Lebanon Protests: The Need For Change Doesn’t End With Hariri Resigning

Via Art Of Thawra

It took 13 days of the entire country being paralyzed for Lebanon’s politician to budge. In a statement in which he decried that “no one is above their country,” Saad Hariri – our now (former?) prime minister issued his resignation.

His resignation comes today to the background of plenty of Hezbollah and Amal thugs storming the downtown Beirut area, beating up protesters, women, reports, breaking down equipment, and the tents those protesters were using to demand basic human rights.

If anything, Hariri’s resignation can’t be more timely: he is resigning from leading a country he was not able to govern, as exemplified by our own security forces standing helpless as those goons came down on peaceful protests, bolstered by their impenetrable political shield.

But let’s not forget that this isn’t just about Hariri, or Bassil, or Aoun, or Berri, or any other politician who hasn’t been at the forefront of the protest chants. Kellon ye3ne Kellon means that Hariri’s resignation should be one of many, and it should be a wake up call for us that building the country we deserve doesn’t stop when someone resigns.

In 2005, the massive protests after the assassination of Rafic Hariri led to the resignation of the prime minister. A lot of people were satisfied with that development, and it was surely triumphant. But as the subsequent decade has shown us, it was not enough.

Hariri resigning is not enough.

Our politicians are symptoms of a syndrome. This syndrome is the sectarian rule of law that has enabled them to persist as parasites, leeching off the people from whom they’ve sucked all the will to survive.

It is not a surprise that, nowadays, criticizing Hariri – to many – feels as if you’re criticizing Sunnis. It is not a surprise that many think criticizing Hezbollah and Amal is akin to criticizing the foundation of Lebanese Shiism. It not a surprise that criticizing Aoun or Bassil or Geagea feels to a lot of people as if you’re attacking Lebanese Christianity.

This is because those politicians have been able to use our sectarian divides as walls that they’ve erected around their halos, in order to perpetuate the illusion of their sanctity, in order to let us think they are untouchable.

The mere notion of some politicians being red lines that should not be crossed in this country, or in any democracy, is a no-go. They should all be open for criticism, impeachment and – most importantly – removal from office.

But that will never happen if we continue to prioritize sect over country. If me, a Lebanese Maronite, will forever be clinging to my Maronitism as the scope with which I view my citizenry, then Lebanon will never be able to become a country that can inhabit all of its people. The same thing applies for people of other sects.

This means that moving forward, Hariri’s resignation is not enough to instill the change we need. Gebran Bassil becoming a “former” minister is not enough, despite how catchy his chants can be. Moving forward, cute chants of “mabsoutaaa3” are not enough to move this country forward.

What we need is a drastic overhaul of the Lebanese system that enables its citizens to be equal in the eye of a common law, not by the law of their respective sects. What we need is a for an electoral law that is not tailored to our current politicians or people who are like them, to enable different faces with the same bullshit to be brought back to office.

What we need is to start concrete steps towards the de-sectarianization of this country so that – in 10, 20 or 30 years from now – we can get to a place where a Lebanese citizen would not introduce themselves by how they pray.

Until then, I congratulate all of the protestors on this first much-needed ounce of change, and hopefully it is the bellwether of more change to come.

Lebanon Protests: It’s Too Late To Believe Any of These Politicians’ Promises

(Picture via Anis Tabet).

Nata2 badri, as my mom would say.

72 hours have come and gone. Aoun, Berri and Hariri have finally come out of their weekend long slumber to unveil their country saving plan… and they think we’re actually going to believe them this time.

The plan that Hariri unveiled today is offensive to every single Lebanese who had to suffer through their corruption for years. This so-called plan is an insult to the intelligence of the millions who have been starved over the years, and who were protesting in the streets over the last 4 days.

It’s ridiculous that it took millions of us protesting across the world for them to *finally* succumb and cut down on their salaries, on their benefits, on long standing black holes that siphoned public funds into their pockets.

What Hariri and the rest of Lebanon’s ruling class believe is that they can continue to fool people with the same empty promises they’ve given for years. If it was *this* easy for them to enact these changes, why hadn’t they enacted them months ago when they were scrambling to come up with a budget for a country that functioned without one for decades?

It’s because they’ve taken our silence for granted. It’s because they assumed they can do whatever they wanted to this people and get away with it. But that stops now.

No Mr. Hariri, your empty promises don’t fly here. Just look at workers at Future TV and Saudi Ogeh were promised for years, none of which was ever fulfilled.

No, these empty reforms don’t address the root of the problem which is that these same politicians who have failed to reform anything for decades cannot suddenly see the light and decide to enact much needed change.

No, switching one way for these politicians to steal money to programs called Elinor and Elissar is not reform. This is just another name for theft.

It’s too little too late for empty statements masquerading under the guise of change to be effective. We should be better than to believe such empty words.

I really hope that years of lies are enough to have us believe that more lies can never be truths.

Stay tuned, Lebanon. The revolution continues.

Cancer Of Arabism, Breeder of Terrorism, And Radical Islam Harborer Saudi Arabia Is Walking All Over Lebanon’s Reputation & Sovereignty Because We Allow It

It’s the epitome of irony when the country that gave the world the masterminds and executioners of 9/11, whose soil gave birth to Bin Laden and other infamous terrorists that have killed innocents the world over, whose money has funded terrorism in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Europe and America, whose entire existence is about destabilizing as much as possible accuses Lebanon of terrorism – and detains its own prime minister as a result.

Saudi Arabia, the country that made a robot a citizen before its own women can have equal rights, summoned our prime minister to their country one week ago to this day, forced him to resign, and is now holding him at an unknown location in their country, not permitting him to return to his country that he is still technically in charge in. You see, Lebanese Prime Ministers cannot resign from abroad and consider that resignation valid, it has to be presented to the Lebanese president. Saudi Arabia is holding our head of state for ransom – as one of Marcel Ghanem’s Saudi guests put it: “you’ll get him back once you’ve gotten rid of Hezbollah.”

I wonder, how would the Saudis feel had some foreign power decided to hold their crown prince hostage, say, in their territorial waters one day, on his fancy ass boat just because they can? Nay, Saudi Arabia doesn’t reason. It’s a country synonymous with oppression, cutting off hands as forms of punishment and spreading hate whenever they can.

A country that’s made Arabism more cancerous than actual cancer, who has bred terrorism and harbored all the facets of Radical Islam is currently tramping all over our reputation as sovereign state. They hold our economy in their hands – 22% of remittances come from there. They hold our politics in their fingers. They are literally holding our prime minister in their midst. They send their henchmen on TV shows run by Lebanese journalists and reporters, and have them insult the country to those reporters’ faces, only to be stared at blankly.

You see, for a country that’s 50 shades of demented like Saudi Arabia to have so much power over our own home, the answer is simple: we’ve allowed it to foster over the years, putting our own dignity as a country second to the well-being and pride of the Saudis, and their friends.

When they send their tourists in, we treat them like royalty. They’re not just another tourist visiting the country for the summer – they’re the Saudis who are back for this season. We offer them specials in our restaurants, we kiss their asses like no other touristic ass has ever been kissed in the country. We inflame the sense in them that we need them more than they need us.

When they tell us we have to be thankful they ended our civil war, we shrug and nod. We don’t rise up to say that they had as much a hand in the civil war in the first place. We don’t tell them that one cannot claim credit for ending a disaster that one was part of. Instead, we take the hit and change the topic. It’s Saudi Arabia, the mighty heart of Mecca. One does not simply oppose their rhetoric easily.

When they call on their citizens to leave the country, we fall on our knees and beg them to change their minds. They pull that card faster than Gebran Bassil spews racism, and yet, we fall to their tricks every time. No, please don’t have your people go. No, please let them stay. Sam Smith was not that desperate in any of his songs. Do we need their money? Sure. But some things are more important than money in this country, and sometimes telling someone who’s bluffing to your face to fuck off is what’s needed.

When they threaten the well-being of Lebanon’s families in their country, and consequently our economy, we crumble in fear of what could happen if they execute their threats, not knowing that their economy is as much reliant as Lebanese workers who are there. It’s beyond egotistical for them to remotely believe they can even replace our diaspora that is there, but they threaten it anyway, and we fall for it every time.

Their hands – as are Iran’s – play with our country like legos. Our borders, whether closed or not, are always open for their interference to come in and do whatever it wants, no questions asked. Our relationship with them has been parasitic for a very long time, but today it is becoming cancerous. Today, Saudi Arabia is trying to, as it has been doing for years now, squash the little country it thinks it can take on, except it’s no longer in the woodworks and out in the open.

And we let it. We’ve let our politicians, be it Saad or his dad or other figures, convince us that we must be eternally grateful to the Kingdom for our well-being as a country, no questions asked, no criticism raised. They can kill our political cycle by not letting us have the president we want, the prime minister we want, the elections we wanted, the security we deserve, the stability we seek. And we are supposed to sit in a corner, bow our heads and be eternally silent.

Our country has lived without a president, prime minister, functioning governments, functioning infrastructure, a garbage disposal system, terrorist attacks (funded by Saudi Arabia and friends, sometimes), democracy and elections, and we’ve survived. What have the Saudis been through exactly in their lifetime? Oil prices dropping? Cry me a river.

They have a way of making even the staunchest anti-Hezbollah Lebanese rise up against the disgusting rhetoric they’re throwing at us, the insults they’re hurling our way, and the utter disregard to the sanctity of Lebanon as a country in everything they do. It is high time we stand up as a country to being bullied and say that will happen no more. Give us back our prime minister, fight your proxy wars elsewhere, and leave us the fuck alone. We’re a country of 4 million strong who have been through hell and back, whose skin is thicker than yours will ever be, and who are sick of your bullshit in their daily lives for the past 30 years.

Hariri Resigns As Lebanese Prime Minister All The Way From Saudi Arabia, Because Patriotism

Nothing says patriotism and Lebanese sovereignty as much as your own prime minister announcing his resignation, and subsequently a nail in the coffin of Lebanese governance, all the way from a foreign country, on one of their megaphone TVs nonetheless.

Saad Hariri, who has been back as prime minister for nearly 11 months now, in a government that was billed as one of “national unity” suddenly remembered that – gasp – he is sharing his rule with Hezbollah, a party whom Hariri’s funders in Saudi Arabia do not approve of and whose entire existence is, as we’ve come to know, is mutually exclusive with Hariri’s raison d’etre.

Entre nous, I had totally forgotten up until this very moment that Hariri was prime minister and that Lebanon actually had a government. It’s not that difficult to forget such details when things have been pretty much the same, whether Hariri is there or not, and whether we have a government or not. Corruption is still omnipresent. Dysfunction still reigns supreme. And countries that are not Lebanese still dictate what goes on in our own home country. Their accomplishment? Burdening us with extra taxes and then leaving.

Case in point? Hariri resigned from Saudi Arabia, not even from our Serail, in protest of Iranian influence into Lebanon’s governance.

Hariri’s reasoning for his resignation – clearly dictated on him by his bosses abroad – are that the current situation in Lebanon is similar to the ambiance before the assassination of his father around 12 years ago, along with the threat that Hezbollah’s arms pose on an internal level after their escapades with the dictator in Damascus over the past few years.

Reasonable, perhaps, but it’s mostly a little too late, and exceedingly cowardly for a politician to leave the entire country in the dust as he rushes away to save his own ass, all other Lebanese be damned. Yet again, what can we expect from a ruling class whose priority was and will always be its own skin, and whose MO for ruling is to benefit as much as possible from being in power, with servicing us as Lebanese citizens being the last thing on their minds?

I wonder though, did Saad Hariri know he wanted to resign last week – or even two days ago – when he was all over the place announcing plans and grand schemes to increase Beirut’s airport capacity, boost Lebanon’s tourism, work on further bringing Gulf investors back, and the like? Or when he filmed his Hala Bel Khamis video with a bunch of youth? Or did he simply wake up on November 4th, hop on his private jet to Saudi Arabia, probably without paying that extra tax his government imposed on us, and decided that he did not want to be prime minister anymore?

Whether we are going to actually have elections in 2018 becomes up in the air as well. What Hariri resigning also does is entice Lebanon’s Sunnism, further fueling their sense of being at the short end of the Lebanese stick, threatened merely for existing. Sectarianism is in full blown play, months before we head to the polls – if we do in the first place.

With threats of war, conflict, instability, the Lebanese population deserves more than politicians who are willing to throw it under the bus on whimsical dictated moves. We deserve more than to wake up one day and realize we don’t have a government anymore, and that our security and well-being is even more up in the air just because a politician’s foreign bosses told him so.

Why Voting for “Beirut Madinati” Is Of Vital Importance To Get A Better Lebanon

Beirut Madinati May 8th vote

The first lesson we are taught back in our school’s civics class was the following: you, as a citizen, have rights and duties. Voting is a combination of both – it is the only way for you to hold those in power accountable.

We, as Lebanese, haven’t had the chance to hold those in power accountable for more than half a decade now. Starting this Sunday, and for a month, is our chance to do so.

Beirut Madinati is running against the “Beirutis List,” an agglomeration of 24 candidates that represent every single party in power. Yes, every one of them. The Tashnag are there. The Hanshak are there. The FPM and LF, in their new found love in a hopeless place, are there. Berri and the Future Movement are also there.

The Future Movement, which had up until a month ago accused Hezbollah of being the party behind killing their founder and Saad’s father, is now in bed with those same people in Beirut, not that that would stop them from using Rafik Hariri’s memory in all kinds of vote sympathy mongering.

The FPM which was a few months ago calling the Future Movement “Lebanon’s ISIS” is now in bed with them as well. All for one single reason: to kill a movement for the people, by the people, asking for change.

The reason why it is of VITAL importance to give your vote for Beirut Madinati on Sunday is to say that the current situation as is will not be tolerated anymore. As the saying goes: voting for it “zayy ma hiye” will keep the situation “zay ma houwe.” Their electoral tactics are zayy ma hiye: intimidation, fear, hate and sectarianism. 

Voting for Beirut Madinati is not a vote for a simple municipal election. It is our chance as a country, through Beirutis, to vote against the establishment that has been screwing us for years. It is our chance to say enough is enough. It is our chance to challenge the entire political establishment that is united in trying to bring us down, again, and our chance to start reclaiming our country, starting with its capital.

If you’ve forgotten, let me tell remind you of the situation you’re living in:

– The city of Beirut currently has no water. It’s only May, and it’s still raining. I literally bought water yesterday to be able to shower. I see this becoming a worse pattern as summer rolls by.

– The city of Beirut is stinking of garbage. Its people are going to hospitals with all kinds of respiratory problems because of the smell. The pollution because of the garbage crisis will take years to resolve.

– Many of the youth of Beirut not only don’t live in Beirut anymore, but have left the country, as is the case with many Lebanese, for better opportunities. Hashtag My Dubai. Maybe we should just keep calling Dubai Madinati instead so el sheikh Saad ma yez3al?

– The city’s Centre, Nejmeh Square, is currently off access to its people and all Lebanese. Why? Because our parliament that is not even working is present there. Spoiler alert: foreigners are allowed to enter.

– You, as Beiruti and Lebanese, are always under the mercy of whichever politician you have the displeasure of encountering. If you’re on the road driving and you come by one of their convoys, they will run you over to move ahead. It is the way things are when entities feel they are always above reproach.

– You, as Beiruti and Lebanese, are worth nothing more than $100 on Election Day for your politicians.  They don’t care about planning for a better future for you and your children. They only care about you voting for them on Election Day.

– The situation is so comically sad that clubs in the country are being forced to close the day before each mohafaza votes, which happens to be on the day those places make the most money: on Saturday. The system doesn’t even know how to function without killing your livelihood.

– The political establishment has worked tirelessly to sell your land to the highest bidder, to ban you from going to the beach that is your public property, to wall off Raoucheh from its people to turn it into a construction site, to destroy your heritage.

– The political establishment has made your economy such a mess that your child is born with $15,000 in debt.

– The political establishment has made your reality in such a way that you and your children are limited by where you are born, the sect you are born into, who you know, and how much money you have.

– The political establishment has not been able to give you a president. It’s been two years. It has stolen your right to vote two times so far to keep itself in power. It has not managed to come up with a decent electoral law.

– The political establishment tried to KILL you in August when you protested against their trash. They were not even sorry.

– The political establishment funds its own wars, as was the case in Tripoli, and you’re the last of their concerns. It takes tax money out of you but gives you nothing in return but hell.

Do you want to keep the status quo as it is? Do you want to give the politicians that have been ruining your life a free pass for more years to come? Do you want them to keep running unchecked, aware that no matter how horrible they are, no matter how badly they treat you, no matter how little a bug they see you, no matter how many times you curse them over the years, they can count on you falling in line when it counts, on Election Day?

Say no to keeping the country braindead, and vote Beirut Madinati.

Breaking News: I Almost Died

Well, not quite.

I was in Tripoli when Saad Hariri’s long-awaited Ramadan speech was taking place. I couldn’t care less about what he had to say so I just sat with my friends on a porch, enjoying an afternoon August breeze.

“He’s ten minutes in and we haven’t heard bullets yet,” Ismail said jokingly. And, as if on queue, the bullets started getting fired up the air.

So as we discussed some inescapable politics through the distant shots, we heard something ricochet off the wall and land immediately next to us. We were four people. This surprisingly heavy bullet could have hit anyone:

Bullet tripoli lebanon

I’m not the kind to immediately freak out so we simply retreated inside as they cursed the morons shooting on the streets in celebration. The shooting soon ended as the speech died down.

Then I wondered: what if this actually hit one of us?

Any kind of injury because of this bullet would necessitate hospital attention.  What if we can’t afford the hospital? What if there’s no hospital around? What if the supposed injury was life-threatening? Why is my well-being contingent upon the odds of ricochets?

Till when should we be satisfied that this is simply a “what if” scenario?

The worst part of it is that we have all become so used to this, even those of us who don’t come from a city that has become far too acquainted with such incidents, that the logical thing to do was to simply change rooms and wait it out because we knew there was nothing else we could do and that no entity whose job was to prevent such things from happening would actually do its job.

However, I’m not full of negativity. I can see the silver lining in all of this: they were firing bullets not rockets.

Saad Hariri & Lebanon’s Civil Marriage

Following more than two hours of questions and dodging answers, you could say that Saad Hariri’s first interview in a long time came down to one single moment that everyone was waiting for.

It wasn’t his proposal for the electoral law. The ship has sailed on that. It wasn’t about when he would come back to the country. We all know it will be soon as elections are starting to knock on our doors. Many tuned in to see how the man would look like after all this time. Many were surprised to find his speech flowing smoothly. Many, such as myself, were not impressed with the quality of the discourse.

But we can all agree that Saad Hariri shined when the moment called for it.

I am not usually a fan of Mr. Hariri’s antics. But I must give the man credit where credit is due. Because the moment was, by Lebanese standards, historic.

Saad Hariri did the following:

  • He defied his sect’s religious reference and that ridiculous fatwa barring any politician from supporting civil marriage under the threat of apostasy.
  • He went against the majority of his base by supporting a marriage that they are against.
  • He became the first major Sunni leader to come out in support of civil marriage, breaking a taboo among the Muslim ruling class of Lebanon by advocating for something that goes beyond Islam.

That wasn’t enough for some Lebanese. The moment Saad Hariri supported civil marriage, they accused him of doing so for electoral purposes. Color me confused but how is defying your entire voting base on a crucial issue such as this beneficial electorally? This is courage that I haven’t seen in a Lebanese politician in a long, long time.

But I digress.

I, as a Lebanese first and foremost, am proud of the stance that Saad Hariri took regarding the issue of civil marriage. I, as a Lebanese Christian, am happy that this non-Christian leader sees beyond the scope of his sect that some of my “Christian” leaders are failing to do while whoring around my supposed rights in the process.

When asked the question of whether I wanted Saad Hariri to be back as prime minister, I answered no. Today, he forced me to reconsider. Why wouldn’t I with his newly found mentality?

Saad Hariri just did what his father was too afraid to do. What Najib Mikati was too afraid to do a few days ago. And he’s proudly welcomed today in the Lebanese circle of kuffar.