A Lebanese Abroad

Opinions from an opinionated Lebanese abroad about Lebanon's politics, business and the future of a United Lebanon.

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Monday, March 21, 2005

Surprise! Lahoud & Assad cancel their travel plans

I can't help but muse about the fact that both Presidents Lahoud of Lebanon and Assad of Syria have cancelled upcoming trips abroad, citing local circumstances in Syria/Lebanon as the common reason. Assad was scheduled to visit Austria, and Lahoud was due to attend the Arab League Summit.

I wonder how much heat they must be feeling under their seats, right now. As the French saying goes, "Qui va a la chasse, perd sa place". Translation (without the rhyme): If you go hunting, you risk losing your spot. I guess, that must be the real reason.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Insulted Syrians should lash back at their own government

In a recent Daily Star article entitled Insulted Syrians boycott 'everything Lebanese’, the article claims that many Syrians feel embittered and insecure in country where they always had an advantage”. Therefore, many have decided to curtail their business or personal visits to Lebanon and even withdraw their money from Lebanese banks.

But there is another side that Syrians should know about. They should realize that the messages emanating from the opposition demonstrations had nothing anti-Syrian people. They were really anti-Syrian government. Average Syrian people should lash out instead at their own government and get busy with their own revolution at home, assuming that they learned something from the Lebanese people, besides how free loving we are.

The overwhelming majority of Lebanese people have nothing against Syrians, only against their government, because as the article points out later, “Syria's tight hold kept Lebanese from voicing resentment toward Syria's presence until recently, meaning Syrians heard little of it directly; and Syria's state-run media painted the presence only as a benefit to Lebanon. “

Syrians should open-up their eyes and realize that they have an opportunity to make history, also. Their escapades in Lebanon probably gave them a taste of what freedom and (even an un-perfect) democracy can bring. Let them have it. A strong, vibrant, democratic and free Syria is good for Lebanon too. Just as we are getting rid of our government, we hope that one day, you will do the same to yours.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

No One Wants to Harm Lebanon, Really

I am only using some logic here. Here it goes:
Despite warnings from the power-at-be, it has been a pleasant surprise that none of the demonstrations (from either side) resulted in any violence, and thank God, no one has been killed, and no one detonated anything.
Let's assume we can believe the government's theory that Hariri's killers were rogue elements that came from Beirut's suburbs (just for a minute, only), don't you think that those same terrorists could have infiltrated any one of the demonstrations and God-forbid done something awful, if they really wanted to destabilize the country further?
So, the fact that nothing happened leads me to deduct that the only party that Mr. Future Ex-President was warning us about was really nobody. So, no one really wants to harm Lebanon (because they could have easily done it during the demonstrations)...nobody of course, except those that have already done the dammage. I hear they are leaving now even faster than they previously announced.
Comments/Discussion here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

10 Predictions for Lebanon for 2005

First, some reflections on March 14th 2005.

The ink will not dry for a long time on the significance of the March 14th 2005 demonstrations in Lebanon. The country is even more energized than before because everyone knows now that this is the beginning of the end, and this end will lead to a new beginning (to paraphrase Churchill). March 14th was an "up the ante" day that delivered, delivered and delivered.

Technically, the only major obstacle to this new beginning is free elections. The failure of forming a government is not even a major surprise, since it proved that the pro-Syrians are powerless without the heavy hand of Syria.

My top 10 predictions for what might happen next:

1) Karame resigns again
2) A report links the Lebanese government and Syrian Intelligence to the murder of Hariri
3) Syria accelerates its departure
4) Lahoud agrees to resign after a new Parliament is voted
5) Hezbollah experiences internal rifts and starts to lose power
6) Elections in June, one month after the last Syrian soldier has left
7) Elligible Lebanese abroad are allowed to vote in special circumstances
8) A number of Lebanese politicians take asylum in Syria
9) The Lebanese economy booms in 2005 at 8% annual growth
10) 100,000 expat Lebanese return to the homeland

OK, here's an 11th one, but it's a long shot:
11) Something happens in Syria to the current regime

And we all live happily thereafter, because after a 30-year nightmare, there will be 30 years of prosperity and peace.

What are your predictions?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Lies, Absurdities and More Lies

In the last two days, I managed to read a number of absurdities or lies from various media sources. Among them, a report from the Online Journal, claiming that “Hariri reportedly was assassinated to make way for large US air base in Lebanon”, and that it had been “ultimately authorized by two key White House officials, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliot Abrams.” The article claims that this revelation was obtained from high-level Lebanese Intelligence sources.

Well, if they expect us to believe such lies, they are doing a lousy job at providing any evidence or even leaking something that is close to being believable. This article was also published on the Conspiracy Archive News web site. It is so typical of Middle-Eastern politics to be often dominated by conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated thoughts aimed at brain-washing the average reader or television viewer.

And on the absurdities side, according to the Daily Star, Speaker Nabih Berri (I didn’t know he was in charge of Foreign Affairs) apparently responded Friday to British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's comment on the reappointment of Prime Minister Omar Karami by urging him "to name the Lebanese prime minister he wants, to dissipate his concern." And the “the Lebanese Foreign Ministry asked the Lebanese Embassy in the U.K. to explain to the British Foreign Department that the president does not appoint the prime minister, saying the appointment was the result of consultations between the president and MPs.”

We all know that Lebanese politicians are masters of creativity when it comes to making something appear like something else. And of course, what do you expect from a pro-Syrian dominated parliament? Do you really expect them to re-cycle anything less than the same old, same old? That Berri is slick as oil. He sure has a way with words, and his cynicism stoops at such low levels. Straw must be shaking his head about this.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Sanctions Against Syria Will Hurt Lebanon

The Washington Post reports today that the “A top U.N. envoy will tell President Bashar Assad that Syria will face political and economic isolation if he does not completely and quickly withdraw from Lebanon, U.N. and U.S. officials said yesterday.”

As much as the process of sanctions appears to be an instrument of pressure, the reality is that it backfires in several ways and is not an effective mean to get Syria to change its position. Two main reasons:

1) Economic and financial sanctions end-up really hurting the population of the country being targeted, not its government. As a matter of fact, the sanctioned government ends-up pointing the finger back at the countries that are initiating the sanctions by telling their population “if there is shortage of food, it’s because of their sanctions”. So, it emboldens the targeted government.

2) Syria is in the process of joining itself at the hip with Lebanon, economically in addition to politically. Any heat on Syria will be automatically shared by Lebanon, one way or the other. For example, Syria could mandate that Lebanon shares whatever Syria is deprived from, in the name of “brotherhood and common interests”. And since Syria wants to have a “unified customs wall” and "economic integration" with Lebanon, there will be further confusion as to what is Lebanon and what is Syria when it comes to import/export transactions.

I hope that the international community turns to more creativity regarding applying pressure on Syria. Syria’s officials are probably laughing their heads off at the prospect of sanctions. In the meantime, who is looking after Lebanon’s interests? Why aren’t Lebanese politicians uttering any words about this? Why doesn’t Lebanon’s interest come first, and Syria second, instead of Syria first and Lebanon last? If Lebanese current politicians were on the side of Lebanon, they should have the guts to say to Syria: “You shall not drag us down with you”.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

For or Against 1559?

Today, the NY Times reported that the U.S. may be inclined to lower the heat on Hizbullah in order not to loose their support completely for getting Syria out of Lebanon. Indeed, it’s a tricky situation- how to extricate the militancy (and military) aspect of Hizbullah while preserving its potentially beneficial political role as a counter balance to Syria. So, far, I don’t really see how this could easily happen, since Hizbullah’s messages via Tuesday’s pro-Syrian demonstration and speeches have already emboldened President Lahoud to ask Karami to re-load his government. I think the Americans were 3 weeks too late in that realization. They should have moved-in right after Hariri’s death while Hizbullah's position was still somewhat in limbo.

However, as pro-Syrian as Hizbullah appears to be, they don’t see eye to eye in regards to 1559 where there has been a softening of the Syrian stand (although it might well be lip service). Hizbullah is adamantly opposed to 1559, “We have come here to voice to the world our opposition to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559” said Nasrallah in his speech. He added that support of 1559 is a means to “toppling the Taif Accord”. Contrast this to the Syrian-Lebanese communiqué and Assad’s speech where they don’t seem to have a problem anymore with 1559, and rather perceive the Taef Accord’s implementation as a means to also meet 1559. Is this cheap talk or an indirect way to confront Hizbullah eventually on 1559 which stipulates its disarmament? Or will Syria end-up simply ignoring sections in 1559 that they don’t like by tolerating Hizbullah’s militia army anyways? And if Syria and Lebanon are now “for” 1559, why did they allow the Lebanese Parliament to condemn it only a few months ago, in the name of foreign interference? We have to keep asking the tough questions.

Strategically, I think that the opposition should exploit this level of disagreement between Hizbullah and Syria and drive a wedge further between them. If Hizbullah is really with Lebanon, they should put their faith with the Lebanese army and/or integrate with it completely. Even further, they should consider changing their name while in the midst of this makeover, if they want to become solely a politically, culturally and socially active party in the context of a United Lebanon.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Urge to Merge, Syrian-Style

I see red flags all over the Syria-Lebanon communiqué which resulted from the meeting of the two Presidents on Monday March 7th, both in style and in substance.

The communiqué had all the makings of Syrian-style rushing in order to give it just enough appearance of legitimacy. The meeting was announced on Saturday by President Assad in response to international pressure and with a purpose to define a joint agreement for a pull-out schedule. Instead, it produced a hastily written agreement designed to cement political, economic, cultural and social links between the two countries without attaching much importance to the details of the expected withdrawal of Syrian troops.

First, on style, what a farce! The 2 presidents and their committees met quickly to give the appearance of a meeting resulting in a communiqué. But in reality, one President (the Lebanese one) went to the other one who summoned him there and told him: this is the communiqué we are signing, so let’s smile and make it happen. At least, if they wanted to fool a few more of us, they could have spent the entire day and evening behind closed doors to give the appearance of negotiations or give-and-take discussions. But this would have required too much effort. Instead, we get a bam-wham, thank you M’am.

On substance, here is what is troubling about this communiqué. It states that:

"The two sides stressed that this meeting, which comes during these difficult circumstances and in view of the challenges that face the two countries, emphasizes the determination of the two states to strengthen the march of co-operation and co-ordination between them and to continue implementing the articles of the treaty and the agreements signed within its framework accurately, with transparency, and in a manner that achieves the joint interests of the two countries.

The two sides pointed out their true determination to rectify any failure affecting this march within the framework of the joint establishments and services, which were established in accordance with this treaty, and which remains the sole legitimate and acceptable framework for handling difficulties and obstacles, and proposing visions on the future prospects for these relations, which should be translated on the ground through steps, projects, and conduct that reflect the historic, popular, social, economic, cultural, and political dimensions of these brotherly relations."

Meaning: We are in this thing together. We will sink or swim together, we will drag each other down until one of us drowns. My problem is your problem, we are chained and doomed together. And by the way, the aspirations of the Lebanese opposition do not mean anything, they are just a mood swing that will pass. Actually, let us get even closer together. Let’s get really cozy now and warm each other, because there has been some drafts of cold air circulating recently.

On the timetable aspect, the communiqué stated that the following was decided:

Item 1A. “Withdrawing the Syrian Arab forces stationed in Lebanon to the Bekaa region and the western entrance to Bekaa at Dahr al-Baydar and to the Hammana-Mdayrij-Ayn Dara line by the end of March 2005.”

Please check the location of Hammana on the map. Hammana and Mdayrij are not in the Bekaa. So, while the Syrians are letting the headlines state that their withdrawal is to the Bekaa, in reality, it is not. Hammana is a mere 30 kms away from Beirut, and in line of sight, on a nice day (i.e. 300 days of the year). It is indeed a very strategic, but a not well known placement where Syrian intelligence personnel has been already stationed there in abundance.

Items 1B and 1C are convoluted statements that are tied to Item1A. Basically, they say that the withdrawal is a 3-step process. First, we will withdraw towards the Bekaa, but not entirely to the Bekaa (by the end of March 2005). Second, within a month of the end of step 1, we will agree on how long we will stay there. Third, we will agree once more on when we will really leave. This sounds like someone who doesn’t really want to leave. In other words, the Syrians are saying- let us stay in your backyard for a while, then let us discuss how long we will stay there, and after that period is over, we can discuss when we will really leave. This basically means that this process could potentially end exactly where it started, but we are not sure and will not commit yet to where and when it ends.

Part 2, Items A, B, C and D refer to decisions already taken to accelerate and encourage further committee meetings at the ministerial levels between the two countries, specifically focusing on Foreign Affairs, Economic and Social affairs.

Part 4 requests a feasibility study for “establishing a unified customs wall within three months of approval”. I am impressed by the speed of implementation by these 2 government bureaucracies where it often takes that long to get a single document processed for its citizens.

Part 5 is about “Requesting the economic committee to submit its initial concept of the means and mechanisms of achieving an economic integration within three months for discussion.” This one really stunned me. “Economic integration” is such a big word. Can’t the Lebanese Parliament at least discuss it or approve it first? The communiqué clearly states that this will be done three months after discussions, i.e. whether you like it or not. Again, "economic integration" is such a big word, it’s bigger than free-trade. It is closer in meaning to the European Union’s economic integration, which means a single currency! Yikes… I am ready to throw-up my dinner now.

My corporate experience tells me that the above steps have all the ingredients and makings of pre-Merger & Acquisitions activities. Leaders flirt and meeting committees start to unify operations starting from the inside. On the outside, no one suspects a thing, until the final moment when they pull the curtain down, and surprise…there is an entirely new stage for the play.

Any Lebanese and any one interested in a sovereign Lebanon should read this short communiqué and judge for themselves whether it represents a real co-operation of equal partners or rather a subversion towards a fait accompli situation where Syria totally dominates Lebanon, and not just interferes in its affairs.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Mr. Nasrallah: Your Revolution Does Not Pass Mustard

I am really confused now about the Hizbullah messages from Mr. Nasrallah's speech on March 8, 2005. So, the United States and France is the enemy? And Israel,- with whom the Palestinians are currently sitting with, face-to-face, to discuss peace- well, they will always be the enemy. Saudi Arabia and Egypt who also aren’t playing along with Syria and are too close to the U.S., are also the enemy. And at least 2 million other Lebanese people (perhaps more, but I am being conservative) are also enemies because they don’t believe that Syria is really Lebanon’s friend and wants our well-being. So, by deduction, after alienating the West (represented by the U.S. and France), most Arab countries (lead by Egypt and Saudi Arabia), and a lot of Lebanese, who is left as our friends: Syria and Iran?

Mr. Nasrallah, I am sorry to say that your logic doesn’t make sense, and will not pass mustard this time, neither with the Lebanese people (even those that you have dragged to the streets today), nor with the international community (because we live in a world of 200 other nations, not just 2 "brotherly" nations that don’t give a damn about the rest of the world). Syria is only one country, one neighbor. Look at the relations between Canada and the United States. They are each other’s largest trading partners (and we could be the same, with Syria, one day), but they respect each other decisions and deal with differences and conflicts via diplomacy and negotiations, not intimidation and interference.

Militarily, the game is over. So, please stop injecting fear, uncertainty and doubt into the hearts of the Lebanese people. Israel could crush Syria and Hizbullah in a minute. If you still believe that it is Hizbullah’s force that drove Israel out of Lebanon, then- I know that you don’t already believe in Santa Claus, but it would be the equivalent of believing in Santa Claus. Lebanon is not Iran or North Korea who are playing the nuclear weapons game, so Don’t You make Lebanon your playground, either! We are not North Korea, nor Iran, and we are tired of getting “lumped” with Syria’s geo-political rhetoric every time.

In your speech, you said to the demonstrators "Today, you decide the future of your nation and your country. Today, you answer the world. Are these hundreds of thousands for nothing?" Well, I have news for you. While numbers generally speak, they usually do in democratic elections, not in a match of who’s got the biggest demonstration. So, lets’ hope that we will all meet again for deciding the future of Lebanon, collectively, in the course of normal elections, under a fair electoral district law, and not just on the streets.

You asked the demonstrators several deductive questions. Allow me to ask a few, myself.

Why does Hizbullah want to take Lebanon back to the dark ages?

Why should we believe that a national consensus government will hastily implement Taief now, since they were not eager to do it before?

And why are you still repeating the same lies? You said about Israel and the United States: “Forget about your dreams about Lebanon. There is no place for you in Lebanon.” Don’t you know that, as a first step to discussing peace with Israel, the Palestinians received a pledge for $1 billion dollars in economic aid from Western nations, and that’s only the beginning. So why would Israel and the U.S. want Lebanon as the enemy while they are making peace with the Palestinians?

Mr. Nasrallah, you must be having really bad dreams, because you are seeing imaginary enemies for Lebanon, while ignoring the enemy within, i.e. Syria.

And here’s the biggest lie that was heard during the demonstrations. “America is the source of terrorism.” I was laughing my head off, but this is a serious matter- accusing the United States of terrorism. Could you please show some respect or show some evidence? Or are you referring to Iraq's mess? Well, the United States is failing at keeping the peace in Iraq, so they made a big mistake in their calculations, but their intentions were good, and the end-result is something you are afraid of. I have good news for you- the United States are not going to invade Syria, in order not to create a similar mess to Iraq’s. But I am puzzled that you are already forgetting that less than 2 months ago, several of your Shiite brothers have been duly elected there, and hold a majority, thanks to the United States.

Today, we live in an age of universal transparency where information and actions are instantly transmitted, analyzed and criticized. The voices of reason, hope and positive attitudes end-up triumphing over the voices of fear, uncertainty and doubt (which are your trademarks). This free world and the majority of Lebanese people that are allowed to think on their own, are overwhelmingly hopeful about a better future. Today, we live in an interdependent world, and that is the reality of things.

Often, the worst thing that happens to good people is when they are lead by bad leaders. Even worse, is when they start to believe in them. I feel sorry for the Lebanese Shiites who are being misled by some of their leaders, while they are being robbed of a better future.

Mr. Nasrallah, this isn’t Iran in 1976. Although your revolution is being televised, unfortunately this time, it will not pass mustard.

Monday, March 07, 2005

From One Dog to Another

This picture caught my attention a few weeks ago, while I was browsing pictures from worldwide demonstrations. What dawned on me today was a title for it. Self-explanatory, but aimed at the Syrian government, not its people. (Source: Montreal demonstration)

From One Dog to Another Posted by Hello

Media Fatigue in the West

Although today's Independence demonstrations were the largest yet, they did not get as much coverage in the Western press. As I suggested yesterday, I thought that the opposition could have "rested" today as it was difficult to be in the limelight while 2 other major events were taking place, i.e. the Syrian-Lebanese meeting in Damascus and tomorrow's Hizbullah-led demonstrations. There is so much that the Western media will bear about the Middle-East. Right now, the U.S. is immersed with the Michael Jackson trial and the future of its social security system.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Hizbullah Not a Problem?

I take offense to the Daily Star’s editorial Hizbullah is not a problem- it is part of Lebanon’s solution. Their analysis is flawed and short-sighted. The editorial states “If sovereignty means anything at all, then it means independence from the United States and Israel as much as it means independence from Syria. Sovereignty means sovereignty - it cannot be interpreted one way for one party and another way for another party. This is why, Nasrallah maintains, Hizbullah cannot support UN Resolution 1559. Nasrallah has a point, and Lebanese of all persuasions would be advised to listen more closely and afford the Hizbullah leader the respect he is due.”

Comparing Syria’s interference in Lebanon (with all of its apparatus) to occasional comments made by Israel or the United States about Lebanon is a mockery and an insult to the intelligence of most Lebanese or non-Lebanese people. The Daily Star is misleading its readers. Syria’s role in Lebanon is deep, very deep. The only thing that the U.S. is providing is hope and a vision about freedom, liberty and real democracy,- and these are the values of all developed nations. Here are Syria’s values: dictatorship, human rights abuse, oppression of freedom. Sorry, but I don’t want these values in my country!

Hizbullah's Last Hurray

So, Assad is trying to drive a wedge between the Lebanese people, and Hizbullah is trying to nail it for him? Good luck to both, because they will not succeed. They are doing it so they can prove that their military might is still needed. Note that they are the ones instigating violence against the population (shooting incident in Ashrafieh by Baath party on Saturday and wounding of an 18-year old today at Martyr Square by same).

Lahoud and his group are going to Damascus for a so-called meeting to decide on the timetable for withdrawal, but we all know that they will get lectured by Assad Jr. If I was advising the opposition, I would “lay low” for the next couple of days, just to see how much the Syrians and pro-Syrian Lebanese government will want to grab, and then I would catch them with their hands in the cookie jar. This is different than before, because now, the whole world is watching. They want a fight,- but let’s not give it to them.

The planned Tuesday demonstrations by Hizbullah may be their last Hurray; they are totally uninspiring and mostly irritating, wanting to take the country to the past. Contrast the opposition’s approach, which is full of aspirations about a better future that is not dominated by a political or military agenda.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Inside the Minds of Lahoud

A very frightening interview with Fadi K. Agha, Foreign Policy Advisor to President Lahoud, published by Counterpunch, an American political newspaper. My take on it is that the "loyalists" are digging their heels and not budging that much. With the resignation of Prime Minister Karame, Lahoud has so far deflected much of the heat directly, because some Lebanese probably still hoped that he might see the writing on the wall, and start acting in the interest of Lebanon, and not Syria. But these remarks make me wonder now that they really believe in their crap. In this long interview, Agha says:
"Today, this minority has seen its ranks swell by the joining of a few opportunists who were until YESTERDAY the beneficiaries of Syrian "largesse." They have seen the wagons are circling, and are hoping to live for another day. These are the same warlords, sectarian barons and opportunists who lead us once before to ruin."
"Needless to say, that the Lebanese are also NOT entirely united on the mechanisms and schedules of a Syrian military withdrawal, as MANY in the so called "opposition" have selectively read the Taef Accords, when in reality it calls for withdrawals to coincide with reforms and the ABOLITION of political sectarianism."

By the way, has anyone seen the actual text of the Taef Accords? I, for one would like to read it and make my own interpretation on what it says.

Once a Puppet, Always a Puppet

From Naharnet, "Hoss, who is widely tipped to head a government of national unity, is scheduled to travel to Damascus Sunday or Monday to meet President Assad."
I don't have a problem with Lebanese politicians visiting Damascus, but why do so before being appointed? Does Chirac consult with Blair before forming his government or Bush with Martin, etc.? Isn't it obvious that this is a flagrant evidence of going to Syria to seek approval from Assad and get lectured on what they can or cannot do? Don't they know that the ENTIRE world is looking at Lebanese politics now with a microscope? On top of that, it was reported that Lahoud was dragging his heels on forming a new government until after Assad's speech. This entire set of events shows that Lahoud et al still don't get it. Why can't he form a government on his own by consulting with the Lebanese only, and without taking any cues from Syria? In a court of law, the evidence would be so much against him. If he was accused of being a puppet, he and Hoss would be guilty as charged!
If you're still talking to Syria,
You've got the puppet bacteria!

Assad's Empty Words

There are a number of statements in that speech that I didn't like, and I would like to rebut them.

1) From Le Monde, Assad said: "The Syrian withdrawal does not mean the absence of a role in Lebanon for Syria. Syria's power and its role in Lebanon do not depend on the presence of Syrian soldiers in Lebanon."
Duh? Of course, we know that, you dummy! Didn't President Bush say "...and the withdrawal of Syrian intelligence personnel as well? Wait until opposition politicians, the U.S. and France jump all over that one tomorrow. But, hey...I'll give you a hint: in the future, the Lebanese will determine their own side of these relations that you'd like to hang on to, so dearly. This isn't going to be a "one-way street" anymore!

2) From the NY Times: Mr. Assad lashed out against Lebanon's opposition movement, accusing it of "marketing its politics" during the recent demonstrations that called for Syria's withdrawal. "If TV cameras were to zoom out" from their vantage on Martyrs' Square in Beirut, he said, they would show that "no one else was there."
So, you are a really arrogant liar, Mr. President. How dare you attack the Lebanese like that and feed the rest of the world such lies? This revolution is far greater that you will ever imagine. Lebanese from all walks of life and religion have demonstrated and will continue to do so, from their own will, in the same spirit that they exhibited when they rallied behind Hariri's funeral. And by the way, who are those 3,000 Syrians that were outside your fake parliament? Who told them to go there? The Syrian secret police? You are still so jalous of us, it's so obvious...so you want to show that Syrians can demonstrate their popular beliefs like in Lebanon? Ha! Who are you fooling? OK, you can fool a few die-hard Arabs that believe everything they see on Al-Jazeera, but that's about it.

3) From l'Orient-le-Jour, "...the Lebanese have taken advantage of us by defending their national interests..." Excuse me? So, now the Syrians are the victims? And since when is defending one's own interests such a bad thing?

4) From l'Orient-le-Jour, "...1559 has nothing to do with the extension of Lahoud's mandate. Actually, nobody is talking about this extension anymore, except some parties that are vexed about it and have sent a late note about it to the U.S. But this matter is already past. Let them find something else." Again, who is he kidding? This guy has a chip on his shoulder, or what? He sounds like a kid complaining to his mother. I am willing to bet that Lahoud will not finish his illegal 3-year extension. God willing, there will be free and fair elections, and the new Parliament will vote him out and elect a new President that represents all of the Lebanese.

The Beginning of a New Era

So, I decided to start this blog, after fuming for 19 days over Hariri's assassination (Feb 14), and on the same day as the much publicized and short-sighted speech of Assad to his fake parliament on March 5th. Enough is enough...and these are sentiments shared by millions of Lebanese at home and abroad who have suddenly been empowered to take control of their own destiny.
In this blog, I will fume over the comments made by politicians and will provide my own opinion for what needs to happen in Lebanon so that the country can pull itself out of the current quagmire, and into the 21st century, once and for all!