Monday, March 07, 2005

UPenn doctoral candidate Stacey is currently in Yemen (being on the receiving end of impromptu stonings, cheerily identifying herself as part of a "third gender", and breezily ignoring US State Dept advisories).

But now she weighs in on the situation in Lebanon:

I'm still in Sana'a, but wrapping up here with the intention of heading to Beirut by April 1st, so I've been contacting friends about sublets and whatnot. In one particularly chilling response, a fellow scholar/friend writes:

As for things here, they're a bit too exciting for my taste. Gangs of shebab are riding around the streets at night from both the opposition and loyalist camps. Several people were shot over the weekend in Achrafieh/Gemayzeh....Meanwhile, there are very scary rumors about Ketaeb being in contact with Israel and plotting things for here. And this comes from both the Israeli press and rumors here. I really don't trust them, or Aoun. The Christian militia youth are spoiling for a fight, even though they'd be creamed. I think they feel Christians lost the war and they missed their glory days by not fighting in their own war - a very dangerous combination.

Great. Her advice? Buy a refundable ticket.

You really have to love those academics don't you? The pro-Syrian elements are the "loyalists" and the pro-democracy demonstrators are the "opposition" who travel around in "Shebab". And of course they have us sinister Israelis down pat - always pulling the strings behind the scenes aren't we?

I'm sure Stacey doesn't agree, disagree, or have a stance about her scholar friend's nomenclature or speculations of conspiracy; she just finds them chilling unlike the warm people in Yemen. But I'm fairly certain that the global media would jump on the opportunity to tell the story if things were as bad there as she seems to suspect.

Update: Stacy responds to my sarcasm with a dose of her own, and writes that
Tal's basic objection seemed to be to my posting of a colleague's on-the-ground view of the evolving situation in Lebanon, and failure to condemn her use of the terms "Opposition" instead of "Pro-Democracy."This, of course, puts her in league with all but, say, Fox News...including many within the Opposition itself!

I made two observations:

a) Stacey brooked no enthusiasm for the apparent emergence of an Arab trend towards democracy (an enthusiasm shared well beyond the Fox News viewership), and used conspiciously antiseptic language that masked the sense that there might be anything positive going on.

b) Stacey's colleague made conspiratorial insinuations about Israelis pulling the strings behind the Lebanese political scene. These remarks were apparently such a commonplace that she doesn't even notice them (or notice my noticing them) or perhaps even find them worthy of skepticism. You'd be interested to know that Israelis don't like to be viewed as diabolical.