"Jumblatt's Rapprochement"
By: General Michel Aoun

(Translated by: Elias Bejjani)
20 February 1998

Until recently, Mr. Walid Jumblatt was extremely vocal in his hostile and provocative attitude towards Lebanese Christians and their patriotic stances. He personally criticized more than once lately the Maronite Patriarch using obscenities and crude language. He also breached the code of political courtesy in his practices and transcended the acceptable boundaries of the national peace through verbal threats to resort to war whenever an opposition leader or clergyman called for withdrawal of armed Syrian occupation forces from Lebanon.

Unexpectedly, and with a magician's touch, Mr. Jumblatt's quiescent non-violent conscience awoke. He called for peaceful dialogue with his political foes, visited some old friends' offices and issued with them joint communiques appealing for harmony and reconciliation, stands that he had completely contradicted in his capacity as a minister in the Hariri occupation government and as a prominent figure in the Syrian installed regime.

For Mr. Jumblatt, contradicting stands even in the same clause of a single communique is a norm, and not a concern. What really matters for him is the rhetorical process itself, for rhetoric is the master of political and non-political stands when actual acts are kept in the dark. It is comical at times to watch such absurdities unfold, but also it is very sad for some one to reach such a mockery of himself and others.

We want to believe that Mr. Jumblatt has really and truly moved to the opposition. But the question is: can he fulfill this role through mere verbal calls and demands from the government, while in reality he is contributing practically and effectively to maintain the opposite of what he calls for?

How can we believe that Mr. Jumblatt will call for Lebanese national sovereignty when he threatens to resort to war whenever a Lebanese leader calls for the withdrawal of the Syrian occupation army from Lebanon?

If it is true that Mr. Jumblatt actually yearns for the implementation of UN Resolutions 425 and 426, how can he at the same time call for the strengthening of the "national resistance" that hinders the implementation of these resolutions?

Is Mr. Jumblatt feigning rapprochement in an attempt to polish his fading public image, or to improve his current shaky position in the Hariri government through a traditional maneuver? Or to distract the Lebanese focus from substantial socioeconomic and national issues to trivial ones? Or to create a temporary sense of public tranquility through which he will be able to control the results of the upcoming mayoral and municipal elections?

All of the above suggest that Mr. Jumblatt's initiative is void of any fruitful substance. He who is imprisoned in a cell, chained with shackles of personal interests and subservient stands, cannot call on others to join him inside, he ought to free himself and then reach out to others. For Mr. Jumblatt to join the opposition he has first to resign from the government and distance himself from the Syrian imposed puppet regime. Is Mr. Jumblatt willing to take such a courageous move? and if he does, can he hold to it?