The Lebanese Army is Becoming Way Too Reckless

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine was heading back to his hometown in the Chouf. Knowing the road like the back of his hand, he didn’t think there would be a military checkpoint which was set up there in the few hours he wasn’t home. So while driving back, he didn’t stop at the checkpoint.

As a result, the army spiked his car’s tires, deflating them all and stopping him in his tracks. He ended up paying over $500 for new tires. In retrospect, my friend was very lucky.

If this had happened with him today, my friend would have been dead.

Charbel Rahme is the latest casualty to the Lebanese army. What was Charbel Rahme’s fault? He didn’t stop at the Madfoun checkpoint. Should he have stopped? Definitely. Everyone should stop at a Lebanese army checkpoint. But is not stopping enough reason for the army to kill someone?

I refrained from commenting on the army killing Sheikh Abdul Wahed last week. Let’s wait for the investigation, I figured. Perhaps Sheikh Abdul Wahed had a ton of arms with him in the car. Perhaps his convoy shot at the army first. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Too many suppositions.

But in Charbel Rahme’s case, he didn’t shoot at the army. He didn’t threaten their lives. And still he died. His car was shot 6 times. There’s no room for randomness with 6 bullets. He was shot in the head. He died instantly. He was 38.

Charbel Rahme’s brother is a major in the army as well.

Two theories come to mind. Either this is the act of reckless individuals within the army, in which case they should be trialed as soon as possible. Or there’s a command from high-above to shoot to kill. When it comes to the former, the fact that this incident has happened twice in one week means there are way too many reckless individuals within the army and if the “myth” of the army being protective to all Lebanese is to stand then massive pruning is needed.

As for the latter theory, how can I expect protection from an army who would kill me if I run a checkpoint? The argument that I’m a civilian who “doesn’t understand” doesn’t stand. I’m the civilian whose life is threatened here. I’m the civilian getting killed in a meaningless situation no one should die in. I’m the civilian whose trust in the army is waning dangerously thin. I’m the civilian whose support the army desperately needs. I’m the civilian who can’t understand why I have to die if I don’t stop at a checkpoint.

We are not hypocrites. We supported the Lebanese army when the hypocrites proclaiming Lebanese army love today laughed at some of the army’s martyrs. But when it comes to our lives, some things need to be said. The Madfoun checkpoint has a puzzle of barricades to prevent people like Charbel Rahme from speeding away from the checkpoint. The army would have had way too much time to spread out the spikes needed in order to stop the car.

The spikes wouldn’t have allowed Charbel Rahme’s car to go more than 20 meters with deflated tires. Even if Charbel Rahme had continued trying to move away, his body has way too many points the army can hit without killing. And yet, Charbel Rahme’s body is lying cold in the morgue of the Batroun Hospital with a bullet hole in his head.

There’s no other way to spin it. The Lebanese army is getting reckless with the lives of the people it should be protecting. The Lebanese army is becoming way too reckless with the weapons it has especially with people against whom these weapons should never be used.

Alla ye7me l jeish? I beg to differ. Alla ye7mina ne7na iza heik.

Is Lebanon fast turning into a military state where your life ends depending on how you behave at checkpoints? Is not stopping at a military checkpoint now a threat to the national security of the country?

The people of Bsharre are now ringing the bells of their churches, lighting candles and praying for the soul of Charbel Rahme. May he rest in peace. His death was unnecessary, uncalled for and much more dangerous than the death of Sheikh Ahmad Abdul Wahad. Why? Because Charbel Rahme was a regular citizen, like you and me.

This is Charbel Rahme

As Tripoli Burned, PM Najib Mikati Was Busy Getting Entertained



A friend from Tripoli told me yesterday about something – or someone – he saw while watching Cirque du Soleil's Saltimbanco show, currently showing at Forum de Beyrouth.

PM Najib Mikati was apparently so exhausted from what was going on in his hometown that he found it fitting to go and watch a circus show, which he must have figured would be better than the one taking place on the streets of Tripoli.

The prime minister's hometown and one of Lebanon's major cities being in turmoil wasn't enough for him to cancel attending a show. Instead, as people battled on the streets and army men died, the prime minister was busy applauding a bunch of Canadians as they jumped from place to place.

Instead of trying to come up with a plan of action and ordering the army to deploy immediately, Mikati figured it would be better for his city and the country that he takes a break from it all. If Saad Hariri was out of sync with Lebanon due to being away, what excuse can we come up with for the current prime minister for being this untactful?

Instead of blaming militias first and foremost for killing army men and civilians, how about we blame the politicians who let them roam free with their violence for obvious political gains while their eyes satiate with art?

Why I’m Against Proportional Representation (Nesbiyé) in Lebanon’s 2013 Elections

One of the main debates going on in the country currently is regarding the 2013 electoral law, mainly whether to include proportional representation in it or not.

Politicians’ views are already diverging on the matter and they break down to the following:

– Walid Jumblat: Against. He wouldn’t be totally dominant over the Druze vote and would lose a decent amount of his influence.

– Saad Hariri: Against. While he’s not as affected by this representation-wise as Jumblat, his stance has varied from being supportive of proportional representation to against it solely because he wants to bring Jumblat to his side for the elections.

– Hezbollah: With. They get about 90% of the Shiite votes in elections, which is where they have candidates. 90% in the proportional representation law would give them all the seats with very minimal effect. It’s a win-win situation for them so why not demand Lebanon as one district with proportional representation to have bigger gains across the map?

– Michel Aoun: With. Why wouldn’t he approve of something that would make him benefit from all the votes of the party mentioned above?

– Samir Geagea: No idea. He has made arguments than can go both ways so his stance regarding this matter hasn’t been fully formulated yet.

One of my main problems with proportional representation is that it is thought of as the cure to our system when it is far from being the case. Many believe that applying “nesbiyé” in the 2013 elections will start decreasing sectarianism by having different people from certain sects getting representation.

In order to do that, the electoral districts being thought of are getting increasingly bigger. Some are even suggesting to make Lebanon one whole electoral district. The argument? This is the only political elections where the population gets to vote so why not get the whole country to vote for everyone?

The way I see it an MP is a representative of their corresponding region first and foremost. Increasing electoral districts to make “nesbiyé” work will not lead to better representation. Or is it “representation” only when certain parties that wouldn’t dream of a parliament seat get one even if they don’t represent the woes of a region? Does a citizen from Beirut know what are my concerns as a citizen from Batroun? I don’t think so. Do I know what are the concerns of my friend in the South? Absolutely not.

What gives me the right to choose their MP and them mine? The sake of national unity? Please.

And for those who believe districts should be medium-sized, say according to the mohafaza – what do people in Batroun know about what a caza like Koura needs? What do people in Zgharta know about the demands of people in Bsharre?

When during parliamentary sessions an MP talks about his district as his main focus, you know this is what they represent not the whole country as we so gullibly want to believe. And it is definitely their right. The whole idea that we, as a country, need everyone to vote for everyone in order to reach unity is non-sensical. You don’t see it happening anywhere else in the world that a country votes for all the MPs its parliament has.

Let’s talk about how practical applying nesbiyé would be. I, in Batroun, get 2 MPs. In the 2009 elections, the margin for those who won was 53%-47%, which in a nesbiyé-equipped scenario means that the result wouldn’t be 2-0 but 1-1. Is that a representation of the will of the caza? Definitely not. Of course, applying proportional representation means Batroun would be merged with other districts, which brings me back to the point I mentioned previously. In reality, most cazas don’t have an overflow of MPs they get to vote to.

It is here that I have to ask: what’s the point of people voting and giving someone a majority when everyone gets to power either way? When I vote for someone and against another person, that means I do not want that person to represent me. If the results of my district turn out to be in my favor and the person who lost ends up in office anyway, then what’s the whole point of elections to begin with?

Moreover, in the current state Lebanon is finding itself today, especially with armed parties swaying the balance of power, would nesbiyé truly be fair, as it’s alluded to be, for parties that don’t have weapons?

In the current form of sectarian Lebanon today, when all sects except Christians give a majority that cannot be contested to one specific party, wouldn’t proportional representation with bigger districts dilute the Christian vote to a point of irrelevance as we’ve seen, for instance, in the 2000 and 2005 elections in certain districts?

In a country where division is based on sects and regions, any law will be accused of increasing either tension. The 2009 law is blamed for increasing sectarianism. We say that because we love to hide and pretend as if our regions are not a mass aggregation of people from one specific sect when, in fact, the only reason we look at the 2009 law negatively is because the results it brought about was a collection of people who couldn’t rule to begin with and others who don’t know how to rule.

Just take a look at a map of Lebanon and you’ll see exactly how one-colored most regions are. This is a demographically situation, not an electoral one.

No, proportional representation is not bad, as some politicians are saying, because it increases Syrian influence in Lebanon. Proportional representation is bad because it’s so ill-timed it is nowhere near the solution it is made out to be. It can only possibly work with bigger circumscriptions, and everything aside, this is an inherent flaw that cannot be ignored. It can only work when the political system of the country is not a disproportionate sectarian representation to begin with. It can only work when the main parties that will make part of it have, at least, some varying degrees of equal influence. When not everyone is fundamentally on equal footing, you can’t have a law that equalizes them in voting booths.

The Truth Behind Boutros Harb “Bowing” To Feltman

The following picture spread around like wildfire these past couple of days. Those against Boutros Harb started going on about how he was going back to his “roots” of bowing to those who are “superior.” (Yes, I have heard this being said.). Those that support him figured it can’t be true. I am neither a blind supporter nor a hater, so I simply didn’t care.

Typical Lebanese positions.

But there’s a video now to show which side was right. It looks like the picture was a very cheap shot by Assafir. They knew what he was doing and still published it anyway.

Lebanese Bus Drivers Strike

While going to my university this morning and as I reached the exit that takes me to it, I was surprised to see a bunch of buses blocking the way. They didn’t allow us to go through.
Yes, they were on strike – and the best location to express themselves was apparently by blocking the road for thousands of students to get to class.

Their impeccable strike logic was to accept commuters on board and then leave them stranded on the highway.
Perhaps bus drivers have the right to complain but what they did was a disgrace. You simply do not cut the road for people to go to their work, class, etc, just so you prove a point. You don’t let people on your bus and then tell them that you’ve decided to join the strike so go do your thing on a highway.
What’s worse is I’m sure they knew they were going to do this to the commuters but they did it anyway. I saw women carrying their children and walking on the highway. Men turned to hitchhikers.
This is not acceptable.

Update: My medical school colleagues were threatened if they attempted to go to class. “University is useless. You try to go, we kill you,” they were told.







My class is half empty and even army men were dumped on the road. Yes, they sure got me very sympathized with their cause.