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Tag Archives: Lebanon

How Lebanon sank so deep…

What a terrible feeling to witness, from the front row, the collapse of a country. Although we knew that we were going to hit the wall head-on, that the shock was going to be of incredible violence and that there would be no much left of post-war Lebanon at the end, the feelings these events arouse when they occur are no less powerful. Whatever you say, you are never really prepared for the worst.

A Lebanon is dying before our eyes without us being able to do anything about it. The population is getting poorer. The country is going to be downgraded. Schools are in danger. Businesses are closing. Young people, who can, are leaving. The “Lebanese-style” way of living is threatened, as it had never been before, even during the war.

https://www.lorientlejour.com/article/1224409/how-lebanon-sank-so-deep.html

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2020 in Middle East

 

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There is little chance of change in Lebanon – we can only expect more suffering

The freezing Mediterranean squalls that slash across downtown Beirut and the seafront to the west may give the impression this week that Lebanon is lapsing back into its favourite pastime: forgetting history and praying for a return to the good old days.

Revolution? Now that the country’s old parliamentary sectarians have gathered to support Hassan Diab’s deeply uninspiring government, it’s hard to see how the wretched system behind this country’s fragile grip on reality can ever change.

True, the graffiti is still there – including the “God is Great” imprecations spray-painted on the walls just down from my home – and the broken windows on downtown offices and the steel shutters of the banks in the city centre and in Hamra. But there’s a bigger storm coming. More inflation, more taxes, more poverty – though I noticed that the parliamentarians who gathered to vote for the new government were literally very well-heeled – is coming in this tempest. A government which tries to alleviate anger by promising yet more economic suffering is a scenario which only Lebanon can invent.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/lebanon-protests-beirut-economy-hassan-diab-cabinet-a9347406.html

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2020 in Middle East

 

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The Hidden Political Poison That Iraq And Lebanon Are Really Protesting About

Thousands of locals in Lebanon have been protesting since Thursday against what they say is a corrupt government. On Friday, those demonstrations – sparked by proposed taxes at a time of rising living costs – devolved into some violent clashes. Currently the Lebanese leadership is trying to resolve the issue.

The recent protests in Iraq and the current demonstrations in Lebanon have something unique in common. Both countries’ political systems have what may best be described as an unofficial quota system that dictates the way their democracy works and how politicians, and even bureaucrats, take power.

https://www.niqash.org/en/articles/politics/6006/The-Hidden-Political-Poison-That-Iraq-And-Lebanon-Are-Really-Protesting-About.htm

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2019 in Middle East

 

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The new revolutionaries of the Middle East share this one fatal flaw

Revolutions are like electricity. An electric shock of the most unexpected kind. The victims think at first it must be a powerful wasp sting. Then they realise the entire house in which they live has been electrocuted.

They react with howls of pain, promises to move home or to rewire the entire place, to protect the occupants. But once they realise that the electricity can be tamed – however ruthlessly – and, most important of all, that it has no controlling element, they begin to relax. It was all a faulty connection, they say to themselves. A few tough and well-trained electricians can deal with this rogue power surge.

That’s what’s happening in Iraq and Lebanon and Algeria. In Baghdad and Kerbala, in Beirut and in the city of Algiers – and, once again, in miniature and briefly, in Cairo. The young and the educated demanded an end not just to corruption but to sectarianism, to confessionalism, to religious-based mafia governments of immense wealth, arrogance and power.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/iraq-protests-lebanon-egypt-sisi-middle-east-revolution-a9178991.html

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2019 in Middle East

 

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Hezbollah threatens the peaceful and non-sectarian protests in Lebanon

Those tens of thousands of largely young protesters demanding a non-sectarian Lebanon were joyful, filled with happiness, determined that this time they would change the wretched confessional nature of their state forever. Then the Hezbollah turned up, a truckload of them, dressed in black and shouting through loudspeakers and holding up posters of their all-Shia militia heroes. Squads of Lebanese interior ministry police appeared in the side streets.

It was perfectly clear to all of us that the Hezbollah, heroes of the Lebanese resistance until they began sacrificing themselves on the battlefields of Syria, were attempting to sabotage the entire protest movement. The young men and women in the street shouted as one: “The government is corrupt, the sectarian leaders are corrupt, all members of parliament are thieves — thieves, thieves, thieves.” But they never – deliberately – mentioned the name of the Hezbollah chairman Sayed Hassan Nasrallah. Hezbollah serves in the Lebanese government.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/lebanon-beirut-protests-whatsapp-tax-hezbollah-michel-aoun-a9170716.html

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2019 in Middle East

 

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Lebanese rioters won’t change anything while sectarian elites cling to power

Burning tyres do not a revolution make. The pictures are good, the television footage dramatic. Brave words sound good, but soundbites don’t bring down governments.

Certainly not the Lebanese government, whose sectarian elites have been running their country in a cesspit of corruption ever since the French mandate decided after the First World War that Lebanon should be a sectarian country run by dividing Christians, Sunni Muslims and Shia in a mutual pact of patriotism, fear, jealousy and distrust. (The British, remember, did the same in Palestine, Cyprus – yes, and Northern Ireland too. The French did it in Syria.)

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/lebanon-protests-uprising-whatsapp-riots-sectarianism-hezbollah-a9169061.html

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2019 in Middle East, Uncategorized

 

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In Beirut, I can no longer get American dollars out of the ATM. This is what it tells me about Lebanon’s economy

I sniffed something was wrong in Lebanon when the Central Bank governor Riad Salame announced to us all that there were plenty of dollars in the system. No shortages. No tightening of the purse strings. I still have the papers with his announcement on page one.

Both before, during and after the 1975-1990 civil war, you’ve been able to pay for anything here in Lebanon in US dollars: dinner bills, rent, militias, guns (during the war), cars, airline tickets, groceries. The Lebanese pound fell amid the conflict but settled afterwards – courtesy of the country’s billionaire prime minister Rafiq Hariri – at 1,500 “Lebs” to the dollar.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/beirut-lebanon-economy-central-bank-us-dollars-riad-salame-a9136066.html

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2019 in Middle East

 

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Lebanon’s crisis is almost unstoppable. Drone warfare is on the horizon

After two civil wars, multiple invasions and political assassinations galore, you might think Lebanon deserves a break from the greatest crisis since its last greatest crisis. But no – here we were this week with the Israelis claiming the Hezbollah were running a missile factory in the Bekaa Valley and the prime minister – the Lebanese one, not the Israeli – claiming that the world’s investors could put their money in his country even though this infinitely small nation has one of the world’s highest debt to GDP ratios. One-hundred-and-fifty per cent to be precise.

Saad Hariri, the prime minister in question – and yes, his father was indeed assassinated by a huge car bomb a few hundred metres from my own home in Beirut – has been trying to talk down the threat of a credit-rating downgrade just as Lebanon itself declared a “state of economic emergency” on Monday. It was his high-spending billionaire father who kicked off his country’s near-bankruptcy with a massive new city centre after the civil war had destroyed much of Beirut. That is the second civil war we are talking about. It lasted 15 years and cost around 150,000 lives. The figure, by the way, creeps up to 175,000, depending on the newspapers you choose to trust.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/lebanon-israel-hezbollah-drones-syria-idlib-saad-hariri-hassan-nasrallah-a9093301.html

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2019 in Middle East

 

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An Isis killer and an unlikely hero have heaved open the cracks in Lebanese politics

Saber Mrad grinned up from his bed on the third floor of the Islamic Hospital with a hero’s smile.

“I’ve always been the kind of person to interfere if someone’s being hurt,” he said. “I’ve never been scared in my life.” Which is just as well. For the cheerful Lebanese with the Australian accent, his torso covered in bandages and far too many tattoos, had deliberately crashed his car into the motor-cycle-riding Isis killer who opened fire on crowds of civilians preparing for the Eid al-Fitr festival in the Northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.

The back of Mrad’s head is also swathed in gauze and bandages because – this being a truly bloody tale without many Hollywood happy endings – the Isis veteran from Syria shot him three times in the brain and once below the neck.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/lebanon-syria-isis-killing-lone-wolf-hariri-robert-fisk-tripoli-australia-a8956851.html

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2019 in Middle East

 

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Lebanon is on a tightrope, balancing Saudi, Iranian and Western interests – its position is precarious

Facing possible invasion from both Britain and Germany in 1940 and determined to remain neutral, the Irish government in Dublin asked one of its senior ministers to draft a memorandum on how to stay out of the Second World War. “Neutrality is a form of limited warfare,” was his eloquent but bleak response.

The Lebanese would agree. For seven years, they have been pleading and praying and parleying to stay out of the Syrian war nextdoor, to ignore Israel’s threats, Syria’s sisterly embrace, America’s warnings, Russia’s entreaties and Iran’s blandishments. I guess you have to be an especially gifted people to smile obligingly – ingratiatingly, simplistically, bravely, grovellingly, wearily – at all around you and get away with it.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/lebanon-syria-middle-east-robert-fisk-saudi-iranian-western-interests-precarious-position-a8514891.html

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2018 in Middle East

 

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