An old Christian Lebanese political group, the Lady of the Mountain Gathering, wanted to hold a meeting in the Bristol Hotel or Rotana Hotel in Beirut to discuss the Lebanese political situation in light of the severe crisis stemming from the difficulty in the formation of a new government following the elections.
They also wanted to discuss the poor economic conditions of the country and the prevailing corruption and various conflicts within the state administration. However, the management of both hotels refused to give permission for convening of the meeting.
It is said that the hotels refused because the title for the meeting, given by the gathering coordinator Dr. Fares Souaid, made Hezbollah angry. The title read: “The national battle for lifting Iranian guardianship of the national decision, defend the constitution and maintain coexistence.”
When it was announced that the hotels rejected holding the meeting because of Hezbollah’s interference, several parties came out in support of the Lady of the Mountain Gathering, and they held a meeting in solidarity with it at the Kataeb Party headquarters. The meeting was attended by the Kataeb and National Liberal party leaders, along with Lebanese political figures, civil organizations and a large crowd.
The unrest among Lebanese political, economic and social elites has been trying to manifest itself in various ways since the election of General Aoun as the president two and-a-half years ago. It should be noted that the president was imposed by Hezbollah after almost three years of presidential vacuum when the war in Syria was raging and while terrorism ran amok in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and other places.
In light of the “settlement” which everyone talked about, a law was enacted for the elections which were thus held in a way that made Hezbollah and the new president dominate in parliament. Due to the commitment of the old, and one who is also the new, prime minister to the “settlement” regulations, he became the weakest political partner among the alliance between the president and Hezbollah – an alliance which brought the politicians and the parliament under its sway and that is almost in full control of all state institutions and administrations.
The core of the crisis in Lebanon is the power grab that creates paralysis. This issue was discussed in the solidarity meeting as Kataeb Party Leader and Member of Parliament Sami Gemayel said that this “philosophy” of takeover is led and reflected by the president and it conveys that the Lebanese people cannot resist the takeover of this armed group, hence they must submit to its terms, wait until the Middle East crisis ends and look for solutions in other “directions”Radwan al-Sayed
The core of the crisis in Lebanon is the power grab that creates paralysis. This issue was discussed in the solidarity meeting as Kataeb Party Leader and Member of Parliament Sami Gemayel said that this “philosophy” of takeover is led and reflected by the president and it conveys that the Lebanese people cannot resist the takeover of this armed group, hence they must submit to its terms, wait until the Middle East crisis ends and look for solutions in other “directions”. However, these directions have so far been limited to going far in controlling state institutions, violating the Taif Agreement and the constitution and creating more sectarian and political divisions.
Worse than ever
The Lady of the Mountain Gathering is thus trying to open a window in the wall of this incapacitating crisis so it went ahead to address the real reasons for the crisis, instead of addressing false pretexts, like many have been doing.
Due to Hezbollah’s control over the political and military authority in Lebanon, the country has become isolated from Arab countries and the world especially that Hezbollah does not only spread sectarianism and make threats internally, but also violates international resolutions that protect Lebanon. Iranians brazenly declare that they have taken control of four Arab capitals, including Beirut. Hezbollah boasts of its missiles directed towards Israel while the latter responds by specifying these missiles’ locations around the Beirut airport. Lebanon’s Foreign Minister, the president’s son-in-law, goes around with diplomats around the airport, under media coverage to show that Israeli claims are lies even though they are not denied by Hezbollah!
In Lebanon, there are no significant industrial sectors. The banking sector, however, is the major one and most of its revenues are generated from Lebanese remittances coming from abroad. So how would tourists and the Lebanese people come to Lebanon amid controversy over security issues at the airport and the country? Why would foreigners invest in Lebanon and why would Lebanese people even transfer their money to their country’s banks as long as the security and political conditions are as such and as long as crises and the prospects of war besiege the country?!
The situation has never been so bad, nor have people been as pessimistic as they are now. It is as if we are on the eve of occupying Beirut in 2008. The difference is that those who opposed the possession of illegal weapons were more optimistic and active back then, while today there is a state of clear paralysis and greater division.
There is no way out of the crisis in Lebanon except by ending the takeover of missiles and armed militias. The only way to do this is to work toward restoring the state’s sovereignty and institutions and freedom of thought and expression.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Radwan al Sayed is a Lebanese thinker and writer who attained a bachelor degree from the Faculty of Theology at al-Azhar University and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tübingen in Germany. He has been a scholar of Islamic studies for decades and is the former editor-in-chief of the quarterly al-Ijtihad magazine. Radwan is also the author of many books and has written for Arab dailies such as al-Ittihad, al-Hayat and Asharq al-Awsat.