Friday, June 17, 2005

The North: The Highlight of the Battle!

Truth is being revealed, my head tells me to type. All is being revealed. If it wasn't the most heated election round, the North and its candidates would have been always. But this time, every TV channel is scrambling to get as many candidates to say a word or two as possible in one show. Even someone who has not known much of the north, like Cedar Guardian of the Lebanese Political Journal, has decided to drive north to get a feel of things there and report it back in a blog post.

There is one good thing that came out of all of this: We as northerners got the chance for the first time to hear candidates we have gotten so accustomed to seing their pictures plastered all over the autostrade and walls of Tripoli but yet never heard them utter a word. And so you know how a name and a picture without words can evolve into something more than it is. There is this sort of aura that we build around the silence of a name and a face.

Yesterday on Marcel Ghanem's "Kalam Innass" I watched Samir Jisr and Ahmad Karami talk. It was the first time I hear A. Karami talk. I remember back in 1996 and 2000 when A. Karami ran for elections...I personally had a vague assumption that if he's running against his cousin Omar Karami, this means that he's the opposite. Little did I know...

Ahmad Karami, sadly enough, had nothing to say. He ducked every single question by being sarcastic or joking. Whenever he was asked about the list he's running under, he would talk about himself. Whenever he was asked about his alliance with Aoun and Franjieh, he would talk about his former alliance with the late Hariri. Whenever he was asked tough questions about Aoun or Hizbullah or Berri or 1559, he would ramble a bit before a paper is slipped to him under the camera (as he was being filmed from his home) and then he would start reading from it simple rhetoric with no point. And after a truely embarassing situation, Aoun called (perhaps to save the show) to counter Jisr's statements. Jisr was extremely polite and eloquent when talking to Aoun explaining to him his genuine efforts at helping the youth who were arrested during the August 7 riots; Aoun thanked him. And guess what? He didn't even say "Marhaba" to A. Karami, supposedly his ally?!!!?

What does this all say? First, A. Karami has nothing to add to our Parliament, nothing to our politics. And he's just like Omar Karami a hyper-localist (yet he couldn't explain how he's allying with Aoun in the same list, Aoun being from outside the north). It all sounded to me as if the "Sha'ib" list is not united. And I'm speculating that we might just see that A. Karami's supporters voting for him and crossing out everyone else.

Was Franjieh sure that he was making the right choice when he picked A. Karami to be the Sunni figure on the Sha'ib list? It seems to me that Aoun is relying on the Christian votes to float his candidates and Franjieh on the Christian and other loyalist supporters to vote for his candidates, because there is no way in my mind that A. Karami will even vote for the Sha'ib list "zay ma hiyye." He appeared totally going for it on his own yesterday night.

On the other hand, not only was Samir Jisr talking of his list as a whole (never about himself), but also the day before in another TV talk show, Ahmad Fatfat and Mosbah Ahdab (the latter being an independent.) They gave the same answer on the meaning behind their list, which shows cohesion, unity, and full commitment to support the other. Moreover, they all talk of their Lebanese Forces allies with great respect to help facilitate the much-aspired-to reconciliation, which many Sunnis might just be reluctant to do. I might have been fooled, but I see a list of candidates who are running on an equal footing (Takattol Traboulsi, Ahdab, Qornet Shehwan, Democratic Left, LF, and Future).

The FPM has a good chance in the first electoral district (Bsharri, Akkar, and Dinnieh), as many who are in the army and from Akkar (from all sects) are sympathetic to Aoun. Plus, I know for a fact that some candidates running in the "Sha'ib" list have supporters and are respected on both sides of the aisle, the likes of Mikhael Daher. So we might just see in the first district incomplete lists being cast in the ballot box.

Long time ago, the electoral race in the north used to be of a different feel. It was very local indeed, even when Hariri used to "bless" this list or that candidate. Now, there is the Aoun factor which has pushed the new Hariri not to only bless but also to take part and get his hands dirty in the whole election campaign. The north has become a battle scene so decisive to the country's future...the north for once feels like a part and parcel of the whole country...the north for once has become a highlight in the news, the newspapers, TV, blogs...I am glad. This all means that Lebanon is in good health. Amen!

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."


Mustapha said...

Well, i wanted to write a poste about the north, but you've taken it all from my mouth.

Indeed it feels great that the North is once again part of the Lebanese fabric. I personally blame the Syrians for isolating this part of lebanon from the rest, because they somehow assumed that the north is more Syrian than the rest of Lebanon and they want to keep it this way...

Very heartfelt Doha, but let me share with you an epiphany i got: Hariri&Co will get 28 out of 28 seats in the North.

The signs are everywhere, I just hope that people won't fill the media with the jiberish they did after hariri won beirut in 2000. Stuff like "earthquake" and "surprise storm" are going to be boring before they are even written.

Anton Efendi said...

Doha, Aoun is only fielding four candidates in the north. Period. This is clearly an alliance of convenience in order to have a complete list. He's not fielding Sunni candidates for the North. He's trying to get these four candidates in order to be the only Maronite MP with 18 seats, thus making him the strongest Maronite leader in Parliament.

This is why I predicted he will lose in the North. There might be places where it might be close, and the LF is a gamble for Hariri because many northerners have a long history with them. But they will be mobilized, and Aoun doesn't have the machine of Murr-Tachnag to back him there (I don't think Issam Fares will make too much of a difference, but Akkar is one place where it could be close).

Anton Efendi said...

I just wish the South could've experienced what the North is experiencing. That was also Samir Qassir's wish. Too bad everyone boycotted and the opposition cut that deal with the duopoly, and did help the other runners.

Anton Efendi said...

By the way guys, I lived in Koura for two lovely years, so I do have a thing for the North!

Anton Efendi said...

"and DIDN'T help the other runners" (sorry)

Anton Efendi said...

I might have been fooled, but I see a list of candidates who are running on an equal footing (Takattol Traboulsi, Ahdab, Qornet Shehwan, Democratic Left, LF, and Future).

I think you're right. And that's the difference, as opposed to Solange and George Adwan and Edmond Naim!! Clear?! Had they accepted to field truly representative candidates, perhaps they could've avoided Aoun's breakthrough. They patronized and they lost. Here they can't and they didn't, so they'll win.

Anton Efendi said...

By the way, and this will be my final comment, I promise (!), regardless of how we feel about Aoun, what you called the Aoun factor was in the end a good thing as it brought true competition and made these election look more legitimate and real. Ghassan Tueni, to his credit, appreciated that as well.

Raja said...

I agree with you on that one tony... And great post Doha!

Cedar-Guardian said...

Great work on the North Doha! Thanks also for the link to my "trip" ..:)

I watched Ahmed Karamé, and i share your thoughts about him. I still remember his so-called "jokes" (the coffee vs. corn flakes!! complete nonsense!!)
Yesterday, i saw another Tripolitan candidate on the Aoun/Frangié list, Mr. (Nawwaf i think?) Kabbara; he seemed far better and more intelligent and politically mature than A. Karamé! Moustapha Allouche (LF-Mustaqbal list) was not that convincing on the other hand.
As for the 2 maronite candidates (for a seat that should not exist by the way!!), they are both "parachute candidates"- FPM and democratic left. If i were a Tripolitan, i would have only voted for Mussbah Ahdab, the Takattol, Samir Jisr and.... Najib Mikati (if he wasn't PM!) all the rest is not convincing at all!!!

Charles Malik said...

I thought you were from Metn. Or does your family just live there?