In the run-up to October 23rd, the Lebanese are enduring a gruelling question time… Most people ask; who’s going to be elected President? Smarter ones ask; which president will “they” agree on?
Deep I feel that either question misses the sad fact; if a president is elected, it will not be one chosen by our “leaders”, but one that accommodates powerful interests on which we have little control.
For all their diminished power the Saudi interests around the late King Fahd still wield some influence. As much as Rafic Hariri was close to their interests, so is Saad. Ghattas Khoury appears to be his choice candidate. A secondary one would have been Jean Obeid, who is close enough to the Syrians to be marketed as a “compromise candidate”.
The “quadripartite agreement” Saad and Joumblat had struck with Hezb and Amal would have allowed them to come up with the majority needed to impose such a pliable candidate. But they had not factored in the Christian anger at such shenanigans, which resulted in Aoun’s electoral upset.
Saad is still hopeful that Ghattas Khoury is still “in play”, and he drags him along to
Ever the trustworthy ally, Joumblat is pushing quietly a couple of candidates. The “front” is fielded by Chibli Mallat, a brilliant jurist who should know better. The stronger candidate, however, appears to be Samir Franjieh, the smarter scion of the Franjieh clan, who actually knows better.
One potential advantage of a Franjieh presidency is that it would re-establish some “Lebanese” equilibrium among the Maronite clans, by moving the key Franjieh clan out of
… Then again, he is not Saad’s prime Presidential choice, so his actual patronage may be limited “systemically”. Still, fronting such solid candidates would allow Walid Beyk a say in naming the next candidate.
This time, the Syrian candidate is less clear than it appears. Via Hezb, they are pushing for Aoun, but will likely drop him for anything that resembles Lahoud. One thing is certain; the Syrians cannot afford to have anything other than a Quisling in Baabda.
They may accept Michel Suleiman, whose family they can still influence. Or they may settle for someone like Jean Obeid who has apparently fallen out of favour with the Hariris. Some believe they may find an “arrangement” with Boutros Harb. But failing that, they would prefer a vaccum of sorts; no presidency, and two governments.
The thing is, while we survived similar “duopoly” in the past, we may not survive the next one.
… But nether would
Abdallah’s In Laws
The Palestinians did not really sell their land away, but the Lebanese sure did. In an economy centred on construction and tourism, many Saudis purchased much of
No wonder the landlords feel they have a say in the next presidency; they have to protect their interests, after all. Solidere has done so well in such a bad economy that is now going “global”…
However, the Hariris were allied to Fahd. With Abdallah now on the throne, the Saudis prefer to diversify, and appear to favour Nassib Lahoud for the Presidency. Not a bad candidate; Nassib may not be charismatic, but he has proven adept at navigating the country’s arcane politics, and has so far acted rather decently.
One powerful “national” joker remains.
No, it is not Aoun; outside of a hardcore of supporters, the general is a much discredited figure. Were it not for the unpopularity of some of his other opponents, or for the chronic ineptitude of successive Lebanese governments, he would have been a long forgotten item in history’s dustbin.
The more “national” joker that remains has just completed long desert trek. Thanks to his position at the Ministry of Justice, Charles Rizk has control over the sensitive Bank al Madina file, that famous cookie jar in which all Lebanese presidential hopefuls have their hands in… And he is close to Johnny Abdo, that ex(?)chief of the Second Bureau...
So now, the scene is set. Let the play begin.
But I am not sure that it will end by October 23rd…