Lebanon: Thorny Internal Political, Social & Economic Issues and Gaza

Bloggers of the Lebanese blogosphere touched upon a wide range of topics this past week. Please bear patience and read on and I assure you that your journey will be rewarding. It is difficult to encompass all that was discussed. But among the posts are topics that dealt with:

  • How the failures of the “March 14 Movement” (Cedar Revolution) are leading to advances in the opposing camps, especially in the camp of “the Free Patriotic Movement” of Gen. Aoun.
  • Reflection and analysis on the verbal clashes within/between some of the sects in Lebanon.
  • Love it-leave it relationship between Lebanon and Lebanese youth.
  • The priorities that the politicians have which do not meet the basic needs of the people.
  • A heavy attack on ATTAC which is a campaign against the WTO and on WTO too.
  • Mistreatment of foreign maids working in Lebanon.
  • Surprise predictions concerning the assassination of PM Rafic Hariri
  • “Fair and balanced” reporting in the Arab media resulting in less reporting on the missiles that are actually killing the Palestinians everyday.
  • An artist’s play on the Cedar, the Lebanese national symbol, to reflect the internal political and factional strife plus the Lebanese infatuation with the world cup.

Now please allow me to start with Amal’s depiction of the splits and discords that burdens the Lebanese. Instead of having just one Cedar in the center of the national flag she “plants” many others with different sizes and directions.


Lebanon.profile blitzed the blogosphere with lengthy, daily and interesting posts on his blog and on the other blog (mentioned below) where he is also a contributor. Among these posts is one that brings up the dilemma faced by young Lebanese who have to leave their country despite their love for it.

Lebanon offers an incredible amount in terms of culture and relaxation. One could not imagine a nicer place to vacation and have an absolutely, incredibly fun time. […]
However, this is a place where it's nearly impossible to enjoy life at the age of 24. It's nearly impossible to enjoy a permanent Lebanese life without a villa, wasta, and enough money to travel frequently. It's impossible to escape the oppression of Lebanese politics and society. […]

In another location Lebanon.profile discusses how Gen. Aoun is taking advantage of the failures of others, especially the Hariri Camp, to advance his cause. In a third post, he lists the reasons for the successes of the Free Patriotic Movement of Gen. Aoun:

Aoun is maneuvering brilliantly in the current political climate. His campaign is successful for four main reasons, that were most likely not conscious efforts:
1. Capitalizing on government failures
2. Appealing to Lebanese Christian culture
3. Using attack dogs to bully the government, but remaining distant from them
4. Appealing to Lebanese abroad

Raja addresses the leaders who he thinks are busy with their squabbles while leaving issues like the high death toll due to road accidents unattended.

More Lebanese die and suffer severe injury on roads than anywhere else. And since life precedes even material concerns, you would think that the number-one issue on the Lebanese political agenda would be road safety. But it isn't.
Politically, the most prominent issues on the average Lebanese's plate are: 1) Lebanon's “strategic alignment” in the region, 2) Protecting or Confiscating Hizballah's weapons 3) Relations with Syria, 4) and all the other mumbo jumbo that we watch on TV and read on the newspapers every day of our brief existence on this planet. […]
Dear Head Honchos:
Every sovereign country needs to figure out where it stands with regards to its immediate and not so immediate neighbors. But managing the affairs of a State goes beyond foreign policy. We need your attention. We need Representatives; not thieves, or a parliament filled with wannabe foreign ministers. Today, we're not dieing because of your immediate decisions, but we're dieing nonetheless. We are dieing because of your incompetence!
Humble Citizen

Abu Kais analyzes, in length, what he sees as the reasons behind the current verbal feuds within some sects and among other sects, especially the recent attacks on prominent religious figures of the Maronite church by leaders of the Maronite community. This he believes has its roots in the Syrian intervention in Lebanese politics.

I am with everyone who complains about the sectarian system in Lebanon, the near absence of government in Lebanon, and failure of the 14 March political leaders. Successfully tapping into this failure, which has roots in the long Assad colonial rule in the country (yes, colonial), are Bashar’s lackeys, who are slowly engineering the country’s return to being a “Syrian” satellite state. The Shia community is tucked safely in Bashar’s pocket, and the Sunnis have been weakened after Hariri’s assassination. Michel Aoun was co-opted by (possibly) promising him a future presidency. The stumbling block, however, has been one Maronite Patriarch, who never hid his opposition to the regime in Damascus.

Anarchistian ridicules the campaign of the Lebanese organization, ATTAC, against the WTO as irrelevant, inefficient and sees it as more of a support for WTO than a campaign against.

Some leftist pseudo-leftist activists have been unable to conceal their excitement about a new campaign on (well, supposedly against) WTO initiated by ATTAC. The latest development on this topic is a release/statement that outlines the goals of a campaign titled “Lebanon is not for sale”. First of all, there is something unsettling in the title; the statement basically insists on the national/istic character of the campaign as opposed to its broader class nature. Second, the actual contents of the statement – I will go through this point by point to show that this campaign and ATTAC in general, is really irrelevant when it comes to the struggle against WTO.

In one of his multi-topics posts Prof As’ad Abu Khalil touches on how some Arabic media’s effort to be “fair and balanced” is leading them to show less and less of the plight of the Palestinians.

Al-Arabiyya TV today was busy covering Bush's birthday; it was much more important than Israeli killing of Palestinian civilians. Al-Hayat newspaper–its editor-in-chief sat near me on the plane to London–had a headline about “Israeli military operation.” That is the “fair and balanced” terminology now. Do you realize how I am increasingly drawn to conspiracy theories in analyzing Arab media? Israeli guests on Al-Arabiyya are now treated less rudely than Hamas officials. […]
Sometimes I don't know why I write–anything. You see news of murderous Israeli occupation bombing the hell out of Gaza, and you say, does anything matter? Was that what Adorno meant when he said “No poetry after Auschwitz”? But how can you kill poetry? I would not. Not for any reason.

In the same post, Prof As’ad discloses this about the investigations on the assassination of PM Rafic Hariri.

Ashraf Rifi–the director-general (and Hariri man) of the Lebanese Security Forces–has an interesting theory about the Hariri assassination: he “reportedly” believes that neither Rustum Ghazalah nor the “four generals” were involved. He “reportedly” believes that the Syrian government dispatched a special team from Damascus to perpetrate the assassination without even alerting their men in Lebanon at the time. One of the four generals, Jamil As-Sayyid, may be released soon. He is the only one of the four who not only is not linked, according to the UN investigating team, to the assassination, but is also not implicated in the “tampering”-with-the-scene-of-the-crime allegation.

Prof Abu Khalil also tackles the subject of maltreatment and discrimination against foreign maids in Lebanon here:

Sri Lankan maids: banned from the swimming pools of Lebanon. It is official: I have had that confirmed yesterday; I have heard about that “unwritten” law before, but I can now confirm to you that all, ALL, swimming pools in Lebanon ban Sri Lankan maids from the pools. In fact, if one maid is seen dipping even her feet in the water, the lifeguard is notified. There were cases were kids ran away when a maid “dared” to feel the water.

And here:

Yesterday, Carole Mansour, the director of the documentary Maid in Lebanon (about Sri Lankan maids in Lebanon) invited me to watch the documentary. She put me in a dark room by myself to watch. It was powerful. I shall write a longer review upon my return. I strongly urged her to expand the documentary, and she shot more footage, both in Sri Lanka and in Lebanon.

Finally, Amal, inspired by the extensive decoration of Lebanese balconies, homes and cars with flags of teams playing in the World Cup, decorated the Cedar as shown. Brazil, the most popular team for Lebanese, had already lost when this was done.


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