The Victory Was Like A Defeat

Jihad el-Khazen

Dar Al-Hayat, Lebanon
/08-2007/Article-20070814-643a4fad-c0a8-10ed-01eb- b70dabb40108/story.html
Aug 14 2007

On the day of the by-elections in Lebanon, I said in this column I
would have voted for President Amin Gemayel if I had been a voter in
the North Metn and I am still holding the same view after his loss.

In addition to the personal, old and lasting relationship with
Sheikh Amin, I find that he deserves the victory for different
reasons, the most important of which are his high potential and
his wide experience. Furthermore, the seat became vacant upon the
assassination of his son Pierre, and I do not mean here bequeathing
a political office nor do I mean political families. I rather mean
scoring a victory for the young martyr by voting against the idea of
assassination and those behind it.

The result is well-known and General Michel Aoun won through his
candidate Camille Khoury, but the victory was like a defeat. In fact
the results have revealed a regression in Aoun’s support among the
Christians whom he is supposed to represent. Two years ago 70% of
them had lent him support in the parliamentary elections, but now
this support has receded to 40% of the Christians against 60% for
Amin Gemayel. I also heard Minister Michel Murr’s speech on TV and
I found most of it true. If we consider that Murr’s share is around
20000 voters, added to the Armenian voters ranging between 7000 and
9000, and around 5000 Syrian Nationalist voters including Maronites
from Al-Ashkar family and others, and naturalialized voters, Aoun’s
share drops to 20% or less of Christian votes.

Yet, Lebanon is not for the Maronites or the Shiites or any other
community. It is either for all its population or it is for no one in
particular. After trying to free myself from any personal emotions
or inclinations, I note that Sheikh Amin committed mistakes in his
electoral campaign, the least of which is not the underestimation of
Armenian votes. They voted as a compact group and Sheikh Amin is fully
aware of this as they had been the Gemayel’s allies over consecutive
elections. In spite of this, it seems to me that Sheikh Amin was
surprised at their attitude and launched an attack on them after the
release of the results. But I see them as the best Lebanese community
since they never carried arms against anyone and never offended anyone,
though I heard the Tashnag now has an international dimension through
Armenia’s relations with Iran.

I carry on as much objectivity as possible and I say I wish that Amin
Gemayel, instead of attacking the Shiites and criticizing General
Aoun for his ties with Hizbullah and with Syria through this party,
had submitted a specific platform, and then adhered to what we know
of him in terms of keeping the lines open with everybody and in terms
of caution in making statements and weighing up each word he says.

The results would not have been of the same significance had the
candidate been Sami Amin Gemayel, not the former president himself. I
heard the son’s name repeated in the initiatives taken by Michel Murr,
the Armenians and others, yet such initiatives did not meet with
success. Had this been the case, both parties would have engaged in a
battle without Amin Gemayel being a candidate, thus keeping his name
among the candidates for the presidential elections.

Do I need to say that the country is fractured and agreement is
indispensable? The readers have reminded me of the extent of divisions
in the country as half of them were for Sheikh Amin whereas almost
the other half were against him, along with a small number of neutral
voices. La’ek Assad said that Amin Gemayel is the most competent
candidate and he started to raise doubts about the cultural standards
of the Lebanese people taking into consideration the vile talk by
Michel Aoun.

Ahmad Al-Kutami called on Lebanese politicians to listen to reason and
considered him a safety valve out of fear of going in the direction
of more threatening forms of disagreement and he saw Amin Gemayel as
the best candidate.

Ibrahim Isma’il said that if he had been a Lebanese voter, he would
have asked for new and young faces in parliament, hoping they would
mend the disagreements caused by prominent families.

Aziz Al-Khasawnah said he likes Lebanon and the Lebanese, and he
is confused at their fondness with warlords and confessionalism,
as well as their reliance on foreign parties.

Yasser disagreed with me over my support for Amin Gemayel without
showing any support for Aoun’s candidate. Hassan advised me to be
neutral and said that my opinion was not objective, and so did Abdo
Shankir while Mohammad Al-Moftah criticized Amin Gemayel and talked
about rudeness on the part of some pro-government figures such as
Walid Jumblat. Hisham Al-Taki welcomed the day of ‘great faithfulness
to General Aoun who did not sign the May 17 Agreement, did not help in
the coming of Syria and Israel, and was not disloyal to his country.’

President Amin Gemayel did not sign the May 17 Agreement and the
by-elections are behind us now while the presidential election is
scheduled next month unless the process is not disrupted. I do not
know who will be the holder of the presidency bit I know who will
not. The future president will not belong to either March 14 or March
7. A compromise candidate will be elected otherwise no one will.

While each of the two parties has the power to hinder the process,
none of them has the ability to impose his views on the other. The
entire country is at risk if each party believes it can monopolize
the final say in the presidential election. It will only lead the
country to a constitutional vacuum that will leave the door wide open
to evil as if Lebanon now does not have enough of it, if not more.

Hizbullah has stated that General Michel Aoun is its only candidate
for the presidency and I heard a confirmation by party leaders in
this regard. This means that General Aoun will not be the coming
president, and similarly every pro-March 14 candidate will not be
elected president. I personally wish that Nassib Lahoud would be
elected president as he combines a rare blend of abilities, integrity,
and moderation.

I will not involve the reader in the social talk on the roles of
Syria and Iran, or on the vulnerability in the commitment of some MPs
belonging to the majority, or the final attitude of Michel Murr, his
allies and Joseph Skaff’s parliamentary bloc. I will not fabricate
options simply to appear as a person who knows what the others are
not aware of. All I can say is that several names are put forward,
the most prominent of which are Michel Sleiman, Jean Obeid, Fares
Boueiz, Ryiad Salameh, and Michel Eddeh. All of these, especially
General Sleiman, have a known record which makes them eligible for
the presidency, though I prefer that he stays army commander-in-chief
for the rare commanding abilities he has displayed so far. As for my
own choice between Jean Obeid and Fares Boueiz, I wish them a better
luck than Amin Gemayel’s in the by-elections, and I also wish Lebanon
a better luck.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS