Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Jim Quilty on "Lebanon’s Brush with Civil War": from MERO Online

It's been a long time since I've blogged. Here's the explanation: I was busy finishing up the semester, and getting ready to travel to Israel/Palestine. On May 11 I began a one-month teaching gig at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba/Bi'r Saba'. I'm affiliated with the MA Program in Middle East Studies (MAPMES). I can't promise I'll do a lot of blogging while here. So far it seems that teaching and trying to finish up papers has preoccupied me, but I'm going to try as of today to make more of an effort.

So, here's a link to Jim Quilty's very timely and informative piece on the recent events in Lebanon, published by Middle East Report Online. Here's a sample paragraph--but be sure to read the entire article:

Then there are the negative ramifications. Regardless of its militia’s discipline, and no matter how low the body count in the first two days, Hizballah’s sweep through West Beirut has done irreparable damage to its image among moderate supporters, particularly in the Sunni and Shi‘i communities. By the end of Lebanon’s civil war, the party had vowed never to wield its arms against other Lebanese, saying these were reserved for use against Israel. A good deal of public tolerance of Hizballah among those outside the party rested on trusting Nasrallah to keep that promise. Given the climate of sectarian fear that Lebanon’s political class has nurtured since 2005, the specter of firefights involving ski-masked militants, the very embodiment of “them,” was bound to conjure up horrific memories of the 15-year civil war, and with it the resentment of those Lebanese who never want to return to those days. True, the Hariri-owned media (like most Lebanese media) is a neo-feudal institution whose principles of disinterested journalism have badly lapsed since 2005, but silencing media voices (and worse, allowing SSNP partisans to vandalize and torch the premises) could not but confirm accusations that the opposition is authoritarian. For Lebanese Sunnis, it is not difficult to see these actions as an assault upon the memory of Saad’s assassinated father. The ensuing bitterness is unlikely to be assuaged by reminding them how many opposition media outlets Rafiq al-Hariri shut down when he was prime minister.

And just in case you missed these items published by MERO last month, check out Hilal Elver's very informative article about the latest in the headscarf controversy in Turkey, and the article by the ever-informative Joel Beinin on neoliberalism and working class struggles in Egypt.


Anonymous said...

what do you think of angry arab's commentary on the quilty piece, i wonder?

Ted Swedenburg said...

I'm on the editorial committee of Middle East Report, so as you might expect, I don't think that much of it. (For those interested, Angry Arab's post is here:
It's one thing to criticize the piece, it's another to say that it is representative of "editorial congruence with the Hariri Inc." MERIP has NEVER supported Hariri Inc.