed at extending its reach to the peripheries of the country, and that includes the bekaa, north and south.

Just lately we learned that many Lebanese in Akkar on the border with Syria were worried that they're main source of living will be cut due to the Lebanese Army's deployment on the borders. Those Lebanese not only smuggle goods for a living but also get their health care and their drinking water from Syria.

The difference though between Akkar and the south is that the main employer in Akkar is the Lebanese Army, while in the South it's a different story. For so long the state was not allowed to operate there. I mean I recall going to the southern borders for the first time after Israel's withdrawal in 2000 and was surprised to see that there was not a single Lebanese flag fluttering anywhere, just Hizbullah's.

So, yes the state has failed in its outreach, but let's remember that the state, including its army, was restricted in how they can take part in reaching out to the populations in the south.

Lirun said...

one thing is abundantly obvious.. both sides need to make peace with themselves as well as with their neighbours..

we have some social versions of the afrosyrian divide on our side of the border as well..

funny thing is - in some ways i believe it will be easier for us to make international peace than it will to appease our various respective factions..

wishing us all peace at all levels


The Middle East News Addict said...

To g. Damiani

What is patriotic about this struggle? The Lebanese army is toothless and Sheikh Nasrallah admitted in an interview that what fell on Israel in this conflict is HALF of what they have. This means that a second conflict could not be bigger than this and would of course end HA. and the Result? let's see: Lebanon's GDP gonna fall by 10% this year and Israel's GDP gonna grow by 4.8% this year according to MOrgan Stanley... what can I say, the sweet taste of victory. Israel did not even break their budget. You want to fight Israel? Not at Lebanon's expense. There is no patriotism in running to your doom.

shittyzionz said...

People in the south love HA more than our politics, did you ask yourself why? the government never bulid schools, hospitals...ect in the south & when they do,they dont make it as good as the ones in the north..again, why? the fact is the lebanese government dont give a damn about the southerns,they didnt take responsibilty of doing so, HA on the other hand did, they built hospitals, schools and all the important facilities. Sayed Nassrallah sid yesterday ( if the government had bulit schools & hospitals here,we wouldnt have built them,andif they want tocome here & build them,I assure you, we are gonna to close ours!otherwise everything will remain the same as it always has been, we dont want tolive, sick, ignorant & poor people) and then again, wheres our most respected government part in the reconstruction? where are all these millions that came from the gulf & EU countries? its been like more than 10 days since the Israelis terror aggression has ended! Show us the money & start reconstructing!! how do you expect people tolove you when you dont help them in these hard days? how do you expect them to love you when only certain parts of the country are taken care of while the others are not?
Though, if we havent had some corrupts in the government itd have been different!

Viva Lebanon & its Resistance!


Doha said...


Believe me the schools in the north are no better than the schools on the peripheries of Beirut and Mount Lebanon. The Lebanese state since its inception has not changed its policy of development; pour most resources to Beirut and Jabal Libnan.

However, you shouldn't forget that Berri headed the reconstruction fund for the south which is supposed to be an arm of the state, yet we all know that this money was spent in a corrupt way and there is no accountability as to where the money was spent and how.

lebclaro said...

A couple, two friends of mine, who are coming from the south and the north respectively.
She said to me, I always thought that we are (from the south) underdeveloped,
but since I have seen the north I cannot claim this any more.

Long time, I thought that the central government is on charge for the underdevelopment,
but I learned that the regional politicians are not doing their jobs well. They are
sitting in the parlament, they do have ministerial portofolios but they do not
help their people. That is the reason that HB have so many supporters.
I hope that the new political class will understand this and will act in order to develop the regions.

shittyzionz said...

I quite agree with everything that you said!
Although I don’t live in Lebanon ATM, but I'm originally from alashrafyah Beirut! I must say that it's a fancy area compared to the south!! But to get back to our point, in the north, they got their schools and everything built by the government while southerns get them built via HA! Why should HA build schools & hospitals? Why on earth our government are so pathetically disabled of building such important & vital facilities? How can you expect people to be loyal to the government when they are not helping them? How do you expect people to turn against HA while they are the only ones that care about them & their needs? HA IMHO are a special kind of people, in wars, they are lions, in peace, they are teachers, engineers, architects, doctors..ect I must say that I'm so impressed by them, before this war, they were just another Lebanese politicians, but during & after this war, I saw stuff I couldn’t see in the past I just admire them so much for all what they are doing!! In Israel, the reconstruction campaign is so slow, while in America ( New Orleans to be specific) and according to the Washington post, people of New Orleans are still suffering & still haven’t their houses built, the author sarcastically said they should ask HA to help them reconstructing lol.


Sherri said...


Concerning Allaik's staements that their aims in reconstruction were to create conditions so that people can stay on their land to confront the enemy, I do not read this the way you did. You stated the comment implied the sole purpose for the reconstruction was to allow the people to return to the south to confront their enemy, Israel, there again.

What I get out of the comment is the overriding need for the people to not be beaten, to not be forced out of their homes forever, and for them to return to their homes in the south and rebuild. They have survived and should not allow Israel to beat them down and force them out.

I have heard that the 2 Shiite neighborhoods in south Beirut suburbs were essentially carpet bombed (about an area equal to one square mile), as were villages in south Lebanon. The damage was and is devastating, to the neighborhoods and villages the Shiites lived within. People literally have nothing but the clothes on their back, and many lost relatives and friends too. Why does it matter who provides funds to help them rebuild their homes and lives? They need help badly, and I just say God bless all who aid them. If noone was helping them, that is what I would really have a problem with. Because that would mean there was no humanity left. As long as we can feel empathy for others and reach out to help each other, there is hope for the future and for peace among all.

I'm sure Iran is providing assistance in the reconstruction efforts of Hezbullah, but I suspect many others are contributing, as well. Just remember all of the support Hezbullah has had in the Arab world, recently, during this month long conflict. I imagine they are presently receiving substantial contributions from sources other than Iran. This is an interesting issue, because it brings to bear the historical animosity between Persian Iran and the Arab countries. If other countries or groups are making meaningful contributions to Hezbullah, will they attempt to influence Hezbullah in ways inconsistent with Iran?

Lirun said...

sherri sherri sherri

as soon as i see a long comment - i know its you ;)

god bless ya