Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Shaykh al Aseer and the Future Movement


Shaykh Ahmad Al Aseer


The Flag of the Future Movement




The Future Movement is obsessed with the need to appear modern and secular that is nonsectarian.

They seem to operate under the logic of the Arab Sunnis being the umma and as the umma it is unseemly to speak in the name of their sect and not the larger umma. 

The late PM Rafiq Hariri was like that too.

He aspired to be a Lebanese leader and was able to be one. He was secure and comfortable in being an Arab Sunni. The Arab Sunnis are the majority of the Arabs. He did not have to explain himself to anyone.

This is deceptive logic.

Lebanon is not the Arab world. The Sunnis are not the umma in Lebanon- they are just another sect in a country of 18 sects that jealously defend their sectarian prerogatives. To paraphrase Hezbollah leader Sayed Hassan Nasrallah: This is Lebanon and its political reality (Ya ammi hayda libnan).

The Future Movement leadership refuse to think of themselves as members of a sect, a large sect, maybe the largest numerically, but still a sect- one of many in a sectarian democracy- a consociational democracy.

They believe that to be modern, or a modern Muslim or a modern Lebanese, you avoid speaking as a Muslim let alone as a Sunni Muslim God forbid. They think it is unbecoming of a modern enlightened person to speak as such.

But in Lebanon Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri, MP Michel Aoun all speak as members of their sect and leaders and defenders of their communities without fear of not appearing modern and/or enlightened.  In fact, MP Michel Aoun who spent years on a crusade for Lebanese sovereignty and Lebanese freedom now has the sole focus of the few remaining years of his life as restoring the rights of the Christians as he sees them.  He is not shy about it and does not apologize for it.

Also- Doesn’t former PM Hariri know that his being Sunni and the outpouring of Sunni Lebanese support for his family after the assassination of his father, are the main reasons he became a prime minister even though he had less than 10% of the political experience of other Sunni politicians such as current PM Naguib Mikati?

The core of the Future Movement is the Sunni Lebanese- they are the bread and butter of its political enterprise.  However, the movement, with few exceptions, shies away from speaking for their core constituency in a country built on sectarian political power sharing. 

The Future Movement attacks PM Mikati and his cabinet as a Hezbollah creation. But PM Mikati is far from being a stooge or a political tool. He has asserted his prerogatives as a prime minister, said that he would not allow anyone to take any of the constitutional powers of his sect and defended Sunni public servants from being sacked- he did that all with finesse and masterful political maneuvering. On matters important to his sect he stood firm- he funded the International Tribunal and shut down government offices in observance of the Hariri assassination. Mikati is a man who represents Lebanese Sunnis in the political system, he knows it, and he acts accordingly. The attacks of his adversaries make this crystal clear.

He was not shy about his identity and whom he represents. Some of his detractors, from his same putative political camp, the 8th of March Movement, have accused him of being more 14th of March in office than former PM Hariri himself. They knew what they meant- he knew what they meant. That he is a "bigger Sunni" than Saad Hariri himself.

Compare Mikati’s performance with the performance of the Future Movement and former PM Saad Hariri.

MP Saad Hariri refuses to speak as a Sunni Lebanese the way PM Mikati does. His sole ambition is to be the PM of "all Lebanon", whatever that means, as his father was thought to be or liked to be called- an impossibility in today’s deeply divided society. [MP Hariri has a stronger chance of being the PM of "all France" than of "all Lebanon"]This ambition partly explains his and his movement's attacks on Shaykh al Aseer Al Husseini. Al Aseer has the support of at least 70% of their core constituency- the Lebanese Sunnis. 

MP Saad Hariri speaks as a Sunni only when he is criticizing/attacking the Mufti Qabbani or Shaykh Al Aseer Al Husseini. 

Here is the reason for the Sunni community’s quest for leadership and spokesman: They don't have a Sunni leader and a Sunni spokesman. That job is vacant and many applicants are aspiring for the job. There are many names aspiring for the position- Saad Hariri is not one of them.

This reality explains the emergence and strengthening, the resonance of the message, of the Shaykh Al Aseer Movement.

 The physical absence of MP Saad Hariri is always mentioned as a factor in this reality. It's not.

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