To Clear the Minefield

by Karen Pfeifer
published in MER207

Irene Gendzier, Notes from the Minefield: United States Intervention in Lebanon and the Middle East, 1945-1958 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997).

With the February 1998 news that the Clinton administration was preparing unilateral military action against Iraq, sectors of the US public seemed shocked by this unnecessarily violent turn in foreign policy. Gendzier’s scholarly sleuthing uncovers important clues for solving this puzzle and, in company with other literature, prompts us to think about constructive alternatives.

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Hizballah in the Sights

by Lara Deeb
published in MER258

Thanassis Cambanis, A Privilege to Die: Inside Hezbollah’s Legions and Their Endless War Against Israel (Free Press, 2010).

Beirut Dispatch

by K. S.
published in MER209

Two things one hears daily in Lebanon: The government is more corrupt than ever, and relations between people are becoming harsh. Let’s consider whether any correlation exists between government neglect and widespread individual survivalism. And let’s focus on highway transportation, where public policy and private use overlap.

If you offer to take a friend and her four children to the airport, you must drive because no one has rebuilt the country’s pre-war train system. Uncharitable tongues claim that the costly new highway system serves foreign construction interests and upper-class Lebanese at the expense of the wider public.

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Two Faces of Janus

Post-War Lebanon and Its Reconstruction

by Michael Young
published in MER209

Eight years after the end of the war in Lebanon, the discrepancy between free minds and free markets is growing ever sharper. Since 1992, Lebanon’s billionaire prime minister, Rafiq al-Hariri, has been the individual most responsible for outlining an economic program for the post-war era. The prime minister has not hidden his admiration for laissez faire principles. In contemporary Lebanon, however, the free market is a most uncertain quantity.

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Lebanon Against Itself (Again)

by Marc J. Sirois | published February 4, 2011

The year 2011 has brought Lebanon’s political tug of war into the streets again, with thousands of protesters burning tires and blocking roads over the apparent failure of their candidate to secure the office of prime minister. But months of hype to the contrary, this time the raucous demonstrations were not staged by Hizballah and its allies in the March 8 coalition so named after a day of protests in 2005 designed to “thank” Syria before its withdrawal of forces from Lebanon. Instead, the protests were mounted by the rival March 14 alliance, so named for the day of “Syria out!” rallies that followed less than a week later.

A Modern-Day "Slave Trade"

Sri Lankan Workers in Lebanon

by Reem Haddad
published in MER211

In what can be termed a modern-day slave trade, Sri Lankan women arrive in Lebanon only to find themselves abused, imprisoned, raped, hungry, defenseless and alone. Siriani P., 27, came to Beirut in a desperate attempt to save her family from a life of poverty. Just ten months later, however, she grabbed the first opportunity to run away from her employers.

Liberating Arnoun

Hassan Marwany

by Marlin Dick
published in MER211

This interview with student activist Hassan Marwany was conducted, transcribed and translated by Marlin Dick of The Daily Star in May 1999.

The initial spark for the liberation of Arnoun was a candlelight vigil and march from St. Joseph’s University to UN House in central Beirut, organized by the Tanios Shahin group at the university. About 250 people participated; they were later joined at UN House by students from the American University of Beirut, Notre Dame University and the Lebanese University. There, we heard the Federation of Democratic Students’ (FDS) invitation to go to Arnoun on Friday. [1] At first, the idea was simply to protest Israel’s occupation of Arnoun, not to liberate the village.

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Rosen, Aftermath

by Chris Toensing
published in MER257

Nir Rosen, Aftermath (Nation Books, 2010).

In addition to numberless tales of human misery, the post-September 11 US wars in the greater Middle East have produced a veritable library of war reporter’s books. Most of them are formulaic and eminently forgettable, but a few are valuable chronicles that considerably improve the state of knowledge about the traumatic ruptures that war has wrought in the societies caught in the crossfire. Nir Rosen’s Aftermath falls in the latter category.

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The Long, Steep Fall of the Lebanon Tribunal

by Heiko Wimmen | published December 1, 2010

After five long years, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is expected to hand down its indictments at long last. By the end of 2010, or perhaps the beginning of 2011, the Tribunal will accuse a number of individuals of direct involvement in the murders of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri and several other prominent Lebanese political figures between 2005 and 2008. Officially, the investigators keep mum about the identity of their targets. Unofficially, a steady stream of “insider information” has converged into a kind of received wisdom: High-ranking members of the Shi‘i Islamist party Hizballah will be indicted for association with the engineering of the assassinations. The various actors in Lebanon now treat the “leaks” that formed this received wisdom as a set of established facts.

Hizballah's Domestic Growing Pains

by Marlin Dick | published September 13, 2010

The term dahiya (suburb) is a staple of Lebanese political discourse, practically shorthand for Hizballah, the Shi‘i Islamist party seated in its infamous headquarters just south of Beirut. Before the civil war, the suburb, or more precisely suburbs, consisted of several small towns surrounded by orchards that began where the capital ended. Today, it is a heavily congested urban sprawl replete with higher-income neighborhoods, such as Jinah, where international chains such as Burger King, BHV, Monoprix, Spinneys and the Marriott have opened since the end of the civil war in 1990. Administratively, the dahiya lies in a half-dozen municipalities, and only one of these, Harat Hurayk, home to Hizballah’s party offices, is usually the “dahiya” that politicians and pundits have in mind.