Week’s highlight: the weapons issue
Posted by worriedlebanese on 08/11/2009
Weapons 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.