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November 06 2013

Suhail_Bawji : Lebanon's De Facto Ruler

#Suhail_Bawji : #Lebanon’s De Facto Ruler

Despite the end of his term and the questionable legality of his appointment, the man has persevered in his position for 13 years. (Photo: Haitham Moussawi) Despite the end of his term and the questionable legality of his appointment, the man has persevered in his position for 13 years. (Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

While Lebanon’s politicians are engrossed in fighting over the shape of the next government, the cabinet’s chief (...)

#Articles #Najib_Mikati #Tammam_Salam

November 04 2013



Almost one third of Syria’s population have fled their homes. More than 2 million are refugees living outside Syria – mostly in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt – and 4.25 million individuals are displaced internally in Syria. They have fled widespread violence and human rights abuses, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Amnesty International is publishing this report to draw attention to the difficulties faced by people from Syria as they flee their country in search of safety.

#Syrie #réfugié #asile #migration #Jordanie #Amnesty

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October 21 2013

Syria : Battle for Qalamoun May Be Felt in Lebanon

Syria: Battle for Qalamoun May Be Felt in Lebanon

The Qalamoun battle may have repercussions on the Lebanese interior because Liwa al-Islam, which is led by Zahran Alloush, has become the main opposition force on Lebanon’s eastern slopes in Arsal al-Ward, the Rankous Plain, and Hawsh al-Arab. That threat is serious because Alloush, who has set up his base of operations in the area, has returned from a visit to Saudi Arabia last week, where he met his financial and military authority, the director of Saudi intelligence Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

Bandar holds a strong military card with which to pressure the Lebanese interior: the deployment on the outskirts of the Bekaa of 3,000 to 5,000 Liwa al-Islam fighters and an armed battalion having 23 T-72 tanks.

September 29 2013

UN_inspectors back in syria for new chemical probes

#UN_inspectors back in #syria for new chemical probes

A UN convoy of vehicles carrying inspectors investigating a chemical weapons attack in Syria, drives through the Lebanese village of Taanayel after crossing into Lebanon from Syria on 31 August 2013. (Photo: AFP - Anwar Amro)

UN chemical weapons experts, in Syria to investigate alleged use of the banned arms, on Sunday left their Damascus hotel to carry out a new mission, an AFP photographer said. The experts, who arrived in the Syrian capital last Wednesday on (...)

#chemical_attack #Top_News

September 04 2013

Syrie : le scénario envisagé par le Sénat américain

Syrie : le scénario envisagé par le Sénat américain

Cette version du texte remplacerait celle envoyée au Congrès par la Maison Blanche samedi, et qui était considérée comme donnant trop de latitude au président.

Pas tout à fait selon le site Lawfare,

Lawfare › The Senate Draft AUMF for Syria is Narrower Than the Administration’s Draft, But Still Broad In Some Respects

Th[e] language is narrower than the administration’s draft.  It limits the use of force to “targets in Syria,” and has a more narrowly tailored purpose.  It would not give congressional sanction to the use of force outside of Syria (in, for example, Iran or Lebanon).  It would, however, authorize attacks on the Syrian command hierarchy in Syria, all the way up to Assad himself, as long as the President determined such attacks to be “necessary and appropriate” to respond to and deter and degrade Syrian WMDs.  (The “limited and tailored manner” qualification is not much of a restriction, since all DOD uses of force are, under the laws of war, proportionate and discriminate, and since the President is charged with determining what is necessary and appropriate in any event.)

Ground Troops “Limitation.”  Section 3 of the draft provides: “The authority granted in section 2 does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Syria for the purpose of combat operations.”

This is a limit on the authority conferred by Congress in Section 2, and not a limit on the President’s independent constitutional power to send ground troops into Syria, even for combat purposes.  Section 3 merely says that the congressional approval of the use of presidential force in Syria does not entail approval for the use of ground troops in Syria.  But it does not speak to, much less prevent, the President from using ground troops on his own authority.

Moreover, even the ground troop limitation on Congress’s authorization contains an exception for ground troops introduced into Syria for a purpose other than “combat operations.”  In other words, Sections 2 and 3 in combination affirmatively authorize the President to introduce U.S. ground troops in Syria for non-combat purposes if he thinks they are necessary and appropriate to achieve the purposes of the authorization.  Section 3 is probably written this way to capture the fact DOD Special Operations Forces are being used in Syria, or will be used there, for intelligence-related and other “preparation of the battlefield” tasks.  (I imagine, but of course do not know, that this is a nod to operational reality, since DOD has probably already sent Special Operations Forces into Syria, under the President’s Article II power, to prepare the battlefield.) It is also probably meant as a carve out for search-and-rescue missions, and the like, if necessary.

August 27 2013

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action » When America Attacked Syria

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action » When America Attacked Syria

While the United States was supposed to have been a neutral entity in Lebanon as part of the MNF, by summer 1983 it had openly sided with the pro-Israeli Lebanese government. To support the Lebanese military, the U.S.S. New Jersey was authorized to shell the Druze militia and Syrian military forces in the mountains surrounding Beirut. As Colin Powell later described the response: “When the shells started falling on the Shiites, they assumed the American ‘referee’ had taken sides against them. And since they could not reach the battleship, they found a more vulnerable target: the exposed Marines at the airport.”

August 20 2013

Why Western media frames civilian areas as “Hezbollah strongholds”

Why Western media frames civilian areas as “Hezbollah strongholds”

Introducing an array of IDF computer-generated slides that purport to identify existing Hezbollah weapons stores by marking large Xs in Shia-heavy civilian centers, the Israeli military then alleges:

“Hezbollah stores their weapons near schools, hospitals, and residential buildings in the village of al-Khiam (Khiyyam). They follow similar tactics in villages across southern Lebanon, essentially using the residents as human shields, in gross violation of UN Resolution 1701. al-Khiam was used as a rocket launching site during the Second Lebanon war.”

When I asked him about it, The Independent’s veteran Beirut-based journalist Robert Fisk scoffed at the IDF slide show: “The Israelis are making excuses for the next war crimes. The Scuds don’t exist, they’re not here. I’ve seen the (IDF) pictures – garbage. There’s nothing in those houses.”

Human Rights Watch’s extensive report on Israel’s 2006 attack on Lebanon, entitled Fatal Strikes: Israel’s Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon, covers at length the Jewish state’s unproven allegations that Hezbollah stashes weapons among civilian populations – charges that Israel continues to repeat despite evidence to the contrary.

The group’s Executive Director Kenneth Roth concludes: “The pattern of attacks shows the Israeli military’s disturbing disregard for the lives of Lebanese civilians. Our research shows that Israel’s claim that Hezbollah fighters are hiding among civilians does not explain, let alone justify, Israel’s indiscriminate warfare… In the many cases of civilian deaths examined by Human Rights Watch, the location of Hezbollah troops and arms had nothing to do with the deaths because there was no Hezbollah around.”

August 07 2013

More Kids Pushed Into Labour in Lebanon

More Kids Pushed Into Labour in Lebanon

With Lebanon fraying at the seams under pressure from the neighbouring Syria conflict and the economy stuttering amid a political vacuum, more and more children are being pushed into labour.  

There are no concrete statistics, but the ministry of labour has raised its 2006 estimate of 100,000 child workers in the country to 180,000.

The real figure is “significantly higher” due to the extraordinary circumstances of the past two years, head of the ministry’s child labour unit Nazha Shallita told IPS. Lebanon has a population of 4.2 million.

“As Lebanon struggles to deal with the huge influx of Syrian refugees, along with a general decline in the economic and security situation in the country, not to mention the absence of a government, we are witnessing more and more children being forced into work,” Hayat Osseiran, a Lebanon-based consultant for the International Labour Organisation and the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour, told IPS.

August 05 2013

NYC dabke dancers respond to ZviDance 'Israeli Dabke'

NYC dabke dancers respond to ZviDance ’Israeli Dabke’

ZviDance, a New York based dance company founded by Israeli-born dancer and choreographer Zvi Gotheiner, has appropriated Dabke and added it to their repertoire, performing at multiple venues and most recently, as part of Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors festival. Although ZviDance acknowledges that Dabke’s roots are in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine, the Company fails to realize that by performing Dabke and labeling it Israeli, they are engaging in cultural appropriation. We acknowledge that culture is fluid but so long as there is inequality, there can be no cultural exchange.

August 04 2013

Fleeing Syria, Palestinians find little support from their brethren in Lebanon -

Fleeing Syria, Palestinians find little support from their brethren in Lebanon -

Peu de soutien car peu de moyens.

Upon arrival at the Lebanese border, Syrian nationals are granted free six-month visas with one renewal, effectively granting them legal residency for one year. But Palestinians must purchase a five-day visa that costs $17 and can’t be extended more than 10 days, although UNRWA says that recent lobbying has prompted the government to waive this fee, at least temporarily.

After that, they must purchase renewable three-month visas for up to a year for $33 each. After one year, both the Syrian and Palestinian refugees must pay $200 for a renewable six-month visa.

Despite the many challenges their arrival poses, Richards notes that there are no reports of Palestinians either being sent back or arrested for failing to maintain the frequent visa renewals required to maintain legal status.

But stories abound of refugees, particularly Palestinians, being refused entry elsewhere – at Syria’s border with Jordan.

“It’s clear that the number of refugees is having an impact [in Lebanon], but they’re still letting them in,” she says. “Sometimes, we need to also acknowledge the positives, the small victories.”


July 14 2013

Instability scaring off some oil, gas bidders | Business , Lebanon | THE DAILY STAR

Instability scaring off some oil, gas bidders | Business , Lebanon | THE DAILY STAR

L’article expose aussi le point de vue de Mohammad Kabani, député du 14 mars, qui presse pour une exploitation rapide des hydrocarbures situés près de la frontière maritime, craignant une mainmise isréalienne sur ces ressources

Head of Lebanon’s energy parliamentary committee MP Mohammad Qabbani said Thursday that Lebanon had four months to come up with a plan to safeguard its oil and gas wealth.

“Lebanon should start drilling from the south of our exclusive economic zone in the first licensing round to guarantee our rights. ... The priority should be given to the border blocks 8, 9, and 10 which are in close proximity to Karish,” the MP told a news conference.

He also called for the establishment of a national oil and gas company, adding that a draft law would be prepared in this regard.

Bashir Bassatne, manager of BB Energy, echoed Qabbani’s call to start awarding contracts for blocks in the EEZ’s southern region. He added that reservoirs in the area were most likely to stretch across the borders not only with Israel but also with Cyprus.

“In the absence of an agreement to divide natural resources, an unlikely outcome [given Lebanon and Israel’s state of war], it will be a race over who exploits the wealth first,” he said.


July 09 2013

Six rules of thumb for writing on Sunni/ Shiite concepts - English | Front Page

Six rules of thumb for writing on Sunni/ Shiite concepts - English | Front Page

Sur Al-Arabiya...

Fourth: when you hear people in Muslim communities or in the Middle East speaking in Sunni-Shiite terms, or analyzing events with reference to an age old civil war, or fearing a Shiite alliance from Iran through Iraq to Syria then Lebanon, or calling for a Sunni stance; when you hear that do not take that as statements about the actual facts out there rather ask yourself why do people insist on looking at events in such an archaic way? It is well known that all peoples place their political conflicts within a bigger narrative; and the question should be: Why do many Muslims insist on this narrative? When did it start to become a widely used one? How did the Islamic Revolution of Iran influence that? Most importantly what other narratives exist out there? We hear all the time of people saying its not a Sunni-Shiite thing… but for some reason those calls are not taken to be narratives about what is going on. Many observers prefer to consider them attempts to make things different.

The myth of the 1,400 year Sunni-Shia war - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

As described by the Saudi writer Abdullah Hamiddadin, this explanation of contemporary events is as absurd as explaining modern tensions between Turkey and the EU as being rooted in the ancient conflict between King Charles and the Empress of Byzantium. Positing that present-day political rivalries can be explained by examining ninth-century conflicts between European powers is transparent nonsense. However, the same logic is readily applied to conflicts within the Muslim world.

Lebanon : The Oil & Gas Week, July 08, 2013 | Middle East Strategic Perspectives

Lebanon : The Oil & Gas Week, July 08, 2013 | Middle East Strategic Perspectives
Intéressante analyse des enjeux de l’appel d’offres pour le forage du gaz au large du Liban

Beyond Israeli threats, the main message of the conference was the more familiar argument of proceeding with offshore oil and gas exploration without delays and respecting Lebanon’s commitments and deadlines, made particularly hard after the resignation of the Mikati cabinet in March 2013, before the adoption of two important decrees related to the definition of offshore blocks and their coordinates and the adoption of a model exploration and production contract. A caretaker cabinet cannot, in principle, adopt decrees, the Constitution restricting the exercise of its powers to the management of day-to-day affairs. But in certain circumstances, a caretaker cabinet may be authorized to adopt new decrees. Bassil, and the FPM, have been lobbying – unsuccessfully so far – the President, Parliament Speaker and caretaker PM to authorize a cabinet meeting in order to approve the two decrees. The reference to Israeli threats, a unifying factor in Lebanon, may convince them of the need to hold a cabinet meeting and adopt the decrees. It remains to be seen if this latest attempt to push for a cabinet meeting will be more successful. Bassil seems to have caught the attention of caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, a member of Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal Movement, who asserted that appropriate measures will be taken to counter Israeli threats.


July 04 2013

Playing Politics With Religion -

Playing Politics With Religion -


The fact that Bashar al-Assad is an Alawite and that many of the leading military forces are controlled by Alawite officers is an obviously salient factor in exacerbating sectarian tensions in Syria. But the regime is not Alawite in any religious sense. Like the ostensibly “Sunni” regime of Saddam Hussein that long brutalized Iraq, it is essentially despotic.


The main characteristic of these regimes has not been sectarianism; they manipulate any division among their people to secure and keep power. By contrast, the dynasties of Saudi Arabia and Qatar reject religious pluralism as a matter of state ideology. Both countries have encouraged an extraordinary outpouring of sectarian incitement against the Shiites of the Arab world in a bid to retain absolute power and to undermine what they regard as their most formidable regional foe: Shiite Iran. Tehran has close ties to Damascus and is patron to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

But the intervention by Saudi Arabia and Qatar against the Assad regime is not necessarily for sectarian reasons. Rather, both monarchies have secular interests, namely preserving the region's pro-Western petroleum order, which provides great benefits to the Saud and Thani regimes. To the extent that they are involved in a major struggle against Iran, they do so in explicit coordination with the United States.

Thus the sectarian dimension cannot and must not be isolated from the far more obvious and salient secular geopolitical one. It is politics that pushes sectarianism, that provides it with the enabling context, and that now encourages and legitimates the devastating violence across sectarian lines that is ravaging Syria and Iraq and Lebanon.

#instrumentalisation_du_religieux ressorts du #sectarisme #moyen_orient #géopolitique

Es-ce un signe de l'approfondissement du désaccord entre Aoun et le Hezbollah - prorogation de la…

Es-ce un signe de l'approfondissement du désaccord entre Aoun et le Hezbollah - prorogation de la chambre, de Kahwagi, contentieux Aoun-Berry, ... - ou bien un simple message d'avertissement envoyé par le général au cheikh Nasrallah ? En tout cas Aoun a rencontré l'ambassadeur saoudien au Liban Ali Awad Asiri :

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Lebanon paid a rare visit Tuesday to Hezbollah's main Christian ally Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, but sources from his party said the talks were not a sign that the veteran leader was shifting alliances.
Hours before the visit, Ambassador Ali Awad Asiri said that Hezbollah's involvement in Syria endangered Lebanon's stability and that the group should revise its policy toward Sunnis and other sects.
Sources said that the visit that Asiri paid to Aoun was the result of a series of contacts between the Saudi Embassy and the FPM in Beirut over the past few months.
They said that Asiri had expressed interest in meeting Aoun, so the latter invited him to lunch.
Ties between Aoun, an ally of Hezbollah, and Riyadh have been strained since the lawmaker shifted cut his allegiance to the March 14 coalition and backed the rival Hezbollah-led March 8 camp instead.
Aoun has repeatedly accused Saudi officials of siding with March 14.
However, in an apparent thawing of relations, caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil, Aoun's son-in-law, visited Asiri in April.
The sources denied that Aoun had reached a deal with Asiri which would pave the way for him to break with March 8, backed by Iran and Syria.
“The issue is not that simple. A meeting during a lunch will not result in a deal between Aoun and a group with whom he is in disagreement over several issues,” one source said.

Et un représentant du CPL de « rassurer » :

Tony Nasrallah, responsable au Courant patriotique libre
“Il ne faut accorder à la rencontre entre le général Aoun et l'ambassadeur d'Arabie saoudite plus d'importance qu'elle ne mérite. Il n'y a aucun retournement dans la position du Courant patriotique libre. L'alliance entre le CPL et le Hezbollah est stratégique, elle est basée sur une amitié plus solide que ce que certains s'imaginent. Les deux partis sont à bord d'un même navire.

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