Lebanon, My articles, Reform

Lebanon, By the Numbers

A very quick note to point folks in the direction of my post for the NY Times’s Latitude blog this week, which deals with proportional representation in Lebanon. For most of you following the debate, not much of it will come as much of a surprise. For those who have not been following along and would like additional context, see here.

I also recommend Michael Young’s good column on the subject earlier this week, and IFES’s very good overview of the Lebanese electoral system.
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50 thoughts on “Lebanon, By the Numbers

  1. Good conversation going on in the comment section of the NY Times page about this article.

    Come on, QN’ers, get over there and make me proud!


    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 18, 2012, 4:23 pm
  2. Lebanon will be better off having districts that can be tailored to have majority Christians in 50% of them and Muslim Majority in 50% of them, parties can put forward candidates, in he start there might be equal number in parliament between Christians and Muslims , but with time and laws that protect from discrimination in housing and employment the districts mix will change and people will start voting for the people that they like and agree with without attention to their religion as it is easier to vote for people that you know and trust , another house or senate that can have representatives of certain number without association to the number of people in the county,to balance the power of large and small counties,

    Posted by Norman | January 20, 2012, 11:20 pm
  3. Norman are you suggesting a lab experiment? Why do you want to wait “in time”? They are supposedly civilized and modern!

    Before any discussion about ‘zoning” or redistricting or any election laws…ALL GUNS have to be put away to allow a free society make their choice without fears or coercion. Any discussion without addressing the illegal militias especially the big donkey; HA in the room is futile!…After all Lebanon is submissive to Iran!!

    Posted by danny | January 21, 2012, 8:55 am
  4. Danny,

    I understand your concern about the Arms in local militia hands, but that should not prevent free election, the only way for Lebanon to have no arms in the hands of non government civilians is to take away the reason for this arm, the first that i see is that Lebanon has been very weak to get back it’s occupied land from Israel and that Israel keeps on arming itself and violating Lebanon airspace , a strong Lebanese government that takes it’s legitimacy from free election will help, but i still believe that Lebanon should always have militias or national guards like in the US but i agree that it should be controlled by the legitimate government,we are all or most armed in the US, that does not prevent free election,

    The second reason for arms in Lebanon is the lack of one man one vote , these set aside and qoutas are killing Lebanon, only when people feel that they can all what they want, peacefully, they will abandon their weapons and have faith in the government, so free elections will improve the chance of abolishing the militias in Lebanon,

    Posted by Norman | January 21, 2012, 4:43 pm
  5. Tailored districts? Seriously Norman?

    People need to stop being this obtuse. Sorry.
    And I bet someone like Norman makes a big fuss about Israel’s wanting to be a “Jewish state” or its segregation of non-Jewish populations, etc…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 23, 2012, 1:58 pm
  6. Challenging project, QN!!

    Some Indian states may provide a good model for an upper house that would reassure minorities-especially if you will propose some confessional representation in the upper house, balancing out a deconfessionalized lower chamber.

    One piece of advice: since this is the middle east, if you want to come up with a unique and practical formula for the upper house, you will need to think beyond the “western” model. To be direct, in order to circumvent any criticism (Madeleine Albright in 2005 called for all Arab countries to create upper houses to reign in populist tendencies; Bahrain’s experience prompted boycotts from the opposition; etc.), you will need to think about a chamber where “wisdom” is not the property of individuals but of the process itself of deliberation, decision, and oversight of the lower chamber. Some Indian states may provide examples, but you will have to build on local cultural values and meanings. I recommend that you think seriously about a redefinition of a (secular) “shoura” council as a possible model for democratic deliberation and decision making (maybe building on Soroush, or even Khatami who have written extensively on the Arab-Islamic tradition of democracy). I am not sure if this helps, but a “new” (non-liberal and non-neoliberal) framework would be truly revolutionary.

    Posted by Parrhesia | January 24, 2012, 10:06 pm
  7. P.s. the previous entry should have been posted to the earlier page–it addresses QN’s project at Stanford.

    Posted by Parrhesia | January 24, 2012, 11:20 pm
  8. Bad Vilbel ,

    The districts are not religous but physical areas that have majority in the beginning to match the present number in each religous group but with laws that protect from discrimination in housing and employment the composition will change and people will know their naibours and vote for the best candidate.no matter what religion he belongs to and that will change the parliament composition and make religion a non issue.

    Posted by Norman | January 27, 2012, 12:33 am
  9. Where art thou QN’ers !?!?, your silence is intolerable. 🙂

    Shits hitting the fans on all fronts, and all you can do is ignore this sacred space and pretend you have important lives to lead.

    Unless your’e recruiting a guerrilla group to oust the doctor and his clique, there is no excuse for the absence.

    Posted by Maverick | February 1, 2012, 5:41 pm
  10. Hi Maverick. 🙂

    I’m in dissertation land, which is why I’ve been incommunicado.

    No idea where everyone else is.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 1, 2012, 5:43 pm
  11. Maverick…..
    Maybe some of you might want to look at this and may I suggest an excellent post on SC by Ehsani.


    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 1, 2012, 6:27 pm
  12. QN
    I meant to ask in the previous post about the date for the defense so that we can pop the bubbly. I hope that it is soon. Good luck.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 1, 2012, 6:42 pm
  13. Ghassan, thanks for asking. It will be around April 26 or so, inshallah. Will let you know when you can call me Herr Doktor Professor… 🙂

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 1, 2012, 6:44 pm
  14. Elias, We feel small without being a Doctor, may God help us then when you are, at least i need the help, may be not others.

    Posted by Norman | February 3, 2012, 9:43 pm
  15. Ammo Norman, eh sadda2na… 🙂

    Coming from the oncologist…

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 3, 2012, 11:03 pm
  16. indeed shit is hitting the fan, for real.

    Posted by 3issa | February 4, 2012, 8:24 am
  17. The following video has no blood and gore in it . It is a simple interview with Sahar Attasi but it sure helps show the lie of the Ba’ath when Bashar and his clan members claim that they are fighting foreign armed infiltrators. Sahar had joined some of the earliest demonstrations in support of Egypt, Tunis and Yemen and was attacked and beaten up with other demonstrators . She was told point blank by no less than Rustum Ghazali and his henchmen that the demonstrators are viewed by the Syrian Ba’ath as microbes that need to be wiped out from the body politic.


    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 4, 2012, 12:08 pm
  18. The butchers of Damascus are pushing the envelope with the imperialistic communist states’ backing! I wonder how much innocent civilians Syrian blood is just enough to encourage the rest of the world to stop “f”-ing around and stop just paying lip service!
    It’s time to say enough is enough! Russia invaded and still holds over 30% of Georgia and got away with it. Now it is using Syria’s people as a hostage and leverage to whatever sick plan they have…

    Posted by danny | February 4, 2012, 6:01 pm
  19. A rather interesting article ( 7 pages) by Sabri Jiryis the Palestinian analyst about the morphing of the Arab Spring into an Islamic Autumn. I hope that some will find it interesting. It is in Arabic.


    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 6, 2012, 7:45 pm
  20. Danny,

    If you want to fight in Syria, go do that. Sending other people to do so is not appropriate. Why should Americans or Turks die in order to save Syrians? In any case most Syrians would be ungrateful in the end and blame the intervention for all their problems.

    If we have learned anything from Iraq it is that Arabs killing Arabs is ok while Westerners killing Arabs is awful. Let’s see all the “intellectuals” who were against the Iraq war justify an intervention in Syria now.

    The Syrian diaspora is quite big also. If they want to train an army of recruits from their midst, let them do so. You can then join that army also. They will accept Lebanese as they also believe that Lebanon is part of Syria.

    Posted by AIG | February 7, 2012, 3:24 pm
  21. AIG makes a good point.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 7, 2012, 3:34 pm
  22. AIG,

    All your rant above is motivated from wishing that Syrians get submerged in a messy civil war to leave Israelis alone for the decades to come as well as neutralizing (somehow) the ammunition corridor of HA. You sound insincere and illogical! What you learned from Iraq? What did you learn? Is that why Libya was bombarded just recently?

    I can see that as a Zionist you see the Arab spring as the thorn in your backside. I am quite certain that an Arab awakening will put the fear of God in Israeli false bravado.

    Posted by danny | February 7, 2012, 4:55 pm
  23. AIG/BV
    Allow me to disagree with what you seem to be saying by disagreeing with the “noble” sentiments expressed by Danny. May I remind you of:

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

    and this

    We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

    – Elie Wiesel

    The Syrian uprising , just like any other uprising in the world, deserves, actually demands support in its struggle with evil. Support of such movements is an obligation.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 7, 2012, 4:58 pm
  24. Danny,

    Talk is cheap. Go fight instead of preaching to others. Actions speak much louder than words.

    I wish Syrians a secure and democratic country. But I am not willing to die for that or send my kids to fight for that. The Syrians in the diaspora are not even willing to do it. If you are, just do it. But sending other people to die is quite low.

    Saddam killed many more Iraqis than Assad has killed Syrians. Did you support an intervention to topple him? In Lybia, no ground troops were sent. This will not help in Syria.


    I am on the side of the Syrian people. What good does that do them? None at all. Simple question: Are you willing to go fight for the Syrian people against Assad? Are you willing to send your loved ones to do so?

    All the “moral” talk in the world is just that, talk. The question is whether you personally are willing to pay the price of an armed intervention? Again, I will judge by your actions: Will you leave your job in the US and join the FSA in Syria? Would you join an army of volunteers trained by the UN or NATO?

    Posted by AIG | February 7, 2012, 5:24 pm
  25. AIG.

    Your exhortations of “put your money where your mouth is” bring to mind the trained cadres of Iraqi exile warriors flown into Iraq with the American boots firmly on the ground in Baghdad.

    They were instrumental in the staging of the tearing down the statue of Saddam.

    BTW, the “intellectuals” from the neocon and “liberal interventionist” sectors were all in agreement on saving Iraq and are on the same boat in regards to Syria. SOS.

    Those against our war on Iraq were from the realist camp.

    Posted by lally | February 7, 2012, 5:48 pm
  26. AIG,
    There are those that believe that war, destruction, random violence mayhem and wrtechedness are the solution to the worlds’ problems. But fortunately there are some who think otherwise.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 7, 2012, 6:04 pm
  27. AIG,

    No one is asking Israel to interfere. As I mentioned already you can’t help but be gleeful seeing the misery of the Syrian people and the neutralizing of a bordering enemy army. I guess the Israelis (or Jews in Palestine & elsewhere in 1940’s) should not be thankful to the Brits and French for ‘appropriating” Palestine to the Jews.
    I shall not mention all the interventions such as Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Afghanistan among dozens to free people from the death grip of murderous tyrants!

    You are not making sense with your Sharonian outburst.

    Posted by danny | February 7, 2012, 6:07 pm
  28. GK,

    What does your tautological comment explain? Are you going to pray for the Syrians or are you going to help fight Assad? It is so easy to speak in a moralistic tone and do nothing. So again I ask, what exactly are you personally willing to do? What you believe does not really matter in this case. What you are willing to do does.


    Put Israel aside. Of course we are not going to interfere. The question is simple: Should American or Turkish lives be put at risk in order to take Assad down? First of all, this is only a decision the American public or Turkish public can make. If I were American or Turkish I would be against intervention especially after how the Iraq intervention was received by Arabs in general and Iraqis in particular.

    As for your examples, let’s review them. Yugoslavia and Kosovo – No US ground troops. Afghanistan – Because of 9/11 not tyrants. Please remind me of “dozens” of interventions to free people from tyrants that you allude to.

    The British left Palestine in a state of civil war, exactly the state you want to intervene in the Syrian case. The British did the exact opposite of what you are preaching. So how is that example relevant?

    Posted by AIG | February 7, 2012, 6:23 pm
  29. In case you have missed it Joshua landis had two appearances yesterday that dealt with this issue. One on PBS and the other on Charlie Tose with Thomas Friedman, Fouad Ajami and Slaughter of Princeton University. The discussion was interesting but I mention it because it dealt with this issue that AIG for one reason or another wishes not to deal with. The Syrians and all other freedom loving people have the right to rise and tyrants will fall without any need for a military intervention. Bashar and the Ba’ath have already lost . They cannot kill enough people to stay in power even if they want to.There comes a point where it is not only about guns. That was the case in the ExSoviet Union and Eastern Europe, that was the case in the Shahs Iran , Marcos’ Philippines and Mubaraks’ Egypt. This will also be true of Syria. The regime is done.

    Landis and Heydemann on PBS News Hour Discuss Diplomatic and Military Options


    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 7, 2012, 6:23 pm
  30. GK,

    What issue do I not want to deal with? Of course Assad lost, but that does not mean that freedom loving Syrians have won. The longer the conflict goes on, the more both sides are losers. I will listen to the Charlie Rose interview but I wonder if they talk about Mugabe and Zimbabwe? Why can’t Syria follow that route?

    If you are against a military intervention also then we agree. I am not sure what we are arguing about.

    Posted by AIG | February 7, 2012, 6:39 pm
  31. AIG,

    I did not say a word about boots on the ground. FYI an areal taking out of the bashar’s tanks is very feasible and it would provide the people of Syria to liberate themselves. Also, Qatar suggested sending Arab troops in NOT American or NATO. I don’t know what’s your point in not helping Syrians although others seem to be copacetic with you.

    I guess that Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Chad, Libya, Panama, Grenada and off course the aborted attempt in Lebanon is not sufficient examples for you…These were all military adventures in the past twenty years only…Shall I go back to 1973 when American pilots had to bail out your IDF??

    Posted by danny | February 7, 2012, 6:52 pm
  32. danny, in this quote, are you referring to Operation Just Reward ca 2006?

    “and off course the aborted attempt in Lebanon is not sufficient examples for you…”

    Posted by lally | February 7, 2012, 7:05 pm
  33. lally…Good one. 😀
    However; I was referring to the US marines in 1983..

    Posted by danny | February 7, 2012, 7:50 pm
  34. danny

    The 2006 example is a far better fit if radical transformation of the dominant paradigm is the overweening priority of the self-appointed saviors.

    CNN (aka Syria!!! Central) is reporting that the administration has ordered the P-gon to put together various scenarios for rescuing some Syrians.

    I wonder if they’ll be including the postponed wargames scenario featuring 5000 American boots in the Negev training with their IDF counterparts? They could provide “security” for that safezone-for-Alawites as per IDF CoS Benny Gantz…..AND have a clear, easypeasy path for unfettered weapons transfers to the resistance.

    Nah. We couldn’t be THAT insane. Could we?

    Posted by lally | February 7, 2012, 9:00 pm
  35. lally,
    I hope that no one is that crazy but I am intereted in your take on an issue that has been raised more than once by Fisk: the silence of Israel, maybe I should say the relative silence of Israel.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 7, 2012, 10:13 pm
  36. Danny,

    Using only air power in Syria will not work. It will just cause a large number of civilian casualties. Just to get air superiority and fly freely in Syrian air space, a week of of heavy bombardments of Syrian installations is needed. Bombing tanks on city streets will just destroy cities. The Syrian regime is not dumb and has learned the Libya lesson. It will not amass large formations that are easy to spot and target. It will start moving soldiers, supplies and ammunition in civilian vehicles. Furthermore, if air fields in Turkey are used, what is stopping Syria from shooting rockets at those unless first all the tens of thousands of Syrian rockets are taken out? For your plan to work you need a massive bombing campaign that will kill huge amounts of Syrians.

    As for your examples, do you really think that Panama and Granada are cases you want to hang your hat on? You give Iraq as an example. But that exactly is my example. Are Arabs or Iraqis happy about the intervention in Iraq? Most are not despite the fact Saddam has been disposed. So why bother in Syria?

    American pilots did not fight for Israel in 1973. Are you talking about pilots that flew in supplies? You really think that is a good example of intervention?

    Posted by AIG | February 8, 2012, 12:00 am
  37. GK.

    I’m not familiar with Fisk’s theory of the relative Israeli silence. Is it related to Sherlock Holmes dog that didn’t bark or the smile of the Cheshire cat or both? I’ll check it out.

    Posted by lally | February 8, 2012, 1:05 am
  38. AIG,

    I always thought of you as a better thinker…But it must be very cold on the kibbutz nowadays. 😀
    Whether it takes ten days, fifteen or a month; the rag tag Syrian army that has been unable with all its brutality to put down the peaceful uprising speaks volumes. I feel so humbled that you, who was full of joy when Israel bombed Lebanon in 2006 for 34 DAYS and thought all the bombing was strategic now feel for “civilian casualties”. Kudos dude for caring.

    The unadulterated hot air about Syria bombing Turkey,is just that. If Turkey as a government wants to participate then what’s Israelis issue with that? Oh..I remembered you will lose Turkey as your military ally as it will get even closer to the Arab regimes. More draft blowing eh from the Arab Awakening.

    The “Syrian army” as you state it is nothing but a few battalions of maher’s boys. They are tired and exhausted according a several reports from being moved from a city to another.They will be dealt with just like Milo’s and Gadfly’s men were.

    IMHO the days of inaction are almost over. The diplomatic cards are being played one by one. There will be a solution soon. Create your Alawite only safe haven…why don’t you?

    PS. Any invasion of a sovereign country is just that whether it is Panama or Grenada. Do you guys think the same about Lebanon as well every time you take a whack at its people?

    Posted by danny | February 8, 2012, 8:02 am
  39. Danny,

    The Lebanon civil war took 15 years, why do I have to remind you of that? Why do you assume that when the Syrian army crumbles the civil war will be over? It will only have began and with no ability whatsoever by the international community to pressure the sides involved.

    During the Lebanese civil war, Israel was attacked many times. It is quite reasonable that during the Syrian civil war Turkey or Israel will be attacked especially if they aid one side or another. Someone will control Syria’s rockets and chemical weapons even if it won’t be a strong central government but some Alawite phalanges.

    Again, you miss the whole point. I would be more than happy to have Turkey take care of the mess in Syria. Israel loses nothing by that, only gains. The very narrow Israeli interest is a stable and strong central government in Syria that is accountable for violence coming from its territory. The worst case for Israel is a Lebanon like scenario were terrorist groups roam free and are not controlled by a central government. But why would Turkey intervene? Nothing good will come to Turkey from it just as nothing good has happened for the Americans from intervening in Iraq.

    It is typical of people who do not actually live in the middle east to say something like:”The diplomatic cards are being played one by one. There will be a solution soon.” Where have you seen a stable democratic solution in an Arab country? I’ll grant you Tunisia when I see the first peaceful transition of power. Otherwise, keep dreaming.

    Posted by AIG | February 8, 2012, 11:12 am
  40. AIG,

    You are going in circles. Thank you for your input. My point was that the civilized world can not stand idle while people are being massacred daily. You are bringing forth the point that it is hard. Yes; it would be. But I give people more credit than you to Arabs. It is your contention that Arabs cannot govern themselves…or it is your wish or desire.
    I remember in the first months of the Libyan campaign when people like yourself that the west was getting submerged in quicksand..Well? You can ask any Libyan and they would say they’d rather be free as it is now than under the Tyrant Gaddafi….Find me one Libyan who regretted the west’s help (not Gaddafi’s cronies eh?)!
    It is the duty of the western world and humanity to help the hapless and helpless. There is always a way. It is people like you that tyrants count on to stay in power.
    Assad will fall and let the people of Syria decide on who governs them….as for casualties…well no one said freedom comes with no sacrifices.

    Posted by danny | February 8, 2012, 11:32 am
  41. Danny…

    In 50 years, if things don’t pan out very well, some Arabs who today supported Western intervention in Libya will blame Western intervention in Libya.

    People never take real responsibility for the positions they assume. The dither with the winds when it suits their argument. Isn’t that human nature?

    Posted by Gabriel | February 8, 2012, 11:49 am
  42. Danny,

    The basic point is still the following. If you want to fight in Syria, go do it yourself or ask the Syrian diaspora to do it. Don’t send others to do this thankless job.

    If Arabs can govern themselves, why can’t they fight for themselves? Why is it the duty of the Western World to help hapless and helpless Arabs and not the duty of the Arabs themselves? Egypt has a respectable airforce. KSA has a respectable airforce. If you are so confident of Arab abilities, don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.

    I was for air cover for the rebels in Libya. Especially since the rebels were doing all of the heavy lifting on the ground and initially the fighting was in the desert. But that is not the situation in Syria. It will turn out like Iraq where the Iraqis resent the American intervention. Anyone who intervenes in Syria will bear the responsibility for fixing it afterwards and will be blamed for what goes wrong, and much will go wrong.

    Posted by AIG | February 8, 2012, 12:14 pm
  43. Interesting discussion. Finally.

    Everyone here is correct. AIG, Danny, GK, Gabriel.

    Here’s my 2 cents:

    The US should support freedom and democracy as much as possible. As a rule.

    The US has experience doing this on the cheap – Libya or full out – Iraq.

    In both cases, these 2 countries did not turn out to be shinning example of peace and democracy. But it doesn’t matter. If these countries want assistance – we will be ready to help and further bilateral relationships.

    I would rather be “frier” (dupe) who supports freedom and democracy, then a
    savvy supporter of despots and criminals.

    I think the US should support the Syrian opposition as much as possible on the cheap (Libya).

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 8, 2012, 12:22 pm
  44. AP,

    “I think the US should support the Syrian opposition as much as possible on the cheap (Libya).”

    And then get accused of using “divide and conquer” or arming the future “taliban” if an Islamic regime emerges? I am against any action not led by the Arab League and funded by its countries and that it is clear that it has wide public opinion support in the Arab world.

    Posted by AIG | February 8, 2012, 12:54 pm
  45. AIG,

    You have a point, but I don’t want the US to base its foreign policy on a handful of rich baffoons. We’re better than that.

    Getting accused by supporters of despots doesn’t phase me. If non-democratic forces emerge, we stop supporting them. It’s that simple.

    By supporting freedom and democracy, we will always be the point-man in international relations and the center of the (economic) free world.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 8, 2012, 1:29 pm
  46. AP,

    The US has to base its policy on whether in the end its actions will lead to democracy or not. And in my opinion, any intervention that is not backed by Arab leaders and the Arab public, will not lead to a democracy in Syria. In fact, it may hamper it. The US and the West must be very careful not to “own” (be responsible) for any aspect of Syria’s future like the case in Iraq.

    Posted by AIG | February 8, 2012, 1:38 pm
  47. I agree.

    And in my opinion, any intervention that is not backed by Arab leaders and the Arab public, will not lead to a democracy in Syria.

    Here comes the backing from Arab Leaders……three….two….one…


    That was easy!

    Oh, here comes the backing from the Arab Public….three…two…one….


    Let me get out Google Translate for this one!

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 8, 2012, 2:27 pm
  48. New post up, on Syria. Shift the discussion over there?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 8, 2012, 2:40 pm

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