Elections, Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah, Lebanon, March 14

Who Will Be Lebanon’s Next Prime Minister: Doing the Parliamentary Math

The above graph provides a visual representation of the current balance of power in the Lebanese Parliament. (Click for large PDF version)

Last Saturday, Lebanon’s As-Safir newspaper published an excellent analysis of the different possible scenarios that could lead to the nomination of a new Prime Minister. It sheds important light on the political math behind the question of who will lead Lebanon, now that Saad al-Hariri’s government has fallen. Download the As-Safir report here. (The above graph, produced by a friend of mine, puts the basic balance of power in visual context for all of you non-Arabic speakers.)

According to Article 53.2 of the Lebanese Constitution, the Prime Minister is appointed by the President of the Republic following binding consultations with Parliament. In other words, Parliament basically votes for the new Prime Minister, but does so via the back-room politicking of the “presidential consultations” ritual.

The solid parliamentary majority that March 14th won during the 2009 elections evaporated once Walid Jumblatt decided to forge his own path independent of his former allies. Today, Jumblatt is playing the role of kingmaker, which is one of the principal reasons he dropped out of March 14th in the first place. The question of who will be Lebanon’s next Prime Minister turns on Jumblatt’s decision to stick with Saad al-Hariri, betray him to the opposition, or abstain and let the MPs in his bloc make up their own minds about where to hang their hats.

Which brings us to the numbers game. As-Safir outlines four possible scenarios for how the various parliamentary blocs and independents might vote, once President Sleiman gets around to launching the consultation session:

  1. Status quo: March 14th’s 55 MPs are joined by Jumblatt’s bloc of 11 MPs plus 6 independents (Miqati, Safadi, Fattoush, etc.) leading to a majority of 71 to the opposition’s 57 votes. Result: Saad al-Hariri is re-appointed (71-57)
  2. Stalemate #1: Jumblatt’s bloc is split such that 4 MPs vote with March 14th, and 7 vote with March 8th, while the independents also vote for March 14th. Result: Deadlock in the Parliament (64-64).
  3. Stalemate #2: Two members of Jumblatt’s bloc vote with March 14th but the rest abstain along with all of the independents. Result: No majority for either side (57-57).
  4. March 8th prevails: Most of Jumblatt’s bloc and some of the independents vote with the opposition, while March 14th only attracts six additional votes. Result: March 8th names a new Prime Minister (67-61)

Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement have already declared that Hariri will not be their candidate, while Berri and Jumblatt have been more circumspect, preferring to find a way to re-nominate Hariri as part of a larger deal on Lebanon’s response to the Special Tribunal indictments. When push comes to shove, Berri will line up with his allies in the opposition, but Jumblatt is still wavering. This explains the Druze leader’s recent meetings with Bashar al-Assad as well as U.S. Ambassador Maura Connelly’s meetings with MPs like Nicola Fattoush: both sides are trying to pressure the independents to break for their allies.

This may sound over-optimistic, but as bleak as things look these days, the fact that politics in Lebanon still comes down to a matter of counting votes and persuading (read: intimidating?) MPs to vote one way or another strikes me as something to feel good about. Sort of.

UPDATE: 7:45 PM (Beirut time)

Saad al-Hariri just gave a televised address to the nation from his residence in Beirut. Here are the basic points:

  • I will not sacrifice the dignity of my family and my father’s memory just for the sake of politics (read: I’m not going to cut a deal on the STL)
  • I was willing to look for some kind of compromise in order to safeguard Lebanon’s stability, but the various foreign initiatives to reach this compromise were met by the opposition’s refusal to re-nominate me as Prime Minister (read: I’m not going to cut a deal on the STL)
  • We (i.e. March 14th) will go to the parliamentary consultations when President Sleiman launches them, and we will accept their outcome because we support the Constitution and not the politics of the street.

I have to say that I thought this was a surprisingly decent performance by Hariri. He put a positive spin on the possibility that he will not be nominated PM, and he also sent the message to his followers to shy away from any acts of civil disobedience that may result from the transfer of power.

If the opposition does succeed in mustering the votes necessary to bring Omar Karami into office (as is being reported now), then I would hope that Hariri would sit that government out and leave March 8th to face the music. A cult of consensus has poisoned the well of Lebanese governance for far too long, and I’m tired of hearing excuses  from this side or that about why nothing seems to get done.

More later…
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Discussion

352 thoughts on “Who Will Be Lebanon’s Next Prime Minister: Doing the Parliamentary Math

  1. Did you see the latest report about Jumblatt saying he is “forced” to back Omar Karami as PM?

    Posted by Blackstar | January 20, 2011, 12:08 pm
  2. I would break Jumblatt bloc like this:

    Walid Jumblatt – March 8
    Ghazi Aridi – March 8
    Akram Chouhayeb – March 8
    Henri Helou – March 14
    Fouad Saad – March 14
    Marwan Hmadeh – Unknown
    Elie Aoun – March 14
    Nehme Tohme – March 14
    Alaeddine Terro – March 14
    Wael Abou Faour – March 8
    Antoine Saad – March 14

    End Result: 4MPs confirmed with March 8
    6MPs with March 14
    Marwan Hmadeh vote can go either ways

    The only way Jumblatt can get all his MPs to be unified is to vote March 14.

    Also, the 4 ‘so called’ independents (Mikati + Safadi blocs) told Hariri they will vote neutral, but if their vote ended up to be the deal breaker, I would think they will vote March 14 or it will be the end of their political career coming from a city like Tripoli with majority of Sunnis supporting Hariri.

    Posted by Wael | January 20, 2011, 1:14 pm
  3. Let’s hope we won’t have to deal with new wave of political assassinations.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 20, 2011, 1:40 pm
  4. I love this graph! .. will keep it as a reference. Very colorful … lovely variance… looks much better than the communist party’s more uniform share of representatives during the days of the Soviet Union.

    Just watched Saad Hariri …. he will be his coalition’s next candidate for the job.

    Posted by Alex | January 20, 2011, 1:41 pm
  5. Although I doubt that the president will hold any consultation next week, unless there is a behind-the-seen-agreement on the following scenario:
    A consultation, which would result in stalemate scenarios, where neither camp is able to form a government.
    What would follow next is a continuous postponement of further consultation.
    Even if one camp gets, mercilessly enough votes, neither camp can (nor willing to) form a government.
    What would follow next is a continuous postponement of further consultation.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 20, 2011, 1:53 pm
  6. Strike last (repeated)sentence.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 20, 2011, 1:54 pm
  7. If you heard Hariri’s speech just now, you can conclude that he will use the parliamentary consultations as a face saving exit form heading the next government. Jumblat will vote with March 8 with Hariri’s blessings as well as the independents who will probably go neutral also with Hariri’s blessing. As mentioned by QN in his last post, a March 8 government that will withdraw support from the STL will not be able to thwart it or avoid damaging the public image of Hizballah when the indictments are handed down. Harriri will come back in 2013 and win the parliamentary elections much like his father did in 2000. In the meantime he wins the public sympathy and he will get the STL without him having to withdraw his support for it as was demanded by Hizballah.

    Posted by MM | January 20, 2011, 1:54 pm
  8. Ghassan and all…

    We’ve been hearing about “forks in the road” and “This is a turning point” for most of my entire life. Even longer.

    What makes you think that this time it’s for real?

    I’ve already stated I am pessimistic that this is any more than the usual “lather, rinse, repeat” with new names or slogans slapped on top. But I get the sense that some of you feel like “this time it’s different”. Care to clarify why?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 2:10 pm
  9. I can’t imagine M8 forming a government on their own. It does not play into their agenda in any kind of way. Indefinite postponement and a power vacuum is a lot more likely, imo.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 2:12 pm
  10. There is another possible fly in the ointment when it comes to vote counting. Those who might decide that it is best for them not to nominate a PM will probably feel less pressure in voting for the cabinet once its formed. (Most the the Tripolitan four could stand on the side in the consultation but will find it easier to cast a vote in favour of a Hariri led cabinet in the Parliament.

    BV,
    The opportunities to come to the brink and then withdraw are not endless. It would be fair to assume that this time the pressure to stop running on a tread mill is greater than it has ever been. Does that mean that a decision will be made to go one way or another? No guarantees:-)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 20, 2011, 2:24 pm
  11. Well, if ANY nation has shown its ability to perpetual balance near the brink, it’s Lebanon.
    Having said that, if those opportunities are indeed not endless, my bet would be on falling off the brink and into the abyss. Seems the more likely outcome.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 2:29 pm
  12. The critical vote is that of Mufti Qabbani. Mark my words. If he backs Hariri as the Sunni representative; it will be impossible for the Tripoli multi billionaires club to stay neutral!

    As for WJ; who cares?
    There are two alternatives:
    1. It seems that a cabinet could be patched together just to annul the existing agreements and resign. M8 get what they want and Hariri can say he never agreed.

    2. Void and conflict for a long time…

    I’d go with #1

    Posted by danny | January 20, 2011, 2:50 pm
  13. I predict #2.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 2:52 pm
  14. If Hariri knows what’s good for him he’d follow MM’s suggestion #7.

    On another note, just read QN’s review of Young’s book. Excellent analysis there.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 20, 2011, 2:55 pm
  15. …and let all remember that this time HA is fighting not only for its reputation but its existence as is. If convicted(it’s members) there’s no way the HA can run roughshod and stay divine! Either way I think your favorite orator could be the scapegoat!!

    Posted by danny | January 20, 2011, 3:06 pm
  16. Latest news is that Jumblat “made up”(if that is possible) his mind to go all the way with opposition.Does that mean splitting votes to reach a stalemate,which would allow for the political vacuum scenario be the most likely one? No winners and no losers for now,and another round of political intervention from “friends and brothers”?

    Posted by The Prophet | January 20, 2011, 3:08 pm
  17. I just can’t see Berri nominate Karami and violate the principal that someone with little political support cannot be nominated by other sects to a position guaranteed for that sect. It would be tantamount to suicide on his part.

    In the same vein, Hezbollah and Amal cannot afford not to have FM in the coalition. What happens if Hariri wins the next election? They cannot afford to legitimate a non-consensual democracy. They are therefore just bluffing and Hariri is calling their bluff. There is zero chance he will not be part of the next government.

    Posted by AIG | January 20, 2011, 3:12 pm
  18. I will be surprised if March 14 participates in the government if Hariri is not named PM. And yes, Berri can kiss the Parliament Speaker position goodbye in 2013.

    Posted by MM | January 20, 2011, 3:56 pm
  19. Are we witnessing the following configuration unfolding…

    March 8th prevails: Most of Jumblatt’s bloc and some of the independents vote with the opposition, while March 14th only attracts six additional votes. Result: March 8th names a new Prime Minister (67-61)

    “Aridi went to Damascus to inform Assad Jumblat’s readiness to support whatever the opposition decides….”

    Posted by CK | January 20, 2011, 3:58 pm
  20. Could Jumblatt really afford to go head to head with Damascus and HA again, after the humiliation he had to go through last time to get back in favor? I guess he might be playing hard to get, but in the end …

    Posted by aron | January 20, 2011, 4:06 pm
  21. Very interesting debate on Kalam El Nass.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 20, 2011, 4:10 pm
  22. FPM believe there is a Saudi-Wahabi plot to topple the Syrian regime through the false witness issue to implement Sunni governance there and in Lebanon.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 20, 2011, 4:19 pm
  23. It seems that everyone will need to hold his/her breath until noon time Friday,when Jumblat is supposed to hold a press conference and tell the world what and who He will vote for.
    Jumblat is the king maker.
    My guess is that He will say that the Druze PMs will vote with him to the opposition,and He give the others “the freedom” to choose Hariri

    Posted by The Prophet | January 20, 2011, 4:24 pm
  24. Last sentence should have said:
    My guess is that He will say that the Druze PMs will vote with him for (instead of to)the opposition,and He give the others “the freedom” to choose Hariri.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 20, 2011, 4:35 pm
  25. The real clash of civilizations is knocking Lebanon’s door.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 20, 2011, 4:46 pm
  26. A Wahabi plot to topple the Damascus regime?
    Man, those FPM guys sure know how to concoct conspiracies, don’t they…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 5:00 pm
  27. Poor Lebanon, so many problems already, and some technocrats in the netherlands and the US, and some lousy canadians, are messing with it more. Can’t they mind their own business?

    It’s sad to see a country who’s already under grave danger next to the regional thug (the Zionist Regime) being messed with and annoyed by some white technocrats.

    Leave Lebanon Alone!! Bellemare go back to Canada!

    Posted by Tunisian | January 20, 2011, 5:01 pm
  28. Hi everyone,

    A few notes:

    1) What I’m hearing is that Jumblatt can only guarantee 4-5 MPs from his bloc voting for the opposition. So I think that Wael #2’s math is more or less correct. The question is: will the remaining members of the bloc go with Hariri or abstain? The pressure may soon shift away from Jumblatt and onto those members of his bloc who, along with the other “independents”, will make the critical difference.

    2) AIG, your points are well-taken, but I don’t see how Berri can avoid nominating Karami or someone besides Hariri now that Nasrallah has effectively thrown down the gauntlet. It’s one thing for Aoun and Berri to disagree; splitting the Shiite vote is anathema. Berri will go where Nasrallah goes, even if it sets a dangeous precedent.

    3) I agree with MM that Hariri’s looking ahead to 2013 and calculating that he will try to win back the Parliament then. The problem for him is that a March 8 cabinet will be in charge for the next two and a half years, which is plenty of time for them to re-shape the electoral law to their liking such that they have a stronger chance of consolidating their parliamentary majority.

    Who wouldn’t be sympathetic to the argument that the current electoral law needs to be revamped, given that it handed a parliamentary majority to M14 in 2009 despite them losing the popular vote by a FULL 10%?! March 8th is going to have a very reasonable argument, in this respect, which they could use to spearhead the kind of electoral reform that guarantees a strong performance for them in 2013.

    Will try to post on this soon enough…

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 20, 2011, 5:06 pm
  29. According to Aoun the survival of Christians in Lebanon depends on the destruction of Zionist American Christians in the US.

    Or something along these lines.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 20, 2011, 5:30 pm
  30. QN,

    In my opinion there is no chance whatsoever that the opposition will rule Lebanon alone. It is in no one’s interest. The opposition cannot afford a Lebanon alienated from the West or from the Sunnis in Lebanon. Hariri is not going to let others piss in his pool. This smells like stalemate.

    Posted by AIG | January 20, 2011, 5:31 pm
  31. QN:

    Given the behavior of HA, I would suspect that even with a chance to reform electoral law, we will see many people who are currently in the Opposition block shift their positions towards M14.

    If the IPI statistics are correct, and 60% of the population are in favor of the STL, I don’t see how HN can spin the issue.

    In that sense, (especially if the STL reports are damning), I think MM’s scenario would be Hariri’s best bet.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 20, 2011, 5:32 pm
  32. QN,

    We had this conversation before. WJ cannot promise the whole Gathering will vote with him. Even Hamadeh of PSP will go with Hariri. I mentioned and we discussed this in prior posts that Hariri will have a lock on the PM-ship as WJ will take his three MPs with him.
    Again the game changer is the announcement of Mufti Qabbani. If he states that Harriri is the candidate of the Sunnis then all bets are off any other RESPECTABLE Sunni accepting the post.BTW remind me who was PM when Hariri was assassinated?

    Posted by danny | January 20, 2011, 5:39 pm
  33. Danny

    You were right about Jumblatt’s bloc; good analysis. Let’s see how it all plays out.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 20, 2011, 5:43 pm
  34. QN @28.

    You’re assuming M8 will be in power for the next 2 years. As opposed to a paralyzed vacuum, which is the more likely option.

    I agree with AIG #30. It is not in the interests of M8 to be in power by themselves. They’d much rather have no government. An M8 government is simply NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 5:47 pm
  35. The biggest problem for the FPM seems to be the price Lebanon pays to keep our streets and country clean.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 20, 2011, 5:48 pm
  36. I understand the Mufti Kabbani angle Danny. But what if he doesn’t say anything? After all, he hasn’t really had a history of stepping up and saying “So and so is the candidate for the sunnis.”

    More than likely, if he opens his mouth, it will be to regurgitate some kind of boilerplate “We support compromise and cohabitation…” claptrap.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 5:49 pm
  37. QN,
    “Who wouldn’t be sympathetic to the argument that the current electoral law needs to be revamped, given that it handed a parliamentary majority to M14 in 2009 despite them losing the popular vote by a FULL 10%?! March 8th is going to have a very reasonable argument, in this respect, which they could use to spearhead the kind of electoral reform that guarantees a strong performance for them in 2013. ”

    You are right that if one is to add all the votes cast for each candidate then the opposition had more votes but less seats.
    But this will be next to impossible to remedy as long as the current constitution specifies that the Chamber is to be split 50% Christians and 50% Moslems and furthermore that the candidates with each area to be proportional. What that means is that each Shia district will by law have more votes, many more votes, per candidate than Christian area. As long as Hezbollah and its allies have practically all the shia districts then they will always have more votes. That is an inequality that cannot be remedied unless one is to deconfessionalise the allocation of seats. It is built into the cake.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 20, 2011, 5:53 pm
  38. QN,28
    You are being too optimistic in believing that an election will be help in 2013, and in forecasting the result of that election.
    I don’t share your optimism that a government can be formed by either camp any time soon ,so that the country can hold any election.
    The collapse of the government is a sign that the whole political system is so rotten, and that it has totally stopped functioning.
    All institutions will start breaking down soon. The only institution that might be able to keep the country intact is the Army. The possibility of an interim- military government is not far fetched. Things are much more dangerous than we like to admit.

    Last week everyone was talking about the SS and the STL, Now the discussion has shifted to whether the country can form a government and behave as a functioning state or not.

    Both Teif and Doha pacts have failed. The Saudi position, voiced by the foreign mister put the last nail in the Taief agreement.
    Another temporary fix (some agreement named after some city) may not work anymore. I’m afraid things might get much worse before it gets any better.
    I will try to draw optimism from you and other posters.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 20, 2011, 6:03 pm
  39. The era of impunity in Lebanon will come to an end. Hariri Jr. did the honorable thing. The Syrian regime, Iran, and HA will reform or pay the price. Remember Saddam. Enough with hollow rhetoric. Enough with blaming everything on Israel and on the Great Satan. Subversion and hollow pretenses can only go so far. Even with lunatics like Michel Aoun kowtowing and prostituting themselves. Those who root for Hamas and HA and the Iranian and Syrian regimes deserve to go live within those societies if not always there. If you live in the bosom of a real democracy and are benefiting from its liberties cut the damned hypocrisy and affirm the light. Lux et Veritas.

    The real enemies of the Palestinians are those who prevent a fair settlement and incite impossile dreams based on hatred. The only interest they serve are their twisted chimeras.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 20, 2011, 6:08 pm
  40. The following is a hypothetical example of the math involved:

    Total vote in Lebanon: 3 million made up of the following
    1,200,000 Shia
    900,000 Sunn
    900,000 Christians

    The Chamber seats are allocated by law as such:
    32 Shia
    32 Sunni
    64 Christian

    Assume that opposition wins all Shia districts , 3 Sunni seats and 26 Christian seats for a total of 61 seats.

    The M14 would have won 67 seats but the potential votes represented by each group would be the following:

    Opposition: 1,650,000
    M14…….: 1,350,000

    In percentage terms the opposition would have 55% of the total votes cast but only 61 seats.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 20, 2011, 6:14 pm
  41. BV,

    Qabbani was very vociferous in defence of Saniora government when they were threatened to be overthrown by the HA.
    Again, IF Qabbani does not draw the line in the sand and declare hariri as THE candidate it means that the deal has been struck as I mentioned in #12.
    Choice #1 would be a fact.

    Posted by danny | January 20, 2011, 6:28 pm
  42. A variation of the US presidential electoral system intended originally to protect minorities?
    Does that scenario represent a fair way to address the protection of the Christian minority or should it be scrapped completely for a 1-man 1-vote system without constraints and without confessional quotas?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 20, 2011, 6:29 pm
  43. HP,
    Obviously it should be scrapped in favour of a total non sectarian system. But remember what happened last year when Beri introduced the idea . No one was willing even to discuss it. The tribes do not trust each other and so the current system should be scrapped but accompanied with a well organized educational campaign.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 20, 2011, 6:37 pm
  44. Danny,

    Qabbani speaking to defend the govt of Saniora is one thing. Endorsing a candidate is another.

    Honest Patriot,
    1 man, 1 vote. There is no question in my mind.

    1) It is the right thing to do, period. Anything else is essentially discriminatory, no matter how you try and spin it. In this era, declaring that a white man’s vote is worth twice that of a black man, or whatever else along those lines is unacceptable. These aren’t the middle ages.

    2) Aside from it being fair and right, it is, in the long run, the only way to protect the Christians and other minorities. One man, one vote is democratic and takes away the sectarian rationale. The day a buddhist, atheist, black, gay woman can be elected president of Lebanon by law will demonstrate to Christians (and any other minorities) that there’s no downside in being a minority and that their rights are protected.
    As long as sectarian quotas are in place, no matter the rationale behind it, there will ALWAYS be fears from minorities.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 6:42 pm
  45. GK, I agree but it’s fair question to ask how one protects the minorities in a society and a region where oppression by the majority is a real possibility. It might be condescending or bigoted to suggest that the region/area – at least in the state of Lebanon – may not have the requisite maturity to ensure such protection without some constraints or laws safeguarding it. I clearly do not know the answer but I do think it’s a fair question.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 20, 2011, 6:44 pm
  46. PS – I haven’t forgotten your email question about Physics theories. Not sure I know the answer! More of a condensed matter / solid state physics / electronic devices specialist and a lot less of an elementary particle and grand unified theories practitioner 🙂

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 20, 2011, 6:47 pm
  47. Danny, I also think the same way, in principle. But see my concern/reservation in #45, which should have also been addressed to you.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 20, 2011, 6:49 pm
  48. HP,

    There is a very simple way of protecting minorities in a democracy. It is implicit in the system.
    Of course, it requires abidance by the rule of law and constitution. Something which is lacking in Lebanon.
    But if you model the system after the US, let’s say, for sake of argument. Minorities are protected in the US by virtue of the constitution that explicitly state that certain rights cannot be taken away, even if the majority votes to do so.
    That has always been the way demcoracy works.

    Something that most everyday Joes in the middle east don’t understand about democracy is that it doesn’t only mean “Free elections”. That is only one part of the equation. The pillar of democracy is actually an egalitarian constitution that protects certain inalienable rights. And once such rights are protected, even a majority of 99% cannot abolish them.
    In other words the constitution trumps the vote of the majority.
    For instance, in the US, even if 90% of the electorate were to vote that free speech should be banned, such a law would be unconstitutional and would be struck down by the supreme court as such.
    I use a simplified example, but I hope I am being clear: A strong, well-written constitution is the only and true guarantor of minorities’ rights in any system.
    Quotas and the such have the exact opposite effect as they bring in the notion of demographics and inequality in rights as demonstrated by the math above.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 6:57 pm
  49. Sometimes, reading some views here, I think I’m living in La-La land.

    BV:

    Here’s a list of amendments to the US constitution:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_amendments_to_the_United_States_Constitution

    Some seem rather sensible, like Suffrage, some a little absurd (abolition, non-abolition).

    For instance, in the US, even if 90% of the electorate were to vote that free speech should be banned, such a law would be unconstitutional and would be struck down by the supreme court as such.

    Believe you me, if 90% of Americans want to abolish/limit free speech, a mechanism exists to allow them to do so. (Constitutional Change).

    Charters/Constitutions may certainly be a way of affirming rights, and while they may not entirely be “democractic” from a numbers perspective, they are certainly alterable. What makes them difficult to change are the hoops and other checks and balances that are enforced.

    But be under no illusion. Your example above is fundamentally flawed.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 20, 2011, 7:26 pm
  50. BV,
    You well know that I am extremely passionate about secular systems( I have even waged and financed an internet campaign promoting Walid Jumblatt for President without his permission) But HP has a strong point. For a secular system to work you need people who are ready for it in the same way thatto set up a parliament that is expected to function democratically it is not enough to offer the franchise. This might sound elitist but I do believe that we need to prepare the ground work as much as we can through educational campaigns and a serious national dialogue say over a period of maybe even a year after which we should just jump in . As you suggested a well functioning system will protect the rights of all and so this needs not be a concern. Would a fundamental Maronite cast a vote for a well qualified druz? maybe not during the first non sectarian election but I think that eventually we will cast a vote for the best qualified. But in order to make this acceptable we must simultaneously scrap the tacit understanding about the faith of the three presidencies. I do not see how any Maronite can argue that the Maronite gained when Lahoud, Suleiman,Charles Helou or even Frangieh were in office. Was the country better run when Hoss, Karami or even Hariri wer PM’s and did they specifically advance the welfare of the Sunnis? If they did then how does one explain that the Sunnis have become the poorest in Lebanon?It is a bit more difficult to argue aginst the benfit to the Shia under Beri. He has managed to allocate more funds to the south and the residents of Southern Lebanon, both moslems and Christians have benefited from the government largesse.
    One more detail, if deconfessionalism is to succeed then the people of the cloth must leave to cesar what is to Cesar… Is that acceptable among the new imams that subscribe to the Wilayet al Faqih?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 20, 2011, 7:31 pm
  51. HP,
    Don’t worry about my quantum physics querries. At best I am an amateur in the field who is awed by tremendous advances in physics and by the enormity of the questions that are raised:-)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 20, 2011, 7:36 pm
  52. Ghassan,
    A Good start would be;
    1- To require all political parties to be secular and not to be a Un-religion party. In other word, parties that only consist of one sect or one religion should be banned. I don’t know of a percentage of a religion /sect is the right answer, but a formula has to be found so that political parties are more of national political parties then sec/religion party.
    2- Shut down all media outlets that are religion oriented, and are involved in politics. Media outlets that are owned/run by religious institutions will have the right to exist ,as long as they stick what they are supposed to do, religious education/services to their own followers .No politics non what so ever.
    3- Prohibit all religious figures from getting involved in politics all together.
    4- Major educational campaign to educate the public, and get them ready for such changes.
    5-Total separation of state and religious institutions.
    6- I would still prefer a Christian president ( with more authority) ,elected directly by the public,in order to give Christians social security that they won’t be over run by a large Shiia or Sunni vote.
    7- Recognize non believers as a legitimate group, call it atheism or something else.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 20, 2011, 7:50 pm
  53. You and I are in agreement there Ghassan.

    I think my point was that the no.1 guarantor of minority rights is NOT some kind of explicit “protection” scheme (such as quotas) but rather quite the opposite: Complete equality and desegregation. That notion seems counter-intuitive to most Christians (look no further than Boutros Harb).

    I agree with you that the populace must be mature enough to be entrusted with such a responsibility. And clearly, the Lebanese are not quite there. But in my opinion, they never will be. There is no time like the present. Waiting to introduce secularization until people are ready for it will take too long. Let them learn by example. Make it so now. They’ll fight it at first. And yes, in the first and second election, they’ll still vote along sectarian lines, but they’ll eventually figure it out.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 7:50 pm
  54. Prophet 52 proves my point.

    No matter how “progressive” the Lebanese sound (all of Prophet’s other points sound fine), they still manage to get this in:

    “6- I would still prefer a Christian president ( with more authority) ,elected directly by the public,in order to give Christians social security that they won’t be over run by a large Shiia or Sunni vote.”

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 7:52 pm
  55. BV,

    All we have to do is wait another 12 hours to chose door #1 or 2.

    HP,

    Dude I will elect you as President with all the powers as far as you forget thet religions and races exist . 😀

    Posted by danny | January 20, 2011, 7:59 pm
  56. Gabriel
    I do not want to digress from Lebanon but as you well know the first 10 amendments of the US constitution were enacted as a package only 3 years after the constitution was adopted. Since then it has become very difficult to pass another amendment since the process does require 3/4 of the states to approve the proposed amendment. To get 38 states to hold constitutional conventions is very difficult, the ERA is the best example to illustrate the difficulty.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 20, 2011, 8:01 pm
  57. BV,
    I knew I’d get heat over this point.lol
    But I was being realistic here. Christianity is under attack in the middle least; Christians are leaving to Europe and the Americas ,and there is a fear among Lebanese Christians that in a totally secular system, they might lose their voice.
    Lebanon is the only country in the area that has a Christian president,I have no issue with this personally.
    The well fair of Christians of Lebanon is very crucial to preserving Christianity in the middle east .

    Posted by The Prophet | January 20, 2011, 8:01 pm
  58. Prophet,

    I know all that. And I’ll keep repeating till I’m blue in the face that the only way to preserve Christians in the ME is to secularize completely.
    I will continue repeating that introducing any kind of artificial “protection” (like the one you suggest) will have the exact opposite effect than what you’re looking for. It will hasten the demise of the Christians and any other minorities.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 8:06 pm
  59. GK:

    That’s my point.

    Those are the hoops that are predefined within the system that makes it difficult to change.

    But if 90% of the American population felt strongly about something, I don’t think it would be hard to see that 3/4 of the states would likely adopt the change.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 20, 2011, 8:08 pm
  60. Ya Nabi.

    Phew. Damn. I’d be recognized in your Republic! Woo Hoo

    Posted by Gabriel | January 20, 2011, 8:09 pm
  61. SHSHSH Gabie, don’t spell th e beens yet,lol

    BV 58,
    We are talking about a transitional period .
    This is not what I hear from Lebanese Christians, most of them do fear a totally secular system, especially when they look at different Lebanese TV stations.
    If we can get the Lebanese society to accept half of what I suggested, we’d be making great progress.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 20, 2011, 8:16 pm
  62. Gabriel,

    I disagree.

    The Christians in Lebanon are 30% (let’s say, give or take).
    Blacks in the USA are a much smaller minority (10% or so, I believe), yet the USA has just elected a black president.
    Gays and Lesbians are an even smaller percentagewise, and have been taboo’d out of society by a vast majority of the populace for the larger part of the history of the USA. Yet they are protected under the constitution.

    I’m not saying that system is perfect. No system is.

    But my point is, if communities that are much smaller, on a percentage basis, than 30% can thrive and be protected by the US constitution, then clearly, the Christians of Lebanon can too, by something similar.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 8:17 pm
  63. Prophet,

    I know what Lebanese christians FEAR. I’m not arguing that. I’m just telling you they are WRONG. It’s a counterintuitive logic, so most people get it wrong. Protectionism (be it sectarian or economical) is almost ALWAYS detrimental to a society. Even if it sounds like the right idea to most.

    Show me ONE society in history that has prospered by closing up on itself, even for a “temporary” period. Honest question. If you can give me one such example…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 8:20 pm
  64. I think one point is not clear to me, what kind of democracy are you talking about? because the one I know implies in freedom of religion. Advanced democracies separates State from religion (it becomes a personal issue). So why this talking about religion minorities in post sectarian Lebanon?, it doesn’t make sense, actually it is quiet paradoxical. Along with democracy should come meritocracy.

    Posted by Alberto Zeraik | January 20, 2011, 8:21 pm
  65. Bravo Alberto. Precisely.

    But people are so scared that a majority of Shia might get together and decide to pass a law that says “All Christians must give away their land to us” or somesuch, and that since they are a majority, they can pass such a law.
    It’s a pretty ridiculous fear.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 8:25 pm
  66. BV,
    I’m in agreement with you as far as the united states,and the way minorities are protected by the constitution and the laws of the land.
    But We’re talking about the middle east with all of its complications. Everyone has monopoly on God there, and refuse to even share him.lol
    You can’t compare Christians in Lebanon , to African Americans in the unite states.
    In order to make that comparison, we first need to develop our society on many levels.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 20, 2011, 8:27 pm
  67. The Christians in Lebanon are 30% (let’s say, give or take).
    Blacks in the USA are a much smaller minority (10% or so, I believe), yet the USA has just elected a black president.

    I don’t know exactly what you’re disagreeing with, or the relevance of this example. There is nothing in the constituion that prohibits a black person from being a President.

    And I hardly think that 90% of Americans are opposed to the fact.

    Gays and Lesbians are an even smaller percentagewise, and have been taboo’d out of society by a vast majority of the populace for the larger part of the history of the USA. Yet they are protected under the constitution.

    Just barely did the Americans manage to repeal DADT. And you have wisecracks like Anne Coulter linking DADT to Wikileaks.

    Then on top of that, in perhaps one of the most “liberal” States, Californians supported Proposition 8.

    I don’t know what you mean by “protected”.

    But my point is, if communities that are much smaller, on a percentage basis, than 30% can thrive and be protected by the US constitution, then clearly, the Christians of Lebanon can too, by something similar.

    Since I share your “political” views, I won’t disagree with this point. That said, the issue is far more complex than that. Especially when you throw in the “constitutional” argument.

    Issues such as Freedom of/from Religion and that of Speech which we take for granted will invariably hit a huge roadblock in the Arab and broader Muslim world. And I cannot imagine (in its current state), any Arab country to come up with any constitution that would not pay undue homage to religious sensibilities, etc.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 20, 2011, 8:40 pm
  68. Prophet,

    I think we both agree on the end goal. No issue there.

    I think where we disagree is on the method of getting there.

    I think for our society to “develop on many levels” and get to where it needs to be, the changes need to be made first. I think such societal changes come as the result of proper constitution, not the other way around.

    Sounds a bit like a chicken and egg dilemma, eh?

    African americans did not get where they are today overnight. But they got where they are today because the constitution started off with a statement about everyone being equal and having equal rights. And THAT was the foundation upon which the changes to society during the desegregation era were built. Not the other way around.

    South Africa is another example. Apartheid was removed in one fell swoop. There were no “special provisions” to protect the white minority there.

    And our favorite topic here: Israel.

    The argument many make in Israel for an apartheid like mentality, fear of arab demographics, etc. Is the exact same siege mentality the Christians are living in Lebanon today as well.

    Protectionism and segregation just do not work. Not even as a temporary fix.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 8:43 pm
  69. I’ve always believed that a proper Constitution, reformed political system,and laws that are firmly implemented will eventually change the behavior and attitude of people.
    The points I listed above are to be part of the preparation process. On their own they may not make much of a difference.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 20, 2011, 8:52 pm
  70. 69 was meant for BV

    Posted by The Prophet | January 20, 2011, 9:06 pm
  71. Someone brought up the subject of polling somewhere in this thread.

    I highly recommend you read this:

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/01/20/case_closed

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 20, 2011, 9:13 pm
  72. I’m surprised that throughout the last two weeks of drama, little has been mentioned of Israel.

    Remember we speculated that Hezballah dodged winning the last elections to avoid a major confrontation with Israel (among other issues).

    Israel has repeatedly warned it will bomb the crap out of Lebanon if Hezballah runs the country. Is that not factoring into negotiations at all?

    Perhaps that’s the card the Americans are gambling on.

    Posted by Antoun Issa | January 20, 2011, 9:34 pm
  73. #71 QN

    I don’t get it…

    Posted by danny | January 20, 2011, 9:39 pm
  74. QN:

    It was me.

    Some quick math (with assumptions: 40,30,30 split among Shia, xians, muslims)

    puts overall view that STL is free and fair at 43.5% of the population.

    Strangely, this doesn’t match up with IPI polling which was conducted at around the same time.

    Both claim a 3% statistical margin.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 20, 2011, 9:42 pm
  75. Speaking of Gov formation, unity vs one color. Wasn’t the opposition’s position in the last round of Gov formation, that regardless of having the majority winning the election, it was a unity Gov or no Gov at all, and insisted on a blocking third? basically a veto position!

    Thus, if the opposition can muster a majority now, would they extend the same courtesy to the other camp, since they are the ones who set this precedent?

    Just wondering for wondering’s sake!!!

    Posted by Ras Beirut | January 20, 2011, 10:35 pm
  76. Jumblatt just gave Hariri quite a compliment in the NY times:
    “It’s on the razor’s edge,” Walid Jumblatt, a politician and a leader of the Druse minority who has emerged as a kingmaker, said in an interview. “I can see the nervousness of Hezbollah and the Syrians. They feel — and they are right to feel — outmaneuvered and betrayed.” He warned that the crisis “might blow up the whole country.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/world/middleeast/21lebanon.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

    Posted by AIG | January 20, 2011, 10:51 pm
  77. 72*

    “Israel has repeatedly warned it will bomb the crap out of Lebanon if Hezballah runs the country. Is that not factoring into negotiations at all?

    Perhaps that’s the card the Americans are gambling on.”

    It very well could be the joker in the deck.

    War is much on the minds of Israelis these days; both pro and con. Who knows where Dennis Ross is?

    Posted by lally | January 20, 2011, 11:38 pm
  78. AIG.

    ?. In polite society, it’s not usually considered complimentary to suggest that anyone, even the future savior of Lebanon, is a betrayer.

    Posted by lally | January 20, 2011, 11:50 pm
  79. Lally,

    People who are “outmaneuvered” tend to feel betrayed, and if Hariri can do this to Hezbollah and the Syrians, he has learned quickly. He is playing a game of chicken with them, and so far they are the ones blinking. He has been calling their bluffs very well so far and he has dared them to call his. For example, he is daring Berri to support a non-FM candidate for PM. Let’s see him do it. He is daring the opposition to set up a government by themselves. Let’s see them do it.

    Posted by AIG | January 21, 2011, 12:41 am
  80. Could it be possible that Berri votes M14 just to spare Hezbollah forming a government and running the country (something they wouldn’t want because of Israel)?

    Posted by Nasser V | January 21, 2011, 2:18 am
  81. QN:

    What say you to the idea that we set up a poll to the question for readers of your website on the question of the tribunal?

    Posted by Gabriel | January 21, 2011, 2:18 am
  82. MM #7 I agree with you that M8 will have their way this time around. Lebanon has entered a zero sum gain phase (no ‘taswiya’).

    As to happens next? The new government will rule for a few months and then new/old divisions will surface. Absent a common enemy how long it will take for Amal/FPM antagonism to re-surface?

    Hariri’s allusion to the situation his father was in in 1998 is basically a hint to what he will be doing for the next 2 years.

    Posted by XP | January 21, 2011, 3:37 am
  83. Israel has repeatedly warned it will bomb the crap out of Lebanon if Hezballah runs the country. Is that not factoring into negotiations at all?

    Antoun Issa,

    Hezballah already runs the country, and Israel has yet to “bomb the crap out of Lebanon”.

    Hezballah got Israel’s message, and the border has been extremely quiet. The Israelis have the good people within the Hezballah organization to thank.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 21, 2011, 7:36 am
  84. We might not like or understand fully their consequences at the time…. Nevertheless, we still have a choice… That is the fountain of freedom…. Even in the darkest of times we still have a choice and it takes real bravery to make the hard ones….and we will.

    The sequence of illegal and extra-judicial political assassinations and attempted murders carried out by the odious machinations of the evil Nexus CIA/MOSSAD and their barbaric White House Murder INC, together with Asef SHAWKAT’s military intelligence goons and their cut-outs…, involved 13 incidents, targeting politicians, journalists and security officials, with a total casualty toll of 58 dead and at least 338 wounded. These attacks represented the largest, most dramatic assassination campaign in the post Cold War world….and it’s no coincidence….it is a direct product of the Arc of Crisis, Clean Break, PNAC, and the “Constructive Chaos”…started in earnest since 1995….

    Our collective peril lies in the new ‘reality’ where evil can wrap itself in the words and images of light and a devious tool of a broken and crumbling Empire of utter corruption, the US of A…. That was how we lost dearly, since the advent of the Siamese twins CIA/MOSSAD and their infamous White House Murder INC, since 2002… In a world run by liars ‘doing the right thing’ is often the opposite…. If everyone else is doing it, it’s time to choose a different track….

    Posted by Jim | January 21, 2011, 8:23 am
  85. Jim,

    Speaking of “murder inc.” and “peril”, who flew commercial airliners into the 2 World Trade Centers?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 21, 2011, 9:27 am
  86. QN 28,

    Changing electoral laws are not a walk in the park. M8 may barely get a majority to select the next PM but changing electoral laws is not as easy. Btw, I read the article you linked to in @71 and its a case of how to lie with statistics. Concluding that a majority of Christians do not support the STL based on the question if you think the STL is “free and fair,” Asking the question “do you support the STL” would give a different polling result.
    The most accurate result of the poll and what will factor in the 2013 elections is below. Don’t expect the FPM to get the same number of seats as in 2009.
    “Iran is one issue on which Lebanon’s Sunnis and Christians still generally agree, and differ sharply from their Shiite countrymen. Two-thirds of both Christians and Sunnis have unfavorable views of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; among Lebanese Shiites, that figure is an astonishingly low 2 percent.”

    Posted by MM | January 21, 2011, 10:16 am
  87. @85…

    Posted by cvghfx | January 21, 2011, 10:48 am
  88. Jumblatt has just spoken he has chosen the side of Syria and the Resistance, how many votes this translates into is unknown as of yet.

    naharnet and nowlebanon are overloaded I have not been able to access for over 30 mintues.

    “Our system is currently overloaded, sorry for the inconvenience.”

    Posted by tamer k. | January 21, 2011, 11:03 am
  89. cvghfx,

    Since 9-11, has anyone interviewed Mohamed Atta to get his reaction?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohamed_Atta

    When were too proud to admit it, usually we need to find a strawman to blame. Jews and Israel were born to fill that role;)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EgyptAir_Flight_990

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 21, 2011, 11:12 am
  90. Jim #84,
    Are you going to copy the web site in which you worship and adore Elie Hobeika a few lines at a time? Stop this childish game.
    How do you explain your idols role in Sabra and Chatilla?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 21, 2011, 12:42 pm
  91. “Our system is currently overloaded, sorry for the inconvenience.”

    Is that a comment on the Naharnet website, or more generally on the Lebanese political system?

    Posted by Rex Brynen | January 21, 2011, 1:22 pm
  92. GK#90

    LoL. Did you know that off-hand, or did Google lend a hand?

    Posted by Gabriel | January 21, 2011, 1:30 pm
  93. #91 that was from nowlebanon.com

    Six Democratic Gathering bloc votes for Hariri, five for Karami, source says

    If this is true the m8 will need 3 votes while m4 will need 4 votes to get the majority. Odds are clearly against m8 at this point

    Posted by tamer k. | January 21, 2011, 1:36 pm
  94. #90 GK.

    Good catch of the cache.

    Posted by lally | January 21, 2011, 1:55 pm
  95. GK@90
    You are childish, gullible, presumptuous and offensive because you regurgitate the MSM garbage about something totally unknown to you which is a pretty serious deficiency considering your profession….
    For someone who has lived the events, it is pretty disgusting to see a Lebanese repeating Israeli war criminal’s utter lies.
    Read, Les secrets de la guerre du Liban by Alain Menargues…

    http://newhk.blogspot.com/search/label/AMAN.

    Posted by Jim | January 21, 2011, 2:04 pm
  96. Rex #91,
    Brilliant observation 🙂

    Gabriel; lally,
    Most of the posts did not have the tone of originality and relevance to the thread. Yes Google did help.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 21, 2011, 2:07 pm
  97. 8:19pm Opposition sources to Al-Jadeed: Opposition factions now have a 65-seat majority in Parliament, including seven from Jumblat’s bloc.

    We’ll wait and see what happens, but what will/can the Sunni’s do if their Leader is rejected?

    Posted by tamer k. | January 21, 2011, 2:48 pm
  98. tough to argue with this point by Junblatt:

    وأوضح جنبلاط للمقربين منه ان الامور باتت اكبر منه وأكبر من قدرته على الوقوف في منطقة الوسط في مواجهة معركة قاسية لا يستخدم فيها داعمو الرئيس سعد الحريري الدوليون والاقليميون الا البيانات والتصريحات والوسائل الاعلامية، في وقت يستخدم خصومه كل اساليب الضغط الميداني والعسكري والشعبي

    Posted by robinson | January 21, 2011, 2:55 pm
  99. Tamer #97:

    The sunnis can’t really do much if Hariri is rejected.
    But Berri’s days as speaker are numbered.
    As pointed out above, the days of a given sect picking their guy are over.
    In a way, that is a good thing, because this is how democracies are supposed to work.
    I never understood why a M14 victory in the previous parliamentary elections resulted in Berri being speaker. It shoulda been a M14 shiite. Just like M8 gets to push Karami down the throats of the Sunnis these days.

    Regardless. In the long run, none of this matters. It’s all silly games that have no baring on real governance.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 21, 2011, 3:09 pm
  100. “Jumblatt has just spoken he has chosen the side of Syria and …”

    Priceless!!

    A normal person should ask WTF does a forein country has to do with nominating a PM.

    I guess that was WJ’s way of stating that he was forced by Syria to vote M8.

    Posted by danny | January 21, 2011, 3:29 pm
  101. I don’t want to sound very optimistic, but
    If there is any good coming out of this governmental crisis,is that The sects may not be able to choose and impose their guy. This my open the door for political alliances based on political views instead of sectarian loyalty.
    It is too early to tell , But the end result may be good ,even if(My view) neither camp is able to form a government.
    As for Jumblat, I doubt that he can deliver more than five votes for the opposition.The stalemate scenario is still the most likely one, if(BIG IF) the consultations take place anyway.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 21, 2011, 3:30 pm
  102. “But Berri’s days as speaker are numbered.”

    I disagree based on the fact that M8 look like political savants when compared to M14, with or without the adequate parliamentary numbers they have shown time and time again that they can get their way. The cedar revolution is over, Syrian political influence is here and Saudi/American experiment will be over if M8 installs its PM of choice. Moreover, an M14 victory is not guaranteed in the next round of elections, and their failures shouldn’t convince anyone that things will change even if they have the majority next time around.

    Posted by tamer k. | January 21, 2011, 3:34 pm
  103. “A normal person should ask WTF does a forein country has to do with nominating a PM.”

    A “normal” person would also object to a neocon-infested ME FP establishment (thanks to team Bill n’ Hill) doing all it can to reinstall their favorite lil’ appeaser par excellence.

    Posted by lally | January 21, 2011, 3:44 pm
  104. lally

    Don’t you people get tired of the same old tired rhetoric?

    What’s up with you when you cannot judge things for what they are?

    Posted by danny | January 21, 2011, 3:48 pm
  105. A normal person would have thrown up their arms in the air in disgust and stopped recognizing “Lebanon” as an entity.
    None of the laws of physics, logic, nature, seem to apply there.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 21, 2011, 3:52 pm
  106. Also, gotta point out the hypocrisy.
    Didn’t some people get up in arms last week when the US Ambassador went to visit a M14 MP (Alloush?). Everyone was up in arms about it being “meddling and interference” and she was even summoned by the foreign ministry.

    Two days later, Jumblatt is in Damascus. Berri and co. are in Damascus. And now Jumblatt is “taking the side of Syria”.

    And the worst part is, beyond a couple of blog comments like this one, no one even thinks to point this out, or act outraged.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 21, 2011, 3:54 pm
  107. BV,

    Outraged?? when we have people like lally and others justifying it. Seriously, they are all sectarian to their bones!

    I am disgusted but not surprised…

    Posted by danny | January 21, 2011, 3:58 pm
  108. What’s up with you when you cannot judge things for what they are?

    Danny,

    That would cause a brain short-circuit and force Lally to finally blame an Arab country or organization. I wouldn’t recommend such a drastic first-step.

    Lally,

    Since when are “Bill n’ Hill” considered “neocons”? Is Obama a neocon? Are all Americans neocons?

    And you never answered my previous questions: Which neocon/American/Mossad Agent/Navy Seal/Likudnik:

    – force the Lebanese government to sign the STL with the UN?

    – force Hezbollah to quit the current Lebanese government?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 21, 2011, 4:04 pm
  109. Danny.

    You presume that I don’t know bupkes about what my government is and has been up to in the region and beyond. (Want to talk about the “Rose Revolution” that installed the tie-chewing madman Saakashvili as the leader of Georgia?)

    Here’s a clue; many of us residing in the bosom of our dear democracy share a profound disgust with words & actions that belie our purported American values. It’s an artifact of the nationalism we US citizens suckle from birth onward.

    Posted by lally | January 21, 2011, 4:10 pm
  110. “And you never answered my previous questions: Which neocon/American/Mossad Agent/Navy Seal/Likudnik:

    – force the Lebanese government to sign the STL with the UN?”

    The Lebanese Gov. is forced to deal with the STL because it was invoked under ch 7 of the UN Charter, it was not ratified through the appropriate constitutional protocols.

    Posted by tamer k. | January 21, 2011, 4:17 pm
  111. Dear QN,

    Were Damascus to succeed in securing the nomination and election of a PM at the expense of Mr. Hariri, this would surely go down as one of the most spectacular wins seen for a long time. That this would end up taking place without a single shot fired further confirms the brilliance of the strategic chess game that Damascus has played. The game is not over of course. Mr. Hariri is still hopeful am sure but his odds are clearly slipping away.

    Posted by EHSANI2 | January 21, 2011, 4:21 pm
  112. Excuse the silly question…

    Can you expand on the following sentance:

    “, it was not ratified through the appropriate constitutional protocols.”

    Posted by Gabriel | January 21, 2011, 4:21 pm
  113. amer K.
    Syrian influence never really left. This influence was officially invited back in by M14 (Hariri in particular), when Hariri tried to outsmart Assad by establishing a relationship with him, while He was waiting for the indictment that would name Syrian officials as well as HA in the murder of his father.
    It was not too long ago, when Ahmad Hariri(Saad’s cousin) ,in response to questions from hardcore supporters of Saad Hariri in Tripoli were questioning Hariri’s move to make up with Assad, assured them not to worry, and that this was a ploy to buy time, and things won’t last for long.
    A for your second point of Saudi/American experience being over if M8 formed a government on its own, I think A war by Israel would become inevitable, since war would be the only option the United States has left to counter the defeat of M8.
    Another possibility is a civil war.
    I doubt M8 would want to form a government and own all of Lebanon’s problems.
    A stalemate would be considered a defeat (loosing the majority, and being rejected) for Hariri.M8 can always claim that the there is no majority anymore, and that they had the popular vote anyway.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 21, 2011, 4:27 pm
  114. Ehsani

    It might be a tactical win, but it could be disastrous in the long term for Syria, for many reasons but I’ll give you just one:

    By forcing Karami into office over Hariri, Bashar will be effectively spitting in the eye of Lebanon’s Sunni community. That’s a very dangerous game to play, and I think we all know why.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 21, 2011, 4:30 pm
  115. Correction, the following sentence should have read;
    since war would be the only option the United States has left to counter the defeat of M14.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 21, 2011, 4:31 pm
  116. EHSANI2,

    If Karami ever succeeds in forming a government it will be a Pyhrric victory if Syria wants a economically successful Lebanon to milk. Syria needs Hariri’s consent to be its vassal and that is not currently happening. It still works with the Druze but it ain’t working with the Sunnis.

    By the way, I appreciate your honest comment on SC about why the minorities in Syria support Asad.

    Posted by AIG | January 21, 2011, 4:36 pm
  117. QN,

    Presumably, you are referring to the fact that Mr. Assad will irk his predominantly Sunni population, is that right?

    Assuming this is what you meant, I would argue that such fears are exaggerated. That the country’s Sunni majority would now be so angry that they would use the potential fall of Mr. Hariri to go down to the streets in protest is inaccurate, if not fictional.

    Posted by EHSANI2 | January 21, 2011, 4:41 pm
  118. Ehsani2
    “That this would end up taking place without a single shot fired further confirms the brilliance of the strategic chess game that Damascus has played”

    Of course true without counting the assassinations, car bombs, show of force on the streets and strong arm tactics used to intimidate everyone concerned between 2005 and now. brilliant chess game indeed.

    Have you no shame?

    Posted by V | January 21, 2011, 4:53 pm
  119. Assad spit in the eye of the Sunnis of Lebanon many times before, so far with impunity.
    He did it repeatedly during the 90s, and well, the Hariri assassination (even if it wasn’t orchestrated by Damascus) is seen as quite a bit more than “spitting”, I would imagine.

    The Sunni community has been punched in the gut, kicked in the balls and…well you get the idea.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 21, 2011, 4:59 pm
  120. tamer k.,

    Thanks.

    So I guess the UN is now a “neocon-infested ME FP establishment (thanks to team Bill n’ Hill)”.

    Geez, all this time I thought the UN was an Anti-Israel Forum for Whirled Peas™.

    You learn something new every day;)

    The court was established by an agreement between the United Nations and the Lebanese Republic pursuant to Security Council resolution 1664 (2006) of 29 March 2006. The United Nations Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, endorsed the agreement on 30 May 2007 (Security Council Resolution 1757 (2007)).[6]

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 21, 2011, 5:02 pm
  121. Akhbar palace refer to ICG report. Sanioura clearly avoided the Parliment and President and and asked the UN to form Hariri Investigation under ch. 7.

    The Security Council and the Anti Israeli General Assembly are 2 different things.

    Posted by tamer k. | January 21, 2011, 5:17 pm
  122. Akhbar palace refer to ICG report. Sanioura clearly avoided the Parliament and President and and asked the UN to form Hariri Investigation under ch. 7.

    The Security Council and the Anti Israeli General Assembly are 2 different things.

    Posted by tamer k. | January 21, 2011, 5:18 pm
  123. Ehsani

    That’s actually not what I meant (about Syria’s Sunnis). I simply mean that alienating Lebanon’s Sunnis is not a winning proposition for Bashar. The Christians are weak and divided and easy enough to ignore. The Sunnis are basically united under Hariri. Shoving Karami down Lebanon’s throat sets a dangerous precedent that Hariri is better equipped to exploit in the future than Hizbullah and Berri. It’s not a brilliant chess move, in my opinion. It’s a tactic borne out of desperation (as Jumblatt pointed out in the NY Times piece. Bashar and Hizbullah have no other choice but to try to take Hariri down in advance of the STL media bonanza that will get started later this year.)

    BV,

    How did Assad spit in the Sunnis’ eyes in the 90’s? Lebanon’s Sunnis were firm allies of Damascus, basically until 2005.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 21, 2011, 6:06 pm
  124. A. Palace.

    In the beginning….Team Bill ‘n Hill courted the neocons prior to their first presidential election campaign and picked that buffoon Jim Woolsey to lead the CIA as a reward. More appointments of a similar ilk followed. Of course they aren’t neocons themselves, they’re Grade A Grifters.

    Obama is an opportunist who quickly ascertained the locus of a bountiful source of political juice in Chicago. Now, his VP Joe (friend of “Saaki”) Biden, has openly declared that he is a Zionist. I’ll leave it to ya’ll to judge whether or not he makes the grade.

    Posted by lally | January 21, 2011, 6:09 pm
  125. QN,

    Come on. I wouldn’t call the sunnis “allies” of Assad in the 90s. “Under his thumb” maybe. But not allies.
    Hariri Sr. was repeatedly threatened, removed, replaced, etc. by Assad until he was eventually assassinated.
    Omar Karami was already shoved down their throats before. You’re gonna tell me he’s the guy most Sunnis woulda wanted representing them at the time? Not really.
    Let’s not forget the treatment Saniora had to put up with between 2005 and 2008…

    Granted, the current “spit” is of a different magnitude.

    But really. The Sunnis have never really been all that happy with Assad’s treatment of their “representation”.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 21, 2011, 6:28 pm
  126. Tamer,

    so are you suggesting sanioura acted on behalf of Zionism inc.?
    as I recall, the Lebanese were Outraged by the murderous “terror” bombing and were firmly behind the investigation.

    lally,

    this whole “neocon” label is perplexing. I never heard of it until 9-11.
    I also don’t recall the Clinton’s ever wooing any conservative Jews. Post a link showing me my failed memory…. and now we have Obama. Will Obama hire krauthammer to be in his administration?

    I thinly you’re upset Helen Thomas was fired…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 21, 2011, 6:49 pm
  127. Akhbar Palace,

    I don’t think I ever implied or suggested that Sanioura acted on behalf of “Zionism”. I do suggest he acted on behalf of m14 and the sunni community by avoiding established Lebanese Constitutional protocols.

    Posted by tamer k. | January 21, 2011, 7:00 pm
  128. The one aspect of this “blame the Zionists for everything” logic (or illogic) that baffles me is that it is often filled with contradictions.

    It is one thing for grown, rational men and women to make a logical case for something when their logic is sound (even if built on wrong data). I can respect that, even if I disagree with it.
    But when the logic contradicts itself…I dunno. I don’t quite know what to say.

    Take Iraq (so we can step away from Lebanon for a second). How can the US be at the same time, invading the country and trying to steal its oil by propping up a certain regime AND fomenting sectarian strife that destabilizes the same regime it is trying to prop up?

    The only explanation I can come up with is that Americans and Zionists suffer from some kind of schizophrenic dual-personality disorder.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 21, 2011, 7:34 pm
  129. Let’s not forget that the feeling expressed by May Chidiac in her NYTimes letter to the Editor published on December 10, 2010 is shared by many – inside Lebanon and outside.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/opinion/lweb21cohen.html?_r=1&scp=9&sq=jumblatt&st=cse


    December 20, 2010

    Justice in Lebanon: An Assassin’s Target Speaks Out

    To the Editor:

    In “U.S. Illusions in Lebanon” (column, The New York Times on the Web, Dec. 14), Roger Cohen expresses concern that “the passage of time — as well as bungling and inconsistencies — has rendered justice impossible in the Hariri murder,” referring to the 2005 assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister, Rafik Hariri.

    I am a victim of the campaign of assassinations that started in 2005 against Lebanon, and I refuse to give up, as Walid Jumblatt, the Druse leader, and Mr. Cohen seem to ask us to do.

    I was an outspoken journalist when I was seriously wounded by explosives put under my car seat. I lost my left leg above the knee and my left arm was amputated because of severe injuries. But I never lost hope or faith in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and in international justice.

    Obviously I do not share with Mr. Cohen his impatience with justice nor his pessimism. I believe that justice is not only possible but also inevitable.

    The indictments will be a great achievement for the tribunal and for justice. They will also be a watershed in the history of Lebanon. It will be the first time that anyone was brought to justice, let alone indicted, for political assassinations in Lebanon.

    Mr. Cohen says that stability “trumps justice delayed, flawed and foreign.” We appreciate Mr. Cohen’s concern over Lebanese stability, but Lebanon does not have to choose between justice and stability. It should have and deserves both.

    The tribunal process might have flaws, but these imperfections are worth having if justice is served in the end.

    May Chidiac
    Beirut, Lebanon, Dec. 16, 2010

    Chidiac was responding to this Roger Cohen article:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/14/opinion/14iht-edcohen14.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=roger%20cohen%20lebanon&st=cse

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 21, 2011, 7:36 pm
  130. … and, Michael Young’s take:
    http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=232522
    Conclusion? Here’s what Young says:

    What lies ahead will not be easy for Hezbollah and Syria to manage. Hezbollah’s single-minded focus on undermining the Special Tribunal is compelling it to make mistakes elsewhere. Sponsoring a government against Lebanon’s Sunnis and a large share of the Christians, who despite their decline still represent the economic backbone of the country, is a disaster waiting to happen. Weapons can do many things, but they cannot purchase legitimacy and prosperity.
    Lebanon is bound to suffer as the irresistible force of Lebanese sectarianism meets the immovable object of Hezbollah’s weapons.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 21, 2011, 7:53 pm
  131. BV 128,

    You’re not far off on Americans and Zionists suffering from the same kind of schizophrenic dual-personality disorder.

    After all, both were shunned out of Europe to make a better life for themselves off-shore,

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 21, 2011, 7:53 pm
  132. Ehsani

    I would also add that V is right in a certain way. If Hariri is not appointed PM next week, it may look like a “bloodless coup” so to speak, but we have to remember that this is only the latest step in a protracted struggle that has witnessed plenty of blood.

    There’s something so deliciously ironic about the current standoff. Let’s rewind the tape from a hypothetical Karami premiership next week.

    – Karami becomes PM because March 8 resigned from Hariri’s cabinet and brought it down.

    – The reason they were able to bring Hariri’s cabinet down was because of the 1/3 + 1 formula, which has no constitutional basis. Despite the fact that Hariri’s coalition won the 2009 election, they gave the opposition a blocking third because this was the precedent set at Doha.

    – The precedent was set at Doha after the opposition brought the country to a halt for a year and a half, by walking out of Siniora’s government and claiming that it was illegitimate and unconstitutional.

    – Why was it illegitimate and unconstitutional? Because it failed to satisfy the constitution’s requirement that all sects should be represented. Absent the participation of the two main Shiite parties, the Siniora govt was said to be in violation of the Constitution.

    – March 8 is able to get rid of Hariri and nominate someone else in his place PRECISELY because they played the sectarian card from 2006-09. A year and a half later, they’re pretending like this never happened.

    Ironic, no?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 21, 2011, 8:00 pm
  133. It is extremely ironic.
    I REALLY wish someone would point this out, over in Lebanon.
    Why doesn’t Hariri say that in his speech? For all Lebanese to hear. Instead of talking platitudes?

    That’s the thing I hate about M14 leadership, they are really not very good at pointing out the contradictions that come out of M8 almost on a daily basis. If I were an M14 spokesperson, I’d be bombarding the airwaves with these talking points today:

    1) You guys made a big deal about the US ambassador visiting MP Fatoush. And repeatedly accuse Hariri and co. of being beholden to the Saudis. Please explain to me what Jumblatt and Berri both visited Bashar this week to consult about our government. And please summon the Syrian amabassador to the Foreign Ministry for a reprimand.

    2) Reading from the Doha declaration: “Both sides promise not to resign from the cabinet of national unity.” How can we hold you to your word in any future settlment if you can’t keep your promises?

    3) You guys made a big fuss about the Saniora gov. being unconstitutional when it lost it’s shia representation. (Preferably cut to footage of Berri or Nassrallah saying those words).Well, any M8 government you make up now without Saad Hariri suffers from the same lack of consitutionality.

    4) You guys insisted we elect Nabih Berri speaker, even though we won the parliamentary elections, because apparently the speaker position belongs to “The shia”. (Again, insert footage) We therefore demand you reappoint Hariri PM, as that position belongs to the Sunnis!

    I mean, if M8 can play dirty like that, why is it that M14 still insists on catering to bad logic and contradicitions? At LEAST point them out to the public, even if it changes nothing today. You gotta at least counter that brainwashing somehow by trying to highlight the incredible hypocrisy displayed by M8.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 21, 2011, 8:43 pm
  134. QN,
    you can go back a bit further too, and start when Omar Karami resigned on the basis of a “coup” by M14….

    Posted by Joe M. | January 21, 2011, 8:46 pm
  135. Can someone please explain to the dumb American tax payer what spending trillions of dollars on Iraq and Afghanistan has to do with Ossama Bin Laden and 9/11 ?

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 21, 2011, 8:48 pm
  136. Joe

    I never thought I would hear you defend the Karami government. 🙂

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 21, 2011, 8:59 pm
  137. and you’re not now. Im just saying, it was an interesting point for you to start. I mean, the whole analysis. Basically, you’ve have competing popular movements. im sure you recognize that. both have been pretty flawed in various ways. It’s pretty odd to pick on one over the other for their techniques.

    I have my favorites for political reasons, but it’s pretty clear that it’s a messy game and a lot of dirty hands are involved.

    Posted by Joe M. | January 21, 2011, 9:08 pm
  138. That is true: they are competing popular movements. And yes, Karami was pressured to resign by street protests. I’m not denying the right of citizens to demonstrate peacefully against their government: that’s not the technique that I have a problem with. It’s the hypocrisy of playing the sectarian card from 2006-08, and then turning around and doing exactly what they were accusing M14 of doing, in 2011. This is what I am criticizing.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 21, 2011, 9:24 pm
  139. I want to ask the Lebanese on this Blog ,

    Will the Lebanese end to accept the new government led by the opposition if it provide for them , Clean water, good sanitation, jobs , good roads , affordable health care and education , and safety in the streets or they would try to change it?.

    Posted by Norman | January 21, 2011, 9:31 pm
  140. Ok, so they both played the same sectarian game. that’s true, and worthy of criticism. but that’s also the system you have in lebanon.

    As far as i can tell, though, if we look at the bigger picture… this whole episode from the death of hariri on… has basically formalized a realignment of lebanese politics. It seems to me that Hizbullah (and probably the Shia in general) have finally become the dominant force in lebanese politics. And, as they are the biggest sect, that’s probably well deserved.

    It was like the ruling elite tried to push things their way in the wake of hariri, and were confronted by a popular reality. more or less.

    (ignoring the details of how… and all that has both sided did to accomplish that).

    Posted by Joe M. | January 21, 2011, 9:32 pm
  141. Only in Lebanon you have “leaders” such as the master thief Iztaz Berri who says they are following the constitutional democratic path…Off course he forgot to mention all the assassinations, bombings, occupation of Beirut…May 2008; lies at Doha and currently SUPPORTING Syria.

    Now I’ll be damned I do not comprehend this amazing clear logic. They threaten everyone with civil war and sedition and then after peoiple succumb…they declare it a popular democratic decision.

    WTF are we even wasting time with these insolent bastards anyways? HA will do anything and everything at will and the only way to stop it is a civil war! There are no other solutions unless you figure that the establishment of the Islamic Republic is the fair answer and solution.

    Posted by danny | January 21, 2011, 9:38 pm
  142. 3ammo Norman @139, I think one has to be careful with the way you couched the question. Someone may argue that it is blackmail and “protection” based on extortion. In a way this was indeed the case from 1990 to 2005. Normalization was successful and all was peachy keen except, of course, for any kind of independence for Lebanese politics. Lebanon was essentially a Syrian province. There is no reason why the peace and prosperity could not have continued except that the drive for political independence (from Syria) and the drive towards disarmament of HA did not fit the agenda of either and so the Hariri assassination (regardless of who’s responsible for it) provided the earthquake that aborted what seemed at the time like the inevitable evolution towards true independence along with prosperity.

    Of course, folks will prefer peace and normal life to civil strife and conflict, but then, in human nature, there is this drive towards liberty and independence that somehow finds a way to emerge.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 21, 2011, 9:52 pm
  143. Joe M,
    I never had any problems with the Shia rising. I think all the disinherited are entitled to do that and eventually would. Putting aside a truly secular state for the sake of this post only, I and many like me raise objections not to the rise of Hizzbollah ( in a democracy different parties will have different beliefs) but it is the manner through which they rose. Hezbollah did nor rise through converts, through changing hearts and minds. It rose to power through purely fear, blackmailand brytal use of gangaster style force. Hezbollahs’ power is directly related to the illegal militia and the fact that they have the larger gun. That I object to vociferously and I will never accept. To use the terms that I used in a post with you a few days ago: Hezbollahs techniques of intimidation and mafiosi behaviour can result in only one thing: its deligitimation.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 21, 2011, 10:24 pm
  144. The Americans are the last to learn,

    http://www.psp.org.lb/Default.aspx?tabid=107&articleType=ArticleView&articleId=53984

    Wouldn’t it have been wiser if the yankees did this a month ago? What the heck? Is it not clear that we are dealing with a bunch of extortionists and criminals?

    I bet if they sent earlier HNA would have gine deeper in his hole.

    Posted by anonymous | January 21, 2011, 10:38 pm
  145. Ghassan,
    I think we always have good discussions. And here’s my critique with what you just said. Basically, you are saying Hizbullah is not legitimate because they fought dirty against dirty forces. I think, in Lebanon, you have dirty system and Hizbullah played that system just as fairly as anyone else. That makes them no less legitimate than any other force. They’ve all used force, corruption, and political strength to gain power. Hizbullah is using it’s real strength to come to power too. The difference is that Hizbullah is fighting against the system that these other created.

    That said, I still think that Hizbullah is doing so in a more legitimate, democratic fashion than what brought the other zaim to power. but i do recognize that their recent power plays are just that.

    Posted by Joe M. | January 21, 2011, 10:38 pm
  146. HP,
    It just looks so sad to me for the Lebanese to worry about the process and their leaders , It was always meant for the leaders to worry about their people and their needs , not the other way around ,

    And that is my take ,

    Posted by Norman | January 21, 2011, 10:57 pm
  147. Joe M

    “They’ve all used force, corruption, and political strength to gain power.”

    Can you please give us an example when and where March 14 used force?

    “I still think that Hizbullah is doing so in a more legitimate, democratic fashion than what brought the other zaim to power”

    to claim that HA’s methods and actions in 08 or during the famous downtown sit-in or the most recent show of “men in black”
    democratic and legitimate? that is dishonest to say the least.

    Posted by V | January 21, 2011, 11:43 pm
  148. V,
    M14 is not some new organization of 21 year old fresh college graduates. It’s a rebranding of tired old group of politicians. People who’ve come to power through the civil war and deals with Syria when it dominated. A group who’ve benefited from the last 50 years of violence and oppression.

    And Hizbullah resorted to those methods, which are pretty grotesque, as a result of a system that has been wielded against them undemocratically, and which willfully has neglected the Shia for decades.

    I, too, am sad that the Tunisian people had to resort to a violent revolution to regain control of their country from an institutional power that systematically oppressed them for years. It would have been marvelous had they been able to do that without force and violence. But they were not. And im not willing to condemn them either.

    Posted by Joe M. | January 21, 2011, 11:58 pm
  149. Joe m,
    I would like to clarify a point that is apparently misunderstood in my previous post. To my chagrin Hezbollah became legititimized as a result of the 2006 war and as a result of many stands and statements by all the other groups. What I am suggesting is that their current stand could backfire and lead to their delegitimation which will be ironic.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 22, 2011, 12:24 am
  150. Joe M @148, your answer to V’s @147 question about M14 using force was unconvincing.

    I agree that HA’s methods are grotesque, and you can say that the ends justify the means, however, the point is if you terrorize your way to power you can’t simply claim the high road and call yourself “democratic”. One can’t be a democratic terrorist.

    Posted by MM | January 22, 2011, 12:24 am
  151. Ghassan,
    Thanks for the clarification. but Hizbullah is legitimized by the number of followers it has, who genuinely believe in them. if, the vast mass of shia defect from hizbullah and only support them out of fear, then i would agree with you. but that’s not the case, and doesn’t look to be the case any time soon. The view of the rest of lebanon, or international people, is secondary (if it means anything at all, in the case of the internationals).

    MM,
    M14 wasn’t in the same position over the last 5 years as Hizbullah. M14 was always in a dominant position, so they don’t have to use force in the same way. But, for example, M14 attempted to use force in a more direct way (than just systematic force) against Hizbullah when it tried to remove the communication network (especially in light of how many spies were discovered). Also, they used indirect force against Hizbullah by accepting the terms of 1701, rather than negotiating more honest terms. they also use force by essentially leaving the shia to fend for themselves against israel generally. Or, they used force against Hizbullah when they negotiated with the USA for Israel to attack just hizbullah rather than the christians of Lebanon. (to take a couple examples)

    They might not have put people in the streets like Hizbullah did, but that’s because they had more means of violence and compulsion at their disposal. Both sides have used their strategic advantages to their benefit for political gain. It’s hardly different.

    But the biggest difference is that Hizbullah has been forced to fight a system essentially created by and for the benefit of M14.

    Posted by Joe M. | January 22, 2011, 1:00 am
  152. BV#133:

    Because M14 is better than M8. Hariri should take the high ground and not seek re-appointment.

    Norm#139:

    Are you here joking around, or do you take your questions seriously?

    Most posters here apparently live outside of Lebanon. They’re not lacking bread and butter.

    Perhaps over in Syria, you are proud of the autocratic system. But what’s with this apologia for Syria? I know you’re Syrian still, don’t you think you’re being a little “much”.

    This basket case that is Lebanon still has a better political system, a freer press than whatever exists over on your side. Don’t ever forget that.

    And while the “system” may not be the model that every other regime in the hood should covet to mimic, at the very least, you should be rather ashamed of your leadership for stoking, encouraging, etc the sort of behaviour we see in Lebanon.

    And never forget, at the end of the day, in most likelihood, Syria has had a hand in the string of assassinations, just as they did a generation ago. Syria would never let an organisation like HA run amok in its country. They should be appaled to let them do so in “sisterly” Lebanon.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 22, 2011, 1:09 am
  153. Joe M:

    HA is an organisation that in all likelihood was behind a string of assassinations in Lebanon.

    Enough Said.

    The day that someone from M14 knocks off Berri, or Aoun, or HN… then you can come back and overwhelm us with this verbiage.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 22, 2011, 1:13 am
  154. Joe M,
    No offense, I would love to debate your points but given some of the fantasies you alluded to as in “…they used force against Hizbullah when they negotiated with the USA for Israel to attack just hizbullah rather than the christians of Lebanon. “. It is a moot point to debate. Yes Olmert was waiting for Elias Murr to tell the US Ambassador that bombing Christian areas will piss off christians and Olmert, just because Murr thunk it, obliged for Murr’s black eyes (la3youn elias ya3ni).

    Posted by MM | January 22, 2011, 1:27 am
  155. Jim @ 84,

    You have mentioned “Constructive Chaos” which to me sounded like the translation of الفوضى الخلاقة which, for sometime, I believed it was a deliberate bad translation of “creative destruction” to emphasize on negative connotations.

    Reading your post I have tried to search for the theory of “constructive chaos” but couldn’t find any reference to it except for an article by a “Thierry Meyssan” which contained no real definition but a reference to a quote by Ms. Condoleeza Rice and some unidentified sources “according to the adepts of Leo Strauss”.

    Can you please point me to some references for “constructive chaos”

    Posted by IHTDA | January 22, 2011, 1:27 am
  156. One has to remember that many problems that Lebanon suffer from are caused by outsiders. For example the civil war wouldn’t have happened if there were no Palestinians in Lebanon. Blaming the politicians for participating in the civil war without mentioning the Palestinians who were behind the war is cynical.

    And now, of course, we have the Iranians and the Syrians.

    Posted by anonymous | January 22, 2011, 2:15 am
  157. IHTDA@155
    You’re right, it can be said “creative destruction” I chose the latter because of the Arabic label الفوضى الخلاقة
    But what ever it is called, it sure as hell involved a lot of destruction in a lot of places….and we ain’t finished yet…PNAC is still alive and kicking, because the evil crumbling Empire never learns….

    Posted by Jim | January 22, 2011, 3:20 am
  158. MM,
    My point was larger than any specific example i gave. The general point is that M14 doesn’t really have to use the same type of violence because it’s already supported by the state, which imposes institutional violence upon hizbullah and the shia. But even specifically, over the last few years there has been ample violence against hizbullah by M14’s use of the state. You may disagree with a specific example, but that’s not really important.

    Gabriel,
    You may be shocked to hear that I think it highly unlikely that Hizbullah killed Hariri. Even the prosecutor of the STL had previously been saying that he had “no case”. So, your “Enough Said” is not based on much, and I doubt you can back your presumption of Hizbullah’s guilt on any evidence. (and for the record, unless the STL produces some pretty solid direct evidence, which is very unlikely, i will remain very skeptical of Hizbullah’s involvement)

    Posted by Joe M. | January 22, 2011, 5:44 am
  159. Joe M. @158
    You’re spot on again…
    It is very very unlikely that the UN Tribunal really established the authorship of the Hariri assassination. So the release of the report/draft indictments is a political act, first and foremost. There was an agreement reached between Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon to recommend that the findings be kept under seal for an indefinite period of time due to the fragility of the Lebanon situation. Israel strongly opposed, and Jeff Feltman prevailed, with likely strong backing from Obama’s UN Ambassador Susan Rice, who never met a human rights violation she did not embrace… When Hillary Clinton met with Saad Hariri and Saudi King Abdullah in NYC a few weeks ago, she conveyed the Obama Administration’s position. They joined with Israel in rejecting the delay in the release of the Hariri UN indictment, thus boosting Israel’s position against the consensus of Syria, Saudi Arabia and Saad Hariri himself.

    I am 100 percent sure that the “findings” of the tribunal are suspect and do not meet the American standard…

    Several months ago, Hezbollah’s leader Sheikh Nasrallah released video footage showing that Israeli surveillance drones were tracking the Hariri motorcade for months on end…. There are plenty of unanswered questions in this case, including the glaring question of whether CIA, OSP, Mossad or AMAN….bamboozling Asef SHAWKAT’s military intelligence into carrying out the assassination…. First it was a certainty that Syria did it; then Syria began tilting away from Iran and resuming relations with Saudi Arabia, and assassinating Imad F. MOUGHNIEH in the heart of Damascus….so the Syria focus was dropped…. Hezbollah was the obvious next target, and at first, it appeared that the hit would be blamed on the late Mougniyeh, an elegant solution, since he was killed in Syria, by the Syrians. But once the crack in the door was opened, a much broader “blame Hezbollah” track opened. There appear to be some phone intercepts suggestive of some role by some Hezbollah people, but having not seen any of that evidence, it remains to be seen whether there is anything there at all….

    So now, Israel and the Obama Administration have politically lined up, with Obama personally being a loud voice, praising the UNSTL without seeing a word of their report….out in the open… since we all know that STL is infested with CIA/MOSSAD/DGSE/MI6/CSIS operatives……

    No good is going to come of this, and Obama is once again showing himself to be a fool…. “Truth, justice and the American way” may have been great for the 1950s TV Superman, but, despite his belief to the contrary, Obama is no Superman…
    The only trump card here is that the Assad Mafia has switched sides….and the Prize may be “peace” with Israel, regardless the Palestinian track……

    And one final note on Hariri: Recall that he was not only a Saudi asset… He was in bed with ex-French President Chirac, to the point that Chirac retired to live in a Hariri condo in Paris, and was targeted for corruption probes centered on his business dealings and bribes from Hariri…..

    Posted by Jim | January 22, 2011, 6:43 am
  160. Joe:

    (1) You know as well as I, and as well as anyone else who participates in this forum, that the bringing down of the government was orchestrated by HA, and that they did so not because of their concern for corruption, embezzlement, etc. They did so over the STL.

    (2) You know as well as anyone else, that their “demands” to avert this outcome was based on disavowal of the STL.

    (3) And lest you’re living in La-La-Land, you know as well as any one else that if the STL was folded by one mean or another, and this investigation/proceedings were to stop tomorrow, then neither “HA” nor the rest of the “Opposition” would do anything to continue the investigation into the assassinations.

    Here’s what we can say for a fact. If HA didn’t do it, then at the very least:

    (1) They have not proposed a viable alternative (apart from Iran-style justice: come on TV and issue “admission”) to the STL.

    (2) They have been pushing the False Witness issue when one such witness is residing in Syria- their friend.

    (3) The above is so blatantly obvious, that at the very least, they should admit that their accusation against Israel is simply not very convincing. Syria is far more likely the culprit.

    Years ago, HA stayed out of gvmt, focussed on “La Resistance” and didn’t find itself in these funny situations.

    Now it’s using its muscle, not to address pertitent issues like poor governance, etc. But to cloud, obstruct, delay investigations into a series of assassinations.

    If they didn’t do it… then at the very least, their actions are protecting those who did.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 22, 2011, 7:54 am
  161. Gab,

    No matter what the political system a country has , the goal is still to provide the people with jobs,clean water, good sanitation,affordable health care and education , any system that can provide these is a successful system , talking about the problems and doing nothing about them will make the people cynical .

    Posted by Norman | January 22, 2011, 10:57 am
  162. Norman,
    Your description fits a jail system too. What about freedom of speech and believe? What about accountability of those in power?…

    Posted by IHTDA | January 22, 2011, 11:14 am
  163. I agree but the goal is always to better the lives of the people.

    The Patriot act law in the US justify detention without trial and restrict speech,

    It is not what people say, it is what they do or incite people to do is the problem.

    Posted by Norman | January 22, 2011, 11:22 am
  164. On Naharnet today:
    2:49pm [Local Time] Higher Islamic Sharia Council: We trust (caretaker) PM Hariri as one of the main Muslim figures who represent the (Sunni) sect and preserve its rights and dignity. He has the widest popular and parliamentary support and we back his latest speech.
    May I ask for help from any experts here to understand what this means? is there a hidden message there? if not, what is the implicit message that maybe is obvious to the initiated?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 22, 2011, 11:26 am
  165. Norman,

    I would start listening to your nonesense when Assad falls.

    HP,

    There is nothing implicit in that message.

    Joe M,

    Obviously, your comments are full of contradictions.

    Posted by anonymous | January 22, 2011, 11:39 am
  166. hmm, I have to apologize. I misread “Sharia” as “Shia,” hence my question. A nonsense question now that I’m not making the reading mistake.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 22, 2011, 12:46 pm
  167. They joined with Israel in rejecting the delay in the release of the Hariri UN indictment, thus boosting Israel’s position against the consensus of Syria, Saudi Arabia and Saad Hariri himself.

    Jim,

    You didn’t answer my question about who flew aircraft into the World Trade Centers? Are you still investigating this answer?

    Also please provide a link showing the US “with Israel in rejecting the delay in the release of the Hariri UN indictment”.

    Do you make this stuff up?

    The US and especially Israel, cannot order the STL investigators to do Jack.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 22, 2011, 1:50 pm
  168. Norman says:
    (1) “, the goal is still to provide the people with jobs,clean water, good sanitation,affordable health care and education , any system that can provide these is a successful system ”

    The above is the best example why we disagree so often:-) Do you really think that personal liberty and freedom do not account as long as the trains run on time? If you did believe in that then you would have stayed in Syria.

    (2) I have been an active opponent of the Patriot Act ever since it was proposed in 2001. Yet it is disingenuous to make an argument in favour of brutal dictatorships based on the provisions of the Patriot Act. It did make it easier to search and to detain but it was not a card blanche. The courts have struck down many of its provisions as unconstitutional. Many others expired in 2005. Yes the Patriot Act was an example of how government could abuse its power but it is by no way a justification for authoritarian rule.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 22, 2011, 2:01 pm
  169. Amazing how some Syrians are unable to shake off the Assad regime brainwashing and fear even after living for so many years in the west.

    hmmm Norman can you tell us what happened to those who signed on to the Damascus Spring? where are they now?

    Posted by V | January 22, 2011, 2:27 pm
  170. GK,

    I understand your concern with the Patriot Act. As I understand it, it is NOT a Carte Blanche for the government. I also recall the Obama Adm. extended it. The judicial branch of the US gov’t is quite healthly and often throws out cases where rules were not complied with.

    http://www.npr.org/news/specials/patriotact/patriotactprovisions.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 22, 2011, 2:34 pm
  171. Norm… so you support the Patriot act?

    Posted by Gabriel | January 22, 2011, 2:51 pm
  172. Gabril, 160
    You are right the HA brought down the government over the STL .But that does not prove any thing about who was behind the assassinations.
    You are speculating and creating your own circumstances evidence.
    Reading the text of the agreement jumblat referred to in his press conference, and yet to be contested by Hariri, it is clear that the false witness issue was one of the demands Hariri wanted to go away.
    To make it easy, here the demands by Hariri:
    http://www.yalibnan.com/2011/01/22/full-text-of-the-failed-saudi-syrian-settlement/
    http://www.assafir.com/Article.aspx?EditionId=1752&articleId=2206&ChannelId=41100

    Demands by Hariri:
    Part 1
    -Withdrawal of the false witness’s file
    -The withdrawal of the Syrian arrest warrants.
    -A pledge by the four officers who were arrested not to seek legal battles outside (and inside***) Lebanon.(***Note : yalibnan decided to omit “inside” yet others like Assafir which was the first to obtain this document from jumblat, say inside and outside of Lebanon)
    – Not to interfere or attack Hariri’s team: judge said Mirza – general Riffi – General Hassan .
    Above should be executed in a positive manner.
    The political part:
    -The disarming of Palestinians who live outside of the camps.
    -Conversion of Intelligence department a branch of the security Division.
    -Change voting system for leadership of the internal security forces.
    – Refer the 69 bills which were already approved by the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora directly to the parliament.
    – Implement the Taif accord.
    – Address the issue of internal security outposts
    Demands by opposition:
    -Abolish the cooperation agreement with the International Tribunal.
    – Stop the financing of the Tribunal.
    – Withdraw the Lebanese judges from the Court.
    It is obvious that HARIRI is worried about the false witnesses file. He and his team are hiding things, and would not want them to be investigated. He’s trying to protect his security team, and the judges who kept the four officers in jail. He wants to make sure the four officers won’t peruse legal action. Don’t you wonder why? Don’t you think that : Had Hariri allowed the cabinet to address these issues, things may not have gotten where they are now?

    Posted by The Prophet | January 22, 2011, 2:59 pm
  173. @167
    Apples and oranges. Pressure really depends on the dynamics of the situation. In this case, the US is the driving force behind the STL and we are privy to details of the deal that was being hammered out, the US could easily have smothered any concessions the Saudis were offering….
    The tribunal is 100% political. Every player in this “search for truth and justice” has an agenda and is using the tribunal to push those agendas… The process is flawed beyond hope…
    Yet again, an international conduit that promotes the killing of others so that the neo-con fantasy can be fulfilled….
    The ugly US empire is crumbling before our eyes.

    Posted by Jim | January 22, 2011, 3:03 pm
  174. HP,

    That’s Mufti Qabbani laying down the line that the Sunni sect should not be disrespected!
    Off course that is what the HA/Amal used 2006-2008 when they walked out of the government and called it unconstitutional and against coexistence.

    Off course the same terrorists who burned Beirut neighborhoods in 2008 and used that rationale think that they are playing a legal and constitutional democratic “game”…

    All the commentators who are M8 supporters are showing their hypocrisy when they think that there’s nothing in what HA is doing.

    Sectarian nonsense!

    Posted by danny | January 22, 2011, 3:42 pm
  175. danny,

    I am not sure what to make out of the latest so-called friendly fire that caused some casualties in Mufti Qabbani’s residence.

    Was it really ‘friendly’ fire? Or was it a planned message? Sort of same like last Monday’s maneuvre aimed at WJ.

    Also, news came out that HA is planning to blockade the roads to Baabda on Monday ahead of consultations.

    Also, threats have been used against a hotel in Achrafiyye to prevent convening a March 14 gathering.

    I second you with regards to all these commentators who support HA’s rhetoric and hypocrisy. They’re full blown hypocrites.

    Are these the type of thugs and criminals who think they can rule Lebanon?

    Posted by anonymous | January 22, 2011, 3:55 pm
  176. “Off course the same terrorists who burned Beirut neighborhoods in 2008”

    Should we applaud M14 forces who passed on the telecom maps to France/USA etc (allies of Israel)?

    “All the commentators who are M8 supporters are showing their hypocrisy when they think that there’s nothing in what HA is doing.”

    The rules of the game have changed. The former Prime Minister had a “improper” relationship with a key false witness. Regardless of what was said and not said during the selected audiotapes, Hariri had no business interacting with any witness, and his PERSONAL involvement taints the whole investigation.

    Posted by tamer k. | January 22, 2011, 3:56 pm
  177. tamer k,

    Either you are totally loony tunes or you live in your own Hizbistan. Hariri’s father was assassinated and he has all the rights to meet the possible witnesses that could be supporting his case. Now have a glass of scotch and be happy. There has been no trial yet so please stop this absurd and retarded notion of “false witnesses”.

    … and please!!! Stop this stupid trail of accusations :”Should we applaud M14 forces who passed on the telecom maps to France/USA etc (allies of Israel)?

    You are paranoid and devoid of logic. Considering the intelligence apparatus of both those countries only a brainwashed person will believe in that statement. Who needs who??

    Posted by danny | January 22, 2011, 4:29 pm
  178. Ghassan, 143
    HA struggled for legitimacy and support among the shiia community throughout the eighties, and was only able to succeed after leadership change, in the early nineties.
    The majority of Shiia rejected the doctrine of Toufeilea which called for Islamic state, and the attempt to impose strict social and religious behavior.
    Most people think that it was the success of the resistance that gave HA legitimacy and popular support among shiia. Though the resistance and the credibility of that resistance were very important, HA legitimacy was really created through the conduct of its leadership among Shiia community.
    Compared to what the south was used to; the Asaads, Kalils, and the rest of the traditional families/leadership, along with the corrupt leadership of Amal movement (especially after the disappearance of Imam Sader),HA came out, and represented itself with local leadership which were totally different from what people were used to. People witnessed, what appeared to them, transparency and almost corrupt- free leadership, unlike anything they are used to.
    If you ask people of the south ,which party(Amal or HA) they would trust more with their Municipality, and properties, affair of their towns, or the education of their kids, the majority would tell you it’s HA.
    People had enough of the traditional families who controlled the lives of the southerners for years, and were fed up with the corruption of Amal members/gangs and leaders of the war era.
    Social projects, education, medical assistance, and other services were crucial to the south, and HA provided them. The Lebanese government didn’t, nor did the old traditional families; neither did Amal movement, which looked very promising initially.
    Now, Amal is competing, yet it does not have the determined organization, nor does it have the credibility.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 22, 2011, 4:48 pm
  179. Actually, I second danny’s statement above. Let’s make it personal, shall we?
    If MY father had been assassinated, I would want to do everything to get every bit of information possible, including meeting with folks who pretend to be witnesses and/or informants so I can hear for myself, look into they eyes and make my own opinion based on all information provided AS WELL AS my personal interaction.
    If YOUR father had been assassinated, I would bet you would want to do the same and I challenge anyone here to state that they would not.
    Remember that at the time all this happened, Saad Hariri was not prime minister.

    The whole story fomented by HA about an Israeli plot and all their frantic and desperate actions to abort the STL can only be seen as further evidence of guilt.

    Their whole notion of “resistance” past the Israeli withdrawal of 2000 is nothing but a pretense for maintaining weapons and using them to bully their way into imposing their vision on Lebanon. Whatever they have done since 2000 is NOT in the best interest of anyone in Lebanon and certainly not in the best interest of the Shi3a community. The social benefits they have brought are laudable but alas have been used to bribe their way towards full conformity by the Shi3a community.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 22, 2011, 4:50 pm
  180. and, by the way, Walid Junblatt is crazy. He is also a coward who was intimidated by the May 2008 vicious, illegal, and despicable assault and just retreated ever since.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 22, 2011, 4:52 pm
  181. Nabi:

    Yes, I do partially wonder why. I think the whole thing is odd, but I don’t think its completely not understandable.

    My view is simple. I always try to take the other side.

    Let’s say there is some merit to pursuing “false witnesses”.

    Let us say, you investigate, and there is truth in everything the Opposition is saying. Let’s say, the US/Israel/Hariri/Anti-Syrian figure paid off Fulan to say X,Y,Z about Syria.

    Where are we at the end of the day? We prove that US/Israel/Hariri/Anti-Syrian figure sought to take political advantage of the assassination to score political goals.

    But we are not 1 step closer to solving the question of who did the assassination.

    Look, I don’t know if HA did it, or if HA didn’t do it. But as I wrote above, whatever political decisions they are taking are not addressing the assassinations themselves, or helping to find who did them.

    What’s more, in my view, everytime HN shows videos of drones, listening devices, etc. He makes his case worse, because he simply reaffirms that HA’s intelligence networks are quite busy collecting data, and it makes the fact that he was not privy or completely unaware of plans of not 1 assassination, but a number of them even that much harder to believe.

    Is that proof? No. But as I wrote to JoeM earlier, at the very least, we should all be able to agree that for whatever else, the positions held by the Opposition in general are not those in line with the goal of solving the assassination cases.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 22, 2011, 5:00 pm
  182. On the “false witnesses” issues, I really don’t quite understand why not pursue every one of those who gave wrong and misleading information. QN has pointed out several times that addressing this issue was botched royally by M14. It remains a mystery as to why they have done that and it is fair to ask for full accountability for the behavior towards this issue as well as the elucidation of the issue itself.

    Maybe someone can explain the technicalities that caused M14 to take this attitude against pursuing those who gave false and misleading information, particularly Husam Husam who is now in Syria. This is quite confusing and diminishes what otherwise is a principled position by M14.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 22, 2011, 5:18 pm
  183. NOTE TO ANYONE WHO IS READING THE COMMENTS BUT NOT PARTICIPATING IN THE DISCUSSION…

    This blog’s comment section used to have a much larger pro-Hizbullah/March 8th contingent than it does today, where the M14 groupies seem to be in the majority. (It goes back and forth.) Please don’t let that dissuade you from commenting here. I personaly like to see a diversity of opinion, as long as everyone is being respectful of the other.

    One group that is in especially short supply is the Aounists. I wish there more of them around, but they all seem to migrate to the Orange Room.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 22, 2011, 5:30 pm
  184. HP,

    There is no such issue of so-called “false witnesses”. This whole thing is an invention of HA in order not to answer to its role in all the crimes that it will soon be accused of. HA knows it cannot face the evidence which will clearly prove its responsibility.

    Posted by anonymous | January 22, 2011, 5:36 pm
  185. Gabie,
    Just like you, I don’t know who did what, nor do I know who is innocent or guilty.
    In any murder case, investigators must look for people who gain from such a crime.
    I don’t see HA gaining as a result of the assassination of Hariri. I think they had the most to loose.
    I’m not one of those who blindly accuse Israel, though it has the motives and the know how to conduct such an operation.
    As for Nassralla’s evidence, it is not his job to provide evidence or leads.
    It will take some leak somewhere, sometime, for us to know the truth. I’m not counting much, on the STL to give me the truth.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 22, 2011, 5:50 pm
  186. Gabie,
    After noticing you calling me Nabi,MY Wife warned me not to expect to be called Nabi at home ,lol

    Posted by The Prophet | January 22, 2011, 6:05 pm
  187. Prophet
    I have noticed thatboth you and Joe m are talking abou a slightly different form of legitimacy than the one I am talking about.
    In my mind legitimacy is different than popularity. A group could be legitimate in a society although it has a very small membership and in the same token a group might be illegitimate despite its large numbers.So what is legitimation? “It is a process by which cultured accounts from a larger social framework…explain and support the existence of that social entity
    Action by the group mediate the process although ultimately the process is a collective one.”

    Hezbollah like most such groupd did not enjoy much legitimacy although they were successful against Israel. They remained on the periphery of legitimacy until the 2006 war. That is when the Lebanese political parties and a large cross section of the Lebanese people started to deal with HA and the resistance as legitimate. They became part of the cabinet with a veto power, they dictated policy and they had strong relations with numerous groups all throught Lebanon. Note also that the policies of Saniora were guided to a large extent by the principle of gaurding the Resistance. HA did become a major legitimate player but only as a result of the behaviour of March 14 and other elements in the Lebanese society.
    What I am finding paradoxical is that ,if I am right, the way that HA is dealing with the STL is going to lead to a deligitimation of the process. Its enemies; obviously affected by its actions; have given it legitimation while its own action might reverse the proces by taking it away HA would have completed the circle by going from deligitimate organization to a legitimate one and back to a deligitimate status.

    (I am assuming that the STL will provide a solid case, not a smoking gun but a solid case none the less. I have the right to expect that because the history of such institutions favour this. You and others who criticize the STL stand on thin ice since you are only guessing that they will not have a case. If they do not I will be the first to say so but it is a stretch to deny ones culpability before one knows what is the exact accusation.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 22, 2011, 6:27 pm
  188. anon, even though legally there is no such thing as “false witnesses,” from a public relations and messaging perspective, M14 could have and should have handled this issue much better than they did instead of allowing the other party to paint it as an obstruction of transparency.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 22, 2011, 6:50 pm
  189. Ghassan,
    Who determine the legitimacy of a group of people or a political party?
    What criteria are you using to determine the legitimacy of a political/religious party, which is worst case scenario, represent 60% of its immediate community?

    According to wikipedia; “Legitimation is the act of providing legitimacy. Legitimation in the social sciences refers to the process whereby an act, process, orideology becomes legitimate by its attachment to norms and values within in given society. It is the process of making something acceptable and normative to a group or audience”

    “the legitimation of power can be understood using Max Weber’s traditional bases of power. In a bureaucracy, people gain legitimate use of power by their positions in which it is widely agreed that the specified person hold authority.”

    You say: “They remained on the periphery of legitimacy until the 2006 war. That is when the Lebanese political parties and a large cross section of the Lebanese people started to deal with HA and the resistance as legitimate. They became part of the cabinet with a veto power,…”

    We both know that they became part of the cabinet before 2006 war. I disagree with you on this. A political party or political group can be legitimate without having to be part of the political process of a state.
    During the war, they were part of the decision process.

    If, as you say, the incompetence of M14 gave them more legitimacy, then they have been gaining more legitimacy and credibility as a result of their cleverness. Is being politically savvy and clever wrong?
    As for the STL, we agreed to disagree on the credibility of the STL, and every day that goes by, and every leaked tape we watch, it chips away from the credibility of the STL.
    Had the STL,AND The Hariri cabinet( now we know why) dealt properly with the credulity issues it faced month ago, The opposition would not have been able to hold M14 by the neck. The process would have been more transparent, and fewer people would have been able to criticize the credibility of the STL.

    I quote you: “the way that HA is dealing with the STL is going to lead to a deligitimation of the process”. What does that say about the process itself? How could a process which had been established by the united nation, and enjoys the support of most nations be allowed (by a small group) to be deligitimized so easily? Don’t you think there is some thing wrong with such a process?
    I will reiterate two things I’ve said in the past:
    1- Although I think, most of what the indictment contains is already out in the open, the day I see solid/concrete evidence( not just communication data, or some shady witness) which could not have been compromised, I will side with you, and say that the process should go further, and convict who ever did it.
    2-I made a bet that the indictment would be leaked entirely before it is officially released by the pre jury judge, and I will repeat again, knowing that if I Lose, I’m buying you dinner .lol

    Posted by The Prophet | January 22, 2011, 7:45 pm
  190. GK,

    I want the best for Lebanon and i think you do too,so here we agree,
    I did not leave Syria because i could not say what i wanted, i was in Syria in the late seventies and there were many things to talk about,and i did not come to the US for the ability to vote , as i have no illusion that my vote can change nothing, the state that i am in never voted for the president of my choice except in 1984,and 2008,

    V,
    I do not care about people who did nothing to improve the lives of ordinary Syrians, you know they can do that through charities , they are very good at criticizing and poor at doing for their fellow Syrians

    Gabe,

    Yes, I am for the Patriot Act and for strengthening it and if the US had the brain at that time, 9/11/2001 would have never happened, no foreign national from KSA would have been in the US without being watched,It is the source of terrorism .
    Not Syria, Iraq, there are restriction on people coming from Syria more then from KSA even now with 17/19 hijackers are from Saudi Arabia .

    The problem in Lebanon that there are problems and you,instead of debating on how to solve them you spend your time debating on who is better to solve them,Hariri, Karami,Auon, Berri, HA and others,

    Write down the problems of Lebanon all of them Arms in the Palestinian camps , Arms of HA , inequality between the people of Lebanon, should the Lebanese outside the country be able to vote, rule of foreign money and what Israel does,that is something you can learn from them , write all the problem and be honest about how to solve them .you will be doing something for Lebanon as I am sure that this Blog is followed by people in the Lebanese government or people who are interested in solving Lebanon’s problems ,

    I think that is the way that you can help .

    Posted by Norman | January 22, 2011, 8:42 pm
  191. Prophet,
    There is not much to disagree about when it comes to the process of ligitimation and deligitimation. the definitions that you quote from wikipedia are not any different that what I stated. Both of these explanations rest on the work of Weber, Habermas and Berger . And yes legitimation and its counter part are a cultural process that involves interactions by all actors. There is no specific measure of detremining when exactly a person/group/idea/state becomes legitimate. It just evolves
    My only point was and still is that HA won total legitimacy as a result of the 2006 waras a result, partially, of the way that it was treated by its “enemies” March14. That was 4 years ago. I am proposing, and time will tell, thatits behviour over the past few months seems to be leading to a deligitimation. And that is ironic.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 22, 2011, 10:00 pm
  192. HA was never legitimate except in the eyes of its base community which blindly follows its leader much like fascist groups that follow blindly.

    It began as a terrorist organization and continued its path by following the dictates of Iran and Syria. It further relied on blackmail, coercion and the language of threats to achieve political aims.

    Soon we will confirm it committed horrible crimes against political figures. Its May 7 crimes are already well documented not to mention its responsibility for all the casualties and damages as a result of the 2006 war.

    By all standards it is an illegitimate organization. So I differ with Ghassan on this point. HA knows it has no legitimacy and that is why it continues to behave the only it can behave because it has nothing to lose. How can you lose something you never had?

    Posted by anonymous | January 22, 2011, 10:26 pm
  193. Please read above:

    …the only way it can behave…

    Posted by anonymous | January 22, 2011, 10:49 pm
  194. anon,
    I have been strongly opposed to HA , on ideological grounds for years and I have been equally opposed to the idea of their militia as well as their tactics. Yet I have to admit that the semblance of legitimacy that has been won by HA is essentially as a result of the acts of the Seniora government followed by that of S’ad Hariri. Manyin Lebanon and outside had to modify their outlook towards HA when the Lebanese cabinet agreed to offer them and their allies veto power in the cabinet, when Mr.Seniora argued for international measures designed to protect HAand when the official statement issued by the cabinet during its confirmation stage recognized HA and implicitly its militia just to name 3 major issues. Is it possible to argue that the cabinet would offer up to one third of its seats to a group led by an illegitimate leadership? Why should the government take an international stand to protect an illegitimate faction? You could argue and I would agree that they did that under duress but what is important in this case is that March 14 acted as if HA is legitimate and the mantel stuck. Would they mange to strengthen this social reality or would they lose it as a result of their reaction to the STL? I am betting that they will deligitimate themselves.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 22, 2011, 10:59 pm
  195. Ghassan,

    You can compare the actions of Seniora and other M14 figures to those of Chamberlaine’s actions (or lack thereof) with Hitler. You can condmen Chamberlaine for his appeasement policy or you and defend him by arguing he was doing what was perceived to be in the best interests of Britain.

    Now, the key word in your last comment is the term semblance of legitimacy which makes your comment logical. Well, Hitler may have gained that same semblance and particularly among the Nazis and the other fascists. But was he really considered fully legitimate at any time with the rest of the world? Well, may be with Russia for a while until he showed his real self. But for all practical purpose, he was never ligitimate.

    I am afraid to say that humans (polticiams in particular) are very prone to fall in the same errors all the time.

    Can you not say the same thing about March 14 when they had the ability to vote Berri out of the Speaker Position when they had the ability and failed to do it? You may also say the same thing about Harriri for not forming a majority government in the first place and also blame Suleiman for ruling that out thus setting the stage for the creation of this mammoth of so-called ‘unity-nongovernment’.

    Posted by anonymous | January 23, 2011, 12:00 am
  196. anon,192
    Kessler, Daniela’s quote came to my mind. Take it as an advice, life is too short.
    she says:
    “Learn to understand that which you hate and fear, then the fear will fade and hatred will cease.”

    There is no point in arguing with you about your definition of terrorism or who is a terrorist, and who is not.
    It’s ironic that Lebanese who, for over 15 years, made it a daily habit to murder each other, shell each other’s neighborhoods, and kidnap each other based on their religious affiliation, have the nerve to characterize each other as terrorist. lol
    200 thousand Lebanese, who lost their lives during the warlords’ wars, didn’t commit suicide.
    I’m not the type that prays for dead or alive people, but a minute of silence and reflection would serve as a good prayer for those who died senselessly.
    That takes me back to the discussion that went on last week, at this forum, about the national identity of a state, or the lack of.
    When the same people ,who are from the same race, color, and sometimes same faith can’t agree on who their enemy is, and what priorities they have in common, it becomes very clear that a lot of work needs to be done before they can call themselves a nation.
    I sometimes wish that my anger would make me hate my enemy, But I can’t hate them, instead I hate what they do, and feel sorry for them because they will always be miserable, never be happy.

    Posted by prophett | January 23, 2011, 1:24 am
  197. Ghassan 191
    I know you have been predicting the downfall of HA ,and I have no way of guessing how things will turn out.
    I don’t underestimate the seriousness of the situation that they are in now. This could be the most serious and dangerous crisis HA is facing.
    whether they survive this crisis or not, I don’t know,but what I know is that HA will definitely emerge a different party,even if the survive . Regardless of what the STL and the verdict are, the damage has already been done.

    Posted by prophett | January 23, 2011, 1:33 am
  198. Nabi #186

    Tell your wife she needs to step it up :D.

    #185:

    I agree with your point. If HA were involved, it would be the silliest strategic move they did, and HA is not a group that had done many strategic errors. So in that sense, I am quite baffled.

    At the same time, I know that there are segments of Leb society that were not happy with Solidere or Hariri, but in my view, he was a Plus to the country. He didn’t come from one of the traditional families who ran the show. He was a peacemaker. (Back then he was already making positive overtures to Aoun who was then in the Syrian bad books). Whatever else one thinks of him, he was certainly a much better character than most people you find in the political scene nowadays.

    Ditto for some of the other assassinated figures. High on that list is Kassir, who was the sort of secular democratic voice we all relate to.

    Look at who’s left in “M14”. Dithering Jumblatt (one day he’s here, on day he’s there), Geagea, characters nobody knows. And a political neophyte, Hariri Jnr.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 23, 2011, 2:07 am
  199. Norm:

    I am not here to debate whether Karami or Aoun or Hariri Jnr is better for Lebanon. I am here only interested in the string of political assassinations.

    It is for the Lebanese who vote, and whose lives and livelihoods depend on it to decide which leader will establish socio-economic policies that best reflect their needs. Frankly, I know nothing about the policies each individual brings to the table. The only thing I gather from reading the news is X calls Y a swindler and a thief, and Y comes back at X with the same charges.

    You come from a profoundly different philosophical and political school of thought, which I disagree with profoundly at so many levels.

    But then, you support the regime in Syria, so perhaps you don’t put as much value to personal liberty and freedoms.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 23, 2011, 2:17 am
  200. The string of political assassinations in the Levant were carried out by the Infamous White House Murder INC, with Asef SHAWKAT at the Helm since January 24th 2002. Asef SHAWKAT is a thug, a criminal and an assassin. Asef SHAWKAT is the Liaison with CIA. He carried out these assassinations, often times willingly, and sometimes he was Bamboozled into believing that he was acting in the Syrian National Interest…
    Hezbollah has nothing to do with the assassinations, but Syria’s colors keep changing like Jumblatt’s…and the infamous White House Murder INC, has Hizbullah in its eye sights since 1983…and STL is the latest concoction of the Israeli/American war criminals.
    HIZBULLAH has grown to be a Nationalist Lebanese Resistance to the continuous Israeli/American aggressions on Lebanese Sovereignty, especially in 93, 96, 2006 and its still ongoing with daily overflights…
    The Lebanese are tired of the utterly corrupt and criminal Marc14th puppets and 90% of Lebanese consider Geagea and Gemayels and Hariris to be utterly corrupt, criminals and traitors, notwithstanding the views of most here…and the various agents provocateurs who come on board here…to fan the flames…
    Hizbullah will defend Lebanon to the last drop of blood of the valiant Lebanese fighters, no matter what is thrown at them by the criminal crumbling Empire…, against daily Israeli/American aggression.
    ALL Lebanese have understood very well the machinations of the Western thugs.

    Posted by Jim | January 23, 2011, 5:43 am

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