15 December 2007

Last Chance

March 14 has discovered that Speaker Nabih Berri is unqualified for negotiations, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy is beginning to wonder whether he was wrong to have put faith in the Assad regime.

Friday ended with verbal warfare between Berri and Saad Hariri, and Sarkozy saying Monday is Lebanon's “last chance” to elect a president. And I think he threatened to cut off "those (who) would take the risk of killing off that chance". As if "those" care.

The day had begun with a funeral, and the news that Aoun is put in charge of “dialogue” with the parliament’s majority, which is the Assad regime’s way of plunging the country’s into vacuum. For it’s either Aoun’s folly, or Hizbullah's.

The sad thing is, all the talk of “action” by March 14 dissipated after the assassination. We are now left with useless statements and passive rejection.

If you’re wondering what the cat did with lone presidential candidate Suleiman’s tongue, join the club. We did hear him yesterday though, when he told slain Hajj’s family that there are hundreds like their son willing to fill in his shoes.

Suleiman’s improvised (and insensitive) speech is, of course, meaningless. The Lebanese army is not capable of even acknowledging the existence of the other enemy. Many like Hajj died in Nahr El Bared, and all they got from Suleiman was silence on the identity of their killers. Wasn’t it Hajj who sat there near Suleiman’s other generals covering up for the culprits?

Hajj’s assassination should have shown Suleiman the futility of pretending something didn’t exist. The big lie that he told about the Assad regime’s involvement in Nahr El Bared did not make the country safer, or bring him closer to the presidency.

Sadly, even March 14 did not see the end of the road they took. The other big lie they lived for over two years about Nabih Berri did not save the country or make it safer. For that same reason, their decision to back Suleiman was yet another exercise in delusion, and proof that, as Michael Young said, they lack imagination. Time has never been on their side, yet they let their opponents buy it all the time. Now that they’re out of it (time), I cannot but marvel at the continuation of their stupid decision to never take risks.-(bbeirut)

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.