Friday, February 17, 2006

The Outcome Of February 14 And The Strong State

Has the February 14 rally in Martyr's Square made a difference on the political arena in Lebanon? And are we seeing the results of gathering hundreds of thousands on the streets that day paying off?

Well, perhaps we are witnessing a change!

First, Aoun met with the Lebanese Forces MP Adwan yesteday in Rabieh to discuss the list of potential candidates that can be agreed on for the upcoming Baabda/Aley elections to fill the vacant Parliamentary seat that the late MP Edmond Naim left behind.

Aoun and MP Adwan have been meeting since Aoun returned to Lebanon. But what was so different about yesterday? In a press conference, Aoun announced that his bloc and the Lebanese Forces will disclose on Sunday the name of the candidate they agree on; they are giving themselves until Sunday to decide on one.

So how come now Aoun is negotiating with the Lebanese Forces on this Parliamentary seat, when two weeks ago, Aoun blurted that this particular election race will be negotiated between his bloc and the Future Movement, and by that totally disregarding the Lebanese Forces, which in reality had won this seat during the past Parliamentary elections? Was this new move a sign that Aoun recognizes the popular weight of the Lebanese Forces, after it succeeded to bring thousands upon thousands of its supporters out on the streets last Tuesday?

Second, yesterday Sayyid Nasrallah started out his speech in UNESCO with a conciliatory, soft-spoken tone. He said that he supports the importance of dialogue and that the resistance has always fought for Lebanon (al-watan) and will always do. He even denied that Hizbullah is affiliated with the Syria-Iran axis and that reports claiming that he said Hizbullah's arms are tied to the regional settlment with Israel are twisted and not entirely true!

We can take from his conciliatory tone that Hizbullah is open for dialogue and will negotiate on its arms. A direct result of February 14? I'm sure, some would agree and some would not.

But to move to another point regarding Nasrallah's speech: Sayyid Nasrallah said that he supports a "strong" state, a state with "strong" strategic policies. I asked myself, what he meant by "strong" and whether the Lebanese state could ever be "strong" in a foreign-policy sense (which is what Nasrallah is alluding to).

Is it that what he means by "strong" strategic policies, is basically facing up to the West? Does it mean that the Lebanese state should ally itself with the axis of "Ghaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Venezuela" (as Sayyid Nasrallah described in his speech, this axis versus the Tel Aviv-USA axis)?

Lebanon, in my view, cannot be a strong state in that sense. Neither its size, nor its "coexistence formula", let alone its democractic political orientation, will land us a strong state with provocative strategic stands.

Our state can and should be "strong" in attempting to forge a unified notion of what constitutes a Lebanese citizen. This is where the state plays an important role, a role our state has not played successfully since its inception.

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


acrobat said...

give credit to where credit is due and stop seeing in last week's muzahara more than what it was.

HA had committed to dialogue through their joint white paper with the FPM (6 months in the making may i add), declared 6th of february, and totally independent from 14th february. the problem with HA is that they were never "afraid" of anyone, and no amount of people in the street will ever phase them. nasrallah must have really been biting on his lips to avoid reacting to the february 14th ridiculously inflammatory and childish discourse, at a point the country could learn a thing or two from the aoun-nasrallah rapprochement. (try to read it at the source rather than on fTV or LBC and make up your own mind. or better, since you are more likely to be objective if you read it in an M14 media, try edmond saab's analysis in NAHAR (NOT the pointlessly amateurish naharnet!), or go to and search for ادمون صعبthe article is called
لبنان اولا' من أين يبدأ؟' )

as for aoun's stance on baabda-aley, if you were following the news properly you would have noticed that the LF immediately put up poor May almost the day Naim died, in an attempt to play the hearts game, and aoun reacted by saying "nice try, cheap trick, we support a neutral candidate, nothing forces us to just "give" this seat to the LF" and okayed dakkache.

two days ago a major poll gave 72% in baabda aley in favour of any FPM candidate amongst christian voters, while HA will most probably vote for the same, so aoun is not worried about losing this seat if elections were to go ahead. even joumblat wants to avoid a battle, because he knows it will make M14 look terribly bad. but aoun now has to stick to his word about being "dialogue-friendly" and go for the so-called conciliatory candidate, because he knows whatever the outcome, it will be in his favour, and avoiding a clash is in IMHO an amazingly mature thing to do at this stage, which is only adding for my respect for the work these guys have been doing.

consider the counter-point: was the 1 million protestors lacking* between March 14 2005 and February 14 2006 AND the HA open support to any FPM candidate some of the reasons the LF finally agreed to go the "conciliatory" route to avoid terrible humiliation in baabda aley?

* please note that i do not say that those 1 million missing were FPM supporters, just part of that were, the rest probably did not come for disillusionment reasons etc.

also note: the so-called "average christian" from what i hear on the ground in beirut, have been so much more impressed by aoun's immediate presence on-the-spot in ashrafiyeh on the 5th of february just after the cartoon riots (LBC refused to acknowledge he was there until 1 hour after the beginning of the news bulletin that night!), showing he is the real christian population's representative, even though the speech he gave was impressively non-sectarian, showing also a solid national outlook, while geagea was hiding out in bcharreh- and topping it with next day's spectacular signing of the HA-FPM agreement in Mar Mkhael church, all moves that earned him points both inter-sectarian and cross-sectarian divides i think.

ghassan said...

Since when is negotiation between duopolists a good sign of political maturity? I always thought that in democracies the political system should be open to all and that the public is expected to either validate a candidacy or reject it. Aoun, Geagea, Jumblat, Sfeir et al are not there to negotiate on my behalf and trade horses in smoke filled rooms. That process is a mockery of democracy.

What we should be asking for and demanding from all is an open elections between six, seven,eigfht different individuals each with a different agenda. Elections that are predetermined are a fraud and unfortunately many seem to rejoice that we are moving more in that direction.

Doha said...

Ghassan, I in no where in the post said that negotiations among duopolists is a sign of political maturity.

Acrobat, I read Edmond Saab's opinion piece, as well as the other Annahar op-ed writers. I guess you read Edmond Saab's piece because it was on the Tayyar website and it said good things about FPM.

Anonymous said...

ok doha, but acrobat raised valid points in his reply, all you could find as an answer is a wild guess why he read Saab's piece?

Anonymous said...

same anonymous, i just read the discussion from a couple of posts ago and I guess I can understand the atmosphere of the reply. my bad.

acrobat said...

fyi doha, the only reason i gave you the tayyar link is that it is impossible to link directly to the nahar website.

yes,, annahar, and even this blog are all my homepages (god bless firefox), (naharnet used to be but i gave up on it), i have no access to lbc, ftv or ntv except when am in beirut. and no, also fyi, i am not FPM nor even aounist in the strict sense, but if i had to choose, i know where my vote would go. you are way too young to really know any of these guys (jumblat and geagea in particular - one has burnt the lebanese flag and swore allegiance to syria so many times before, the other has sworn allegiance to israel and done everything to make sure lebanon is redefined as a christian heartland and little else, and both have so much, sooo much blood on their hands you cannot even fathom.)

i have been watching the FPM since they became a party and their breadth of action is inspiring and i think every other "new" party in lebanon should learn from them (and i mean organisationally not ideologically) - if they can run the government as well as they run their party then why not?

ghassan: forget "duopolists" - any dialogue is good dialogue at this stage, at least we can start somewhere, we've had this so-called post-syriana government for what, 7 months now? what on earth has it done? they're not even talking to each other within it! and it's called the "executive" branch of government.

if aoun wants to be president, so what? at least he's working to get there, and showing results for it, so good for him. if someone else wants to do it, at least MOVE YOUR ASS! today i met shibli mallat, who as you know wants to be president too. well i say great, good luck to him, but the guy has the charisma of a toilet paper roll, it was depressing to see.

forget baabda-aley, it's just an excuse for aoun and geagea to compare the sizes of their penises. but stop the rhetoric and the idealism people, what is going on on the ground?? where on earth are we taking this stupid country we call home??

and as anonymous said, is that all you have to say doha dear? if i had commented as "anonymous" rather than "acrobat" would you have replied?

don't run a blog if you don't have the maturity to take a counter-point and still be able to prove yours.

hail dialogue (or any excuse to avoid it) - you so obviously are learning from your masters.

why-discuss said...

Acrobat, excellent insights and analysis! Thanks