Lebanon’s 2012 Picture of the Year


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?

The Hypocrisy of the Lebanese Forces

Some LF supporters protesting against the visit in Elige yesterday

Michel Aoun is visiting Elige. A headline that, in any normal setting, would just be that: something to get the press to talk.

But this is Lebanon and Michel Aoun visiting Elige, a convent in Jbeil where many Lebanese Forces martyrs are buried, sparked immense controversy among Christians first and foremost.

He is not allowed to visit and desecrate the place VS he’s going there ghasb 3annkon.

Mante2 bila33e men l meyltein.

My readers already know that when it comes to how I lean, Michel Aoun doesn’t get my vote. And I’m definitely not voting for his party next year. But regardless of me preferring the Lebanese Forces over his party, there’s something that I felt gnawing at me yesterday as I contemplated the Elige dilemma. And it is hypocrisy.

The Lebanese Forces are hypocrites when they ask everyone to put their war crimes where they belong – in the past – but they cannot do the same for the war crimes of others. I, for one, am sure Michel Aoun did not kill most the martyrs buried in Elige and I’m also sure he wasn’t a civil war saint either as his supporters would love to potray him. Michel Aoun may have spoken harshly against those martyrs before. He may have humiliated their memory and he may have been a “Michel Aoun” about them. But that’s on him. And if he wanted to visit their graves to pay tribute and maybe – just maybe – apologize for what was said against them (you know that would work well with his electoral plan), then what’s the harm in that?

Lebanese Forces supporters should know how well Samir Geagea’s apology played out. He’s the only politician so far to have spoken in such a way about the civil war.

The problem with many Lebanese Forces supporters is that when you speak out the words Michel Aoun to them, their blood pressure starts to rise. It’s the same with those who support Aoun when you say those two syllables… Geagea. You see them throw a fit even worse than that of an Lebanese Forces supporter. You see them shiver and inundate his supporters with all kinds of stereotypes. According to them, I am an illiterate high school dropout .

The divide between the supporters of both groups is way too great and it has never been more obvious than with Aoun’s “planned” visit to Elige. However, the Lebanese Forces cannot simply ask everyone to get over the “Geagea is a murderer” stereotype (one that I, for the record, do not agree with) while they have no problem hanging the dirty laundry of others for everyone to see if it serves some purpose that they think they have.

He who lives in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

The Lebanese Forces are also hypocrites on another front: had one of their allies, say Walid Jumblat, decided to visit the martyrs at Elige, would they have reacted in the same way? One would say Jumblat’s party has killed way more Christians than Aoun. But I’m not a civil war expert so take that with a grain of salt. And for the record as well, I want to keep my civil war knowledge as limited as possible for the time being. Odds are the Lebanese Forces would have saw Jumblat’s visit as a great step towards national unity. But not Aoun’s.

And let’s assume in a hypothetical scenario that in the coming few months Samir Geagea decided to have an electoral tour in Zgharta. The Lebanese Forces supporters there, fewer than those who support Sleiman Frangieh, would want that visit to happen. And yet the same outrage that was sparked with Aoun’s planned visit to Elige would happen. The Lebanese Forces supporters would be on the other side of the debate right now. Now, ponder on this: would you have wanted Geagea to go there or not? If yes, why can’t you extend the courtesy to someone else?

The Lebanese Forces are proud of going “7asyou la yajro2 l akharoun.” They should have done that regarding Elige and actually did what others wouldn’t do unto them: let it pass and let the people judge.

It is sad that in 2012, almost all parties are still ready to use up civil war arguments to prove a point to their supporters. The Lebanese Forces supporters are now proud that they stopped Aoun’s visit. The Aounists now hate those war criminals even more. The idea that those “ze3ran” are the reason the country is ruined is at all time high in their minds. It is said the civil war has become in the past. Elige would most definitely disagree with those who say so.

The July 2012 Kourah By-Elections: When the Concept of Democracy Escapes the SSNP

Fadi Karam posters are everywhere on the North Lebanon highway

12 days from now, the northern caza “Al Kourah” is going to have a round of elections to elect an MP to replace Farid Habib, who passed away from cancer back in May.
The build up to the elections was interesting to watch. The first question that came up on the political scene soon after the parliementary seat became vacant: would elections take place?

The LF, who had previously won the seat, decided that their party will proceed with the elections. Therefore, based on their new internal laws, consultations took place with high ranking officials of their base in Kourah and they chose Fadi Karam, a dentist and former head of the Order of dentists in North Lebanon.

Soon after Karam was chosen, the SSNP decided that this is a direct confrontation for them. Why’s that? Because Karam is from their base town Amyoun. They considered it as a direct challenge from the LF for them to nominate someone from Amioun. They, therefore, decided to have a candidate run for the Kourah elections. Not because they wanted to. But because they were “forced” to by a blatant act of defiance.

What the SSNP seems to have totally evaded is the concept of democracy. The notion that in an election people who meet certain legal criteria can run regardless of where they are from is not in the SSNP directory. I guess Antoun Saadeh missed that part in whatever party principles they are obviously not following.

I wonder, had the LF nominated someone from Dhour el Shweir, wouldn’t they have considered it an act of defiance as well? Better yet, had the LF nominated someone from Bterram, another town in Kourah where the SSNP have great influence, wouldn’t they have considered it an act of defiance too?

Why hide behind lame excuses when you want to test the ground for the 2013 elections as much as your opponent?

The SSNP also declared that they would have had no problem letting the elections go for a win by default for a lone candidate  had the LF kept their candidate in MP Farid Habib’s family by either nominating his wife or son. Apparently they believe the seat “belongs” to that family since it was only taken from them by death.

Now I have to ask the SSNP, where was this “we respect the dead” attitude when Amin Gemayel was running against an unknown FPM candidate for the seat vacated by the assassination of his son in Metn? Or does it only apply in places where the chance of the SSNP winning are next to none?

Yes, their candidate has no chance of winning in Kourah.

Moreover, why should the concept of a seat belonging to a “family” be even a part of the discussion to begin with? The seat belongs to the citizens of Kourah. It would be a grave insult to their rights not to have the correct path of electoral democracy take place and have one candidate thrown on them forcibly just because some parties are too afraid to lose inexistant momentum a year before the 2013 parliemntary elections.

As part of their campaign, the SSNP are also busy reminding the voters of el Kourah about the LF’s militia past – about how the LF (and the LF alone) killed their sons and children way back when. Let alone the fact that this is nowhere near true (the SSNP had its fair share of atrocities done all across Lebanon and them pretending otherwise would be an a insult to voters’ intelligence), but what good does it do to bring forth into the conversation a civil war people shouldn’t even take into consideration with their votes anymore?

Does the SSNP even know that Fadi Karam was not a militant with the LF during the civil war? Do they know he rose among the ranks of the party after Samir Geagea was released from prison in 2005? Do they know he represents a rising class of LF politicians and enthusiasts who absolutely have nothing to do with the war?

Yet the SSNP is throwing a war Karam had nothing to do with on his shoulders. If you can’t beat them at the polls, beat their reputation with lies, obviously.

In a democratic country like Lebanon – regardless of what you think about this type of democracy – making a big deal out of the village a candidate was born in is unacceptable. Making a big deal of having been “forced” into elections is unacceptable. Making a big deal out of everything but the issues at hand is unacceptable.

You don’t want to run for elections? Then don’t. Don’t whine endlessly about irrelevant reasons for you deciding to run.

Come July 15th, the citizens of Kourah have such a clear choice in front of them it’s even silly to point it out. But regardless, what July 15th should and will be is a triumph for democracy and freedom over the concept of hate and cowardice.

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.