Saturday, November 25, 2006

the constituents' message to their representatives

I have been reading and hearing about how the inter-sectarian violence in Iraq could spill-over across the region, but specifically into Lebanon since the bombing of the Sammarra Mosque a year or two ago. Two more recent events have raised the prominence of those warnings:

  1. the rally organized in response to the murder of Piere Gemeyel - and subsequent response by supporters of Hizballah.
  2. the massacre of Iraqi Shi'as, the subsequent retribution on Sunnis and the subsequent spiral of violence (which is still going on as I type up this post).

With regards to the first event, I hold the Lebanese political elite responsible for any sectarian fall-out that results from the rally, as well as other political shenanigans they pull to achieve their objectives. On that note, some commentators mock the purported low turn-out to the rally on Thursday. The figure cited is 200,000 as opposed to a million, which was estimated by some to be the turn-out of the first such protest.

If true, I see this development as hopeful. It symbolizes that the Lebanese people see where their leaders are headed, and they refuse to go there willingly. Furthermore, among those who did attend, I wonder how many actually did so to protest violence and political assassinations as opposed to, say, express support for the March 14 political grouping and their policies.

Several protesters photographed during the rally, for example, carried posters with slogans such as “Lebanon means Life,” and “Shove your civil war." These messages and others like them support the hypothesis that at least a minority of the rally attendees went down primarily to express their nervousness about the perceived prospect of violence.

I hope those who gave speeches on that day took note of both those messages (i.e. the lower turn-out, as well as the posters).

In fact, and on that note, allow me to suggest that had we had our own elections last week, or even today, I am certain the results would have been as dramatic as the results of the American midterm elections. This is not to say that former March 14 voters would have voted for Hizballah. Rather, they would have voted for alternatives if they could have, or just stayed home. Again… their message: “We do not support where you're taking the country. We don't want war.”

As for the second event I listed in the beginning of this entry (the Iraqi massacres), again, I turn my attention to the Lebanese people; however, in this case, my assessment of their behavior is much less flattering. It baffles me... it really baffles me to hear a Lebanese shi'ite or sunni get the urge to harm their compatriot just because some idiots in Iraq have decided that they're going to kill each other. Their line of thinking goes like this:

I'm going to go abuse or kill my neighbor and make my life much more miserable in the process just because people I have never even met before (or ever will meet in my life) are brutally killing each other thousands of miles away.

This type of thinking (if it can be called as such) emanates from God knows the fuck where. Maybe men's penises. Therefore, I’ll take this opportunity to convey a message to my Lebanese compatriots courtesy of Robin Williams: “God gave men a brain and a penis, with only enough blood to work one at a time.” Please make good use of these words of wisdom. I know they may be vulgar, and said by a perpetual drunk (despite his denials). However, their vulgarity merely reflects a different form of vulgarity that emanates from the “thinking” I cited above.

On a more serious note though, I reiterate what I’ve said before on this blog: the solution lies in a capable Lebanese state. A state that absolutely monopolizes the use of force. A state that takes exclusively Lebanese interests to heart as defined by the Lebanese people. A state that does not fight others’ battles on Lebanese soil. A state guided by the desire of all Lebanese to live comfortable and prosperous lives.

Yes, I know… a bit obvious and tacky, but I need to join those Lebanese who did not attend the rally on Thursday as well as those who attended, but did so with their own messages, and express it anyhow.


Mustapha said...

As usual,
we're on the same wavelength :)

Anonymous said...

Good post, Raja, as always.

You are baffled why sunnis and shias in Lebanon would hurt each other just because some people in Iraq are doing it?

I know it IS somewhat baffling to most people. But those of us who have lived or grew up in Lebanon know EXACTLY how this works. This infantile and immature notion of "brotherhood" amongst correligionists, that seems hardwired into the brains of a lot of Lebanese, thanks to the sectarian world we've always lived in. There hasn't been a single "cause" in the neighbourhood that some Lebanese haven't gotten all gung ho about. Be it Nasserism, Arabism, the Palestinian cause, the Iran-Iraq conflict. You name it.

It'd be interesting (but purely academic) for someone to delve into the psychology of this phenomena. All signs point towards some sort of inferiority complex. We have fuckall to be proud of, so we latch on to guys like Khamenei or Nasser or whoever, in some far away land and treat them with the reverance and adulation reserved for deities. Hell, we do that to our "so-called" leaders too. What the fuck is "b'rooh, b'damm, nafdeeka ya [insert idiotic name here]"? And how often have we heard that one?

(Sorry for the rant)

JoseyWales said...

I'm going to go abuse or kill my neighbor and make my life much more miserable in the process..

I hope, but won't bet more than a buck and a half, that the Lebanese will be smarter than the Iraqis. if only cuz we've recently been in a civil war.

Re Iraq, much madness to go around, but to mention one: The Sunnis who started the "US out" movmnt. Do they not see what awaits them the very second the US leaves?

The Iraqi gvmnt acknowledged they had to call the Americans yesterday as the Iraqi army stood still while Sunnis were being killed.

Be careful what you wish says the Chinese proverb.

PS Off with moderation (in every sense of the word)

Anonymous said...

Excellent post.

Anonymous said...

The Thai Junta is not a bad example for us to follow after all. Now, under who's boot are our military men.

Faysal said...


What exactly do you expect March 14 to do? You sound deeply dissatisfied with where they are "taking the country", but aside from your angst - which we all share - what can be done about where the other side wants to take it? I am also anxious about a possible civil conflict, but I would have attended that really anyway, because I am convinced that one side is much more in the wrong than the other. If you can convince me otherwise, perhaps I would join you in damning both of them, but so far, this seems more like intellectual relativism and self-pity than genuine vision.

Faysal said...

That 'rally' is what I meant to say.

The Sandmonkey said...

Yes, it's all my Penis'fault! Damn you Penis. Damn you!

Raja said...


the way I see it, your disagreement with at least some of the supporters of "the other camp" are not so much over the declared intentions of the March 14 politicians. Rather, your major disagreement with them lies in the belief that the March 14 politicians are able to act on those promises.

All I know is that politicians on both sides of the line have begun to play with fire in a manner that may eventually bring the entire country to its knees (if it hasn't already done so).

The overriding point is: this is not the elite's country. It is ours. And maybe, if we keep that in mind, Lebanese who share similar outlooks in life can collectively hold their represenatives accountable as opposed to reducing themselves into mere partisans who blindly and unquestionably follow one or the other member of Lebanon's political elite.

In short, Faysal, I'm just sick of being a Partisan.

Raja said...

sandmonkey, it pleases me to know that you have graced the Lebanese Bloggers with your prensence. ;)

Faysal said...


To be honest with you, I'm rather ambivalent about March 14th at this point. I cannot believe they have not recognized that there has been a sell-out and a deal between the US and Syria. Perhaps someone has made them promises in turn. Perhaps not.

I definitely agree with you that these politicians are playing with fire. Many irresponsible things have been and are being said. It looks like bloody days are coming to Lebanon. In the heat of things, it is hard not to take a side - to become partisan if you will. And the ugly thing about these situations is that the nuances and the reservations recede when you are faced with such a bitter and crucial conflict. I hate it as well.