Thursday, May 08, 2008

INTERNAL CONFLICT IN LEBANON

CLASHES BETWEEN SUPPORTERS OF THE OPPOSITION
AND SUPPORTERS OF THE GOVERNMENT IN LEBANON

Source: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/

STUCK OUTSIDE OF LEBANON!

Salut à tous et toutes.
Nous sommes venus à Budapest mon mari Nicolas et moi pour participer à une conférence sur la guerre et la sécurité, j'y ai présenté une communication hier mercredi le 7 mai 2008 (ci-dessous le texte-résumé de la communication). Nous devions rentrer au Liban hier soir. Comme l'aéroport de Beyrouth fut fermé pour cause de conflit entre le gouvernement et l'opposition, nous avions dû rester à Budapest pour une journee supplémentaire. Aujourd'hui le jeudi nous allons quitter pour Prague dans la nuit. On nous dit qu'il est possible de retourner à Beyrouth via cette ville, ou alors à Damas. Le problème est que l'aéroport de Beyrouth est encore fermé. Et les routes menant de Damas a Beyrouth sont egalement fermées. Il va falloir voir si nous pouvons franchir la frontière au nord du Liban. Bref, la situation locale est chaotique. Notre fille Jana est avec mes parents à Beyrouth et nous tenons absolument à y retourner. Cette situation me rappelle la période des combats de l'été 2006 avec Israël lorsque ma soeur Michèle a dû prendre un énorme risque en franchissant la frontière syro-libanaise pour pouvoir rentrer au bercail, alors que l'aviation israélienne bombardait les routes. Cette fois, ce sont les émeutes, les agressions armees, les barricades... J'avais d'ailleurs le pressentiment qu'il allait se passer quelque chose, soit au niveau interne, soit une nouvelle invasion israélienne. J'en avais parlé lors de la conférence de Budapest. Quelques heures plus tard, Nicolas m'annonçait la fâcheuse nouvelle.
Je vous laisse pour le moment. Nous devons nous apprêter pour débuter notre périple.
A suivre...
Et bon courage aux compatriotes qui tentent et tenteront également l'aventure de la rentrée coûte que coûte.


Pamela Chrabieh Badine
Budapest

---------------------------------------

Voices – Paths of Peace in Lebanon: Contributions of the 25-40 Age Group

in the 'War, Virtual War and Human Security' Colloquium, Budapest

By Pamela Chrabieh Badine, 07-05-2008 (a day before the beginning of the conflict between the government and the opposition in Lebanon):

For the last decades, Lebanon has witnessed several combats and periods of status quos. The majority of researches and analyses explains this reality as the product of interreligious or sectarian conflicts, or the product of foreign invasions and interferences in local affairs. In both cases, the focus is on issues of violence. Discourses and spaces of peace are diregarded. This vision conceals the complex reality of the Lebanese history and society. Despite the multilayered social and political crises and the conflictual identities, we notice, since the nineties, but even before, the emergence of discourses and practices within the civil society and the diaspora that reveals the existence of new political forces (alternative forces to the traditional ones) and an enriching diversity in the production of knowledge concerning war and peace issues - a diversity that is not confined to religious and political leaders and elites.

Having conducted field researches to study these forces and this diversity in the last decade, I discovered that young Lebanese aged between 25 and 40 years old constitute the largest and most effective age group engaged on an individual or a collective level in rethinking these issues, after surviving the 1975-1990 period as children and-or teenagers, so after witnessing a period of bloody civil combats and foreign invasions.

(...)

A first result was the discovery of an alternative vision-interpretation of the war in Lebanon. Usual visions, whether in the academic or the popular and media fields, identify the war (referring to the 1975-1990 period) as a civil war (an islamic-christian war) or a war of the others on the Lebanese soil or a war for the others. These visions talk about a 'post-war' period since the nineties. So the summer 2006 combats with Israel were called 'new war'. 90% of my interviewees identified the war as continuous and plural. In other terms, the war in Lebanon has no precise beginning, no ending until now and has multiple forms. Also, it is a blend of an invisible war (symbolic, psychological, a war of visions) and its counterpart, the visible war (physical, combats-negociations-treaties). Therefore, ending the war necessitates to work on all levels and to break the vicious circle of the invisible-visible. It necessitates to work on Peacekeeping and Peacemaking processes, but also on Peacebuilding processes. It is not sufficient to silence the weapons. Building local and transnational conviviality between the diverse identities is of utmost importance.

(...)

Despite all the obstacles, the peacebuilders (individuals and collectivities in Lebanon and abroad) are somehow filling a part of the gap that the government, leaders and parents could not have done so by disturbing the ambient amnesia, by fighting against the Historical Mythology and by standing against the war mentality that is fueled by the current political parties rivalries. Their undervalued initiatives act as catalysts of a new Nahda or Renaissance. Only time will tell how this Nahda will evolve.

--------------------------------------

The Demise or Rebirth of our Phoenix?

By Michele Chrabieh

Mansourieh on Saturday May 10, 2008

We have been confined in our homes for the past two days… waiting for the end of a military confrontation that has started in the streets of Beirut and degenerated to other Lebanese cities and villages…waiting for a political and peaceful solution to materialize between the opposition and loyalists to the government.

Amid the shootings and RPGs, our politicians multiply their speeches revealing as such their respective and same old pro-Iranian/Syrian and pro-American positions, and thus disregarding Lebanon’s survival as a secure, free and independent nation.

Our future in our own homeland is threatened because of the discourses and interests of our politicians and because of their barbaric adherence to militia tactics of civil disobedience. Certainly one camp, i.e. the opposition and mainly “Hezbollah” (the party of god), appears to be more barbaric than the other- at least to the international public- due to their renowned and proven military force, their non-western attire, godly beliefs and menacing speeches; while the other, i.e. “Loyalists” to the government, hides behind well ironed suits, a “victimized” attitude, and democratic speeches. Haven’t they just asked the army, who so far has reasonably taken over the streets of Beirut one after the other without incidents, to “interfere even more and do a better job”? Have they just asked the army to shoot and kill Lebanese because they have different political ideologies, beliefs and stands?

Clashes and killings continue at this very moment and we wait for a peaceful solution among all Lebanese factions hopefully without any Machiavellian foreign interference which could only do harm because their regional interests pay no heed to our LEBANON.






24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pamela, Nicolas, good luck and please be careful.

L.

Karim said...

C'est fou ce qui se passe, comme si nous avions besoin d'un nouveau conflit interne ou que nous ne pouvons pas vivre sans. Cette fois c'est politique (gouvernement et opposition) mais je crois qu'il y a du sectaire aussi, du moins entre sunnites et chiites.
Courage et Espoir

Anonymous said...

courage Pamela et Nemr, j'espere que vous arriverez sains et sauves.
Katia

Faysal said...

Extraits témoignages depuis Beyrouth publiés dans Le Monde du 9 Mai 2008 :

1. Aurelie P. : "Comme toujours au Liban, ce ne sont pas les institutions qui font ou défont la politique mais les leaders ("za'im"). Les Libanais reprennent les habitudes forgées par tant d'années non démenties de tensions : télévisions en marche continuellement, branchées sur la chaîne qui leur délivrera la vision des faits qu'ils souhaitent entendre en fonction de leurs convictions politiques : LBC et Mustaqbal pour la majorité, Manar et NBC pour l'opposition.

Le pays attend que ses "représentants" – qui ne représentent pourtant que leurs intérêts propres, au mieux ceux du village qui les a élus selon un système de représentation confessionnel ne laissant pas de place à l'expression d'une identité purement politique – décident de leur sort.

Mais alors que l'impression domine d'un peuple soumis à une forme de dictature, des décisions qui lui échappent sont prises en dehors de lui et sans son consentement, quelle part de responsabilité des Libanais ? Rejeter le blâme sur l'ennemi – extérieur ou intérieur - n'est-il pas un moyen d'ignorer ses propres contradictions et de faire l'économie toujours commode de la difficile définition d'une identité qui reste à trouver ?"

2. Samuel Bardamu : "Je vis à Beyrouth depuis le mois de septembre, j'ai donc pu observer la crise politique autour de l'élection présidentielle. J'habite dans le quartier le plus exposé entre chrétiens du 14 mars et chiites du parti Amal affilié à l'opposition "pro syrienne". Je suis ce que le fantasme occidental qualifierait "d'exposé" seulement il semblerait que le calme le plus apparent règne autour de moi. Les manifestations d'hier comme les "incidents" entre majorité et opposition sont le fait, comme souvent d une minorité active, la majorité de la population ne fait plus attention aux jeux, dangereux certes, auxquels se prête la classe politique en mal d'identité.

Il n'est pas question de nier les violences réelles qui sont à relier à une volonté politique de déstabilisation. Mon propos est seulement de relever une volonté manifeste dans les médias occidentaux de fantasmer sur la situation du Moyen-Orient. Encore hier en rencontrant les journalistes couvrant les événements, ce fantasme ressortait malgré les témoignages de la population contredisant cette construction. Les journalistes veulent depuis 3 mois une guerre civile, ce désir semble tellement fort qu'ils vont certainement arriver à leur fin."

3. Rosine Saad : "Chaque Libanais est en train de le crier fort, en vain. A 50 mètres de chez moi, la route est coupée par des murs de terre et de pneus. Ma partie de la ville, la partie chrétienne, mène une vie quasi normale, alors que dans les quartiers musulmans, un scénario de guerre civile règne dans les rues. Etre toujours prêt à une guerre, la nôtre comme celle des autres, peu importe, fait partie du fait d'être Libanais.

Ce qui tournait dans l'esprit de la population chrétienne hier, dont ma mère, c'était d'acheter du pain et des vivres pour une semaine. Une fois les placards remplis, on avait tout le temps de suivre les nouvelles en détails, simultanément, sur 2 chaînes de télévision "ennemies", et tisser et discuter ses propres théories politiques. Ce soir nous dormirons tous en méditant sur la question suivante : Qu'est-ce qui est mieux, continuer les combats ou se réveiller le lendemain et reprendre une vie normale, comme si de rien était ? Comme on le fait après chaque "incident" de ce genre."

Pamela Chrabieh Badine said...

Bonjour a tous et merci pour vos messages.
Nous sommes arrives Nicolas et moi au Liban hier vendredi dans la journee suite a un periple de budapest vers la syrie puis a la frontiere Juicy au nord de la bekaa puis a beyrouth - 48h. sans sommeil, entre les aeroports, les bus, les douanes, et evidemment l'angoisse... Finalement, on a retrouve notre fille Jana, nos parents et a famille. Et maintenant, c'est le retour au train de survie et l'espoir que le conflit actuel ne tarde pas a s'achever. Plus il tardera, plus il sera difficile de le stopper. Nous avons besoin de dialogue, de reconciliation et de convivialite a tous les niveaux. Je ne vais pas arreter de me le repeter et le repeter aux autres et d'essayer avec le peu de moyens dont je dispose de le pratiquer quotidiennement.
Merci encore et bon courage pour la suite.

Zeina said...

Dimanche 11 mai 2008, le matin. Le calme semble être revenu à Beyrouth. Je ne crois pas que ce soit le cas au nord, à Tripoli, mais on espère que la situation s'améliore.

Anonymous said...

C'est inadmissible comment les nouvelles sont colportées. Par exemple, en lisant un article dans www.lemonde.fr (proche-orient)sur la situation au Liban, il y est dit ce qui suit: "A Beyrouth, deux personnes ont cependant été tuées et 20 blessées par des hommes qui ont tiré sur une foule participant aux funérailles d'un civil sunnite tué vendredi". En fait, une seule personne a tiré sur la foule; il s'agit d'un jeune mécanicien chiite vivant dans un quartier sunnite et qui fut à maintes reprises battu par une bande de voyous et son magazin de voitures brûlé. Celui-ci a vu la même bande et a cru qu'elle allait s'attaquer à lui. Bref, ce pauvre type a perdu la tête et a tiré sur la foule. Comme quoi la guerre est engendrée par des fous et en engendre encore plus. Mais de là à en faire une nouvelle complètement différente, voilà de quoi alimenter la propagande, la haine, et de quoi ajouter de l'huile au feu du conflit entre partisans pro-gouvernement et pro-opposition. Et les exemples ne manquent pas...
G.

Pamela Chrabieh Badine said...

Bonjour à tous et toutes.
Il est vrai que le cessez-le-feu fut annoncé et appliqué dans la plupart des régions qui étaient embrasées au Liban, mais il n'y a pas eu d'entente entre le gouvernement et l'opposition. L'opposition poursuit la désobéissance civile et le gouvernement se campe sur ses positions. C'est l'impasse...
Entretemps, nous téléphonons à nos amis et nos proches pour demander de leurs nouvelles et nous nous déplaçons uniquement pour les urgences. Ma soeur Michèle travaille quand même à la banque au centre-ville de Beyrouth. L'université Saint-Joseph a ouvert ses portes mais le personnel et les étudiants se sont abstenus de s'y rendre en grande majorité.
L'aéroport est encore fermé, ainsi que les principales routes liant la Syrie au Liban - à part celle du nord de la Bekaa.
A suivre...

Anonymous said...

A great thought in this chaotic situation:

“I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for one self, one’s own family or one’s nation, but for the benefit of all humankind. Universal responsibility is the key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace.” – Dalai Lama

De la part de Abda S. (Canada) said...

Salam
Vous pouvez écouter de sebastien Boussois interrogé par Joane Arcond à travers ce lien:
http://www.radio-canada.ca/actualite/v2/dimanchemag/#

COMMENT ISRAËL
EXPULSA LES PALESTINIENS


Date de parution : 22/11/07
ISBN : 978-2-7082-3966-1

Auteur : Dominique Vidal

Co-auteur(s) : Préface
d’Yehouda Lancry,
ancien ambassadeur
d’Israël en France
et aux Nations Unies.

Nombre de pages : 256

Prix : 21 €

Historien et journaliste au "Monde diplomatique", Dominique Vidal est l'auteur de nombreux ouvrages sur l'histoire du Proche-Orient, notamment "Le Péché originel d'Israël", dont le présent volume constitue une édition actualisée et augmentée.

Journaliste, Sébastien Boussois est titulaire d’une thèse sur l’influence des « nouveaux historiens », et auteur de "Israël confronté à son passé", à paraître fin 2007 aux Éditions L’Harmattan.

Achetez ce livre
sur Amazon.fr

Il y a vingt ans, en 1987, paraissait "La Naissance du problème des réfugiés palestiniens", le premier livre de ce qu'on allait bientôt appeler la « nouvelle histoire » israélienne. Son auteur, Benny Morris, mais aussi Ilan Pappé, Avi Shlaïm, Tom Segev et d'autres ont, en quelques années, réécrit les conditions dans lesquelles l'État d'Israël a vu le jour, battant en brèche les mythes et les tabous chers à leurs prédécesseurs. Il est désormais impossible de nier la réalité de l’expulsion de quelque 800 000 Palestiniens dans les mois qui précèdent et suivent la création de l’État juif en mai 1948.

Que nous apprennent les travaux de ces chercheurs sur des événements fondateurs du conflit israélopalestinien ? Quels débats ont-ils suscités parmi leurs pairs ? Quelle influence ont-ils exercée sur une société israélienne confrontée, entre deux Intifadas, aux accords de paix d’Oslo ? Autant de questions auxquelles répond ce livre de synthèse.

En portant à la connaissance d’un grand public les apports d’ouvrages dont la plupart n'ont pas été traduits en français, ce livre – complété par une enquête originale sur les polémiques actuelles autour de la « nouvelle histoire » en Israël – révèle l’importance du passé pour la résolution, au présent, d’un conflit vieux de soixante ans.

Rania said...

Selon les seigneurs de la guerre au Liban, nous nous dirigeons vers une guerre civile et les conflits des derniers jours n'en étaient que le préambule. Ça promet...

S. (from Beirut) said...

I do not recommend you the usual printed press in Lebanon e.g. L'Orient-le-Jour, An-Nahar, and others... Biased. Ony the government point of view. I am not with the opposition, but i do not like the propaganda and misleading 'truths' about the situation in Lebanon.
It is better to focus on building peace and on a revolution in order to change the existing political leadership.
I think that many Lebanese are fed up with the warlords. Decades of war are enough.
We want peace!!

S. (from Beirut)

Nahwa al-Muwatiniya said...

‘We believe democracy begins with inclusive, educated, and engaged individual behavior which, when nurtured and multiplied, will lead to the improvement of civil society and the betterment of our national, regional, and global future.’

Fellow citizens,

Nahwa al-Muwatiniya was created in 2005 during a time of growing instability because individuals believed that it’s only through the hands and voice of citizens that true change can take place. We must persevere in our efforts to make change and reject our feelings of surrender and defeat. Today, we are facing even greater troubles than we saw in 2005, and therefore we must be even more engaged to ensure that our message of hope and empowerment reaches all citizens.

Starting today Nahwa al-Muwatiniya has officially opened and will remain open as usual. Our motivation is still high and we are determined to persevere with our mission, activities, and values of democracy, peace, participation, and citizenship.
Today we are asking that citizens join us in our message and stay dedicated to the betterment of Lebanon. As citizens we urge you not to give up on yourself and your country. Do not lose faith and hope in your capabilities and aspirations.
We welcome all to visit our office and either join us in our activities or develop your own projects to create positive change in the country.
With continuing hope and determination,
Na-am Team

Nahwa al-Muwatiniya’s Social Contract

improve governance through institutional, not individual, channels
respect and strengthen citizens' rights
reject discrimination in all its forms
engage in self-criticism and individual accountability, taking
responsibility for one's actions
promote partnerships and participation
shun individualism and indifference
seek creativity and innovation
reject surrender and defeat
value diversity and channel its inherent constructive aspects towards development
persevere in the path of change

Nahwa al-Muwatiniya

+961 1354466

+961 3 562 478

www.na-am.org

Pamela Chrabieh Badine said...

Voilà une initiative à saluer et à encourager de la part de Nahwa al-Muwatiniya!
Ne pas perdre l'espoir et le courage, ne pas se croiser les bras, et oeuvrer pour la convivialité. Je croise tous les jours des Libanais qui veulent quitter le pays. S'il ne restera que les faiseurs de guerre, il n'y aura plus de pays.

Khalass said...

Help demand civil, peaceful solutions out of the deadlock.
Together we can make a difference!

Enough! Crisis
Enough! Provocation
Enough! Deadlock

Khalass! Together for Lebanon

Lebanon faces grave danger resulting from a political crisis that has paralyzed state institutions, and has this past week erupted into violence on our streets.

We will not sit back and watch in silence!

The Lebanese Physically Handicapped Union (LPHU) has gathered citizens from all walks of life along the airport road citizens to demand that politicians leaving for Doha not come back until they have reached binding, civil solutions that resolve the current crisis and reactivate state institutions.

Join us now on the airport road to demand your right as a citizen to enjoy peace and security. We believe that the greatness of this country is built on its diversity, freedom, creativity, interdependence, and citizenship. Let us all work together TODAY to save it.



Show your support for dialogue and civil peace by signing the Khalass petition at www.khalass.net



Khalass! Together for Lebanon is an independent non-partisan campaign led by Lebanese civil society in all its components – syndicates, associations, non-governmental organizations, private sector, academics, students, celebrities, and individuals. For more information, visit www.khalass.net or call 70-177070.

Tadamon!Montreal said...

* Lebanon: Reporter reflections from Beirut.Interview with Raed Rafei a Lebanese reporter with the LA Times. Broadcasts from Beirut IIIhttp://tadamon.resist.ca/index.php/post/1425 Broadcasts from Beirut: A Tadamon! interview project aiming to highlight progressive voices from the ground in Lebanon on the ongoing conflict, voices independent from major political parties. On Wednesday, May 14th, Lebanon's government moved to reverse key decisions taken last week aimed at Hezbollah, including a decision to dismantle Hezbollah.s independent telephone communications system and a controversial move to replace a head security personal at Beirut's international airport with sympathies towards the Lebanese opposition. Today's government decision to reverse these decisions was announced minutes prior to this interview, creating a backdrop soundtrack of celebratory gunfire from opposition supporters in Beirut. Arab media outlets have played a central role on the ground in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East in shaping popular opinions on the ongoing conflict. This interview also focuses on the recent Hezbollah orchestrated shut-down of Future T.V. a television network owned by Saad Hariri, the son of Lebanon.s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, infamous in Lebanon for a strongly pro-government stance. Also this interview outlines the reflections of a Lebanese journalist working in the context of the current conflict in Lebanon. Raed Rafei: Can you hear that, the gunfire? Lebanon's government has just decided to revoke their two recent decisions concerning Hezbollah, the first regarding the telephone network and the second, their decision to replace the security head at Beirut's international airport. Hope that the gunfire outside is only opposition supporters celebrating the government decision tonight, not anything more! Stefan Christoff: Alright, to start can you describe the current situation in Beirut and the importance of the recent decisions taken by the government of Fouad Sinora concerning Hezbollah. Raed Rafei: Well what has happened recently in Beirut was a realization of what many Lebanese have been fearing for the past year, which is not a civil-war but the beginning of serious civil strife in the country. Death tolls from the recent fighting aren't clear until now, however in the past days many people have been killed in fighting, Sunni, Shi'ite, Druze. A situation that is very, very disturbing for the Lebanese as it brings us back to the very dark days in the Lebanese civil-war. Now things in Beirut are much more calm, as we wait on for political solution, however it's still very, very tense. Now regarding the two government decisions, now the government trying to minimize the importance of these two decisions. First they were saying that Hezbollah is building a parallel phone network in Lebanon, that this phone network and that it isn't only serving the Lebanese resistance but is being used for other purposes, expanding rapidly beyond control. Lebanon's government decided that this phone network must be tossed. Now the second decision revolves around the security for Beirut's airport, which the government claims is being monitored by Hezbollah. Lebanon's government wanted to change the security head at the airport, a person was basically following directions from Hezbollah. Hezbollah viewed these decisions as a violation of an agreement within the government to not touch the resistance in Lebanon, without a collective national dialog. Stefan Christoff: As we speak gunfire is going off, so can you talk about what.s happening now outside your home in West Beirut? Raed Rafei: Well this is a little disturbing, the gunfire, as it sounds similar to the firefights last week in Beirut. Fighting was very tense at times in West Beirut late last week. Now that the government has decided to reserve it's two decisions aimed at Hezbollah, immediately celebratory gunfire is being fired throughout West Beirut. Now the opposition is declaring victory on the Lebanese T.V. networks. Stefan Christoff: Today officials from the Arab League convened in Beirut, can you talk about this meeting? Raed Rafei: In general people in Lebanon don't have a very positive image of the Arab League, as they have been trying unsuccessfully to mediate the situation in Lebanon for months and months. However it's certainly positive that the government has decided to reverse their two decisions. Clearly brokering meaningful negotiations in Lebanon today is very, very difficult, as it's not clear on which points the two opposing sides will agree to discuss or negotiate on. Hezbollah wants to only discuss potentialities for a future government and Lebanon's electoral laws. Pro-government forces, currently in power, want to discuss the internal security for the country, meaning Hezbollah's weapons. Now the question remains if these two political sides will at least find a common ground for negotiations in Lebanon. Stefan Christoff: Can you talk about the current situation in Lebanon and it.s ties to the war between Israel and Lebanon in 2006? Raed Rafei: During Israel's attack on Lebanon in 2006, the vast majority in Lebanon rallied behind Hezbollah, as the country was being attacked by an outside force that was destroying the country. Since this war tensions between the pro-government forces and the Hezbollah-backed opposition have been growing. Today we are living through a direct consequence of the 2006 war, as this war made it clear, despite the national unity against Israel at the time, that there are two different directions that the main national political forces are pulling Lebanon toward. Hezbollah is at one side, the pro-government forces are one the totally opposite side. So reconciling these differences is extremely difficult. Stefan Christoff: From a journalistic perspective can you describe the key differences between pro-government forces and the opposition, also the way that these differences impact people's daily lives in Lebanon. Raed Rafei: Prior to the Rafik Hariri's assassination in 2005, Hezbollah wasn't really a major element within Lebanon's political process. After the assassination it became clear that Hezbollah's role in Lebanon, their ideology as a resisting force to Israel was in danger. Since this time all Hezbollah.s internal moves in Lebanon have been to attempt to increase their power and influence within the governmental decision making process. Hezbollah is basically saying that Lebanon's must not become a U.S. friendly country, a country that backs pro-Israel policies in the Middle East, that Lebanon must resist U.S. imperialism in the Middle East. Also Hezbollah works to defend their allies in the region, Syria and Iran, which are coming under attack for taking anti-U.S. and anti-Israel positions within the Middle East. On the other side the Lebanese government is claiming that Hezbollah no longer has a role in Lebanon, as most Lebanese territory is no longer occupied by Israel. Only Shabba Farms, a small part of Lebanon, is still occupied, which Lebanon can liberate through diplomatic means. Also the government is claiming that Hezbollah is trying to implement an Iranian or Syrian vision for Lebanon's future. Even going so far to claim that Iran is developing a base on the Mediterranean through Hezbollah. This vision is tied to the pro-government forces labeling recent events in Lebanon as an Iranian coup. Stefan Christoff: Now concerning your reporting on the current situation in Lebanon. You wrote a post on the LA Times website called, Lebanon: A hellish experience for journalists, in which you detailed the attack on Future T.V. in Lebanon this past week, could you detail this incident? Raed Rafei: It's important to outline this event carefully. Hezbollah didn.t firebomb or launch a military attack on Future T.V., basically Hezbollah carried out a calculated action against Future T.V. Hezbollah entered the new studios for Future T.V., cutting all the equipment cables, effectively stopping the station from broadcasting. Confusion surrounds this event because Future movement has different offices and media outlets. One Future T.V. studio that is no longer being used was burned by a pro-Hezbollah party, supporters of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, fulfilling a longstanding vendetta between this party and Future T.V. It's important to talk about this incident clearly. However the fact that a media outlet in Lebanon was forcefully shut-down by the opposition, is certainly revolting. This event is one small part within a larger war between the Hezbollah backed opposition and the western-backed government. This war also operates through propaganda, as both sides heavily use media as a tool. Hezbollah hasn't until now attempted to justify or explain in a major way their move to shut-down Future T.V. In their calculations surrounding this event, they most likely thought that despite the denunciations they would receive, it would be much less costly to have a pro-government propaganda machine operating during the conflict last week. In Hezbollah's thinking, this incident was calculated, in that it shut-down a T.V. station propelling sectarian thinking between Sunni and Shi'ite communities at this critical time. Stefan Christoff: Can you talk about Future T.V., the critiques towards this particular station and more generally the role that news media plays in the conflict in Lebanon today? Raed Rafei: Basically all T.V. networks in Lebanon are an extension of the political parties or forces that own them. Independent stations operating in the country are a minority, in the 1990's there was an active effort to tie media outlets to the major political forces in the country. Most media outlets are mouthpieces for major political parties in Lebanon. Certainly there shouldn.t be any attempt to undermine freedom of expression for the media in Lebanon, however there needs to be an independent monitoring force in Lebanon to halt the media's role in spreading rumors and false messages at sensitive times such as now. Sadly all major media outlets in Lebanon are strongly influenced by major political parties in the country, they play the game. Clearly there is a problem with the messages that Future T.V. broadcasts, however this problem should be dealt with in another way, in a time of peace. Stefan Christoff: Now concerning your experiences in Beirut these last week. Can you describe what people have been saying to you as a journalists this past week. Now we are hearing consistent gunfire as we speak, so can you describe your experiences on the streets in Beirut this past week? Raed Rafei: I live in West Beirut and people are so tired from the events this past week. Most people at this stage are tired and simply want an end to the crisis, they are willing to accept almost any political solution that brings down the violence experienced within the past week. Now the problem is that in areas such as Tripoli, which is predominantly Sunni, people are extremely angry about what happened in Beirut. A growing rhetoric exists in the country that defines Lebanon in sectarian terms, classifying people or areas as Sunni or Shi'ite, feelings of hatred between religious communities is growing today in Lebanon. Tripoli is an example, however there are other areas where these feelings are quickly developing in Lebanon. People are becoming more irrational in the current context. In covering recent events, people in Beirut were extremely suspicious, always asking for my papers, even after explaining that I was a journalists, people would still ask where I come from in Lebanon, my background. In covering the conflict in an area where Hezbollah is more powerful, people were generally suspicious until they feel that I support their cause. This sectarian reality is very disturbing today in Lebanon. Stefan Christoff: Let's talk more on the recent events, many people who are sympathetic to the political goals for the opposition, who are critical towards U.S. policy in the Middle East or Israel are critical towards the recent actions from Hezbollah. It could be argued that internal military action in Lebanon between the opposition and the government will never result in a compromise, that Hezbollah's actions will never win over the supporters of Future movement or Walid Jumblat to the ideas that propel the opposition. Can you offer any critiques towards recent actions by the opposition in Lebanon from sources or outlets that are generally considered sympathetic to the opposition for example Al-Akbar newspaper. Raed Rafei: Clearly Hezbollah realizes that the country is highly polarized. Hezbollah most likely didn't think that they would loose a great deal of their support base in pursuing this most recent operation, as the people opposed to Hezbollah in Lebanon would remain against them, while the very strong popular base that supports Hezbollah would continue to support the opposition. Clearly there are ethical questions surrounding Hezbollah's engagement in this internal fighting in Lebanon. As Hezbollah has repeatedly stated that they would never turn their weapons to the inside. As Hezbollah has attempted to maintain an almost holy image in Lebanon for years now. Last week after Hassan Nasrallah gave a press conference in which he was questioned on the possibility for Hezbollah to use weapons inside Lebanon, a justification was made by Nasrallah that the recent events were a utilization of Hezbollah's weapons to defend their weaponry, which isn.t a convincing argument to many in Lebanon. Now this debate on Hezbollah using their weapons inside Lebanon is a very big debate, as many are very worried. Recent events could be viewed as an effort from one political group to impose their political will on the country, simply because they are stronger militarily, in this case it's Hezbollah. Hezbollah on the other hand explains that the recent military actions were extremely limited, that it was a response to an attack from the government, that it was self-defense. Hezbollah is saying that the recent events show that the goal isn't to take over Beirut, or anywhere else in Lebanon, that they want the political process, or negotiation process to start immediately and that negotiations are the only way to find a long term solution. For this reason Hezbollah quickly handed over areas overtaken in Beirut to the Lebanese Army. Stefan Christoff: Finally can you talk about your work as a journalist working in Lebanon? You wrote that it's exhausting reporting on this internal conflict, much more exhausting than reporting on the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon. Can you talk about your work as a journalist in Lebanon within the context of the current conflict? Raed Rafei: Clearly it's exhausting, because as a Lebanese journalist you become involved in the conflict, it consumes you. Apart from covering the conflict, also I am a citizen sitting at home, hearing all the shooting and witnessing all the terrible events. Clearly throughout the past week, I was worried about the safety of my family of all my friends, of everyone in Lebanon, while trying to report fairly on the recent events. This constant worry makes working in these conditions very difficult. * Raed Rafei is a Lebanese reporter and a blogger working for the Los Angeles Times in Beirut, you can read Raed Rafei's writing at the Los Angeles Times.

Anonymous said...

An awsome interview from Tadamon with Raed Rafei!

G.

Faysal said...

Je vous conseil vivement le blog de deux journalistes franco-libanais vivant à Beyrouth : Chroniques Beyrouthines. A mon humble avis, c'est le meilleur de tous.

http://chroniquesbeyrouthines.20minutes-blogs.fr

Pamela Chrabieh Badine said...

Merci Faysal!

Ci-dessous l'appel de Khalass:

Help demand civil, peaceful solutions out of the deadlock.
Together we can make a difference!

Enough! Crisis
Enough! Provocation
Enough! Deadlock

Khalass! Together for Lebanon

Today the leaders in Doha were in deadlock once again and nearly returned to Lebanon. This is completely unacceptable that after all we have suffered due to their irresponsibility that they would even consider returning without solutions!

We will not sit back and watch in silence!

These leaders must be reminded that we will not accept their return without solutions that will end the deadlock and ensure peace and stability for the country.

Together, with citizens from all walks of life, we will once again gather along the airport road citizens to demand that politicians in Doha do not come back until they have reached binding, civil solutions that resolve the current crisis and reactivate state institutions.

Join us on the airport road starting at 9am Tuesday (20 May) to demand your right as a citizen to enjoy peace and security.
We have had ENOUGH of crisis and provocation. It’s our turn to choose the Lebanon WE want.

Show your support for dialogue and civil peace by signing the Khalass petition at www.khalass.net

Khalass! Together for Lebanon is an independent non-partisan campaign led by Lebanese civil society in all its components – syndicates, associations, non-governmental organizations, private sector, academics, students, celebrities, and individuals. For more information, visit www.khalass.net or call 70-177070.

Rabih Ch. said...

Voilà ce que je pense sincèrement de la situation au Liban: si les leaders qui sont à Doha n'arrivent pas à s'entendre sur un minimum de points essentiels à la survie de notre nation et à la vie en dignité, liberté et justice pour un bon bout de temps, qu'ils ne retournent pas au pays. Ils ne seront pas les bienvenus. Beaucoup d'autres individus pensent aussi comme moi. Nous en avons assez des querelles. Le gâteau est assez grand pour que tous se le partagent.
Merci pour les témoignages que nous trouvons sur ce blog. Je vous suis depuis un certain temps!

Pamela Chrabieh Badine said...

Je m'excuse de ne pouvoir écrire les deux jours qui viennent. Mon cousin Ralph est décédé hier dans la nuit à l'âge de 24 ans d'un cas très rare de cancer au coeur et aux poumons (le 55e cas au monde).

Merci à tous et toutes pour vos commentaires et votre support.

Anonymous said...

Toutes nos condoléances Pamela à toi et ta famille!
Courage!
C'est injuste, malheureux... Et la justice divine dans cela? Comment l'apercevoir?

Et pour ce qui est de la situation au Liban, c'est vrai que les leaders sont arrivés à un compromis à Doha, mais ne crions pas tout de suite Hourra! Il va falloir appliquer ce compromis.
Et n'oublions jamais nos voisins ambitieux.

L.

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