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Author Topic: The Lebanese Opposition
al-Qa'bong
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posted 06 March 2005 06:53 PM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/

quote:
Who Speaks for Lebanon?
There was yet another front page article in the New York Times, with yet another picture of demonstrators in Lebanon. When Chou En-lai was asked by Henri Kissinger in the 1970s about his impressions of the French Revolution, he famously answered "it is too soon to tell." Yet, US newspapers are so eager and so desperate to superficially cover Middle East events to "validate" Bush's wars and arguments. This is why the pictures from Lebanon were so convenient for them.

Do you know that in one event of `Ashurah in Beirut in February during the Hummus demonstrations in Beirut, Hizbullah assembled a crowd (estimated at around half a million people) larger than the crowds of the opposition for the whole week. I did not see one picture of them in US media, and the suffocatingly one-sided Saudi media (and like Bin Laden--the graduate of the House of Saud's school of fanaticism--they think that Shi`ites are infidels) also did not cover them.

On Tuesday, the parties that are opposed to the opposition and are aligned with Syria (and they include some Syrian puppets--like the pro-Syrian Ba`th party in Lebanon--and some groups with popular bases, like Hizbullah, Al-Maradah, and SSNP among others, are planning demonstrations in Beirut against UNSC 1559. Do you think that the New York Times will cover them? Do you think that Hassan Fattah will be dispatched to talk to them? Do you think that their pictures will appear on the front pages of New York Times and Washington Post?

You see: US media can only cover popular movements if they are not opposed to US policies and designs in the region. And if they dare demonstrate against Israel, they will never be covered, or they will be branded as "terrorists" (or "anti-Israel terrorists", to quote the language of Hassan Fattah).

No one side speaks for Lebanon. Lebanese have always been, and WILL ALWAYS BE, divided. Always. That is the nature of the Lebanese conflict. They are flying the Lebanese flags because they want to artificially camouflage their real sectarian and ideological identities. But Bush has decided that the Maronite Patriarch, who was beaten up by `Awn's thugs in Beirut in 1990, speaks for all the Lebanese.

I was told by Muslim Sunni sources in Beirut that Sunni public opinion is increasingly unhappy with Maronite right-wing hijacking of the movement that came out from the outrage at Hariri's assassination. They also have never been fans of the continuously shifting Walid Jumblat.

I read the full text of the very long speech of Bashshar Al-Asad last night. The American cliche applies: too little, too late. That speech should have been made long before US pressures. Now it will be seen as insincere and motivated by Syrian desires to avoid pressures and isolation. He also should have addressed the Lebanese people more extensively, and his reference to Hariri's assassination was not sufficient in my opinion.

He also should have said something about the Lebanese abuse of poor Syrian workers in Lebanon. He should have said that Syria does not object to an international investigation (assuming that the Syrian government has nothing to do with the assassination) of the Hariri assassination. A Lebanese-Syrian investigation will never satisfy anybody and will not reach conclusions. It may even blame Hariri's death on dangerously high levels of cholesterol.

And most repugnant in this mess in Lebanon, are statements by Israeli leaders. The Israeli prime minister, who can not visit many European capitals for fears of war crime charges, dares to speak about the need for Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. The head of the government that has occupied Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian, and Jordanian lands is the last government to speak.

You read those statements and get the need to take a very hot shower, using a very rough lufa.


[ 06 March 2005: Message edited (The Angry Arab eschews the paragraph) by: al-Qa'bong ]


From: Saskatchistan | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Coyote
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posted 07 March 2005 01:22 PM      Profile for Coyote   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Uri Avnery has a great article on Counterpunch with starts with Lebanon and then moves on to Israeli/American imperialism throughout the ME.

The Next Crusades:

quote:
It is easy to ignite a civil war, whether out of fanaticism or out of intolerable naivete. George Bush, the (not-so-) Quiet American, runs around the world hawking his patent medicines, "freedom" and "democracy", in total ignorance of hundreds of years of history. Hard to believe, but he draws his inspiration from a book by our own Nathan Sharansky, a very small genius, to say the least.

Every human being and every people has a right to freedom. Many of us have shed their blood for this aim. Democracy is an ideal that every people has to realize for itself. But when the banners of "freedom" and "democracy" are hoisted over a crusade by an avaricious and irresponsible super-power, the results can be catastrophic.



From: O’ for a good life, we just might have to weaken. | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
al-Qa'bong
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posted 07 March 2005 11:06 PM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
On the critical matter of who they hold responsible for the assassination, there is a deep division. About one-half of Maronites and Druze feel that either Lebanese or Syrian authorities were involved. On the other hand, only 14% of Shi'a Lebanese point their accusing finger in that direction, while more than 70% claim that either Israel or the United States were involved. Hariri's own Sunni community and Orthodox Christians are divided, with equal numbers pointing to Syria/Lebanon and US/Israel as the suspected culprit.

This may be where the division begins, but it extends into other areas as well. For example, while almost two in five Maronites and Druze believe that the assassination will lead to a Syrian withdrawal, only 7% of Shi'a agree. Almost 60% of Shi'a, on the other hand, now worry that in the wake of this assassination measures will be taken that will result in a deterioration of the Lebanese security situation, an attitude shared by only about 15% of Maronites and Druze.

How best now to proceed with securing Lebanon? Only Maronites see a Syrian withdrawal as key with one-half agreeing with this as the solution. About one-third of Shia and Sunnis and less than one-fourth of Orthodox agree. Many Lebanese, in particular Orthodox, Sunni, and Shia, see the solution to Lebanon's security in "reinforcement and deployment of the Lebanese army and security forces all over Lebanon." And while 60% of Druze see the disarming of Lebanon's militias as necessary for the country's future, only about one in seven Maronites, Orthodox, and Sunni agree. Not surprisingly, only 5% of Shia agree, since the "disarming" provision of UNSC 1559 specifically has Hizbollah in mind.


Lebanon, as Complex as Ever


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RookieActivist
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posted 08 March 2005 01:05 AM      Profile for RookieActivist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Responding to the first article:

So the US media outlets have shown no pictures of this half-million man march?

But he hasn't posted a photo either. At least the corporate media has an excuse, what's his?


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RookieActivist
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posted 08 March 2005 01:06 AM      Profile for RookieActivist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Oh by the way I am not Mishei.
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al-Qa'bong
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posted 08 March 2005 02:24 AM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Ask him yourself.


AAbukhalil@csustan.edu


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Blind_Patriot
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posted 08 March 2005 01:42 PM      Profile for Blind_Patriot     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by RookieActivist:
Responding to the first article:

So the US media outlets have shown no pictures of this half-million man march?

But he hasn't posted a photo either. At least the corporate media has an excuse, what's his?


If I may...



[ 08 March 2005: Message edited by: Blind_Patriot ]


From: North Of The Authoritarian Regime | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
Stockholm
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posted 08 March 2005 02:43 PM      Profile for Stockholm     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I have a question for anyone who knows a lot about Lebanese politics and history:

What do rightwing and leftwing mean in the context of Lebanon. For example, we often see the term "rightwing Maronite Christians". What exactly is rightwing about them? Is it that Hizbollah supports a single tier public health care system while the Maronites wants more of a for profit system? Do the Maronite leaders read a lot of Milton Friedman, while the Shi-ites are more partial to John Maynard Keynes??


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Blind_Patriot
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posted 08 March 2005 04:04 PM      Profile for Blind_Patriot     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Lebanon has a blend of religions and each one has their own right-winge minorities who's only motivation is religious surpremacy. It is so fragile, that these right-winger can draw in the moderates from all sides and break into a civil war.
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CMOT Dibbler
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posted 08 March 2005 06:25 PM      Profile for CMOT Dibbler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I have a question. In the Lebanese democracy thread that I started awhile back, somebody said that many Lebanese don't want the Syrian government making decisions about what happens in the country. They said that many Lebanese newspapers have said awful things about the Asad régime.
If this is the case, why should we be suspicious of these protests and the motives behind them? isn't it possible that the Lebanese themselves actually united without Americans support and that what we are witnessing is actually the will the majority of Lebanese citizens?

So many leftists think that the CIA are involved, I'm just curious as to why.
This question has probably been answered in other posts in this thread, but could Al, Wingy and the rest tell me why they believe this anti Syia movement was the idea of An American G Man?
If you could provide me with a summary of your arguments it would be most helpful.


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al-Qa'bong
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posted 08 March 2005 10:50 PM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
isn't it possible that the Lebanese themselves actually united without Americans support and that what we are witnessing is actually the will the majority of Lebanese citizens?

The people waving those new Lebanese flags aren't the majority, if the numbers I posted above are correct. Moreover, Hizb'Allah, which favours Syria's presence in Lebanon, has the majority support, according to some sources.

Hundreds of thousands of flag-waving Lebanese flooded central Beirut Tuesday for a pro-Syrian rally called by Hizbollah that dwarfed previous Lebanese protests demanding that Syrian troops quit Lebanon.

And as has been said so often during our discussions about this matter, the Lebanese are by no means united.


From: Saskatchistan | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
al-Qa'bong
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posted 10 March 2005 01:08 AM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The "cedar" revolution now has a larger dimension, one that does not necessarily favour America's plans. If the Shia of Iraq can be painted as defenders of democracy, the Shias of Lebanon cannot be portrayed as the defenders of "terrorism". So what does Washington make of yesterday's extraordinary events in Beirut?

quote:
Syria is run by a clique of Alawis - who are Shia - and Iraq is now dominated by Shia Muslims who voted themselves into power, and Iran is a Shia nation. So when President Bush said "the Lebanese people have the right to determine their future free from domination of a foreign power", the power the Shias were thinking of was not Syria but the United States and Israel.

...

So what did all this prove? That there was another voice in Lebanon. That if the Lebanese "opposition" - pro-Hariri and increasingly Christian - claim to speak for Lebanon and enjoy the support of President Bush, there is a pro-Syrian, nationalist voice which does not go along with their anti-Syrian demands but which has identified what it believes is the true reason for Washington's support for Lebanon: Israel's plans for the Middle East.


[ 10 March 2005: Message edited by: al-Qa'bong ]


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Coyote
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posted 10 March 2005 01:43 PM      Profile for Coyote   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Continuing on the broader themes emerging in this thread, re: Israeli-American imperialism in the ME and the myth of "democratization":


Meron Benvenisti: A Thrilling Epic of Freedom

quote:
The Israelis, who are excited about the "winds of freedom," are well aware that the demand to link peace with democratization is an act of hypocrisy that was invented only in order to undermine any real step toward peace. As long as the occupation and the oppression of the Palestinian people continue, democratization in Arab countries will lead to a distancing of peace, as can be seen from public reactions in Egypt and Jordan. But the Israeli fans of the Bush doctrine, who are welcoming the harbingers of Arab freedom, don't consider the continued denial of freedom for the Palestinians an act that contradicts their commitment to democracy. They see the policy of the United States in its aggressive context: Pax Americana enables them to maintain the status quo according to the parameters of the Bush-Sharon understandings, which determined the borders of the Palestinians state of cantons and the areas where it will govern.

- Haaretz

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al-Qa'bong
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posted 10 March 2005 10:51 PM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I've been trying to get through to the Hizb'Allah TV station, Al-Manar, for about a week now, but their site is under construction.

The old site was kind of clunky, and the technical side of its news broadcasts could have been smoother, so maybe they are upgrading to cope with a new interest in what they have to say.


From: Saskatchistan | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
al-Qa'bong
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posted 11 March 2005 01:38 AM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
It is not democracy that's on the march in the Middle East

quote:
What the US campaign is clearly not about is the promotion of democracy in either Lebanon or Syria, where the most plausible alternative to the Assad regime are radical Islamists. In a pronouncement which defies satire, Bush insisted on Tuesday that Syria must withdraw from Lebanon before elections due in May "for those elections to be free and fair".

Why the same point does not apply to elections held in occupied Iraq - where the US has 140,000 troops patrolling the streets, compared with 14,000 Syrian soldiers in the Lebanon mountains - or in occupied Palestine, for that matter, is unexplained.

And why a UN resolution calling for Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon has to be complied with immediately, while those demanding an Israeli pullout from Palestinian and Syrian territory can be safely ignored for 38 years, is apparently unworthy of comment.



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liminal
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posted 11 March 2005 09:51 PM      Profile for liminal        Edit/Delete Post
Fantastic and insightful article

quote:
Second, some of the leaders of this "insurrection" are power players who held no grievance towards Syrian tutelage while they profited from it. Many of those promoting this free and democratic revolution are the same autocratic warlords who tore the country apart 15 years ago and have been undemocratically jousting for power ever since.

Third, the opposition has not offered any programme of reform of corrupt institutions or platform for a new beginning.Fourth, freedom of expression and democratic practices were not suddenly born with Hariri's assassination. Lebanon's media is one of the freest in the Middle East, and its consensual democratic system has been in place for decades.



quote:
Hariri's assassination and current events in Lebanon have breached Syrian hegemony. France is struggling to regain a foothold in the region. Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and Egypt, see an opportunity to enhance their regional role at the expense of Syria's. The US sees the events as an opportunity to further pressure Syria - whose help it needs to pacify Iraq - to toe its line.

quote:
Neither the Iraqi elections nor Bush's phenomenal use of the word "freedom" led to the dramatic events in Lebanon. The assassination was not only the spark, but also the main motor behind the demonstrations. Current developments must be seen in the light of opportunistic exploitation by local, regional and international players rather than as a "democratic revolution".

[ 11 March 2005: Message edited by: liminal ]


From: the hole I just crawled out of | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
al-Qa'bong
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posted 14 March 2005 01:40 AM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
The opposition is living under an illusion if it considers itself a spokesman for Lebanon,' Mustapha Haj Ali, head of Hizbollah's political analysis committee and a member of its politburo, told The Observer last week.

'It is a forgery and that is why we called last week's demonstration. We wanted to show that the 'opposition' is not the real - or rather the only voice.


quote:
In its power bases in the south and in the Bekaa Valley, Hizbollah is more than its armed wing, more too than the money that Israel and the US say it funnels to other groups. In Shia areas Hizbollah is an integral part of a society that comprises perhaps 40 per cent of Lebanese, pouring vast sums of money into the poorest sections of society from an income derived from its own fund raising and from charitable foundations from its ally Iran.

It wields economic power too, controlling enterprises from real estate development to travel agencies. And with those funds it keeps around 60,000 people - largely in a south deprived of long-term investment - on a payroll from which full-time fighters and administrators can earn $300-$600 a month.

It is a relationship starkly in evidence on the drive through the Bekaa Valley where Hizbollah's flags line every street, and where every other shop boasts collection boxes for its 'charitable' wing.

In these towns people appear happy to pay Hizbollah's voluntary tithe of one fifth of income in return for the knowledge that it keeps Israel at bay.

Hussein Hashoosh's baker's shop in Chtaura boasts a Hizbollah calendar and collecting box. Hashoosh, aged 65, says that he gives around $100 a month to Hizbollah. With a family home in Nabatiyeh, nine miles from the Israeli border, Hashoosh says what many of those who attended Tuesday's rally say: that he is afraid Lebanon will no longer be safe if Hizbollah is disarmed.


The Observer


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RookieActivist
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posted 14 March 2005 05:18 PM      Profile for RookieActivist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post

Millions march against Syria


From: me to you | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 14 March 2005 06:01 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Thanks, liminal.

quote:
Bogged down in Iraq, the US does not yet seem to want regime change in Syria. US interests lie in a docile Syrian regime. Until the time is ripe, Syrian influence must be contained, away from the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian agenda. And if the US neocons harbour designs against Iran, then securing the northern Israeli border by neutralising Hizbullah is a must.

Arab sensitivities are also at play. With an Alawi minority ruling the Sunni majority in Syria, Hariri's assassination is perceived by many as part of a plot to shrink Sunni influences in the region (from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon), and is fuelling Sunni-centrism in the area.

Syrian mismanagement of the Lebanese portfolio had been building up to a critical mass that only needed a detonator to explode. Neither the Iraqi elections nor Bush's phenomenal use of the word "freedom" led to the dramatic events in Lebanon. The assassination was not only the spark, but also the main motor behind the demonstrations. Current developments must be seen in the light of opportunistic exploitation by local, regional and international players rather than as a "democratic revolution".


God bless Lebanon. I fear for us all.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
al-Qa'bong
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posted 14 March 2005 08:25 PM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
You might want to reconsider your caption there, RookieActivist.

The BBC site to which you linked had images from both the Hizb'Allah rallies and from groups whose rallies were dwarfed by those of Hizb'Allah.

The image you have posted is probably of a Hizb'Allah rally.

In any case, few observers have made the claim that even the massive Hizb'Allah rally in Beirut involved more than a million participants.

The title of a link on this page, Annan: UN has to accept Hezbollah, claims that the Hizb'Allah rally drew 1.5 million supporters

[ 14 March 2005: Message edited by: al-Qa'bong ]


From: Saskatchistan | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
liminal
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posted 14 March 2005 10:36 PM      Profile for liminal        Edit/Delete Post
Al-Q:
No, these pictures are of the demonstration the so called opposition called for today to mark the 1 month anniversary of the assassination Rafik al-Hareeri. Its numbers surpassed that of Hizbollah's last Tuesday, which in its turn surpassed previous demonstartions by the so called opposition. See, par to the course of using people as statistics, there has been rigorous moblization in Lebanon to ensure more turnout for the demonstartion of each party. There seems to be a conviction that the size of the crowd wins the political battle for you. Of course, normally, this can be settled by recourse to the proper democratic means through the parliamentary elections (and the subsequent government) in May, but for many in Lebanon, why bother practice democracy when they can preach it gratuitously?

There is a stench coming out of the Lebanese scenario. Sectarian warlords and mafia dons who massacred thousands and lined their pockets infest the political class, in the pro-government forces as much as in the so called opposition, but what makes the latter worse, in my opinion, is that most of its chiefs (not all, but the overwhelming majority) were docile Syrian puppets until 2004. True to their opportunistic nature, they sensed a shift in the regional power balance stipulating a weakening in Syrian hegemony, so they jumped to the winning carriage driven by the US and France. Now, they have donned a holier-than-though patriotism, and started attacking the Syrian regime, when until 2004, they served blindly, profiting from it and plundering the country. They want to go on plundering under the auspices of France and the US.

Add to that, in the context of the region, there has been a subtle campaign of villification and incitement against Shiite Muslims. Not that there is anything new about the class bigotry they have always faced from the rest of the sect-tribes (like being called sheep by the editor of the most prominent Lebanese newspaper for participating in the pro-government rally, or being classified as a mere quantity by the member of the so called opposition, the Phalangist Pierre Gemayel, MP, vis-a-vis the quality, meaning all the other sect-tribes) but now they are dubbed as the sect outside national unity. This subtle, yet persistent incitement is laden with sinister intentions that are most probably planning a civil war between the Shiites and their counterparts, comparable to the pervasiveness of animosity between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq. (does anyone remember Iraq? All I hear about these days are Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds, not Iraqis)

On Rafik Hareeri, whose assassination has taken Lebanon by storm. He is now portrayed in the Arab and international media as a stalwart advocate of freedom, democracy, independence, and non-sectarianism in Lebanon. To buy into this propaganda, you have to turn a blind eye to his record in office, from banning public demostrations in 1993 (only to be revoked by the government of Dr. Salim Hoss in 1998 in his government's first meeting), to banning political shows on Lebanese TVs in 1994 (only to be revoked by pressure from Lebanese reporters a few months later), to closing down independent TV stations in 1995 on the premise that they need to get lisenced, only to redistribute these lisences among government factions, while depriving the dissenters of the same opportunities (All the TV stations that were shut down by Hareeri were liscenced in 1999 by the government of Dr. Hoss), to breaking down workers' unions, even, for the first time in the history of Lebanon, issuing a curfew on the planned day of the unions' demonstration (illegal of course, since he banned that in 1993. Silly them), decreeing that anyone found indoors would be arrested. This is not to talk about the shady business deals and the rampant corruption, profitting from the recontruction of the war-torn Lebanon, and amassing a debt of $40 billion (from almost null in 1992) whose balance sheets remain contested at best.

And this non-sectarian saint has won the 2000 elections by sect incitement, arousing Sunni Muslim pride, and pitting most of them against the prime minister at the time, Salim Hoss, on the premise that Hoss was weakening the Sunni power share in Lebanon, and that Hoss was comprimising Sunnis by not giving them special treatment. As many would say at the time: "Damn Hoss, he doesn't work for his own sect (Sunni), but treats us as he would treat a Shiite or a Maronite. We don't want a prime minister to work for everyone, but someone who would work for our sect"). About 2 years ago, Hareeri accused the Christians of being responsible for Lebanon's financial crisis because they were not investing their money(Their fault, not his, he, who presided for years, and built up an astronomical debt that sucked Lebanon's resources dry). Last year, he tried to stealthily pass a bill in the council of ministers that would join Lebanon to some sort of an Islamic UNESCO, whose chief premise require that Islamic culture and Islamic curricula be the official Lebanese culture and Lebanese curricula.

All that, without mentioning his loyalties to the Saudi regime, and his docility to the Syrian hegemony for the past 12 years.

But for the Lebanese, all this is irrelevant.


From: the hole I just crawled out of | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
RookieActivist
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posted 15 March 2005 01:44 PM      Profile for RookieActivist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
What he said.
From: me to you | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 15 March 2005 03:29 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Thanks Liminal.
From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 15 March 2005 03:33 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Keep writing, liminal.
From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Coyote
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posted 15 March 2005 06:11 PM      Profile for Coyote   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Um, liminal, please tell me you're published. If not, talk to Sharon and write something on this for rabble, how about?
From: O’ for a good life, we just might have to weaken. | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged

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