Mustafa Fahs

Lebanon... Time Without a Place, a Place Without Time

In the Lebanese disagreements, place is no longer the only divisible element. Even time was divided into two imaginary places. In both of them, the lines of partition re-surfaced, in parallel with calls for confederation or federalism by the promoters of these lines, reviving the language of civil, sectarian, and regional war.

In what looked like a moment of weakness, some tried to provoke or recklessly impose their timing on the Lebanese. Their move was based on the requirements of their political clock, through which they exercised dominance over space and control over time, until the first minutes of the dawn of Oct. 17, 2019 - the beginning of the Lebanese hour, or the time of the uprising.

Far from the repugnant sectarian confrontation over transition to daylight saving time, which revealed the readiness of Lebanese society for a new civil conflict similar to what happened in 1975, political, spiritual and media elites exchanged accusations in the past days about the motives and justifications behind the delay in the implementation of summer time. They only confirmed that the remnants of the ruling system, which has created or caused Lebanon’s crisis, is still trying with all its capabilities and tools to shift the Lebanese people’s attention from the basic issues that the authorities are unable to address.

For example, the authority system, in the timing crisis, tried to conceal or evade the International Monetary Fund’s report on the economic situation in Lebanon, which concluded with a warning that said: “Lebanon is at a dangerous crossroads, and without rapid reforms will be mired in a never-ending crisis.”

The system avoided responding to what was mentioned in the report, and tried to exploit it politically by linking it to the presidential elections. Some of them called for the necessity to expedite the election of a president for the republic, and did not abandon the French barter offer, which was rejected by the majority, or tried to take advantage of the report in order to weaken candidates, whose criteria conform to the recommendations of the Arab and international communities concerned with helping the Lebanese get out of their crises.

In the presidential wrangling, some of the regime forces, which did not succeed in imposing their settlement through the French mediator, are promoting the idea that the crisis in Lebanon is not political, as most of the forces in the loyalist and opposition camps still maintain their representation. Hence, they suggest that the problem is economic, stressing the need to choose personalities with an economic background to occupy the presidential post.

This suggestion aims to limit the crisis to its economic dimension and to address it through technical means, as if the authority wanted to evade its political responsibility for the deterioration of the economic conditions due to its mismanagement of state affairs.

In fact, what is required internally and externally is to link the economic solution to a political one, which needs new statesmen from outside the system capable of carrying out political and economic reforms.

Therefore, the system, faced with a failure to impose its choices on the presidential elections, is trying to empty these positions of their political weight and push for the selection of technocrat figures with no political background, so that they can remotely control the state and preserve their influence and gains.

Going back to the beginning - to the time divided between two places or the space divided between two different times - the quality of the political response, not the sectarian one, to the prime minister’s decision to delay the implementation of daylight savings time, based on the desire of the Speaker of Parliament as it was deliberately leaked in a recorded tape, is in fact a reaction to the latter’s positions over several constitutional and legislative matters, foremost of which are the presidential elections, with both their national and sectarian dimensions.

Accordingly, a clear message says that the time that some powerful parties imposed on the Lebanese is nearing its end, and that this system is no longer able to turn the clock back one hour, as it is impossible to return it to before October 17.