Friday, December 30, 2011

Tariq Mitri: the case of an Arab intellectual

Full disclosure: Former Lebanese Minister of Culture, Tariq Mitri, is suing me (under lousy Lebanese laws as his case would not have made it to court here in the US) in Beirut for my regular criticisms of him in Al-Akhbar.  Now the post:  just in case Mitri thinks that he is intimidating me with his suit, I should say: how much I despise this man but he is not a lone phenomenon.  He represents a trend among some Arab intellectuals who serve as tools for lousy repressive regime and oil barrels.  Mitri was barely known: he used to write on Christian Zionism and was a secular leftist in his youth.  He then became part of the entourage of one of the most corrupt and incompetent politicians in Lebanon: former Minister Elias Murr, who was installed in power by Syrian intelligence in Lebanon as a favor to his father, Michel Al-Murr, who for years rendered services to Syrian intelligence in Lebanon.  Al-Murr (junior) then begged Emile Lahhud (his father-in-law) to make him minister.  He was made minister and was a fierce defender of pro-Syrian policies of Lahhud, and of resistance to Israel.  But the Hariri family wanted to dominate the Lahhud cabinet so they went shopping to buy ministers in the cabinet, including among those who were loyal to Lahhud.  Of course, I am not in any way suggesting that Mitri was bought off, but suddenly--overnight--Mitri changed his tune and switched from Lahhud's side to his enemies' side.  Just like that.  He became a part of the entourage of Fu'ad Sanyurah (who in turn is a member of the entourage of Hariri family, which in turn is part of the entourage of House of Saud).  Mitri now flies to Saudi Arabia to "lecture" at cultural events for Saudi princes.  Such is the career of an Arab intellectual.  Mitri was so distraught over the death of Prince Sultan that he flew immediately to offer condolences to the House of Saud.