Lebanon’s Anti-Graft Drive Is Entirely Fake as Political Groups Fight Hezbollah over the Scraps

Lebanon’s Anti-Graft Drive Is Entirely Fake as Political Groups Fight Hezbollah over the Scraps

MARTIN JAY | 30.03.2019 | WORLD / MIDDLE EAST

Lebanon’s Anti-Graft Drive Is Entirely Fake as Political Groups Fight Hezbollah over the Scraps

There’s a great deal of fake goods in Lebanon’s malls leaving many preferring to buy their designer label clothes when they travel overseas. But fake Lebanon goes beyond Levi jeans or Gucci handbags. In this tiny country ‘fake’ is often services, entire companies and even doctors, care workers, economists. Then there is the fake economy run by a network of companies willing and ready to support a market exploited by the corrupt elite anxious to get their hands on international development cash.

And when you’ve got your head around this fake world, then there is the biggest drain on Lebanon: fake governance.

Fake governance is politicians and MPs pretending to do their jobs when in reality all they are doing is using their position to divert cash into their own overseas bank accounts via a system which has simply got out of hand. Corruption is a hungry pike which has swallowed up a pond full of small fry players who play by the rules. It’s just too late now to hope for a miracle.

And this, in case you were wondering, is what is happening now in Lebanon when we read articles about a new anti-corruption drive brought about by an imploding economy. In January, the national debt reached $85.32 billion — nearly 150% of the gross domestic product — an increase of $4.93 billion compared to January 2018. This debt forced an international conference in Paris called ‘the CEDRE conference’ which in April 2018, international donors committed $11.8 billion to revitalize the economy, while the Lebanese government pledged in return to combat corruption and reform the public sector.

Or at least that’s what written on the side of the tin.

True, the Paris conference has driven a momentum in Lebanon to tackle corruption, but it’s largely for all the wrong reasons and, mostly, entirely fake.

But who to target in such a campaign, in a country which has a built in protection against those carrying out the industrial scale graft?

Public employees are the only viable group as Parliamentarians have a de facto immunity under Lebanese law, while nailing presidents, prime ministers and ministers (former or present) requires the consent of the Supreme Council for the Trial of Presidents and Ministers, which includes eight of the most senior national judges and seven deputies selected by the parliament. That’s a tad complicated given that judges are considered to be a big part of the problem.

Or at least that’s what Hezbollah believes, hence its own farcical war cry against this group – former leaders and judges – to counter the other groups’ own farcical campaigns against public servants.

Yet neither is expected to really do anything. The non-Hezbollah camp, led my Saad Hariri who can hardly be called candida when it comes to feeding from the trough wants to create a pantomime for international donors so that they can get their hands on a big part of the 11bn dollars pledged (90% of which is in loans) , with rumours in Beirut about the environment ministry embezzling a couple of billion dollars abound. Of course, these sort of rumours barely stir the Lebanese who resort to humour to face the reality that faces them, like parodying the new minister in the same ministry who is a real estate tycoon who can’t even keep the plant in his office alive; this is in a country, after all, where each government minister has his own business empire – even the former anti-corruption minister who made his pile in tyres and who’s entire office amounts of three staff and a fax machine – and which has a tourism minister who is so stupid, that he is actually driving droves of tourists away with his one man campaign of idiocy. Add to that a central bank governor who, wait for it, actually knows a thing or two about banking but is not even exempt from rumours of plundering billions. And let’s not even get on the news this week that the central bank in Beirut lost 20bn dollars, which is probably fake news. Apparently.

The real corruption is not with public servants in Lebanon but with the Key Stone Cops who get the jobs of government ministerial posts, for really only one purpose which is to embezzle funds assiduously as possible for their own warlords who installed them there for that express purpose.

The system is corrupt and until there is a momentum of debate in Lebanon about how to wipe the slate clean and go for a new system entirely – probably one which does away with the confessional one – corruption will always run and control every single dime which is in circulation. It’s not only that an economy is held back from developing – as it frightens away foreign investors who would truly love to tap into the high level of education and location –  but even security, law and order, the environment and public health are horrendously compromised as a result. The elite are fervently committed to allowing the ‘wasta’ (corruption by kinship) system prevail and law and order remain as a fanciful notion most Lebanese watch on American TV as it is a tacit deal between them and the masses which support them. Deeply unpopular moves, like, say installing law and order on the roads to curtain the daily carnage, would be deeply unpopular and be seen as a drain on people’s strained purses. Corruption works both ways.

Hezbollah’s anti-corruption drum beat though is driven by US sanctions against Iran, forcing the Lebanese Shiite group to be more creative in how it extracts valuable dollars from the system. They will either get the scalps they crave, or cash as a good substitute. All we are seeing with these anti-corruption drives is groups scrapping over bones, like stray dogs on a rubbish dump of what many might call a smouldering failed state. But fake Lebanon is producing the fake news, by the fake politicians who are faking their anti-graft drive. If most Lebanese taxi drivers know this, why is international media giving it such credibility? Is international media also fake?

Photo: Flickr

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The Enemy Threatening from behind the Wall for 20 Days… Remains behind It!

 

Ali Shoeib

On the morning of December 4, people woke up to news reports about the implementation of new measures by the Zionist enemy along the Lebanese border.

These measures were labeled using different descriptions and accompanied with the word “operation”- in the hope that they would have a greater impact on the readers and viewers.

In addition, a broad objective was announced, which included the exposure of “tunnels” that the “Israelis” claimed Hezbollah had dug into the occupied territories.

What was the scene at the border that morning?

At first glance, many believed that the enemy would escalate the situation as the noise from behind the wall of four “Israeli” diggers got louder. The excavators were positioned between two points: the first near Fatima Gate and the second near the water line on the Kafr Kila-Odaise road.

The entire Hebrew-language media, western outlets as well as the “Israeli” army’s Arabic and Hebrew speaking spokespersons positioned themselves at a point overlooking the excavations. The airwaves were opened for most channels to broadcast the event. Leading the “Israeli” army’s charge were soldiers carrying either handheld or cameras mounted on their heads. Two soldiers belonging to the war media department were deployed at each of the two points.

It only took the “Israeli” army two hours to announce that it discovered a tunnel and broadcast a photo. “Israeli” media reports were peppered with plenty of exaggerations and highlights of the supposed achievements.

An hour after the enemy broadcast a simulated image of the tunnel on Lebanese territory followed by a video, it was clear that “Israel” had prepared in advance because it was impossible to photograph so deep underground with such speed using a small camera.

Here lies a paradox. While it was able to achieve such rapid and gradual progress – media wise – with respect to the tunnels in Kafr Kila, it failed to do so in Ramyeh. The “Israelis” had dug 36 wells opposite to the village of Ramyeh. 18 days later, the enemy announced it blew up a tunnel. It, however, failed to present proof of its existence. There was also no media coverage. Similarly, “Israel” has been digging in the areas opposite to Aita al-Shaab and Blida. The work is still ongoing, but with no apparent results.

This raises a question. Is this not the same army that discovered a tunnel within two hours? How come it is unable to back its other alleged discoveries with evidence?

The enemy’s new measures have been accompanied by a campaign of intimidation against Hezbollah, the Lebanese state and civilians through the hacking of local communication networks and the sending of threats through voice messages.

How did the Lebanese face this challenge? The Lebanese media’s role should be commended in sending a counter message to the “Israelis”.  

The Lebanese state dealt calmly and wisely with this issue and rejected the dictates of the enemy. The Lebanese army, which was in contact with the “Israeli” soldiers, proved its ability to take the initiative and not to give up a single inch of land based on the trilateral equation. This was evident in the events that unfolded in Mays al-Jabal. The enemy was forced to move back its barbed wire along five points. At the last point the barbed wire was moved back by about five centimeters. The Lebanese army emerged victorious in the war of wills.

As far as the masses were concerned, there was an increase in the number of Lebanese cars driving along the border just a few meters from the “Israeli” diggers. The enemy threatened the Lebanese people and warned them to stay away from the vicinity of the excavation areas, but they did not seem to care what was happening behind the wall.

Elsewhere in Kroum al-Sharaqi, “Israeli” soldiers became the subject of jokes thanks to the media’s psychological warfare policy. Pictures and activities mocked “Israeli” soldiers. They exposed the weakness of the heavily armed “Israeli” troops. In one picture, a soldier is seen dozing off while on guard duty. In another, the soldier breaks the service rules by showing his face and smoking a cigarette in secret behind a rock. Another soldier is shown brandishing a rifle at a child carrying a toy bulldozer.

All of the above forced “Israeli” media to keep up with events at Mays al-Jabal at the expense of covering the news about the actual tunnels. Zionist analysts wondered: “how is it possible that the commando forces deployed along the border became the subject of ridicule and mockery!”

For its part, Hezbollah remained silent on the grounds that everything taking place across the border does not require any comment.

On the other hand, the “Israeli” operation cast a shadow of anxiety and tension over Zionist settlers who feared a response. This prompted “Israeli” Premiere Benjamin Netanyahu to visit the Misgav Am settlement, opposite to the border village of Odeise, and meet with the heads of the so-called local councils in Kiryat Shmona to calm them down. So did the chief of staff and some of the other top leaders.

The “Israeli” media’s task was redirected from broadcasting news about the tunnels to ensuring a state of calm among the settlers.

In addition, the enemy transformed the Metula hole into a ‘monument’ and invited all foreign diplomatic missions there. The objective here is to pressure Lebanon in international forums.

It is worth mentioning that all the incidents along the border involved the occupation forces and the Lebanese army, especially in Mays al-Jabal. However, the enemy’s media distorted the truth and included Hezbollah in every incident.

As the objectives of the “Israeli” project – which were based on intimidation and threats – fail, it is clear that the media’s efforts in this affair remained confined behind the wall. And the settlers alone hear them amid the silence of the “Israeli” bulldozers along the border.

Today, the “Israelis” are back to the same old “wall” symphony. The enemy resumed work on installing an iron fence after briefly halting construction to focus on the excavations earlier this month.

In the end, the enemy did not record any military, media or psychological achievements from its measures. On the contrary, it lost more of its people’s trust. It did not impose any new equation on the opposing side.

The developments exposed that “Israel’s” actions were fuelled by their Lebanese obsession, which is ever-present. This calls for more self-confinement by completing the construction of the wall at new points. This is what the commander of the “Israeli” army’s Galilee Division, Rafi Milo, recently promised during his meeting with the settlers along the Lebanese border.

Source: Al-Ahed News, South Lebanon

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The US Is Linking Hezbollah With The Cartels To Advance The Anti-Iranian Info-war

By Andrew Korybko
Source

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions created an elite task force for specifically investigating Mexican drug cartel and Hezbollah activity in America.

His move comes just weeks before the upcoming midterms in early November and represents Trump following through on his campaign promise to investigate these groups, with the differentiating factor being that the US also regards Hezbollah as a “terrorist organization” despite Russia and many other countries not sharing this position. Another point is that the current administration is basically equating this Mideast-based socio-political movement with MS-13 and other infamous drug trafficking gangs, which could hint at its intentions in laying the basis for the forthcoming infowar narrative that it might supposedly represent an Iranian-backed “Hybrid War threat” to the American Heartland. The buildup to this state-backed storyline perfectly coincides with the impending reimposition of US sanctions against Iran, too.

Furthermore, it was revealed late last year that the Obama Administration suppressed what has been referred to as “Operation Cassandra”, which was allegedly a wide-ranging investigation into Hezbollah’s activities across the entire Western Hemisphere and specifically inside the US itself. Whether the accusations from that time about the group’s involvement in organized crime are true or not, the important point is that the Trump Administration appears to believe them or at the very least wants to procure more public evidence – whether real or fabricated – of this. Successfully doing so could enable the President to “defend” his destabilizing actions against Iran with the specious excuse that Iran is also “meddling” in American affairs too and has supposedly been since even before his inauguration.

Moving beyond the rhetoric and into the realm of practical policy application, Sessions’ crusade against the cartels and Hezbollah is designed to advance the administration’s law-and-order agenda, which would be a great thing for average Americans if it does indeed end up putting dangerous criminals behind bars regardless of whoever they might be. That’s not to say that Hezbollah in and of itself should objectively be considered a criminal entity, nor that there aren’t powerful arguments in favor of its existence and the causes that it supports, but just that its members need to obey the same laws that everyone else has to follow and shouldn’t harm innocent Americans through the financial, drug, violent, and other crimes that they might be engaged in to fund their organization.

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Having said that, Sessions clearly has political motives for singling out Hezbollah from the US’ many other and much more influential suspected criminal organizations and lumping it together with well-known and infamous ones such as MS-13 in the context of his newly created taskforce. One of the main reasons for doing this appears to be the government’s plan to popularize the notion that Hezbollah is equivalent to the cartels prior to using this narrative as joint “justification” for more openly meddling in Iran’s domestic affairs and taking an even stricter approach towards the group’s activities in the Mideast. These probable forthcoming policy moves perfectly align with the interests of Israel, which believes that it’s existentially threatened by both Iran and its Hezbollah partners.

This means that Sessions’ taskforce is intended to advance Israel’s interests just as much as America’s, and it’s likely that they’ll work hand-in-hand in the course of these newly announced investigations.

The post presented is the partial transcript of the CONTEXT COUNTDOWN radio program on Sputnik News, aired on Friday Oct 19, 2018:

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