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October 17… The Revolution Renews

October 17… The Revolution Renews

Thursday, 22 October, 2020 - 11:45

The Lebanese “October Revolution” started its second year quietly despite the endless disputes about its accomplishments and how it could have been better, more appropriate, or more effective. Most of the authoritarian coalition leaders and their followers do not hesitate to blame the revolution for the economic collapse, the exacerbation of hunger, and the security breakdown, as MP Gebran Bassil claimed. The revolution is even blamed for the dangerous pandemic’s spread in Lebanon after the crumble of the government’s claims that preventive measures amazed the world

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, what started in Lebanon on October 17, 2019, was a spontaneous popular movement that broke with decades of injustice, disregard for people’s rights, violations of their dignity, nepotism and the inequality and social disparities, which Lebanon had not known even before the civil war, ensuing from it. At that stage, no one expected the country to be on the verge of bankruptcy. The official media constantly reassured us that the Lebanese pound was fine, only for the signs of bankruptcy to suddenly appear, and the fact that plunder had reached the people’s bank deposits to become exposed!

Of course, the grievances about poor social living conditions that initially compelled people to take to the streets exacerbated with the bankruptcy and rise of unemployment. As to the banks’ confiscation of deposits and the revelations about the banks’ culpability and their strong ties with political authorities, it created a qualitative shift in the people’s movement. It became certain this corrupt plunderous regime could not meet any of the people’s demands.

But there is no need to wait before finalizing the movement’s direction and objectives. A whole year later, the ruling authority has not taken a single decision in citizens’ interest. Indeed, it tied its perpetuity to the exacerbation of the collapse. Those who planned this scheme are obsessed with maintaining the political status quo to protect Hezbollah’s illegitimate arms.

This helped the movement's demands to crystallize rapidly, and they came to revolve around uprooting the ruling clique. The movement took the shape of a peaceful popular revolution, abiding by the constitution and striving to retrieve the abducted state.

The revolution proposed put toppling the sectarian patron-client regime and putting an end to the strongly sectarian quota system on the table. The system, which, of course, began to take shape under the Syrian regime’s occupation three decades ago and deepened after 2005. At that point, the Iranian regime became in control through Hezbollah, the most prominent faction of the Quds Force and the Persian Crescent project.

The governing regime's pillars had arranged frameworks for exercising power and settling disputes among themselves, based on the contingencies of the balances of power. As a result, heresy replaced the constitution, and laws were altered and implemented with a large degree of discretion. The spoil-sharing applied to the judiciary and the role of surveillance bodies disappeared. The authorities subordinated the military; thus, after the revolution, it intimidated peaceful demonstrators and arrested them!

The ruling clique’s successive rifts, starting with Hariri’s forced resignation, embarrass Hezbollah, which has been positioning itself as the corrupt spoil-sharing regime’s foremost defender. Various intimidation and targeting campaigns were launched, and efforts to reinvigorate the previous March 8 and March 14 division were relentless. This muted some groups’ roles, heightened the specter of civil war, and even highlighted old battlefronts... Nevertheless, despite their money, media institutions, organizational capacity, control of the state and weapons, the shadow of the counter-revolutionary forces’ success is scant. The reason for this is the months of mass mobilization reached the most remote corners in the country, spreading a national consciousness that permeated the country’s social fabric. It would not have had such a strong impact if it weren’t for the mass participation of students and women, which hastened the realization that the cabal that has been in power for three decades had expired. All the functions it serves are out of date, to say nothing about the dreams the people dared to voice and the rights they demanded!

Many comparisons were made with events that post-independence Lebanon had witnessed, events that concluded with settlements that introduced the political structure's internal balance of power. From the general strike in opposition to Bechara El-Khoury in 1952 to the 1958 anti-Camille Chamoun "revolution" and all the dangerous developments that undermined Lebanon between 1969 and the end of the civil war in 1990. Lebanon’s relinquishment of its sovereignty through the 1969 Cairo Agreement set the stage for the later phase, and up to the developments of 2005, all of these movements were "revolutions" from above. They mirrored an intensification of the conflict over quotas of the spoil-sharing regime among inheritors of authority!

The comparison does not apply today. The revolution’s impact on the authorities’ behavior is clear for all to see. They speak of a government independent of the ruling sectarian pirates. Previously, they tried to trick the public by present Hassan Diab's government as one of independents. On the agenda, regardless of the arrogance, is a detailed discussion of the need for a transitional stage, after the revolution demanded a government independent in its members and leader was accepted by all decision-making capitals. The latter has begun to punish the corrupt regime by going beyond it and directing relief to those who deserve it directly.

Quietly entering the revolution's second year, however, is not, itself, the goal. With the consolidations of the push for political change and the people's belief that this change is forthcoming consolidated and that the tyrants who humiliated the Lebanese will pay the price, relying on seasonal and spontaneous outbursts may backfire and leave catastrophic consequences. And it has been consistently demonstrated that the haughty attempts that were made repeatedly in the name of "groups" to crystallize a for leadership are done. There is no need for dull renditions after so many of these kinds of opportunists have already been exposed. From those who proposed themselves as an alternative to a French delegate, and then to an American one, seeking a position either as an advisor or an expert ... even as part of the hybrid configuration led by Hassan Diab.

The peaceful Lebanese revolution's renewal faces a dual challenge today. The first is moving from spontaneous mobilization to establishing a political organization (or organizations) to bring about solid horizontal structures toward the building of a political front out of trusted leaders. Crystallizing a framework for a cross-regional national safety net is not a luxury any longer. It is essential for both the legitimization of alternative leadership and more needed now, even than it had been before. For the more exposed the authorities' disintegration becomes, the stronger its tendency becomes to resort to violence.

As for the second challenge, developing a political program, it is no less critical than the first. Calls for addressing key issues, the most prominent of which is how to deal with the sovereignty and issue and extend the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, have become pressing.

We are at a time of negotiations in Naquora to demarcate the maritime borders and the reliance on international law to protect our borders, rights, and wealth. Israel has kept the issue of its border vague since its establishment, and resolving it removes the need for the statelet’s arms. Also, when we see the Americans celebrating Major General Abbas Ibrahim, the claim that weapons outside the legitimacy protect the borders, wealth, or the dignity of people becomes totally untenable!

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