A Maverick’s trip to the hinterland -2
Posted by worriedlebanese on 19/12/2008
Samir Geagea said he was “worried about MP Michel Aoun’s political situation in the wake of his visit to Syria”. By visiting his former foe, did Michel Aoun play his last political card? Is it a political suicide? Will his supporters accept it, would they vote for him during the next elections?
These are the questions that many Lebanese and foreign analysts have been asking themselves since the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement announced his visit to Syria.
It’s too early to the judge, and the coming parliamentary elections will certainly give us a clearer indication on the consequences of the visit. One thing is for sure, it’s a very surprising move and one with a strong symbolic effect for Lebanese and Syrians alike. For many years, Aoun was the symbol of anti-syrian sentiment in both countries. And now he comes to Syria, as a friend… and a Christian.
Aoun’s visit to Syria is certainly a very daring political move. It certainly shows how independent-minded the leader of the FPM is, and how he refuses to conform even to the particular party and group that he has constituted, and moves in a way that seems to disavow two of the FPM’s trademarks: its anti-syrian sentiment and its commitment to secularism.
Having voted for that party during the last two elections, I was a bit flustered when I heard about the trip. I didn’t feel “betrayed” because of it. I too consider that relations with Syria should be normalised, and I have been visiting that country regularly since its government withdrew its troops from my country (and refrained from doing it before that date). I had witnessed the negative impact the discourse of the “March 14th” coalition had on the relations between the two people. And I thought that something should be done about it. But when Aoun announced he was visiting Syria, I felt that he was playing into regional politics, that he was sacrificing internal politics to geopolitics (like all the rest of the Lebanese political actors); something that is quite apparent in his discourse, but that he seemed to be putting into action.