Category Archives: Lebanese Sunnis

How immature is LBC’s Daher?

By Mezzo

To cut short the speech of Lebanon’s Prime Minister, our Prime Minister, before it ends is not innocent. Daher is a confused person. He does not realize how critical these times are for the Lebanese, for us, Christians and Muslims alike. We are not concerned with his continuous irritation over the legal case raised by the Lebanese Forces for the hundreds of millions he owed and pocketed. Where is the grand mission of LBC? Will Daher burn the oild fields like Saddam did when he unwillingly withdrew from Kuwait?

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Filed under Fouad Seniora, Lebanese Christians, Lebanese Shi'a, Lebanese Sunnis, Lebanon, March 14

Are Bkirki and the Archbishop in agreement?

By Mezzo

Archbishop Bishara El Rai’i’s interview with As-Safir can be simply summarized as another wrong step to the discredit of the Maronites.

I was astonished when El Rai’i said that Seniora’s government is Islamizing the country. My astonishment came as I recalled that Bkirki’s communication style is not one to mention names in public statements but rather is characterized as diplomatically discrete to an extent that, from time to time, I cannot even understand what they mean or who they are talking about. So why would Bishara El Rai’i mention the name of Seniora (government of)?

My second surprise followed as soon as I reminded myself that Seniora’s government includes 10 Christian ministers. I spent the next minute actively trying to figure out how had the Sunnis managed to manipulate the government from within, and set in motion the Islamization of Lebanon that has only been noticed, two years down the road, by Gebran Bassile and Bishara El Rai’i?

Then I started wondering why this is happening at the worst possible timing to gradually move to a very disturbing conclusion that, probably the wind had changed direction and I had not noticed it. Maybe something dramatic is about to happen that incited Bkirki to quickly re-position in favor of the Hezbollah-led coalition, and so by giving Aoun a solid boost of a much-needed community support.

Regardless of all possible motives, I do not agree with Bkirki for many reasons:

1) Bkirki can’t position the Christians as a standing-up community facing the other Muslim communities on every single subject and topic. The 14th of March Christian politicians adopted an advanced strategy of opening up to the Muslim communities and inviting all parties for a shared role in governing and developing the nation, within the boundaries of the Ta’ef Agreement.

2) The timing for intentionally hitting the Sunnis and inducing a political setback, is so inappropriate in view of the latest political and security build-up of an imminent regional conflict with international repercussions. This will definitely displease the international community, who will also recall, how irritating the Christians in general and the Maronites in particular are, given their inability to never ride the proper sail nor do so on time.

3) It can’t help Bkirki and the country if Seniora is out since Paris-III is specifically link to the Hariris and Senioras.

4) Damaging the reputation and the political representation of Seniora (and the ones who are behind him: Hariri, Al Mustakbal) would eventually invite a new Sunni coalition to emerge. Can Bkirki guarantee to us that the replacing coalition will be as moderate as Siniora and Hariri, and as open to the world as the Christians want?

5) It is the Seniora’s government, and Hariri in particular, who negotiated a multiple Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian support, to then gave the army a green light to enter a red-lined Palestinian camp and to hard hit Sunnis fellows. It is therefore quite hypocritical to attack Seniora’s government, the very government that ordered the destruction of the fundamentalist organization and numerous terrorizing cells that are Bkirki’s and Hezbollah’s daily nightmares.

6) The Aouns and the Frangiehs will not take back all they said and did to the patriarch from 1989, and everyday since, until today (i.e. Branding Patriarch Sfeir a womanizer or calling him inept to legitimately represent the Christians).

Aoun is mentally still living in the pre-war era where, once upon a time, the president had all the powers that Ta’ef took away as a result of Aoun’s liberation war against Syria. Bkirki, on the other hand, moved forward and stayed in the post-war era where the Christian community suffered further downsizing by the occupier and other communities. It seems today that Bkirki has not cross the line into the post post-war era that started on the 14 of March 2005 and my views are that the 14th of March politicians should not longer wait on Bkirki, ignore Aoun, and take us to the next step of abolishing confessionalism according to Ta’ef. It is only a question of time for the remaining fanatic Christians and ideologically driven Shi’a to ease their political consideration and move, as if by gravity, to their natural home that is the March 14 Intifada.

And last but not least, there is another reality that I want to mention that was understood by Rafiq al-Hariri a long time ago but that Bkirki is yet to recognize: Bkirki does not represent the Christians but the Maronites who make 18.5% of the Lebanese population according to statistics on holders of Lebanese ID cards. The other 16.5% of Christians are completely ignored by the Maronites politicians in the same way Aoun and Bkirki advocate that the Christians are ill-represented today. For the Maronites, it is time to share more of their power with other Christian communities. We only have to look at Al-Mustakbal ministry and parliamentary composition to see that Rafiq al-Hariri capitalized on this point at the right time. Accordingly, Bkirki should be very careful not to assume that it can easily manipulate the Christians in the name of Maronitisim.

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Filed under Aoun, Bkirki, Fouad Seniora, Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanese Christians, Lebanese Sunnis, Lebanon, Ta'ef Accord

Al Manar takes advantage of Seymour Hersh’s “findings”

By Ana

Hezbollah-funded TV station Al Manar news reporter Husayn Nur-al Din reported on PFLP General Command official Abu-Imad Ramiz press conference yesterday on his update on the Tripoli events.

Abu-Imad Ramiz was featured saying: “During all the meetings we held with the Lebanese political authorities, we have warned of this group and put the authorities in the picture of the information available to us about the growing presence of Fatah al-Islam members in Tripoli and how a certain Lebanese party tried to exploit the group to serve its goals internally and mobilize them religiously. As Palestinians, if we are to blame for the presence of this group in Nahr al-Barid refugee camp, then who should be blamed for the presence of this group in the city of Tripoli and its neighbourhoods? Who funded them? And who facilitated their movement and turned a blind eye to their activities until they managed in few hours to control the streets
of Tripoli? One of these groups has almost reached the area of Dayr al-Balamand.”

This of course is highly out of context. If the Palestinians were so keen on rooting out Fatah al-Islam from their camp, they would have properly cooperated with the army these past few days and help turn the Fatah al-Islam members in. We have not seen this level of cooperation. Instead, we have seen accusations being hurled left and right supplemented by zero action.

Nur al-Din then reports saying, “In a statement, the PFLP accused the Information Bureau of the Internal Security Forces led by Officer Wisam al-Hasan of sponsoring Fatah al-Islam organization and allowing it into Al-Barid refugee camp after it was dismantled in the refugee camps of Burj al-Barajinah and Shatila, saying that the fire of the political grudge against the Palestinian presence was ignited when the Future Movement adopted Fatah al-Islam and prepared it to fight its sectarian war in order to target the resistance weapons.”

This statement is highly unjustified. Here is yet another example of how Al Manar has been taking advantage of Seymour Hersh’s findings and actually distorting them. Even Hersh did not say that the Future Movement had “adopted” the Fatah al-Islam; he had only discussed the issue of indirect and direct funding. Of course, Hersh’s article’s reliance on an M16 agent worries me greatly.

The Al-Manar reporter, however, created divergences where none existed. He paraphrased Abu-Imad Ramiz’s statement as having said, “The PFLP-GC stressed that Fatah al-Islam has nothing to do with the Palestinian question on the popular and political levels. The front said that the campaign it is facing is intended to drive a wedge between the front and the Lebanese Army.” He uses this to criticize the prime minister of the “illegitimate government.” He added, “The PFLP noted that pushing the Lebanese Army into a confrontation with the Palestinian civilians is nothing but a conspiracy against this army by those in charge of the political decision-making led by the duo Geagea-Jumblatt in order to deflate the army’s military creed, which is hostile to the Zionist enemy, and blemish its image before its people and nation.”

In fact, however, Jumblatt was the first to come out and say that Fatah al-Islam could not, in fact, be defined as Palestinian. This came even after Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s speech in which he called the group “Palestinian.”

Additionally, Al Manar blames March 14 for hurting the image of the national army which consequently hurts its ability to counter Israeli aggression. However, March 14 that same day had criticized Nasrallah’s speech for providing “moral support” (in the words of Minister of Youth and Sports Ahmed Fatfat). His speech had only lightly criticized (and not condemned) the attacks and had provided no support for the Lebanese army, instead, specifically calling the Lebanese army a red line and an assault on the camp another red line. Who is hurting the army’s image now? Even General Michel Aoun realized that Nasrallah had this time gone too far. In his press conference, he explicitly stated that the army must be supported by all Lebanese communities and that calling the Lebanese army a red line was unacceptable.

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Filed under An-Manar TV, Fouad Seniora, Lebanese Sunnis, Lebanon, March 14, March 8, Nahr al-Bared, Saad Hariri

Today’s streets of Beirut in review

By Ana

Tens of thousands?

I was surprised to see the BBC, CNN International, and the AFP describe the number of participants in this exceptionally massive demonstration as “tens of thousands.” After the demonstration, I was able to get in touch with a couple of journalists and a prominent director of a media outlet who all explained to me that the media, and in particular the international media, was trying to move away from what they called, the “war of numbers.” They recounted how both sides of the Lebanese political spectrum have been trying to boost their credibility and popularity in terms of numbers. The media, has therefore decided to neutralize this war of words by not providing numbers, simply because the numbers are not important. According to this director, both sides have showed that they both have supporters and their own form of legitimacy from this grassroots support. Hence, the numbers no longer matter.

However, I have to ask, is it fair for the media to decide to neutralize this political discourse? Isn’t the very decision to neutralize it a form of participating in the discourse and taking a political stand? If the media is actually interested in helping calm political and social tension on the streets, then it is going to have to constructively participate in disseminating accurate information and facts and let the people decide for themselves how such information should be treated.

Sectarian discourse

Standing amongst the protesters near An Nahar, I was disappointed to witness three occurrences. I saw a group of young Sunni enthusiasts waving their Lebanese flags and chanting in a circle “Allah ma’al Sunnieh” (God is with the Sunnis). I then saw a group of young Lebanese Forces carrying crosses along with their Lebanese Forces flags around. Finally, I counted at least two dozen young men and women with Palestinian scarves. These Palestinians seem to believe they only have one choice: either to side with Hezbollah who claims to support the liberation of Palestinian land or to state their allegiance to the Sunni-ruled government. Given that most Palestinians are Sunni, they have chosen to side with the latter.

A move towards nationalism?

However, amidst this sectarian reality, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the opposite trend is also solidifying itself. Many Sunni men and women, and especially veiled women, took it upon themselves to carry around Lebanese Forces flags in lieu of their Lebanese flag. I also saw a group of Sunni sheikhs walking around with Lebanese Forces flags. The Sunnis have come to the conclusion that they owe much to the Head of the Lebanese Forces Dr. Samir Geagea. Without his support and conviction, the Christian card would have been lost a very long time ago. After returning home and watching the coverage of various news channels and newspapers, it was interesting to see how many featured Sunni participants carrying the Lebanese Forces flag. It was even more interesting to note that indeed, FPM leader General Michel Aoun can no longer say that he owns the Christian voice. Today was proof that the Lebanese Forces have taken ownership of a vast number of Lebanese objectives, whether they be Christian or Sunni.

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Filed under Lebanese Shi'a, Lebanese Sunnis, Lebanon, March 14