Indeed, if there is one song that all Lebanese agree on, it is “Bhebbak Ya Libnan”. Thanks to Fayrouz’s rendition of this Rahbani masterpiece, the song has become the country’s stealth national anthem if there ever was one, far more inspiring than the platitudes of the “Koullouna”, our official national anthem that proclaims that we’re “All for the Nation" (What else would we be for?).
So, to say that singing and politics are linked in the case of Feyrouz is an understatement.
Yet for all our pride, Fayrouz’ success in the wider Arab world is such that she has grown far beyond
One can understand the position of those opposed to see her singing for torturers, cultural capital or not... As we are often reminded, the Syrian regime only needs people to talk to them, and it will feel validated anytime someone does so. So, even when someone goes there just to spit at them, they will claim that it is raining.
That said, if a regime feels the need to draw legitimacy from a singer, it means they are really in dire straits.
All the singing of Fayrouz will not help them understand reality any better, and neither will it change the key fundamental fact that the Syrian regime is clutching at straws, sending his lapdogs on a barking spree, and even threatening to pull a Delamarre on the foreign ambassadors. Bashar is mistaken in betting of French frivolity and Arab weakness; the fact is that, contrary to Kaddafi, Bashar learned all the wrong lessons from Saddam’s demise. In his stubborn alignment with Iran, he may well have “lost the Arabs”, and could soon lose the Turks.
On the positive side, our tired national diva may unwittingly help prepare the “post-Bashar” era. For all the miscreants who govern them, Syrians remain a decent people with whom we’re going to have to do business with after this regime is gone...