Monday, April 2, 2007

Starting date for Orange TV?

Lebanon’s TV landscape is almost a carbon copy of its political scene. Most parties have their own station. The Lebanese Forces have LBC, Hariri owns Future TV, Manar belongs to Hezbollah, NBN is allied with Nabih Berri and New TV is closely linked to the Opposition. The only one, besides Druze leader Jumblatt, who does not have his own station is Michel Aoun. At least, not yet but rest assured, he’s busy setting up Orange TV.

Despite high expectations among his followers regarding the launch date, the station is still not in the air. According to the News Director, the launch will coincide with a symbolic date and he says that most people expect it to happen on April 26, the day of Syrian withdrawal, or May 7, the day when Aoun returned to Lebanon in 2005. But, he added that no date has been set yet.

Well, as long as the date is still not decided, perhaps the most suitable launch date would be April 13, the start of the Civil War.

Time and again, Aoun is capable of dividing Lebanon. His latest contribution to the discussion is to predict that, most likely, the presidential elections will not be held as scheduled. He might very well be right, but he went on and accused the government of stealing the last elections. Huh? Did he forget that these elections were organized and tailored by the pro Syrian factions? And that despite the tactical reshaping of the borders of the various election districts, the pro Syrian parties still managed to lose?

It’s unclear why Aoun would make this statement. After all, he considers himself a candidate for the presidency and has recently agreed to swap Lahoud for support of the UN Tribunal. But now he openly speculates of Lahoud staying longer in office. This means that Aoun himself has to wait before running for president. What candidate in his right mind would be satisfied with positioning himself in the antechamber?

Well, perhaps Aoun is thinking that his chances right now are not that great, see Michael Young’s latest article, and that he can only improve his prospects by extending the term of Lahoud. If so, it would quite a destructive strategy: Let the chaos in Lebanon increase more and more until people are so desperate that he becomes an acceptable candidate once again. If this is true, then yes, April 13 would be a fitting date, indeed.