Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah, Lebanon, March 14, Syria

Should Hariri Join Miqati’s Cabinet?

To join or not to join? That is the question that Michael Young and many other Lebanese analysts have been asking, as PM-designate Najib Miqati sets about trying to form a government. Young comes down on the side of Hariri’s participation in the Hizbullah-led March 8th coalition cabinet, but on the condition that March 14th can secure a minority veto.

Meanwhile, today’s editorial at staunchly pro-M14 website Now Lebanon argues in favor of boycotting the Miqati government as a way of staying true to the ideals of majoritarian government:

A majority government is what March 14 wanted after winning the May 2009 parliamentary elections, but it was denied the right after the opposition’s blocking third was imposed upon it. It therefore came as no surprise that what was sold to the people as a national-unity government built on supposed consensus turned out to be a mechanism for governmental inertia.

March 14 must now demonstrate the values it advocated in government as an organized and focused opposition. For to accept to be part of Mikati’s new administration would undermine the coalition’s previous calls for majority rule, to stand or fall according to its performance. It would also highlight the lust for power rather than the desire to create a genuine parliamentary process. And in this way, it will have set itself apart from its political opponents.

Alas, NOW Lebanon’s argument would make more sense if the legislative branch of the Lebanese government was actually empowered to provide oversight over the executive, but that is sadly not the case. As Michel Aoun found out the hard way in 2005, sitting out a government in Lebanon gives you little more than the right to vociferous but anemic protest. There are very few mechanisms in place that permit a principled opposition to also be one that is effective at prosecuting the case against the ruling party in the public sphere.

QN‘s community of highly opinionated political strategists went to town a couple days ago in the comment section of the last post, debating the merits of Hariri’s various options. I recommend you check out the whole thread, but here are some interesting contributions:

(For those of you unfamiliar with the increasing stock of Lebanese political acronyms, here’s  a quick guide to navigating the below comments: M14 = March 14; M8 = March 8; FM = Future Movement; HA = Hizbullah; STL = Special Tribunal for Lebanon; FPM = Free Patriotic Movement; QN = Qifa Nabki)

MM writes:

“1-Future Movement need not participate in this government if M14 is to get a blocking third.

2-Giving the PM (Mikati in this case) the free hand to choose Sunni Ministers works in favor of Hariri in the future.

3- Mikati is being put on the defense and with regards to any political salvation within his community he will have to be an extra stubborn defender of “sunni rights” (if there is such a thing)within the government. I don’t doubt that he will.

4- With regards to the STL, if there is a blocking third to M14 then this third will try to thwart any cancellation attempts of the STL and resign at will when most appropriate.

5- Everybody needs to look ahead to the 2013 elections. We all know that the real electoral battles will be in Christian areas and the biggest prize is the vote of Aounis or quasi Aounis who are with the STL, and they are many. (yes there will be some extra seats up for grabs in the Mountains as well)

6-FM should prop their christian allies in the next government and they should give up any seats allocated to the FM to their Christian allies.

7- FM should stay out of the government and should work on putting its house in order. (A tall and arduous assignment)”

Gabriel says:

“M14 should sit out as opposition. Mikati should be given free reign. Let’s see what he’s made of. Will he follow the path of truth and justice, or will he buckle like a deck of cards.”

Tosk59 writes:

“Your scenarios assume that HA (and M8) actually want a government in place… My thought is that after pulling the plug they ‘leaned’ on enough folks (Jumblatt) to deny M14 a majority and the ability to get their PM and govt. This means that M8 has a majority, and they put forward a PM candidate to prove it, but will NOT form a govt. They will spend the next several weeks and months talking a lot about a unity government, but making it as difficult for Hariri as possible, and counting on him to not go along with it. However, they will refrain from setting up a M8-only version.

Essentially, the name of the game *right now* is to temporize and buy time, pending the STL indictments being made public (and then seeing how it pans out). Rather than a M14 govt backing the STL, or a M8 govt against the STL (but not credible), best for them right now would be NO government. Clearly this is not tenable for the long haul, but HA is in a tough spot and buying time is the best they can do *right now*…”

S writes:

“QN, There is a third option that you missed. If Future does not join the government (or even if it does), Hizballah can remain outside of it by choosing not to have any ministers in the government, and thus technically remaining in the opposition. They have already announced that they will not take part, and I wonder if this means zero cabinets for them. In many ways though, I think many people will then call this a puppet government with the Hizb effectively controlling it from the outside. But this would be one way to keep Future in check and also to answer your question of how to minimize Future’s effectiveness as an opposition. Mikati has suggested a government of technocrats. That’s another option.”

David writes:

“For lots of reasons, everyone wants to make this about HA’s encounter with “national politics,” but just as interesting (and just as vexing for the concerned party) is that of Hariri, Jr.’s. Can HA as we know it survive leading a governing coalition: possibly not. Can Sheikh Saad survive being outside the government: possibly not.

What we have now is a weakening of both positions: Hariri is now even more dependent on his “foreign support” and HA is now even more dependent on their Lebanese and Syrian allies. Does this relative and respective weakening make them more amenable to a coming deal? Probably. Will some Lebanese get killed in the process? Hopefully not.

Was there a deal? Is there a deal? Who knows, who cares. The real crisis point remains where “they” always prefer it: in the near distance. And really that’s the thing about inevitability: it’s always around the next corner.”

J. Estiphan writes:

“I think what is most likely to happen is that the Future Bloc/Lebanese Forces “March 14″ will be a Loyal Opposition, and a constructive Opposition with a coherent programme. They can have influence on individual laws and in the committees of Parliament and just by helping to frame the debate ahead of the 2013 elections. It could be the start of something closer to a two party alternate governing arrangement.”

New-at-posting writes:

“In terms of Hizbullah’s political strategy, there is another option that hasn’t been considered in the post above: allow M14 a blocking third in the cabinet but focus on corruption & false witnesses, rather than pulling out of the STL. It’s possible that they no longer have an interest in the government pulling out of the STL; perhaps that is part of the “before/after the indictment” difference. In a recent speech, SHN mentioned the false witnesses issue, corruption and “conspiracy against the Resistance” as issues the opposition won’t be silent about; he’s also made a separation between the two tracks of gov’t & STL. “Conspiracy against the Resistance” is certainly vague, but it does leave open the possibility that they’ve moved on to a new phase in which getting the gov’t to pull out of the STL doesn’t matter. Maybe an investigation into the false witnesses will do enough to discredit the STL… So maybe that’s the end-game (for now)? If the M8 government focuses on corruption and false witnesses, does M14 really have a good reason to bring down the government?”


Mickanthrope’s comment on this thread was too good not to post up here:

“1. Mikati will assemble a consensus cabinet, in which neither Hizbullah nor FM are represented. Today, Mikati emphasized his “technocratic” approach. This cabinet will consolidate the Opposition’s victory in the battle since 2005 on whether government should be governed by consensus or majoritarian decision-making. They won this as a concession to return to the government after the first walk-out (with the promise that decisions will be made by consensus not majority vote). Then, at Doha, won this again with the formation of the new cabinet (ensuring a blocking third). Then, after with the formation of the government 6 months after the elections, they consolidated this formation. To their credit, both M14 and the opposition have stood by their principled positions: M14 for majoritarian government; opposition for consensus. My prediction: Opposition will prove its position on consensus government by allowing a technocratic cabinet in which (and I agree here with S) there are no Hizbullah ministers (thus taking the wind out of the sails of those who would raise concerns about a Hizbullah-dominated cabinet); FM of M14 will prove its stance on majoritarian, but the rest will opt-in (since a majoritarian stance only favors Sunnis in confessional calculations). The formation of a consensus cabinet of technocrats of the various confessions (rather than zaims) will settle the dispute about the cabinet left unresolved by the ambiguous language of Taif. I also agree with “New to Posting” that this cabinet would address “false witness” etc rather than pulling out of STL.

2. Even with a technocratic consensus cabinet, we might still see clashes in the coming weeks:

A. February 10 GLC strike. Previous clashes (in Jan 2007 and May 2008) coincided with GLC strikes. The relationship between the opposition and the GLC (which offers power of the street) has been recognized by M14 to the extent that Harb and other M14 politicians have sought to shift the leadership of the GLC and generate competing commissions.

B. Feb 14. After the day of rage, this will likely involve street actions. Moreover, if FM sees the cabinet moving forward without them, this will increase the “rage” factor.

C. Nasrallah specifically de-linked cabinet negotiations with response to the indictments and the STL. If the indictments are leaked around that time, then this could be an epic conflagration. If I were very cynical and conspiratorial (which I am sometimes), I would suggest that if the cabinet appears to be going in a direction that consolidates Hizbullah power (formally or informally), the indictments could be leaked opportunistically to instigate street action that would discredit Hizbullah and take the wind out of the sails of a new cabinet that M14 does not dominate. Right now, the US seems to be taking a “wait and see” attitude toward Mikati (til the cabinet is formed, presumably). Hariri seems to be playing hardball–indeed far harder than his hand seems to warrant. Why would be be doing so if he were not receiving reassurance that he would be backed?”

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203 thoughts on “Should Hariri Join Miqati’s Cabinet?

  1. Hariri is clueless, erratic, politically ignorant and surrounded by buffoons/advisers, who proved to be sectarian bigots, with no vision whatsoever.
    Hariri managed to anger KSA and the Royals, including King Abdallah.
    Should he insist on being surrounded by the likes of Fouad Siniora, Samir Geagea, Amine Gemayel, M. Salam, Shatah, Hammoud and a few other stupid idiots, he can kiss the Legacy of his father GoodBye, and move on to retain some of his wealth and various Businesses.

    Posted by cvghfx | January 27, 2011, 11:53 am
  2. LOL

    رأينا نتائج النصائح الأميركية في تونس ومصر وغيرها فنتمنى منهم أن لا ينصحونا

    Posted by cvghfx | January 27, 2011, 11:57 am
  3. What the advantages of Joining?

    1. They will be able to bribe their way through the services offered to get ready for next election
    2. They will insist on the blocking third and will be able to play the spoiler ala HA of the past Doha agreement.

    Not Joining:

    1. The current “majority” forms the government and cancels the STL MOU; tries to pull the judges and refuses to co-operate. The new minority can criticize from the sidelines but it won’t achieve anything as Lebanon is a mafioso run country. Democracy is spoken about without knowing the real definition of the word or concept.

    2. Stays clear of any adventurous path that HA has destined to be on. Depending on the STL and its echo; this could a good or bad decision.

    Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    HA will NOT accept M14 demands of a blocking third as it will make all its maneuvers futile and redundant. I suggest they will haggle over this point till summer when indictments are out…

    No government! The clAoun once proclaimed (2006-08) that who the hell needs a government and that the country runs better without one. In that aspect as all Lebanese politicians are clowns; so NO Government is the best government.

    Posted by danny | January 27, 2011, 12:11 pm
  4. I doubt HA would not quickly and willingly grant M14 a blocking third. I suspect they will appear magnanimous and grant it quickly. No haggling.

    Posted by Nasser V | January 27, 2011, 12:23 pm
  5. Interesting.

    After having predicted Mikati back on Jan 14 (sorry MM!), here are my predictions (C’mon, QN, be brave enough to predict, yo! Analytical summaries, no matter how very smart, are safe!):

    1. Mikati will assemble a consensus cabinet, in which neither Hizbullah nor FM are represented. Today, Mikati emphasized his “technocratic” approach. This cabinet will consolidate the Opposition’s victory in the battle since 2005 on whether government should be governed by consensus or majoritarian decision-making. They won this as a concession to return to the government after the first walk-out (with the promise that decisions will be made by consensus not majority vote). Then, at Doha, won this again with the formation of the new cabinet (ensuring a blocking third). Then, after with the formation of the government 6 mos after the elections, they consolidated this formation. To their credit, both M14 and the opposition have stood by their principled positions: M14 for majoritarian government; opposition for consensus. My prediction: Opposition will prove it’s position on consensus government by allowing a technocratic cabinet in which (and I agree here with S) there are no Hizbullah ministers (thus taking the wind out of the sails of those who would raise concerns about a Hizbullah-dominated cabinet); FM of M14 will prove its stance on majoritarian, but the rest will opt-in (since a majoritarian stance only favors Sunnis in confessional calculations). The formation of a consensus cabinet of technocrats of the various confessions (rather than zaims) will settle the dispute about the cabinet left unresolved by the ambiguous language of Taif. I also agree with “New to Posting” that this cabinet would address “false witness” etc rather than pulling out of STL.

    2. Even with a technocratic consensus cabinet, we might still see clashes in the coming weeks:

    A. February 10 GLC strike. Previous clashes (in Jan 2007 and May 2008) coincided with GLC strikes. The relationship between the opposition and the GLC (which offers power of the street) has been recognized by M14 to the extent that Harb and other M14 politicians have sought to shift the leadership of the GLC and generate competing commissions.

    B. Feb 14. After the day of rage, this will likely involve street actions. Moreover, if FM sees the cabinet moving forward without them, this will increase the “rage” factor.

    C. Nasrallah specifically de-linked cabinet negotiations with response to the indictments and the STL. If the indictments are leaked around that time, then this could be an epic conflagration. If I were very cynical and conspiratorial (which I am sometimes), I would suggest that if the cabinet appears to be going in a direction that consolidates Hizbullah power (formally or informally), the indictments could be leaked opportunistically to instigate street action that would discredit Hizbullah and take the wind out of the sails of a new cabinet that M14 does not dominate. Right now, the US seems to be taking a “wait and see” attitude toward Mikati (til the cabinet is formed, presumably). Hariri seems to be playing hardball–indeed far harder than his hand seems to warrant. Why would be be doing so if he were not receiving reassurances that he would be backed?

    So those are some BOLD predictions offered in the spirit of Karl Popper. I hope they will doubtless instigate some debate here. I’ll won’t be able to check in periodically–I mean no disrespect by this disengagement. It’s just a terrible day of deadlines. I am sure I will have a bloodied nose or two (figuratively speaking!) by then, but anyway, I look forward to reading the replies!

    Posted by mickanthrope | January 27, 2011, 12:35 pm
  6. Nasser V,

    If that is the case what do you think those maneuvers have accomplished? The M14 can block the same issues that they had a difference of opinion on…Be that STL or the contentious issue of “false witnesses”…

    You are way off! The floating of that blocking third would be contingent on HA’s demands regarding these issues!

    BTW do you realize that how nonchalantly you said:”I doubt HA would not quickly and willingly grant M14 a blocking third. I suspect they will appear magnanimous and grant it quickly. No haggling…

    I though HA had said it was a part of our 3aysh el Moushrak provision that THEY had the blocking third. Now you are asserting that HA will GRANT???

    Posted by danny | January 27, 2011, 12:38 pm
  7. #5…

    Just a query. Do you think “technocrats” in Lebanon have to opinions or flavour? The decisions that HA wants them to make are political! So irrespective of the names you attach to the Cabinet ministers, they will belong either for or against HA!

    Posted by danny | January 27, 2011, 12:43 pm
  8. Mickanthrope

    I think your predictions are reasonable. Although, Future is still weighing participation, pending Miqati’s “clarification” of his stance vis-a-vis the STL.

    With regard to future clashes, I have the sense that the big battle will be over the electoral law. The opposition is going to want to revisit it, given the egregious discrepancies between the popular vote and the political result in 2009. Some will argue (like Ghassan) that there is no way to square the circle of Lebanon’s confessional allotments, but I think that the opposition will still try to make some hay out of the issue.

    With regard to false witnesses vs. STL, you may be right, but I think that they’ll try to get both things done, beginning with the false witness investigation (trying to further tarnish the investigation’s reputation) and then moving on to decoupling Lebanon from the STL.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 27, 2011, 1:04 pm
  9. Meanwhile, keep in mind the following words spoken by our Zionist neighbors:


    Unfortunately, the only way Hezbollah’s demise is likely to come about is in a bloody and costly war with Israel….

    Let us pray that it shouldn’t happen or at least that the Sunnis and Shi’as first slaughter each other in a long lasting civil war, the kind we used to know and love…in Lebanon of the 70s and 80s….

    End Quote.

    Posted by cvghfx | January 27, 2011, 1:15 pm
  10. Mickantronpe @5:


    This is precisely what has been lacking on QN! Predictions!

    Posted by Gabriel | January 27, 2011, 1:20 pm
  11. QN:

    Given that it doesn’t take much to get the excitable Lebanese going, the focus on the False Witnesses can only be for the purpose of further “tarnishing” what comes out of the STL.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 27, 2011, 1:27 pm
  12. I go with Danny on #3. We know that governments have failed in governing. At least for the short time epriod I have been following this stuff. Do we know if being in the opposition works in the Democratic sense? If yes to my second question, then Marc 14 should stay in the opposition and wait for the next elections.

    Posted by Paul | January 27, 2011, 1:36 pm
  13. An interesting observation: Someone above mentioned “Hariri playing hardball” now.

    One has to wonder why he didn’t (or wasn’t able to) play hardball in the past.
    It seemed to be concession after concession (going back to Doha) comning from Hariri, culminating with his visit to Damascus.
    And now, all of a sudden, he’s playing hardball.

    I don’t get it.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 27, 2011, 1:53 pm
  14. Sadly all these comments are focused on the structure of the government which to start with is a rotten lot!
    In reality, we should stop caring about this bs. and realise that if we keep playing the game of “blocking third”s cause the only thing it is really blocking, is the any progress in the country itself. the STL is becoming the complete focus of the government. 1000s have died in Lebanon. i dont see why thousands more have to die for one.

    the only way we will ever move forward in Lebanon is with this:

    Posted by Lebanese Voices | January 27, 2011, 1:55 pm
  15. Life is not safe. We have yet to meet someone who survived it.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 27, 2011, 2:18 pm
  16. March 8 knows it has won and it would be silly to push for decoupling Lebanon from the STL during these precipitous times. They have subtly but importantly acknowledged that the STL cannot be cancelled. I see them just pushing the false witness issue in the near term in order to discredit the tribunal, but the last thing they can afford to do is push Mikati out of office by holding him hostage over a tough decision regarding the STL. At this point in time a functioning successful government is the best victory for March 8. Hezbollah won’t/shouldn’t test a newly formed government until after the suspects names have been named public.

    Posted by tamer k. | January 27, 2011, 2:19 pm
  17. Danny-

    HA has put a PM in power who will denounce the STL. Maybe that’s what they accomplished.

    Maybe the word grant was wrong, but they will not oppose M14 attaining a blocking third veto power.

    Posted by Nasser V | January 27, 2011, 2:21 pm
  18. I have been addressing this very issue for a few years.
    It has always been obvious to me, and it still is, that what Lebanon needs is a single colour government especially due to the fact that the two major groups that have been forced to form a so called “national unity ” government have absolutely nothing in common. They do not only disagree about the means , which is often the case, but they have diametrically opposite visions of the end also. In that regard a national unity government becomes an exresice inineffectivness and government paralysis. One cannot be for the cabinet and against it at the same time which is what is being asked of the “opposition” when it is asked to join the cabinet.

    Another major reason against this ineffective formula is the fact that such a government ends up in coopting the role of the Chamber of deputies.whose role is diminshed to rubber stamp the few policies that the cabinet submits for approval.

    March 14 must refuse under any kind of circumstance of joining an HA led cabinet . Doing so would be lending more legitimacy to that which one is trying to de-legitimatize; the militia arms.
    For a slightly longer version of this position:

    Posted by ghassan karam | January 27, 2011, 2:34 pm
  19. The nationalrepublic makes common sense.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 27, 2011, 2:49 pm
  20. It seems the “technocrat” ruse will be used to ram HA’s demands through. What a farce! Blowing smoke up someone’s behind!

    …and guess what all the sheeple would say: It is technocrat man! …As if; as I mentioned before these “teckies” came out of the Star Trek convention and have no leanings…and I wonder who would suggest their names?

    Posted by danny | January 27, 2011, 4:45 pm
  21. @QN: Do you think there is a basis for the call to resolve “false witness” before moving forward with the tribunal? There appears to be some ground for concern. Do you think all of this can be reduced to a politicized move to derail the tribunal?

    @ Ghassan Karam: I like this phrase “single color government.”

    I’m no constitutional scholar, but there is no legal reason why the cabinet cannot be a technocratic one of “single color.” The blocking third is an informal arrangement. If a consensus cabinet could be guaranteed through a “single color government” then perhaps the blocking third demand would be rendered baseless and neutralized? And there is no constitutional reason the cabinet must represent the parties in parliament (at all or proportionally). Parliament can bring down the government, but that is a different matter entirely. But without one camp having a basis to object to it’s “share,” is that really likely? Mikati will need the parties’ assent for his government, but it seems that this is more likely the LESS politicized and MORE technocratic it is.

    @ danny: While I DIG (absolutely DIG) your trekkie reference, a technocratic space is possible. Think of the electoral commission. There was confessional composition–and some commissioners had close relations with parties, but they were technocrats rather than party apparatchiks.

    It’s certainly not been the practice, but a technocratic cabinet is theoretically possible. Sulaiman is neutral as a president, Baroud is a technocratic Minister of Interior. That’s HUGE. Surely Lebanon has enough citizens of their ilk among all confessions to fill a cabinet.

    Other than that, I have no other responses except to myself. As I said, I’m crashing on deadlines and posted without re-reading my hastily drafted rant. I promise to edit in the future (no more “reassuranceS” or “hope they will doubtless..”) But I get the sense that substance matters here more than style. 🙂

    Posted by mickanthrope | January 27, 2011, 6:44 pm
  22. Let’s simplify things a bit, shall we?
    For all the verbosity of the eminently eloquent Humanities folks, it really always boils down to some simple fact or principle.

    The whole hoopla is for HA to achieve the goal of having a Lebanese government officially denounce the STL as politicized and cease supporting and collaborating with it. And why do they want that? Hmm, I’ll refrain from being explicit here since it is quite obvious why. The innocent never fear justice and anyone who thinks that Israel is that sophisticated or that stupid to do the deed with Rafiq Hariri and game all that follows is either a dupe or a blind fanatic or a charlatan with an agenda.

    So, if the whole happenings have as a goal to achieve such denouncement, why in the world would HA allow anything else to pass that doesn’t achieve that goal?
    Enter Miqati, the pseudo “Harvard Educated” self-made billionaire, who likely is indeed at the point in climbing his Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs that he hungers to achieve this self actualization that he decided would be embodied by become the Prime Minister. Is it any secret that he probably has a deep-seated jealousy of Rafiq Hariri for the attainment of his own self-actualization that he is now drunk with the anticipation of power, wallowing in the interviews accorded him by the international media, and delighting in being called a self-made billionaire. For all that hunger is he going to allow a mere commitment to give HA what it wants get in the way. God forbid no, of course not. And so the end game is as clear as the blue sky in Aruba. Nothing will be allowed to pass that gets in the way of some arrangement to have some Lebanese government denounce the STL, withdraw the judges, and withhold any further support.

    What’s missing? Hum. want me tell you?

    Ok, I will. What’s missing is the inevitable justice that fate always finds a way to provide. Sooner or later. The day of reckoning shall come. To those from HA and those from Syria that were responsible for the heinous assassinations in Lebanon. The souls of the martyrs will see to it. Patience.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 27, 2011, 9:20 pm
  23. HP,

    Hafez Asad, the most ruthless of murderers in the modern history of the middle east, died peacefully in his bed. How many Lebanese disappeared in his jails? Hundreds? Thousands?

    You know full well I support the STL, but justice like revenge is mostly over rated. I did not feel much better when Saddam was hanged though I took quite personally the scuds he shot at me in 1991.

    Posted by AIG | January 27, 2011, 9:45 pm
  24. HP it really is shocking to see how you of all people have jumped the gun with your rhetoric. Why not wait a little longer until you’ve actually heard the evidence?

    Posted by Nasser V | January 27, 2011, 10:03 pm
  25. HP,

    Your last comment is indeed very illuminating. Keep up the faith. I’m sure it will come to pass as you said it, and they will pay a heavy price.

    As for the Hizzie appointed government:

    1) I disagree with GK. GK’s objective cannot be achieved through dubious means. It is not possible to overlook the fact that this is an arrangement imposed on Lebanon by Syria/Iran through their goons in Lebanon. Therefore, if ever a ‘government’ gets formed, with one- two- or even techni-colors; it should always be dubbed as an illegitimate government. Better for M14 MP’s to resign than support it by participating, or even act as a responsible opposition, as both cases will imply defacto recognition of an illegal government.

    2) Protests must and will continue to achieve more than one purpose. Hizzie gangsters are kicked out of civilian neighbourhoods. Second, the issue of their illegal weapons becomes at the forefront of Lebanese dialog with the aim to abolish such weapons and dissolve the terrorist organization. And third, the effects of the coup are erased.

    3) Mickanthorpe: Lebanon does not have any technocrats. Every Lebanese is born sectarian and dies sectarian until further notice. Adnan el-Sayyid Hussein is one such ‘shining technocrat’ and supposedly enlightened. He exhibited the unmistakable symptoms of the Lebanese case of severe schizophrenia when he was put to the test.

    Posted by anonymous | January 27, 2011, 10:03 pm
  26. HP,

    that’s the annoying part. When we see educated commentators (on this blog too lol) drool over Miqati’s cliches about dialogue and consensus! As I mentioned above and over and over again: Why would HA and Syria go through all this if they could not achieve their set goals as you already stated above.

    A mockery of intelligence!!! AIG how Asaad died has no bearing on what awaits the perpetrators of these crimes. The heat is up and they are running scared!

    Posted by danny | January 27, 2011, 10:06 pm
  27. AIG, only a few more weeks and the facts revealed by the investigation will be known. Knowing the truth is the first step to justice. This is international justice now, the kind that successfully punished Milosovic and Karadzic. Let’s revisit the prospects for justice then. In the meantime, keep those worms coming and stalling the Iranian nuclear program.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 27, 2011, 10:07 pm
  28. HP,

    AIG may have put a damper on your optimism. But I must say he missed the point.

    Hafez did pay a heavy price for his ruthlessness and before he died. Have you ever heard of Maher al-Assad?

    So again keep up the faith, HP.

    Posted by anonymous | January 27, 2011, 10:07 pm
  29. Nasser V, touché. I’ll wait. You’re right.

    On the other hand, I couldn’t help my logic refusing to attribute any non-zero probability, no matter how small, to an alternative scenario. But I’ll admit that my logic is, unlike the Pope’s, fallible. I’ll wait.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 27, 2011, 10:12 pm
  30. anonymous, danny, thanks for your cheering. We’re on the same page although I’m sure you’ll join me in a bit more patience since truth is only around the corner.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 27, 2011, 10:14 pm
  31. I still like my analysis of Miqati’s psychology. Rings true.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 27, 2011, 10:16 pm
  32. “Hafez did pay a heavy price for his ruthlessness and before he died. Have you ever heard of Maher al-Assad?”

    How cryptic and profound. Would you care explaining this statement in simpler English to the rest of us?

    Posted by EHSANI2 | January 27, 2011, 10:28 pm
  33. anonymous,
    The issue is not whether one is opposed to HA or not. I have been for years a very vocal critic of their ideology in general and also their insistence on keeping a militia in particular. But that is not the issue.
    The current case is whther a cabinet by Mikati is to be joined both by HA and its allies as well as March 14. I am taking the position, which I have articulated many times, that a government of opposites cannot work. It is a tower of babel. Add to that the case that a national unity government co-opts the function of the Chamber and even offers a greater legitimization to the group that March 14 considers to be illegal and the case for refusing to participate becomes crystal clear.
    You object toi the above by calling a Mikati government illegal. One might not like the way that it came about and one might disagree with its philosophy but to call it illegal is wrong when it has the votes of 68 MP’s. The Lebanese constitution provides a venue to judge on the legality or illegality of government by submitting the question to the Constitutional Council whose decisions must be accepted irrespective of whether we agree with them or not.
    Since all the 128 MP’s are the product of the same electoral process and since all candidacies are viewed as legal then we are obliged to accept theirright to cast a vote to whoever they choose even if I happen to disagree with their choice. That is democracy, warts and all.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 27, 2011, 11:02 pm
  34. Danny and HP,

    The STL will not bring justice. Who is going to arrest the people involved? The Mossad brings justice. Mugniyeh who probably led the Hariri assassination is no more. But I am not sure that you support that kind of justice. If it helps at all, I can assure you though that Nasrallah will not die a natural death. Currently is he too useful for Israel and he takes many precautions. But the state of Israel has patience and Nasrallah is still young.

    Posted by AIG | January 27, 2011, 11:13 pm
  35. AIG,

    Love the bravado. Just great

    Posted by EHSANI2 | January 27, 2011, 11:25 pm
  36. AIG, Niet. Unlike in algebra, two wrongs don’t make a right. Violence begets more violence and then the cycle goes on forever. One has to hold the hope that, like Milosovic and Karadzic, proven guilty folks will be punished. The other dream is for Lebanon to turn into a non-aligned, Lebanon-first country where the only interest that counts is the interest of the country and its citizen, peace and respect with all its neighbors. I know it seems a utopia at this point but if Ghassan’s dream of replacing all the politicians happens one day, the rest will follow. There is a new generation in Lebanon that has great potential to make a difference. They will only get older and wiser and stronger. Twenty years from now things will look very different.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 27, 2011, 11:37 pm
  37. EHSANI2,

    Bravado? Not at all. Israel does not do this for revenge or justice. It is for deterrence. You mess with us, we will get you, however long it takes. Did you ever wonder why since 1973 the Golan has been so quiet?


    Deterrence (through violence sometimes) begets zero violence. Weakness begets violence, especially in the middle east. Hezbollah and Syria were not afraid to go on a assassination spree because they knew nobody would stand up to them. The all out war of 2006 has led to almost 5 years unprecedented peace and quiet on the Israeli Lebanese border with many more years likely to come. I haven’t heard the Sheba Farms being mentioned in Nasrallah’s speeches lately. I wonder why. Maybe because he isn’t doing anything about freeing them?

    Posted by AIG | January 28, 2011, 12:40 am
  38. I agree that M8 will want to go much further than simply pursuing the “false witnesses.” Nasrallah was absolutely clear about non-cooperation with the STL. They would not have brought down the government simply to pursue the “false witnesses.” (But it will be interesting to see whether there is some genuinely politicized justice in the offing on that front, the Judicial Council being what it is.) Whether or not it is a binding pre-condition of Mikati’s election, we don’t know, but we do know that HA led the charge to a new PM and they did that for one reason only.

    As for March 14, if they stay in with a blocking third they can get even with March 8 for stagnating the waters of government for the past four years. Sticking with their majoritarian principles and doing what’s in the nation’s interests is a little high-minded for politics. Some among March 14 might be thinking: “why should we step aside now and allow a March 8 to run a more functional cabinet than we were allowed to run?” If the cabinet is able to get anything productive done, that wouldn’t bode well for March 14 in the run-up to the elections. So staying out of cabinet would be betting on Mikati facing such complications that the cabinet ends up failing.

    Posted by Jonathan | January 28, 2011, 1:37 am
  39. Here’s my take on the whole story.

    To date, there seems to be widespread consensus that in the balance of probabilities, Syria had a hand in the assassinations. I don’t think it matters much whether you’re M8 or you’re M14.

    Whether or not finds any of the HA evidence against Israel credible, the only thing HA has yet alluded to concerning Israel is Phone Infiltration and tampering of data. But they have not yet produced any evidence, or leaked any information on physical evidence of Israeli involvement.

    Going over to fairly respectable journalists, or commentators. We have Israeli-non-friendly Robert Fisk asserting on several recent columns that he believes Syria is behind the attacks. We have the Angry Arab making similar assertions (and what’s more he asserts that he thinks the core HA supporters would be happy to know that HA is responsible).

    On this forum, from the doubters, we have at least one person, Prophet, who does not put it past the Syrians to have done the deed.

    And clAoun (sorry Danny, it was too good, I just had to take it), did not simply “believe” it was Syria back in 2005. He was certain of it.

    It seemed implausible to me back in 2005, and continues to be so, that HA did not know about the attacks. Whether or not one believes they are involved directly in the assassination, it beggars belief that an organization that has its ears so close to the ground to have had no information whatsover about an upcoming hit (and several of them no less).

    Those are the facts.

    On the flip side of the coin, we have the counter-arguments, mostly FPM-type arguments:

    > Should the country go to war over 1 man. Others have been killed.

    > The False Witness File. Follow them and you’ll get your killers.

    But mostly, try to rationalize the argument and the topic typically diverts to corruption, electoral law, etc.

    This is where we are.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 28, 2011, 2:18 am
  40. I have been following the developments in Egypt closely, so I apologize for my ignorance on Lebanon. But, let ignorance not stop me from opening my mouth! ha.

    You make a big mistake by assuming that “The innocent never fear justice” (as you put it). Innocence is never enough to keep you safe. Ive personally seen many people who were innocent sent to jail, and seen many more plead “guilty” to crimes they flatly denied being involved in, and receive lesser sentences, because they feared the risk of trial was too great. As a result, your analysis is severely flawed. It’s clear that you are judging based on your biases, rather than the facts (because there are no facts).,18896/

    Your legal nihilism never ceases to amaze me. One day you claim that the law is god and can heal all wounds, the next day you claim that government cant function by consensus because the various parties “have absolutely nothing in common.” It’s an ironic dynamic.

    If we apply your logic of force to Israel, no one will or should mourn when assassins like you are sent back to poland, are wiped out. It’s only a matter of time until the Arab people rise up to destroy your shit state. you should feel less comfort every day!

    QN and mickanthrope,
    I think you both make pretty strong arguments. I like to take a step back and ask what Hizbullah is really achieving through this government. And i like to believe that they are making longer term plans than just to attack the tribunal.

    But I don’t think Hizbullah has to make much of a choice here. If they are as shrewd as i think they are, they will put together a government of bureaucrats who are also revolutionary (by lebanese standards). If i am in Hizbullah’s position, id have three priorities with this government: (1) ensure the strength of the resistance in the long term, (2) establish long-term infrastructure to break the grip of the traditional powers on the lebanese governments (so that things like election reform and some financial transparency (or at least efficiency of use) can be achieved), (3) to do so without causing irreparable damage with the the rest of the major parties in Lebanon.

    So, for example, I don’t think they need to go after the election law directly because they have already proved they can gain a parliamentary majority when the system is rigged against them. Im sure they want to fix it, but whether it’s worth their effort to totally alienate mustaqbal will be dependent on where mustaqbal draws the line. If they make the electoral law a red line, why would hizbullah bother? They might clean it a bit, but it doesn’t make sense to go to war over it.

    But id imagine they reappoint Baroud as minister in an attempt to empower him to actually take on electoral reform, and to neutralize the criticism of it being sectarian.

    Im using this example to make a point, rather than trusting my judgment on whether Baroud will stay in his post. I am confident that Hizbullah will make big governmental sacrifices in order to keep their position as a consensus builder, and they will not take substantial posts in the new government, but that they will find a way to make sure there are no losers while themselves coming out on top in the longer-term. They are building something far more substantial than this government, they are establishing the emergence of the Shia as the dominant players in government for a long time. They know they have the numbers and the organization to do that, they have changed the entire nature of the dialogue in the country since their emergence as a political player. And they will continue to do so. And in exchange for the protection of the few goals they have (protecting the resistance, protecting their reputation, and keeping themselves in a position to protect their community and interests), they are going to be willing to compromise.

    Ok, im not sure if i said anything there. but hopefully i made a point. (im too lazy to proof read what i just wrote).

    Posted by Joe M. | January 28, 2011, 2:45 am
  41. Let me just to make one more point that i didn’t clearly state above.

    I think that Hizbullah is concerned with the tribunal, but they are probably more concerned with the fact that the defense minister was actively plotting with the USA to attack them (more or less). So, if you are Hizbullah, you ask two questions (1) what what can we reasonably gain from being mildly flexible on the tribunal? (any flexibility will be seen as a huge concession, which makes them look good) and (2) how can we guarantee our interests by making concessions that don’t concede anything?

    So, im sure they would consider it a net gain to sweep away those ministers who have been actively plotting against them, to play the tribunal more slowly (appoint a pro-hizbullah defense minister, in exchange for dealing with the tribunal slowly, maybe starting with false witnesses…).

    The tribunal is not going to take place over one night. And there is only so much that they can do to stop the process. Nasrallah admitted as much. So i would suspect that Hizbullah would look for small ways to neutralize the tribunal, rather than go all out against it (of course, it’s all dependent on little hariri’s response, the more he gives, the more they will take) and risk a serious rift. But in exchange for small steps on the tribunal, they will appoint revolutionary technocrats that protect them in the long term. And all the while, do it with a smile and a hand shake. by appointing pro-M14 (assuming they join the gov, and if not, they undermine M14 by poaching their weak links) ministers in non-security positions.

    or, that’s my guess.

    Posted by Joe M. | January 28, 2011, 3:08 am
  42. Richard ARMITAGE started calling our Nationalist and Valiant Resistance of Hezbollah: “A-Team of Terrorism”… many years ago…WHY?

    As a pro-Hezbollah person in the West, I think that you are ALL here missing a few things. For example, why does the US-Israeli propaganda machine describe Hezbollah as the “A-Team of terrorism” if Hezbollah only matters in a “little slice of Lebanon” as you all put it? There are several reasons:

    1) Hezbollah has in the past, and will in the future, defeat the Israeli war machine anytime…. Thus, in the mid-long term, Hezbollah will be the main force which will bring down all of the Israeli Apartheid regime.

    2) Hezbollah is a living example, that even a VERY SMALL but truly religious and dedicated group of people can hold their ground against the entire USraelian Empire. The Divine Victory in 2006 was not only a defeat for Israel, it was a defeat for the entire worldwide US/Zionist power configuration…just look at Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco…,

    3) Very importantly, by NOT, repeat, NOT engaging in terrorism, Hezbollah proves wrong all the Zionist propaganda which says that all Muslims are terrorists or all resistance to the crumbling Empire is terrorist….

    4) Hezbollah offers the Muslim world a VIABLE alternative to the Wahhabi crazies on one hand, and the corrupt dictators a la Mubarak and Assad on the other….

    All these are the reasons that while it is wrong to call Hezbollah the “A-Team of terrorism” it would be fair to call Hezbollah the “A-Team of the Resistance to the Empire”. To tell you the truth, I believe that Hezbollah has more power than even a major country and regional superpower like Iran….

    As for Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, I consider him the indisputable leader of the world wide resistance to the utterly corrupt and crumbling Empire….

    Hezbollah and Sayyed Nasrallah are no Lilliput. They are *giants* which the Zionists have very good reason to hate and fear….They are a superb and very successful Lebanese Nationalist Resistance.

    Could you tell me whom you would single out as the most influential leader and/or movement in the resistance to the Empire?

    Yet again, Sayyed Nasrallah and Hezbollah have played their hand just *beautifully*, I would say in an ‘Aikido-like’ manner: these used every move made by their opponents to turn the situation to their advantage… Even this ill-conceived puppet STL ‘tribunal’ will end up having made Hezbollah only much stronger….
    This, yet again, only further confirms my belief that Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Hezbollah are by far the smartest political actors on the planet….Those Lebanese who don’t like Hezbollah can stay in Canada, USA, Australia or anywhere else for ever.

    Posted by Anonymous#2 | January 28, 2011, 4:33 am
  43. I suspect that Saudi Arabia and France and Turkey would prefer Future Bloc join a broad coalition, as per Lebanese tradition.

    But there will also be strong pressure I
    suspect from Mr al-Hariri “allies” (Lebanese Forces, Kateb (Falangist Party), Chamounists (Ahrar, the Eddites (‘National Bloc’) and the sympathizers of Hirass al-Arz mentality to go into the Opposition and to be a constant, loud, noisy and angry opposition at that.

    I think there is more risk to Future Movement going into that kind of oppositional position, than there is in actually joining the coalition.

    Look – people want stability, higher paying jobs, better health and education – a chance to have a better life.

    In my opinion the Prime Minister-designate is looking very rational, reasonable and “national” – and those parties like the Lebanese Forces/Chamoun/Edde etc. are looking like not only very sour and poor losers, but also very inward looking, they are looking like they would risk a civil war in Lebanon because they can’t tolerate being in the unusual position of not running the show.

    In other words, don’t write off a combined Christian/Orthodox/Druze/Shiia-dominated list which is led by some “national” leaders who are Sunni and from Tripoli.

    Chehhabism can win votes too, even in Saida, Ras Beirut and in the Mountain too.

    Posted by S al-riachy | January 28, 2011, 5:03 am
  44. Components of the White House Murder INC’s Special Assassinations Operations: Simplicity, Security, Repetition…, Surprise, Speed and Purpose….

    The FIRST in a string of assassinations in Lebanon started in earnest January 24th 2002, with the assassination of Mr. Elie HOBEIKA by a joint effort of CIA/MOSSAD, who used Asef SHAWKAT in the execution….with DIRECT ORDERS from The evil White House of GWB….

    Asef SHAWKAT is SMI’s liaison with American Intelligence…. Following HOBEIKA’s assassination, evidence was washed away on the crime scene, using high-powered water hoses by the Syro-Lebanese apparatus of SHAWKAT…., within hours…., then, funerals, mourning, and reactions to this horrible event which shook Lebanon, were forcefully muted by Syria and its Lebanese CIA/MOSSAD lackeys…starting with Elias CIA Murr who was interior minister at the time of this barbaric assassination, MURR even refused to launch any investigation or transfer the file to the highest judicial council for proper follow-up…., for he was covering the crimes of the Syro-Lebanese military intelligence goons …, and everyone in Lebanon obliged with the Syrian assassins’ version of events and the MSM complied and moved on….No investigations, no inquiries, no judicial proceedings, and no Justice….This is very important and was deliberately planned and meant to be like that on purpose by CIA/MOSSAD/OSP…. because it will be instrumental and absolutely crucial for CIA/MOSSAD when it came to the decision to assassinate Hariri few years later…, because the Syrians and their Lebanese lackeys thought and were absolutely convinced that the reaction to Hariri’s assassination would be somewhat similar to that of 2002….

    All Lebanese and the world are right to acknowledge that the Syrians assassinated HOBEIKA and Hariri and that Asef SHAWKAT is the “local” Mastermind…., but he got precious “HELP”…LOL, from an ongoing CIA/MOSSAD devious and very clever Black Covert Operation… in order to have “your” enemy do your bidding unbeknown to him… In other words, Asef SHAWKAT was somewhat Bamboozled into carrying out the HIT on Rafic HARIRI….and obviously cut-outs were used by Shawkat’s SMI for added Plausible deniability….

    and here is how:

    After UNSC 1559 of 2004, Rafic Hariri was “convinced” to support UNSC 1559 by the Saudis, Jacques CHIRAC and others… He was made to absolutely believe that its execution/enforcement will be made to happen, come hell or high water…and Syrians/Alawites will probably be ousted from power in Damascus, should they attempt obstruction of UNSC 1559….

    Following that 1559 “Stunt” , Rafic Hariri started foolishly….or was “pushed”, “nudged” into funneling money to very extreme opposition figures in Syria…. underground Sunni groups which were completely penetrated by Asef SHAWKAT’s military intelligence… Israel and USA…knew full well that Asef SHAWKAT had penetrated these extreme Sunni Groups in Syria and abroad…and CIA/MOSSAD/OSP KNEW FULL WELL the inevitable and well predicted reaction of Asef SHAWKAT’s military intelligence Killers and the Syrian Regime to that Capital Offense to the Alawites’ Dictatorial Mafiosi regime…. VOILA…. Rafic HARIRI is TOAST….which is exactly what the Neocon PNAC planners KNOWINGLY wanted all along…, with color revolutions to follow…and the advent of a “New Middle east” and the savage Israel/USA war on Lebanon which ensued in the summer of 2006….All these events were no accident at all, but were carefully planned well ahead of time, since 1998 and the assassination of Mr. Elie HOBEIKA was part and parcel of that meticulous planning by the ZIOCONS and the war criminals in Washington DC and Tel AVIV….and every free thinking, intelligent person in this world and in Lebanon should know these facts very well by now….

    Clearly, GWB, Ariel Sharon, Halevy and his deputy Meir Dagan, Shaoul Mofaz, Elliott Abrams, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Karl Rove were in the know….and directed the whole effort right after the barbaric inside job of 9/11.

    Obviously, the US/Israel nexus never intended to touch the Alawite Dictatorship of Damascus. It’s the perfect regime for Israel’s security. The Golan heights and its quiet borders since 1973 are a glaring testimony to that eternal deal between Israel and the Alawites…..and the only “accepted” battle ground is for the control of Lebanon….with the full acquiescence of the criminal government in USA….

    STL is a TOOL, first to get what USA/Israel/France want from Syria…. I.E. complete cooperation, Hence the assassination of Imad F. MOUGHNIEH in Damascus by Asef SHAWKAT’s Goons… then STL covers for Syria’s deeds and moves on… Then STL, its indictment, trials in absentia and whatever verdicts arrived at…, will be used in defaming, de-legitimizing HIZBULLAH, and to “corner” Hizbullah into holding the bag for a score of assassinations in the Levant, which were carried out by the Infamous White house Murder INC and Asef SHAWKAT’s Syro-Lebanese goons…because the USA and France have a score to settle with Hizbullah since 1983…., so they say…and Israel is always lurking in the shadows, waiting for the KILL….in a future war on Lebanon…

    HEZBOLLAH has grown into a formidable Nationalist Lebanese Resistance, against the continuous Israeli/American aggressions on Lebanese Sovereignty, especially in 93, 96, 2006, where Hezbollah soundly defeated IDF on the battlefield, and aggressions are still ongoing with daily overflights…used in interdiction, spying and planning for additional Israeli/American wars against Lebanon….

    This STL tribunal is 100% political. Every player in this “search for truth and justice” has an agenda and is using the tribunal to push those agendas… The process is flawed beyond hope…
    Yet again, an international conduit that promotes the killing of others so that the neo-con/PNAC fantasies can be fulfilled….with the ZIOCON “Clean Break”, “Creative Destruction ” and the “Arc of Crisis”…

    That’s all there is to it… Black Covert Ops. in the Levant….

    STL is infested with CIA/MOSSAD/CSIS/MI6/DGSE/BND, Dutch, Belgian and Australian Intelligence creeps…
    and it’s not over till it’s over… There are many uglier Chapters to come from the infamous White House Murder INC,…. and its various subsidiaries in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, KSA and Israel….
    However this runs, it will bode ill for USA, EU and Israel, and any other power which supports this travesty…..

    The Neocons/Ziocons that I mention above are still very much here, waiting and fully participating…The BUSH/CHENEY war criminals/assassins established a “left behind network” in USA and Israel… Their hands are very clearly evident in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Sudan and way beyond….and the White House Murder INC, is still around, deeply buried in Lebanon and in the Levant and can spring to action again anytime….

    Posted by Jim | January 28, 2011, 5:10 am
  45. HP#36, I had this very same dream 11 years ago when I decided to come back from self inflicted exile. But that dream is now gone. I very much doubt that my son(who is 14) will even witness the beginning of such a dream. Without education nothing will ever change, we have to prepare an entire generation so that they will pass on some patriotism and wisdom unto to their children who then might one day steer the country unto the right path.
    Talking about a secular state and a new more fair electoral law is all good, but what do we do with the fanaticism which is engraved (and passed on)in most Lebanese souls? To vote is not only a right it is also a duty, but one has to deserve such a right, and in my own humble opinion not many Lebanese deserve such a right.
    N.B: I especially liked “Violence begets more violence.”

    Posted by marillionlb | January 28, 2011, 6:16 am
  46. If March 14 are going to opt out of cabinet, then I wonder if that is essentially a gamble that the STL generally, but more specifically the indictments and eventually the trials themselves, will scupper Mikati’s cabinet. Hariri seemed to be doing this as Prime Minister – hang on for dear life, hoping the STL would come to the rescue by discrediting the opposition.

    Posted by Jonathan | January 28, 2011, 6:20 am
  47. OK, now we’re talking! Excellent posts by Joe M., Gabriel, Jonathan, AIG, S al-riachy, Anonymous#2, regardless of whether you agree with them or not. Joe M in particular. May I get a sliver of credit for drawing him back in with my tongue-in-cheek reference earlier (which was incorrect) that he was the only one to use “mini-Hariri” in the past? [actually, it looks like he uses “little hariri” (lower case probably intentional) and Prophet has used mini-Hariri in the past as well]. Lord knows we need him to articulate the points he does and help drown the craziness of this Jim fella.

    At any rate, here are questions I have:

    To Joe M.:

    We all have our biases and I’m admittedly biased towards putting a high probability of HA and Syrian involvement in all the assassinations that started with R. Hariri without having the benefit of true knowledge or or objective evidence.
    The question I would have is what other plausible scenario is there? How would someone rational and smart, like you, define a theory for these assassinations (including Jibran Tueini and all the others) that involves other actors (whether it be Israel or the Salafists or what have you)?

    Nasser V.:

    Same question as for Joe M.

    S al-riachy:
    You say “Look – people want stability, higher paying jobs, better health and education – a chance to have a better life”, and by golly, of course it’s true. But here’s the catch: should the kind of unfair and undemocratic strife of May 2008, which is really at the core of putting in place these conditions that now give HA the upper hand, be accepted as a price to pay for that better life? If so, what does it bode for the future? Is there any illusion that this “better life” will slowly evolve into a subservient life, at least as far as political freedoms and freedoms of expression and belief? Isn’t it a slippery slope? Isn’t this coercion? Is it the right price to pay for what is sure to be only a temporary “better life”? What say you? Do you see the slippery slope? Do you have any illusion about the long-term future if the so-called Resistance maintains its arms?
    From another angle, wouldn’t a “better life” have come about from Lebanon signing a peace treaty with Israel, becoming a beacon of peace and prosperity and free trade and tourism to the benefit of all its people, choosing a non-aligned political path and putting its own interests and that of its people first with full separation of church/mosque/temple and state? Why does poor little Lebanon have to be the battleground for liberating Palestine when as so rightly said by AIG, the Golan is sooooo quiet for all these years?
    Joe M. may call these biases but I really don’t see anyone from the other camp giving a logical and convincing explanation. The principles put forth all have to do with Arabism, the Arab nation, the rights of the Palestinians, the “struggle,” the demonization of Israel and in may cases of all the Jews, etc.
    Unconvincing to say the least.

    Folks with the kind of biases that I have have no interest in simply being blind followers of the U.S. policies. We have a genuine love for Lebanon as a potentially very successful country with full democracy and prosperity for all its people. Yes, this counts all the sects, including the Shi’a, Sunnis, Christians (all denominations), Jews, Hindus, etc. In the kind of Lebanon we imagine, the separation I mention above would ensure that these are strictly personal endeavors completely separate from politics. And, with a path like that, there is no fear of future slide into autocratic rule.
    At every attempt to begin seeding such a structure, assassinations crop up and chop it off. That, in my opinion, IS a fact.


    Assuming you’re right on all you say, the question remains: is it all worth the price Israel pays? is it worth it for its citizen? is there a drive for Israelis to emigrate seeking a better life even if they continue supporting Israel from afar?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 28, 2011, 6:49 am
  48. Welcome back marillionlb, we missed you 🙂

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 28, 2011, 6:51 am
  49. #46…
    STL has one mission only: To protect the Syrian Regime since a deal was cut with USA in 2008… when SYRIA assassinated Imad F. MOUGHNIEH, Hence Asef SHAWKAT and the ASSAD Goons will be protected…
    On the other hand, STL’s new mission is to FRAME Hezbollah in order to DEFAME, DENIGRATE and DELEGITIMIZE the RESISTANCE in the eyes of the World. Pure and Simple Disinformation and hundreds of thousands of articles will be printed Worldwide regurgitating the same crap for years to come, if not decades.

    If any one goes to jail it will be the chauffeur or some other fall person and everyone else lives happily ever after. The crimes of the Infamous White House Murder INC, and Asef SHAWKAT’s Syro-Lebanese MI assassins will go on unpunished….

    Posted by Jim | January 28, 2011, 6:59 am
  50. Jim, can you state, in your own words, in simple and concise statements whom you support and whom you don’t? It’s all very confusing. So, using 1 for support and 2 for don’t support, please just simply attach such a number to the following:
    – Syrian regime
    – Syrian people
    – Abdel-Halim Khaddam
    – Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah
    – Hizbollah
    – Michel Aoun
    – March 14
    – March 8
    – US official government/policy
    – US people
    – Israeli government
    – Israeli people (non Arab)
    – Israeli people (Arab)
    – PLO
    – Hamas
    – Elie Hobeika (;-))
    – Qifa Nabki
    – Joe M.
    – Honest Patriot
    – Prophet
    – anonymous
    – Anonymous
    – Anonymous#2
    – Danny

    Just cut-and-paste and attach a 1 or a 2 to each entry. Much obliged.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 28, 2011, 7:12 am
  51. @HP 47, there is no doubt in my mind as to Syrian involvement in many crimes on Lebanese soil (I still have the scares to prove it), nevertheless I am patiently waiting for the STL findings (although in doubt that we will ever know the truth and the whole truth).

    And yes people (me at least) want stability (for me this comes first), better standards of living, basic necessities…etc; but ALL past government proved over the years that such things were never on top of their agendas.

    As to peace with Israel: I would love to see the borders open one day based on a fair and equitable peace between the two countries but I do not see it happening anytime soon. On this subject I would also like to point out to you (with all respect) that many will argue that your theory of peace with Israel would bring prosperity is flawed taking the example of Jordan and Egypt.
    I would rather not comment on “Why does poor little Lebanon have to be the battleground for liberating Palestine when as so rightly said by AIG, the Golan is sooooo quiet for all these years?” as my views on this subject are very radical and might offend.

    I am afraid that in a sense, this time the formation of the government is no longer one of my main worries. Idiots will be replaced by new idiots (and some of the old idiots will be reshuffled). Hizbullah will keep its weapon and slowly progress towards the establishment of their vision of a state.
    I will no longer invest a single penny in this country. My main worry now is what is taking place in Egypt for end of last year my partners and I have decided to invest in Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh after being shafted for 5 years in our homeland. Maybe this was also a wrong choice !

    Posted by marillionlb | January 28, 2011, 7:13 am
  52. Jim, a couple more just to resolve any degeneracy (forgive the physics lingo):
    – Asef Shawkat
    – Bashar Al-Assad
    – Rustom Ghazali
    – Joshua Landis (of
    – Ehsani2
    – Nasser V

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 28, 2011, 7:14 am
  53. marillionb, I didn’t mean to say that peace with Israel, by itself, is what will create prosperity in Lebanon. Rather, it is simply having a peaceful and stable and strong country with an open economy and full democracy. There sill undoubtedly be vigorous economic competition with Israel but then Lebanon will be trading with the world, tourism will be the #1 industry, the banking system and trade will again be back to have Beirut as their vibrant headquarters for Middle East business. For all the glitter of Dubai, Qatar, and the other golf states they wouldn’t stand a chance against a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Lebanon. methinks. All in that utopia of mine, admittedly.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 28, 2011, 7:19 am
  54. HP, cute.
    I support Justice and Truth…Real Truth!!! I loath and despise “Agents Provocateurs…”, Disinformation, and Falsehoods propagators….

    Posted by Jim | January 28, 2011, 7:24 am
  55. HP, one more thing,
    I absolutely HATE and despise the Infamous White House Murder INC,…

    Posted by Jim | January 28, 2011, 7:30 am
  56. Jim, curiouser and curiouser. This is no help. You don’t want to be specific?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 28, 2011, 7:30 am
  57. HP, I could…but my hands are tied by the Official Secrets Act…

    Posted by Jim | January 28, 2011, 7:40 am
  58. ok, yesterday’s op-ed.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 28, 2011, 7:44 am
  59. Have been following this site for a while, I love the discussion and is alway informative.

    While I am sure that others will more aptly be able to refute what Joe M. had to say in 40 and 41, really it just turned my stomach. Hezbollah the party of consensus, the ones to bring honesty to the government, to bring fairness to the election laws, etc.

    So you see them as the saviours to right all the wrongs in Lebanon and just gloss over all the destruction they have caused. Nice view, trash a country and then present your party as the ones to save the country.

    Others can debate with you about the causes for M14 ineffectual governance but one cannot deny that the obstinate blocking by M8 of everything had a large hand in the failure of the government.

    You present this viewpoint so glibly and just gloss over all the despicable actions M8 and Hezbollah have engaged in over the years.

    I certainly don’t have the experience some of the others who post regularly on this blog have but I have seen first hand for the past 10 years what has really been going on in Lebanon. Your ideas that Nasarallah and Hezbollah are benevolent and wise and the ones to lead Lebanon out of the abyss so twist reality as to make it unrecognizable.

    Posted by Doesn'tliketopost | January 28, 2011, 7:45 am
  60. marillionlb, I just noticed your Jan. 25 blog entry of “Violence begets violence.” I did not steal it in my comment above. Pure coincidence (a happy one). We resonate.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 28, 2011, 8:05 am
  61. @HP 61, such a thought never crossed my mind :).

    Posted by marillionlb | January 28, 2011, 8:08 am
  62. Hilarious monikers: usedtopost, doesn’tliketopost

    Expect, in the future:

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 28, 2011, 8:08 am
  63. Joe m says,
    “One day you claim that the law is god and can heal all wounds, the next day you claim that government cant function by consensus because the various parties “have absolutely nothing in common.” It’s an ironic dynamic.”

    Joe, what law does the call for a single colour cabinet violate? Next thing you are going to tell me is that constitutionally March 14 is obligated to join the cabinet. Get serious. Your fishing expedition to join two ideas that have absolutely no connection to each other in any way form or fashion has not worked 🙂

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 28, 2011, 8:49 am
  64. HP,

    I read the op-ed. As usual Nick along with others seem to think that HA has the final upper hand in Lebanon. We all knew that HA was slowly but deliberately gaining ground by strengthening themselves militarily as well as playing on Napoleon complex of some (The village Idiot). They have been active buying land through shell companies and charities same as the Jews did from Arabs in Palestine.

    Those who think that HA will disappear at any point because of a deal with Syria is dead wrong. HA is set up to be the nerve center of the Iranian Revolution. Kind of a bunker if the Iranian mullahs collapse. My feeling is even if Iran’s regime is toppled those turbuned divine preachers will relocate to their “summer house” in Lebanon to continue their plans for the return of Imam Hussain.

    HA will not be neutralized. They have shown to be deft with their threats assassinations and arms twisting. The only part that makes sense in Noe’s article is about an Israeli war against HA (well Lebanon…as it will be a semi parking lot)!

    Whether STL indicts HA (including Nassralllah)it will not change the facts on the ground. Miqati seems to be so cute with his quotes. However, the mask will drop very soon.
    I love the way commentators play on the word “technocrat”. Really? Making political decisions with no bias? How on earth is that possible?

    Sorry I went off too long. Need a coffee. 😀

    Posted by danny | January 28, 2011, 9:00 am
  65. “staunchly pro-M14 website Now Lebanon.” You make it seem as if it is an independent site that, for platonic reasons, chose to favour the March-14rs. It is a Hariri-paid site. All people know that the Uqab Saqr is at the helm there.

    Posted by NR | January 28, 2011, 9:54 am
  66. HP,
    The foot of snow prevented the regular delivery of the NYT yesterday and by the time I dug out of the driveway I had the matter of three consecutive lectures to attend to. I am glad that you pointed out the Nick Noe OpEd contribution otherwise I would have missed it.
    I see things differently than Mr. Noe. Fattouch would have been a major coup for the HA grouping had the votes been what many had originally expected them to be , a tie. Under the circumstances Mr. Fattouch , in my calculus, was an opportunist and a pragmatic one for that matter. ( One must not neglect the fact that Fattouch had distanced himself considerably from some elements in March 14 right after the last parliamentary elections).
    In a democracy horse trading is part of the game and the real prize in upsetting the Lebanese balance was the switch last year by our Hamlet; WJ. That was the coup without which none of this would have transpired.
    I believe that the second most important prize was that of the Tripolitan “independents”. In this case Mr. Mikati, Mr. Safadi and Ahmad Karami had run for Parliament on a March 14 supported ticket. The magic pull of power is difficult to resist at times and the March 14 strategists never expected this development.
    A third element that is also more significant than Fattouch was the indirect blessings of KSA. I would argue that it was KSA that encouraged Nimeh Tomeh and Safadi to break away from March 14. The king makers were the Tripolitan independents. They were the ones that made it easy for Nimah and Fattouch to bolt. Nimeh is rumoured to be on a short list of potential ministers.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 28, 2011, 10:08 am
  67. I think that NOE got it absolutely right.
    The only game changer, as I said repeatedly, is Syria changing colors and going for a Full Peace with Israel…but given what we are witnessing today in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen…this “Option” might be off the table for the ASSAD Mafia as well…and is probably too late to fathom…

    Posted by Jim | January 28, 2011, 11:05 am
  68. Big showdown in Egypt.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 28, 2011, 11:18 am
  69. Before

    Posted by The Prophet | January 28, 2011, 12:06 pm
  70. RTOTD:

    I’m loving the new identity, LoL

    Posted by Gabriel | January 28, 2011, 12:13 pm
  71. HP

    Before I comment on the NYT Op-Ed, I would like to point out that if it was not for the Tunisian revolution,and the ongoing protests in Egypt, we wold not have seen a NYT OP-Ed approaching the Lebanese situation with such cautious analytical attitude.
    Keep you eyes on Egypt, new developments by the hour.
    Lots of work to do, I’ll give it a shot later.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 28, 2011, 12:17 pm
  72. prophet,
    What sort of gibberish is this? :-).The analysis by Nick Noe of the Lebanese situation reflects the unrest in Egypt? How? What did Nick Noe say that establishes that connection?on

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 28, 2011, 12:23 pm
  73. HP,Ghassan,
    My apology, for rushing an unexplained comment in # 61.

    What I meant to say is that Tunisian revolution, and Egyptian protests are on the mind of American officials, and policy makers, and also on the minds of many American journalists.
    If the Tunisian revolution has a domino effect( possibly Egypt) on other regimes, it will force a change of American policy in the middle east, and the Arab world, and no doubt on the united states approach to Lebanon and HA.

    It is not secret that both regimes, along with most Arab dictators are friends of the United States, and considered moderate Arabs by Washington.
    Those moderate Arabs have been instrumental in supporting US policies, when these policies were not popular among Arab Street.
    Failure of American policies may get more exposure by American media, regardless of the success or failure of Egyptian revolution.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 28, 2011, 12:57 pm
  74. I know this is not directly related to Lebanon, but what do you guys think the regime in Syria feels about what is happening in Egypt? Are they secretly supporting Mubarak or not?

    Posted by AIG | January 28, 2011, 1:01 pm
  75. Here’s my take on the Noe article. A load of nonsense.

    The Golan problem is, in my humble opinion, not an Israel problem. It’s a Syrian one. If Israel withraws, what’s in it for Syria? Would it start closing off the weapons path to HA?

    The Assad regime gains its “legitimacy” by somewhat representing the Arab street pulse vis-a-vis the Israel question. Take that away from it and it’ll fold before you can say Bob’s your uncle.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 28, 2011, 1:02 pm
  76. RTOTD=PiD?

    Posted by lally | January 28, 2011, 1:06 pm
  77. Lally,

    Yes. Isn’t it great 😀

    Posted by Gabriel | January 28, 2011, 1:35 pm
  78. Gabriel,

    I agree with your Post 76.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 28, 2011, 1:43 pm
  79. AIG
    I have been calling 2011 the year of miracles “annus Mirabilis” for a while, but I don’t think that the Syrian regime is concerned yet; they are not squirming in their boots. It seems that besides the Ikhwan Syria does not have a large grass roots opposition that I am aware off. If Egypt falls and the freedom virus moves eastward then I am hopeful that it would not spare a single Arab country. Each and every Arab regime has to fall.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 28, 2011, 1:47 pm
  80. Gabriel.



    Posted by lally | January 28, 2011, 1:55 pm
  81. Ghassan,
    I was not saying that a multi-party government was a legal necessity. but i was trying to make the point that your maximalist views on legal authority go full circle. on the one hand you argue that law requires some perfect application, and that it’s perfect application is essentially the only thing to be respected (more or less)… and on the other hand you argue that the political system needs to be dominated by sectarian interests right now (essentially).

    It sounded to me that you are washing your hands in the government, more than trying to come up with a way to make it properly function.

    And, im confident that you know that a sectarian government with its one-sided agenda, your single colour cabinet, will be much less effective at applying the law than even a marginally consensual one. If half the people (or marginally less than half), consider the government illegitimate, how’s it supposed to enforce the law that you love so much?

    you did bring me out of hiding a bit. but i don’t have the time to post as much as id like…

    Posted by Joe M. | January 28, 2011, 2:06 pm
  82. Food Prices To Rocket By 50% As Global Hunger Epidemic Causes Riots And Famines…

    Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Jordan, calling for government reforms and the resignation of Prime Minister Samir al-Rifai….Chanting demonstrators marched through the capital, Amman, and several other cities on Friday….
    With revolution in the air for the entire Arab world …. one has to wonder if Syria, Saudi Arabia and the gulf sheikdoms are next. If they are …. expect every major country to be scrambling for secured oil supplies, and doing so regardless of the cost….

    Posted by Jhon | January 28, 2011, 2:36 pm
  83. I didn’t understand a word of JoeM’s post @82.

    — on the one hand you argue that law requires some perfect application, and that it’s perfect application is essentially the only thing to be respected (more or less)…

    Yes, GK has made that argument.

    — and on the other hand you argue that the political system needs to be dominated by sectarian interests right now (essentially).

    I don’t know where this statement comes from. M8 is on paper not a “sectarian” interest. But even if it were, as long as it follows the “law”, then its sectarian leanings should not really matter.

    What’s in doubt nowadays is whether M8 really is interest in following “the law”, or whether they are more interested in protecting interests.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 28, 2011, 3:03 pm
  84. AIG,

    Sorry to tell you (and i guess many others here on this forum) that regardless of what happens to Egypt, Syria will not follow suit.

    Posted by EHSANI2 | January 28, 2011, 3:14 pm
  85. What will the fall of the Mubarak regime mean for Lebanon ?

    Assad must be shitting bricks.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 28, 2011, 3:16 pm
  86. If Mubarak falls … will SHN call for a national holiday to celebrate the brave Egyptian Arab brother’s stance against the Zionist/American agenda and it’s puppet regime ?

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 28, 2011, 3:24 pm
  87. RTOTD he will… but I reserve most of my enmity towards Abdul Gheit, I’d like to see him go

    Posted by tamer k. | January 28, 2011, 3:32 pm
  88. AIG … what’s your take on it?

    Doesn’t look good for Israel to me if the Egyptian street gets the government they seek.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 28, 2011, 3:37 pm
  89. Better speed up the peace process fast 🙂

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 28, 2011, 3:39 pm
  90. Joe m,
    Sometimes I think that we appear to be talking about the same thing when in esence we are not. 🙂
    A government is not illegitimate because it has no members from the opposition. A government, an effective responsible one ; is one that acts for all the people and not for only one group. If it does then it would lose the confidence of the masses and the Camber. There are checks and balances after all. And do not bother to tell me but this is Lebanon where none of these things work. That is precisely why I am asking for them. QWe will not get them if we do not demand them. And just for the record; March 14 refuses to be branded as sectarian and so does the HA alliance with its Christian FPM, Marada, Druze Talal Arslan and Omar Karami and Hoss among others.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 28, 2011, 4:06 pm
  91. On second “random” thought, Assad may be gleefully watching the events unfolding and rubbing his hands at the opportunities.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 28, 2011, 4:24 pm
  92. Ehsani,

    The people that should be mostly sorry are probably the Syrians. How does it feel as a Syrian supporting democracy in Egypt and rejecting it in Syria?

    Posted by AIG | January 28, 2011, 4:43 pm
  93. AIG,

    Syria is not a recipient of American funds the way Israel and Egypt are.

    What do the Syrians have to be sorry for ?

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 28, 2011, 4:47 pm
  94. As for what is happening in Egypt as regard to Israel, my take is that whatever happens it is good for Israel. The value of Israel as a stable US ally goes up significantly.

    And if the Muslim Brotherhood take over in Egypt, Israel’s situation will be much better. First of all, the US will stop giving the Egyptians weapons and most likely will sanction Egypt. Second, if they annul the peace treaty, that will be a declaration of war and Israel will take back the Sinai. In short, and Islamic regime in Egypt, will weaken Egypt significantly relative to Israel.

    I hope that the result is a true liberal democracy accountable to its people. That is the best long term outcome for Israel. Such countries are focused on economic growth and trade and not on wars. The chances that such a government will ever want to go to war with Israel is 0. The Egyptian people really deserve better.

    Posted by AIG | January 28, 2011, 4:55 pm
  95. “What do the Syrians have to be sorry for ?”

    Lack of democracy and basic human rights? Anemic economic growth?

    Ehsani is cheering no change in Syria, I think that if this is true the most likely loser are the Syrians.

    Posted by AIG | January 28, 2011, 4:58 pm
  96. AIG,

    Human rights?

    You live in Israel, right?

    You are under the delusion that because you have conquered Palestine the way sordid Europeans conquered America makes for a just world?

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 28, 2011, 5:23 pm
  97. The bibster has ordered a gag order on GOI ministers forbidding comments on the situation in Egypt.

    However, Gil Yaron reports from Jerusalem for der Speigal:

    “Israel is watching developments in Egypt with concern. The government is standing by autocratic Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, out of fear that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood could take power and start supplying arms to Hamas.

    Israel is usually a country where politicians have an opinion on any topic, and vociferously so. But in recent days, Israel’s leadership has been unusually silent on a certain question. No one, it seems, is willing to make an official comment on the on-going unrest in Egypt, where protesters have been holding anti-government rallies. It’s not because Israel does not care about the riots ravaging its southern neighbor — on the contrary, Israeli news channels, normally prone to parochialism, have been closely following recent events in the Arab world, from Tunisia to Lebanon.

    Radio, television and newspapers constantly report the courage of the demonstrators in the streets of Cairo, not only relishing the historic spectacle, but openly expressing sympathy with Egypt’s struggle for democracy.

    But the Israeli government is keeping quiet. “We are closely monitoring the events, but we do not interfere in the internal affairs of a neighboring state,” was the curt answer from the Israeli Foreign Ministry to requests for comments.

    So for journalists looking for quotes, it is a happy coincidence that Israel’s former Industry and Trade Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer resigned from the Israeli cabinet last week and can now freely express his opinions as a member of the opposition Labor Party. “I don’t think it is possible (for there to be a revolution in Egypt),” Ben-Eliezer told Israeli Army Radio. “I see things calming down soon.” The Iraqi-born former minister is a renowned expert on Israeli-Arab relations and is a friend of the Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

    Ben Eliezer’s statement is consistent with the assessment of members of Israel’s intelligence community and Middle East experts, who point to the strength of Egypt’s army. In his remarks to Army Radio, Ben-Eliezer also explained Israel’s position on the protests. “Israel cannot do anything about what is happening there,” he said. “All we can do is express our support for (Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak and hope the riots pass quietly.” He added that Egypt was Israel’s most important ally in the region.”


    Indeed, the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the main reasons why official Israel seems to support Mubarak so keenly. It is considered the most popular political movement in Egypt, and its position regarding the peace treaty with Israel is clear: They want it revoked immediately. “Democracy is something beautiful,” said Eli Shaked, who was Israel’s ambassador to Cairo from 2003 to 2005, in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE. “Nevertheless, it is very much in the interests of Israel, the United States and Europe that Mubarak remains in power.”

    For Israel, more is at stake than the current so-called “cold” peace with Egypt and a few tens of millions of dollars in trade. “Never before have Israel’s strategic interests been so closely aligned with those of the Sunni states as today,” says Shaked, referring to Arab countries whose populations are mainly Sunni Muslim, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.”


    “If regime change occurs in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood would take the helm, and that would have incalculable consequences for the region,” says Shaked. The Israeli government has noted with concern the fact that, even after 30 years of peace, Egypt’s army is still equipped and trained mainly with a possible war against Israel in mind.



    “Shaked considers the West’s demands for more openness and democracy in Egypt to be a fatal mistake. “It is an illusion to believe that the dictator Mubarak could be replaced by a democracy,” he says. “Egypt is still not capable of democracy,” he adds, pointing out that the illiteracy rate is over 20 percent, to give just one example. The Muslim Brotherhood is the only real alternative, he opines, which would have devastating consequences for the West. “They will not change their anti-Western attitude when they come to power. That has not happened (with Islamist movements) anywhere: neither in Sudan, Iran nor Afghanistan.”

    Ultimately the choice is between a pro- or an anti-Western dictatorship, says Shaked. “It is in our interest that someone from Mubarak’s inner circle takes over his legacy, at any cost.” In the process, it is not possible to rule out massive bloodshed in the short term, he says. “It would not be the first time that riots in Egypt were brutally crushed.”

    “”It is in our interest that someone from Mubarak’s inner circle takes over his legacy, at any cost.” ”

    This is the key point to watch in terms of what the Obama administration actually does in this regard as opposed to what they say about freedom ‘n democracy etc.

    Bet the phone lines between TA and DC are jammed and that there’s plenty of angst among the zios within the administration FP infrastructure who would agree with Shaked.

    Good luck with your Mubarak rehab project, guys.

    Posted by lally | January 28, 2011, 5:29 pm
  98. Yes, I know, what Israel does to the Palestinians justifies whatever Bashar does to the Syrians. Yalla, try something new.
    Do you or do you not support democracy in Syria?

    Posted by AIG | January 28, 2011, 5:31 pm
  99. rtotd #97,
    Of course you are right. It is delusional to think of justice in a world where sordid Europeans conquer America. Real justice is represented only by the sordid Arabs conquering all sorts of other people 🙂 What are you trying to say? that conquest is good for some but not for others?lol.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 28, 2011, 5:34 pm
  100. I fully support democracy in Syria.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 28, 2011, 5:37 pm
  101. Yes, I know, what Israel does to the Palestinians justifies whatever Bashar does to the Syrians.


    If only the Syrians had it that good…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 28, 2011, 5:40 pm
  102. Who made the Assads the mouthpiece of Syrians …. or Mubarak the mouthpiece of Egyptians?

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 28, 2011, 5:43 pm
  103. AIG:

    I don’t think that what is driving the protests in Tunis, Egypt etc.. is a democracy deficit.

    Assad’s regime will be quite immune to recent developments, precisely because there is a certain appeal to his “autocratic regime” that doesn’t quite hold as well when considering Egypt, Tunis, etc.

    I think Israel’s best bet is to make peace with the Palestinians. It is the only thing that will puncture a hole through the Assad regime.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 28, 2011, 5:46 pm
  104. Hmmm…although this could be a bargaining tactic, some of the rumors of possible ministers may indicate that Mikati lacks sufficient room for maneuver.

    A technocratic cabinet is still theoretically possible–and potentially even Mikati’s goal. But maybe the demands of the system might be too powerful. Time will tell. I really am hoping these are just rumors…or just the opening bids. Sigh.

    And anyone else thinking that events in Egypt will reverberate back in Lebanon? Meaning: given the fall of Mubarak (I’m now hearing he’s on a plane to Switzerland), the US will be less likely to countenance a Lebanese government with any Hizbullah role?

    Posted by mickanthrope | January 28, 2011, 5:56 pm
  105. Gabriel,

    What is driving the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia in my opinion is the disbelief of the younger generation that the current regimes can offer any hope for the future. I don’t think that the situation is much different in Syria.

    I do think that the Asad regime is much more ruthless than the others and that certain parts of the Syrian army are completely loyal to it and will have no problem shooting at other Syrians. Therefore, a successful revolt in Syria has a small chance of success and will be bloody as hell.

    Posted by AIG | January 28, 2011, 6:00 pm
  106. Time for ?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 28, 2011, 6:34 pm
  107. oops – I didn’t mean to put a link in there!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 28, 2011, 6:35 pm
  108. Ahhhh…speaking of rumors: Mubarak is still in Egypt, it seems.

    Posted by mickanthrope | January 28, 2011, 6:36 pm
  109. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs days should be limited if Obama has any sense, good bye mubarak!

    Posted by tamer k. | January 28, 2011, 6:37 pm
  110. Mubarak just delivered , what seems to be His, last Speech.
    Asking the cabinet to resign,and forming a new cabinet does not change the fact that every and any cabinet is Mubarak cabinet. who is He fooling?
    Every policy is a Maubarak policy. All Egyptian cabinet have served to implement Mubarak’s wishes and policies.
    It’s sad that Mubarak still thinks His people are stupid.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 28, 2011, 6:43 pm
  111. Bin Ali must be lonely.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 28, 2011, 6:46 pm

    Surprisingly… No-one hear who was complaining about the “Salafi” actions in Tripoli seems dismayed by the actions of the “not-Salafi” Egyptian protesters


    Posted by Gabriel | January 28, 2011, 6:50 pm
  113. “in favor of boycotting the Miqati government as a way of staying true to the ideals of majoritarian government”

    And who won the popular vote last time?

    Posted by Queequeg AbuKhalil the Jew | January 28, 2011, 6:57 pm
  114. “Surprisingly… No-one hear who was complaining about the “Salafi” actions in Tripoli seems dismayed by the actions of the “not-Salafi” Egyptian protesters”

    wow. just. wow.

    Posted by Queequeg AbuKhalil the Jew | January 28, 2011, 6:58 pm
  115. Gabriel. You cannot compare the demonstrations in Lebanon to those in Egypt. 2 Different things, for 2 different reasons.

    Posted by tamer k. | January 28, 2011, 7:06 pm
  116. Incredible isn’t it, Moby?

    It’s a curious thing.

    Tamer, I’m not talking about reasons, rationale. Either you complain universally when “protests” turn violent, or you don’t do so.

    Reasons are subjective. They always are.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think developments in Egypt are healthy, despite the unfortunate violence we see in the streets.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 28, 2011, 7:12 pm
  117. Gabie,
    Violence should never be part of any protest.The difference between the Egypt protests and those which took place in Lebanon is that the Egyptian protests are spontaneous,and unreorganized,while the ones in Lebanon were organized,and called for by a prime mintier.
    Egyptian protests are directed against a dictatorship who oppresses,and starves his people,while those of Lebanon are in support of a prime minister who lost his job.
    Both should be condemned for their violent part.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 28, 2011, 7:54 pm
  118. Please, let’s not forget the protests of 2008. Those were organized too, by sore losers. Just like the 2011 protests.

    It is very hard to take some of you seriously when you insist on selectively forgetting some things.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 28, 2011, 8:20 pm
  119. Prophet,
    The demos in egypt are not spontaneous, they have been planned weeks in advance.

    The differences are (1) that there is a largely functioning political system in lebanon v. a pure dictatorship in egypt, (2) egypt is far, far more repressive than lebanon, and (3) Lebanon has competing popular movements, that legitimately represent significant portions of the population…

    Anyway, Mubarak is done for. it’s over for him. And AIG, i hope the USA see this as an opportunity to interfere more, that will really help their position. Im sure the people fighting for freedom will welcome CIA with open arms. And Let Israel invade Sinai, that would be brilliant. I cant wait to see israel fall just like these other terrorist states!

    Posted by Joe M. | January 28, 2011, 8:25 pm
  120. From what Im reading, it seems the brotherhood in egypt have not been taking an active role in the demonstrations and there are many signs that reveal across the board make up of protesters from all classes,persuausions,parties etc. See: Banner held up in tahrir square with “Middle Class” on it.A robed cleric was announcing religious literature only to be shaken by youths who said…keep it patriotic.
    Perhaps the fear of the brotherhood lurking in the shadows is a sales trick Arab dictators use to keep the Americans at bay.

    Posted by Maverick | January 28, 2011, 8:34 pm
  121. Maverick,

    There is no doubt in my mind that the “fear of Islamists” has been overstated.
    Not to say that it isn’t there, but it has been talked up by the likes of Mubarak for very obvious reasons. Plus, it plays right into the hands of a fearful American, European and Israeli audience.

    I’m rather curious to see if we see any manifestation of the Brotherhood as the crisis in Egypt continues, but it has been fairly clear that so far, that has not been a factor. Nor was it a factor in Tunisia.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 28, 2011, 8:39 pm
  122. “The differences are (1) that there is a largely functioning political system in lebanon v. a pure dictatorship in egypt,”

    Seriously? Has parliament been in seesion since it was elected? The cabinet was boycotted by Amal/HA until their threats turned WJ.

    Joe M, for a lawyer you seem to be too selective. Egypt has a functioning parliament and a cabinet. Lebanon has neither. Please don’t insult our intelligence.

    Posted by danny | January 28, 2011, 8:49 pm
  123. BV,
    If you are referring to me , I made it clear that ,Violence should never be part of any protest. I was not being selective, I was just replying to Gabie’s comparison between protest in Egypt and Lebanon.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 28, 2011, 8:54 pm

    thought some of you might be interested in an article about one of aoun’s ministers that QN profiled.

    Posted by tamer k. | January 28, 2011, 9:25 pm
  125. danny,
    it’s decently functioning. I agree it’s not good. but at least there are some general democratic and administrative rules and norms that are adhered to. For example, lebanon has elections that are not totally a sham. But, i wasn’t trying to say lebanon has a great system. but id take the lebanese system over the egyptian one any day of the week.

    As for egypt, the secular left there is legitimately scared of the akhwan. Also, the real question now (in my opinion) is whether the military takes over or whether they transition to some form of democracy. Im guessing the military takes control and ousts mubarak. From my experiences there, the military and government is so scared of the islamist threat, that they would go to great lengths to prevent the akhwan from coming to power (even if it was through elections in 6 months time, like tunisia, for example).

    Posted by Joe M. | January 28, 2011, 9:27 pm
  126. HP,

    Nick Noe’s article is pathetic. While in principle I’m not opposed to returning the Golan to Syria, I question Noe’s reasoning for such move. Appeasement produces the exact opposite of your objectives when you’re dealing with such regimes as the Assad’s.

    The effects of the Egyptian uprising should soon be felt in the east. I’m sure the Iranian people are now feeling jealous from what happened in Tunisia and now in Egypt. They would definitely be eager to get rid of the archaic W of F regime. It is an opposrtunity for them to get inspired to reignite their previous uprising. They deserve better than this monstrous regime of ‘idiots’. Syrians would also feel jealous and sooner and later will have to decide to pay the price for freedom and get rid of this despicable despotic band of thugs.

    As for the Lebanese, it should be an opportunity for them to reject what is being imposed upon them by the axis of despotism through its agents of darkness. There is no need for you Ghassan to argue and dress what happened with sugar coatings. What we have is an obvious coup orchetsrated by outside despotic forces. Any ‘government’ created as a result will lack legitimacy and should be described as such.

    Posted by anonymous | January 28, 2011, 9:45 pm
  127. Nabi #118:

    The reason for my comment was 2-fold:

    – For those who don’t see the irony of having pointed out the violence in Tripoli demos as a way of “delegitimizing” them, on account of the violence.

    – To further delegitimize them, (mocking them), they reduce the demos to be a collection of Salafis running amok.

    I think it’s interesting because it highlights the psychology of the person behind the comments themselves.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 28, 2011, 11:01 pm
  128. “Here in the Middle East, the long hopeful process of democratic change is now beginning to unfold.

    Millions of people are demanding freedom for themselves and democracy for their countries.

    To these courageous men and women, I say today: All free nations will stand with you as you secure the blessings of your own liberty.

    Ladies and Gentlemen: In our world today, a growing number of men and women are securing their liberty.

    And as these people gain the power to choose, they create democratic governments to protect their natural rights.

    We should all look to a future when every government respects the will of its citizens — because the ideal of democracy is universal.

    We are all concerned for the future of Egypt’s reforms when peaceful supporters of democracy — men and women — are not free from violence. The day must come when the rule of law replaces emergency decrees — and when the independent judiciary replaces arbitrary justice.

    The Egyptian government must fulfill the promise it has made to its people — and to the entire world — by giving its citizens the freedom to choose.

    The day is coming when the promise of a fully free and democratic world, once thought impossible, will also seem inevitable.

    The people of Egypt should be at the forefront of this great journey, just as you have led this region through the great journeys of the past.

    A hopeful future is within reach of every Egyptian citizen — and every man and woman in the Middle East. The choice is yours to make. But you are not alone. All free nations are your allies.

    So together, let us choose liberty and democracy ”

    Do you now who spoke the above words? No Google please.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 28, 2011, 11:45 pm
  129. so, in whose NWO does the latest shakings and makings fit into?
    I think it has negative ripple effects for both Axis’.
    The despots fear the ripple effect of newfound inspiration in their subordinate masses……and the West/Israel fear the ripple effect of true Democracy and the loss of puppets.
    But the people are unanimously overjoyed, and thats all that matters, so lets stop fighting for a second and bask in this long awaited epiphany of sorts.
    As for my beloved Lebanon, well you’re problems are starting to look puny in light of regional occurences and for once its not all about you.

    Posted by Maverick | January 28, 2011, 11:46 pm
  130. Ghassan,
    Who cares who spoke that. Whether it’s Obama or Bush or some other colonial war criminal, it doesn’t matter. Saying a few words doesn’t make up for the fact that they also spent billions of dollars to make the egyptian military the most efficient killer of protesters possible.

    Are you trying to say that one empty speech is enough to balance all the bad things they do? If so, maybe you’ve also become a supporter of Nasrallah. He can deliver one hell of a speech.

    Posted by Joe M. | January 28, 2011, 11:52 pm
  131. GK 129,

    GWB administration perhaps had good intentions and noble ideas, but they certainly lacked the plan and the foresight to achieve it without all the negative outcomes that we are still witnessing in Iraq.

    Bush’s declaration of mission accomplished was premature. He (and of course his strategists) failed to foresee where his troops must make their final stop before jumping on that ship in the gulf and declaring victory. His final destination should have been Damascus and not Baghdad. He could have done it with minimal losses in 2003, and the picture would have been completely differnt now.

    Instead, he will go down in history as the President who failed in his mission.

    Until Damascus is freed we cannot basque in this ‘fake’ epiphany that Maverick seems so eager to want to preamaturely enjoy, lest we follow in GWB’s footsteps

    Posted by anonymous | January 29, 2011, 12:10 am
  132. tamer k. @125 the article mixes bits and bytes

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 29, 2011, 12:38 am
  133. Ghassan,

    that has Obamesque written all over it, and I promise I didnt google.(I know you’re being sarcastic)Weve become use to that simplistic over romanticised rhetoric of that figurehead who works for wall st…and he mightve got a few people with that rhetoric when he first took office, but that ‘Change’ and ‘yes we can’ now belongs to the good people of Tunisia/Egypt.
    Maybe its the people in the U.S who should learn from fed up ME’erners about getting round to some ‘change’. Americans..’Yes you can’.

    Posted by Maverick | January 29, 2011, 12:51 am
  134. ghassan,
    if you posted that in sarcasm, i apologize for my antagonism.

    Posted by Joe M. | January 29, 2011, 12:59 am
  135. The mass media coverage of the events in Egypt vs. the events earlier in Tunisia…

    In Tunisia, we were ‘informed’ that it was a popular uprising against a ‘dictator’ who has enriched himself and his family at the people’s expense and that ‘poor’ people and unemployed youth were rioting. After somewhat badly handled attempts to control the situation, the president and most of his family fled. Now we see Canada wanting to find a way to return his brother to Tunisia to face some quickly assembled charges.

    In Egypt, research reveals the same manipulation of elections as Ben Ali was accused of. But no mention of this in mass media.

    In contrast, we have Obama talking about ‘reform’ in Egypt, studiously avoiding any use of the ‘D’ word (democracy). One senses that what the US wants to happen is anything other than a popular revolution. Perhaps a military coup might be in order, or some rearranging of the deckchairs as long as the people in power were friendly towards the US and Israel as well as perhaps globalization. No one speaks of corruption under Mubarak or the state of emergency that has been in force since 1981.

    Surely the question should be ‘good governance’ for the people (education, health, freedom, full employment). Tell me that corruption is worse in Tunisia than in Egypt and I am not sure I am going to believe it. Also tell me that those in power elsewhere, for example in the US, are not corrupt and do not benefit directly and indirectly from their terms in power.

    So this leaves me wondering, why is the media coverage of Egypt so different from that of Tunisia when we are seeing, broadly speaking, the same events unfolding. Is it because Egypt has a stronger control apparatus than Tunisia? Or that western governments only want a change of power if it results in a government friendly to their interests. In other words, Egypt is more important than Tunisia so ‘people power’ in Egypt is to be avoided. And of course no comparisons with other countries like Morocco, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, GCC, Kosovo etc. that have ‘friendly’ leaders… The very latest news today is ‘police open fire on protesters’. And what’s happening in Jordan? I cannot find any real news on the BBC or anywhere else…., just some bits and pieces.

    Posted by cvghfx | January 29, 2011, 6:30 am
  136. cvghfx, don’t be naive. Why doesn’t President Obama lecture the Chinese the same way he’s lecturing President Mubarak?
    Why didn’t the U.S. lecture China the same way at the time of the Tienanmen square revolt?
    Countries have interests and these interests guide their politics. There are principles of Human Rights that are also fought for. This fight is constrained by the reality of what can be achieved and the politics of the situation.
    The U.S. is not God.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 29, 2011, 6:43 am
  137. HP,

    However; In God We Trust! 😀

    Posted by danny | January 29, 2011, 7:02 am
  138. True, HP.
    And how easy it is for the Egyptian regime (and any regime, especially Syria’s Dictator , or anywhere…) to shut down their Internet.
    No need for high tech government expertise, or complex software.
    What we’re seeing is that you shut the Internet down the exact same way you shut down a saloon or a bookstore : simply order the owners (the router/server vendors) to pull the plug….
    Nothing complicated. A single phone call, a single cop is all the’ force’ that’s required.
    Whatever the outcome (and however long it takes for the New Junta….to emerge as the new rulers of Egypt), the ease with which a Third World government can black out its Internet will erase some of the smug recent assumptions that Tweets, Facebook and the like ….. are any match for tanks.? Time will tell.

    Posted by cvghfx | January 29, 2011, 7:03 am
  139. #137

    Revolution might come to the USA…
    Your US “God”….is falling off a cliff and fast. The Whole World knows and sees that much…keep deluding yourselves…

    Inequality in USA is greater than Egypt, Yemen or Tunisia…
    And, the U.S. actually has much greater inequality than in any of those countries and more….

    Specifically, the “Gini Coefficient” – the figure economists use to measure inequality – is higher in the U.S.A.

    Posted by cvghfx | January 29, 2011, 7:14 am
  140. The United States’ hegemony continues to recede in the Greater Middle East and the World… and is increasingly viewed, post 2006 war of aggression on Lebanon, Gaza 2008, Wikileaks, Palestine Papers, as the enemy of Arabs and Muslim. Its pariah status grows because Washington continues to prop up, fund and arm the Zionist occupation of Palestine….LOL, and no one is listning in DC…except Shas FREEMAN and Helen Thomas… who were demonized and kicked out…

    Posted by cvghfx | January 29, 2011, 7:53 am
  141. Joe m/ Maverick
    Joe apology accepted.:-). Maverick that was Condi in 2005 at Cairo University.
    Very ironic, isn’t it?
    Joe m, although my post of these exerpts was not meant to start a serious discussion but to show , one more time, some of the irnies that result in the game that nations play, your response raises an important question that we should sometime deal with. Given a real choice which would be better for the US or any of the major powers , to ally with democracies or dictatorships?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 29, 2011, 9:26 am
  142. Les propos de Hillary Clinton et Robert Gibbs, porte-parole de la Maison Blanche vendredi ont été pitoyables, et ils avaient l’un et l’autre la dignité d’un lapin affolé dans la lueur des phares d’une voiture, la nuit. Demander à un gouvernement la modération quand les villes brûlent est grotesque. Demander aux manifestants de s’adoucir quand les émeutes ont lieu est débile. Demander des réformes à un moment où l’atmosphère est au pillage est inepte. Annoncer que l’aide américaine à l’Egypte sera revue ou suspendue en pareilles circonstances est bien davantage que de la maladresse. Je me suis demandé à certains instants si l’on avait affaire à des imbéciles qui ont dépassé depuis longtemps leur seuil d’incompétence, ou à des gens qui jouaient expressement et volontairement la comédie….

    La doctrine US envisageait un monde régi par un cartel de dictatures, et plus sûr pour les autocrates…. Je n’oserais imaginer qu’elle pouvait aller jusqu’à involontairement favoriser…. un monde plus sûr pour les gens LIBRES de ce monde, qui comprennent parfaitement la Demagogie et l’hypocrisie des USA….

    L’aveuglement volontaire a ses raisons que la raison ignore totalement….

    Posted by Jhon | January 29, 2011, 10:36 am
  143. LOL….

    Internet Reportedly Down in Syria
    On the same day that Egypt has allegedly blocked the Internet, Syria may have made a similar move to silence dissenting voices.

    The country has suspended all of its Internet services….

    Earlier this week, Reuters reported that Syria had imposed bans on two programs that allow access to Facebook, which had previously been banned in 2007.


    1: Questions arise on whether Syria has followed Egypt on Web crackdown — The Hill

    2: Syria tightens Internet ban after Tunis unrest-users — Reuters

    The Syrian government should be concerned. They are one the most vulnerable regimes in the Middle east, and what is happening in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen could easily be happening in Damascus right now.,2817,2376888,00.asp

    Posted by Jhon | January 29, 2011, 10:51 am
  144. The protestors should remove the e from Egypt following the internet crackdown and just call it Gypt.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 29, 2011, 11:22 am
  145. Ya cvghfx, I’m not sure that in your #140 you were really replying to my #137 (?)

    You said:
    Your US “God”….is falling off a cliff and fast. The Whole World knows and sees that much…keep deluding yourselves…
    Inequality in USA is greater than Egypt, Yemen or Tunisia…
    And, the U.S. actually has much greater inequality than in any of those countries and more….
    Specifically, the “Gini Coefficient” – the figure economists use to measure inequality – is higher in the U.S.A.

    Well, well. All that you say may well be the case but it is far from proven and even further from logical. Here are a few thoughts:
    The so-called Gini coefficient may define the amplitude of the variation but fails to take into account the “dc level” around which this coefficient is centered. Why is it that almost any aspiring person in the world who is suffering from inequality or lack of liberty or poor economic conditions wants no thing better than to emigrate to the U.S. ? Why is it that all those pontificators who live in the U.S. and criticize it virulently and condemn it continue to live in the U.S. and enjoy its liberties instead of going back to whence they came from?
    What about freedoms, liberties? Are you saying China or Russia have the better environment? Do you realize that no matter how strong other factors, without these essential human rights no country has a chance at the kind of success the U.S. mustered?
    Rather than looking down on the U.S., demonizing it, and projecting its downfall, one would be much better served looking and working towards the true betterment of the other countries from a fundamental human rights and democracy perspective.
    What makes the U.S. so exceptional?
    Human rights, liberties, freedoms, separation of church (religion) and state, openness, creativity, the opportunity for anyone from any origin working hard and, with some luck, achieving a greater dream than ever imagined. And, importantly, the fact that separation of religion and state, unlike in communism, comes with a respect of religion and an overwhelming belief and trust in God by a majority of its citizens. As Danny wrote, “In God we trust.”

    Yes, I’m a U.S. partisan. Big time. And I have the proof for it and not the hollow rhetoric of U.S. haters (driven by jealousy, spite, and incompetence).

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 29, 2011, 11:27 am
  146. HP, yes, It was meant for 138…but hey…go for it,… I am too, as American as apple pie believe it or not….but since 2000 onwards…the US has embarked on a destructive course…culminating with the Patriot Act… etc etc, futile foreign wars, and an outright Bankruptcy…the USA, HP is not what it used to be….just talk to real good, honest, hard working Americans…and you’ll be surprised at what you hear…..

    Posted by cvghfx | January 29, 2011, 11:38 am
  147. New damaging cable on wikileaks on the Future Institute flying in 10,000 Lebanese Brazilians to vote in the elections and providing each with $10,000 in “expense” money.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 29, 2011, 11:39 am
  148. Habibi cvghfx, everyone, every nation, can improve after making mistakes. Sorry for my “go for it” above. The fundamentals are still good in the U.S.
    Have faith.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 29, 2011, 11:54 am
  149. GMA after his meeting with Mikati made remarks in which he suggested that the make up of the cabinet should be “that all the required human and economic capabilities be harmonious to be able to adopt decisions.”

    I am in full agreement that the cabinet must be harmonious but I wonder why the general did not think of this when he and his allies made a mess of the last two cabinets? GMA never stops to amaze.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 29, 2011, 12:43 pm
  150. Additional evidence emerging that what happened was a coup:

    Hezbollah are calling the shots on the ground. They are organized and well armed. There is nothing much Hariri can do at this point except stay in the opposition.

    Posted by AIG | January 29, 2011, 1:00 pm
  151. AIG,
    Tell us about what you have on the Salafist thugs of Hariri and KSA all over Lebanon…before spewing your garbage diatribes about Hezbollah…
    Compare that to the men in Black…Lebanon will take the men in Black anytime….

    Posted by Anonymous#2 | January 29, 2011, 1:08 pm
  152. A2,

    I just gave Hezbollah a compliment. Is that not good enough for you? If you want Hezbollah, you can have them, but at least acknowledge that in this particular case, they got power by intimidation. A soft coup nicely executed. Mabrouk.

    Posted by AIG | January 29, 2011, 1:15 pm
  153. Does anybody think that the whole thing was a deal between the US KSA and Syria to get Hariri out of the government so he does not have to cancel the international court and leave that to somebody else, I the same time increase the influence of Syria and KSA in Lebanon.

    Posted by Norman | January 29, 2011, 1:21 pm
  154. AIG
    There is a clear distinction between the events that led to the resignation of the cabinet and the candidacy and then the nomination of Mr. Mikati as a designate premier.
    I think that most would agree that the resignation of the 11 cabinet members , although constitutional, might have been the prelude to more aggressive acts by HA and its allies. But the decision for Mikati to run and many of the votes that were essential for his victory are more a reflection on the incompetence of Sa’ad Hariri than they are about the ideas of March 14. Mr. Hariri has never shown that he was up to the task of either standing up to the opposition or governing.He even lost the trust of allies such as Mikati, Ahmad Karami, Mohammad Safadi and Mt. Tomeh all of whom were strong allies of March 14 and are neither revolutionarynor war mongers. If anything they are well educated, urbane and successful businessmenwho crave leadership and stability. Mr. Sa’ad Hariri failed to provide both.
    This is not to be seen as an endorsement of HA. Far from it. I have called publivly on Mr. Hariri to resign three times in the past year because of his inability to lead. March 14 needs a leader whose list of qualifications goes beyond a healthy bank account.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 29, 2011, 1:27 pm
  155. AIG,
    If anybody is behind what you call a COUP… it’s your friends, buddies and DARLINGS of Syria’s ASSAD. MABROUK to you guys.
    If you love the Alawites so much…why don’t you fly them to the NEGEV soonest…they happen to be the 13th Lost Jewish Tribe….and we know that they are the Fallashas of Syria since the 1960s….

    Posted by Anonymous#2 | January 29, 2011, 1:28 pm
  156. Norman,

    I thought you were out marching in the streets asking the Asad family to go home after 40 years of running Syria into the ground. 🙂
    But of course, what is good for Egypt is not good for Syria. Egypt needs democracy now while Syria needs democracy in 30 years. Why is that exactly?

    Posted by AIG | January 29, 2011, 1:32 pm
  157. A2,

    The Syrian regime is the most ruthless and anti-democratic regime in the middle east. I would be delighted to see it replaced by a democracy in Syria.

    Posted by AIG | January 29, 2011, 1:35 pm
  158. GK,

    I disagree with you. It is not the case that Jumblatt or Fattoush or Safadi came to Hariri and said that they will support an M14 government if Miqati heads it. This option was never on the table because of Hezbollah threats.

    Posted by AIG | January 29, 2011, 1:38 pm
  159. A2,

    What evidence do you have about the link you purport that “Salafist thugs” are “of Hariri and KSA.”
    Last anyone checked, what you call “Salafist thugs” were sent by Syrian Moukhabarat to sow trouble in Lebanon and to get rid of them in Syria.
    Hollow and unsubstantiated claims only reflect your own intellect and capabilities.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 29, 2011, 1:44 pm
  160. AIG,
    Regimes that are in cooperation with the US and Israel are being targeted by their people for obvious reason, Mubarak enforced the blockade on Gaza and for that the Egyptian people will never forgive him,

    Bashar Assad has nothing to fear, He is fighting for Arab rights and is loved by his people.

    I am sure that is killing you .

    Israel should run to solve the Palestinian problem before it is too late, and all their friends are out of power .

    Posted by Norman | January 29, 2011, 1:46 pm
  161. HP,
    Let’s agree to disagree.
    But there is very strong evidence all over since 2000, to suggest that much for years and years…and Fath Al-Islam was a glaring example and everyone in Lebanon knows that.
    Syria always tries to penetrate those groups to learn All about them, that’s what the Syrian killers do best…and that’s what Syria markets to the WEST….as intelligence sharing and like….

    Posted by Anonymous#2 | January 29, 2011, 1:51 pm
  162. Norman,

    “Bashar Assad has nothing to fear, He is fighting for Arab rights and is loved by his people.”

    One of your best lines yet. If Bashar is so loved by his people why does he deny them free speech? Why is Syria a police state? Why does he block many social media sites? Why is someone so “loved” afraid of his own people?

    Asad is fighting for Arab rights? How? By keeping the Golan border with Israel quiet? By not willing to send the UN a letter saying Sheba belongs to Lebanon? By making the Syrian people one of the poorest people in the world?

    So, you still did not answer my question, why are you pro-democracy in Egypt and against democracy in Syria?

    Posted by AIG | January 29, 2011, 1:56 pm
  163. A2, any hint of what this “very strong evidence” that “everyone in Lebanon knows.”
    It’s not a matter of opinion. I don’t have one here, other than maybe an admitted bias. Happy to look at facts, but where are the facts?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 29, 2011, 1:57 pm
  164. To AIG, You Love Democracy in Syria…that’s the rhetorical part…but you ADORE the ASSADs much more, and you want them in power for decades to come. Spare me your BS.

    Posted by Anonymous#2 | January 29, 2011, 1:58 pm
  165. A2,

    How did you come to that stupid conclusion? Have you read my posts over the last few years here and on Syria Comment?

    Why would I want the Asad regime in power? It is a vile mafioso regime.

    Posted by AIG | January 29, 2011, 2:04 pm
  166. AIG,
    I am not talking about you personally… I am talking about Israel and its services…We have tons of evidence about that close cooperation…why wasn’t Syria attacked in 2006…? just to name one example?
    You want Democracy in Syria? Fly the Assads to Israel where they belong… since they GAVE you the GOLAN….FREE of charge.

    Posted by Anonymous#2 | January 29, 2011, 2:13 pm
  167. A2,

    Syria was not attacked in 2006 because it did not attack Israel. But you forget that afterward Israel attacked the Syrian nuclear reactor. Israel does not support the Asads. On the other hand, Israeli politicians know that they cannot fight wars with no good reason without losing power. The Asads are quiet on the Golan because they know that if they do something, Israel will come down on them like a ton of bricks.

    Posted by AIG | January 29, 2011, 2:19 pm
  168. AIG,

    For the same reason that you want Democracy in Syria and dictatorship in Egypt,

    You like the position of Mubarak and i like the position of Assad toward the Palestinian problem and rights,

    Posted by Norman | January 29, 2011, 2:20 pm
  169. Norman,169
    A democratic Syria will not have different positions when it comes to the Palestinian problem and their rights.
    The Palestinian problem is in every Arab conscious,and the cold reaction by Egyptian people to the peace agreement with Israel is a good proof.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 29, 2011, 2:50 pm
  170. AIG @ 168
    That’s not good enough…but I am not surprised… because what I am telling you about the Assads is way above your pay grade…and you’re not in the know…
    Now, you have to worry about taking Mubarak into HAIFA or Eilat…and soon enough you might have to take the Assads as well.

    Posted by Anonymous#2 | January 29, 2011, 2:58 pm
  171. Hosni Mubarak just changed his Facebook’s relationship status with Egypt to … It’s complicated.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 29, 2011, 3:01 pm
  172. Honest Patriot,
    You seem to believe that israel will attack
    In self defense. This might be true in a sense
    That I can confiscate your house and spit on your family
    But will not be the first to draw blood!
    Anyway a nice start would be Moshe sharett’s biography
    One paragraph in particular describes a meeting in which
    Ben gurion describes a plan to find a Maronite officer (saad hadda?)
    to declare a Christian state and then Israel will move to annex the south
    Up to the litany. Water is a strategic resource, recall the Zionist negotiation
    Team at the Paris peace conference after WW1

    Posted by Erraticideas | January 29, 2011, 3:03 pm
  173. Washington’s tone toward developments in Egypt has made a full turn in less then two days. It went from “balanced approach to a clear criticism of Mubarak.
    Washington’s sudden change of heart went as far as threatening to cut financial aid to Mubarak’s regime if He does not implement reforms.
    Washington does not believe in Gibran’s definition of friendship in which he said: “FRIENDSHIP IS A SWEET RESPONSIBILITY,AND NEVER AN OPPORTUNITY.”
    It’s all about interests.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 29, 2011, 3:22 pm
  174. Erraticideas, γειά σου
    I’m not sure which post of mine you are responding to?? It seems completely out of context, unless you want to refresh my memory on which post you’re referring to.
    On the other hand, maybe it’s a case of mistaken identity? Maybe your post is for some one else?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 29, 2011, 3:24 pm
  175. History will tell that the Europeans introduced a nasty virus into the Middle East that corporate Americans of “more than one faith” sought to exploit throughout the last 70 years.

    It didn’t take that long, in earthly terms, for mother nature to react to it.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 29, 2011, 3:33 pm
  176. prophet #174
    That is pure sophistry. You cannot have it both ways. Just a brief answer will do , no need for rhetoric.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 29, 2011, 3:36 pm
  177. Ghassan,
    I have to admit that I looked “sophistry” up .
    Why do you think it’s any of these: misleading,fallacious,deceptive,plausible,cunning?
    Can’t a man get excited a bit?

    Posted by The Prophet | January 29, 2011, 3:44 pm
  178. HP,
    I was not referring to a particular post. It seemed
    to me and I could be wrong that you be believe the
    If we leave them alone they leave us alone story.
    Again I could be wrong, in which case forget it.

    Posted by Erraticideas | January 29, 2011, 3:44 pm
  179. Please replace “virus” with “weed”.

    More in tune with “earthly”.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 29, 2011, 3:51 pm
  180. Erraticideas, you know, I’m not a spring chick anymore so maybe, just maybe, I rambled somewhere and my ramblings could somehow have carried an unintended message. However, I don’t quite recognize that as an argument/position of mine, etc., so I’ll take your advice and fuhgeddaboutit 🙂

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 29, 2011, 3:56 pm
  181. Steven Colbert will probably satirize that Bin Ali and Mubarak weren’t much into tweeting 🙂

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 29, 2011, 4:01 pm
  182. RandomThoughtOfTheDay you remind me of “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy.”

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 29, 2011, 4:09 pm
  183. Norman,
    I agree that the Palestinian issue is further enshrined in the Arab mind and not subject to whether an Arab country is a democracy or not. Hence, Syria could be a democracy and the people could still fight for the Palestinians.

    The Syrian regime has been fighting for Arab rights in a more determined way than any other country in this region as far as I can tell, if by Arab rights one refers to the occupation of Arab land. Syria tried its best to ensure that first Egypt and then Jordan would remain in the fight against Israel, knowing full well that Israel by prying these countries away from the resistance orbit would make easier Israel’s plans for the West Bank and Jerusalem. This is of course the policy Israel has pursued, a divide and conquer kind of thing. Take Egypt out of the picture and ensure Arab weakness in any ensuing war.

    The reason that the Golan is quiet is that the Syrians where trying to have it both ways, ensuring the survival of the regime (by not allowing organized resistance from the Golan which would of course invite Israeli reprisals more serious than any) but still propping up its allies, mostly in Lebanon, in their fight against Israeli dominion.

    Posted by Pas Cool | January 29, 2011, 4:15 pm
  184. Pas Cool,

    You contradict yourself. The Syrian believe the Golan is Syrian land, yet they do not fight for it. So how could they be more determined than anybody else to free Arab land? They are not even fighting for their own land. Not one bullet fired in anger since 1973. 38 years of peace and quiet on the Golan. Do you really believe they are fighting for it?

    The Asads are very good at talking and destabilizing others. As for fighting for Arab and Syrian land, not so much.

    Posted by AIG | January 29, 2011, 4:28 pm
  185. The Syrian regime has been fighting for Arab rights in a more determined way than any other country in this region as far as I can tell, if by Arab rights one refers to the occupation of Arab land.

    Pas Cool,

    Of course democracy and being pro-Palestinian have nothing to do with one another.

    But your definition of “Arab Rights” (“occupation of Arab Land”), is just flawed.

    The Arabs and Egyptians are not trying to throw out their leaders because of “occupation of Arab Land”, they’re doing it because they’re tired of:

    – lack of freedom

    – lack of opportunity

    – government ineptitude

    – government corruption

    – government stagnation

    Near as I can tell, the villian in this case isn’t Israel, it’s President-for-Life, Hosni Mubarak.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 29, 2011, 4:30 pm
  186. HP

    Blame the MBA establishment for finding “clever” solutions to corporate “business” problems around the world.


    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | January 29, 2011, 4:31 pm
  187. AIG,

    You did not read that I wrote that they opted keeping their border quiet for the sake of the survival of the regime? Syria is and always has been weaker than Israel. Why try something as foolish as engaging Israel in an all out war? They tried back in 73 but since then Israel with the help of the US coerced Egypt in concluding a separate peace treaty. Syria kept on fighting, but not from their home turf. Lebanon was and is the turf, to the detriment of the Lebanese. I still believe that Syria wants the Golan back, just not that they can get it back in a fight with Israel, and nor does it seem through negotiations either. Israel said they wanted peace for land. It does not hold particularly true in the Syrian case.

    Akbar Palace,

    I was weighing on the ongoing exchange between Norman and AIG. Arab Rights in their discussion seemed more to point to rights of the Palestinians, of redeeming Arab pride after the occupation of Arab land.

    What you point out are human rights. Yes, they lack very much in Arab countries. I was also weighing in on the fact that Assad in a particular way does not have to fear as much as Mubarak has, and that is the fact that Mubarak upholds the peace with what most Arabs consider an enemy, the Israeli state. This of course only adds to the popular outrage directed to him.

    In order to predict a revolution one must take into account so many different fields of study such as, but not limited to, foreign policy, demography, social issues, religion, literacy rates etc. I am merely agreeing that Assad, as opposed to Mubarak, is liked for his stance on issues that for many Arabs, both in Syria and elsewhere, is of uttermost importance: the ongoing occupation by Israel of Arab land. This will weigh to his advantage when assessing whether or not Syria will be affected by the scent of jasmine.

    Perhaps Mubarak cares about this as much as the next Arab. If so, his propaganda machine has failed rather miserably in conveying this message and makes the M14 propaganda machine look like a team of German scientists in late 19th century.

    Posted by Pas Cool | January 29, 2011, 4:58 pm
  188. I am merely agreeing that Assad, as opposed to Mubarak, is liked for his stance on issues that for many Arabs, both in Syria and elsewhere, is of uttermost importance: the ongoing occupation by Israel of Arab land.

    Pas Cool,

    Seriously, how do you know how well-liked Assad is? Perhaps Assad is “liked” because people don’t want to die like their countrymen once did in Hama. Safe to be quiet.

    Of course, we’ll never know how much Assad is liked because there are no elections, no polls, no independent media, and there’s no freedom of speech.

    But I’m glad you like him. How do you like living in Syria BTW? Is it comfortable? Got a good job there?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 29, 2011, 5:33 pm
  189. ……..A Twentyfirst Century Arab Awakening?

    The following is an interesting read from the YaleGlobal:

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 29, 2011, 6:06 pm
  190. The charade in Egypt cannot go on forever neither in Syria. The following is a true event:

    A twenty something college graduate goes every day to Syrian Ministry in Damascuss for a couple of hours. When asked by one of her relatives about the reason for that daily trek she said that she is employed by that Ministry. Her visiting relative then asks what she does and she attempts to avoid the question but when pressed she admits that she goes and sits in an office for a while and then leaves. Her job title was in a field that has nothing to do with her educational qualifications. That is what employment has come to in Stria. You pretend to work and the state pretends to pay you.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 29, 2011, 6:13 pm
  191. Bashar regime is very scared from Egypt.

    منعت السلطات السورية مساء اليوم اعتصاماً سلمياً دعت اليه مجموعة من الشباب السوريين “تضامناً مع أرواح ضحايا الشعب المصري”، وفق مراسلة وكالة “فرانس برس”. وقد قامت قوات الأمن السورية بمنع نحو ستين شخصاً من الإعتصام أمام مبنى السفارة المصرية في حي كفرسوسة وسط دمشق.

    وكانت مجموعة من الشباب قد توافدت نحو السادسة مساء (16:00 ت غ) الى الرصيف المقابل للمبنى للبدء بالإعتصام إلا ان قوات الأمن طلبت منهم مغادرة المكان، وقال أحد المعتصمين للوكالة نفسها إن “غرضنا إنساني بحت، لقد رغبنا في التعبير السلمي عن تضامننا مع الأشقاء في مصر”.

    Posted by anonymous | January 29, 2011, 6:20 pm
  192. This is the face of Syrian democracy advocate who visited Israel when Syria was being sanctioned by the West and the Arab brothers and called for not returning the Golan to Syria, Democracy will come to Syria but Syria has to be protected from foreign interference and money to represent the people.

    Posted by Norman | January 29, 2011, 6:35 pm
  193. Egypt’s uprising however may not end without more blood being spilled,

    مصادر أمنية : مقتل اللواء محمد البطران رئيس مباحث سجن الفيوم المركزي وفرار مئات السجناء

    For the first time Munarak appoints a deputy President, Omar Suleiman. So from now on we have to refer to the President of Lebanon with his full name of Michel Suleiman.

    Also Egyptian most celebrated scientist, noble prize winner Ahmed Zoweil called for a transition council to run Egypt. This is probably a recognition that the uprising lacks a leadership that can take charge just in case. Otherwise the army will evetually take over.

    “I have called publivly on Mr. Hariri to resign three times in the past year because of his inability to lead.”

    GK 155,

    Your statement is inaccurate. You have not been in a similar position to judge since you did not have to deal with your father’s killer sitting across from you in a cabinet or in various capitals (Damas/Tehran for example). Considering the circumstances he performed exceptionally well – enough he did not compromise over the STL. Again, you cannot look at what happened in the last two weeks except as a full fledged coup. The video linked in 151 clearly proves it. This is dangerous to Lebanon and bodes ill for the future. Also GMA is never surprising. He is extremely well predictable. He is the demagogue par excellence, a ‘prized-attribute’ that seems to be a mandatory prerequisite to engage in politics in today’s Lebanon. So do not raise your hopes much.

    Posted by anonymous | January 29, 2011, 6:46 pm
  194. Norman 193,

    Despite all the negatives about Ghadry, yet I have to admit that the return of the Golan should wait until Syria becomes democratic and Bashar and regime are sacked to some dustbin of history.

    You may also want to read my comment #127 in order for you to understand how important the issue of freeing Syria is.

    Posted by anonymous | January 29, 2011, 7:05 pm
  195. anonymous #194,
    We are on the same page as far as the Lebanese issue is concerned except for some small pesky details. I understand the difficult personal position of Sa’ad Hariri but I have been arguing for five years that March 14 should stress governance and ideas instead of concentrating only on personality cults. I do not approve of all the efforts to sanctify the Rafic Hariri and have him attend all gatherings etc… if for nothing else but for the fact that these efforts are ultimately a distraction.We can and we must pursue the judicial procedure to examine culpabilityin the assassination but yet there is a country to govern. I am sure that you will agree with me that personality worship and the passing of political leadership batons to next of kin is not democratic. March 14 should have transformed the Al Mustaqbal into a truly integrated national political party that has a set of beliefs and whose leadership is open to all with a 2-3 year term limit . But I digress. My only point is that Sa’ad is probably not cut for this kind of a job and that is fine.I have never suggested that , in this case, either Mikati or Safadi are such political heavy weights but they sure are not radical or revolutionaries. I still mainatin that his mannerisms/style/governance/record is the major reason in the switch of Mikati/ Safadi/ Fattouch? Nimeh amongst others. This doe snot mean that HA did not intend to have a coup but it means that Mr. Hariri helped dig the hole in which he finds himself currently. i still think that he can play a very constructive role in March 14 as a consultant but the reins must be passed along to someone else and hopefully not a Harriri. March 14 has to fight political feudalism and not perpetuate it.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 29, 2011, 7:17 pm
  196. Ghassan #196,

    Again, the issue of the STL is not simply a personal issue. You and I have been arguing all along that it represents the difference between a Lebanon ruled by Law or a Lebanon ruled by criminls who can get away with their crimes with impunity.

    Secondly your continuous reference to Tomeh is irrelevant. I answered you about that previously. His trip to SA should not be viewed as more than a scouting event to determine how voting against Hariri would affect his business dealings in SA – no more and no less. He probably was told exactly as al-Faysal declared in Egypt, i.e. SA has took its hands out of Lebanese politics.

    As for Safadi and Mikati, you may have a point. But Hariri had not much to say on that. Safadi and Mikati’s inclusion in March 14 ticket in the elctions was orchestrated by the Saudis and Hariri had to go along. The Saudi objective was to create some form of entente among all prominent Sunni figures in Lebanon – typical desert custom of consensus seeking politics. If you recall before the elcetions, Hariri made visits to most previous Prime Ministers (including Omar Karami) and that was done on the behest of the Saudis.

    Hariri should have onjected to the Saudi plan and he was forewarned by Misbah al-Ahdab and Mustapha Alloush who both became ex-MP’s after theelections. Perhaps Hariri should have fought the political battle in Tripoli and lobbied with the Saudis vigourously against that plan. But who knows what really happens when it comes to dealing with royals sitting in Riyad.

    As for not passing the mantle of leadership from father to son, you are probably asking too much. This is after all Lebanon. Name me one politician in Lebanon who does not owe his career to a family legacy. Also, is there any other figure in Lebanon who had the more impact on the country after the civil war than Hariri senior? You’re simply asking too much and unreastically.

    By the way, the Mustaqbal movement has been transformed into a political party right after the elections.

    Posted by anonymous | January 29, 2011, 8:25 pm
  197. Annon said,

    (( Appeasement produces the exact opposite of your objectives when you’re dealing with such regimes as the Assad’s))

    I agree , It did not work with Israel , Abbas gave Israel everything (( Appeasement))and got nothing,

    Hamas and Hezbollah gave Israel grieve and got their land back ,

    Syria probably will not get the Golan until she starts fighting for it.

    That is if Israel does not start thinking of the future and sees that the future of Israel to solve it’s conflicts with it’s naibours.

    Posted by Norman | January 29, 2011, 8:56 pm
  198. Akbar Palace, #189

    I did not insinuate knowing how much Assad is liked, I merely said that what regards his stance on Arab rights he is a more popular Arab leader than Mubarak. Those that acquiesce to Israel will not be popular in the Arab world.

    Posted by Pas Cool | January 30, 2011, 2:46 am

    The Hariri Legacy, ” poverty, debt, confiscation of property from rightful owners, corruption, egotistic narcissism, gross mis-management, delusion of grandeurs, anarchy, autocratic tendencies, obfuscation of power and the truth, demagoguery, and a rush to buy the land of poor peasants and other land owners for peanuts, to bring in hoards of Gulf arrogant buffoons, to tighten the grip of his coreligionists’ “.


    Although Western journalism has long had a spotty track record in Lebanon, no subject has been more misrepresented than the legacy of the late Prime Minister (1992-1998 and 2000-2004) Rafiq Hariri.

    Many elements of the myth are true, of course. He was a man of humble origins who struck it rich and lavished money on charitable causes for two decades before becoming prime minister. A great many Lebanese – including some of his fiercest political opponents – genuinely liked him as a person and grieved when he was brutally assassinated in February 2005. Nevertheless, the reality was “more complicated than the fairy tale,” as Anna Ciezadlo aptly observed, and “not as easy to report.” [1]

    During the 1990-2005 Syrian occupation of Lebanon, mainstream American and European media regurgitated a quasi-fictitious narrative of Lebanon’s postwar economic and political revival marketed by Hariri. They showed little interest in the darker sides of Beirut’s glittering reconstruction, such as steadily widening income inequalities, rampant corruption, and the devastating impact of unregulated Syrian labor exports (which benefited Hariri and other Lebanese construction tycoons) on the poor. The steady erosion of civil liberties during Hariri’s first tenure (a necessary adjunct of his economic policies) was largely downplayed.

    Sugar coated press coverage was driven less by inscrutable complexities of the subject matter or conscious intent to distort facts than by a profound reluctance to acknowledge problems that have no easy solution and heartfelt support for a political establishment that many Westerners saw as the only viable bulwark against extremism and internal disintegration. While Western media coverage of Hariri during his lifetime was slanted mostly by omission, it veered toward blatant misrepresentation after his February 2005 assassination and the subsequent withdrawal of Syrian forces. As the March 14 coalition, headed by the Hariri family and Druze leader Walid CIA Jumblatt, narrowly won a parliamentary majority and assumed the reins of power, an even more grandiose Hariri myth was born and reproduced verbatim in the Western media.

    Hariri, who never once publicly criticized the Syrian occupation, was recast by The New York Times as a towering nationalist “known as a fierce opponent of Syrian domination.”[2] Variations of this claim have been ubiquitous in Western media reports on Lebanon. The Los Angeles Times and the BBC prefer the phrase “vocal opponent,”[3] while Agence France Press is partial to “outspoken opponent.”[4]

    While Hariri is known to have secretly encouraged outside pressure on Syrian leader Bashar Assad not to extend the presidential term of Emile Lahoud (his political archrival) in 2004, his aim was simply to win a greater share of the spoils within Syria’s orbit. Even after the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1559 calling for an unconditional Syrian withdrawal and began deliberating over how to implement it, the prime minister spent weeks trying to convince Assad to grant him a two-thirds veto-proof cabinet majority before eventually resigning. Being killed by the Syrians (by Assef Shawkat’s goons of SMI) does not retroactively make Hariri a “fierce opponent” of Syrian domination, even if his death inspired many others to demand an end to the occupation…. In some western circles and in France, it was said of Rafiq Hariri, that he Sold His Soul to Syria completely for decades, and he taught them to be corrupt to the core…. Lebanese were used to bribing Syrians with “peanuts” before the advent of Hariri’s insatiable sharks onto the scene…. Most of the so-called March 14th stooges were never allowed to set foot in Hariri’s home or office for years, some of them desperately tried to get an appointment with him… which was never granted for years…. like Amine Gemayel and a few others…..
    عميلا لسي أي أيه وهذا كان معروفا في بيروت وكان من مهمامه البحث عن الرهائن لاطلاقهم بقواه الذاتية وقد إعترف أكثر من كتاب مذكر ات في اميركا بدور رجال جنبلاط في بيروت ومنهم الكاوبوي في التعاون مع المخابرات الاميركية والاسرائيلية وممن كتب عنهم بوب ادوارد الذي ذكر الكاوبوي بالاسم على أنه من رجال مشغل أمني خطير وصل إلى بيروت سرا لمواكبة عملية مفترضة لاطلاق سراح .الرهائن وكان إسم الضابط المخابراتي الاميركي العملاني المرتبط بالاشتراكيين عامة وبالكاوبوي خاصة هو اليوت أبرامز

    Other aspects of the late Hariri’s legacy are routinely misrepresented in the Western media. Hariri did not, as The New York Times reported, “broker an end to the civil war in 1991.”[5] He played a role in persuading (and, it is widely rumored, bribing) parliamentary deputies to sign the 1989 Taif Accord, but the terms of this accord were handed down by the Saudis, with non-negotiable clauses legitimating the Syrian military presence. In any case, the agreement did not bring an end to the war (none of the combatants were even present at the negotiations) – it brought a beginning to internationally sanctioned Syrian hegemony in Lebanon.

    The Economist recently reported that “a lack of foreign aid and high reconstruction costs” after the war account for Lebanon’s crushing debt burden today.[6] In fact, Lebanon was one of the world’s largest per capita recipients of foreign aid during the occupation. The problem was that billions of dollars in bilateral and multilateral grants and soft loans were grossly misspent. A 2001 UN-commissioned assessment report on corruption in Lebanon estimated that the country had been losing $1.5 billion in graft annually (almost 10% of its GDP).[7] This was why Lebanon was saddled with “high reconstruction costs” and why it now has a massive debt burden.

    Whether Hariri “drove the country forward often by sheer force of his personality,” as The New York Times recently reported,[8] is perhaps debatable (since the Syrians were appointing Lebanese prime ministers, the alternatives could have been worse). However, modest economic growth at the expense of generating one of the largest per capita foreign debts of any country in the world doesn’t normally win plaudits from Western journalists. These results might well have been the best possible in a country under Syrian occupation, but if so that only highlights that the occupation might well have collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions had Hariri and his Saudi financial backers not stepped in.

    The rehabilitation of Hariri’s legacy has greatly benefited his political heirs and allies in the March 14 coalition (where is name is invoked more often than American Republican politicians talk of Ronald Reagan) have inherited much of the media’s fawning coverage. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, a close associate of Hariri, who was transplanted into the Hariri Dynasty by American Intelligence, and CIA in particular since Fouad Sannioura was an agent of CIA/MOSSAD for well over 30 years, just like Al-Maliki in Iraq, Salam Fayyad and Mahmoud Abbas in Palestine…, and who ran the finance ministry of occupied Lebanon longer than all others combined, was described by The Financial Times as “a career banker intentionally thrust . . . into the top job by CIA to destroy Lebanon’s fabric to the core…” after Hariri’s assassination.[9] In fact, this government stalwart was chosen after careful deliberations within the Hariri family and the March 14 coalition of US/Israeli stooges, puppets and lackeys….

    The Western media’s misrepresentations and glorification of Hariri’s legacy constitute one of the most startling anachronisms in journalism today. Elsewhere in the Middle East (and the world), Western journalists intensively scrutinize governments, empowering their disaffected constituents and enhancing the international community’s understanding of impediments to democratic change. Lebanon remains very much an exception.

    Posted by Jim | January 30, 2011, 5:09 am

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