In Battle Against ISIS, Lebanon’s Army Pays Tribute To Spain’s Terrorist Attacks Victims


As Lebanon’s Army General Joseph Aoun tweeted the commencement of operation “Fajr el Jouroud,” which translates to “the dawn of the mountains,” Lebanon’s Army has started its full blown assault at the remaining entities of ISIS that are still plaguing the mountain regions of Al-Qaa and Aarsal, on Lebanon’s Northeastern Border with Syria.

I am confident that our army will be victorious. In only 24 hours, they’ve captured lands that were controlled by the terrorists and have planted their flag, as well as the Lebanese flag, on many hilltops that had been – up to that point – controlled by the cancerous entities that had tried to spread among Lebanese society without fruition.
This assault at ISIS in order to push them back from where they came and secure our Northeastern Border is a moment of triumph for the country against everything that ISIS is and that it has done.

Today, remember the Lebanese victims of Istanbul’s attack on New Year’s Eve. Remember the suicide attacks of Borj Al Barajneh that killed over forty people in 2015. Remember the many bombings against the Army in Arsal. Remember the suicide attacks in Qaa that killed 5 people. Remember the Jabal Mohsen attack in Tripoli. Remember every single victim in this country whose entire future was wiped away by these people whose entire cause revolves around making everyone else afraid of living.

In the midst of this assault on ISIS, Lebanon’s Army didn’t forget that its sacrifices and struggles against the terrorists are not only restricted by the borders of the country it’s fighting in. In fighting ISIS, Lebanon’s Army is going international in the fight against ISIS, and this is exemplified by the above picture of an army solider planting the Spanish flag on top of a liberated hill along with the Lebanese flag.

As such, this battle against ISIS in Lebanon is a triumph for the world too. It’s for the multi-national victims of those terrorist cowards in Spain. It’s for the victims of the attacks in Paris, Nice, Brussels, Berlin, Istanbul, and Egypt’s Copts. It’s a triumph for those people whose only “fault” was being of a certain country, at certain locations, of certain religions, of being people whose entire existence frightened those terrorists and their message.

I hope Lebanon’s Army plants more of our flags on more hills as they fully liberate our lands from such pests. I hope Lebanon’s people stay united behind the army in such tough and dark times, as we try to move forward as a country towards more secure borders, in synchrony with how important such measures are for the entire world.

Fuck ISIS. 

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From Beirut, This Is Paris: In A World That Doesn’t Care About Arab Lives 


When a friend told me past midnight to check the news about Paris, I had no idea that I would be looking at a map of a city I love, delineating locations undergoing terrorist attacks simultaneously. I zoomed in on that map closer; one of the locations was right to where I had stayed when I was there in 2013, down that same boulevard.

The more I read, the higher the number of fatalities went. It was horrible; it was dehumanizing; it was utterly and irrevocably hopeless: 2015 was ending the way it started – with terrorists attacks occuring in Lebanon and France almost at the same time, in the same context of demented creatures spreading hate and fear and death wherever they went.

I woke up this morning to two broken cities. My friends in Paris who only yesterday were asking what was happening in Beirut were now on the opposite side of the line. Both our capitals were broken and scarred, old news to us perhaps but foreign territory to them.

Today, 128 innocent civilians in Paris are no longer with us. Yesterday, 45 innocent civilians in Beirut were no longer with us. The death tolls keep rising, but we never seem to learn.

Amid the chaos and tragedy of it all, one nagging thought wouldn’t leave my head. It’s the same thought that echoes inside my skull at every single one of these events, which are becoming sadly very recurrent: we don’t really matter.

When my people were blown to pieces on the streets of Beirut on November 12th, the headlines read: explosion in Hezbollah stronghold, as if delineating the political background of a heavily urban area somehow placed the terrorism in context.

When my people died on the streets of Beirut on November 12th, world leaders did not rise in condemnation. There were no statements expressing sympathy with the Lebanese people. There was no global outrage that innocent people whose only fault was being somewhere at the wrong place and time should never have to go that way or that their families should never be broken that way or that someone’s sect or political background should never be a hyphen before feeling horrified at how their corpses burned on cement. Obama did not issue a statement about how their death was a crime against humanity; after all what is humanity but a subjective term delineating the worth of the human being meant by it?

What happened instead was an American senator wannabe proclaiming how happy he was that my people died, that my country’s capital was being shattered, that innocents were losing their lives and that the casualties included people of all kinds of kinds.

 

When my people died, no country bothered to lit up its landmarks in the colors of their flag. Even Facebook didn’t bother with making sure my people were marked safe, trivial as it may be. So here’s your Facebook safety check: we’ve, as of now, survived all of Beirut’s terrorist attacks.

 

When my people died, they did not send the world in mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.

And you know what, I’m fine with all of it. Over the past year or so, I’ve come to terms with being one of those whose lives don’t matter. I’ve come to accept it and live with it.

Expect the next few days to exhibit yet another rise of Islamophobia around the world. Expect pieces about how extremism has no religion and about how the members of ISIS are not true Muslims, and they sure are not, because no person with any inkling of morality would do such things. ISIS plans for Islamophobic backlashes so it can use the backlash to point its hellish finger and tell any susceptible mind that listens: look, they hate you.

And few are those who are able to rise above.

Expect the next few days to have Europe try and cope with a growing popular backlash against the refugees flowing into its lands, pointing its fingers at them and accusing them of causing the night of November 13th in Paris. If only Europe knew, though, that the night of November 13 in Paris has been every single night of the life of those refugees for the past two years. But sleepless nights only matter when your country can get the whole world to light up in its flag color.

The more horrifying part of the reaction to the Paris terrorist attacks, however, is that some Arabs and Lebanese were more saddened by what was taking place there than what took place yesterday or the day before in their own backyards. Even among my people, there is a sense that we are not as important, that our lives are not as worthy and that, even as little as it may be, we do not deserve to have our dead collectively mourned and prayed for.

It makes sense, perhaps, in the grand sense of a Lebanese population that’s more likely to visit Paris than Dahyeh to care more about the former than about the latter, but many of the people I know who are utterly devastated by the Parisian mayhem couldn’t give a rat’s ass about what took place at a location 15 minutes away from where they lived, to people they probably encountered one day as they walked down familiar streets.

We can ask for the world to think Beirut is as important as Paris, or for Facebook to add a “safety check” button for us to use daily, or for people to care about us. But the truth of the matter is, we are a people that doesn’t care about itself to begin. We call it habituation, but it’s really not. We call it the new normal, but if this normality then let it go to hell.

In the world that doesn’t care about Arab lives, Arabs lead the front lines.

 

How Lebanon Absolutely Failed When ISIS Killed Our Soldiers

August 2nd, 2014. It has been such a long time. That was at a time when the Lebanese army was fighting ISIS at our north-eastern border with Syria. Nowadays, we call it “The Battle of Arsal.” And on that day, ISIS took hostage several of our army members.

Subsequently, our government became a little irritated. Here was another “mess” they had to deal with. It was nothing major. They weren’t obviously going to try their best as long as the status quo remained the same; that status quo being the soldiers remain alive and the fragile “truce” with ISIS remains in place.

On August 28th, Ali Al-Sayyed was beheaded, becoming the first public Lebanese victim of ISIS. His video did not cause the outrage – even in Lebanon – that the death of James Foley caused. Nowadays, if you drop the name Ali Al-Sayyed in a casual conversation, few would remember him. But he existed, and he left behind a pregnant wife, who gave birth to his son a few days ago, and a daughter called Rahaf.

This is Ali:

Ali al-Sayyed

Ali was one of the brave men who fought against the Islamists in Nahr el Bared in 2007.  When he was killed, our government responded with statements and empty promises. They were considering their options. This beheading was a clear attempt to “cause civil strife.”

Meanwhile, the parents of those soldiers were closing off highways to the dismay of many. Traffic! Ugh. Then when they moved their protests from the Tripoli highway in North Lebanon to Beirut for more relevance, they found themselves being hosed down to clear roads as they chanted for our government to do something – anything – for their sons.

Their protests increased. It was no longer just a matter of a fragile status quo that allowed our government to continue its summer vacation. However, as things usually go in Lebanon, a couple of days after the murder of Ali Al-Sayyed, the news cycle diverted to other issues.

On September 5th, as the hostage’s families caused more “unrest” in the country, as they became angrier and promised escalations, our minister of social affairs Rachid Derbas made the following statement:

“Protesters in Qalamounaccused the government of being too strict and demanded negotiations while others asked for a military solution and accused the Cabinet of cowardice. This was a scary scene…. What’s with the families of the captured soldiers threatening [to incite] a civil war while their sons are still safe?”

Naturally, even the people in our government had forgotten that it had only been 7 days at the time that a public beheading of one of those sons had taken place. What made it even more ironic is the fact that the following day, on September 6th, ISIS released the beheading video of another Lebanese soldier: Abbas Medlej. He was 20.

Abbas Medlej

How did our government respond?

Well, for starters, our PM Tammam Salam gave a speech, straight out a Paulo Coelho book:

“We are not in a weak position. We have several options. There are various elements of strength in our hands…. Lebanon will not be defeated. Those terrorists will definitely be defeated.”

And then, because as we all know Lebanon is a country of utmost respect for civilities and the law, our minister of Interior Affairs Nouad el Machnouk promised to “speed up” the trials of Islamists in Roumieh. He also went to Qatar to see what can be done.

Then, almost 2 weeks later, on September 19th, ISIS executed another soldier named Mohammad Hamieh.

Mohammad Hamieh

Then we forgot about all of this for more than 2 months.

On December 5th, 2014, ISIS released a video in which they showed the execution of a fourth Lebanese soldier named Ali Al-Bazzal. They shot him in the head. A few days later, Ali’s grief-stricken father also passed away.

This is Ali:

Ali Al-Bazzal

And then nothing.

Now let’s contrast this with what happened in Jordan yesterday.

Moaz al-Kasasbeh was a pilot who was captured by the terrorists on December 24th after his F-16 jet crashed near the ISIS stronghold city Raqqa in Northern Syria. Yesterday, a video surfaced showing ISIS’ new style of assassinations: they burned Moaz alive.

It was reported that he had been killed as early as January 3rd, but the terrorist organization still negotiated with the Jordanian government to secure the release of a woman named Sajida al-Rishawi, who had taken part in a 2005 suicide bomb attack in Amman.

Following the news of his death, Jordan’s king Abdullah cut his visit to the United States short and vowed “punishment and revenge” for Moaz’s death. A few hours later, the country had executed Sajida Al-Rishawi as well as another Islamist called Ziad al-Karbouli, before announcing that they would increase their role in the coalition against ISIS.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Jordan managed to highlight the gravity of the murder of their son Moaz Al-Kasasbeh so well that every single international outlet has been addressing the murder at length. The whole rhetoric of “oh, his death isn’t as important because he’s not Western” was rendered invalid.

Moaz al-KASasbeh

Jordan’s TV stations put black ribbons on their screens along with Moaz’s picture. The death of just one of their soldiers sent their country into a frenzy to make sure they hold their own, that it doesn’t happen again and that they would be sure to respond aggressively to put ISIS in place.

By being the only Arab country to respond to ISIS, Jordan has proven that they won’t be yet another pussy-nation in the region to be trampled on by those terrorists.

I can’t say the same for the place we call our country.

6 months and 4 soldiers killed later, how did we make international news? Because of a selfie and a pornstar.

6 months and 4 soldiers killed later, instead of giving the parents of those soldiers a second thought, instead of telling them that we would “increase our role against ISIS,” we hosed them down with water, told them they are wrong to demand justice for their children.

6 months and 4 soldiers killed later, the country never mourned the soldiers who died, whose death was turned into entertainment for the sadists; our media never really bothered and we never cared.

Ali Al-Sayyed, Abbas Medlej, Ali Al-Bazzal and Mohammad Hamieh are four men who were not just killed because of their government’s failure, but who had to die over and over again by that same government failing to stand up against those that murdered them, by failing to make sure that their death translates to anything relevant, by making sure their beheading ends up as a non-event, another filler report in our evening news.

This is a disgrace.

May Ali, Abbas, Ali, Mohammad and Moaz rest in peace.

The Names & Faces of Lebanese Army Soldiers Who Died Defending Us Against ISIS In The Beqaa

A lot of the Lebanese populace will be spending this weekend either skiing their days away at resorts or clubbing the nights at various parties across the country, or, ironically, watching the “heroics” of an “American Sniper” at our cinemas.

As that “joie de vivre” manifests, however, the country will be burying 8 soldiers that passed away yesterday defending everyone against a looming threat at our borders, and whose heroics will fail to register with most.

Why did those 8 army soldiers die? Well, for one reason it’s because they live in a country led by so-called leaders who aren’t up to their title as they fail every single moment they “lead” to make the much-needed decisions that such times require.

Today, Lebanon is in an official state of mourning. No, it’s not mourning any of these 8 heroes who gave up their lives, not thinking of their families, of their children and of their wives, to defend us. Nope – the country is mourning a Saudi King whose country has worked tirelessly over the past few years to make sure the terrorists who killed our army soldiers are well-armed and ready to fight.

Because those soldiers live in a country that won’t remember them after the weekend has passed and where their names and faces would always remain unknown, I figured the best way to honor them is to make sure their face and their name are there for all of us to see.

I often hear that it is the job of the Lebanese Army to defend us at all costs, but that doesn’t mean those “costs” should be without recognition. Those army members who sacrifice everything in order to maintain the republic should have their sacrifices honored. Our government may not think the fallen soldiers of a battle deserve to have the country’s flags lowered for a couple of days, but these 8 people have an entire population lowering their heads to salute them.