More Commentary on the Metn Elections

The comment section of my post on the Metn election results stirred up interesting debate that provides further insight and analysis of the election. I have copied some representative extracts below.

Leb Christian said:

Aoun got plastered with this election. If you look at the figures, in 2005, his candidate reaped 63% of the vote with some 55000 votes, without forming any alliances with the likes of the baath, the SSNP, and Michel el Murr.

In 2007, his candidate barely got 50% of the vote with some 35000 votes, but with forming alliances with Hezballah (2000 votes), Baath, SSNP, Michel el Murr, Tachnag and the naturalized.

This is a huge step back, and evidence that Aoun has lost significant support among Christians. Furthermore, when you count the votes that are not “acquired” by alliances, he has about 20000 votes, so basically 30% of the Christians.

All in all, Aoun won a seat in Parliament, and lost the Presidency, and that’s a trade off many Lebanese including myself were very happy to make.

Gemayel on the other hand, while taking a loss, actually showed that he has the Christian vote. He lost a seat in parliament but emerged as a new Christian leader (as much as I despise him).

In 2005, his candidate got some 35000 votes, and the seat was not really contested. This year, despite the alliances of Aoun facing him, he got the same votes as the Aoun candidate( minus 418).

But that margin is well below the 2000 Shiites that votes for Aoun, and the several thousand naturalized that were paid to vote for Aoun.

So yes, despite my dislike for Gemayel, he managed to end the myth of Aoun being the sole Christian leader, and cornered Aoun.

August 7th, 2007, 7:58 am

Liz said: Edit

Amine Gemayel did not get the majority of Christian votes (Unless one counts the Greek Orthodox and the Armenians as heretics). He only got the voices of the separatists Maronites.

Anyway this is an opportunity for Aoun and Gemayel to reconsider drafting a common realistic political program away from the hardliner militaristic Geagea.
BTW: Elias Murr is no longer the President’s son in law.

August 7th, 2007, 12:30 pm

Antoun said:

Joshua,

A sound summary of the by-election, the Gemayel dynasty, and the Christian rivalries. Not so different from my own summary on my blog, but it’s more credible coming from a Westerner. No one can accuse you of bias or belonging to a particular faction.

I greatly appreciated your analysis of the inter-Christian rivalries, which surfaced during the campaign and indeed throughout the weekend.

From personal experience, I am a Lebanese Greek Orthodox with a Maronite mother from a Kataeb Beiruti family and an Orthodox father from the SSNP region of Koura. Bringing both these families together has had encountered some turbulence over the decades, but it has survived nonetheless. Politics is one subject that simply is not discussed when both families come together. Of course my mother “converted” to the SSNP when she married my father, but her family remains staunchly Kataeb with a staunchly right-wing, Maronite ’superiority’ complex.

Having eyes into both worlds was invaluable to me as a youngster growing up. It became aware to me that underneath this tense and bitter SSNP-Kataeb rivalry was an underlying resentment between the Orthodox and the Maronites. The Orthodox have tended to focus on their “Eastern” character, perhaps as a result of 1000 years of defiance to Rome and the West, whereas the Maronites have always emphasised their Western links. I believe this culminated in the two leading divergent paths when the Ottomans left and the Allies entered. The Orthodox desired to embrace their “Eastern” heritage by embarking on an endeavour to create a nation that highlighted such distinctive characteristics, whereas the Maronites obviously went in the opposite direction with the desire of escaping the very Eastern world the Orthodox cherished.

Of course, that’s not to say that all Orthodox are one side of the fence and the Maronites on the other. Definitely you’ll find Orthodox who support parties like the LF, Ahrar and the Kataeb, just as you’ll find Maronites who support the SSNP (the previous leader of the SSNP was a Maronite and figures such as Gibran Khalil Gibran were supportive of a greater Syrian nation).

But even when you do find, for example, Orthodox who support the LF/Kataeb, the person is looked upon as supporting the “Maronite” path of politics. I assume a similar image would be portrayed a l’envers of a Maronite who supported the SSNP.

Perhaps I’ve been lucky in that I have a mixed family so I can’t fall into this sectarian trap of choosing one over the other.

Obviously with the power of the Christians having diminished of late, a greater emphasis on a single “Christian” role (which is Aoun today) has formulated in place of a more sectarian and conflicting approach. But as we witnessed on the weekend, the old rivalry does occasionally like to flare up.

August 7th, 2007, 1:17 pm

Nur al-Cubicle said:

Take that, Feltman! Paf!

August 7th, 2007, 4:47 pm

Kamal said:

Sorry to interrupt the anti-Maronite orgy on Syria Comment but:

1) Who has the breakdown of the non-Maronite Christian vote? I haven’t seen it anywhere – if anyone has, please share it. I believe the non-Maronite Christians vote was split (as opposed to voting as a bloc) but I’m waiting for more data. Now, if that information is not available, on what basis does Prof. Landis claim Orthodox and Catholics voted for Aoun?

2) Having made the (as yet) baseless claim, the Prof embarks on a shoddy exposition of inter-Christian rivalries, which can be summed up as: Aoun is an anti-feudalist who has inspired the support of non-Maronite Christians, historically wronged by Maronites, in dealing a blow to a Maronite feudal clan, the Gemayels. This is so funny, because it takes a piece of Aounist civil war-propaganda dating back to the late 80s (”General Aoun vs the feudal establishment”) and gives it a new twist by inserting the inter-Christian angle. Of course the inter-Christian divide exists (a topic for another day) but it was never part of Aounist propaganda because Aoun’s targeted support base was, and remains, the largest Christian community in Lebanon, the Maronites!

The modern/secular vs traditional/feudal dichotomy employed by Aoun supporters is sheer nonsense. Aoun’s FPM is as much of a personality cult, or MORE, than Lebanon’s other parties (all flawed). The FPM identity is just as sectarian (Christian, esp. Maronite, anti-Syrian and anti-Muslim) as other Lebanese parties (all sectarian). They are 2nd only to Hizballa on the scale of fanatical devotion to the Great Leader. As for Aoun coming to sweep feudalism away, this is blatantly contradicted by Aoun’s shameless alliance with the pro-Syrian feudal clans Franjieh, Karameh, Arslan, Murr… Please Prof, don’t peddle this claptrap.

3) Anyone, please show me evidence of M14 officials making ‘racist’ statements against Lebanese Armenians. (I will join you in condemning it outright.) Anger at Tashnag, the Armenian political party, does not equal racism, neither does accusing the party of blundering, nor even threatening them with political retribution. Those of you hurling accusations are acting like Zionists who charge critics of Israel with anti-semitism.

t_desco said:

Pressures on the Daily Star: How the US government is Pressuring the Lebanese press to refrain from criticizing Sanyurah or even Solidaire. Many of you were surprised to see a fine investigative article about Solidaire by Lysandra Ohrstrom in the Daily Star, of all places. You were correct to be surprised. My highly reliable (and well-placed) sources in Beirut are telling me that there were very strong reactions against the article by the Sanyurah government and its allies in the US embassy. The strongest reaction came from the USAID which funds the investigative page through an “accountability and transparency” grant. Don’t you like how the US defines “accountability and transparency”? The person who secured the USAID grant wrote that “the political agenda of the donors is not to undermine the fuoad Siniora government“. …
As’ad AbuKhalil 

U.S. Keeps Close Vigil on Donors Sending Money to Aoun

The United States is keeping a tight vigil on Lebanese businessmen and other wealthy resident and non-resident Lebanese allegedly donating money to Gen. Michel Aoun and his Free Patriotic Movement.
The daily An Nahar on Tuesday, citing prominent sources, said “any citizen is subject” to the executive order issued by U.S. President George Bush which aims at blocking property of persons undermining Lebanon’s sovereignty or its democratic process and institutions. …
(Naharnet)

ausamaa said:

Aoun and his allies DEFEATED 14 March and their allies flat out. That is the bottom line, so let us not get too philosophical about it! The whole “good” world STOOD against Aoun, and he won.

So please, save us the headach and think of what will happen in “a” forthcoming Parlimentary Elections when Feb 14 and its “Good” supporters have to go against not only Aoun, but against Auon+Amal+Hizbullah+Franjeieh+Al Murr+SSNP+Karami+Yakan+ the rest of the “others”. It will be a disaster for the “good” guys. Can “they” not even think straight?

August 7th, 2007, 6:03 pm

Kamal said:

CHRISTIAN SUPPORT FOR AOUN DECLINES
But the General is still a leading presidential candidate
David Kenner, NOW Staff, August 3, 2007

http://nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=8821

According to a recent Sofres poll, Lebanese Christians have become steadily more critical of opposition leader Michel Aoun since the escalation of Lebanon’s political crisis in January. Nevertheless, Aoun remains the most popular choice for president. Explaining this situation goes a long way to revealing Aoun’s political strengths and weaknesses.

The poll, conducted in May by Sofres Liban, included 2,000 Lebanese Christians from across the country. Sofres Liban is the Lebanese branch of Taylor Nelson Sofres PLC, the #2 ranked global market research and information group based in London. It is worth noting, however, that the survey was done before the outbreak of conflict in Nahr al-Bared – events which likely impacted opinion on many of the issues covered.

According to the poll’s findings, the ongoing political deadlock has caused Aoun’s reputation to erode significantly among Christians. In a January Sofres poll, 50% of Christians stated that they had a favorable impression of Aoun, while 40% had a negative impression. By May, only 41% of Christians answered that they had a favorable opinion, and 52% had a negative opinion.

In contrast, March 14 leader Samir Geagea saw his favorability rating improve from 43% positive and 45% negative in January, to 54% positive and 40% negative in May.

The decline in Aoun’s reputation has been mirrored by a Christian shift toward March 14 in general. Christian support for March 14 grew from 35% in January to 42% in May, while support for March 8 shrunk slightly during the same time period, from 34% to 31%. 27% of Christians, however, still respond that they support neither March 8 nor March 14, a figure that has been relatively stable throughout the duration of the conflict.

The engine for this growing discontent seems to be Aoun’s alliance with Hezbollah. Many Christians are, and always have been, wary of the armed Shia group. When asked which party represented the greatest threat to them, 25% of Christians, a plurality, named Hezbollah. 55% of Christians favored the unconditional disarmament of Hezbollah in May – an increase from 47% two months prior. Disapproval of Aoun’s Memorandum of Understanding with Hezbollah has also increased recently, from 41% in March to 52% in May.

But despite the growing disagreement with General Aoun’s political alliances, a plurality of Lebanese Christians still favor Aoun in the upcoming presidential elections this September. According to the Sofres poll, Aoun was the choice of 34% of Christians for president. The next closest contender was Samir Geagea with 21%, followed by Amin Gemayel at 10%. 15% of Christians polled said that they supported none of the potential candidates for president.

So why does Aoun still come out ahead if his positions are losing support among the Christians?

Obviously, a major reason is that Aoun is the only opposition member who is a viable presidential candidate, while support for March 14 presidential candidates is divided between Geagea, Gemayel, Boutros Harb and Nassib Lahoud (who each hold on to 4% of Christian support) and others. The combined support of the top four March 14 candidates is 39% – exceeding the level of support for Aoun’s candidacy. As the presidential election nears, the March 14 coalition will likely settle on one candidate and thereby consolidate pro-government Christian support.

However, the advantage Aoun enjoys as the opposition’s central Christian figure should not be understated. His unique position as the only March 8 figure with real presidential stature has allowed him to gather Christians sympathetic to the opposition in a way that no candidate has been able among March 14 Christians.

Aoun also benefits from the fact that he is not defined solely by his current political stands. From the late 1980s until quite recently, Aoun established himself as one of Lebanon’s most uncompromising anti-Syrian leaders. From his attempt to drive the Syrians out of Lebanon in 1989 to his lobbying in favor of the American Syria Accountability Act in 2003, Aoun spent years building up a great deal of trust amongst Lebanon’s Christian community. While his current alliance with Hezbollah has greatly damaged this reputation, there are still some Lebanese Christians who hold out hope for the return of the “old Aoun.”

This is borne out when Lebanese Christians are asked what faction the next president should come from. In the Sofres poll, 29% of Christians favor a president from the March 14 camp, and 22% favor a president from March 8 – numbers relatively consistent with the overall balance of power between the rival factions in the Christian community. However, a substantial 11% of Christians announced that they favored an outcome where the March 14 coalition allied itself with General Aoun and supported him for the presidency.

Aoun’s advisors should be telling him that his presidential chances remain good – but that his alliance with Hezbollah is causing him to slowly bleed Christian support. He is currently benefiting from divided Christian strength among the March 14 forces and the strong support base he built up before 2005. However, these are two rapidly-dissolving advantages: the March 14 coalition will likely soon unite around a presidential candidate, and the longer Aoun remains tied to groups like Hezbollah, the faster many Christians are going to forget about his past accomplishments.

August 7th, 2007, 6:35 pm

Ford Prefect said:

Sorry to break into this interesting discussion of medieval sectarian strife in Lebanon, but the following from Reuters is worth the interruption:

Syria hosts Iraq security meeting, U.S. to attend

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
DAMASCUS, Aug 7 (Reuters) – Syria will host an international security meeting on Iraq on Wednesday although the United States doubts Damascus is willing to play a role in stopping violence in its eastern neighbour.

The two-day meeting will be held in a government complex on the outskirts of Damascus. Officials from Iraq, the United States, Britain, Iran, Turkey and Jordan will attend, a Syrian official said.

“Washington is making a gesture towards Syria by attending the meeting in Damascus,” a Syrian official told Reuters. U.S. officials held security talks in Baghdad this week with Syria’s ally Iran. After a visit to Damascus last month by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syria said explicitly for the first time it supports the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad.

One delegate said the meeting would focus on ways to control the 360-km (225 mile) border between Syria and Iraq and dismantling alleged Iraqi Baathist networks in Syria. “With all the talk of Syria as a transit route for rebels, it makes sense to hold the meeting here. This is a chance for Damascus to show it can cooperate and talk with U.S. officials. The two sides rarely meet,” the delegate said.

“A mechanism should also emerge for the Iraqis and Syrians to cooperate regularly on controlling the border,” he said. Washington says Syria is allowing fighters and weapons into Iraq. Damascus denies this and says ending instability in Iraq and achieving an “honourable withdrawal” for U.S. forces is in its national interest.

QUID PRO QUO
A diplomat in the Syrian capital said Damascus had kept its policy on Iraq vague in the absence of a U.S. promise to give Syria something in return for its cooperation, such as an easing of American sanctions that were imposed on Syria in 2004, or pressure on Israel to withdraw from the Syrian Golan Heights.

“So far Syria has been playing both hands. It puts out the right statements but does not move substantially on the ground,” the diplomat said. Syria fiercely opposed the American-led invasion of 2003 that removed Saddam Hussein from power and brought sectarian tensions to the surface. It has since hosted an estimated 1.4 million Iraqi refugees who have fled Iraq.

It also hosts a large number of former operatives from Saddam’s security forces whom the U.S.-backed Iraqi government accuses of having links with the rebels.

The Damascus meeting is a follow-up to a conference in Egypt in May in which senior U.S. and Syrian officials met each other for the first time in two years. Another follow-up meeting in Amman dealt with the refugee problem.

Although the Damascus meeting will focus on Iraq’s security concerns, Turkey is expected to raise the issue of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebel separatists who use Iraqi Kurdistan as a base. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki visited Turkey on Tuesday for talks on dealing with the PKK.

August 7th, 2007, 6:41 pm

kingcrane jr said:

ENLIGHTENED:

You are confusing representative Murr the father (Michel), the opportunist ex-Phalangist who has backed Awn’s candidate after trying to mediate a solution (an independent candidate) between the General and Amine Pierre Gemayel with Murr the son (Elias) who has been pretending to be an “independent” member of the government as Minister of Defense. Never mind the feeble-minded Gaby Murr, brother of Michel, and uncle of Elias, who attacked the Armenian community a bit like a Nazi barking against the German Jews at Krystalnacht. Other members of the family include Myrna Murr, daughter of Michel, who has no liking to politics despite her daddy’s insistence, and May Murr, sister of Michel and Gaby, who has allegedly converted from Greek Antiochian Orthodoxy to Greek Antiochian Catholicism (Melkite); she is a published author, but she has become more famous for her far-right political stance, and admiration (if not more) for Ariel Sharon when she interacted with him in the eighties.

My verdict: sooner or later, Awn (if given the opportunity) will have to stick to his radical reformist agenda and cut his ties with Michel Murr. The current alliance is based on popularity (Michel Awn) for money (Michel Murr), but who knows. Michel Murr has always kept a good relationship with some Phalangists but not with the Lebanese Forces. Back when Awn was in charge (of a divided Lebanon, Selim Hoss being in charge of West Beirut), Geagea purged the Lebanese Forces, and Awn sent in his men (the Army) to prevent the deaths of several Maronites on Geagea’s hit list, to include Elias Murr. This is one of several reasons why, despite Elias Murr’s divorce from Emile Lahoud’s daughter, he is unlikely to ally too obstentiously with the March 14 crowd, particularly Geagea.

August 7th, 2007, 7:08 pm

Addendum (August 9, 2007) (I was sent this by email)

Hey Josh,
This is my comment (in French) to what appeared in L'ORIENT-LE JOUR daily after the results of the Metn election (L'ORIENT article follows), as well as a commentary to a friend of mine who was questioning the "modernism" of Michel Aoun:
1)   Ma REACTION a l'entrefilet de L'ORIENT-LE JOUR du mardi 7 Aout 2007 (ci-dessous)
Allons Amine (et … L'ORIENT-LE JOUR), pour une fois, il faut reconnaitre la defaite et serrer la main de l'elu, aussi inconnu fut-il!  Car il a bel et bien deboulonne une figure de proue du clan Gemayel.  Et pourtant, les Gemayel m'ont toujours ete sympathiques.
Mais de la a "judaiser" les Armeniens et leur donner une dimension "ghettoesque", meme si le Tashnag m'a toujours ete un parti marginal, le fils aine de Sheikh Pierre est entrain de paniquer et sortir de ses gonds:  des relents a la "Bashir"!?  Et pourtant Amine (seconde par le fameux Karim) avait toujours beaucoup plus de tact diplomatique. 
On a tous pleure l'assassinat de Pierre; mais cela n'est pas une excuse pour endosser le crime sur le dos des Syriens sans preuves a l'appui.
Qu'on le veuille ou non, Michel Aoun (et un Liban plus moderne) sort le grand vainqueur de ce duel metniote, meme si les pourcentages de scrutin laissent a desirer dans le camp maronite.
Georges

2)   My friend's commentary followed by my explanatory answer to him: 
Je comprends bien ta reaction. Par contre, si tu vois une modernite chez Aoun, eh bien bonne chance!

Non Omar.
Ma reaction n'est pas seulement cantonnee dans le fait armenien.
Loin de la.
Je connais personnellement Amine, comme j'ai connu personnellement Bashir, ainsi que les Chader, Sheikh Pierre, Karim, etc. que je cotoyais tous a l'U.S.J.
Michel Aoun me semble des plus realistes ces jours-ci, car, bien qu'il ait ete dans le passe un farouche anti-Syrien, ses positions actuelles sont tres intelligentes.
A mon avis, le Liban ne doit jamais se bagarrer avec la Syrie, quel que soit les regimes ici et la.
Il y va de son economie.  Rien a regarder la carte geographique, on voit bien combien les deux pays sont largement solidaires sur tous les plans.  Et c'est plutot le Liban, vu son exiguite,  qui doit s'accommoder avec la soeur Syrienne.  Fouad Chehab a pu le faire dans le passe, meme face a Nasser.
Menager les Syriens, essayer de comprendre l'ampleur des exigences Shiites, savoir etre politicien a la Hafez Assad (que j'admire, tel un joueur d'echecs, avec certaines reserves – lire les bouquins de Patrick Seale et de Karim Pakradouni, entre autres) un tant soit peu, et etre a meme de cultiver certaines relations strategiques tant avec l'Iran qu'avec la Russie pour essayer de contrecarrer l'influence grandissante de la collusion Israelo-Americano-Saudienne, surtout apres les fiascos Irakien, Palestinien, Libanais et Afghan, cela demande une vision bien plus moderne et realiste que l'optique de se faire/se remplir  les poches comme l'a faite Monsieur 20%, en l'occurrence le fils aine du fameux Pierre.

Comments (27)


1. kingcrane jr said:

I made a mistake: Elias Murr is a Christian but NOT a Maronite.
When Geagea was purging the LF, Awn saved several Maronites including Hobeika, and Elias Murr, a Greek Antiochian Orthodox.

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August 7th, 2007, 10:11 pm

 

2. George Ajjan said:

Josh, I think you’ve got your history a bit mixed up in the original post. It was not for the French to determine the boundaries of Lebanon in consultation with Maronite leaders – the 10,452 sq. km were inscribed by God himself since the dawn of time.

Once again, you prove yourself to be a Syrian regime puppet, along with St. Matthew, St. Luke, and St. John.

Where’s John Quincy Adams when you need him?

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August 7th, 2007, 10:49 pm

 

3. Nur al-Cubicle said:

I meant to ask this earlier…if this is such a dramatic, emotionally-charged crucial moment in Lebanese history, why did only 20 to 40 % of the voters turn out? When LePen had a shot at the French Presidency a few years ago, turnout was 81%. The country is “teetering” and hardly anyone bothers to vote?? What does _that_ mean?

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August 7th, 2007, 10:52 pm

 

4. ausamaa said:

Leb Christian

(posted again so you dont miss it)

Ya, I know how you must feel. Actually with a mentality that is vulgar enough to choose a name like “Leb Christian” (linking a Country to a Religion), how else could you feel and act?

However, one must give credit where credit is due; at least you did not choose a name like “Matn Maronite” or “Triploi Suni” or “Shof Durz”. Which places you miles ahead of looser Amin Jemayyel who keeps repeating that he won the Maronite vote but lost because of the non-Maronite (non-Christian?!) Armenian vote!

BTW, Leb Christian, you just happen to belong to a country where Leb Suni + Leb Sheii + Leb Durzi far outnumber Leb Christian. Must be highly distressing to your likes. Well, if you dont mind my saying so, you should not be distressed at all. The Lebanon we know is called the Lebanese Republic not the Maronite Lebanese Republic or the Lebanese Christian Republic or the Lebanese Shieat Republic.

My God, what world do you and your likes live in? And you are “supposed” to be the Westernized, Modernized, Enlightened and the Highly Educated people of the “backward” Middle East. Well, many Lebanese for sure are. But not the likes of you, Leb Christian.

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August 7th, 2007, 11:30 pm

 

5. Nour said:

I just wanted to make a quick clarification and correction of the above post by Antoun. And I’m sure Antoun would agree with me. It is inaccurate to compare the SSNP to the Kataeb or the LF in terms of its “sectarian” identity. The Kataeb and LF are blatantly sectarian parties who were created for the purpose of endorsing a “Maronite” nationalism. The SSNP, on the other hand, is a wholly secular party that easily attracts members of all sects. In fact, the majority of members of the SSNP are not likely to be Greek Orthodox.

Granted the historical and social reasoning presented by Antoun behind many of the Orthodox sect’s attraction to the SSNP is valid. However, this is merely a side effect of the sectarian trend of Lebanese society, rather than a testament to the nature and character of the SSNP. The SSNP is actually the only Party in the Middle East with a clear secular ideology, expressed through well-defined, secular principles calling for the “Separation of Religion and State,” “Debarring the clergy from interference in judicial and political national matters,” and “Removal of barriers between the various sects and confessions.” Therefore to make a comparison between the Kataeb/LF and the SSNP from a sectarian perspective is not valid.

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August 7th, 2007, 11:32 pm

 

6. Enlightened said:

Nur Said:

“I meant to ask this earlier…if this is such a dramatic, emotionally-charged crucial moment in Lebanese history, why did only 20 to 40 % of the voters turn out? When LePen had a shot at the French Presidency a few years ago, turnout was 81%. The country is “teetering” and hardly anyone bothers to vote?? What does _that_ mean?”

It simply means that voter apathy is at an all time high! People are probably pissed at the inept representation and inept political leadership! Why else would people stay home and vote with their feet?
Like their vote would actually mean something!

King Crane I actually figured out that I got the two confused after I read and linked the old MIEB article with the link!

I am not surprised that a lot of feelings have surfaced because of these elections, what irks me is the level of sectarian bashing that underlies some comments, and it is appalling! Have we not learned anything form our history?

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August 7th, 2007, 11:54 pm

 

7. Kamal said:

There’s no doubt that voter apathy is high. As the poll I posted above shows, most Christians support NEITHER SIDE! One thing Lebanese Christians do agree on is the threat posed by Hizballa (25% plurality) and the need to disarm that foreign-owned Shi’a fanatical militia (55% majority).

Like other Lebanese, I personally have a clearer view of what I oppose, than what I favor. My #1 priority is to oppose Syrian hegemony in Lebanon, but I am not proud to see Lebanon as a US client and I will never vote for ex-Syrian puppets, corrupt tycoons and war criminals. I would have abstained from the Metn election, because as much joy as it would bring me to see Aoun fail, I could never bring myself to vote for Amin Gemayel.

And like me, according to the Pew poll, the Lebanese do have a clear picture of what they oppose:

Nearly two thirds of all Lebanese (64%) have an unfavorable view of Hizballa, including a 55% majority who say their opinion of the organization is very unfavorable. Only Lebanese Shias (86%) have a favorable view of Hizbullah. 66% of Christians, 33% of Sunnis and 7% of Shias cited Hizbullah as a “top threat”. Two thirds of Lebanese Christians and 52% of Lebanese Sunnis said Syria was a threat to their country, but only 8% of Shia shared that view….

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August 8th, 2007, 1:23 am

 

8. why-discuss said:

I believe that this is like a abces opening… I guess all these elements have always been here. Now that all the demons are out, the ones that generations of weak maronites president and inept governement had thrown under the carpet for the next one: It is the moment of truth. I believe that this catharsis may be much more productive than the civil war that solved nothing. Now the lebanese are waking up to the 21th century realities of this country and they’ll have to deal with the issues as ignoring them threatened the whole existence of this country: The palestinians refugees presence and its corollary: Israel, the representativity of the forgotten Shias, the role of the president etc… let see if they will.

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August 8th, 2007, 1:31 am

 

9. Alex said:

Kamal,

That poll reminds us again and again that the core problem in Lebanon is that you have an incompatible number of groups of Lebanese people trying to agree on how they will shape and share Their country.

I don’t see a way out. Do you?

Another problem that severely affects a total of 25% of the population (mostly Sunnis, Christians, and Druze), and mildly to moderately affects another 10% or 20% is that they still hate Syria and they would like to have closure for all the wrongs during the past few decades of Syrian dominated Lebanon. Closure in this case is “revenge” … one third of the Lebanese people today are Syria’s enemies, not vice versa.

Will this second problem go away by itself? … no. Normally people should be able to forget the corruption of the Syrian era (especially that Lebanon is always corrupt anyway). Normally people can forget the casualties of the seventies and early 80’s at the hand of Syrian soldiers especially that Syria was trying to stop the Lebanese civil war and it did, and it lost thousands of its own young soldiers in the process.

But as long as there is a whole media empire specialized in anti-Syria lies and deception financed by the same people who copied and pasted this article last month from this invented article (from the same site who claimed Saddam was hiding his nuclear weapons in Syria), and as long as those same revenge seeking Lebanese are still buying every silly and every stupid and every outrageous story invented by those journalists and the people behind them, then Lebanon is only punishing itself, not Syria.

Look at the Syrian people .. they are mostly happy. They don’t hate anyone. Look in Lebanon.. those 30% who are dying to have their revenge from Syria are bitter and frustrated … they are living from one Michel Young editorial to the next … hoping to hear anything that gives them hope Syria will be punished somehow.

Until you are ready to be satisfied with “I don’t know who killed Harir or Gemayel, I will wait for the investigation”, you will continue to hate Syria and continue to be stuck … because Lebanon can not move forward while hating Syria.

You need a Lebanese Gandhi who will enlighten those who are in the darkness (wearing Armani suits and driving BMW’s).

If you want to ask Joshua, he will tell you that most Syrian people would not allow their government to get too involved in Lebanese affairs anymore … the attitude is: “Thank god we went out of Lebanon”

It is over … time to get over the past.

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August 8th, 2007, 2:43 am

 

10. Enlightened said:

Alex Said;

“You need a Lebanese Gandhi who will enlighten those who are in the darkness (wearing Armani suits and driving BMW’s).”

I am available and willing, Il only have to swap my Honda over for a BMW, and get over my dislike for owning BM’s

“It is over … time to get over the past.”

Alex its nice to say that but for many people they cannot get over it, the wounds are all too recent, and all too fresh, it will take the generation to dissappear before these attitudes change, for example my mother is very anti Syrian, she lost a brother during the Syrian Army incursion into Tripoli ( he was an innocent bystander according to her), for her the only revenge would be to see Syria/Syrian government punished. It is hard for people to let go of their attitudeds , you know what they say about Arabs and revenge.

Personally I think both countries need to move on, nothing is achieved by revenge, hatred, bigotry or malice, but I think BOTH countries need to investigate those in power and hold them accountable for their actions during the civil war years, I think Syrian heavy handedness, and Lebanese Militia belligerence and atrocities during the war are too fresh in the minds of both the populations.

But lets be realistic this is never going to happen, so we will more distasteful attitudes both sides of the border, the Lebanese will think that the Syrians are to blame for everything, and the Syrians will see the Lebanese as Ungrateful.

Thank God I am Australian

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August 8th, 2007, 3:05 am

 

11. Alex said:

Enlightened,

Please ask your mother the following: Why is it that the Lebanese Christians have managed to forgive the Druze who intentionally killed many more Christians than the Syrian army ever did (mostly accidentally) … Geagea is Jumblat’s political partner these days!

Why is it that the Lebanese Christians do not hate each other the way they hate the Syrians? .. Aoun and Geagea killed more Christians and destroyed more of the Christian areas when they fought each other, than the Syrian army ever did.

Why are the Lebanese not upset at Hariri’s family fortune going up from 3 billions to 12 billions during his acting as prime minister? Why is the Syrian corruption in Lebanon impossible to forgive?

Just because the Syrians carry a different Passport?

Most of the hate is designed in the US, France (Chriac’s time) and KSA. It is implemented through an ongoing, orchestrated (from outside) anti-Syria media campaign … they succeeded in portraying Syria as the devil on earth in the minds of some of the Lebanese people… that’s the reason for the outstanding hate that keeps getting stronger with time.

We don’t need another generation … we need to stop the hate machine. .. everyone would be a winner that way … the United States, Syria, and of course Lebanon.

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August 8th, 2007, 4:49 am

 

12. Enlightened said:

Alex Ive already asked that question, the simple fact is that Lebanese killed more Lebanese than the Syrian Army ever did , this is a fact and not political pointscoring, the civil war could have ended far earlier if there was not money to be made by all those in charge. My mother is caught in that “old” world mentality, and she watches to much Harriri TV ( Me and my brother tried to take down a portrait of Harriri in her house and she went ballistic, we barely escaped with our lives! lol)

“they succeeded in portraying Syria as the devil on earth in the minds of some of the Lebanese people… that’s the reason for the outstanding hate that keeps getting stronger with time.”

Alex that hate started way before the campaign, you need to be a little more forthcoming Syrias heavy handedness in Lebanon was also to blame and contributed to this hate, Yes the KSA, USA and France are partly to blame, Syria and its government are also to blame, I have only heard One Syrian politician come out and say that we were heavy handed in Lebanon.

When I met my only uncle (on my fathers side ) when he came to Australia he told me a few war stories. One in particular irked me! The rest I put it down to war. He was forced to buy breakfast for two Syrian soldiers at a checkpoint that he passed to go to work for 4 years. I told him that I was happy he was fostering good relations with our brothers across the border, and that it was a small price to pay, since he was getting a $1400 monthly allowance from his sons in Australia. If looks would kill his response indicated that he did not appreciate my humour. My point is the Syrians Army presence did not win hearts and minds in Lebanon to the contrary it did irreperable damage that will need a generation to forget. Much in the same way that the older generation talked about the Ottoman heavy handedness in Lebanon.

I remember my fathers words on this matter succintly ! He used to say that us Lebanese “Mnes teh hel” ( Or we deserve it!) He always felt that as Lebanese the collectively all suffered from a disease called Hubris.

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August 8th, 2007, 5:30 am

 

13. Alex said:

Enlightened,

I like your approach. Go to Lebanon and start a political party.

I will try to convince the Syrians (and the “Lebanese” Armenians) to dump Aoun and support you instead.

: )

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August 8th, 2007, 5:44 am

 

14. Enlightened said:

Yes I will call the Party The Tashak Party! Can anyone translate? You will find it amusing if you can!

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August 8th, 2007, 7:19 am

 

15. Kamal said:

Come on Alex. Lebanese aren’t victims of some PR campaign. They know Syria (as a regime) very well, better than Syrians even, because we have experienced the regime directly and seen its true colors. Syrians, who are living under totalitarianism, are far more easily fooled by propaganda campaigns, than the cynical Lebanese who are used to multiple viewpoints and various interests competing for Lebanon…

Lebanese anger at Syria has both historical and contemporary causes. It has to do with:

1. A history of violent Syrian aggression, directly or by smuggling arms to insurgent groups (dating back to the 50s)

2. Syrian non-recognition of Lebanese sovereignty and independence and the desire of many Syrians to “unify with” Lebanon (like a wolf “unifying with” a sheep)

3. The experience of living under Syrian occupation (which included daily humiliations of ordinary people like the story told by Enlightened – and much worse)

4. The kidnapping, imprisonment, torture and execution of thousands of Lebanese citizens; to this very day, hundreds are rotting in Syrian dungeons

5. A decades-long policy of assassinating Lebanese leaders with car bombs and death squads

6. The theft of Lebanon’s resources (in collaboration with Lebanese elites)

7. The attack on Lebanon’s democratic institutions (parliament, elections, free press and media) from the beginning of the Syrian Occupation to the present

8. Syrian manipulation, exacerbation and exploitation of Lebanese sectarianism; use of sectarian ‘divide and rule’ tactics

9. Continued Syrian violations of the Lebanese border, continued occupation of 4% of Lebanese lands, a refusal to delineate the border or exchange embassies (i.e. continued rejection of Lebanese independence)

10. Continued Syrian meddling in Lebanese affairs and terrorization of Lebanese citizens, more directly and blatantly than anything on the other side, because Syria feels its meddling is “natural”

11. Use of Lebanon as a battlefield for proxy wars against Israel, with total contempt for the will of the Lebanese people and their safety

For Christians, anti-Syrian sentiment is particularly strongly felt because Christians bore the brunt of Syrian artillery blitzkfriegs against Zahle, Ashrafieh and others; Christians endured the worst repression during the Syrian Era (because they were only community who resisted); and Christians were deliberately disenfranchised by Syrian-Hariri electoral redistricting, leading to the mess we are presently in.

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August 8th, 2007, 11:59 am

 

16. Anonymous said:

If you want to ask Joshua, he will tell you that most Syrian people would not allow their government to get too involved in Lebanese affairs anymore … the attitude is: “Thank god we went out of Lebanon”

It is over … time to get over the past.

Have you been reading Joshua at all? All Joshua has been advocating is a deal to get Syria involved and in control of Lebanon again. I believe there was recently a post entitled “Syria wants a Lebanon deal” where Joshua detailed just exactly how much, and how deep, he wants Syrian control of Lebanese affairs. Joshua, and you, want to recreate the past.

The lying hate machine is right here and you are part of it.

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August 8th, 2007, 12:25 pm

 

17. ausamaa said:

Kamal,

Now what “mess” are you talking about. You wanna get serious? Go and hold a Census first and let us find exactly Who Is What in Lebanon, and either before or after that, go convince your ENLIGHTENED countrymen to remove Religion and Ethnic Group from your Lebanese Identity Cards so citizens can be treated as Citizens and not as Followers. Followers have to follow someone, local and regional, Citizens follow their State. Something many Lebanese never wanted to have.

Yours is a System based on the most premitive and backward and of all social and political concepts and kept alive by the most corrupt (morally and financially) personaleties you can find in the whole area, and you have the nerve to lecture people about how Lebabnon would have been Heavens except for Syrian meddling. Wallah!!!!

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August 8th, 2007, 3:22 pm

 

18. George Ajjan said:

Actually, Ausamaa, to be fair, I don’t believe that Lebanese ID cards any longer state the taefa.

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August 8th, 2007, 3:52 pm

 

19. why-discuss said:

Alex

Of course Syria has claims on Lebanon , has controlled the country political and economical life and allowed itself and its lebanese allies to get richer (i.e Hariri etc..)
Yet, there is one good reason the Lebanese cannot forgive Syria. Lebanese have always, I say always, considered that they were superior to syrians that they looked down as underdevelopped peasants. The humiliation of been saved and ruled for years by people you despise can only be compensated by hatred, revenge and return humiliations. That’s what we are seeing exposed in the anti-syrian politicians and press.
I doubt the Lebanese will ever accept Syria as a equal partner…

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August 8th, 2007, 4:03 pm

 

20. Kamal said:

Ausamaa,

I’d love to work on fixing my own house (no, it was never heaven) but it’s difficult under external fire. Why don’t you fix your own country and leave us alone?

As far as I know, no Lebanese has ever invaded Syrian soil, bombed a Syrian city, stolen Syrian public funds, shut down a Syrian TV station, assassinated a Syrian MP, armed a fanatical militia in Syria, kidnapped citizens from Syria and kept them in Lebanese dungeons, launched attacks on Israel from Syrian territory, denied Syrian independence and sovereignty, set up a checkpoint on Syrian roads and humiliated Syrian citizens, interfered in Syrian redistricting and elections, etc.

Yet somehow, Syrians feel threatened and feel under attack by puny Lebanon. How sad. I have as much sympathy for Syrians-threatened-by-Lebanon as I have for Israelis-threatened-by-Palestinians.

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August 8th, 2007, 4:09 pm

 

21. Kamal said:

Why Discuss,

Sure. Blame it on Lebanese racism and superiority complex. Blame it on US PR campaigns brainwashing gullible people. Blame it on anything but the sordid history of Syrian tyranny in Lebanon.

Do you realize how silly it is to say Lebanon will never accept Syria as an equal partner? This is like saying Cuba will never accept America as an equal partner, or Georgia will never accept Russia as an equal partner.

Let me guess, in your estimation, Palestinian anger at Israel is caused by “PLO brainwashing and Islamist propaganda” and “Arab anti-semitism” – not the history and experience of Israel aggression and occupation?

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August 8th, 2007, 4:21 pm

 

22. Alex said:

Kamal,

Your list has a lot of fiction. Please go back to proven facts and to numbers. the past seven years (since Bachar came to power) the past two+ years since Syria withdrew from Lebanon … what can you PROVE what Syria did wrong in Lebanon? can you prove that a single murder was ordered from Damascus? NO YOU CAN NOT.

Using the small/large scale to prove that Lebanon can not pose a threat to Syria is not really valid. Threats can come in many forms. Lebanon’s geographic position (within Syria, if you look at the map again) … those uncontrollable borders leak both ways.

You probably do not want to know (or remember) that in 1979 to 1982 when the Muslim Brotherhood was placing bombs in Syrian buses and markets a lot of their weapons found their way into Syria through Lebanese borders… The others (Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia) were careful not be caught, so they preferred to send the weapons to the MB terrorists through Lebanon… if those weapons were caught, “Lebanon” can not be accountable because there are a thousand armed factions there… so the weapons came mostly from Lebanon.

Jumblatt promised publicly to assassinate Syria’s popular (yes popular) president Bashar.

Michel Aoun (our friend today) tried to assassinate Hafez Assad when Hafez visited Clinton in Switzerland in 1999! … The Americans published captured Iraqi intelligence documents including a letter from Aoun to Saddam (his ally at the time) asking him to buy him a couple of missiles that he can manage to place in France near the French Swiss border close enough to hit Assad’s civilian plane.

If Lebanon did not kill enough Syrians, it is certainly not for lack of trying. Those same Lebanese warlords who ordered tens of thousands of their own countrymen killed (because they did not like their religion) surely did not shy away from killing Syrians as much as they could. Thirteen thousand Syrian soldiers died at the hands of Lebanese killers who did not want the Syrians to stop them from killing other Lebanese.

Do you hear Syrians hating you because of that?

Today, Lebanon has intelligence activities by many of the countries acting against Syria’s interests… Lebanon’s government welcomes these activities and I hope you can agree that people like Jumblatt and geagea are themselves active agents for foreign countries acting against Syria. If you tell me that you don’t consider this collaboration a threat to Syria, then I will not bother discussing things further.

As long as Lebanon can not control these things, Syria needs to be there as well, not directly but through its allies and friends… Damascus is only an hour away from Lebanon.

As I said earlier, from all the opinion polls I analyzed, there is a 20 to 35% of Lebanese who are in your state of mind regarding Syria. Do you want to respect the others in your country who do not hate Syria that much? .. the Shiites and Armenians, and Aounists who do not hate Syria are still Lebanese, no?

You can believe the Saudi and Hariri news stories, or you can believe what I am telling you here: The Syrians understand Lebanon very well. They know the numbers. When those 30% who hate Syria and would do anything they can to hurt Syria, manage to get over their hate, they will be helping their own country have the perfect relations with Syria. There will be a Syrian ambassador and there will be more trade and more investment in Lebanon by Syrian businessmen. And there will definitely NOT be Syrian troops.

There will be much less Hizbollah privileges.

You can decide to keep your highly exaggerated and highly imaginary “Top 10 reasons why I hate Syria” that you wrote earlier, or you can help yourself and help your country by getting over the bitterness.

I wish my words would sound positive to you because they are. If you don’t want to get over it, then don’t wait until one of those wonderful outsiders will help you get rid of the Syrians. It is not a regime specific thing, Syria is Syria… can you remove Syria the country?

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August 8th, 2007, 6:17 pm

 

23. ausamaa said:

George Ajjan

Well, that will be a step forward. I was not aware that Lebanese ID Cards do not list the sect any longer. But during the last election I could not but notice that Polling Stations were devided according to Sects. One Polling site was dedicated only to ” Armenians, Catholics, Jews, etc, ….), another said ” Maronites”, another said “Sunnies” and another said “Shiaat, Allawies, Bahaaies, etc..).

Anyway, I hope the times come when all this sectarian division takes a back seat to one real Lebanese State.

But….

InShallah!

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August 8th, 2007, 9:50 pm

 

24. Enlightened said:

Ausamma Pontificated:

‘Yours is a System based on the most premitive and backward and of all social and political concepts and kept alive by the most corrupt (morally and financially) personaleties you can find in the whole area, and you have the nerve to lecture people about how Lebabnon would have been Heavens except for Syrian meddling. Wallah!!!!”

Since you are talking to K in the first person narrative, for your comment to have any sense of credence or credibility you must lump Syria’s government into your statement, unless you are not speaking from any bias that is ?

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August 9th, 2007, 5:58 am

 

25. everd said:

Hello,
for those who asked about the detailled results of the Metn by-election, I recommand to read a detailled analysis by Elie Fayad in L’Orient Le Jour :
http://www.lorient-lejour.com.lb/page.aspx?page=article&id=349452
It tends to show that Aoun’s victory didn’t owe to the Armenians but rather to the Shias. Interresting.
Eric

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August 10th, 2007, 8:30 am

 

26. 3antar said:

and for those who want to get a clearer picture of how each side perceives their position please view the following link. I’m sure number of you are familiar with the program.

LBC : Kalam el nas 2007-08-05
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Kalam+el+nas+%28part+1%29+2007-08-05&search=Search

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August 10th, 2007, 8:56 am

 

27. Leb Christian said:

Ausamaa

(posted again so you don’t miss it)

The usual vomit from you, incapable of debating on the issues but rather adrerssing a nickname.

In case you didn’t know, you cannot add The Druze, the Sunnis and the Shiites together. As a matter of fact, they would get offended in your attempt to place them in the same bag. So sorry, but as usual you don’t have a point. As a single community the Christians are the biggest community in Lebanon. I know how that must make you feel, but you can keep dreaming of getting rid of us.

Tell me is your nickname in celebration of Ben Laden? If it was, are you too chicken shit to admit it on a public forum?

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August 10th, 2007, 9:23 pm

 

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