Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Archive for April, 2007

A day in the Middle East: a wall, a killing, a bloody raid and a parliamentary resignation

Posted by worriedlebanese on 24/04/2007

On the same page of a French daily, one could see the scope of inter-communal strife in the Middle East through postings on Iraq, Turkey, Palestine and Israel. For once, Lebanon was missing from the gruesome headlines.
In Iraq, people were protesting against the wall being built by the American forces to seperate a Sunni neighjbourhood from a Shiite one: Another clumsy American step. Couldn’t they forsee that the Bagdad wall they had started to build would be compared to the Israeli seperation wall or to Beirut’s fomer green line seperating the Christian districts from the Muslim ones? As expected, the arab media and political circus couldn’t go beyond the symbolic aspect of this construction and coulnd help themselves from attributing the division that it represents to the Americans.
In Turkey, politicians and the media were still commenting on the brutal slaying of three Protestants in Malatya in the name of Islam and the Homeland (as one of the assailants put it). Orhan Kemal Cengiz, the lawyer who had defended one of the victims when detained for defamation (ie proselytising) said “there is a general atmosphere of fear the country will be dismantled that feeds the hate against Christians and their supposed missionary activities”. What a sad excuse when one considers that until the 1920s Malatya had a large Christian population that was at times majoritary (mostly Armenian but also Assyian) that now represents less than 1% of the population.
In Palestine, the Isaeli army killed 9 Palestinians in less than two days, in a raid (Gaza) and a secret incursion (West Bank). One of the people killed was a 17 y/o kid throwing stones, and another was a 17 y/o girl looking through her window.
In Israel, the Knesset will be receiving Azmi Bishara’s resignation (sent from Egypt). He is accused of treason and corruption (because of meetings he had in Damascus).


Posted in Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Pluralism, Turkey, Violence | Leave a Comment »

On Sovereignty and Sovereigntism – The Present (2)

Posted by worriedlebanese on 12/04/2007

Posted in Lebanon, Political behaviour, Politics, Semantics | Leave a Comment »

On Sovereignty and Sovereigntism – The Past (1)

Posted by worriedlebanese on 11/04/2007

In the 1990s, I argued against the use of the word “sovereigntist” to describe the political leaders and forces that asked for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and spoke of a Syrian occupation of the country. I found the word derogatory and preferred to qualify those who were actively collaborating and linking their interests to (mostly personal) Syrian interests, or those who were finding ways to accommodate with the Syrian domination (calling extremists those who called for the withdrawal of Syrian troops or spoke of occupation) without loosing the backing of their constituency that was openly hostile to the Syrian regime. I’d call them the pro-Syrians, the anti-independentists, the followers, the lukewarm pro-Syrians, the compulsive accommodationists… Until 2005, every single Member of Parliament except for Albert Mokheiber could easily fit in at least one of these categories. You’d see them argue that the Syrian government was not a foreign government but that of a sister country (whatever that meant). They’d defend the linkage between Lebanese and Syrian interests, “direction” and “destiny”. They’d claim that there is more than a convergence; there was a unity in principle and in essence between Lebanese interests and Syrian ones.

Why qualify the opposition to Syrian domination by any other name? Why make them sound as ideologically biased when all they called for was the reestablishment of Lebanese sovereignty, the withdrawal of Syrian troops and intelligence from Lebanon, the definition of Lebanese interests and the non-intervention of the Syrian government or any other foreign government in Lebanese interests.

What about the present situation?Is Lebanon today a Sovereign State? Who is using the argument of reestablishment of Lebanese sovereignty, what are the arguments they use?

Posted in Lebanon, Political behaviour, Politics, Semantics | Leave a Comment »

Hassan Nasrallah’s Easter speech

Posted by worriedlebanese on 10/04/2007

I was going to call this post “How the Sayyed stole Easter”, because of the impact Hassan Nasrallah’s speech had on the Lebanese political scene and how it completely eclipsed the Maronite Patriarch’s Easter wishes (not sure they really qualify as such). But I thought this take on Dr Seuss could be misinterpreted.
69060471.jpgOne “event” dominates today’s headlines in Lebanon, the speech Hassan Nasrallah gave on Sunday in Rwaiss (in Beirut’s southern suburb). I tried to find his speech on the internet, but failed miserably. But I did find some large extrqts, quotes and comments in the Nahar, Safir and Akhbar newspapers.


Hassan Nasrallah seems to have touched on all the political themes in discussion. He mentioned the parliamentary elections, the electoral law, the government of national unity, Paris III, the Presidency, the July war, the International tribunal, the political behaviour of Lebanese politicians, the legitimacy and purpose of the Resistance, the internationalisation of internal politics…

The three central arguments in his speech are undoubtedly the lack of trust between the Lebanese leadership, the purpose of the “resistance” and the democratic founding of legitimacy. The two slogans he openly considers as unfounded are that of Hezbollah being a State within the State and the government having the backing of the majority of the Lebanese people.

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

What is the point of this blog?

Posted by worriedlebanese on 09/04/2007

For some time now, I’ve been wondering if I should keep up this blog . When I first started it, I used to write an entry every day. It was a kind of diary in which I jotted all my political thoughts. I couldn’t keep up with this regularity, so very soon, I started noting ideas down everyday and then developping them and posting them twice or three times a week. And today, I hardly make the time to write new posts once a week. The fact that I’ve been travelling a lot lately doesn’t help regular posting either.

Most of the themes that I wanted to – and eventually did – develop relate to intercommunal affairs and how differences (ethnic and ideological) are managed in the Middle East. But it isn’t easy to write something new on this subject everyday. And it is hard to escape the headline news and the simmering political debates. On the other hand, one cannot rely on headline news for new subjects because the novelty in them is often very hard to find.

So instead of reflecting (on) news about the Middle East, the post will from now on mirror my political preoccupations (on what could and should be done), readings and the research I’ve been doing for a Peace eduation programme I’m working on. Let’s give it a try for a week or two. 

Posted in Blogosphere, Intercommunal affairs | 1 Comment »

Back to Soha Bechara

Posted by worriedlebanese on 08/04/2007

soha-bechara.jpgIn an earlier post, I had mentioned a Swiss documentary on Hezbollah featuring Soha Bechara.

Yesterday, I stumbled on an article about her, a book review on her autobiography: “Resistance: My life for Lebanon”. Oddly enough, the review’s author, Jean Saïd Makdisi, asks a couple of questions that had ran through my mind while I watched the Swiss documentary. One of them was about the moral implications of “resistance”; of the acts done in the name of resistance; of the criminal acts perpetrated in the name of resistance. I was disappointed by the way Soha Bechara had skipped these questions. She mentioned Gandhi once, saying that she would have like to persue a non-violent resistance, but that was not possible. This comment startled me. I was a bit shocked to hear her mention Gandhi when commenting her attempt to assassinate the SLA’s commander, General Antoine Lahd, without an ounce of regret.
Then there was another question that came to my mind. How could a communist resistance fighter (with a Christian background) be accepted by Hezbollah supporters and recognised as a fellow resistance fighter? They could have been fighting for the same thing, the liberation of Southern Lebanon (and more generally the defeat of Israel, the source of all evil to them), but not in the same name. I had witnessed during this summer war many left-leaning atheists back Hezbollah, fully support them with everything they had, withstanding their ideological and religious differences. How can this be? and what does it mean?


Posted in Hezbollah, Intercommunal affairs, Political behaviour, Religion, Secularism, Violence | Leave a Comment »