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On the Government of Collapse and Violence!

On the Government of Collapse and Violence!

Thursday, 23 January, 2020 - 12:00

Hezbollah has made up its mind and decided to announce the formation of the Lebanese government, headed by Hassan Diab, 33 days after he had been appointed and following 85 days of governmental vacuum. The partisan power-sharing in this government of twenty is restricted to the “axis of resistance”, with Hezbollah’s direct presence among faces that, politically speaking, belong to the era of the Syrian occupation. In this sense, this is a pre-2005 government. If the 2018 elections had, to some extent, as per Deputy-Speaker of Parliament Elie Ferzli “corrected the error” made after the independence uprising, then announcing this government is nothing but a desire to deliver two messages: First, that all of the positive implications of the second independence have been undone, and second, that there is a definitive divorce between the ruling side led by Nasrallah and the October 17 revolution.

Diab’s word after announcing the government formation, which overlooked the truth and reality when he claimed it was “a government of exception” and that it included exceptional non-partisan ministers, set a precedent when the public demanded its overthrow before the memorial photo of the government was even taken. Diab broke the promises he made the day he was appointed, as he is happy with entering the Prime Ministers’ club. Nevertheless, he remains the weakest link in a government formed for him by those responsible for the country's collapse and isolation. He doesn't have a political banner, no popularity and no political experience to make use of.

This means that the constitutional authority invested in such a prominent decision-making and executive position was already confiscated before the formation, as evidenced by the fierce conflict over seats, forcing him to name only his share of ministers, even though the Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri did not reveal the names of his representatives until the moment that the legislation of the government formation was printed.

The announced government provided more than one indicator of a new type of Iranian-Syrian coexistence/competition within the “axis of resistance” camp, and it pointed towards a reinstatement of certain limits on the influence of every party. In a decisive moment, it seemed that Hezbollah’s control over its allies had been shaken. In a crucial moment, Hezbollah rushed to form a favorable government as it is in dire need for internal fortification in light of the pressures and dangers that it is facing after Soleimani’s death! This is not far removed from the political dimensions drawn by Putin’s visit to Syria and his reception of the Syrian president in a Russian military base in Damascus. This has unambiguously revealed that the Syrian regime has subjected itself to Russia, which shows that there is indeed disagreement, however limited, between Tehran and Moscow regarding Lebanon.

While the Lebanese did not discuss the qualifications of any of the candidates in the government of masks, and there were no ideas or visions on the priorities of this government that is facing total collapse and the implications of isolation as a result of Hezbollah being at its forefront, the people who took to the street saw Diab’s government as a provocation and an insult to the revolution that has repeatedly declared that any government that goes against the October 17 Revolution will not receive the support of the interior nor the exterior, both of which had urged for a government that is independent of the ruling parties capable of meeting the peoples’ demands and implementing the necessary reforms.

Putting aside the structural flaws in the formation of speech, so far, there is also a political program, and nobody knows what the government’s economic agenda is. Meanwhile, the Lebanese Pound is collapsing, salaries are no longer sufficient to cover the needs of families, peoples’ savings are diminishing, and hunger has started to haunt citizens. This is not limited to rural areas, but also to cities where working-class neighborhoods have become hotspots of poverty.

In this context, the immediate response of the demonstrators is to try to avoid the imminent collapse being overseen by an authoritarian formula whose decision is not made by the ministers of the government, inasmuch as they are in the hands of Nasrallah and what he represents and the parliamentarian General Jamil al-Sayyed and his affiliates. Consequently, the government may resort to the language of repression and violence with the protesters. Notably, the new Minister of Interior commended the security forces performance, the same performance that has led to more than 500 injured and several losing their eyes, instigating a wave of internal and international criticism and what Head of the Order of Lawyers found to be a “clear violation of all standards of security”. A legal campaign to hold officials responsible for the excessive violence and the use of rubber bullets from up close accountable has taken shape, in an attempt to prevent the most vulnerable from paying the price of the collapse and the persistence of ensuring the security of the cartel-like banking, thereby legitimizing their turning of the Lebanese into beggars at the doors of their banks.

The night of the 100th day of the dignity revolution is almost upon us, and not a single official has addressed the peoples’ pain. Instead, they continue to be indifferent and stubborn. The announcement of the government signaled a desire for isolation and ex-communication, and this kind of behavior amounts to a formula that will aggravate rage and heighten the revolution. Far from any discussion on violence and concerns about what it may lead to, it has become apparent that the demonstrators are the most cautious about keeping Beirut a pearl among cities. They will remain peaceful, and this is affirmed by the extensive participation by women and families. People have lost a lot, and they have placed all their stakes on the success of the revolution, the peaceful nature which has resonated with all groups in society will persist until the formation of a real rescue government to save the country from collapse! The popular rage is nothing but an expression of self-defense instigated by a long line of insults and violations of dignity. 

The regime’s behavior after October 17, as well as this government, are the only ones responsible for the rage that is traversing Lebanon. Whoever is threatening civil peace is hoping that chaos will save the power-sharing confessional system that Hezbollah has been at the forefront of, while the revolution for dignity has, for the first time in the history of this country, undone the outcomes of the civil war, and has articulated demands for change and affirmed that the people who took the country to collapse are not capable of rescuing it. It is as if the revolution is saying: You have deprived us of the most fundamental rights, the right work, water, electricity, healthcare, and education. You increased the poverty rate and turned the Lebanese into beggars, all while making wealth beyond imagination and yet you call for fighting corruption!!

Lebanon has entered a new phase. The October rebels are challenging lies with truth, and there is no retreat. No attempt to turn the revolution violent will be successful. The general conviction that the revolution should be peaceful will stop this destruction and rebuild the state, and Beirut will remain a “flower that never dies”!

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