arab spring, Bashar Al-Assad, Beirut, Hezbollah, Kamal Jumblatt, Lebanese Civil War, Lebanese Communist Party, Lebanese Left, lebanon, Nabih Berri, syria, Syrian Army, Syrian moukhabarat, Terrorism, YouTube, Ziad Rahbani
I am from a generation who loved Ziad Rahbani, growing up with his music, songs, shows, plays and ‘revolutionary’ appearances and quotes like most of the youth of my time.
I can nearly recite all his plays, which I think they were masterpieces and will be engraved in our cultural heritage. I can never forget Joseph Sakr’s great songs in Sahriyyeh, the revolution of Abbas and Fahed in Nazl el sourour (which suits our current mood by the way), the social struggles of both Thurayya and Zakariya in Bennesbe La Boukra Shou, the Western conspiracy and our sectarian disease in Film Ameriki Taweel, the broken Lebanese society in Shi Fashel and the stubborn Lebanese people in his last series of Bikhsous el Karameh wel Shaab el Aaneed and Lawla Fos’hat el Amal. I adore his music and songs whether were part of his plays or not. He composed the greatest music and anthems, not exhaustively, but I mention Mays el Reem, Prelude 83, Abou Ali, People’s Winds and The Revolution Anthem.
Ziad with the Syrian moukhabarat – 2013:
I can keep going on his ingenious work, but his recent political statements are supposed to be the subject of this post! Communist Ziad always made bold political statements, like defending Stalin’s legacy (not him personally), but these were understood to be based on some stupid nostalgic feelings mixed with hint of sarcasm. In separate recent TV appearances (NBN, Almayadeen and ONTV) Ziad not only discredited the Arab popular movements against their regimes, but even defended ‘the rule of the moukhabarat’ and the military promoting it to be the solution (on Almayadeen).
I rightly understand his wariness from any sectarian, Islamic or Muslim Brotherhood movement in Syria, but that is a no excuse to call for the rule of a regime that fires SCUD missiles against its people and cities. We shouldn’t in a position where we have to choose between two evils. Ziad can not do that to us. He can’t assume we have short memory and tell us now things which contradict his previous ‘revolutionary’ credentials which we loved…
Lebanese Left and Leftist Ziad against the Syrian moukhabarat – 1976:
Let’s flash back to 1976 when the Syrian Army was entering Lebanon to crack down on the PLO and Lebanese Left against their fight with Christian parties. At the time, Ziad was part of the opposition to this intervention along with other main Lebanese Left leaders whom he loved like Kamal Jumblatt, who was killed in 1977 because of his position against the Syrian army.
This is Ziad in 1976 slamming the Syrian army and its ‘resistance’ policies:
Syrian moukhabarat against Lebanese Left – 1987:
In 1987, Hezbollah was growing fast under a main cover from both Syria and Iran. It was known at the time that the Syrian army was trying to control all ‘resistances’ in Lebanon against the Israelis under the Syrian umbrella. In the case of the Left, that was in the form of Ghazi Kanaan, the head of Syrian Intelligence in Lebanon, requesting from the communist leaders Mohsen Ibrahim and George Hawi to share the details of all their operations with the Syrians.
Hawi didn’t want his party to be politically used by Syria and Iran, so he didn’t abide. The Syrian army then entered West Beirut in Feb 1987 under the alibi to stop the fighting between the two pro-Syria militias, the Druze PSP and Shiite Amal. In the following weeks from the Syrian military presence in Beirut, 18 cadres of the Leftist resistance were assassinated to ultimately put an end to any non-Hezbollah operations against Israel – which proved to work later.
Hussein Mrouweh was a main communist figure who was assassinated three months before another prominent figure; university professor Mahdi Aamel was one of the most prominent Marxist thinkers in the Arab world who got assassinated in the anti-left assassinations wave. At the time, a lot of the leaders of the Left specifically accused Hezbollah of undertaking this elimination operation. In his speech in Mahdi Aamel’s funeral, George Hawi indicated to the many targeted killings against them: “this scene is becoming repetitive, isn’t it, comrades”. The message was emphasised by Ghazi Kanaan while expressing his condolences to Hawi: “was it necessary you pay that price?”.
Anyway, this is Ziad Rahbani within 24 hours of the assassination lamenting Mahdi Aamel’s loss, hitting on the ‘allies’ and the introduction of new religious terminologies (referring to Hezbollah) to their politics
The Syrian revolution and its components might not be going according to plan, but that’s another discussion. The story of Ziad and Lebanese Left with the Syrian moukhabarat was always a love-hate relationship, mutually using each other when required. But the Left (and ultimately Lebanon) paid a much higher price.
For me, Ziad will always be a genius composer and playwright, but he needs to cut down on his political hallucinations. He might also need to be reminded with some of the above facts on how his comrades have gone, and on what a SCUD missile or a tank can do indiscriminately to densely populated areas when they got pounded on a daily basis – like now. Or indeed the amount of extremism that such injustice can generate.
Photo credit: I took the photo from El Layle Laylatak programme on LBC more than 10 years ago (sorry, forgot when precisely). When asked about his custom, Ziad said this is about the potential alliance between fascism and Islamic extremism…