On October 11th, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar published a story by Omar Nashabe entitled “STL’s Cassese: Resignation Likely Sign of Infighting, Not Ill Health.” In the piece, Nashabe (who is the paper’s judicial affairs editor) claimed that the previous day’s resignation of Antonio Cassese from the presidency of the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) was “likely prompted by a power struggle between prosecutor Daniel Bellemare and STL judges,” and not by health issues, as Cassese had originally said.
As we all know by now, Mr. Cassese passed away last night, after a long battle with cancer.
But I’m sure that Nashabe was right, and that Cassese’s resignation had nothing to do with failing health.
I’m sure that Nashabe’s single source, an unnamed “New York based UN official” was absolutely correct about the reasons motivating Cassese to step down and Ban Ki-Moon’s decision to cover up the mess with a false excuse. Sounds like iron-clad reporting to me.
I’ve generally found Omar Nashabe’s commentary on the STL to be smart and well-argued, but this piece exposes one of the primary weaknesses of the Lebanese press, namely its questionable reporting standards. Al-Akhbar should be much better than this, and usually is. Take a look at my friend Marwan Taher’s excellent story on the prosecution’s reliance on telecommunications evidence. He lays out a very convincing argument against the credibility of this evidence, but is still intellectually honest enough to point out that Hizbullah’s counter-narrative (that they were framed by Israel) is just not convincing, as far as the actual mechanics are concerned.
I’m not disputing the possibility that Cassese clashed with Bellemare, or that the long string of resignations at the STL does not betoken a climate of mistrust or acrimony among its central players.
But when a guy says he’s quitting for health reasons, you need more than one anonymous source to prove he’s lying.
Otherwise, if he dies on you twelve days later, you look very silly and your credibility is shot to hell.
Very good piece QN, even Angry Arab recognized his mistake.
It can be due to this lack of “seriousness” in Lebanese investigative journalism you are pointing out or simply to a kind of general attitude vis a vis the STL. An attitude where every news about it topic is automatically viewed as yet another setback for the tribunal.
“topic” was not supposed to be in the last sentence
Thank you for this. Unfortunately, Al Akhbar and many of the major Lebanese media outlets routinely engage in entirely baseless speculation about the STL, when it’s not downright incorrect and distorted pseudo-judicial analysis. Often times, discussions of judicial matters like decisions and legal provisions are spun in a way that is laughable to any serious jurist. The Lebanese public deserves better than polemical tabloid reporting. It needs serious investigative journalism founded on accurate research and analysis from people who actually know what they’re talking about. If someone is not a lawyer, they should not be trying to analyse judicial rules of procedure and evidence. And if they want to tackle that such subjects, they should consult and cite someone who does. I am sorry to say that Mr. Nashabe regularly falls in this trap. For someone who is actually quite intelligent and perspicacious, it is lamentable that he engages in such irresponsible writing.
Lebanese are kings/queens of conspiracy theories and know it all! Unfortunately Cassesse had to die so soon. Now Mr. Omar Nashabe will consult his HA contact on how to blame his death on Israel.
As Lebanese have no other issues…They have the cleanest air, water and 24 hour electricity. Free education and universal child and health care… Recently they were ranked as the best place with quality of life. Standard of living ranks among the best in the world…So; kindly don’t blame these reporters in doing their best in exposing the constant Israeli & Zionist plot to tear up the resistance…
It’s pretty disappointing to see this sort of a slip-up from Omar Nashabe, whose coverage is generally much better than that — although sometimes a bit too shrill for my taste.
I’ve had similar problems with al-Akhbar, like when a work email of mine was (mis)translated and then published without my permission or even bothering to contact me to verify that the email was, in fact, genuine.
Translation/reading comprehension errors included things like “كمبيوتر صغيرة” instead of “دفتر” for “notebook” and “خاتم” for “bag,” which I can only imagine came from a double error of mistaking “bag” for the French “bague” and then translating into Arabic. In any case, it was super sloppy and beneath the quality standards of even a student newspaper.
My wife tells me stories of people being routinely caught plagiarizing in broadcast and print media with no real professional consequences, which doesn’t really surprise me given the level of cheating and plagiarism that goes on in Lebanon’s most prestigious universities.
The worst thing is, as far as journalistic standards go, al-Akhbar is far from being the worst of the bunch.
The Angry Arab correction is pretty awful. He can’t resist a final swipe at the dead guy based basically on his own prejudices about the STL. You stay classy, Angry Arab
RT, not only he makes an underhanded final swipe, but he even acknowledges being asked to post the story and indirectly suggests that it is being done “à contre coeur”. Angry Arab’s conclusion is clearly pulled out of his arse, and he’s obviously not even made the effort to look up Cassese’s extensive publications (when was the last time Angry Arab pubished anything other than his 2-line blog posts or some minor book review by the way…?) I wonder if he satisfies himself with the same kind of empirical and methodological standards from his students. If Israel loves anyone, it’s probably Angry Arab himself, for reinforcing the stereotype of the hysteric and shrill Arab who can’t even be bothered to do basic research because they’re so blinded by their own wacky conspiracy theories.
As a matter of fact, there could be an argument that the Cassese’s resignation could have accelerated his death. Events as such may cause death among the healthiest of people as well. So, i stand in support of the highest standard Omar Nashabe journalistic work.
you’ve been just waiting for this chance to discredit al-akhbar. here is your golden nugget.
why dont you expose cia funded now lebanon, or racist, xenophobic annahar, or saudi-owned sectarian agitating media?
Do you dispute what QN wrote re: Omar Nashabe’s column and it’s credibility? or you are pissed off that once again the HA conspiracy theories are exposed? 😀
Are you suggesting that if others indulge in an illegal activity then one should not uncover such activities when committed by others notables?
If your point is that we need to be more critical of what passes for media in Lebanon then you are right but let us not get bent out of shape becasue the crticism is directed against “one of our own”.
Actually by demonstrating with evidence the sloppy journalistic standards of what is often described as the best in Lebanon then my implication that is a strong crticism of all the others. I commend QN for taking the time to highlight a topic that is not “sexy” but yet crucial. I have often maintained that it would be next to impossible to build a dynamic democracy without a responsible media which Lebanon does not have . What we have are rags and mouthpieces. It is true that to run a profitable print media or a TV station in Lebanon is a great challenge because of the size of the market but that is not an acceptable excuse for irresponsible behaviour and low standards , when any standards are applied.
There are plenty of other examples from al-Akhbar of questionable reporting. This wasn’t a golden nugget. I felt it was worth commenting on b/c Nashabe is usually quite good on STL issues.
But you seem to be suggesting that it’s ok for Al-Akhbar to editorialize in its reporting if other outlets do. I disagree.
Let’s define what ethical Journalism and reporting should all be about … and the chances of such a news outlet thriving in any part of Lebanon.
How long before the “Daily Atheist” would be shut down for whatever constitutional reasons.
And sorry Gus, even though we sympathize with your religious tolerance in witnessing the Christian baptism of your grand daughter … what makes you think you are qualified to contribute to an Atheist news outlet?
How does that not make you a hypocrite?
Becaue I do not apply the term to rather pedantic and inconsequential activities 🙂
….another episode of people characterizing “feudal” Lebanese leaders:
…”Change and Reform bloc MP Nabil Nicolas on Sunday fired back at Progressive Socialist Party MP Akram Chehayeb saying that calls for reform terrify political feudal leaders”
To read more: http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=325229#ixzz1beFNHf3m
The Hague has seen scores of articles of the kind, not the least from newspapers of former Yugoslav republics. It’s quite a shame because eventually, people lose trust in news agencies focused on discrediting judicial institutions for clealy political motives. Public opinion does need an outlet to keep courts in check but when ridiculous theories are put forth like the one relating to judge Cassese’s resignation, no one ends up taking public opinion seriously. Such irresponsible journalism clearly is oblivious to the devastating consequences and disservice to the nation resulting from their nonchalant writing. As highlighted in QN’s piece, there needs to be some accountability in journalism.
I had once collected tens of references but decided the last moment not to use them. I did at one time use the refernce by a Canadian Professor and the only other one that I did not discard is the following by Imad Salamey:
“Sectarian elites became indispensible oligopolistic patrons to their sectarian cliental constituencies, politically “inheriting” sectarian public offices. [This phenomenon is often referred to in Lebanon as “political feudalism”–Al-Ikta’a Al-Seyasse. Examples of elite families that inherited political offices across generations are: Al-Khazen, Junbulat, Al-Assad, Slam, Tueini, Saad.]”
Here is another example about the failure of the press to live up to its responsibility. The Lebanese CPI for the month of Sept has just been released to reflect a 4.4% increase from last year. That is acceptable on the surface until one looks at the performance of each of the components. Two items that immediately stand out are the cost of Housing and the cost of education on a monthly bases for a full year. Neither housing nor education ever changed, nether up nor down in any of the past twelev monthsa. May I suggest that such an event is practically an impossibility and thus the whole figure of the CPI becomes suspect. Why doesn’t any of the media outlet challenge the government to explain the logic behind such peculiar price movements?
On the housing front I can confirm that whatever gains were made during 08/09/10 in the real estate sector were offset by the collapse of the previous government and that prices currently are trading 10-20% lower from their peaks and have been for the last 6 months at least.
But that is exactly my point. Prices go up and prices go down ther rarely if ever stay totally unchanged, which is what the official Lebanese CPI is saying about Housing.
Can you point me to the data for me to output on your concern?
And to all of you dual citizenship holders out there:
Why don’t you focus on what those governments you actually pay taxes to out there outside of the Middle East are doing with your money and your future … instead of the ones you observe like a sports game and at best wager bets on, with your buddies.
Like …. What the Fuck ?!
As if anyone else out there is sane.
The following link for the Central Administration of Statistics should take you there. (Scroll down the page for the recent CPI’s)
Another example of responsible journalism in Lebanon. The following headline appeared in yesterdays Al Diar. I will have pity on you by not copying the text that accompanied the headline.
بندر بن سلطان يعترف بضلوعه باغتيال عماد مغنية و4 أجهزة للاطاحة بالأسد
Monday, October 24, 2011 – 05:56 PM
As an avid renter (I have rented 3 apartments and 2 offices in my 4 years here), I can assure you that rental costs have skyrocketed. I continue to rent because purchase prices are insane and simply not worth it. I am lucky to have dual citizenship and I can get decent acreage and a big SFH in my other ‘home’ country for the same price as 150sqm apartment on a crowded, noisy, smelly street here in Beirut. And my second home isn’t Detroit where I could possibly purchase an entire city block for the 150sqm apartment in Beirut.
First apartment I rented in Achrafieh in 2007 for $12,000/annum. Current tenant pays $22,000/annum.
First office I rented in Achrafieh in 2008 for $7,200/annum. Curent tenant pays $12,000/annum.
The way rents work is that the first three years rates are locked. After three years, the tenant has first right of refusal and the landlord has the right to set the new rate.
Using my office as an example (and my experience is not unique, but typical) I paid $7,200 in 2008-2010, and the current tenant pays $12,000 in 2011. That is an increase of 67%. Even if you account for the adjustment of rental law, this still nets ~20%/annum increase.
I would not trust any statistics that come out of the Lebanese government. In agriculture, for instance, the Ministry makes numbers up and provides them to the FAO. The FAO then publishes them in its official statistics books. Then with a straight face the same bureaucrat who made up the number in the first place, opens the FAO stat book and quotes you figures from it. With a complete straight face he tells you, these aren’t my numbers… they’re from the FAO.
It’d be really quite funny if peoples livelihoods didn’t depend on it.
The way they probably concocted that rents have not increased is by tracking one family instead of an actual apartment. So the family is still paying the same amount of rent, but they don’t mention that the family has now moved out of Beirut or into a much smaller rental unit.
What a freaking joke…
And you guys wonder why some of us are so bitter about everything.
And Ali’s reaction: so predictable (and this happens from partisans on both sides)…Someone writes a rational criticism of something, based on actual facts. And the partisans rebut with “But our opponents are funded by Israel/CIA/Iran/Whoever”.
Man, that kind of response makes people look so damn smart! Do they not teach “rational thinking” in school anymore? Do they let kids get away with “But pythagoras was a Zionist” instead of actually “proving the solution” of math problems now?
I really don’t get why people even bother to get on here and make such posts. It would’ve been better to just not say anything. At least one doesn’t look too stupid when one keeps his mouth shut.
And if one is to post a comment, then let it be to the point. Let it defend the issues, based on facts, or research, or at least be on topic.
What did Naharnet or Now Lebanon have anything to do with Omar Nashabe’s latest piece being idiotic? Stick to the topic.
You wanna criticize Now Lebanon. That’s fine. Go ahead and do so, in an appropriate forum, on-topic, with arguments, research and critical thinking. And you’ll most likely find people that will try to argue back at you.
But throwing random comments that have nothing to do with the critique here simply accomplishes nothing except to make you look like a rabid partisan who has nothing to say but slogans.
Kinda reminds me of the old retort, when one doesn’t have a good comeback “Oh yeah?….Welll…Well….Your mom’s a whore!”
As if that makes an argument.
The HK4ever guy would love this 🙂
Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghadanfar Roken Abadi told New TV on Wednesday that relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran “are good.”
Abadi visited the Saudi Embassy in Beirut to offer condolences for the death of Saudi Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdel Aziz, the report said.
The envoy added that his visit to the embassy “confirms the good relations between the two countries.”
The crown prince, aged around 86, who had served as the kingdom’s defense chief for nearly five decades, had been in the United States since mid-June for medical treatment. He died on Saturday morning.
Iran has strongly denied any involvement in what the United States says was a plot by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds force to kill the ambassador by hiring assassins from a Mexican drug cartel for $1.5 million.
Why doesn’t the West and the Arab league give Bashar 4-6 months to implement reforms and hold elections and ask the opposition to prepare for it?
Would it be possible for the Assads and their clan to refrain from presenting themselves as candidates in these elections and survive in a post Assad Syria?
Picking up on Beirut Spring comment …
The West and the Arab League obviously don’t want Bashar and his clique to implement reforms as they have been calling on him to do.
They want and expect him to do nothing else but voluntarily walk into a jail to protect him from his own murder.
It’s as if “they” expect Bashar to have attended the same schools and curriculum the rest in the West have and therefore … he should “reasonably” come to the understanding that he’s obviously guilty.
Never mind that his ailing father “commanded” him to return from England to save Syria, its people .. (and his family).
Saa’d and Bashar don’t realize how much they have in common.
In the name of the father …
Are you seriously claiming that Pythagoras was not zionist?
Who says your upbringing is better than mine … or that your family is more righteous than mine ?
It’s not like either of us ever had to grow up in a commune.
Hah ! Imagine a little brat from a commune or a refugee camp commenting on this blog.
OH yeah? Well, your mom’s a ….
Wlaa ! Do you know WHO I AM ?!
My FATHER built the road you drive on … You slave!
Comment removed for foul language…
I am sorry.
I didn’t realize this was a purely male oriented PG-13 blog.
No wonder there’s so little comments from women on it 🙂
I guess all mothers are saints.
Especially when their boys are nothing but heroes.
Just ask Mme. Mubarak.
Al Akhbar published a whole story about a Nassrallah/Assad meeting with detailed analysis of what went on in that meeting… then retracted it the next day !
Al Akhbar is ridiculously lacking of credibility these days.
Something is seriously wrong at AlAkhbar. It is never acceptable to publish an unvetted item but to publish a news story about a secret meeting between two major political figures with many details about who said what to whom without adequate verification as to its validity is a major abandonment of responsible journalistic standards. Al Akhbar is acting as Al Diyar 🙂
Isn’t it ironic that Walid Jumblatt, the head of a socialist progressive party, will be elected again to the party leadership tomorrow in Aley. I imagine, that as usual, he will speak a lot about democracy, socialism and responsible citizenship.
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You have short circuited a while back…I think you are confusing this site with the XXX one you had been visiting. Some decorum is appreciated!!
QN- until when do we have to put up with this idiot ? i know you dont like to censor your blog but this is getting ridiculous
R2D2 I don’t have Tourette Syndrome. That comment is offensive to those who do as well as your other vulgarities aimed at women. I think you are an immature misogynist brat and we shouldn’t have to put up with you. The level ( or lack of as it were ) of your comments diminishes the hard work of the writer as well as the contributors to this blog. Go away R2D2….
Apologies to other readers. I hadn’t checked the comments on the blog yesterday.
R2D2, you know the rules. Please refrain from vulgarity or you’ll be suspended. Thx.
On October 18 part of my post said:
“It would be a historic accomplishment if Timor does not inherit a sect, political part and wealth from his father. wealth should be enough.”
After reading the speech that was delivered by Walid Jumblatt I wonder whether that historis moment is today. If I understood him correctly he seems to have made a serious promise that The Progressive Socialist Party will no longer be inherited but its leadership will be elected. The next few years will show how serious is Mr. Jumblatt in renouncing inherited political positions. If he does feel strongly about this issue as he seems to imply then why not open the party for elections as of this time ? Anyway, maybe, just maybe political feudalism is on its way out. Hallelujah!!!!
15 hours to reach 7 billion world population. With the current world leadership, feeding all is a big challenge (not to mention creating new jobs).
2012 end of the world predictions by a natural disaster could very well be referring to the explosive growth in population that cannot be supported by the limited earth’s resources 😉
Another quote from the Ba’ath about political feudalism in Lebanon 🙂
ما اعتبر القواس أن وليد جنبلاط يثبت دوما أنه جزء لايتجزأ من قوى الرجعية اللبنانية وفي مقدمة الإقطاع السياسي والعائلي وأنه مهما سعى لممارسة إقطاعيته وسطوته على أبناء جبل العرب في سوريا لن يلقى آذانا صاغية لديهم وسيبقون قادة للقومية العربية وسيبقى جنبلاط مستزعما لبعض من جبل لبنان
So, the moment he retires is when the PSP becomes progressive?
Funny man that Jimbo
You really believe Jumblatt?
It’s just talk. He’ll have “elections” for his party. And everyone will vote for Timur because “they owe it to his dad” as has always been the case.
Don’t get your hopes up.
I am skeptical about this but then I owe him the benefit of the doubt. That is why I raised the question that if he is serious then why wait another 3 years , why not now?
And please note that he alluded to a distinction between his role as a PSP leader and the historic role of the Jumblats and the Mukhtara. He might be finessing a rationale for elections for the PSP that are not totally democratic and a political role for Timor as an MP or even as a leader of a parliamentary group.
I think you’re reading way too much into it, Ghassan.
Really. In the Lebanese arena, there are 2 types of “personalities”.
There are some that are eloquent (Nassrallah, Jumblatt, etc.) and there are those that aren’t.
The first group has always been good at winding speeches, into which anyone can read all sorts of interesting rationales, and onto which one ends up projecting their wishes and desires. “Hearing what you want to hear” syndrome.
The 2nd group, on the other hand, tends to sound crass and even vulgar at times. What you see is what you get (and often times, it’s fairly repulsive). Guys like Suleiman Frangieh, Michel Aoun or Wiam Wahab come to mind.
My point here is, with the former group..These guys have been saying “the right things” for decades. The form is eloquent, full of promise, hits all the right chords. Often leaves you wondering if “this time it’s for real!”. Until you are disappointed again when actions speak louder than words.
I recall you being a BIG fan of Mr. Jumblatt in the 2005-2008 era (Back when you commented on Abu Kais’ blog). You called him one of the few real statesmen Lebanon had, because he said all the right things about law and order, sovereignty, and so on (back when he was speaking out against the Syrians). Remember that?
Jumblatt was using a very different language then and thus he made promises that did not kep. He did speak during the height of the “Cedar Revolution” about the fact that Timor should not inherit power and that the country needs young fresh blood. Once he decided to be unprincipled then that gives the citizens the right and the duty to reevaluate him and rejudge him.
The only thing that matters is whether these traditional leaders will ever relinquish power on their own or whether the citizens should stand up and hold them responsible by telling all of them that those who were part of the problem cannot be the solution. .
Although I agree with your idealism and principles Ghassan, I still believe that the stark realities of governing systems in Lebanon allow the survival and even prominence of such leaders as Joumblatt and Nasrallah. They are in the end champions of a people, and without an alternative, they will be for as long the status quo continues.
So, we can’t keep blaming the people or the sheeple as often quoted in this blog for paying blind allegiance. Until an alternative arises to ensure equal opportunity for all the Lebanese, the people will always elect the strongest representative of the community’s interest. It is tribal more than it is “Fuedal”.
That was my point. That’s why I don’t have much faith in Jumblatt’s current statements either.
On another note. What’s this BS about Syria and the Arab League reaching an agreement today?
Anyone else see something wrong with this picture?
1) Isn’t it the Syrian people that Bashar should be reaching an agreement with? They’re the ones with the demands.
2) If this is anything like the ‘agreement’ to end the Yemen unrest, then…it’s useless.
3) Bashar has always made promises to the west and others that he never kept. I suspect this is no different. He buys himself some time by saying “Look! I tried!”. The repression will continue unabated though.
Leave Bashar alone:
don’t get it distracted by Bashar; your little head needs to focus on missile barrages impacting the Homefront if bibi et Barak get the war they be wanting.
……..so sayeth Meir Dagan & Co.
A very nice article capturing the typical Lebanese…
That was a great column. This Michael is a man after my own heart:-)
For a moment I thought you were using another pen name lol. 😀