Saturday, February 11, 2006

Aoun's historic miscalculation, and more...

He thinks that he can get Hizballah to bend to his will, but he will fail. Hizballah is not a Lebanese institution, it is an Islamic - Shi'a institution. It is religious, not secular in its outlook. It sees itself as much larger than Lebanon, and will not cave into Lebanese pressures, whatever they amount to. Hizballah's world view is Islamic, not modern. Modern boundaries mean nothing to it... Religious boundaries mean everything. If Aoun thinks that he possesses the capabilities to disarm Hizballah, he is wrong. They are using him to break the unanimous pressure they were under. They will buy time, and foment more divisions. They seek a reality similar to that which existed when Syria was present... one in which those calling for their disarmament are in the fringe of politics. God knows, they appear to be succeeding.

What Aoun does not understand is that he is helping one of two mutually exclusive visions for Lebanon. He is propping up the vision of Lebanon that places it in the forefront of conflict with Israel. He is propping up the vision that sacrifices individual freedoms for the sake of war. He is propping up the vision that sacrifices economic prosperity for the sake of perpetual conflict. He must understand the price that Lebanon is going to pay for his political ambitions and coalitions.

The Historic miscalculation of secular Shi'as

I wish the Shi'as had a sectarian (non-religious) alternative that they could offer their allegiance to. Ideally, all of us could get a secular alternative that we, whatever our sect, could offer our allegiance to; but alas, we are not in an ideal world. Berri is simply too corrupt and self-serving to offer a viable alternative to Hizballah. Indeed it is precisely because of those weaknesses that he has become an appendage of Hizballah.

Secular Shi'as must understand that Hizballah's vision is to vanquish their secularism. Hizballah is an Islamic party that is totalitarian. Its agenda is not just political, but social. It seeks to impose its form of social order on all Shi'as. Hizballah is not merely a sectarian party - it is a religious one.

Are all Shi'as who offer their support to Hizballah willing to give up their personal freedoms in order to prescribe to Hizballah's world-view and social order? I think not. But if that is the case, then why do my secular Shi’a friends continue to support it? Sectarianism, of course! Hizballah is the pride of the shi’a community. But if these friends really fully comprehended Hizballah’s agenda, I am sure they would cease supporting it! In fact, they would oppose it! I hope they eventually come to their senses.


why-discuss said...

What you seem to overlook is that the Hezbollah and the Shias in general have a more coherent and progressive view of the social order in Lebanon( whether you agree with it or not) then the cacaphonia we hear from most of the sunnis, druzes and christians leading this country. In addition they are united and don't insult each other. If you wish to counteract their influence, try to convince les Jumblatt, les Hariri, les Geagea to unite and offer another alternative view of the social order, any view. All we see is impotent indignation and empty rhetoric.

frencheagle said...

since u re talking about religion,
the shiits interpret, the sunnit are applying without interpreting

since we have this huge difference, the hezbollah might accept to give up its weapons
the future wont ever accept they are wrong.

or you have to forget that religous perception or there is something wrong in this kind of logic

Raja said...

why discuss, I'll give you coherent, but progressive??? Hizballah has one thing going for it: it is not a traditional entity - in fact, Hizballahis have built a modern organization and simply covered it with an Islamic viel. In that sense the organization itself is progressive.

However, to claim that the social order Hizballah propagates is a progressive one is, to say the least, wishfull thinking (I would say, insane).

Notions of freedom of speech, individualism, womens' rights, freedom of conscience, and all other freedoms and rights that the modern world has brought to humanity are non-existent in Hizballah's social order. Is that progressive?

Nadine said...

Raja I think you wrote sectarian instead of secular in the first line of the third to last paragraph....

Lebanon's problem has always been that it cannot provide public services to all of its people. Nor are people that interested it seems...I've never read anything on this blog about violence against women, the gay community, tuborculosis in lebanon. If you pull out a United Nations or WHO report, you would see that Lebanon is far behind other Arab nations like Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar socially when that wasn't the case for obvious reasons 20 years ago.

I bring this point up because a socially stable; ie education, human rights, public services, health etc etc societies would not be affected by sectarian strife as often as we are. If the government had in the past succeeded in providing social services to the Shia communities of Lebanon, then Hizballah would not have gained as much support....religious zeal in the ME is often a product of socioeconomic frustration. The govnt needs to compete with Hiz on a social level to eliminate support for the party...but they are to focused on balance of power issues as usual, distracted from improving society.

I was doing some research for a conference I'm attending in June for Arab and Arab-American women to gather and discuss issues pertaining to women in our societies, and socially Lebanon is not to doing to well. It is ailing as far as our standards are concerned.... It would be nice for you guys to focus on our declining social situation...we are getting worse and worse by the year and as we do, you'll see more people becoming frustrated and irrational and this frustration will come out as sectarian strife more often. I recommend you read the United Nations reports on gender issues in the mideast. The sad thing is that Lebanese are given more freedoms then other arabs to act to improve our social situation, to mobilize and to protest...but do people get on the streets to protest our declining health system or the fact that there are cases of Tuberculosis in Akkar, a disease thats been more or else eliminated in most "civilized" societies? No because they are too busy caring what Jumblatt said, or what Aoun said or whatever. Think about it please. Nadine

EmirBachir said...

Nadine, I agree with your frustration with the apparent lack of Lebanese activism. I think that the Lebanese, in engrossing themselves in the daily political routines of the Zuama, often forget to care for those things that are more important and which they can often do something about. However, that is not to say thet there are not people who are doing something other than talking. There have been articles written on the prison systems in Lebanon. There are groups that are daily dealing with the problems of domestic abuse. More should be done. More importantly, I would like to see the government begin to realize that these "issues" are what they should be seeking to tackle. And when they don't, we should force them to through our democratic institutions, including demostrations.


Cherif Zein

Doha said...


I agree with what you're saying. Actually, if you go back several months back on this blog, you'll realize that we were having vibrant debates about culture, the economy, the electoral system, and so on. We were optimistic and thought that after the Syrian troops left, we would be able to start discussing these issues in a more protracted fashion. But unfortunately, Lebanon suddenly started moving backwards, in political discourse and action and we were left with debating about petty politics, instead of focusing on the more pertinent issues.

There was a sense that we can make a change, and now it became almost absent. You know what we're missing? The enlightened leadership. And we're also feeling that Lebanon has been in "limbo" since last year. And plus, most of the bloggers writing on this blog are not living in Lebanon at the moment and therefore, the onus is on those bloggers who are blogging from inside Lebanon to show us a different picture of events, from what we read here through newspapers.

Raja said...

Nadine, the word "sectarian" on the first line of the last paragraph is deliberate. I probably should have said "non-religious sectarian," and that is why I refered to Berri.

As for your socio-economic analysis, you make a strong point, but let us not forget that the Lebanese state does not provide a formal social net for the Lebanese poor in general. You yourself have mentioned Tuberculosis in Akkar. Therefore, eventhough you do see fundamentalist elements in non-Shi'a Muslim regions and other manifestations of fringe political groupings all over Lebanon, you simply cannot find another Hizballah in Lebanon.

I have two out of possibly many reasons for this unique development in the Shi'a community: 1) Iran, and 2) the failure of the Shi'a elite. I am also not so sure that Hizballah would not have existed if members of the community lived in better socio-economic conditions.

French Eagle,

you compare the Sunnis and Shi'as (i.e. one interprets and the other just applies). My question to you is: do you see one Sunni sheikh in the Future Movement? No! Future, unlike Hizballah, is a sectarian party that is NOT religious. So your comparison is useless.

Nadine said...


You could be right...things are never one-dimensional, there are always other factors that contribute to for example Hizballah's popularity, one of which is the backing and funding from Iran. A lot of factors fell together in the right way to allow the creation of such power.
But do you think that Moussa Al-Sadr (remember Hiz came out of AMAL in the late 70s) would have had such a following if the people in the suburbs of Beirut, the South, and the Bekaa felt that their Zaim (Kamal Al-Asaad?) and their govnt in Beirut were doing more to help them in th 60s when the Palestiian militias were using their land and homes to launch attacks against Israel? Did the Lebanese army stop the Palestanian militias from destroying our villages in the South? And Israel from responding to those attacks? Did they install social networks that helped curb POPULATION GROWTH and improve FARMING w/o the need of many children.

Who knows....All I know is that when we were teenagers at ACS, only a handful of people cared about the occupied South, one who was a foreign History teacher and if this is any indication of how it was in the 60-70s than you know what I'm getting at.

Again hard to tell what could have happened but I doubt the govt did much to try and prevent a situation were we have a state within a state, which is what Hiz is.

JoseyWales said...

Not to oversimplify,

but a lot of people in Lebanon get over-motivated by Palestine/Nasser/Arabism/Israel and not at all by tuberculosis/jobs/women rights.

Expanding the reach of governmnent (social net) is not necessarily the solution (with more dependence on the corrupt moron-leaders).

The best social net is a strong prosperous economy, which depends on security, which in turns depends on ISOLATING oneself from the wacko issues above (Arabism/Iran/Israel armed struggle and the like).
I am sure better economic conditions and NGOs will do a better job of eradicating tuberculosis than some incompetent political hack at the Ministry of Heatlh.

The jobless guy in Tripoli threatened by tuberculosis thinks his problem comes from Israel and Bush.

His problem, and ours, comes from not dealing with reality, and fosusing on bogus issues.

zwixo said...

please answer me this raja,
so which is the best solution, Aoun joins Joumblatt to be joined by the March 14 and then isolate Hezbollah. Then a scenario will be: Hezbollah feels shy and hands his weapons to parties that are calling him traitor. Right. Or Hezbollah clinges to his weapons and of course we run to the outside to help us disarm them by force: civil war. Great.
Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't the only people shouting on tv just after the withdrawal of Israel from the South: "Hezbollah should hand their weapons": Gibran Tueni, Aoun & the FPM and the barely existant LF. And weren't the people protecting this weapon Joumblatt and Hariri (m.h.r.i.p.). Aoun was sitting next to Nasrallah and in the same time telling him I want your weapons, isn't this what a good dialogue starts with. Noooooooo, Aoun will fail, it's not worth it. Bomb them then, that's civilized.

Comte Almaviva said...

Dear Josey, If you knew anything about lebanon, you'd know that last year, there were ~146 cases cases of TB. That translates to 7 cases per 100,000. That's better than Japan, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, and other countries, such as france, etc...

But I'm just a poor lost soul who's also worried about Palestine and other injustices in the world outside lebanon. Your esteemed self seems to think that being 'obsessed' with these outside matters, we are betraying our own country. However, your esteemed self failed to know that lebanon led a successful fight against the desease in the 50's and 60's. Do you really care about TB in tripoli? I bet there are ten cases of it. Why don't you start working on your strong economic plan, so that we may bring that number to one or two cases? Then, since we'll be well below the first world countries, such as the US, in the tb cases per capita, we'll close all our borders and prevent anyone from entering lebanon.

Hmm.... since more lebanese die from israeli bullets than from tuberculosis, may I be obsessed with israel? Or is that wrong, in the 'reality world' you live in?

why-discuss said...

Raja, Dans le royaume de aveugles, les borgnes sont rois
I am not saying that Hezbollah's world view is the ideal.
Yet you raise some points by making simplistic assumptions:
How do you know that Hezbollah will curtail freedom of expression in Lebanon? what do you know about women's right in Shia versus Sunni?
Are you assuming the Hezbollah will copycat Iran and ignore its Lebanese roots? I have not seen any proof of that yet!

JoseyWales said...

Dear Alma,

Do you understand the word: CONTEXT?

I mentioned TB, after Nadine used it to make an argument earlier in this thread.

I use it to make another point which apparently is lost on people like you. When the finger points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger.

But I guess there's also a reason for that. No matter what the point is, (in this case Lebanese internal politics, and Aoun see title of thread), you want to drag us all back to: all together now, 1, 2, 3 PALESTINE.

PS Enlighten us, which hot front are you manning in the neverending war: Paris? Rome? Closer but quieter Damascus?

frencheagle said...

@ raja

i didnt like @ all the fatwa to vote for the future list in north of lebanon

maybe they dont ve religious inside their mouvement directly but they are worst since they are leading religious to obey them

you would tell me that hezbollah is not better, they also had a fatwa lately to prevent ministers to participate to the governement

but still u didnt reply me about the main difference when it come to the difference btw sunnits and shiits about the interpretation and the strict application of precepts.

u re trying to act like a politician by not answering to my question and eluding my question

the good question would be why the hezbollah accepted to talk about its weapon with aoun when he didnt with the future or with joumblatt?
here come one idea of the machiavel in his prince:
"trust those who are not betraying their allies and mistrust those who are always betraying their allies."

joumblatt was pro syrian he turned lately to be with the syrians.
hariri leaded 5 governements during 12 years on 15 years of syrian occupation btw 1990 and 2005.
Geagea sold the lebanese soveregnty in 90 by following the american advises, the american selling lebanon to syria against the syrian support in their war against Iraq
global image u see ?

the hezbollah on his side was not directly involved into christian's massacers and didnt participated to any governement during the syrian occupation.

now this is history

the future now: the islamisc problem in the middle east: i talked about egypt, palestine, irak, and maybe the biggest threat over lebanon is syria but not the current weak syrian regime but the possibility of an islamic syrian republic.
the convergency is here, moderated sunnits, shiits and christians.

i hate community logic but when it come to lebanon, we dont ve choices

so u can see now why i asked u about the interpretation or the strict application.

if i have to choose the best among the worst, of course i ll choose the one that is interpretating instead of the strict application as far there is space for me to negociate with him.