Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

The Agony and the Ecstasy: Live from Lebanon

It has been a beautiful autumnal day in Beirut today, the first day Lebanon is without a President in nine years after Emile Lahoud’s term has expired, with the Parliament failing to reach a consensus vote on his successor that is acceptable to both the parliamentary majority and the opposition. The next vote is scheduled for Friday Nov 30, significantly after the Nov 27 Annapolis farce conference.

While my country of ancestry–Lebanon–is without a President, my country of birth– Australia–has just elected a new Prime Minister; it is with much satisfaction that I see John Howard’s government booted out.

As I am doing quite a bit of traveling throughout Lebanon, my internet access is currently patchy but a longer post on Lebanon is forthcoming.

Post-script: I am bemused to see the otherwise worthwhile Fisk (see ‘Darkness falls on the Middle East‘, among others, couch this constitutional crisis in unduly apocalyptic terms. I don’t think we’ve quite reached that point, and a political vacuum does not a catastrophe maketh.

Yes, the climate is tenser, but life goes on more or less as usual for most. Power cuts are routine and many–if not most–areas have their own generators which kick in; and I personally don’t know of anyone leaving their homes “like Iraq”.

Other reports of an increased troop presence on the streets are also dramatised: the main result of the slightly increased number of Lebanese Army checkpoints has been to only slow down traffic, and members of the Lebanese Army have been among the most courteous and helpful I’ve ever encountered. Going through one usually  involves simply being waved on.


8 comments on “The Agony and the Ecstasy: Live from Lebanon

  1. onset
    25 November, 2007

    Might not be the best time in the world to travel around Lebanon what with the military being out on the streets. I agree with you on Labour wining the elections in Australia.

    Australia is a long, long way away from where I live – UK but it warms my heart to see John Howard booted out. The only shame is that it didn’t happen sooner.

    Hi Onset and welcome, thanks for coming by. I’m still pinching myself that Howard’s finally out. Its a nice welcome back into the country, for sure. Regarding the increased presence of the Lebanese Army on the streets, to my surprise I didn’t at all find it threatening. Whenever I encountered them prior to Lahoud’s presidential term expiring (the reason more of them were deployed, in case there was any trouble) they were always respectful and courteous. — Ann

  2. homeyra
    25 November, 2007

    Great to hear from you. I was about to send you an email asking where and how you were.
    Congrats for your new prime minister.
    Take care.
    Thanks Homie, much appreciated. Hope things are going well in the big T.

  3. Curt
    25 November, 2007

    I’m so excited for you! I can only imagine how much it must mean to you to be in Lebanon, particularly at such a time as this.

    I’m sure you’re very busy, but the epicurean in me feels compelled to remind you: RECIPES!!! ;-)

    Can’t wait to hear more details when you have the time. I immediately thought of you when I heard Howard was tossed out and might even lose his constituency; that can only be a positive thing, methinks.

    Cheers, take care, and thanks for the updates.
    :) Yes! At this moment his Labor challenger is ahead by a few hundred votes and it looks like she’ll win. A terrific result! It will be confirmed in the next few days when postal votes are counted. Really appreciate your good wishes and I will definitely have something about my food adventures. I had to go back to work virtually immediately battling jet lag so haven’t yet had much of an opportunity to pen that post, but I will endeavour to write something soon. Your own posts have been good to read. cheers, Ann

  4. Kris Petersen
    25 November, 2007

    I was also quite happy to see the voters remove Howard from his perch… Have a good time traveling in Lebanon. Considering I’m in Gaza, we’re practically neighbors!

    Hi Kris,
    Lovely to meet you, thanks very much for your good wishes. I’ll be in Lebanon again in 2008, so we’ll be neighbours again. Hope you’re doing well in Gaza, and my thoughts are with you and all Gazans particularly as I write on this day, International Day of Solidarity with Palestinians. warmest wishes, Ann

  5. Dave
    25 November, 2007

    Hello :) Had no idea you were Lebanese! :D Makes me love your blog even more! Have fun in Lebanon, I’m sure its amazing even with the current political climate. Besides as a politically motived person such as yourself, it probably makes it all the more interesting?

    Take care,

    Much appreciated Dave, and ditto re your blog. I had a great time in Lebanon, especially with the opportunity to go to the North and South as well as Beirut, doing the major sights (Geita Grotto, Harissa, Byblos and other ancient ruins) as well as meet with some very interesting politically active people.

    As mentioned to my good friend Curt, I hope to write up something shortly, and I’ve forwarded you an account of my first few days sent to friends. cheers, Ann

  6. startingtoday
    27 November, 2007

    I don’t really have anything useful to contribute except to say I stumbled across your blog today, and I can’t wait to go back and read through it a bit. Looks interesting. I read too many blogs of those here in the US, and I am trying to expand my horizons a bit.

    Good to meet you, and please do visit again.

  7. Kilroy
    27 November, 2007

    You’re Lebanese? Really? Whoda thunk?

    I would have guessed you were Welsh from the punctuation.

  8. Bluebear2
    27 November, 2007

    What an amazing vacation you took. I can’t imagine what it would be like under those conditions. I know the Federalis
    riding around in their jeeps in Mexico made me uncomfortable
    enough, I can’t imagine being somewhere that is more or less under siege.

    I’m glad you are home safe now and wish Howard would invite Bush and his buddies on a boat ride, sailing off into the sunset never to be seen again!

    Thanks, BlueBear. Hear, hear!

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This entry was posted on 24 November, 2007 by in Australia, Elections, Lebanon, Travel.

Timely Reminders

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-- Aldous Huxley

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