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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Why Nabih Berri has the Heebie-jeebies

Nabih Berri is terrified at the prospect of a Aoun presidency. Think about it. Aoun was Berri's enemy since the mid-1980s when Aoun was Army Chief and Berri's Amal militia fought the Lebanese army alongside the Palestinians. Berri was Syria's top collaborator for decades and to this day still receives his marching orders from Damascus and Tehran.

But wait a minute. Isn't Aoun in that same camp today? Isn't Aoun in thepro-Syrian, pro-Iranian March 8 coalition? He is; so why is Berri and Hezbollah suddenly against Aoun, while Aoun's former enemies (Geagea and Hariri) have become his allies?

Two reasons:

1- A superficial reason: Berri and all the pro-Syrian lackeys really worry more about Hariri becoming Prime Minister under a Aoun presidency than about Aoun becoming president. Aoun is reportedly offering Hariri the Prime Ministership in exchange for Hariri's support for a Aoun presidency.

2- A deeper reason: Prior to 2004, Aoun was Berri's number 1 enemy. Ever since the mid-1980s, when Aoun became Army Chief, then Interim Prime Minister, Aoun represented a political line that stood against Syrian hegemony and for divorcing Lebanon from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Berri and his acolytes (Hezbollah, Jumblatt, Yasser Arafat, Hariri, and every jackass Muslim-Arab leftwinger) operated under the Syrian regime's command and occupation, and were the primary destroyers of a State of Lebanon free from Syrian diktat. Right around 2005, after Sept. 11, 2001, after he spearheaded in 2003 the Syria Accountability Act in the US Congress with the support of all the American Zionists, the Hariri assassination in 2005 and the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanese territory, Aoun effected a reversal of his standing policies with the view of returning to Lebanon: Hezbollah became a resistance when it was a terror orrganization; Syria became a friendly country when it was an occupier and a supporter of terrorism; Palestinians became good and Israelis bad when in the past the reverse was true, etc...

Despite this reversal, Aoun was always believed to have retained his earlier convictions, albeit hidden, and that his 10-year long pro-Syrian reversal was merely a tactic to re-enter Lebanese politics and seek his ultimate revenge for having been ousted like a dog from the presidential palace in 1990. Aoun used Hezbollah to stand up to Hariri who dominated Lebanon between 1990 and 2005. Now that the Syrian regime is in its waning days, and with his biological race against death, Aoun is now exposing his earlier self, rejecting his present allies to return to his former political platform.

As he has rallied Geagea and Hariri to his side, he is inevitably alienating the allies he used for the past 10 years, namely the Shiites of Berri and Hezbollah, and they are terrified of the prospect of Aoun in the presidency. Aoun is no "consensus-minded" idiot. He may be senile, volatile, unpredictable, but he is not a puppet to be manipulated, and that is why Berri is like a cat on hot bricks, shitting in his pants of having to deal with a strong Christian president, when for the past two decades he ruled, from his House Speaker's seat, like an emperor, dictating everything to the emasculated Christian presidents and weak Sunni prime ministers. With Aoun in Baabda, Berri's own career may be coming to an end.

If Aoun becomes president, there will be a split within the Shiite community between the traditional State loyalists and the militant mercenary anti-State Amal (Berri) and Hezbollah (Nasrallah). There will be a war between those Shiites who want to reintegrate the Lebanese body politic and play the role assigned to them by the existing constitution and political customs, and those Shiites who may want to continue using their weapons and bullying tactics to remain in power and try to change the constitution from its current 50:50 between the Christian and Muslim constituents to a 33:33:33 division (a third to Christians, a third to Sunnis, and a third to Shiites). If the Shiites push for the latter, they will essentially drive the Christians to secede, either in the form of a return to the Smaller Lebanon of pre-1921 or to a confederation format in which the Christians will rule themselves while loosely associated with a federal Lebanon.

The Shiites have been reluctant to engage the country down these existential decisions because they had been waiting to see if their grand master in Damascus, the Assad regime, will survive. But Aoun is pushing forward, not wanting to wait any longer, and in so doing, he is pushing the Shiites to make an early decision, regardless of the fate of the Assad regime. The fall of the latter would mean a cutoff of the Shiites of Lebanon from Iran as well, because Assad insured a bridge with Iran and a deeper hinterland for the Shiites. With Aoun driving the locomotive away from the station in which Lebanon has been frozen for nearly 30 years, he is tolling the death knell of Hezbollah's and Berri's mercenary militantism.

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