Lebanon Becoming - Syria Comment

Lebanon Becoming

By Qifa Nabki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is tempting to regard the political stalemate that has gripped Lebanon for the past seventeen months – with all of its futile spats and squabbles, accusations and recriminations – as yet another example of the mundane and self-destructive charade of Lebanese democracy. The level of discourse among the political elite has fallen so low that it is often scarcely distinguishable from the sloganeering of propagandists and the taunts of schoolyard bullies.

However, what is often lost in the day-to-day analysis of Lebanon’s current despair and hopelessness, is the extent to which its paralysis stems, paradoxically, from two moments of staggering hopefulness. Beneath the surface clutter of parliamentary sessions postponed, foreign sponsors maligned, and electoral laws rejected, lie two emotional currents of deep nationalist aspiration, two currents which flow beneath the landscape of Lebanese politics like parallel subterranean rivers, welling up and intersecting at various points, then diverging once again and disappearing from sight.

I am speaking, of course, of the two monumental events which precipitated the current conflict, namely the “Cedar Revolution” of March 2005 and the “Divine Victory” of July 2006. Given that we now stand at a juncture, where Lebanon’s leaders can choose to lead the country towards reconciliation or further strife, I find it necessary to recall the place of these events in the contemporary national consciousness. In many ways, these two episodes were twin revolutions, remarkably similar to each other in their structural outlines and emotional resonance. They each represented a defining moment for a sizable portion of the Lebanese population, in which a dense set of accumulated resentments, anxieties, and righteous anger was focused upon a single historical injustice, and then exorcised – successfully – through a shocking and sublime victory. These twin revolutions made visible, for many Lebanese, a political reality previously unimaginable in Lebanon, a reality in which ordinary citizens were the masters of their own fate, where the dominance of foreign powers could be resisted successfully, and where national unity was not a purely hypothetical construct.

For the hundreds of thousands of people who would come together under the March 14 banner, the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri was a great crime, not against one sect but against the nation as a whole. The huge “Independence 05” rallies displayed an unprecedented degree of national unity: people from all walks of life, all social classes, all regions, and all sects gathered together in Beirut’s central district to protest the targeting of Lebanon. The withdrawal of the Syrian army in subsequent months seemed to validate the feelings of anger and betrayal by the aggrieved Lebanese, and the string of assassinations which followed over the next two years only seemed to feature as aftershocks of the seismic event which redefined the struggle for Lebanese sovereignty and independence. Having yoked their hopes and aspirations to the idyllic prospect of a new national beginning in Lebanon free of foreign tutelage, these citizens could not bear to see their gains dashed by what they perceived to be Syria's attempt to bring Lebanon under its wing, once again.

Similarly, the outcome of the July War of 2006, for many hundreds of thousands of people within Lebanon, marked nothing less than the beginning of a new age, an end to decades of unanswered aggressions by Israel and centuries of maltreatment and persecution by co-nationalists. The inability of Israel’s army to end the rain of Hizbullah rockets on Israeli cities, coupled with the humiliating losses of its once-invincible soldiers in the field, signaled to many that a threshold had been crossed, and that the regional power dynamics had shifted to the favor of the Arabs for the first time since the birth of Israel. The stars were aligned: a leader had emerged who could finally defend his people from the aggressions of their arch-enemy, a leader possessed of a populist’s voice, a patrician’s dignity, and a genius for political and military strategy. The story of the poor grocer’s son who became an international hero led to a single inescapable conclusion: nomen est omen.

The twin revolutions of modern Lebanese history are, in a way, a single revolution played out twice. The structural similarities are many: on the regional level, both events were epoch-making, changing the regional dynamics in truly remarkable and unexpected ways. They both represented “firsts”: the Cedar Revolution being the first spontaneous mass popular protest in the Middle East, which resulted in a palpable and significant political change; the Divine Victory being the first truly effective resistance and repulsion of a full Israeli military assault on an Arab country. Both events captured the attention and imagination of the outside world, and attracted a high degree of foreign “assistance” (in the form of weapons, financial support, media coverage, etc.) meant to consolidate the decisive changes wrought by the outcome of each revolution. Lebanon suddenly became, once again, the embodiment of great promise and great risk, to all concerned with the future of the Middle East.

The similarities between the twin revolutions on the local Lebanese stage are no less striking. Both events functioned as a kind of national catharsis for different sectors of the Lebanese population. Each episode gave its participants a taste of an exceedingly rare commodity in Middle Eastern societies: self-determination. To experience one event of such great life-affirmation in today’s Middle East is remarkably rare indeed; to experience two in the space of eighteen months is unprecedented, and, given the nature of the events in question, also highly traumatic.

Traumatic because the partisans of both sides have been hamstrung by the enormity of these two victories. While the conflict has veered off along different lines and directions, and politicians have sought to exploit cheaply both events for political gain (disgracing them both and dulling their luster), I believe that the emotional contours of Lebanon’s current crisis are still defined by these twin historical moments. And this is ultimately what is so sadly ironic about the political paralysis in Lebanon today: these two events, each possessing tremendous unifying potential, have been used to cancel each other out.

A solution, if and when it emerges, will likely take the shape of a transitional government headed by General Michel Suleiman. The challenges that await this man are monumental. Beyond the inevitable feuding that will continue on the subjects of the electoral law, ministerial portfolios, and the economic situation, Suleiman will have to find a way to reconcile the Lebanese people to each other, and not just their sectarian leaders. I believe that this will be possible only by paying homage to the significance of both ‘victories’ at the root of this conflict, showing how they represent a single unifying national reality, rather than two polarizing ones. The next Lebanese president will lead a country that is beginning to understand the meaning of true self-determination. However, he will have to convince its people that achieving independence of a more lasting nature will require the energies of a unified populace.

Comments (107)


ghat Albird said:

Qifa Nabki.

Must be commended and congratulated for his temperate, affirmative and confidant treatise.

Excellent foundation to build on.

Best wishes.

May 12th, 2008, 8:10 pm

 

Naji said:

QN,

Glad to see that all the sulking and grumpiness has finally produced such a wonderful treatise…! Good work… keep it up… it will be much needed…!!

We’ll discuss the details later… 😉

P.S. Great cartoon/illustration too…!

May 12th, 2008, 8:20 pm

 

Joshua said:

Qifa Nabki,

Beautifully put. I hope this is read widely.

May 12th, 2008, 8:36 pm

 

Naji said:

QN,

Btw, that is why I was always hopeful about and advocating the FPM-HA alliance of the two protagonists of exactly that “twin revolution”… liberating Lebanon of all colors of external hegemony and interference, with each side paying its dues in full and not owing the other any favors, and most importantly, each side having grown to to respect and TRUST the other with its life…! All the others are either followers, hangers-on, or opportunists…! The Sunnis are lost at the moment, but they’ll find their niche… they always do…

You will need to “step outside” little to realize that you are completely mistaken on “And this is ultimately what is so sadly ironic about the political paralysis in Lebanon today: these two events, each possessing tremendous unifying potential, have been used to cancel each other out.”… They have NOT been used to cancel each other out, and they have NOT cancelled each other out…! On the contrary, they have reinforced each other, you’ll be glad to discover…!

A beautiful essay though…

May 12th, 2008, 8:49 pm

 

CuriousCanadian said:

I have been following this blog for some time always resisting the urge to jump in and comment mostly because I’m neither Muslim or a ME and although having an good grounding in history wouldn’t presume to offer opinions from far away North America to those on the ground where it is all happening. QN’s analysis has finally convinced me to try and contribute.
I agree that the Cedar Revolution was a seminal event in the modern history of Lebanon however I doubt that the expulsion of the Syrian army could have been accomplished without the moral outrage of the west specifically the much maligned US and the Europeans. Please don’t confuse ordinary Americans with the policies of their government. Unlike most ME countries they have the opportunity to change their gov’t and its’ policies. I hope that the architect of the “Divine Victory” has studied some modern civics between sessions reading the Qur’an in Tehran.
I also hope that QN is right.
Great analysis.

May 12th, 2008, 8:53 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Qifa Nabki enlightens us in this superb and brillianty selctive account of events:

“I am speaking, of course, of the two monumental events which precipitated the current conflict, namely the “Cedar Revolution” of March 2005 and the “Divine Victory” of July 2006. Given that we now stand at a juncture, where Lebanon’s leaders can choose to lead the country towards reconciliation or further strife”

So, now we know.

And stupid me thought that the war in Iraq, the adoption of UNSC 1559 and then the assasniation of Rafiq al Harriri were responsible for getting Lebanon to where it is now.

Stupid me also was under the impression that the TWO Decisions taken by the Sniora governmet recently “precepitated” the current turmoil.

And I spose that we should condemn Hizbullah for achieving the “Divine Victory”. Hey, Sayed Hassan Nassrallah, please and for the sake of all make sure that you lose the next war with Israel. And despite the Israelies addmission that the July war was planned months in advance, still, Sayed Hassan, please do not fight back even if Israel attacked Lebanon again.

The Bush Agenda of course did not precipitate anything. Did it?

I hope there will be a PART II to Qifa Nabki’s article. It is so factual, well-thought and highly reflective and explainatory of the historical sequence of events in modern day Lebanon. A must read for anyone who wants to see Lebanon…
……

……through the eyes of Qifa Nabki!

But a definite A+ for Effort and Elequence for sure.

May 12th, 2008, 9:00 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ghat Albird & Joshua, thanks.

Naji,

Thanks to you as well. I agree with you that they haven’t canceled each other out… yet. Let’s hope for the best.

May 12th, 2008, 9:31 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Consistant to the bones; even the Thanks are “selective”!!

May 12th, 2008, 9:39 pm

 

kingcrane jr said:

La ghaleb wa la maghloub?

Not this time around. Sanyura and other treators have crossed some red lines, red lines whose importance is lost on them, because of their ignorance.

This reminds me of a March 14 idiot who said: “well, we liberated Lebanon fron Syria and you liberated Lebanon from the neighbour to the South; let us now build a new Lebanon together” to which the March 8+ analyst replied: “no, you were lapdogs to the Mukhabarat for many years while we were suffering, and we will never trust you, not the least because you thought, or were misguided to think, that you achieved success against Syria”
The real picture? Read the (full of typographical errors) articles by Franklin Lamb on Counterpunch, and Rannie Amiri’s brilliant analysis on the same site; also read Justin R’s article on AntiWar.com

My prediction: Unless some restraint is shown by a man who can control the “crazies” we will have an attack on an Iranian-related target around the dates of the DNCC in August 2008.

May 12th, 2008, 9:43 pm

 

ausamaa said:

This is from arabtimes.com

Interesting!!

استباقا لما سيكشف عنه رئيس مخابراته من معلومات … جنبلاط يناشد حسن
نصرالله شخصيا حماية بني معروف

عرب تايمز – خاص

طلب وليد جنبلاط عبر محطة ال بي سي التلفزيونية حسن نصرالله حماية بني معروف – دروز الجبل المؤيدين لجنبلاط – وان لا يجعل الطائفة الدرزية تدفع ثمن “ثأر شخصي” عليه بعد احتدام المعارك في منطقة الجبل وعدم التقيد بوقف اطلاق النار وقال جنبلاط وهو في حالة ذهول وارهاق :اتوجه برسالة الى السيد حسن نصر الله اذا كان له ثأر شخصي في مكان ما ضد جنبلاط لا مشكلة، إلا اننا نتمنى ان نتساعد بناء على التفويض الذي اعطيته للأمير طلال ارسلان لئلا يحصل اعتداء على بني معروف في الجبل”. ودعا الأمين العام لحزب الله الى “ان يفصل بين شعوره الشخصي تجاهي وان يحترم شعور بني معروف في الجبل” إلا ان جنبلاط اتصل بعد دقائق من إدلائه بهذا الحديث بقناة “ال.بي.سي” ليوضح “كي لا يفهم كلامي على غير محمله” ان ما قصده ب “الثأر الشخصي” هو “الخلاف السياسي” بين حزب الله والحزب الاشتراكي الذي يتزعمه

مصادر صحفية في بيروت ذكرت ان مناشدة جنبلاط تحاول استباق ما سيكشف عنه رئيس مخابراته الذي استسلم لحزب الله والذي – وفقا لما تردد – سيظهر قريبا على شاشة تلفزيون المنار التابعة لحزب الله ليدلي باعترافات خطيرة عن علاقة جنبلاط ومروان حمادة باسرائيل وحرب تموز وبعض اجهة المخابرات العربية ووفقا لما تسرب من غرف التحقيق فان رئيس مخابرات جنبلاط سيكشف عن علاقة جنبلاط باغتيال سمير قصير

May 12th, 2008, 9:47 pm

 

kingcrane jr said:

I was just looking at how selective the mainstream media can be:
Many Palestinians killed by the occupation Forces in Gaza: not worth much.
A single citizen from the Occupying entity killed by fire: frontline treatment.
I am personally against any civilian targets, and against any collateral damage explanation, but there is a double standard in the media.
Worse: “Al ‘Arabiya” (which should be called “Al Jarabiya”) is trying to foment trouble in Lebanon; anything goes, including starting a civil war between Sunna and Shi’a, in order to preserve the government of the traitor Sanyura.

May 12th, 2008, 9:50 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

KingCrane Jr.

For the record, my position is not one of “la ghalib wa la maghlub”. That is a recipe for continued political mediocrity. The heads should roll in the arena of free elections.

Let the people decide which red lines were crossed.

But the smart money will be on those who try to move the country towards reconciliation, in my opinion. There is no question that the current opposition will have a head start in this regard, given the rhetorical prowess of Sayyed Hasan, the strong across-the-aisle credentials of Berri, and the Aoun’s MOU with the Hizb.

We’ll have to see.

May 12th, 2008, 9:52 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,

“the Divine Victory being the first truly effective resistance and repulsion of a full Israeli military assault on an Arab country”

This is just not true. There was no full assault on Lebanon.
The reserves were not even called at the beginning of the war and only air and special forces were used.

And the fact is, most Lebanese were awaken to the danger of an armed Hizballah following the 2006 war. Most Lebanese view it as a war in which Nasrallah miscalculated.

May 12th, 2008, 9:56 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
“And this is ultimately what is so sadly ironic about the political paralysis in Lebanon today: these two events, each possessing tremendous unifying potential, have been used to cancel each other out.”

I don’t agree, the two events did not have unifying potential. Hizballah staged the March 8 demonstrations because they could never be happy with the Syrians leaving. The 2006 war did not have any unifying potential because it proved to many Lebanese that Hizballah on its own, without consulting other Lebanese, could take Lebanon into a devastating war. The events just showed that in reality there were two incompatible Lebanons, the Lebanon of the “resistance” and the Lebanon of the “West”. Unity was never in the cards.

May 12th, 2008, 10:06 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Actually, IT IS not TRUE!

Because the first big defeat for Israel at the hands of Hizbullah occured in May 2000 when Barak pulled the “unvictorious” IDF out of Lebanon during the dark hours of the night.

May 12th, 2008, 10:06 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG

Ok, then it was “the first truly effective resistance and repulsion of a partial Israeli military assault on an Arab country”

🙂

As for your second point, it is impossible to know what proportion of the Lebanese were awakened to the danger of an armed Hizbullah. Polls immediately following the war gave the party extremely high ratings. They predictably dropped off in later months, but it is impossible to say by how much.

Also, the fact of a “miscalculation” doesn’t really make a difference, I believe, to the sentiments held about the war. Nasrallah himself admitted that they did anticipate the level of the response, and that he would not have carried out the operation if he knew what the cost would be. His admission of this fact did not change the feelings of people toward HA’s accomplishment during that war.

May 12th, 2008, 10:08 pm

 

SHAMI said:

http://www.daylife.com/search/photos/all/4?q=lebanon

some pictures of the last events of Lebanon.

May 12th, 2008, 10:10 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,

You cannot deny that after 2006 most people understood that you could not build a thriving Lebanon if every few years Hizballah would take it into war with Israel. Therein lies the contradiction that cannot be bridged. You cannot “resist” and thrive at the same time. That is why the Syrians use Lebanon for resistance and do not resist themselves.

You cannot have both “resistance” and a thriving economy at the same time, and there is no way to reconcile the two. And this issue is at the heart of Lebanese unity and the two events just expounded it instead of helped move towards unity.

May 12th, 2008, 10:33 pm

 

Naji said:

QN,

You may want to explain to your little Israeli nuisance that Israel (which I called a Super Lebanon before, perish the thought!) has managed to thrive on its “resistance” for more than 60 years now… ! Or is it that only a criminal “resistance” is compatible with a thriving economy…?!

On second thought, don’t bother…

May 12th, 2008, 10:54 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
Hizballah are resisting Israel, the US and in general the West. In our world if you want a thriving economy, you do not resist the US and the West, you trade with them, you are happy when they invest in you etc.

Israel had a huge advantage of working with the US and Europe while the Arab countries worked with the USSR. That really hurt the Arab economies. Hizballah is repeating the same mistake, working with Iran instead of with the US and Europe.

It is a fact of life, you cannot have both, a thriving economy and being an enemy of the US and Europe. Therefore, Lebanon (as well as Syria) has to choose one or the other.

May 12th, 2008, 11:04 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

Has the Constitution been amended yet to allow Suleiman to take power?

May 12th, 2008, 11:12 pm

 

abraham said:

The “original sin” of March 14 was to align itself with external Western forces that were in turn aligned with Israel or were pro-Israel in sentiment.

If March 14 had sought to normalize Hizballah’s militia and fully bring them into the political fold as a group free from foreign interference I think Hizballah would’ve been on shaky ground if they refused. As it is, March 14 was receiving and welcoming support from those countries that were trying to impugn Syria as the perpetrators of the Hariri assassination and thus their agenda cannot be considered untainted by external influences. The 2005 “revolution” could have had lasting meaning if the leaders of all the factions had eschewed foreign influences. The opposite is true.

I just thought I’d add that little but of background to this otherwise fine essay.

May 12th, 2008, 11:47 pm

 

why-discuss said:

QN

I disagree with you in putting side by side the so called “Cedar Revolution” and the 2006 war that ended by the Israeli defeat.
They are of a totally different magnitude in their consequences in Lebanon and in the region.
In my eyes the “cedar revolution” was an organized and well PR’ed
psychodrama for many lebanese who have resented for years the fact that they were saved from extinction and ruled by a country they despise. It was also an attempt to bring to a closure the traumas of the brutal civil war. The blood of Hariri became the redemption of all the crimes committed during the civil war by the same leaders who are now claiming a new beginning.
The role of the executionners being attributed without real proofs to the syrians, the lebanese thought they were reborn again, innocent and free. It was a total illusion, and of course, what happened after shows clearly that the ghosts of the civil war, the corruption and the absence of a real closure are still haunting Lebanon.
The fact that the western media picked on it and emphasized it as a
‘revolution’ gave it some aura, but like a balloon…

The other event, the war of 2006, is certainly of a much higher political value that the Cedar Revolution psychodrama. It was real and effective. No fuzzy promises, no scapegoats. It changed the whole perspective on the Resistance, it created a movement in the arab world, shaking the apathetic rulers, who claim their rejection of Israel and the US hegemony and do nothing about it.
When you put these 2 events side to side, you are dishonest as you are trying to give the “cedar revolution” an importance time has shown it does not have and never had.
You can write an essay with elaborated grammar and vocabulary, you are not convincing me at all, in the contrary I feel you are simply manipulative.
Until Lebanese come to terms with their past, and effectively apologize to each other of the crimes they, their father or their brothers committed, until they will seek pardon from each other, it will be impossible for this country to move forward. Lebanon cannot be reborn unless there is a real reconciliation, official, emotional, humble. Is that ever possible?

May 12th, 2008, 11:48 pm

 

abraham said:

CuriousCanadian, why do you presume to speak for “ordinary Americans”?

Also, the West wasn’t very much outraged over Syria’s involvement in Lebanon because they didn’t know anything about it until the American government pointed at it as a useful distraction for its own failing strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan. What most Westerners (i.e. Americans really, since most in Europe are far more informed than any ordinary Americans) didn’t know is that it was Syria that finally stablized the country after 15 years of civil war. I’ll bet money that most Americans can’t even point out on a map where either Syria or Lebanon is. And I’ll bet if you told them where one was they still wouldn’t be able to find the other. The assassination of Hariri would’ve been a non-issue if he wasn’t Chirac’s personal friend.

Whether it was Syria or America or Israel or Al Qaida or whoever that killed him, we know for certain that the neocons took advantage of the aftermath and the result was the “Cedar Revolution”, which was just another one of those CIA “color-coded” revolutions going on all over the world that have all subsequently ended in total failure. The “Rose” Revolution in Georgia, the “Orange” revolution in Ukraine, and now the “Cedar” revolution in Lebanon has culminated in utter disaster.

If the Lebanese had been left to themselves without foreign influence they would have reached equilibrium. Instead, the West meddles and once again chaos reigns.

May 12th, 2008, 11:59 pm

 

Naji said:

Let any of us who thinks he knows what is going on in Lebanon, and feels ready to pontificate on the civic development exercise the Lebanese are fumbling through, be humbled a little and defer to those actually living in Lebanon at present…, for they apparently know what is going on…!! Check out this brilliant article…:

الدولة والدويلة
خالد صاغيّة
http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/73337

لنضع سوء النيّات جانباً. برّرت الحكومة إصدارها القرارين اللذين رأى حزب اللّه أنّهما تهديد لسلاحه، بأنّها كانت تبغي من خلالهما «بناء الدولة». وبعد ردّ الفعل المسلّح الذي قام به حزب اللّه وحلفاؤه، رأى أحد أركان السلطة أنّه ربّما جرى بعض التسرّع في إصدار القرارين، وأنّ عمليّة بناء الدولة تدريجيّة، ولم يحن الأوان بعد لخطوات من النوع الذي اتّخذته الحكومة. أمّا رئيس الحكومة، فلم يجد غير شعار «لا تراجع عن بناء الدولة»، للدفاع عن موقفه.
ليس الأمر متعلّقاً بالتوقيت وحسب. لقد دأبت السلطة في لبنان على تصوير الصراع الجاري منذ ثلاث سنوات على أنّه صراع بين «الدولة» و«دويلة حزب الله داخل الدولة»، وأنّ تحالف فريق 14 آذار يخوض معركة بناء الدولة على حساب الدويلة، فيما تقوم المعارضة بالمشروع المعاكس. وراحت السلطة تردّد عبارات من نوع احتكار العنف، والدولة المدنيّة، والقوانين والمؤسّسات… وهي تظنّ أنّ استخدامها لهذه المصطلحات يحسم المعركة «الأخلاقيّة» سلفاً لمصلحتها. فمن تراه ذاك الذي يدعم دويلة في وجه الدولة الحامية والحاضنة للجميع؟
غالباً ما كانت المعارضة تردّ على هذا الادّعاء بالتشكيك في نيّات الفريق الحاكم، وبنبش تاريخ قياداته للتدليل على أنّ هذا الطاقم المكوّن من مجموعة من أمراء الحرب السابقين والمضاربين العقاريّين (قتلة ولصوص وفق تعبير للسيّد حسن نصر اللّه) ليس من النوع الذي يمكنه حمل مشروع بناء دولة. ويحمل مطلب المشاركة في طيّاته ادّعاء أنّ أسس دولة قادرة وعادلة (ومقاوِمة) يضعها شخص كميشال عون، لا كفؤاد السنيورة مثلاً.
قد تكون ممارسة الحكم مختلفة بين من هم في الموالاة ومن هم في المعارضة. لكنّ الدولة التي يطرحها السنيورة لا تختلف في الجوهر عن دولة ميشال عون. كلاهما يتحدّث عن بناء الدولة كما لو أنّ ثمةّ نموذجاً جاهزاً لهذا البنيان، وكلاهما يتخيّل أمراً شبيهاً بما عرفته الدول الأوروبية الحديثة. لكنّ الواقع يدحض إمكان هذا النوع من «الدولة» في لبنان، لا بل إنّ هذا النموذج المستخدم في السجال السياسي ليس الأكثر انتشاراً في العالم أصلاً.
لا يمكن الخروج من المأزق الحالي إلا عبر التخلّي عن تخيّل هذا النموذج الجاهز، والانطلاق من خصوصيّات الوضع اللبناني لدى الحديث عن أيّ دولة نريد، وإلا فسيتحوّل مشروع «بناء الدولة»، سواء أكان رافعو رايته صادقين أو لا، إلى مشروع تدمير المجتمع والسلم الأهلي. ونجد في الحماسة البالغة لدى رئيس الحكومة في أداء الجيش دوراً مختلفاً في المعارك الدائرة، مثالاً على ذلك.
ليس هذا الواقع فريداً. فعلى عكس ما قد يتصوّره البعض، كثيراً ما انطلقت دورات العنف في العالم من خطاب «تحديثي» تبسيطي يحاول فرض نماذج متخيّلة على واقع شديد التعقيد، أو تفكيك بنى اجتماعيّة راسخة بمرسوم وزاري تنفّذه حملة عسكريّة رسميّة. فكيف إذا تعلّق الأمر ببلد كلبنان كاد مطلب الزواج المدني الاختياري يشعل فيه حرباً أهليّة؟

عدد الثلاثاء ١٣ أيار ٢٠٠٨

And that includes you, QN.. 😉

May 13th, 2008, 12:02 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG,

You are painting a picture of a Lebanon divided between bloodthirsty anti-civilizational barbarians with machetes between their teeth (i.e. supporters of Hizbullah) on the one hand, and urbane, sophisticated, well-coiffed cosmopolitans (i.e. opponents of Hizbullah) on the other. This is not the reality in Lebanon.

Plenty of people who support Hizbullah in Lebanon are active producers, employers, entrepreneurs, industrialists, etc. in the Lebanese economy. They understand perfectly well that a war every few years is not conducive to a thriving economy. However, they regard Israel as a predatory enemy, and as such are committed — morally and emotionally — to supporting Hizbullah’s role as a legitimate national defense against Israel until such time as a peace deal is struck.

May 13th, 2008, 12:02 am

 

abraham said:

QN said:

Ok, then it was “the first truly effective resistance and repulsion of a partial Israeli military assault on an Arab country”

Bullcrap. Israel did call up its reserves. Just because they didn’t at the beginning is meaningless. AIG still doesn’t want to accept the defeat. He is in a perpetual state of denial (about everything). And yet you let him cow you so easily into editing yourself. Interesting.

May 13th, 2008, 12:07 am

 

Jason said:

QN,

Very articulate. However, although these two monumental events are of great importance to Lebanon, I feel the true root cause to the current crisis is the sectarian political system where political representation is disfunctional, and that these two events only open an existing, historical wound. This may seem trivial, but until the minority is represented as such and the majority is given its peace of the political pie, the country’s fate will revolve around the restraint of coalition leaders and elite, or lack thereof. This, it may seem, is a truism, but some fail to recognize, as I feel, the true root cause of the current conflict is not a reflection of modern popular movements, but rather a reflection of the political system set up by the French to preserve a Maronite majority. The demographics of Lebanon have changed to the extent that an opposition, be it led by an armed Hezbollah, or an unarmed alternative, cannot be ignored. As a recent Carnegie publication argued, the US and the Lebanese government must recognize that the solution to the current crisis will, inevitably, end with a strong Syrian influence and an armed Hezbollah. This is, I feel, the reality.

May 13th, 2008, 12:12 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Abraham,

I was humoring AIG on that point because it was a silly criticism.

😉

Naji, great piece, very perceptive.

May 13th, 2008, 12:21 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Qifa Nabka

Plenty of people who support Hizbullah in Lebanon are active producers, employers, entrepreneurs, industrialists, etc. in the Lebanese economy. They understand perfectly well that a war every few years is not conducive to a thriving economy. However, they regard Israel as a predatory enemy, and as such are committed — morally and emotionally — to supporting Hizbullah’s role as a legitimate national defense against Israel until such time as a peace deal is struck.

What about Hizbullah’s role as legitimate national stalwart for thuggery, war, and sharia? Do the Lebanese have these concerns too?

May 13th, 2008, 12:35 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Why-Discuss,

The point I was trying to make is that people look at these two events in radically different ways. For you, the Cedar Revolution was a PR job and had no real significance whatsoever. For others, the Divine Victory was a catastrophe for Lebanon, cynically exploited by Hizbullah for political gain.

No matter how much you try, you will not convince a staunch M14er that March 14th 2005 meant nothing, just as he will not convince you that the July War was not a great victory. He will say: “What did it achieve? Is Israel any weaker? No. Who lost more from the conflict? We did. How did it change the reality on the ground? It didn’t.”

I agree with you that Lebanon is still haunted by the ghosts of the civil war, and that we suffer from the continued presence of corrupt figures and warlords among our political elite. However, just because these people exploited the events of February and March 2005 for political gain, does not mean that a profound change did not occur in the minds of many hundreds of thousands of Lebanese as a result of those huge demonstrations. It may have been a corrupt politician who was assassinated, and another corrupt politician who took his place, but the people came together to protest this crime, and achieved a real degree of unity in doing so. As brief as it may have been, it was still very significant.

As for your criticism of my writing style, what can I say? Next time, I will try to use less elaborate vocabulary. Maybe you will find me more convincing.

😉

PS: Nur, the Constitution has not yet been amended. Presumably, once a political settlement is reached, there will be one legislative session held in which three items are voted in: (1) Amendment of Constitution; (2) Election of Suleiman; (3) Adoption of the 1960 election law (or Boutros, or whatever).

May 13th, 2008, 12:39 am

 

Nour said:

I just saw videos of some of the footages of the Halba massacre, and I won’t post the link here because they’re too disturbing. But let me just say this. Hariri is wholly responsible for this. For three years he has been doing nothing but feeding his people hatred and more hatred. When people reach the point of this type of savage behavior, they have crossed all lines of normal human behavior, and this can only be result of the deep hatred instilled in them by Hariri and his paid up clerics. It is absolutely horrific to see this images, and I can’t but hold Hariri personally responsible for that. In a fair and just system Hariri would be tried and imprisoned for his crimes against the country. May these people rest in peace and God help their families; I really hope to God they don’t see these videos.

May 13th, 2008, 1:09 am

 

why-discuss said:

Nour, I would add Jumblatt, the machiavel, who has not stopped insulting, provoking, humiliating, ironizing on the Resistane and its leaders, thus throwing oil on fire and salt on wounds and generating more and more hatred, arrogance and cynicism in the Lebanese. All this is well served by the US-applauded media freedom of expression of which lebanese are so proud!
I guess I prefer a censorship to that flow of obscenity and instigation to hatred that these leaders are throwing on the air and in the newspaper on a daily basis. Then they are surprised of the violent and bloody reactions!

May 13th, 2008, 1:25 am

 

Oliver MacDous said:

I hope QN is right, but I am afraid that the leaders will prove that they are willing to cut their noses despite their faces. Once it became clear that the HA was not going to go after the physical persons themselves, they started to outdo each other about the legitimacy of the use of weapons and the need for the army to put the situation back in order.

The army has sided even if ever so slightly towards HA for many of the officers are true nationalists without significant sectarian agenda. This army was forged by the repeated Israeli aggressions and takes pride in protecting the resistance that defeated Israel.

Most commentators agree that all the players are now trying to catch up with the HA as it has moved into the political arena and will use the Arab League delegation visit to press that the current government stop relying on outside forces.

Once this is done, the negotiations can start again and in this the entire agenda is on the table including the electoral law, the blocking third of the ministers, the sanctity of the weapons of HA, and then further discussions will take place on the role of the UNIFIL and other aspects.

Even Syria in my opinion is now somewhat hostage to the gains made on the ground by HA in Lebanon.

Nasrallah once again has proven that the traditional leaders of the Arab world are worthless. This vacuum will be filled by Salafis and I predict that the house of Saud will find itself ever more marginalized in this adventure.

For the life of me I cannot understand why the axis of moderation keeps following the blundering directives of their patrons.

May 13th, 2008, 1:29 am

 

Nour said:

Why-Discuss,

I agree and I definitely have Jumblatt high on the list of Lebanese criminals. He is also one of the main instigators of sectarian hatred the last three years. The only reason I singled out Hariri here is because this incident involved his FM militia. Hariri had been employing clerics to fill the minds of these young men with hatred on a daily basis. Only such deeply engrained hatred can possibly lead to such savagery.

May 13th, 2008, 1:52 am

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Annahar Newspaper:
http://www.annahar.com/content.php?priority=2&table=main&type=main&day=Tue

مصر: شبكة “حزب الله” كانت ستستخدم لاغتيال جنبلاط ؟

القاهرة – و ص ف – كشف وزير المجالس النيابية والشؤون القانونية المصري مفيد شهاب أن السنيورة قدم عند زيارته للقاهرة في نيسان الماضي الى وزارة الخارجية المصرية “خرائط تبين أن شبكة اتصالات حزب الله تهدد الحكومة اللبنانية”.
ونقلت عنه صحيفة “البديل” أن “رئيس الحزب التقدمي الإشتراكي وليد جنبلاط كان مقرراً أن يزور القاهرة للقاء رئيس المخابرات المصرية اللواء عمر سليمان إلا أنه ألغى زيارته بعدما وردت معلومات عن مخطط لاغتياله في مطار بيروت باستخدام شبكة اتصالات الحزب”.
ونسبت اليه صحيفة “الأخبار” أن “مصر ترفض بشدة أسلوب العنف لأنه لا يجوز أن تصبح القاعدة هي أن من يملك السلاح يفرض سيطرته ووجهة نظره على الأكثرية”.

May 13th, 2008, 2:20 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Oliver/Observer

What do you mean by this statement?

Even Syria in my opinion is now somewhat hostage to the gains made on the ground by HA in Lebanon.

I am curious.

May 13th, 2008, 2:34 am

 

norman said:

QN ,

Good job my son , I doubt that M14 people will try to reach a compromise I think they will continue to follow the West and KSA advice and seek confrontation , The solution is Marshal law and emergency government putting up a new election law and election then new constitution with no set a side or quotas.

May 13th, 2008, 2:36 am

 

Nour said:

THEOTHERPOINTOFVIEW:

That is the biggest piece of nonsense I have ever ecountered. HA was going to use its fiberoptic cables to assassinate Jumblatt? How is that exactly? This is part of M14 media’s campaign of inciting hatred.

May 13th, 2008, 2:38 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ya Ammo Norman & Oliver/Observer,

Amin Gemayel has now echoed the earlier refrains of others like Berri and Hariri, that a political settlement is “99% there.” There is agreement on the presidential candidate, there is agreement on the electoral law (it looks like 1960 with some amendments), and there is general agreement on a transitional government of technocrats.

A new president will mean a new cabinet, and Saniora will probably not lead it. My guess is Mikati or Hoss, depending on the power plays of the next couple of weeks.

We do not know what the new alignments will be. Copy-editors at various Lebanese newspapers will have a hell of a time striking out the use of obselete labels like “opposition” and “majority” as the political boundaries morph and take new shapes. Survival is the primary political virtue in Lebanon. They will all find ways to soldier on, even Jumblatt.

May 13th, 2008, 2:43 am

 

norman said:

QN,

Remember what i told you previously ( MANIC DEPRESIVE ) , They are in a depressive state , but when they get some push they will move to the manic state.

May 13th, 2008, 2:59 am

 

jo6pac said:

abraham said:

Thanks Abraham this needed to be said and it’s true 90% couldn’t tell you anything about any part of the world outside of the small they live in.
jo6pac

May 13th, 2008, 3:33 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
Come on, that not what I am saying. Of course there are many productive members of society that support Hizballah. I am not making a “war of civilizations argument”.

I am making a simple observation that there is not middle ground between the views of many Lebanese and those of Hizballah the party (not its many supporters).

For example take two simple questions. Should Lebanon negotiate for Shebba or should Sheba be freed by force? Should Hizballah try to capture additional Israeli soldiers for negotiation purposes?

I believe most Lebanese would want to negotiate for Sheba and not confront Israel militarily. But, if this option is taken off the table for Hizballah, what use is Hizballah for Syria and Iran? It does not threaten Israel anymore and is only a force that would react if Israel invades Lebanon. But that is not what Syria and Iran want. They want to cause Israel trouble and view Hizballah as a tool for that.

So for example, what would be the position of the government you forsee on Sheba farms? Will most Lebanese accept that it will be something mushy that will let Hizballah plunge Lebanon again into war? Or, will Hizballah accept that any decision regarding war will be made by the government? Is there a middle ground possible? I don’t think so. You are either clear about this issue or not. Is Lebanon for “resistance” or not?

May 13th, 2008, 3:46 am

 

why-discuss said:

An article in the l’Orient from Scarlett Haddad, who has always been fair to Hezbollah, say that after talking on the phone with Condoleeza Rice, Siniora and his gang have decided to stay on their decisions to fire Shoucair and eliminate Hezbollah network until the Arab league shows up. The usual carrousel…
The infamous Condie probably told them to wait until the arab league comes to quiet the Hezbollah and they will be able to stay on their course of disarming Hezbollah with the full support of the US.
It looks we are in for another escalation.

May 13th, 2008, 3:54 am

 

Alex said:

Qifa Nabki …

I don’t care what point you were trying to make… but there is one thing we Syrian readers here need to tell you …

May 13th, 2008, 7:33 am

 

Naji said:

الزلزال يهز الجبال ؟؟؟؟
اللواء عصام ابو جمرة
http://www.tayyar.org/Tayyar/News/PoliticalNews/ar-LB/128550972221002148.htm#

سقطت بيروت والحريري عسكريا ؟
سقط الجبل وجنبلاط عسكريا ،
وبقي السنيورة متربعا في السراي ؟
بانتظار ماذا ؟
* قدوم لجنة وزارية عربية من جامعة العرب ؟
* قدوم المدمرة كول من أمريكا؟؟
* تدخل الامم المتحدة بقوات اوروبية ؟
* ام القدرة الالهية ؟
لقد حضرت الجامعة العربية الى لبنان بمبادرة وفشلت .
وحضرت المدمرة كول ورفيقاتها الى شاطيء لبنان وعادت ؟
وحضرت الامم المتحدة ولبنان ما زال مشلولا ؟
وبقي السنيورة رافضا عروض المعارضة واقتراحات حلولها ؟
وبقي السنيورة سابحا في التصاريح الكاذبة والقرارات اللاشرعية الواهية ؟
و الوضع يزداد تازما ؟
لماذا لم يقبل السنيورة الحلول السلمية بالمشاركة ؟
وهل هو الاحرص على السيادة ؟
لماذا لم يستقل بالماضي تجاوبا مع مظاهرة المليون ؟
لماذا لم يستقل بالامس كما فعل جنبلاط رغم سقوط حكومته عسكريا ؟
واستقالة الحكومة تنفيسة طبيعية للشعب ؟
وبمن يحتمي ؟لماذا بالماضي وبالامس لم تدخل المعارضة السراي ؟
وما الذي يمنعها ؟
لماذا تكرار المماحكات الحوارية التي لم تجد بالماضي ولن تجد بالمستقبل ؟
فمن لا تحركهم ضربات الشمس،ولا يهزهم الريح… لا تزيحهم ضربات الكفوف ؟فلماذا اضاعة الوقت والكل يعرف ان افضل دواء هو الكي ؟
ان البلد لم يعد يتحمل دمارا واجراما؟والشعب لم يعد يتحمل قتلى وجرحى وخسائر ؟
والكل لم يعد يتحمل الكذب والدجل والاستئثار ، الكل ينتظر…
فالى متى؟

May 13th, 2008, 7:54 am

 

Naji said:

تـورط عربـي كبيـر فـي اغتيـال مغنيـة
هيكل يناشد السنيورة التقدم بمبادرة: لمـاذا تثيـر شـبكة الاتصـالات الآن؟

دعا الكاتب محمد حسنين هيكل امس، الرئيس فؤاد السنيورة الى التقدم بمبادرة نوعية لانقاذ لبنان، منتقدا اثارة مسألة شبكة الاتصالات السلكية التابعة للمقاومة في الظرف الاقليمي الحالي.
وقال هيكل في مقابلة مع قناة «الجزيرة» تبث الجمعة المقبل، ان هذه المبادرة يجب ان تتجاوز الصيغة التقليدية في لبنان. واوضح «ارجوك يا دولة الرئيس.. انا اعرف اهمية ما يجري من حول لبنان.. ارجوك الا تنتظر طويلا قبل ان تطرح مبادرة حل لهذا التوتر في لبنان.. لبنان في خطر، والوضع الاقليمي ليس في صالحك ولا يقـدر على خدمتــك.. والوضــع الدولي لديه اهتـمامات كثـيرة وانت تبدو بعيدا عنها».
وراى هيكل انه «في هذه اللحظة وعلى عكس المألوف تاريخيا، على اللبنانيين بشكل او بآخر ان يجدوا صيغة لان الاقليم ممزق، لان العالم غير مهتم، لان اسرائيل، حتى اسرائيل، لديها مشاكل».
وانتقد هيكل اثارة مسألة شبكة اتصالات المقاومة في الوقت الحالي. وقال «ما الذي استوجب في هذه اللحظة ان تثار مسألة شبكة الاتصالات؟ هذه الشبكة يتم التناقش حولها لكن لماذا تحولها الى شرط بقاء؟». واضاف «حزب الله ارتكب اخطاء لكن قل لي (السنيورة) لماذا استوجب في هذه اللحظة، في موقف قلق، ان تؤزّمه بحكاية السلك.. تحدّث فيها.. اشتكي فيها.. لكن لماذا تخرجها الى العلن؟».
وحذر هيكل من ان هناك «استخبارات عربية كثيرة واطرافاً كثيرة وفلتاناً امنياً.. حتى ان مقتل عماد مغنية هو في ثلاثة ارباعه باستخبارات وجهات عربية.. عندما يمس حزب الله يشعر انه مهدد، انه مكشوف».

May 13th, 2008, 8:07 am

 

ausamaa said:

By God… it just occured to me now that Siniora can not resigne before the weekend no matter what. He has been scheduled to meet with Bush in Sharm El Shaiekh in the next few days, remember! And he can not go there if had allready resigned. Imagine him doing that and saying to Bush and “Condi”: Hi remember me? I am the ex-head of your beloved democratically elected government in Lebanon. They have kicked me out, you must have heared. How are ya..!!

And he also can not resign “soon” after the meeting either. Not good PR for Bush and “Condi”; First Olmert is in trouble, then Siniora is in deep deep waters. What a Trip!! Bush must be saying to his entourage!

So, shit!!!! The guy will be around for a little longer. That is painfull. For Siniora and for the Opposition and for most of us. But… we just can not mess with the US Presidential Visit Agenda. His Last and Crowning visit at that. Can we??

Ok, a little longer maybe. But that is IT.

God damned it!!!

May 13th, 2008, 8:48 am

 

offended said:

Aussama,
What do you expect? Bush will just be picking up the leftovers of his khara doctrine (excuse my french)…

May 13th, 2008, 9:13 am

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Nour,

I was NOT expressing an opinion in the article I pasted from today’s (Tuesday) An-nahar newspaper. The article was on the front page. Just sharing it. Clearly, a story reported in a reputable newspaper enters the news. Don’t know what to make of its validity or absurdity.

May 13th, 2008, 9:14 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Salim al-Hoss has been grooming himself for the possible position of transition PM, for the past few months. Here’s his latest move:

Former Premiere Salim al-Hoss said in a statement that it is not acceptable for roadblocks to remain on the streets, saying that, “When you hand over the streets to the army… the army shouldn’t accept to take over blocked roads.”

Hoss said that, “Civil obedience will backlash on whoever calls for it… especially if it includes the airport and the port.” Hoss said, “Fighting is unacceptable.”

May 13th, 2008, 10:55 am

 

ausamaa said:

Saud Al Faisal just had a press conference. To me he said nothing new, he spoke about the issues of Lebanon, Gaza, the Arab Israeli talks, Abuja in Sudan and all the other areas (where Saudi is higly infulential I presume), he also said that the Saudies did not abandon Lebanon and that the Ambbassador was only “recalled” for a while! When asked if the there has been a “negligence” of the Syrian role in Lebanon, and would the AL delegation visit Syria, he replied that the mission of the AL delegation is to promote internal Lebanese dialouge only as he does not think outside powers should interefer in Lebanon. This of course and the other stuff supporting the Legitemate Lebanese government and the refusal of using force to gain politically in Lebanon.

So visting Syria is not allowed, and so is perhaps having a Lebanese dialouge in Qatar. Are they worried about the possibility of Qatari Money playing a big role in Lebanese politics in the future?

Interstengly, or rather amusingly, in an answer to a question about the fighting in YEMEN, he started his answere by saying: “We care about the LEBANESE people, and…”

So obviously, Lebanon is what is really on his mind. Gaza, Iraq, Abuja, Sudan and Yemen are only a pretext for appearing and delivering messages concerning Lebanon.

On the other side, the White House says the Cole is there for training excersises.

Also, and most imprtant of all, Saad Harriri will have a press conference at 5 pm Beirut time. He must Reappear, doesn’t he?

So, nothing….new!

May 13th, 2008, 11:18 am

 

Naji said:

QN,

I wish it would be Salim Hoss, but I am almost sure it will not…! Most likely, it will be that sneeky slick Mikati, Safadi, Siniora, or some equally corrupt crook, backed by oily money of course…! That is the sunnis’ lot for now, I’m afraid…!

Having the Hoss take over the job would be the best thing for the Sunnis and would put them on an equal footing with the Shia and the Christians, but this would constitute a complete capitulation for the M14ners, and… would be too good to be true…!!

May 13th, 2008, 11:52 am

 

Naji said:

Alex,

If you really considered the Lebanon Syrian, you would be just as proud, hopeful, and worried as QN is… 😉

May 13th, 2008, 12:04 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Naji

We’ll see what happens. You may be right. But remember that agreeing on Suleiman’s candidacy was unthinkable at first because it seemed to “constitute a complete capitulation for the M14ners”, and they figured out how to make it work to their advantage.

I really do think that the game has already begun to change, behind the scenes. The rhetoric will continue in the same direction for a good amount of time due to inertia, but the deck is beginning to be reshuffled (hopefully).

In other news, I just spoke to a relative who came back to her house in Hamra, after being stuck up in the Chouf for the past five days. Apparently all of the buildings along Hamra have been spraypainted with the red insignia of the SSNP. It will no doubt strike a nerve, as this was the old neighborhood of the Syrian mukhabarat building.

May 13th, 2008, 12:05 pm

 

CuriousCanadian said:

Abraham:

I don’t presume to speak for “ordinary Americans”, although I have a lot of ordinary American friends who ask me to explain what the hell is going on in the ME. I was simply pointing out that they have the ability to change their gov’t if they don’t agree with its’ performance or policies, something that is absent in most of the ME. Sometime it takes a long time for them to act, but I’m a product of the ’60’s so I know it can be done, I was there when it happened before.
I’m aware of the fact that the Syrians brought stability to Lebanon at the end of 1990 and maintained it to some degree until 2005, but I don’t think we want to debate the merits of their “occupation” in this post.
By the way I agree with you that left to their own devices the Lebanese people probably had a better chance to resolve their problems than they did with the “help” of outside influences. ALL outside influences not just the CIA.

May 13th, 2008, 12:09 pm

 

why-discuss said:

It is natural that sunnis prime ministers wannabee, Hoss, Mikati, take a nuanced attitude towards Hezbollah and the opposition. They can’t alienate the sunnis who are under shock realizing their weakness and the strength and organization of the Shias who for long time were confined to the destituted south and regarded as negligible quantity. Sunnis will have to adjust to that new realities, despite their fear of loosing power. Sharing is certainly better than loosing.

May 13th, 2008, 12:14 pm

 

Naji said:

QN,

Poor SSNP’ers… thier little red insignia is about all they have left anymore… Let them have a little harmless fun with it once in a while, will you…!

May 13th, 2008, 12:15 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Shoot….,

on Al Manar ticker now:

Bush says before Israeli correspondents that he did send the USS Cole to support the Lebanese Army and to enable the Lebanese Government to become effective. Further, he will send a high ranking US Military personality to see how they can support the Lebanese government.

What?? He will replicate the Iraqi Surge in Lebanon??

I say, he does not mean it! The Cole to support the Lebanese government, I mean. Maybe he was overwheled emotionally while talking to the Israeli correspondents. Done it before! The military man, perhaps they will send someone. But isnt too late now? And apparently he is not coordinating with KSA which according to Saud Al Faisal, who just said that he does not want any outside power to interefere in Lebanon.

Those guys with their conradictory and different statments must be confusing Saad al Hariri and the Siniora… Right?!

May 13th, 2008, 12:17 pm

 

Shual said:

“Also, the West wasn’t very much outraged over Syria’s involvement in Lebanon because they didn’t know anything about it until the American government pointed at it as a useful distraction for its own failing strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Abraham,
I can not fix your problem with Zionism, but please stop writing illogical conspiracy theories. “The West did not know” is what we call “grenzdebil”: There are about 157 different external theories that were printed in books and newspaper at all times in all decades. I can remember several of them out of my youth, like the Rouleau/Eddé theory that Kissinger and Assad wanted to create a Syrian dominated “Confederation” for Lebanon and the Palestinians in 1974. Your quote reminds me of some PASOK-texts of the mid-80ties, when Assad was the great hope of Anti-Imperialist Papandreou in the conflict about Cyprus. Other things like “Syria that finally stablized the country after 15 years of civil war” are wrong, cause the mayor political success of Assad is from January 1976 and I don’t think that the civil war started in 1961. But his success embeded his failure, the “Constitutional Document”-Failure. Not that unimportant today, cause … George Bush and his theory of “bolstering the Lebanese Army” is the same than Assads theory of 1976 that failed. And if we talk about your “left to themselves without foreign influence”, we should not forget that the Syrian engagement in 76 enhanced the internationalization. An effect, quite similar to the things we can see in Iraq now and even the Syrian reasons for the intervention in 76 are exchangeable and even the 76-players seem to be copied into 2008. […] NYT or sites like foreignaffairs have opened their archives and there enough books from all sides for you to read and stop your “blackout”-theory

PS: “neocons took advantage of the aftermath and the result was the “Cedar Revolution”” … Funny to read that. No, not because of the CIA-chip-implants in the brains of Lebanese that made them demonstrate. Cause its like one of the Murphys laws of international activists: “If you tamper often enough on the Cedar Revolution, it will break”. Like “If you talk often enough about Sabra and Shatila, nobody will remember Tell al-Zaatar” Funny.

May 13th, 2008, 12:31 pm

 

Naji said:

Aussamaa,

The Bushies and the Saudies, and their minions, are such a confused and disoriented lot at the moment that it is too embarassing to watch…! However, wielding so much power, money, and impunity, they can become most dangerous in their current condition…!

May 13th, 2008, 12:38 pm

 

Shual said:

I don’t know.

I am lucky about the re-deployment of the USS-Cole. I am really sick an tired of talking to people that saw her adventure in the Persian Gulf as the sign for an attack on Iran. [And the Syrian Navy will be happy to be on High Alert again.] From my point of view, that can be wrong, it will be the same procedure like in March: Very much hype about the USS Cole, but not more.

May 13th, 2008, 12:50 pm

 

norman said:

Is President Bush coming with goodies,

SPIEGEL ONLINE

03/15/2007 04:51 PM’WE ABANDONED SYRIA’
An Emerging Iraqi Refugee Crisis
By Ulrike Putz in Damascus, Syria

Syria has so far taken in 1.2 million refugees from Iraq without any help from the outside world, but there are indications that things could be about to change.

Ulrike Putz
The movement of Iraqi refugees across the border into Syria has become impossible to control. Syria is already harboring some 1.2 million refugees from its war-torn neighbor.
A refugee drama of the kind usually seen in Africa is currently underway in the Middle East — and it has taken the world a long time to take notice. About 1.2 million Iraqis have sought exile in Syria, and some 700,000 more have fled to Jordan.

The fact that this mass flow of refugees long went unrecognized by the West may be the result of the behavior of Iraq’s neighbors in Syria, who merely saw this generosity as a matter of course. Still, for a country of 19 million to take in 1.2 million refugees is comparable to Germany having to take in 5 million.

The result is that Syria’s economy is now groaning under the strain. The population suffers from water scarcity, electricity blackouts, increased competition for jobs and higher rent and food prices. But so far, the Syrians have accepted these burdens without complaint — and the government in Damascus continues to cultivate an open-door policy. Iraqis are neither turned away nor deported.

Lauren Jolles, the representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) in Syria, is full of praise. “Jordan and especially Syria are bearing the greatest burden without complaining,” he told SPIEGEL ONLINE. Both countries have accepted the adverse effects on their own infrastructures and economies, Jolles said, “but every Iraqi child can go to school here. That means there are now between 50 and 60 children in one class, instead of 20 or 30.”

The hardship created has gone unrecognized for too long, he said, adding, however, that the United States “is gradually acknowledging that they have handed over responsibility.” But the international community ought to have rung the alarm much earlier, he said, before adding: “We have all abandoned Syria.”

Large aid package needed

A United Nations aid conference scheduled to be held in Geneva in mid-April may now bring relief for the 2 million Iraqi refugees outside the country and the 1 million displaced persons inside Iraq. “We will analyze the situation and see what is required,” Jolles said. But one thing is clear, in his view: “The result will have to be a very large aid package.”

Even though the desperate situation of the refugees in Damascus is “less visible” — because they have found accommodation in the suburbs and not in tent camps — exiled Iraqis are suffering from ever-greater problems. “First the middle class arrived, bringing along with it its savings,” Jolles explained. “But those savings are gradually running out.” The refugees arriving today are often poorer. They had no apartment to sell in their home country and therefore lack money, according to Jolles.

The UNHCR now expects social problems to develop and worsen. “These people have been uprooted. They’ve been torn out of their neighborhood and their working environment,” said Jolles. Worse yet, they have hopes for any kind of future.

It’s a situation that has the Syrian government in a deep state of worry. “It’s trying to expand its capacities in order to keep the refugees under control,” Jolles said, explaining that Damascus wants to prevent the violence between Sunnis and Shiites from spreading across the border into Syria. But it is very difficult to keep an eye on such a massive number of people.

“The fear and the tension are growing,” Jolles said.

URL:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,471728,00.html
RELATED SPIEGEL ONLINE LINKS:

May 13th, 2008, 1:00 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Is the Hariri investigation taking a new turn as supporters of the 14 March are finally been scrutinized?

Ahmad Jarallah (Al Syassa Koweit) under thorough interrogation by the Bellemare’s Hariri commission as reported by Al Diwan for propagating false information and hampering the investigation.

“La Commission d’enquête internationale sur l’assassinat de l’ancien Premier Ministre libanais HARIRI interroge le propriétaire du quotidien koweitien As-Syassa
1 mai 2008

Le quotidien koweitien Al-Diwan a rapporté citant des sources de presse au siège de l’ONU à New York et d’autres sources au sein des bureaux du quotidien koweitien Al-Siyssa qu’une délégation de la commission d’enquête internationale sur l’assassinat de Hariri composée de 3 enquêteurs accompagnés de techniciens et d’analystes d’informations s’était rendue au Koweït où elle avait interrogé pendant 3 jours et au rythme de 10 heures par jours l’éditeur et propriétaire du quotidien koweitien As-Siyassa Ahmed EL-JARALLAH connu pour ses positions alignées sur les forces du 14 février au Liban et accusé par l’opposition d’être le porte parole d’Israël et des alliés des Etats-Unis au Liban.

L’interrogation de M.EL-JARALLAH s’inscrit dans le cadre d’une enquête secondaire ouverte par le nouveau chef de la commission d’enquête internationale sur l’assassinat de HARIRI sur la présence de groupes et de réseaux chargés de fournir des fausses informations ainsi que des faux témoins à la commission d’enquête pour brouiller le cours de l’enquête qu’elle mène sur l’attentat ayant coûté la vie en 2005 à Beyrouth à l’ancien Premier Ministre libanais, Rafic HARIRI.

Selon des sources à l’ONU, le magistrat BELLEMARE a décidé de former une telle commission après avoir subi de fortes pressions de la part de la Russie, de l’Afrique du Sud, de la Libye, et de la Chine pour le pousser à prendre les mesures adéquates contre ceux qui veulent faire avorter l’action de la commission d’enquête internationale.

Le magistrat BELLEMARE a réussi à mettre la main grâce à l’aide de l’une de ces grandes puissances (peut-être la Russie) sur des enregistrements audio, des messages électroniques, et des fax contenant des ordres reçus par le propriétaire du quotidien koweitien As-Siyassa et son réseau de la part de responsables de la propagande auprès du député Saad HARIRI à savoir : le Ministre libanais Marwan HAMADE, le député Bassem EL-SABAA, les deux conseillers de Saad HARIRI, le journaliste Fares KHACHAN et Hanni HAMOUD.

Ces responsables font partie d’autres réseau de propagande liés à la famille HARIRI, à Israël et à ses collaborateurs libanais aux Etats-Unis et qui appartiennent au soi disant groupe mondial de soutien à la révolution du cèdre à savoir : Ziad ABDELNOUR, Walid FARESS, Jo BIANI, Tom HARB, et Kabalan FARES.

Le rédacteur des affaires juridiques au sein du quotidien koweitien Al-Diwan, M.Hamed YOUSSEF a affirmé avoir suivi cette question sur le terrain et obtenu une confirmation des informations fournies par les sources de presse à l’ONU de la part d’une partie indépendante à savoir : un haut fonctionnaire au sein du quotidien koweitien As-Syassa qui lui a affirmé que Ahmed EL-JARALLA avait refusé d’accéder à la demande de la commission d’enquête internationale de venir à Beyrouth sous prétexte que sa vie était en danger.

M.YOUSSEF a également affirmé que l’agent d’Ahmed EL-JARALLAH à Beyrouth Samir GHERIAFI écrivait dans les journaux sous le pseudonyme de Hamad GHERIAFI et qu’il prétendait être installé à Londres alors qu’il travaille au bureau de Marwan HAMADE à Beyrouth et ne réside pas à Londres comme l’a découvert la commission d’enquête internationale.

Les sources de presse à l’ONU d’ajouter : 7 enquêteurs de la commission d’enquête internationale sur l’assassinat de HARIRI sont entrés dans les bureaux du quotidien As-Siyassa accompagnés d’agents de sécurité en civil pour interroger Ahmed EL-JARALLAH qui a nié être impliqué dans un réseau sécuritaire et médiatique chargé de propager des rumeurs pour brouiller l’action de la commission d’enquête.

Selon ces sources, ce réseau est composé de dizaines de journalistes dont Samir GHERIAFI et un autre journaliste installé à Paris à savoir : Nizar NAIOUF, propriétaire du site électronique Al-Hakika (la vérité) et qui reçoit une somme mensuelle de 1500 euros de la part de Saad HARIRI.

Cette somme est virée sur le compte de NAYYOUF à Paris par l’intermédiaire de Bassil YARED chargé par Saad HARIRI de verser des pots de vin et d’acheter les consciences dans la capitale française. (As-Saoura)

May 13th, 2008, 1:06 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

What’s this? Why-Discuss is taking the Hariri investigation seriously?

Surely not!

Why-Discuss, didn’t anyone tell you that it is a merely a CIA-rigged scheme that is being used to destabilize Syria?

Don’t be so naive!

May 13th, 2008, 1:19 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Siniora is an honest good man, he did make mistakes, but his patriotism to Lebanon and the Arab is not to be doubted, he will not resign till there is new president, he will resisit pressure, at the same time Hasan Nasrallah is a man we like and admire, but he over-reacted, extremely, causing the death of many lebanese, and miscalculated the situation,he should never use his power against fellow lebanese,HA will not gain anything, infact he will loose a lotfrom now on he will retreat.
Walid Junblat, We-am Wahhab, and the ssnp leaders must pay,for their Fitnah.
the four generals will stay in jail, and the regime next door will be the biggest looser.

May 13th, 2008, 1:29 pm

 

why-discuss said:

QN

I don’t get your point. Are you ironical? You seem to be the only one on the world who is so sure about the outcome. Please share your proofs if you have any that are convincing enough, please spare me another essay!

May 13th, 2008, 1:42 pm

 

norman said:

QN,

They direct the investigation depending on how much they want to punish or reward Syria , Don’t you think?.

May 13th, 2008, 1:45 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Norman

That article shows exactly the opposite. The inspectors are becoming more suspicious about the medias and the people behind them who have been providing accusations on Syria based on fabricated information and corrupted witnesses. This article is pointing to Marwan Hamade and other Hariri allies to have orcherstrated a campaign based on
false information. I think the commission is making a new move toward a more balanced investigation.

May 13th, 2008, 2:06 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Tune in to Hariri speaking now. Things are heating up not quieting down.

May 13th, 2008, 2:13 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Why-Discuss, many are as sure of Syria’s guilt in the assassination of Hariri as others are sure of Israel’s guilt in the assassination of Mughnieh. How about some concrete proof from the latter about Israel’s guilt? No essays please.

May 13th, 2008, 2:15 pm

 

Naji said:

Are you guys listening to this little monkey on TV right now…??! Who wrote this crap for him… Mufti Jouzo…?!

It is not looking good…!!! That’s what you get when you accept a Saudi boy at the head of your sect, country, and “revolution”… all for a fistful of Rials…!!

Well, this is at least music to the ears of one Israeli pest above…!! With friends like these, …oh well…
… 🙁

May 13th, 2008, 2:18 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
Hariri has gained my respect. The guy is in Beirut and Hizballah can capture him at any time, but still he has the balls to say what he believes and to tell the truth about Hizballah.

Hizballah wants to change things by force? Very well, they will have to go all the way. Hariri is calling their bluff and risking his life in the process. He is leading from the front and not from the back like Aasd. Lebanon still has a chance.

May 13th, 2008, 2:32 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Hariri is saying what I have been saying all along: Hizbollah have no end game. The cannot run Lebanon without the cover of the other Lebanese but they will not be able to coerce a unity government any more.

May 13th, 2008, 2:38 pm

 

kingcrane jr said:

QN,
I see your point, but does the populace that has been hijacked by mini-Hariri’s dollars understand such finesses?
The latest rumor today is that Sanyura will give up and mini-Hariri will retire from politics. Despite my antipathy for his father (he has swindled several distant cousins in downtown Beirut), he was at least a better facade for the KSA in Lebanon, and a capable compromise/consensus builder. The son seems to be hiding behind Sanyura, Hamadeh, and other “real” Lebanese politicians.

May 13th, 2008, 2:44 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
This should be music to any one who loves democracy and non-violent means to solve internal disagreements. This is music to the ears of anybody believes thugs and bullies should not be able to dominate just because they use violence against their fellow citizens. This is music to anyone who sees for the first time a Lebanese politician willing to risk his life for freedom. It is not music to those that are used to kowtowing to dictators and are afraid of their own shadow.

May 13th, 2008, 2:54 pm

 

Naji said:

Huh…!
Israel’s favourite little pet hero is now accusing Israel of aiding Hizballah in kicking his butt…!!! Whatever medication he is on, I’d like some… 🙂

May 13th, 2008, 3:04 pm

 

norman said:

QN,

Did you see Hariri , They are now in the manic stage , God help Lebanon.

May 13th, 2008, 3:12 pm

 

abraham said:

Shaul @ 12:31pm,

What are you babbling about? I was talking about the ignorance of most Americans with regards to any given event in the Middle East. If you don’t understand that then you don’t know America.

May 13th, 2008, 3:51 pm

 

abraham said:

Here’s a first-hand account of the FM attack on the SSNP headquarters in Halba. I cannot vouch for any of this, just passing it along.

http://darkoysm.wordpress.com/2008/05/11/is-it-lebanon-or-rwanda-details-of-the-halba-massacre/

Links to videos are in the comments. One video shows a group of men who were clearly shot through the head.

AIG,

Your lauding of Mini Hariri only makes us Arabs despise him more. Anyone who has Israeli fans of your ilk is certainly everything we think he is but much worse.

When Mini Hariri actually picks up a gun and pulls the trigger with a live carthridge in the chamber while it’s pointed at his enemy then I might change my mind about him. But for now, he’s a spoiled little aristocrat’s son who is in way over his head. He needs someone to change his diaper.

May 13th, 2008, 4:05 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Most Arabs are a little more mature than you and understand that they need to judge politicians not by how much Israelis like them or not.

Whenever I see someone stand up against thuggery and in support of democracy I will support him, even if that person hates my guts. I don’t care. Hariri is no friend of Israel but he is proving to be a brave leader. He is willing to sacrifice his life like his father for what he believes in, which is a democratic Lebanon and I will support him for that without expecting anything in return.

May 13th, 2008, 4:12 pm

 

abraham said:

I’ll save the UN a bunch of investigation time here. When Mini Hariri is assassinated in the coming months, recall the massacre at Halba and the culprits will have been identified.

May 13th, 2008, 4:23 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG, please send Mini Hariri all your money because he apparently doesn’t have enough to bring democratization to Lebanon.

May 13th, 2008, 4:23 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG, there are still 1.5 million Gazan’s starving next door. Are you human? What are you doing to help them?

May 13th, 2008, 4:36 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
The Gazans are shooting rockets at me. They are my enemies. They are your brothers. You help them. Let me give you some ideas what to do:
1) Organize an hospital ship that will attempt to reach Gaza. If Israel stops it, it will get very bad PR.
2) Organize a huge red crescent donation of food and stuff and attempt delivering it to Gaza through Egypt peacefully.
3) etc.

There are SO many things you can do, but you are doing nothing. It proves to me you do not care at all about the Palestinians and are just using them as a weapon against Israel. Do something instead of just complaining all the time.

May 13th, 2008, 4:44 pm

 

Shual said:

Dear Abraham,

1. “Shaul @ 12:31pm, What are you babbling about?”
Try to write names correct and try to behave polite, please.

2. “I was talking about the ignorance of most Americans” .. “Also, the West wasn’t very much outraged…”
Try to understand your text modules before posting them.

3. “with regards to any given event in the Middle East. If you don’t understand that then you don’t know America.” … “..they didn’t know anything about it until the American government pointed at it..”
Try to write more logical. Your text module I said that the West [including Americans] NOW knows, cause Bush told them.

On the other hand, you are totally wrong, cause [Wapo yesterday] if 80% of Americans express unhappiness with the NE-policy of Bush nobody can speak of “useful distraction[s]” or “ignorance of most americans”.

May 13th, 2008, 4:46 pm

 

Naji said:

Al Manar is showing a video of the Hallba Massacre… perhaps the worst thing I have ever seen… much worse than Hutus and Tutsies…!!!
Urrrgggghhhhh… I am going to throw up… 🙁

May 13th, 2008, 4:46 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Why-Discuss

Your measure of an investigation’s “balance”, it seems to me, is based entirely upon the degree to which it exonerates Syria and implicates its enemies.

If they interviewed M14 officials in the morning, and Syrian officials in the afternoon, would you conclude that they ate something for lunch that made them lose their “balance”?

😉

May 13th, 2008, 4:48 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG:

1) Organize an hospital ship that will attempt to reach Gaza. If Israel stops it, it will get very bad PR.

Bad PR, sure, for a few minutes, and then Israel will start bleating that it was carrying arms and nuclear materials for a reactor that the North Koreans were building in Gaza (in the same place where they keep Shalit), and American media will run with your story and flood the airwaves with it, and the Gazans will still be starving.

2) Organize a huge red crescent donation of food and stuff and attempt delivering it to Gaza through Egypt peacefully.

What, you think Egypt will do anything to piss of the US? Israel will just claim they are trying to sneak in arms and nuclear materials and will shoot up the convoy before it gets to the border, and the Gazans will continue to starve.

But, the Gazans are magnanimous. Perhaps they will send you a Qassam to dine on?

May 13th, 2008, 4:57 pm

 

abraham said:

Shaul at 4:46pm,

Again, I must ask, what are you babbling about? Is that supposed to be English?

May 13th, 2008, 4:59 pm

 

offended said:

AIG,
Sa’d Hariri also said that Hezbollah pulled fighters from the south (under the Israeli oversight and protection(!)) to conduct its ops in Beirut. What do you make of that?

May 13th, 2008, 5:05 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Offended,
I make nothing out of it. It is the usual anti-Israel rhetoric. We are used to it. Hariri is not a friend of Israel and I don’t expect him to say anything nice about us.

May 13th, 2008, 5:37 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Excuses all the time. Nothing but excuses for doing nothing.

May 13th, 2008, 5:41 pm

 

abraham said:

Oh yeah? What’s Israel’s excuse for the dozens of pending UN resolutions it has failed to implement?

May 13th, 2008, 5:54 pm

 

norman said:

naji,

how can i see it?.

May 13th, 2008, 5:57 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
No excuse. Israel does not view the UN as a fair authority and it will only implement resolutions that are in its interest to implement. Just like the Arabs ignored the UN partition resolution of 47 because they thought it was not in their interest. We will also accept all consequences that arise from us not implementing these resolutions.

May 13th, 2008, 6:05 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG, that’s an excuse–and a damn piss poor one. Israel doesn’t necessarily see the UN as unfair when it accepted 1701 and keeps insisting that Hizballah isn’t complying with it. You can’t seriously argue that the UN isn’t fair to Israel since they have an ambassador there (who happens to be a damn belligerent asshole to boot)! So if it was so unfair, why do they keep playing the game?

How many times must you embarrass yourself in front of everyone here? The Mossad pays you way too much, I can tell you that much.

May 13th, 2008, 7:17 pm

 

JustOneAmerican said:

Arguing about the UN seems pointless to me. Every country attempts to use it for their own advantage to include ignoring resolutions they don’t like on one hand while demanding the implementation of those they do like on the other.

May 13th, 2008, 7:40 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
If the UN does not enforce any of its resolutions about Israel, why do the Arabs keep sending their ambassadors there? The whole UN is a big PR show and everybody plays the game there. The Arabs used it mainly to score points against Israel and Israel is there in order not to make life easy for the Arabs.

May 13th, 2008, 7:44 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG, you’re only saying that because it gets in the way of your plans for an ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Seriously, you cannot complain about the UN on the one hand but then continually claim that Israel is legitimate because the UN said so in 1947. Either the UN is a legitimate body or not. If not, then get the hell out of Palestine and go find some other piece of land to call your own, preferably one that is a land without a people for a people without a land.

May 13th, 2008, 8:20 pm

 

offended said:

Exactly AIG, that means even Sa’d Hariri feeds his crowd (and probably his puny mind as well) the ‘hatred’ of Israel. Shame on him, inni’t ?

May 13th, 2008, 8:41 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Offended,
It is so common in the Arab world that I have grown used to it. I draw the line at antisemitism.

But I can live with Hariri using Israel as a means to bash Hizballah. After all, Hizballah has been playing this card much longer. It is probably a winning card in Lebanon. I have no illussions about anybody in Lebanon liking Israel especially the Sunnis who are natural allies of the Palestinians.

May 13th, 2008, 8:49 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG, you have how many millions of Arabs living in Israel? They must be a very politically weak segment of your society if you feel so free to talk about them in such boorish and racist ways.

May 13th, 2008, 9:40 pm

 

offended said:

AIG,
I am glad that you know your limits. Perhabds you could something to improve your image amongst the Sunnis of Lebanon before sympathezing with them (or offering to help them?)

May 13th, 2008, 10:18 pm

 

Shual said:

“Shaul at 4:46pm, Again, I must ask, what are you babbling about? Is that supposed to be English?”

Dear Abraham, again please try to write names correct. And your second try with “english” only shows a limited number of text modules.

PS: “AIG, you’re only saying that because it gets in the way of your plans for an ethnic cleansing of Palestine.” Pffft, after your recent outings as chief of your local Nasrallah-FanClub Palestine will be very pleased if you stop using their case to satisfy your “image of Israelis”. But if you want to be a Hamasnik, too, you should know that the acceptance of Hamas in Palestine is extremly eroded. You [YOU] should learn that your performance as sole agency of palestinian intrests on this website is very funny.

Hybridize “Woman rigths” with “Hamas and Hezbollah”-Fan and your permanent “ethnical cleansing”-rhetoric gives the impression that you need an external reason to abstract your internal problems.

May 13th, 2008, 11:41 pm

 

wizart said:

A view towards the future:
Determining Lebanon’s economic and political identity
by Rafic Al- Hariri

Over the past 20 years global and regional economic developments, including the information technology revolution and its impact on productivity, the emergence of the Asian Tiger Economies as major economic powers has altered the global competitive structure. The almost universal acceptance of free market economics, and the decline in transport and telecommunications costs have led to the globalization of production and marketing. At the same time, Arab economies have developed significantly. Consequently Lebanon faces new challenges that must be addressed in the context of the war decades and the post-war revival period that rendered Lebanon, once again, among the group of advanced middle income countries.

Furthermore, these global and regional developments have altered the rules of international comparative advantage. Production, trade, and finance have become far more dependent on human talent, initiative, quality, and innovation rather than on natural resources, geographic location or mass production. As a result, many countries across the globe have experienced rapid economic growth despite the paucity of their natural resources.

The economic fate of nations is no longer determined exclusively by the availability of natural resources. Countries can now play a far more active role in creating their own comparative advantage. Hence, small, resource-poor countries, like Lebanon, now have broad opportunities to grow and develop. It is therefore imperative to convert these new challenges into national and economic opportunities. The main challenge facing Lebanon today is the revitalization of its economy so as to enhance its competitiveness, create job opportunities, and improve the standard of living of the Lebanese through balanced development. Achieving these goals depends on the following factors.

1. Maintaining democracy, freedom, the rule of law, and the independence of the judiciary:

It is by now obvious to all political leaders, international civil servants, fund managers, and investors that economic revival is contingent on the rule of law, a total and complete respect for
individual freedoms, including those of convictions, belief and expression, and the complete independence of the civil and administrative judiciary from political interference and pressure.

2. Renewing confidence in the Lebanese economy and reinforcing its attributes:

In this context, it is crucial to reinforce Lebanon’s fundamental economic strengths namely:

Support for individual initiatives.
Free mobility of capital.
Freedom of currency exchange.
Legislative and tax stability.
Banking secrecy laws.
A free and liberal market economy.

3. Establishing a foreign policy with economic returns:

The global economic developments mentioned above have intensified economic competition between countries, which in turn has transformed foreign policy into an effective tool in the economic contest and in the race to open markets for national products, to attract foreign investments, and to obtain grants and concessionary loans. Consequently small countries such as Lebanon can no longer afford to ignore this new economic tool, which is based on an effective foreign policy in the service of the national economy.

4. Addressing the fiscal situation:

Economic growth is the best vehicle to combat the fiscal deficit as it will allow the government to increase its revenue share from a growing economy without adversely affecting the current income level of the Lebanese people. On the other hand, attempting to increase the ratio of public sector revenues to GDP is not feasible in the context of a contracting economy, as it would only lead to a decline in total revenues and an intensification of the recession. Consequently, there is no alternative to placing the economy on a sustainable growth path and thus providing new job opportunities for thousands of young Lebanese.

Clearly a combination of a modern basic infrastructure, sustained confidence in the economy, expenditure stabilization, revitalization of private sector activity, and a revised public sector role constitute together the appropriate policy mix that promotes economic growth and encourages capital inflows. This in turn would have lead to a reduction in domestic interest rates – while preserving exchange rate stability – and to the ability to increase treasury revenues from the national economy while expanding job opportunities. In summary, this policy mix allows for a soft landing of the economy and for a gradual and orderly reduction in the deficit and in the debt burden.

To reduce the costs of production, the following policy initiatives are required:

A : Privatization:

Naturally, greater private sector participation in the provision of public services such as electricity, telecommunications and water promises to improve productivity and efficiency, while providing the necessary additional investment. Enhancing the role of the private sector in these areas could also provide additional support to the treasury. Nevertheless, any private sector participation in these sectors should be predicated on a strategic view of the particular sector and on the condition that the quality and cost of these services be far more attractive to consumers. This, in turn, will increase the productivity and competitiveness of the private sector and thus enhance economic growth.

B : Administrative reform:

Lebanon is now at the stage where serious efforts to modernize the public sector can be considered. Naturally this should be coupled with a major drive to expand the role of information technology in the provision of public services and the electronic transfer of documents and information between citizens and the public sector. Only through the simplification and modernization of our systems and procedures, along with reducing the need for excessive interaction between citizens and employees, by minimizing and eventually excluding middlemen, will the public sector become transparent and efficient.

n addition, it is now time to redefine the role and size of the public sector and the extent of its co-operation with the private sector and civil society.

C: Encouraging the productive sectors

One of the main policies that would enhance the competitiveness of the Lebanese economy is to encourage the productive sectors. However, this also requires simultaneous movement on other fronts, including privatization and administrative reform. Clearly, reducing the cost of electricity, water and telecommunications through privatization would significantly promote the productive sectors. Moreover, determined efforts to reform the civil service would render the public sector a strong supporter of private sector activity.

There are broad opportunities for enhancing the growth of the productive sectors and the creation of new jobs capable of absorbing the talented youth of Lebanon. However, this hinges on the ability to respond to the regional economic changes that have occurred over the past two decades.

This can best be achieved through the following measures:

First: Building on previous achievements to encourage and develop the services sector with particular emphasis on Lebanon’s geographic location and natural characteristics.

Secondly: Increasing Lebanon’s competitiveness in information technology, the fastest-growing sector internationally. This requires upgrading and expanding the communication and information technology infrastructure and reviewing the fees charged for its use.

Thirdly: Revitalize the productive sectors through the provision of low-cost financing mechanisms that would enhance their growth along the lines of the previous government’s interest rate subsidy to promote
tourism, industry and agriculture, or through the expansion of credit facilities to these sectors.

Fourthly: Given that modern agriculture and industry are no longer dependent on mass production and are now heavily affected by quality considerations and the development of niche markets, both sectors could be reinforced and expanded through a restructuring of their enterprises and the adoption of modern technologies. Furthermore, these sectors can be supported by the services industries, including financial services, marketing, packaging and the introduction of brand identification, thereby creating new comparative advantages for Lebanese products.

Fifth: Thanks to the trade agreement with Syria, negotiated by the previous government, it is now both in the capability and interest of Lebanon to carefully study the potential for complimentary exchange between the agricultural and agro-industrial sectors of Lebanon and Syria.

Sixth: Pursue the development of the already competitive financial sector and establish appropriate guidelines for a strong insurance sector.

Seven: Developing the human element: Lebanon will not be able to effectively interact in the new millennium without clear policies that regenerate Lebanese talent and develop it at all levels of employment and creativity, including politics, culture, economics and scientific pursuit. With this in mind, the modernization of the education sector, especially technical and vocational training, and the strengthening of its credibility and social dimensions should form a direct and specific national objective. This will enable Lebanon to bridge the development and time gaps resulting from the war years.

Eight: Rendering social services more effective: It is time for us to refocus our attention on social issues with a view to improving our social programs rather than simply increasing public spending on social sectors. Consequently, major efforts need to be directed at modernizing and reforming social security programs.

Additionally, we need to introduce far greater consistency, efficiency, and modern business practises in the delivery of health and education services. In this regard, we believe that municipalities and society at large, which are far more capable of overseeing these activities at the local level, should have a far greater input in the management and direction of public school and hospitals. Naturally, the central government ministries should continue to ensure quality control and standards. In this context, the main burdens \preoccupying the Lebanese revolve around the need to ensure that their requirements for healthcare, education, housing, social services are met, and that they have the ability to pay their electricity, water and telephone bills. As mentioned before, enhancing the role of the private sector in the provision of electricity, water and telecommunications must be coupled with a reduction in the cost of these services, which should be passed on to the consumer.

Raising the level of health, education and social services and expanding their scope requires greater co-operation between local and municipal authorities, civil society and central government. Nevertheless, central government must remain responsible for building public schools where needed, the development of educational programs, and for setting quality standards and overseeing their implementation. Efforts should also be directed toward widening the coverage of social security and health insurance through a reassessment of the operations of all public sector institutions related to this domain, and through greater co-operation with private insurance and pension funds. In order to improve the quality of these services and reduce their costs.

May 14th, 2008, 7:00 pm

 

CWW said:

“Lebanon’s information minister, Ghazi Aridi, said the cabinet reversed the two decisions — challenging the militant group’s private telephone network and the job of a Hezbollah ally who directs airport security — “in view of the higher national interest.”

The above is from http://iht.com/articles/2008/05/15/africa/15lebanon.php

It looks like Hezbollah will no longer need to obtain enough cabinet seats to veto moves by the government as it can now do the same through the barrel of a gun. Who needs laws when you have guns?

May 15th, 2008, 12:26 pm

 

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