We knew from the start of the Arab Spring in 2011 that the wave and the urge to revolt against the ruling political establishment will never arrive to Lebanon.
Now, the whole scene looks in reverse; it seems Lebanon exported violence, sectarianism, chaos, militias and instability to the whole region and can compete to be better in some categories…
Below is a video showing an Egyptian version of a typical Lebanese political argument about numbers… Which you can’t argue with.
This time it’s about Tahrir roundabout, errr…sorry, Tahrir Square.
The view of Sunni extremist jihadists is not necessarily new to our eyes. That was common in many places all over the world like Afghanistan, Iraq, Algeria, Egypt and others including now Syria. Or simply refer to Al-Qaeda.
Now we are witnessing more and more the other side of that coin, the Shiite jihadism. Shiite extremism existed in a political framework after the Islamic revolution of Iran in 1979, with its mantra to spread the revolution beyond its borders which was demonstrated in Lebanon with the establishment of Hezbollah in 1982 by the Iranian Revolution Guards.
Having said that, Shiite extremism was more acceptable and seen more pragmatic. Hezbollah led the way in getting the Lebanese, Arab and Islamic masses to accept its “Shiism” by successfully fighting Israel. Now we know that image has been shattered by the developments in Lebanon since 2005 and in Syria since 2011. Without getting into the details, we all know how Hezbollah changed its reconciliatory rhetoric and how it conducted its interventions…
If I want to draft my cultural shock caused by Hezbollah on a chart, it would look to be at its peak now.
May be that shock started mildly in 2005 when Hassan Nasrallah thanked Bashar Al-Assad in public on March 8, just after the Lebanese protests at the time helped to push a foreign Arab army off the national soil.
Then the dramatic political events that caused the deadlock in the country afterwards pushed this chart up. Then it spiked around May 7th 2008 when Hezbollah attacked Beirut and Mount Lebanon for whatever reasons. Now, the chart is heading to infinity with Hezbollah’s fight in Syria.
arab spring, Bashar Al-Assad, Beirut, Hezbollah, Kamal Jumblatt, Lebanese Civil War, Lebanese Communist Party, Lebanese Left, lebanon, Nabih Berri, syria, Syrian Army, Syrian moukhabarat, Terrorism, YouTube, Ziad Rahbani
I am from a generation who loved Ziad Rahbani, growing up with his music, songs, shows, plays and ‘revolutionary’ appearances and quotes like most of the youth of my time.
I can nearly recite all his plays, which I think they were masterpieces and will be engraved in our cultural heritage. I can never forget Joseph Sakr’s great songs in Sahriyyeh, the revolution of Abbas and Fahed in Nazl el sourour (which suits our current mood by the way), the social struggles of both Thurayya and Zakariya in Bennesbe La Boukra Shou, the Western conspiracy and our sectarian disease in Film Ameriki Taweel, the broken Lebanese society in Shi Fashel and the stubborn Lebanese people in his last series of Bikhsous el Karameh wel Shaab el Aaneed and Lawla Fos’hat el Amal. I adore his music and songs whether were part of his plays or not. He composed the greatest music and anthems, not exhaustively, but I mention Mays el Reem, Prelude 83, Abou Ali, People’s Winds and The Revolution Anthem.
A new addition is expected to the Lebanese political scene, which would seriously contribute to its contrasting colourfulness. Apparently, Lebanese Salafists are looking to establish a political party to participate in the 2013 electoral elections and the beyond scene.
This could a bit advanced for them considering they don’t usually recognise post-Caliphates states, so some internal rifts within their movement is possible.
As the Syrian revolution turned violent, comparisons of the situation there have been made to every possible recent regional conflict. The Syrian conflict has gained some sectarian momentum which guaranteed its resemblance – according to many analysts (to different degrees) – to the Iraqi, Lebanese or former Yugoslavian conflicts.
Now, for us the Lebanese, we can very much relate to the sequence of events in Syria. It’s déjà vu for us. We can tell what comes after bombings for example; kidnappings, revenge killings, sectarian mobilisation, rise of local warlords are always on the menu. Continue reading »
Al-Akhbar has close links with Hezbollah, with Al-Amine considered the unofficial spokesman of the Party of God. I am not talking about the portrait of Imad Mughniyeh behind his desk, but rather his editorials.
He is a staunch supporter of Bashar Assad’s regime, but he goes out of his way sometimes, mostly in the wrong way, but I can’t fault him this time. This is what he gave us this time:
The Arab Spring has been described and associated with such a wide variety of symbolic designations that at times, the term chosen to describe the series of protests that have swept across the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region may indicate a person’s political position on the wide and highly polarized spectrum. The term ‘Arab Spring’ has even been criticized by some who support the pro-democracy (or anti-regime) protests, citing this description as being Orientalist and therefore inappropriate.
Bernie Ecclestone does not see what the fuss is about with the formula One Grand Prix tomorrow in Bahrain, insisting that the unrest in the country “has nothing to do with them“.
Of course, it’s related to the regime crackdown on the uprising, and the widespread human right violations attached to it. A massive protest took place yesterday against the F1 event.
Today the Syrian revolution is one year old, and the day is featuring a frenzy in the main and social media over the leaked emails of Bashar Al-Assad and his wife Asma Al-Akhrass, published yesterday by The Guardian. The emails were obtained by The Guardian via some activists who were monitoring the Assads email accounts since last year. The emails are full of luxurious shopping lists, iTune downloads, games, music, Harry Potter and other silly YouTube video links exchanged between the couple themselves and with others.
The theory goes like that: if you suspect a foreign conspiracy against your country, then the conspirators would be funding their locals agents with the foreign country’s currency. Well, this is at least what the Syrian TV and Iranian Al-Alam Channel think, who are in the same league with Addounia TV.
Every time I discuss the Syrian tragedy with an anti-revolution or pro-Assad person, I would be faced with these questions: how do you know the numbers of killed people are right? Can you verify them? Why not count the killed soldiers too? Obviously, these people try to muddle the core problem and cover (unintentionally sometimes) for the Syrian regime atrocities. This is exactly what blogger Sharmine Narwani did in a long article in Al-Akhbar English. From a previous conversation with her on twitter, Sharmine might not be a pro-Assad person, but she is doing her best to doubt the genuine outcome and intentions of the peaceful uprising (yes peaceful, that’s how it started, ok).
In her mentioned piece, she asks:
Perception is 100 percent of politics […] How then does one count 20, 40, or 200 casualties in a few hours while conflict continues to rage around them?
Despite the rumours that there are anti-regime protests in the country for the past 11 months, and rumours that they are being fired at, and persecuted, and that parts of the country are not the under the government rule anymore, and that some of these parts are under siege and heavy bombardment, Syrians are heavily turning up today to the ballot boxes to say YES to the new draft of the constitution.
Follow @TheZakoAgain today, on Marie Colvin’s death yesterday in Homs; I did speculate that her death could have been a result of a direct intentional hit by the Syrian army. My confidence in this speculation has shot up now; this is an interesting but strange piece of intelligence by The Daily Mail: Continue reading »
Just in the last week, several main witnesses of the atrocities being committed in Syria has died or been killed. The famous New York Times journalist Anthony Shadid died due to an asthma crisis when he was being smuggled into the country – due to restrictions on journalists. Citizen journalist Rami Al-Sayyid was killed by the bombardment of Homs. Rami was responsible for uploading the YouTube videos and securing the live feed from Homs. He replaced his cousin Basel who was doing the same role, and got killed too by the Syrian regime. This morning, journalist Marie Colvin and photographer Remi Ochlik have died in Homs due to the indiscriminate shelling by the Syrian army, if not an intentional due to reportedly the fact they were present in a known ‘Press Centre’, which was directly hit. The regime knows how to silence journalists who oppose it.
Follow @TheZakoJeffrey White, the former American veteran senior intelligence officer and the current defense fellow at The Washington Institute, wrote yesterday about the importance of the indirect intervention in Syria in his point of view. He wrote a couple of month ago as well on the subject, assessing the different options available for intervention available, concluding that something must be done.
This caricature from Aamouda in Syria is one of the smartest, if not the smartest caricature I have ever seen from and/or about the Syrian revolution: A drilling rig trying to reach the sea of the freedom at the bottom, drills through the different layers above it.
Continue reading »
I never do copycat on Lebanon Spring, but there is a first for everything; posting the speech this afternoon (GMT), which could be marked as ‘historical’ in future, by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Syria.
Pillay previously encouraged the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. The full text was obtained by UN reporter for the Washington Post and Turtle Bay blogger at Foreign Policy Magazine Colum Lynch. I post it here with his permission, because it’s a MUST-READ.
As Bashar Al-Assad clings onto power, not only sectarianism within the Syrian society will increase but also the political divisions within the revolutions (you can argue this is could delay them). The radicalisation of the revolution is a work-in-progress outcome as well. This is what a TIME report on Free Syrian Army (FSA) published yesterday has showed. The article was a record of a meeting between some of its members in Turkey. It also shows how wary FSA is of the Syrian National Council and Muslim Brotherhood, and other politicians. They want to reap the reward of success of the revolution (which is not unexpected!).
Bashar Assad considers any efforts to stop the current killing in Syria as a “conspiracy” and “foreign intervention”, despite the fact that Syria intervened in Lebanon for donkey’s years, participated with the United States in the first Gulf war in 1991 against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, and sent fighters to Iraq in the post-2003 era.
Now Russia is undergoing just the same self-denial position, and adopting the same double standards for their assessment to the situation in Syria. Russia does not only oppose any military threat to Assad, but also any proposal that lead to a peaceful transition of powers. Apparently their current position, including their arms sales and their only military base abroad in Tartous are not classified foreign intervention.
Hence, why I liked this week’s cartoon from The Economist.
The theory stating that turning the Syrian peaceful uprising into a violent insurgency will start a civil war is treated as a matter of fact now. Signs of Islamization of the revolution recently surfaced, and coincided with the loss its peacefulness – due to the brutal regime crackdown. Syrian activists always interpreted the Quraan background or Allah ow Akbar chants in some YouTube videos as spontaneous representations of the personalities in some rural areas. This might be true, and quite irrelevant but it doesn’t mean that AlQaeda won’t enjoy the fertile ground of chaos, and may attract some local followers.
Since the start of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, the Syrian regime has faced all the accusations of human rights breaches with pure denial. They denied the existence of protests and the lack of support to its leader Bashar Al-Assad. Bashar Al-Assad claimed instead that protesters were saboteurs and armed gangs, and the Syrian people wanted Assad in power (no mention of the 97% anymore though).
As if the Syrian uprising is not living enough surrealism at these times. To muddle the picture even more, Israel said that it’s getting ready to receive Syrian refugees, or to be more precisely – only Alawites. The remarks were made by Israel’s army chief of staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz to the Knesset committee on foreign affairs and defence:
On the day the Assad regime falls, it is expected to harm the Alawite clan. We are preparing to receive Alawite refugees on the Golan Heights