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The war in the Middle East has put Lebanon on the brink of economic disaster



The recent return of violence to Lebanon is undermining hopes that the worst of the crisis that has plagued the country for the past 4 years is now behind us.

After a spiral of hyperinflation, debt defaults and the collapse of public services, modest signs of economic recovery in one of thethe most serious crisis episodes (observed) around the world since the mid-Nineteenth century” was projected for 2024. However, this ray of optimism has faded as Lebanon risks being drawn into war with Israel.

January 2 Israel murdered senior Hamas political official Saleh al-Arouri in southern Beirut after every day Israeli shelling in southern Lebanon.

The conflict has already led to displacement over 75,000 residents in Lebanon, in addition to the death of one other 25 people. The conflict in Gaza also led to the cancellation ofover half of travel bookings to Lebanon“during the winter break. The tourism spending shock will quickly reverse the weak economic growth projected for 2023.

The mood in Lebanon over Christmas was one of deep concern about the prospect of conflict. Any spread of the conflict inside the country would result in further internal displacement and the stretching of state services beyond their breaking point.

Last conflict between Israel and Lebanon – in 2006 – it bore fruit estimated $6.75 billion (£5.3 billion) value of damage and lost income, in addition to hundreds of people killed or displaced from their homes.

A repeat of the 2006 war in Lebanon would cause a humanitarian catastrophe and worsen Lebanon’s already weakened economy. It is value noting that a brand new conflict would likely force hundreds of Lebanese residents to flee the country, exacerbating an already existing outward migration trend, which has not gone unnoticed by nearby Mediterranean countries.

An Israeli artillery unit fires at a goal in Lebanon from the Lebanese-Israeli border.
Atef Safadi/EPA

Prelude to war?

The Iran-backed Lebanese militant movement Hezbollah sees itself as: resistance to Israel. Hezbollah has estimates 130,000 rockets and missiles ready for any conflict with Israel.

But despite this antagonistic stance, the group’s secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, has remained restrained in his rhetoric, a hopeful sign that he’s attempting to avoid war.

Immediately after al-Arouri’s assassination in Beirut, Nasrallah discussed the possibility “liberate” the entire territory of Lebanon through talks and an end to Israel’s use of Lebanese airspace and land to launch attacks on Syria. There are precedents for such conversations. In 2022, U.S.-brokered negotiations between Lebanon and Israel established clear boundaries inside which each countries could probe for natural gas.

It appears that Nasrallah’s encrypted message was heard by the United States. On January 11, US senior energy adviser Amos Hochstein landed in Beirut to debate ways to cut back tensions between the two countries.

While these proposals could appear positive, Lebanese society is aware of the uncertainties ahead. Nasrallah walks a tightrope between keeping Lebanon out of a conflict it cannot afford and attempting to be sure that Hezbollah maintains its credibility as the “resistance” to Israel.

There is fear on the streets of Lebanon that that is an unattainable path to negotiation and that Hezbollah will eventually be stimulated to take further motion, resulting in an escalation of the conflict. He reports it Israel murdered two Hezbollah commanders in southern Lebanon on January 14 only increased pressure on Hezbollah to reply.

Why is Lebanon so fragile?

Several overlapping crises over the past decade have already led Lebanon to collapse. The civil war in neighboring Syria has been ongoing since 2011 an estimated 1.5 million refugees seek refuge in Lebanon. This country hosts the world’s largest number of refugees per capita and per square kilometer.

Lebanon can be struggling serious economic crisis since 2019, which worsened as a result of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result of this crisis, roughly 80% of Lebanese people now live in poverty and 36% below the extreme poverty line.

This crisis deepened in 2020 in consequence of: Explosion in the port of Beirut, in which 218 people died and part of the country’s capital was devastated. The explosion knocked half of Beirut’s healthcare facilities out of service, affected 56% of the city’s private businesses, and caused as much as $4.6 billion in property damage.

Debris surrounding the remains of a large building by the sea with skyscrapers in the background.
The Beirut port explosion damaged large parts of the Lebanese capital.
Ali Chehade/Shutterstock

Lebanon’s precarious situation is made worse by a corruption-ridden power-sharing government and dysfunctional institutions. Lebanon is ranked 150 out of 180 countries for corruption, the government didn’t adopt a budget for over ten years, and credible allegations vote buying and political interference in elections have been recorded.

Lebanese residents, who’ve borne the brunt of these crises, have directed their anger at the government. In October 2019, when the economic collapse began, an estimated 2 million people took to the streets demand the resignation of the government.

The survey results also indicate a rapidly declining level of trust in the government and state leaders. Only 8% of Lebanese residents say they’re very or quite trusted in the government.

This is way lower than in other Middle Eastern countries surveyed. In Iraq, where residents have the next lowest level of trust in their government, a much higher percentage (26%) say they’ve an awesome deal or quite rather a lot of trust in their government.

Ceasefire crucial

In light of Lebanon’s instability, the prospect of war between Israel and Lebanon should be avoided in any respect costs. An immediate ceasefire in Gaza is crucial.

Moreover, a possible framework for an agreement between Israel and Hezbollah is already available. UN Security Council Resolution 1701 states that Israel respects Lebanese sovereignty and requires the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force on the border.

Reliable International mediation and pressure are urgently needed to implement an agreement aimed toward averting a humanitarian catastrophe.

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Could the Israeli attack on the Iranian embassy in Damascus turn into a wider regional war? Questions and answers from experts




1. What prompted Israel to launch an attack on the Iranian embassy in Damascus? Are they not busy enough in Gaza without the prospect of opening one other front in the conflict?

For over a decade, Israel has been attacking the positions of Iran, a vital supporter of the Assad regime in the internal conflict in Syria. They periodically struck Iranian and Assad positions to disrupt the transfer of weapons and missiles to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an Islamist militant organization.

After entering the war with Hamas on October 7, Israel moved from ammunition attacks to targeted killings of senior Iranian officers. Iran’s top commander in Syria was Sayyed Razi Mousavi killed December 25 and other commanders – including the head of Iranian intelligence (Sadegh Omidzadeh) and the deputy intelligence chief (Hajj Gholam) – were killed in Damascus in subsequent attacks.

The assassination of General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, commander of the Quds Force overseeing Syria and Lebanon, and six other staff members on April 1 was due to this fact not without precedent. The location was characteristic: the first Israeli attack on the Iranian diplomatic complex.

2: Iran’s leaders are known for issuing blood-curdling statements – but are Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s threats aimed more at a domestic audience and geared toward strengthening his leadership in the region?

The threats from Khamenei, the Revolutionary Guard, and other Iranian officials represent a significant projection of their image of strength to audiences each at home and abroad, designed to cover up the reality of the regime’s weakness.

But rhetoric will not be motion. When Iran tried the latter in January, it was hit in the nose. Escalating attacks by Iranian-led militias in Syria and Iraq on bases with US personnel were stopped by retaliatory US airstrikes. And a missile display across the Pakistani border backfired as Pakistan fired its own salvo into southeastern Iran.

3. The US and Israel probably know all about this. How seriously do they take this threat? Are we receiving any suggestions from US or Israeli intelligence agencies?

Any threat from Iran have to be taken seriously, given the possibility of attacks via its army, proxies and allies. Both the US and Israel have long had contingency plans in place.

The difference in recent days has been the publicity of the threat posed by the US and Israeli governments. This is a display intended to pre-empt or deter the Iranian regime.

Tehran reinforced the need for this display when it miscalculated with a blatant lie. Iranian officials said the United States had asked them to not attack American personnel, suggesting Washington would relent if Israel was the goal. This has raised the stakes for the United States, including for President Joe Biden confirm “iron” support for Israel.

Joe Biden at the 2023 Vilnius NATO Summit in Lithuania.

4. Let’s assume Khamenei means what he says and Iran is planning something big. What options does Tehran have?

Iran has the possibility of a direct missile attack on Israel. However, this may inevitably result in Israeli and American attacks on Iranian territory – a trade in which Tehran would have the advantage.

Theoretically, Hezbollah could launch this attack in the air and on the ground on the Israeli-Lebanese border. However, the Lebanese group, having been fighting with the Israelis since October, doesn’t need to escalate the confrontation in which it could suffer serious damage.

Iran could return to encouraging militia attacks on Americans in Syria and Iraq. However, this may be dangerous given the U.S. readiness – already displayed in January – hit the militia hard. China could stop escalating attacks by Yemen’s Houthi insurgents on shipping in the Red Sea, which warned effects on its economy.

Tehran complied computer attacks in the past to entities in the US and Israel. While they’ve had some success, they’re unlikely to cause widespread disruption to U.S. and Israeli systems – each of which have cyberwarfare capabilities that they’ve used against Iran in the past.

5. What do you’re thinking that is the most definitely final result in the short to medium term if an attack on Israel fails?

Shortly after October 7, the Iranian regime assessed that its advantage over Israel lay in the political and diplomatic spheres. It could present itself, alongside Gaza civilians, as a victim of Israeli and US aggression.

These tactics have been stepped up since the attack on the Iranian consulate constructing on April 1. Being the supreme leader he said this week that Israel “must be punished and it will be,” his specific appeal was to Muslim countries to chop economic and political ties with Israelis. The Iranian state and semi-official media – contrary to headlines in Western media – recommend patience with Tehran’s response.

A brief-term Iranian military response retaliating against Tehran would likely undermine this political and diplomatic approach. So the long-term tactic is to try to construct Iran’s connections with other countries in the region and beyond, while attempting to disrupt Israel’s own connections. This would result in a victory in burying the “normalization” between Israel and Arab countries that has been a central element of the Biden administration’s Middle East strategy.

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How Iran responds to the attack in Damascus could determine the trajectory of the conflict in the Middle East




How did the attack in Damascus change calculus in Tehran?

The attack in Damascus – something the Israeli government has yet to publicly acknowledge – was a dramatic turn in history long shadow war between Israel and Iran.

For several many years noweach Iran and Israel have engaged in operations against one another in each the physical and virtual worlds.

These attacks took place cyber operationssupport from proxy forces, airstrikes and targeted killings which have taken a toll on each side.

The attack in Damascus, nonetheless, was particularly dramatic because killed two generals and five other officers In Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force. The Quds Force is Iran’s unconventional warfare wing that has supported Tehran’s proxies and regional partners with money, weapons and equipment for many years. Moreover, it took place in a diplomatic enclave against which Israel had not previously conducted operations, even in Damascus.

Iranians attend the funeral of seven members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps killed in a strike on April 1, 2024 in Syria.
Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images

In the history of the Quds Forceit has never lost so many officers in a single enemy-led operation. Even significant US attack on former head of the Quds Force Qassem Soleimani in January 2020, he didn’t kill other senior members of the organization.

Additionally, Mohammad Zahedi, one of the generals killed in the April 1 attack, was directly accountable for management relations with Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Syrian government and Shiite militias in that country, and Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza and the West Bank.

What have the US, Israel and Iran said about retaliatory attacks?

Immediately after the attack, Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, he publicly blamed Israel and vowed revenge. – said Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir“We believe that this aggression violated all diplomatic norms and international treaties. (Israeli Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu has completely lost his mental balance due to repeated failures in Gaza and failure to achieve his Zionist goals.”

From the Israeli point of view, although there was no official confirmation of the operation in Damascus, Israel Defense Forces spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that the constructing had hit it was not a diplomatic mission but a spot where Quds Force officials would meet with their partners in the region to speed up operations against Israel.

Many news web sites they report that unidentified U.S. officials consider a significant Iranian ballistic missile or drone attack on Israel is imminent.

If true, it could reflect the way Iran responded to the death of Qassem Soleimani in January 2020, firing ballistic missiles at U.S. forces stationed at al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq about two weeks later.

United States also identified that it could help Israel respond to any direct attack from Iran, although the details of that attack are unclear.

What is Iran’s philosophy on attacks on its interests?

In the context of the decades-long shadow war between Iran and Israel, which has not yet escalated into larger-scale hostilities, Iran’s philosophy thus far has been based on proportionate and balanced responses that try not to escalate the conflict.

While Khamenei he said on April 10 that “an evil regime has made a mistake and should and will be punished,” Iran will often wait days, weeks, and even years before searching for revenge.

Flames come out of the flags held by protesters.
Iranians burn Israeli and US flags during the funeral of IRGC Quds Force members.
Photo: Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A mixture of aspects appears to influence Tehran’s decision-making process. First, National security since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, it has been concentrated in the hands of the supreme leader, meaning that the ayatollah has the ultimate influence on Iran’s strategy and prospects.

Second, equally essential are operational considerations regarding access to possible targets and Iran’s ability to harm them – whether or not they are physical or virtual.

Third, there’s likely to be an evaluation of the consequences of a successful retaliatory attack – and the way it would impact Iran’s other essential considerations and interests. For example, does the supreme leader take into consideration the possible risks of any Iranian response compared to the advantages gained from Iran’s nuclear program, its ability to circumvent U.S.-led sanctions on its economy, or the domestic response if Israel conducted operations directly in Iran?

What possible attack options could Iran be in search of?

With this in mind, one option into account could be a possible Iranian ballistic missile attack on Israeli diplomatic facilities in the region. Indeed, Iran has already said so Israeli embassies “are no longer safe” after the strike in Damascus.

From Iran’s perspective, this may likely be seen as proportionate reasonably than an escalation of the ongoing conflict with Israel.

However, it’s difficult to assess what such an attack would seem like because it could have to be carried out in a dense urban environment anywhere in the region. In such circumstances, a ballistic missile strike could cause a wider range of harm and harm to civilians, potentially in a Muslim-majority country, which could trigger a response in Iran or create diplomatic problems between Iran and other countries in the region.

On the other hand, ballistic missile attacks on Israeli military targets directly inside Israel – similar to what Iran carried out in January 2020 in its attack on al-Asad Air Base in Iraq – could also be operationally feasible, but Israel views them as escalatory.

Tehran will avoid any retaliatory strikes that will trigger a major military response beyond that of Israel already aggressive attitude against the IRGC and the Quds Force.

In addition to ballistic missiles, Iran could turn to its partners and proxies in the region to attack Israel’s interests with conventional weapons or unconventionally with terrorist attacks.

While there’s an extended pattern of such Iran-backed terrorism against Israel each regionally and internationally, including the October 7 Hamas attack, the supreme leader and other Iranian security officials cannot select this route since it could be perceived as inappropriate. coming directly from Iran and fitting right into a proportionate and balanced framework.

If Iran responds, will it lead to a wider regional conflict?

That’s the $64,000 query. Security analysts, government officials and almost everyone else in the region are focused on a broader conflict that’s drawing in the U.S., Iran’s big regional rival, Saudi Arabia and other countries. what you were afraid of is the next step conflict.

The answer lies in the unknowns of the future, especially in Israel’s – and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s – response announced retaliation to any attack inside its borders – after which how Iran and other countries will respond to it.

Given so many variables, it’s difficult to say whether Iran’s response to the Damascus attack will restore deterrence in Tehran’s eyes or trigger a wider range of multilateral attacks that can further destabilize an already unstable region.

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How “white” fragility perpetuates anti-black racism in Arab societies




In recent years, controversy has erupted in the Arab world over the negative portrayal of black people. Arabic TV shows have often ridiculed Black people appear often with lighter-skinned actors black face.

The perpetuation of racism against black people in Arab societies has its roots in what a Bahraini cultural critic Nader Kadhem identifies because the dehumanization of black people. This includes traits that caricature their mental weakness, moral impotence, excessive sexual energy, stupidity and tendency to laziness.

This offensive depiction originates from medieval Arabic discourse, which was largely influenced by historical pre-Islamic conflicts between Abyssinians and Arabs, biblical narratives similar to Noah’s curse on Ham and his descendants, and Greco-Roman theories of medication, geography, and natural law.

During the Islamic conquests, this discourse was used as a tool to subjugate black people through the slave trade, which flourished for a lot of centuries and covered parts of Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. While Abbasid Caliphatethere was a notable event generally known as For him, insurrection in southern Iraq (869-883).

Black people rose up against widespread injustice and oppression, marking one in every of the biggest slave revolts in history. Subsequent eras, including periods of Ottoman and European colonization, further entrenched racism through the slave trade, perpetuated the assumption in black inferiority, and exposed black people in the Arab region to continued oppression and exploitation.

Unfortunately, the legacy of this oppression and racism has endured into modern times. One sec racist portrayals we faced one another growing criticism anti-Black racism has endured in recent years, sustained in part by a type of white fragility.

A movie about racism against black people in the Arab world.

White fragility in the Arab world

Influenced by the book by American creator Robin DiAngelo entitled my observations give attention to the intricate nature of this fragility and its impact on the dynamics of racial hierarchy in Arab societies.

As I explore this topic, I grapple with my very own position as a “white” or lighter Arab in the Arab world, and concurrently a “person of color” navigating the Canadian space and grappling with the complexities of accepting an idea recommend by a white American scholar.

The term “white fragility” refers back to the defensive reactions and discomfort that white people display when discussing race and racism.

This fragility hinders meaningful dialogue and perpetuates systems of oppression. Not all features of white fragility translate seamlessly into the trendy Arab cultural landscape, but its impact reverberates and sheds light on the multifaceted nature of anti-Black racism in the Arab world.

In the Arab context, white fragility reinforces and perpetuates racist views of black people, thereby perpetuating anti-black racism and maintaining existing power inequalities. As such, addressing the nuances of whiteness and the fragility related to it is important in addressing issues and dismantling racial hierarchies in Arab societies.

Examples of white fragility

Nader Kadhem’s Africanism examines the history of anti-blackness in the Arab world.
(McGill-Queen University Press)

When confronted with discussions about anti-Black racism, light-skinned individuals with privilege in Arab societies often exhibit displays of white fragility. These may include expressions of anger, refusal, avoidance, debate, withdrawal, or denial. Responses may include citing your individual anti-racist stances, associating racism with moral judgment, appealing to religion to make sure an inclusive and non-racist perspective, or appealing to nationalistic sentiments that transcend skin color.

These defensive responses illustrate the common responses of lighter-skinned Arabs when their racial privilege or involvement in systemic racism is questioned. Some reactions resemble those in DiAngelo’s book, while others are typical of Arab culture. Here are some examples:

“I treat everyone the same.”

“I do not see colours; I see people.

“I grew up in a home that values ​​justice and rejects racism.”

“Some of my closest friends are black and I have known them since childhood.”

“Talking about race only causes division.”

“In Islam there is no distinction between black and white. Bilal, one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, was Black.”

“We are all Iraqis; Race doesn’t matter.”

“We have more urgent problems to solve in our society than racism.”

“It’s not about race; it’s about a person’s skills and capabilities. Judge people by their actions, not their identity.”

“Racists are bad people and I am a good person.”

According to DiAngelo, such responses are shaped by problematic ideologies and beliefs similar to individualism, objectivity, color blindness, meritocracy, good/bad binary and moral judgment. This defensive posture contributes to the persistence of racial inequality by impeding constructive discourse and sabotaging attempts to confront systemic racism.

Exploring white Arab fragility

Cover of a book about white fragility
Robin DiAngelo’s white fragility.
(Random Penguin House)

Some responses invoke Islam’s overarching message of inclusivity to refute the presence of anti-Black racism in Arab societies.

Kadhem highlights the concept of “self-deception” or “social hypocrisy”, in which individuals with internalized racist views attempt to avoid responsibility by feigning tolerance and openness.

Recognizing the prevalence of anti-black racism in Arab societies could undermine this belief, resulting in discomfort and insecurity amongst “white” Arabs.

It can also be vital to openly acknowledge and challenge taboos surrounding interracial relationships. Claiming to have a black or other racist member of the family is yet one more manifestation of white fragility in DiAngelo’s American view. However, this practice is especially absent in Arab societies.

Marriages between black and white Arabs are less common in the Arab world, and even when there may be a black member in the family, there may be a reluctance to confess it. There can also be a bent to disregard the black history of Arab societies. Both of those tendencies assume whiteness is the norm and blackness is the opposite.

This situation is further reinforced by the nationalist agendas prevalent in Arab countries, which systematically obscure the varied composition of their societies.

By prioritizing national identities similar to Tunisian, Egyptian, Syrian and Iraqi, these policies foster a type of color blindness that effectively denies the historical realities of slavery and the complexities racism in Arab communities.

Engaging in uncomfortable discussions about race and racism can break down barriers and foster mutual understanding. White fragility is a robust mechanism for maintaining privilege. It perpetuates racial inequality by stopping meaningful dialogue about racism and hindering efforts to deal with systemic problems.

Arabs must work together to beat apathy and make efforts to actively take heed to and learn from racial inequalities in our societies. Only then can we address the systemic issues facing everyone and work in alliance with Black liberation movements.

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