A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Déjà vu All Over Again": Lebanese Presidential Hopefuls Include Amin Gemayel, Samir Geagea, and Michel Aoun

Not Actually a Wanted Poster: Gemayel, Geagea, Cardinal Raï, Aoun, Frangieh
For those of you nostalgic for the good old days of the 15-year Lebanese civil war, or to horrify those of you who don't, definitely read Maya Mikdashi piece at Jadaliyya: "Let Us Now Praise Murderous Men: Lebanese Presidential Candidates, Considered." As Michel Suleiman's presidential tenure reaches its constitutional limit, candidates expressing interest in the job (which must go to a Maronite), include former Presidents Amin Gemayel and Michel Aoun, and former militia chief Samir Geagea. Also shown in the photo and a potential candidate is Suleiman Frangieh (grandson of his namesake President and son of Tony Frangieh) all shown  in the photo (Jadaliyya via marada.com). All four are posing like one big happy Maronite family with the Maronite Catholic Patriarch, Cardinal Boutros Raï.

For those who came in late: in the bad old days, the younger Suleiman Frangieh's father Tony was killed in a raid commanded by Samir Geagea and presumably ordered by Amin Gemayel's younger brother Bashir (who was President-Elect when he was assassinated. Michel Aoun was driven from office by Syrian troops but eventually returned from exile to make up with Syria and become Hizbullah's main Christian ally. (Samir Geagea, overachieving, was also involved with Sabra and Shatila.)

Really, is this the best the Maronites can do this year? They're baaack ...

The good news is that most of these would be unacceptable to non-Maronites or perhaps to each other. I hope.


David Mack said...

We could well look askance at this glimpse of Lebanese dynastic politics, if it were not for the reality that Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are leading candidates for U.S. presidential nominations.

Your post and Maya Miqdashi's memoir from the business end of Lebanese army shelling of West Beirut sent me down memory lane. My first meeting with Amin and Pierre Gemayel was in 1976 on a brief mission for Henry Kissinger. In and out twice from Cyprus to Jounieh, the first time on a scarcely seaworthy smuggling craft on behalf of Henry Kissinger, a very junior diplomat with my name met with Suleiman Frangieh (grandfather of today's namesake,)Camille Chamoun and a wide cast of others whose surnames will be familiar to today's Lebanon watchers, even if they are of a younger generation. I also got to know Amin much better during three intense years from 1982 to 1985. Whatever his many faults, he faced the obvious danger in which he worked and lived with considerable physical courage. Earlier in 1982, I had a meeting with Bashir. I could understand why he stirred the loyalty of his followers more than Amin, but I think they were rather unfair in denigrating Amin by comparison. In 1983, I met Nabih Barri of Amal, when I and other Americans were unsuccessful in trying to broker a cross confessional alliance between him and Amin. It's a startling thought that 30 years later Parliament Speaker Barri and Amin Gemayel have a second chance to become allies in the constantly shifting Lebanese political spectrum.

Anonymous said...

Count me among those who look askance at common criminals and wannabe Nazis.

What on earth does it say about our foreign policy that Messrs Geagea and Jumayel are our closest allies?