As the government proceeds with by–elections to fill the seats left vacant by the assassinations of Pierre Gemayel and Walid Eido. After initially crying foul, claiming that the “unconstitutional” government has no authority to organize elections, the opposition appears to be playing along.
To those who try to follow the opposition’s logic, there is a discrepancy here; their claim that the government is illegal does not jive with their participation in elections organized by said government.
But to those who note that those who claim March 14 have squandered away the legacy of the Cedar Revolution by short-term thinking and petty corruption, another question looms;
Can the opposition win?
The Metn: Presidential Hopes
On the face of it, this is a reasonable assumption, especially when one considers the Metn District, home to the “Bteghrinator”; Michel Murr and his Armenians allies. Conveniently for Aoun, his “Bteghrinator” ally holds the balance of power in the area…
But looks can be deceiving.
True, Gemayel is much discredited, but the “Bteghrinator” has to contend with him on the long run, and he cannot count on Syrian support this time. Like it or not, Aoun will be gone tomorrow from the Metn Landscape, but the Gemayel clan is still a permanent feature in the area, and Amine has a few tricks up his sleeve.
More critically, the “Bteghrinator” has to contend with the Americans. They may be discredited but, for all the talk about a deal with Syria, they are still dead set on supporting a government, of which his son Elias Murr is also a member as Minister of Defence. Those same Americans recently declared a few shady characters persona non grata for their support of
This may hurt; it is not clear how the increasingly restive Lebanese and Armenian Diaspora would react…
At first glance, this one looks like an easy Hariri win… But looks can be deceiving, again, partly because of blatant elitist politics, and partly because of math;
First, Hariri remains to many Beirutis a Saidawi upstart. Many a Salam, Solh, and Co. resent being sidelined by him, and would like nothing more than to stick it to the son. With this in mind, the Hariri’s running of a member of a powerful Beiruti clan is smart; those extended families were often MP-makers… Now they have a shot at the throne…
Second, there is a little math in this;
So Hariri has much at stake here, especially now that
…Let the Games Begin
It all looks hard to predict, since all the contradictions will cause a lot of manoeuvring, in the run up to August 5th, we shall see how much the pro-Syrians have lost or gained. So time will tell whether the “Black Arabist” are now running out of options, like those like so many other dead-enders who are getting increasingly desperate for issues on which to squander oil money.
They cannot afford missteps, since the importance of those 2 elections extend beyond a couple of MP seats, for two reasons;
First, Aoun, with his claim of representing the majority of Christians, cannot afford to lose in Metn. And now that he named a candidate, withdrawing him would be viewed as a sign of weakeness. If he can’t elect an MP in a Christian-majority region, many would argue that he cannot claim the Christian seat, i.e. the presidency.
Second, Hezb has been much weakened, not only by the shortage of cash, but also by the loss of Sunni consensus. With Nasrallah’s “red line” at Nahr El-Bared and Fathi Yakan’s travails, the Hezb has lost any pretence of Sunni support. If it enters the fray in Beirut, even by offering limited opposition to Hariri’s candidate, it will lose even more; words do not come cheap, and there is a price to pay for the return of Sawsan “What-Took-Them-So-Long” Darwish to NBN, her non-apology… and for Berri’s non-condolences for Eido…
The opposition could still be short-changed by their Syrian masters, who cannot stand still. The Syrians may find it hard to “stay out” of it for now, and hold off the assassinations and terror attacks, the better to resume them later on…
If they lose, the opposition’s own contradictions, short-term thinking and petty corruption will be laid bare. They will have time to be reminded that they could have played it smarter. They could have avoided this predicament by offering to “resign” a couple of their MP’s to compensate for the “majority” loss. After all, they have Maronites and Sunnis to spare.
But jobs are rare in this recession.
Especially MP jobs…