The latest deadline set as an objective by all the Lebanese factions was the nuclear deal signed between the P5+1 countries and Iran (The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) on July 1, 2015, but like most political deadlines in the Lebanese political landscape, its more of a mirage in the desert, which once passed, disappears along with any promise.
Nevertheless, the nuclear deal is a huge psychological tipping point, and either Lebanon can use it as a breakthrough to re-launch its political dynamic with the election of a president that will reset the constitutional counter at zero, or it will continue towards a breakdown with every institution being successively, negatively impacted.
The single major psychological benefit of the conclusion of the deal, is the sense of relief that is over. People can finally situate themselves on either side of the regional fence.
This sense of relief in itself should be used as a catalyst for a breakthrough because it is time to admit that for Lebanon, the solution to the present presidential deadlock and the continuing disintegration of the state is as much an internal problem as it believed to be external one.
If a solution is to be found to this crisis it should be done as soon as possible while the momentum of relief is still present, because realistically, the impact of the nuclear deal itself will have minimal effect on Lebanon due to the existing power sharing structure which is already in place in the Ta’ef accord. It operates as a de facto “Triumvirate”- Regardless of whether we are able to elect a president or not, the seat is in essence for the Christians.
Furthermore, the questions on everybody’s mind are: Will Hezbollah gain strength as a result of this deal? The answer is: Hezbollah is already strong, and will the Sunni community be disenfranchised? The answer is: The Sunni community is institutionalized like every other confessional community in Lebanon, and therefore its rights protected.
On the matter of the presidency: Will it push the deputies to elect a president? Not unless the deal is like the Ta’ef or Doha accords where the name of a candidate was part of the overall settlement package. But the truth of the matter is, that even if the deal is cooked from the outside, it still has to be served “mezze-style” in Lebanon to satisfy everyone’s taste.
In conclusion: There are no more mirages in sight and we must face the blatant reality of our political drought and do something about this as Lebanese, or face breakdown...
The Liberal Democrats
As we sit in the middle of this terrible sand storm which originated in Iraq and Syria we can only be forced to pay attention to the omens. The way of clarity is certainly not available at this time. We are still in the churning of chaos. At times like these it is is wise to retreat. Words are precious and must not be wasted in fruitless dialogues that seek only to appropriate and neuter the emergence of change. The popular revolt being expressed in Lebanon is being fought against from all sides, including accusations of external sponsorship, and now even the weather is conspiring to make the quest harder. The popular swell in its gravity and spontaneity forced reluctant Lebanese politicians to the table after a year of sulking and boycotting each other. However, did they come to the table to resolve their differences or to unite against a common enemy that threatens them? The revolution must go on...
As for me, sometimes only poetry can express the level of my dismay. Prose is too limiting, because it is in the gaps of the unsaid that the play of truth can emerge long enough to remind us of the things that need to be expressed. These are my thoughts this week.
"In the purgatory of delay
Lebanese politicians play
They maneuver to safeguard
Their habitual charade
While the storm of sand
Uniformly covers the land
Angry citizens flail and fail
Public rage and political deceit
Compete noisily on the street
In spontaneous demonstrations
And some other fabrications
But the stench of incompetence
Lies in garbage of big pretense
Our Lebanon is made ill
Turned into a horrid landfill
Toxic smoke fills our struggling lungs
Replacing the sound of smoke guns
Rats roam and the plague nears
As every solution disappears
Because of the stupidity
Of the selfish and greedy
Lebanon stares now at a calamity.
Will the people succeed?
Do the young have to bleed?
Is non-violence the way?
To get change underway?
Through screams and tears
Or shots fired and angry jeers?
How can one even budge
The lords of waste and sludge
Who robed the nation
For their own glorification
With a sickening smile
And pretending all the while
To be serving the weak
When it is subservience they seek
Keeping people like sheep
Grateful for their token kindness
Confused by flattery and blindness
They rate their magnitude
By the volume of servitude
These old power merchants
Are paradises’ resident serpents
They should be held accountable
For ensuring that poverty is profitable
These flamboyant thieves
Must be forced to leave
Only their names to remain
A vestige of their corrupt reign
In a dark corner of history
That is their failed failed legacy.
I still have to believe
That though we cry -
The phoenix can still fly…"
A President as the catalyst for change not the street.
As the screams rise there are no words left which have not yet been used to describe the abuse and neglect of the state towards its citizens.
Though change is in the air we must guard against chaos. The volatility of the environment and the element of unintended outcomes is a recipe for potential un-controllable escalation and deterioration.
The messages being communicated by the people though numerous and varied, can be condensed in the following: “Governmental neglect and abuse of power”. This applies to every sector and every policy implemented to-date for years. In addition, the lack of cohesion, unity and altruism by different leaders has lead to this impasse.
However, we have to distinguish between the call for change and the implementation of change. The call for change presently is from the ground up, but if the implementation of change happens in this way it usually provokes a fall into chaos.
Nevertheless, the call has been made, the anger has been shown, and the danger signs pointing to escalation have been flashed. Therefore it has become necessary to be proactive in order to prevent a breakdown of national security, and to safeguard the institutions, which are the last bastions of the Nation. The redistribution of power must be handled responsibly and from the top down.
In order to do this, a president of the Republic is the fist piece of the puzzle that should be placed on the board of change. Then, with the selection of a prime minister, a new cabinet must be formed reflecting the demands of the people with the first criteria being integrity and transparency.
Thereafter, there are two priorities, that have to be addressed above all:
1- Firstly: A national budget to be delivered immediately, to scientifically resolve the matter of ranks and salaries.
2- Secondly: An electoral law to be ratified which will ensure full representation.
(For elections to take place let us not neglect the fact that the time must be taken to educate people in the application and implication of this new law.)
What the people are calling for is a total governmental vacuum before restitution. This is dangerous and threatens the procedural flow of the implementation of positive change.
That is why the Presidency is the masterpiece of this puzzle and must be placed before all the other pieces to complete the full image of a new Lebanon that answers the popular outcry for accountability and commitment to social welfare.
Let us not be carried away by revolutionary sentiment but let us revolutionize our sentiment and act responsibly for once.
But act fast or else...