A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

the hot new color for fall: more red lines in Beirut

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on October 3, 2007

This week has been a busy one, and its only half over. I’ve started a new job, and getting settled – new tasks, new responsibilities, new schedule – has meant some serious adjustments – errr, “growth opportunities” – for me.

On Monday I walked home in a bit of a haze, tired from my first full day. As a result, I had already passed this sign before its meaning dawned on me:

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Some days it seems that the Arab world is entirely criss-crossed by red lines. My friends in the news and publishing world talk about “red lines” around subjects they cannot mention in print or on air, for fear of censorship or punishment. And of course Lebanese politics are rife with red lines, as one of my favorite bloggers noted earlier this summer in a post evocatively titled “Oh boy – another red line!” During the last elections, the March 14 candidate’s posters declared that “Beirut is a red line”. I’m not sure how that works, logically – doesn’t it mean that Beirut is off-limits? – but it looked good on the poster.

Red lines with local or national significance are one thing, but this banner is a mystery. Saudi Arabia is now a red line? Lebanon has more than enough domestic problems to tackle without attempting to involve itself with its regional neighbors.

The group or organization that erects the banner usually identifies itself just below the main text – in this case, a group called the People of Nu3mani League. I’ve never heard of them before, but now I’m eager to learn more.

Update, October 4

I was eager to learn more, and as always, H was there to help. First, I misinterpreted the “Rabitat Al al-Nu3mani: “Al al-Nu3mani” is another way of saying “The Nu3mani family” – I thought it was a grander designation. Second, H says that the “red line” is in reference to Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Sharaa insulting the Saudi kingdom earlier this fall.

Well – that clears up the mystery, but not the issue of why the Nu3manis are taking it 1) so personally and 2) so slowly. Did it take them more than a month to paint this banner? And again: don’t they think that perhaps their energies would be better expended defending Lebanon?

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