Lebanese Forces Website Turns Into a Joke

Just so you don’t think I have a blind vendetta against Tayyar.org with me bashing them on different occasions (check those here & here), it’s now the Lebanese Forces website’s turn to take a hit.

We’ve all been suffering through horrible electricity outages. Even Beirut is getting 6 hour cuts. Different sides are taking different opinions regarding the matter, as usual, depending on which end of the political spectrum they belong to.

Those opinions can be summed up with the following: Blame Bassil vs Don’t blame Bassil.

I don’t like Gebran Bassil and as a voter in the Batroun caza I won’t vote for him when he runs here – again – in 2013. That won’t end up doing much since he will end up as a minister – again. But I would have done what I can.

When it comes to the electricity problem, however, there’s a drastic difference between putting the entirety of the sector’s woes on him, as some people are doing, and actually acknowledging that the problem didn’t start with him, although his handling of the whole issue isn’t top-notch. For the record, I have blogged before about the electricity problem and about how silly Gebran Bassil was when he threatened civil strife against his one-sided government if they didn’t comply with his electricity plan.

All the political talk aside, you’d expect a reputable political website which should be concerned with, well, politics not to flaunt such a post on their Facebook page, which holds over 57000 likes.

The article they linked to can be accessed (here) and it features a collection of pictures such as the following:

Some of you might think these pictures are funny and you can share them on your Facebook and Twitter timelines all you want for all I care. But it’s unacceptable for the website of one of Lebanon’s leading parties to make an “exclusive” out of them. It’s unacceptable for that website to use them as material in order to please its readers.

How about Lebanese-Forces.com and tayyar.org stop running tabloid-ish “news” and focus on real issues instead? What does either website hope to accomplish by running silly articles about the politicians of the other?

The 2013 elections, if they happen, will be here before we know it. The article in question has over 700 Facebook “likes.” Brainwashing is here in full swing.

Batroun’s Bal3a Dam: The Iranian Interference

This is Bal3a

Bal3a is a region in the mountainous village of Tannourine, in the east of the Batroun caza, North Lebanon’s first district. Home for its famous sinkhole, Bal3a is also the source for the “Joz” river, Batroun’s main water source.

A very ambitious project has been in the works for Bal’a for a few years now. The plans for a dam, to be built on the Joz River, have been in motion. This dam would increase the water resources for the whole Batroun caza by drastic amounts.

To build this dam, bids were submitted to the government back in June. Moawwad and Eddeh Contracting Company won the contract to build the dam, with a total amount of $32 million. For reference, this is the same company that built the Shabrouh Dam in Keserwein. However, this company was surprised a few weeks ago with a decree issued by the government, via the ministry of energy, to accept an Iranian donation of $40 million with one stipulation: an Iranian company was to build the dam, a project that would take four years.

The Lebanese company has filed an official complaint with the ministry of energy, managed by nonother than son-in-law prodigy Gebran Bassil. As if the electricity crisis was not enough for Bassil. The company still hasn’t gotten a reply as to what exactly happened.

But let’s contemplate this. The project will take four years. If everything goes as “planned” for Bassil & co, the Iranians will be roaming the Batroun mountains freely, under the umbrella of a security network, which will be provided by Iran’s allies in Lebanon: Hezbollah. Who knows what they’ll do other than build the dam.

If this Iranian company ends up beginning the constructions, Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard would have gained a stronghold in one of North Lebanon’s main mountains. And with Tannourine’s geographical contact with the Beqaa, a known Hezbollah stronghold, along with its proximity to other Mount Lebanon mountains where Hezbollah has already set foot, the possibilities become endless.

Let alone the fact that the Lebanese government has apparently preferred to hire an Iranian company over a Lebanese one, I have no idea how Gebran Bassil can let his own region be defiled in such a way and consider it simple “contracting” with the government. How can Gebran Bassil think he has a viable chance at getting elected in 2013 when he’s letting the people who killed Tannourine’s own Samer Hanna into his home?

And just a final question so I don’t let this drag on. Why, as a Batrouni, do I have to bear with someone I did not choose to represent me?

Lebanon’s Electricity Crisis: The Gebran Bassil Paradigm

As I’m writing this, I’m looking at the light bulb we have installed in our house to let us know if the electricity we’re having is provided by our “moteur” subscriber or by Electricite du Liban. It is lit. So much for EDL.

What’s troubling is that this lightbulb has been lit a lot these past few days. Hold on, I stand corrected. This light bulb has been lit a lot these past two months. I know this firsthand because my father is one of those moteur providers you like to hate so much for overcharging you. But when you don’t get electricity for 330 hours in a given month, the moteur provider will have to charge you.

What I don’t get, however, is why Lebanon’s electricity has suddenly gone into dying mode, especially in the last two months. I understand having to go through a weekend of total blackout in Beirut due to a protest in a power plant. But to go on for two months without getting half a day of coverage is way exaggerated if you ask me.

Has Lebanon’s need for power suddenly exponentially increased beyond what it was a couple of months ago? I hardly think so. Did the dismal capacity of our power plants exponentially decline in the past two months? I hardly think so as well. What has changed in the last two months is the way the Minister of Energy’s brain neurons are firing.

This is Gebran Bassil – Batroun’s “pride and joy”

I’ll just come out and say it. I do not like Gebran Bassil. Never have and I’m guessing never will. Perhaps that’s why we voted against him and got him to lose twice. But how good is that when he’s always finding his way to power?

Gebran Bassil reminds me of kindergarten days. That short, plumped bully kid you all hate and have no idea how he can actually bully everyone. Then you remember. Someone has his back. The fact that he lost two successive parliamentary elections and still made his way to three successive cabinets, even becoming a major hurdle to the instillment of the second, is only indicative of how spoiled he is and how used he is to getting his way, never hearing no as an answer to anything he requests.

The latest? He’s actually threatening the current government of taking it to the streets to get his way when it comes to the proposed electricity bill. I’m not sure he knows this but wouldn’t he be protesting against his own allies? And wouldn’t taking it to the streets to fight for a proposed law be a hurdle towards the advancement of a state the way Michel Aoun & co want it – “change and reform”?

As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to the electricity situation in Lebanon nowadays, Gebran Bassil is not reforming. He is deforming. There’s nothing working about it. And as long as he keeps acting like an insolent brat and not a minister, it will not head in the right direction anytime soon.

Perhaps when a politician’s allies are not responsive to the “plans” he or she is introducing would be an obvious enough hint that they’re doing something wrong. But I guess that logic doesn’t flow well with Mr. Bassil. The fact that he is part of a one-sided government and is constantly facing hurdles doesn’t warrant him to feel paranoid and targeted. It simply means he’s not doing things right.

So dear Lebanese, plan your showers according to the electricity cycles in your correspondent region. If your electricity coverage is not adequate, there’s always a bucket and a stove for you. Or better yet, plan your whole life to constantly fluctuating electricity cycles. Let’s add another fear to the long list a Lebanese society suffers from: electrophobia.

Blackout Beirut: The Recent Electricity Crisis in Lebanon

I felt like I was in a war zone this past weekend when the power in Beirut kept circulating between three hours of grid connection and three hours of grid disconnection. Perhaps the “highlight” of my day was trying to shower using a lit candle as your only source of light.

I am used to electricity outages. I am from a village in Northern Lebanon where more than 12 hours of coverage per day is seen by many as some form of the second coming of Christ. But in my village in North Lebanon, I have a “moteur” subscription which fills in the many blanks left by the electricity we should get from our dear state. In my Achrafieh neighborhood, however, you don’t have “moteur” providers because you never needed them before. Add to that grandparents who have been through weeks and weeks of no-electricity during the civil war and it makes the three hours tolerable for a power-needing person like me.

But no matter, as Beirut cycled between Beirut-on and Beirut-off in three hour turns, even the iPhone app to track the outages didn’t work anymore. And I had no idea what was happening until I watched the news and saw that workers from South Lebanon had apparently decided to strike at the Zahrani Power Plant. A little delving into this and a political nature of the strike is also revealed. Nearby municipalities supported the decision of the plant’s “workers” for strike. The “apparent” cause? Electricite du Liban (EDL) decided to move a 40 MVA transformer from the Plant to the nearby city of Saida.

Part of the news report I watched has Southerners complain about them being “left out,” about them being “targeted” by the Lebanese state with only few hours of coverage per day. My initial reaction was: are they [insert obscene word] kidding me?

Let’s get  a few things straight.

1) The Southerners are not the only people who have suffered in Lebanon. It’s 2011. The Israelis left 11 years ago. The July 2006 war happened, well, in 2006. We all stood by them through all of their Israel-related misery. We harbored them in our schools, gave them food from our homes and did what any proper citizen would do. They can stop accusing the whole country of targeting them whenever something doesn’t go their way.

2) I get as much coverage as they do in my village in North Lebanon and yet you don’t find me storming power plants and cutting power for those who have it. This is NOT the way you solve things.

3) Apparently our beloved minister Gebran Bassil (whom we, in my caza, voted against a bunch of times and yet always found in power) couldn’t even get the political parties behind the “workers” to get them to stop their “strike.” This begs the question: if the minister of energy, who’s also a proud ally of those political parties, can’t reign them in, then who can? This also raises doubt on exactly how far Aoun can control Hezbollah. Mr. Aoun was always proud of being Hezbollah’s main ally in the country, believing that Hezbollah did whatever Aoun wanted. Well, not always, is it?

4) Now that our prime minister Miqati has apparently sorted things out, the question asks itself: what if Hezbollah decides to act out again? what’s there to stop them? If their own allies can’t do anything against them then who can? What’s to stop this whole “I can do whatever I want and you can’t do anything about it” mentality that they have?

As I came back to my Achrafieh neighborhood at 6 pm today, I was struck by how dark it was. Few were the buildings that had lights in them. The streets were dark. The people were gloomy. I couldn’t wait to go back home to North Lebanon where there was actually light and mind you, my house in Achrafieh is exactly halfway between St. George’s and Geitawi hospitals – you’d think an area where two hospitals were located would get some preferential treatment. But no matter. A friend in Jal El Dib had 8 minutes of electricity all day today. A friend in Mansourieh a little more than 8 minutes but also a dismal amount. And yet, you don’t find us storming roads, burning tires, calling for strikes in power plants in our regions. It’s not that we couldn’t do that. The easiest thing to do is spur violence. What’s not easy, however, is to suck it up and work on fixing the electricity situation, which has been coexistent with our life as far as I can remember, with a radical solution, not ruin whatever few megawatts other people get.

And this is one of the reasons, dear Hezbollah, I can never – ever – support you.

But you know what’s interesting? Out of all the governments that have been ruling the country since 2005, this is probably the most dysfunctional one. What’s sad? It’s one-sided and made up mostly of those who want to change and reform. Well, here’s how it goes: over promise, under-give, the system blows up, blame others.

The Lebanon Seating Chart Issue

Welcome back to fifth grade, Lebanon style.

Just when you thought certain politicians couldn’t get any sillier, they surprise you. Gebran Bassil and Co refused to participate in the honoring ceremony of Patriarch Sfeir because they were seated behind Samir Geagea, head of the Lebanese Forces parliamentary bloc and of the Lebanese Forces.

Some people are trying to rationalize this as putting Geagea in front of them is a breach of protocol as Bassil is a minister, whilst Geagea is not. However, Geagea is head of a parliamentary bloc of more than 1 MPs, one of them even beating Bassil in the elections by a huge margin (it was not even close and yes, I still love to rub it in some people’s faces).

Moreover, why would, say, Boutros Harb, who also beat Bassil in the elections by an even bigger margin and is also a minister, want to be equated because of protocol with someone like Gebran Bassil?

Moreover, imagine Hassan Nasrallah, on such an event, seated in the third row because he is not a minister or a member of the parliament, just a head of a party and parliamentary bloc, like Geagea. Quite ridiculous, right?

Besides, since when did Gebran Bassil obey protocol? As I said, he got hammered in the parliamentary elections and yet, even though his party leader had asked that those who lose in Parliamentary elections do not try to become ministers, the formation of the government was suspended for a couple of months just to make him a minister. Again with the hypocrisy…

You’d think that Gebran Bassil and Co would swallow their overgrown and metastasized pride at least for the day when their patriarch is being honored, in the last days of him being a patriarch. But I guess expecting that much from Bassil would be optimistic to the point of foolishness…