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Ziad Majed

Lebanon’s foreign minister has no monopoly on shallowness

A political elite that is essentially made up of incompetent familial, financial and sectarian opportunists can only be expected to fill its active hours with gossip, vulgarity, and stupid grins

Gebran Bassil making people uncomfortable at the UNGA (video still via YouTube)

Lebanon’s foreign minister, Gebran Bassil, does not have a monopoly on shallowness. He was preceded by foreign ministers with the same disposition and there are officials around him in more than one state institution who are no better.

 

However, this particular minister’s ability to amplify and highlight his flaws exceeds that of his predecessors and colleagues. In addition to the political and intellectual hollowness and the linguistic poverty that always mar his discourse, Bassil uses vulgar, populist expressions to refer to public matters, and when talking about Syrians and Palestinians the amount of racist expressions he uses is often worthy of legal action.

 

One need only watch the latest video showing part of his meeting in New York with the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to see how low he has sunk. The man, while introducing his counterpart to the Lebanese team, asks one of the people present about “Caroline” – the other official in the Lebanese mission to the United Nations, Ms Caroline Ziadeh. He asks that she be called because, according to the sign he makes with his hand and the accompanying burst of idiotic laughter, she is a lady with a beautiful body.

 

In doing so, the minister expresses his view of women, referring to a qualified diplomat representing Lebanon, and speaking to the “Khalijite” listening to him. All this in a clear demonstration of coarse “street” masculinity – the kind that transforms, during meetings and conferences, into a “self-marketing” operation by parading a female colleague’s attractiveness and suggesting that her being invited to a UN assembly should be seen as “adding a certain pleasure and arousal.” What if, in addition to this, the Assembly’s guest is a minister from the Gulf, and the reason some of his countrymen travel to Lebanon is often talked about in Beirut?

 

Of course, the Lebanese minister would not have behaved the way he did or made a hand movement indicating Ms. Ziadeh’s physique if he had been in the presence of Norway’s (male) ambassador, or Australia’s (female) ambassador. Neither would he have dared commit the act at all if Ms. Ziadeh had been present (except perhaps by glancing, making a gesture and smiling stupidly behind her back.)

 

In any case, beyond the implications of this occurrence in New York, it is no longer strange, with the prevalence of political recession and institutional failure in Lebanon, for us to see the likes of the foreign minister dominating TV screens. It has become normal for us to hear of practices that disrespect the laws, conventions and the most basic formalities usually observed by people who concern themselves with public affairs.

 

The Lebanese political elite, which has not been able to elect a president or adopt an electoral system for holding parliamentary elections, was unable before and during these crises to come up with any options for foreign policy or search for even a minimal amount of national consensus. A political elite that is essentially made up of incompetent familial, financial and sectarian opportunists can only be expected to fill its active hours with gossip, vulgarity, pulling absurd smiles and making even more absurd statements.

 

This article has been translated from the original Arabic.

 

Gebran Bassil making people uncomfortable at the UNGA. (video still via YouTube)

The Lebanese minister would not have behaved the way he did or made a hand movement indicating Ms. Ziadeh’s physique if he had been in the presence of Norway’s (male) ambassador, or Australia’s (female) ambassador."

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    Bassil is vulgar, streety, and pedestrian. A Foreign Minister who displays such abysmal common sense and derogatory conduct towards his own female staff before foreign diplomats and dignitaries should resign. But contrary to the "change and reform" he claims to represent, Bassil is just another criminal politician from the family elites who rule this country. Long before he was made foreign minister by his father-in-law, the latter promised political office to those around him only if they proved themselves in elections. Bassil's repeated failure at getting elected in Batroun makes Aoun's promise a lie. On the other hand, Lebanon's Caroline Ziadeh at the UN is no angel - she has long been a spokeswoman and an apologist for Hezbollah and Syria and their torment of Lebanon. But she is a diplomat, and Bassil's thuggish (ازعر) conduct towards her should be a reminder to the Lebanese people that they allow such Mafia lowlifes to rule and represent them.

    October 3, 2014

  • Patriot60

    well said.

    October 4, 2014

  • muhami

    He is a very sexually frustrated man, like a lot of "men" in the area. what a shame that we have a jerk representing us on the world's stage. TFEH

    October 11, 2014