Is he or isn’t he?

So consensus has been reached – or has it? Yesterday it was announced (entirely unrelated of course to the Syrian-US meeting at Annapolis, which only coincidentally happened to be held on the same day…) that Michel Aoun supported the candidacy of the commander in chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces, who is widely seen as a ‘neutral’ figure, largely because of his proven commitment over the past year to keep the army from taking sides in the political standoff. Today, it turned out that al Assad’s – oops, sorry: Aoun’s support was conditional, the condition being that Suleiman appoint a ‘neutral’ new prime minister. Rather than taking a hurdle away that is more like just placing it a few meters further. So now, after finding a neutral christian president, the two sides are going to have track down a neutral sunnite prime minister – the two sides of course being Syria and the US, as the utter irrelevance of their local representatives has now been established beyond any doubt. Berri obligingly postponed the date for the parliamentary approval routine for the sixth time in a row, to December 7th. Meanwhile, Lebanese politicians keep reciting their mantras of defending the sovereignty and assuring the independance of the country. Nobody bothers to listen anymore. The upside of this utter powerlessness of the political elite is, however, that they are unable for now to unleash their various random geezers with guns to terrorize the population, and people can at least get on with their lives while the politicos do their haggling over dividing the loot.

In sadly related news, meanwhile, check out this article on Menassat about the Syrian censorship excesses ravaging the country’s internet these days. They recently stooped down to new depths by blocking Facebook, for heaven’s sake (which, in today’s Middle East, is much like abolishing the postal service.. ). If the level of censorship is a measure of the regime’s self-confidence and security, Bashar must be pretty nervous right now. The house of Saud, on the other hand, as I can personally testify from right where I am sitting now (a Starbucks branch in Jeddah) is showing every sign of security and supreme self-confidence…

2 thoughts on “Is he or isn’t he?

  1. I don’t understand your insinuation that Aoun’s decision is connected to Syria. He had always said he didn’t mind Suleiman. The issue back then was the constitution which would bar Suleiman from the presidency. The same constitution that was used as an excuse* a week ago when Aoun suggested another compromise, and was shot down by March 14.

    The rhetorical gymnastics this group is playing on us is too egregious for us to give them an iota of cover for the sake of ‘everyone’s-to-blame’ even-handed. US policy is still the number one threat. Let’s not forget that.

    *This is not to mention that the whole issue was a straw man. The compromise didn’t need a constitutional change.

  2. Jad,
    you’re right of course – it’s M14 that’s been doing a sharp turnaround… It’s especially entertaining to see Jumblatt taking one of his sharpest curbs in a long time… you gotta hand it to the Roadrunner:it’s amazing how fast this man can change sides and move from one extreme to the other. Talk about flexible minds!
    Those who have been saying all along that it is the ‘unwavering’ support of the US that prevented the ‘anti-Syrian’ block from giving in even an inch to the ‘opposition’ have been proven right very convincingly. Those who told the M14 they are idiots to believe the US gives a flying baby shit about democracy and sovereignty for Lebanon (or for anyone else for that matter) were spot-on as well. Now if Syria is going to let go of their partisans too, maybe everyone will come to their senses and start dealing directly with their fellow countrymen instead of relying on outside parties (well, probably not, it’s hardly the first time in recent history that the truth has hit Lebanon this hard…)

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