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Jeffrey Feltman’s children: The jihadis of Lebanon

One of the most under (or un) reported stories about the Middle East is the story of the rise of jihadi groups in Lebanon over the last decade. All American correspondents in Beirut are too preoccupied, and emotionally invested, with the story of the Free Syrian Army and the “Syrian revolution.” The developments of Lebanon are of little interest to them, and perhaps because the story is way too embarrassing for US foreign policy. The clashes in the last several months between the Lebanese armed forces and various jihadi groups (operating under the banner of al-Nusra Front or under the banner of ISIS or `Abdullah `Azzam Brigades) got little attention in the Western press and the story was covered merely as an extension of the Syrian war. But there are roots to the modern jihadi groups on Lebanese terrain.

Refugee crisis exacerbated by ‘Fortress Europe’

The Mediterranean Sea has become a graveyard for asylum seekers who travel by boat towards what they hope will be even a fragment of salvation; they are left with Hobson’s choice – without any legal recourse and oftentimes with little time at their disposal it is either they board a crowded skiff, anticipating the possibility of survival, or they remain enveloped by terrifying and unbearable prospects for themselves and their families.

Living in a constant state of ‘pre-war’

As a pre-war native of Lebanon, one knows their place at the bottom of the global and local food chains. We dress well, speak eloquently, remain ‘aware’ of a wide panorama of happenings to camouflage who we really are, and it works most of the time. We’re chic. Within our lowlife chicness, we climb over each other to make sure we’re at least above someone else. It makes for a great moral boost, trust me. Stepping on you elevates me a bit, knowing a foot is inevitably looking for my head. It’s a temporary reach we seem to need to accept, an improvised dance of our everyday lives, a social dabké of some sort that makes us feel normal. Don’t be afraid. We’re all in this together.

Some determinants of Iranian foreign policy in the Arab East

Iranian foreign policy has become far less shaped by the Islamic ideology of the Islamic Republic’s founder. Its policies are now similar to those of the other regimes of the region that are overwhelmingly concerned with survival, popularity, and influence. In the early years of the Islamic Republic, the regime sought the support of Sunnis and Shia alike in a vision that promised Islamic unity. The vision was not far fetched at first as the construction of the republic according to the vision of the Wilayat Al-Faqih (Guardianship of the Jurist) was in its infancy. Many Arabs, Muslims and leftists alike, were inspired by the example of the revolution and pinned high hopes on the new regime which toppled the mighty dictatorship of the Shah.

The Judaization of Jerusalem: an intro

The Judaization of Jerusalem is a historic component of the greater occupation of Palestine which, even if examined at modest extents, reveals how deeply politicized the Zionist establishment has made every day life for non-Jewish citizens and inhabitants of occupied Palestine. The mobilized power of Israel’s colonial-settler society has created discriminatory policies which directly target Arabs – the reason behind these discriminatory policies is so that an atmosphere which favors Israel’s Jewish populace is created, making it increasingly difficult for Palestinians to live.

What’s next for Tripoli?

I do not know what is going on in Tripoli. I do not read the news, listen to, or watch it. I have somewhat taught myself not to. The fact that ‘news’ is never real ‘news’ is something that everyone is quite familiar with right now. Deep inside the bowels of this age of propaganda, words, images and their combinations don’t necessarily mean anything. Like many others, I am quietly invited to pick from an array of opinions I can align myself with and call them my news. As my newsfeeds dive into the past immediately, with the present moving faster than I can grasp, I stare at video after video of mobile phone footage pretending it’s less ‘manufactured,’ hence more credible, but I still don’t know what is happening in Tripoli.

Radical Reform in Islam: Shaykh `Abdullah Al-`Alayli

Beirut has been commemorating the 100th birthday of Shaykh `Abdullah al-`Alayli. This cleric, dubbed the “red cleric” by his reactionary enemies, was the first cousin of my grandfather. We grew up admiring him from a distance as he rarely mingled with the family in social gatherings. The few times we met him he left a great impression: he seemed very wise and very modest given the renown that surrounded his personality. We heard from my mother a lot about him: that he persistently supported the educational pursuits of my late mother (first in law school and later in doctoral studies at St. Joseph University, at a time in the 1940s and 1950s when many families did not think that university education was suitable for women, and when many Muslim families distrusted Christian missionary schools and colleges). And when my mother and father fell in love while working together on the staff of the Lebanese parliament, al-`Alayli stepped in to support the marriage of this Sunni Beiruti woman to a Shia man from South Lebanon. Al-`Alayli put his progressive thought into practice in his own family. And when we were young children, we kept pestering my mother with questions about differences between Sunnis and Shia. One memorable afternoon, she got frustrated with us and took us to visit Shaykh `Abdullah.

Audacious Gulf policies and military adventures: the case of the UAE

There is a new audacious conduct by Gulf countries. The previous generation of Gulf rulers were all cautious and reserved even if they were engaged in covert operations alongside the US or Israel (like the Saudi regime in the Yemeni war). The previous generation was nervous about antagonizing Arab public opinion too much, and their relationship with the US was within the boundaries of what was deemed acceptable publicly in their estimation, regardless of how far they go in their subservience in private.

There’s someone happy in Lebanon

A glance at the title of this text is sure to take you on a wild trip aboard surreal setups that we wish actually existed. Yes, I am as confused as you are. There’s someone happy to be living in Lebanon. He is a taxi driver that once tried to open up his own taxi company but failed. Nevertheless, he remains happy. I got to know all of this as his car reeked of joy last Saturday night while he and I were deciding which route would bless us with the least traffic on that godforsaken night of the week.

Women as tools: on the selective fetishization of female resistance fighters

The fetishization of women during times of war, especially women in combat, can be argued as being a reification of patriarchal power; the patriarchal view of female violence as being a demonstration of chaos reimagined as tolerable and even acceptable so long as this violence serves patriarchy, militant or otherwise. Despite the female identity being granted space for violent expression, the sexualization of these spaces and the bodies which take up these spaces, has become normalized.

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