Category Archives: English

Killing Mr. Lebanon II: Wissam al-Hassan

Commentary by Tamer Mallat – 21 October 2012

Ashraf Rifi and Wissam al-Hassan

Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan, former Intelligence Chief of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), was one of those rare Lebanese civil servants who did his job, and this ultimately cost him his life. The greatest way to recognize his work and sacrifice lies in the acceptance of this reality. Unfortunately, analyses and reactions alike have so far undermined and overshadowed the accomplishments of General al-Hassan and ISF endeavors over the years, and do little to honor the battles that he has fought to defend Lebanon’s sovereignty. Continue reading


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The Imran Khan Moment: Pakistani Spring or Mirage?

Commentary by Takuya Matsuda – 21 August 2012

A poster of Imran Khan/ © Takuya Matsuda

As the Middle East is experiencing great political upheaval, South Asia is going through a not entirely dissimilar phenomenon that expresses long-held aspirations of ‘self-determination’ and ‘justice’, demonstrating exasperation with extant politics. In 2011, as protests crippled authoritarian regimes across the Arab world, in India, the anti-graft campaigner Anna Hazare held a symbolic hunger strike against widespread corruption. In Pakistan, the people’s frustration is boiling over, causing an unprecedented ‘tsunami’, an ill-chosen term often used to describe the political movement of the country’s biggest political star, Imran Khan, which may change the political dynamics of a country plagued by violence and sectarian strife. Continue reading

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Why None of the Revolutions Have Caused an Arab Leader to Fall

Commentary by Mona Chalabi – 10 August 2012


Like any spring, the so-called Arab one has had a rise and a fall. Written analyses of every variety from magazine articles, to a burgeoning academic literature on the subject have made reference to the fall of regimes, the fall of leaders, of political parties. What is more, this language of a fallen something, is every bit as prevalent in the diverse oral accounts that are being recited from coffee shops to conferences. Continue reading

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Lebanon’s Government and the Assault on the Country’s Remaining Independent Institutions

 Commentary by Tamer Mallat – 27 June 2012


Much has been written in recent weeks concerning the spike in violence and criminality  in Lebanon since the start of the new year, and yet, most accounts have gone to great length to avoid pinpointing blame on one faction or another. The recent attempts to jump-start a new round of national reconciliation sessions, known as Lebanon’s infamous “National Dialogue”, has increased pressure on the belligerents of this seemingly cursed country to tone down their rhetoric. Worse, it has become symptomatic for different factions, neutral and partisan alike, to downplay the severity of recent calamities, all in the name of National Dialogue and illusionary stability. However, the majority of those represented in Lebanon’s executive arm of government are to blame for the deterioration of the ailing country’s situation. Continue reading

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Corruption in Iraq: An Eyewitness Account

Text and video by Mona Chalabi – 4 June 2012

In 2010, Iraq was ranked 175th out of 178 countries in terms of public perceptions of corruption. In 2011, Iraq again came in 175th place and received the lowest score of any country in the Middle East and North Africa region in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. This year, I travelled across the country to listen to Iraqis and understand why they have so little faith in the integrity of their public sector. (Continue reading to watch video)  Continue reading

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The Special Tribunal for Lebanon: Justice Starts Somewhere…

Commentary by John Simon – 6 May 2012

A culture of impunity has suffocated the Lebanese political system since its inception. Since the assassination of the country’s first Prime Minister, Riad al-Solh, in 1951, Lebanon has witnessed countless political assassinations, a violent civil war that claimed the lives of tens of thousands, and countless other internal and external conflicts. And yet, there has been no justice for the bereaved or accountability for the transgressors. In fact, Lebanon has yet to undergo any real process of reconciliation, leaving it in a climate of perpetual instability. The current status quo is unacceptable and deprives many Lebanese of any hope of normality; justice must begin somewhere. Continue reading

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This is Our Gulf: The Legacy of the Abu Musa and the Tunbs Dispute

Commentary by Bart Hesseling – 15 April 2012

Bahr-e Fars: A clear Iranian message on a football pitch in Abu Musa (source: Google Maps)

The recent visit by president Ahmadinejad of Iran to the disputed island of Abu Musa, the first by an Iranian head of state since Hashemi Rafsanjani in 1992, set off a storm of protest in the United Arab Emirates. The UAE recalled its ambassador from Tehran and even convened a special session of the GCC council of foreign ministers. The dispute over Abu Musa and the two Tunbs has become a symbol of Arab-Iranian enmity and, along with the occasional spats over the denomination of the Gulf (Arabian vs. Persian), provides a convenient way for both Iran and the Arab Gulf states to close ranks. Continue reading

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