A Lebanese Journalist’s Harsh Parting Words to the Former President!

Elie Chalala
A web-based image.
Ghassan Charbel starts his article with unfulfilled wishes, with what former president Aoun should have done before his tenure ended. His tone borders on warranted sarcasm: "I know that General Aoun loves the palace. He would rather see it empty than be occupied by another, aside from his son-in-law, of course. But I wished he had said a proper farewell that respected the pain of the Lebanese and the institution of the presidency. I also assumed he would “deliver an apology” for the catastrophe brought upon Lebanon during his reign and at least for his failure to alleviate the people’s suffering.”
In an apparent reference to Aoun’s uninspired and overused reasoning for his failure to implement the changes and reforms he kept promising — "that he [Aoun] was not allowed!" — Charbel believes Aoun lived six years in the Presidential Palace as an “opposition leader disguised as president.” He also mocks Aoun's accusation at Lebanon's head of the supreme judicial council, Suheil Abooud, a judge known for his integrity, as the one who obstructed the Aoun administration's policies and the investigation of the port explosion.
Despite his reluctance to revisit the past and reopen old wounds, Charbel laments the president's attempt to wash his hands of the country's problems: “How come you didn't threaten to resign when the Central Bank governor was not tried, as he should have been? While watching from the window of your palace, you witnessed the rapid decline of a country that expected you to do the exact opposite.”
A hungry country, Lebanon has lost its youth, role, port, capital, universities, hospitals, and tourism. Victory plays a unique role in the Aounist narrative because it transforms defeats into victories. Because of this, Charbel warns Aounists not to raise victory signs amid the "rubble of a dying country.” He also cautions the reader against interpreting what he writes as figurative or metaphorical: "I say die, and I mean what I say."
He rebukes Aounists and anti-Aounists who flaunt "victory badges" in the wake of Aoun’s departure. All this through increasingly sharp-tongued language, deemed necessary by the occasion; in his own words, raising the victory sign shows "contempt for the families of those who jumped into the ‘death boats’ to flee the country's economic and social catastrophes,” forced to "search through piles of rubbish" to feed their hungry children. Those celebrating victory also show "contempt for the martyrs, the dead, and the living." Charbel reasons that one would not hold a wedding on cemetery grounds, and celebrating this as a victory is to betray those who died in the country's wars. He asks how martyrs win if their country dies.
As if wanting to clear his conscience, he acknowledges the former president was not the sole cause of the country's nakba or catastrophe. At the same time, it is misleading to absolve him of responsibility. Ultimately, the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat seems lenient in explaining why the former president has trouble shedding the partisan leader's garbs and inhabiting the role of a president. In Charbel's parting words, "Aoun passed through the palace as the leader of his supporters, not as the president of the republic."
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