Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Archive for February, 2007

Accusations of espionnage and their political use

Posted by worriedlebanese on 28/02/2007

mhmd-attar.jpgAs regular as clockwork, every couple of year Egypt offers the world a highly mediatised court case featuring three basic ingredients: scandal, sex and the West (or something similar, ie Israel). In 2004, the Azzam Azzam case finally came to an end when the Egyptian authorities released the Druze Israeli citizen in a “swap” operation with the Israeli government (against six Egyptian students). It all started in 1996 when Azzam was inprisoned and later tried for spying of being an Egyptian spy later tried for industrial espionage: using women’s underwear soaked in invisible ink to pass information to Israel’s. Even his lawyer risked disciplinary action for defending an Israeli spy.

Today, Mohammed al-Attar’s trial resumed. He was arrested at the airport on New Years day, charged of being a Mossad agent. A Canadian newspaper published a transcript of his confession (probably exerted through torture) in which he admits having recruited gay or impoverished Arabs in Canada (where he works as a waiter) for Mossad.
Here again, we find the same ingredients: sex and espionnage… and all for the account of Israel.
This says a lot about Egypt’s attitude towards Israel almost 27 years after Camp David (in which it signed peace with Israel). In three years time, Egypt would be at “peace with Israel” for longer than it had been at war, but just like war, peace can be strickingly cold.
In fact, it is so hard for the government to morally defend this political choice that it doesn’t even try to do so. On the contrary, every couple of years it organises a judicial and media circus in which it shows how morally reprehensible Israel is: using Arabs to spy on Egypt. But the Arabs it uses are not ordinary Arabs. The authorities deem it important for the public not to identify with them. They are presented as belonging to a minority (religious or sexual) and are portrayed as being perverts (writing on women’s underwear or being homosexual).
Actually, not only Egypt is not doing anything to promote peace culture and normalise relations with Israel, but it is encouraging a vicious anti-Israeli attitude in the media and in its society. On another hand, it hasn’t made much to support or help the Palestinians. What example or model is that for Peace?

Posted in Conspiracy, Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Let’s talk geopolitics -2 (presenting the game)

Posted by worriedlebanese on 27/02/2007

Four different elements grab the geopolitician’s eye:
– Ressources (usually oil and water in the Middle East): who has them, who needs them, who wants to grab them.
– Military power (size really matters but so do certain gruesome weapons be they nuclear, chemical or biological)
– Political alliances (with a couple of keywords such as “equilibrium”, “balance”, “axes”, “shifting”, “strategic”, “tactical”…)
– Minorities (Ethnic, intellectual, economical…) and their interactions.

Any region in the world has plenty of those, but the Middle East seems particularly blessed. Geopolitical analysts have grown accustomed to a sort of balance of power (or a dissuasive equilibrium of threats) between Israel and “the rest” (Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Egyptians, Jordanians…) which keeps the region tense but mostly quiet (on a sort of bumpy yet regular ride). This equilibrim survived the end of the cold war even though the US was slowly trying to change the rules of the game (without necessarily upsetting the equilibrium) by supporting an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict (without necessarily solving the problems connected to it).
In many ways this strategy was gaining ground: The Israeli government showed little resistance to America’s grand scheme and most of the Arab regimes were in favour of an end to the conflict especially in the Golf region and the Maghreb (though many continued to publicly deny that).
When the US administration started talking about the Greater Middle East a couple of years ago, little did it know that the Middle Easter equation was going to expand so rapidly, and countries with very little connection to the Arab-Israeli conflict or any other conflict in this region, were going to become major players, and most notably Iran and increasingly Turkey.
This expansion or intrusion (depends on which way you look at it) would bring new elements to the Arab-Israeli conflict and would entangle it with other “problems” such as the Iranian nuclear program, the Kurdish question and the Shiite/Sunni conflict.

Quite unsurprisingly, Lebanon is the place where most of the tensions in the Middle East are expressed. In Lebanon, there is talk of two axes:
– The Syrian-Iranian axis
– The Saoudi-American axis
Unfortunately, such an approach blurs the intricacies and the layering of the geopolitical game (local, regional, international). Any player can be active on one or several layers. And the stakes can be different from one scene (or layer) to another.
Let’s take the Syrian-Iranian axis to which many journalists link Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement.
Well, the Syrian government has become in many ways a client to the Iranian regime. It is threatened by the International Court that the Lebanese government is pushing for with the support of the American and the French governments. It tries to keep a nuisance power in Lebanon and Palestine through its alliance with Hezbollah and Hamas, and through its own intelligence (in Lebanon). It’s position is in no way comparable to Iran, that is positioning itself as a major power in the Middle East and that is threatened by American bases located next to its northern, southern, eastern and western borders. And both governments can hardly be compared to the two Lebanese parties that have a local agenda (some people would argue if Hezbollah actually has one… but that’s another issue). But we are dangerously drifting away from a strictly geopolitical analysis and into a socio-political approach. So let’s go back to discussing geopolitically!
Basically, we have the birth of a regional power that is upsetting the whole regional equilibrium, challenging on one hand what had been the sole regional power (Israel) and, on the other hand, the world’s hyper-power (USA) that has opened Pandora’s box in neighbouring Iraq, bringing to the forefront the Sunni/Shiite rivalry and the Kurdish question… something Turkey cannot ignore (and that forces Turkey into getting involved in the Middle East).
Relatively speaking, Iran functions as Germany did in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century. It upsets the old equilibrium and the challenge it constitutes is not accepted by the other powers. War is somewhat unevitable unless the regional system adapts quickly, integrates and contains the new power (that is still unused to its new strength and could go a little too far to assert it).
In more ways than one, the summer war in Lebanon and Israel is a result of the upsetting of the old equilibrium and the coming about of a new one. The question that we now face it the following: Will this new balance be accepted by the different players and to what extent? If not, what are they to do about it? How ill they react? Are they thinking of any other alternative to the use of force?

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Let’s talk geopolitics -1 (introducing the players)

Posted by worriedlebanese on 26/02/2007

For weeks now, I have been writing “hate mails” to journalists and getting into fights with friends and colleagues over the way their reading of the Lebanese situation is strictly geopolitical and their analysis ignores the political and local dimension of the current crisis. I firmly believe that this serves the interests of the Lebanese political class (that forms a “zaïmarchy”); it portrays them as mere pawns or victims of larger and overriding powers relieves them of all political responsibility. Not only does a strictly geopolitical reading of the internal situation unjustly unburden Lebanon’s zaïmarchy, but it also give us a very distorted reading of the internal dynamics (and sometimes of the regional dynamics, because the perspective of the analyst is paradoxically too local).
By criticizing Lebanon’s geopoliticians, I might have given the impression that I find geopolitical groundless and uninteresting, which I don’t. I find this exercise a whole lot of fun, and sometimes even insightful.

First let’s look at the main regional and international actors in the Lebanese crisis (in alphabetical order):
France: strong historical ties with the Maronite church and Lebanon’s Godmother. It had betted on Rafic Hariri during the past 10 years as part of its Arab (and more specifically) Sunni strategy in the Middle East.
Germany: Not much of a great player in the Middle East, but has enjoyed an important role as an intermediary between Hezbollah and Israel, and for some time between the US and Iran.
Israel: The neighbourhood bully or the regional hammer for which everything is a nail. This modern day Sparta firmly believes that the solution to its troubles (and sole guarantee to its very existence) is its unrivaled military power.
Iran: The uninvited guest or unwanted child. In less than 4 years, this country has become a major player in the Middle East by positioning itself as a Shiite power (not necessarily an islamist one), the protector of Shiites in Lebanon, Iraq, and probably soon in Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, but also the only “true defender of the Palestinian cause”. In many ways, the July war can be considered as an absorption attempt by the US of this regional power, or the birth pang (to use an expression dear to Condoleeza Rice) of a new regional power.
Palestinians: The PLO is no longer an active player regionally; many active and dormant groups have succeeded it (Hamas, Fateh, small islamists groups, ex-communists…).
Russia: The re-emerging power that has discovered that its strength lies in the nuisance it can incur. It hasn’t up to now made the Middle East the centre of its interest.
Saudi Arabia: The wealthy conservative Sunni neighbour. It doesn’t quite qualify as a power due to its weak military, unimaginative diplomacy, its inefficient use of resources and underlying paradox (it supports and fights Sunni islamist groups). It has been a player in Lebanese politics for years and is financially supporting the Lebanese government.
Syria: The mouse that roared. For years, Hafez el-Assad convinced many leaders worldwide that he headed a regional power while he was actually impoverishing his country and ruining all chances of making it a true power. His secret: a nuisance power exerted almost exclusively in Lebanon. His son and successor seems to be following in his father’s footsteps, only his country is too poor and weak to convince anyone of having any power at all, and its nuisance is used for self-preservation (his government and family are being threatened by an international inquiry over the assassination of Rafic Hariri).
Turkey: The disoriented State. Indoctrinated since WWI that geography is part of an international conspiracy to deny its true soul, this country has invested in its own military establishment to keep it on the right track. For years the military (the State’s godmother) was busy modernizing the state and protecting the Kemalist legacy (hyper-nationalism, pro-westernism and secularism) and killing off as many Kurdish fighters as possible (with many “collateral damages”). The Turkish military is slowly discovering geography and rediscovering that most of its territory is in the Middle East. Turkey’s government is getting more and more involved in Middle-Eastern affairs (Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq).
UK: America’s second. No specific foreign policy in the Middle East to speak of. At least not yet…
US: Israel’s fairy godmother. Has only exerted “force” on Israel once… to oblige Shamir’s government into attending the Madrid Peace conference. It is globally busy with a very costly “war on terror” that has taken it to Afghanistan and Iraq, two countries that have completely collapsed since the US administration has decided to help them out in institution building.

Did I leave any actor out? Yes, Lebanon. But thanks to the Chehabist legacy, the country sees itself as merely the battleground of Middle Eastern crises and refuses to engage in any policy whatsoever. Fuad Siniora’s only foreign policy engagement is that the country would be the last to sign peace with Israel (quite difficult to scramble for the last part when there are hardly two or three other contenders left). But this doesn’t mean that the Lebanese Zua’ama and their parties don’t have a foreigh policy: the Hezbollah is allied to Iran and wants to wipe out Israel, Saad Hariri and his Future Movement is allied to Saoudi Arabia and wants to wipe out the Syrian government, Walid Jumblatt is taking matters quite personally with Syrian president Bashar el-Assad and a bunch of Maronite presidential candidates helplessly wonder why no regional or international power is interested in them as allies, but are still ready to engage in anything to get the Lebanese presidency.

Posted in Middle East, Politics | 1 Comment »

The trouble with Hezbollah – 1

Posted by worriedlebanese on 25/02/2007

lebanon-hezbollah-hybrid-flag.jpgI had quite an argument today with a university friend of mine who is currently based in London over pretty much everything pertaining to Lebanese politics. We did agree on a couple of things though… which kept the argument going for over an hour. This encouraged me to take a step back and think seriously and calmly on Hezbollah and the many challenges it presents and represents.

Hezbollah is one of Lebanon’s largest parties if not the largest. It possesses military, cultural, religious, social and political leverage.
– Militarily, it has a very well trained armed force with a very enviable capacity. During the last war with Israel, not only did it come out of it undefeated, but it fought back quite fiercely and inflicted a lot of losses on the Israeli side.
– Socially and culturally, it is very present through a number of NGOs that provide health, educational, housing and technical services (for reconstruction), a television and a radio station.
– Religiously, even though the clerics that command the party are not of a high rank, Hezbollah enjoys the support of a large number of prominent Shiite clerics, most notably the religious leader of the Shiite community.
– Politically, it is present on the local, the communal, the national and the regional scene. Since the last municipal elections it has become a major political player on the local institutional scene. Since the 2000 parliamentary elections it enjoys a de facto “duopoly” on the Shiite political representation through a very uneven alliance with the weak Amal Movement that it dominates since the 2005 parliamentary elections. Furthermore, it has become the certified “resistance movement” against Israel (a title that is officially still recognised by the Siniora government). And today, it enjoys a very strong Lebanese Shiite backing. It is safe to say that a majority of Lebanese Shiites today support Hezbollah and any attack against it would be interpreted as an attack against the Shiite community. On the regional level, it’s the only Lebanese actor that interacts with Israel (for the exchange of prisoners, in the exchange of missiles…), and it has a vital alliance with the Iranian regime and a tactical one with the Syrian government.

Here are a couple of questions that are generally raised concerning Hezbollah?
Can it be demilitarised by force? The answer is quite obvious. If Israel couldn’t do it, nobody can, especially not the Lebanese army because not only it doesn’t have the military capacity to do it, but such a step would threaten its unity (many of its soldiers are Shiites and would see such a step as an attack on one of the community’s most important symbols). And if the army cannot do it, the born again sectarian militias would certainly fail in achieving any gain because of the strength and the regional concentration of Hezbollah. This would only bring the country back to civil war.
Would a government be legitimate without it (or without its backing)? Before 2005, the answer would have certainly been yes. But since the last parliamentary elections and the Israeli war on Lebanon, the answer is quite obviously no. It would be extending to the Shiites a practice that was started in 1992 with the Christians: their political representatives were set aside and replaced by others. This was only workable through violence: Christian leaders were banished, militants were executed or imprisoned, others were kidnapped, all dissenting voices were repressed, the media was controlled… This was made possible by Christian leaders’ military defeat, the invasion of their stronghold by the Syrian army, the decommissioning of arms, the full cooperation of the Lebanese military intelligence (reshaped by the Syrians)…
The Shiites will certainly not accept to be treated that way and their leadership cannot be silenced by force. Moreover, both demographically and militarily, the Shiites community and its current leadership is very strong and could react violently if excluded from the power sharing system.
Does Hezbollah threaten the Lebanese State or government (though Lebanese analysts tend to confuse both concepts)? Not quite. It does raise many questions and issues many challenges. How can a Lebanese State function properly with a strong and functioning militia (as opposed to the dormant ones)? How can the Lebanese system cope with the mobilisation of one of its largest communities behind one party that had made different choices from the leadership of other parties (that also have mobilised their communities)? How dangerous is this? and what is to be done about it?
(to be continued…)

Posted in Hezbollah, Intercommunal affairs, Lebanon, Pluralism, Political behaviour, Politics, Religion, Violence | 7 Comments »

Giving Peace a bad name -1

Posted by worriedlebanese on 24/02/2007

Two principles have come to dominate all views on peace in the Middle East these days.
– “Land for Peace”
– The establishment of a Palestinian State.
Before taking a look into the problems that these two principles raise, let’s have a look at how they emerged on the global scene.
A historical glimpse of the birth of the Middle East peace principles
People usually trace the origin of the first principle to UN Security Council Resolution 242 that stated two principles: (1) the “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” and the (2) the “Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force”. Nowhere in this resolution voted in the aftermath of the 1967 war do you find any mention of Palestine or the word “Palestinians”. The latter are referred to as “a refugee problem that should be settled”.
The Madrid Peace conference (hosted by the government of Spain and co-sponsored by the USA and the USSR) that was convened on October 30, 1991 for three days, brought together and for the first time representatives of the Israeli, Jordanian, Syrian and Lebanese government. The PLO, deemed to represent the Palestinians, was in constant communication with the Palestinian representatives in the joint Jordanian-Palestinian team. As for Lebanon, its representatives acted as if they were part of the same team as Syria and didn’t partake in bilateral talks (though Syria did).
The basic principle that was at the basis of this “Peace” conference was that of “Land for Peace”.
Following the Oslo accords between Israel and the PLO, another principle started to gain ground, that of the establishment of a Palestinian State.
The Arab Summit that convened in Beirut in March 2002 finished with a much publicised declaration know as the Saudi initiative that reaffirms and combines the two principles and puts them under a common heading, that of “comprehensive peace” or “just peace” (the two formulas are found in the declaration).

Posted in Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Palestinian territories, Peace, Politics, Syria | Leave a Comment »

Journalists engaged in the political battle

Posted by worriedlebanese on 23/02/2007

An unsigned article appeared in yesterday’s L’Orient-Le Jour edition titled “The opposition’s sit-in transforms the city centre into a ghost town”. It is quite a good example in biased journalism and reportage. It’s unfortunately not an isolated case. The media is playing a very bad role in Lebanon, exacerbating the political conflict, strengthening the divide and the polarisation, keeping emotions strong and dominant and mobilising people with them (and under the same false headings used by the political leaders).
Usually people comment on the Lebanese televisions that are owned by political parties, their leaders or sympathisers: Manar (Hezbollah), Future (Future Movement), LBC (Lebanese Forces) & NBN (Amal). But little is said about the press. A closer look into the Lebanese newspapers is quite upsetting. It is unfortunately not completely reflected by the Reporters without frontier rating.
- Monopoly : The Lebanese press suffers from a monopoly. You cannot publish a political paper freely in Lebanon, you have to own a licence to do so. And the government doesn’t issue any new licences. So the only way to do it is to buy an already existing licence, something that is quite expensive.
- Lack of Freedom 1: For years, the Secret Service has been interfering and setting to rules to what can be published and what cannot. This “tradition” was established by President Fuad Chehab and it became much stronger under Elias Hraoui’s presidency (and Rafic Hariri’s premiership) where “red lines” were drawn and the Press respected them without budging (Its editors are middle-aged family men who wanted to go on with their lives).
- Lack of Freedom 2: The journalists have no editorial control. The power system is hierarchical and their freedom depends on the good will of the editor that the owner chooses freely.
- Lack of independent representatives: the head of the editor’s and the journalists syndicates (Mulhem Karam and Muhamad Baalbaki) have been unchanged for over twenty years. Theses syndicates are actually small clubs in which entry is heavily restricted. Their purpose is to promote a status quo in this business (quite a lucrative one because of foreign input), they are very fearful of change and do little to advance the Lebanese press.

Posted in Journalism, Lebanon, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Providing shelter from the storm – 1

Posted by worriedlebanese on 23/02/2007

gathering-storm.jpgAmr Moussa sees a (political and probably military) storm gathering in the Middle East and that something should be done to protect Lebanon from it. The Arab League’s secretary general might not be efficient, the regional organisation he heads might be utterly useless, but he sure knows how to sum up the obvious quite perfectly. In Lebanon, journalists and analysts speak of axes (ma7awir), the Iranian-Syrian axis and the Saudi-American axis (to which some add Israel or France). This analysis is usually used to ignore, to blur or to understate the political dynamics in Lebanon. A journalist friend of mine even stated once that there was no politics anymore in Lebanon, only geopolitics.

I believe this approach to be indefensible for one simple reason, there are no foreign troops in Lebanon, so the dynamics within the country are strictly domestic. They weren’t two years ago when Syrian had its troops in Lebanon and a governor general who used to interfere in most domestic decisions. But since Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon, only the domestic players are direct actors on the Lebanese political scene. Exterior actors can certainly play a role by sending money, zigzaggin the Lebanese airspace with their war planes, setting a bomb here and there. But their influence is indirect; they can certainly effect the country, but only through its domestic actors (political parties, leaders or zu’ama) and the ways they react to those incentives, provocations or threats… The country’s problem lies in the fact that its political leaders see no problem in looking for exterior allies. Moreover, they tend to seek foreign interference whenever they want to change the rules of the political game.

There is of course another factor that is shifting the political game to a geopolitical game, but also through the will of the Lebanese actors: The governing coalition today is seeking a regime change in Syria, and it’s only tool is the International Tribunal on the murder of Rafic Hariri. I will discuss that further next week in a new entry.

Let’s see how the political actors are using their international alliance for internal political brokering.
Disarming Hezbollah is a major change in the political game. The anti-Bachar alliance had stated in 2005 (when it joined the opposition) that the disarmament of Hezbollah is an interior affair. During the elections, when the quadripartie alliance was re-established (between the Sunni Future Movement, the Druze PSP and the Shiite Amal and Hezbollah parties), not only was there no mention of the disarmament of Hezbollah, but Walid Jumblatt (leader of the PSP) for instance joined Hassan Nasrallah (leader of Hezbollah) in a political rally where the latter said that he would cut off the hand that approached Hezbollah’s weapons! And to no surprise, once this alliance came to power, there was no mention of any kind of disarmament in the ministerial declaration of the government that it established.
So one can safely say that nothing was done domestically to encourage Hezbollah to decommission. Only legalistic arguments have sparked up and have gained in intensity after the establishment of the present government, and more specifically in the aftermath of Gebran Tueini’s assassination. Two different arguments are used: that of the State’s sovereignty (and the of its monopoly on the use of legitimate force) and that of the supremacy of international law (in reference to Security Council resolution 1559). But the problem and the brokering should be political. Instead of negociating on that bases, the contending actors have prefered to rush to their international allies to add pressure on the opposing party.

Posted in Hezbollah, Journalism, Middle East, Political behaviour, Syria, Violence | Leave a Comment »

Intercommunal misinterpretations and exploitations of rape

Posted by worriedlebanese on 21/02/2007

The New York Times reported on a rape case that has been stirring Iraq since Monday. A woman publicly accused (on Jazeera television) the police of raping her. The Iraqi Prime Minister first issued a statement saying that he will do everything to punish those responsible for that crime. His office later issued a statement saying that the woman was lying and that she only said that her motivations were political (hinting that the motivations were sectarian).

It is easy to say that this affair “should not be dealt with on a sectarian basis”, to quote Salim Abdullah, a spokesman for the Tawafiq bloc of Sunni parties. But the problem is not really there. It lays in the fact that this case heightened inter-communal suspicions from the start and added to the inter-communal tension that prevails in Iraq today; the alleged rape victim being a Sunni woman and the accused perpetrators Shiite. So it’s not a question of dealing or not dealing with it on a “sectarian basis”, but knowing that it is a highly sensitive issue and that intercommunal sensitivities and tensions should be taken into account while dealing with this sordid affair.

So it is important to “depolitise” the affair or at least try to separate its political dimension from its judicial one. This is obviously not an easy task knowing the deep communal polarisation. What Malki’s government should obviously do is start working on intercommunal trust building measures. Something it hasn’t done and that it doesn’t seem likely to given its communal bias and the dominant “republican” discourse that denies the communal aspect of any political matter, something that doesn’t really help manage communal tensions and crises.
Here’s the article mentioned:
rape-accusation-reinforces-fears-in-a-divided-iraq.doc

Posted in Intercommunal affairs, Iraq, Political behaviour, Reform, Violence | Leave a Comment »

Mai Ghassoub’s last article

Posted by worriedlebanese on 21/02/2007

I just learned from Opendemocracy that Mai Ghassoub has passed away. This came quite as shock to me for I have been plotting for the past week on ways I should follow so as to meet her. I had just discovered her writings through an article she had published on Spencer Platt’s picture that had won the World Press Photo prize for 2006.
www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-middle_east_politics/world_press_photo_4342.jsp
I had stumbled upon this article as I was preparing an entry for this blog commenting the photograph.
The article was so interesting that I realised that I had very little to add to it, so I abstained from writing anything and thought of writing her a letter. A bit to late for that.
platt_winner_adjust.jpg
Mai Ghassoub passed away in London on Sunday, she was the cofounder of Saqi press. She also was an artist, and a writer. Her books include Leaving Beirut: Women and the Wars Within (Saqi, 2001) and Imagined Masculinities: Male Identity and Culture in the Modern Middle East (Saqi, 2006)
Check out her article.

Posted in Lebanon, Semantics, Violence | 3 Comments »

On the Protocols of the… mullahs of Qom

Posted by worriedlebanese on 20/02/2007

theprotocols.jpgIf you’re into conspiracy theories and your Bible is the “Protocols of the elders of Zion”, you probably know that there’s a sequel to this book, a sort of New Testament: The protocols of the mullahs of Qom. You thought that the Jews were the only ones out there to rule the world. You are wrong, they’re challenged by a much darker forcer, that of the Shiites.
Ask the Syrian born historian Mahmoud Al-Sayyed Al-Dugheim, and he’ll tell you all about it. If you are unable to reach him, check out the interview he gave on al-Jazeera TV a month ago (January 20th). You won’t believe your ears.
http://switch3.castup.net/cunet/gm.asp?ai=214&ar=1380wmv&ak=null
Not only everything he says is preposterous, but its so infused with hate that you wonder how no one has reacted to his talk.
Memri TV has provided us with the following translated transcirpts (you can see much more on their site www.memritv.org).
“We consider the Zionist plan to be dangerous to the Arab nation, but even more dangerous is the Safavid, Sassanian, Iranian plan to restore the Empire of Cyrus, which would range from Greece to Egypt, and the Arabian Peninsula, in addition to other regions” […]
“While the Zionist plan targets Jerusalem, which is holy to us, the Safavid plan targets Mecca and Al-Madina. If you go back to their books, which they do not mention in the media, yet these books exist and are accepted by them – they claim that their Hidden Imam will come to Mecca and Al-Madina, destroy the Al-Haram Mosque and the Mosque of the Prophet, and will dig in the graves of Abu Bakr and Omar, and burn them both, and then he will command the wind to blow them away. He will also dig in the grave of Aisha, the Mother of the Believers, and will execute her. All this is part of their plan”. […]
“All these actions are part of the 50-year plan of the Protocols of the Mullahs of Qom. This plan has been published and is well known. It aims to infiltrate the Sunni Muslim countries, to annihilate them, and to sow civil strife between the ruler and his subjects, all within fifty years”.
And you’ll also learn that the an “extended conference of the world’s Shiites was held in the holy city of Qom. It was attended by the leaders of all Shiite parties and religious authorities. The conference decided that a global organization must be established to annihilate the people who are left, to examine and analyze the current regional situation, to build a military force, to infiltrate governmental institutions through the women’s organizations everywhere, and then to infiltrate intelligence agencies, and to finish off the Sunni leaders, even by assassination.”
What can I say, beware of women organisations!

Posted in Conspiracy, Intercommunal affairs, Violence | 2 Comments »

NGOs and sociopolitical mobilisations in Lebanon

Posted by worriedlebanese on 19/02/2007

I wrote this entry on a sheet of paper. I will be adding it on wednesday.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Perfidious doubts and swinging emotions

Posted by worriedlebanese on 15/02/2007

It has been a week now that I haven’t written any entry in this blog. But I will cheat today, add a couple of notes I took the past four days and predate them.
Things have been rather hectic these days… I had a short journalistic article to finish… and the flaming news from Lebanon kept rocking my boat.
Bombs were planted in mini-buses not far from my home town. The country was preparing for the commemoration of Hariri’s assassination, and the press was building the emotions up for the event (not that it would bring its sales up… but probably out of habit).
The main idea that was repeated by the pro-government forces and press was, to quote Saad Hariri that the tribunal will “stop the cycle of terrorism, blood and assassination that has struck our country for the past 30 years.’ How will it do that? Isn’t it the other way round? Isn’t the tribunal exciting those who refuse to be tried. Won’t they continue to play havoc until the charges against them are dropped? will they sit quitely through the setting up process, or even the trial? What will happen after that? Would they quietly leave office? Should we be sacrificing justice for security? What’s next?
Emotions are quite insiduous. They creep up when you least expect them and take you for a ride. You can see just what they did to me in the three previous entries that I will be posting in the coming hour.

Posted in Lebanon, Violence | Leave a Comment »

Beirut diaries: truth lies and videos

Posted by worriedlebanese on 14/02/2007

A Lebanese group projected Mai Massri’s film today on the 2005 camp-in in Downtown Beirut.
The screeing was obviously used by the presenter as an occasion to salute the Lebanese “Martyrs” (he obviously forgot all the people who died during the summer war). He asked the people to observe a minute of silence in their memory. I was so angry with this kind of political exploitation and one sidedness that I refused to stand during that minute of silence.
During those few seconds of silence, I pondered on my own reaction and was shocked by it. But I stuck to my decision and realised that I could not behave in any other way. The time of mourning had not come yet. The political exploitation was too strong, and I refuse now to take part of it, even if those assassinations disgust me and I pity the poor people whose life was stolen from them.
Mai Massri’s film took me back to the time when I used to pass by the camp every day, after work, to talk to the people and to be part of this movement who’s first aim was to get the Syrian army out of the country. I also used to visit Hariri’s tomb and I couldn’t escape the emotions that transpired from there. What has changed since then?
The film is really very good. It shows all the hopes, the tensions, the staging, the sincerity, the disappointments, the contradictions that surrounded the 2005 camp-in.

Posted in Lebanon, Political behaviour, Violence | Leave a Comment »

A brief history of the zu’ama… or the archeolgy of the National Dialogue Table

Posted by worriedlebanese on 13/02/2007

Here is a short journalistic article I just finished on how the zua’ma overthrew the old system in 1958 and have been ruling ever since. I wrote it in French. But here are its main ideas:
– we traditionnaly analyse the power structure in Lebanon through the country’s insitutional structure, blaming the latter for all the flows we find in the former. This approach suits the political class because it withdraws all responsibility from them.
– I try to reverse this approach insisting that the power structure is not only independent from the institutional structure, but it also contradicts it.

autour-du-zaim.doc

Posted in Lebanon, Pluralism, Political behaviour, Politics, Reform, Version Francophone | 3 Comments »

Fear and loathing in the Metn

Posted by worriedlebanese on 13/02/2007

Mini Bus attackTwo bombs seem to have exploded in two mini-buses transporting people from the mountaineous regions of the Metn to the coast early this morning. The news agencies don’t seem to agree on the number of casualties, but the lebanese politicians seem to agree that they shouldn’t miss this opportunity to mobilise “their troops” and make it serve their agenda.
The pro-government forces (I have decided not to call them by any other name) called on the population to participate massively in tomorrow’s rally to reject that at (hinting that otherwise they would be condoning the acts or reacting in the way the perpetrators of this criminal act want them to). The FPM has as usual posed itself as the victim of these acts and its leader said that it was part of a conspiracy aimed to push the Christians to arm themselves in the name of self-defence. Michel Aoun was not the only person to speak of a conspiracy, the current minister of the Interior (who withdrew his resignation 10 months after having given it) spoke of a conspiracy too… But he was obviously hinting to Syria.
Why speak of a conspiracy? Why not just qualify the crime and go ahead with the inquiry. Why not speak of the measures that the police will be taking to prevent such crimes from occuring again? Minister Sabeh has already proven his incompetence on several occasions and has finally decided not to take any political responsibility for the failures of his ministry to fight such crimes.
For the first time in over a year, the civilian population was directly targeted in a anonymous attack. And the political class is reacting to it in the same way it reacted to the political assassinations that shook the country in 2005 and 2006. No one is trying to comfort the population, all they care about is the amount of political gain they can get from it (and one has to admit that the pro-government forces are working much harder on this than the opposition).

Posted in Lebanon, Political behaviour, Prejudice, Security, Violence | Leave a Comment »