Finally, Gebran Bassil had a revelation and discovered that the problem was neither the people, the political classes, nor the weapons. It is in the system structure, partnerships, and the rights of Christians. Enough is enough and things reached their limit. Therefore, let’s have a “dialogue conference!”
Bassil is not the only one who was fed up with the Taif Accord and felt that it was necessary to continue the implementation of its articles although he, like his uncle President Michel Aoun, never believed in it. Speaker Nabih Berri was one of the first people to advocate reforms. However, he advocated reforms that would best suit him to extend the share of his sect based on its size, power and regional role. As for Berri’s legal approach, it is a call for an election law that transforms Lebanon into one constituency, based on his assumption that his “secular” followers can share with all Lebanese the unique “Ring Bridge” experience with its diversity and respect for privacy and peaceful behavior.
Under the commendable “decentralization” that is mentioned in the text of the Taif Accord, Bassil tries to market a “division of thirds” that is dear to the heart of his ally, Hezbollah. In short, his idea is that an agreement between the leaders of the so-called “components” is sufficient to establish lasting civil peace and demarcate borders between different sects, with their relations being governed by understandings such as the “Mar Mikhael” agreement and non-aggression treaties.
Bassil and people in power who call for reforming the system are turning a blind eye to the real problem, which is not the Taif system or its mechanisms, even though they do require enhancement. The problem is violating the Constitution and the state of law, and the alliance made in hell that allowed warlords to seize control of the country’s resources and steal from the Lebanese people in exchange for making the country an arena in the regional conflict.
These divisions give the citizenship of the individual the least priority and transform citizens into incubating environments and groups of alert and anxious people forced into alliances against their fellow citizens. This is in addition to the fact that our country is small and intertwined and needs a strong central authority that guarantees intelligent administrative decentralization.
If the above ideas are simple ones, here are some even simpler questions: Is the political system preventing Gebran Bassil and the president of the republic from pressuring their allies to stop smuggling and to close 10 crossings that waste whatever money is left in the Lebanese people’s deposits? Did the lack of decentralization lead to the explosion of the Port of Beirut that destroyed the capital? Did it hinder the explosion’s investigation? Could each group or component have dealt with the Coronavirus pandemic had we been living in the bliss of decentralization and the civilian state that Bassil is calling for? What about electricity and all the public money squandering? What about the corruption in Military College exams and the Internal Security Forces? Is all of it caused by this system, or will it disappear if every sect resorts to some “self-security?”
The “Dialogue Conference” is the great escape from the crisis of a ruling system whose failure has been proven and it was caught red-handed with the crime of impoverishing the Lebanese and causing their deaths with nitrates on the doors of hospitals and suffocation due to a shortage of breathing machines. This ruling class has nothing left but to fight over ministerial quotas, trigger constitutional crises and renew its role by distracting people through changing the election law instead of holding an election immediately, or with a conference to amend the political system that would take the country into the unknown. The majority of the Lebanese realize that the State of “Greater Lebanon” is a historic achievement, and that the “Taif Agreement” had a great cost and is capable of ensuring coexistence. The majority of the Lebanese are looking forward to the day when they no longer see any of the faces of their rulers.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, Lebanese news outlet Nidaa al-Watan.