Category Archives: Free Patriotic Movement

Initial reactions on Aoun’s latest mistakes

By Ana

General Michel Aoun slammed March 14 saying they don’t have a right to be decision makers. He also said that he represents the majority of the Christians and being shut out of the debate for the presidency is isolating the voice of the majority of the Christians. He also criticized the U.S.’s recent statement rejecting a president that is affiliated to a terrorist organization or foreign power.

1. March 14 is the majority and therefore is the decision maker by constitutional default;
2. The FPM and their leader need to re-check the Metn results: the only substantial Christian bloc that voted for Camille Khoury was Tashnag, and certainly not the Maronites (although I fully respect and advocate the view that the Maronites are not all the Christians); and
3. How can you, Aoun, support a president that has the carte blanche from Hezbollah (like yourself) when they are clearly a terrorist organization, one that you acknowledged back in 2002?
4. Lastly, Aoun equates the Shi’as with Hezbollah. How wrong he is. The Shi’as are more than just the political Shi’as of March 8.

The problem with demagogues is that they can never be consistent. It makes the fact that they have no logic too obvious.

For French readers, I highly recommend you read Carlos Edde: Le Fascisme. The article was published in L’Orient Le Jour last week. Fascism in a new light. Note to readers: Read between the lines, it’s a lot more fun.

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Filed under Aoun, Camille Khoury, Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah, Lebanese Christians, Lebanese Shi'a, Lebanon, March 14, March 8, Tashnag

Diversity is democracy

By Ana

In the pro-opposition newspaper Al-Akhbar, the newspaper chairperson Ibrahim Al-Amine wrote on August 13:

If the majority team is more confused because of the abundance of candidates among its ranks, it is helped by the support of a large swathe of the Lebanese people and influential factions among the Arabs and the rest of the world while the opposition seems to be more comfortable with the fact that it has only one candidate, the head of the Fee Patriotic Movement General Michel Aoun who enjoys strong support from a large popular mass that includes more than half the Lebanese population.

I beg to differ.

Firstly, let’s get the facts straight. The only person from the opposition to officially endorse Aoun’s candidacy was Wiam Wahab who isn’t high enough in the hierarchy. His statement is simply not enough to make Aoun the official opposition’s candidate. I want to hear it from Berri. Even more, I want to hear it from Nasrallah. Yet, should we not hear the needed endorsement from such figures, that too will say a lot. Back on December 1, 2006, the opposition took for the streets and launched their first day of occupation over Downtown Beirut. Note that back then only Aoun was present. Berri and Nasrallah did not support the orange leader as he led on the Shi’a crowds (remember, few were the Christians who attended that day). Then, the implications of the absence of the Shi’a leaders was understood: they did not take Aoun seriously. Let’s see if they’ll take him seriously today.

Secondly, Aoun does not have the support of more than half of the population. If that were the case, why isn’t he majority leader in the Parliament?

Now let’s go back to Al-Amine’s above argument. He is suggesting that March 14 is unsure of itself whereas the opposition (read: FPM) is fully backing one candidate. My question: since when was diversity a problem?

March 14 is not a political party and therefore is not limited to the nomination of one candidate. The FPM is restricted by party regulations and therefore must nominate one candidate to avoid a conflict of interest within the party itself.

Given that March 14 is a cluster of different political parties and groups that do not have political party status, these different groups have the right to present as many candidates as they wish (of course within the rationale of some sort of meritocratic rubric). The result is the nomination of people like Boutros Harb and Robert Ghanem and perhaps in the near future Nassib Lahoud or Nayla Mouawad.

The fact that these people should feel comfortable nominating themselves within the March 14 democratic spirit is impressionable. They will be a source of competition for each other, and at the end of the day, will not insult or discredit each other. Furthermore, the losers of the elections will accept their loss in good team spirit and support the March 14 candidate that makes it through. This, Mr. Al Amine is democracy not confusion.

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Filed under Al Akhbar, Aoun, Boutros Harb, Free Patriotic Movement, Hassan Nasrallah, Ibrahim Al-Amine, Lebanese Presidential Elections, Lebanese Shi'a, March 14, March 8, Nabih Berri, Nassib Lahou, Nayla Mouawad, Robert Ghanem, Wiam Wahab

The habit of breaking the constitution: Forming a transitional government

By Ana

As is becoming increasingly common, breaking the constitution is another way for forging the easy way out of facing our country’s problems. Lebanese Army Commander Michel Suleiman presented himself, upon the recommendation of former Defense Minister Albert Mansour, as a candidate to head a transitional government should Parliament fail to elect a new president.

I have serious contentions to such a move:

1. On a psychoanalytical level, Suleiman is at the end of the day a military figure. The reason why Lahoud and Aoun are problematic is because they too are military figures. Lebanon today does not need a military figure to lead this nation.

2. What happened to the constitution? I invite my readers to actually read the constitution, which all too clearly stipulates:

[Chapter] III. The Executive Power
[Section] 1. The President of the Republic

Article 62 [Vacancy]
Should the Presidency become vacant for any reason whatsoever, the Council of Ministers exercises the powers of the President by delegation.

[Chapter] I. Election of the President of the Republic

Article 73 [Election of the President]
One month at least and two months at most before the expiration of the term of office of the President of the Republic, the Chamber is summoned by its President to elect the new
President of the Republic. However, should it not be summoned for this purpose, the Chamber meets of its own accord on the tenth day preceding the expiration of the President’s term of office.

Article 74 [Vacancy of Presidency]
Should the Presidency become vacant through the death or resignation of the President or for any other cause, the Chamber meets immediately and by virtue of the law to elect a successor. If the Chamber happens to be dissolved at the time the vacancy occurs, the electoral bodies are convened without delay and, as soon as the elections have taken place, the Chamber meets by virtue of the law.

Article 75
The Chamber meeting to elect the President of the Republic is considered an electoral body and not a legislative assembly. It must proceed immediately, without discussion or any other act, to elect the Head of the State.

Suleiman is seriously violating the constitution because nowhere is there any mention of the possibility to create a transitional government and under no means is he allowed to sideline the Seniora government, which is the only entity that can constitutionally take over the president’s extraordinary powers. By offering himself as an alternative candidate for an alternative scenario (i.e. transitional government), Suleiman is challenging Seniora’s legitimacy to rightly follow the constitution’s sole procedure should Parliament not convene. Since when does bypassing the constitution become a feasible option when the constitutional option of extending the Seniora government’s powers exists?

Suleiman’s visit to Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir now comes out as very problematic and begs the question, has Sfeir approved of such a legal violation? It is quite impressive how prone Bkirki is to fatal mistakes. No Lebanese shall forget the church’s serious miscalculations.

Additionally, the statements we have been hearing attempting to justify this move are beyond outrageous:

1. Mansour ridiculously stated: “Such a government would be in keeping with established practice, which is for a president to hand over power to a Maronite prime minister. It happened twice before.” My question to Mansour: since when does established practice take precedence over following the Constitution? I actually am not aware of the second scenario Mansour is referring to besides Aoun’s premiership when a Maronite headed a government so reader input would be great if you can provide insight on this. Nevertheless, Mansour is relying on a political episode like the time of Aoun’s premiership to justify the credibility of Suleiman’s candidacy. Is there anyone out there that actually calls Aoun’s premiership constitutional? History has proven that Aoun’s government was illegal from beginning to end.

2. Lahoud (read Syria) said in a statement that he would not hand power over to the present Cabinet: “I assure you this will never happen. This is why I am calling for the formation of a cabinet of national unity, because in case the presidential election is not held, this cabinet could run the country, simply because it represents all segments of our society.” Ultimately, it is clear who inspired Mansour to approach Suleiman. It is also clear that Suleiman got the green light and blessing from Lahoud to present himself as a candidate to replace him. Given that Lahoud is the official puppet, what does that make Suleiman, associate puppet?

3. Amal MP Ayoub Humayed, as well as his fellow comrades from the March 8 bloc have called the holding of parliamentary sessions as unconstitutional. However I have a question: It is also unconstitutional to not hold a parliamentary session to elect a new president. Therefore, which is more unconstitutional, holding the session or not electing a new president? And actually, according to the constitution, Parliament can convene under “its own accord” to elect a new president ten days upon the termination of the president’s term of office.

In light of my above analysis, I have these concluding remarks to make:

1. The commander-in-chief of the army is supposed to be a solid figure for unity. The army, at the end of the day, is what is currently holding this country together, and has, despite all odds, done a tremendous job. However, the moment you take the head of this institution and put him in Baabda, the army will no longer serve the Constitution and will therefore no longer serve the Lebanese people.

2. Suleiman’s self-appointment as candidate calls into question his true loyalty to this country. After all, Syria would want nothing more than to have control over Baabda and the Lebanese Army.

3. What does all of this mean for Aoun? Suleiman is a dangerous contender to Aoun’s bid for the president because both have the position of Army Commander on their CVs. Aoun can certainly not be happy with this development because he is sidelined, and God forbid his personal ambition for Baabda be contested! Ironic enough, I am looking forward to the FPM making a statement that Suleiman’s move is unconstitutional. Should they do so, they will in fact be only too right.

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Filed under Albert Mansour, Aoun, Ayoub Humayed, Bkirki, Emile Lahoud, Fouad Seniora, Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanese Army, Lebanese Constitution, Lebanese Presidential Elections, March 8, Michel Suleiman, Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, Syria

Replaying their cards, the opposition’s official backing of Aoun should raise some eyebrows

By Ana

Three months back, Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri had announced the three candidates he would consider elligible and legitimate to run for president. His list, he had said, represented the unified interests of the March 8 bloc. The three names were Boutros Harb, Jean Obeid, and Fares Boueiz. Berri had classified them as the only three candidates the March 8 bloc would be willing to vote for come November.

And yet yesterday, the cards changed: Berri reiterated that presidential elections should be held on time, Abbas Hashem called Aoun the modern Napoleon, and Wiam Wahab called Aoun the only candidate capable of replacing Lahoud. Let’s analyse this a bit more:

1. Wahab was talking on behalf of the March 8 bloc and called Aoun’s candidacy for the presidency legitimate and officially supported by the movement. He stressed that March 8 should not stop supporting his candidacy.

2. Wahab placed an ultimatum to his public: either Aoun or no one at all. This raises some questions. Does he not know that March 14 will never let Aoun take the presidency (and thankfully they can still guarantee this constitutionally because they hold the majority)? In otherwords, the most liable of the two scenarios is the latter. But will March 8 keep its word? “No one at all” means that the cabinet will take over the executive powers of the presidency. The cabinet of today and of November is the Seniora government. Is Wahab serious when he says that March 8 is willing to not have anyone as president? If so, they would constitutionally have no choice but to allow the Seniora government to take over all extraordinary authority. Eyebrows should be raised because Wahab did not refer to the looming scenario of a split government where the legitimate current government will be pitted against that of the minority.

3. Most importantly, how could it possibly be good for Aoun if he is equated to Lahoud? Wahab called Aoun the only capable politician able to replace the current president, saying the replacement “should be like Gen. Emile Lahoud: a resistance fighter and a believer in Lebanon and not in the orders of foreign embassies, a believer in the state and a believer in his people.” So basically, Aoun is capable of being another Lahoud: i.e. take orders from Syria, counter the tribunal efforts, move away from the West towards Iran and Syria, and guarantee that the country remain in economic dissmal and political catastrophe. Yes, he is right, Aoun is certainly capable of replacing Lahoud in that regard.

But of course, the FPM and their leader fail to see behind these ego-boosting words. Aoun hears from March 8 that he won a “World War” in the Metn. He hears that they call him a Napoleon. But does he remember that Napolean’s disastrous miscalculations, ambition, and military stupidty are the very reasons why he lost against Russia? You cannot fight winter. Yet Aoun thinks he is capable of more than just fighting the weather.

Even the United States now considers the general to be officially within the March 8 bloc and that means as a serious contender to the existence of the Seniora government. Earlier this week, the Bush administration issued a list of prominent business men that are allegedly funding members of the March 8 bloc, including Aoun and the FPM. I am therefore very glad that the Metn elections happened right after to show the world just who these supporters really were. They were not the Maronites who mainly voted for Gemayel. They were the 8,400 Tashnag supporters, 2,500 SSNP followers, 2,000 Syrian naturalized Lebanese, and the list goes on. Thankfully, however, the Maronites are not the ones being labeled by the United States. The Christian Lebanese saved themselves with these elections.

Why should eyebrows be raised? Because Aoun is no longer the Christian leader. It is almost impossible to compete with his voting record when the last elections he had back in May 2005 got him over 70 percent of the Christian vote. When Aoun left March 14 back in 2005, he took all the Christians with him. Now, the Christians are back where they belong, but Aoun is no where to be seen.

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Filed under Amin Gemayel, Aoun, Fouad Seniora, Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanese Christians, Lebanese Presidential Elections, Lebanon, March 14, March 8, Syria, Tashnag

Aoun can’t manage a political party

By Mezzo

Until recently, I never asked myself whether Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) could be turned into a political party that could survive him. This thought, however, came to my mind after seeing Aoun everywhere; leading every appearance, on every TV debate, at every reunion, and in every newspaper. Basically, everywhere and barely any trace of Camille Khoury, the real candidate against Amin Gemayel. The real point of concern is whether any member of the FPM can see the difference between starting a political movement that requires a LEADER, and the making of a political party that requires a MANAGER.

Let us go back in time, when Aoun created his movement: One member from his closest ones started drawing an organization chart while all others were attempting to contribute enthusiastically, thinking that they were making history that night. Their contribution to the creation of the FPM movement became louder and louder until Aoun, who was listening to his most trusted colleagues with exasperation, nervously realized how far behind they were from his great ideas and vision. Being the Leader, he briskly claimed ownership of that crucial moment, confident that his preconceived ideas would do the job just fine. Aoun redrew the organization chart on a brand new piece of paper, exactly like he would have done it in the army. Aoun looked around, screened the faces in the room, steered in the air trying to visualize few others from older days, and started filling names in the empty boxes. He had just created a political movement and he proudly spilled it out to his team with excitement and a large smile on his face. Of course, everybody agreed with him that this is the best that can be made. It was a long night that stretched to the early hours and what Aoun did not know, was that few from the team returned home with a tail in between their legs. Every day since, unwillingly, Aoun made somebody go back home with a tail in between his legs. After a while, they all got used to it, and so did he, on the justification that it is the privilege of a LEADER.

If a movement requires a structure and a team, then a party needs a responsible team of people that are empowered. To expand from the few to the masses, time is of the essence, and therefore empowerment is key for success. That is exactly what Aoun missed and still is missing: the manager’s skills. He micromanages his whole team and every situation that arises. He basically does not trust their capabilities being not powerful enough and enough hate to reach to the masses.

Aoun presents himself as the champion of democracy, names family members in key FPM positions and then blames the others for being feudal and anti-democratic. Aoun’s supporters look exactly in the direction he wants them to look and see exclusively the problem among the March 14 political leaders. For Aoun, closing the parliament is a rightful democratic act when the majority doesn’t do what the minority wants it to do. Closing the roads and burning tires is against the law but not really when it is in the name of citizen’s freedom of speech and movement. Occupying Downtown can’t be his fault if Seniora refused to resign. Aoun’s democracy is of his own vision and creation, stretching it at every situation to meet his needs. Meanwhile his naïve supporters are just amazed and proud to have him as a chief and a champion of democracy.

Aoun simply acts and behalves like the chief of a tribe who is always right and never wrong while his fans and supporters are stupidly steering towards him with gaping mouths. For him, DEMOCRACY is simply in his path bothering him in whatever he wants to do. Aoun finds it always in the middle just in front of him, and at every occasion he never miss and tumbles on it. Aoun has the stereotype profile of a dictator and if it wasn’t because of DEMOCRACY, he would have terminated every politician, fired every responsible, criticized every head of state, and many more things.

No, Aoun is not a manager and his FPM movement will not survive him, unless new blood from within dares come forward.

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Filed under Amin Gemayel, Aoun, Camille Khoury, Fouad Seniora, Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanese Christians, Lebanon

Are Bkirki and the Archbishop in agreement?

By Mezzo

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.

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Filed under Aoun, Bkirki, Fouad Seniora, Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanese Christians, Lebanese Sunnis, Lebanon, Ta'ef Accord

Partially smart, partially orange

By Mezzo

I am confused. Actually, I am puzzled, and the more I think about it, I am impressed.

Impressed by how far a distinct group of politicians think that their partisans are … partially smart.

Omar Karami yesterday, Ibrahin Kanaan four days ago, and Nicolas (another FPM tenor) the day before Kanaan, are all wondering: how can all this be happening? And so they speak up loudly (read: think loudly): where is the state and where is the government, who is looking after our borders, we heard of Fatah al Islam in the news 9 months ago but did not take the 14th of February seriously. And then they would always conclude their statement on a very “ego” rewarding note: The unconstitutional Siniora failed to do what he should have clearly done.

Since the July 2006 war, we did not hear from this cohort a single statement, or condemnation, or mention, or astonishment, that our country, Lebanon, is being aggressed day in day out. They were focusing, day in day out, on Hariri, Siniora, and corruption with an implacable construction of their own world being unaware that the harsh reality is simply bigger and more complex than that they are yet to realize.

They missed the pitiful reality that their partisans are not even partially stupid.

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Filed under Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanon