Adonis Diaries

Archive for June 5th, 2009

What is Legitimate, Temporary, and Necessary ?(June 5, 2009)

            On June 7, 2009 the Lebanese will vote for a new Parliament. Two groups of citizens will vote: The group constituted of the patriotic, secular, and reformists and the group of an amalgam of statue-quo confessionals, feudalists, isolationists, and “colonial minded” mentalities. The “colonial minded” citizens follow leaders who invariably rely on foreign interventions (regional or superpower States) to balance out a broken alliance among the confessional castes system and perpetrate the conditions for weak central governments.

            A brief current history might elucidate this drastic splitting among the Lebanese citizens. In May 24, 2000, Ehud Barak PM of Israel withdrew from most of south Lebanon with no preconditions, the first ever decision in Israel 61 years history. The joint strategy of Lebanon President Lahoud and Hafiz Assad of Syria enabled Hezbollah a resounding victory.  

The Arab League decided to hold its annual meting in Beirut in August 2002 as a good gesture for its acknowledgment of the victory in 2000 of this tiny State.

In 2003, Syria had plans for partial withdrawal to the Bekaa Valley but the vehement rhetoric from the Druze leader Walid Jumblat and the Patriarch of the Maronite Christian sect slowed down the execution process. 

Before the assassination of Rafic Hariri in February 14, 2005, the Bush Jr. Administration and Jacque Chirac of France issued the UN resolution 1559 for the retreat of the Syrian forces from Lebanon and the dismantling of Hezbollah’s military wing and the return of its heavy armament. 

The withdrawal of the Syrian troops was not the main objective because the international community and the main Arab States wanted and kept high hopes that Syria will ultimately be pressured to do the dirty work of taming Hezbollah.

            The Syrian government factored in many variables to opposing the frequent lures and pressures of what is expected of her to do in order to remain in Lebanon.  The targeting of Rafiq Hariri for assassination by the US, France, Saudi Arabia, and Israel was not one of the variables considered; and Syria strategy was shaken violently. In fact, Rafic Hariri received so many encouragements and acted in such confidence that the Syrian government forgot to contemplate such an evil and drastic eventuality.

The mass demonstration on February 14 was not a threat to Syria; General Aoun was still in exile in France and was pressured by the French government not to return to Lebanon.  What Syria comprehended the loudest was the mass demonstration by Hezbollah on March 8, 2005.  Hezbollah thanked Syria for its sacrifices, which meant “Now it is time for your complete withdrawal”:  Hezbollah was always nervous of the Syrian presence in Lebanon because it was the only power capable of restraining its activities.  Hezbollah was sending the message to Bashar Assad “We can take care of ourselves and still continue the resistance against Israel if you definitely put an end to the international pressures by getting out of Lebanon” 

The mass demonstration in March 14, fortified by the supporters of General Aoun (The Tayyar Horr), was not even a threat to Syria.  It was the realization of Syria that its continued presence in Lebanon will ultimately confront its army directly as the Lebanese government lost control over events and cowered under uncertainties.

Syria withdrew quickly to the frustration of the US and France who realized that they wasted Hariri for nothing in return: Hariri could still be of greater benefit to their policies in the Middle East region alive rather than dead. 

The International Community, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia fell back to plan B: re-kindling the civil war in Lebanon.  They initiated a series of bombing in Christian quarters hoping that the Christian will side en mass with the Sunni/Mustakbal/Hariri clan.  Plan B petered out. 

They came back with more vigorous scare tactics by assassinating Christian personalities.  Samir Kassir, George Hawi, and Jubran Tweiny were marked as potentially not reliable and could shift sides because they were independent minded and honest characters.  This wave of select assassination backfired because General Aoun signed a pact with Hezbollah and de-activated a potential civil war targeting the Christians.

Plan C also failed and civil war did not flare out.  Thus, direct intervention from outside was considered and Israel trained its forces for incursion into Lebanon with the US total aids and support in all phases of war preparation.  Hezbollah, intentionally or by coincidence, preempted the completion of the plan in June 12, 2006. 

Israel launched its offensive for 33 days and failed miserably in all the goals.  The attack backfired and the stature of Hezbollah ballooned and overflowed to all the Arab and Moslem populations.

The International Community, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia did not desist.  Plan D was to re-enforce the Sunnis with a military wing of extremist salafists called “Jund Al Sham” and financed by Bandar Bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia.   In the summer of 2007 a few ignorant and violent Sunni extremists preempted the timing by slaughtering Lebanese soldiers; the army pride and dignity reacted with an all out attack and crushed this insurrection in Nahr Al Bared Palestinian camp after many months and many martyrs. 

The International Community, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia studied for two years to dismantle Hezbollah’s secured communication lines and to start a mini civil war in Beirut between the Shiaa and Sunnis.  Plan E backfired again on May 8, 2008 and the Lebanese leaders had to meet in Dowha and agreed on the election of a President to the Republic, an election law for the Parliament, and the constitution of a national government.

Lebanon has suffered for 4 years of an incompetent and illegitimate government; the Lebanese lived in a totally insecure political vacuum; the economy was farmed out to the size of the Hariri clan and the financial debt skyrocketed to $60 billions.  This “political” debt is intended to pressure the Lebanese government into accepting the settling of the 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in return for debt cancellation.

We need to compare four categories of leaders along the two dimensions of principled leaders and pragmatists.  In the dimension of principled leaders we can discriminate the hate monger isolationist leaders versus the principled for the public and State good. In the pragmatic dimension we have the individual interest oriented and the public/State pragmatists.  For example: Walid Jumblat, Merwan Hamadeh, Amine Gemayel, Samir Geaja, and the Patriarch of the Christian Maronite sect can be categorized in the isolationist, confessional, and personal minded leaders.  Ex-President Emile Lahoud, General Michel Aoun, Suleiman Frangieh, and Hassan Nasr Allah could be classified as the principled and public/State oriented pragmatists.  The classification of the remainder of the semi-leaders I leave it to the readers as exercises. The Mufti of Beirut is a non entity: he is the bugle of Saad Hariri.  Saad Hariri is a non entity: he re-edited the slogan of the chairman of General Motors to say “What is good for the Saudi Monarchs is good for Lebanon”.  General Motors has declared bankruptcy; the Hariri/Seniora clan will declare bankruptcy on June 8, 2009.

With the exception of General Aoun who refused any kind of occupation, all leaders welcomed the mandate of Syria for 20 years; they kept repeating the mantra “The presence of Syria in Lebanon is “Legitimate, Temporary, and Necessary”; Merwan Hamadeh and all the actual ministers were the ones repeating this mantra to the nauseating public.  The Maronite Patriarch Sfeir was against the Syrian presence but was pretty cool regarding Israel’s occupation.   The members of the Seniora PM government did not voice out their refusal of Israel’s occupation of part of south Lebanon and constantly conspired to weaken the resistance forces against the Israeli occupiers on the basis that only international diplomacy can pressure Israel! 

Only President Lahoud stood steadfast with Hezbollah and refused to deploy the army in areas of the resistance’s operations.  Thanks to Hassan Nasr Allah and President Lahoud Lebanon managed to secure its integrity and unify its army.  Thanks to Hassan Nasr Allah and General Michel Aoun Lebanon buried any likelihood for the resurgence of a civil war. 

My spirit went to statesman General Aoun who said, once the Syrian troops crossed the borders back to Syria, “Syria is now out of Lebanon.  I have no qualms with Syria anymore. This is the time to open a new page in our relations”.  This position stands in contrast to those who begged Syria for crumbs and privileges for 20 years and once Syria withdrew they refrained from normalizing relations with Syria; the fictitious excuses to antagonizing Syria were dictated by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.  What kind of state leadership is that?

The election results of June 7, 2009 should fortify Lebanon as a Nation and project the image of a solid central government with serious reforms and changes to the archaic political system.  That are my wishes but I know the struggle will be long and protracted.  Sweet revolutions need time to mature in this diversified Lebanon.

Mr. President: Biography of a period (1989-2009); (June 4, 2009)

 

Note:  This is a biography of ex-President of the Republic of Lebanon Emile Lahoud from 1989 to 2009.  I had already reviewed “Shock and Steadfastness” (Sadmat wa Soumoud) by Karim Bakradouny in two posts and I decided to combine the two posts in tighter historical chronology and further expansion.

 

 

Before 1989

 

The mother of Emile Lahoud is from Armenia and his wife is Armenian and he speaks Armenian. In 1954 Emile miraculously recovered from meningitis while studying in London and thus decided to enjoy life to the hilt.  He spent his adolescent years riding a convertible white jaguar; he had a chalet on the beach and partied all night long. Lahoud married Andree Amadony in 1967.

Emile Lahoud would repeat this anecdote, countless times, for whoever cares to listen; when a schoolboy, he got into a fight and had his regulation school overcoat ripped. His father, General Jamil Lahoud, asked him “Is your conscious at peace?” The reply was affirmative and the father said “Don’t you worry then; you will have another coat made”  

Emile Lahoud used to never wear any coat or jacket during the coldest seasons until a friend was once shocked to see him swimming and asked him “Have you got hit on your head as a kid?”  Since then Lahoud wears a simple black leather jacket in winter time just to save appearances of normalcy.  Lahoud’s breakfast is a piece of banana and a cone of ice cream for lunch.  The main eating session is dinner.  Lahoud records on a tape the topics that he wants to approach in a discussion or matters to follow up on.

           

 

General Emile Lahoud, Army Chief

 

Emile Lahoud ascended the military ranks normally and was the first Chief of the army who came from the ridiculously tiny navy. He was appointed Chief in November 1989 after General Aoun was forced into exile to France.  General Lahoud had the task to re-unite the dismantled army after over 15 years of civil war; he combined the regiments so that they represent all the Lebanese sects and ordered the regiments to relocate every 9 months to different parts of Lebanon so that every soldier knows his country.  He negotiated the best deals for arms, medicine, and insurance.

            General Lahoud refused political deals with President Hrawy and Rafic Hariri PM for transferring officers and followed the strict military procedures.  Any high officer who refused to obey orders for the re-organization of the army was dismissed and Syria never tried to pressure Lahoud to rescinding his orders.  The billionaire Rafic Hariri used to offer the army cash money every month but General Lahoud refused saying “The State is responsible for the budget of the army” so that he can exercise his functions without undue political pressures.

            There was an international decision to contain the Islamic resistance in south Lebanon and General Lahoud refused to confront the army with the resistance fighting the Israeli occupiers.  President Hafez Assad of Syria decided to meet Lahoud for the first time; General Lahoud told Hafez Assad “I am re-building the army to resist Israel and my conscience refuses to fight those who are fighting Israeli occupation” Since that meeting the political pressures on Lahoud faded away and he could focus on the re-organization of the army and freeing the resistance from political pressures and its freedom of movement in areas not in the army control.  When Israel bombed Lebanon for 7 days in 1993, General Lahoud ordered to return fire and Israel stopped its shelling.

Walid Jumblat, leader of the Druze sect in the district of Shouf, offered General Lahoud a bullet proof car on account that their fathers were close friends.  Lahoud returned the car a few months later when he realized that Jumblat is in the habit of blackmailing for political gains.  The government had ordered the army to recuperate all public facilities and Lahoud recaptured the palaces of Al Amine and Beit El Dine to the growing angst of Jumblat. Another time General Lahoud sent an army support to accompany the Druze Sheikh Akl Bahjat Ghaith to his home because Jumblatt forbade the Sheikh from entering his hometown.

 

Mr. President of the Republic

 

Lahoud was elected President of the Republic by the majority of 118 out of 128 deputy votes after revising an item in the Taef Constitution. Item 49 in the Constitution denied candidacy to any a high ranked employee before resigning his post for a period. General Lahoud was elected President on October 15, 1998 and his first public oath in the Parliament said: “The President of the Republic is the only official to swear allegiance to the nation and to obey the law.  Thus, since I will be under the Law then I expect everyone else to emulate my subordination to the Law of the Land” President Lahoud had a program of fighting corruption and made it clear and loud in his speech that didn’t mention the ex-President Hrawi or the ex Hariri PM in any sections of the speech.

When ex-President Hrawi urged Hafez Assad to change his choice Asad said: “The Lebanese public polls selected Emile Lahoud for President and I want him there” The Syrian President had complete confidence in the former Army Chief that he will first, resume his policy of strengthening and unifying the Lebanese army and will refrain from drawing the Lebanese army in internal infighting such as with Hezbollah and thus save the Syrian army any uncalled for problems, and second, that Lahoud will never contemplate unilateral negotiation with Israel.

Hafez Assad was not concerned with the Lahoud’s program for drastic reforms and fighting corruption.  Thus Lahoud had to deal with a rotten political system in Lebanon that constituted an insurmountable barrier to change: the Taef Constitution robbed the President of valuable powers that were transferred basically to the Prime Minister and the cabinet combined. 

Hariri had proclaimed three months ago that “I will return Prime Minister whoever is elected president to the Republic” Hariri had returned from a long trip visiting important capitals and secured assent to be accepted as Prime Minister but only 83 out of 128 deputies selected him directly and the remaining deputies allowed the President to vote for them.  Cocky Hariri went publicly asking that another round of consultation takes place because he wanted as many representative votes as the President of 118 deputies.  Lahoud reacted by publicly accepting Hariri refusal and appointed Salim Hoss as prime Minister with 95 deputy votes. This tactic of Hariri backfired as he realized that Syria could easily deal with another Prime Minister.  Hariri was positioning himself for a vaster role as co-partner in the coming Middle East peace accord that he sincerely believed was almost agreed on.

It was a tradition since independence for the newly elected President of Lebanon to pay an official visit to France first of all.  Chirac was highly displeased that Lahoud did not mention France contribution to the April 1996 agreement to localize the confrontations in south Lebanon and for not consulting him on the government that excluded Rafic Hariri.  Consequently, Chirac took it personally and canceled the appointment for a formal visit to France.  Later Chirac was pressured to dissociate France interest in Lebanon from his personal animosity with Lahoud and the Francophone convention took place in Beirut in 2000.

In June 1999, assassins of the extremist Sunni movement “Osbat al Ansaar” killed four judges within Saida Court House and fled to the nearby Palestinian camp of Ain Helwi.  Lahoud understood that it was a trap to inciting the Lebanese army to start a war on the Palestinian camps and instead Lahoud focused on encircling the camp to apprehend the assassins.

As this nasty trap failed to divide the government then Israel launched destructive raids on Lebanon’s infrastructure targeting the electrical power plants and water pumps. Lahoud asked the Lebanese to contribute to a bank account in order to support the State treasury to rebuild what was demolished; (I remember that I contributed $100 while in the USA).  The Lebanese overseas contributed 50 millions dollars to that fund.

 

The president of the Parliament Nabih Berri told Lahoud “You are an excellent soldier but lack political acumen”.  Lahoud replied “If I managed to become Chief of the army and President of the Republic with lack of political acumen then how my path you have unfold if I was much more clever in politics?”.  In another moment Berri told the author “Lahoud plays it dumb but he is aware of all the political details and smarter in politics than most Lebanese politicians.  For example, Lahoud retains General Jamil Al Sayyed, Director of the General Security in Lebanon, in all his discussions with foreign personalities so that Al Sayyed would testify to the Syrian officials.”  Berri had no liking for the strong Shiaa man Al Sayyed.

 

Lahoud finally met with Rafic Hariri in the summer Palace of Beit El Dine after months of avoiding face to face encounter. Lahoud told Hariri “From the first moment I knew that you wanted as much weight among the deputies as I obtained in my election for the presidency so that you may force on me your conditions. I kept the honest and performing high officials that you appointed and will dismiss anyone that is not up to his responsibilities.  I intended you to be my first Prime Minister but I was in no mood to be subjected to any conditions.  I know that you are spending lots of money on the media to ruin the image of this government but this not the way to behave with me.”  Two days later president basher Assad paid Lahoud a quick visit to Lebanon and publicly supported the president and Hoss PM.

President Lahoud decided to spend part of summer in the Presidential Palace in Beit El Dine and for that purpose had to relocate the bust of Kamal Jumblat off the entrance and waited for Walid to ship it somewhere else at his own responsibility. Walid said “I will never forget what Lahoud did for the duration of my life!”  Walid Jumblat tried scare tactics on Lahoud by assuring him that the Syria President is terminally ill and that his son Bashar will not succeed his father Hafez and that General Hekmat Shahaby and Abdel Haleem Khaddam will take over the regime.  Lahoud retorted “Bashar will be the next appointed President and I am trying my best to take on the responsibilities of the President and to recapture the dignity of the State under one leader”  Jumbalt said “I don’t like the military”.  Lahoud replied “I don’t like the militias”.  Once, Lahoud saw on the TV Hoss PM meeting Jumblat who was in jeans.  Lahoud sent his assistant to inform Jumblat that he will not be welcomed in the Presidential Palace if he ever arrives not wearing a tie.   President Lahoud comprehended that Walid Jumblatt’s attitude, as his father Kamal, amounted to a historical trend of blaming the Christian Maronite sect for having robbed the Druze out of the leadership of Mount Lebanon.

In November 1999, the French Foreign Affairs Hubert Vedrine had a lengthy discussion with President Lahoud.  Vedrine had toured several capitals and his impression was that a resolution of the Middle East crisis was less ripe as he expected.  Ehud Barak of Israel was sending tactical contradictory messages hoping for starting any kinds of negotiations with either Lebanon or Syria so that he won’t have to withdraw unilaterally from Lebanon and give Hezbollah the impression of defeating Israel by acts of resistance.  Barak would not pronounce on the complete withdrawal from the Golan as requested by Hafez Assad and President Lahoud would not negotiate without Syria approval. Consequently, Barak was forced to withdraw from Lebanon without any pre-conditions in May 24, 2000 because Israel was in fact paying a high price in Lebanon for insisting on keeping the Golan Heights.

Vedrine and Lahoud discussed the Palestinian problems.  Vedrine was offering the suggestion that Lebanon refrains from adamantly proclaiming that every Palestinian in the refugee camps should leave Lebanon  and just be satisfied maintaining the Constitution requirement of the Palestinian rights to return.  Lahoud stated that the Palestinians are procreating three times faster than the Lebanese and constitute now 10% of the population or 400,000 and this fact is a highly “explosive bomb” that has the potential to destabilize the Lebanese social and political fabrics. Lahoud confirmed that the Palestinians in the camps are suffering a harsh life but arms in the camps are no longer directed toward Israel since the Oslo Agreement.  It appeared that the financial compensation was already settled among the donating powers but the potential Palestinian State would be small and economically fragile to sustain the relocation of all the Palestinian refugees.

In October 2000, Hezbollah took prisoners three Israeli soldiers in the Shabaa Farms and then lured the retired Israeli Colonel El Hanane Tanenboum to Beirut.  Albright demanded the release of the Israeli prisoners and Ehub Barak gave an ultimatum within 4 hours. Lahoud answered the US Ambassador Satterfield “Consider the 4 hours have ended.  I will not negotiate the release of the Israeli prisoners” Lahoud was in strong position because the Lebanese army was not on the borders so that Israel could not exercise any pressures on the President.

            In August, 2001, Patriarch Sfeir visited the Shouf for 3 days and was welcomed with mass rallies. On his last stop in the town of Kahaleh demonstrators jeered the names of Bashar Assad and Syria.  A few demonstrators were incarcerated. On August 7, confrontations in front of the Palace of Justice in Beirut resulted in ugly visual brutality by security forces wearing civilian clothes.  Both Lahoud and Hariri realized that they were targeted and that any impressions of loss of control over the security services is bad omen.

 

            In the morning of September 11, 2001, Larsen and De Mistoura (UN representative in Lebanon) met with Lahoud.  De Mistoura told Lahoud that Ariel Sharon is preventing his Foreign Affairs minister Shimon Peres to meet with Arafat.  Larsen asked Lahoud how he foresees the coming events.  Lahoud replied “The reactions of the Palestinians to the brutality of the Israelis are the consequences of despair for any peaceful resolution. It is no longer acceptable that Israel control the world”  Lahoud went on “Reactions of despair might reach the USA as what happened to the Twin Towers previously” By the afternoon, the Al Qaeda was blowing the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and Bush Jr. was taken to hiding for the day.. Larsen called and asked “How did you know what will happen this afternoon?” Lahoud replied “If I knew then I would have been more powerful than the USA”. (To be continued)

The Third Republic of Lebanon: The Tayyar of Michel Aoun (June 1, 2009)

 

            The formal and extensive visits of Michel Aoun to Iran and then to Syria had three purposes.  First, it was symbolic of “breaking bread and sharing salt” which meant that confidence is established and hidden agendas will be stated clearly among friends. The second purpose was to focus attention on the ethnic and religious minorities so that Iran and Syria would exercise more leverage to preserving the persecuted minorities in Iraq. The third purpose was to exposing the draft program of the Third Republic that need to be instituted in Lebanon in order to relieve Iran and Syria from constant worries on the potential political and strategic orientation of Lebanon; thus, relying on Iran and Syria to exercise their influence toward stabilizing an environment of security and peace within Lebanon.

            General and Deputy Aoun had absorbed the various failures of other Christian Lebanese leaders for establishing a lasting stable political system that would save Lebanon of recurring civil wars.  A unified Christian front in Lebanon is not enough to bringing peace and security; this fact Michel Aoun experienced when he was appointed Prime Minister in 1988 and ended in his exile to France.  The most striking recent experiment was the tenure of ex-President Emile Lahoud.

            Lahoud intended to eradicate corruption in the State while maintaining strategic relations with Syria and supporting the Lebanese resistance in the south against Israel’s occupation.  Lahoud failed in his attempts for reforms of the social and political system because he had no civilian political movement and had no previous communication with the deputies in the Parliament.  Lahoud managed to press forward on the corruption front in the first 3 years until Syria realized that the reforms were going too far and driving its Lebanese political supporters to frantic seizures. The incarcerated officials indicted with corruption and stealing the treasury were released from prison and Rafic Hariri returned as Prime Minister to resume his service and real estate economy based on heavy borrowing.

As Syria was under pressure in 2005 to withdraw its troops then it decided to extend the tenure of Lahoud another 3 years.  The UN resolution 1559 for Syria withdrawal, the Lebanese army to expand to the southern borders, and Hezbollah to turn over its heavy artillery to the army pointed to a dramatic clash which culminated in the assassination of Rafic Hariri.  External interventions bolstered the internal confessional forces to side track reforms and forced the Presidency into a defensive corner; thus, not only clipping any remnant of official power but eliminating the role of the Presidency and the Christian necessity for a stable Lebanon among its religious affiliations.

 

What is the Third Republic and what is its strategy? First, the new Republic will bolster the rights, duties, and responsibilities of the President of the Republic and reduce the exclusive privileges of the Prime Minister to administering several “black boxes” such as emergency funds, development and construction council, repatriation of Lebanese refugees’ box, and disaster box that should be returned to the relevant ministries.  These reforms do not require any amendments to the Taef Constitution.

 

Second, the Third Republic wants to desist on reducing the economy of Lebanon to the service sector that it can no longer compete with newer and powerful centers in the region like Dubai, Cyprus, Jordan, and Egypt.  The economy has to revert to basics and develop on industrial and agricultural production, exploiting our water resources, managing better our electrical power generation, and expanding and modernizing our communication facilities. Health for all and education for all at affordable costs are priorities.

 

Third, the reduction of our heavy borrowing policy that reached over 60 billions dollars with the purpose of settling the Palestinians in Lebanon in return of canceling this mighty debt will be tackled in earnest.  I lean to the possibility that if negotiations with the lending parties are not successful then the new government will decree the cancellation of any lending that was politically motivated.  I doubt that reactions would extend beyond the rhetorical recriminations because the case is strong that Lebanon had no collateral economical generation potentials for these generous lending.  As a consequence, the Third Republic will put an end to any international policies attempts to reside the Palestinians in Lebanon.

 

Fourth, the Third Republic will relieve Hezbollah from the constant pressures of international plans targeted at coercing the disarmament of the resistance by coordinate activities with non-patriotic governments that are wiling to cohabitate with the enemy Israel.  This united front will force Israel to desist from any further incursions into Lebanon.

 

Fifth, the Third Republic will move ahead with an alternative election law based on proportionality and revisiting laws that deny equality between genders and secular national civil status laws.

 

Sixth, the Third Republic will demand joint negotiations with Syria relative peace agreements with Israel after recapturing the Shebaa Farms and the Hills of Kfarshouba.

 

The first step in the strategy was for the Christians to regain confidence and stand up to their responsibilities and acknowledging that Israel is the enemy.  This was done.  The second step was an alliance with Hezbollah which defeated many plans to resurrect the specter of the civil war.  The third step was direct contacts with States as representing the largest Christian Parliamentary bloc and opening channels of communications and entente.  The fourth step is wining the majority seats in the Parliament.

 

Lebanon Parliament was expanded in 1992 to include 128 deputies; 64 Christians and 64 Moslems.  The election in June 7 is calling on 3, 260,000 voters to participate and most probably more than 50% will effectively vote. Among the eligible voters of over 21 years of age 888,000 are Moslem Shiaas (27 deputies in total), 874,000 Moslem Sunnis (27 deputies), 698,000 Christian Maronites (34 deputies), 243,000 Christian Greek Orthodox (concentrated in the districts of Ashrafieh and Koura), 186, 000 Moslem Druze (8 deputies concentrated in the districts of Chouf, Aley, and Hasbaya), 163, 000 Greek Catholics, and dozen of other Christian minorities and Armenians (concentrated in Ashrafieh, Burj Hammoud, and Anjar).  The Moslem Alawis of about 27,000 are entitled to 2 deputies.

            In the previous election of 2005, the Tayyar of Michel Aoun without the support of any alliances managed to secure 20 Christian deputies representing 70% of the Christian voters but the Lebanese political system denied this large bloc any governmental representation for 4 years until the Dawha agreement.  The law of this election that correspond to the law of 1960 divides Lebanon into 26 districts called “Kada2” and most of the Christians candidates do not have to rely on Moslem voters for their election.  With the alliance of the “Marada Party” of Suleiman Frangieh in Zghorta, Betroun, and Koura the Tayyar can secure additional 8 deputies.  With the alliance of the Hezbollah the Tayyar can add 3 deputies in the district of B3abda and two more in Jezzine. Thus, if the Tayyar of Michel Aoun sustains the previous election victory then he should expect no less than 27 deputies and over 40 Christian deputies allied to the Tayyar or one third of the Parliament. If we add to this Christian bloc the deputies of Hezbollah and AMAL (over 24 deputies) and the Syrian National Social Party (about 4 deputies) and the Druze and Sunni deputies then the opposition will clearly win the majority of the Parliament.  Thus the Prime Minister will be selected from the opposition and most of the key ministerial posts would revert to the opposition along with a reshuffling of the main first order administrative officials.

 

            The Tayyar is taking the shape of a popular revolution intended to defeating the privileges of the feudal, caste, confessional, and monopolist system. It has no alternative but to follow the legitimate democratic route under this complex social diversity.

 

            As I mentioned in another post, if the Christians do not emerge in this election with a unified and powerful centralized bloc then the chances are that a system based on splitting power among Shiaa, Sunni, and Christians (muthalateh) would be inevitable, even at the expense of a short civil war.  Most probably the civil war would start between Shiaas and Sunnis but will quickly degenerate to fighting between Christians and Sunnis because the Shiaas have already their cantons. This alternative system would be legitimate demographically and the Christian would contend with third of the administration and political power offices.

 

Note 1: My spirit went to statesman General Aoun who said once the Syrian troops crossed the borders in April 2005 “Syria is now out of Lebanon.  I have no qualms with Syria anymore. This is the time to open a new page in our relations”.  The Tayyar has a TV channel and a blog; it has established a radio channe a couple of days ago; but I am under the impression that, excluding the members of the Tayyar, the supporters are on the one way communication receiving end. The brochure of the program of the Tayyar has no phone numbers, no email addresses and no central mailing address. I once sent a hand written letter to Deputy Ibrahim Kanaan and it had to go through two intermediaries of the Tayyar; obviously, I never received a reply. 

 

Note 2: I am suggesting to the Tayyar to install central mediating centers in each district so that deputies would handle the various complaints from their respective constituencies, sort of “wassit al kada2”.

Legitimate, Temporary, and Necessary (June 5, 2009)

 

            On June 7, 2009 the Lebanese will vote for a new Parliament. Theo groups of citizens will vote; the group constituted of the patriotic, secular, and reformists and the group of an amalgam of confessionals, feudalists, isolationists, statue quo,  and “colonial minded” mentalities. The “colonial minded” citizens follow leaders who invariably rely on foreign interventions to balance a broken alliance among confessional castes system and perpetrate the conditions for weak central governments.

            A brief current history might elucidate this drastic splitting among the Lebanese citizens. In May 24, 2000 Ehud Barak PM of Israel withdrew from most of south Lebanon with no preconditions, the first ever in Israel 61 years history. The joint strategy of Lebanon President Lahoud and Bashar Assad of Syria enabled Hezbollah a resounding victory.  The Arab League decided to hold its annual meting in Beirut in August 2002 as a god gesture for its acknowledgment of the victory in 2000 of this tiny State.

In 2003, Syria had plans for partial withdrawal to the Bekaa Valley but the vehement rhetoric from the Druze leader Walid Jumblat and the Patriarch of the Maronite Christian sect slowed down the execution process. 

Before the assassination of Rafic Hariri in February 14, 2005 the Bush Jr. Administration and Jacque Chirac of France issued the UN resolution 1559 for the retreat of the Syrian forces from Lebanon and the dismantling of Hezbollah’s military wing and the return of its heavy armament.  The withdrawal of the Syrian troops was not the main objective because the international community and the main Arab States wanted and kept high hopes that Syria will ultimately be pressured to do the dirty work of taming Hezbollah.

            The Syrian government factored in many variables to opposing the frequent lures and pressures of what is expected of her to do in order to remain in Lebanon.  The targeting Rafic Hariri for assassination by the US, France, Saudi Arabia, and Israel was not one of the variables considered and Syria strategy was shaken violently. In fact, Rafic Hariri received so many encouragements and acted in such confidence that the Syrian government forgot to contemplate such an evil and drastic eventuality.

The mass demonstration on February 14 was not a threat to Syria; General Aoun was still in exile in France and was pressured by the French government not to return to Lebanon.  What Syria comprehended the loudest was the mass demonstration by Hezbollah on March 8, 2005.  Hezbollah thanked Syria for its sacrifices, which meant “Now it is time for your complete withdrawal” Hezbollah was always nervous of the Syrian presence in Lebanon because it was the only power capable of restraining its activities.  Hezbollah was sending the message to Bashar Assad “We can take care of ourselves and still continue the resistance against Israel if you definitely put an end to the international pressures by getting out of Lebanon” 

The mass demonstration in March 14, fortified by the supporters of General Aoun (The Tayyar Horr), was not even a threat to Syria.  It was the realization of Syria that its continued presence in Lebanon will ultimately confront its army directly as the Lebanese government lost control over events and cowered under uncertainties.

Syria withdrew quickly to the frustration of the US and France who realized that they wasted Hariri for naught: Hariri could still be of great benefit to their policies in the Middle East region alive rather than dead.  The International Community, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia fel back to plan B: re-kindling the civil war in Lebanon.  They initiated a series of bombing in Christian quarters hoping that the Christian will side en mass with the Sunni/Hariri clan.  Plan B petered.  They came back with more vigorous scare tactics by assassinating Christian personalities.  Samir Kassir, George Hawi, and Jubran Tweiny were marked as potentially not reliable and could shift sides because they were independent minded and honest characters.  This wave of select assassination backfired because General Aoun signed a pact with Hezbollah and de-activated a potential civil war targeting the Christians.

Plan C also failed and civil war did not flare out.  Thus, direct intervention from outside was considered and Israel trained its forces for incursion into Lebanon with the US total aids and support in all phases.  Hezbollah, intentionally or by coincidence, preempted the completion of the plan in June 12, 2006.  Israel launched its offensive for 33 days and failed miserably in all the goals.  The attack backfired and the stature of Hezbollah ballooned and overflowed to all the Arab and Moslem populations.

The International Community, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia did not desist.  Plan D was to re-enforce the Sunnis with a military wing of extremist salafists called “Jound Al Sham” and financed by Bandar Bib Sultan of Saudi Arabia.   In the summer of 2007 a few ignorant and violent Sunni extremists preempted the timing by slaughtering Lebanese soldiers; the army pride and dignity reacted with an all out attack and crushed this insurrection in Nahr Al Bared Palestinian camp after many months and many martyrs. 

The International Community, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia studied for two years to dismantle Hezbollah secured communication lines and to start a mini civil war in Beirut between the Shiaa and Sunnis.  Plan E backfired again on May 8, 2008 and the Lebanese leaders had to meet in Dawha and agree on the election of a President to the Republic, an election law for Parliament, and the constitution of a national government. Lebanon has suffered for 4 years of an incompetent and illegitimate government; the Lebanese lived in a totally insecure political vacuum; the economy was farmed out to the size of the Hariri clan and the financial debt skyrocketed to $60 billions.  This “political” debt is intended to pressure the Lebanese government into accepting the settling of the 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in return for debt cancellation.

 

            We need to compare four categories of leaders along the two dimensions of principled leaders and pragmatists.  In the dimension of principled leaders we can discriminate the hate monger isolationist leaders versus the principled for the public and State good. In the pragmatic dimension we have the individual interest oriented and the public/State pragmatists.  For example: Walid Jumblat, Merwan Hamadeh, Amine Gemayel, Samir Geaja, and the Patriarch of the Christian Maronite sect can be categorized in the isolationist, confessional, and personal minded leaders.  Ex-President Emile Lahoud, General Michel Aoun, Suleiman Frangieh, and Hassan Nasr Allah could be classified as the principled and public/State object oriented pragmatists.  The classification of the remainder of the semi-leaders I leave it to the readers as exercises. The Mufti of Beirut is a non entity: he is the bugle of Saad Hariri.  Saad Hariri is a non entity: he re-edited the slogan of the chairman of General Motors to say “What is good for the Saudi Monarchs is good for Lebanon”.  General Motors has declared bankruptcy; the Hariri/Seniora clan will declare bankruptcy on June 8, 2009.

 

            With the exception of General Aoun who refused any kind of occupation all leaders welcomed the mandate of Syria for 20 years; they kept repeating the mantra “The presence of Syria in Lebanon is “Legitimate, Temporary, and Necessary”; Merwan Hamadeh and all the actual ministers were the ones repeating this mantra to nauseating public.  The Maronite Patriarch Sfeir was against the Syrian presence but was pretty cool regarding Israel’s occupation.   The members of the Seniora PM government did not voice out their refusal of Israel’s occupation of part of south Lebanon and constantly conspired to weaken the resistance forces against the Israeli occupiers on the basis that only international diplomacy can pressure Israel! 

Only President Lahoud stood steadfast with Hezbollah and refused to deploy the army in areas of the resistance’s operations.  Thanks to Hassan Nasr Allah and President Lahoud Lebanon managed to secure its integrity and unify its army.  Thanks to Hassan Nasr Allah and General Michel Aoun Lebanon buried any likelihood for the resurgence of a civil war.  My spirit went to statesman General Aoun who said once the Syrian troops crossed the borders “Syria is now out of Lebanon.  I have no qualms with Syria anymore. This is the time to open a new page in our relations”.  This position stands in contrast to those who begged Syria for crumbs and privileges for 20 years and once Syria withdrew they refrained from normalizing relations with Syria; the fictitious excuses to antagonize Syria were dictated by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.  What kind of state leadership is that?

The election results of June 7, 2009 should fortify Lebanon as a Nation and project the image of a solid central government with serious reforms and changes to the archaic political system.  That are my wishes but I know the struggle will be long and protracted.  Sweet revolutions need time to mature in this diversified Lebanon.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

June 2009
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