Nothing but the truth. Even if against me.

Nothing but the truth. Even if against me.



Saturday, November 18, 2017

Aoun is Repeating Rafik Hariri's Mistake

Rafik Hariri rose to power as Saudi Arabia's man back in the late 1980s - early 1990s. He made his billions there and became the inevitable Sunni leader after the Taef Agreement. Taef is a Saudi city where Lebanon's corrupt politicians met, pocketed some Saudi Riyals, and signed the agreement that supposedly ended the Lebanese War of 1975-1990.

Saudi Arabia imposed Rafik Hariri as Prime Minister of a destroyed country. Now Mr. Hariri made his billions building palaces and other ostentatious displays of cheap wealth for the Saudi royals. He was no educated intellectual and was essentially a self-made businessman whose approach to Lebanon's post-war reconstruction lacked substance. Many attribute to him some grandiose vision, but the facts in hindsight show a naive, superficial business approach to problems that required an elementary understanding of Lebanon's nature and place in history.

What he did to Beirut - because his "reconstruction" did not extend beyond the boundaries of the city - was to remove the rubble from the disfigured downtown and refurbish some buildings, not for their historical or cultural value, but only to turn them into a gigantic open-air mall for upscale ritzy shops and restaurants that few Lebanese could afford. That was his business take on things. He left many historical structures abandoned and shell hole poked because they had no business appeal. He also built himself a gigantic mosque right next to, and dwarfing, the historic Saint George's Christian church, to reassert the new Muslim domination over Lebanon. The opportunity was there to resurrect the Roman Beirut that lay in a pit 20-30 feet deep right next to the church and the mosque, but Mr. Hariri left Roman Beirut in its pit of ruins where the occasional Arab tourist flings a cigarette butt in testament to the respect owed these ancient ruins. Roman Beirut, where a famed Law School provided the Roman Empire's legal system with many of its experts, was destroyed and covered by silt in a tsunami in 555 AD. Mr. Hariri also cleared the entire ancient downtown souks - markets - instead of rebuilding and modernizing them as Byblos, Batroun, Tripoli and other coastal cities have done.

While no one can deny Mr. Hariri's contributions, they nevertheless did not rise to the level expected for a city and a country that constantly brag about being centers of culture in the Near East. Tribalism, regionalism, religions, sectarianism... all contributed, and still contribute, to snuffing out this opportune moment and turn it into the only thing the Lebanese are really comfortable with: Money.

Be all this as it may, Mr. Rafik Hariri's other and literally more fatal mistake was his belief that business and money could somehow override Lebanon's big elephant in the room at the time: The Syrian occupation and the Hezbollah cancer. He chose to put blinders on, to push forward with clearing rubble and redoing some buildings, thinking that this will attract enough foreign investments and get the economy going. In his early years as Prime Minister, he went as far as defending the Syrian occupation and Hezbollah's armed militia, both beholden to Iran, his Saudi patron's nemesis, even though both were the only provisions of the Taef Agreement that were never implemented: A gradual Syrian withdrawal, and the abolition of all armed militias. He may not have believed in Syrian "brotherhood", or in Hezbollah's "resistance", but he chose to ignore them or praise them in the belief that they will in due time cease to exist.

When, a decade or so later, Mr. Hariri saw that his reconstruction was going nowhere, that Syria's grip was paralyzing the country's economy, that the already corrupt Lebanese had sunken even deeper into corruption thanks to the Syrian occupier's mentoring, that Hezbollah could in a second send the country into a war with Israel without so much as coordinating with Mr. Hariri's governments, he began to itch. All the billions he invested from his own pocket had become a waste, and he realized that one cannot build a country economically with the uncertainties that a foreign military and political occupation inevitably creates. He then embarked on slowly turning his political outlook into one of impatience with, then defiance to the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah cancer. This turnabout lasted a few years and climaxed in late 2004 when he joined efforts to pass UNSC resolution 1559 calling for an end to the Syrian occupation. As the international heat was building up against Syria in the post-9-11 era, the Assad regime summoned Rafik Hariri to Damascus and ordered him to return to Beirut, amend the constitution and re-elect the Syrian puppet President Emile Lahoud. As a businessman, Rafik Hariri feared more for his life and money than for his principles or his country, and he complied. But his divorce with Syria had been sealed. A few months later, his motorcade was blown up in a gigantic explosion in downtown Beirut that killed him. All investigations and court proceedings at the Hague's "Special Tribunal for Lebanon" point to Hezbollah and Syria as the killers of Mr. Hariri. He learned too late that you cannot have a normal sovereign country and economy with an anomaly like a foreign occupation and a militia beholden to a foreign power.

Today, the current Lebanese President Michel Aoun and his Prince Consort Gebran Bassil are repeating the same mistake that Rafik Hariri made. Somehow they believe or choose to ignore that Lebanon cannot be a normal country with the existence of a paramilitary entity like Hezbollah acting in parallel and independently of the State and its institutions, on behalf of foreign countries like Syria and Iran, dictating under pressure of arms its policies on the government, having an almost exclusive decision-making power in matters of war with Israel and Syria, and conducting its own foreign policy consisting of sending troops to war-torn countries like Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.

How can Aoun and Bassil imagine rebuilding a devastated economy, combating corruption, controlling the country's borders, and fixing the zillions of social, political and economic problems that chronically affect Lebanon, with Hezbollah conducting itself like the PLO of Yasser Arafat did back in the 1960s and 1970s , is incomprehensible. Perhaps Aoun and Bassil's wager on using Hezbollah as a platform to reach power has delivered, since Aoun's "understanding" with Hezbollah allowed him to impose himself as President of the country. But this is a Pyrrhic victory at best, for now, as we speak, the illusion of rebuilding the country's economy, repatriating the billions of dollars held by expat Lebanese across the globe, fighting corruption, breathing new life into the country's administrative wasteland, and re-calibrating the sectarian divide back in favor of the Christians (which the latter had lost after the 1975-1990 war), etc...have all suddenly faded with the convulsion caused by the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Rafik Hariri's son, as the Aoun presidency's first "national unity" government. The fundamental problem remains the same: The existence of the anomaly of Hezbollah cannot be ignored, cannot be set aside as unrelated to the country's multitude of ills and problems.

Yet, Aoun and Bassil do not seem to learn from the mistake of their erstwhile enemy Rafik Hariri, for Aoun spent much of his 15 years of exile lambasting Hariri as a puppet of Syria and Hezbollah. And here he is today, himself serving as a puppet president of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. Aoun believes that by ignoring the Hezbollah cancer, it will somehow cure itself by itself, just as Rafik Hariri did in the 1990s. Just like Rafik Hariri did in his early years, Mr. Aoun praises Hezbollah's resistance, argues that the Lebanese Army is incapable of defending the country without Hezbollah's assistance, agrees to a Hezbollah first policy of combating Jihadi terrorism as this past summer's events showed us. The Syrian regime decided this past summer, after it itself created the problem in 2014 of a few Jihadis (ISIS and An-Nusra) on the Syrian-Lebanese border, to end the charade and "liberate" the border highlands from these Jihadis. And so, Michel Aoun, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces, acquiesced to a Hezbollah-Syrian army coalition initiating this "liberation", and then permitting the Lebanese Army to follow and do a secondary cleanup. This cession of sovereignty by the Lebanese President is tantamount to abandoning your own sovereign prerogatives to foreign entities whose interests are at odds with Lebanese sovereignty.

The whole push by Aoun's Hezbollah-enabled ascendancy to power since a year ago has suddenly crumbled with Saad Hariri's resignation. Will Aoun and Bassil learn? Will they finally understand that their  Hariri or Saudi Arabia problem is merely a symptom of their own blindness or subservience to Iran and Syria and their dictates? That their problem is their own ignorance, or worse their collusion with Hezbollah? Can they finally see that, if their objectives are indeed to fight corruption and rehabilitate the State and its institutions, they must somehow remove the Hezbollah cancer? Or will they, like Rafik Hariri, succumb to the dictates of fear and persist in going along with the anomaly, and pay the ultimate price should they decide to, once again, turn their coats and deviate from the unprincipled path they have chosen for themselves?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Trump to Bin Salman: Surrender Palestine, I'll Beat Iran

As I predicted last June (see my featured post "Qatar, Israel and Al-Jazeera"), the deal between US President Trump and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman has entered a feverish pace of implementation. The deal was struck during Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia last May, in which Trump would take the side of Saudi Arabia against Iran in exchange for Saudis pressuring Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to make peace with Israel (under the latter's terms, of course) and buying half a trillion dollar worth of weapons from the US. Ever since, every action taken by either the Trump administration or Saudi Arabia aims at undermining any of the gains Iran has been scoring in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere.

No sooner had Trump left Saudi Arabia that the roll out began:

1- Refusal by Trump to certify the nuclear deal with Iran

2- Saudi embargo on Qatar (which is seen as a progressive Arab state walking a middle line between Saudi Arabia and Iran)

3- New wave of sanctions against Hezbollah in Lebanon (to weaken Iran's grip on the Lebanese government)

4- Reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas (Egypt forced Hamas to surrender to Fatah in anticipation of one united Palestinian government "negotiating" its terms of surrender to Israel)

5- Forcing the resignation of Saad Hariri, Lebanon's prime minister, by pressuring him with his financial woes linked to the so-called "corrupt Princes", and forcing him to divorce himself from the "unity" government deal he made a year ago with Iran-sponsored Hezbollah and its Lebanese ally Michel Aoun.

6- Blockade by Saudi Arabia of all Yemeni ports of entry (to pressure Iran's allies the Houthi rebels)

7- Summoning Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh (at the same time that Saad Hariri was summoned to Riyadh to announce his resignation) and giving him an ultimatum: Make a deal with Israel or else.

8- Persistent rumors of secret and direct Saudi-Israeli talks to coordinate the efforts between the two countries to weaken Iran and force a peace deal with the Palestinians.

9- The US State Department is threatening to shut down the Palestinian/PLO office in Washington DC "unless the Palestinians get serious about peace talks with Israel." While this move is part of the Saudi-US anti-Iranian, pro-Israeli push to deliver Palestine to its enemies, it is also a pretext camouflaging an attempt at undermining the Palestinians' gains in their legal and media war against Israel: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has engaged the International Criminal Court to “open an investigation and prosecute Israeli officials for their involvement in settlement activities and aggressions against our people”.

Based on all the above, it is very likely that Lebanon will - yet again - be the stage for a military confrontation with Iran (via its proxy Hezbollah) to be executed by Israel. Neither the US has forgotten the 243 US servicemen blown up by Hezbollah in October 1983, nor has Israel forgotten its debacle war against Hezbollah in 2006. Credit must go to former US president Obama whose refusal to intervene militarily in the region forced Saudi Arabia to protect itself for the first time in its history, instead of relying on the US for its defense. Saudi Arabia is now openly driving events, and is focused on driving Iran out of the Arab world.

There are also rumors that Israel, now backed by a major Arab country like Saudi Arabia, might wage a war not unlike that of its1982 invasion of Lebanon in which it drove the PLO and Yasser Arafat out of Lebanon, but this time it will aim to drive Hezbollah and its Shiite environment from the Lebanese south abutting the Israeli border. Just as the 1982 invasion was a major factor behind forcing the Palestinians to concede and recognize Israel and enter into the Oslo accords, a full-fledged Israeli invasion of the Lebanese south might this time entail a permanent occupation - and perhaps even an annexation - by Israel of the Lebanese south up to the Litani river. This would deprive Hezbollah of its Shiite rear guard from which it would wage a resistance war against this Israeli occupation, as it successfully did in the 1990s against Israel's occupation of the Lebanese-Israeli border strip and forced the Israeli withdrawal in 2000. Hezbollah's rockets might pose a challenge in the first phase of such an invasion since they could threaten the Israeli interior, but these rockets would ultimately be useless against an occupation, especially if the territory where these rockets are said to be mounted will fall under Israeli control.

While much of these scenarios remain hypothetical, and many statements and opinions lean to the avoidance of a war, the elements of a perfect storm are lined up for such a war scenario, especially with the otherwise incompetent Trump seeking some victory, even if in a reckless drive. As long as the Iranian theocracy stands in Tehran, and as long as the now-uninterrupted geographical Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon lifeline continues to feed Hezbollah, the latter will never surrender its weapons willingly. Only a war could force it to do so.

One final hypothetical scenario would pit the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) against Hezbollah as a means to end Hezbollah's dominant reach in Lebanon. The US had for decades refused to arm the LAF on the grounds that those weapons might fall into Hezbollah's hands. Now that Hezbollah has become better armed and financed than the LAF thanks to Iranian largesse, the US - with its typical short-term myopic tactical strategies - began arming the LAF in recent years, supposedly to fight Sunni Jihad terrorism coming in from the Syrian quagmire. It took only 2 weeks this past summer for Hezbollah and the LAF to remove the few decoy terrorists from the Lebanese-Syrian border, which means that the US is knowingly arming the LAF for another reason. And that reason is that the US is prepping the LAF for a confrontation with Hezbollah, something made obvious by the fact that the weapons granted by the US to the LAF do not pose a threat to Israel, yet they might just be enough to give the LAF an edge over Hezbollah.

In either scenario - Hezbollah vs Israel, or Hezbollah vs LAF - Lebanon will ultimately pay the price.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Mar Charbel for President of Lebanon

He's a Maronite.
He's a saint, so alive somewhere, even if only in spirit.
He does miracles, which Lebanon needs badly.
He now has a statue right on top of the mountain peaks, bigger than Harissa.
He doesn't take a paycheck, so a big savings for the Lebanese Treasury.
It will be like the Polish Catholics who appointed Jesus as King of Poland earlier this year.
And since he is a religious man, he will straighten the imbalance created by the Shiite "Sayyid" Hassan Nasrallah.
No one can challenge his integrity because he has been vetted by the Vatican (Uhm uhm).
He has no sons, no daughters, so no obnoxious son-in-law to pester us day and night.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Message to Lebanese expats and emigrés

Rush to register at your dysfunctional consulates and embassies all over the world.

The country has a self-perpetuating parliament for several years now, renewing its own term every two years because the parliamentarians love to have an easy job and they don't believe in elections. In fact, right now they are working hard to scuttle the new electoral law and prevent the holding of elections next May.

The country had no President for two years because Hezbollah and Michel Aoun boycotted the already dysfunctional parliament and prevented a quorum every time the election of a president was called for.

The "national consensus" government of Saad Hariri was short-lived. It was formed about 10 months ago, and had in the same bed strange bedfellows: representatives of enemies, of killers, of paramilitary organizations operating independently of the State.... It has now collapsed after the sudden resignation of Hariri who claims that the same people who killed his father in 2005, who are now on trial at The Hague, and whose representatives are in his government, wanted to kill him.

Yes, please register and experience the Kafkaesque nightmare of navigating the Lebanese bureaucracy, especially the one in consulates and embassies that are staffed by political - and hence incompetent - appointees who try from overseas to enforce the homegrown Ottoman vintage processing of personal statute matters (births, deaths, marriages, divorces....and now, behold the new dawn rising over the cesspool, registering to vote!)

After you deal with Lebanese consulates and embassies, you will get a flavor of life in your country of origin, which is a Darwinian jungle of corruption and kill-or-get-killed human relations. You will of course miss the smells of Lebanese ministries and administrations (an offensive mix of cigarette smoke, body odor, and fermented piss), and you will also miss the exhilarating experience of maniacal driving, bad non-maintained roads, a complete lack of road signs, sidewalks, etc....

Gebran Bassil is beseeching you, supplicating you, begging you to register to vote. You see, he was never able to get elected by the resident Lebanese, neither to parliament, nor to his own party. The only reason he is the president of the Free Patriotic Movement party is because he is married to Michel Aoun's daughter. Same reason behind his appointment as a Foreign Minister. For some reason, he is disliked by, and turns off, the Lebanese, right and left, even members of his own party... so he has no chance of getting elected, if these elections do take place (which is dubious right now), and that is why he believes he can fool the expatriate Lebanese whose distance in time and space from their country of origin makes them vulnerable to his campaigns of seduction (this is the country of your ancestors, your jeddo and teta, the village, and other supposedly bright things in Lebanon like mountains, pine trees, a few cedar trees, and whatever is left unpolluted uncontaminated...) and ignore the sad reality in which the resident Lebanese have been wallowing for decades.

Bassil is now at best a caretaker Foreign Minister in a caretaker government. All the hype of the past few months has now collapsed to the default state of things in Lebanon: A dysfunctional monstrosity created by the French 95 years ago, which has remained ungovernable for all these years, whose problems today are exactly what they were 100 years ago.

Coexistence? Tolerance? How can these slogans be true in a country that has seen endless civil wars between religious sects? Any semblance of peace is a temporary lull between two massacres, two ethnic cleansings, two eruptions of violence...which are never followed by retrospection or reconciliation to try and learn not to do it again. On the contrary, these eruptions of violence are always followed by a general amnesty in which the criminals, murderers, and assorted brutes are forgiven.... The same violence that makes one stand on a balcony these days on a sunday morning and hear a constant barrage of shotguns from primitive numskulls shooting at any bird in sight. Not that they need the killed birds to eat. No. Killing birds is a hobby. No wonder you'll never hear a bird sing. Even large migratory birds are shot in the thousands as they travel up and down the Lebanese coast in spring and fall.... Violence is in the Lebanese genes. If they can't kill each other, the Lebanese will kill birds. But they must kill.

خلّي الرئيس القوي يفرجينا قوتو وشطارتو...

خرِب العهد والرئيس المسيحي "القوي" صار بدون تياب.ء

تركو شريكو السني "القوي" متلو... وبقي لوحدو مع حسن نصرالله الشيعي الأقوى من الكل .

خلّي الرئيس عون يفرجينا شو معناة "الرئيس القوي" للي طحلنا فيا على مدة عشر سنوات، لأنو الظروف الحرجة للي صار فيا البلد بعد طلاق سعد حطّت تعريف "قوي" على بساط التجربة الحقيقية .

خلّي عون يترجم السلطات للي أعطاه ياها اتفاق الطايف للرئيس المسيحي على أرض الواقع ئ
عون خرَّب البلد وهرب على باريس بالـ 1990 لأنو رفض اتفاق الطايف والاحتلال السوري. وهيدا عون اليوم رئيس الطايف وممثل نظام الأسد وحليفو وحليف عميلو حزب ألله بالمحافل الدولية

ما بقي حداً اليوم إلا ما اقتنع أخيراً أنو عون كان بدو الرئاسة وبس، وكل الحكي عن اصلاح وتغيير وتوحيد البلد كان حكي بلا مضمون تبخّر من دون رجعة.

عون الـ"دون كيشوت" بدو يحارب طواحين أمريكا والخطر السنّي بتحالفو مع الشيعة، وحاول يقنعنا أنو الشيعة "أحسن" من السنيّة، وإنو الثورة الإسلامية المتعصبة بإيران "أفضل" من الوهابية السنّية المتعصبة بالسعودية. وما صدّقو إلا مهابيل الشارع المسيحي المتواضعين عقلياً والمعتّرين اقتصادياً. بمعنى آخر، شعبية عون شعبوية بامتياز، متل شعبية دونالد ترتمب الشعبوية بأمريكا.

الوضوح السياسي للي كنّا منتظرينو من عون هو إنو لا السعودية ولا إيران بريدو مصلحة لبنان، وإنو انحيازو مع الشيعة ضد السنّية هو أكبر غلطة جرّو عليها جبران باسيل. إيام المنفى كان عون يردد لأتباعو مّا يسألو شو برنامجو السياسي بعد خروج السوريين وعودتو للبنان) إنو هو بدّو يبقى فوق التناحرات الصغيرة والاقطاعية والطائفية، وإنو بدو يكون متل مرشد ورجل دولة وما رح يوطّي حالو لمستوى البزار السياسي... وهيدا هو اليوم فتح مزرعتو الطائفية الخاصة، وصار سياسي متلو متل غيرو بالسوق السياسي، وما بقي من إدعاءات العلمانية إلا الطائفية المسيحية لأنو عون والجرو الصغير تبعو بيدّعو الدفاع عن مسيحية بلينان،بس ما لاقو إلا المتطرف والمتعصب الاسلامي حزب الله تيدافع عن مسيحية لبنان .

شو هال البهدلة وملاّ مسخرة.  


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Hariri's Decisive Move: Isolate Aoun and Hezbollah

Saudi Arabia and Iran are, in my opinion, on an equal political distance from Lebanon. They both are foreign countries that interfere via their "pet" sectarian groups in the country's affairs. Lebanon's Sunnis are Saudi Arabia's pets, and the Shiites are Iran's pets. In a matter of principle, therefore, I abhor both for their pulling and pushing on the Lebanese scene. But the bigger traitors to their country are the Lebanese politicians themselves who lend themselves to serve as puppets for outsider foreign countries.

Yet, there is a difference in the performance on the ground between the Saudi camp and the Iranian camp. For one, Saudi Arabia does not have, as Iran does, an extant army operating on Lebanese soil independently from the Lebanese government and its national army. There is no Lebanese Sunni militia fighting in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere. For better or for worse, and as far as we can tell, the Sunnis have abandoned their political platforms of annexing Lebanon to Syria (from the 1930s to the 1960s), have ceased utilizing the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as their militia as they did back in the 1970s and 1980s to destabilize the Lebanese government and gain some additional powers. They no longer serve as puppets for Syria and its Assad dictatorship. Lebanon's Sunnis advocate a "Lebanon First" policy that focuses on strengthening the State and its institutions. Finally, Saad Hariri himself has in his recent past, and perhaps in the aftermath of Hezbollah's assassination of his father Rafik in 2005, executed a policy of appeasement and cooperation with, and extending goodwill to, the other side, namely Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah and its Christian Marionette (pun intended) Michel Aoun the current president who came to the highest office thanks to Hezbollah's obstruction and threats.

Whether dictated by an ultimatum from Saudi Arabia to Hariri whose financial wherewithal and power has been eroding of late, or whether he has himself chosen this path, his resignation from the Prime Ministership  is a decisive move that few Lebanese politicians have the courage to make. By resigning, he no longer provides a fig leaf for Hezbollah, as Michel Aoun does. It is a hallmark of Lebanese politics that its leaders rarely take actions with risks and often live with anomalies that tend to further complicate and exacerbate problems. We need men like Hariri to "break the jar" and step down from the fence.

So what now? Lebanon is as of today living under the naked Iranian grip. No Sunni in Lebanon will agree to form a new government, and the entire country is flagrantly an Iranian outpost on the Mediterranean. From the United States, Israel and the West in general, threats against Hezbollah and Iran are mounting, with sanctions enacted recently by the US against Hezbollah financial operations and anyone or any bank that does business with the terror group. The US sees Hezbollah as its prime enemy on an equal footing with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, and does not forget what Hezbollah did in the 1980s (blowing the US embassy twice, killing 243 US Servicemen and Marines in Beirut in 1983, kidnapping dozens of US and Western hostages, etc...). Israel still reels from its inability to defeat Hezbollah in 2006. The Assad regime in Syria, which serves as Hezbollah's lifeline between Tehran and Beirut, is itself now very vulnerable to Western attacks with the elimination of the immediate threat posed by Islamic State.

Lebanon is ripe for war. All the elements are in place. It is an easier arena to break Iran's expansionism  than, say, Iran itself or Yemen or even Syria. Lebanon's chameleonic nature, consisting of a variety of groups with very different political and cultural outlooks, ideologies and religions, is a fertile ground for anyone who wants to intervene. It has always served as this multi-channel for regional and international actors. It may be that the US, Israel and the EU have finally decided to counter the Russian penetration on the side of the Assad regime in Syria by transforming Lebanon into their own conduit into the Near East. It is easy to imagine why Israel may be the arm used by the West to try and defeat Iran by severing its Lebanese arm, Hezbollah. Or why the US might use Lebanon to counter Russian influence in Syria.

We have always wondered why the US used to refuse to arm the Lebanese army (supposedly out of fear that the Lebanese army might turn its weapons against Israel). Now that the US has been providing (for a decade now) the Lebanese army with all kinds of weapons, small attack planes, tanks, mortars, etc... we understand that the goal was not to defeat Islamic State which had a couple of outposts in the highlands separating Syria and Lebanon. The objective of the US in arming the Lebanese army is to prepare it for the ultimate fight, which is with Hezbollah. Notice that the weapons that the US has been delivering to the Lebanese army are not powerful enough to threaten Israel, but powerful enough to give the Lebanese army an edge over a militia like Hezbollah whose missiles in the south would be useless against the Lebanese army. War is coming to Lebanon. The determination of the Trump administration to break Iran's back might start in Lebanon by pitting the Lebanese army against Hezbollah. The success of Hezbollah in buttressing the Assad regime in Syria must be countered by defeating Hezbollah in Lebanon.

From the Israeli perspective, Hezbollah's presence in the Lebanese south is intolerable, especially that it was able to withstand Israel's attacks in 2006. I fear for the Lebanese south. Israel might decide this time, and after decades of invasions, occupations and withdrawals to invade one last time and occupy and annex the Lebanese territories south of the Litani river, thus pushing the Shiite populations that serve as Hezbollah's incubator out of the area, and eliminating the threat it poses to its northern settlements. The US administration would be very favorable to such a scenario.

The Trump policy in the Middle East is to solve the Palestinian problem as follows: Ally itself openly with the Sunni Arabs and declare Shiite Iran as enemy number one. In exchange, the Sunni Arabs would pressure the Palestinians into accepting a peace deal with Israel. After Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this year, Saudi Arabia has embarked on a series of actions that are consistent with this policy. Yemen, Qatar, and now Lebanon.. All real or perceived Iranian gains must be countered. Of all possible theaters, Lebanon is the easiest in which to prosecute such a policy. Even a symbolic defeat of Hezbollah in Lebanon would be a sufficient blow to Iran.

Hariri's resignation has now isolated Michel Aoun and his poodling to Hezbollah. Time has come to come down from the fence and take a stance. Tactical gamesmanship is over. Arguments that Aoun and his Christians propound no longer hold water: No, the Shiites and Iran and not necessarily better that the Sunnis and Saudi Arabia. No, the Christians are not protected by Hezbollah against Sunni attacks. Cavorting to the Shiites as a tactical maneuver to counter Hariri and the Sunnis works only so far. Yes, they did bring Aoun to power, but was that the objective after close to 20 years of struggle? One would hope that Aoun has other more sublime and haughty objectives than sitting in the presidential chair in Baabda. Now, we will soon find out if he indeed has been fighting for Lebanon's better future, or if he has fought all those years, betraying in his own principles in the process only to become president of an otherwise dysfunctional and tormented country.

Friday, November 3, 2017

كف يا وزير باسيل عن تشجيع المغتربين على التسجيل....

...لأن اللبنانيين القائمين في لبنان يهاجرون بأعداد متزايدة

الحلّ لا يكون بأن يُطرد اللبنانيون من قبل حكومات بلدهم المتتالية بسبب الفساد وإدارات تعمل حسب العفن العثماني والبهدلة والقمامة في الطرقات الغير معبدة وقلة الكهرباء والماء و و و و و ....ثم أن تدعوهم يا وزير غير مُنتخب إلى التسجيل في قنصليات وسفارات بلاد تهجيرهم واغترابهم، حيث تزداد فيها البهدلة وتلاحقهم الإدارات الغير كفوءة والفاسدة

إنك يا حضرة الوزير الذي يفرضه عّمه الرئيس علينا كلنا، تضع العربة قبل الحصان

أصلح يا وزير أصلح الإدارات

عبّد يا وزير عبّد الطرقات

طهّر يا وزير طهّر الإدارات

إحمِ يا وزير إحمِ البيئة

أوقف يا وزير المافيات - مافيات المقالع الوقحة التي تنهش بجبالنا، ومافيات الموتورات الوسخة التي تلوث هواءنا وتسرقنا، ومافيات المياه التي تقطع المياه وتأتي بصهاريجها لتملأ خزانتنا وتسرقنا 

افضح يا وزير من هم الفاسدون - إن كنت لست واحد منهم - واعلن عن أسمائهم جهراً لأنك تنام معهم في الحكومة الواحدة

إبنِ يا وزير محطات كهرباء ودع الماء تصل إلى المنازل

أعطِ يا وزير الصلاحيات لقوى الأمن لتطبيق القانون في كل جوانبه ولا تسمح للمحسوبيات من أن تنال كل مرة من وهبة القانون

أطلب يا وزير من أصدقائك في حزب ألله أن يكفوا عن طعن الدولة وتحقيرها

أوقف يا وزير كل من تطال يداه الوسخة الأملاك البحرية وتمنع عامة الناس (أرفض لقب "الفقراء" للذين يريدون الوصول إلى الشواطئ) من الاستمتاع بشواطئ نظيفة من دون دفع البخشيش ورسوم دخول و"فالي باركينغ" إلى سارقي الأملاك العامة)

إبدأ يا وزير بتقليص أعداد موظفي القطاع العام المتخمين والمنتفخين والمحسوبين على أصدقائك وزملائك والذين يحشدون الإدارات ويقبضون معاشات من دون القيام بأي عمل ويشكلون السبب الأول في عجز الدولة...

عليك أن تناضل من أجل كل ذلك يا وزير قبل دعوة اللبنانيين الذين يهربون من كل ذلك على التسجيل من حيث هربوا...

أعطِ يا وزير احساساً للبنانيين بأن بلدهم يكرّمهم ويحترمهم... المغترب تعوّد على الاحترام، لماذا يتعامل مع بلدٍ لا يحترمه؟؟ وهو البلد الذي هرب منه؟

فبمجرّد أنك تبدأ بمعالجة كل الآفات التي تنهش بحياتنا اليومية، فسوف لن يسجّل المهاجرون والمغتربون فحسب، بل سيعودوا إلى لبنان من دون أن تطلب منهم ذلك.

كفّ يا وزير باسيل عن تحميل اللاجئ السوري، الهارب إلى لبنان بسبب حليفك بشار الأسد، مسؤولية كل مشاكل لبنان. المشاكل التي يشكو منها لبنان موجودة منذ عقود، منذ أزمانٍ تسبق مجيء اللجئين السوريين. استغلالك لوجود اللاجئ السوري هو ذر الرماد في عيون اللبنانيين ... المشكلة هي مشكلة لبنان وليس غير.

أنت ورئيسك الذي يحميك ويعوّمك بالرغم من فشلك بكل الانتخابات (نيابية وحزبية) أصبحتم من الطبقة الحاكمة بعد أن أمضيتم سنين تحاربون الإقطاع السياسي... فها أنتم اليوم وقد أسستم مزرعة جديدة إنضمت إلى المزارع السياسية التي تمعن بهذا البلد.

فكفّ، بربّك، عن دعوة المغتربين إلى التسجيل في سفارات وقنصليات البهدلة، وأصلح البلد أولاً. حينها ترى المغتربين يتفاعلون مع لبنان من منطلق إرادتهم الحرة وبعقلانية وليس بالعواطف المهترئة والوطنية الزائفة المبنية على عقدة النفس ( ولوّ، ما هيدا بلد أجدادكم!). 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Question 2 to Michel Aoun

Dear Mr. Aoun,

If, as you and you protégé Gebran Bassil say, Hezbollah is a legitimate resistance and the Lebanese Army is incapable of defending the country without Hezbollah's help, then why is the "Resistance" an exclusively Shiite movement?

Why, of all the Lebanese who believe the lie that Hezbollah is a "Resistance", aren't the Maronites of Michel Aoun and Gebran Bassil's so-called "Free Patriotic Movement" also members of the armed resistance?

Why is the liberation of Shebaa only the responsibility of Lebanon's Shiites? If Lebanon is indeed the united and integrated country Michel Aoun claims it to be, shouldn't Maronites, Sunnis, Druze and others be fighting, installing rockets aimed at Israel, and actually joining the ranks of Hezbollah itself?

How come only the Lebanese Shiites are dying in Syria, in the Golan, in Lebanon and elsewhere to protect (as Michel Aoun and Gebran Bassil want you to believe) the Christians?

Shouldn't Lebanon's Christians themselves be defending themselves against the Takfiris, Jihadists, Deash etc.? How come the Christians have delegated that job to Hassan Nasrallah's Shiites? Where is the unity you all claim?

If the Shebaa Farms and Ghajar are Lebanese, shouldn't the entire Lebanese population and the Lebanese Army be fighting against Israel?

If you say that Shebaa and the South are "Shiite" territory, and therefore it makes sense that the Shiites be defending "their" land, then you do not believe in a Lebanese national identity. You accept that there is no Lebanese territory worthy to be defended by ALL Lebanese, and that there are only Shiite, Christian, Sunni, and Druze territories within these borders, and that the Christians should be defending their regions, the Sunnis their regions, etc.

Monday, October 23, 2017

LIFE AFTER DEATH - 34 years ago today

The piece below was written by Dr. Joseph Hitti back on October 23, 2003 on the 20th anniversary of the truck suicide bombing that killed 243 US servicemen and marines in Beirut. I re-post it only in the hope that the US, France (which lost 58 paratroopers in a simultaneous attack on the French barracks "Le Drakkar") and the Lebanese allies of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah - principally President Michel Aoun and his followers read it. Aoun and his entourage have forsaken their own principles, betrayed their own country, and allied themselves with the Islamic theocracy in Iran to achieve power, which they did, but at what price? Aoun, Bassil and their coteries of arrivistes today live with either the illusion, or the lie, that to counter one threat (Saudi Arabia and the Jihadist movement across the globe), one needs to sleep with another threat (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah et al.). Ultimately, it now has been 34 years since Syria, Iran and Hezbollah pushed the West out of Lebanon in the early 1980s by bombing, killing, kidnapping, hijacking..... Regardless of all the cosmetics that adorn the country of Lebanon today, it still reels under a Syrian-Iranian occupation through their proxy militia of Hezbollah. No one should be proud of where Lebanon stands today. To President Aoun: Half-measures (e.g. today is much better than 20 years ago, or we have been in power only one year, it takes time to "reform") are not achievements. They are justifications made by puppets to lie to their people and satisfy their puppeteers. Today's pronouncements by the pro-Hezbollah camp of Michel Aoun are echoes of what Rafik Hariri used to say in the 1990s to justify his failed attempts at rebuilding the country under Syrian and Hezbollah occupation. President Aoun is repeating the same mistake.  He thinks he can rebuild a country devastated by corruption and a failing economy under the immanent Hezbollah threat. How pathetic.


By Joseph Hitti

It has been 20 years this October 23d since the suicide truck bombing of the US Marines barracks in Beirut. There is nothing sacred about the number 20 but we humans like round numbers, and so this 20th anniversary of Islamic bombing of the US Marines Barracks in Beirut on a Sunday morning in 1983 is more special than, say, last year's 19th anniversary. Not that the event is less important than the anniversary. I actually remember it every year, because it left a deep scar in me.

But beyond the anniversaries, this year the memory has indeed a very special place because it has mutated from one of complete, hopeless, bottomless sorrow and sadness to one in which the sorrow, for the first time in 20 years, has in the words of Khalil Gibran showed us its other face, its alter ego, hope! As Khalil Gibran said "The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain." And as the West slowly but surely makes a U-turn, comes to terms with its often-stated but rarely practiced convictions, and begins to seriously fight terrorism, Lebanon and the people of Lebanon cannot help but feel gleeful. Yes, we told you so.

For 30 years they were alone, with bombs in their streets and shrapnel in the bodies of their children, with massacres and destruction, shelling, kidnapping, and sniping. They tried to tell the world that theirs was not a civil war, but the war of terror on gentility, the war of backwardness on civility, of anarchy on stability, of totalitarianism on democracy, of darkness on enlightenment. They tried to tell the world that their land and their history were, for better or for worse, the fault line where the seeds of coming wars were being sown that will come knocking at their doors in the not so distant future. But no one listened, even when the US Marines and the French paratroopers were blown to shreds, or when the US ambassador Francis Meloy and the French Ambassador Louis Delamare were gunned down in the streets of Beirut under the watchful eyes of the Syrian "peacekeepers", or when their own journalists, clergymen, teachers, and diplomats were being snatched off the streets of Beirut to be chained for years in dingy basements. The world insisted that this was a "civil war", even as every symbol of global East-meets-West decency that Lebanon harbored for decades was being shredded to pieces through the terror grinder of Syria, Iran, and their many proxies. Even as embassies were being shut down, Western civilians were being evacuated, schools were being closed, and peacekeeping armies were being blown up, it was the fault of the Lebanese people for being so close to Palestine, and for having borders with Israel and Syria. It was the fault of the Lebanese for being the proxy victims, the scapegoat, the accidental actors in a play not of their making. Lebanon was even accused of being an artificial nation, made of so many tribes - since when was diversity a shame, and pluralism a sin? - Because its history and geography did not allow a single group from "ethnically-cleansing" the others, or converting them to one religion. Lebanon was a Bosnia-Herzegovina a couple of decades too early for the sensibilities of the West to wake up from their comfortable slumber.

And so now the hens have come home to roost. Things have changed and the tables have been turned. For the first time in 20 years, the US Administration is calling the Syrians occupiers. For the first time in 20 years, the US is not running away from the suicide bombings and the acts of terror, but is pursuing them in every far corner of the world. For the first time in 20 years, there will be no retreat from Beirut or Baghdad, because the message is no longer "Bomb them and they will retreat". The message today is "No matter the body bags or the bombs, we will hound you till the end." For the first time in 20 years, State Department did not object to an anti-Syrian piece of legislation and the US Congress is voting a law to hold those behind the terrorists accountable for their acts. For the first time in 20 years the West has finally recognized that what happened in Beirut that Sunday morning had nothing to do with the liberation of Palestine or with what Israel was doing to the Palestinian people. Rather, that Sunday morning was a pure act of hatred, seated deep in the civilizational clash that makes certain people afraid of the modern world. That truck bomb was a pure act of terror, distilled of all the excuses and pretexts that are uttered these days to justify and promote another retreat in front of the terrorist threat. That Sunday morning bombing was a direct precursor for that Tuesday Sept 11 bombing.

For we need to remember why the Marines came in the first place to Beirut that year, accompanied by their Allies, the French, the Italians and the British as the Multi-National Force (MNF). We need to remind Jacques Chirac of France that 56 of his own paratroopers were also blown up at exactly the same time as 241 US Marines were being killed in their sleep, about half a mile away. The MNF was not a force of occupation. The MNF was not there looking for weapons of Mass Destruction. The MNF was not fighting any war. In fact, the soldiers of the MNF were forbidden from loading their guns. The MNF was there to supervise the evacuation of Yasser Arafat's PLO from Beirut, after he had declared that the road to Palestine goes - with much looting, raping, pillaging, killing, mass-murdering - through Beirut. And when the time came to face up to reality, no Arab brother was there to help him out, not even the Syrians. Not even the Saudis. And not even the Iranians. And that is why the Americans and the Europeans had come to Beirut. To save the hide of an Arab. To save a city from the Israeli siege that no Arab "brother", especially Syria, dared to oppose.

And so Lebanon is today the winner. Lebanon was right and everyone else was wrong. The Lebanese people now can, but may choose to have the decency not to, engage in academic debates and make moral judgements about the appropriateness of invading Iraq as a component of the war against terrorism. Or the effectiveness of targeted assassinations as a means to fight Yasser Arafat. Or whether a country such as Israel that cannot control its Palestinians is, like Lebanon of the 1970s and 1980s, an artificial or uncivilized country with many tribes that just can't "sit down and agree" on how to deal with a mortal threat in its midst. Or whether the US government's restrictions on the civil liberties of its citizens is the moral equivalent of General Aoun's government trying to enforce the law by shutting down the illegal harbors of the warlords along the Lebanese coast. Or whether Syria's behavior in opening its borders to Jihadists flocking into Iraq to fight the imperialist American crusaders is really exactly the same as Syria's opening its borders in the early 1970s to Al-Saika, the Yarmuk Brigades, or the Palestine Liberation Army to enter into Lebanon and destabilize the isolationist Lebanese government and kill the indigenous crusaders of Lebanon.

It took 30 years and September 11 for the West to comprehend what Lebanon had gone through, place its tragedy in the right context and stop the condescending sermonizing. Baghdad, you owe Beirut a big thank you because the US has learned a lot from its retreat that year. The Lebanese people were alone that year, and so were the Marines when their government withdrew in the face of their killers. Today, they are no longer alone. Their pain is everyone's pain, and the end of the tunnel, even if it remains distant, is now bigger and more crowded. But most of all we owe the Marines who died in their sleep on that Sunday morning in Beirut a huge debt. The debt of having being the accidental victims, and like Lebanon, they were the canaries in the mine. But no one was listening then. Today the whole world is listening.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Chartouni's Death Sentence: Justice for Lebanon, not for Gemayel

To the Lebanese Nazi Party - a.k.a. Syrian Social(ist) National Party or SSNP, or in Lebanese "Qaoumiyeh Souriyeh - please accept my heartfelt middle finger for the sentencing to death of your beloved criminals Chartouni and Alam. May they be executed fast and buried 6 feet under.

Now I say this because I abhor your stupid ideology, a clone of the German Nazi party (read my re-posted article below), and not because I think Bashir Gemayel was such a great guy. In many ways he was a warlord and a thug, and he ran a militia just like yours that plundered and killed and robbed and raped, all on the pretense of defending the country in the absence of the State. One can prosecute a war and remain ethical and decent, and neither you nor Gemayel displayed any decency during the war. Now that the war is over, the Gemayel clan is no longer a militia, but you assholes remain a Nazi-style militia with an ideology from the early 1900s and you advocate the destruction of Lebanon and its melding into a fantasy called Greater Syria - just look at how Smaller Syria today is disintegrating into many religions and ethnic groups. So you numskulls still believing that the Greater Syria fantasy has any currency is beyond idiocy.

I didn't like Bashir Gemayel. His people elevate him to the standing of a hero and a saint, but he made his way by killing and warring against others. The only reason I am giving you the finger is because Chartouni killed the President of my country. Just as you killed Riyad al-Sulh, ex-Prime Minister of Lebanon, in Amman in 1961. Seems the only political tool that Nazis like you have is assassination and murder.

I re-post this article for those who don;t know who the SSNP party really is.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Dying Nazis of the Near East

It must be getting harder for the followers of the Near East Nazi Party, a.k.a. the Syrian Social(ist) National Party (SSNP) these days because the entire construct of their Fascist ideology rests upon the country of Syria as its nucleus, and on the racial and cultural superiority of Syrians (i.e. the northern Semites) over the Arabs (i.e. southern Semites).

Lest people forget, this Nazi Party was founded at exactly the same time - 1932 -  that the Nazi Party (Nazi = Nationalsozialist in German) was emerging in Germany. So, one plagiarist intellectual named Antun Saade fell in love with Fascism and Nazism, and decided to clone the German Nazis in the Lebanon of the 1930s. Here are the parallels:

1- Racial superiority of northern Europeans over southern Europeans ---> Racial superiority of northern Semites over southern Semites
2- Continuity of a German culture across vast swaths of central Europe ---> Continuity of a Syrian culture across vast swaths of the Near East
3- Nazi flag and swastika with red and black tones----> SSNP flag and swastika with red and black tones
4- Brainwashed SSNP members salute their leaders with the Hitlerian salute.
5- Saadeh is worshipped as a "leader for life", just as Nazis worshipped Hitler. Saadeh himself was an admirer of Adolph Hitler.
6- The anthem of the SSNP is sung to the tune of Deutschland Uber Alles.
7- Just as the Nazis glorified an ancient pre-Christian Aryan past and "One" German Aryan nation that needed to be re-united, the SSNP glorifies an ancient pre-Christian Syrian past and "One" Syrian nation that must be re-united.

Now that the fake country of Syria is unraveling into the multitudes of ethnicities, languages, peoples, religions and races from which it was cobbled together, it must be increasingly difficult to sustain Antun Saade's fantasy racist idea of a united glorious Syria spanning from Iraq into Cyprus (Yes, Cyprus. The asshole Saade wants Greek and Turkish Cyprus to be Syrian!). There is no nation of Syria. There was a state called Syria and it has now evaporated to no return. The French Mandate colonials fashioned this Doctor Moreau monster to satisfy their Arab nationalist lackey, the self-proclaimed King Faysal, as a way to counter British influence. Never mind that the Kurds never got their state, even though they were the most deserving of one, and that many of the communities that make up the Near East have nothing to do with Arab or Syrian nationalism. 

But just like the Baath party, the SSNP thinks it can impose a monolithic identity on people, from the top down, by force. You are Arab because I (Michel Aflaq of Baath infamy) say so, and you are Syrian because I (Antun Saade of SSNP infamy) say so. You have no other identity, and if you dare say that you are anything other than Syrian, then you are a traitor and you deserve death. If you do not know that you are Syrian, then we will make sure to indoctrinate you into knowing that fact. Luckily for us, the SSNP has never even touched the fringes of political power because it is such a fucked up idea to begin with. Unfortunately for us, however, the Baath Party managed to wreck Iraq and Syria into the cesspools they are today.

History always has a way to rectify things, and this is happening before our eyes. Forget Arab and Syrian nationalisms, and the Baath and the SSNP. They are as dead as when they were when born less than 100 years ago out of the imaginations of idiots like Aflaq and Saade. What these racist Fascists do not understand is that genuine identities emerge voluntarily from the bottom up, from the local to the larger, from self-government to aggregated federated governments. That is how civilized nations with built-in diversity did it. Not like Hitler who forced the Austrians, the Scandinavians and others to declare themselves "German" by force of brutality and occupation.

The heartbreak of Syria has many silver linings, one of them is the evidence of the death of racial nationalisms in the politically primitive Near and Middle Easts. One more to go - Islamic nationalism - and perhaps the area will finally begin its journey to civilization and decency.