A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lebanon: Can't Anybody Here Figure Out How to Govern?

Even the redoubtable Lebanese blogger Qifa Nabki is a bit bewildered by the twists and turns in Lebanon. If he can't make sense of it, please don't expect me to. In the first place, Michel ‘Aoun, the one member of the opposition bloc whose party lost the most in the elections (the West played it up as a Hizbullah loss, but they more than held their own), has stiffened his demands for joining a unity government. Walid Jumblatt says that "there seems to be both internal and external wills not wanting for the Syrian-Saudi summit to succeed," whatever that means. (Walid Bek can sometimes be as inscrutable as his late Marxist/mystic father.) But Walid Bek is not, this time, the most inscrutable. Here's Speaker Nabih Berri:
Friday's issue of Al-Afkar magazine will have Berri's explanation for the reasons that made him abstain from naming Hariri for the second designation.

Regarding re-designating Hariri, Berri said: "It is true that I work in politics, but my dignity comes first and I was the first to announce my intention to re-designate Hariri in case he apologized. Despite that, al-Mustaqbal bloc MPs started to attack me, and some of them reminded about electing me head of Parliament."

Berri revealed that he asserted a lot of efforts to thwart Hariri from apologizing during the first designation and that Hariri surprised everyone by apologizing.

Answering a question regarding the Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat, Berri described Jumblat as the pacification and salvation partner.
Okay, to clarify matters, here's Suleiman Frangieh the younger:

Marada Movement Leader MP Suleiman Franjieh said that stepping down for our country's best interest is not a loss. "No party should consider this initiative as its own victory and leave the country with the concept of having winning and losing teams," he added.

After meeting with Palestinian Authority Representative in Lebanon Abbas Zaki Franjieh said that "if the situation remains as it is now then let them form a government without us". He then added that the government will see the light in a few days. [Emphasis mine.]

"There is no preference in the portfolio that will be assigned to us as we consider PM-designate Saad Hariri has the best intentions to reach a consensus," he concluded.

A really bad translation may account for some of this, but does anybody have a clue what they're talking about? Are they just spewing boilerplate? Please look at the sentences I've put in bold italics. Huh?

Well, ‘Aoun and Berri and Frangieh are all pro-Syrian, and Jumblatt is during months with an "r" in them, when he's not being the toast of the neocons in DC, and therefore Bashar al-Asad must be able to clear the whole thing up, right? Here's his take:
The Syrian President Bashar Assad said that the Syrian Arab Republic is with rushing the formation of a national unity government as it will bring Lebanon back to its normal status after years of division and conflicts.

After a meeting with the President of the Republic of Finland Tarja Halonen in the People's Palace in Damascus, Assad said that the importance of sticking to national legislative decisions is important to achieve peace in the Middle East.
Thanks for clearing that up. Maybe it makes more sense in Finnish. (It can't make less.) "National legislative decisions?" Meaning what? Acts of Parliament? Weren't there elections in June? Huh? There is either going to be a national unity government in Lebanon, or not, or something. Maybe. If Qifa Nabki can't figure out what's going on, I dare not try. From the leaders' quotes, I'm pretty sure they have no clue either.

Sorry to sound cynical again, as I have before, I know. Poor Lebanon. Such a beautiful country. Such an educated people. Such a botch they've made of it, with the help of their neighbors to be sure, but who asked them in? The Lebanese.

There are no innocents here, I fear. The US has played its role, mostly in the 1980s, and France keeps its hand in, and Israel and Syria and Saudi Arabia and Iran are, of course, all in the game. But everybody needs a Lebanese surrogate ally or it wouldn't have happened. Perhaps you can't put Humpty-Dumpty together again, but there were moments in the late 90s and early 'oos where it looked possible. Perhaps it is.

It would be nice to think so, anyway.

1 comment:

JR said...

From what I've read, the LF are demanding additional positions.