Lebanon

The Ironies of History

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri visits Damascus to pay his condolences to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad upon the death of the latter’s brother, after nearly five years since the assassination of the former’s father, widely blamed on the latter, to whose own father he has now, suddenly, developed an uncanny physical resemblance.

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18 thoughts on “The Ironies of History

  1. well this is not without precedent. we had Walid beik meeting Hafiz Al Assad after the latter was blamed for the assassination of the former’s father. The only difference is this assassination is of a higher profiled figure but with less certainty of who’s the culprit.

    Posted by Innocent Criminal | December 20, 2009, 10:32 am
  2. 5 years of sloganeering and bravado for what? Abdallah of Riyadh said “jump” and saad hariri jumped.

    Posted by F | December 20, 2009, 10:39 am
  3. F,

    I think its a little unfair to say that. Hariri tried to have his cake and eat it, hell even Saudi tried but at the end of the day they couldn’t push Damascus over the edge. Saad finally had to choose between his family’s, country’s, KSA’s and region’s interest vs. his personal grudges about his father’s murder. Well it doesn’t take a genius to guess why he chose the former.

    Posted by Innocent Criminal | December 20, 2009, 11:12 am
  4. @Innocent Criminal: you’re right and Walid looks even more like Kamal, than Saad does to Rafik!

    And I hate to say this but, this case of history repeating itself, is sad. Or is it funny? It’s not quite as good as groundhog day…

    Posted by Joujolie | December 20, 2009, 12:55 pm
  5. Qifa, for what it’s worth, I got it. Well played.

    Posted by Pierre Bou Raed | December 20, 2009, 1:33 pm
  6. I am fine with Hariri’s visit, this move is a must that will have a positive impact on the country (the country’s security that is).

    But lets not forget that there should always be a plan to remove the baath regime. They for sure will not hesitate in the future to kill any of our “liberal” leaders that would stand in their way.

    Posted by Hussien | December 20, 2009, 2:06 pm
  7. “Barzini is dead. So is Phillip Tattallgia. Moe Green. Slacci. Cuneo… Today I settled all family business ” 🙂

    Posted by V | December 20, 2009, 3:47 pm
  8. Innocent Criminal,
    There are huge differences between the Jumblatt case and Hariri’s. Kamal Jumblatt’s assassination did cause a massive political realignment in the body politic, which threatened to reignite the civil war. Walid Jumblatt took the decision very early on to go under Syria’s wing after his father was killed. Sa’ad, on the other hand, took a stand, vowing to bring the killers to justice. His cohorts inflamed the whole population against Syria and anyone associated with Syria.

    What has happened? Did the Syrian regime change? Did it apologise? Are they no longer suspect? Anyone who has accused Syria for the past 5 years cannot simply turn around and say: ‘we reconcile for the good of the country’. If the Syrian regime was assassinating our politicians, subverting our government, and terrorising the populace, how can turning a blind eye be good for the country? You’re just asking for them to do it again.

    Unless, of course, the accusers where not so serious about their accusations, and were simply cashing in on a political opportunity. Now that the opportunity has expired, a new political discourse is in order.

    I wonder if M14 pundits would be so supportive if Nasrallah flew over to Tel Aviv to kiss and make up with Netnenyahu ‘in the country’s interest’.

    Posted by RedLeb | December 20, 2009, 4:50 pm
  9. I have this burning question. How come the Lebanese politicians of all stripes go to Damascus to meet with Bashar or in the past Hafez, but never the other way around? I don’t recall that either of them visited Beirut or B3abda.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | December 20, 2009, 4:58 pm
  10. Ras Beirut,
    Well Hafez was arrested when he first entered Lebanon when he was still in the army. There were restrictions on Syrian army personnel entering the country at the time. After being evicted from Lebanon, he vowed never to set foot in it again. That’s the legend anyway.

    Bashar did in fact visit shortly after becoming President. So that taboo was broken.

    But generally, Lebanon is the junior partner in the relationship, so the ass kissing tends to be in only one direction.

    Posted by RedLeb | December 20, 2009, 5:22 pm
  11. Hussien:
    Explain “liberal” leader in the Lebanese context. Are: fascist Leb-forces ‘liberal’? is ‘socialist’ Jumblatt a ‘liberal’? are the plethora of salafi factions allied with the Future, ‘liberals’?
    Curious minds want know!

    Ras Beirut:
    Bashar visited Baabda & Beirut more than once. But your question is still good. … My answer:It’s the nature of the beast & the mouse!

    Posted by F | December 20, 2009, 5:25 pm
  12. Ras Beirut, Redleb, F;
    A senior-junior relationship does not have to be a one way street, at least not in the public. Witness the US- Canada relationship where it has become almost a tradition for the newly elected US president to make his first trip to Canada.

    I do not judge this trip or any other trips for that matter in “personal terms” Syria might have planned and yet it might not have planned the explosion that took the life of Rafic Hariri. We should let the courts decide that issue and a responsible government must not be preoccupied with this issue to the exclusion of doing the peoples’ business. I expect politicians to be able to chew and walk a straight line too. Unfortunately our politicians have failed this simple sobriety test:-) They have been so obsessed with the tribunal issue at the expense of governing . I do not see the benefit of all these larger than life posters of Mr. Hariri or even his portraits as a partner to each discussion. The cult of personality worship is so twentieth century . There ought to be no room for it in a modern democracy.( oops , am I implying that Lebanon is a modern democracy?)

    Posted by ghassan karam | December 20, 2009, 6:08 pm
  13. V,
    I do not think that the current PM has the backbone to repeat the quote in your post and even if he did he would never have the courage to finish the sentence which you decided not to quote in full: “Barzini is dead. So is Phillip Tattallgia. Moe Green. Slacci. Cuneo. Today I settled all family business so don’t tell me that you’re innocent.” Very apt, a hat tip to V.

    Posted by ghassan karam | December 20, 2009, 6:22 pm
  14. Regardless of whether the visit was official, dictated, a must….or any other label one might put upon it ; the smile on Bashar’s face extended from ear to ear(and big his are big ones I might add), was more than enough to make my stomach turn. Syria might have militarily left Lebanon; but 30 years of hegemony do not wash away that easily. The so called Cedar revolution and M14 have failed to keep up with the hope and aspirations of the “majority” of the Lebanese “sheeple”. I wonder if goatee Saad during his overnight stay was not visited by the ghosts of not only those allied politicians murdered by his host, but by the ghosts of those “simple” citizens who’s bodies are yet to be returned home to their loved ones for a dignified burial.

    Posted by marillionlb | December 20, 2009, 7:27 pm
  15. Redleb,

    You’re view would be more valid if all parties involved are on equal level, or even have morals (god forbid). My view is that in reality the strong imposes the will on the weak and that neither Lebanon nor Saad can do much other than appease the Syrian interests in lebanon… or else.

    Posted by Innocent Criminal | December 21, 2009, 1:48 am
  16. F,

    You are absolutely correct, that is why I put the word liberal in quotations. In my world if you compare anything to Hizbullah it looks liberal. But then again I prefer not to use the phrase “pro-western” because I find that expression incorrect as well.

    Let me rephrase the sentence correctly:
    “They for sure will not hesitate in the future to kill any of our leaders that would stand in their way.”

    Posted by Hussien | December 21, 2009, 2:45 pm
  17. For history only,
    If you killed my father and I went to court accusing you of the killing and times goes by, then for what’s so ever reason, I came to visit you for the good of the country, and I have chance to sit with you and listen to your views about everything included my father’s murder, then I got out of the meeting and went back to working and never made a statement releasing you from responsibility or shading a doubt about the culprit in killing, shouldn’t that mean acknowledgment of your guilt. KN, do you think Saad score a point in his visit to Damascus?

    Posted by trustquest | December 21, 2009, 6:50 pm
  18. Yeah, for sure it’s obscure to watch Hariri and Bashar shaking hands and indeed contradicting in the light of former accusations. However, portraying it as if Hariri is jumping on every order from Riyadh is – in some cases – probably true, but remember both Hariri and Bashar are jumping up and down the legs of others. A fact I believe the meeting between the two “gentlemen” was a clear proof of.

    Syria’s economy is in a terrible shape; the country is lacking natural resources, human capital and a qualified workforce. Its infrastructure is obsolete and add to that a financial crisis and a competitive global market. Never before has Syria been in more need of structural reforms – and for that they need Western help, but but but…nothing’s for free in this world, and Washington is testing Syrian goodwill. They need Syria’s help in dealing with Iraq, Abbas and Palestine and last but not least, stability in Lebanon. The meeting between Hariri and Bashar is a “showcase” in honour of the U.S. It probably won’t lead to further stability (but let’s hope so). And yes, getting back to the starting point, it seems ridiculous that Hariri shakes hand with, maybe, one of the architects behind his father’s murder. However, and that’s my point, Hariri is far from the only one jumping on others orders. Bashar is just as submissive, keen on strenghtening economic ties with the U.S. What will be interesting to follow is Syria’s act of balancing between Teheran and Washington.

    Posted by XXplhXX | December 27, 2009, 3:24 pm

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