Monday, September 16, 2013

Lebanese political party relaunches war-time magazine

By Justin Salhani
BEIRUT, Lebanon – In a country where most media are controlled by the plethora of political parties, another Lebanese political entity has joined in with the re-launch of a magazine first published during the dark days of the Lebanese civil war.

“During the war, all Christian people [in Lebanon] used to look to Al-Massira to see what would happen in Christian areas,” said Amjad Iskandar, editor and chief of Al-Massira, the newly re-launched magazine of the Christian nationalist political party, the Lebanese Forces (LF).

The LF was initially formed during the Civil War as a Christian militia led by Bashir Gemayel. The militia was rebranded later as a political party under the guidance of Samir Geagea, a former officer under Gemayel, who was assassinated in 1982.

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Lebanon’s celebratory gunfire culture

By Justin Salhani
BEIRUT, Lebanon – Bayan Bibi was strolling through one of Beirut’s shopping districts last Saturday evening when an object fell from the sky and hit her in the back. The object was a bullet.

In Lebanon, and elsewhere in the Middle East, a gun fired in the air can be ubiquitous with weddings, funerals or when a popular politician delivers a rousing speech.

On Saturday, Amal leader Nabih Berri was delivering a speech on the 35th anniversary of party founder Imam Moussa al-Sadr’s disappearance. Gunfire could be heard emanating from the streets in close proximity to Amal’s green flag clad office by the Beirut seafront. The bullet that struck Bibi is likely to have come from someone celebrating Berri’s speech.

“When there is joy or sorrow people shoot their guns,” said Ali Moussa, 38, an Amal member, outside Amal’s Ain al-Mraisse office in Beirut. “It has a long history here and in the region.”

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Locals ponder possible Syria strike

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By Justin Salhani
BEIRUT, Lebanon – A possible U.S.-led air strike on Syria has caused debates in the Middle East where locals are likely to feel the backlash firsthand.
“I’m not with the U.S. strike because it will not be directed at the Syrian regime but at at unarmed people,” said Barae Kayali, a 25 year-old Syrian marketing supervisor working in Saudi Arabia.
Syria is surrounded by Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan and Israel to the south and Lebanon to the west. The country has grabbed international headlines since a peaceful uprising turned into a violent internal conflict lasting 30 months and taking the lives of over 100,000 Syrians.
With the exception of Israel, fighters for and against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have flowed across Syria’s borders to exacerbate a conflict that is becoming increasingly intricate and complex.
Both Assad’s army and the armed opposition have been accused of atrocious acts of violence. On August 21, chemical weapons were released on the Syrian town of Ghouta near Damascus, the capital. Although this was not the first time chemical weapons were used in the war, it was the largest and demanded the attention of the international community.
Despite denial from Assad and his allies that the Syrian regime was behind the attack, western intelligence has released reports accusing Assad. Obama said in the past that if Syria were to use chemical weapons it would mean a “red line” has been crossed and the United States would be forced to respond militarily.

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