Adonis Diaries

Archive for the ‘Lebanon/Middle East/Near East/Levant’ Category

Total bankruptcy at all levels, government, banks and Central Bank: Even the finance director is forced to resign.

Alain Bifani, le directeur général démissionnaire du ministère des Finances.

“Certains politiciens veulent accaparer l’or, les actifs et propriétés de l’Etat”

Par Newsdesk Libnanews -30 juin 2020

Alain Bifani était l’invité de l’émission “Vision 2030” sur LBCI présentée par Albert Kostanian.

Ce projet de tout accaparer est celui de l’Association des Banques du Liban (ABL) dont l’auteur serait Riad Salamé, le gouverneur de la Banque du Liban (BDL) et qui est, semble-t-il, soutenu par la Commission des Finances et du Budget au Parlement.

Bifani a appelé à la fin du secret bancaire et à une enquête sur les propriétés immobilières au Liban et à l’étranger.

Le directeur général démissionnaire du ministère des Finances a confirmé que sa démission est définitive même si le gouvernement a aujourd’hui reporté d’une semaine son acceptation.

Alain Bifani a rejeté les critiques sur ses calculs de l’impact de la hausse des salaires que certains lui reprochent.

Le haut-fonctionnaire a conclu en disant qu’il est possible de combler le gouffre financier en poussant ceux qui ont profité de la politique financière désastreuse en place depuis 1993 à contribuer.

Il a estimé que les prix augmentent du fait de l’utilisation par la BDL de la planche à billet (impression de livres libanaises).

Selon lui, l’échec actuel du mandat du Président Michel Aoun est dû aux résistances des milieux politico-financiers contre les réformes.

Lire la suite:

A repeat of 1915 famine? Lebanon economic situation

‘People will die within months’:

Is Lebanon heading for famine as Corona pandemic accelerates hunger?

And as the colonial powers, headed by USA, sanctioning Lebanon and Syria economy and financial weak conditions?

Hit by its worst economic crisis in modern history, there are fears the country is about to repeat the 1915-18 famine

Note: Hassan Nasrallah, general secretary of Hezbollah, promised that the organization will never let famine set in. Hezbollah maybe the only organization bringing in dollars into Lebanon. I trust in the promises of Hassan.

Greek former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said:  Lebanese must have the courage to nationalize the banks and restructure the Central Bank, issue a new currency and desist from seeking IMF money…” We have a pseudo-State and a pseudo “citizen” 

The following description of the situation could be accurate from the Pseudo-State perspective of managing the helplessness morale of the 90% of the “citizens”

Mohamad barely looks surprised when his phone vibrates with an update on the devaluation of the Lebanese pound.  

“Great, now my salary is worth $60,” the 30-year-old Syrian economics teacher turned refugee said, shaking his head.

In the past week alone, the Lebanese pound has lost over 40% of its value.

Millions of people are watching their savings and salaries disappear as food inflation hits nearly 200%.

(For example, my retirement monthly wage with the Engineer Order is supposed to be $900. The bank where the money of retirement is deposited is still valued as 1, 350,000 Lira. Practically, with one $ worth 8,000 Lira, my net check is barely $160 today and being devalued repeatedly. Basically, I am receiving 1/6 th of what is my due)

Mohamad stood in the market in Beirut’s Shatila refugee camp, trying to calculate how much food he could afford for himself, his wife and two children.

In the end, he decides on potatoes for dinner: three potatoes sliced up, with half a red pepper and some cucumbers on the side. That would have to be dinner for four.

“Before the dollar crisis, my monthly salary as a freelance accounting assistant would last 15-20 days. Now it’s only enough for five days. I think they will probably make us all leave our jobs at the end of July… my family are already past the minimum that we can survive on. We borrow from the market to eat for the rest of the month.”

Hit by its worst economic crisis in modern history, the Lebanese pound has lost over 80% of its value since October, when nationwide anti-corruption protests began to rock the country.

Despite a decades-long peg of 1,500 to the dollar, people now widely use the black market value of the pound as a reference of the currency’s real worth.

(The Exchange syndicate, legit or not,  is in cohort with the Central Bank and the Banks: They receive the orders and supplies for the exchange rate that devalued to 8,000 Lira to the $)

According to a recent UN report, by the end of April over half of the country was struggling to put the most basic produce on the table as food prices had risen by 56% since October. Preliminary results show that between mid-March and May, they rose by another 50%.

(Actually, all produces and product have more than tripled in price, and the locally prod

Workers wearing protective face masks serve a large crowd of customers at the counter inside a local bakery in Beirut, Lebanon
Workers wearing protective face masks serve a large crowd of customers at the counter inside a local bakery in Beirut, Lebanon CREDIT: Hasan Shaaban /Bloomberg

Accelerated by the pandemic, unemployment is soaring, the value of wages are plummeting and prices continue to skyrocket. Lebanon is also host to around 1.5 million refugees – the most per capita in the world.

And it is no longer refugees and other vulnerable people who are concerned about being able to feed their families as Lebanon’s economic turmoil continues to spiral out of control.

“From aid given by the WFP, refugees could afford some food in the past,” said Martin Keulertz, Assistant Professor in the Food Security Programme at the American University of Beirut.

“They were able to consume some lentils, some labneh and so on, but rarely vegetables. Fruits were difficult and meat was out of the question. What is very concerning is now the majority of Lebanese people are on a similar trajectory,” he said.

Could Lebanon be heading to a repeat of the 1915-18 famine in which the country lost half of the population? “Absolutely,” said Dr Keulertz.

(Germany and Turkey imposed a stop to any import to Lebanon during WWI and hoarded what was still available in foodstuff. Lebanese were forced to go with their mules and donkeys to Syria (Houran province) in order to bring wheat and basic foodstuff)

“By the end of the year, we will see 75% of the population on food handouts, but the question is whether there will be food to hand out.”

“Surely in the new few months we will see a very grave scenario in which people will be starving and people will die from hunger and the knock-on effects of starvation.”

Mohamad Chreim in his butcher's shop
A kilogram of meat in Mohamad Chreim’s butcher’s shop used to cost the equivalent of $11, but now costs $33 as he has been forced to almost triple his prices since October. CREDIT: Abbie Cheeseman

The prospect of widespread hunger in Lebanon also raises increased fears over a second wave of coronavirus, Dr Keulertz explained, as people with compromised immune systems are far more likely to die.

Mohamad is among the more fortunate Syrian refugees in Lebanon in that he still has some work.

According to a survey published last week by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), 3 out of 4 Syrians in Lebanon have lost their job or have no income.

Abdullah Al-Wardat, WFP country director for Lebanon, told the Telegraph that WFP now estimates 83 per cent of the estimated 1.5 million Syrians here are surviving on less than $2.90 per day, the minimum needed for physical survival and a category that is aligned with abject poverty.

After paying rent, Mohamad has the equivalent of $66 to spend on food for his family.

Milk for his children cost $18 before the dollar-crisis began, now even after choosing a lower-quality option, the cheapest he can buy it for is $33. A bag of rice is now $10, sugar is $8. The basic staples he used to be able to buy for those $66 would last his family ten days, now they last two.

Much like the economic collapse, Lebanon has been sliding towards food insecurity for decades.

Crumbling infrastructure, a lack of state investment and political mismanagement have left the agriculture sector contributing just 3% to the annual GDP, despite providing jobs for a quarter of the national workforce.

Like every sector in Lebanon, agriculture is riddled with corruption and powerful traders exploiting both farmers and consumers. Now, coronavirus and the economic crisis have brought Lebanon’s unsustainable approach towards almost every part of its economy crashing down.

The result is that Lebanon imports up to 80% of its food, leaving it vulnerable to price fluctuations and now the collapse of its own currency.

The struggle for food importers is only set to get worse as they are now forced to buy around 80 per cent of their foreign currency for imports on the ever-increasing black market rate, aside from a list of 30 essentials that are subsidised by the government.

There are two initial pillars of food security, explained an official at the UN’s World Food Programme.

Firstly, having enough food in the country and secondly, people having the purchasing power to access it.

Lebanon is facing a double whammy with a hit to both pillars at the same time.

Imports have already dropped by an estimated 50 per cent on last year, said Hani Boshali, president of the Syndicate of Importers of Foodstuffs, Consumer Products and Drinks.

The struggle for food importers is only set to get worse as they are now forced to buy around 80 per cent of their foreign currency for imports on the ever-increasing black market rate.

According to Dr Keulertz, Lebanon needs around $500 million per year for food imports, particularly as only 13 per cent of its land is arable.

“If you do the maths, Lebanon can only feed around 130,000 people per year. The food crisis needs foreign intervention – it is a lot cheaper to save this country than it will be to allow a country that has done Europe a service by hosting refugees to collapse,” the AUB professor said.

Crowds queue to buy bread at a local bakery in Beirut, Lebanon
Crowds queue to buy bread at a local bakery in Beirut, Lebanon CREDIT: Bloomberg

In all corners of the tiny Mediterranean country, the middle class are becoming poor and the poor are sliding into destitution, as food prices are pushed beyond the means of most people.

Sixty-year-old Mohamad Chreim has owned a butcher’s shop in central Beirut for over 40 years. “I was doing well before the crisis, making at least one or two million pounds. I was so busy I wouldn’t stop all day”.

Now Mr Chreim is paying 200,000 pounds per day out of his pocket just to keep his business open. “People who used to buy in kilograms cannot afford meat anymore, so when they come in they buy in the grams.”

A kilogram of meat from Mr Chreim’s shop used to cost the equivalent of $11, but now costs $33 as he has been forced to almost triple his prices since October.

“If the economic crisis continues, who knows, I may not be able to open tomorrow. I am paying out of my own pocket to stay open because I’ll be depressed if I stay at home”.

Like everyone living off their savings, Mr Chreim is unsure how long he will be able to survive this way.

While restaurants went empty, the queues for bakeries stretched over the weekend amid news that bread would stop being distributed to supermarkets and shops in light of the collapsing currency.

(Cost of flour is supposed to be mostly shouldered by the State, but it is Not correct. Anyway, fancy bakeries and sweets are forcing the traditional bread bakery to increase the price of 900 g of bread to 2,000 Lira)

The sight of people searching through bins for food and long queues for aid distribution have become commonplace in a city that was not too long ago a playground for the rich and famous.

As cash runs out and the purchasing power of the average Lebanese continues to plummet, a barter economy is emerging. (Lebanese have no tradition in business barter, just bartering in ceremonies)

With commodities reaching almost triple their original prices, Facebook is slowly filling with posts of people trying to trade their personal belongings for basic necessities.

“Trading for a bag of Oui Oui diapers and a bag of Kleo milk”, one post read with a picture of a set of drinking glasses attached.

  • Additional reporting: Angie Mrad

They are exhausting: Legitimate, Temporary, and Necessary. And all are faked terms

Note: Re-edit of “Legitimate, Temporary, and Necessary. June 5, 2009″

It is the temporary term that is the most frustrating: it means for ever.

And basically, nothing was legitimate since the “independence” of this pseudo-State in 1943.

 On June 7, 2009, the Lebanese will vote for a new Parliament.

Two groups of citizens will vote; the group constituted of the patriotic, secular, and reformists and the group of an amalgam of confessionals, feudalists, isolationists, statue quo,  and “colonial minded” mentalities.

The “colonial minded” citizens follow leaders who invariably rely on foreign interventions to balance a broken alliance among confessional castes system and perpetrate the conditions for weak central governments.

A brief current history might elucidate this drastic splitting among the Lebanese citizens. I

n May 24, 2000, Ehud Barak PM of Israel withdrew from most of south Lebanon with no preconditions, the first ever in Israel 61 years history of colonial implantation in our midst.

The joint strategy of Lebanon President Lahoud and Bashar Assad of Syria enabled Hezbollah a resounding victory.

The Arab League decided to hold its annual meeting in Beirut in August 2002 as a good gesture for its acknowledgment of the victory in 2000 of this tiny State.

In 2003, Syria had plans for partial withdrawal to the Bekaa Valley but the vehement rhetoric from the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and the Patriarch of the Maronite Christian sect slowed down the execution process.

Before the assassination of late Rafic Hariri in February 14, 2005 the Bush Jr. Administration and Jacque Chirac of France issued the UN resolution 1559 for the retreat of the Syrian forces from Lebanon and the dismantling of Hezbollah’s military wing and the return of its heavy armament.

The withdrawal of the Syrian troops was not the main objective because the international community and the main “Arabic” States wanted and kept high hopes that Syria will ultimately be pressured to do the dirty work of taming Hezbollah.

The Syrian government factored in many variables to oppose the frequent lures and pressures of what is expected of her to do in order to remain in Lebanon.

The targeting Rafic Hariri for assassination by the US, France, Saudi Arabia, and mainly Israel was not one of the variables considered and Syria strategy was shaken violently.

In fact, Rafic Hariri received so many encouragements and acted in such confidence that the Syrian government forgot to contemplate such an evil and drastic eventuality by foreign colonial powers.

The mass demonstration on February 14 was not a threat to Syria; General Aoun was still in exile in France and was pressured by the French government Not to return to Lebanon.

What Syria comprehended the loudest was the mass demonstration by Hezbollah on March 8, 2005.  Hezbollah thanked Syria for its sacrifices, which meant “Now it is time for your complete withdrawal

Hezbollah was always nervous of the Syrian presence in Lebanon because it was the only power capable of restraining its activities.

Hezbollah was sending the message to Bashar Assad “We can take care of ourselves and still continue the resistance against Israel if you definitely put an end to the international pressures for getting out of Lebanon”

The mass demonstration in March 14, fortified by the supporters of General Aoun (The Tayyar Horr), was not even a threat to Syria.  It was the realization of Syria that its continued presence in Lebanon will ultimately confront its army directly as the Lebanese government lost control over events and cowered under uncertainties.

Syria withdrew quickly to the frustration of the US and France who realized that they wasted Hariri for naught: Hariri could still be of great benefit to their policies in the Middle East region alive rather than dead.

The International Community, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia had to fall back to plan B: rekindling the civil war in Lebanon.  They initiated a series of bombing in Christian quarters hoping that the Christian will side en mass with the Sunni/Hariri clan.  Plan B petered.

Israel/Saudi Kingdom came back with more vigorous scare tactics by assassinating Christian personalities.  Samir Kassir, George Hawi, and Jubran Tweiny were marked as potentially Not reliable allies and could shift sides because they were independent minded and honest characters.

This wave of select assassination backfired because General Aoun signed a pact with Hezbollah and de-activated a potential civil war targeting the Christians.

Plan C also failed and civil war did not flare out.

Thus, direct intervention from outside was considered and Israel trained its forces for incursion into Lebanon with the US total aids and support in all phases.

Hezbollah, intentionally or by coincidence, preempted the completion of the plan in June 12, 2006.  Israel launched its offensive for 33 days and failed miserably in all the goals.  The attack backfired and the stature of Hezbollah ballooned and overflowed to all the Arab and Muslim populations.

The International Community, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia did not desist.

Plan D was to re-enforce the Sunnis with a military wing of extremist salafists called “Jund Al Sham” and financed by Bandar Bib Sultan of Saudi Arabia.

In the summer of 2007, a few ignorant and violent Sunni extremists preempted the timing by slaughtering Lebanese soldiers; the army pride and dignity reacted with an all out attack and crushed this insurrection in Nahr Al Bared Palestinian camp after many months and many martyrs.

The International Community, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia studied for two years to dismantle Hezbollah secured communication lines and to start a mini civil war in Beirut between the Shia and Sunnis.

Plan E backfired again on May 8, 2008 as Hezbollah occupied all the Israeli secret intelligence centers in Beirut, as well as the quarters of the so-called security organizations.

The Lebanese leaders had to meet in Dawha and agree on the election of a President to the Republic, an election law for Parliament, and the constitution of a national government.

Lebanon has suffered for 4 years of an incompetent and illegitimate government; the Lebanese lived in a totally insecure political vacuum; the economy was farmed out to the size of the Hariri clan and the financial debt skyrocketed to $60 billions.

This “political” debt is intended to pressure the Lebanese government into accepting the settling of the 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in return for debt cancellation.

We need to compare 4 categories of leaders along the two dimensions of principled leaders and pragmatists.

In the dimension of principled leaders we can discriminate the hate monger isolationist leaders versus the principled for the public and State good.

In the pragmatic dimension we have the individual interest oriented and the public/State pragmatists.

For example: Walid Jumblatt, Marwan Hamadeh, Amine Gemayel, Samir Geagea, and the Patriarch of the Christian Maronite sect can be categorized in the isolationist, confessional, and personal minded leaders.

Ex-President Emile Lahoud, General Michel Aoun, Hassan Nasrallah and the ancient secular parties (Communists and Syria National Social Party) could be classified as the principled and public/State object oriented pragmatists.

The classification of the remainder of the semi-leaders I leave it to the readers as exercises.

The Mufti of Beirut is a non entity: he is the bugle of Saad Hariri.  Saad Hariri is a non entity: he re-edited the slogan of the chairman of General Motors to say “What is good for the Saudi Monarchs is good for Lebanon”.  General Motors has declared bankruptcy; the Hariri/Seniora clan will declare bankruptcy on June 8, 2009.

With the exception of General Aoun who refused any kind of occupations, all leaders welcomed the mandate of Syria for 20 years; they kept repeating the mantra “The presence of Syria in Lebanon is “Legitimate, Temporary, and Necessary”.

Marwan Hamadeh and all the actual ministers were the ones repeating this mantra to the nauseating public for 20 years.

The Maronite Patriarch Sfeir was against the Syrian presence but was pretty cool regarding Israel’s occupation.

The members of the Seniora PM government did not voice out their refusal of Israel’s occupation of part of south Lebanon and constantly conspired to weaken the resistance forces against the Israeli occupiers on the basis that only international diplomacy can pressure Israel!

Only President Lahoud stood steadfast with Hezbollah and refused to deploy the army in areas of the resistance’s operations.

Thanks to Hassan Nasrallah and President Lahoud Lebanon managed to secure its integrity and unify its army.  Thanks to Hassan Nasr Allah and General Michel Aoun Lebanon buried any likelihood for the resurgence of a civil war.

My spirit went to statesman General Aoun who said once the Syrian troops crossed the borders “Syria is now out of Lebanon.  I have no qualms with Syria anymore. This is the time to open a new page in our relations”.

This position stands in contrast to those who begged Syria for crumbs and privileges for 20 years and once Syria withdrew they refrained from normalizing relations with Syria; the fictitious excuses to antagonize Syria were dictated by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.  What kind of state leadership is that?

The election results of June 7, 2009 should fortify Lebanon as a Nation and project the image of a solid central government with serious reforms and changes to the archaic political system.

That are my wishes but I know the struggle will be long and protracted.  Sweet revolutions need time to mature in this diversified Lebanon.

Note: All parliament elections in Lebanon bring in sectarian and feudal candidate. In 2020, Lebanese were left with a totally bankrupt State economically and financially. We are to suffer many years of “famine” conditions and no realistic hope in the future for any change or economic development.

Those militia/mafia “leaders” who bankrupted the Lebanese at all levels?

A contest of who are the worst highway robbers of the State budget.

Late Rafic Hariri PM appointed most of the current corrupt “civil servants” in many institutions, particularly in the financial sectors institutions (Central Bank), the airline, the waste collection, the Beirut Real Estates (Solidere) and infrastructure projects, and directly linked to him and Not being controlled by any government administrations.

Nabi Berry and Walid Jumblatt had the monopoly for importing the “laced” and far below standard fuels and chains of the private providers for electricity, and the private financial “Boxes” (sanadeek) for the southern districts and the Lebanese refugees during the civil war, and the cement monopoly.

There are over 60 public institutions directly linked to the Prime Minister, to belong from the religious Sunni Muslim sect.

Search for me: Any “citizen power” around the world?

La renaissance d’un nouveau pouvoir citoyen

Les discours, déclarations, attaques, atermoiements des politiques commencent à se retourner contre eux parce que le peuple a compris qu’ils sont en train de piller le pays, qu’ils utilisent l’État pour leur propre profit, que leur patrie est là où sont leurs comptes en banque et qu’ils constituent une caste dans laquelle, même si leur combat est truqué, ils ont plus besoin les uns des autres que nous n’avons besoin d’eux.

Nous leur avons annoncé que nous n’avions pas besoin d’hommes politiques qui ne nous représentent pas, et le sol a commencé à bouger sous leurs pieds.

Et parce que nous sommes ceux qui payons le prix des réponses, nous devons aussi devenir les maîtres des questions.

Nous demandons à la politique pourquoi elle s’habille de représentation et se nomme démocratie représentative si elle ne nous représente pas ; nous demandons à l’Assemblée auto prorogée pourquoi elle se dit Parlement si dans ce lieu personne ne parlemente?

Pourquoi y a-t-il des gens que personne n’avait élus mais qui commandent plus que les autres?

Pourquoi le Parlement s’arroge le siège de la souveraineté populaire quand le club des puissants assis dans ses fauteuils peut en toute impunité voler le peuple?

Et nous leurs demandons aussi pourquoi nous payons leurs salaires.

Qu’est-ce qu’ils font avec nos impôts, avec les taxes et les amendes que nous leur payons?

Nous leur demandons pourquoi ils nous traitent comme des déchets.

Nous demandons aux juges pourquoi ils ont répandu le sentiment qu’il y a une justice pour le pauvre et une autre pour le riche, pourquoi il y a une justice pour les amis et une autre pour ceux que l’on baptise ennemis, pourquoi les uns mettent le droit à leurs services tandis qu’ils nient tout droit à d’autres.

Pourquoi ils ont voté les nouvelles adjudications pour le traitement des déchets comme des voleurs.

Et voilà que nous continuons de demander. Et le nouveau récit prend peu à peu forme.

Ils vont tenter de nous fragmenter, de nous banaliser, de nous diviser, de nous faire peur, de nous tendre des pièges.

Pour sortir de leurs pièges, nous proposons un pacte : nous allons parler de ce que nous partageons – nous, tous ceux que les partis politiques ne représentent plus, ceux qui veulent un État non corrompu, efficace, impartial, laïque et moderne –, nous allons mettre un visage sur ceux qui paient et qui vont continuer de payer le prix d’une crise qui en vérité est une grande escroquerie.

Nous allons aussi regarder dans les yeux cette classe politique qui confisque les biens de ses citoyens. (Banks are no longer paying the depositors)

Nous allons parler des droits des individus, indépendamment des droits des communautés. Nous allons parler de l’épuisement d’un modèle qui liquide le peuple, qui dévore la nature, condamne les générations futures et, sans beaucoup s’interroger, malaxe les perdants dans son moulin diabolique.

Nous allons proclamer et assurer que ça nous est égal : ce que tu as voté hier, ça nous est égal ; ça nous est égal de savoir comment tu lis le passé et aussi si, maintenant, tu ne veux pas affronter les raisons pour lesquelles tu as décidé de rejoindre la majorité silencieuse.

Aujourd’hui, tout cela nous importe moins que de savoir si, au-delà de ton histoire, tu es d’accord avec le fait que nous méritons d’avoir un État:

Que les responsables ne doivent plus être irresponsables ;

Que personne ne doit être assassiné en plein jour par un barbare en toute impunité ;

Personne ne doit être expulsé de l’école parce qu’il ne peut pas payer les frais de scolarité ;

Personne ne doit être interdit d’accès à un hôpital parce qu’il est mal assuré ;

Personne ne doit vivre dans le noir parce qu’ il ne peut pas payer la facture d’électricité ;

Personne ne doit se coucher tôt pour fuir le froid seulement parce qu’il ne peut pas payer le chauffage de son logement.

Si tu es d’accord avec le fait qu’une société où les enfants sont pauvres et sont malheureux est une société brisée qu’il faut réinventer ; qu’un pouvoir qui tue son peuple à bout portant est un pouvoir malade ;

Qu’une classe politique qui utilise ses voyous pour contrôler les honnêtes gens est une classe moribonde qui doit partir ;

Si tu es d’accord sur le fait que nous devons obtenir que les biens communs soient répartis de manière commune ; que les corrompus doivent payer pour leurs mensonges et que ceux qui se sont enrichis sur le dos du peuple doivent payer le prix de leur actions ;

Que nous avons tous des obligations et des droits en tant que citoyens et dans nos communautés, et

Que nous tous qui vivons ensemble et ensemble existons, d’où que nous venions, nous sommes la matière première de nos rêves et de nos espérances.

Après avoir donné une nouvelle chance à cette classe politique – une nouvelle chance manquée –, nous proposons de continuer notre combat, de nous engager dans une résistance laïque, non partisane, pacifique, non violente et démocratique.

Une résistance qui commencera par l’appropriation des espaces publics et se poursuivra par la désobéissance civile.

Ce qui comptera, c’est notre persévérance, notre transparence, notre cohérence, notre inflexibilité sur les principes et les valeurs.

C’est notre capacité à transformer la colère des gens en un vrai pouvoir politique avec un projet lisible, clair, transversal et ambitieux pour le Liban.

Ce qui comptera surtout, c’est la confiance et le courage des gens. Il n’y a pas de solution en dehors des gens. Le peuple seul sauve le peuple : cela n’a jamais été aussi vrai qu’aujourd’hui.

Note: To3mi posted today on Fb:

“La vraie question est quel peuple nous voulons être, quelle société nous voulons construire, dans quel pays nous voulons vivre, quelle vie nous voulons vivre, quels rêves nous voulons avoir, quel héritage nous voulons transmettre, quel avenir, quel horizon, quel présent nous voulons laisser à nos enfants,

Quelles valeurs, quel récit, quels mythes nous voulons créer pour croire en un État, quel État, quel légitimité

Mais avant cela il faut prendre conscience qu’on est un peuple spolié, humilié, divisé, infantilisé, ramené à un niveau inédit de misère et d’absence de perspectives par ceux-là même qui le dominent et le gouvernent.

Et puis se demander comment vivre-ensemble si on est capable de vivre ensemble vraiment.” (Before we were spoiled out of ur wealth by the political system, we have been behaving as spoiled children since our birth)

Last potter in town of Beit Chabab, Lebanon?

In this town of traditional pottery, bell casting, Silk clothes… that No longer fabricate anything?

Who is Fawzi Fakhoury?

Note: Re-edit of “Last potter in Beit Chabab? In this town of traditional pottery? Who is Fawzi Fakhoury? June 22, 2013″


Fawzi Fakhoury’s hands are calloused and brown. Hours  of shaping tough clay and standing in front of a burning wood oven have stained them shades darker than the rest of his body and toughened them so they are like  leather.

Fakhoury stand of potter. There were at least 6 families making a living from that art 3 decades ago, and their products were exported to the adjacent States of Jordan, Syria, Palestine and even Iraq.

Fawzi is rather short for a western standard, with salt and pepper hair and bushy eyebrows, and dressed  in simple, mud-stained clothes.

His weathered hands stand testimony to the  thousands of pots he has created for the better part of his life. He inherited that job from his father and the entire family helped in the family “factory”, until one of the members decided to resume the work.

Actually, it seems that Fawzi is the last working potter in Beit Chabab and pretty soon will retire: No vaible trade to export to.

I have posted many articles on Lebanon, and Michelle  Ghoussoub has this latest.

Michelle  Ghoussoub published in The Daily Star, this June 20, 2013: “Meet  the last potter in Beit Shabab

Fakhoury, left, works with his brother Assad, who helps out occasionallyin the shop. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

The scenic village is nestled in Lebanon’s mountains just 17 km outside of east Beirut.

Sixty years ago, dozens of Beit Shabab  families produced traditional  pottery, and the heat from 40 burning ovens could be felt on the streets during  the summer, Fawzi explains.

The town’s name was synonymous with pottery, and people came from around the  country to purchase the artisanal clay pots, used for storing everything from arak to grains, olive oil and wine.

Now, he is the only one left.

Fakhoury’s workshop resembles a hermit’s cave.

Though dark and dusty, it  remains well used and loved.

Perched precariously on the edge of a small but  steep ravine, Fakhoury’s working space has a crumbling old stone facade nestled into the mountain itself.

An elegant stone archway frames the entrance, with rusted scrap metal and  broken pieces of mortar piled on top to prevent rainwater from flooding the  small room. Bits and pieces of fragmented pots are piled haphazardly in a back  corner.

A traditional stove, or babour, for kerosene burner, commands the  center of the room. It doubles as the only heat source during the winter months, as nighttime temperatures can occasionally drop below freezing.

An old television set crackles in the background, the colors and shapes on  the screen disfigured by poor reception. A fine, white film of dust covers every surface, and it puffs out of antique pillows on the faded couch when it is sat  upon.

No one knows or remembers exactly how long the workshop has been running.

Fakhoury believes the family folklore. He says that Roman potters trained his  forefathers when they came to construct the ancient, colonnaded citadel of  Baalbek in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley around 300 B.C. (Baalbak is as ancient as 7,000 years, before Rome or Athens existed)

When the Romans left, his ancestors searched for the purest clay in the  country, and eventually settled in Beit Shabab to be close to the best natural  source: a small and muddy lake in the forest beneath the village (the mawsel).

Fakhoury’s creased wrinkles deepen and his brown face cracks into a crooked  smile as he recalls a childhood of running among the clay pots.

He’s worked as a  potter for 60 years. His father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and  great-great-grandfather all worked in this same space before him.

At no moment in his life did Fakhoury, now 66, wish for an alternative career  path. He loves this job, he says.

Years of hard labor have given him a worn appearance and demeanor, but they  have also kept him strong and tough.

Toiling in the workshop where he was  raised, he cuts the figure of a surviving Chinese terracotta warrior, stained  by the mud that has defined his livelihood for half a century.

Fakhoury left the village temporarily during the Lebanese Civil War and  worked in trade in West Africa. He always dreamt of returning to his workshop to  continue his family’s legacy.

“I lived there, but I dreamed in Lebanon,” he says with a smile.

Fakhoury returned to find a wall of the workshop blown out by a bomb, but his  tools intact. He wasted no time in repairing the room and reopening his  business.

His wife and he have three daughters, all of whom are married and have long  since left the house.

Women don’t do pottery, he says, at least in Beit Shabab.

His face falls, however, when he reveals that he has no heir to continue Beit Shabab’s trademark industry when he retires.

“This workshop has been running for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, and  when I go, it may all have been for nothing,” he lamented, looking wistfully  around the chamber.

Though customers used to flock from across the country to hand pick his pots,  the advent of plastic containers has slashed demand massively.

Nowadays, customers are often decorators seeking a rustic look, or tourists looking for authentic Lebanese craftsmanship.

He still ships a couple of hundred pots every year to a Jordanian arak  producer, who uses them to store the anis-flavored liquor., like Ouzou in Greece

Producing pottery is like cultivating a crop, he muses. The clay is collected  in the spring when it has the right consistency, then handspun into pots using a  potter’s wheel.

The kiln, an oven designed especially for pottery, is fired up in August, the hottest month of the year, to accelerate the baking.

During these scorching weeks, Fakhoury stays up throughout the night to  monitor the ovens and rotate the pots, making sure that months of intensive  craftsmanship and exertion do not go up in flames.

The work is hard, and the fruit of his arduous labor much less plentiful than it once was.

While his father would light the oven 8 times in one  summer, he now only produces one batch of pots a year.

A pottery festival and exhibition in Normandy, France, once invited Fakhoury  to learn different pottery techniques.

He says it was an honor to be recognized,  but that he found himself underwhelmed by the developed industrial techniques of French potters. Having made thousands of pots in his life, he says he prefers to stick to what his father and grandfather taught him as a child.

Nassar Fakhoury, Fawzi’s neighbor and former landlord, says “Fawzi is a part of this village in the same way that these streets are. He’s  always in his workshop and his family has always been there. The children call  him ‘the pottery man.’ There’s just no other way to describe him,”

Nassar shares Fawzi surname but is not sure exactly how they are related. Family lineages and histories go so far back in the village that they are sometimes impossible to keep track of or  untangle.

When asked what has changed about the business since he began over half a  century ago, Fawzi’s answer is simple: “Nothing. I still do business the way my father and grandfather did.”

It’s a legacy that may end without an apprentice or heir devoted to following  in his forefathers’ footsteps.

It is almost impossible to picture the village without its main attraction,  and for now, Fawzi will continue to fill that role. He says he cannot imagine  himself anywhere else.

“My grandfather and father died here, and one day, I will join them,” he  says. “What I want is to die here.

Note 1: In my childhood, I visited and was acquainted with three families of potters in the lower part of Beit-Chabab, like the Tannous family. The entire family members participated in the production, especially in summer time. Traditional pottery is vanishing quickly in Lebanon, and not even replaced by mass production facilities. There are a few potters in Rashaya Fokhar, and are closing shop for no family members are willing to replace the older ones.

Note 2: A couple years ago I assisted in one of these night vigil. It was supposed to be the night the fire in the kiln (oven) for the pots to be suffocated. Annish played the guitar and sang Lebanese songs. We were a dozen gathered around the oven and a few kept joining in. Fawzi would get up from his couch and check on the readiness of the pots and add a few more woods. Around 2 am Fawzi decided it was time to kill the fire. We joined in bringing to the entrance of the oven the special “bumblebees” to stuff in to kill the fire.

Note 3: A couple centuries ago, pottery was started in the upper quarters of Beit Chabab, but the clay was whitish. The potters in the lower part of Beit Chabab had the reddish and better clay to use, and they supplanted the upper families in that art and industry.

Note 4: A  version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June  20, 2013, on page 2.
Read more: (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

Damascus under canon and airplane bombs in 1925: During French mandated power

Note: Re-edit of “In Damascus under the bombs, Year 1925 by Alice Poulleau”  May 19, 2013

In 1925, the French journalist and painter Alice Poulleau finished writing her book “In Damascus under the bombs”, a collection of 3 years of diaries,  and was published in 1926. The book was banned by the French authority in every colony and territories occupied by the French troops. The book was re-published only in 2012.

The Syrians revolted against the French mandated power in 1924-26 and the troops pounded Damascus for 48 hours with heavy artillery shells and air raids. Entire blocks in Damascus were devastated and over 1,500 civilians were killed within 48 hours of insane hatred and arrogance of the occupying troops.

Alice dedicated the book to the mothers in France and Syria who suffer the same afflictions. She blamed the French writers and journalists who never set foot in Syria and never witnessed the calamities and horrible massacres and yet, insisted on diabolizing (devils) the Syrian people, relying solely on the High-Commissariat reports.

The devastation hit the antique and ancient souks of Hamidiyeh, the block of the street of Midhat Pasha, the Via Recta, which was later called “Harika” to being burned to the ground…

It was the French mandated power that incited sectarian passions among the various religious entities in order to divide and rule. The occupation power favored the minorities such as the Christians, the Alawites… in the administrative positions…

Alice worked in the Nile Delta and occasionally pushed forward to discover parts of Palestine, such as Rafah, Gaza, Ludds… and further on into Haifa, Mount carmel…

In 1923, Alice had this revelation to investigate Syria and Lebanon. She visited the Houran province, Damascus, Baalbek, Beirut, Sidon, Tyr, Bissan (south of the Sea of galilee), Samak…

Poulleau was under the spell of so much beauty and mythical environment until she got in contact with her French countrymen, officers and soldiers in Syria.

Her wrath grew by the days against the arrogance and ignorance of her French citizens in Syria.

Her encounters opened her eyes to the calamities that the French brought in into Syria…

As Alice returned to Egypt in 1923, she wrote:

“I had this persistent and strong impression that France never attempted to investigate the level of acceptance of the Syrian people to the mandated power, and simply relied on the reports of the High-Commissariat.

I felt this growing disenchantment and the growling of discontent among the Syrians relevant to the one-sided decisions, mismanagement and high-handed reactions due to their baffling of human rights of the Syrians and their dignity…

This was the reason for me to return the next year 1924 to Damascus and witnessing the slaughter hood two years later…”

Note: More summaries and translation of these diaries will be forthcoming. 1,500 Syrian civilians died within 48 hours of bombing and air raids of the Capital Damascus by the French troops.

A group of the Lebanese upheaval published its own Government demands: As Hassan Diab was appointed PM

I didn’t finish reading this document but I had to post it for anyone who is interested in finding out the various viewpoints in that “7iraak)

Lihaqqi Bayan Wizari

Li 7akki (My right) to publish my own version of what the mass movement demands

Hussein El-Kotob <> wrote:

Hussein El-Kotob

AttachmentsSat, Feb 8, 8:18 PM

to me
Attachments area


Lebanon militia/mafia “leaders” are asking nothing: Just sustain the status quo, please

It is the sectarian political structure of 18 officially recognized religious sects that prevent Lebanon from creating a secular State and undergo serious reforms at all levels in its institutions, economy and finance.

لا بدكن تعملوا دولة متل الخلق

ولا بدكن توقفوا السرقة
ولا بدكن تدفعوا ضرايب
ولا بدكن توقفوا إقطاع

ولا بدكن تسحبوا الغطا عن اللي عم يسرق وينهب ويفسد
ولا بدكن تحترموا شريك الوطن
ولا بدكن دولة مدنية

ولا بدكن انتخابات رئاسية من الشعب
ولا بدكن قانون انتخابي عادل
ولا بدكن تطبقوا الطائف

ولا بدكن لامركزية ادارية
ولا بدكن كونفدرالية
ولا بدكن فدرالية

ولا بدكن تعطوا الرئاسة صلاحيات
ولا بدكن……..

طيب شو المطلوب؟
تضلوا أسياد ونبقى عبيد وأهل ذمة؟

ما بتزبط الكل ياخد حقوقو ويدفع واجباتو؟
ما بتزبط الكل يحترم حالو ويحترم غيرو؟

ما بتزبط ما يكون في إقطاع وسرقة ونهب وفساد؟
ما بتزبط الكل يكون متساوي قدام القانون؟

ما بتزبط يكون في لا مركزية ادارية؟
ما بتزبط يكون في انماء متوازن؟

ما بتزبط شعبنا يطلع من الكذب والنفاق؟
ما بتزبط نروح عالدولة المدنية؟
ما بتزبط……. (اللايحة طويلة… بس زهقت انا وفقّس)

وهيي لو بتزبط… مش بحاجة ت نغير ولا نظام
عنا قوانين ممتازة بس العبرة بالتنفيذ


Why Lebanon is targeted to suffer humiliation by US/Israel?

The US/Israel want the Lebanese people to accept the conditions of the Deal of the Century de Kushner/Pence (Vice President)/and the deplorable Neo-cons.

They want Lebanon to merge the Palestinian/Syrian refugees as citizens of Lebanon and for Lebanon to desist on its maritime rights in block 9 for gas/oil.

The strategy is to sanction Lebanon financially and economically until famine force the citizens to cry Uncle.

هناك أجندة حديثة وضعت للبنان بدأ تنفيذها سبتمبر 2019

1. لرفضه صفقة القرن

2. والأسباب التالية:

– رفض لبنان توطين الفلسطينين
– رفض لبنان دمج السوريين بمجتمعه
تمنع لبنان عن ترسيم الحدود حسب الخريطة الأميركو – إسرائيلية،
– عدم تسليم أميركا إدارة مشاريعه النفطية،
– تلزيم التنقيب عن النفط الى شركة توتال الفرنسية وشركة أغني الإيطالية
– رفض طلب اميركا تلزيمه لشركات أميركية تعمل في إسرائيل
– تسليم الصواريخ الذكية فقط، التي تقلق إسرائيل.


1. تم افتعال حرائق احراج لبنان لإظهار عدم قدرة الحكومة القيام بواجبها، ولحقن الشارع ضدها
2. افتعال أزمة الطحين والبنزين عبر تسويق شائعات، وخروج الناس طوابير للحصول عليهم

3. تحريض الناس 17 أكتوبر عبر الميديا للنزول الى الشارع
4. إقفال أبواب المصارف في وجه صغار المودعين دون سبب مما جعل الناس تتهافت لسحب ودائعها عند فتح المصارف أبوابها خوفا من الشائعات ومن اعادة الإقفال
5. عدم السماح لصغار المودعين سحب أموالهم والتي لا تتجاوز ال 1.5 مليار $، لكنها تشكل 75٪؜ من المودعين

6. أموال صغار المودعين حوالي 1.5 مليار $ كان ممكن إعادتها لأصحابها قبل تحويل اكثر من 10 مليار $ لكبار المودعين الذين لا يشكلون 10٪؜ من المودعين، لكن الهدف إبقاء اكبر كمية من الناس دون ودائعهم لتجييش الشارع عند الحاجة
7. إدارة مصرف لبنان وبعض المصارف اللبنانية وبعض السياسيين في تنفيذ هذه الأجندة والسماح لبعض السياسيين وكبار المودعين تحويل ارصدتهم للخارج خلال إقفال المصارف أبوابها والتي فاقت ال 10 مليار $ لغاية اليوم

8. الطلب من الحكومة السابقة تقديم استقالتها، وكلنا نذكر تصريح الرئيس الحريري اننا أمام 6 شهور خطرة تنتظرنا، كان ذلك في ديسمبر 2019
9. استخدام الدولار كسلاح أساسي في المعركة مع العلم ان لا أحد لغاية الان يعلم سبب ارتفاع سعر الدولار، اللبناني ليس لديه فائض أموال لشراء الدولار، وليس لديه إمكانيات سفر بفترة الكورونا، لا إمكانية للإستيراد حالياً

10. ان حركة سوق الدولار الداخلية لا تتعدى ال 100 مليون $ شهرياً، تحل أزمة وسعر الدولار يعني مبلغ لا يتعدى ثمن مبنى التاتش.
11. الضغط على الناس عبر رفع سعر الدولار واللعب في لقمة عيشهم، تحريك الشارع للضغط على الحكومة، معارضة الفاسدين لها، الميديا والشائعات،

محاولة توريط الجيش (ما يجري بالشمال) كل ذلك سيدفع الحكومة للخروج من المأزق اللجوء إلى صندوق النقد الدولي (هذا ما سيجري) والذي سينهكنا لنسلم بشروطه القاسية
– زيادة ال TVA
– ضريبة على البنزين
– زيادة الكهرباء
– خنق المواطن اللبناني الذي عليه ان يتخلى عن عنجهيته وان يتخلى عن الكماليات التي اعتاد عليها، ليعود ويعيش في نظام اقتصادي ضعيف لا يشغله سوى تأمين لقمة عيشه، مثل دول كمصر والأردن وتونس والسودان وسوريا والعراق والمغرب.

كل ذلك سيعيدنا للرضوخ إلى الشروط الأميركية:

* الموافقة على توطين الفلسطينين
* دمج السوريين في المجتمع اللبناني
* التنازل عن حدود مساحات برية وبحرية تحتوي على حقول غاز
* السماح للشركات الاميركية التنقيب عن النفط
* تسليم إدارة النفط اللبناني لأميركا
* التخلص من الصواريخ الذكية فقط.

هذه الأجندة يجري تنفيذها بالعراق أيضاً لكن بنسخة عراقية

أميركا لم تعد تحتاج لتحريك أسطولها البحري الذي يحتوي على 11 حاملة طائرات 8 غير صالحين للاستعمال حالياً بسبب ارتفاع تكلفتهم

فالحروب القادمة هي استخدام الإقتصاد والدولار لمحاربة أي دولة تشاكسها.

والآن ستفتعل اميركا أزمة مع الصين لإبتزازها بحجة نشر الوباء وستدعوا شركائها لمساندتها

لكن ما تتناساه أميركا ان الصين صواريخها عابرة للقارات وان توقف مصانع الأحذية بالصين لمدة 6 شهور يحول اكثرية شعوب العالم لحفاة.

المشكلة بالسياسة الأميركية، حتى لو نفذنا مطالبها ستسحقنا بعد ذلك، كما فعلت بالكثير من الدول، إنها سياسة العم سام الظالمة، نرضى بها ولا ترضى بنا.

هل يمكننا التغلب على هذه الأزمة ؟

نعم، اذا شعب لبنان كله تخلص من:

* الزعيم
* الطائفية
* العودة الى الزراعة والصناعة الوطنية
* تفعيل التصدير، لبنان كان يصدر الألبسة لفرنسا وأحذية لأوروبا بالإضافة للمواد الغذائية والخضار والفواكه
* وقف استيراد ما لا يلزم ( هل يعقل لبلد مشهور بمياهه ان يستورد مياه من فرنسا،

* هل يعقل لبلد إخترع اللبنة ان يستورد أجبان والألبان بنصف مليار دولار سنوياً
* هل يعقل لبلد مثل لبنان ان يستورد أزهار ب 18 مليون $ سنوياً
* هل يعقل لبلد لديه أطيب تفاح بالعالم ان يستورد تفاح من إيطاليا

* هل يعقل لبلد إخترع الأبجدية لا مصنع لديه لصناعة دواء مسكن او مسحوق غسيل.

اذا اتحدنا ووعينا نبني مجتمع اقتصادي، اجتماعي، وطني صلب.
بلاد كثيرة مرت بظروفنا وخرجت منها منتصرة بتضامن ابنائها، مثل ماليزيا وسنغافورة وغيرهم، المهم الإرادة.
دعونا نفكر بلبنان وبمستقبلنا وبمستقبل اولادنا وكفانا اضاعة الوقت على أشخاص سيذهبون الى مزبلة التاريخ ودعونا نبني وطن.

اذا لم نحك جلدنا بأيدينا لن يحكه لنا أحد، العالم تغير لا مساعدات لا قروض لا هبات ولا ودائع دون ثمن وثمن مرتفع.




July 2020

Blog Stats

  • 1,396,491 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by

Join 742 other followers

%d bloggers like this: