Tuesday, June 21, 2005

George Hawi: assassinated. This morning, before leaving for the GYM, I watched live footage of the scene of Hawi's car explosion. It looked similar to the car explosion of Samir Qasir. This should put to rest the baseless rumors regarding the culprits in the case of Qasir's assassination. George Hawi was a very influential person in the history of the Lebanese civil war. He was (along with Muhsin Ibrahim) the brains behind the leftist coalition known as the Lebanese National Movement. This person joined the Lebanese Communist Party very early in his youth, and rose very quickly through the ranks. He earned the trust of the Soviet Union and promoted a very loyal Leninist-Stalinist line within the Party, and was very firm in dealing with dissent and "deviations" in the party as Leninists would call them. But I learned from reading the memoirs of Karim Muruwwah that for several months in the 1960s, the Soviet Union put him under house arrest, and accused him of..."deviation". He was one of the best polemicists in the Arab world, and was a great organizer. The growth of the Lebanese Communist Party in the 1960s and 1970s was a tribute to his skills and talents. He knew how to inspire people: those who were students and intellectuals, and those who were workers and peasants. Many of the statements of the Lebanese National Movement during the war years carry his imprint. He had a tendency to attribute local events to "an imperialist-Zionist" conspiracy" and that language made its way in Arab political rhetoric outside of Lebanon. While some people may have overused the "imperialist-Zionist" cliche for blame, that conspiracy is however real in some cases. Israel is never uninvolved in Lebanese affairs in my opinion. People forget that Israel (most likely) started the car explosions in Lebanon in the last two years--not to be confused with the numerous car bombs during the civil war at the hands of Israel and others): it was certainly Israel and its agents who killed Jihad Jibril (son of Ahmad Jibril, head of PFLP-GC) (a few miles from the site of the explosion today) more than a year ago. Yes, others could be responsible too. The place is out of control, and out of whack. I could not write yesterday: I have been very busy, but have been increasingly pessimistic about the prospects for peace and stability in Lebanon. Sectarian tensions and suspicions are at an all time high here. George Hawi, ironically, was the one who argued that subversion of Lebanon was "a political option" for outside parties in Lebanon. He may have been a victim of that "option." I never agreed with Hawi: neither when he was a Stalinist communist party, and nor when he emerged in the late 1980s as a business person who became close to Christian sectarian sectors. But he also was hoping that his step-son Rafi Madoyan could make it to the parliament from Matn. He failed in the last election. Hawi was one of the most incisive analysts of the Arab world. He was one of the people that I was planning to meet during this trip to see his take on things in Lebanon and beyond. I have to say that Hawi never wavered in his opposition to Zionism and his opposition to US roles in the region. He was one of a handful of people who started the Lebanese National Resistance Movement in the wake of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. People here are not only nervous but very confused. For how long can the right-wing opposition blame everything that goes wrong on the "remnants" of the old Syrian-Lebanese intelligence order. Not that they are necessarily innocent, but the Hariri Political Inc controls the prime ministership, the Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Justice, and many other appointments in the intelligence sector in Lebanon. Now they say that they want ALL the powers of government. That they will get, but that will not guarantee security and peace for Lebanon.