Saturday, April 16, 2005

The "Other" Perspective: Part III - Whats Next?

This is the last of three parts of "the other perspective". For those of you who are just now joining the show, I highly recommend that you read the first post "The 'Other' Perspective: A primer." I'd like to remind everyone that these words come from a friend who currently resides in Beirut. For professional reasons requested to remain anonymous, and thus, is referred to as "M". Please read the "Primer" to understand why I have done this; and at least read the introduction that "M" wrote in part I to better understand his own intentions and convictions.



So, what's next?

Economically, and as long as the standoff continues, the attrition for all is very high, and the opposition will lose momentum. I'm not sure of this, but I hear that this is especially true when it comes to sunni support of the opposition, as sunni capitalists supposedly have the most to lose if downtown continues to be closed. This may be true in terms of shares owned by sunnis in solidere, a predominantly hariri thing which most others tended to boycott at first. But I don't think it's very true when it comes to the shops, as many are owned by Shiites and Christians. Also, despite being an economic power, the
sunnis are not the only ones suffering from the country's current stagnation, so I don't think this will play much of a role.

The elections will eventually take place. It remains the strongest bargaining item against the opposition: berry told joumblatt that the elections will take place when "things cool down". For the opposition, "cooling down" means losing momentum, and credibility, because they are still using the thrust of their parading, and hope to do so till they reach a peak around election time, in which case they expect to win most seats. This is why they still insist not to start any dialogue till after the elections. They expect to be in a better
position to bargain then. Hezbollah, the main side calling for comprehensive dialogue, has announced it is willing to even negotiate its own status as an armed movement. They see the opposition's delaying of dialogue not only as an anticipation of more bargaining
power, but also an over-dependence on an assumed "international" cover (mainly the US and France). This image was created when a formal declaration by the maronite church called on the Lebanese to "benefit from the international thrust for freedom". The question, should such a cover exist, is whether it will continue to the end or just leave the opposition in mid battle the way it did when the Americans gave up on the armed rebellion in iraq in the early nineties, in the middle of its first attack.

Also the election law will be passed by the current parliament and its majority of 70 "syrian soldiers" as the opposition puts it (formerly 71. ali khalil died in a car accident last week). Each opposition leader is calling for a different law, as fits their status. It is also surprising to see general aoun supporting the authority's suggestion for relative representation with the mohafaza as the electoral precinct/zone/division. (I need a precise translation of da2era 2intakhibiah, but u get the idea, right?)

One more thing about the elections is that they will split the opposition even more when maronite sides have to divide the seats among themselves, and with joumblatt, if he remains their ally that long. The best examples are "joumblatt's" maronite seats in the southern mountain, and the maronite seats in kesserouan, where most of the opposition leaders will be running. I find it hard to imagine that aoun, whose supporters already expect a sweeping victory there, will allow others, mostly old enemies and much less representative, to run (and name candidates) as equals. I also think the relation with the
Lebanese forces will be a very decisive factor here. The "smartest" thing for the president to do would be to release the Lebanese forces leader samir geagea in the right time. This is either before the election to create a real crash between him and aoun over the seats,
or just after the elections, rendering most of the opposition's elected MP's virtually useless and un-representative, as geagea is expected to regain great popularity among maronites.

So the latest joumblatt declaration is to ask the opposition to start working on their electoral lists and divide the seats now. He's anticipating the problem. There was huge intra-opposition divide in the last week over the elections of the syndicate of engineers. The aounist free patriotic movement withdrew from the opposition block. The result? Victory of: samir doumit, backed by Hezbollah, hariri's future movement, aoun's "tayyar", and the "pro-syrians". Imad wakim, the Lebanese forces candidate backed by joumblatt and some leftists, failed.

Relation with the US: The new ground for settling regional politics is Iraq, not Lebanon. It is still a place where the Syrians and Iranians can hurt America a lot, each through different Iraqi sides. If they feel they are next, and they certainly do, they will react soon.

As for Hezbollah, read the daily star's article on nasrallah's latest speech. The link is


ThinkingMan said...

I finally read the long winded Mr. M commentary and I couldn't help but feel a level of disdain for the fact that some people revel in explaining, analyzing and fabricating all kinds of very convoluted machinations of Lebanese politics...and people talk about that stuff and participate in such analysis so seriously.
If what M says is even half-true, it shows how Lebanese politics are still murky, sick, manipulative and backwards.
I didn't hear anything about the "Good of Lebanon" in all of these political acrobatics. It was like reading a bad nightmare. So, it's all about who is going to put one over the other at the last minute, or behind their back, or in their face, or how power will shift two inches to this way or the other way, or that they didn't mean what they said but they said it anyways, etc.
We need to "CLEANSE" our minds from this kind of talk. I wished that these same politicians applied their "creativity" to solve the country's real problems in areas such as economic, social, cultural and government services.

Thanks Raja for bringing reality to this by sharing your friend's comments. They represent usual narrow minded analysis that is so typical to those that have been brainwashed by local politics and can't see the BIG picture anymore. We don't need to complicate the situation anymore, or we will stay like this for the next 30 years. It can be very simple if we wanted to:
Syria is out, and Lebanese are in. Democracy will reign, and corruption will stop. Let us build a new Lebanon, period.

There is something else that worries a lot in Mr M's comments. He rained on the parade of these brave young people at Martyr's square. Why? What was the basis for these comments? Raja- please ask him. Was it his opinion or was it based on the hypothetical analysis that he put forward? I sure hope that this isn't true:
"I fear that in many ways, the end results of the movement will shock them, disgust them and make many of them doubt the idealism of youth which now moves so many of them. Following this disappointment, many of them will go back to not dealing with politics...The others will just lose most of their perfectionism and adopt the stereotypes of their ancestors, really blowing the chance we have now for change."

In can see the glass half-full or half-empty. Mr M was definitely a pessimist in his views, and I do not want him to pollute my optimism.

Anonymous said...

Thanks thinkingman and triple AMEN.

I too am not impressed with M, and find him focused on the small picture. Petty, very petty.

Sure. the idealism of youth will fade, it is called maturity and does not have to turn into cynicism or jadedness.


Raja said...


you are right... Lebanese politics is a nightmare!

I like M! His personal traits are impecable: he is honest, hard-working, modest and friendly.

The unfortunate reality is that too many of my friends - including M - are, in a way, forced to look at politics through the sectarian lens. A lot of times, I even need to force myself to step out of that paradigm! The fact that I'm all the way in the States helps, but it still takes an effort!

The reason I put M's e-mail up was because I had a personal curiosity with how "the other side" percieved developments in Lebanon, and also sensed a similar curiosity in the blogosphere.

However, now that all three parts of M's analysis have been posted, I realized that some more good has come out of it: his raw and detailed analysis is a window through which we can all see lebanese politics at its best!

It should motivate all of us to try even harder to change things - M, I'm also talking to you buddy!

ThinkingMan said...

Raja- Please don't take offence for your good friend M; I am sure he is a good man, and I thank him and appreciate his time to email his thoughts to us.

But his reflections are typical of many others who only see the small picture (as Anonymous said). I don't care if you call it's more like surreality, bordering on the absurd.
If more Lebanese were to get out of the country for a few months and live in a Western country for a few months, and read only Western newspapers and interact with Western society only, just for a few months...then they will appreciate a bit more what is good and what is bad about Lebanon.
Not to pad myself or people like me on the back, but having been abroad for a while (but with very frequent visits to the homeland) gives you a new perpective and makes you a bit wiser about things.
Politics have to change in Lebanon!!! If we keep doing what we've been doing, we'll keep getting what we've been getting- and that...we don't want anymore.

Raja said...

couldn't agree with you more, TM