Lebanon’s New President is a Symbol of a System Designed to Fail

This Monday, the Lebanese parliament formally appointed former general and civil war-era warlord Michel Aoun president of Lebanon. His appointment ended a stalemate between Lebanon’s major parties and politicians that had kept the post vacant for two and a half years. While it has mostly been presented in western media as the triumph of the Hezbollah and Iran backed Aoun over the Saudi backed Hariri, the election of Aoun says more about the heart of the Lebanese political system than it does about regional power struggles. Lebanon was founded in 1943 based on agreements between political and social elites hoping to protect their networks of power and privilege within their own communities. These agreements still define the logic of Lebanese politics today. The path of Michel Aoun, a man who bears significant personal responsibility for the death of hundreds, to the presidency highlights just how well this system still protects the interests of political elites and how poorly it works for the people of Lebanon. Continue reading “Lebanon’s New President is a Symbol of a System Designed to Fail”

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Syria’s Palestinian Refugees: Stateless and Under Threat

For many Palestinians, the experience of being displaced is not a singular event in the past but an ongoing process. Many Palestinians who became refugees in the Nakba in 1948 were displaced once again in the 1967 June War, Black September in 1971, or the Lebanese Civil War. The Syrian Civil war is the latest incident of mass Palestinian displacement. Syria was once home to more than half a million Palestinian refugees and was an important political, economic and social base for the exiled Palestinian national movement. While lacking citizenship, Palestinian refugees received relatively wide-ranging rights in Syria. However, fleeing alongside Syrians during the ongoing civil war, Palestinian Refugees from Syria (PRS) have faced special hardship due to their Palestinian identity and lack of citizenship. Continue reading “Syria’s Palestinian Refugees: Stateless and Under Threat”

Identity and Gender: Women’s Unequal Right to Citizenship in the Middle East

A Lebanese woman holds up a banner durin

A recent UN High Commissioner for Refugees report revealed that 27 countries limit women’s ability to pass their nationality onto their children or spouses. Twelve of these are in the Arab Middle East and North Africa. If you include the partially recognized State of Palestine, 13 of the Arab League’s 22 member states have such restrictions. In many of these countries, citizenship is conditioned on birth to a citizen father. Therefore, unlike men who marry foreigners and have children, women in these countries are often unable to pass their nationality onto their foreign-born or stateless husbands or their children.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of people across these countries lack the rights that come with full citizenship in the countries in which they were often born, raised and spent their entire lives. Some recent reforms have attempted to alleviate in part the difficulties that accompany these regulations. However, for political and ideological reasons, these limits remain in place.

Lebanon is one such country. Continue reading “Identity and Gender: Women’s Unequal Right to Citizenship in the Middle East”