Op-ed

And now… the tears

Surprise would be an understatement: the sudden and widespread popular uprising in Lebanon is now entering its third month. It has clearly toppled the Lebanese political order, which has been securely barricaded behind its scandalous and disgraceful entitlements. Confident of its immunity and impunity, it did not even see the uprising coming.

After their initial shock and denial, the leaders are now totally disoriented, offering only empty political gestures and false promises of reform. They are hoping that the protesting crowds will eventually grow tired and that they will be able to reclaim their lost ground.[1] But isn’t the joke ultimately on them? Isn’t the insolent establishment being crippled by its own contradictions and criminal incompetence?

For now, if the popular uprising can claim one victory it is having exposed previously sacred political figures and cracking open their ivory towers they lived in, deaf to the complaints of the people. We have realized, with awe, that the towers were not as strong as they appeared. The unacceptable system, which has prevailed for decades in our country, will have to be disrupted and dismantled. This is necessary because, as soon as the cyclical conflict between the Lebanese settled down, we persisted in rebuilding everything on sand.

The Taif Agreement was complex and filled with semantic traps and loopholes. We continued to weigh it down further with additional impediments that blocked all institutions in the country. Indulging in the mixing of power sharing, all of our governments have turned into mini parliaments that are plagued by partisan power struggles and, more often than not, doomer to paralysis.

Under the pretext of following the 1943 pact that called for the inclusion of various components of the country, we have allocated the highest offices of state not to the most deserving or to unifying public figures, but to those who managed to become the bosses of their own communities. What a strange way to promote national unity by sending these quarrelsome roosters to reign over their share of territory…

This is the vicious scaffolding that we see wavering in the wake of the current ministerial crisis. Out-going Prime Minister and undisputed leader of the Lebanese Sunni community Saad Hariri does seem anywhere close to being re-elected.

Hariri has just unexpectedly been deprived of a large number of Christian votes due to the defection of the Lebanese Forces. Samir Geagea was poorly rewarded for supporting President Michel Aoun’s election. Now, the leader of the Future Movement, who thought he had secured a six year term in the Serail (Prime Minister’s office), is losing the same bet.

Most astonishing of all, the Head of State will not emerge unscathed from this fool’s deal. His term is in full crisis mode after being disowned by people on the street at the beginning of the second half of his mandate. Aoun’s office no longer looks like the strong presidency that he once advocated for.

Even more worrying than the breakdown of the institutions is the blatant dysfunction of the organisms responsible for ensuring public safety. In Beirut, as well as in their strongholds in the South and the Beqaa, the popular uprising has forced militias, disguised as both political parties and movements, to show their true natures and foundations, which rest on the use of violence.

There have been countless attacks on demonstrators, and the police have often only intervened after the fact, after the blows have already been delivered. Incomprehensibly, certain state back rooms have established themselves as militias or praetorian guards exclusively devoted to one person. This is undeniably the case of the unit responsible for the protection of the areas surrounding Parliament. It is exclusively made up of the ardent supporters of the President of the Assembly who have shown a type of brutality that was outraging to all, including to the UN representatives.

We knew only too well about the “State within the State”. As one cannot stop progress, now we are meeting the “police within the police”. The revolution has already known its baptism of blood. There was no need for the deluge of tear gas canisters, illuminating the Beirut night sky, to make us shed a tear over the sad, pathetic state of the Republic.

(This article was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour on the 18th of December)


Issa GORAIEB
[email protected]


Surprise would be an understatement: the sudden and widespread popular uprising in Lebanon is now entering its third month. It has clearly toppled the Lebanese political order, which has been securely barricaded behind its scandalous and disgraceful entitlements. Confident of its immunity and impunity, it did not even see the uprising coming.

After their initial shock and denial, the leaders...

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