The Mideastwire Blog

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

Nicholas Noe in Newsweek on Lebanon’s presidential jockeying


Three decades later, Lebanon’s leading Christian rivals finally reconcile, but will that get the country a president?

BY Nicholas Noe
For most people in the Middle East, the prospect that Lebanon might finally install a president after more than a year and a half of political deadlock probably passed with little notice.

After all, there are much bigger problems to worry about: The region is on fire, with multiple expanding insurgencies, an accelerating socio-economic breakdown and a sectarian conflict at its worst in recent memory.

For perhaps a majority of the Lebanese, however, the January 18 announcement that two longtime Christian rivals – Michel Aoun and Samir Geagea – would finally set aside their differences and try their best to elect Aoun as the next head of state, was indeed a major event.

“Very regrettably, we did not have a truth and reconciliation process after [the 1975-1990 Lebanese Civil] War,” Aoun told Newsweek Middle East.

“This is one important step in the process – an effort to begin to heal the Christian community as well as the larger Lebanese community. But it is also particularly important at this moment,” the 81-year-old former army commander said. “When we see Lebanon under threat and the Christian presence retreating all around us, we finally come together and have a strong voice as president,” he added.

Bitter Rivalry
For a conflict that set new standards of brutality, the intra-confessional clashes among the Lebanese were often the most vicious and unrelenting.

Indeed, in the last two years of the Civil War, (1988-1990), the remnants of the Lebanese Army under Aoun’s command engaged in a wide-ranging “War of Elimination” with Geagea’s Lebanese Forces (LF) militia.

The fighting killed and wounded tens of thousands and brought destruction to a number of Christian regions that had formerly escaped the previous 13 years of mayhem.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the scars would persist long after both men were effectively removed from the Lebanese stage, with Aoun exiled in France ostensibly for opposing the 1989 “Taif Agreement” that ended the Civil War and Geagea languishing in jail, in part for a church bombing conviction, which some argued was orchestrated by Syrian officials who essentially controlled post-war Lebanon…



Written by nickbiddlenoe

January 29, 2016 at 6:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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