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The US and the Iraq question: Let the blame fall on one man, provided he is not an American

It is rather stunning to watch pundits in the US analyze the situation in Iraq. Imperial hubris prevails in all the discourse by Democrats and Republicans alike. The answer to the problems of Iraq has been simple: Nouri al-Maliki is the villain, and once he is removed and replaced by the client of Saudi and Western intelligence, Iyad Allawi, the vision of Bush in Iraq could be fulfilled. Maliki was compared to Stalin and will soon be elevated to the status of “yet another Hitler” in the Middle East.

Curiosity [not Culture] is a basic need

A few days ago, I attended a press conference organized by AFAC, the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, held at the abandoned Holiday Inn building right above the Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut. They were announcing ten new grantees in their Arab Documentary Photography Program in partnership with the Magnum Foundation and the Prince Claus Fund. As commendable as their work may be, the only reason I attended was the chance to go inside the Holiday Inn building again.

The Arab Predicament: the series

‘The Arab Predicament’ by Fouad Ajami triggered a phenomenon: he freed himself (and subsequently others) from the constraints of academic paradigms and even jargon to spew observations, generalizations, and reductions about the Arab world. His was the first, and it was written in a flowery language that academics and Middle East Studies students were not accustomed to. It worked in that regard. He brought journalism into academia and the focus was in sync with the Zionist establishment.


We’ve spent our entire lives
clutching passports
and saving ticket stubs
so that when we wake up
and we find ourselves
far from your embrace
we have enough evidence
to hush the howling wounds
that try with all of their might
to convince us
that we were dreaming.

I can taste the bitterness of loving you
on my tongue and around my gums
as though I’ve spent days
chewing on the lemon rinds
that remain of my grandmother’s orchards
as though I’ve been grinding on burning tires
that fuel the flames of protest in your streets
and here I am swallowing the pieces

A decent proposal to the Municipality of Tripoli

Dear esteemed President and Members of the Municipality of Tripoli,

I am writing to ask you for a special favor. I would like to be granted total control over the city of Tripoli for one year. In a week’s time, I will be turning twenty-eight and in the past ten years, I have left Tripoli twice. Once for a proper education and another for a proper life. I have developed a certain hatred for my hometown over the years and sought refuge in the relative freedom, anonymity and invigoration of Beirut.

ICG’s report on Hezbollah: NowHariri propaganda masquerading as March 14 propaganda (or vice versa)

There is no question that the International Crisis Group’s (ICG) reports have become widely read among the community of journalists and academics. They tend to be carefully written and thoroughly researched, although they rarely deviate from the orientations of the foreign policies of Western governments. It is not clear whether the resignation of Bob Malley has had any impact on the Group’s Middle East work, but the new Middle East director operates out of Israel.

Fayrouz should have been a public space

I truly believe that our molested citizenship and crippled national identity will only be able to heal in public spaces, in real time and real place. It’s less conceptual, less ideological, less rhetorical and more tangible. This blog post might sound similar to another I wrote about public spaces, but it is a follow up to last week’s after a friend of mine that was physically molested in Daliyeh asked me why I didn’t mention all the crime that happens there at night.

The end of Michel Suleiman’s presidency

The New York Times published a rather comical tribute to Michel Suleiman by its correspondent Ben Hubbard (who got the year of the civil war wrong by more than a decade and who got the year of the National Pact, which set the sectarian tags of all top posts of government, by several decades). Hubbard talked about Suleiman like he is an elder statesman who was widely respected by the Lebanese people. Of course, what made Suleiman popular with Western governments and their dutiful foreign correspondents (it is arguable that Western correspondents are not less loyal to the foreign policy goals of their governments than the Syrian or Saudi correspondents of official regime media) is that in the last two years — only — of his administration he became mildly — very mildly — critical of Hizbullah’s intervention in Syria.

A witness to Israeli terror savors liberation

The following is the testimony of my mother, who I interviewed for Liberation Day, commemorated every May 25 — marking the end of Israel’s occupation of south Lebanon. This is her personal story of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the horrors she witnessed.

Daliyeh as a case study to rebuild Beirut

“To the sea,” a veiled lady said to stop the taxi I was riding to the same place she wanted to go to. I had asked him to go to “Raouché” a common name for the coastal area overlooking the infamous Pigeon Rocks of Beirut. I preferred her way of telling him where she wanted to go, and thought I should tell my taxis to take me to the sea from now on, but in a few years they would probably think I’m joking and drive off.

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