Obama’s failure and Lebanon’s elections

Obama has now put a definitive end to any hopes for actual change in or outside the US – imagine the first ever non-white US president, explicitly claiming the inheritance of ML King, boycotting a UN conference on racism to protect a racist colonial apartheid system across the ocean… That is after refusing to cancel Bush’s orders on wiretapping, refusing to prosecute torturers, propping his government full of Wall Street cronies who continue to hand all of the country’s debts to the banks, and reneging on his campaign promise not to prosecute medical marihuana suppliers in the US, to name but a few of the more obvious facts. Change indeed. To be fair, virtually all of Europe’s governments are complicit in this absurd refusal to recognise the obvious facts about Palestine that their populations have no problem to see. And of course the mainstream press is at hand to enthusiastically butcher Ahmadinejad’s speech at the conference, which in itself was hardly shocking at all – and therefore remains studiously unquoted in said press.

Meanwhile, the senile pharao of Egypt continues to dig his own grave by attacking his nemesis Nasrallah – foolishly thinking that people are going to be shocked to learn that Hizballah has been… gasp… helping arm the Palestinians! Dude, that is their founding principle, and they are damn proud of it – as witnessed by Nasrallah’s triumphant speech immediately after Mubarak’s accusations. To think that the guy actually believed it was going to cost them votes in the upcoming elections – 2 billion dollars a year sure can blind a president-for-life way beyond the power of alzheimer… He even prompted the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt to finally and unequivocally declare its support for Hizballah.

And speaking about dollars and elections, the Saudis and their American allies are sparing no effort in their desperate attempt to avert the imminent loss of the ‘government’ to the ‘opposition’ in Lebanon. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent buying votes, setting up attempts at ‘anti-Hizballah shia parties’ (usually consisting of one deposed feudal landlord and his family) and flying in any expats who want a free holiday to the home country. A friend who works for a car rental agency in Beirut told me they are fully booked for the next month (crisis? what crisis?), and all of the many Lebanese expat customers want the highest range models, seeing as they got their plane ticket for free and therefore have a higher budget this year (which, being Lebanese, they naturally spend on a flashy car). For an amusing overview of the actual advertising campaigns, see this blog, which also refers to Jumblatt’s recent ‘leaked phone video’ stint, where he is seen and heard to say that ‘ the sunnis and ‘those people’ (ie the christians) tried to set the druze up against the shia [last may], when the 1000 fighters the sunnis imported from the north lasted exactly 15 minutes against the shia and the christians stood by the side and watched’. He also referred to Samir Geagea (Lebanese Forces) as ‘shu ismu hayda’ (i.e. ‘what’s his face’) and generally made it clear that alliances have changed, in a purposeful message preparing the way to jump the sinking ship. Leaked video my eye – this was a top meeting between the political and religious leadership of the druze on an intra-druze reconciliation event in Choueifat between Jumblatt’s PSP and Arslan’s party – which is with the opposition. Nobody leaks a video out of there without Jumblatt’s personal approval.  You gotta hand it to the man: from standing there last may famously stating ‘You want war? Bring it on! You want chaos? Ahlan-wa-sahlan, habibi!’ – to now playing the misguided victim of his ‘evil (ex-)allies’… all in just under one year’s time – that’s impressive.

In any case, in all but three or four (christian) constituencies in and around Beirut, the result is already more or less decided anyway, with either one person running uncontested for one seat (after a lot of cowtowing behind the scenes, both within and among the various parties, blocs and alliances) or the entire constituency consistently voting for one party – or person – anyway. This is reinforced by the confessional nature of the entire election system, which allocates a strict number of seats to each of the various sects and furthermore limits important functions such as the presidency, prime ministership and presidency of the parliament to one sect. Which is why many Lebanese are not bothering to vote at all – unless they can sell their vote to the highest bidder (or at least get some money from the one they want to vote for in the first place). Interestingly, the thing that scares the shit out of many in M14 (and beyond) most, is not the rpospect of Hizballah involving them in another Israeli invasion, or even a Hizballah gobvernment being given the cold shoulder by the west – as happened to the democratically elected Hamas government in Palestine – but the fact that Hizballah are the only ones to want to do away with the sectarian distribution of parliament seats – not illogically, seeing as the shia are the majority group now. This would not only bring the Lebanese political system closer to democracy, it would also force a lot of the complacent feudal and clan-based politicians to actually have a political or economic program to run on, beyond the ‘elect me because I’m the head of your family/religion/clan/militia/whatever’-type slogans that seem to be the only platform many candidates propose right now. And the large majority of them are not in a position to do so. Hizballah, like most islamist movements and parties,  also puts a lot of stress – and not only in their slogans – on fighting corruption and nepotism.  And that scares the shit out of Lebanon’s political bozos even more.

2 thoughts on “Obama’s failure and Lebanon’s elections

  1. While I don’t suport any of Lebanon’s politcal bozos, your post is somewhat out-dated and contains what appear to be a few major presumptions as well.

    1) The Muslim Brotherhood, after sensing that in Egypt at least, Hezbollah’s antics were not going down well, have withdrawn their initial support and soundly condemned Nasrallah’s actions.

    2) You assume the Shia are a majority – how is it that you come to that conclusion? And by majority, do you mean by this the largest single sectarian group (with which I would have no quibble) or do you mean as an overall total majority of Lebanese society (in which case, I would wonder where you have come by that information).

    3) I doubt sincerely that many people are as equivocal about another Israeli invasion as you suggest and then to finesse that remark by suggesting that the only people who are scared are those who depend on the sectarian system for their seats (cf Hezbollah) is to do a country that has suffered far too much in the past thanks to ill-advised leadership and rapacious amoral neighbours a massive disservice.

  2. Ed,

    1) have they? at the time of writing, only three days ago, they had just announced their support and I still haven’t seen any retraction of that.
    2) the largest single sectarian group, of course – there is no such thing as a majority sectarian group in Lebanon
    3) you seem to assume a lot here and frankly if you read the passage again, you will notice I didn’t say anything of the kind – firstly I was talking about politicians and not the general population, secondly I didn’t talk about them being afraid or not in absolute terms but being more scared of one thing than of another – and I am positively puzzled at your suggestion that only Hezbollah ‘depend on the sectarian system for their seats’ and that they are the ones who are scared…

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