Friday, December 28, 2007
The opposition argument is based on the their fear that the next President will suffer a similar fate to the infamous Emil Lahoud, who was practically shunned and isolated by the whole world and did not have a say on policy making. the argument sounds valid, however the timing is quite suspicious!
So why is Hezbollah forcefully postponing the presidential election, insisting on a political agreement with guaranties on all issue, and especially on the formation of the next government, even though once Suleiman will be elected he will still have a lot of influence on the formation of the new government as he co-signs the decree to from it. So if he is not happy with the proposed division of the number of ministers between the two coalitions, or the distribution of ministries, he can simply refuse to sign and all parties will have to keep on negotiating to reach a better deal.
The answer to that question has several facets: first Hezballah and Aoun do not completely trust General Suleiman, no matter what they claim. Second, Aoun cannot afford to lose his bid on the presidency, not for six years and especially not to a powerful and popular figure like the army chief, who would certainly threaten Aoun's own popular power base.
Third, at the moment the negotiations are between the 14 March and the 8th of March coalition, which hold the necessary MPs to enable a two third quorum in the parliament. But once Suleiman is elected the initiative will move from their hands to the hands of the president and he will be the one working on a deal with the 14 of March controlled parliamentary majority.
In the end it is all just a power struggle. This was the case since the Syrian army withdrew from Lebanon and this is still the case. It is a power struggle between two coalition, one advocating democracy and liberalism; the other, well judging by its allies Syria and Iran, i will leave it to you to figure out what they are advocating...
Monday, December 17, 2007
I apologize for my sparse posting but as you know the Lebanese political scene is becoming unbearable these days. There is no progress whatsoever, each concession by the 14 March coalition is met by more stringent demands and conditions by Hezbollah and its allies.
as usual today's parliamentary session was, once more, postponed to Saturday. Somehow i have stopped believing that Lebanon will ever elect a president. I hope i am wrong...
With that i leave you to enjoy your holidays and happy Adha, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Unfortunately, these conspiracy theorists are first of all biased, trying to project their twisted wishes on reality. For in the post September 11 world it is against the interests of the US to strike any deal that will strengthen Syria's (or any other Middle Eastern country) regional clout and influence. The days of sub contracting regional stability to a few power hubs are long gone.
Second, Lebanon is the US last beacon of democracy in the Middle East, allowing the Syrians to spread their control, once more, on the tiny country will be too high a price even for separating Syria from Iran. No the deal, if any, will be a lessening of Syria's isolation, increasing aid and investment in its economy, and a reinvigorated peace process that will return the Golan heights to Syria.
However, I believe that Syria will not break its alliance with Iran. Bashar is too weak and the Iranian have too much at stakes and invested in the Allawites regime to let him slip out of their hands.
Third, there are too many UNSC resolutions and vested interests in the current Lebanese democratic coalition to simply let it be, once more, overwhelmed by Syria or its allies' despotic and oppressive regime.
Finally, we are passing through a waiting period, where all parties, national and regional, are waiting for further developments before committing to a defined policy or alliance. And the 14 of March initiative to propsoe General Suleiman as a presidential candidate was extremely smart, as he is a candidate that the opposition cannot refuse. The initiative cornered Bashar Assad, as the Syrians and their allies were hoping for an extended void and all the clashes that it will engender, to increase their bargaining chips in the upcoming months. This move robbed them of a very important card and will allow the Lebanese to inch forward to strong and stable political system.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Meanwhile, General Aoun's position is slightly different, but it can be sumerized in two words "me or no one!" Of course some will claim that his latest proposal proved the contrary. However, his "initiative" was nothing more than a postponement of the current crisis for two years, just to enable him to grab the presidency before i tis too late.
So in a last ditch effort the 14 of March proposed the Army General as a candidate, despite earlier opposition and reticence. For example, I for one totally opposed General Suleiman candidacy when it was put forth a month or two ago, and i still do.
Nevertheless in an effort to avert chaos and safe the country another civil war, March 14 accepted yet another compromise and decided to support General Suleiman. I think that they have seen the danger that stalk us, especially with a prolonged presidential void, and a furious Aoun that keep threating with public unrest...
The opposition however have seemed reticent to accept. Although Suleiman was one of the compromise candidates they proposed. At first they demanded Aoun approval, then they refused any amendment to the constitution because they consider the government illegal. Excuse, excuse...
So now we are waiting (at times i feel that waiting is all what the Lebanese people do...) for this last serious chance to solve the crisis. either the opposition accept General Suleiman (which at first was one of their proposed consensual candidates) or this void will be prolonged for months.
Friday, November 23, 2007
In other words it is a status-quo, albeit a very dangerous one. The 14th March coalition will not elect a president with an absolute majority, while Hezbollah and Aoun will not form a second government.
Meanwhile, the current arrangement will continue. PM Siniora will keep his job and his government will rule the country in a low profile fashion. President Lahoud will go home and will not form a parallel government. But remember that is the best case scenario.
On the other hand, i would like to salute PM Siniora and the 14th of March. After all the assassination, threats and bullying our government stood fast and proved that violence and intimidation do not work with us. If Hezbollah wants a political change or a bigger share int he government they have to give concession and have a dialog. Violence is not acceptable nad it will not frighten us!!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Edges are fraught with dangerous problems, any misstep and you are in free fall, and once you are on an edge it is very, very difficult to get back safely.
So Lebanon presidential election will be held, if it does, on the very last day of Lahoud term. Pass that date all bets are off and all actions and counter actions will be possible.
48 hours before the election, the rumor mill is going crazy. Yesterday pessimism was abound. Today it seems most newspapers hint that Michel Edeh will be our next president.
Meanwhile, I can only relate an old French saying: do not sell the bear’s skin, before killing him.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Nassrallah lambasted the majority in his latest speech and undermined the French initiative, while Aoun attacked the rest of March 14 and clearly stated his opposition to any President other than himself!
the end game phase is upon us, the stakes are sky high and tension are rocketing. As both parties are waiting for the side that will blink first. Unfortunately, out of pride, megalomania, necessity or even sheer arrogance it seems that no one will blink and we will all fall into the unknown.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Nassrallah could not or did not wish to find a solution, instead he spent his speech insulting the 14 March coalition, which in turn resulted in a scalding response by Walid Joumblatt, who for the first time, since Nassrallah emerged on the political scene, practically insulted him!
Meanwhile, Nassrallah haven’t even named his candidate, maybe he is waiting till after the election (sic). This whole thing reminds me of the crisis to pass the International Tribunal; Nassrallah explained that he had several important amendments on the tribunal bylaws. Yet he never published these changes or even submitted them in secret to March 14 or any mediator.
But all that pale considering Nassrallah huge mistake: he admitted that Hezbollah was a militia. Let me explain: in his speech he declared “they only want a president to implement UNSCR 1559 … and I repeat even if the whole world comes, they will not be able to implement the article concerning Hezbollah in UNSCR 1559.”
Ah… what he said is pretty clear, no one can implement the clause concerning Hezbollah in UNSCR 1559, and the problem is that there is no clause concerning Hezbollah in 1559!!!! The only disbanding mentioned in the resolution is those of MILITIAS!!!
So Nassrallah has finally admitted that his organization is just another militia...
PS: Here is a partial transcript of the resolution if you want to read it all head over here:
Resolution 1559 (2004)
Adopted by the Security Council at its 5028th meeting, on 2 September 2004
The Security Council,
1. Reaffirms its call for the strict respect of the sovereignty, territorial
integrity, unity, and political independence of Lebanon under the sole and exclusive authority of the Government of Lebanon throughout Lebanon;
2. Calls upon all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon;
3. Calls for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias;
4. Supports the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory;
Monday, November 05, 2007
Unfortunately, the war proved him wrong... not only his missiles failed to protect Lebanon, but they caused untold destruction, as Israel bombed any missile launch site no matter where it was, and used Hezbollah's missiles as a pretext to continue the war for over a month.
Now fast forward to a few weeks ago, Nassrallah tries, once again, to threaten Israel and us with a big surprise he is preparing for any invading army if they dared attack Lebanon. It seems that it failed too. Because yesterday Hezbollah, breaching UN resolution 1701, and forgoing any common sense, embarked on a large military maneuvers in the area south of the Litani river and controlled by the UNIFIL.
His reason? to send a message to Israel -and his friends!!- that Hezbollah will stop any Israel attack against Lebanon, and these maneuvers are the greatest deterrence to Israel, and will stop it from ever thinking of attacking Lebanon. Maybe threating Israel with a big surprise was not deterrent enough!
Funny thing is, during Hezbollah "divine" maneuvers, the Israeli Air force was freely flying overhead and watching, with interest, the maneuvers aimed to stop them form any further incursions or attacks...Ah irony!
Once again, Nassrallah's deterrence will fail, and will certainly have a catastrophic opposite effect. If Israel was hesitant to launch any attack against the party of god, i think this maneuver will strengthen their resolve and encourage them to launch a large scale attack against Hezbollah.
What can i say? Excellent deterrence strategy Mr. Nassrallah! Keep up the good work, especially that the last destroyed bridges from the summer war have been finally repaired. Just in time!
Thursday, November 01, 2007
As events are racing towards a clash ( Lebanon presidential election due by 24 November, Iran nuclear activities, Israel flexing its muscles, Syria playing around…) I cannot help but to offer the likeliest scenarios concerning the fate of Lebanon’s election.
The most likely scenario is a presidential election with an absolute majority quorum, by the 14 March coalition. The opposition, claiming that the quorum should be the two third of all MPs, threatened revolution and coup d’état if the 14 March government try to go through such a presidential election.
The second scenario, a bit less likely, would be a void, the president will not be elected and Prime Minster Siniora’s government will take charge of presidential powers.
The third scenario would be a miracle, a consensual president, and frankly I do not see this happening.
Now let us hear what you have to say and which scenario you think will happen.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The caricature is from An Nahar prominent Lebanese newspaper. it depicts the three European minsters who visited Lebanon recently, bringing a balloon with compassion written over it to the Lebanese who are drowning and in need of much more than some compassionate words...
Friday, October 19, 2007
Now back to reality, Nassrallah came on TV and just said that. As always he was hailed a hero, a true leader, while PM Siniora just for answering the questions of an Israeli journalist, with no prior knowledge his identity, is accused, on regular basis, of treason and collaboration…
So anyone care to explain? Or maybe this is just another example of Al Manar’s and Hezbollah’s double standards and hypocrisy!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Additionally, Hezbollah always hinted and insinuated that 14 March were in league with Israel, yet he now considers that only Israel can be behind the latest assassinations? So according to him Israel is killing its own allies!
But I am not surprised; Nassrallah speeches have become a minor occurrence in Lebanon turbulent political life. But what was striking was the fact that, less than two months before the end of the constitutional period for the election of the president, Nassrallah did not nominate General Aoun as the opposition candidate!
If anyone had any doubt left about the chance of Aoun becoming president I think it all over now. And I can confidently say that Aoun will not be the next President. Who will be the next president and whether we will have a new president ate two questions that I will answer in my next articles…
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Robert Fisk: Dinner in Beirut, and a lesson in courage
Secrecy, an intellectual said, is a powerful aphrodisiac. Secrecy is exciting. Danger is darker, more sinister. It blows like a fog through the streets of Beirut these days, creeping down the laneways where policemen – who may or may not work for the forces of law and order – shout their instructions through loud-hailers.
No parking. Is anyone fooled? When the Lebanese MP Antoine Ghanem was assassinated last week, the cops couldn't – or wouldn't – secure the crime scene. Why not? And so last Wednesday, the fog came creeping through the iron gateway of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt's town house in Beirut where he and a few brave MPs had gathered for dinner before parliament's useless vote on the presidential elections – now delayed until 23 October. There was much talk of majorities and quorums; 50 plus one appears to be the constitutional rule here, although the supporters of Syria would dispute that. I have to admit I still meet Lebanese MPs who don't understand their own parliamentary system; I suspect it needs several PhDs to get it right.
The food, as always, was impeccable. And why should those who face death by explosives or gunfire every day not eat well? Not for nothing has Nora Jumblatt been called the world's best hostess. I sat close to the Jumblatts while their guests – Ghazi Aridi, the minister of information, Marwan Hamade, minister of communications, and Tripoli MP Mosbah Al-Ahdab and a Beirut judge – joked and talked and showed insouciance for the fog of danger that shrouds their lives.
In 2004, "they" almost got Hamade at his home near my apartment. Altogether, 46 of Lebanon's MPs are now hiding in the Phoenicia Hotel, three to a suite. Jumblatt had heard rumours of another murder the day before Ghanem was blown apart. Who is next? That is the question we all ask. "They" – the Syrians or their agents or gunmen working for mysterious governments – are out there, planning the next murder to cut Fouad Siniora's tiny majority down. "There will be another two dead in the next three weeks," Jumblatt said. And the dinner guests all looked at each other.
"We have all made our wills," Nora said quietly. Even you, Nora? She didn't think she was a target. "But I may be with Walid." And I looked at these educated, brave men – their policies not always wise, perhaps, but their courage unmistakable – and pondered how little we Westerners now care for the life of Lebanon.
There is no longer a sense of shock when MPs die in Beirut. I don't even feel the shock. A young Lebanese couple asked me at week's end how Lebanon has affected me after 31 years, and I said that when I saw Ghanem's corpse last week, I felt nothing. That is what Lebanon has done to me. That is what it has done to all the Lebanese.
Scarcely 1,000 Druze could be rounded up for Ghanem's funeral. And even now there is no security. My driver Abed was blithely permitted to park only 100 metres from Jumblatt's house without a single policeman checking the boot of his car. What if he worked for someone more dangerous than The Independent's correspondent? And who were all those cops outside working for?
Yet at this little dinner party in Beirut, I could not help thinking of all our smug statesmen, the Browns and the Straws and the Sarkozys and the imperious Kouchners and Merkels and their equally smug belief that they are fighting a "war on terror" – do we still believe that, by the way? – and reflect that here in Beirut there are intellectual men and women who could run away to London or Paris if they chose, but prefer to stick it out, waiting to die for their democracy in a country smaller than Yorkshire. I don't think our Western statesmen are of this calibre.
Well, we talked about death and not long before midnight a man in a pony tail and an elegant woman in black (a suitable colour for our conversation) arrived with an advertisement hoarding that could be used in the next day's parliament sitting. Rafiq Hariri was at the top. And there was journalist Jibran Tueni and MP Pierre Gemayel and Hariri's colleague Basil Fleihan, and Ghanem of course. All stone dead because they believed in Lebanon.
What do you have to be to be famous in Lebanon, I asked Jumblatt, and he burst into laughter. Ghoulish humour is in fashion. And at one point Jumblatt fetched Curzio Malaparte's hideous, brilliant account of the Second World War on the eastern front – Kaputt – and presented it to me with his personal inscription. "To Robert Fisk," he wrote. "I hope I will not surrender, but this book is horribly cruel and somehow beautiful. W Joumblatt [sic]." And I wondered how cruelty and beauty can come together.
Maybe we should make a movie about these men and women. Alastair Sim would have to play the professorial Aridi, Clark Gable the MP Al-Ahdab. (We all agreed that Gable would get the part.) I thought that perhaps Herbert Lom might play Hamade. (I imagine he is already Googling for Lom's name.) Nora? She'd have to be played by Vivien Leigh or – nowadays – Demi Moore. And who would play Walid Jumblatt? Well, Walid Jumblatt, of course.
But remember these Lebanese names. And think of them when the next explosion tears across this dangerous city.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
However, several observations can be made of today’s parliament session to elect a new president of the republic. First, the two third quorum was obviously not reached (only 76 MPs entered the parliament hall, while the quorum is 86) but the 14 march coalition was fully present and showed strong cohesion, but the real test will come in the last few days, if the 14 March coalition decided to elect a president by only an absolute majority (65 MPs).
Second, the crisis was postponed but not averted. And if the current internal and regional situation remain the same, an agreement will not be reached, and in the last days of the constitutional time frame, the 14 march coalition will elect a president with only a simple majority. However, the opposition will not accept him and probably form a parallel government and maybe another president. In short a division of the country…
Finally, until the next session (a month from now) let us fervently hope that no MPs will be assassinated, though I have a gut feeling that our wishes and hope will not come true…
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Of course he is one of 14 March, part of Amine Gemayel’s bloc, who are at the opposit side of Aoun.
Antoine Ghanem was recently called a “kitty” by the glorious General Aoun. I wonder now who is the “kitty”? The brave men and women of the independence movement, threatened by death and assassination on every corner or those who are in league with the assassins, peacefully hiding...
Monday, September 10, 2007
And i will leave you with a new edict (see here for my last one, that is still valid):
Aoun will not become our new president!
And to keep you busy until i come back, here is a couple of old articles you might find interesting: my first impressions after Hezbollah kidnapped the two Israeli soldiers on 12 July 2006, and the rest of my coverage of the war.
You can also read my comments on the 2005 election. And finally my series of articles after the assassination of PM Rafik Hariri.
Enjoy and see you in a week...
Thursday, September 06, 2007
I usually do not believe in conspiracy theories, but this is way too much to be just a coincidence. I think that Lebanon’s short and medium term future is being decided at the moment in Rome. To be more precise, I think the meeting will be about choosing a new president and giving Aoun a last chance to make a public turnabout…
And if you want to know if this round of “secret talks” have succeeded, just watch Joumblatt tonight on LBC…Call me a pessimist but I think it will fail…
Sunday, September 02, 2007
For the first time since the infamous 1970 Cairo accord (in which the Lebanese state gave the PLO sovereignty of all refugee camps) the Lebanese state controls, once more, one of the Palestinian camps. Hopefully the rest of camps will follow soon, with less blood shed.
So again Mabrouk and may the state spread its lawful control over all its territory!
Friday, August 31, 2007
It seems that I have several issues to talk about. First there is an article by Michael Young (the Opinion editor of the Daily Star -a Lebanese English newspaper- and who usually write poignant article that leans towards March 14th position) that speaks about the lack of serious and on the ground efforts of Saad Hariri and the Future Movement towards their popular base and how he must come back to Lebanon to spear head the 14 of March movement in these critical months. A very interesting and honest article, in my opinion.
Next there is the whole mess with the Human Rigth Watch organization and their report on Hezbollah's violations and war crimes in July 2006 fighting with Israel. The HRW planned to published the report during a press conference, Hezbollah objected and threatened that they will hold demonstrations in front of the hotel, where the press conference would take place. HRW backed down and launched the report on its website without a press conference. A terrible shame if you ask me.
Here is the link to the report, and the page of the Israeli-Lebanese conflict (if you wanna judge the fairness of the organization) I recommend everyone to read it (at least the summary) and I will post a full analysis of the report soon.
Finally, I still to write my comments on the Annahar study of Lebanon’s population that I talked about in my previous post.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The study is in Arabic and Annahr articles are only free for one day, so if you wanna have a look you need to hurry. However i will try to post a summary of the major findings tomorrow.
Monday, August 27, 2007
According to a recent Sofres poll, Lebanese Christians have become steadily more critical of opposition leader Michel Aoun since the escalation of Lebanon’s political crisis in January. Nevertheless, Aoun remains the most popular choice for president. Explaining this situation goes a long way to revealing Aoun’s political strengths and weaknesses.
According to the poll’s findings, the ongoing political deadlock has caused Aoun’s reputation to erode significantly among Christians. In a January Sofres poll, 50% of Christians stated that they had a favorable impression of Aoun, while 40% had a negative impression. By May, only 41% of Christians answered that they had a favorable opinion, and 52% had a negative opinion.
In contrast, March 14 leader Samir Geagea saw his favorability rating improve from 43% positive and 45% negative in January, to 54% positive and 40% negative in May.
The decline in Aoun’s reputation has been mirrored by a Christian shift toward March 14 in general. Christian support for March 14 grew from 35% in January to 42% in May, while support for March 8 shrunk slightly during the same time period, from 34% to 31%. 27% of Christians, however, still respond that they support neither March 8 nor March 14, a figure that has been relatively stable throughout the duration of the conflict.
The engine for this growing discontent seems to be Aoun’s alliance with Hezbollah. Many Christians are, and always have been, wary of the armed Shia group. When asked which party represented the greatest threat to them, 25% of Christians, a plurality, named Hezbollah. 55% of Christians favored the unconditional disarmament of Hezbollah in May – an increase from 47% two months prior. Disapproval of Aoun’s Memorandum of Understanding with Hezbollah has also increased recently, from 41% in March to 52% in May.
Aoun’s advisors should be telling him that his presidential chances remain good – but that his alliance with Hezbollah is causing him to slowly bleed Christian support. He is currently benefiting from divided Christian strength among the March 14 forces and the strong support base he built up before 2005. However, these are two rapidly-dissolving advantages: the March 14 coalition will likely soon unite around a presidential candidate, and the longer Aoun remains tied to groups like Hezbollah, the faster many Christians are going to forget about his past accomplishments.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Now fast rewind to a couple of months ago, similar event, Prime Minster Siniora held a sumptuous marriage celebration for his son in the Saray (the Prime Minster’s Palace) For several days however AL Manar top news was a detailed coverage of the celebration, that dwelled on the kind of food that was served, the invited personalities and even the color of the napkins…
Al Manar ridiculed PM Siniora, asking how he dared use the Saray for personal use, even though PM Siniora hardly ever goes out of the compound for security reasons. The campaign went for days and days, frankly it was nauseating.
This time around not a word not even an insinuation was uttered on the President and his son’s marriage. That’s my friends is called pure hypocrisy…
Monday, August 20, 2007
The General first went a held a long meeting with the Maronite patriarch, to get his blessing, especially that the General’s appointment will require a constitutional amendment.
And then the General went on a media rampage selling his candidacy. And in a typical Lebanese fashion he flip flopped between different positions in order to please all influential factions that governs the outcome of the Presidential election (the US, France, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and their respective Lebanese representatives)
So the General declared that neither the Lebanese Government nor the Syrian intelligence provided any help or support to Fateh Al ISalm, the terrorist group, fought by the army in the north. Additionally, he furiously vented for the lack of support and help to the Lebanese army, then two days later thanked the United States for the substantial and important help it is providing to the army…
Personally I am against his candidacy. I think one general every decade is more than enough! And after our experience with General Lahoud I will need at least two or three decades before I could even consider a former general as the president of Lebanon.
Finally, in another media stunt that could lead to a war, Mr. Nassrallah claimed that in the event Israel attacked Lebanon he has a “big surprise that could change the war and the fate of the whole regional” what Nassrallah is hinting to is open to many speculations, and one of them is that Hezbollah has weapons of mass destruction in its possession.
But one thing is for sure in International Relations you NEVER EVER threaten or claim to have a weapon of mass destruction. This would immediately provide the international community and Israel with a legitimate and concrete argument to attack Hezbollah. And if Nassrallah’s statement was not intended to give that message, well he should clarify it and fast…
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I reached this number by taking the final vote tally for Aoun’s candidate 39534 and then I subtracted the Armenian vote 7300 and Murr’s bloc 10400, various Muslims votes (around 1500) and the SSNP (which most analyst place around 2000)
In between I calculated Murr’s bloc to be around 10400 because in 2005 most analyst placed it around 13000 or 14000 and if one looks at the numbers in Murr strongholds (Imart shelhoub, Btegrine and Biskenta) he lost around 15% to 20% of his popularity, so I went with 20%.
The number we get is 18334=39534-(7300+10400+1500+2000) and that is how many voters owe their allegiance to Aoun.
If we apply the same process to the 2005 election this is what we get: Aoun candidate on his list get an average of 53000 votes, out of this 13000 were for Murr, 7500 for the Armenians, 1500 various Muslims and 2500 SSNP. So Aoun voters amount to 28500.
So 28500-18334= 10166 which translates into a whooping 35.6% drop!!! Of course we need to substrate the 4.2% drop in participation (51.2% in 2005 and 47% in 2007) so this lead us to a final number of 31.4%
Finally, I will add that the Tachnak Armenian party said that it participated by around 8400 (ie 1000 vote more than I calculated) unfortunately I cannot verify this number because there is some mixed voting district where Armenians and other sects voters cast their ballot, so it is impossible to calculate exactly their numbers. (in Lebanon most voting centers are divided on sectarian basis) But in any case if that was true than Aoun popularity dropped by an even larger percentage!
Additionally, Aoun apologist blamed this drop on several factors, such as compassion for the assassinated MP Pierre Gemayel whose seat was in play. Abdo Saad, the pro Aounist electoral analyst, in his article said that this factor place a role as 51.7% of Women voted for Amine Gemayel while 51.9 voted for Aoun candidate. Well if that is true than this factor had a minimal affect that does not amount to more than a 3.6% change (if we considered that both sex should have voted the same) so the drop in Aoun popularity is still 27.8, in short no matter the excuse one can find Aoun popularity dropped at least, and I stress at least by 25%, regardless of all the factor Aoun supports blame…
One last point, the whole issue with the Armenians and blaming them for the defeat of the 14 March candidate, was a sorry thing. It should have never happened, even if there was widespread election manipulation or rigging. This is Lebanon and these ways have always happened one cannot blame a whole sect because some Tachnak party official wanted to squeeze a few more votes out of his consistency to better his options. And as I said before, all in all it was a free and relatively transparent election, so congratulation to the winner and long live democracy.
Monday, August 06, 2007
First of all it is a victory for democracy and for the government of Lebanon, which proved to be fair, democratic and totally unbiased. The government proved it legitimacy and its neutrality in the election.
As the full detailed results have not been announced yet, i will limit myself to a few remarks: My earlier predications was slightly off (as I awarded Aoun with more votes) but all in all what I predicted “a close battle with a slight advantage to Aoun” materialized!
Additionally, it seems that Aoun lost much more than the 15% I forecasted. The moment I get the detailed results I will make the full calculations. But it seems that Aoun got less 45% of the Maronite votes and his support dropped by at least 20%.
And for all FPM supporters who downplayed the importance of the SSNP and Baath in this election, I can only say that Aoun candidate only won because of the SSNP and Baath parties votes (remember the difference of 418 votes between the two candidates!!!)
In the end, no blood was spilled and that was a miracle, Aoun nearly caused a major riot by asking his supporters to descend to the central counting building, but the quick Army reaction saved us form the worse.
There was no big winners and no big loser. A usless battle that would not solve anything, on the contrary it strengthened the division between the two main Christians parties and thrust the Armenians in the middle of a battle they should have avoided at all cost!
There was no big winners and no big loser. A usless battle that would not solve anything, on the contrary it strengthened the division between the two main Christians parties and thrust the Armenians in the middle of a battle they should have avoided at all cost!
At least we can still claim to be the only country in the arab world that has free elections...
At least we can still claim to be the only country in the arab world that has free elections...
So congratulation to the winner and long live democracy!!!!
Sunday, August 05, 2007
20.52: Till now they are both listing Gemayel as a winner.
21.11: Aoun announced his victory and called for his supporters to head to the central district where all the votes are being counted. HOWEVER both websites are indicating that Amine Gemayel won (with 2/3 of the votes counted thus far)
21.35: Gemayel's announced his victory! So both candidates have won!!!! Typical Lebanese elections. Additionally, Tayyar.org have stooped publishing results...
23.25: no official results yet, but it seems Aoun won by a very slim margin. A few minutes ago tayyar.org announced that Aoun candidate won by 4000 and received a phone call by the Minster of Interior who announced this victory. Yet they just removed this info... Aoun denied it and he just announced that his candidate won but the difference was small...In conclusion:
It seems that Aoun won, no official words yet but all indication shows that he won, by a several hundred votes.
Meanwhile, participation seems a bit less than 2005, but this drop would not translate into any gain for either candidate, as it will be all over the board.
Therefore, I will stick with my previous predictions: a very close battle with a slight advantage to Aoun.
In less than eight hours the voting will start. In Beirut, it is only a matter of participation; the higher it is the better it will be for Future Movement and its level of support, their candidate victory is almost certain. The battle lies to the east of Beirut, in Mount Lebanon, In Metn.
In the Metn Amine Gemayel, representing March 14 is fighting a titanic battle against Aoun, who is currently supported and aided by Syria’s allies in Lebanon, like Hezbollah, SSNP and the Baath Party…
In 2005 Aoun won with more than 20000 voice s of difference. This time the battle is much, much closer. Who will win? Is a question that can only be answered tomorrow by this time. Nevertheless, there are two certainties that can be reached tonight.
The first is that the difference between the two candidates will be less than 5% of the votes. The second is the level of tension, polarization and HATE have reached such a level that clashes are a most probable. And if events get out of control, with the army spread thin all over Lebanon, and blood drench the streets the repercussions will be catastrophic…
So in the end, good luck to all candidates, may the best man win and above all else let the election be peaceful…
Friday, August 03, 2007
Gebran Bassil, Aoun's son in law and one of the top FPM leaders said yesterday on LBC TV station, in a talk show (Kalam el Nas) that in fact the FPM did win 70% of the votes in 2005 (like they have been claiming for the past 2 years) they only won 63%, and a couple percentage drop would not diminish their victory. And one of the topics on the FPM bulletin board argues that even a 50%+1 results is a victory.
This indicates that the FPM is no longer expecting a big difference between the two candidates. So it seems that my analysis was in the right direction. The difference will be around 5% at most, either ways. And a recent survey by The International Information Institute published in Assafir and in Annahar point for a similar conclusion.
This survey also state that there is a 10% of undecided, and reported that by studying the breakdown of voting intentions by sect points out to 17.7% drop in Aoun popularity.
Additionaly, Al-Akhbare ( a newspaper very close to the opposition and to the FPM) stated that 7000 voters out of Michel Murr's bloc will vote for Amine Gemayel. If i compute this number in my previous analysis the result would become as follow:
So the final numbers become like this:
35650 + 7000 (from Murr up from 2800) for the Kateb and allies
25500 for Aoun and his allies
7000 for Murr (down form 11200, based on the new numbers)
Total for Amin Gemayel: 42600
Total for Aoun: 39500
And this shows that a 4000 difference in vote can change the whole result.
So once more, Sunday's election will be incredibly close, the two candidates are neck to neck with a slight advantage to Aoun...
Thursday, August 02, 2007
A very interesting article by Michael Young that analysis the current electoral battle in the Metn from a different and stricking perspective:
By Michael Young
All the signs are that the voting will go ahead in the Metn by-election this coming Sunday. However, partisans of both Michel Aoun and Amin Gemayel should be very careful. An Aoun victory would indeed be a setback for those who oppose Syrian efforts to return to Lebanon; but the election could potentially be a trap for Aoun, its practical outcome the general's political ruin and the destruction of Christian unity.
Whatever one thinks of Aoun, he has been a victim of two cutting blows coming from Damascus, and there is some question as to how we should read them. The first was the publication on a Syrian regime Web site, Champress, of alleged statements Aoun made in Berlin in which the general expressed sympathy for Syria. It turned out that Aoun did not utter the words in question, even if a compilation of his past remarks would show that he has said things not so very different.
The second blow was the announcement on Sunday by Ali Qanso, the head of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, that the party would back Aoun in the election. For anyone who knows the mood in the Metn and the antipathy felt for Syria and its utensils, Qanso's expression of comradeship could only harm Aoun in the eyes of many voters.
What's going on here? One interpretation could be that Syria is trying so maladroitly to appear like it is sinking Aoun, that the general will actually benefit from a contrary reaction of public compassion. That's possible. But another theory seems more credible, namely that Syria is looking to weaken Aoun, just as its main intention is to push the Christians into a destructive internecine crisis. Why? Perhaps to advance an alternative presidential contender at the right time, and to ensure that the Christians are so divided after the Metn election that they will be unable to agree on a different consensus candidate for the presidency.
An obvious question poses itself. If you are Michel Murr and the Tashnaq Party, doesn't recent Syrian behavior send a message that neither bloc will be penalized much for failing to fully support Aoun on Sunday? If Aoun is being set up for a fall, then Murr and the Armenians, by giving the general some votes, but not enough to win, may be there to implement that fall, even as they preserve their own interests. Murr will have saved his good ties with the Gemayels; the Armenians will have avoided a confrontation with March 14 and Saad Hariri, perhaps allowing them to negotiate a return of their candidates in Beirut in the next election; and both will have given Aoun enough votes so that he cannot blame them for his defeat.
Make sense? Let's take the speculation a bit further. If Aoun is to be eliminated, who do the Syrians really have in mind for the presidency? It's difficult to say, but if we go back to 1998, we might recall that Damascus, in turning Emile Lahoud into a president, was also advancing a broader political program: the militarization of the Lebanese regime. Part of the logic was that only the army and the security forces could contain the traditional political class - people like Rafik Hariri, Walid Jumblatt, and others. It's difficult to imagine that the Syrians have given up on that reasoning.
Let's also recall that recently Michel Murr floated the idea of bringing the army commander Michel Suleiman in as interim president for two years. Why would Murr do that, given that he is purportedly an ally of Michel Aoun, who sees Suleiman as a mortal rival? Could it be that Murr sensed something and that Syria's emerging candidate for the presidency is the army commander, now regarded by many Lebanese as something of a national champion? That doesn't mean that Suleiman is Syria's man - he has lost far too many soldiers fighting a Syrian-inspired project in Nahr al-Bared. However, it is defensible to have presidential ambitions, and none of the presidential candidates today, even those of March 14, would seriously contemplate being elected against Syria. The army commander's recent threat to resign if a second government were formed by the opposition suggested he was placing himself above the fray. As for his statement to the troops on Tuesday in Nahr al-Bared that the "salvation of the country will come from you," few things could have been clearer.
So as the Christians fight it out, Syria is figuratively taking us back to 1988, when Amin Gemayel left office. They start out with an unworkable demand - at the time the election of Suleiman Franjieh as president, today Aoun's candidacy. When unhappy Christians rally to block the option, the Syrians offer two other choices just as advantageous to them: Mikhail al-Daher or chaos, to paraphrase what the American envoy Richard Murphy supposedly told the Lebanese in encouraging Daher's election. Very soon, Suleiman will look like a superlative choice amid the ambient discord - both to the Lebanese and to an international community anxious about a vacuum at the top of the state. And if the Christians hinder that project, then what will follow is chaos.
The Metn by-election has already confirmed that Christians are more divided than ever before. In that sense, Aoun made a big mistake by pushing Camille Khoury into the ring in the first place. After all, what advantage was it for the general to highlight Christian differences when he could have affirmed that most Christians supported him on the basis of the 2005 elections? Whether Aoun and Gemayel compromise at the last moment is almost irrelevant at this stage. Avoiding a battle will lessen the damage, but already the Christians are at each other's throats, and the Syrians can only welcome this with their usual sense of humor.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Now to the numbers, but before that a brief sum up of the situation: Tensions are sky high in the Metn area. I fear that the elections will be wrought with violence and increased divisions between the two main factions (especially on the Christian side)
Meanwhile the army had to reinforce its deployment in the Metn and Beirut to enforce order, so between the North and South deployment and the border patrols with Syria the army is spread very, very thin.
The numbers: I collected these numbers from several sources, and are mostly based on the 2005 election and my own analysis. One of my main sources is Abdo Saad, a political analyst specialized in electoral statistics, but who heavily leans toward Aoun and his allies, and writes in the Al-Akhbar newspaper, which is backed by Hezblollah,. (Check out his articles on the elections here and here).
The main forces:
Kateb (the Phanlages) and their allies (14 March, LF…); Aoun and his supporters ( Baath party and SSNP both syria’s allies. I never thought I would ever say that Aoun is the ally of these two parties that have specialized in following Syria’s orders and killing Lebanese …); The Tachnak ( an Armenian party); and Michel Murr
31000 for the Kateb and their allies
30000 for Aoun and his allies
14000 for Murr
Most analysts agree that Aoun lost some of his support among Christians, putting a number to that loss is pretty difficult. But I feel that one can project a loss of 10% to 20%, and that is for his whole bloc, which includes his core base of support plus many independent and 14 March leaner who choose Aoun, in the last election, as a response for Joumblatt’s alliance with Hezbollah in 2005.Therefore, I will go for a 15% drop in Aoun’s support. And I will add 15% to the 14 March coalitions, especially that the former President Amine Gemayel has more notoriety and support, compared to his son in 2005.
The Armenians are calling to support Aoun, and their mobilization is traditionally high. Even though there are no Armenian candidates running for the seat, and there are many talks of internal disagreement in the Tachnak party, I will consider their support undiminished.
Finally, the Murr bloc. Michel Murr has reluctantly supported Aoun for the upcoming election, and an estimated one fifth (some claim is goes as high as 1/3) of his bloc leans for the Kateb or are indeed ex-Kateb or ex-LF (Geagea supporters) so I will go for a 20% (1/5) drop in his popularity.
Here I must take in account the long alliance shared between Murr and the Kateab that goes back to the 70’s and Murr reluctance in supporting Aoun, especially that he was the one who convinced General Aoun to leave a seat for the son of Amine Gemayel, who assassination a few months ago resulted in this partial election. Therefore, I reckon that he will not fully mobilize his voters and may, and I stress MAY, indirectly support Amine Gemayel. But I will leave these speculations out of my number crunching.
So the final numbers become like this:
35650 +2800(from Murr) for the Kateb and their allies
25500 for Aoun and his allies
11200 for Murr
Total for Amin Gemayel: 38400
Total for Aoun: 43500
The difference is 4900, out of 83500 voters, which translate into a mere 5% difference. In comparison, in 2005 the difference was 28000 or 34%.
So in conclusion, the election will be very, very close. And any further drop of Aoun support or lack of mobilization in Aoun Armenian support, or if (and this is the most probable outcome) Murr chooses to stand by the sideline or refuse to muster all his support, will result in a victory for Amine Gemayel.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
In the first article I will offer a brief overview of the situation and possible consequence of the electoral battle of the Metn. In the second part I will draw out an in-depth analysis of electoral forces and their orientations in the same district, and then moving on to a similar exercise of the election in Beirut’s second district in the third article.
The electoral race in the Metn will be a titanic struggle between former President Amin Gemayel, the father of the assassinated MP pierre Gemayel, who previously held the seat, and General Aoun, represented by Dr. Kamil Khoury.
This partial election will be an important milestone in the current political crisis in Lebanon. In short, if Aoun’s candidate wins, the General will cement his position as the sole Christian leader in Lebanon and will favorably affect his chance to become the next President, totally annihilating Amin Gemyal and his party’s –the Phalanges-political base and weight.
Meanwhile, if Amin Gemayel wins, this will signal the start of the disintegration of Aoun’s political influence and clout, and the emergence of an alternative Christian leadership, formed by a coalition of the Lebanese Forces (headed by Samir Geagea) the Phalanges (headed by Amin Gemayel and several other Chritian leaderships).
Therefore, the stakes are high, very high. And the battle has an ominous feel about it, that is why several analysts point out that a compromise may be reached and Aoun will withdraw his candidate, leaving the seat for Amin Gemayel.
If this happens, it will be considered a victory for the former President or at least a setback for Aoun. Additionally, the FPM (Free Patriotic Movement- Aoun’s party) base will be severely disenchanted (check out the current mood and expectation of the FPM base on their forums)
Continued in Part II
Monday, July 23, 2007
As always, Aoun brings about an aura of change, of bringing new blood into the Lebanese putrid political life. Alas, it is only a false illusion and that is a shame, and a terrible waist.
Let me elaborate, when he first came back for exile many saw him as a white knight coming to the rescue of our country. We hoped that he will bring positive change and cleanse the ugly political arena. However, he dived right in that smelly pool of mud, and became just another political player.
Many will argue otherwise, but the reality is Aoun is no better than any other politicians. And I believe that he is worse, because he had a change to ignite a new beginning and he failed...miserably...
For example in the first parliamentary election, he allied himself with Syria’s goon and henchmen all over Lebanon (the Syrian National Party, Michel Murr, Hezbollah and even the Baath Party)
His supporters argue that they were forced into such an alliance because the 14 of March coalition refused to give Aoun his proper share. An excuse that is even worse than the deed itself. For his action was an embodiment of all what ills the Lebanese political arena: the lack of principles, blaming others for one deeds and a constant flip flopping to better ones own interests and to hell with everything else. Aoun should have taken the high road, he might have lost a few seats but at least he would have proved his sincerity and moral toughness.
And now once again he had another perfect chance to make a change, by launching a new TV station, called OTV, which he claimed “will be a sincere and an unbiased source of news” However, he appointed Jean Aziz as the director and chief editor of its political program. Jean Aziz is one of the most biased, antagonistic and inaccurate journalist in Lebanon. He writes in Al-Akhbar a very biased newspaper, which excels at the fabrication of rumors and attacks against the 14 of March.
Mon General, once more your actions are a disappointment. Once more you fail in becoming a uniting force, only spreading dissent and divisions. Mon General you are only another one of our cursed, petty politicians who only care for their own narrow interests.
Monday, July 16, 2007
At least one can say that the explosion was averted, for a while. On the other hand, the situation in the south is rapidly deteriorating, with another attack on the UNIFIL, which fortunately was casualty free.
So we are back to waiting, for the next round, the next explosion or even the next war.
Meanwhile, NBN have reinstated their presenter who was sacked, in response for making fun -on air!- of the latest 14 March MP that was killed a few weeks ago…) Another proof that the rift between the two Lebanese factions (14 and 8 March0 is almost unbridgeable.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
One year ago, Nassrallah decided to cross the international border between Lebanon and Israel and kidnap two soldiers. Unfortunately, he did not know the consequences of his actions, or so he claimed...
On that day Hezbollah’s supporters were offering Lebanese sweets to passersby, in celebration of the kidnapping. The celebrations did not last long. For at eight PM that day, Israel started a war that lasted for 34 days, bombing and destroying large areas under hezbollah’s control.
After this war a vicious controversy erupted, Hezbollah claimed victory, claiming that Israel failed to accomplish any of its proclaimed results: destroying Hezbollah and returning he soldiers. On the other hand, Israel claimed that Hezbollah’s agenda and capabilities were severely harming because the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the south were bolstered by a factor of ten and Hezbollah main forces retreated behind the UN area of control (south of the litany river). And because of the destruction of most of Hezbollah’s long and medium range missiles and all of their bunkers and reinforcements along the borders, and the death of more than 400 fighters of Nassrallah’s men.
In reality however, nothing changed, both parties lost some and gained some. Meanwhile war drums echo, once more, behind the horizon. I believe that a year ago we only witnessed another battle in a very long war...
Friday, July 06, 2007
I have a recurrent dream, in which I am holding my ten years old daughter’s hand, walking… I would point to buildings, like my father did in 1990 and I tell her “this was the Place de l’etoile, there were many restaurants here. I used to love to sit in one of the many café around the square and watch people from all over the world pass by”
Walking future I would say “ here we went out on our first date , your mother and me” and then I smiled as I remembered another joyful memory, of my foolish, care free years, when we used to go out in Down Town and get so drunk.
She giggled softly “here? But it is only rubble”
Smiling sadly I nodded, “Yes, only rubble. But mixed with so much passion, with so much joy, and with so much blood”, I whispered.
My legs went on step by bloody step, almost against my will, into that great square. And tears started to flow from my eyes... In the middle stood a white pedestal, empty like the soul of my country, and there my heart broke down.
“Why are you crying dad? What happened here?”
“It is here we had our greatest victory and greatest defeat. It is here that our dream was born, but swiftly killed, when we left we each went our own way and nothing change...”
Leaving the destroyed heart of my beloved Beirut, I drove home, through war torn houses and street filled with rubble.
I drove and drove going nowhere,for this country has no future only a past...
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
In the current lull between a passing storm and the next, the Lebanese are trying, shyly, to return to their old routine. Gemayzeh and Monot (the most in vogue of Beirut’s night life areas), and the big malls are starting to fill again. Yet something is missing…
Maybe it is the absence of the Lebanese famous war-times trademark, our “insouciance”, which stems from our ingrained fatalism. And I think that it is absent because we are still in limbo, between the abyss and a fragile status quo. We don’t know what to do: do we switch to “war mode” or we stay in our “peace mode”.
Although, I no longer have any hope that we will doge the bullet this time, there is always hope. And it is this hope that is making us hold our breath and dream. That maybe against all odds, we will prevail and we will have finally live in a stable, prosperous and peaceful country for the first time since the early 70’s of last century…
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I think neither would. The head on crash would be ugly; its first signs are starting to show. Assassinations have resumed, the United Nations peace keeping forces (UNIFIL) in the south have been targeted, and six Spanish soldiers were killed, no solution is even conceivable. Most 14 march politicians have fled the country, with their families!
The summer promises to be very, very hot. I m so disgusted by the whole situation and who the politicians are still playing their silly blame game…
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
A Lebanese soldier raising our country's flag on "Fateh al Islam" last bastion in the camp!
PS: Memo to Hezbollah, next time you drag us into another war at least have the decency to hold the Lebanese flag into battle, not your yellow flag...
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Yesterday, Hezbollah’s militia intercepted a Police patrol, passing through Beirut’s Southern suburb and the three police officers were disarmed, taken into custody and interrogated by Nassrallah’s men...Several hours later they were release...
Lebanon state is falling...
PS: This information was issued by the Police official press apparatus and was published by most newspapers and news sources in Lebanon, including Tayyar.org website that belongs to Aoun and his party, Hezbollah’s own allies.
Al Manar however totally ignored the events, the spin masters finally ran out of tricks to fool the Lebanese people.
Friday, June 15, 2007
what can i say...
I am so very proud [sic] to share my Lebanese citizenship with these...these... words fail to describe them...
But i have one question for the so called Lebanese in the opposition: is this how you all feel? Do you want all of us to die? or maybe kill us? like hamas is killing Fateh in Gaza?
I am starting to lose faith in the idea that we can all live together, in the same country...
PS: NBN is a Lebanese TV network that belongs to Nabih Berri one of the tenors of the opposition alongside Hizbollah and Aoun.
You can also watch CNN coverage of the incident here.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I feel too empty, too apathic to even try to express my feelings, so for the mean time this excellent article should do...
Standing Up to Killers
By Hussain Abdul-Hussain
A bomb in Beirut yesterday killed Walid Eido, a member of the Lebanese parliament, and his son, Khaled, one of the smartest, sweetest and most delightful friends I have ever had.
I should wait for the results of an investigation into the explosion to learn who killed Khaled and his dad. But I will not wait. I am tired of the murders in Lebanon. I accuse the Syrian regime, headed by President Bashar al-Assad, of killing Khaled. As a friend of the family, I want to press charges against Assad and his Syrian and Lebanese associates. Enough is enough with the Syrian regime and its Lebanese puppets.
Walid Eido was a member of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority. Before his untimely death, the majority bloc comprised 69 of the legislature's 128 members. Now, the majority's margin has been narrowed to five, and there is no reason to believe that Syria will not go after these people and kill them, one after another, until it forces the government to collapse.
For the past few months Eido had been the target of a demonizing campaign by Syria's foremost ally, Hezbollah. Similar Hezbollah campaigns against other anti-Syrian lawmakers preceded their assassinations.
Hezbollah has been a supportive partner to Syria, often thanking the Assad regime for what it has "offered" my country. In truth, Hezbollah has sold out Lebanon's national interests to the regional autocrats of Syria and Iran.
Hezbollah might not have started the streak of assassinations of anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians that began with the killing of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri in February 2005, but the militant group has certainly been complicit with the criminal Syrian regime.
Since Hariri's murder, we in Lebanon have seen the best of our politicians and journalists murdered, one after another.
Before Khaled's death, I had already lost one of my most inspirational friends, journalist Samir Kassir. He was murdered by a car bomb on June 2, 2005.
Gebran Tueni, who had been my boss at the Arabic daily An Nahar, was killed that December, also by a car bomb.
With each murder, we Lebanese have swallowed our anger and fought hard for an international tribunal, which the U.N. Security Council approved last month. We hoped the tribunal would deter the Syrian regime and its Lebanese puppets from further killings. Yet a murderer is a murderer, with or without a tribunal, and the killings don't stop.
As I write these words, I understand that I am risking my personal safety. Speaking out could jeopardize my security during visits home.
But I owe it to Samir, Gebran and now Khaled to write this. I want to tell the Syrian regime and its Lebanese cronies that the Lebanese are willing to fight for their freedom despite the heavy cost.
And while I'm at it, I have some words for our Syrian brethren living under the tyranny of the Damascus regime: Stand up for your rights and say no to dictatorship. Tyrants might kill some Lebanese politicians and throw other Syrian human rights activists in jail, but they cannot kill all of the Lebanese or imprison all Syrians.
We shall prevail. We shall prevail for Kamal Jumblatt, Rene Moawad, Rafiq Hariri, Samir Kassir, George Hawi, Gebran Tueni, Pierre Gemayel and all other Lebanese killed at the hands of the Assad regime. We shall stand up for the Syrian freedom lovers Anwar and Akram al-Bunni, Aref Dalila, Riad Seif, Mamoun Homsi and Kamal Labwani, among others, no matter how ruthless and ugly the Syrian dictatorship can get.
There will come a day when Lebanon is free and Syria democratic.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Here is some excerpts for a Der Spiegel article about the situation in naher el Bared camp. I choose the parts where the journalist interviews a Lebanese soldier.
As a side note, I've always respected the army and its soldiers but after these past days, damn I have become proud and fiercely supportive of our boys!!!
Head here to read the full article
Thanks for Beirut Spring for pointing it out.
"During the next 48 hours, we will eradicate them," says the elite Lebanese soldier, lying behind a freshly raised mound of red earth. "They," of course, are the militants of the radical Palestinian group Fatah Islam. And the effort to eradicate them has virtually destroyed the Palestinian refugee camp Nahr al-Bared where they are holed up.
The ground is strewn with the empty casings of high-caliber bullets; the soot-blackened ruins of the camp north of the Lebanese seaport of Tripoli stand about 200 meters (650 feet) away. Fatah Islam snipers on the roofs take aim at the Lebanese rangers who have dug in east of the camp. "I hope they will attack us soon. Then we'll strike back and finish them off," says the officer, who wants only to be called Spiro.
The terrain on the edge of the camp where Spiro's soldiers have dug in was still in the hands of the Fatah Islam militants on Tuesday. The rangers moved in at dawn on Wednesday, flattening the reeds that grew there and raising protective mounds of earth among the cypress trees. Ranger Rommel can't say how many people he has killed in the past few days. "It must have been a lot," says the 27-year-old, whose parents named him after the German Field Marshal who commanded the Nazi Afrikakorps. "At first it was a shock to be in a real battle after all the training," Rommel says. Later, he adds, it was like being in a movie. "A drunk state in which you don't care whether you're shooting at children, the elderly or militants."
It looks like the movie will play again soon, he says: "We have precise indications that our position will be a target for suicide attacks." The information he has indicates that the attackers will be old women.
At the camp, the soldiers are busy preparing for more fighting. Some, though, are also reflective after the four-day orgy of violence. Spiro, standing next to the wreck of a vehicle that is missing all of its windows, says: "People sought safety in this bus." Large puddles of blood have dried on the pavement below. "They drove towards us. They could have been militants," Spiro says.
His troops were the ones who opened fire on the bus -- before retrieving three corpses and several injured from the wreck. "Terrible, but that's just what war is like."
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Three explosions in four days… people are going crazy with fear. Rumors are spreading amok all over town, “the found a bomb in Hamra, no in a school close to Raouche. They caught two suicide bombers. Tonight’s bomb will target mar elias. Fateh al Islam said that they will hit schools and universities.” Among all of that, panic is setting in, streets are empty and only security forces are out at night.
Meanwhile, the “Nahr al bared” camp’s Palestinian refugees are fleeing, fearing renewed clashes. Support for the army has surged after this lull. All Palestinian faction (especially the PLO) have expressed their supports and even offered to help the army end “fateh al islam” the final battle will be soon, tomorrow or after tomorrow I guess ( it seems that I am too falling into the rumors mill, and starting my own…)
PS: several of my readers asked for information about “Fateh al Islam” head here and here for an indepth look.