Saturday, February 19, 2005

Hariri: the myth and the reality: None of the laudatory and fawning coverage of Hariri in the Arabic press (and to an extent in the Western press) mentions several basic facts. One: they keep talking about his international stature, and how proud Lebanese are of that stature. Let me tell you what the ingredients of that stature were: they were five. Money, money, money, money, and money. His billions opened the doors for him, and not his wit, his brilliance, or his wisdom. The Emperor of Japan and Bush would not have received him at short notice had he been a carpenter. His billions established his friendship with Jacque Chirac too. And Chirac is notorious for his corrupt electoral campaigns, and Saddam and Saudi Arabia were big supporters of Chirac when he was rising in French politics, and he allegedly received oil money support from these corrupt regimes and their personalities. Saddam, I should remind you, was also a close personal friend of Chirac, and the "wives" got to be friends too. An aide to Chirac told me how Arab oil cash would flow freely during Chirac's campaigns, and envelopes of cash would be circulating without accounting. Those talking about Hariri's reconstruction plans miss to detail his plans, or their consequences. Hariri's policies constituted real wars against poor people in Lebanon, although he was known to distribute bottles of olive oil and some rice to poor Sunni voters during election times. Thirdly, his model for the Lebanese economy was to make Lebanon a horrific playground for rich oil princes--his friends and partners. His version of reconstruction was behind the proliferation of fancy hotels, restaurants, brothels, and casinos all over Lebanon. Hariri wanted to demolish the huts of poor people near the airport road because they may disturb the eyes of "tourists." He was the person behind the $40 billion foreign debt of Lebanon, and he never EVER complained of his subservience to Syrian intelligence apparatus in Lebanon. Of course, all this while Angry Arab strongly rejects the car bombing that mercilessly and brutally killed Hariri and other innocent Lebanese. And in fact, while I never ever agree with anything coming out of the lousy right-wing "opposition" in Lebanon, I do agree that an international investigation is warranted because the Lebanese and Syrian investigations are not credible. (I also call for international investigations of Israeli war crimes in Palestine and US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.) It is also amazing how money can make people discard their principles and their opinions. Many former Lebanese communists and Arab nationalists discarded their ideologies to be in the service of Hariri. And is it not ironic that the head of a party called "Progressive Socialist Party" was the closest ally of Hariri? But this is the Lebanese version of progressiveness and socialism. Fakery is very Lebanese.