If Cardinal Sfeir had a pessimistic view yesterday about uniting the Christians of Lebanon, then how could anyone be optimistic?
Judging from the nature of the political conflict nowadays, we see new contending players, Hizbullah on one side and the Future Movement on the other side and judging from Iraq, the conflict is along the Shiite-Sunni lines. So when thoughts of a civil war are invoked, we quickly fear a Sunni-Shiite war.
However, the animosity among Christian factions, to be exact Maronite, is perhaps one of the last vestiges of our last civil war. That simmering, yet increasingly-apparent conflict could be just that wild card to lead the country down the violence path.
This is why Syria has focused its assassinations on Christian politicians and its bombings of Christian commercial and residential establishments for the past two years. But this last assassination targeted a Maronite politician and I fear has struck at the heart of that simmering conflict.
What brought all this home was yesterday's statement by former Kesserouan MP Farid Khazen from Bkirki. He said that if Aoun (and FPM) wants to "go down to the streets", there are many strategic areas wherein he can demonstrate. But he gravely warned from demonstrating in Christian areas and added that, "Pierre Gemayyel's blood has not cooled" (dammoo ma barad). He continued, "We did not forget the massacres that took place in Qolei'at, Sin El-Fil, and Nahr El-Mot."
This last statement was powerful, because for the first time and from Bkirki we're hearing statements alluding to the civil war, particularly the years which witnessed fierce battles among Maronites factions.
This is why our civil war has been the most destructive to the social fabric of many communities; not only was the war sectarian and ideological, but it also was intra-sectarian.
And unfortunately it seems that the Maronites have not come to terms with the past. For 15 years, the animosity was put on hold with Geagea in jail, Aoun in exile, and the Phalange Party divided. For 15 years, the Christians left their intra-conflict in their homes and slowly started working together to protest the Syrian tutelage.
I guess, we're back to square one. Except this time the political leaders are working harder to control their supporters and the streets. In my assessment, Amin Gemayyel played an important role in dampening the anger among the Phalangists; right after Pierre's death we held our breaths fearing that all hell will break loose, but that storm somehow is beyond us now.
Aoun upon his return from exile spoiled the "party" and the "love affair". He wanted things to be his way or the highway, and that did not work. His visit to Geagea in jail was a positive move then, but Aoun's provocative words, more than his actions, inflame even the most indifferent about Lebanese politics. His decision to forego the March 14 alliance during the latest Parliamentary elections, butted Christians one against the other and yes, spoiled the "love affair."
He, in the words of Amin Gemayyel, has taken a path that contradicts the slogans his movement stands for, most importantly, sovereignty (siyede). How could Aoun call for sovereignty when he is de facto allied with for instance the SSNP (and if not allied, then is providing them with a political cover)? SSNP's creed does not consider Lebanon to be sovereign, but part of a larger Syria. This is only one example. Gemayyel on Al-Jazeera two days ago called on Aoun to return to his natural place on the Lebanese political map.
From my point of view, diversity is healthy. But apparently diversity in the Maronite political sphere is dangerous and destructive because the Maronite psyche is not letting go of the civil war.
So as I said, the Maronite card is the wild card. We'll watch and see what happens on the streets this week. Hizbullah is promising a "surprise" move. In the words of a Hizbullah spokesman, "We want to keep the government on their feet."
And just when Khazen made his statement from Bkirki yesterday morning, in the evening, in a trash bin next to his house in Qolei'at, three anti-personnel mines (duds) were discovered. Not a good sign of things to come.
"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."