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31 October 2016

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The Twisted Genius

I was preparing a post about this, as well. These are my comments on the development.

As far as I’m concerned, This is the best outcome for Lebanon. In the photo above, Michel Aoun seems every bit the stately elderly statesman, even boring. But there is a lot more to this stately statesman. I first saw his name in the 10th SFG(A) isolation area listed on a butcher paper briefing chart as the new commander of the newly reorganized 8th Brigade. Before long I was watching Aoun and his Brigade develop and enter combat. He defended the ridge of Souk al Gharb against the Syrian supported Druze militias of Walid Jumblatt. The fighting was bloody, loud and desperate.
He continued to fight that war long after I was gone both as commander of the 8th Brigade and later as commander of the Lebanese Army. In my opinion, he saved Lebanon.

If that wasn’t enough, he was later installed as head of an interim military government, declared a war of liberation against Syrian occupation, fled to France in exile, and reconciled with Hezbollah and Syria upon his return. He’s no wallflower.

All the old names are still there: Jumblatt, Berri, Frangieh, Nasrallah and Geagea. I’d like to think that deep down these now old men are concerned about the Lebanon they will leave to their grand children. That Johnny-come-lately, Saudi tool Hariri is also in the thick of it. Israel and the Saudis are not at all pleased. Tough. Live with it.

Rule well, my brother.

TTG

The Twisted Genius

This young Lebanese medical student offers a detailed take on the politics leading up to Aoun's election. It's a fascinating read.

https://moulahazat.com/2016/10/31/how-michel-aoun-became-the-president/

BraveNewWorld

Thanks for the article. While I have a pretty good idea of most of the countries I am way behind on my knowledge of Lebanon. Mostly because they have had so much history over the last half century.

Auon isn't ready to let Israel steal the Shebaa Farms any more than Assad is ready to let them steal the Golan Heights so expect the State Dept to label a Auon a terrorist and an anti-semite any day now.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/lebanons-new-president-vows-to-protect-country-from-israel/

turcopolier

TTG

I spent ten years as a part time Lebanese after I left government in 1994. The company was mainly Lebanese Sunni owned and made building materials in a lot of countries. I spent quite a lot of time in Lebanon and with Muslim, Christian and indeterminate Lebanese. I met Aoun a couple of times. I was struck by how tiny a man he is. You say he is a good fighter and leader of combat troops. I accept that. I don't know. In general I found that Lebanese are a lot less European than they want you to think they are. IMO that is true of all of them including the various kinds of Christians. The executive group in the company hung out together when people were available in Dubai, Beirut, London or Washington. Very cosmopolitan group, eh? Not really. I found that the old Arab was very close to the surface whether they had British, French or American degrees or not. For example, I speak French as did most of the wives in the seniors group. I was always at overseas dinners alone and talked to the women a lot at table. It became very apparent that if you talked to their women for any period of time the men became progressively more silent and brooding. Much the same thing applied in a family foundation I helped design and set up. All went well until the thing became operative. At that point all the men involved took the reins away from the women for no good reason and just let them do the work. that was typical. are they charming Yes? are they fluent in conversation? Yes? Are they really very Western? No. pl

Ali

TTG,

That's a really interesting take that I hadn't heard before. Why do you think his involvement in the civil war saved Lebanon? Did it prevent (even) further fracturing?

I am inclined to agree that he seems to be more of a leader of substance than the rest of them (although when your competition includes Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt, that might not be saying much).

Phil Cattar

Colonel,The immediate thought that comes to my mind after reading your comments is the Lebanese will play the East card when in the East and the West card when dealing with the West.After all many of them are descendants of the world's first travelling salesmen,the Phoenicians.They have a DNA that helps them get along with various types of people so they can do what they really want to do the most,close the deal.

Phil Cattar

Thanks for that link.

turcopolier

Phil Cattar

I have known a lot of Lebanon born Lebanese of all varieties. It is true that they have many of the characteristics of the chameleon but IMO at root they are oriental and should not be expected to be other than that. pl

Amir

What is the definition of oriental (-ism?)?
Would someone with tendency to see intentional bombing of anti-DAESH forces by USAF (last year near Fallujah and Ramadi and this month near Deir-az-Zour) be called an Orientalist Conspiracy-Thinker or is one ready to revise it's view of Orient(-alism)?

mike allen

Slightly off topic but perhaps pertinent is the discovery of an ancient cemetery recently unearthed in Batroun Lebanon. Although not the home of President Aoun who was from south of Beirut, Batroun is considered an extremely important site for Maronites. And is also a place of pristine beaches and beach resorts. It is said to be one of the oldest cities in the world, perhaps even older than the Phoenicians. The old Phoenician seawall there is still standing, millenia later.

http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/44630

http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/44630

Earthrise

Many Lebanese came to Australia in the 70's and 80's during the civil war. My children's godmother is a Leb, and I worked for her family in one of my first jobs delivering pizzas. They are a very family-based culture, a little mafia-esque at times; they play hard and look after their own. They treat their guests well, to whom they are very generous. You do need to keep your wits about you though; there is always a business angle they are trying to develop which requires your assistance.

In Adelaide there are mainly Christian Lebs, in Sydney and Melbourne mainly Muslim. 11 years ago this country had our worst race riots at Cronulla beach in Sydney. Lebanese males were harassing girls going to the beach, and the local surfer gang came to the rescue. Everyone called their people, and within hours thousands of angry young men were rioting on the foreshore. I still cringe at the memory of my countrymen wearing our flag as a face mask while shouting racist obscenities. Both communities showed their ugly face that day, and we all learned how bad it can get.

Lebanon is part of Syria, the Lebanese know it. Some of the minorities will protest, and the scars of the civil war run deep. But if a new Syria emerges from this smoking rubble, an even more cosmopolitan and secular one, then there will be little difference between them. And if Hezbollah become the dominant political force in the country, considering their many sons buried in Syria, this will also assist. All those damn map lines are Western anyway, about time the locals got out their own red pens.

The Porkchop Express

"It is true that they have many of the characteristics of the chameleon but IMO at root they are oriental and should not be expected to be other than that."

Colonel--isn't that horribly racist of you to say so? Surely the progressive Lebanese that frequent the coffee shops of Hamra or the Francophone cafes of Tabaris would never stoop so low as to engaging in blatant tribalism if/when confronted with a reality that is not to their liking? No, I'm shocked.

But seriously, spot on.

Mishkilji

GEN Awn saved Lebanon like GEN Lee saved the South. He did seem to garner the same degree of fierce loyalty from subordinates.

Mishkilji

The real fireworks begin with the negotiations of a new Election Law to replace the National Assembly.

Awn must sign it for it to become law.

After the elections, Nasrallah will want his blocking third in the Cabinet.

We will see how much street cred Hariri has with the Sunnis. My guess, without Saudi money, not much.

Mishkilji

This narrative overlook the role the Syrian Civil War played on this process.

Lebanon in many ways is a canary in the Syrian coal mine; Awn's ascendancy is a Saudi setback and an indication that the region is coming to terms with Bashar remaining in Damascus.

The Twisted Genius

Ali,

The 8th Brigade's stand at Souk al Gharb prevented the Druze militias, with their Syrian armor and artillery, from reaching Beirut and the International Airport at a critical time. I firmly believe this would have led to a much broader war and the spread of sectarian killings further into the Christian villages. Speaking just as a soldier, this would have a much grander tragedy that what eventually unfolded.

Aoun's strength lies in his devotion to the Lebanese Armed Forces and to Lebanon. This devotion is stronger than his factional devotion. I know this may be unusual for the Lebanese, but in his case, I think it's real.

Babak Makkinejad

I think the new Syria that emerges from the Civil War would be less civil, less free, and more religiously oriented in her makeup.

The effect of the Civil War in both Lebanon and in Syria has been to drive non-Sunni sects towards one another for mutual protection and succor and has emphasized the sectarian mosaic of both countries. This election of Aoun is an example of it; the European-oriented Christians of Jouniyeh owing their physical existence to the poor humble Shia of the South Beirut.

Furthermore, I think the Civil War in Syria finally destroyed the last remnants of Arab Nationalism and Arab Socialism - those European-inspired ideas are now dead and buried.

By the way, I heard about some altercation decades ago in Denmark between young Iranian men - political refugees there - and the Danes. It was over females.

What can I say - and then Americans want their women to be fighting on actual battle fields and become POWs.

Amir

Any different than the Cosmopolitan Flemish collaborating in harmony with their beloved Walloon neighbors, in Belgium? Indeed truly European equivalent or has the Oriental in the European Mind taken over from the Occidental due to unrestrained immigration?

ToivoS

Why is referring to Lebanese people as oriental considered racist? The mideast has its own cultures that are different from those in western Europe and the US. Why recognizing that obvious fact makes one a racist? I would think that failing to recognize those real differences would make one a colonialist or imperialist (i.e. all we have to do is civilize those barbarians and turn them into western clones).

esq

You really are gross if you "cringe" at Christians defending women from pack-rapes and abuse by Lebanese migrants who should never have been admitted to OZ.

Should be kept out of US and Europe too. Maronites and Greeks are OK.

Lemur

Proximity + difference always causes fissures and conflict, which is why we evolved nation states. Our elites seem determined to turn formerly homogeneous homelands into places for everyone, and thus for no one; with all the alienation, resentment, and ressentiment that entails. "Racist" (the Orwellian newspeak for 'preferring one's own kin') obscenities (which are always fun tbh) are the symptom, not the cause. Majorities have a right to vocally oppose their dispossession. Indeed, its hard to imagine we are forced to contend with a system that ostensibly exists for the benefit of a designated people (Australians, New Zealanders, etc), but is in fact so evil it wants to replace us Ship of Theseus style - a stealth transition. Why should we have to sacrifice the space that safeguards our unique traditions and spiritual-organic communities for the anti-human dictates of big business (immigration is nothing more than the reserve army of capital), or the cultural left's deeply perverted obsession with 'the other'?

As Carl Schmidt taught us, the 'friend-enemy' distinction is fundamental to socio-political solidarity in the Westphalian world. Mobilizing rhetoric follows along those lines.

After our bang-up job dividing the post-Ottoman ME without regard for cultural, religious, and linguistic differences (as you point out); we're now repeating the exact same error in the West. Won't it be great when we have a internecine civil war going in Syria AND France?

BuddhistHarmony

Porkchop, "Oriental" isn't a racist word .. it's neutral, like saying Asian or black .. as someone who is Asian, Oriental, it's neutral to me so Pat isn't racist in using it ..

Oriental or East Asian culture places family & education as #1 due to the primary influences of Confucian, Toaist & Buddhist philosphies (all 3 are actually agnostic secular, spiritual philosphies that have a tolerant & pluraistic view-- some but not all Buddhist sects later added dieties some sects of Buddhism)
&
a "live & let live" philosophy when it comes to letting other people live their lives however they want instead of imposing their religious values on others
via
theocratic laws which is why most Oriental/East Asian cultures easily adoppt or assimilate into Western values & almost always have had secular governments/laws for thousands of years
&
tolerate/acceptt homosexuality/LBGT (but note the exceptions of South Korea & Phillipines who had 500+ years of Spainish Catholic colonial rule or centuries long Portuguese missionaries or hundreds of years of rule by Muslims in Malaysia & Indonesia)

--so while East Asian/Orientals share Middle Eastern values of family as #1, East Asian/Oriental culture is the opposite in that while most religious Muslim Middle Easterners value religion as #1 & thus most want theocratic government/laws,
most
Orientals/East Asians prefer a secular gov/laws that let people live however they want instead of imposing their religious values on others

Phil Cattar

Earthwise,Actually a number of Lebanese migrated to Australia in the late 1800s.The same time they started coming to the US.These were mostly Christian Lebanese ,mostly Maronites,from Mount Lebanon.Today there are twice as many people who are Lebanese or part Lebanese in Brazil as in Lebanon. The Greek historian,Herodotus,wrote 2500 years ago that the Phoenicians were everyehere.Some things never change.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Tigermoth

No, not "racist" but probably a "culturalist" thing to say. (I've been in South Africa too long!)

turcopolier

tigermoth

Culture is real. Culture is important. Culture endures. If you don't come here for the benefit of my experience unburdened by PC nonsense, don't come. pl

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