Whatever you say about Aoun

One thing is sure, he could be stubborn, idealistic, or different from other politicians, and so be a possible hope for Lebanon, but he still is very thirsty for power, which would make him behave in the most destructive way – as he showed he could countless times since the 80s – in terms of public interest.

Reading Joseph Samaha on Aoun’s program is quite a relief as he points out the immaturities and contradictions burried in it. The content of this program is a list of vague drastic liberalist policies that would make a Michel Chiha blush, while favoring an enlargement of the State’s size. The program also puts Lebanon on the forefront of the fight against “terrorism” which would make it come closer to Israeli policies than anything else. That’s funny.. or just scary?

Going back to the intricacies of Aoun’s mind, as would genuinely note and in the most simplistic way Nicholas Blanford:

Once one of Syria’s strongest critics and a staunch anti-corruption campaigner, Mr Aoun has struck electoral alliances with some of Lebanon’s most pro-Syrian and most corrupt politicians.

Good luck Lebanon, between a crazy megalomaniac, and a bunch of frustrated confessionalist who lack everything of a culture of public interest.
Let the division of the political pie begin accross ministries and other devices of public extraction.

Focus on Palestinians in Lebanon

So Palestinians just got the right to work in Lebanon for limited professions (excluding Medicine, Law, and Engineering).

Is there a shortage on the Lebanese market for non-skilled labor?

Syrians have been flying back like scared meticulous ants, since the Lebanese showed much respect for their fellow brethrens.
Are there any accusations on Lebanese behaving with racism? of course! Here.
Why did the Lebanese have come to this point? Well because you had Producers of Knowlege as we like to call them who have prepared the terrain. An example is this horrible article by Gary Gambill of the Middle East Forum.

Anyway back to what we were saying, it would be interesting to see what types of jobs Palestinian would get and how many Syrians are coming back (there already is a witnessed come back). What effect would this have on the Lebanese economy? I am ready to bet that Lebanese are deeply dependent of anyone worker that would be ready to do the dirty job for him.

Another thing. 2 human right groups (the organization for Palestinian human right group “Houqouq”, and the Institution for… “Shahed”), have denounced the prohibition of Lebanese authorities to let construction materials enter Palestinian camps in Tyr (Sour), according to today’s Al Safir, a Lebanese Arabic Daily.

So there you have it, politically Palestinians have still the same status: “Untouchables” who still do not know if they will be driven outside the country. But rest assured, Palestinians have the right to do the dirty job of the Lebanese.
Joseph Samaha (the only interesting journalist in Lebanon) has an interesting analysis on the issue titled: “The Lebanese have still the right to exploit Palestinian workers”.

Welcome davidovich

As you can see dear readers (whom i’m sure I can count on the fingers of my two hands..) we have a new contributor on this blog right straight from the dark side (Al Shaytan: US).
Of course i have scrutinized his lineage and it seems that he has some French, Irish, German and other European colonizer blood in his veins.
Davidovich is a shrewd observer (with no pity or remorse) of the beloved region where he spent a couple of years parading around the ladies.
We shall join forces to continue questioning what should be questioned : Why do humans behave in such a way (case study: the Middle EAst)?

Welcome davidovich also known as “Le Sheehan”.

Investment in syria from the Arab world amounts to 61,1 million dollars

According to IACG (Inter-Arab Investment Guarantee Corporation) and found at the Syria report website, investment in Syria from the Arab world amounts to 61 million dollars, while Lebanon has only invested 300000 dollars in Syria.

Even more so, since 1995, Syria has received a total of 1.602 billion dollars. In comparison, Lebanon received approximately 4.74 billion over the last ten years.
The biggest investors in Syria are Saudi Arabia (37.1 million) and the UAE (20.4 million).
Oh and another thing, Syria has invested 46 million dollars in Lebanon for the year 2004. Now what happened in 2005 is another story.

Even Jews don’t want Bolton except those that count

Check out Ori Nir’s article in the forward.
Apparently, only JINSA is supporting his appointment to the UN:

It appears that only one Jewish organization, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, has launched a public campaign calling on its supporters to push their senators to back Bolton. The Washington-based institute, known as Jinsa, is a small right-wing advocacy group that mainly functions as a Washington think-tank and has ties with influential officials in America’s national security establishment.

Well it’s small but effective, because of its ties to the “national security establishment”. Actually isn’t that scary to know that JINSA has formal ties to “America’s national security establisment”?

The Real Challenge in Lebanon

Amidst the rising fervor over recovered democratic privileges, the Lebanese do not seem to understand a couple of key political concepts:
– UN 1559
– Hezbollah’s weapons
– Aoun’s political clout and affiliations
Joseph Samaha has a good article that appeared in the friday 17 of June issue of the Safir. He basically argued that it is necessary for the Aoun Tayyar to hold a healthy dialogue with Hezbollah lest hell breaks loose.
It is important to show political maturity, in order not to let regional challenges consider Lebanon as a buffer region.

It seems that Michel Aoun is working on that in a very weird way, as he talks on tv about the fact that Hezbollah will be disarmed without any trace of diplomatic language – a quality he is not known to have.

Syria’s rechuffling of security services

Yet another showdown in Syria, that could be the effect of the latest security instability that plagued Lebanon and Syria following the assassination of Hariri:

General Fuad Nassif Kheirbek, a former chief of the military intelligence monitoring division, was chosen to head the domestic intelligence service, a Syrian official said.
He replaces moderate General Bahjat Suleiman, 57, who had been in the post for seven years – under both al-Assad and his late father Hafez al-Assad.
Al-Assad’s brother-in-law, influential General Assef Shaukat was confirmed as head of military intelligence, the official said.
Shaukat has been serving in the role in an interim capacity since 14 February, the day the former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri was killed in an attack in Beirut which many in Lebanon blame on Damascus.
In the third appointment, General Hassan Khaluf was named deputy to General Ali Mamluk, who was named head of the intelligence service on Sunday.
During the four-day meeting earlier this month, several members of the ruling Baath party’s old guard made way for figures close to the Syrian leader, and the national command was slimmed down from 21 to 14.

Israel-US weapon sale clash

Check out Caroline Glick pathetic defense of Israel’s rationale to sell arms to countries like India and Singapore (), in order to hide for the big blunder i.e. sales to China.
The argument is simple: “Forget about the sale of weapons to China that I cannot defend as it is a too obvious example that Israel is not specially aligned with American security imperatives (but it’s ok because Israel has ‘apologized’ for this behavior). However, I’ll try to divert your attention and show how Israel actually helps strategically the US by arming Israel against the dark lords of Pakistan and arming Singapore haven of liberalism and antithesis of Chinese political culture”.
This is how you debunk producers of knowledge.

Paris Air Show Le Bourget

It should not come as a surprise that a lot of tension is arising at the Paris Air show, specially between the US and Israel over Chinese and Indian arms deals.

Boeing seems to be losing the Chinese as partners, and EADS (Airbus) is allying with US defense contractor Northrop Grunnman.
All and all, Asia is the biggest spender on aircrafts (China and India and the Middle East).

Arms industry and energy politics

Check out this good article on the slow replacement of oil by gaz as the number one strategic commodity for the next century. It’s cleaner, but it much more dangerous to carry around so goodluck with the political consequences that. Oh, and who are the main country where gas is found? Qatar, Iran, Russia, Angola, Yemen and Algeria. Well, good luck with that too. Maybe this would explain some of the US’s political moves.

Middle East and Asia : A strategic link?

That’s what some dudes are going to find out on the 20th and the 21st of June at a reunion in Singapore called the Asia-Middle East Dialogue (Amed) as reported by the Bangkok’s Nation:

The Middle East’s influence on Asia dates back thousands of years and touches political, religious and cultural fields. During the region’s oil boom years, Asian developing countries benefited from millions of construction jobs that were given to Asian labourers, particularly those from Southeast Asia. At the moment there are millions of Filipinos working in the Middle East alongside smaller numbers of Thais, Vietnamese and Indonesians.
What is strange is that ever since it was set up in 1967, Asean has been discussing the Middle East situation in one way or another at its annual meetings. For decades the grouping’s position on the region has remained constant. It continues to support the peaceful settlement of the Middle East conflict and the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. Indeed, it has been the only issue on which Asean members have shared a common view without much bickering in the past three decades.The issue has also served as a link between the two regions that has promoted relationships with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Singapore has invited almost all of the Middle East countries, including some of the more moderate Islamic ones such as Egypt, which will host the second Amed meeting, and Jordan.
The meeting hopes to produce policy recommendations related to political, economic and social issues as well as initiatives that are imperative for further development.
As such, Amed will be “inclusive in spirit and focus on positive outcomes for greater cooperation between Asia and the Middle East”, according to the concept paper drafted by Singapore. Working principles will be “voluntary, informal and flexible”.
Amed will also adopt the Asean code of conduct of non-interference in other member’s internal affairs and respect for each member’s unique cultures and social values.
The Amed agenda as of now dwells on three key areas: political and security issues, economic issues and social issues, the latter encompassing education, science, culture and media. The participants will come from “a broad spectrum” of countries as well as policy makers, scholars and other opinion makers. All participants are encouraged to discuss frankly as an individual on all topics. Their views are noncommittal.
More than the Asian countries would like to admit, one of Amed’s most important aims is promote the region’s views in the Middle East, which has long been dominated by the US and Europe. Asian countries have no quarrels with the parties to the Middle East conflicts. It will be the first time that representatives of the two regions discuss the situation without the interference or presence of major Western powers.
From the Asian countries’ standpoint, current global issues are too polarised by the vested interests of major powers and their lack of tolerance; they hope to promote better understanding. Dialogue between Asia and Middle East, the most diverse regions in the world, could result in more moderate views and practical outcomes.
It will be interesting to see how Amed will evolve. On one hand, it covers the same countries that are part of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), which has 28 members and has become one of Thailand’s top policy platforms. On the other hand, practical recommendations that will follow the Amed meeting are certain to bear resemblance to the ACD cooperation framework.
Thailand, which has agreed to host the third Amed meeting, expects the forum to complement the ongoing ACD process, which it considers an umbrella for broader Asian cooperation, since both the ACD and Amed share similar principles and objectives. ACD has conducted 19 activities in 12 areas including agriculture, tourism, poverty alleviation.
In the end, the success of these processes will depend on the level of commitment of the participating countries. If history is any indicator, only certain areas of cooperation in these forums will be given priority and focus. Only the most practical and high-yield initiatives, such as issues related to energy security, e-commerce, IT and human resource development and cultural cooperation, will take off without difficulty.

We already have three meetings scheduled! Well, let’s hope something worthwhile will come out of this framework as it constitutes one of the most promising future for the continent (middle East and asia equals Asia).

Walid Phares encore et toujours

Read this piece of trash:

Prior to 9/11, the Wahhabi/Islamist/Arabist lobbies led by the Saudis in Washington were able to vouch for Syrian hegemony in Lebanon and perpetuate the Syrian occupation. These lobbies protected the interests of Arab/Muslim dictatorships in the Middle East, essentially quashing pro-democracy movements like that in Lebanon. After 9/11, however, the dynamics of these lobbies shifted. The Saudis needed to focus their complete attention on protecting their own interests, specifically in defending their alleged alliance with the United States. As a result, lobbying efforts to the U.S. Congress on behalf of the Syrian occupation in Lebanon terminated. This consequence, coupled with the general U.S. interest in all things related to the Middle East and terror that sprang up after 9/11 paved the way for the pro-Lebanese democracy movement to effectively speak out against the Syrian occupation regime which is also a state sponsor of terror.

How he links his own crusade against “Islamism” – that keeps him in business in the US and turns him into an expert – to advance his petty Christian xenophobia on the so-called Lebanese identity is horrifying to say the least. He would not be interesting if he was just an exception to the rule. The problem is that he could turn out to be the rule or to be ‘creating the rule’.

Israeli Firm Wins U.S. Weapons Contract in Iraq

Well that’s an old story but I just bumped into it:

Israeli company Palsen Sasa has won a contract to provide armor for U.S. military vehicles in Iraq, company sources said on March 8.
Under the terms of the contract, the Sasa kibbutz company in the northern Galilee region will provide amour for 2,000 trucks and other vehicles. It will supply kits that can be assembled on site by U.S. troops serving in Iraq.
Aside from the Israeli and U.S. armies, Palsen Sasa also supplies the British, Dutch and Indian militaries.
The U.S. military has recently suffered criticism that its vehicles operating in Iraq are insufficiently protected with amour plating.

I’m sure there are others though.

US is main seller of Weapons to the world

While you were busy looking at how the US spreads democracy, Uncle Sam has been profiting from weapons sales like crazy over the dead bodies of I don’t know how many human being, animals and others.
The June 2005 report from the World Policy Institute is very rich on the subject.

Israel burnt its fingers

You should not play with fire as my dad and whitesnake used to say. This appeared in Haaretz today:

The U.S. administration has asked the government to reduce the authority of the Defense Ministry to authorize Israel security exports to countries Washington deems “problematic.”
In discussions with representatives from the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, Israel was asked to increase the involvement of other ministries, especially the Foreign Ministry and the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry in the supervision of permits for the sale of sensitive security equipment and technology to a number of countries, especially China.

Now Now, frankly, I prefer AFP’s incisive account of the events:

Sanctions US contre Israël pour ses ventes d’armes à la Chine

JERUSALEM, 12 juin 2005 (AFP) – Washington a imposé des sanctions à Israël et renforcé ses pressions à cause de ses ventes d’armes à la Chine, rapporte dimanche le quotidien israélien Haaretz.
Les Etats Unis ont exigé des informations sur 60% des récents contrats d’armes avec la Chine et ont réclamé un rapport détaillé sur les exportations d’armes en général, selon le journal.
En attendant, ils auraient gelé la coopération en vue de la production d’un futur chasseur JSF, ainsi que la coopération sur des systèmes électroniques de supervision du camp de bataille destinés à l’armée de terre.
Ils auraient interrompu en outre la livraison de matériel optique de vision nocturne et coupé les contacts entre le Pentagone et le ministère de la Défense.

UPDATE Al Jazeerah has more information :

Washington has also frozen Israel out of the development of Lockheed Martin Corporation’s F-35, a next-generation warplane being developed with several foreign participants. (…)
The dispute stems from the Israeli sale of unmanned drone aircraft technology to China. State-owned Israel Aircraft Industries sold Harpy drones to China in the early 1990s. Harpy parts were shipped to Israel last year for what American defence officials said was an upgrade.
Israel has denied the American contention, saying the Harpy units were undergoing routine maintenance with Israeli military officials saying work on the Harpy deal has been frozen.
The U.S. fears the Harpy technology could threaten Taiwan or endanger U.S. forces in case of war with China. In 2000, Washington “cancelled” a $2 billion Israeli sale of PHALCON reconnaissance planes to China. The botched deal caused ill will between Israel and China that was resolved only after Israel paid hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.
The Haaretz reports that this time the United States has suspended cooperation on development of an advanced imaging system for Israeli forces, frozen collaboration on Hunter 2 unmanned attack aircraft, and suspended the delivery of parts of night-vision equipment to the Israeli army. (…)
Israeli defence officials said Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz already has appointed a retired general, Herzl Bodinger, to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with the Americans.
The officials said the memo would force Israel to receive U.S. approval on arms exports to countries defined by the Americans as “sensitive.”
The officials described the memorandum as a “humiliating step,” but said Israel would have no choice but to sign the document.

What a bummer for the Israelis..

More Millionaires for the Middle East

According to a Merrill Lynch and Cap Gemini report reported by Will Rasmussen at the Daily Star:

booming oil prices were the ticket for almost 30,000 people across the Middle East to an exclusive club: the world’s millionaires. The annual world wealth report, released Thursday by Merrill Lynch and Co. and the Capgemini Group consulting firm, found that the Middle East was the fastest growing region in the world in terms of assets owned by “high net worth individuals,” defined as those with more than $1 million.
The amount of wealth controlled by this millionaire class in the Middle East grew by 28.9 percent in 2004 to $1 trillion.
In terms of the number of new millionaires, the Middle East grew 9.5 percent in 2004, reaching 300,000 people. North America, where the number of millionaires grew 9.7 percent to 2.7 million people, was first. 
“The surge in oil prices is the main factor for the growth, which for the Middle East is mostly concentrated in the GCC region,” said Patrick Meyer, a regional analyst for Merrill Lynch.
The number of millionaires worldwide also jumped to 8.3 million people in 2004 from 7.7 million a year earlier. Their total wealth rose 8.2 percent to $30.8 trillion in 2004.
Although the global expansion has been slowing, Merrill Lynch predicts 6.5 percent worldwide growth over the next five years and estimates that the number of new millionaires created per year in the Middle East will continue to grow at a rate of around 9 percent annually. By 2009, the Middle East’s high net worth individuals will control $1.5 trillion.
Oil prices spiked dramatically in 2004, fueling rapid growth in many stock markets around the GCC region. The red-hot property market in Dubai has also been boosting personal wealth in the region.
More of this new wealth, especially after September 11, 2001 is staying in the region instead of Europe or the U.S.
“The most profound implication of this growth is that its helped Arab investors to look in the region for reinvestment opportunities,” Walid Musallam, CEO of Beirut-based Middle East Capital Group, told The Daily Star. “They’re looking within the region more than they did in the past.”
In case worldwide demand for oil slows, GCC countries have been striving to diversify their economies to attract investment in tourism, banking, or trade, but progress is slow.
“It’s a bit spotty. Dubai can make a claim to diversification but the GCC is still an oil-based economy,” Musallam said.

Lebanese Electricity after the revolution

This is reported by Sibylle Rizk at the Orient-le-jour:

Le gaz syrien n’est toujours pas livré à la centrale électrique de Beddaoui, dans le nord du pays, et il semble que l’ouverture des vannes n’aura pas lieu de sitôt. Ce contretemps, qui coûte 330 000 dollars par jour à l’État libanais (le passage au gaz représenterait une économie annuelle de 120 millions de dollars), est dû à des facteurs à la fois techniques et politiques liés à la Syrie, dit-on au ministère de l’Énergie. 
Les facteurs techniques ne sont pas dus à la partie libanaise qui a finalement achevé le tronçon du gazoduc reliant la frontière à la centrale et qui a terminé la réhabilitation de Beddaoui afin qu’elle fonctionne au gaz, alors que le combustible utilisé depuis des années est le gazoil. Ils tiennent à l’impossibilité pour la Syrie de se procurer le logiciel nécessaire au fonctionnement du gazoduc. 
« Ce logiciel n’est pas autorisé à l’importation en Syrie en raison de l’embargo commercial imposé par les États-Unis », dans le cadre du Syria Accountability Act, précise-t-on au ministère. Cet obstacle pourrait éventuellement être levé, explique un connaisseur du dossier, si le Liban se chargeait de l’importation du logiciel en question.
Mais il resterait à régler l’obstacle politique : puisque le gouvernement libanais a annoncé qu’il voulait renégocier tous les accords qui le lient à la Syrie, sous-entendant qu’ils sont tous léonins, Damas a décidé que l’accord sur le gaz serait lui aussi remis sur le tapis, explique-t-on au ministère de l’Énergie. « Autrement dit, le prix, les volumes, tout pourra être remis en question », souligne un connaisseur du dossier.
Le ministre de l’Énergie, Bassam Yammine, fait de son mieux pour trouver une solution à ce contretemps, dit-on au ministère. L’affaire est en tout cas révélatrice des relations tendues entre Damas et Beyrouth. Son sort devrait donner le « la » de l’évolution des rapports des deux voisins, après le départ des troupes syriennes, fin avril.

Global military expenditures 50% US

Just for you guys to know, this is from the AFP:

Les dépenses militaires mondiales ont dépassé les 1 000 milliards de dollars en 2004, près de la moitié revenant aux États-Unis dont le budget reste alourdi par la « guerre contre le terrorisme », selon le rapport annuel de l’Institut international de recherche pour la paix à Stockholm publié hier.
Au total, les dépenses militaires ont atteint 1 035 milliards de dollars l’année dernière, soit une hausse de 8 % par rapport à 2003. Cela représente 162 dollars par habitant de la planète. Washington a dépensé 47 % de ce montant.
Cette nouvelle forte augmentation des dépenses militaires, après une hausse de 11 % en 2003, ne porte toutefois pas le budget d’armement mondial à un niveau record. Il était plus élevé au plus fort de la guerre froide, à la fin des années 1980, note l’institut.
Les dépenses américaines ont rapidement augmenté entre 2002 et 2004 à cause de l’importance des montants alloués à la « guerre mondiale contre le terrorisme », principalement en Irak et en Afghanistan, peut-on lire.

Pipelines and Asia

The first stage of the Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan pipeline has just been inaugurated. Starting from Baku in Azerbajian, it passes through Georgia and ends in Turkey. The project is politically heavily loaded as it shifts the region under an American umbrella. It would hypothetically produce as much as Iraq. Starting signs of instability are clearly present in Azerbajian were demonstrations against the US-backed autocratic ruler took place in Baku. In this case, democracy is not preached but it could be if the US decides to shift alliances requiring ‘democratic’ upheavals. Georgia has already its army trained and equiped by the US army supposedly to fight terrorists. I guess that’s why Georgia is a large recipient of aids. The whole thing does not please the Russian who are the principal target in all this though they adopted a wait-and-see approach.

Meanwhile companies like British BP are causing great environmental and human damages via enormous amounts of profit that has no significant economic and social benefits.

On another level Islamabad has just agreed on the building of a pipeline that would cross from Iran and Turkmenistan through pakistan and onto India. Some say even to China. This signals a possible detente between Pakistan and India, which could constitute a historical breakthrough. But wait-and-see here is the right approach for the political scientist.

Samir Kassir’s assassination

There is an article from propaganda newsprint Telegraph that puts it into perspective with the coming Baath conference. Apparently, The Syrian government is trying to clamp down on many activists inside Syria as well.
Joshua Landis has a good input on how Syria is pissed as it did no get any gratitude back for what it did this past year. The real question remains: is Syria playing with fire? Or did it read history once more the correct way?

Bernard Lewis (update)

Check out this good article that appeared in the Asia Times:

The West’s policy – in other words, the policy of the Anglo-Americans, as the European Union does not have a policy worth citing – toward the Middle East has long been formulated by Bernard Lewis. The British-born Lewis started his career as an intelligence officer and has remained in bed with British intelligence ever since. Avowedly anti-Russia and pro-Israel, Lewis reaped a rich harvest among US academia and policymakers. He brought president Jimmy Carter’s virulently anti-Russian National Security Council chief, Zbigniew Brzezinski, into his fold in the 1980s, and made the US neo-conservatives, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, dance to his tune on the Middle East in 2001. In between, he penned dozens of books and was taken seriously by people as a historian. But, in fact, Lewis is what he always was: a British intelligence officer.