But frankly, the ‘ouwet move was impeccable.
- They had posters put everywhere in the Christian streets, they made sure everyone would know the exact date of the event.
- A few days before Geagea was represented in Bashir’s mass
- The Gemayel family was represented by Amine (Bashir’s brother) and his son Minister Pierre, Parliament member Solange (Bashir’s wife) and Nadim (Bashir’s son). This Gemayel cover will be crucial in giving the future ‘ouwet an unprecedented power, mark my words
- They also had representatives of the Tayyar or at least the Aoun block! This is pretty interesting because the Tayyar was respected and now has no reason to attack the event, if however Aoun would criticize it he would regret it because the event was in general very “Aoun-friendly” and most of all Tayyar friendly
- There were ALL of the 14th of march representatives (one by one). The loyalty that the ‘ouwet is showing to the 14th of March figures will pay off later on in future elections because of local support it would get them, the Tayyar failed to do so by failing to cooperate with historical political families and when the Tayyar cooperated with the local families he failed to preserve their particularity and they were usually mutilated politically
- The whole Druze political cast was present (except for the Jumblat of course who was firing at Hezbollah from another corner)
- There were a representative of the Parliament president (Pro Hezbollah!). This is of course a smart move from both the ‘ouwet and the head of Parliament (Nabih Berry) who’s discretely but firmly creating a distance between the Amal movement and Hezbollah, as a first step toward inheriting Hezbollah once the latter is weakened.
Now of course there are certain questions about all these preliminary works and invitation, such as the origin of the money that was invested in this meeting (I wonder if the Future movement provided the money?) the ‘ouwet itself has no real money, it was either confiscated by the regime after 1994 or illegally transferred to ‘ouwet members living abroad, the amount is mediocre and there’s no legal obligation to return the money. Even if it was given back, I doubt that the money would be thrown away like that. I don’t know, it doesn’t matter anyway, it’s not as if Iran is paying. Some time would have to pass before we would see the real criticism to the event.
The amount of people that massed in Harissa that day was also interesting for the two reasons.
First of all it was held in Harissa, near Bkerkeh, that’s where the Maronite Cardinal resides. It’s historically a reference for Christians, before Geagea was released and Michel Aoun came back, Bkerkeh was the bastion of Maronite Christians. Just a reminder it was the Cardinal who had given the first huge blow for the Syrian presence, resulting in a huge polemic in which very few dared to stand and defend the Cardinal’s demands. Gebran was still alive back then and his famous Open Letter to Mr. Assad was also historical but the Cardinal was the head of the Maronite church. At that time the Cardinal tried very hard to mobilize the international opinion to help Lebanon and pressure Syria. The world was not ready to listen to us. The Cardinal made a visit back then to the USA and none of the important officials would meet with him (what a change of attitude, now the president himself meets him!). Back then, and at the Cardinal’s return to Lebanon there were a massive reception and masses walked to Bkerkeh to salute and support the Cardinals demands… 100 000 person gathered in Bkerkeh back then, and even though we failed to get anything from the international community the Cardinal’s position was firmly established and all the voices that called the Cardinal an “Israeli traitor” suddenly went silent.
The reason why I remember all this because back then the Cardinal’s position represented the whole Maronite community and dignified it for the first time in a whole decade. The Tayyar members have certainly not forgotten that historical blow of hope and I hope that Aoun would remember just how crucial it is for us to see some sort of dignifying position from his side, how we refuse to see our support to him diverted into a support to Hezbollah. If he fails to see that then maybe the ‘ouwet would do a better job and maybe assume the Christian Political opinion that the Cardinal had assumed but that wasn’t his role. The numbers certainly remind us that event 5 years ago.
The second reason why these numbers are so important is that they give Geagea’s word (after the mass) so much credibility and reducing the importance of “I’m 70% of all Christian people” philosophy that Aoun has been using to prove that the Tayyar is much larger than the ‘ouwet.
Personally I am not really interested in who’s going to be the political representative of Christians. I did say this before and I repeat it right now, the Tayyar did not give Aoun all these voices he gathered. The Christians are pretty diverse and above all we have a lot of historical parties, the ‘ouwet and the Tayyar are the strongest but it’d be irrational for any to try to simplify it. During 2005 Geagea was in jail and many Christians suspected that his wife cannot represent Geagea’s opinion, especially when it came to the alliance with the Future movement and Druze and many ‘ouwet members preferred to vote for Aoun (who was allied to no one) on voting along with the Druze and Sunna. This has changed, those voters refuse to see their voices diverted for the Benefit of Hezbollah and Syria, and everyone is seeing the political closeness between the Druze and the Maronites in contrast with the divergence between the Shiia and the Christians. The memorandum with Hezbollah was a mistake and the Christians are trying to send that message to Aoun right now.
Now as for the Geagea’s word itself. The word itself was excellent. Excellent for many reasons.
- The word addressed Hezbollah and Nasrallah directly. It put in words what the Christians are saying every single day. He expressed a direct criticism to Hezbollah. It was just as strict as Nasrallah’s word. It did create a balance, for years now the Christians have been under the impression that they cannot say things exactly as they see it, that they have to be extremely diplomatic and avoid speaking what might hurt the feelings of others. While the other part is publicly attacking the Christian figures and provoking street.
- I would also like to emphasize on the fragment where Geagea insists that the Christians have nothing to fear, that they should let no one intimidate them. Directly defying Hezbollah’s assaults on the Christian areas (such as the attack on Ashrafieh after a political program criticized Nasrallah and the assault after the Danish cartoon polemic). From now on Geagea has in fact set a new level of criticism tolerance from the Islamist side. In spite of all the criticism that Geagea directed to the Nasrallah none dared to go on the streets and burn anything saying, “they have dignity”
- The participation also indicated that the Christian street is still mobilized and powerful enough there fore sending a message to the allies that they ought to give more weight to the Christians and engage more in the protection of the Christian areas and people
- Geagea insisted on the ‘ouwet’s alliance with both the Future movement, Jumblat and all the Arab sides who showed support during the war. The Masses indicated clearly that the Christians are still committed to their alliance in the 14th of March movement and in the Cedar revolution and that all the talks about any Christian closeness with Hezbollah is not on the public level
- Geagea and the crowds showed great respect to all the political rivals starting from Michel Aoun and even Hezbollah. There were no hostile slogans and even when Hezbollah was mentioned no one expressed any disrespect. There were just hostile shouts when the word “Syria” would be mentioned… You didn’t expect the ‘ouwet to become angels did you?
- Geagea mentioned in his word many Martyrs that used to be considered as ‘ouwet’s enemies, even René M’awwad, Kamal Jumblat and Dany Chamoun, the ‘ouwet were accused of all these murders, but the ‘ouwet denies. This is all in part of the effort to give the ‘ouwet a wider representation and a sign that there is significant difference between the ‘ouwet before 2005 and the ‘ouwet after 2005
- But there were no negligence to the past. It is true that Geagea showed respect to non-‘ouwet Martyrs but Geagea also reminded the resistance role of the ‘ouwet mentioning Zahle and other Christians bastion of what was back the “Lebanese resistance” in contrast with the modern Resistance. At the same time, linking and contrasting the two movements and the two concepts, reminding Hezbollah and others that the Christians once held weapons and they can do the same again but also that the Christians are fully aware of what Resistance can be… Very poetic huh? Well when you examine very closely the ‘ouwet and the Hezbollah have more in common than they like to admit
In brief I could simply say I am satisfied with the new balance of power that’s being built. Hopefully the Lebanese people are learning how to better monitor their political inclination. And I hope that the ‘ouwet would show more awareness than Michel Aoun, the best would be if they both learn from all this. That way, instead of having one leader (whether it’s Aoun or Geagea) trying to cancel anyone else, we would have 2 that would compete and work hard to preserve the public support… Maybe, just maybe, this is all baby steps toward learning democracy!