How the Once-Great Defender of Lebanese Christians Put Them at the Mercy of Hizballah

In the early 1980s, at the height of the Lebanese civil war, Michel Aoun successfully led Lebanese forces against Syrian-backed militias, attaining a heroic reputation in the eyes of many of his compatriots. But like Philippe Pétain, France’s most admired general during World War I who would later surrender his country to the Nazis, Aoun has for over a decade served as Hizballah’s greatest Christian supporter. Alberto Miguel Fernandez writes:

Four years ago this month, Aoun was elected Lebanon’s president by the country’s parliament. . . . Feeling that he did not get his due from the anti-Syria and anti-Hizballah March 14 Alliance, the aging Aoun—still proud and ambitious—in February 2006 forged a political alliance with Hizballah that would not waver even during an astonishing series of events. This included Hizballah’s destructive 2006 war with Israel and a string of assassinations, blamed on Hizballah, of opposition figures, journalists, and military officers, many of them Christians (none of them Aounists, of course).

As recently as 2018, Aoun’s presidency, and this alliance, had not seemed to have hurt him much. The pro-Aoun coalition did quite well in parliamentary elections that year, allying with Sunni and Shiite parties in different areas of the country. An objective observer might conclude that Aoun’s four years in power have been nothing short of disastrous. . . . But as a politician he has been a resounding success, if measured in cynical terms of political survival and in aggressively climbing the ladders of power in this fragmented country.

Whether he is today only a passive symbol or still a willing collaborator in the catastrophic Lebanese status quo, Aoun, the brash champion of Lebanon’s Christian rights since 1989, has become the undertaker of the historic Christian presence in this country. He did not accomplish this on his own, of course. Lebanon’s implosion was a multi-confessional multi-party conspiracy bringing down the entire country. But since 2006, his alliance with Hizballah has given that terrorist group an extensive sectarian and political cover that it might not have had otherwise—only making a bad situation worse.

Read more at MEMRI

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Middle East Christianity


Why President Biden Needs Prime Minister Netanyahu as Much as Netanyahu Needs Biden

Sept. 28 2023

Last Wednesday, Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time since the former’s inauguration. Since then, Haim Katz, Israel’s tourism minister, became the first Israeli cabinet member to visit Saudi Arabia publicly, and Washington announced that it will include the Jewish state in its visa-waiver program. Richard Kemp, writing shortly after last week’s meeting, comments:

Finally, a full nine months into Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest government, President Joe Biden deigned to allow him into his presence. Historically, American presidents have invited newly installed Israeli prime ministers to the White House shortly after taking office. Even this meeting on Wednesday, however, was not in Washington but in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Such pointed lack of respect is not the way to treat one of America’s most valuable allies, and perhaps the staunchest of them all. It is all about petty political point-scoring and interfering in Israel’s internal democratic processes. But despite his short-sighted rebuke to the state of Israel and its prime minister, Biden actually needs at least as much from Netanyahu as Netanyahu needs from him. With the 2024 election looming, Biden is desperate for a foreign-policy success among a sea of abject failures.

In his meeting with Netanyahu, Biden no doubt played the Palestinian issue up as some kind of Saudi red line and the White House has probably been pushing [Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman] in that direction. But while the Saudis would no doubt want some kind of pro-forma undertaking by Israel for the sake of appearances, [a nuclear program and military support] are what they really want. The Saudis’ under-the-table backing for the original Abraham Accords in the face of stiff Palestinian rejection shows us where its priorities lie.

Israel remains alone in countering Iran’s nuclear threat, albeit with Saudi and other Arab countries cheering behind the scenes. This meeting won’t have changed that. We must hope, however, that Netanyahu has been able to persuade Biden of the electoral benefit to him of settling for a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia rather than holding out for the unobtainable jackpot of a two-state solution.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship