Category Archives: Middle East

Something Is Brewing In Lebanon, And It’s Not Beer According To VICE

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goIREgs

I usually enjoy reading Vice’s articles but this one is not very accurate to say the least, unless they know something we don’t. Lebanon has been the Middle East’s next ticking bomb for 3 years now yet things are still relatively under control. I don’t know if it’s just me, but things have improved lately from what I’ve seen and getting ammunition and new weapons to the Lebanese Army will only help stabilize the situation.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope things will improve further.

On Wednesday, the country’s Daily Star newspaper reported that the Russian ambassador to Lebanon confirmed that the two nations are in the process of negotiating potential military cooperation. This comes on the heels of Lebanon’s request to the US in August for new aircraft to support counterinsurgency operations against the Islamic State and other jihadist groups. Saudi Arabia recently granted $1 billion to Lebanon to help its fight against the Islamic State, on top of another huge dollop of cash it pledged to the country’s military last year. Fighting from Syria’s civil war finally spilled over into the Lebanese town of Arsal in early August, bringing ISIS forces with it. The country’s Cabinet convened a special session just days later to chart a plan for getting military assistance from “brotherly and friendly countries.” In other words, Lebanon is looking for guns and ammo from just about anyone willing to supply them. [Vice]

Facts about Starbucks in The Middle East

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starbucks Picture by Sharif

I’ve been hearing about boycott campaigns against Starbucks ever since I was in AUB some 10 years ago, and every time there’s a new conflict between Arabs and Israel, people ask for a new boycott and Starbucks once again updates its facts section to re-assert that it does not fund the Israeli government in anyway. I suggest you read this article to figure out if Starbucks is Zionist or not.

Personally speaking, I’ve been going to Starbucks since 2002 and never stopped simply because by boycotting Starbucks branches in Lebanon or anywhere in the Arab World, I am actually harming Lebanese employees and a Kuwaiti group (Alshaya WLL) and definitely not Howard Schultz (Remember Tripoli’s KFC?). Moreover, I don’t believe in boycotts in the first place and don’t think they will get anywhere specially in today’s world.

This being said, I respect people who wish to boycott Starbucks or any other “Zionist” business in their opinion, but I urge them to do it without spreading fake letters and stories and without intimidating others who don’t like boycotts.

You can find below the most recent facts about Starbucks in the Middle East, updated as of August 2014.

Is it true that Starbucks or Howard Schultz provides financial support to Israel?

No. This is absolutely untrue. Rumors that Starbucks or Howard provides financial support to the Israeli government and/or the Israeli Army are unequivocally false. Starbucks is a publicly held company and as such, is required to disclose any corporate giving each year through a proxy statement.

Has Starbucks ever sent any of its profits to the Israeli government and/or Israeli army?

No. This is absolutely untrue.

Is it true that Starbucks closed its stores in Israel for political reasons?

No. We do not make business decisions based on political issues. We decided to dissolve our partnership in Israel in 2003 due to the on-going operational challenges that we experienced in that market. After many months of discussion with our partner we came to this amicable decision. While this was a difficult decision for both companies, we believe it remains the right decision for our businesses.

Do you have plans to re-open should the opportunity arise?

We decided to dissolve our partnership in Israel in 2003 due to the on-going operational challenges that we experienced in that market.

When and where the business case makes sense and we see a fit for the Starbucks brand in a market we will work closely with a local partner to assess the feasibility of offering our brand to that community. We will therefore continue to assess all opportunities on this basis. At present, we will continue to grow our business in the Middle East as we have been very gratified by the strong reception of the brand in the region. We continue to work closely with our business partner, the Alshaya Group, in developing our plans for the region.

Do you work with a Middle East partner to operate Starbucks stores?

Through a licensing agreement with trading partner and licensee MH Alshaya WLL, a private Kuwait family business, Starbucks has operated in the Middle East since 1999. Today Alshaya Group, recognized as one of the leading and most influential retailing franchisees in the region, operates nearly 600 Starbucks stores in the Middle East and Levant region. In addition to its Starbucks stores, the Alshaya Group operates more than 2,600 retail stores in the Middle East, Russia and North Africa, providing jobs for more than 40,000 employees of more than 110 nationalities.

We are extremely fortunate and proud to have forged a successful partnership for the past fifteen years and look forward to building on this success. [via Starbucks]

How To Help Iraqi Refugees In Lebanon

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iraq-mosul-shrine

Ever since the Islamic State (Da3esh) took over Mossul, a lot of Iraqi families have been fleeing to Lebanon seeking refuge and there are over 1300 families till now according to the Chaldean Archdiocese in Hazmieh, Beirut. These families were forced to leave in a matter of days and most of them have nowhere to go, which is why the Chaldean Archdiocese along with other churches have been receiving them and helping them out.

More families are expected to arrive in the coming days, which is why a solidarity campaign has been launched to help them out and provide them with the most basic food and sanitary products which are listed below:
– Food items (rice, spaghetti, oil, salt, cheese, etc.)
– Toiletry products (toothpastes, soap, shampoo, toilet paper, detergent, etc.)
– Kitchen materials (cooking pots, glasses, plates, etc.)
– Clothes, blankets, sleeping mats, etc.
– Cash donations (to cover the medicines and the rent)

How To Help?
If you wish to help directly, you can contact the below numbers:

Mireille Safar 03-572322
Joe Matta 03-282040

Or call/email the Chaldean Diocese directly on:
+961 5 457 732
+961 5 459 088
email: chaldepiscopus@hotmail.com

You can also deliver your donations to BASSMA’s office in Badaro, Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 3pm (01-383938) and make online donations on this [link].

Posted Originally on LBCBlogs

Movie + Pictures: Massive Attack Show Support For Syrian Refugees & Palestinians in Gaza During Byblos Concert

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via Glamroz

Here are some of the supporting messages (with a couple of spelling mistakes) that were shown during Massive Attack’s concert at the Byblos International Festival.

Massive-Attack-06

massive attack5

massive attack2

Pictures via BlogOfTheBoss

massive attack3

I have no idea what they meant with the below picture as I didn’t see the end of it in the video or anywhere else.

Massive-Attack-04

Update: Here’s the rest of that picture.

mass Thanks Ghiwa

Dr. Ghassan Abu Sitta From the American University of Beirut In Gaza To Provide Medical Care

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[YouTube]

Dr. Ghassan Abu Sitta is the head of the Plastis Surgery division at the American University of Beirut and this is his 4th trip to Gaza to help the injured Palestinians. That’s really brave of him to go to Gaza as the Israelis are even targeting hospitals. I wonder how he managed to get to Gaza though.

LBCI Changed Its Logo To LBن

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IMG-20140729-WA0002

It appears that they’ve done so in solidarity with the Iraqi Christians of Mossul. They also had an interview with an Iraqi Sunni journalist Muslim called Dalia al-Aqidi who decided to wear a cross around her neck in solidarity with her country’s Christian minority.

To be honest, I’d expect Tele Lumiere to do so instead of LBCI but it’s a nice initiative nevertheless.

Walid Jumblatt And The Islamic State’s New Caliphate “Rolex?” Watch

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Ever since the new Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his first public appearance, everyone’s been speculating, including Lebanese MP Walid Jumblatt, over the brand of the watch he was wearing. Some are saying it’s a Rolex, while others are claiming it’s an Omega or a Tag Heuer or even an Al-Fajr WA-10S Deluxe watch.

10568943_10154335512550332_2132450439566306333_n via Mustapha

The Al-Fajr watch is apparently Swiss made and is pre-programmed with the correct prayer times for all the world’s major cities. You can also set the date according the standard international, or Gregorian calendar, based on the birth of Christ, or the Muslim calendar, dated to the Hejirah. The compass found on the watch shows the direction of prayer (Kiblah).

fajr

The funny part is that this self-proclaimed Caliph was denouncing the West in his speech. The sad part is that people nowadays seem more interested in the brand of his watch rather than the persecutions, massacres and atrocities his group is committing.

Arab-American Sulome Anderson’s #JewsandArabsRefuseToBeEnemies Selfie Gone Viral

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jews He calls me neshama, I call him habibi. Love doesn’t speak the language of occupation #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies via @SulomeAnderson

Sulome Anderson is an Arab-American journalist who writes for the Atlantic, Foreign Policy, NY Mag & VICE. She’s half Lebanese and tweeted the other day a selfie with her Jewish bf kissing with a message that said #JewsandArabsRefuseToBeEnemies. The photo quickly has gone viral and became a symbol of peace. Sulome Anderson is the daughter of former AP Middle East bureau chief Terry Anderson, who was kidnapped in Lebanon three months before she was born in 1985 by a Shiite militia and was held for seven years.

I think these messages are important, because even though they won’t help resolve the conflict, it brings people, mainly Jews and Arabs, together as this conflict isn’t just about politics but about people and human values. It is unacceptable that children and innocent civilians get murdered that way and no one’s able to stop these massacres from happening.

My boyfriend is Jewish, raised in an orthodox family, and I’m half Lebanese. Last week we were on vacation and, at the suggestion of a journalist friend, added a photo of us together in support of what was then a little-known initiative called Jews and Arabs Refuse to be Enemies. I wrote those words on a piece of paper, kissed my boyfriend, snapped a picture, and posted it on the group’s Facebook page. I also tweeted it to my modest following and added this caption: “He calls me neshama, I call him habibi. Love doesn’t speak the language of occupation.”