Sadly, not the delicious kind.
While the Arab world is shaken by an uprising against dictatorships and economic inequalities, Lebanon is shaken by a -now -common- internal political turmoil.
The crisis had been brewing up ever since the creation of the International Tribunal for Lebanon, an institution whose legitimacy has been (rightly so) severely questionned, not only by Hezbollah or 8th of March, but also by international lawyers, the mandate of the Tribunal not being covered by the UN Charter (for a developed analysis on this subject, please see here
8th March ministers has already denounced the Tribunal when the at the time Siniora-led government had signed the agreement with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in november 2006, leading to a resigning from the government of Hezbollah and other opposition ministers.
Since the start of its activity, the Tribunal has pointed out Syria as the main responsible for Hariri’s assasination, before recently seeming to be having a change of heart, after many judges resiging, not to mention the change of prosecutors. The German daily Der Spiegel had “revealed” back in August 2010 that the Investigation Commission of the Tribunal was following the Hezbollah lead, a revelation that caused quite an upheaval in Lebanon, with Nasrallah qualifying the article as “very, very, very dangerous” and answering by a public allocution stating, with proofs, that Israel was behind the assassination of the former primer minister. On the 17th of January 2011 f the STL deposited its Accusation ACt at the Hague without revealing its content, but with persisting rumours about Hezbollah being the main actor to be prosecuted, something that was repeatedely denounced by the party, with Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah making several public speeches accusing Israel to be behind Hariri’s assasination.
On the 12th of January, in order to protest against the ongoing collaboration between the Lebanese government lead by Saad Hariri and the STL, Hezbollah,tayyar and other independent ministers resigned from the government, dissolving it de facto. This reaction stemmend from the pressure of the USA on HAriri to radicalise its position with regards to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
It is interesting to observe that Saad Hariri has strenghtened its ties with Syria, publicly recognising that he had made “a mistake” when he accused Syria to have murdered his father, while he kept denouncing Hezbollah and being adamant he would not stop the collaboration with the STL. If we remember correctly, Hezbollah is Syria’s ally, so how come if Mr Hariri is so sure Hezbollah killed his father is he on excellent terms with the allies of his dad’s assasins? Besides, it is also pertinent to look at who profits from an unstable divided Lebanon, as well as from a weakened Hezbollah: it seems that Israel has everything to win in the demise of its yellow enemy and in the volatile situation within in neighbour from the North. For the record, Israel still occupies parts of the Lebanese territory and has violated over 2000 times the Lebanese air space, with no or very little reaction from the International Community or the UNIFIL troops posted in Southern Lebanon, troops whose purpose seems to baffle a good part of the Lebanese population. We do not dare to imagine the upheaval if the Lebanese Army were to fly over Israel, but let us not dwell on this.
Burning tyres and demonstrations in favour of Saad Hariri followed the collapse of the government, with partisans bellowing they would not accept anyone else but Hariri, while the 8th March block clearly stated they would not serve on a Hariri led government. No matter what the political stance, the 8th March ministers followed a procedure that is allowed within the government’s rules, and have done nothing but exerce their political and democratic rights. With Saudi Arabia withdrawing from the mediation table, Saad Hariri found himself in a weakened position in front of a Syria/Iran backed 8th of March, therefore being forced to step down as Prime Minister.
Najib Mikati, business tycoon hovering unto the 8th March side and a close acquaintance of President Michel Sleimane was finally nominated, with the charge of creating a new government.
After Mikati was nominated the 14th March clan went all scandalous and outraged, stating they would never participate in his government, with Sami Gemayel proudly and somewhat pompously stating “The Kataeb Party will never forsake its principles” after Aoun had invited the opposing party to join, only for his father, Amine Gemayel, to say that Mikati deserved to be given a chance and could his party have several ministerial portfolios please?
All in all, the political game boils down to elites fighting each other for the control of power, and for all their talk about the “Lebanese People”, not one of them actually cares.
Truth is, there will be no real change with Mikati, which might explain the apathy of a Lebanese population who keeps struggling economically: Mikati, just like Hariri, is a business tycoon, therefore his policies will stay the same as his predecessors and the STL is still there, still being paid up to 51% by Lebanon, which doesn’t seem troubled at all that this money could go into health or education. Meanwhile the people are still buying everything at credit, surviving on the money sent by the diaspora all over the world. Behind the lack of social awakening in the Lebanese society lies the issue of confessionalism with which politicians and international powers know how to play to keep their constituencies faithful to them, for what will they become if the people realise that no matter their religion, Sunni, Shia and Christians share the same economic and social concerns? Nah, better keep reminding them their confessions, better telling them they’re threatened by the Others, and let us stuff our faces with money, power and corruption.
Egypt and Tunisia had to get rid of one dictators each: we have 17 to face, and yet our main concern seems to be Elissa’s new collagen lip injection. The Lebanese people, like all peoples, have what it takes to bring about real change : let our voices be heard, start by voting not based on confessional allegiances, but on real programmes and achievments. That might be a start.