November 22, 2006

Burning Aoun


Lebanese Christians tore down and burned portraits of Hezbollah’s tactical Christian ally Michel Aoun in Sassine Square (Achrafieh, Beirut) and elsewhere in the city.

When I first moved to Beirut, Bashir Gemayel's portrait hovered over that square like a deity, around the corner from a shopping mall and across the street from a Starbucks. Bashir was assassinated shortly after being elected president of Lebanon in 1982, most likely for his anti-Syrian, anti-Palestinian, and pro-Israeli position. Pierre Gemayel, murdered just yesterday, was his nephew.

I'm not sure when, exactly, but at some point Michel Aoun's portrait went up in Sassine. It looks like the ghost of Bashir owns the square again now.

(Note: the particular incident shown in the video is not the torching of the Sassine Square portrait. That portrait was bigger, and its burning seems to have taken place off-camera.)

UPDATE: Mustapha at Beirut Spring says "today will herald a new age of Hezbollah Isolation," since Aoun's group is attending Gemayel's funeral. He may well be right. Hezbollah, properly cowed by the Lebanese majority, cancelled their scheduled riot today.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at November 22, 2006 07:04 PM
Comments

Why aren't Western media showing this ? Is it only worth showing images of American and Israeli flags being burnt ?

Whats happening in Lebanon now is the most interesting and heated issue, it deserves front pages.

Posted by: Jono at November 22, 2006 07:09 PM

I'm not sure I would characterize Bashir Gemayel as "pro-Israel". Rather, he was virulently anti-Palestinian, and was willing to hold his nose and play nice with Israel in order to get Israel to invade. After the Israeli invasion, the Phalange upheld none of its promises to Israel. It did not field any of its forces in support of the invasion (with the notable exception of Sabra and Chatilla), and rejected a peace treaty with Israel.

I know a few Israelis who were high ranking officers during the Lebanon war, and none of them has anything good to say about their Christian "allies".

Posted by: MarkC at November 22, 2006 08:14 PM

A roundup of what the commentators are saying, (stolen from Drink-soaked Trotskyite Popinjay's for WAR

Commentary and discontinuity:
The assassination of Pierre Gemayel has brought out the "best" in the so-called Mideast "experts," these wondrous luminaries of our time.

Here's a summary:

Helena Cobban: Syrians murder Lebanese Christian leader. Conclusion: Lebanese Christians are murderers who may massacre people.

Rami Khoury: Syrians murder Lebanese Christian leader. Conclusion: We must stop this "cycle of violence."

Juan Cole: Syrians murder Lebanese Christian leader. Conclusion: The evil George Bush wants the Lebanese moderates to crush poor innocent Hezbollah.

Joshua Landis: Syrians murder Lebanese Christian leader. Conclusion: The US should make a concession to Syria to let Hezbollah run Lebanon.

And all agree: Syrians murder Lebanese Christian leader. Conclusion: This proves we should forget about the last time they murdered a Lebanese leader!
Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 22, 2006 08:18 PM

After the Israeli invasion, the Phalange upheld none of its promises to Israel. It did not field any of its forces in support of the invasion (with the notable exception of Sabra and Chatilla), and rejected a peace treaty with Israel. (Mark C)

That's because it wasn't in their gift to deliver a peace treaty to Israel as they weren't the Lebanese Govt (which true, was one that only existed on paper).

However, my recollection is that they did allow for some kind of Israeli liaison office to set up in Jouineh (Lebanese readers of MJT correct me if this is wrong), which caused an almighty stink among other Lebanese groups and in the wider Arab world and tarred the Phalange with the brush of being (in their view) Israeli collaborators.

Posted by: Dirk at November 22, 2006 10:25 PM

Josh,

That summary is actually from my Lebanese pal Tony Badran at Across the Bay. (The Trots link to him.) Good stuff.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 22, 2006 11:29 PM

Holy shit. There are Starbucks in Lebanon?

My respect for the company just grew. If they can make it in Lebanon, that's some serious coffee.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 22, 2006 11:38 PM

(The Trots link to him.)

You say that like it's a good thing. It ain't.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 22, 2006 11:40 PM

Just out of curiosity, how many people know that the Phalange are a fascist party?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 22, 2006 11:47 PM

You say that like it's a good thing. It ain't.

Ah any group that likes Hitchens is so beneith notice that it's an insult to be linked by them, eh?

A......!

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 22, 2006 11:54 PM

DPU: Holy shit. There are Starbucks in Lebanon?

I knew someone would say that, but I didn't think it would be you.

Just out of curiosity, how many people know that the Phalange are a fascist party?

That is not even remotely true any more. I thought that was the case when I moved to Beirut, but I was severely upbraided by non-Kataeb Lebanese for saying it.

There are nutcase Christians, though, and some of them are in that party. The leadership, however, has morphed into a very mainstream party and has apologized for past bad behavior during the war. Lebanese don't apologize very often, so the fact that they did this (and they did while I was there) is pretty significant.

Lebanon's real Christian fascists are the Syrian Social Nationalists. Their flag has a swastika on it, and I despise them absolutely.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 23, 2006 12:08 AM

DPU: You say that like it's a good thing. It ain't.

No, I said that to clarify why Josh thought the Trots wrote it when actually Tony Badran wrote it.

I like the Drink-Soaked Trots, though. They are my kind of leftists.

You're alright, too, thought, so don't get bent out of shape...

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 23, 2006 12:10 AM

Phalange are a fascist party?

I don't know that there truly are fascist parties today that combine a corportist economy with miltarism and dictatorship, although there are certainly parties both in Europe and elsewhere that can claim fascist roots. Some of Mussolini's economic ideas survive in the various corporatist economies, Sweden being a prime example dating back to the thirties, and currently also France, Germany, and Italy. I think Mussolini was without a doubt the most historically influential socialist after Stalin.

Posted by: chuck at November 23, 2006 12:14 AM

Chuck,

The Syrian Social Nationalists (who are mostly Greek Orthodox Christians) deliberately model their insane party after Hitler and Mussolini. That's why they have a swastika on their flag.

And -- surprise! -- they are pro-Syrian. They are the Lebanese branch of the Baath Party.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 23, 2006 12:19 AM

Anyone interested in reading about Lebanon's real-deal fascists (the Syrian Social Nationalists) click here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 23, 2006 12:21 AM

I think the Chinese and Vietnamese both are becoming more "fascist" (National Communist/socialist) states, as N. Korea already is.

This is because of the economic superiority of fascism/ corporatism, using a market system for prices and scarce resource allocation, while allowing the top political leaders huge and unchallenged power.

Why aren't anti-Syrian Christians finding some other leaders than Aoun?

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at November 23, 2006 01:21 AM

As N. Korea is NOT - it doesn't use prices and markets for allocating resources. It's just a silly bankrupt commie dictatorship; but its leader does seem to have absolute political power.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at November 23, 2006 01:26 AM

Tom: Why aren't anti-Syrian Christians finding some other leaders than Aoun?

There are other Christian parties: the "Lebanese Forces," the Qornet Shehwan Gathering, the Kataeb, the Movement of the Democratic Left (which is not sectarian, but it mostly Christian).

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 23, 2006 01:36 AM

I like the Drink-Soaked Trots, though. They are my kind of leftists.

Any chance you'll tell the story behind that someday? I could stand some news from lebanon that doesn't involve people getting assassinated...

Posted by: rosignol at November 23, 2006 01:45 AM

Rosignol,

The Drink-Soaked Trots are Brits, not Lebanese.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 23, 2006 01:51 AM

The title came from this exchange between Christopher Hitchens and George Galloway.

THE YANKS FAIL TO LAY A GLOVE ON GALLOWAY
by Christopher Hitchens
...

I should perhaps declare a small bias here: on spotting your own correspondent, Mr Galloway shouted that he was a "drink- sodden ex-Trotskyist popinjay and useful idiot", some of which was unfair.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 23, 2006 02:03 AM

Michael, can you find out if there is any truth to this rumor:

http://blacksmithsoflebanon.blogspot.com/2006/11/sana-syrian-national-news-agency.html

(SANA editor called pro-Syrian Lebanese newspaper to inquire about the assassination 55 minutes before it happened)

The story has some of the attributes of an urban myth -- too little specificity -- but if it turns out to be true, it represents something of a "smoking gun."

Also, I'm really curious: where did the assassins go after they murdered Gemayel. Was Gemayel running around on his own? Were there any security people around at all? If any security was present, was no attempt made to shoot the attackers or pursue them?

Posted by: Zvi at November 23, 2006 03:08 AM

"Just out of curiosity, how many people know that the Phalange are a fascist party?"

The Phalange are not a fascist party. The label doesn't really stick in Lebanon. The closest thing to fascism you would have in the middle east would be the Syrian and Iraqi Baath parties. However, there are many reasons why the Phalange were stuck with that label.

First among these reasons, Pierre Gemayel Senior (the grandfather of the minister just assassinated) founded the Phalanges in the 1930s after he visited Nazi Germany and was impressed by their discipline and shiny uniforms. Ok, not a great start for Pierre's little project.

Second among these reasons, the Lebanese civil war started in the mid-1970s when socialism was still seen as romantic and progressive by the Western elites, and "the right" was seen as reactionary. European newspaper accounts of the war referred to the Christian Phalange camp as isolationist-conservative and to the Muslim-Druze-Palestinian camp as Palestinian-progressive or as islamo-progressive, an oxymoron if I ever saw one. The progressive part of the label probably came from the fact that an ally of the Palestinians at the time was Kamal Jumblatt's "socialist" party. Kamal was of course Walid's father and Kamal was also killed by Syria, as was Bashir Gemayel, son of Pierre senior and uncle of Pierre junior.

Third, the massacres of civilians in Sabra and Chatila by Christian militiamen reaffirmed the notion that they are fascist killers.

Posted by: NoSleep at November 23, 2006 03:09 AM

Michael,
Wasn't it obvious that the death of a March 14th minister will be a blow to the opposition's plans of taking the streets? And that it will fortify the government's position?

Posted by: Anonymous Leb at November 23, 2006 03:13 AM

Oops, you'd already posted on that. Never mind.

Posted by: Zvi at November 23, 2006 03:13 AM

"Lebanese Christians" burning a couple of pictures is a nice glorification to a bunch of teenagers relating to an obsolete political party (Kataeb) which only succeeded in getting 2 or 3 members in a 128-members large parliament.

Good stuff Michael :)

Next: Aoun's portraits are garnished with mustaches, doomsday is near!

Posted by: Lira at November 23, 2006 03:15 AM

to MJT
"Lebanon's real Christian fascists are the Syrian Social Nationalists. Their flag has a swastika on it, and I despise them absolutely".

dear MJT, before accusing that the syrian social nationalists are christian fashists, at least you should know about the minimun of this party whish is a "secular party" and faught against fashist christian: the " lebanese forces" in the lebanese war.its cofounder antoun saade is christian and called for a unity of the levant countries in peaceful way and cultural revolution and by the way the syrian baath regim oppesed him because they considered him a threat.

Posted by: cynthia at November 23, 2006 03:24 AM

Also, I'm really curious: where did the assassins go after they murdered Gemayel. Was Gemayel running around on his own? Were there any security people around at all? If any security was present, was no attempt made to shoot the attackers or pursue them?

-Zvi

Based on the reports I've seen (CNN and elswhere), he had two bodyguards with him. One was killed, the other was wounded.

The pictures I've seen of the car make it look like the assassination basically consisted of someone running up to the driver's side of the car and firing through the window on full auto, probably using a AKS-74U or something similar- compact, firing a rifle caliber.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/world/20061121-1513-lebanon-ministershot.html

Posted by: rosignol at November 23, 2006 03:40 AM

Cheney in Saudi Arabia Saturday, Bush in Jordan next week. Something is brewing. Building up the Sunni front, anti-Syria-Iran-Hezbollah.

Posted by: NoSleep at November 23, 2006 04:08 AM

Cheney in Saudi Arabia Saturday, Bush in Jordan next week. Something is brewing. Building up the Sunni front, anti-Syria-Iran-Hezbollah.

If Bush is serious about Lebanon, he should make a surprise stop there and make a speech saying "I am Lebanese". It would have a powerful impact like Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" (although I m told Berliner in German is a pastry, not a citizen of Berlin... aah Kennedy)

Posted by: NoSleep at November 23, 2006 04:13 AM

Cheney in Saudi Arabia Saturday, Bush in Jordan next week. Something is brewing. Building up the Sunni front, anti-Syria-Iran-Hezbollah.

Hm.

Bush met with Putin (among other heads of state) at the APEC conference in Vietnam a week or so ago, too.

Hm.

Bush's MO domestically has been to wait for his opponents to overreach and then come down on them.

I think maybe someone has been given plenty of rope and wasn't smart enough to realize why.

Posted by: rosignol at November 23, 2006 04:42 AM

That would be a laugh, Bush addressing a downtown Beirut crowd, "And I'll tell y'all, uh, ya Lebanese, to this day, I mean today-- Ana Lubnani!"

My Arabic is nill, so I don't know any words that sound like "lubnani" but mean something else.

Posted by: Zak at November 23, 2006 06:51 AM

Got it:

Bush addresses Beirut crowd: "Ana Labne!"

I am a salty cheese!

Posted by: Zak at November 23, 2006 06:53 AM

Naharnet.com reports the following. (Talk about hedging your bets)

"Speaker Nabih Berri, a Hizbullah ally, surprised the mourners by showing up unexpectedly at the funeral."

Posted by: NoSleep at November 23, 2006 06:57 AM

MJT: That is not even remotely true any more. I thought that was the case when I moved to Beirut, but I was severely upbraided by non-Kataeb Lebanese for saying it.

Okay, that's interesting. I'm finding the various political and ethnic groups and alliances in Lebanon to be quite, uh, diverse.

The Phalange militia still goose-step and use the Roman salute though, don't they?

MJT: I knew someone would say that, but I didn't think it would be you.

Oh, I wasn't saying it because I thought Lebanon to be a backwater, I'm just impressed that Starbucks (a company of which I'm a major, but major, customer) is able to compete. I'd be surprised hearing that Starbucks were in Italy as well.

Josh Scholar: Ah any group that likes Hitchens is so beneith notice that it's an insult to be linked by them, eh?

No. I just don't like Trotskyists. Or most Marxist-Leninists, for that matter. And that feeling goes back well before Hitchens was even popular.

I hadn't realized that you were such a fan of Marxist-Leninism. Or, more precisely, a fan of the loser in a power struggle between two branches of that ideology.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 23, 2006 07:46 AM

Being completely without prejudice:

why is it unthinkable that the pro-syrian camp is not guilty of this murder?

i hear them say over and over again that they could only gain from toppling the lebanese gov't peacefully (democratically, by hitting the streets etc.) and that they were sure they were going to have success with it that way.

truthfully speaking: i don't see how this murder is gonna further their popularity and neither their cause ....

Posted by: tsedek at November 23, 2006 07:47 AM

why is it unthinkable that the pro-syrian camp is not guilty of this murder?

Cui bono?

i hear them say over and over again that they could only gain from toppling the lebanese gov't peacefully (democratically, by hitting the streets etc.) and that they were sure they were going to have success with it that way.

Bloody unlikely, that.

The Lebanese may be pragmatic about fights they can't win, but they don't like being occupied any more than anyone else, and they don't like foreign interference in their politics any more than anyone else.

Democratic domination of Lebanon by Syria isn't likely to happen.

truthfully speaking: i don't see how this murder is gonna further their popularity and neither their cause ....

Popularity isn't what Syria is going for.

Thugs frequently make examples of what happens to people who cross them as a way to discourage people from crossing them.

ps: I hadn't realized that you were such a fan of Marxist-Leninism. Or, more precisely, a fan of the loser in a power struggle between two branches of that ideology.
-DPU

Both branches of that particular ideology are losers. Can you be more specific? ;-)

Posted by: rosignol at November 23, 2006 08:04 AM

Regarding Starbucks (a very important topic, I know), they made it in Lebanon, but for some reason could not stay in Israel longer than a couple of years. Don't know if it says anything about the relative qualities of coffee in the respective places.

Posted by: Simon Hawkin at November 23, 2006 08:04 AM

Why would any Christian group ally themselves with Syria, or any Islamic group for that matter? I know Christians in Islamic countries often internalize the Muslim majority's sensibilities, including their hatred of Jews and blacks, but from a strategic point of view cooperating with Muslims is to cooperate in your own destruction (or at least your own slavery as a dhimmi). It cannot (I hope!) have escaped the notice of any Christian group in Lebanon that should the opportunity arise, as it has, for example, in Sudan, Hezbollah will massacre them as readily as any Jew. It is, after all, what Muhammed would do.

Posted by: Bob Smith at November 23, 2006 08:20 AM

Rosignol, is this a matter of syria vs de u.s. being fought on lebanese soil? (syria: hizb - u.s.: march 14)
I mean if the hizb was against syrian interference (like they claim, to be independent and only looking for the NATIONAL interest of lebanon - just like the march 14 movements says it is) and they would have suspicions about syrian involvement - wouldn't they attack syria exactly in the same way the march 14 movement is attacking syria (and the hizb/amal) right now?

i've seen hard-core hizb supporters accuse the march-14 movement of being being dictated by the U.S. just as much as I've seen the 14 March movement accuse the hizb of syrian dictation.

Anyway: hizb wouldn't have had enough support on the streets for toppling the government you wanna say?

Posted by: tsedek at November 23, 2006 08:25 AM

"No. I just don't like Trotskyists. blah blah blah. blah blah blah blah blah..."

Hopefully you read the rest of the thread and realize that the the title "trotskyite" is a joke.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 23, 2006 08:34 AM

today will herald a new age of Hezbollah Isolation

But Nasrallah is the lion of the Arab world. Even Haifa Wehbe supports Hezbollah.

I'm only half-joking - but it will take much more than one assasination to isolate Hezbollah. And they have their ways (i.e. attacking, er, "defending Lebanon from," the jews) of getting the Lebanese back on their side, anyway.

I'll believe it when I see it.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at November 23, 2006 08:58 AM

Hopefully you read the rest of the thread and realize that the the title "trotskyite" is a joke.

You mean that they call themselves Trots, but they aren't? Gosh, that is amusing.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 23, 2006 09:01 AM

Rosignol, is this a matter of syria vs de u.s. being fought on lebanese soil? (syria: hizb - u.s.: march 14)

I'm not sure. The US wants Hizbullah disarmed ASAP, but I'm not entirely sure why. Back before the ineffectiveness of their katyusha arsenal was known I could see why that would be a high priority for the US- but now...? That arsenal turned out to be a lot less dangerous than everyone thought.

The 'Iran distracts everyone from a confrontation between Iran and the US by having the Hiz fire rockets into Israel' scenario won't work, and everyone in the ME knows it.

If Lebanon degenerates into another civil war, the US won't be sending troops, and everyone knows that, too. So ultimately, Hizbullah/Syria/Iran have the advantage there because they're willing to commit more resources to achieving their goals.

What the US needs to happen in Lebanon is for Iran's proxy to be defanged without things escalating into another civil war. IMO, that may be possible, but it's not possible soon.

I mean if the hizb was against syrian interference (like they claim, to be independent and only looking for the NATIONAL interest of lebanon

Nasrallah's lying. He's looking out for the interest of Hizbullah, not Lebanon, and that means paying attention to what Assad and the guys in Tehran want.

Assad wants to dominate Lebanon, Tehran wants to be able to create a crisis that will require US attention at their convenience. Arming Hizbullah serves both purposes.

- just like the march 14 movements says it is)

Those guys consider the US to be a counterweight to Iran and Syria, and they are correct. But they know better than to count on the US in the long term, especially now that James Baker is giving the Bush administration foreign policy advice.

and they would have suspicions about syrian involvement - wouldn't they attack syria exactly in the same way the march 14 movement is attacking syria (and the hizb/amal) right now?

Because Hizbullah expects to go another round with the Israelis, probably sooner instead of later (IMO, within a year), and Hizbullah needs Syrian support to resupply and reequip.

The Israelis were embarassed by their performance last time around. Next time, they'll be well prepared.

If the Hizb piss off Assad, no equipment for them, and the next time the Israelis show up, they'll be forced to resort to harsh language and suicide tactics because that's about all they'll have.

i've seen hard-core hizb supporters accuse the march-14 movement of being being dictated by the U.S. just as much as I've seen the 14 March movement accuse the hizb of syrian dictation.

I have no doubt that the March 14 guys are talking to the US, just as Hizbullah is talking to people in Damascus and Tehran.

I doubt anyone is giving orders to anyone else in the military sense, though- things are too fluid for that, and having been burned by the US once, the pro-Democracy Lebanese are unlikely to put all of their eggs in the basket marked 'USA' this time.

Anyway: hizb wouldn't have had enough support on the streets for toppling the government you wanna say?

If enough ministers get assassinated, the amount of support Hizbullah has in the streets doesn't matter- the government will fall in any case.

Posted by: rosignol at November 23, 2006 09:04 AM

I could see why that would be a high priority for the US- but now...? That arsenal turned out to be a lot less dangerous than everyone thought.

Two reasons. One, Israelis under bombardment can't lead normal productive lives, so the Israeli government must take retaliatory action against such attacks, which the U.S. views as destabilizing. Two, such artillery gives Hezbollah an ultimate edge over other Lebanese groups that may wish to challenge its primacy, and thus threatens Lebanon's fragile democracy.

Posted by: Solomon2 at November 23, 2006 10:18 AM

ZAK : "Ana Labne!" I am a salty cheese!

LOL.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 23, 2006 10:36 AM

DPU: I hadn't realized that you were such a fan of Marxist-Leninism.

Well, you learn something new every day!

No, of course I'm not a fan of Marxist-Leninism. The Drink-Soaked Trots are British leftists, but the name is a joke based on an insult George Galloway flung at Christopher Hitchens.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 23, 2006 10:39 AM

DPU: The Phalange militia still goose-step and use the Roman salute though, don't they?

I don't know. Not that I've seen.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 23, 2006 10:40 AM

Bob Smith: Why would any Christian group ally themselves with Syria, or any Islamic group for that matter?

Fascist Christians formed the SSNP and co-founded the Baath in part to create national identities that had nothing to do with religion as a way to bring Christians into the majority so they would not be oppressed.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 23, 2006 10:44 AM

Also, Bob, hardly anyone in the Syrian government is a Muslim. Almost all are minority Alawites.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 23, 2006 10:44 AM

Rosignol, thank you for your answer.

My head is spinning. It IS bloody complicated!

;)

Posted by: tsedek at November 23, 2006 11:10 AM

Almost all are minority Alawites.

Which is an heretical branch of the Shia. IIRC, the Alawites hold that Ali was divine, a heretical doctrine to more orthodox Muslims. Imam Musa Sadr, founder of Amal, ruled that the Alawite were true Muslims, an example of politics and religion combining under the impetus of convenience.

Posted by: chuck at November 23, 2006 11:12 AM

DPU: I hadn't realized that you were such a fan of Marxist-Leninism.

MJT: Well, you learn something new every day!

Actually, my remark was aimed at Josh Scholar. I'm pretty sure that you don't have those leanings, Michael.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 23, 2006 12:08 PM

...but the name is a joke based on an insult George Galloway flung at Christopher Hitchens.

Then they left off "popinjay". Or did they? I'll have to check.

At any rate, my confusion on this above is that "Trots" is an actual phrase that I've heard a lot of, but always in reference to followers of the ideology, not the blog. Apologies for the mix-up.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 23, 2006 12:14 PM

Michael Totten: Fascist Christians formed the SSNP and co-founded the Baath in part to create national identities that had nothing to do with religion as a way to bring Christians into the majority so they would not be oppressed.

Exactly! In fact Michel Aflaq, one of the founders of the Ba’ath, was a Christian. Ba’ath ideology emphasizes Arabism over Islamic identity. Therefore, Christians, Druze, Alawites—all can find unity as Arab Ba’athists. Therein lies the appeal of Ba’athism for non-Muslim Arabs.

Curiously, some scholars have suggested that many of the Christian European anti-Semitic tropes that are so popular in the Muslim Middle East were originally disseminated by Christian Arabs, many of whom were educated at European Christian schools where they picked up such notions. T infamous blood libel started in the Middle Ages Europe but made its first appearance in the Middle East in Syria in 1840 with the Damascus blood libel, about around the time when European powers began making inroads into the Ottoman Empire.

Anyway, I have to find and kidnap a Christian kid to use his blood for the gravy recipe my mom uses every year at Thanksgiving, so I gotta run.

Posted by: Zak at November 23, 2006 01:10 PM

No offence to anyone, but the Kataeb Party is only a shadow of its former self, and doesn't really have that much popular support outside the North Metn area, and even there could only get 1 out of the 8 seats of Parliament (the FPM only ran for 7 seats, so it was basically given to them).

So this has nothing with him being from the Kataeb, but mainly the fact that he is from the Gemayel family, and even then not because of his father, but mainly his uncle Bashir.

The old-style prominent Christian families of the past, such as the Chamoun's and the Gemayel's, don't have power like they used to anymore, and the leadership role in the community has gone to those that were born into lesser families. So in a way, feudalism in this regard has been crushed.

I would also like to add that a few people burning Aoun photos doesn't mean much. If FPMers were irresponsible enough to do the same thing, the effects would be far worse.

There are two issues right now in Lebanon: the Syrians and their allies and what they are trying to achieve, and the fact that the current rulers of Lebanon are corrupt to the bone. We should not confuse the two issues. We are against any assasination in Lebanon, especially those done by foreigners who wish to rule our country. However, we are also against the corruption of the current ruling majority, and wish their actions to be stopped.

Why some are mad at the FPM i don't know. If it was up to us, Lahoud would be gone and we would have right now a strong President, as opposed to the puppet President that February 14 want to install. We are sick of puppet Presidents. Whoever thinks Lebanon is like Saudi Arabia and can be ruled by one family is in for a big suprise.

Posted by: Omega80 at November 23, 2006 01:16 PM

Omega: Why some are mad at the FPM i don't know.

Because you enable the Hez.

However, we are also against the corruption of the current ruling majority, and wish their actions to be stopped.

On that point, you have my sympathy.

Come on, break with Hezbollah. You know you want to eventually. They will ruin you if you let them by repeatedly strapping a suicide-bomb belt around Lebanon's waist.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 23, 2006 01:30 PM

Because you enable the Hez.

The Hez was enabled in the ministerial statement of PM Sanioura of July 2005 where Hezbollah's resistance has been legitimized. FPM wasn't even a member of that cabinet.

Come on, break with Hezbollah. You know you want to eventually. They will ruin you if you let them by repeatedly strapping a suicide-bomb belt around Lebanon's waist.

The situation isn't that simple MJT, while I did not fancy myself FPM/Hezbollah's MOU, a cornered Hezb in the current conjectures could create a lot more than a few burned trashcans.

Furthermore, it is not so sure that March14 want to share power equitably with the opposition; it seems that one of the last offers to FPM was to join the government by taking those seats that were to be assigned to Hezb/Amal, thus creating a political imbroglio.

Posted by: Lira at November 23, 2006 02:11 PM

Lira: The Hez was enabled in the ministerial statement of PM Sanioura of July 2005 where Hezbollah's resistance has been legitimized. FPM wasn't even a member of that cabinet.

I wish Seniora were tougher against Hezbollah than he is, but his "enabling" of them isn't genuine and everyone knows it. That's why Hez calls him an American puppet.

I realize that Aoun's "alliance" with HA is not what it appears to many (most?) Americans, but it's still foolish in my opinion. I don't hate the guy, I just think he is being counterproductive and that the only "side" he is on is his own.

a cornered Hezb in the current conjectures could create a lot more than a few burned trashcans

Maybe. But Hezbollah will never peacefully disarm if they have other parties in Lebanon who make excuses for them. And if Hezbollah doesn't disarm, Israel is likely to bomb your country again. Neither you nor I want to see a re-run of July.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 23, 2006 02:35 PM

Lebanese bombing each other is far worse than Israel bombing us. So if I had to choose between the two, i'd say let Israel bomb us again, as long as we don't have another Civil War. If that is the price to pay, then so be it.

Posted by: Omega80 at November 23, 2006 08:51 PM

Omega,

As much as I would like to argue with you about that, I see your point, I've heard it before, and I understand it completely.

Do you see any peaceful resolution to this conflict? I don't, although I'm hoping the violence can be moved to Syria and Iran instead of Lebanon and Israel.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 23, 2006 08:54 PM

MJT, as I've said before on this forum, the strategy (and it is a valid and healthy one) is to coopt Hezbollah and bring back a major part of the Shiite community to the national realm.

That would take time and concerted effort from all parties, a balanced socio-economic growth targeting all peripheric regions of Lebanon would probably take us there.

But the zaiims (leaders*) of this country should realize this and acknowledge this beyond their personal interests.

PS: It is also of Israel's interest that such solution is adopted as opposed to a full military confrontation with Hezbollah which has proved destructive for both Lebanon and Israel.

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