The Lebanese Impasse

by Fawwaz Traboulsi , Elias Khoury
published in MER242

On November 11, 2006, the six Shi‘i ministers in the Lebanese government, affiliates of Hizballah and the Amal movement, left the cabinet in protest of their colleagues’ rejection of their demand for a government of “national unity.” Such a government would give the Shi‘i parties and their Christian ally, the Free Patriotic Movement of Gen. Michel Aoun, greater representation in the cabinet. The majority in the cabinet argued that Lebanese had elected their government, in the May–June 2005 parliamentary contests that came on the heels of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri and the departure of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

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Louder Than Bombs

by Lara Deeb
published in MER242

Political posters and banners are not new in Beirut. Activists have long hung portraits of party leaders or hastily spray-painted party symbols to claim territory, mark special events or simply insist on being recognized. At certain city intersections, these images are nearly always layered thickly, one literally covering up its competitor. Since the summer 2006 war, however, political imagery seems to have grown “louder.” Much of it bears the imprint, subtle or no, of transnational corporate advertising agencies.

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Deconstructing Hizballah and Its Suburb

by Mona Harb
published in MER242

During the Israeli war against Hizballah in the summer of 2006, the innocuous Arabic word dahiya, meaning simply “suburb,” achieved an unprecedented notoriety. For several days, Israeli warplanes pounded one particular dahiya, the southern suburb of Beirut, whose neighborhood of Harat Hurayk contains Hizballah’s “security quarter” (al-murabba‘ al-amni). Various media presented Harat Hurayk as a fortress, a place whose destruction was justified because it sheltered terrorists who threatened the security of Israel. About 265 residential buildings, housing more than 3,000 housing units and 1,600 stores and workshops, were razed to the ground or heavily damaged.

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Maasri, Off the Wall

by Sarah A. Rogers
published in MER252

Zeina Maasri, Off the Wall: Political Posters of the Lebanese Civil War (London: I. B. Tauris, 2009).

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How Lebanon Has Weathered the Storm

by Nisreen Salti , Aslı Bâli
published in MER252

One would imagine that, of all the countries in the Middle East, Lebanon would be among the hardest hit by the global financial crisis. Famous for its weak central state and ferociously capitalist private sector, Lebanon has the closest thing to a free market in the region. It has a dollar-based economy that is highly integrated into global markets and is heavily dependent on the remittances of expatriates in the rich countries where the crisis came first. And the origins of the downturn in high finance would seem to augur especially poorly for Lebanon: The banking and financial sectors are the cornerstone of the country’s economy, and the banking sector relies on foreign and non-resident depositors.

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