Thursday, June 28, 2007

Investigating Lebanon: Sectarianism and Fear of Other (Part II)

Check Part I

Interactions and Groups

Lake and Rothcild wrote: “Competition for resources typically lies at the heart of ethnic conflict. Property rights, jobs, scholarships, educational admissions, language rights, government contracts, and development allocations all confer benefits on individuals and groups. All such resources are scarce and, thus, objects of competition and occasionally struggle between individuals and, when organized, groups. In societies where ethnicity is an important basis for identity, group competition often forms along ethnic lines.”

The base of power for a sect leader is his/her claim to protect his/her sect’s interests. In Lebanon, the public sector for example lacks any merit system for recruitment. For example, when a Maronite is recruited to the Foreign Affairs department, five other Sects should be recruited to equivalent positions. Three out of six are from different Christian Sects, and three others are Muslim Sects. This has been the case ever since the Civil war ended n 1990. Almost all other public positions contain parallel logic. Even elections are based on confessional basis per region, and it is strange how I see the government and the opposition preaching reform while still reluctant to cancel confessional distribution. Probably the only thing that is secular in nature are the student elections in the major universities (but mobilization there also is based on sectarian basis for political purposes).

Lebanon’s private sector is a bit tiny better. The major institutions that are directly and indirectly affiliated to political parties also contain Sect oriented logic. If they want to diversify, they would recruit sects belonging to allied parties. Future TV, Harriri Inc, Hezbollah Inc corporations, corporations with politically oriented managers, even as far as restaurants has this logic. Most institutions would prefer to have one “political color”, which currently is either pro-Government or pro-Opposition. Those institutions which has balance of power (such as the foreign universities such as American University of Beirut and Lebanese American University…etc) would witness pro-government/pro-opposition employees mingling separately with few breaking the ice to crack political jokes (primarily attacking the other in a funny way). Within each political color, sectarian division lines are horded, unless the people belong to a secular trend. Those secular would sit next to their closest allies in logic or in terms of personal ties.

A lot of cases, political ties (primarily based on Sect) play a role in recruitment whether in the public sector or private. As sad as it sounds, this little dilemma is true. Even those who claim to be leftists also recruit based along division lines (major NGOs, UN institutions, others). Different political figures intervene for recruiting purposes. This guy is a cousin of a friend who say works for Michel el Murr, then he can find a job easier than the ones who are non-affiliated.

The time when Christians politically dominated Lebanon (pre-1975), they had the privilege of attaining jobs in the public sector 6:5. This was a primary reform agenda of Kamal Junblatt which was to demolish whether peacefully or revolutionary the sectarian system. Sadly, when Kamal Junblatt, despite his socialist ideals, was assassinated, the Druze as a Sect went into rampage of anger to butcher Christians based on Sect, despite the fact a lot of Christians butchered (and some cases beheaded) were members of Kamal Junblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party. The Druze out of vengeance forgot their socialist ideals and directly regarded Kamal Junblatt as their protector, a martyr, and sought revenge on allies of Syria then (Phalange – Ahhrar in 1977).

Lake and Rothcild wrote: “Politics matter because the state controls access to scarce resources. Individuals and groups that possess political power can often gain privileged access to these goods, and thus increase their welfare. Because the state sets the terms of competition between groups, it becomes an object of group struggle. Accordingly, the pursuit of particularistic objectives often becomes embodied in competing visions of just, legitimate, and appropriate political orders.”

The name of the game hence in any society is to dominate a government to access its resources. Usually in Western nations, democracy witnesses collisions of platforms, and in several occasions the voters focus on the political actors’ previous performance (as well as propaganda). This is seen clearly as Democrats sweep over Republicans in the United States or vice versa the Republicans sweep over the Democrats. In case of Lebanon, things are different, there are different communities with primary Sect leaders and minor players, and neither community can dominate the whole parliament, which leaves the primary actors re-elected (due to Sectarian reasons) and the government is usually a last minute patch-work (used to be forced patchwork during the Syrian Mandate). This makes the country rendered helpless at the mercy of the sectarian elites. Technically this is the crisis what the country faces these days. Division of political opinion, mobilization on Sectarian basis, to safeguard the elite’s interests and their foreign cliental would cause the masses to mobilize to protect themselves, protect their sect leaders, and above all fend themselves from the other aggressive sects.

Nabih Berri preserved some political power in the face of Hezbollah’s sweep of domination of the Shiites (post Civil War) by abusing the public sector and giving all Shiite positions to his supporters (during the Syrian Mandate). In the 2000 elections, Rafiq el Harriri and Michel el Murr promoted themselves as powerful Sunni and Christan figures during the Parliamentary elections. Saad Harriri swept elections as defender of the Sunni Sect whereby other Sunni figures like Karami and Huss appeared rather weak. In 2005 elections, the Free Patriotic Movement (Aoun and his merry men) and the Lebanese Forces/Phalange collided on who is the real Christian/Lebanese. Intersect votes were mobilized for “friends” specially when Nasrallah forced his supporters to vote for the Lebanese Forces and vice versa. Now, Sects are mobilized to win over the government or defend it. 14th of March would argue it got a lunatic general accompanied with the Shiites from Iran, 8th of March would argue that they are defending Lebanon from becoming another Iraq. Bottom line, all politicians are mobilizing on Sect basis. Even the tiny Prince Talal Irslain is promoting himself as the Durzi alternative to Walid Junblatt (and the little Prince is doing badly against the Baik).

Lake and Rothcild wrote: “Analytically, however, the existence of competing policy preferences is – by itself – not sufficient for violence to arise. Observers too often fail to recognize this important theoretical point and misattribute violence to competition over scarce resources. Violence, after all, is costly for all communal actors: people are killed; factories, farms, and the whole cities are destroyed; resources that might have been invested in new economic growth are diverted instead to destructive ends. As violence, and preparing for violence, is always costly, there must exist in principle some potential bargain short of violence that leaves both sides in a dispute better off than settling their disagreements through the use of force at the very least, the same ex post agreement could be reached without the use of force, and the resources that would have been expended in violence divided somehow between the parties ex ante. This holds irrespective of the breadth if the group demands or the extent of the antagonisms. The father apart the policy preferences of the groups are, the greater the violence necessary for one group to assert its will over the other, and the greater the resources that can be saved by averting to resort to force.”

The cost of war is always too expensive, and that is a weight to calculate. After the bloody civil war we had, the Lebanese are not willing to be ready to enter towards another civil war. The only time the Lebanese were actually united, it was during the July war against the Israeli racial aggression of bombing the whole Lebanon. The majority of the people in Lebanon were mobilized to work with each other against a common enemy of the Lebanese; however, certain reports came out that for example Democratic Leftists wont work with this bunch because it has Free Patriotic Movement, or vice versa. Yet, on the ground, mobilization was achieved towards a common end, but eventually they all returned to butcher each other politically after the war ended. The nicest lullabies are between Hassan Nasrallah and Walid Junblatt. The most interesting syndrome was Hezbollah coordinating with the Gay movement Helem (active then within Samidoun) to help the refugees. As I said, everyone worked in one way or another against a common goal.

Violence remains as a threat in Lebanon. Division lines mobilizations always occur, and the Lebanese are divided between two camps, with few left outside the equation to denounce both (and both would denounce back as traitors). Group leaders escalate with a civil war against each other in order to force the ‘others’ submit; however, the other replies back in similar tactics. When things are about to go out of hand, the leaders go on TV asking people to calm down. Probably that is the only time all media channels repeat what all leaders from all the different camps demand. However, at the grassroots level, all are ready to take action, even the others who do not want to take part, would start thinking on a sect level because the others would butcher on sect level, and henceforth things would be complicated. The only complexity would be Aoun-Jaajaa dilemma, which Christian supports who?

(End of Part II)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Investigating Lebanon: Sectarianism and Fear of Other (Part I)

To focus on the Lebanese situation from all sides is very important, I already talked on the political-economical side, I also tackled the issue of Sectarianism as a way whereby politicians mobilize their masses to safeguard their interest. The first thing to adjust, there are no good guys in the current political equation within the political actors (Government = Opposition). Second, politicians receive massive support from foreign sponsors, henceforth making both reactionary camps as undefeatable. The aim is to investigate how sectarianism is mobilized via “fear of the other”. I also already tackled the issue while investigating whether Lebanon has ethnic conflict or Sectarian Conflict with ethnic pattern behavior. In any case, the political elites usually rely on “fear” (same tactic for both types of conflict) and hence mobilization occurs against each other. Lebanon historically has always witnessed two groups colliding against each other, and henceforth, I believe, the fear factor has to be analyzed and applied on Lebanon to have an idea or two on how sectarianism is promoted through 'fear of the other'.


Lake and Rothchild wrote in their article “Containing Fear” as follows: “The widely discussed explanations of ethnic conflict are, at best incomplete and, at worst, simply wrong. Ethnic Conflict is not caused directly by inter-group differences, ‘ancient hatreds’, and centuries-old feuds, or the stresses of modern life within a global economy.”

This is the same perspective on Lebanon. For starters, few people tackled Lebanon’s history, and fewer were able to tackle it objectively. When the Civil War broke out in 1975, a lot of people adopted the hypothesis that Christians and Muslims are butchering each other, due to ancient hatred and frictions which popped out loudly clearer in 1958, 1920, 1860, 1845, 1840, till the Durzi Prince Fakhridean II clashed with other clans. The reality of the situation is that this is not true, ancient hatreds do not last the way some scholars (with neo-con or Orientalist perspectives usually) assume. There has to be a leader mobilizing his/her followers with different symbols. Each clash had its own circumstances and foreign interventions, but reality of the situation is: political elites were depending partly on fear, scapegoat the other, and ambition for clanship territorial expansion on the expense of other. The elites did the mobilizing while the people suffered. The majority who suffered most were the people. A lot of situations included militants executing civilians out of sectarian/racial propaganda conducted by greed. This is not the case always. Harmony existed in a lot of occasions in Lebanon, via trade, interaction, and others.

Ras Beirut for example was considered prior to the breakout of the Civil War as a ‘Diversity Region’. Politicians rarely focused on the theme Lebanese (as the term came legitimate in 1920), and when they did, it was accompanied with the term: “Co-existence among the Lebanese” with one sect/sects-in-alliance focusing that they should be in power. Usually sects agree, when their ‘sect-defenders’ agree, and henceforth, short-run goals are focused, instead the core-problem: preserving the Sect barrier lines. This fact neither Seniora, nor Nasrallah, nor anyone else tackled, rather, focused on institutional reforms to safeguard their own interests, rather the overall collective.

Lake and Rothchild wrote: “We argue instead that intense ethnic conflict is most often caused by collective fears of the future. As groups begin to fear for their safety dangerous and difficult-to-resolve strategic dilemmas arise that contain within them the potential for tremendous violence.”

The Christians, at grassroots level, feared to be overtaken by the PLO back in 1970s. The Shiites currently fear that they would lose whatever privileges they attained socially and politically and would clutch to Hezbollah rather return to post-1970 status. The fear factor can be mobilized to become either self-defense or hating the other for current ‘ambitions’ and henceforth, violence would increase, by proper command by the political elites (Berri – Harriri Jr. – Jaajaa – Aoun – Junblatt – Nasrallah – others).

Lake and Rothchild wrote: “As information failures, problems of credible commitment, and the security dilemma take hold, groups become apprehensive, the state weakens, and conflict becomes more likely. Ethnic activists and political entrepreneurs, operating within groups, build upon those fears of insecurity and polarize society.” Political memories and emotions also magnify these anxieties, driving groups further apart. Together, these between-group and within-group strategic interactions produce a toxic brew of distrust and suspicion that can explode into murderous violence.”

For me, this is the perfect scenario for Lebanon. Party members and youth cadres spread fear among their individuals spread ‘fear of other’ among their sect fellow-ships. Recently, Lebanon even developed ethnic trait between the different Lebanese factions. The government claims that they are fighting for Lebanese sovereignty in the face of elites whose allegiance is not for Lebanon, but for Syria and Iran. The Opposition also spreads fear by accusing that the Government wants to make the Lebanese poor and promote Zionist-Washington led policies. For this, both are probably correct, and both leaders of both camps are corrupt. We have seen in January how an incident in the Arab University exploded through out Lebanon to the extent AMAL and Junblatt’s Durzi Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) placed check-points asking people for their identity cards or location origins.

Causes of Fear

Lake and Rothcild wrote: “Most ethnic groups, most of the time, pursue their interests peacefully through established political channels. But when ethnicity is linked with acute social uncertainty, a history of conflict, and fear of what the future might bring, it emeres as one of the major fault lines among societies fracture. Vesna Pesic, a professor at the University of Belgrade and a peace activist in the former Yugoslavia, says it well: ethnic conflict is caused by the ‘fear of the future, lived through the past’”

Usually politicians stress on previous turmoil within each sect to promote sectarianism and eventually bestow or justify themselves as the defenders of the Sect. The Lebanese Forces, on grass roots level, been scared to be eaten alive by the Muslim community. Aoun preached himself, ala Prince Bashir Shehab II way, that he represents the Christians and they require a powerful Christian leader. The Shiites do not want to lose their political privileges, while the Druze forever remained mostly unified under a single leader as a clan. Last but not least, the Sunnis do not want anything foreign to come upon them, like the PLO did back in 1970. In any case, each coalition (14th of March/Opposition) use their methods on one side of the past to justify the present. The assassinated minister, Pierre Gemayel, told Aoun on TV that the biggest mistake of his father was to bring him to Baabda Palace, during the civil war. The Shiites live in constant propaganda that nobody gives a darn about them and Hezbollah are there to secure their rights. The Christians remember the 100 days war with Syria and continue to be worried about Syrian return, while West Beirut never forgot how Ariel Sharon annihilated it while East Beirut was having its wild nightlife. The fear factor remained strong to divide the Proletariat in Lebanon, and mobilize them politically based on sectarian basis.

Lake and Rothcild wrote: Collective fears of the future arise when states lose their ability to arbitrate between groups or provide credible guarantees of protection for groups. Under this condition, which Barry Posen refers to as ‘emerging anarchy’, physical security becomes of paramount concern. When central authority declines, groups become fearful for their survival. They invest in and prepare for violence, thereby make actual violence possible. State weakness, whether it arises incrementally out of competition between groups or from extremist actively seeking to destroy ethnic peace, is a necessary precondition for violent ethnic conflict to erupt.”

The Lebanese government usually has been considered strong whenever the major sect defenders are within it, or at least approve of it. When Camille Shamoun rigged elections of the parliamentary members, he faced Durzi and Sunni opposition spearheaded by Kamal Junblatt and Saeb Salam, he had to resign. When the Lebanese split regarding the presence of militant Palestinian activists, the PLO coalition, again the Lebanese government was weak. In all situations, however, there have been foreign intervention with Lebanon, with each having their own foreign clients to push for their power struggle agenda.

During the Syrian Mandate, the Lebanese government was strong because most of the political elites were part of the game. The government had some tiny privileges; but overall it was a Syrian satellite government. The political elites mobilized their masses to satisfy the ruthless Baathi regime.

When Rafiq el Harriri was assassinated, everyone expected that the government would be weak, but eventually, the new post 2005 elections cabinet emerged strong. Most of the primary sect leaders were in it and happy. The key players, such as Nasrallah, Berri, Harriri Jr, Jaajaa, Junblatt, and others, made the government strong, despite Aoun’s objections (which are: ‘please make me a Lebanese President). Again, the government became weak when Hezbollah and AMAL refused to enter the political equation, and the government’s weaknesses appeared with Hezbollah breaking through the borders and carrying out an operation against the Israelis. With the Pro-Opposition ministers resigning, the government appeared terribly weak, however with each Sect leader balancing against the opposition, as well as their international allies supporting the government, it remained standing. Nasrallah himself complained on al-Mannar that if it weren’t for the international support, the government would have collapsed.

Now what I have said may sound political, but the core of the strength for all major parties is sectarianism. Aoun reminds his Christian supporters that Jaajaa is not really a Lebanese Christian, and only his supporters are, while Jaajaa’s concept of Lebanese Christian is to oppose Syria by all means possible (even jumping into the laps of the United States). Nasrallah’s propaganda machinery depicts Junblatt and his men as Zionist agents while Junblatt mocks Nasrallah with “what did Ayatollah Khamenei command you today?”. Al-Manar and Future TV broadcast different realities, and their reporters behave as if they are in a war zone while covering the other, and eventually despite the Shiites and the Sunnis claim they have no conflict, they both welcome struggle against each other and blame the other sect for its appearance (or even indorsing it). The propaganda is has been huge, to the extent when riots breakout, they spread quickly with the grassroots participants telling the TV defensive logos: “They attacked us first” or “We are defending Lebanon” or “These militias attacked us and we paid them back”. The fear factor is active heavily.

The Lebanese Civil War between 1984 – 1990 proved correct that Sect orientation is important for political power. In that era, the Christians were no longer bombing ‘Muslim Beirut’ or vice versa. Elie Hobeika and Samir Jaajaa combated each other to take control over East Beirut. AMAL and the PSP, as well as AMAL and Hezbollah butchered each other for dominion over West Beirut and Dahhieh region. Aoun and Jaajaa also bombed each other like no tomorrow. Each was trying to dominate the Sect from a political and regional perspective.

The government can’t arbitrate between the different factions, because they part of a faction, and they are barely capable of balancing against the Opposition, in the face of assassinations, war with Fatah Islam, bombings, and so on. The army so far has been successful not to be labeled as for “Pro-Government” or “Pro-Opposition”, unlike the past “Christians’ dummy actors” (prior and during the Civil War). The fear factor remains strong in mobilizing the different sects against each other for political reasons. Now someone asked me that I should be active in support of this or that faction, just please tell me what is the difference between this or that?

(14th of March Rally, another event with Sectarian line-up)

Lake and Rothcild wrote: “State weakness may not be obvious to the ethnic groups themselves or external observers. States that use force to repress groups, for instance, may appear strong, but their reliance on manifest coercion rather than legitimate authority more accurately implies weakness.” More important, groups look beyond the present political equipoise to alternative futures when calculating their political strategies. If plausible futures are sufficiently threatening, groups may begin acting today as if the state were in fact weak, setting off processes that would bring the disintegration of the state. Thus, even though the state may appear strong today, concerns that it my not remain tomorrow may be sufficient to ignite fears of physical insecurity and a cycle of ethnic violence.”

Camille Shamoun in the 1950s was called “The Iron Man”. The Christians also tagged as then as their primary sect defender. When the opposition grew strong against him because he rigged elections to crush primary feudal sect lords and renewing his mandate despite cadre opposition, he mobilized the army. When he tried to mobilize the army, he appeared weak, specially when the Lebanese Army refuted to be part of the clashes between the Christian parties (Ahhrar - Phalange) along with the SSNP, in face of Kamal Junblatt and Saeb Salam.

In 1970, the Lebanese Army was strong and united, but due to the confrontations with the PLO which triggered the 1969 Cairo Agreement, the Lebanese Army appeared. By then, the Lebanese Army was viewed as a tool to the Christian parties; however, with the arrival of thousands of PLO warriors exiled from Jordan and entered via Syria, along with the Sunni/Jumblatti opposition, the Lebanese Army was regarded weak. Actually, sectarian tensions rose just as Phalange supporters accompanied the Lebanese Army in operations against the PLO (after the assassination of MP Saad in Saida), while Camille Chamoun decided that he needed a more powerful tool to safeguard his interests (which he called the Christians’), which was creating the famous militia: the Tigers. The government itself witnessed Sectarian division lines just as the Sunnis collided with the Christians because Pierre Gemayel (Sr.) refuted to decline one percent of Christian advantage to the other sects.

Now, Hezbollah and Aoun mobilize their supporters from the perspective that the government is non-existent or weak. The government behaves that they are renegades rebelling. The army appeared to be weak due to its incompetence to control both sides from fighting each other (during what Aoun called in January the rise of the real Lebanese). 14th of March and the Opposition supporters both equally complained about the army. The army’s might appeared when they called a curfew after the Arab University encounters while riots spread throughout Lebanon. The Army wasn’t that powerful if Harriri Jr. and Nasrallah begging their supporters to respect the army’s decision (Nasrallah had to issue a fatwa about it). The government currently is so weak that the different Lebanese consider that a new civil war is already cooked and waiting to explode. The different elites still are averting from a civil war (even though they revert to escalations as a means of threat) but neither they nor their foreign clients want a civil war yet for Lebanon.

(Opposition's First open demonstration; another sectarian cook-up)

(End of Part I)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lebanon's Most Unique Dynamics of Power

Taking a look at the situation, it can be nothing but hilarious. For example, two camps always fighting each other for a “real Lebanon” is funny. In fact, I do not recall anything funnier than such claims. Several people (perceived also on the blogs) would attack one camp without approaching his own with its own corruption. They call it “Fighting For Lebanon”. More so, seculars are not welcomed to speak against both sides because it contains certain truths that would disrupt their realities. For example, Hezbollah’s resigned Minister of Labor, Mohammad Fneish, messed up the Palestinians for real in Lebanon by enforcing a law which dictates that Palestinians would be treated as foreigners, hence forth they can’t seek financial aid in universities. Now, 8th of March would not go focus on that detail since Hezbollah is resisting the Israelis. Well, I got news for these people, they are not a resistance movement, they are a political party. Seniora, on the other hand, has messed up badly in the past, specially when he speculated that 5% Value Added Taxes (VAT) would decrease Lebanon’s overall debt by 50%, it simply boasted revenues by 15-20% while 90% of the government’s revenues remained on-going towards covering the interest rates (then). Now, again, why these facts are not highlighted?

The answer is simple, they are not highlighted for the fact that each camp’s blind followers consider this camp as the lesser evil compared to the other. How many times have you heard that “all of them are bunch of thieves but these people are better than those!”? To be exact, some people even take for granted that a new civil war coming, and dividing Lebanon into Cantons is the best solutions, which means that neither camp really loves Lebanon. Co-existence is non-present in Lebanon. Furthermore, one camp would make the other traitor and preach dialogue. Well, we know that certain issues, there will be no dialogue.

The most hilarious thing is for example when 14th of March promote themselves as resistance to Israel, the nation that butchered cold-heartedly 1300 Lebanese, but then their leaders fly to Washington DC to ask for assistance. Actually, they promote a strong state but failed so far (sadly) to protect their own figureheads. 8th of March/Opposition are not that better as well. Let us put it this way, why Aoun suddenly is obsessed that the “people should vote directly for their president” when Hezbollah are his allies? Why Hezbollah celebrate Iran’s holidays? (well we know the answer to that one). Worse, why Bashar el Assad picked up Hezbollah’s military victories over the Israeli Army as if his own (despite the fact Bashar el Assad's real size appeared when two IAF planes flew over his head prior one week to the July War?!

That is one sided story of a Marxist thinking out loud, but if they all love Lebanon so much, can someone tell me why neither the Opposition nor the Government (who both have extensive funding to rebuild the South) didn’t so far even plan to build bomb shelters and emergency devices at the (or at least at the) front villages with Israel to minimize the bloodshed of Lebanese civilians in case another war breaks out? What, UNIFIL, the Lebanese Army, and Hezbollah would protect them against IAF planes and IDF artillery? Shame on all the Lebanese politicians for thinking so low of their people!! Worse, shame on the people who keep them in power!


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Lebanon, towards UN Protectorate Mandate?

With the assassination of Walid Eido taking place, Lebanon has jumped to a new stage of complexity amongst war with Fatah Islam, the highly controversial Jund el Sham, Iranian and Syrian escalation versus US and Israeli hegemony over the Middle East,

Last year in August 2006, Lebanon for the first time almost in two decades witnessed the decent of the Lebanese Army to the South up to the borders. Lebanon’s army going to the South was highly controversial because those who supported the idea meant they were crippling the Resistance. With the Lebanese army, due to UN resolution 1701, over 10,000 UNIFIL soldiers came to South Lebanon to control arms flowing outside the Lebanese Army, primarily Hezbollah. I still insist why UNIFIL are not distributed on the Israeli side as well, since they are breaching UN 1701 on daily basis (bulldozers, shooting at civilians, aerial flights of the Israeli Air Force…etc). Syria threatened to close its borders in case UNIFIL soldiers monitored the Lebanese/Syrian borders, even if the UNIFIL soldiers were standing on the Lebanese side of the borders. Which is ironic judging how Syria excused Israel from rockets falling close to its borders, and raising its hands that “NO it wasn’t on our side!” then they took the credit as the victors of the July war (what gives?!).

This was the beginning of the end of Lebanese Sovereignty which was restored from the ruthless and corrupt Baathi system.

Eventually, with the reactionary Opposition having the Speaker of the Parliament, the Lebanese Parliament didn’t meet since December, ever since the Opposition began their open demonstration. Moving on, the Pro-West reactionary government succeeded, after heavy clashes with the Opposition, to get the UN to agree on establishing the International Tribunal to investigate Rafiq Harriri and others. With that, the government hopes to oust Syria permanently out of Lebanese affairs, or at least to strike a final blow against Hezbollah who publicly celebrate their good relations with Syria, and have financial and religious ties (Vilayat el Faqih) with Iran (both despised by the West).

With the Tribunal fully effective, that was part II of getting Lebanon into the arms of the International Community, while its people are gradually losing sovereignty because the government officials want to secure their interests and sources of income.

Third, with everything crippled on parliamentary and almost governmental level, three ministries have been fully active: Ministry of Interior who keep failing to provide security for the Lebanese. Actually, the Opposition hate the Ministry of Interior since during the July war, a commander of a certain Security Forces served tea to the Israelis. (The Joke goes: Fatah Islam demanded equality to the Israelis and requested that the Ministry of Interior serve tea to them). The Ministry of Interior (along with the Army) have been also behaving in several occasions racist to Palestinians living in the Urban side of Lebanon who are involved in relief work.

The scary part is the Ministry of Finance, which is the child ministry of the late Rafiq Hariri, whose plan to bury Lebanon in the WTO for different reasons. Currently, Minister Az’ur is still fully active with that plan, under 14th of March blessings (including the ‘leftist’ Elias Atallah), and the next couple of meetings, it is anticipated that the Lebanese Parliament would vote for adopting WTO procedures to attain membership and attempt to get rid, in another way, from Syrian Hegemony, while the US would increase their sphere of activity through out Lebanon.

Now, with the assassination of late MP Walid Eido, 14th of March, on the same day, made it clear they are going to ask for assistance from the International Community to monitor and control illegal activity on the Syrian Side, which Syria would react by closing borders. This is one messed up scenario, I sense we are almost close to become a UN protectorate while most of the Lebanese preach that a civil war is coming and take it for granted.

Meanwhile, social life has been as slow as ever. With Lebanon gradually becoming the next Iraq in terms of explosives, few people dare to go out of fear that this car parked or that car might carry explosives. Meanwhile Beqaa valley witnessed more arrests as suspected people with acquisition with arms. Now, everywhere is fire and Lebanon is more bi-polar as ever, specially yesterday Hezbollah captured three security forces in Dahhieh region (Beirut Suburbs) and released them later after interrogation. The North witnesses heavy confrontations between the army and Fatah Islam whereby Palestinian citizens, activist volunteers (such as the Red Cross), and Lebanese civilians are paying the price.

Worse, the South is on fire ever since the unknown militants launched two Katyoshas on Kiryat Shmona (Northern Israel). The reactionary government and opposition still clash each other to grab piecemeal profits. Seems that Lebanon would become the next target as a UN mandate protectorate. Personally I cant tell the difference between the government and the opposition.

Welcome to Lebanon, need a guide? Make sure that guide got militia contacts!

Militants launch two rockets on Israel

According to the Radio, unknown militants launched two rockets from either from Taybi or Adsi (South)towards Karyat Shmona. Rumors spread that unknown militants tat are Palestinians. According to al-Jazeera, they contacted Hezbollah and Hezbollah denied to have any participation in the matter. The Media and the people wait the UNIFIL and Lebanese Army to issue a statement. A third rocket was prepared to be launched was allocated. There are no human casualties from the Israeli side, and this is the first time since the July war 2 rockets propagate from Lebanon to Israel. Hezbollah usually adopt the operations when they launch the Katyoshas, so what is going on?! The Israelis just confirmed that two rockets, source from Lebanon, hit their locations... the question goes: Does Israel has a round II plan to bomb the hell of Lebanon again?!

Now Lebanon has four on-going issues:

1) The International Tribunal

2) Nahr el Bared events

3) Government and Opposition betraying the Proletariat

4) The unknown rockets

What's next?

Update: Israel till now, argued that if Hezbollah launched the Rockets, this means the UN resolution 1701 was breached, which will trigger a retaliation similar to last year (not that Isreal didn't abuse UN 1701 with all the aerial flights, IAF planes are even flying above Nahr el Bared). If it was not Hezbollah, then they will regard it as a third person trying to push for a new war between the two parties (meaning Lebanon + Hezbollah since the stupid Zionists do not tell the difference and Israel) .

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bomb in Manara -Hamam al-Askari exploded! MP Walid Eido Dead!

Update: According to Arabiyya, 10 people dead and 20 wounded, ambulance sirens been moving down my house all day

Whoever this is, definitely is trying to bring forth the Iraqi situation to Lebanon. Terrorist acts, Sunni-Versus Shiites, foreign intervention by US and its allies, Syria, Iran, ... Situation sucks


Update! Future TV just announced the Parliament Member of 14th of March/Future Block has been assassinated, along with his son, and two of his bodyguards. This offensive is clearly restorted the Pre-Fatah Islam Political Assassination. This activity is different than the latter ones we have witnessed. More Turmoil spreads its wings deeper into Lebanon! Two more civilians are still unidentified, all wounded and deceased are in the AUH Hospital.

Either someone is triggering a collision between the government and opposition. As I said earlier, it can be anyone.

As I speak,20 minutes ago my house's foundation shock. I do not know who of my friends are down there (because my friends are meeting there today at this time). But I write, a car loaded with explosives blew up into kingdowm, wounding 10 people and five people killed (and I hope the ones I know are not among them).

The series of explosives have exploded industrial areas through out Lebanon ever since the war with the terrorist organization began. First was ABC in Ashrafieh, a gigantic mall, the second was in Verdun, a location of hotels, trade centers, and restaurants. The third was in Alley (clearly a surprise then because it was outside Beirut). Others were in industrial location of Kisirwan.

Walid Eido hangs out there on daily basis. Everyone knows he hangs out there, so we are not sure if he was on the list or not (reviving the political assassinations prior to war with Fatah Islam).

Earlier through out the week, a bomb was dislocated at a beach entrance in Tyre. Everyone knew Rawshi, Hamra, Monot, Gemayzi, and large educational facilities are targets. Tyre was suspected, my cousins went to Sporting Beach earlier today, and told me that security has been minimum as well. What is wrong with the Internal Security Forces?! el- Hamam el Askri was a hotspot. This sucks, already Jana Nasrallah, Reporter of Annahar, reported how Tareeq el Jdeedi and Gemayzi are doing their own patrols rather trusting the government.

Worse, we do not know who is behind these terrorist acts, and this one makes it controversial. Was Eido targeted in specific or the area because of its huge cafes and location of offices? The second question is, will we replace the security forces with communal patrols? The situation seems dark, and nothing but dark!

This is our new trend of life. Worry at every car parked, worrying if this car is loaded with explosives or not. Fear has locked most of the people in their houses, and citizens are dying. Two Red Cross volunteers were killed by Fatah Islam in the Nahr el Bared couple of days ago, but we do not know if they are behind those explosives. Worse, we do not know if it is the same group behind these explosions. Lebanon is bleeding, now politicians will go scapegoating each other in scoring couple of political points within this pethatic disgusting ugly bi-polarity within the government and opposition. Worse we would have Arab and international leaders denouncing the attacks and as far as we know, half of them can have a direct or indirect hand in it (George Bush, Olmert, Assad Jr., Ahmadinejad, others). Bolton already said at Marcel Ghannem the Arab leaders encouraged Israel to bomb Hezbollah (which ended up bombing the whole Lebanon). Moreover, everyone is a suspect, and I really mean EVERYONE.

Welcome to New Lebanon, the Lebanon of fear!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tribunals, Trials and Tribulations in Lebanon?- Laurie King-Irani

Good article regarding the Tribunal in relation to domestic, regional, and international actors, check it out here...

Dr. Marcy Newman's Blog

Check out Dr. Newman's blog to see the other side of the scenario in Lebanon, she has been on the field.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Bush and the Lebanese Army

Bush lately mentions how the Lebanese Army is "bravely" fighting terrorism, and denounced any attack on the Army. Question, how come Bush never denounced Israeli attacks and bombardment of the Lebanese Army last July when Israel bombed the hell out of the Lebanese Army, and told the world: "They are Hezbollah targets"

Corpwatch: Trademarking Coffee: Starbucks cuts Ethiopia deal

Check the article here

To those "revolutionary leftists", don't make me laugh by parking in Star Bucks , next Dunkin Donuts would be also called "Comrade"

To the Shores of Tripoli - by Uri Avnery

(MFL notes: interesting article to read, location found here

THE BLOODY battles that have erupted around the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp near Tripoli in Lebanon remind us that the refugee problem has not disappeared. On the contrary, 60 years after the "Nakba", the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948, it is again the center of attention throughout the world.

This is an open wound. Anyone who imagines that a solution to the Israel-Arab conflict is possible without healing this wound is deluding himself.

From Tripoli to Sderot, from Riyadh to Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugee problem continues to cast its shadow across the whole region. This week, the media were again full of photos of Israeli and Palestinian refugees fleeing from their homes and of mothers mourning the death of their loved ones in Hebrew and Arabic - as if nothing had changed since 1948.

THE ORDINARY Israeli shrugs his shoulders when confronted with the suffering of the Palestinian refugees and dismisses it with five words: "They brought it on themselves."

Learned professors and market vendors repeat that the Palestinians caused their own downfall when, in 1947, they rejected the Partition Plan of the United Nations and started a war to annihilate the Jewish community in the country.

That is a deeply rooted myth, one of the basic myths of Israeli consciousness. But it is far from reflecting what really happened.

First of all, because at that time there did not even exist a Palestinian national leadership which could take a decision.

In the Arab Revolt of 1935 to 1939 ("the troubles" in Israeli parlance), the Grand Mufti, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, then the leader of the Palestinian Arabs, had most of the prominent Palestinians who did not accept his authority killed. He then fled the country and the remaining Palestinian leaders were exiled by the British to a remote island.

When the hour of destiny struck and the UN adopted the partition resolution, there was no Palestinian leadership capable of deciding one way or the other. Instead, the leaders of the neighboring Arab states decided to send their armies into the country once the British Mandate had come to an end.

True, the masses of the Palestinian people opposed the partition plan. They believed that all of Palestine was their patrimony, and that the Jews, almost all of whom had recently arrived, did not have any right to it. The more so, since the UN plan gave the Jews, then only a third of the population, 55% of the country. Even in this territory, the Arabs constituted 40% of the inhabitants.

(In fairness it should be mentioned that the territory allotted to the Jews included the Negev - a huge desert that was desolate then and has mostly remained so to this day.)

The Jewish side did indeed accept the UN decision - but only in appearance. In secret meetings, David Ben-Gurion did not hide his intention to take the first opportunity to enlarge the territory allotted to the Jewish state and to assure an overwhelming Jewish majority in it. The war of 1948, which was started by the Arab side, created an opportunity to realize both aims: Israel grew from 55% to 78% of the country, and this territory was emptied of most of its Arab inhabitants. Many of them fled the terrors of war, many others were driven out by us. Almost none were allowed to return after the war.

In the course of the war, some 750,000 Palestinians became refugees. Natural increase doubles their number every 18 years, so they are now approaching five million.

That is an immense human tragedy, a humanitarian issue and a political problem. For long periods it seemed that the problem would disappear by itself with the passing of time, but it has repeatedly reared its head again.

MANY PARTIES have exploited the problem for their own ends. Various Arab regimes have at times tried to hitch their wagon to it.

The fate of the refugees varies from country to country. Jordan has accorded them citizenship, yet has kept many of them in miserable camps. The Lebanese have not given the refugees any civil rights at all, and have committed several massacres. Almost all Palestinian leaders demand the implementation of UN resolution 194 which was adopted 59 years ago and which promised the refugees a return to their homes as peaceful citizens.

Few noticed that the Right of Return has served successive Israeli governments as a pretext to reject all peace initiatives. The return of five million refugees would mean the end of Israel as a state with a solid Jewish majority and turn it into a bi-national state - something that arouses the adamant opposition of a minimum of 99.99% of the Israeli-Jewish public.

This has to be realized if one is to understand the way Israelis view peace. An ordinary Israeli, even a decent person who sincerely desires peace, tells himself: the Arabs will never give up the Right of Return, therefore there is no chance for peace, and it isn't worthwhile even to start doing anything about it.

THUS, PARADOXICALLY, the refugee problem has turned into an instrument for those Israelis who oppose any peace based on compromise. They rely on the fact that almost no Arab leader would dare to give up the Right of Return openly. In private conversations, many Arab leaders recognize that the return is impossible, but they dare not say so openly. To do so would mean political suicide - just as announcing a readiness to take back refugees would be suicidal for an Israeli politician.

In spite of this, a subterranean shift has taken place in recent years on the Arab side. There have been hints that Israel's demographic problem cannot be ignored. Here and there, creative solutions have been proposed. (Once, in a public meeting of Gush Shalom, a Palestinian representative said: "Today, the Arab minority constitutes 20% of Israel's citizens. So let us agree that for every 80 new Jewish immigrants coming to the country, 20 Palestinian refugees will be allowed to return. In such a way, the present proportion would be maintained." The public reacted enthusiastically.)

NOW, A REVOLUTIONARY development has taken place. The Arab League has offered Israel a peace plan: all 22 Arab states would recognize Israel and establish diplomatic and economic relations with it, in return for Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The offer did not ignore the refugee problem. It mentioned UN resolution 194, but added a qualification of fundamental importance: that the solution would be reached "by agreement" between the two parties. In other words: Israel would have the right of veto over refugees returning to Israeli territory.

This put the Israeli government in a difficult position. If the Israeli public understood that the entire Arab world was offering a comprehensive peace agreement without the actual realization of the Right of Return, they might accept it gladly. Therefore, everything was done to obscure the decisive word. The guided (and misguided) Israeli media emphasized the plan's mention of Resolution 194 and played down the talk of an "agreed upon" solution.

The government treated the Arab offer with manifest disdain, but nevertheless tried to derive advantage from it. Ehud Olmert announced his readiness to talk with an Arab delegation - provided that it did not consist of Egypt and Jordan alone. This way, Olmert and Tzipi Livni hope to attain an important political achievement without paying for it: to compel Saudi Arabia and other states to enter into relations with Israel. Since there are "no free lunches", the Arabs refused. Nothing came out of the whole affair.

IF SOMEONE had offered Israel this Arab League peace plan on June 4, 1967, a day before the Six-Day War, we would have thought that the Messiah had arrived. Now, our government considers this offer nothing but a clever trick: the Arabs are indeed ready to relinquish the return of the refugees, but want to compel us to give up the occupied territories and to dismantle the settlements.

In a historical perspective, the Arab League is correcting an error it made 40 years ago, which had far-reaching consequences. Soon after the Six-Day War, on September 1, 1967, the heads of the Arab states assembled in Khartoum and decided upon the "Three No's" - No peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, No negotiations with Israel.

One can understand why such a misguided resolution was adopted. The Arab countries had just suffered a humiliating military defeat. They wanted to prove to their peoples and the world that they had not gone down on their knees. They wanted to keep their national dignity. But for the government of Israel, it was a present from heaven.

The resolution freed it from any need to conduct negotiations which might have compelled it to return the territories it had just conquered. It gave the green light for the founding of settlements, an enterprise that continues unhindered to this very day, removing the land from under the feet of the Palestinians. And, of course, it swept the refugee problem from the table.

The new Arab League proposal could repair the damage done to the Palestinian cause at Khartoum. The entire Arab world has now adopted a realistic resolution. From now on, the task is to get the Israeli public to grasp the full meaning of this proposal, and especially its significance concerning the return of the refugees. This task rests on the shoulders of the Israeli peace forces, but also of the Arab leadership.

TO ACHIEVE this goal, the refugee problem must be transferred to the realm of reality. It must undergo a process of de-mystification.

At present, an Israeli sees only a nightmare: five million refugees are waiting to flood Israel. They will demand the return of their lands, on which Israeli towns and villages are now located, and their homes, which have been demolished long ago or in which Israelis are now living. Israel, as a state with a Hebrew majority, will disappear.

This fear must be neutralized, and this wound must be healed. On the psychological level, we must recognize our responsibility for that part of the problem which was actually caused by us. A "Committee for Truth and Reconciliation" could, perhaps, determine the dimensions of this part. For this we must sincerely apologize, as other nations have apologized for injustices committed by them.

On the practical level, the real problem of five million human beings must be solved. All of them will have a right to generous compensation, which will enable them to start a new life any way they wish. Those who want to stay where they are, with the consent of the local government, will have the ability to rebuild the life of their families. Those who want to live in the future State of Palestine, perhaps in the areas cleared of settlements, must receive the necessary international assistance. I, personally, believe that it would be good for us to receive back a certain agreed-upon number of refugees in Israel proper, as a symbolic contribution to the end to the tragedy.

That is neither a dream nor a nightmare. We have already mastered more difficult tasks. It would be much easier and cheaper than to continue a war that has no military solution and no end.

Sixty years ago, a deep wound was opened. Since than it has not healed. It infects our life and endangers our future. It is high time to heal it. That is the lesson of Tripoli in the north and Sderot in the South.

New Site for Nahr elBared Relief Organization

New link of Nahr el Bared Relief Campaign

History: Odre Wingate, Father of the Israeli Defense Forces

(MFL: another chapter from Walid Khalidy's From Conquest to Haven, Chapter 39, whereby I did a summary of an article of how Odre Wingate transformed the Haganah (future IDF) from the defensive to offensive)

Odre Wingate was a British officer who considered himself in a religious quest to restore the ancient glories of the Old Testament. His own superiors disliked his tactics and always kept opposing him, while needed his serves every time the Arabs caused security havoc to the Brits and the Jews. Palestine then was undergoing the great Palestinian Revolution of 1936-1939.

Wingate’s most critical achievement was taking the Jews from the defensive to the offensive. The first time any Jewish platoon entered an offensive position was under Wingate in the campaign against an Arab village called Hanita. The Jews were overthrilled, but the British officials were totally angry because Wingate never told the commanding officer his whereabouts. Second, he broke British protocols which imposed that the British should keep the Hagana on the defensive rather the offensive. His initiatives showed how the Zionists loved Wingate and rushed to use their connections to assist him when he was called to Jerusalem for investigation. He was even coded as “The Friend” in their secret messages along the wire.

Wingate’s tactics gave the Zionists the experience they needed as he merged British and Jewish units into one. He taught them Guerilla Warfare. He preached to the Jews the necessity of building the state of Israel, as he concluded on his own logic that the Jews are lovers of freedom disregarding the whole view point of the Arabs. Wingate is a proof of how successful Zionist propaganda was/is in Europe; however, Wingate ended training the future officers of the Israeli Defense Forces. Wingate’s biased opinion towards the Jews and his obsession with the re-building of Zion in the name of God even challenged the British’s own perspective concerning Night Patrols. All Hagana Commanders trusted Wingate over the British Empire, and David Ben-Gurion displays unlimited gratitude to the builder of the core of the Israeli Army. According to Ben-Gurion, it was due to Wingate’s training that the IDF was established in a matter of 12 days after the declaration of Jewish State.

The Brits didn’t like Wingate’s dedication towards the Zionists, and considered him a risk factor as he showed more motivation towards the Zionists rather the British. In the end, the British sought to control Palestine via the Jews, and not empower the Jews in such a radical manner which threatened their own priority goals in Palestine.


Lebanon , The Drama Continues

For the past couple of days, the Lebanese Army out of the blues entered the camp, while Palestinian refugees are suffering badly, and the ones stuck in the camp are suffering more.

The Lebanese Army, probably since 1975-1976 confrontations, used a military helicopter on the Nahr el Bared Camp, despite all expectations, and the clashes continue.

The entrance of the Lebanese Army has different implications which is till now a win-win situation:

1) The Army winning its front with minimum casualties in its lines promotes what the Capitalist government has been always preaching: One Strong State-One Army

2) This leads to the disarming process, whereby the Palestinian militias should disarm, another arguement by the Seniora government, which would lead to Hezbollah

3) With the army performing brilliantly according to the Lebanese, the notion: "Lebanese Army sole protector of Lebanese and Palestinians on Lebanese Grounds" which slaps Hezbollah in the face. Why the need of Hezbollah according to reactionary 14th of March when the Lebanese Army is present?!

4) Rise of Lebanese Nationalism and Pride, probably this is the first time the Lebanese Army is involved in confrontations which triggered more solidarity to go towards the Government's claims.

5) The Government's policy, in terms of foreign relations, is similar to Fatah in Palestine. What Fatah is doing in Lebanon echoes what is happening to Fatah over there. Fatah militants, with perfect coordination with the Lebanese Army, are supporting a 'face-save' of the Seniora Government. Fatah militants today, according to reports, blocked Fatah el Islam from mingling with Palestinian civilians stuck in the Nahr el Bared. Furthermore, they succeeded in acquiring certain rooftops to prevent Fatah Islam from taking shots on the Lebanese Army, as well as assisting them on taking out Fatah Islam militants.

6) The Lebanese Army in times of desperation while following an International Community blessing would recieve support, as long as the government is made up of the same material as 14th of March.

Fatah Islam sure looks in a very weak position, as people are anticipating its end soon. They tried to escape by the sea, and the Lebanese Army intercepted them via the sea.

A New Front Opened

Now, a new front opened up, in Saida. Jund el Sham after being on high alertness, threw a bomb today. Jund el Sham are supposed to be made up of similar material of Fatah Islam, but allocated in Saida. They are expected to be couple of dozens in numbers and they are allocated in one street within the largest refugee camp known as Ain el Hilwi. It is expected Jund el Sham did that out of solidarity by throwing a grenade on a Lebanese Check Point.

According to a Fatah officer, they are barely about 50 people, and Fatah had several encounters with them in Ain el Hilwi (whereby Fatah is expected to be the most powerful, and Osbat el Ansar to be second in strength). He argued that Fatah el Islam and Jund el Sham have direct links with each other, and somehow Fatah Islam updates Jund el Sham about the situation in Nahr el Bared Camp. His speculation is that they opened a front to attempt to ease off military pressure on Nahr el Bared Camp.

Different confrontations took place between Jund el Sham and the Lebanese Army. Hamas reconfirmed its support to the Lebanese Army, and considered any offensive on the Lebanese Army is the same as attacking the Palestinians. Osbat el Ansar (League of Partisans in Arabic, not to be affiliated with the Partisans' Resistence under Tito's command during WWII)were commissioned by the different Palestinian Parties inside Ain el Hilwi to control Jund el Sham (soldiers of Damascus in Arabic, although Damascus tends to refer towards the Middle East rather the Syrian Capital). It is interesting specially that Jund el Sham and Osbat el Ansar more than once were standing togather as they displayed their muscles and demonstrated togather against what is happening in Nahr el Bared Camp.

Last but not least, I would like to stress on the point that despite their small number, Jund el Sham can actually benefit from the tight streets (if well funded) to really disturb the Army, then hide within the Ain el Hilwi camp.

Fascism has risen between all forms of Nationalist supporters. Whether Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian, Arab, or whatever, they just strive to cancel the other under the logic of hatred and "self-virtuous" of reactionary warriors for a cause.

Meanwhile, 14th of March and 8th of March continue to trash each other. Both are bunch of reactionaries that the people in Lebanon can live EQUALLY better without both of such leaders. Those who support the government or opposition are both reactionary.

A new line of refugees began today from Ain el Hiwli Camp, one of the largest Refugee camps in Lebanon. Refugees are expected to be 650, and people pay the price because of greedy leaders, and extremists.

Last but not least, I would like to stress that both Government and Opposition should not be supported since neither in the Short Run nor in the Long Run anything good would come out of them.