Monday, August 24, 2009

Lebanese Political Leadership and Nepotism



Nepotism is alive and well in many countries all over the world. But it is so well entrenched in the Arab world and in Lebanon that it renders the terms democratic and elections a mockery. The Syrian Arab Republic was ruled by Hafez Assad for thirty years ; 1971-2000; and when he died his ophthalmologist son was asked to come back from London where he had been living to inherit the Syrian dictatorship. Most of the mock elections held in Syria were won by an Assad who usually received 99.9% of the vote. Mohamad Hosni Mubarak has been the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt since the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981 and he is already making preparations for his son to take over. Libya has had Muammar Qaddafi as a president for over forty years; since a coup in 1969; and he is also making preparation for his son Saif to take over. As for Saudi Arabia, Jordan , Morocco and the Gulf states they are more honest about family rule since each practices one form or another of the monarchical system.
Lebanon, the pretend state ,on the other hand likes to think of itself as a modern democratic republic when in fact it is ruled and controlled by traditional modern day feudal lords whose power is rarely challenged or even questioned and whose sphere of influence is viewed as being rather saintly. Rafic Hariri is assassinated and his Premiership passes automatically to his son Sa’ad who has not lived in the country for a long time and whose knowledge of its policies and social formation is practically nil. As if that is not enough Sa’ad is seriously thinking about bringing into the Government another one or two Hariri neophytes. The same story repeats itself ad infinitum. Pierre Gemayel who started the Phalange party modeled around Generalissimo Franco’s fascist brown shirts passed the leadership of the party ,just like anyother family heirloom, to his sons who have in turn passed it along to their sons. It is doubtful that either Sami or Nadim Gemayel has any qualifications besides the family name. (Rumours have it that one of these young Gemayels will be given a Ministry to run in the new cabinet) The same pattern repeats itself with the Frangieh clan where the leadership has passed from father to son to grandson. And then there is Walid Jumblatt who not only inherited the leadership of the Druze but also the mantle to the Progressive Socialist Party. Note the irony. A rich feudal lord inherits, based on kinship only, the leadership of a clan and the Progressive Socialist Party that obviously can neither be socialist nor progressive. Its funny how all of these political feudal lords always have next of kin that are ready to assume their role in order to continue the charade that we call democracy.
The names mentioned above might be the most powerful and the most egregious but they are by no means the only unquestioned political dynasties in Lebanon. There are the Arslans, the Salams, the Beydouns, the Karamis and the new comers of the Aouns,possibly the Beris and Lahouds among others. Why all of this nepotism and undemocratic practices? Is there a special virus in the water of the region or in the air that we inhale?
The current impasse in forming a cabinet is very much related to nepotism. No major party in Lebanon takes a stand dictated by ideas. It is always about personal power and spheres of influence. It is never about Lebanon the state but about the preservation of privilege and the ability to abuse power. This is no fertile ground for democracy , these are the conditions to ensure that any longing for true responsible representation is suffocated at birth. Yet what our feudal lords and abusers do not realize is that one can check freedom only for so long. Eventually the people will rise and the yoke of exploitation will be broken.

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Note that within days after this post Hakim of Iraq dies and his son inherits the party leadership no questions asked; Qadaffi continues his antics by becoming a car designer and The Progressive Socialist Jumblatt is represented at the AlSader commemorations by his son Timor. (The PSP and the Druz have no say in this since Walid Bey IS the PSP and is the one who decides for the DRUZ.

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