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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ziad Majed (2): On an aborted independence uprising

... On the 14th of March 2005, one month after the assassination of PM Rafic Hariri in a terrorist crime that changed the landscape of Lebanon, a million citizens gathered in Martyr's Square in Beirut heeding the call of the independence uprising against Syrian hegemony and the allies of the Syrian regime, especially those who had gathered on call from HA on the 8th of March. The crowd was record settings by all standards and crowned a month of demonstrations and gatherings and youth and citizen action led well by the wide opposition front, leading to breaking the wall of silence and fear that had "domesticated" and imprisoned most Lebanese and to re-establishing the bond between the people and public affairs in Lebanon. The "uprising" Lebanese made use of international support, at a time when the Syrian regime was under strain due to its assassination of Hariri and to the end of the American given mandate to run the Lebanese file. So Omar Karami's government fell and the fall of the heads of the security apparatuses began, and the country was liberated from a wide "intelligence" rule, and the Syrian army withdwrew on the 29th of April, 29 years after invading Lebanese soil and occupying political life on it. However, this large popular victory did not transform into a decisive political victory. More precisely, it did not cause internal ramifications that reflect its exceptional "external" victory and its liberation of Lebanon from Baathist rule. Between missing the opportunity of forcing the president to resign (as the PM had been) due to the position of the Maronite Patriarch who refused overthrowing him (on the street, before agreeing on a substitute), and accepting (quickly) the conditions of the Shiite political block of conducting elections based on the law of the year 2000, to Jumblatt's change of direction (against himself) and accepting HA's weapons and aligning himself with Saad Hariri and HA, to Aoun's withdrawal from the movement that had taken the name of the famous day, March 14 and his "opening fire" on all those in it and flirting with his newfound allies of the (non-Shiite)symbols of the elapsed Syrian era, arriving to the parliamentary elections taking place between the end of May and the end of June 2005, and the way it was controlled by sectarianism, and finally to renewing "the faith" in the speaker of the "Syrian-era parliament" who was elected speaker of the "Independence era" parliament... political confusion ensued and confusion in founding the new republic as well, and then this came to new heights with the formation of a new government "giving" (president) Lahoud a Christian cut to be added to the Shiite cut monpolized by HA and Amal.

If the sectarian system in its structure and philosophy can explain the high ability for blackmail by the two SHiite organizations being the "exclusive" representatives of one of the largest sects, thus giving legitmacy to the rule if they participate and removing it if they don't, then the logic of lack of trust and narrow sighted calculations and the obsessions of sectarian "weakness or prestige" and the loss of a political compass and the preparations for the postponed presidential battle, and accepting the advice of some arab and international regimes at the founding moment probably explain all the events resulting from them. A new government was founded with its PM and most of its ministers belonging to the new majority, but also involving the two Shiite poles of the minority and the representatives of the president! In other words, it rules based on a "disturbed" agreement with a minority (holding two of the three positions of the presidential troika), and an obscure compromise with those it is supposed to remove!

What is more is that the "lackluster performance" occurred at a time when the country was under a Syrian vengeful attack using a variety of different economic and political weapons, with several assassinations and assassination attempts occurring in its shadow, "dropping" in six months Samir Kassir, George Hawi, Jubran Tueni and his companions, injuring May Chidiac (as it injured Elias Murr, for different reasons, and killed and injured many innocent citizens and foreign workers).

These terrorist assassinations and HA's defense of their perpetrators lead to blowing things up between them and Hariri and Jumblatt and exacerbating matters with all the parties of the parliamentary majority, leading to a governmental crisis, where the SHiite ministers abstained from attending in objection to expanding the international Hariri investigation to inclide the rest of the ensuing assassinations, before returning (even with the continuations of the disagreement) after Hariri resumed holding talks with them, and SIniora declared in parliament that the "resistance" in the south was a national one.

Then came the Aounists' striking of a deal with HA in February 2006 to change much in the political arena in Lebanon. THeir alliance (combining the selfproclaimed father of resolution 1559 and the American bill(?) against Syria with those who accuse - from their position in the Syrian-Iranian axis both- the resolution and the bill of Zionism and serving Israeli interests!) formed a spearhead in the confrontation with the governemnt (eventhough one of them was participating in it) and a shield to protect its "opponent" Lahoud. THis allowed them to form a new sectarian alignment (albeit temporary) in Lebanon to loosen the siege against HA, and tickling AOun's presidential delusions, and balancing the scene that emerged between Feb 14 and March 14 2005. More importantly, it relieved the Syrian regime from the strains of the Lebanese "inside" and transformed itself into a support system for it and its policies, guaranteeing responses to the parliamentary majority in its attack by a "National" alliance combining Muslims and Christians with popular legitemacy.

Except, this alliance, in addition to its political oddities, was founded principally on mutually shared illusions between those who want to regain a position they believe that the christians had lost and who sees that revenge against "personal" damage is by making it public (?), and between those who aspire to remain in a political and military society outside the state but connecting with other sects for Lebanese societal necessety.

In March 2006, what was called the National Dialogue started with the poles of the sects, MPs and heads of parliamentary blocks, continuing to go nowhere on the issues of the presidency, HA's weapons and the defence strategy as well as its procurement of the decisions for war and peace and the relationship with Syria. The "dialogers" failed to arrive at clear agreements and to translate what agreements they did arrive at into policy and implementable decisions.

On all this course, from the day of the uprising to the day of the defunct dialogue, Lebanon missed ,once again, a golden opportunity to build the project of the state due to Sectarian calculations and connections to regional axes and international politics. At this time, the region was witnessing dangerous escalation in sectarian conflict in occupied Iraq and Israeli terrorism in Palestinian land, and in international concern about the Iranian nuclear file. So the Lebanese situation became open to many possibilities most of them coming from its surroundings and founded in its institutional weakness and its sectarian tension, making it easy to affect its political environment.


Bad Vilbel said...

I have to say, after reading Ziad Majed's excellent article, I am left with a sense of despair that Lebanon will EVER be a true nation.

We probably deserve what we're getting, and probably deserve to become part of "Greater Syria", because we have yet to show that we behave as a single entity, as Lebanese.

R said...

haha, i dont think anyone deserves to be part of "greater syria", in fact, they would be lucky to get a less shitty syria right now. But ur right about acting as Lebanese, we gotta learn how to do it...

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