Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah, Lebanon, March 14

Lebanon’s Political Honeypot: What’s Behind the Telecoms Spat

The following commentary is by a well-informed reader of this blog who goes by the pseudonym “Charles”. He was one of the authors of the excellent Lebanese Political Journal blog (largely defunct since about 2007, but a must-read during the post-Hariri assassination years), and his intervention provides some much-needed context on the larger issues behind the telecoms showdown in Lebanon.

Reader Commentary by “Charles”

It appears that the basic problem is a lack of state accountability. Two oligarchic factions are standing off against one another.

The discussion to privatize Ogero goes back to the days of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri (and Finance Minister Fouad Siniora) who had the political and economic clout to privatize Ogero and make it his own. From 2003-4, the Syrians severely limited Hariri’s privatizations, which resulted in Moody’s downgrading Lebanon’s bond rating, as the government was not following its own debt restructuring program according to the guidelines set out in Paris II, which included promises to privatize the telecommunications network, the electrical grid, MEA, amongst other things.

Of course, the re-election of Lahoud and the removal of Hariri put everything else on hold, but Hariri’s men remained in their positions in the ministries waiting for their leader to return to power. Omar Karami’s (and Finance Minister Elias Saliba’s) failures alongside Syrian heavy handedness almost guaranteed Hariri’s return to power and a return to privatizations.

When M14 won the 2005 elections and then negotiated Paris III, the privatizations were supposed to continue, but did not because of opposition from Jumblatt, Berri, and Hezbollah, who humiliated Hariri and Siniora by rudely making their opposition to privatization known during the PM and Finance Minister’s meetings in New York and DC (something we saw them do once again to topple Hariri’s gov’t in 2011).

The telecoms privatization continued to fester under Marwan Hamade who, despite his affiliation with the March 14th coalition (M14), also had problems with Abdel Monem Youssef who was still waiting to become the director of the newly privatized Ogero and make his millions. The M14 appointed and affiliated director of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) Kamal Shehadeh had major problems with both Hamade and Youssef.

The transfer of telecoms to Gebran Bassile was a remarkably intelligent move by Michel Aoun. Without a financial power base of his own, Aoun needed a source of wealth to finance his politics, and he went to the same sources of money that finance a huge portion of Lebanese government operating costs: (1) foreign backers; (2) and the government owned telecommunications networks that allow Lebanese to do what we do best: talk on cell phones.

Since then, both specific interests within the Future Movement (not the entire party, and definitely not all of M14) and specific interests within the FPM (not the entire party, and definitely not all of the March 8th coalition [M8]) have determined the debate over telecommunications. This debate went from being nasty under Gebran Bassile to being an all out war under Charbel Nahhas, under whose tenure the esteemed technocratic TRA head Shehadeh resigned in disgust (Shehadeh’s personality and political disposition is remarkably similar to Ziad Baroud).

Hariri/Siniora provide political backing and will reap the profit; Rifi provides enforcement; and Youssef holds the fort. Aoun/Bassile provide the political backing and will reap the profit; Nahhas, OTV, and the ISF Embassy division (this division swears allegiance to the FPM?) provides the enforcement; and Aoun holds the fort through tedious negotiations over cabinet formations.

In the mean time, Hezbollah established their own network, thus by-passing the squabbling over privatizations, making millions (if not billions) using its own telecommunications network, weakened the Lebanese government through depriving it of one of its greatest sources of revenue (receipts from telecommunications traffic), provided cheaper and better communications for its partisans and others, and defending its own interests with its weapons.

Sure, there is espionage stuff going on – which Future, the FPM, Hezbollah, Israel, etc. like to play up because once it is brought up Lebanese brains stop behaving rationally, but its really about who reaps the spoils from the biggest honey pot in the country.

The current squabble is over the privatization of Ogero and the possible creation of a third mobile network. Aoun and Bassile refused to play the Lebanese political game in which they would have made a deal with Hariri and received a cut (Lebanon’s system of creating consensus), and have been trying to take the candy away from Hariri/Youssef for years. Nahhas has been the most effective at dismantling the Hariri/Youssef network, which is why the relationship between the two factions has become so nasty. They don’t understand why Aoun isn’t playing by the corrupt rules of Lebanese politics with them, even though he does with almost every other faction.

Youssef hunkering down created a stalemate to be resolved in the future. Nahhas is trying to resolve the situation now, because…

Enter Najib Miqati, and the situation becomes an emergency for both FM and FPM, which is why they are behaving so badly at this precise moment. The Miqati billions were created through telecommunications. Taha Miqati was a small time construction contractor in Khaleej until he established his satellite communications up link, which created enough profit for the Miqati brothers to make their billions. Their business relationships with the Assad regime (and more specifically with Rami Makhlouf) involve telecommunications.

If Miqati gets the telecoms portfolio in the next government, Hariri will cut a deal and Youssef will get his pay out (and he’s been waiting a long, long time). Aoun and Bassile get screwed. However, Hariri has a much worse hand with which to negotiate if Youssef doesn’t have a full network and doesn’t have a large base of operations that he controls.

Miqati has the political might to privatize the telecoms networks, or at least upgrade them, but he will have to cut deals all around, including with HA, Berri, and Jumblatt. Hariri is in a much better position if Youssef is in a dominant position. Youssef can throw a wrench in the works of any future privatization deal.

Nahhas technically had the right to take his action with the equipment, but the FPM isn’t following the “no victor, no vanquished” consensus model of Lebanese politics. They made it personal, and Future is responding in a surprisingly immature manner given how much they have to lose in this.
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Discussion

414 thoughts on “Lebanon’s Political Honeypot: What’s Behind the Telecoms Spat

  1. I find myself in complete agreement with iceman re The usa’s economic and political situation. The debts accumulating and The hubris wars are unsustainable to say The least ! US debt is junk already if IT was not for The utter control of Moody’s, fitch etc by US oligarchs …..Usa is On par with Greece And The US dollar is worthless ! 🙂

    Posted by Hk | June 2, 2011, 4:12 am
  2. Ghassan,

    EIU forecasts for US growth in Q4 2011 are 3.1% quarter on quarter and 2.9% y-o-y.

    As this is a Lebanon blog, I should add that we have revised our 2011 growth forecast for Lebanon down severely to 1.3%.

    Posted by EIU | June 2, 2011, 5:31 am
  3. In China, It is “the mountain going to Buddha, not Buddha going to the mountain”..it is not rural-urban migration…but industries and factories migrating to rural China.!

    Mostly, China is helped by perhaps these two things: 1) the Chinese people, along with their leaders, are keen on finding solutions to whatever problems which are confronting them, whatever they may be –
    the can-do attitude – but not on frivolous activities like trying to grow bigger balls 🙂 or sending in 79 SEALs on a bunch of Blackhawks to murder somebody who was unarmed and yet without anything to show
    for- and 2) China is not burdened down by wars, not to mention trillion-dollar Hubris wars, and the infamous White House Murder INC, like in the Zioconned USA.

    For the bigger balls reference, please see Rowson’s cartoon at :

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cartoon/2011/apr/16/obama-cameron-sarkozy-libya-article

    For the 79 SEALs, it’s Noam Chomsky’s count on the number sent to kill Bogey/phony “bin Laden” and then eliminate all the forensic evidence on those they killed….?

    This is the kind of game of deception the Nobel Peace Prize winner Manchurian candidate Barack Obomba plays in order to remain spokesman for the war machine which has increasingly administered blows to Mother Earth and
    the defenseless ones of our brothers and sisters on this same planet, from central America to Darfur and a whole host of other places in between.

    Shame on you, teleprompter Obomba who has betrayed the trust of so many in America who have elected you in hope that you would do better than your criminal predecessors and of so many of those in the vast continent of Africa & MENA who thought you would share their hope and dream: to be once
    and for all respected, instead of being ignored and trampled upon.

    Oh, Libya, Granddaughter of Io, Grandmother of Europa, and Incarnation of the falling rain, a land of the ancient Mediterranean civilization and the miracle of the Great Man Made River of the modern times, the
    Europeans and their servants are heaving with a pulsating lust after your luscious goods….

    The inside Job of 9-11 & sneaky-snake false-flag terrorists: The Big Six…

    http://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart/main?gclid=CNqOmuiWkqkCFUN-5Qodiw-TpQ

    Posted by HK | June 2, 2011, 5:57 am
  4. Yes, we little jihadists are so sweet and innocent. We murder thousands of innocent people in the US, Europe, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    And our terrorism is just enough to get some sympathizers and spineless politicians in the US to support our goal of isolating Israel. In the rest of world we just like murdering for fun.

    Have a nice fatwa!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Qaeda

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 2, 2011, 6:54 am
  5. The utterly corrupt & Zioconned FBI can work two years on ‘capturing’ a couple of dupes but when it comes to getting some very dangerous domestic US Ziocon terrorists they seem to fall short. I don’t remember any indictments for the liars who sent US killers into Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, Afghanistan and Libya, using JSOC, SOCOM, OSP and Cheney’s infamous White House Murder INC. Killing a million or more people, stealing resources and enabling the heroin trade must be OK. Destruction of evidence at the crime scene of the obvious inside Job of 9/11 would seem to be an indictable offense but the FBI must not think so. Wall Street is full of Bernie Madoff types but they just keep on keeping on… AIPAC is a foreign spy nest and bribers and intimidators of government officials but that kind of mobster activity is off limits to an FBI roundup.

    Even when the FBI does its job as it did in arresting and detaining dozens of Israelis on and right after 9/11, someone pulls the strings and no indictments are forthcoming.

    It’s lucky the FBI has a few dumb patsies they can chase around for years. Otherwise Congress could do some deficit cutting at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue and we would never notice the difference. 🙂

    Posted by HK | June 2, 2011, 7:06 am
  6. HK says:
    “US debt is junk already” . You like throwing incendiary devices don’t you? 🙂
    Making such statements is useless unless you have data to support it and unless your analysis is objective and applies by applying a standard measure on a global basis and unless it recognizes the different nature of the debt and its structure. I thought that we had discussed this once earlier but let me just remind you of three things:

    (1) US national debt is denominated in its own currency. Very few countries can say that, if any.

    (2) A little bit less than half, I do not have the time to look it up, is intra US government agencies i.e almost half of the US debt is NOT held by the public.

    (3) The US is arguably one of the very few countries in the world, and possibly the only one, that can practice interest rate repression on a large scale. (Keep the interest rate lower than the rate of growth in the economy).

    And finally remember also that 85% of the $5 Trillion daily transactions in foreign exchange involve dollars. There is no other currency that can step in to replace it at the moment.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 2, 2011, 7:30 am
  7. Iceman,
    Re:191

    Did you falter or were you inhaling the second hand ganGa (happy Gabe?) smoke from Cheech? 😀

    Source: Statistics Canada
    Per capita benefit is derived from provincial population data in other Wiki articles and the total payments cited below.

    Quebec and Manitoba will receive the most from equalization payments in the 2010-2011 year.[3]
    However, per capita, PEI benefits the most. In the 2010-2011 year, the following provinces will receive equalization payments:[3]

    Quebec ($8.552 billion)
    Manitoba ($1.826 billion)
    New Brunswick ($1.581 billion)
    Nova Scotia ($1.11 billion)
    Ontario ($972 million)
    Prince Edward Island ($330 million)

    Until last year Ontario had never been a recipient of Equalization payments…but as you see the black hole Quebec is receiving the most $8,552 billion for 2010-2011 year. It is $1,071 per capita for Quebec vs. a paltry $27 for Ontario.

    Care to revise your statement senior??

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equalization_payments_in_Canada#Regional_fiscal_disparities_in_Canada

    Posted by danny | June 2, 2011, 8:04 am
  8. As we have often said one is entitled to ones opinion but not to ones facts.
    The country that does not produce anything anylonger is the largest manufacturer in the world by far.
    And then let us hasten to add that the hallmark of a developed economy is to have less and less manufacturing and more and more services. The information society is a services oriented one and so if we recognize that fact then we realize that large steel mills and other large scale manufacturing activities were the hallmarks of the 1950’s. The world is best served through specialization determined by comparative advantage. It is very clear that in modern society human capital is at least as important for determining the level of welfare as natural resources.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 2, 2011, 8:08 am
  9. Danny 🙂

    That was a spelling mistake from my part :). I post through the blackberry, so am prone to spelling errors :). LoL. I was laughing since I didnt quite understand HKs comment.

    Back to HK.

    Im not being facetious. It really is an honest question. Does SHN think that Hobeika was in fact innocent for S&C?

    Since you haven’t been forthcoming with an affirmative answer. I will assume that no, SHN doesn’t think Hobeika is innocent. (Anyone else jump in if this is wrong).

    How then can you explain putting both Hobeika and SHN to hero status?

    Posted by Gabriel | June 2, 2011, 8:47 am
  10. HK,
    There is a problem with sovereign debt practically all across the globe and yes governments have to take measures to deal with it. That is a fact
    It is your statement that US debt is junk and that the rating agencies favour it that is the problem. There isn’t much to support it. You link to a washington times article that says the US debt is approaching 90% of GDP. So. Japanese is 225% Belgian is over a hundred and the rest of Europe is above 80%.
    There is a major difference though and that is that all US debt is in dollars and that half of it is owed to other Government agencies. For example: In order to pay Social Security $100 billion the US can borrow a hundred billion without affecting its total debt. Total indebtedness to social security goes down by a 100 and that to others increases by a 100. Net result no change except in the composition.

    As for the link to a statement by a relatively junior representative who is looking for attention it is far from being athe objective statement that I asked for.

    Greece has no Euros and can print no Euroa and therefore can go technically bankrupt. The US is not is such a shape. Relative to most otghers it is in a good shape. The largest bond fund in the world has stopped buying US debt because of the very low interest rate . This simply is saying that those with financial capital are willing to hols US debt at very low interest rates. They do that only because they think that it is practically riskless. US treasuries are viewed by capital markets as a riskless security. This is changing a little bit but US treasuries are still looked upon as the safest haven.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 2, 2011, 8:56 am
  11. Danny,

    Your statistics only goes to prove my point. They (hateful TO’s) are on the receiving end. They say this year is going to be even higher (about $2 billion). It also proves my other point about the US being kaput, since ‘hateful’ TO was always in cahoots with them yanks as we can see clearly from some of them who post here.

    I recently had lunch with Texan WASP who had no qualms exposing himself as such and uttering all kinds of nonsense in support of Palin and describing the Dems as the biggest failures in US history forgetting GWB’s $2 trillion war on So Dam Hussein. He (Texan) proposed a new plan for dividing this continent along new borders outlined by certain oil and gas pipelines stretching from Texas all the way through Saskatchewan, Alberta, BC and into Alaska. I believe such plan would drastically affect those statistics economically in favour of the West if they don’t end up getting diverted south. So it is worthy proposal to consider coming from such quarters as those of GWB!!! But the problem is, are we going to replace hateful TO’s with waspi Yankee yuppies? Besides what will happen to NY and the Californians. Those Calis would probably want to suck every drop of water from BC which we urgently need for the oil sands of AB.

    Posted by iceman | June 2, 2011, 9:17 am
  12. EIU #202
    Thanks for the info. This year and next are going to be very pivotal for Lebanon. It does not take a genius to figure out that when your debt is larger than the GDP and when you finance that debt by paying an interest rate that is above 7% that the Debt/GDP will grow when the GDP increases by only 1.3%.
    The sooner our politicians and public realize that we have no choice but to restructure the better. Postponing the inevitable will only make things worse.
    The only way for Lebanon to escape this debt trap is to have a group of countries agree to forgive a major chunk of debt. There is no other way since we cannot inflate ourselves out of this mess even if we wanted to. The higher is our inflation then the larger would be the rate of interest demanded to finance the debt. I wish the Lebanese public will become more aware of this issue in order to push the politicians to find the least painful option.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 2, 2011, 9:19 am
  13. ” since ‘hateful’ TO was always in cahoots with them yanks ”

    LoL.

    Hmm. This is coming from Ice “Drill Baby Drill” Man, who appears to be the West’s Tar Sands greatest supporter.

    Mallah Smallah. Canadian, and doesn’t know where support for the US is highest in this country ;).

    Dude, it’s time for you to give up that passport and move back to Saudi. You’ve milked the system here long enough.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 2, 2011, 9:30 am
  14. Iceman,

    Wow…You really can’t see the forest for the trees…The stats prove that ONTARIO (Not Toronto) was recipient for the FIRST TIME EVER…While your black hole called Quebec has been sucking us dry for decades.

    Now I will keep your “prediction” on file and follow up later. You really are getting bad at the spins lol. Admit it that Quebec is a welfare state. 😀

    Posted by danny | June 2, 2011, 9:33 am
  15. …and Iceman, seriously did you understand the Southern Drawl or something was lost in the translation of your fictitious redrawing of borders…Either you are hanging around the top “Neocon Nazis White house Murder Inc” or HK.

    Now tell me why do you not see clearly and are submerging yourself in a cloud?

    Posted by danny | June 2, 2011, 9:48 am
  16. GK # 211;

    Points well taken but Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland seem to be the only ones targeted by the raters…with more to follow next year. That’s the consensus in Europe about US rating agencies…

    Where is Moody’s on this: 🙂

    Horror for US Economy as Data Falls off Cliff!

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/43239586

    Posted by HK | June 2, 2011, 9:55 am
  17. HK #217,
    The PIIGS are the most vulnerable. These countries have done what we have done in Lebanon. They borrowed and borrowed and spent the borrowing inefficiently and on unproductive projects. The EU shares a big part of the blame for this, Sovereign debt in Europe is similar to subprime in the US. The European banks did not question the ability of these governments to carry this debt.They will not be the last ones Remember that the rating agencies added both the US and Japan to the negative watch list. It is possible that the world will not have a single AAA rated sovereign debt.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 2, 2011, 10:06 am
  18. HK #217
    I neglected to comment on the CNBC link. A number of the aggregate measures for last month were weaker than expected in an already weak economy but the economy is still growing while many of the economies in trouble are contracting and will not see any growth for a couple of years in some circumstances. If last month does not turn out to be an aberration then one would need to reevaluate.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 2, 2011, 10:11 am
  19. Danny,

    How many times I told you I am on the West coast BC. I don’t know if are in the Maritimes or the central where TO is in the middle of receiving ON. I only visit Quebec once in a moontime mostly for business.

    Anyway, those statistics only prove that all of you are costing us so much. And believe me that Texan was dead serious. I am beginning to consider the merits of his proposalM. Only problem now is cowboy Harper is in Ottawa still bribing those BQ’s to keep them in for hateful TO to have leverage against the Yanks.

    Posted by iceman | June 2, 2011, 10:16 am
  20. GK,

    Thanks for your thoughtful commentary.

    I am only voicing here what the Europeans are regurgitating daily…

    The Europeans are saying out loud that US rating agencies are out to get them, one country at a time 🙂

    CIA report talks of a possible military coup if the situation becomes more serious and uncontrolled in Greece….

    Or is it that the Greek government (with the support of the opposition) will be telling their military to put down the unrest like in Yemen or Bahrain….if it should get out of hand…. Is this what the US is after in Europe too 🙂

    http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=report-military-coup-possible-in-greece-2011-05-29

    CIA Now Thinks Greece Military Coup Possible — Business Insider

    http://www.businessinsider.com/cia-now-thinks-greece-military-coup-possible-2011-6

    Too much debt …. uncontrollable spending …. an unwillingness to do anything about it …. a perfect cocktail for a mess. But my concern is that if history is any indication, great economic dislocations and depressions were always followed by great wars …. hmmm …. one more worry to ponder on.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1393237/US-economy-Were-verge-great-great-depression.html

    Posted by HK | June 2, 2011, 10:32 am
  21. Wow you guys are truly big on digressions. ADD anyone? 😉

    Ghassan, since we’re on the subject of the Lebanese economy, what are the prospects for the LBP? Shall I buy an apartment on the corniche and take a loan in LBP? 😉

    Posted by Erasmus | June 2, 2011, 10:35 am
  22. Danny,

    Don’t bother with Iceman. As I stated here:

    https://qifanabki.com/2011/05/02/camille-otrakji-syria-protests/#comment-23373

    “Friendly suggestion: why don’t you sort out all that mess that’s in your head before splashing it all over these pages.”

    He doesn’t have a cohesive thought in his head.

    Right now, he’s not sure if he should insult this province or that province because it is a Have-Not province or because it is Pro-American.

    Given that he’s in the West Coast, earning his keep (apparently) from work related to the Oil industry (any surprise he loves the Saudis so much), he seems to have brushed aside just how pro-American they are.

    Just moments ago, he complained to V, when the latter jokingly suggested invading Canada to improve economic performance in the US:

    “That’s all you guys (V) are good for, right?”

    Now, he’s changed his position to:

    “And believe me that Texan was dead serious. I am beginning to consider the merits of his proposalM. ”

    Does Iceman love America? Hate America? Is his “only” issue with HA that they allegedly assassinated some people? Or does he have other issues with them? Does he support the ouster of Saddam (America’s mistake being dismantling the army)? Or does he not?

    Does he support the Baath? Yes? No? He says he doesn’t like Baath V1.0. But he likes the new Authentic Baath V2.0 that is coming up. What are the differences? Is he just a master sloganeer like his Eminence Hassan Nasrallah and Bashar Assad? Does he want the Arab world to live the next 30 years with more empty vacuous slogans? Yes? No?
    Did Saudi Arabian diplomacy really fix the Yemen problem (since the US was cast aside and is irrelevant in the region)? This is an assertion he made over a month ago. But still there is war and killing in the Yemen. Has Saudi Arabian Diplomacy been an abject failure? Yes? No? Going back to HP’s question: Is that Robert Fisk article really that good? Does Iceman agree that Saudi Arabia’s regime is attrocious? Yes? No? Or is it, as he had said previously an “Honorable” Absolute Monarchy?

    Wow. In this one post, I’ve posed so many questions. Don’t hold your breath for any answers.

    Iceman doesn’t have the answers. Just lots of hot air.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 2, 2011, 11:10 am
  23. Who’s next on FPM list after Baroud? Could it be Riad Salameh?

    Posted by IHTDA | June 2, 2011, 12:45 pm
  24. Erasmus, every one lwould love to be able to now what will happen to the LL? At a personal level I would love to see it float. But I do not think that this is in the cards. The Lebanese situation is as dire as Greece, Portugal Ireland … except for one thing. The BDL holds 285 tons of goldvalued at around $15 billion.

    HKThe stories and interpretations that trouble in Europe benefits the US are bunk. We live in a completely different world than that which existed 20 -30 years ago. The international economy is built on interdependence and no one will benefit from a weaker economy espacially if it is a major one. The worst thing that can happen is to have the US, EU or China go into a recssion. The connection between all the economies is imports. A weak US will not import as many things from China and Germany who in turn will cut down on production and import less from others. The same thing will happen in the reverse.
    It is this interdependence that has made coordination a must between all the majors. They have no choice.
    The Euro has not been tested up until this year and so far it has not done vey well. The Greek and Irish and Portugese fiscal problems might not have occured had they not joined the Euro and even if they did they would have been able to devaluate their curency. They cannot do that now. That is why the UK is in a slightly better shapethan Greece … The debt load is as high but most of it is denominated in domestic currency. It will come to pass that the decision by the UK not to adopt the Euro was an excellent one. This is not the place to get into a lengthy discussion about the political economy issues but the Euro was essentially created to keep Germany in check. Well guess what? It did not work. People forget the the Italians, the French and the British opposed German unification when it happened because they were concerned about a new “German question” and so they came up with the idea of harmonizing policies through the Euro. I think that the Euro will survive but many on the periphery will have to reconsider whether they are ready to compete with Germany whose monetary requirements are not identical to those of say Greece. My point is that the last thing that the weaker than expected US wants is a weak EU. Both of them need all the help that they can get in an effort to revive the economic growth. (which I am opposed to ideologically, but that is a different story.)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 2, 2011, 12:48 pm
  25. GK;

    I fully agree with your general assessment of the interdependence of the new economies etc.
    But what we hear day in and day out by respected analysts in Europe since the 2008 debacle is that it is ALL the US’s fault with the onslaught brought about by the Sub-prime mess, CDSs, CDOs etc. which triggered a massive weakness of major European banks, etc etc, which got accentuated after TARP, QE1, QE2, EU infusions into Banking and other Stimulus etc.
    Then, everyone got caught up with their pants down following massive sovereign indebtedness which became unsustainable for most one at a time… and they are severely handicapped by what they see coming down the line. Germany is still best among all, but German and French Banks hold most of the PIIGS debt and they are at a loss on how to approach the Domino effect, which might undo the Euro!
    Now, everyone is focusing on the Raters, because of the follies brought about with enormous interest rates that Greece, Portugal etc. have to cough out…and YES, most are saying that it will be inevitable for Greece to exit the Euro soonest ?
    Nevertheless, most Europeans still think that their systemic well fare state subsidies on a large scale provide for a valuable cushion from social upheavals…but for how long? 🙂
    UK’s economy is still very weak, but they were very good at instituting massive budget cuts and lay-offs in the public sector, and of course the independence from the European central banking is a plus for now!

    Posted by HK | June 2, 2011, 1:12 pm
  26. The following is the new ranking for countries likelihood to default. Each institute and organization has a slightly different ranking order but most agree on about 6-7 of the top ten. What is interesting about this ranking is that Lebanon is not among the top ten but Iraq and Dubai are in the upper half of the list:

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/34465366?slide=11

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 2, 2011, 1:18 pm
  27. Gabriel…

    Iceman with hot air= water lol…

    iceman…You are slipping and just making outlandish comments without factual back up. I guess you think your comments equate facts? BC was the recipient of payment for a few years…Check the facts. Your dream of being USA citizen or Amewikan is easily accomplished. Join the CIA…They need good people like you.
    …and what’s your problem with Canada? Just a while back you were extolling its virtues and now you are firing scatter shot at every province. The oil boom will go bust soon and you still come begging to Central government for help. FYI BQ is in a trashcan….Sorry to disappoint you.

    Posted by danny | June 2, 2011, 1:37 pm
  28. GK#225

    Always good to see some sound reasoning. Excellent analysis re: currency issues and economics in Europe.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 2, 2011, 1:39 pm
  29. danny,

    Why do you always blow things out of proportion. I never said I want to become a US citizen. I could have become one long time ago. I only said I want to reconsider the Texan guy’s proposal. That is all. To see if there are any merits to it.

    Posted by iceman | June 2, 2011, 2:33 pm
  30. Ice #191,

    I agree with you. The markets have spoken yesterday and I think will speak more tomorrow.

    Posted by R2D2 | June 2, 2011, 2:36 pm
  31. Danny:

    Don’t mind Iceman. People like him couldn’t build a country in Lebanon. Now they are here in Canada, and don’t know what the value of citizenship is. Really, they should

    The mentality of “Us” and “You” is very much ingrained. We recall his context of using it in the Lebanon case “Without US, bla bla”. And now it comes again in the Canadian context.

    Actually Alberta and the Western provinces were “have-nots” prior to 1947 and throughout much of the 1950s and 1960s. BC continued as a have-not province for periods in the 90s, etc.

    Throughout this whole time, Ontario had never been (as it had never been in the entire history of Canada) a have-not, until this recent downturn.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 2, 2011, 2:43 pm
  32. I’m pulling out !!

    Gold at $2500 no longer is Science Fiction.

    Posted by R2D2 | June 2, 2011, 2:44 pm
  33. Incomplete sentance 1st paragraph:

    Really they should strip him off his citizenship and send him off to Saudi.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 2, 2011, 2:44 pm
  34. GK,

    Holding on to our Gold and the paper Dollar might be our saving economic grace 😉

    Posted by R2D2 | June 2, 2011, 2:47 pm
  35. I think it’s time to float the Lebanese pound.

    Posted by R2D2 | June 2, 2011, 2:48 pm
  36. R2D2,

    The thing about the debt limit cannot be overlooked. All this analysis is theoretical and most of it is propaganda to serve political agenda.

    But the May, June, July downturns are almost a yearly event. You may want to check in early August as there could be an upswing during the fall till November.

    In my opinion, the US economy is stagnant and structurally damaged beyond repair. The thing to look for and be worried about is the onset of deflation as alluded to in that article. When that happens then run away as it is the road to the abyss and that is when cataclysmic shifts will occur and protectionism takes over. All this talk about interconnectedness is fine and dandy but not when you own survival becomes at stake. For one thing, China only considers interconnection in as much as it can access your market in a one way sort of scenario. I wonder how long US and Europe can live with that.

    A Canadian citizen who is also from Hong Kong and owner of sizeable manufacturing facility once mentioned to me two countries you cannot do business with: India and China. You sell them your system today, a year later they come back and sell you a copy of it, sometimes even improved, at 3%0 or 40% of your cost. Go figure how to connect with them.

    …………..

    Guys,

    You may want to go back to Lebanon as OTV is predicting a government by the weekend. Mikati is not denying but looking for more forthcoming signals. IF it happens, then my explanation of the telecom saga was the right explanation.

    Posted by iceman | June 2, 2011, 2:59 pm
  37. Float the Lebanese Lira !!

    Let Lebanese determine their country’s value and currency.

    Posted by R2D2 | June 2, 2011, 3:04 pm
  38. Why is the Lebanese Lira pegged to the US Dollar?

    Doesn’t that say everything about Lebanon since we pegged to it ?

    Posted by R2D2 | June 2, 2011, 3:13 pm
  39. For all those reading:

    What exactly is the point being made in Post#237?

    Posted by Gabriel | June 2, 2011, 3:28 pm
  40. R2D2 #233,
    What is interesting about $2500 gold is the fact that it was the high in real terms set back in 1980. Anyone who bought then would break even when gold gets to 2500 if it ever does . Ouch.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 2, 2011, 4:25 pm
  41. What took so long? Both Zahra and Jreisaty are referring to Article 69 section 3 of the constitution that compels the Chamber to be in an extraordinary session as soon as the cabinet is considered to be resigned. Has this same issue been mentioned on this very blog umpteen times over the past year and a half. That is baffling.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 2, 2011, 5:49 pm
  42. iceman,

    Stop watching OTV…Just listen to us here. There will be no government until STL has issued its indictments…

    Or you can listen to Wahab…and believe that there will be no cabinet till fall…

    We have had these absurd every other week; so that they attack and blame each other. Utter nonsense.The maestro Bashar has not given the o.k.

    Posted by danny | June 2, 2011, 6:40 pm
  43. Danny,
    As it is becoming clearer every passing day the telecom fiasco had nothing to do with either OGERO as such or finances. It was all about the cabinet formation. The whole scheme was concocted to build up the beligerent credentials of Nahas in an attempt to keep him not only in the cabinet but as GMA would like at Telecom. Rifi might have acted against the letter of the law but aparently not against its spirit since the claims of Nahas have been refuted at every level. Yousef came back, OGERO challenged him to show that the network was working and he has failed to provide a viable explanation about why he had to do what he did. Why was he going to dismantle the equipment and what was he going to do with it and why was that matter so crucial that it had to be carried out in a mafiosi style. And the games go on.

    Posted by ghassan karam | June 2, 2011, 7:03 pm
  44. This popped up in my Youtube account because I had previously watched a Aoun clip:

    Posted by Gabriel | June 2, 2011, 7:27 pm
  45. Ghassan,

    Off course when the smoke clears and innuendo and misinformation from HA PR machine subsides we can all see the clear picture. It is more than any cabinet formation. It is dismantlement anything of substance that has been built and put together since 2005 that is not infiltrated by HA/Syrian agents. they are always after ISF because they have very little control over it. Same with Ogero.

    I still am firm in my belief that there will be No government. Again; I reiterate that all M8 “actors” (including Sleiman and Miqati)serve at the pleasure of Bashar. If Bashar so decided a one colour M8 cabinet will be formed within hours.

    Don’t expect anything else. All the other camouflaged rumours are just that!

    Posted by danny | June 2, 2011, 7:28 pm
  46. Gabriel,

    Young is echoing the sentiments that I have been harping on the past five months. It is about time that people see the total shenanigans that are being played publicly.

    however, I don’t get the rationale of MY when he says:
    ” In other words the party needs a government in place that it can dominate, both to bless its weapons and help it absorb the aftershocks of a tribunal indictment and radical change in Syria.”

    That’s so laughable I could cry. What stops such a government from collapsing if some parties abdicate? How does that give HA any power if Syria collapses and the fragile M8 cabinet splinters?

    It is absurd!!

    Posted by danny | June 2, 2011, 8:00 pm
  47. Danny…

    Isn’t that why you keep asking Elias to bring this topic up and give possible scenarios?

    I am not sure how things will play out. But I don’t necessarily think that with a new system in Syria, that this would necessarily translate to HA losing support.

    I agree with you, I don’t think the M8 alliance would necessarily hold. In fact I suspect it would not hold when radical changes happen in Syria. I think it would turn all the alliances in Lebanon upside down and inside out. So I’m not quite sure what to make of things.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 2, 2011, 9:32 pm
  48. Gabriel,

    I just feel sorry for the “resistance” camp when they run away and hide when crucial topics about the nation are discussed.

    QN…I am still waiting for a post about post “ME revolutions” and its implications on HA and thus Lebanon…

    It’s so quiet around today!!! I guess no spins!

    Gabriel, I do not profess to have all the answers; but for sure I have stayed the line! Where the hell are the freaking analysts? Why are they not trying to comment on Hamza el Khatib and his death? Why don’t they scrutinize why his parents will show up on Syrian State TV and praise Bashar???

    Elias wake up of the self imposed snooze!!! Ready for you and still waiting!!

    Posted by danny | June 3, 2011, 12:09 am
  49. Naharnet reports:

    “The United States has informed parties involved in the formation of the government that it had “vetoed” giving Hizbullah and its allies four main portfolios, al-Liwaa daily reported Thursday.
    The newspaper said that the vetoed ministries include the interior, defense, justice and telecommunications portfolios.”

    Let roar the righteous umbrage of outrage about foreign interference in Lebanese domestic affairs ……

    ………crickets………

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Who? said:

    “If Lebanon had a twitter account, I think I’d probably stop following it at this point.”
    9 hours ago

    Posted by lally | June 3, 2011, 12:45 am
  50. Danny

    Allow me to point out that Young was arguing for the exact opposite of what you and BV and others have said about the cabinet formation.

    You guys say it’s all about the Tribunal and about Hizbullah not wanting to allow the emergence of the state, yada yada yada…

    I said it’s about what’s happening next door (plus many other factors like Aoun’s lunacy, Hizbullah’s unease with going it alone without credible Sunni cover, etc.)

    As for the piece you keep asking me to write… I have no idea what to say. Why don’t you tell us what you think? 🙂

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 3, 2011, 5:59 am
  51. QN,

    I said he is using the same rationale. However, he is wrong attaching it only to current turmoil in Syria. Lebanon would have stayed without a government even if Syria was peachy!

    STL indictments if implicating Syria or HA cadres/agents will make a pariah state out of Syria if they don’t co operate. They need Lebanon in chaos to send those same messages MY was alluding to.

    Now you have to take my word for it. 😀

    lally; is that unsubstantiated stupid rumour your only “proof” of foreign interference? You are really clutching at straws. Aren’t you? You still can’t see why Syria(WHICH IS A FOREIGN POWER)is constantly interfering in Lebanon eh? You guys are beyond hopeless…

    Posted by danny | June 3, 2011, 6:37 am
  52. …and QN, I have been constant in my comments that Syria is the main engine not HA. HA alone can not take decisions unless they want to alienate their sugar daddy Bashar.

    Posted by danny | June 3, 2011, 6:39 am
  53. QN,

    Here is something interesting: 🙂

    هناك من يشير إلى العلاقة السرية بين إسرائيل وإيران وإلى الجهد الإسرائيلي لدى الكونغرس الأميركي لوقف الضغط على النظام في سورية والذي تقول أوساط أميركية أنه قلّ في الفترة الأخيرة

    Danny de Vito, your only constant has been that you are enamored with your sugar daddy Samir Geagea, the criminal assassin and thug in Chief, head of a CIA/MOSSAD proxy Militia. Take this buffoon back with you to Haifa soonest and spare us your dribble & lunacies. For your info, Bashar Assad is an insect, compared to the mighty Leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Hezbollah makes its own decisions, independent of Iran or Syria, especially since 2006…Bashar is a mere figurehead with no executive power whatsoever, when it comes to crucial national security matters pertaining to the Alawite crime Syndicate. Syria is run by a thuggish Mafia from the shadows.

    Posted by HK | June 3, 2011, 8:44 am
  54. GK;

    DEBT CEILING: Moody’s just threatened to slash the US credit rating. Moody’s warns of rising risk on US credit rating…. 🙂

    http://www.businessinsider.com/moodys-warns-on-us-debt-rating-2011-6

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/43255117

    Prophetic or what 🙂

    Posted by HK | June 3, 2011, 8:54 am
  55. QN:

    I said it’s about what’s happening next door (plus many other factors like Aoun’s lunacy, Hizbullah’s unease with going it alone without credible Sunni cover, etc.)

    what’s going on next door is still going on. So are the rumors of a gvmt this weekend true then?

    Also if HA killed Hariri as the STL seems to be suggesting what credible Sunni figure could back them? I’m sure they would like nothing better than legitimacy in every Leb’s eyes. But that’s not saying much. It is clearly no their driving force or they would have behaved differently.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 3, 2011, 9:03 am
  56. HK,

    Great dude.

    Posted by danny | June 3, 2011, 10:07 am
  57. danny.

    There’s plenty of proof of Uncle Sammie’s “interference” in Lebanon’s family business.

    But, some enabling family members simply refuse to acknowledge the debasement of their sovereignty by a perceived “benefactor”.

    Posted by lally | June 3, 2011, 10:27 am
  58. HK #256
    Technically the US can never ever default no matter how large the debt except if the congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling. Tea partyers are threatening to do that. This is very irresponsible since the debt ceiling is to pay for what the Congress has already approved. They have no right to repudiate previous expenditures but they are entitled to reduce future ones.
    Back to your point though, I hope that this also demonstrates that the rating agencies are “equal opportunity employers”.:-)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 3, 2011, 10:38 am
  59. Danny

    Your argument remains unconvincing to me. If the STL target Syria or Hizbullah, the lack of govt in Lebanon does not really serve either of those two parties. Lebanon can be thrown into chaos whether or not there is a govt.

    Gabriel

    Rumors, rumors, rumors… 🙂

    (If a govt is formed this weekend, then the only thing we’ll know for sure is that danny and BV [and AIG as well] were wrong about the factors preventing the deed from being done.] 🙂

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 3, 2011, 11:04 am
  60. PS: We’ll also know that the regime has turned the corner on the protests to the extent that it now feels comfortable enough to allow its allies to move forward.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 3, 2011, 11:08 am
  61. QN…Time will tell who were right all along. 😀
    Don’t cancel your vacations anticipating a cabinet anytime soon. Enjoy the summer…or at least till end of July when the STL brings down the indictments and all hell breaks loose.

    Posted by danny | June 3, 2011, 11:11 am
  62. QN, Danny,

    Just to be clear, I predicted there would be no government long before what happened in Syria.
    The main factor AT THE TIME was the STL and its impending indictments.
    I think that is still foremost in HA’s thinking process, but as we all know, the Syrian uprising has added another twist to the issue. Of course what’s going on next door affects our cabinet formation process. I never denied that. I just don’t think that it’s the main cause. As Danny stated, I too believe that even if everything was hunky dorey in Syria, we’d still have no cabinet. But things being as they are today, it’s just more reasons why we won’t have a cabinet anytime soon. There really is no need for one, in the minds of some people.
    I mean, the bills are still getting paid (kinda). Life continues on in Beirut. So what’s the rush? Nothing crucial needs addressing at the moment (not in my opinion, of course, but i mean in the eyes of those who are pulling these strings).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 3, 2011, 12:47 pm
  63. QN/Danny/Gabriel
    If I am to join the fray then I feel that I must stick to my hypothesis which is that most of the reasons that have prevented the formation of a government are domestic. Mikati cannot afford to be seen as another Hezbollah guy. He has to look independent and carry some heft in naming his own candidates to important posts. The same is true of the president. Hezbollah and the FPM were not counting on this and so they let GMA create the barriers.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 3, 2011, 12:53 pm
  64. In other news:
    “The Lebanese army has taken the firm decision to prevent Palestinians from marching towards Lebanon’s border with Israel on Sunday to refrain the Jewish state from launching an assault on Lebanon, An Nahar daily reported.”

    http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/7527-firm-army-decision-to-prevent-sundays-march-over-fears-of-israeli-attack

    I guess this time around, the army is acting a bit more responsibly then it did on May 15th. (I remember Ghassan and a few others, including myself, being outraged at the complete lack of planning at the time).

    One has to wonder, though, if there is not a political hand behind both decisions. Both that allowing the demos on May 15, and that of forbidding them this time around.

    After all, we all know the army doesn’t do shit without SOME kind of political directive.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 3, 2011, 1:05 pm
  65. GK,

    Moody’s warnings are political theatrics in USA…. 🙂

    U.S. debt fight continues despite Wall St. warnings….

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_congress_debt_limit

    The cabinet formation in Lebanon is a side show, they are all waiting for a shoe to drop in Syria…, but it’s a long shot, since Billary is still giving the Assad Mafia more time! 🙂

    I am still predicting a very Hot Summer…

    Posted by HK | June 3, 2011, 1:06 pm
  66. Throwing money and resources at a problem rarely succeeds if the culture and environment are not compatible with what the aid is supposed to accomplish. In MENA, Afghanistan etc,…. a culture of corruption, tribalism, and a long history of abusing foreign aid will result in a catastrophe and a total waste of money when Western forces and their aid managers leave. In fact …. I am more than willing to claim that even if one trillion dollars is dedicated to Afghanistan right now …. when you go back 10 years from now …. nothing would have changed…., and the same goes for MENA, from Iraq to Lebanon to Darfur. What will happen is the advent of Hundreds of Tribes with Flags all around. 🙂

    Posted by HK | June 3, 2011, 1:10 pm
  67. QN Re:262

    http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/7566-at-least-50-dead-as-syria-sees-biggest-demos-yet-on-childrens-friday

    I guess based on your hypothesis; no government yet?

    Ghassan,

    There are multiple issues. However, Miqati was assigned the post after he visited Damascus the night before(see the reports in January, as well as Jumblat’s announcement that he choses to side with Syria…even though Miqati’s appointment should have been a local matter).

    Now even if you go back to that date on QN when the cabinet was toppled; I had suggested two choices. Either a Karami government that will cancel all treaties with STL and subsequently resign or #2 No government for a long time. I remember BV choosing #2 starting from the gate!(we all know how long the karami thing lasted…and the remarks of the Supreme Leader Nassrallah on TV).

    Ghassan, Aoun is playing to the constituents’ supposedly protecting Christian rights…. Mikati & Sleiman are nothing but yes men of Bashar.

    Syria has the final say period…as long as we have mercenary militias like Amal and HA around don’t expect anything else. All the daily static in the papers and on the airwaves is just that. Idle BS.

    I guess we agree to disagree on this issue.

    Posted by danny | June 3, 2011, 1:11 pm
  68. Danny,
    Yes we differ but not substantially. My emphasis is on the point that Mikati was not vetted thoroughly by HA. Obviously he has to have the green light from Damascuss otherwise he would not have been designated. I think that he found out that he cannot forma cabinet where he is only a figurehead. That would be political suicide and he also learned that if he is to take the HA stand against the STL then Lebanons standing in the international community will suffer. Let us not forget that Mikati is a Harvard graduate and a billionaire in his own right. Actually he might be wealthier than sa’ad Hariri. That is important because class dictates often beliefs and ideology. He cannot stand by and see all his wealth dimish considerably as a result of a war or international sanctions/pressure. I was not opposed to his designation from the start since I thought that he will try to impose a small(10-15) member cabinet of technocrats. I still believe that this is what he should do.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 3, 2011, 1:40 pm
  69. Ghassan,

    You hit the nail on the head with this statement:
    I think that he found out that he cannot forma cabinet where he is only a figurehead. That would be political suicide and he also learned that if he is to take the HA stand against the STL then Lebanons standing in the international community will suffer.

    This is precisely why I believe that HA never had any intention of seeing a cabinet formed. This is what I tried to argue in my back and forth with QN some time ago.
    I still believe Karami was simply bait and switch. A Karami government who would repudiate the STL would have been a complete disaster for HA (not to mention everyone else).
    It does NOT suit HA to openly repudiate the STL through a government they OFFICIALLY control. Because this isolates Lebanon internationally, which in turn hurts all the money flowing into Lebanon, including HA constituents, etc.
    The best course of action for HA was to have a political vacuum. They nominated Mikati knowing full well that he would be incapable of forming a government for exactly the reason you stated (not to mention all the roadblocks they would have Aoun place in the way).

    This was never a scenario of “HA didn’t know what they were getting in Mikati and he turned out to want some say.”
    IMO, this was a calculated move all along: Nominate someone who was not Hariri, who would be immediately put in an untenable position of being between his community (The sunnis) and M8 and who could not conceivably take Lebanon into isolation by caving in to Aoun’s demands. Thus: paralysis.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 3, 2011, 1:56 pm
  70. I don’t think there is much difference in opinion. Let’s be frank about this. But some points.

    One “Umbrella” brought down the government (Unity) on account that this whole “unity” business was being too obstructive to government functioning (official excuse).

    They got rid of one PM: Hariri, and chose a ‘compromise’ PM, who got a green light from Damascus: Mikati.

    Now we see that Mikati is trying not to look like a stooge (at least that’s what the optics of it is, or as GK says, he has to be able to pick a couple of posts, or as QN states, he has to have credibility with the Sunnis). Those are different ways of saying essentially the same thing.

    So big picture. M8 brought down the Hariri government, so they can choose another Sunni PM who is not Hariri, but who, well… acts like Hariri.

    What can we conclude from such reasoning?

    Either:
    (1) The Lebanese politicians are actually incompetent. They don’t know what the hell they are doing. They are being “reactive” as opposed to pro-active. They are taking it day by day.

    (2) The Lebanese politicians know what they are doing. This is all part of a larger scheme. Maybe (as Danny is saying) to not have a government.

    With Syria being the background player in all of this, I would find it very hard to believe that there is not some measure of calculation behind all of this. I would like to think the politicians are a little more seasoned than this.

    While I am not necessarily saying that Danny is correct in his assessment. In the balance of probability, in my view, I think his prediction is correct, and a government will not be formed.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 3, 2011, 1:59 pm
  71. BV,

    Add to that: Miqati’s choice was to bust up the Sunni side of M14 at the same time. Miqati is richer than Hariri and most likely more articulate and even taller. 😀
    But Hariri has had his father blown up Not Miqati, The Sunni street and Dar alFatwa made that clear to Miqati.

    Posted by danny | June 3, 2011, 2:06 pm
  72. BV,
    Your point that HA knew all along that Mikati will not play the game and so will not form a cabinet is an interesting take. I never thought of that.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 3, 2011, 2:10 pm
  73. GK,

    It’s only speculation on my part, obviously, but it makes sense.
    HA has shown in the 20+years of their existence that they do not “react” and that their actions are often well calculated in advance.
    It is hard for me to believe they brought down Hariri without really thinking out the consequences and having a plan in place.
    They are not so stupid as to ignore the fact that any M8 PM would not be representative of the Sunnis and that a patsy like Omar Karami wouldn’t fly. I believe Mikati was their choice all along. And I don’t believe he was brought in because HA thought he’d actually form an M8 Government (as I’ve argued before, an M8 one-color government does NOT suit HA at all).
    Mikati was simply a tool to bring forth a power vacuum.
    They figured he was independent enough not to be painted a patsy like Karami and that the Sunnis and the “west” would not veto him outright, thus avoiding international isolation.
    While at the same time, making sure that Mikati would never be able to form a cabinet on his own terms (or else, the technocrat cabinet would have already happened) by putting forward all kinds of obstacles (Aoun, portfolios, etc.)

    Put it this way:
    1- HA does not want M14 in complete charge (STL issues).
    2- HA does not really want an M8 only cabinet (international isolation, sanctions, losing constituency in the face of new economic troubles, etc, M8 becomes accountable for governance).
    3- Solution: No cabinet. This way HA get to have their cake (no M14, no STL) and eat it (they aren’t accountable for anything and still get to blame M14 for everything, including, ironically the lack of government).

    Win-win for them.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 3, 2011, 2:39 pm
  74. Everything follows from what I (humbly 🙂 ) call AIG’s first postulate of Middle East Politics:
    You can have economic growth or you can have “resistance” but you cannot have both.

    Hezbollah are stuck on the teeth of this truth and are not willing to make a choice.

    Posted by AIG | June 3, 2011, 2:41 pm
  75. Correct AIG,

    With one correction: They don’t HAVE to make a choice, because apparently, they can have it both ways: Not be in charge of the government and therefore accountable, etc…AND still call the shots.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 3, 2011, 2:55 pm
  76. SHN must be a masterful/Machiavellian tactician, strategist, politician, military Leader, Religious Scholar, excellent husband and father to so many…Brilliant! 🙂
    You guys are wasting bandwidth, they are ALL waiting for extraordinary news from the Damascus Mafia… Period!
    But it ain’t coming soon, except if the Damascus population rises up EN MASSE. If that happens, all bets are OFF.
    Today, Damascus is policed 24/7 with one Mukhabarati per person, otherwise it would have exploded already…[ That’s from people in the know 🙂 ] How long will the thugs, Maher, Makhlouf, Kudsieh, Mamlouk, Ghazaleh and Asef Shawkat are going to continue to have a grip on Damascus, Halab, Hama & Homs…that’s the Trillion Dollar Question 🙂

    The Infamous White House Murder INC, has not YET given up on the Assad Mafia…, they would like to suck them dry…Hence Billary’s obfuscations and the Silence Radio from DC & Tel Aviv! 🙂

    Night, Night!

    Posted by HK | June 3, 2011, 2:55 pm
  77. You guys have terribly bad memory.

    Miqati accepted the post with the full intention of blowing up the STL. You need to review an ICG report QN posted long time ago where Miqati may have had an indirect role in it.

    Miqati accepted the offer after promising HA he’ll do it. Later on he found out he couldn’t do it. HA understood that he cannot do it and they are just playing along. There is no master plan or anything of that sort. It is just crisis day-to-day management. So you do not need to employ wild imagination.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually form a government that will not get vote of confidence in order to become a care-taker government when they find it has become to their advantage to do so. The question then who may have an interest in replacing a Hariri care taker with a Miqati care-taker?

    LBC today quotes Miqati sources advising against over optimism.

    QN 262,

    On what basis you say the regime has turned the corner on protests?

    I fail to see that. Today’s protests were the largest ever and the most widespread. Even battered Dera’a went back to protesting. Over 67 protesters fell in 7hama alone today and over 60 in Rastan fell in the last 3 days. The Rastan figure even shows protests are no longer limited to Fridays.

    Posted by iceman | June 3, 2011, 2:55 pm
  78. Ice…

    No illusions. No government! Capische? 😀

    Posted by danny | June 3, 2011, 3:01 pm
  79. AIG #276,

    Why Israel is able to have both?

    Posted by Badr | June 3, 2011, 3:25 pm
  80. Senior U.S. officials say Washington’s tempered response to the Syrian crackdown has been driven by fears that Assad’s overthrow could unleash even wider sectarian violence or War…. American allies in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel have expressed similar fears. There’s also a belief among some in the U.S. government that Assad will weather the current storm no matter what the U.S. does.

    “He probably has the wherewithal to be sitting in the palace for quite some time,” said a senior administration official….

    Mr. Kerry gave an address on the Middle East in Washington and again raised eyebrows by heaping praise on Mr. Assad. A few days later, Mrs. Clinton fueled even greater anger among Syrian human-rights activists by echoing Mr. Kerry’s line that Mr. Assad might yet embrace reform….

    Washington’s Infamous White House Murder INC, continues to cling to a hope that the Syrian thugs could be rehabilitated and used again in the US/Ziocon assassinations Matrix in the Levant… 🙂

    # 281; Israhell can have it both ways because it is the “Chosen” one by Hasheem the All-mighty 🙂

    Posted by HK | June 3, 2011, 3:38 pm
  81. HK,

    Refresh yourself. 😀
    You are so outdated it’s not funny anymore!

    Posted by danny | June 3, 2011, 3:52 pm
  82. Kerry is a dem, right danny?

    You know that Texan might be right after all.

    Posted by iceman | June 3, 2011, 4:18 pm
  83. Yup….texan again…like dubya….He was right too always!!!

    Posted by danny | June 3, 2011, 4:24 pm
  84. Hello everyone

    Even though they disagree with each other, I’m much more persuaded by Iceman and Ghassan’s diagnoses than BV’s. The current void, like all recent voids, is most probably based less on a master plan than day-to-day crisis management (as Iceman put it) and improvisation. When we look back to the 2006-08 cabinet boycott, we saw the position and demands of the March 8 alliance constantly shifting. One minute they were willing to reconcile with Saniora if a compromise candidate (i.e. Sleiman) was picked as president, and the next minute they wanted a blocking third with no necessary agreement over the president. Eventually, it took Doha to force a deal.

    Hizbullah went with Miqati because (as Iceman pointed out) he was making the right noises about the STL (saying things like “Stopping the Tribunal is no longer a Lebanese decision, but cooperating with it is another matter.”)

    Hizbullah needed someone who had enough credibility in Lebanon and abroad not to be painted as an Axis-of-Resistance Prime Minister, but also someone who would find a way to finesse Lebanon’s non-compliance with and rejection of the STL’s published indictments. They didn’t have that many options, so they held their breath and picked Miqati.

    Since then, he has certainly come under tremendous pressure from the US and the Gulf states, reminding him of what would happen to Lebanon and to his own stature in Lebanon (as Ghassan convincingly argued) if he simply played the role of Hizbullah’s figurehead. Let’s not forget that the protests in Syria had not yet started when Miqati was appointed. Today, Bashar is looking a lot less secure than he was four months ago and his opponents in the region and farther afield are feeling more confident about the tactic of isolating and pressuring his regime (a tactic which he was able to withstand fairly handily between 2006 and 2010). The Syrian-Saudi “deal” that was reportedly in the works before Hariri’s premiership went belly up is clearly no longer on the table, so Miqati doesn’t have a lot to work with.

    That’s a long way of saying that I DON’T buy the argument that Hizbullah has wanted an open-ended political vacuum all along (as BV has argued) or at least until the STL comes out with its indictments (as Danny has argued). I could be wrong, and as you all like to point out I have been in the past (at least I’m willing to admit it!) but, again, I’m sticking to my guns.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 3, 2011, 4:39 pm
  85. QN,

    I’ll ask a simple question:

    Has Hezbollah, in it’s history, seemed to you the kind of organization that operates on a “day to day management” kind of mode?

    I’m not saying they don’t occasionally make mistakes in their calculations (2006 anyone?) and have to improvise no the fly to get back on track, but overall, have they ever seemed the kind of organization to be so shortsighted as to bring down the cabinet without having a proper plan behind it? Come on…We should all know better. HA’s plans are often far reaching and hatched years in advance. We’ve seen how these guys insinuated themselves at all levels of the Lebanese state and methodically took over most of the crucial institutions (Army intelligence, airport, etc.). We’ve seen how they slowly and patiently built up their parallel communiation networks and spying abilities and all that.
    We’ve seen how they went from a token splinter movement in Amal to monopolizing the “resistance”, the South and the Shia. You really can’t argue with their slow and calculated approach.

    I find it REALLY hard to believe they randomly brought down Hariri and went into “day to day crisis management mode” about this whole cabinet business.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 3, 2011, 5:06 pm
  86. Idontgetit !!

    Has GMA fathered a child, out of wedlock, with the Shi’ite housekeeper?

    Posted by R2D2 | June 3, 2011, 5:08 pm
  87. No one wants to comment on my story link about the Palestinian protests being “shutdown” by the Lebanese Army this time around?

    Here’s another one…Does our dear friend Alex care to comment on the reports that the protests in Hama today brought out 50,000 people?
    Are these still 300 “bad apples” and thugs?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 3, 2011, 5:10 pm
  88. QN:

    Iceman, believes, as stated in

    https://qifanabki.com/2011/05/29/lebanons-political-honeypot-whats-behind-the-telecoms-spat/#comment-24890

    that HA doesn’t care about Lebanon, or its government, or if a government is ever formed.

    As I said before. The alternative theories being forwarded aren’t really all that different!

    On a couple of your points:

    (1) “Since then, he has certainly come under tremendous pressure from the US and the Gulf states, reminding him of what would happen to Lebanon and to his own stature in Lebanon (as Ghassan convincingly argued) if he simply played the role of Hizbullah’s figurehead”

    You think Mikati woke up one morning, “since HA’s decision to go along with Mikati, because they didn’t have that many alternatives”. and discovered… Hey this is going to be more difficult than I thought it would be! :). Come on guy. Given how much kerfuffle took place to appoint him (all those demos that were planned), I’m pretty sure Mikati knew what to expect!

    (2) “Hizbullah needed someone who had enough credibility in Lebanon and abroad not to be painted as an Axis-of-Resistance Prime Minister, but also someone who would find a way to finesse Lebanon’s non-compliance with and rejection of the STL’s published indictments.”

    Well if HA cared about such a government role (as opposed to Iceman’s assertion that HA does not care about Lebanon or its gvmt), then why did it not press its allies to play ball with Mikati.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 3, 2011, 6:04 pm
  89. Bad Vilbel Says:

    June 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm
    “In other news:
    “The Lebanese army has taken the firm decision to prevent Palestinians from marching towards Lebanon’s border with Israel on Sunday to refrain the Jewish state from launching an assault on Lebanon, An Nahar daily reported.”

    http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/7527-firm-army-decision-to-prevent-sundays-march-over-fears-of-israeli-attack

    I guess this time around, the army is acting a bit more responsibly then it did on May 15th. (I remember Ghassan and a few others, including myself, being outraged at the complete lack of planning at the time)”

    and
    Bad Vilbel Says:

    June 3, 2011 at 5:10 pm
    “No one wants to comment on my story link about the Palestinian protests being “shutdown” by the Lebanese Army this time around?”

    Well . . . .I will comment. This is one of the most shameful things I have seen in the last months and is a tragedy. Has it really ever been more blatant that only The Heroes of the Resistance are willing to defend Lebanon while the LAF thinks its job is to defend “israel”? All Arabs should be ashamed of this. What right does the Lebanese army have to defend the Zionists? Moreover, can you March 14 robots explain how it is consistent with your democratic “values” to deny people their right to martyrdom in the name of Palestine? Or are you more interested in helping zionist Hasbarah?

    Posted by dontgetit | June 3, 2011, 7:02 pm
  90. Gabriel,

    Exactly. I am surprised that QN, Ghassan and others seem to have this somewhat naive idea that both HA or Mikati “woke up one morning” and realized that things weren’t as they expected.
    These guys have been at this a few rounds already. They all knew exactly what they were up to and what to expect. These theories are really not making much sense.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 3, 2011, 7:32 pm
  91. BV,

    Just a question on the whole HA not wanting to form a cabinet. Is there a time frame on that? or is it indefinite?I would assume that certain realities would incline HA to form a Government, perhaps not in the current state of affairs but atleast soon, for its constituencies sake and its allies sake.

    Posted by maverick | June 3, 2011, 7:59 pm
  92. dontgetit #291,
    If your remarks are intended as sarcasm then you better say so:-) If they are not they they are devoid of any form of logic whatsoever. How is it possible to interpret an action that is designed to respect international law and prevent bloodshed as “shameful tragic and defense of Israel”. Would you really prefer a scenario where the army abdicates its responsibility and allows demonstrators to violate an international border with a country with whom we are at war? Would you rater create an international incident of unprecedented that will be expensive in terms of blood and treasure and that will accomplish nothing? The real tragedy is that you think that allowing civilians to violate the sanctity of an international border and expose themselves to harm is a good thing.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 3, 2011, 8:02 pm
  93. dontgetit’s “Right to Martyrdom Video” NewZ

    Would you rater create an international incident of unprecedented that will be expensive in terms of blood and treasure and that will accomplish nothing?

    GK,

    Isn’t that what jihadists want? The ability to fight Israel despite the cost and injury? Certainly killing Jews is more favorable than the killing going on in Arab contries like Syria.

    As dontgetit stated, martyrdom is the goal. And in a country with no government and no army, it’s anyone’s guess who strikes the first match. Maybe our hero will be none other than dontgetit.

    Dontgetit,

    When will you be recording your martyrdom video? We want to help you. Is there an address where we can send you some money to cover the expenses and training?

    Shukran.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 3, 2011, 9:20 pm
  94. BV/Gabriel,
    We are all speculating in order to get a better understanding of how things work. Unless an insider decides to write about what has happened then we will probably never know the real story. Chances are that none of us has the true explanation but yet let me answer the point that both of you seem to have raised in your last posts.
    If HA is mainly interested in a vaccum then whynot just paralyze the cabinet as they have done in the past? I think that they have learned from the past experience and were ready to have a cabinet that will serve their agenda directly. They were and still are interested in derailing the STL or when they found out that they can it they wanted at least the official Lebanese cabinet to be on their side. The other issue that they wanted and still do is a continuation of the ministerial statement that has regrettably recognised implicitly the weapons of the military arm of HA.
    When they had the support of Aoun, Jumblatt and the so called Sunni opposition they gambled on getting an acceptable Sunni to lead the cabinet.
    Their calculations did not pan out. The only 2-3 possible names were rejected by most immediately. That is when Mikati offered himself as a candidate. He has not been close to HA but he had close relations with Damascus. I think that these were motivated by personal business more than ideology. Mikati did not agree to their specific conditions directly but hinted that a solution can be found. When he was told in no uncertain words by the Mufti that any compromise on STL is not acceptable and when I suppose most Western embassies conveyed their governments negative attitude towards a belligerent Lebanese cabinet in addition to the fact that he had to have at least Safadi in the cabinet and possibly young Karami he began to run into problems Keep in mind that Safadi has ambitions of his own but he again is a wealthy person who does not have a history of being pro the resistance.

    As you can see , to use an Arabic proverb, Tajri al riyaho bima la tashtahi alsoffonou ( wind does not accommodate the sail boats).
    HA wanted a cabinet and were willing to give some leeway but did not expect or forsee the effect of the combination of Mikati + Suleiman + no resolution of STL ministerial statement.

    In my opinion HA has been in the fight of its life for over a year and I do not think that they are winning. In my opinion they have become weaker and might become weaker still if Syria experiences a regime change which is looking more likely. This is already much longer than I had intended:-)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 3, 2011, 11:25 pm
  95. AP
    I have meant to ask you this question for some time but I keep forgetting. Have you seen the few photographs of the helicopter that was lost during the OBL operation? If so have you any opinion about how advanced the design might have been or maybe the photos did not show enough details to pass a judgement? It is rumoured that these helicopters , used by the seals, incorporated many advanced secret technologies. I no longer read Aviation News which used to be my source for such developments.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 4, 2011, 12:01 am
  96. GK:

    (1) I agree. All this is speculation

    (2) I don’t think that HA is seeking a vacuum. I agree with Iceman, I don’t think government is Lebanon is high on their priority list (either existence of, or lack thereof). They tend to their own affairs, and simply want a Central government that will let them be.

    (3) I agree with BV that it was never in HA’s interest to have a gvmt that is seen to be too closely associated with it. This means, at the very least, that it was to HA’s interest to delay the formation of a cabinet.

    (4) All these delays work, imho, to Mikati’s favor. He’s less likely to be seen, with the passage of time, and with arguments and drama with other groups within M8, to be a more independent figure. This is something he could not have had when the Hariri gvmt was first brought down.

    (5) I don’t think that things are necessarily calculated. But these are politicians. It may simply be that things come naturally. But I cannot accept statements as the one made by QN earlier that Mikati “suddenly” realized it was going to be tough after he was thrown into the fire, and after he was somehow approached by Saudis and Americans.

    (6) In that respect, I do think there is a day-to-day crisis mitigation going on, from the parts of people like Mikati or Aoun. But not from the part of groups like HA, or in the background, Syria. That is not to say they are actively trying to stop cabinet formation. But at the very least, you can say they are taking a disinterested attitude to it (they’re in no rush).

    (7) Events in Syria will make gvmt formation in Lebanon less likely.

    That’s a summary of how I see things.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 4, 2011, 12:29 am
  97. Point (4). Correction: Mikati, with the passage of time is less likely to be seen as a stooge of HA/Syria, and more as an independent figure.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 4, 2011, 12:34 am
  98. The real brilliance of Hezbollah thus lies in its cold rationality. It will no doubt pose severe challenges to the region and the world, but will be very careful that no one action, by itself, will be blatant or outrageous enough to elicit an existential threatening response. Moreover, assuming it does not act in a truly extreme manner, it will most likely enjoy enhanced immunity to counterattack for most of the actions it takes over the coming years, including whatever response it will entertain against STL’s Shenanigans…thus added credibility and enhanced popularity globally, notwithstanding what happens to the Assad Mafia in Damascus…, because when there is a will, there is always a way 🙂
    The point being still, Government formation at this crucial junction and the Great Game being played in MENA is a side issue and a nuisance at most!

    Posted by HK | June 4, 2011, 1:58 am
  99. I have no love for President/dictator Saleh og Yemen but the latest twiat in the Yemeni “revolution” is not encouraging at all. I have been a skeptic about the Yemeni revolution right from the get go since I was not comfortable that the movement will end up in liberalizing the system.
    The attack on the presidential palace yesterday was planned and carried out by the Ahmara who are the ones that created president Saleh over 30 years ago and who are on the same side in most issues. The AlAhmars have coopted the popular grassroots revolution. It looks very likely that Saleh will be driven out but essentially replaced by someone from within his group. Saudi Arabia would not have it any other way, neither would the US. Another Arab Spring uprising hits the dust.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 4, 2011, 6:28 am
  100. GK,

    For your info, the Yemeni population count is half the population of the GCC in the Arabian peninsula. If chaos takes hold in Yemen, the whole area will be directly affected one way or another.

    Posted by HK | June 4, 2011, 6:38 am
  101. OBL’s Dance with the Seals

    I have meant to ask you this question for some time…

    GK,

    No, I just heard that the US Govt requested the Paki govt for a return of the tail. I have no idea what’s in the tail.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 4, 2011, 9:58 am
  102. AP
    The following is from Aviation week:
    “It was a secretly develo”ped stealth helicopter, probably a highly modified version of an H-60 Blackhawk. Photos published in the Daily Mail and on the Secret Projects board show that the helicopter’s tail features stealth-configured shapes on the boom and tip fairings, swept stabilizers and a “dishpan” cover over a non-standard five-or-six-blade tail rotor. It has a silver-loaded infra-red suppression finish similar to that seen on some V-22s.”

    This probably explains the surprise element.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 4, 2011, 11:38 am
  103. GK,

    The H-60 Blackhawk seems much larger than what we saw at the Abottabad CIA/ISI Safe House… 🙂

    http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/sikorsky-receives-3961m-in-h60-black-hawk-contracts-01774/

    Posted by HK | June 4, 2011, 12:07 pm
  104. Michael Young’s article on the Govt. formation stalemate offers some interesting insight to the discussion.

    http://michaelyoungscolumns.blogspot.com/

    Posted by R2D2 | June 4, 2011, 1:19 pm
  105. Jihadist Utopia Part Deux

    HK,

    How is the warm friendship between Hezbollah, Iran and Syria going? I haven’t heard much from them lately.

    http://observers.france24.com/content/20110603-angry-syrian-protesters-turn-iran-hezbollah

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 4, 2011, 2:07 pm
  106. R2D2,

    See #247 …

    Posted by danny | June 4, 2011, 2:13 pm
  107. AP, # 307

    It’s probably not as good as the close relationship between the Ofer Brothers, ZIL, David Yaakov and the Iranian Government for Decades 🙂

    Posted by HK | June 4, 2011, 2:31 pm
  108. Sorry about the Typo, Read: ZIM 🙂

    Posted by HK | June 4, 2011, 2:38 pm
  109. I think HNA would allow Miqati to form a government that bans Star Academy.

    Posted by iceman | June 4, 2011, 2:46 pm
  110. It’s probably not as good as the close relationship between the Ofer Brothers, ZIL, David Yaakov and the Iranian Government for Decades

    Well you got me there HK. Allah knows the Iranians could have converted container ships into high-grade fissionable material, scuds or grad missiles. In any case, it’s good to see that Iran will at least do business with the Zionist Entity while they cal for her destruction.

    Anyway, you have to admit Daddy Ofer’s sunglasses are a whole level better than the Colonel Gadfly’s…

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2075452,00.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 4, 2011, 2:53 pm
  111. I was thinking today, QN should hold a party for his readers sort of an annual get together? We could all flock to Boston or if y’all come over to Miami I’ll buy few rounds of mojitos.

    Posted by V | June 4, 2011, 3:18 pm
  112. danny #308,

    Thanks to Hassouna and 3aw 3aw, who honestly only have the interest of Lebanese and Lebanon at heart (really …!), I am spending more hours on airplanes ( … again!) than comfortably on my couch following this blog.

    AIG will be pleased that, one way or the other, I will be putting money into Jewish pockets again … instead of into my fellow countrymen’s.

    Posted by R2D2 | June 4, 2011, 3:24 pm
  113. The days of duopoly utilities contracts (natural gas in Egypt; telecommunications in Syria and Lebanon) acting as private cash cows for one faction or another will likely become increasingly difficult to maintain – and it is thanks to the sunlight of media transparency like what we are reading here, the emergence of meaningful courts (in Egypt & Tunisia)& parliamentary scrutiny – due to start soon in Cairo & Tunis!

    There is no doubt to me that the al-Assad regime cannot survive long the economic implosion currently occuring in Syria – its departure will be impetus for democratic development – like removing a blockage in a pipe, its departure will be like allowing a rush of fresh water through the system!

    That’s the picture I take after five months of regional protests in favour of more accountable, representative forms of government. Parties/factions that had prospered in the vacuum of lawful governance will lose their relevance – that has implications for M14 as well as March 8.

    With the rule of law in Egypt and Tunisia commencing, it shouldn’t be long before the laggards in Syria, Yemen, Libya follow. These developments should have only positive implications for rational politics and consumer rights in Lebanon – until now, mafiaso factions have been the vehicles for both “government” & “resistance”, but these factions are daily losing relevance as legal, rational accountable governmental decision-making alternative arise in the region.

    That’s been the trend over the past 30 years in Iberia, South America, Indonesia, Turkey, Taiwan, almost the whole of east Asia.

    It is the turn of south west Asia and north Africa!

    Posted by Jean Estiphan | June 4, 2011, 3:29 pm
  114. … off course Jimbo also needs my special thanks for stealing the one and only time I thought it was important to vote in Lebanon in my life.

    Posted by R2D2 | June 4, 2011, 3:30 pm
  115. Where is Lebanon’s Atatürk?

    Posted by R2D2 | June 4, 2011, 3:38 pm
  116. “Tel Aviv: Thousands rally in support of Palestine. Leftist organizations hold march in Central Tel Avis under the banner ‘Israel says yes to a Palestinian state”

    Do the Arabs anywhere in the Arab world be it intellectuals, political parties or NGO or any individual DARE or have the freedom to rally or voice support for peace with Israel or for Israel’s right to exist in the region ?

    Posted by V | June 4, 2011, 3:46 pm
  117. Jean E. # 315

    Excellent statement, but let me note that you left out from your list, Jordan, Bahrain, KSA, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria.
    I am assuming that it is just an involuntary omission 🙂

    Posted by HK | June 4, 2011, 3:59 pm
  118. V,

    What right are you talking about? The biblical right?

    Are you serious ?

    Dude, either complain to the Europeans and let them find an alternative for housing arrangements for you or cut a deal with the Palestinians.

    Posted by R2D2 | June 4, 2011, 4:03 pm
  119. Do the Arabs anywhere in the Arab world be it intellectuals, political parties or NGO or any individual DARE or have the freedom to rally or voice support for peace with Israel or for Israel’s right to exist in the region ?

    V,

    No, because they’re brought up to hate only 1 thing.

    Everything else is just a minor irritant (like freedom of speech).

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 4, 2011, 4:11 pm
  120. AP,

    Really ?

    It’s not like Palestinians have the key to Ali Baba’s cave that Lebanese, Syrians and Iranians are going to be rewarded with, blissfully, once the displaced Palestinians get to return to the homes and farms they have been living on and cultivated for 2000 years.

    On what basis would you like me to voice support for the current state of Israel?

    As a devout Christian, perhaps?

    Armageddon?

    Posted by R2D2 | June 4, 2011, 4:27 pm
  121. China Has Divested 97 Percent of Its Holdings in U.S. Treasury Bills (That means: The shit is about to hit the fan)

    Date: Saturday, 4-Jun-2011 00:24:54 China has dropped 97 percent of its holdings in U.S. Treasury bills, decreasing its ownership of the short-term U.S. government securities from a peak of $210.4 billion in May 2009 to $5.69 billion in March 2011, the most recent month reported by the U.S. Treasury…. 🙂
    When is it going to hit the Fan?

    Posted by HK | June 4, 2011, 4:35 pm
  122. HK,

    Probably on HK’s 75th anniversary of birth … although I am not sure how many you are going to be able to recruit to manage that event to coincide with the precise date.

    I’d suggest campaigning for an audience with your other hero, SHN.

    The two of you might be able to work something out.

    Posted by R2D2 | June 4, 2011, 4:44 pm
  123. Again, blaming everybody else, except the Arab themselves.

    “Dude, either complain to the Europeans and let them find an alternative for housing arrangements for you”

    The European will tell you that first the Arabs will have to take care of more than 700.000 Jews kicked from the Arab countries between the start of the ethnic cleaning (100% finally in most Arab countries) of Jews in 1941 in Iraq till this year in Yeman and Bahrain. The Arabs kicked them from: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yeman, Egypt, Libya, Magreb. So many of them went and created Israel.

    Posted by Rani Hazbani | June 4, 2011, 4:49 pm
  124. Francis Fukuyama ‘s new book (see a book review by NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/science/08fukuyama.html) contains a segment in which he discusses at length a theory of development that was presented by Huntington over 40 years ago. I am ashamed , as a professor of economic development, that I had not heard of this theory before. I will not put anyone to sleep by a lengthy discussion of this theory but these 40 year old ideas offer an excellent explanation of the current Egyptian uprising. It is difficult for me to say this because in general I have been very much opposed to Huntingtons’ ideas of the 1990’s.
    If anyone is interested in getting a quick and clear discussion of this theory and its applicability to Egypt then you can find a 5-7 page excerpt in the current issue of American Interest, which coincidentally is chaired by Fukuyama.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 4, 2011, 4:53 pm
  125. Really Rani ?

    You buy into all of that?

    Whom are you going this sell crap to? Lebanese? Syrians? Iraqis? Egyptians? Europeans? Turks? Asians?

    Place your bets on Mitt Romney.

    Posted by R2D2 | June 4, 2011, 5:03 pm
  126. # 324,

    I certainly do not need your advice , and no matter what I do or don’t do, at least I don’t feel the need to splash my flying schedules over QN and I am not in the business of recruiting anyone for anything.
    🙂

    Posted by HK | June 4, 2011, 5:35 pm
  127. Really ?

    R2D2,

    Really. Post some links showing all the Arab-Israeli peace organizations per V’s comment above.

    After that, I’ll show you links of many pro-peace Jewish and Israeli groups.

    It’s not like Palestinians have the key to Ali Baba’s cave that Lebanese, Syrians and Iranians are going to be rewarded with, blissfully, once the displaced Palestinians get to return to the homes and farms they have been living on and cultivated for 2000 years.

    R2D2,

    Ali Baba’s cave notwithstanding, the Palestinians and the despots that have hijacked their cause have done everything in their power NOT to make peace. Otherwise, how else do you explain no Palestinian state before 1967.

    The Palestinians have been living off billions of dollars of international aide (including Arafat) and their leadership is satisfied with the payouts. I guess today’s ME issues highlights the fact that the problems with the Palestinians are really not Israel, they’re Arab leadership and intransigence.

    On what basis would you like me to voice support for the current state of Israel?

    Peace? Freedom? Two small things like that.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 4, 2011, 7:00 pm
  128. Ya ghabi ya R2D2,
    Had you not been a complete idiot, an anti-Semite, and a typical Lebanese racist scum bag (who probably abuses his Sri lankan maid) i would have considered engaging you in a discussion as to why Israel has the right to exist.
    A Bigot like you, who views a whole group of Lebanese (The Shi’a) from the same old perspective of a elitists, feudalist 7aqeer and m3afen should start working on accepting and tolerating fellow Lebanese before regurgitating nonsense about Jews and the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

    Posted by V | June 4, 2011, 7:00 pm
  129. Thanks V.

    q:o)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 4, 2011, 9:01 pm
  130. Sorry for this irrelevant interruption of important discussions. I just had to say…

    … I make the best ثوم on planet earth.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 4, 2011, 9:21 pm
  131. ثوم

    Gabriel,

    Google Translate says you make garlic?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 4, 2011, 10:44 pm
  132. AP,

    If I’m not mistaken, I think Gabriel is referring to a garlic based spread that is used when we eat roasted chicken.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | June 4, 2011, 11:16 pm
  133. I would love that garlic recipe, Gabriel. I’ve always failed miserably at making that…

    On another note: I fully agree with the summary you posted in #298. Good conclusion to our HA/Cabinet formation discussion, IMHO.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 5, 2011, 1:38 am
  134. Avez-vous remarqué que nous venons de vivre un mois formidable !!

    Un véritable conte de fée Hollywoodien par excellence…

    la princesse s’est mariée

    le méchant a été tué

    le vilain est en prison

    Carla Bruni aka Blanche Neige est enceinte d’un nain !

    🙂

    Posted by HK | June 5, 2011, 2:15 am
  135. Opportunism like denial and evasiveness has many expressions, in politics regrettably often bound up with rhetorically persuasive if not grandiose eloquence…

    Just a few years ago, the American Government sent persons it wanted
    severely tortured, in spite of the best US experts’ categorical advice to the contrary, to Damascus and Cairo etc, where the local security services would take care of the matter. The illegal practice was
    expressly and publicly endorsed by America’s foreign secretary,
    Condoleezza Rice, and the monster Dick Cheney.

    Now there is another foreign secretary, Hillary Clinton, and all the while the same sadistic Syrian security services has got new customers….Like former Egyptian intelligence chief and vice president
    Omar Suleiman, Kusa was a regional point man for the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” and torture program that used Middle
    Eastern nations like Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Jordan, and [Syria, Via Asef Shawkat, CEO of the infamous White House Murder &
    Renditions INC, in the Levant] as IA/MOSSAD partners….
    The new foreign secretary, evidently like her boss a strong believer in looking forwards, has got an obsession: sensing the
    opposite direction the wind is blowing from she cannot help repeating her favorite phrase “being on the right side of History” again and again.

    Billary got the mantra from president Carter’s former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski who in 2008 agitated for this brand-new and wonderful, much more favorable position for the USA ‘on the right
    side of History’ in connection with the new anti-authoritarian ’global political awakening’ facing the ongoing global liberation from despotic regimes, not just in the Arab world but all over the planet…

    This was an amazingly uncontested, but certainly, to speak in decent terms, daringly opportunistic U-turn for the author of the book, ‘Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technotronic Era’ stating that “Society would be dominated by an elite … (who) would not hesitate to achieve its political ends by using the latest modern techniques for influencing public behavior and keeping society under
    close surveillance and control”. A few years after the publication of his book, Brzezinski contributed to transform America into exactly this kind of partly secret, tyrannical sheeple control society. It has
    lived and thrived there ever since developing into a harsh and cruel Orwellian society.

    When the brave and hard-suffering Syrian people before long have ousted the criminal president Assad definitively while unquestionably deserving their position on the right side of history, the politically
    awakening world now even including the European and North-American societies will be facing a new round of liberation struggles, this time against the Ziocon brand of cruel politics that has to end for ever.

    Israel is a tyranny. Israel is a system of Apartheid based upon racism.
    To be a Jew means to have certain DNA, How about the killing and torture of Palestinian residents of Israel and Palestinians in Jewish Concentration Camps?
    How about the endless war of aggression on its neighbors for decades and the occupation of their lands?
    How about the illegal land grab in the West Bank, Shebaa/Kafarshouba and the Golan?
    Israel is a lost cause and so is Zionism.

    But in this global political awakening process, even an ever so impressively, shamelessly cynical American government and foreign secretary can hardly count on getting away with claiming a much envied
    position on the right side of history.

    On the contrary, it is an inescapable and undeniable fact that president Kennedy’s ignored and little understood coup d’état in 1962 making the satellite payloads of rocket launches secret also enabled
    Brzezinski’s covert surveillance and control society to be realized on
    such a large scale.

    Rubbing our aching, incredulous eyes half a century later at the coming global political awakening, it will become glaringly obvious to everybody that the deceiving American government decade after decade with remarkable stubbornness insisted, although secretly, to be on the
    wrong, tyrannical side of History.

    Posted by HK | June 5, 2011, 2:40 am
  136. تحذير من تقسيم مصر ثلاث دويلات

    كشفت صحيفة “الشروق” المصرية ان القوات المسلحة لديها وثائق تشير الى مؤامرة لتقسيم مصر ثلاث دويلات. وقالت إن عددا من قادة القوات المسلحة التقوا ظهر الأربعاء الماضي ممثلي “ائتلاف مجلس قيادة الثورة المصرية”. وقال العضو المؤسس في الائتلاف محمد عباس، ان ممثلي “ائتلاف مجلس قيادة الثورة” اطلعوا في اللقاء على وثائق تؤكد “تعرّض البلاد لمؤامرة من أطراف داخلية وخارجية” لم يسمها.
    واوضح “أن هذه الوثائق تكشف أهدافاً عدة، هي الوقيعة بين الشعب والشرطة لإغراق البلاد فى الفوضى، والتأثير على الحالة الاقتصادية والاجتماعية، والوقيعة بين الأقباط والمسلمين لزعزعة استقرار البلاد، وإظهار مصر في صورة سيئة توحي للعالم بوجود فتنة طائفية”. وتهدف “المؤامرة” ايضا الى “الوقيعة بين الشعب والجيش لمعاقبة القوات المسلحة على وقوفها إلى جانب الثورة وحمايتها، وأيضا التأثير على القوة العسكرية للدولة وإضعافها”.

    وقال الجيش ان “الهدف النهائي من كل ما سبق هو تفتيت مصر إلى دويلات صغيرة: دولة نوبية في الجنوب، وأخرى مسيحية في الصعيد، وثالثة إسلامية في شرق البلاد، على أن يتم طرد الفلسطينيين من قطاع غزة إلى سيناء لتحدث حرب ثلاثية أطرافها مصر وفلسطين وإسرائيل، في إطار خطة أوسع لتقسيم الدول العربية مثلما حدث مع السودان والمحاولات التي جرت في العراق وتجري حاليا في ليبيا، وحتى تصبح مصر في غاية الضعف أمام اسرائيل بحيث يكون الكيان الصهيوني هو مخلب القط في الشرق الأوسط الجديد كما هو مخطط له

    Posted by HK | June 5, 2011, 3:12 am
  137. V #330,

    As to my Sri Lankan slave …

    I only lock her up in a windowless dungeon, once I feel the bruises on her knees may prevent her from active cleaning duty the next day.

    Posted by R2D2 | June 5, 2011, 4:51 am
  138. Gaby,

    When’s the BBQ? 😀

    Posted by danny | June 5, 2011, 5:36 am
  139. Gabriel,

    Don’t give away too much, before you know it, an Israeli company will sprout and produce it en masse….and then down the line claim it as their own.

    Posted by maverick | June 5, 2011, 7:25 am
  140. KSA should work on a new slogan to portray it as the last refuge of dictators when they have no place else to go.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 5, 2011, 8:10 am
  141. GK,

    I have a feeling that soon enough Obomba is going to request asylum in the Wahhabi Kingdom. 🙂
    I am still predicting a very hot summer.
    What the new criminals in Dc and Tel Aviv have in mind will make the deeds of the thug Dick Cheney look like a walk in the park! 🙂

    Posted by HK | June 5, 2011, 8:45 am
  142. RH, 325, you can’t be serious?

    We are talking about the Palestinians here… not the Arabs. Why do you want the Arabs to deal first with the expelled Jews before hoping a settlement with the Palestinians?
    It’s like holding all Jews on planet earth responsible for the treatment of Palestinians

    That sound strange to me, as strange as your assumption that all Arabs are the same, and that the Palestinian kicked out from Jericho is just a by product of the Jew kicked out from Algier lol

    If you really want to know more on how absurd is this comparison, please take just 10-15 min to go trough this (long) article:

    http://prrn.mcgill.ca/research/papers/shenhav.htm

    V #330,

    I am not an idiot, as an Arab I just can’t be anti-semite and I’m not Lebanese. So please enlighten me about this right to exist?

    R2D2 #341,

    What a charming personnality indeed..

    Posted by 3issa | June 5, 2011, 8:59 am
  143. HK #344,
    I am up to your tricks, you love to exagerate in order to shock your audience when you are a very sensible person:-)
    Anyway, there is nothing that I would like more than to have Darth Vader move to KSA. Not Gw though, I think that he should stand trial in the US.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 5, 2011, 9:53 am
  144. GK,

    ” Not Gw though, I think that he should stand trial in the US.”

    You made my day, my week, my decade of agony since GWB… I Love you man 🙂
    I agree that he should stand trial in USA wholeheartedly!
    You take care, I know that you too, you are a very sensible person:-)
    On my next trip to the US, I will look you up and call you to invite you for a one on one, I think that we have quite a few things we agree on Quand meme.

    Posted by HK | June 5, 2011, 11:20 am
  145. Hands off W!!!They should build a monument in his honour. Stop heaping all the blame on the fearless leader. Mission accomplished.

    Posted by danny | June 5, 2011, 12:13 pm
  146. Miss Me Yet?

    GK,

    I’m one of the few who liked Cheney and GWB. I miss them both.

    Years after the war in Iraq, I still think it was the right thing to do. Equally so in Afghanistan. Many of these arab/muslim countries are so unstable, the jihadists use them for cover. I suspect we will have permanent bases in Iraq and Afghanistan until these governments can deal with the jihadist insurgents themselves.

    I would love someone to try to put Cheney or GWB on trial. They may as well put on trial the whole UN, which permitted armed intervention into Iraq with UNSC 1441.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_Resolution_1441

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/dec/20/iraq.foreignpolicy2

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 5, 2011, 12:19 pm
  147. #349, what a bunch of crap and cheap propaganda. How can an adult believe in that bullshit? You should be ashamed for supporting these crimes. What makes me sick is that you firmly believe in that lies,,, the world that you are living in is so terrible and dangerous. I do maintain my position, you are a morron.

    Posted by 3issa | June 5, 2011, 12:42 pm
  148. What is a third rate reporter like Rima Maktabi doing on CNN?!

    It hurts having to listen to her.

    Posted by R2D2 | June 5, 2011, 1:46 pm
  149. AP,
    You are so wrong that it is not even funny. Putting W on trial has nothing to do with the UN resolutions.
    The case would revolve around what he knew and when did he know it. There is so much evidence that he has deliberately misrepresented the record in order to decieve. That is an unpardonable crime. The winningest prosecutor in US history is Bugliosi and he has written a book detailing the procedures of accusing W of murder. That is what he did when he used false pretenses to send all these young people to their death.
    If he felt very strongly that Sadam was evil and should be removed then he could have gone to war on these issues but not by telling lies, absolute lies, convenient lies, lies that have cost lots of death among Americans and Iraqis.

    Legally he is not above the law but I understand that this case cannot be brought by an individual citizen otherwise it would have been. This case must be broiught by the stae on behalf of its citizens and unfortunately so far no AG has stepped forward. This in my opinion was the biggest mistake of the Obama White House. They should have pushed for a trial two years ago. I am still hopeful that things will change and that a group of state AG’s will bring forward such a case. If the courts then find him innocent then so be it but until then he is guilty as charged by the court of public opinion.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 5, 2011, 4:14 pm
  150. I simply cannot let this day go by without reminding the readers of the Naksa and the bad treatment that the Palestinians are subjected to in Lebanon. I know that this topic has been discussed many times before but today is its anniversary and I think that it would not be such a bad thing to be reminded of our duties towards our fellow residents.

    http://rationalrepublic.blogspot.com/2011/06/palestinian-refugees-deserve-better.html

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 5, 2011, 4:55 pm
  151. AP- there was no such thing as Al Qaeda in Iraq until after the US invasion. With this fact in mind, do you still believe it to be a justified war and why?

    Posted by Nasser V | June 5, 2011, 5:25 pm
  152. GK, Nasser, I admire your patience, but, excuse my language, you are just pis**** in the wind if you want to argue with such brainwashed idiot.

    Posted by 3issa | June 5, 2011, 5:39 pm
  153. AP reminds me of those photos taken during the 2006 war depicting school children scribbling on war heads headed to Lebanon. Brain washed is an understatement.

    Posted by maverick | June 5, 2011, 5:50 pm
  154. I like it when arm chair generals like 3issa pontificate on what is right and what is wrong in the Arab World. Why don’t you ask a family from south Iraq if what GW did was right or wrong of if he wasn’t a blessing from God as far as they are concerned?
    Why not ask none other than Al Sistani for example about the Americans and their role in freeing millions of Iraqis
    We never heard you complain when Saddam was tormenting all his victims, where were you and your Al Jazeera? Or are you one like our fearless Iceman who considers anyone who isn’t a Sunni expandable?
    Wake up from the Arab Nationalism and Baathist propaganda yourself and smell real freedom which you never had and never will have unless you immigrate to Europe or the evil USA you complain about
    As for Israel’s right to exist I will enlighten you with this
    Whether you like it or not, Israel exists since 63 years and will continue to do so and there is nothing you or the whole Arab World combined can do except come to terms with this reality and make peace with the entity you tried to drive into the sea and failed miserably like your many other failures as a nation.

    Posted by V | June 5, 2011, 6:00 pm
  155. There is some new polling out from Egypt on:

    http://www.abudhabigallupcenter.com/147902/BRIEF-BILINGUAL-Egypt-Tahrir-Transition.aspx

    One thing I noticed is big rise in people’s confidence that peaceful protest as the sole means of effectively receiving redress: Around 80% today compared with around 50% three years ago.

    Also, Egyptians are almost as open as Lebanese when it comes to the question of whether you would mind a person of another religious faith moving in next door: Lebanon 76% OK with that; Egypt 67% OK with that – bottom of this table, not surprisingly, saudi arabia and israel the so-called ‘islamic kingdom’ and so-called ‘jewish state’;

    National Democratic Party’s 10 per cent support in Egypt (versus 9% for Wafd, Muslim Brotherhood on 15% and Wassat at 5%) – the NDP’s level of genuine support in Egypt, I wonder if that is about the level of support the Baath Party would get in Syria in a genuine election over there?

    Posted by Jean Estiphan | June 5, 2011, 7:05 pm
  156. 357#, guess what buddy? there is some Arabs like me who sometimes do cares for their fellow Arabs. Call it what you want, its a fact, a genuine feeling and not an outmoded ideology of any kind.

    So don’t blame me for caring about what people like you have made of Iraq. Not that it was perfect, but ones may look at the situation before and after the West invasion. So if I look, I see that a brutal dictatorship has been replaced by even more brutal daily violences.
    And between those 2 situations, a barbarous war has been inflicted to the Iraqis.
    Do you have any idea on how much people died during the hostilites (officialy ended now) ?
    Do you know that all the infrastructure of Iraq has simply been destroyed?
    Did you get a chance to get some infos about today’s health system? not to mention the constant fear everywhere?

    I can’t hardly find any blessing from God here? Please choose your word carefully.

    How dare you ask me to be neutral, even support the Iraq war? Are you nuts?

    “We never heard you complain when Saddam was tormenting all his victims, where were you and your Al Jazeera?”

    You just don’t have no clue about that, so please keep your mouth shut.

    Anyway, beside that rubbish, I was expecting a more convincing answer concerning that right to exist…but nothing, zero, except: since it exists, it has a right to !!!
    You are bringing sophism to another level :o)

    (by the way dude, I never said the US was evil…oh wait. actually, it is the US who said Iraq was evil lol)

    Posted by 3issa | June 5, 2011, 7:20 pm
  157. 3issa,
    The only one who needs to keep his mouth shut is you. Before you go make idiotic claims about how Iraq is worse than it was during your hero Saddam’s era, try asking the Iraqis if they are better off or not and not simply rely on Al Jazeera reports and brobaganda 🙂
    Sure every war have a price and there are many innocent victims, but let’s see how many were killed by Zarqawi and company?

    The USA wasn’t planting bombs and killing
    innocent men women and children in weddings or “husseiniyas” it was your fella Arab holly warriors, compliments of your buddy Bashar Al Assad.
    I have the honor to have spent 4 years in Iraq and contributed to its Liberation and met countless Iraqis who are very grateful to the USA.
    My simple enlightenment on the Israeli subject is modeled for idiots like you who were born yesterday but still caught in the same failing ideology of their grand fathers, try something new.

    Posted by V | June 5, 2011, 8:06 pm
  158. oh God, I give up

    Posted by 3issa | June 5, 2011, 8:10 pm
  159. Nasser, Issa, etc:

    Where were all of you chaps when Alex (Camille) was 3am yafdi ru7u w’damu la Bashar ;). The poor guy was desperate for your assistance.

    Nasser (specifically).

    It appears you subscribe to Baathism V1.0. Sorry dude. These version is no longer supported. You need to get with the program and learn about Baathism V2.0.

    For more details, you will need to consult QN’s resident expert on all matters Arab, Arabist, etc: His name is currently Iceman, but was Anonymous previously:

    https://qifanabki.com/2011/04/20/how-sectarian-is-syria/#comment-22440

    According to him “Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia” was created by Syria :). So you really ought not to blame the Americans for their sudden appearance into the scene.

    Issa:

    I had to go back to when you first recently started to see if you had anything specific to say to Alex regarding Syria. But sadly, found nothing :).

    So I’m not clear. Do you support the status quo in Syria?

    So don’t blame me for caring about what people like you have made of Iraq. Not that it was perfect, but ones may look at the situation before and after the West invasion. So if I look, I see that a brutal dictatorship has been replaced by even more brutal daily violences.

    This is the logic that people like Alex use to argue that Bashar should stay put and reform. Would it inaccurate to assume that you hold the same position, based on this comment you made re: Iraq?

    Posted by Gabriel | June 5, 2011, 8:14 pm
  160. Not all Arabs have lost their honor. Even a zionist rag lik eThe Guardian cannot help but show the wisdom of The Resistance’s strategy of exposing the butcherous nature of israhell:
    “One demonstrator who was wounded that day told the Guardian the Lebanese militia Hezbollah had given him $50 to turn up at the border and $900 to have his gunshot wounds treated by physicians.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/05/israel-syria-violence-border-protest

    So long as their are martyrs who can be encouraged to show the zionists for the barbarians they are, the cause of the Palestine will not be lost.

    Posted by dontgetit | June 5, 2011, 11:17 pm
  161. GK,

    I’m writing this on my cell phone so I’ll keep it short. There is no proof, as you claim, that the Bush Administration “deliberately misrepresented the record in order to deceive”.

    Let me remind you that ALL the information the Bush administration had was shared with congress and reps in the intelligence committees. Let me also remind you that these congressmen, like Hillary Clinton were also for the war in Iraq as it was debated in congress.

    V,

    Let me know where to send the check;) shukran

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 5, 2011, 11:28 pm
  162. lol @ AP

    Just let me in on the secret of controlling the Banks, Media, Congress, the White House and the World

    Buwahahahaha

    Posted by V | June 5, 2011, 11:44 pm
  163. Independent poll on Egypt shows very large gap has developed between Egyptian people’s level of optimism versus in other Arab societies with authoritarian regimes (as measured by responses to question: ‘is the country headed on the right track’.

    http://www.iri.org/sites/default/files/2011%20June%205%20Survey%20of%20Egyptian%20Public%20Opinion,%20April%2014-27,%202011.pdf

    89% of Egyptians say their country is headed in the right direction, even as they also say that cost of living and income has gone down.

    Soon we’ll have accountable and contested parliamentary systems in Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Iraq and Libya. Like my flatemate and other friends that have a lot to do with Syria, there is no question in my mind that Syria will be next – I have no doubt about that at all. It is just so painful that so many people have to die or get smashed out in the process by a regime on its last legs lashing out to protect privilege.

    I really look forward to watching the impact that the arrival of democracy in the region will have on the ‘islamic republic’, the ‘islamic kingdom’.

    It is just so funny to listen to the Saudi apologists trying to justify their smashing of democracy in Bahrain as if this was a strike against Iran! If KSA wanted to deal a blow to Iran, it would have offered 100 per cent support to the democracy movement in Bahrain – it would be evidence the Shiia Arabs can achieve accountable and legal governance with a Sunni king, unlike the shiia ‘islamic republic’ which offers the the people of Iran no such thing.

    It is very funny to listen to the apologists for Iran saying that they support ‘freedom fighters’ and ‘resistance’ – even as they support a regime in Syria which is nothing more than a sectarian and reactionary protector of the priviledged interests of one community (the alawi) over those of the other communities of Syria.

    Lebanon has many opportunities to develop once the Syrian regime collapses. For 90 years, Lebanon has been the most democratic society in the region and it is time for the next big step forward in terms of some significant constitutional reforms.

    Posted by s al-riachy | June 6, 2011, 12:28 am
  164. “Lebanon has many opportunities to develop once the Syrian regime collapses”

    Don’t worry, the wily Pols in Lebanon will find some other excuse to keep the country in stagnation.

    Posted by maverick | June 6, 2011, 2:01 am
  165. “Berri to Ad-Diyar: The session is in the books until Judgment Day.

    The FPM asserts: We have sent names.

    Mikati’s office responds: We did not receive anything.”

    The only explanation I can possibly find is that Uqab Sakr intercepted it.
    Now you see how important it is to have good control of telecommunications, in a country with outer-space political distances like Lebanon!
    Qifa, it’s been so long without a Qnion…

    Posted by mj | June 6, 2011, 2:18 am
  166. Je préférerais généralement éliminer un adversaire mauvais avec une balle honnête plutôt qu’avec un canular malhonnête, made in USA’s Zioconned Dark rooms… 🙂

    Posted by HK | June 6, 2011, 2:22 am
  167. There are some people who are shocked to learn that White House spokesmen issued 935 documented falsehoods to lie us into the barbaric White House Murder INC, the inside Job of 9/11, the Iraq war, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Gaza & More to come soon… This says nothing of the far greater number of lies told to create the “war on terror” itself. If it wasn’t for the flowing river of lies known as the “US Government,” we would not now be staring down the barrel of the nuclear gun at another innocent Muslim country. It took thousands of dedicated war party disinformation agents, working non-stop for decades, to give substance to the myth of al-CIAda, the official justification for the wars. It has taken many thousands more to sustain the war based on utter lies, against an imaginary enemy. It is only another small step to extend those lies about wars against imaginary enemies to Iran, an imaginary enemy with imaginary nuclear weapons.

    Bush, Obomba and both of their Congresses have chosen to ride the raging river of lies known as the war on terrorism like lunatic “surf-Zionazis,” blinded to the dangers swimming just beneath the surface, oblivious to the destruction left in their wake. The humongous bills for the wars and for the destruction, killings, extra-judicial assassinations that the Zioconned USA have sown is coming due, before the end goals are met – before the world war can be jump-started. Strategic alliances are falling apart in reaction to America’s obvious goal of total world domination, Clean Break and full spectrum dominance…

    Posted by HK | June 6, 2011, 6:41 am
  168. #325 Rani Hazbani says Lebanon expelled Jews, but that’s not accurate. Most Lebanese Jews left in the civil war – to France, Canada, Brazil and New York, but they, their children and their children’s children have an inalienable right of return. And people own property still in Lebanon and some come for holidays.

    Your post also says Maghreb Jewish community was expelled – you need to meet some Jewish people from Morocco. Many left for a better life in the democratic West and in Israel, but no one has lost their right to live & work in Morocco – nor their children and children’s children. Moroccan nationality is passed down and isn’t broken – regardless of the religion.

    I hope the move toward democracy in Tunisia, Egypt – and hopefully Syria and elsewhere in the region, should be good for Jewish-Arab relations in the future. I heard on the radio a story about an Italian-based psycholgist called David Gerbi (born in Libya) who is helping the resistance hospitals in Bengazi and he was quoted as saying he hopes to be a voice for the revival of Jewish life in Libya. Good for him! He sees a future in a free country, free from tyranny.

    The deterioration in Jewish-Arab relations is an unfortunate consequence of the success of the Jewish national movement in Palestine. Yehouda Shenhav has done excellent research on the topic which you would find interesting to read.
    http://prrn.mcgill.ca/research/papers/shenhav.htm

    Posted by s al-riachy | June 6, 2011, 9:12 am
  169. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2011/Jun-06/Hezbollah-says-major-Cabinet–hurdles-overcome-Mikati-cautious.ashx#axzz1OVWpbbCp

    The theatrics continue.

    Gemayal has a nice new term apparently for Government. The “Salvation” government. Not to be confused for a Unity government.

    Bizarre

    Posted by Gabriel | June 6, 2011, 10:55 am
  170. The deterioration in Jewish-Arab relations is an unfortunate consequence of the success of the Jewish national movement in Palestine.

    s al-riachy,

    I take a deterioration of Jewish-Arab relations in exchange for the Jewish National Movement in Palestine, any day.

    And if that causes some Palestinians and Jihadists to indiscriminantly target civilians, that’s not our fault.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 6, 2011, 11:28 am
  171. All Hell is breaking loose in The Idlib region of Syria. Gunmen ambushed Syrian security forces killing more than 80.
    Syrian commentators are accusing the Turkish government, US Forces in Iraq and Israel of training, arming and helping the Syrian rebels logistically and directly on the ground… They are also saying that injured rebels are being treated in Turkey, with the full knowledge of Erdogan! 🙂

    I am still predicting a very hot summer indeed…

    Posted by HK | June 6, 2011, 12:46 pm
  172. I’m so scared of that summer.

    Posted by 3issa | June 6, 2011, 1:10 pm
  173. Jibril #362

    Well, I’ve clearly stated that reform in Syria are not possible by the current regime. I didn’t asked anything to Alex because you guys have covered the topic very well… I rather pointed out that Alex is just full of illusions about the regime.
    So, to your question, I say no, no status quo in Syria.

    And yes, it is inaccurate to conclude that I supported the status quo in Iraq.

    However, it is equally inaccurate to may think that a violent military invasion, the systematical destruction of the country and its occupation (God, 9 years now!), is a positive thing.

    It’s like asking you that if for the sake of removing your beloved Bashar (sic), you will be ready to treat Syria and the Syrians as badly as Iraq and Iraqis have been treated.
    Oh wait…Would you?

    Posted by 3issa | June 6, 2011, 1:19 pm
  174. Syria: Body count in Idlib stands at 120.
    Explosion in Sin El-Fil, Beirut?

    Posted by HK | June 6, 2011, 1:23 pm
  175. Issa:

    it is equally inaccurate to may think that a violent military invasion, the systematical destruction of the country and its occupation (God, 9 years now!), is a positive thing.

    Issa, this is not a position on the war. This is a retrospective view on the war. 9 years ago, before the Americans went in, did you support the “idea” of removing Saddam? Yes or No? This has to be the starting point on any discussion on Iraq!

    Suppose (since you now have clarified your position in support of ousting Bashar)… it takes 9 years of protracted warfare. If the Turkish army gets involved and the whole thing becomes a mess. Will your position opposing Bashar change?

    It’s like asking you that if for the sake of removing your beloved Bashar (sic), you will be ready to treat Syria and the Syrians as badly as Iraq and Iraqis have been treated.
    Oh wait…Would you?

    That’s what I’m asking you. I’m trying to understand your position.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 6, 2011, 1:33 pm
  176. What I would support is Bashar to be ousted by its own people. Period. Same thing for Iraq. Same thing for every country where the people are oppressed by the ruling elite.

    And you? What if you have to choose between a foreign intervention or a grass rooted uprisings to topple the regime?

    Posted by 3issa | June 6, 2011, 4:18 pm
  177. Apologies for not answering all the hanging rebuttals from Gabriel, Bad Vilbel, et al. Rest assured, you are all still wrong and I am still right, but you’ll have to take my word for it. 😉

    In the meantime, here’s something to chew on from state media next door (courtesy of Mideastwire):

    “Final formula 19-11 and gov. before June 8 or no gov. this summer”

    On June 6, the state-controlled Al-Watan daily carried the following report: “Numerous political circles as well as the March 8 and March 14 teams have started to get the impression that there will be no government in the near future or before the month of September, and that the reasons which led to the non-formation of the government are still in place in addition to internal and external factors falling under two main headlines: The domestic imbalance which is the first of its kind since 2005, and the regional imbalance due to the detonation of the Arab revolutions and which is also the first of its kind since the American entry to Iraq in 2003. And although the media office of Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati issued a statement in which it assured that Mikati had not yet received the names of any candidates from the blocs to poll their opinion, and that any other talk was an attempt to cover up the truth…, four domestic factors emerge d on the political arena and contributed to the resumption of the formation process to secure its accomplishment within a few days, not exceeding June 8. These factors are:

    “1- Birri’s threat to use the parliamentary card and activate its role to fill the governmental vacuum.

    “2- The Future Movement’s threat to activate the work of the caretaker government.

    “3- Junblatt’s threat to withdraw from the new majority while paving the way before this step with a series of political warnings.

    “4- The improvement of the climate between President Michel Suleiman and General Michel Aoun following the “Telecommunications Ministry incident,” which led to the resolution of the most prominent predicament that faced the formation of the government, i.e. that of the Maronite representation and Aoun’s share in the Cabinet.

    “According to the information, “Aoun’s share” was allocated – after negotiations and back and forth talks which lasted weeks – based on the following: Ten ministries to the Change and Reform Bloc, including eight portfolios and two ministries of state. Aoun would also keep the Ministries of Telecommunications and Energy, while the Ministry of Defense would be indirectly under his control via his ally Franjieh, considering it will be handled by former Deputy Fayez Ghosn. These are the main ministries, in addition to others such as the Ministries of Industry and Tourism. In the meantime, the Ministry of Social Affairs is still the object of competition between Aoun and Junblatt, while the solution resided in granting the Ministry of Labor to whoever is deprived of the latter… On the other hand, there are four Sunni seats for Prime Minister Mikati, in addition to Minister Muhammad al-Safadi (Tripoli), Walid al-Daouk, Ahmad Tabbara (Beirut) and one for Junblatt which will proba bly be given to Deputy Ala’eddin Terro from Iqlim al-Kharroub.

    “Moreover, a last attempt will be made to resolve the problem of [former] Prime Minister Omar Karame through the appointment of his son Faisal as minister or the appointment of someone who would represent him from Dunniyeh or Akkar. If this attempt fails, a shift will be made toward the representation of the West Beqaa through a person close to Abdul Halim Mrad. There is also a Druze complex related to Deputy Talal Arslan’s condition to participate in the government, i.e. to be given a ministerial portfolio (likely the Ministry of Immigrant Affairs) instead of a ministry of state. Consequently, the governmental formation has finally settled on the 19-11 formula based on the following:

    “- 19 for Aoun and Franjieh [and the other components of March 8].

    “- 11 for the centrist bloc (Suleiman, Mikati Junblatt).

    “The 19 portfolios will be allocated as follows: 10 for Aoun’s bloc, three for Amal, two for Hezbollah, one for the Nationalist Party (Shi’i), one for the Sunni opposition, one for the Democratic Party (Arslan) and one for an independent (Fattouch). As for the 11 portfolios, they are allocated as follows: Three for Suleiman, five for Mikati (four Sunnis and one Orthodox that will be given to Nicolas Nahhas) and three for Junblatt (two Druze and one Sunni).” – Al-Watan Syria, Syria

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 6, 2011, 4:34 pm
  178. Issa:

    You’re giving me general answers and asking general questions! How on earth am I to divine your thought process in this. And vice versa. What could you possibly learn with such open-ended questions?

    And you? What if you have to choose between a foreign intervention or a grass rooted uprisings to topple the regime?

    My quick-answer view is that obviously I would choose a grass-rooted change as opposed to foreign intervention.

    But I suspect most people would have the identical view.

    Was that your question, or were you asking, if ever I would think foreign intervention is acceptable? And the next step of course, would be to ask whether it was acceptable in Iraq….

    Before we go there though… what are your feelings about:

    -> Current military activities against Qaddafi?

    -> Saudi Arabia’s army being sent to Bahrain?

    -> The military ouster of Milosevic and bombing of Belgrade? The arrest of Mladic?

    Posted by Gabriel | June 6, 2011, 4:38 pm
  179. are you trying to label me or what?

    Posted by 3issa | June 6, 2011, 4:52 pm
  180. QN,

    That story brings nothing new to the table.
    I’ve still got my money on the “or no gov. this summer” portion of the title.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 6, 2011, 5:12 pm
  181. Every time, I tell myself I’ll stop commenting on Hassan Nassrallah’s speeches. And every time, it’s too damn good to pass up.

    Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah stated on Monday that Sunday’s Naksa Day clashes at the Golan Heights are further evidence of the American administration’s agenda to “steal Arab wealth.”

    Steal Arab wealth? Really?
    This buffoon is trying to convince me that the wealthiest country in the world is only interested in stealing our riches? What riches?
    Should we compare the GDP of the USA to that of any Arab country?
    Should we compare the percentages of wealthy people? The degrees of literacy? The degrees of unemployment?

    Hassan Nassrallah. You’re a buffoon of epic proportions. I cannot believe anyone still takes you seriously. The fact that nearly a third of the Lebanese population does is a testament at how idiotic and ill-informed the Lebanese people are.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 6, 2011, 5:51 pm
  182. Issa #383.

    Not sure if that was directed at me (can’t be anyone else really).

    I don’t label or judge (and if I’ve ever labeled, it was only ever in jest). I’m trying to understand your position.

    Are you simply always against foreign intervention? Against foreign intervention in Iraq specifically? Against it for specific reasons?

    PS. If you’re not cool with having this discussion, we can leave it here.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 6, 2011, 6:31 pm
  183. QN,

    You are wrong…and you have to take my word for it. 😛

    Now you are bringing a most reliable Watan? have you joined in with Alex for a misinformation bureau?

    Now hear this. Lebanon might not have any more governments until a total fissure in the time continuum. 😀
    Trust me. I am right!

    Posted by danny | June 6, 2011, 7:54 pm
  184. I’m with Danny on this one…QN is WRONG! 🙂

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 6, 2011, 7:55 pm
  185. BV/Danny
    Let us make this interesting. I think that this tragicomedy will have to end maximum by the end of June even if it must be essentially a cabinet of 12-15 technocrats.The loosers will make a contribution to a charity chosen by the winner. Any takers?

    Posted by ghassan karam | June 6, 2011, 8:26 pm
  186. In order to maintain my status as an objective mediator, I will not partake in the betting. But I will charge you a 5% bookie’s fee.

    😉

    I will respond to one point made by Gabriel and BV regarding my argument about Miqati, and then it’s time to move on to the next post (which is up).

    I am not suggesting that Miqati was appointed and then woke up one morning and realized it was going to be tougher than he had hoped to form a govt. You have to remember that he was appointed before the region went belly-up. It was shortly after Tunisia, but before Egypt, before Yemen, before Syria, etc.

    My sense is that the chronology went something like this:

    (a) Hariri was supposed to come through on a vague Syrian-Saudi deal on the STL, which he decided he couldn’t do (either because of his own inability or because of US pressure).

    (b) When the Syrians saw that Hariri had crossed them, they let Hizbullah go forward with their plan to dump him and his govt, and pressured Jumblatt to follow suit.

    (c) Hizbullah had to go with Miqati because no other Sunni figure would have worked. They would have either been too divisive or laughably unrepresentative of any Sunni constituency in Lebanon.

    (d) So they picked Miqati and he took a risk, like any shrewd businessman. He figured that he could try to pick up the pieces of the S-S deal where Hariri had failed, but by then the Saudis were no longer interested and the process became hopelessly mired in domestic Lebanese agendas (i.e. Aoun’s bid for power). He probably also believed that he could find a way to bring Hariri into a national unity govt but the latter would not even speak to him.

    (e) By the time that Miqati started to get a handle on the domestic issues and worked out an agreement with Aoun and Sleiman, the region had exploded and Syria was facing a major rebellion.

    The moral of the story is that this whole process has been the victim of many different factors: Aoun’s intransigence; typical Lebanese politicking and “consensual” BS; Miqati’s calculations and negotiations about the cabinet statement and the West’s response; and YES, the events next door must be playing some kind of role.

    I do not believe that it can be boiled down to a Hizbullah plan to create a perpetual vacuum… that does not serve their long term interests in Lebanon whatsoever. It is absolutely in their interest to have a (barely) functioning Lebanese state that legitimizes their own status and mission. A headless pariah state that looks beholden to Hizbullah (and by extension, Syria and Iran) makes it too easy for the West to punish Lebanon as a whole, which then threatens the Hizb’s popularity.

    But anyway… this has gotten old. So let’s move on.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 6, 2011, 9:47 pm
  187. QN:

    Unless I’ve misunderstood BV’s and Danny’s position, I reiterate my previous point. There is really not that much difference in opinion here. We’re arguing over minutia.

    Yes, a gvmt will be formed. End of June? End of July? End of August? GK’s idea to make it fun is fun ;). I think far too much is going regionally to know when this date is for sure. Tomorrow, the day after or next week, who knows.. we may receive crazy new news from Syria that will change the whole dynamic.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 6, 2011, 11:12 pm
  188. Ghassan,

    End of June? I’ll take that bet! There will not be a government this summer.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 7, 2011, 12:49 pm
  189. Ghassan,

    Firstly: No technocrats exist in Lebanon that are “neutral”…
    Second: I think you will have to donate a lot to the charities. No government for the foreseeable future. As I sad until there is a serious breach in the space time continuum… :p

    Posted by danny | June 7, 2011, 2:06 pm
  190. BV,
    You are on.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 7, 2011, 2:07 pm
  191. …Oops “as I SAID (although I am sad talking about the governing idiots of Lebanon)until there is…”. 😛

    Posted by danny | June 7, 2011, 2:08 pm
  192. Danny,
    You are on too:-)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 7, 2011, 2:08 pm
  193. I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE IT!

    Is there a limit?

    Posted by Gabriel | June 7, 2011, 2:10 pm
  194. Jibril #386, I apologize for the late answer, these days have been crazy 😉

    No, I have no problem to discuss that point, I was just a bit surprised by the “pre-selection” question that you asked. Anyway, I want to be consistent (because it is the most defendable position I think), and I am against foreign intervention, especially those those motivated by reasons other than helping the oppressed populations.

    Posted by 3issa | June 9, 2011, 2:21 pm
  195. Don’t worry Issa. Here’s we’re fast fast fast. We jump from one topic to another. Then come back to the same topics again cause we run out of things to say :). Currently, in QN’s latest post, we are discussing wife-beating. HA. Aoun. Homosexuals.

    LoL.

    I have to ask pre-selection questions, otherwise I wouldn’t know how to argue :). If you’re a Gandhi-esque fellow who carrries olive branches, and opposes all wars, then I’d give you a big hug. take my hat off to you, etc. And really, there would be nothing to argue with, and really, I would have nothing to contribute or ask!

    If there are certain conditions in which you think war, and specifically external intervention is justified, then the convo can be more interesting.

    Re: Iraq. I happen to be one of those people who supported the war. Please don’t misunderstand. It is not because I didn’t think the Bush-Cheney Oil oligarchy axis didn’t have nefarious reasons perhaps to promote this war. Etc.

    However. I think the US has a long dirty laundry list of “errors” in the region. From supporting Saddam against Iran. To arming Iran (contra-affair). To supplying Saddam with agricultural spray planes, and chemical agents (used later against the Kurds). To crushing Iraq in the First Gulf war, only to keep Saddam in place, and slap sanctions that hurt and killed ordinary Iraqis with little/no effect on Saddam himself.

    Getting rid of Saddam was one of those things they did right.

    I think all those “Jihadis” that streamed into Iraq to oppose the American presence there (with the green light of Syria of course that gave them a passageway), only to blow up Shiite holy places (and I am not one to support holy places… but at the very least beautiful and historical and architectural mosques, etc) should be quite ashamed of themselves.

    That’s my 2 cents.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 9, 2011, 8:17 pm
  196. So If I understand you well, you are fully aware of the real objective of the US (parallel agenda of neo-cons) but still you are recognizing that removing Saddam was a good thing to do?

    Well, we need to apply this standard everywhere else no?

    So the US would be able to start another war in, let’s say, Myanmar, where they will probably topple the junta lunatics (while the parallel US agenda would be, maybe, to further their geostr
    ategical position vis-a-vis China). If the Iraqi war creates a precedent (still supported by you), why today, there is still crazies ruling North Korea? Vietnam? Myanmar? etc…

    Also I found quite curious that those supporting the war in Iraq. always start by: yeah, it was though for Iraqis, war is always though etc, etc,…. and then they always point out that: at the end of the day, the right thing is that a mad dictator has been removed!
    I mean, the first part of the speech cannot in any way whatsoever balance the second part of the speech.

    And please, don’t tell me that the “jihadi” thing as you call is that much important that it deserve to be mentioned here.

    Posted by 3issa | June 10, 2011, 4:22 pm

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