Political blog posts

Hamra is back to normal except...

... for the "Hawker" private security guard staring and squinting at me while taking this picture (because I haven't shaved?) comes rushing toward me (bottom left)--tells me photos are illegal in front of the "mahal" /store (Starbucks) he is protecting.

"Do you want to call the police," I ask, calmly reminding him he is not law enforcement.

"I don't need to call the police," he replies. "I will take the law into my own hands."

8 Reasons to avoid Lebanon this summer

I’ve been following the #LiveLoveLebanon campaign lately, and I really respect the effort the people behind it are putting to let the tourism industry flourish again. But let’s be honest for a second, would you really recommend Lebanon as touristic destination to a foreign friend of yours?
I mean I know we’ve got some cool places, but the touristic experience Lebanon offers definitely doesn’t come anywhere near the ones offered by several countries around us like Turkey, Dubai, Cyprus and Jordan maybe.

The foreigner’s gift - Why Iran would gain from US military intervention in Iraq

What does one make of the apparent rapprochement between the United States and Iran over Iraq? It’s difficult to say, principally because both countries have very different agendas in the country, even if their shared aim is to contain the offensive of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

For Iran, fragmentation in Iraq is not only acceptable, but also – if controlled – desirable in helping the Islamic Republic impose its hegemony over the country. Tehran has backed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki through thick and thin, doing nothing to restrain his divisive Shiite-centric policies that have so alienated the Sunni community. It has also persuaded other Shiite leaders, most prominently Muqtada al-Sadr, to go along with Maliki, even when they had no desire to do so.

Massive excavation continues at Saifi

I was lucky enough to pass by the Saifi dig (above) today when the gate was briefly open. Notice the huge amount of blue crates above the tents in the close up shot below. These are used to store artifacts, so there must be many of them dug up at the site:

Patrick Adaimi on the rise of the phoenix

 Patrick Adaimi on flickr.comimage: Rise of the Phoenix by Patrick Adaimi on flickr.com
Patrick Adaimi paint with his pictures. Few images on Flickr but enough to catch your intention if you like photographing. Check his doors.

Robert C Ames and the death of an American view of the Middle East

Beirut, April 18, 1983. I had just stepped out of Khayyat’s bookshop on Bliss Street when a truck bomb struck the American Embassy. Though the embassy and Bliss were separated by the American University campus, I could hear glass around me breaking from the force of the explosion. For inhabitants of Beirut reared on such violence, this was no ordinary blast.

Lebanon can parry regional fragmentation

There has been much talk lately of the possibility that the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East will lead to a redrawing of the region’s borders.

While these borders have lasted for almost a century, in the last decade Sunni-Shiite antagonism has escalated, bringing into doubt the survivability of states with mixed sectarian or ethnic populations.

At the end of World War I, when the borders of the modern Middle East were drawn by the Western powers, a principle defended by the League of Nations was the protection of minority rights. Yet after World War II the situation changed. By then minority treaties had been scrapped and the victorious powers sanctioned vast population transfers in Eastern Europe.

Ancient War Manual Said to Be Secret to Jihadi Group’s Success

arabic-msAs one Iraqi city after another has fallen to the jihadi juggernaut that is ISIS (or ISIL), military and intelligence experts have been baffled by the group’s stunning victories on the battlefield. Whether humbling the US-trained Iraqi army, surviving relentless bombardment by the Syrian Air Force, or fighting toe-to-toe with Hizbullah and IRGC special forces commandos, this motley crew of unkempt radicals and rootless cosmopolitans in medieval garb is a YouTube-sharing, hashtag-tweeting, fatwa-issuing paradox.

It’s time for a coordinated response in Iraq and Syria

Much of the discussion about Iraq today has been focused on the potential terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Almost nothing, however, is being said about Syria, and how it fits into any effort to reverse ISIL’s gains.

What most governments appear consciously to be ignoring is that there is an organic link between Iraq and Syria. And that is precisely the message ISIL has sought to confirm in its claims to be erasing the borders between the two countries on the path toward a new caliphate.


If you thought Beirut was a complicated place in a complicated (made-up) country, in a chopped-up region, then wait until you travel to one of the Balkan territories where different religions, languages, tribal affiliations are stacked in territories formerly part of different age-old empires. Their entry into “modernity” is paved with tragedies: first joining the communist hemisphere, subsequently creating their own movement such as in the case of Yugoslavia, and finally ending up broken down to a myriad of countries eagerly waiting to enter the EU or NATO (which basically means the same there as the motive for joining is mostly security-related).

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Over the edge - How Sunni discontent has backfired on Iran

The gains of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in recent days have been partly made possible by the participation of discontented Iraqi Sunnis. ISIS is a vanguard, to which various Sunni-dominated groups, including onetime Baathists, have attached themselves, all fighting the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

If so, this can tell us a great deal about the pitfalls of Iran’s approach to the Arab world, particularly its seeming refusal to push for conciliation with Sunnis in Iraq or Syria.

Building towers, destroying lives

It's a good thing the woman who lives here was at work when her walls collapsed:

Her living room and bedroom are now open to the street, as you can see by the traffic below:

Happy (lawless) birthday

The Lebanese police are celebrating their 153rd anniversary. At a commemoration event, the head of the force pledged officers would continue to serve all citizens and be 'above' sectarian and political divides.

Ashraf Khunduqji on Lebanon

 Ashraf Khunduqji on flickr.comImage: Ashraf Khunduqji on flickr.com
Ashraf Khunduqji is a Jordanian with Turkish roots. Born and raised in Kuwait. live and work in Qatar as Senior Software Architect & Programmer. Click and see his beautiful images on Lebanon.

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