Sit down with Chidiac

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”).


10 thoughts on “Sit down with Chidiac

  1. Unless something massive’s happened recently Christians in Lebanon are split right down the middle between the pro-government and opposition movements as far as I’ve read. Before Aoun joined up with Hezbollah they were about 70% behind him, then March 14th started coopting the old LF and Phalangists.

  2. Nadia,

    You are correct. I have posted on this topic before, however, the “Christians” to which Chidiac is referring to are the largely Maronite za’im parties of March 14, not the FPM of Gen. ‘Aoun. I would have done better to clarify that in the post, and since I did not, I apologize.



  3. I find it amazing that Lebanon, with its strong Diaspora contingency, is unable to shake outside forces. It goes to show you that ideological affiliation can be stronger than ethnic/racial connections; without stating Syrians and Lebs being of relatively identical genetic backgrounds. Simply put, Lebanese Shiite Muslims would rather align themselves with Syria Shiites than with fellow Lebanese Sunnis, and forget the Maronites. Obviously, this is not surprising, but it is still remains peculiar to me. What is the goal of Hezbollah, is it to annex Lebanon into Syria? Also i think it is stupid to call Syria’s control of Lebanon a form of Hegemony, unless these writers are referring to the subordination of Lebanese Christians.

    A Lebanese Muslim guy i once knew told me that Hezbollah was two blocks from his old house in Lebanon, and that everyone int he neigborhood liked them, because of the Hospitals and other resources they contributed to society as a whole. He said that Christians who played by the rules were given equal treatment, so as long as they recognized Islam as the dominate faction of Lebanon. Reminds me of how the Jews were once allowed free reign in Yemen under the same conditional premise.

    Also someone clue me in on whether or not Syria is still run by the Ba’ath party?

  4. “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)?”

    2 Nouri:

    It it funny, especially when people like Brigitte Gabriel go out of their way to proclaim the Arabized Canaanites as being invading “Arabs”, and Christian Lebs and Jews as being members of some conjured “Phoenician brotherhood”. I think their is propaganda being spewed both ways, for the very reason your and “Nadia” have already stated, because of the divide among Lebanese Christians. I’m pretty sure Bridgette once said that Maronites are really decedents from Judaism or Christian Jews (haha), and Arabs are foreign heathens that have taken over Lebanon by conquest

  5. Nouri, thanks, I’m just a stickler for these things because I so often see all Leb Christians equated with the far right. Anyways, I do appreciate the clarification!

  6. I’ve read the article and the comments and respect everyone’s opinion. However I find it necessary to, if I may, correct some facts of history. To those few Lebanese who continuously claim not to be Arabs but Phoenicians… The basic of history teaches us that the “Phoenicians are of Semitic descends from the Arabian Peninsula” (Saudi Arabia today). It’s also healthy to be reminded that at least half, and I say “at least half”, of the respectable Lebanese writers, poets, philosophers, and Arabists were/are Maronite Christians. Please make a note of this.

    As for Chidiac’s fears, indigestions and/or misconceptions of Hezbollah; I only would like to state three facts from the so many…

    Fact 1- When the South of Lebanon was freed from Israeli occupation in the year 2000; there were plenty of fears from Christians in the South of Hezbollah’s reprisal against them for having collaborated with Israel (not all of them of course). It was also one open South with no Lebanese Army or Security Forces what-so-ever to protect civilians and citizens. Not one “slap” (to translate from Arabic) took place. I know, I was there. We didn’t have to leave anywhere.

    Fact 2- The Party of God is not interested in “educating” other sects in Lebanon nor it’s interested in telling people how to live. Look at the beautiful sandy and not so sandy beaches (and probably the most beautiful of all Lebanese beaches) in the South today. You’ll find people half naked with strings showing more skin than anyone can handle. I also recall clearly seeing Chidiac and some x-Miss Lebanon in a few of them a few years back.

    Fact 3- If Hezbollah was really an Iranian and/or Syrian entity, party, body or whatever… How come Commander Ghazy Kanaan, the before last Syrian Governor of Lebanon, was forced to run away and drove his fire blazing Benz on its wheels barely escaping death? That was during a clash between some Syrian forces and Hezbollah members (all in the news and public information). At that time Hezbollah fired more than a few RPGs on his vehicle by order of Hassan Nasrallah himself when he was still responsible for the Beirut Security before becoming the Party’s Chief Commander.

    No, Chidiac’s logic, information, and manipulation of the truth don’t stick. Her background is well known and so I understand where she’s coming from. And if at least half of the Lebanese Christians and others are at peace and/or have alliances with Hezbollah, they cannot be called “un-Lebanese” and/or “non-Arabs”. All those people cannot be just wrong. The Israelis call Hezbollah the “biggest enemy that can be trusted”… Why can’t we accept it as the “Lebanese Party among others that can be lived with”.

    And for those who will keep on disputing the “weapon subject” of the Party of God, I suggest they start lobbying harder for our Lebanese National Army worldwide instead of wining. Since 1958 our dearest armed forces weren’t allowed to purchase nor modernize their materials. They have Vietnam era M16’s, WW II tanks, Cambodian era helicopters and trucks etc… Having said that, the choices of the Lebanese bureaucrats and foreign governments are simple and clear. Let the Lebanese National Army get new materials and get strong to “defend” our country with no Lebanese Resistance, or keep our Army weak with strong Lebanese Resistance.

    I leave you with this… LEBANON FOR ALL LEBANESE, ALL UNITED.

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