Speaking of Monocle, flipping through the pages of last month’s issue (Issue 10, vol. 1, Feb. 2008 pg. 44-45) reveals an interesting window into the mind of the Lebanese almost-“martyr” May Chidiac. Chidiac was severely mutilated in a car-bombing in 2005. The LBC tele-journalist is a support of the March 14 movement that ejected Syrian forces from Lebanon during the “Cedar Revolution.”
The interview (by Carole Corm) hedges along the March 14 line asking questions like “[w]ill Lebanon ever be able to set itself free?” from Syrian intervention — to which Chidiac responds that as a small country Lebanon “can’t resist regional and international forces” but that [Western] interventionism can work to Lebanon’s favor. Her responses get even more ridiculous when she is asked about current support coming from the West; she says that the US has “changed their policy of isolating Syria and are trying to force stability on Lebanon at any cost.” If only they would! The US has not stopped supporting March 14 and has even, in an incredibly misguided effort, sent the USS Cole to the Lebanese coast to stare down Hezb Allah.
Chidiac’s comments about the French FM’s attitude are intriguing; the new French policy is more disinterested than Chirac’s was, actually recognizing that the problems facing Lebanon “can only be blamed on Lebanese” actors. Lebanon’s problems stem not from Syria or Israel or the West, though they are exasperated by them; they are the result of Lebanon’s political and sectarian system and will not go away until the system itself is overhauled. Lebanese leaders invite foreign interference in order to maintain position; the idea that any of them are fighting it is ludicrous. It is a problem in between feudalism and sectarianism.
But the most interesting part of the interview is Chidiac’s response to the question “How do you view Hezbollah’s role in Lebanese politics?”
They pretend to speak for Lebanon’s Shiites, but in fact they are crushing them. Hezbollah calls itself “the Islamic resistance in Lebanon” — they don’t consider themselves Arabs but Iranians. Hezbollah has received an estimated $20bn (€13.6bn) from Iran in the past 20 years. With that, they are buying up land and arms. No one dares oppose them. We are too afraid of a conflict between Shiites and Sunnis. The Shiites are helped by Iran; the Sunnis are helped by Saudi Arabia; and the Christians? All they get are prayers from the Vatican and that’s not enough. I don’t want my country to become an Islamic republic.
What’s so funny about that? Well, for one thing, the Christians and Sunnis (generally, though not all Christians are on board) are allied with one another. Amin Gemayel receives steady support from the Saudis and the Egyptians. The Christian March 14 factions (as well as the Druze) enjoy the patronage of most of the same sources the Sunnis do — the majority of the Arab League states and Western Europe.
Notice also that Chidiac accuses Hezb Allah of not considering itself “Arab”; this rather comically ironic (as well as entirely false). The March 14 bloc is made up of, among others, the Lebanese Forces, the Kataeb, and the NLP, to name a few. None of these Phoenicians parties are especially renowned for their commitment to Arabism. Since when is considering one’s self Arab a litmus test for legitimacy in the 10,452 km² of the Phoenicians (or should I say fiiniiqiiyun)?
At least Chidiac is honest about her biases, though (“I have always defended a free Lebanese state at the expense of objectivity”).