Walid Jumblatt

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Being quick to grasp the subtle implications of events, he makes hasty reactions in dealing with them. Thus both cronies and foes alike get puzzled as to whether to forgive his rash manners and let bygones be bygones or to dig their heels in and pay back with interest! He is the sort of trouble-maker who suffers for troubles of his own making, thus raising problems for both his temporary friends and temporary enemies. He turns his trouble-making habit into a source of vitality for all. At any rate he reminds you of Kamal Jumblatt with whose absence, so the word ran after his assassination, the taste for loyalism was lost and so was the pleasure of opposition.

Among those close to Jumblatt, he is well-known for his swift transition into unabashed frankness, which is a source of continual embarrassment. He still doesn't mind taking a hindsight at a past action or statement, which some see as flagrant self-contradiction, yet others may consider perfectly consistent with his career as a politician. This is particularly true of his dangerous position as a Druze leader who has to be always on the move, both geographically and politically.  He seeks to turn the Druze minority into a controversy-mongering entity which the majority has at times to tease and at times to appease.

Jumblatt is perfectly aware that the Mountain is the heart and soul of Lebanon, as a homeland and a state.  Whether to share the Mountain with Marons or fight them over its possession is the determinant of the Mountain's formidability.  Partnership with Marons is not free of risk, and it was a source of struggle on many fronts.  He knows for sure that Marons are essential to the Mountain, yet for their existence to turn into full partnership is detrimental to the Druze interests and to the role of Jumblatt.  Thus his discourse towards the Marons has always ranged between courtship and intimidation, which was often accompanied with blood feuds throughout the Lebanese wars.

Worrying for the Druze while intimidating the Marons makes him sound like a syncopated beat playing to a Druze rhythm.  Whenever he feels powerful, he is a staunch partisan Druze.  When he feels swept off his feet, however, he takes recourse to his Arabism, jumps on the Palestinian bandwagon or comes closer to Muslim ranks, whether in the Shiite camp or the Sunni one.

His father's assassination in 1977 during the third year of the civil war marked a transition in the life of Waleed Bey, the spoilt AUBean, taking him to the intricacies of internal Lebanese conflicts and dragging him into the vortex of the civil war.  All of a sudden, he found himself in a position to deal with an Israeli incursion and occupation.  That was followed by a stage of Arab protectionism which Walid Jumblatt was at a loss whether to accept or reject.

Being an AUBean with a native command of French, he distanced himself from politics until his father absented from the political scene, to find himself all of a sudden in a position far beyond his abilities.  However, there was something in his mental make-up which qualified him for that position.  Convinced that he was now much needed, he took dad's helm at the leadership of the national movement.

Jumblatt followed in his father's footsteps between sponsorship of the national movement and permanent struggle with it.  He wanted an advisory non-Druze group to help him ease the historical pressure exercised by many leaders of the national and Palestinian movement on his father. He dealt with the Palestinian reality by reconciling the interest in Palestinian cause with the Palestinian role, which overlapped the Lebanese issue in a complex and intriguing way. He also dealt with the Arab situation that witnessed fierce divisions and disagreements arising from Camp-David Accords. He was obliged to temporarily overlook his father's assassination to make sure that the "emotional" response would not put an end to the Druze community in Lebanon.

Regardless of the circumstances of assassination, Jumblatt succeeded in proving that Pragmatism is an equivalent to practical politics. If it weren't for this fact, Jumblatt would not have been able to succeed in Lebanese politics.  This was demonstrated during the Civil War.

Walid, like Kamal Jumblatt, realized that the Palestinian issue played an essential role in politics, unity and struggle.  However, he did not allow himself to be overwhelmed by it.  He considered the Palestinian cause as his Arab concern but Lebanon, his homeland, was his main concern.  Therefore, he thought that the Palestinian cause was a concern not a national project.  When you read what has been written by Kamal Jumblatt, you will find a kind of thought that is mainly peace-oriented.

However, the first Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1978 bore witness to the validity of Walid Jumblatt's choices in the face of his rivals and the opponents of the National Movement. In this way, his Arab stance was reinforced. In 1982, the Israeli troops reached Beirut passing by the Mountain.  They had a plan to dominate Lebanon in general and the Mountain in particular.  To carry out their plan, they stayed in the Mountain.

As usual, Walid Jumblatt understood the plot and realized its danger.  He disappointed the invaders who broke into his house in 1982. He went to Damascus in a moment of general defeatism, especially on the Syrian-Palestinian track. Jumblatt wanted to strengthen Damascus and be strengthened by it.  He took his decision of maintaining Lebanon as an Arab country, and was ready to face all consequences.  He was convinced that the Israeli danger came at the heart of the Lebanese daily political process.  He thought that flexibility was no longer suitable for dealing with Israel's friendly countries.  He took into account the fact that the Mountain war involved the mountain in the first place. He feared that this approach would put an end to the Druze partnership in favour of a Maronite predominance which would make the mountain a means of depriving Lebanon of its Arabism.

It appeared that Jumblatt realized the evil intentions behind murdering Basheer Al-Jameel in a fit of nationalism. Jumblatt and his allies became more worried because of Samir Ja'Ja and Elie Habiqa's acts in East Sidon, Sabra and Shatila, especially at the time of the withdrawal of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the shaky position of the Palestinian cause in the Lebanese equation.  This made Jumblatt stick with Damascus which stuck with him, following Taef.

Jumblatt adhered to non-ideological socialism.  He seemed as if he was unsatisfied with the project of Al-Hariri's leadership and the role played by Saudi Arabia to activate the Project of Rafiq Al-Hariri the Late Prime Minister of Lebanon. He immediately found out that Al-Hariri's project was an all-inclusive national project in a united country with a real Arab identity and an international depth.  He adopted it and thus became more open-minded, liberating himself from the memories of conflict which prevailed in the Mountain and Lebanon.  He became reconciled with the Maronites, leaving behind all bitter experiences.  He also liberated himself from the effects of isolationism since he realized that it was neither Kamal Jumblatt's decision nor Yasser Arafat's.  It was against their will.

In the 1990s, during the moments of his race towards resistance, Jumblatt discovered that Arabism might fall short of Lebanon or even leave it behind and, consequently, Lebanon would become a temporary entity which only existed to serve another well-established entity in the equation of what is pan-Arab and what is national.  This might make the relationship one of dependency and exclusion by a patronizing other. As a result, Jumblatt was exasperated.  His discourse and conduct tasted of a sense of Druze and Lebanese state of anarchy with mixed feelings of humiliation.  The date of re-electing Emil Lahoud as President of Lebanon in 2007 was the dividing line for Jumblatt, who had by now matured from merely weathering the storms to braving them. He therefore decided to resist.

Martyrdom of President Rafiq Al-Hariri helped Jumblatt to rid himself of all hesitation.  He freed himself from all the pressures of his well-established convictions regarding Arab nationalism and Palestine without any feelings of embarrassment.  He became strongly convinced that what he gained from his previous conduct would not be worth the expected losses he would incur if he carried on along the same course.

In the Cedar Revolution, Walid Jumblatt, violated most taboos and crossed all the red lines.  He became the leader of a political trend which is characterized by a fanatical nature.  In doing so, he exceeded all the results which he gained from all his old alliances.  This happened at the moment when he gave priority to the difficult questions concerning Lebanon as a State and as an entity.

His mutiny has exposed him to a strong state of hostility.  Such hostility was used by some opponents as a means to try to eliminate Walid Jumblatt permanently, or at least weaken his role in the new Lebanese equation.  This made him turn to his Druze frontline, in order to protect the Druze people and the heritage of the Jumblatts.  But, to achieve this, he had to show some flexibility in dealing with his country and Mountain fellows and offer big concessions to past enemies and today's allies.
However, the events that occurred on the 14 of March and the Christian division had made him believe that the old Maronite project was being revived once again, in a way that provoked him. It made him take refuge in his Arab and Palestinian beliefs and run for the elections with an apprehensive mind, fearing that the Maronite influence might spread in the Mountain, but this time in an insidious way. He started turning the matter into a state of conflict, as a means of taking precaution against both his assumed allies and friends at the same time, especially the Americans.

Walid Jumblatt became aware of the general mistake of assuming that Washington has a more sophisticated project for Lebanon than the other projects concerning Lebanon. He realized that political realism has not succeeded in changing the American mind, which has accustomed US friends to being placed in embarrassing situations.  Walid Jumblatt knows perfectly well that the United States of America is an empire, and that its friends, no matter who they were or what political weight they might have, are no more than tools to achieve its global project, and that it could abandon them at any time.
In any case, the opponents and friends of Walid Jumblatt know very well how to lure him to their nets.  But, he also knows very well how to escape their traps or how to tear them apart if he wants to.

Walid Jumblatt does not hesitate to go public with his problems.  He is not ashamed of going back on something he said and returning to something he had renounced before.  Some see this as outright self-contradiction, while others see it as being in strong harmony with his political position.  Meaning, in other words, opposing without being disloyal and being loyal without being non-opposing.


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