The UK's misguided advice to Lebanon

One would think that the British government — considering its history in the Middle East of colonizing and partitioning the land and overthrowing governments, and its current support of undemocratic and dictatorial regimes while occupying two nations in the greater region — would be wary of sending its representatives to offer advice to Arab nations on how best to achieve their right to self-determination. Matthew Cassel comments. 

The end of sectarianism?

Fifteen years of civil war followed by 20 years of civil strife have cemented the role of Lebanon’s leaders as bulwarks of their communities. If any serious sectarian reform begins to occur, hereditary inheritance and the defense of the tribe will cease to be sufficient reasons for these figures to retain their statuses. That is a prospect Lebanon’s politicians can hardly be expected to accept. Sami Halabi comments for Electronic Lebanon. 

Hizballah's call for legitimacy

Last week Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech over video link from an unknown location, as he frequently does. The leader of the Lebanese Shia Islamic resistance and political group Hizballah addressed the audience in Beirut to present the group’s new manifesto, their first since 1985 when the group unveiled its initial open letter. Matthew Cassel analyzes. 

Elections only fortify Lebanon's sectarian politics

Lebanon’s elections last month confirmed yet again that in this tiny Mediterranean country, sectarian politics are paramount. Long gone from the collective consciousness are the lessons of the 15-year civil war that began as a political and class dispute and descended into sectarian enmity. Forgotten also are the post-war years that led up to the recent elections and were characterized by the ebb and flow of civil strife. Sami Halabi comments for Electronic Lebanon. 

Lebanon's empty notion of justice

On 1 March 2008, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon came into effect pursuant to the request of the Lebanese government and United Nations Security Council resolutions 1644 and 1757. The trial is intended to bring to justice to those who carried out the assassination of former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafiq Hariri and 22 others. Sami Halabi comments for Electronic Lebanon. 

Refugees to prime minister: End military siege of our camp

While Lebanese officials were publicly denouncing Israel’s war on the Palestinians of Gaza, the Lebanese cabinet was busy making sure the Palestinians of Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon never recover from the war waged on their community more than a year ago. On 16 January 2009, the cabinet approved a decision to build a naval base in the area. The decision was met with stern opposition by the people of Nahr al-Bared who wrote a letter of protest addressed to Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and his ministers. 

Meet the Lebanese Press: Gazing towards Gaza

Like much of the world press, Israel’s war on Gaza dominates the headlines in Lebanon. Massive protests in Beirut, particularly at the Egyptian embassy, took place. In an address to the tens of thousands of demonstrators, Hizballah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah called, among other things, for ordinary Egyptians to open up the crossing at the Egypt-Gaza border by force and in defiance of government security forces. Nasrallah’s explicit condemnation of the Egyptian regime and the stern response by Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit reflects the long-term impact of the Gaza war on the dynamics of regional alliances playing out in Lebanon. 

Meet the Lebanese Press: Strategic defense or strategic shift?

Civil strife usually ends when there is truth and reconciliation. In Lebanon, it subsides when a truce poses as reconciliation. Top Lebanese leaders are doting over each other, calling for a new pact of political rivalry that is confined to the arena of democratic and peaceful confrontation. Meetings between top March 14 and March 8 officials have calmed fears of further clashes on the streets. With the notable exception of Christian leaders, all sectarian heads are trying to unite their ranks in the run up to next year’s parliamentary elections. Meet the Lebanese Press is The Electronic Intifada’s regular review of what is making the rounds in the Lebanese press and the pundits’ take on it. 

Meet the Lebanese Press: Syria and the Salafis

Lebanese-Syrian relations witnessed a turnaround this month. The visit by Lebanese President Michel Suleiman to Damascus culminated in a declaration to establish full diplomatic relations between the two countries for the first time. Promises were made to intensify efforts to resolve long-standing disputes around delineating the borders and uncovering the fate of dozens of Lebanese who disappeared during the civil war and are believed to be imprisoned in Syria. 

The Israel-Hizballah prisoner deal

The Israeli cabinet’s decision to strike a prisoner-exchange deal with the Hizballah movement in Lebanon — on the eve of the anniversary of the war between the two sides of 12 July-14 August 2006 — will not be remembered as one of Israel’s most glorious moments. Amal Saad-Ghorayeb looks at the short-term and long-term implications of the deal.