How To Best Handle The Upcoming Michel Aoun Presidency

michel-aoun-president

I’m counting my blessings about 20,000 times a day that when Lebanon *finally* gets a president I won’t be there to see it. It’s sad in a way, that after two and half years of void I wouldn’t be there for the happy ending. But then again, who’d wanna be there for this happy ending?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that Michel Aoun will be a bad president. All presidents are useless and he won’t be any different, as the past two president-less years have shown us. But oh my god can you imagine the gloat of Aounists over the next twenty three years?

So here I am, seven time zones away, and still worried about the ripple that that will cause and I’ve come up with the best way to deal with the inevitable happening on Monday.

1) What To Do With Your Aounist Friends on Facebook:

If your Facebook friends are as enthusiastic as mine, they’d have already started posting countdowns, pictures, glorious Facebook status about all the glory that’s going to come to the country on Monday. And if you’re anything like me, you’d definitely have a pack of motilium or some even stronger zofran sitting next to your laptop at all times because nausea.

Of course, it’s going to get worse from here until Monday which is just two days away. So here’s a tip:

  • If you have <5 friends on Facebook who are supportive of this move, just unfollow them and practice EXTREME vigilance because they tend to find a way to have their stories pop up on your timeline anyway.
  • If you have >5 friends on Facebook who are supportive of Aoun becoming president, delete Facebook off your phone, take your precious phone away, put it in a box, bury it in a pint of trab l arz yalli aghla men l dehab, set up food in a bunker and huddle there until 2022.

2) What To Do With Your Aounist Friends on Twitter:

While there’s an unwritten rule among Facebook users that one would not post countless statuses per day, and as such Facebook has slightly more restraint, the same does not exist on Twitter. As such, there are no guidelines for how to best handle your Aounist friends on Twitter except deactivating your account until 2022.

3) OTV:

With their lord and savior Michel Aoun becoming president, it’s also best to forget that there is an orangy TV station by the name of OTV ever existing. As Mawtoura aptly noted, their programming for the next 6 years will consist of the following:

  • Morning Mass,
  • National songs,
  • Calls to congratulate Aoun on the presidency,
  • Aounist songs,
  • Documentaries about the great Samir Geagea, etc…

It’s best to avoid this, or have xanax present at all times as well.

4) Forget About Anghami:

Here’s a scoop for you: Nancy Ajram and Assi Hallani have teamed up to do a song for Michel Aoun already. It’s not because they’re Aounists but because when anyone becomes president, everyone else just dies at the opportunity to start licking their ass. #LiveLoveLebanon.

Of course Nancy and Assi will probably not end up being the only two people who have songs out for Aoun. Expect Elissa to have a song out a certain point too, because that’s how things work. And there’s just so much of Michel Aoun being rhymed with “kon” that you can take.

5) Brace Yourself For The Onslaught Of Positive People:

Some people may not be Aounists but as it is in Lebanon, there is an overly positive populace that keeps on seeing the best in everything and I just don’t know how. Well, those people are bound to get slightly more annoying now as they are given one extra reason to be falsely optimistic about things in the country.

The earliest symptom of this will be a wider onslaught of #LiveLove across the globe.

6) What To Do With Your LF friends:

They probably don’t know what to do with themselves so it’s best to ignore their existence for now pending further development. Many of them aren’t happy though, so just pass them some of the xanax from point #4?

7) Hezbollah *shivers*:

While Hezbollah spent the last two years trying NOT to get Aoun elected, expect them to make sure everyone and their mother and their grandmother and their deceased original ancestor to know they’ve done *everything* they can to make sure the outcome on Monday took place.

It’s bullshit, certainly, but people are going to buy it anyway.

The criteria for Hezbollah fans on your social media platforms is much more stringent though. Just bury your phone and go live in a monastery in Qadisha already. There is no other way.

8) Avoid Driving:

I expect Lebanese roads are now flooded with billboards, posters, banners and mannequins celebrating the rise of Aoun. Even those that didn’t like him now do.

I expect those posters and banners to contain some of the most poetic Arabic written since Al-Mutannabi. A few Bible verses will be thrown in there as well because, why the hell not? Isn’t this the second coming of Jesus?

So if I were you, I’d just stay home until the first decent rain comes around and rips those things right off.

9) Almaza will have an ad:

They always do. This is not gonna be any different, and they’re beginning to get annoying but this will annoy you the most, so move to Colonel Beer. #ElieRecommends.

10) Prepare To Explain To The World That We’re Voting For An 80 Year Old As President:

I was literally asked yesterday who’s gonna be president. When I said Michel Aoun, the person asking me was surprised and asked: Isn’t he old?

And the fact of the matter is he is. When John McCain was running for president in 2008, he was 72 and his age had lots of people worried. We are now getting a president who’s as old as John McCain is today. Isn’t that exciting?

So what’s the best way to handle people who want to criticize our country for voting geriatrics this time around? You can: a) tell them to suck it, b) tell them enno yo2berne mshabshab, c) tell them l mouhem l so77a, d) Michel Aoun does not age, age Michel Aouns.

Bonus: Bref, sigh:

In the grand scheme of things, the worst thing to come of Aoun’s presidency won’t be him as president. It’s how annoying his supporters will be until the end of his term. There will be no major changes to the country. Hariri will be PM. They will tailor an electoral law to help them win. Frangieh and Geagea will be presidents the next two cycles. The political situation will not find a magical solution that suddenly sees our garbage off the streets and the country off to the right direction. This is just a perpetuation of the current status quo, with the people who made the status as such and well, who the hell cares anyway?

It’s just so sad. *downs ten lexotanil pills.*

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What Beirut’s Election Results Tell: Lebanon Can Hope For Change

Beirut Madinati - bIERTE list 2016 2

This post was written with Ramez Dagher from Moulahazat

As promised earlier, this is the more detailed look at how Beirut voted, beyond the surprisingly great outing of the civil movement Beirut Madinati’s list, which even though it didn’t get actual seats, still has plenty to celebrate.

It is important to note that in the most optimistic of cases, the chances for any list other than the list of the political parties to win was next to zero. No this isn’t retrospective analysis. 

Despite the context of the trash crisis, rising corruption, overall voter discontentment, parliament extending its mandate twice, etc… the math of the Beirut electoral equation was never in favor of any non-political movement: the division of districts, the system, demographics, the sectarian propaganda – The Bierteh list had tried to attract voters – especially Christian ones – by proposing a 50-50 Christian/Muslim list, although Beirut Madinati had also kept the same quota.

So no, the cards were not the best that could be given for Beirut Madinati, or any other movement for that matter, simply because those cards were being played on a table that served only one side: the political establishment.

As a result of all of the above, the loudest of voters on Sunday was the low turnout.

20% Voted:

This is not a historically low number. In 2010, 18% of Beirutis voted. Beirutis simply do not vote in Municipal elections, and only do so at slightly higher numbers in parliamentary ones: 33% in 2009.

This is due to many factors. Voter learned helplessness is an important one, but so is the feel that there really isn’t a contest to begin with further increasing the sense of voter apathy. 

33% voted in 1998, the first election since the Civil War, and the lower turnout since should be enough to tell you how much people lost faith.

Many partisan voters were also not willing to vote for the “zayy ma hiye” list but did not want to break lines.

Achrafieh El Bidayi:

Beirut Madinati won the Beirut 1 district with around 60% of the vote, a blow to the rallying calls of Christian parties in the area for their supporters to vote for the Bierti’s list. The 60% figure is not only exclusive to the mostly-Christian Beirut 1, but is also applicable to the Christian vote in the rest of Beirut.

This doesn’t mean the weight of the LF and FPM combined is 40%. Many LF and FPM leaning voters voted for Beirut Madinati more against Hariri, but it sets the precedence that politically affiliated people can go beyond their affiliations and vote in a way that breaks what they were instructed to do.

Boycotts from the bases of the FPM, LF, and Kataeb were also there on election day, as a sign of disagreement with the recent choices of their parties: The FPM electorate isn’t a fan of Hariri; the LF base isn’t a fan of an alliance with the FPM, and the Kataeb aren’t fans of anything.

This lack of enthusiasm was probably one of the causes of the lower turnout in Christian polling stations.

The context of such a vote, however, is probably not sectarian as is circulating. Achrafieh is one of Beirut’s higher socioeconomic areas, with higher income and education rates. You’ll probably see a similar phenomenon in the higher socio-economic districts of Beirut III. Those residents are more likely to vote for issues such as reform, transportation and trash sorting. Those are also the voters that are the less afraid of change.

Many if not all of Lebanon’s parties count on clientelism to widen their electoral base. In higher socio-economic echelons, the reliance of the electorate on the mainstream parties is less.  Those voters don’t need their political parties in the neo-socialist way that most parties in Lebanon function. In Achrafieh, for example, the LF and FPM do not provide medical services, free education, job opportunities for Achrafieh voters as much as other parties in other districts, so throughout the years, the electorate managed to develop an independence from traditional Christian parties.

The Example Of Tariq El Jdide: Anyone Can Be Reached

Sectarian talk is terrible, but is a necessary evil until the political system is not one where people go and vote in segregation based on how they pray. If you crunch Beirut’s numbers, you will end up with a rough figure of around 30% of the Sunni vote not going to Hariri.

This is probably as important, if not more, than BM winning 60% of the vote in Beirut 1.

I don’t believe we can call this a dissent from the Future Movement yet, but it is a continuation of the gradual and progressive Sunni dislike of the way Saad Hariri is running things, even with his rise of popularity after his return.

The reason the Future Movement won is not because voters are “sheep.” It’s because the Future Movement, through various governmental policies, has forced the people of many Sunni areas to always remain in need for their intervention to get the basic necessities that should be a right for every Lebanese citizen, which many in other areas have access to without needing their political parties: do not cut the hand that feeds you.

The political framework of the elections is important. They come at a time when Sunnis in Lebanon feel increasingly threatened by being categorized as potential-Islamists, to the background of a party in power fighting for a regime they do not approve of in Syria.

The need to not break rank was never greater. They may not approve of Hariri, but this was not the time to show it, and yet 30% did. The situation in the country is not one where sects have the prerogative to show cracks in their facade, or have we forgotten how Christians have also forced a seemingly unbreakable veneer over the past few months as well?

All of this makes the 30% figure of Sunnis who did not vote for Hariri all the more impressive and courageous. It’s the kind of percentage that breaks taboos.

Moving Forward:

The election’s overall results are telling. In Beirut I, the LF representative Elie Yahchouchi and the FPM’s Traboulsi lead their allies in the FM by around 800 votes (of around 6500 the list got). In Beirut II, with its important Shia and Armenian electorate, almost all of the winning candidates from LB are in the 9000 votes region. One candidate however, Amal’s representative, stands out as having 10000 votes. In the third district, Yahchouchi and Traboulsi are 5000 votes behind the FM’s candidates.

The difference between the first and the last of list is around 8000 votes for LB, and 3000 votes for BM. In other words, most of those who voted BM did not make major changes to their lists (“tochtib”) and were convinced with almost all of BM’s candidates, while the base of every single party in power was modifying the names.

That is the biggest proof that the ruling coalition is unstable, and that in 2017, even a minor split between the parties in power can lower that 60% and give way to an independent breakthrough. Check the results here.

But now is time to look ahead.

Our voting process needs to be modernized. 36 hours to go through Beirut’s voting results is a disgrace. There are no excuses.

The rhetoric we need to adopt should never call those who do not vote the way we want sheep or other varieties of animals. It is demeaning, and not any different than the system we want to change. Such horrific name-calling only alienates voters from your platform. The core of democracy is one where many will not vote the way you find is best.

Our rhetoric should also be more inclusive, and less elitist. Our bubble in which we believe our paradigm of Lebanese politics is scripture is exclusive to the people that are reached by our message, but the bulk of voters exist outside of that bubble. We need to be aware that what we know and believe is true doesn’t translate to others and work on reforming our message to make it holistic.

This means that calls to divide Beirut into smaller districts just because Achrafieh voted one way and Tariq el Jdide voted another are horrifyingly xenophobic. Beirut is a city that is 18 km2 with 500,000 voters only. It is too small to be divided. We need policies to bring people together, not segregate them into separate cantons.

Accomplishing so starts by championing policies to better the conditions of all Beirutis, especially those that exist in impoverished areas. Beirut Madinati did not, for instance, campaign as much as it should have in Tariq el Jdide.

Political parties in the country keep people at bay by keeping them afraid and hungry. Keep them as such, and they remain at their mercy. The first step in breaking this political hegemony is to make them need their political parties less: advocate for better schools, better and more comprehensive healthcare, fight economic inflation, raise the minimum wage, adopt a better taxing scheme, etc…

Such measures, however, cannot be done by simply complaining on Facebook. Modernizing our elections isn’t only about getting electronic voting machines, but also about having an electoral law that is fitting of the year 2016. The only law that can work to represent all different sections of Lebanon’s society is a law based on proportional representation. If such a law were adopted, for example, Beirut Madinati would have obtained 9 seats out of the available 24 on Sunday.

Proportional representation, as proposed during a cabinet meeting in 2010 tackling the municipal electoral law, is one of many reforms, such as electing the mayor directly from the people, and a 30% women quota, that are napping in parliament. The establishment is making it harder, but that shouldn’t mean that pressure should stop.

We also need to realize that, despite disagreeing with them, political parties are not going away. If we are to leave a mark, we have to find a framework in which we organize into a party that can compete better in elections, in politics and do so in unity: one of our biggest failings in this election was having like-minded people run on two different lists.

Today, we should be cautiously optimistic at what the future holds. Change in Lebanon is not a sudden process. It’s a tedious affair that needs planning over many years. Start planning for 2017’s parliamentary elections today and 2022’s municipal elections yesterday. Do not despair, and most importantly, always challenge the status quo regardless of how comfortable you are in it.

 

A Lebanese Christian Family’s Sunday Lunch Discussion

The following dialogue is an almost verbatim excerpt of what has been going on lately at the Sunday lunch table of the Christian families I’m associated with. The names have been altered – albeit they still retain a “Christian” flavor but I promise it’s not for Sectarian reasons – except my own.

Georges: You know, they said they might postpone the elections.

Mary: Better. Nothing good can come out of it.

Elie: Makes sense seeing as we don’t have a law yet.

Joseph: There is one. The Orthodox Law.

Elie: What about the Orthodox Law?

Joseph: It’s supposed to make our votes weightier. How the hell does Hariri get a parliament member in Achrafieh and the LF don’t? Or how can’t the LF choose MPs across Lebanon like Aoun does without Hariri hoarding their backs?

Georges: Yes. And those imbeciles with the Future Movement have the decency to call us unpatriotic. As if they are the patriotic ones for not supporting the Orthodox law only because their man Hariri doesn’t.

Joseph: Yeah and they’ve always been in bed with the Syrians screwing us. They’re ones to talk about patriotism. Their leader got blown up? Have we had a leader who hasn’t been threatened in this country?

Georges: Hariri doesn’t even have the decency to stand up against Al Assir. And he has the nerves to call on the LF for trying to distance themselves from his sinking ship.

Joseph: He doesn’t even have the money anymore. Looks like Saudi Arabia may not be in with him on this one.

Georges: Saudi Arabia is busy drawing caricatures about the patriarch while they go fuck Christians every day. What a country of retards. Fuck them and their prophet.

Elie: Enough with religious crap. How would you feel if someone insulted your Christ?

Joseph: Whatever. Anyway, I’m with the Orthodox Law. It allows us to stick it to Aoun.

Elie: There are other laws which do that and allow the LF to have more weight without being this crappy. Besides, why would you want to vote for the MP of Keserwan or anywhere else exactly? Betdallak ghrib. 

Georges: How does the Orthodox Law work exactly? We vote for the Maronites of Batroun only?

Mary: I don’t understand why you must have this discussion every week. Is it gonna be this way until election day?

Elie: You go into the voting place. The person in charge gives you a ballot paper with all the lists running for your sect’s MPs. You choose one of the lists then you pick an MP to give him or her your preferential vote. So we vote for the Maronites of Lebanon. All 34 of them.

Peter: How will I explain this process to my mother exactly? I’m not sure if I understand it.

Mary: the more complex these laws become, the more I think all these elections are useless. The same people are gonna win any way.

Joseph: I know how I’m voting.

Georges: Yeah, me too.

Elie: If the law stays the same and we remain a one district place, I’m most probably not voting for Antoine Zahra. I’m sure as hell not voting for Boutros Harb and definitely not for Gebran Bassil.

Georges: Are you fucking serious? Please tell me you’re joking.

Elie: Not at all.

Joseph: Leave him be. He’ll change his mind soon. Elie not voting for Antoine Zahra? And pigs fly.

Elie: Why would I vote for Antoine Zahra exactly? What has he done that should make me eternally grateful for him that he should get my vote and stay and MP for the 3rd time?

Georges: He’s not Gebran Bassil!

Elie: I’m not voting for Gebran Bassil.

Joseph: Not voting for Zahra is you not caring enough. If other people thought like you, Bassil would win.

Peter: Why would anyone give a shit? My family has been supportive of Boutros Harb ever since he entered parliament in 1972. And what good did that do us? I never asked anything of him. Never. Except when I wanted to provide my son who studied law with a job. I begged him and he promised he’d help but he didn’t. I held it in and I voted for him in 2009 because I couldn’t stand the idea of Bassil winning. I was happy when Harb won because Bassil didn’t win. But my son is now working a dead-end job with no prospects. I would never admit this to a Aounist of course. Screw them.

Elie: I understand but an MP’s job isn’t exactly to provide jobs for those who ask for it. He should have helped. But what has he done in the past 23 years that should get me to vote for him? Nothing!

Georges: the highway!

Joseph: Yes, the highway.

Elie: the highway that has been in the works for 40 years? The one which was started near Tannourine because that makes perfect sense? No, thanks.

Georges: As long as there’s something called Michel Aoun roaming the Earth, I will vote against him.

Elie: What about the economy? The roads? Electricity? Telecom?

Joseph: Oh shut up. You’re almost becoming Aounist these days with liking Sehanoui. Do you fancy that unibrow?

Elie: The man does a good job. I cannot not acknowledge it. Besides, why would you not care about the economy and security in voting? Do you fancy almost every one my age leaving the country or considering leaving it?

Georges: Really? Assume I won’t be voting for the LF because you don’t like them these days. Mesh 3ejebne bel marra 3a fekra. Who am I supposed to vote for? Those third party leftists who have no chance of winning?

Elie: I don’t know. But voting for someone because you want the other to lose doesn’t work for me.

Joseph: It does for me. As long as Gebran Bassil never ever becomes a parliament member, I’m happy.

Georges: I concur. I couldn’t have been happier when he lost in 2009.

Elie: Gebran Bassil isn’t winning in Batroun no matter how I vote. At least I’d rather vote in a way that doesn’t make me feel disgusted with myself for the years afterwards.

Joseph: What if he wins?

Elie: Really? How is that possible exactly? Where will he get his votes? Do you want me to get you the 2009 results for you to see how impossible that is? Let’s not pretend that a lot of people in the district are thinking like me at the moment. Kellna 3ashra.

Georges: Yeah, 10 is more than enough of your kind for now. We can’t let them win and run the country. We can’t allow it. Michel Aoun wants to get that Orthodox Law to pass so he becomes president next year, you know that?

Joseph: Yes, that’s true. He wants to become president.

Peter: Michel Aoun president? Hell no. If that law passes, I’m voting for the LF without blinking. I can’t allow it!

I expect this discussion or some variants of it to be taking place every Sunday when the family is gathered for lunch or any other festivity for that matter until elections are over. I’m sure that the same discussion is taking place in other households which are different from mine politically in more or less the same way. Everyone is talking elections these days. So why not make what people say behind closed doors public? It beats beating around the bush in pretending as if things will change.

I only had to see a pollster in action in my hometown to see exactly how few things have really changed and how much the circumstances had.

Batroun’s Politicians – Antoine Zahra, Boutros Harb, Gebran Bassil – Are A Big Fat Failure

It is customary for Lebanese politicians to pay their condolences when someone who has affiliations with their party passes away. That was the case a few weeks ago when a relative of mine died. Don’t worry, the story isn’t about politicians taking the family’s place during the funeral.

Gebran Bassil, arguably Lebanon’s most hated minister, came over to my hometown which lies at a mere 6 km from the main city of my district Batroun in order to offer his sincere condolences to the deceased’s family. Yes, I have Aounists in the family, however shocking that may sound. As he sat with the family in our Church’s hall, both his drivers (one drives him, the other is a decoy) were busy smoking outside. I overheard the following conversation:

– Man, did you see this fucked up road?

– Yes I did.

– Did you tell Gebran about it?

– To be honest, sta7eit menno (I was too shy to tell him).

The main road of the Batroun district which spans from the city to my hometown has been in total ruin since June. By total ruin I mean: breaking your car every single time you go up and down the hill, potholes that spring up out of nowhere, four attempts to fix it so far that have all been an absolute and utter failure, newer asphalt of such bad quality that a drizzle suffices to rip it off from the road. And the list goes on.

This started when an ambitious project to lay down sewage and water pipes started. Of course, both projects had different contracting companies so they dug on different sides of the road. Sewage went in the middle, water went on the side. We also had a third contractor to supposedly fix the road once the work was done. If that’s not a waste of our taxpayer money, I don’t know what is.

This isn’t a post about the project which I believe is a must in the 21st century. This is about Batroun’s three main politicians: its two MPs Antoine Zahra of the Lebanese Forces, Boutros Harb who is apparently now an independent (insert insane laughter) and its one minister Gebran Bassil of the Free Patriotic Movement.

Our three politicians should theoretically use this road very often. It is 1) the only way into the main and big villages of the district (Ebrine, Douma, Tannourine) and 2) the way home for both Zahra (Kfifan) and Harb (Tannourine). Haven’t they heard that the situation has become unacceptable? Or are they waiting until our cars have gone to the repair shop twenty three times before they decide to do something about it, perhaps around April or May, just in time to cash in on those votes?

I’m not even sure my district’s politicians know about the road. They sit in the back of their luxury cars with their dark tainted-windows, totally oblivious to the massacre their overpriced car is going through. They go about their business, shake a few hands, have their asses kissed a few times and then head back to Beirut to their fancy mansions where the woes of their district don’t haunt them.

The least I can expect from my district’s politicians is to care about the people of their district first and foremost as the place that may or may not vote them back in come June 2013. If they’re not aware of the situation of their district’s main road, what does that say about them?

Future TV has already visited the area to document the road’s current state and interview a few people in the hopes they’d pin it all on Gebran Bassil. What Future TV doesn’t know, however, is the following: the fact that the Batroun’s caza main road has fallen into the state of disrepair that I will show you in a few without any of the district’s politicians caring is a reflection on 1) how big of a failure they are, 2) how little they care about us outside of our electoral votes and 3) how little they are willing to work if it doesn’t bring immediate rewards.

Accountability is key. If we, the newer generation isn’t critical of how things are run around our own neighborhoods, what do we leave to those on whom the ship has sailed? I refuse to have my first time voting be nothing more and nothing less than a sheep being taken to a ballot.

I, Elie Fares,hereby proclaim that I will not be voting for any of these three politicians come June if the road is not fixed. As an influencer, I will also do my best to strip all three of them from as many votes as I can. I’m sure this article will reach party officials that have been taking my vote for granted for far too long now. Therefore, consider this: kaleim youssal.

These are the untouched & unaltered (except for size reduction) pictures that I took with my iPhone while driving back home yesterday:

Batroun Road Lebanon - 1 Batroun Road Lebanon - 2 Batroun Road Lebanon - 3 Batroun Road Lebanon - 4 Batroun Road Lebanon - 5 Batroun Road Lebanon - 6 Batroun Road Lebanon - 7 Batroun Road Lebanon - 8 Batroun Road Lebanon - 9 Batroun Road Lebanon - 10 Batroun Road Lebanon - 11 Batroun Road Lebanon - 12 Batroun Road Lebanon - 13 Batroun Road Lebanon - 14 Batroun Road Lebanon - 15 Batroun Road Lebanon - 16 Batroun Road Lebanon - 17 Batroun Road Lebanon - 18

The "fixed" part of the road is a hole in itself as evident by the mini-stream flowing through it

The “fixed” part of the road is a hole in itself as evident by the mini-stream flowing through it

Batroun Road Lebanon - 20 Batroun Road Lebanon - 21 Batroun Road Lebanon - 22 Batroun Road Lebanon - 23 Batroun Road Lebanon - 24 Batroun Road Lebanon - 25 Batroun Road Lebanon - 26 Batroun Road Lebanon - 27 Batroun Road Lebanon - 28 Batroun Road Lebanon - 29 Batroun Road Lebanon - 30 Batroun Road Lebanon - 31 Batroun Road Lebanon - 32 Batroun Road Lebanon - 33 Batroun Road Lebanon - 34 Batroun Road Lebanon - 35 Batroun Road Lebanon - 36 Batroun Road Lebanon - 37 Batroun Road Lebanon - 38 Batroun Road Lebanon - 39 Batroun Road Lebanon - 40 Batroun Road Lebanon - 41 Batroun Road Lebanon - 42 Batroun Road Lebanon - 43 Batroun Road Lebanon - 44

Lebanon’s 2012 Picture of the Year

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The above picture is worth a few thousand more than that – but don’t worry, I won’t write them.

Antoine Zahra, LF MP of the Batroun Caza, sporting a Palestine solidarity scarf… on his trip to Gaza. Who knew there would come a day when such a sentence would actually be written?

As they say “3ish ktir, betchouf ktir.” I personally don’t know what to make from March 14th visit to Gaza. On one hand, some see it as an act of solidarity, on another hand others see it as absolutely useless act of propaganda.
I’m leaning more to the latter but people already think I’m overly negative lately so good on March 14th for going there.

However, Antoine Zahra, it seems, is sticking it to whoever is saying the LF hate all Palestinians. Now cue in those reminding the world of the “atrocities” the LF have done during the civil war because that is entirely the point here.

In short, for so many reasons, I guess it’s fair to assume the above picture cannot but be Lebanon’s 2012 picture of the year – by far.

LBC and the LF: Don’t Celebrate Just Yet

There was a news item which overtook Friday’s Achrafieh bombing today and that’s the judge ruling in the lawsuit between the Lebanese Forces and Pierre Daher, the head of the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, who was accused by the LF of abusing the trust they put in him when they handed him the TV station which was founded by their founder more than two decades ago.

A similar ruling had been given last year but Pierre Daher chose to take it to higher courts. LF supporters seem to think that today’s ruling is the final one in the case. Simply put, it is not. According to Agnes Sema’an, a good friend of mine who recently graduated from law school, there are more details about the ruling which seem to have escaped most people.

This is apparently an indictment which came out from the criminal division of the court of cassation (temyiz). It declares the previous case, whose ruling turned out to be in favor of the LF, valid. The argument presented by Daher  at this court was that time had passed on the events that were being argued which makes the initial case invalid; LF argued that Daher should be arrested for fraud and embezzlement.

This opens the way to the ownership trial which means that the case will now be forwarded to the single criminal judge of Beirut and he will look into it. That judge will listen to witnesses and he’ll be given documents by both sides to prove their points and he will give a ruling which might go either way – however, his ruling can go to the appeals court.
The appeals court, also, has way too many ways with which it could advance. So the LF have won a fight in a battle that has not ended yet and will keep going for months to come. Headlines that say “LBC is owned by the LF” are erroneous. LF supporters should not pop champagne bottles all over Facebook just yet. There’s still a long way to go.

But the real question is: what will this mean to LBC as a TV station if it returned to the Lebanese Forces?

If we go by other Lebanese TV stations which are handled by political parties (Future, NBN, Al Manar, OTV), this means that the quality of LBC as a TV station will degrade rapidly. Most of these TV stations are unwatchable due to their extreme bias and ridiculous one-sidedness so even if the TV shows that are offered remain at a certain relatively high standard, the news won’t be. I expect the viewership of the TV station to decrease the more biased its news service becomes.

I also expect a lot of political hiring and firing to happen. Many LF-supporters searching for jobs will suddenly find a spot for them in the midst of LBC. It has already started with my Facebook timeline filled with excited mass communication majors who also happen to be LF supporters and for their supporters to be hired, others have got to go. How disappointed will those people be when they find out that it won’t be that imminent.

All in all, while it is perhaps the Lebanese Forces’ right to own LBC, I have to wonder if it’s the best thing for Lebanon’s leading TV station to become deeply and politically involved? One thing is for sure though: even if the LF end up winning the whole thing, it will not be an easy walk in the park for them to run a station.

The Hypocrisy of the Lebanese Forces

Some LF supporters protesting against the visit in Elige yesterday

Michel Aoun is visiting Elige. A headline that, in any normal setting, would just be that: something to get the press to talk.

But this is Lebanon and Michel Aoun visiting Elige, a convent in Jbeil where many Lebanese Forces martyrs are buried, sparked immense controversy among Christians first and foremost.

He is not allowed to visit and desecrate the place VS he’s going there ghasb 3annkon.

Mante2 bila33e men l meyltein.

My readers already know that when it comes to how I lean, Michel Aoun doesn’t get my vote. And I’m definitely not voting for his party next year. But regardless of me preferring the Lebanese Forces over his party, there’s something that I felt gnawing at me yesterday as I contemplated the Elige dilemma. And it is hypocrisy.

The Lebanese Forces are hypocrites when they ask everyone to put their war crimes where they belong – in the past – but they cannot do the same for the war crimes of others. I, for one, am sure Michel Aoun did not kill most the martyrs buried in Elige and I’m also sure he wasn’t a civil war saint either as his supporters would love to potray him. Michel Aoun may have spoken harshly against those martyrs before. He may have humiliated their memory and he may have been a “Michel Aoun” about them. But that’s on him. And if he wanted to visit their graves to pay tribute and maybe – just maybe – apologize for what was said against them (you know that would work well with his electoral plan), then what’s the harm in that?

Lebanese Forces supporters should know how well Samir Geagea’s apology played out. He’s the only politician so far to have spoken in such a way about the civil war.

The problem with many Lebanese Forces supporters is that when you speak out the words Michel Aoun to them, their blood pressure starts to rise. It’s the same with those who support Aoun when you say those two syllables… Geagea. You see them throw a fit even worse than that of an Lebanese Forces supporter. You see them shiver and inundate his supporters with all kinds of stereotypes. According to them, I am an illiterate high school dropout .

The divide between the supporters of both groups is way too great and it has never been more obvious than with Aoun’s “planned” visit to Elige. However, the Lebanese Forces cannot simply ask everyone to get over the “Geagea is a murderer” stereotype (one that I, for the record, do not agree with) while they have no problem hanging the dirty laundry of others for everyone to see if it serves some purpose that they think they have.

He who lives in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

The Lebanese Forces are also hypocrites on another front: had one of their allies, say Walid Jumblat, decided to visit the martyrs at Elige, would they have reacted in the same way? One would say Jumblat’s party has killed way more Christians than Aoun. But I’m not a civil war expert so take that with a grain of salt. And for the record as well, I want to keep my civil war knowledge as limited as possible for the time being. Odds are the Lebanese Forces would have saw Jumblat’s visit as a great step towards national unity. But not Aoun’s.

And let’s assume in a hypothetical scenario that in the coming few months Samir Geagea decided to have an electoral tour in Zgharta. The Lebanese Forces supporters there, fewer than those who support Sleiman Frangieh, would want that visit to happen. And yet the same outrage that was sparked with Aoun’s planned visit to Elige would happen. The Lebanese Forces supporters would be on the other side of the debate right now. Now, ponder on this: would you have wanted Geagea to go there or not? If yes, why can’t you extend the courtesy to someone else?

The Lebanese Forces are proud of going “7asyou la yajro2 l akharoun.” They should have done that regarding Elige and actually did what others wouldn’t do unto them: let it pass and let the people judge.

It is sad that in 2012, almost all parties are still ready to use up civil war arguments to prove a point to their supporters. The Lebanese Forces supporters are now proud that they stopped Aoun’s visit. The Aounists now hate those war criminals even more. The idea that those “ze3ran” are the reason the country is ruined is at all time high in their minds. It is said the civil war has become in the past. Elige would most definitely disagree with those who say so.