Lebanon’s very own ‘Nakba’ catastrophe

The Lebanese don’t like to be outdone, not in good times nor in catastrophes

Octavia Nasr
Octavia Nasr
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The Lebanese don’t like to be outdone, not in good times nor in catastrophes. No matter how hard they try, they always fall back on the same trouble, same strife, same calamity, same divisions, same politics and same leaders.

We’ve observed this Phoenix rise from the ashes so many times, only for them to fall right back and get in deeper trouble.

The problem with all religious sects that make up this tiny nation is that each one of them has its trauma and its challenges. No two are the same and no solution can be good for the whole. Alliances shift based on individual interests not the country.

Lebanon became an ugly mosaic of irreconcilable differences

Octavia Nasr

The Lebanese tried to work out their differences through tribal means to no avail. The Christian favoritism left behind by the French mandate did not last either. Factions went to war and killed each other. Fifteen years and more than a hundred thousand deaths, and flight of a million from a country in ruins later, they found out civil war was not leading anywhere. They tried the Syrian occupation. It was not pleasant for all. Those who dared oppose the Syrian tyranny were shut down through assassinations, imprisonment and threats. In the meantime, some rose to power and hijacked the role of “resistance” and pretended its exclusive to them. This worked only by force and intimidation. Others took the financial route; they rebuilt downtown Beirut and made it a premier tourist destination but the original property owners cried foul, saying they were robbed. Ordinary citizens felt that public spaces were stolen from them. Historic invaluable ruins were destroyed to erect high-rises. Public beaches were turned into fancy hotels and commercial facilities. Greed settled in many corners of the country.

Successive governments were negotiated and installed to serve political masters; same with parliament and the presidency. Everything had to be agreed on to the satisfaction of the loudest or most powerful. A few times in modern history people had the power, most of the time it was the one with the weapons. Namely, Syria and Hezbollah. The military remained the observer to avoid a repeat of the civil war.

Lebanon became an ugly mosaic of irreconcilable differences with each side trying to impose its rule on the others.

Ahead of a possible presidential vacuum or a temporary numbing of the crisis, I wish for a moment of truth to help Lebanon heal of the hatred its people cannot seem to shed and instill the love of country in their hearts. A heap of wisdom to see how Palestinians are fighting for a home almost seventy years after their their “Nakba,” while the Maronites lead the pack of shame assisted by other sects to inflict a calamity on the Lebanese people knowingly and willingly.

This article was first published in al-Nahar on May 20, 2014.


Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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