One down

Another billionaire Saudi middleman was named last night in the Serious Fraud Office’s controversial Saudi arms deal inquiry, according to potential witnesses. The SFO is seeking information about any Swiss bank accounts belonging to Mohammad Safadi, a Lebanese politician who has acted for relatives of Prince Sultan, crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

Mr Safadi would not comment last night at his office in Beirut, where he holds the office of public works minister and also controls the Safadi Group. His property firms have received contracts from the British arms company BAE and have interests in office blocks in London worth £120m.

la misère humaine
dans une crinière dégarnie
la misère humaine
dans l’espérance rabougrie
la misère humaine
dans la faute des autres
les erreurs de ceux qui n’ont pas compris
la misère humaine
dans l’asphalte encore brûlant
des combats absurde
qui traduisent à ciel ouvert
la misère humaine
dans mes poumons encore chaud
sur le roc qui bât la mesure

The Dream: A Poetic Interlude …

I met her as a blossom on a stem
Before she ever breathed, and in that dream
The mind remembers from a deeper sleep:
Eye learned from eye, cold lip from sensual lip.
My dream divided on a point of fire;
Light hardened on the water where we were;
A bird sang low; the moonlight sifted in;
The water rippled, and she rippled on.

She came toward me in the flowing air,
A shape of change, encircled by it’s fire.
I watched her there, between me and the moon;
The bushes and the stones danced on and on;
I touched her shadow when the light delayed;
I turned my face away, and yet she stayed.
A bird sang from the center of a tree;
She loved the wind because the wind loved me.

Love is not love until love’s vulnerable.
She slowed to sigh in that long interval.
A small bird flew in circles where we stood;
A deer came down, out of the dappled wood.
All who remember, doubt. Who calls that strange?
I tossed a stone, and listened to its plunge.
She knew the grammar of least motion, she
Lent me one virtue, and I live thereby.

She held her body steady in the wind;
Our shadows met, and slowly swung around;
She turned the field into a glittering sea;
I played in flame and water like a boy
And I swayed out beyond the white seafoam;
Like a wet log, I sang within a flame.
In that last while, eternity’s confine,
I came to love, I came into my own.

Theodore Roethke, 1958.


So the first numbers are strating to come in, they range from 800 000 to 1 000 000. Since people are still pouring in it seems obvious that the demonstrations will soon reach the historical proportions of the famous march 14 and maybe more.
We are witnessing the same popular will today to topple the government than to push Syrian troops out of the country in 2005. If we believe international press (see Le Monde who used to be a good news paper in France but is mutating into one of the worst Mid-East propagandist, or Haaretz who talks about “Hezbollah and its
pro-Syrian allies”) it is a pro-syrian demonstration. Equally the so-called “majority” uses the same rhetoric: Hariri who seems to be playing the same tape he bought in some ranch in Texas over and over again declares “We will not accept to be part of an axis of Syria and Iran”. Of course thay do not address the other main points of the opposition’s requisitory such as corruption, breaches to the constitution, biaised electoral laws or the absence of any counter power to the current governement that goes against all principles of democracy.
So if we believe all these rethorical discourses and propagandist press articles we have today as many people demonstrating for Syria as we had people demonstrating against it in 2005. Are Lebanese people so schyzophrenic? Allow me to doubt that. If there is a pro-syrian constituent in the rally (the numbers must approach 200 000 based on the march 8 demonstration minus all those who actually turned out to be Syrians on that date, so we are left with 6 to 800 000 who share other beliefs), it is sureley not enough to call the whole thing “pro-syrian”. Or else I need some kind of explanation as to how Syria was able to attract more people now that it’s grip on Lebanon has softened then when it’s army was still around.

Phone politics

Again I have learned from sources close to the prime minister’s office (of course I might be making this up… but maybe not, and anyway this is what I have heard) that Siniora was seriously considering his resignation 2 days ago when repetitive phone calls from the american ambassador urged him not to do so.
If it is Washington who is making the calls in this critical time it could strongly support Bech’s argument that they seriously tend towards federalising Lebanon by promoting internal tensions. Another interpretation could be that they are desperately trying to hang on to their allied government despite it’s hopeless situation. We all remember that in the first days of the “July War” Washington issued a statement supporting Israeli actions as long as they did not “threaten the stability of Siniora’s governement”. Again we have a strange similarity to Iraq where the US supports Al-Maliki despite the choas spreading throughout the country.
Thankfully we have not yet reached this point in Lebanon but if Siniora persists in maintaining his position we might soon get dangerously close to it.

political sectarianism: the latest colonial weapon

On a selective memory by Azmi Bishara. It should be read as an antidote to the fatal short-sightedness currently afflicting the Middle East. Whether imposed or self-inflicted, it serves only those with colonial designs on the region.

The identity crisis in the eastern Arab world is a modern phenomenon, not the extension of a condition with deep historical roots. Nor are nationalism and state- and nation-building concepts that conflict with the existence of tribal and sectarian affiliations; they are answers to the challenges of building a modern society. The problem in Iraq, today, is that the country’s tribal and sectarian structure is being forced on Iraqis as a mold for political affiliation. People aren’t born as a nation; nations are built. And in order to build a nation you don’t go delving into history, when there was no state or nation and when all that existed were tribes and sects, as some Orientalists do.

Now, they proclaim, the state has to be turned into a sectarian and denominationally based federation, ie the state has to be deconstructed, or terminated. The idea that Arab identity can serve as an overarching bond for the people and simultaneously accommodate non-Arab minorities simply does not occur to them.

After having identified Arab nationalism as enemy number one, they co-opted Arab nationalist criticisms of the sub-regional state and its dependence on tribal and sectarian groupings and then distorted and turned these criticisms against both the state and Arab nationalism. Now the Arabs are required to recognise tribal and sectarian divisions as the only structural basis for a pluralistic society and to stop thinking of these pre- modern allegiances as possible impediments to statehood and nationalism, as Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries concluded.

Evidently, the rule of political sectarianism and the preparation of the Arab world for the latest colonialist weapon, requires partial collective memory alongside partial collective amnesia.

It’s time to see political sectarianism in its many guises as, at best, a festering band-aid solution and at worst (closer to the mark): “the latest colonialist weapon”. Wake up.

No need to worry

Somebody is doing it for you. Just stand there and hold what we will give you. Funny how demonstrations don’t scare me the least because in Lebanon, I know that it’s the most disciplined political exercise.