Thursday, August 13, 2015

Michel Aoun, leave the government! - It makes no sense to continue collaborating with ISIS

In the realm of political cretinism, the followers of Michel Aoun have been pioneers. Yet the spectacle on Thursday was beyond anything we had seen before. The sheer sordidness of their political messaging made many Lebanese wonder whether the Aounists are entitled to any regard whatsoever.

Consider this image of the former telecommunications minister, yes minister, Nicolas Sehnaoui, holding up a sign with the cartoon of a monkey wearing a blue tie — the blue tie of the Future Movement — with the following text: “Hi I’m ISIS, ISIS Can Also Wear a Tie.” Next to Sehnaoui stands another bright bulb, holding up a sign showing a bald man from behind, clearly meant to represent Tammam Salam, with the phrase: “Not All Extremists Have Beards, They Can Also Be Bald.”

Sehnaoui’s performance shows that class is no prerequisite for a ministerial appointment. You have to pause and ask: Are these people serious? Do they truly believe their contemptible accusation that Salam is an extremist? Or that the Future Movement is another form of ISIS? If the Aounists answer yes, then it’s high time that they pull out of the government and spare us all the consequences of their irresponsibility.

However, it’s funny that not so long ago Michel Aoun was running doggedly after Saad Hariri to gain his approval for an Aoun presidency. Presumably, he would have also expected the former prime minister’s green light to bring with it a favorable vote in parliament from Tammam Salam, his ally in Beirut.

So are we to understand that the general was consciously courting extremists then? Are we to conclude that Aoun will do anything, even celebrate his 80th birthday with Hariri, to be elected, all the time aware that his Sunni interlocutors are disciples of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Ayman al-Zawahiri? If so, Aoun is a hypocrite, or perhaps he was misled. If the latter, then his only option, now that he’s seen the light, is to withdraw his ministers and retreat to his borrowed residence.  

The thing is that Aoun will not pull out of the government, because he knows that if he does nothing will happen. His exit will not provoke a similar reaction from his principal allies — Hezbollah, Nabih Berri, or even Suleiman Franjieh. Aoun will be on his own, the government will likely function better, to everyone’s relief, and the general will ruin any remote chance he has of becoming president. That’s why the mendacious Aoun would remain in government even with the real ISIS.

In their frustration, the Aounists have become merely vulgar. But their vulgarity has consequences, because if Sunnis see their most moderate leaders described as extremists, this can only have dire repercussions for Sunni-Christian relations. It must be said: the crudeness of the Aounists makes one ashamed to be from the same community as Aoun and his ilk.

Time has caught up with Aoun and is quickly overtaking him. The general has dreamed of the presidency for decades, and he knows he will never see it. He has an insatiable family to satisfy but his nepotism has surpassed his ability to fulfill his promises.

Aoun’s patent favoritism toward Gebran Bassil has forced him to satisfy another son-in-law, Shamel Roukoz. However, Aoun’s mismanagement of the security nominations means Roukoz’s ambitions will be thwarted. The person most pleased with this, in our Rabieh version of Dallas, is Bassil, who won’t have to worry about a potential rival for Aounist affections down the road as he prepares for September elections in the Free Patriotic Movement. That’s assuming elections take place, amid rumors that internal FPM surveys show Bassil’s main rival for the presidency, Alain Aoun, winning. What a delicious irony if the elections are postponed in light of that information, given Aoun’s anger with the decision to delay parliamentary elections.

The Aounists are all over the place these days, but the effort to insult Hariri and Salam was beyond the pale. Sehnaoui and his comrades have scraped the bottom of the barrel — no mean feat when they have spent the better part of a decade several rungs lower. Aoun destroyed the Christians once in his political career, and is on track to do so again, supported by a gaggle of imbeciles who, demanding their legitimate rights in the political system, on a daily basis invite only scorn.   

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