Sunday, February 12, 2006

Putting things into perspective

In one of my last two posts, Zwixo asked the following: okay, this is all nice, but you have not answered the question: what do we do with Hizballah?

My answer: Isolate it. Force it to accept our conditions of disarmament.

What Aounis are not getting is that Hizballah on its own is the most powerful political entity in Lebanon. Hariri was eliminated precisely for that purpose - to remove the other heavy-weight, so that when Syria leaves, the direction that it plotted for Lebanon to follow will not be challenged because of Hizballah.

The March 14 coalition was created expressly to challenge Hizballah's domination! It offered a cacophony of Lebanese political parties united by a vision, but more importantly, united for the sake of being able to look Hizballah eye-to-eye.

It was based on that position of strength that the March 14 movement wanted to engage Hizballah and negotiate with it over the past several months. Unfortunately, Hizballah maintained its intransigence despite the assassinations, played on the FPM front, and knew that if push came to shove a single party would outlast a coalition in a drawn-out conflict.

In my opinion, had Aoun swallowed his pride, and accepted a weaker political position in the March 14 alliance than that which he expected and eventually did gain, then maybe, the March 14 coalition would have succeeded in resolving the Hizballah issue on their terms. Of course, history tells us a different story, and the FPM has striven to demolish the March 14 movement since its return to Lebanon.

My question to Aoun and FPMers is that if the March 14 coalition was unable to bring Hizballah to heel, how the hell do they expect to do it? If they were as interested in seeing Syria's influence in Lebanon totally eliminated and militias totally disarmed, then they would have understood the game, swallowed their pride and gone along!

But noooo... of course not! They are too clean to deal with the dirty Jumblatt and the corrupt Hariris! Besides, their first priority is to become a strong sect, and then they can deal with Syria and Hizballah.

As we say in Arabic, khaleena 'nshouf shoo 7a yitla3 min amrun. As I said in my last post, Hizballah and Syria may have just successfully cracked the only coalition that could have challenged their dominance. Now the Maronites have their strong position in Lebanese politics, but allow me to suggest that they have just been bought off! Everything they fought for over the past 20 years has just been thrown down the drain.

Bravo Aoun! If only you thought this way back when you were in Ba'bda fighting to the death for Lebanese sovereignty!


ghassan said...

Two points need to be addressed:

(1) I, and many others, have been highlighting this seminal issue for almost a year. The question regarding HA does not have except one answer. Commonsense and logic dictate that HA must not be treated as partners in the government. Unless we realize that the charade will go on and the dysfunctional government will persist. In a democracy you cannot deny HA its electoral vote but since it is not a majority you force it to act as another member of the opposition. The project of modernity has no other alternatives. This solution is the dominant solution.

(2)Many of the blogers, if I understand them correctly, seem to have an interest in a new Lebanon, Modern Lebanon, a country based on different foundations than the past.

These aspirations demand a new kind of thinking, one that is based on different categories. it must be based on asking different questions in order to get different answers. The questions that we ask determine the answers that we give. Non of this stands even a remote chance of happening if all the analysis and questions are still raised through the old fashioned bankrupt prism of traditional politics and sectarian benefits. Policy has to be guided by only one principal: What is good for the Lebanese and not what is good for the Maronites/Druze/ Sunnis or Shi'a.Until we can find it within us to rise above these petty tribal issues nothing will change, as well meaning as you might be.

Anonymous said...

Raja, I have been following your blog for some time now. You have a message you want to get out, and it is well-meaning. Part of it is also well thought. However, this message, especially concerning that of Hezbollah, is lost in your petty admiration for the March 14 coalition.

Comments like "the march 14 coalition was created expressly to challenge ..." make me wonder why you are so concerned in defending a failed coalition, and more importantly, why you have fallen to the "rewriting history" propaganda movement that superceded any REAL initiative to change the country. You seem to conveniantly forget that it was the March 14 coalition that initially accepted Hezbollah as a legitimate party, and you claim that they have attempted to bring "Hizbollah to heel". Instead of asking Aoun and the FPMers your question, why don't you ask the March 14 the following question: why did they fail, in the days and weeks preceding the elections, to follow up on a Hezbollah initiative (which may not have been serious) to discuss their arms? Siding with one side against the other makes you no better than those you claim of being filled with "pride".

As I said, you have a good message. Isolate Hezbollah. It might not be what I suggest, but it is a good start. Yet you drown this in sectarian garbage and tribal loyalties. And that is a true shame. Who is Lebanon going to depend on change, if it isn't people like you?


Raja said...


Two points:

1st, if you do not infuse "sectarian garbage and tribal loyalties" into your political analysis of Lebanon, then you might as well be analyzing China. Case in point: why do you think over 50% of the votes Michel Aoun got from the Maronites were given to him? Well, it was definitely not because they adhered to his policies or even admired him personally. Rather, it was because of "sectarian garbage and tribal loyalties."

I am not sure how much you watch Lebanese news, but if you recall Franjieh, Lahoud and Murr during the parliamentary elections you will realize that they were basically doing Aoun's dirty work. Every opportunity they had, they appealed to the Christian population to vote for Aoun's list because the Christians "needed a strong leader." Now if that is not sectarian garbage and tribal loyalty, please tell me what is!

2nd, HA left the government because it felt pressured. No one leaves a party that he or she is enjoying! HA were definitely not enjoying the party, so they left. Moreover, their departure was merely a culmination of intransigent behavior in reaction to pressure from all parties in Lebanon that called for a dialogue to begin over how they were going to disarm. Please do not forget that one of Hizballah's conditions for returning to the government that it be referred to as the "resistance" and not a militia. Consequently, if March 14 was not "following up" or pushing forward on disarmament, why would Hizballah act accordingly?

ghassan said...

May I suggest ,respectfully, that your view that we need to talk the language of sectarianism because it is the dominant one is a recipe for more of the same and it is not a recipe for change.
If you aspire to create a modern state then you are seeking change. Change does not mean going with the flow, just the opposite. You have to swim against the current and have a message that is nonsectarian otherwise it would be same ole same old.

why-discuss said...

Raja, isolation anyone is the most unproductive road you can imagine in an already divided Lebanon. Your obvious antipathy (I would not say hatred) to Hezbollah is exactly the kind of feelings that have contributed to the flare up of the civil war. Lebanese should find a common ground to dialog, this the 101 of politics as they have no other choice than to live with shia, sunnis, druze, christians and with "nice" neighbors like Israel and Syria. Denying the other is the recipe for more blood in a already deeply wounded country. Aoun is showing the way to calmly deal with ex-foes for the good of the country. The other will grudgingly, follow. Jumblatt is already lauding his ex-ennemy Aoun and I would not be surprised of a rapprochement Hariri-Aoun despite all the sabotage the other 14 mars alliance members will attempt to do to prevent it.

Raja said...


I admire your tenacity. But I have promised myself never to forget the reality of living in Lebanon because I simply do not want to go through what I went through when I went there last time.

I am really sorry... I know it is a selfish reason, but I need to keep myself on edge because I am returning there soon and will have to confront that reality (decisively) again. This is a personal matter that I cannot elaborate on further.

Anyways I still believe that I provide a service (albeit different from before I travelled to Lebanon). Conveying to visitors of this blog "sectarian garbage and tribal loyalties" that motivates most Lebanese politically and economically. Besides, if we are really trying to understand what is going on down there, what is the benefit of denying reality?

Also... let me say something that I said last time: the solution to sectarianism is not discourse - the solution is structural. Sectarianism is not rational... You can try to rationalize it, but you cannot defeat it through rationale. The three components of sectarianism are:

1. emotional support (what better feeling is there than to know that you have a group of people who will do something for you because they have to?)

2. financial support (I don't need to elaborate this point)

3. spiritual support (And finally, everything is reinforced with God's sanction)

If you are not able to tackle these three components of sectarianism then forget it! That, at least, is what I am telling myself now that I am back.

NO AMOUNT OF WORDS ARE ENOUGH! This is where the pen becomes useless!

frencheagle said...

isolating the hezbollah ll bring it to extremising its policy by cutting their financial support.

what s raja states will just lead us to the next civil war.

the best way to disarm the hezbollah is only on the long term by a strong executive, where the state is giving to the citizens all the options and all the securities, by disarming first the palestinians and removing the threat of the sunnit islamism that ll turn to be against the shiits as it is the case now in iraq.

the convergency btw aoun and hezbollah is against the sunnit extremism that is showing its face in iraq, in egypt, in palestine, and that is threatening to tk power in syria and that is leading operations against the north of israel and the lebanese army.
this is the key to understand the future coalition btw moderated sunnits, the hezbollah and aoun.

the druze wont get into that picture as the interest of joumblatt is against the construction of a strong executive that would marginalise their role in Lebanon. it s a constant in his policy: marginalise everything that can lead to a strong executive by fighting during the war the maronistism and after the war defending the resistance and even getting allied with it in baabda aley last year and introducing it in the government

joumblatt makes me thinking about the prince of machiavel where macchiavel is clearly stating not to trust people taht are turning their mind everytimes but to trust the people that are always having the same attitude even if they are your ennemy.

zwixo said...

I see, well all the analysis is pretty hypothetical, what I asked is how to deal with HA, what you answered is isolate them and force them.

How many times do i have to repeat that I dispise HA for all they stand for and way of life. But I will not go to civil war if they were buying time. We must try our best, OUR BEST to avoid civil war. It's simple, what Joumblat is doing, he's saying: "HA, you're fucking shit traitors, give us your weapons". What Aoun is saying is: "HA, give us your weapons". Let's see which way promises a better future for Lebanon. And like Abou Layla says in one of Rahbani's plays: "7ada bye7keh ma3 reshesh!".

And finally, future keep blaming it on Aoun that he's holding off change. That's the biggest load of bull I've heard in a while, Aoun is the favorite for president, deal with it and agree for Lebanon's sake.