Category Archives: Middle East

Missing Iraqi Cash ($1.2 To $1.6 Billion) Ended In Lebanon

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CASH-master675 Stuart W. Bowen Jr., left, a special inspector general who examined corruption and waste in Iraq

After the US defeated Saddam Hussein in 2003, $12 billion to $14 billion was sent to Iraq in the airlift, and an additional $5 billion was sent by electronic transfer to support Iraq’s new government and help the economy. However, and based on an investigation led by Stuart W. Bowen, he found that between $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion had been stolen and moved to a bunker in rural Lebanon for safe keeping.

This is the first time I hear about this money and the bunker. Where did all that money go and where the hell is that bunker?

Read the full article [Here].

Mr. Bowen said that Brick Tracker, his office’s most sensitive investigation, began in 2010 when Wael el-Zein, a Lebanese- American on his staff, received a tip about stolen money hidden in Lebanon. An informant told him about the bunker, which in addition to the cash, was believed to also have held approximately $200 million in gold belonging to the Iraqi government.

But by this time, official Washington had long since forgotten about the flights from Andrews. The C.I.A. expressed little interest in pursuing the matter, and the F.B.I. said it lacked jurisdiction, Mr. Bowen recalled. And when Mr. Bowen and his staff tried to conduct an investigation of the missing cash in Lebanon, they also met with resistance from the United States Embassy in Beirut.

Mr. Bowen was not allowed to travel to Lebanon on official business. Two of his investigators who did travel to Lebanon were denied permission from the embassy to see the bunker themselves because it was too dangerous. When Mr. Bowen’s staff members met in Beirut with Lebanon’s prosecutor general, Said Mirza, he initially agreed to cooperate on an investigation, but later decided against it.

The office of the special inspector general for Iraq closed in 2013, and Mr. Bowen is now working in the private sector. Mr. Bowen thinks at least some of the money has been moved, and said it is impossible to say whether any of it is still in the bunker. He says he is still frustrated by the lack of cooperation he got from his own government in his efforts to pursue the missing cash. “We struggled to gain timely support from the interagency as we pursued this case,” Mr. Bowen said.

#ToOurCountries By Faia And Rihan Younan

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lebanon To Our countries was produced by a group of young people living in Sweden and originally from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.

Wars are still raging unfortunately in the Middle East and thousands of innocent civilians are getting killed everyday. Lebanon is still safe from a new civil war and we need to keep it that way at any cost.

[YouTube]

Beirut Is Crazy, Messy, F***ed-up and Fantastic But It Is Not The Real Centre of This Region

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beirut

I just finished reading the “Why Beirut Really Matters” post that everyone’s been sharing in the past couple of days and I really wish I could agree with everything the author is saying but I would be lying. I love Beirut and I admire Warren’s love for our capital but tiny little Beirut is ANYTHING but the real centre of this region, and definitely “not an indication of where we might, could, possibly even should, all be going, regionally and globally”.

Lebanon is no longer setting trends in the region and serving as a role model for other countries to follow. Lebanon has been going backwards ever since the civil war has started and things are not getting any better. The economy is bad, the liberties are diminishing, sectarianism is on the rise, fanatic and terrorist groups are everywhere around us, gay and women rights are still practically inexistent, the country’s infrastructure is bad, corruption is here to stay and we keep on voting for the same people. The only thing that we are continuously improving is the nightlife, and Beirut will stay the Middle East’s party capital for years to come.

Despite all that, I do love my country and I’ve learned to enjoy it the way it is and highlight through the blog and other social media channels the positive things happening in Lebanon. However, for Beirut to really matter, serious and drastic changes must be implemented and I will keep on pushing for such a change, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

The Story Of The Fake Bomb Detectors Still Being Used In Lebanon

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fake

Even though the man who sold these fraudulent bomb detectors was sentenced to seven years in jail, some governments and security companies are still using these devices. I’ve been talking about this matter for 3 years now yet only few malls and businesses have decided to drop these useless devices in Lebanon. Luckily enough, we haven’t had any bombings in crowded places for the past few months but that’s not a valid reason to keep using these detectors.

Here’s the [latest] on this story by BBC’s Caroline Hawley.

The Washington Post’s Failed Nine Attempts To Explain The Crazy Complexity of The Middle East

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lo

I don’t really blame them. I doubt that anyone is understanding what’s happening around us. It feels like everyone’s gone mad. Maybe the only way out is to give everyone in the Middle East their own country based on the 317,000,000-state solution proposed by [The Onion].

It’s a fun read nevertheless. Check it out [Here].

fail

Gebran Bassil Comments On The “Caroline” Video

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[YouTube]

I am not sure if he made things better or worse by linking what happened to Da3esh. He could have simply clarified the whole situation and apologized from Caroline if she felt offended by what he did.

Speaking of women in the UAE, it is worth mentioning that UAE ranked first in the world for respecting women according to a study back in April 2014.

caroline

Four Great Achievements Of The Lebanese Army

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ary

Most Lebanese, if not all of them, love and support the Lebanese Army. We trust our soldiers because they’ve united the country around them, they’ve protected us from terrorists despite being under-trained and under-equipped, and they’ve prevented a new civil war from erupting on several occasions, despite all the politics involved. Having said that, TV host Faisal al-Qassem’s attack on the army is a cheap and sleazy one but we shouldn’t have reacted by storming al-Jazeera’s offices. A nice reminder of what our army has achieved throughout the past ten years is the best way to silence Qassem:

1- Prevent a new civil war in Lebanon:
Lebanese are divided on almost everything except the Lebanese Army, because it is the only side that is capable of calming things down and is the only institution Lebanese trust. Even though politics have created obstacles for the army, they’ve always managed to diffuse the situation and bring back peace whenever and wherever there’s trouble in Lebanon.

2- Keep things under control in the 2006 war:
The Lebanese Army did not engage directly with the Israeli army back in 2006, but instead helped control the situation internally by providing aid to civilians, and keeping order in all the cities, noting that almost 1 million Lebanese had to relocate within the Lebanese territories during the July war. Despite all that, 49 soldiers were killed by Israeli airstrikes.

3- Defeat Fath el Islam in 2007:
The 2007 battle between Fatah el Islam and the Lebanese Army was one of the fiercest battles since Lebanon’s civil war and the LAF emerged as a winner against all odds. Our troops were under equipped, had to cnovert UH-1 helicopters into bombers, and were up against highly trained and heavily equipped terrorists yet they’ve managed to take control of the camp after more than three months of heavy fights. This victory was praised regionally and worldwide as few armies were able to confront and defeat terrorists the way our brave troops have done so. The death toll was a heavy one though, as 155 commandos and infantrymen died.

4- Prevent Da3esh and Jubhat al Nousra from entering Lebanon:
The battle is still ongoing against ISIS and other terrorist cells coming from Syria but the Lebanese Army has the upper hand now and is working day and night to keep these groups away from Lebanon. Let’s not forget as well the work they’ve been pulling all around Lebanon, in coordination with other security forces, to catch terrorist cells and prevent future bombings.

These are only four achievements, but they are more than enough to silence anyone criticizing the army, whether in Lebanon or abroad. Last but not least, here’s one of the many songs that Lebanese artists have sung in support of the Lebanese Army. I don’t like them usually but I am sharing this one benkeyé bi Al Qassem.

[YouTube]

Tyre, Beirut, Sidon And Byblos Among The World’s 20 Oldest Cities

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byblos

The Telegraph posted today a list of the World’s 20 oldest continually-inhabited places on earth, which included four Lebanese cities: Tyre, Beirut, Sidon and Byblos. The list also included Faiyum and Thebes in Egypt, Kirkuk and Arbil in Iraq, Damascus and Aleppo in Syria and Jerusalem and Jericho in Palestine.

The fact that we have 4 of the world’s oldest cities should help us attract further tourists and promote our history instead of showing girls and night clubs in our tourism commercials.

iPhone6 and iPhone6 Plus Will Be Available To Order In The UAE On September 27

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iphone

I wasn’t expecting the new iPhones to be available that soon in the Middle East but according to Apple’s UAE store, they will be available to order starting September 27th, a week after the official release date. The iPhone6 starts at 700$ and the iPhone6 Plus at around 815$.

As far as Lebanon is concerned, you can expect the iPhone6 and iPhone6 Plus to be over $1000 in the first few weeks, so I recommend you wait a little bit till prices settle.

I followed the #AppleLive event yesterday and it’s great to finally see an iPhone with a big screen at last. The Apple Watch is nice but it looks big to be honest and expensive at 350$. There’s even more expensive edition that has a watch case crafted from 18-karat gold. Something tells me this edition will sell big in the Middle East.

watch

If you are an Apple fan, my friend Jad posted everything you need to know about Apple’s new products [Here]. You can also check AbsoluteGeek’s post [Here].