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“Makhfar Hobeich” changed to Ras Beirut Police Station

The former police station Hebeich on Bliss Street and by the American University of Beirut (AUB)  finished the renovation work that has been undergoing for a year.

The bastion of Lebanon’s morale values incarceration station is to become a model commissariat.

C’est un nouveau visage accueillant, sobre et modernisé du commissariat de Hobeiche-rue Bliss, qui s’est révélé hier. Plus d’un an après le début des travaux de réhabilitation, les nouveaux locaux portent désormais le nom de « commissariat de Ras Beyrouth ».

Cette désignation neutre n’est pas fortuite : elle accompagne le projet pilote pour lequel ce commissariat servira de support, celui de la mise sur pied d’une police de proximité au Liban.

L’ancien bastion de la police des mœurs au Liban, qui avait longtemps inspiré une appréhension collective au fil de récits sur la sévérité de ses interrogatoires, est désormais le premier « commissariat modèle » du pays.

Sandra NOUJEIMpublished in OLJ this Jan. 17, 2014

 Le commissariat de Hobeiche change de nom et devient un modèle

Des policiers à vélo veilleront à la sécurité et au confort des citoyens sur la corniche de Aïn el-Mreissé. Photos Ibrahim Tawil
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Le commissariat de Ras Beyrouth est le premier à appliquer la méthode de la police de proximité, indissociable de la confiance des citoyens dans les institutions.

Doté d’une nouvelle équipe finement sélectionnée et formée dans l’esprit du respect des droits de l’homme, il fonctionne désormais sur les bases du partenariat avec les citoyens, qui a inspiré la méthode dite de la police de proximité.

Cette methode tend en effet à combattre la délinquance à l’échelle du quartier où elle est établie en y assurant une omniprésence, relayée par la confiance des citoyens.

Elle se manifeste par la multiplication des patrouilles, la normalisation de la présence des agents dans l’espace public, que l’on verra bientôt circuler à vélo sur la corniche, l’archivage numérisé des crimes et des informations utiles, l’accélération des mécanismes de réponse aux situations de détresse. La prévention du crime s’en trouve tout autant améliorée.

Cette réforme devrait notamment produire des effets palpables sur les cas de violence domestique.

Une conférence de presse au West Hall de l’Université américaine de Beyrouth, précédant l’inauguration officielle du bâtiment Hobeiche, a présenté les bases du projet de commissariat modèle, initié il y a 18 mois par la Direction générale des Forces de sécurité intérieure.

Il s’inscrit dans le cadre d’un projet plus large de planification stratégique, qui avait permis notamment l’élaboration d’un nouveau code de conduite des agents. La réhabilitation et l’équipement du commissariat Hobeiche et la formation des agents ont été entièrement financés par les ambassades des États-Unis et de Grande-Bretagne.

L’ambassadeur britannique, Tom Fletcher, a d’ailleurs pris part à la cérémonie aux côtés de Richard Mills, représentant l’ambassadeur des États-Unis, et de Peter Dorman, président de l’Université américaine de Beyrouth.

Au large public d’officiers des FSI réuni, à leur tête le directeur général des FSI p.i. le général Ibrahim Basbous, se sont joints le mohafez de Beyrouth, Nassif Alouche, représentant le ministre sortant de l’Intérieur, la juge Nada Asmar, représentant le procureur général p.i., les représentants du directeur de la Sûreté générale, du commandant en chef de l’armée et du directeur de la Sûreté de l’État, ainsi que les mokhtars de Ras Beyrouth.

La richesse de la localité

Modérant les interventions, le responsable du département des relations publiques des Forces de sécurité intérieure, le colonel Joseph Moussallem, a mis l’accent sur « l’unité nécessaire, pour servir la justice, entre les FSI et les citoyens de tout âge, toute catégorie et toute confession ».

Le choix de la localité de Ras Beyrouth s’explique. L’inspecteur général des FSI, le général Pierre Nassar, qui préside la commission de gestion du projet de police modèle, a longuement décrit la variété des établissements (pédagogiques, touristiques et bancaires) et la richesse identitaire de la région choisie. Peter Dorman a décrit le développement urbain de Ras Beyrouth, dont l’AUB « est un élément indélébile ».

Il a relevé la richesse de son architecture, qui contraste aujourd’hui avec « la triste multiplication des mendiants dans les rues ». Le tissu sociologique d’une région, qui en fait un indicateur de la situation politique et économique du pays, serait le lieu optimal pour tester l’efficience d’une police de proximité au Liban. Résumant l’essence de cette méthode, le général Nassar a précisé qu’elle marque « le passage de la perception du citoyen comme ennemi potentiel, à sa perception comme partenaire et acteur de la coopération avec les FSI ».

« Citoyens, nous vous tendons la main »

La méthode en question devrait en contrepartie inciter les citoyens à plus de confiance dans le professionnalisme des FSI, et à repérer « leur courtoisie, leur traitement égalitaire, leur transparence et leur fermeté ». « Nous vous tendons la main en espérant que vous ferez de même pour nous. Le commissariat a été réaménagé pour vous accueillir de la meilleure façon possible », a-t-il déclaré, rappelant que le (long) chemin de réforme ne fait que commencer.

D’ailleurs, le directeur général des FSI p.i., le général Ibrahim Basbous, est revenu sur « la constante évolution des FSI depuis leur création en 1861 ».

Si la police de proximité est « une philosophie de l’organisation et une nouvelle méthode du travail policier », elle « ne tend pas à un changement radical des méthodes de la police traditionnelle, dont elle reste un complément, non un substitut », a relevé le général Basbous. Parvenir néanmoins à cette complémentarité serait en soi une consécration du « règne et de la souveraineté de la loi », a-t-il conclu.

Yalla, Bye: Departing letter of Tom Fletcher, British Ambassador to Lebanon

Dear Lebanon,

Sorry to write again. But I’m leaving your extraordinary country after four years. Unlike your politicians, I can’t extend my own term.

When I arrived, my first email said ‘welcome to Lebanon, your files have been corrupted’. It should have continued: never think you understand it, never think you can fix it, never think you can leave unscathed. I dreamt of Beirutopia and Leb 2020 , but lived the grim reality of the Syria war.

Bullets and botox. Dictators and divas. Warlords and wasta. Machiavellis and mafia. Guns, greed and God.

Game of Thrones with RPGs. Human rights and hummus rights.

Four marathons, 100 blogs, 10,000 tweets, 59 calls on Prime Ministers, 600+ long dinners, 52 graduation speeches, two #OneLebanon rock concerts, 43 grey hairs, a job swap with a domestic worker, a walk the length of the coast (Video).

I got to fly a Red Arrow upside down, and a fly over Lebanon’s northern border to see how LAF is enforcing Lebanese sovereignty.

I was even offered a free buttock lift – its value exceeded our £140 gift limit, so that daunting task is left undone.

Your politics are also daunting, for ambassadors as well as Lebanese citizens.

When we think we’ve hit bottom, we hear a faint knocking sound below.

Some oligarchs tell us they agree on change but can’t. They flatter and feed us.

They needlessly overcomplicate issues with layers of conspiracy, creative fixes, intrigue.

They undermine leaders working in the national interest. Then do nothing, and blame opponents/another sect/Sykes-Picot/Israel/Iran/Saudi (delete as applicable).

They then ask us to move their cousin’s friend in front of people applying for a visa.

It is Orwellian, infuriating and destructive of the Lebanese citizens they’re supposed to serve.

But this frustration beats the alternative – given potential for mishap, terror or invasion, there is no substitute for unrelenting, maddening, political process.

Kahlil Gibran said ‘you have your Lebanon, I have mine’.

When the Middle East was in flames, and its people caught between tyrants and terrorists, the Lebanon I will remember sent its soldiers to protect the borders; confronted daily frustrations to build businesses and to educate its children; and showed extraordinary generosity to outsiders, be they ambassadors or refugees.

The Lebanon I will remember is not asking for help, but for oxygen.

It is not arguing over the past, but over the future. It is not debating which countries hold it back, but how to move forward.

It is not blaming the world, but embracing it.

People will look back at what we have come through and ask how Lebanon survived?

But we already know the answer: never underestimate the most resilient people on the planet. A people that has, for millennia, beaten the odds. ()Next to the Palestinians and the Syrians)

I hope you will also look back and say that the Brits helped you to hold your corner.

Giving those soldiers the training and equipment to match their courage.

Giving those pupils the books to match their aspiration.

Giving those businesses the networks to match their ambition.

Building international conspiracies for Lebanon, not against it.

And above all, believing you would beat the odds. Four years: 100 times the financial support, ten times the military support, double the trade.

We even helped Walid Joumblatt join Twitter. (Ya rayto khere wa ma joined Twitter)

What could the West have done differently? Many of you have a long list.

We are at last feeling ourselves to a serious conversation with Iran, and a credible political process that leaves Syrians with more than the barrel bomber and the box office brutality of Da’esh.

I hope President Obama can deliver his aim of a Palestinian state with security and dignity.

I hope we can talk to our enemies as well as our friends – aka diplomacy.

I hope we rediscover an international system that aspires to protect the most vulnerable: the problem with an ethical foreign policy was not the ambition but the execution, and Syria must not be RIP R2P.

The driving quest of diplomacy is for imperfect ways to help people not kill each other.

Let’s not give up on the idea that the Middle East can find security, justice and opportunity. I hope other countries reflect on what they could do differently too.

They say that Lebanon is a graveyard for idealism. Not mine.

It has been a privilege to share this struggle with you. I believe you can defy the history, the geography, even the politics.

You can build the country you deserve. Maybe even move from importing problems to exporting solutions.

The transition from the civil war generation lies ahead, and will be tough.

You can’t just party and pray over the cracks. But you can make it, if you have an idea of Lebanon to believe in.

You need to be stronger than the forces pulling you apart. Fight for the idea of Lebanon, not over it.

And we need you to fight hard. Reading your history in a musty Oxford library over four years ago, I realised that if we cannot win the argument for tolerance and diversity in Lebanon, we will lose it everywhere.

That’s why we’ve helped – it is in our national interest too. This is the frontline for a much bigger battle.

The real dividing line is not between Christianity and Islam, Sunni and Shia, East and West. It is between people who believe in coexistence, and those who don’t.

So if the internet doesn’t work, build a new internet.

If the power supply doesn’t work, build a new power supply.

If the politics don’t work, build a new politics. If the economy is mired in corruption and garbage piles up, build a new economy.

If Lebanon doesn’t work, build a new Lebanon. It is time to thrive, not just survive.

I worried I was too young for this job. I discovered I was too old.

We experimented on Twitter – first tweet-up with a PM, with a diva, first RT of a Western diplomat by the President of Iran, online scraps with terrorists and satirists, #Leb2020 and much more.

I hope it amplified our impact in an authentic, engaging and purposeful way. I have banged on about how digital will change diplomacy.

Someone should write a book about how it will also change power, and how we can marshall it to confront the threats to our existence. Now there’s an idea.

You gave me Bekaa sunrises and Cedars sunsets.

You gave me the adventure of my life, and plenty of reasons to fear for it.

You gave me extraordinary friends, and you took some away. I loved your hopeless causes and hopeful hearts, shared your tearful depths and your breathless heights.

There are 8 stages of life as an ambassador here. Seduction. Frustration. Exhilaration. Exhaustion. Disaffection. Infatuation. Addiction. Resignation.

I knew them all, often simultaneously. I wouldn’t have swapped it for anywhere in the world.

I and the brilliant embassy team are still buying shares in Lebanon 2020. I’m finishing my time as an Ambassador to Lebanon, but with your permission I’ll always be an ambassador for Lebanon.

Many of you ask me why I remain positive about this country.

All I ever tried to do was hold a mirror up and show you how beautiful you really are. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Please stay in touch.

3asha Lubnan (wa ta7ya Surya)

Yalla, bye

Andrew Bossone shared this link and commented:

Wealthy ambassador claims to live “the grim realities of the Syria war,” calls the country Orwellian but doesn’t mention he spread spy cameras across it (is that the “building international conspiracies” he refers to?),

Wealthy ambassador who mocks divas and wasta for visas but argued it should be easier to take his dark-skinned maid with him on travels.

Thomas of Arabia you did so much in so little time.

Is The Pen Mightier Than The Sword?

The Lebanese spend more on education than anything but food, more per capita than any other country. It’s a down-payment of hope in Lebanon’s future.

In schools as on the borders and checkpoints, the UK stands beside Lebanon with actions not words.
The UK is now Lebanon’s main education partner, through four game-changing programmes.

For the second year, we are getting school textbooks to every pupil aged 6-15, over 300,000 kids.

We are working with the Education Ministry to get every child into school. At over 50m USD, this is the largest ever UK project with the Lebanese state.

With the Ministry and Adyan, we are getting citizenship and coexistence into the curriculum. Leaders from all religious groups have agreed how to teach all 6-17 year old pupils about a united Lebanon rather than a divided one.

This is the first academic year when English will be the most studied language. The British Council are giving Lebanese kids the key that unlocks the global market. At thirty graduation ceremonies in two years, I have seen how empowering this is.

No child should miss out on their education. Yet a growing number risk becoming a lost generation, vulnerable to radicalisation and manipulation. We want to make it a fairer fight: we are arming Lebanon’s youth with knowledge.

People talk about countering ISIL extremism with boots on the ground. We’re doing it with books in the hand.

British Ambassador Addresses the Lebanese: On Independence Day

I can sympathize with Tom Fletcher, and the good previous recent British ambassadors to Lebanon, and I feel that the negatives responses to the ambassadors reflect a state of mind of the Lebanese who feel down on their luck and totally hopeless to undertake serious reforms to their political and social structure since their independence in 1943, or as the French mandated troops vacated in 1946.

Lebanon is not a usual country: a deformed version of a nation, at best. It is a place where people don’t agree on the definition of statehood and nationhood, and a place where sectarian divisions have constituted a bonanza for foreign intervention.

In the last 40 years, Lebanon had not enjoyed a stable situation that is promising. Currently, we have no Parliament: it extended its tenure for another 2 years and never has met since. We have no government in the last 6 months and the designated “Prime Minister” is sitting tight, waiting for political movements to reach a consensus on a government to form.

In the meantime, the Syrian refugees are flooding in Lebanon and their number has reached about 50% of our population.

Lebanon is also a place crying out for an identity. While some do see marks of history, geography, and culture and recognize Lebanon as it is – an Arab country, no less Arab than other countries – others think that they have been misplaced in the Middle East, that they belong to Europe.

But first, here an example of the counter-responses to the ambassador speech.

As’ad AbuKhalil posted this Nov. 25, 2013 on his blog Angry Corner:

Some ultra-Lebanese nationalists developed a variety of forms and motifs of nationalism that stress the (imagined) relationship between Lebanon and Europe, which consider Lebanon the least in its priorities.

Some Lebanese think that donning Western clothes and faking an American or a French accent is sufficient to place them squarely among the White Man of Europe.

Some really bought into that. Those Lebanese (represented by An-Nahar newspaper, among others) are more than eager to prostrate at the mere sight of a white man in their midst.

Some even think that they themselves are white. It is for this reason that European and American diplomats in Lebanon act more arrogantly and more condescendingly than perhaps in other places.

It was in this context that the British ambassador in Lebanon addressed the Lebanese people on the anniversary of Lebanese independence. He lectured, preached, hectored, sermonized, and moralized to the Lebanese people. He even bragged about the role of the UK in Lebanon’s independence.

Thereby insulting the intelligence of the Lebanese people (and his own) by pretending that British policies (whether in Palestine – lest he thinks we forgot – or in Lebanon itself) were motivated by anything other than greed, colonial interest, care for Israeli occupation, and competition between the colonial powers themselves.

Of course, the ambassador prefaces his remarks by a perfunctory dosage of flattery – the substance of which he must have heard from the Lebanese themselves – or those upper-class Lebanese who attend embassy functions in Beirut. He even praises the hospitality of the Lebanese people, which is inferior to the hospitality that the UK accorded to the Zionist project. Talk about hospitality.

And while the ambassador expresses admiration for the Lebanese, he also shares their frustration. He tells the Lebanese that he is frustrated with them.

But what does Tom think that we feel toward his government? He thinks that the Balfour Declaration, the divisions of the spoils of the region in Sykes-Picot, and the subservience of his country to US war designs in the region are relics of the ancient past?

It is not frustration that characterizes our feelings toward his government’s record in the region but deep anger and antipathy. If one should feel frustrated it is us.

What does he think we think about his government plot against Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1956 or his government’s role in the civil war in Lebanon in 1958 on the side of Chamoun and the right-wing fascistic elements?

Balfour requires much more than an apology to be forgiven – if ever: It requires a restoration of justice.

The UK will not reach a historic reconciliation with all the Arabs before the extinction of the Balfour Declaration and all of its ramifications.

His first advice to the Lebanese is that we should ignore advice from outsiders, and he included himself among them. But that is pure flippancy: If Tom truly wishes that we ignore his advice, why did he bother to write this long letter?

Furthermore, not all outsiders are alike: Some have truly assisted Lebanon in its struggle against occupation and for independence, and others (like his government) sponsored the occupation and brutalization of Lebanon.

The rest of Tom’s advice is akin to the psycho-babble of American talk show hosts and guests. Renewing marriage vows? What does that mean?

And is Britain about to renew marriage vows with Scotland or is it heading for divorce?

Does the US seek advice from the Lebanese ambassador in London? And why do I get the feeling that if the Lebanese ambassador in London were to draft a letter similar to Tom’s, she would be deported at once.

Finally, if Tom and his government like the Lebanese so much, why do the visa requirements make it virtually impossible for any Lebanese to visit the UK unless they are among the rich and powerful of Lebanon?

Maybe Tom’s letter is addressed to the political and economic elite of Lebanon, as it is doubtful that Tom ever wines and dines with average Lebanese, or with poor Lebanese (outside of those who work in the kitchen of his embassy).

Nevertheless, I will take the advice of Tom to heart: I will ignore letter.

I exchanged a few lines with Tom on Twitter, and he said in response to my critique that he was merely expressing his views. I answered by saying that he would never dare criticize, say, the government and society of Saudi Arabia.

I dared him to have his colleague in Riyadh draft such a letter to the Saudi people. He answered by sending me the routine human rights evaluation of Saudi Arabia (which is part of an annual global assessment that the UK and US do but without any policy implication).

Tom must have known that does not suffice, and that his government and all of its ambassadors are required to adhere to the highest norms of prostration and subservience in dealing with the House of Saud. Too bad, Tom, that Lebanon has not extracted its oil and gas yet. I bet you that you would have not drafted your letter in that case.

Note 1: Other critics brought forth the advanced ancient civilization of Lebanon and the Levant region (Syria and Palestine), and this is reason enough to refuse advises from a British ambassador.

Fact is very few Lebanese are engaged in researching this ancient civilization, and fewer who care of the past.

Note 2: This is a sample article on advanced ancient civilization https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/masters-in-agriculture-viticulture-food-preservation-wine-and-beer-making-textile-and-dying-the-phoenicians-part-5/


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