Showing posts from 2014

The Lebanese Army is Untouchable- Unless it is February 1984

The Lebanese Army is the national army of all Lebanese. Currently the army seems to be engaged in conflict with one segment of the population. In a country like Lebanon, with 18 confessional groups, using the army to confront groups that belong to one confessional group is fraught with dangers- especially when that group’s perceived adversaries enthusiastically support the use of force. The modern history of Lebanon shows that different groups have at times questioned the army’s actions. Prime Minister Saeb Salam one time demanded the resignation of the army commander and when it did not happen, he himself resigned.
 Below is a refresher course on the army, the use of force and confessional implications and consequences- an excerpt from Rosemary Sayigh’s Too many Enemies: The Palestinian Experience in Lebanon (1994):
The February 1984 uprising All through the autumn and winter the Lebanese Army continued intermittently to shell the southern suburbs from positions both east and west of t…

The Lebanese Sunni Community: Bombed into Communal Consciousness

Much of the literature on Lebanon has focused on the Christian and Shiite communities. There is not much written on the Sunni community.  Today much of the attention to the Sunni Lebanese community is within the context of the “threat” of the so-called Sunni Muslim fundamentalism. One of the few books to focus on the Sunni Lebanese, albeit the Beiruti Sunni Lebanese is Michael Johnson’s Class and Client in Beirut (1986). Johnson’s is a thorough study of the Beiruti Sunnis, their zaims and the clientelist system of a bygone era. Johnson had access to the Sunni zaims, in his book thanking the father of the current Prime Minister Tamam Salam, Saeb Salam.
An interesting observation/conclusion that Johnson makes as to the Lebanese Sunnis is the following excerpt:  “The Sunnis, by contrast, had not developed a communal consciousness comparable to that of the other major confessions. They had always tended to look to Arab nationalism for their political inspiration; and though this was sti…

Jordanians, Palestinians & the Hashemite Kingdom

Jordanians, Palestinians & the Hashemite Kingdom in the Middle East Peace Process by Adnan Abu-Odeh (1999) is an excellent book on Jordan. Such an important book should have been translated and made required reading in Jordan, at least at the university level. Abu-Odeh makes an honest and frank assessment of the state of Jordan. However, unfortunately, the book has been treated as a divisive book. The book resulted in Abu odeh been ostracized by the Jordanian establishment for shedding light on inconvenient truths.

Below are excerpts:

On Communal relations:
"A survey conducted in September 1994 by the Center for Strategic Studies of Jordan University indicated that strong affinities still exist between Palestinian-Jordanians and Transjordanians. Among a nationwide sample, 64.9% of Transjordanians and 72.3 percent of Palestinian-Jordanians believed that the interaction between the two communities had molded them into one people. Interestingly, while the division of opinion among …

AHRC Expresses Concern Regarding the State of Human Rights in Egypt:

AHRC Expresses concern regarding the state of Human Rights in Egypt: [Michigan, October 2, 2014]: The American Human Rights Council (AHRC) joins the US and international human rights groups expressing serious concerns regarding the state of human rights and the ongoing violations of basic rights for Egyptian citizens, visitors, journalists, NGOs, international human rights aid missions and groups compromising the basic foundation of democracy. In Egypt there is a pattern of ongoing violations of people's basic rights to live and function normally without fear, censorship, arrests, detentions and intimidation.
In a report published by Amnesty International on September 29, 2014, it noted, that   "According to official statistics, the Egyptian authorities continue to hold at least 16,000 detainees, in prisons and police stations since the ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi. Their conditions of detention frequently fall far short of international human rights standards and …

Imam Musa Sadr in the Good Spy by Kai Bird

In 1978 the Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi invited the Lebanese Muslim leader Musa Sadr to visit Libya. As the late Fouad Ajami put it, the imam vanished on that trip. There were many theories put forth on what has actually happened. The Libyans claimed that the imam and his companions left Libya for Italy. This turned out to be a blatant lie. The fact remains that the imam entered Libya and never left. The Libyan regime and its successor regime never presented a convincing explanation to provide closure.

The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames by Kai Bird provides another story of what happened to the imam. Kai presents the findings of the CIA via the Palestinian leader of Force 17 leader Abu Hasan Salameh.  The CIA did not seem to have questioned the story as conveyed by Salameh to the CIA’s Ames. Below are excerpts from Kai’s excellent book, pages 204-206, the subheadings are mine:
Ames seeks Salameh for information regarding Sadr
Two weeks after Musa Sadr’s disappearance, Ayat…

AHRC: Defending the Human Rights of Arab and Muslim Americans

There are a number Arab and Muslim community organizations. They do good work for the community. Some of these organizations provide services such as ACCESS, or defend civil rights and civil liberties such as ADC. There are still unmet needs, an example is the issue is the human rights of Muslim prisoners. Many people are confused about human rights and prisoners and their rights. To educate and advocate for prisoners, as well as defend human rights generally, a number of Arab American and Muslim American leaders formed AHRC, the American Human Rights Council (,

Human rights are inclusive of civil rights and liberties but of bigger scope. It is great to finally have an organization that advocates for human rights in general and focuses on the forgotten segment of the Arab and Muslim community, the prisoners. This is the information about AHRC from its webpage:
The American Human Rights Counci…

The Forum and Link of Michigan Honors Veteran Community Activist and Leader Imad Hamad

The Forum and Link of Michigan Honors Veteran Community Activist and Leader Imad Hamad The Legend of Imad Hamad: Decades of Service
Imad Hamad is a legend.  It is not possible to meet anyone who is active in the Arab- American community or is connected to the Arab- American community who does not know Imad Hamad, the former Michigan director of the American Arab anti- Discrimination Committee. For decades Imad Hamad was a fixture at events, conferences and in the media. Over the years he helped so many people that it is not possible to meet anyone in Dearborn who does not know of someone who was helped by Imad. He helped individuals in need, Arab- Americans suffering from discrimination, reporters working on stories, scholars writing books, etc. This is Imad Hamad the legend.
The Forum and Link Honors Imad
The Forum and Link is a Michigan community newspaper that is published by Dr. Asad Dandashli, a tireless man who considers journalism a sacred mission, in the secular sense of the sacre…

On Muslim Reformer Mohammed Ibn Abdel Wahhab “Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad”- I

On Muslim Reformer Mohammed Ibn Abdel Wahhab “Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad”- I Good Muslims, Bad Muslims
In the post 9/11 period there was an intense focus on Muslims and Islam itself. A simplistic approach to Islam in the context of the war on terror sought to classify/pigeonhole Muslims into good Muslims and bad Muslims. This was not new but a permutation of the attitude toward Islam that prevailed in the post- Ayatollah Khomeini revolution.  The new Iranian regime’s “students,” violating long- held norms of diplomatic dealings, stormed the American embassy and took embassy employees hostages. This was followed by attempts to export the revolution to the rest of the Middle East disturbing the stability of American allies in the Arab Gulf region. In the West there were important voices that divided Islam into good Islam and bad Islam. Shia Islam was seen as bad, the Shia were seen as having a “penchant for martyrdom.” The 9/11 attacks inverted that model- Sunni…

On Iraq: a Sectarian Dictator Falsely Claims a War Against Terror


Iraq is in the news again and not in a good way. The Al Anbar region, a Sunni majority area in Iraq, is again mired in violence. Al Anbar is a region that has seen a disproportionate amount of violence in the post 2003 invasion. There are a number of books written on the US military efforts in Al Anbar and how the US was able to win the confidence of the marginalized and victimized Iraqi Arab Sunni community in the post 2003 Iraq. The lesson of the American war in al Anbar is that it takes empathy, inclusion and strength to gain the trust of the clans of Al Anbar. Blunt force, humiliation and marginalization do not work.Today Maliki is trying to subjugate Anbar under the false claim of fighting al Qaeda.
In fact, al Qaeda has no better friend that al Maliki and his bigoted and sectarian policies.
Calling the fight in al Anbar a fight with al Qaeda is inaccurate and misleading now just as it was inaccurate and misleading when American soldiers were doing the fighting. PM Malik…