Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘pseudo-State

Instead of being the King maker, he opted for the throne: Mr. President Michel Aoun

President Michel Aoun knew well enough that he is no match to the militia/mafia leaders that ruled Lebanon for 30 years, under the same political system.

President Aoun knew well enough that they will confront him step by step, hoping they will adapt gradually to a more transparent system with moderate level of looting of the budget.

Does anybody believe that President Aoun could Not find a match for the Presidency among the thousands of members in his party? The void in the Presidency would Not have lasted 2 years.

President Aoun was chief of staff and Prime minister after President Amine Gemayel tenure.

President Aoun wanted to break a guinness record of becoming someone who grabbed the 3 highest positions. Period. And at a very old age of 85.

What glory is there to be President of a pseudo State?

What glory is there to rule over pseudo-citizens since independence in 1943, with all kinds and forms of discrimination, genders, religious sect, class status, origin of birth, the district you vote in…?

I wrote this letter to General Michel Aoun, exactly 16 months ago.
Before he was elected President. I sent the letter to his private email.

He read it and highlighted a few lines.

مارون بطرس مخول

Dear General Aoun,

You are definitely the best and the most entitled to be elected as a president to this broken Republic.

You have all the qualifications and the top qualities:
You represent the majority of Christians,

You head the second biggest parliamentary block,
Your CV is the best,

You are strong, courageous, honest and transparent,
You are a leader

All what you have is too much for such a country… all the honest people want you as a president, the dishonest ones don’t want you… unfortunately the bad guys are more in this country…

General, please, in the name of God, in the name of the very big portion of the “faithful Aounists”, be the president maker, remain the valve of security for The Republic and for the Government.

Remain in Rabieh as “Damir al Massihiyyin”, “Damir kull al Lubnaniya al shourafa 2”… “Damir Lubnan”.

In politics, as you definitely know, there are deals; let the President be someone you trust, someone from your school.

Ask for a good portion in the Government to secure the interest of Lebanon and safeguard the interest of the Christians…

General, the majority of the Christians and big part of the non Christians, our brothers in this country, have full trust in you.

Of course they dream to see you president in Baabda, but deep in their hearts they prefer that you stay in Rabieh, free, guardian angel for the presidency with good representation in the Government.

General this is the wish of many many Aounitsts.

We feel more safe and more comfortable when we see you, as you are now, king in your kingdom, free to say what you want, not hands tied sitting in Baabda with more responsibilities and less authorities.

This is a shout from deep of the heart, let the president election go through, have a president accepted by you…

As surely with a president accepted by you and watched carefully by you is better for the country than no president.

God bless you, God save le General
Maroun Makhoul

يا ريتو سمع مني..لانو القذارة عند السياسيين اللبنانيين سكرت عليه كل الطرق ومنعتو يحاسبن.
انشالله يقدر يستلحق ويكون عندو الدعم والوقت تيرمي كل سارق ومجرم ومرتكب بالسجون
ومؤبد ،على الاقل تعويض معنوي على أهالي الشهداء الذين سقطوا بتفجير المرفاء.

 

This pseudo Lebanese citizens are the plight of how the State was transformed into a pseudo-State

I should have said that… But I did said it in the last 30 years.

When the (militia/mafia leaders) got their hands on public resources and bribes for decades
I didn’t say anything
I was counting my bank interests (And this is true for 18 officially religious sects)

When they looted the electricity and cut the power
I didn’t say anything
I was plugging into a private generator (Parliament chief Berri is the lead Capone)

When they made their useless wars and destroyed the country
I didn’t say anything
I always found refuge abroad

When they drowned the streets of trash to share commissions
I didn’t say anything
Garbage was always those of other denominations (Problem Not yet resolved in the last decade)

When they confiscated my bank deposits to keep their money safe
I didn’t say anything
I was scared to destroy the banking sector (A ponzi scheme that lasted 30 years, no production and sustained deficit)

When my dollars turned out to be lollars (Lebanese based on $. Though No correlation whatsoever: the US $ can devalue to nothing, and the Lira will continue to devalue)
I didn’t say anything
I was being humiliated in front of the banks to beg for what was left of my savings

When they stocked ammonium nitrates next to my house (in the port of Beirut) ravaged what was left of my life
I didn’t say anything
I had nothing left to say

One moment my world was there; the next moment it disappeared forever
I didn’t know what to say, what to talk about
Death or hope? Or it’s equal…

What? Hope? There is no hope for us while they are here…

(This Silent Majority was the staunchest most vocal Silence ever.

The least any citizens to earn his citizenship is to voice his opinion loudly and with determination)

Lebanese are “Clever Entrepreneurs”? Very funny, the ultimate in irony

Note: Re-edit of “Clever Entrepreneur my Ass”: Who is the Lebanese Entrepreneur? March 31, 2011″

As the State of Lebanon is experiencing total bankruptcy at all levels, government, Central Bank and many dozens of private banks for barely 4.3 million pseudo-citizens, we still keep hearing of “How come these clever entrepreneurs allowed Lebanon to reach this bottom in our financial/economic conditions?”

Clever Entrepreneur my Ass

I have worked with a few Lebanese companies, abroad and in Lebanon, and my impressions are negative.

“What is clever entrepreneur my ass” is my honest opinion of how I perceive the mentality of doing business in our culture.

In 1980, I worked with a Lebanese company in Nigeria; the company contracted out public civil works, like highways, deforestation and spreading asphalt on major roads.

I was supposed to be assisting the plant manager for maintaining and repairing heavy-duty equipment in a remote town.

The engineers were to wear high brown boots, the kinds that fascist wore, for discrimination reasons; and the boots have to be shining in this mud riddled camp, boots shined by an African helper.

Engineers were not supposed to socialize with workers and mechanics, even if they were Lebanese.

Consequently, going out with mechanics was frowned at, and management would sanction me and tell me that workers would refrain from respecting me and obeying my orders….

I was not even permitted to read to the mechanics the contents of the repair and maintenance manuals originating from the manufacturer:  Only the engineers and plant manager were to be the knowledgeable persons in the camp.

You had these mechanics who sincerely wanted to learn how to do their job right: they wanted to buy the proper tools and how they work, once they open their own shops back home.

Mechanics wanted knowledge and I translated to them from English into Arabic terms, even if the translation was Not that accurate, but they knew what I was conveying in knowledge.  Management hated what I was doing and scorned me.

For example, one night, robbers killed four Nigerian guards in our camp.

I never received any information whether management visited the bereaved families in the small village or if they paid compensation.  I was glad that I was repatriated shortly after this gruesome attack.

In Lebanon, I worked on a civil project, constructing a coastal hotel.

There were no safety guidelines at the workplace.  The Indonesian and Indian workers slept in the large open basement, and nobody was in charge of checking on the habitat or their well-being.  The workers favorite pastime was catching rats to fry them as delicacy.

A UN report stated that Chinese minorities in South-East Asia, white people in South Africa, and Lebanese in western Africa benefited most from the wealth generated by globalization and open markets in developing countries, particularly in tandem with multinational companies.

The African leaders who opted to cajole the ethnic majority ended up harassing, robbing, and pressuring Lebanese entrepreneurs out of the country, like in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

And obviously, Israel was behind the persecution of Lebanese entrepreneurs as most of the Presidential guards in African States are trained by Israel.

For example, the Lebanese in Ivory Coast are in big trouble.

It’s rumored that President Gbagbo, who hates to step down even if his country goes in flame, (as is the case of Gaddafi of Libya and Abdullah Saleh in Yemen), favors the Lebanese entrepreneurs.  Nothing wrong with that, unless…

There are strong rumors, supported by evidence, that Israel is rekindling the wrath against the Lebanese in Ivory Coast and Africa in general.  This is normal:  The Zionist apartheid State has this habit of transferring people and filling the void

Lebanese entrepreneurs in Lebanon proper produce to export.

The Lebanese citizens never enjoyed any quality products manufactured or produced in Lebanon:  They are all exported and the Lebanese merchants import third grade products, change the labels, and poison our citizens.

Good fresh fruits are immediately exported in waiting six and eight-wheelers to Arab countries such as Saudi Kingdom, Kuwait, and Jordan…The citizens have to contend with the spoiled and smaller categories of fruits…

Lebanon produced four times its need of olive oil:  They are all exported and the citizens have to consume the third grade leftover olive oil and import poisoned olive oil…

And you have this minister of industry encouraging the citizens to buy Lebanese manufactured products; where are those quality products?

Lebanon has a couple of pharmaceutical “factories”, producing aspirin…

For a couple of months, the citizens enjoyed low-cost aspirin-type of products.  And Aspirin vanished from local market:  The entire stocks were exported to Saudi Kingdom and the Lebanese had to contend with expensive imported aspirin that are no different than what we produced.

Syria manufactures 70% of its pharmaceutical needs and it is the Syrian government import only the expensive medicines that it does Not manufacture at bargain prices.

The Lebanese have no governments, we have been living in a pseudo-State since our Independence” in 1943.

The pseudo-citizens have to deal with the multitude of infamy and indignities on their own. We still have no public electricity, no potable water, no valid infrastructure, no public transportation, no one to listen to any demonstration and marches demands…

Who is the clever Lebanese Entrepreneur?  Clever my ass!

Lebanon is still standing because the immigrants are sending money to their families back home.  It turned out that 15% of our GDP is from transferred money, though 10% of these influx are re–invested overseas and nothing for any sustained money generation institutions within Lebanon.

The immigrants who made it, return just to build fancy palaces that stay empty, and then return to where they are making money.

Barely they overstay longer than two weeks:  The peacocks have more important things to do with their lives.

The Lebanese “Christian immigrants” never contemplate to return and stay in Lebanon:  They didn’t study and abused of their families’ money in order to return the favors in their old age parents.

The motto is “Let bygone be bygone” for every infamous events that occur among the tribal/feudal/sectarian Leaders.

From far away, they never miss an opportunity to cursing Lebanon and the Lebanese stupid mentality.

We have this youth movement demanding to change the political sectarian and feudal system.

What we need is a strong central government cracking down on these rascals of Lebanese entrepreneurs at home:  The scums of entrepreneurs are the backbone of our degraded political and social structure and the one encouraging discrimination and medieval mentalities.

You might say that it is the bourgeoisie that changed old systems:  Correct. Not in Lebanon or the Middle-East.

The new bourgois classes in the industrialized countries removed the feudal and sectarian classes from the control of the citizens and erected institutions with potential to raise the well-being of most of the citizens..

The so-called “bourgois classes” in Lebanon and the Middle-East live in total collaboration and in mesh with the feudal/sectarian classes and support them against the “common citizens” in Not constructing viable sustainable States for all the citizens.

The so-called “bourgois classes” in Lebanon and the Middle-East are the most racist and discriminatory classes at all levels, inside and outside the boundaries.

Are you insinuating that our entrepreneurs have anything to do with reforming Lebanon or caring one iota about Lebanon and its people?

Weird deformed entrepreneurs my ass with no national allegiance to the citizens well-being, dignity and aspirations.

A repeat of 1915 famine? Lebanon economic situation

‘People will die within months’:

Is Lebanon heading for famine as Corona pandemic accelerates hunger?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Additional reporting: Angie Mrad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michelle has hope for Lebanon: Sort of 5 reasons…

 

  M ()Posted on November 23, 2012 “Why I have hope for Lebanon this Independence Day

“Since the Syrian revolution began over 20 months ago, the headlines around the world concerning Lebanon have all had the same tone – “Lebanon on the brink”, “Tensions in a divided Lebanon run high”…

And since last May, we have seen what appears to be a breakdown of Lebanon’s social fabric. Fighting in Tripoli between Bab el Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, tire burning around the country, the so-called “military wing” of the clan Moqdad family kidnapping of Gulf nationals, Syrians…and blocking the road to the airport.

A travel ban for the nationals of UAE, Qatar and Bahrain crippled Lebanon’s tourism over the summer.

And a month ago, the car bomb that ripped through Beirut’s bustling Ashrafieh district that claimed 3 lives, including that of Brigadier General Wissam al Hassan, his bodyguard, and an innocent woman walking in the area. In the days that followed, protestors stormed the Grand Serail, (the PM administration) and gunfights erupted in several areas around Beirut.

International media basically had a field day predicting the next civil war in Lebanon, and elaborating on the oversimplified narrative of Syria’s conflict “spilling over” and Lebanon’s sectarian divides continuing to “widen” as change rocks the region. What happened instead?

Millions of Lebanese woke up in the morning, got in their cars and faced mind-numbing traffic to get to work for completely unfair salaries. For that, I respect them and their resilience immensely.

Schools, bars, restaurants, and malls remained open despite shooting in several areas of Beirut. In the days that followed, life here largely returned to normal, and the media’s eye shifted away from Lebanon. Basically, over the space of two days, columnists and foreign correspondants from around the world predicted a major breakdown of social and political institutions in this country.

And that may yet happen. But instead of breaking down worst case scenarios, let’s take a look at the reality of the past month in Beirut.

1. Beirut White March

A week after the blast in Ashrafieh, around a thousand Lebanese gathered in Martyr’s Square dressed in white, and marched peacefully to Sassine Square (the location of the blast) to show solidarity for the victims, and to express frustration with the March 8/14 rift that characterizes Lebanese politics. “March against March”  and “5losna Ba2a” signs were held up, along with hundreds of Lebanese flags.

The mood was positive, despite the grim events of the week before. I overheard two photographers jockying for position joke to each other “In peaceful protests, the photographers are the ones who fight.”

No violence.

2. Ashrafieh for All

Again, immediately after the bombing, a group of young Lebanese began the “Ashrafieh for All” initiative. Spread through Facebook, the group description simply read: “[We are] a group of young people looking to help the people of Ashrafieh out. This is in no way political. Anyone willing to help can join.”

Over the following weeks, hundreds of volunteers, including youth groups such as les Scouts du Liban, collected food, water, clothes, medicine and money for those whose homes had been destroyed in the explosion. Major Lebanese brands including Zaatar w Zeit, Roadsters Diner and many more also contributed to the efforts.

3. Beirut Marathon

On November 11th, in the pouring rain, over a thousand Lebanese gathered to complete a 10 km run, or a full marathon, throughout Beirut. Thousands of Lebanese of different faiths gathered together in a massive crowd, while jogging, under a torrential downpour – sound like a perfect recipe for conflict. But no – the event was a great success.

4. Seculars in AUB election

Student elections at the American University of Beirut are closely watched, as they are known for representing Lebanon’s political divides. Unlike typical student elections, which are either popularity contests or based on campaigns pertaining to student life, AUB’s are highly politicized. Competing student parties openly endorse the March 8 and March 14 camps that divide national Lebanese politics, and have a history of high tensions, and even outbursts of violence.

Given the events of the past few months, many expected this year’s election season to be particularly inflammatory. Though the elections were highly politicized as usual, with political chants and quite a bit of booing taking place as results were announced, there were no fights. And in an interesting turn of events, AUB’s very own Secular Club, supporting candidates running independently of any politically affiliated organizations, performed particularly well this year.

For a soundbite I compiled featuring interviews with AUB students regarding their view of the influence of Lebanese politics on student elections, click here: www.beirutnewsnetwork.com/michelle. You may be surprised by what you hear. While some cited the inevitability of Lebanese politics spilling into AUB, others expressed major disappointment with this – despite the fact that they had won because they ran with politically-backed parties.

5. TEDxBeirut

TEDxBeirut, a full-day conference that took place November 17th at Beirut’s UNESCO Palace, brought together Lebanese speakers, activists, innovators, leaders, and regular citizens with “ideas worth sharing” as a part of the larger TED talks global movement. A TEDx conference even took place in Tripoli, despite the strife that has marked the city since this summer.

What does all this mean?

Lebanese people are far from war-hungry sectarian-driven individuals. The above events show that Lebanese do want to live together, and enjoy normal, happy lives. And that’s what gives me hope in Lebanon this independence day.

As summarized by Bernard Pivot:

“Les Libanais sont sûrs qu’il y aura un autre attentat. Puis, plus tard, un autre. Ils ne vivent cependant pas dans la crainte. Ils vivent.” (The Lebanese are sure another car blast is being readied, and another… They don’t live in fear. They live.)

 

 

ImageOn top of that, JLO carried a Lebanese flag on stage while performing in Dubai. I mean what more do you really need? End of article

If the reader has noticed, almost all of these events are set in Beirut, where about a third of the population live and work. Outside of Beirut, in this tiny country, life is controlled and administered by the communities: The pseudo-State (government, institutions, and deputies…) exists just in Greater Beirut.  A few sectors in Beirut get high priority in potable water, 24/24 electricity, and all the amenities that other sections in Beirut don’t enjoy…

Apparently, the rate of hope is “measured” on how people living and commuting to Beirut behave and have fun…

 

Charbel Nahas, best ex-minister of Labor and the terrible reforming boy on the block

His Excellency Charbel Nahas, former minister of Work and Social Affairs, gave hell to the current government of Lebanon and made it look utterly impotent and helpless in confronting the varied reforms needed for human dignity, justice, fairness and basic rights…
Charbel Nahas would come to the meetings and discuss at length his many projects and other ministers projects and pinpoints their deficiencies and reckless studies…
Charbel Nahas was pressured to submit his resignation and was promptly accepted, with great relief…

“There is nothing like waking up on a Sunday morning to an episode of one of many inspiring and animated Lebanese political talk shows.

Political talk shows are only a mirror of the dismal centuries-long political vicious circle we have been stuck in, anything but inspiring and animated in a tragicomedy kind of way.

But when I tuned to New TV’s Sunday talk show yesterday, there he was with his salt and pepper mustache that Lebanese men of old days would swear on; characteristically irritated and annoyed; decorating his speech with the vernacular that you’d never think would make it on national television.

Listening to Charbel Nahas at any time of day is refreshing and animated, and so I watched on.

Charbel Nahas brings today his usual logic and no-nonsense perspective to the issues the Lebanese government is dealing with, or rather, does its best to stay away from, which includes the government’s policy of dissociation towards Syria, at a time when the spillover effects on Lebanon on the political, security and economic front will exacerbate as the situation in Syria worsens.

The successive Lebanese governments (in this pseudo State) have the tendency to only react to increased refugees and security incidents and lack the will to take a clear stance on Syria and be truly prepared to face the deep-seated changes in Syria as they have a direct effect at home.

Nahas also rightly mentions the way the current government is drowning the country deeper into financial chaos and unconstitutional behavior. Cabinet passed a budget that doesn’t include sources of revenue while promising to adopt, among other things, increases in salaries and the amendment of salary scales.

Nahas points out that the salary issue is in itself an important reflection of the government’s will to strengthen the state and its institutions.

Providing decent salaries and an appropriate package of benefits for public employees would attest to the true will of politicians to attract the best people for public jobs and thus ensure top-notch public services to the population.

Given that the compromise reached on the issue of salaries doesn’t come close to the expectations and needs of the people, this speak loud and clear of the government’s lack of interest and will to strengthen the state and its institutions.

Charbel Nahas – http://www.lorient-lejour.com

The local political debate has lost a lot since Charbel Nahas resigned as Minister of Labor in February 2012. One had the sense that here was a political figure that argued within the government based on ideology and principles, instead of politicians who keep fighting each other only based on who would get a bigger piece of the pie.

Needless to say, it would only be a matter of time that he resign, especially as his independent stances and seemingly genuine will to “change and reform” began to stand in the way of General Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM)’s of “change and reform”, the movement that made him a minister in the first place.

It was after his resignation that his appeal and popularity became apparent, as a true ‘Minister of the People’.  The popular gatherings he held to explain the reasons for his resignation and the discrepancies behind the government’s policies on the minimum wage gathered his supporters.

People gathered  from all walks of life, age, creed, social background and different political affiliations, joined by a strong desire for change through a man who didn’t look like the rest of the old political faces.

Nahas brought his academic and political experience to the table in a way that the common man could understand, without arrogance, but with simplicity and empathy. Here was someone who wasn’t afraid of the people, but would make many of those with high stakes in the current system afraid, as he attacked the system and called for people to support his envision of change and the young to see this change through.

I am not one to privately nor publically align myself to any political figure or support any political party in Lebanon whatsoever. Few political figures have any credibility of stances and actions, while political parties have never really existed here.

Yet, I continue to sense a breath of fresh air with Charbel Nahas.  You may not always support his stances entirely nor his confrontational style, but he has so far proven to be a man of his word, a man of principle, and really, politics can’t always be diplomatic and built on consensus, but needs that shout out and confrontation every once in a while.

Among other things, Nahas attacks the current Lebanese system.  He also talks of introducing some of the aspects existing in social democracies such as the Scandinavian ones that have brought true welfare and social wellbeing to its citizens. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that either.

Although Nahas noted that there was more than a 50% chance that parliamentary election would not take place next year, if they do, it will be his chance to translate his popularity into something more tangible.

Having a new electoral law would certainly help, as well as a populace willing to support new faces that have a vested interest in change. Even if Nahas remains outside of the confines of the decision-making process, only by attracting more courageous supporters, will he have managed to break some ground in people’s apathy and given them the right to hope that change can be a reality some day, and not only a dream…

Ideal case study for alienated youth: City of Tripoli, Lebanon

This week was terrible in Tripoli, Lebanon. The gunfire is relentlessly going on. So far, 120 were hospitalized and increasing, a dozen killed , and scores of Lebanese soldiers seriously injured, paying the heavy price of a pseudo-State with a pseudo government. Why this infighting between two blocks of “rocket holed” buildings in Bab El Tebbani (mostly Islam Sunnis) and Jabal Mohsen (mostly Islam Alawits)?

Jabal Mohsen is a block of crumbling building built on a small hill overlooking the Syria boulevard separating it from Bab El Tebbani.

Since 2005, after the withdrawal of the mandated Syrian troops from Lebanon, these two quarters in Tripoli have been at one another throats.  Hysteric, out of work, never worked in their life, and terribly famished youth have this nack of stepping forward and grabbing the TV micro and claim that their weapon was purchased with their own saved money to protect themselves from the enemy…Whose money again? Who is this enemy?

The irony is that the government PM is from Tripoli, and he would not form the government until 5 ministers are from Tripoli, sort of securing a public base for the next election in 2013 and being proclaimed the political leader of this totally neglected city for 4 decades. These political “leaders” were totally helpless in resolving the deteriorating conditions…

The funny part is that the army didn’t officially enjoy political cover to take control of the infighting, until things went out of hand. Why?

A funnier story was told by the leader of Jabal Mohsen, Mr. Eid, that all their weapons and ammunitions are bought from the Hariri Clan (The Future movement), the same political party that extend the same kinds of weapons to the Sunni fighters in Lebanon…And from where the Hariri clan bring in this assortment of weapons? From this absolute Wahhabi monarchy of Saudi Arabia, the other absolute Emirate of Qatar, and the political cover of the USA.

After 4 decades of neglect, economically and in public facilities, generations of youth were brought up as “citizens” out of subject matter, out of touch from the remaining regions of Lebanon, a vast ghetto of famished, jobless, illiterate youth, and lead by clerics who are bought and sold for a nickel…

You cannot imagine how rotten are the brains of these clerics, under soiled turban and various headdresses…Their main jobs, these clerics is to get the youth moving out to the street, for one reason or another, preferably after Fridays’ Prayers, and chanting “Allah wa Akbar”, greater from who? They are in charge, these clerics, of distributing the proper weapons of machine guns, rocket launchers, batons, iron rods, tires to burn and block traffic…

After four decades of total neglect, the youth in Tripoli constitute the Ideal case study for alienated urban kids, to all kinds of researchers around the world, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, archeologists, mental derangement cases…

Two weeks ago, heartless and mindless local TV reporters wanted to have their 15 minutes”glory” under the sun and took the families of the kidnapped Lebanese in Syria/Turkey by total surprise.

The “urgent news” were displayed on TV channels that a Syrian fighter jet bombed a town by the Turkish border, and that the 11 Lebanese civilians kidnapped two months ago have all perished.  The news were false. But the consequences are not that false at all.

This tribe of Moqdad, and many other Lebanese tribes of Jaafar…(far more numerous than in Libya) reacted by kidnapping 40 Syrians and Turks…on the Lebanese soil and demanding their right for revenge…

Worst, the Moqdad tribe refused the minister of the interior any communication with them until the government proved that it has the  kidnapped Lebanese at heart and is working diligently for their liberation and is in control of the situation…

Lebanese gunmen from the al-Moqdad clan in southern Beirut, Reuters
The citizens of Saudi Arabia, the Emirate States and Qatar were urged (ordered by their governments) to fleeLebanon, and not just the fleshpots of Beirut.
As a reminder, kidnappings were fuel to the fire of the first weeks of the 1975-90 Lebanese civil war. But the reason for these abductions is a lot less clear.

Robert Fisk wrote a week ago:

“We have to look at the case of one Hassan Selim Moqdad, for whom Beirut’s latest hostages are held. A Lebanese Shia, he was seized by the Free Syrian Army inside Syria and videotaped babbling that he was a Hezbollah member, part of a 1,500-strong assumed contingent of Hezbollah fighters sent to assist Assad.

Now there happen to be about 17,000 Moqdads in Lebanon, all members of the same tribe but including not just Shia, but Sunnis and Christian Orthodox as well. The wife of said that Hassan Moqdad, far from arriving in Syria with a legion of Hezbollah fighters,had been staying in Syria since before the revolt began 18 months ago, because of financial problems in Lebanon.

Hassan’s money difficulties resolved, he was on his way home to Lebanon when he was kidnapped and transmogrified into a Hezbollah warrior. Hezbollah have denied that Moqdad was a member, just as they have insisted they’ve no militiamen fighting in Syria, a statement that may bear the merit of truth…

The Hezbollah Party of God cannot deny that the 40 hostages in Beirut – all but six of whom had been released last night as Maher Moqdad (another of the famous 17,000) announced an end to such abductions – were all taken in an area which the government long ago effectively handed over to the Hezbollah.

In reality, however, the kidnappings symbolise not the power of Hezbollah but the utter impotence of the divided, self-abusive Lebanese government.

Maher Moqdad said one of the detained Syrians was an army lieutenant who wanted to join the rebels. Meanwhile, those same rebels claim to hold dozens of Iranian ‘spies’ captured on the Damascus airport road, although Iran says that all were visiting a shrine outside Damascus.

But would Iranian secret agents really take a vulnerable bus to Damascus airport? The case is faintly similar to the six Iranian ‘militiamen’ captured in Homs who turned out to be legitimate power station workers.

Michel Samaha, ex-minister, ex-MP, and Lebanese supporter of Assad, is charged with plotting to blow up Lebanese politicians on behalf of Syria’s security, General Ali Mamlouk, the ‘terror conspiracy’ – without a shred of evidence publicly revealed – has become fact.

Like the mass of bank robberies around Beirut, the clan battles in the Bekaa Valley and the armed offensive against Lebanese troops trying to destroy the country’s hashish fields, the entire shooting match doesn’t exactly invite tourists and Gulf investors to sunny Beirut. Nor did it help when the Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, announced that the kidnappings “bring us back to the days of the painful (civil) war.” Nor, I suppose, is there a surgeon who can put Lebanon together again.”

Note 1: For an entire week, starting Dec.8, 2012, another round of clashes was ignited, leaving 12 dead and a hundred injured in Tripoli. Why? Two dozen Lebanese were dispatched to fight in Syria against the regime, and the regular Syrian army ambushed the infiltrators and killed them… The Lebanese army was there and was unable to restrain the shelling…

Note: One thousand personalities in Jordan signed a petition demanding that the King and his government desist from meddling in Syria’s affairs. Jordan has been submitted under heavy pressures from Saudi Arabia and Qatar to play an active role in Syria problems.

It is in the interest of King Abdullah of Jordan that the extremist Sunnis insurgents do not spill over into Jordan and depose this absolute monarchy, instated by the British Empire after WWI…


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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