A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, May 15, 2009

For your weekend reading

If you've been reading for a while you know the drill: on Friday afternoons I sign off for the weekend with a number of links for your weekend edification, enjoyment, or you can just spend time with your families like I plan to. For what it's worth:
  • An interesting post at Qifa Nabki on rival Druze leaders' use of YouTube and camera phone video to wage an ancient feud (and the Arslans and Jumblatts have been feuding for a very long time). A contribution to the growing literature of carrying on old conflicts in the era of Web 2.0. And the photoshopped (I presume) graphic "DruzeTube: Broadcast Your Za‘im" struck me as brilliant, if you have an appreciation of Lebanese politics and/or Lebanese humor.
  • While we're on the subject of the Lebanese election campaign, there's a brouhaha brewing among the Maronites over the campaign platform of General Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, the manifesto of which is called "Towards the Third Republic" (.pdf in Arabic). The basic idea is that the Lebanese "First Republic" was the post-indendence republic based on the National Pact, which was unstable, led to the conflict of 1958 and the civil war of 1975-91, while the "Second Republic" was the reconfigured system set up by the Ta'if accords and in place from 1990-91 onward. The Free Patriotic Mofvement is pushing for a stronger, more stable system. It's a neat catchphrase, and as some others have noted, may be influenced by the longevity of the Third French Republic. Lebanese (and Maronites in particular) tend to think in French terms, and for that matter does anybody else count the number of republics? The French are on their fifth, after all. But Aoun is anathema to some of his onetime allies, and supporters of the March 14 Movement (the pro-Hariri side) are saying that the slogan itself is a dangerous thing, a type of "coup d'etat that threatens state institutions including the presidency, the judiciary, media and the Constitution" Former President Amin Gemayel has also used the "coup d'etat" image. Its probably a tempest in a teapot, but it's raised hackles in the Maronite community. And it's just an electoral slogan.

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