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Archive for the ‘Discourse Analysis’ Category

From “political marginalisation” to “christian disenfranchisement”

Posted by worriedlebanese on 18/05/2013


Map of “Christian disenfranchisement” according to the FPM. The districting follows the 2009 electoral map.

Tayyar.org published a map today showing the number of Christian electors Samir Geagea has supposedly “sacrificed” when he and his parliamentary block abandoned the “Orthodox proposal” last wednesday. Interestingly enough, the electoral map the Free Patriotic Movement site chose to publish seems to assume that the 2009 districting will be followed in the coming parliamentary elections. Judging from the recent parliamentary dynamics, this scenario doesn’t seem to unrealistic. But this isn’t the purpose of this blog entry. Let’s go back to the map and see what exactly it says and what it doesn’t say.

Switching focuses
Instead of illustrating the usual grievance voiced by every single Christian political group at some given point, the map presented by tayyar.org places the emphasis on a new argument, that of the disenfranchisement of Christian voters.
That extremely common “christian” grievance that we’ve been hearing since 1992 objects to the “political marginalisation” of Christians throughout the post-war area. It revolves around the argument that too many Christian MPs are elected by an overwhelming number of muslim voters and a negligible number of christian voters. In 2005, that number accounted to 67% of Christian MPs (43 out of 64) while in 2009, the change in districting brought down the percentage to 36% (23 out of 64 MPs). This phenomenon had always existed in Lebanon, but was marginal before the civil war. Since 1992, it became the rule on account of three changes: the dramatic demographic decline of Lebanese Christians, the specific choice of districting schemes, and the strong communal mobilisation of Sunnis, Shiites and Druze behind the Future Movement, Hezbollah + Amal and the Progressive Socialist Party. These three factors meant that Christian candidates in districts with a strong muslim majority could only make it to Parliament by being co-opted by the head of the dominant muslim led/based patronage networks. One can well imagine that such a co-optation has its price, especially when one takes into account the fact that the size of each parliamentary bloc determines to a large extent its share in governmental portfolios and resources (state resources and the country’s resources through tailor-made legislation). The largest beneficiaries of this system are undoubtedly the Future Movement and the Progressive Socialist Party. During the 1990s, they mostly  co-opted “independents” who had little political influence and support within the Christian communities. But since 2005, they’ve accepted to co-opt some Christian candidates with greater Christian “credentials” or representativity.
Instead of focusing on the lack of representativity of some Christian MPs, as the FPM has consistently done since 1992, the tayyar.org map zooms in on Christian voters. This maps pinpoints the number of registered Christian voters in districts where Christian voters have little chance to influence the outcome of the elections. This brings into focus not only the districts in which Christian candidates must be co-opted by the head of the patronage networks to make it into parliament, but also those districts that are generally overlooked by Christian political parties because they elect no Christian MPs, such as Bint Jbeil, Minié-Dinnié, Sour, Saïda & Nabatieh who aggregate 51185 Christian voters. This new interest in districts that have been up to now neglected by Christian political groups can only be explained by the hopes that the Orthodox proposal had awakened and the political significance it gave to voters rendered irrelevant by the lebanese electoral system and the post-war political configuration.

Electoral virtual reality
An unsuspecting viewer might take the map “literally” and assume that the voters it situates geographically actually reside in these districts. But that would be ignoring one of the most striking particularity of the lebanese electoral system. It doesn’t simply divide the country territorially, it heavily engineers the electorate by neutralising a fundamental principle in liberal democracies: that people vote in their place of residence. The lebanese electoral system has replaced that basic electoral principle by another one: the compulsory registration by the Ministry of Interior of voters according to their “noufous” (civil registry) that states their region of “origin” (i.e. that of their forefathers or their husband’s forefathers). So the Lebanese electoral map never reflects the actual distribution of the Lebanese population but creates a totally fictitious one that doesn’t take into account neither the migrations (voluntary or forced) nor the emigration that took place during the last century. We are not talking about minor demographic changes here, but one that affected a large proportion of the resident population (Lebanese and Palestinians). Even though this phenomenon hit all Lebanese communities, it had particularly affected the Christian communities for whom displacement and emigration were mostly permanent. Interestingly enough, most of the regions this maps highlights have been particularly affected by these demographic changes. Indeed, during the wars of the 1975-1990, most of their Christian population had either voluntarily fled or was forcefully expelled from nearly all these districts (excluding the regions controlled by the Southern Lebanese Army up to 2000). Despite an official returnee policy (or possibly because of all its shortcomings and its cynicism), most of the Christians inhabitants of these regions have not returned to their towns during the post-war years. So out of the 467.479 “disenfranchised” Christian voters that the map counts up, only a small minority actually lives in these districts. Most have either emigrated or have resettled in the “Christian heartland” (roughly the districts left unaccounted & uncoloured). Consequently, their vote on a personal level has very little political meaning in a district from which they are more or less estranged; and it carries very little political weight on a collective level because these districts are dominated by Muslim led & based patronage networks who do not even seek or need their votes. The “Orthodox proposal” that this maps indirectly seeks to support would have certainly given their vote more relevance and more political weight. Except for the hassle (and cost) of loosing half a day to get to a distant polling station, these voters would have challenged politicians, inciting them to court them and to listen to their needs.

Unconsidered voters & communal blind-spots
This map only takes into account Christian voters and totally ignores non-Christian voters who suffer from the same problem (even if it’s on a smaller scale). It reveals the extent of the FPM’s communal navel-gazing. This party is surely not the only lebanese political group to suffer from this fixation. It’s actually widely shared across the political spectrum dominated by communal leaders who claim to represent and to cater to their community’s interests. But in this particular instance, it underlines the extreme short-sightedness of a political party that doesn’t realise the importance of looking beyond its communal group even when lobbying for an extremely radical change in the electoral law that needs the backing from all communal groups.

Posted in Discourse Analysis, Idiosyncrasy 961, Lebanon, Levantine Christians, Patronage Networks, Political behaviour | Leave a Comment »

Three impulsive reactions to arguments “supporting” civil marriage legislation in Lebanon

Posted by worriedlebanese on 02/02/2013

pepe2For the past two weeks a rather large group of activists has been trying to take advantage of the new battle within the sunni community for the religious and political leadership of the community. This community is undoubtedly the most affected of all Lebanese communities by the recent changes and dynamics in the region: War in Syria, Brotherhood gains in North Africa, Surge of salafism as a local political force and a cross-national military force… All this adds and complicates the national dynamics: between localists, patriotic and transnational views, and differing ideologies (traditionalist, conservative, radical islamic, secularist, and liberal). Without these elements in mind, one cannot really understand the statement made by Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani, the Mufti of the Republic (interesting title, don’t you think?), against the civil marriage proposal. Neither can one situate Saad Hariri’s “electoral promise” to support a civil marriage legislation (not actually put in so many words).
Choosing to blissfully ignore these dynamics, and trying to use the present conflict to further their “anti-confessional” program, the one infused by our educational system and nurtured by the dominant political and academic discourse, a great number of active members of our civil society have been digging out all kinds of arguments to support their aims. Here are a couple of arguments that I’ve come across on Facebook, and my epidermic reaction to them.

The classical argument!
“From the cradle to the grave”, the Lebanese citizens are locked in their communities. Gaby Nasr reformulates this argument when he says “From his birth record to his death certificate”.
Reaction 1: A sentence that fits pre-revolutionary France where vital records (état civil) were managed by the catholic church… In Lebanon, vital records are managed by the Ministry of Interior, and except for the conversion procedure, the religious authorities have no say in what is written in them (even if these records contradict their laws).

The economical argument!
“Had they all married in Lebanon, how much money would they have saved? How much money the Lebanese treasury would’ve made?”
Reaction 2: We could also vote a law banning honeymoons abroad. This would also save newlyweds a lot of money and provide the Lebanese treasury with more funds.

The “liberal” argument!
“And for those who are against civil mariage, let them limit their choices to themselves and their families [and not impose them on others]. ومن كان ضد الزواج المدني، فليحصر خياره بنفسه وبعائلته
Reaction 3: This argument presupposes that a new civil marriage legislation would not affect Lebanese citizens who chose or choose another marriage legislation (be it religious or civil). And this argument in itself is grounded in the assumption that there is no lebanese legislation on civil marriage. But in fact we do have a civil marriage legislation, one that introduces the first (and actually only) opt out mechanism in our personal law regime.
– It recognises all civil marriages contracted abroad by all Lebanese nationals.
– It provides that foreign civil marriage legislation will be applied to these marriages provided that at least one of the spouses does not belong to a muslim community. This is not a discriminatory  provision but a kind of “protective clause” that was added in response to a vast political mobilisation within the muslim community against civil marriage. This provision/exclusion was NEVER challenged in parliament or even within civil society, not even by the “progressive” groups.
To cut a long story short, a new civil legislation will have two major affects on marriages between lebanese
1. Not only will it affect (on the medium or the long term) religious marriages (because it will be setting a standard against which a judge could eventually  “measure” religious marriages… this is a worldwide tendency  of which I know no exception).
2. But it will also modify the legal situation of Lebanese married under civil law abroad. The foreign civil marriage legislation will no longer be applicable in Lebanon, so all Lebanese married abroad will be subjected to the Lebanese legislation that will undoubtedly be more conservative than many foreign legislations. This is quite obvious from the past proposals, from the Lebanese parliament’s records on personal issues and even from the worldview of many of the the proponents of a new civil law legislation on marriage.
This new legislation will be annulling the only true “opt out” mechanism concerning religious law in our legal system (the one introduced by Ziyad Baroud allowing the removal of the communal affiliation from state registries actually only masquerades as one. It actually hands religious authorities a new “tutelage” mechanism and deprives the citizen of some rights that are provided by our system).
It will be substituting a liberal mechanism with a republican mechanism in a period where anti-liberals are flowering on the muslim political sphere and the christian religious sphere.

Posted in Anticonfessionalism, Discourse Analysis, Intercommunal affairs, Lebanon, Political behaviour, Reform, Secularism | 5 Comments »

Is Lebanon a failed state?

Posted by worriedlebanese on 15/07/2011

“By most common metrics Lebanon is essentially a failed state”. With these words Ghassan Karam began a post on Hezbollah on one of his blogs: Rational Republic. And as you might expect, that sentence started my blood boiling. Failed state?! by what common metrics?! I asked him the question and started looking into the indicators commonly used to assess if a State is failed or not…

Lebanon's evolution on the Failed State Index

The expression went mainstream thanks to the US’s foreign policy, notably its military interventions in Somalia (Restore Hope in 1992) and in Afghanistan (Enduring Freedom in 2001). Noam Chomsky in his book Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (Metropolitan books, 2006) being the semanticist that he is, showed the uses and abuses of this qualification by the American administration. So we know that the expression was quite useful to the US. But does that condemn the expression to an instrumental use in politics? Can it help us otherwise better understand the countries that are designated as “failed states” ? Let’s look into some indicators before trying to see how pertinent and significant it is to call Lebanon a failed state. I came across these indicators developed by the Fund For Peace for its annual index of Failed States: Demographic Pressures, Refugees & IDPs, Group Grievances, Human Flight & Brain Drain, Uneven Economic Development, Poverty & Economic Decline, Legitimacy of the State, Public Services, Human Rights & Rule of Law, Security Apparatus, Factionalized Elites, and External Intervention.

Looking into their index, we notice that they ranked Lebanon #43 in 2011, after ranking us #34 in 2010, #29 in 2009, #18 in 2008. So basically, we’re climbing higher and higher in the ranking… so things are looking good for us, if we trust these results. But do we? Does anyone feel a sense of positive progress in Lebanon? I know I don’t. So either my impressions are wrong or the Fund For Peace rating lacks accuracy or pertinence.
I’m not going to look into the relevance of each indicator, nor the way that each one has been measured. I’m just going to point out to two basic problems in this type of approach:

  • Its normative aspect. Lying behind the stated indicators are the assumptions on how a state should be.  And quite obviously, this model doesn’t take into account multi-ethnic societies where national identity cannot erase communal identities, and civic ties do not eliminate communal ties. But these are not necessarily mutually exclusive categories, regardless of what our “analysts” or should I say doctrinaires keep on rehashing.
  • Its dependence on exterior, or visible markers while some dynamics are less overt but sometimes more significant. How much informal politics can it monitor or grasp? How deep is its access to information?

A blog entry is no place to look into the accuracy of such processed data or the pertinence of the indicators. But let’s me say a word about the usage of this designation.

“Failed State” as Name-calling: anti-confessionalism’s new cloak
Those who claim that Lebanon is a failed state are usually the same people who argue that there is no citizenship (or citizen rights) in Lebanon… This approach is actually quite prevalent in Lebanon. A friend of mine sums it up under the heading “وين الدولة” (“where is the state”) which is often heard on television and on the streets when citizens voice their grievance. This claim about the state’s absence is equally widespread in academic and NGO circles. And so we hear “نحو المواطنية”، “بناء دولة القانون والمؤسسات”، “القيام بالدولة “، “من اجل المواطنية”… as if neither state nor citizenship existed. This approach is undeniably normative. It goes beyond expressing one’s dissatisfaction with the state’s performance. Actually, it circumvents this question by denying the very existence of the state or citizenship. The reason why the state’s existence (or citizenship) is denied is not grounded on facts. Any liberal would rightly argue that there is actually too much state in Lebanon. It’s an abstract, normative judgement based on a specific idea of what a State (or citizenship) should look like. It all boils down to the fact that many people are displeased by some feature of the Lebanese state that they attribute to what people call “confessionalism”, or more derogatorily  “sectarianism” or more neutrally “communalism”. So all this name-calling is actually grounded on a dislike of communalism in all its manifestation, social, legal, political. Paradoxically, the same people who combat communalism pride themselves in Lebanese diversity. So basically, they want to celebrate plural society but fight any of its manifestations.

Posted in Anticonfessionalism, Discourse Analysis, Diversity, Idiosyncrasy 961, Lebanon | 2 Comments »

Esquisse d’une opposition en 7 heures et trois minutes

Posted by worriedlebanese on 09/07/2011

Mon intention première était d’analyser les trois journées de débats qui ont précédés le vote de confiance. Mais malheureusement, j’ai commis l’erreur de les suivre sur L’Orient-Le Jour. Ceci revenait à accompagner de très près un camp, celui du XIV Mars®, et de très loin l’autre, celui du gouvernement. Certes, un article de Scarlett Haddad a restitué l’ambiance générale dans l’hémicycle, mais tous les autres articles reprenaient et amplifiaient en choeur les propos d’un camp, et ne rapportait que les réactions de l’autre camp, jamais leur propre discours. Certes, il est généralement plus intéressant de suivre les interventions d’une opposition, puisqu’elles sont nécessairement moins complaisantes, et de ce fait souvent plus éclairantes sur les choix politiques qui se présentent à un certain moment.

Vue sur l'arène

Voeu pieux
Le Premier Ministre, Nagib Miqati, avait annoncé la semaine dernière que “le gouvernement libanais soumettra au Parlement une déclaration ministérielle réaliste et effective, comprenant les idées et les propositions dont l’application est possible dans tous les domaines”. Et il avait espéré “que les séances de discussion de la déclaration ministérielle soient constructives et utiles à tous les libanais, loin des polémiques, des surenchères, du langage de défi et des accusations de traitrise”. Autant dire que c’était un voeu pieux et la politique générale telle que annoncée par la déclaration n’a quasiment pas été discutée. Seule une de ses clauses a suscité de vive polémiques, l’alinéa 14 qui touche au Tribunal Spécial pour le Liban et qui annonce que le “gouvernement, partant de son respect pour les résolutions internationales, exprime son attachement à ce que toute la vérité soit faite sur l’assassinat du président martyr Rafic Hariri et de ses compagnons. Il suivra le cours du Tribunal Spécial pour le Liban créé, en principe, pour dire le droit et faire justice, loin de toute politisation ou de toute volonté vindicative, pourvu que cela ne se reflète pas négativement sur ​​la stabilité du Liban, son unité et sa paix civile”.

A gauche le 8 Mars + CPL ; à droite le XIV Mars et les "indépendants"; au centre la Rencontre Démocratique

Les quatre axes de la polémique 
Les députés du XIV Mars® n’étaient pas là pour discuter la déclaration ministérielle. Ils se sont présentés aux séances de discussion de la déclaration pour exprimer leur grief à l’encontre du Hezbollah et de l’acceptation par Nagib Miqati de sa nomination en tant que chef du gouvernement. D’abord, ils ont asséné leur narratif, celui du “coup d’État du Hezbollah”, du “renversement de la volonté des électeurs” qui auraient donné la victoire au XIV Mars®…
Le premier thème met le doigt sur un problème essentiel dans le jeux politique libanais, celui de la présence d’un groupe politique armée qui a déjà utilisé ses armes à deux reprises pour “trancher” des conflits internes… Le gouvernement de Saad Hariri est certainement tombé en raison du Hezbollah… mais démocratiquement, avec la démission du 1/3 des ministres. Le Hezbollah a exprimé son refus de la nouvelle nomination de Saad Hariri par les armes… mais ceci n’explique pas à lui seul le soit disant “retournement” Joumblatt dont le bloc parlementaire s’est en apparence divisé en deux (mais jusqu’à quand?). Ni le ralliement du “centre” représenté par Nicholas Fattouch, Michel Murr et Mohamad Safadi qui pourtant étaient alliés au XIV Mars®.
Le deuxième thème, celui de la majorité volée est intimement relié au premier. Mais il se fonde sur une mauvaise lecture des résultats des élections de 2009. Le XIV Mars®, ses militants et ses journalistes “engagés”, ont prétendu avoir remporté ces élections, alors qu’en réalité, ces élection avait plutôt consacré les monopôles dans la représentation politique au sein des trois communautés musulmanes, et la division maintenant quasi-paritaire des chrétiens en deux camps (dont le quart relève toujours de formation dominés par un Za’im musulman) avec une figure dominante, celle de Michel Aoun, dont le parti regroupe plus du quart des députés chrétiens. Avec le détachement de Walid Joumblatt en Août 2009 qui avait fait sa déclaration d’indépendance au lendemain des élections législatives, les deux coalitions politico-confessionnelles se retrouvaient à égalité.

Les quatre axes autour desquels se sont articulés leur intervention ignorent en grande partie la déclaration et tous les aspects qui touchent au quotidien des citoyens… Au Liban, on ne s’intéresse pas à la “petite politique”, celle qui a des répercussions directes sur la vie des Libanais… D’ailleurs on s’y réfère souvent dans les déclarations ministérielles, mais bon, au moment de s’exécuter, on préfère le confort de la polémique, la géopolitique, et les grands principes. Et donc voici les thèmes sur lesquels la nouvelle opposition s’est attardée:

  • Le Tribunal Spécial pour le Liban.
  • Hezbollah et ses armes.
  • Miqati et la représentation sunnite.
  • Rafic Hariri.

Il n’y a pas grand intérêt à revenir sur ces discours. Rien de nouveau n’y a été exprimé. En gros, les députés du Mouvement du Futur tels que Nohad Machnouk ou de Fouad Siniora ont asséné les mêmes propos qu’ils tiennent ailleurs et qu’ils répetent par média interposés. Il est clair que leurs discours ne sont pas adressés à leur interlocuteurs, mais à leur propre public. Ce qui est généralement le cas dans les débats parlementaires télévisés. On remarque surtout que le passage à l’opposition n’a pas constitué une rupture dans le discours du XIV Mars. Trois des quatre thèmes sus-mentionés sont dominants depuis 2005. Et d’ailleurs, ils sont abordé de la même manière: une suite de slogans. L’argumentation se place à un niveau théorique et elle vise a susciter une réponse émotionnelle où l’indignation se mêle à la crainte, le tout enrobé d’héroïsme. La seule nouveauté est le thème circonstanciel, celui qui touche à Miqati qui, en écartant le Mouvement du Future du pouvoir, est accusé d’avoir trahis la volonté des électeurs sunnites.

Posted in Discourse, Discourse Analysis, Lebanon, Values | Leave a Comment »

Talal Arslan’s resignation remembered

Posted by worriedlebanese on 28/06/2011

A friend of mine under another post asked me to comment on Talal Arslan’s resignation. Here are my thoughts on that issue, ones I have actually already expressed on facebook:

Minutes after the announcement of the new government, Talal Arslan resigned from the government. This resignation highlights a lot questions surrounding the whole formation process. Who negotiated with whom and on what. Very little “information” was “leaked” to the media during those 5 months that separated the designation of the PM and the announcement of the government. There was a lot of bickering and accusations, but very little information. So one can legitimately wonder why Talal Arslan waited till the announcement of the government to announce his resignation. The timing actually begs many questions. We will look into them before analysing the arguments he used to justify his move.

1. Didn’t Arslan know he was allotted a “state ministry” before the announcement of the government? A state ministry is Lebanon is one that carries no portfolio. In other words, the Minister of State has no ministry working for him/her. Some ministry of states can actually have a “specialized office” that functions as a small ministry (that’s the case of OMSAR, the Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform). The only thing this position entitles the designated minister is a vote in the Council of Ministry. Politically, this is quite meaningful because the Council of Ministers is, constitutionally, the official executive power in Lebanon. However, the reality of the executive power lies elsewhere (since Rafic Hariri expanded the Prime Minister’s position, and the Speaker plays a key role within the state administration). So, effectively, the position of a Minister of State carries very little leverage on the practical level (that is for access to state resources and state employment). I personally doubt that Arlsan wasn’t informed of the fact that he wasn’t given a portfolio. The political class has always been disdainful toward the weak, but I don’t think the Prime Minister or Arslan’s allies didn’t inform him of the result of their negotiation. But then, who know…
2. Even if he did know, was there any other way for him to reject this allocation? Arslan heads one of the smallest blocs in parliament, one that he owes entirely to his rival within his community (Jumblatt) and to his allies from other communities (FPM & Amal). This puts him in no position to negotiate with his allies or rival.
3. Why was he allocated a ministry without a portfolio? His political weight doesn’t entitle him to more. This allocation actually reflects his standing within his community and within the Lebanese political class. Unfortunately for him, this position doesn’t offer him any perspective to change his situation and reinforce himself politically.
4. What does the resignation offer him? It “safeguards his honor”. As the heir of the Arslan house, granting him a ministry of state was in a way demeaning. To put things into perspective, we have to remind ourselves that the “Arslan house” is the supposed “traditional” rival of the Jumblatt house, and that Kamal Jumblatt actually neutralized its power base during the 1958 civil war. Let’s also keep in mind that Talal Arslan’s mother is a Jumblatt and Walid Jumblatt’s mother is an Arslan.  .

Saving Face in the most inelegant of ways
Now, let’s first look into how he justified his move. Here’s what Talal Arslan declared upon resigning:

” آسف للتعاطي غير اللائق بما يسمى بوزارات سيادية وغير سيادية وبالتمييز العنصري فلا يمكن ان اوافق بان يُعامل الدروز او الكاثوليك او العلويين او الاقليات بهذا الشكل.”

“I’m sorry about the inappropriate way of dealing with the so-called top ministries and other ministries, and about the ethnic discrimination. I cannot condone the way the Greek-Catholics, the Druzes, the Alawites or the minorities have been treated”.

His argument doesn’t hold. In the allocation of portfolios, Nagib Miqati has actually treated these communities in the exact way Saad Hariri had in 2009, with Fattoush replacing Pharaon, Manjian replacing Ogassapian, Arslan replacing Abou Faour… In both governments, minorities (i.e. Latin and/or Protestants) were not represented, and Alawites have never been represented in any government in Lebanon.
Talal Arslan actually points out a real problem (and challenge) in Lebanese politics, but his real problem with Miqati is that he didn’t give him a portfolio.

Last week, Miqati and Arslan agreed that the seat that Arslan relinquished would remain in the hands of Arslan’s party. Al-Liwa’ reported that the position will probably be filled by Arslan’s brother-in-law, Marwan Kheireddine… This solution is quite an interesting one. It shows the lack of political imagination (and innovation) within our political class. A possible solution would have been to split one the ministries and hand a part of it to Arslan. He could have been awarded the Ministry of Municipalities and Decentralization (that could have FINALLY been detached from the Ministry of Interior), or the Ministry of Emigrants (post that Talal Arslan already had in 1998 and that could have been detached from the ministry of Foreign Affairs, though I doubt that Nabih Berri would have agreed to that). It also confirms the extent to which family ties have become the most secure relationship in contemporary lebanese politics.

Posted in Discourse Analysis, Diversity, Intercommunal affairs, Lebanon, Patronage Networks | Leave a Comment »

“Détournement de Fond”

Posted by worriedlebanese on 27/06/2011

Titre: “Détournement de Fond
Auteur: d’Élie Fayad.
Date: Jeudi 23 Juin 2011.
Genre: Editorial… Exercice littéraire, accessoirement journalistique (puisque ce genre d’article ne contient pas d’informations, mais quelques allusions à des faits – pas nécessairement avérés – ou plutôt à des dires). Exercice en fait éminemment politique mais d’un genre particulier. Généralement, il se réduit à une distribution de gommettes ou en l’occurrence à une réprimande (comme en maternelle)… l’éditorialiste devient instituteur qui évalue un élève : “insolence”, “bougeotte”, “trublion”, “il lui arrive, comme c’est le cas ces jours-ci, de dépasser les bornes”, “il s’agite ces jours-ci”.
Total de mots: 804!
Introduction: 410 mots. Thème: “l’insolence de Michel Aoun” (qui s’achèvent avec 101 mots d’auto-justification et d’auto-congratulation).
Corps du sujet: 305 mots (dont 100 mots de digression géopolitique). Thème: “Détournement du débat public”
Conclusion: 89 mots. Thème: “l’agitation de Michel Aoun”.

Analyse descriptive
A l’intérieur de chaque thème, Élie Fayad traite de plusieurs questions qui ne sont pas sans intérêts, mais dont malheureusement les conclusion sont systématiquement détournés à des fins politiques (ou plutôt politiciennes, comme nous le verrons plus tard). Tout d’abord, Elie Fayad décrit un des “fossé[s] de la haine entre Libanais”, celui qui traverse les communautés chrétiennes. D’un côté, nous trouvons les partisans de Aoun “qui se laissent impressionner par [s]es stratagèmes” et interprètent ses prises de positions comme un “signal audible d’une volonté collective de changement”, un signe de sa “différence à l’égard d’une classe politique perçue comme étant complaisante, médiocre, corrompue”. Et de l’autre côté, on trouve les détracteurs de Aoun qui savent que cette “idée” de changement est une “illusion” et qui trouvent ses boutades “déplaisantes”… L’éditorialiste ne cache pas son positionnement, il se range clairement dans ce dernier camp et ne cache pas son mépris de l’autre, gorgé “de nombreux imbéciles à travers le pays”, qui se laisse “impressionner” par ce “troublions”, et se laisse berner par une “illusion” de changement.

En fait, derrière une bonne couche de mépris et une deuxième couche de parti pris, l’analyse d’Élie Fayad est par moments pertinente. Effectivement, les partisans de Aoun sont généralement des personnes qui rejettent la classe politique libanaise “perçue comme complaisante, médiocre, corrompue”… Mais serait-ce  juste une question de perception comme le laisse entendre Élie Fayad? Personnellement, je ne vois pas comment on pourrait de manière objective dresser un bilan positif de cette classe politique. Quant aux détracteurs de Aoun, l’éditorialiste indique que généralement, ils sont rebutés par le style de communication de Aoun, et la personnalité qui s’en dégage: “tentatives d’humour”, “un peu de victimisation et de beaucoup de paternalisme protecteur”. Et là aussi, peut-on vraiment leur en tenir rigueur? Le discours du CPL (le parti, la télévision et les porte-paroles) qui se veut “décontracté” et “franc” est indéniablement grossier. Et jusqu’à maintenant ce parti s’est fait surtout remarqué par son style de communication plus que par son action politique.

Ce qu’il y a de plus étonnant dans cette bipolarisation en milieu chrétien autour de la figure de Aoun est le fait que jusqu’à la formation du deuxième gouvernement Miqati, le chef du CPL demeurait un des acteurs politiques les moins importants sur la scène politique en terme de pouvoir, et que finalement il n’existe pas de différences idéologiques importantes entre lui et ses rivaux politiques en milieu chrétien. Le conflit porte sur la géopolitique (d’ailleurs, c’était l’unique thème de campagne dans les circonscriptions chrétiennes durant les dernières élections législatives) et sur la stratégie d’intégration au pouvoir quadripartite (les deux questions étant évidemment intimement liées).

Quant au corps du sujet, celui qui traite de la thématique principale de l’éditorial annoncée par le titre, son analyse descriptive ne semble pas aussi intéressante que sa soumission à une approche plus analytique. Juste un point mériterait d’être traiter, celui qui est suggéré lorsque l’éditorialiste se demande si le général estime que

le mal, la pourriture, la corruption se trouvent dans un camp et pas dans l’autre, ou alors que cet autre est appelé à se purifier à son contact

Élie Fayad met son doigt sur une incohérence fondamentale dans la stratégie de pouvoir du CPL. Afin d’intégrer le jeu politique, ce parti a dû s’allier d’abord à des petits patrons régionaux chrétiens (Suleiman Frangieh au Nord, Michel Murr au Centre et Elias Skaff à l’Est), pour ensuite s’allier à deux piliers du pouvoir quadripartite. Comment est-ce que le CPL justifier son combat contre la corruption et la classe politique en s’alliant à une partie d’entre elle? Ne perd-il pas de sa crédibilité ou fait-il preuve de pragmatisme? ou est-ce que cette alliance est juste une stratégie pour accéder au pouvoir ou a-t-elle d’autres incidences sur le jeu politique?

Approche analytique:

1. Élie Fayad, acteur politique (ou le renversement de la fonction professionnelle) 
L’introduction qui fait la moitié de l’article n’a pas beaucoup de sens si l’on se tient à son thème. Elle est aussi peu utile à l’argument de l’éditorialiste que la référence à Emile Zola.

“Que l’impertinence soit parfois salutaire, qu’elle suscite de nécessaires remises en question et brise le ronron de la médiocrité, nul ne saurait le nier. Au moins depuis le « J’accuse » d’Émile Zola, tout le monde convient que la vie publique ne peut que gagner en qualité à être secouée de temps en temps par un cri, une bousculade, un geste d’insolence”. 

L’inutilité d’un développement par rapport à l’argument central est en fait un indice qui nous invite à chercher son sens ailleurs que dans l’argument. La référence incongrue au “J’accuse”, par exemple, est manifestement un référent culturel qui agit en tant que marqueur identitaire qui sert à souligner l’appartenance commune du lecteur et de l’auteur à un groupe valorisant (cultivé, francophone, francophile…). De même, consacrer la moitié de l’article à un thème introductif qui aurait bien pu être résumé en deux lignes montre que l’enjeu de ce développement est ailleurs. La clef de ces développement se trouve dans le dernier quart de l’introduction, dans une sous-partie qui sert non seulement où le journaliste justifie sa démarche et s’en félicite.

“l’homme politique – ou le journaliste – qui dénonce l’impertinence de ce dernier ne fait en cela que confirmer son appartenance à l’establishment « pourri » qu’il est nécessaire d’extirper pour que le pays vive et prospère. Après tout, le « combien-Hariri-vous-paie-t-il-à-la-fin-du mois ? » est la phrase fétiche la plus répétée par de nombreux imbéciles à travers le pays et elle le restera encore longtemps. Pour répliquer à Michel Aoun, il faut donc changer de perspective. Ne pas critiquer son insolence, mais au contraire, son… manque d’insolence vraie ou, si l’on veut, son insolence calculée. Car elle l’est à plus d’un titre”.   

Nous remarquons ici l’identification extrêmement significative opérée dès le départ entre la figure du politicien et celle du journaliste. Ce tiret, dont la fonction en tant que signe de ponctuation devrait être celle d’encadrer une incise (de la même manière qu’une parenthèse), joue ici un tout autre rôle; celui d’un trait d’union. Effectivement, l’éditorialiste justifie ce rapprochement des deux catégories en laissant entendre qu’ils subissent les mêmes accusations de la part de Michel Aoun. Et suivant la logique, “même ennemi… même combat… mêmes armes”, l’éditorialiste met en commun leur fonction, rend les deux figures solidaires et se permet de glisser d’une catégorie à l’autre sans aucun souci. En fait, la confusion entres les deux figures ne provient pas de ce combat. Elle est manifeste au Liban depuis plusieurs décennies. Les médias ne sont pas un quatrième pouvoir, ce sont des boites à résonance politique, des auxiliaires d’un autre pouvoir, du seul autre pouvoir (qui se moque des distinctions fonctionnelles entre l’exécutif, le législatif et le judiciaire). Cette confusion a des raisons structurelles (la liberté des médias va de pair avec leur absence d’autonomie financière et politique… et donc éditoriale) mais également conjoncturelles. La polarisation politique qui a marqué le pays depuis 2005 encourage cette solidarité, cette identification, et c’est sans parler de l’assassinat de deux journalistes (qui d’ailleurs relevaient des deux mondes journalistiques et politiques puisque l’un était patron de presse et député et l’autre éditorialiste et mentor de parti) dans une série d’assassinats politiques qui est venu sceller cette solidarité.

Revenons à l’article d’Élie Fayad, voyons comment il entend sa fonction, à travers le phrase qui sert à introduire le thème principal de l’article, et plus précisément à partir d’un verbe auquel il a recourt: “répliquer“. C’est ce qu’entend faire le journaliste: Répliquer à un politicien. C’est comme ça qu’il entend son rôle. Et il ira encore plus loin dans le paragraphe qui suivra puisqu’il accusera le politicien de “sélectivité thématique“, de “détournement” du “débat public […] de ce qui est essentiel pour tous vers ce qui ne l’est que pour quelques-uns“. Ici, Elie Fayad revisite la théorie américaine de l’agenda setting. Elle ne touche plus à l’information, d’ailleurs, vous l’avez remarqué, l’article, comme bien d’autres dans le journal n’en contient aucune. L’Agenda ici est strictement politique. Et le journaliste se propose de poser les priorités et même de définir ce qui est politique.

2. La définition du politique et la détermination des priorités
L’éditorialiste dénonce les priorités de Michel Aoun et présente les siennes. Il appelle cela la “sélectivité thématique”. D’après lui:

“la corruption financière est mise en avant alors que la corruption institutionnelle et toutes les autres formes d’atteinte au droit sont tues. Et pour cause : on y participe copieusement”. 

Cette phrase est particulièrement intéressante. La distinction entre “corruption financière” et “corruption institutionnelle” à vrai dire m’échappe. A mon avis, ce n’est que deux faces d’une même réalité. L’enjeu de cette distinction est à trouver ailleurs que dans la définition, peut-être à travers la figure symbolique représentative de chaque face… La figure de Rafik Hariri (ou de son successeur Saad Hariri, ou de son collaborateur Fouad Siniora) semble bien représenter la “corruption financière” en raison de l’instrument privilégié qu’il utilisait pour assoir son pouvoir et son réseau clientéliste. Alors que la figure de Nabih Berri semble bien représenter la “corruption institutionnelle” en raison de l’instrument privilégié qu’il utilise pour assoir son pouvoir et son réseau clientéliste. La distinction entendu de cette manière vise donc à dénoncer l’alliance avec l’une des figures contre l’autre figure… De la même manière, lorsque Élias Fayad mentionne les “autres formes d’atteinte au droit“, il semble viser le Hezbollah… Ce ne sont finalement pas les priorités de CPL qui sont critiqués, mais ses alliances politiques.

En fait, il y a très peu question de politique à proprement parler dans cet éditorial. Comme nous l’avons vu, l’éditorialiste s’intéresse d’abord  au discours politique, et plus particulièrement à la communication politique d’un homme. Puis, au moment où il veut rétablir les priorités, il évacue d’une seule phrase expéditive tous les éléments politiques pour s’attarder sur la géopolitique. La digression géopolitique d’Élie Fayad s’étend sur 100 mots. C’est à croire que l’éditorialiste réduit la politique à la géopolitique (ou même les confonds). Et là, il nous livre un indice sur la manière dont il mesure l’importance d’une considération politique, qu’il établit l’ordre de priorité que les politiciens devraient suivre:

Cette question n’est-elle pas à l’heure actuelle plus angoissante […]?”.

C’est l’angoisse qui détermine la priorité, la question de l’heure. Et cette angoisse est géopolitique… En fait, je me serais pas attardé aussi longtemps sur cet article si la lecture d’Élie Fayad n’était pas symptomatique de l’ambiance politique dans laquelle nous sommes plongés depuis 2005: bipolarisation en milieu chrétien autour d’une figure, mobilisation communautaire en milieu non-chrétiens, militantisme et embrigadement des médias, et l’emprise des émotion, et surtout de l’angoisse. Cela ne fait pas disparaitre le politique, mais obscurcit considérablement son analyse par ceux qui y participent.

Posted in Discourse, Discourse Analysis, Journalism, Lebanon, Politics, Version Francophone | Leave a Comment »

The great awakening of Syrian sectarianism

Posted by worriedlebanese on 13/06/2011

A syrian blogger's idealised vision of the Syrian revolt

As I listened to the news today from Syria, I had a strange feeling of having heard that story before. The people interviewed were giving their version of the events in Jisr al-Shughur… but the stories they told were exactly like the ones I heard about Dar’a a couple of weeks back:
– Massacres of Sunnis, especially sunni soldiers who were not willing to shoot at other sunnis.
– Alawite paramilitaries helped by Iranians and Hezbollah (“other Shiites”)
There were only two ways to explain the similarity between the two narratives: either the events they were describing were being repeated or a sectarian rhetoric had crystallized into a solid narrative that is circulating within some circles of Syrian society.

Four weeks ago, I spend an evening with a Syrian family from Dar’a discussing the situation in their hometown. It wasn’t really a discussion. I sat for almost two hour listening to them, and only asked a couple of general questions to encourage them to talk about their personal experience. As expected, they were very emotional about what was going on: They had after all fled their town because of governmental violence, and they seemed to know some protesters who were killed. It was actually quite hard to get any “hard” information from them. Sure they described some events, gave a couple of names (of people and locations) and even threw in a couple of figures. But most of what they said was based on hearsay and they constantly shifted between a “victimisation narrative” and a “heroic narrative”. In both cases, the arguments were selected and adapted in a way to suit the narrative’s objective.
What struck me at the time was the sectarian lens through which they perceived all the events that they described. Sectarian discourse had long been taboo in Syria, and one could only hear it in closed circles and in veiled language. Syrians usually mocked Lebanese for their sectarian discourse and sectarian system, and prided themselves for being “non-sectarian”. Now things seemed to have radically shifted. Syrians were resorting openly and unashamedly sectarian analysis and were using an extremely violent sectarian discourse.
Here I was talking to a sunni family that proudly mentioned during our conversation its communal belonging, and even mine (on one occasion when they spoke of the rights of the majority – ie Sunnis – and felt that they had too reassure me by telling me that they bore no ill feelings toward non-alawite minority groups).

Fact or Fantasy?
The current dynamic within Syria is certainly sectarian. The bloody Dar’a repression quickly transformed a mostly cross-sectarian economical revolt into a sectarian political/economical revolt. And this was extremely clear in Lattakié where alawites withdrew from the protestations and sunnis joined them in greater numbers… and syrian troops left Alawite villages and neighbourhoods while they took control of sunni villages and neighbourhoods. Needless to days Bachar Assad broke the “social contract”, following Qaddafi’s footsteps. In the Libyan case this social contract was tribal in nature (and violations started a couple of years ago), in Syria it was communal in nature. The break in the Libyan case was complete, and the country is today completely divided on tribal lines. In the Syrian case, the situation seems more complicated. Symbolically, the tacit social contract is between two communities: the alawite minority and the sunni majority. But as communities are not organized political bodies but a complex blend of institutions, networks and mental representations, the real “covenant” is between the elites within both communities… and this covenant has up to now survived what can be interpreted as sectarian violence: the victims of the repression are mostly sunnis (especially among the killed), and the alawite community is today mobilized behind the Baasist regime that is now widely perceived as being “alawite” and as supporting alawite interests. One has to speak of “perception” here because the “objective” reality is quite possibly very different from what is subjectively perceived, and in any case, it doesn’t really matter. Perceptions and discourse can over-ride reality and symbolic elements can have a larger impact than deeper structural realities.

The sectarian lens goes regional
As we have seen, there is an obvious sectarian dimension to the revolt/repression. But what is even more obvious is the sectarian lens has become prevalent in the political discourse and in political analysis: both sides interpret the political situation in Syria in exclusive sectarian terms. The Syrian regime insists on the sectarian dimension of the revolt and dubs it “salafism” (i.e. a version of sunni religious extremism). While opposition groups and their supporters insist on the sectarian dimension of the repression/regime (and calls it Alawite or Shiite). And both parties claim to be non-sectarian and accuse the other of playing sectarian politics. Actually, one of the main traits of the sectarian lens is that it refuses to acknowledge that it is sectarian in its nature (much more than the communal reality it is supposed to be “neutrally” observing).
The situation in Syria is actually quite similar to what happened in Lebanon when the sectarian lens became prevalent in political analysis and political discourse.
What is new today in Syria is that the lens has taken an important “regional” scope. The sectarian geopolitical approach (that can be considered as a prevalent bias in today’s geopolitical analysis) has fed the national sectarian narrative. The alliance between Syria, Iran and Hezbollah which actually benefits the interests of the three parties is seen as being a sectarian one. It’s true that Iran and Hezbollah share a strong shiite religious identity… But extending it to the Alawites is stretching it a bit too far and giving too much credit to the Alawite’s discourse.
The claim that Iran and Hezbollah are participating in the repression has not been supported by any fact. It resembles the claim that Hezbollah participated in the iranian crackdown against the Green revolution.
Such accusations are made quite lightly and no serious investigation is done to verify the claim. If they were proven to be true, this would have serious implications to Syrian politics, but also Lebanese politics.

  • For Syrian politics. The big difference between Syria and Lebanon is that the Syrian political class has always objected to foreign meddling in its affairs (while the Lebanese political class actively welcomed it before 1943 and after 1958). If Hezbollahi and Iranian direct intervention were proven to be true, that would mean that the Baasist/Assad regime has changed the nature of the syrian political game.
  • For Lebanese politics. Hezbollah has already a first hand experience in political repression (May 6, 2008). But that was a very short one. Any implication in the Syrian repression would mean that it would be furthering its experience in scale and scope. And it would be the first Lebanese actor to have meddled in another state’s affairs.

Posted in Civil Society, Conspiracy, Discourse, Discourse Analysis, Intercommunal affairs, Semantics, Syria | Leave a Comment »

Nadim Shehade’s interesting take on “Sectarianism”

Posted by worriedlebanese on 27/04/2011

Nadim Shehade, made an extremely interesting contribution last week to a discussion launched by Elias Muhanna on his blog Qifa Nabki. I was at first struck by the way he introduced the subject. It reminded me of the clumsy attempt I had made a couple of years back to respond to Nawaf Salam’s take on Lebanese sectarianism when I told him that it is of no surprise to “observe” sectarianism when one is looking through sectarian tainted glasses. By that I introduce my approach of distinguishing between different dynamics (regionalism, factionalism, ideology, economical interests, clientelism…), and not blurring the differences by putting them under the same heading.  
Please read carefully this text by the former director of Oxford’s Centre for Lebanese Studies and present researcher at Chatham House. He pinpoints all the methodological errors and assumptions most of us make when looking into countries with deep or significant communal divisions. 

Sectarianism, like beauty, is more often than not in the eye of the beholder. One can interpret a situation as ‘sectarian’ and there may be some elements in it that are related to tension between sects; but the underlying causes and drivers may be totally secular.

There are three ways of looking at it:

  1. As a perspective related to the observer who sees sectarianism everywhere.
  2. As a reality on the ground – where tensions are real and incidents have sectarian dimensions
  3. In relation to the political system and how it deals with divisions and whether it increases or decreases sectarian tensions.

There are so many myths that would fall just by distinguishing between these three points.

In Syria for example: Is the regime really Alawi? Is the system ‘secular’?
Similar questions for Lebanon and for Iraq.

Analysts on Iraq emphasised sectarian divisions, whereas intra-sectarian divisions were as important. In the end are these not legitimate political divisions in which sect plays a part?

In Lebanon, the system is ‘confessional’ or sectarian. But the reality on the ground is a division which is deeply political between two very legitimate world views which divide every ‘sect’, every community and even every family. It is the beholder who chooses to give it a label of sectarian, that March 8 are ‘Shiaa’ or Shiaa means Hizballah. The Christians are ‘divided’? who said they have to be united in the first place? because they are Christian they have to be united, so the sectarian glasses do not fit with reality and we conclude that they are divided.
When politicians play with the electoral law to gerrymander the result, is that sectarian?
Is power-sharing sectarian? maybe such a system has allowed for political divisions to become more significant.

Going back to Syria – There is a network that dominates which has an interest in perpetuating the system. It is too simple to say that this is a Alawite dominance, there is hegemony by a network of a family that happens to be Allawite and has coopted many people from all other sects – Sunnis, Christians, Ismailis, Druze, etc.. etc..

The tautology of the argument is the following: A society that is composed to many sects cannot have democracy because of the sectarian divisions – a ‘secular’dictatorship would put the lid on it. But the other side of that coin is that this same society would not contain all these sects in the fist place had they not been able to coexist all that time.

[In Turkey] The Turkish model of secularism is also that Attaturk, in order to have a secular and cohesive society, had to get rid of the Armenians, the Greeks, the Assyrians, the Arabs and the Kurds.

I want to suggest that the present ‘secular’ regime in Syria is likely to exacerbate sectarian tensions whereas a democratic power-sharing arrangement, similar to the ones in Lebanon and the one evolving in Iraq, would decrease such tensions.

Posted in Discourse, Discourse Analysis, Intercommunal affairs, Iraq, Lebanon, Pluralism, Political behaviour, Secularism, Semantics, Syria, Turkey | 2 Comments »

Can one morally condemn Israel?

Posted by worriedlebanese on 15/04/2011

How true is this equation?

Does the ferocious moral condemnation of Israel mark a recrudescence of the most ugly of Western diseases anti-Semitism? Or is it a legitimate, if crude, criticism of a nation’s policies? Where does one draw the line? How does one judge?” (Richard Bernstein, “The Word: the Ugly Rumour or an Ugly Truth?“, New York Times, August 4th 2002).

I stumbled on this quote today while reading an interesting book: Politics and Religion in France and the United States” (Hardgreaves, Kelsay & Twiss, Lexington books, Lanham 2007). The questions Richard Bernstein asks are blatantly rhetorical, they are not meant to be interrogative but exclamatory and accusatory. But if taken seriously, at face value, they will undoubtedly prove to be important (and even necessary) for all people interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

First, we should reformulate the question to rid it of its implicit accusation and its central slur. When Richard Bernstein speaks of “ferocious moral condemnation of Israel”, his informed public will undoubtedly read “Israel-bashing”, “singling out”, “unfair”, “biased”, “disproportionate” and “one-sidedness). He is actually implicitly referring to the familiar accusation of  “differential and discriminatory treatment of Israel. As Richard Bernstein only alludes to this argument, I’d rather set it aside and stick to the core of his question. If you are interested in a counter argument, check this article by Richard Kuper: Singling Out Israel. Now let’s grapple with the unwarranted smear: Anti-Semitism as a Western disease. There’s something explicitly essentialist and organicist in comparing anti-Semitism to a virus and labelling it “European”. It implies that a specific prejudice acts like a living organism, and an infective one too, always ready to multiply within a specific host, Europe. This metaphor is obviously misleading for a person who wants to understand the development of any prejudice, and even more for one who wants to fight it. So not only this metaphor makes insulting insinuations, but also nonproductive and to some extent counterproductive ones. After dealing with the implicit accusation and the explicit slur, let’s reformulate the first question in the following manner: “Is the moral condemnation of Israel legitimate or anti-Semitic? How can one draw the line? What does one judge?“. I won’t try to answer these three questions (I hope to do that another time), however, I’ll try to enumerate the other questions that need to be addressed in order to answer them:

1. Is any moral condemnation of Israel anti-Semitic? Many Israelis and supporters of Israel seem to think so. So it’s important to look into the reason behind their belief? Could it be a form of patriotism, a belief in Israeli exceptionalism, is it related to the holocaust…

2. What makes a moral condemnation of Israel anti-Semitic: the first question already takled two possible answers: the fact that it’s a moral condemnation or that it’s aimed at Israel. Here, we are left with three other possibilities: the language (or wording), the recurrence of the condemnation, the identity of its utterers?

Posted in Antisemitism, Discourse Analysis, Semantics | Leave a Comment »

Les duettistes chrétiens confirment leur mépris de l’électorat

Posted by worriedlebanese on 12/04/2011

L’Orient-Le Jour illustre bien comment il est possible de couvrir une élection au sein d’un ordre professionnel en ignorant totalement la dimension professionnelle de ces élections! Et en donnant la voix exclusivement à des politiciens (qui ne participent pas au scrutin) pour une analyse 100% politicienne de l’élection. Bon, il est vrai que le scrutin était politicé… mais est-ce une raison suffisante pour ignorer totalement son caractère professionnel… et ses acteurs les plus directs? c’est à dire les candidats et les électeurs. Bon. Jettons un coup d’oeil sur ce que disent nos deux duettistes chrétiens (pour qui tout évènement est une occasion pour une partie à deux voix)…

Samir Geagea: « Mais ce qui est plus important que les résultats globaux, c’est que le nouveau président de l’ordre, Élie Bsaibès, a été élu par plus de 95 % des voix chiites, représentées par Amal et le Hezbollah, près de 25 % des sunnites, plus de 90 % des suffrages du PSP et moins de 40 % des voix chrétiennes. Donc, en dépit du résultat, nous considérons que nous avons été forts là où il le fallait et nous avons obtenu un chiffre meilleur que celui de l’année dernière au niveau de l’opinion chrétienne », a précisé le leader des FL, avant d’ajouter, non sans sarcasme : « D’où la nécessité de féliciter à la fois le nouveau président et le Hezbollah. »

L’électeur disparaît de l’analyse de Samir Geagea. A travers une analyse qui réduit les électeurs à des pourcentages confessionnels eux même attribués (ou assimilés) à des partis politiques. Cette lecture rend “normal” et évidente une mobilisation confessionnelle qui n’a rien de spontané ou d’évident. Elle est la conséquence d’une mobilisation communautaire nourris par la classe politique et les médias qu’elle contrôle. Suivant quelle dynamique et par quelle mécanique est-ce que des ingénieurs Chiites et Druzes votent aussi massivement pour les candidats appuyés par les Zu’ama qui parlent en leurs noms… C’est la question centrale que le commentaire de Geagea efface tout en nous donnant un élément de réponse par son assimilation de la victoire du nouveau président de l’ordre, Élie Bsaibès, à celle du Hezbollah.

Michel Aoun: « L’un de vos collègues a commenté cette victoire, pour plaisanter, en disant que la différence obtenue équivaut à un avion qui n’est pas arrivé à temps. Qu’ils rangent donc leurs dollars et cessent de les dépenser pour tenter d’acheter les consciences », a-t-il lancé. « Si Dieu le veut, nous espérons que ceux qui restent encore avec eux changeront d’avis à leur tour, parce que je m’étonne qu’ils aient encore autant de voix ».
Et pourtant “ils” ont réussi à récolter beaucoup de voix… alors pourquoi s’en étonner et prétendre que la seule explication résiderait dans l’achat de voix. D’abord, il est normal que les gens votent selon leur intérêt, alors pourquoi ne pas aller plus loin et se demander si et comment leurs intérêts seraient liés à ceux des politiciens du 14 mars. Et puis, les gens votent d’ordinaire selon leurs convictions… Alors on peut vraisemblablement croire qu’une majorité d’ingénieurs a voté par conviction pour le candidat appuyé par la coalition du 14 mars (qui comprend les quatre plus anciennes formations chrétiennes, et le plus puissant (financièrement) réseau clientéliste du pays). Au lieu de s’étonner du relatif succès électoral du 14 mars, il devrait plutôt essayer de le comprendre. Et il devrait aussi se demander pourquoi le candidat qu’il appuie n’a pas réussi à convaincre une majorité d’ingénieurs chrétiens. Est-ce que c’est un échec (relatif) de ce candidat, ou un échec (relatif) du CPL ou de Michel Aoun?

Posted in Discourse Analysis, Intercommunal affairs, Lebanon, Levantine Christians, Politics, Version Francophone | Leave a Comment »

Islamic extremism & Christian immigration from the ME

Posted by worriedlebanese on 27/12/2010

I noticed an article on my facebook page by Abderrehman al-Rashid that summed up the doxa concerning the dwindling numbers of Christians in the Middle East: “Arab Christians and their flight from extremism” (Al-Sharq al-Awsat, Saudi Arabia).
Here are the two central arguments:
1. “يعتبرون [المسيحيون العرب] أنهم يواجهون، بشكل خاص، تمييزا وحصارا من قبل الجماعات المتطرفة الإسلامية المؤدلجة والمسلحة”. [Arab Christians] consider that they face, specifically, discrimination and besiegement by ideological and armed groups of extremist islamists.
2.”والحقيقة أن حجم الاستهداف ضد المسيحيين سواء في العراق أو مصر أو السودان محدود، سواء في خطاب الجماعات المتطرفة أو في ممارساتها” “In fact, whether in Iraq, Egypt or Sudan, the targeting of Christians is rather limited in scope, be it in speech or practice”.
3. “مشكلة المواطن المسيحي العربي هي المشكلة نفسها للمواطن الآخر في حقوقه الفردية ومستقبله المجهول.. حالة عامة ليست خاصة بطائفة أو فئة،” Arab Christians face the same problems as their non-Christian compatriots, with regards to their individual rights and their unknown future. It’s a general condition that is not specific to one group or community.

The problem with this argument is that it misses the main point. It doesn’t explain why the number of christians is dwindling in the Middle East, in places to almost near extinction. It discredits one “objective” reason (specific targeting by extremist islamists), and doesn’t look into other “objective reasons” or subjective ones.

I would like to list a few reasons that I find relevant. These reasons could be divided into two categories: individual and collective. These two dimensions actually interplay with each other, and to understand the phenomenon of mass emigration, one has to look into this complex intertwining of individual and collective elements.
– Economical reason: This reason certainly hits everyone, regardless of his/her religion. But on the whole Christians are more likely to emigrate to countries in which they can integrate with a certain ease (Western Europe, the Americas, Australia), while Muslims are more likely to go to countries that don’t allow a complete integration (Africa & the Golf).
– Cultural/religious reason: Christian, on a whole, have less difficulty identifying with the west and integrating its values and cultural system. Even though there are many cultural conflicts between contemporary western values and traditional middle-eastern values that are mostly shared by Muslims and Christians alike, Christians do not perceive them necessarily as conflicting, and when they do, they don’t perceive them as necessarily “foreign”. So Christians would more likely integrate these cultural differences or the changes that they call for as “natural” or “progressive”. Moreover, Muslim Arabs can easily express their cultural difference in a globalised world. Christians Arabs have not been able to do that. Their cultural production is limited in its scope and its expression.
– National/political reason: With the end of the “age of ideologies”, the Arabist project faded off and Arab countries have reaffirmed their muslim character. This leaves Christians in an uncomfortable situation in which they cannot easily project a collective destiny (as christians) within a hybrid secular/muslim state.
– Structural reason: Individual can count on a strong diaspora that could help him/her travel, find a job abroad, and regularise his/her situation.

Posted in Discourse Analysis, Identity, Intercommunal affairs, Middle East | 2 Comments »

The Truth الحقيقة… l’évolution d’un slogan (1)

Posted by worriedlebanese on 22/12/2010

Je me souviens d’un ruban bleu qu’on distribuait à tous les coins de rue, attaché à une bande autocollante noire arborant une inscription bilingue: “الحقيقه”/”The Truth”. En ce temps, je ne m’étais pas posé beaucoup de questions sur son sens. Je n’avais pas pleinement réalisé l’impressionnante polysémie et versatilité politique à cette formule tout simple en apparence mais qui a pu déployer sa richesse en ces cinq années d’existence.

En 2005, le sens du slogan/revendication “الحقيقه”/”The Truth” nous semblait à tous évident. Il pointait un doigt accusateur vers la Syrie. Et d’ailleurs les politiciens qui l’arboraient l’explicitaient de manière à laisser aucune place au doute. L’équation était simple: “The Truth” <=> “la Syrie nous occupe, la Syrie est coupable”. Dans la foule qui convergeait vers la place des martyrs, certains venaient avec un esprit de revanche (pour toutes ces années d’occupation qui ne disait pas son nom, pour toutes ces vexation, cette violence, pour notre humiliation), et d’autres avec un esprit de vengeance (pour le meutre du Zaïm ou de l’homme politique), deux sentiments que “la vérité” recouvrait de manière euphémique et valorisante. “الحقيقه”/”The Truth” offrait des accents d’absolu (alors que son sens contextuel était extrêmement spécifique).

Vers la fin 2005, le slogan “الحقيقه”/”The Truth” commence à recouvrir une nouvelle réalité, le Tribunal Spécial pour le Liban (TSL). Une nouvelle équation voit le jours “The Truth” <=> Justice <=> TSL. L’équation est présentée comme axiomatique. Et certains s’activent pour l’étendre, et la voila transformé en: “The Truth” <=> Justice <=> TSL <=> Réconciliation <=> Paix. Pendant quatre longues années, des activistes quatorze-marsiste mobilisent juristes, politologues, sociologues, philosophes, psychologues et psychiatres pour nous asséner la nouvelle équation. Comme elle est axiomatique, par définition, elle n’a nul besoin d’être démontrée. En revanche, chaque spécialiste va puiser dans sa discipline pour nous expliquer les bienfaits de la formule. C’est évidemment une panacée.

A partir de 2008, un élément de l’équation a été modifié. Le doigt n’est plus pointé sur la Syrie mais sur le Hezbollah (et sans même qu’un acte d’accusation ne soit publié, ni même des indications allant dans ce sens dans un rapport officiel). Etonnamment, les promoteurs de la formule “The Truth” <=> Justice <=> TSL <=> Réconciliation <=> Paix” continuent à nous assurer de la validité de la formule, alors même qu’ils savent bien que le Hezbollah ne se laissera pas faire, et donc qu’une accusation de tout genre mettra en danger la Paix civile et donc tout espoir de (ré)conciliation entre les deux principales communautés musulmanes du pays.


Posted in Discourse Analysis, Hezbollah, Lebanon, Syria, Version Francophone | Leave a Comment »

Zionism according to A.B. Yehoshua

Posted by worriedlebanese on 26/11/2010

This morning, A.B. Yehoshua published an article in Haaretz stating that Zionism is not an ideology.Truth to tell, his arguments are not very convincing. The article follows an interesting structure though. At first, the author rebrands Zionism, then he defines its core issue, and he ends by copyrighting it. His central point lies in the middle, sandwiched between two extremely controversial arguments.

Rebranding Zionism. From ideology to concept
Abraham “Bouli” Yehoshua chooses a very convenient definition of ideology and then claims that “zionism” doesn’t fall under this definition because of its multiple forms. In his own words, zionism “is a common platform for various and even contradictory social and political ideologies”. The same can be said about most nationalisms (a nationalist can be left wing or right wing) and and to certain degrees political ideologies (russian, french, italian and lebanese versions of communism are not exactly the same). At first sight, one can brush this whole issue as being a terminological issue by saying that A.B. Yehoshua can call Zionism whatever he wants, the point he is trying to make is elsewhere. However, let’s keep in mind that this argument is actually quite a controversial one because zionism as an ideology is a central issue in “palestinian studies” and pro-palestinian groups. By rebranding zionism the way he does, he is actually claiming that most of the research and arguments done under the heading of zionism are worthless. So most pro-palestinian militants or scholars will probably not read any further and attack him on this point. Let’s go beyond his controversial argument and see it for what it is, a simple question of terminology that actually is not really relevant to the central point: the definition of the core issue of Zionism.

Defining the common platform
In his search for a core issue, A.B. Yehoshua distinguishes between two periods:
– Before 1948, the core issue of Zionism was to “establish a state for the Jews”.
– “After the Jewish state, namely the State of Israel, was actually established […] Zionism was expressed […] through the principle of the Law of Return”.
Stated this way, the core issues of zionism seem innocuous. And if Zionists had chosen to establish this state on an uninhabited island, these points would have remained unobjectionable. The problem with these issues is that they do not take into account the fact that the Jewish state was established in an populated region, and that it was imposed on the majority of this land’s population through foreign pressure (British then international) and force. So the problem is not the “theoretical underpinning of zionism, it is with its practical application. The same can be said about the second expression of zionism, “the law of return”. Theoretically, it doesn’t seem to be problematic. It becomes objectionable when it is used as a tool for demographical engineering (safeguarding a strong jewish majority), and when it benefits over 200,000 immigrants who cannot be considered as Jewish by any definition.

Repositioning the concept of Zionism
A.B. Yehoshua ends his article with a strong property claim. He stresses that zionism as a concept belongs to Jews, and “finds its expression only in its rightful place”, in the relationship between Israeli Jews and Diaspora Jews. He resorts here to an argument he came up with a couple of years ago, and that he has repeated on many occasions: Jews in the diaspora are only “playing with Judaism”, and “full Jewish life could only be had in the Jewish state”. He restates it in this article by making a distinction between “responsible” Jews and “partial” Jews (who “practice their Jewish identity partially”). He states that the former live “their lives within a defined territory and under self government”, while the latter “live enmeshed in other nations”. Again, this is a very controversial argument that shocks many Jews across the world. Moreover, it fails to take into account the possibility of an autonomous and complete jewish life in the diaspora (that is clearly and massively visible in New York and Antwerp). And it ignores the fact that Israeli jews are equally enmeshed in a plural nation in which at least 30% of the population is non-Jewish. Another problem in his definition lies in the fact that Israel has no “defined territory”, and that “Self-government” doesn’t take into account that it is actually the direct (non-jewish Israelis and non Jewish immigrants to Israel and their descendants) and indirect government (West Bank and Gaza) of populations that if enfranchised would make up the majority of the country’s territory.

One could explain A.B. Yehoshua’s arguments by putting them under the banner of idealism… But pushed to such an extent, it actually falls under cynism.

Posted in Discourse Analysis, Israel, Prejudice | 15 Comments »

Two conversations that kept me silent for over a month

Posted by worriedlebanese on 07/11/2010

I jumped head-on into two discussions with friends about a month ago that confirmed a strong feeling I’ve felt for some time now but never acted upon. I’ve been feeling uncomfortable with the way I argue my points. I don’t have any problems with my analysis per se. I believe that many of the points I make are valid, and that what I criticise is indeed criticisable. But I know I’m not doing it the right way. My approach is too cold, too analytical, and by criticising the other’s reasoning, I’m putting him/her in a defensive position in which things become personal. And I know that were I in their shoes, I’d be extremely agressive and quite bitter. What amazed me in these two conversations is the generosity and goodness that they showed towards me, withstanding what I had said and how I had said it…

Conversation 1

Que peuvent ils faire? Tuer? Ils tueront 1, 10 ou 100 hommes libres, et après? Le sort du Tribunal Spécial n’est pas entre nos mains. 02 October at 14:27

Quels hommes libres? Franchement, je n’en vois pas beaucoup au Liban. Je ne vois que des hommes et des femmes apathiques ou embrigadés derrière leurs certitudes. Le premier signe de la liberté est l’autocritique et non pas l’autocélébration. Il est plus facile de chercher une aiguille dans une botte de foin que de trouver une conversation rationnelle et raisonnée avec un quatorze marsiste sur le TSL ou avec un hezbollahiste sur la résistance.

Il n’y a rien d’héroïque dans la mort, ni même d’exceptionnel dans un pays qui célèbre annuellement des bouchers et dont les habitants se laissent conduire périodiquement vers l’abattoir.

Wissam Saade Meme si le TSL revet de la valeur d’un mythe fondateur pour le 14 mars comparable dans cette dimension au mythe fondateur de la Resistance, je crois pas que cette analogie pourrait transgresser facilement les limites separant ce qui est le symbolique et ce qui est factuel. Car justement, dans le cas ou la Resistance est impliquee dans l’affaire du TSL, le parallelisme possibilisant cette analogie est rompue. Et la c’est le Fait qui se substitue meme symboliquement au symbole.

Nous ne parlons plus de la même chose. Et à mon avis, dans toute discussion, il faut s’efforcer à rester clair avec son interlocuteur, et non pas à se perdre dans les subtilités (même délicieuses) de son propre raisonnement. Ma comparaison n’est pas entre le Quatorze Mars@ et la Résistance@, elle ne porte pas non plus sur le rapport qu’ont ces deux “mouvements” à leurs mythes (je pense d’ailleurs que la référence au mythe fondateur n’est dans ce cas ni pertinente ni utile) mais sur le rapport qu’ont les partisans/militants/embrigadés des deux bords à un objet présent et actuel qu’ils ont sacralisés… et de là sur l’effet de ce rapport sur leur discours. Toute discussion sur ce sujet ne fait que confirmer mon propos. 03 October at 10:56 ·

Wissam Saade hahahahaaaaaahaaaa 03 October at 11:59

Wissam Saade dans ce cas tout ce que vous disez libneni kalik n est que du blablablablablabla assez stupide 03 October at 12:08

Michel Hajji Georgiou Ya Jihad, ta pseudo “neutralite”, qui n’en est pas une, voire ton politiquement correct, sont ecoeurants. La plupart de tes anciens professeurs, notamment ceux qui ne sont plus la, t’auraient flanque pour le coup un “hors sujet” depuis bien longtemps… 03 October at 12:39

Wissam Saade aha.. Libneni kalik c’est le fameux Jihad? Wawww. 03 October at 13:35 ·

Lıbnéné Qaliq ‎@ Michel. Je n’ai jamais prétendu être neutre. Et je ne m’attends pas à ce que d’autres le soient. En revanche, je m’attends à ce que des gens que j’ai longtemps admiré et continue à admirer gardent une distance critique. Si le “sujet” est l’embrigadement, la bipolarisation, le travestissement des victimes en héros et des bourreaux en victimes, le rejet de toute responsabilité sur l’autre, le remplacement d’une lecture politique par une lecture géopolitique, alors oui, je fais du “hors sujet”, mais je préfère l’appeler recadrage. 03 October at 22:59 .

Michel Hajji Georgiou Je trouve cela parfaitement pretentieux, cher Jihad. Je pense que tu devrais recouvrer un peu d’humilite et cesser d’etiqueter les gens. Surtout ceux que tu “recadres” sur ton blog en fonction de categories d’analyse parfaitement martiennes (et tout a fait partiales, l’air de rien). Tu accuses les autres d’avoir sombre, cher ami, mais en fait, tu derives aussi, plus que les autres meme. Dommage. 03 October at 23:02

Lıbnéné Qaliq Peut-on étiqueter des gens qui avancent sous un étendard? Tu fais sans doute référence à un billet dont je suis peu fier, mais je pense y avoir en son temps explicité la démarche. je pense qu’elle est quelque peu liée à l’acte d’écriture. Mais bon, certains d’entre nous s’en sortent grâce à l’élégance de leur plume. Ce n’est malheureusement pas mon cas. Et t’es également en droit de me reprocher mon agressivité, ma tendance à la circularité dans le raisonnement et mes écrits plutôt brouillon. Mais tt ça reste loin de Mars, et surtout du parti pris. 04 October at 00:33

Michel Hajji Georgiou Mais tu as autant de parti pris que n’importe qui ya Jihad. Khalas ba’a. Si tu ne t’en rends pas compte, c’est que tu es atteint d’une cecite grave !! Arrete de donner des lecons et de juger les gens ! Tu peux exprimer l’opinion que tu veux, mais finis-en avec cette attitude scolieuse et condescendante a la fin !! Quand a tes billets, je t’en remercie, mais c’etait facile et mal informe.Une attaque gratuite en fait, qui se cachait derriere une pseudo demarche intellectualiste. Mais t’en fais, c’est quand meme un plaisir de te lire. Moi, au moins, je ne te juge pas. De grace, ecris ce que tu veux, mais, s’il te plait, descends de ton super piedestal analytique !!!

Lıbnéné Qaliq Entendu (un mot qui résume 15 minutes de relectures) Merci Michel

Conversation 2

Hicham Bou Nassif Had the Good Samaritan arrived a bit earlier on the scene, should he have let the wrongdoers beat the innocent traveler, possibly to death? Had he intervened, how would that conform to the obligation of non-violence? Had he not intervened, how would that conform to the obligation of defending the innocent? 03 October at 05:24

Lıbnéné Qaliq I’m genuinely surprised by the way you revisit the parable of the Good Samaritain. You seem to be reinventing it in a way to justify violence. And to think that the parable is given as an explanation to the commandement “love your neighbour as yourself” in which Jesus radically redefines the “neighbour” as possibly an opponent (belonging to another faith). Ironic, don’t you think? 03 October at 22:33

Hicham Bou Nassif How can I be justifying violence when i actually refer to non-violence as an”obligation”? In fact, how can I be making any kind of statement when I use three question marks in one status? Isn’t it clear I am troubled by what I perceive to be contradictions in Christian teaching? Granted, this contradiction my only be apparent. There may be a way out of the moral/intellectual quagmire. But your answer doesn’t offer even a hint in that direction. That’s because once again, you fail to read carefully. It seems that the Libnene Qaliq just cannot make himself read carefully anything HE did not write. He just takes a quick look at a text, jumps into conclusions, then jumps into Rosinante, and Hola ! Here goes the Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote Libnene Qaliq of La Mancha, ready for the windmills.
Yours are the ways of the permanent monologue. Sad, don’t you think.
03 October at 23:51

Lıbnéné Qaliq Absolutely. 04 October at 00:02

Hicham Bou Nassif Absolutely, you said it. But i am not done yet: I think it’s sad because it’s a waste of talent. I have always believed in yours and will always continue to do so. Not because i am easily… impressed, but because it is indeed impressive. Disagreements about politics are no problem. In fact, they are a sign of good intellectual health. But things are beyond “politics” now. What is at risk is the very meaning of our country, its intimate liberal raison d’etre. I am sorry we dont see eye to eye on this 04 October at 00:09

Lıbnéné Qaliq now that was an unexpected blow; humbling and embarrassing all at once. gotta sleep over it. 04 October at 00:40

Posted in Blogosphere, Discourse Analysis, Lebanon, Personal | 4 Comments »

The tale of two sanctities: (الحقيقة (المحكمة الدولية v. (المقاومة (السلاح

Posted by worriedlebanese on 11/08/2010

I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately written by March XIV® journalists and analysts, and I’ve come to realise that their attachement to الحقيقة (the truth), is not only as strong as their Opposition® counterpart’s attachement to المقاومة (the resistance), but that it functions in exactly the same way. Underneath a rather abstract political heading lies something quite concrete that is considered as having a kind of sacred quality that cannot be questioned or opposed. In March XIV®’s case it’s the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, in the Opposition®’s case it’s Hezbollah’s weapons. Both sides argue in the same way and try to convince you that their goal is to defend Lebanon from further bloodshed. They obviously stick to principles and refuse any “practical” discussion of the matters at hand. What makes matters worse is that each argument is supported by a large communal mobilisation (that opposes the other side’s communal mobilisation and feeds on it) and that there is no autonomous or independent spaces in which these issues can be discussed (ex: the press or academia). Let’s have a quick look at each sides arguments.

Lebanon’s salvation according to March XIV®

The March XIV® supporters will argue that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will not only establish who killed Rafik Hariri, but will punish the perpetrator(s). They insist that even if its function is punitive, its sanction will set a precedent, it will counter the previous impunity, and will thus fill a preventive function. This argument is supported by three other rhetorical constructs:

  • the hagiographical transformations of Rafik Hariri: the public figure eclipses the man, and his actions are revisited and redefined by the virtues he is made to incarnate… and the political principle he is made to embody, that of sovereignty and new “father” of the nation,
  • the Beirut Spring/Independence Intifada narrative, the March 14 demonstration brought together Lebanese citizens belonging to all communities (especially Christian, Sunni and Druze) to uphold Lebanon’s Independence and Sovereignty. It’s a sort of “birth/rebirth” of the nation.
  • the panmarteon: the common celebration of “greater” and “lessor” political figures who were killed between 1979 and 2006 (such as Kamal Jumblatt, Bachir Gemayel, Hassan Khaled, René Mouawad, Samir Kassir, Georges Haou, Gebran Tueni,)

Lebanon’s salvation according to the Opposition®

The Opposition® supporters will argue that Hezbollah embodies the principle of Resistance. Its weapons were proven crucial in liberating Lebanon from Israeli occupation, and are still necessary for the recuperation of areas still under Israeli occupation, and for dissuading Israel from attacking Lebanon. This argument is supported by three underlying rhetorical constructs:

  • the strictly defensive function of Hezbollah’s weapons: to counter exterior threats, and the only exterior threat comes from Israel. This defensive function is considered as having a protective and preventive (dissuasive) effect.
  • The resistance narrative: Hezbollah not only fights Israel, but it prevented it from annexing Southern Lebanon, eventually liberated the territory occupied by Israel, and still prevents Israel from invading and annexing parts of Lebanon.
  • The moral superiority doctrine: Hezbollah is presented as morally superior to other political parties because of the values that it allegedly incarnates: courage, sacrifice and (for some) religious orthodoxy. Its moral superiority means that it doesn’t compromise on its values and that it doesn’t sully itself in politics (patronage, corruption…).

Mistaking the wood in one’s eye for dust

Each side is very quick in attacking the other’s arguments. The March XIV® have always been much more vocal about their criticism of the Opposition®’s arguments. Their militant journalists and second rank politicians usually denounce the danger that these weapons represent (in a democracy). Some critics go further and attack the moral superiority doctrine, or the resistance narrative. Although their criticism is often justified, it often turns into verbal attacks that are not always immune from anti-shiite sentiments (rarely direct and explicit, but at times quite clearly anti-shiite and most of the times considered by Shiites as being attacks on their community symbolised and represented by Hezbollah). The Opposition is less vocal in its criticism of the March XIV® argument. It usually refrains from criticising or deconstructing the three supportive rhetorical constructs (although much can be said about them) and limits itself to denouncing the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. But this rather “non-offensive” strategy is compensated by recurrent threats, accusations of treason and the actual use of force (on May 7th 2008). It is quite obvious that self-criticism is non existent. The Opposition® is always self-righteous, and March XIV pretends to be self-critical, but this is usually cosmetic and turns into a more sophisticated exercice in self-righteousness.

Posted in Discourse, Discourse Analysis, Hezbollah, Journalism, Lebanon, Pluralism, Political behaviour | 3 Comments »