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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Lebanon's Sunnis Find Driver's Seat a Pain in the Ass

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, the Maronites were in the driver's seat in Lebanon. The Maronite president, believe it or not, had some authority, unlike the castrato we seat in Baabda after Taef. The Shiites at the time were essentially serfs working in their feudal lords' employ and had no say whatsoever in government, other than occupy the mostly ceremonial number 2 post of Parliament Speaker. Kamel Assaad and Sabri Hamade were the two uncontested Shiite leaders who alternated as speakers, and when asked by his Shiite constituents about schools in their districts, Kamel Assad would answer: "Why do you want to teach your children? I am educating [my son] Ahmad on their behalf; this should be enough for the community".

The Sunnis had, and still have, the number 3 post of Prime Minister. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, they were spurred by the Syrian, Egyptian, Libyan ...revolutions to rebel against the National Pact, the unwritten agreement dividing power between the three communities. They had already attempted a rebellion in 1958 prodded by Gamal Abdel Nasser, but it fizzled out when the Maronite president called in the US Marines as allowed under the Baghdad Pact, which afforded friendly countries US protection if threatened by Soviet friendly countries like Egypt at the time.

The reason for this bit of history is to provide context for Lebanon's paralysis today. People without memory or without an understanding of the trajectory of events find it difficult to make sense of the present. Beginning in the late 1960s, Lebanon's Sunni prime ministers (Rashid Karami, Rashid Solh and others) started doing what Michel Aoun is doing today: obstruct and paralyze government and country just to spite the Maronite President and to side with the Palestinians and the Syrians against their own country of Lebanon. When President Frangiyeh ordered the Army and Air Force to oppose Yasser Arafat's PLO and/or bomb PLO and PFLP positions, for example, the Sunni Prime Minister would boycott government and demand the resignation of the Army Chief. The disgusting Rachid Karami did not convene his cabinet for 7 months in 1969 to protest the Lebanese Christian president's refusal to grant freedom of operation for Arafat's Palestinians in the south. Karami did the same thing in 1975 at the onset of the War when he insisted on boycotting the Kataeb out of his own government because the Kataeb took it upon themselves to fight Arafat and the Palestinian gangs in lieu of a Lebanese Army that was paralyzed by the Sunnis' desire to give the Palestinians, but not the Lebanese Army, freedom of action on Lebanese soil. If there is a definition of treason, it is what the Lebanese Sunnis did to Lebanon back then. The allegiance of the Sunnis - as they still do in disguise these days - was to so-called "Arab causes" (i.e. الوحدة العربية Arab union, or the Palestinian Cause, etc...) Lebanon was the last thing they cared about. So, in any issue arising of the Palestinian armed presence, Lebanon's Sunnis sided with the Syrians, the Palestinians, and every other gang and foreign terrorist against their own country and army.

Fast forward to today. Those of us who lived long enough to know where we were 30-40-50-years ago, have a problem trusting the metamorphosis of Lebanon's Sunnis into their Lebanon-first nationalist platform of the present time. It is true that the Sunnis were the ultimate victors in the war of 1975-1990 because they fought essentially with Palestinian arms and blood, except for the insignificant Mourabitoun militia and the renegade seditious Lebanese army traitor Lt. Ahmad Al-Khatib who took the Sunni units of the army in 1976 out of the army to create his own Arab Army of Lebanon. Khatib proceeded beginning in January 1976 to attack and sack all the Lebanese army barracks in the entire south of the country, committing massacres against innocent Christian villages in the area, and ultimately besieging and cutting off Marjeyoun and the surrounding area on the Israeli border from the central government, which forced the Lebanese Army command in Yarze to order Major Saad Haddad to defend Marjeyoun even if he had to seek assistance from the Israelis. Haddad did, and this area was the nucleus of what was later to become Israel's security zone after the 1978 and the 1982 Israeli invasions.

The Sunnis of Lebanon were not satisfied until the Taef Agreement stripped the Christian president of his prerogatives and gave them to the Sunni prime minister. The Sunnis then ended their war against the Lebanese state. I am not mentioning the Druze, because just as they do today under Walid Jumblatt, they did under the leadership of this chameleon's father, Kamal, namely to side with whomever was winning, and throughout that period, the Druze walked behind the Sunnis in the destruction of the Lebanese State. Taef gave nothing to the Druze, except that the war of 1975-1990 afforded the Druze the opportunity to massacre and ethnically cleanse their Shouf area from the Christian majority whom the Druze won't even allow to return to their villages today.

In essence, this history may allow some people to understand what Michel Aoun is doing today to the Sunnis. In his political trajectory, Aoun is returning the favor and giving them a taste of their own medicine. Michel Aoun believes, in his pedestrian low-grade politics, that to take the country forward, we need to take it backward to its pre-1975 condition. Abrogate Taef, restore his prerogatives to the Christian President, etc. all under "giving the Christians their rights". Aoun is saying: "You Sunnis paralyzed the country, boycotted governments, sided against the Lebanese army with the Palestinian militias, and used all these to secure powers to the Sunni prime minister at the expense of the Christians? Well, now the Christians, under my leadership, are paralyzing the country, boycotting the government, siding with the Iranian militia of Hezbollah against the Lebanese Army, etc..." The Sunnis today are doing exactly what the Maronites were doing back then: Call for patriotism, standing with the army (against Hezbollah and against the armed Palestinian gangs), Lebanon first, neutrality in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, etc... In other words, nothing has changed between the late 1960s-early 1970s and today, except that the roles of the Sunnis and the Christians have switched: the Sunnis (custodians of power) are defending the status quo because it serves them, while the Christians (powerless) are challenging the status quo. The tools are the same: Foreign militias beholden to foreign countries, a castrated Lebanese army afraid to act lest its splits along sectarian lines.... The more things change, the more they stay the same. It's really boring. Lebanon's political establishment has no imagination: They still operate like fishmongers in the old souks, trying to squeeze another stinking reeking penny out of every rotten fish they have on display.

Unfortunately for Aoun, his old age is blinding his view and limiting his horizons. Aoun's solution to Lebanon's chronic problems is to take us back 50 years, and simply flip the switch....But this is no solution. I am surprised at those who follow him in this barbaric strategy... They really think they can just move some pawns on the chessboards and everything will return to the golden age. Idiots and imbeciles, these Maronite peasants holding portraits of Putin as the defender of Lebanon's Christians.... Neither are the Sunnis doing Lebanon any favor by sticking to their pathetic gains from Taef. I predict that the Sunnis will slowly migrate to a Qaeda-Daesh political platform within a few years as they see their Taef gains eroded. The Sunnis too have no imagination beyond the boundaries of the Wahhabi Qoran... That is where they always return when challenged or threatened, whereas when they have power, they turn into fake American liberals. Not to mention the Shiites who live in a parallel universe whose priorities are myths and fairy tales from circa 800 AD.

The only visionaries in the cesspool are the educated elites of the "الحراك المدني", the civil society movement challenging the primitive Bronze Age status quo. Problem is that the movement is not organized enough yet, and has refrained from formulating a political vision beyond taking us out of the current stalemate. That is, in my opinion, their biggest challenge. Only a vision beyond the Bronze Age will lift Lebanon out of the quagmire.... It might take time, and the enemy within is well entrenched. Feudalism and religious primacy in this country have kidnapped the vast illiterate majority of the Lebanese people who pray in mosques on Fridays and who toll bells and pray in churches on Sundays, in the belief that only God and his divine associates can save them, not reason, political action, and sacrifice. How do you convince people to believe first in themselves before they believe in God? That is the question. Anything else is treading water until the next religious and sectarian civil war.

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