Hanna Saleh

The Forces of Change Face the Challenge of Uniting and Restoring the State!

The 2022 parliamentary elections are not a repeat of the 2018 elections or any other election. When discussing the collapse, destitution, starvation, and people being left to die at hospital gates, the cause of these tragedies- the parties to the alliance between the mafia and the militia that looted, impoverished and hijacked the state after plundering the country’s resources- are always part of the conversation.

The value of the lira collapsed, and its purchasing power was decimated, with the exchange rate against the dollar rising from 1,500 to 33,000 Liras, the price of a bundle of bread rising from 1,500 to 11,000 Liras, the price of a tank of gasoline from about 20 thousand to 500 thousand Liras, and the same is true for diesel and gas. Cancer patients are being killed in their homes because of medicine shortage, and recently, prisoners were killed after they weren’t given treatment. $80 billion worth of bank deposits have been robbed, and two million citizens went from living comfortably to becoming impoverished. After $48 billion were squandered on electricity, the country sank into complete darkness. With 82 percent of the Lebanese having been impoverished, Lebanon has become a hub for skilled labor migration, and the country’s coastline has become a dock hosting “death boats” carrying those hoping to escape hell.

Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has said that corruption has been enshrined into law. Every budget passed by Lebanese governments was loaded with crony dealings and wasteful spending on projects that provided the country’s people with nothing, like dams that do not collect water and deals for ships delivering electricity that hindered the construction of power plants. Parliaments gave their stamp of approval. Moreover, as we all know, Lebanon’s balance of payments has been negative for 12 years, and so the authorities went about financing their crony dealings through the people’s bank deposits through the schemes Central Bank Governor cooked up with a banking cartel that turned out to be a gang of loan sharks who destroyed a more than 100-year-old banking industry.

A mere glance at the names of the majority candidates fielded by the regime led by Hezbollah that is running the country, which sees the party in alliance with the President of the Republic and the Amal Movement, as well as the minors parties tied to the Syrian regime, leaves citizens feeling the depth of the hatred that this regime’s figures harbor for the majority of the Lebanese people . The others, albeit to divergent degrees, are also “beyond the pale.”

Hezbollah nominated the deputies that had been elected to Parliament in 2018 “because they have been productive,” according to Nasrallah. Meanwhile, the electoral program of Speaker Berri, who has been the Speaker of Parliament for 30 years, is based on three axes; the first is “not infringing on the rights of depositors,” which was translated into impeding the ratification of a “capital control” law that would have prevented smuggling. And so, he is now nominating the notorious Marwan Khair El-Din, a banker accused of seizing billions of dollars from citizens and pushed for “Lirafication-” that is, forcibly converting deposits in foreign currency into Lebanese Pounds, thereby leaving depositors to bear the costs of the authorities’ corruption! The second axis is “following through on the investigation of the port blast.” Thus, he re-nominated two deputies, Zuaiter and Khalil, who are evading justice after having been charged with the felony of “possible intent” to murder as part of the investigation into the port crime. Berri leads the ranks of those clinging to immunity and defending the “regime of impunity”! The third axis is “not squandering a cubic meter of the oil wealth Lebanon has in its waters.” He was the one who concluded the “framework agreement” with the US in which Lebanon gave up on Line 29, the maritime border as agreed in the armistice agreement of 1949 and the Blue Line of 2000. In addition, along with his partners in the regime, he agreed to the exclusive economic zone that is bigger than the country’s South Governorate and is worth an estimated $100 billion, including the lion’s share of the Karish gas field, which Israel has already laid its hands on.

Nonetheless, surrealism peaks with Basil’s announcement of the presidential team’s candidates. He painted them as part of the opposition. “We want to bring electricity, build dams, extract oil and gas, and build the state,” he said, overlooking the fact that the Ministry of Energy has been under part of his faction’s share for 15 years and that the alliance he is part of has held a third of government seats for the same period. On top of that, Aoun has been President for over 5 years. Their “achievements,” covering for the statelet’s arms and Hezbollah’s hijacking of the state, as well as perpetuating the policy of isolating Lebanon from its Arab neighbors. So when and how will he achieve these demands? In any case, his list of candidates included, in addition to a man convicted of having collaborated with Israel, 3 former energy ministers who left the country in total darkness.

They continue to offend and show their contempt for the people by nominating criminals, corrupt officials, fugitives who have been sanctioned, and people accused of collaborating with the enemy and subordination to the Syrian regime or being held hostage by the Velayat-e-Faqih regime. With the help of sectarian electoral law, which is neither constitutional nor aligned with the people’s will, Hezbollah seeks to obtain a two-third majority in Parliament, impose a candidate for the Presidency, and ratify constitutional amendments that up the balance of power upon which the constitution was founded, thereby changing the Taif regime and potentially legitimizing the statelet’s arsenal.

Hezbollah’s plan is aided by Hariri’s decision to suspend political activity and his efforts to sow despair and encourage a boycott, impeding attempts in the Sunni street to stand up to the “axis of resistance.” He wasn’t satisfied with paving the way for Aoun’s presidency and providing the stamp of approval to the settlement that put the country’s decision-making in the hand of the Iran axis; indeed, it seems that since reaching this ruinous settlement, he continues to give Nasrallah gifts and shows no reluctance to take down anyone who tries to stand up to Hezbollah. Meanwhile, Mikati’s decision not to run is an attempt to “sit on the fence” in managing these elections, with the confidence that he will remain in the prime minister’s office, and a party to the normalization of the 2016 settlement, without bearing the costs that Hariri had paid.

The hope is that- based on the sectarian preferential voice law and the capabilities of the authority and the intimidation of arms- the challenge posed by nominating such candidates, which as has already been stated, have the Karish alliance behind them, the elections will be a referendum on the current developments in the region. The elections will turn into more than an attempt to leave the Mafia militia alliance above water, serving as a road to amnesty for the crimes committed, from the looting to the crime of the port blast and the resulting genocide... and perhaps also amnesty for subsequent crimes.

The October 17 “revolution” brought about a profound change, as it exposed the naked criminality of the authoritarian structure. It is an obsession of these authoritarians to consolidate their domination through complex elections based on a law that is a fabrication aimed at electoral fraud, as well as through financial obstacles that, in light of the great financial collapse, prevent people from engaging in these elections. It is imperative that the forces of change rise to the double challenge of running in these elections: Lists that are unified along political alliances bring together the highest common denominator of shared views, disregarding obsessions with vote sorting and shows of force, under a platform of rescuing the country and restoring a state that was hijacked with arms, corruption and sectarianism. The challenge, in its entirety, is to formulate unified lists before April 4th –the date for registering electoral lists, to reflect the strength of these forces of change and expose the crimes of the “Karish Alliance.” As such, the ballot box will be able to realize what the people seek. Without this, a parliamentary majority will not be able to manifest itself, and these elections will not serve the hopes envisaged by people of initiating the process of rescuing Lebanon and placing it on the right track in order to emerge out of crises and mitigate the state of perturbation in which the Lebanese find themselves.