Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 10th, 2015


Are sterile shopping malls proof enough of growing gap between rich and poor? Lebanon case

The destruction of cities in Syria and the terror tactics in Iraq are the focus of the world’s attention (at least publically).

In this context it might seem churlish to draw attention to the problems of another city in the Middle East such as Beirut, not currently in the midst of conflict.

The “soft” destruction of Beirut is something that many of its citizens – who have seen their fair share of civil war – are watching with horror.

The greed of Lebanon’s politicians and real estate developers is slowly but surely decomposing the city’s social fabric. The gap between the haves and the have-nots is now wider than ever.

The Souks shopping mall in Beirut

‘The Beirut souks were once a place where the scent of rare spices filled the air. Today, all you can smell in are cleaning detergents and what you hear is ambient music.’ Photograph: Mattia Sobieski/Alamy

To understand the nature of real estate development in Beirut, one needs simply visit the new city centre, which was rebuilt after the civil war (1975-90) by a company called Solidere.

The new centre boasts expensively restored French-era buildings which, apart from some shops and offices, remain eerily empty, “A movie set”, to quote a Canadian film professor.

As for the newly refurbished Beirut souks, they were once a place where merchants haggled and the scent of rare spices filled the air.

Today, all you can smell in this open-air shopping mall are cleaning detergents, and what you hear is ambient music. Hardly a word of Arabic can be heard – even emergency signs are in English. “This could well be Heathrow airport,” noted one British visitor.

The most unsettling thing about the city centre is its “exclusive” aspect.

Although its shops are not necessarily aimed at wealthy visitors (as is often claimed), it is a good Lebanese example of what some have called “hostile architecture”.

Run like a private property, its streets are lined with surveillance cameras and security guards, some with watchdogs. Try to photograph the synagogue or stop in awe in front of an old church and prepare to be swarmed by paranoid guards.

This “hostile architecture” has set a trend across the country, especially among politicians and the ruling class.

While some old aristocratic families, such as the Sursock-Cochranes, have maintained a certain tradition of hospitality and kept their gardens open to the general public, members of the current elite have turned their Beirut residences into veritable fortresses inside the city, squatting public space.

Stories abound about unwitting passers-by being harassed by the private security guards who surround these residences.

While men in power take hold of entire districts, other parts of the city are being gentrified. These include the district of Mar Mikhael, with its charming traditional houses.

A century ago, survivors of the Armenian genocide and their children took refuge here and made their livelihoods from craftsmanship.

For four years, trendy bars and art galleries have been sprouting up next to garages and repair shops, attracting a more affluent, differently educated population. Real estate predators soon followed, destroying some of the traditional houses in favour of oversized luxury towers.

Out of fear of being completely driven away, to the outskirts of the city, the more modestly earning Armenians crossed out the name of the main street in Mar Mikhael and re-named it “Armenia Street”.

The great canyon separating the social classes in Lebanon can be seen in no more spectacular manner than in Mar Mikhael.

On my visit to a trendy art bookstore there, I found a glossy publication in which was gathered articles and work by the glitterati of the Beirut “conceptual art” scene. One feature displayed objects gleaned in a poor Beirut suburb, such as a matchbox and other everyday utensils, as if they were exotic finds in a faraway land of savages.

This could well have been the catalogue of a colonial exhibition in 19th-century Europe.

While trendy districts and luxury projects are beneficial to the economy, could they not be designed to be more inclusive? As the rich and powerful Lebanese barricade themselves in squatted land and gated communities, the poorer population is being confined to the margins and inside refugee camps.

As for the public space in between, it is either slowly disappearing or turned into shopping malls and parking lots. A paradox to be pondered, in a time when new technologies are meant to bring people together.


This US Congress is back to high school status: Prostituting politics?

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the U.S. Senate!

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Congress on March 3rd, 2015.

Standing ovation and frequent standing to applaud plenty of farting statements?

Israeli Prime Minister’s visit inspires bitchy barbs and insults, and nobody came out of this week looking good

Years ago, when I was just starting in this business, I had the privilege to meet a well-known muckraker and columnist. I asked him the secret of his success.

“Two things,” he said.

“One: when you’re hammered after a night out, drink an entire liter of water before you go to bed. An entire liter, do you understand? Otherwise the whole next work day is shot.”

“An entire liter,” I said. “Got it.”

Second, never write about Israel. It just pisses people off. No matter what you say, you lose half your Rolodex.”

I frowned. How he could ignore such an important topic? Didn’t he care?

“Son,” he said, “we’re prostitutes. We don’t enjoy the sex.”

After Netanyahu Speech, Congress Is Officially High School

By March 6, 2015

Mainly by accident, I sort of ended up following that advice, but I did watch the Benjamin Netanyahu speech and its aftermath this week. A few thoughts on one of the more unseemly scenes Congress has cooked up in a while:

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to Congress on March 3rd, 2015. Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty

First of all, the applause from members of the House and Senate was so over the top, it recalled the famous passage in the Gulag Archipelago about the apparatchik approach to a Stalin speech: “Never be the first one to stop clapping.”

Watching it, you’d almost have thought the members were experiencing a similar terror of being caught looking unenthusiastic.

I say almost because in reality, it’s a silly thought, in a democracy: nobody’s getting taken out back and shot for showing boredom.


But then, no kidding at all, a gif apparently showing Rand Paul clapping with insufficient fervor rocketed around social media.

It got enough attention that the Washington Post wrote about it and Paul himself had to issue a statement on Fox and Friends denying he wasn’t clapping really, really hard. “I gave the Prime Minister 50 standing ovations. I co-sponsored bringing him here,” Paul pleaded. Is the Internet age beautiful or what?

But the telescreens weren’t just watching the Republicans. Cameras also captured Nancy Pelosi looking somewhat south of enraptured during the speech.

Those photos only circulated more after she said she was “near tears” because she was saddened by Netanyahu’s speech, which she termed an “insult to the intelligence of the United States.”

This in turn led to more social media avalanching and a cartoonish response from South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who told a donor at a fund-raiser: “Did you see Nancy Pelosi on the floor? Complete disgust. . .If you can get through all the surgeries, there’s disgust!”

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the U.S. Senate!

If Kathy Griffin ever bombs out on Fashion Police, Graham will have a job waiting for him.

After Bloomberg traitorously reported on Graham’s locker-room joke about Pelosi’s face, a storm of criticism from Democrat members raged and the Senator was forced to walk his comments back (“I made a poor attempt at humor,” he said, in what is looking like the go-to lawyer-drafted apology line of our times).

All of this preening and adolescent defiance, all these bitchy homeroom-style barbs and insults: has the U.S. government ever seemed more like high school?

Harry Reid, Benjamin Netanyahu and Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L), and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (R), pose with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington, DC on March 3rd, 2015. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

Indiana Republican Jackie Walorski apparently thinks school’s still in. This is her reacting after Netanyahu’s speech, according to Slate:

“Wooh, baby! That was awesome!”

Around the world, not everyone was so enthused.

Several Israeli diplomats took to Twitter to voice their concerns over Netanyahu’s appearance.

(Everybody tweeted about this speech. There were more Iranian officials on Twitter Tuesday than there were sportswriters at the Super Bowl).

Yigal Caspi, Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland, retweeted a line from an Israeli journalist: “Is it no longer possible to suffice in scaring us here in Hebrew? [Netanyahu] has to fly all the way to the US Congress and tell them in English how dangerous Iran’s nuclear program is?”

Caspi and two other diplomats got the axe for their social media responses to the speech.

Meanwhile, British journalist Jeremy Bowen got caught in the Twitter Punji-trap when he made a comment about Elie Wiesel, the author and Holocaust survivor who sat in the Speaker’s box with Netanyahu’s wife, Sara.

A safe joke to make about Wiesel’s presence probably would have been something along the lines of, “I guess that book Elie was planning on co-writing with Barack Obama is on hold.”

The BBC’s Bowen went in a different direction, bluntly declaring that Netanyahu was “playing the Holocaust card” by bringing the Nobel laureate and camp survivor.

Instantly accused of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, Bowen and the BBC insisted that he was just using “journalistic shorthand,” and that the wording was appropriate because Netanyahu was raising the “spectre of another Holocaust.”

As of this writing, Twitter warriors are still feasting on Bowen’s head and should have him skeletonized by nightfall.

Nobody came out of this week looking good.

Regardless of where you stood on a possible nuclear deal with Iran, the whole episode this week made the American government look like what some in the Iranian press apparently called it: a clown show.

Once upon a time, the opposition party pursuing a second line of foreign policy for domestic political purposes was considered unseemly.

Think candidate Dick Nixon submarining the 1968 Vietnam Peace talks behind LBJ’s back, or the fabled October Surprise conspiracy theory.

This was something one did in secret, preferably in trench coats instead of ties, with no press at all present, unless you count Sy Hersh’s future sources.

But this was like the October Surprise as a pay-per-view MMA event.

That this sleazy scheme was cooked up mainly for the political gain of both the hosts and the speaker (who faces an election in two weeks) was obvious in about a hundred different ways, beginning with the fact that the speech was apparently timed so that Israeli audiences could watch it over dinner.

But the gambit only sort of worked for Netanyahu, whose Likud Party has experienced only a modest bounce since the speech, if it got one at all.

American news outlets humorously had different takes on the same polls showing Likud gaining one or two seats (HuffPo: “Netanyahu’s Popularity Rises After Speech to U.S. Congress: Polls”; Washington Post: “Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress Fails to Jolt Electoral Needle At Home”).

Similarly, if the move had any benefit to the Republicans in congress, it was hard to perceive.

Nobody in the media drew a link between Bibi’s speech and the Republicans’ surrender on the Homeland Security funding bill, but on some level there must have been one.

You can’t invite a foreign leader into the House Gallery to accuse a sitting president of being soft on terrorism in an event covered by 10 million journalists, and then turn around the same week and defund the president’s Homeland Security department over some loony immigration objective.

Even worse, the decision to try to conduct their own foreign policy in the shadow of the White House went over so badly with American voters, it actually gave Barack Obama a 5-point sympathy bump in his approval rating.

Put it all together, and the Republicans’ big rollout this week had to be the most self-defeating political pincer move since the Judean Peoples’ Front sent their Crack Suicide Squad to the rescue in Life of Brian.

This was a week that made everyone look bad: congress, the media, Netanyahu, the Tweeting Supreme Leader in Iran, everyone. Obama only came out looking OK because he mostly stayed off camera and kept his mouth shut.

Mostly, however, it was just a depressing, circus-like demonstration of how schizoid and dysfunctional Washington politics have become.

The logical next step after a caper like this is the opening of Republican and Democratic embassies abroad. Let’s hope it’s a long time before anyone tries this again.

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The Right to Food Safety:

Rights-Based Dialogue as a Springboard towards State-Building

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The stances taken by Lebanon’s Public Health Minister Wael Abou Faour in November 2014 took the country by surprise.

Departing completely from the norm, Abou Faour published lists of actual businesses that have persisted in producing or selling food unfit for consumption, or not conforming to health standards.

Fellow Ministers and others from outside the cabinet criticized Abou Faour, accusing him of adopting a policy of defamation that could have a negative impact on Lebanon’s economy.[1]

In response, Abou Faour argued that it was the state’s duty to warn citizens against looming threats, and therefore, to denounce those businesses even at the risk of ruining their reputation for the sake of public interest.[2]

To support his approach, Abou Faour argued that, due to their practice of influence peddling, some of these businesses wielded more power than the Lebanese state. This suggested that providing citizens with information that would allow them to avoid threats was the least that the state could do, given that its duty to protect them against such threats was a difficult task in the face of powerful vested interests.

Criticism of Abou Faour receded after media and popular support for his initiative grew.

He was emboldened and, along other public administration officials, moved from denunciation to taking practical measures: he shut down businesses and referred them to the public prosecution office. Support for his campaign grew, and suspicion about his credibility or his ability to persevere receded.

Public support fed on Abou Faour’s ability to continue with his campaign and vise versa.

Such a process could enable the state to regain some of its standing and sovereignty, after having been largely weakened and fragmented by the current political system–the regime of sectarian political leaders (zu‘ama’).

From such a perspective, regardless of Abou Faour’s intentions, his initiative sheds important light on the workings of Lebanon’s political system.

It also allows for using “rights-based dialogue” as a means to rebuild a national public opinion. This in turn could represent a step towards rebuilding the state, at a time when authority and sovereignty have become widely sect-based and fragmented.

On November 29, 2014, this was implicitly expressed by Abou Faour after a streak of media successes. He said that he chose to engage in this campaign within the framework of a reasoned confrontation against a “vast network of interests” on his part and on the part of his political party, the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP).

At its core, such a confrontation relied on the support of the “Lebanese public opinion” as a “fundamental ally.” As a result of such support, he added, “Our ambition has grown,” and the aim has become “to open a breach in the political system” and create “new horizons in politics.”[3]

Rights-Based Dialogue as a Gateway to Citizen Integration in State-Building

Abou Faour’s campaign led to the rare coming together of Lebanese media outlets of various leanings in an effort to reflect the concerns and aspirations shared by all segments of Lebanese society, regardless of their sectarian or political affiliation.

The unifying dynamic behind this confluence of coverage was the fundamental notion of citizens’ right to food security, or in other words, their right to life and health.

Some outlets pointed out the [Health] Ministry’s selectivity in dealing with different regions with different sectarian makeup. Yet their efforts remained limited and failed to turn health reform into an object of sectarian bickering.

In the past, fear of particular threats to public well being had often taken on a sectarian dimension or fueled sectarianism. In contrast, the current fear, based on awareness of serious violations of the right to food security, is taking on unifying national characteristics.

The apparent immunity from criticism that Abou Faour enjoyed reflects the importance of the right to food security that was allegedly violated and its precedence over any potential harm as a result of the minister’s policy.

One clear example was the major shift in stance of some cabinet ministers, who had at first opposed this campaign.[4] This signifies a reversal of social priorities, since the rights of citizens are being placed above all other considerations, including the interests of influential parties.

It also increases the legitimacy of the principle that “defamation,” or more accurately in this instance, public denunciation is a right when it becomes a duty.

Notably, Abou Faour not only denounced businesses that committed violations, but also threatened to expose anyone who might intervene to protect them.[5]

The statement made by Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi during a cabinet session on November 27, 2014, which was carried by some media outlets, only reinforced this trend. Rifi said that he would instruct all judges to publish rulings connected to food safety, in order to make an example of violators.

Rifi also made it clear that the judiciary would continue what Abou Faour had started.[6] It should be noted that one public prosecutor, Samer Younes, has for years, but to no avail, been reminding judges of the need to give precedence to food security over business interests, no matter how powerful.[7]

This article makes the tentative argument that the Abou Faour campaign and how it unfolded has shown clearly, and on a large scale, the kind of impact public dialogue could have when it concerns a specific, unifying right.

Not only does such dialogue affect the formation of a national public opinion. It also influences social integration. In lieu of state atrophy or acute sectarian and political division forbidding or marginalizing such dialogue, the latter is in itself likely to strengthen the state and reduce such division.

It would indeed lead citizens to unite around the state in confronting any minority, group-specific or economic influence.

Such a tentative argument faces several objections:

One objection is the claim that the present example remains, to a large extent, an isolated one. Other attempts to give precedence to one right or another, the objection goes, were less effective.

Examples include the cessation of public dialogue over the right of workers to fair wages, initiated in early 2012 by former Labor Minister Charbel Nahas, who later resigned, and the limited influence of human rights groups working in Lebanon. The latter have indeed remained unable to shape and steer public opinion, or confront the prevailing political system.

As important as it might be, this objection seems to be based on weak assumptions. The Abou Faour experience might prompt a reexamination of these assumptions about former efforts of a similar nature, rather than the latter serving as grounds to undermine Abou Faour’s efforts.

Did the Nahas experience with regard to workers’ right to fair wages truly come to an end with his resignation?

Would it not be too hasty to make such an assertion without looking at its contribution to raising the awareness of this right among workers and within public opinion at large?

Would it not be difficult to isolate the movement of public sector employees and teachers to demand the promised wage increases, including the massive protests and marches they held in 2013 and 2014 from the Nahas experience?

What about the struggle of private sector employees?

The most prominent of these was the campaign by the employees of the Spinneys supermarket company in 2012 to establish an independent union which shaped legal and media practice and discourse.

Regardless of the results achieved by those various movements, does the mere fact that they took place in the wake of the Nahas experience not lead us to think of the cumulative effect and impact of such dialogue?

Within such a context, every experience paves the way for the next, expanding and strengthening the framework of dialogue.

It would be a mistake to expect dialogue about the right to a fair wage to have an impact of the same magnitude as the current dialogue about the right to food security.

By its very nature, the right to a fair wage allows for broad social division. Aside from the strong conflict of interest between employers and employees in this regard, society is also divided over the benefits of wage increases in terms of job opportunities and economic growth as a whole.

Those representing capital holders can always raise fears of companies going bankrupt and workers losing their jobs if a wage increase were to be imposed during times of financial crisis.

On the other hand, they cannot, in any way, shape or form, defend the right of restaurants to serve spoiled meat or engage in fraudulent practices. There is also the fact that employees are dependent on their employers.

The desire to demand their right to a wage increase can therefore be balanced out by fear of losing their jobs. Such fears may indeed gain the upper hand when one considers the state of labor unions today, which have become constrained, controlled, and exploited in service of the prevailing political system.

Naturally, consumers find themselves in a radically different position being, in principle, completely independent from traders and importers.

One could therefore say that the outcome of the Nahas experience does not invalidate the tentative argument made by this author. It rather enriches it.

It is only natural for the ability of rights-based campaigns to have a unifying effect and to grow in proportion to the solidity and broadness of the social base that supports them. In this context, the difference between the Nahas experience and the Abou Faour one is one of the capacity to unify, not of the nature of the right in question.

The same reasoning applies to the work of human rights groups.

As significant as the capabilities of such groups might be, they cannot be compared to the massive capabilities wielded by the state. This is especially true as most of them work to promote rights that affect only certain segments of the population–such as women’s rights, the rights of people with disabilities, gay rights, etc.

Yet in spite of this, it would also be a mistake to downplay the importance of these groups’ achievements in terms of social integration.

One of the most prominent examples is the growing public discourse about combating violence against women. In addition to the demonstration led by the NGO KAFA on March 8, 2014, the work done by individual judges displayed a profound involvement with this movement.

Indeed, many of them issued landmark rulings immediately after the ratification in April 2014 of the Law on the Protection of Women and Family Members from Domestic Violence. Public discourse about the right to the truth in the issue of the families of the disappeared also had a significant impact.

The government was ultimately forced to carry out the ruling issued by the State Council to hand over the complete dossier of investigations on the fate of the disappeared to their families.

The second objection to the tentative argument I propose is that the most prominent factor affecting the Abou Faour experience is not the actual discourse that emerged about the right to food security, or the awareness of its importance.

Rather, it is the feelings of terror this public discourse has given rise to, on account of the long lists published by Abou Faour and the variety of sectors involved. The effects of this initiative, the objection goes, are therefore likely to recede as soon as emotions subside and reassurances are made.

According to this point of view, the momentum of interest in this issue may well turn out to be temporary, and ultimately tantamount to a publicity stunt.

This objection, like the preceding one, is likely to add to the tentative argument rather than undermine it. The Abou Faour experience teaches us that the impact of public discourse about a particular right increases, when awareness of its importance is accompanied by strong feelings of the consequences of violating that right, most notably, fear.

This is reminiscent of what Dutch philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, famously said about combating regimes that are based on emotions and interests. According to Spinoza, in order to succeed one cannot rely on rational thought alone, but must make use of equally powerful emotions and interests as well.

This is the source of unifying force of Abou Faour’s initiative. Such an initiative relates to what is clearly and evidently a fundamental right that concerns everyone, without exception.

There can be no justification for violating such a right, and doing so in fact gives rise to fear and only boosts awareness of the importance of protecting it. Moreover, only the state can enable the momentum of this initiative to reach its full extent.

Rights-Based Momentum as a Means to Strengthen the State and Improve Its Performance

As a result of the momentum created by public discourse about the right to food security, the state seems to have gained a greater ability to enforce its laws when confronting influential parties. Abou Faour’s experience and its fallout have also had an impact on a number of cabinet ministers, who seem to have learned how to properly carry out their public responsibilities.

Chief among such initiatives was Minister of Economy Alain Hakim’s decision to shut down a number of labneh (strained yoghurt) factories on November 24, 2014. He also pulled their products from the market for violating legal health conditions, and referred [all violations] to the public prosecution.

Noteworthy as well were the decisions taken by local governors (muhafizin) to put a stop to certain activities, as requested by the Ministry of Health. Chief among those was the governor of Beirut issuing a decision to shut down the Beirut slaughterhouse on November 18, 2014.

More importantly, the Council of Ministers itself took charge of the issue of food security, forming a committee to coordinate the work of several ministries in this regard in its November 27, 2014 session. The government, it argued, cannot wait for an independent food safety commission to be formed, as should be the case following the ratification of the food safety law.

In terms of legislation, there is once again talk of the need to quickly ratify a food safety law. As public opinion recently discovered, a proposal and a draft law [on food safety] have been held up for years in the halls of Parliament. The media covered the issue during this period, basing its news on reports by the head of NGO Consumers Lebanon, Zuheir Berro, and later on statements by concerned cabinet ministers and MPs.

Amid such momentum, Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb referred to the Council of Ministers an animal rights bill the ministry had drawn up years ago, in collaboration with NGO Animals Lebanon.[8] He did this merely a few days after a number of slaughterhouses were shut down, as if his ministry sought to gain some public interest for its bill by voicing similar concerns.

This was also reflected in the statement made by Executive Director of NGO Animals Lebanon, Jason Mier, to Beirut’s daily al-Akhbar. Arguing that the bill had been drawn up for the sake of people’s health and the safety of their food, Mier urged for its ratification at the nearest opportunity. He stressed that this would represent a qualitative shift in the work of slaughterhouses, farms and other facilities dealing with cattle.

Despite the importance of the examples listed above, these official initiatives have so far remained much more procedural than structural, and in the best of cases legislative in nature. Meanwhile, no initiatives have been taken so far on the part of public authorities to strengthen consumer protection associations or improve their capabilities. Similarly, public prosecutors have so far issued no rulings to deter the owners of businesses that committed violations.

What are the Perspectives of Similar Initiatives Within the Lebanese System?

What comes next?

Could institutional reform possibly achieve its goals?

Could this rights-based momentum be used to enact the necessary legislation and activate the oversight apparatus on issues of public health?

Could the standing and role of the state be thereby restored, as MP Mohammad Kabbani urged in a statement on November 20, 2014?

Beyond this, could the issue possibly have a snowball effect?

Could it lead the state to strengthen its oversight apparatus in other fields in which it is no less needed, such as that of welfare institutions? Or, on the contrary, will such discourse die down, even if after some time?

Will the issue of food oversight end up being referred to committees that do not work, are prevented from working, cover up corruption, or are corrupt themselves?

Will the impact of this momentum be merely temporary?

Will it cause no structural change? Will it, at best, pave the way for future confrontations that may prove more effective?

The second outcome is possible even if the food safety law is passed, as the legislative response is seldom sufficient on its own. The history of enforcing the consumer protection law, as well as every other social law, has always been undermined by the interests of traders and importers, which invariably lead to voiding such laws of much of their content.

The fact that the cabinet minister who initiated this campaign, i.e., Abou Faour, is affiliated to a political faction almost organically linked to the network of interests that controls Lebanon’s food supply, increased the likelihood of such a [negative] outcome.

However, raising these skeptical questions misses the point, and perhaps reflects a muddled view of the way reform works. Whether or not the Minister of Public Health perseveres in his efforts is not the point. Much more significant is whether social forces can take advantage of the momentum to strengthen the citizens’ movement in support of food safety and ensure its survival.

Despite the momentum of public discourse, the lack of any social initiative in this regard so far only increases the urgency of the issue.

The will and the intentions of those in power might be difficult to control, but what about ordinary citizens? How can they take advantage of rights-based momentum to develop their capabilities and their defiance, and thereby improve their chances of imposing their fundamental rights on those in power, whoever they may be?

[This article is an edited translation from the Arabic original, both of which were originally published on Legal Agenda].

Note:  Walid Jumblat has an important leverage in the formation of any government. And when he agrees on a policy with the powerful power broker Nabih Berry, Parliament Chairman, things get moving.




March 2015

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