Diaries: Live from Lebanon

Reporting from the front: Interviews with PLO spokesman in Lebanon and PFLP official (Part 2)

“Honestly, the first day there was sympathy for the soldiers that were killed. But after the shelling started we felt that the targets were not Fatah al-Islam, but rather the Nahr al-Bared camp. … At the end of the day, there is a people that is being shelled and people are dying.” Jackson Allers and Rasha Moumneh interview PFLP official and Treasurer of the Committee for the Festival of Right of Return in the second of a two-part series. 

"Another Waco in the Making"

26 May 2007 — Bedawi is teeming with new arrivals from Nahr al-Bared where there is still no water, power or food. A few NGOs are still negotiating with the army for permission to enter. (Still possible to sneak in from the east but getting more dangerous to try it.) The problem is not being shot by Fatah al-Islam anymore. They are digging in. And the army is not as trigger happy as it was Monday through Wednesday. The “security agents” on the slopes above the army looking down into al-Bared are the main sniper danger. 

Solidarity in Shatila

Coming into Shatila, I heard loudspeakers calling for donations for the displaced from the Nahr al-Bared camp. “Help us help the families hosting their relatives from Nahr al-Bared; any donations would be appreciated,” the person on the loudspeaker called out. I went to the site appointed for donations collection, and met a woman asking if clothes were among the needed items. “These are old clothes, like the ones we wear, I swear, I am not differentiating between my family and them. I wish I had money but this is all what I could find at home,” she said. 

"They may accept us for a day or two but for how long?"

“We left yesterday. What can I say? The fighting wasn’t against Fateh al-Islam. The fighting was against our homes. Our homes were destroyed. If you were to go inside the camp, and see the camp for yourself, you would say the same. No homes [are] left. The homes on the extremity of the camp have all been destroyed. People left the extremity of the camp and went into the center of the camp, and the bombing followed them. We, in the center of the camp, received two bombs on our home. Our son was hit.” Rania Masri and Jackson Allers interview those who fled the siege on Nahr al-Bared refugee camp. 

"The situation is very bad"

The following interview with Ashraf Abu Khorj, a youth organizer, was conducted on May 21 at around 3pm as the Lebanese Army was shelling the Nahr al Bared refugee camp: “The situation has calmed down now — from a half hour ago. For the past two days, and since 4 am this morning, there have been lots of attacks. Homes attacked. Homes burned. People injured. Children hit. Youth killed. The situation is very bad. No electricity for the past two days. There is no water. There is nothing. We don’t have a hospital in the camp.” 

Lebanese bloggers react to refugee camp siege

The clashes between the Lebanese army and the organization of Fatah al Islam, as well as the explosion in Ashrafieh (Beirut), took precedence over all other news and blog posts in almost all of the blogs during the past two days. Following are quotes from a number of these posts including a post quoting a civilian trapped in the camp of Nahr el Barid in North Lebanon, in the crossfire, between the army and the organization. In a very rare blog post on the conditions in the camp where some members of Fath al Islam are reported to be hiding, quotes Ahmad, his friend, who is one of many trapped in the crossfire. 

On that so-called "Shi'a Crescent"

News reports from Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon harp on and on about the emerging “Shi’a Crescent,” which now poses an allegedly mortal danger to the West (whatever that is!). In the last 60 years, we have seen the Red Scare, the Green Scare (politicized Sunni Islam), and of course, the Axis of Evil, which still gets a lot of air time. The political “flavour of the month” danger now is clearly Iran, which, after the events of the last two weeks, is increasingly in the cross-hairs of those who believe that traditions, societies, and histories can be collapsed into a catchy soundbyte or a caricature of the Evil Other. 

Anxiety and Cautious Optimism

Most of the posts in the Lebanese blogosphere reflect the atmosphere of anxiety, pessimism and mistrust that is the general mood of the Lebanese nowadays. Here is a summary of some of the posts. An attempt has been made to include one or two light posts with brighter outlooks, but they did not drown the overall disposition mentioned above. Let’s begin by mentioning Lebanon’s loss of Joseph Samaha, a very prominent columnist and political analyst, last week. Many bloggers posted about the man and his works. Jamal Ghosn wrote a post about Samaha which he began with: “Life Goes On, but it must not go on dumber, less informed, mentally poorer.” 

Lebanon Bloggers Roundup: Academia, Agriculture and Construction

Let us begin this week’s roundup of the Lebanese blogosphere with non-political posts. Let us start from a post about two Lebanese salads that are used as appetizers during meals. Skylark shows us (Fr) how to prepare Fattush and Tabboule, which are two delicious Lebanese salads that are usually found whenever Lebanese spread the table for a guest. Now that we have satisfied our taste buds, let us move to publishing and academia. Lazarus wrote at the Lebanese Blogger Forum about A Lost Summer: Postcards from Lebanon which is a book that compiles quotations, written during the summer war in Lebanon. 

Photostory: Solidarity in Solidere

In recent weeks and months Lebanon has faced major political upheaval, marked by massive street demonstrations, international political intervention and a national general strike. Lebanon’s political opposition maintains an ongoing open-air demonstration in central Beirut, which commenced on December 1st, 2006, fueled by popular discontent toward the current national government. Vivid political debate in Lebanon and throughout the Lebanese Diaspora presents challenging political questions toward both the current government and political opposition regarding growing sectarian strife across an increasingly divided nation.