Put On a Happy Face

greyskiesThe past twenty-four hours have been bewildering, even by Lebanese standards, for all of the mixed signals coming out of Beirut about the cabinet formation. Yesterday, there were widespread reports of “optimism” and a “positive atmosphere” regarding the talks. Today, however, all this exuberance has evaporated in the wake of what The Daily Star is calling a “bombshell” (yawn) from Michel Aoun:

Government formation suffered a heavy setback Wednesday as demands made by Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader MP Michel Aoun pulled the rug from beneath earlier progress.

Deliberations over the cabinet formation appear as if they would have to be resumed from scratch as Aoun, in a defiant tone, demanded that his party be granted six portfolios and be allowed to maintain the five ministries – including the Telecommunications Ministry – being handled by his Reform and Change bloc in the current caretaker cabinet.

Naturally, March 14 officials (and even a few ex-March 14 officials) have expressed “shock at Aoun’ s stance given the relatively optimistic mood.”

I love these kinds of statements from Lebanese politicians. They belong to what I’ve come to think of as the meteorological school of political commentary. Politics, in other words, is like the weather. You can’t control it; you just have to hope for the best, taking advantage of the sunny days and riding out the rainy ones.

Some mornings, I wake up to read that everyone is feeling great about the “positive atmosphere”, and that this bodes well for the prospects of forming a government. On other mornings, I open the newspaper to find that this positive atmosphere has been replaced by a “negative mood”, and that all progress towards the goal has been erased.

You can almost hear the frustration in the M14 pols’ voices when they complain about Aoun’s behavior: “Why did you have to go and spoil a perfectly sunny day with this cloudburst?”

What’s the lowly citizen to do but put on their parka and go out into the drizzle, whistling a hopeful tune to distract themselves from the unfortunate turn of events?

Grey skies are gonna clear up…

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14 thoughts on “Put On a Happy Face

  1. Well it seems that there is someone who is controlling the political weather and it’s Michel Aoun

    Posted by Liliane | October 22, 2009, 9:33 am
  2. Liliane it seems that there’s someone who’s controlling Aoun who is controlling the weather forecasts…is a better reflection of realities on the ground…

    Sunny with cloudy periods; low to high winds with chance of showers or thunderstorms…flurries at higher altitudes…

    Posted by danny | October 22, 2009, 9:55 am
  3. “What’s the lowly citizen to do but put on their parka and go out into the drizzle, whistling a hopeful tune to distract themselves from the unfortunate turn of events?”

    QN, you cannot be serious when you raise this question , can you? Don’t you think that citizens have an obligation to make sure that these rascals/clowns are performing their sworn duties? Shouldn’t we act as if this stalemate affects us? Aren’t the representatives expected to serve the interests of the governed?….

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 22, 2009, 11:11 am
  4. Ghassan,

    I was being facetious.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 22, 2009, 11:53 am
  5. I think most Lebanese have their indifferent faces firmly on. Even those politically active don’t seem to be that interested. No one seems to give a shit if the weatherman says its raining…

    Posted by Deen Sharp | October 22, 2009, 12:24 pm
  6. As if once the government is formed all Lebanon’s ills will go away and the sun will shine
    In my irrelevant humble opinion it’s always cloudy and miserable in Lebanon

    And Ghassan if I may add you are the perpetual idealist man… these are the Lebanese “Sheeple” we are talking about do you think they will ever hold their tormentors accountable?
    Not in this lifetime

    Posted by V | October 22, 2009, 12:29 pm
  7. 1. Is Aoun being manipulated or influenced by someone?

    2. Could it be that the opposition will just reject any offer that worsens their position relative to the caretaker government? Hariri wants to manifest his majority and ameliorate his position in the government either in numbers or portfolios. Could it be that the opposition will not accept anything less than what they currently have thus making the election irrelevant? This is compatible with the way Aoun is acting.

    Posted by AIG | October 22, 2009, 12:55 pm
  8. V,
    I don’t expect the Lebanese “sheeple” to change anytime soon but the apathy and total inactivity is no less than a “scarlet letter” that we wear with pride. How , for the love of God or whatever you believe in, do we have the right to complain about an outcome and yet we refuse to make any effort to change it. The Lebanese “citizen” must be one of the least deserving of a responsible government of any people in the world but the sad thing is that we do not know it. We love to pretend that we are modern, educated, well informed, responsible and democratic when in fact we are just the opposite of each of the above. Healing starts by accepting reality and stopping the denial. A people get the government that they deserve.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 22, 2009, 4:33 pm
  9. Ghassan, it is a little bit utopic to think we can do something, I know it happened in some places in the world, but in Lebanon, everything you think you are doing something you end up crushed. I know many good persons out there who want to make change, and unfortunately the Lebanese citizens themselves do not listen to those good people unless they are affiliated with a certain political party. And vicious circle of course, you affiliate yourself with a political party thinking it’s only a way to actually get your message through to the people, but you notice your message is different from the party you belong to, you either get oppressed or you either go with the flow.

    So the apathy / pride attitude is nothing but a defensive mechanism, a shield we put on.

    If we want to demonstrate for labor or for high gas prices we are immediately cast away as X party, but we just want to do it because we are citizens who live in Lebanon who are suffering from a certain subject, and thus finally it’s a battle between the big chickens and not us!

    Ya3ne we know what you’re saying, most educated, well informed, responsible men and women out there do know it. But let’s talk on the ground, what do you think we can do that might actually have a good impact on this governmentless and sometimes presidentless country?

    Posted by Liliane | October 23, 2009, 3:13 am
  10. QN,
    Instead of “Politics, in other words, is like the weather”, try this: “Politics, in other words, is like a day in the kindergarten.”

    Look at this statement:
    “Opposition Holds Geagea Responsible for Provoking Aoun”

    – “Why did you push him?”
    – “He pushed me first”
    – “No he hit me first”

    Or this one:
    “Berri: Satisfy Aoun with Portfolios of Your Own Share, Not Others Share”

    “No, I want share my pencils with Micho. Let him have yours.”

    It’s pointless to expect anything from the Lebanese politicians. All these months the childish bickering is just for entertainment. The real Lebanese politics is not in Lebanon.

    Posted by XP | October 23, 2009, 4:54 am
  11. Isn’t obvious by now to even the feeble minded that this political class of ours needs to be thrown to the wolves ? Isn’t also obvious that the Cedar revolution has died ( a short while after birth)mainly because of lack of b..ls on the M14 camp and the apathy of the Lebanese?
    And still some people rejoiced when Lebanon got his non permanent seat in the UN, sorry but to be filled by whom???

    Liliane: Many people will not only listen, will also admit that it is time for drastic change, and most are sick and tired of ALL political parties,; but once the discussion/evening is over they go back to their respective lives. The Lebanese are too lazy to do something to change their condition, they rather nagg.
    R.I.P Lebanon

    Posted by Marillionlb | October 23, 2009, 5:52 am
  12. Other than the clowns who make up or follow M14, since when do reasonable Lebanese take the Daily Star seriously.

    Kouchner: Only Lebanon to blame for cabinet delay
    French official says syria not responsible
    By Elias Sakr
    Daily Star staff
    Saturday, October 24, 2009

    Paragraph 16:

    “Following his meeting with Aoun and Hizbullah’s delegation, Kouchner said he did not find that any obstacles were hampering the cabinet formation.”

    Paragraph 18:

    “Kouchner’s visit to Beirut followed weakened hope with regard to the formation of a cabinet soon after Aoun escalated his position when he demanded on Wednesday that his Reform and Change bloc be granted six ministries rather than five including the Telecommunications Ministry – being handled by his movement in the current caretaker cabinet.”

    If this was a proper newspaper the writer would be relegated to the obituaries section (though his personal opinion may even cloud his writing here too)
    Who do we take seriously: the French Foreign Minister or M14 hangers-on who weren’t present at any of the meetings between Aoun and Hariri but (typically Lebanese) want to pretend they’re more important than they really are?

    Posted by GG | October 24, 2009, 3:50 pm


  1. Pingback: News in Brief: 23 October 2009 « Nima Maleki: Politics and Critical Thought - October 23, 2009

  2. Pingback: Forecast: Partly Smoky With a Chance of Cabinet « Qifa Nabki - November 2, 2009

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