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When the Lebanese Dared to Dream!

When the Lebanese Dared to Dream!

Thursday, 13 February, 2020 - 14:00

February 11 is a special day. On that day in 1990, Mandela was released from prison to become the President of South Africa four years later. On that day in 2011, the January Revolution overthrew Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. On that day in 2020, the hidden in Lebanon was revealed and the struggle and national division were deepened, on the one hand between the majority of the population which united nationally across regions and sects, and on the other hand, the hidden was revealed and those in power protecting corruption and the corrupt revealed that they were also united across sects.

All of the differences between the main political parties that have controlled Lebanon for 30 years were nullified. That includes both those who formed the government of masks, i.e. Hezbollah, Aounists, and Amal Movement on the one hand, and those who had raised the slogan of opposition from within the institutions, i.e. the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), the Lebanese Forces (LF) and the Future Movement (FM). The latest evidence of this was the moment the Speaker of the House of Representatives commenced the parliamentary session meant to give the government confidence, one of the most important parliamentary sessions. It started without the legally required quorum and nobody objected to the session going forward despite that. Later, these groups provided the possibility for smuggling this fragile confidence through an illegitimate and bankrupt parliament on the corpse of the constitution! This provided this government, a mere front for real decision-making, the confidence of 49 % of members of parliament who in turn had only received 24 % of the votes in the elections. 

For parliament to convene without quorum has set a precedent, and the truth is that its implications have become immediately apparent, as some have smuggled this confidence plan while others revealed their deception of their voters, letting down their supporters, and challenging the popular will represented by the legitimacy of the October 17 Revolution. The scenario for securing unconstitutional confidence required that the Higher Defense Council convene. They decided to block the capital’s roads with cement blocks and barbed wires, close down the 11 entrances to parliament after turning Downtown Beirut into a military barracks with lines of soldiers assembled across, and violently oppressed the peaceful protesters to secure the passage of members of parliament. 60 people were injured and transferred to hospitals whereas 350 were treated on the ground.

The quorum was not secured and this was a violation of the constitution. The commencement of the session was delayed by 40 minutes and the attendance remained at 58 MPs, the majority of which had smuggled in overnight, while the quorum required 65 MPs. The session commenced before 4 MPs from the Shiite Duo arrived from the airport, and Speaker Berri announced that “President Hariri communicated with me and confirmed that the FM’s MPs and the LF’s MPs were going to attend”.  Whereas in reality, 5 MPs from the PSP secured the quorum, with its leader, former MP Walid Jumblatt justified that by saying that “We respect the constitution and perhaps our attendance secured the quorum”. This led to confusion where each side, the PSP, FM, and LF accused each other of securing the quorum. The PSP MP Wael Abu Faour said, “It is not our responsibility to count MPs” while Jumblatt went a long way revealing the implications saying that some “have settled their score with us so that they remain innocent from the blood of Siddiq,” adding that parties that “claim being an opposition to this government left the PSP alone to be accused of securing the quorum”.

Yes, securing quorum is an accusation, and the truth is that these supposedly “sovereign” groups wasted every chance they had to reconcile with their voters because their priority is to participate in power-sharing and corruption. This talk of opposition from within the institutions has become ridiculous. It reveals that abstaining from the confidence vote is a deceptive act with an agenda and stakes. Whoever provided the quorum is the father of this confidence, and is a participant in the humiliation of all Lebanese, particularly those who voted. It is impossible for them to be redeemed of what they have done, and they have revealed the sterility of their opposition to the country becoming isolated, the priority of this mutilated offspring of this political class born out of no confidence by the people. Ultimately, these parties have revealed the depth of their hostility towards building a just and transparent Lebanon with an inclusive constitution on the ashes of a looting farm that they had split among themselves. This power-sharing has become clear, sharing with the most authoritarian parties proud about their intentions to repress the revolution, and the bet that these parties led by Hezbollah will provide these parties accused of this crime some positions and shares in the deals.

On 17 October, when the Lebanese dared to take to the streets as one force led by the youth, they declared that they will not leave before this method of violating peoples’ dignities is done away with, the method shared by those in power and the bankers' cartel that has humiliated the Lebanese. They said they will not leave before the republic and its values, the constitution, and justice are restored by putting an end to the discretionary implementation of laws and eliminating every part of this confessional system that has taken the place of the constitution and law. They said yes we can achieve the dream of ending this chaos and ending the regime of lords of sects, money, and contractors, and establish a nation with the clean air that the revolution brought, this air that will hold those in power accountable with justifiable accusations: impoverishing the country and looting it, starving its people and undermining its sovereignty! Over 120 days, they proved that they have the will, determination, and hope, and the sectarian parties will not do away with their determination to make a change.

What happened on 11 February is a bright stop in the course of the revolution. It can be built on because it proved that the Lebanon of the people is home to brave people who dared to fight for it and to defend its interests and the rights of its people. These crowds that covered Downtown Beirut and confronted the regime’s repression with their bare hands, sent a decisive message that the October Revolution will represent the vast majority of the Lebanese against the confessional system and that the beginning will be to impose a transition phase led by an independent and trustworthy government that will pave the way for an early election that will provide the chance to change the regime.

With the real aspect of rescue becoming clear, the struggle has entered a new stage, because, with this murky government in denial of total collapse, there is a need to blow the sirens of danger once again. They will exploit the severity of the division to carry out all of the policies and violations deluded that they are capable of crossing bridges against those who dare to say that the shortest road to restoring dignities and rights is to entirely get rid of the confessional system.

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