Elections, Lebanon, Service Taxis

Sheikh Nadim, Abu Laymouneh, and the Mother of all Battles


View from a ’72 Benz C250 series, no. 5

It took all of thirty seconds to determine that Abu Georges, the driver of the white ’78 Peugeot with the immaculate interior, was a perfect candidate for a piece in this series. We were rumbling down the hill in Achrafieh on a cool spring night, and Abu Georges was already chattering away about his four kids, his cousins in America, the traffic problems, and his plans to trade in his car, so I figured I’d get him going on the subject of the elections.gemayel

QN: So, are you from Achrafieh?

AG: Born and raised.

QN: Who do you think is going to win the district?

AG: Ya sidi, I think Sheikh Nadim has got it sewn up.

QN: Really? Seems like it’s going to be a close race.

AG: Maybe for the others, but there is no real competition for the Maronite spot. I mean, come on, the other guy thinks he’s actually going to take Sheikh Nadim’s seat? He served his father! The people who supported the father will support the son.

QN: So I take it that you are with the Kata’eb?

AG: Lebanese Forces. But we’re one family. We’re committed to the same principles, unlike Abu Laymouneh’s gang. Ya habibi, explain to me how this son of a dog thinks that he is going to fool the Christians yet another time.

QN: Umm, who is Abu Laymouneh?

AG: Michel Aoun. That’s my nickname for him.

QN: Oh, ok. I get it. But you’ve gotta admit that he has a very significant following. I mean, he’s got more MP’s in Parliament than the Kata’eb and the LF combined.

AG: Watch what happens this time around. He’s going to be cut down to size. When he came back and visited Hakim, we thought he had learned something, but it turns out that the Syrians got to him first. By the way, who are you with?

QN: Abu Laymouneh.

AG: Aha… I mean, what do I know, right? Everybody sees things in their own way…

QN: I’m just kidding. I’m non-aligned.

AG: Me too. That’s the best way to be.
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16 thoughts on “Sheikh Nadim, Abu Laymouneh, and the Mother of all Battles

  1. QN, You are going to kill me with these posts. Not good for my spleen. I knew the Lebanese were always reaching for the middle ground. Karama at its best – perfect.

    Posted by Joshua Landis | April 28, 2009, 3:18 pm
  2. hhhaahaha, i like ‘abu laymouneh’. funny how hard a few of those fresh from the gulf laid-off graphic designers are trying to capitalize on the bashir thing, using all their photoshop skillz to make their profiles look alike and reminiscent of old photos, plus getting rid of some chubby cheeks…

    Posted by bint abeeha | April 28, 2009, 3:29 pm
  3. hehe, i love it!

    Posted by babagannouj | April 28, 2009, 6:01 pm
  4. If I were Lebanese, I would vote for March 14 just because it is only a matter of time before Hezbollah quarrels with Israel again–and with them in power in Beirut, the entire country will be fair game. But that being said, I’d say I was voting indie just to get the best deal.

    Why are the politics of the Levant so much fun to follow?

    Posted by Abu Guerrilla | April 28, 2009, 6:08 pm
  5. If you think you understand Lebanese politics, then it probably wasn’t explained very well to you. Although Qifa does a great job of clarifying the picture. I have been using this blog to keep up with the motherland.

    I find service drivers to be quite often the most interesting people to talk to myself.

    Posted by Jim Ramsey Khoury | April 28, 2009, 8:40 pm
  6. I hate them all, but I would vote for him cause he Looks like Bashir…
    or if I can get a free ticket to Lebanon… I’ll vote for anyone.

    In Fact I encourage people to sell their vote. There is more to it, than mere ethics and philosophical blah’.

    Posted by Jester theFool | April 28, 2009, 10:30 pm
  7. Yeah, ok. I remember going on a dirt road north of Beirut post 2006 War in a cab because the IAF took out the bridge. Oh, but wait.. Isn’t Hezbollah known to be in the south?

    “Oh my child, let me introduce you to the concept of collective punishment.”

    Yes, yes, I know. But seriously guys, don’t you think that the more Hezbollah is empowered in Beirut, the more the Israelis can justify a strike anywhere in the country?

    If you are such the expert, Jim Ramsey Khoury, why don’t you explain to the readership why this logic is false.

    Posted by Abu Guerrilla | April 29, 2009, 2:28 am
  8. Abu Laymouneh?

    I take it he is using the egyptian vocabulary ie “The Orange revolution”, got to give it to the taxi driver he is a comedian.

    ‘In Fact I encourage people to sell their vote. There is more to it, than mere ethics and philosophical blah’.”

    Sure Jester why not, this world financial crisis what better way than to stimulate the Lebanese economy?


    If Aoun is Abu laymouneh?

    Jumblatt is Abu Maymoun?

    Geagea is Abu Hake el Hazmeh?

    Harriri is Abu Mastool?

    Berri is Abu Masari?

    Nasrallah is Abu Antar?

    I concur with Jester I hate them all! We should nautralise Avidor Lebermann and make him our PM!

    Posted by Enlightened | April 29, 2009, 3:42 am
  9. @ Abu Guerilla

    Please don’t take this the wrong way. I wasn’t implying that your opinion was wrong. Simply repeating a fairly common saying (or at least one I’ve heard much).

    In fact, I’m not yet old enough to vote (unless they change that law), but I completely agree with your point that a March 8 government would give the US government justification to ignore Lebanon and leave it at the mercy of the Israelis. That said, March 14 isn’t a much better choice for election. I’d much rather vote for new candidates who represent themselves rather than a side like M8 or M14.

    Just my two cents.

    Posted by Jim Ramsey Khoury | April 29, 2009, 8:29 am
  10. Abu Guerrilla,
    The opposite is also true. The more Hizbullah is empowered, the less possible it is for Israel to strike all of Lebanon. Because, for instance, it is politically harder for the international community to defend Israel when it is attacking all of Lebanon rather than simply targeting Hizbullah. When Hizbullah is out of power, the world is less likely to restrain Israel because Israel can claim to be attacking only Hizbullah (even though they are bombing everyone anyway, as we have seen).

    Also, if Hizbullah is in a majority government, that does not mean that other factions have no say or no roll. And attacking Lebanon is not in Israel’s interests anyway, because it will simply alienate more of the Lebanese people, whether Hizbullah’s in government or not. When Lebanon is being bombed wholesale, I doubt the people being hit will be saying “oh, that bomb is what i deserve because Hizbullah won in the parliamentary election…”

    Also, the simple problem is that Israel is a racist, fascist state, and poses a danger to everyone in the region (including jews). Without a significant change in Israel, there is going to be more war, that’s a plain fact. It doesn’t matter whether Hizbullah is in government or not. Hizbullah is not the belligerent party. Considering this, why do you want to accept Israel’s violence as your driving motivation for your politics? You should vote for your views, not your fears. Because, if you vote against your fears, you will always end up with the shittiest alternative. Fatah, Egypt or Jordan are the perfect examples of what happens when you allow the threats of the other side determine how you operate. You end up in worse condition then if you were bombed with dignity and stand up for yourself. Even if being bombed hurts more in the short run, it is better in the long run.

    Posted by Joe M. | April 29, 2009, 9:21 am
  11. QN, hilarious post and awesome blog. Thanks, and please keep it up!

    Posted by Kieran | April 29, 2009, 11:55 am
  12. hehehe Joe.M., dude your a crack up…so what language do they speak in Lalaland.

    Posted by Maverick | April 30, 2009, 12:21 am
  13. Maverick,
    In the end, those who sacrifice for a greater concept of justice are remembered as heroes, and those who accept the pragmatism and comfort of defeat are forgotten (or remembered with hatred). It’s a pretty universal rule of history.

    But also, you would be fooling yourself if you think Israel is expecting some kind of peace with the Arabs. Israel is expecting an unconditional surrender. So, those like Mubarak and the other puppets are just dogs chasing their own tails….

    I simply don’t think Israel can justify an all out attack on Lebanon any time soon (though I do think there will be a limited war somewhere (maybe not lebanon)). It’s politically risky for Israel, and they are already weakened politically from the Gaza attack.

    But it’s utter foolishness to vote on the basis of how you think Israel (or the rest of the “international community”) will react to the incoming Lebanese government. There are two ways to look at international politics, like Sadat or like Nasser (you either try to tailor reality to your needs, or you tailor your needs to your reality). Both Nasser and Sadat fundamentally failed in their ultimate goals because they didn’t have to power to succeed, but only one is remembered fondly by history. Lebanon is not a powerful country, and is hardly consequential in the scheme of things. So the Lebanese factions that try to use their power to fit themselves within the status quo set by Israel and the USA strike me as particularly weak and pathetic. Those who struggle and seek wider goals against the stream of power (even if i disagree with many of their particular goals) deserve respect in my mind.

    Hizbullah has spent the last 20 years challenging the system you advocate, and they have only grown in power and popularity. I think that says more than Hariri’s money and the LF/Kataeb collaboration could ever buy.

    But why don’t we let the election results, and the coming several years determine who is right…

    Posted by Joe M. | April 30, 2009, 8:49 am
  14. Im not advocating to any system ya Joe, I just like to pull apart some obvious holes in arguments, and I have a field day in yours, or lack there of.
    So, Mr.Doomsday, taking your sound argument,why are we still here typing, lets go strap ourselves with TNT and head to Isreal,sorry, Occupied Palestine.This,according to your ideology is living with honor.

    Posted by Maverick | April 30, 2009, 2:50 pm
  15. Joe M and Jim Ramsey Khoury,

    Thank you for the response. Your comments and concerns have prompted me to do a post on my blog–I quote you guys. I hope you don’t mind.


    Posted by Abu Guerrilla | May 1, 2009, 7:21 am


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