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A forbidden Lebanese revolution 

December 6, 2019 at 2:49 pm

A protest against increasingly difficult living conditions in Beirut, Lebanon on 29 September 2019 [Hussam Chbaro/Anadolu Agency]

A financial, economic and currency collapse in Lebanon could be a heavy recipe for a crisis, easily escalating to a public rebellion that could either lead to a revolution of change or a surrender to crisis postponement settlements; leaving the country at risks of harsh economic and political concessions, uncovering another surrender to what is left of a state sovereignty.

Nevertheless, Lebanon’s 17 October protests seem to have paved a path to a rebellion before such a crisis occurred. However, maybe Lebanon is still heading towards such a crisis, as a result of the political conducts of sharp divisions and disputes.

Mass fires which devastated large areas of Lebanon had already caused uproar in the country, with locals accusing the government of not being prepared for such occurrences and being forced to resort to help from foreign forces.

Just two days later, instead of issuing a statement about its plans to improve services to ensure fire services and the army are able to deal with such incidents, the government jumped instead to declare a new set of taxes, including those on applications  that use voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to make calls, including WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, Facebook and FaceTime. This triggered a fireball of anger which spread into wide national protests;  a provoking tax similar to one on the argileh (hookah/shisha) earlier in May 2019. Both are seen locally as an escape mechanism for an increasing unemployed public already upset by corruption in the government in the midst of economic recession.

The Lebanese were left humiliated as a result of the government’s increasing irresponsible policies which only protected the benefits of the political leaderships and their corporate allies, at the cost of public or state national security interests.

READ: Lebanon’s October Revolution, resistance and the (re-)production of popular culture

The government has been adopting financial borrowing strategies, accumulating overwhelming national debts contributing to a further dependent economy, utilising Lebanese socioeconomic stability and state national sovereignty and keeping the country hostage to foreign manipulations.

While always blocking or delaying urgent public services and social demands. Dominated by a political-corporate cartel that would – knowingly or unknowingly – lead the state to emanant collapse and violence.

Nevertheless, maybe the birth of the early peaceful rebellion of 17 October could be preserving the seeds to an immanent revolution. One that has long awaited electoral reforms which would enable Lebanon to produce a parliament which is inclusive of a majority of Lebanese, representing the rebellion movement, like the majority of unemployed youth or students between 18-21 years old who are not allowed to vote or select representatives in parliament. Or the majority of non-sectarian or secular national forces, allowed to participate in the elections only under the sectarian oriented quotas imposed in the electoral law. Even in 2017, despite the reforms introducing proportional voting, it remained under the sectarian dominated constituencies

Protests in Lebanon - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Protests in Lebanon – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The current rebellion has indeed contributed in the growth of public, political and economic awareness. It’s opened public discussions on the essential solutions to a potential crisis generated an unprecedent role for the public in discussing and determining the country’s crisis, or the domestic and foreign policy choices important to achieving a sovereign economic strategy. Especially in light of Lebanon’s new hydrocarbon energy natural resources in the Mediterranean Sea which promise to secure economic wealth and prosperity. While Israel, with US backing, has claimed large areas of Lebanese territories rich with natural gas reserves.

Lebanon remains banned from resisting such threats or getting help to possess the necessary means to defend itself from any foreign economic, political or armed interventions. Especially in holding discussions with China or Russia, which the US remains strongly opposed to in the midst of the global economic power shifts.

Nevertheless, the issue remains at the Lebanese domestic front in the continued struggle for a forbidden social justice, that has previously push the country into a deadly civil war. Unfortunately, the demands for socioeconomic and political justice remained banned or were delayed at the end of the war, preventing state reforms awaited since Lebanon’s first constitution of 1926.

READ: Lebanon protesters prevent secret parliamentary session being held

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.