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To Make Sense of Lebanon’s Protests, Follow the Garbage (NY Times Article Posted December 3, 2019)

Dynamis

Well-Known Member
Orange Room Supporter
A great article that I encourage all to read. This was written in the New York Times, a mostly objective news source.

Lets discuss.
1. What are your observations?
2. Is this article objective?

3. What should be done by the Judiciary and Thawra about the following?
a. It seems the article is pointing directly to the Council of Development and Reconstruction as being a den of Thieves...The CDR is a Hariri mazr3a. Should the Judiciary and Thawra focus on the CDR?
b. There were accusation of Jihad Al Arab embezzling Tax Payers
c. There were accusations of wrong doing potentially in the Eden Bay grant to Nabih Berri Son in Law...
d. There were accusations to Dany Khoury of dumping into the sea
e. There was a mention of Jibran Basil, but the article said that there was no proof of wrong doing
f. Confirmed that Jumblat owns Cogico, despite his many denials. What is his role in jacking up the prices?
g. Any others I missed?
__________
To Make Sense of Lebanon’s Protests, Follow the Garbage

The country’s perpetual refuse crisis is just one example of the government corruption and dysfunction that have brought protesters into the streets.
By Vivian Yee and Hwaida Saad
BEIRUT, Lebanon — In Lebanon, its people like to boast, you can take in pristine mountain villages and swim in the shimmering sea all in one day.
But the country’s blond-sand beaches are now scarred with plastic bottles and its mountain streams befouled by open dumps. The Mediterranean gurgles with toxic runoff from rotting garbage. A seemingly unstoppable proliferation of trash has marred Lebanon’s water, seafood and public health.

The government’s inability to provide basic services, including 24-hour electricity and garbage collection, is rooted in an agreement that ended Lebanon’s civil war nearly 30 years ago. The deal divided power between the nation’s 18 recognized religious sects, effectively institutionalizing corruption, with each group able to dole out government jobs, contracts, favors and social services to its followers.

The Lebanese have finally had enough of a system that has enriched the political elite while failing to build a stable economy or provide basics like reliable running water or consistent waste management.

Over the last six weeks, hundreds of thousands of protesters have massed in the streets, chanting “Give back the looted money!”
They have already forced out the prime minister, but their goals are broader: They are demanding an end to corruption and mismanagement, as well as the crony sectarianism that enables it.

The perpetual garbage crisis is only the most pungent example. It last exploded into public view in 2015, when the country’s political elite squabbled over a lucrative waste-management contract as mountains of uncollected trash fouled the streets of Beirut. A wave of protests ensued.

The stopgap solution was to build two new landfills. Three years after they opened, the landfills have only relocated the garbage crisis to the coast, and they are fast threatening to hit capacity.

The $288 million contract for one landfill went to Jihad al-Arab, the brother of an aide to the recently ousted prime minister, Saad Hariri, a Sunni Muslim. According to three people familiar with the company’s operations, it is adding water to the garbage containers that arrive each day to inflate their billable weight.
The other contract, worth $142 million, went to Dany Khoury, a Christian businessman said to be close to the family of President Michel Aoun, Lebanon’s top Christian leader. At this landfill, experts found, employees dumped trash and toxic waste directly into the Mediterranean.

Both companies deny the accusations, but one thing is certain: At least $430 million later, Lebanon’s garbage issues are little closer to resolution.
“Garbage,” said Paula Yacoubian, an independent member of Parliament who has repeatedly questioned how public money has been spent on electricity and infrastructure projects, “is like a gold mine for the political caste.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/08/...lback=false&imp_id=792961426&imp_id=235683283
The issue is not limited to garbage — nor to a few politicians.
When a controversial resort called Eden Bay swallowed part of Beirut’s last public beach last year, many Lebanese were not surprised to learn that the developer was a former son-in-law of Nabih Berri, the speaker of Parliament and the top Shiite in government.

A major reason that Lebanon does not produce enough electricity for its four million people, experts say, is the powerful lobby of generator owners, whose machines provide power during daily blackouts, as well as the $1.2 billion-a-year diesel industry that fuels them. One of the major fuel importers, Cogico, is owned by Walid Jumblatt, the leader of the Druze minority.

When Gebran Bassil, the son-in-law of President Aoun, pushed to buy extra electricity from Turkish power barges a
nchored just offshore, some officials asked why the government was spending hundreds of millions of dollars to rent the barges instead of building its own plants. Some politicians said that a government official had received millions of dollars in kickbacks, but they did not publicly identify the person and nothing was ever proved.

Five years later, the energy minister, a former adviser to Mr. Bassil, proposed paying the same Turkish company $1.9 billion for more power, in a bidding process the government’s own procurement department criticized as biased.

“It’s a pity to have such leaders,” said Abdo Farah, a fisherman who has trawled the waters around Beirut for 34 years, pushing farther out in search of clean fish as sewage, industrial runoff and garbage soiled the coast unchecked. “We’re living in a trash can.”

Much of the sectarian deal-making takes place at the Council for Development and Reconstruction, the opaque government agency that awards contracts for most of Lebanon’s major infrastructure projects.

The contracts are usually paid for with the billions Lebanon has received in aid from the World Bank, European countries and other international donors for postwar reconstruction and development.

The council’s procurement rules are “notoriously lax,” the United States Embassy in Beirut reported in a February 2009 State Department cable published by WikiLeaks. The Lebanon manager for the World Bank at the time, Demba Ba, told American diplomats that he was “constantly fighting C.D.R.’s declarations that it ‘already has a contractor’ for projects,” the cable said, “usually someone either associated with the P.M. or whom the P.M. needs to compensate for a political or financial favor.”

The council has been run for years by Nabil el-Jisr, a longtime former employee and ally of the Hariri family. But its board also includes a Christian, a Druze and a Shiite who happens to be a brother of Mr. Berri, the Parliament speaker.

Hospitals, roads, schools and other projects are distributed to favored contractors according to sectarian quotas that ensure every group benefits, regardless of necessity, said Jad Chaaban, an economist at the American University of Beirut who has analyzed the council’s spending.
“They’ll tell you, ‘Well, we had to balance it in a sectarian way because we can’t only build schools in mostly Sunni areas, we also have to do Christian areas,’” he said. “They hide behind sectarianism to fund their patronage networks and their cronies.”

Sectarian connections determine not only government contracts but access to coveted government jobs, schools, bureaucratic favors and, occasionally, social services. A system meant to foster peaceful coexistence has only reinforced sectarian divisions, making most Lebanese dependent on the good graces of their sects’ leaders — and each sect more determined to fight for every government dollar and favor.

So it was no surprise when, in 2016, the Council for Development and Reconstruction turned to Mr. Khoury, the Christian businessman linked to Mr. Aoun, and to Mr. al-Arab, the Sunni Muslim contractor linked to Mr. Hariri, to help solve Lebanon’s garbage emergency.
Mr. Khoury took over an old landfill at Bourj Hammoud, north of Beirut, with plans to expand it into the sea.

Najat Saliba, a chemist at the American University of Beirut who inspected the site in 2017, found that Mr. Khoury’s company was dumping trash into the landfill without sorting it, despite a contractual requirement that recyclables be separated and hazardous material be removed.
Moreover, she found, the landfill’s breakwaters in the Mediterranean were not keeping the trash out of the water. Garbage and the toxic liquid oozing from it were going straight into the sea.

The contractor has said that it was not sorting the garbage because doing so would delay the project. It told Dr. Saliba that the sea had been polluted by sewage and other runoff, not by the landfill.

A lawyer for Mr. Khoury, Mark Habka, said last week that all standards were now being met.
Mr. al-Arab opened a new landfill at Costa Brava, and two sorting plants.
But workers at the sorting plants have made little attempt to sort much of what arrived, according to three people familiar with their operations.
They also said that they had seen workers using hoses to add water to the garbage before weighing it, increasing the cost to the government.

The three people include two who visited the sorting operation in 2017 and a third person familiar with the plants’ current operations who confirmed that these methods persist. These people asked not to be identified, fearing physical harm for speaking out.
Representatives of Mr. al-Arab’s company, Al Jihad for Commerce and Contracting, contacted this November, insisted that all the trash was sorted properly. But internal plant data from July 2018 shows that 93 percent of the waste was being dumped into landfills.
Hisham Karameh, Al Jihad’s waste management director, denied that the company played any tricks with the weighing, saying the weighing was monitored by representatives from the company, the government, the municipality and outside consultants.
Despite such questions, the development council has repeatedly fattened Al Jihad’s contract, agreeing in a series of add-ons to pay the company an additional $161 million to upgrade and expand the operation, without opening the process to new bids.
Mr. Karameh insisted the process was fair. “What we’ve won, we’ve won fairly,” he said. “Every businessman in Lebanon is related to someone in politics.”
Both Al Jihad and the council said the company had submitted the lowest bid for the original contract.

While businessmen and politicians have grown richer, the trash crisis has only grown harder to ignore.

“Money from all these donating governments has been wasted in pretending to do these constructive reform projects,” Dr. Saliba said. “And nothing’s been happening.”
By last summer, Costa Brava’s neighbors had had enough. Local residents blocked garbage trucks from entering, calling on the government to produce a sustainable solution.
“It seems like the dumping will only stop after the trash reaches Cyprus,” said Ziad Haidar, the mayor of Choueifat, a nearby municipality. “But what can we do? If we kept blocking the road, you’d see trash everywhere on the streets.”

For several years, the government has promoted incineration as a long-term solution, despite objections from environmentalists and scientists.
In June, the environment minister, Fadi Jreissati, told The Daily Star, a local newspaper, that he did not think Lebanon was “qualified” to regulate the incinerators.
Less than two months later, the cabinet approved his plan to build more landfills and three incinerators. The development council was tasked with scoping out potential sites.
 

dyyyy

Well-Known Member
Lets discuss.
1. What are your observations?
2. Is this article objective?

3. What should be done by the Judiciary and Thawra about the following?
a. It seems the article is pointing directly to the Council of Development and Reconstruction as being a den of Thieves...The CDR is a Hariri mazr3a. Should the Judiciary and Thawra focus on the CDR?
b. There were accusation of Jihad Al Arab embezzling Tax Payers
c. There were accusations of wrong doing potentially in the Eden Bay grant to Nabih Berri Son in Law...
d. There were accusations to Dany Khoury of dumping into the sea
e. There was a mention of Jibran Basil, but the article said that there was no proof of wrong doing
f. Confirmed that Jumblat owns Cogico, despite his many denials. What is his role in jacking up the prices?
g. Any others I missed?

I think the article is fairly objective, It shows how the people who fight each other publicly have mutual interests after all.
It highlights 2 main reasons for blocking everything in this country.
The "Mou7asasa", where every sect leader gets his share of the pie
The corrupt judiciary system that can't hold anyone accountable and works for these sect leaders instead of for justice.


(One small detail I'm not sure of, They said Jihad Al Arab is close to Hariri, isn't he more close to HA? If anyone has this info)
 

Rafidi

Legendary Member
This article exposes everything that is wrong with Lebanon, and its filthy so called leaders. Garbage leaders stained with looted or mismanaged public funds. The reason why I wouldn't feel proud to be Lebanese. No sense of fairness.

Every contractor must somehow be related to a politician or sectarian leader. That goes to show that things are never merit based. In normal countries, those associated or related to politicians should not bid for contracts. Everything is trash, trash and trash. Everything is politicized or sectarianized.

The truth is they all deserve to disappear from our existence. They should all go and never return. All of them. All of them means right from the president to the speaker to the PM and all the political parties, including Hezballah, which I staunchly support as a resistance movement, both within and outside Lebanon (but not necessarily as a political party or an internal political player).

Our problem as a people is deep and through insincere and selfish leaders. Even a rightful revolution to cleanse the system and purge the country would be hijacked by the corrupt and sectarian warlords and politicians. I see the kids (spoilt brats) of billionaires, with links to corrupt politicians going to protest and screaming thawra in Downtown. I still think of it and I am bewildered. Who do these rich kids want to rise up against? Against the corrupt clients of their dads? Or against the poor, whom their fathers have directly or indirectly contributed in milking? The same scenario plays out in my mind when I see someone like Sami Gmayyel going to join the protest. How can the son and heir of an expired feaudal dynasty that has outlived its usefulness be part of our future solution?

Then, we are frightened that any such revolution could be hijacked to target our rightful, needed and successful resistance movement. Even rightful resistance is politicized and sectionalized. Resistance to foreign threats should be a unifying force that unites all Lebanese, and not divide them, and it should give them a sense of pride, nationalism and patriotism. Someone like Geagea who hails from Bsharri, in Lebanon's farthest north won't feel the necessity to liberate Lebanon's farthest south. He is from the mountainous Bsharri that feels like an isolated planet on its own. Instead, someone like Geagea, devoid from the reality on the ground in the south would look for ways to politicize the resistance and trade for cheap profit through political stances agreeable to foreign players, who would give him financial aid like the political beggar he is.

We have leaders who have found the people worthy of being treated like sheep. Jumblatt has shed the blood of Lebanese and milk their pockets and now wants to impose Taymour. The Gmayyels have given to us Sami and Nadim. The Moawwad have given us Michel. Frangieh has given us Tony. Rafiq gave us Saad. Ma'roof gave us Osama. The Karameh lineage is alive. And of course, our president has a disadvantage by not giving birth to a son; nonetheless, he has gifted us with the ever multi talented and preferred son in law, who can hold all ministries and come out like a Greek champion (but we still dont have constant electricity). The Shia case won't have been any different if not for the efforts of Imam Musa al-Sadr, who put an end to the Assaad dynasty. And the latter are still looking for excuses to stage a comeback and the former ended up kidnapped and his fate unknown to this day.

Our situation is perplexed. And our problem is in us as a people. In countries where we move to and bid for contracts and open businesses, some, or maybe many of us, also have bad reputation and they are submerged either in corruption or their close associates are the corrupt elites and politicians. Corruption has become a trademark and an exportable commodity.

Our choice as a people has to be selecting the lesser or necessary evil. Thus, we have Aoun, a self declared anti corruption champion with a mission of reform and change. Hezballah, a successful resistance movement - worthy of praise and admiration - that isn't corrupt in itself but has corrupt allies it cannot speak up against for fear of strife. The leaser evils won last year's election and the major evils are up in arms trying to hijack a popular and over due revolution to further their political demands and foreign agendas dictated to them from their outside masters, in order to outdo their main political rivals from the other camp that won a majority.

We live a sad reality as a country. The best option for any sincere, fed up, godfearing, and humble (humility is a weakness in the estimation of many Lebanese, who have a culture of bravado and a scarce element in society) is to leave and migrate. I am tired. I have come to the realization more and more that no one in our political and elitist class deserves to be defended when it comes to internal political rivalry. They are all in muddy water. They are all the same. The very religion and sect they claim to be defending are only mechanisms to win the blind support of the ordinary people, who are victims of the same sectarian system and religious leaders and politicians. I am tired. It isn't worth it. Lebanon is sick (I mean Lebanon is not well; and we need a new cure to take us into the future. A cure that isn't sectarian, corrupt, religious oriented, and isn't of the past).

These are my observations, submissions and heartfelt emotions as an ordinary Lebanese (with no direct ties to any political party), who still loves and respects his country despite all the ills.
 
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dyyyy

Well-Known Member
Our choice as a people has to be selecting the lesser or necessary evil. Thus, we have Aoun, a self declared anti corruption champion with a mission of reform and change. Hezballah, a successful resistance movement - worthy of praise and admiration - that isn't corrupt in itself but has corrupt allies it cannot speak up against for fear of strife. The leaser evils won last year's election and the major evils are up in arms trying to hijack a popular and over due revolution to further their political demands and foreign agendas dictated to them from their outside masters, in order to outdo their main political rivals from the other camp that won a majority.
I agree with most of what you said, except these points.

I think we got to this point because we are always choosing the "lesser or necessary evil" or to put it more simply we're so terrified of change that we decide to keep things the way they are and take this as the necessary evil.

What you have to know is that in Lebanon people who follow Jumblat know that he's corrupt but follow him as the necessary evil to protect them from christians and shias
Sunnis know how much Hariri is corrupt but also follow him as the necessary evil to protect them from shias and HA.
And so it goes on.

Now that there is this revolution, everyone who's enjoying this situation is trying to convince us that change is very dangerous.

The problem with HA is that it's willing to accept this evil because its first priority by far is its weapons. If HA had actually embraced the revolution it would have got out stronger, but telling people to choose between risking their weapons and living in poverty has led many people to take the side against HA.

In everything there will always be foreign interference, even in the US, Russia was able to interfere in the elections.
That doesn't mean we stop everything and stay terrified, we just need to understand that these are inconveniences in democracy and we should know how to embrace it.
 

Dynamis

Well-Known Member
Orange Room Supporter
We live a sad reality as a country. The best option for any sincere, fed up, godfearing, and humble (humility is a weakness in the estimation of many Lebanese, who have a culture of bravado and a scarce element in society) is to leave and migrate. I am tired. I have come to the realization more and more that no one in our political and elitist class deserves to be defended when it comes to internal political rivalry. They are all in muddy water. They are all the same. The very religion and sect they claim to be defending are only mechanisms to win the blind support of the ordinary people, who are victims of the same sectarian system and religious leaders and politicians. I am tired. It isn't worth it. Lebanon is sick (I mean Lebanon is not well; and we need a new cure to take us into the future. A cure that isn't sectarian, corrupt, religious oriented, and isn't of the past).
I and many others go through these phases like you where the amount of issues facing the country is so great, it is easier to just give up. However, if we can, even for a minute, discern good from bad, perhaps the clues are in that somewhat objective article above on who the real enemies of the people are, and what their evil plan is for our country....

I am not defending any leader, but I am pointing to a conspiracy to get our good people (like you) to emigrate from their land in order to naturalize the Syrians and Palestinians in Lebanon. The trash crisis is part of it. The goal is to create a Wahabi Sunni client state in Lebanon that will:
1. Absorb the Syrians and Palestenians
2. Reduce Shi3as to a minority therefore preventing HA to exists as a resistance force to Israel
3. Reduce Christians to a minority therefore preventing the muslim-christian coexistence model (as imperfect as it may be) to be a counter example to Israel's Apartheid style regime
3. A Wahabi Sunni Client state that will give our Gas/Oil resources to UAE, ISrael, and Saudi

Don't give up. Zoom out a bit, and see the picture painted by that article. Trash is part of of that conspiracy.

Remember how it began and why...


How did the trash crisis start and why?
 
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