I’m speechless

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For the first time in my life I’m speechless. It took me hours before I was able to write these words. The picture of this dead Syrian baby who drowned on Turkish shores while his family was trying to flee to Greece by boat not only shocked me but also shook me pretty hard. A child that doesn’t know how to dream was ripped from the hands of his parents. Their dream was to have a better future from him. They ran away from the killing machine in Syria to lose part of their hearts on the shores of Europe.

How many kids and humans need to die to appease to Western and Arab countries who are involved in this ugly war? How many kids are going to be sacrificed to keep Assad in power?

Where is humanity? What is left of it? What kind of monsters are fueling this war? Don’t they have children? Is the live of a baby in Paris worth more than the life of this Syrian child? Is the life of a Qatari child more important than this Syrian child? Is the life of Assad kids more valuable from this Syrian child? Why my and your kids  have the right to live happy and this had to suffer such a death?

Where is God? Is he happy with all these killings? Is he enjoying this slaughter? Does he really exists?

Some will share this post on Facebook, others will retweet it but will any of you stop for a second and think how come we lost touch with Love, humanity and reality?

“In this fearful age it is not enough to be happy and prosperous and secure yourselves … you must have a message to proclaim to others; you must mean something in terms of ideas and attitudes and fundamental outlook on life; and this something must vibrate with relevance to all conditions of men.” Charels Malek

One Day

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Interesting Quote: “One day we will tell our children about the ordeal and death caravan that Syrian and Palestinian jumped upon trying to escape to Europe even though Mecca and the land of Muslims is closer to them. One day we will tell them about the Hijra of Prophet Mohamed and his Companions to the land of Habasha at a time it was ruled by a Christian leader who didn’t oppress his people and immigrants.

What’s up, Doc?

Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces, speaks during a news conference at his house in Maarab village

This article was written by Michael Young on August 21, 2015 and published on the website NOW.

Did Future even notice that Samir Geagea had left them?

It is remarkable how invisible was the reaction of the Future Movement when its Christian partner Samir Geagea signed a declaration of intent with the Free Patriotic Movement. How different from Hezbollah, which has determinedly kept Michel Aoun happy to ensure he does not abandon his alliance with the party.

Geagea’s decision to effectively jump ship on the remnants of March 14 was less dramatic than Walid Jumblatt’s in 2009, but no less significant. It showed that the Lebanese Forces leader sees little potential in his alliance with the main Lebanese Sunni organization. That does not mean Geagea’s relations with Future are over. Rather, he has expanded his political options.

Future may find that this will come back to haunt the Sunnis. The country is moving toward an overhaul of the constitution to replace the post-Taif political order with one weighed against Sunnis. And in this context Geagea’s treatment as a poor relative by the Future Movement, particularly since Saad Hariri’s departure from Lebanon in 2011, has been a grave mistake. The head of the Future Bloc, Fouad al-Siniora never visits the Lebanese Forces leader and is not well-attuned to the Christian mood. Nor, unlike Hassan Nasrallah, has he considered it vital to work hard to maintain a strategic partnership with Christians to protect his own community against the demands of the other main Muslim community.

Nasrallah’s speech last week was a clear indicator of what Hezbollah seeks to achieve. As the situation in Syria turns to the party’s disadvantage, Hezbollah and Lebanon’s Shiites will have to brace for a Sunni backlash and sense of empowerment. The only way Hezbollah can protect itself is to change the balance of representation in Taif to ensure a structural majority for Shiites and Christians. To win over Christian backing, Hezbollah may very well agree to go along with the idea of a highly decentralized administrative system, which has long been a core Christian demand.

Hezbollah’s ambition is why, for Nasrallah, gaining Christian support remains so essential. And it explains his keen defense of Michel Aoun last week, when the Hezbollah leader insisted the party would not allow the general to be isolated or “broken.”

As many have observed, the most likely way for Hezbollah to reinforce itself in the state is to alter the 50-50 Christian-Muslim balance in Taif and redistribute sectarian shares so that Sunnis, Shiites and Maronites each have roughly a third of representation in parliament and government. Shares of the smaller sects would be adjusted in this general framework.

In that way, Christians and Shiites would retain a permanent two-thirds majority over Sunnis, allowing Hezbollah to shield itself from within the state. Many Christians would be reassured, feeling this would protect them against a Sunni wave in the region, which they believe — rightly or wrongly — would lead to the marginalization of minorities.

Indeed, many Christians today favor a highly-decentralized system in Lebanon precisely because they have misgivings about their future in a Muslim-majority country. But it is also true that most feel more reassured by the Shiites — a minority in the region like them — than they do by the Sunnis, whom they associate, quite simplistically and undiscerningly, with higher levels of religious extremism.

In this complicated sectarian climate, Future would only gain by having Christian partners in order to better moderate Christian attitudes. That’s because fear will lead Christians to make decisions that may undermine the reflexes of sectarian compromise and power-sharing at the heart of the political system.

One wonders whether some officials in the Future Movement have fully absorbed the meaning of the presidential vacuum. It goes far beyond Hezbollah’s wanting to bring Aoun to office and by now this should be perfectly obvious.

Hezbollah and Aoun are collaborating in an effort to change Taif and the post-Taif system. Each has his own reasons for doing so, but the larger objective is the same: to amend a political arrangement that both believe is to their disadvantage and to the advantage of the Sunni community. What matters here is not the reality of Taif’s uneven implementation, which has harmed all sides at times, but perceptions. And these Michel Aoun and Hassan Nasrallah have successfully manipulated in pursuit of their aims.

There are senior officials in the Future Movement who are openly admitting that Taif is dead, so no one can plead ignorance. If so, it’s time for Future to give added weight and recognition to its Christian counterparts. Otherwise, before long we will see the likes of Geagea and the Gemayels opening a dialogue with Hezbollah, which has shown a greater inclination to take Christian anxieties seriously.

This situation reflects more than anything else the end of March 14. The coalition has had many deaths, but the breakdown of cross-confessional collaboration buries it once and for all. When Samir Geagea went his own way he was confirming such finality. The Lebanese Forces leader will henceforth take his own political path, and at no time was this more evident than last week when he and his followers said little about the anti-Sunni slogans of the Aounists.

It’s a fact that Hezbollah is out-maneuvering Future on the Christian front. Christians err if they believe that taking sides in the inter-Muslim rivalry will benefit them, but that won’t stop them from trying. For Christians, true security lies in protecting themselves behind a wall of Sunni and Shiite moderation, in a society where all communities interact and coexist as equals.

But that’s not what is happening on the ground. Instead of encouraging Christians in this direction, the moderate Sunnis of the Future Movement are allowing Hezbollah to take the initiative and advance its own divisive agenda. The Lebanese political system has always relied on mutual sensibility. That is missing today, and it’s a shame that Future suffers more from this failing than Hezbollah.

Michael Young is opinion editor of The Daily Star newspaper. He tweets @BeirutCalling

Link to article:
https://mobile.mmedia.me/lb/en/commentary/565763-whats-up-doc

Ambassador Tom Fletcher’s Farewell Letter to Lebanon

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The following is the farewell letter of British ambassador Tom Fletcher to Lebanon. Too bad he is not Lebanese Maronite, I would have supported him to become the next Lebanese president.

Dear Lebanon,

Sorry to write again. But I’m leaving your extraordinary country after four years. Unlike your politicians, I can’t extend my own term.

When I arrived, my first email said ‘welcome to Lebanon, your files have been corrupted’. It should have continued: never think you understand it, never think you can fix it, never think you can leave unscathed. I dreamt of Beirutopia and Leb 2020 , but lived the grim reality of the Syria war.

Bullets and botox. Dictators and divas. Warlords and wasta. Machiavellis and mafia. Guns, greed and God. Game of Thrones with RPGs. Human rights and hummus rights. Four marathons, 100 blogs, 10,000 tweets, 59 calls on Prime Ministers, 600+ long dinners, 52 graduation speeches, two #OneLebanon rock concerts, 43 grey hairs, a job swap with a domestic worker, a walk the length of the coast (Video). I got to fly a Red Arrow upside down, and a fly over Lebanon’s northern border to see how LAF is enforcing Lebanese sovereignty. I was even offered a free buttock lift – its value exceeded our £140 gift limit, so that daunting task is left undone.

Your politics are also daunting, for ambassadors as well as Lebanese citizens. When we think we’ve hit bottom, we hear a faint knocking sound below. Some oligarchs tell us they agree on change but can’t. They flatter and feed us. They needlessly overcomplicate issues with layers of conspiracy, creative fixes, intrigue. They undermine leaders working in the national interest. Then do nothing, and blame opponents/another sect/Sykes-Picot/Israel/Iran/Saudi (delete as applicable). They then ask us to move their cousin’s friend in front of people applying for a visa. It is Orwellian, infuriating and destructive of the Lebanese citizens they’re supposed to serve. But this frustration beats the alternative – given potential for mishap, terror or invasion, there is no substitute for unrelenting, maddening, political process.

Kahlil Gibran said ‘you have your Lebanon, I have mine’. When the Middle East was in flames, and its people caught between tyrants and terrorists, the Lebanon I will remember sent its soldiers to protect the borders; confronted daily frustrations to build businesses and to educate its children; and showed extraordinary generosity to outsiders, be they ambassadors or refugees. The Lebanon I will remember is not asking for help, but for oxygen. It is not arguing over the past, but over the future. It is not debating which countries hold it back, but how to move forward. It is not blaming the world, but embracing it. People will look back at what we have come through and ask how Lebanon survived? But we already know the answer: never underestimate the most resilient people on the planet. A people that has, for millennia, beaten the odds.

I hope you will also look back and say that the Brits helped you to hold your corner. Giving those soldiers the training and equipment to match their courage. Giving those pupils the books to match their aspiration. Giving those businesses the networks to match their ambition. Building international conspiracies for Lebanon, not against it. And above all, believing you would beat the odds. Four years: 100 times the financial support, ten times the military support, double the trade. We even helped Walid Joumblatt join Twitter.

What could the West have done differently? Many of you have a long list. We are at last feeling ourselves to a serious conversation with Iran, and a credible political process that leaves Syrians with more than the barrel bomber and the box office brutality of Da’esh. I hope President Obama can deliver his aim of a Palestinian state with security and dignity. I hope we can talk to our enemies as well as our friends – aka diplomacy. I hope we rediscover an international system that aspires to protect the most vulnerable: the problem with an ethical foreign policy was not the ambition but the execution, and Syria must not be RIP R2P. The driving quest of diplomacy is for imperfect ways to help people not kill each other. Let’s not give up on the idea that the Middle East can find security, justice and opportunity. I hope other countries reflect on what they could do differently too.

They say that Lebanon is a graveyard for idealism. Not mine. It has been a privilege to share this struggle with you. I believe you can defy the history, the geography, even the politics. You can build the country you deserve. Maybe even move from importing problems to exporting solutions. The transition from the civil war generation lies ahead, and will be tough. You can’t just party and pray over the cracks. But you can make it, if you have an idea of Lebanon to believe in. You need to be stronger than the forces pulling you apart. Fight for the idea of Lebanon, not over it.

And we need you to fight hard. Reading your history in a musty Oxford library over four years ago, I realised that if we cannot win the argument for tolerance and diversity in Lebanon, we will lose it everywhere. That’s why we’ve helped – it is in our national interest too. This is the frontline for a much bigger battle. The real dividing line is not between Christianity and Islam, Sunni and Shia, East and West. It is between people who believe in coexistence, and those who don’t.

So if the internet doesn’t work, build a new internet. If the power supply doesn’t work, build a new power supply. If the politics don’t work, build a new politics. If the economy is mired in corruption and garbage piles up, build a new economy. If Lebanon doesn’t work, build a new Lebanon. It is time to thrive, not just survive.

I worried I was too young for this job. I discovered I was too old. We experimented on Twitter – first tweet-up with a PM, with a diva, first RT of a Western diplomat by the President of Iran, online scraps with terrorists and satirists, #Leb2020 and much more. I hope it amplified our impact in an authentic, engaging and purposeful way. I have banged on about how digital will change diplomacy. Someone should write a book about how it will also change power, and how we can marshall it to confront the threats to our existence. Now there’s an idea.

You gave me Bekaa sunrises and Cedars sunsets. You gave me the adventure of my life, and plenty of reasons to fear for it. You gave me extraordinary friends, and you took some away. I loved your hopeless causes and hopeful hearts, shared your tearful depths and your breathless heights.

There are eight stages of life as an ambassador here. Seduction. Frustration. Exhilaration. Exhaustion. Disaffection. Infatuation. Addiction. Resignation. I knew them all, often simultaneously. I wouldn’t have swapped it for anywhere in the world. I and the brilliant embassy team are still buying shares in Lebanon 2020. I’m finishing my time as an Ambassador to Lebanon, but with your permission I’ll always be an ambassador for Lebanon.

Many of you ask me why I remain positive about this country. All I ever tried to do was hold a mirror up and show you how beautiful you really are. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Please stay in touch.

3asha Lubnan

Yalla, bye

No one picking up the garbage?

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It seems that Lebanese people are feeling the effect when you elect the wrong person to do the job. They are feeling the effect of electing people because they belong to their sect, town, political party … Without checking their history or how this person can help the country. They feeling it not because the deputies can’t elect a president, appoint an army commander, …. They feeling it because there is no one picking up the garbage from the streets. Do I need to repeat why the country reached this low-level? I wouldn’t. I just leave you with what George Orwell once wrote: ” A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims … but accomplices.”