Friday, July 04, 2008

Elect-Aoun-eering -- Political Mud

Part I, Part II, Political Mud, The Machine

With all the clarity, and righteousness of the fight to restore the country’s sovereignty and throw off the yolk of an increasingly unbearable Syrian occupation and political status quo, has come the mud of the sometimes necessary politics engaged in the pursuit of those goals. The quadripartite alliance stands as a primary symbol of that mud.

It should be conceded that the alliance did provide an electoral victory for the anti-Syrian movement directly following the withdrawal of Syria's military and intelligence apparatus from the country, in the presence of national institutions thoroughly infiltrated by the Syrian regime [and its proxies], and without the need to delve [too much] into the political gerrymandering for which a two-thirds parliamentary vote would surely to have gotten bogged down in a pro-Syrian-dominated Parliament.

Even more significantly, the agreement was seen as having locked Hizballah into a political framework which would have inevitably lead the group to either give up its weapons and dual existence alongside the state; or use those weapons in a confrontation against the revolutionary sentiment sweeping the country, even while its prime brokers and supporters (Syria and Iran) were to come under the magnifying lens of international scrutiny.

This, mind you, after Hizballah had sought to crush (by staging the March 8th demonstrations) any Shiite empathy with: the Hariri assassination; the overall anti-occupation wave vis-a-vis the Syrians, which many Shiites with roots in the formerly Israeli-occupied South could sympathize with, and themselves had to contend with in Beirut and its southern suburbs; and the Cedar Revolution.

Of course the entire country now knows Hizballah’s response to the initiative [and others like it]: two wars, a wave of civil strife and unrest, and a complete economic shutdown (except in the weapons trade). A view of the group as being purely an Iranian-proxy and extension of the paramilitary infrastructure of that country’s theocratic autocracy would have rendered these results as self-evident. But the initiative, at least, attempted to provide the group with a mechanism to restructure itself to reflect purely Lebanese goals and agendas. It didn’t.

Another unsavoury, and at the time (as now and as will be in 2009) totally unacceptable, consequence of the alliance was the reinstatement of Nabih Berri as the Parliamentary Speaker, even as his replacement was constitutionally (don’t laugh) viable and even while some within the Cedar Revolution movement, most notably Walid Jumblatt, were calling for the removal of another Syrian lackey, then-President Emile Lahoud, through protests and other non-institutional measures. Here again, an argument for the mud of politics can be made ... but I won’t be the one to make it.

Nonetheless, and despite varied degrees of crisis and mismanagement, the mud produced by the quadripartite alliance has not totally overshadowed the fight for a sovereign Lebanon: The occupying Syrian Army has withdrawn from most of Lebanese territory; the Lebanese Army has deployed over most of that territory and has faced down a [Syrian-inspired] terrorist insurgency in Nahr el Bared; the rebuilding of Nahr el Bared has gotten under way and the camp is destined to become the first Palestinian camp on Lebanese territory to be policed by the Lebanese government and security services; Politically, draft bills for progressive parliamentary electoral laws and a law governing the reinstatement and administration of a revived Constitutional Council have been presented after the Syrian infiltration of both those institutions rendered them unviable; And internationally, the government has successfully pushed for international backing in its attempts to control its unstable borders.

The same, however, cannot be said of the piles of orange political mud and the effect they have had on the political principles of a man and a movement whom at one time it would have been inconceivable to imagine anti-Syrian bloc without, but who today, and over the past three years, have stood as the primary obstacles to that bloc’s operation ... and I’m not just talking about that miserable piece of garbage (or toilet paper) known as the MoU – tattered, as it has been, several times over by the events of this past May.

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