In a way similar to that of the Mafia and gangs in some Latin American countries, remote areas in Africa, and the jungles of the Philippines, teenager Mohamed Nibal Awada was released in Beirut after his father, the well-to-do businessman, paid a ransom to the unknown, though actually known, kidnappers and which amounted, as the story goes, to more than 130,000 U.S. dollars in cash. It is noteworthy that Mohamed’s father, possibly out of courtesy or in an attempt to avoid potential ramifications, had to thank the parliament speaker, the prime minister, and security for “helping him to get his son back”!
What Nibal Awada did not say out loud is now being said all over Lebanon, both publicly and discreetly. The weakness of the state, the rise of security islands, the spread of illegitimate weaponry and organized crime, and lack of security all lead to losing confidence in the ability of the government, confused and helpless as it is, and the security institutions affiliated to it to protect the Lebanese people and to apply the law and take the outlaws to task. This also drives the rich who are being blackmailed and who fear for their lives, work, and families to resort to “self-security” as a momentary precaution until they finally decide to stop investing in Lebanon and to sell their property there and leave for good in search of a more secure and stable place.
No aims to return
In the same vein, we can understand why Lebanese expatriates, especially the well-to-do among them, are not planning to go back to the homeland any time soon even for a short vacation. Similarly, we know why tourists and Arab and foreign investors stay away from Lebanon.
Those who do not get enough from the bleak situation on the domestic level and try to forget about daily pressing issues, eternal challenges, accumulating debts, human tragedies, and growing material losses, will be shocked with the improvised statements of “political veterans” in Lebanon and which pose a threat to Lebanese expatriates in several Arab countries. It seems as if those “politics peddlers” are indifferent to the fact that the country is on the verge of collapsing and is about to go bankrupt. It is not enough for them that many Lebanese citizens are forced to migrate, but also want to have them evacuated from the countries in which they sought refuge even if at the expense of remittances that constitute a “parallel economy” and provides an outlet for the country and its people and finances.
Is it not time to make the rich desperate and deport expatriates after the poor and the residents lost hope in the country? How can the nation rise and the economy prosper while they are both entrusted to the current rulers?
Mazen Hayek is a MarComms & Media practitioner in MENA; weekly op-ed columnist in "An-Nahar" Lebanon, he can be followed on Twitter: @HayekMG