Category Archives: English

Lebanon’s Gray Society: breaking the traditional fault lines of Lebanese politics?

Commentary by Tamer Mallat – 6 September 2015

Image courtesy N. Mabsout

Image courtesy N. Mabsout

Lebanon’s micro-uprising has been remarkable in many ways. At first, the “You Stink” movement began as one of modest proportions, interested in the resolution of the extant waste management impasse. Unreasonable repression and governmental indifference, however, unearthed a shared sense of contempt towards a political class deemed by many as corrupt and unable to lead. The movement grew, and with it a debate resounded in Lebanon and abroad. Discussions quickly turned to the workings of our political system and of its sinister dynamics. For some, these protests represent the birth of a Lebanese third way, led by a generation that no longer identifies with the March 14 or March 8 coalitions. The momentum appears to be growing, and yet, the fortress of Lebanese gerontocracy holds steadfast. Notwithstanding institutional resistance, something has changed. This new societal dynamic, while remaining intrinsically rooted in the idiosyncratic nature of the Lebanese political system, may represent a shift of systemic dimensions. Continue reading

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Beirut Protests: This Is Not a Class Struggle

Commentary by Muhannad Hariri – 28 August 2015

You Stink Beirut Trash ProtestsLast weekend Beirut witnessed one of its largest independent protests over two consecutive days. These came at the end of a string of steadily growing demonstrations‎ organized by the #YouStink movement, an independent collective that began by demanding an ecologically responsible solution to the current Lebanese trash crisis. Centering on the issue of garbage disposal ensured that the group received widespread support and legitimacy, eventually ensuring massive participation at their first major rally last Saturday August 22nd. To be sure, by that point many other, predominantly left-wing groups had joined in and the stage was set for widespread civil intervention. But with the inclusion of so disparate a collection of Lebanese citizens, it was only a matter of time before garbage took its place beside many other pressing issues that naturally came to the fore. Continue reading

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Hariri and I, February 14, 2005 and the memories of a Beiruti adolescent

Tamer Mallat – 14 February 2015

Beirut_cornicheThere I was, the odd and insufferable teenager, waltzing my way – rather awkwardly, and certainly with no sense of elegance – through life, and more precisely, through the seemingly oppressive routine of every child’s inevitable trajectory: school. I was ugly and emaciated. My hair was long, and I believed myself to be some sort of messiah on his way of fulfilling an obscure and prophetic destiny. The future was predictably prosperous, meaningful. Of course, an ominous atmosphere in Beirut remained prevalent, even for me. Even so, an insufferable teenager – that was what I still was. Certainly aloof, chasing girls. But never entirely so. For I grew up in post-war Beirut. It was February 14, the year 2005. Valentine’s day, and I had no date. I was sitting in history class, in a room with a beautiful view of the Mediterranean.  Continue reading

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Jihad at a Crossroad: Jabhat al Nusra’s Identity Crisis

Commentary by Wajdi Mallat – 5 August 2014

Source: globalpost.com

Source: globalpost.com

When the Islamic State blitzed through Iraq and took Mosul and much of western Iraq, it brought global attention to the schism that jihad has undergone over the past year: Al Qaeda was longer at the forefront of extremist Sunni groups. As global media frantically pushed the narrative that ISIS (or ISIL or IS now) was an offshoot of Al Qaeda that was deemed too extremist for Bin Laden’s successor al-Zawahiri, it cited the differing strategy that the Islamic State and Jabhat al Nusra – the al Qaeda group in Syria – would utilize.  Continue reading

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Has the European Union finally turned into an influential actor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Commentary by Romana Michelon and Bart Hesseling – 18 January 2014

A Palestinian flag flies in front of a settlement known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim (Ammar Awad/Reuters)

A Palestinian flag flies in front of a settlement known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim (Ammar Awad/Reuters)

The European Union’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long emphasized Israel’s right to security but need to end its occupation, and the Palestinians’ right to self-determination but need to renounce terrorism. This past summer, newly-released EU guidelines on Israeli entities operating in the occupied Palestinian Territories shook this well-rehearsed mantra to its core. Preceded by the February appeal from the EU’s Heads of Mission in Jerusalem to take concrete measures against the occupation of Palestine, the Union decided to attach negative economic consequences to the continuation of Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise. Continue reading

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The Prince and the Pouvoir: Saudi Arabia and Algeria facing an uncertain future

Commentary by Faisal Abulhassan – 13 December 2013

Saudi King Faisal and Algerian President Houari Boumédienne. Source : Algeria Philately

Saudi King Faisal and Algerian President Houari Boumédienne. Source : Algeria Philately

Over the years, much has been written about the weakness of the nation-state in the Arab world. Sectarian strife and uprisings across the Arab world have only highlighted these fragile governing structures. Some have argued that the monarchies of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have avoided being caught up in the turmoil due to the historic legitimizing role that monarchs play there. Other reasons, ignoring comparisons, were forwarded to explain the lack of large-scale revolutionary movements in the republics of Algeria, Iraq, Mauritania and the Sudan. Continue reading

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Is Tunisia at War?

Commentary by Youssef Cherif – 7 August 2013

Source: AFP

Source: AFP

Right after Tunisia’s Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh wrapped up a press conference on the brutal assassination of opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi on 29 July, a military convoy was ambushed in the Chaambi Mountains – located in the country’s north-west – resulting in a number of deaths and injuries. Some of the bodies were found beheaded, while others had been mutilated. The attack plunged Tunisia into a second period of national mourning in less than a week. The following week, the Tunisian army launched a military operation, including air strikes, to purge the Mount Chaambi of radical Islamist elements that have been attacking military targets over the past months. Continue reading

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