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.*

Why Donald Trump Is Probably Part-Lebanese

donald-trump

With each passing day leading up to America voting on November 8th, there’s a growing conviction that gets reinforced in my head, and that is that the Republican bigot and racist nominee cannot but have some part of him be Lebanese. It’s just the way it is, no genetic testing needed. And this is why.

He’s a politician who hates women:

From statements about him just grabbing women “in the pussy,” to making women feel inadequate about the fact they get their period, to calling a former Miss Universe “Miss Piggy” for gaining weight, to believing that pregnancy is a nuisance for his business, to him believing that sexual assault in the military is obviously logical because the two genders are mixed.

The examples are endless. This link (here) is just a brief summary of some of them.

Of course, while such statements are absolutely horrifying for Americans (even though around 43% of them still want to vote for him), they are only second nature to us as Lebanese. How could they not when we’ve got full blown MPs who think women should be blamed for being raped?

He’s racist:

He’s gonna build a wall, a wall that will be so YUGE!, and who’s gonna pay for that wall? SYRIA! Oh wait. Never mind. Had a little mix up there.

From his anti-Mexican statements, to his overall anti-anything-not-American-Blonde-and-White rhetoric, to turning a blind eye to KKK members campaigning for him, to questioning if Barack Obama was born in the United States, the examples are also – once again – endless.

Not to say that *all* Lebanese are racists, but man, those refugees are just ugh! And can you imagine sharing a pool with a maid? What is this, Colonial Africa? And what’s to say about our minister of foreign affairs? Of course he’s right about not wanting to give Syrians or Palestinians who marry Lebanese women the precious Lebanese nationality. America has KKK, we have 961.

He doesn’t pay taxes and is proud of it:

When interrogated by Hillary Clinton at the first presidential debate about his taxes, alluding to him not paying them, Trump replied: “that makes me smart.” A few days later, the New York Times risked legal action to leak part of his tax returns showing he didn’t pay anything for over 18 years because of being able to manipulate the American tax code like a pro.

His Republican aids came to his rescue. Rudy Guliani turned him into a “genius” for doing what he did, saying that that alone made him more capable to lead the country than “a woman” (refer to point #1).

Americans (not the 42% still voting for him at least) were outraged. Gasps were reportedly heard among undecided voters being used as focus groups during the debate at his tax statements. How could he get Americans (again, not those 42%) to feel like they are “less smart” for actually contributing to their country?

In this side of the world, however, Donald Trump not paying his taxes doesn’t make him smart at all. It makes him just another regular Lebanese. Income tax? What is that again? Electricity Bill? They don’t even dare enter my neighborhood to collect man. Water? Meh, it’s not like they’re gonna cut me off anyway. VAT? Haha, I’ll buy using my foreign passport.😉

He hates Muslims:

He wants to ban Muslims – all 1.6 billion of them – from entering the United States because a small faction of them, numbered at less than 10,000 individuals worldwide, are terrorizing people.

When his statements were demolished by Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of United States Army Captain Humayun Khan who gave up his life saving his fellow soldiers, Trump’s response was not to apologize, but to allude to Ghazala not speaking to her being an oppressed Muslim woman.

The memory of her son was still, years later, too much for her to bear to address the entirety of the United States.

In these parts of the world, the hate of others for being of a different religion on both sides is existent, albeit not applicable to everyone thankfully. The deeper you go in the Lebanese Bible or Quran belts, the more engrained is the mentality that those who pray differently are to be feared. It takes a lot to break out of that.

He lies about everything all the time:

Global warming is a Chinese hoax, he tweeted a few years ago. Flash forward to September 2016 and he denied he ever said it. He supported the War on Iraq. Flash forward a few years later and he denies he ever did.

He comes up with one lie after the other, believes them, and refuses to be fact-checked. Wasn’t it about 90 seconds before he dropped his first lie at the first Presidential Debate?

His Lebanese brethren practice this dogma to the letter. Fact checking is irrelevant here. If it’s my opinion, then it’s a fact and you better deal with it, Lebanon-style.

His top advisor is Lebanese:

Walid Phares – no relation, thank God – is one of Donald Trump’s top advisors and councils him on a lot of issues, notably foreign affairs. Phares’ personal history is relevant for being a Lebanese Forces officer during the Civil War, and leaving to the United States while still retaining his “Christians are better than everyone else because they are Christians” mantra (read point #4).

During the 1980s, Phares, a Maronite Christian, trained Lebanese militants in ideological beliefs justifying the war against Lebanon’s Muslims. Justified back then, perhaps and debatable, but he hasn’t left that mentality behind. He was also a main contributor to the planning behind the Sabra and Chatila massacres.

Birds of a feather flock together, Lebanon style?

Fails at so many things, brags anyway:

From failed universities, to failed steak ventures, to hotels driven to the ground, his career hasn’t exactly been the beacon of bright light that his father’s “small loan” of $14 million kickstarted.

That hasn’t stopped Donald Trump from making sure that everyone and their mother knew that:

  1. He had money,
  2. He has made money,
  3. He has bought stuff with his money,
  4. He can buy more stuff with that money,
  5. He has money,
  6. He will have more money,
  7. The time it took you to read this list has seen him make even more money,
  8. This is a random number on the list because money.

In Lebanon, one may be starving but one would never ever dare show it. One must always buy the fanciest of clothes, go to the most expensive clubs and pretend that life is nothing but instagram-rich-perfect 24/7. Then you go home and decide water is enough for dinner (Evian if with friends, tap if at home alone). Or when you’ve barely made it through your bachelor degree but call yourself a doctor anyway.

A Final Word:

America, 42% is a lot. Wake up.

Lebanon, this doesn’t apply to every one of us, but many have such traits let’s not beat around the bush, as do most of our politicians. Let’s get rid of them like America will (hopefully) get rid of our export to them?

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.

 

CNN Compares Donald Trump & US Republican Presidential Nominees To Lebanese Politicians

In a recent feature on CNN, while discussing the GOP field, a reporter compared the bickering taking place between the four GOP nominees in their debates to that which takes place between Lebanese politicians, while featuring that infamous clip of live chair fighting on MTV.

For reference, the bickering between US GOP nominees was basically about the following topics:

  • Donald Trump’s hand size and consequentially his penis,
  • The extent to which Islam hates America,
  • A wide array of racist remarks against Arabs, Latinos and African American,
  • Calling each other names such as “Little Marco,”
  • Accusing each other of vote rigging,
  • Fighting on who loves Jesus and God more, repeating “to god be the glory” so many times without anyone noticing that’s literally English for “Allahu Akbar,”
  • And, in broader terms, how to make America great again by making America more paranoid, less inclusive and much more xenophobic.

Dear American voters, if you want to know how horrible of a field of candidates you have vying for the top office in your country, know that having them compared to Lebanese politicians should be a wake up call to you, because that must be the highest incompetence honor never to wish upon anyone.

Trust me on this, we have one of the most dysfunctional governing systems in the world and you don’t want that. Our politicians have gotten our country to drown in garbage for over 8 months now with no resolution in sight. Our politicians have failed to elect a president for almost two years no, with no resolution in sight either. Our politicians have taken our constitutional right to vote two times so far, with no near election in sight. Our politicians have failed to manage almost every single national crisis that has plagued this country.

So congrats to you, my dear Americans, for managing to get, in 2016, candidates that are straight out of 1943.

And congrats to our politicians who have become so disgraceful that they’re now a point of comparison to a horrific array of American presidential hopefuls, the most prominent of whom is getting the entire world and many Americans to panic about how inevitable he seems to be. But hey, at least those Republicans haven’t thrown chairs at each other… yet.

Lebanon’s Is The 8th Worst Country In The World For Women Rights

Earlier today, Lebanese minister of internal affairs Nouhad el Machnouk gave an impassioned speech celebrating International Women’s Day in which he proclaimed Lebanese women are not that far behind compared to their male counterpart in the country, something that no other country in the region has achieved. In coming to that conclusion, Machnouk was in part reliant on the fact that Lebanese women were named among the world’s sexiest.

Congrats Lebanese ladies, your value is now directly correlated to your rack and how tight-clad your skirts are. Cue in the applause.

I’m sure this comes as no surprise for a governing body that is as disenchanted and disenfranchised from the population it’s governing as Lebanon’s governments, both current and past. The garbage on our streets is proof enough for that. 

The thing about Lebanon, however, is that it is the center of multiple international studies, as are most countries around the world, especially when it comes to the gender gap and women rights. Among those international studies is one carried out by the World Economic Forum, which was published in mid November 2015. 

That study’s findings can be summarized in the following infographic by LA Times’ Priya Krishnakumar:

Gender Gap worldwide

This puts us on a shameful list of countries where the gender gap is so severe that the term second sex does not delineate an other-hood but rather inferiority. We are 8th in the worst countries in the world when it comes to equality between men and women, adding it to another worst-of-list for us to be “proud” of.

Happy international women’s day my fellow Lebanese.

Our women can’t pass on our beautiful citizenship to their children, but what matters is that they can wear whatever they want (if their male family members deem it appropriate).

Our women have single-digit representation in a triple-digits parliament, but what matters is that one of those representatives is stunning (and would make a healthy argument to being on that sexiest countries list).

Our women’s wages are always inferior to their male counterparts in the country, but what matters is that those men have no problem spending the money on those women (because financial independence is so passé).

Our women’s participation in the workforce is inferior to their male counterparts in the country, but what matters certainly is those women’s job as housewives, bringing up generations (of children whose girls grow up to be just like their mothers and whose boys grow up just like their fathers).

Our women can get beaten to death legally at the hand of their spouse with no legal protection against that domestic abuse, but what matters is obviously for that man to remain the dominant figure in that household, his word never repeated twice.

Faced with such a reality, some of us Lebanese will look at that list and say: but Saudi Arabia isn’t there. Women can’t even drive there. Yes, because looking up to Saudi Arabia is obviously the best way for our society to move forward. There’s more to women rights than getting behind the wheel of a car.

If our governing bodies think that the entirety of Lebanese women is summarized by the touristy reports they see about Mar Mkhayel on a Saturday night, it’s our duty as Lebanese to be aware that our country extends beyond its party streets.

I hope Lebanon ends up on the other part of that infographic one day. Such a drift will not happen if we don’t all contribute to putting our women forward. These upcoming municipal elections, encourage your mothers and sisters to run. Encourage all our women who are so excellent at what they do to propagate their excellence onto a bigger medium. Mentalities need to change, and that is the best way to do so.

Until then, less Nouhad el Machnouk empty propaganda, and more reality please. Happy International Women’s Day, everyone.

Congrats Lebanon, We Have The World’s 9th Worst Passport

Oh so close. We almost dropped out of the top ten this year, but no such luck.

After all the hassle secondary to our General Security deciding out of the blue that a good bunch of the country’s passport would no longer be functional, it’s safe to say that apart from that useless bureaucracy, very minimal improvement has occurred to the state of our travel document over the past year. After all, how could it given that the only semblance of governance we get is when Saudi Arabia is upset at us?

Henley & Partners, the world’s leading Citizenship research consultancy firm, published their yearly report about passport strengths – the same one that gets us upset every year – and we’re at #96 when it comes to the worst passports of the world, in a list that tops at #104 with Afghanistan. We share the #96 spot, which translates to the 9th worst passport in the world with Bangladesh, Congo and Sri Lanka.

The bottom 10 is as follows:

  1. Afghanistan,
  2. Pakistan,
  3. Iraq,
  4. Somalia,
  5. Syria,
  6. Libya,
  7. Sudan, Palestine, Nepal, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran,
  8. Kosovo, South Sudan, Yemen,
  9. Bangladesh, Congo, Lebanon, Sri Lanka,
  10. Burundi, North Korea, Myanmar.

Meanwhile, a slew of European and American countries top the list with passports that give them access to more 170 countries visa-free. We are allowed access to 39.

The highest ranking Arab country is the UAE at #38 with a passport that grants them visa-free entry to 122 countries. The highest ranking regional country, however, is Cyprus at #17 with 159 visa-free country, bolstered by the fact it’s in the European Union. Our enemy to the South, meanwhile, comes in at #25 with around 147 countries its citizens can enter without a hassle.

The situation is not that bleak, however, because our passport rank has actually gone up from last year, mostly because a bunch of countries fell below us such as Syria, South Sudan and Iraq:

Lebanon Passport

We have, however, gained two more visa-free countries to travel to in the past year, up to 39.

There’s nothing more indicative about how being born somewhere is detrimental to your “worth” as a person as the hierarchy behind passports, a yearly reminder that if you happen to come from a place that is not Europe, not America, and not completely in the good graces of either of those two entities, your worth is inherently lower.

But that’s not the full explanation behind how low our passport and citizenship ranks. This rank is a reflection of the unstable political situation in a country that hasn’t had a president in almost two years and doesn’t seem like it will have one anytime soon, hasn’t managed to vote for a parliament in over 1000 days, has garbage piling up on its streets, has one of the most incompetent ruling classes to exist, has a militia roaming its lands with the ability to shake the country up at will (as in protests because of a caricature on a TV show).

Look at the UAE. A few years ago, they had only access to 64 countries without visas. In 2016, their citizens can visit double that number. Why so? Because their ruling class – new-age dictators and whatnot – have a clear vision for a future that enables their citizens to be the best version of themselves (within the limited freedom confines offered of course). We can make fun all we want of how fake Dubai is, of how silly it is to have a “Happiness” minister, but the fact remains that not only are Emiratis leagues above us now, they are also in an upward trajectory while we slumber in our lower ranks content that we have real snow and not a fake slope built inside a Dubai mall.

United Arab Emirates Passport

What can we do to fix this?

We need to be more aware citizens. We can’t bury our heads in the glories of days past and pretend that is a representation of our present. When the time comes to vote, we shouldn’t go back to what we know thinking it’s what we need – we need to see that there are alternatives to the parties that have been ruining our lives for years. As long as our politicians keep getting a blank space from us to do whatever they want, they’ll be content with keeping a status quo that enables them and disables us, including a passport that forces everyone to stay put – unless they were lucky enough to have a second one on the side to use at will.

 

When Lebanon’s Trash Becomes International, But We Are Too Busy Kissing Saudi Arabia’s Ass

Don’t call it brain dead.

Congrats Lebanon, we have made the international news cycle once more, the first time this year and hopefully the first of many.

No, it wasn’t about that viral Facebook fake-pictures-filled post proclaiming the beauty of God’s gift to Earth. I can hear your hearts break all the way here.

What made us international is actually old news to us. It’s so old in fact that not only does nobody care anymore, but the hype surrounding the issue has disappeared with each vanishing garbage bag stashed away in one of Lebanon’s valleys or on random roads, snaking around curves like white rancid rivers. Out of sight, out of mind – Lebanon style.


There is a bright side to the ordeal, however. Even our garbage bags look nice. They’re white, snow-like, built into winding rivers or towering pyramids.

Say hi to Buzzfeed.

Say thank you to CNN.

Wait for the upcoming onslaught from other outlets as well in the next few days. We are making it big. Aren’t we all proud?

Except, of course, this is *obviously* not the image of the country:

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I mean it’s always someone else’s fault, never ours collectively.

Putting lipstick on a dead pig level: Lebanon.

Is anything happening regarding the garbage crisis? Not really. Our government is busy doing other things, or just one thing to be exact: kiss Saudi Arabia’s ass like no country has missed another country’s ass before.

This past week, our government convened for SEVEN straight hours to discuss one item on their agenda: how to formulate a paragraph to please Saudi Arabia in order not to face their wrath manifesting in them not giving us money anymore, beggars-style.

I don’t think our government has convened for a total of 7 hours discussing the garbage crisis, or any other Lebanese crisis for that matter, over the last several months.

Live Love Saudi Arabia.

This past week, Saad Hariri decided to launch a petition across the country in order to show Saudi Arabia that Lebanon loved it so, akin to our country giving them a big fat political blowjob.

No politician cared enough to act about the garbage crisis, or any other crisis, since it started. Have we ever had a “Loyalty to Lebanon” petition circle around the country before?

Live Love Saudi Arabia.

This past week, minister of Justice Ashraf Rifi quit to protest the Lebanese stance towards Saudi Arabia’s recent embassy attack, first and foremost, and to a lesser extent protest the handling of Michel Samaha’s case. It took their reference country being seemingly offended for some ministers to resign.
Months after the garbage piled up on our streets, months after protests of hundreds of thousands… No other minister resigned or was even fazed by the notion of needing to resign.
This past week, Lebanese politicians of all kinds of kinds had something to say about Saudi Arabia. Even those that opposed KSA politically were at loss about what to do.
This amount of political maneuvering has not occurred not only with the garbage crisis, but with out presidential vacuum issue as well.

Live Love Saudi Arabia.

There comes a point where an entire country begging for absolution from another entity for the sake of money, for the sake of empty Arabism, for the sake of useless politics when that country’s capital is drowning in trash becomes not only humiliating but also insulting.

This is where we are today: a country sinking in garbage, but whose priority is how low it can go to its knees. But please, by a all means, don’t call it brain dead.

Let’s keep loving Saudi Arabia.