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Of FreeCell and Phone Chargers: A Lebanese Parable

Lebanese politics often resembles a game of FreeCell to me. Or, for the millennials among us: 2048, which I often catch my students playing on their phones before class begins. For long stretches, the board is locked down. There is an occasional opening, a small shift in the grid, but it comes to nothing. Hardly anything moves for several rounds … Continue reading

Masters and Disciples

I’ve written something about the cabinet formation for The New Yorker’s News Desk blog. First graf is below, with a jump to the full piece. Come on back here to comment. ** Lebanon’s War in Syria The birth of a new government in Lebanon is often greeted with ironic festivity. People pass around trays of baklava … Continue reading

Lebanon’s New Government (Feb 15, 2014)

After nearly eleven months (329 days to be exact), Lebanon has a new government. Some thoughts are forthcoming about why the process took so long, what happened to facilitate it, and what this suggests about a shifting regional picture on the situation in Syria, but in the meantime, here are some quick observations: There are … Continue reading

Lebanon Spent Nearly Two of Last Four and a Half Years Without a Government

There has been some movement in recent days on the cabinet formation stalemate. Saad Hariri agreed to join a national unity government with Hizbullah, a welcome development after months of deadlock. How many months precisely? Nearly ten. Tammam Salam was appointed PM-designate on April 6, 2013. As you will recall, Lebanon’s previous premier Najib Mikati … Continue reading

The Last Za’im

The Lebanese MP and former minister Suleiman Franjieh gave a long interview to LBC’s Marcel Ghanem last week on Kalam Ennas. Topics covered included the situation in Syria, the disputed extension of the Lebanese Parliament’s mandate, and the upcoming Lebanese presidential elections. Franjieh, who is the scion of an established political family and the grandson and namesake … Continue reading

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