Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

David Issa on MTV, political analysis gone astray

Posted by worriedlebanese on 07/11/2009

david-issa170This guy is obviously angry… and in need of recognition. During his hour long discussion on MTV (a resurrected Lebanese TV channel), his voice showed an emotional range that varied from displeasure to exasperation to indignity to outrage. At a random moment I decided to count how many times he repeated “I” in one minute: 7 times, and twice for no apparent reason (there was no call in grammar, syntax or meaning for it). I didn’t catch the show from the start (when the presenter gives a flattering biographical outlook on his guest), but I believe he ran as candidate in 2000 for Beirut’s Greek-Catholic seat (and lost to Michel Pharaon).

The host obviously tried as hard as he could to formulate his questions as if his guest was a fortuneteller or a weather forecaster; doesn’t political analysis belong to this family of activities after all? when you read our press or watch our news programs, you come up with the obvious answer: YES.

So you can’t really blame David Issa for answering these questions as a weatherman or a fortuneteller would. When given the occasion, he pointed out a couple of things that were very true, but then made a mess of the analysis that was a times incoherent at others biased and most of the time unfounded (traits that are alas shared by the political system).

Here are the most interesting points he made:

  • The Christians are divided, but what are the issues that they disagree on? They have an important role in bridging the divide between Shiites and Sunnis.
  • Now this in itself is a topic that could be discussed lengthily. David Issa didn’t notice the internal contradiction between his two statements. He regrets the division of the Christians, but believes that the mobilisation of the Shiites and Sunnis behind two blocs is negative (and leaves aside the Druze and Alawite communities). If the Christians were mobilised (which is structurally impossible) behind one leader and bloc, how would that facilitate the demobilisation of the muslim groups?

  • Zahlé, as the capital of Greek-Catholics, should be represented in government by a minister holding a “respectable” portfolio.
  • David Issa, speaking on behalf of his community (although he claimed several times that he was against the communal feelings and the power-division scheme with a communal dimension) introduced a new principle for the composition of the government. He linked together two constitutional principles: the quota system along communal lines and  the fair representation of region. If such a rule is introduced, one could imagine its complicating effect on the formation of governments. Should Armenian ministers be from Burj Hammoud, should there be a minister Shiite minister from Baalbeck, one from Nabatieh and one from the Southern suburb of Beirut… Regional representation are obviously taken into account in all governments, so are family issues. But does this mean they should be transformed into rules that know of no exception?

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