President Aoun: Lebanon Rejects Any Violation of Its Legitimate Rights within Its Territorial Waters

December 17, 2019

President Michel Aoun on Tuesday met with UNIFIL commander, General Stefano Del Cole, and asked him to investigate reasons for the violation of a Greek oil exploration vessel, operating for the Israeli Army, Lebanese territorial waters for a duration of 3 hours. The President stressed that “Lebanon rejects any violation of its legitimate rights within its territorial waters”, considering that “Israeli naval violations, of Lebanese sovereignty, are no less dangerous than land and air violations, which Israel continues to carry out”.

During the meeting, which was attended by the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Salim Jreisatti, and the delegation accompanying Del Cole, President Aoun said that “Lebanon is keen to activate the existing cooperation between the Lebanese Army and the UNIFIL, in order to maintain stability, and address issues raised through dialogue and coordination”. The President appreciated the efforts exerted by the international leadership to maintain stability along the Blue Line Border, reaffirming Lebanon’s adherence to Resolution 1701.
General Del Cole informed President Aoun about the results of his visit to New York and the meeting he had held with international officials, indicating that these meetings were devoted to tackling the situation in Southern Lebanon. Del Cole had also visited Washington and met with a number of US officials and discussed with them the situation of UNIFIL, and its need for continuous funding for carrying the tasks assigned in Resolution 1701. The research also touched on the results of Lebanese-International-Israeli meeting in the Tripartite Committee, which meets periodically at the International Command headquarters, in Naqoura.
Afterwards, President Aoun telegrammed congratulations to the newly elected Algerian President, Abdul Majid Taboun, and stressed his keenness to strengthen brotherly relations between Lebanon and Algeria, and to enhance cooperation between the two countries in all fields.
Source: NNA

فشل النسخة اللبنانيةمن خطة اقتحام البرلمان الجورجي

 

ديسمبر 17, 2019

Image result for ‫محمد صادق الحسيني‬‎
محمد صادق الحسيني

‏لبنان ليس صربيا، أيها الحمقى. ‏لبنان ليس الشيشان ولا جورجيا. ‏لبنان لن يكون إلا كما يريده الذين حرّروه بالدم ‏من الصهاينة والتكفيريين. ‏هذه ليست شعارات ولا غنّية لبنانية،

هذه سنّة كونية ‏وإرادة إلهية، ولا خوف على لبنان من شرذمة من الأرذال والأوباش، ‏من زعران السفارات والقناصل الأجنبية، قلعتنا تختلف كلياً عن القلعة الجورجية…والتاريخ لا يُعيد نفسه إلا بشكل كوميدي!

1

ـ حكم آخر وزير خارجيه سوفياتي، الجورجي الأصل ادوارد شيفارنادزه، جورجيا من عام 1992 وحتى عام 2003، حيث أطاحت به عصابات منظمة، بقيادة الأميركي الجورجي الأصل، شيكاسفيلي الذي أصبح في ما بعد رئيساً لجورجيا، ثم مطلوباً للعدالة الدولية بتهم إجرامية.

2

ـ شهدت جمهورية جورجيا، في عهد الرئيس شيفارنادزه، نوعاً من القواعد الديموقراطية، الا أنها تحوّلت، شيئاً فشيئاً، الى مزرعة للفساد والنهب والسرقه، من قبل مجموعات مقربة من الرئيس، الأمر الذي خلق غضباً شعبياً عارماً شكل أرضية خصبة للاستراتيجيين الأميركيين الذين حلموا دائماً بالاستيلاء على هذه الجمهوريه القوقازية الاستراتيجية الواقعة على سواحل البحر الأسود الشرقية.

3

ـ وفِي ظل هذا النظام الفاسد، الذي نهب القروض، التي قدمها البنك الدولي والاتحاد الأوروبي وغيرهما، وانطلاقاً من توفر الظروف، لتحقيق الهدف الأميركي المشار اليه أعلاه، قامت وكالة الاستخبارات المركزية الاميركية بتأسيس منظمة شبابية محلية أطلق عليها اسم : Kmara باللغة الجورجية / كفاية أو كفى بالعربية.

4

ـ تم تأسيس هذه المنظمة في شهر نيسان 2004، كنسخة جورجية عن منظمة أوتبور Otpor الصربية، التي أطاحت بالرئيس الصربي الشرعي، سلوبودان ميلوسوفيتش سنة 2000. وقد بدأت حركة كمارا Kmara الجورجية بتشكيل قاعدة شعبية لشيكاسفيلي، الذي كان قد تمّ تأهيله، لسنوات عدة في جامعتي كولومبيا وجورج واشنطن في الولايات المتحده، منتصف تسعينيات القرن الماضي.

5

ـ استخدمت هذه المنظمة التكتيكات نفسها التي تستخدم في لبنان حالياً، بدءاً بالمطالبة بمحاربة الفساد مروراً بالدعوة لإسقاط الحكومة ووصولاً الى مطلب الاستيلاء على السلطة بالكامل.

6

ـ وفِي ظلّ حالة من الفوضى العامة، التي كانت تجتاح البلاد وتديرها الولايات المتحدة، من خلال شيكاسفيلي ومنظمة كمارا، جرت انتخابات تشريعية في البلاد يوم 2/11/2003. ولكن شيكاسفيلي ومنظمة كمارا اعتبرا أنها مزورة واطلقوا موجة من الاحتجاجات العارمة ضد الحكومة وضد الرئيس ادوارد شيفارنادزه.

7

ـ توّجت هذه الاحتجاجات يوم 22/11/2003 باقتحام المحتجين لمبنى البرلمان، خلال عقد الجلسة الاولى له، والاستيلاء على المبنى وإعلان إلغاء الانتخابات ونتائجها، مما دفع بالحكومة الروسية للدخول في وساطة بين المعارضة الجورجية، بزعامة شيكاسفيلي، والرئيس شيفارنادزه، حيث وصل وزير الخارجية الروسي آنذاك، ايغور ايفانوف، الى تبيليسي، بتاريخ 23/11/2003، وعقد جلسة مفاوضات بين شيفارنادزه وشيكاسفيلي انتهت بإعلان شيفارنادزه استقالته واستيلاء شيكاسفيلي على السلطة.

8

ـ أما الفارق بين الحالة الجورجية والحالة اللبنانية فتتمثل اولاً في طبيعة شخصية الرئيس اللبناني وذلك الجورجي ومن ثم في طبيعة القوى أو القاعدة الشعبية التي تؤيد الرئيس اللبناني. إضافة الى وجود مقاومة لبنانية قوية وعنيدة ولها عمق كبير في بنية الشعب اللبناني إضافة إلى وجود جبهة حليفة لها منتخبة ديموقراطياً ولديها أغلبية في البرلمان اللبناني.

كما أن للظروف الموضوعية المحيطة بالحالتين أثراً عميقاً في تحديد نتائج الصراع. اذ ان موازين القوى الإقليمية والدولية كانت خلال تلك الحقبة تميل في الواقع لصالح الولايات المتحده وعملائها بينما واقع حال المرحلة الحاليّة مختلف تماماً. فهناك تغير جوهري في موازين القوى جعل الولايات المتحدة وعملائها في الدرك الأسفل من سلم القوة والاقتدار مما جعلهم يفشلون في إحداث حالة صدمة وانهيار في بنية الدولة اللبنانية، عند بداية حركة الفوضى قبل نحو شهرين، وفي الساعات الأخيرة تسجيل فشلٍ مدوٍ آخر، ليلة 15/12/2019، حيث أخفقت القوى التي تديرها غرفة عمليات السفارة الأميركية في بيروت والموساد الإسرائيلي، في اقتحام البرلمان اللبناني والاستيلاء عليه وإعلان سقوط درة التاج في النظام البرلماني اللبناني بيدهم كما كانوا يخططون!

فترة السماح باللعب في حواشي أمن القلعة من الداخل تقترب من النهاية، ما يجعل فريق السفارات والقناصل الأجنبية مكشوف الظهر نظراً لاقتراب ساعة تداخل وتشابك إقليمي ودولي في المحلي اللبناني مما يفتح المجال واسعاً لخيارات حلف جبهة المقاومة باللجوء الى سياسات اكثر حزماً وأكثر ردعاً بوجه بقايا زمرة خاطفي الحراك اللبناني والمرجفين في المدينة من منظري الثورات الملوّنة!

بعدناطيبين،قولواالله…

مواضيع مشابهة

مواضيع مشابهة

Sayyed Nasrallah: The US is Exploiting Lebanon’s Protests, No for One-Sided Gov’t

Sayyed Nasrallah: The US is Exploiting Lebanon’s Protests, No for One-Sided Gov’t

Zeinab Essa  

Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivered on Friday a speech in which he tackled the latest internal developments on the Lebanese level, particularly the formation of a new government.

Warning that Lebanon is passing through a sensitive moment regarding the formation of a new government, Sayyed Nasrallah clarified that “Whenever protests erupt in a certain country, we find the Americans quickly interfering and seeking to exploit these protests in a rude and clear way that serves their own interests and not those of the protesters.”

On this level, His Eminence explained that

“the Americans try to convince the world that they are orchestrating these protests, whether that is true or not. This is the case Latin America as well as in Hon Kong as well in the so-called Arab spring.”

Image result for kelly craft unHe cited the US envoy to the UN, Kelly Craft who said that the demonstrations will continue in Lebanon and Yemen and wherever Iran is and not in any place where there is corruption. “The Americans view the demonstrations as tools to pressure Iran.”

“Since the first day, the Americans assumed that these demonstrations reflect the Lebanese revolution against Hezbollah and the resistance’s resistance, and some Arab and Gulf media helped them in this, knowing that no one raised this issue,”

Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted noting, that

“The Americans are either deceiving themselves or the world, or some Lebanese are sending wrong and misleading reports.”

Commenting on the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statements on Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah recalled that

“Pompeo’s statements regarding the demonstrations claimed that the stalemate in Lebanon was caused by Hezbollah, and thus he called them to get rid of it.”

Slamming Pompeo’s statements as reflection of the US silly approach, His Eminence underscored that

“Pompeo’s statements reflect his pressure on Lebanon to remove Hezbollah from the state, which is impossible due to its popular presence. The US evaluation of the Lebanese protests  is wrong.”

“The American exploitation to the Lebanese demonstrations is clear, parallel to the “Israeli” consideration that what is happening in Lebanon forms an opportunity for them,” he highlighted, pointing out that

“Pompeo, with his comments, considers himself to be the mouthpiece and expresser of the Lebanese people’s opinion!”

In response to Pompeo, the Resistance Leader stressed that

“Hezbollah poses the first threat to “Israel” in the face of its ambitions as well as a threat to the schemes of the American hegemony in Lebanon and the region. Hezbollah never formed a threat to the interests of the Lebanese people, but rather a defender to their interests.”

“Both the Americans and the “Israelis” are practicing the policy of blackmail,” His Eminence warned, cautioning that “the American equation that they want to impose on the Lebanese people is ‘give up what preserves your sovereignty so that we help you’.”

To the Lebanese, Sayyed Nasrallah raised the following question:

“Do not believe the American promises. Draw lessons from the countries that surrendered to the US conditions. Have they overcome their financial woes?”

He also urged the Lebanese to be aware of and not to be affected by the US deceptive calls and incites pushing towards sedition and chaos. “Everyone who has a problem and is protesting should not allow the Americans to take advantage of his movement.”

“From the beginning, we did not agree on the government’s resignation because the country cannot tolerate a vacuum,” His Eminence stated, noting that “the government’s resignation has made matters worse on various levels. “It also paralyzed state institutions that should have been implementing reforms.”

Regarding the recent fabrications, Sayyed Nasrallah revealed that

“Some Gulf countries are fabricating statements attributed to Iranian officials. The IRGC  general mentioned nothing about Lebanon in his statement. Some parties are fabricating statements attributed to Iranian officials in order to embarrass some Lebanese parties.”

“Iran itself will respond to those who attack it [whether the US or “Israel”] and it will not depend on its allies,” he added.

Back to the Lebanese internal scene, His Eminence declared: “Forming a government of one color requires courage, but the risks and ramifications have been studied. We in Hezbollah and the brothers in Amal Movement are against a one-color government. In parallel, Sayyed Nasrallah wondered:

“If a one-color government is formed in light of the existing situation, the situation will get worse and how can it deal with a crisis with this level of danger?”

He reminded that “The National Pact forbids the formation of a one-sided government.”

“The consultations are supposed to take place Monday and we hope a PM-designate will be named,” he went on to say, predicting that

“The formation of the government won’t be an easy process. After the designation of a PM, we will talk about the line-up and we would negotiate and cooperate with the PM-designate to form the government.”

According to Sayyed Nasrallah, “The solution to the current crisis is cooperation and concessions to save the country.”

He once again explained that

“Hezbollah had no objection on a government headed by PM Saad Hariri. However, he proposed inappropriate conditions. A reformist government does not necessarily mean a technocrat government.”

In addition, he announced that Hezbollah insists on the Free Patriotic Movement’s representation in the government as no party should be eliminated. “The parliamentary blocs have not yet agreed on a PM’s name and the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc is to unveil its position on Monday.”

On the same level, His Eminence urged “The caretaker government to shoulder its responsibilities regarding the economic situation.”

Calling on the Lebanese army and its leadership to accelerate the opening of any road that is being cut, Sayyed Nasrallah reiterated that

“blocking the roads during the protests put people at risk as some seek chaos and clashes.”

Once again, His Eminence called on supporters of Hezbollah and the Amal movement to control nerves, and be patient so not to be drawn to any tension. “On the security level, the Lebanese have so far acted with responsibly. We, God willing, are nearing the end.”

Regarding the social aspect of the economic crisis, Sayyed Nasrallah urged “People to come together socially and to show solidarity with each other.”

To whoever is taking advantage of the situation and raising profits, His Eminence said:

“Now the situation needs everyone’s solidarity. And if the country collapses, everyone will be severely affected. Everything that has to do with the lives of the people from bread to gasoline and medicine shouldn’t be manipulated.”

Related Videos

Related Articles

 

US-backed parties have infiltrated Lebanon’s protests, pushing the country toward war amid economic collapse موقع أميركي: الأحزاب المدعومة أميركياً تحرف احتجاجات لبنان

By joining the roadblocks around Beirut, protesters allowed themselves to be used by US-allied parties playing a dangerous game that has the potential to explode into open warfare

ٍSource

December 11, 201

By Rania Khalek

This is the second installment of a two-part report. Read part one here.

The US is desperate to ride the revolutionary wave in Lebanon, hoping it can fracture a governing coalition that includes Hezbollah, a top target of the Trump administration and its friends from Tel Aviv to Riyadh. To this end, political figures Washington has cultivated and parties the US backs have penetrated the protest movement that has swept the country and are now on the frontlines of blockades obstructing roads around the country.

In the first part of this report, I surveyed the role of the US in weaponizing NGO’s and civil society activists to co-opt the nationwide anti-corruption protests. In this installment, we will see how the influence of the US and its Gulf allies also extends to feudal lords and warlords from Samir Geagea to Walid Joumblatt to Saad Hariri, and how it is being used to destabilize the country.

When this seemingly conflicting cast of actors began lending its support to the anti-corruption protests, many common Lebanese citizens began to look upon the demonstrations with a jaundiced eye, precisely because these political figures are living embodiments of the corruption that spurred the protests in the first place.

By joining the roadblocks around Beirut, the protesters have inadvertently allowed themselves to be used by these US-allied parties. Whether they know it or not, the media-friendly artists and students at the ring road in downtown Beirut have given cover to the Lebanese Forces roadblocks in the north and the PSP and Future Party roadblocks in the south.

Lebanese citizens in the majority Shia south have expressed outrage at the roadblocks. They have been especially frustrated with those in the town of Khaldeh, south of Beirut, because they made it difficult for residents of the south to drive up to Beirut.

The blockades only deepened the divide between the protest movement and Hezbollah’s working class base. Lebanon lacks the infrastructure for public transportation, so road closures infringe on everyone’s freedom of movement and leave no alternatives for getting to work. No one despises the road closures more than taxi drivers.

On more than one occasion angry youths associated with Amal, who are typically working class and poor, have physically attacked the middle class ring road protesters due to the inconvenience caused by the closure and out of anger over insults to their revered symbols.

They may have also been dispatched by Amal’s leadership to send a message to protesters, as they have repeatedly attacked and burned down their tents. Although Hezbollah was not associated with these acts of violence, youths nevertheless waved Hezbollah flags as a show of muscle and defiance. Some of the ring road protesters are Lebanese Forces supporters, so the two sides have at times further provoked each other with intentionally provocative chants.

Each time clashes like these have broken out, Western media has wrongly identified the Amal attackers as Hezbollah supporters or have erased Amal’s involvement when both party’s supporters participate in intimidation tactics. Hezbollah supporters now worry that their reputation will suffer if Amal makes good on its threats to attack the protesters.

There is also a clear class antagonism that many protesters are reluctant to admit. The protesters in downtown Beirut are mostly middle class while Hezbollah and Amal’s base are poor and working class.

There does not appear to have been any attempts on the part of the downtown Beirut elements to reach out to Hezbollah or Amal’s base of support. Instead, when these youths have attacked the protest encampment, the demonstrators have often condescendingly called them animals and thugs who fail to appreciate their sacrifice. Naturally, this middle class savior complex has only compounded the sense of alienation between the two sides.

Car accidents and several scuffles have also taken place at the roadblocks, including one that turned deadly. A man called Alaa Abou Fakher, a Choueifat Municipality official and member of the PSP, was shot and killed under suspicious circumstances by a member of the army following a verbal altercation over the roadblock in Khaldeh. He is believed to have helped organize the roadblock.

The man who shot him was the driver of a relative and member of Mount Lebanon army intelligence. They “knew each other well,” according to local media reports. In conspiracy-riven Lebanon, many privately speculated that Joumblatt had him killed.

As tensions escalate, suspicion and conspiratorial speculation have become prevalent. No one believes the official story about anything. A week after his death, massive billboards of Abou Fakher were erected in downtown Beirut calling him “the martyr of Lebanon and the revolution against the oppressors.” There is speculation that Joumblatt himself paid for these billboards.

At Nahr El Kalb, Lebanese Forces supporters began erecting a cement wall inside a tunnel to block the highway as they did during the civil war. This sparked panic that a new civil conflict was about to erupt.

The roadblocks are organized and coordinated through WhatsApp groups. They ebb and flow depending on the latest outrage of the day. As of this writing, the roadblocks have ceased, but that could and will likely change tomorrow or perhaps next week. When these roadblocks receive coverage, those behind them are always referred to as “protesters” but their political affiliations are almost invariably omitted, as are their acts of flagrant intimidation.

What earns one the title of protester in the media is all about political affiliation. FPM, Hezbollah and Amal supporters are routinely castigated by their opponents as thugs and hooligans while the protests in their support are dismissed as marginal. For example, when some 20,000 FPM supporters drove to Baabda with several convoys that took up some five to ten kilometers of the highway to show their support for the President who is the leader of their party, local media mocked and dismissed them.

When an FPM supporter shot in the air at protesters comprised of Lebanese Forces supporters who had been blocking the highway in Jal el Dib, his political affiliation was reported and he was branded a thug. Yet the political affiliation of those blocking the highway has scarcely ever been disclosed in media accounts. They are simply referred to simply as protesters.

In private quarters, it is well known which parties are blocking which roads, but scarcely anyone dares to speak the truth publicly because of the fear of delegitimizing the movement as a whole. By refusing to name the bad actors, members of the movement are essentially opening up the protests as cover for the dangerous game carried out by the political parties doing the blocking.

None of these parties want a war, yet they are using the threat of a war to pressure their adversaries – especially Hezbollah and FPM – into making concessions. It is brinksmanship at its most cynical.

And it is likely being encouraged by the US, which makes no secret of its ambition to reverse the political gains made by Hezbollah and its partners in the 2018 elections. Perhaps all the street pressure will translate into concessions. But there is also the chance it could lead to an all-out war.

And then there is the role of the army and army intelligence. In Lebanon, everyone is vying for power.

Joseph Aoun, the head of the Lebanese army, has ambitions for the presidency. It is widely rumored that he has not spoken to President Michel Aoun in weeks. The tension between the two highlights another friction point that the US has sought to exploit.

The Lebanese army is trained and equipped by the US and dependent on Washington and the EU for its survival. Over 32,000 members of the Lebanese army have received training from the US and 80 percent of the army’s equipment comes from the US. The belief in the US – as argued recently by the former US ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman – is that by empowering the Lebanese Army, Hezbollah will become obsolete.

When Trump’s national security council announced a hold on $105 million in aid to the Lebanese army, hawkish pro-Israel Democratic lawmakers Eliot Engel and Ted Deutch urged the administration to reconsider. “As Hezbollah grows in sophistication and capability, it is critical the LAF [Lebanese Armed Forces] continues to grow and serve as the sole legitimate defender of Lebanese sovereignty and security,” they argued in a letter to the White House that clearly signaled their desire to isolate Hezbollah.

On December 2, the Trump administration ceded to the pressure and released the military aid package.

In the South, Hezbollah and Amal clash

Western and Gulf media have attempted to portray the protests as an uprising against Hezbollah, losing themselves in an anti-Iran fantasy. There may be some elements of the protests that have chanted against Hezbollah and their weapons, but they reflect a small minority. Despite all outside attempts to co-opt the movement, the protests remain solidly focused on opposing corruption and the government as a whole.

Meanwhile, the international media has continued to erase the Hezbollah supporters who were crucial to the first two days of protests. The Western press has also ignored the ever-present chants against Israel and burning of American and Israeli flags.

When Amal supporters from a nearby Shia neighborhood beat up protesters in downtown Beirut for blocking the main road, Western media falsely identified them as Hezbollah.

And when clashes broke out in Nabatiyeh, a town in southern Lebanon that is dominated by Hezbollah and Amal, Western and local media zeroed in on the violence. Local protesters, with communists among them, had been violently cleared out by local municipal police, including supporters of Hezbollah and Amal.

Hezbollah and the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) have a notoriously antagonistic history. Some in the LCP blame Hezbollah for being complicit in the government’s corruption and they were outraged when Hezbollah supporters in the municipal police attacked their comrades in the Nabatiyeh protests. Hezbollah supporters maintain that LCP holds a grudge against them for fighting the communists and absorbing much of their Shia base during the 1980s.

With this background of conflict, it is no surprise that the LCP has been harshly critical of Hezbollah throughout the protests, as have many leftist groups.

This bickering has been exploited by the Western press and Gulf-funded outlets, which also celebrated the resignations at Al Akhbar, one of the most widely read newspapers in Lebanon and a rare outlet that is explicitly pro-resistance and anti-imperialist.

The disproportionate focus on these rifts obscured the reality of southern Lebanon, where tensions have been brewing between Amal and Hezbollah. Amal and Hezbollah were rivals in the civil war. These two forces have already engaged in a conflict referred to as “the war of the brothers”  – its name inspired by Shia families in the South turning against one another according to their members’ allegiance to Amal and Hezbollah.

Hezbollah has been compelled to maintain a peaceful alliance with Amal in spite of the rampant corruption of its rival’s leadership. It is determined to avoid another Shia civil war and maintain a powerful coalition in the government. Meanwhile, Amal leader Nabih Berri, a civil war-era warlord who has been speaker of the parliament since the end of the civil war, has enriched himself on the back of his community. Many Shias are angry about Berri’s corruption and during the protests openly chanted against him and his wife Randa.  

Berri has also demonstrated his willingness to side with the US and Israel against Hezbollah, at least behind the scenes and for purely opportunistic reasons. According to Wikileaks cables, during Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon, Berri told the US ambassador at the time that the war’s potential to weaken Hezbollah was a positive development and he decried how few Hezbollah fighters Israel had managed to kill. 

Fear of Amal, hatred of corrupt leadership, and lack of ideology

In Tyre, protesters tore down Berri’s posters and torched the Tyre Rest House Resort, which they believe is owned by Randa Berri, though Nabih Berri denied it. When I visited Tyre two weeks later, hundreds of new posters of Berri had been erected that read, “the guarantor of Lebanon” and “we are all with you [Berri].” 

The posters surrounded the small protest encampment located in a roundabout on the beach road. The protest was part art fair, part concert for families, with liberals and a few leftists filling the ranks. Demonstrators were careful not to name leaders like Berri in their chants and when interviewed, they often spoke in vague terms out of fear of Amal. Later in the night, Amal members provoked the protesters in a familiar attempt at intimidation.  

Scenes like this are playing out in smaller towns too. 

Residents of the southern town of Machghara say Amal is taking names of protesters, deterring many from participating. As in Tyre, Amal emblazoned posters of Berri and new Amal flags around the streets to intimidate. 

At the protest in Tyre, blaring music made it difficult to have a meaningful conversation with any activists. But I managed to interview a few organizers, none of whom liked one another.

One woman rushed to me after I interviewed a protest organizer to insist to me, “He’s not a legitimate protester. He left when the Sayyad [Hassan Nasrallah] told people to leave. So he has no right to speak for the movement.” Everyone I spoke to at the Tyre protest was supportive of Hezbollah as a resistance organization to Israel. All they wanted, they said, was a secular government that could provide basic services – hardly a rebellion against Hezbollah. 

This is the second installment of a two-part report. Read part one here.

The US is desperate to ride the revolutionary wave in Lebanon, hoping it can fracture a governing coalition that includes Hezbollah, a top target of the Trump administration and its friends from Tel Aviv to Riyadh. To this end, political figures Washington has cultivated and parties the US backs have penetrated the protest movement that has swept the country and are now on the frontlines of blockades obstructing roads around the country.

In the first part of this report, I surveyed the role of the US in weaponizing NGO’s and civil society activists to co-opt the nationwide anti-corruption protests. In this installment, we will see how the influence of the US and its Gulf allies also extends to feudal lords and warlords from Samir Geagea to Walid Joumblatt to Saad Hariri, and how it is being used to destabilize the country.

When this seemingly conflicting cast of actors began lending its support to the anti-corruption protests, many common Lebanese citizens began to look upon the demonstrations with a jaundiced eye, precisely because these political figures are living embodiments of the corruption that spurred the protests in the first place.

By joining the roadblocks around Beirut, the protesters have inadvertently allowed themselves to be used by these US-allied parties. Whether they know it or not, the media-friendly artists and students at the ring road in downtown Beirut have given cover to the Lebanese Forces roadblocks in the north and the PSP and Future Party roadblocks in the south.

Lebanese citizens in the majority Shia south have expressed outrage at the roadblocks. They have been especially frustrated with those in the town of Khaldeh, south of Beirut, because they made it difficult for residents of the south to drive up to Beirut.

The blockades only deepened the divide between the protest movement and Hezbollah’s working class base. Lebanon lacks the infrastructure for public transportation, so road closures infringe on everyone’s freedom of movement and leave no alternatives for getting to work. No one despises the road closures more than taxi drivers.

On more than one occasion angry youths associated with Amal, who are typically working class and poor, have physically attacked the middle class ring road protesters due to the inconvenience caused by the closure and out of anger over insults to their revered symbols.

They may have also been dispatched by Amal’s leadership to send a message to protesters, as they have repeatedly attacked and burned down their tents. Although Hezbollah was not associated with these acts of violence, youths nevertheless waved Hezbollah flags as a show of muscle and defiance. Some of the ring road protesters are Lebanese Forces supporters, so the two sides have at times further provoked each other with intentionally provocative chants.

Each time clashes like these have broken out, Western media has wrongly identified the Amal attackers as Hezbollah supporters or have erased Amal’s involvement when both party’s supporters participate in intimidation tactics. Hezbollah supporters now worry that their reputation will suffer if Amal makes good on its threats to attack the protesters.

There is also a clear class antagonism that many protesters are reluctant to admit. The protesters in downtown Beirut are mostly middle class while Hezbollah and Amal’s base are poor and working class.

There does not appear to have been any attempts on the part of the downtown Beirut elements to reach out to Hezbollah or Amal’s base of support. Instead, when these youths have attacked the protest encampment, the demonstrators have often condescendingly called them animals and thugs who fail to appreciate their sacrifice. Naturally, this middle class savior complex has only compounded the sense of alienation between the two sides.

Car accidents and several scuffles have also taken place at the roadblocks, including one that turned deadly. A man called Alaa Abou Fakher, a Choueifat Municipality official and member of the PSP, was shot and killed under suspicious circumstances by a member of the army following a verbal altercation over the roadblock in Khaldeh. He is believed to have helped organize the roadblock.

The man who shot him was the driver of a relative and member of Mount Lebanon army intelligence. They “knew each other well,” according to local media reports. In conspiracy-riven Lebanon, many privately speculated that Joumblatt had him killed.

As tensions escalate, suspicion and conspiratorial speculation have become prevalent. No one believes the official story about anything. A week after his death, massive billboards of Abou Fakher were erected in downtown Beirut calling him “the martyr of Lebanon and the revolution against the oppressors.” There is speculation that Joumblatt himself paid for these billboards.

At Nahr El Kalb, Lebanese Forces supporters began erecting a cement wall inside a tunnel to block the highway as they did during the civil war. This sparked panic that a new civil conflict was about to erupt.

The roadblocks are organized and coordinated through WhatsApp groups. They ebb and flow depending on the latest outrage of the day. As of this writing, the roadblocks have ceased, but that could and will likely change tomorrow or perhaps next week. When these roadblocks receive coverage, those behind them are always referred to as “protesters” but their political affiliations are almost invariably omitted, as are their acts of flagrant intimidation.

What earns one the title of protester in the media is all about political affiliation. FPM, Hezbollah and Amal supporters are routinely castigated by their opponents as thugs and hooligans while the protests in their support are dismissed as marginal. For example, when some 20,000 FPM supporters drove to Baabda with several convoys that took up some five to ten kilometers of the highway to show their support for the President who is the leader of their party, local media mocked and dismissed them.

When an FPM supporter shot in the air at protesters comprised of Lebanese Forces supporters who had been blocking the highway in Jal el Dib, his political affiliation was reported and he was branded a thug. Yet the political affiliation of those blocking the highway has scarcely ever been disclosed in media accounts. They are simply referred to simply as protesters.

In private quarters, it is well known which parties are blocking which roads, but scarcely anyone dares to speak the truth publicly because of the fear of delegitimizing the movement as a whole. By refusing to name the bad actors, members of the movement are essentially opening up the protests as cover for the dangerous game carried out by the political parties doing the blocking.

None of these parties want a war, yet they are using the threat of a war to pressure their adversaries – especially Hezbollah and FPM – into making concessions. It is brinksmanship at its most cynical.

And it is likely being encouraged by the US, which makes no secret of its ambition to reverse the political gains made by Hezbollah and its partners in the 2018 elections. Perhaps all the street pressure will translate into concessions. But there is also the chance it could lead to an all-out war.

And then there is the role of the army and army intelligence. In Lebanon, everyone is vying for power.

Joseph Aoun, the head of the Lebanese army, has ambitions for the presidency. It is widely rumored that he has not spoken to President Michel Aoun in weeks. The tension between the two highlights another friction point that the US has sought to exploit.

The Lebanese army is trained and equipped by the US and dependent on Washington and the EU for its survival. Over 32,000 members of the Lebanese army have received training from the US and 80 percent of the army’s equipment comes from the US. The belief in the US – as argued recently by the former US ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman – is that by empowering the Lebanese Army, Hezbollah will become obsolete.

Capture

When Trump’s national security council announced a hold on $105 million in aid to the Lebanese army, hawkish pro-Israel Democratic lawmakers Eliot Engel and Ted Deutch urged the administration to reconsider. “As Hezbollah grows in sophistication and capability, it is critical the LAF [Lebanese Armed Forces] continues to grow and serve as the sole legitimate defender of Lebanese sovereignty and security,” they argued in a letter to the White House that clearly signaled their desire to isolate Hezbollah.

On December 2, the Trump administration ceded to the pressure and released the military aid package.

In the South, Hezbollah and Amal clash

Western and Gulf media have attempted to portray the protests as an uprising against Hezbollah, losing themselves in an anti-Iran fantasy. There may be some elements of the protests that have chanted against Hezbollah and their weapons, but they reflect a small minority. Despite all outside attempts to co-opt the movement, the protests remain solidly focused on opposing corruption and the government as a whole.

Meanwhile, the international media has continued to erase the Hezbollah supporters who were crucial to the first two days of protests. The Western press has also ignored the ever-present chants against Israel and burning of American and Israeli flags.

When Amal supporters from a nearby Shia neighborhood beat up protesters in downtown Beirut for blocking the main road, Western media falsely identified them as Hezbollah.

And when clashes broke out in Nabatiyeh, a town in southern Lebanon that is dominated by Hezbollah and Amal, Western and local media zeroed in on the violence. Local protesters, with communists among them, had been violently cleared out by local municipal police, including supporters of Hezbollah and Amal.

Hezbollah and the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) have a notoriously antagonistic history. Some in the LCP blame Hezbollah for being complicit in the government’s corruption and they were outraged when Hezbollah supporters in the municipal police attacked their comrades in the Nabatiyeh protests. Hezbollah supporters maintain that LCP holds a grudge against them for fighting the communists and absorbing much of their Shia base during the 1980s.

With this background of conflict, it is no surprise that the LCP has been harshly critical of Hezbollah throughout the protests, as have many leftist groups.

This bickering has been exploited by the Western press and Gulf-funded outlets, which also celebrated the resignations at Al Akhbar, one of the most widely read newspapers in Lebanon and a rare outlet that is explicitly pro-resistance and anti-imperialist.

The disproportionate focus on these rifts obscured the reality of southern Lebanon, where tensions have been brewing between Amal and Hezbollah. Amal and Hezbollah were rivals in the civil war. These two forces have already engaged in a conflict referred to as “the war of the brothers” – its name inspired by Shia families in the South turning against one another according to their members’ allegiance to Amal and Hezbollah.

Hezbollah has been compelled to maintain a peaceful alliance with Amal in spite of the rampant corruption of its rival’s leadership. It is determined to avoid another Shia civil war and maintain a powerful coalition in the government. Meanwhile, Amal leader Nabih Berri, a civil war-era warlord who has been speaker of the parliament since the end of the civil war, has enriched himself on the back of his community. Many Shias are angry about Berri’s corruption and during the protests openly chanted against him and his wife Randa.

Berri has also demonstrated his willingness to side with the US and Israel against Hezbollah, at least behind the scenes and for purely opportunistic reasons. According to Wikileaks cables, during Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon, Berri told the US ambassador at the time that the war’s potential to weaken Hezbollah was a positive development and he decried how few Hezbollah fighters Israel had managed to kill.

Fear of Amal, hatred of corrupt leadership, and lack of ideology

In Tyre, protesters tore down Berri’s posters and torched the Tyre Rest House Resort, which they believe is owned by Randa Berri, though Nabih Berri denied it. When I visited Tyre two weeks later, hundreds of new posters of Berri had been erected that read, “the guarantor of Lebanon” and “we are all with you [Berri].”

The posters surrounded the small protest encampment located in a roundabout on the beach road. The protest was part art fair, part concert for families, with liberals and a few leftists filling the ranks. Demonstrators were careful not to name leaders like Berri in their chants and when interviewed, they often spoke in vague terms out of fear of Amal. Later in the night, Amal members provoked the protesters in a familiar attempt at intimidation.

Scenes like this are playing out in smaller towns too.

Residents of the southern town of Machghara say Amal is taking names of protesters, deterring many from participating. As in Tyre, Amal emblazoned posters of Berri and new Amal flags around the streets to intimidate.

At the protest in Tyre, blaring music made it difficult to have a meaningful conversation with any activists. But I managed to interview a few organizers, none of whom liked one another.

One woman rushed to me after I interviewed a protest organizer to insist to me, “He’s not a legitimate protester. He left when the Sayyad [Hassan Nasrallah] told people to leave. So he has no right to speak for the movement.” Everyone I spoke to at the Tyre protest was supportive of Hezbollah as a resistance organization to Israel. All they wanted, they said, was a secular government that could provide basic services – hardly a rebellion against Hezbollah.

If there is anti-Hezbollah sentiment to be found, it would be in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest city and the site of ongoing sectarian violence. It is also one of the poorest areas of Lebanon. Yet in Tripoli’s Al-Nour Square, no one seemed to be protesting Hezbollah. Like virtually everyone else around the country, they were railing against economic inequality. 

The overwhelming majority of people at this protest were unemployed. And they had erected an odd mix of banners: one outlining the values of the protest (nonviolent, nonsectarian, etc), another listing important sites in the city, and then one by families of Islamist prisoners demanding the release of their loved ones. 

Protest banners in Tripoli’s al Nour square listing values of protesters and calling for the release of Islamist prisoners on November 3

Of the dozens of people I spoke to, only one mentioned Hezbollah. “Part of the problem is we [Sunnis] don’t have anyone but Hariri, and he doesn’t have guns like Hezbollah and Amal. We have nothing,” said an unemployed 28-year-old father of three. There was also a great deal of praise for Turkey’s President Erdogan, but this is nothing out of the ordinary for conservative Tripoli.  

It seemed that everyone in this protest had a complaint about the high cost of living and inability to provide for their families or pay for necessary medical procedures. Unlike the protesters in downtown Beirut who insisted on having a leaderless movement, people in Tripoli were desperate for a charismatic leader. And while they yearned a fresh face to vote for, they had no one in mind.

When asked if they would vote for any of the alternative groups involved in the protests, they responded in the negative. One of the demands of the protests has been early elections. But it is unlikely that early elections would produce results much different than those in the 2018 elections, in which the civil society alliance of alternative parties won only one seat in parliament, which ultimately went to a woman in Sabaa.  

There was little political organizing to be found in these protest camps, except perhaps for the LCP holding a discussion in a nearby garden about the importance of opening up public spaces. Otherwise, people just sat around chatting about the revolution, waiting to be organized.

As the festivities filled up, vendors whipped out cotton candy, the music started pumping, and a protest instantly transformed into a nighttime carnival. The almost instant depoliticization of the event made me wonder who exactly was behind the music. 

Scenes like these help explain why protesters tend to be so short on political education. They are desperate for a better life but there are few organizations with the capacity and resources to organize them on a massive scale, especially in a leftist direction that highlights the root causes of their plight: neoliberalism and imperialism. A man in the protest ranks highlighted the problem when he exclaimed to me, “Please someone save us, even if it’s America. I don’t care.” 

Cooperation and integration versus the West’s recipe for fragmentation

The Lebanese economy is facing imminent collapse. Unemployment is spreading, prices are spiking and the street price of the Lebanese lira continues to devalue. There is little that can be done to avoid the collapse, which has been thirty years in the making.

The implosion of the Lebanese economy is spilling over into Syria, which was already teetering on the edge of economic collapse due to eight years of war, government mismanagement and US sanctions designed to collapse the country. Syria was relying on Lebanon as its access point to purchase goods for imports. Now that too is gone. Lebanon’s economic crisis is also affecting Syrian elites who placed their money in Lebanese banks during the war and cannot access it now due to the collapse of the banking sector.

One solution being floated for Lebanon’s economic woes is greater cooperation and economic integration with Syria. Syria, unlike Lebanon, has the capacity to produce with thousands of factories and a labor force. Lebanon produces nothing but has the ability to market and distribute without being hindered by international sanctions. Unfortunately none of this is on the reform agenda of the protests.

Iraq, too, could be a market for Lebanese dairy and agricultural products, which would transit through Syria if the Americans ever unblocked the Tanf crossing between Syria and Iraq. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has mentioned this in his speeches. The solution for Lebanon and its neighbors is cooperation and integration, not further fragmentation as is promoted by the West. 

One figure involved in the protest who is pushing the idea of regional economic integration with Syria is Charbel Nahas, secretary general of the political party Citizens In A State (CIAS). While CIAS refrains from identifying itself as left or right, it is clear from its platform that the party has a leftist progressive bent. CIAS has influenced some of the protest discourse but not when it comes to Syria, which is viewed negatively by the dominant forces on the ground in the protests.

The Lebanese Communist Party, for its part, is advocating nationalization of the banks and the cancelation of the public debt as well as other debts, though this too is not a part of the mainstream discourse. 

Meanwhile, the US has been scheming to exploit Lebanon’s economic desperation against Hezbollah.

After Hariri’s resignation, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a pro-Israel think tank, hosted a panel discussion on the protests sweeping Lebanon. The event was moderated by WINEP fellow Hanin Ghaddar, a native of Lebanon who has devoted her career to lobbying against Hezbollah. She was elated by Hariri’s resignation. 

Among the panelists was Makram Rabah, a lecturer at the American University of Beirut and consultant with Quantum Communications, a marketing firm that played a crucial role in the so-called Cedar Revolution in 2005 that ousted the Syrian army from Lebanon and birthed the pro-American anti-Hezbollah March 14 coalition. 

Image result for ‫رباح لقمان سليم‬‎

Rabah was joined by Lokman Slim, who runs Hayya Bina, a Western-backed NGO that has partnered with an array of US government-funded entities, including the National Democratic Institute, a subsidiary of the National Endowment for Democracy and partner of the US Institute for Peace, which were both founded under Reagan to push regime change in adversary countries under the cover of “democracy promotion.”  

“The USG has been working quietly with Slim for some time” according to Wikileaks cables, which also showcased Hayya Bina’s close coordination with the US embassy.

Through Hayya Bina, Slim runs the website Shiawatch.org, which supposedly monitors the malign activities of Shia groups the US doesn’t like. It’s difficult to imagine Western support for a website called JewWatch, but anti-Shia bigotry has been normalized by Western governments as a tool against Iran.

The WINEP panelists emphasized the need for the US to harness the protests against Hezbollah. 

Mike Pompeo expressed his support for the protests, claiming that protesters “want Hezbollah and Iran out of their country.” Hezbollah is Lebanese, so Pompeo’s declaration was essentially a call for expelling Lebanese people the US does not like from their native country. 

Image result for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also threw his support behind the protests, framing them as a movement against Hezbollah. 

Statements like these encapsulated the danger the protests pose against an imminent economic collapse. So far, American involvement has been minimal and the protests have remained focused on the organic concerns of ordinary Lebanese citizens. But if the US chooses to escalate its involvement, the situation could take a nasty turn.

Rania Khalek journalist

Rania Khalek is an independent journalist living in Beirut, Lebanon. She is the co-host of the Unauthorized Disclosure podcast.

رانيا خالق

كانون الأول  12 2019

من خلال الانضمام إلى حواجز الطرق المحيطة ببيروت، سمح المتظاهرون بأن يُستخدموا من قبل الأطراف المتحالفة مع الولايات المتحدة الذين يلعبون لعبة خطيرة قد تنفجر في حرب مفتوحة.

نشر موقع “ذا غراي زون” الأميركي الجزء الثاني من تحقيق الصحافية اللبنانية الأميركية رانيا خالق حول خلفية الاحتجاجات في لبنان ودور الولايات المتحدة وحلفائها اللبنانيين فيها. والآتي ترجمة أبرز ما جاء في المقالة:

إن الولايات المتحدة تستميت لركوب الموجة الثورية في لبنان، على أمل أن تتمكن من كسر الائتلاف الحاكم الذي يضم حزب الله، وهو هدف رئيسي لإدارة ترامب وأصدقائها من تل أبيب إلى الرياض. وتحقيقاً لهذه الغاية، شجعت شخصيات سياسية في واشنطن (الحراك) واخترقت الأحزاب التي تدعمها الولايات المتحدة حركة الاحتجاج التي اجتاحت البلاد وهي الآن في الخطوط الأمامية للحواجز التي تقطع الطرق في جميع أنحاء البلاد.

في الجزء الأول من هذا التقرير، قمت باستطلاع دور الولايات المتحدة في تسليح نشطاء المنظمات غير الحكومية ومنظمات المجتمع المدني للمشاركة في احتجاجات مكافحة الفساد على مستوى البلاد. في هذا الجزء، سنرى كيف يمتد تأثير الولايات المتحدة وحلفائها الخليجيين إلى أمراء الحرب والإقطاعيين من سمير جعجع إلى وليد جنبلاط إلى سعد الحريري، وكيف يتم استخدامه لزعزعة استقرار البلاد.

عندما بدأت مجموعة اللاعبين المتضاربة مصالحهم على ما يبدو في تقديم دعمها للاحتجاجات ضد الفساد، بدأ العديد من المواطنين اللبنانيين العاديين في النظر إلى التظاهرات بعيون مشككة، وذلك لأن هذه الشخصيات السياسية تمثل تجسيدات حية للفساد الذي حفز الاحتجاجات بداية.

من خلال الانضمام إلى حواجز الطرق المحيطة ببيروت، سمح المتظاهرون عن غير قصد لأن تستخدمهم هذه الأحزاب المتحالفة مع الولايات المتحدة. سواء كانوا يعرفون ذلك أم لا، فإن الفنانين والطلبة الأصدقاء لوسائل الإعلام في طريق الرينغ في وسط بيروت قد قاموا بتغطية حواجز “القوات اللبنانية” في الشمال وحواجز الحزب التقدمي الاشتراكي وحواجز تيار المستقبل في الجنوب.

عبّر المواطنون اللبنانيون في الجنوب ذي الأغلبية الشيعية عن غضبهم من الحواجز. لقد شعروا بالإحباط بشكل خاص من سكان بلدة خلدة، جنوب بيروت، لأنهم جعلوا من الصعب على سكان الجنوب التوجه إلى بيروت.

أدى الحصار إلى تعميق الفجوة بين حركة الاحتجاج وقاعدة حزب الله من القوة العاملة. يفتقر لبنان إلى البنية التحتية للنقل العام، لذا فإن إغلاق الطرق ينتهك حرية تنقل الجميع ولا يترك أي بدائل للوصول إلى العمل. لا أحد يكره إغلاق الطريق أكثر من سائقي سيارات الأجرة.

في أكثر من مناسبة، هاجم الشباب الغاضبون المرتبطون بحركة أمل، الذين عادة ما يكونون من الطبقة العاملة والفقيرة، جسدياً المتظاهرين من الطبقة الوسطى على طريق الرينغ بسبب الإزعاج الناجم عن إغلاق الطريق وبسبب غضبهم من شتم المتظاهرين لرموزهم المقدسة.. وعلى الرغم من أن حزب الله لم يكن مرتبطًا بأعمال العنف هذه، إلا أن الشباب كانوا يلوحون بأعلام حزب الله كإظهار للقوة والتحدي. بعض المتظاهرين على الطريق الرينغ هم من مؤيدي “القوات اللبنانية”، لذلك قام الجانبان في بعض الأحيان باستفزاز بعضهم البعض بهتافات استفزازية متعمدة.

في كل مرة تنشب فيها اشتباكات كهذه، حددت وسائل الإعلام الغربية خطأ مهاجمي “أمل” بأنهم من مؤيدي حزب الله أو قاموا بإخفاء تورط مناصري “أمل” عندما يشارك أنصار الحزب في تكتيكات التخويف…

هناك أيضاً خصومة طبقية واضحة يحجم العديد من المتظاهرين عن الاعتراف بها. معظم المتظاهرين في وسط بيروت من الطبقة الوسطى في حين أن قاعدة حزب الله وحركة أمل فقيرة وطبقة عاملة.

لا يبدو أنه كانت هناك أية محاولات من جانب عناصر وسط بيروت للوصول إلى قاعدة دعم حزب الله أو أمل. بدلاً من ذلك، عندما هاجم هؤلاء الشباب معسكر الاحتجاج، كان المتظاهرون يطلقون عليهم في كثير من الأحيان عن عمد تسميات “حيوانات” و”بلطجية” ويفشلون في تقدير تضحياتهم. وبطبيعة الحال، فإن هذا المركب المنقذ من الطبقة الوسطى قد ضاعف من الشعور بالعزلة بين الجانبين.

كما وقعت حوادث سيارات والعديد من المشاجرات عند حواجز الطرق، بما في ذلك الحادث الذي أصبح قاتلاً. قُتل رجل يدعى علاء أبو فخر، وهو مسؤول في بلدية الشويفات وعضو الحزب التقدمي الاشتراكي، برصاص أحد أفراد الجيش في ظروف مريبة بعد مشادة كلامية على حاجز طريق في خلدة. ويعتقد أن أبو فخر قد ساعد في تنظيم الحاجز…

مع تصاعد التوترات، أصبحت الشكوك والتكهنات المؤامرتية سائدة. لا أحد يصدق القصة الرسمية عن أي شيء. بعد أسبوع من وفاته، أقيمت لوحات إعلانية ضخمة لأبو فاخر في وسط مدينة بيروت وصفته بأنه “شهيد لبنان والثورة ضد المضطهدين”.

في نهر الكلب، بدأ أنصار “القوات اللبنانية” في بناء جدار إسمنتي داخل نفق لإغلاق الطريق السريع كما فعلوا أثناء الحرب الأهلية. وقد أثار هذا الأمر ذعراً من اندلاع حرب أهلية جديدة.

يتم تنظيم وتنسيق حواجز الطرق من خلال مجموعات على واتسآب  WhatsApp. إن حركتها تتصاعد وتنحسر اعتماداً على أحدث حالة غضب خلال اليوم. حتى كتابة هذه السطور، توقفت حواجز الطرق، ولكن هذا من المحتمل أن يتغير وسيزداد غداً أو ربما الأسبوع المقبل. عندما تتلقى حواجز الطرق هذه تغطية إعلامية، يُشار دائماً إلى الذين يقفون وراءهم بأنهم “متظاهرون”، لكن انتماءاتهم السياسية تُحذف دائماً تقريباً، وكذلك أعمال الترهيب الصارخة التي يقومون بها.

إن ما يُكسب المرء لقب المتظاهر في وسائل الإعلام يتمحور كلياً حول الانتماء السياسي. إن أنصار التيار الوطني الحر وحزب الله وحركة أمل يتعرضون للانتقاد بصورة روتينية من قبل خصومهم باعتبارهم بلطجية ومثيري شغب بينما يتم رفض الاحتجاجات الداعمة لهما باعتبارها هامشية. على سبيل المثال، عندما توجه نحو 20000 من أنصار “التيار الوطني الحر” إلى بعبدا بقوافل عدة استغرقت من خمسة إلى عشرة كيلومترات من الطريق السريع لإظهار دعمهم للرئيس ميشال عون الذي هو زعيم حزبهم، سخرت منهم وسائل الإعلام المحلية منهم ورفضتهم.

عندما أطلق أحد أنصار التيار الوطني الحر النار في الهواء أمام متظاهرين مؤلفين من أنصار “القوات اللبنانية” الذين كانوا يقومون بإغلاق الطريق السريع في جل الديب، تم الإبلاغ عن انتمائه السياسي ووصفه بأنه بلطجي. ومع ذلك، نادراً ما يتم الكشف عن الانتماء السياسي لأولئك الذين يقطعون الطريق السريع في روايات وسائل الإعلام. ويشار إليهم ببساطة كمتظاهرين.

في الأوساط الخاصة، معروفة جيداً الأحزاب التي تغلق الطرق، ولكن نادراً ما يجرؤ أي شخص على قول الحقيقة علانية بسبب الخوف من نزع الشرعية عن الحركة ككل. من خلال رفض تسمية الجهات الفاعلة السيئة، فإن أعضاء الحركة يفتحون بشكل أساسي الاحتجاجات كغطاء للعبة الخطيرة التي تنفذها الأحزاب السياسية التي تقوم بعملية قطع الطرق.

لا يريد أي من هذه الأطراف اندلاع حرب، لكنهم يستخدمون تهديد الحرب للضغط على خصومهم – وخاصة حزب الله والتيار الوطني الحر – لتقديم تنازلات. انها حافة الهاوية في أكثر الحالات مثيرة للسخرية.

ومن المرجح أن الولايات المتحدة تشجع ذلك، وهي لا تخفي طموحها في عكس المكاسب السياسية التي حققها حزب الله وشركاؤه في الانتخابات النيابية عام 2018. ربما سيتحول كل ضغط الشارع إلى تنازلات. ولكن هناك أيضاً فرصة أن يؤدي ذلك إلى حرب شاملة…

في لبنان، الجميع يتنافسون على السلطة…

الجيش اللبناني مدرب ومجهز من قبل الولايات المتحدة ويعتمد على واشنطن والاتحاد الأوروبي لبقائه. تلقى أكثر من 32000 من أفراد الجيش اللبناني تدريبات من الولايات المتحدة، و80 في المئة من معدات الجيش تأتي من الولايات المتحدة. إن الاعتقاد في الولايات المتحدة – كما جادل مؤخراً السفير الأميركي السابق في لبنان جيفري فيلتمان – هو أنه من خلال تمكين الجيش اللبناني، سيصبح حزب الله مهجوراً.

عندما أعلن مجلس الأمن القومي للرئيس ترامب عن تعليق مساعدات بقيمة 105 ملايين دولار للجيش اللبناني، حض المشرعان الديمقراطيان المؤيدان لـ”إسرائيل”، إليوت إنغل وتيد ديوتش، الإدارة على إعادة النظر بالأمر. “في الوقت الذي ينمو فيه حزب الله في التطور والقدرة، من الضروري أن تستمر القوات المسلحة اللبنانية في النمو وتعمل كمدافع شرعي وحيد عن سيادة لبنان وأمنه”، وجادلا في رسالة إلى البيت الأبيض تشير بوضوح إلى رغبتهما في عزل حزب الله. وفي 2 كانون الأول ديسمبر الجاري، تخلت إدارة ترامب عن الضغط وأفرجت عن حزمة المساعدات العسكرية هذه.

وقد حاولت وسائل الإعلام الغربية والخليجية تصوير الاحتجاجات على أنها انتفاضة ضد حزب الله ، وضللت نفسها في خيال مناهض لإيران. قد تكون هناك بعض عناصر الاحتجاجات الذين هتفوا ضد حزب الله وأسلحته، لكنهم يعكسون أقلية صغيرة. على الرغم من كل المحاولات الخارجية لاستقطاب الحراك، تظل الاحتجاجات مركزة بقوة على معارضة الفساد والحكومة ككل.

في هذه الأثناء، واصلت وسائل الإعلام الدولية تجاهل مؤيدي حزب الله الذين كانوا حاسمين في أول يومين من الاحتجاجات. كما تجاهلت الصحافة الغربية الهتافات الدائمة ضد “إسرائيل” وحرق الأعلام الأميركية والإسرائيلية وسط الاحتجاجات.

عندما قام أنصار حركة أمل من حي شيعي قريب بضرب المتظاهرين في وسط بيروت بسبب قطعهم الطريق الرئيسي، عرّفهم الإعلام الغربي على أنهم حزب الله…

 في الاحتجاج في صور ، جعلت الموسيقى الصاخبة من الصعب إجراء محادثة هادفة مع أي ناشطين. لكنني تمكنت من إجراء مقابلات مع عدد قليل من المنظمين، لم يعجب أي منهم الآخر.

هرعت صوبي إحدى النساء بعد إجراء مقابلة مع أحد منظمي الاحتجاج لإصراري قائلة، “إنه ليس متظاهراً شرعياً. غادر عندما أمر السيد حسن نصر الله الناس بالرحيل. لذا، فليس له الحق في التحدث باسم الحراك”. كان كل من تحدثت إليهم في تظاهرة صور مؤيداً لحزب الله باعتباره منظمة مقاومة لـ”إسرائيل”. وقالوا إن كل ما أرادوه هو حكومة علمانية يمكنها توفير الخدمات الأساسية – بالكاد تمرد ضد حزب الله.

إذا تم العثور على مشاعر معادية لحزب الله، فستكون في طرابلس، ثاني أكبر مدن لبنان وموقع العنف الطائفي المستمر. كما أنها واحدة من أفقر المناطق في لبنان. ومع ذلك، في ساحة النور في طرابلس، بدا أنه لا أحد يحتج على حزب الله. مثلهم مثل أي شخص آخر في جميع أنحاء البلاد، كانوا يقفون ضد عدم المساواة الاقتصادية.

الغالبية العظمى من الناس في هذا الاحتجاج عاطلون عن العمل. وقد أقاموا مزيجاً غريباً من اللافتات: واحدة تحدد قيم الاحتجاج (السلمية، غير الطائفية، إلخ)، وقائمة أخرى من المواقع المهمة في المدينة، ثم واحدة من عائلات السجناء الإسلاميين تطالب بالإفراج عن أحبائهم.

من بين العشرات من الأشخاص الذين تحدثت إليهم، ذكر واحد فقط حزب الله، وقال: “جزء من المشكلة هو أنه ليس لدينا أي شخص سوى الحريري، وليس لديه أسلحة مثل حزب الله وأمل”. وقال الأب العاطل عن العمل ويبلغ من العمر 28 عاماً: “ليس لدينا شيء. كان هناك ثناء كبير لرئيس تركيا أردوغان، لكن هذا ليس شيئاً غير عادي بالنسبة إلى طرابلس المحافظة”.

يبدو أن كل شخص في هذا الاحتجاج كان لديه شكوى من ارتفاع تكلفة المعيشة وعدم القدرة على توفير الدعم لعائلاتهم أو دفع تكاليف الإجراءات الطبية اللازمة. على عكس المتظاهرين في وسط بيروت الذين أصروا على وجود حراك بلا قيادة، فإن الناس في طرابلس كانوا يائسين في طلب قائد ذي كاريزما. وبينما كانوا يتوقون لوجه جديد للتصويت له، لم يكن لديهم أحد في الاعتبار.

عندما سئلوا عما إذا كانوا سيصوتون لصالح أي من المجموعات البديلة المشاركة في الاحتجاجات، أجابوا بالنفي. كان أحد مطالب الاحتجاجات إجراء انتخابات مبكرة. لكن من غير المرجح أن تسفر الانتخابات المبكرة عن نتائج مختلفة كثيراً عن نتائج انتخابات 2018 ، حيث فاز تحالف المجتمع المدني للأحزاب البديلة بمقعد واحد فقط في البرلمان، والذي ذهب في النهاية إلى امرأة في حزب سبعة” (بولا يعقوبيان).

كان هناك القليل من التنظيم السياسي الذي يمكن العثور عليه في معسكرات الاحتجاج هذه، باستثناء ربما عقد الحزب الشيوعي اللبناني نقاشاً في حديقة قريبة حول أهمية فتح الأماكن العامة. خلاف ذلك، جلس الناس للتو للدردشة عن الثورة، في انتظار أن تصبح منظمة.

مع بدء الاحتفالات، قام الباعة ببيع الحلوى، وبُدء بث الموسيقى، وتحولت الاحتجاج على الفور إلى كرنفال ليلي. إن عدم تسييس الحدث بشكل شبه فوري جعلني أتساءل من كان بالضبط وراء الموسيقى. تساعد مثل هذه المشاهد في تفسير سبب ميل المتظاهرين إلى أن يكونوا محدودين في الثقافة السياسية. إنهم يائسون من أجل حياة أفضل ولكن هناك عدد قليل من المنظمات التي لديها القدرة والموارد لتنظيمها على نطاق واسع، لا سيما في الاتجاه اليساري الذي يبرز الأسباب الجذرية لمحنتهم: الليبرالية الجديدة والإمبريالية…

يواجه الاقتصاد اللبناني انهياراً وشيكاً. البطالة تنتشر، والأسعار ترتفع، ويستمر سعر الشارع لليرة اللبنانية في الانخفاض. هناك القليل الذي يمكن القيام به لتجنب الانهيار، الذي تم صنعه منذ ثلاثين عاماً.

امتد انهيار الاقتصاد اللبناني إلى سوريا، التي كانت تتأرجح بالفعل على حافة الانهيار الاقتصادي بسبب ثماني سنوات من الحرب، وسوء إدارة الحكومة والعقوبات الأميركية التي تسعى إلى انهيار البلاد. كانت سوريا تعتمد على لبنان كنقطة وصول لشراء البضائع للواردات. والآن بعد أن توقف ذلك أيضاً،  تؤثر الأزمة الاقتصادية في لبنان على النخب السورية التي وضعت أموالها في البنوك اللبنانية خلال الحرب ولا يمكنها الوصول إليها الآن بسبب انهيار القطاع المصرفي.

يتمثل أحد الحلول التي يتم طرحها للمشاكل الاقتصادية في لبنان في زيادة التعاون والتكامل الاقتصادي مع سوريا. سوريا، على عكس لبنان، لديها القدرة على الإنتاج مع الآلاف من المصانع والقوى العاملة. لا ينتج لبنان شيئاً إلا أنه لديه القدرة على التسويق والتوزيع من دون إعاقة العقوبات الدولية. لسوء الحظ، لم يكن أي من هذا على أجندة إصلاحات الاحتجاجات.

يمكن للعراق أيضاً أن يكون سوقاً لمنتجات الألبان والمنتجات الزراعية اللبنانية، والتي سوف تمر عبر سوريا إذا قام الأميركيون يوماً بإغلاق معبر التنف بين سوريا والعراق. وقد ذكر  قائد حزب الله، (السيد) حسن نصر الله، هذا في خطاباته. الحل للبنان وجيرانه هو التعاون والتكامل، وليس مزيد من التشرذم كما يروّج الغرب.

إحدى الشخصيات المشاركة في الاحتجاج الذي يدفع فكرة التكامل الاقتصادي الإقليمي مع سوريا هو شربل نحاس، الأمين العام للحزب السياسي “مواطنون في دولة” بينما تمتنع عن تعريف حزبه بأنها يسار أو يمين، فمن الواضح من برنامجه أن الحزب لديه ميل يساري تقدمي. لقد أثّر “مواطنون في دولة”  في بعض خطاب الاحتجاج ولكن ليس عندما يتعلق الأمر بسوريا، والتي ينظر إليها سلباً من قبل القوى المهيمنة على الأرض في الاحتجاجات.

يدافع الحزب الشيوعي اللبناني، من جانبه، عن تأميم البنوك وإلغاء الدين العام إضافة إلى الديون الأخرى، رغم أن هذا ليس هو أيضاً جزء من الخطاب السائد.

في هذه الأثناء، كانت الولايات المتحدة تخطط لاستغلال يأس لبنان الاقتصادي ضد حزب الله.

بعد استقالة الحريري، استضاف معهد واشنطن لسياسة الشرق الأدنى، وهو مؤسسة بحثية مؤيدة لـ”إسرائيل”، حلقة نقاش حول الاحتجاجات التي تجتاح لبنان. أدارت هذا الحدث حنين غدار، الزميلة في المعهد، وهي من مواليد لبنان كرّست حياتها المهنية للضغط على حزب الله. لقد استاءت من استقالة الحريري.

وكان من بين المشاركين مكرم رباح، وهو محاضر في الجامعة الأميركية في بيروت ومستشار في شركة Quantum Communications ، وهي شركة تسويق لعبت دوراً حاسماً في ما يسمى “ثورة الأرز” في عام 2005 التي أطاحت بالجيش السوري من لبنان وولدت تحالف 14 آذار المناهض لحزب الله.

Image result for ‫رباح لقمان سليم‬‎

وانضم إلى رباح لقمان سليم، الذي يدير “هيا بنا”، وهي منظمة غير حكومية مدعومة من الغرب وشاركت مع مجموعة من الكيانات التي تمولها الحكومة الأميركية، بما في ذلك المعهد الوطني الديمقراطي، وهو فرع من المؤسسة الوطنية للديمقراطية وشريك المعهد الأميركي من أجل السلام، الذي تأسس في عهد الرئيس رونالد ريغان لدفع تغيير النظام في البلدان المعادية تحت غطاء “تعزيز الديمقراطية”.

“تعمل حكومة الولايات المتحدة بهدوء مع شركة سليم لبعض الوقت” وفقًا لتسريبات ويكيليكس، والتي أظهرت أيضًا التنسيق الوثيق بين “هيا بنا” والسفارة الأميركية.

من خلال “هيا بنا”، يدير سليم موقع Shiawatch.org  “مراقبة الشيعة”، الذي يُفترض أنه يراقب الأنشطة الخبيثة للمجموعات الشيعية التي لا تحبها الولايات المتحدة..

وقد أكد أعضاء لجنة معهد واشنطن على ضرورة قيام الولايات المتحدة بتسخير الاحتجاجات ضد حزب الله.

وعبّر مايك بومبيو عن دعمه للاحتجاجات، مدعياً أن المحتجين “يريدون أن يخرج حزب الله وإيران من بلادهم”. حزب الله لبناني، لذلك كان إعلان بومبيو بمثابة دعوة لطرد اللبنانيين الذين لا تحبهم الولايات المتحدة من وطنهم الأم. كما أعلن رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي بنيامين نتنياهو دعمه للاحتجاجات، واصفاً إياها بأنها حركة ضد حزب الله.

وقد غطت تصريحات كهذه الخطر الذي تشكله الاحتجاجات ضد الانهيار الاقتصادي الوشيك. حتى الآن، كانت المشاركة الأميركية في حدها الأدنى، وظلت الاحتجاجات مركزة على المخاوف العضوية للمواطنين اللبنانيين العاديين. لكن إذا اختارت الولايات المتحدة تصعيد مشاركتها، فإن الموقف قد يأخذ منعطفاً سيئاً.

*رانيا خالق  صحافية لبنانية أميركية مستقلة تعيش في بيروت.

ترجمة: هيثم مزاحم – الميادين نت.

إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي الصحيفة حصراً

المصدر : ذا غراي زون

Related

حرب باردة بين «الثوار»: من ينسّق «الثورة»؟

رلى إبراهيم

الأربعاء 11 كانون الأول 2019

Image result for ‫هيئة تنسيق الثورة‬‎

تدور حرب باردة بين هيئة تنسيق الثورة وبعض المجموعات الناشطة في الثورة. الأسباب ليست كثيرة، لكنها تتراوح ما بين فرض الهيئة نفسها كناطق باسم الثوار، وضمها لحزب سبعة «السيّئ السمعة». أخيراً دخل بعض المصلحين على خط عقد اجتماع للمّ الشمل وإرساء أرضية حوار مشتركة

Image result for ‫العميد المتقاعد جورج نادر‬‎

منذ انطلاقة ما يُسمى بـ«هيئة تنسيق الثورة» التي أذاع بيانها الأول العميد المتقاعد جورج نادر من ساحة الشهداء، بدأت علامات الاستفهام تتكاثر حول هدف هذه الهيئة وتوجهات أعضائها. وكلما أصدرت الهيئة بياناً، زاد توتر المجموعات الأخرى، لعدة أسباب أهمها اسم الهيئة بشكل خاص.

Image result for ‫حزب سبعة‬‎

فمن عمد إلى إطلاق تسمية «هيئة تنسيق الثورة على نفسه، يدرك ضمنياً أنه سيتم التعامل مع البيانات الصادرة عنه على أنها تمثل كل المجموعات وخصوصاً مع المبالغة في أعداد المجموعات المنضوية ضمن الهيئة»، يقول شبان من مجموعات خارج الهيئة، رافضين نشر أسمائهم. إلا أن ما لا يقوله هؤلاء مباشرة أن إحدى المشكلات الرئيسية مع الهيئة، هو ضمّها حزب سبعة إلى صفوفها. فيما المشكلة الأخرى تتعلق بأسلوب عمل هيئة التنسيق وإصرارها على عقد مؤتمرات صحافية للإيحاء بحيازتها على تفويض رسمي، بينما يمكن الاكتفاء ببيان من دون «همروجة إعلامية».

الاعتراض الثالث هو على تأييد بعض المجموعات المنضوية في الهيئة لحكم العسكر واقتناعهم بضرورة حصول انقلاب عسكري يؤدي إلى تسلم الجيش زمام الحكم. «الثغرة هنا»، يقول قائد إحدى المجموعات، بأن «هيئة التنسيق تدّعي ضمها لنحو 80 مجموعة زوراً، والدليل الحشد الذي واكب دعوة العميد نادر للاعتصام أمام المرفأ، ومن تظاهروا على طريق القصر الجمهوري بطلب من حزب سبعة». بنظره، «لا مصداقية لهؤلاء لدى الناس وخصوصاً مع ارتباط أسمائهم ببعض الأجهزة الأمنية». ظلت الانتقادات مدفونة إلى حين عقد الهيئة لمؤتمر صحافي يوم الأحد الماضي. تلت مقررات اجتماع الهيئة يومها كارلا علام، إحدى الناشطات في مجموعة «التيار/الخط التاريخي» التي تضم شابات وشباناً فُصلوا من التيار الوطني الحر أو استقالوا أو خيب آمالهم كل من رئيس الجمهورية ميشال عون ووزير الخارجية جبران باسيل.

لم يكن مضمون الكلام مستفزاً لأي مجموعة بل كان رفضاً «لمهزلة التأليف قبل التكليف، ورفضاً لترشيح رئيس الحكومة المستقيل سعد الحريري لرئاسة الحكومة من جديد». كذلك دعت الهيئة الى «إجراء انتخابات نيابية مبكرة وفق القانون النسبي وتخفيض سن الاقتراع إلى 18 سنة»، الأمر الذي لا يزال محور اختلاف بين المجموعات الناشطة. بسرعة، نُظمت حملة على كارلا علام، وتم تخوينها وإطلاق الشتائم والصفات المسيئة لها، عبر نشر صور من حسابها على موقع «فايسبوك» تجمعها بباسيل والنائب العوني آلان عون. الصور تلك تعود إلى عام 2016، فيما كل منشورات علّام الأخيرة تحمل انتقادات سياسية لأداء التيار الوطني الحر ورئيس الجمهورية. بدا واضحاً لبعض أعضاء الهيئة أن الهدف وراء الحملة هو «شيطنتنا بمختلف الطرق عبر وضعنا في خندق واحد مع الأحزاب السياسية وتصويرنا وكأننا ننفذ أجنداتهم».

في الأصل، تضم الهيئة نحو 67 مجموعة. وربما لذلك، يقول بعض أعضاء تلك المجموعات، ثمة مسعى منذ اللحظة الأولى لفكّ ارتباطات هذه المجموعات، بعد أن نجحنا في خلق مساحة مشتركة لعدد أوسع من الشابات والشبان من مختلف المناطق ويحملون أفكاراً متنوعة. حملة التشهير بالهيئة، وفقاً للعميد المتقاعد جورج نادر، تدرّجت من «قواص حركة أمل وحزب الله والتيار الوطني الحر في الشهر الأول علينا بأننا نتحرك عبر توجيهات من الحزب الاشتراكي والقوات وتيار المستقبل، إلى حملة قواتية بأغلبيتها ويشارك فيها بعض شباب تيار المستقبل بأننا ننتمي إلى التيار الوطني الحر؛ رغم أن كارلا تركت التيار منذ عام. ندرك جيداً أن القوات والمستقبل مش شايفين إلا سعد وهالهم رفضنا علانية وعبر مؤتمر صحافي لإعادة تكليفه. ونحن ما شايفين الفريقين. علماً أن بعض الذين شاركوا في الحملة علينا عبّروا عن طيبة قلب وغيرة على الثورة لا أكثر». يرفض نادر ما يحمّله إياه عدد من المجموعات عن ادّعاء الهيئة قيادة الثورة، نافياً أن يكون أي عضو في الهيئة قد قال أي كلمة في هذا الإطار.

نادر: «حزب سبعة» لم يعد عضواً في «هيئة تنسيق الثورة»… وهو منذ البداية يعمل لوحده

ويتحداهم بإبراز أي تصريح أو بيان أو منشور يدل على ذلك: «البعض مزعوجون من التسمية. نحن 67 مجموعة ننسق في ما بيننا ومع المجموعات الأخرى. شعاراتنا واضحة وهي ضد تدخل المرجعيات الدينية في تسمية المرشحين، ونؤكد أنه إذا ما أعيد تكليف الحريري سنعود إلى يوم مماثل ليوم 17 تشرين الأول. وهنا تتحمل السلطة السياسية كل ضربة كفّ ونقطة دم». يشير نادر إلى أن هناك غرفاً سرية للأحزاب وجيوشاً الكترونية همها الرئيسي ضرب الثورة وأكبر صورة لتحالفهم ظهر في انتخابات نقابة المحامين. «وصل الأمر بهذه الأحزاب إلى اتهامي بالعمالة للولايات المتحدة… نحن أوامرنا من جوّا… من الساحات وإذا كان يملك أحدهم أي دليل على تنسيق أي عضو من هيئتنا مع أي طرف مشكوك في أمره فليبلغنا بذلك». وبحسب نادر، حزب سبعة لم يعد عضواً في هيئة التنسيق، «وهو منذ البداية يعمل بمفرده من دون التعاون معنا».

أخيراً تدخل بعض المصلحين لإنهاء الحرب الباردة بين هيئة التنسيق وبعض المجموعات الأخرى كـ«بيروت مدينتي» و«لحقي» و«كلنا وطني» والكتلة الوطنية و«لبنان عن جديد» والحزب الشيوعي وغيرهم. يقوم هؤلاء بمبادرة لإرساء مساحة مشتركة بين الجانبين بعيداً عن التوضيحات والتوضيحات المضادّة. تقرر عقد اجتماع مشترك لم يُحدد ما إذا كان نهار الجمعة المقبل أو السبت، للتوافق حول أفكار أساسية كإجراء الاستشارات النيابية وتشكيل حكومة في أسرع وقت على أن تكون «نظيفة» ومؤلفة من «كفاءات إنما خالية من حيتان السياسة المعروفين». الكل متفق مسبقاً على «رفض فرض المفتي لسعد الحريري كرئيس حكومة وهو ما عبّرت عنه غالبية الناشطين على مواقع التواصل، إلا أن المحطات التلفزيونية لم تنقل الآراء المعبّرة عن هذا الرفض، لأسباب نجهلها».

Quo Vadis, Lebanon?

Global Research, December 03, 2019

Good bye, Lebanon, metaphorically and truly.

Good bye to a country which, many believe, actually has already ceased to exist.

For five long years I have been commuting between the Asia Pacific and the Middle East.And Beirut, for all that time, was one of my homes.

I arrived in Beirut when the situation in the region was beginning to be unbearable; when destabilized, tortured Syria commenced losing its children in large numbers. They were forced to leave their homeland, heading for Beirut and the Beqaa Valley, and in fact, to all parts of the world. I arrived when Syrian refugees were freezing to death, exploited and brutalized in ancient, godforsaken villages lost in the deep, lawless Lebanese valleys.

I was not supposed to write about it, but I did. I was not supposed to see what I saw. It was the UN’s shame, a well-hidden and well covered one, obscured by technical jargon. Refugees were not called refugees, and camps were not really officially registered as camps. What you had clearly seen with your own eyes, you were told, was actually totally something else. But it wasn’t. Eyes hardly lie.

Lebanon’s mirages, sandcastles and myths. If you live here, they surround you, suffocate you, choke you, all the time.

I arrived when the Palestinians began rebelling inside the horrific camps; hopeless, monstrous places where tens of thousands of human beings have been forced to live, for decades, without help, with hardly any rights.

And I left when the country collapsed. When the gap between the haves and have nots reached such enormous proportions, that it often began to appear that there were actually two different countries, even universes, on the same tiny geographical territory that is called Lebanon.

*

But before I left, there was an uprising.

Of course, periodically, there are rebellions here, which are misleadingly called “revolutions”. The“revolution” of 2005, of 2015, and now again, in 2019.

I worked in the center of Beirut, in the squares packed with the protesters. I tried to understand, to analyze, to find context.

And what did I witness? Huge clenched fists, those of the Serbian “Otpor”, a CIA-Serbian (extreme right-wing) ‘organization’, which forced the government of Slobodan Milosevic out of power, and which later infiltrated and destroyed genuine revolts all over the Middle East; revolts cynically called by the Western mass media – “Arab Spring”.

I actually saw many signs of Otpor, a sister group of Canvas, and when I asked protesters in Beirut whether they knew what these organizations represented, they replied that “no”, they didn’t but “they’d definitely ask their designers”.

There was a lot of waving of flags, plenty of singing, and even dancing. Rebellion Lebanese-style. One big party. Smiles, laughter, even when things get desperate.

Protesters have many grievances, and they are willing to discuss them, openly: corruption, hardship, almost non-existent social services, and hardly any future.

But do not look for any signs of ideology here, in 2019: this is not a communist, or even a socialist, rebellion, although historically, Lebanon has vibrant socialist and communist movements, both of them.

One thing is certain: protesters “do not like ‘elites’”, but you will search in vain for slogans denouncing capitalism; something that is so common in Chile and of course, in Bolivia (but not in Hong Kong, where the riots are clearly backed by the West and by some local ‘elites’).

Protesters do not like electricity blackouts, water shortages, filth accumulated everywhere because of the failed garbage collection and recycling. The protesters hate the high prices, and traffic jams.

But what do they want, really?

*

They want a “better Lebanon”. But what is that?

A Lebanon free of racism, for instance? No, I never saw any signs denouncing racism.

When I first began living here, I was horrified by the bigotry of the locals.

A driver working for one of the UN agencies, did not even try to hide his ‘beliefs’:

“The Turkish nation has improved. In the past, they only screwed Asian women, and as a result, they all looked like dogs. After they conquered the Balkans, and began screwing European women, their stock got better.” 

Arriving at Rafik Hariri International Airport, I often saw humiliated Philippine, Ethiopian, or Kenyan women, locked in crowded rooms, guarded by Lebanese security forces. They looked like slaves, treated like meat. Unhurriedly, their “owners” would come to fetch them, signing release papers, leading them away.

The abuse of domestic workers in Lebanon is horrific; torture, rape and death are common. Foreign workers are regularly committing suicide. While there is hardly any legal protection for them.

Is this going to change? Are protesters demanding a “better Lebanon” which would once and for all finish with this sort of discrimination?Again, I have never heard about such demands.

And what has been sustaining Lebanon, financially, for decades?

All over West Africa, unscrupulous, racist and brutal Lebanese businesspeople have been exploiting local folks, while plundering natural resources. The things that I heard in Ivory Coast, would shock even the most hardened readers. But are there any slogans in Beirut demanding theplunder of West Africa stop?

Another fabled source of income are the narcotics, grown and processed in the Beqaa Valley. If it were to be marijuana, who cares? But Lebanon is producing heroin and cocaine, but above all, so-called “combat drugs”, including Captagon, which is used on the battlefields of Syria and Yemen. Captagonis regularly smuggled out of the country by the Saudis, and used in jihadi operations, as I have reported.

Is this going to end? Are Lebanese protesters demanding a “better Lebanon” without drugs that are helping to kill and torture tens of thousands of innocent people, all over the region?

What are the other sources of income here? Banking, of course. Banks that operate all over the Middle East, and the Gulf.

And, of course, “foreign aid”. Aid which is supposed to “help the immigrants”, as well as the poor Lebanese who are “suffering from the waves of refugees”, arrivingfrom countries destabilized by the West. These funds regularly disappear, fully or partially”,into the deep pockets of the Lebanese elites, who make sure to generate profits no matter what: when the refugees keep arriving, and even when they leave.

Before I departed, I spent one week wandering all around Beirut, day and night, searching foranswers, looking for signs that the protesters were really determined to change the country. Not just for themselves, but for everyone in Lebanon, and for the entire Arab world.

I encountered too many abstract slogans, most of them of Western origin. Not even a trace of Syrian Pan-Arabism. Nothing that would even remotely resemble internationalism. This was clearly a “European-style” rebellion.

*

As always, the Lebanese security forces were intimidating me and many others.

Coming to Martyr’s Square, at night, I only pointed the lens of my camera in the direction of a group of lazy, cynical looking soldiers, and it propelled them immediately into action. They tried to force me to delete the images, to apologize. I did not budge. I had no problem photographing police in Hong Kong, or in Paris, Chile or other places. And I have had enough, after 5 years here, of these inept and arrogant brutes.

But here, the armed forces are “unique”; not much is expected from them. It is Hezbollah which comes to the rescue of Lebanon whenever it is attacked by Israel. Hezbollah fighters are well trained, and they are disciplined. While the Lebanese army (and its various “forces”) is manned by those who cannot find a decent job. If it protects somebody or something, it is the Lebanese regime, sustained by the West and Saudi Arabia.

I refused to hand over my phones and cameras to them.

Arrest me,” I offered, extending both my hands.

They did not. It would be too much effort, and paperwork.

Later, the protesters hugged me:

“It is great that you did not surrender your material to them. You see, if it was us, the Lebanese, they would beat us up, and smash our cameras.” 

A lady protester added:

“You never know what they are hiding, but they are hiding something, always. Perhaps they did not want the world to see how lazy they are. They stand here, in clusters, doing nothing, chatting. Then, when they get tired of doing nothing, they mobilize and attack us. They are unpredictable.”

A couple of months ago, during the short conflict between Israel and Lebanon (Israeli drone attack and Hezbollah retaliation), I managed to drive to the border, as I had on several previous occasions.

Almost the entire defense of Lebanon has been resting on the shoulders of Hezbollah, with UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) troops, consisting of Indonesian, South Korean, Italian, Ghanaian and others forces, patrolling the frontier in armored vehicles, and providing mostly psychological deterrence from the large fortified bases, including the one at Naqoura.

Lebanese armed forces have very little ability to defend their country. That includes the Lebanese Air Force, which mainly counts on things that could be described as toy airplanes, with converted Cessna models.

Now, theLebanese army and police are facing and confronting their own people, protecting the regime in Beirut, as well as foreign, mainly Western and Saudi, interests.

*

But back to the main question which is, surprisingly, very rarely asked by the Western mass media outlets: “What do Lebanese people really want? What is the goal of the uprising?”

Rebellion began on October 17, against proposed tax on WhatsApp calls. It soon turned into call for resignation of the entire government; call for total overhaul of the Lebanese system. Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, resigned. Others stayed, but country has been paralyzed for weeks.

Some Lebanese call what is happening on the streets of Beirut, Tripoli and other cities, an “October Revolution”, but in reality, this uprising has very little to do with the iconic Russian Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

However, one positive thing is that many Lebanese people are now calling for direct democracy, and for a people’s parliament.

Alessandra Bajec recently wrote for The New Arab newspaper:

“Protests and strikes are not the only nationwide thing dominating Lebanon. Open discussions held by groups of citizens is the latest phenomenon happening on the streets of Lebanon. 

A series of open discussions led by a variety of groups of citizens are held daily around Lebanon helping to feed the hearts and minds of the revolutionary movement since the start of the country’s so-called “October Revolution”. 

I witnessed those gatherings in Beirut. It is an impressive idea, in a way far more advanced than what has been observed in Europe, during the recent protests in France and elsewhere.

It is clear that Lebanese rebels have had enough of the sectarian politics, of savage capitalism (although, this is not being pronounced as such), and of the endemic corruption.

For decades, after the devastating Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), thecountry remained bitterly divided. Again, it is actually something that is not supposed to be discussed, even mentioned, but allegiances in this nation of (officially) 4.4 million, have been commonly pledged toreligious leaders and movements, and not to the state.

David Morrison wrote in Labor & Trade Union Review:

“Lebanon’s political system has a uniquely confessional character, which has its origin in the National Pact of 1943.  Under this unwritten Pact, the President of the Republic must be a Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and the President (Speaker) of the Parliament a Shiite Muslim. 

What is more, 50% of the 128 seats in the Parliament are allocated to Christians, and 50% to Muslims, and these allocations are further sub-divided for Christian and Muslim sects.  In total, seats are allocated to each of 18 sects.  Nationally, the 64 Christian seats are allocated as follows: Maronite 34, Greek Orthodox 14, Greek Catholic 8, Armenian Orthodox 5, Armenian Catholic 1, Protestant 1 and Others 1; and the 64 Muslim seats are allocated as follows: Sunni 27, Shiite 27, Druze 8 and Alawite 2. 

So, in total Christians have 50% of the seats, and the Sunni and Shiite communities just over 20% each. 

There was no provision in the National Pact for altering these allocations to reflect demographic changes.  And there is still none today.  These allocations may have corresponded to the proportion of each sect in the electorate at one time, but they certainly don’t today.  But it’s impossible to say with any precision what they should be, since there hasn’t been a national census since 1932.  This is a very sensitive issue within Lebanon, an issue that has the potential to trigger civil conflict.” 

Naturally, this sclerotic and stale system of secretive divides and coalitions, led to outrageous corruption. Religious and family clans managed to amass tremendous wealth, while enjoying almost absolute impunity.

Discussing sensitive political issues with various Lebanese protesters and activists in 2015 (“You Stink” movement), as well as during the recent uprising of 2019, I came to the clear understanding that most of the educated protesters (and Lebanon is without any doubt one of the most educated nations in the Arab world), have been totally rejecting the sectarian system. In fact, they were thoroughly disgusted with it.

As early as in 2015, one of the main demands was to “unite Lebanon”; to make sure that it gets governed by people elected based on their virtues and excellence, instead of religious beliefs.

Particularly young people have had enough of those escapes to Cyprus (in order to get married), if a couple belonged to two different religions, or if one or both individuals had no religion at all. They were revolted by the fact that their child could no be registered in their own country, if there was no official Lebanese marriage certificate.

And most of the people I spoke to, understood that the shocking lack of transparency on which the Lebanese regime has been thriving, only serves those very few extremely rich individuals and families. The economy of the country is shattered, debt is at 150% GDP, basically unserviceable, and the divide between the rich and poor, monstrous. For millions, leaving the country became the only option. But luxury marinas are full of lavish yachts, while Maserati sport cars and Range Rover SUVs are parked all over the capital, in front of luxury restaurants and bars.

The Lebanese revolutionaries are organizing open discussions, but that is not all – they want a totally new political system.

The problem is, they are not sure, which one.

But, they are certain that by holding open forums and public meetings,they will, eventually, find out what precisely it is they want.

Alessandra Bajec continues witha description of direct-democracy groups:

Rachad Samaha, a social activist and core member of the free discussions group adds, “We were talking among ourselves about how we could be more involved in the revolution… not just by joining protests, but through helping to bring people together to discuss issues that we are all fighting against. We can then reach some common ground.” 

Centering such group discussions over the need to change the current political system, and put an end to sectarianism, and possible ways to fix the country’s rapidly declining economy has been the leading drive for prompting exchanges of views between people from within the largest protest movement. 

The major matters of national concern voiced by citizens taking part in the talks include the accelerating economic crisis, the embezzlement of public funds, the decades-long ruling political elites who are being held responsible for the deepening crisis, and the confessional system, where power is divided among sects and has created patronage networks and clientelism at the detriment of the population.” 

All this is true. But this is Lebanon, the Middle East, where nothing is really simple.

Here, the West has a tremendous influence, and so do the best allies of Washington in the region, the Saudis. All this money ‘wasted’, all that eye-closing, simply ought to have guaranteed certain allegiances.

Under the surface, the West, Israel and Saudi Arabia are all after Iran, and Iran is allied with Hezbollah, and Hezbollah is the only true and powerful social force in Lebanon, where almost everything public has been already privatized, or stolen, or both.

Hezbollah is also the only true protection that Lebanon has, against Israel. While the West does not want anyone to be protected against Israel.

Predictably, Hezbollah is on the “terrorist list” of the United States, and on the lists of several of its allies.

Hezbollah had a strategic alliance with the previous government of Hariri, who resigned several weeks ago (and Hezbollah was warning against pushing for the collapse of the government, and even tried to clear the roadblocks erected by the protesters).

Now, what will really happen if the protesters win? Who will be benefiting? What if the old regime collapses; what if there is no more Hezbollah, and no more protection against the “Southern Neighbor”?

*

What kind of Lebanon can replace this present, terribly inefficient, even brutal and corrupt state?

If you are in Achrafieh neighborhood, the richest place in Lebanon, where the old Christian money resides, you would be told, by many, things that you would most likely not want to hear.

You’d be “explained” that Lebanon was supposed to be a Christian country, that the French created it as the only Christian state in the Middle East. You would hear Palestinians being insulted, horribly, and you would see posters of extreme-right-wing political leaders.

Once, there, I had a haircut, and an old barber parted with me, by raising his right hand into the air, and shouting: “Heil Hitler!” (After that, I quickly switched to a Syrian barber).

A neighbor once told me:

“French imperialism? Oh, but we would love to have the French back! That would be brilliant, to be colonized by them, again, no?” 

It was not a joke. He meant it. Each and every word, that he uttered.

These things are not supposed to be written about, at least not in the mainstream press. But this is not the mainstream press, and I believe that without understanding these nuances, it is impossible to understand Lebanon, and what could happen if the revolution wins.

Who is singing and dancing at the center of Beirut? Who is demanding for the resignation of the entire regime? Are these mainly Christians or Muslims? I am not sure. Judging by the number of headscarves, most likely, the majority are not Muslim. But again, I am not sure. This is not a question that one can present, to the protesters.

This is definitely not a revolution that would advance the interests of the Muslim-socialist Iran. And the same could be said about what is going on, simultaneously, in Iraq.

Can Western-backed “secularism” convert Lebanon into a Western outpost in the Middle East? Could it further hurt, even damage, Syria? Theoretically, yes. Could it hurt the interests of non-Western, anti-imperialist countries like Russia and China? Most definitely.

Is that what is happening? Could this be another shade of the “Color Revolutions”, or a continuation of the so-called Arab Spring?

No one can answer these questions, yet. But the situation has to be monitored, extremely carefully. Given the history of Lebanon, given its position in the world, its political and economic orientation, as well as education, the country can go either way. Given the choice, people could opt for a socialist state, or of returning to the Western colonial realm.

The West is doing all it can to bring Lebanon into its orbit. The clenched fists of Otpor are clear proof and warning of it. It is a well documented fact, that Canvashas been operating here at least since 2005.

 

*

Leaving Beirut, at the gate, I was once again stopped by anofficer of the security forces. He was rude. They always search for Israeli stamps or for exit stamps, or something, in the passports. And I had enough of him. Here, at Rafik Hariri, I saw them, for years, humiliating Ethiopian women, crushing Syrians, while treating like gods, white visitors from Europe and the United States.

“Why not fight Israelis, instead of women and children?” I suggested to him, grinning.

And all hell broke loose. And they dragged me away from the gate. And the giant Boeing 777-300 had to wait, as Air France refused to back down and download my luggage and leave me behind.

They called some generals back in Beirut. They were jumping around, shouting something, bluffing. I couldn’t care one single bit. My work here was finished. In Paris, I had nine days to kill, writing, before departing for South America. Waiting there, or in some filthy jail in Lebanon, made very little difference to me. I would have liked to be in Damascus, but my visa had already expired. So, I just waited.

In the end, they let me go. Prisoners who are not scared, are not fun to hold.

The airplane maneuvered towards the runway, then the engines roared, and we took off. Halas.

My memory cards are holding hours of footage from all corners of Lebanon. I was not sure what will I do with it.

Above all, I was not sure what the Lebanese will do with their own country.

A giant clenched fist was stickingout from the Martyr’s Square. Was this a foreign implant, a well-planned sabotage, or a genuine symbol of resistance?

On Independence Day, the fist was burned down, destroyed. Vandals!, screamed foreign media. I am not sure: this is extremely complex country.

The country was collapsing. Perhaps it has already collapsed. People were talking, shouting, singing. Some were living in dire misery. Others were driving Ferraris and torturing imported maids.

The country has been desperately trying to go forward. But forward could mean many, many different directions. In Lebanon, for each person, for each group: forward is towards somewhere else!

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Andre Vltchek

Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, and a writer that penned a number of books, including China and Ecological Civilization. He writes especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published.

All images in this article are from the author

الحريري إلى الشارع مجدداً!

الحريري إلى الشارع مجدداً!

(مروان طحطح)

سياسة

الأخبار

الثلاثاء 3 كانون الأول 2019

طوال اليومين الماضين، تزامنت أخبار اللقاءات التي يجريها المرشح لتولي رئاسة الحكومة، سمير الخطيب، مع شائعات عن إيجابية توحي بقرب تأليف الحكومة. لكن وقائع الليلة الماضية كشفت أن كل ما اشيع عن تطورات ايجابية لا يبدو دقيقاً. على العكس من ذلك، تشير المعلومات إلى أن رئيس حكومة تصريف الاعمال، سعد الحريري، يتجه صوب التصعيد بهدف تحصيل تنازلات من رئيس الجمهورية العماد ميشال عون وحزب الله وحركة أمل. وما يريده الحريري ليس أكثر من تأليف حكومة تُرضي الدول الغربية الكبرى، وعلى رأسها الولايات المتحدة. وأكثر ما أظهر نوايا الحريري العودة إلى اللعب بالشارع. ففيما لم تعلن أي جهة او مجموعة مشاركة في الانتفاضة الشعبية عن دعوة لإقفال الطرقات، نزل شبان في المناطق التي يملك فيها تيار «المستقبل» نفوذاً كبيراً، في بيروت والبقاع وطريق الجنوب، لقطع الطرقات، من دون تحديد أي هدف لهذا العمل. الأمنيون، قبل المعنيين بالمفاوضات الرامية إلى تسمية رئيس للحكومة، لم يصدقوا بيان تيار المستقبل الذي تبرأ من البيانات «المجهولة المصدر» التي دعت إلى إقفال الطرقات. الوجوه نفسها كانت في الشوارع أمس. وجوههم ظاهرة في كاميرات المراقبة التابعة لقوى الامن الداخلي. كما أن استخبارات الجيش وفرع المعلومات يعرفان أسماء المسؤولين عن تحريك الشبان. في الناعمة، وقصقص، والكولا، والمدينة الرياضية، وفي عدد من القرى البقاعية، قُطِعت الطرق، كما اعتاد المحركون انفسهم والقاطعون انفسهم أن يفعلوا منذ أسابيع. لكن هذه المرة كان الجيش أكثر «تشدّداً» من المرّات السابقة، ولم يصبر بالقدر الذي اعتاده. بمجرّد قطع مجموعة شبان طريق الناعمة، تحرّك عناصره لفتحها بالقوة. وكان جلياً أنّ القرار واضح بمنع قطع الطريق. كذلك الأمر بالنسبة إلى طريق المدينة الرياضية التي نزل شّبان على متن دراجات نارية لقطعها بمستوعبات النفايات عند السابعة والنصف مساء، قبل أن يعمدوا إلى قطع طريقي كورنيش المزرعة وقصقص. غير أنّ قرار الجيش الحاسم حال دون استمرار قطع الطرق. وقد لاحق عناصره قاطعي الطرق إلى الشوارع الداخلية لبلدة الناعمة حيث تخلل ذلك إطلاق أعيرة نارية في الهواء. وعلّق مصدر عسكري أنّ تطبيق إجراءات الجيش مرتبط بقرار قائد الجيش العماد جوزف عون بمنع قطع أي طريق.

وإضافة إلى ما تقدّم، ثمة تحذيرات أمنية جدية من ارتفاع حدة الاحتجاج «المستقبليّ» في الشمال، في ظل نشاط لافت للأجهزة الامنية الرسمية على خلفية توسع «سوق السلاح» في بعض المناطق الشمالية. وإضافة إلى ذلك، يزداد منسوب الاحتجاج الاهلي في مناطق نفوذ تيار المستقبل، وخاصة في عرسال والبقاع الاوسط وعكار وطرابلس ومحيطها وإقليم الخروب والطريق الجديدة، على خلفية الأزمة الاقتصادية التي تظهر بشكل أكثر حدّة من باقي المناطق. ويريد تيار المستقبل الاستثمار في الفقر في هذه المناطق لتسويق مرشحين من أصحاب الثروات الطائلة، من الحريري نفسه إلى الرئيس نجيب ميقاتي والنائب السابق محمد الصفدي، وصولاً إلى المرشح الحالي سمير الخطيب، ثم الاستثمار في تحركات الفقراء أنفسهم لإحراق من يريد الحريري إحراقه.

تراجع منسوب التفاؤل بقرب تكليف الخطيب ترؤس الحكومة

وفي إطار «الإحراق»، تراجع امس منسوب التفاؤل، حتى عند اكثر المتفائلين سابقاً، بقرب تكليف الخطيب ترؤس الحكومة. تراجع التفاؤل سبق لجوء «المستقبل» إلى قطع الطرقات. فهؤلاء باتوا متوجسين من مماطلة الحريري، ومن الشروط التي يحمّلها للخطيب، ولو بلهجة إيجابية توحي بأنه لا يزال متمسكاً بمرشحه». ومن المتوقع ان يعلن التيار الوطني الحر موقفاً اليوم بعد اجتماع تكتل «لبنان القوي». وقالت مصادر التكتل إنه سيتضمّن «توضيح الموقف عن كل الفترة السابقة، بعد استقالة الحكومة، لعدم جواز السكوت بعد التعدي المتمادي على موقف التيار وتشويهه عن حقيقته، وتحديد موقف نوعيّ جديد».

من جهة أخرى، اعلن في واشنطن عن فك الحظر عن تسليم الجيش اللبناني مساعدات أميركية بقيمة تفوق 100 مليون دولار، سبق ان جمّدها الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب قبل أسابيع. في الوقت عينه، كان وزير الخارجية الاميركي مايك بومبيو يعلن موقفاً لافتاً من التحركات الاجتجاجية في لبنان، واضعاً لها عنوان «المطالبة بإخراج حزب الله من لبنان ومن السلطة»!

فديوات ذات صلة

مقالات ذات صلة

%d bloggers like this: