Nytt

Libanons kristne, maronittene, har fått en ny patriark, Rai, og han har i løpet av kort tid greid å skandalisere seg selv med sine prosyriske uttalelser.

Forgjengeren, Sfeir, var en stillfaren, forsiktig mann som nøt stor respekt. Allerede i 2000 var han med å legge grunnlaget for det som skulle bli Cedar-revolusjonen i 2005, og som tvang syrerne ut av Libanon.

Libanon er under press fra opprøret og volden i Syria. 14.mars-bevegelsen representerer den demokratiske, anti-syriske retningen, mens 8. mars-bevegelsen står for Hizbollah, Syria og Iran.

Hvilken side som vinner i Syria vil ha store konsekvenser for Libanon.

De kristne er delt i to: en fløy under Michel Aoun støtter Hizbollah, og en annen under Samir Geagea er provestlig, prodemokratisk og antisyrisk.

Det spesielle med patriark Rai er at han åpent har uttalt seg kritisk om den arabiske våren. Det sjokkerte og skremte kristne som frykter politisk fallout; dvs. at deres religiøse leder kan rote dem opp i trøbbel.

Hvorfor støtte et regime som faller og bruker vold mot sitt eget folk?

Maronittene trodde at overtrampene kanskje skyldtes at Rai var ny i gamet. Men under et offisielt besøk i Paris, overgikk han de verste forutanelser og kompromitterte seg selv fullstendig i sin støtte til Syria. Sarkozy måtte korrigere ham og sette ham på plass: – Assad er ferdig, sa Sarkozy.

Etter Paris-turen får ikke møte Barack Obama når han besøker USA.

Rai kom med et sett av unnskyldninger, som er verdt å notere, for i deres vikarierende motiv går de igjen i andre debatter:

Analytically, his remarks articulated five recurring themes that can be paraphrased as follows:

Apocalypse Now Theme: The fall of the Syrian regime will be followed by a Sunni-Alawite civil war or a partition of Syria into sectarian mini-states.

Christians-are-in-Danger Theme: The Muslim Brotherhood will take over, and Christians will pay the price, as they did in Iraq.

Give-Assad-a-Chance Theme: The first two points lead to the necessary conclusion that the international community must give Assad more chances to implement the reforms he already announced. And the icing on the cake: «Assad is an open-minded person who studied in Europe, but he cannot make miracles.»

Hezbollah’s-Arms-are-Forever Theme: Hezbollah cannot be asked to disarm until the international community exerts pressure on Israel to withdraw from a parcel of Lebanese territory it still occupies (even though a border was mutually agreed to years ago) and allow Palestinians in Lebanon to return to their lands.

The-Sunni-Scare Theme: When the Sunnis come to power in Syria, they will galvanize their counterparts in Lebanon and form an alliance with them, leading to an escalation of Sunni-Shiite tension in Lebanon that could become seriously violent.

As a side note, Rai did not miss the opportunity to cast doubt, in passing, on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL, the UN-backed tribunal set up to try those behind the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri), saying that he supported it «on condition that it is not politicized».

These are not passing remarks. Nor are they just a slip of the tongue. The proof is that the Maronite Patriarch reaffirmed his positions a few days later during a trip to Baalbek, a Hezbollah stronghold, contrary to wishful expectations that he intended to clarify his remarks as a prelude to retracting them. Rai was responding to an invitation to dinner held in his honor by Hezbollah senior official Sheikh Mohammad Yazbeck. The trip to Baalbek was followed by a three-day visit to south Lebanon where Rai reiterated his positions, in a slightly attenuated form.

Sosiale medier viser at maronittene overhodet ikke har sans for patriarkens politiske holdninger, ei heller hans stil.

The most passionate reactions, however, came from the Christian public at large. Many dissenting voices could be heard, especially on the social media. The positions of the Patriarch were denounced, mostly on moral grounds. Rai, they said in substance, has become the accomplice of tyrants; he has trampled the dignity of the victims and brought shame to the population he is supposed to represent; his statements have nothing to do with Christian doctrine; they are the statements of a politician, and a bad one at that.

Lebanon: The Autumn of the Patriarch
by Kamal Yazigi
October 21, 2011 at 3:30 am