Asharq Al-awsat English https://aawsat.com/english Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper http://feedly.com/icon.svg

On Despots Terrified of their People!

On Despots Terrified of their People!

Thursday, 17 February, 2022 - 12:15

The constitutional deadline is now respected! This is the most popular phrase in Lebanon. It is repeated by diplomatic and political representatives, journalists and citizens. We are less than three months away from Thursday, May 10, the date set for parliamentary elections!


No previous constitutional process of this kind had seen attempts to spread fear and misinformation on this scale, pushing a narrative that the elections are pointless. Some have been pushing the idea that open discussions are being held between parties that said they are far from Hezbollah in which they pose the question: what is the point in light of the current balance of power? So long as there is no hope for change, what is the point of preoccupying the country with an electoral workshop? Lebanon has enough issues to deal with!


The pollsters’ projections that are pushed by the media and adopted by almost all the country’s politicians, who had funded them in the first place, are extremely boring. They claim to have relied on science, genuine polling, and the electoral behavior of the Lebanese. However, they deliberately spread despair among the people and leaped over the “October 17” revolution as though Lebanon had not witnessed such massive collapses. This collapse is not limited to finance, the economy, and trade. Indeed, it has gone beyond that, extending to reach the country’s ethical system, and humanitarian values have also broken down. The narrative pushed hard by the media has leaped over the demands of a revolutionary people who want change and launched a cross-sectarian revolution in every region of the country. While it may have been unable to overthrow the sectarian-quota-based spoil sharing system protected by Hezbollah’s immense military capacity, the October Revolution did prove quelling it is no easy task.


This time, the hegemonic forces are led by Hezbollah, and the electoral law, which is unconstitutional. They do not know how people will vote, and they fear that the results will be different from those of all the elections that preceded it. Throughout the past few decades, candidates would start being congratulated upon the announcement of electoral lists, and divergences between projections and the actual results were insignificant. Even before ballot boxes were opened, the results were almost a foregone conclusion.


Moreover, the battles among the parties that have been part of the sectarian-quota-based soil sharing regime were waged to enhance positions with it, increase shares of power, and expand influence. Electoral contests were never based on divergences in political programs and visions for Lebanon. This is evident from the many instances in which we saw parties that had ostensibly been in dispute share a single bed in government, sidelining Parliament and preventing it from monitoring the government’s performance and holding it accountable.


Thus, genuine attempts are being made to find a way to cancel the elections for fear of its results, a fear they have despite the abundance of tools the regime has at its disposal to influence these results, intimidate voters, and undermine the process with bribes! Nasrallah’s reiterations that the electoral results would only bring about minor change, not altering the balance of power, change nothing. Remarkably, Hariri has kept pace with him, though from an inverse position. He justified his decision to “suspend” participation in political life, saying that no one can change the local situation in the near future. The man who did not realize that 17 years is more than enough time to realize that he had failed, or understand the failure’s implications, now wants to suggest that opting for this “suspension” nonsense implies a comeback if the Lebanese succeed in standing up to the efforts to undermine their country. If that were to happen, why would there be a need for Hariri and his like? In any case, Hariri decided to turn his back on the elections because “it will be a disaster!”


This obstructive approach is intensifying, and it is becoming clearer day by day. Thus, foreign officials continue to urge the Lebanese authorities to meet their constitutional obligations, issuing warnings about the danger looming over Parliament’s election of the President as well. In this context, the ambassadors of the countries supporting Lebanon shared their apprehensions about logistic issues, urging “commitment to the legal framework in place,” the allocation of the funds to ensure that it is complied with, and respect for the rights of expatriates.


While the position of Lebanon’s friends seemed like a warning issued before it is too late, the President of the Republic’s speech implied that postponing the electoral process is a possibility. “I know that we have no money, not only for elections but for anything else better than anyone. Perhaps, for this reason, I might have fears about the elections and whether or not they will be held.”


Of course, lacking the necessary funds cannot be a reason for canceling the elections- we are talking about only $15 million. The “counter-revolutionary” government squandered about $2 billion in six months, wasting around $500 million since January 20 through the “Sayrafa” (monetary exchange) platform to buy time. It artificially increased the Lira’s value against the dollar, significantly decreasing the supply of Liras in the market. Nonetheless, however, that did not affect the prices of goods; indeed, it exacerbated living conditions. Funding is not the real issue. The reliable data about how the Lebanese are expected to vote is the issue.


The revolution has been targeted over the past months. What did you do? How would its forces organize their campaigns, given that uniting them is difficult? When the meetings for change that rely on polling for determining candidates began, the picture began changing.


Apprehension heightened as political programs centered around retrieving the state that had been hijacked by force of arms and the importance of Parliament as an institution in which a political alternative could be crystallized. However, the Nabatieh gathering highlighted the political ceiling under which the electoral battle will be fought: “While the regime as a whole is responsible for the country’s state of affairs, (Hezbollah), with its two main allies and the others, who run the executive and legislature, are defending from the front, squandering the last remaining deposits that belong to the Lebanese.”


It exposes the real reason behind the approach of undermining every constitutional process and why attempts to strike a deal are being made among parties to the quota system. Such a deal could be extending the term of the current Parliament that has lost legitimacy, with Aoun staying in Baabda Palace while also seeking alternatives to BDL Governor Riad Salameh LAF Commander General Joseph Aoun.


Today, the question is: What does Hezbollah want from the elections and will it allow them to be held? Nasrallah answered the question. The party wants “many deputies in Parliament to protect the resistance,” warning against betting on the balance of power changing to put hands on the party’s weapons!


He missed a detail concerning the provision of bread and medication. Hezbollah is certainly not the only one disregarding daily pleas for medications that treat fatal and chronic diseases. Thus, the “resistance” priority remains. Sheikh Naim Qassem explained this in detail. The “resistance” is a principle, and what it did in Lebanon was the circumstance. Changed circumstances (the liberation event) would not change the principle, meaning the “resistance” is an end in itself. With every step you take, you must serve it!


In 2005, following the “Independence Uprising,” Lebanon was in a revolutionary frenzy, and the country’s leaders became frightened of its people. And so, these leaders rushed to conclude the “Quadripartite Agreement,” betraying the people’s hopes of a normal, modern state project for the state. Today, the despots’ fears of angry voters have prevailed because the elections are an opportunity to undermine the authority of the tyrants whom President Tammam Salam called “political trash.” They are gravely concerned not only about how the expatriates, most of whom had been forced to migrate and had their deposits looted, will vote but also about the voting behavior of the destitute, hungry residents who have had their dignity stripped of them. Uniting around the objective of retrieving the state and the constitution- to render realizing demands and safeguarding rights possible- is no simple matter. And so, every constitutional process is under threat!


Other opinion articles

Editor Picks

Multimedia