Thursday, April 9, 2009

Snapshots of Lebanon's Nutshells

Snapshots of Lebanon's nutshells.
Saad gets three because, well, because he's Saad

While I gather thoughts and facts about Iran, which will take some time, and on the occasion of the cataclysmic, do or die, life or death, watershed June parliamentary elections in Lebanon, here are a few helpful lines on this Switzerland of the Middle East. Mind you, if you are desperate to take this country seriously, there are plenty of serious analyses out there waiting desperately for someone like you. But if you have been rehabilitated, this post, as untidy as it necessarily has to be, should be more than enough for you.

Exchange between Marwan Hmadeh and Michel Aoun on March 19, 2009--but before that, some necessary introductions:

Michel Aoun: ex-general; perennial presidential candidate; ex (as in many years ago)-psychiatric patient (he’s feeling much better now); ex-nemesis of Syria, current friend of Syria; Christian leader (75% of the Christian vote in the 2005 parliamentary elections); ex-enemy and now ally of Hezbollah.

Marwan Hmadeh: a Druze leader, man of Walid Jumblatt (the Druze leader); ex-man of Syria; one of the late (by assassination) Rafiq Hariri’s enablers/friends; now hero of March 14, which supporters dub as an enlightened, progressive, non-sectarian and democratic coalition; anti-Syria man; Saad (the son) Hariri’s enabler/friend.

Hezbollah: as per its own description, a tiger of a Shiite, Lebanese, nationalist, Islamist but non-sectarian, black but pastel, resistant of a political party, which also happens to be—according to the precise words of Hassan Nassrallah--a “proud soldier in the army of Wilayat al Faqih”(you know what that is, don’t you?).
Hmadeh about Aoun:

“The General wants to liquidate the political and intellectual legacy of Jubran Tueni (Hmadeh’s nephew) and return Ashrafieh to Syrian custodianship.”

Time out: Tueni, an ally of Aoun back when the General was at war with Syria, was assassinated three years ago, and his 26-year old daughter Nayla is running for his old seat in Ashrafieh, East Beirut, as a March 14 candidate. God rest his soul, I knew Jubran to be many things, but that intellectual bit would probably have surprised him just as much as it surprised the rest of us.

Back to Hmadeh’s quote:

“…the one thing that ties them together (Aoun, Hezbollah and Nabih Berri’s Amal movement) is their alliance with Syria, first and foremost, and some of them with Iran.”
Aoun about Hmadeh:

“With regards to the statement issued by the sick man who was kicked out of the beik’s garden in the mountain; the godfather of strife and traps and conspiracies, who turned the politics of recklessness and the planting of divisions in people’s souls into a profession; the boy scout to occupations and custodianships; the expert in squandering the political legacy of Jubran Tueni, we need to ask if Marwan Hmadeh is the spokesperson for the Metn (mountain) and Ashrafieh? Because if he is, then without a doubt time is about to come to an end.”
Sami Gemayel, 29-year old son of Amin Gemayel, ex-president of Lebanon (other qualities are just too difficult to quantify), brother of the late (by assassination) Pierre Gemayel; Metn candidate of the Phalange Party, one of Lebanon’s early experiments with Christian fascism and current member of the enlightened, progressive, non-sectarian and democratic March 14 coalition:

“Consensus contradicts the principle of democracy…There is no Sunni-Christian or Shiite-Christian or Druze-Christian project. There is only a Christian-Christian project.” April 4, 2009, Al Hayat Newspaper.
Saad al Hariri (son of the late Rafiq; current sheikh of the Sunnis; aziz (as in the dear one) of Azouz, son of the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia; the big guy in the enlightened, progressive, non-sectarian and democratic March 14 coalition, to whom everyone goes for monetized blessings) inaugurated last month the nursing school at the American University of Beirut (AUB), for which his father was the main donor. Receiving him was the Board of Trustees and the new American President of AUB. Accompanying him was the usual orchestra of cheerleaders-cum-hooligans-cum-thugs that have been accompanying all respect-starved Lebanese politicians since modern Lebanon was born on that precious day in 1920. After every other line uttered, the gents erupted into applause and shouts: “Saad w bass”-- Saad and only Saad. They must have been on to us, because one Saad is about all we can handle.

But the most beautiful moments during the speech came when Saad stopped every once in a while to have a sip of water. “SAHTAIN,” would thunder from the back of the room after each gulp--a double good health, but unfortunately for Saad w bass.

Check out clauses 1&3 in the agreement that was drafted between Hezbollah and certain groups within the Lebanese Salafi (as in extremely Sunni) current in August 2008, a few months after Hezbollah crashed through many of Lebanon’s red lines.

The Salafis, under pressure from other Sunni groups (including Saad w bass), withdrew from the agreement the day after it was announced. For assistance in catching all the nuances packed into the clauses, look for the underlined crucial parts.

Clause 1: “Based on the sacredness of a Muslim’s blood, we forbid any attack by any Muslim group against another Muslim group…”

There was not a peep from the normally voluble Aoun about where exactly that would leave Christian blood. Maybe he felt his own sacredness was guarantee enough.

Clause 3: “To stand in the face of the American-Zionist project whose most important tool is inflaming sectarian divisions and fractioning the fractioned and dividing the divided.”

Now does all this not evoke the evocable and goosebump the goosebumpable?