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Corrupt elites will not eternally remain in power in Lebanon

Lebanese, Lebanon, Future Movement, Hezbollah, Lebanese Forces, Free Patriotic Movement, Prime Minister Hassan Diab

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Corrupt elites will not eternally remain in power in Lebanon

Lebanese people now need to get united. They must feel the necessity of getting united against corruption and religious extremism. Lebanon does have infinite potentials of emerging as one of the brightest economies in the region, only if, people can outrightly reject corruption-plagued leaders, militancy and extremism forthwith.

It is said, if we do not believe in change, we will never witness it. But, when Lebanon is the case, one of the main obstacles to the revolutionary transformation required for the country to survive as a state is the cynicism that perceives real change to be impossible – and nothing can be done about Hezbollah’s traitorous and dangerous agenda. Under such realities, it was a symbolic blow against the prevailing cynicism when Beirut’s Engineers Syndicate elected its general assembly. Despite supposed rivals such as the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), the Future Movement, Hezbollah and the Lebanese Forces collaborating in a ploy to retain control, they were swept aside, as nearly 80 percent of votes went to “Syndicate Revolts” candidates affiliated with the uprising. If the votes of 60,000 engineers from across Lebanon’s social spectrum can be replicated in national elections, the mind boggles at the implications.

According to political analysts and expert on Lebanon affairs, such rage and despair of the ordinary Lebanese people was certainly a matter of grand surprise to many. In Lebanon, all conventional factions have suffered crippling blows to popularity and credibility, and President Aoun, Gebran Bassil and others have found that the depths of public enmity and loathing they command are practically limitless. Even Hezbollah and Amal, whose grassroots support was always taken for granted, have encountered unprecedented disenchantment.

In an unprecedented sign of how far the political class has fallen, investigating judge Tariq Bitar announced legal proceedings just last week, against a range of politicians, including acting Prime Minister Hassan Diab, over 2020 Beirut port explosion. With these developments, established factions in Lebanon are now keen to see elections delayed indefinitely, or at least for as long as possible, despite intense popular demands that the elections should be held immediately. Lebanese populace is seeing the election as the only route out of the existing crisis. But, most of the experts fear, there will be efforts to delay the vote beyond the constitutional mandated date of May next year.

Baria Alamuddin is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the Middle East and the UK and editor of the Media Services Syndicate said: “Such logic is further proof of how dissociated from reality these mafia factions have become. Far from the protest movement running out of steam, as citizens become hungrier and poorer they will grow even further alienated from those who have hauled this nation into this entirely self-inflicted cataclysm. Tehran will see Lebanon shattered in the dust before it allows its proxies and puppets to relinquish their grip on power, yet all these efforts to preserve Hezbollah’s dominance have achieved is uniting the entire nation against it.

“Every day sets new precedents in the disintegration of survivable normality. A few weeks ago we were grieved by fights breaking out at petrol stations; today we are seeing petrol stations destroyed or looted in their entirety. The endless queues for empty fuel tanks and grocery shelves are reminiscent of the final grim days of the Soviet Union. Unemployment is estimated at over 40 percent, and 77 percent of families can’t afford to adequately feed themselves — over 30 percent of children go to bed hungry. Incomes plunge as prices soar.

“Despite the unforgiving heat of the Lebanese summer, the Rafik Hariri University Hospital no longer has the resources to operate its air conditioning; hospitals are receiving only about 2 to 3 hours of electricity from the grid. There is no fuel for generators, in part because so much subsidized fuel is smuggled to Syria. Priority life-and-death institutions are a step away from grinding to a complete halt. Critical electronic systems at airport customs, the Ministry of Justice and public security centers have failed in recent days, because of electricity and supply shortages”.

Lebanon truly has turn into a dysfunctional country. Living in Lebanon today means being able to afford to pay someone else to take your car to sit all day in a miles-long queue for a few liters of fuel, or flying to Jordan to stock up on baby milk and medicines, or holding down three jobs simultaneously in order to maintain a bearable standard of living.

As people are becoming poorer with exorbitant rise in the price of essentials, Lebanese society has become desperate. A large segment of even school-going girls are seen secretly looking for wealthy customers, especially foreigners, who would pay them just US$ 50-100 for sexual pleasure. Women from the conservative families even are stepping into part-time prostitution. While on the streets, supporters of Hezbollah chant Islamist slogans the society already has already started seeing such acts as madness of Iran’s lapdogs.

Lebanon has witnessed chronic mismanagement and systematic theft and loot of public wealth the country has gone totally reliant on imports, resulting in this tiny country having the world’s biggest trade deficit. Meanwhile, with the depletion of foreign currency reserves, Lebanon may soon become unable to pay for imports. If the expatriate Lebanese would not generously support the country with foreign currency remittance, the nation would have long been pushed into starvation. But such generosity of the Lebanese diaspora is actually not contributing in helping the country from overcoming the ongoing financial and social crisis. They must also work together to exert their influence on Lebanon’s political system, while incessantly reminding the world of Lebanon’s plight.

Lebanese people now need to get united. They must feel the necessity of getting united against corruption and religious extremism. Lebanon does have infinite potentials of emerging as one of the brightest economies in the region, only if, people can outrightly reject corruption-plagued leaders, militancy and extremism forthwith. At the same time, Lebanese leaders, including Hezbollah should now realize, it is time for them to hold the election right on schedule in May 2022, without any further delay. But, instead of giving democracy to people, if those leaders continue torturing the long-suffering citizens, the ultimate result would be absolutely catastrophic for those leaders. In that case, it will be even a question, if they can flee Lebanon in one piece.

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An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow his on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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