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Lebanon; Pope; Hezbollah; and Protests

Living in Lebanon this last week has been a summation of those words; Pope, Hezboullah, and Protests. The protests are not confined to Lebanon, but they, and the general unnerving movement against America and Americans cannot be avoided.

Like everyone else surrounding me, I am closely watching the news and specifically seek out articles which are different and offering interesting insight into the current events unfolding and unraveling nowadays.

On the 30th anniversary of the Massacre of Sabra and Shatila a very interesting article entitled ‘A Preventable Massacre" was posted in The New York Times: (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/opinion/a-preventable-massacre.html?smid=fb-share&_rmoc.semityn.www). This article states the following: “[w]hile Israel’s role in the massacre has been closely examined, America’s actions have never been fully understood." 

In a State Department status report obtained Monday by the Associated Press it said that ”Diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut have started to destroy classified material as a security precaution amid anti-American protests in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa“. Further on in the same article it is noted that the US Embassy staff has "reviewed its emergency procedures and is beginning to destroy classified holdings.”. The article can be found at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hzOt1uWNXvjia4sFHqW3HKcrY1OA?docId=d88b18326da34a6181ea6b0128c73f3e).

This highlights the question posed in the article 'A Preventable Massacre’ published in the New York Times. What was and what is American’s role in the history of Lebanon? There are so many questions arising out of this act; why and what information are they destroying? Most importantly, what are they hiding and whom are they hiding it from? If I am curious to find out (and I am not off this land) then I can only multiply this feeling for natives.

I have no doubt that it is such acts that cause resentment from natives and locals who probably believe they have a right to access the information if it is related to their own country. Of course this is an overtly innocent claim to the information but nonetheless, I believe this very act of destroying the information is a prime example of all the small acts conducted by America which when combined with many other similarly small acts and taken as a whole have caused long seeded anger which we now see exploding all over the world.

Another interesting article was posted on Al Monitor, entitled 'Hezbollah Welcomes Pope in the Name of Coexistence’ (http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2012/09/pope-visit-to-lebanon-and-hezbollah-strategy.html). This piece offers an interesting view point. At one point the article says: “The attention that Hezbollah has given to the pope’s visit fits into a larger framework that reflects its commitment to protecting pluralism and diversity in this region that is facing a destroying unilateral logic. This logic at times manifests itself in US policy that seeks to impose its hegemony and will on the Arab world, and at other times reveals itself in takfiri ideology that denies the rights of others and tries to remove them from existence, simply because they have a different opinion or affiliation.”

One day after the Pope leaves, an event which saw Lebanon unite, Nasrallah (the leader of Hezbollah) called for fresh protests over the Anti-Islam film. It would seem that after decades of American involvement in the Middle East, (an involvement that was never quite welcomed or wanted,) that protests over this anti-Islam movie are an excuse to release built up frustration towards a culture (rather than an individual) that has for too long dictated foreign policy and international rules without sensitivity of difference or alternative.

The protests are world wide (over 20 countries at this stage) and are not just limited to the Middle East, a region which western media is always too eager to depict negatively or as uncontrollable “terrorist”. Therein lies the problem; the word 'control’. 

However, regardless of the source of unrest or dissatisfaction (America in this case) the resulting actions of the protests have taken things more than one step too far. The international media was focused on Nasrallah yesterday, a man powerful enough to immediately stop any protest with just one word, and a man also equally powerful enough to restart them again with one order, and he lived up to the attention by making a very rare public appearance with the protesters which numbered in the hundreds of thousands. However, his decision to make a public appearance on this occasion is very calculated for finally he can speak out openly against America, a country which he has long since despised but was never fully able to challenge. Unsurprisingly he is calling for continued protests as this is an opportunity he will not be willing to waste.

Further trouble in Indonesia, Pakistan and Afghanistan continues and no one believes this upsurge will end any time soon. My family have sent some worried messages over to me, as all my American friends living here have similarly received. But as per usual, life for me goes on as normal in Lebanon . We keep our heads down and hope that these current protests and sentiments calm down soon.