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الأربعاء 17 كانون ثاني 2018
مقالات سياسية تحليل سياسي نون دال 
هذا الموقع اتصل بنا كتّاب في الموقع النشرة بحث متقدم
 تاريخ في:2017-04-15الكاتب:المصدر:The Financial Times « السابق التالي »
  الملف:غياب سمير فرنجية
 Samir Franjieh, Lebanese writer and politician, 1945-2017
 A unifying force in the fragmented region of the Middle East
عدد المشاهدة: 106
by: David Gardner 
Samir Franjieh, a leftwing intellectual and political visionary who worked to restore Lebanon’s freedom and mend some of the region’s blood-spattered fences, died in Beirut on April 11. He was 71. 

He emerged from one of the country’s Maronite Christian dynasties, and was unusual in Lebanon’s parochial political arena, devoting energy to big themes and wide Arab horizons. Where bombast is often the norm, Franjieh was ironic, with a critical mind articulated through a soft, nicotine-tuned voice and ideas rippling with nuance. He showed daring in a region where assassination is often the reward of those bold enough to be inclusive. 

Son of Hamid Franjieh, a nationalist minister who helped negotiate Lebanon’s independence from France in 1943, Samir was a nephew of Suleiman Franjieh, president when Lebanon sank into its 1975-1990 civil war, and cousin to his son Suleiman, a pro-Syrian ally of Bashar al-Assad who may be a future president. 

He was acutely aware — it engulfed the divided Franjieh clan — of the intra-Maronite feuding that destroyed Christian families and split them into rival camps, placing them on both sides of the Sunni-Shia conflict now raging across the Levant. 

It was fitting that figures from Lebanon’s dizzying mosaic of Christian and Muslim sects flocked to his funeral mass, in concelebration of his life. As well as being multi-confessional, and drawing in young and old, the gathering spanned the political spectrum from left to right — with Suleiman Franjieh rubbing shoulders with Communist veterans or Sunni divines. 

Mohammed Mattar, a prominent lawyer and Shia intellectual who shared Franjieh’s soixante-huitard background, said: “Samir was a man of authority, not of power.” Franjieh had the will and the wit to build, or at least design, bridges across political and sectarian chasms. That is his legacy, fragile at this time of regional darkness. 

He believed there was a formula, tantalisingly within reach, that could reconcile broken societies. Lebanon, he thought, in light of its history of sectarian strife, as well as a state run jointly by Muslims and Christians, was uniquely placed to distil it. This was not idle theory but hard-earned perception. 

At critical moments during Lebanon’s civil war, Franjieh emerged as a bridge: mediating between Christian militias and the Palestine Liberation Organisation; or between Bashir Gemayel, the Israel-backed Maronite warlord and president-elect assassinated in 1982, and Walid Jumblatt, his cerebral Druze counterpart. 

Later, he was political adviser to Rafiq Hariri, the Sunni tycoon who rebuilt postwar Beirut, parting company when there was no parallel political reconstruction because Syria, run by the Assads, was pulling the strings. Hariri was assassinated in 2005, after Franjieh had fostered reconciliation between Christians and Druze, and then with Hariri’s Sunni bloc — taboo for Damascus divide-and-rule tactics. 

Franjieh was the hinge of the coalition that drove Syria out of Lebanon after a 29-year occupation — in the ultimately failed Cedar Revolution. He was lucky to survive the assassinations that followed by Syria, Iran and their local agents. 

When the Arab uprisings broke out in 2011 and spread to neighbouring Syria, Franjieh was reignited — by hope and fear. “For the first time there is now a real attempt to define an Islamic path to democracy and the Christians are choosing to stand with the dictators of the Arab world,” he told me. “The Muslims are speaking an ostensibly Christian language and the Christians are saying no; it’s a paradox and a very dangerous one”. He concentrated on a test he felt Lebanon had failed: “how to create a state based on citizenship and on diversity”. He worked on Lebanese solutions transferable to Syria and other countries with a mosaic of sects, such as Iraq. One idea was a bicameral system: a lower house to represent citizens and their preferences, and a senate to safeguard the rights of sects. 

When his brain tumour was first operated on in 2010, Franjieh threw himself into the study of the brain, bubbling with delight over papers arguing that it could be regenerated by curiosity and empathy — qualities he found lacking in his peers.
 Mr Jumblatt, a close friend and comrade, called him the “pillar among the pillars of the Cedar Revolution” in a tweet after his death. “I have known Samir Franjieh for the last 40 years and he never abandoned hope for change,” he told the Financial Times after his funeral. “Today we feel terribly lonely without him”. 
Franjieh is survived by his wife, Anne, and children Samer and Hala.

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