At the end of the eighties, General Aoun hurriedly left the Baabda Palace, taking refuge in the French embassy, after the Syrians bombed the presidential palace with aviation, with the blessing o
f the United States. This led to the Syrian regime’s domination of Lebanon for an additional fifteen years. Two days later, President Aoun will leave Baabda Palace at the end of his eighties, slowly and surrounded by his supporters, after he signed the demarcation agreement with Israel, with American blessing as well. This agreement ensured that “Hezbollah” acquired economic influence as well as military and political influence in Lebanon, perhaps for more than fifteen years to come.
In the first case, he left defeated. In the second case, he leaves, claiming a “historic victory.” In both cases, however, he left behind a semi-occupied country in which political, economic and social crises are accumulating. In the first stage, he preferred to sign the country under Syrian hegemony, than to sign the Taif Agreement. In the second stage, he signed the demarcation agreement with Israel, bringing the country under the almost complete domination of Hezbollah and Iran.
Never in the history of Lebanon has the name of a political official been associated with the memory of two wars before Taif, and the memory of the collapse of a homeland after Taif. It was as if the desolation pursued the man and accompanies him wherever he goes and whatever he does.
When we were discussing, a group of friends, about the way “Hezbollah” sends its instructions to Aoun, I answered that the party does not need to send instructions to Aoun, as it does with the rest of its allies. Aoun is sabotaging without instructions, and this is what is most desired by Hezbollah, which has built its alternative security, political and economic authority on ruining the country on all these levels.
Never in the history of Lebanon has the name of a political official been associated with the memory of two wars before Taif and the memory of the collapse of a homeland after Taif.
In this sense, Aoun is “reluctant” by nature, opposes the implementation of Taif, and opposes the functioning of constitutional institutions through obstruction or infringement of powers. He is in a relationship of enmity with everyone, with Berri, Hariri, Mikati, Geagea, Franjieh and Jumblatt, with the sovereigns, independents and changers, and previously with the Intifada. That is, with all the main parties in the country, except for “Hezbollah”.
Hezbollah knew exactly what the man aspired to, so it presented him with the presidency and his followers positions, provided, of course, that Aoun concedes to the party about reality in its entirety. The equation of the “Mar Mikhael understanding” – and I repeat what I said above – was in a nutshell: the reality for “Hezbollah” and the sites for the “Free Patriotic Movement.”
Many sought to understand General Aoun’s behavior and motives. Some saw it as the result of a psychological disorder, on the grounds that the man was suffering from psychological problems and was undergoing treatment.
Others considered that Aoun is fully aware of what he is doing, and he seeks with all determination and planning to secure his interests and the interests of his family by deceiving his audience through a demagogic speech, in which he tells the people what this people desires to hear, stirring his resentment against this leader or that, this party or that, He accompanied his campaigns with principles and ideals that make him a valuable and watchdog over the behavior of others.
This last interpretation reinforced the attitudes and behaviors of his son-in-law, Gebran Bassil, who was headed by Aoun to the Free Patriotic Movement.
Bassil’s actions in pursuit of his interests at the expense of the public interest are so egregious that he has become the most hated figure for the Lebanese people, and this was expressed by the October 17 uprising, and what most of the Lebanese people still express regarding every statement or behavior that Basil makes.
Even many Aounists resented his actions and left the “current” or were expelled from it. But everyone kept distinguishing between Aoun and Basil, keeping Aoun away from all of Basil’s bad behavior. The response was from Aoun himself, who declared that Basil was his “disciple”.
The greatest confusion among the Aounists came as a result of the contradiction in Aoun’s attitudes and behavior. It is against feudalism and with familialism. He is with secularism and at the same time incites sectarian and sectarianism.
He is with the state and leaves the “statelet” to control the state. He is against the Syrian regime and “Hezbollah” and is allying with them within the framework of the “resistance” axis. He is against the militias’ weapons and with Hezbollah’s weapons.
It is “strong” and completely subject to the will of “Hezbollah.” He supports the independence of the judiciary and does not sign judicial formations and interferes in the affairs of the judiciary, especially in the case of the port bombing, due to the contradictory attitudes and behaviors there. This leads to the irony of wondering whether Aoun was a helper.
Where does all this contradiction come from? Those who are against Aoun agree that he is an “opportunist” and a “reformer”, who changes his positions according to circumstances and according to his interests and the interests of his brother-in-law, family and entourage. But what about the interpretation of the Aounists for these stark contradictions?
It seems to many that the Aounists do not notice the contradictions, which is why they used to say, “Do not discuss with me.” I personally experienced this mental “deficiency” of some Aounists.
One of the examples that I can give is that I once asked an apparently mentally balanced Aoun, how a current that calls for secularism in its texts could ally with a religious party like “Hezbollah”, and I thought I “condemned” him with my question.
But Al-Awni answered me quickly and with confidence: “Hezbollah is with the civil state.” It is clear that our friend did not notice the contradiction I mentioned. Is the issue merely a “mental deficiency” so generalized to the Aounists?
A young Aounist says in a video recording: “No one knows Michel Aoun, no one knows what Michel Aoun is like, no one is able, even those who believe in Michel Aoun do not know a quarter of what they need to know, Michel Aoun is much older than we know, what does he want, what?
His goal was, what does he want to achieve, Michel Aoun is a legend… We are not… No one in the field gives his opinion on him, Michel Aoun is the Bedouin of Lebanon, who did something like Michel Aoun?
When you look at this young Aounist while he is speaking, you see in his eyes sincerity, emotion, and eagerness to convince those who listen to him.
The young Aounist proceeds from a postulate that no one knows what Michel Aoun wants, what his goals are and what he wants to achieve, that is, he acknowledges that there are things that are not understood in Michel Aoun’s positions and behaviors.
But instead of trying to understand or noticing a contradiction in it, he considers that Michel Aoun is far too big for us to know. This deification of Aoun is quickly explained by the inferiority through which this young man looks at himself: “We are not… no one in the field gives his opinion of Michel Aoun.”
This young Aoun suffers from an inferiority complex that prevents him from even assuming that he has the right to express his opinion on Michel Aoun, or even believing that he can know Michel Aoun, “this legend,” he said. Without knowing, of course, that the word legend in the dictionary means: “a myth, a fabricated hadith that has no origin.”
Because what this young man said you can hear from many Aounists who made up, in a not so long period of time, the overwhelming majority of Christians, I do not think that, in order to understand the Aounist phenomenon, it is enough to say that the Aounists all suffer from an inferiority complex.
I suppose that the causes of the Aounist phenomenon go beyond what we might call psychological and mental disorders among the Aounists, to reach a societal sociological problem, from which most Christians were suffering at the end of the war and immediately after Taif, which is their loss of this war and the constitutional positions that were allocated to them before Taif, and what accompanied it. It is a constant decrease in their number.
On October 30, 2022, Michel Aoun will leave Baabda Palace. Will he leave with him what remains of “Aounism” from the minds of some Christians before the remaining Christians leave Lebanon?
This suffering, I think, led to a disturbance in the values they hold, which have not been stable, and are oscillating, rather mixing randomly, between their perceptions of yesterday’s Lebanon and Lebanon today, and their role in it.
Between Lebanon the “Maronite political,” which rules with a Western, secular cultural superiority, and through the operation of constitutional institutions, and Lebanon the “political Shiites,” which rules with military-religious supremacy with an Iranian reference, and through the disruption of constitutional institutions. Only humiliation in values and thought, and contradictions in attitudes and behaviors, can result from this, best expressed by the “Aounist Movement” when it represented the majority of Christians.
“Aounism” declined in the Christian community in the past few years, but it is still alive, despite the tragedies it caused to the Lebanese in general and to Christians in particular. On October 30, 2022, Michel Aoun leaves Baabda Palace.
Will he leave with him what remains of “Aounism” from the minds of some Christians, before the remaining Christians leave Lebanon? The question is legitimate after the demarcation of the border with Israel, which fortified the positions of Aoun and Bassil by strengthening and expanding Hezbollah’s hegemony over Lebanon.