Impressions, views, and steam-blowing by a lonesome cowboy.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Clown of 2008: Surete Generale

Yeah I know, it’s a wee early in the year, but I think you’ll agree that the results are already in. It will be very tough to beat the Surete Generale (SG) and its head: General Wafik Jezzini. (Movie buffs will remember that the Lebanese outfit is named after the French "General Sir-taay” of Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau fame).

In the land of the many bombings/assassinations, all unresolved, what is the Surete Generale (loosely General Safety/Security) doing? It is raiding exclusive bar-club "Crystal" to harass the owner and hurt business by scaring and humiliating the crap out of its patrons and employees. Why you ask? Apparently cuz Daddy Wafik ’s party-son, Ali, could not get a table on one of the busiest nights of the year (Saturday Dec 29).

According to L’Orient-LeJour (Orient link good one day, Riemer Brouwer at Lebanon Update blogged it before the papers), the agents of the Surete showed up with machine guns, got everybody to kneel, verbally abused the crowd, and yelled racial epithets at the Sudanese staff, all supposedly in search of visa/work permit violations.

The SG (Surete Generale) issued a statement saying they were doing their job and that they were surprised their director Wafik/Wafic Jezzini was smeared in relation to the incident. Mazen el-Zein, co-owner of Crystal, says it all happened because they refused Ali Jezzini a table. If you are vaguely familiar with Lebanon and the concept of probability, you know that what happened was no coincidence.

Aside-One: L’Orient-LeJour posted this in its “Society” section. I guess they think this comes under "local mores" or is a high-society gossip item.

Aside-Two: In the news section, L’Orient-LeJour does report that an investigation will take place.

Aside-Three: SG director general’s name, Wafik Jezzini, never appears in the news when there are major security breaches in country. He’s never there to brief anyone, and he’s not ever called to account by anyone when MPs and Cabinet Ministers are regularly assassinated. I recall his name in the press in 2006, when he supposedly disobeyed orders from his superiors (PM Seniora and Interior Minister Fatfat), and now when his son is refused a table at some nightclub joint.

Aside-Four: Two SG officers were arrested and are under investigation, but not the top dog. We’ll see what happens. But I am guessing that either Wafik Jezzini ordered the raid and needs to go (besides the fact that there is no security in the country). Or, his son ordered the raid, and if Wafik lets his party-animal son order SG officers around he also needs to go.

Now given that Jezzini Sr. survived in his post afterdisobeying his superiors in 2006 over intelligence matters, I doubt that his head will roll on this one. Also, I am sure that Berri (Jezzini is a Berri man) would yell bloody murder and scream that his community was being singled out for God knows what.

I am however surprised this outrage made the newspapers and that someone got arrested. Keep your fingers crossed.