The last of the Christian presidents in Lebanon

The Maronite presidential seat in Lebanon was weakened tremendously with the Taif Agreement

Octavia Nasr

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The Maronite presidential seat in Lebanon was weakened tremendously and rendered almost honorary with the Taif Agreement of 1990 after many historic powers were stripped from it. It was at the time two Maronites that brought the Syrian-free Christian-controlled parts of Lebanon to its knees, ushered in a new era of Syrian domination and forced all parties into Taif to find a way to reconcile. But reconciliation came only with a serious re-writing of the constitution unfavorable to Christians.

Michel Aoun had already created a split in the army as well as government when he launched his ill-advised and ill-planned War of Liberation against the Assad regime. When he could not win this war or sustain his position, he turned half the Lebanese Army still under his control and launched his War of Elimination in an attempt to wipe out the Lebanese Forces under Samir Geagea’s Leadership.

Sizeable following

Because two men with a sizeable following each could not see eye to eye or learn how to co-exist or fight each other to a win, they simply decided along with their cheerleaders to write off the last role and the last drop of dignity Christians could have.

Michel Aoun ... launched his ill-advised and ill-planned War of Liberation against the Assad regime

Octavia Nasr

Their personal battle was the last episode in any serious role for Christians in the Lebanese Republic and its politics.

What followed was the Mother of All Disgraces for the Christian leadership and an end of its role as a power broker and equal partner in politics and all other affairs. Aoun fled to France where he escaped Syrian retaliation and lived in exile while Geagea remained and served a vengeful prison term of fifteen years.

After the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, the eruption of the Cedar Revolution, and Syria’s humiliating exit from Lebanon in 2005, a deal was brokered to release Geagea from jail and allow Aoun to return. Whoever plotted this, knew very well that these two are the all-time masters at bringing the Christians down by polarizing the masses.

It should not be a surprise that in a match Aoun-Geagea of any kind, emotions will run high, divisions will prevail and a diminished role for the Christians will ensue.

Now, after this last masquerade, the final drop of hope for any significant Christian role vanishes. They might as well forget the seat and its symbolism because the symbolism of what led to the vacuum and the terrible memories that were conjured up will not be forgotten!

This article was first published in al-Nahar on June 3, 2014.


Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.

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