To those unwilling or unable to follow news in Arabic, the Lebanese daily, al-Akhbar, dropped a journalistic bombshell Thursday. Three journalists from the newspaper had an off the record chat with Walid Junblat. Only al-Akhbar published what Junblat said (the LA Times picked up on this).
Off the record, Junblat said many things. He said he realized what it meant when Rice said that it is the Syrian regime’s behavior they want to change, not the regime itself. But that nevertheless he kept up the provocation because “politics demands it.”
He also said that they have to live with Hizballah’s weapons until regional or international changes allow for Hizballah’s gradual integration into the state and that Ahmadinajad will not give up those weapons until Iran feels secure in its position.
al-Mustaqbal party received the brunt of Junblat’s criticism. He said Hariri Jr. has evolved over the past three years, but those around him have not. He also criticized Hariri Jr. for playing a dangerous game with the Salafis saying it was well that he ended it in good time. Of al-Mustaqbal parliamentarians, he said they are Sunni fanatics even when there are no elections, especially Fatfat and his likes. He also criticized Hariri’s advisors, especially Maher Hammoud and `Uqab Saqr (the latter also behind savior of the Shia, emancipator of the muhajjabat: Meouw Lebanon).
Of the Christian allies, he said they have become a burden. He spoke about the conflicts between the March 14 Christians and the narrow party fanaticism that prevented Nayla Mouawwad and Butrus Harb from becoming ministers, knowing that they would have improved election results. Today, on the record, he jumped ahead of the criticism in what sounds like a prelude to electoral alliances with March 8 in Ba`abda.
And much, much more. al-Akhbar have broken professional protocol and they know it. They said enough to elicit a swift reaction from Junblat and an affirmation of the “deep and historical ties” that bind him with al-Mustaqbal, saying that al-Akhbar has taken things out of context and distorted meanings. al-Akhbar yesterday clarified that it had printed exactly what Junblat said, explaining:
al-Akhbar has enough literary courage to apologize to its readers for being quick in affording them a view into the backstage of political life, even if it came at the expense of professional protocol.
Sensationalist? Maybe. Unprofessional? With sleazy, conniving, narrow-minded, blood-sucking, self-centered, short-sighted, back-stabbing, royalty-on-a-garbage-dump politicians like these, you cannot go wrong. There are many things al-Akhbar can be criticized for – among them their thin criticism of Hizballah and a lack of sharp political analysis, the likes of which Joseph Samahah was able to produce. But with its blend of excellent reporting and unconventional ethics, it is breaking new ground in the pitiful, stale journalistic life of Lebanon. One can only hope that, as election time miracles keep multiplying, there will be more such unethical revelations about the petty considerations that drive Lebanese politics.