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Technocracy now: The US is working to turn Lebanon’s anti-corruption protests against Hezbollah

While Lebanon’s protests remain focused on the economy and widespread corruption, Washington is increasingly determined to exploit the movement as a geopolitical weapon in the region.

by Rania Khalek

Part 8 -  Bringing Ukraine to Beirut

Hong Kong is not the only US-backed color revolution upheaval being marketed to protesters in Lebanon.

On November 8, a group called ARD.NEWS screened the controversial Netflix documentary “Winter On Fire.” The film presents a one-sided view of the Euromaidan protests, completely erasing the neo-Nazi and ultra-nationalist elements that formed the front lines of the demonstrations to topple the government and replace it with a hopelessly corrupt, EU-friendly technocracy.

This conflict has turned Ukraine into Europe’s poorest country, rendering its citizens dependent on a remittance economy and desperate to leave. A civil war has broken out in the country’s east, where the US has supplied arms to the Ukrainian military and ancillary groups like the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion to fight Russian-backed separatists.

“Winter on Fire” has also been screened at anti-government US-backed protests in Hong Kong and Venezuela. The film is essentially a how-to guide for effectively shutting down a city and toppling a government through violent, sustained street protests. (ARD.NEWS has also featured the NED-funded activist Gino Raidy at their events.)

ARD founder Michel Saman is a 28-year-old French-Lebanese entrepreneur who left his travel startup in France to participate in the protests in Lebanon. He and his ARD colleagues live mostly outside of Lebanon. They hope that by screening films like the one about Ukraine, they can help inspire the protesters in the country, though it is unclear what they hope to achieve.

And if it turns bloody, we live outside, we’ll come back in five years and revolution, revolution, revolution. But there is a chance right now,” Saman told me.

He added that the uprising in Lebanon has presented a market opportunity.

Asked how ARD was financing its project, Saman stated, “So far we didn’t need any funding. Yes a lot of organizations here are funded, but we’re not serving food. We’re really educating the mind for free. It costs us $50 for a speaker. Instead of having a beer I just pay $50, you know it’s nothing.

When ARD’s event host Maya Acra asked the audience what similarities they saw between the protests in Lebanon and Ukraine, she was met with blank stares. No one raised their hand to speak during a question-and-answer period. Weeks later, when the documentary was screened in Tripoli, its impact remained unclear.

It remains to be seen whether the protests can be co-opted and redirected towards US-centric regime-change goals. For now, they remain focused on the economy, but the atmosphere is growing more tense by the day.

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