Wednesday, September 06, 2006

And the money pours in...

It all began with a competition over who would offer more mulla to the thousands of Lebanese whose homes were destroyed during the one-month-long Israeli offensive. Hizballah offered $12,000, the international community responded by pooling their resources together and offering $40,000.

Then, Lebanon's billionaire politicians started to compete over who would re-build the destroyed bridges that the Israelis so generously targeted "to prevent Hizballah from re-arming itself." They publicly selected their favorite bridges and promised to fork over the funds necessary to rebuild them - on condition that the bridges be named after them, once constructed.

Then, a new competition emerged: which country in the region would rebuild entire villages. Qatar, I think, started it. Several days ago, it declared its intention to rebuild Bint-Jbeil. Next came our wonderful neighbor to our east and north, which declared that it would rebuild three or four other villages... .

And now, this: The Saudis have offered to pay the dues and fees of all Lebanese students attending public schools "at all levels."

This is all very generous, and I am sure the recipients are more than greatful for it. However, please excuse me for being a bit cynical!

So now that the Saudis have offered to pay for public schooling, what's next? Cell phone bills? Will the Iranians offer to pay all the cell phone bills that Lebanese accumulated over the month-long offensive?

Lebanon continues to be an open field where regional and global powers play their soccer matches. When they throw cash at us, its all nice and dandy, however, we are the last ones they consult when they decide to convert those dollar bills into katyusha rockets and cluster bombs.


Lirun said...

lebanon - to my mind - should accept but realise that it does not need these countries in the long run.. once it is on its feet it should sprint alone and establish relations based on its general national interests..

i must say that the flow of money is surprising.. what about the iraqis.. dont they deserve schooling and towns and villages?

wishing peace for all


Sherri said...


The security is so bad in Iraq right now, that money is not being put into rebuilding. If a new school was built, there is noone to protect it from being blown up the very next day. I have heard it is unsafe to make a trip to the grocery store. Residents have to weigh hunger and life. Day to day is a struggle to just survive.

But I guess I am supposed to be happy that the Iraqis are free now, free of a brutal dictator. My country, the US, freed them. But what are they free to do? They are free to die. I can't think of much else.

Sherri said...


Maybe the moral of the US invasion of Iraq, as applied to Lebanon, is make friends with the US, accept their aid and direction and dictates, or the US will make them like Iraq. It's a choice, you are with us or against us. And Iraq is the result if you choose the latter choice.

Jordan said...

I am a little suspicious of Saudi Arabia's decision to focus on education.

I have read their translated textbooks online... I am suprised they are not sued by Hitler's estate for copyright infridement.

I am glad Lebanon is receiving so much support, but I hope Lebanon will reject any educational material that preaches hate... should any be found.

dany said...

Of course, it sounds much more impressive to say "we will pay for the tuition of ALL students in ALL public schools !" than to say "we will donate 20 million USD !" knowing that this represents the bank interest of about 3 minutes of the extra money that was made because of the increase of oil price during the war on Lebanon !
Anyway thanks !
However, it is not really, really useful to receive a container load of mineral water from Jordan and another from...Kuwait who probably needs drinking water much more than we do at this point.
It is not really useful to get thousands of tons of Saudi-made detergent when our local detergent factories desperatley need to regain a market. Same goes for shipments of Halawa from Syria etc...
Why not cover the expense of social security and taxes on employees that companies must pay ? That would help in avoiding many job losses in the industrial and commercial sector.
Or why not cover the taxes of companies in the tourism sector, who have had a lot of losses.
There is so much help needed, that it is not truly difficult to be creative beyond water and halawa.

Fearless said...

Big money for the corrupt and greedy:
Donor pledges for Lebanon near $1 billion
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- An international donors' conference for Lebanon Thursday raised almost $1 billion in new money, according to Swedish Foreign Minister Jan Eliasson.

Pledges far exceeded the target of $500 million set by the organizers of the Stockholm conference. Together with early pledges, the total amount of money raised for the reconstruction of Lebanon now stands at $1.2 billion.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told delegates his country had sustained billions of dollars of damage during the 34-day conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

Lebanon's recovery from its fifteen-year civil war had been "wiped out in days," he said.

Funds for reconstruction still fall well short of Lebanese damage estimates, previously put by the government at $3.6 billion.

It says 15,000 homes were damaged by the Israeli offensive and has appealed for $75 million for temporary housing and $30 million for the repair of infrastructure such as major roads and bridges.

The conference was attended by ministers from 60 countries along with officials from the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Red Cross.

Delegates issued a statement urging Israel to end its air and sea blockade of Lebanon, described as "a major impediment to the early recovery process."

Israel imposed the blockade to prevent arms entering Lebanon after it launched an offensive against Hizbollah on July 12. The move followed a cross-border raid by Hizbollah militants during which two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped and three killed.

But despite an earlier call by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to end the blockade, Israel says it is not yet prepared to do so. The foreign ministry said the blockade would remain until the multinational force and arms embargo called for by Resolution 1701 were in place, to prevent Syria transferring weapons to Hezbollah.

FGA said...

Raja, it

FGA said...

Raja, it is so disappointing to hear you say that. This is a classic case of seeing the glass half empty.

With all due respect, I have the feeling (as I told you a few days ago over those yummy sangrias) that you have lost perspective. I'm certainly not naiive enough to think that we are recieving free money for free..but the money is much needed, and I am happy we are recieving it. Are you suggesting we go back to 1982 when our cities were destroyed but no one offered to help in the aftermath?

Mr. Smarterthanyou said...

Lebanon shouldn't get a penny until the disarm HB. Period. Enough acting like victims.

Doha said...

i agree with fga. however, i feel that what's missing are government plans of how this money will be used. i actually like that countries are giving out money that is targeted as opposed to just for general use, where it will go into many deep pockets, but government plans will ensure that the money is used properly and efficiently.

Raja said...


of course the money will help. the point i tried to make was that it's nice to have people competing to give you money; however, I have two issues that bother me:

1. intentions. as I've already mentioned, the primary concern of the donors is to "stick it" to their adversaries.
2. Lebanon is open to donations and (in normal circumstances) investments. However, nobody's ever figured out how to protect it from weapons and bombs. Maybe if our political elite managed to figure that trick out, I'd be a little less cynical about the money we get.

Lirun said...

salary relief and tax assistance are certainly methods used in israel..

doha and raja - i have expressed nothing but respect for you both and your blog since finding it - but what have u done to raise the profile of this matter on the agenda..

you have now attained international recognition - if i were you i would be leveraging this for the purposes i support - beyond just blogging


Bad Vilbel said...

Raja says:
Lebanon is open to donations and (in normal circumstances) investments. However, nobody's ever figured out how to protect it from weapons and bombs.

Herein lies the crux of the argument. You protect investments and people from bombs and weapons when you make peace with your neighbours and provide a strong, sovereign and unified state, that enforces the rule of law within its boundaries.
Neither our leaders nor our people seem to comprehend this very basic and simple logic.

The Middle East News Addict said...

I think it is great that money pours into Lebanon, provided it truly gets to the right hands and is all channelled through the Lebanese government so as to strngthen its power vis-a-vis Hezbollah. As for money from Iran and Syria, it is no gift. If anything, it is compensation for the price Lebanon has had to pay (and if nothing is done, will continue to pay) for their ambitions.

Loli said...

Well said, Bad vilbel. However, I wouldn't go as far as to say that the people hasn't understood this basic fact. I think that lots of ordinary Lebanese have figured it a while ago, but are powerless in the face of sectarianism and weak leaders. Every sect in Lebanon has had its power trip and has gained nothing. Let's hope this last conflict has knocked some sense into some heads.

Bad Vilbel said...


I respectfully call Bullshit :)

These "ordinary people" you mention are not as powerless as people keep saying. If they stopped acting and thinking sectarianism, the sectarian leaders wouldn't be empowered.

If the Lebanese people truly started thinking about Lebanon first and ACTING about it, people like Aoun, Geagea, Nasrallah and their ilk would not have the following they currently have.

Loli said...

Bad Vilbel,

I couldn't agree more. But you see, it doesn't mean that there are no Lebanese who think straight. My siblings and many of our friends and acquaintances are against sectarianism, and especially against all these so-called "leaders" who serve everyone else but Lebanon. And yet, as much as these people are opposed to this sad state of affairs, they can't do much about it. A close friend was telling me the other how outraged she was by a lot of Christians (mind you she is Christian too) who blindly follow Aoun, a power-hungry traitor. But what can she do about it?

We really need new blood in politics. We need true leaders who prefer Lebanon to their power trip and who don't belong to the so-called political elite (why do we even call them "elite"??).

Ultimately, the people are responsible, of course but I can assure you there's a good deal of them who are so ready for a change.

Dimitry said...

Ah, the political leaders being a mostly useless, morons or both, nobody worthwhile to vote to... Sounds just like home.

Bad Vilbel said...


I understand what you're saying. Hell, I grew up in Lebanon and experienced this phenomenon firsthand.

Having said that, I still think that the people (as a whole) are ultimately the ones who make these leaders relevant. Aoun is only relevant because of this blind following he has that you mention.
The same goes for those who follow Geagea, Jumblatt, Berri, you name it.

So yes, we need new leaders, from a newer generation. That's a given.
But these leaders don't materialize out of thin air. They come from people like you and me, and those siblings and aquaintances you mention.

For true democracy to flourish, people like us need to step up. As long as we keep shrugging our shoulders and staying at home because "there's nothing we can do about it"...Guess what? Aoun and Berri and Nasrallah and co. will stay our leaders.

Loli said...

Bad Vilbel,

Very true. I think we agree on everything.

Btw, why did you pick a German geo name for an alias? Or does it refer to something else in the US?

Bad Vilbel said...


Bad Vilbel is also the title of a track by experimental electronic duo Autechre (of which i happen to be a fan). It really has no "blogging" significance besides being phonetically appealing to me. :)

Loli said...

Bad Vilbel,

Got it. Thanks! :)