Thursday, November 08, 2007

Presidential Recap

For the past week, we’ve been quiet on the issue of the upcoming presidential election, but that’s only because we’ve already said most of what needs to be said.

We’ve shown what’s legal and what’s not; we’ve shown why the politics of some have pushed them to take a certain stance on the Presidency; and we’ve shown why the sects of some have pushed them to take the stances they have taken on the Presidency.

We’ve shown what questions the people should be asking of their presidential candidates; we’ve shown who those candidates might be; and what their “true” political stances or objectives are.

We’ve also shown why and how, both the Syrians and their allies led by Hizballah will go to any ends to prevent the election of a President capable of implementing the international resolutions and internal conciliations that will act as the country’s bulwarks of sovereignty and democracy.

So having said all that, could it be that the past two weeks have really added nothing new to the impending presidential election? No, of course not – there was Paris, after all. But if Paris proved one thing, then it was aptly summarized by this quote [highlighted in an excellent post by Anton Efendi at Across the Bay]:
Aoun has clearly realized that the Memorandum of Understanding was a grave mistake. However, it appears that the threat of assassination will be able to keep him from jumping ship and making a deal with March 14.
That quote was taken from another excellent editorial piece on NOW Lebanon, in which another quote is worth highlighting:
Some sources suggest that in his talks with Saad Hariri, Aoun went so far as to outline a theoretical six-month disarmament plan for Hezbollah, to be implemented after his election as president.

Regardless of whether or not this rumor has any merit to it, the fact that it seems plausible highlights quite clearly why Hezbollah, Syria, and their other friends have no intention of ever letting the General close to Baabda.
But how new is this? Isn’t that the line pushed by most rational observers since the signing of that ridiculous Memorandum of Understanding? It is.

And for all the talk of Iranian-Saudi agreement on Lebanon and the Presidency, the implementation of that agreement will continue to rely on a man who has preferred to embarrass his masters in Tehran and tote the Syrian line instead. A line which once again is summarized as: "a name" [in this case Suleiman's] or chaos.

So sit tight and get ready for the ride. When your silver lining depends on Aoun making the right choices and Nasrallah ignoring Bashar (seeing as the French are simply incapable of taking a firm stand with Syria and denying them the room to assassinate - I mean maneuver! - which the regime seems to crave) you know you're in for a rough ride!


  1. Great analysis, as usual. The only thing I was a bit astonished about was your comment on "seeing as the French are simply incapable of taking a firm stand with Syria and denying them the room to assassinate - I mean maneuver! - which the regime seems to crave".

    I mean: Sarko is no friend of Bashar, for sure, but let's face it, even as we have the best interest in a stable, democratic and peaceful Lebanon, there is absolutely nothing we can do against Syria... What leverage do we have? We don't even have a plane carrier available, which is probably the only thing the Syrians would understand. And we don't do political assassination ourselves anymore, at least since the shooting of a couple of Kanak activists during the 80's...

  2. Anonymous6:42 PM

    It is truly incredible the conspiracy theories you resort to. Your wishful thinking and ignorance of facts is astounding. Still the opposition will win, we have the people and the argument on our side. Hariri might even be smart enough to join us, if so welcome. We take all but Not Geagea, Jumblat or Siniora who are traitors.

  3. BJ, don't you think you've missed analyzing the position of the Maronite Patriarch and his Church?

  4. Orange Storange7:54 PM

    I guess we'll see if Aoun will have the cohones to leave the terrorists.

    If he does, it will be a first step to rebuilding the future...

    ...if the Syrians/Hezbollah don't kill him first!

  5. Hey Sol2,

    Thats a good question and after having put up the post I looked it over and asked myself the same thing.

    But we have to be clear on not only what the Patriarch's position is, but how it can be implemented.

    For the former, my Electing a Lebanese President 102B post provides a thorough analysis on the Maronite Church's overall view of the seat of the Presidency (that post is linked to in the above one).

    For the latter, the prelate will always be able to only give recommendations - and not orders (unlike some of his counterparts in the Muslim community). And whenever those recommendations are not taken, the resultant implication oh his position and his church is negative. So far Sfeir hasn't proved himself smart enough (to put it bluntly) to bypass those limitations on his seat and effectuate policies beneficial to his community.

  6. 102B is good, yet it is an analysis purely in terms of sectarian power politics. Something seems to be missing: the theological motivations and justifications for the Patriarch's activities, a description of the power he wields, and why what he says is personally important to key Christian politicians and Lebanon's Christians.

  7. Thats because (in my opinion) sectarian power politics is all that is relevant in this framework.

    Despite all the woohaha, there is really nothing that religious about the country's sectarian politics.

    The Maronite Church is interested in preserving its community in Lebanon and it is interested in preserving a "way of life" which would ensure the perseverance of some Christian laws as applied to Christians and deny the applicability of non-Christian laws on Christians [e.g. civil marriage, or the banning of the sale of alcohol]... that what you're asking?

  8. Alphast:

    I think its important to say that there is the will to take a strong stance in Sarko's administration, but they undermine themselves by rushing to Damascus everytime Bashar winks at them.

    Those visits, by Kouchner and Cousseran provide the Syrians with breathing room in that they allow the Syrians to use the visits as a show that they are not isolated and that there are no reprecussions for their continued violent interference.

    That, in turn, leads to more assassinations and violent disruptions.

  9. Not quite, BJ. I'm more interested in how the Patriarch and his bishops justify themselves, and what stick they could wield if recalcitrant Christian politicians refuse to obey their wishes.

  10. Public Opinion

    I think thats the answer to your question Sol2. Despite all the politics and politicians, the Patriarch's word is still held high by members of his community. A declaration by the prelate that some politician is harming the interests of Christians in Lebanon would go some way in discrediting that politician.


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