30 Nov 2011

The STL and the 32 million dollar question: The Winners and the Losers

To fund or not to fund, that is the question. The uncertainty over paying Lebanon’s contributions to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has occupied politicians for the past few months and cast a shadow over Najib Mikati’s cabinet since its inception. After hinting at resignation last week, today Mikati announced that he had used funds from the Disaster Relief Commission, which is under the PM’s direct control, to pay Lebanon’s contributions to the STL. The announcement followed intense last minute efforts by the Speaker Nabih Berri to avert Mikati’s resignation and the collapse of the government.

25 Nov 2011

Egyptian Limbo - Discussion on Russia Today Crosstalk

Video of the Russia Today 'Crosstalk' discussion I participated in to discuss the renewed uprising in Egypt. 

18 Nov 2011

Lebanon’s Multicultural System: No Vacancy!

National myths can often mean little in practice. However, they represent a good way to interrogate the ideals that a nation holds and how consistently they inform its politics and policy. How can we for example reconcile Lebanon’s self-image as a shelter for persecuted minorities with the antagonism towards newcomers? How could we tolerate the rhetorical celebration of Lebanon’s diversity while the army and security forces wage a brutal campaign against migrant workers in Beirut?

14 Nov 2011

Migrants' Rights in Lebanon

In response to the recent wave of arbitrary detentions and forced evictions of migrant workers in the Bourj Hammoud, Nabaa and Dawra areas in Beirut, representatives of the migrant communities in Lebanon today held a press conference and issued a robust statement against the  campaign of harassment launched by the Lebanese security forces and army. This campaign followed a nasty report by MurrTV that blamed migrant workers for crimes and ‘moral degeneration’ in these areas and that may have provided the incentive for the security forces to compensate for their incompetence and failure to police these areas by unleashing this brutal and unjustified crackdown on immigrant workers.

10 Nov 2011

The Arab uprisings and the free market

One interesting aspect of the Arab uprisings is how widely they have been used by people of various ideological hues and flavours to promote their own political platforms. This is understandable, the uprisings have been ideology-free, unless you buy into the theory of a secret American-Islamist conspiracy. The uprisings served as vehicles for the production of narratives that fit with their authors’ political inclinations rather than a meaningful interpretation of their internal dynamics. So depending on whom you ask, the uprisings represent the birth of a global anti-capitalist movement, the triumph of secular-liberalism or the emergence of a non-violent moderate form of Islamism.

Video: Panel Debate Middle East ‘revolutions’: Hopes and Fears


Video of the panel debate I participated in with Dr Maha Azzam, Ghazi Gheblawi  and Dr George Lawson and chaired by Alex Hochuli at the Battle of Ideas 2011: 'Middle East 'revolutions': hopes and fears?'

The Independent has also published my accompanying article 'The paradox of the fragile revolutions'

7 Nov 2011

How 'The Simpsons' inspired the 'Arab Spring'

Following Julian Assange's claim last week that Wikileaks 'inspired people in the Arab world to think that they could stand up to their dictators', Amnesty International's annual report now also 'hails WikiLeaks and Guardian as Arab spring 'catalysts''. According to, er, The Guardian:

4 Nov 2011

Assange takes credit for the Arab Spring, again.

Julian Assange speaking two days ago at a debate at the Frontline Club:

'‘There is, perhaps something that is interesting that is said in relation to us [Wikileaks] and the Arab Spring. And it’s that courage is contagious. And that when we stood up to the Pentagon... and we said ‘go to hell’ that that inspired people in the Arab world to think that they could stand up to their dictators. Because when they had stood up to their dictators previously, the United States had intervened in one way or another. And it was certainly a weakness. And if we could stand up to that threat, then maybe they could as well...
Perhaps there are more interesting connections, perhaps when we release so much important information about global political elites, global financial leaks all at once that that was a shock and a destabilising shock to the system. We predicted it would destabilise the middle east. I don’t know precisely whether it does, but there
must be ripple effects."

 Someone should tell Assange how patronising and downright insulting that suggestion is.

2 Nov 2011

Online Regulation? No, Thanks, I like my freedom.

Following last week's news that the National Audiovisual Council in Lebanon is planning to ‘organise online media’ and speculation that this might include a requirement for blogs to be registered with the council, NOW Lebanon interviewed Abdel-Hadi Mahfouz the head of the council in an article published today. Mahfouz confirmed the council's proposals, including the requirement for registration: 

'Mahfouz told NOW Lebanon that both news websites and blogs should register, after which details would be hammered out on how the two should be regulated in the future (i.e., whether there should be a legal distinction between them). After registering, Mahfouz said online news sites should write a code of ethics to follow and contribute to drafting a new media law that would include them.'