Stories written by Mona Alami

Syrian Political Refugees Hounded in Lebanon

Syrian refugees fleeing the brutal crackdown on citizens calling for an end to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime have encountered a sinister reception in neighbouring Lebanon.

SYRIA: Driving Into a Divided Land

Scores of buses carrying Syrians out of the country are waiting in uneven lines on the Lebanese-Syrian border for their paperwork to be processed. There are no Arab or Western tourists eager to cross to the other side, usually seen in hordes this time of year.

Syrian Opposition Members Disappearing in Lebanon

A wave of mysterious disappearances is befalling members of the Syrian opposition in Lebanon, where Syria’s military and intelligence apparatus had a strong presence during its occupation of the country from 1976 until 2005.

The town of Wadi Khaled. Credit: Mona Alami/IPS

War Makes for Strange Bedfellows

A soldier and an Islamist - both fleeing the crackdown on Syrian pro-democracy protesters and seeking refuge in neighbouring Lebanon - have discovered that they share similar views on the ongoing uprising.

Syria’s Once Profoundly Secular Society Shaken Up

Since pro-democracy protests began last March, Syria’s once profoundly secular society has been shaken up, with deep divides splitting up communities along sectarian lines.

SYRIA: Ongoing Unrest Threatening Economy

As protests persist in Syria, the economy is becoming an increasing concern for many, who wonder if it will eventually falter in light of the recent unrest.

Media War Blurs Picture in Syria

Since pro-democracy protests began over two months ago, Syria has been engaged in a fierce media war - with journalists arrested and international press banned from entering the country. This has severely curtailed the flow of information out of the country.

Syrians Running Out of Refuge in Lebanon

Syrians from the border town Tell Khalakh have been fleeing a wave of violence over recent weeks to cross into neighboring Lebanon. But those seeking refuge now face an uncertain fate.

Black Market in Arms Flourishing as Arab Spring Continues

As the Syrian uprisings escalate in violence, Lebanon’s black market in arms is flourishing, with prices of light and medium weapons driven higher by Lebanese and Syrian demand.

Hezbollah Challenges Bahrain Govt

Hezbollah’s hardening stance in the Bahraini crisis has sowed discord between Lebanon and the Gulf island, currently home to about 5,000 Lebanese expatriates. As the situation escalates, many fear that the status of other Lebanese in the rest of the Gulf could come under threat.

SYRIA: Unrest Spreads Further

Despite scarce official news reports emerging from Syria, information leaking out from activists on the ground describe the situation as deteriorating. While the government remains vague about events unfolding in the country, Friday prayers continue to ignite dissent that seems to be spreading to all social classes.

SYRIA: The Second “Damascus Spring” a Long Way Off

Caught in a wave of pro-democracy and pro-government protests, the Syrian political landscape seems far more complex than its Tunisian and Egyptian counterparts, where demonstrations ousted decades' old regimes. President Bashar al-Assad’s speech today may however give new momentum to pro-democracy protests.

Syria Between Hope and Fear

Pro-democracy 'Day of Dignity' rallies in Syria have led to many casualties in recent days. Before real political reforms are introduced, many lines will be crossed, lives lost, and human rights discarded

LEBANON: Hezbollah Treads a Narrowing Path

In spite of its recent successes, Hezbollah seems to be experiencing increasing difficulty in harmonising the interests of its Shiite constituency and those of its Iranian patrons as it delves into the chaos of Lebanese politics.

Jordan Feels a Jolt

The wave of political protests that has struck parts of the Middle East and North Africa over the past few weeks has also affected the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The protest movement here, initiated in the wake of the Tunisian Jasmine revolution, underscores the population’s demand for political reform.

Arabs Push for Stability in Lebanon

With political crises in Egypt and Tunisia overshadowing other issues in the Middle East, the appointment of billionaire Najib Mikati as Lebanon’s new prime minister is winning regional support in the hope that the change will minimize instability in yet another Arab country. Many questions are arising, however, about the formation of the new government and how much clout Hezbollah will have over it.

Protests Mark Appointment of New PM in Lebanon

The appointment of Hezbollah-backed March 8 movement candidate Najib Mikati as Lebanon's new prime minister set off violence in Tripoli and Beirut Tuesday, with mobs attacking journalists and setting fires.

A bag made from trash. Credit: Maya Mazloum, Trashy Bags

LEBANON: Trashy Bag Gets Trendy

Wafa Saab, a high-powered executive at the leading Lebanese-manufactured paint company Tinol, is an environmentally friendly fashionista. On her arm hangs a pink and blue gym bag. It’s made of garbage.

LEBANON: Tourism Planted at a Barbed Border

The contours of a modern medieval castle stretch along the Wazzani River delineating Lebanon's border with Israel. A few metres away from the United Nations-mandated Blue Line, on Lebanon's first line of fire with Israel, a tourism project at an estimated cost of 20 million dollars is slowly taking shape.

LEBANON: Twin Visions, Twin Enemies Tearing the Country Apart

Last month's bloody gun battle in the streets of a heavily populated Beirut neighbourhood may have been triggered by an individual incident; its sectarian dimension, however, has once again highlighted the underlying battle of two currents – two visions of Lebanon that have been tearing the country apart for the last four years.

LEBANON: Rich Feast Through Month of Fasting

Although not a celebration in the traditional sense, Ramadan in Lebanon is a time of joy for many, during which families reconnect and share their wealth with the poor. But in this country of extremes, not everyone has the luxury of celebrating the holy month.

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