Foreword by the Saker: It is my pleasure to share with you an exceptionally well written and interesting report by Ghassan Kadi about the situation in Lebanon and the dynamics in the region. I am also happy to report that Kadi will now regularly write for the Saker blog and share his insights and analyses with us. I have also agreed with him to follow up today’s article with an interview in the form of a Q&A in which I would ask him follow-up questions. I want to invite you to join me in this. If you are interested, please begin your comment with the words “question for Ghassan Kadi” and, assuming that I approve of the question asked, I will include it in my list. Please keep in mind that I am limited to something like 10, maybe 12, questions max, so I won’t be able to include a long list. But I will try my best to include most interesting ones.
The Capitulation of “Grand Liban”
by Ghassan Kadi
“Grand Liban” or Grand Lebanon ie Lebanon in its current internationally-acknowledged state borders, is the love-child of France and a byproduct of the infamous Sykes-Picot Accord that decimated the Levant to first partition it between France and Britain, and to break it up further before granting it its independence.
The French pledged to their Lebanese cronies (who were primarily the heads of the Christian Maronite politics aka the “Maronite Political Entity”) that they will uphold the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon and guard it against any future take-over attempts by Syria. To this effect, Lebanese Muslims sarcastically refer to France as Lebanon’s “caring mother”.
The “Maronite Political Entity” was very apprehensive about the inclusion of the big cities of Beirut, Tripoli and Saida into Grand Liban; cities of high Muslim population. The French quelled their fear and stipulated in the Lebanese constitution that the President of Lebanon and the Army Chief will be Maronites. The fears were compounded by the fact that the Muslims of those cities all of sudden found themselves as citizens of an entity they regarded to be a Western vassal, and they were very angry to be stripped away from mother Syria and shoved on the lap of a state they did not identify with.
When Nasser rose to prominence, many Muslim Lebanese endorsed him and jumped onto the band-wagon of Pan-Arab nationalism. That fad did not last long, but what it was replaced with was much more complex and sinister. Pan-Arabism was replaced by Sunni-Fundamentalism, and for the first time in the history of Lebanon, the Shia started to have a voice.
Up till the 1980’s or so, the Lebanese Shia played a very small role in Lebanese politics. The afore-mentioned Muslims of Beirut, Tripoli and Saida are predominantly Sunnis. They secured the position of the Prime Minister, and the Shia were left with the position of the Leader of House; not a very strategic position, but this was only a part of the issue. The Shia were neglected and their areas were impoverished. What added insult to their injury was that they were concentrated in two areas of Lebanon, the Bekaa and the south, and in the south, their southern neighbour was Israel. Against all odds, the Shia had to rise and defeat Israel scoring a historical win tantamount to the win of David over Goliath.
The rise of Lebanese Shia has introduced a whole new equation to Lebanese politics, and from within a very strong position. If anything, in the very near future, they are tipped to go from strength to more strength.
It is looking increasingly likely that President Assad will win the battle against the coalition that waged a war against Syria in 2011. As a matter of fact, this coalition does not exist anymore. It has been fragmented and the army of fundamentalists it created (ie ISIS) has turned into a nightmare for the countries that helped bring it into existence.
In the meantime, the “Maronite Political Entity” has found new local allies, in fact, the most unlikely allies, none other than their former nemesis; the Lebanese Sunnis. The two original Lebanese sides of politics, Sunni and Maronite, realized that they are both going to lose their stature unless they unite and stand against the Shia and specifically against Hezbollah.
This time, France played no more than a minor supportive role. France is no longer the super power it used to be in the 1920’s and its political and economic reach is limited. The backing of the new Lebanese alliance had to come from a different source, and, ironically it came from the most fundamentalist of all Muslim states, Saudi Arabia.
With his strong associations with the Saudis and an immense wealth, Saad Hariri, the head of the traditional Lebanese “Sunni Political Entity” formed the financial back bone of an alliance with Saudi Arabia and America, with France on the side, an alliance that was intended to secure the integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon as a distinct and entirely independent entity from Syria. Thus the so-called March the 14th Alliance was originally comprised of the “Maronite Political Entity” plus the “Sunni Political Entity” headed by Hariri, as well as the Druze leader Walid Jumblat, but Jumblat soon left.
On the other side of Lebanese politics, we find the March the 8th Coalition. The major player in this coalition is Hezbollah, but it also comprises other progressive and secular elements such as the Syrian Socialist National Party (SSNP), the Lebanese Communist Party, and against all odds, Maronite leaders such as ex:Army Chief General Michel Aoun and Souleiman Franjieh who are on the “Axis of Resistance” side. The SSNP which calls for the unification of Greater Syria has been established by a Lebanese Orthodox Christian; Antoun Saade. The party is staunchly secular and has been heavily engaged in battle in Syria alongside Hezbollah and the Syrian Army.
Whilst the union of Maronite and Sunnis in the March the 14th Coalition is a marriage of convenience with sectarian anti-Shia objectives, the March the 8th Coalition is indeed a secular coalition despite the presence of the Shia-based Hezbollah as its major cornerstone. Its members and supporters, especially the youth, are sick and tired of their sectarian constitution, among many other things.
Furthermore, the presence of General Michel Aoun specifically in the March the 8th Coalition is signaling the end of the “Maronite Political Entity”. The Maronites themselves are now split up, almost in half. One half wants to uphold the old ways and the other half, led by Aoun, want reform and good relationships with Syria.
In the meanwhile, and as the turn of events in Syria were not going in favour of the March the 14th Coalition, the incumbent Saudi King Salman did what was tantamount to a coup d’etat. Soon after he assumed throne, he appointed his little formerly known son Prince Mohammed as deputy Crown Prince, and in effect, Mohammed became the uncrowned king of Saudi Arabia.
Ever since King Faisal forced his elder corrupt and debauched brother Saud into abdication in 1964, he set a clear lineage for the throne that followed through the reigns of Khaled, Fahed and Abdallah. This has all changed, and the new prince does not like the old guards and their cronies; Hariri included.
Rumours are rife that Hariri is in deep financial trouble. His Lebanese company Oger Liban is closing doors and only employees with strong relations with the boss are getting compensation. The less fortunate others are walking away empty handed. But the Saudi mother company Saudi Oger itself reportedly is deep in debt to the tune of one billion dollars. In the past, Hariri would dig into royal coffers to be bailed out; not this time.
When the war in Syria ends, and this end does not seem very far away now, all indications are that Assad is going to win and that Hezbollah is going to be even more powerful, all the while the traditional “Maronite Political Entity” and the “Sunni Political Entity” are at their nadir.
What observers are not looking at is the fact that the state of “Grand Liban” is capitulating. Everything, all the way from dealing with rubbish to electing a president.
And speaking of presidents, Lebanon hasn’t had one for over a year. If the Maronite-ship of the Lebanese president was the guarantee of the survival of that state, how could this be possible if the Maronites themselves have not been able to agree on a candidate?
But again, this is not all.
After Syria wins its war, it cannot afford to leave a soft underbelly lurking on its borders. Lebanon has been infiltrated by thousands of ISIS activists and fighters. They are mainly located in the north and north east. Their big strongholds are the town of Arsal in the Bekaa and the city of Tripoli; Lebanon’s second largest city. Those radicals will have to be uprooted and no one can do this task other than the Syrian Army and their Lebanese allies. Those who cannot see this clean up coming will be surprised when it happens.
Which nation or power, one might ask, will put the hand up then and take it upon itself to uphold the integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon? Who will come to play the part of the “caring mother” for the Maronites? And which Maronites? The remnants of the traditional “Maronite Political Entity” or the followers of General Aoun?
“Grand Liban” is capitulating. Its sectarian constitution has rotted away. Its political fabric has lost all solid ground to stand on. The decayed institutions that have been built on corruption and bribery have reached a head.
“Grand Liban” was a French lie, a joke that perhaps even its architect General Gouraud himself did not imagine would last a whole century.
Lebanese people of different political persuasions are all up in arms, angry and disappointed with what is left of their government and politicians. Thousands are flocking the streets demanding reform, but there is no reform to be found for an entity that is based on quick sand, built with sticks and held together by paper glue.
The physical rubbish that is littering the country and causing a major crisis is the physical manifestation of the much deeper and more sinister rubbish that underpins the very nature of the state, its sovereignty as an independent stand-alone nation, its identity and its archaic sectarian constitution.
So on one hand there is a specter of Lebanese government that is sectarian, corrupt, weak and dysfunctional, and on the other hand, there is the Lebanese Axis of Resistance (ie March the 8th Coalition) that is secular, organized, strong and capable. If anything, the Lebanese Axis of Resistance is now the rightful body that is much closer to being the effective Lebanese army than the regular Lebanese Army itself. It is not hard therefore to fathom that this alliance can, or perhaps should, one day lead the way to forge a new direction for governance as well as identity.
Once the Syrian Army enters Lebanon, this time it will not be leaving. Lebanon will not ever be able to have peace, security and to assume its true identity without being reunited with mother Syria, and a century of building scaffolds around it to give it feet to stand on has passed. No one seems to be able and willing to keep up this momentum, and all the scaffolds have all fallen to bits.
Ghassan Kadi – “Your a monument of Understanding” – “Thank you for your Apologia” – Fascinating:
“The physical rubbish that is littering the country and causing a major crisis is the physical manifestation of the much deeper and more sinister rubbish that underpins the very nature of the state, its sovereignty as an independent stand-alone nation, its identity and its archaic sectarian constitution.”
While I can see the March 8 coalition winning in the end, I doubt Lebanon will become part of Syria. It’s tough enough for Assad to hold on to what’s left of Syria, let alone add to it, plus, all the NATO-stan countries will be screaming and yelling “naked aggression” like they are being burned in hell, not to mention the customary “sanctions”, “embargo”, UNSC “resolutions”, etc etc ad nauseum.
I think you overestimate the power of NATOstan. NATON is in decline. The map of the middle east will be redrawn as a result of the wars in Iraq and Syria and the rise of Iran. Turkey itself is under threat. Another long term Syrian occupation of Lebabon, perhaps ending with Lebanon joining Syria is possible.
The rest of it is NATO passing gas. Sanctions and all the screaming and shouting are already fruitless realities. There will be no UNSC resolutions because Russia and China hold veto.
Agreed. And while Lebanon may indeed be “an entity that is based on quick sand, built with sticks and held together by paper glue”, that’s true of most countries if you look at them too closely. They tend to muddle through anyway.
In Latin America, what seems to have worked the best is, if progressive forces can get into power with reasonable short-term solidity, hold a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution and then do a referendum to adopt it. Then hold new elections under the new rules and jettison the rubbish of the old rules designed to entrench privilege, dependency and misrule. It hasn’t always worked, in Honduras they ran a coup to stop the guy who was doing it–but that’s ’cause they were scared, they knew if he managed to run that referendum it would be damned hard to stuff that genie back in the bottle.
I would like to know why Obama has really done his utmost to pass this nuclear deal with Iran ?
I read yesterday that he now has enough people on his side to win against the enemies of the Iran deal… please explain to me why Obama has done this ? Is this the ‘real Obama’ that was there during the election campaigns, finally showing his little face ?
Ann, you pose a very interesting question, made all the more so with once subtle, but now not so subtle, criticism of the al Saud monstrosity sitting over the black gold of the Arabian peninsula.
For quite some time we have had bit players, like former Sen. Graham of FL and Ron Paul, calling for release of the 28 secret pages of the 9/11 Report. The consensus is that those pages reveal deep Saudi involvement in the attacks. The calls have fallen on deaf ears to date.
I will put aside for now discussion of whether it was really Saudi Arabia that perpetrated 9/11, as to me they are either bit players or, more likely, nothing but tools and patsies for the real AZ perpetrators.
Now you have neocon polemicist Thomas Friedman write an eye opening, and shockingly so, article in the key mouthpiece of the AZ empire (NY Times) that calls out our “Our Radical Islamic BFF, Saudi Arabia.” The article challenges the patently false assertion by 200 retired US flag officers that Iran is the “number one radical Islamic group in the world”, and Friedman instead asserts that the largest source of Islamic terror is the Wahabi’s of Saudi Arabia.
Is this a shot across the bow of the Saudi’s? Is it an indication that Saudi Arabia itself will be added to the list of Middle Eastern countries to be dismembered by the AZ empire? Drawing them into the Yemen quagmire, which will be their Vietnam (US) or Afghanistan (USSR), cannot help the al Saud’s credibility in the region and among their subjects, especially the Shia, and may make them ripe for the picking.
One thinks that certain segments of the AZ empire have figured out that if Iran joins with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization/EurAsian Economic Union (SCO/EAEU) it will help solidify the “soft underbelly” of the RF in Central Asia, and therefore they are pivoting back to Iran in an attempt to keep it out of the axis of resistance to the AZ empire and permit Brzezinski’s Arc of Crisis strategy to once again be implemented in Central Asia.
Mackinder’s Heartland theory puts Iran in a key flanking point of the “Pivot Area”. If Iran joins the nascent RF/PRC coalition to help control the “Heartland,” it helps solidifies the “soft underbelly” of Russia in the Caucuses and southwest Asia that the “Oceanic” power (formerly the British Empire, now the AZ empire) always seeks to control, and if not control destabilize, ala the “Great Game.” (Rather odd to call policies that lead to war, destruction and death a “game.)
Besides sitting astride the Gulf of Hormuz, Iran in the RF/PRC coalition would permit the Heartland powers (RF/PRC coalition) to bisect the globe, leaving the Oceanic power (AZ empire) on the fringes. Further, it is clear that Iran is moving towards a more active role in destroying the Wahabi and Western jihadi proxy armies in Iraq and Syria, which, if successful, would would further extend the area of influence of the nascent RF/PRC coalition (with Iran a part of it) into oil rich Levant. An ultimate goal of the RF/PRC coalition must be to provide overland connections (rail and road) through the Levant and Middle East into Africa, further diminishing the Oceanic power’s ability to hinder Chinese trade.
The AZ empire perceives that it cannot permit Iran to solidify the southwestern flank of the Pivot Area for the nascent RF/PRC coalition, and for those reasons we may be witnessing first hand a monumental shift to draw Iran out of the SCO/EAEU coalition. Whether they will succeed in that quest remains to be seen. Presumably if they cannot draw Iran back, they will reach back in their toybox and (once again) find excuses to destroy it through another color revolution, or war.
Thanks Anon for long post..very interesting…From what I have gathered – Iran is above and beyond bribery and all else. Iran stands for Islam in a stronger way than all else…and Hezbollah has 100% trust in Iran.
Very interesting insight. Comfortable to read. The style fits me. Thank you Kadi.
Question for Ghassan Khadi: RE: The nature of the Lebanese army and the role it might play in the chaos? Why was it not used to collect the garbage which, mounting up, constituted a kind of civil emergency?
Question: Tell us about the You Stink color revolution.
Thanks very much for this excellent overview of Lebanon’s history/current political state Mr Kadi (and the Saker for providing the forum.)
I am re-posting a link on the You Stink! protests which I believe is relevant here:
From this I have a two-part question:
1. Are the individuals mentioned in the link indeed ‘agent provocateurs’ ?
2. Why now? Is it to prevent a clear, Syrian-friendly, Saudi (and by extension, US) -hostile regime-change led by the Lebanese Axis of Resistance by introducing anarchic/chaotic elements into the general political discontent?
As to “why now?” it may well just be because now was when something they could take advantage of happened. The US and, most likely, the Saudis have been out to nobble progress in Lebanon forever, but Hezbollah are tough and strong in the streets. I suspect color revolutionary groups in Lebanon don’t have the strength to mount something from a standing start that would get anywhere. Rather, they’re trying to manipulate something that started by itself from quite real grievances.
This in turn suggests care in how to approach the whole thing. Lots of people protesting are not enemies, they’re at most catspaws and to a fair extent just people whose completely justified agenda is being jumped by carpetbaggers. I’d be hesitant to say that just because there are US bastards trying to create chaos, a bunch of people sick and tired of a so-called government that can’t or won’t deliver basic sanitation shouldn’t get some action.
this article seems to be of the opinion that this garbage protest is really a garbage protest… not an orange revolution
Why now? Because destroying ALL Israel’s neighbours, and setting their populations at one another throats, is the very essence of Zionazism. It solidifies Israel’s regional dominance. It sets the scene for the eventual theft of more lebensraum to extend Eretz Yisrael, ‘From the Nile to the Euphrates’, which includes much of Lebanon. And it produces millions more ‘mitzvot’ or religiously sanctioned good deeds, as civilians are killed, in accordance with Judaic Law as outlined on numerous occasions by the fundamentalist orthodox and ultra-orthodox who dominate Israel as it heads straight to a form of clerico-fascism. I’m rather afraid that a victory for Syria and Lebanon will only provoke some insane Israeli aggression, possibly after a mad dog Republican Sabbat Goy stooge is installed in the White Outhouse.
Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors. But today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.
This is the most straightforward and intelligent review of the relevant history of the factional forces at work in Lebanon I have see. Tight, concise, good analysis. Let there be more such.
Question for Ghassan Kadi,
When I saw the [bomb] crater left by whatever killed Mr. Rafic Hariri, on 14 February, 2005, the one that ultimately resulted in the withdrawal of Syrian troops, I wondered, cui bono and who has the means to execute this successfully? What is your take on this?
Read the lates entry at voltairenet
Jeffrey D Feltman is there claimed to have organized it
The Harriri assassination was quite probably a false-flag to justify the US-controlled ‘Cedar Revolution’ forcing Syria to abandon Lebanon.
Hezbollah has furnished evidence that Harriri’s convoy was being tracked by an Israeli drone right before his murder, which was later (without evidence at all) blamed on Hezbollah: Hezbollah Leader Says Israel Plotted To Kill Lebanese Leader Hariri. Press TV actually showed the drone footage on air: Hezbollah hacked Israeli drones, proves likely Israeli involvement in Hariri’s assassination.
Question for Ghassan Khadi: If it does come to pass that the Syrian war is won, and there is a wide conference for a peace settlement and rebuilding, what do you think is the chance that Lebanon can be included in that conference? It seems like a no-brainer to me but I don’t underestimate how sick the “international community” can be. (Also, thank you for your knowledgeable perspective.)
Ghassan Kadi has assumed his rightful place as one of the foremost commentators on Middle Eastern politics. This article cements it for its grasp of history, current events and predictive capacity for the future. My question for Ghassan, or rather my request, is to ask him to elaborate on his prediction that once the Syrian Arab Army moves into Lebanon against ISIS strongholds, what political shape will Lebanon most likely assume? Will Syria simply absorb Lebanon into its current secular Constitution?
Christian Maronite Party…sounds Catholic to me. And France is also Catholic…sounds like that Mari-onite party and French Catholics – jesuits – were aligned from the beginning. And the Roman Catholic Church, has always regarded Islam as its enemy, although Islam doesn’t want trouble with Catholicism.
And as far as Israel goes…yes its the worse ever, and wealthy, but behind the creation of Israel stands the Catholic Church. It felt that it owned that part of the world, as is obvious from the Crusades. And it ‘bought’ the modern Israelis and ‘let them go’ just like now in our time the USA has bought Sunni Fundamentalism.
I, unfortunately don’t know the names of all the Saud family so am confused …
But having re-read the whole fabulous article I understand it…
And now I would like to say, where are the Phoenicians now, and what race are they, compared to the inhabitants of Lebanon today ?
What is the difference in the borders of Phoencia and Syria of yesterday (millennia) and today’s borders of Lebanon and Syria ?
But, having written this all down, I guess I’ll just be told to look at wiki.
Ok, now I’ve read the whole thing. and I can only say…that, if only peoples in Europe and the West – England and America – were as smart as the peoples of Syria and Lebanon – proved by the very fact that the strongest part of the Lebanese Army is now Hezbollah – if only the west’s peoples were as smart as the east’s peoples…then there would be no problems in the world now.
How did it happen that the west got so far ahead in the control game ?
Unless one blames it all on psychopaths.
For the first time in 30yrs I have read a believable analysis on Liban that eviscerated all foreign players. It’s heart rendering indeed hopeful.
In 1996 the Hizbollay leadership committed to preserving the nominal “Christian” leadership of the the country of Lebanon. For twenty years they have kept a minority position in government representation and leadership despite being a narrow majority of the population. They know as does the rest of Lebanon’s leadership that a Shiite majority in parliment, or a Shiite leadership of the country would only invite yet another war and attempted invasion from Israel only this would not be fought within the limitations of previous conflicts. So a non-sectarian process – even if it is ‘secular’ cannot be safely realized. The sectarian nature of Lebanon is key to its existence, and because of this the March 14 grouping will continue to have a veto in the practical affairs of the country.
***not sure if these are wonderful or not
A wonderful article in German on Iran and Lebanon:
and in French:
“question for Ghassan Kadi”
Dear Ghassan Kadi,
Thank you very much for a very informative piece and welcome.
What are your views on the current clashes? It seems it started off with individuals connected to the US/NGO/Colour revolutions and now the Free Patriotic Movement’s supporters have rallied.
Is this the axis of resistance coming into play?
Thank you very much Ghassan. This is by far the best article I have read about Lebanon. So far I have gathered bits and pieces here and there, but was unable to put everything together into a coherent story until now.
Your assessment of the outcome of the Syrian war is encouraging and confirms the information that I have gathered from other sources. Your article also provides background information useful to better understand the Russian strategy at this time and the usual knee-jerk reaction of the US.
Your article generated excellent comments from the readers, which makes the Saker blog a privileged information platform.
In ending, I agree with the comment from “Ngoyo”. He said that NATON was in decline, and the war in Iraq and Syria, as well as the rise of Iran, will redraw the map of the middle east. To this I will add that this is only a beginning. It is the map of the whole world that will be redrawn, and the US will not be happy.
A very timely report, wonderful thank you…
. . . a few more words from Lebanon’s great poet-
You have your Lebanon and its dilemma. I have my Lebanon and its beauty. Your Lebanon is an arena for men from the West and men from the East.
My Lebanon is a flock of birds fluttering in the early morning as shepherds lead their sheep into the meadow and rising in the evening as farmers return from their fields and vineyards.
You have your Lebanon and its people. I have my Lebanon and its people.
For anyone here who prefers to think that books and poems from the nineteen-twenties are outdated; the words of the worlds greatest poet’s and thinkers are immortal, and the ‘conscience of time’ will always sanction contemporaneity:
I say to you, while the conscience of time listened to me, that the songs of a maiden collecting herbs in the valleys of Lebanon will outlast all the uttering of the most exalted prattler among you. I say to you that you are achieving nothing. If you knew that you are accomplishing nothing, I would feel sorry for you, but you know it not.
Thank you for the clarification. It is very difficult to get relevant information on Syria and Lebanon here in Serbia. I hope that Syria and Lebanon will soon clean up the mess, physical as well as spiritual, that Westerners left behind.
I quote : “It is looking increasingly likely that President Assad will win the battle against the coalition that waged a war against Syria in 2011”. Is Assad actually winning the war ? I missed the info. Could someone confirm? Maybe, you Saker could ?
Nyo, Saker interviewed a Lebonese General, it was put on the blog about 2 weeks ago…check out ‘interviews’ its very positive information.
I have no questions for Mr. Kadi. He did a brilliant job giving us ‘the skinny’ on Lebanon. I look forward to reading more of his articles in the future.
Thank you Ghassan Kadi for this billiant analysis! You connected all the dots and made it understandable even for people who don’t know much about the history of Lebanon. In Syria many people often say: “Lebanon and Syria are one country”. Many famous Lebanese artists praise Syria and see it as their homeland as well. The connections between Syrian and Lebanese through family ties are close.
Of course there is one state that would be most unhappy about a greater influence of Syria in Lebanon and that is Israel.
My question for Mr Kadi: How could a future relation between Lebanon and Syria look like without excluding the anti Syrian fractions within Lebanon and without risking civil war within Lebanon?
Thank you and awaiting future interesting articles on the Middle East