Will the rubbish demonstrators bring the Lebanese state down?
The anti-government demonstrations that erupted in Beirut in recent days are valid, especially if they are against the failure of an able government
The anti-government demonstrations that erupted in Beirut in recent days are valid, especially if they are against the failure of an able government to provide basic services for its citizens, and its citizens only.
Yet if the angry and semi-violent demonstrators are setting the goal of doing away with the crippled government, then they are consciously or unconsciously doing away with the only institution left working within the Lebanese political divide, and thus threatening existence of the state.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Lebanon has been living in a void for a while now with the lack of an elected president for more than a year.
The youth demonstrating outside the government building might be enjoying their first hit at the state, yet they might live to regret itMohamed Chebarro
For over a year now Members of Parliament, some of whom are loyal to Hezbollah and President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, refuse to participate in a parliament session to elect a president unless they are guaranteed that all MPs will vote for General Michel Aoun of the Reform and Change Movement as the new head of state.
The eroded state of Lebanon
The parliament, led by speaker Nabih Berri, has decided that it will only hold a session if two thirds of its members convene. By default and not by design the Unity Government of Tammam Salam is the only guardian of what is left of the eroded state of Lebanon.
Doing away with the Salam government is not impossible for many reasons, but what is the alternative?
This government has so far failed to ban the Lebanese Hezbollah from interfering in the Syrian conflict and sending thousands of fighters to prop up the Assad government. So, Lebanon has been breaking its neutrality vis a vis the Syrian conflict. This government and other similar governments have so far failed to govern and failed to provide power for the Lebanese in the summer heat and is failing to agree on a new rubbish dump amongst other issues. Unfortunately, though, this remains the only legitimate institution working in a dysfunctional Lebanon, in a boiling Middle East region from Baghdad to Damascus and from Sanaa to Tripoli.
All parties that represented the traditional Lebanese divide have ministers in the government of PM Salam yet they continue to bicker about government priorities.
Hitting the state
The youth demonstrating outside the government building might be enjoying their first hit at the state, yet they might live to regret it.
In their innocent drive participating in a demonstration to remove garbage and politicians seen as corrupt, the government might actually fall, and though they are known as a force to reckoned with in Lebanon in this action they provide groups such as Hezbollah and other satellite militias and thugs a golden opportunity to call for a constitutional conference to rebuild the Lebanese system.
The call for a new deal for Lebanon has been Hezbollah’s constant desire, and General Aoun is walking into this.
The government is the last bastion to prevent a total rethinking of the Lebanese system, as Hezbollah protagonists have long called for a re-distribution of power in Lebanon.
The Taif agreement redesigned the system and the allocation of power between Christians and Muslims.
Hezbollah and its Iranian patron are not shy in calling for a total redistribution of power in Lebanon, a third for Shiites, a third for Sunnis and a third for Christians.
This is a formula that needs to be rejected if Lebanon is to remain viable in the future of a Middle East proud of coexistence!
It seems that all Lebanese can agree that the current government is under performing due to traditional divisions rendering any political decision void.
Mohamed Chebarro is currently an Al Arabiya TV News program Editor. He is also an award winning journalist, roving war reporter and commentator. He covered most regional conflicts in the 90s for MBC news and later headed Al Arabiya’s bureau in Beirut and London.