Is it time for national dialogue in Lebanon?
Perhaps such a dialogue can help us overcome our crises which are likely to escalate
Amid the absence of a Lebanese president to run the state and citizens’ affairs and amid the intended obstruction of the government’s work, the need for national dialogue – launched by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri - has surfaced. The circumstances in 2006 were similar to our current reality. Emile Lahoud, the president at the time, was cut off from the people and governmental and parliamentary crises were as dangerous as today’s. The national dialogue initiative was thus proposed and it’s actually still an urgent need among the different prominent leaders as perhaps it will help them reach an agreement. No one should fear that someone will hijack Berri’s role as he was the first to propose this initiative and he has the right to propose it again, and he knows well how to manage the game.
The need to expand the circle of dialogue so it includes everyone – even categories and groups which the previous national dialogue sessions did not include - has surfacedNayla Tueni
It’s true that most political leaders are affiliated with foreign parties and serve others’ interests, however, dialogue has proven that it is useful and that achieving the minimum required consensus can save the domestic situation from exploding. The recent dialogue between the Future Movement and Hezbollah did not contribute to electing a president or to pushing the government’s work forward but it decreased tension and prevented Sunni-Shiite clashes. The same can be said in regards to the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces as the dialogue between the two rival parties defused tension and paved way to agreements among the two parties’ youths in schools and universities.
Therefore, the need to expand the circle of dialogue so it includes everyone – even categories and groups whom the previous national dialogue sessions did not include - has surfaced. Perhaps such a dialogue can help us overcome our crises which are likely to escalate and thus protect Lebanon from the region’s explosive crises.
This article was first published in al-Nahar on July 2, 2015.
Nayla Tueni is one of the few elected female politicians in Lebanon and of the two youngest. She became a member of parliament in 2009 and following the assassination of her father, Gebran, she is currently a member of the board and Deputy General Manager of Lebanon’s leading daily, Annahar. Prior to her political career, Nayla had trained, written in and managed various sections of Annahar, where she currently has a regular column. She can be followed on Twitter @NaylaTueni