Tag Archives: Lebanon

charles-malik-note

2013 closed on yet another assassination

2013 closed on a yet another ugly picture, the assassination of ex-minister Mohamad Chatah. How many car explosions and assassinations do Lebanese need to stand up together and restore the sovereignty of the country? How many innocent people need to be killed so the Lebanese will understand that they MUST find a way to coexist together.  When will Lebanese realize that the country is not heading to civil war, we are already fighting one. Assassinations, bombings, clashes, weapons all over, ….

What is sickening is that the Lebanese will never learn. 30 plus years of war and they learned nothing. The country was invaded by Israel and Syria and they learned nothing. They lived under occupation and they learned nothing. They knew what civil war is and they learned nothing. They know the toll that a military strife and they learned nothing.

It seems they enjoy being the lackey of regional and international powers. It seems they love to bow and serve foreign masters. They treat their political leaders as Gods. Each section wants to silence the other section of the community. Each group thinks it holds the ultimate truth and a sacred cause. Each group has its own Lebanon. Its own vision of Lebanon.

Many Lebanese, they just want to live. Live in peace and with dignity. they want to build a better future.  They hold Lebanon in high esteem. many will say Lebanon is like the Phoenix bird, it obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. But do we really have to repeat this resurrection over and over? Isn’t in enough that we paid the price several times already?

The solution is very simple, Charles Malek wrote few years ago (see attached picture in Arabic) that in order to have a free, sovereign and independent Lebanon, we need to have these criteria:

  • Lebanon doesn’t follow any country
  • Lebanon doesn’t take an enemy in order to please befriend another
  • If he was told: “We befriend you but you must become the enemy of another”, Lebanon should refuse such proposition.

Neutrality is important but in order to treat the division in Lebanon, we must change the political system that been running Lebanon to the ground. Its about time, to really look into federalism as a tool to unite the country and put it back on the right track. It is about time that we recognize the political and religious reality of the country.

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To bomb or not to bomb

For the past two days the news buzz around is “to bomb or not to bomb”. According to American intelligence sources, Assad regime used chemicals weapons on his people. The results over 1,400 people killed. A friend wrote on his Facebook status something interesting and maybe many had missed. He asked how come the U.S. is ready to bomb now when a chemical weapon was used and didn’t intervene while thousands died in the past 2 years. He asks what is the difference between killing with a bullet or a bomb and being killed by a chemical agent.

I replied to his status about the radicalization of the Syrian opposition and how the western media and intelligence reports state that Jabhat al-Nusra is leading the opposition in several parts of Syria. What I get is an ignorant reply from another member concerning Sunnite-Shiite. Well this ignorant and his reply are not worth debating here.

I would like to raise another point, how come the U.S. gave Syrian a free hand in Lebanon from 1976 to 2005? How come the U.S. allowed the Syrians to kill thousands of Lebanese, displaced half of the population, assassinated any political leaders that opposed the occupation, kidnapped thousands … ? When this Syrian regime sided with the U.S. in its war against Iraq ( In August of 1990 Iraq invaded its neighboring country of Kuwait), it was given the green light to launch aerial and ground attacks and occupied the last free regions in Lebanon.

In short, human lives do not count when there is a common interest. The Syrian regime should have been stopped long long long time ago. It shouldn’t have been allowed to enter Lebanon in 1976, it should have not given Lebanon as a trophy for siding with the U.S. in its war in Iraq.

Are the lives of those killed in Lebanon during the Syrian occupation and those who died in Syria in the past two years are less important than those who were killed by the use of a chemical weapon?

How come U.S. officials had no problem sitting on one table and sharing bread (see picture) with a president and a regime that they know have killed thousands of people and they just remembered yesterday that its an ugly and monstrous regime?

 

 

 

Who killed them?

Yesterday, they assassinated Brigadier-General Wissam al-Hassan. Before him, they killed Rafik al-Hariri, Bassel Fleihan , Samir Kassir, George Hawi, Gibran Tueni, Pierre Gemayel, Walid Eido, Antoine Ghanem, Brigadier-General Francois Hajj. They also attempted to assassinate Marwan Hamadeh, Elias Murr and May Chidiac. The majority of the Lebanese point their fingers to Syria and its agents in Lebanon and accuse them for executing these assassinations. Few fingers point at Israel. The majority might be right but there is something important that the Lebanese are missing. They are the one behind these assassinations.

You killed them as well as those who were assassinated before them and every innocent Lebanese who was at the crime scene at the wrong moment. By you, I mean all of those who divided the Lebanese people between March 14 and March 8 groups and their supporters. Every single person who pledged alliance to a political leader who in return is serving the interests of foreign countries and projects that do not serve Lebanon. Every Lebanese who stands in line in front of Lebanese politicians’ houses and bow in front of them hoping he will get a job for his son, to solve a personnel problem, to get financial aid to pay for his kids tuition… Each one of you who breaks the law every single day, pays or accepts bribery…. I blame each one of you for re-electing the same people or their sons after them to rule you.

You stand with those who divide the country and you complain about the division. You add to insults, attacks, increase the schism between Lebanese communities and you complain about what the others are doing to you. You support illegal weapons and complain about either Hezbollah weapons or March 14 weapons (depends on the side you are on).

I blame you for all these assassinations because not only you failed to create a change but you support politicians who only survive on division and chaos.

You barley came out from a civil war and you are eager to plunge all of us in a new one. Enough is enough.

Our True Colors

The Lebanese flag was adapted on December 7th, 1943 prior to independence from France. It was designed to be a neutral flag, not allied to any one of Lebanon’s religious groups. The flag of Lebanon consists of two red stripes at the top and at the bottom. In the middle portion of the Lebanese flag there is a white band with a fully green cedar tree. Article 5 of the Lebanese Constitution sattes:  “Two red-colored bands symbolizing martyrdom, surround horizontally a white-colored band, symbol of the Lebanese snow-capped mountain peaks; in the center of the flag, the cedar tree that characterized Lebanon since its birth, serving to build temples and ships, thus inspiring immortality and tolerance. Some people tend to use the color brown when drawing the trunk of the Cedar. This is a common mistake, the Cedar tree should be drawn in green.”
These are the colors of Lebanon and their meaning according to the Lebanese Constitution.

In reality, Lebanese colors are affected by the diversity of religious sects, the religious basis of social organization and political affiliations.  The Lebanese are more loyal to their political and religious leader more than to the country. They will die for that leader as well as for the country. Their willingness to stand and fight for the country differs between different groups. One party, for example will see Syria as an enemy and the opposite party sees it as an ally. Same goes to Israel and basically to every country in the world.  Currently, Lebanon is divided in two clans: March 14 and March 8. Each clan has different party with different religious and political affiliations. Both clans claim that they are working for freedom of Lebanon. Yet both are pulling in different directions and each has different regional and International allies. They only common thing between both clans is stepping on Lebanon sovereignty. After the Syrian uprising started in March 2011, the division became clearer. March 8 group staunchly supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while March 14 group would like to see Mr. Assad overthrown. As usual, due to the division in the Lebanese society and political arena, foreign countries were able to find elements to play their dirty games. Both factions opened their doors (Lebanese borders) to send weapons, fighters, Mujahedin … to the fighting factions inside Syria. They think that they are doing a favour for Lebanon by wearing Iranians, Syrians, Saudis, Qataris, and Turkish … colors. In the name of ideology (that can change in a second) and plenty of dollars, the sovereignty of the country can be stepped upon.

What did we end up with today? A more divided country, full of weapons and on the verge of another civil war, in the name of freedom and sovereignty of Lebanon.

Freedom and sovereignty can’t be preserved:

  • by building a state inside a state
  • by allowing foreign fighters to enter Lebanon
  • by taken orders from foreign countries
  • by being financed by regional countries
  • by assassination attempts
  • by defending other colors than Lebanon colors

Is it time to wear our “True Colors”? Before asking this question, we need to step back and ask more fundamentals questions. What is Lebanon? Why it should be a country? What kind of Lebanon we want? What is the purpose of building a new Lebanon? Is Lebanon a viable country? Do Lebanese belong to one nation? Do Lebanese belong to one culture? Can Lebanese build a nation? Can they build a country? Can they build a country that respects its different cultures?

These questions take me back to the document “The Lebanon we want to build” issued by the Lebanese Front on the 23rd of December 1980. Thirty two years passed on that document and yet we can still adapt its text today. The introduction of the document says: “Three issues are decisively at stake today: the survival of the state of Lebanon as a free, independent and sovereign state; the survival of the society of Lebanon as a free, open and pluralist society; and the survival of the Christian community of Lebanon a free and secure, enjoying complete mastery over its own values and destiny. How to avert these three dangers is precisely what is meant by the term “the Lebanese Cause”. If the political independence of Lebanon should be overwhelmed or undermined, if its free society should be altered so as to conform to the pattern of the other societies of the Middle East, and if its Christian community should cease to be master of itself and its destiny, as it has been in the past, a major transformation in the balance of forces in the Middle East would result.”
One section of this document addressed the Lebanese society. Any change in the country future must start from its own society. The document says:

“The new society of the Lebanon we want to build shall be characterized by the following features: lofty morals; responsible freedom; truthfulness; respect for others; placing the common good above the individual good; curbing material greed; the supremacy of law; promoting community spirit and cohesiveness; social justice; enlarging the scope of social security, and the example of the leaders.”

I strongly believe that the featured stated above are the only ways to create a change in the country. The change will not come from the groups that are taking Lebanon to another civil war. We, as Lebanese, must “implant these virtues, and all that goes with them, through the family, the school, popular literature and art, the public media of information, social intercourse, and the law.”
It is up to us to start this project; no one else will do it for us. Regional and foreign countries only care about their own interests. It is only the “Lebanese hands … They can convulse the entire world if they determine to organize the vast Lebanese potential here and abroad methodically, meticulously and responsibly, without allowing a single particle of it to be dissipated.”

Didn’t we have enough of wars, division, bickering … and wearing others colors? Isn’t about time to wear our true colors? It is imperative that discussion lines should be opened among Lebanese society away from the current political parties in order to establish a way to implant these virtues in our country.

Division on every single issue

Is it election year? Are they all flexing their muscles for votes? Are they really divided on these major issues? In any case, what they are doing and saying will lead to total destruction.
You have Lebanese supporting Islamists, Jihadists, Salafist, … in their demonstrations, sit-ins, roads blocking and others opposing.
You have Lebanese demonstrating in support of the Lebanese army and other opposing.
You have Lebanese shooting as a sign of joy when they heard the news about the death of Syrian officials and others call them martyrs.
Some see Hezbollah and March 8 as a resistance and others see them as agents to Iran and Syria.
Some are supporting the Syrian Mujahedden and their Salafist supporters in Lebanon and others oppose this support.
Some condemns the attack on Manar TV reporters while others condemns the attack on MTV reporters.
The best part is that each group supports something and yet oppose the others in their support to a similar thing but on the opposite side.
Yet they all talk about democracy, human rights, right to oppose, ….
One side sees criminals, the other sees martyrs.
One side sees collaborators, the other sees resistance.
And vice versa …
Great Future you are building for this country. All you have to do is open any Lebanese newspaper that dates 1974-1975 and you will see the same headlines. What happened in 1975 led to April 13 and the start of a civil war. A war that took many shapes, colors, …. and the result was years of wars and occupations.
Did the politicians learn anything from that war? Did the Lebanese people learn anything from it?
Looking at the news headlines and listening to politicians supporters makes me believe that all they learned is “let us wage another civil war in the name of God, The leader, the sect, the religion, the Ummah, the khilafa, the West, Democracy, …..”

Stop it Now before it’s too late


Someone posted this picture on Facebook. The message is clear but to whom it is directed? Who is going to STOP the madness in Lebanon before the countries sink back into civil war? The message can’t be directed to Lebanese politicians. Those are part of the problem. They are the one fuelling the fighting in the country. Go back to early 70′s, to 1958 and you will find out that it was the politicians who always throw oil on the fire. They keep doing it because they know they can get away with it. The Lebanese politicians can start a war that kill thousands, destroy the country and once it is over they will shake hands and rule in time of peace.
The civil war is around the corner. Syrian’s events are about to blow up the country. We have politicians who are ready to sink into the cycle of death in the name of hating the Assad regime or defending it. Who is to blame for the current situation? I don’t blame Assad, Iran, the U.S, …. I don’t blame the Lebanese politicians or the warlords. I blame the Lebanese population. Why do you allow the politicians to take your country to civil war? Why do you allow warlords to have their own militias? Why do you always allow them to import the wars of others to your country? Why do you allow them to turn your country to a place where other countries settle scores with each others? Why do you allow them to turn you to tools in their hands? There are four types of Lebanese:

1- Blind followers
2- Those that do nothing to change the situation
3- Real seekers of change
4- Those who do not give a damn

For sure the first group will not STOP IT NOW. So far, group number “2″ (which I always imagine to be the majority. But I am not sure they are) never attempted to stop anything. Instead, in the past two elections, they elected the politicians that do nothing but import wars to Lebanon. Looking back at the past elections and their outcome makes me belief that there is no silent majority of Lebanon. The majority is as damaged as the leaders are. They have no problem electing to office people who gave orders to kill other Lebanese. They have no problem electing politicians who in time of disaster either they do nothing or become part of the disaster. The majority has no problem to be involved in rigged elections where $200 can buy a vote.
So who will STOP IT NOW? Is group number “3″ able to make a change? Is this group is able to influence group “2″ and “4″. Can they come up with a plan to show the rest that war is never a solution? Can some Lebanese convince others that it is not right to stand still and watch the country heading to total self destruction?

Don’t you think it is about time to put a plan and group the “Independent” and those who care into a movement that lead the real change in the country? Don’t you think that your children’s future deserve a try? I call upon those who say they “Love Lebanon” to act in order to “STOP IT NOW”.

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)”.

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

Am[erican]embassy, 
Constantinople.

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.