Posted by adiamondinsunlight on September 14, 2008
We were both shocked by the car bombing in Lebanon this past week. Neither of us had heard of Saleh Aridi before his assassination, and I worry that targeting a “senior aide”, rather than marquee-name politicians themselves, may indicate a new trend.
Declaring Aridi’s assassination a “message” gave all the usual pundits the chance to air their views as to what that message was. Car bombings do send strong messages, but their details are rather vague – giving those members of the fourth estate with particularly fanciful imaginations free range to discern increasingly convoluted messages.
Not that the politicians were innocent, either. Talal Arslan, Aridi’s boss and the current Minister of Youth and Sports, yelled “message received” in the press conference he gave after Aridi’s murder. And while Arslan did not directly accuse the Israeli government of assassinating Aridi, Wiam Wahhab certainly did.
Given the historically cozy relationship that the Israeli government has enjoyed with its Druze population, I can’t imagine that it would order the assassination of a relatively minor Druze political figure – the costs seem to far outweigh the rewards. But then again, no media outlet has been asking me for my opinion, so what do I know :)?
In any case, I enjoyed the chance to see Arslan in his usual fine press conference form. And I especially enjoyed the chance to see the collection of bodyguards and “look Mama, I’m on television!” fame-seekers who crowd around him when he (or any politician) speaks.
This photo is from the press conference he gave after Aridi’s funeral on Friday. Notice the bodyguard on his right, who is not only way too cool to remove his sunglasses but is also so utterly professional that rather than pay the slightest attention to Arslan’s speech, he is focusing only on whatever danger might come from that one fixed point in the distance.
And notice the man on Arslan’s left, who is reading the text of the speech that Arslan is giving – ready, perhaps, to jump in and take over if needed:
And lest you think that the photo above captured a fluke moment, here is another one, taken a minute or so later. Neither the bodyguard nor the speech-reader have moved an inch. In fact, almost none of the men standing behind Arslan have moved. After all why jeopardize even an instant of those fifteen minutes of Lebanese television fame?