Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

What Future for the Future Movement

Posted by worriedlebanese on 14/07/2009

Picture 1I stumbled upon a very small news item yesterday that wasn’t given much attention by the Press. Samir Doumit, the former head of the Lebanese Order of Engineers, replaced Salim Diab as head of the temporary commission to restructure the Future Movement. I found this information quite interesting.

Second reform committee, two years after foundation

Hardly two years after the establishment of the Future Movement as a political party, a second committee will be studying new strategies for reform. And interestingly enough, the Prime Minister designate chose a Christian (among his faithfuls) to head this committee. What does this signal? I believe that the picture above says it all. This poster is a follow up to Future Movement’s electoral campaign “As long as the sky is blue”… Here what it says: “We are all under Lebanon’s skies” and it is signed Saad Hariri. On the bottom of the picture, you find the top part of 6 flags that are actually rather easy to recognise: Future Movement (property of the Hariri family), Amal (property of Nabih Berri), Hezbollah, Ishtiraki (property of the Joumblatt family), Kataeb (property of the Gemayel family ) or Lebanese Forces (property of Samir Geagea), and the FPM (property of Michel Aoun).

The message is clear: Hariri and his Future Movement are above the political bikering and divisions. They represent a united trans-communal Lebanon. All this is very nice, but it faces one big problem: reality. Saad Hariri is a Sunni Za’im, and Future Movement is an overwhelmingly sunni party, a mostly sunni KSA backed clientelist network, supported by two funds (educational and socio-medical) and linked to a media group that shares the same name.

Politically, tt gathered about 70% of Sunni votes nationwide during the last elections, reinforcing the results it had 4 years back. But interestingly enough, its political message & slogans are rather similar to those of the Kataeb party in the 1960s, and so are its ambitions. Will the Future Movement succeed where the Kataeb failed, and grow beyond the confines of its communal group? Only time will tell. The movement has already adopted all the Kataeb slogans and big chunk of its ideology. This will certainly bring many Christians closer to it. But how close will they get, and how long will they stay. Will it be able to keep the large Sunni support if it mutates to a truly multi-confessional party?

600px-Flag_of_the_Future_Movement.svg

What the Press had to say about this new nomination

I searched a great number of Lebanese newspapers to find some more information about this replacement, but I found none. They all said pretty much the same, basing their report on a statement to the Press issued by Future Movement. Here’s how the Daily Star reproduced the press release:

The Media Department of the Future Movement issued a statement Sunday saying the movement’s leader Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri assigned a temporary commission to restructure the Future Movement and take over the responsibilities of the outgoing general coordinator of the party, former MP Salim Diab. The statement said the Future Movement leadership took the decision “unanimously” in a meeting attended by Diab. Hariri praised the efforts of the resigning coordinator.

As you can see, there’s very little information. No background information on Samir Doumit, no short interview asking him about his program, no assessments of the challenges he is likely to face, or the goals that Future Movement wants to achieve. There is not even a line on what Salim Diab had achieved when he held the helm.

5 Responses to “What Future for the Future Movement”

  1. Odd… But inspiring indeed!! The Future Movement, a powerfull multiconfessional party?!

    Mind if I aggregate this post?

    • Not at all. Go ahead. It might spark some debate.
      As for the multi-confessional character of the Future Movement, that’s the image the party already gives today. Take a look at its parliamentary bloc, Lebanon First:
      – 15 Sunni MPs,
      – 11 Christian MPs,
      – 2 Shiite MPs,
      – 2 Alawite MPs
      .
      And you should also add to the list at least 5 MPs who are either presented as independent or are lent to other parliamentary blocs to give them more weight in Parliament (Walid Joumblat’s “Democratic Gathering” & Nicholas Fattouch’s “Zahle in the Heart”).

      This multi-confessional character is only an image and hardly translates politically or even reflects what lies behind the façade. Saad Hariri with the help of Samir Doumit and Saatchi & Saatchi is probably trying to change that. The gradual (but sure) disintegration of March XIV® (that Future Movement is contributing to) will surely benefit this strategy. But how likely is it to succeed?

  2. PN said

    Hi WL,

    I’ve been following your comments on QN’s blog for a while now and I finally managed to surf your blog. Nice work.

    So, do you really believe that “FPM is property of Michel Aoun”? As an FPM’er, I do not think I am anyone’s property. Besides, am still waiting for an answer on the Banana Republic!

    Looking fwd to your upcoming post on “3 Steps for change: Bringing women into politics… massively!”

    Regards.

    • Hey PN,
      I’m glad you found your way here, and thanks for the compliment. Let me answer your questions and then allow me to ask you a couple myself.

      Sorry for not answering your Banana Republic question, I thought you said it jokingly. It’s just a derogatory expression, you know. For more details check this wiki entry.

      As for the FPM being Michel Aoun’s property, don’t take it personal, I meant it the exact way as when I say the Future Movement is Hariri’s property, Amal is Nabih Berri’s property, Ishtiraki is Walid Joumblat’s property, the Kataeb Amine Gemayel’s property… Power is centralised and personalised to an extent that it is quite difficult to distinguish between the “leader” and the party. I certainly am not implying that party members or party supporters are the Za’im’s property. They support the party for various reasons…

      Now let’s get to my questions:
      – why were you shocked by me calling the FPM Michel Aoun’s property?
      – do you know of any interesting FPM bloggers? All the people I stumble upon seem to be March XIV supporters

  3. PN said

    Hi WL,

    Thanks for your prompt reply. Regarding your questions:

    1. Perhaps surprised is a better term to describe my reaction to your statement. Unlike the other parties you mentioned, FPM started as a spontanous movement and it gradually adopted its organized party structure. Despite the constant feedback between the base and its leadership, one can objectively say that FPM developed via a bottom – up approach especially during the years of GMA’s exile. As such, GMA is seen as a mentor and as an inpirational figure for most FPM’ers more so than being the senior leader/”owner” of the party. I think you know what I mean.

    2. Most FPM members use the Orange Room as their venue for communication and discussion; am not aware of any independent bloggers. I don’t think though that most bloggers are March XIV supporters; although they can have overlapping views and that is natural.

    Best.

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