Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah, Interviews, Israel, Lebanon, March 14

An Interview With Gary Gambill

Gary Gambill, current editor of Mideast Monitor and former editor of the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, is one of the sharpest commentators on Lebanese affairs. His analysis is always meticulously well researched and well written, and I’ve enjoyed reading him for years. This interview was conducted over email. Please feel free to respond with your own questions, and perhaps Gary will take some time to engage the readership in the comment section.

In other news, I’ll be giving a talk about Lebanese electoral reform at Stanford University’s Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, this Thursday at 12:00 PM. Feel free to stop by if you’re in the area. And finally, check out Jesse Aizenstat’s iPad ebook about surfing and politics in the Middle East.

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QN: In your recent article, Dreaming of Damascus, you argued that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could not sign a peace deal with Israel because this would undermine the legitimacy of his Alawite regime in a Sunni-majority country.

GG: Well, I argued that the unique sectarian composition of Syria’s regime makes it less politically capable than a representative government of making peace with Israel. One of the problems with writing op-eds is that one doesn’t have the space to clarify everything, so let me underscore a few points:

First, I’m not saying Assad doesn’t want a peace treaty with Israel – I suspect he would sign one if the expected gains outweighed the political risks.  But what what are the political risks of accepting the terms currently demanded by Israel (breaking with Iran, an end to all direct and indirect support for anti-Zionist movements, trade relations, an occasional bouquet of flowers, etc.) for an Alawite-dominated regime in a majority Sunni country?

Second, my hypothesis is essentially structuralist. The constraint on foreign policy I’m postulating is generated primarily not by the preferences of either the Alawite minority or the Sunni majority (neither of which strikes me as more averse to peace than Egyptians, Jordanians, or Palestinians), but by the fact that a regime dominated by the former is governing the latter.  The Assad regime has long managed Sunni resentment at being ruled by an Alawite-led regime (which we all know is common, particularly among the religious) by advancing regional causes that resonate with Sunnis (particularly anti-Zionism).  This is why Al-Qaeda and non-Syrian branches of the Muslim Brotherhood have been friendly to Assad, and it is partly why Syria has been so stable.  A strategic realignment away from the rejectionist axis would make the regime more vulnerable to internal and external subversion.

Third, my substantiation of the argument is essentially deductive.  There haven’t been any other cases of heterodox Islamic minorities governing Sunnis in the modern era, so we have only the Syrian case to look at. The empirical data from this one clinical trial is consistent with my hypothesis (the Assad regime has, justifiably or not, repeatedly declined whatever terms happen to be acceptable to Israel at any given time), but it’s also consistent with other explanations of Syrian behavior.  Although I lead the article with the claim that Assad “can neither be bribed nor intimidated into making a ‘strategic realignment’ until he first reconciles with the Syrian people,” I’m not saying that the sectarian power imbalance in Syria is the only determining factor.

QN: How would you explain Assad’s repeated attempts to get Israel to negotiate on the Golan, as well as the assessment of many of Israel’s top military advisors that Assad is serious about pursuing peace? Is he just playing the process and fooling even the most hard-nosed of his enemies?

Well, clearly Assad derives enormous benefits from the process of negotiating with Israel, irrespective of the outcome, so his desire to negotiate does not itself reveal much about ultimate intentions. Even if we take him at his word that he wants a settlement, he has said little publicly to suggest that he would be willing to make the kind of strategic realignment demanded by Israel even if it is willing to withdraw completely from the Golan.

Of course, Assad has every right to insist that normalization of diplomatic relations with Israel not automatically entail full-blown friendship (a demand that is certainly not typical of most peace settlements).  I just don’t think he’s going to get his way.  He doesn’t have his father’s international credibility, and he played a far deadlier role in sponsoring terrorism against Israelis.  He’s going to have to show them the money to get the Golan back, and I don’t see him doing that anytime soon.

QN: In Syria’s Triumph in Lebanon: Au Revoir les Ententes, you argued that Syria has returned to dominance in Lebanon.  How is the present state of affairs different from the conditions that obtained in the 1990s and early 2000s?

GG: Regional and international toleration has always been a critical enabler of Syria’s domination of Lebanon, and the attitudes of all the major external players are gradually reverting back to form.  The fact that Western and Arab governments have stopped criticizing Syria’s conduct in Lebanon (apart from its transshipment of weapons to Hezbollah) and embraced the contrived fiction that Assad is “mediating” between Saad Hariri and Hezbollah is eerily reminiscent of the days when they pretended there wasn’t an occupation (the word itself was literally absent from American official statements on Lebanon until 2003).  Continuing American antagonism  toward Hezbollah suits the Syrians just fine – their value as a “mediator” is enhanced if Hezbollah isn’t getting along with the international community.

Internally, most Lebanese political elites are seeking amicable relations with Syria (even as many denounce Hezbollah).  The lack of uproar over the recent disappearance of four Syrian political dissidents in Lebanon is really sad.

Syrian troops haven’t returned, but that’s the beauty of it for Assad.  Domination without (or nearly without)  occupation is exactly what Assad was trying to achieve in 2001-2004 with the drawdown of Syrian forces and the elevation of President Emile Lahoud over Hariri.

QN: Are there any opportunities for Lebanon to gain a credible measure of sovereignty over its affairs?

What is “sovereignty” in a country as divided as Lebanon?  If you mean a government that asserts its prerogatives in accordance with the “will of the people,” Lebanon has the most sovereign state in the Arab world – it performs exactly as the country’s democratically elected leaders intend it to.  The problem is that the “will of the people” is fractured and contradictory.

The Lebanese people will have to take it upon themselves to strive for something higher.  The demonstration against sectarianism in Beirut earlier this month was a hopeful sign, but a few thousand people is a far cry from the kind of popular mobilization needed for the Lebanese to follow in the footsteps of Egypt and Tunisia.

QN: Who killed Rafiq al-Hariri?

GG: I’ve been very careful not to play into the Syria-bashing that has been in vogue in Washington, and I have serious doubts as to whether Syria was involved in some of the subsequent assassinations frequently attributed to it (especially Pierre Gemayel and Brig.-Gen. François al-Hajj).  But in my view the Assad regime was almost certainly responsible for the Hariri killing.  I’ll explain my reasoning step by step:

1. It would have been virtually impossible for anyone outside of Syria’s extended network of clients and proxies to cleanly pull off such a complex operation in the heart of Syrian-occupied Beirut.  There certainly was no precedent of uninvited guests operating at anywhere near this level of sophistication under the nose of the Syrians.  Israel probably could have pulled off the hit, but not cleanly (hundreds of former Israeli agents rotting in Lebanese prisons today testify to its sloppy covert ops).  If the Israelis did it, there would have to have been a conspiracy on the part of both the UN investigative commission and at least some Lebanese security officials to bury evidence pointing in that direction.  That seems wildly implausible to me.

2. It’s virtually inconceivable that elements inside this network would have taken it upon themselves to kill a leading Lebanese political figure without say so from Syrian intelligence officials in Lebanon, and virtually inconceivable that the latter would have given the order without authorization from Assad.  There is no precedent of either, and it’s difficult to plausibly reconstruct what factional interests might have been served by “rogue” operators killing Hariri.

3.   The behavior of Jamil al-Sayyid and other top Syrian appointed Lebanese security officials after the killing simply isn’t consistent with the frenzy of activity one would expect in the wake of an unapproved killing of such a major figure.  These are the same guys who once sent tanks through the streets of Beirut because of a false rumor that Aoun was returning from exile.

4. The telecommunications evidence that Hezbollah members were conducting surveillance of Hariri before and during the assassination is pretty damning once you closely examine the methodology (e.g. “collocation” of cell-phone signals).  Hezbollah would not have gotten involved without Syrian collaboration.

5.  The Syrians had by far the strongest motive of anyone for wanting Hariri dead.  Hariri was quietly coordinating with the emerging Christian and Druze opposition with the intention of crushing pro-Syrian loyalists in the 2005 elections, as well as with French and American efforts to pressure Syria to disengage from Lebanon.  Hariri got killed right at the moment when everyone was wondering what in the hell the Syrians were going to do about Hariri.

Am I ABSOLUTELY certain that the Syrians killed Hariri?  No. Am I absolutely certain that the Libyans killed Musa Sadr or that Geagea’s Lebanese Forces killed Prime Minister Rashid Karami?  Or for that matter that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK?  No.  But let’s not kid ourselves.  Let’s also not pretend that every other government in the Arab world wouldn’t resort to murder in fending off serious political challenges.  Recently leaked Egyptian State Security files indicate (if authentic) that the Mubarak regime carried out the Alexandria church bombing in a clumsy attempt to strengthen its pretext for tyrannical rule.

QN: You’ve argued that the STL (and the UNIIIC before it) was compromised by the blunders of Detlev Mehlis.

GG: Yes.  Mehlis either was duped into staking the credibility of the UNIIIC on dubious witness testimonies in his first interim report to the Security Council or knowingly attempted to pass off unreliable witness testimonies as solid evidence.  So he was either incompetent or unethical.  All hope of a judicial process that would be broadly perceived by the Lebanese people as impartial and just was lost on his watch, which is a shame because his successors seemed to have pulled it together.  The upcoming indictments are, according to all indications, based on compelling evidence that has in no way been tainted by the missteps of Mehlis, but they won’t be perceived as such by a great many Lebanese of all sects.  Don’t be surprised if Hezbollah one day erects a statue of the German prosecutor.

QN: What kind of effect, if any, will the published indictments have upon the political arena in Lebanon, particularly if they do name members of Hezbollah?

GG: It’s difficult to say.  On the one hand, incontrovertible evidence of Hezbollah’s involvement is a glaring violation of its long-standing pledge not to use violence to settle domestic political disputes.  This is a much more serious violation of its so-called “purity of arms” than its route of Sunni and Druze militias in May 2008 (which at least was in defense of a fiber optic telecommunications system unquestionably vital to its military struggle against Israel).  The late Hariri made no secret of his desire for peace with Israel and unquestionably encouraged his foreign allies to intercede on his behalf with Syria, but he cannot be said to have posed a clear and present danger to the “resistance” – killing him was out and out murder even under Hezbollah’s own moral code. I myself was VERY skeptical of the allegation when Der Speigel first broke the story of Hezbollah’s involvement in May 2009, but the evidence now appears indisputable.

However, Hezbollah’s saving grace is the fact that large numbers of Lebanese (85% of Shiites, 54% of Christians, and 21% of Sunnis, according to one recent poll) don’t accept the legitimacy of the tribunal.  Moreover, there has been a long lead time between confirmation of Hezbollah’s rumored indictment last summer and the indictments themselves.  People have had a long time to adjust to the news and draw their own conclusions, so unless the indictments contain a surprise we don’t know about, the worst may already be over for Hezbollah.

QN: How do you assess the current position and identity of the Free Patriotic Movement? How durable is the alliance between the Aounists and the “Resistance camp”?

GG: I haven’t been paying close attention to the inner workings of the FPM as of late, but I expect its alliance with Hezbollah to endure for quite some time.  Aoun’s decision-making, from his choice of election partners in 2005 to his alliance with Hezbollah the following year and subsequent reconciliation with Syria, has been largely driven by the constraints and opportunities afforded by the positions of other players.  The refusal of March 14 to accept his presidential candidacy (despite the fact that his party won over two-thirds of the Christian vote in the 2005 elections) made this alignment an inevitability.  Any other Lebanese politician in his situation would have done the same thing (indeed, Hariri and Jumblatt DID do essentially the same thing when they allied with the Shiite bloc against Aoun in the 2005 elections).  That’s how the game is played in Lebanon, and Aoun has proven to be a quick learner since returning from exile. The presidency is his if he can live long enough to claim it in 2014.
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Discussion

423 thoughts on “An Interview With Gary Gambill

  1. Dear Tamer and R2_D2,

    You do not think that M8 hired their own marketing team to develop their public stance? What about the slogan “Israel also want to get rid of the weapons” or the staged “messages” of HNA? Whether one hires Saatchi or their own in house marketing experts, politics today is about how to manipulate the masses through message. Of course there are authentic positions and affects at the basis of any messages but very few citizens, whether in the US, Lebanon, or Libya are driven by anything but marketing slogans and empty rhetoric (freedom and democracy, of truth and justice, or resistance and hope, etc.). Think for a change; feelings and emotions are easier to build on in a world where only a minority is educated in critical consciousness…

    Posted by parrhesia | March 13, 2011, 9:13 pm
  2. lally, sarcasm and irony are fine but the subject of this ridicule is a sincere young man doing the best he can to defend his country and the memory of assassinated father.
    Are you also one who supports the use of HA’s weapons to intimidate their fellow citizen and impose their will by fiat? And lest you object let’s please not play games here and admit that the only reason democracy has not worked is because of the intimidation of arms which worked on some rabbits like Junblatt and which is being used by megalomaniacs like Aoun.
    State one, just one goal of March 14 that is not in the best interest of all the Lebanese.
    By contrast, state one true goal of HA that is not a step in a hidden agenda towards an eventual theocracy in Lebanon.
    For a review of history, see this BBC series which can be accessed on YouTube. The whole series is a good history but look at this first one and start at minute 4:00 to recap the beginning of HA:

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 13, 2011, 9:23 pm
  3. tamer,

    I am going to talk to you this time in a completely different tone than I am used to. We all know that March 14 since 2005 failed in rising up to the expectations of its constituents. We also know that they didn’t make good use of the majorities that they enjoyed during that time. But was that so only because the March 14 leaders were naive or incapable or even corrupt? Do you think that the spontaneous response of the young and old to this same brand of politicians’ call to this latest rally is due to a mass gullibility or perhaps mass naïveté? Are the Lebanese so stupid?

    Did not March 14 make concessions to accommodate March 8 in the cabinet when March 8 lost the elections? Weren’t those concessions made in the spirit of preserving the Lebanese political traditions of coexistence? Did HNA not say before the elections in 2009 that whoever wins the elections will form the government? Why did he and his allies insist on participation after they lost and according to their own terms. It seems to me that the kids and the young and the old who participated in this rally understood coexistence and Lebanon far better than HNA or any of his allies. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have ‘forgiven’ their ‘failed’ politicians and rallied behind them again and with such force.

    I understand from your request for an “evidence BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT” from the STL is a clear admission on your part of the authority of the STL(???). If that is so, then how about if HNA appears on the large screen in a speech aired to all Lebanese and hold his beard with his right hand and pronounce those exact words that you requested as an oath, and also that he would never ever use weapons in internal conflicts and withdraw his men completely out of the cities? Next thing let him and Miqati form whichever government they wish. I can assure you the government may even get few extra votes of confidence than what they can get right now.

    On the other hand, based on today’s show in Beirut, March 14 can easily undo the effects of the ‘coup’ by having all 60 MP’s resign and no government will ever be formed until new elections are held. And can you guess who will get majority again?

    Posted by anonymous | March 13, 2011, 9:50 pm
  4. tamer.

    Your sexist jokes are not funny. Learn to be civil.

    lally,

    The king’s picture was a dumb stunt by M8…

    Posted by danny | March 13, 2011, 10:34 pm
  5. anon I thank you for your reply, i will reply in kind once I get some work out of the way, pressed for time.

    danny I put jk after my lame joke get over it, no need for a diatribe about stripping, strida, and respect.

    “I respect your religious beliefs that everyone should be covered head to toe…but we on the other side of the isle; really think that it just meant he is getting ready to kick Ha’s ass” – you are absolutely insulting what does religion have to do with anything I wrote? Does Hariri not have supporters who are covered from head to toe? I am confused

    I apologize if you feel I was sexist, but civility is the last thing I need to learn from you, if you go back and read or post or many of your posts you’ll realize you’re far and away from being civil.

    Also please quit spreading false propaganda the abdullah poster it was not a M8 stunt, they would be a lot more creative and not so subtle with their message. Hariri’s own dailystar had this to say
    “A huge portrait of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz hang on Virgin Megastore building a few meters from Rafik Hariri’s tomb, reflecting Saudi support for the March 14 coalition.”

    Read more: http://dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_ID=1&article_ID=125963&categ_id=2#ixzz1GXWI8kHq
    (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

    Posted by tamer k. | March 13, 2011, 11:23 pm
  6. HP.

    Again, it’s the hypocritical machinations from my own government under any sellable-to-some pretext that mask an agenda that reflects the zionist dominated FP establishment that has afflicted real American MENA interests since Clinton took office.

    No, I don’t see Saad as anything but a useful tool.He’s but the latest in a long line supported by those who only favor democracies lead by satraps who would faithfully subsume their country’s fortunes and interests to foreigners.

    So far, I see none of the Harirists discussing the fact that the US and KSA are also meddling “foreigners”. That this state of affairs is completely elided befuddles me.

    Let me make something perfectly clear, exhortations to stop believing my lying eyes don’t work. I know my country and it infuriates me that The Bastards are continuing to disembowel the values of honorable actions and fair play that we hold up to the world as our uniquely American legacy.

    You are welcome to your illusions, but forget about trying to talk me into sharing them. I know too much.

    Recently, I read an eloquent cri du couer by a fellow citizen that echoes my positions. See if you can understand this patriot’s outrage:

    “About the lies.

    The problem is that for many years the US has been relying upon lies in hopes of getting the resources and power it seeks. We have somehow simply lost sight of the truths upon which this country is founded. A part of the tragedy of the lying is that we have ourselves believed them and our own belief in the lies has corrupted the core of our polity.

    I spent a good bit of time this evenin reflecting and cataloging the lies and dictators we have supported since WWII to post on this blog. I had to stop because I found it too painful, particularly with respect to the Vietnam war and Israel’s criminal suppression of the Palestinians. There were just too many bloody news clips in my mind to cover it…….”

    “As an American who has formally sworn to support, defend, and uphold our Constitution and Laws, I can just pray that somehow, some way, we as a nation can recover our lost honor and figure out a way to stop being the world’s biggest supporter of the dictators and thieves of the world and stop hiring foreign agents to torture people into servitude and fear.

    It is no wonder that we are hated, yet people yearn for the freedoms we should be standing up for and who really, though mistakenly, think our government really supports freedom and democracy the world over.”

    ……

    “If there is one lesson to be learned it is that you cannot trust the US leaders to tell the truth or make wise decisions. We really need to act always as watchful and vocal citizend to preserve the values of the Republic.

    Surely, we, as a country, can do better by being honest and true to our democratic principals than just lying. Truth just might be a more effecive path to Justice.”

    Where is our Jonah?

    Posted by: WP ”

    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2011/03/washington-benghazi-and-the-euro-med.html?cid=6a00d8341c72e153ef0147e328bc68970b#comment-6a00d8341c72e153ef0147e328bc68970b

    WP and I are in good company.

    Posted by lally | March 13, 2011, 11:58 pm
  7. # 206,

    I read the anguish in your post. But I truly think they are misplaced when it comes to Lebanon. Now I am going to tell you few secrets. Lebanon discovered America long before Columbus made his journey! Really! The Americans cannot understand Lebanon to be able to stage American theatrics on it. That is impossible. Lebanese are masters of theatrics. Here is another sceret. Lebanon does not have any resources. So America is not really interested in Lebanon.

    On the other hand America has a love/hate relationsghip with Lebanon. Here’s another secret. America threw Lebanon into the fires of a bloody civil war because it wanted to eliminate this little/big banker from the equation so that every US dollar will go back to the US treasury after it makes a complete journey through Arabia. But the cunning little banker may disrupt the full circle. Mind you that was in 75 right after the sudden jump in oil prices.

    Now, I am going to suggest that you ask yourself a hypothetical question. Would the US be still in existence today if it suffered the same damage to its economy and casualties as Lebanon suffered in the 17 year long civil war and in the same proportion to its population?

    I’ll tell you another secret. Lebanon would outlast the US and the whole new world. Many conquerers made a passage through this little country since the dawn of history. Lebanon survived them all.

    Posted by anonymous | March 14, 2011, 1:05 am
  8. @202,
    “State one, just one goal of March 14 that is not in the best interest of all the Lebanese.
    By contrast, state one true goal of HA that is not a step in a hidden agenda towards an eventual theocracy in Lebanon.”

    Wow. What is the point of these discussions anyways? If one of the more eloquent commenters on this blog is capable of such an asinine statement, after all the give and take and the beating to death of all these issues, can anyone really blame the herds congregated to repeat mindlessly the “dear leaders’” incongruous lamentations? Was the building-size poster of “king” Abdullah not big enough to belie these simpleton convictions? This is not even a fair fight…

    Posted by Saint | March 14, 2011, 1:40 am
  9. Lally,

    Thank you for the link, at one of my favorite blogs btw.

    Fortunately, this knowledge that you speak of is also shared by millions of Arabs, never mind the handful in Lebanon, who are beginning to seize their own destiny, and may yet force the US, fighting and screaming of course, to get back to get back to its Jeffersonian principles. That would be an ironic twist of history. The US is yet much too drunk of its own illusion to see the writing on the wall

    Posted by Saint | March 14, 2011, 2:02 am
  10. Saint and lally,

    You did not answer my questions. I am sincerely seeking objective, verifiable, and understandable answers. I do appreciate and sympathize with your feelings and I have read similar and very effectively articulated opinions by a “mo/usedtopost” on this blog. I respect all your opinions. However, my questions stand and seek answers.
    Does your evasion mean that you do condone the use of HA weapons internally for political gain?
    This a simple yes/no question.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 14, 2011, 5:44 am
  11. Saint, what you quoted from my post was not a statement by a question (actually 2 questions). I’m open minded for substantiated, persuasive answers.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 14, 2011, 8:03 am
  12. … and to be clear about the more general context of the Middle East, an analysis of all my posts here and on SyriaComment in a previous age will reveal that I am not advocating a monochromatic approach against everything relating to the “Arab Cause” and the “Palestinian Cause.” Quite to the contrary. My premise is that for however unfair, cruel, and outrageous, the treatment of Palestinians has been, ever since 1948, the methods to redress this wrong (a) have been an utter failure and (b) have brought disgrace and destruction on any country that hosted the Palestinian refugees, in particular and importantly for me, Lebanon.
    I am an apologist neither for Zionism, nor for absolute American righteousness, nor for the kind of corruption, selfishness, and complete lack of civil sense displayed by many Lebanese.
    The solution, however, just like it was NOT the formation of a theocracy in Iran in response to the mistakes made by the American administrations in prior years, is NOT in the kind of struggle and responses that have been pursued early on by the PLO, then later by the “rejection front (jabhat-ar-raf’d),” nor in the strategy being pursued currently by HA.

    What I have been and am an apologist for is the necessity of an uncompromising principle by any Lebanese to put Lebanon first, to put the interest of Lebanese citizens first, before any Arab interest, before any Palestinian interest, before any Iranian interest, and yes, before any American interest.

    This is what I don’t see in HA’s approach, even if I try (as hard as it is) to consider that the clearly stated objective of a couple of decades ago to wait for the right moment but to never give up the true goal of “Wilayat al-Faqih” in Lebanon — substantiated by on-video records from SHN — could have been superseded sincerely by the HA leadership.

    I’m sorry but when I look objectively at actions, even if I take your (mo/usedtopost, Saint, lally, etc.) word about the nuance in the words and intentions, I only see a consistent march to those old declared goals.

    I’m willing to be convinced to the contrary but only if the arguments are indeed convincing and backed by facts. So far, I’ve only read opinions and sentiments, no convincing arguments, and certainly no facts other than those that back my contentions.

    Peace

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 14, 2011, 8:15 am
  13. @211 “but” instead of “by”

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 14, 2011, 8:16 am
  14. tamer,

    I understand people like you have an inferiority complex. You live in the USA and are afforded with all the freedoms and opportunities and yet you hate it. Kind of like an abused child. I challenge you if you can tell me what kind of a freedom do you have under your theocratic sectarian HA?

    Freedom to Hate? the only thing you people are good at is screaming “Death to Amaweeka”…

    “A huge portrait of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz hang on Virgin Megastore building a few meters from Rafik Hariri’s tomb, reflecting Saudi support for the March 14 coalition.”

    So you are getting me a by line from a reporter in the DS? Are you real? Is this a real source or a fact? See above #188.

    Regardless, I really don’t care what picture was there as your Dahiye & South are full of Iranian Khameinis and Khomaeinis…

    Now is that an envy that you people cannot but squat downtown and bring in dirt and filth with your guns and burning tires…and you cannot stand a civil march in support of the Nation and the STATE! Tell me you hate monger; which statement or idea that M14 speeches had repulsed you?

    It seems “you people” are so full of hate and sectarianism that you are willing to spew out anything and everything.

    I am still waiting if you have any answer to HP.

    Posted by danny | March 14, 2011, 8:23 am
  15. HP,

    Suffice it to say: If you really want Peace…prepare for War. Our neighbors have given us plenty of reasons to prepare for War…all the time 24/7 and continue to be prepared for War…after the Peace, if it ever materializes…that’s what they have always done…and that’s what they will continue to do…and given the historical weakness of our National Army…and its traditional “Backers…” the Resistance is our only hope for standing up to invaders, and they have proven their worth repeatedly.

    If that does not convince you and people like you, who are on the sidelines….nothing will ever do.

    Posted by HK | March 14, 2011, 10:59 am
  16. HK, why can’t the preparation for war be done as unified country with a unified army, including strict control of state secrets and, if necessary, special secret communications links and special divisions with unique capabilities?

    I don’t disagree with you.

    The question will always remain until answered:
    – is it acceptable for HA’s arms to be used against their fellow citizens to intimidate them and to force outcomes against what democratic elections determined?

    And here’s another question:
    If the Army is weak, isn’t the solution to strengthen it rather than create a competing force which undermines the authority of the state?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 14, 2011, 11:08 am
  17. HP,

    I am not going to start over the story of the Chicken or the Egg…

    There was several attempts done by the camp opposed to the CONCEPT of Resistance… to do in the Resistance in various wars, incursions and aggressions by Israel/USA since 1993…at least…the last one being May 5th 2008…Given ALL that…I think that the Resistance has been incredibly restrained, wise and commensurate in the use of their real power…meant ONLY to protect the Resistance…. I will stop there, because all other reasons are hogwash and dust meant for disinformation by the enemies of the whole concept of Resistance.

    AS for the Leb. Army, everyone knows full well that it is fully complicit in this Novel concept of war…when one side is utterly weak, but facing a formidable Army on its borders….there is no secret there…The Leb. Army’s high command fully supports the Resistance, lock stock and barrel.
    The backers of our Army will never ever give them the tools to resist IDF aggressions. Never. Period.
    As for the history of March14th and the financing of the Army, the stories are Legions…etc etc.no need to be repetitive.

    Posted by HK | March 14, 2011, 12:18 pm
  18. HP,

    Good luck intergrating HA with the Lebanese Army. It’ll never happen. They’re special.

    BTW – Looks like no one wants to confront Gad-fly. All talk, but no action. Do you have any comment on this?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 14, 2011, 1:04 pm
  19. It would be interesting to debate what a secular democratic Lebanese constitution should look like.

    Would we vote for our President ? Would we need 128 parliamentarians ? Should the electoral voting districts remain the same ?

    Was that ever discussed here on this blog, QN?

    Posted by R2D2 | March 14, 2011, 1:23 pm
  20. AP,

    It is quite puzzling how Qaddafi is allowed to slaughter his people like this.
    There is an interesting opinion piece on CNN online:

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/03/14/frum.obama.libya/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn

    It basically suggests that one option is that the U.S. Administration is now thinking that they’re better off with Qaddafi. I don’t agree with that opinion and I stated as much in a comment I made in the comments section of that piece.
    Curious to know what’s your take on the Qaddafi situation. The Arab League is in favor of a no-fly zone.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 14, 2011, 1:23 pm
  21. Just a few words

    1- I watched the so called demonstration yesterday anticipating an extremely low turnout. Yes the number were low (new TV footage proved that) i was still impressed by the numbers that showed up. I can’t believe even a handful of Lebanese still follow those idiots. Then again Lebanese racism and inordinate self esteem were and will always be the downfall of this so called country.

    2- If March 14 supporters had any sense whatsoever they would be on the streets outraged by that picture they hanged behind the Saudi prince they want to impose as prime minister. How dare they talk about sovereignty and Freedom and outside interference with that huge portrait dangling behind them.

    3- Today’s offensive by the Gulf states against the Freedom Fighters in Bahrain should serve as a reminder about what the Saudi Kingdom represents.

    4- I think March 8 are not doing a good job at this moment. For three years over 50% of the population demonstrated against the Government while an entire major sect in Lebanon was being maligned and sidelined, Sanioura and Harriri said :” so what”. They showed us the way If Mikati cannot form a government now let him resign and get another figure to form a government (there are a few Sunni leaders) more credible that what they call representatives of the Shie Sakr or that Joke Ghazi Youssef who would both garner by themselves maybe 10 votes in any elections.

    5- As for the threat of resigning in mass (60 deputies) that would be great because that will not dissolve parliament by itself but will put each and every seat they hold in Jeopardy lets see how many they will garner with the new alliances in the country. worst case scenario for March 8 is that all 60 seats will be held once more by the March 14 now if you really believe that Harwan Hamadeh or George Saade or Henry Helou, Antoine Saad and Fouad al-Saad can win a reelection i have a bridge somewhere to see you.

    Finally since the assassination of Hariri Feb 14 movement has run the country unhindered. Today the roles are reversed it’s our time to rule you can lie it or not accept or not who really cares….. I’ll smirk as i see you shutting up and looking up in desperation and helplessness. The same way you did when we were camped out in front of the Prime ministry.

    Now you’ve had your tantrum screamed and cried, stripped and danced now wipe your eyes like a big boy (or girl) and go to sleep. Hoping your nightmare will be over when you wake up. If not New elections are on the way in 2013 now if Jumblat chages his mind once more, If the Miqati Government makes a mistake and you catch it , if the Saudi and gulf states survive, If the change engulfing the Arab world does not sweep you with it, you might get a slim majority next time to allow Jr. to regain the prime ministers office. It’s a lot of If’s i know but you can hope can’t you?

    P.S there has been a lot of posts about the Leb army and it’s armament lately. I have one thing to say outside of Syrian arms the Lebanese Army has received no help(unless you count the obsolete HUMVEES the US gives away). Let’s find a way to really arm the Lebanese fighting forces whether its Syria, the US or even Israel i don’t care as long as the weapons can be used in defending the country from any and all outside forces. When this happens i will be the first to sit in downtown Beirut demanding HA to give up their weapons and unlike yesterdays group i will stay there til my demands are dropped until then

    alsha3b yourid iskat el bantalon

    الشعب يريد اسقاط البنطلون

    Posted by elsheikh | March 14, 2011, 1:24 pm
  22. R2D2, QN is indeed quite an expert on such governmental systems, I think, and I know that there was much discussion of that topic a while ago, if not here on QN, then on Syriacomment.com (where QN was a regular commentator).

    Ya QN, how about writing an article here on QN on that subject, based perhaps on your Stanford talk ??

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 14, 2011, 1:25 pm
  23. HP,

    I think it’s the Arabs that should enforce it then.

    Time these expensive toys they’ve amassed over the decades be put to use.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 14, 2011, 1:25 pm
  24. R2D2, I agree. It is time for the Arab League to develop a backbone and put actions behind its resolutions. If they take the lead then I think the whole world will be behind them and support them.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 14, 2011, 1:59 pm
  25. It would be quite instructive to hear the opinions of lally, Saint, Mo/usedtopost, tamer k., HK, and anyone else who cares to chime in as to what the Arab League position and action vis a vis Qaddafi should be. As I recall, there was unanimity in rallying against Mubarak. Now what?
    [and... when the turn comes, what will they say about democratization in Syria, Jordan, KSA, Kuweit, etc., etc.].
    Time to take a principled position and stick to it.
    What shall it be?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 14, 2011, 2:02 pm
  26. AIG, come back here and start chiming in. You had the right ideas on many fronts. But also we need someone to argue with who will answer directly the questions posed to him!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 14, 2011, 2:04 pm
  27. HP,

    You’re not paying attention because I have already answered all the questions you’re asking now… about Libya, Syria, Jordan, KSA and the GCC for that matter, Yemen included.

    All of them should be toppled pronto.
    Saudi forces came to Beirut in 1976…they quickly left with their tales behind their backs…what are they doing in Bahrain and Yemen…?
    This will inflame the whole situation even further…
    If the WEST has any Brains left…they should redeem themselves and help the rebels in Libya YESTERDAY…..But I think it is exactly the opposite happening from Bahrain to Libya…courtesy of the US DOD planners….

    Posted by HK | March 14, 2011, 2:39 pm
  28. Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, Qaboos Bin Al Said of Oman, Abdullah II of Jordan, Bashar Assad of Syria – these autocrats cannot be hailed as stakeholders in Libya’s march to democracy…
    The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) regimes are tottering on the abyss and themselves hoping NATO will salvage them. Their rulers keep their personal wealth of tens or hundreds of billions of dollars hoarded in Western banks and the umbilical cord cannot easily be broken….
    (Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday: “I would like to ask NATO and the US with honor and humbleness and not with arrogance to stop their operations in our land. We are a very tolerant people but now our tolerance has run out.”)
    The only “Arab revolt” Abdullah or Abdullah II ever knew is what British intelligence and Lawrence of Arabia financed in the debris of the Ottoman Empire a hundred years ago….LOL…
    A post-House of Saud Saudi Arabia will involve inventing a new political culture and the new economic contracts that would go with it, ones that will be indigenous and, hopefully, democratic in new and surprising ways…

    Which brings us back to Turkey. It’s perfectly feasible that Islam will be one of the building blocks of something entirely new, something no one today has a clue about, something that will resemble what was, in Europe, the separation between politics and religion. In the spirit of May 1968, perhaps we can even picture an Arab Banksy plastering a stencil across all Arab capitals: Imagination in Power!

    Posted by HK | March 14, 2011, 3:01 pm
  29. Sorry, HK, I can hear you now.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 14, 2011, 3:13 pm
  30. I just noticed this was posted on march 8th….
    way to go QN!

    Posted by Alberto Zeraik | March 14, 2011, 3:33 pm
  31. What do you guys think of the 1000 Saudi soldiers and UAE’s 500 police force in Bahrain?

    This could potentially backfire badly should any violence occur between the Bahraini Shi’s and the Sunni Gulf security force. Iran will not stay quiet.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 14, 2011, 4:32 pm
  32. R2D2,

    Iran has been covertly inciting the Shia through their mercenaries Hizballah recruits.

    iran best worry about their own backyard then the neighbor’s den. I feel that if Iran tries to interfere in an Arab country’s affairs they will initiate that shia sunni conflict throught! Then poor Lebanese will pay the price again.

    In the meantime…anonymous of alleging Syrian help to Gad fly…

    Here’s a report today in Elaph.@ elaph.com. أخبار سوريا متهمة بتزويد القذافي بسفينتين محملتين بالسلاح الثقيل

    Posted by danny | March 14, 2011, 5:08 pm
  33. HP #210
    Open-ended questions, without any historical/political context, serve no purpose. You and I are arguing about the context, the history, the events, the motivations of certain actions, and the ultimate goals. That’s where we agree/disagree and have been arguing our positions. The question itself is also misleading and simply answering yes/no makes me accept its underlying premise. I thought you are beyond such simple-minded banter.

    Posted by Saint | March 14, 2011, 5:22 pm
  34. I frankly think it’s a pretty dumb idea because the security force is religious, Sunni and Royal loyal. The protestors are no secularists.

    This is a Shi’ite uprising in Bahrain, most obviously sponsored by the Iranian regime. Same in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.

    At one point, Iran is going to have to flex its military muscle should it want to further embolden the uprise in pre-dominantly Shi’ite countries.

    Lebanon is a by far more complicated issue for Iran, however. It isn’t pre-dominantly Shi’ite.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 14, 2011, 5:34 pm
  35. R2D2,

    Do you think the Bahraini Shia have any legitimate grievances?

    Posted by Saint | March 14, 2011, 5:44 pm
  36. #235

    Define legitimate.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 14, 2011, 5:56 pm
  37. #235

    ** and keep in mind I don’t believe in Saints **

    Posted by R2D2 | March 14, 2011, 5:57 pm
  38. ** or “Prophets” **

    Posted by R2D2 | March 14, 2011, 5:59 pm
  39. And those “Gurus” we all read about that survived 235 days without food or water meditating (i.e., praying) under a Banyan tree, are welcome in my garden and my orange tree.

    Why not ?

    ** Wide, honest and sarcastic, Ricky Gervais grin **

    Posted by R2D2 | March 14, 2011, 6:21 pm
  40. Curious to know what’s your take on the Qaddafi situation. The Arab League is in favor of a no-fly zone.

    HP,

    I agree with you 100%. There’s no debating “Gad-fly” (my new nickname), everyone hates him: the Europeans, the US, and the pro-democracy/non-despot Arabs.

    The right-wing radio show I listen to locally suggested that the Arab-League get their fighter planes (from around the ME) to enforce the no-fly zone. The US wold be willing to do anything, EXCEPT “put boots on the ground”. I think that would be great, but, I guess, the Arab governments just can’t bring themselves to oust a dictator.

    (~sigh~)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 14, 2011, 6:21 pm
  41. In good food I trust.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 14, 2011, 6:36 pm
  42. Saint #233, Alright, I can hear you now as well. I get it.
    The end justifies the means.
    One can say it in more genteel terms, such as, from my point of view playing the devil’s advocate:

    “Well, the Resistance is the only force that was able to stand up to Israeli aggression and in fact it is the only force that has been able to force the Israelis to withdraw from Lebanon. Furthermore, in 2006, the Divine Victory showed how Israel was forced to accept a cease-fire and the Resistance showed Israel that up to the last minute prior to the cease-fire it had the capability of raining missiles on the Zionist state. Now come the puppets of Amreeka and they want to begin to undermine the key creative tools that the Resistance developed on its own and which give it the advantage to stand up to the Israeli military might. Those puppets wanted to take away the communications lifeline of the Resistance, the network that cannot be penetrated by the spies who have been eroding Lebanon for so many years. Well that’s when things have to stop. This is a line that cannot be crossed and the resistance will indeed cut the hand and, if needed, chop the head of anyone who ventures in this territory. So, the Resitance was ‘pushed against the wall‘ and was forced to use its weapons to prevent this evil maneuver by the puppets. The Resistance had no choice but to teach them a lesson. The Resistance wonders what is it about these corrupt politicians that make them repeatedly push its back against the wall. Didn’t they see what happened to Rafiq Hariri? Didn’t they see what happened to all the other MPs and journalists who, through their words or through the potential of their vote also pushed us against the wall and forced us to … uhum … well, what’s the point? It’s all politicized, and it’s all a conspiracy of the Great Satan in cahoots with the Mother of all Great Satans. What can we do? Now that we set those puppets straight we’ll go back to our initial program of slowly and surely cementing the Resistance so it exists forever and so that, sooner or later, we can begin to bring back our real agenda of preparing for what we always wanted to prepare for. So that’s it, for those who want to know. Now let’s work together again but please don’t push us against the wall again and force us to hurt you. With all this we’re really getting tired, not only that, but we’re at a point that we can almost identify now with that late PM of Zionism who used to say she hates the Palestinians because they force her to kill them. Oh, well. Perspectives can be quite subjective and we in the Resistance have faith in our perspective because it’s faith that guides us and, as you know, we cannot reject our faith; it guides our life and our actions and it always shall.”

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 14, 2011, 6:37 pm
  43. ** Ask my dog **

    Posted by R2D2 | March 14, 2011, 6:37 pm
  44. Not to prolong an exhausted topic, but, im completely baffled by M8 reasoning.

    Logic:

    -Israel was behind Hariris assassination
    – The STL is politicized(read: An Israeli/U.S. tool to dismantle Hizbollah)

    Therefore the murderers formed an investigation to bring about the murderers to Justice.
    Either the Israelis are extraterrestrial geniuses to mastermind such a plan, or some people are just too ignorant to see the truth.

    Posted by Maverick | March 14, 2011, 6:50 pm
  45. Maverick, there is no ignorance here. There is an agenda and quite smart (albeit evil) leadership in Iran, except for Khatami and others who unfortunately were let down by mistakes made by past U.S. administrations.

    It’s also important to understand what they are arguing. Yes to (1) and (2) of your bulleted statements but then the argument goes like this:
    – Intelligent and malicious maneuvering was done through the spies in Lebanon to stick HA with the crime in order to defeat it in ways that make up for the failures of the previous attempts to defeat it.
    (Of course never mind the fact that this Divine Victory has created – as AIG tells us – the most quiet border between Israel and Lebanon that has been seen in years and now similar to the Syrian-Israeli border quietness. And never mind that those HA weapons are used now to intimidate their political opponents. Never mind that the real obstacle to that last span of Lebanese territory continues because of Syrian refusal to demarcate the border [and hence perpetuates a feeble excuse for the resistance] and never mind that the resistance has said that even if all Shebaa farms and all Ghajar and anything else is returned to Lebanon they will never disarm and keep hinting at being part of the liberation of Jerusalem. Never mind all that my dear fellow. Don’t you get it? Oh, never mind, you’re not supposed to get it. You’re supposed to accept it until the day when it will become clear to you that you don’t belong there.)
    Never mind Maverick. You’re thinking too much. You need to have faith. Faith is the key. See how successful a theocracy like Iran is. Don’t you aspire to emulate them. Faith, my friend, faith.

    What is bewildering indeed is the ability of otherwise extremely balanced, smart, even erudite folks like Saint and others as well, to maintain the line of reasoning that finds an excuse for every action by HA and finds a hidden American agenda (not to mention one that is ultimately guided by those extraterrestrial geniuses you refer to) in the action and statements of every Lebanese politician who argues in favor of an exclusive authority for the State.

    The sad reality is that were it not for the threat that HA poses to Israel (which HA calls resistance), we would have had a peace treaty with Israel long ago, full control over every inch of internationally recognized borders for Lebanon, and one of the most dynamic economies in the world for a country the size of Lebanon. We would have been the Switzerland of the Middle East, the cultural Center and the banking Center through which all transactions with the oil-rich Arab countries are handled, an international tourism destination second to none, and all this would have brought with it an enormous rise in the standard of living for ALL Lebanese at ALL levels, to the point that no impoverished household would have had to *steal* electricity from the overhead power lines, and to the point that we would very likely have been in the top 10th percentile in internet speeds rather than being at rock bottom.

    But hey, why is that important?

    Resistance, Resistance, until death.

    Does anyone hear echo of that old chant:

    “Thawra thawra 7atta-n-nasr” ??

    Now that many of the Palestinians have seen the light and at least some of their leadership is seeking a workable solutions, Lebanon is privileged to have the Resistance to carry forward the mantle of rejectionism.

    Did I hear “Pity the Nation?”

    Indeed.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 14, 2011, 7:15 pm
  46. I understand your points, but im in no way throwing all of Lebanons problems on Hizballah,thats giving them too much credit.HA was actually created from Lebanese malaise,i.e unfair representation, inequality,a sectarian civil war, Israeli invasion, Iranian revolution. If anything it was a natural process.
    I’m just saying that I dont understand the logic behind accusing israel of the assassination,and then accusing them of concocting a tribunal,with all its investigative elements to find the murderers.
    It doesnt add up, and its not like they stood beside Hariri and said were in the same boat here, lets help each other.
    It is a brain thumping exercise to work around the psyche of M8 supporters who tow this line.
    None of them has put forth a coherent explanation except, Israel killed Harriri and the rest of the M14 personalities,the STL is Israeli, Mughniyeh was killed by Israel, M14 are Israeli traitors etc etc.
    The landing on the moon was made by Israeli studios?
    HA is drunken with power to the point of belligerence, they cant see beyond Israel…its a shame really, the “resistance” once was a respectable force.

    Posted by Maverick | March 14, 2011, 9:03 pm
  47. Maverick, OF COURSE no one can blame all Lebanon’s problems on HA. I sure hope I don’t come across as claiming this. In fact, at various times I have expressed a true respect and admiration for the discipline, erudition, and genuine sincerity of both the leadership and the rank and file of HA. My only problem has been and continues to be a deep concern about an underlying religious fanaticism that is suspect of eventually causing them to revert to earlier dreams of theocracy. It is a fact that they have sacrificed for the country and indeed created a sense of pride for a group that has historically been very unfairly treated.

    At the same time, as a people, Lebanese have both outstanding qualities and regrettably a number of fundamental flaws that have gotten in the way of a more successful handling of all the hardships they/we have encountered. Lack of civic sense and a certain foolish laissez-faire are but two of the most negative traits. Taken as a package however, like any other group of people, there is much to have pride in, despite the rather cynical attitude of some.

    Anyway, I’m with you on your points.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 14, 2011, 10:06 pm
  48. In my first encounter with one of the HA supporters on this site, I was mostly concerned about the corruption of reason. What do we really have besides this faculty? Nothing.

    When such ‘reason’ injects the superficially plausible into discourse it becomes the tool for packaging predetermined demagogic conclusions. When its propagators fail to achieve their objective, they resort to intimidation and coercion. When they fail in the latter they resort to assassinations. When they get haunted by their crimes they resort to outright lies and deceit.

    HNA would never come out in front of the people and perform even a theatrical gesture of accepting evidence beyond reasonable doubt from an investigation. He is afraid of REASON.

    Mind you, HNA is a superb theatrical character if you watch him carefully while he speaks.

    Posted by anonymous | March 14, 2011, 10:06 pm
  49. To Saint,El-Sheikh, Tamer.K ….

    This exchange between 240/248 proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is absolutely hopeless to debate any of the M14th loony tunes….it’s utterly futile and a waste of time.

    Posted by HK | March 15, 2011, 3:08 am
  50. I’m not M14. Objective observer here. Always willing to listen/read reasoned objective arguments based on facts and, importantly, on lessons from history, recent and not-so-recent.

    Respect for all.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 15, 2011, 3:49 am
  51. … the point being:

    For all the demonization of “Amreeka” it is a country (continent!) where reason, debate, democracy, persuasion, all work. This, in my opinion, is where strength in the moral clarity and moral right of arguments and facts can trigger support from the only remaining superpower. Rather than complain and be cynical and insinuate how some of us don’t understand, (and, in the past, be understanding to folks who use uncivilized methods to claim their rights ~ instead of persuasion and, when needed, Ghandi-like methods), put forth in clearly articulated, fact-based, persuasive arguments, the case to be made. If you do, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the remarkable positive echo you’ll receive from many of us here — incorrectly tagged as M14 — and, more importantly, from the silent majority that is, unlike in the Arab world, quite effective at the polls in the U.S.

    The ring for such debate is open.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 15, 2011, 3:54 am
  52. … of course, if you’re a believer in the righteousness of the Iranian theocracy we might as well fuhgetabb’owtit

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 15, 2011, 3:55 am
  53. HP,

    I cannot catch up with you. I don’t have much time to sit and write as I would like (I have no business being up at this hour), so you are left to asking me questions and then answering them yourself, having already figured me out, my positions, and how I think.

    You keep ascribing maximalist opinions and positions to me that simply do not exist. You have not been reading my comments carefully. I would like to believe that I am a good observer of the human condition (mine first and foremost), and know full well that saints don’t exist (make what you wish out of this R2D2). Anyone and everyone errs, even, and most usually, those with the best of intentions. No, I do not “demonize” Israel, but rather try to give it its fair share based on the facts, and I also make accusations against it based on past behavior and action and what I perceive to be motivation consistent with my best reading of current and historical events. I also do not, willy nilly, defend or condone any of the “resistance camp.” I only meet them where I sense they are doing the right thing on this very important issue to me of being independent and sovereign and not towing the line of hegemonic superpowers against the interests of their own countries and the other people of the region. I also personally believe that it is our moral imperative to band together to find a solution to the heart-wrenching suffering of the Palestinians (never mind their awful performance in defense of their own cause). My question to you is this: how can you make your own peace with a neighbor (forgetting for now that this oppressive neighbor is an illegal transplant from outside) whom you know is killing and torturing another neighbor? Peace and prosperity for me while the cry of the oppressed neighbor reaches my ears every night? “Not by bread alone does man live.”

    I think HP that you need to read up a little about France during the Nazi occupation in WWII. Maybe that example will shed a sober historical light on our own predicament today and how, albeit rational and smart individuals, such as General De Gaulle, chose “irrational” resistance against the brutality and the overwhelming power of the Nazis . Not dissimilar to what many of you think today, there were many French citizenry who accepted the Nazi occupation, and even came to admire and copy them (thinking they were a superior civilization) and who derided De Gaulle and the “Free French” resistance fighters as a band of good but disillusioned group who were only bringing death and destruction to themselves and their country. The Nazis’ excessive and brutal methods (I wonder whom this reminds me of) helped convince the acquiescent French population that resistance was futile. For example, they instituted policies such as the execution of 20 French to every single Nazi soldier killed at the hands of the resistance in a vain attempt to make them stop. To make matters worse for the resistance, even their own government at Vichy worked with the Nazis and were very instrumental in arresting and torturing many fighters before handing them to the Nazis to be executed. In the end, more and more French became convinced of the cause of the resistance and joined forces with them until mounting successful attacks on the inside coupled with the final onslaught by the allies beat the Nazis and ended the war. Today, everyone knows who the collaborators were and who the heroes are. What made the job of the Nazis easier in the beginning was the collaboration, or at times quiet acquiescence, of a large segment of the French population who accepted the occupation as a fait accompli. These people saw no acceptable reason for resisting, Germany seemed invincible, and they wanted to live their lives after all. Today the progeny of these same people hail the “irrational” resistance fighters as sacred heroes. France yet came to rebuild itself to see real peace and prosperity (of course they did execute about 10,000 collaborators first) .
    Well sorry about the general and messy summary. I am not sure if this one example (there are so many others) will help dispel any of your opinions about why some people believe that a sustained and determined effort, even by a much weaker party, can overcome the impossible. But as I said before, there are those who decided to believe and sacrifice. Freedom is not free. And those who decide they do not want to join, at least try to keep these differences to ourselves and let’s not work to give the enemy cause to divide us, infiltrate us, and even worse have some of us do his own dirty work (the telecomm netowrk issue comes to mind). And by the way, and it seems that only a handful of Lebanese have not heard the news of late, the region is in a tumult, and the tsunami (coined by one able commenter on this blog) looks to be pushing and crushing the Vichy governments of our day. Talk about running against the tide. Let’s not keep making analysis as if we are stuck in the ‘80s yet. These days are over and a new Mideast is about to be born (thanks to Condi), and we will all hopefully, including the Jews of a new Israel, will be the better for it in the long run.

    Posted by Saint | March 15, 2011, 5:55 am
  54. HP #251,

    Why can’t one admire “amreeka” and have, at the same time, a distaste for its foreign policy?

    Conversely, can one also stand opposed to Iran’s style of governance and yet meet with it on an issue, Palestine, where one thinks it has the right policy and the moral upper hand?

    What is infuriating about “amreeka,” especially when one comes to live here, is the dissonance between what it allows for its own citizenry, and what it works to deny to other nations and peoples, if it does not meet its own interests. I would think the these discordant views it for itself and others should make you question it more, no?

    Posted by Saint | March 15, 2011, 6:08 am
  55. QN, Hariri’s Full Monty-style striptease show (March 14th rally on March 13) not important enough to be analyzed?

    Posted by Douna | March 15, 2011, 7:18 am
  56. First Saudi soldiers shot dead in Bahrain.

    This can’t be good.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 15, 2011, 8:40 am
  57. Posted by HK | March 15, 2011, 9:08 am
  58. Sorry:

    Posted by HK | March 15, 2011, 9:08 am
  59. Some Google maps of the corruption of the Al-Khalifa dynasty:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/bahrain-google-earth-2011-3

    Posted by Saint | March 15, 2011, 11:46 am
  60. “First Saudi soldiers shot dead in Bahrain.

    This can’t be good.”

    The Saudis invite themselves to quell a peaceful demonstration that has seen nothing but killed and injured Bahraini demonstrators, and right off the bat “one Saudi soldier is SHOT dead!” Really? Is this the beginning of the justification of an impending massacre by the Saudis?

    Posted by Saint | March 15, 2011, 12:04 pm
  61. Saint, a quick note to express my admiration (sincerely) at your eloquence and sincerity and, importantly, the nuanced approach you advocate we all take in judging events and intentions. I’ll re-read more carefully your post later and perhaps be inspired with something worthy of posting in the continuing exchange.

    As Dan Rather used to end his broadcast:

    Courage!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 15, 2011, 12:05 pm
  62. “March 14 has not offered any project to protect Lebanon, Aoun says”

    … no further comments.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 15, 2011, 12:16 pm
  63. ….LOL !!!

    Posted by HK | March 15, 2011, 12:45 pm
  64. “This is a Shi’ite uprising in Bahrain, most obviously sponsored by the Iranian regime. Same in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.”

    Thankfully many here are not lacking in gray matter like you are R2D2 or else we would have deduced that the March 14 uprising is a Sunni/Maronite uprising “most obviously” sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Israel

    Why don’t you stick to your stupid one liners and spare us the analysis.

    Posted by V | March 15, 2011, 1:28 pm
  65. V,

    March 14 is sponsored by Saudi Arabia and the US.

    Did I miss something ?

    Posted by R2D2 | March 15, 2011, 1:43 pm
  66. R2D2,

    The hundreds of thousands who took to the Streets in Beirut in 2005 and 2011 were not paid by the USA or Saudi Arabia to do so, these are Lebanese people who truly believe in change and are tired living under the Tyranny of HA’s weapons or Syria’s brutal Mukhabarat
    We can say the same thing about the Egyptians who rebelled against Mubarak or the Green revolution in Iran or the Bahraini’s who happened to be Shia oppressed for many years by the ruling royals.
    If certain regimes utilize the momentum of such movements to position themselves for influence it does not mean they are the sponsors of such movements, it is certainly up to the grass root people to prevent this from happening therefore it would be useful for you to think outside the narrow tunnel of Sunni and Shia

    Posted by V | March 15, 2011, 2:12 pm
  67. V,

    I fully agree with you.

    However, there is heavy Iranian influence in what has happened in the past days in Bahrain. The protest has turned violent and it wouldn’t surprise me if a few Hezballlah operatives are there on the ground organizing them.

    There would be no foreign interference into Bahrain and the pulling out of the Ambassador to Iran … if Iran wasn’t trying to “hijack” the uprising.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 15, 2011, 2:21 pm
  68. And sorry for the “one liners” … My Mac’s keyboard stopped functioning and I have been relegated to typing with a pointer on a virtual one for 2 and 1/2 months.

    That’s how long it took the Apple distributors to get a spare.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 15, 2011, 2:25 pm
  69. Any one who disclaims being a maximalist and then resorts to comparing deGaulle’s legitimate resistance with the so-called Iranian supported HA murders of Lebanese and other innocents (as in Mughniye’s murders) must have a differnt understanding of maximalism than what normal people understand the term to mean.

    I would love to hear those same words from the mouth of the W. of F. Khamenei himself. A sincere salute to deGaulle and a theatrical gesture of bowing at his grave by the W. of F. would certainly advance the ’cause’ by light years. Yet an acknowledgement of and commitment to (not just by words) the principles for which deGaulle fought by HNA would definitely be far-reaching. But we still have to wait until HNA finds the courage to accept PUBLICLY the conclusions of an investiagtion beyond REASONABLE doubt.

    Sincerity is the word and not superficial ‘eloquence’.

    Posted by anonymous | March 15, 2011, 2:34 pm
  70. Saint,
    I would have to agree with Anon # 271. I do respect your opinion especially the need for resistance, but your joining the dots superficially.
    Its not like the Israeli regime has thousands of armed goons in Lebanon terrorizing the local population.Last time I checked it was the HA goons who did that, and before them,the Syrians. Not to dispel Israeli aggression, they are in a class of their own.
    Secondly,that wave of revolutions across the ME does not help HA’s cause in any way.They just ride the wave and make you think that.Im sure youre smart enough to know what the people are demonstrating against.(Iran has had theirs few yrs ago and would in all likelihood make a revisit….and Syria is starting theirs),so its not all black and white as you see it.
    HA MUST and I mean MUST formulate a plan to integrate into the National Defense, i.e the army.There are plenty in Lebanon who can join the resistance, the mountains hold many such candidates. A respectable arsenal coupled with a guerilla unit led by HA operatives seems like a formidable choice,not that it would defeat Israel, but it would set up a decent defense capability…and thats all we need.
    HA will still be a political party and force in the Government fighting corruption,reforming etc.
    I think soon enough, they will have no other option.

    Posted by Maverick | March 15, 2011, 4:46 pm
  71. I’m gonna have to disagree with you on this one R2D2. So far, there has been nothing to indicate that Iran has had a hand in the Bahraini protests. Historically, the Bahrain Shia haven’t really been very close to Iran in the first place.

    That’s not to say that Iran doesn’t stand to gain, and might be rubbing its hands at what’s happening in Bahrain now.

    I don’t approve of generalizations and “it is obvious that Iran is behind it” type assertions with no proof or facts behind it. I refuse that kind of logic no matter if it’s on my side or on the other side.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | March 15, 2011, 4:53 pm
  72. Saint,

    While I admire your eloquence, I cannot comprehend how you equate De Gaulle’s resistance with that of HA. I don’t recall the free French ever turning their weapons on their compatriots, bullying them around, or dictating the social and political discourse in France at the time.
    Their resistance was very simple and straightforward and targeted an enemy occupation of a sovereign state (France).
    You may equate that to the Resistance prior to 2000, and I’d be ok with that. But the story post 2000, and specially post 2005, is very different. De Gaulle did not take over France and vow to wage war against Germany itself. Nor did he impose his Resistance on the rest of France post-Liberation. Nor did his Resistance movement monopolize the right to Resistance for a certain sub-group of French at the expense of other French, nor did his Resistance circumvent the French State and government into a parallel entity, post Liberation.

    I understand the point you are trying to make, but your example is very poorly chosen, in my humble opinion.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | March 15, 2011, 5:23 pm
  73. BV,

    “I’m gonna have to disagree with you on this one R2D2. So far, there has been nothing to indicate that Iran has had a hand in the Bahraini protests. Historically, the Bahrain Shia haven’t really been very close to Iran in the first place.”

    Correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that Shi’ites of Bahrain are all ethnic Persians. They are not native to the Arab Gulf.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 15, 2011, 6:02 pm
  74. HK #258,
    Would you, or anyone else for that matter , buy a second hand car from this character? Obviously not.
    As we all well know revolutions and uprisings are usually in need of a charismatic, genuine, sincere and believable messenger or they just erupt as a grass roots movement.
    An opportunist , such as Khaddam, will march by himself. He will have no followers.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 15, 2011, 6:10 pm
  75. R2D2,

    Maybe someone else can chime in on this one. I’ve never heard that the Shia of Bahrain are of Persian origin. In fact, what I’ve heard is somewhat the opposite. They are the natives, so to speak, and the ruling regime has for years been granting citizenship to Sunnis from other countries in an attempt at countering the demographics.

    Regardless of that though, there is, so far, no indication that the opposition in Bahrain is in any way being pushed by Iran. At least from whatever I know. It’s appeared to be a native movement, not unlike the ones in Tunisia and Egypt.

    And I might add, even if said Bahraini shias ARE Persian. Who are you to pick and choose who gets to ask for democracy? It makes you sound somewhat sectarian/racist here (not meant as an insult, but an observation).
    It is indisputable that in every Arab country, oppressive regimes rule with an iron fist with very little regard for human rights. This, in my book, makes ANY movement demanding democracy and freedom and rights a worthy cause. I don’t care if they’re Persian, Arab, Christian, or Sunnis. Apparently, you do.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | March 15, 2011, 6:45 pm
  76. BV,

    The ones causing the unrest in Bahrain are Shi’ites of Persian descent.

    I’m no expert, but I have been to the country on several occasions and remember that there was a division even between the ethnic and Persian Shi’ites.

    The Persian Shi’ites were brought in similarly to the Syrians in Lebanon but were granted citizenship.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 15, 2011, 7:40 pm
  77. I am religiously intolerant, so I guess you are right.

    I am racist.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 15, 2011, 7:53 pm
  78. BV,

    The Gulf army entered Bahrain in response to a request by the King after some ‘mobsters’ attacked government buildings and institutions. It was alleged by some media outlets that they may have been RG infiltrators seeking to capitalize on an escalation. There were also several attacks by the protester themselves on civilians and members of the police, and actually some victims fell. Hospitals were also mobbed.

    Several Iranian supported ‘Jazeera’-style media were airing incitements before and during the events, and, of course they are still on the air and with the same message. You may want to check them out and judge for yourself. You may also want to check other so-called ‘religious’ figures such as the exiled Kuwaiti Yasser al-Habib who is in England. There are others who have higher standing such as the Iranian Shirazi. But believe me you would vomit if you go through a full session of listening to some of the utterances of both figures. There is another Iraqi figure by the name of Mudarresi with similar messages.

    The Khalifas ruled Bahrain for centuries. Several Gulf countries have residents of Persian origin. Kuwait, for example, has a sizeable community but they are not granted citizenships. Emirates also has similar community. I am not sure if Emirates grants them citizenships or not. Most Shia who are in Bahrain today have been in Bahrain for 50 years or so. In a sense they are the Palestinians of Lebanon but with a citizenship. And that is besides the point as you said.

    The Crown Prince offered the protesters to sit down on the table and discuss reforms from day 1. Also the King introduced substantial reforms some 10 years. There is also far less corruption in Bahrain than most surrounding countries.

    On the other side of the Gulf there is the problem of so-called Khuzestan as Iran calls it but the locals call it Arabistan. It is worthwhile if you do some research about their plight if you are not already familiar. In addition, there are the Baluch, the Azeris, the Kurds and multiple other sizeable ethnic groups who are treated as second or even third class citizens in that country.

    Posted by anonymous | March 15, 2011, 8:05 pm
  79. Interesting information, anonymous.

    I still think it’s the height of hypocrisy to distinguish between who is asking for democracy based on them being Shia or not.
    During the Egyptian uprising, and currently in Libya, there were always many claims (from the regimes) that Al-Qaeda or similar were behind such uprisings, and so on. I don’t see that being all that different from these reports you mention now.

    Again, I stick to my personal principles here. I don’t care if they’ve been citizens for only 50 years, or if they’re Palestinians, or whatever. Calls for better representation, freedom, an open society, etc. will always have my approval. It matters very little that Bahrain is less corrupt than other places (which is true). It’s a matter of principle.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | March 15, 2011, 8:13 pm
  80. BV,

    I take your last comment as fully valid in ‘theory’.

    But we have been through a similar discussion in which I believe every one agreed that democracy MUST be simultaneously accompanied by secualrization. You are asking for limp reforms exactly as the protesters are demanding.

    People in the area still have vivid memories of the death squads of the Iraqi PM Maliki and the atrocities that they commited under the nose of the Americans. These death squads have now become the state police targeting anyone who is not a member of the ‘clan’.

    AS it stands now Bahrain is a red line and is not subject for idealistic approaches. Hopefully when things cool down better solutions can be implemented.

    Posted by anonymous | March 15, 2011, 8:36 pm
  81. So QN …

    Anything you can tell us “on the record” in a new post?

    Posted by R2D2 | March 15, 2011, 8:44 pm
  82. “Most Shia who are in Bahrain today have been in Bahrain for 50 years or so”

    that is complete bull, please forgive me but go back and revisit your history about the shia of the eastern province and bahrain. Where do you get off saying “most”, most as in more than 50%? While a significant amount of bahraini shia have persian roots they did not just come to bahrain in the last 50 years its the other way around many sunni’s have come to bahrain in the last 50 years.

    Posted by Tamer K. | March 15, 2011, 10:20 pm
  83. “Most Shia who are in Bahrain today have been in Bahrain for 50 years or so”

    that is complete bull, please forgive me but go back and revisit your history about the shia of the eastern province and bahrain. Where do you get off saying “most”, most as in more than 50%? While a significant amount of bahraini shia have persian roots they did not just come to bahrain in the last 50 years its the other way around many sunni’s have come to bahrain in the last 50 years.

    The shia have a rich and long history history in the eastern province of saudi arabia and bahrain, where they have been the majority for centuries and centuries.

    Posted by tamer K. | March 15, 2011, 10:32 pm
  84. I went to high school in Bahrain and while I could offer a little insight into the situation it seems that fabricating history is most appropriate. R2D2 When the Al Khalifa’s came to Bahrain in the 1700’s, surprise surprise they found a majority shiite population. The ones causing the unrest are not of persian ancestry but they are mostly indigenous Baharna.

    “Shi’ism, which came to Bahrain in 1500, is the island’s dominant religion. Between two thirds and three quarters of the Shia population is native in origin, the remainder being of Iranian descent. This division is social as well as cultural. The Iranian Shia, known as Ajam, are well represented in the middle class professions and politically inactive. They see their relative privilege as contingent on the good will of the ruling Sunni al-Khalifas and are reluctant to jeopardize their position. Their native counterparts, known as Baharna, occupy the lowest strata of society”

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/gulf/bahraidn-religion.htm

    for those interested in Saudi Arabia and the eastern province this is a great read by the crisis group.

    “Saudi Arabia’s roughly two million Shiites represent between 10 and 15 per cent of the total population. Most live and work in the Eastern Province, which they dominate demographically and which is also home
    to the largest oil fields and most expansive processing and refining facilities”

    http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/Middle%20East%20North%20Africa/Iran%20Gulf/Saudi%20Arabia/The%20Shiite%20Question%20in%20Saudi%20Arabia.ashx

    This is not 1979, boiling down the protests in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to foreign, shiite, Iranian influence is silly, the arab world is finally holding their despotic regimes responsible for the injustices they have laid upon their citizens for far too long.

    Posted by tamer K. | March 15, 2011, 11:59 pm
  85. tamer,

    I’ll try to make it brief and straight to the level you want to discuss.

    The Shia in Arab countries are allowed to practice their beliefs freely. Do you disagree? Ordinary people may discriminate in the social sphere based on preconceived notions and that is something that we, as individuals can denounce, but most often cannot control. This matter needs other measures. As for political or economic injustices by the rulers, it is more or less across the board.

    Iran prevents its Sunnis and adherents of other faiths from practicing their faiths or even building their own places of worship and schools.

    Denounce political Shiism and dissociate your Shiism from any connections with the Iranian system of W. of F., which is a perversion even to the Shia belief itself, and sit down for talks. And mind you denunciation and dissociation is not to be just verbal pronunciations, ‘taqiyya’ doesn’t work anymore. Khomeini himself said that.

    (Of course I do not mean your own Shiism in particular but some of the Arab Shia who bear allegiance to, or are in affinity with, this `theocracy“, chef among them of course HNA)

    Otherwise, it is going to be rough if you carefully analyze your linked study.

    I do not need to go back to the Qarmatian or the Kharijite history(both considered extreme perversions of Shia creed) and recount the obscenities they were responsible for. We are lucky that they perished and didn’t last long. I know that history full well, and I also know who were the first rulers of Bahrain after 622 if you are limited in your thoughts only to sectarianism (the level you wanted to discuss). Now how further back do you want to go in the history of Bahrain?

    On the other hand I am mostly interested in Lebanese affairs. I am still waiting for HNA to show us his courage and make his theatrical appearance in front of the Lebanese, and declare himself capable of accepting conclusions of an investigation based on evidence beyond REASONABLE doubt.

    Posted by anonymous | March 16, 2011, 12:55 am
  86. anon I appreciate your reply, but I am still lost. Please provide me with on iota of evidence to back up your unsubstantiated and fabricated claim that “Most Shia who are in Bahrain today have been in Bahrain for 50 years or so”

    and please refrain from using tangentiality, much obliged

    Posted by tamer k. | March 16, 2011, 1:11 am
  87. tamer,

    You seem to be arguing for the sake of argument. The answers to all your concerns are there.

    Posted by anonymous | March 16, 2011, 1:22 am
  88. Anyways it’s pointless to argue, the good news is that the Shi’a will rule Lebanon and the world just in spite of the petty racist scum Anonymous and his likes, even in Canada they are coming to get yah better run back to Mars where you will be free from those dirty and pesky Shi’a and take your dumbass side kick R2D2 with you :)

    Posted by V | March 16, 2011, 2:12 am
  89. My flatmate has alerted me to news report of another demonstration in al sham – makes me feel optimistic.

    It would be good to have a think piece from our excellent host of this website – a theoretical piece – What would it mean for Libanon if Syrie were to become or move in the direction of Egypt and overthrow its dictatorship? What could this mean for Libanon?

    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/20113151834383782.html

    Posted by s. al-riachi | March 16, 2011, 4:52 am
  90. s. al-riachi

    could you settle on one way to spell your name? every time you post with a slightly different version of your moniker, i have to take it out of moderation.

    thanks

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 16, 2011, 8:46 am
  91. Hi everyone

    I’m currently on a brief and long overdue vacation. If I can tear myself away from the beach, maybe I’ll find some time to post.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 16, 2011, 8:48 am
  92. http://middeno.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/wikileaks-on-the-2006-israeli-war-on-lebanon-it-is-beginning/#comment-1389

    Does anyone know what kind of Wikileaks documents this is? Is it a cable leak??

    Qifa, if you could, please do not release the comment I posted prior to this. I unconsciously included my last name…thanks

    Posted by Nasser V | March 16, 2011, 11:05 am
  93. Nasser

    these are Memo’s from Jeffrey Feltman when he was ambassador in Lebanon
    Alkhbar will post a link to the real Documents when they are published on the wikileaks website. This is the second installment here’s the ones published yesterday

    http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/6481/

    http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/6482/

    http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/6500/

    http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/6501/

    Posted by elsheikh | March 16, 2011, 12:48 pm
  94. The more I read the above discussion, the more I feel sorry for us Arabs. There’s still just too much sectarianism very apparent.

    When you guys are willing to compromise “idealistic” solutions and start arguing about sectarian red lines in Bahrain, it’s just sad. Let alone making up facts about the shia make-up of Bahrain being Persian vs. Indigenous. IT DOESNT MATTER.

    You guys are showing exactly why the Arab world is still a backwards idiotic place populated with vast numbers of imbeciles. No personal offense.

    It galls me to no end to see people arguing about democracy and all that fun stuff and then saying “well, but we can’t have the shia of Bahrain ask for democracy because they’re not native, it’s a red line, mullahs of Iran, blah blah blah.”

    I’m sorry. But a principle is a principle.
    SPECIALLY one such as democracy which rests around the concept of EQUALITY. Your very arguments are stripping away all notions of equality when you use different logic and rationales for one people but not another.

    I’ll repeat, I don’t care if the Bahrainis are shia, sunnis, Persian or Armenians. There is never an excuse for being ruled by an authoritarian regime who’s willing to open fire on its people. NEVER. FULL STOP.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | March 16, 2011, 1:13 pm
  95. “You guys are showing exactly why the Arab world is still a backwards idiotic place populated with vast numbers of imbeciles. No personal offense.”

    Agree 100% and even without your disclaimer.

    Blame it on GWB. He gave the backwards and the imbeciles an awful and monstrous example of democratic governance in Iraq. And also he fought badly and didn’t finish the fight. That is typically American – Beirut 1983 comes to mind. I also heard Petraeous is maneuvering for an exit out of Afghan.

    Posted by anonymous | March 16, 2011, 2:55 pm
  96. Back to Lebanon however, Miqati is now saying the constitution does not allow any sect or combination of allied sects, political party or a combination of parties to have a decisive or a blocking vote in the cabinet. What exactly does he mean by that?

    It looks too complicated right now to do the math.

    Posted by anonymous | March 16, 2011, 3:22 pm
  97. anon #298
    I have read the Mikati statement with a great deal of bewilderment. He sounds so befuddled that it would be best if he would ask to be relieved of this duty.
    I would respectfully disagree totally with the interpretation of the Lebanese consitution by Mr. Mikati. I am of the opinion that his interpretation is so misguided that it does not deserve a serious comment or response . If however, the PM designateis convinced of his point of view then he should submit this question to the Constitutional Council so that it will be cleared once and for all. The fact that the constitution makes a reference to a cabinet that is inclusive does not mean a cabinet that is composed of all elected political parties but I believe that the intent was merely a reference that would prevent the formation of a cabinet from one faith in a country that is based on sectarianism.
    To be honest, I think that Mr. Mikati is attempting to justify his inability to form a cabinet that is not only from the HA alliance. If he cannot live with the conditions that are being applied by HA and its allies then he has only three options:
    (1) Form a cabinet of technocrats
    (2) form a cabinet similar to the one just dissolved :-)
    (3) Resign and let someone else form the cabinet.

    My preference has been (1) all throughout.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 16, 2011, 4:19 pm
  98. Today, “Israel” did not invade Lebanon. That is due to the valor of The Resistance and the strength of their arms.
    The rest of your discussions about “politics” and “democracy” is just a distracting sideshow.

    Posted by dontgetit | March 16, 2011, 4:27 pm
  99. Good times… Good times…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | March 16, 2011, 4:42 pm
  100. For those who are interested in the Mikati constitutional pronouncements but do not have the time to double check what he is rambling : The Preamble to the Lebanese constitution speaks in section J as follows “j. There is no constitutional legitimacy for any authority which contradicts the ‘pact of communal coexistence’.”

    How can anyone possibly interpret the above to mean that the constitution prohibits the cabinet from being of one colour is beyond my comprehension?

    I would even go further saying that the not so veiled reference in section J of the preamble is to the National Covenant of 1943 which allocated the top three government posts to the Maronites, Sunnis and Shia and expected that to be so provided the Maronites will not seek foreign protection and the Moslems will in exchange not seek unification with another Arab country. (The national pact even went further as to allocate the assistant speakership of the Camber of deputies to a Greek Orrthodox).

    This religious tribalism must be broken but I have become convinced that it will not until we pass a strong and effective Bill of Rights. Once that is done then individuals will no longer feel the need to associate with a tribe to protect their rights. That would help usher in an era of responsible citizenship.

    For the lawyers who might read this post: Section 12 of the Lebanese Constitution speaks of maerit and competence as the only preconditiond to any elected office. Does this mean that I could nominate myself to a public post that does not conform to my official government records of my religion and once my nomination is refused then I can have that challenged in a court of law. I am sure that this simple idea must have occured to many others, why hasn’t it been done?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 16, 2011, 5:11 pm
  101. I believe that the Arab League increased its budget by $61 million during its last meeting at Sirt last year. This means that the Arab league has an annual budget of around 3/4 of a billion US dollars.
    I hereby humbly suggest that we dissolve the Arab League that has never disappointed in failing the masses and their aspirations. This league has been nothing short of an instrument of oppresion, and a platform for dictators to speak to the world. These funds will be so much more effective if they were to be allocated to alleviate poverty , illiteracy and disease among the Arab masses.

    In my view the Arab league has never accomplished anything meaningful but in light of its disasterous performance to stop the massacres in Libya and the daily use of force against peaceful demonstrators in Bahrain the League has lost all credibility.
    What does anyone make of its latest position in Libya. After 42 bloody days of bombing, straffing and killing the protesters by the Qaddafi forces the Arab League decided to give a green light to the UN to establish a no fly zone but not to have any foreign interference. Can anyone explain this position? Of course not.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 16, 2011, 7:01 pm
  102. GK,

    I applaud your last comment.

    Apparently the latest is that there will be a United Nation resolution passed for enforcing a no-fly over Libya through a multi-national force with heavy Arab military involvement.

    I think this will be an “Arabs pulling the triggers and dropping the bombs” with the West and rest giving more logistical support.

    I think that’s the only way.

    Did you hear about the money implications with Sarkozy?

    Berlusconi must be having loose stool :)

    Posted by R2D2 | March 16, 2011, 7:42 pm
  103. #305

    I would suspect it would be the Egyptian and Tunisian Armies liberating the Libyan people … and whatever other regime thinks it can score some badly needed points at home sending in their national armies.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 16, 2011, 7:59 pm
  104. Ghassan,

    I have no problem the AL getting trashed. In fact it is a good idea. Many others suggested long ago that they should stop making summit and ministerial meetings in order to save on the cost of travel and accomodations.

    But I want to know the truth about what some said about France saying that the Arabs are ready for heavy military involvement in Libya. Is there any truth behind such ‘reports’?

    I do not know exactly what section of the constitution Miqati was reffering to. Obviously, it is a maneuvre. But from the practical point of view it means nothing:

    1) he is ruled by HA and its weapons and not least of all its black shirts division.

    2) So it doesn’t matter what the government decides.

    3) That is similar of the Iranian way of governing.

    4) We are already in the W. of F. regime.

    5) But how would he determine who is associated with who to allocate cabinet posts? Do we really have such ‘neutral’ angels in that country?

    One of his ministers-to-be (Safadi) is now being vetoed by ‘higher-ups’ for his past history in arms trading.

    Posted by anonymous | March 16, 2011, 8:28 pm
  105. Who thinks the heroes of The Resistance will successfully deter “israeli” aggression today?
    I do.

    Posted by dontgetit | March 17, 2011, 9:58 am
  106. anon,
    Are you sure that Safadi has a history of arms trading? I do know that Mikati would not have embarked on his current quest without Mr. Safadis’ support and so I suspect that Safadi will get the portfolio that he wants in the new cabinet. What i did not know was that minister Safadi has had a deep involvement in the arms trade and that it was serious enough so as to prompt others to veto his name on such grounds.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 17, 2011, 10:22 am
  107. Ghassan,

    I just googled to see if there were any relevant information…
    I guess where there is smoke…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/dec/02/bae.armstrade

    Posted by danny | March 17, 2011, 10:45 am
  108. dontgetit,

    you chosen moniker is very… fitting.

    Posted by htj | March 17, 2011, 11:08 am
  109. Thanks danny. If that is all what there is then minister Safadi is not implicated of arms trading at all. Actually he is not the subject of the investigation. The British authorities want to ascertain that his bank accounts were not used to transfer funds to Prince Sultan. I am a believer , until proven otherwise, in the innocence of minister Safadi.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 17, 2011, 11:35 am
  110. Since when being an arms dealer is grounds for exclusion from becoming a Minister in Lebanon? Isn’t being a killer or a thief a positive differentiator for the job? :)

    Posted by V | March 17, 2011, 12:04 pm
  111. Ghassan,

    Lebanese newspaper yesterday mentioned the US put veto on him. Danny’s ‘smoke’ report may be behind the story I read.

    Posted by anonymous | March 17, 2011, 2:23 pm
  112. GK #303,

    I don’t think Mikati’s statements were related to forming a one-color government insofar as excluding (by their own choice) the March 14 coalition (If that’s what you’re saying). Rather they were related to the impasse between the FPM and the President, in particular over the interior ministry. It seems to me he’s answering Aoun’s demands for that ministry especially his assertion that the Constitution doesn’t necessarily allot ministries to the President, as well as FPM’s demand of 11 ministries (or more?) for the C&R bloc. I think he’s saying: “hell no”, but in a nice way.

    Constitutionally speaking, article J that you quoted seems quite vague and I think it could be interpreted as: one party cannot be the overwhelming or sole representative of the Christian posts in the cabinet, you know for the sake of the “communal pact of coexistence”, possibly the vaguest phrase I’ve heard.

    Posted by Indie | March 17, 2011, 2:37 pm
  113. anon/Indie/V/danny
    To the best of my knowledge Aldiyar is the only paper that managed to scoop all others by reporting a veto by the US and Europe on Safadi joining the new cabinet.
    I find that very difficult to believe. Why hasn’t anyone complained earlier, after all this is his either 2nd or 3rd appointment. And why would they veto only the Finance Ministry appointment?
    I have no problem in the concept of not appointing an arms dealer to the cabinet if that is to be the custom in Lebanon but I do have a problem in accepting a veto from foreign countries on a ministerial appointment. I just hope that the news item in Al Diyar is a total fabrication. Is there anything that we can do on our own as a sovereign country? I guess not since rumours have it that the cabinet has not been formed yet because Syria has not yet asked the parties to stop their childish squabbles.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 17, 2011, 5:45 pm
  114. Ghassan,

    I really don’t believe anything that AlDiyar would publish. It could be most likely a ploy to try to weaken Safadi. I believe that Mikati & safadi are finished politically! As for the government formation; I still reiterate that when Syria thinks it is time…It will advise Mikati to “create” that government! It all is in Syria’s court. Although I am certain it would be pissing bullets if the UN resolution on Syria passes to today. It’s ramifications would resonate through Iran & Syria!!

    Posted by danny | March 17, 2011, 5:56 pm
  115. …Sorry I rather meant the UN resolution on LIBYA….

    Posted by danny | March 17, 2011, 5:57 pm
  116. danny,
    I just cannot resist the temptation to jump the gun instead of playing it safe by waiting another 5 hours for the UNSC Libyan resolution. If the resolution is to create a no fly zone accompanied by a strong language that permits the use of other means then Qaddafi is history as he should have been by know.
    What I find interesting also is the fact that if the above is to happen then one more time the go to country is the US. If that is to happen then I wonder what kind of a reaction such acts will encourage in the Middle East? Would Qaddafi be tempted to bring down the temple on himself and others by commiting the ultimate revenge of blowing up some oil fields? Would a victory by the rebels encourage demonstrators in Syria to take to the streets and finally would the message that the use of military force against civilians is not to be tolerated encourage dissent in Saudi Arabia? The Security Council tonight is no longer sending a message to the Libyan dictator but is potentially encouraging the cause of personal liberty all across the Arab world.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 17, 2011, 6:19 pm
  117. Thanks lally, that was quicker and has stronger language than I would have ever thought. Let the games begin, all over again.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 17, 2011, 6:49 pm
  118. Gus,

    France has said they are willing to front the mission….So USA has their allies do the deed. It is not only a no fly zone; but protecting the defenseless people and all under Chapter 7.

    Again, Syria & Iran take note…actually HA should take note! they are not immune any more!

    We will see what Gaddafi tries…His “liberation war” is over.

    Posted by danny | March 17, 2011, 7:34 pm
  119. HP,

    Surprise, surprise, a no-fly zone is passed in the UNSC!

    At the 11th hour.

    Time to teach Gad-fly a lesson about democracy. This should be fun.

    Lally,

    Are you glad the resolution passed? Why or why not?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 17, 2011, 7:41 pm
  120. I do not think a UN resolution of no-fly zone would alter the balance as it stands right now.

    Both sides might just dig in and try to control the oil fields and the means for their exports.

    Who is willing to send in troops and engage in the field? That is the million dollar question. If there are no volunteers then forget it. It would just procrastinate.

    al-Jazeera reports four Arab countries are willing to send in troops. It does not name which countries made the offer. But despite the huge effort al-Jazeera exerted in the last few months, its reporting should be analyzed carefully. Al-Jazeera has a clear agenda associated with a certain line of ‘thought’.

    Agree about Addiyar. I read it, but I don’t take every thing from it for granted.

    Posted by anonymous | March 17, 2011, 7:45 pm
  121. anon…

    Remember what the resolution says: No OCCUPYING force!!

    Posted by danny | March 17, 2011, 7:58 pm
  122. Danny,

    Are you saying two different things in 322 & 325?

    How would the UN protect the defensless without sending ground troops?

    My guess is the wording of the resolution is meant to circumvent possible objections by the rebels and also prevent Qaddafi from using a military intervention for his propaganda purposes.

    They (the UN) could still send troops under differnt mandate other than occupation.

    But I also think the UN security council will not be able to authorize such intervention under any pretext. The big 5 will not agree. If it is to be done, it has to be done similar to the first Gulf war.

    Posted by anonymous | March 17, 2011, 8:20 pm
  123. Anon,

    I was just reading off the resolution. I guess any force that enters to “blow off” gadaffi’s militia and retreat is not considered an “occupying force”…

    Posted by danny | March 17, 2011, 8:49 pm
  124. A palace.

    Yes and no and it depends.

    My American heart is with the resistance; it’s in our DNA.

    From Libyan Kid;

    “So far, 2011 has taught us three things: 1. How to rise like a Tunisian 2. How to protest like an Egyptian 3. How to fight like a Libyan.”

    http://twitter.com/Libyayalibya

    My American brain worries over caveats and cautions about a prominent US role subverting the empowerment as expressed above.

    Here’s an early background/overview of the NFZ situation thus far.:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europeans-say-intervention-in-libya-possible-within-hours-of-un-vote/2011/03/17/ABSb9pl_story.html?hpid=z2

    Posted by lally | March 17, 2011, 9:50 pm
  125. AP, hopefully it’s not too little too late. Best player so far has been France followed by the UK. Sec’y Gates is going to get some blame for being too timid early on. At least now no one can use the “America the devil” pretext. It’s the world speaking with one voice. The message from the Arab League is also to be commended.
    Anonymous is right. The key question is who is willing to send forces on the ground. An overwhelming force is needed along with swift targeted attacks on Gadhdhafi and his sons. I predict they’re history. They gambled and went “all in” and I think the river card will be their undoing. The end of the Lybian madman.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 17, 2011, 10:31 pm
  126. Lally,

    I prefer the word “freedom” to “resistance”. The Libyans aren’t fighting a foreign occupation, they’re fighting for freedom.

    The west can enforce a no-fly zone fairly easily. It’s target practice. Then they supply weapons in addition to those the Egyptians are sending. Go with your heart.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 17, 2011, 10:36 pm
  127. HP/anon,
    This is a chapter 7 resolution. It is serious and Qadaffi is finished. The vague language of “other measures” is obviously put there on purpose. There is no word in a security council resolution that is not analyzed from every possible way prior to its inclusion. Time will tell , but I feel certain that this means that the planes enforcing the no fly zone will also prevent Qadaffi from using the military to quell a civil disturbance. A military is not to be used against the people it was meant to protect. There will be some Arab cover but I will be surprised if the heavy lifting is not done by US, France and the UK. HP, its regrettable that gates did not move earlier but I think this was intended. The US wanted to make sure that it is not blamed for another war in a Moslem country. No doubt US hegemony is no where as dominant as it used to be, which is good but the lesson from Serbia is that a NATO action is essentially a US action. France and the UK have some resources but not enough to carry a critical mission.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 17, 2011, 11:46 pm
  128. Agree, Ghassan, Qaddafi and Sons are finished with or without intervention, and even if they regains Benghazi as Qaddafi was gloating today. I was looking as usual from the situation as is. The wording of the resolution was also the gist of my comments with Dan.

    There may be some truth to the Arab offer of sending troops. I also believe France lobbied based on some information it had to that effect.

    I do not think the Arabs would look at it as an invasion of a Moslem country even if the US was involved. But I do think the US lost a golden opportunity to achieve what it has been trying to achieve since it invaded Afghanistan and Iraq – i.e. winning the hearts and minds of the Arabs and Muslims in general. It should have been in the fore front since the beginning.

    If you have been following on the details of Clinton’s recent visits to Egypt and Tunisia, you would know what I mean by the above.

    Posted by anonymous | March 18, 2011, 12:11 am
  129. The US has already missed the boat on many of these revolutions and is simply playing catch-up (Clinton in the ME right now). The reality is their timidity on Libya stems from the fact that they really do not know what to do: “Ghadafi is a son-of-a-b*tch but we know him and he is cooperating, who will come in his place if we help take him out?” That kind of thinking. Right now they are simply following the Europeans on this one and trying to salvage some credibility that is non-existent.

    Everyone is counting out the butchering clown Ghadafi way too early. No one really knows what the end game is, and I don’t think that Western powers are so quick to get rid of Ghadafi and simply hand Libya to an unknown entity yet called the “rebels,” the humanitarian issue notwithstanding. The Arab League’s blessings in this regard is also more of a hint that they were brought in spite of themselves. Does anyone believe that Saudi Arabia, for instance, who frothed about the mouth against the Egyptian protesters up until the last second until Mubarak’s fate was sealed, and who now invades and suppresses the peaceful uprising of another Arab country, cares to have another blooming Arab democracy to contend with? This game, unfortunately, is not over.

    Posted by Saint | March 18, 2011, 1:29 am
  130. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan, the Government of Japan and especially our friends there… as well as the Japanese embassies Worldwide….

    Posted by HK | March 18, 2011, 3:54 am
  131. ذكرت «الديار» في عددها امس، ووفق معلومات وردتها من فاكس اوروبي، معلومات عن الوزير محمد الصفدي بشأن تجارة السلاح، وتبين ان هذه المعلومات كاذبة ولا أساس لها من الصحة. واستفسرت «الديار» من مصدر دولي بشأن هذا الخبر، فقال: ان الوزير الصفدي ليس له علاقة بتجارة السلاح وسجله نظيف، وان اعماله في بريطانيا تسير وفق القوانين ويتمتع بمصداقية عالية في بريطانيا والدول الاوروبية والولايات المتحدة الأميركية، وان كل أعماله تخضع للشفافية الكاملة.

    اضافة الى ذلك فإن «الديار» تعتبر منذ فترة طويلة ان الوزير الصفدي نجح في كل الوزارات التي تولاها من وزارة الاشغال العامة والنقل الى وزارة الاقتصاد وسينجح حتماً في وزارة المالية التي سيتسلمها في هذه الحكومة، وهي بالمناسبة تعتذر عن الخطإ الذي وقعت فيه بشأن المعلومات المغلوطة التي وردت في حق الوزير محمد الصفدي والتي يبدو ان احدى الجهات تريد محاربة الوزير الصفدي وتريد الحاق الأذى به فوقعت «الديار» في هذا الخطإ، وقد سبب الخبر الاذى للوزير الصفدي فنعتذر منه مجدداً

    Posted by HK | March 18, 2011, 4:46 am
  132. The heroes of The Resistance were successful yesterday in deterring the bloodthirsty Zionist aggressors from invading Lebanon. I trust that their mighty arms and fierce courage will help save Lebanon again today.

    Posted by dontgetit | March 18, 2011, 8:53 am
  133. 336. we know you worship the Iranian pasdaran.:D
    The only people Lebanon needs saving from is the illegal militia called HizbAllah.
    Cheers

    Posted by danny | March 18, 2011, 9:04 am
  134. Saint @333:

    If you really believe what you state in that post then your perspective is colored by an irrational analysis of events and declarations and politics.

    – While it is correct that the US was unwisely hesitant early in this Libyan disaster, the hesitation stemmed from valid concerns about overstretching military capability and of producing the opposite effect by having Gadhdhafi & Co. decry imperialist interference. The response was slow but now that it’s there the power of the support form the Arab League and the UN (led by Lebanon, did you notice that?) takes away any concern about this anti-American argument/weapon being used.

    – There is absolutely no justification to your claim that the US (or the Europeans or the Saudis) are really enamored with Gadhdhafi because they fear what an alternative might be. The statements and positions against him turning his weapons against his people were swift and unequivocal. Where do you get the justification for your claims from? Your gut feeling?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 18, 2011, 9:49 am
  135. Another dictator is clueless. No wonder King Abdullah is reestablishing contacts with Bashar. Dictators have to stand together.

    What a warped view of the world. Dissent, freedom of expression and diversity are viewed as destructive punishable activities activities. Do we really need to hold the believers in such views in anything besides derision? Saudi Arabia is quickly becoming the last refuge of authoritarian dictators in the world.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 18, 2011, 11:06 am
  136. GK,

    The incomplete list …

    Syria
    Saudi Arabia
    Kuwait
    Qatar
    Bahrain
    Yemen
    Iran
    North Korea
    Zimbabwe
    Cuba
    Uzbekistan
    Jordan
    Chad
    Turkmenistan
    Burma
    Laos
    Central African Republic
    Laos
    Equatorial Guini
    Congo
    Djibouti
    Madagascar
    Morocco
    Ethiopia
    Burkina Faso
    Togo
    Algeria
    Cameroon
    Rwanda
    Mauritania
    Kazakhstan
    Angola
    Azerbaijan
    Nigeria
    Belarus
    Vietnam

    Posted by R2D2 | March 18, 2011, 12:19 pm
  137. Equatorial Guinea

    Posted by R2D2 | March 18, 2011, 12:21 pm
  138. In a comment in a previous post, I mentioned the Syrians will get inspired by the Libyan fighters and their sacrifices. They have no other choice for the alternative to the Syrian people is a reputation of cowardice among the Arabs having been subjugated to utter submission by the Assads and their clan for over 40 years.

    There is now a sign that the Syrians are breaking the barrier of fear. Two people were killed today, one north in Aleppo and another south in Dara’a by security forces. Hundreds were arrested. I believe this will go on and escalate from now on. Bashar has rough days ahead for him

    Ghassan, again your analysis is flawed and you are not going to see what you’re hoping for. While the rule in Saudi is authoritarian, the King can by no means be described as a dictator in the same vein as Assad. The new contacts with Bashar were aimed at delivering a message to Iran from the King and Muallem was in Tehran for that purpose today. It is hard to speculate what the message was, but I would assume it is something like behave yourselves or face the consequences.

    Again I assure Saudi will not witness any significant disturbances if none at all. The King IS very popular.

    When the Syrian regime falls the Middle East will witness its new birth in this century. PERIOD.

    Posted by anonymous | March 18, 2011, 2:09 pm
  139. It seems the virus has now spread into Syria.

    Media outlets and twitter is reporting clashes and deaths in several towns between the security apparatus and demonstrators in Syria.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 18, 2011, 2:11 pm
  140. Will Iran support these protests and protestors ?

    Posted by R2D2 | March 18, 2011, 2:13 pm
  141. Anon

    How is KSA not a dictatorship?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 18, 2011, 2:17 pm
  142. Will Hezbolah support them ?

    What will these protests mean for Aoun and Nasrallah? What will be their position should the Syrian regime fall?

    These are questions that the political body in Lebanon will now have to take into consideration.

    What will be the position of the President?

    Posted by R2D2 | March 18, 2011, 2:18 pm
  143. Qifa,

    I am at work now. But I’ll respond briefly.
    KSA is a tribal society ruled by the old age custom of consensus seeking consultations dressed by some religous ‘injunctions’.

    Most Saudis recognize the legtimacy of such custom. If given a choice between democratic rule coupled with wide spread disturbances and their traditions, they will opt for the custom. The Sauds are also shrewd and will respond to popular demands as the case may warrant. Significant reforms were introduced by this King since he took office and are still ongoing.

    Posted by anonymous | March 18, 2011, 3:05 pm
  144. A couple of days late, but cannot let go of what anonymous wrote about the Carmathians in Bahrain. They established an independent republic based on Ismaili religious principles mixed with anti-classist communitarianism, economic socialism, and participatory political ideals! What should be considered a model for Arab-Islamic democracy is just brushed aside by you as a deviation? If you dot agree with an approach to history like that of Hussein Mroueh (Al Naz’at Al-Maddiya fil Falsafa Al Arabiya Al Islamiya) about the Carmathians__and the Khawarij–what kind of approach to history do you advocate? A Fukuyama or Huntingtonian approach or the more benign forms of modernization theory? Just curious!

    Posted by parrhesia | March 18, 2011, 3:08 pm
  145. What happens in Syria will have more effect on Lebanon than any internal bickering. Just imagine a couple of million refugees from a Syrian civil war pouring into Lebanon. Or the inability to use Syria as a land bridge to the Arab world. Or a Sunni theocracy next door. Interesting times.

    Posted by AIG | March 18, 2011, 4:22 pm
  146. AIG,

    It will more have an effect on Israel lol…Imagine your best buddy the Assads turfed out!

    Posted by danny | March 18, 2011, 4:40 pm
  147. HP-

    I did not mean to throw cold water on all our sincere and shared hopes for the Libyan people. It was simply a word of caution that we should not get suckered into believing that the US, and for that matter the other European countries are doing this solely for humanitarian purposes. There is just too much history and too many examples to demonstrate otherwise. Regardless we both want the same thing in the end. I would simply like to keep my guard, and my commonsense, up.

    Posted by Saint | March 18, 2011, 4:41 pm
  148. Danny,

    Yeah, our best buddies, the guys that brought Iran next door. I much prefer a democracy but will take crazy Sunnies over Assad any day. If Iran becomes a democracy, then I would prefer the Assads to crazy Sunnies.

    Posted by AIG | March 18, 2011, 4:50 pm
  149. AIG #352

    Why would you prefer the Assads to crazy Sunnis if Iran become a democracy?

    Posted by R2D2 | March 18, 2011, 4:54 pm
  150. R2D2,

    Because the Assads would not be a forward base for Iran any more and would be even weaker and would not even dream of attacking Israel directly or through proxies while crazy Sunnies are unpredictable by nature (see Hamas).

    Posted by AIG | March 18, 2011, 5:09 pm
  151. AIG

    I don’t get it.

    Are you implying that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are sponsoring Hamas?

    Posted by R2D2 | March 18, 2011, 5:19 pm
  152. R2d2,

    Of course not.
    All I am saying is that it is unpredictable how crazy Sunnies will act when in power. For example, they may invite Palestinians to attack Israel from Syria. Who knows what stupid things they could do in the beginning? Listen to what Qardawi says regarding Israel.
    On the other hand, what Assad will do is known.

    Posted by AIG | March 18, 2011, 5:27 pm
  153. AIG,

    You’ve obviously never been to Syria :)

    Posted by R2D2 | March 18, 2011, 5:30 pm
  154. Sorry to butt into the conversation, but maybe if the AIGs of this world can stop electing their own Carzy Likudniks and deal sincerely with the Palestinians, then it would do not matter so much who is in power in Syria after all. How is it that the onus is always on the Arabs to “behave properly” towards Israel yet they see no real need to shape up themselves and behave humanely towards the Palestinians?

    Posted by Saint | March 18, 2011, 6:12 pm
  155. AIG,

    I’ve never been able to buy your proclaiming yourself an atheist Jew.

    How can you justify your rights to the land of Israel as an atheist, when the raison d’etre of your country is purely religious?

    Posted by R2D2 | March 18, 2011, 6:24 pm
  156. Why don’t you move to the US?

    There are just as many Jews living there as in Israel.

    You are Americans. Why do you still hold on to these utter stupid ultra Orthodox idiots that make you want to believe you have to work hard and be willing die for them to live tax free babbling from their stupid scrolls in Israel?

    Posted by R2D2 | March 18, 2011, 6:32 pm
  157. anon #342
    I know that I will not see what I am hoping for, liberty, freedom and democracy ; not even in Egypt. :-)
    One synonym for authoritarianism is “despotic” so what is the difference between a despot and a dictator?

    If you are interested in my brief analysis , so far, of the Egyptian situation : Egypt might be slightly better off as a result of the recent youth movemennt but make no mistake about it what took place in Egypt is a revolution only on the surface. Let the youth think that they have changed the system when in reality another general, a 75 year old one for that matter is in control. Mubaraks’ big faux pas was preparing his son Gamal to take over. I think that is where he lost the support of the military who have been ruling Egypt since 1952.
    King Abdullah might be a very pious man who is interested in promoting justice, equality and prosperity. Yet he is an absolute ruler who ultimately says its my way or the highway. There is no room for dissent, personal expression and new ideas. It is a despotic regime that is not sustainable.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 18, 2011, 6:37 pm
  158. R2D2,

    Well, that is the problem in the middle east. You think you know better than me what I am.

    I’ll repeat for the one thousand time. Zionism is a secular movement based in 19th century European nationalism. Its founder is Herzl, a secular Jew. It was formed when secular Jews realized they could not be assimilated into European countries because of antisemitism. See the Dreyfus Affair.
    As for my rights to the land, what is there to justify? I have a deed to my house. If you think it is illegal, you are welcome to go to any court to challenge it. If you want to get my land by force, that is what the IDF is for. My house is mine not because God gave it to me or promised it to me. It is mine because I have a deed that is legal in Israel and because I am willing to defend my house against people that want to take it by force.

    Posted by AIG | March 18, 2011, 6:44 pm
  159. R2D2,

    Regarding 360, come visit Israel and you will understand why. You have a very wrong picture of what Israel really is.

    Posted by AIG | March 18, 2011, 6:46 pm
  160. AIG,

    Go invite the people who were born on the title deed you now live on for coffee and dates.

    I have no interest in what you have made of yourself at the expense of people that have been living in refugee camps for the last 70 years.

    I know. They’re not your problem.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 18, 2011, 7:13 pm
  161. R2d2,

    My grandparents were refugees too. They made a good life for themselves. Of course the Palestinian refugees are the problem of the Arab world. The 850,000 Jews from Arab lands that came to Israel built a life for themselves and did not stay refugees. Why you would keep the Palestinians in refugee camps so long is for you to answer. Israel’s success is not at the expense of the Palestinians. The Palestinian refugees could have succeeded in Arab countries if given a fair chance and in fact in some countries they did better than others.

    Posted by AIG | March 18, 2011, 7:45 pm
  162. Habibi AIG,

    Your grandparents might have been refugees … but I was one from 1975 till I came back home in 2008,

    The primary reason being your Grandparents moving in 250 miles down south.

    Thank you. Really. From the bottom of my heart.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 18, 2011, 7:56 pm
  163. Parhesia 348,

    I am not sure if it was my comment about the Carmathians which raised your curiosity. I have a feeling it was one of my more recent comments. But nevertheless, with all due respect to Mroui I find it it childish on his part to propose Ismaili ideology as a model for Arab Democracy. They (the Ismailis) have been refuted historically as well as intellectually by quite few eminent personalities. As for your other questions the answer is no to both I am neither for End of History nor for Clash of Civilizations. I hope that would satisfy your curiosity.

    Ghassan 361,

    Speaking of end of history, it is still debatable since time immemorial whether democracy is indeed the most legitimate form of government to us humans. As you said it may not happen in Egypt even though it is one of the most qualified states. But I still maintain that Syria’s transition would make a huge step forward in that direction. They are the most qualified to produce a functioning democracy that would satisfy the aspirations of all citizens. I am for a return to the time when Arab policies were set by Syria and Egypt but not necessarily under the disproven ideologies.

    I suggest you forget about the Gulf States and let them deal with their own problems the way they know best. We up north suffered most when the axis of power or policy-making shifted in the direction of the politics of petrodollars.

    Posted by anonymous | March 18, 2011, 8:13 pm
  164. AIG,

    I wonder how long before you’re going to wake up to the Ponzi scheme you seem to be unwittingly a part of?

    Posted by R2D2 | March 18, 2011, 10:08 pm
  165. Well- it would appear that the dictators are fighting back. The Saudi King threatens, meanwhile 3 protesters are killed in Syria, 45 in Yemen. Brutality is unleashed in Bahrain – where they think that by bringing down a monument, they can bring down an idea – and many more fall at the hands of the Lunatic of Libya. The dictators are fighting back, unaware that the genie is out of the bottle.

    Perhaps they think that the world is distracted by the disaster in Japan and that they can now do as they please.

    I just hope beyond hope that they all live to see the day they are held accountable for their crimes.

    Posted by R | March 19, 2011, 1:25 am
  166. Nasrallah’s latest speech (Eng);

    http://abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=232373

    Posted by lally | March 19, 2011, 5:55 pm
  167. Now that the UN can take some credit for saving the Libyan populace through the security council and chapter 7 nonetheless would this play any role in changing hearts in Lebanon regarding the STL? Would some , those sitting on the fence, jump to the side of the legitimacy of the STL and if so are there enough to make a difference?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 19, 2011, 7:08 pm
  168. Gus,

    There is no reason to worry about Lebanon…

    Bahrain
    yemen
    Syria
    Iran

    in that order…

    Posted by danny | March 19, 2011, 7:15 pm
  169. Did Nasrallah celebrate the protests in Damascus also?

    Posted by Maverick | March 19, 2011, 8:32 pm
  170. R2D2,

    The ME is full of Ponzi Schemes. Libya is the another in a long series. Democracy is the only way out.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 19, 2011, 9:00 pm
  171. There are some videos about the Syrian protests.

    http://www.nowlebanon.com/BlogDetails.aspx?TID=1321&FID=6

    Also you may not want to miss on the comic exchanges going on at Syriacomment.

    By the way, who the hell is this so-called Israeli Guy to tell the Syrians what his preferences are regarding Syria’s choices? That is the worst kind of conceit I ever read, notwithstanding his deed to a ‘house’ that is not really his.

    Clinton finally realized that the Bahrain protests were actually instigated by the Iranian mullahs. I wonder what took her so long.

    HNA’s latest speech in a way justifies most of the mistakes committed by March 14 after 2005, especially the mistakes relating to holding to power. He is now in the same pit. But how stupid he looks when he considers that taking the government is a quid pro quo for the upcoming indictments? Most laughable is his stupid justification for his illegal weapons and presenting them as the means which protected the mass rally of the Lebanese that were all saying a BIG NO to his weapons. The guy is finished along with his little ‘Nejjad’ of Lebanon, sorry Miqati.

    Posted by anonymous | March 19, 2011, 11:42 pm
  172. Maverick,

    Syria & Iran are divine countries and their protesters imperialist & Zionist saboteurs! :D

    Posted by danny | March 20, 2011, 8:42 am
  173. anonymous, if you’re referring to AIG, while I haven’t followed his most recent posts on SyriaComment, I have developed the opinion that he is a very straightforward person who uses very solid reason (pure reason unencumbered by religious faith) to form and communicate his opinion.
    While I don’t agree with him on everything I do find his insight, as well as his help in understanding Israeli and Zionist psyche, motivations, and perspectives, very instructive.
    This is a guy who will admit to you that unfair horrors were committed as part of establishing Israel although he then qualifies it with the necessity of moving forward now, with, as he states, two options for opponents: overwhelm Israel with military force and re-capture what they claim (and he states correctly the successful defense mounted by all its supporters worldwide) or compromise on an accommodation with absolute guarantees of peace and non-aggression with it in exchange for land return compromises.
    AIG’s comments about the majority secular nature of Israel are correct and its enemies are better served by gaining a true understanding of this people and society instead of hollow and ignorant demonization based on incorrect and purely religious perspectives.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 20, 2011, 9:04 am
  174. I am proud to report that today’s manifestation against our confessional system and its leaders was attended by an astounding +50,000 people from all walks of life.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 20, 2011, 9:33 am
  175. R2D2,
    That is one of the best news that I have heard. I hope that the base continues to grow and broaden. Paradoxically, GMA and Frangieh are contributing to this secular feeling of separating religion from politics a lot. (I say paradoxically since I find myself opposed to their political philosophy )Both GMA and Fragieh kep on saying that Bkirki is our Margaeih but only in religious affairs. I wish that some Sunnis and Shia plus some Druz will make similar statements.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 20, 2011, 9:53 am
  176. HP,

    Yes, I was referring to that same guy.

    While he may be reasonable as you describe him based on your experience, I am sure his reason failed him this time.

    Anyway, there are more demonstrations in Syria today after a failed attempt by the Bashar regime to ‘negotiate’ a mockery while 1000’s of security forces were camped nearby. More and more Syrians are joining and it now reached even Hama.

    HNA again uses misinformation and even foul language and vieled threats to justify the use of weapons against civilians, while his MP Raad describes March 14 as filthy,

    نصرالله: سلاحنا للعدو.. “بس ما حدا يحركش”

    “Raad Calls March 14 Officials ‘Filthy,’ Hints Cabinet Formation Waiting for Regional Developments”

    First it was their money ‘unpure’ i.e. ‘not-halal’ for not having been tithed and taxed by the guardians of the ‘vicorious’ rev.

    Now they are fallen creatures altogether.

    Posted by anonymous | March 20, 2011, 11:25 am
  177. Today we should all be giving thanks to the proud warriors of The Resistance who prevented the Zionazis from using the smokescreen they created in North Africa to distract the world while they invaded Lebanon. Fortunately, the Proud Heroes of the Hizbollah held fast and intimidated the jewish usurpers, again, from crossing the border and stealing our land.

    Posted by dontgetit | March 20, 2011, 11:52 am
  178. In case anyone is wondering about Ammal’s participation in the protest … I drove back up to Sassine from Basta immediately after the protest reached the ministry … not a single tissue paper, water bottle or piece of garbage was on the streets!

    Posted by R2D2 | March 20, 2011, 12:24 pm
  179. R2D2
    When is the next demonstration?

    Posted by IHTDA | March 20, 2011, 12:39 pm
  180. lHTDA

    Next Sunday or the Sunday after that.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 20, 2011, 12:46 pm
  181. Although there was a lot of press this time round, Al Jadeed was the only to broadcast live.

    I have to say I got to see first hand how and who spreads rumors around in this country. I was mainly with the press at different junctions of the walk, ahead of the crowd and the stupidity I heard between this bunch of people was incredible!

    The last bit was that “a minister” was going to address the crowd (which flushed the blood from my face).

    Ziad Baroud called in to Al Jadid to quell rumors that it was he that would be doing it … mentioning that he would never abuse of this cause for political gain.

    I thought QN would like that bit :)

    Posted by R2D2 | March 20, 2011, 1:25 pm
  182. The LA Times is one of the first news outlets to cover the manifestation today on the net.

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2011/03/lebanon-politics-women-middle-east-sectarian-.html

    ** That’s cause the bureau chief is my neighbor :) **

    Posted by R2D2 | March 20, 2011, 1:47 pm
  183. A great set from today’s demo …

    Hibr-Iskatelnizam demonstration 20-3-20011 (30)

    Posted by R2D2 | March 20, 2011, 2:21 pm
  184. R2D2,
    Thanks for the pics. I did share one on FB.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 20, 2011, 2:54 pm
  185. Another thing you should keep in mind about these protests …

    Not ONE lira is being spent on sponsoring or promoting or organizing these events in Lebanon.

    Apart from getting raped by the government for the most expensive internet connection, yet the slowest on earth, not a lira was spent … and +50,000 showed up.

    That’s the power of Facebook and Twitter in today’s Lebanon for you.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 20, 2011, 3:00 pm
  186. Al Jadid’s coverage on the news.

    http://www.aljadeed.tv/wsg/newsvideo.aspx?ln=7637&&lc=3

    Posted by R2D2 | March 20, 2011, 3:09 pm
  187. Iran Press TV covers the protest.

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/170966.html

    Posted by R2D2 | March 20, 2011, 5:53 pm
  188. HP,

    I don’t get it. The Arab League called for air strikes against Gad-fly, now they’re complaining? What gives?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 20, 2011, 6:21 pm
  189. Akbar P,

    Wrong. Arab league called for No Fly Zone. But as stupid as they are; they thought it could be accomplished through video games???
    Or yelling to gaddafi???

    Posted by danny | March 20, 2011, 7:11 pm
  190. Ya AP, wassup brudda ;-)
    As much as I’m flattered that you seek my opinion I’m afraid my scientific and business prowess falls short of comprehending the erratic, inconsistent, and bumbling incompetence of the distinguished Arab League body. All you have to do is look at its make up.
    If they were any better the Middle East would have been a peaceful prosperous place a long time ago.

    I’ve read elsewhere the word “nincompoops” used to describe them in the context of their latest protest.
    I can’t top that but I’m sure others here could.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 20, 2011, 7:26 pm
  191. Danny,

    Oh well. It’s so hard getting good help these days. Sometimes you just have to do things yourself.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 20, 2011, 7:26 pm
  192. R2D2,
    I have no doubt that FB & Twitter are to be taken seriously and they have an important role to play in informing the public. But at times I get the impression that some give all the credit to the social networks when all what they do is spread a message, they are the electronic flyer. If there is message then no flyer canbring people out. And so in this case it is the many people that are sick and tired of this archaic sectarian and discriminatory system that are responding to an effective delivery system of a valuable message.
    R2D2,
    If you were to take a guess would you say that the participants represent a cross section of the Lebanese society or are they basically the relatively well to do and the educated?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 20, 2011, 7:42 pm
  193. All you guys who seem to jump to conclusions so easily, except perhaps for danny, and use your biased and elitist attitude to spew out often racial and misguided statemnts, you have to know exactly what and who among this League asked for the help and what kind of help.

    First, I am not for the League and care the least about it. I am the realist who looks at things as they are and not as many would hope for but cannot achieve. Only four Arab states offered material support and I believe these states are still in the game. I can only be sure of the names of three of these states. They are Jordan, Qatar and Egypy. I am not sure which one is the fourth. Egypt actually is the most active and has been providing weapons and other logistics to the revolutionaries even before the strikes took place. It even threteaned Gaddafi, at one point, that it will send its army to Libya.

    So there is actually no league as such. There are states that are using the league as a forum to further their interests and acting individually according to their own interests even if it contradicts what the so-called league says.

    So forget about the League

    Posted by anonymous | March 20, 2011, 7:51 pm
  194. HP,
    How about imbeciles, bafoons and dunces all wraped into one. The simple fact of the matter is that the Arab league should be retired. It cannot help but make a spectacle of itself during each and every occasion. BTW, did you know that there operating budget is 1/3 that of the UN which essentially has almost ten times as many members and operat3es in NY.
    The Arab league felt that it must take a stand against the Libyan bafoon but it neglected to consider what I believe is the most significant potential result of the NO Fly zone in Libya: a message to all other potential Arab dissidents that they should not fear the military machine of their oppresors. Who do you think is comp-laining about the enforcement of the No Fly zone but the Syrians, the Saudis, the Algerians…
    Real democracy is not about to be established in the ME and MENA but it sure will be more widely spread than before.

    Itha Al Sha’ab Yaonam Arad Al Hayat….

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 20, 2011, 7:56 pm
  195. Anon in 398
    I believe the fourth country is UAE.

    Looks like Gaddafi is getting some pounding. Hopefully, he’ll get the message that his time is up.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | March 20, 2011, 8:36 pm

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