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Justice… A Firebird

Justice… A Firebird

Thursday, 2 June, 2022 - 11:45

The word “justice” was heard several times during the newly elected Lebanese Parliament’s first session, immediately followed by the word “annulled” being yelled out by the Speaker of the Parliament representing the ruling coalition majority.

It is as though the current government is unable to hear words such as “justice for victims of the Beirut explosion”, as some of the accused of being responsible for their murder, injury, and displacement, were sitting among their peers in Parliament. They cannot hear “justice for Lokman Slim” either, as the party accused of his assassination is well represented in Parliament, or “justice for the depositors” who lost their savings due to the complicity of the authorities, Parliament, and the banks.

Social media users swiftly pointed to the demand for” justice” and its imminent annulment. In the end, the newly elected Parliament, with 13 new deputies belonging to the bloc “17 October revolution”, is not yet out of the hands of those responsible for leading Lebanon into the abyss and is hindering all efforts at a solution. The same applies to the executive and judicial branches, which orbit around the “traditional ruling blocs.”

It was no coincidence that those who supported October 17 and followers of traditional parties came together, each from a different standpoint, and harshly criticized the “change deputies.” Unfortunately for the latter, the hopes being pinned on them are commensurate with the scale of destruction that we have recently seen in Lebanon. While their rivals have all the state tools, funds, arms, and media outlets they need, these deputies have nothing but an audience that demands to have their catastrophes resolved.

As for justice, a term that was repeated during the new Lebanese Parliament’s first session, it is more like the firebird of Slavic mythology. Its ability to radiate light and its dazzling beauty are only commensurate to the degree of difficulty of reaching it and entrapping it in a cage. The most one could hope for is managing to get a feather from the wing of a firebird to light the darkness of his home and his life.

This sought-after but paralyzed justice would appear increasingly elusive the more we pursued it. Attributing super powers to the new deputies does not help them or their voters, nor do the attempts to reinvigorate the political process. The fact that amid the economic collapse, we have powerful forces is determined to defend the regime, even if that means paving this path with violence, assassination and naked repression, leaves little room for these representatives to begin implementing the programs and ideas they pushed for, most of which are delusional. The regime, in contrast, is rooted in the structure of Lebanese society, its sects, clans, and social classes. It is aware of the threats posed by voices questioning partial identities.

Some perhaps believe that what has happened in Lebanon since the legislative elections, all the way up to the parliament session, was nothing more than the noisy bickering over the causes of their country’s demise, demonstrating that those taking part in this theater are too weak to fix the situation, and are, in fact, “tokens” that the ruling group is exploiting to market to foreign powers in Lebanon.

It is not unreasonable to believe that this sideshow obscures another grave threat to Lebanon and the region, one that has been voiced during the recent speeches of the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, the specter of an imminent regional war based on a misguided bet on Lebanon’s oil and gas resources, which we still need to cross a long and thorny road to exploit.

The Secretary-General, addressing those who celebrated the election of 13 deputies pushing for change, told them what they do not want to hear: There is no escape from this noose tied on your neck. We promise you nothing but wars, “victories,” and blood, as well as more civil strife, the disintegration of the state, and the erosion of society. The pretexts for the next wars have already been formulated. If the argument about protecting Lebanon’s oil wealth at sea does not work, then there is nothing wrong with waging war for any other reason.

So far, despite the good intentions and loud but ineffective voices for change in Parliament, the kind of political bloc needed to dismantle the ruling clique and its networks, from banks to armed militias, has not yet been formed. Destruction is still the only item on the agenda of the regime’s owners and protectors. Lebanon has not developed an ability to fight its diseases. Meanwhile, the feuds from among the figures of this regime and its clients continue, and politicians addicted to gambling with what they do not have and continue to recalibrate according to tactical demands.

The dream of granting the victims of crime committed by these corrupt, violent, and unaccountable groups justice is far from our grasp, a firebird. But it seems inevitable to run after it in hope that a feather of hope drops from the bird’s wing.

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