Friday, April 15, 2005

The "Other" Perspective: Part II - Hizballah and the Maronites

March 8, Tuesday Rally by Hezbollah: pro-syria? Not really. It was more of a pro-Hezbollah rally if anything. Nasrallah didn't mention, in his speech, that he wanted the Syrians to stay in. In fact, the main theme of his speech was more a "thank you & good bye" tribute than anything else, as Annahar put it in its front page (ta7iyyat shokor wa wada3). In fact, the rally was called for only after asad
announced his plans to withdraw. The relatively late movement on hezbollah's behalf is despite (alleged?) secret requests/pleas from the Syrians for Hezbollah to launch a pro-syria parade long before having to withdraw.

One very important thing is that nasrallah didn't even mention Lebanese president lahoud. Hezbollah wasn't going to let bad allies and corrupt "friends" ruin its efforts. It was already being pushed to the front to defend and pay for 15 years of corruption which the others (from berry to joumblatt) benefited from. Suddenly, it became the sole representative of Syria in Lebanon, and that's one role it wouldn't play.

As a whole, Hezbollah involvement is now giving some room to the other, less popular shia party, amal, now that the situation calls for "dirty Lebanese politics" and little tricks of election laws, in which few are more skilled, or more willing to indulge, than nabih berry. The level of political practice deteriorates even further from Pierre gemmayel's "they threaten with quantity of people, but we have the quality" to michel murr's breaking heads "Taksir rouss" to gebran
tweini's describing the Hezbollah rally as sheep (ghanam), to walid eido's statement that "any level-headed person with any intelligence chooses the opposition,” etc….

March 14, Monday Rally by opposition: Huge crowd, Bahia Hariri's speech was excellent in Hezbollah terms, and distinguished the hariri family from the others in the opposition, who didn't necessarily like it that much, but still exercise great self-restraint when replying to it, in fear of losing the hariri supporters, and because the hariri family is still "above attacks" in the mourning period.

There is a prominent demand that the protestors wanted at some point, but the maronite opposition leaders were not willing to pursue fully: lahoud's resignation. There are many reasons for this, but the most obvious ones are the potential of a political gap and the size of the battle. A third, more subtle reason is highlighted by some analysts: the unwillingness of maronite leaders to jeopardize the presidency as an institution which guarantees the existence and role of maronites in Lebanon and the region. In many ways, this is inspired by Lebanon's first image as the "Christian home" or "Christian nation" in the arab
world. For a long time between the Lebanese "independence of 1943" and the civil war, this term stood for "maronite nation", or more precisely "nation of the maronites of mount Lebanon." This, almost like alawite Syria, was a minority role based on presidential dictatorship, in this case extremely well protected by the pre-war constitution. This maronite/Christian division was once quoted by the eloquent, though not so objective, sleiman franjieh, who said "the Christians on the outskirts of Lebanon (massi7iyi al-2a6raf) were not going to let the mountain maronites take them down with them." Sleiman is a maronite leader of the northern area of Zghorta. Another example along these lines is that Robert Fisk describes the Lebanese war as a conflict between the Maronites and everybody else.

When joumbaltt demanded that lahoud resign, the maronite patriarch sfeir answered that it was of low priority now. The answer was very swift, with joumblatt visiting Hezbollah secretary general nasrallah and "re-phrasing" his demands on most issues, in a way that made LBC, the most prominent opposition TV, include the visit and declaration as the first news item of the evening news, and question if he, as an opposition leader, was "allowed" to make such declarations. (hal min al-masmou7 li walid joumblatt 2an...?)

Comming up: the last of three parts - "What's Next?"

disclaimer: the above post is not my opinion. It is the opinion of a friend in Lebanon, who requested that I post his opinions. Please refer to my original post "The "Other" Perspective: A Primer" to get a clearer perspective of what is happening.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your buddy sounded a little more reasonable in Part I, he now sounds much less sophisticated and less lucid.

Intimating not-so-subtly that the pre-war Lebanese presidency was a dictatorship is silly. Quoting Robert Fisk on the war is even sillier.

Finally his analysis of the Hezbo huge demo is too sophisticated for his own good. Sophisticates and embassies will care what Nasrallah's speech said. What mots people remember was "Thx Syria (we love you)" and pictures of Lahoud and Bashar. A picture is worth a thousand words (in Lebanon and abroad).

JoseyWales

Raja said...

M,

if you're reading this, I'd really like it if you could build on the following:

"...Hezbollah wasn't going to let bad allies and corrupt "friends" ruin its efforts. It was already being pushed to the front to defend and pay for 15 years of corruption which the others (from berry to joumblatt) benefited from. Suddenly, it became the sole representative of Syria in Lebanon, and that's one role it wouldn't play."

My problem with this assessment is that if Hizballah was trying its best to convey the message that it was not Syria's sole representative in Lebanon, then it failed miserably! In short, hardly anyone believed it. If anything, that was a failure in "public" diplomacy.

However, one of the biggest mysteries of this whole mess, for me at least, is:

why did Hizballah sorround itself with the most crooked politicians in Lebanon? And, why did it stage that demonstration, which if anything, removed any notions of Hizballah as a national party rather than a Shi'a party?

Did it make such moves because of regional calculations? What motivated it to pay such a high price? What were Hizballah's "efforts"?

Anonymous said...

Josey,

Give Raja a break, after all his stellar commentary might have overlooked some realities but at least the message was on track. Wasn’t it?

Maybe our friend raja missed the fact that Patriarch Sfeir (head of the dreaded “fascist” “rightist” community) told Lahoud (to his face mind you) that as far as he was concerned, "firing" him was on the agenda of the opposition as soon as a new parliament takes shape.

Maybe our friend Raja missed the acrobatics that the whole of Lebanon is going through right now to prevent a governmental vacuum. Maybe the best thing to avert that vacuum is for the President to resign as well.

Maybe our friend Raja missed the numerous charges leveled by the Maronite community onto Lahoud that included Lahoud al alawi (Lahoud the Alawite), Lahoud el Irani (Lahoud the Iranian), etc.

Quoting Fisk when talking about the Maronites is like quoting Michael Moore when talking about the Republicans in the US.

Maybe our friend Raja should ask himself how can Fisk assert that the Lebanon war was a war “between the Maronites and everybody else” and at the same time (in the same book by the way) state that the Palestinians “suffered massacre after massacre at the hands of their enemies who turned out to be about everybody”.

Maybe our friend Raja is not aware of the Amal-Hizballah clashes, the Amal-Palestinian clashes, the Saiqa-Amal clashes, the Lebanese Army (Shiite soldiers)-Palestinian clashes, the PSP-Amal clashes, should I go on?

Maybe our friend Raja would be comforted with a Syrian, Iraqi, maybe Saudi or Sudanese type system of governance where non Muslims are afforded all of their rights, where non Muslims and non Arabs are “tolerated” under the liberal progressive system of dhimmitude.

Some people should stick to “kichik ou 2il2ess”; I’m sure my friend Raja will understand that reference. Leave writing to someone else homeboy.

Brad

Doha said...

Brad,

I think you've totally missed things. The entry that Raja posted is not Raja's; if you read in a previous entry, Raja said that he will posting in batches someone's thoughts about what's going on in Lebanon, a guy by the name of "M". I believe you should apologize to my blog buddy Raja for saying what you said about him. If you read his entries, you'll see that you perhaps both agree on most of the issues you broached in your comment. It seems Brad that you're new to this Lebanon blog sphere...Raja is well known in this community and respected.

Doha

Raja said...

brad,

please refer to a post titled: "The "Other" Perspective: A Primer" There I explain exactly what is going on here. I am going to put a disclaimer on this post... just so that no more misunderstandings take place.

thanks!

Anonymous said...

Indeed I am sorry Raja. I direct my criticisms to M. and I would hope that he can address my points.

Brad