Lebanon… what a load of rubbish!
The garbage problem won’t be resolved unless the political elite decides that this issue is a matter of basic rights for their people
Lebanon is sinking in a big load of rubbish; and not just in the physical sense. After all, the one thing that has emerged from the uncollected piles of garbage bags – apart from the nasty smell – is that the country’s ongoing institutional failure has now put everyone in a catch-22 situation, whereby there is no clear winner but a definite loser: the average Lebanese citizen.
Just imagine being this average citizen for a moment: a victim of decades of corruption and self-serving politicians, a disgustingly sectarian climate, a devastating civil war, the spread of extremist ideology and the de facto rule of a militia like Hezbollah which has been holding the whole country hostage to its pro-Iranian agenda.
The garbage problem won’t be resolved unless the political elite decides that this issue is a matter of basic rights for their people, not a mere lucrative contract which is up for grabsFaisal J. Abbas
Now if that wasn’t bad enough, the average citizen also has to deal with the consequences of such a decaying reality. For instance, the entire infrastructure – rebuilt mainly by the slain Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri – is now deteriorating and many issues which were somewhat resolved during his era are now worse than ever.
Indeed, one wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of average Lebanese citizens; particularly if they can’t afford to buy their own electricity generator.
And if you ever wondered what a ‘catch-22’ feels like, you only have to imagine trying to escape the heat while living in the coastal, highly-congested, capital city of Beirut in this exceptionally hot summer. Imagine not only being unable to turn on your air-conditioning due to the lack of electricity, but also unable to open your windows due to the nasty smells emerging from the rubbish piling up on the streets opposite your home.
Understandably frustrated, many Lebanese took to the streets and protested against the current government’s inability to resolve the situation, demanding its resignation (what was ironic is that many of these people were motivated by a number of corrupt politicians who caused the problem but then blamed the government for it.)
However, to be fair, PM Tammam Salam (who is among the few good and honest politicians in Lebanon) is in a catch-22 situation himself, as the position he still occupies resembles the last-remaining shred of authority that Lebanon, as a state, pretends to have.
Indeed, the country has been without an elected president for over a year now, its parliament continues to be a failure and as mentioned earlier, most key state functions (such as intelligence, defense and foreign policy) are either fully-controlled or heavily-influenced by Hezbollah and its allies.
The issue here is that even if PM Salam resigns, this will not necessarily solve the garbage problem, for that won’t be resolved unless the political elite decides that this issue is a matter of basic rights for their people, not a mere lucrative contract which is up for grabs.
The only good thing to emerge of out this recent crisis is that - or at least one hopes that - the Lebanese have finally realized that it is time to take out the garbage; and by garbage, I mean the stinking sectarian politics which has destroyed the nation and the self-serving politicians who not only oversaw, but profited from, the collapse.
Faisal J. Abbas is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya English, he is a renowned blogger and an award-winning journalist. Faisal covered the Middle East extensively working for Future Television of Lebanon and both Al-Hayat and Asharq Al-Awsat pan-Arab dailies. He blogs for The Huffington Post since 2008, and is a recipient of many media awards and a member of the British Society of Authors, National Union of Journalists, the John Adams Society as well as an associate member of the Cambridge Union Society. He can be reached on @FaisalJAbbas on Twitter.
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