A Mine in the Lebanese National Project
A Mine in the Lebanese National Project
For three weeks and counting, Lebanon has been rocked with a historic event: Vast segments of the population, especially the youth and women, have been marching forward towards building the new foundations of the nation. This project is veering away from sectarianism and sects and focusing on more important issues.
First: They are looking at the economy and ways to distribute the wealth in a way that boosts production and productive sectors and combats waste, looting and corruption. They are seeking to break the banks’ grip on the economy and create job opportunities and stem the immigration of the youth.
Second: They are seeking to modernize the political system and democratize it in order to open the door wide for more people to benefit from the democratic process. This must inevitably take place through an electoral law that steers clear from sectarian representation. The most important factor at this point must be the independence of the judiciary, which should achieve justice away from violent reprisals and political interests.
The judiciary has never been such the focus of attention in Lebanon as it is today.
Third: Introducing major changes that recognize the aspirations of the youth, most notably in regards to gender and generational equality. They are also seeking to raise awareness about refugees and foreign workers, away from discrimination.
The youth have a major role to play because they have never experienced war, but instead inherited its repercussions. Their worldliness beyond their country’s borders has developed in them a strong contempt for sectarianism and clientelism that is rampant in Lebanon. In contrast, banal political leaders have worked on deepening difference between those who cause disasters and those who promise to resolve them. This all came to head when the youth realized that nothing lies ahead for them in Lebanon except despair.
The protesters have been peaceful because they are less ideologized than their defeated predecessor generations. They have steered clear of garbled and vague language and gone straight to the point in voicing their demands and airing their complaints. With these traits, the youths laid bare the political system, revised all of its aspects and placed the traditional politicians in the accused dock.
The revolution has overcome many obstacles. The greatest however, still lies ahead. It is like a mine planted by the sectarian forces. This great project cannot succeed, let alone grow, without those who have abandoned their sectarianism turning to other sects. The departure, whether voluntary or forced, is a major mine because it can stand as a hurdle towards progressing to new issues.
In other words, a return to the March 8 and 14 camps or any other vertical divide between sects or sectarian alliances will spell the end of this great project. The revolution has so far succeeded in avoiding this trap because it has set socio-economic concerns as a priority and because the leaders of the March 8 and 14 camps have been the targets of their anger. This success has been also possible because protesters from all sects and regions have joined the demonstrations.
Hezbollah was the party that planted this mine in the national project on behalf of all other sectarian forces. It has prevented a major sect from joining through ideological influence and use of force. The “Shiite” revolt in Iraq and the siege against Iran were additional reasons for adopting this approach.
The developments in Nabatieh, Kfar Ramman, Tyre, Bint Jbeil and the Ring bridge have demonstrated that this revolution can neutralize Hezbollah’s weapons. This is a demand for any practical politics in countries like Lebanon. It has also become clear that Hezbollah’s weapons cannot neutralize the revolution. The revolt, according to the party, has started to snowball and it must be stopped before it continues to get bigger.
The party is an expert at circumventing change: 2005 witnessed the national independence agenda and an end to hegemony over security agencies. In 2006, the party abducted two Israeli soldiers bringing about the July war.
The Aounist movement could not do the same thing with its Christian sect. It appeared weak with nothing to offer its people. The Baabda demonstration in support of President Michel Aoun was the most it could achieve and below the required level to break up the revolt or divide it into two opposing camps.
Hezbollah, therefore, assumed the mission to extract the Shiites from the revolution. To those hesitating it asked: “Why should we become dispersed while they are gathering?”
This mine may or may not explode violently with or without the collapse of the economy.