Welcome Ms Levantine to the Lebanese blogosphere! Here's a taste of Nadim Shehadi, click for full post:
The lesson from that episode was that Lebanon could not be separated from Syria; it was too hot to handle. The US had overplayed its hand and burnt its fingers. For Lebanon, this also meant the failure and loss of western protection, more or less a constant feature since independence. The vacuum created by the collapse of this agenda could then only be filled by Syria, first through the 1989 Taif agreement that ended the Lebanese war and gave it ‘special relations’ with Lebanon. This was brokered by Rafic Hariri, a courtier of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and close friend of the then Mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac. Syria was ultimately given a free hand in 1990 as recompense for joining the Gulf war coalition to oust Saddam Hussein after his invasion of Kuwait. President Hafez al Asad was the main, if not only, net beneficiary from the Gulf War. From then on, Lebanon was under Syrian domination and lost its strategic relevance – the Lebanese and Syrian tracks were inseparable. This was all with the blessing of the US President George Bush senior’s administration, and in line with the dictum of the former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger: ‘Give Lebanon to Syria and there will be peace in the Middle East’. Many of the problems that the US abandoned in Lebanon in 1983, came back to haunt it twenty years later.The importance of perspective with regard to Lebanon and its politics cannot be over-stated. I have family that fall over various fault lines in current Lebanese politics, so I've had both the pleasure and headache of trying to put together piece-meal my unique opinions regarding this 600 pound gorilla. I was sheltered and neutral by virtue of being a kid during the early days. It's interesting how one little thing can change one's perspective. During the war there were many such little things causing different reactions. Cause and effect becomes a hyper-real experience during war, making time seem so surreal and misplaced. Already we have a bit of a problem with our imprecise Mediteranean time, hehe...but once you add some tracer fire here and some shelling there, some candlelight and stories late at night and you've got Libnan circa 1980-something. As long as I was up in the mountains, I felt safe. We would hike for hours building football fields to play on. Some of the best times of my life, really, and there was a war going on. It's why I wonder how life is so different for my younger cousins in Iraq at the moment. They don't get to roam around like I did in Lebanon. I feel connected to Lebanese soil because of those long days and nights. And of course I go back all the time and love it (I even lived there in 99-00), but when I was younger it was so much different.
So, welcome Ms Levantine's all-star cast by paying them a visit and reminisce with me a bit.
What are some of your fondest memories which help connect you to Lebanon to this very day?