M-14 win in Lebanon

The March 14 bloc in Lebanon, that is heavily supported by the US and Saudi Arabia, came out ahead in yesterday’s elections in Lebanon.
Qifa Nabki has done a great job of pulling together and assessing some of the dominant current western explanations for this outcome, here.
Qifa’s own main explanation is this:

    Far more decisive, in my opinion, seems to have been: (1) the high turnout of Sunnis in Zahle — many of whom came from abroad — coupled with a low turnout of Christians; (2) strong feelings of antipathy towards Hizbullah by the Christians of Beirut who voted decisively for March 14th’s list in the district of Achrafieh; (3) some rare rhetorical blunders by Nasrallah in the past couple of weeks, calling the events of May 7th [2008] “a glorious day” for the resistance.

This last point might well track with the one Paul Salem had made Friday, namely that “Hezbollah didn’t really want to win and give up its cozy seat in the opposition.”
Certainly of the “experts” Qifa refers to in the post, I would trust the judgment of Qifa himself and of Paul Salem considerably more than that of Andrew Exum, Rob Satloff, or Tony Badran.
The prime contest in the election was not, as many western analysts wrote, between Hizbullah and its opponents. Because of Lebanon’s blatantly gerrymandered and discriminatory political system, the Shiite Muslim community that is the largest single religious community in Lebanon, representing around 40% of the population, has only a tiny number of members in the confessionally constituted parliament. Hizbullah could only ever expect to keep the 11 seats in the 128-seat body that it had before yesterday; and it has done that.
The main contest, then, was inside the grossly over-represented Christian community. Here, Hizbullah’s allies in the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) apparently lost in a major way to supporters of March 14 who are also members of extremely well-entrenched political “families” and ardent supporters of the present system of Christian political privilege.
The FPM and its leader, General Michel Aoun, had offered a clear alternative to that system, as well as a strong political platform for this election. For those reasons, despite some other other misgivings I have about Aoun (and about Hizbullah), I wanted their alliance to win. Hizbullah, by the way, also supports a “de-confessionalized”, one-person-one-vote system in Lebanon.
It is truly anomalous that so many Americans, including Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, intervened in the election to support the anti-democratic March 14 coalition.
Now, I hope we can see another broad national unity government in Lebanon, like the outgoing one but hopefully a lot more effective in meeting people’s needs than that one.
There are, of course, several issues remaining from the election itself. Nicholas Kimbrell writes in today’s Daily Star that Carmen Jeha, the Deputy Coordinator of the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE) said her organization had identified over 900 “critical violations” of the election law.
To his credit, Kimbrell leads with that news, and then mentions the efforts and assessments of the the Lebanese Alliance for Election Monitoring (CLOE), which fielded Lebanese-citizen observation missions “with 2,500 monitors countrywide”, and which also noted significant violations.
Kimbrell then goes on to note that the Lebanese Interior Ministry, which organized the elections, and the foreign election-monitoring teams fielded by the EU and the Carter Center, had all given the election process relatively high marks.
I expect that in much of the western media, the assessments of the foreign monitors will receive a lot more play than those of the indigenous Lebanese monitors. But why should westerners need to give undue weight to western monitors (whose reach inside the country is anyway miniscule compared with that of the indigenous Lebanese organizations)?
If we really support democracy for all peoples, shouldn’t we also highlight, celebrate, and respect the work and assessments of indigenous Lebanese democracy-supporting organization much more than those of western teams who just parachuted into the country for a tiny proportion of the whole campaign process?

22 thoughts on “M-14 win in Lebanon”

  1. Agree with the observation about the discriminatory nature of a system that pre-allocates quotas to different religious an ethnic groups. What do we call a system where power is allocated to ethnias and 60 year palestinian guests do not even have rights nor vote. Not democracy, possibly appartheid.
    Oh, and Hizbulla gets to keeps it weapons and militias. Not sure if there is even a name for such a system and wouldn’t want to live in one.

  2. In any democratic free elections, the political parties run to get more support from their voter despite their religion/colour and ethics.
    In Lebanon due to colonial flavour under the French mandate the confessional formula allocated political positions to the various communities in accordance with an arbitrary population ratio (6 to 5) based on the 1932 census taken under the French mandate. So they created the Minor Loyalties not a National Loyalty.
    So in this election in Lebanon all the “Political” Parties haven’t show any National Interests in their campaign process.
    None of them bring health, education, public services and other national needs of people of Lebanon to be debated between the “Political” parties they have spent their effort to get voters on ethnic /religious basis which is motivated by outsider and supported heavily here as Saudi/US support faction and the other side supported by Iran/ Syria.
    Can we tell this a free democratic election as such?
    This should bring to your minds exactly what GW Bush set in Iraq when he did his ugly setup of election in Iraq when the country was dropped in heavy violence status and we saw US /Bush prizing Iraqi for their democracy. Even then we read now democratic elected government in Iraq!! How much truth in that go figure out, just as in Lebanon if not worse.

  3. Titus is amazed that Hezbollah gets to keep its weapons but not the fact that Saudi Arabia as reported spent thousands of dollars to fly in Lebanese expatriates to vote.
    What would be truly amazing would be VP Biden as well as Hillary flying into a more amazing situation like an election in Saudi Arabia.

  4. The Iraqi electoral system is nothing like the Lebanese system.
    Iraq has a pure form of proportional representation based on party lists as practised in most of Europe, South Africa and many other countries in the world.
    PR is the fairest and most transparent electoral system there is.
    In contrast, Lebanon basically pre-allocates representation on a confessional basis, not as the basis of a fair and democratic nationwide vote.
    In addition, the constitutional powers given to the Iraqi Parliament allow the Opposition to form cross-party alliances to act as a break on executive power and govt legislation. Checks and balances.
    A very good recent example of this in action was recently, when the Iraqi Parliament forced the resignation of the Minister for Trade.

  5. Omop writes:

    Titus is amazed that Hezbollah gets to keep its weapons but not the fact that Saudi Arabia as reported spent thousands of dollars to fly in Lebanese expatriates to vote.

    Of course I am, expat votes are legal, moral, and done by both sides. Having a minority rule Lebanon by the force of its weapons may be old hat in the Arab world, but it is not the norm. Specially with the tired excuse of defending against Israel when Israel has no beef there and it is Syria who had occupied Lebanon for decades.
    What about them Palestinians? A Palestinian goes to Europe or the US and in five years has a green card, all rights to pursue education, occupation, property, etc. Palestinians in Lebanon live as Pariahs for 60 years. Where is the Arab solidarity? Where is their famous hospitality? Very nice to share a coffee with kardamom with a guest, but we are talking more than that.
    Shameful apartheid you have in Lebanon. Where is Carter? He was there saying the elections were fair, what about the Palestinian vote Mr. Peanut? Are you also on the take like H.C?

  6. Israel has no beef with Lebanon? As I understand it, the primary ‘beef’ is that Israel ethnically cleansed Palestinians from Palestine, forced them into Lebanon and now claims it is Lebanon’s responsibility to ensure the victims of ethnic cleansing never trouble the perpetrators. Failing to do so, Israel periodically invades and kills Lebanese by the thousands, all the while claiming it has ‘no beef’ with Lebanon.
    When a a force emerges in Lebanon that wont follow that program and actually has some skill in fighting back, Israel views it as the whole world’s responsibility to ensure they are never reminded of their past misdeeds or inconvenienced by them in any way.
    Funny how that works.

  7. Titus Dementia ,
    PALESTINIANS were ethnically cleansed from their homeland.
    This system has a name ” LEGAL RESISTANCE ” until the last Palestinian returns to his homeland, PALESTINE and every inch of land is returned to its Natives and only then your will experience Arab and Muslim hospitality that you’ve known before the Zionist project.
    You are not invited, okay babe!!!!

  8. So Lebanese are upset that Hezbollah’s attack on Israeli troops following the withdrawal quickly became Lebanon’s problem, when it was supposed to be a short, sharp, decisive establishment of permanent insecurity for Israel.
    Continue enjoying the Levantine indeterminacy your electoral arrangements provide you, it’s one of the more INTERESTING aspects of Israel as well. By INTERESTING I mean Syrian-inspired deaths of random independent members of your political classes, of course.

  9. A very good recent example of this in action was recently, when the Iraqi Parliament forced the resignation of the Minister for Trade.
    bb, What you know about Iraqi Minister for Trade?
    US forces arrested his sister while she tried to cross the border to Iran carrying with her US$40 Millions!!!
    Its a good examples humm, isn’t BB?

  10. WMD was a big lie that Iraq invasion built on, democracy and freedom in Iraq were the second most misused terms in occupied Iraq today.
    BB, I don’t know what trigged your believe there is democracy in Iraq.
    One point to refresh your memory BB,Iraq’s constitution was drafted by the Zionist Noah Friedman….he is so proud setting his project of “Nation Building” in Iraq during Sheikh Paul Bremer III.
    As if Iraq a new nation or state need to developed as a new nation, this Zionist forgot that Iraq had a nation 5000 years old and Hammurabi’s Code of Laws the first ever law introduced to this world.
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to Baghdad on April 25 2009-06-09

    Clinton got a question as to how democracy relates to education, another question on democracy and minority rights, and two more questions on democracy and women’s empowerment.

    she was only prepared to use the word ‘democracy’ intransitively, and only once, by saying “…[Iraqi] women have committed to supporting this new democracy through their votes and their actions.” Clinton concluded the session by adding, “And what I have seen over the last several years is a very strong desire on the part of most Iraqis to have a united, secure, stable, peaceful Iraq.”

    she wouldn’t insert the word ‘democracy’ in there somewhere,

  11. I’ve been wondering why the Corporate Media narrative has been all about defeat for Hezbollah. It sounds like Hezbollah held its own.

  12. I’ve been wondering why the Corporate Media narrative has been all about defeat for Hezbollah. It sounds like Hezbollah held its own.

  13. IN other words, the election was about the Christian privilege, and not surprisingly, the Christian minority essentially voted to keep its privilege.

  14. IN other words, the election was about the Christian privilege, and not surprisingly, the Christian minority essentially voted to keep its privilege.

  15. To Eurosabra with her ” qualifications in the field of Jewish Studies,….I’ve been paid for it at institutions”
    remember your history well next time when comments here
    History Revisited in Lebanon Fighting

    The history also suggests that Israel’s previous military campaigns and occupations of Lebanon played a decisive role in creating this new enemy. Some analysts in Lebanon believe that the new bloodshed and a renewed attempt to fashion Lebanese society to Israel’s advantage could generate yet another permutation, one that is perhaps even more irreconcilably hostile to the Jewish state

    The idea, Israeli officials explained, was to create a free-fire zone where it could be assumed that anybody moving around was a Palestinian guerrilla and a fair target for Israeli warplanes or artillery fire. The result over the next year, however, was a long list of civilian deaths — farmers carrying tobacco crops to market, families picnicking on jagged hillsides and villagers caught in their homes when stray bombs landed.

    Eventually, increasing numbers gave up and fled to Beirut. These families, most of them Shiite Muslims, took up residence in what was then undeveloped land between southern Beirut and the international airport — and now is the teeming Shiite suburb known as the Dahiya.

  16. Remember well what you really want, we do. Remember clearly. Syntactic mobility of natural Hebrew word-order not so different from yours, and immortalized by George Lucas it is.
    One of the banes of Israeli policy towards Lebanon has been the heavy-handed, “remind them they are Arabs” approach, when in fact Lebanon, with its dependence on civil peace and overseas trade, is susceptible to exactly the same forms of indirect coercion as Israel. The Beirut Airport Raid of ’69, in which Israel destroyed empty aircraft in retaliation for the death of one Israeli at an airport abroad, was proportionate–one can destroy quite a lot of property in retaliation for the taking of a life, and at that point the Lebanese Gendarmerie was still capable of limiting the use of Lebanese territory for terror attacks against Israel.
    Unless of course you want to argue that Lebanon’s sovereignty has declined to the point where it’s liable to re-occupation by any power to re-establish civil peace, or that Hezbollah acts as an agent of the Lebanese state. Joke and reminder of continual Arab intransigence you are.

  17. The Beirut Airport Raid of ’69, in which Israel destroyed empty aircraft in retaliation for the death of one Israeli at an airport abroad, was proportionate–
    Wonder if your “Syntactic mobility of natural Hebrew word-order” tells you killing one life of yours caused to rush like “Ox” to destroy that land and that filed, then claiming its “proportionate”, as same as in 33day war. So fanatics isn’t?
    Were your remembering from killing innocent civilians theft their land homes then?
    Remember your Israeli “intransigence” peace Loving people caring about human lives….
    The Great Hammurabi code of low stated:
    If an ox be a goring ox, and it shown that he is a gorer, and he do not bind his horns, or fasten the ox up, and the ox gore a free-born man and kill him, the owner shall pay one-half a mina in money.

  18. bb, What you know about Iraqi Minister for Trade?:
    Google Iraq trade minister Iraq Parliament.

  19. I’ve suggested before that a bicameral parliament might be a solution to Lebanon’s representation problem. Turn the current parliament into an upper house that uses the old confessional system of representation, and create a lower house that reflects true demographics. Make sure neither house is powerless. That way anyone worried about one group annihilating another group has the upper house to look forward to, while the lower house can have accurate representation.
    Hezbullah didn’t really want to give up its cozy opposition seat. Well it sounds like then that Hezbullah’s alleged commitment to one-person-one-volte goes only so far. That cozy seat indicates that Hezbullah’s benefiting from this anti-democratic setup as well.
    Speaking of Hezbullah, why does it need to have the destruction of Israel as an explicit part of its mission statement? Why not drop that call for Israel’s destruction, replacing it instead with a commitment to the defence of Lebanon. Dropping that call would not be the same as recognizing Israel or disavowing the Palestinians’ right to return. The alternative mission statement I’m suggesting would affirm Hezbullah’s right to defend Lebanon’s integrity from any foreign agression on its soil. With this new mission statement, Zionist hardliners would be stripped of any excuses they’d have of making war with Hezbullah.

  20. With this new mission statement, Zionist hardliners would be stripped of any excuses they’d have of making war with Hezbullah.
    Don’t count on it.

  21. That would also imply a de-facto cease-fire across the Blue Line, meaning the cessation of Hezbollah kidnapping operations for leverage, perhaps even the cessation of terror operations like the AMIA and embassy bombings in Buenos Aires, and its massive infrastructure of terror in the Tri-Border Area of Latin America.
    Israelis don’t care about Lebanese civilian deaths because we know Hezbollah hunts Jews everywhere in the world as part of its genocidal commitment to being a proxy of the worst scum of Iran. Inkan is suggesting an impossibility, hopefully Lebanese Shia will wake from their bad dream of Nazi succession before more Latin American Jews have to die.

  22. Again, it would be interesting to examine the mass mobilization against Israeli-inflicted violence in Lebanon by Israelis in 1982 (and to a lesser extent in 1978 and 1974) and try an in-depth social study, cross-referencing it to see how and when similar layers of Lebanese society have demonstrated against Hezbollah violence against Israelis and Jews abroad, and why, as opposed to demonstrations against Hezbollah violence against the Lebanese Army and the events of M8 (May, not March 8th), which is a fairly well-investigated occurrence.
    The mirror-image weaknesses of both societies and governments cause a chain-reaction after each incident that brings both to a generally-mobilized public and a state of war, one that the legal infrastructure (1701 and the generalized recognition of the Blue Line) already exists to prevent. A simple announcement of cessation of offensive action across the Blue Line by Hezbollah, or the abandonment of large-scale Israeli response to small-unit harassment, or implementation of 1701, or Hezbollah’s recognition of Israel’s fulfillment of 425 would be enough to stymie that dynamic. None of this is forthcoming, and I suspect for good reason–there is legal infrastructure in place for a binding cease-fire based on the Blue Line and 1701, but no push for it, at least because of the Sheba’a Farms. So you get local modus vivendi like Ghajjar and negotiations through the Germans, despite a recognized border and functional states that could police a peace on both sides.
    Lebanon: always the NEXT state to make peace with Israel. B’ezrat HaShem.

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