Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Elections in the North: I happened to be at As-Safir's office on election day during the election. Correspondents were reporting a lower than expected voter turnout. But in the last hour, the Hariri apparatus was able to bring in 20,000 more voters. That is very suspicious to me, but nobody dares to press for investigation for frauds when the Minister of Interior is a Hariri political operative. So much money was spent in the North, and most if not all Sunni clerics were put on Hariri payroll, I heard. The Mufti of Tripoli (who has a reputation of corruption that goes way back) was instrumental in using mosques for Hariri propaganda. I am told that every shoe shiner, Falafil vendor, shopkeeper, etc had a sign that said: "election office." That allowed for "legal" funding from Hariri Political Inc. We will never know the amount of money that Hariri spent in this election. But he has not been impressing people. He is way too heavy-handed and way too eager, and way too impatient. His father had much more political skills and much more subtlety . It took Sa`d Hariri only weeks to alienate so many people in Lebanon, despite the electoral victory that he gained. But don't exaggerate his political victories: many of his allies will not last as allies. Lebanese Forces deputies will not serve at his pleasure in the Lebanese parliament, and the power of money can only go this far. But most alarming in the North elections is this: Muslims voted overwhelmingly one way, and Christians voted overwhelmingly the opposite way, some 80 percent of them. This is why why Christians in Zghorta, for example, will feel that Muslims selected their candidates, just as some Christians in the South felt that Muslims selected their candidates. The trend is that the small districts will become little tiny republics with their own flags and national anthems. So this little tiny homeland may splinter into little tiny homelandettes.