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

Muhanna and Yacoubian Talk Lebanon at Bloggingheads TV

Mona Yacoubian and I chat here about the new Lebanese cabinet and the challenges facing it, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the events in Syria, and the new US draft legislation targeting Hizbullah.

Be sure to also check out Joshua Landis’s conversation with Ausama Monajed about the Syrian uprising. I believe it was recorded prior to President Assad’s latest speech, but it’s still worth watching.

I hope to record another segment later this week with a friend of mine who is an expert on Turkish-Israeli relations. Stay tuned.
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72 thoughts on “Muhanna and Yacoubian Talk Lebanon at Bloggingheads TV

  1. QN
    I have not had a chance to listen except for the first 26 minutes of the BlogginbHeads interview/discussion. Based on what I have seen and heard so far, I think that both of you have done a great job. Both came across as knowledgable but above all also comfortable with their thoughts and with each other. Some might object to the fact that you often went back to basics but I find that style very effective since it does not expect each viewer to be familiar with all the details. (If they were then they would have no reason to watch:-))
    I enjoyed a lot the article written by your guest over a month ago about Syria. It has become rather standard for commentators recently to suggest that it is no longer a question of if the regime collapse but an issue of when. Mona Yacoubian titled her column of early may “Even if Bashar wins, He Has Already Lost”, great title and a good call early on.
    Robin Wright , another USIP, associate has a book that is just about to be published about the Arab Spring. The few execrpts that I have seen suggest that her analysis explains the events in purely economic terms. I mention this because not many are talking about the possible economic implications in Syria. I think that “Bashar has already lost even if he wins” in particular due to the very tough economic conditions that the Syrians will have to face.

    BTW, the recommendation to take a look at the Landis/Monajed discussion proved to be worthwhile.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 21, 2011, 5:52 pm
  2. Thank you Ghassan. Much appreciated.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 21, 2011, 6:59 pm
  3. QN,

    Both interviews were informative. Although Mona’s insistence that HA has only two ministers and alluding that it is not dominated by HA is science fiction (although Kingons now make sense). 😀


    Posted by danny | June 21, 2011, 7:47 pm
  4. HP,
    I am glad that you noted the FP’s application of the two cows story to the ME. I had posted it yesterday at 6:32 and I was surprised that no one commented at it.I think that it is hilarious.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 21, 2011, 8:17 pm
  5. Bloggingheads suffers for the want of transcripts…….

    ….. but that aside, I found your discussion with Ms Yacoubian to be of value. It’s a pleasure to listen to analysts kicking around ideas while keeping the affect of bias to a minimum.

    The dialogue about internal domestic politics was especially interesting to an American outsider trying to make sense of Lebanon’s confounding political mash-up. Really enjoyed that portion as the big picture continues to be filled in, bit by bit..

    Uncertainty seems to be the only constant when it comes to the effects of the STL and Syria’s implosion (or not).

    HA is not responsible for the dismal reputation of the STL…those seeking to use it for geopolitical leverage have repeatedly screwed the justice pooch by violating what are considered judicial “standards” in the western practice of the same. Hezbollah has acted in complete accordance with how any competent entity for the defense would behave in similar circumstances. Complaints & pouting about their behavior in that regard are so much blahblahblah beside the point.

    As for the projected post-Assad situation, I was heartened to see someone admitting that HA isn’t a complete tool of Syria…as the same claim is made about their complete obeisance to Iran. Reality indicates that there’s more there there than a simultaneous serving of two competing masters. (Doesn’t HA have enough damn missiles & rockets by now?) It makes sense that HA , their allies and the whole coalition GOL would try to keep the lid on in the face of a Syrian collapse.One would think/hope(?) that the clarion call of STABILITY will out..

    If the “opposition” and their American patrons keep up the efforts to rend the status quo, they will surely become even less of a factor of influence than they are at present. Given the preponderance of zionist-induced hallucinatory FP “expertise” still tilts @ Lebanese windmills, we can expect more US foot-shooting and nose-bobbing efforts to induce regional rebirth via chaos.

    Hopefully, my compatriots will actively desist from pushing Israel’s unstable polity into s suicidal efforts to rewrite history in the Levant.

    Very much looking for the next bloggingheads episode; Israel, Turkey et al.

    Thanks, QN.

    Posted by lally | June 21, 2011, 8:23 pm
  6. Oops, sorry GK, I didn’t mean to re-post; I had missed yours.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | June 21, 2011, 8:26 pm
  7. GK, I think the trick is in leading the reader to the link (advertising!). Yours was at the end of your post with what appeared to be a warning that it’s a long article, etc…
    I guess my reference to QNion helps!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | June 21, 2011, 8:29 pm
  8. HP…Church ladies don’t try to steal the other’s thunder…Do they???
    Ghassan you da man. 😛

    Posted by danny | June 21, 2011, 9:12 pm
  9. Danny/HP
    You misunderstood the reason that i mentioned the fact that I had posted the same link yesterday. You are making me feel as if we are in competition on who says what. I just found it interesting that no one noticed it yesterday while today it was noticed at least by one person. What makes a link noticeable one day and not the next? There is a lesson to be found somewhere in this. I posted it only because I happen to have been interested in the cow parables for over twenty years and probably I have among my papers every single one of them. I still think that the one that makes most sense is that of the capitalist; you have two cows, sell one and buy a bull 🙂

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 21, 2011, 9:23 pm
  10. I went to confession on this already, danny. Don’t compound the Catholic guilt. Because, you know, 19-8-9-20 happens: http://tinyurl.com/19-8-9-20-happens OR http://tinyurl.com/19-8-9-20-it-happens

    Posted by Honest Patriot | June 21, 2011, 9:37 pm
  11. GK, the answer is “marketing” as any VC will tell you.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | June 21, 2011, 9:38 pm
  12. Gus just joking my friend…
    HP is a mukhabarati mole. 😛

    Posted by danny | June 21, 2011, 10:33 pm
  13. danny has revealed my true identity so I have to confess now:
    this is me in full attire http://tinyurl.com/3v5xf74
    and this is me disguised as a mole on danny’s face http://tinyurl.com/3ga3umd

    Posted by Honest Patriot | June 21, 2011, 10:57 pm
  14. Danny’s Fred Savage? Interesting…

    Posted by bad vilbel | June 22, 2011, 12:37 am
  15. I watched the chat very late in the night, fatigue might have affected my impression, but I found that you both were too optimistic about the new government’s chances of making it in the present circumstances. This government has the “FRAGILE” sticker all over in deep red, and I think you failed, although you kept mentioning it, to depict the real extent of the obstacles on the road ahead of this version of Milkmaid and Her Pail (since we seem to be in the bovine mood). Maybe the conversation focused too much on the internal political landscape, when the storm is coming, again, from “outside” (if you can ever talk of such a concept, “outside”, in Lebanese politics). Iran was barely mentioned, Turkey not at all?

    Posted by mj | June 22, 2011, 3:04 am
  16. Back to the farm, the only real cow in Lebanon is virtual, and likes to smoke arguile in a room with pretty blue curtains. All the other animals looking bovine are in reality long shadows of cows that eat and are milked in surrounding prairies (although they often turn they backs and depose their manure in it, which explains the beauty of the prairies).

    Posted by mj | June 22, 2011, 3:13 am
  17. Failed state 2010-2011 improved rank from 34th to 43rd. Any guess where Lebanon will end in 2011?

    Posted by IHTDA | June 22, 2011, 3:49 am
  18. I leant some new things and enjoyed this conversation very much. My view is that the influence of the Free Patriotic Movement and its allies is absolutely remarkable – it is the most powerful presence of a Maronite-led party in a government since the 1970s, in my opinion.

    (May be a lesson in that of course – ended badly last time).

    Posted by J Estiphan | June 22, 2011, 5:34 am
  19. HP referenced a website that said S%&T ;)?!?!?

    Holy Mary, Mother of God.

    Ghassan… it takes us time to keep up. Thanks for the FP link (and Mother Superior- Aka HP, thank you too for reposting 🙂 ). It was a funny article.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 22, 2011, 10:48 am
  20. J Estiphan,
    IMO, the comparisons of cabinets from the 1970’s to those post Taif is flawed. Many Lebanese , and Maronite in particular, do not seem to be willing to internalize that Lebanon has effectively abandoned a Presidential system for a Parliamentary one.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 22, 2011, 11:02 am
  21. HP

    You’re such a geek. Who the hell links to a Gnu website?!!?!?

    Can you write some Perl script or something to help us find out if Iceman really was just that Tommy Gay Girl in Damascus fellow?

    Posted by Gabriel | June 22, 2011, 11:25 am
  22. MJ#17

    Correction: Ganja laced Argileh.

    Their bovine contribution sees Flying Donuts galore. Just ask HK.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 22, 2011, 11:32 am
  23. mj #17 that virtual cow is androgynous, witness the combination of early udders and horns. Conclusion: QN is a Liberal
    Gaby #22 what took you so long to figure me out? the only person I know who can write such a script is Alex – our dear Alex of Syriacomment and Bloggingheads-with-QN fame.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | June 22, 2011, 11:47 am
  24. HP…

    I always figured you slept, dreamt, 19-8-1-20 computers. I also sort of imagined that if you are married, that the wedding took place between the Computer section aisles of Best Buy :).

    “Do you ScreenName LebaneseLass1977 take AndroidHummingbirdLebStyle1975 as your lawfully wedded Husband”….

    But linking to a Gnu website. You’ve taken it to new Depths. Or should I say, Heights!


    Posted by Gabriel | June 22, 2011, 12:00 pm
  25. Ice could be incarcerated for preaching Salafism during the Vancouver riots. 😛

    Posted by danny | June 22, 2011, 12:18 pm
  26. Lally # 6,

    Your analysis is right on the money!
    [ pushing Israel’s unstable polity into suicidal efforts to rewrite history in the Levant….]
    It is coming like a huge freight train 🙂

    Posted by HK | June 22, 2011, 12:28 pm
  27. Sorry Gaby it’s 19-8-9-20. May I suggest you ask a Mensa member to decrypt this for you? 😉
    Also, BestBuy is for amateurs. We’re talking Jaguar, superseded by Tianhe-1A, which has just been beaten by “K.” HK would understand but I think a couple of wires got crossed along his programming. Be afraid.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | June 22, 2011, 1:03 pm
  28. http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/8850-lebanon-bans-screening-of-iran-film-green-days

    Once again, General Security comes in heavy handed with the movie bans when it has anything to do with Iran…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 22, 2011, 1:15 pm
  29. On the subject of Turkey, I found this to be somewhat interesting:

    Turkey Losing Patience with Assad

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 22, 2011, 1:23 pm
  30. I need to report a copyright infringement on Syria Comment.

    Check out the photo used for this latest post.


    Posted by R2D2 | June 22, 2011, 1:49 pm
  31. This might be of interest:

    Idle threats in my opinion.

    Posted by AIG | June 22, 2011, 1:56 pm
  32. HP#29

    LoL. Do forgive. I really did try to put something a little smarter than Best Buy to round off the joke, but was at a loss for words. Hahahahah.

    PS. Isn’t 19-8-1-20 simply the past tense of 19-8-9-20?

    Posted by Gabriel | June 22, 2011, 2:12 pm
  33. Gaby, Bravo, you’re now inducted in the uber-Mensa exclusive club.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | June 22, 2011, 2:18 pm
  34. BV

    Great links. Nice to see the Censorship board in Beirut has its priorities set straight..

    Posted by Gabriel | June 22, 2011, 2:19 pm
  35. HP….



    Posted by Gabriel | June 22, 2011, 2:33 pm
  36. AIG,

    HA will always be ready to ignite the southern front off course with orders from Iran not only Syria. bashar might provide the “tunnel” but Iran is the source of all weapons and ideology of HA.
    If Bashar is teetering and Iran seems to be losing its bridge to the Arab world which might be in time the disintegration of its 30 year billions of investments in HA…The war will ignite. It will happen only when all those planets are aligned.

    Posted by danny | June 22, 2011, 2:45 pm
  37. I think the HA story is as AIG described it: Idle threats.
    At least for now. I don’t think HA is in a position to start a war with Israel. That would pretty much put the final nail in their coffin on the home front.
    Having said that, I do think Bashar may try resorting to some kind of “security” problem with Israel (as was hinted to with the Nakba day affair) but on a bigger scale this time around.
    Who knows…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 22, 2011, 2:48 pm
  38. Watch your language, Gaby. It’s funny but scandalizes the chast ears of this audience 😉

    Posted by Honest Patriot | June 22, 2011, 2:57 pm
  39. Gabriel/ HP
    If one is to be grammatically finicky then 19-8-1-20 is the past participle of 19-8-9-20isn’t it or is it who gives a 19-8-9-20?-)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 22, 2011, 3:32 pm
  40. Ynet butchered/edited the Reuters article linked by AIG. Someone’s making $#!| up in order to scare Israelis in the middle of “Turning Point 5”. Shame on Ynet !


    Posted by lally | June 22, 2011, 3:51 pm
  41. lally #6,
    I hope that it is not l\too late to make two observations:

    (1) I happen to agree with you that HA has reacted just like what one one have expected an accused to react . They have never been denied the right to defend the accusation; if it materializes. But the fact that they have the right to defend themselves does not mean that they are not reacting like the guilty party. On one hand they claim they they had nothing to do with the Hariri affair and yet they marshall all their resources to pre empt the process. That does not look good. I think that we will have a clearer ides of the strength of the case in a fortnight.

    (2) Again I would agree with you that in the immediate time frame and maybe even the short run HA might have accumulated enough materiel and feels comfortable enough not to be totally subservient to Syria and Iran. But realism saya that in the medium to long run HA cannot afford to alienate its only two sources of funds, training and even warehousing its longer range missiles. In the case of a conflict , it will not take long for HA to fall in line with its patrons.That is the only reason that HA was forced to take the stand of siding with a butcher in Syria and against one in Egypt. HA, cannot exist on its own , not in the military field, without the active support of Iran and Syria and Bashar Assad knows it. To deny that fact is to be disingenuous, in my opinion.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 22, 2011, 4:28 pm
  42. Ghassan:

    I have to admit I had to check it out in the dictionary prior to posting. I am not so sure the word is officially part of the english language, but it did make it into the Cambridge online dictionaries! So who am I to argue ;).

    HP. Impressive. You reach new heights with each post :). Did you write a script to decode? :P.

    Or as I sometimes wonder….
    32 111 105 119 63 32 108 104 102 121 108 32 104 105 103 119 100 114 32 32 97 119 104 32 116 111 105 116 32 117 32 101 115 110 111 111 114 73 119

    Hint: First word is “I”.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 22, 2011, 6:40 pm
  43. Lally.

    Are you an American of Lebanese or MENA extract? Or just an American interested in the Middle East?

    Posted by Gabriel | June 22, 2011, 7:55 pm
  44. Would everyone please remember that if they are going to refer Israehell using the name the zionist entity has stolen, like it steals everything else, to please use quotation marks like so: “Israel” or, preferably, “israel”. I have in mind, in particular, HK, who should know better, @ #27.
    This may seem like a small thing, but the zionists need to know that they will be resisted on all fronts, great and small, and that they have no rights in our region, even to a name.

    Posted by dontgetit | June 22, 2011, 11:22 pm
  45. GK – Just throwing this out there – I did note your posting of the FP Cow article yesterday and read the whole thing + the comments. Very interesting, thanks..

    Posted by Nasser V | June 22, 2011, 11:24 pm
  46. Here’s a very interesting article I stumbledupon regarding data mining of western intelligence agencies of the Arab world. We could have just assumed this was going on, honestly, but the article still made me think.


    Posted by Nasser V | June 22, 2011, 11:30 pm
  47. I speculated some time ago that when Iran organized enough opposition to the Saudi plan of increasing the OPEC daily output that Saudi will not take this set back sitting down. Well Saudi did announce that they will unilaterally increase oil production by 1.5 million barrels a day. But that is only the opening salvo. It is too early to tell but the WSJ reported yesterday that Saudi Arabia might be planning to bankrupt Iran and that they(Saudi) have enough spare capacity to make up for every drop of Iranian oil if need be. Are we about to see a replay of the late 1980’s when Saudi Arabia used the same strategy to teach OPEC a lesson of who is the power in OPEC.
    If that happens then oil could drop very easily to the 60’s or even lower. This promises to be an interesting ride, buckle your seat belts.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 23, 2011, 12:32 am
  48. #21 Khassan

    Yes sorry that’s right – it isn’t reasonable to compare cabinet make-up now with pre 1989 as executive power is no longer by presidential decree but more by power sharing between the three ‘presidents’ of republic, cabinet and parliament. Amending what I think (!) therefore, I think the influence of the Maronite-led Free Patriotic Movement reflects the biggest display of practical influence of a Maronite party in the mechanics of day to day governmental decision-making in Lebanon since the 1970s. (and my fear is that the leadership of the FPM in 2011 is politicaly short-sighted just like the kateaeb and alhrar were in the late 1960s and heading into the civil war, to the cost of not only Maronites but all people in Lebanon).

    I hope that the Syrian economy implodes quickly and the al-assad apartheid regime collapses too quickly for FPM and its allies in this government to have time to make large, strategic errors.

    Posted by J Estiphan | June 23, 2011, 7:53 am
  49. HP,

    Both, the Assad Mafia in Syria and the Infamous White House Murder INC, are doomed!

    “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed….”


    Posted by HK | June 23, 2011, 8:05 am
  50. Prince Turki Proposes Saudi Wahhabis Lead Economic Warfare Against Iran…
    [It looks like Prince Turki is still keeping the “Safari Club” still alive, still serving in his position as secret financier and organizer for the CIA. The specialty of the organization is acting for the agency whenever there is no Congressional support for the latest secret plans, as when they rallied international support for supplying the “Contras” after the Boland Amendment had made that support illegal…..] 🙂

    Shackley decided to privatize some of CIA’s covert operations. The money for these activities came what was called the Safari Club. This was established when George Bush was director of the CIA. This was admitted by a speech made by Prince Turki (February 2002). He claimed:

    “In 1976, after the Watergate matters took place here (in the US), your intelligence community was literally tied up by Congress. It could not do anything… In order to compensate for that, a group of countries got together in the hope of fighting Communism and established what was called the Safari Club. The Safari Club included France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Iran. The principal aim of this club was that we would share information with each other and help each other in countering Soviet influence worldwide, and especially in Africa.”

    Saudi Arabia May Use Economic Clout To Squeeze Iran: Prince
    Saudi Arabia may be forced to use its oil policy and enormous economic clout as a way to foil Iran’s nuclear power program and regional ambitions….




    Posted by HK | June 23, 2011, 8:13 am
  51. Top 10 Most Sinister PSYOPS Mission Patches…. 🙂

    What’s in store for MENA?


    Posted by HK | June 23, 2011, 9:39 am
  52. http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=284883

    I guess now we know what iceman is working on. The Sunni & Shiite leaders in Lebanon are clinging to their sectarian grip by using their “defense” of women’s rights as a “noble” goal…

    …and you guys think that in this moronic country run by religious leaders there is any chance of a separation of church/mosque and state? Dream on.

    Posted by danny | June 23, 2011, 9:49 am
  53. Very interesting article/analysis by Young:


    Danny#55… Mais c’est “LA” loi! LoL. Joking aside, I’m sure the Maronite and other Christian groups are no less opposed, no?

    Posted by Gabriel | June 23, 2011, 10:49 am
  54. Hello from the Domincan Republic.

    The WiFi had been spotty at best.

    Lally, the Reuters article doesn’t say anything different.

    HK knows that his Hezbo heroes are in bed with the Assad regime and would be more than happy to start a war with Israel. More proof that both these organizations care Nothing about the people they supposedly represent.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | June 23, 2011, 10:54 am
  55. What does this mean for the 2013 parliamentary elections?

    The committee charged with drafting a government policy statement has suggested adopting proportional representation in the next parliamentary elections…


    Posted by S al-riachy | June 23, 2011, 11:58 am
  56. HP,

    L’esprit est comme un parachute, il ne sert que quand il est ouvert…. 🙂

    Posted by HK | June 23, 2011, 12:28 pm
  57. Danny @55

    I am, as usual, appalled by this so called “modern and democratic” state (feel free to burst out in laughter).
    Who was it that was arguing with me about how Lebanon is still better than the rest of the Arab world????

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 23, 2011, 1:23 pm
  58. And here we go…

    The 12-member ministerial committee that met under Miqati at the Grand Serail on Wednesday did not discuss the tribunal issue but al-Liwaa daily said that the representatives of Hizbullah and FPM chief Michel Aoun have stressed to the premier their rejection to mention the STL in the policy statement.

    According to al-Liwaa, the delegates informed Miqati that Saad Hariri’s national unity cabinet was toppled in January due to the bickering between the March 8 and 14 forces on the court. “That’s why, the government that came after it should not adopt a clause that led to the collapse of the (previous) cabinet.”

    This is going to be an interesting ride…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 23, 2011, 1:33 pm
  59. Gabt@56…Exactly. that’s why I mentioned “religious leaders”….

    Posted by danny | June 23, 2011, 1:35 pm
  60. Hamid Dabashi, a professor of Iranian studies at Columbia University and a prolific author has written the following short article about Hezbollah /Syria /Iran. What I found the most interesting is a video clip that he includes ( In Pharsi) that he claims is a high ranking Iranian official who explains that Irans’ support for HA and Hamas has nothing to do either with Lebanon or Palestine. It is all about what is good for Iran.


    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 23, 2011, 3:34 pm
  61. This is a direct link to the article mentioned in the above post


    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 23, 2011, 3:37 pm
  62. GK. Great Al-Jazeera article. Pity no-one translated that Youtube clip. I’m sure that will come in time.

    The underlying hypocrisy has always existed, and its bubbling out now.

    I think what I am still scratching my head over is why the mantra of “resistance” appears to have lost its steam. My sense is that it hasn’t. It’s still there, lurking in the background, and it will be the undoing of the “Arab Springs” in due time.

    Everyone ought to turn their gaze towards Egypt to see how things evolve there.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 23, 2011, 4:10 pm
  63. Gabriel,
    My whole objective from highlighting the Hamid Dabashi column is the fact that countries are not altruists. They help another country or a group of individuals in another country only if that is calculated to be good for the national interest. That is why it is rather silly when you hear all of these claims that Iran helps Hezbollah without asking for anything in return or Syria helps Hezbollah because they like the way SHN looks. The US and Europe have also an interest whenever they lend support to a group of individuals or to administrations. They expect policies that will help spread their beliefs , values and lead to a betterment of their economic welfare.

    On a separate issue that we discussed a few days ago; responsible journalism. The WSJ of June 21 had a perfect example of what I was talking about. The Editorial page was satisfied with the win by Wal Mart in the action law suit brought out by females and was also glad that the Supreme court turned down unanimously the attempt by leftists to argue against carbon emissions of utilities.

    Not so surprisingly, on the opposite page the journal carried a major article that is very highly critical of republican and conservative policies. That is what is wrong with Lebanese media outlets. When was the last time that Al Manar ran a story praising Hariri and critiquing Amal or the AlMustaqbal praising HA and making fun of Sa’ad.?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 23, 2011, 5:17 pm
  64. Irans’ support for HA and Hamas has nothing to do either with Lebanon or Palestine. It is all about what is good for Iran.

    And this is news? This surprises anyone?
    When has anyone ever done anything in the game of nations that wasn’t about what’s good for themselves, maintaining themselves in power, and the interests of their own nation first?

    Is it some kind of new revelation that Iran does what is best for Iran and its regime? That is no different than the USA doing what’s best for its own national interests, or Israel doing what’s best for its own national interests.
    The only exception to that rule is Lebanon, where Lebanese continue to do what’s best for others as a whole (while doing what’s best for individual zaims, obviously).

    I’m actually a bit surprised that this is some kind of “revelation” to you Ghassan 🙂

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 23, 2011, 5:50 pm
  65. @Ghassan,

    My apologies. I read your second post comment:

    My whole objective from highlighting the Hamid Dabashi column is the fact that countries are not altruists. They help another country or a group of individuals in another country only if that is calculated to be good for the national interest. That is why it is rather silly when you hear all of these claims that Iran helps Hezbollah without asking for anything in return or Syria helps Hezbollah because they like the way SHN looks. The US and Europe have also an interest whenever they lend support to a group of individuals or to administrations. They expect policies that will help spread their beliefs , values and lead to a betterment of their economic welfare.

    And of course, I had jumped the gun in my first response, as it almost sounded like you had come across some grand revelation…
    I too find it hilarious when people think that Iran helps HA or Syria helps HA while expecting nothing return.
    The same can be said of the other side too, obviously (KSA support for Hariri).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 23, 2011, 5:52 pm
  66. BV,
    There is an element of news in the Pharsi video clip ( a language that I do not understand but I trust the interpretation of an Iranian national who is a very reputable university professor and widely published author) in the fact that when the donor tells us clearly the purpose of the donation then how in the world can we claim it to be otherwise 🙂
    I am afraid that it will be a cold day in hell before many of the Lebanese nationals will admit to this.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 23, 2011, 6:28 pm
  67. Maybe Mikati and his team can be a positive constructive force after all. Isn’t it time that ministers be prevented fromacting against the public interest?

    الصفدي يشترط الإفراج عن أموال الاتصالات ··· وإلاّ
    علمت من مصادر وزارية ان وزير المال محمد الصفدي أبلغ وزير الاتصالات نقولا صحناوي الذي تولى هذه الحقيبة مكان الوزير شربل نحاس انه في حال لم يتم تحويل الاموال المجمدة إلى وزارة المال، فانه لن يصرف قرشاً واحداً تطلبه وزارة الاتصالات·

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 23, 2011, 7:27 pm
  68. Dabashi tries to look sincere but he is now touring US and European universities to try to revive the Iranian green movement. We know all this Arab spring is just a little exercise before opening the doors of the real great one, which will allow the US and Israel attack Iran.
    They don’t really need it since Iran has an election in the autumn and that Ahmadinejad can’t run because he has already done his 2 terms. Even the clerics establishment is fed up with him. But that’s not a problem. The US and Israel’s agenda would feel too damn empty without it. People could start to question where is their money.

    Posted by Zeno | June 24, 2011, 2:04 pm
  69. Ghassan,

    I agree with you, in general….. BUT…

    I don’t think of Al-Manar as a national newspaper. It’s like one of the communist publications, or a Gay/Lesbian weekly. It serves a specific audience or interest group if you will.

    I agree that there is probably no “national” news outlet, that probably every publication is specific to this or that interest group.

    I also think the situation is pitiable.

    Where I disagree is that as a matter of “accident”- the accident of this confessional, interest group promoting system, it is possible to at least hear/read differing points of view in a country like Lebanon, which does not exist in Syria, or Saudi, or Iran, etc.

    Posted by Gabriel | June 24, 2011, 4:37 pm

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