Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Akkar

Regional inequalities? In matter of infrastructure?

This is where public investment has to share with the private

December 10, 2018 | English | Daniel Garrote Sanchez
Perpetuating regional inequalities in Lebanon’s infrastructure: The role of public investment

Lebanon has some of the poorest quality public infrastructure in the world.

This deficiency is particularly acute in least developed regions of the country such as Baalbek, Hermel and Akkar.

Electricity, roads, waste management, and water supply are among the most unequally distributed services in terms of geography. (I feel these services are badly rendered everywhere in Lebanon)

Such a gap in infrastructure perpetuates regional inequalities in income and the well-being of the population. (Are health and education infrastructure among the list?)

In recent years, government investment, both at the local and central level, has widened the infrastructure gap between leading and lagging districts, eroding the constitutional principle of equitable territorial development.

This pattern is expected to continue in coming years. While economic growth does not need to be balanced, public institutions should aim at homogenizing living standards across regions, facilitating access to health and education services for the entire population, as well as enhancing mobility to and from regions where jobs are more available.

Note: This should be feasible because Lebanon is a tiny country

Calls for resistance against ISIS? But who is doing the resistance?

ISIS or Daesh stands for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Obama is doing his best to re-coin this name as ISIL or Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The Levant is a French term representing the current States of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Consequently, Obama is sending the strong message that the Greater Middle east plan has been restricted to destabilze Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine/Israel . Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia are to be excluded from the US Big Plan.

A month ago, ISIS occupied the large town of Ersal (Arsal) in Lebanon Bekaa Valley (30,000) for 2 days and night and retreated with over 40 hostages in soldiers and internal security forces. The hostages has not yet been freed as of now and no news are being extended to the Lebanese people. One soldier was slaughtered and his severed head shown on social media.

In the last couple of weeks, there has been rumors that ISIS is going to occupy Rashaya and the Orkoub region in south-east Lebanon. The 3orkoub area was called Fateh Land when Lebanon agreed with Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser to exclude the Lebanese army from controlling this region in 1969.

Mind you that Israel permitted ISIS to infiltrate the Golan Heights and take hostage 40 UN peace keeping forces from Fiji. The UN soldiers have not been released yet. Israel bombed the Syrian army position that controlled the passage to the Koneitra region in the Golan and let in ISIS to fluster the UN decision for starting investigating Israel crimes against humanity.

Hezbollah’s military predictions, according to internal Hezbollah sources who wish to remain anonymous, indicate two areas in Lebanon likely to be the next battlefields of the expected war with the Islamic State (IS).

An Al-Monitor Correspondent in Lebanon Posted August 27, 2014

Translator(s)Joelle El-Khoury

Hezbollah calls for resistance against IS

The first potential moot area is in the northern Bekaa Valley and includes a vast area of barren land with rugged tracts, extending from the desolate area of the Lebanese Sunni town of Arsal, running south to the arid lands around the Shiite city of Baalbek and back into Syrian territory.

On a parallel line to the area, there are 7 Shiite towns — Nabi Othman, Al-Ain, Labwe, Nahla, Younnine, Maqneh and Nabi Chit, the most prominent of which is the village of Labwe, neighboring Arsal.

The second expected battlefield is also in north Lebanon, which includes Tripoli and its surrounding cities, as well as the Bekaa Valley.

It’s possible that the first flame of this war in Lebanon might break out when IS fighters leave their positions.

At the exit of the Bekaa Valley, there is an area suitable for IS’ potential project: the Lebanese Shiite city of Hermel, one of Hezbollah’s strongholds, and the north Lebanese regions of Akkar and Donnieh. These areas have a high density of poor Sunni communities where conditions are favorable as an incubator for IS.

IS’ potential objective in attacking this area would be to set up an emirate in north Lebanon within the Sunni population.

Moreover, the port area in the capital of north Lebanon, Tripoli, which opens onto the Mediterranean Sea, will have the same function for IS as the city of Misrata for Ansar al-Sharia in Libya

Ports are used to smuggle and receive weapons for radical Islamist groups. Misrata became a weapons store for many extremist groups.

Lebanon’s senior Hezbollah official, Sheikh Nabil Qawouq, leads prayers around the coffin of Ibrahim al-Haj, a Hezbollah commander who died during a mission in Iraq, in Mashghara village in the Bekaa Valley, July 30, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Shawky Haj)

According to the same sources within Hezbollah and official security circles, the IS attack that took place this month on the town of Arsal, from the barren lands (of Jroud Arsal, between Lebanon and Syria) is not the end of IS’ war on Lebanon, but rather the beginning. This estimate was endorsed by information from the IS emir in the barren lands of Arsal, Abu Ahmed Gomaa, who was arrested by the Lebanese armed forces.

Another Hezbollah source told Al-Monitor, “Hezbollah learned in advance that IS intends to cross their posts in the barren lands to conduct attacks on seven Shiite villages in northern Bekaa. For this reason, a few days prior to the events in Arsal, [Hezbollah] carried out military maneuvers simulating the [potential] battle to repel IS from these villages. The main objective of this maneuver, which Hezbollah intended that the people in the area see how effective it is, is to deliver a message to extremists that Hezbollah is aware of their intention.”

It seems that delivering warning messages to IS on the ground in the area has become a policy adopted by Hezbollah.

Over the past week, Hezbollah invited a Lebanese satellite channel to its military sites facing IS positions in the barrens of Arsal and allowed the station to broadcast its preparations to counter any potential attack by IS.

The sources close to Hezbollah told Al-Monitor that nearly two years ago Hezbollah opened training camps in the area outside the city of Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley, close to the Syrian border, to train youth from different denominations in preparation to face radicals, and although the highest percentage of the trainees in these camps are Shiites, the recent acts by IS against the Christians of Syria and Iraq have pushed dozens of young Christians hailing from the towns adjacent to the Syrian border to join them.

Today, these Christian youth represent a form of “people’s protection committees” in their hometowns similar to those formed by Christian youth in Syrian towns.

The Hezbollah sources said, “There is a high level of coordination between these committees, which are expanding, and Hezbollah’s military apparatus, called the Lebanese Resistance Brigades, which is independent from the resistance body tasked with fighting Israel.”

With the growing expectation that IS is coming to Lebanon, Hezbollah’s military preparations have evolved toward promoting a plan to establish the Lebanese Resistance Brigades, which gather all denominations, to face IS.

Steadily, this plan has started to be accepted by youth from other denominations, particularly the Christians of the north and the Bekaa Valley.

A Christian youth explained why he joined the local protection committee: “What has happened in Mosul has been a message to all Christians of the East that the world will not protect them and that they need to rely on themselves to defend their existence.”

The same Hezbollah source said Hezbollah’s idea to establish the Lebanese Resistance Brigades dates back to the 1990s: “Its objective was initially to make the resistance against Israel a national resistance, not just a Shiite resistance,” the source said. “Yet, its implementation back then was constrained by several obstacles, which resulted in the idea of ​the Resistance Brigades as a militia affiliated with Hezbollah and tasked with countering internal military dangers.”

Today, the idea is being developed as Hezbollah needs to counter an expected war by IS in Lebanon. The new development is succeeding by establishing it in environments where there are existential concerns among Christians in areas close to IS and Jabhat al-Nusra positions at the Syrian border.

Hezbollah has actually succeeded in establishing “people’s protection committees” that consist of dozens of Christians from the northern Bekaa towns.

The Hezbollah source said, “The same issue that has faced the Alawites in Syria, with the start of the internal war, is now facing Hezbollah in Lebanon. It says that in parallel to the significant human reservoir that provides IS with fighters from all over the world, Hezbollah’s ability to provide martyrs to face [these fighters] remains limited.

“Lebanon’s Shiites, which represent the party’s main human support, are ultimately a minority of limited numbers compared to the large number of Sunnis. While Hezbollah cannot supply the fighting, which may go on for months and probably years, with martyrs on a daily basis, radical groups are able to compensate for the death toll among their ranks no matter how long the war drags on.

Starting from now, Hezbollah is seeking to resolve this dilemma through many means, including creating what looks like a resistance that consists of several denominations against IS.”

An Al-Monitor Correspondent in Lebanon
Contributor, Lebanon Pulse

At times, Al-Monitor withholds the bylines of our correspondents for the protection of our authors. Different authors may have written the individual stories identified on this page.

Part 4. “On the wild trails of Mount Lebanon”: Toward town of Tannourine ; (Mar. 7, 2010)

Pierre Bared, a middle-aged man, tall, svelte, with graying beard and three children decided to walked alone for 22 days on the wild trails of Mount Lebanon, crossing from the upper northern town of Kobayat to the southern town of Marje3youn  in June 2008.

Pierre ascended a steep and arid mountain; he took a break at 10 am at one of the goat shepherds’ tent.  You think from afar that the shepherds are having a good splendid life of liberty, then you realize the hardship when you enter the tent, see, and hear; especially, the conditions of the children.

From the vantage point on the mountain Pierre could see the cedar trees of the next target town of Tannourine (natural reserve that I had visited two years ago).  Within an hour, Pierre was in the forest of cedars.

A conductor of a 4*4 broke Pierre’s napping under an old tree saying “This is the most beautiful napping that we can dream to have.”  Pierre resumed his walk toward the town of Tannourine Al Fawka (upper). The trip lasted 3 hours since Pierre lingered watching wild flowers on his path.

After visiting a bakery, Pierre napped for an hour in the forest.  He decided to go forward to the village of Balaa; the gas station attendant told Pierre to take the regular road.  He ate and gathered cherries off trees.

Pierre was not lucky in Balaa: a woman refused him taking a shower (she was an urban lady visiting her hometown for the weekend).  He finally located an abandoned house and slept under a chestnut tree.  Pierre’s days are long; he starts pretty early and ends very late: an average of no more than 6 hours sleep.  The next day some people redirect his trajectory: destination Akoura.  The trail is a descent and he accelerates the rhythm; he reaches the town in one hour.

Hassan invites Pierre to sleep in his motel for free.  Pierre enjoys a hot shower and spends the evening on the terrace with Hassan’s friends who turned out to be guides of the region. Pierre declined a walk after supper (Hassan’s friends seem to forget that he has been walking a lot lately).  Hassan’s father had died a couple of years ago as a landmine detonated under his feet, killing him and his two hunting buddies.  Pierre sleeps on a real bad this night.

Akoura counts about 40 churches; the ancient ones were sepulture and were converted to churches. The photographer Alfred arrives at 8 am for a third photo session of planting a cedar tree in the municipal garden.  Alfred then gives Pierre ride to Tannourine for a planting session photo shoot.  At noon, Pierre eats another “mankoush alla saj” and then talk with Hassan’s mother, daughter, and two smaller children.  The 6 years old first refuses to take his tray to the kitchen and then obeyed tears in his eyes as a consequence for his previous stubbornness.  The mother would not like Pierre taking his tray to the kitchen but Pierre knows better by now.

The next target town is Afka.  If Pierre has to escalate the high mountain and then turn around it then he would not reach destination by night fall.  Thus, Pierre is obligated to taking the regular asphalt road.  On the road, he is invited to a glass of raspberry syrup and then another one of cherry as he passes by a cherry orchard.  He arrives at 4 pm in Afka and spends a couple of hours amid women preparing tomorrow meals and men returning from work.  Afka is predominantly of Shiaas and Pierre felt frustrated with the conversation.  The hosts felt more affiliation with Iran than with non-Shiaa Lebanese: the danger in Lebanon is to belonging to a religious sect.

Afka is famous for its grotto and the abandoned Roman Temple dedicated to Venus.  Pierre decided to resume his trip to the village of Lassa. Ninety minutes later he stumbles on goat shepherds; they correct his direction.  The shepherds are not at peace with Pierre presence in the region: they want to know from where he is “Mnein int?

Lassa is still further down in the valley and Pierre spends the night in an abandoned house, the only one on his long path.  By sundown, the Islam Muezzin of Lassa answers another Muezzin: a chain reaction starting from south to north.

Last Day of an Epic War 

            This is Monday August 14, 2006 of my diary.  The war has been going on for 32 days so far; Israel has destroyed all Lebanon’s infrastructure seaports, airports, highways, and polluted our sea with mazout. At 8 a.m. Israel decided to stop the military activities.  Last night, Israel poured its last minutes of vengeance and hatred on Lebanon by dropping thousands of various bombs and rockets on southern Beirut, the Bekaa and Akkar districts.  There are many indications that Israel used bombes that spread thousands of tiny bombs against individuals (cluster bombs); a few cases of injuries happened this morning when children manipulated these tiny booby bombs.        

            Israel dropped leaflets warning that it will target Beirut if missiles are activated. Israel pronounced that it will maintain air, water, and ground blockades until the multinational forces take over. The UN and the Lebanese army have warned our citizens not to touch or approach suspicious objects.

            The Lebanese refugees are on the move back to their home towns in the south by the thousands; they are carrying their mattresses and blankets stacked high over their cars.  They did not wait for any kind of permissions from anyone; they did not wait for the army to lead the way, and certainly, they did not wait for Israel to give the green light to their return. They are the heroes after the cease fire that clenched our total victory over the despicable enemy.  The locals at the nearby destroyed bridges and roads are repairing as best they can and facilitating the convoys of the returnees.  It would take months for the Israeli citizens to return to their targeted settlements at the urge and plenty of incentive from their government.  The nation that won the war is the one whose citizens returned promptly to their lands.

            My niece Adreas, helped by 5 of the neighbors’ kids, cleaned the basement where William sleeps and rearranged the living room so that they can meet and play.  This place is supposed to become their meeting harbor before they disperse for outdoor activities. I guess they intend to bring their daily food supplies and they were dreaming of sleeping overnight too.

            The IDF (Israel “Defense” Forces) has vacated the town of Marjeyoun. The war is going on in the south; Hezbollah killed seven Israeli soldiers and wounded 17.  It looks like the agreement of April in 1996 all over again, after the first Qana massacre; this agreement stated that guerilla warfare is legitimate and the civilians should be are spared.  If the Lebanese government is steadfast behind the resistance fighters, it will not take four years for Israel to retreat to the Blue Line but merely one week.

            I took my youngest niece Chelsea of nine around 7 p.m. to Beit Chabab to celebrate the Eve of the Virgin Mary Day and meet a few of her friends.  This event had strong local flavors before the start of the civil war in 1975. It represents mid summer vacation and parents start worrying about the first instalement to private schools. This was no celebrations this year; though it would have been most appropriate because of the end of the cease fire and our victory.  Chelsea bought herself a hair band and another cheap toy and ate “mankouchi”. While visiting my aunt Montaha, Nasr Allah was delivering his powerful speech.  We returned about 9 p.m. and I watched the interview with our minister of Defense.

 

Note: This year too, Hassan Nasr Allah delivered a lengthy and powerful victory speech at the same time and date.  The Secretary General of Hezbollah said that the frequent threats of Israel for the last two months only chased away the tourists visiting northern Israel. Israel would love to wage another offensive war but it is too apprehensive to even think about it.  Hezbollah has no intention of escalating the tensions but it is not scared at all for another war. This time around the missiles of Hezbollah can reach any where in Israel and the resistance will respond in kinds.)


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