Category Archives: Lebanon & Syria

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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L’Iran ne sera pas le gendarme du Moyen-Orient

Par William Hanna – 15 juin 2014

Source: Jason DeCrow/AP

Source: Jason DeCrow/AP

Suite à la conquête spectaculaire de nombreuses villes irakiennes par l’Etat Islamique en Irak et au Levant (EIIL), le président iranien n’a pas hésité à déclarer, samedi 14 juin, que son pays « était prêt à apporter tout soutien nécessaire demandé par le gouvernement irakien, dans son combat contre le terrorisme ». Cette déclaration est d’autant plus significative lorsqu’elle est comparée aux hésitations de la politique étrangère américaine et au quasi mutisme européen. L’annonce par le Pentagone de l’envoi d’un porte-avion déjà stationné dans la région du Golfe arabo-persique, à proximité des eaux territoriales irakiennes,  renforce l’impression d’un attentisme américain.  Continue reading

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ISIL’s Iraq Blitzkrieg: A Window of Opportunity to Act in Syria?

Commentary by Tamer Mallat– 14 June 2014

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL, Da’esh in Arabic) lightning invasion of Iraq is a serious cause for alarm. The speed by which it has taken over major Iraqi cities is revealing of the extent of the training its members have received, the numbers it commands and the resources at its disposal. The blitz also demonstrates just how powerful ISIL really is, and how it has asserted itself as a kingmaker in the Syrian civil war. Facing little or no resistance, the success of its operation appears imminent. And yet, this precipitated invasion may offer the first glimmer of hope for the Syrian conflict – the first of its kind in years since the revolution was hijacked by radicals. Continue reading

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معركة القلمون المرتقبة

بقلم لونا صفوان – ٢٨ تشرين الأول ٢٠١٣

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Aarsal/ Lebanon

بات وقعُ الحرب السورية/الأزمة السورية – أو ما يحلو لنا من توصيف، بات وقعُ الأخيرة جلياً على لبنان. وإن كانت النتائج جاءت استباقيةً معظم الأحيان، إلا أن تداعيات الوضع السوري باتت ملموسةً أكثر فأكثر. يُطالعُنا شبح الإشتباكات في طرابلس أولاً، اشتباكات باب التبانة وجبل محسن. اختلافٌ قديم العهد، جديد التوسُع. وفي حين يلجأ السياسي اللبناني الى ربط أحداث طرابلس بالوضع الإجتماعي الإقتصادي المعيشي دائماً والتهرّب من حقيقة ارتباطه بالوضع السوري، نكادُ ننسى حدودنا المتلامسة غير المتجانسة مع سوريا والتي هي -من شمالها حتى بقاعها الأوسط وأطراف جنوبها (مزارع شبعا)-، حدود مستباحة، عُرضةً لانتهاكات واعتداءات وتداعيات متبادلة من وبين الطرفين: اللبناني والسوري. Continue reading

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