Ahmad Assir, Sign of the Sunni Frustration!
Ibrahim al-Amine, Al-Akhbar Daily
The popularity of Sheikh Ahmad Assir did not grow to a terrifying extent among the rivals he has carefully selected. However, the man does scare the others for two reasons:
– He acts and behaves without any political or non-political restriction whatsoever. The bloody broil in Taamir, which left three dead, proves the man is very likely to opt for another similar, nay broader experience. Therefore, caution must be!
– A substantial Sunni majority, which he claims to be defending, does not reject him in a way that turns him into a stranger among his community. Just imagine how it is like when the man is welcomed by Hizbullah’s Shia and March 14 rivals!
Everyone is so busy now dealing with what politicians like to depict as “the Assir phenomenon,” thinking that the man is confined to a determined geographic spot and specific persons and that it is just a phenomenon that would fade in no time. Indeed, some institutions and sides are applying themselves to tightening security and logistic measures to prevent any explosion or exacerbation. In the meantime, political parties are venturing into scrutinizing the fruits he bore on a daily basis.
Certainly, Assir succeeded in provoking a large category of supporters of Hizbullah, Amal Movement, the Free Patriotic Movement, and March 8 camp. He even hit it big in entrenching a Shia craze against him, prompting many to refuse any discussion touching on him, and just be content with asking the state to settle on this issue. Such a demand means to coerce the man to stop what he is doing, whether by talking him into ending his mobilizations or by forcing him to do so.
Both ways, those demanding to “contain” Assir are entailing a sheer repressive measure. In fact, these are betting on the following hypothesis: when Assir stops mobilizing, his supporters will disperse and each will go home eventually.
Turning to March 14, Future Movement has sounded the alarm after the man had proven to attract many of Hariri family’s supporters to his side, not just in Sidon, but also in Beirut, the north, Bekaa, Iqlim al-Kharroub, and Arqoub. He has become what Hariri family really fears. And they have all the right! The scenes of Assir’s gatherings mirror vitality among youth, at a time when Future Movement’s celebrations have become just events attended by senior figures.
This is what pushed Hariri family to look for a solution. Nonetheless, the investment mentality taking over their minds in politics, and the state of “political teenage” they are plunging into, are pushing the family to look for gain. They do imagine that they are able to make the state and its institutions believe that they are with ousting Assir. But they halt in their own speech, lest they would lose more supporters. Hence, they think of driving Assir to “explode himself” in Hizbullah. They then get rid of him on one hand, and create a new problem between Hizbullah and the Sunnis on the other, wagering on their takeover the irate street afterwards.
And since this is a “per diem policy” that is controlling Assir’s moves and the state’s conduct, no one can expect what is next, especially that fears of a civil war and a sectarian frenzy quite similar to what is happening in Syria are growing. Still, Hizbullah, Assir, the state, and local and foreign apparatuses involved in this dossier should all take note of the following:
– Sunnis welcoming Assir and his rhetoric are rather expressing their frustration over all the leaderships that have gripped them previously, namely Hariri family.
– The Sunni street is, until now, accepting that Assir speaks in its name. But it is not accepting, at least for now, that he becomes its leader.
– The narrow political expertise of Assir himself has pushed him previously, and maybe will push him later, towards making many blood-stained mistakes. He who is enraged over something must think well of how to score the demands he deems just, without dragging himself and his fans into a suicidal act.
– Military and security institutions must realize some local facts that entail a whole different conduct; for instance, the Union Coordination Committee has given a good example on how an all-inclusive nationwide social alignment can constitute a pressure force, independently from any party or political program. Thus security and military institutions can provide a model of the authorities’ ability to curb any civil explosion, without any political decision to be espoused by an official side in the country.
– Hizbullah must openly and easily skim through the very deep reasons behind the Sunni frustration currently existing and still grows due to losses; in fact, despite what was considered success in Egypt and North Africa, the problem still is, stemming from a clear Shia supremacy, whether in terms of the state idea (Iran vs. GCC) or in terms of organized demand movements (Bahrain movement vs.
Syrian one) or even in terms of the active popular forces (Hizbullah vs. Qaeda).
There are too many matters to be discussed in that respect. As long as the wise everywhere are not ready to make serious and engaging compromises in order to reach reasonable results, tension will fill the gap before the ping of lead prevails.