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Lebanon: A B7 Republic

Lebanon: A B7 Republic

Friday, 24 September, 2021 - 10:30

The scene of Iranian fuel tankers being smuggled into Lebanon in broad daylight for everyone to see - especially the government, which chose to put its head in the sand- is not complete without that of the celebrations that accompanied it.

Purporting to have broken an imagined siege supposedly imposed on its base and republic by arrogant international forces, the new fuel importers celebrated a new illusional victory.

The state was nowhere to be seen during the carnival, preferring to hide behind its weakness and impotence, as it is incapable of confronting the B7 republic, its celebratory or targeted gunfire, or its transport of weapons across the border.

The B7 moment was neither a spontaneous reaction, nor was it diligently thought out. It was as typical a scene as could be in today’s Lebanon. It is more than the fact that rocket missiles were fired in the air to celebrate fuel tankers’ arrival. Those who fired it aimed at expanding the gaps in the national sphere, leaving them to be filled by those with an arsenal that has been lifted above the state, the constitution, the economy and soon the judiciary, illustrating the national entity’s transformation into a backyard for the new populist Lebanese republic.

In practice, the B7 Republic has created a formula that leaves the sovereignty of arms above that of the state and the sovereignty of fuel tankers above that of the economy. The mighty impose the terms and laws that suit them, and their propaganda machine leaves them with the capacity to justify their actions and raise the slogan “dignity does not require customs,” in what is a clear violation that undermines the state, which needs to collect taxes to fulfill the largest possible extent of its duties. However, it is clear that the state has become a statelet and that the statelet has replaced the state, preventing the state from concretely managing its public affairs and serving function.

With the sound of B7 being fired in the background, then, political fuel entered Lebanon, and Hezbollah declared that it had managed to break the siege it claims had been imposed on Lebanon. The ruling party’s cheers for its victory of breaking the siege compelled activists to comment by saying that it had “made up a siege and then pretended to break it.”

As for the claim that this fuel will bring an end to the humiliation and suffering of the Lebanese queuing at gas stations to fill their tanks and will provide the market with its needs, it is a clever ruse by those who imported it. The fuel is untaxed and will be sold at high prices; it was brought in on the eve of the government’s decision to lift subsidies on oil products, which opens the door to broad questions about the timing.

What has already been brought in and what Lebanon will receive in the future cannot meet the bare minimum needed by the party’s base, who greeted the tankers with jubilant cheering and by throwing rice. Nonetheless, the quantities being brought in are likely to remain limited, as it would otherwise provoke the ire of the Iranian people. The statement issued by the Iranian government, which claimed that the fuel sent to Lebanon had been paid for by Lebanese businessmen, is clearly nothing more than an attempt to quell domestic outrage, as the people resent the fact that their national wealth is being squandered on foreign projects.

Returning to the “B7” or “RPG,” it is a shoulder-fired missile launcher used against stationary and moving and armored vehicles, and it can also be used against enemy fortifications and facilities. It was considered the pride of the Soviet military industry and has been used by armies in conventional wars, but it was also used to celebrate breaking an imaginary siege.

Thus, they could be used to serve multiple purposes in the near future, especially protecting systematic or smaller scale smuggling, to deter those who are considering making an objection, or subdue the government, whose premier voiced his dismay at the sight of the tankers. However, he forgot or pretended to forget that he ascended to his position by climbing on those tankers and that people’s spontaneous B7s could be fired on the Serail (government building) or used to quash the judiciary or intimidate a judge. Indeed, the people have been using their arsenal in a wide variety of ways.

After the October 17 uprising, Hezbollah, as the “ruling party,” took protecting the ruling clique upon itself, and as the regime was being dealt severe blows, the party opted to hold it even tighter. The party that used to behave like a regional force has been dragged into the winding corridors of everyday life and economic issues. Their slogan “we won’t go hungry” did not hold up for long. As for the political fuel, it resembles the other deluded economic projects that ended up posing problems and creating tensions within the party’s base.

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