Across the Bay

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Decline of Michel Aoun

The Metn by-elections are over and Aoun barely won the seat but most definitely confirmed what I had said long ago, that he will never be president. In that sense, Aoun lost the real war.

Lebanon has a way of crashing the fantasies of megalomaniacs and of grandiose hubris. Aoun can just give a call to his "understanding" partner Hasan Nasrallah or a holler to Syria's murdering dictator to better understand.

Unfortunately, as is the hallmark of megalomaniacs, in jumping over the cliff, Aoun is doing his best to drag the entire country along with him. Vintage Aoun.

In that sense, he proved right much of what Michael Young said in his pre-election op-ed.

In terms of analysis, my friend Mustapha over at The Beirut Spring points to two pieces that pretty much capture the main relevant points.

One analysis is by fellow Lebanese blogger Faysal of The Thinking Lebanese. Faysal identified how all of Aoun's demagogic slogans have been thoroughly trashed in this by-election.

His Christian popularity has significantly dwindled, especially in the Maronite community, which has given two-thirds of its vote -- a number that Aoun claimed for himself in 2005 -- to Gemayel, effectively ending any fantasy (illusory to begin with) of reaching the presidential palace. This has also dented Aoun's myth of representing 70% of the Christians.

In fact, it wasn't only Maronites who voted against Aoun. Orthodox and Catholics did too. As Young predicted, the votes of Michel Murr and Elias Murr weren't secured for Aoun. Murr, a shrewd survivor, knew better than the idiotic Tashnag, who have burned bridges and gained nothing.

Another of Aoun's destructive demagogic sectarian canards has also fallen, in fact turning against him. He had spewed sectarian demagogic venom against decent Christian politicians like Gebran Tueni and others as lackeys elected by Qoreitem (Hariri's headquarter) and Mukhtara (Jumblat's headquarter). Now, having won by a meager 418 votes (down from something like 26,000 in 2005, with roughly the same voter turnout), it's clear that he won only because of a small number of Shiites (in Burj Hammoud-Nab'a) who did it because that was Hezbollah's wish, pro-Syrians (SSNP), naturalized Syrians coming to vote for Narsallah (who wasn't even a candidate), and Armenians (ironically wanting to send Hariri a message regarding seats in Beirut) in one district (Burj Hammoud) that has no Aounist or Maronite presence of any significance. Gemayel won the Christian vote outside that district.

An article by Elie Fayad in L'Orient-Le Jour made these points as well: "Cela signifie d’une part que les électeurs non arméniens du Metn ont nettement marqué leur préférence à Amine Gemayel. Cela signifie aussi que les partisans du clan Murr – Michel et Élias – ont pour le moins manqué de « discipline » à l’égard des directives officielles du premier."

In fact, Ziad Makhoul, in the second article highlighted by Mustapha, went as far as to declare Michel Murr's political heir, Elias Murr, the current Minister of Defense, to be a new pillar in March 14.

And while an Elaph report had claimed that Aoun met with a Syrian intelligence officer in Germany, and that the officer had assured him that they would secure the Tashnag vote for him, the Tashnag simply committed a monumental political blunder, never committed before, and for no gains whatsoever. In fact, theirs is a net loss, having now burned bridges with both Saad Hariri, parts of the Murr family, and now the powerful Gemayel family which can safely claim a majority Maronite support in the Metn. That's what happens when you actually tie your fate to an irresponsible demagogue like Aoun. You get burned.

Unlike Faysal, I think March 14 is well aware of these defeats and will exploit them, as Jumblat already did on LBC yesterday and in his weekly editorial today. Gemayel also recognized his advantage and declared today that he accepts the results, and so he won't be contesting the Armenian ballot. However, last he ominously reminded the Tashnag of the extent of their blunder, telling them that "there will be a day of reckoning" over their idiotic political choice.

However, echoing Michael Young's concern, that this was all a trap by the Syrians to further divide the Christians in order to impose their own candidate at the right time, the PSP's Akram Shehayeb declared the loss of Gemayel's seat a win for the Syrian regime and its new-old ploy of benefiting from dividing the Christians. Shehayeb noted Aoun's central role as a useful destructive idiot in both instances in 1990 and now in 2007. He said, "the presidential election is now that much more difficult to hold," adding that Aoun gave cover to Hezbollah's war in 2006 with his "memorandum of understanding" and now has given Hezbollah cover and pretext to sabotage the presidential election and protect Lahoud as he lingers in Baabda even after his term is finished (there are fears and speculation that Lahoud will refuse to leave Baabda after his term ends, and might form a government of his own. Lahoud, after all, does not want to be caught by interpol and hauled to The Hague for his complicity in Hariri's murder. It's best to just linger in Baabda, like an old reeking trash bag someone forgot to throw out).

All in all, a typical day's work in the disastrous political career of Michel Aoun.

Update: Aoun knows he got burned. He knows the Metn's Maronites dumped him in this election. So what does he do? Typical Aoun, he attacks them, and, again vintage Aoun, resorts to more destructive sectarian demagogy against Hariri and Jumblat! But hey, he's "secular" and a "uniter"!

That's what petty, bitter, resentful lil' megalomaniacs do.