Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Michel Aoun

Bi-weekly report (4) on Lebanon

Posted on December 12, 2008

Mind you that this article was posted in 2008. Boy, I am so glad that I used to write my diaries since 2005.

A niece of mine emailed me what Natalia Antelava from BBC News in Beirut published on the repercussions of the US financial crisis on Lebanon.  

Antelava summarized the effects “The world maybe in meltdown but Beirut is booming. The country best known for wars, turmoil and instability has not just survived the global financial crisis; it seems to be thriving because of it.

She goes on:

Lebanon’s Central bank treasury vaults are full. Cash has been flowing in like never before, Lebanese banks are posting record deposits and bankers say this is the best year in Lebanon’s financial history.

Lebanon was prepared. “I saw the crisis coming and I told the commercial banks in 2007 to get out of all international investments related to the international markets”, says Riad Salameh, the governor of Lebanon’s Central Bank.

Lebanese Banks weren’t allowed to take on too much debt and they had to have at least 30% of their assets in cash. They were not allowed to speculate in risky packages of bundled up debts.

And weak banks were forced to merge with bigger ones before they got into trouble. “

“You could have thought they had a crystal ball. It was very wise of the Lebanese regulators not to get involved in all these risky international investments that turned out to be the doom of many banking systems,” says Edward Gardner of the International Monetary Fund.

“The system we created has been tested against wars, against instability, against political assassinations. And our sector would be much more developed if Lebanon did not have political and security risks, but it has also induced us to have a conservative reflex because we were always getting ready for the worst case scenario,” says Mr Salameh.

But the tight reign on borrowing does not apply to the government.  (A condition that brought the state of Lebanon to total bankruptcy in 2020)

Over the years, Lebanon has taken on loan after loan for post war reconstruction. Today, per capita, Lebanon owes more than any other country in the world.  

On paper this makes it vulnerable, but the political realities of the Middle East mean that danger is unlikely ever to materialize.


“This level of public debt has created serious problems for other countries, but the difference is that there is a perception that Lebanon has friends with very deep pockets who will not let it go down financially,” says Edward Gardner of the IMF.

“This was demonstrated in 2006 war with Israel, when both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were very quick to deposit large sums of money into the Central Bank to help it to remain stable,” Mr Gardner added.

But Lebanon could still feel the aftershocks of the credit crunch.  

Every year, thousands of highly educated young people from Lebanon go to work abroad.

With some 12 million Lebanese overseas and only 3.5 million in the country, remittances make up a vital third of the economy. (Currently, there are over 16 millions overseas and above 6 millions in the country and more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees)

The rest of the world is now being forced to sober up after the wild excesses of the global markets, but in Lebanon the party’s on.

The Lebanese are a nation of survivors, who have paid a heavy price for the fortunes they are reaping now. (What fortune? Lebanon is Not generating wealth and has no raw materials to export and import most of everything…)

Through their troubles they have learned how to party as if tomorrow will never come, but also, against the odds, how to bank for their future. 

My niece might have felt a displaced pride of that content of the article and I had to reply to her.

I said: “I heard all that since the crisis.  It means only the banks are stable because it mainly loans to the bankrupt Lebanese government at high interest loans. Why our banks would care to speculate any further? (Lebanon has so far borrowed over $65 billions, (that in 2008) or at least four times its NGP, since 1994; a ratio that is still less than the US indebtedness). 

The Dawha (Qatar) political agreement among the Lebanese civil war militia sectarian caste leaders was forced by the rich Arab States, which helped Lebanon’s reconstruction after the July war of 2006, to safeguard their investments.  

I doubt that the people/pseudo citizens have experienced any results:

The prices are their highest when all over the world prices have dropped sharply.  We used to have Aspicot (aspirin for children) manufactured in Lebanon; for two months we have no Aspicot; everything is exported to the Arab States.  

The wholesalers import at low prices and sell at prices before the crisis because no prices have ever declined in Lebanon once they increase on rumors only.

I am not fooled and no Lebanese citizen is fooled.  What fortune are the little people reaping?

On the political front, Deputy and General Michel Aoun ended five days of an official trip to Syria.  

The Syrian people welcomed him enthusiastically and he was considered as the civilian Patriarch, not only of the Maronites but also of all the Christians in the Middle East.  

The two people have finally repaired the psychological barriers, (Funny. this term is also used by the western media to describe our enmities with the colonial apartheid implant of Israel) that divided them after 15 years of Syrian mandate in Lebanon.

Most of the inconsequential sectarian leaders in Lebanon felt very small after this courageous openness of Aoun and kept lambasting him even before his visit (they are the mouthpieces of Saudi Arabia).  

The truth is that the March 14 “alliance” does not dare criticize President Michel Suleiman and thus they target Aoun instead.

Former US President Carter is in Lebanon in order to ask for permission to monitor the coming election; he has met with most political party leaders.  Hezbollah did not accord him a private meeting.

President Suleiman is visiting Jordan.  The mouth pieces of Syria have been attacking the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and claiming that he is getting into one of his lunatic phases and he is no longer a viable entity as a leader of the Druze. (Nothing changed of this description even in 2021)

How Lebanon overcame 6 years of a useless President: Michel Suleiman

Note: updated post of 2014

How this Insipid President vacated the Palace? Account in banks by the millions, Not accounting for 2 dozens luxury cars, gifts from Qatar and Saudi Kingdom and many newly built villas

During the presidency of Suleiman,  no government was formed in less than 200 days, the recent government needed 395 days of gestation.

Lebanon ridiculous shadow State.

This ex-president Michel Suleiman, the President of the Void per excellence: no one cried when he vacated the Palace, accompanied by 10 new luxury cars of his own, free from taxes.

Suleiman was dreaming of extending his tenure 2 more years, as the Parliament did last year and robbed the citizens from their democratic rights, as did the ex-president Emil Lahoud, as did the late ex- president Hrawi…

The hopes of Suleiman were dashed since his passive practices and antagonistic positions on Hezbollah alienated the Shiaa and most of the Lebanese patriots.

Three months ago, in desperation, Suleiman referred to Hezbollah as talking with a “wooden tongue” since the resistance insisted on the strategic line of “People, Army and Resistance

In order to demonstrate that he can still deliver on his promises (6 years overdue) if given two more years, Saudi Arabia and the US gave the green light to the designated PM Saad Hariri, head of the Mustakbal (Future) movement, to help constitute a government that was 395 days in waiting.

The government started with a flurry of decisions, like imposing a climate of security in the city of Tripoli and the regions bordering Syria in the Bekaa Valley and appointed a dozen high-level public servants.

The public service was denied the  appointment of key personnel for a decade and the services in Lebanon were almost non-existent.

The professors and teachers in the public universities were left in the void and the government replaced the University Council in appointing and controlling every decision concerning the universities.

Suleiman delivered a farewell speech suggesting dozens of constitutional reforms and failed to deliver on his promises for decentralized administration, a project that was studied and finished when he took office, and alienated many parties and organization to boost the economy that has been experiencing a drastic slump for the last 3 years.

He also promised a fair election law, something related to proportional representation, but never acted on it.

He failed in extending rights to women or appointing more women in top posts.

Suleiman failed to efficiently control the flood of Syrian refugees, more than 1.25 million and constituting a third of the population, and allowed the Syrian insurgents to free flow and cross the Lebanese borders to Syria.

In essence, in 6 years, Suleiman cannot be remembered of creating any institution or bolstering any existing institution.

Suleiman was army chief when the Lebanese political leaders met in Do7a (Qatar) to decide on a replacement “neutral” Maronite  president to “lead” the country for 6 years.

On May 7, 2008 Hezbollah counter-attacked the decisions of the government to clip its control on the airport security and land communication lines. The government retracted and Hezbollah succeeded in closing down a dozen of Israeli safe havens for their agents and security offices disguised as providing civil guards to businesses and personalities.

Consequently, with ex-President Lahoud, already out with a vacant Presidential chair, and a government out of function, Qatar angered Saudi Arabia by inviting the Lebanese leaders to meet in Doha and arranged for a compromise President. And Suleiman sat on the chair of the presidency.

In democratic countries, the leader of the largest parliamentary deputies is the one selected to lead. Not in Lebanon with 19 officially recognized religious castes. That was the huge error of Michel Aoun to bow down on a right he deserved and allowed Suleiman to be President.

Lebanon is a parliamentary system: Nothing is run without the parliament approval, even in the executive or judiciary. But the leader of the largest group is not necessarily the de facto leader: The consensus of the two third of the deputies is required.

As the uprising started in Syria, the propaganda claimed that the regime of Bashar Assad will not last two months. And Suleiman put all his eggs in that basket of “after Bashar” regime and refrained from securing Lebanon’s borders from the infiltration of the Syrian insurgents and refugees.

For two years, Lebanon was the main source for supplying the insurgents in Homs with weapons and medical supplies, and the Syrian insurgents established bases in Lebanon in the north and in the city of Tripoli.

The Lebanese army was not covered politically to establish security in Tripoli, and Tripoli was plagued with 20 rounds of civil wars within a year.

And Lebanon experienced waves of suicide car explosion attacks for 4 months due to the open borders that the army was denied the responsibility to close and control

Suleiman filled a vacant chair and left the chair vacant: The Parliament failed to elect a new President to Lebanon.

And Lebanon has no President. And this event will keep recurring. As the frequency of Lebanon having no governments.

And no decision can be legitimate without the President review and signature.

Suleiman vacated the Palace with dozens of villas newly built for him and his family members, and $1.6 million in an account in Amsterdam Bank. All the expensive watches that he received in gifts were sold, many of them are in the black market. All these financial information were exposed in the Lebanese daily Al Akhbar.

And Suleiman satisfied the policies of US in the Near East, and consequently he can rest assured that he will not be prosecuted for any kinds of embezzlement or any kinds of political harassment or denied visas or any headaches

In this total void, and the illegitimacy of the highest institutions to properly function, Israel is increasing its violations on the southern borders.

Pretty soon, Hezbollah would set up a trap to the incursions of Israeli troops. And Israel will be faced with a hard decision on how to respond. And the Lebanese will be convinced that all the shouting of relying on the State is totally unfounded and premature.

Note: It is 2019. Sure the current President Michel Aoun, another former general of the army, a former appointed Prime minister during the civil war, an elected deputy, founder of the Tayyar party, exiled to France after the colonial powers decided to let Syria be the mandated power (1991 till 2005), while Israel was to occupy south Lebanon till it was forced to withdraw in 2000 without any precondition…

Finally, the majority of the parties in the Parliament agreed to have Aoun President since he had the vast majority of the “Christian” deputies. A new election law and a new election for the chamber of deputies (same figures and same hereditary tradition…).  The budget formally voted on since 2008, many tentative reform laws that have Not been applied…

And now a monster march/demonstration since October 17, 2019 that refuses to quit the streets in Beirut and several other cities, demanding a change in the political system (controlled since 1993 by the mafia/militia “leaders” of the civil war).  Promises, promises…

And the people are hungry, frustrated, trampled on, no electricity, no water, no resolution for the multiple kinds of pollution, no resolution for waste disposal, unclean water ways and seashore, no jobs, highest density of refugees, crumbling financial situation, high dept ($100 bn), no economic infrastructure, expensive services of all kinds

And No viable alternatives pointing in the horizon.

Tidbits and notes posted on FB and Twitter. Part 250

Note: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. I pay attention to researched documentaries and serious links I receive. The page of backlog opinions and events is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains a month-old events that are worth refreshing your memory

Another night dream. We are 4 persons on that trip, including a female. In my mind, we are traveling in Morocco (I have never been to North Africa). We are to visit a village/city. After many hours in a transportation mean (can’r recall a car or a bus), out of nowhere, a white village appears on a hill. Very pretty from afar.

The 4 of us are walking, the couple ahead of us. The more we walk the further the white village turns out to be.  I says to my companion: “this village looks like my village, but this one is by the sea and ours is red tiled”.

I guess that I heard the village had a university and I can try to find a position and settle for a year. We enter a college in a single building: the students wear uniforms: white shirt, navy trousers and navy tie. Up and down an elevator. I ask my companion why we are here. He said that he is waiting for a contact.

I’m getting bored and decided to go out. I remembered that I don’t carry the national currency, but I will not buy anything: I am going to search for the couple. I stepped out the building and I’m in a closed hall with kiosks and small shops around and also in the middle.

I’m roaming around looking for the couple. And I realized that everything is Dirty: the walls, the floors and the shirts of people. We cannot smell in a dream, but the sight disgusted me hugely. Even the environment outside is a chaos of dirt and burned grass. I had to wake myself up. it is 5 am.

Another night dream. I got my PhD in industrial/Human factors engineering many decades ago. Still, I dream of unfinished dissertation, and can’t hope of ever getting out of my miseries. 

Another night dream. I got out of this hole of a university town many decades ago. Still, I dream of roaming its streets, night clubs, cafe and noticing that shops have changed their businesses, even the post office has been transformed into something else.

Another night dream. I last saw our apartment in Beirut 2 decades ago before we sold it. And yet, I’m roaming the street of our quarter, getting lost and watching grueling scenery, such as crumbling buildings where a few adolescents have repainted it with rainbow color and plenty of lighting. Kind of living in a castle, though the area didn’t suffer much damages from the 13-year civil war. My mind likes to play terrible tricks so that I wake up and went to piss.

Victorine Brocher (1839-1921) wrote in “Une femme dans la Commune de Paris 1871”: Je temoigne afin encore de rendre quelque services aux vaincus (les republicains)

Iran promised to retaliate to the deaths of 4 Iranians by Israeli missiles on T4 airfield in Homs, Syria. When, where and how are questions that are giving terrible nightmares to Israel cabinet and intelligence services.

When you are forced to live on a mountain or a desert environment, all alone, it is inevitable that a time will come when a God tells you in a vision: “Okay, now you may return home”

Consistently, Hezbollah is the only political and social organization in Lebanon that delivers on its promises and execute its decisions. These successes are based on constituting and establishing specialized working “cells” for each program before announcing the event.

Except Hezbollah, most other Lebanon “political parties” are Not social parties: they care less to connect and communicate with citizens. They are mostly attached to a militia/mafia “leader”, sort of romancing the “Glorious Past” of the civil war

Two ancient political parties are ideological (of the 20’s), but they failed to make a dent in Lebanon political structure in the last 70 years

Any potential deputies who is reluctant to back Hezbollah’s war on militias highway robbers of the State revenues “fassaad” is Not my candidate.

Al Tayyar (the party of the current President of the Republic Michel Aoun)is doing his best to deliver on promises, but has been burning steps and getting entangled in side shows. Their motto in this election is “Back the President of the Republic” (da3m al 3ahed) in order to side step the confusion in convincing voters.

The Tayyar is the only party that successfully ran 5 democratic elections within the party in the last 3 years


Lebanon has a new Parliament, after 9 years. Most devilish and creative new Election Law

Note 1: I started writing this report the day after the election on May 7, and had to wait for the “official” count that was Not forthcoming for another 3 days. I conjecture that the government is weary of officially signing on the final list of winners, due to many contesting candidates, Not just on the counting procedure, but mainly on the lack of training of the appointed judges in deciding on winners and losers according to this first new election law.

Note 2: the tone of this election was denying Saudi Kingdom and USA any claim that the Lebanese are against Hezbollah and its allies. The election proved without any doubt that the Resistance against Israel and the terrorist factions (supported by Saudi Kingdom and USA) won the choice of the people: More than the absolute majority in this parliament of 128 deputies. Also, the preferred votes for Hezbollah candidates represented 72% of all the Shi3a voters, way ahead of his ally Shia party of Amal, headed by Nabih Berry, chairman of the Parliament since 1991.

Note 3: Your religious and sect affiliation counts heavily on your chance for being a winner since the number of seats in the Parliament are divided according to the 19 religious sects that are officially recognized by the political system. For example, All the Christian sects are entitled to 50% of the seats (including the minority sects), all the Sunni sects, (including Druze) 25%, and all the Shia sects the remaining 25% of the seats. Though the Muslims currently constitute more than 65% of the population

The concept of proportionality in this law revolves around the voting quotient or dividend (7aasel intikhabi)

For example, if in a district that has 5 lists of candidates  (each list containing no less than 4 candidates by law), the total votes in the district is divided by 5. The result constitute the dividing line for a list to be eligible for proportional selection. The preferred votes for a candidate in the list can give him a seat in the Parliament if the list crossed the Quotient.

And how many candidates in a list can be selected to win? The total votes in a district in divided by the quotient number. If a list obtain for example 4.6, then it is entitled to 5 candidates in the selection among the other lists. 

So, if a candidate in this list obtain far less preferred votes than another candidate in another list, he can still be a winner due to other sects, minority and political parties opting to vote for his list.

Saying that this candidate was no match to another candidate in another list is irrelevant since you have to add the preferred votes to all the votes the list gathered. Though, this deputy must be cognizant that his representative sect didn’t favor him.

Many candidates got more than other candidates in other lists by adding the preferred votes, but since his list failed to get the quotient, he was Not selected as winner. At least 4 candidates received less than 500 preferred votes and still were voted in because his list received larger numbers of voters.

If a voter select the preferred candidate but didn’t tick off the list, the vote is valid for the entire list.

Thus, a winner cannot get more than twice the votes that his list received: The preferred vote has to be selected from the list.

Obviously, the more the list of candidate in a district, the lower the quotient, which would allow more unknown candidates in other lists to be elected.

Two main drawback for submitting your candidature:

  1. You must block about $100,000 in a bank account for the duration of the campaign and pay a non-refundable $6,000 for the expenses of the government budget to run the election. This eliminates many potential candidates who lack the necessary financial requirements.
  2.  You have to be able to enlist at least 3 more candidates in your list in your district to challenge the other lists that are supported by heavy weight political parties and deep pocket candidates. And be sure no one in your list will drop out of the race after the deadline to chose another candidate.

In any case, this post will ultimately be re-edited for additional information and opinions

The new Lebanon Parliament has 76 new deputies out of the 128. Actually, there are about 60 fresh deputies who will have to learn the ropes and to get used to say “yes, yes, boss”. The other deputies were Not in the previous parliament, but were deputies in other Parliaments and know “how it works”.

The deputies who returned after 9 years of extended tenure are mostly active, dynamic, well cultured and educated, with experience in public affairs.

And as expected, the main militia/mafia leaders during the civil war returned to Parliament

Since Independence, the election law was the “majority takes all the seats” and thus denied many political parties any representation in the Parliament.

In this election, turnout rates were dismal in most of the 15 districts: under 40%. Only about 4 districts managed to eek over 55%. Ashrafiyyeh witnessed a 30% rate. The district of Beirut #2 (supposedly the Hariri fiefdom) returned only 40%.

There are 3 main reasons for voters denying the traditional parties a high turnover rate of over 55% that they needed to sweep the election:

  1. In the last 9 years, a block of new eligible voters 800,000 emerged from the shadow of “doing politics”. They expressed their disgust from denying them their rights for voting in 2013. Thus, they refraining from any participation.
  2. The Sunni voters who constantly voted for late Rafiq Hariri (Al Moustakbal movement) expressed their distrust of Saad Hariri political positions by punishing him in Beirut and every district they could.
  3. Mind you that there are about 400,000 Lebanese immigrants in the Gulf State, and they refrained from flying over and vote

The new Election Law for Parliament that Lebanon voted under is the most Devilish and creative law that only Lebanese can conceive of.

The main thrust of this law is that every political party was pressured Not to ally with other parties, in districts they don’t have crushing majority.

The rational of the election law was that the introduction of a single preferred choice for a candidate in a list of candidates will give the leader of the list a higher chance to be elected. This strategy allowed many sub-leaders to be selected for a seat in the Parliament.

The majority of deputies in the previous Parliament didn’t fully assimilate the concept, but for sure the 6 leaders who run the country, fully assessed the consequences of the election law. The hot-headed “leaders” with some concentration in a district signed up to the law: they wanted to fool themselves as mass leaders.

The results proved that only political parties with actual mass following in most districts won sizable blocks of deputies.

Only political parties with definite mass based managed to round up sizable blocks in the Parliament. 

Lebanon President Michel Aoun said: Using the preferred choice of a candidate in a list is the most potent decision to bring deputies whom you want to serve you. Having to select the entire list (political trend), as the law forces upon you, should Not deter you from selecting the list that include your preferred candidate.

“sawtak al tabdili bi jeeb al naaeb al nazeeh bi yeshteghel lel sha3b. Consequence: al listaat elleh fihom kayk naw3 min al mourrashaheen mafroud tenja7 wa t3abber 3an raghbat fi moukafa7at al fassaad”.

The main fault is that new law is dividing Lebanon in 15 districts commensurate to religious sects majority, as previously suggested in an alternative law, labelled “The Orthodox Law”.


Their wings were clipped in this new Lebanon Parliament: The civil war militia/mafia leaders, source of most of the spoilage of the budget and foreign aids barely managed to bring 45 deputies out of 128.

For example: Nabih Berry of Amal party (13 + 3 allies and thanks to Hezbollah), Walid  Jumblat (5+4 allies) and the Al Moustakbal (20) had their noses dirtied in the mud.

Samir Ja3ja is a civil war militia leader but was caste out of the spoilage, since he was the only one to serve 13 years in prison, in this war that denied every Lebanese party any victory. Syria was the only victor.

The Christian political parties (Tayyar and Lebanese Forces) practically closed traditional feudal “Houses” such as the Frangiyyeh in Zghorta/Ehden (2 +2 allies), and the Kataeb (The Phalanges) 3 deputies. The same process that Hezbollah did since its inception for closing Shia “Feudal Houses” in South Lebanon.

The Sunni voters in this new law actually opened “Houses“( “leaders”, such as Mikati and Faisal Karami in Tripoli, Abdel Rahim Mraad (West Bekaa) and Makhzoumi (Beirut) and Mustafa Sa3d in Saida) due to Moustakbal refusing to ally with them in this election.

The Druze voters re-opened the House of Erslan, after Walid Jumblat closed it according to the previous majority take all seats law, in vigor since Independence in 1943.

The largest block of deputies 29 belong to the “Christian” Tayyar of the actual President Michel Aoun, and was the only party that covered all 15 districts with 43 candidates.

Next is the Al Moustakbal (Saad Hariri) with 19 instead of 33 in the last Parliament, Amal of Nabih Berry 16, Lebanese Forces 16 from 6 previously, Hezbollah 13 (as the law restrict the number of Shia representation to 27 deputies and Hezbollah has to split with Amal party of Nabih Berry, the Parliament chairman).

The block of deputies steadfastly against opening regular lines of communication with the Syrian regime in order to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees (over 1.5 million) and the reconstruction of Syria is constituted as follow: Mustakbal 19, Lebanese Forces 16 , Walid Jumblat 9 and Kataeb 3, or  47 deputies

The civil secular movement was represented in 11 districts with 66 candidates under the name “Kelna Loubnan“. Paula Ya3koubian managed to be elected in Ashrafiyyeh.

Actually, the movement gathered by the thousands in front of the Ministry of interior reclaiming a recount because Joumana Hadad celebrated at night and woke up with a different news. Actually, the list of Hadad couldn’t sustain 2 winning candidates due to the level of its quotient.

6 women  entered the Parliament. Setrida  (wife of Samir Ja3ja3) is the only one from the previous Parliament. (Ja3ja3 means the one who babel, talking nonsense)

It is to be noted that the combined preferred votes for the candidates of Hezbollah and the Tayyar constitutes an absolute majority of the voters in this election.

I suggest the reformed law to divide Lebanon in 3 voting districts that have about equal voting population and variety in religious sects:

District #1: Based in Tripoli with districts of Akkar, Donniyyeh, Hermel, Baalbek, Betroun, Zghorta, Bshareh, Koura.

District #2: Based in Beirut with districts of B3abda, Shouf, Aley,  Za7leh, Keserwan, Byblos, and North Metn

District #3: Based in Saida with districts of Tyr, Nabatiyyeh, Marje3youn, Jezzine, Rashayya, Hasbayya and western Bekaa.

Note 1: The laziest, most disoriented and impotent political party (who has members in all the 15 districts) in this election proved to be the Lebanese based Syria National Social Party (SNSP). Its “leadership” failed to assimilate the advantages of the law and didn’t mine any of its opportunities and potentials. It went about with its traditional crawling process of affiliating with same parties to snatch a few candidates (3 deputies at best) as it did in previous elections.

Note 2: Only 2 political parties are secular and have mix of various religious sects as members, and they are the first serious parties that were formed in the 30’s: The Communist and Lebanon based Syria National Social Party (SNSP). They failed to make any impact on the social fabric after 1960, due to the previous election law.

Note 3: Active and organized parties formed lists of candidates in most of the districts, and the preferred candidate clause in each list permitted them to win fresh new deputies. For example, the block of The Lebanese Forces won 16 deputies (10 members and 6 allies) and outnumbered the Druze party of Walid Jumblat and came close to the Moustakbal.

Note 4: The 2 largest “Christian” parties gathered 45 deputies out of 64 allowed. The other 19 Christian deputies pay allegiance to Walid Jumblat, Nabih Berry, Al Moustakbal, and the Phalanges party.

Note 5: Weird facts: 3 candidates in their 3 respective separate voting centers discovered that the results of their voting center returned Zero vote for each of them. It is becoming clear that there was fraud in the district of Beirut #2 in order to elect the minister of the Interior.

For example, the list of Independent candidates thought that they secured the signature of Beirut governor on their representatives in the voting centers, to discover that the governor reneged on his signature on the day voting day. Consequently, without representatives, these candidates were open to witness massive fraud concerning the results. The governor could not apply this ignominy on the parties in power against Al Moustakbal and won 5 seats out of 13 allocated to this district.

Note 6. The block of deputies of President Michel Aoun is of 29, Al Tayyar , is the one that decides on the laws:  The number of Tayyar= Hezbollah +Amal.  Tayyar= Moustakbal + Jumblat. Tayyar= Lebanese Forces + Kataeb +Frangiyeh + Moustakeleen +

Note 7: Comparing numbers in this election has no substantive meaning if taken out of context, the block of voters in each district, the number of lists of candidates, and the variety of religious sect in the district.

For example, how can we compare if we fail to factor in that the Shias constitute 40%, the Sunnis 35% and all the Christian sect barely 25% of the entire population? Sure, the last census was done in 1932, by analyzing this election, the proportions I submitted are no hoax.

Note 8: This is my 5th update of this article in order to clarify the process and the results of this election

Note 9: Finally the official results and counts, though the news papers are still reluctant of posting any official results: You may find the details of the numbers of each candidate on

Beware: This investigation can turn from ball of fire to rolling hill of fire

After the liberation of the eastern mountain chains in Lebanon (Jroud Ersal and Al Qaa3) from ISIS and Al Nusra extremist Islamic factions, Lebanon can boast to be the first State to be cleansed of concentration of terrorist factions.

These terrorist factions occupied the mountain chains since 2013 and the minister of defense (Ghosn) publicly announced these mass infiltration into our border.

The government of Tamam Salam PM and President Michel Suleiman made sure to deny the facts announced by the minister of defense. The government then was betting on the USA/ France plan to  successfully getting rid of Syria President Assad: Many Lebanese political parties were inclined to view any opposition group in Syria as allies.

Most of the citizens and the government and the political parties Knew that Al Nusra is a Qaeda-based movement and basically the military wing of the Syrian Moslem Brotherhood and is Not an alternative to the Syrian regime and Not fit run a country.

The mass rallies and upheaval in Tripoli and Sidon for these movements, encouraged by the  obscurantist Sunni clerics and political leaders, cowed the government into leaving the border towns and villages without military protection.

In 2013, the government decided to take control of the big town of Ersal after it proved to be the main source of supplying the terrorists with logistics, and also from dispatching suicide car bombs into different regions in Lebanon.

The small army contingent entered the town and the terrorists killed and slaughtered many soldiers and officers in front of the town inhabitants.  Hezbollah resistance forces fought side by side with the army to save the remaining trapped soldiers

In 2014, the army was dispatched again to take control of the town and while shelling the concentrations of the terrorist factions, Al Nusra and ISIS coordinated their attacks and took 2 dozen soldiers and internal forces hostages

The army had the means to free the hostages, but the general commander Shamel Roukoz received order from the chief of staff Kahwaji to refrain from liberating the hostages.

The Al Nusra took the internal forces as prisoners and ISIS 9 of the army soldiers.

Two years later, Al Nusra eventually liberated its prisoners after negotiations

Isis put to death its 8 prisoners in 2015, one of them might have joined ISIS, The Lebanese government knew this piece of intelligence but refrained to share it with the beleaguered families for 3 years.

The families gathered almost every day, for 3 years, demanding information of the status of their children, to No avail.

After ISIS surrendered, the army was able to locate the exact burying ground of the soldiers martyrs.

Now, all hell is braking loose: Why the army failed to liberate the soldiers in the early days of the hostage taking? Why the families were made to endure 3 years the missing of their sons while the government knew of their status?

President Michel Aoun has announced that an investigation to reach the Truth will be undertaken. And Hezbollah’s general secretary Nasr Allah also demanded a full investigation.

Follow the money trail Mr. President. Let the investigation start with this gold thread to unravel the Truth on these infamous leaders who got richer on the blood of the countless martyrs and suffering of the relatives.
All those in power vacated their palaces and responsibilities with suitcases filled with money, and fleet of 4*4 and Mercedes cars.
If the investigation, of the capture of soldiers made hostages by ISIS while the army was capable of liberating them in 2014 in Ersaal, and slaughtered in 2015 without the courage to relaying this information to their parents and relatives, is going to dwell on the foreign pressures in our internal affairs, this Ball of Fire is going to balloon into a rolling Hill of fire.
Once the Hill of fire catches on, the USA will execute its plan to exact its revenge on its defeat in Lebanon.
Note 1: USA had pressured the government to at least delay the liberation from ISIS and blackmailed the President that it will no longer extend weapons to the army if the decision is carried out.
President Aoun convened the High Defense Council, in the presence of Saad Hariri PM, and took the sovereign decision to carry on the decision to free our mountain chains. Hezbollah and the Syrian army had the harder task of liberating the much larger portion on the Syrian side, but the timing and coordination of the military operations were excellent.
Note 2: USA was so unhappy that it bombed a bridge that the convoy of Syrian buses, carrying 300 ISIS fighters and 400 members of their families, on route to reach the Syrian border city Boukamal with Iraq.
Note 3: 7 Syrian and 7 Lebanese soldiers were martyred, along with 11 of Hezbollah resistance forces. Before vanquishing ISIS, Hezbollah had recovered the territory under Al Nusra terrorists and made a deal with them to transfer 1,000 of the fighters and 7,000 extremist supporters to the province of Idlib, also in Syrian buses convoy
Note 4: The Syrian regime managed the feat of establishing free educational system to all, and free health care to all and was self-autonomous economically and financially. It was one of the rare States without any sovereign debt

Notes and comments on FB and Twitter. Part 13

Michel Aoun, the only President to Lebanon that: 1. the people know him, 2. has the largest representative block in Parliament. 3. has actually resisted foreign occupations

Ce decalage infime qui pourrit tout ce qui est beau et la possibilite de la perfection. Faisons adieux a toutes les synchronisations forcés

Nous denoncons du crime de vanité la soif de domination qui agite tout le monde. Et la force de discours bien appris qui portent au nues les creations de l’homme? C’est pas aussi des illusions de vanité?

On m’a fait assez de reproches pour la guerre et pour la paix. Agisser pour la paix et cesser d’entendre les autres reproches

All the religious sects in Lebanon must be believing in Purgatory: Our judicial system is in permanent este2naaf

The concept of purgatory is beautiful: we can live in the hope for a possible retrial

William Lloyd Garrison? He published the daily The Liberator in Boston in 1830 for the emancipation of the slaves. 30 years later, the civil war broke out and Abraham Lincoln managed the feat for enacting this law. Lincoln and Garrison should share the honor and the award. Another century had to elapse before the technically slaves enjoy the fruit of the Law.

It is universally acknowledged that every paradigm shift must be condemned as heresy before becoming a myth. It starts by being persecuted and live to be trashed in the waste bin.

BDl Accelerate 2016? ends this Saturday at 6 pm at the Forum? Fi sa5a2, fi tonzeem, fi balash, fi standaat, fi token to eat… bass ma fi 3elm.  The talks are of the general kinds, as if the audience is Not fit or Not willing to listen to details or the speakers were Not remunerated properly to invest in preparing their talks. You won’t learn about the details of the processes, the design, the redesign and the errors that have been resolved…Ma btet3alam shi. My experience this Thursday. Check the second floor for the new upstarts in Lebanon and abroad: very useful

Tu vis, tu meurs, ce sont des consequences. Pouquoi pas? Et les evenements collateraux?  Qu’a t’on construit pour ces genres de consequences?

Une education civilisé? Maitriser la violence individuelle dans sa societé. Et répandre avec acharnement notre violence primitive contre les autres societies, celles qui non pas les moyens de se defender contre les armes a longue distance.

International Courts are impotent and useless against those rascals who committed mass crimes against humanity because their Nations allow them to enjoy judicial immunity.

One person is missing and you are lost. If you experienced that feeling once, consider you lived a full life.

Poor people dream of new venues and perspectives: They are ready to give credibility to the well-off. Those who pass them by as fathoms.

It is Not plagiarism if you can go to the original sources: thousands of years ago.

How can we “cultivate” the people in a rotten political system? We always need gradual changes in reforms that allows a mass reform of our cultural heritage.

It must be universality acknowledged that absolute justice is worse than tyranny: Written laws that cannot be applied on the ground generate chaotic informal practices in economy and all facets in the daily survival quest

Avons-nous renouncé a la rencontre? A connaitre nos voisins au moins?

Comment ne pas essayer d’oublier ces vieux prés de la mort? Comment amener un peu de repis a une existence d’ennui, d’amertume et de ressassment? Comment construire notre present avec joie, Esperance et acharnement?

Les femmes croient fermement que la plus terrible phrase qui offense leurs maris est: “Tu es un lache, un peureux inveteré”. La belle affair: si elles pouvaient laisser les maris tranquille pour tout le rest.

We are all cowards, in more than one way, and we know it. Please, desist from reminding us of that.


This implicit new Constitution in Lebanon

Militia Leaders with veto power

Many believe that when tensions and conflicts in a political system include mechanisms for a political mediation to vent out violent resentments, then adopting violent means is no longer necessary.

In working democratic systems, people marching for a demand is a good enough opportunity for the system to listen carefully to the request of the people.

The people who felt this urge to get out to the streets and demonstrate must have kept their latent violent feeling under check for too long, and it is a good policy to tend to the voices of the demonstrators. A hundred demonstrators suffice for the mediation process to get activated and serious negotiation taking place.

The marching phenomena in Lebanon is evidence that one or several main leaders are critical of current politics and are sending the proper message to the government.

When Lebanon cease marching and demonstrating, it is an indication that the leaders are negotiating and trying to reach a consensus. Thus, demonstrating in Lebanon gives the cue that a few main leaders are not satisfied with their quota in the loot for public funds.

The main problem in Lebanon is that the institutional framework that was developed over 70 years, with endless patching up sections added to it, most of it implicit or verbal, is a process of consensus among the main ethnic-religious schisms and feudal tribes who are considered to constitute the fabric of this patched up society.

The constitution was frequently a scapegoat or smokescreen to pass policies against the interest of the common people. The constitution is implicitly admitted to be broken at wish and temporary laws replacing the constitution until the original constitution is forgotten and no longer taken seriously.

Essentially, the current implicit “reformed constitution” is to give veto power to about 5 leaders on “critical matters” that keep changing.

Each religious sect has appointed civil political leaders to represent its interest, in addition to the religious clerics. When a major religious sect ends up with more than one powerful civil leaders (militia), then a civil war is expected within the sect until a resolution is found.

For example, in the Christian religious sects many leaders battled for prominence, and they all failed after the war ended. Aoun found political asylum in France and Jeaja was put in prison for 11 years.

After the Syrian troops vacated Lebanon in 2005, Aoun returned and Jeaja was set free for political purpose in order to counter the Aoun ascendance.

The current battle for leadership is among Gen, Michel Aoun (Tayyar movement), Samir Ja3ja (Lebanese Forces), Suleiman Frangieh in the northern part, and to a lesser extent the Phalange party represented by Amine Gemayyel.

The Shiaa Muslim sect battled between Amal militia represented by current Parliament head Nabih Berry and Hezbollah.

Berry was Syria Man and still is and has become the broker of politicians. Amal and Hezbollah reached a consensus on dividing the roles and currently form the most cohesive and powerful section in Lebanon’s politics, in number, in firepower and organization.

The Sunni Muslim sect battled among many leaders and the assassination of scores of them until late Rafic Hariri purchased the sole leadership with Saudi funding.

After the assassination of Rafic in 2005, the Sunnis tried to affiliate and bring back old leaders and assemble around their local leaders.  Currently, Saad Hariri  (son of Rafic and the chief of Future movement or Mustakbal, mostly in absentia, navigating between Paris and Saudi Arabia) is being imposed upon the Sunnis as their leader with the same Saudi funding and political pressures.

The Druze  sect managed to get more political clout that their number represents because they allied behind a single leader Walid Jumblat who inherited the leadership from his late assassinated father Kamal Jumblat.

The current 5 leaders were generated during the lengthy civil war (1975-89) and several of them inherited their fathers’ leadership.

Basically, the current veto power holders are: Saad Hariri, Walid Jumblat , Michel Aoun , Samir Ja3ja, and Nabih Berry (voicing the desires and positions of Hezbollah).

These leaders split the spoil of public funds and distribute the loot among their subordinate. Kind of Lebanon decided in the last decade not to submit an official budget for the Parliament to vote on. Every month, the main political leaders get their cuts handed over through the ministries in the government that they secured through months of haggling before a government is formed.

The Parliamentary system failed to elect a new President to the Republic for 11 months now.

The former president Michel Suleiman had appointed 3 ministers in the current government as his quota in the spoil, though he has no deputies and has no political party. Ironically, he is still meeting regularly with these ministers, flaunting all decent constitutional customs.

The former President was elected with Syria blessing. When Syria got in trouble, he shifted allegiance to the Saudi Arabia block of regional alliances in order to receive his share of the loot.

It is understandable in this mercantile State: The more powerful Iranian regional block has not the financial means or international clout to cover the President financial exigencies and to travel the world as an acceptable and honored president.

And why no President is about to be elected?

We have no legitimate parliament. and the government is working under a consensus that all the ministers have to agree on any decree, even the most trivial of decisions.

And security received a universal tacit approval that no major disturbances are to take place in the time being. For executing this tacit security deal, the political parties got the orders to meet and start the negotiation processes, two at a time.

A so the nemesis of Hezbollah and the Future are meeting at Nabih Berry palace. And the historic enemies of Aoun and Jeaja are also meeting. And nobody believe that any of these duo negotiations will approach and discuss the main critical divergences.

Protracted negotiations just to give the impression that a resolution could become possible once the green light has been received: kind of putting the final editing touch to the deals before the order is dispatched.

Hapless, tiny and impoverished Lebanon happened to have this red line crossing its land: The regional powers divide between the Saudi Arabia block and Iran block. And these two regional blocks are waiting for the USA and Russia to reach a negotiated settlement over Ukraine, and particularly, the fate of Mariopol, a tiny port city in the Ukraine.

Even the signing of nuclear deal with Iran, which has been finalized, is postponed until the USA and Russia agree on a resolution.

And the hapless Lebanese are being caught between bears, wolves, eagles and jackasses.

Note: Turkey got out of its cocoon during the Arab Spring revolutions and got involved heavily in supporting the various national Moslem Brotherhood movements. The Arab States and Iran managed to return Turkey back to its cocoon and clip its wings as it was getting immersed in the Arab World.

In reaction and retaliation, Turkey of Erdogan directly supported all the extremist Sunni terrorist movements such as ISIS and the Nusra Front in Syria and Iraq. Turkey is the main entry point for all the extremists willing to join the terrorists in Syria and Iraq, and Turkey has dispatched 10,000 of its citizen to join the fray.

Turkey wants its piece of the cake in the regional power tug of war before relinquishing its support to the terrorist movements.


Catastrophic Constitutional Vacuum in Lebanon? Lebanese don’t care...

When Lebanese President Michel Suleiman’s term ended on May 25, he left a vacuum that some fear could further erode the influence of Christians in a turbulent region consumed with sectarian infighting.

 of published this June 2, 2014


Sleiman’s  (tacit “constitutional”) post has traditionally been held by a Christian, in the delicate sectarian balance of a nation made up of (19 officially recognized religious sects).

Currently, the vast majority of the population of Shiite Muslims is supported by Iran. The Sunni Muslims are mainly backed by Saudi Arabia.

Five attempts by parliament to reach a deal to fill the presidency have failed, leaving an impasse that not only exacerbates political and social polarization in the country, but also weakens the Christian community in the Middle East, where Christian presence is rapidly disappearing.

“With Lebanon you can never tell when the combination of internal struggle and external regional struggle will fuse together in a combustible way,” says New York University Middle East expert Mohamad Bazzi.

“The more instability and insecurity in Lebanon, the more likely there will be violence in car bombs and potentially worse. The Lebanese Christians are also watching the fate of fellow Christians in Syria, the violence against them from Sunni jihadists.”

David Hale, the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, urged Lebanon to seize the opportunity “to elect a new president without allowing any other country to dictate the results.” (And what was the purpose of Kerry’s visit to Lebanon, coinciding with election in Syria?)

The Lebanese people need leadership “made in Lebanon,” he said. “The price of a power is “simply too high. The United States supports this Lebanese process.”

As part of the Taif Agreement, a national reconciliation accord that ended Lebanon’s civil war (1975-1990), Maronite Christians, who had historically held the presidency and appointed the government, maintained the position of head of state but were forced to hand over the leadership of the government to the Sunnis.

The Christian president retains powers such as making recommendations for top military posts and the signing of international treaties, but he needs the prime minister’s cabinet approval. A Shiite always hold the position of speaker of parliament. (Nabih Berri, a civil war warlord, has been holding that post for 3 decades now)

This power-sharing arrangement, based on demographics in 1989, forced the Christians, who had historically been in charge of appointing the country’s prime minister, to accept that they had lost their majority to the Muslims after 1 million Lebanese, mostly Christians, emigrated during Lebanon’s civil war.

“The Lebanese Christians are also watching the fate of fellow Christians in Syria, the violence against them from Sunni jihadists,” says Bazzi, explaining why many Christians in Lebanon and Syria have chosen to side with Hezbollah by fighting on the side of the Syrian government of Bashar Assad.

“Christian communities like historic Maaloula have been decimated by al-Nusra and other Sunni militants. For the Christians the Assad regime is the best worst option because at least Assad won’t want to eliminate the Christians.”

Hezbollah and its Christian political allies hold more than one-third (how about more than half?) of the cabinet seats of the Lebanese government. This consolidation of power potentially gives them the ability to overthrow the government. Lebanon has already lost core components of statehood to Hezbollah, which brazenly follows its own military and foreign policy.

Hezbollah’s political camp has boycotted parliamentary sessions to elect the president, claiming that they want a “consensus candidate” rather than the “provocative candidate” (another warlord Samir Geaja who served 11 years of a prison term) the Mustakbal Sunnis want.

Among a field of potential Christian leaders who seek the presidency are heavy-hitters from rival camps. Samir Geagea heads the Lebanese Forces, one of 12 parties that belong to March 14, an alliance of  Christian militia groups and the Saudi-backed Sunni Future Movement, based on the date of a massive rally that pressured Syria to end its occupation of Syria. (It was the Tayyar movement of Gen. Michel Aoun that brought this massive rally)

Of the candidates, he is the most outspoken critic of Hezbollah, running on a platform of independence from Iranian and Syrian interference (but not from independence of Israel and the USA)

Geagea’s main rival is Gen. Michel Aoun, who leads the Free Patriotic Movement that is part of the March 8 alliance (the date of a huge pro-Hezbollah demonstration), an Iran-Syrian-backed coalition of Hezbollah, Amal, another Shiite militia whose leader is Nabih Berri, the current speaker of parliament. March 14 accuses Aoun of being a stooge for Hezbollah.

“Difficulty at filling the post of head of state, which takes a two-thirds majority in parliament, is not new to Lebanon,” says popular Lebanese Christian politician Ziyad Baroud, who served as minister of interior and municipalities for two consecutive governments.

Despite sectarian problems facing Lebanon, Baroud believes that moderate Christians, Druze and Sunni and Shiite Muslims can work together to build a democratic country (if the political climate around Lebanon permit it?)

“Christians play a role of moderation in Lebanon,” according to Baroud, who hopes the current presidential vacuum leads to the selection of a leader who will work to unify the nation. “At a time when there are major problems in the region, it is good timing for Lebanon to offer an example of living together in peaceful coexistence. Christians, more than any other community, have historical responsibility to carry this into the future. 

Lebanon’s presidential crisis of today comes with tremendous internal and external pressures.

Over the past year, Lebanese Sunni jihadis and their rivals Hezbollah have been battling each other in Syria, and the violence has spilled over into Lebanon with at least 16 car bombs and a spate of assassinations. Compounding this unrest are the more than 1 million refugees, mostly Sunni, from the civil war in Syria.

The refugees have increased Lebanon’s population by close to 25% (how about 40%?), creating social pressures and altering the sectarian balance in the small nation. “Try to imagine the United States or France suddenly ending up with an additional 25 percent of their population to cope with, “ says Baroud. “When you add it to the Palestinian refugees, you can imagine what is the impact on this country.”

Staying out of the Syrian civil war is arguably the most critical challenge for Lebanon. “The proxy war that the Saudis (backed by the US and western European States) and Iranians are playing in Syria has unleashed forces that they cannot completely control, both in Syria and the broader region,” says Mohamad Bazzi, who points out that the rival Muslim powers are deeply involved in promoting their agendas in Lebanon.

“The Saudis and Iranians are crafty and can instigate things, but they cannot always control it. When the genie is out of the bottle, you might not be able to put it back in,” Bazzi warns. “That is the case of Syria and the potential danger for Lebanon.”

It may be weeks, even months, until a president takes office in one of the most challenging political environments on Earth and dangerous, too.

There is a long list of assassinated Lebanese political figures — from mayors to prime ministers to presidents. “I don’t have fear,” says Baroud. “The fact that we are still in Lebanon and feel something can be done is what matters. It is not about rational thinking, it is about feelings.”

(And what are these feeling? Of utter disgust of this pseudo State?)

Note: Those parties who refuse to elect Gen. Michel Aoun (leader of the far largest Christian block in the Parliament) have been hinting that Hezbollah (ally to Aoun movement) is blocking an election of a President in order to reform the Taef Agreement and have the Shiaa be represented politically as constituting the third of the population (this sect is actually 50% of the population).

Hassa Nasr Allah said in his recent speech that it was the French who suggested this reform a few years ago, but Hezbollah has no intention of demanding such kind of power sharing.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon: Understanding racism?

A Syrian refugee, when asked how Lebanon was treating him, lamented and said:

“How is it treating me? It isn’t treating me, it treats my money. Because of the nature of my job (veterinarian) I’m dealing with middle upper class Lebanese who only make their judgments based on money. They see that I’m here spending, and they see that I too come from the middle classes so they don’t show as much bigotry as it is normally the sentiment against us (Syrians) in Lebanon”.

Mohamad Ali-Nayel, Bassem Chit published this October 28, 2013 on Civil Society Knowledge Center

Understanding racism against Syrian refugees in Lebanon

The end of Lebanon’s civil war was marked by a more direct hegemonic role of the Syrian regime over the country’s political and economic spheres, with a high level of complicity from the Lebanese rulers with the Syrian regime.

This status quo allowed the Syrian regime to escape the economic stagnation that the country faced (1), through the open borders policy, allowing scores of Syrian workers to come to Lebanon in search of jobs.

And it gave the Lebanese ruling class and its contractors access to cheap labor, without providing them with any rights, in the large reconstruction projects that were initiated by the government in the early 1990’s, after 15 years of civil war.


Syrian refugees in UNHCR waiting room, Beirut, Lebanon | Photo by:

Resentment against the Syrian regime’s control over Lebanon grew in the post-civil war years, yet this discontent was easily channeled through the dominant discourses into an unchallenged (neither by the Syrian or Lebanese State, nor by the majority of civil society organizations and political parties in Lebanon) xenophobic and racist sentiments against Syrian workers.

The Syrian workers became stereotyped and stigmatized as “ignorant” and “menial” workers. Although it was exactly this Syrian labor force that rebuilt Lebanon in the post-war era.

The ongoing popular uprising that started in Syria in early 2011, especially after the oppressive response by the regime, has now turned into an all-out war across the country.

As a result, a high number of Syrian citizens fled their country into Lebanon. Yet, and in contrast to the previous composition of the Syrian community that was present in Lebanon before 2011, this new influx introduced new and different segments of the Syrian population into Lebanon, such as the Syrian upper and lower middle classes.

These newcomers found striking similarities with the Lebanese middle classes. However, the majority of refugees is still composed of Syrian workers and the urban and rural poor.

The multi-class composition of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has challenged pre-existing xenophobic sentiments and stigmas, as the starting quote mentions:“They see that I’m here spending, and they see that I too come from the middle classes so they don’t show as much bigotry as it is normally the sentiment against us (Syrians) in Lebanon”.

However, it only does so on a class basis. The Syrian middle classes are able, in effect, albeit to a small extent, to escape the stigmatization, which is becoming more and more focused and concentrated on poor and working class Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

At the same time, the influx of Syrian refugees is also shaping contradictory sentiments among the wider populace in Lebanon.

On one side there is an element of basic sympathy, which can be identified through a diverse scope of activities such as Lebanese families hosting refugees in their homes or property, as well as basic support like clothing and food in different regions and locations in cities and villages. As a 50 year old woman comments, contemplating that issue of basic sympathy: It is unethical to blame the refugees for the problems we are facing, they had no choice in coming here, they are running from war, like we ran before them from the [Lebanese] civil war”.

On the other side, there are the dominant discourses propagated by leading political forces and elites, along with their affiliated media stations. They have been actively scapegoating Syrian refugees and blaming them for economic, social and security failures in the country. These discourses are then replicated through the daily politics of individuals and groups, forging a xenophobic and racist popular culture against Syrian refugees.

MP Michel Aoun recently stated that the “Syrian refugees are a serious danger”, while Samir Geagea, the main figure in Lebanon’s Lebanese Forces, stressed on the 30th of August 2013, about “Lebanon’s inability to handle [The Syrian refugee crisis] more, and that a viable solution needs to be put in place, and the only solution is to establish safe zones within Syria’s borders under international protection.”

Marwan Charbel, Lebanon’s internal security minister, declared on February 28th 2013 that the “Syrian refugees are threatening the security situation in Lebanon”. Other major political forces in Lebanon, like Hizbullah, Amal, Jumblatt’s PSP (Progressive Socialist Party), and Hariri’s Future Current mostly stressed the Humanitarian aspect of the “Syrian refugees Crisis” in Lebanon, but have refrained from countering any of the racist and xenophobic discourses, in the political and media spheres and even among their base of supporters and cadres.

The scapegoating discourse does not spur out of a natural inclination towards racism. Rather, it signals a deep crisis that the Lebanese state and its ruling elite have been facing since 2005 (2).

More recently, it became galvanized by the crisis faced by the Syrian regime and the consequent influx of refugees, which has uncovered Lebanon’s ruling elite’s inability to manage the rising needs within society and the calls for reform.

Social dismay in Lebanon also started to accumulate around 2011, exacerbated by a history of corruption and conflicts, in the absence of any real and concrete plans of economic and social development and reform.

The past two years witnessed a short-lived social mobilization against sectarianism and a prolonged mobilization and strike movement by the Trade Union Coordination Committee, in addition to localized protests, such as the electricity workers’ open strike.

Added to that was the rising pressure from civil society forces for equal rights for women and other social issues. This led the Lebanese State and major political forces in the country to actively try to escape that pressure by attempting to channel existing popular resentment against the State towards a xenophobic and racist victimization of poor Syrian refugees.

To simply say that the Lebanese are naturally racist is shortsighted. This over-simplification tends to overlook factors that concentrate and divert people’s frustration against their own regime, towards scapegoating and discrimination against Syrian refugees.

In order to discern this process of diversion or deflection, the role of Lebanon’s media institutions needs to be interpreted and the manner in which they shape people’s general understanding and consciousness of the world around them and its contradictions.

On August 6th, 2013, a news article published by An-Nahar newspaper, a Arabic Lebanese political daily, mentions that:

“The worker and craftsman from Akkar already suffers from a tough economic hardship and shrinking job opportunities. They are being forced between the hammer of a human feeling, sympathy with the displaced Syrians, and the anvil of the reality of living difficulties. The Syrian seasonal workers have become today’s workers and permanent residents working in various business available in Akkar”

The author in this paragraph summarizes the problematic of this article.

1. The author manages to establish an unquestionable status quo in Akkar by saying it “already suffers from a tough economic hardship and shrinking job opportunities.” He then suggests that what is galvanizing these hardships is also another unquestionable fact, which is the taking over of jobs by the Syrian refugees, who are “already registered as refugees and are benefiting from international, Arab and local aid”.

2. The author fails to mention the reasons of economic stagnation in Akkar, North of Lebanon, which has been witnessing a serious lack of attention from the Lebanese State especially in terms of socio-economic development. A study conducted by Mada Association in 2008 notices the following about the area:

“In 1998, Akkar accounted for 12.5% of the total number of deprived individuals in Lebanon, with 63.3%of the families in the region living in poverty and 23.3% of them in extreme poverty. Preliminary results of the 2004 mapping using the same living conditions index show that Akkar continues to have the highest share of poor households in Lebanon.”

3. The author also fails to mention the reasons why Syrian refugees, who are “receiving aid”  are in dire need of finding jobs. He also fails to ask whether the provided aid is actually enough to sustain the Syrian refugees, who did not flee to Lebanon by choice, but were rather forced to do so due to the ongoing violence in Syria.

Oxfam, an international humanitarian organization, carried out a Fair Share Analysis of Donations to the UN Syria Crisis Appeal, September 2013 and deduced the following:

“Research carried out by international aid agency Oxfam reveals that many donor countries are failing to provide their share of the urgently-needed funding for the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis. While the need for a political solution to the crisis is as urgent as ever, Oxfam says donors including France, Qatar and Russia, must also prioritise funding the UN’s $5 billion appeals.”

By omitting these facts, the author leaves the reader with the conclusion that people in Akkar are communities who, in order to make a living, need to fend for themselves, without showing the shortcomings and responsibilities of the State or the region’s elected MPs. He also suggests that Akkar’s residents, although living a tough reality, they were generally doing ok, until the Syrian refugees arrived to the region.

This method of diversion is prevalent in Lebanese media reporting.

In an article published by Assafir newspaper on September 4th, 2013, which could be read as a feel-good story about the refugees. However, the story’s conclusion focuses on the negative sentiments that sum up refugees as a nuisance and alien to the “Lebanese way of life.

“The large number of motorcycles, though making life easier for Syrian refugees, has become an ample curse for the local population in the villages. The movements of dozens of motorbikes in villages have annoyed their residents, who in turn complained about the annoying sounds in narrow streets and alleys, in addition to the smoke that is emitted from each motorbike. This urged local authorities and security forces to control their movement, by setting specific limited hours for their movement.”

Although the author mentions the reasons why Syrian refugees use motorbikes, as it has a low cost compared to the high costs of local transportation systems in Lebanon, he misses the fact that the use of motorbikes is also a prevalent means of transportation for the Lebanese  working class or poor backgrounds.

Instead of tackling the question of transportation, facing both poor Lebanese and poor Syrian refugees alike, which is by all means the responsibility of the Lebanese State and ruling elites, the issue is thus diverted into an unresolvable dilemma presented in the concluding comparison, portraying quaint Lebanese villages versus the noise and nuisance that is caused by Syrian refugees on motorbikes.

Another example of this method of reporting can be found in an article published on April 19th, 2013 by Al-Akhbar newspaper, another Arabic, Lebanese political daily. The author seems to have just discovered or is re-discovering Souk Al-Ahad (The Sunday Market). The author observes, based on the present businesses and the crowds in the Sunday Market, that the Syrian refugees are now:

“changing landmarks in Beirut and its daily routine and Sunday market has had the lion’s share from this change”. 

Yet this market has been historically one of the most visited places by poor working class Lebanese and Syrian and other migrant workers alike. But the author neglects that fact by saying that, before the Syrians came, it was a “quiet” shopping area. When one of the stall owners mentions the real problem of the continuous rising of stalls’ rent prices by the market’s Lebanese management:

“Mohamad denies the increasing number of stalls in the market is a result of the influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon, and explains it on the basis that the price of a stall in Souk Al-Ahad is U.S. $175 per week, with raising prices permanently put up by the market management.”

The author fails to pursue this issue, but continues to generally describe the Lebanese stall owners’ reaction to Syrian customers and vice versa.

The article overlooks the effects of rising rent prices and the reasons behind the hike in product prices, which many of the author’s interviewees mentioned in the article. One woman is reportedly saying: “Are Lebanese used to pay such prices or where they hiked just to welcome the Syrian visitor?” The author simply focuses on the antagonism that exists between Lebanese and Syrians, inadvertently contributing to the portrayal of an embedded racism, without showing who are the ones responsible or pulling the strings and fueling such racism.

The use of the word “Lebanese prestige” at the beginning of the article, to describe an assumed slow or quiet movement in the market before the influx of Syrian refugees, hints at a certain assumed bourgeois character of Lebanese citizens. It is then re-established by describing the “Lebanese corner” of the market, as being similar in shape to the bourgeois streets of downtown Beirut, compared to the popular character of the other stalls (where the author does not really say whether they are Lebanese or Syrian).

The missing facts and questions for understanding the antagonism rising within the politics of this market are many. Who is the Lebanese management? Why did it hike the rent prices?,What were the reasons behind the rent hike? How did that impact the prices of goods sold in the market? Who was affected? How did that play in fueling or driving antagonistic sentiments between Syrian and Lebanese shoppers and stall operators?

Falling into the same problematic of media reporting in Lebanon when dealing with the question of racism against Syrian refugees is the continued focus on reporting “racist behavior,” whether in support or in condemnation. Either way, it is being enforced as the media fails to look into what drives it, what encourages it, and what are the conditions that are nourishing its propagation within society.

All in all, those responsible for economic policies in Lebanon, the establishment of working and accessible transportation systems, the management of markets, such as Souk Al-Ahad, are all outside the picture the media reports when tackling questions related to Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The reader is left with two conclusions; either the Lebanese are inherently racist, as a unchanging fact, or Syrian refugees are greedy workers who steal jobs from poor Lebanese citizens.

The examples of media reporting on Syrian refugees in Lebanon are many and most follow these two stereotypes in one way or another. On rare occasions, articles point to the structural causes and the political environment that effortlessly manage to divert existing genuine resentment against the harsh conditions people face in Lebanon, through scapegoating “foreign elements.”

This culture of diversion, if it may be called as such, is not new. It has been a longstanding accompanying discourse of Lebanon’s ruling elite, in building their own political hegemony and preserving their rule. The ills of Lebanon are always relegated to being the result of interference of “stranger” and/or “foreign” elements.

This is exceptionally true in the dominant discourses interpreting the causes of the long civil war that destroyed the country between 1975 and 1989, following which the ruling elite declared a general amnesty and resorted to explain the civil war as a result of the interference of “Palestinians” or “Syrians” in local Lebanese affairs. It was enough to divert attention from the real causes of the war, the State’s sectarianism being one of the major causes.

Yet this scapegoating is never done on the level of interfering governments or rich Arab and foreign interventionists. Quite the contrary, it has always been directed against migrant workers, refugees, workers, and the poor. It is exactly this economic or class element of this culture that is worrying. The opening quote of this article mentions that “it [Lebanon] treats my money”, making Lebanon a safe haven for the rich and, at the same time, a punitive establishment for the poor. The punishments is incited through sectarianism and racist and xenophobic strife and conflict.

In an environment of economic scarcity, hardship, and poverty, questions about who is more poor and more needy, among the poor, is directly and indirectly attempting to hide a more important and more crucial question, which is why do Syrian and Lebanese, whether in Lebanon or in Syria, have to live in poverty and hardship? In the mean time, projects for constructing billion-dollar shopping malls and sky-high expensive resorts and buildings are ongoing in different places around the country. It is that culture of not questioning poverty and scarcity,that allows and drives the development of racism, sectarianism, and xenophobia.

 As a result, it is the poor and the refugees who pay the price and they learn to replicate the same discourse within their own interpretations of reality:

“We have covered larger sections of Lebanon and we have become too many to the extent that the Lebanese cannot tolerate us any longer. They have also increased their authority and control over us at work. Even some of them have stopped paying us our salaries. The hard living conditions are not the only reasons that make Syrian refugees line up at the doors of UNHCR, but also because in Lebanon they don’t feel that they are outside the Syrian crisis. Everyone in Lebanon wants to know where we are from, who we belong to. or who we support. This way, the Lebanese choose to deal with us based on our backgrounds”. Nasser fled with two generations from his family, all wanting to reach the West. It doesn’t matter which country they go to, what only matters is to get out of here. Nasser tells al-Akhbar newspaper on October 16th, 2012.

Stories and news reports about Syrian refugees in Lebanon are abundant in Lebanese media. Stories covering the refugees seem to cover almost all aspects of being a Syrian refugee in Lebanon. However, they are always portrayed in majority as having a “turbulent” effect on Lebanese society, without actually looking to the already existing turbulent conditions in the country. The fact that Syrian refugees are being coerced towards a refugee status is similar to that which many Lebanese faced during the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon or the Civil War. But it is mostly neglected or only used to justify support for the regime or segments of the opposition in Syria. It does not purport to show the striking similarities in hardships, oppression, and exploitation that both Syrian and Lebanese face, while living under the existing ruling orders; the continuous state of stagnation of reforms that both the Syrian and Lebanese regimes are facing; or the effects this stagnation has in terms of exacerbating social and civil injustices.

The media commands how people understand and interpret reality to a large extent. Thus, if the space is left for a shortsighted or deflected explanation of reality, this contributes, in one way or the other, to diverting people’s focus away from the real problems. Thus, it creates a culture of misinformation, which contradicts the democratic culture that the media presumably contributes to developing.

In conclusion, civil society organizations in Lebanon cannot continue treating Syrian refugees in Lebanon through a strictly humanitarian lens. They must be mindful of the prevailing discourses that shape people’s opinions about refugees. They should also systematically counter that discourse by putting pressure on media institutions, in addition to the State, and by developing alternative discourses. This could win people outside the racist and sectarian discourses and lead to a focus on real issues that people face and the shared experience both Lebanese and Syrians are facing and have faced in the past, in their struggle against exploitation and survival under oppression, exploitation, wars, and social injustices.

*Mohamad Ali-Nayel is a freelance journalist based in Beirut.
*Bassem Chit is the excutive director of Lebanon Support.

  • 1.“Syria’s economic stagnation is rooted in official as well as informal economic and fiscal policies and decisions that have undergirded incentives for liberalizing the national market since the early 1990s”, Bassam Haddad, Change and Statis in Syria, Merip, 2013
  • 2.The Lebanese ruling class crisis has presented itself in several forms during the past few years, either by their inability to resolve the political conflict that has been reaping through the country since 2005, and in their inability to respond to the rising economic hardships that most Lebanese are facing, as well as the massively accumulated national debt which accounts to more than 40 billion US dollars (which is a result of the pandemic state of corruption that characterizes the Lebanese ruling order).

Is Lebanon ripe for another civil war round? Politically yes, militarily not yet…

You may first read

The strongest indicator for a coming civil war, in a confessional political structure, is when every religious sect is divided on its leading political representatives. A civil war is the preferred mechanism to unite the clergy and various warlords around a unique leader to represent the religious sect…

The previous civil war (1975-91) was mainly internal wars within each religious sect for political hegemony over the entire sect, representing its confessional rights and speaking in its name.

The internal war in Lebanon started as a mass civil disobedience against a political system that refused to reform…Before it transformed into a major and lengthy civil war…

The previous civil war ended when almost all religious sects resolving their internal political struggles and were ready to talk with the other religious sects as a unified front.

Only the Christian Maronite sect was still politically divided on its leadership and kept resuming the armed confrontation while the other sects were “reforming the Constitutions” in Taef (Saudi Arabia) and dividing up the political power, appointing the public servants in the administration, and budget…

After the Taef agreement, the Moslem Shia sect elected Nabih Berri (Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies) to be their political representative within this confessional structure, though Hezbollah had secured the military power behind the sect and the unifying force for the sect.

Berri was the main Syrian representative (agent and still is) in Lebanon, while Hezbollah the representative of Iran’s ideological reflection.

Rafic Hariri, was the Sunni leader and the representative of Saudi Arabia political ideological and interests in Lebanon.

During the Syrian mandate of Lebanon up to 2005, Rafic was forbidden to visit Tripoli and the norther part of Lebanon, predominantly Sunnis. After Rafic assassination and the withdrawal of the Syrian troops, the Mustakbal movement (the Hariri clan party) managed to gain an aura in the north, not commensurate to the promises it failed to deliver during election periods…

The Maronite had no exclusive powerful political leader, and was represented by the assigned and unknown President of the Republic Hrawi (put forward by Syria Hafez Assad). The General of the army and Prime Minister Michel Aoun was forced into exile to France for 15 years. Samir Geaja (head of the militia Lebanese Forces) was sent to jail for 11 years…

Samir Geaja was the only militia warlord to be incarcerated. All the other warlords enjoyed appointments as ministers and deputies after the war…and were allocated secret “money boxes” to be spent on their associates and fattening their stashed away finances…

Geaja can be considered the worst political and military warlord failure for the duration of the war: He never won a war and failed to reap any political advantage…

The emerging front triumvirate of Berri, Hariri, and the President of the Republic divided up the treasury of the State and allocated the budget into personal Financial Boxes to spend on their respective regions…and a sizable portion of the budget and commercial dealing diverted to the coffers of the Syrian regime and their oligarchs

The Druze leader Walid Jumblat was allocated the “Displaced Box” of the Christians who fled the Shouf district during the war and who never returned, not yet…

Nabih Berri was allocated the “South Box” in order to reconstruct the southern districts…

Rafic Hariri was allocated the “Calamity Box” to spend on the reconstruction of Beirut and Saida.  This Box circumvented half a dozen ministries and took over every project meant to upgrade Lebanon infrastructure.  For example:

The airport received the name of Rafic Hariri. The main public hospital got the name of Rafic Hariri, the center of Beirut was reconstructed under the Solidere company owned by Rafic Hariri, the trash collection and disposal was run by a company owned by Rafic Hariri “Suklene”, the two mobile phone companies were owned by Rafic Hariri and Nagib Mikati (current prime minister)….

The successive Presidents of the Republic, seemingly representing the interest of the Christians and the Maronite in particular, have been mostly impotent in turning the tide into “fairer” representation of the Christians in the public administration…and the two main Maronite parties “The Lebanese Forces” of Samir Geaja and the “Tayyar of reform and change” of Michel Aoun were unable to reaching a unifying consensus…

Lebanon is ripe politically for another civil war round:

1. Nabih Berri, the main Syria Man, is scrambling to keep a political presence after the Assad regime of Syria. All the activities of Berri is to prove that he is the master mediator among the factions to maintaining the archaic system of Lebanon. Berri knows that without Syria’s support he cannot hope for more than being elected a simple deputy in 2013…

Mikati PM is the front of the Syrian regime, and basically obeying to Berri decisions on critical issues…Consequently, Berri has reduced this government to total impotency and the ridicule of the people because he needs to please all the confessional powers…

2. Hezbollah is re-organizing in order to maintain its status as the main Iranian stronghold in the region and will inevitably be forced to taking the front scene as the political representative of the Shia sect…

3. The Sunni sect that is mainly represented by the Mustakbal movement (The Future) of the Hariri clan is losing credibility because:

First, this movement is still working to privatize the public institutions in order to own them for cheap,

Second, this movement sided with the US and Israel when Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006 against the resistance of Hezbollah,

Third, this movement proved not to care about its election promises to the poorer districts, and failed the expectations of the Sunni people again and again…Their investments were placed in Beirut, and mostly in Real Estates…and ruined the electricity and water infrastructures

Many other Sunni “leaders” are emerging to contest the hegemony of the Mustakbal, and partially succeeding in restricted localities…

The Maronites are still divided.

The main political power of the Tayyar of Michel Aoun has over 30 deputies out of 120, and 10 ministers out of 30. And the Tayyar has been the target of all the confessional parties in order to fail its programs and projects in the government and in the Parliament…

Even the Greek Orthodox Christian sect is divided and unable to reach any consensus on the political figures to representing its interest as a unified front…

Politically, Lebanon is ripe for another round of civil war, and the troubles in Syria in the last 16 months are the main catalysts for this dangerous divisions in the Lebanese confessional fabric.

Militarily, Lebanon is stable.

The army and Hezbollah are the main military powers and can foil any armed uprising.

For this reason, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the US have been fomenting “discourses” meant to weaken the credibility of the army as the unifying institution for all the Lebanese.

The Tayyar (movement of Michel Aoun) reacted vigorously and is taking to the street demanding firm actions by the government against any actions and speeches defaming the army and weakening the moral of the officers and soldiers…

Hezbollah is confident of his representation of the Shia in the districts and regions of Shia majority, but is being aware that engaging in a second civil war in order to catapult the Shia as the main power broker in Lebanon will sap its reduced resources, divert its focus on Israel threats, and encourage Israel (the US) to wage a 7th preemptive war on Lebanon…




December 2022

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