Everyone is cheering “we have won”, “we protected democracy”, and “they caused it and we taught them a lesson. Probably yesterday’s elections proved the exact opposite in Matn, this probably the only elections whereby no party won, and worse, the proletariat became more divided.
Through the past two weeks, escalations rose to new level. One faction regarded the other as “Syrian Dogs” or “US Agents”. Each slammed the other with accusations, and the history was re-opened in a “nice” way to attack the other. Allow me to say something, anyone who attacks the history of Amin Gemayel and Aoun’s participation from 1982 till 1989 are idiots and ignorant in Lebanese history. And if one sides with one of these two due to this era, they are more sheep. The purpose I say that is because the history of Amin Gemayel and Aoun in 1982 is the same, they worked together, and they loved each other. Their history is one, and I wrote couple of articles on them here, and there.
Aoun promoted Gemayel as the butcher, and as the man who invited the Syrians over. He seems to forget that he was the one responsible for Tel el Zaatar massacre (Check the early episodes of al-Jazeera), and he was part of the federation plan of Bashir Gemayel and Antoine Najm, which included the invitation of Israel over to install a puppy government under Bashir Gemayel. Aoun was actually responsible for protecting Amin Gemayel while he was forging the US sponsored peace treaty with Israel, which became known as the 17th of May Agreement. Gemayel also is responsible for the kidnappings of the Lebanese in “West Beirut” during his early reign of terror, but Aoun seems not to revive it because he was part of that dirty process.
Both claimed to represent the Christians. Gemayel doesn’t hide it, he belongs to a fascist party (hence the name Phalange). Aoun had a secular movement which he demolished in order to evolve and become a Christian Sect Leader. From a movement that demanded Civil Marriage became a movement that strictly demanded a proper Christian Leader that was Aoun. Aoun’s quest for presidential powers and his insanity about how “self-virtuous” he is got him to ally with his arch-enemies, whom he dubbed as terrorists.
The importance of such election is important. While Beirut was taken for granted that Harriri dominated the Sunni Street, Matn never really had any in-official referendum (or official). A lot of things took place after the 2005 Parliamentary elections. For Starters, Aoun swept most of the Christian areas under the promise he is a strong leader who will defend Christian interests. In his face, he had the Lebanese Forces/Phalange, Hezbollah, AMAL, Future, and the feudal Progressive Socialist Party. He won the hearts of his audience. He returned exile (which was a five stars location in France), and directly entered elections. His sole target is the Lebanese Presidency. And he swept… he had pro-Syrian allies who desperately needed his alliance to bandwagon in order they remain in the political game, he needed them in order to attempt to gain majority of the Parliament, and he was almost successful. He after all revived Christian glories. He took for granted that the Christians will follow him because they simply love him. What happened in Matn and the ousting of Nassib Lahoud was evident, he was the most powerful Christian figure who dominated with a landslide. The locations where he lost, it was on a minor difference.
Things took a difference change. Assassinations remained on-going without Aoun reacting to them because they were in the other camp. The first tides of change for Aoun was the assassination of Jubran Tuieni, a 14th of March and the Alliance with Hezbollah who till this very day he calls it “understanding” rather “alliance” His obsession for more power when he ran a candidate against Ghassan Tuieni had a nice hatred generated towards him . Eventually, his allies opened a full scale war with Israel which dragged the whole Lebanese into the war with Israel, and he remained attacking the government. Christians began to lose confidence with him, and the non-Muslims FPM (who were there to oppose Syrian hegemony) already left in majority the party because Aoun started to promote his Free Patriotic Movement as Christian. The third change was the assassination of Pierre Gemayel, whereby Aoun still reacted coldly, and that in return also shoved Christians to switch sides. Actually Pierre Gemayel Jr.’s assassination was really a major slap in the face for Aoun, who took for granted that the people support his decisions no matter what because he is simply Aoun. Pierre Gemayel came from a family that represents the heart of Christian Sectarianism and “Christian glory”. The Fifth migration of sectarian Christians from his Camp to the other is due to his on-going stubbornness to carry on with the sit-in and refuted to cancel it when they failed to oust the government. Actually, his key role in the civil disobedience in January, with casualties falling for all side, also participated in this transfer. Last was his insistence that he is the consolidation president between both camps and insisting on it, but he neglected totally the Iranian/Syrian factor active in Lebanon. With the last elections, results showed how he lost a huge number of supporters. He barely won against Amin Gemayel, and not with ‘Christian votes’, rather with his allies’ help, he no longer can claim he represents the Christians.
The results of Matn are disastrous for Aoun. Now, he cant totally rely on himself to sweep elections, rather he has to depend on ex-Syrian officials (like the Mafioso Michel Murr and the SSNP) to win. Amin Gemayel’s stubbornness to promote the traditional logic of Christian glory (inherited from his father Pierre Gemayel) caused Aoun to lose such a number. Amin Gemayel for starters had a lot of factors to assist him. For starters, he was the perfect candidate to be nominated by March 14th Alliance because he was the father of a recent “Christian Martyr” (his son) and the brother of the Christian popular, the butcher Bashir Gemayel (another Christian Martyr). Moreover, Aoun’s blunders and over self-confidence has shoved a lot of supporters to his side since the ‘Change’ he promised didn’t materialize in Matn, specially with his alliance to the most powerful figurehead Michel Murr, actually Michel Murr was second in command of the coalition which Aoun himself spearheaded: Reform and Change. No change occurred, rather his blunt alliance with the pro-Syrian Social Nationalist Party and Baathi Party allowed 14th of March to capitalize on it and promoted Aoun as a “Syrian Dummy”. Furthermore, the logic of 14th of March that only a 14th of Marcher would inherit a parliamentary seat of their assassinated martyr paid off, because a lot of voters came to vote as “No to assassinations”, and henceforth Aoun was contributing to justify the assassination of the politicians of the opposing camp (so far all assassinations were directed against 14th of March figures on the political level). This campaign pushed the seculars in general to vote against Aoun.
So where Aoun went wrong so that Amin Gemayel would bring balance to Matn against him? How did suddenly a Man who swept Matn barely had his goon, Camille Khoury, winning on few hundred votes (406 votes)? For starters, the Free Patriotic Movement, unlike 14th of March, base all their conversations on citing and quoting Aoun. Second, the candidate, Camille Khoury was just a name, while the battle was dubbed as Aoun versus Gamayel. Actually, during the electoral campaign, only Aoun was the figure head along with his two relatives, Alain Aoun and Joubran Bassil. No picture of Camille Khoury appeared during elections (except in tiny few locations) while the portraits of Aoun or the Orange flag (representing Aoun rather his supporters) were pinned on the route. Whenever Camille Khoury appeared, he tried to promote himself as a Christian figure. His exact words were that “each vote for me would restore Black Friday for the Christians”. Eventually, what Aoun allowed him to win were his non-Christian base, unlike the 2005 results. His primary votes came from the ultra-Nationalist Armenian ally, the Tashnag, whose members in general regard themselves as Armenians stuck in Lebanon, and the decisive votes came from the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, which generated couple of thousands of votes which allowed him to win. So the question is, did Aoun learn that can he promote himself as the most powerful Christian? His insanity or his pride might drive him to do so. Worse, his campaign on blaming everything on the government and disregarding the background of his allies is not paying off. Rather, his claim as “sole Christian representative” collapsed.
This will give Aoun rough time, and will provide him with an aftermath which he does not want. Already his “Open Demonstration” to oust the government has failed, now he lost more bargaining powers with his allies. Aoun’s strength with the Opposition came from the fact he is the most powerful Christian figure, obviously he is not after Amin Gemayel’s votes came from hard core Christian fundamentalists and moderates who were fed-up from the situation of Matn being under the warlord Michel el Murr, or worse, the Matn became more bi-polar than ever, which caused the division line to be clearer. There was no room between for a third way in it, a third candidate was running, he barely got any votes. Aoun may have won with a couple of hundred of votes, but his losses are too much to claim such victory (and we all know he will go self-proclaiming himself as the sole defender of the people). For starters, Hezbollah till NOW never announced Aoun as their presidential candidate and they are keeping their options open for a nice business deal with 14th of March, specially informal meetings between Saudi Arabia and Iran are still on-going. Second, Aoun’s bargaining powers have shrunk in size, despite his 400 vote difference victory, he now has to rely on the Opposition parties who still currently maintain good relations with the Baathi regime. Third, adopting and supporting the Islamic resistance didn’t have a ring tone when Bush literally proceeded to freeze accounts of Lebanese supporting the Opposition. Fourth, he is still re-writing history with facts that are too much known, such as accusing Rafiq el Harriri with giving the Lebanese citizenship to foreign workers, while fact goes that over 8,000 foreign worker were allocated in Matn (Murr’s Domain) so that Aoun’s primary ally, Murr wins. So technically, Joubran Bassil cant tag all past woes on the current government because all his allies were part of the government/ or participated for the sustainability of Syria. Last, the ever on-going alliance between the Tashnag and Murr saved his skin, whereby the Tashnag MP Bakradonian told the Armenians: “Vote for Freedom, Vote as the Tashnag Says so”. Worse, Aoun made it clear if his candidate loses, he would accuse his rivals with cheating. Ironically the opposite occurred, with the double vote incident.
Probably Michel el Murr saved Aoun’s candidate from losing elections, but that didn’t face-safe Aoun in the eyes of his allies, as he had the SSNP/Tashnag/Murr on his side in the face of the Lebanese Forces/Phalange. Aoun’s vulgar language probably also shoved voters when he used the term: “Bil Zinnar wil Naizil” (English Translation: From My Belt and Downwards).
As for Amin Gemayel, the other war criminal, he had all the favors going for him. For starters, he is the father of an assassinated Minister, and he was running for his position. Second, he comes from the Gemayels; this family had political power since the 1930s, and historically they were the primary spearheads of the two year war (the Lebanese Front). Third, he relayed a message that any opposing figure to his campaign justified that the political assassinations are favorite, specially there is a close number of chairs between the Opposition and Government inside the Parliament. Fourth, he fully took advantage with Aoun’s alliance with the likes of pro-Syria such as Baathi and SSNP parties. Amin Gemayel also fully placed the Christians in an era between 1966-1975, when Lebanon underwent war preparations to ‘defend Lebanese Sovereignty’ (instead of the Palestinian, the word was replaced with Syrian). Worse, whenever Aoun was vulgar with his replies, he promoted himself as the sane calm politician. Moreover, Matn, like the whole of Lebanon, was severely polarized into two reactionary camps. Talk shows benefited him most as a candidate and part of 14th of March. Sadly, the Phalange/Lebanese Forces link came back in balance of power against Aoun’s coalition, and Aoun’s domination over Mt. Lebanon was restored, in favor of 14th of March. What Amin Gemayel and his allies did in Matn gave relief sensations to his ally Junblatt and any location where there is Christian availability, because the Matn is a good indicator of how Aoun’s size shrank, and is gradually becoming more and more dependent on his allies. Last but not least, Gemayel and the other war criminal Jaajaa’s accusation on Aoun, which was splitting the Christians and defending Matn from Syrian Claws also was successful.
The Proletariat has been thrown into further divisions between two versions of ‘Christian Sectarianism’ and Lebanese Nationalism. So far, just for the fact a drastic number of Aoun’s supporters has shifted from one side to another, this shows sectarianism has reached a new level. The Phalange and Lebanese Forces have been historically known to be Christian Parties, while Aoun is trying to compete with their form of Sectarianism in order to further promote himself as a perfect ‘Christian’ candidate. Kids repeat what their parents what them to be. I haven’t seen so many kids during elections repeating sectarian words or racial to the “other side”. I am of course referring to both sides.
The elections started out peacefully in Matn, with each supporters doing mini rallies in Matn. A convoy had cars mixed of FPM and Phalange, it was a nice scene at least. However, as things started to hit up, Aoun prematurely announced victory and asked his supporters to bring their Parliamentary Representatives to go to Jdeedi.
The fact Amin Gemayel was elected was for the same reason Aoun’s goon received votes in general: “representing the true line”. Yet, the driving force of the election campaign for both Aoun and Gemayel was “who was more Christian”. After the elections, Aoun didn’t dwell on that fact, rather he dwelt on the idea “the people have spoken”. So, what is wrong with this picture? NONE OF THEM PROPOSED A REAL PROGRESSIVE PLATFORM. It is rather a political struggle for territorial gains and muscle showing. Shame on any secular who voted for Amin Gemayel or Aoun’s candidate: Camille Khoury.