Across the Bay

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

After smacking Aoun around, Michael Young turns his sights to Walid Jumblat, and warns that the wobbliness of the Moody Druze might end up costing him heavily.

Michael offered the following assessment of Jumblat:

Maybe that's why Jumblatt won't move beyond the Druze: he couldn't stomach the high expectations, and it would undermine his taste for estranging those closest to him. Jumblatt has enough trouble with his own bantam community not to have to worry about the unruly Maronites, the spoken-for Sunnis and the too cumbersome Shiites. Yet were he to realize his power, the product of charisma born of cynicism, and use this to enforce a semblance of personal consistency, Jumblatt could shape Lebanon's future as easily as did Hariri. He could speak to minority anxieties, profitably use his considerable political capital overseas, and go further in helping dissolve what remains of the war in the minds of his countrymen. Lying at the heart of a network of national relationships - sectarian, political, economic - Jumblatt is nonetheless a reservoir of wasted potential, those watching him realizing they're in the presence of a dazzling but unreliable seducer.

Also, I found this final paragraph rather interesting:

Jumblatt has a clearer sense of what makes Lebanon what it is than most of his peers: he knows it's more than a Christian refuge, as Geagea might argue; a mere services hub, as the Hariris like to imagine; a fount of anti-Israeli resistance, as Hizbullah fantasizes about; or a system capable of secular overhaul, as Aoun believes. At the midpoint of all these perspectives and somehow alienated from each, Jumblatt embodies the contradiction that is Lebanon, a contradiction born of crashing, clashing impulses. He can't be Lebanon's grand unifier because much as he often speaks to the country's highest qualities, he is also a condensation of its worst defects.

I once wrote that Lebanon's sectarian system did not hamper Jumblat from reaching the status of national leader, and that this shows how a minoritarian leader can have disproportionate influence, an influence that Nasrallah wishes he had across sectarian lines. And like Michael said, the Christians were willing to follow Jumblat, and the Sunnis were referring to him with the highest regard. He simply failed to seize it.

However, following Michael's piece, despite the deal with Hizbullah and Amal, Jumblat is not on good terms with the Shi'a and his lot lies with his "co-mountaineers" the Maronites on one hand, and the cosmpolitan Beiruti Sunnis on the other. That was the natural alliance that emerged after Hariri's assassination, and at the end of the day, the politicking, and that survivor instinct that Michael noted, will lead Walid back in that direction, accompanied with all the fanfare and moodiness that we've come to expect of him.