Sunday, March 11, 2012

Christmas in Istanbul, Albums one and two

Monday, March 05, 2012

Syria-Lebanon-Syria-Lebanon, etc.

Hello everyone!  It's been awhile.

I know that I have some wonderful pictures of my Christmas Turkey adventure.  No, I did not burn the bird.  I went to Turkey over Christmas but I would not expect you to remember this after all this time. I will attempt to make that my next posting.  Many apologies!

This is an update about what has been going on from a strictly uninformed, desperate-for-more-credible-information professor.  There is a great deal of chatter around about how Lebanon is and may be affected by what is going on in Syria.

All I know is this:
  • I have been involved in helping collect needed supplies for the refugees.  It is dreadfully cold now and Syrian refugees are fleeing for their lives.  If they make it over the border, they carry nothing with them.  What is Assad doing?  Why?
  • At the moment, there are people down on the coastal plains, and probably in the Bekaa Valley, who are deeply divided on their support for or against the Assad regime.  It has come to blows (well, shootings) in a couple of the more conservative and intransigent areas.  That is, they are holding to their positions despite any news that might suggest that Assad is killing his own people--women, children, young men, all men.  There is fear and expectation that whenever the Red Cross/Crescent does get in to Baba Amr and all of Homs there will be horror and shock at what they see.  I cannot imagine it.
  • Everyone seems to have some suggestion for a good plan of action but I do not see one that will not result in more bloodshed.  It looks to me that Assad is not much different at all from his father.
  • I am safe.  All is well up here on the Balamand mountain where, without cable news, we would never know that the rest of the world, even the next-door world, is in trouble.
I do listen to Fareed Zakaria's analysis.  He is intelligent, insightful, and about as evenhanded as any commentator I know.  Please see: Fareed Zakaria

The other worrying bit of local/regional news is the possible strike from Israel on to Iran's nuclear "installations." Does anyone really know what they are?  Is this another WMD scare?  Here is what we see in Lebanon, should that happen:
  • Israel is nervous, of course.  If they strike they will need all sorts of support (refueling) and airspace clearances. 
  • If Iran retaliates, their allies are closer to Israel than Israel is to Iran.  Hezbollah, funded in part by Syria and Iran sits, partially on Israel's northern border, in Lebanon, unfortunately.  
  • The last time Israel retaliated, attacking Hezbollah, Lebanon paid a steep price.  The whys and wherefores of Hezbollah's presence here  are not worth discussing.  They are a strong political and military force here and even a force for good, helping poor Islamic areas with schools and hospitals, things that Lebanon cannot supply.  
  • If all the above happens, Syria will be involved as well, if they are still a viable power in this area.  Who else?  I'm not sure but I can see the Middle East in ashes when all is said and done.
The whole thing makes me sad--all of it--and it doesn't matter whose politics you espouse, ugliness, mayhem, killing (with words or swords) demonstrates that we so-called civilized folks aren't.  We go around in circles, it seems to me--circles of repeating history.

I'm sorry for this post.  It reflects the hopelessness I feel for polite, respectful discourse here or in the US about important issues.  I wish I could believe otherwise.