View Full Version : The Struggle for Changing Lebanon

04-28-2017, 07:19 AM
I am a living in Lebanon, from a conservative Sunni-Muslim background. Moreover, my parents are relatively open towards unorthodox views; for instance, they reject the hijab. My mother and father come from a pro-Muslim brotherhood and Hamas back round, class-wise they come from a middle class bourgeoisie milieu, being Sunni-Muslim they find the sympathy towards sectarianism as represented by the tycoon neoliberal current Prime Minister Saad Al Hariri. A close cousin of mine belongs to body of religious scholars (هيئة العلماء المسلمين). In my late teens I left Islam to atheism, and started adopting more Liberal views.
Moreover, I saw how bosses exploit immigrant foreign and local workers, with a rising perpetrates by the ruling 1%. Incidentally the warlords of the Lebanese Civil War. By 1991 The Taif Agreement was signed which allocated regime quotas to corrupt politicians with the pro-Iranian militia Hezbollah to have full control of the military, and Pro-Saudi Al-Hariri in control of the economy and financial agencies. The rise of pro-Saudi Al Hariri dynasty had marked the theft of real-estates by the holding monopolistic Corporation Solidere. And an occupation of Lebanon by the Syrian Armed Forces which created a shadow government.
By the year 1996, the Qana massacre took place when Israel fired an artillery on a UN Compound Base with 106 killed leaving 116 injured. By the year 2000, Hezbollah were victorious over the Israeli Occupational Force & pro-Israeli South Lebanon Army a Lebanese Christian Far-right militia split from the Lebanese Armed Forces.
By 7 August 2001, a civil unrest took place in opposition to the Syrian Army takeover of Lebanon by many Christian students from the Phalange & Lebanese Forces, many of the students were arrested by the police and Lebanese Army, and were subject to torture by the Syrian Army Intelligence.
On 14 February 2005 the former prime minister Rafik Al Hariri was assassinated through explosives by the Syrian Army this sparked massive demonstrations where millions took to the streets calling for the exile of Syrian troops from Lebanese lands. However, on 8 March 2005, Hezbollah, Amal Movement, The Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party, some groups from the Lebanese Communist Party, and the Peoples Movement held a rally in support for the Syrian Occupation of Lebanon because it enhanced the resistance to Israel, known as 8 March Aliiance or Resistance Brigade. Michel Aoun currently the President of Lebanon and the leader of the Free Patriotic movement and former Lebanese Army Supreme commander during the Civil War who committed war crimes, has arrived from his asylum in France to Lebanon joined forces with the anti-Syrian occupation parties which are The Future Movement led by Rafik Al Hariris son Saad, Samir Geagea leader of the Lebanese Forces who was imprisoned by the Syrian Army and released due to his war crimes, the Phalange party led by Amine Gemayel, the progressive socialist party by Walid Jounmblat, The Muslim brotherhood, The Democratic Left , and some groups from the Lebanese Communist Party who held a massive demonstration on 14 March 2005 which is known as Cedar Revolution. By 26 April 2005 the Syrian troops have withdrawn from Lebanese lands. But still many 14 March politicians & activists have been assassinated by 8 March militias and Syrian intelligence including important figures such as Jebran Tueni CEO of Al Nahar Newspaper, notorious advocate of freedom of expression, and encouraged the Lebanese to think critically and be skeptical of Bashar Al Assad’s government. Samir Kassir the founder and leader of the Democratic Left movement, who knew the truth about the assassination of Rafik Al Harriri and other assassinations. George Hawi former secretary general of the Lebanese Communist Party, an outspoken critic of Bashar Al Assad’s government.
By 12 July 2006, Hezbollah has captured a few Israeli soldiers by crossing the Lebanese-Occupied Palestine Border, Israel has declared war on Lebanon, the Israeli Occupation Force bombarded us through airstrikes and naval ships. The War had 1.2 thousand Lebanese casualties mostly civilians versus 116 Israeli casualties half of them were Palestinians. The war also had a negative impact on the economy, Beirut had been plagued by electric blackouts by 3 hours daily, inflation has increased, when Lebanon was under Fouad Al Sanioura control a pro-Saudi and pro-western politician the head of Future Movement. Hezbollah called for a wave of demonstrations, a million took to the streets demanding to overthrow Sanioura, and urgent parliamentary elections through the 60s electoral law which is based upon majority of votes, which resulted in violent clashes at Lebanese Universities that caused a civil unrest throught Lebanon.
In 2007, Fatah Al-Islam an Al-Qaeda branch in Lebanon led by Chaker Al Absi an extremist Muslim Salafist Sunni terrorist organization invaded Naher Al Bared killing many innocent Palestinian refugees and police officers, fortunately the Lebanese Army was victorious.
By 7 May 2008 a civil unrest took place perpetuated by Hezbollah, Amal, and The SSNP. The Lebanese Army was not allowed to intervene, and unable to disarm Hezbollah and Amal as a result violent clashes took place between March 8 and 14 militias. This made Hezbollah take over Lebanon, but The Progressive Socialist Party allied themselves with Talal Arslan and Weam Wahab 8 March politicians because they are druze, they defeated Hezbollah and Amal defending Mount Lebanon, and was resolved by the Dauha Deal. Since then, the status of Lebanon economically and politically has become increasingly worse, with high unemployment, 6 hour electric blackouts in the summer, inflation, not enough pay.
In 2011 the left has emerged breaking from the Hezbollah line in response to the Arab spring which is known as The Civil Movement. It has gathered the most 40 thousand people and was slowly gaining momentum, but failed because of lack of unification and coordination. Their demands where to overthrow the sectarian regime, reform the laws and constitution, civil marriage, lower prices of necessary goods, better job opportunities and social justice. But because of the movement, the civil society slowly started voicing its opinions against corruption and basic human rights.
By January 2013 a couple by the name of Nidal Darwishe and Kholoud Sukkarieh decided to have their first civil marriage in Lebanon, they removed their sect, and made other couples get married civil, the civil society took to the streets demanding reform for civil marriage laws and legally recognize the children of the couple, however the Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Kabbani issued a fatwa denouncing Muslims who for civil marriage as apostates. By late May and early June 2013 parliamentarians representing corrupt sectarian politicians illegally extended their mandate, the civil movement took angrily to the streets, but the Police violently repressed the demonstrations. Again extended it in November 2014. Meanwhile by late June in Sidon clashes broke out between Hezbollah and radical Salafist Al-Qaeda associate Ahmad Al Assir fighting alongside Al-Nusra and Fatah Al Islam, Al Assir believes that the Sunnis must retaliate for Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian Civil War only increasing sectarian tensions between Sunnis & Shias, Al-Assir was accused of shooting at the Army, which had him fled the country but was arrested in August 2015, the clash resulted in 50 casualties most of them were militias and military personnel . Meanwhile, in 2014 the Union of Coordination Committee along with other syndicates led by teachers and prominent revolutionary activist Hanna Gharib currently The Secretary General of the Lebanese Communist Party had a strike because of very low minimum wage of $450/month, the teachers refused to correct the official exams, but the government responded by making all students pass and did not raise the wage for the teachers. As well as, a feminist organization known as KAFA (enough) had demonstrations to give women their basic rights.
By 17 July 2015, Lebanon's main Landfill was closed due to having over 5 times its capacity. The garbage crisis began, trash was everywhere, power cuts which were usually 3 hours daily have increased to 18 hours daily, with a very hot & humid summer heat 40 C or 100 F the stench got extremely unbearable. The civil movement got reactivated and a certain portion of its activists formed a campaign called "You Stink" which I have joined and their beliefs and goals are:
1. Resignation of the minister of environment, Mohammad Al Machnouk, a 14 March supporter and businessman.
2. Solve the garbage crisis immediately, by applying environmentally friendly techniques, through recycling.
3. Immediate elections through proportional law.
4. Holding all politicians accountable including Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah.

Time Line:
21 July around 7 to 20 angry people took to the streets, they threw trash bags at the Government HQ.
23 July 50 people again threw garbage on the HQ, and decided to form a campaign called YouStink in reference to a slogan which means that the politicians reek from their corruption.
25 July, more than 500 people took to the streets, they did a small tour around Downtown Beirut, the minister of environment responded to the protesters by having the company Sukleen clean the roads with special advanced instructions. But sukleen dumped the waste near poor neighbor hoods, gardens, rivers, and beaches.
28 July more than 300 people marched from Riad El Soloh Square to Hamra near ex-Prime Minister Fouad Al Sanioura Luxurious apartment. When the protesters were marching from Riad el Soloh to Hamra they have stumbled upon the minister of social affairs Rachid Derbas, he was attacked by the angry protesters, 4 activists were arrested, and have been accused of physical assault.
29-30 July protesters demanded, the release of the 4 activists, by 30 July 2 activists were released, they shared their experience with the general public how gruesome the prison guards treated them.
1 August the remaining activists were released from jail, and the movement decided to have a demonstration on the 8th of August.
8 August the movement has significantly grown where more than 5000 people attended, in support of the movement, and demanded a better standard of living which is not only the environmental problem, from water electricity, job opportunities, healthcare etc.
14 August YouStink activists did not have a protest, instead they put garbage bags near Machnouks home.
17 August the movement had a protest in Tripoli in collaboration with other campaigns NGOs and association centered in Tripoli.
19 August YouStink activists staged a sit-in attempting to enter the Government HQ by cutting the barricaded wires, the police responded by firing water cannons and beating the protesters several injuries and arrests happened, in response the YouStink activists called for a demonstration near the the Government HQ on 22 August.
22 August was deemed an outstanding revolutionary day with more than 30 thousand people. The demonstrators chanted "Al Shaab Yourid Isqat Al Nizam" slogan that was used in the Arab spring which translated "The People want to topple the regime" which is quite radical and a bit too extreme after a few moments the Police tried to kill the demonstrators by using enahnced water cannons, rubber bullets , tear gas, pepper spray, stun guns, live ammunition, and police patrol cars driving recklessly to overrun the citizens, jamming the telecommunication signal, I have provided first aid to injured protesters who have passed out from tear gas or wounded by rubber bullets. Many of us are leftists, liberals, communists, socialists, anarchists, and secularists including the majority without any ideology or political philosophy. The civil movement has gained momentum after severe police brutality.
23 August another demonstration was organized with more than 50 thousand people, about 200 youth from poor neighborhoods threw rocks, bottles filled with sand, and molotov cocktails were thrown at the police. The state deployed Counter-terrorism Police and the Lebanese Armed Forces declared martial law on the Downtown area, arresting anyone on all sights. Many activists and demonstrators accused these youths of being infiltrators and Nabih Berri's thugs.
25 August a campaign called We Want Accountability or “badna_nhaseb” in Arabic emerged they are leftists but pro-hezbollah with some Syrian Socialist Nationalist, Marxist-Leninist, and Arab Nationalist views pro-Iran leaning. I am not really a fan of them because they used violence and their support for Hezbollah. They called for a demonstration on that day, which had another episode of police brutality, provoked by Berri’s thugs.
29 August over 120 thousand people marched from the ministry of interior in response to the police brutality to Martyr's Square. "YouStink" promised the government a surprise.
1 September 3 days we stormed and occupied the ministry of environment in order for the Minister to resign, all of us were severely beaten by cops and were treated like terrorists. Meanwhile a small group decided to have a hunger in order for Machnouk to resign, only for them to fizzle out in a couple of weeks.
8 September badna_nhaseb staged a sit-in facing the Electrcite De Liban which is the government institution responsible for providing electricity. Badna_Nhaseb demanded that the civvies must have 24/7 electricity without any cuts and cheaper electric bills.
9 September, we had a massive peaceful demonstration despite the severe sand storm tens of thousands attended.
12 September the movement occupied Zaituna Bay and Dalieh Raouche in order to give them back to the public, knowing that Zaituna Bay has been privatized since the 90s by Al Safadi a neoliberal pro-Iranian politician, only pays less than 2$/meter, while business owners renting on the Zaituna are being ripped off by paying 3000$/meter to Al Safadi.
16 September, we and “badna_nhaseb” had a peaceful protest, we experienced a lot of police brutality and we were attacked by Nabih Berri’s thugs. Meanwhile an extremely rich business man Ncoula Al Chammas the head of the Business People’s Association extremely wealthy accused the activists of being communists and that they have tarnished the reputation of Downtown Beirut and closing businesses there.
19 September, the movement responded to Al Chammas by having an economic activity called Abou Rakhousa where people sell products and goods with very cheap prices, as well as responding to the expensive prices in Downtown a glass of orange juice costs 20$ there. And in order to combat Solidere’s occupation of Downtown Beirut.
20 September we had a peaceful march from Bourj Hammoud dumpsite to Al – Nejmeh square, we showed the police that we are peaceful by raising our hands in the air, and they let us enter the circumference of the parliament. Some protesters were attacked by the same thugs, but police took action.
8 October, was the last major protest, the police built a wall preventing us from entering the parliament, 2 activists climbed the wall but were arrested by the police, violence broke out and police sprayed us with powerful water cannons destroying the cameras of the journalists as well as the wall of the Le Grey hotel, some thugs throw stones and fireworks on the police, more than 75 peaceful protesters were left behind, we were accused of vandalism especially the Le Grey Hotel. The propaganda made the movement shrink, and public opinion became reluctant of us.
6 February 2016, the movement restarted from scratch, very few showed up which is around 100 people, fortunately badna_nhaseb exposed the plan of exiling the garbage abroad by showing the Judges that Shinok is a dummy corporation which was responsible for managing the garbage, and it’s ties to Israel, and no greenlight from Embassies.
12 March the movement showed the public that garbage was everywhere a few weeks before that day. Around 5 thousand people marched from Achrafieh to Riad El Soloh , we announced in the speech that we must have civil disobedience 2 days before. We were not prepared for strikes and civil disobedience. The ruling class decided to remove the waste by reopening the Naameh Landfill for 2 months, Bourj Hammoud and opening a new landfill near Costa Brava I personally nickname it Costa Mierda close to Beirut International Airport highly risking a bird strike.

By spring 2016 the Beirut Madinati (Beirut My City) was born, a city election campaign all of candidates were from the civil movement running against Laihat Al Baiarte (The Beirutis List) led by Saad Al Harriri allied with Michel Aoun, Hassan Nasrallah, and Nabih Berri. Beirut Madinati only won one district out of three, but lost in the rest because of illegal breaches and briberies perpetuated by the ruling class. Beirut Madinati had acquired 40% of the public vote.

30 July badna_nhaseb had a peaceful march from Barbir to Riad El Soloh demanding the proportionality electoral law.

22 August the movement celebrated their first anniversary by protesting, but was ruined by some clowns who are disowned by the movement.
In November 2016, the ruling elite privatized Beirut’s only public beach, the movement took to the streets with around 300 protesters.
15 March the Parliament decided to increase taxes from 10% to 11% and increase taxes on alcohol & tobacco by 500%, and 33% on bread. Mass demonstrations took place from 16 to 19 March as a response, with the number of protestors peaked to 30 thousand on March 19. The prime minister went to the protest but angry protesters threw plastic bottles on him.

I have participated heavily and tried to cooperate with “badna_nhaseb”. The civil movement has achieved by breaking the barrier of fear.
The movement has lost momentum, but we are working together to regain the momentum and change the system.
My political beliefs for Lebanon are:
v Applying parliamentary elections through proportionality law.
v Gender equality and equity.
v Disarm Hezbollah, Amal, and the Resistance Brigade, and the only force that should be armed and have advanced weapons are the military and the police.
v Implement secularism in Lebanon.
v Free market capitalism.

What I think what should be done is to cooperate with our Jurisdictional system, to have reactivate our Courts and free them from the tyranny of the ruling class.