Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

The Zaïm’s magical power

Posted by worriedlebanese on 10/12/2006

Faith might move mountains, but what brings together a fragmented nation? These two years have told us that it’s probably the alliance of two zaïms (or more)!

Since the Syrian evacuation, the different Lebanese zaïms have revealed their true power, and it’s magical: they can bring about ‘national reconciliation’, mix people of all walks of life and of different faiths, get them to embrace yesterday’s enemy, sing his partisan hymns, walk under his partisan flag, borrow his political slogans. There seems to be nothing a Lebanese zaïm can’t make his followers do.

Does that mean that their followers behave like sheep, that they follow the heard wherever it goes? I don’t think so. Instead of attacking the people, those who are not comfortable with the present situation and mobilisation, should try to see how these zaïm exert their powers, what makes them so effective, and what there exact effect are.

– How did Sitrida Geagea manage in 2005 to bring hundreds and hundreds of muslim Sunnis to Bechari (a very Maronite christian town) during her electoral campaign?
– How did Walid Jumblatt convince his men to walk behind the Kataeb flag?
– How did Michel Aoun manage to persuade his (mostly Christian) followers to back Hezbollah today and participate in all the demonstrations they are waging?

A dozen different questions then flock to mind. What role does the media and the political system play in it? What about the influence of money and clientelist pressure? And last but not least, for how long do the accomplishements of the zaïms last?


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