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This section includes Opinion and editorial articles relating to Lebanon and the Middle East written by NALA and others.

    Trial by Fire: The Politics of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon


    Middle East Report N°100 2 Dec 2010

     

     

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    It is hard to see who can emerge victorious in Lebanon’s latest crisis. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) dealing with the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri soon will issue its first indictments.

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    Hezballah's Coalition Partner Meets President Obama


    On Monday, Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri will visit Washington for a meeting with President Obama. In announcing the meeting, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs called it "a symbol of the close and historic relationship between Lebanon and the United States." Indeed, between 2005 and 2009, bilateral ties were never closer or more consequential, with the Cedar Revolution ending nearly three decades of Syrian suzerainty in the country. Over the past year, however, Hariri has had to govern in coalition with Hizballah. The Iranian-Syrian backed Shiite militia will be the elephant in the Oval Office during Monday's meeting.
     

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    Missed Engagement by Congressman Gary Acherman


    Almost five years to the day after George W. Bush's administration withdrew America's ambassador to Syria in response to the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, President Barack Obama this February announced the appointment of Robert Ford as his envoy to Damascus. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a confirmation hearing for Ford, a respected former deputy chief of mission in Iraq, in March. On Friday, Senate Republicans blocked a motion to confirm Ford by unanimous consent.

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    Past, Present and Future


    We all take enormous pride in our glorious past. We go out of our way to talk about the accomplishments of our great ancestors, detailing their contributions to civilization, their innovations and ingenious inventions, etc.

    We also tend speak very highly of ourselves as a nation. Adamant in pointing out our magnificent attributes, which set us apart from those around us. Persistent in establishing beyond a shadow of a doubt our unique national identity.

    The proof for all we say was in seeing how Lebanon rose so quickly from its colonial post WWII ruins to a first class, ultra-modern society in less than two decades, greatly distinguishing us from all others.

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    The Truth About Lebanon


    Lebanese Americans realize that the tragic events in Lebanon have been confusing to everyone. Misinformation, bias reporting and narrow political interests have left most Americans at a loss as to the reality of the Lebanese Tragedy and whether they should even care. 

    The purpose of this pamphlet is to clarify the events surrounding Lebanon in digest form. It presents the facts pertaining to the major milestone events from 1943 to the current date.  

    One of the basic misconceptions surrounding Lebanon is that it is a French creation, which did not exist prior to 1920. The truth is that the Lebanese have one of the oldest continuous histories in the world, having existed in an independent or autonomous form for thousands of years, since the beginning of documented history. In fact Western Civilization had its roots in Lebanon long before the Greeks and Romans adopted it. Ever since and throughout the centuries the Lebanese have been constant contributors to Western Civilization and Culture.

     

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    Who are the Lebabese?


    Lebanese. What does it mean? Who are they? Where do they come from? What makes them a Nation? 

    Every Lebanese will staunchly assert with absolute certainty that the Lebanese are a unique identifiable nation. However, ask a Lebanese to specify that identity, and you would find yourself asking the "million dollar" question. 

    The answers vary from region to region, religion to religion, even person to person. Most will probably define the term Lebanese the way they tend to view themselves. Some, however, will attempt to be more objective, they will define the people around them. Not quit as objective as they would like to be, since they neither know all the Lebanese, nor can they truly be objective when dealing with such a subjective like defining themselves. 

    The definition of a Lebanese has become the closest thing to the "chicken and egg" debate. It has been debated for ever and a day, and continues to produce more questions than answers. 

    The most commonly debated issue is absolutely the Arab-Phoenician question. It has been the subject of intense debates, and often the cause of serious conflicts. But is that truly a valid question, and does it have an answer? NOT QUITE. 

    Why is it not a valid question?

     

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    To Be or Not To Be


    "To be or not to be," so eloquently stated by William Shakespeare, is precisely the existential question facing the Lebanese today.

    As Lebanon slips further down the road of political non-existence, we find ourselves pondering our future and wondering what will become of us. Will our national identity survive? Will our children and grand children be Lebanese? Or, will their identity be so distant from ours that they will not even comprehend our present dilemma?

    In pondering our national survival we find ourselves tackling a more fundamental tenet of life. Namely, what does it take for a nation to survive?

    As for all nations a distinctive cultural identity lies at the core of Lebanon. This melange of history, traditions, descendency and social character serves as the beating heart which sustains our national existence.

    Our national character is a result of a multitude of historical events and developments, which over the millennia shaped our national psych into what it is today. Our social characteristics, values and beliefs all derive directly from the experiences of our forefathers through the ages.

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    Hariri: Lebanon's Trojan Horse


    In ancient Troy, when repetitive military assaults failed to bring the city to submission, the invading armies faked a truce and made a peace offering...

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    The Lebanon Factor


    Within the historical context of the region, Lebanon had maintained a precarious balance between membership in the Arab league with a pro-Soviet polic...

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    Democracy, Freedom, Human Rights...


    We are all proud to be AMERICANS. We are proud, not because of the geographical location of our country. Not because we ethnically superior to others ...

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    Division or Unity


    In the past NALA has addressed the issue of the dual nature of Lebanon, cultural diversity, its relation to the present situation and Taif's effects o...

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    A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL


    It is always rewarding to know that one's work is bearing fruit. It is even more rewarding when the fruit of our labor may usher in  a new era fo...

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    Beyond Politics, The Consequences of Taif


    Beyond the obvious political facade of the Taif accord and its subsequent developments, which have been a subject of much debate, lies a more subtle, ...

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    Looking Forward


    ARTICLE PUB  : The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition: 1996‑05‑10 00:01

    With the Lebanese cease‑fire holding temporarily, the West has some breathing space to develop a better response to the next Arab‑Israeli flare‑up. The circus of seven foreign ministers‑from the U.S., Russia, France, the EU troika and Iran‑tripping over each other in Damascus reflected badly on all. The squabbling over who got to see Syrian President Hafez Assad next was unseemly. And after all that effort, the situation has returned to just about where it was three years ago. 

    None of the underlying problems were settled, making another eruption inevitable  Mr. Assad has learned how to get the West to reward him when he takes steps to relieve problems he helped create. Mr. Assad sponsors terrorists galore: 10 Palestinian groups that reject peace with Israel have offices in Damascus; the Kurdish PKK terrorists would never have been able to become a serious force in Turkey without his help; and he is godfather to the Hezbollah who operate out of  Lebanon.  When these Syrian‑protected groups seize hostages and Mr. Assad aids in their release, the West's reaction is to praise the dictator for his goodwill. The U.S. puts Syria on its list of terrorist sponsors, but sometimes waives the resulting export restrictions that allow Mr. Assad to import things such as U.S. armored vehicles and planes. Since he pays no price for his

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