Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Syria and Lebanon

Syria and Lebanon: Links between the twin people

I am reading a study on the economical relationshing between Lebanon and Syria, (the second official study since 1996!), a study financed by the UN program for development.  Do you believe that the two border States exchange goods and financial products not exceeding 4% of their combined GNP?  Is that logical, natural, and normal?

Lebanon shares land borders with only Syria, (Israel being the enemy in the south), though Syria shares land borders with Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan.  Syria’s business people opened accounts for only $1.3 billion in Lebanese banks, while most of savings are placed in foreign banks in Europe and the USA. 

Lebanon’s economy is supporting 670,000 Syrian workers (representing 10% of the entire workforce) who generated $1.7 billion in 2010.  Actually, in my neighborhood, only the Syrian working in construction have cash money:  They are maintaining the small grocery shops by buying cigarettes, bread, egg, tomatoes…

The total tourism activities between the two States was only 800,000 citizens, out of a total of 25 million people for the joint society (over 21 million Syrian versus 4 million in Lebanon).  Syrian tourists spent $280 million compared to $290 million for Lebanese tourists in Syria.

The yearly official export from Lebanon to Syria is about $220 million and import from Syria is $240 million.  The effective amount is many folds these numbers, mainly daily exchange of goods and contraband products on the norther border (Akkar region) and eastern borders (The Bekaa Valley).  62% of all import products from Syria are exempt of entrance fees, while no major counterpart are expected from Syria! 

Syrian private investments in Lebanon far exceed Lebanon investment in Syria.  In the last four years, 6 Lebanese banks opened branches in Syria and already hold 20% of the total assests of Syria private banks. 

Last year, I tried to exchange a small amount of Syrian currency and could not locate a single bank or exchange office to do the transaction:  I saw surprised looks of disbelief.

Lebanon schooling system, especially universities, welcomed over 18,000 Syrian students.  Apparently, the student exchange is minimal from the Lebanese side.

First, a brief geo-political summary of the context.  Throughout history, Lebanon was divided into two main regions: 

The mountainous region called Mount Lebanon (see link in note), sparsely populated and a refuge for the various religious monks and sufis who opted for these high mountains to seek seclusion in caves …Pilgrims would venture, stay to serve the secluded clerics until they got a handle of what they wanted from life and leave…

The coastal and the Bekaa Valley were part of administrative regions linked to Syria or Palestine.  Actually, Syria was divided into Inland Syria and coastal Syria, including coastal Lebanon.  Thus, Lebanese were known as Syrians or Turks on their passports during the Ottoman Empire.

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 Lebanese culture.

In 1980, I worked with a Lebanese company in Nigeria; the company contracted out public civil works like opening highways and the disforesting and spreading asphalt on major roads.  I was supposed to be assisting the plant manager for maintaining and repairing heavy-duty equipments. 

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, 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 teach the “mechanics specialists” 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 in inaccurate Arabic terms, 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 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 pass-time 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.

For example, the Lebanese in Ivory Coast are in big trouble.  It rumored that President Gbagbo, who hates to step down, even if his country goes in flame, (as is the case of Qadhafi 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 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 Arabia, 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 imported poisoned olive oil…And you have this minister of industry encouraging the citizens to buy Lebanese manufactured products; where are those products?

Lebanon has a couple of pharmaceutical “factories”, producing asperine… For a couple of months, the citizens enjoyed low-cost asperine-type of products.  Asperine vanished from local market:  The entire stocks were exported to Saudi Arabia and the Lebanese had to contend with expensive imported asperine that are no different than what we produced.

Syria manufactures 70% of its pharmaceutical needs and it is the government that import the expensive medicines at bargain prices.  The Lebanese have no governments:  They have to deal with the multitude of infamy and indignities on their own. Who is the clever Lebanese Entrepreneur?  Clever my ass!

Lebanon is still standing because the immigrants are sending money to their families back home.  The immigrants who made it, have this habit of build fancy palaces in Lebanon, which stay empty, and return to where they are making money.  Barely they overstay longer than two weeks:  The picocks have more important things to do with their lives. 

The Christian immigrants never contemplate to return and stay in Lebanon:  They didn’t study and abuse of their families’ money in order to returning the favors in their parent’s old age.  Let bygone be bygone.  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 to crack 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.  What can you do if our political stucture is designed not to have a State?

You might say that it is the bourgeoisie that changed old systems:  Correct.   Are you insinuating that our entrepreneurs have anything to do with reforming Lebanon or caring one iota about Lebanon and its people?  Changes are badly needed, it is urgent for our survival as citizens, who only benefited from a lousy passport and Lebanese currencies, bound to this lousy dollars, which is covered by nothing of value!

I may write a more detailed follow up article on the twin people, Lebanese and Syrians.

Note:  Further information on Mount Lebanon




May 2023

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