Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Week’s highlight: the weapons issue

Posted by worriedlebanese on 08/11/2009

weaponsWeapons sparked three debates this week. It all started when the Israeli military fished a weapon cargo heading to Beirut. Then the Maronite patriarch made a speech on how weapons and democracy were mutually exclusive and finally the head of the FPM Michel Aoun criticised the Patriarch’s speech and added that if he had the means he would arm himself to fight for Palestine! We’ll look into these polemics one at the time.

The record weapon catch. The most fascinating thing about the story isn’t what was said, but what wasn’t said. We got a lot of info about how much the booty weighted, we didn’t get any info about what exactly these weapons were and who had made them. We got a lot of info about the crew and the three last destination of the ship, but no info on its past and its real ownership. Classified information or courteousness between weapon dealers and producers?

The Patriarch’s sermon. The Patriarch picked up a habit of recurrently making a sermon against Hezbollah and its weapons. His followers, that is political followers (not necessarily of his flock) and backers applaud his “national stands” and celebrate his “national role”. But they never mention the effect it has on communal politics and the gate it opens for other political interventions of clergymen in the public sphere (his backers had even asked him to pick a President for the country two years ago…). His stance does not prevent him from backing parties who will join a government in which Hezbollah will be part of and whose declaration will not condemn the weapons this party holds. Three of the christian political groups he has been actively supporting for nearly a decade (what is left of Qornet Chehwan that was never a political party and is the biggest looser of the past elections with only one MP in parliament, the Lebanese Forces that hasn’t been reestablished as a party since its dissolution in the 1990s probably for financial reasons and the Kataeb that has been hijacked by the Gemayel family after having been hijacked by the Syrian intelligence) will probably express their reservations on the government’s declaration but that will not prevent them from participating in it.

This kind of condemnation is the best example of the “public stand culture” ثقافة المواقف that is meant to satisfy (with words) one’s constituency or sponsor, but that never translates into political action.

Aoun’s tantrum. When angry, the hindered Za’im has no qualms about contradicting himself and making the most outrageous and irresponsible declarations. His first argument to the Patriarch followed these lines: “these weapons were never used against you, so why are you complaining”. Then he expressed his willingness to take up arms too, but regretted he didn’t have the financial ressources for that. I pity Michel Aoun’s supporters who will have to find a way to justify this outburst.


10 Responses to “Week’s highlight: the weapons issue”

  1. danny said

    The ship was seized carrying weapons according to Israel and world media…Denied by LAF and HA
    Cardinal made a factual statement.
    Mr. Aoun made a political statement (albeit always using vulgar language); one that he had to in support of his main ally.

    • thanks for your comment Danny.
      I don’t believe the Patriarch’s statement can be considered “factual”. It’s a conjecture or a hypothesis. And it also is his personnel assessment of national priorities.

  2. PN said

    Hey WL,

    Nice analysis. Aside from yours, I could not find any Lebanese blogs that commented on this issue.

    Regarding your last section, GMA’s statements could be better interpreted within the context of the overall interview. Still though, you & others may still perceive them as “contradictory” and “outrageous” which is fair enough since everyone is entitled to their perceptions.

    However, you won’t find many “Michel Aoun’s supporters who will have to find a way to justify this outburst” simply because they do not need to. El-generale is only echoing what most of them feel/think. If you’ve been following their comments on Tayyar’s webpage and speaking with some of them, most seem to have reached a saturation point with the dis-satisfaction from the Cardinal’s stances and sermons. In other words, what el-generale said/ “outburtsed” with only mimics what most of them would like to shout out loud.

    Would this sort of dis-satisfaction with the spiritual father justify the outburst by the flock and their political father (as many of them consider)? As you know well, I can not provide you with an objective answer especially that am not a Maronite.


    • I don’t think we disagree on this point PN.
      I would just like to distinguish between three different points.
      – the dissatisfaction that some Maronites (and non-Maronites) feel about the Maronite Patriarch’s political stands and his interferences in politics. Yes, I agree with you, it is quite tangible.
      – the argument Michel Aoun made. Yes, the context can shed some explanation on why it was said, but it certainly does not justify what was said (content, not context).
      – the efforts FPM supporters put in defending Aoun’s outbursts in mixed forums, and the difficulties they encounter (because they either don’t agree with what he said, or understand the context in which he said what he said but cannot see how his arguments are defendable in themselves).

  3. PN said

    Hi WL,

    Thanks for your reply. Distinguishing between the 3 interwinding points certainly simplifies them and makes it easier for me to see your POV.

    But, how many FPM supporters can you find in mixed forums? let alone those exerting “efforts” and having difficulty “in defending Aoun’s outbursts”? 🙂

    Frankly, the majority (including myself) do not care much about the “outbursts” as much as we care about the stances and real actions that one takes when it counts?

    btw, I enjoyed reading the back-to-back comments that you & QN had on his 2nd to last post on his blog. In my opinion, you’re both right. You’re referring to things as they are in reality. He refers to them as they are perceived by most Lebanese as well as by the international community. In many ways, how things are perceived and referred to is as important as how they are.

    oups! should have left this comment on his blog. yallah, have to rush back to work.


    • Nice to have you back PN,
      you’re right, there isn’t much interaction on the internet. But I had something else in mind while writing this comment. I meant the interactions between FPM on one hand and masi7iet 2arbata3ash 2azar on the other. And these interactions as you know it are very common. And I noticed that supporters of the latter group are usually very aggressive and they pick on the supports of the former group that usually are on the defensive…
      There was an excellent article on that on the Akhbar a month ago that I discovered courtesy of Remarkz.

      • PN said

        Thanks WL.

        Now that you worded it this way, I could not agree more with you.

        I believe this trend has been setup since the late 80s, got attenuated a bit during the mid 90s-2005, then it escalated afterwards.

        Regardless though, I do believe that more communication and interaction would benefit both groups; as long as it is done constructively. Unfortunately, this is not the predominant case now.


  4. lirun said

    we received a lot of information – obviously – http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/5530491/iran-caught-redhanded-britain-yawns.thtml what informatiojn are you missing..

    • Thanks for the info Lirun.
      I don’t believe any detailed info on the shipment was available when I wrote this posting. At least I hadn’t found any that day. All that I found was polemicist fodder.
      This being said, I believe I made an analytical error by comparing the Lebanese and the Israeli approach to polemical affairs. In my neck of the woods they hardly ever translate to action…

  5. lirun said

    the interesting thing about this to me is that the world has said almost nothing.. it cracks me up.. no one cares!!

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