Saturday, February 16, 2008

Heavy Shoot-Out in Beirut (updated minute by minute)

30 minutes ago I was supossed to meet people in Jemayzi when suddenly news popped up that there is a heavy shoot-out between Future Movement and AMAL the time I rushed back home, the shoot-out resulted with three wounded.

15 minutes ago, riots spread between Nuerri, Basta, Burj abi Haydar, Mazra3a

1 minute ago 10:30, a headline pops out on New TV that Hezbollah headquarters recieved four molotov cocktails in ras el Naba'a

The army has been trying to seperate what Bin Jiddo called "incident with heavy shoot-out" .

So what were 14th of March saying? No weaponry but the Lebanese army's? What about the Opposition, only Hezbollah carry "resistance weaponry against Israel?"

10:30 AMAL denies that its militants are participating in this shoot-outs (funny though all areas have extensively AMAL supporters)

This is what I was talking about the escalations the politicians use to bargain their way... damn them all equally...

Whole New TV showed how a group 10 were beating the hell out of two knocked unconsious.. .. the police didnt grab hold of them even though distance was one meter away.... it was disgusting ... 10 youth beating 2 unconscious , then one grabbed a stick and bashed it on someone's head...

10:49 THe army, according to al-Jazeera successfully intervened between the fighters...

This is quiet disturbing, according to New TV video, they are all kids... thank you all politicians...

11:04 Future TV and New TV declare that the clashes are on-going in Barbour, Bshara el Khoury, and Ras el Naba'a

11:07 LBC: vandalism spread... there are five wounded... now the army formed a siege and gradually imposed total control... LBC says that the collisions occured between AMAL/Hezbollah supporters from one side, and Future from another

11:08 New TV: Hezbollah deny that one of their buildings was burnt down

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The New Shadows of War: Civil War or War with Israel?

As things are getting entangled, the situation is reaching critical stages for a gigantic political explosion. The stage is set for confrontations. As both sides escalated, now we are ready to see the return of 1975. However, the circumstances today are not the same as Amin Gemayel said it was. Bashir Gemayel is never related to 14th of March and Amin Gemayel seems to forget that his father used to send him secretly to the Syrians while his brother went to Israel. Nor Walid Junblatt will ever forget how Amin Gemayel attempted to assassinate him. Actually his speech burns Walid Junblatt and the Future Movement. While he was sitting relaxed electing his brother as a President, West Beirut (the PSP and the Sunnis were under heavy bombardment from Israeli tanks while the Lebanese Forces hailed them).

As Junblatt divorced co-existence with Hezbollah in front of an audience that was more than 1.2 million, Nasrallah retaliated that Walid Junblatt is the one who should leave the country to his masters in the USA and Tel Aviv. While the political elites spoke of an anti-Syrian traitors, Saad Hariri spoke of reconciliation and tried to open a hand to everyone amidst his offensive on Syria.

The man to steal away the glories of what is supposedly be 1.5 million 14th of Marchers is Hassan Nasrallah in the burial of Imad Moghnieh. He bluntly told Junblatt that the Party of God is here to stay, and he should leave if he cannot tolerate co-existence. Second, Nasrallah (like in the interview with Aoun on O-TV) reassured us of a new war. In fact, the war with Israel is no longer a war of liberating the Sheba’a farms, rather it is a war of destroying Israel once and for all. Henceforth, instead of worrying about a civil war, we have to anticipate a new war with the Zionists. Actually, Nasrallah waged an open war on Israel that is no longer existent on Lebanese soil since Imad Moghnieh was killed outside Lebanon. Henceforth, any offensive against the Israeli diplomats anywhere can be easily tagged as “Hezbollah offensive”. Hence, we can have Israel airplanes bombing us anytime and any place. In fact, Israel’s logic of “pre-emptive strikes” can bomb us in this very second. Now, the war is open anywhere and any place. More importantly, Nasrallah openly shrank Walid Junblatt to a Zionist agent for the first time, and we all know that Nasrallah by his followers is regarded as “God-Sent.”

While Jaajaa and others during the 14th of March attacked the Opposition as Syrian agents funded by Iran, and they will never step down. Saad Hariri promised the Lebanese “the President is coming, and he is Michel Suleiman.” No matter what, they will never step down against the Opposition. Hezbollah were targeted mostly from the Lebanese side.

Nasrallah replied simply that the resistance is staying, and Lebanon will always be a country of “resistance.” Hence we are trapped in this fiasco between two giants that will demolish each other while Israel will be bombing the hell out of us and Syria will be sharpening its claws again to enter as “deterrent forces”.

Today 14th of March escalated in general with Hariri playing partly a good cop, but Nasrallah retaliated by increasing his escalations towards the 14th of March. Nasrallah’s tone reminds us of the Nasrallah we saw on TV during the July War. The militant tone, the threats, and above all the open war declared on Israel, while 14th of March are still insisting on their stands, this tells us that we are stuck between two giants that would lead us to our own deaths. The bells of war have struck. Despite the fact that Nasrallah insisted that this country will not be violated nor its internal integrity (ambiguous if he was referring to the Opposition or Lebanon as a whole) but his repetition of “Lebanon Baqi (translation: Lebanon is Staying)” three times in the imitation of Saad Hariri as if to send a signal to the government that he too means business. Nasrallah may have promised peace in the short-run, but we have plenty of wars coming towards us.

The memory Rafiq el Hariri has been transformed to a threat of a new war with a racial country. While both camps spoke of resistance and victorious battle fronts (Nahr el Bared war for 14th of March, The July War for the Opposition), the line is clear. The Head of the Army is now openly a 14th of March candidate, while Archbishop Sfair is also officially a newly acquired 14th of Marcher.

We have the shadows of a civil war, we have the shadows of a war with Israel, and the party leaders do not care about their people. This is a doomed failed nation… it will never have peace and stability. I have to be clear regarding one final note regarding Nasrallah’s Open war, it doesn’t include Israel alone, rather the whole Zionists as well.

The policy of escalations will no longer be fruitful, now we are arriving to a “no-return” except through an armed war explosion. Just when I thought my family can enjoy a peaceful normal life since they sacrificed their golden years to raise us under 17 years of a civil war.

I hope the High Relief Commission is this time prepared for disasters.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Whose Freedom they are defending? Not the People's!

The current situation is that the two coalitions of Lebanon, government and opposition, has its basis with cowards who have been involved in safe-guarding themselves through riots rather through seeking the interests of the people as a whole.

For quiet a while, the tides switched and the opposition has been bombarding the government again with all forms of accusations, while only one barking insane politician was speaking in a God-like manner. His name is We’am Wahhab. While the opposition accused the government of being US made, We’am Wahhab has been issuing threats such as “ we will throw them out in the sea if they proceed with the 50 + 1 % vote” or “if they wont listen to us, through arms we will send them to the USA” or others. Of course, he attacked severely the trio leaders of the 14th of March, Jaajaa, Hariri, and Junblatt. While other Opposition leaders been aggressive, such as Hezbollah’s Raad and Qassem, We’am Wahhab got the special attention because he is regarded as Syria’s greatest puppy.

The government, to cover its own blunders, retaliated on all the figures through attacking Syria and Iran’s interventions on the Opposition. However, the government was viewed passive because they simply repeated the same accusations, while the opposition bluntly shoved Archbishop Sfair 100% into the Governments’ hands. He has been pro-14th of March, but now he is officially a 14th of Marcher Cadre, like Mufti Qabbani. Ever since the Opposition resorted to block the streets on January, the opposition remained threatening to escalate, primarily, Aoun hinted to different meetings aimed to coordinate such plans unless we take Wahhab’s threats for real.

Ever since this January, “electricity riots” through out different areas of Beirut and Baabda – Alley districts, the government remained with its traditional line of accusations. As 14th of February approached, the government had to step up its tone in order to guarantee maximum participation on the day Rafiq Hariri was assassinated. For starters, Hariri’s Sunni warriors now shoot in the open air at Tareeq el Jadeedi whenever Hariri speaks, hence mimicking Hezbollah’s supporters whenever Nasrallah speaks. Party collisions been breaking on sensitive areas at night; however, the media been playing a role in not reporting the details of those fights. For example, few people knew that last week Future Station received a sound grenade, or a shoot-out occurred in Tariq – el Jadeedi two Saturdays ago, or last Saturday fist to fist fights took place on Basta between pro-parties supporters in Basta. This at least is a positive step.

Yet, 14th of February is approaching. The government has to escalate its tone of threatening. Hariri was blunt to say that he will counter any offensive if that takes place. Junblatt went as far as saying that his “party members will burn everything” if a war comes out. Actually, the step-up scared a lot of people, but that is what the 14th of March supporters need to listen to be mobilized. Hariri toured Northern Lebanon and announced he will place 53 Million dollars to be placed on constructing facilities that will assist the people of the North, mainly where there are 14th of March supporters. After all, Ahmad Fatfat made it in Dunnieh.

The media, specially Future TV, been behaving as if it is in a war zone. The war is against terrorist Syria. Anyone who does not go to the 14th of February is a Syrian Agent. Anyone who doesn’t go to 14th of February is abandoning the “martyrs”. Actually, anyone who doesn’t go down is not defending Lebanon and Syria for sure will return. This attempt to attain maximum mobilizations is taking place with the attempt of replicating the situation of 14th of March 3 years ago. People feel they are in a war zone. We’am Wahhab of course was thrilled because he can finally “send a missile on Junblatt’s sleeping room if the war breaks out.”

When Omre Moussa failed again to reach a national reconciliation, one reporter asked him: “Why are you trying to seek reconciliation on the local level if the outside nations are in disagreement? Try to get them to agree instead the local leaders.”

Meanwhile, Aoun and Nasrallah wanted to assure their audiences that the historical “Christian and Muslim” alliance stands and they both appeared together in an interview at Aoun’s newly born TV Channel “O-TV”. This move actually boasted O-TV’s ratings because this historic interview was the first of its kind in Lebanon’s history whereby having the most powerful two leaders of the opposition sit together in the same room answering questions. However, this interview will be historical because history will remember Aoun as the weaker link between the two. Everyone noticed, except for few Aounis, how Aoun looked at Nasrallah and gave him the look: “Did I say that right?”

The Aounis to counter the government’s accusations decided to follow 14th of March’s logic during Matn elections of 2007: give flowers during 14th of February. The tactic is not that smart because it was clear they wanted to play the martyr’s role and end up beaten during the massive event.

While escalations reveal the greediness of both coalitions, people say now: “let them vote a president and let us get on with our lives.” Is that the case? The whole situation started with the break-down of the 2005 national government due to question of Hezbollah’s arms and the political assassinations. Afterwards, the issue of the corruption and national reconciliation government arrived, and eventually, the case of the presidential case. Of course, with the course of events, accusations of treason were accompanied on both sides.

Now, the question for 14th of Marchers, their logo say: our “martyrs”. Does this mean that the 1300 martyrs from Israeli racial brutality during two Julies ago are not included? What does that make the regular citizens who died in that war? Or they don’t count because they are not part of the suspected Syrian assassinations?

Yesterday night, a Hezbollah general was assassinated in Damascus and Israel is accused. Imad Moghnieh was associated with the killing of the US Marines 25 years ago. Hezbollah announced today on their Manar TV that tomorrow is his burial ceremony and honoring which again coincides with 14th of February. Samir Franjieh, whether unaware or not, said that they should and tomorrow should be national mourning day for everyone.

Nevertheless, I would like to be honest, in this entire fiasco of cowards’ symphonies, We’am Wahhab should be the first to be locked up, and taken away from media. Even though he is such a comical character, but I sure wouldn’t mind slap him if I see him.

This is no longer a war against Israel, this is no longer a war for Independence, this is a war of cancellation. Tomorrow, probably a million will go down to the streets of Martyrs’ Square, despite the fact great riots are feared to erupt if a “mysterious sniper” shoots at the crowd. More to the point, Hariri coronated the Lebanese Army and the Lebanese Interior Security Forces as the primary defenders of the real Lebanese (according to his perspective) against possible Syrian forces.

Let us hope no more civilians would die for their politicians’ greed….

I would like to end quotations from articles written by Fawwaz Traboulsi in 2006:

In December 2006: Fawwaz Traboulsi, in his article On Naming Issues with its Names, wrote the following: “

The summary of the issue, which calls for deep worries, is that this sectarian system returned to confirm again that it is a system of “lacking space”. This system will remain lacking space till infinity. Its sects and streams can’t fit in it, and each group seeks to trick the Ta’ef Accord and the Constitution as each claims its commitment to this or that while arrogantly saying that nothing needs reconsidering.

This is the same system confirming that it can’t fit people. It forces people to shove its demands and interests (if admitted to it rights) from the needle of Sects’ rights and its shares?

Then how can the distribution of interests, services, and shares occur in the first place in a situation where there is nothing to distribute but the debts (MFL notes: national debt). Specially that the leaders of the Sects’ expertise are to distribute (and a huge section of the economists are not involved except to raise moral to the extent of prosperity). So who cares about wealth production and distributing it in a fairer manner among the entire Lebanese?

This is no longer a joke. The moment of truth has come (the other does not cancel the need to know truth which is on your mind) (MFL notes: Dr. Traboulsi refers to the demanded Truth by 14th of March in a satire manner). Till now, the Lebanese system solved its crises by changing people’s mentality via killing and displacement or the marginalized groups impose itself through force and foreign relations show-off. Will this occur again?”

Fawaz Traboulsi on November 25 2006, in his article “The Two Independeces: Lessons and History”, wrote:

We have to admit also that the Lebanese have sought for the request of aid, or weaponry, and occasionally both together in order to impose themselves on the political (and economic as well as social) system which is isolated and alienating. This system refutes to distinguish the essence of belonging, rights, and what ought to be. We can even say that the Political and Social promotion of the larger sections of the Lebanese groups is accomplished when this promotion imposes itself through violence and the quest of help from the outside on the monopolists of power and money. Hence, we can look at the bloody crisis of 1958 as it was means whereby the Sunni (and Durzi to some extent) elites expressed themselves in terms of participation in political life. This perspective can be used also on the latest civil war (1975-1990) which was the means which the Shiite elites arrived into participating and accomplished change of balance between the Muslims and Christians in positions of political authority.

Till now, we lost twice the battle for independence, or to be exact, we lost two battles for independence in the same year (and still going). The leaders of the 2005 independence against “Syrian Presence” have forgotten there is an Israeli enemy and didn’t notice that it reflects the strength of the United States empire after 9/11. As for the leaders of the May 2000 independence and July 2006 from resisting the Israeli aggression and liberation, did not succeed in convincing the rest of the Lebanese about their independence from Syria in their context of “friendship”. The invitation towards a national unity government has been deactivated by both teams because there are dictations of the by the external sponsor towards the other team. It is as if confirming that the external dictations are a destined fate on Lebanese politics while the Lebanese politicians “have their bodies made of diamonds” can’t accept the dictations of this team or that.””

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Carnival of Socialism is back!!

It is of great pleasure to announce to my readers that the Carnival of Socialism is back, and its relaunchment couldnt have been better than The Daily (May Be).

The importance of this red carnival is it opens doors on the different heavily involved bloggers through out the world, and makes the world smaller for activists to know each other.

Axis of Evil spreads humor throughout region

Local comedians benefit from buzz generated by American stand-up trio's recent tour of Middle East
By Hassan Abdo and Christian Porth
Special to The Daily Star
Saturday, February 02, 2008

taken from here

JOUNIEH: "It's so nice to be in Beirut, because we've been censored in all other countries," said Ahmed Ahmed in his opening gambit at the Casino du Liban in December. After that first remark, Ahmed let loose a string of expletives, his curses as humorous to the audience as they were cathartic to the performer.

Ahmed represents one-third of the popular comedy troupe Axis of Evil, which wrapped up the last leg of its regional tour with a five-night stint at the venue north of Beirut following performances in Amman, Cairo, Dubai and Kuwait. In the months since, the Axis of Evil gigs have had a notable knock-on effect for Lebanon's local stand-up comedy scene.

The term "axis of evil" was first coined back in 2002. In his annual "State of the Union" address, US President George W. Bush asserted to Congress and the American people that Iran, Iraq and North Korea represented an "axis of evil" that was threatening to undermine world peace.

"It's taking a term we felt was silly and we're twisting it on its head," said another member of the comedy troupe, Maz Jobrani, who is of Iranian ancestry.

Axis of Evil is composed of Ahmed, Jobrani and Aron Kader - all Americans of Middle Eastern decent. For their five-night engagement at Casino du Liban, they were joined onstage by Won Ho Chung, who is of South Korean and Filipino ancestry and speaks fluent Arabic, and by Lebanon's own Nimr Abu Nassar.

It is said that laughter is the best medicine, and in times of political crisis, when the situation in the country leaves people with little to laugh about, a good dose of stand-up comedy may be just what the doctor ordered. The Axis of Evil comedy tour that swept through Lebanon in December drew in crowds by the thousands. The trio of stand-up comedians performed before a sold-out crowd each and every night.

According to Tarek Sikias of the Lebanese production company 2U2C, which produced the Axis of Evil appearance, the show was a huge success and sold over 5,000 tickets for five nights. The comedy routine had originally been scheduled for three nights only, but the organizers added two additional performances to meet the demand for tickets.

The Egyptian-born Ahmed, who also served as the show's host, said that in addition to the comedy tour, the group was also shooting a documentary designed for Western - specifically American - audiences. The aim of the documentary was to highlight the tour's message: "The rest of the world can laugh with us."

Although stand-up comedy existed in Lebanon before Axis of Evil took to the stage, it has benefited handsomely from the success and buzz of the December tour. Now local comedians such as Nimr Abu Nassar have no problem packing the house at local venues such as Gemmayzeh's Bar Louie to lay down jokes about everything from politics to sex.

In fact, Lebanon is arguably the only country in the Middle East that has a robust stand-up-comedy scene. According to Abu Nassar, the king of Lebanese stand-up comedy, the Axis of Evil show "gave us a lot of credibility."

"Their showing of support only helped to legitimize the demand for stand-up comedy in Lebanon," he said.

For Abu Nassar, the comedy tour gave him a personal boost. After his appearance at Casino du Liban, he sold out two shows at B018 Classique, near Sodeco Square, in an hour and followed up with a New Year's Eve performance at the Hard Rock Cafe. Now he said he had "a plethora of shows" lined up in the coming months.

The roots of what is known today as stand-up comedy stem primarily from the 1970s, when acts such as Steve Martin, George Carlin and Bill Cosby wowed audiences with their jokes and antics about every possible issue under the sun. New York City proved to be center stage for the comedy scene, where tiny venues like the Comedy Cellar gave local amateurs a chance to test their talent. It was in such places that Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock found their fame.

Today, Lebanon seems to be going through the same transition as local bars and pubs provide platforms for acts such as Abu Nassar's.

Regionally sponsored by the cable television network Showtime Arabia, the Axis of Evil tour also provided the pretext for a talent search across the Middle East. To this end, Showtime held open mic casting sessions throughout the tour.

Two students from the American University of Beirut (AUB), who earlier auditioned on campus for the New York-based comedy troupe, were selected by the Axis of Evil and Showtime to open one of the nights at Casino du Liban.

More than 40 students, mostly from AUB but also from other universities in Lebanon, signed up for the audition. About 20 actually turned up to perform. The two selected students, Arifi Waked, a graduate student in English literature, and Amir Haidar, a rising senior in mathematics, now have the opportunity to work with Showtime Arabia on producing original comedy routines.

Waked, who wears the hijab, said that she started doing stand-up comedy in order "to put a human face to the hijab, and invite people to lighten up the many issues that plague the Middle East."

"Showtime is very excited to be bringing the innovative Axis of Evil comedians to the Middle East for the first time," said Marc-Antoine d'Halluin, Showtime's president and CEO, at a news conference in December.

"This comedy tour, apart from entertaining," he added, "also educates its audiences by breaking down stereotypes and helping change minds."

By satirizing and critiquing all manner of stereotypes and misconceptions that dominate the discourse about the Middle East, the comedians hoped to prove that not only is there a viable market for comedy in the Middle East but also that the comprehension gap between the region and the West is bridgeable.

"It's really sad," said Jobrani. "American comedians never come to this part of the world to perform for the people of the region. They come to entertain American troops."

Although all three members of the comedic trio have roots in the Middle East, their humor is typically American, an offensive, no-holds-barred approach that is unafraid to tackle even the touchiest of subjects.

In fact, all three comedians expressed a degree of apprehension as to whether or not their style of humor would translate locally into laughs. But their worries proved unfounded as audiences roiled with laughter throughout the entire show.

Speaking about the perceived Israeli bias of the mainstream Western media, Kader, the product of a Palestinian father and a Mormon, said: "I'm tired of reading stories in the papers that say something like 'an Israeli tank was scratched by a rock.' Or 'Palestinian attacks Israeli bullets with body.'"

The performance, at least in Lebanon where greater freedoms of expression prevail, was both beautifully and poetically vulgar. "This is not church, we're not at mosque," Ahmed repeatedly reminded the crowd when some of the material touched on sensitive subjects, like religion and politics.

Admittedly, however, it does take an enlightened mind to understand the subtle argumentation in mocking ethnicity and the glorious, equalizing effect that it can provide.

Abu Nassar said unequivocally that they broke down stereotypes and did not reinforce them. "We're making fun of stereotypes we've all come to hate, but they are not true. We all know that," he added.

"To be reinforced they would also have to be justified. No one is justifying them. We are removing the mystery around these beliefs.

"Arabs know a lot about America and Americans. We see American movies, news, we read American books. We understand Americans very well. But Americans have little understanding of Arabs," Abu Nasser said.

"A few Indians got killed in the US after 9/11 because they were wearing turbans. The goal is to address American fears and show them to be unnecessary," he added.

In his final set, Jobrani concluded by issuing a stern, multi-dimensional warning: "Don't always blame Middle Easterners first," he said, "because it's not always us. I mean most of the time it is, but you know what I mean."