Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Ahmad Assaad, a Shiite Samir Frangieh

Posted by worriedlebanese on 01/02/2007


The newspapers reported today the speech Ahmad Assaad’s gave on Tuesday in Srifa during an Adha commemoration ceremony he organised. Ahmad Assaad is from a prominent Shiite family and has created a political movement called Kafaat (ie Competence). He was unsuccessful in the 2005 Parliamentary elections where he was severely defeated by the quadripartite alliance (Hezbollah, Amal, Hariri’s Future Movement and Jumblatt’s PSP).
The Shiites, he declared, do not identify at all with those who wage demagogical and barbaric actions pretending to act in their name.

It is obviously a positive thing to have a dissenting voice within a community. It can keep the debate going within a community on the condition that it is heard within its community and not only outside it.
Ahmad Assaad’s stand reminded me of that of Samir Frangieh’s throughout the 1980s and 1990s when he was successively pro-Palestinian and pro-Syrian (albeit a moderate one) while the community to which he belonged was mostly and consecutively anti-Palestinian and unabashedly anti-Syrian.
The only way Samir Frangieh won credentials within his community (and honestly not much) was through the support of a prominent academic and undeclared political figure, the Jesuit Rector Selim Abou, and the Maronite Patriarch. But even with their support, he only gained entrance to the Lebanese parliament in 2005 with Saad Hariri’s backing and through Sunni votes (only 1/3 of the Christians in his constituency voted for him).
Ahmad Assaad does not yet enjoy the support of Shiite clerics, though his political stands do not differ much from Sheikh Mohamad Hassan Amine’s. But his combat seems rather doomed because of the way he attacks the party that enjoys the largest support from his community; just as Samir Frangieh’s anti-Kataeb and anti-Lebanese Forces stands in the 1980s and anti-Aounist stands in the 1990s.
The question is not whether he should or he shouldn’t attack Hezbollah, but how he can do it while gaining the support of the Shiites. In other words, his challenge is to present an alternative to the Shiites and convince those who are supporting Hezbollah of following him. He certainly does not have much to gain by attacking Hezbollah’s choice as un-Lebanese amounts while the community is being in many ways politically ostracised by the leadership of other communities.
Ahmad Assaad (Orient-Le Jour)
Ahmad Assaad (Daily Star)


4 Responses to “Ahmad Assaad, a Shiite Samir Frangieh”

  1. ghassan said

    it seems that the author is ignorant of the real representative value of Mr Frangieh on the political scene; it’s very unjust to compare him to Mr Asaad ; and bytheway ; MP Samir Frangieh was never a pro-syrian.

  2. I wouldn’t speak of representative value but of the electoral weight. The figure I mentioned in my post can be verified in the figures published by the Lebanese Press following the 2005 parliamentary elections (i concede that it is a rough approximation).
    I don’t see why it is unfair to compare him to Ahmad Assad. They are both from traditional political families (remember the speach Samir Frangieh gave when the electoral results were published “Hamid Frangieh’s house will never be closed”… and his son is being groomed to inherit this seat). And they have both opposed the majority trend within their community. The latter point was the one I was trying to make, but which you obviously missed.
    As for the “pro-Syrian”, we could argue this qualification endlessly. The meaning of pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian is quite relative. Before 2005, if one asked for the withdrawal of Syrian troops he was called an “anti-Syrian”. In 2007, if one doesn’t call for the toppling of the Assad regime, he is called a “pro-Syrian”.
    I had heard in the 1990s Samir Frangieh argue that one shouldn’t call for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. Until 2005 (year of the withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon), he had repetedly said that all he wanted was to ammend the Lebanese-Syrian relations, and he refused to talk of Syrian occupation. He even called extremists those who asked for the withdrawal of the Syrian troops (I wish I had taped this discussion). In my view, this is pro-Syrian.

  3. I am looking for a friend of mine named Richard Frangieh. He owned a house in Fairfax, Virginia USA in the 1990 – 1992 range (Joyce Drive). I rented a room from him. He was great! Where is he now?

  4. I’m sorry John, But i do not know the person. Good luck in your quest.

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