Nothing but the truth. Even if against me.

Nothing but the truth. Even if against me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Why Nabih Berri has the Heebie-jeebies

Nabih Berri is terrified at the prospect of a Aoun presidency. Think about it. Aoun was Berri's enemy since the mid-1980s when Aoun was Army Chief and Berri's Amal militia fought the Lebanese army alongside the Palestinians. Berri was Syria's top collaborator for decades and to this day still receives his marching orders from Damascus and Tehran.

But wait a minute. Isn't Aoun in that same camp today? Isn't Aoun in thepro-Syrian, pro-Iranian March 8 coalition? He is; so why is Berri and Hezbollah suddenly against Aoun, while Aoun's former enemies (Geagea and Hariri) have become his allies?

Two reasons:

1- A superficial reason: Berri and all the pro-Syrian lackeys really worry more about Hariri becoming Prime Minister under a Aoun presidency than about Aoun becoming president. Aoun is reportedly offering Hariri the Prime Ministership in exchange for Hariri's support for a Aoun presidency.

2- A deeper reason: Prior to 2004, Aoun was Berri's number 1 enemy. Ever since the mid-1980s, when Aoun became Army Chief, then Interim Prime Minister, Aoun represented a political line that stood against Syrian hegemony and for divorcing Lebanon from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Berri and his acolytes (Hezbollah, Jumblatt, Yasser Arafat, Hariri, and every jackass Muslim-Arab leftwinger) operated under the Syrian regime's command and occupation, and were the primary destroyers of a State of Lebanon free from Syrian diktat. Right around 2005, after Sept. 11, 2001, after he spearheaded in 2003 the Syria Accountability Act in the US Congress with the support of all the American Zionists, the Hariri assassination in 2005 and the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanese territory, Aoun effected a reversal of his standing policies with the view of returning to Lebanon: Hezbollah became a resistance when it was a terror orrganization; Syria became a friendly country when it was an occupier and a supporter of terrorism; Palestinians became good and Israelis bad when in the past the reverse was true, etc...

Despite this reversal, Aoun was always believed to have retained his earlier convictions, albeit hidden, and that his 10-year long pro-Syrian reversal was merely a tactic to re-enter Lebanese politics and seek his ultimate revenge for having been ousted like a dog from the presidential palace in 1990. Aoun used Hezbollah to stand up to Hariri who dominated Lebanon between 1990 and 2005. Now that the Syrian regime is in its waning days, and with his biological race against death, Aoun is now exposing his earlier self, rejecting his present allies to return to his former political platform.

As he has rallied Geagea and Hariri to his side, he is inevitably alienating the allies he used for the past 10 years, namely the Shiites of Berri and Hezbollah, and they are terrified of the prospect of Aoun in the presidency. Aoun is no "consensus-minded" idiot. He may be senile, volatile, unpredictable, but he is not a puppet to be manipulated, and that is why Berri is like a cat on hot bricks, shitting in his pants of having to deal with a strong Christian president, when for the past two decades he ruled, from his House Speaker's seat, like an emperor, dictating everything to the emasculated Christian presidents and weak Sunni prime ministers. With Aoun in Baabda, Berri's own career may be coming to an end.

If Aoun becomes president, there will be a split within the Shiite community between the traditional State loyalists and the militant mercenary anti-State Amal (Berri) and Hezbollah (Nasrallah). There will be a war between those Shiites who want to reintegrate the Lebanese body politic and play the role assigned to them by the existing constitution and political customs, and those Shiites who may want to continue using their weapons and bullying tactics to remain in power and try to change the constitution from its current 50:50 between the Christian and Muslim constituents to a 33:33:33 division (a third to Christians, a third to Sunnis, and a third to Shiites). If the Shiites push for the latter, they will essentially drive the Christians to secede, either in the form of a return to the Smaller Lebanon of pre-1921 or to a confederation format in which the Christians will rule themselves while loosely associated with a federal Lebanon.

The Shiites have been reluctant to engage the country down these existential decisions because they had been waiting to see if their grand master in Damascus, the Assad regime, will survive. But Aoun is pushing forward, not wanting to wait any longer, and in so doing, he is pushing the Shiites to make an early decision, regardless of the fate of the Assad regime. The fall of the latter would mean a cutoff of the Shiites of Lebanon from Iran as well, because Assad insured a bridge with Iran and a deeper hinterland for the Shiites. With Aoun driving the locomotive away from the station in which Lebanon has been frozen for nearly 30 years, he is tolling the death knell of Hezbollah's and Berri's mercenary militantism.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Emperor Aoun has no clothes. Another reversal in the works

After bullshitting credulous Lebanese Christians about how great Lebanon's Shiites are, about Hezbollah being a trusted ally, about how much more dangerous the Sunnis are, about how much better the Shiite fundamentalists are than Sunni fundamentalists, etc.... This long list of idiotic arguments with which Michel Aoun dragged his Christian followers into an alliance with Hassan Nasrallah 10 years ago - notwithstanding his complete reversal on every one of these points (See my post entitled: Aoun between 2002 and 2016: A master of perfidy), here we are today and the Emperor has no clothes.

The only serious obstacle remaining that prevents Aoun from becoming President of the Lemon Republic is his own ally, Hezbollah, which had for years said that Aoun is its only candidate for the presidency, and that Geagea and Hariri are preventing the election of this "strong" (although senile and old) candidate.

Today Geagea has declared his support for Aoun's candidacy, and Hariri is just about to follow suit. Hezbollah and its Berri appendage are back-pedaling and putting sticks in all the wheels to prevent Aoun from becoming President. Why? They say that they don't want the deal of Aoun as President + Hariri as Prime Minister. In other words, they want a "strong" Christian President, but not a "strong" Sunni Prime Minister. Go figure. Whatever arguments they are advancing, it is clear that the Shiites of Lebanon don't want a functioning State with strong people in the Executive. Why? Because a dysfunctional State, such as it is today, is a fertile ground for all their illegal and unlawful enterprises, namely maintaining an illegal militia, fighting Israel against the wishes of the Lebanese people, sending troops to fight in Syria alongside the barbaric regime of Assad, and every illegal smuggling, manufacturing, terrorizing, corrupting.... activity with which the Shiites have made their place in Lebanon's political chess game. On the other hand, a functioning normal State without corruption and filth would mean that Hassan Nasrallah would have to hang his turban for good.

A Sunni-Christian rapprochement is in the works. For Geagea and Hariri to endorse their former enemy Aoun for the Presidency, they must get something in return. Perhaps they are doing this not out of love for Aoun, but to pull the rug from under Hezbollah's feet. In any case, the price Aoun must pay is his turning his coat one more time, i.e. to turn back on his first reversal of 2005 and return to his former self and his erstwhile political platform: Divorce Lebanon from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and deny Syria and its Shiite appendages their platform of keeping Lebanon as a war front against Israel on behalf of Iran.

In fact, he has already begun: Aoun's supposedly "secular" ideology is long gone; he is today defending Christian rights. Aoun's anti-American posturing has receded significantly. He talks sweet, like a statesman, not like a puny politician; he leaves the dirty work for his "mini-me" Gibran Bassil. Pretty soon, as I have predicted long ago, Aoun - especially if he makes it as President  - will become hostile to Hezbollah and its hijacking of the country.

In other words, the realignments that took place after September 11 are being redrawn, yet again. Whatever the outcome, however, it is not looking pretty for Lebanon. Hezbollah is a cancer that has been metastasizing for decades. Its fighters are hardened by years of fighting in Syria. The Lebanese Shiite community's gains were all made under occupation and by unlawful violent means. Regardless of how things turn out in Syria, Lebanon's Shiites will never surrender their arms or power, nor are they interested in returning to the status quo ante. What price will they demand to reintegrate Lebanon as a political community and not as a violent armed militia remains to be seen, but whatever it is, it is bound to be violent.

For Aoun, his chameleonic tactics may work, but he is an old man, and one wonders if Geagea and Hariri didn't wait that long before endorsing him with the express hope that his tangential meeting with death old age might preempt their endorsement of him. But he is stubbornly hanging in there.

I always suspected that the paramount driver of Aoun's politicking was his desire to avenge his 1990 ouster from Baabda. These things are always personal. People often wonder why George W Bush went into Iraq, when Iraq had nothing to do with Sept. 11; it could very well be that he went into Iraq to give his father the gift of ousting Saddam Hussein from power because Bush senior could not do it back in 1991 after the first Gulf War. It is always personal. Aoun, for all I know, might enter Baabda, sit on the presidential chair, give the middle finger to Hariri, Geagea, Hassan Nasrallah, Walid Jumblatt, and just die. He may not give a damn about anything else.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Hariri dumpster: Judas's decaying glory

The Hariri debacle is a textbook example of vacuous Lebanese leadership built not on merit, not on vision, not on principles, not on political savvy....but on money around which the vultures hover as long as there is money to be had. So when the money inevitably evaporates, so goes with it the political empire. Politics in Lebanon is an empty shell. If it ever has a substance, it is money and corruption, tribalism and religiosity and bigotry.

When the Hariri clan had Saudi money, its members became prime ministers and members of parliament, they bought everyone's allegiance, including Syrian dictators, Iranian terrorists, and US university brownnosers like Harvard University. Just give them money and they'll name a building after you in Cambridge, Massachusetts, even if you are a fat illiterate building contractor. Issam Fares, another billionaire illiterate clone of Hariri, albeit of the Greek-Orthodox cult, did the exact same thing with Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Fares even founded a research institute at Tufts that started out with the partial name of "Lebanese Studies", only to devolve quickly into an Israeli think-tank that deleted "Lebanese" from the name of the august research cesspool. Tufts didn't care if lemurs worked there; they got the money and they named the building, laughing all the way to the bank.

Men like Hariri and Fares make money the old fashioned way: Ass-kissing, cheating, backstabbing, dealing under the table, betraying everything that stands in the way of making money. They are clones of Donald Trump, who is in effect an American version of Rafik Hariri: Illiterate, building contractor, with ideas - if any were to occur in their brains - from the Bronze Age, and who make their way through life and on to power by all means possible, including vile and base practices.

Rafik Hariri, the now defunct fat bastard who rode the Saudi-Syrian-American treason against Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s to become Mr. Lebanon, was himself an illiterate building contractor who happened to build palaces to the Saudi royals instead of building ugly buildings that deform the Lebanese countryside. He is gone now of course, but he left behind him a number of children who divvied up his money and whom he chained, like himself, to the Saudi leash.

Hariri loved Assad of Syria. He loved Hezbollah and Hassan Nasrallah. They brought him to power and he was forever grateful. He even allowed Hezbollah to grow its arsenal inside Lebanon - all flown from Tehran to Damascus, then ferried by land across Lebanon's de-virginized borders to the south where Hezbollah is supposedly liberating Palestine. This was, of course, in violation of the Taif Agreement which brought Hariri to power in 1991. In every international venue, Hariri defended Hezbollah as a legitimate "resistance", even as Hezbollah violated every notion of sovereignty and conducted every possible illegal activity such as drug smuggling in Latin America, diamond trading in Africa, terrorist bombings in Lebanon and across the globe. Like an idiot Judas, Hariri thought that 30 silvers were the paramount criterion: He could buy and sell anyone and anything, and he thought he could rebuild Lebanon under the Syrian and Iranian occupation boots.

But like all Judases, their time always comes up to reckon. And, when the fat idiot realized he could not really rebuild Lebanon with the Syrians breathing down his spineless neck, he began twitching. When puppets start twitching, their puppeteers notice. So when Hariri twitched, the Syrian Assad regime took note and quickly instructed its Iranian appendage, Hezbollah, to blow Hariri's brain up. And so they did. They blew up the fat bastard in downtown Beirut as he was conniving with the Americans to screw the Syrians. The Americans began distancing themselves from Syria and Saudi Arabia in the wake of September 11.

Hariri is now gone. The Saudis are becoming poorer by the day and the Kingdom is on the verge of internal strife. Their oil is worthless, and the pipeline has dried up. Hariri's Saudi Oger, now run by his son Saad, is laying off people. His fortune - once close to $40 billion, essentially Lebanon's national debt since he pilfered downtown Beirut from its rightful owners - is now close to $600 million. His brother Bahaa' wants his share of Dad's piggy bank. His sister Bahia, the Hijab-wrapped up Member of Parliament, is laying off her bodyguards. Hariri's Solidere employees have not been paid in months. The Hariri empire is in bankruptcy. When money dries up, lovers split up. Hariri's former lovers have dumped him. The Syrians and the Iranians killed him (Rafik) and have now become the Hariri clan's foremost enemies. The Saudis have kicked Saad out of their inner circle, and he is running like a headless chicken, begging his former enemies people to become his allies against his former allies. Funny how winners become losers when the building blocks of their empire are made of paper money, not principles.

I love the fact that Syria is crumbling on the heads of its Baathist Arabist people. I love the fact that Saudi Arabia that funded Yasser Arafat's destruction of Lebanon is now itself on the verge of a civil war and disintegration. Libya's Qaddafi, Lebanon's number 1 enemy is dead and his country is in ruin. All the Arab Islamic enemies of Lebanon are in disarray. I wish this continues for a few decades and that every Arab Islamic cesspool become infected and decays into oblivion. Their catastrophe is my uplifting. Their war is my peace. Their suffering is my redemption out of the decades of suffering they inflicted to my small country that had harbored them, defended them, and tried to coexist with them. But they - like all primitive people - see weakness in kindness, and vulnerability in tolerance and openness.

May the Hariri empire collapse on top of Hezbollah. May Saad die in the arms of Hassan, and may a giant tsunami, like the one of 555 AD, rush from the Mediterranean to carry them all and their filthy slums into eternal oblivion. I am going to pour myself a glass of arack and enjoy the view from my mountaintop.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Consensual Democracy: A Failure in Flagrante Delicto

Whenever a critique of the so-called "consensual democracy" of the dysfunctional failed state of Lebanon is  raised, a volley of apologetic arguments is usually marshaled to drown it. Consensual democracy, an apparently unique Lebanese invention, is essentially an oxymoron that the blind Lebanese, in their utterly incompetent and ignorant understanding of genuine democracy, practice and defend as a fig leaf for the lemon republic that this country is. It is, they claim, the best one can get in a primitive, tribal, sectarian, and ultra-religious society such as ours, and we should all be grateful to God Almighty and to Lebanese "genius" for having found the most perfect political system that marries modern democracy with a primitive society.

Let me first define "consensual democracy", as I understand it. By definition, the "democratic" process involves, in one essential part of it called elections, a competition between candidates for representing their constituents in government, such that the candidate with the most votes represents the majority of his/her constituents. Candidates claiming to want to represent their people offer a vision, a program, a roadmap aiming at translating the will of the people into laws that regulate the administrative and political life of the country. The fact that a candidate earns a majority of votes in elections does not make that candidate necessarily the best or his/her ideas necessarily the most appropriate. As a group, the people of a district or a country may choose a bad or unsuitable candidate to represent them, because the outcome of an election is the average decision of large numbers of individual voters. In the US, for instance, the American people twice voted for George W. Bush, an absolute idiot who ruined the country, and the Republicans have just chosen an even more backward and incompetent man, Donald Trump, as their candidate for president. But elections provide for a scientific, numbers-based certainty, in the sense that we have a definite number of people who have chosen this or that candidate, and numbers are fixed, unalterable objective facts. Elections, ballots, votes, when done properly, are the only thing we know for sure in a democracy.

By definition too, "consensus" is a general agreement between persons over an issue, and that agreement is drawn not by a vote or election, but by discussion and negotiation. So when we say that there is consensus between a number of people, it means that a non-measured majority of these people agree on the issue. Also, consensus can only be between persons; it cannot be between groups or communities because a discussion or negotiation between these large numbers is not feasible. If you have to vote to choose representatives who then can participate in the consensus process, you are back to a democratic process in which consensus is not needed since people are directly voting. Again, as in a democratic vote, whether or not a consensus exists between a group of people does not necessarily make the outcome correct or right.  In fact, because the decision is left to the whims of a few individuals, it is even less likely to be a good decision as described below.

Therefore, there is a built-in contradiction in the term "consensual democracy". If there is a democracy, then people vote directly on the issue, or their duly elected representatives themselves vote on the issue. In consensual democracy, as practiced in Lebanon, people vote for representatives who then decide among themselves without voting the fate of a particular law or issue. For example, electing a president in Lebanon is not by direct popular vote. Rather, it is the parliament which elects the president. So the current stalemate in which no president has been elected for more than 2 years is essentially the direct proof of the failure of consensual democracy. A direct popular vote would quickly bring a president to office, but as things stand now, disputes between representatives who are unable to reach a consensus has brought the political life of the country to a halt. So here are some of the deleterious consequences of "consensual democracy":

Consequence 1: An agreement reached by "consensus" between people's representatives is in fact  disconnected from the will of the people. It renders elections an exercise in futility, since an agreement between the representatives - absent a vote - circumvents the will of the people who elected the representatives. As a result, this agreement more often than not represents the interests of the representatives, but not the interests of the people.

Consequence 2: This is fertile ground for corruption, backroom deals, handshakes, bribes, and other sordid means of agreement, because it is easy to bribe one individual and get him/her to join, or break rank with, the "consensus". This is a chronic problem with Lebanon's corrupt political establishment.

Consequence 3: In Lebanon, the fact that the representatives are elected on the basis of their sectarian identity makes these representatives at least equally loyal to established non-elected religious authorities as they may be to the voters who elected them. This further scuttles the democratic process because another, non-elected, stakeholder - the religious establishments - has a say in the consensus.

Consequence 4:  "Consensual democracy" explains why in Lebanon voters never hold their representatives accountable, because people never know how their elected representative voted on a given law or issue. Consensus is always made in shady undisclosed discussions, never by a vote based on conscience. Because of the lack of transparency, the representative justifies an unsatisfactory outcome by blaming the "other side" for the consensus decision. The consensus gives the elected representative a deniability of responsibility, and renders him immune to accountability.

Consensual Democracy has never worked. It can never work. Lebanon is a failed state because its political system is an oligarchical theocracy parading itself as a democracy. In this country, elected representatives are beholden to the religious establishments because they are elected as representatives of their religious community, and not of their individual constituents. And when you have a religious oligarchy with financial interests shared among its otherwise hostile and inimical members, the last thing they worry about is the will of the people. That is why in Lebanon when members of the political establishment agree among themselves (i.e. there is consensus), they rob their own people. When they disagree (i.e. there is no consensus), they fight among themselves leading, in best case scenarios, to stalemate (as is the case these days), and in worst case scenarios, to civil war, massacres and destruction.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lebanese expats: Gebran Bassil's Kafkaesque Bureaucracy will kill you before you reclaim your so-called identity

In The Trial, Franz Kafka describes a bizarre story of a man who is arrested and prosecuted by a vague, distant, and inaccessible authority, for a crime that is never revealed. An endless bureaucratic nightmare for which there is not even a single redeeming reason. That is how the corrupt, incompetent Lebanese bureaucracy is. One has to navigate it without knowing the rules, without knowing the endpoints, and even when there are milestones, they have no logical reason.The only logic one can draw is to invoke the conspiracy theory to the effect that all this endless travel through dark holes of unreason is to feed the valet bureaucrats appointed by the sectarian monsters that rule over our lives. All the appointees to public service offices where such bureaucracy takes place are clients of political bosses, and they cash a paycheck first to vote for the boss at the next elections, second to keep the wheel of incomprehension and vagueness turning in order to cement their jobs, and third as an additional source of income in the form of bribes and kickbacks they take in exchange for doing their so-called jobs, i.e. signing and stamping otherwise useless paperwork.

A case in point is my own recent experience of registering my divorce with the Lebanese authorities for the sole purpose of deleting the mention "متأهل" (married) from my Civil Status certificate (إخراج قيد). My divorce was issued by a US court in the 1990s, and it is a civil (not religious) legal process not involving the neanderthals of the Christian or Muslim clergy and institutions. In a civilized country, you submit an application, along with the divorce court ruling certificate, and the local registry just handles the process. In Lebanon, it is long winding endless maize of ill-conceived, poorly described, deliberately provided as fragmented requirements, involving the Lebanese Embassy or Consulate abroad, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Interior Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the local registry (قلم النفوس), all intricately linked by Kafkaesque gossamer which is described nowhere, and which one discovers abruptly at every stunning, maddening step of the way. Like God, Gebran Bassil and his hordes of Uncivil Servants, operate in mysterious ways, and more often than not, only miracles make the process move forward. Do not count on ethics, responsibility, professionalism, obligations or any of the drivers of civil servants in the civilized world. Just take the plunge and suffer the many rectal exams you have to be subjected to in order to change one word in your record at the registry. Here is my story.

Having married in the 1980s in New York, where I had fled from Palestinian terrorism, Bachir Gemayel's barbarism, Walid Jumblatt's tribalism, Israeli treachery, Syrian vulgar savagery and the filth of Lebanon's religious politics of the 1980s, I registered my civil marriage and children with the Lebanese Consulate in New York. It took years for the names of my spouse and children to appear in the registries in Lebanon, and when I would occasionally call the consulate to inquire, I would be told that I had to fly to Beirut and "follow up" on the registration in person in situ. Being from the Chouf where cave-dwelling Druze and Christian savages have been slaughtering one another for centuries, there was no way I was going to fly to Beirut in the midst of war and drive to Beiteddine to do the "follow up". So, because of the war, and when the names appeared a decade later in the records, I forgave the ineptitude and rudeness of Lebanese Consular bureaucrats. 

But what about today, with Gebran Bassil wanting to reconnect the diaspora with the homeland? I will tell you: It is worse today. For one, Bassil is not really interested in helping the Diaspora; all he wants is for Christians to register so he can increase their hypothetical numbers in the sectarian cesspool of Lebanon, and then, of course, having increased their numbers artificially, to "save" those said Christians from their fellow Muslims who, it seems, are bent on annihilating them. He must have Christians so he can claim to want to defend them. With most Christians having fled the country, Bassil has no "flock" to shepherd. He has inherited the greed and stupidity of the Maronite Church which, less than 100 years ago annexed largely Muslim areas of Syria into their autonomous Mount Lebanon entity to create the Greater Lebanon monstrosity in which Christians quickly became a minority. In the 1989 Taif Agreement, concluded after decades of war in which the Muslims demanded power, the Christians managed to hold on to a 50% share of everything - المناصفة - despite their dwindling numbers and sectarian proportion (estimated today at 35%). And so Bassil, in collusion with the Maronite Church, today wants expat Christians - who by the way fled not only Palestinian, Syrian, Druze and Muslim barbarism, but the filth and Fascism of their own protectors of the Christian militias and the Maronite Church - to register at their consulates and embassies so the number of "theoretical" Christians in Lebanon increases, so that, in turn, Bassil can claim to have a flock to defend from the Muslims and more importantly so he can bolster the decaying argument of a 50% Christian share of government to 35% proportion of the demographics. 
For the past year, I have been dealing with the incompetence, rudeness, and lack of professionalism of  politically-appointed and often illiterate bureaucrats of the Lebanese  Consulate in NY, and the consequent abject misery and agony of registering my ancient (1990s) and civil (not religious) divorce. It is an endless saga of incomplete information provided on web sites, misplaced mailings, a New York consul who can't speak or write English and with whom telephone conversations are akin to a bullying contest of who can shut the mouth of his interlocutor faster and louder. After much misunderstandings and missed mailings back in the US, the papers finally made it to Bassil's den of Foreign Affairs in Ashrafiyeh. Thanks to someone I know who used to work there, the papers somehow made their way to Interior Ministry in Hamra. Keep in mind that both places are mindless, chaotic, dirty, incomprehensible worlds of rundown unmarked offices, where you have ask a million times many an individual in your same predicament before you know where to go. After being told that the papers will now make it in 3 days to the registry (the hypothetical endpoint of this Kafkaesque journey), we discovered a month later that the papers did NOT leave Interior Ministry. When we inquired, we were told that the asshole Consul in New York had misspelled my mother's name in the form he fills out, which causes the papers that have traveled all the way from NY back in April to be returned from Interior to Foreign Affairs and then back to the US in order for the asshole Consul to correct the name. In addition, there are requirements that make no sense, or if they do, there is never an explanation provided, as for example the requirement that a proxy (a Power of Attorney) must be given to someone else (at the extra cost of $125: $100 to the notary, and $25 to the consulate) to "follow up" the registration at Foreign Affairs. You ask a hundred times what this "follow-up" (ملاحقة المعاملة) consists of, and you never get a straight answer. Then you tell yourself after appointing the proxy that you'd better be physically present here in Lebanon to do the mysterious "follow-up" alongside the proxy. The papers normally should travel by diplomatic pouch from the Consulate to Foreign Affairs, who then forwards them to Interior, who then forwards them to the Registry, where the records are updated from "married" to "divorced". That is the job of ethical civil servants. But not in Lebanon. I also found out, only recently, that you are required to appoint an attorney for a reason that they never explain to you and that even the attorney I already spoke with does not understand.  All of this to register a really ancient, settled and done with divorce of more than 20 years ago.














Friday, September 16, 2016

Lebanon 1975: The Sequel - On a Street Near You

All the signs have been given. The Machiavellian Reality Hollywood production, rooted in the filth of middle eastern sectarianism and tribalism, is ready to launch Lebanon into the sequel of the 1975 War. About time. These productions usually alternate generations, but we are in the fast lanes of the 21st century and things move rapidly.

We had the Palestinians back in the 1970s to drag the pathetic Lebanese Muslims into launching their war against their own country and their own army. You see, their association with Lebanon is rather loose as they prefer all other affiliations - Syrianism, arabism, islamism, baathism, shiism, sunnism, wahhabism, iranianism... - to their own. Granted, their insertion into the Lebanese entity less than 100 years ago was forced, coerced, and painful for them because they much preferred to have stayed with Syria, the pulsating but now limp penis of the Arab world. Just as Faysal in 1919, Nasser in 1958, Arafat in 1965 in tandem with Assad in 1970, they reneged, again and again, on the National Pact with their fellow Christian Lebanese, using foreigners and outside powers to drive a nail in the coffin of the Greater Lebanon entity. They are Arabs. They are Muslims. What fucking bullshit is this Lebanon that forces to live under a Christian president who more often than not does not have an Arabic-sounding name?

So, the "leaders" by the names of Yafi, Bizri, Salam, Hoss, etc...followed Arafat, Assad, and Jumblatt, and joined them in one big hybrid mutant of "leftwinging-arabizing-islamzing-conquering-baathizing-antizionisizing-antichristianizing-antiimperializing-anticrusading... - called the National Movement whose objectives were to liberate Palestine, chase the Zionists out of Palestine, reduce the Lebanese Christians to the dhimmi status, emasculate the Lebanese christian president, make Lebanon the only filthy arab country to fight Israel, and assorted other goals which, all together, aimed at one thing: Destroy the Lebanese entity and merge with Syria or some other warm Arabo-Islamic union. To achieve these sublime goals, they resorted to breaking the army, preventing the army from fighting the lawless Palestinians, attacking and boycotting their own Lebanese government, besieging, shelling and massacring Lebanese Christian towns using Syrian a horde of militias and terror organizations, disguised as Palestinian guerillas, Shiite fundamentalists, Sunni fundamentalists, Communists, Druze gangs, all of this funded by the largesse of the Saudi criminal Muslim headquarters, or the Kuwaiti motherfuckers (before Saddam invaded them), or the Egyptian turncoats, or the Libyan hoodlum Qaddafi or any of the great Muslim-Arab cesspools around the world with oil beneath their soil. In the end, they even managed to rally the Americans who, having been stung by the Arab oil embargo, wanted the Saudis to be happy pumpers of oil, as well as the Israelis who, to this day, continue to prefer the Assad regime to any alternative because the regime's cruelty secured the Israelis all the pretexts they needed to keep gobbling up the last remains of Palestine. All these people converged their weapons, money, terrorists and energy to defeating the Lebanese Christians. And they did. In 1990, the last Lebanese government to be free from the custody of the enemies of Lebanon, fell.

For the past 26 years, Lebanon has lived under the custody of the winners above: Sunnis, Syrians, Druze, joined by the Shiites who were inducted to the club by the rise of the Islamic pit of Iran... Their achievements, heralded by the Taif Agreement of 1989, gave the Muslim rulers, who castrated the Christian president and reduced the Christian Lebanese to dhimmis, a free hand in the governance of the country. They continue to hate Lebanon, of course, and would have preferred, still, to join Syria or Egypt or some other Arab-Muslim cesspool. But, drunk from finally having power in their hands, they embarked on their "reconstruction" of the country. One Rafik Hariri, a building contractor with no education, but with billions he made kissing ass to the Saudis and building palaces for them, became Mr. Lebanon. They tempered their Arab and Islamic addicitions, and pretended to love Lebanon for a while. But the disease of Islamo-arabism is so entrenched that sooner or later it is bound to return.

Today, after 26 years of Muslim rule in Lebanon, you can witness the achievements of the winners of the 1975 war: Filth, corruption, a rundown country, bouts of Islamic forbidden this and Haram that, repression, taxation, garbage, a crumbling administration, an ecological disaster in the forests and the sea... You should also contrast those 26 years of Muslim rule with the preceding 26 years of Christian rule: From1946 (when the Christian Lebanese evicted the French army) to circa 1973 (when the Arabo-Muslims began dismantling the Lebanese State), Lebanon was literally a jewel of liberalism, prosperity, openness, tolerance, freedom of the press, an international banking platform, a wealth of tourism, a fountain of world-class education.... But, in the eyes of its enemies, it had one major problem: It had a Christian President with enough power to make the country a world-class country. It had to be brought down, like a sheep to the slaughter on Adha. And the Lebanese Muslims did just that. Problem for them is that they are incompetent. They do not understand the concepts of personal and collective responsibility that are the foundation of prosperous liberalism. They cannot transcend the tenets of Sharia law and the strict reliance on God to remove garbage, bring wealth, promote education, raise the human above the tribal and the sectarian. Just drive between Christian areas and Muslim areas of Lebanon, and do your own compare-and-contrast. Today, after 26 years of Muslim rule, the country is as backwards as it was under the Ottoman Empire of the 1850s before Lebanon seceded and became autonomous from the Muslim rule that the filthy Turks imposed on the country for 400 years.

Today, we are back to the starting line of 1975.We have Syrian refugees instead of Palestinian refugees, and just like the Palestinian refugees did from the late 1960s and well into the early 1980s, the Syrian refugees have brought with them their fanaticism, their tribalism, their fundamentalism, their million organizations of Islamic Conquest this and Arab Intifada that, and of course, their hatred of Lebanon which, of all countries hosting them, has the highest per-capita number of Syrian refugees.

We have the Saudis and Iranians as sponsors of the war, instead of Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and others back in 1975. A reshuffling of the assholes, as it were, all driven by the same Arab and Islamic ideologies and their hatreds of one another. But in Lebanon, they find a common enemy: A non-Muslim Lebanese who still demands his rights, unlike the other Christians in the Arab world who either don;t exist or who have been dislodged for good or who live as fourth class citizens.

We have the beginnings of the early 1970s: Car bombs, assassinations, kidnappings, lawlessness of all kinds. We have the Druze militias, Christian militias, digging up their weapons from their mountain caches. We have daily clashes between local Christian youth and Syrian refugee youth (as was the case yesterday in Sarba, near Jounieh); it is this sort of clashes that was the trigger of the 1975 War: Local Christian youth in Ain-Remmaneh who had enough of the armed Palestinian hoodlums. We have a paralyzed government, just as it was under the traitor Sunni Prime MInister Rashid Karame who refused to convene his own government for almost a year because he preferred the Palestinian Arafat to the Lebanese Gemayel. We have an army that no one dares use, because it will splinter in the blink of an eye into sectarian militias. It now looks great, of course, because no one uses it except against some mysterious enemy on the borders with Syria. But try to put it to the real test of securing the country internally, and it will crumble.

We have the Americans, the British, the French and all the bleeding-hearted westerners who sermonize the Lebanese as to how to run the country, but never help enough to ensure the country succeeds or survives. Just as they wanted the Palestinian refugees to stay in Lebanon to relieve Israel of the Right of Return, they today want the Syrian refugees to stay in Lebanon and not flood Europe. So they pump money into Lebanon to buy the corrupt Muslim rulers to keep the Syrians in Lebanon.

And so, it is with a great sense of foreboding that I predict a repeat of the 1975 War sooner rather than later. The Christians, of course, want to regain some of their lost mojo, and the Muslims will resist and will use the Syrian refugees as their fighting militias. The Christians, again, will fall in the trap of trusting the West who will sell them of course to secure its own interests which, for better of for worse, remain the vast Muslim expanse outside Lebanon's borders. Think of it, US president Obama, who is by far the most inimical American president vis-a-vis Israel, just gave the Israelis US$38 billion in weapons over the next few years. This tells you where the priority of the West is.

So, move your precious furniture and belongings to your mountain hideout - we all learned our lessons from 1975 - because even your friends, the army and militias who will tell you that they are protecting you against the other side, will rob your house and rape your daughters in the lawlessness of the next "civil" war. The leaders who killed and raped in the 1970s, have now bestowed power on their sons: Gemayels, Salams, Jumblatts, Frangiehs, Mouawwads, Chamouns, Berris.... every single political farm in this club now a new face on an old name, and these rookies will want to prove their worth: Just like their fathers, they will lead you to slaughter and massacre as they try to save you from other members of the club.

Perhaps it is true, after all, that things never change in Lebanon. We are fools to believe that they may one day change for the better. So perhaps, instead of stashing my belongings in my mountain hideout, I should sell the lot and leave the country and keep on enlarging the Lebanese expat population around the world.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

AOUN between 2002 and 2016: A MASTER OF PERFIDY

[I found this piece from my archives from 2002 when Aoun was still in exile in Paris. In the interview with Assafir below, Aoun spells out clearly his positions on Hezbollah, the Shebaa Farms, Israel, Syria and other subjects. Compare these positions to Aoun's, and his poodle Gebran Bassil's positions today, and draw your own conclusions as to the lack of integrity of the man. Who in their right mind would want a prostitute politician like this to be president of this miserable country? [Note: Highlights are my own].

Translation of excerpts from a televised interview with MTV, by: Assafir Daily (Lebanon)  10/04/02

Aoun: The Shebaa Farms are not Lebanese and the Resistance (Hizballah) Prolonged the Occupation
General Michel Aoun appeared live yesterday from Paris and presented his views and positions regarding the developments in the region.

Aoun described the martyrdom missions executed by the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation as "suicide missions" and not "missions of martyrdom". He added that such operations "reveal an uncivilized conduct," and that the use of booby-trapped vehicles against Israel is an act of terrorism.

Aoun, in a televised interview with MTV, fiercely attacked Hizballah and Syria and accused them of nurturing the rejectionist discourse of the Palestinians. He also accused them of wanting to annihilate the Israelis, and of prodding the Palestinians to destroy a whole population.

Aoun criticized the military operations undertaken by the resistance (Hizballah) in the Shebaa Farms stating that "the Farms issue is a lie: the Shebaa Farms are not Lebanese; let Syria give us an official document that these Farms are Lebanese then we will work at liberating them."

Aoun described Hizballah's and Syria's position regarding the developments in occupied Palestine as "an extremist position stemming from either political recklessness or collusion with Israel." Aoun criticized "the rejectionist discourse that rejects even the human Israeli existence; such as the Hizballah discourse that considers the killing of anyone in the Israeli society as «fair game', and the discourse of President Bashar Assad that is identical to Hizballah's and proclaims that «there are no civilians in the Israeli society'. Aoun added: "We reject this kind of discourse. We reject such policy of extermination. Such things are contradictory to any human or civilized conduct. They are calling for the destruction of a whole people through terrorist means, and this is unacceptable. The use of such means released the destructive military power of Israel and legitimized it."

He also stated that the military victory of Israel "will not eliminate the Palestinian State nor the rights of the Palestinian people. However, those goals cannot be reached by the extermination of Israelis and wiping out Israel, as Hizballah and Bashar Assad want."

And regarding the resistance (Hizballah) that liberated the South from Israeli occupation, Aoun said: "The resistance prolonged the occupation. There was an Israeli proposal of withdrawal in 1994. Why did Lebanon withdraw from the negotiation process? Lebanon attached itself to the Syrian tractor and dissolved its own political and diplomatic identity, the resistance prolonged the occupation and damaged Lebanon economically". He called for the "disarming of Hizballah that keeps threatening us with civil war."

Aoun attacked Syria fiercely and said: "Is it allowable for Syria to kill in the name of brotherhood? Is it allowable for Syria to occupy Baabda (Presidential Palace) in the name of brotherhood? Why did it greet me with hostility from my first day as head of the interim government?"

 Aoun described the Lebanese constitutional institutions as "farms" and said: "The Baabda farm (Presidential Palace) needs to be liberated, so does the Kraitem (Cabinet) and the Nejmeh Square (Parliament) farms. There is no free decision in any of these places."[Today, Aoun and Bassil have created their own farm in Rabieh].

On the future of the region Aoun said: Peace in the Middle East is a civilizational condition that must evolve against the politics of violence. It rests on the acceptance of the "other", the right to be different, and the democratization of the political systems.

It is impossible to build a new Middle East with a war mentality. Competition through development and pluralism, which arises from the acceptance of those who are different, the plurality of races, genders, and origins, and the freedom of creed, is consistent with the stipulations of the Charter of Human Rights.

I do not trust states that engage themselves in the path of peace and try to develop their systems, but that do not recognize the right of freedom of creed, which by the way is not limited to religion, but also includes political and all other forms of freedoms. There are underdeveloped autocratic and theocratic states that are anachronisms and are incompatible with the times in which we live. The Bin Laden school is such a belief system and it cannot survive. The slogan of war on Christians and Jews is an aberration that cannot survive, neither in the East nor in the West. Lebanon is the only oasis for the reconciliation of cultures because of its Moslems and Christians who have lived the experience and found it to be viable.

Aoun said his return to Lebanon is tied to "changes on the ground" he expects to happen soon and which are linked to regional developments. 

Aoun finished his secondary education in 1955 and enrolled in the Military Academy as a cadet officer.  Three years later, he graduated as an artillery officer in the Lebanese Army. In June 1984, nine years into Lebanon's civil war, General Aoun was named commander of the Lebanese Army. In the fall of 1988, Syria and others created a political crisis by preventing the Lebanese Parliament from convening to elect a new president (Lebanese presidents are not popularly elected).  Damascus staunchly opposed the election of any candidate unwilling to sign a treaty recognizing Syrian hegemony in Lebanon.  In order to break this impasse, just 15 minutes before the expiration of his term, outgoing president Amin Gemayel appointed Aoun as interim prime minister until Parliament could elect a new president.  Although Aoun's government was constitutional, Syria backed the formation of a rival regime, supported by Syria's client militias.  While Aoun's government was officially recognized by several countries, most countries declined to formally recognize either regime. In an effort to assert the authority of his government, Aoun sent his army to close illegal ports run by both Christian and pro-Syrian Muslim militias.  After fighting that destroyed much of Beirut, General Aoun agreed to an Arab League-brokered cease-fire in September 1989.  After the cease-fire, a Saudi-sponsored meeting of Lebanese parliamentarians was held in Ta'if, Saudi Arabia, ostensibly to approve an agreement providing for the unification of Lebanon and the withdrawal of Syrian forces from the country. Aoun rejected the agreement, mainly because it failed to provide for a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon by a date certain.  However, the agreement also stipulated constitutional changes that Aoun believed should be subject to a popular referendum, a procedure that Syria opposed.  Foreseeing that the Lebanese parliamentarians would bow to Syria's will, Aoun dissolved Parliament, but it met anyway in Syrian-controlled territory in November 1989 to elect a new president and remove Aoun from office.  Aoun remained in office, however, and fought Syrian-led efforts to remove him.  In October of 1990, and with a green light from the United States and Israel, Aoun succumbed to Syria's superior military force and took refuge in the French Embassy.  He was allowed to leave Lebanon for exile in France in August of 1991 and has been there ever since. He returned to Lebanon in May 2005 following the Hariri assassination and the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon. He founded the "Free Patriotic Movement", today headed by his son-in-law, Gebran Bassil. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Sectarian Proportionality: Oxymoronic Reform

Many well-intentioned people are calling for modifying Lebanon’s electoral system to one based on the principles of “proportionality” (an-Nisbiyah النسبية) and “one-man, one-vote”. 

Proportional representation is an electoral system in which candidates or parties gain seats in parliament in proportion to the number of votes cast for them. Under the one-man, one-vote principle voting districts for a legislature need to have about the same population size. The idea behind the rule is that one person's voting power ought to be roughly equivalent to another person's voting power within the state, AND one’s person’s vote to be reflected in a fair and equal representation of each individual voter in parliament.

The devil being in the details, however, below are some of the built-in contradictions between the proportionality and the one-man, one-vote principles on one hand, and the sectarian foundation of the Lebanese entity on the other. A lack of awareness of those contradictions denotes either ignorance or ulterior motives on the part of those calling for proportional and one-man, one-vote representation. If it is ignorance, these people need to inform themselves better. If it is some other motive, then they need to be more honest, speak up clearly and declare their otherwise commendable goal of sacking the sectarian basis of government in Lebanon.

1- Proportionality is extremely difficult to implement in a sectarian system. For it to work, any district that is not drawn along sectarian lines would immediately violate Lebanon’s sectarian basis of government. Any district that is heterogeneous would require two seats for the principle to be applicable. For the sake of example, if a district is majority Christian and has only one seat in parliament, you would be forcing the Muslims in that district to be voting for a non-Muslim representative, which violates the sectarian setup of the country. If you then must assign a second seat to satisfy the Muslim minority in that district, you would in essence be splitting the district in two, one Christian and one Muslim, each of which would obtain a separate representative. You might as well redraw the boundaries and create two districts. In other words, for Lebanon, you would need to draw the boundaries of the districts according to two implausible criteria: They each need to have a homogeneous sectarian population (all Maronite, all Druze, etc.), AND they need to be all of equal population size.

2- The Lebanese constitution gives مناصفة (fifty-fifty) to the Christians (i.e. half the seats in parliament) even if, by any account, Christians no longer make up 50% of the population.  So, in order for proportionality and the one-man, one-vote principles to apply in Lebanon, you would have to artificially create more Christian districts to meet the fifty-fifty rule, and those districts would in reality represent less than 50% of the people. In other words, you would have to invent virtual Lebanese citizens who would be Christian by faith, to whom you would ascribe parliamentary representation.

3- Lebanon’s parliamentary representation and so-called democracy are a fallacy. Rather than being a “demo”cracy in which the object of government is the individual, Lebanon’s form of government is a plutocracy-oligarchy-theocracy hybrid.  Since the core of the Lebanese system of government is the religious-tribal identity, rather than a national identity, then the one-man, one-vote and proportionality principles cannot be implemented. As a Lebanese individual thinks of himself or herself first as a Sunni or a Maronite or a Druze, and second as a follower of a local, village, tribal or religious boss, and only then beneath these other layers of identity, as a Lebanese, then the one-man, one-vote and proportionality principles are just an absurdity.

In other words, those calling for the proportionality principle should start by eliminating the sectarian basis of the constitution and the country, and that requires a major upheaval because the Lebanese, in their primeval underdeveloped state of societal and political development, remain attached to their religions and religious bosses like stink on a monkey. 

But are there alternatives that may provide for a modus vivendi between archaism (religious-tribal identity) and modernity (individual identity)? Below is a modest proposal that has been on the market for a while, but which has found no currency because the establishment (religious and tribal) sees it as a threat that would undermine its monopoly over power.

In the Lebanese system, the object of government is NOT the individual; rather, it is the religious community. Lebanon, as a political entity, is NOT constituted of individual persons; it is constituted of religious communities that willy-nilly were forced into a vague federation around 1923.  Individual rights do not really exist in Lebanon; they are subsumed under the rights of the religious community to which any one individual is forced to belong from birth. Within each religious community, individual rights are merely assumed or vaguely referenced, but are rarely, if ever, enforced. Parliament in Lebanon is more like the Upper Chamber or Senate of genuine democracies in which considerations of history, legacy, and social makeup recognize alternate elements alongside the individual citizen as constituents of the state and as sources of legitimacy and authority. In Lebanon, parliament is not a House of Commons or House of Representatives representing individual voters free of their religious affiliations; it is a Senate representing only the religious communities.

The solution therefore, perhaps, lies in a bicameral system – a people’s assembly (House) AND a religious communities’ assembly (Senate). In the former, one may apply the one-man, one-vote and proportionality principles regardless of sectarian identities, while in the latter only the religious consideration is the criterion for representation. For example, in the English system, the House of Lords gives consideration to the monarchy and the nobility, while the House of Commons represents individual citizens. In the American version, the Senate considers the States as a parallel constituent alongside the individual citizen who is represented in the House of Representatives. By population, the largest state (California) and the smallest state (Alaska) each gets two senators in the senate. In Lebanon, a Senate would represent the religious communities, say 2 or 3 representatives per community regardless of its size, while the House would represent individual voters without any consideration of religious identities. Obviously, the sectarian virus is so ingrained in the Lebanese ethos that even with a bicameral parliament you’d still have to face the sectarian monster. How do you draw the districts without regard for religious identity? How can “secular” candidates run for elections if the voters insist on associating them with a religious or sectarian identity? Those perhaps would be smaller devils to deal with piecemeal. For now, the country needs a miraculous leap out of the swamps of backwardness and into the light of modernity.