The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

Thanassis Cambanis​ & others mis-reading Aoun-Gaegae shift, just as Aoun-Nasrallah alliance was mis-read 10 years ago

(Just a note as thanassis pointed out to me I mis read his point on the likelihood of a weak president now: he also believes this scenario is less likely than before. But this begs the point further-isn’t this development then a pretty important structural shift!?)

Thanassis Cambanis​ has a blog post below that argues (as several commentators very quick out the post are today): “it is not a game changer” in reference to the new christian alliance.

He says:
“In any event, even if the wider alliances fracture and regroup, there’s no reason to believe we’re witnessing anything more than a rearrangement of the supporting cast.”

I think he is wrong – my piece will be out in a few days as we need to have more time to soak in what is really going on.

My initial reading is that this is indeed a major event and does represent a new and powerful dynamic in Lebanon and possibly somewhat beyond.

I will just remind analysts that few realized 10 years ago (almost to the day!) that the Aooun-Nasrallah alliance (FPM and Hezbollah) was real and anchored on some structural shifts. Many mis-understood this as a flash in the pan, mere interests etc… ten years later we can see how wrong they were in the analysis.

Thanassis also argues:

“In other words, no polarizing zaim like Aoun, Geagea or Suleiman Franjieh. Pushed to bet on a name, I’d pick the current head of the military, Jean Kahwaji, a safe choice to preserve security without tipping the political balance or posing a threat to the hereditary majors.”

— I also think he is wrong here. That may be a safe bet, but it now looks increasingly unlikely as the ceiling of christian demands just got higher – there must be a strong christian president, something acknowledged by many of the politicians who were just visited during our research conference in Beirut!

Remember Future and M14 always said it was hezbollah and aoun blocking a president – now “the christians” agree… and the other side with Amal movement from M8 will be hard pressed to get a nice christian president that can be easily pushed around like many argued was the case with former president Sulieman. And they will be hard pressed to now be clearly the obstructionists.

He ends by saying, “Meanwhile, Lebanon’s demography marches onward, its Shia plurality bustling and its Sunni and Christian communities in decline (so long as Syrian refugees don’t enter the calculation).”
— Here he is wrong as well. The sunni part of the equation is decidedly NOT declining (not sure where this assertion came from).

What is missing in his analysis here is how the Christians and the Shia largely agree about a new electoral law that will likely be to the detriment of Future movement – not because of any declining sunni demographics (the opposite is actually happening) but because of Future’s structure and electoral map and their declining support.

Hashed out in my next piece monday/tuesday!

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Written by nickbiddlenoe

January 19, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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