Is it Possible For Hezbollah to Trade Its Weapons?

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In an unsigned article, Al-Akhbar reported yesterday that Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah told his cadres in a private gathering that the Party of God “has changed” and that its ultimate priority is to “protect Lebanon”, which is different to the 1980s priority of establishing an Islamic state. He also emphasised that they “must work to apply it”.

We can interpret these words in many ways, but let’s rewind to a previous 2004 statement by Mohammad Raad made to the writer Nicholas Blanford who recorded it in his book Killing Mr Lebanon. Although some anti-imperialist writers unjustifyingly discredit Blanford for being politically biased to Hariri, the book did show how Rafiq Hariri used his money to achieve political objectives i.e. what we call corruption. So page 190 says:

Raad hinted that the party could one day trade the Islamic Resistance for greater political influence, in which Hezbollah would capitalise in the numerical superiority of the Shiites.

When Raad was asked if the presidency should still then be reserved for the Maronites, he replied with a sly smile. Quite funny when the Maronites are on a totally different wavelength these days, with their main leaders asking to “correct the injustice” against their sect/Christians in the electoral law.

Are we near the time when Hezbollah trades his weapons with agreed privileges in a new state? Knowing they previously received generous financial offers but they declined them?

Should the Maronites stop asking for more like the current Orthodox Law proposal and come to terms with the hard reality that other powerful sects presumably look with envy to the top state position, top army position and biggest share of MPs in the parliament?

I think it’s a matter of time for these “corrections” to be raised, although now could seem a suitable time for Hezbollah to start the process with the electoral law currently being cooked.

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Why a Government $25,000 Monthly Salary Could be Acceptable in Lebanon

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So what is an acceptable salary for a government or government-affialted employee in a country where the minimum wage is less $600 per month? I suppose the answer is not an easy, especially if the job differs massively from a role to another.

This issue was strongly brought up last week in the media with the big salaries allowed to the members of the newly formed petroleum committee in Lebanon. Minister Gibran Bassil wanted to pay them $25,000/m as a total package, but the cabinet reduced that to nearly $17,000 with a 17% allowance on top for not taking any employment at the end of contract (paid in two instalments at the mid and end of the employment). The approved compensation includes a $2,000 housing allowance.
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2015 Will Be The Lebanese Year For Oil & Gas Exploration

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At last, some movement is being recorded on the front of the exploration of oil and gas in Lebanon according to Assafir, who said that in the cabinet will approve the tendering timeline in its next meeting on Thursday.

Better late than never; we will keep a close eye on the progress, the but timeline is looking like this:

1- January 2013: start of the pre-qualification period for the interested companies
2- May 2013: start of the tendering period for the shortlisted qualified companies
3- December 2013: deadline for submittal of tenders
4- February 2014: announcement of winning tender after evaluation
5- May 2014: sign the contract after a period of negotiations
6- Some time in 2015: start of exploration works

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Gangnam Style: One Billion Views and The Decline of the Mainstream Media

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Slightly away from politics this time, but not far from the media. I couldn’t get away from the fact a non-English YouTube video has just crossed one billion views and became the most watched online video ever. You probably guessed, it’s the Gangnam Style by Psy.

One billion views for a video supposed to be satirising the posh style of some area in South Korea is a massive number, considering the world online population is 2.4 billion. Unbelievable times we live in. A time when you don’t need to be first featured on the mainstream media (MSM) to be famous or talked about. You don’t need to speak English or originate from the west. You even can have some anti-American past like Psy. The video is unbelievably silly but cool. Lots of colours and moves with moving rhythms. I personally liked the kid at its first part.

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The Washington Post Explains to Angry Jewish Readers It’s Truthful to Show Palestinians Die

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The photo of the Palestinian BBC journalist Jihad Masharawi holding his 11-month-old son’s body has gained big exposure at the start of the Israeli war on Gaza ten days ago. It featured on the front page of the Washington Post among other press and media outlets on 14th and 15th November 2012.

But some Jewish and American groups, of course, saw it differently when they protested by writing to the ombudsman and to Post editors that the photo was “biased”.

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Credit to “NOW Lebanon” That is Changing to The Better

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Lebanese twitterverse and blogosphere have rightly highlighted yesterday what it seemed an act of censorship by the traditionally pro-Hariri NOW Lebanon website. The unfortunate incident resulted with an anti-Hariri English editorial been taken down shortly after publication.

But to loudly shout ‘censorship’ and just stop, doesn’t give describe the full picture, and give much justice to the website that is trying to change. It is, actually, changing towards more balanced and professional reporting.

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Nicholas Sehnaoui Syphons Our Money Off…to Israel

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You probably heard couple of weeks ago how our Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui brought the future to our students (according to him), by planning to provide them with computer tablets. A deal, done with Intel Corporation Vice President for Sales and Marketing Group, comprised supplying the Intel product which could be powered by an operating system called MANDRIVA (you probably haven’t heard of it).

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Barack Obama Steals Our Lebanese Hummous Too

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Barack Obama can stand for the presidency of Israel if he wishes. He can also compete to be their loyal gatekeeper, but he can’t…steal our food for that purpose. Never.

Yes, our food! It’s even more outrageous he came near our beloved Hummus, ignoring our regional Hummous war.

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Lebanon Spring Blog Featured in Annahar

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Today Lebanon Spring blog has been featured in the Lebanese daily Annahar.  You can check Reine Abu Moussa’s post on this blog here. So thanks to her.

Also, I have an article in Arabic that was published with a title “Muddling The Arab Spring”. I plan to publish an English translation of it, but you can check the current Annahar version here.

Is This The ‘Government of Assassination’?

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Fouad Siniora:

The Lebanese people won’t accept, after today, the continuation of the government of assassination

In a half-civilised country, if a cat was killed in the same way as Wissam Al-Hassan was killed, a government or at least a minister would resign. So no question what should happen when a security chief gets bombed.

But let’s be honest here, Lebanon is an abnormal farm that makes such a move a high-risk venture with unknown consequences. At its best, we could be looking at political vacuum. At its worst, we are taking about sectarian civil war here. And this message was clearly passed on by the US and EU that they don’t mind this Hezbollah-controlled government to keep going.

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Wissam Al-Hassan Joins The Assassination Saga

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Here we go again. Another Lebanese national figure and innocent people are wasted. Together with reportedly eight others, the head of the Information Branch in the Internal Security Forces (police) in Lebanon Wissam Al-Hassan have been assassinated yesterday in a street bomb in Achrafieh in Beirut.

Early on, I warned and speculated that Saad Hariri could pay a high price for his leading involvement in Syria, and it may now be the payback time. And I feel we are just at the start of something bigger.

Sadly we got used to this terrorist method of political elimination since 2004. This is the 26th political explosion since then, with most ending as assassinations. Ten of these 26 explosions targeted anti-Syrian regime figures, two targeted Information Branch figures (anti-Syrian regime), other ten targeted areas largely known to be Christian, three targeted the Lebanese Army including a military chief, and one explosion targeted a non-leading but senior official in a pro-Syrian party.

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To Drone or Not to Drone

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When Benjamin Netanyahu called for an enforcement of a red line in regards to Iran’s nuclear project, he didn’t think the line could be as close to him as 25km, or indeed this close to Dimona nuclear site. The downing of the unidentified drone over Israel last Saturday marked that red line. It occurred less than two weeks after Iran’s announcement of the deployment of a domestic-built reconnaissance drone with a 24-hour flight capability.

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Can You Sleep Like These Beirut Construction Workers?

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I deeply thank Habib Battah for his blog post on The Beirut Report for highlighting an example of the bad conditions under which construction workers (foreign most of the time) live in Lebanon. Construction in general is a subject close to my heart, and “health and safety” is a main aspect of delivering construction projects, considering this industry is statistically one of the most dangerous in terms of accidents and casualties numbers (relative to other office and non-office jobs).

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Did You Say Tishreen Liberation War?

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The Syrian regime and its media always make sure they supply us with the most bizarre scenes, and they are surely doing it today on 6th October.

Today is the 39th anniversary of the ‘Tishreen liberation war’ or the 1973 October war between Syria and Egypt on one side, and Israel on the other. Syrian state today is celebrating the victory of this liberation war.

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Let’s Welcome The Salafists to Politics

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A new addition is expected to the Lebanese political scene, which would seriously contribute to its contrasting colourfulness. Apparently, Lebanese Salafists are looking to establish a political party to participate in the 2013 electoral elections and the beyond scene.

This could a bit advanced for them considering they don’t usually recognise post-Caliphates states, so some internal rifts within their movement is possible.

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The Details of The Conversation Between The Lebanese President And The Iranian Ambassador

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A few conversations took place yesterday between the Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar (Ghadanfar) Roknabadi. It started with a phone call…

(ring ring ring, ring ring ring, ring ring ring…)

Ghadanfar: errr…hello

Michel: oh thanks for picking up, at last.

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The Right Response to The Anti-Islam Movie

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I didn’t intend to comment on that anti-Islam and anti-Prophet movie originated somewhere in California, but seeing the reaction it caused makes it difficult for me not to be involved. The movie caused some strong reactions across most Arab and Muslim countries including some violent ones in the newly established Arab Spring countries like Egypt and Libya.

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Lebanese Forces Show Their Comfort Zone in Public

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It was not long time ago when I declared the death of the political peaceful argument of March 14. Now, I can ‘safely’ declare the near-completion of their combating formations. All what you need to do to know this, is to watch the festival that took place yesterday by the Lebanese Forces in commemoration of the 30th anniversary election of Bashir Gemayel as a President.

I was gobsmacked to watch a ‘Lebanese Resistance Anthems Concert’ (on MTV) glorifying the military past of the Lebanese Forces and Bashir Gemayel – after all their current talk about the peaceful resistance and building the state. Although it didn’t look very odd with the current chaotic mood and high sectarian tensions in the country. It did actually blend well in that scene…

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Which Lebanese Celebrities Are Buying Their Twitter Followers?

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Who doesn’t want more followers on twitter? Every one should want more of them, especially if they are reasonably active on twitter. It’s nice to know that people want to listen to what you have to say; it massages your ego and makes you feel important when you are not a celebrity. So if you are a normal person, you usually work hard to earn followers.

But what if the tweeter (barely) is a celebrity? They cheat. Yes, cheat. Who has time really to work hard to earn these followers? Some just buy twitter followers. Not that they won’t have good number of them anyway, but they always want more, more and more of them. It makes them feel more privileged and gives them some sort of prestige – against each other.

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Not These Kidnapping Festivals Again!

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The crazy kidnapping spree that took place this week and still ongoing is scary on all levels. It’s what a country like Lebanon needs to take back its glories. And I tell you that I never felt like that in recent history. It’s easy to blame the government, which I did, but let’s be realistic here. Two parties are responsible, Hezbollah which legislated this state of lawlessness, and Free Syrian Army which has given Al-Mokdad family the unnecessary spark.

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The New Conflict Coordinator to Syria, Al-Akhdar Al-Ibrahimi

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As the Syrian revolution turned violent, comparisons of the situation there have been made to every possible recent regional conflict. The Syrian conflict has gained some sectarian momentum which guaranteed its resemblance – according to many analysts (to different degrees) – to the Iraqi, Lebanese or former Yugoslavian conflicts.

Now, for us the Lebanese, we can very much relate to the sequence of events in Syria. It’s déjà vu for us. We can tell what comes after bombings for example; kidnappings, revenge killings, sectarian mobilisation, rise of local warlords are always on the menu. Continue reading

So Who is Winning From Proportional Representation?

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The Lebanese government has passed a new draft law electoral law based on Proportional Representation (PR) yesterday, in which it divides Lebanon into 13 districts. The new draft law will have to be debated and passed by the parliament, which could make it also a totally different animal by then.

In a previous post, I concluded that Hezbollah and its M8 alliance will be the main winners from PR if Lebanon was adopted as one district. Now, the cabinet is proposing 13 districts, which could mitigate Hezbollah’s influence, but overall, they are still winning from such a proposal. Which is why Hariri and March 14 are quite vocal against PR, although I am not sure what they really want instead of it!

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What should We Do With Beirut Airport Road Blocking?

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Ok, so the airport road was closed again yesterday in Beirut, and reopened this morning. If there are signs of impotency of the Lebanese government, surely its helpless watching of this chaos is one of them (too many signs to list here). If the government can’t impose the rule of law and ensure the safety of its citizens, may be at least it needs to regulate that chaos.

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A Golden Age of Achievements For The Lebanese Government

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That was me, but more than one year ago:

Soon, they (the government) won’t be able to blame the previous Hariri policies, and as time progresses, their argument against the previous Hariri policies will weaken. They are in charge now, and responsible for steering the economy, cleaning up the state and politics from corruption. It goes without saying that the new lineup could ultimately end up in an explosive manner.

I must admit, I didn’t expect the government to be that bad, and the country to be falling apart as it is now. The government was supposed to contain political parties that defend the ‘vulnerables’, ‘deprived’, ‘socialism’ as featured by their names, or just do ‘Reform and Change’!

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