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Monday, December 04, 2006

The faltering hopes for a Lebanese democracy

It's starting to dawn on me that Lebanon is not ready for modern democracy. While some of us aspire to the establishment of a true democratic system in which everybody is equally represented, at least a third of the Lebanese people not only have no faith in such a democracy, but are seeking their turn to dominate everybody else. Judging from several comments by Hizballah supporters in the blogosphere, which by the way are not solitary opinions but are rather widely shared within the shiite masses, the current events are viewed as:
1- A historic moment at which shiites will finally break sunni domination.
2- An opportunity to avenge the many years of marginalizing the shiite community in the Lebanese social and political arena.

The point to make here is that while the remaining two major communities, namely the maronites and sunnis, have had the opportunity to dominate, oppress and fail, the shiite community hasn't had its turn to oppress other communities or to be oppressed by other shiites.

Hizballah has a lot at stake here and the shia feel empowered by them. The alliance with Syria is not merely one of a master-slave relationship. Syria is a supply route, a regional power, and shares Hizballah's aspirations to perpetuate the state of war with Israel. So blocking the Hariri tribunal is a small cost they're willing to pay (assuming they had no hand in the murder) to maintain their relationship with the Syrian regime. To do so, Hizballah needed to mobilize the shiite masses against any agenda that conflicts with theirs and the approach they've chosen for this mobilization is one of sedition.

The question now is what are the other communities to do in the face of this new shiite coup? Blood has already been spilled with the death of the Amal supporter. It won't be long before we hear voices within the shiite camp crying against "an apartheid against the shiites" and the need for shia members to take up their hidden arms to protect and preserve the community.

One answer would have been to promote the culture of life instead of death (sounds a bit cliche now), but I think we're way beyond that point. The Shia are angry and they want revenge by blood and power, not only for the slain demonstrator, but for the thousand shia that were killed during the summer war (while the sunni controlled Arab states rightfully criticized the 'dignified and just' Hizballah for triggering the war), and for the last 60 years of being the underpriviledged community in Lebanon.

It's time for Hizballah to be discredited. Nasrallah has so far delivered on his promises. By foiling this coup, a memorable promise would be broken. Whether it's through international and mainly arab pressure on Iran, I'm still not clear about the means to end this standoff, but March 14 cannot give in. If this coup fails, I don't see the shia getting as excited about another one as they are about this one.
After all, broken promises are never forgotten.

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