Friday, May 23, 2008

The Gun of Joseph Samaha

By Bachir Habib

Picture: Al Akhbar Newspaper -

Every Lebanese and Arab citizen concerned about the events in Lebanon would know Al-Akhbar newspaper. This newspaper in a way transformed the landscape of political journalism in Lebanon. It was established according to the plan and idea of its real founder, Joseph Samaha, who died from a sudden heart attack in 2007.
Despite the image Al Akhbar tried hard to promote as a landmark in investigative journalism in Lebanon, it was considered from its first edition as speaking in the name of Hezbollah and the opposition in Lebanon (8th of March). This is actually the political side Joseph Samaha chose following the assassination of late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.
However, if Samaha’s journalistic heritage was very much respected in Lebanon and the Arab World; it is essentially because of his ability to point his gun in an unexpected direction and against the common wisdom. Repeatedly during his career, later events showed that Samaha was right in choosing his targets. It is yet to be proven that Samaha made the right choice in aligning Al Akhbar to Hezbollah’s positions two years ago and in using this new and modern journalistic platform to gloss the party’s image by promoting it as a natural successor to the leftist liberation movements of the 1960’s and 70’s.
It is unfortunately a false image and a false analogy, which while widely shared within the Arab masses, tends to forget that Hezbollah is a Shiite communitarian party (and this goes beyond only having its roots in Islamic tradition as is the case for the AKP in Turkey). Our masses forget as well about the Iranian dimension of Hezbollah, and the fact that the party of god is considered by Teheran as the only successful exportation of the principles of the Islamic Revolution.
Khaled Saghiyeh, a disciple of Samaha wrote an outstanding piece in Al Akhbar on 21/05/08. I would not have been surprised if this article was published under Joseph Samaha’s name.
Saghiyeh titled his article “Shame and Sadness”. In it he expresses his deception regarding the outcome of the Lebanese Agreement of Doha and he rightly points that the Agreement regenerates the communitarian equation on one hand and gives Lebanon on the other hand a new President, who does not have a political record and who has not yet announced any plan or vision for the country.
I may be a long way from changing my mind about Al Akhbar newspaper and its misleading political project, regardless of the very valid occasional investigative social journalism accomplished in a very professional manner. But in the case of Saghiyeh’s article, I simply felt that the writer had finally taken Samaha’s gun from its box, and let the gun guide his hand to point it in the right direction: sectarianism.
This was a successful shot, and hopefully for Al Akhbar there will be others, as we come to close the era of 8th v/s 14th of March equation. The funerals of this era took place in Qatar on the 21st of May 2008, and the condolences will follow in the Lebanese Parliament, on the 25th of May 2008, the day where our designated President will be "Elected".

Link to Khaled Saghyieh's Article:


Hassan said...

Saghieh is probably standing out among others writers in Lebanon today by continuously pointing out how ridiculous and counter-productive the choice of Suleiman is, even while those who fund Al Akhbar (Iran & its allies) support Suleiman.

The news paper also provides some of the best and most comprehensive coverage of the cause of Lebanese detained in Syrian prisons.

Arab Democracy said...

I agree with you Hassan. I was expecting a slightly more crtical coverage of Hezbollah and its role in the latest events. it is your best friends who should give you the most honest advice, and Al-Akhbar is clearly a friend of the Resistance. Instead we saw some pretty cowboyish reporting from Ghassan massoud and the likes. Cowboyish and with no substance.


Hassan said...

Yeah, there was some pretty cowboyish reporting going on. Feeble critique is coming up in the Culture page, but mostly indirectly. We'll see.

On the other hand, Ibrahim Amin's piece today is better (read: more critical) than expected from someone who is funded by Iran & co, some affiliated private business men, and supposedly Qatar.