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5 Quick Takeaways from the Lebanese Revolt, Others

5 Quick Takeaways from the Lebanese Revolt, Others

Sunday, 8 December, 2019 - 08:00

1- In 1989, central and eastern Europe witnessed several uprisings that spelled the end of the Soviet Union: The people rose up in East Germany, Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. These protests were peaceful and derived inspiration from the 1789 French Revolution and the 1917 Russian Revolution. The uprisings were led by the people, not a party and a party leader. They did not destroy democratic and constitutional life. On the contrary, they established it out of nothing. They did not lead to civil war, but allowed them to contain the earthquake that was the peaceful division of Czechoslovakia. They also allowed them to take in the unification of Germany. These are the most ideal revolutions.

That same period, however, witnessed the conflict over who inherits the Soviet empire. Thus, we witnessed the wars in the former Yugoslavia and Chechnya. In both these cases, religion and sectarianism came to play and produced civil discord.

2- The “Arab Spring” revolts fall somewhere in between the above two examples: They started off peaceful, but the oppression of the ruling regimes pushed them towards the latter example. Tunisia remains the role exception.

The Lebanese revolution is a mix of the above two examples. It also derives examples from recent uprisings over poor socio-economic conditions that were witnessed in France, Chile, Iraq and Iran. The protesters are predominantly demanding improved social and economic conditions. The Lebanese people are also posing a question of identity, similar to what is taking place in Hong Kong and Catalonia.

3- Despite various contradictions, the Lebanese people have managed to mark major accomplishments that are at the core of their new revolutionary identity: First, they set aside sectarianism, even if for a small degree, from public life. Sectarianism looms large over Lebanon through cronyism and division of political shares. It would be futile to introduce any economic reform and provide job opportunities without shedding off some of this sectarianism. It would also be futile to attempt to save democracy and develop it while the country remains entrenched in sectarianism.

Second, the protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful. Let us take a step back and admire how youths, who have been deprived of their most basic rights, have managed to keep their protests peaceful. This peacefulness strikes at the core of a regime that has deprived them of life’s basic needs. This peacefulness is also a reflection of the restraint of the people and the best reply to de facto forces’ warnings and intimidation that the protests could spiral into violence.

4- The same relation that exists between sectarianism and violence also exists between the non-sectarianism and non-violence: It is true that the authority’s deliberate failure to meet the protesters’ demands have led some people to suicide. This total disregard to the pleas of the people could have easily pushed some of them towards violence. However, this is not how the Lebanese revolution works. Turning to violence in Lebanon is the easiest way to bring back sectarianism and lift the morale of its corrupt leaders. Civil divisions will eliminate social demands and the goals of the revolution once violence rears its ugly head.

5- The revolutions in central Europe may not have been possible without the collapse of the Soviet Union: The collapse provided fertile ground for change. This does not apply to Lebanon because Iran, despite its economic crisis and own protests, is still fully functional along with its allies and proxies. Iran and its allies are working on bringing about the Yugoslavia and Chechnya scenarios. This counter-revolution will only make the main uprisings more committed to their peaceful path.

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