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Here in egypt, tonight is the epic rematch of Algeria and Egypt. Anyone wearing green today is likely to be scolded during the day, and depending on the end of the game wearing green at night could actually threaten your safety.
The National continues to impress me with very interesting angles on recent events, such as Palestinian soccer sympathies. I’d check it out.
For those of you that enjoy it when political leaders do funny things, check out this clip of Saad Hariri struggling with Modern Standard Arabic. While this clip is a bit depressing for Lebanese, it’s very reassuring for those of us studying Arabic. Even if you don’t speak arabic, its pretty obvious he’s struggling.
Speaker of the House Nabih Berri asks Hariri “Do you want someone to finish it for you?”
I typically don’t come across too many articles about sex in the Middle East, but I did run across two in the past week that I thought were worth passing on.
Foreign Policy has an interesting piece on how Hezbollah utilizes Temporary Marriage as kind of patronage. The article makes it seem like this is a very common practice. While I don’t doubt that it’s practiced, I’m not sure how employed it is. Temporary Marriage is a very interesting topic that Professor Stearns covered in his Shi’ism Class, and I’m curious if using it as a political tool has any historical precedent.
A particularly interesting thought is that this has been to consolidate the entirety of Shi’a Lebanon as supporters of Hezbollah. The conventional wisdom on Hezbollah paints it a a very Shi’a organization, which I tend to disagree with. This story seems to compound that judgment. While temporary marriage is permitted religiously, it doesn’t seem to be used by particularly pious Shi’a, but instead for secular “resistance-focused” Lebanese. This begs the question: Is Hezbollah secularizing? Hassan Nasrallah has also focused on the use of drugs in recent speeches, which only leaves rock n’ roll to be tackled by the Sayyed.
This could be a signal that the party Leadership is thinking (very) long term, because the two largest looming questions in Lebanon are dismantling Sectarianism and the naturalization of Palestinians. A strictly religious appeal wouldn’t appeal to Sunni Muslims, let alone Christians or Druze, and Palestinians tend to be very adamantly integrated into the “culture of resistance” that Hezbollah has been attempting to foster. If either of these two possibilities open, a new constituency for Hezbollah would require a new campaign tactic.
Also, an article on prostitution in post-invasion Iraq in The National (which I would highly recommend reading regularly). The article pays special attention to societal differences between Saddam’s Iraq and today, and seems to question the practices of arranged marriage.
Der Spiegel has been publishing some pretty amazing articles on Syria his past year, thanks to equally amazing reporting by Erich Follath. This summer the German Newspaper featured a piece on Rafik Hariri’s assassination, and was brave enough to point a few fingers–most notably at Hezbollah. The piece made some major noise in Lebanon, and most Lebanese political leaders (Christian, Shia, Sunni and Druze) blamed a Zionist conspiracy to be behind an article that could only be composed of such falsehoods. When I told a Shia cab driver that I was interning with a newspaper he said “I hope its not the Spiegel, because otherwise we’d be taking a trip to the Dahiyeh”
I finally got around to reading Der Spiegel’s amazing chronology of the run-up to the Israeli bombing of the al-Kibar reactor this Summer. The article is almost out of Tom Clancy: hacked Syrian intelligence, defecting Iranian generals, North Korean arms dealers, and the Mossad proving that its one of , if not the the most capable intelligence agency in the world.
Today, after several months and ridiculous drama, Saad Hariri finally formed Lebanon’s second cabinet since the Syrian withdrawal and the “Cedar Revolution” in 2005. The 30-member cabinet consists of 15 seats for the Majority coalition, 10 for the opposition, and 5 who are appointed by the president to act as a buffer between the two.
In pure Lebanese fashion, the government almost collapsed moments after its inception, but the threats were only the theatrics familiar to Lebanese politics.
The Cabinet Breakdown: (via Qifa Nabki, a Lebanese politics blog)
- –Future (Sunni): 7
- –PSP (Druze): 3
- –Lebanese Forces (Christian):2
- –Kata’eb/Phalange (Christian) : 1
- –Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform (Christian): 5
- –Amal (Shi’a):3
- –Hezbollah (Shi’a):2
Foreign Policy released an article on Turkey this week following a warming up to Syria. This is a comes in the shadow of Turkish military exercises this October, from which the Israeli military’s invitation was rescinded. Captagay writes,
“A mountain is moving in Turkish foreign policy, and the foundation of Turkey’s 60-year-old military and political cooperation with the West may be eroding.”
If there’s any truth to this argument it would be a large shift that Obama would have to deal with–including the large plate he already has on the peace process.
I can’t get my hands on a working link, but Mustapha Barghouti was on The Daily Show tonight.
Its good to know that Professor Stearns Always has my back. Here is the link.
Also, according to Mondoweiss (a lefty Jewish blog), the heckler in the audience was the first the Daily Show has ever had. Adam Horowitz also has a personal account of viewing on the show, which is lengthy but there’s a some good reflection.
Even though the US and Israeli governments were able to convince the Palestinian Authority to bury the Goldstone Report in the hopes of keeping it quiet,the 500+ page report still continues to make a lot of noise. Abbas’s silence continues to hurt his credibility to the point that he’s getting shoes thrown at pictures of him–something traditionally reserved for Arab heroes like George W. Bush. Goldstone himself is not staying quiet, rebutting accusations that his report hurt the peace process, going as far to say that there is no peace process: “What peace process are they talking about? There isn’t one.”
But most interestingly is the recent reaction of the Israeli government. According to the JTA, Netanyahu instructed his government to look into proposing changes to the rules of war:
“In Lebanon, in Gaza and in other places, weapons are being piled up around us with the sole aim of firing them at the citizens of the State of Israel. I want to make it clear to everyone: No one will undermine our ability and right to defend our children, our citizens and our communities.”
If the point of the Goldstone report–or any UN Human Rights investigation in general–is encourage abiding by rules of war, its definitely working. But this is probably not in the way that Goldstone and the Human Rights Council imagined.
Photo: Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum, which took place following the Gaza war. Credit: Flikr/worldeconomicforum