Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The General and the Military Suit! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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It seems that General Michel Aoun is still unable to take off his “military suit”. He cannot leave behind that tough military exterior, in order to speak as a civilian with calmness and tranquility.

When Aoun was the president of Lebanon, he gained the respect of many people from all sects. However his military personality has prevailed over his civil and political sides, leading him to become involved in several battles on many fronts. Emotionally provoked, he formed some incomprehensible alliances internally as well as with regional forces.

Since returning from exile, Aoun has dealt with the press and those receiving him with the same military harshness. In his most recent press conference, he replied to the questions of the press with much severity, answering questions with questions, as if talking to his adversaries. No one can accuse Aoun of corruption; on the contrary, his projects were all about reformation, anti-sectarianism, and political transparency. However, it is not enough for a public figure to be honest. He must be able to converse with others, establish relations and alliances and reduce opposition as much as possible. But General Aoun used a harsh tone when talking about Jumblatt and Al-Hariri list and even about his allies and those who form his bloc.

In a diverse country like Lebanon, candidates need to examine the viewpoints of people from across the land. It is impossible for Aoun to allow one side to determine his policies, if he has not considered the ideas of others. Even the Hariri bloc with its tremendous success needs to let the situation calm down for their opponents. Surely they should know better than to use a tone of retaliation. It is one thing to use competitive language in the lead up to an election, however in a post-election stage, there needs to be a show of unity and joined forces, so that election slogans can be executed.

General Aoun now has the opportunity to rebuild that which he was not allowed to complete; he can now mend broken bridges. But to do this, he needs to seek common ground and soften his tone with both his enemies and friends. This is not a matter for Aoun alone, but is something that all Lebanese factions lack. This is a time to move away from egotistic, party centred attitudes, and a time to move towards finding a common language that can be appreciated by all.