If I am against Assad, it doesn’t mean I am with…

A simple explanation for simple minded pro dictatorships people.

If I am against Assad, it doesn’t mean I am with Daesh nor any form of regressive Islamist forces in Syria. (And by the way, you have a MULTITUDE of sides in Syria).

If I am against Assad, it doesn’t mean I support the USA nor Israel. It doesn’t mean I stand with American imperialism. Nor with its involvement in Syria. (very limited compared to the Russian “invitation”).

If I am against Assad, it doesn’t mean I support Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE. It doesn’t mean I support Erdogan. It doesn’t mean I support the Saudi onslaught on Yemen. It doesn’t mean I support the Saudi invasion of Bahrain.

© Chris Riddell

If I am against Hezbollah invasion of Syria, it doesn’t mean I do not stand with the right of self-determination in Palestine, it doesn’t mean I am a Zionist.

If I am against Hezbollah invasion of Syria, it doesn’t mean I want peace with Israel.

If I am against Assad, it means that I am with the downfall of all dictatorships and dynasties. The dynasties of the gulf, and the dictatorships of the world, including Iran and Russia. And hey, no, it doesn’t mean I love the system in US and other parts of the world.

Go on, treat me as an Arab traitor, treat me and condemn me with your simple and unjust perception of the world. I will always stand with oppressed Syrians under the repressive regime of Bashar el Assad and regressive factions, and I will always stand with the oppressed Palestinians under the repressive Zionist colonial state.

I do not need your approvals nor your sad strategy of “resistance”.

Students Harassed by Online pro-Hezbollah Crowd.

At the moment of writing, Aleppo rebel held areas are collapsing one after the other under the heavy bombardments of Assad and Putin. The aerial bombing is helping the ‘Syrian army’ and various militias on the ground, mainly funded or trained by Iran. The bombing does NOT differentiate between civilians and rebels. Aleppo has been under siege for 110 days.

In Lebanon, Beirut. The American Universty of Beirut (AUB) Secular club held a silent vigil for the victims in Aleppo on December 6th 2016. Students held signs, some of the latter were protesting Hezbollah intervention in Aleppo. The protest triggered  violent online reactions from some Hezbollah supporters. The club hid the face of a protester for security reasons, but not the message itself.

Due to the multitude of disrespectful comments, death threats, and rape threats that were being posted on a photo…

Publiée par AUB Secular Club sur Mercredi 7 décembre 2016

 

Karim Safieddine, a member of the AUB Secular Club, reflects on the nature of the online attacks.

A few comments on the reaction many activists received by some of the pro-Hezbollah community online.

These activists, mainly part of the AUB Secular Club, engaged in a demonstration concerned with the on-going battle in Aleppo. As a Lebanese political and military organization, Hezbollah was taken into account as it intervened in the Syrian conflict and is responsible for the survival of the Syrian government and much of its policies.

The demonstration was purely political, as these activists held political ideals they expressed quite freely. To no surprise, when politics intersects with the concept of ‘religious duty’, ‘sacredness’ and martyrs, it’s no longer a political question, but an absolute answer. Hezbollah’s attaching of ‘sacredness’ to their political and military intervention in Syria lead to an enormous sensitivity among its youth circles.

The very ‘sacredness’ attached to the intervention of course renders it unquestionable, as in, it must be taken for granted. It’s the apriori.

This doesn’t completely differ from the pro-rebel Islamist reaction when activists critique them, it’s all ‘sacred’, from both opposing poles.

Besides that, it’s quite interesting to observe the backlash. Much of it wasn’t politically-oriented. There were no moral or clever analyses. The backlash was centered around ‘honor’ and insults made towards the ‘women’ of the demonstrators (as if we own ‘our women’).

In other words, the backlash was based on the clear patriarchal and man-based honor culture Hezbollah, as a political organization, is based on; almost identical to the Lebanese Forces during the civil war actually.

As expected, much of the remaining section of the community was mainly silently supportive. The blame would be put on the activists for expressing their views (“lesh la t7ot 7alak b hek maw2ef? why are you putting yourself in such a situation? “); they were then asked not to ‘generalize’.

Comrades such as Farah Baba (who received rape threats), Nour Hawila, Ali Zeineddine and many more have encountered countless sexist insults and harassment. This isn’t a recent and entirely new event, it’s one of a sequence.

Again, we repeat, quite frankly, that what’s happening in Aleppo is a massacre and Hezbollah is complicit in its active military support of the regime.

 

 

On The Allies We’re Not Proud Of: A Palestinian Response to Troubling Discourse on Syria.

Palestinians wrote and signed a petition: “On The Allies We’re Not Proud Of: A Palestinian Response to Troubling Discourse on Syria”

We, the undersigned Palestinians, write to affirm our commitment to the amplification of Syrian voices as they endure slaughter and displacement at the hands of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. We are motivated by our deep belief that oppression, in all of its manifestations, should be the primary concern of anyone committed to our collective liberation. Our vision of liberation includes the emancipation of all oppressed peoples, regardless of whether or not their struggles fit neatly into outdated geopolitical frameworks.

We are concerned by some of the discourse that has emerged from progressive circles with regards to the ongoing crisis in Syria. In particular, we are embarrassed by the ways in which some individuals known for their work on Palestine have failed to account for some crucial context in their analysis of Syria.

The Syrian revolution was in fact a natural response to 40 years of authoritarian rule. The Assad regime, with the support of its foreign financial and military backers, is attempting to preserve its power at the expense of the millions of Syrians whom the regime has exiled, imprisoned, and massacred. We believe that minimizing this context in any discussion of Syria dismisses the value of Syrian self-determination and undermines the legitimacy of their uprising.

We also believe that an important consequence of all foreign interventions, including those purportedly done on behalf of the uprising, has been the setback of the original demands of revolution. The revolution is a victim, not a product, of these interventions. It is imperative for any analysis of Syria to recognize this fundamental premise. We cannot erase the agency of Syrians struggling for liberation, no matter how many players are actively working against them.

Though we maintain that the phenomenon of foreign aid demands thorough critique, we are concerned by the ways in which foreign aid has been weaponized to cast suspicion on Syrian humanitarian efforts. Foreign aid is not unique to Syria; it is prevalent in Palestine as well. We reject the notion that just because an organization is receiving foreign aid, it must follow then that that organization is partaking in some shadowy Western-backed conspiracy. Such nonsense has the effect of both undermining humanitarian efforts while simultaneously whitewashing the very crimes against humanity that necessitated the aid in the first place.

Furthermore, we object to the casual adoption of “war on terror” language. Enemies of liberation have historically used this rhetoric to target humanitarians, organizers, and community members. From Muhammad Salah to the Midwest 23 to the Holy Land Five, our community is all too familiar with the very real consequence of employing a “war on terror” framework. Therefore, we reject a discourse that perpetuates these old tactics and peddles harmful and unwarranted suspicion against Syrians.

Along these lines, it is our position that any discussion of Syria that neglects the central role of Bashar Al-Assad and his regime in the destruction of Syria directly contradicts the principles of solidarity by which we abide. We have reflected on our own tendency to heroize those who advocate on behalf of the Palestinian struggle, and we fear that some members of our community may have prioritized the celebrity status of these individuals over the respect and support we owe to those Syrians affected most directly by the war, as well as those living in the diaspora whose voices have been dismissed as they have watched their homeland be destroyed.

We will no longer entertain individuals who fail to acknowledge the immediate concerns of besieged Syrians in their analysis. Despite reaching out to some of these individuals, they have shown an unwillingness to reflect on the impact of their analysis. We regret that we have no choice left but to cease working with these activists whom we once respected.

We would like to encourage others who are guided by similar principles to do the same.

Why should everyone join the Anti-Racist protest today?

Today, July 18th 2016, in Lebanon, Beirut, an anti-racist march will begin at 6:30PM at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Achrafieh and will end at the Ministry of Interior in Sanayeh.

 

Why should everyone join the Anti-Racist protest today?

Refugees and migrants face racism in Lebanon. They are the scapegoat of our problems that are present since before the Syrian civil war.

Electricity? The Syrians.
Water? The Syrians.
Garbage? The Syrians.
Security? The Syrians of course.

Syrians and Palestinians and many other nationalities fled war and death, just to face state racism in Lebanon. Migrants face an open-air prison with the Kafala system, where the employer effectively “own” the employee.

Join this protest if you don’t believe that every town and neighborhood should have a watch against “strangers”. Join this protest if you believe that the nationality of a terrorist doesn’t determine how the totality of a population should be treated. Do some people really believe that a curfew will ameliorate Lebanon security? Do some people really believe that terrorist groups will run away to their homes at 8pm and that will stop their attacks against Lebanon?

I hate to speak in this manner, but in 9/11, four planes were hijacked, two planes infamously crushed against the twin towers in New York, one plane against the Pentagon, and the fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, it was brought down after the resistance of passengers. The hijacker and pilot of the fourth plane was a Lebanese national: Ziad Jarrah. Does it matter? Not really, but bigots and racists need to ask themselves: would you be pleased to have all the Lebanese in USA under a curfew, because it happened that a Lebanese was lunatic enough to join AL Qaeda? Would you find it just? Fair? If the answer is yes, then you have other serious issues of self-blame.

That I need to use this fact as an example is problematic in itself, what if all of them were Saudis? Would you accept the bigotry? What if Steve Jobs wasn’t partly Syrian? Who would have Banksy drawn on the walls of the Jungle, the infamous refugee camp in France?

Can’t we see that racism, bigotry, and stupid bigoted generalizations have led us to a civil war in the past? Today it is the Syrian, tomorrow, it might be (or it is already) the Palestinian, the Sunni, the Christian, the Shia, the Druze, the Jew, the Maronite, the homosexual, the black, the Arab, the handicapped ..
The other.

The other is only the other if we want to make it so.

Today, it is important to join to show the refugees and migrants, that some people in Lebanon will stand by them, and help them to lead by themselves the struggle against state racism and racism in our streets.

This year, enjoy the Baalbek festival with a curfew against Syrian refugees.

Yesterday, Monday 11th of July 2016, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported that the governor of the Baalbek-Hermel governorate, Bashir Khodor, will enforce a new strengthened curfew for Syrians in the district, from 6PM to 6AM, instead of 8PM to 6AM. The governor said the curfew was to be strengthened during the Baalbek Festival, an annual and renowned festival held in the town. Few hours later, the governor denied it and said that the curfew will remain as it is. No official statement or paper show the reversal of the decision.

Racism in Lebanon isn’t a new story. For decades the Lebanese state institutional racism has limited and restricted the rights of Palestinian refugees, and it is now scapegoating the totality of Syrian refugees in Lebanon for so-called security. The curfew imposed on Syrians in Lebanon isn’t new, dozens of municipalities, as Aley, enforced it since 2013. But it is the first time that an entire muhafaza, or governorate, imposes a curfew.

The curfew was imposed after many suicide attacks targeted the small town of Qaa, which is close to the Syrian border. The police found out that the bombers of Syrian nationalities all came from Syria.

The restriction on movement is inhumane and unjustified, and it is reminiscent on the Zionist regime restriction on the movement of Palestinians. Artists who are performing this year in the festival must boycott the festival until an official statement from the governor lifts the tightening of the curfew.

Sign the following petition by clicking here.

Petition in full.

On Monday, July 11th, 2016, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported that the Baalbek-Hermel governorate will impose a curfew for Syrian refugees from 6 PM to 6 AM during the upcoming annual Baalbek International Festival, which takes place from Friday, July 22, 2016 until August, 28, 2016.

While Governor Bashir Khoder verbally denied extending the existing refugee curfew, no official statements have been passed by the Baalbek-Hermel governorate indicating that the NNA reported false news.

Many areas in East Lebanon have already imposed tight curfews on Syrian refugees, and more have been imposed after the recent attacks in the village of Al-Qaa, where 7 suicide attacks took place in late June, murdering 5 and wounding 28 others. While Governor Khoder and the Baalbek-Hermel governorate may consider the massacre in Al Qaa and recent threats around the country to be reference points, the Lebanese Internal Security Forces confirmed that the attackers were not refugees or among them; in fact, they came through the Lebanese-Syrian border.

This is a form of collective punishment and a racist policy to implement on people who are fleeing from such atrocities. We believe that these values do not reflect Baalbek International Festival and their performers.

Therefore, we call on the Baalbek-Hermel Governorate to release an official statement denying the curfews, or to reverse them.

We also call on the this year’s performers to cancel their performances unless these policies are lifted. This year’s performers are the following:

Caracalla Dance Theater – Saturday, July 23

Jean Michel Jarre – Saturday, July 30

Mika – Thursday, August 4

Bob James Quartet – Friday, August 12

Abeer Nehme – Friday, August 19

Lisa Simone – Sunday, August 21

Shereen Abdel Wahab – Friday, August 26

Jose Van Dam Meets Carlos Gardel – Sunday, August 28

We also call on ticket-holders and potential ticket-holders to stand on the side of human rights, justice, and dignity, and boycott Baalbek International Festival 2016 unless these unfair curfews stop taking place.

 

 

UN is a failure, here’s why.

UN is a failure in the way it was built and in the way it is dealing with conflicts.

UN Security assembly, the permanent five, a “vetocracy”.

When I was a child, school taught me that five members of the security council were permanent. They are sitting there because they have “won” World War Two. If one member-state of the security council disagreed, it had veto power. It means that the permanent member can stop the adoption of any “substantive” draft Council resolution, regardless of the level of international support for the draft. School (and life itself) also taught me that it is not very democratic to have one voice against all the others.

The five permanent members of the security council constitutes just another set for adversity between, but not exclusively, France, the UK, the USA on one side, and China and Russia on the other.

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The Security Council meet at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City, 2005. Jim Watson-AFP/Getty Images

 

A recent example was the vetoing from China and Russia against a draft resolution that condemned the state of Syria. (05/22/2014). Russia is fully and militarily supporting the Syrian government since September 2015.

World war two has not ended a very long time ago, but in a few dozens of years, when the politics and power dynamics will be completely altered, the position of five permanent members will be understandably and inevitably challenged. In 2055, 110 years after the end of WW2, how much “the winners” of WW2 will still matter to new generations? How logical will it sound? And more practically, how many countries will want to have their own place among “the permanents”?

The permanent members existence is a denial of democracy.

UN patches up conflicts, doesn’t really stop them or prevent them. 

UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, is the example I can relate to. UNIFIL deployed in Lebanon in 1978 to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon which Israel had invaded 5 days prior. Its goals are to restore “international peace and security” and help the government of Lebanon restore its effective authority in the area.
UNIFIL is still active, it has witnessed many Israeli invasions, and worse, their compound has been directly bombed by the “Israeli Defense Forces” in the sad massacre of Qana in 1996.
On April 18 1996, the IDF bombed a UN compound where civilians had taken refuge amid heavy fighting between IDF and Hezbollah, during the Israeli Operation “Grapes of Wrath”. A UN investigation found that it was unlikely that Israeli shelling was a procedural or a technical error; an Israeli drone was spying on the compound before the shelling. More than 800 people were taking refuge in the compound, 106 civilians died in 17 minutes of constant shelling. Two thirds of the shells were equipped with proximity fuses, meaning that the weapon explode above the ground, to kill more.

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French peacekeepers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) take part in a military parade to mark Bastille Day in the French UNIFIL base in Tiri village, southern Lebanon,14 July 2010. (Photo: REUTERS – Ali Hashisho)

Israel was never really punished, despite a decision from the General Assembly stating that Israel should be the one paying for the $1.7 million needed to repair the compound. They voted every year until 2003 with the same pattern, one-third for, one-third abstaining and two voices against belonging to Israel and USA.

UN General Assembly vote.

If you ever wondered why we see so many resolutions but no real actions, its explanation is simple.

The UN General Assembly is democratic, where one state equals one vote. They could pass resolutions with a simple majority or with two-thirds from the member’s states present and voting. Two thirds are required when they are dealing with “important questions”, i.e. the matters that deal with international peace and security and UN internal matters. But resolutions are generally non-binding, meaning they have no real legal power and consequences. A resolution is really just a piece of paper. The real power lies within the Security Council, where “vetocracy” and political adversity reigns.

Questionable morality and impartiality. 

UN wish of impartiality is understandable, but it usually ends in a moral and political fiasco. Impartiality is often an obstacle against action.

In Syria, the UN asks the green light from the Syrian regime to deliver basic humanitarian aid. Despite the regime almost constant refusal to allow the delivery of aid, a UN official said it would be too dangerous to deliver aid without the government consent, reported the Washington Post.
But how can the UN ask for the consent of the party responsible for so many besieged areas in Syria?

In a letter addressed to Stephen O’Brien, the UN undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, 112 Syrian civil society activists accused the agency of complicity in government-imposed blockades that violate the laws of war. The activists wrote that international law and that a 2014 UN Security council resolution oblige all warring parties not to disrupt the delivery of humanitarian aid.
In other words, the UN is violating its own resolutions in Syria, and its desire of impartiality is sadly indirectly helping the suffering of the Syrian people.

Security Council Meeting: The situation in the Middle East - Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of Security Council.
Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator briefs Security Council on humanitarian situation in Syria. Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

UN is also subject to the Syrian regime “inputs” into its documents and reports. In an alarming report from Foreign Policy, the newspaper discovered that the U.N, after consulting with the Syrian government, “altered dozens of passages and omitted pertinent information to paint the government of Bashar al-Assad in a more favorable light”. The UN doesn’t deny this.

Linda Tom, an OCHA spokeswoman replied that “it is standard procedure in each country for the UN to consult with the government of the country”. Amanda Pitt added more: “I assume it was done in consultation with a range of partners including the Government, as is normal practice”, she said in an e-mail to Foreign Policy.

More recently, Stephen O’Brien told the security council that the organization will formally ask the Syrian government to approve airdrops of humanitarian aid. The Syrian government has said there is no need for airdrops because no one is starving.
The decision to use airdrops was taken by US, Russia, and other powers. The use of airdrops was to be applied if the Syrian regime refused aid to be delivered by land.

UN is subject to pressure from countries over its decisions.

Earlier this month, U.N put Saudi Arabia in a blacklist of nations and armed groups responsible for killing children. Saudi Arabia didn’t stay very long on the list; UN removed it after pressure from Saudi Arabia itself. Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition that is bombing relentlessly Yemen since March 2015. Saudi Arabia and its coalition are responsible of 60 per cent of the 785 children killed in Yemen last year, according to the UN.

UN bowed down to Saudi Arabia after mounting pressure and threats from the Kingdom and its coalition to remove their financing from UNRWA, the UN agency that deal with Palestinian refugees.

“Bullying, threat, pressure”, a diplomatic source told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The source added it was “real blackmail”.

Vote manipulation. 

Saudi Arabia didn’t only remove the blacklisting with pressure, it has its own seat on the UN Human Rights Council because of a phony deal with Britain. In 2013, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia gained a seat in the UNHRC, in an “exchange of support”. It was basically trading votes and money. The Saudi Cables that were released last year in 2015 by Wikileaks revealed an alarming case. UN watch, an NGO based in Geneva, translated the cables.

“The ministry might find it an opportunity to exchange support with the United Kingdom, where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would support the candidacy of the United Kingdom to the membership of the council for the period 2014-2015 in exchange for the support of the United Kingdom to the candidacy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Another cable uncovered that KSA transferred $100,000 for “expenditures resulting from the campaign to nominate the Kingdom for membership of the human rights council for the period 2014-2016”.

Recently, Amnesty and Human Rights Watch urged UN member-states to suspend Saudi Arabia from the UNHRC over the killings of civilians in Yemen and repression in their own territory.

UN is a failure because of its structure, the security council is a place where bickering powerful nations deal with each other, on the other side, its extreme impartiality pushes the agency to inaction and to asking dictators to allow helping starving civilians. Votes can be bought, it is dependent on funds and will bow down to pressure from unhappy and unsatisfied countries.

The United Nations should be either heavily reformed, or dismantled to let space for the creation of an agency that will at least ensure quick help of civilians in war-torn countries. It should be funded by individuals, not governments.

On Al-Manar ban and Censorship.

I grew up with al Manar always on the TV in my house, and to this day Anti-Israeli and Anti-Saudi and pro-Resistance songs reach my ears, my changing positions made me gradually reject al Manar and almost everything behind the channel. To me it’s only a channel of propaganda, brain-washing the pro Hezbollah followers to stand with the intervention in Syria, which I passionately oppose.

The ban against al Manar by first Arabsat and recently the Egyptian-based Nilesat is of course a political ban, another step in the growing tensions between Hezbollah and the governments of the Gulf. It’s the ban of Hezbollah propaganda from other propagandists in the region.

Despite being a direct propagandist, Al Manar should be able to broadcast in the “Arab world”, even if the channel isn’t completely harmless in my point of view, because it pushes you to support Assad (despite all his documented war crimes and his bloody repression against the people of Syria) and thus dehumanizing the struggle in Syria.

Al Manar ban makes you question censorship itself. Censorship is always about politics and power when you receive it or give it. This interpretation may seem simplistic, but if you have the ability to censor, then you have either institutions under your hand to help you ban your enemy, or you have to ability to wield forceful and violent direct power against the institutions, such as physical attacks against newspapers and TV stations that some people don’t agree with.

And isn’t self-censorship also about power? The power of your context to control you without even telling you, by sending you signals to stop you? And I don’t want to enter the structural model of Freud.

I won’t judge censorship and label it to be “good or bad”. But I believe censorship should be wielded when some media become too dangerous, and I always think about the Rwandan genocide here and the example of the Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLMC) (English: “Thousand Hills Free Radio and Television”). The Radio played a significant role in growing the hatred against the Tutsi, and a study by the Harvard university found out that the radio incited murder against 9,9% of the murders against the Tutsi! That doesn’t mean that the ban of the radio would have prevented the genocide, or even the 9,9% of the genocide. But shouldn’t dangerous stations and TV’s be stopped? Shouldn’t one try to stop a person shouting that we should kill all of X, Y and Z? Would that be censorship? Or just common sense?

If al Manar employees were directly shouting to kill a whole people X, Y, and Z, then I would happy to see it banned, and even shut down. You could argue that they already do so with “Al mawt li Isra2il” and “Al mawt li Amreeka”, death to Israel and America. But the TV broadcasting it, and the hundreds of thousands of people shouting it every year, are saying Israel not “Israelis” and America, not “Americans”.  One must understand why so many people voice that in Lebanon, and the world.

The question then is what do you do with the channels and newspapers, consciously directing hatred and blame against a certain people? (I can think of Fox News here). You fight them with your thoughts, protests, pressure. You don’t want to help the illusion that these people are alienated by effectively and directly alienating them with censorship. The victimization that will occur will only help them.  One should fight not to censor these kind of channels, like al-Manar and most of the Lebanese channels really, but to render them as objects of pariah. Those will eventually disappear in isolation, and shut themselves down. You do that with alternative media, voices that will not educate and patronize the “others” but that will produce valuable debates, questions and information.

The whole idea can be summarized as such: to fight shit, produce non shit. (Or at least try).

 

The Lebanese civil war 41 years later.

This is not a post to try to explain the Lebanese Civil War, but to remember, and to eventually move on.

We must remember the absurdity of war, death, destruction, and the subsequent Nihilism. We must take a look at our past and be shocked by the amount of nonsense that this country has witnessed over 15 years, and is still witnessing. The war can’t be clearly explained, lines could follow, the Palestinian question can enter the scheme, Syria, Saudi Arabia, France, the Murabitoun, the Christian extreme-right, the nationalism, fascism, extremism. We must remember Israel and its rain of bombs.

We must remember their faces, Geagea, Pierre, Bachir and Amine Gemayel, Nabih Berri, Hassan Nasrallah, Kamal and Walid Jumblatt, Camille and Dany Chamoun, Yasser Arafat, we must save their faces and paste their images into our heads. These are the faces we should look at with not only anger and indignation, but pity, and a strong wish for fair justice.

We must not try to explain too much the war, but we must analyse what has kept the war lords of yesterday as our politicians today. We must look at the Taef agreement and spit on it. We must deeply think and explain their tools to stay in power: neoliberalism, despotism, clientelism, and of course, the sectarian system, the use of religion, God, and finally, identitarian politics. The use of the identities to rule over one own identity and to fight with others.

Most importantly, we must completly reject and fight the Lebanese identity to explain our so-called importance regarding the Syrian refugees or Palestinian refugees, or really, everyone and everything non-Lebanese. This is racism and lead to apparently innocent statements as: “Lebanese have more rights to fair pay and fair jobs than the Syrian refugees, it’s our country” This statement could be easily transformed into “The Lebanese state can’t allow other Lebanese or non-Lebanese to mock our symbols, the Cedar, the flag, the national anthem”. And that already exists by law. Palestinians and Syrians often laugh on this, saying they have less rights than the Lebanese flag, which is true.

We must fight and stop everyone talking in the name of their sect, as if he was designated to be their spokesperson . “Nahna l shi3a, nahna l sunna, nahna l massi7iye, nahna l druze”. “We the Shia, we the Sunna, we the Christians, we the Druze”. If you hear someone talking like this, just stop him. It’s easy, I do it. And of course, a so called political leader of the ruling class isn’t more representative of his sect. So reject them.

We must remember, and hope it won’t happen again. “Tenzakar w ma ten3ad”. We must remember the 17,000 disappeared, those are mostly forgotten. We must fight to retrieve them, or at least I fear, their bodies.

We won’t have a better Lebanon if we keep following those “leaders”, and if we don’t think about an alternative system, not only a secular one, but a socialist one, one that wouldn’t allow the oppressor and the oppressed game, one that would allow less differences between rich and poor (and eventually none?). Let’s reject the shallow and lazy statement that “It’s has always been like that”. No it hasn’t always been like that.

Finally, let’s not exclude the Syrian and Palestinian refugees from society, alienation won’t help anyone, and will also trigger more tensions between the different people of this country. We shall not feel kinder if we do, or even prouder, those politicians just need to be more humane, but they won’t, so let’s oust them.

“Ma nrabe7 7alna jmile” if we include Syrians, Palestinians, migrant workers, everything non-Lebanese, let’s not applaud ourselves. Let’s go beyond nationalities. It’s our role not to exlude them first. Let’s not be patronising about it.

 

Malala celebrates her 18th birthday by inaugurating a school for refugees in Bekaa, Lebanon.

“Invest in books, not bullets” advocated Malala during her speech for the inauguration of a girls school in Bekaa, Lebanon. Malala is a Pakistani young adult, she won the Nobel peace prize in 2014, making her the youngest winner ever.

Lebanon has witnessed the huge influx of Syrian refugees since 2011. Days ago, UNHCR announced that the number of Syrian refugees attained 4 millions persons. Lebanon has today among its population about 1.2M refugees. It has also the highest ratio of refugees in the world, Lebanon has a population of 4 Millions.

Malala Yousafzai is today not only the symbolical young face of peace but she’s also a face of resistance against patriarchal societies.

The Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, not far from the Syrian inland, has today more than 400,000 of refugees. Roughly half of them are toddlers, children or teenagers.

A young Syrian girl in a refugee camp in Bekaa, Lebanon

The UN agency that managed the refugees, the UNHCR has very low funds to help those in need.

When Malala says “Invest in Books, not in Bullets” it may sound simplistic and symbolical. But she has all the reasons to claim that. Just 8 days of global military spending could fund 12 years of free, quality education for every child on the planet. A year of global military spending could fund roughly 547.2 years of free quality education! Picture the huge amount of money that goes towards war and destruction.

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The war in Syria, which is now in its 4th year, is depriving the young Syrians of school.  A single school brings much needed hope.

Finally, Lebanon’s government decides to actively fight religious extremists of Arsal.

The state tries to neutralise the army of Lebanon and is intelligent in doing so, but it should try to neutralise it by action, not inaction, the action of attacking the extremists with the backing of all political factions and all religious authorities.

The Hezbollah position of fighting against extremists of Arsal is politically dangerous because it gives the picture of a Shia-Sunni fight and this picture is explainable though not justifiable. It also gives the image of supporting Assad, and it is true, Hezbollah is directly Assad through this battle, but it is also, and most importantly, defending Lebanon of the Nusra front and the Islamic state policy of expansionism. IS and the Nusra front are expansionists and they will try to attack all country to expand the so-called caliphates, and they don’t care whether they have local support among Muslims.

Had the army decided to take matters more directly into its hands, that is, relentlessly fighting for Arsal as soon as the terrorists fell back with hostages last year, Hezbollah would have not taken the battle into their own hands.

The army has already given martyrs to the Lebanese people and territories, often with surprise attacks by the extremists. The government finally decided to have a proactive stance in the battle. Gebran Bassil, the Lebanese foreign minister, has criticised the vagueness of the cabinet statement. “What is needed is a decision rather than a statement. We support tasking the Army [with clearing Arsal’s outskirts of jihadis] as stipulated in the statement, but we oppose the vagueness of it, and we are waiting for results,”. “A statement said the government tasked the Army with doing whatever is necessary to drive out jihadis entrenched in the mountain terrain along the outer edge of Arsal” [Daily Star]

Let us then wait for the results. I’m not speaking about “containing” them, nor counter-attacking them, but attacking them, and driving Nusra front and the Islamic state out of the Lebanese territories. The longer these groups stay, the greater their forces will be to attack Lebanon Bekaa province.