How To Best Handle The Upcoming Michel Aoun Presidency

michel-aoun-president

I’m counting my blessings about 20,000 times a day that when Lebanon *finally* gets a president I won’t be there to see it. It’s sad in a way, that after two and half years of void I wouldn’t be there for the happy ending. But then again, who’d wanna be there for this happy ending?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that Michel Aoun will be a bad president. All presidents are useless and he won’t be any different, as the past two president-less years have shown us. But oh my god can you imagine the gloat of Aounists over the next twenty three years?

So here I am, seven time zones away, and still worried about the ripple that that will cause and I’ve come up with the best way to deal with the inevitable happening on Monday.

1) What To Do With Your Aounist Friends on Facebook:

If your Facebook friends are as enthusiastic as mine, they’d have already started posting countdowns, pictures, glorious Facebook status about all the glory that’s going to come to the country on Monday. And if you’re anything like me, you’d definitely have a pack of motilium or some even stronger zofran sitting next to your laptop at all times because nausea.

Of course, it’s going to get worse from here until Monday which is just two days away. So here’s a tip:

  • If you have <5 friends on Facebook who are supportive of this move, just unfollow them and practice EXTREME vigilance because they tend to find a way to have their stories pop up on your timeline anyway.
  • If you have >5 friends on Facebook who are supportive of Aoun becoming president, delete Facebook off your phone, take your precious phone away, put it in a box, bury it in a pint of trab l arz yalli aghla men l dehab, set up food in a bunker and huddle there until 2022.

2) What To Do With Your Aounist Friends on Twitter:

While there’s an unwritten rule among Facebook users that one would not post countless statuses per day, and as such Facebook has slightly more restraint, the same does not exist on Twitter. As such, there are no guidelines for how to best handle your Aounist friends on Twitter except deactivating your account until 2022.

3) OTV:

With their lord and savior Michel Aoun becoming president, it’s also best to forget that there is an orangy TV station by the name of OTV ever existing. As Mawtoura aptly noted, their programming for the next 6 years will consist of the following:

  • Morning Mass,
  • National songs,
  • Calls to congratulate Aoun on the presidency,
  • Aounist songs,
  • Documentaries about the great Samir Geagea, etc…

It’s best to avoid this, or have xanax present at all times as well.

4) Forget About Anghami:

Here’s a scoop for you: Nancy Ajram and Assi Hallani have teamed up to do a song for Michel Aoun already. It’s not because they’re Aounists but because when anyone becomes president, everyone else just dies at the opportunity to start licking their ass. #LiveLoveLebanon.

Of course Nancy and Assi will probably not end up being the only two people who have songs out for Aoun. Expect Elissa to have a song out a certain point too, because that’s how things work. And there’s just so much of Michel Aoun being rhymed with “kon” that you can take.

5) Brace Yourself For The Onslaught Of Positive People:

Some people may not be Aounists but as it is in Lebanon, there is an overly positive populace that keeps on seeing the best in everything and I just don’t know how. Well, those people are bound to get slightly more annoying now as they are given one extra reason to be falsely optimistic about things in the country.

The earliest symptom of this will be a wider onslaught of #LiveLove across the globe.

6) What To Do With Your LF friends:

They probably don’t know what to do with themselves so it’s best to ignore their existence for now pending further development. Many of them aren’t happy though, so just pass them some of the xanax from point #4?

7) Hezbollah *shivers*:

While Hezbollah spent the last two years trying NOT to get Aoun elected, expect them to make sure everyone and their mother and their grandmother and their deceased original ancestor to know they’ve done *everything* they can to make sure the outcome on Monday took place.

It’s bullshit, certainly, but people are going to buy it anyway.

The criteria for Hezbollah fans on your social media platforms is much more stringent though. Just bury your phone and go live in a monastery in Qadisha already. There is no other way.

8) Avoid Driving:

I expect Lebanese roads are now flooded with billboards, posters, banners and mannequins celebrating the rise of Aoun. Even those that didn’t like him now do.

I expect those posters and banners to contain some of the most poetic Arabic written since Al-Mutannabi. A few Bible verses will be thrown in there as well because, why the hell not? Isn’t this the second coming of Jesus?

So if I were you, I’d just stay home until the first decent rain comes around and rips those things right off.

9) Almaza will have an ad:

They always do. This is not gonna be any different, and they’re beginning to get annoying but this will annoy you the most, so move to Colonel Beer. #ElieRecommends.

10) Prepare To Explain To The World That We’re Voting For An 80 Year Old As President:

I was literally asked yesterday who’s gonna be president. When I said Michel Aoun, the person asking me was surprised and asked: Isn’t he old?

And the fact of the matter is he is. When John McCain was running for president in 2008, he was 72 and his age had lots of people worried. We are now getting a president who’s as old as John McCain is today. Isn’t that exciting?

So what’s the best way to handle people who want to criticize our country for voting geriatrics this time around? You can: a) tell them to suck it, b) tell them enno yo2berne mshabshab, c) tell them l mouhem l so77a, d) Michel Aoun does not age, age Michel Aouns.

Bonus: Bref, sigh:

In the grand scheme of things, the worst thing to come of Aoun’s presidency won’t be him as president. It’s how annoying his supporters will be until the end of his term. There will be no major changes to the country. Hariri will be PM. They will tailor an electoral law to help them win. Frangieh and Geagea will be presidents the next two cycles. The political situation will not find a magical solution that suddenly sees our garbage off the streets and the country off to the right direction. This is just a perpetuation of the current status quo, with the people who made the status as such and well, who the hell cares anyway?

It’s just so sad. *downs ten lexotanil pills.*

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What Beirut’s Election Results Tell: Lebanon Can Hope For Change

Beirut Madinati - bIERTE list 2016 2

This post was written with Ramez Dagher from Moulahazat

As promised earlier, this is the more detailed look at how Beirut voted, beyond the surprisingly great outing of the civil movement Beirut Madinati’s list, which even though it didn’t get actual seats, still has plenty to celebrate.

It is important to note that in the most optimistic of cases, the chances for any list other than the list of the political parties to win was next to zero. No this isn’t retrospective analysis. 

Despite the context of the trash crisis, rising corruption, overall voter discontentment, parliament extending its mandate twice, etc… the math of the Beirut electoral equation was never in favor of any non-political movement: the division of districts, the system, demographics, the sectarian propaganda – The Bierteh list had tried to attract voters – especially Christian ones – by proposing a 50-50 Christian/Muslim list, although Beirut Madinati had also kept the same quota.

So no, the cards were not the best that could be given for Beirut Madinati, or any other movement for that matter, simply because those cards were being played on a table that served only one side: the political establishment.

As a result of all of the above, the loudest of voters on Sunday was the low turnout.

20% Voted:

This is not a historically low number. In 2010, 18% of Beirutis voted. Beirutis simply do not vote in Municipal elections, and only do so at slightly higher numbers in parliamentary ones: 33% in 2009.

This is due to many factors. Voter learned helplessness is an important one, but so is the feel that there really isn’t a contest to begin with further increasing the sense of voter apathy. 

33% voted in 1998, the first election since the Civil War, and the lower turnout since should be enough to tell you how much people lost faith.

Many partisan voters were also not willing to vote for the “zayy ma hiye” list but did not want to break lines.

Achrafieh El Bidayi:

Beirut Madinati won the Beirut 1 district with around 60% of the vote, a blow to the rallying calls of Christian parties in the area for their supporters to vote for the Bierti’s list. The 60% figure is not only exclusive to the mostly-Christian Beirut 1, but is also applicable to the Christian vote in the rest of Beirut.

This doesn’t mean the weight of the LF and FPM combined is 40%. Many LF and FPM leaning voters voted for Beirut Madinati more against Hariri, but it sets the precedence that politically affiliated people can go beyond their affiliations and vote in a way that breaks what they were instructed to do.

Boycotts from the bases of the FPM, LF, and Kataeb were also there on election day, as a sign of disagreement with the recent choices of their parties: The FPM electorate isn’t a fan of Hariri; the LF base isn’t a fan of an alliance with the FPM, and the Kataeb aren’t fans of anything.

This lack of enthusiasm was probably one of the causes of the lower turnout in Christian polling stations.

The context of such a vote, however, is probably not sectarian as is circulating. Achrafieh is one of Beirut’s higher socioeconomic areas, with higher income and education rates. You’ll probably see a similar phenomenon in the higher socio-economic districts of Beirut III. Those residents are more likely to vote for issues such as reform, transportation and trash sorting. Those are also the voters that are the less afraid of change.

Many if not all of Lebanon’s parties count on clientelism to widen their electoral base. In higher socio-economic echelons, the reliance of the electorate on the mainstream parties is less.  Those voters don’t need their political parties in the neo-socialist way that most parties in Lebanon function. In Achrafieh, for example, the LF and FPM do not provide medical services, free education, job opportunities for Achrafieh voters as much as other parties in other districts, so throughout the years, the electorate managed to develop an independence from traditional Christian parties.

The Example Of Tariq El Jdide: Anyone Can Be Reached

Sectarian talk is terrible, but is a necessary evil until the political system is not one where people go and vote in segregation based on how they pray. If you crunch Beirut’s numbers, you will end up with a rough figure of around 30% of the Sunni vote not going to Hariri.

This is probably as important, if not more, than BM winning 60% of the vote in Beirut 1.

I don’t believe we can call this a dissent from the Future Movement yet, but it is a continuation of the gradual and progressive Sunni dislike of the way Saad Hariri is running things, even with his rise of popularity after his return.

The reason the Future Movement won is not because voters are “sheep.” It’s because the Future Movement, through various governmental policies, has forced the people of many Sunni areas to always remain in need for their intervention to get the basic necessities that should be a right for every Lebanese citizen, which many in other areas have access to without needing their political parties: do not cut the hand that feeds you.

The political framework of the elections is important. They come at a time when Sunnis in Lebanon feel increasingly threatened by being categorized as potential-Islamists, to the background of a party in power fighting for a regime they do not approve of in Syria.

The need to not break rank was never greater. They may not approve of Hariri, but this was not the time to show it, and yet 30% did. The situation in the country is not one where sects have the prerogative to show cracks in their facade, or have we forgotten how Christians have also forced a seemingly unbreakable veneer over the past few months as well?

All of this makes the 30% figure of Sunnis who did not vote for Hariri all the more impressive and courageous. It’s the kind of percentage that breaks taboos.

Moving Forward:

The election’s overall results are telling. In Beirut I, the LF representative Elie Yahchouchi and the FPM’s Traboulsi lead their allies in the FM by around 800 votes (of around 6500 the list got). In Beirut II, with its important Shia and Armenian electorate, almost all of the winning candidates from LB are in the 9000 votes region. One candidate however, Amal’s representative, stands out as having 10000 votes. In the third district, Yahchouchi and Traboulsi are 5000 votes behind the FM’s candidates.

The difference between the first and the last of list is around 8000 votes for LB, and 3000 votes for BM. In other words, most of those who voted BM did not make major changes to their lists (“tochtib”) and were convinced with almost all of BM’s candidates, while the base of every single party in power was modifying the names.

That is the biggest proof that the ruling coalition is unstable, and that in 2017, even a minor split between the parties in power can lower that 60% and give way to an independent breakthrough. Check the results here.

But now is time to look ahead.

Our voting process needs to be modernized. 36 hours to go through Beirut’s voting results is a disgrace. There are no excuses.

The rhetoric we need to adopt should never call those who do not vote the way we want sheep or other varieties of animals. It is demeaning, and not any different than the system we want to change. Such horrific name-calling only alienates voters from your platform. The core of democracy is one where many will not vote the way you find is best.

Our rhetoric should also be more inclusive, and less elitist. Our bubble in which we believe our paradigm of Lebanese politics is scripture is exclusive to the people that are reached by our message, but the bulk of voters exist outside of that bubble. We need to be aware that what we know and believe is true doesn’t translate to others and work on reforming our message to make it holistic.

This means that calls to divide Beirut into smaller districts just because Achrafieh voted one way and Tariq el Jdide voted another are horrifyingly xenophobic. Beirut is a city that is 18 km2 with 500,000 voters only. It is too small to be divided. We need policies to bring people together, not segregate them into separate cantons.

Accomplishing so starts by championing policies to better the conditions of all Beirutis, especially those that exist in impoverished areas. Beirut Madinati did not, for instance, campaign as much as it should have in Tariq el Jdide.

Political parties in the country keep people at bay by keeping them afraid and hungry. Keep them as such, and they remain at their mercy. The first step in breaking this political hegemony is to make them need their political parties less: advocate for better schools, better and more comprehensive healthcare, fight economic inflation, raise the minimum wage, adopt a better taxing scheme, etc…

Such measures, however, cannot be done by simply complaining on Facebook. Modernizing our elections isn’t only about getting electronic voting machines, but also about having an electoral law that is fitting of the year 2016. The only law that can work to represent all different sections of Lebanon’s society is a law based on proportional representation. If such a law were adopted, for example, Beirut Madinati would have obtained 9 seats out of the available 24 on Sunday.

Proportional representation, as proposed during a cabinet meeting in 2010 tackling the municipal electoral law, is one of many reforms, such as electing the mayor directly from the people, and a 30% women quota, that are napping in parliament. The establishment is making it harder, but that shouldn’t mean that pressure should stop.

We also need to realize that, despite disagreeing with them, political parties are not going away. If we are to leave a mark, we have to find a framework in which we organize into a party that can compete better in elections, in politics and do so in unity: one of our biggest failings in this election was having like-minded people run on two different lists.

Today, we should be cautiously optimistic at what the future holds. Change in Lebanon is not a sudden process. It’s a tedious affair that needs planning over many years. Start planning for 2017’s parliamentary elections today and 2022’s municipal elections yesterday. Do not despair, and most importantly, always challenge the status quo regardless of how comfortable you are in it.

 

Geagea and Aoun’s New Love Fest: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Samir Geagea and Michel Aoun

In a widely predicted move, LF leader Samir Geagea and FPM leader Michel Aoun came out with a political understanding yesterday that saw the former supporting the latter for Lebanon’s presidency, after about 33 failed attempts at electing a president and 30 years of the same practiced politics.

Lebanon’s Christian field was predominantly supportive. After all, the whole burying the hatchet fest that we saw on TV was done because Christianity, and Christians sure love seeing #TeamJesus in all its glory on Lebanese TV.

The Good:

We can now say that on January 18th, 2016, after around 30 years of feud, Samir Geagea and Michel Aoun finally saw eye to eye in something. A more zealous response would be: LET THEM KNOW NOW THAT CHRISTIANS WILL NEVER BE PUT ASIDE AGAIN, etc. But that’s not really the case.

It’s good to see a semblance of unity occur regardless of what that unity might mean. It’s good to see Geagea and Aoun talk things out.

But.

The Bad:

Many think that this move was visionary. The fact of the matter is it’s nothing other than reactionary to Saad Hariri nominating Sleiman Frangieh for president a few weeks ago. The only disturbance in the presidential race, protracted and dull as it was, was Saad Hariri’s deal back in November-December. That disturbance became the catalyst behind both the FPM and the LF’s deal today in order to “reclaim” their constitution-given Christian right.

How good can a move made in reaction and spite be, rather than it being foreseeing and contemplative, especially in the grand picture of Lebanese politics that not only requires foresight to navigate its murky waters? Why don’t you refer to Jumblat for that?

What this move does is not elevate the level of politics that Geagea and Aoun are practicing. It’s not a good thing that Lebanon’s Christian community is now practicing the same kind of tribal politics that the country’s other factions do. By “uniting,” Geagea and Aoun moved from their failed politics on a national level to failed politics on a sectarian level.

Yes, they were Christian leaders first and foremost, many of their policies had inter-sectarian tendencies. How will they move from here? Not in that way, clearly.

The move also comes to the backdrop of a 10 point agreement that the two forged over the past 6 months. It reads as follows:

Geagea Aoun Agreement

The agreement’s key points then are the following:

  • No use of weapons in case of conflict,
  • Supporting the Lebanese army in governing the entirety of Lebanon’s territories alone,
  • A Switzerland-esque foreign policy to get the country to avoid struggles,
  • Supporting UN resolutions,
  • A new electoral law.

Sure, those headlines are all wonderful, and looking at them with no critical thought warrants giving their alliance a second thought. But you can’t not be critical of Lebanese political talk, and the question therefore becomes: how will they do them?

The difference in ideology between Geagea and Aoun is not only related to their Civil War days: the two were supremely divergent even in times of “peace.” They have not agreed on an electoral law other than the Orthodox Law, and even that agreement was more about whose balls are bigger rather than it being done with political wisdom. They have not agreed on which kind of foreign policy they see best for the country. They have not agreed on which way is best to actually get the army to be the only rightful security force in the country, and how to implement all kinds of UN resolutions (hinting at ridding Hezbollah of its weapons).

Alliances need to have a minimum of common ideology. Establishing them just for the sake of common interests in the short run will prove, in the long run, to be detrimental, especially when it affects an entire community (in this case Lebanon’s Christians).

Is this how Christian rights are restored? By making Lebanon’s Christians more exclusive rather than inclusive? By making them more sequestered? By thirding the country instead of keeping it halved? By turning Christians from the entity that governed Lebanon’s dichotomy to another destabilizing agent in an unstable country?

Ignoring the differences that these two presented to Lebanon’s Christian community is the first step towards removing any semblance of democracy from that community. Difference is not to be feared in political contexts. Disregarding it is what’s scary.

The Ugly:

Geagea and Aoun made peace. But I have to wonder: what kind of peace?

They’re making the kind of peace that requires us to bury our heads in the sand, like the perpetual ostriches that our Lebanese existence has made us into; the kind of peace that does not deal with the past requiring such a peace to be made in the first place, effectively making it a recipe for impeding disaster.

The argument goes: other factions have done these peace making deals before, and as such Christians doing it should be celebrated. Making peace is good. But is it?

Is the peace made by Lebanon’s other war factions actual peace? The idea of making peace invokes stability. Is the country stable? Is making peace in spite of history not through it, as all those other factions have done, putting the country on the right path towards healing post our civil war?

I look around and see people from different sects still hating each other, still worried about the intentions of one another. I look around and see a political discourse that still gets those who have supposedly made up after our civil war to fear each other.

What kind of peace are they talking about then?

There are things that are a little too late, and this is one of them. Where was the common interest of Lebanon’s Christian community 30 years ago when these two were actively working on canceling each other out, when their wars tore apart Christian communities and left thousands of victims in their wake?

Yes, this is not the time to bring up war-time memories, but healing only starts with remembering.  Would there have been a need for such a “deal” to be made in 2016 had those two actually cared about the community they’re panicking about today back in the 1980s?

Peace cannot be made by those who only know war.

The Uglier:

I’m afraid to inform you my fellow Lebanese that this “alliance” does not, in any way, affect your life as a Lebanese in the ways that actually matter.

It will not bring you electricity.

It will not fix your garbage crisis.

It will not make your internet faster so you can stream Netflix.

It will not increase your minimum wage.

It will not make your passport worthwhile.

It will not stop the “SSSS” checks on your boarding passes and “random” checkups in airports.

It will not stop ISIS.

It will not extract the oil from our fields.

And, ironically, it does not even guarantee that a president be elected.

Our Lebanese reality cannot be changed when the same people who have been practicing their failed politics over us for 30 years start practicing their politics together.

The Funny:

To end this on a happier note, I can’t but share a few of the lighter tones with which some Lebanese handled the news, in the joke that this actually is:

Maskhara At USJ: A Sum-Up of What’s Wrong With Lebanon

They say our country’s future resides on our generation. You know, the generation that supposedly doesn’t have illiterates, that has people going to our country’s universities to get the education that the people before us did not get to have. We were supposed to be brighter, more aware, more critical and less extreme.

We are anything but.

One of Lebanon’s universities, USJ, will close its doors tomorrow because its students decided to express civility today. It was not enough, for instance, for Hezbollah supporters that the entire country has to deal with their party’s reckless practices and their consequences and not get a say in the matter or that their hypocrisy has redefined the definition of terrorism in Lebanon. No, let’s not talk about any of that. Let’s talk about how some of their supporters decided it was a brilliant idea to remove the pictures of an infamous politician in the area where Huvelin exists and to plaster the thug that assassinated him around the place while chanting his name.

Because the country needed such a thing happening in it now. Because there’s absolutely nothing else pertinent taking place currently, the least of which is dealing with the ramification of an explosion that happened in Hezbollah HQ less than a week ago. Because someone figured: Jeez, we lost the elections a few days ago there so wouldn’t it be fun to do such a thing? I’ll get away with it anyway because, you know, I’m a Hezbollah supporter and I never, ever get into trouble. Never. This is my country and all of you just have to deal with it.

The counter reactions were not at a better level.

USJ is a Christian university. Because employing sectarian rhetoric is precisely what is needed in such conflicts, precisely what the country needs right now and precisely what is required to diffuse the tension. Let’s just bring it right into the fold and make it part of the debacle. Let’s not make it a battle of politics anymore. Let’s give our constituents exactly what they crave and what they itch for. Let’s give them what resonates with them at this very moment of a Lebanon that has fundamentalism on the rise. Let’s make this a battle of us versus them, of them trying to control us and to take over our campus.

What campus, you ask? The campus of Bashir, referring to Bashir Gemayel, the former Lebanese president around whom the current debacle took place. The campus of those who believe in his ideology and who follow in his footsteps. So is everyone else not welcome? Perhaps such an argument is tough to swallow but just because someone attended a university, however important that person is, does not turn that university into his property or into something that should always pay homage to him, regardless of who that person is.

Hezbollah’s aggressions are unacceptable and are bordering thug-like behavior. But the replies to those aggressions, even if only verbal, do not a point make. They do not even advance the situation or try to resolve it. Instead, we are left with kids playing, unaware that their actions in the Lebanon of today can have ramifications that none of them, I suppose, would want to see. But let them play. And let the politicians who support them and are defending them in the closed circles meetings taking place as we speak play. Or perhaps I was just being optimistic that my generation would be more mature than this. I guess not.

Batroun’s Politicians – Antoine Zahra, Boutros Harb, Gebran Bassil – Are A Big Fat Failure

It is customary for Lebanese politicians to pay their condolences when someone who has affiliations with their party passes away. That was the case a few weeks ago when a relative of mine died. Don’t worry, the story isn’t about politicians taking the family’s place during the funeral.

Gebran Bassil, arguably Lebanon’s most hated minister, came over to my hometown which lies at a mere 6 km from the main city of my district Batroun in order to offer his sincere condolences to the deceased’s family. Yes, I have Aounists in the family, however shocking that may sound. As he sat with the family in our Church’s hall, both his drivers (one drives him, the other is a decoy) were busy smoking outside. I overheard the following conversation:

– Man, did you see this fucked up road?

– Yes I did.

– Did you tell Gebran about it?

– To be honest, sta7eit menno (I was too shy to tell him).

The main road of the Batroun district which spans from the city to my hometown has been in total ruin since June. By total ruin I mean: breaking your car every single time you go up and down the hill, potholes that spring up out of nowhere, four attempts to fix it so far that have all been an absolute and utter failure, newer asphalt of such bad quality that a drizzle suffices to rip it off from the road. And the list goes on.

This started when an ambitious project to lay down sewage and water pipes started. Of course, both projects had different contracting companies so they dug on different sides of the road. Sewage went in the middle, water went on the side. We also had a third contractor to supposedly fix the road once the work was done. If that’s not a waste of our taxpayer money, I don’t know what is.

This isn’t a post about the project which I believe is a must in the 21st century. This is about Batroun’s three main politicians: its two MPs Antoine Zahra of the Lebanese Forces, Boutros Harb who is apparently now an independent (insert insane laughter) and its one minister Gebran Bassil of the Free Patriotic Movement.

Our three politicians should theoretically use this road very often. It is 1) the only way into the main and big villages of the district (Ebrine, Douma, Tannourine) and 2) the way home for both Zahra (Kfifan) and Harb (Tannourine). Haven’t they heard that the situation has become unacceptable? Or are they waiting until our cars have gone to the repair shop twenty three times before they decide to do something about it, perhaps around April or May, just in time to cash in on those votes?

I’m not even sure my district’s politicians know about the road. They sit in the back of their luxury cars with their dark tainted-windows, totally oblivious to the massacre their overpriced car is going through. They go about their business, shake a few hands, have their asses kissed a few times and then head back to Beirut to their fancy mansions where the woes of their district don’t haunt them.

The least I can expect from my district’s politicians is to care about the people of their district first and foremost as the place that may or may not vote them back in come June 2013. If they’re not aware of the situation of their district’s main road, what does that say about them?

Future TV has already visited the area to document the road’s current state and interview a few people in the hopes they’d pin it all on Gebran Bassil. What Future TV doesn’t know, however, is the following: the fact that the Batroun’s caza main road has fallen into the state of disrepair that I will show you in a few without any of the district’s politicians caring is a reflection on 1) how big of a failure they are, 2) how little they care about us outside of our electoral votes and 3) how little they are willing to work if it doesn’t bring immediate rewards.

Accountability is key. If we, the newer generation isn’t critical of how things are run around our own neighborhoods, what do we leave to those on whom the ship has sailed? I refuse to have my first time voting be nothing more and nothing less than a sheep being taken to a ballot.

I, Elie Fares,hereby proclaim that I will not be voting for any of these three politicians come June if the road is not fixed. As an influencer, I will also do my best to strip all three of them from as many votes as I can. I’m sure this article will reach party officials that have been taking my vote for granted for far too long now. Therefore, consider this: kaleim youssal.

These are the untouched & unaltered (except for size reduction) pictures that I took with my iPhone while driving back home yesterday:

Batroun Road Lebanon - 1 Batroun Road Lebanon - 2 Batroun Road Lebanon - 3 Batroun Road Lebanon - 4 Batroun Road Lebanon - 5 Batroun Road Lebanon - 6 Batroun Road Lebanon - 7 Batroun Road Lebanon - 8 Batroun Road Lebanon - 9 Batroun Road Lebanon - 10 Batroun Road Lebanon - 11 Batroun Road Lebanon - 12 Batroun Road Lebanon - 13 Batroun Road Lebanon - 14 Batroun Road Lebanon - 15 Batroun Road Lebanon - 16 Batroun Road Lebanon - 17 Batroun Road Lebanon - 18

The "fixed" part of the road is a hole in itself as evident by the mini-stream flowing through it

The “fixed” part of the road is a hole in itself as evident by the mini-stream flowing through it

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Lebanon’s 2012 Picture of the Year

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The above picture is worth a few thousand more than that – but don’t worry, I won’t write them.

Antoine Zahra, LF MP of the Batroun Caza, sporting a Palestine solidarity scarf… on his trip to Gaza. Who knew there would come a day when such a sentence would actually be written?

As they say “3ish ktir, betchouf ktir.” I personally don’t know what to make from March 14th visit to Gaza. On one hand, some see it as an act of solidarity, on another hand others see it as absolutely useless act of propaganda.
I’m leaning more to the latter but people already think I’m overly negative lately so good on March 14th for going there.

However, Antoine Zahra, it seems, is sticking it to whoever is saying the LF hate all Palestinians. Now cue in those reminding the world of the “atrocities” the LF have done during the civil war because that is entirely the point here.

In short, for so many reasons, I guess it’s fair to assume the above picture cannot but be Lebanon’s 2012 picture of the year – by far.

Al Manar & The Lebanese Forces Israeli Agent

He’s a “known” Israeli agent. He’s roaming the streets of Beirut. He has pictures with Israeli soldiers in the background. His name is Pierre Nammour. And he’s “threatening” with murder in Downtown Beirut.

They focus on his neck. He’s wearing a Lebanese Forces Cross. Because it’s common knowledge that the LF are known for being Israel-loving, non-Lebanese Lebanese. Showing that Cross, with its split base and the delta, will definitely add credibility to the report, they thought.

Throw in an interview there and you’ve got a scoop. Al Manar just unveiled an “Israeli agent” who wants to start war in Lebanon. There’s even a video.

A few comments though.

1) Assuming the pictures are real and not photoshopped which they may clearly be (Al Manar are sure pros at forgery), I’m sure I can find many, many pictures of Lebanese with Israeli soldiers in the background. It’s a byproduct of them occupying part of the country for approximately 20 years. If you go and take pictures at the Lebanese border now, odds are you will have an Israeli soldier in your picture’s background. It’s not enough for me to call them traitors but apparently it is for Al Manar. A Hezbollah militant decides to smile for the camera with an Israeli soldier in the background… Automatic traitor. Or not.

2) If Pierre Nammour is such a known traitor and those pictures are real and he has served in the Israeli army and he has killed Lebanese, etc., then why isn’t he in jail? I’m certain his political affiliation cannot pull enough strings to keep him out as Al Manar’s party did with “others.” Because even when it comes to treason, Lebanon has various degrees. There are some which don’t serve you politically and there are some which do.

3) How this shows that Israel is behind the assassination of Al Hassan is beyond me. And that was Al Manar’s conclusion apparently.

4) Al Manar has certainly made a splash out of the man saying that he’s willing to kill those who threaten him if the need arises. I wonder though, how many of the militants that Al Manar loves and cherishes would say the exact same thing and have probably done it more than once before and not only against Israelis?

5) What’s probably the best testament to the bullshit in Al Manar’s report is the fact that it’s one minute long. I would assume exposing an Israeli spy who’s threatening civil war would warrant more airtime.

Pierre Nammour is definitely an instinct-driven man, like many other Lebanese, who thinks with his beretta first and foremost. That’s definitely not acceptable but he’s not the only one in the country who thinks that way. Should he be turned into a news item? How about we turn the million or so Lebanese who think like him into news pieces too?

No one should expect anything remotely acceptable from a TV station like Al Manar, known for the absolute and utter crap they air day in day out. But it is a sad day when treason becomes a passe-par-tout accusation.

Till when should the Lebanese airwaves be littered with “n’importe quoi” news just because their target audience likes them?