If amateur political analysis and debate is the Lebanese national sport, conspiracy theorizing must be its major leagues. The appeal of the conspiracy theory in Lebanon is entirely understandable. It injects reason into the bewildering arena of shifting alliances, chronic instability, and random acts of violence, which animate the political stage. Beirutis root out conspiracies with the zeal of string theorists searching for an elegant narrative that can turn chaos into order. It is an intellectually and emotionally satisfying activity, far more rewarding than philately or cricket.

The perfect conspiracy theory combines several ingredients: counterintuitiveness; actors with no free will who are easily manipulated like automata; a straightforward reading of the same events that is rejected out of hand; and a smugly arched Levantine eyebrow.

When combined perfectly, these ingredients produce a kind of cathartic experience. For some reason, the Lebanese feel at ease when they know that several predatory nations are dancing around their tiny country, rubbing their hands together and cackling menacingly as they cook up ways to exploit and subjugate them. Being reminded of this on a regular basis makes them feel safe, for indeed, the alternatives are far more disturbing.

For all of its centrality to political life in Lebanon, the conspiracy theory is hardly given the attention it deserves in the mainstream press. It is shunned, swept under the rug, and replaced by more prosaic analysis supposedly informed by journalistic responsibility. I say: To hell with responsibility! Let us embrace our national pastime and celebrate it, for what would this country be without it?

This series will seek to document the most delicious Lebanese conspiracy theories that land on this observer’s plate.

(Read the whole series here.)


13 thoughts on “Conspiracies

  1. Mabrook QN effendi!

    On your friend Abbas, one has to note that ending a rebellion “a la Hama” is not a Syrian trademark anymore. The Lebanese proved that they can do it (Nahr el-Bared, not to mention the civil war stuff), the Americans have done it numerous times (from Hiroshima to Falluja) and of course the Israelis have mastered it (From eliminating hundreds of villages of the map to Jenin most recently). So no one can claim the moral high ground.

    One last note.. what’s with the argileh smoking cow? What are you trying to say QN?! That the Lebanese are becoming fat cows sitting on their backs smoking argileh?! That argileh smoking enhances your milk production?! That you prefer Ma’assal flavored milk?! I’m intrigued with the symbolism!


    Posted by Idaf | October 2, 2008, 5:40 am
  2. Habibi Idaf,

    You are right, as usual. But I will let you explain this to my friend Abbas, because I don’t like to argue with him.

    As for the cow and the argileh… my job is not to explain, only to depict.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 2, 2008, 5:51 am
  3. As for the cow and the argileh… my job is not to explain, only to depict.

    Nice one.

    I like Abbas’s ambiguous clarity, but I am not sure if he is right

    BTW, Congratulation on your own Blog. I’ll try and visit every once in a while

    Posted by Off the Wall | October 5, 2008, 3:38 pm
  4. idaf,

    nahr el-bared? your comment certainly fits within this toppic.

    Posted by ghassan | February 11, 2009, 8:21 am
  5. the Lebanese people are the most despicable and the most immoral ever came to earth.
    they are crooks, thieves con artists you name it they have it. I am not proud of my Lebanese background. Thank God billions of times that I have left Lebanon for no return and trillions of thanks to the great USA for granting me their citizenship.
    Lebanon may go to hell with her people and the so called Arabs.

    Posted by mahdoumi | August 7, 2010, 9:54 pm
  6. Why has nobody explored the growing closeness between Thierry Meyssan and the Iranians? Nine years after the publication of his seminal book, 9/11: the Big Lie, he is reduced to defending Iran in a series of articles which accuse the Americans of posting disinformation about the country’s election on Twitter and of insisting that adulterous woman in Iran are no longer put to death by stoning.
    One possible cause is that the super wealthy Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who control a third of the country’s economy, have just sponsored Monsieur Meyssan to the tune of one million dollars to produce a long overdue fresh literary masterpiece
    The book – I know not the title but that it is to be published later this month – deals with the assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafiq Hariri back in 2005. Why such a historical event? Except to say that Meyssan claims his book will contain evidence that the state of Israel – the No.1 enemy of Iran – was behind the murder.
    Exactly what this proof will be we await with interest – particularly as Hezbollah said a similar thing two months ago. In that case it produced aerial photographs it says it downloaded from an Israeli drone showing Israel had been tracking Mr Hariri long before his assassination. Sources say Meyssan will expand on that – though he will have not be testing this evidence with any form of independent verification.
    Hezbollah has also been doing a good job of minding Meyssan from his new base in Beirut, in particular for his frequent forays, totalling six months, into Iran to write and research his book, as well as showing it chapter by chapter to his paymasters.
    One feature which will remind those familiar with Meyssan style is that he will say the attack on the Lebanon prime minister as by a missile and not the car bomb which everyone else (excepting Hezbollah says). Mons Meyssan said that the Pentagon was hit by a missile and not by American Airlines 77 – this despite scores of witnesses to the crash.
    Let us hope for Meyssan’s sake this account is not demolished in quite the same way that this last book was.

    Posted by frenchphilosopher | October 7, 2010, 10:51 am
  7. “Beirutis root out conspiracies with the zeal of string theorists searching for an elegant narrative that can turn chaos into order. It is an intellectually and emotionally satisfying activity, far more rewarding than philately or cricket.”

    Hi QIfa,

    After reading this, I find the writings of Nassim Taleb (author of “The Black Swan”) even more intriguing.

    Posted by Jacob Blues | June 16, 2011, 11:14 am


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