Saturday, September 29, 2007

Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend? Part II

While tackling the issue on certain situations, I would like to apply the concept Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend on the Lebanese level.

Lebanon by now has two dictated lines of “friends.” The first is embodied with 14th of March considering the following scenario: The Trio alliance of Future – Lebanese Forces/Phalange – the Progressive Socialist Party (feudal to my new readers). In any occasion the latter two parties were major antagonistic factors in opposing each other during the war, and spearheaded the Lebanese Front and the Lebanese National Movement during the civil war. Of course the coalition also has several minor actors as well which makes it even stronger. Hence three rivals shook hands together in an attempt to repel the returning ‘Syrian-Iranian’ axis. Afterwards, the PSP shook hands with a new friend, which is the United States, which previously also was an arch-enemy for the PSP during most of the years of the civil war. We should not forget the powerful non-party figures with 14th of March, such as Neyla Mou’awad and Ghassan Tuieni.

Hence the current final equation of the 14th of March would be: their own coalition, in addition Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, other gulf countries, United States, France, and others. This also include on the Palestinian level the support for Fatah, which enjoys currently US support and Israeli sympathy (proved again this week by releasing over 160 Fatah prisoners, and to be released, in an attempt to balance against Hamas).

Now we have the Opposition. The Opposition is composed mainly of 8th of March and the Free Patriotic Movement. The 8th of March is made of Hezbollah, powerful political figures (such as Michel el Murr, Sulieman Frangieh, yes I know he has a party but primarily it is a one man show figure, and Elias Skaiff), the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, AMAL, Tashnag, and others. The addition of the Free Patriotic Movement broke the trademark of 8th of March being tagged “Shiite” by the government, specially at the FPM’s earlier stages it dominated the majority of the Christian Street. The FPM has a lot of figureheads, but sadly everyone simply remains quoting Aoun. Aoun also dubbed Hezbollah as “terrorists” when he was in exile only to find himself in alliance with him for political interests. Hezbollah and AMAL intervened a lot on the SSNP and Lebanese Communist Party only to end up as allies. Several members of the SSNP used to accuse Aoun on public TV as a “traitor”, now they call him “the Perfect Presidential Candidate”.

With the Opposition come their alliances: Iran and Syria. With those alliances of course comes the support for George Galloway and Hugo Chavez, as opponents to US Imperialism. Third, they support Hamas, as a Hezbollah replica for resistance and political survivors. Fourth, support to (and vice versa) from anti-US imperialism. This increased in dimension when the July war broke out and Hezbollah were tagged as “National Liberation Army”, “New Zapatistas” (although that surprises me drastically as they differ in their platforms), “anti-US Imperialism”, and last “Anecdote to Zionist Aggression.” Fifth, they enjoy support (again via Hassan Nasrallah) the support of a lot of masses subject under Arab dictatorships such as Egypt. The Palestinian Jordanians in specific had a controversy among each other after Saddam was “executed”, they wept because Saddam always expressed solidarity to the Palestinians, but Hezbollah were celebrating in Dahhieh when Saddam died. Solidarity to Hezbollah dispersed. In most cases, the driving force is Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement.

So, as we notice, a lot of enemies are friends. Jaajaa and Junblatt shaking hands, SSNP becoming the breaking factor of hording votes to let Aoun’s candidate win against Gemayel, and so on. All of these are considered as short term alliances. They love each other for short run goals. A member of the Democratic Left would tell you: “Do you think I love Jaajaa, but hey I don’t want to be living in an Islamist Princedom.” Or a Aouni fan would say: “What do you think? You think we forgot how AMAL used to deliver us to Syrian Second Bureau? But we are fed up of Harriri stealing our food and money.” A trillion example can be found, but yes, as one fellow Palestinian activist in Lebanon told me: “I personally don’t care if Galloway is screwing up currently Marxism, but we have no choice in the matter, we have to think on how to oppose the United States, then after we win, we face them.” This is the same, another Democratic Leftist told me: “Once we are victorious against the Iranian Hezbollah, then puppet Syrian AMAL, then we will go and question Seniora’s policy, for now he is doing perfectly great.”

In any case, the last two cited quotes are excessively repeated on every situation. A member of the Lebanese Communist Party will find any chance to go and celebrate victory with Hezbollah because their rigid dogma would tell them: “Resistance to Israel comes first and above everything else.” Hence the Lebanese Communist Party argues he is with no one, but rushes down at every chance to support Hezbollah “in the name of resistance.” During the July war, actually I saw it one step further: Hezbollah assisting Helem in the relief work (via Samidoun) with maximum support. For those who do not know what Helem is, it is a movement composed of gay, lesbian, bisexuals, and even straights to defend homosexual rights in Lebanon (personally that movement is on my respect list). May be the July war was a survival critical moment, but that shows how the political arena is a survival moment.

The politicians impose historical amnesia on their supporters. Not one supporter encouraged the writing of a single unified history of Lebanon, because all of them have their hands dirty. And “Enemy of my Enemy is My Friend” is justified for survival moments. We have seen it in the past as well. In the 1950s, the Phalange and the SSNP were comrades in arms to defend the reign of Chamoun in the face of Nasser’s growing influence while the LCP was on the other side. Just a word not related to the entire topic, it never seizes to amaze me how politicians constantly downsize the historical role played by the LCP and the SSNP. Then we saw in 2005 George Hawwi (before getting assassinated) happy to see his step-son Rafi Madayan getting votes from the Phalange and doing vice versa. Actually the only illogical alliance, to top Aoun-Nasrallah lullaby would be Nasrallah ordering his supporters to support the Lebanese Forces in 2005 elections. More than once Nasrallah and Walid Junblatt supported each other as well. The greatest shock would be all key players agreeing on Suleiman Franjieh Sr. as President to get rid of the “Third Force”. This means Kamal Junblatt and Pierre Gemayel agreed with each other briefly. Even more ironic is the present, indirectly Samir Jaajaa and Amin Gemayel currently support via 14th of March their arch-enemies during the Lebanese Civil War, Fatah.

Once you support any of the two lines, you are stuck with the two earlier formulas or equations I said earlier. None of them would really care about real issues. 14th of March would say: “Oppose Syria/Iran”; the Opposition would say “Oppose Israel/United States” (except for the Aouni fans, they get lost sometimes between support for Aoun and that issue). Each neglects his own foreign sponsors and attacks the other’s.

In relation to Marxism and the situation, there can never be a “An Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend”. Marxism knows no such details, nothing at all except the emancipation of the Proletariat. Henceforth, we may support middle run goals which I would define gradual progress (such as better welfare system, civil marriage, transparency) but the bulk would remain: “Revolution of the Proletariat”. Someone told me that because we think that way the Lebanese Communist Party became that rigid, while Order for Communist Action disbanded. I say it is quiet the opposite. What made us go down is the quite the opposite. It is thinking of Short Run goals that got us to the situation. To bandwagon with the right-wing, declining on our goals, worse, drifting gradually away from the essence of our ideas that got us here because we lost the way to mingle with the masses, and lost them to Sectarian parties. While the Communists of the 1920s were doing a great job in building trade unions, now the trade unions became institutions under capitalist dictatorships that oppress their own syndicate members rather protect them from Capitalism. The most famous example in this regard would be the Syndicate of Engineers. No fresh engineer can find work in Lebanon unless he pays heavy material expenses to the Union and acquire membership. The Lebanese Communist Party still lacks the incentive to investigate whether Stalin is a real Marxist or not. It is irrelevant for them after all. It is also irrelevant for them to see the resurrection waves of Islamist and Patriarchal oppression to women. For once I would like to see the LCP proving me wrong about something, and it is easy to do so: let a female comrade for once lead the Lebanese Communist Party!

No War but Class War!


Renegade Eye said...

You see that in the US. Pat Buchanon a real reactionary, against the war in Iraq because he is nativist, gets treated like he's a real progressive in any sense.

La Lebanessa said...

A palestinian friend of my husband's summed up a much more realistic attitude: after the July war, he told my husband that he absolutely loved Hizballah, but he also added that if was Lebanese instead of Palestinian, he'd absolutely hate them.

People change their alliances to maximise their benefits. However, a more optimistic view would be that people change their alliances to correct their original mistakes!

Wassim said...

I'm thrilled to discover your blog...well done.

Angry Anarchist said...

In relation to Marxism and the situation, there can never be a “An Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend”. Marxism knows no such details, nothing at all except the emancipation of the Proletariat.
Really? Even when it comes to Soviet behavior during WWII? Or for that matter, in Afghanistan?

Dearie, Marxists and pretend-Marxists are actually notorious in internalizing the 'enemy of my enemy is my friend' logic. :) But of course you are too obsessed with March 8/14 to notice anything beyond it. :D

Dave said...

Soviet behavior in WWII and in Afghanistan was in no sense Marxist.

MFL is absolutely right to stress that this idea that 'my enemy's enemy is my friend' is alien to the method of Marxism. Of course we can make temporary alliances, even with reactionary forces, but to refrain from speaking what we really think about these alliance partners, in some sort of ideological truce, is completely counter-productive in the long run.

That kind of popular-frontism has a lot to answer for in terms of the poor state of the left today - around the world, but particularly in the middle east.

MarxistFromLebanon said...

comrade dave
AA was just teasing me as that blogger always does :P, if AA meant it then AA has serious issues about history ;)