Security Issue again and again

I tackled this subject before The percentage of criminals in Lebanon. Yesterday the Interior Minister of Lebanon, Marwan Charbel (with tears in his eyes) said: “The security situation has reached a very dangerous stage.” If you read the criminal section in any Lebanese Newspaper you will find 40-50 arrest done per day due to criminal crimes. The minister added that the security forces are incapable of controlling the situation. My dear Minister if the responsible of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) can’t come up with a plan to bring the level of crimes down, why you didn’t fire them? You also said yesterday that the ISF lack numbers and hardware. Dear Minister I do not have the latest numbers of the ISF members but I think in 2008 the number was around 23,500. I am sure you added few thousands in the past 3 years.  So you have around 25,000 members to control a population of 4 millions. We are talking about the ISF only and not other security forces. Do you know dear Minister that New York City Police department has 34,500 to control over 8 million people. Oh by the way, they only carry guns and only special units have MP5. Your ISF have hand guns, AK47….

The minister added that the ISF also needs “Valid Policy”. Well this policy should come from your government. If the government you are in can’t produce a correct policy or political decisions, why are you still part of it? You complained yesterday how some politicize the demand for communication Data for the ISF. Those are ministers in your government. Why you don’t face them in public and if you are not able to do so, again why don’t you resign?

The best part is when asked about al-Qaeda presence in Lebanon, the Minister denied its presence and he added if a person belongs to al-qaeda comes to Lebanon from Yemen and then travels to Syria it doesn’t mean we have al-Qaeda base in Lebanon. Mr. Minister don’t you think that in order for him to do such trip he needs at least a logistic organization that facilitates his transfers? In intelligence dear Minister this means that al-Qaeda has a good logistic base in Lebanon.

Spring is here but Arab Spring is no where to be seen

In early 2011, millions of young Arabs youth took the street from North Africa to the Levant passing by the Gulf to get rid of dictators and corrupt regimes. Dictators were removed in certain countries but spring never came. It seems that the Authoritarian Arab winter is being replaced by Islamist winter. Under their rule democracy as we want it or the Arab world will never see the light. It will not for obvious reason: Religion. Once the heavy boots of dictators were lifted and religious groups and parties were given freedom to work, the first thing they went for is what their religion tells them to do. Some will quote their words with honey and will try to use democratic ways in order to reach the power and once there, things will change. Look at Egypt for example: Threatening to bomb a TV (OnTV) and kill its broadcasters if they don’t change their policy that they claim it is a Zionist one as well as changing their advertisers!
Do you remember the “Breastfeeding Fatwa”, well now another debate is raging in Egypt, the Fatwa of “Having sex with a dead wife”. Yep, you read it right. This fatwa was issued by a Tunisian Sheikh Abed al-Bari al-Zamzami “marriage bonds does not end in death and wives are “Halal” sexually even after her death as it is prescribed for wives to have sex with their husbands, even after six hours of death as well.” What Islamists are trying to do in Egypt? Yep you guessed it, trying to pass a law that follows this fatwa. The Egyptian National Women Council raised its opposition to such law and another one that was also submitted to the parliament “to lower the age of marriage for girls to 14″. We all know that Islamists won the majority in the latest parliamentary election in Egypt.
Wait I am not done yet, Azza al-Jarf, a female Member of Parliament representing the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Freedom and Justice Party,” is trying to abolish several laws currently enjoyed by Egyptian women—including preventing them from divorcing or even separating from their husbands, because “the man has the authority and stewardship”; mandating that fathers must circumcise their daughters; and trying to get the Egyptian educational system to ban the teaching of the English language—on the grounds that it is an “infidel” tongue—while separating boys and girls in classrooms and forcing girls to wear the hijab.
How about Tunisia? Well have you been following the news about Salafist “vigilantes” attacking unveiled women and occupying universities that do not allow the face veil? Do I need to tell you that in Libya, the head of transitional government has promised to bring back polygamy? Did you read or watch the video of Salafist digging up and smashing headstones at a British World War II military cemetery in Libya and destroying a large cross?
These are small examples of plenty of ugly things that some call Arab Spring. These incidents reminded the Christians of the Middle East of what happened to the Christians of Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Instead of founding themselves in a new democratic Iraq, the Christians were scrambling to save themselves from targeted killings.
At least 54 Iraqi churches have been bombed and at least 905 Christians killed in various acts of violence since 2003, according to Archbishop Louis Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church in the northern provinces of Kirkuk and Sulimaniya (interview with the Wall Street Journal). Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled. A report on Iraq released by Minority Rights Group International said that about 500,000 Christians remain in Iraq, down from an estimated 800,000 to 1.4 million in 2003. “It’s a hemorrhage,” Archbishop Sako says. “Iraq could be emptied of Christians.”
When the Lebanese Maronite Patriarch raises his concern about what is going on in the Arab world and expresses his fear that the Arab Spring might turn to an Arab winter, some politicians in Lebanon (to appease their Muslim allies) criticize the Patriarch. They have the new thing now, let the Islamic Brotherhood rule and we will see the results. They do not see anything alarming that The Maronite Patriarch, The Orthodox Patriarch and the Catholic Patriarch are saying the same thing concerning the Arab Winter. They forgot the Lebanese saying “Al Maktoub Byin’ara min 3inweino” (The content of a letter is known by its title).
They remind me of the new Egyptian joke: “An Egyptian dancer was told that the Muslim Brotherhood will rule Egypt. She replied it is ok we will act with them. They told her how? She replied well they will produce Islamic programs on TV and Television and for sure they “Kuffar” (infidels)”.

Thought for the day

Gas price is 40,000 Lebanese Pounds for 20 L.
People get few hours electricity per day.
Rotten meat is what they are fed.
They are dying at the hospitals doors because they need to pay a deposit before they get medical attention. Expired medication sold in pharmacies.
No Jobs. No Safety and Security.
And how the Lebanese react??????
They take the street in support of the Syrian and Bahraini people rights.
Try to understand if you can.

Armenian Genocide 97th anniversary

"This monument, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, was erected with the cooperation of the whole Armenian Community in Lebanon, to celebrate the rebirth of the Armenian nation and to express gratitude to our country, Lebanon - April 24 1969" Bikfaya-Lebanon

Today, thousands of Armenians around the world either took the streets or held memorials to mark the 97th anniversary of the genocide of their kin by Ottoman Turks during World War I. Time will not make people forget what happened to the Armenian population under the Ottoman rule and they shouldn’t. Crimes against humanity should not be wiped out with a pen strike. Moreover, the change from an Empire to a Republic doesn’t mean that the responsibility for this genocide died because of a regime change. The Turkish Republic adopted a policy of dismissing the charge of genocide and denying that the deportations and atrocities had constituted part of a deliberate plan to exterminate the Armenians. The Armenian Genocide was centrally planned and administered by the Turkish government against the entire Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. It was carried out during W.W.I between the years 1915 and 1918. The Armenian people were subjected to deportation, expropriation, abduction, torture, massacre, and starvation. Large numbers of Armenians were methodically massacred throughout the Ottoman Empire. Women and children were abducted and horribly abused. The entire wealth of the Armenian people was expropriated. After only a little more than a year of calm at the end of W.W.I, the atrocities were renewed between 1920 and 1923, and the remaining Armenians were subjected to further massacres and expulsions. Turkey strongly denies the genocide allegations. Letters from 1915 proves that such crimes were going on and a Genocide was underway when foreign diplomats urged the Turks to stop the massacres. The following is an example of a letter sent to the Ottoman administration by U.S. Secretary of State Robert Lansing

Department of State,
Washington May 29, 1915


French Foreign Office requests following notice be given Turkish Government. Quote. May 24th. For about a month the Kurd and Turkish population of Armenia has been massacring Armenians with the connivance and often assistance of Ottoman authorities. Such massacres took place in middle April (?) at Erzerum, Dertchun, Eguine, Akn, Bitlis, Mouch, Sassoun, Zeitoun, and through Cilicia. Inhabitants of about one hundred villages near Van were all murdered. In that city Armenian quarter is besieged by Kurds. At the same time in Constantinople government ill treats inoffensive Armenian population. In view of these new crimes of Turkey against humanity and civilization the Allied governments announce publicly to the Sublime Porte that they will hold personally responsible these crimes all members of the Ottoman government and those of their agents who are implicated in such massacres. Unquote. 

(signed) [William Jennings] Bryan

Up to 1.5 million Armenian were killed during World War I as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart, a claim supported by several other countries. The International Court of Justice equated the Armenian Genocide to the extermination of millions of Jews and Poles during the Nazi rule:

“The Genocide Convention resulted from the inhuman and barbarous practices which prevailed in certain countries prior to and during World War II, when entire religious, racial and national minority groups were threatened with and subjected to deliberate extermination. The practice of genocide has occurred throughout human history. The Roman persecution of the Christians, the Turkish massacres of Armenians, the extermination of millions of Jews and Poles by the Nazis are outstanding examples of the crime of genocide. This was the background when the General Assembly of the United Nations considered the problem of genocide. Not once, but twice, that body declared unanimously that the practice of genocide is criminal under international law and that States ought to take steps to prevent and punish genocide.” ICJ, May 28 1951

The aim of this genocide was to eliminate the Armenian demographic presence in Turkey. In the process, the population of historic Armenia at the eastern extremity of Anatolia was wiped off the map. People were forced to flea into exile. A large group of them came to  Lebanon where they established a new society and contributed to the wealth and improvement of the country.

Today, we find many Lebanese ignoring the fact that current Turkey should be held responsible for those crimes. They ignore this fact for several reasons: religious affiliation, short political gain, ….. and lately Turkey role in support of Syrian revolution. Those who do not acknowledge the genocide they committed are not the one that can be trusted, befriended and specially welcomed to join the European community.

97 years have passed. Today, let us pause for a minute and remember the victims of on of the greatest crimes of the 20Th century.

Draft Parliamentary Elections Law for the Elections of 2013

This is the link for the proposed election law (in English) presented by the Minister of Interior & Municipalities Gen. Marwan Charbel.  The law is based on a system of proportional representation and with several options for the number of constituencies (varies between 10 and 14). I do not agree fully with this law even though I am for a proportional representation. I think the number of deputies should be cut down from 128 to 60. The increase was forced on us by the Syrian regime in order for them to have more control in the parliament under their proposed election law back then. The good thing is that this law doesn’t make Lebanon as one electoral constituency and divides it between 10 or 14. What I refuse is the closed bloc lists. In the proposed law, people must  vote for one closed list (example in Arabic) and from that list they can vote for one or two candidates. People should have the freedom to choose candidates from any list they want. I also do not understand the logic of banning military people from voting!!! They can give their lives for the country but they can’t vote??? This is ridiculous. Moreover, why the voting age can’t be lowered to 18? Young Lebanese drink and drive before 18 and yet they can’t vote??? Another major issue is monitoring the election funds. We all know how funding is abused in Lebanon and votes can be bought. Lebanon must bring independent auditors to monitor the funding & spending of those running in elections.

اعتذر.. منكما

I read this letter and had to post it in Arabic so it will not lose its originality. It is the a letter from Lebanese Forces member, Fadi Chamaty, to his family. He is apologizing for what he put them through during the Lebanese war in the memory of his first arrest by the Lebanese authorities during Syrian hegemony over Lebanon. His staunch adherence to his principles made him and his family to give sacrifices for the cause they believed in. Fadi takes us on a small trip talking about his about the day he met his wife in the LF military School in Ghosta, sleeping as a wife and husband on the floor of his office in Mastita-Jbeil, sleeping on the kitchen floor in the Staff Building in Zouk Mosbih, his arrest … losing a 3 month old baby … missing his daughter First Communion … meeting his wife in prison and how she surprised him when she said “Never surrender … and don’t worry about us”.

تشبه قصتي مع عائلتي، قصص آلاف الشباب اللبنانين الذين آمنوا بمبادئهم وتماهوا في نضالهم لأجلها، حتى لو كان ذلك على حساب عائلاتهم، إستقراراً ماديا ومعنوياً وحتى في بعض الأحيان .. ثمناً دموياً.
ربما لم يتسن للكثيرين منهم، والبعض غمره التراب قبل الأوان، أن يعبّروا لعائلاتهم عما خالجهم من تمزّق داخلي، بين السعي الدؤوب خلف معتقداتهم، وبين الاندماج أكثر بالعائلة، واجبات وعاطفة واحتضاناً.
أنا واحد من هؤلاء، وبكلامي عن زوجتي وإبنتي وما قاستاه، أتخيل أنه سيشبه كلامهم لو حكوا، وسيدركون كما أدركت متأخراً أن العائلة هي الأساس، هي الأهم في الحياة.
بعد اقتراني على طريقة “الخطيفة” من مارلين زوجتي، وكنت تعرّفت اليها في معهد بشير الجميل في غوسطا حيث تابعت دورة تأهيل آمر سرية مع القوات اللبنانية في العام 1988، وكانت هي تعمل في أمانة سر المعهد، عشنا حياتنا في خضّم الأحداث المتلاحقة بعد نهاية حرب الالغاء وفي ظروف لا تشبه حياة المتزوجين بشيء، بل أقرب منها الى حياة العسكر والرفاق.
وخلال قيادتي للكتيبة 62 دائما في القوات اللبنانية وبعدها عند حلّ الميليشيات مفوضاً لمنطقتي جبيل والبترون في التنظيم الجديد والمقر الرئيسي للقوات في مستيتا ـ جبيل، كانت الثكنة هي بيتنا الزوجي ومكتبي غرفة النوم. نفترش أرضه مساء أو نهاراً كباقي الرفاق. حتى في النشاطات والمناورات العسكرية، شاركتني مارلين كعنصر في عمليات الكتيبة وليس كزوجة لها المنزل تتربع سيدة فيه كباقي النساء، بل ساهمت بشجاعة في نقل الاسلحة عبر الحواجز وتخبئتها يوم بادرنا كلّ على همّته الى ذلك. قبل انتقالي الى مبنى أركان قيادة القوات اللبنانية في ذوق مصبح لاستلام مهام مديرية التنشئة في 1993، شاءت الظروف أن نفقد جنيناً عزيزاً في شهره الثالث من العمر، ولم يحُل ذلك دون متابعة نمط حياتنا المتسارع والمرهق.
ففي مبنى الاركان وفي الطبقة الثانية اتخذنا من غرفة المطبخ منامة لنا على سرير من حديد لبضع أشهر، وبعد تصاعد حدّة المضايقات الأمنية على القوات اللبنانية انتقلنا مجدداً إلى مقر الدكتور جعجع في غدراس، وكانت منى إبنتي الوحيدة قد أبصرت النور في الخامس عشر من آب 1993 ولم أستطع يومها حضور ولادتها والاقتراب منها وإحتضانها كباقي الآباء، إذ كنت متوارياً عن أنظار جهاز مخابرات في الجيش اللبناني بعد ورود معطيات عن نيتهم إعتقالي مع رفاق آخرين. في غدراس تابعت ممارسة مهامي في ظروف أصبحت تميل الى عدم الاستقرار أمنياً، من خلال حملة الاعتقالات والمداهمات المستمرة منذ حل الميليشيات واغتيالات طالت الرفيق نديم عبد النور وسليمان عقيقي وحالي مثل حال الكثيرين من كوادر القوات، لا نعرف متى يأتي دورنا إغتيالاً أم إعتقالاً. فكانت أحياناً ليالينا لا تكتمل حيث نكون، فنرحل من مكان الى آخر والعائلة تعاني معنا في كل ذلك. كانت السيارة هي منزل زوجتي تسكن فيها مع منى وتضع فيها أغراضها. بعد إنفجار كنيسة سيدة النجاة واعتقال فؤاد مالك، ازدادت حدة الضغوط الأمنية وصولاً الى محاصرة غدراس.
وفود شعبية تضاءلت شيئا فشيئاً مع تصاعد التدابير الأمنية المحيطة، جو من الارهاب النفسي مهيمن على قواعد القوات، أخبار اعتقالات واتهامات بالجملة، والعائلة الصغيرة بجانبي تتحمل عبء كل ذلك، البيت هو مقر قيادة القوات، والعيلة هي كل الرفاق الذين شاركوا في العناية بابنتي.
لم تتعامل مارلين مع الأمر من منطلق الزوجة فقط، بل كما زوجات الكثيرين من الرفاق اللواتي تشاركن وأزواجهن المبادئ والخيارات ذاتها، وكن السند المعنوي الكبير لهم لا بل شاركنهم في أعمالهم وقمن بأدوار كثيرة عجز عنها أحيانا بعض الرجال. فكانت مارلين صلة الوصل بيننا وبين الرفاق في المناطق، تنتقل من غدراس قاصدة رفيقاً هنا لتحذيره وآخر هناك للاستطلاع منه عن اعتقال حصل، وخلفها في السيارة ترافقها منى إبنة الثمانية أشهر في المقعد المخصص لها، عابرة الحواجز المنتشرة بكثافة، لتجنّب لفت الانتباه.
آخر مكالمة مع مارلين حصلت قبل دقائق من اقتيادي ليل 21 نيسان الى وزارة الدفاع بعد إعتقال جعجع، طلبت منها أن تبلّغ ما استطاعت من الرفاق للتظاهر في اليوم التالي في ساحة الصرح البطريركي في بكركي.. وأن تقبّل عنّي إبنتي منى. ما أقسى تلك اللحظات. لم تستسلم مارلين إزاء ما حصل بعد اعتقالي، وتحمّلت أشد الظروف قساوة: زوج معتقل لا تعرف عنه شيئاً، عبء الاعتناء بطفلة، ليس من مال في حوزتها لتتدبّر أمرها وأجواء قاتمة لا أفق لها. لم يؤثر ذلك عليها في التنقل بين غدراس وقصر العدل وجبيل ووزارة الدفاع، ولم تتوان في إحدى المرات عن رفع صوتها في وجه المدعي العام التمييزي منيف عويدات احتجاجاً على تمنّعه عن إجابتها عن حالي. ولا أنسى بعد ثلاثة أسابيع من اعتقالي أول مقابلة حصلت بيننا في وزارة الدفاع ودامت خمس دقائق فقالت ما لم أتوقعه يومًا منها: “إياك أن تستسلم، ولا تحمل همّنا..”. على مدى أحد عشر عاما وحتى اللحظة، كانت مارلين ومعها إبنتنا شريكتين لي في قناعاتي ونضالي في مقاومة سلطة الأمر الواقع والعمل لإخراج الدكتور جعجع من سجنه، وتحملتا كل تأثيرات ما كنت أقوم به وما زلت. حتى هي لم تفلت من الاستدعاءات والتحقيق معها في مراكز مخابرات الجيش في الفيدار وطرابلس، ومنى لا تزال مشاهد اقتيادي ليلاً أمام ناظريها تطبع في صورة غير مباشرة بعضاً من أفكارها وشخصيتها.
وأذكر أنني تخلفت عن موعد قربانتها الأولى لأنني كنت مع عائلة رمزي عيراني ورفاقه نزرع زيتونة في بشعلة تخليداً لذكراه. لم يغب عن بالي أبداً ما قاسته عيلتي، ولكن كانت القضية قبلها في اولوياتي! لماذا هذا الكلام؟ في الذكرى الثامنة عشرة لاعتقالي الأول أنا ورفاق كُثُر، لا يختلفون عني بما قاسوه هم وعائلاتهم وربما أكثر، والعشرات منهم عانوا الكثير بسببي لأنني أشركتهم في ما أؤمن به، آن الأوان ولو متأخراً، لأقف أمام ما قاسوه من قمع، إهانات، بكاء، إنتظار موحش لعودتي من الاعتقال المتكرر، وظروف معيشية صعبة حُرِمت خلالها من الكثير الكثير.
آن الأوان يا عيلتي الصغيرة أن أعتذر منك. وإعتذاري ليس عن مبادئ وقِيَم آمنت بها وما زلت، إنما عمّا عانيتماه من أجلي، فكنتما على رغم كل شيء السند الكبير الذي حملني دائما على مواجهة ما واجهت، ومقاومة ما قاومت، وفعل ما فعلت. لم أندم على أي خيار اخترته، لأن ضميري وتمسكي بالقِيَم كانا معياراً لكل ذلك. ولو تكرر الماضي لتكررت خياراتي. ندمي الوحيد الذي أحمله غصّة في ثنايا قلبي، هو حرماني إبنتي حناني الأبوي، الذي كانت في أمسّ الحاجة اليه في طفولتها، وكل ذلك يقيناً منّي بأن الظروف ربما حملت في أي لحظة. وداعاً وفراقا قاهراً، ولكنني أخطأت في هذا. هي مختصر لعائلة تشبه قصتها ومعاناتها الكثير من العائلات التي اختار رجالها ونساؤها أن يكونوا في مقدمة خط الدفاع عن القيَم والوجود اللبناني الحر مهما كانت التضحيات.
الشكر لك يا رب. أنك وهبتني الجرأة لأعتذر، والتجارب لكي أتعلّم، وحفظتني وعائلتي.
منى ومارلين، أعتذر منكما. أحبكما.

It is more than weapons and sectarianism …

I just finished reading an opinion written by Diana Mukkaled in Asharq al-Awsat No revolution in Lebanon. Ms. Mukkaled was giving her opinion about the recent hacking of Lebanese governments sites and how this online negative action will not lead to a revolution in the country. For those who didn’t hear the news about the hacking, last Tuesday, 16 Lebanese government ministries were hacked by a group calling itself “Raise Your Voice”. The group posted the following message on the hacked sites:


RYV actions will not lead to any major mobilization in the streets in order to force a change in the country. First of all, RYV posted message that missed a major point. By doing so, The group will not be able to gain supporters from all sides and factions “to break the silence”. The message says“We will not stop until this government’s self-made problems are solved, like the power shortage, water shortage, rise in gas prices and rise in food product prices.” It is true we have all these problems but RYV committed a mistakes in this message. These problems are not  “self-made” by “this government”. It is fair to say that this government doesn’t know how to solve these problems in a decent way or some of its elements are part of the problem. But it is totally wrong to say that these problems are made by “this government”. The problems are made by corruption, wrong planning, negligence … you name it … of previous governments. If we look back from the first Hariri government in 1992 to this current government, we will notice that in 1992 the National public  debt was 4382 billion Lebanese pounds and in 2011 the debt reached 80.496 trillion Lebanese pounds. You do the math. Now, can anyone tell us where these trillions Lebanese pounds were spent? What did previous governments use this money for? Shortage of water, shortage of electricity, shortage of jobs, shortage of public transportation, shortage of infrastructure, shortage of sewage plants, shortage of garbage plants, …. in 2012 and yet 80.496 trillion pounds are no where to be seen. RYV message is wrong while the intentions might be good. Due to the divisions in the country, people who side with this government will not join RYV in their call. Even though these people are also affected by the crimes, corruption, injustice, …  In order for a group to raise support around noble causes, it needs to be politically neutral and doesn’t side with a political group against another. Lebanon economic, infrastructure, …. are not new and for sure not the works of only one government. What is holding the country form improving and finding solutions is the  politicization of the problems by political leaders to use against each others in order to gain public support and few voters.

Ms. Mukkaled ended her article with “Weapons, sectarianism, corruption, and the fears of minorities are all helping to divide Lebanon. These divisions will not allow online activists to do anything more than celebrate their sporadic hacking operations, and thus Lebanon will remain outside the revolutionary flock.” I do agree with her opinion but I will add to it “IGNORANCE”. The ignorance of the Lebanese people is the major problem. It is the one that produces weapons, sectarianism, corruption, and fear. Lebanese, on individual level and if left alone, they can produce amazing things. Put them in their environment next to their feudal Lords and they become a bunch of ignorant. They stop analyzing, looking at things in different prospective and presenting good solutions. All they do is rally behind their feudal lords and clap for them even if they turn 180 degrees several times per day. Richard Shenkman said once that political ignorance is often conflated with “stupidity.” Fifty plus years before him, Anthony Downs demonstrated that it is rational to be ignorant: if it’s costly to learn something and there are no personal benefits from the information gained, then ignorance is the best strategy. For those who study Rational Ignorance, they need to change its definition: “Deliberate choice of a person not to acquire (not to pay attention to) a certain kind of information because of its cost in terms of time and effort that yields little or no benefit.” If they study Lebanese Rational Ignorance they will come up with the following definition: “Deliberate choice of a person not to acquire (not to pay attention to) a certain kind of information because of its cost in terms of time, and effort that yields little or no benefit to the political leader.”

“Ignorance is the mother of all evils.” Francois Rabelais