Lebanon, The Qnion

Dialogue This

roundtable

I have a drawer in my house that contains a collection of miscellaneous documents: past-due bills, soon-to-expire magazine subscription notices, important tax forms, etc. You know the drawer that I’m talking about; you probably have one yourself. It’s the “later drawer”: the drawer of important tasks postponed.

As it turns out, Lebanon has its own later drawer, also known as the national dialogue talks.

Every thorny political issue eventually seems to exhaust the deliberative avenues available for its resolution within parliament and ends up being penciled onto the agenda of the national dialogue talks, a series of private high-level round-table discussions between the leaders of Lebanon’s different confessional communities.

I’ve often wondered what happens in these dialogue sessions. Who moderates the discussions? What do they actually talk about? What is the mood like?

Well dear readers, the investigative sleuths on staff here at qifanabki.com have managed to lay their hands on a leaked tape of the most recent national dialogue session, held in a secret location immediately after the election. I’ve transcribed some of the most interesting bits below. Among those present were: Saad al-Hariri, Fouad Siniora, Nabih Berri, Walid Jumblatt, Mohammed Raad (representing Hassan Nasrallah), Michel Aoun, Amin Gemayel, Samir Geagea, Suleiman Frangieh, and Michel al-Murr.

**

Siniora: I’d like to call this round table to order. Gentlemen, please… If I could have your attention…

Aoun: (muttering) Let’s get this over with.

Siniora: Excuse me?

Aoun: Nothing.

Siniora: Did you say something?

Aoun: No.

Siniora: I’m sure I heard you say something.

Geagea: Me too.

Frangieh: I didn’t hear him say anything.

Berri: Me neither.

Hariri: Well I did.

Siniora: He definitely said something.

(15 minutes later…)

Berri: He didn’t say anything! Can we please just move it along?

Siniora: Yes let’s. Turning to the first item on the agenda…

Aoun: (muttering) What an incredible waste of time…

Siniora: What?

Aoun: Nothing.

Siniora: There he goes again! Don’t tell me you said nothing! I heard you say something!

(20 minutes later. Everyone is shouting.)

Hariri: Hello! Yo! C’mon call it off. Let’s focus people. (Everybody ignores him.)

Jumblatt: (sitting in the corner, sending SMS’s with a bored expression on his face. He pulls out a gun, shoots a single shot in the air, and everyone quiets down.) That’s better.

Siniora: Ahem… Thank you Walid Bek.

Jumblatt: (without looking up from his phone) Ahlan wa sahlan.

Siniora: Are you sending text messages?

Jumblatt: No. Surfing the internet.

Siniora: Oh. Anything good?

Jumblatt: Have you seen this blog, qifanabki? It’s highly worth reading.

Frangieh: Oh man, I hate that guy.

Aoun: You know, so did I, but after a while he kinda grows on you. But I agree, he’s annoying.

Siniora: (clears his throat) Okay, first thing on the agenda: Hizbullah’s weapons. Can we talk about them?

Aoun, Frangieh, and Berri: No.

Siniora: Alrighty then. Moving right along. The next item on the agenda is…

Raad: Ahh, actually… yes we can. In my capacity as the representative of Hizbullah, I have a proposal to make.

Hariri: Oh?

Raad: Yes. We have drawn up a national defense strategy. If we could just pass these papers around, you will see what it is that we’re talking about. Basically, we’re willing to dismantle the resistance entirely or incorporate it into the Lebanese Army… whatever works for everyone else.

Geagea: Huh?

Raad: We think that this is what makes the most sense for Lebanon, at this stage.

Hariri: Wait, really?

Raad: No! I’m just messing with you! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…!!!

Hariri: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…!!!

Geagea: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…!!!

(10 minutes later)

Everyone: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…!!!

Raad: You should… have seen… the look on … your face… Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…!!!

Hariri: (wiping tears of laughter away) Oh my God. You had me there man. Oh damn, that was funny!

nationaldialogue

Siniora: (serious) Can we turn to the next issue please?

Hariri: Ha ha ha ha… ok ok. (Takes a deep breath). Ok. What’s next?

Siniora: The new electoral law.

Everyone: (groans) Noooooo…!!!

Siniora: I know, I know… But we have to talk about it. I’m under strict orders from the President. Interior Minister Ziad Baroud says that …

(There is a collective eye roll around the room and another round of groaning.)

Hariri: Ziad Baroud says this, Ziad Baroud says that… Who does this guy think he is?

Raad: Seriously. We just passed a new electoral law. Why do we need another one?

Siniora: I don’t know, ok? Something about pre-printed ballots, preventing corruption…

Berri: (snickering) That goody-two-shoes. Someone needs to get him a bag of marbles to play with.

Aoun: Sheikh Saad, can’t you give him a job as president of one of your companies or something? Why does he need to be Interior Minister?

Hariri: I thought of that, but he’s not interested in real estate or investing or… anything, really, other than electoral reform.  The guy’s got a one-track mind. Electoral laws, electoral laws, electoral laws… that’s all he thinks about.

Murr: So create a company for him that produces electoral laws. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…!!!

(Everyone cackles gleefully…)

Berri: I move to table this important discussion until the next national dialogue session.

Everyone: Hear hear!

Hariri: While we’re at it, I move to adjourn this entire session, because I’m hungry.

Everyone: Hear hear!

Aoun: I’m starving. I didn’t have dinner.

Raad: Me neither. What’s everyone in the mood for?

(The room is silent as everyone thinks this over)

Everyone: BARBAR!

Hariri: Someone call ahead. And get the police to shut down all of Hamra, Qoreitem, Sanayeh, and Zoqaq al-Blat.

(Everyone starts filing out of the room)

Frangieh: Oh man, I can’t wait for my spicy lahmbajin with extra pickles.

Siniora: (on the phone, dictating to his press secretary) “…the national dialogue talks were very productive. All parties agreed that progress had been made on a wide range of issues, and we have agreed to resume where we left off, a month from now…”

Raad: (holding open the door for Geagea) After you.

Geagea: No, after you…

Raad: No, I insist…

Geagea: No I insist…

Jumblatt: (firing another shot in the air) Just move it. I’m hungry.

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Discussion

37 thoughts on “Dialogue This

  1. Walid Bek is priceless

    You should try and get on Basmat Watan, QN

    Posted by Midwesterner in Beirut | June 17, 2009, 11:43 am
  2. Helarious post! Loved Mohamad Raad 😀

    Posted by Rami | June 17, 2009, 11:58 am
  3. I know you did it on purpose…but I have to ask: Where is the other General Michel??

    Posted by mj | June 17, 2009, 12:08 pm
  4. I think the President is off limits… at least that’s what I’ve been told.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 17, 2009, 12:11 pm
  5. ha ha haha ha

    Posted by F | June 17, 2009, 12:13 pm
  6. Funniest post i have seen I am laughing out loud at work

    Posted by elsheikh | June 17, 2009, 12:16 pm
  7. Absolutely Priceless!!

    Posted by c.sydow | June 17, 2009, 12:25 pm
  8. loooool this blows the old “Veiled Conceit” wedding brunch dialogues out of the water :). total hoot.

    welcome back & look forward to seeing you sometime soon!

    Posted by adiamondinsunlight | June 17, 2009, 12:43 pm
  9. Definitive! I’m still trying to figure out this, though: If Walid has his Blackberry in one hand and a pistol in the other what hand does he use for his little bottle of vodka?

    Posted by Helena Cobban | June 17, 2009, 12:55 pm
  10. Do you all remember the seen from Godfather III when all the heads of families gather at a conference and a helicopter pays them a visit? ha ha ha ha…boy that crazy joey zaza

    …well screw y’all if you don’t find the Godfather reference funny.

    🙂

    Posted by razzouk | June 17, 2009, 1:09 pm
  11. QN,

    I didn’t get a chance to wish you all the luck going back home and on your dissertation, so I’m doing so now. You’ve done a tremendous job on this blog, and I too hope you’ll continue even with the upcoming pressure. You truly are a star for all of us, QN!

    (p.s. I loved this piece, and it is obvious your place is NOT in Academia… 🙂

    Posted by Shai | June 17, 2009, 3:08 pm
  12. Shai!

    Long time no see. Thx for kudos — why aren’t you writing more yourself?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 17, 2009, 3:56 pm
  13. Oh reminds me of that american series, little bush, little condi, etc..

    As I was reading it I was imagining the cartoon characters, little jumblatt, little siniora, little aoun, …

    Extremely hilarious, I can’t believe you chose Barbar! It sounds so convincing 😀 lmao

    Posted by Liliane | June 17, 2009, 4:42 pm
  14. Very interesting and funny how subdued Aoun is in contrast with the cocky Siniora
    Nice piece, thanks for the laughs and welcome to the land of the free.

    Posted by V | June 17, 2009, 6:40 pm
  15. Hysterical!

    I too have a question about Jumblatt: where’s qar’et el matte? You can’t be a Druze za’eem without one!

    Posted by Amal | June 17, 2009, 8:58 pm
  16. Very funny!

    Posted by Rex Brynen | June 17, 2009, 10:01 pm
  17. Priceless QN. I couldn’t stop laughing while reading it.

    Walid was just great, so was Raad.

    Now that the election is over, we can use more of these entertaining pieces.

    Thanks again for the laughs.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | June 18, 2009, 12:10 am
  18. You guys are all laughing, but remember, most Americans under 25 get all their news from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I am now getting all my Lebanon politics from QN’s satires. Yes I’m laughing, but I’m also learning something.

    Thanks Q!

    Posted by Leila Abu-Saba | June 18, 2009, 1:25 am
  19. I loved it, hilarious. Did anyone notice that Helena’s automated “post logo” looks suspiciously like the symbol of the SSNP? Mysterious….

    Posted by Zaytouni | June 18, 2009, 3:12 am
  20. THis was good. I’m sure you had fun concoting it.
    Why don’t you turn this into a regular feature alongside the conspiracy theory and taxi conversations: “Excerpt from the Latest National Dialogue Talks”

    Posted by Blackstar | June 18, 2009, 2:22 pm
  21. QN I just “bumped into” your blog and IT IS BRILLIANT. I’m sharing it with everybody

    Posted by moodz | June 19, 2009, 11:34 am
  22. Yes, mimtéz! This Canadian Middle-East news junkie got a lot of laughs from this. Keep up the good work!

    Posted by Roberto | June 19, 2009, 12:49 pm
  23. Thanks everyone. Glad that I’m not the only one who finds national dialogue amusing.

    I will add this to the QNION series and create a new header/tag, etc.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 19, 2009, 6:04 pm
  24. HILARIOUS man.. 🙂 ya3teek il 3afyi…
    Someone really needs to record one of these meetings and allow the public to hear the kind of CRAP that goes on behind closed doors. My guess is that you’re more or less on target 😉

    Posted by Toto | June 20, 2009, 1:23 pm
  25. Habibi Toto, thx!

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 22, 2009, 10:20 am
  26. nice one! 🙂

    Posted by samah | June 23, 2009, 10:20 am
  27. i think this is a little too close to reality! hilarious

    Posted by cyn | June 24, 2009, 5:26 pm
  28. I love this. Best articulation of Hariri’s thought process ever hahah …

    Posted by Sanayya | June 25, 2009, 3:48 pm
  29. LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!

    Amazing!

    I loved this part

    Siniora: (clears his throat) Okay, first thing on the agenda: Hizbullah’s weapons. Can we talk about them?

    Aoun, Frangieh, and Berri: No.

    hahaah Priceless!

    Posted by Ghina | June 29, 2009, 8:18 am
  30. helarious,
    i love it and by the way it s not a joke that s what happens inside.
    i wish the lebanese citizens act like them but ………..

    Posted by wajeb ghasoub | June 29, 2009, 10:49 am
  31. You are a God on Earth. Bilal Thank you for linking me to this blog, it’s awesome. I wish I had found out about it sooner.

    Posted by Tarek | July 24, 2009, 4:34 am
  32. honestly.. this is the stuff that should get published in the economist caricature section man… i almost fell off my chair in a laotian restuarant in ventien laos… i met some cool israeli guys sitting next to me… ofcouse.. and needless to say.. politcally aware of our situation.. they joined the chorus and the resto is being converted to lebanese food with lahhhhbaaagiinee and some pickled shaloms eating homous! love it mate

    Posted by karl haddad | July 28, 2009, 9:35 am
  33. Karlito! Good to see you here.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 28, 2009, 6:41 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Weekend reading « erase and rewind - June 19, 2009

  2. Pingback: Picking on Berri « Qifa Nabki | A Lebanese Political Blog - January 18, 2010

  3. Pingback: National Dialogue « Qifa Nabki | A Lebanese Political Blog - March 9, 2010

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