For Walid Jumblatt, the journey from being the son of assassinated Druze Militia leader Kamal Jumblatt, to Syrian mouthpiece (and virulent anti-American hate-monger) to the de facto leader of the Cedar (or Red and White) Revolution must seem at times like a case study on schizophrenia. Consider a few choice statements from the younger Jumblatt:
"...we are all happy when an American soldier is killed."
"...the fall of one Jew, whether soldier or civilian, is a great accomplishment."
"Who invented Osama bin Laden?! The Americans, the CIA invented him so they could fight the Soviets in Afghanistan together with some of the Arab regimes. I am of the opinion that somewhere, someplace, there is an intelligence agency profiting from Al-Qa'ida and Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden is like a ghost, popping up when needed. This is my opinion.
"Even 9/11. Since there are many circumstances… Why didn't the sirens go off when the four hijacked planes took off? This happened only after an hour and a half or an hour and twenty minutes. That is peculiar. The largest country in the world, with the largest intelligence budget of $70-80 billion for various agencies, could only put out a warning after an hour and twenty minutes?! A peculiar story."
All quotes come from MEMRI.
Juxtapose the racist, paranoid sentiments from above with what he told the Washington Post's David Ignatius:
"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."
Perhaps Mr. Jumblatt has seen the seeds of democracy in Iraq and wants some home-grown Lebanese cedars for his war-battered and Syrian-oppressed country. Perhaps he is finally realizing the level of perfidy that permeates much of what passes for public discourse in the Middle East.
But I think that there is something else, a deeper knowledge that maybe for all his America- and Jew- hatred he still is not safe from the Syrian Cosa Nostra:
Jumblatt, a former minister and current member of parliament, said the Lebanese authorities had accused him and his ally, Hariri, of being "traitors and agents of Israel, America and France," paving the way for the bombing.
Okay, so we have to get over the part where he lumps America and Israel together with France but the point is well taken. Jumblatt has been quoted that he believes he is being targeted for assassination and that Rafik Hariri told him just before being blown up himself that, "I have a feeling one of us is going to be killed, either you or me." To be sure, there is nothing like having one's ally blown to bits to focus attention. Accusing an rival of colluding with a mutually hated enemy is a time honored technique for getting rid of challengers. Jumblatt was caught in this power play by the Lebanese government and his one-time Syrian allies.
Jumblatt has acted at times as one of Syria's most vocal critics but seemed to come back into the fold when the US invaded Iraq. The big break came when he opposed the extension of Pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud's term. Now that he was deemed to be less than friendly, Jumblatt believes he was fingered for assassination. The killing of Hariri confirmed his suspicions.
It would be a mistake to think that now that Jumblatt has changed his mind again that this will be the last time that he switches sides. However, with events in Lebanon happening at an increased pace, Jumblatt may have his chance to change the course of his country's future. It may be, for now at least, that he sees that future as being tied to US interests in the region.
On a personal note: I know quite a few Lebanese families both today and when I was growing up. Most are Catholic or
Coptic Maronite [Actually, Maronite is correct. I apologise for the mistake. Thanks, uh, Oh La La for pointing that out.-Ed.] Christian. Some are Muslim. And I was fortunate to mentor a Lebanese teenager when I worked as a Stockbroker. Without exception, these families and individuals spoke of Lebanon as a bastion of relative tolerance and goodwill in the midst of the turbulence that is the Middle East and longed for the country of their origin to return to its rightful place among nations.
Beirut was once "The Paris of the Middle East." It can be yet again. The time is ripe, but the way is treacherous. Let's hope that in the coming months we can chalk one more up for freedom.
"The people have been victorious but we should now form an impartial government to supervise the elections" due by the end of May, he said.
But Jumblat also called for the anti-Damascus camp to avoid "chauvinist slogans against Syria, with whom we are determined to have healthy relations."