Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Nasr Allah Sfeir

Chant for the dead: Tesh Bohto’l Moryo

Has the State of Lebanon to be “officially” re-confirmed every year?

Normal people get scared with rumors of incoming anarchy; people get very apprehensive when society verges on chaos.  The Lebanese people, (since their “formal independence” in 1943 from French colonialist mandated power, and then approved and recognized by the UN in 1946) have been living a continuous series of Hitchcock ‘s kinds of scary and harrowing movies.

The genius of Hitchcock, in keeping audience totally riveted to the screen, is that he understood the psychic of normal people for aversion to situations going out of hand from normal expectations.  After over 74 years of formal recognition by the UN as a State, Lebanon is still not sure of having acquired a real and long-lasting independence and permanent recognition as a State.

For example, almost every year, the States with veto power in the UN such as US, Russia, China, France, and England feel the need to convey the good news to the Lebanese that the decision is to safeguard the independence of Lebanon and its autonomy!

Every now and then, Lebanon has been under formal mandate since its independence in 1943.  From 1943 to 1952 Lebanon was supervised by France (all the main first level positions in public service and the government formal political guidelines were to be pre-approved by French government); from 1952 to 1959 it was the turn of England to controlling Lebanon’s “independence”.  From 1959 to 1970 it was Egypt of Gamal Abdel Nasser that had the annoying duty to guiding and training Lebanon to proper political attitudes.  From 1971 to 1977  this job was leased to Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.  From 1977 to 1982 it was the turn of Syria’s Hafiz Assad to shoulder that burden.  From 1982 to 2002 Israel cooperated with Syria to re-direct Lebanon’s fundamental political guidelines.  From 2000 to 2005 it was Syria’s Bashar Assad sole affair to controlling Lebanon with the total support of the USA.  From 2005 to 2008 it was the coalition of the USA and Saudi Arabia to oversee Lebanon’s newer political positions.  From 2008 to 2010 it is the consortium of the US, Saudi Arabia and Syria to calm the anxieties of the Lebanese “citizens” of the possibility of total anarchy.

The Lebanese are getting used to foreign interference in their internal affairs: the Lebanese are very “understanding” of the rationales of foreign interests in Lebanon.  Last week, Lebanon witnessed the visits of at least five international and regional Head of States, Prime Ministers, and Foreign affairs ministers.  All these dignitaries had a single message to convey to our “leading” political figures:  Israel and the US mean business by their threats of waging another pre-emptive war on Lebanon if Hezbollah is not contained (meaning satisfying UN Resolution 1701).  All those delegates are apprehensive of Hezbollah’s acquiring performing missile systems that can hit Tel Aviv.

It is the same threats that the US effectively got under way in 2006 by ordering Israel to contain Hezbollah in launching a pre-emptive war that lasted 33 days.  The US and Israel, and many “moderate” Arab heads failed miserably in their purpose and this embarrassing war strengthened Hezbollah position and hold on Lebanon’s political system.

The Lebanese are very “understanding” of foreign States meddling in their internal affairs:  Our sectarian and “comprador” political and social system didn’t change for 8 decades.  Lebanon has 18 formally recognized religious sects; the hierarchy of each sect is vying for the support of a foreign State in order to maintain their “shares” in the spoil at the expense of the general benefit of the population.

We have a “Constitution” that describes the procedures and dates for elections and the forming of governments and Parliament.  The dates or schedules for elections (municipal and Parliament) are called “Istehkakate”; neither the dates nor the procedures have been applied in the last 30 years.

Lebanon experienced living without a President for the Republic for many years and at many instances; Lebanon survived living without Prime Ministers many times and for long duration; Lebanon lived under two Prime Ministers more than once; Lebanon lived under three formal Lebanese armies, and salaries paid on time by a “central government”.  Lebanon survived situations of not having recognized governments; Lebanon survived the last 5 years without any government budget: Seniora PM hoarded the decisions of half a dozen ministries and allocated funds as he pleased.  These situations were welcomed by Lebanese as excellent good luck: huge burdens were removed off their shoulders having to sustain redundant governments.

Lately, the sectarian political leaders used the “Constitutional” dates for elections as excuses to circumvent needed political and social reforms.  Yes, our leaders lacked the time to study (extra deeper) the required reforms such election laws, proportional election system, eligibility of voters above 18 of age, women enjoying the same rights as men to extending citizenship to their offspring, instituting civil marriages, and so on.

Last day, a marginal leader of a Maronite political party was upset with the President of the Republic.  Why? The President re-iterated his support for Hezbollah as a national resistance, along side the army against the aggressions of Israel as the government has stated when formed last year.  Samir Geagea does not like this “strategic plan” for defending Lebanon and lambasted the President as “emulating the Maronite priests chanting for the dead “Tesh Bohto’l Moryo.”  The Maronites have a very ancient Patriarch; Nasr Allah Sfeir (not Hassan) has been chanting Tesh Bohto’l Moryo for over 30 years now; Sfeir is very upset with the US for attempting normal diplomatic relations with Syria.

At every “Constitutional requirement” Lebanese get into a Hitchcock psychic; waiting in terror that anarchy might soon befall Lebanon.  Every time a syndicate or a movement decide for demonstrations the Lebanese await the horrors of a recurring civil war.  Nothing goes smoothly and constitutionally in Lebanon.  Yes, we have plenty of freedom for lack of any serious government, but Lebanon is democratic by name.  And yet, Lebanon is currently officially the head of the UN Council ready to manage world’s problems.

One thing I know, which all Lebanese share in their hearts and minds, is that without the power and steadfastness of Hezbollah’s resistance to Israel aggression,  no foreign heads or dignitaries would have visited Lebanon:  They could as easily dictate orders by e-mails.

The political system in Lebanon must in a couple of years extend serious reforms and put food on the tables.  Otherwise, guillotine will be installed to absolve years of famine, humiliation, and indignities.  After the 2006 war, the Lebanese have regained confidence in their values as citizens with equal rights as any sovereign State under the sun. Lebanese spies and foreign agents who worked to destabilize Lebanon will be hanged. Spying to “friendly” neighboring States or to powerful “friendly” States must experience the same sentences:  Friendly States can receive all the intelligence they need from official government agencies, but common citizens should not: period.

Note 1: The topic of the analogy of Lebanese as addicted audiences to Hitchcock horror movies was borrowed from the Lebanese journalist Samir Atallah.

Note 2: Currently, the Lebanese are grabbed by rumored fears that any civil war in Syria has got to overlap to Lebanon.  That would be very probable, if not for the strength of the Lebanese army and Hezbollah to checking any full-fledged civil war.  Yet, it does not take that much to ignite the fire of another civil war in Lebanon.

Beware of the senile stubbornness of an 88 year-old Patriarch; (Nov. 4, 2009)

A serious conclave of all Christian sects (heretic or not) in the Middle East is required.

First some history is needed to set the background.  The Christian Maronite sect was considered heretic by both the Orthodox Church of the Byzantium Empire and by Papal Rome.  The Maronites were monotheists (One God; not three as of Father, Son, and Virgin Mary) and also they believed in only the spiritual existence of Jesus not his physical nature.  Thus, this sect was persecuted by two strong Empires with central Churches.

When the Crusading forces entered the Near East after sacking Constantinople, on their way to Jerusalem in 1100, the Maronite sect decided to pay allegiance to the Pope.  Thus, this sect was saved from being labelled a heretic sect, doomed for constant persecution, and enjoyed the military and political backing of Rome.

This sect has migrated to the northern mountains of Lebanon after the schism of the year 1000 between Rome and Byzantium, and the subsequent major massacres of the “heretic” Christian sects.  Since then, the Maronite sect obeyed the decisions of the central Catholic Church of Rome, both the spiritual and temporal.

The Church of Rome  was the main temporal decision maker in Europe, and thus the Maronite Church facilitated the infiltration of colonial establishments as trade centers, first in Sidon and then to Beirut, to the French and the Italians.  The British and Russia established also commercial centers in Lebanon and had to circumvent the Maronite influence by encouraging respectively Protestantism and the Russian Christian Orthodoxy.

During the civil war of Lebanon (1975-1991), the Catholic Church proved to be mostly impotent to end the war that relegated the Maronite to the third political power, instead of the first since the independence of Lebanon. It also happened during the civil war that a new Patriarch was to be elected. Rome selected her favorite Bishop and the Christian militias selected their own. No Patriarch could be elected after four rounds of secret voting. Thus, Nasr Allah Sfeir was elected to overcome the impasse.

Since then, Patriarch Sfeir made it a personal vendetta to counter Rome’s interference in the Maronite decisions when opportunities knocked.  This Patriarch was openly favorable to the Lebanese Forces militia during the civil war and going even stronger now.  It is to be noted that the current leader of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Jaajah, is the officially a convicted murderer a spent 11 years in prison.

Jaajah was politically liberated in 2005 after serving 11 years in prison for assassinating prime ministers, many officials, and running a state within a state, a forming his own court martial tribunals.

Currently, Lebanon is at an impasse: the appointed Sunni Deputy Saad Harriri (with the largest block in Parliament) was to form a unity government five months ago; he failed, delivered his resignation, and was then re-appointed with a mere 72 vote out of 124; Harriri has no success so far to forming a unity government.

Patriarch Sfeir would like us to believe that the majority should form a government so that Lebanon could enjoy a democratic system of parliamentary opposition. Sound sweet to the ears of the non-initiated western politicians on Lebanese political system.

First, the new Taef Constitution, enacted in 1989 during Lebanon’s civil war, striped the Maronite President of major rights and forced upon the Lebanese a system of fair representation by the major religious sects in any government.  Now the Chiaa, the majority in Lebanon (forming more than 45%) of the population), are in the opposition; if they refuse to participate in a government then the President cannot abrogate a government devoid of any Chiaa ministers commensurate to their ratio.

Thus, a unity government is a must to form any government constitutionally.

Patriarch Sfeir know that formula but he is trying relentlessly to put obstacles to the formation of a unity government under the guise of “democratic practices”.  The other problem is that the new Parliament has no longer a majority of Deputies:  Since the election in June, the 8 Druze Deputies of Walid Jumblatt have taken a neutral position, and thus denied the previous majority any claim to current majority.  This fact also, the Patriarch is happy to forget and resumes his senile stubbornness.

What is in line to the Christians in the Middle East? How to go from here?  Since the Christians of all affiliations are confirmed minorities in every States in the Middle East,  I suggest that all Christian sects (heretic or not) existing in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Turkey meet in a formal conclave to decide on fundamental programs of administrative and executive assemblies to regaining their rights as minorities.

It is totally irrelevant to dwell on abstract dogma, but to find pragmatic common denominators for feasible detailed programs for survival as a culture.

I sincerely feel that the major Christian sect of “Roum Orthodox” (over 7 millions in the Near East) change their name:  This name reflects allegiance to a long defunct Byzantium Empire (and current Greece is not a proper political or spiritual substitute). The same will go to all sects paying allegiance in their names so that Christianity in the Middle East reflects a patriotic feeling of belonging to a specific people and nation.

It is urgent that a unity executive body with wide range of power be confident to quickly and swiftly preempt any laws that might restrict their fundamental rights, or encourage other religious sects to gaining rights not proportional to their numbers.

Note:  Three years after publishing this article, Patriarch Sfeir was pressured to resign by Rome (he is over 88 years), and a new more opened minded Patriarch was elected.  It is rumored that Rome knew that Sfeir encouraged the US government of G.W.Bush to resume the war on Lebanon in June 2006, after 33 days of terrible Israeli devastation of our country.

Let us try an honorific Caliphate for the Presidency of the Republic. (written in Dec. 10, 2007)

I described in a previous article the responsibilities of the President to the Republic after the Taif Constitution to be mostly honorific and that the Christian Maronite sectarian caste has devalued to third in rank after the Moslem Sunny and Chi3a castes.

In my article “Who care for the office of President to the Republic” I foresaw that this office is no longer that practically essential, and if it was left vacant for a while then no immediate disaster will befall Lebanon.

Former President Emile Lahoud kept threatening that he will not permit the Seniora PM government to administer the Republic after he leaves the Palace.

Well, Lahoud vacated silently and surreptitiously on November 23rd with no decisions how the State should be managed.  And the office has been vacant since then, and the Palace closed to visitors, even to tourists whom forgot to visit Lebanon this year also. And the government resumed its course…

In Lebanon caste system, the Moslem political leaders were the real leaders of their respective castes, and their appointed clergies were basically the mouthpiece, and usually cover their current political leaders for unity.

The reverse is happening for the Maronite caste: historically and for centuries the Maronite clergy tried to control its political leaders and evinced them in crucial events, even fomenting the peasants to revolt against their feudal Christian lords.  Presently, the Maronite caste is split between two political leaders, Michel Aoun of the Tayyar party and Samir Geaja of the Lebanese Forces.

Although the current Maronite Patriarch, Nasr Allah Sfeir, had been burned more than once before, after nominating candidates to the Republic and being turned down, he slipped again: he could not help but to follow the suggestion of the European emissaries to form a list of eligible candidates, which he did to the outcry of all the potential Maronite candidates.

General Michel Aoun sent the Patriarch and the Council of the Bishops emissary after emissary warning them not to meddle in the political process for the election of a Maronite President to the Republic to no avail.  General Aoun was prompted to clarify who is the de-facto political Patriarch for the Maronite caste.

Within Lebanon caste system General Aoun is the political Patriarch of the Maronite; not only for the number of Maronite deputies in the Parliament that represent his party but also because of his clear and transparent views and because he has proved that he stands undaunted against all odds and pressures from the West and the media dominated by the government allies.

Just tonight, General and deputy Aount has announced to the Lebanese to enjoy the Adha and Christmas Holidays in peace and security because there will be no election for a President until after the vacation.  General Aoun is adamant that no election will take place before a political comprehensive understanding has been agreed upon by the government’s allies and the opposition forces.

Democracies in the developed States might view these preconditions as anathema, but Lebanon is not a democratic States: Lebanon is a caste political system, not constitutionally but according to an ancient National Pact of 1943, and governed by accord among the main castes.

If the ancient and old Maronite Patriarch is overwhelmed by events, and just administering the political situation through Sunday speeches at mass and forming lists of potential candidates, the political Patriarch Aoun is much more aware of the weak position of the Maronites at this phase of the game and wants to re-establish the real responsibilities and duties to the position of the President.

The successive troika or triumvirate rulers (late Rafik Hariri, Nabih Berri, and Elias Hrawi) of Lebanon from 1993 to 2003 are not to the advantage of the people: It is an oligarchic mechanism for splitting the spoils of the treasury among the political leaders of five basic castes.

Practically, in this Lebanon caste system, even a strong President with sufficient backing in the Parliament is bound to get immersed in troika ruling of the State for the economy to move forward and important laws to be passed.

The difference between a weak President with no substantial deputy backing and a strong President is a matter of quantitative advantages but no qualitative jump for long lasting security and stability.

The main qualitative advantage of a strong President is to using the Presidential pulpit to politically educating the citizens with frankness, facts and firm stands for what is right and honorable. General Aoun has proven to have the qualifications of a strong qualitative President.

People justify our recurring political instabilities to the complex trades among the leaders and castes for prime offices.  Our system is not that complicated at all: it is plainly pretty simple and lazy. If we try permutations to the prime offices among the castes then we may applaud our boldness to experiment with fairness and confidence as a people.

Maybe before Lebanon experiment with an alternative political system that is more in affinity with Western democracies let us try a few permutations on our current system. Let the Presidency be the honorific position of Caliphate in permutation among the Koraichi Sunny, the Abbasi Chiite and Wahhabi Khawariji and then let the Christian castes experiment with the functions of Prime Minister in permutation among their castes.

We might be lacking political rationality after recognizing that our caste system is not functional and still persist in our short-shortsightedness for lack of courage to change and experiment for a working alternative.

At least, if we were a vital people we would have applied the trial and error method; whatever errors might results from our endeavors it wouldn’t be as nefarious as the calamities befalling us since our Independence in 1943.

Note:  The army general for operation, Francois Hajj, was assassinated in B3abda.  General Hajj was the strongest candidate to replace Michel Suleiman as head of the army in case general Suleiman was selected for president to the Republic.  Deputy Michel Aoun warned that this assassination might be covered up by the government as the dozen other assassinations.

We have two major vacancies to fill for important offices now and it appears that our political and security situation is exacerbated and our holidays are shot.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

July 2020
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