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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Deal Reached in Doha: Great Step or a Step Backwards?

It seems to be true. Our feuding leaders have reached an agreement under Qatari and Arab supervision/arm bending/baby sitting.

The Good
Some (for example Michel Murr in his LBC interview) see this as a great victory for Lebanon and the Lebanese and a step towards prosperity, and they may have a point or two. The interviews with politicians from Doha seem nothing like the rhetoric of just a few days ago, and one may hope that the politicians are serious about keeping the discourse peaceful and civilized. As much as I would like to believe in this rosy picture, I tend not to.

The Bad
For one, nothing could hide the fact that this is just another piece of strong evidence that our consensual sectarian democracy is a disaster. In fact, even if (especially if?) we disregard the shameful coup, raids and counter raids that plagued the prelude to Doha, we have to realize that it took the Arab league, the Qatari Emir, all his relationships with regional and international powers, and no small amount of cajoling and hard diplomacy to forge a deal that can only be objectively viewed as a defeat to Democracy first and perhaps to March 14 - but only as a distant second.

That our country needs foreign mediators to resolve a national crisis is a testament to the failure of the current Lebanese political and social culture. That even then, no serious issues were solved in Doha, but only a power sharing agreement was reached is a testament to the lack of a will for progress and a consecration of the patronage mentality that has plagued us for centuries. That most of the terms of the agreement are easily in favor of the opposition is a testament to the usefulness of possessing arms and using them to forge a political agreement that is favorable. Hizbulla did it at the cost of a sectarian schism that may take years to heal. That our leadership manages to polarize our public on a sectarian basis by using violence is a testament to our ever-continuing lack of a national identity. That our army's cheerleading a coup is lauded as wise behaviour that preserved its unity is a testament to the malaise that plagues our social fabric.

The Ugly Truth
The truth is that regardless of winners, losers and political analysis of the deal, the bottom line is that between the inaction of the army prior to Doha, the subsequent capitulation of the goverment to Hizbulla's demands, and then the agreement in Doha on the election of Michel Sleiman, the adoption of the (modified) 1960 electoral law for one time only of course, the absence (as of yet) of a clear statement about the weapons of Hizbulla, and the forging of a power sharing agreement between Lebanese political factions outside of Lebanese political institutions, one thing remains truer than ever.

Our constitution, the Taif accord, our parliament, our government institutions, our police, and our army, are worth nothing. Indeed both our archaic societal structure and our political culture need to be reformulated on sound principles if we want to avoid repeating our shameful history - as we usually do - in the near future. But in the meantime, preytell, now that they are reinforced, what do we do about Hizbulla, their weapons, their ideology and their methods?


Marillionlb said...

And by tomorrow another army General will be in power, another reminder of Syrian hegemony will be entrusted with the fate of our country.
Tfeh! on M14, M8, and all politicians.
Allah yirham lebnan wa yirham trabo !

R said...

Exactly Marillionlb,

That is precisely what I was referring to when I said that the constitution is worth zilch. It will be amended to allow his election, for one time only as will the parliamentary election law that will be also in place for one time only. I wonder if for one time only, the Lebanese could wake up and do the right thing from within state institutions...