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)