Elections Run Smoothly in Lebanon Despite Final Fear Mongering

http://qifanabki.com/ is updating on the election today in Beirut.

Buses of Lebanese living in Syria set out for Beirut this morning. Syrians are following the elections closely and with baited breath.

Riyadh and Washington have both warned Lebanese voters on the eve of elections that a vote for Aoun will cost them foreign aid that may drive Lebanon into economic crisis. Meanwhile, U.S. Congressional Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Howard Berman said, “We want this election to take place in peace with no threats.” … Charming.

Asharq Alawsat’s Rashed, a voice close to the Saudi government, writes that if the opposition wins in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia won’t help Lebanon anymore.

Feltman said it would be naïve for some to think that the outcome of the Lebanese parliamentary elections won’t affect U.S. policy in Lebanon.

In an joint interview with both dailies An-Nahar and al-Hayat on Saturday, Feltman said: “The election’s outcome will naturally affect world’s stance towards the new Lebanese government and the manner in which the United States and Congress deal with Lebanon.”

“I believe the Lebanese are smart enough to understand that there will be an effect. When Hizbullah claims that there won’t be any effect, when it claims that it is not interested in the matter, I tend to believe that the Lebanese with their intelligence would think otherwise,” Feltman said.

He went on to indirectly criticizing Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun saying: “one of your politicians is proposing that Christians shouldn’t depend on the United States. I hope the Lebanese had accurately listened to president’s [Barack Obama] speech that specifically pointed to the widest Christian religious minority in Lebanon, the Maronites. The president spoke about the need for respecting all peoples in the region including minorities…I hope the Lebanese would ask themselves: do we want to be on the side of the international community and close to the stances that president Obama made? I hope they would say yes.”

“We want this election to take place in peace with no threats or violence,” U.S. Congressional Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Howard Berman said.

Paul Salem of Carnegie in the LA Times:

…LAT: How much would this reduction really affect Lebanon?

Salem: It’s true that the aid to the Lebanese military is perhaps less than what Lebanon wanted. I think they have delivered $250 million over the past three years with more in the pipeline, but like you said that isn’t a lot.

But what’s important is that the Lebanese army has aligned itself with the West in terms of training and equipment. If this kind of aid is no longer feasible, March 8 could turn to Iran, as [Hezbollah’s Sheik Hassan] Nasrallah has said they would do.

LAT: Could Iran provide more than what the U.S. does currently?

Salem: Iran could definitely provide much more, and they would be happy to do it. The obstacles would be more internal than international, since there is no way the U.S. could stop such a thing from happening.

But no matter who wins the elections, Lebanon is a confessional system, a diverse country, and it would be difficult for them to push that through on their own. And I don’t think Hezbollah really wants to do that. Hezbollah benefits from a Lebanese state that is close to the West and an army that is innocuous against it — it provides protection.

And besides, Hezbollah relies on its own weapons, not the state’s….

Haaretz [Thanks to FLC as we cannot read Haaretz here]

“… This week, Hezbollah’s representative in South Lebanon said a war between Israel and Lebanon is possible only if the coalition led by Hariri continues to rule. He says Israel will only dare attack if it feels that Hezbollah has serious opposition at home. Beri, parliament’s outgoing speaker, called on voters to vote in such a way that “the results will worry Israel …. Let us show Lebanese unity that will not allow [Israel] to attack and rely on the division that was characteristic during the Second Lebanon War.”

Egypt and Saudi Arabia share Israel’s concern about the election; in recent weeks they have taken pains to help Hezbollah’s rivals. ….

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has funneled huge sums to candidates from Hariri’s group to ensure their victory. The timing of the report in the German magazine Der Spiegel about Hezbollah’s involvement in the assassination of Hariri’s father, former prime minister Rafik Hariri, was no coincidence, and the exposure of the “Israeli spy ring” was also meant to play an important part in the campaign. …”

Obama woos Syria in push for peace
Sarah Baxter in Washington and Uzi Mahnaimi
The Sunday Times, June 7, 2009

BARACK OBAMA’S special envoy to the Middle East is to visit Syria this week after the president said “the moment is now” to push for peace.

Former senator George Mitchell’s expected visit follows a fortnight’s intensive diplomatic wooing of Syria in the hope of splintering its alliance with Iran and persuading Damascus to use its influence to moderate Hamas, the militant Islamic group that rules the Gaza Strip.

There has been no official confirmation of Mitchell’s trip, but one State Department official said he was “95% sure” that Syria was on the itinerary: “The president is committed to comprehensive peace. Syria is one of the parties. It therefore makes sense for Mitchell to start engaging them.”

Comments (42)

stevieb said:

I would imagine Syria would be quite offended by the assertion that it could ‘moderate’ the democratically elected, Hamas – a resistance party to Israeli fanaticism whose rule provides the excuse to keep the Palestinians living in complete squalor. Unless Obama has promised to use American influence to moderate the current fascist government in Israel (i.e sanctions and divestment in the face of continued settlement expansion in the W.Bank and E.Jerusalem, at minimum)

Without a concrete commitment from Obama to temper Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians and the Lebanese it’s hard to imagine that they believe they will gain any concessions from Iran, Syria or Hezbollah.

It’s Obama vs the Lobby – and we know how that story ends…

June 7th, 2009, 12:59 pm


norman said:

looking at the election in Lebanon and how Lebanese living abroad can still vote and have the same impact as the people who are living there every day , the interference of forign countries in the election which is apparently legal in Lebanon and the money that is spent to buy votes , all this makes it very clear that Lebanon does not know democracy as these things are not allowed in Israel , and any country in the West ,

For Lebanon to have a real democracy where all people feel equal they should cancel quotas, set aside have one vote for every Lebanese , have small districts so people will vote for people they know , have free movement and anti discrimination laws in housing and employment , make people register where they live not where they come from and vote where they live for somebody who lives in their districts , as long as the Shea in Lebanon do not feel that they have equal rights in employment and opportunity they will never abandon their weapons , how can we blame them , without their weapon Israel would have stayed in south Lebanon ,

The US and the West did nothing to force Israel out , the Palestinians and the Syrians should learn from that , Our rights and lands can be only taken by force as proven in the last forty years.

And that is my take on Lebanon and the US push for Mideast peace.

June 7th, 2009, 2:02 pm


Alex said:

Asharq Alawsat’s two main opinion pieces yesterday were

1) Editor Tariq Alhomayed

Voting for Lebanon or Iran?


We will also find out today whether the Lebanese – who have been freed from Israeli, and later Syrian occupation, and who also experienced Hezbollah arms used against them during the Beirut coup [7 May 2008] – want a free and independent Lebanon, or whether they will vote to put themselves under the authority of the Wilayat Al Faqih. This second possibility will mean that Lebanon will no longer be the country that it once was; what Lebanon experienced following the Lebanese Civil war, and other wars, is far less [dangerous] than subordination to Iran, which will not only change the very fabric of the country, but also cut Lebanon off from the rest of the world.

2) Abdel Rahman Al-Rashed (director of Al-Arabyia Saudi TV station)

How will the Lebanese vote? To the Saudis or to the Iranians?

مثلما قال نواب سُنة ،مثل مصباح الأحدب، أنه يستبعد أن تمد السعودية العون لحكومة فيها حزب الله

As many Sunni PM’s said: It is unlikely that Saudi Arabia will continue to provide assistance to a (Lebanese) government that includes Hizbollah.


لمن يصوت لبنان: للسعوديين أم الإيرانيين؟

تبدو الانتخابات اللبنانية في منطقتنا أهم من انتخابات الولايات المتحدة من جراء الضجيج والمراهنات الكثيفة حولها، وهي في الواقع انتخابات مهمة، ليس لبنانيا، بل تمثل انتخابا إقليميا، حيث الصراع في لبنان على أشده. هل يكسبها المعسكر الإيراني السوري، أم المعسكر السعودي المصري الأميركي؟ هذا هو السؤال المهم الذي يجعلها انتخابات غير عادية، لأن الانتماءات فيها صريحة وواضحة. وسبق لزعيم حزب الله أن وعد اللبنانيين بأن إيران ستتولى مساعدتهم عسكريا واقتصاديا، مثلما قال نواب سُنة ،مثل مصباح الأحدب، أنه يستبعد أن تمد السعودية العون لحكومة فيها حزب الله وهو يوجه إليها كل هذه الإساءات. كما قال مساعد وزير الخارجية الأميركية، الأول من أمس، أن العلاقة مع حكومة للمعارضة نفس العلاقة كما هي اليوم. إذن نحن أمام انتخابات أبعد من كراسي البرلمان اللبناني.

ورغم الشكوك المنطقية في كل مفهوم الانتخاب، في بلد مثل لبنان شديد الانقسام السياسي والديني، وفي بلد المحاصصة هي النظام الرسمي، تجرى انتخابات لبنان في فترة صراع إقليمية مهمة. وما يجعلها مثيرة أن النتائج متقاربة جدا، فالصراع على بضعة كراسي برلمانية، لأن معظمها محسوم، ولا يعرف أحد حتى صباح الغد لمن الغلبة، مما يزيدها إثارة.

وبعد أن ينتخب الناس وتشكل الحكومة لن تكون السنوات القليلة المقبلة مريحة، بل قد تكون بنفس السوء الذي مرت به السنوات الأربع الماضية. خلالها ستقر أحكام محكمة قتلة الحريري. وخلالها سيطرح مشروع سلام للمنطقة، لبنان فيه طرف مباشر. وأهم من ذلك ستحسم مكانة إيران في المنطقة ومشروعها السياسي. وفي كل هذه القضايا الثلاث الصعبة سيكون لبنان مسرحا مهما، مضطربا أو مستقرا.

وأتصور أن سيئ الحظ من يربح الانتخابات، ويكلف بتشكيل الحكومة، ويصبح رئيسا للوزراء، ووزيرا في العهد الجديد، لأن الخيارات ستكون قاسية، وكل قرار يتخذ سيكون له ثمن صعب. مع أننا أيضا يجب أن نرصد المؤشرات الإيجابية التي تدلل على أن المتنازعين صاروا في الأخير أكثر حذرا وأقل اشتباكا.

ومن إيجابيات الانتخابات أنها كشفت كيف طور كل فريق خطابه السياسي بخلاف ما كنا نتوقعه. كنا نظن أن التيارات اللبنانية ستغرق في مواقفها الأصلية لكنها في الحقيقة لم تفعل.

فحزب الله جاهد من أجل تجنب الترويج لفكر مواجهة إسرائيل، لأنه يشعر أن الحرب لم تعد خيار اللبنانيين، بما فيهم أنصار الحزب. زالت في الانتخابات مزايدات كثيرة حيث كان حزب الله يقول قبل عامين إنه لن يتوقف إلا بعد تحرير القدس. وقد علق أحد منسوبيه عندما أحرج بسؤال عن مشروع المقاومة فقال صراحة إن هدفه ليس فلسطين بل لبنان فقط.

وكذلك تعمد الفريق الآخر الابتعاد عن تأزيم العلاقة السياسية مع خصومه، واختار، على غير عادته، أن يدافع في بعض المناسبات عن حزب الله، ويسكت على المخالفات الأمنية في حق أتباعه. وهذا لم يمنع بالطبع التراشق الضروري لوضع الناخب أمام حالتين، اتهام (8 آذار) بالإيرانية، واتهام (14 آذار) بالأميركية.

الانتخابات اللبنانية تحسمها بضعة مقاعد لأن المعسكرات استولت مسبقا على مناطقها ورسمت حدودها.

June 7th, 2009, 3:04 pm


Alex said:

Meanwhile, the United States made it clear the past few months that Syria will be monitored closely to ensure that it will not try to interfere in Lebanese elections!

It all starts from the assumption that the Untied States is on the side of good (democracy, etc.) … US allies, such as Saudi Arabia (The Sweden of the Middle East), seem to automatically assume they are also on the side of good, and therefore they can also interfere in Lebanon’s elections just like their American friends.

Which reminds me of the other good ally of the good United States .. Israel. This week there are Israelis calling for punishing Syria for the traces of Uranium found near one of its R & D site. The same Israel that has hundreds of Nuclear weapons (not traces of Uranium) is asking for punishing Syria.

June 7th, 2009, 3:17 pm


Shami said:


A very interesting joint press conference-debate between Obama and Sarkozy.
He appears very resolute to open a new page with the Islamic world and i tend to believe in his honesty regarding this matter.
I hope that the zionist lobby would not be able to plot against him.

June 7th, 2009, 3:46 pm


Averroes said:

Former US CIA operative Robert Baer describes the Saudis well in his several books. When confronted with a problem, they do what they do best: throw money at it. That sleazy attitude is evident in all their policies, and unfortunately, in their social manners as well.

What Rashid is saying to the Lebanese is that if you don’t vote for our side, we won’t give you money anymore. Others in his media mammoth are threatening the Lebanese with a similar fate as Gaza’s.

However, in the real world, money can only take you so far. Indeed, it can take you to many places, but only so far. The Lebanese know that the money the Saudis have been pouring has not been channeled to benefit the country, but to benefit the individuals that the Saudis take for political pets in Lebanon.

Saudi money is a quick fix, but it will not build the country many Lebanese want.

June 7th, 2009, 4:31 pm


norman said:

What a joke , Israel can have all the weapons that it wants including nuclear ones while the Arabs and Muslims are denied technical advancement ,
And they wonder why the Arabs and Muslim hate the West , IT IS BECAUSE OF WHAT THE WEST DOES .

Israel: Tougher probes for Iran-Syria nukes

2009-06-07 17:30:08 –

JERUSALEM (AP) – Israel called on the International Atomic Agency Sunday to use firmer measures to investigate suspected Syrian and Iranian nuclear sites after its latest report suggested the two countries were hindering probes.
The U.N. nuclear agency on Friday reported its second unexplained find of uranium particles at a Syrian nuclear site. The investigation was sparked by suspicions that a Syrian desert location allegedly hit by Israeli warplanes in 2007 was a plutonium producing reactor built with North Korean assistance.
In a separate report, the agency said Iran continued to expand its uranium enrichment program despite three sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions meant to pressure Tehran into halting the project.
The agency has made little progress for over a year in its inquiries. The restricted reports, made available to The Associated Press on Friday, essentially confirmed stonewalling by both countries of the two separate IAEA probes.
Iran insists its nuclear activities are peaceful, while Syria denies hiding a nuclear program. Both countries are bitter enemies of Israel.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the U.N. report raised questions about Syrian activity and noted its unresponsiveness. «This situation reinforces suspicions that Syria is trying to blur evidence of secret nuclear activity,» the statement said.
Israel has been focusing most of its attention on Iran, suspecting that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Iran and its nuclear project are the most serious danger to Israel’s security. Since taking office March 31, Netanyahu has tried to put Iran at the top of the world’s Mideast agenda instead of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Israel considers Iran a strategic threat because of its nuclear program, development of long-range missiles and repeated references by its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to Israel’s destruction.
«What is needed from the international community is immediate and determined action to ensure that Iran will not be able to produce nuclear weapons,» the Israeli Foreign Ministry said, calling on the IAEA to «conduct an investigation free from political considerations and bias, and also to demand that North Korea, which is mentioned in the report, cooperate in the investigation.
Without cooperation by Iran, the IAEA «will not be in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran,» the report said.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said last week that Israel does not intend to bomb Iran to stop it from obtaining atomic weapons. Speaking at the end of a visit to Russia, Lieberman said Iran’s nuclear program is the world’s problem, not just Israel’s.
Reversing the previous U.S. stance, the Obama administration has said it is ready to talk with Iranian officials about the nuclear issue.

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June 7th, 2009, 5:21 pm


majid said:

An Arab Perspective of Mr. Obama’s visit to SA and Egypt:

د. تركي الحمد

من الملاحظ أن جولة الرئيس باراك أوباما الشرق أوسطية لم تشمل إسرائيل، واقتصرت على السعودية ومصر وذلك لعدة أسباب، منها ما هو رمزي ومنها ما هو سياسي، أو لنقل رسالة سياسية معينة لبقية دول المنطقة. فمن الناحية الرمزية، تُعتبر السعودية مهد الإسلام، والبقعة التي ظهر فيها ومنها انتشر في بقية أرجاء المعمورة، وطالما أن هدف الزيارة هو السعي إلى فتح صفحة جديدة بين الولايات المتحدة والعالم الإسلامي، فإن افتتاح الزيارة بالسعودية هو إشارة رمزية إلى بداية جديدة. وعدم زيارة أوباما إلى إسرائيل هو أيضاً جزء من هذه الرسالة الرمزية، حيث يقول فيها للمسلمين ضمناً إنني قادم إليكم وحدكم، ولن أجامل أحداً في ذلك. أما ما هو سياسي في هذه الزيارة المقتصرة على دولتين فقط، فهو رسالة مفادها أن هاتين الدولتين، مصر والسعودية، هما أهم دولتين في المنطقة بالنسبة للإدارة الأميركية الجديدة، ويشكلان حجر الزاوية في السياسة الخارجية الأميركية الجديدة، وذلك يتبين بوضوح من خلال عدم العروج على تل أبيب في هذه الجولة. صحيح أن هدف الزيارة هو إلقاء «خطاب مصالحة» مع العالم الإسلامي في المقام الأول، ولكن جرت العادة أن يقوم رؤساء أميركا السابقين بالمرور على تل أبيب حين يكونون في الشرق الأوسط، حتى لو كانت الزيارة لا علاقة لها بإسرائيل، ولكن هي المجاملة الدائمة لإسرائيل من قبل الإدارات الأميركية المختلفة، وذلك لحسابات سياسية دقيقة في الداخل الأميركي، ولكن باراك أوباما لم يفعل ذلك، وهي رسالة لإسرائيل بالذات بأن الوضع لم يعد هو ذات الوضع، وأن العلاقة الأميركية الإسرائيلية في ظل الإدارة الجديدة لن تكون علاقة أم ورضيعها في كل الأحوال.

بطبيعة الحال فإن هذا لا يعني انشطارا حادا في العلاقة مع إسرائيل، فإسرائيل كانت وستبقى حجر زاوية في أي سياسة أميركية خارجية في الشرق الأوسط، ولكني أظن أن الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة تحاول أن تقول لإسرائيل إن وقت الفطام قد آن، ولكن الفطام لا يعني انتهاء العلاقة مع الأم، ولكنه يعني انتهاء زمن الرعاية المطلقة، واعتماد الرضيع على ضرعي أمه، ويبدو ذلك من خلال قراءة متأنية لخطاب الرئيس أوباما في جامعة القاهرة.

بعيداً عن القضية الفلسطينية والعلاقة مع إسرائيل في خطاب الرئيس أوباما، وليس بعيداً عنها في الوقت ذاته، يمكن القول إن الخطاب قد حفل بالعديد من «الفتوحات والمبادرات»، إن صح التعبير، فيما يتعلق بإعادة النظر في علاقة العالم الإسلامي بالولايات المتحدة، وهي مبادرات تسعى إلى إعادة الثقة وحسن النية بين الطرفين، تلك العلاقة التي بدأت في التدهور وعدم الثقة منذ أيام الرئيس ليندون جونسون وتأييده المطلق لإسرائيل في حرب يونيو من عام 1967، ووصلت قمتها في عهد الرئيس بوش الابن، مروراً ببعض الرؤساء المرنين مثل كارتر وبوش الأب وكلينتون، الذي حول العلاقة مع إسرائيل والعداء مع العالم العربي تحديداً، إلى مسألة دينية مؤدلجة أكثر من كونها قضية سياسية. نقاط هامة كثيرة تستوقف المحلل عند هذا الخطاب، وسأبدأ بأهمها من وجهة نظري.

النقطة الأولى: هي التخلي عن الغطرسة الأميركية التي كانت عنوان مرحلة بوش، وإن كانت عنوان مراحل سابقة، ولكنها وصلت ذروتها في عهد بوش. فلأول مرة منذ عهود بعيدة يقرر رئيس أميركي أن الولايات المتحدة هي جزء من هذا العالم وليست كل العالم، وبالتالي لا يمكن لها أن تفرض أسلوبها في الحياة، السياسي منه والاجتماعي، على الآخرين من ذوي الثقافات المختلفة، وهو أمر ما كان يخطر على بال إدارة المسيحيين الجدد في عهد بوش الابن، الذي كان يرى أن الثقافة الأميركية هي ما يجب أن يكون ثقافة كل العالم. ولكن إذا أقر الرئيس أوباما بحق الآخرين في اختيار أسلوب حياتهم، فإنه يقرر أيضاً أن هنالك قيماً إنسانية لا يمكن التغاضي عنها من أجل عالم يسوده السلام، وإنسان ينعم بالحرية والازدهار، منها احترام حقوق الإنسان، وشفافية الأنظمة، ومحاربة الفساد، وأن تكون الأنظمة السياسية قائمة على الاتفاق لا على الإكراه. فالديمقراطية الأميركية، أو الغربية عموماً، ليست هي النموذج الأوحد لتحقيق إنسانية الإنسان، ولكن تبقى تلك المبادئ العامة التي تشكل أساس البناء، أما شكل البناء فهو من المتغيرات، أو هكذا فهمت كلمة الرئيس أوباما.

والنقطة الثانية: هي حديثه عن العنف، واستخدامه لمفهوم «المقاومة» لأول مرة على لسان رئيس أميركي، وأن العنف لا يحقق الأهداف المتوخاة من المقاومة. فالعنف الفلسطيني الإسرائيلي المتبادل، والحديث ينطبق على أي ممارسة أخرى للعنف، لن يحل القضية في النهاية، بل لن تكون النتائج إلا مزيداً من الكوارث، وتأجيجاً للكراهية ليس إلا. وضرب أوباما مثلاً عن معاناة السود في أميركا، وأن العنف لم يلغها، ولكن المقاومة السلمية هي من فعل. وبالفعل، فالسود في أميركا لم يحصلوا على حقوقهم إلا من خلال مسيرات مارتن لوثر كينغ السلمية في النهاية، ولم يؤد عنف «ستوكلي كارمايكل» (مؤسس حركة القوة السوداء) وغيره إلا إلى زيادة التوتر في المجتمع الأميركي. وفي جنوب أفريقيا لم يلجأ الرئيس نيلسون مانديلا إلى العنف كي يلغي «الأبارتايد »، بل كانت المقاومة السلمية هي التي أدت إلى سقوط النظام العنصري في جنوب أفريقيا، وكذلك الحال في الهند مع المهاتما غاندي، والأمثلة كثيرة. المراد قوله هنا أن عنف القاعدة وغيرها من جماعاتنا المتطرفة، لن تؤدي إلى أي نتيجة في النهاية سوى زيادة التوتر والكراهية المتبادلة بيننا وبين بقية العالم، كما أن العنف، كمرتكز وخيار شبه وحيد في السياسة الخارجية الأميركية، كما كان الحال أيام بوش الابن، هو الآخر لن يؤدي إلا إلى تفاقم مشاكل العالم وليس حلها. وإذا كان نظام الحكم في الداخل يجب أن يقوم على الاتفاق وليس الفرض والإكراه كما قال أوباما، فإن النظام الدولي يجب أن يقوم هو الآخر على المشاركة والاتفاق لا الإكراه، وإلا عدنا إلى الكيل بمكيلين والوزن بميزانين.

النقطة الثالثة اللافتة للانتباه في خطاب أوباما هي حديثه عن التسامح وحرية الأديان، مستشهداً في ذلك بمبادرة الملك عبد الله بن عبد العزيز في حوار الأديان. فالإيمان وعاء يجمع ولا يفرق، ولكن حين يُمارس الجميع هذا الإيمان كل على طريقته، ونحن في ذلك لسنا إلا من الممتثلين لقول الحق: «لا إكراه في الدين»، فالإكراه شيء ترفضه الأديان، وتأباه الروح الإنسانية، والإيمان في النهاية مسألة لا يستقيم الإكراه معها، فهي إما أن تكون نابعة من قناعة ذاتية أو لا تكون. وفي مسألة التسامح والتعددية الدينية خاصة والتعددية بشكل عام، فإني أعتقد أن الرئيس أوباما يفهم الإسلام أكثر مما يفهمه بعض المسلمين، وذلك حين يقول: «إن التسامح تقليد عريق يفخر به الإسلام. نشاهد هذا التسامح في تاريخ الأندلس وقرطبة خلال فترة محاكم التفتيش. لقد شاهدت بنفسي هذا التسامح عندما كنت طفلاً في إندونيسيا».
يُنهي أوباما خطابه بالقول: «جئت سعياً إلى بداية جديدة بين الولايات المتحدة والمسلمين في العالم، ترتكز على المصالح المتبادلة والاحترام المتبادل، وعلى حقيقة أن أميركا والإسلام لا يُقصي أحدهما الآخر، ولا يحتاجان إلى التنافس، إنهما يتقاسمان المبادئ نفسها، مبادئ العدالة والتقدم والتسامح والكرامة لكل البشر». كلام جميل، ومبادئ لا يختلف عليها عاقلان، ولكن يبقى السؤال عن التنفيذ، وهو عملية تستوجب تعاوناً بين طرفين، وقبل ذلك النية الصادقة والعزم على الفعل. بالنسبة لي على الأقل، أنا أثق بنوايا هذا الرجل وعزمه على الفعل، ولكنه ليس دكتاتوراً في دولة نامية، بمجرد أن يأمر يطاع. الرئاسة الأميركية مؤسسة هي جزء من مؤسسات عديدة، محاطة ببيئة سياسية شديدة التعقيد، تلعب فيها قوى مختلفة من وراء الكواليس، وليس الكل في هذه البيئة السياسة متفقاً مع رؤى الرئيس الجديد، وهذا مما قد يعرقل، وسيعرقل الكثير من طموحات رجل واشنطن الجديد. من ناحية أخرى، وعلى الجانب الآخر من المعادلة، سوء الظن موجود في عالمنا ومجتمعاتنا ودولنا، وقد يرى الكثيرون أن خطاب أوباما ليس إلا محاولة لتحسين صورة العم سام في العالم الإسلامي، وهو ليس إلا خطاب تخدير أو علاقات عامة أو حتى مجرد استهلاك لفظي، وهو مما يؤدي إلى عدم أخذ مبادرة أوباما مأخذاً جدياً. كل ذلك وارد، ولكن يبقى التفاؤل بأن قوى العقل سوف يكون لها دور على الضفتين والطرفين، ليس بالضرورة عاجلاً، ولكن يكفي أن العجلة قد بدأت تدور، وأن شمعة قد أُضيئت، وأن أميركا قد بدأت تعود إلى رشدها بعد ثمالة ما بعد الحادي عشر من سبتمبر، وفي النهاية فإن رحلة الألف ميل تبدأ بخطوة واحدة.

* نقلا عن صحيفة “الشرق الأوسط” اللندنية

AS a side note, could any commentator give one single good reason why Saudi Arabia should support financially any Hezbollah dominated Lebanese Government? I fail to find a good reason from Saudi perspective.

June 7th, 2009, 5:39 pm


Shai said:


It isn’t technology Obama doesn’t want to see in Arab hands, it’s the actual weapons. There’s no way around saying it – Obama trusts Israel with its nuclear weapons more than he does Iran, Syria, or Jordan for that matter. I don’t think he minds Iran having nuclear technology.

But what is often not said, is just how Israel attained its own nuclear “technology”, which is very much using the same deception and “civilian-use” excuses that Iran is using today. We were and are no different. It is well known that Kennedy’s inspectors were taken on a “tour” of Dimona, that happened to skip over certain places. Kennedy turned a blind eye (at first he didn’t), as did all the other presidents since.

What I find somewhat funny, is that the U.S. administration is willing to use the “If Iran goes nuclear, a race will begin in the Middle East” argument, but it seems to forget that Iraq, Libya, Iran, and quite possibly Syria, have all opted for nuclear technology (weapons) more than likely, precisely because of Israel. So while a potential race may ensue after Iran acquired such weapons, in reality, this race has already begun long ago.

June 7th, 2009, 5:43 pm


majid said:

Those SC commentators who think that the Lebanese are pressured by certain powers, regional or international, and are in need for guidance to understand the issues facing them, should read this purely Lebanese perspective about the election issues:

علي حمادة

أكثر من غيره أعطى نداء “البطريرك اللبناني”، نعم اللبناني، مار نصرالله بطرس صفير البارحة البعد الحقيقي للمعركة الانتخابية التي تدور اليوم في كل لبنان بقوله: “اننا اليوم امام تهديد للكيان اللبناني ولهويتنا العربية، وهذا خطر يجب التنبه له، ولهذا فان الواجب يقضي علينا بأن نكون واعين لما يدبر لنا من مكائد، ونحبط المساعي الحثيثة التي ستغير، اذا نجحت، وجه بلدنا”.

وأكثر من غيره اعطى نداء البطريرك اللبناني الاشارة الى هبة لبنانية مسيحية – اسلامية واحدة دفاعا عن الكيان المهدد اكثر من اي وقت مضى، مشددا على ضرورة “التنبّه لهذه الأخطار واتخاذ المواقف الجريئة التي تثبّت الهوية اللبنانية، ليبقى لبنان وطن الحرية والقيم الاخلاقية والسيادة التامة والاستقلال الناجز، ولا يضيع حق وراءه مطالب”.

هذا هو العنوان الحقيقي للمعركة الانتخابية اليوم، حيث يتواجه خياران، الاول، نقيض الكيان، والنظام، والصيغة، التعددية، والديموقراطية والاستقلال ومشروع الدولة، ويمثله “حزب الله” والقوى التي تسير في ركبه وفي مقدمها الجنرال ميشال عون وقد ذهب بعيدا في حربه المنهجية لكسر هذا الكيان الذي بنيناه مسلمين ومسيحيين على مر العقود. اما الثاني فخيار الاستقلال والدفاع عن الهوية، والكيان الذي صنعناه بالدماء والدموع على الرغم من كل العثرات الكبيرة التي تعرّضنا لها، وكل الاخطاء التي ارتكبناها منذ 1943 الى اليوم – خلقنا مع الكيان هوية وانتماء لبنانيا عضويا. وفي ثورة الارز صنعنا لحظة تاريخية لبنانية واحدة جاءت بالاستقلال بفعل تضحيات شهدائنا قادة الاستقلال الثاني، وشجاعة الشعب الذي هبّ للدفاع عن لبنان العظيم.
في هذه اللحظة التاريخية وهي الثانية بعد الرابع عشر من آذار، تحد على مستوى الشعب كله الذي توجّه اليه البطريرك صفير واضعا مصير لبنان بين يديه.
فالانتخابات التي نحن في صددها اليوم ليست تنافسا تقليديا يؤمّن تداولا طبيعيا للسلطة بين فريقين سياسيين يحترمان القواعد الديموقراطية، ويلتقيان حول ثوابت وطنية تحمي الفكرة اللبنانية، وانما هي محطة مصيرية سيتحدد من خلالها مصير الكيان والهوية في آن واحد. انها محطة مصيرية ستؤذن، إن لم يهب الشعب الاستقلالي للدفاع عن الكيان، ببدء مرحلة من الاحتضار الوطني الشامل الذي لن تكون عودة منه. انها محطة مصيرية لكل لبناني من أجل منع عبور أخطر مشروع مناقض لمعنى لبنان، ذلك المشروع الذي حمله ويحمله “حزب الله” في مواجهة اللبنانيين جميعا بمن فيهم انصار الجنرال عون المغرّر بهم، وقد صاروا وقودا لهذه الآلة الجهنمية التي تنهش لحم الوطن العاري.

ان لبنان في خطر، وكل لبناني ولبنانية في خطر. هذه ليست مبالغة، بل حقيقة واقعة. والخطر الكبير قد يأتي من خلال صناديق الاقتراع اذا ما ارتكبنا خطيئة الاتيان عمدا او غباء بالفاشية الى السلطة. ومن هنا اهمية الاستحقاق الانتخابي والمسؤولية التاريخية التي يحملها كل لبناني في كل مكان لحظة توجهه الى صندوقة الاقتراع.

لنقف مع البطريرك صفير دفاعا عن الكيان اللبناني المهدد، ولننتصر للبنان الاستقلال والحرية، ولنصنع من هذا اليوم السابع من حزيران يوما مجيدا دفاعا عن لبنان العظيم.

It looks like the intellectuals of Lebanon are well aware of what’s at stake besides outside financial support.

June 7th, 2009, 6:32 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

It will be better for 8 of march to loose,in this election, if they win, there will sure be civil war in two years,tension will increase,american interference will increase,and so Israel spies.

June 7th, 2009, 6:59 pm


majid said:

I just read one very brief but very reasonable comment at SyriaComment. It is 10.

June 7th, 2009, 8:28 pm


Shami said:

Anyway MajedKhaldoun,whatever would be the result,Lebanon has proved to be the most important and most influent country in the Arab world thanks to its democracy , wonderful civil society and it loves for life .Despite the structural imperfections of this democracy ,it’s by far better than these arab dictatorships who destroyed our stones and human being under the cover of hypocrite slogans.This silly game must end or it will take them to hell.There is One certainty ,stubborn dictatorships always finish in the trash of history and this is the ineluctable fate of Bashar if he resists Syria’s legitimate aspirations.As an educated man ,he should acknowledge the logic of history.

Mabrouk to the Lebanese people.In this moment,My thought goes to the martyr Samir Kassir.

June 7th, 2009, 9:05 pm


norman said:


The end of apparthide in south Africa did not come from peacful resistence but from economic sanction , I agree with you if the West imposes economic sanction on Israel until it does the right thing , there should be only peacfull resistence , but i would not hold my breath as the West has no ability to impose sanctions on israel .

June 7th, 2009, 9:20 pm


norman said:


American books on science and technology are not permitted to be sent to Syria , computers too are not allowed to export to syria,

march 14 are claiming victory.

June 7th, 2009, 9:26 pm


majid said:

As of 12:37 am June 8 Beirut time

نائب ل 14 اذار
15 نائب ل 8 اذار
7 نواب مستقلين

Thanks for the comment (13) Norman. Agree partly. Have questions about peacful resistance.

June 7th, 2009, 9:42 pm


majid said:

Sami Jemayyel, Sarkis Sarkis, Majed Abi lama’, Emile Kenaan, Elie Karame all M14 candidates in Maten are confirmed winners by FPM Aoun’s media, Tayyar.org.

Only Agop Baqradonian from M8 won in this district according to same source.

With Zahle and Maten results in favor of M14, the outcome is very much decided by now.

June 7th, 2009, 10:02 pm


majid said:


March 14 Maintains Parliamentary Majority in Record Turnout
The March 14 alliance clinched around 70 out of 128 seats, maintaining its majority in parliament after defeating the Hizbullah-led alliance in Sunday’s crucial elections.
Celebrations broke out in several cities as television stations began airing preliminary results.

The opposition confirmed defeat. “We have lost the election,” said a senior politician close to the March 8 alliance. “We accept the result as the will of the people.”

June 7th, 2009, 11:46 pm


norman said:

In Lebanon as in the US , Money makes a difference .

The US has democracy , So Lebanon has Democracy.

What a joke.

June 7th, 2009, 11:56 pm


majid said:

Enjoy this video Norman

June 8th, 2009, 12:00 am


norman said:


That was funny,

With march 14 win Lebanon could get it’s debt wiped out , and for that it would be worth , the Lebanese should take this opportunity to build a new Lebanon with equal rights to all people.without any set aside to any religious or ethnic groups.

June 8th, 2009, 12:46 am


majid said:

Norman, You’re beginning to see the big picture now. The other alternative would have been a disaster of course.

June 8th, 2009, 12:51 am


trustquest said:

Congratulation to the Lebanese people on performing FREE ELECTION in their sectarian STATE, which proved that it is a functioning democracy, and we wish someday in the future all their neighbors will learn from them.

Congratulation to the Syrian people on their new CIVIL MARRIAGE LAW (which will be approved eventually without amendments), which proved that Syria is a sectarian STATE, all we wish now for the Syrians to add democracy to the formula so we can say they at least learned something from their neighbors.

June 8th, 2009, 12:54 am


majid said:

Hey Norman,
This is to give you an idea of the other alternative. Enjoy it as well.

June 8th, 2009, 12:59 am


Majhool said:


Good to see that you continue to be a strong advocate for rule of law, democracy, and better goverening.

Aoun block shrunk to 18!

June 8th, 2009, 1:03 am


Off the Wall said:

If they are Lebanese citizens, they have the right to vote no matter where they lived. In fact, continuing reforms in Lebanon should result in establishing procedures for allowing and verifying absentee ballots so that Hariri would not have to pay everyones airline ticket and cost of stay, and HA would not have to shuttle Lebanese residents in Syria by the buss load.

I have more to say, but I have to go now.

June 8th, 2009, 1:22 am


norman said:


Citizen of a country should not be able to vote if they do not live in that country , Israelis who do not have a permanent resident in Israel do not have the right to vote ,as i understand it , as they should not suffer the consequences of their vote.

June 8th, 2009, 1:32 am


norman said:

I found this on SC from few days ago and could indicate that Syria will be happy either way.

Paul Salem, of Carnegie in Lebanon, stated that these are the first proper free elections since 1972 and outlined three posts-election scenarios:

1. Hung parliament what Salem sees as most likely. “This is where each camp holds large minorities and a group of independents, close to the President, holding the balance of votes,” Salem said. Outside powers of Saudi, US and Syria are directly and indirectly trying to push for this occurrence Salem stated. Interestingly, Salem claims that Syria does not want an all out March 8th victory because Aoun has a difficult relationship with Syria and Hezbollah is closer to Iran. So for Syria the best result is a hung parliament and Syria successfully sold this idea to the US and Saudi as the best option, according to Salem.

2. March 14 win. March 14 have stated that they will refuse to grant veto power to March 8 but Salem warns this could lead to violence and should instead get clear commitments from March 8 to move forward on key political and economic issues.

3. March 8 win. Salem states that this could lead to a situation where there is a collapse in support for Lebanon from the international community and the Gulf states. This could lead to “a collapse in confidence in Lebanon and a precipitous decline into economic and social unrest.”

June 8th, 2009, 1:39 am


majid said:

Excellent observation in comment 22.
Better to admit reality and deal with it than to sweep it under the carpet and delude yourself. Hope others will see it your way.

I did say previously Lebanon is the most qualified to lead by example on this front. You guys should also lend hand as much as you can.

June 8th, 2009, 2:13 am


trustquest said:

Hi Majhool,

Thanks first, I have sent you a “HI” and cookie earleir:


June 8th, 2009, 2:19 am


Nour said:


Lebanon a functioning democracy? You must be talking about another country here. Lebanon is the country where corrupt thugs and criminals get elected because votes are bought and because vulgar sectarian agitation is used to incite people’s emotions and mobilize them to vote for their side. In Lebanon the more vulgar and corrupt you are, the more likely you are to win an election. And the inherently corrupt sectarian system shall continue. Sectarian leaders will continue to steal money, receive bribes, and impose their own rule of law in their fiefdoms, while the people will continue to pay the ultimate price.

June 8th, 2009, 4:46 am


offended said:

Mabrook to Lebanese people. Although seeing how sectarianism and dirty saudi money had played in the elections, I’m not sure I’m jealous.

June 8th, 2009, 4:47 am


Majhool said:


Thanks for the note. I opted not to comment on regular basis for obvious reasons.

To be honest, out of all syrians outlests i find all4syria to be the most honset attempt to discuss syrian affairs.

Syria Comment is selective and poised to present and defend only one point of view. All said, it’s good work (professional) and I cannot but admire it and of course read it.

June 8th, 2009, 6:27 am


t_desco said:

Well, I was right. I must be reading the right blogs… 😉

I’m afraid that the ‘civil war option’ is next. Not immediately, mind you, but after some preparatory steps.

One thing was odd in the Haaretz article:

“Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has funneled huge sums to candidates from Hariri’s group to ensure their victory. The timing of the report in the German magazine Der Spiegel about Hezbollah’s involvement in the assassination of Hariri’s father, former prime minister Rafik Hariri, was no coincidence, and the exposure of the “Israeli spy ring” was also meant to play an important part in the campaign.”

Huh? How did the discovery of the spy rings help March 14?

June 8th, 2009, 6:28 am


Off the Wall said:

Dear Norman
On principle, I agree with you 100%. But from a constitutional and legal perspective that would create a major problem in the sense that It would create two classes of citizens. Here in the states, we have the absentee ballots, and as long as one has not relinquished the citizenship, no one can take the full fledged rights of that citizenship.

Now, if for any reason, Syria is to have an election in which expats are asked to participate, I would apply your principle, voluntarily and will not engage in voting or in advocating any political group. I have indicated that last summer in no uncertain terms, and that is why as an American citizen now, who has been voting in American elections i stay away from advocating any political party inside or outside Syria and focus my comments on the role of civil society institutions.

In summary, in principle, I agree with you, but at the same time, I am a constitutionalist who is not willing to accept for others less than full citizenship unless it is abrogated either by their active request, or if the laws of their mother country forbid dual citizenship and they now the risk of losing one when they accept the other.

June 8th, 2009, 7:00 am


Murphy said:

“Israelis who do not have a permanent resident in Israel do not have the right to vote”

Rally? That must mean that the 400,000 or so Israelis who reside in Occupied Palestine are denied the right to vote in Israeli elections, given the fact that they do not have permanent residence in Israel.

Can you confirm that this is the case?

June 8th, 2009, 9:12 am


Kamal said:

In most countries, citizens can vote no matter where in the world they are located. My adopted home of Canada, for example, allows its citizens to vote at embassies around the world.

There are political reasons for the ban on expatriate voting. The fact is that under the 15 years of Syrian Occupation, the most oppressed groups and those who most opposed the Occupation are the ones who emigrated in the largest numbers. The pro-Syrian puppet establishment in Lebanon was not interested in granting any power to this group.

In a country like Lebanon, where a greater number of citizens live outside the country than inside it, it is particularly unjust to ban expatriates from voting. Norman’s comment, that Lebanese abroad must live with the consequences of their actions (i.e. they deserve to be disenfranchised because they left the country) is doubly cruel when you remember that Lebanon went through a terrible civil war and continues to be a battlefield of regional unrest. Newsflash: MOST Lebanese citizens have left the country – almost anybody who was able to, left.

The ban on expatriate voting makes inevitable the phenomenon whereby groups of voters are sponsored to travel to Lebanon for elections. People want to vote! You can’t stop them.

While much of this sponsorship can be pegged as blatant corruption, this description doesn’t always apply. Many communities in Canada pooled resources or raised funds locally in order to help those who can’t afford it to fly to Lebanon. In my own family, whatever family members had the money helped other members of my family to fly in and vote. I found this touching, noble and heartening about the communal spirit of the Lebanese diaspora and its insistence on participating in determining the fate of Lebanon.

The way to eliminate the corrupt aspect of this phenomenon is simple. Lift the ban on expatriate voting! Allow every Lebanese to cast a vote no matter where they are around the world. I hope and expect that the new M14-led government will change this law once and for all.

The result will be a more fair, more democratic, less corrupt electoral system. And the final result will be a Lebanese government that is even more liberal and pro-Western, and more antagonistic to armed sectarian Islamic militias and their foreign backers.

June 9th, 2009, 1:38 am


arthur Stock said:

Alex my friend: Regarding #25 – Nuclear proliferation is the #1 danger to a peaceful world in the next decade, and the most volitle region is the middle east. Given the personalities of certain political leaders we should recognize the temptation of genocide by wmd is almost irresistible in some capitals.
I have posted here multiple times my opinion that Syria has an opportunity to become an important leader in the ME, at least in the Levant. The comments on this site so far this year suggest the government was laying the groundwork for such a role. Then the uranium thing shows up. One step forward, two steps back.

I do not want to comment on Israel’s politics- too sensitive at this time. All of us may have to come to the aid of the peace makers.
The settlors claim the land is theirs by reason of God’s declaration to their ancestors as recorded in the Hebrew Bible. But a further reading discloses Moses’s people did not clear the land of all other peoples and throughout all the history recorded in the Hebrew Bible the Hebrews lived with a large number of other peoples. If the justification for settlements in Palestian territory is biblically based, challenge it with biblical authority. Guns and bombs will not settle it. Therein lies Syria’s opportunity. Look at the great variety of religious traditions in Syria. This is your asset. A united voice making proposals that all could live with will give Syria the regional leadership it desires. Let us not try any longer to deal with problems in the ways of the 20th century. We need more thoughtful approaches consistent with this new century. Regards

June 9th, 2009, 2:48 am


norman said:


Israelis living in the West bank and the Golan are considered citizens and residents of israel,


I did not say that the people who left do not deserve to vote because they left , i am just raising the question about people who are living outside of a country and are residents or citizen of other countries , Do they have the same rights of choosing their representatives while they are not going to live with consequences of their vote, and if we say that all expat can vote , how many generation we should go for , how about Sunnono , or Darrell Isa, how many generation ?, tell me how you can confirm their citizenship,

June 9th, 2009, 3:15 am


jad said:

What you wrote about Canadian can vote while they are outside Canada is not true; In Canada, citizens who are living abroad at the time of a Canadian election can only vote if they meet certain criteria, by Canadian law, to be eligible to vote, the applicant must have resided in Canada and has been residing outside of Canada for fewer than five years and also must have the stated intention of returning to Canada to reside in the future.


This is not the case of the United States though.

Norman, and that is my take! 😉

June 9th, 2009, 6:14 am


Alex said:


It is widely believed that Syria supposedly has hundreds or thousands of chemical bombs… had them for decades. If Syria was foolish enough to use nuclear weapons (that some people want to believe that it is planning to develop one day), it would have used Chemical weapons already.

The “traces of Uranium” news is not worth discussing… except if we give enough time to discussing Israel’s hundreds of existing nuclear weapons.

The only value in that story is a tool for applying pressure on Syria.

June 9th, 2009, 6:34 am


jad said:

Back to some Syrian subjects:

Please check the new articles posted on Nesa Souria, there are many excellent views to read.


June 9th, 2009, 6:56 am


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