Archbishop Bishara El Rai’i’s interview with As-Safir can be simply summarized as another wrong step to the discredit of the Maronites.
I was astonished when El Rai’i said that Seniora’s government is Islamizing the country. My astonishment came as I recalled that Bkirki’s communication style is not one to mention names in public statements but rather is characterized as diplomatically discrete to an extent that, from time to time, I cannot even understand what they mean or who they are talking about. So why would Bishara El Rai’i mention the name of Seniora (government of)?
My second surprise followed as soon as I reminded myself that Seniora’s government includes 10 Christian ministers. I spent the next minute actively trying to figure out how had the Sunnis managed to manipulate the government from within, and set in motion the Islamization of Lebanon that has only been noticed, two years down the road, by Gebran Bassile and Bishara El Rai’i?
Then I started wondering why this is happening at the worst possible timing to gradually move to a very disturbing conclusion that, probably the wind had changed direction and I had not noticed it. Maybe something dramatic is about to happen that incited Bkirki to quickly re-position in favor of the Hezbollah-led coalition, and so by giving Aoun a solid boost of a much-needed community support.
Regardless of all possible motives, I do not agree with Bkirki for many reasons:
1) Bkirki can’t position the Christians as a standing-up community facing the other Muslim communities on every single subject and topic. The 14th of March Christian politicians adopted an advanced strategy of opening up to the Muslim communities and inviting all parties for a shared role in governing and developing the nation, within the boundaries of the Ta’ef Agreement.
2) The timing for intentionally hitting the Sunnis and inducing a political setback, is so inappropriate in view of the latest political and security build-up of an imminent regional conflict with international repercussions. This will definitely displease the international community, who will also recall, how irritating the Christians in general and the Maronites in particular are, given their inability to never ride the proper sail nor do so on time.
3) It can’t help Bkirki and the country if Seniora is out since Paris-III is specifically link to the Hariris and Senioras.
4) Damaging the reputation and the political representation of Seniora (and the ones who are behind him: Hariri, Al Mustakbal) would eventually invite a new Sunni coalition to emerge. Can Bkirki guarantee to us that the replacing coalition will be as moderate as Siniora and Hariri, and as open to the world as the Christians want?
5) It is the Seniora’s government, and Hariri in particular, who negotiated a multiple Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian support, to then gave the army a green light to enter a red-lined Palestinian camp and to hard hit Sunnis fellows. It is therefore quite hypocritical to attack Seniora’s government, the very government that ordered the destruction of the fundamentalist organization and numerous terrorizing cells that are Bkirki’s and Hezbollah’s daily nightmares.
6) The Aouns and the Frangiehs will not take back all they said and did to the patriarch from 1989, and everyday since, until today (i.e. Branding Patriarch Sfeir a womanizer or calling him inept to legitimately represent the Christians).
Aoun is mentally still living in the pre-war era where, once upon a time, the president had all the powers that Ta’ef took away as a result of Aoun’s liberation war against Syria. Bkirki, on the other hand, moved forward and stayed in the post-war era where the Christian community suffered further downsizing by the occupier and other communities. It seems today that Bkirki has not cross the line into the post post-war era that started on the 14 of March 2005 and my views are that the 14th of March politicians should not longer wait on Bkirki, ignore Aoun, and take us to the next step of abolishing confessionalism according to Ta’ef. It is only a question of time for the remaining fanatic Christians and ideologically driven Shi’a to ease their political consideration and move, as if by gravity, to their natural home that is the March 14 Intifada.
And last but not least, there is another reality that I want to mention that was understood by Rafiq al-Hariri a long time ago but that Bkirki is yet to recognize: Bkirki does not represent the Christians but the Maronites who make 18.5% of the Lebanese population according to statistics on holders of Lebanese ID cards. The other 16.5% of Christians are completely ignored by the Maronites politicians in the same way Aoun and Bkirki advocate that the Christians are ill-represented today. For the Maronites, it is time to share more of their power with other Christian communities. We only have to look at Al-Mustakbal ministry and parliamentary composition to see that Rafiq al-Hariri capitalized on this point at the right time. Accordingly, Bkirki should be very careful not to assume that it can easily manipulate the Christians in the name of Maronitisim.