Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Syria

Nakba Day Controversies

A debate has emerged in the wake of Sunday’s tragic border killings, turning on the question of whether  the commemoration of Nakba Day (which led to a fence breach in the Golan Heights [check the video out here] and at least ten people killed in Southern Lebanon) was orchestrated by the Assad regime and its allies in order to draw attention away from the protests in Syria.

That was more or less the gist of the Western press’s coverage of the event, as summed up by Radwan Ziadeh in this NYT piece by Anthony Shadid, but many Israeli commentators are wondering whether this isn’t actually a sign that the fervor of the Arab Spring has reached Palestine.

I’d recommend reading the following bits of commentary:

  • Andrew Exum weighs in here, here, and here.
  • Sean, at The Human Province, was actually in South Lebanon on Sunday and witnessed the demonstration firsthand. He takes Andrew to task in a well-reasoned essay here.
  • Not on the subject of Nakba Day, Sami Moubayed argues that Syria should ratchet up its diplomatic efforts to re-ingratiate itself with Turkey and France by playing nice in Lebanon and fast-tracking reforms. (Too little, too late?)

I have to admit that my first reaction to the events was, like Exum’s, a cynical one. However, based on what Sean and others have said about their experiences on Sunday, it does look like the high turnout was much more the product of a genuine swelling of popular sentiment and political participation in the wake of the various regional revolts, rather than a carefully hatched plan by Damascus, Hizbullah, and Hamas.

On the other hand, who couldn’t help but notice the sad juxtaposition of the two marches scheduled for last Sunday in Beirut? A few hundred people marched in support of secularism and brandished some cute slogans, while thousands made the trek down to the border with Israel and braved bullets to commemorate a decades-old struggle.

A friend of mine regularly chides me for imagining that any of Lebanon’s problems will ever be solved before the Arab-Israeli conflict is settled. On days like yesterday, I think he’s probably right.

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Discussion

203 thoughts on “Nakba Day Controversies

  1. The border murders prove what hypocrites and liars are those who criticized the heroes and Hezbollah and claimed that they were sacrificing Lebanese for the benefit of The Resistance. Not one Lebanese was martyred for Naqba!! Only the righteous Palestinians sacrificed themselves and The Resistance only facilitated and coordinated the martyrdom but did nothing to provoke the murderous zionists.

    Posted by dontgetit | May 16, 2011, 9:56 pm
  2. Knowing that no one can sneeze in Maroun Al Ras without the authorization of the “divine” party, it is one of the last moves of the Syrian regime to be able to have control again.

    That regime will do anything to stay in power including a regional war.

    Posted by LebanesePatriot | May 16, 2011, 9:58 pm
  3. I disagree with both Andrew and Sean.

    The occasion was organized by the Palestinians themselves.

    The Syrians manipulated the event on their side in order to send the threatening message to the Israelis and to the Americans that the 40-year old quite border may turn not quite as a result of regime internal troubles. This point needs no proof as no one can cross the Golan border without approval. Also there were no Syrians in the Golan demonstration. They were all Palestinians.

    The hizzies supported the occasion as usual.

    The Israelis fired on purpose with intent to kill as many as they can. The purpose is to make it clear to Pals and others that there is no such thing as right of return from Israeli point of view.

    Posted by iceman | May 16, 2011, 10:25 pm
  4. “He’s a Good President” NewZ

    …it does look like the high turnout was much more the product of a genuine swelling of popular sentiment and political participation in the wake of the various regional revolts…

    QN,

    Who cares?

    Be careful when trying to climb a barbed-wire fence…

    When asked what he thought of President Assad, who has ordered a violent crackdown against anti-regime protesters, Hijazi said solemnly, “He is a good president.”

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4069686,00.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 16, 2011, 10:33 pm
  5. However the Nakba day diversion is not helping the regime much in Syria. Demonstrations in Syria are now ongoing and no longer limited to Fridays,

    https://www.facebook.com/ShaamNews

    Bashar and his thugs would now wish that everyday was a Nakba day.

    Posted by iceman | May 16, 2011, 10:51 pm
  6. QN,

    “A friend of mine regularly chides me for imagining that any of Lebanon’s problems will ever be solved before the Arab-Israeli conflict is settled”

    In fact, you should probably note that none of Lebanon’s problems will likely be solved before every last one of our neighbours, immediate and otherwise (read Saudi Arabia and Iran) become secular democracies. Any other situation involves some conflict amongst some of these neighbours and by extension their proxies in Lebanon. The proxies get funded, the people get duped and the cycle repeats. Has been happening since time immemorial and will continue to happen unless something historic happens, but I wouldn’t gamble on that.

    Posted by R | May 16, 2011, 11:18 pm
  7. The mistake of many of the cynical commentators regarding the way the Nakba March To Palestine unfolded is one of laziness and being armchair analysts. Had any of them done a modicum of research then it would have become absolutely clear that the idea of commemorating the Nakba by a simultaneous march to Palestine fro Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank is a purely Palestinian idea that had been in the makings for many weeks if not months.
    The above is enough to lay to rest the implication that Syria and Hezbollah arranged these events as a diversionary tactic. But it does not mean that Syria should not take advantage of a “golden” opportunity once that opportunity availed itself. The anti-nuclear groups would have been foolish not to use the Japanese nuclear accident as a means of reviving their campaign but no one that I know of has accused them of manipulating the forces of nature to create the earthquake and tsunami that created that disaster. I am also sure that most politicians in France will use the DSK affair in NYC against him if he ever decides to run in the presidential elections.
    Syrian authorities and their Lebanese counter part bear responsibility for not taking enough precautions to control the crowds and prevent them from crashing through the border of a neighbour with whom they are at war. It can be deduced that both Syrian authorities and Hezbollah were complicit in the murder of the 13 Palestinians and the wounding of many others for their failure to take crowd control measures. One can even claim that the tragic outcome served both Syria and Hezbollah well.
    It should also be added that Israel has also to shoulder blame for not taking more precautionary measures ahead of time. As usual the border is being reconfigured by the Israelis but that would not help any of those that have been murdered in cold blood. The responsibility for this fiasco is to be sgared by all the official governments involved and very little blame if any is to be shouldered by the organizers whose idea proved to be a powerful way to keep “Awda” alive among many of the stakeholders.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 16, 2011, 11:57 pm
  8. I wonder if they know London decided they should suffer until they begged for peace?

    The U.S. concurred, as did the rest of the world. That’s why it looks like
    Israel is firing the shots at unarmed civilians, because until they return to peace and
    recognize Palestine (relinquishing some of the gains of the Hebrew’s ancient
    genocide) their lives will be nothing but shit and fear.

    The Palestinians could all leave and the U.K. would send in folks to take
    their place. It’s a Chinese finger trap. Stupid Israel. Eh!

    Posted by HK | May 17, 2011, 12:21 am
  9. Ghassan Karam #7

    I usually enjoy and benefit from your posts.
    However, I have to disagree with you this once, at least with what happened in Syria and Lebanon borders.
    The infilitrators were bused in a convoy organised by the syrian intelligence,promised a free ride to the border and sent to their death.
    they could not have pulled it off without their syrian and lebanense enablers.
    All, in the hope to distract people from Assad’s crimes.
    Once again, the Palestinians were nothing but a pawn in a game.

    Posted by idit | May 17, 2011, 4:53 am
  10. QN,

    “Israeli commentators are wondering whether this isn’t actually a sign that the fervor of the Arab Spring has reached Palestine.”

    What are they (you) talking about?

    Palestinians have been revolting against the Israeli state for 60 years!

    The intensity of the “fervor” of Palestinians in Libya and Syria has been controlled by Syria for the last 20 years … with Assad’s foot on the gas and break pedals, as suits his and his regime’s needs.

    Posted by R2D2 | May 17, 2011, 5:48 am
  11. sorry … Freudian slip …

    Lebanon not Libya’s needs.

    Posted by R2D2 | May 17, 2011, 5:48 am
  12. Damn !

    The intensity of the “fervor” of Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria has been controlled by Syria for the last 20 years … with Assad’s foot on the gas and break pedals, as suits his and his regime’s needs.

    Posted by R2D2 | May 17, 2011, 5:52 am
  13. Our QN interviewee of 2 posts ago, Camille Otrakji, was quoted in a USA-Today article yesterday:
    no one mentioned it (I’m surprised) kudos on being quoted in USA-Today yesterday May 16:
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2011-05-15-syria-libya-obama-NATO-sanctions-Gadhafi-Assad_n.htm
    Search for his name in the article (I saw it in print yesterday)

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 17, 2011, 6:28 am
  14. iceman,
    “The Israelis fired on purpose with intent to kill as many as they can.”
    In order to qualify this statement, are you aware of what certain types of military hardware, in Israeli possesion, can do to a crowd of people?
    Hint look up:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M61_Vulcan
    or
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flechette

    Posted by Kubbeh | May 17, 2011, 6:52 am
  15. Assuming that this was a coordinated affair organized by the Palestinians…

    Here are some questions. Besides the Facebook that Ghassan was alluding to:

    1. How were the organizers on the ground?
    2. How provided transport to the border
    3. HA controls even the mosquito population on the border…How did the ‘masses” have clear sailing to the fence?
    4. How did they know the place to go was Maroun el Ras?
    5. Since no one is allowed to congregate in Syria…How did they manage to do so on the Golan in hundreds (thousands?) Again who transported them there
    6. Where was Unifil & LAF & the Black shirts?

    All in all it could have been a noble march that was usurped by Syrian mukhabarat & HA militia to supposedly murky the waters…

    Personally it does not add to anything. The days of scare tactics must have evaporated long ago. My question have all Lebanese turned so crass & numb that people being killed for no apparent reason raises no sense of indignation (besides the usual barking on the airwaves)?

    I hold all sides INCLUDING the Palestinian “organizers” responsible for the deaths. They should have known not be pawns in others’ silly calculations.

    Posted by danny | May 17, 2011, 7:05 am
  16. ooops. damned spell check…it’s supposed to read:

    1. WHO
    2. WHO

    Posted by danny | May 17, 2011, 7:06 am
  17. Once again, the Palestinians were nothing but a pawn in a game.

    Idit,

    And were these Palis from Syria “forced” to go on the buses and rush the fence?

    I doubt it. Syria may have provided the buses, but the people who charged the fence were not forced to do so.

    In any case, there’s nothing more fun than trying to free Palestine.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 17, 2011, 7:09 am
  18. AP,

    They certainly weren’t forced to. They were “allowed” to.

    If the Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria were given free reign, they’d be demonstrating and throwing stones over the fence every day.

    Posted by R2D2 | May 17, 2011, 7:15 am
  19. R2D2,
    “They certainly weren’t forced to. They were “allowed” to.

    If the Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria were given free reign, they’d be demonstrating and throwing stones over the fence every day.”

    and probably within the fence as well

    Posted by Kubbeh | May 17, 2011, 7:41 am
  20. AP,

    Dude, if the Syrian mukhabarat & HA had stood their ground and instructed them to throw rose pedals and croon the IDF soldiers with Bing Crosby songs…It would have happened! So please spare me. BTW please let me know if you can: How many instances are documented of crowds breaching the border fence in Golan since 1974?

    Posted by danny | May 17, 2011, 7:41 am
  21. The parallel emerging in historical Palestine, is a possible version of the well known, diabolical pair (duo infernal) Gog and Magog…

    Comme le dit si bien la sagesse populaire: les rats quittent le navire, et les loups se
    dévorent entre eux. Cela me semble de fort bonne augure…

    Posted by HK | May 17, 2011, 8:57 am
  22. Posted by HK | May 17, 2011, 9:40 am
  23. QN,

    It is sad that even you sometimes believe the fallacy that Israelis hold Arab destiny in their hands. Lebanon’s problems can be solved irregardless of whether there is peace with Israel. Not many people came to the march for a secular Lebanon not because they were busy on the Lebanese-Israeli border. The two are completely unrelated.

    Also, why would you give Israel such a dominant position? Does Israel really hold the fate of Lebanon in its hands and by not agreeing to peace condemn Lebanon to failure? Of course not.

    Posted by AIG | May 17, 2011, 9:51 am
  24. AIG

    I think my point was unclear. I’m saying that the Arab-Israeli issue continues to dominate the political landscape in a place like Lebanon, even among those young politically engaged types who would otherwise be involved in civil society, demanding better performance and more transparency from their governments, better jobs, higher standards of living, etc.

    I do not believe that Israel itself holds the fate of Lebanon its hands; I believe precisely that the Lebanese do. But as Sunday’s events demonstrated, the Arab-Israeli conflict continues to be a major driver of politics in Lebanon, whether we are talking about the rise of Hizbullah, or the state of the Lebanese left, or two demonstrations organized on an otherwise peaceful Sunday afternoon.

    For those of us who want to see domestic political reform take over from regional politics as the primary concern of the Lebanese government, these kinds of events are a stark reminder of the fact that we are very far away from our goal.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 17, 2011, 9:59 am
  25. QN,

    When you talk to these “young politically engaged types who would otherwise be involved in civil society” about why they are not more focused on internal Lebanese issues, what do they say?

    Posted by AIG | May 17, 2011, 10:14 am
  26. Thanks my friend HP.

    Elias,

    This man says it was all organized on Facebook and that the Syrians at first did not allow them to proceed but Hezbollah pressured them.

    June 5th might be a much bigger demonstration … especially if Palestinians in Jordan took part.

    Posted by Alex | May 17, 2011, 10:32 am
  27. A new twist eh alex? HA pressuring the Syrians…What da??

    Posted by danny | May 17, 2011, 10:42 am
  28. SHN & Hezbollah hold all the cards, from Lebanon to Syria to Tehran, and on to DC & Tel-Aviv. Live with it or Die procrastinating.
    No one can pressure them in anyway, shape or form.

    Posted by HK | May 17, 2011, 10:58 am
  29. A timely book that I recommend to followers on this blog is Guns, Germs and Steel (The fates of human societies) by Jared Diamond.

    Posted by R2D2 | May 17, 2011, 11:08 am
  30. Alex,

    How do you see Assad rehabilitating his international image if he is able to control the protests? What actions will he take?

    Posted by AIG | May 17, 2011, 11:08 am
  31. AIG

    I think many of them recognize, by and large, that the internal issues are far more pressing. But Palestine remains an urgent cause (even if it is also a divisive one).

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 17, 2011, 11:20 am
  32. R2D2,
    It all depends on what you mean by timely:-)
    T”Collapse” the other major work by Diamond is equally good , if not better. But in all fairness the ideas expressed in both books are borrowed/stolen from Joseph Tainter without any acknowledgment. Tainters’ book “Collapse of Complex Society” is still the book to read in this area.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 17, 2011, 11:27 am
  33. GK,

    Should I bother reading Tainter’s book … or has it pretty much been covered, equally well in G,G&S?

    Does Diamond’s second book offer any relevancy on the region? I.e., should I read it?

    I just finished reading G,G,&S.

    Posted by R2D2 | May 17, 2011, 11:56 am
  34. Arab spring RIP. As well as Summer and Winter. All what remains is Arab FALL.
    Isn’t it time to acknowledge that the notion of Arab League or whatever you want to call it is not working?
    Change for the better needs leaders, effort in the right direction and time. There is no leadership nor right vision among the current rulers or the so called rebells. Hopeless…
    I blame it all on two people: Jamal Abdul Naser, for raising the expectations of the people about the notion of Arab nationalism; and Umm Kalthoum for sedating people (think of “ya habibi kulu Shaien bikadaa…”
    Hopeless… Pack and go!

    Posted by IHTDA | May 17, 2011, 12:11 pm
  35. If you interst is purely regional then you do not need to read Tainter or Collapse by Diamond but there basic thesis ishas global significance. Tainter is a strong believer that we are on a course to a severe collapse . It can be argued that our only chance to avoid collapse is simplicity. But this is the rub. No society has ever been able to move from complexity back to simplicity. These are not warnings about what might happen in the very long run. Ecological degradation, resource scarcities ,increasing number of people, peak oil and climate change will combine to land some fatal combinations on civilization sometime this century.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 17, 2011, 12:12 pm
  36. QN,

    Its a pity that the Palestinians are mostly Sunni instead of 1/3 Christian, 1/3 Shia and 1/3 Sunni 🙂

    There would be no Palestinian problem in Lebanon then…

    Just to show you that if you solve the issue of sectarianism in Lebanon you solve also the Palestinian issue, but not vice versa.

    Posted by AIG | May 17, 2011, 12:16 pm
  37. This article will be of interest some …

    http://nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=271942

    Posted by R2D2 | May 17, 2011, 12:16 pm
  38. GK,

    Then I must read it. Which one covers what you covered in your #35?

    We could all chip in to give Jared Diamond a grant to resolve the Hummus debate, once and for all 🙂

    Posted by R2D2 | May 17, 2011, 12:22 pm
  39. … to “scientifically” resolve 🙂

    Posted by R2D2 | May 17, 2011, 12:25 pm
  40. R2D2,
    For a good discussion of how collapse occurs and how complexity always brings it about Tainter will be my choice. Remember though, that the book was written in 1988 . He has since then written a couple of excellent papers about the problems associated with energy.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 17, 2011, 12:32 pm
  41. Thanks Obi-Wan.

    Posted by R2D2 | May 17, 2011, 12:36 pm
  42. R2D2,
    May The Force be with you.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 17, 2011, 12:48 pm
  43. ” These are not warnings about what might happen in the very long run. Ecological degradation, resource scarcities ,increasing number of people, peak oil and climate change will combine to land some fatal combinations on civilization sometime this century. ”

    GK, add to that utter corruption, greed, mismanagement, bad politics, an utterly confused US foreign policy, militarism, wars, extra-judicial assassinations on a global scale, unsustainable debt loads…,
    utter lack of Leadership, corrupt UN and other international institutions, festering regional conflicts for decades and the ever present Hubris in DC, London, Paris, Tel-Aviv and beyond, etc. 🙂

    Posted by HK | May 17, 2011, 1:24 pm
  44. Many More US/Israeli wars are on the drawing board already, paid for with IOUs to China, etc.
    Meantime the US is Broke.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24811

    http://www.paktribune.com/news/index.shtml?239334

    AFRICOM is currently housed in old US military barracks in Stuttgart, Germany which has been a long-term temporary arrangement while ISO a new host for its HQ in Africa. There have in the past been plans to move AFRICOM HQ to Addis Abeba and Ethiopia was at times favorable – sweet deals have been offered and Ethiopia was also heavily armed since 2000 by the US – heavily, heavily armed and received many military and financial favors by the US in the last decade.

    But for obvious reasons, it is controversial in Africa to host AFRICOM HQ and Ethiopia has been under criticism for it. I do not know what the current relocation plans are and if Addis Abeba is still the planned new HQ to which AFRICOM will move or not but it will be placed onto the African continent at some time in the future….Hubris never give-up!

    Addis Abeba as recently as last week was used as an AFRICOM staging theater for the Libyan ground war – NATO is fighting a ground war they forgot to tell us about in Libya), so it is obvious that the planned activities of AFRICOM/Ethiopia are being rolled out to some degree – the scope is unknown to me, it is something I have been trying to find more reliable info on.

    More about AFRICOM and what it is doing in Libya and other African countries here:

    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67844/jonathan-stevenson/africoms-libyan-expedition

    Posted by HK | May 17, 2011, 2:23 pm
  45. HK,

    Ever thought of making a living as a script writer in Hollywood?

    Posted by R2D2 | May 17, 2011, 2:30 pm
  46. Ghassan,

    I don’t normally disagree with you. But in this case, I have to “partially” disagree.

    I agree that the “crowd control” issues make the LAF, IDF, HA and Syrian military all partially responsible for the senseless murders of the demonstrators.

    However, as organic and “native” as the organization of these protests may be (via Facebook, etc) the fact on the ground remains that unless HA and Syria give the green light, this thing doesn’t happen. We all know that. Both the Southern border in Lebanon and the Golan are very tightly controlled by Syria and HA. We all know nothing happens there unless these guys give the green light. Not a single disturbance was registered in the Golan in the decades since 1973. Assad is busy encircling towns with tanks, and Syria is more than ever, tightly controlled by the military and movement of civilians is very limited…and all of a sudden a Facebook group of Palestinians manages to make it all the way to the Golan?

    You may be right that the idea of a Nakba protest was organic and native in nature. And there have been similar “events” in years past, on this date. But such events were never permitted to get out of hand before. This time they were…and even encouraged. To me, that speaks of manipulation.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 17, 2011, 2:31 pm
  47. Y’all should come to Afghanistan, after few weeks here you won’t be as pessimistic about the Arab world. having said that i second IHTDA opinion about Um Kolthoom being the main culprit.

    AIG,
    The Palestinian cause is attractive in Lebanon because it’s cool and romantic to grow a beard, smoke Gitane cigarettes and be nihilistic even if you are a AUB student and have an iPod… it’s a psychological phenomenon more than anything else. It also doesn’t require sincerity and hard work like solving the pressing internal issues.

    Posted by V | May 17, 2011, 2:38 pm
  48. However, as organic and “native” as the organization of these protests may be (via Facebook, etc) the fact on the ground remains that unless HA and Syria give the green light, this thing doesn’t happen. We all know that. Both the Southern border in Lebanon and the Golan are very tightly controlled by Syria and HA. We all know nothing happens there unless these guys give the green light.

    One may argue that the Syrian army was busy with other things on the domestic front. Apparently, they couldn’t quell the protests in all the different cities concurrently, they had to send in the army one city at a time!

    There is a broader issue here- whether or not these events were orchestrated or not. Post-Assad, the Palestinians will still be there. How will any future government in Syria deal with these types of protests?

    Posted by Gabriel | May 17, 2011, 2:38 pm
  49. QN,

    One more step to immortality… 😀
    The current thread has been linked by Angie Nassar in Now Lebanon article.

    Posted by danny | May 17, 2011, 2:43 pm
  50. HK,
    Great Satan will have AFRICOM hosted in Djibouti

    Posted by V | May 17, 2011, 2:46 pm
  51. I think with his Economics background, it will take Ghassan to solve our problems :D.

    GK:

    Do you think the Arab world is salvageable?

    http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-wdi&met=sp_pop_totl&idim=country:YEM&dl=en&hl=en&q=population#ctype=l&strail=false&nselm=h&met_y=sp_pop_totl&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=country&idim=country:YEM:EGY:SAU:SYR&hl=en&dl=en

    A little sample of population growth in Syria, Saudi, Egypt, Yemen. All have tripled or more within the last 50 years.

    Take Saudi out of the equation which is fueled by large reserves of oil. Realistically, is there anything any government can do in the region to reverse the trend of economic collapse?

    Posted by Gabriel | May 17, 2011, 2:48 pm
  52. I find it odd that the Lebanese must solve the sectarian problem in order to solve the Palestine problem.

    These two issues should be unrelated. Otherwise, the hizies would not have bussed all these Pals to the border in order to get killed or ‘martyred’ as dontgetit would say.

    Why should the Lebaenese feel hard pressed to become un-sectarian all of a sudden? We know it is not going to work.

    On the other hand, I find the notion that HA and Syria were just watching the Pals trecking down to the borders the most naive I ever read. How could one argue with self-evident truths?

    I alo feel pity for USA-Today. If only they knew?

    Posted by iceman | May 17, 2011, 2:50 pm
  53. BV #46,
    I do not see where you have disagreed with anything that I have said.
    The Syrians plus the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah have taken advantage of an event. The most that can be said about them is that they were expedient, as they should be. But that does not mean that they orchestrated the Nakba Marsh to Palestine whose biggest promoters in Syria were groups opposed to the Baath regime. Also note that the Nakba Marsh contingent in Egypt, Jordan and the west Bank were very well attende but were controlled. The Syrian Army, the Lebanese army and Hezbollahwere able to use this movement for their own selfish purposes. Use the Palestinians as cannon fodder as long as that allows Frangieh et al to use the incident to dehumanize the enemy and the Syrians to deflect attention. These tactics will not work. The Syrian populace is much smarter and more sophisticated than to fall for these meaningless machinations of the Syrian dictatorship while the Lebanese army has shown its incompetence again in controlling a few hundred people. Does that bring to mind the Eddeiseh fiasco or doesn’t it? What is the excuse of the Lebanese Army who had at least a 3 month notice that such a “celebration” is being planned? The Lebanese Army ,however, showed its bravado by capturing and returning the 3 Syrian soldiers who had sought refuge under international law in Lebanon. Shame on all the Lebanese political leaders who have failed to show any sense of decency or humanity towards the victims of oppression.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 17, 2011, 3:09 pm
  54. #54.

    Crystal clear!

    Posted by danny | May 17, 2011, 3:26 pm
  55. V,

    Great Satan should pack-up and go home ASAP.
    The Brits are leaving Afghanistan Pronto, no money left at MOD…
    Close to 18% real unemployment in the US, 40 Million Americans on food stamps, crumbling infrastructure everywhere you go, debt galore, outlays and entitlements in the trillions but empty coffers. SS funds are going to be raided to pay interest on the debt, and i could go on and on…
    Great Satan is not welcome anywhere, they are despised by people all over the Globe, Africom, Centcom, Nato and all!

    Posted by HK | May 17, 2011, 3:31 pm
  56. Iceman says

    “Why should the Lebaenese feel hard pressed to become un-sectarian all of a sudden? We know it is not going to work.”

    I say, shame on you

    Posted by V | May 17, 2011, 4:04 pm
  57. Ghassan,

    Fair enough. I guess we are saying the same thing.
    I think it’s funny (in a sad way) that you state that these tactics will not work and that the Syrian people are smarter than that.
    That may be true of Syrians, but apparently not the Lebanese. The Lebanese have been falling for these tactics for decades. It works just fine.

    Iceman,

    I think we all agree that in THEORY, the Lebanese should be able to solve their own problems without being tied to the Palestinian issue.
    However in reality, the Lebanese have shown time and again that they are incapable of thinking for themselves. They have allowed their leaders to continuously tie their issues to that of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and to use Israel as an excuse for everything that’s wrong with Lebanon. Until the Lebanese wake up to this fact (which I don’t see happening), the fact remains that the Lebanese issue will not be resolved.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 17, 2011, 4:43 pm
  58. HK #56
    The only appropriate response to many posts similar to the one mentioned above is to be reminded of what Mark Twain once quipped:

    “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”

    The Us is still the largest economy, in the world, enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes, has the strongest military, is one of the most productive economies, has the most vibrant technological sector in the globe, leads in most scientific fields, wecomes more immigrants than all the other countries combined, is the oldest democratic republic in the world, has one of the strongest bills of rights that a country can hope for……

    The US has many warts , just like any capitalist society would, but any reasonable person will be hard pressed not to place it among the better places to live in. The major problem with the US and all developed economies is that they have chosen a life style for themselves that cannot be shared with the other 6 billion other people in the world simply because then we would need the resources of 6 planets. That is why this exceptionalism will have to ultimately be dealt with.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 17, 2011, 4:48 pm
  59. “Shame on all the Lebanese political leaders who have failed to show any sense of decency or humanity towards the victims of oppression.”

    I think you’re asking too much of the Leb Pols.

    Posted by Maverick | May 17, 2011, 5:36 pm
  60. There is a nasty culture prevalent in Lebanon in regards to the Syrian crisis. Those who would like to make their voices heard in support of the Syrian people are threatened and looked down upon as traitors.And if that doesn’t work, then they are accused of manipulating events to their own political advantage.
    See: the cancellation of the Bristol conference.

    Posted by Maverick | May 17, 2011, 5:44 pm
  61. V said:
    “The Palestinian cause is attractive in Lebanon because it’s cool and romantic to grow a beard, smoke Gitane cigarettes and be nihilistic even if you are a AUB student and have an iPod… it’s a psychological phenomenon more than anything else. It also doesn’t require sincerity and hard work like solving the pressing internal issues.”

    That has to go down as one of the best quotes. Its all about image in Lebanon.

    Posted by Maverick | May 17, 2011, 5:51 pm
  62. “The Palestinian cause is attractive in Lebanon because it’s cool and romantic to grow a beard, smoke Gitane cigarettes and be nihilistic even if you are a AUB student and have an iPod… it’s a psychological phenomenon more than anything else. It also doesn’t require sincerity and hard work like solving the pressing internal issues.”

    Is there an on-line application I can fill out?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 17, 2011, 6:09 pm
  63. AP,

    Somehow, when an Israeli comments on that inside joke, it saps the humour out of it.

    Posted by Maverick | May 17, 2011, 6:27 pm
  64. I think an important question that nobody has yet asked is:
    “At what stage do these protests become a liability to the likes of Assad or HA?”
    which is followed by:
    “if they do what do they plan to do about it?”

    Posted by kubbeh | May 17, 2011, 6:40 pm
  65. Why? Do you have doubt, V, that becoming non-sectarian is not going to work in Lebanon? It is just a statement of fact.

    Anyway, the Israelis now may decide to make their long awaited invasion of Lebanon sooner than later, and it would include Syria this time. They would go to Damascus from the west through Bekaa. The Syrian regime has moved 3 brigades away from the Golan area in order to kill Syrian protesters elsewhere.

    A British minister is expecting the World court to issue arrest warrants against Bashar.. Mass graves have been uncovered in Dera’a

    Nine votes in UNSC are lined up to vote on a resolution against Syria. Russia and China will use their veto.

    Erdogan is calling for orderly transfer of power in Syria.

    Posted by iceman | May 17, 2011, 8:09 pm
  66. On second thoughts, Bashar may not be inherently criminal. It is possible that he just doesn’t have enough prison ‘facilities’ for all the protesters. Some have to die while others have to disappear. But, by far, the vast majority are ‘intruders’.

    Posted by iceman | May 17, 2011, 8:35 pm
  67. I don’t understand the Syrian government’s argument that Erdogan’s critiques are only pre-election pandering. The implication is that Turkey’s people don’t like the Syrian regime, but Erdogan does. Surely that’s not the message Bashar wants to send…

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 17, 2011, 8:39 pm
  68. Lol QN,
    good call.
    Another “wtf moment” in Bashar’s short sighted improvisation politics.

    Posted by Maverick | May 17, 2011, 8:48 pm
  69. QN,

    It is easier not to believe anything the Syrian government says.

    Posted by iceman | May 17, 2011, 8:49 pm
  70. How viable is a Turkish army presence in Syria to oversee regime change? once the whole international community votes against the Assad clan, after a complete deterioration is inevitable.
    I would think the U.S./E.U. would favor the Turkish presence as opposed to their own after Libya( and Iraq/Afghanistan…).
    Turkey would want to assert itself in the M.E. and at the same time garnish some EU votes.
    Can the Turks manage such a feat? would they want to? would the GCC allow it?

    Posted by Maverick | May 17, 2011, 8:58 pm
  71. QN,

    I think it is a siege mentality on the part of the syrian regime. Any criticism is being viewed with contempt, even from a friendly Erdogan. Not long ago, Syria was boasting about their intimate relationship with Turkey and how it gave Syria a regional strategic boost. Not listening to friendly voices is not good PR in my view. You need friends in a tough neighborhood and in time of crisis.

    Just my 2rshein.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | May 17, 2011, 8:58 pm
  72. Arabs will not agree to a Turkish encroachment into Arab country. You do not need a foreign army to transition. It will be painful and take some time but it will work out with LAF sending their crack commandos to supervise matters.

    Posted by danny | May 17, 2011, 9:18 pm
  73. “Can the Turks manage such a feat? would they want to? would the GCC allow it?”

    What do you think Maverick?

    Today Kuwait parliament voted for kicking Syrian amabassador out of Kuwait.

    Posted by iceman | May 17, 2011, 10:10 pm
  74. Valla Abillihi Lun
    Iceman, I don’t need cheaply made amateur videos to know the strength of the Turkish army, I’m aware of that. My question was not alluding to the physical strength of the Turkish military, but of the political implications.
    Danny mentioned, the Arabs will not accept. Who are the Arabs to decide, they are not all united on one stance, and even if they dont appreciate it, what are they gonna do about it?
    Secondly, if the Arabs have a problem with the Turks acting as a caretaker army, maybe the Sunnis wont be as reluctant. 🙂

    Posted by Maverick | May 17, 2011, 10:28 pm
  75. While nobody was looking, today SHN kept the zionazis from invading Lebanon. Hezbollah weapons keep Lebanon safe.

    Posted by dontgetit | May 17, 2011, 10:45 pm
  76. OK Maverick, if you’re concerned about the gulfies, then there is no need to worry. Bashar is stupid enough to lose any ‘friends’ he thinks he may have by the usual and only skill he has in his pocket, which is making threats. This time he threatened Qatar FM that his country may end up losing its $6 billion investment unless Qatar shuts up al-Jazeera reporting about Syria, only to be told by the Qatar FM that is just pocket money for a country that bids $100 billion for organizing the next Mondial,

    http://syrie.blog.lemonde.fr/2011/05/14/bachar-al-assad-menace-de-confisquer-les-investissements-du-qatar-en-syrie/

    I actually thought you doubted Turkey has the ability by your question “Can the Turks manage such a feat? “ But, I may have misunderstood.

    Would they want to do it? At one point they may have no choice.

    Posted by iceman | May 17, 2011, 11:02 pm
  77. Iceman,

    Syria is going to remember what the Kuwaiti parliament called for the next time that Iraq invade Kuwait, Syria will not come to the rescue as it did in 1990.

    Posted by Norman | May 17, 2011, 11:13 pm
  78. Norman,

    The true Syrian people will forever thankfully remember the courageous stand that the Kuwaiti Parliament took against the criminal butcher regime of Bashar. Hopefully, this stand will be the first one among many others that will follow from the rest of the sleeping Arabs. I am ashamed that the Lebanese so-called politicians were not the first to take such an honorable stand in public.

    Posted by iceman | May 17, 2011, 11:22 pm
  79. When the Syrian uprising started there were many skeptics , and that is understandable. A 1000 deaths, maybe 10,000 wounded, tens of thousands imprisoned, cities beseiged many city quarters bombarded later and the movement is getting stronger.
    The Syrian army has taken sides and so the only possibility for an eventual change will be the deployment of foreign troops.
    We cannot expect the West to interfer militarily in another Arab country. Isn’t it time that we help ourselves? I think that when the time comes the West will offer the moral support by indicting Bashar and calling openly for regime change. If Rami, Maher, Ahawkat and others decide to take a page out of the playbook of Saif El Islam then the regional forces that will enter Syria will be a combination of Arab forces under Turkish leadership.
    This eventuality is getting stronger by the day and as usual Lebanon, official Lebanon, is backing up the wrong horse. What makes the Lebanese position very tragic is its immorality, Lebanon is not only being neutral , which would have been reasonable, but is turning back soldiers who sought refuge in Lebanon, closing its borders to civilian refugees and using its muscle, both legal and otherwise to prevent civil society from even holding a solidarity rally with its Syrian brothers. All of this in the “land of freedom of expression”. Shame on us.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 17, 2011, 11:26 pm
  80. GK,

    Its not like the Lebanese have a choice. Syrian elements of the Lebanese political fabric are using scare tactics and threatening any person,party or movement with violence and political allegations. I mentioned the Bristol conference set up by M14 was cancelled in light of these threats.
    And with pressing issues like the formation of Govt., economic woes and rising prices, I dont think they can afford to start another row to create yet another schism.
    It is not a question of morals, but of ability.

    Posted by Maverick | May 17, 2011, 11:39 pm
  81. Norman,

    sorry to burst your ideological bubble, but reality is a bitch. Hafez Al Assad did not come to the rescue of the Kuwaitis because he couldnt sleep at night knowing the distress the Kuwaitis were going through. He decided to jump on the band wagon of the coalition for a quid pro quo. See: Green light into Lebanon.And we all know the relationship between Hafez and Saddam.
    Nothing personal buddy, it is how all self interested political players act inside power structures.

    Posted by Maverick | May 17, 2011, 11:44 pm
  82. GK,

    Turkey will not send troops to Syria for many reasons among them:
    1) The UNSC will not approve foreign intervention in Syria because of Russian and Chinese vetoes.
    2) The cost of a war with Syria is not zero. The missiles aimed at Israel can be aimed at Turkey. Why would Turkey want to pay this price given the slim strategical pickings?
    3) Any move into Syria will cause Turkey’s relations with Iran to deteriorate.

    Arab troops will not be used also. No Arab country can project power much beyond its borders and the the Jordanians, Lebanese and Iraqis are in no position to send an army to Syria. Let’s face it, the best way to get rid of Assad is economic strangulation. It is a slowish process, but the only feasible one.

    Posted by AIG | May 18, 2011, 12:07 am
  83. AIG answered my is it feasible question.
    Should have read is it realistic
    apologies Iceman.

    Posted by Maverick | May 18, 2011, 12:15 am
  84. Maverick,

    AIG is wrong. No missiles will be aimed or fired at Turkey. The Syrian army will simply disobey orders and side with the Turks against the few pro-Assad commanders.

    He is also wrong about the Arab armies. The Jordanian army by itself is more than capable in dealing with the Syrian army even if the Syrian army does not disintegrate. That has been proven histyorically.

    The Saudi Air Force is also the second most powerful in the region.

    The Israelis do not trust the Turks and do not want them nearby. Tough luck for the Israelis if they don’t like it. They’ve been playing double game with the Assads for 40 years. Their bluff will not work this time.

    Turkey may not wait for a UNSC resolution if it deems it in its interests to intervene. Remember Ocalan and pere Hafiz.

    Posted by iceman | May 18, 2011, 12:33 am
  85. AIG,
    I never said that Turkey will send forces without UNSC approval. I am suggesting that Syria is becoming more and more like another Libya. This can only mean, if the protests continue, that ultimately foreign intervention will be required. If and when we get to that I cannot see any body else leading such forces except for Turkey. It will be a multinational force that will enter only to provide stability and prevent another sectarian war. The sectarian messages are increasing by the day. I have always thought that regime change in Syria will end up in a blood bath if the Assads decide to fight.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 18, 2011, 12:37 am
  86. AIG’s last paragraph is Israel’s preferred scenario. A weak Syria and economically strangulated one is what he and all Israelis would like to see. All this talk of fake support from Israelis about free and democractic movements in the Arab world is bullshit. They know deep down it is not in their interests if the Arab people get somehow emancipated.

    But what you see is what you get. Either put up or shut up.

    Posted by iceman | May 18, 2011, 12:39 am
  87. GK #80 Fully agree with your assessment.

    GK #59 Partially agree on that ” the most vibrant technological sector in the globe, leads in most scientific fields…” and I would add that the US has the best universities in the world. However, i would disagree with the other portion. The US will be the second largest economy in a few years, and is on a downhill spiral. The Sad part is that I see that this spiral is irreversible. I know the US through and through, and know very well the mood of the people, it ain’t pretty Ghassan. You know it and I know it, lets not pretend otherwise. The US needs a real revolution, and the famous Bill of rights has been torn to shreds by the ZIOCONS and their coterie of thugs in the various administrations since 1995…Today, it’s almost outright fascism with TSA, DHS, Patriot act, FBI shenanigans, widespread illegal snooping, police brutality, etc. you know it GK!
    The various debacles of the markets in 2000 and 2007 have sapped the confidence in US financial institutions, their banks, their regulatory bodies, their polity, and their basic integrity, and the final nail came with the “Sub-prime” debacle. The debt load is unsustainable in that kind of environment of mis-trust. The reaction to all these shenanigans has been worse than the crimes. Point me to one man who was indicted apart from Maddof and the other crook from Texas, Stanford? Unless the US deals with its utter corruption at the TOP, there will be no future beyond a second rate Banana Republic of Hamburger flippers.
    It will take a popular revolution, coast to coast and may be a cessation of some States, before things recover to some normalcy. May Be!
    I will not dwell again on the foreign policy aspect, the wars, war crimes, and the mood of the world in that regard.

    Posted by HK | May 18, 2011, 12:46 am
  88. GK # 86: Fully agree with you too!

    Posted by HK | May 18, 2011, 12:50 am
  89. HK,
    Where is it written that a single country must stay on the top for ever? Competition is good while a unipolar world is terrible.
    My view on this issue is that empires do not simple vanish. They fade away and at times very slowly. China might surpass the US in a decade but by then its per capita income will still be only 20% of that in the US.
    There is no doubt that GWB and Darth Vader have tried to weaken some of the constitutional protections but they have not really suceeded. Just as a trivial example: Are there any latin American, Asian, African countries that would have acted to protect the rights of an immigrant chamber maid against those of a very high ranking official in an international organization? I don’t think so.

    China will eventually have to learn how to handle the democratic freedoms. I am not sure that it will be simple for them In the long run I have better faith in India.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 18, 2011, 1:28 am
  90. GK,

    It appears there’s more to the story about the 3 Syrian soldiers as reported here:

    http://www.yalibnan.com/2011/05/18/controversy-over-the-extradition-of-syrian-soldiers/#more-25124

    Posted by R2D2 | May 18, 2011, 4:00 am
  91. One of the kids wounded this weekend at Maroun al-Ras was an AUB student who’s currently in critical condition. The Israeli bullet shattered inside of him sending fragments into his spine. He’s lost some internal organs and may never walk again, if he manages to pull through at all.

    Posted by sean | May 18, 2011, 4:01 am
  92. R2D2 #91,
    Thank you for the information. I sure hope that this new explanation of what has transpired is the true story. BTW, this shows the need for transparency and trust. That is not how the Lebanese authorities reported the news item originally and such errors lead to lack of trust. Instead of taking their word for what haactually occured , the skeptic in me asks maybe the new explanation is only a lie to cover up the criticism that they have been subjected to from most international sources.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 18, 2011, 5:23 am
  93. Article 3 of Section 69 of the Lebanese Constiturtion reads as follows:

    (3) When the Council resigns or is considered resigned, the Chamber of Deputies is automatically considered in extraordinary session until a new Council has been formed and has gained the Chamber’s confidence.

    3- عند استقالة الحكومة أو اعتبارها مستقيلة يصبح مجلس النواب حكماً في دورة انعقاد استثنائية حتى تأليف حكومة جديدة ونيلها الثقة.

    yet the “The AlMustaqbal bloc decided , during its morning meeting today, not to approve/support the call for a general legislative meeting issued by Speaker Beri .”

    قررت كتلة “المستقبل” في اجتماعها الذي عقدته صباح اليوم عدم الموافقة على دعوة رئيس المجلس النيابي نبيه بري لعقد جلسة تشريعية عامة.

    No one has a choice in this issue. The constitution demands an automatic extraordinary session be held as soon as the cabinet resigns. Even the speaker has no choice in whether to issue an invitation to this session or not.

    Isn’t there anyone among the 128 MP’s who gives a whit about the constitution that is supposed to guide their deliberations?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 18, 2011, 5:57 am
  94. I somehow agree with AIG.
    Turkish forces will not be allowed into Syria. I would expect if this “revolution” or protests still have legs then Bashar will be weakened and his army will eventually splinter. It is a slow war of attrition. The West are modelling after the Libya experiment. Let the people decide. If the crackdown increases in its ferocity (i.e. Helicopters or planes used as well); we might see a blockade or a NFZ as well.

    Again; the LAF are best suited to patrol and keep peace in “disputed ” or hot regions.

    …and Norman we are coming to help you Syrians from yourselves. 😀

    Posted by danny | May 18, 2011, 7:09 am
  95. Let’s get Syrious

    My prediction: there will be NO foreign intervention or troops in Syria.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 18, 2011, 7:22 am
  96. GK,
    I remember when M14 were crying foul when the “Esteeth” Berry closed parliament for a year or so.

    We were so fooled to think the M14 clowns are any more interested in the rule of law in Lebanon than the M8 dipshits.

    Posted by V | May 18, 2011, 7:22 am
  97. Iceman,

    Israel’s preferred scenario is an immediate transition to a liberal democracy in Syria. “Deep down” we know this is the best scenario. How can it be bad for us, having Arab governments that are accountable to their people? Will such a government go to war with Israel? Will it alienate the West and the Gulf? Will it support terror groups? No, or will be swiftly voted out of office. Will it be more assertive about the Palestinian issue? Sure. So what?

    Arabs care about the Palestinians but we already have a template that gives us a pretty good indication how Arab democracies will deal with the Palestinian issue. That template is Lebanon. The majority of Lebanese, despite their sympathy to the Palestinians, are not willing to fight a war for them or endanger Lebanon for them.

    Posted by AIG | May 18, 2011, 10:07 am
  98. Actually Lebanon is a template for some Lebanese willing to destroy their country for or in the name of the so called Palestinian cause, why? That’s a whole different discussion. The rest of the Arab world? They were willing to sacrifice Lebanon.

    Posted by V | May 18, 2011, 11:48 am
  99. Iceman,
    Other than complete chaos, Israel stands to gain from whatever scenario arises in Syria. I don’t think there is a prefered one.

    Posted by Kubbeh | May 18, 2011, 12:14 pm
  100. V,

    Point taken. Would you agree though that having learned from the Lebanese experience, most Lebanese are against war with Israel? They are not for peace, but they are against war.

    Posted by AIG | May 18, 2011, 12:21 pm
  101. Kubbeh,

    I would add that if there is a very weak government in Syria, like in Lebanon, that is also not good for Israel. The Iranians will find some militants to fund and the state would not be able to control them.

    Posted by AIG | May 18, 2011, 12:23 pm
  102. AIG,
    The comparison with Lebanon is apt. But, isn’t Lebanon the definition for political chaos in the middle east?

    Posted by Kubbeh | May 18, 2011, 12:34 pm
  103. I’ll try to comment on several comments above in one swoop, as it’s easier than multi-commenting.

    1) I too predict there will be NO foreign intervention in Syria (for a multitude of reasons). I don’t see Turkey or anyone else getting mired in that overly-sensitive, overly-messy quagmire. Libya is one thing. Somewhat removed from the ME morass (Israel/Palestine/Iran/Israel/Lebanon). Syria is a different matter all together. A Turkish intervention in Syria could very well drag the Iranians in too. Which would in turn drag the Israelis in as well….

    2) Ghassan,
    Still quoting the constitution and wondering why nobody but you seems to be aware of it? Have you not learned that you’re probably the only Lebanese who gives a hoot about our constitution? Come on man! We saw the constitution in action in 2008, with the election of Suleiman, the closure of parliament, the formation of various unity governments, the resignation of various governments, etc…It is pretty clear that not only do none of the 128 MPs give a shit about the constitution, but neither does anyone else (from judges and leaders to government officials and everyday citizens). You are the ONLY person I know who invokes the Lebanese constitution in their political discussions. Go have a chat with a random dekanjeh, or political pundit, or housewife in Beirut or Tripoli or Nabatiyeh and let me know if a single one of them brings up the word “constitution” in any way….This isn’t the US, where most citizens have some kind of fundamental and intrinsic reverence to the constitution.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 18, 2011, 12:42 pm
  104. AIG,

    Yes people don’t want war but for so many reasons they are easily manipulated and very resigned to their fate once war is decided by the demagogue they worship.
    The people of South Lebanon cannot vote HA out even if we have democracy, again we go back to development; we are not fully developed yet to shed off tribal and religious allegiance and hierarchy.

    Posted by V | May 18, 2011, 1:00 pm
  105. GK

    Is there a difference between ” extraordinary session” and “a general legislative meeting”?
    Is there a specific purpose for the extraordinary session?

    Posted by IHTDA | May 18, 2011, 1:02 pm
  106. BV
    “This isn’t the US, where most citizens have some kind of fundamental and intrinsic reverence to the constitution.”
    You haven’t watched any miss America pageant? Did you? 😉

    Posted by IHTDA | May 18, 2011, 1:07 pm
  107. IHTDA,
    I am not a lawyer and so cannot speak to the nuances. My interpretation is that an Extraordinary session is not limited to the two specific time periods mentioned in the constitution. I imagine that the extraordinary session is meant to guide the ship of state i.e. make sure that there is no governmental vacuum.

    BTW,for those who are interested I have just found out that there is a free e version of The Book of Khalid by Rihani. Actually , as some of you now, this is the 100th anniversary of the novel that is considered to be the first written by a Lebanese-American maybe by an Arab-American for that matter. To down load a free copy:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/29257

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 18, 2011, 1:18 pm
  108. GK, # 90

    We are in full agreement again 🙂

    There is some hope in a decent/fair multipolar world, but the US needs to get its house in order FAST.

    I am also in agreement with your other posts afterwards…

    Posted by HK | May 18, 2011, 1:31 pm
  109. IHDTA 106:

    I said “reverence”, not “understanding”.

    Even the most ignorant of Americans has a basic respect and reverence for their constitution, even if they don’t understand it or know much about it.
    I’ve often argued that Americans are almost “brainwashed” when it comes to their constitution. It is treated like some kind of holy sacred text on par with a Bible or Koran. Bringing up the argument of constitutionality is often an easy way to stir up emotions and debate in the USA.

    Contrast that to Lebanon where people don’t give a crap about something being constitutional.

    That’s the point I was trying to make.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 18, 2011, 1:35 pm
  110. Alex,

    How is Assad going to rehabilitate his international standing? What is the plan?

    ——————————————-
    U.S. slaps sanctions on Syrian president, top aides

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/18/us-syria-usa-idUSTRE74H4XX20110518?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

    Posted by AIG | May 18, 2011, 1:45 pm
  111. AIG,

    Is bashar safe? Are the protests over? Have the tanks moved back to the Lebanese frontier? 😀

    Has he stopped his serial murders or mistakes as Alex so quaintly puts it?

    please let me know that it ain’t so?

    Posted by danny | May 18, 2011, 2:04 pm
  112. …Off course Not! The revolution and the blood of martyrs will not go to waste; just because Assad declared that it is over. He still is blood soaked murderer and the people of Syria are still asking for their rights and freedom of choice!

    Posted by danny | May 18, 2011, 2:06 pm
  113. Danny,

    I am interested in finding when Alex comes to the conclusion that Assad needs another plan.

    Posted by AIG | May 18, 2011, 3:09 pm
  114. I am too…But I don’t have much hope of that happening.
    The thing that I’ve learned when dealing with most Lebanese (and ME in general) commentators/observers/citizens-at-large is that they’d rather live in denial then admit they were wrong.
    I suppose that’s a universal trait. But I find it more pronounced in our neck of the woods.

    People will go to great lengths of delusion and denial, making up phantasmagorical narratives to convince themselves of their worldview, even in the light of mounting evidence to the contrary.

    In short, I don’t expect Alex, or anyone with his “reform’s just around the corner” view to change their mind, no matter what.

    (This observation is just as valid for the opposite camp, mind you)

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 18, 2011, 3:18 pm
  115. AIG
    Is there anything that Obama can say tomorrow that will gain him some support in Israel.
    I assume that he will emphasize one more time the importance of a secure Israel but I imagine that he will have to make some demands of the present and future Israeli government to negotiate and compromise with the Palestinians. Can the Israeli right ever accept these “realities”?

    I am certain that he will face just as tough of a sell on the Arab and Palestinian sides. It might be easier to win some Arab support because of the Libyan role, the sanctions against Bashar, the relative support of the Yemeni demonstrators and those in Egypt . But the Palestinian issue is just as thorny as ever. He will promise support for the Palestinian aspirations but will not probably demand a date certain for the negotiations to bear fruit.

    So why is he doing this ? I believe that partly it is to speak to US Jewery and partly to repair the US image among Arabs. But unless he is determined to use US credits to pressure both sides to negotiate then the speech will not be very fruitful. (I guess that if he manages to get both sides upset then he must be doing some good?:-))

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 18, 2011, 4:35 pm
  116. GK,

    I don’t have any insight into Obama’s thinking.

    At this point Israelis are not listening to anybody, they just look at actions. There is just zero trust between Israelis and Palestinians and no words will be able to close this gap. Bibi did move slightly to the left in his declarations this past week, and Israel released the funds to the PA, but I am not sure it has any long term significance.

    Posted by AIG | May 18, 2011, 4:50 pm
  117. I assume that he will emphasize one more time the importance of a secure Israel but I imagine that he will have to make some demands of the present and future Israeli government to negotiate and compromise with the Palestinians.

    GK,

    If Thomas Friedman’s article is an indication, Obama will not spark any pro-Israel sentiment.

    When TF talks about “Bibi and Barack”, he is basically putting the onus on Israel and giving the Palestinians another “Get out of Jail Free Card”…

    The PA/GOI issue is basically a LOSE-LOSE. It should be left to the parties to figure out a solution or to remain status-quo.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/18/opinion/18friedman.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 18, 2011, 4:51 pm
  118. AIG,

    My point all along has been that Assad is banking on suffocating all dissent brutally and then going over to the west and saying voila; I took care of the gangs and interfering foreigners. He will make a trip to KSA & Ankara. Then he will visit Sarkoczy or Medvedev and unveil his “humanist” side of reforms. He thinks that he needs no new strategy. As far as Bashar (and people like Alex who love their reformist)is concerned he needs no other move. His moves are according to plan.
    If the unrest is suppressed as he so proudly professed; he will write of the “mistakes” that he & Alex talk about…I don’t know how can a training issue have anything to do with tanks bombing their own towns…
    I guess you have to have a warped sense of humor to buy into that!
    Failing to suppress the revolt/protests will cripple him beyond help. Sanctions and freezing of all assets will commence and he will be isolated like his counterpart Bashir.

    Posted by danny | May 18, 2011, 5:35 pm
  119. AK #118,
    Thanks for pointing out the TF column , which i had missed. Personally I subscribe totally to its contents. I believe , as I have argued before, that Israel needs to extricate itself from the West bank for its own sake. ( That was also the argument of Abba Eban and Golda Meir).

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 18, 2011, 6:21 pm
  120. I am surprised that no one has posted any remarks about Rihanis “The Book of Khalid” which was written a hundred years ago, is the first novel in English by an Arab and above all is could have been written only 3-4 months ago since it deals with the need for revolution. (Besides all the above the e version is for free).

    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/29257

    (Excuse me for posting this twice in the same day but I want to make certain that enough readers see it) Sorry QN for the abuse of hospitality.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 18, 2011, 6:27 pm
  121. HK
    You might be interested in a recent article by Roger Lowenstein in Businessweek in which he argues essentially that fraud accompanied the economic meltdown but did not cause it. The real culprit is speculation on mortgages, regulators fraud may have accompanied the financial crisis, but it didn’t cause it.The real culprit was the speculative bubble which blindsided investors , bankers, regulators … This is not an attempt to say that it was inevitable but it is another way of saying that it was greed. The crisis was systemic and unless we understand that we will never be able to put in place any meaningful reforms. (That is why I am a supporter of the efforts to get rid of the too big to fail even if that means busting those that pose a systemic risk).

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 18, 2011, 6:44 pm
  122. Thanks Gus,
    downloaded via kindle.

    On another note, what is your opinion on the latest fuel subsidiaries. I know you are against decreasing fuel tax, but is Raya Hassan’s decision a sort of capitulation? how does reducing fuel tax do any harm?

    Posted by Maverick | May 18, 2011, 7:04 pm
  123. HK,

    hmm, hmm, you may be onto something, bro…
    Even with the latest US sanctions reaching Pres. Assad, 3Asef Shawkat is not on the list.
    hmm, hmm,
    Now that facts are giving one data point consistent with your conspiracy theories can you educate those of us who simply skipped over some of your comments, in a brief, simple, way, puhleez (without sending us to read some other blog), what the heck is this “White House Murder Inc?”
    and thanks in advance, assuming you keep it simple for those simple-minded folks like me.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 18, 2011, 7:42 pm
  124. Maverick #123,
    My position on this matter is very simple.
    Lebanon, contrary to what you hear, is in a financial bind/mess. Its economy is hanging by a string and thus the government does not have the luxury of forfeiting income. If it does that then it might not be able to service the debt.
    The Lebanese governemnt budget is very deceiving. It looks to be large enough to deal with many social and economic problems except that it is not. 405 of the budget is allocated to debt service and that could brow to. Another 17-20% is needed to pay for the government employeesand once you deduct the small budget of the armed forces and a few other essential you will find out that all government programs in Lebanon amount to less than 10% of the budget. This simply means that Lebanon already has one of the most austere budgets in the world. So if expenditures cannot be reduced then it would be unconscionable to reduce revenue.
    Add to the above the very strong argument that no country should be allowed to encourage the use of fossil fuels because of the carbon emissions and you find out that reducing taxes on gasoline is a deadly no-no. It is fatal.
    Minister Hasan, is very well meaning, but she has failed to demonstrate that she understands any of the complex issues with which she is dealing. I really hate myself for sounding judgemental on this issue but I will never be able to forget that the official web site of the Ministry of Finance lists her awards as having been nominated to the deans Honour List during her undergraduate work, a total non achievement. Yet her suggestion is more targeted than that of Basil, the son in law of GMA. (What a meritorious achievement!!!)
    Public transport is to be encouraged and car ownership discouraged. The poor in Lebanon do not own cars anyway so please spare me the fact that higher fuel prices will be a burden on them. Mass transit is not taxis. The government needs to adopt a comprehensive policy to encourage minbuses and reduce car traffic. You will be surprised; or maybe not; at how costly is traffic congestion. And the answer to traffic congestion should mot be more highways except in the last resort. Broader highways means more traffic.
    Another extremely effective antidote to our huge expenditures on energy is to modernize the electricity production sector through wind farms off shore and retrofitting homes for PVin addition to using natural gas as a fuel instead of the more expensive and highly polluting fuel oil.
    That is another reason why I believe that Lebanon will be served better by a cabinet of technocrats instead of the political appointees that are rarely qualified to do the job.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 18, 2011, 7:50 pm
  125. If only the Old City was inside the Green Line NewZ

    GK,

    Israel has already extricated itself from a large part of the West Bank and totally from Gaza.

    She's basically cut-out all the fat, and thus, cannot cut out more unilaterally without a peace treaty. And Israel cannot walk away from the Old City, which, is also part of the "Holy" West Bank.

    But, alas, these little issues are not anything new to the well-informed here on QN.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 18, 2011, 8:05 pm
  126. Cheers Gus,

    There is no doubt Lebanon needs to revise its energy policy. Ive always wondered why it hasnt opted for more natural ways of energy production; There are 300 sunny days in the year ,so goes the saying on all touristic brochures, also, wind power, not to mention water etc.
    Still if they cannot allocate enough budget to basic infrastructure, sooner or later the whole edifice will collapse. This includes strengthening the transport system and weeding out any illegal taxi plates. Finding alternative energy production.The technology sector and of course faster internet.
    Anyways, thats another thesis in the making, but I do hope the next cabinet if there is one, will be somewhat technocratic for everyones sake.

    Posted by Maverick | May 18, 2011, 8:07 pm
  127. The regime thugs are roaming rampantly in Tal Kalakh on the border with Lebanon since last Saturday. More than 10000 inhabitants fled to Lebanon already. Dead bodies are strewn out in the open on the streets. Stories of horrible crimes perpetrated by the criminal thugs are reported,

    http://www.14march.org/news-details.php?nid=Mjk0NTkx

    Last Friday, there were huge demonstrtations in this city accompanied by mass defections from the Baath party announced in the open. This is the price the regime is exacting from the city and its inhabitants for taking the defiant step of deserting the so-called party of neo-nazism.

    Posted by iceman | May 18, 2011, 8:26 pm
  128. Maverick & GK,

    I think the government should speed up the process of beginning the extraction of the natural gas fields discovered off shore. That alone should help greatly the energy needs of the country. Plus dedicate a good portion of the windfall to paying off the debt (principal, not just interest).

    Another area of immense importance going forward would be building series of dams to capture snow runoff. The value of this water storage is not necessarily in just produce few MWs, but to improve current water distribution in the summer time and as an insurance for drought years.

    These two initiatives warrant the most attention in my view.

    A technocrat cabinet will be most suited to deal with these issues.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | May 18, 2011, 9:06 pm
  129. NOTE TO ALL REGULAR READERS OF QN

    I’m going to be interviewing Camille Otrakji about the situation in Syria, for Bloggingheads this Friday. The interview will go live on Saturday morning.

    We have a pretty full slate of topics to discuss already, but if you have any specific questions you’d like me to ask Camille, please feel free to post them in this thread, or email them to me via the contact form on the About page.

    I can’t guarantee that we’ll get to all of the questions, but I’ll do what I can to bring some of them up.

    Thanks.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 18, 2011, 9:29 pm
  130. QN, here’s a question:
    – In your opinion, if Israel agrees to hand back all the Syrian territory occupied in 1967, including, of course, the Golan Heights, in exchange for full normalization of diplomatic relations, verifiable renunciation of any activity on Syrian soil by rejectionist Palestinian parties, and verifiable renunciation of any Iranian interference in Syrian-Israeli or Palestinian-Israeli issues, but with the condition that permanent observation posts be operational to ensure a demilitarized zone in the Golan Heights (except for necessary police activities needed to maintain internal order), do you think (a) President Assad would agree to such terms, (b) if yes, do you think the timing of such deal can be made immediate to allow a simultaneous combination of internal reform and and a settlement of the Syrian-Israeli conflict?
    Why or why not to the 3-part question above.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 18, 2011, 10:07 pm
  131. QN,

    looking forward to see any changes of opinion/attitudes from the last interview.
    Since we are way past sifting through the disinformation AKA BS, that the regime spews, perhaps the bulk of the questions should be allocated to what Camille thinks will happen. The foreign intervention question, the oppositions choices, how does he think replacing the regime can be achieved.etc.
    oh and lets not forget does he still believe in REFORM?

    Posted by Maverick | May 18, 2011, 10:08 pm
  132. QN,

    Can you also interview Bashar Assad? I have a list of softball questions for him to help his image.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 18, 2011, 10:09 pm
  133. I know this is gonna sound kinda of petty, but I’d really like to hear if Camille still believes the regime will reform if “just given a chance” and if so, what makes him – Camille – believe in that, despite the countless signs to the contrary that we’ve all rehashed to death already.

    🙂

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 18, 2011, 10:16 pm
  134. Will this buy Friendship? I doubt it.

    US offers debt relief to Egypt:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110519/wl_nm/us_obama_mideast_aid

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 18, 2011, 10:17 pm
  135. If you have not read the Dorothy Paravz account of her 3 days in a Syrian prison the click on the following link:

    http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/05/2011518184325620380.html

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 18, 2011, 10:45 pm
  136. My question is very simple.

    Did Alex vote PC-Baath, Liberal-Baath, BQ-Baath or NDP-Baath in the last elections?

    Posted by iceman | May 18, 2011, 11:02 pm
  137. Maverick,
    Take a look at the Kuwiti Syasah. It has an item that claims that many Lebanese and Syrian lawyers are considering suing Pesident Suleiman and Gen Kahwaji for their conduct that broke all sorts of international standards in handing back to the Syrian authorities the two soldiers that sought refuge in Lebanon because of their refusal to fire on unarmed civilians. I know that Al Syassah does not have an impeccable reputation but under the circumstances this account seems plausible.
    If this account is true then Suleiman and Kahwaji must be held accountable and all Lebanese politicians must be forced to wear a purple badge of shame.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 19, 2011, 12:30 am
  138. – Come on guys, you can do better than that! Sheesh, all the contention in the comment section and when called to task you can’t come up with decent (or well-phrased) questions? Rise up to the task!

    – QN, here’s another question based on comments#709,10,11,12 and 723 of https://qifanabki.com/2011/05/02/camille-otrakji-syria-protests/
    You have responded to commentators who asked about the killing of Syrian protesters by saying that the President and the regime made “mistakes.” As one commentator pointed out to you, in politics, mistakes can be fate-changing, reflecting the famous quote “C’est plus qu’un crime, c’est une faute” and its known historical contexts. In light of such qualification of what a “mistake” can be in politics, do you still consider these “mistakes” as relatively benign in the context of what you see as the challenge and danger posed by a possible demise of the Assad regime? Why or why not?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 19, 2011, 12:36 am
  139. HK, I’m still waiting for your answer(s) to my question in #124

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 19, 2011, 12:38 am
  140. HP, # 124

    I am glad you noticed 🙂

    I have been screaming like hell that Asef Shawkat is the point man when CIA/MOSSAD decide to eliminate someone in Lebanon or Syria. He is the main liaison with Western Intelligence. He is the one who personally orchestrated the savage assassination of Elie HOBEIKA, January 24th 2002 on behalf of CIA/MOSSAD. Asef Shawkat is still CIA’s point man in Damascus today and will remain so. If there is major battles within the Assad Mafia Clans, you can expect a Coup D’etat by the thug Asef Shawkat and his coterie of killers. I have been saying that for years…

    Asef Shawkat is also the assassin of Imad F. Moughnieh, Feb 12th 2008. He did it to carry favors with CIA/MOSSAD/DGSE who have old scores to settle with Moughnieh since 1983… Hence the protection afforded to Asef Shawkat by the most infamous White House Murder INC,!

    By the way HP, the above is not speculation on my part, it’s based on solid information and hard nosed investigations spanning a decade… If you have the determination, there is always a way to find out, if you know where to knock…I have been blessed with access to the right people from DC to Tel Aviv and all the capitals that count in between…you will be amazed at the amount of information that people are willing to share when you know how to go about getting it. 🙂

    Posted by HK | May 19, 2011, 12:41 am
  141. GK,

    Being military men themselves, I’m sure they are aware of protocol, and would probably in all likelihood feel sympathy with the soldiers.
    However the gravity of the situation and the reality of Lebanese politics dictates that they must not act or speak in way that seems contradictory or condemning even mildly the present Syrian regime.This will open up the floodgates to more opposition and condemnation of the Syrian regime.
    As much as Id like to point the finger on the comatose president, I understand he is coerced to act in certain ways.

    Posted by Maverick | May 19, 2011, 12:48 am
  142. Martyrs square is the only place. Solidarity with the Syrian people is a must.It cannot come from the Pols, but from the population, especially the partakers of the Beirut Spring. No speeches, no gimmicks,nothing below the belt- ala Walid Joumblatt in his infamous bashar bashing speech.

    Posted by Maverick | May 19, 2011, 12:56 am
  143. A scenario as in #143 is the most relevant and most appropriate at this stage.

    There are other reasons besides supporting the Syrian revolution for such mobilization. In addition to the fiasco of handing soldiers back to Syria, the latest threat to the Bristol hotel management by the SSNP and the Qansou thugs is setting the stage for further stifling of freedom in Lebanon.

    A million-man gathering in martyrs square would reverberate throughout Syria and would provide a strong impetus to the nascent revolution.

    Can the people galvanize on their own?

    Posted by iceman | May 19, 2011, 1:12 am
  144. Iceman,
    I forgot to mention that the Martyrs square gathering was wishful thinking on my behalf.
    It would be a mere impossibility for that many Lebanese citizens to gather for a common cause without the permission of the political parties. The heads of the PP would be too reserved to stick their necks out considering the taboo nature of the subject.
    Who knows?
    But it would be just awesome.First it would face slap the pro-regime apologists in Lebanon making them lift the taboo. Two, Lebanon’s standing in the ME and the world would be elevated.Three , the Syrian people who generally believe that the Lebanese are stuck up, arrogant and that they hate Syrians will be encouraged and feel a sense of brotherhood with their neighbour. It would also re emphasise unity within Syria, and as you said give more impetus.Four, will encourage Arab and worldwide condemnation of the Syrian regimes’ crimes.
    The advantages are endless. If only they could.

    Posted by Maverick | May 19, 2011, 1:43 am
  145. QN,

    Ask Alex:

    1. It has been over a month since Bashar declared his intention for reforms and yet we have not seen any concrete road map. Does he believe there will be any?

    2. What kind of Reforms does Mt. Otrakji aspire for? …and please make sure you don’t soft ball it. Let’s see if he see past his notes!

    3. Besides the incomprehensible five year time frame…how does he see these reforms translate to betterment of Syria.

    Posted by danny | May 19, 2011, 7:48 am
  146. Ok, thanks guys.

    What I’m hearing is that the reform question is the main one on people’s minds.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 19, 2011, 8:00 am
  147. HP,

    Now you have HK salivating with his Murder Inc. His book will be out soon.

    It is very plausible that Mr. Shawkat is not in the decision making responsible position. According to your resident guru; HK; he was demoted. But he stays as the CIA man in Levant in stealth form. He is a combination of 007 & The Saint. 😀

    Posted by danny | May 19, 2011, 8:01 am
  148. GK # 122

    We will have to disagree on the utter corruption at the TOP in DC and Wall St.

    For example, the SEC knew full well about Madoff years ahead, they did nothing about it!

    First the War Powers act, The Patriot act, DHS, TSA etc, and now this drone story, the first thing that came to mind was the passing of the bankruptcy reform bill a few years prior to the collapse…. They knew what was coming then and they know what is coming now, and they are preparing for that eventuality. 🙂

    http://www.bostonreview.net/BR36.1/nevins.php

    Posted by HK | May 19, 2011, 8:39 am
  149. Ahmadinejad: West ‘causing drought’ in Iran

    http://www.irna.ir/ENNewsShow.aspx?NID=30393201&SRCH=1

    Posted by R2D2 | May 19, 2011, 8:50 am
  150. danny, glad you noticed, too!
    wink, wink, nudge, nudge
    Hey, if HK becomes famous one day, we can all claim to have contributed to his success.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 19, 2011, 9:00 am
  151. GK; # 122 [ follow-up ]

    Some have predicted that the Middle Eastern and North African protests would spread to Europe, Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, China and may be to USA as well!

    Take the Spanish political system, it is designed, like most Western “democracies” to produce a fake alternation between nearly identical twin parties and that way impede any real challenge to the status quo. That is why he protesters had (have?) “true democracy now!” as one of their central slogans, because the perception is that the citizens are not really able to influence a political scene that is designed as a bunker of bipartisanship.
    It was a legitimate criticism of the USSR that they had a single party but the two party system of the West is not really much better, specially as both parties are nearly identical except in token cause celebres like abortion or other side issues (not that these are not important but they are not the central issue most of the time)…

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/ME20Dj01.html

    Posted by HK | May 19, 2011, 9:57 am
  152. Some are saying the world is ending on the 21st of May this coming Saturday.

    If it happens do you guys think Asef Shawkat and The White House Murder Inc are behind it ?

    Posted by V | May 19, 2011, 10:55 am
  153. HK,

    Your comments on Obsuhma’s speech are highly anticipated.

    Posted by R2D2 | May 19, 2011, 12:59 pm
  154. Obushma’s

    Posted by R2D2 | May 19, 2011, 1:08 pm
  155. If that speech won’t translate into a slap to Walid Jumblatt’s and GMA’s face … I don’t know what is.

    Posted by R2D2 | May 19, 2011, 1:11 pm
  156. I honestly cannot listen to a word Obushma says and turn off every talking thing with Obama in it. I used to feel like that about Bush, Cheney and the Whole Ziocon crew, and still do with the left behind network of Ziocons in this administration. This combination of empty suit, bought and paid for ideologically adopted Zionism, empty rhetoric, teleprompter-paced dramaturgy and choreographed synthetic rising/falling speech cadence B-actor & histrionics is not something I can bear to watch. When it gets transcribed after he finishes performing the newest linguistic soap opera, I will read it – less painful than listening to his narcissistic performance. As to the leaked topic, I believe he will help Palestinians with the same sincerity he demonstrated about ending wars…

    They got a problem with Arab unrest at Israel’s doorstep. Maybe the artificially created Nobel peace president who tends to have wars breaking out in every region of the world he brings his peace missions to, will get involved with bringing some of that oppressive NATO peace to Palestinians in case they think about rioting more and this is an anticipatory preemptive part in the psyops? Once the latest Neocon named Obama was disguised as Nobel laureate, notice how all the predatory wars also got disguised as peace-keeping missions which are preempted by psyops al-CIAda rebel activity which then necessitate “humanitarian peace-keeping missions”. They just put their imperialistic wars in Nobel peace, drag is all.

    Posted by HK | May 19, 2011, 1:24 pm
  157. QN,

    It would be great if you could interview Thanassis on recent developments.

    What can the future hold for Hizballah with the recent developments and a possible two state solution in sight for Palestinians?

    Posted by R2D2 | May 19, 2011, 1:24 pm
  158. It seems that the US still has faith in the Syrian president to lead the reform movement but , they want him to move like a rabbit not like a turtle, It is time to call for multiparty non ethnic, non religious election and for asking for help from the US and university institutions to set up districts and election, it is time for a real secular state , then we and the US will know if the opposition want a modern state or an Islamic one.

    Posted by norman | May 19, 2011, 1:42 pm
  159. AIG,

    As a Jewish atheist … are you ready to pay the taxes you will have to pay to the Palestinian diaspora, for a few decades, to live comfortably in Israel?

    Posted by R2D2 | May 19, 2011, 1:43 pm
  160. #160 +1 !

    Posted by 3issa | May 19, 2011, 2:00 pm
  161. V, go smoke a nice fat one of these medicinal incense sticks – you will be much more happy and peaceful afterwards. They work magic for cranky moods.

    Posted by HK | May 19, 2011, 2:01 pm
  162. Ghassan Karam,

    Thanks for the link to Dorothy Parvaz’s story. I’d missed that.
    I don’t know how anyone can read a story like that (and I don’t dispute its accuracy, because Dorothy is certainly not the first or the last to have born such treatment, we all know people who have been in this situation before). I don’t know how anyone can read that account and still make excuses about reforms or give Assad and his thugs any kind of pass.
    Sorry Norman/Alex/etc…It’s impossible for me to accept any kind of excuse for a murdering, torturing, inhumane bastard.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 19, 2011, 2:12 pm
  163. It is a make-believe peace plan by a make-believe peace president preemptively equipped with a peace Nobel with the already then existing mission to disguise the latest neocon and WINEP-scripted oil and central bank Zionist neocon warmonger overthrow of the entire Middle East, more arrogant megalomaniac narcissistic elite nation-building and puppet-installing according to Israel’s and Rothschild’s and Big Oil’s and mil-industrial collective wet dreams soiling our global realities with CIA-rebels-as-human-drones deployment stirring up of unrest (oldest trick known to colonialism/imperialism to destabilize nations coupled with new technology and perennial psyops mindfucks), all disguised in progressive “war is really peace” Obama happy peace mission drag. I prefer Zionists and neocons openly fanged, visible and unapologetically straight shot on the rocks, not disguised as progressive liberal we-hate-it-too-but-it-must-be-done-for-their-own-good full of shit fake peacemakers, so let’s lose the drag and unmask Obama’s Middle East peace theater and utterly empty rhetoric…

    And did I mention I don’t believe in Obama’s peace mission being real? Yeah, that’s what I was trying to say.

    Posted by HK | May 19, 2011, 2:16 pm
  164. HK,

    It must be a terrible world you have grown up in.

    Breathe.

    Posted by R2D2 | May 19, 2011, 2:20 pm
  165. As it has been pointed out previously and since day one, Bashar cannot and will not do any reforms. Any one thinking otherwise is hallucinating.

    He is still using tanks and heavy artillery against cities and peaceful civilians. The only reason to do so is to re-establish fear.

    Here are the simple facts why a despot cannot reform. There are three forms of governments and each one depends on an essential factor to survive.

    Despotic government needs to instil fear in the people.

    Absolute Monarchy needs to project qualities of honour among its subjects.

    Liberal Democracy depends on qualities of virtue a politician appeals to among constituents.

    Bashar and his thugs do not have any of the last two qualities. They know it and therefore they use heavy weapons to create fear and terror among the people.

    Go play with kids Norman.
    Same for Alex regarding his upcoming so-called interview.

    Posted by iceman | May 19, 2011, 2:52 pm
  166. R2D2,

    I am for all refugees getting compensation. That includes the 850,000 Arab Jews that were forced to leave their property behind when they left Arab countries and compensation for the property of 3-4 million Polish Jews (one tenth of Polish real estate). It will be simplest if the Arabs and Poles pay the Palestinians directly. They can even give them extra if there are leftovers. I feel benevolent today.

    Just to make clear, the Palestinians have nothing to do with the Arab Jews being expelled and Polish Jews being denied their property. But if they receive compensation, why not also others from that time? This is going to be a firm Israeli demand.

    So to answer your question, yes, I am willing to forgo the compensation owed to me and give it to the Palestinians.

    Posted by AIG | May 19, 2011, 3:18 pm
  167. How about returning the Billions stashed by Madoff in Israel to their rightful owners?

    Unfortunately for bumbling Netenyaho and Israel firsters June 30th is approaching, when the USA Government /Federal Reserve will have two choices: Cut the deficit by at least $1 Trillion, or print $ 1 trillion, either way it is game over for any financial [or other] help for Ziocon’s causes. Infighting over who represents the U.S. in the peace process – when events in the region and at the U.N. are leaving the U.S.-dominated “peace process” on life support – has the air of the proverbial two bald men fighting over a comb. Furthermore, AIPAC should be registered under FARA pronto.

    Please recall that the Fed’s QII and revamped QI just about covered the USA Federal deficit for the last few months – indeed in one month the Fed purchased over 110% of the monthly shortfall… I blame the dumb goy for their own utter corruption–material and spiritual… There is some speculation that Bernie Madoff felt safer from Russian mobsters he had swindled in “protective custody” in an American prison. Also speculation that $9B unrecovered from Madoff in Israel in various investments. Perhaps time will tell… Wondering if the US has asked the Government of Israhell to search and turn over all Madoff funds? Hey USA is broke!

    Posted by HK | May 19, 2011, 3:37 pm
  168. gentlemen, I’m reading this blog regularly for more than 2 months now…you seems to be well read in Lebanese politics, and(genuinely) worried about Lebanon’s role and destiny within the ME.

    In all your discussion, is there anybody who thinks that the turmoil that the country is living in since its inception are maybe due to its inception itself? My point is that, perhaps, today’s Lebanon would have probably been better if it has been left where it was for milleniums (i.e. a within larger empires or any kind of political stucture).

    Knowing that digressions are not too severely punished in this blog, me too, I want to take the opportunity to digress. After all, we are sprayed with Murder inc. ink’s all day long on that blog 😉 (no offense HK)

    Posted by 3issa | May 19, 2011, 5:38 pm
  169. 3issa,
    To counter your argument, there are scores of countries that broke off larger bodies, or empires as you refer , only to serve its inhabitants better. Independence and sovereignty are not bad words,its just that in the case of Lebanon , its inception was built upon laws and standards that served the self interest of colonial powers, vassals, and the ruling elite. Perhaps the French thought a secular democracy based on their own experience was too foreign a concept for these commoners of the Levant.

    It doesn’t mean Lebanon cannot work. Every time the ME farts, Lebanon becomes a furnace, and people start recommending Federalism or integration with mother Syria. Both are extremist in nature, given the realities on the ground.

    Posted by Maverick | May 19, 2011, 6:25 pm
  170. I dunno which speech I found more amusing;
    Obama’s or Wiam Wahhabs speech threatening to burn the whole ME if Syria was touched.

    Posted by Maverick | May 19, 2011, 6:47 pm
  171. I actually agree with Issa on this matter, to a degree.
    I mean, in a sense, it’s too late now to debate this mootly academic point.

    But yeah, in general, Lebanon has shown time and again that it is incapable of governing itself. What is more, the Lebanese people have shown very clearly (At least, to me) that they have never thought of themselves as Lebanese first. Not EVER.

    All the hubbub about Palestinian causes and refugees, demographics, etc. All the excuses about Syria and Israel and Iran interfering, etc. All that would be MOOT if the Lebanese were Lebanese first. So yes, Issa, you are correct. Lebanon’s very inception and existence are the cause of all that is wrong with our country. The rest is just excuses.

    If the Lebanese were Lebanese first, and not sunnis, or shias or Christians, the Palestinian refugees and demographics issue would be a non-issue, we wouldn’t have had repeated civil wars and we certainly wouldn’t stand for it to be interfered with by Iranians, Syrians or Israelis.

    We’ve opened the door to that interference ourselves by being sectarian and paranoid and suspicious about each other, preferring to side with foreign patrons than with each other.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 19, 2011, 7:01 pm
  172. Wiam Wahhab is certainly a clown…

    I’d love to see him shoved kicking and screaming into and across the border fence with Israel, where he could “liberate” Palestine and the Golan all by himself, since he’s apparently so capable of defending the Syrian regime and whoever else with his fists alone…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 19, 2011, 7:02 pm
  173. BV,
    But still, it is a nation. There is a common denominator between all peoples of the Lebanon.Were talking on a cultural level, including mentalities, attitudes, idiosyncrasies etc. Not to mention an inner desire for unity expressed in nationalistic events such as sport and politics.In that regard, it does have a distinct identity apart from its neighbours.
    If the debate is purely based on pragmatism, then, lets say if it did “work”, would that be sufficient enough to qualify it as successful?
    Its failure to govern itself is an attribute to the reckless system of governance, the constitution and those entrenched players that manipulate it.

    Posted by Maverick | May 19, 2011, 7:18 pm
  174. BV,

    I think we share the same idea here,,, all this external factors/threats are just fig leaves to hide what seems to be a blatant reality: there is no such thing as Lebanese national sentiment. Not only now, but EVER.

    I’m not Lebanese, so this judgement is pretentious, I admit it.

    It reminds me of a post from R2D2 asking how much Lebanese is Lebanon…this question has been left unanswered.

    Maverick, indeed many independence has proven to be successful, no one can dispute that; But how many “non-independence” has proven to be successful? (its like looking on the few planes with delays whereas million others arrives on time)… just imagine all these successful countries in the world (almost all) where its regions and provinces has not seceded.

    Posted by 3issa | May 19, 2011, 7:34 pm
  175. rather rather:
    where “their” regions and provinces has not seceded.

    Posted by 3issa | May 19, 2011, 7:36 pm
  176. Maverick,
    The manifestation of the Nation as you call it, should not only occur during ping-pong world cup or any other giant humus chauvinist non-sense…but rather when the unity of the country is at stake, when the interest of each group needs to leave the room for the interest of all.
    I don’t think that Lebanon has ever impressed in that matter.

    Posted by 3issa | May 19, 2011, 7:45 pm
  177. To deny it a chance in the future because it hasnt “impressed” is a little shallow for my liking. You are basically arguing the clash of civilizations mentality,but lets say it did integrate into Syria, how would that fix things? how would that create harmony between sects? and if Syria, in the future, becomes shaky, wouldnt the same argue apply?
    Many countries have the sectarian issues within their borders, some more veiled than others. However, some countries have the right set of rules and laws to keep the peace and some sort of equality between citizens.
    This is Lebanons problem; in that, it is the system that limits the progressive outward expansion of mentalities and attitudes of the Lebanese. If it were changed overnight,say to a forward thinking secular and egalitarian system, it would effect the national culture and mind set and gradually tribal allegiances would give way to a more spatial socio-cultural identity.
    In the end people are influenced by their immediate environment, and it is the politics of fear that consolidates and fortifies tribal identity and blind allegiance.

    Posted by Maverick | May 19, 2011, 8:03 pm
  178. Anyone invade Lebanon today? No? I thought as much. You know who to thank.

    Posted by dontgetit | May 19, 2011, 9:06 pm
  179. #179.
    A. Carlos edde’s crack unit of commandos
    B. HK with Murder Inc?

    Posted by danny | May 19, 2011, 9:50 pm
  180. AIG,

    I was wondering which Louis De Funes movie to pin on you.

    Without contestation. L’Avare.

    Posted by R2D2 | May 19, 2011, 10:00 pm
  181. Am I the only one who is attaching importance to a sentence in the Obama address that seems to have gone unmentioned by any analysts commentators. When he asked Israel to pull back all its troops to within its borders wasn’t he asking in a veiled way for a Palestinian state with no Israeli presence in the Jordan valley? That is a first for the US isn’t it?

    Posted by ghassan karam | May 19, 2011, 10:37 pm
  182. Gus,
    lets hear him say that at the AIPAC summit coming up…..

    Posted by Maverick | May 19, 2011, 10:42 pm
  183. Obama is a failure. Full stop.

    Posted by iceman | May 19, 2011, 10:44 pm
  184. Obama didn’t even mention Lebanon once in his speech. Don’t know if that’s good or bad. Maybe because there’s no government, lol. No government, no complaints or protests, life is good.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | May 19, 2011, 10:54 pm
  185. BV # 104,
    I am sorry that I did not note the above post any earlier.
    I am not sure that the fact that very few are aware of the constitution makes its shameful constant disregard any easier to accept.
    Lord of the Flies by Willian Golding is a perfect description of what happens when the Piggys of the world loose their struggle to maintain rules and regulations. Remember how his eye glasses were crushed by the leader of the rebels? To me that is reminiscent of HA and its allies in Lebanon denying anyone the opportunity to establish a sovereign and strong state.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 19, 2011, 10:57 pm
  186. Maverick,
    I need to go and re read the speech again but if my memory is not playing tricks on me this is one statement that cannot be neglected. (I am not claiming that I know how the White House works bur I bet that every word and every comma in such a speech is vetted over and over again.
    The record calls for skepicism but logic also says that we cannot blame him if he does not take a position and also blame him if he does. I see this as a small step in the right direction. It would be intersting to see what the PA is going to say in addition to the government of Egypt.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 19, 2011, 11:03 pm
  187. a small step in the right direction?

    Thats what everybody thought of the UN resolutions 242. and the multiple others that followed. Yes, one small step forward , two steps back…

    Posted by Maverick | May 19, 2011, 11:32 pm
  188. Maverick,
    If 242 was so wrong then why is everyone using it as a guide to what a settlement should be?
    My guess is that your frustration is not with 242 but with the fact that it has not been implemented. But then you neglect the fact that Chapter VI resolutions have no enforcement mechanisms. So be careful not to throw away the baby with the dirty water:-)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 19, 2011, 11:46 pm
  189. No, I meant the return to the 1967 borders is nothing new under the sun, i.e. UN 242.
    It has been ignored for that long. Obamas mention of this, and the fact that his mentioning is seen as a step forward is in someway a mockery to proceedings.

    Posted by Maverick | May 20, 2011, 12:07 am
  190. The new tactic of the Syrian regime apologists is to portray Obama as another GWB. This is just stretching nonsense to its most absurd limits. But the reasoning from an apologist’s point of view is very logical. It simply means that Syria is facing the same perceived threats that it purportedly faced during the Iraqi invasion under Bush. The regime is quite comfortable with such propaganda. First it can justify to itself and many like-minded ideologues the draconian repressions that it has decided to impose on the Syrians. Secondly it will justify its inability to implement so-called reforms under the excuse of an external threat that takes priority. Rukn Abadi announced on OTV today that there is no such thing as an uprising in Syria. Instead, he said, it is an outside conspiracy.

    The truth of the matter is that Obama is more of a Chamberlain than a Texan cowboy evangelist with a trigger happy mentality. After almost a 1000 dead and tens of thousands in detention Obama still expects Assad to do some reform, perhaps naively unaware that such pronouncement by White House officials is only interpreted as a license for more killing by the despot.

    You should see the picture of Obama accompanying the new SC post rendered to a GWB look-alike complete with an imitation hairdo, a GWB smile as well as a similar skin tone. It is the work of a ‘genius’ turned mad.

    Posted by iceman | May 20, 2011, 1:25 am
  191. Maverick #174

    Gonna have to disagree with you on this one. There has never been a Lebanese identity of any kind. “Inner desire for unity”? Really? When? Where? Never seen it.
    “Common denominator”? What common denominator? That they’re all selfish tribalistic bastards who think they’re superior to everyone else? (If I hear one more “We invented the alphabet” I’m gonna throw up).

    Give me a break. Lebanese have never shown one iota of nationalism. Not once. The only common denominator they’ve ever had is that they were “forced” together into a country by the colonial powers. They were never satisfied with that and started pretty much immediately working towards each’s own disparate ends. Not once has there been any party/group/leader/constituency who has worked for the common good and the aspirations of the nation as a whole. NOT ONCE.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 20, 2011, 1:55 am
  192. Nationalism does not have to be given the traditional definition, it can also be given a multi-communal dimension. That communal allegiances are obvious but also there is an overlapping and enmeshed feelings of “we-ness”.

    Posted by Maverick | May 20, 2011, 2:51 am
  193. The most dangerous brand of spin in Obomba’s speech, are these clever brainy outfits like WINEP which combine real info, real analysis with their deadly brand of spin – do not trust WINEP with any conclusions about the Arab world, Arab leadership, oil, military-industrial, war or peace processes, Israel, POLICY recommendations on ANYTHING involving the Middle East or North Africa…WINEP is the original viper nest Susan Rice and Tony Lake crawled out of, for Christ’s sake…listening to them is like reading some fine vintage Karl Rove analysis and policy recommendations – brilliantly intelligent and perversely deviant and deadly vertiginous political spin on top of everything…
    How long will the rest of the world put-up with two-faced hypocritical Western policies that ooze out of Washington’s Zioconish back rooms? The delusional, slimy bastards hang-on by a thread, as they grasp the world by the throat, maintaining the illusion of sanity with these duplicitous policies of playing both sides of the same coin. Their position is so weak, if the American majority would only realize it. Nothing keeps the game going at this point, but the power of the utter lies.

    Posted by HK | May 20, 2011, 3:13 am
  194. The most dangerous brand of spin in Obomba’s speech, are these clever brainy outfits like WINEP which combine real info, real analysis with their deadly brand of spin – do not trust WINEP with any conclusions about the Arab world, Arab leadership, oil, military-industrial, war or peace processes, Israel, POLICY recommendations on ANYTHING involving the Middle East or North Africa…WINEP is the original viper nest Susan Rice and Tony Lake crawled out of, for Christ’s sake…listening to them is like reading some fine vintage Karl Rove analysis and policy recommendations – brilliantly intelligent and perversely deviant and deadly vertiginous political spin on top of everything…
    How long will the rest of the world put-up with two-faced hypocritical Western policies that ooze out of Washington’s Zioconish back rooms? The delusional, slimy bastards hang-on by a thread, as they grasp the world by the throat, maintaining the illusion of sanity with these duplicitous policies of playing both sides of the same coin. Their position is so weak, if the American majority would only realize it. Nothing keeps the game going at this point, but the power of the utter lies since 1995…

    Posted by HK | May 20, 2011, 3:15 am
  195. Sorry about the unintentional double post.

    Posted by HK | May 20, 2011, 3:16 am
  196. To read more: http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=272830&MID=101&PID=2#ixzz1MtBKZNLs
    Only 25% of a given NOW Lebanon article can be republished. For information on republishing rights from NOW Lebanon: http://www.nowlebanon.com/Sub.aspx?ID=125478

    Posted by mj | May 20, 2011, 6:56 am
  197. Sorry, unintended launch:( Can somebody erase it?

    Posted by mj | May 20, 2011, 7:01 am
  198. Ghassan,

    I think you are reading too much into this. Firstly Hamas has to accept the state of Israel. Secondly the 1967 borders are not anything new. He explicitly said with swap of land as well. The devil is in the details when it comes to the borders security. If Israel is living in peace with its neighbors why would they think the 1967 borders would be indefensible?

    Obama walked a middle line and set up neatly the table for the Palestinians to show how much is their supposed unity agreement is worth on paper.

    We will see the activity on the ground in DC as Bibi should be there this week end.

    Posted by danny | May 20, 2011, 7:36 am
  199. The next step against Syria should be a UN security council resolution…IMHO Bashar has a month left to make his infamous reforms visible…Then the chorus will be more in sync in asking for his removal.

    Posted by danny | May 20, 2011, 7:39 am

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