The Blog

view:  full / summary

Turkey's Erdogan between allies and foes

Posted on October 8, 2014 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (53)


Despite the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in countries such as Egypt and Yemen, where the movement has entrenched grassroots of affiliates and supporters, the Turkish “Justice and Development” Party - AK succeeded to win 51.79% of the votes, during the presidential elections held on 10 August 2014. This was the first presidential elections during which the people, rather then their parliamentary representatives, were the ones eligible to vote in accordance with the 2007 “constitutional referendum.

 

An approximate 28.5 million Turkish citizens preferred having the incumbent Prime Minister, Recep Tayyib Erdogan, at the presidential office, caring less about the latter’s claimed murky political and economic manoeuvres, which reached a climax during the 2013-2014 “Gezi Park” protests. While some refer to the underlined protests as a cornerstone towards free expression of the people’s will in a country where secularism and democracy are none but trading points on Ankara’s foreign affairs agenda, others accuse regional and international players of meddling into the country’s internal affairs in order to weakening the system from within and undermine the achievements realised by AK.

 

Regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong, the outcome of the recent presidential elections confirmed that Turkish citizens are still not prepared to evade social conservatism, as long as it preserves a balance between politico-religious practices and communal secular lifestyle. Indeed, such sentiment has not surfaced out of the blue. On one hand, the regional turmoil, accompanied by a popular denouncement vis-a-vis radical Islamic movements such as ISIS and Jubhat Al-Nusrah, had entrapped Turkish citizens in constant fear from being pulled, even if unintentionally, into a deadly quagmire, which has reached the southern borders. On the other hand, the continuous influx of refugees from Syria and Iraq threaten to create disparities within the Turkish social fabric and awake anew ethnic rivalries especially by the Kurdish component.

 

Saying so, Turkey’s worst nightmares might not be triggered solely by external factors but rather could be provoked via an internal constituent: the military institution. Until 1980, the Turkish nation had witnessed four successful coups. The series of assassinations and coordinated attacks, which occurred between 24 January and 4 November 1993, were flagged by some analysts as “camouflaged military coup executed by elements of the Turkish military via covert means”. The military memorandum of 1997 indicted the ousting Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan from office and the end of the coalition government, thus reminding Turks of the far-reach influence of the military institution on the political platform. Operations “Sledgehammer” and “Cage Action Plan”, dating back to 2003 and 2009 respectively, did not help to minimise the Turkish citizens’ frustrations and disgruntlement from being forced, abruptly, into a junta order.

 

Throughout his tenure as prime minister, Mr. Erdogan played the role of the authoritarian, the economic revolutionary, the social liberties garrison, and the intolerable manipulator. Nevertheless, he succeeded to spearhead economic growth and political reforms, promoting Turkey to be the 17th largest economy in the world and in line with the European Union’s model. In September 2013, the U.S. President Barack Obama shocked many of his allies by stating that Washington will refrain from carrying aerial operations against military targets in Syria. The underlined announcement, followed by the revitalisation of U.S. - Iranian dialogue over Tehran’s nuclear program, pushed Mr. Erdogan to step back, in his confrontational stances in regard to Al-Assad regime in Syria, and concentrate on preventing the emergence of radical Islamic activities on Turkish soil.

 

Mr. Obama’s speech was the second blow to Erdogan’s strategic political approach in the Middle East region, following the “July 2013” counter-revolution in Egypt, which resulted in the arrest of President Mohammad Morsi and the classification of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist movement.

 

The growing discontent from the Muslim Brotherhood’s misruling in Egypt caused a strife amongst the Arab Gulf states where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates withdrew their ambassadors from Doha in March 2013. Accordingly, Qatar was forced to inform seven leading figures of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood branch, including Amr Darraj and Mahmoud Hussein, that they should “leave within a week” the Qatari capital.

 

As quoted by Andrew Hammond, a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, “rather than making sweeping policy changes, the side-lined state - Qatar - is making incremental concessions to placate its neighbours”. Concurrently, Qatar’s determination has further isolated Turkey from the Arab World and emphasised a precarious role for Ankara in the newly announced war on terror, or ISIL, as initiated, once again, by the U.S. administration.


Your jokes are no longer tolerated, Sir

Posted on May 3, 2014 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Jokes have long been perceived as a good manner to break the ice among individuals, stamp social gatherings with a jovial touch, and render multi-background peoples closer to each others. Being witty was nothing less than a grace and a charming trait pretty much desired by women. Nevertheless, such social perception, which was well reputed during the 1980s and 1990s, is absolutely not a virtue in the 21st Century. The sense of humour is no longer appreciated, unless it tackles a dictated list of specific topics, and jesting in public places can easily be censored by whomever working for a civil or armed governmental entity. In case you have any joke to tell, better cross-check the content and punchline first for you might end up arrested under suspicion of undermining the national security of the state.

 

Surprisingly, the first time I noticed a change in social understanding towards a joke, I was queuing for my turn to have a boarding pass from a counter at one of the Arab international airports. Out of sudden, I was struck to read on a big banner dandling above the crew member’s head, “Terrorism related jokes are not tolerated under possible culpability”. I re-read the designated statement four times but could not help myself from avoiding to greasily smile. As I moved my eyes rightward, I realised that such advice was in fact dandling over every counter at this airport’s main hall.

 

Three weeks later, I had a conversation over the phone with a friend of mine, who had a horrendous melodrama to debrief about. The guy was planning to take a plane from one U.S. state to another in order to attend the wedding of a close relative. He booked his ticket online, checked in his luggage at the respective airport and proceeded to the gate waiting for the boarding time. Meanwhile, he received a call informing him that the groom decided to call off the wedding. So, my friend headed to the lady at the boarding gate and asked her to unload his luggage off the plane. “Sorry, we can not do so sir!”, she replied. “Ma’m, I may not travel back to that destination in months!”, my friend proposed. For unknown reasons, the lady stuck to her guns. Furious about the airport’s staff member nonsense, my friend debated innocently, “Let’s assume that a bomb was found in my luggage, would you still send it on that plane!”. With a face as cold as a Scandinavian winter, she lanced, “Sir, you are no longer permitted to take this flight. Step aside and don’t move, please”. Few minutes later, a police unit showed up and took that friend of mine for hours and hours of exhaustive interrogation. The only positive matter in this whole story is the fact that my friend managed to get his luggage back after being freed from the airport’s police station.

 

Few years back, I had attended one performance by the “Axis of Evil Comedy Tour” held in Beirut. The set included three Arab - American and one Iranian - American stand-up comedians who deployed humour to reflect on the daily experiences of a U.S. citizen of Middle Eastern origins after 9/11. This same act was featured on many stages throughout the world but succeeded to leave a smile on the face of its audience via humour. In this same year, I got introduced - via YouTube of course - to Jeff Dunham and his character “Achmed The Dead Terrorist”. Eddie Griffin, Preacher Moss and DL Hughley had also made “terrorism related jokes” - for sake of being coherent with the airport’s banners - on stage or broadcasted on television stations. If we are to sympathise with the new airports’ procedures on jokes and other satirical comments, there would be highly probable that Jeff Dunham will be indefinitely banned from traveling, as example, unless his “Achmed” character is not on the plane. How dare you transport such a joke with you, Mr. Dunham!

 

Growing up in a popular neighbourhood of Beirut and been raised by parents fond of daily human interaction exposed me to numerous gala dinners and lunch feasts, most of which were hosted in our humble house. My father was unquestionably convinced that “a small house can accommodate a thousand friend”, so our Sundays’ homemade banquets would be easily shared by tens of passing-by acquaintances. Most of all, I still recall the monthly dinner gatherings where my uncles, aunts and cousins would all be gathered under our roof for an unforgettable night. I had always preferred sitting on a mini stool placed in one of our living room’s corners and listen to the “male adults” exchanging dirty, yet funny, jokes tackling diverse topics. Residents of Homs (a city located in the Northern part of Syria), Arab Gulf countrymen, French, Russians, Americans, Africans and Lebanese were all criticised in one punchline after another. An hour after, you would hear them jesting about their own lifestyle or situations they had to experience.

 

Airports had been the target of masterminded attacks since the bombing of Edmonton Airport on 28 January 1965; an act of wanton terror executed by 36-year-old German immigrant, Harry Hubach, in denunciation against the war on Vietnam. In retrospect, hostilities against airplanes started as early as 10 October 1933 when a nitroglycerin bomb exploded on board a United Airlines Boeing 247 prop liner heading from Cleveland to Chicago. Certainly, assaults on airports and airplanes are not a joke but should not be treated as taboos either.

 

A member of a radical religious group will surely not be the type of person that lances jokes easily, especially in public places, and, in case he decided to do, the blague will definitely not be mocking his own ideology or doctrine. In parallel, persons that decide to partake in an act of terrorism are either brainwashed already or are already convinced that they have their own non-negotiable reasons to do so. Accordingly, such individuals do not tend to show reluctancy at the last moment and calmly announce that they do carry bombs somewhere in their luggage or handbags.

 

As a matter of fact, governments are mostly serving the objectives of the various terrorism groups - whomever such groups are - by giving a hand in emancipating a feeling of constant fear among the citizens by enforcing tighter security measures to the extent of banning jokes and opinions. On the other hand, the profiling system, which is implemented in considerable number of international airports nowadays, had long proved its inefficiency in addition to breeding further hatred towards the developed countries rather than containing and limiting from the spread of radical ideologies.

 

 


I got literally booby-trapped

Posted on April 26, 2014 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

The nuance between beauty and desire, between stability and adventurism, between "the right one" and the "glamorous other" had carved his life since teenage years. He grew up as an idealist but soon started to discover the grand disaccord between the "should" and the "pragmatic". After all, our vices and virtues are none but dresses that we tailor as per the moment and mood.

 

He had never reached a reconciliation with himself; they described him as obscure as the high tides under a moonless night although he had always considered himself as clear as the spring waterfalls. Calm as the stillest waters, he had always succeeded to reflect a stable character in his entourage despite the lunatic stamina caged within the backdoors of his mind.

 

Over ten years, he preferred to take a side-seat and contemplate the tremendous changes turning a whole world from the status of sanity into a fireball of contrasts and absurdity. He made exceptional efforts, on pretty rare occasions, and threw himself into the arena of active life. In every attempt, he would realise that the human race is spinning faster than ever and, consequently, would drop out into that side-seat for another long break.

 

Some would tell him that "passive life is not going to earn you anything", and he would respond, "my aim is not to lose anything". Some others would advise him to be part of the action, to create happenings and stamp remarkable moments, and he would sarcastically stare at their eyes while commenting, "such actions will sure not lead to remarkable moments! My friends, I have never oughted to change your world, so please do not change mine!". Despite his firm stances whenever approached by acquaintances and strangers alike, he was continuously aching for depriving his soul from freely embracing life one more time.

 

He had never stopped questioning why that side-seat is hosting only himself. "Surely, other brokenhearted, vagabonds, or unbelievers have planned their retirement from this lifecycle", he would constantly reiterate. "Where are they?".

 

As days drove by, and as hundreds additional scenes from life zap before his eyes, the rush to step in for another time became unbearable. This time, he was reluctant as he thought, "resilience and resistance are two components that we tend to lose gradually as we advance in age". It is true that misery likes company but euphony is well appreciated when someone is at the verge of abandoning a habit, which accommodated him for too long.

 

After exhaustive inner struggle between an extant vivacity and a sober precocity, he declared to none but himself, "I might be too old for that now, not to dismiss the possibility that this frenzy life may install some youth into my heart as well". Concurrently, he foresaw for himself one last return: either he becomes a life-monger or he would just cope with that side-seat forever.

 

In such situations of fragility and uncertainty, a couple of whiskey cups may help redress what's left of one's cracked personality. For such, he headed to the first bar his eyes could spot. After few minutes struggling with the stool, slipping back and forth, he managed to regain a balance that he had long lost. On the television, a news channel was broadcasting a documentary on the foundations of the radical movements in the Near East region. On his right and left sides were seated dispersed customers sipping their draughts before heading home. And, on that corner, there was a lady enjoying a dark spirit.

 

He ordered his first Scotch, swallow it in one shot, and ordered the second while squeezing his facial expressions until the aqua vitae warmed his stomach. With the second whisky in hand, he moved towards the lady leaving one empty seat between him and her. She approached her upper body a bit forward so that her half naked chest could join the bar-light. Apparently, her move was not as innocent as he prematurely thought. "A pair of melons as such could turn the hell of a life into paradise", he told himself. Avoiding to make her uncomfortable, he pushed his eyes away from the melons and back into that silver screen. "… a booby-trapped vehicle had exploded …", the documentary was stating when he unintentionally turned towards her and opened, "I am a radical activist and I am proud of it". She turned her eyes towards him and, with a fine-tuned voice, she replied, "excuse me …". While failing to hinder himself from sneaking back into those melons, his trembling voice goes, "well … I am boob-y trapped". With a laughter soon to be released, she whispered in his ear, "make sure you don't explode … we don't need a mess in here". She stood, tapped on his shoulder, and walked away with a laughter and, hopefully, a good memory.


The White Bear rising again from hibernation

Posted on March 15, 2014 at 3:20 AM Comments comments (0)


The recent unrests in Ukraine do not resemble the “Orange Revolution”, which brought Victor Yuchenko to power on 23 January, 2005. Indeed, the last anti-government protests, that conquered Kiev since early 2014 and resulted in bloody clashes with the anti-riot police, were alarming especially that they were triggered by Mr. Yuchenko’s rejection for accession of his country to the European Union (EU) after striking a deal with Moscow.

Aden, March 11 2014

Once in office, President Victor Yuchenko put aside the ideals of the Ukrainian youngsters’ revolt and manipulated a campaign of intimidation and arrests against his political adversaries. His quasi Soviet-style ruling imposed an irreparable social schism between those longing for the glories of “Mother Russia” in the eastern and southern part of the country and others longing for a Ukraine closer to the EU rather than been caught under the fist of Mr. Vladimir Putin.

The roots of the Ukrainian crisis were mostly reflected on 23 February, 2014, when Simferopol hosted a Euro-maiden rally in support of a new Ukrainian regime while Sevastopol called Moscow to rescue the Russian minorities residing it. Two days after, a sit-in next to the Crimean Parliament pled for a referendum on the independence of Crimea. Based on the Partition Treaty on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet, which was signed between Russia and Ukraine in 1997, and Sergey Askionov’s, the de facto Crimean Prime Minister, urge for a Muscovite intervention, the Federation Council granted Mr. Putin permission, on 1 March 2014, to deploy Russian military troops in Ukraine.

Such rapid evolvement of events in Ukraine reminded the U.S. Administration of the Cold War upheavals and portrayed nostalgia, in the lands of the tsars, to revive the ordeals of the Socialist Soviet era. Mr. Barack Obama, the U.S. President, did not overpass yet Russia’s successive vetoes at the U.N. Security Council over the crisis in Syria. On another note, the White House is still struggling to clean his slate vis-à-vis his allies in Europe and the region over Washington’s refrain from launching air strikes on military targets in “Al-Assad Land”, preferring to fall for another Russian diplomatic maneuver.

U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, have headed to the United Kingdom for bilateral talks in hope to de-buckle the escalating tension in Ukraine and Crimea. While the underlined meeting is considered the last channel to prevent the advent of a ravaging storm, William Hague, the U.K. Foreign Secretary, described the situation as a “formidably difficult task”.

The “White Bear” seemed to be back on track despite the dissatisfaction of many policymaking capitals in Europe and America. Mr. Vladimir Putin has so far managed to crush on any domestic threat from his political adversaries while concerting diplomatic and economic relationships with under-developed nations in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The acceptance of Tehran, under President Hassan Rouhani, to rejoin the negotiations-table over its nuclear file, Turkey’s palpitation over its internal political deadlocks, and the U.S. fiasco to fine-tune alliances with the new regimes in the Arab World, mostly in Egypt and Libya, are fomenting a new influential Russia presence on the regional geo-political map.

The seven wisdoms of the sea ...

Posted on February 8, 2014 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (0)


He has been stuck in an apartment tighter than his agonies since months now. One living room, an attached kitchenette, and a two-meter square corner, which perfectly fit his breathless body, framed his world. The only available window was blocked with thick dark curtains to insure complete detachment from the insane world outside. A fluorescent neon light was abandoned constantly lit to reflect the dullness of the moment. A small television set, with very few channels, constituted his only link with a life that has long left him behind.

His mind, puzzled by a syndrome of flashbacks, sensed as if entrapped in an arena of combustible memories, sparkling intermittent aches, blended with grins, soon to fade into dormancy allowing other past sceneries to reemerge. In fact, he had always mocked the human dilemma towards own failures: too many had advised others on how to face their own purgatories, yet too little succeeded to overpass their self-created emotional conformities. “We all need a dive into deep waters in order to embrace a moment of clarity”, had continuously rhymed onto his beleaguered unconscious.

On that day, he stomped towards the television set, threw his deceived body over the couch, and zapped the few unscrambled channels. His eyes dandled between a monsoons’ reportage on the silver screen and the many picture frames – some empty and others broken – ornamenting the wall behind. Although his personality had long rebuffed violence and denounced scourges, he did hide a shameful enjoyment whenever his eyes witness unfortunate happenings. “You only need to keep your eyes open, while underwater, to realize that you’re not the only one drowning” was his argumentation.

As minutes passed by, a transcendental breeze pulled his soul, gradually, towards another wave of unforgotten flashbacks. Her smile rocked his heartbeats like a splash of frenzied adrenaline. Her voice emancipated a chill that paralyzed his senses as if time turned still. The approaching resonance of the tap of her heels forced a smile on his lips but painted his face with an ultimate surrender. Her shadow whispered in his ears, “Mysterious as the tides, I will remain for you! As desired as a sunset … so true to be reached!” He jumped off his couch hoping to escape the overweight of this past reflection. He hurried to the fridge, grasped a bottle of cold water and spilled it over his face. He was so mesmerized to be able to explain his impulsive reaction.

As the water slapped his carved facial traits, he sensed as precipitating to catch again with the top of the sea. He remembered one of her uncompleted comments, “Still waters run deep! Stare beyond and muddy waters you will retrieve! Gaze at the ocean, how majestic and compassionate it appeals …”. Whilst the cold water continued dripping onto his face, crawling thereafter on his body, he deliberately murmured, “… yet, no creek can quench the ocean’s dark lonely nights”. She wished to share a life with him, afar from the complexities of high-end living standards or lavish adventures.

She praised the intimate moment, careless about all other relevant or extraneous details that may advert. She wanted him to speak, yell, cry and laugh; simply, she wished him as he was. He shared the same emotional carousel, but was fearing ordinariness. “If tempests do not blow rage into the sea, why would we bath in its waters!” was his endeavor. He did not realize that women and men had always perceived similar topics differently, even in those rare moments when they do both agree on the respective content.

On their last night before the fall, she stamped a kiss on his forehead and whispered, “It’s a long way to the sea …!”. He was laying next to her but his mind was farer then their hearts. Motionless, he replied, “Get a closer look and you’ll realize that the shore lies underneath your feet”. His words alone were not enough this time to make her stay.

Still in the kitchenette area, he stared at that small table right after the entrance door. The note she left before departing his temple of love was still lingering in its place, as if their last conversation occurred few hours ago. He slowly approached the paper note, opened it for the first time, and read, “Your shore was so humid that it eroded the last flickering flames in me”.

One last supper for Falcons, Pharaohs and Phoenicians

Posted on February 2, 2014 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)


The Arab World had witnessed an extravagant number of summits since the era of Ottoman domination. Some of those gatherings were stamped “historic”, others were noted as “encouraging”, while most of them ended up being “positive”. Yet, no senior conference or ratified accord succeeded so far to offer a comprehensive and permanent solution for one of the endless socio-political deadlocks. Is it the problem of the ruler or the ruled? Mostly, both kings and the commoners stood behind those sterile decisions …

Aden, 01 February 2014

Arab citizens have long believed that the foreign tutelage – Ottoman included - is the prime cause behind most of the Arab World inter-disputes. Indeed, Syria still consider Greater Lebanon as part of the ancient Damascus Lands, Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 1990 in order to annex it back to the Babylonian empire, calls are still echoing from Yemen decrying the vast lands confiscated by – or sold to – Saudi Arabia, and the Nile river remains a point of debate and diplomatic crisis among Northeastern African states. But, what would Arabs do in case Italians awoke from their economic delirium and called for the resuscitation of the Roman Empire?

In fact, no country as such was occupied by a foreign tutelage in nowadays’ Arab context. When the League of Nations adopted the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which was concluded between France and Britain on 16 May 1916, the mandate was enacted over ethno-sectarian and tribal conglomerations rather than Arab statehoods. Hitherto, the resistance – counter tutelage – movements, which sprouted thereafter, had to concert efforts and coordinate attacks on various fronts regardless of the geographic factor.

Indeed, the series of correspondences, which occurred between Sir Henry McMahon – British High Commissioner in Egypt, and Hussein Bin Ali – Sharif of Mecca, could be the best example to portray the Arab socio-political status during that era. The rapprochement between the Brits and the Arabs was muddled based on a two-way-favor: Arabs revolt against the Ottomans and Hussein Bin Ali will be announced “King” of the Arab lands, to the exception of parts of Syria. Although this promise was soon disclosed as trap, it sheds the light on boundary-less Arabs gathered as per their ethnic, tribal or sectarian common identity.

Siding the accords tackling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in specific, it remains remarkable that an interesting list of inter-Arab treaties and discussions were born dead and still were never revised. The Cairo Agreement of 1969 gathered Yasser Arafat and General Emile Boustani – Lebanese Army Commander, under the auspices of the Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser. The content of the tagged agreement was never made official but appeared to allow PLO to carry attacks on Israeli targets from Lebanese soil; a setup believed to be the prelude to the 1975-1989 Civil War in Lebanon.

Sequentially, the Lebanese Civil War ended with the ratification of Al-Taef Accord, hosted by Saudi Arabia and supervised by Syria. Although the accord itself encompassed numerous positive aspects, it was deemed impossible to materialize few weeks after. The assassination of Martyr Rene Mouawad – first Lebanese president after Al-Taef agreement – on 22 November 1989, the Syrian-Iranian consensus not to strip Hezbollah off its arsenal, and disrespecting the set deadline for the presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon constituted an alarming death-note but did not convince the Government of Lebanon to review the underlined document.

Arab citizens were appalled enough not to place high hopes on any Arab summit, be it exceptional in response to an abruptly emerging crisis or routinely, scheduled by the Arab League or the Gulf Cooperation Council.

After all, falcons fly high and ought for the sky, pharaohs are boxed within their superstitions and enigma, and Phoenicians care too much about their trades and tenures. Gather them around one negotiation table and you will end up watching a Chinese trailer with no suitable subtitles!

Adharoun Yatima (Orphaned Promises)

Posted on January 24, 2014 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (4)


 

 

إنهمرت عليك بأعذار يتيمة

مخارج نطق لامست مسمعك مرتعشة

طعنتني أنت برجولتي الشرقيّة

و يا لها من رجولة … تلك الشرقيّة

فاجأتني بكلمات ظننتها خفيّة

وقعها على نفسي دويّ قنبلة ذريّة

هرعت لكشفك حقيقتي بطرق سلميّة

دون اللجوء، ككل مرّة، الى أساليبك القتاليّة


 

عذرا لما قدّمت لك، على طبق فضّة، من صعاب

عذرا لأني أرديتك دون شفقة … في العذاب


 

أعذريني …

لا تستعجلي الحكم …

برصاص الفراق … اقتليني

أرديني جثّة هامدة …

دعيها ممدّدة بجنب خلخالك

علّقيها جوهرة نادرة حول عنقك

أنثريها مسكا و طيبا على رفّيك

ضعيها وسط النهدين و أضئيها …

أضئيها من همس القلب و رشفة الشعر

لكن … لا تبعديني عن إمارتك


 

صعبا كان قول الأجل …

عندما سألت من هذه الشوائب فعل

دميما كان قول حصل …

عندما سألت من في الخيانة عمل

… ما أنا من حبّك سوى زهرة من جبل

… ما أنا من حبّك سوى مشهدا من أمل

… ما أنا في سمائك سوى هلال ما اكتمل

أردت صونك … و انظري ما حصل

أردت أن أكون من قصّتك البطل


 

كم أتمنّى …

لو استطعنا التفاهم بصمت النظرات

بلا تموّجات و رجرجة الأصوات

فالعيون صادقة أكثر في الجدال

و القلب وحده يتحدّث الودّ من اللغات

فيا ليت الجدران ما سمعت …

و يا ليت عصافيرنا ما زقزقت …

صامتة اليوم … لكنّها ناطقة غدا

يا ليتك تدرين ما بحت لهم في وحدتي

لكنت عذرتني …

علمت ما يحمل الفؤاد من ندبات


 

أنا خائف من غدر البيدر …

أنا خائف من ثمل المنجل …


 

كيف سقط النخيل الى قعر حبّنا؟

متى فرغت من البركة جيوبنا؟

لمن أقدّمه ذبيحة هذا الإعتذار؟

ألأخطاء أقترفتها بحقّك …

أم لأضرار ورثها حقّي أنا؟

أين سأجد الإستقرار بعد فراقنا؟

أبين حطام حبّ في حضنك …

أم في نشوة هذيان أزهارنا؟


 

ما كانت غربتي سوى لغد مشرق لنا

جاء فصل شتاء دائم غيّب عن الربوع شمسنا

و ما كان الفراق سوى لمستقبل زاهر يجمعنا

جاء من عقد القران … جاء ليفرّق شملنا

ربّما كان عليّ التمسّك بك … بدل تغريبنا

لكن من كان قوت اليوم سيدفع لنا …

حسبت نفسي أقوى من إبليس في الهوى

تناسيت أنّي فتا طائشا أرعنا …


 

قولي "ما زلت أحبّك"

إقضي على هيجان الإعصار

أعطني إشارة … فأعلن

حربي على الجنّ و الأمطار

أكتبي … ثقافة عشق دوّني …

إجعلي من الإنتحار … إنتصار

حبّك … سيدتي … نواة جذوري

خوذتي … صمودي … و جهادي

بعدك ما عدت أهاب جيوشا و أمصارا

ما عدت أهاب ومض الوجدان … و بدر الأنوار


 

خذي بيدي …

لنرقص إيقاعا آخر …

ننسجه لحنا على الأوتار

و تلك الصفحة … أحرقيها

فما أنا ببارع للثورة على الأدوار

 


Lawrence of Arabia and the new Orient Express

Posted on January 22, 2014 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

The contemporary world was attracted to the fables of the Orient since the early colonisation movement if not before. Stories like "One Thousand and One Night" has nested in the minds of dreamers from diverse human races and has haunted or even poisoned their fantasies ever after. Sheikhdoms, harems, the rule of the desert rather than the jungle, and the conquerors' lustful adventures in historic Arabia remain grandiose taboos to comprehend. Amidst this mosaic of veiled sensuality and mystical tantra, the Orientals became gradually indulged in a totally different interest: the improvised explosive device.

 

Aden, 21 January 2014

 


Since their independence from foreign tutelage, the Arab states of the Orient, including Iraq, kept surviving one turbulent moment after another. Political assassinations, bloody turmoils, endless coups, tyrannic regimes and absurd civil wars had stamped the unwritten history of those nations and remain the dominant factor until nowadays. This vicious circle of hardships and bloodsheds had not only hampered civic development but framed social inter-dynamics and modified the personality of the Orient citizen forever. As a friend of mine once put it: "Cities like Damascus, Baghdad and Jerusalem were renowned for their public bathtubs - hamams - and red nights. Nowadays, they constitute perfect destinations for temporary marriages and Jihad sexual intercourse".

 

The sustainable smell of gunpowder in the air and the daily news broadcasts reporting deadly suicide bombings occurring in at least one major city in the Orient had brainwashed a whole generation and transpired careless mindsets, while devaluating the socio-moral approach towards the notion of death and, consequently, killing. In fact, this could be one of many reasons that turned the Orient, and subsequently the Arab and Islamic Worlds, into a fertile geographic zone for recruiting fresh suicide bombers and implant new radical Islamic cells. Such grim ruling environment could also foster a crescendo role-play for conservative and extreme religious ideologies to reshape the future of the whole Orient and Islamic regions.

 

On a social-focused scale, the rampant trend of weak to no government-presence in numerous areas within the Orient, which was a handicap earned from the Gilgamesh-style "War on Terror" in Iraq and the "Arab Spring" denouement, had limited, if not obliterated, the aspirations of the youngsters and had sterilised all possible chances of progress. The children of nowadays Syria and Iraq are unanimously attracted to fake weapons and AK47s rather than dolls and Lego artefacts. The literacy rate is in horrendous decline simultaneously with more families joining the "below poverty" line, while the middle social class is quasi eradicated due to increased migration of brains to a foreign developed country. Teenagers and young adults are more concerned about earning money than questioning the ethics behind the terms of the job, which had triggered a re-flourishing of trafficking and smuggling activities.

 

Even those few "well-off" families - not to be confused with the even fewer wealthy tycoons, who enjoy immunity and privileges from all warring parties - are mentally and psychologically affected although they are still struggling to preserve a respectful standard of living in their own countries within the Orient.

 

I recall that unplanned rencontre with a Syrian constructions' contractor at the gate of a plane heading to Beirut. The Lebanese capital was my final destination but the contractor had to catch up with another road trip until reaching his home in Homs. Spontaneously, I asked him if the citizens are coping well with the infightings in his hometown and he nodded positively while his eyes focusing on the ground tiles. He redressed himself and continued, "I am not sure we can call it an exemplary coping mechanism, but I am still taking my after-lunch nap on the rooftop of my house, disregarding the rocking sounds of mortars passing back and forth above my head!". As my face turned colourless, my new road-buddy noted, "This is an old habit I have inherited from my grandfather. Two months ago, my little son started joining me". Stupefied, I yelled, "And you would let him do so?". "My eyes have seen too much miseries to understand that no one dies before his due time" was the answer.

 


Renting a flat on the nth cloud ...

Posted on January 17, 2014 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)


He was a dreamer and aspirer, yet he lacked patience. His mind was self brainwashed by too many traits but none of them was his own. In his teenage years, he wished another belonging, surrounding and life stream. One day, as his boss was overwhelmed with the maintenance of an already dead fridge, he sneaked on top of a table and gazed up, through that dimmed window, towards a tiny cloud. He portrayed himself enrolled in an overseas reputed school with a limo driving him every morning amidst the envies of his schoolmates. "Get down and help me with that fridge God damn it!" his supervisor yelled. "This is where I am right now", he murmured while still looking at that cloud escaping, slowly, his eye contact.

 

During his early adulthood years, he flashed out of the flab of maintenance workshops into a job where stories never survive until the next sunrise and the limit of imagination is the sky. Every morning, he used to sip his coffee on the balcony while selecting a bunch of clouds to breed over them some tales useful for the night. He spread the news that one of his close relatives is currently modelling for the top-notch haute-couture designers, roaming worldwide pageants and stealing the hearts of Oscar nominees. "Even John Travolta could not resist her oriental charm" was his closure sentence. He faked his ancestral lineage, proclaimed having close ties with ruling authoritarian families, and bragged being their spoiled child, notwithstanding his inability to speak their accent. To ornament his tailored personality, he added a pinch of modesty and commendation. He cheered the self-contoured alleged hardships, when he was working day and night in order to pay for his tuition fees. Due to the fact that a life of hardships, free of tributes, is rather mundane than exceptional, he correlated the early austerities with international recognitions and awards for his job performance.

 

"If the Orion's belt is hallmarked by mankind for its three shining stars up in the sky, a quartet of nebulous achievements depicts insofar my life".

 

For some, family members are a grace whilst, for others, they do consist a burden. As he carried in renting one flat after another over different clouds, he realised that a thinner line stood between his reality and his propagated reverie kingdom. "My father is dead and my family members want to rip me off!" he cried. Human beings tend to turn silent when faced with mournings. The perplexity of death imposes on close and distant acquaintances alike to put aside discrepancies and animosities, freeze curious questions out of empathy, and offer blind emotional support. Sooner then thought, his entourage gradually noticed that the death of the father was a delusion, unless heaven had unsoundly opened its gates for ghosts to mingle among mankind.

 

The first cloud crashed the ground in complete silence just like a shooting star. "No problem", he convinced himself, "counter-arguments, muscle twirling, and denial will do the job".

 

Arbitrary power can get fearful people closer to the hector though human feelings can never be commanded by other than admiration. With the fallen of a cloud, another one needed to be seized in order to implant an nth rented flat and dream. He curled his thoughts with a twisted improvisation and lanced, "Cancerous malign is corroding my body from within and my life cycle was mercilessly shortened to six months!". It was a fit transition indeed from being the blamed into fomenting a fresh conformity among his circle of acquaintances.

 

His social manners turned violent, reckless and selfish. Business clients were approached with a tone of superiority like a lost king from the Baroque era, nights-out turned unfulfilled unless crowned by street fights and vows of threats inspired by 1930's mobsters' quotes, and conversations were tagged dull if were not meant to glorify his last adventures. Whilst old comrades started gradually departing his unstable fiefdom, new comers joined in dazzled by his unusual charismatic folly and decadent bogus vogue royal. In life, followers seek only a dress-code, which they will soon throw away once it turns outdated, but companions seek the shared moment and will only fade when no other than memories, good and bad, remain.

 

One time, as he was proceeding towards his daily morning ritual, stirring his instant-coffee and joining the clouds for new story tales, he realised that his sky turned absolutely blue. He contemplated longer, deeper and farer, yet no singly cloud was floating around. "This is no day for me", he bubbled, "better go back to sleep!". No clouds roamed the second consecutive day either, so he drowned into a state of hibernation and isolation again. On the fifth day, as he was checking up his dreams from the balcony, distressed and frustrated, he heard, "Your time of revelation just began. No more clouds to upheaval your seasons and rain won't obstruct your path with filthy muddy dumps".

 

With astonishment and enragement, he replied, "Clouds are my dreams and rain is my wealth! How do I survive in such deprivation?". The voice gently responded, "No worries … you can always rely on your comrades' clouds when its needed". Suddenly, the lunch-break argumentations with his first boss echoed back into his ears as if they occurred five minutes ago. "We were born to roam the land but never to grasp the clouds. We were born flesh and bones, and fleshless bones we will become. Your problem, my son, is that you talk too loud and too long with the clouds. It may sound esoteric and avant-garde at the beginning. You may surround people around you and attract similar-minded tycoons. Nevertheless, always bear in mind that even the dearest to your heart will, sooner or later, feel tired from staring up high and surrender. You won't realise this until the day you decide to stare straight and forget about the clouds. We can only hope that it won't be too late by that time!".


Heaven could not wait too long for Mohammad Chatah and Mohammad Al-Chaar

Posted on December 30, 2013 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (99)

image courtesy of beirutspring.com

Words of commiseration lose their meaning when scourges turn into a monthly - sometimes weekly - bread. Tears of sorrow dry when targeted killings cripple furthermore the aggressor yet fail to intimidate the breeze of revolution. In fact, death could rejuvenate hope, resuscitate purposefulness and perseverance, and provide the right momentum to attain the long-awaited change. After all, who said that death means defeat?

Beirut, 30 December 2013

 

On Friday, 27 December 2013, Mohammad Chatah and his mini convoy were en route towards Bayt Al-Wasat in Downtown Beirut to attend a meeting summoned by "14 March" camp to discuss one of the many deadlocks of Lebanese politics: the formation of a cabinet and the run-up for presidential elections. Meanwhile, a group of youngsters, including Mohammad Al-Shaar, were taking a walk down the streets of Beirut's commercial centre, stoping here and there for some photos. 

Few minutes later, a bomb fixed onto a golden CRV Honda went ablaze nearby the former minister of finance and advisor to Saad Hariri on international affairs' vehicle. The heavyweight explosion threw both Monammad Chatah and Mohammad Al-Shaar's bodies tens of meters away, re-embracing the ground with no sign of life. Martyr Chatah died immediately while the young martyr Al-Shaar slipped into a coma to surrender to death hours later.

Mohammad Chatah was titled the "Martyr of Moderation", a humble token given for a man of state of such a caliber. Yet, Mohammad Al-Chaar rose as the "Martyr of Martyrs". Since 1921, civilians have lost their lives due to this vicious circle of political assassinations. Their mistake was to be present in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This time, we will refrain from featuring another synthesis inspired by an nth uncivilised tragedy rocking the cradle of civilisations. Below is a list of those killed insofar on Lebanese soil for expressing their views with no constraints and for prioritising Lebanon over their own personal safety. Unfortunately, the many civilian martyrs, whose names were written in blood on that long unaccomplished path towards the true statehood, remain unrecorded.

 

06 August 1921, Fouad Jumblat, a Druze eminent figure and director of Chouf district, was assassinated by the Arslan family.


17 July 1951, Riyad Al-Solh, the first prime minister after the declaration of independent Lebanon, was gunned by members of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party at Marka Airport in Amman, Jordan.

13 October 1958, Waheed Al-Solh, a reputed politician at that time and close aid for Sami Al-Solh, was assassinated for still unclear motives.


06 March 1975, Maarouf Saad, the founder of the Popular Nasserite Organisation, was shot down by a sniper while participating in a demonstration carried by fishermen against Protien enterprise in Sidon.

16 March 1977, Kamal Jumblat, the renowned Druze leader and founder of the Progressive Socialist Party, was shot down as his car was passing nearby Baaklin. In 2006, his son, Walid Jumblat, claimed, during an interview broadcasted on LBC channel, being certain that the Syrian regime masterminded the tagged assassination.

13 June 1978, the Lebanese parliamentarian Antoine (a.k.a Tony) Frangieh was killed by a commandos unit, which infiltrated into his house in Zgharta.


04 March 1980, Salim Al-Lawzi was announced dead in captivity. The designated journalist and publisher was kidnapped two weeks earlier - 25 February - while driving through the Airport Road and was subject to severe torture.

On July 1980, Riad Taha, the president of the Lebanese Publishers Association, fell dead when unknown armed men opened fire at his car in Beirut.

27 April 1982, Sheikh Ahmad Assaf, a Sunni cleric, was assassinated in Beirut.

01 May 1982, Father Philipe Abu Suleiman was shot down by Syrian soldiers in Aley.

14 September 1982, Bachir Gemayel, the newly elected president, was found dead after an explosive device detonated at the Phalange headquarters in Achrafieh. Habib Al-Chartouni, a member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, was arrested at a later stage and indicted for the bombing.

16 February 1984, Sheikh Ragheb Harb, a Shiite cleric and leader of resistance against Israeli occupation in Lebanon, was killed in Jabal Amel after the Mosad had recruited Danny Abdallah to execute this operation. Danny Abdallah partook in the kidnapping of Sheikh Abd-al-Karim Obeid, Sheikh Ragheb's successor.

07 October 1986, Sheikh Sobhi Saleh, the head of the Islamic Shiite Higher Council, was shot dead in Beirut.

01 June 1987, Prime Minister Rashid Karami was on board a helicopter transporting him from Tripoli to Beirut when a sticky bomb detonated.

02 August 1987, Mohammad Choucair, the special advisor to former Lebanese president Amin Gemayel, was shot down inside his own house in West Beirut.

16 May 1989, the Grand Mufti of Lebanon and head of the Islamic Coalition, Sheikh Hassan Khaled, was assassinated when a 136 KG vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated next to his car in Beirut.

21 September 1989, the parliamentary Nazem Al-Qadri was gunned in his car in West Beirut.

22 November 1989, Rene Mouawad, the first Lebanese president after the Taif Accord, was assassinated via a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device that blew up as his convoy passed by Verdun area in Beirut.


21 October 1990, a commandos unit invaded the house of the head of the National Liberal Party, Dani Chamoun, in Baabda. Only his daughter, Tamara, and the maid managed to survive.

16 February 1992, Abbas Al-Mousawi, the co-founder and former secretary general of Hezbollah, was assassinated in South Lebanon when an Israeli Apache helicopter fired a missile targeting his vehicle.


24 January 2002, the parliamentarian and ex-Phalange / Lebanese Forces senior commander, Elie Hobeika, was targeted by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in Hazmiyyeh.

20 May 2002, Mohammad Jihad Ahmad Jibril, the son of Ahmad Jibril - founder of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine/General Command, was assassinated via a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device that blew in Mar Elias, Beirut.

20 May 2002, Ramzi Irani, a Lebanese Forces representative, was found dead in the rear of his vehicle after being kidnapped off Hamra Street in the capital Beirut.

01 October 2004, the Lebanese parliamentarian Marwan Hmadeh escaped an assassination attempt, via a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, in Beirut. Mr. Hmadeh's failed assassination attempt stamped the beginning of a series of political assassinations that seem never to end.

14 February 2005, the parliamentarian and former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, was passing nearby the Saint George in Beirut when a massive explosion took place generating horrendous damages in public and private properties and a big tally of casualties. His companion, parliament member Basil Flueihan, suffered severe burns which resulted in his death at a later stage.

02 June 2005, Samir Kassir, one of the most reputed Lebanese journalists, was killed by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device that detonated nearby his house in Achrafieh.

21 June 2005, Georges Hawi, the former secretary general of the Communist Party in Lebanon, was assassinated via a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in Beirut. Martyr Hawi once commented that the Lebanese people deserve all the inflicted hardships as long as they do not revolt against intimidation and oppression.

12 July 2005, Elias El-Murr, the Lebanese Minister of Defence at that time, escaped an assassination attempt when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device boomed as he was passing in Antelias. He was severely wounded.

15 September 2005, Ali Ramez Tohme, a journalist and president of Dar Al-Haitham for journalism, escaped a sticky-bomb attached to his vehicle in Mazboud area.

25 September 2005, May Chidiac, a well known journalist and television anchor, escaped an assassination attempt in Jounieh but lost her left leg and left arm. Mrs. Chidiac endured several surgical operations in Lebanon and France. On 03 February 2009, she announced her retirement from media circles but continued being active on socio-political levels.

12 December 2005, the head of Al-Nahar and parliamentarian Gibran Tueini was assassinated in a blast that targeted his vehicle at Mkalles. Martyr Tueini was in self exile in Paris after being informed that his name is on the top of a hit-list. He returned to Lebanon less than 24 hours prior to his extermination.

05 September 2006, Lieutenant Colonel Samir Chehadeh was killed via a remote-controlled bomb when his car was passing Rmeileh village, south of the capital Beirut. The martyred lieutenant colonel was among a team of officials investigating the murder of prime minister Rafik Hariri.

21 November 2006, the Lebanese minister of industry and Phalange Party leader, Pierre Gemayel, was driving a camouflaged Honda CRV vehicle when he was attacked at close range by gunmen bearing silenced automatic weapons in Jdeideh. This assassination was described as a brazen compared to previous vehicle-borne improvised explosive device's targeted killing methodology.

13 June 2007, the Lebanese parliamentarian Walid Eido and his son, Khaled, were assassinated via a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device nearby Al-Riyadi stadium in Beirut.

19 September 2007, the Lebanese parliamentarian and Phalange figure, Antoine Ghanem, was targeted via a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device nearby his residence in Horsh Tabet.

12 December 2007, Major General Francois El-Hajj, the second in command in the Lebanese army, was assassinated via 35 KG of TNT sticked to a BMW, which detonated as his convoy passed by Baabda area.

25 January 2008, Captain Wissam Eid, an investigative officer at the General Security Directorate following up on the recent assassinations, was assassinated via 75 KG of TNT, which detonated as his car passed by Hazmieh area.

12 February 2008, Imad Moughniyeh (a.k.a Hajj Radwan), a high profile member of Hezbollah and the party's military and security apparatus, was assassinated via a bomb sticked to his Mitsubishi Pajero in Damascus, Syria.

10 September 2008, Saleh Al-Aridi, the co-founder of the Lebanese Democratic Party, was assassinated via a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device parked next to his house in Baysour.

23 March 2009, Kamal Naji (a.k.a Kamal Medhat), the deputy representative of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, was assassinated via a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device at Kitaf Al-Musallah checkpoint in Mieh Mieh Camp, Sidon.


19 December 2012, Brigadier General Wissam Al-Hassan, the Lebanese senior Internal Security Forces and head of its intelligence information branch, was assassinated via a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device that detonated nearby a clandestine apartment he rented in Achrafieh.

27 December 2013, Mohamad Chatah, ex Minister of Finance and advisor to Saad Hariri on international affairs, was assassinated via a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device while on his way to attend a meeting at Bayt Al-Wasat in Downtown Beirut.



Rss_feed