8 Jul 2011

A Premier League Guide to Lebanese Politics.

Lebanese politics can appear confusing to the outside observer. Indeed, most of the time, it appears confusing to the inside observer. However, Lebanese politics has inherent logic and rules and, once those are grasped, following it can offer hours of entertainment for the whole family. In an effort to demystify some of the conceptual and technical aspects of Lebanese politics, I offer you the Premier League Guide to Lebanese Politics. It’s a handy metaphorical guide that will help you tell the difference between a Jumblatt and an Aoun, and answer questions like why they can never be on the same side.  

But what do Lebanese politics and the English Premier League have in common, I hear you ask? Simple, it’s all about the relaxed rules about foreign ownership and player transfers. Like the Premier League, most parties in Lebanon are financed by foreign owners who are mostly connoisseurs that invest heavily in their hobby. Lebanese politicians are very pragmatic about their affiliations, and can often be convinced to switch sides. Lebanese politics is also divided into competition seasons and periods of rest during players assess their performance and the tourists are allowed to come for the summer.

So let’s find who’s who in Lebanese politics:

Hezbollah: Hezbollah are the Manchester United of Lebanese politics. They were around for a while, but didn’t become really successful until they found the right manager, their own Alex Ferguson. Under his leadership, they acquired a winning touch and they’ve done very well since he took the helm. Many others are jealous of their successes and want to end their dominance. Like Man U, their fans don’t like Americans.

The Future Movement: Future are the ‘blues’ of Lebanese politics. They also are bankrolled by a tycoon and have had some success in recent years, but not enough to meet their expectations. They’ve managed to lure players from other teams often, but they haven’t all been good signings. They also experimented with young and inexperienced managers.

The Lebanese Forces: The Lebanese Forces are the Liverpool of Lebanese politics. They were successful in the 80s, but then they spent years in the shadows. Like Liverpool, they brought back their manager from the 80s in hope of finding the winning formula. He spent years away from the game for personal reasons.

The Free Patriotic Movement: Had Blackpool not been relegated, it would have been the perfect equivalent of the FPM. Both like the colour orange and both are led by loud-mouthed, hot-headed individuals who seem to speak their own language. Both Blackpool and the FPM have bigger ambitions than their resources and skills merit. However, since Blackpool were relegated last season, this analogy doesn’t actually work.

Walid Jumblatt: Walid Jumblatt  is the ‘libero’ of Lebanese politics. He has a classic sweeper’s ability to ‘read the game’ and anticipate the opponent’s movements. His own movements are impossible to predict. Like Ashly Cole, he has switched sides between red and blue teams, but he doesn’t have Cole’s commitment and sense of loyalty.

The National Bloc: Arsenal. Both are led by men who are more comfortable when speaking French and nobody takes either seriously.

A Second part will follow soon. Help complete the guide and send your own suggestions. 

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  1. Walid Jumblatt is more of a Jose Mourinho. Extremely cocky, utterly immoral, completely unprincipled, and always finds his way to the winning team just when it's about to win.

  2. FPM are more like Newcastle under Freddy Shepherd. A complete farce in everything. An incredibly inflated sense of self-importance. Insane expectations of success ('win the premier league'; 'break the head of Asad'), and a megalomaniac in charge who's used his position to enrich himself while somehow fooling his supporters into thinking he's working for them.

  3. Mikati is like Tottenham. Plays well on the regional/international level (think Champions League), but holds no real punching weight on the local level.

  4. Actually, I had the SSNP as being Spurs. Always dreaming of being something bigger than they actually are.

  5. Great post. Though I wished Karl compared Lebanese politics with the French League. Good skilled player with pathetic national team.

  6. One small extra thing about Mourinho/Jumblatt: His last move doesn't seem to have worked out well at all.


Karl reMarks is a blog about Middle East politics and culture with a healthy dose of satire.

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