Can someone explain Michel Aoun to me? No need for responses from the M14ers who read this blog: I know what you think of him. I’d like to hear from the FPMers.
How to explain Aoun’s latest behavior, from turning down Hariri’s lunch invitation, to insisting on Gebran Bassil’s re-appointment as Telecommunications Minister (when he had once denounced the practice of allowing unsuccessful candidates for parliament to become ministers), to suddenly announcing that he wants the Interior Ministry (a post set aside for one of the President’s ministers, probably the highly popular Ziad Baroud), to refusing to refer to Hariri as PM-designate…
I’ll venture an explanation myself. Aoun can get away with these tactics because there is no clear-cut set of protocols according to which the cabinet formation must take place. It’s a free-for-all. Anybody is fully justified in making whatever demands they feel like, and there is no universally-accepted standard by which to measure the merit of those demands. (By the way, I am formally submitting my demand for the Ministry of Social Affairs. I feel I’m entitled to it, and I dare you to prove me wrong. Go on, try it.)
Consensual democracy in Lebanon is like trying to herd a bunch of teenagers with ADHD into a little rowboat and persuading them all to put their oars away so that the river’s natural current will coax them gently down the stream. All it takes is a single one of those kids to dip his oar into the water, and the rowboat veers towards the rocks.
None of this is surprising; we’ve seen this kerfuffle loom time and again. But what never ceases to amaze me is how people continue to take these leaders seriously. I’m not being cynical here; I really would like an FPMer to come forward and explain it to me.
Take this clip as an example. Here’s a rough transcript:
“Let’s now turn to a matter that has become, in my opinion, a personal one. And it was intended to be personal, for them to say to the people: “It’s because of the General’s son-in-law that the government hasn’t been formed yet.” Well, may the government not be formed just because of the General’s son-in-law, then, if that’s how they want it!”
Does anyone really buy this stuff? It’s like saying: “How dare you accuse me of peeing in your pool! Just for that, I’m going to pee in your pool!” How amazingly lame. And yet, despite its lameness, people believe him!
I can’t help but feel sometimes that if Saad Hariri had 10% of the rhetorical abilities of Nasrallah or Ghazi al-Aridi, he would have put an end to these shenanigans a month ago. Instead, all he can seem to manage are these tepid can’t-we-all-just-get-along press conferences, which hardly inspire confidence in the future. The Big Queso of Qoreitem needs to poop or get off the pot already.
Here’s al-Aridi explaining what we all know, namely that you can’t make the rules up as you go along.