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Myra Abdallah

What if Aoun was elected President?

General Michel Aoun

When Samir Geagea announced his candidacy for the presidency, he became the center of media attention. Some supported his bid; others were pleased with the opportunity to bring back the past, accusing him of all he did and did not do as a leader during the Lebanese Civil War. In contrast, the suggestion of Michel Aoun’s name as a potential candidate seems to pass unnoticed. The media appears indifferent to the fact that Aoun, like Geagea and other Lebanese “heroes,” has a war record too. In the meantime, promoters of the “Aoun for the presidency” option are neglecting his past.

 

So far, this option seems to be currently acceptable, disregarding the opinion of many Lebanese citizens who can hardly forget what Aoun “did to them,” as they claim, especially within the Maronite community, back in the civil war. Their opinion is definitely subjective, but it can’t be ignored. General Aoun was a war criminal as well, with one difference: he was in a legitimate position. The Lebanese Army uniform protected his reputation from being described as a militia person.

 

Aoun’s “running after power” attitude had always been visible through his alliances and enmities. His relation with the Syrian regime was always questionable. Indeed, he refused the propagation of the Syrian army in 1989 on the Lebanese land by the time their entrance was not regulated and did not conceive any retreat mechanism. But, for example, after his 15-year forced stay in France, Aoun returned to Lebanon, became part of the March 14 bloc, then retreated from it having established better relations with the Syrian regime, which was still powerful in Lebanon. This was made obvious with his visit to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2008, after which he assured the election of 27 MPs on his side.

 

Moreover, Aoun’s patriotic behavior has not been flawless. During the civil war, he divided Christian ranks (as opposite supporters and militants claim), announcing openly that he wanted to disarm militias and bring back the power to the state. But wasn’t his hidden plan to abolish other Christian powers that might obstruct his path to the presidency? He also never missed a chance to divide Lebanese roles and authorities, and for the same reason. For example, in 1988, he was handed the government by former president Amine Gemayel in order to elect a president. Instead, he divided the executive power into two governments, becoming head of the military government, minister of defense, and minister of information, while holding still to his military role in the army. A president was never elected. Not to mention that Aoun had an important role – or at least his name was implicated – in three out of four Lebanese presidential vacuums (after former presidents Amine Gemayel in 1988, Emile Lahoud in 2007, and Michel Sleiman in 2014).

 

During his 1991-2005 exile in France, he was accused of having met several times with representatives from the Israeli Mossad in Paris. And when allied himself with Hezbollah upon his return to Lebanon, he “forgot” that his former definition of “militia” was any armed group that holds weapons outside the control of the state, and also ignored his asserted reason behind his war against the Lebanese Forces militia. He also allied with Hezbollah, and with this alliance, he gave the Party the Christian support it needed, the carte blanche that, among other reasons, helped it arrive to where it is today with all the transgressions it is committing on the Lebanese and regional fields.

 

So, what if General Aoun became president? Is he really better than anyone else, or are the current political deals counting on the Lebanese sometimes-short-sometimes-selective memory?

 

You can follow the author on Twitter @myraabdallah

General Michel Aoun. (Image via Cedarnews.net)

"Not to mention that Aoun had an important role – or at least his name was implicated – in three out of four Lebanese presidential vacuums."

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    Myra, while I agree with you about Aoun's flip-flopping in his positions, his ultimate betrayal of his own principles, and without diminishing his responsibilities and failures, I also agree with you that he was legitimately appointed to the position of prime minister and therefore had the legal justifications for his actions back in the 1988-1990 period. Evidence? Half the country rallied around him in Baabda. Aoun, for instance, did not resort to political assassinations of his opponents. Geagea, on the other hand, by far fits the definition of a war criminal who ran a gangster (armed thieves and smugglers) private (not State) Christian (sectarian) militia, assassinated his opponents (Tony Franjieh, Dany Chamoun, to mention only the most famous ones) within his own camp, tried to supplant the state and its institutions, ran illegal smuggling operations of drugs and weapons, etc. etc. etc. And by the way Jumblatt, Gemayel, Franjieh, and others did the same exact things. They are all criminals. While Aoun is an utter failure and a traitor to his own principles and his country, he is no war criminal, and that is why no one brings up Aoun's "criminality" when he runs for the presidency. Certainly your ignorance of the historical facts and your half-baked arguments fail to make the case.

    June 3, 2014

  • pal malater

    If, God forbid, he were elected then Lebanon will be mentioned in a past tense: the Republic that was RIP.

    May 31, 2014