Metn Madness

Lebanon's by-election to be held in the Metn, the heartland of Christian Lebanon, is a bellwether. It will give us a good indication of whether Michel Aoun, an ally of Hizbullah, or Amin Gemayel, an ally of Saad Hariri, is stronger in the Christian north.

Aoun and Gemayel stage simultaneous rallies, drawing thousands of supporters, Daily Star

Aoun addressed the rally in Dbayyeh from behind a bullet proof shield and dubbed his electoral opponents "windmills of lies" with nothing to offer voters but lies and unfulfilled promises. "I will not call them sons of snakes, but sons of rumors, and rumors are like a rootless weed, once you pluck it out it dies," Aoun said of his opponents.

"They frighten you and tell you there will be trouble [Sunday], we tell you have no fear, the army and security forces are there to protect you and so are our [fists]," Aoun said, warning all those who try to use violence, close roads or attack supporters Sunday, adding that the Metn is a peaceful and civilized place.

"Our choice is that of peace for Lebanon, but not the peace of the weak," Aoun said, adding that his electoral opponents thought the FPM was weak when they tried to reach a consensus to avoid the electoral battle. He said that not one of the government's promises have been met in the last two years.

At the rally in Antelias, Gemayel warned his opponents that "Metn will never be a suburb of Damascus" building on anti-Syrian feelings to warn the people of Metn that a vote for Aoun is a vote for the return of Syrian tutelage.

As for opponents' claims that voting for Khoury is like voting to return Lebanon to Syria, Khoury said: "It is well known who struggled against the Syrian line over the past 15 years … We not only faced the Syrians but many Lebanese who today claim to defend sovereignty and independence and are among the ranks of March 14 but who made deals with the Syrians to return to Lebanon."

Polling by Information International ahead of next Sunday's by-elections in the Metn to fill the seat left vacant after the assassination of March 14 MP Pierre Gemayel. The pollers said that Amin Gemayyel would receive 60 percent of Maronite voters, while Khoury would get 85 percent of the Armenian votes and 55 percent of the Orthodox votes. It said both candidates would get an equal number of votes from Catholics.

Friday Lunch Club writes that the Metn Polls suggest that Aoun's candidate will win over Amine Gemayel by 6000 votes. He also writes:

Kataeb nomenklatura instructed their voter-supporters to "vote very early in the AM and go home". The plan is to create "disturbances" at the ballot locals, prompting early closures.

Elaph carrries an anti-Aoun story:

BBC MidEast: Lebanon's Awn Reportedly Meets Syrian Security
2007-08-03 16:30 (New York)

Text of report by London-based, Saudi-owned Elaph website on 3 August

A Western diplomatic source has disclosed that Lebanese Deputy Michel Awn who visited Germany last week on the pretext of meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier went to this European country to hold a secret meeting with senior Syrian security official Major-General Muhammad Nasif (Abu-Wa'il).

The source said the meeting between Awn and "Abu-Wa'il" focused on the parliamentary battle in north Al-Matn which Awn is contesting in an attempt to prevent Shaykh Amin al-Jumayyil from winning the seat that was occupied by his son Pierre who was assassinated last November. The source stressed that Maj-Gen Nasif underlined the need for Awn to contest the elections battle against Al-Jumayyil to the end and that Syria is willing to place all its resources at his disposal.

The Syrian official insisted that Awn should not back down on the attle and reiterated that Damascus would ask the parties it influences to back Awn's candidate to the utmost limit. He pointed out in this respect that Syria is capable of pressuring the Armenian Tashnaq Party to have all its votes go to Awn's candidate.

It was noticed that Awn returned from Germany with hard-line stands that prevented any compromise in Al-Matn after Muhammad Nasif asserted to him that Syria was capable of ensuring his candidate's success and would put its weight and that of all its allies behind achieving this goal.

It is known that Maj-Gen Nasif is responsible for the Shi'i dossier in general and the Shi'i one in Lebanon in particular and has a history of strong relations with all the Shi'i parties, foremost of them "Hezbollah" and "Amal." The senior Syrian security official visits Germany frequently for treatment.

(c) 2007 BBC Monitoring Middle East.

Michael Young gets in a few wacks at Aoun as well, but in contrast to Elaph, he argues in "Is Michel Aoun walking into a trap?" that Syria is not backing Aoun, but secretly hopes he will lose in order to divide Christians. He writes:

Syria is looking to weaken Aoun, just as its main intention is to push the Christians into a destructive internecine crisis. Why? Perhaps to advance an alternative presidential contender at the right time, and to ensure that the Christians are so divided after the Metn election that they will be unable to agree on a different consensus candidate for the presidency.

Nasrallah slams Bush for 'meddling' in Lebanon's affairs

Security Council adopts statement on Lebanon

Murr and Feltman discuss US military aid to Lebanon

Itamar Rabinovich has published an article today (in the mean time I believe it is only in Hebrew) saying basically that situation today reminds him of Egypt and Israel back in the early 70's, when Sadat wanted to have peace but ended up in waging a war.

He also says Syria and Israel had secret nego's in the 90's and 2000, not always with the presence of the Americans.

He suggested that Israel should reject the condition set by Assad in his last speech – that Israel agrees to withdraw from the Golan prior to opening talks – which is a much tougher condition than before. Nevertheless, he says, Israel should not push Assad to the corner.

Comments (10)


1. Innocent_Criminal said:

this over analyzing by the press of every tiny incident is getting so boring. all this is insignificant. what really matters is what will happen with the Hariri tribunal which is dragging on slower than an overweight snail. maybe some fighting is the only answer after all. yaawwwnnn

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August 4th, 2007, 3:32 pm

 

2. majedkhaldoun said:

I certainly wish that your return to USA will be easy safe,and without any trouble.

If Michel Aoun winn the election in Metn, it will be a great defeat for Amin Jumayel,it would mean that the next president of Lebanon would be Aoun,he (Aoun)is persistant,a fighter,and a good speaker,he will be a stronger president than any lebanese president in the past.
the new presidential order,by president Bush,will backfire on Seniora, who is looking more and more as american puppet,especialy,the american ambassador is sitting next to him (Seniora)in most of his meetings.

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August 4th, 2007, 5:31 pm

 

3. Kamal said:

Notice how the Christian base, though deeply divided as always, is united in opposition to Syrian tyranny. This is because the Golden Era of Syrian rule in Lebanon, so cherished by many on this blog, was a period of disenfranchisement, humiliation, repression and emigration for Lebanon’s Christian community.

Gemayyel’s strategy is to paint Aoun as Syria’s man, while Aoun’s strategy is to shore up his (ancient) anti-Syrian credentials and reverse the accusation by reminding the public of some M14 figures’ pro-Syrian past. Whoever the Christians elect, they do so in the belief that their man will protect Free Lebanon from Syria…

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August 4th, 2007, 6:19 pm

 

4. ausamaa said:

Kamal,

Alf Mabrook Ya Rab..

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August 4th, 2007, 8:29 pm

 

5. t_desco said:

Al-Houri mosque is somewhere near Arab University Street. The Imam al-Awza’i Institute is “just next to BAU in the Tariq al-Jadidah neighborhood, opposite Beirut’s municipal stadium” (B. Rougier, “Everyday Jihad”, p.203).

The institute has many links to Ain al-Hilweh, particulary through Sheikh Abdallah Hallaq whose son belonged to the Hassan Nab’a-Khaled Taha cell. Sheikh Abu Dia’ who is close to Asbat al-Ansar also studied there.

Al-Houri mosque is most probably the place where Ahmed Abu Adass met Khaled Taha (Mehlis I, §174) and “Mohammed” (Mehlis I, §171).

The possible links between Al-Houri mosque and the militants in Ain al-Hilweh make it more plausible that Abu Adass visited Abu Obeida, the “deputy leader … of Asbat al-Ansar”, in the camp (Mehlis I, §80, §197).

Abu Obeida was in close contact with Bassam al-Kanj and Ihab al-Banna (both belonging to the Dinniyeh group).

Ahmed Abu Adass once worked for Ahmed al-Sani who was a member of a cell headed by Ahmed Miqati (another member of the Dinniyeh group).

Adass’ friend Khaled Midhat Taha was a member of a cell headed by Hassan Nab’a (who also belonged to the Dinniyeh group).

BTW, the Dinniyeh group is also active in other areas:

Fatah al-Islam commander Shehab al-Qaddour (Abu Hureira) was reportedly a member of the Dinniyeh group.

Abu Ramez Sahmarani, once a “spokesman for the Dinniyeh rebels”, is now the Emir of Jund al-Sham (“Al-Nusra Network Presents a Dialogue with the Emir of Jund al-Sham, Sheikh Abu Ramez, with Questions from Forum Members”, SITE Institute, July 30, 2007; I guess that we have to conclude that reports about the dissolution of Jund al-Sham were premature).

Some members of Jund al-Sham reportedly have joined Fatah al-Islam.

Bilal Mahmoud (Abu Jandal) and his brother Khaled both belonged to the Dinniyeh group. Both reportedly were linked to Fatah al-Islam. Khaled resisted his arrest and Bilal was killed under unclear circumstances when the ISF tried to arrest him.

Ihab al-Banna is active in a group that is rumored to have supported Fatah al-Islam.

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August 5th, 2007, 4:11 pm

 

6. ausamaa said:

Shatir..shatir

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August 5th, 2007, 6:38 pm

 

7. majedkhaldoun said:

The lebanese spoke, they choose the people who supported better relations with Syria,Dr. Khourie won.
Amin Jumayyel, who is supported by Israel and USA, they spent a lot of money for Amin, they lost, it was not good for Amin to be president in the past, or to be the head of Phalange party,if USA support you,you will loose.
let Ja’Ja’ shout and yel, let Junblatt loose sleep, a defeat is a defeat, they represent the failing majority, the turnip revolution.
Insulting the Arman and Tushnaq party was a mistake by Jumayyel, I hope he realize this.

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August 5th, 2007, 8:53 pm

 

8. Kamal said:

Majedkhaldoun

You understand nothing about Lebanese sectarian politics. The Lebanese people did not “choose the people who supported better relations with Syria”. Both sides campaigned on anti-Syrian credentials because the Syrian regime is hated by the people of Lebanon, except the Shi’a, who are armed by Syria. Aoun was hurt, not helped, by endorsements from pro-Syrian traitors like the Lebanese Ba’th (yes, we have a branch), the SSNP, etc. He has squandered his support base among the Christian community. This is especially delicious after this election, where he dropped the secular pretense and campaigned on a blatant sectarian platform. Aoun has gone to hell again, and as always, dragging Lebanon down with him….

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August 6th, 2007, 5:17 pm

 

9. fadi said:

on the face value, it is a win for Aoun and syria but if you look deep it is a lose because Matin is not expressive of the real voice of people.

I don’t understand how a ragime like the syrian one can be supported or logically accounted for…the evn do not constitute a state…Don’t you read their contradictory comments and numbers about everything in Syria….with or without America, Syria is doomed for destruction just like Iraq….days between us…Mr Lundis, you still did not get to the essence of the syrian context desipte your everyday work on this issue…Syrians are suffering a serious disease known as the lose of Identity and belonging…they destroy with the persistent help of the supposed-to-be government the Syrian Dream (if i can call it).

the irony with the Lebanese elections is its democracy and the Syrian happiness of its result…what a tragicomic scene! Believe it or not, syria is attacking others with their democratic choice but at the end of the day, justice will prevail.

yours
fadi, syrian in what is called the SOURIA ALASSAD…

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August 7th, 2007, 7:13 pm

 

10. “Beirut power play” « James Martin said:

[…] The results of Sunday’s election in Metn could be a prelude to more chaos: with Syrian-backed President Emile Lahoud scheduled to step down by November 23, the presidency – a post that has to be filled by a Maronite Christian – will be left open for contest between Siniora’s forces and the opposition. With many predicting that the victorious party of Metn’s elections will hold the key to winning the presidency in the autumn, Khoury’s success seems to bode well for the ambitions of Aoun. With Aoun as president, the opposition would be firmly ensconced in the state and could thus be emboldened to force a complete takeover of the government. […]

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April 19th, 2008, 12:45 pm

 

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