Lebanon to restart oil, gas licensing round and it smells fishy

In its first sitting since being formed in December, Lebanon’s new cabinet passed two decrees on Wednesday defining the blocks and specifying conditions for production and exploration tenders and contracts. In a record time, the ministers went over 600 pages document and passed those decrees. Was the deal and the shares been distributed before hand? How can a new government that barley met, ministers didn’t even have the time to look at their own ministries, can go over 600 pages in couple of hours? When did ministers have the time to study the file? Many of them just returned from Christmas and New Year vacation !!

It doesn’t sound right to me. Yet, the country needs to start the offshore digging in order to know how much oil and gas the fields will produce. In addition, the country’s economy is near collapsing. the public debt is around US$ 69.02 billion (2015 numbers). Add to that the cost of hosting 1 million Syrian refugees. Oil and gas will create jobs and hopefully will lift the economy, pay the debt and make the living of the Lebanese people with fewer burdens.

The problem is not the quantity of oil and gas, it’s the political system we have and corruption. In our current status, public funds are mismanaged and mostly stolen. Lebanon doesn’t have the tools, laws and clean people in the right place to avoid what happened in other countries. Vast sums of money from national accounts in some oil- and gas-producing countries evaporated.

Lebanon that we have today will not be able to control theft, bribery and state-wide corruption. I’m pretty sure that the current political system will mishandled the oil and gas sector and the squanders of the potential revenues. According to Transparency International 2015 report,  Lebanon ranked 123 out of 168 countries. The country scored 28 over 100 in public sector corruption.

Before digging, we must have a change in the political representation. Those who are corrupt can’t and shouldn’t be allowed to handle the oil and gas file. So we need the following:

  • New fair electoral vote
  • Clean elections
  • New government based on election results
  • Transparency laws
  • Methods to end corruption and misuse of funds and public resources
  • Laws that allows the public access to information
  • Establishing a company that represents the country in the agreements with companies who will be doing the exploration and excavation.
  • Sending students and workers to get training in the sector of oil and gas.
  • The company that will represent the country should open specialized university to teach students skills that will be required for the industry.
  • Limit the numbers of foreigners and force the companies to use mainly Lebanese workforce

 

Since the independence

Since Lebanon became an independent country, the Kataeb party was the party of the president. It always supported the president of the republic. Few month ago, Sami Gemayel was elected the head of the party.   Since then he has been fighting the wrong battle and taking wrong decisions. He accepted to be part of a Hizbullah government and by the end. Of thrthe government life he decided to pull out the ministers that represent the party in the government. To make the story short, he lost couple of ministers.  He waged a wrong timed war on garbage collection, the result tons of garbage stayed on the streets and he never presented a solution. Few weeks ago, he opposed the election of Aoun as president of the country and acted like a jackass during the election (nothing close to his grandlpa class act or uncle). The little boy was pissed because his dad wasn’t elected as president. Yet, little Sami is crying foul because the Kataeb might not have a minister In the new government. Yesterday, his group were caught covering the picture of the newly elected president by Sami’s picture. Moral of the story: if your grandfather was a great political ma and your uncle  was an amazing leader it doesn’t mean you are capable of being a fraction of what they were.

Leadership

Dr. Charles Malek once wrote about Leadership:

LEADERSHIP

by Dr. Charles H. Malik

I respect all men, and it is from disrespect for none that I say there are no great leaders in the world today. In fact, greatness itself is laughed to scorn. You should not be great today- you should sink yourself into the herd, you should not be distinguished from the crowd, you should simply be one of the many.

The commanding voice is lacking. The voice which speaks little, but which when it speaks, speaks with compelling moral authority- this kind of voice is not congenial to this age. The age flattens and levels down every distinction into drab uniformity. Respect for the high, the noble, the great, the rare, the specimen that appears once every hundred or every thousand years, is gone. Respect at all is gone! If you ask whom and what people do respect, the answer is literally nobody and nothing. This is simply an unrespecting age- it is the age of utter mediocrity. To become a leader today, even a mediocre leader, is a most uphill struggle. You are constantly and in every way and from every side pulled down. One wonders who of those living today will be remembered a thousand years from now- the way we remember with such profound respect Plato, and Aristotle, and Christ, and Paul, and Augustine, and Aquinas.

If you believe in prayer, my friends, and I know you do, then pray that God send great leaders, especially great leaders of the spirit.

A great leader suffers in a hundred different ways, and keeps his suffering to himself.

A great leader survives both his suffering and the fact that nobody knows anything about it.

A great leader loves being alone with God.

A great leader communes with the deepest the ages have known.

A great leader knows there is a higher and there is a lower, and he always seeks the higher, and indeed the highest.

A great leader fights against the spiritual forces of darkness and disintegration, both in his own soul and in the world.

A great leader overcomes himself, rises above himself, daily, minutely.

A great leader is very polite, but he never tones down the truth just to please others.

A great leader never seeks fanfare and publicity- they come to him, and often he rejects them.

A great leader never craves the approval of the world- in fact he often intentionally provokes its disapproval.

A great leader hitches his wagon to the remote, the unattainable, the stars.

A great leader does not worship quantity, multiplicity, perpetual motion- he stubbornly sticks to the one or at most two ultimate truths that there are.

A great leader is very simple, but the moral force of his conviction shines through every tone of his voice and every gesture of his hand.

A great leader lets the oneness of his interest burst forth with endless creativity.

A great leader is absolutely fearless- fearless because he fears only God.

A great leader loves, not sentimentally, not by making an effort, but with the effortless overflow of God’s love for him.

A great leader identifies himself with, and is not ashamed of, the deepest in his own tradition.

A great leader is never disturbed by the fact that other traditions too have their own deepest.

A great leader is decisive, yet with the utmost tentativeness and tenderness.

A great leader, under God, does not care if he is crucified- there is something he knows and sees in the distance infinitely more important than to avoid crucifixion.

A great leader knows what the Bible calls “the fullness of the time”, I mean the time in which he lives, and God gives him the grace and the power to fulfill that fullness.

You insult a leader if you call him great; he does not want your judgment; he wants only to please God.

A great leader calls forth the most secret and the most sacred impulses of those whom he leads.

A great leader leads those who are not even aware that they follow him, but only rejoice in the fact that he leads them.

A great leader is at the forefront of danger, be it physical or moral danger, when danger strikes.

A great leader heals….

And so, if we really believe, my friends, we should pray, and work together, and accept suffering and sacrifice, and we should have the courage of our convictions when it comes to the deepest we know.

For the greatest single evil today is this blanket of fear and intimidation spread all over the world, so that people do not dare to stand up for their convictions.

But nothing great has ever been accomplished in history, nor indeed can it ever be accomplished, except through fearless courage in the face of the greatest terrorization. This is the now-forgotten way of how really to live- I mean, the way of the Cross. The world needs today the unterrorized man- indeed, the unterrorizable man.

… I pray you all to consider on your knees how much God has blessed you and how much you therefore owe him.

For you owe him everything. And once we realize how much we owe God, then, since we can never give him anything commensurate in return, we can at least pay him back tears of gratitude and love.

On the 80th Memory of Gebran Khalil Gebran

I leave you with his own words:

khalil_gibranMy Countrymen

What do you seek, my countrymen?
Do you desire that I build for You gorgeous palaces, decorated With words of empty meaning, or Temples roofed with dreams? Or Do you command me to destroy what The liars and tyrants have built? Shall I uproot with my fingers What the hypocrites and the wicked
Have implanted? Speak your insane Wish!
What is it you would have me do, My countrymen? Shall I purr like The kitten to satisfy you, or roar Like the lion to please myself? I Have sung for you, but you did not Dance; I have wept before you, but You did not cry. Shall I sing and Weep at the same time?

Your souls are suffering the pangs Of hunger, and yet the fruit of Knowledge is more plentiful than The stones of the valleys.
Your hearts are withering from  Thirst, and yet the springs of Life are streaming about your Homes — why do you not drink?

The sea has its ebb and flow, The moon has its fullness and Crescents, and the ages have Their winter and summer, and all Things vary like the shadow of
An unborn god moving between Earth and sun, but truth cannot Be changed, nor will it pass away; Why, then, do you endeavour to Disfigure its countenance?

I have called you in the silence Of the night to point out the Glory of the moon and the dignity Of the stars, but you startled From your slumber and clutched
Your swords in fear, crying, “Where is the enemy? We must kill Him first!” At morningtide, when the enemy came, I called to you Again, but now you did not wake From your slumber, for you were Locked in fear, wrestling with The processions of specters in Your dreams.

And I said unto you, “Let us climb To the mountain top and view the Beauty of the world.” And you Answered me, saying, “In the depths Of this valley our fathers lived, And in its shadows they died, and in Its caves they were buried. How can We depart this place for one which They failed to honor?”

And I said unto you, “Let us go to The plain that gives its bounty to The sea.” And you spoke timidly to Me, saying, “The uproar of the abyss Will frighten our spirits, and the Terror of the depths will deaden Our bodies.”

I have loved you, my countrymen, but My love for you is painful to me And useless to you; and today I Hate you, and hatred is a flood That sweeps away the dry branches And quavering houses.

I have pitied your weakness, my Countrymen, but my pity has but Increased your feebleness, exalting And nourishing slothfulness which Is vain to life. And today I see Your infirmity which my soul loathes And fears.

I have cried over your humiliation And submission, and my tears streamed
Like crystalline, but could not sear Away your stagnant weakness; yet they
Removed the veil from my eyes.
My tears have never reached your Petrified hearts, but they cleansed The darkness from my inner self.

Today I am mocking at your suffering, For laughter is a raging thunder that
Precedes the tempest and never comes After it.

What do you desire, my countrymen?
Do you wish for me to show you The ghost of your countenance on The face of still water? Come, Now, and see how ugly you are!

Look and meditate! Fear has Turned your hair grey as the Ashes, and dissipation has grown Over your eyes and made them into Obscured hollows, and cowardice
Has touched your cheeks that now Appear as dismal pits in the Valley, and death has kissed Your lips and left them yellow As the autumn leaves.

What is it that you seek, my Countrymen? What ask you from Life, who does not any longer Count you among her children?
Your souls are freezing in the Clutches of the priests and Sorcerers, and your bodies Tremble between the paws of the Despots and the shedders of Blood, and your country quakesUnder the marching feet of the Conquering enemy; what may you Expect even though you stand Proudly before the face of the Sun? Your swords are sheathed With rust, and your spears are Broken, and your shields are
Laden with gaps, why, then, do You stand in the field of battle?

Hypocrisy is your religion, and Falsehood is your life, and Nothingness is your ending; why, Then, are you living? Is not Death the sole comfort of the
Miserable?

Life is a resolution that Accompanies youth, and a diligence That follows maturity, and a Wisdom that pursues senility; but You, my countrymen, were born old And weak. And your skins withered And your heads shrank, whereupon
You become as children, running Into the mire and casting stones Upon each other.

Knowledge is a light, enriching The warmth of life, and all may Partake who seek it out; but you, My countrymen, seek out darkness And flee the light, awaiting the
Coming of water from the rock, And your nation’s misery is your Crime. I do not forgive you Your sins, for you know what you Are doing.

Humanity is a brilliant river Singing its way and carrying with It the mountains’ secrets into The heart of the sea; but you, My countrymen, are stagnant Marshes infested with insects And vipers.

The spirit is a sacred blue Torch, burning and devouring The dry plants, and growing With the storm and illuminating The faces of the goddesses; but
You, my countrymen, your souls Are like ashes which the winds Scatter upon the snow, and which The tempests disperse forever in The valleys.

Fear not the phantom of death, My countrymen, for his greatness And mercy will refuse to approach Your smallness; and dread not the Dagger, for it will decline to be Lodged in your shallow hearts.

I hate you, my countrymen, because You hate glory and greatness. I Despise you because you despise Yourselves. I am your enemy, for You refuse to realize that you are The enemies of the goddesses.

21 days are short …..

I will not talk about him or how and where I met him. He doesn’t need my introduction. Bachir Gemayel doesn’t need any introduction. I’ll leave you with this song …

Kataeb party and rape

"There are certain circumstances where we need to ask ourselves if women have a role in pushing men to rape them" MP Marouni
“There are certain circumstances where we need to ask ourselves if women have a role in pushing men to rape them” MP Marouni

Lebanese MP Elie Marouni blames Lebanese women for getting raped. When asked about the Lebanese penal code law that stipulates that a rapist can marry his victim whereby absolving him of his crime. His reply was as follows:  “There are certain circumstances where we need to ask ourselves if women have a role in pushing men to rape them,” Marouni said. Hey idiot, there are no circumstances. Rape is rape and its a crime. Marouni is a chauvinist pig. Rape is never the victim fault. Rape is the fault of those who committed this ugly crime and specially the fault of people like MP Marouni.

Women do not ask to be raped. Neither by the way they dress, the way they behave or their line of work. It is sickening to hear an MP blaming a victim of a crime for the crime that someone else committed against them.

Here we have, an MP that represents the Kataeb party, covering rape. What will be the position of the party? Do they agree with his position? If Marouni is not asked to resign and kicked out of the Kataeb party, then it is clear that the party, its leader Sami Gemayel and all Kataeb members are defending rapists.

My question to all members of the Kataeb party, from Sami to the newest recruit, when will you kick this chauvinist pig from the party and force him to resign as an MP?

September the Martyr’s month – part 3

imageI knew him from my street. His parents had a convenient store. We were not friends, he was older than me. He impressed me growing up. When I used to wait for my school bus, he passes by me, returning from the front, under the dark early morning of Ein el Remmeneh. He was in almost every battle that was there prior to his death. Iqlim war, mountain war, aswak …. But mostly Ein el Remmeneh front. It was one block away from our street. We exchanged the good mornings and that was the only exchange between us. He was respected. He did his duty and went home. Never got into a fight or bragged about this battle or not. Between all the show off, he was a silent doer. Then came the division after Bachir’s death. It was the second intifada. Geagea vs Hobeika. I still remember when a military jeep pulled up in front of his apartment. He didn’t want to go but they insisted. It was a fight he is not interested in fighting. He wasn’t willing to fight his brothers. They insisted and almost forced him. Few hours later the bad news game. He was killed in a battle that wasn’t supposed to happen. He was killed in brother’s fight. A fight, he didn’t want to be part of.  For those fighters who died in a senseless fight and for you Jean Khoury all the respect. You were sacrificed for nothing ….