Thursday, March 15, 2007

Patriarch Games

Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir, the ecclesiastic leader of Lebanon's largest and most politically empowered Christian sect, is playing a dangerous game. One he hopes will shield his community's national interests and positions, while striking a balance between the two political camps into which his community, indeed the country as whole, has been split.

By standing squarely against a UN ratification of the International Tribunal bill under Chapter 7, the Patriarch has moved to plug what he (and many others) continues to perceive as a hemorrhaging of Christian political influence in Lebanon. This hemorrhaging is widely attributed to the complete (and so far effective) bypassing of that community's highest ranking political representative, Emile Lahoud, which has resulted in a situation of broad-based consensus to the isolation of the institution of the Presidency of the Republic, until (at least) the ratification of the International Tribunal.

Although widely accepted as justification enough for the prelates worries, the above reasoning comes short of fully revealing the perceived magnitude of this predicament and the extent to which the Patriarch has found he has to maneuver to avert his community's decline. For the Patriarch, and those who share his perspective on the reshuffling of powers since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, the greater danger to his community lies in the fact that those countries to which his community has historically turned to for support in the face of internal and external pressures, namely France and the U.S., now seem to have formed direct and robust links with the political leaders of the two other communities that make up the current anti-Syrian alliance, Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt. Such a situation could bode badly for the Patriarch, and those he shares leadership of the Christian community with, if and when those western backers decide it is time to sit down and negotiate a regional compromise aimed at averting a Shiite-Sunni split while potentially sacrificing Christian interests in the country.

But while those in the pro-Syrian opposition have relished the recent stance put out by Bkirki, those in the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority, have quickly moved to negate the fears that prompted it. That is what prompted Saad Hariri, to rush to Bkirki following the second installment of the ‘Berriri’ talks, reassuring the prelate that “the March 14 Forces were united and that we are a national force that wants the international tribunal [to try suspects in the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and others] to be established in accordance with the Constitution”, and to Bzimmar to meet with the leader of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, following the third installment and where Hariri felt compelled to state “…there is nothing that comes between us, the March 14 Forces.”

And for all their faults, that is where those Christians within the March 14 Forces have gotten it right. No matter where one stands, there is obviously enough material in the conspiracy theories being circulated to warrant such a strong stance by the Patriarchy, but in staying resolutely within the March 14th alliance those politicians have attributed (at least in my judgement) a correct prioritization of the issues that face the nation and the community, both in importance and chronology. For no matter what you want to get out of Lebanon’s new-born struggle for independence it is painfully clear that we as a people will not allowed a chance at a peaceful existence so long as the regime next door feels it is free to act as it wishes in it. And while those in the opposition continue to stall, obstruct, and thwart efforts to pass the International Tribunal under a firm Lebanese mandate under the pretense of those conspiracies, they continue to allow Syria a free hand in the attacks and assassinations that are bleeding our country dry.


  1. mahsoub9:13 PM

    Because Christians are insecure Lebanon will go back to Syria!

  2. Jimmy9:42 PM

    If it wasn't for the Christians Syria and the other arabs would have taken Lebanon a long time ago ya habibi.

  3. Anonymous1:02 AM

    someone tells these idiots to shutup please...Jade?

  4. Actually, I am swayed by Charles Rizk's argumentation. With an additional proviso; if we cannot agree on that simple basic issue, we might as well not have a country.

  5. Anonymous3:24 AM

    Blacksmith jade where is that orange retard who used to post here? is he too embarrassed to post because aoun became a new ayatollah?

  6. BSJ,

    Aoun's Labyrinth, and then Patriarch Games. You're on a roll with movie adapted themes. I suggest we post an "Ennemies of the state post" to keep it going. Intresting title, interesting content. Heads up BSJ.


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