Elections, Lebanon

Sois Libanais

sois-belle3aIs Walid Jumblatt brilliant, senile, or both?

While seated amongst a klatsch of shriveled Druze elders, the PSP leader launched into a diatribe against his Christian and Sunni allies, which was captured on a camera phone and posted on YouTube. (Who knew that shriveled Druze elders were YouTube savvy?)

I don’t know about you, but I find these kind of ‘keyhole’ moments exhilarating, as they give the humble citizen a peek behind the curtain to see the Wizard at work. Here are some impressions:

Revelation #1: The zu’ama are exactly as petty and backbiting as we thought; we’re not just imagining it!

Revelation #2: They really can’t stand each other; we’re not just imagining it!

Revelation #3: (And this one never gets old…) There is no plan! We’re not just imagining it!

Friday-Lunch-Club has an English translation of the juicier bits of the video, in which Jumblatt referred to Samir Geagea as “shoo esmo hayda” (“what’s-his-name”) and to the Maronites as “jins `atel” (a bad breed). Michael Young reads the whole incident as a plot engineered by Jumblatt himself, which will eventually bite him in the ass.

And finally, coming full circle, +961 has a great post on the Lebanese Forces’ response to the FPM “Soit Belle” campaign, and the Aounists’ counter-response, which references the whole Jumblatt debacle.

I tell you, I’m going to be sad when the campaign is over, but probably not as sad as all of these fresh-from-the-Gulf, out-of-work graphic designers who’ll finally have to go out and find real jobs.
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7 thoughts on “Sois Libanais

  1. Maybe he has multiple personalities? I mean theres no question about it, Joumblatt is a weather vane when it comes to regional/international politics. A survivor par excellence who shrewdly makes and breaks alliances, ignites and defuses situations. One can deduct, that the old man of the mountain has a copy of Machiavellis “the Prince” and Sun Tzus “Art of war” on his bedside.
    But for all his obvious intellect, in brief moments, Jumbo seems to flush it all down the toilet. I recall his feb 14 speech referring to Bashar al Assad in terms of specific animals.
    In the end, I still think the mans brilliant, but i would prefer him as a political analyst away from the role of politician/zaim. I would read his articles with open eyed enthusiasm.But his lack of consistency,his ever changing stances,his tongue slips and irresponsible words deem him impossible to follow as a political leader.
    I do not think it is a plot, it is his nature to lash out in frustration when he feels the heat ( think of the Akhdar wel Yebes talk before May 7) and this frustration is caused by the selfish behaviour of some of the political party Zaims in M14, in which alot of M14 Maronites that were instrumental in the Cedar revolution made way.

    Posted by Maverick | April 23, 2009, 7:04 pm
  2. Maverick:

    ” I think that Walid bey has been suffering from ADDT”

    One wonders what, if History had been different and Kamal Jumblatt survived the war?

    What this whole episode serves to remind us is that “Scratch the surface” and sectarianism is still only skin deep in Lebanon.

    I look forward to the Day that we can look back at all the Zaim’s and say with heartfelt warmth ” Shoo can esmoo”?

    Posted by Enlightened | April 24, 2009, 7:34 am
  3. I’m not sure why so many people continue to describe Jumblatt as a ‘survivor’ as if he is the only Lebanese zaim to have made it through the civil war and maintain his leadership role. The last time I checked the state was littered with zuama from the pre-war and war era.

    All he is really is an opportunist, and that doesn’t make one intelligent. It doesn’t take rocket science to see the subtle shifts in global politics – i.e. the UK’s new found openness with Hizbullah or the Obama crew perhaps being less likely to overtly support March 14. What Jumbo is able to recognise and label is what the rest of the political elite in Lebanon have recognised. Difference is that he, like a bull in a China shop, is willing to state what the changes are even if it means exposing his multiple personality disorder.

    Opportunism and breaking/remaking alliances do not make for intelligent or refined politics. If he was really as great as ppl say he’d be able to manoeuvre himself effectively with less crude obviousness and without having amassed names like “chameleon”.

    Posted by the Sydneysider | April 24, 2009, 9:11 am
  4. sidneysider, i agree with your description of jumblatt and don’t think he is any more or less shrewd than any of the other surviving zu’ama who, annoyingly enough, continue to stick around. just the other day i happened to re-read mideast report’s dossier on the person of nabih berri. it’s not that i haven’t heard these things previously, but it just brought to mind again everything to be booked under this dude’s name, wow. jumblatt simply manages to create a kind of intellectualist aura for himself by quoting something pertaining to leadership or wine from the western canon every now and then. and i also think the other zu’ama talk just as condescendingly about each other or the different denominations than jumblatt did. i’m not sure what to think of the young-thesis and jumblatt engineering the plot himself. on the one hand, it seems hard to imagine that someone could walk into mukhtara and happily take cell phone videos from such vicinity as that person obviously did, when you look at the youtube clip. on the other hand, those latest remarks are a little too strong and potentially harmful to be purposefully recorded and then leaked, i find. then again, jumblatt seems to have more of a history of ‘getting caught’ in such moments than other zu’ama. i remember at least one other incident a couple months ago when al-akhbar (i think) broke an unwritten rule and quoted from a conversation journalists held with jumblatt behind closed doors. in any case, the latest episode will harm rather than help the druze chieftain (!) .

    Posted by bint abeeha | April 24, 2009, 11:07 am
  5. mnee7a enlightened … mnee7a!

    Posted by F | April 24, 2009, 5:14 pm
  6. Enlightened:
    If only,…we might have seen a completely diff Lebanon, but it wasnt in anyones interest to keep the M’uallem alive.For all the dictatorships,Monarchies,theocracies in the ME, Kamals idealistic vision if it came to fruition would have caused ripple effects and upheavel in the Arab street. That model of Lebanon had to be destroyed.
    Jumbo knew that, and his fathers legacy taught him a vital lesson.Hence his anti-principle nature. As Micheal Young put it, the last time a Syrian/Saudi reapproachment occured, Kamal joumblatt was assassinated.
    In the end, Jumbo will end as he began, no matter how hard he tried to ascend fuedal and sectarian politics, as a Druze Zaim with a priority of conserving this minority….
    This saying comes to mind “Dont hate the playa, hate the game”.

    Posted by Maverick | April 24, 2009, 10:10 pm
  7. Mav:

    A reading of the civil war, I studied it intensely albeit at a distance from the shorees of Australia. Of all the players Kamal Jumblatts stance about social issues, a just state, democratic, the rule of law etc, his principled stand was the only coherent voice to emerge before and during the war. ( I would only state that he used violence and the power of the Palestinians to achieve his aims as my only criticism of him)

    What is sadly lacking among many Lebanese politicians is the absence of coherent society and state building that Kamal Jumblatt spoke so eloquently about. Yes you are correct you have to destroy the old to build the new, but I am very surprised that no one has taken up his mantle and created a new way in Lebanese politics, that would transcend petty tribalism and sectarianism.


    mnee7a enlightened … mnee7a!

    is this mneehah? ( you will have to forgive my rudimentary Arabic, it is very poor but iomproving)

    Posted by Enlightened | April 27, 2009, 2:17 am

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