Tag Archives: Lebanon

Tension mounts in Lebanon as Saudi Arabia escalates power struggle with Iran

In Beirut’s southern suburbs, where buildings scarred with wars of old blend with posters of the latest dead, talk of another conflict has taken hold. A fight on a scale not seen before may be brewing, say locals like Hussein Khaireddine, a barber who says he and his family in the Shia suburb of Dahiyeh have grown used to tensions over decades.

“This one’s different,” he said. “It could lead to every valley and mountain top. And if it starts, it may not stop.”

The trepidation extends beyond the city’s predominantly Shia suburbs and south Lebanon, which bore the brunt of the 2006 war with Israel, to all corners of a country that has suddenly found itself at the centre of an extraordinary regional crisis. The turmoil had been brewing for years. But it was brought to a head on 3 November, at a lunch in Beirut being hosted by prime minister Saad Hariri. Midway through the meal with the visiting French cultural minister, Françoise Nyssen, Hariri received a call and his demeanour changed. He excused himself and left for the airport, without his aides.–power-struggle-saad-hariri-resignation

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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Middle East


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This isn’t the first time Saudi Arabia has threatened the stability of Lebanon

A weird and highly constrained “interview” on his personally owned television channel by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was made under Saudi duress in Riyadh. The “interview”, in which Hariri – who claimed he had resigned last week and who on Sunday said he has “complete freedom” in Saudi Arabia but wanted to “look after his family as well” – was made after the Saudis declined to invite a Beirut-based Future TV crew to Saudi Arabia and insisted that their own television personnel filmed him.

Thus when he was questioned by popular Lebanese presenter Paula Yakoubian in the presence of Future’s Lebanese director of news Nadim Koteich in Riyadh, the Saudis were in a position to cut him off or edit Hariri’s words if he strayed away from what was very possibly a vetted script. For the “interview” itself reflected not the views which Hariri has persistently made public at home in Lebanon but those of the Saudi government under the effective leadership of the increasingly aberrant Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.

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Posted by on November 21, 2017 in Middle East


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The resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, has not gone as smoothly as the Saudis wanted

The Saudis may be holding the Lebanese Prime Minister hostage but their apparent plan to topple the Beirut government has gloriously backfired. Far from breaking up the cabinet and throwing Hezbollah’s ministers to the wolves, the Lebanese nation has suddenly woken up to what it’s like to be united – against the Saudis. The Lebanese government has announced that it does not accept the resignation statement which Saad Hariri was obliged to make in Riyadh, and overnight hashtags have appeared on several Beirut streets saying “kul na Saad” – “We are all Saad”. Even the Sunni Muslims of Lebanon are furious at their Sunni counterparts in Saudi Arabia.

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Posted by on November 14, 2017 in Middle East


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Saad Hariri’s resignation as Prime Minister of Lebanon is not all it seems

When Saad Hariri’s jet touched down at Riyadh on the evening of 3 November, the first thing he saw was a group of Saudi policemen surrounding the plane. When they came aboard, they confiscated his mobile phone and those of his bodyguards. Thus was Lebanon’s prime minister silenced.

It was a dramatic moment in tune with the soap-box drama played out across Saudi Arabia this past week: the house arrest of 11 princes – including the immensely wealthy Alwaleed bin Talal – and four ministers and scores of other former government lackeys, not to mention the freezing of up to 1,700 bank accounts. Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s “Night of the Long Knives” did indeed begin at night, only hours after Hariri’s arrival in Riyadh. So what on earth is the crown prince up to?

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Posted by on November 10, 2017 in Middle East


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If Nikki Haley doesn’t drop her nonsensical pro-Israeli propaganda line at the UN, she could cause real problems for Lebanon

Under a broiling hot midday sun on the south Lebanese-Israeli border this summer, an extraordinary and very angry meeting took place between two major generals: the 60-year-old Irish UN force commander in Lebanon and the 54-year-old deputy chief of staff of the Israeli army. Listening to them was the ambitious, pro-Israeli – but very inexperienced – US ambassador to the United Nations. The row between the two men appears to have been pre-planned by the Israelis to impress the highly impressionable Nikki Haley. It worked.

Haley had been helicoptered up to the border from Jerusalem on 8 June by Israeli General Aviv Kochavi for a tour regularly laid on for visiting – and gullible – US officials: a walk to the Lebanese frontier wire with many a fearful warning from the Israelis about Hezbollah “terrorists”, “secret” Hezbollah missile bunkers in UN-controlled territory and the failure of UN troops to “disarm” the “terrorists” in Lebanon. This is a familiar horror story, trotted out for American and other Western diplomats and politicians over more than 30 years.

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Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Middle East, North America


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Lebanon’s efficient security services are stepping up their watch over Islamist supporters in Beirut and beyond

Until this Wednesday, the sound of mortar and rifle fire has echoed across the streets of the southern Lebanese city of Sidon. As usual, the world has ignored it on the grounds that Palestinians have been fighting Palestinians yet again in the largest refugee camp in Lebanon. And so they have.

Palestinian secular factions have been fighting Islamist groups. The camp lies just to the east of the centre of Sidon and is the usual warren of poverty and concrete huts and filthy apartment blocks, ironically called Ein el-Helweh – which means the “sweet well” or “sweet spring”.

Few noticed that this latest series of battles was set off shortly after an official visit to Lebanon by Mahmoud Abbas, the doddering old Palestinian president who long ago lost his legal electoral mandate in the occupied West Bank but who remarked before he left Beirut that Palestinians were dedicated to crushing “terrorism”.

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Posted by on April 13, 2017 in Middle East


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On the 40th anniversary of Kamal Jumblatt’s death, is trouble brewing again in Lebanon?

Walid Jumblatt looked a worried man yesterday. He seemed a trifle frail. He was, after all, commemorating the brutal murder 40 years ago of his Druze father Kamal, an earnest and secular socialist who might have been compared to the pre-First World War MP Keir Hardie, although Hardie spent 11 years in the mines and did not live in a palace. Kamal’s butchering – he was shot to death in his car, along with his driver and bodyguard, not long after the start of the Lebanese civil war – was followed by a massacre of hundreds of Christians by their Druze neighbours in surrounding villages.

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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in Middle East



Marine Le Pen has arrived in Lebanon to find out that the Christians she thought were her allies aren’t on her side at all

Marine Le Pen has been doing a little Trumping in Beirut. Yes, all the way from Paris she came to ride her French presidential election campaign through the sectarian thickets of Lebanon by refusing to wear a veil to meet the Sunni Muslim Grand Mufti. Given the nonsense she spoke to the (Christian) president of Lebanon and the schoolgirl interview she granted to the country’s (Christian) French-language newspaper, many Lebanese – and a few Christians, too – concluded that this wretched lady embarked on her visit with the sole aim of insulting the country’s Muslims.

Of course, it was a publicity stunt. Marine Le Pen doesn’t care about the votes of Lebanese Christians who hold French passports – her Front National (FN) anyway wants to get such dual nationals to choose their country of citizenship, so the poor old Christians of Lebanon whom Le Pen supposedly loves may have to abandon their country of origin if they want France to “protect” them from the Muslim hordes. No, her refusal to wear a veil – a mere headscarf to show respect to the Sunni Mufti, Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian – was intended for her domestic audience in France. Muslims want to subjugate women. It was the old message. To hell with Lebanon. Which is surely why she was accompanied on this pantomime by more French than Lebanese journalists.

Source: Marine Le Pen has arrived in Lebanon to find out that the Christians she thought were her allies aren’t on her side at all

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Posted by on February 24, 2017 in European Union, Middle East


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Article 522: Letting rapists off the hook in Lebanon

The Turkish government, in keeping with its established reputation as a shameless violator of human rights and decency, recently made unfavourable headlines yet again with what international media have termed a “child rape bill” that would have pardoned men convicted of statutory rape provided they marry their victims.

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Posted by on December 10, 2016 in Middle East


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Lebanon is a sectarian nation, yet it has avoided civil war while the Middle East burns – here’s why

Maybe it’s because I live in Lebanon, and return to Beirut from Aleppo and Damascus, that the place seems so “normal”. While all around this little jewel, the Middle East burns – Syria, the occupied West Bank, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, increasingly Egypt and, alas, Turkish Kurdistan – Lebanon glistens brightly in the darkness, largely untarnished by the horrors on the other side of its borders. Or so it seems.

We might be forgiven for believing that this little paradise still exists in the Arab world. True, Lebanon has no president, no functioning government and constant power cuts (I currently have three electricity outages a day, sometimes totalling six hours, without a generator). Reading by candlelight might seem as romantic as Milton – preferably without its physical effect on him – but it gets a little boring after a while.

Source: Lebanon is a sectarian nation, yet it has avoided civil war while the Middle East burns – here’s why

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Posted by on October 20, 2016 in Middle East