So That the Plan to Somalize Lebanon Does Not Succeed!
So That the Plan to Somalize Lebanon Does Not Succeed!
Speaking to a panel of scholars, French Envoy Dukan described the manner in which the Lebanese political class has dealt with the great financial, as well as economic and social, collapse as being apathetic, as though it were happening in another country.
He warned his interlocutors that the timeframe is not open and that there is a three-month deadline for reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund. Without such an agreement, Lebanon would be alone, and the international community would only concern itself with humanitarian aid and supplying the country with part of the medicine and food it needs.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, on his visit to Beirut, brought with him what remains of the international community’s desire to support the efforts to retrieve its role and status and what is left of the international community’s interest in the country that is besieged by a power-hungry mafia that has left it hostage to the axis of resistance. Of course, Lebanon is among the countries the UN has listed in its food and humanitarian aid programs, with unique assistance granted to the army and military and security apparatuses. That was emphasized despite international hopes that the small country could rise up.
Fighting off the collapse and retrieving growth demand a change in the approach being taken, and the visitor from the UN tried to explore this. He thus called on those clinging to power to take steps to stop the freefall. He also urged them to give precedence to citizens’ interests, respect the law and the judiciary, and commit to being transparent in dealing with the crime of the explosion at the port. He hinted at the pledges made by the prime minister of the paralyzed government about the negotiations with the IMF and his commitment to hold the elections on schedule. But Guterres got the real answer from the mafia controlling the country, which has left the Lebanese with two choices, either emigrate or starve!
The answer was in the scandalous mark of shame that Hezbollah has managed, which entails curtailing the diaspora’s right to vote in response to the demands of the general’s son-in-law Gebran Bassil in return for the dismissal of the lead investigator of the port crime in response to the demands made by Hassan Nassrallah a month ago. The latter is a demand Speaker Nabih Berri has strived to achieve to protect immunities and entrench impunity. Nothing comes before the power hungry’s priority of safeguarding their interests, ensuring that they stay in power, and entrenching the spoil-sharing system! Mikati brought down the agreement, with the appeal failing and the diaspora allowed to vote, while the lead investigator has maintained his position for now. But that is not a question of principle in as much as the deal’s crudeness belittled the premiership and threatened Mikati with a glaring defeat after his call with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron, his adoption of the “Jeddah Declaration,” and standing behind the decision to distance the al-Wefaq group for attacking the Kingdom of Bahrain.
It is being echoed that the investigation into the port explosion crime, despite its secrecy and integrity, could be arriving at conclusions that do not please Hezbollah. There is talk of the party being held responsible for the ammonium shipment, that is, for turning a third of Beirut into ruble! For his part, Bassil was worried about the diaspora vote punishing his party, while Hezbollah was worried it could lose its parliamentary majority. That compelled them to draw up a plan that entailed a coup against the judiciary, putting judicial decisions in their hands and putting an end to the judicial revolt that had been heralding the judiciary’s independence.
It was clear to Guterres, who described the situation in Lebanon as “heartbreaking,” adding that “fundamental reforms must be implemented.” What is happening is a violation of the constitution, an insult to the institutions, and a flagrant assault on the Constitutional Council, which they have turned into a “peacemaker,” and belittlement of the state’s prestige. The authoritarian parties, which are the beneficiaries of citizens’ suffering, have turned paralyzing institutions into a tool for exerting control after having corrupted political life with “on-demand” laws, are the other side of the law granting amnesty for war crimes allow the mafia coalition to ascend to power and suffocate the country’s citizens! They strengthen the rumors that Lebanon has become a corpse awaiting an agreement on its burial day!
The picture is very bleak, especially considering the challenges facing the region that complicate the situation in Lebanon and impact it profoundly. The country has been sentenced to subordination since the settlement with Hezbollah was concluded in 2016, and it has been sold off in service of Tehran’s Vienna plan, with no regard for the repercussions of the comprehensive collapses that have hit it. These collapses have become a fireball that is consuming everything, while the government that was disrupted by Hezbollah a month after it was formed, a process that did not end until 13 months after the port explosion. What future awaits a destroyed country run by an alliance by a mafia and militia founded on the statelet’s surplus of power?
No agreement will emerge from the Geneva negotiations anytime soon. Indeed, it is looking increasingly distant, and the gap is massive. Tehran, which seeks to reach the nuclear threshold, is playing hardball, and it is behaving as though the “Persian Crescent” is on the rise on the regional scene. Meanwhile, in reality, its positions are shaky from Marib to Baghdad and Damascus. Only in Lebanon does it dominate, and that is thanks to Hezbollah’s hold on all the reins of power and its monopoly on decision-making.
This kind of situation, in which no effort is being made to halt the collapse and the government is unable to even positively surprise, means that the domestic scene will continue to collapse in Lebanon. There is a chance that the dynamics of these collapses and the dynamics of constitutional processes will collide soon. The first of these processes is the parliamentary election, and there are many strong indications that tension and widespread chaos are on the horizon. The sectarian factions are perhaps preparing to restore some aspects of the closed-off cantons seen during the civil war. Here, their bet that the military establishment would be able to contain a situation that mirrors Somalia may be misguided!
Behind these dangerous implications lies the truth; the old Lebanon is dead, and the new one is stumbling as it makes its way. The attempts to reinvigorate the spoil-sharing regime were not fated to succeed. The post-October 17 trajectory has proven that Hezbollah is responsible for the state’s kidnapping, and the collapses did not emerge by chance. Hezbollah imposed a mode of governance through deals that collide with the constitution and accelerated the fall of institutions, turning them into empty shells. What is happening on the judicial front affirms that this branch of government is being targeted, and there is much to suggest that the military establishment is being targeted as well. The wider goal is turning Lebanon into an uninhabitable place, a mere geographic space that is easy to control.
The October 17 revolution exposed the dimensions of this hegemony and put a dent in the attempts to hide behind a resistance that has run its course. What we are seeing is a militia defending a sectarian spoil-sharing regime that relies on legislative corruption. That corruption prevents the implementation of political and judicial decisions, protects those breaking the law, and undermines sovereignty. There is no doubt that those choking the country cannot be confronted without the people becoming political actors again, as we had seen during the first few months of the revolution. The situation is too critical to be dealt with as an “Arab outburst.” Indeed it demands that we stop satisfying ourselves with criticizing “groups” whose influence is now a thing of the past, as is the “leading figures” of the revolution being considered its engine. We can also be sure that targeting the revolution with violence, pursuing cases and fabricating crimes were all part of an effort to paralyze those involved in it and prevent the emergence of organized political groups. The latter could be depended on to crystalize a political alternative that opens the door to the return of political life and shakes it up. That affirms Lebanon and still changes course, and it is not fated to be Somalized.