Lebanese crisis 15 years pattern
We always wonder, why is it so hard to live in peace and stability long term in Lebanon? Are we cursed with recurring crisis every now and then or is it just the fate of this little middle eastern magical land.
Our country has gone through a series of events in its past history that made it what it is today. The evolution of societies and states goes through long periods of stagnation and status quo, where the society adapts and interacts with its current fact. Rarely, those societies get hit by events that break the silence of life as usual and bring in changes that would settle for a while. In the following story I’ll shed the light on the 15 years pattern of crisis in Lebanon’s brief modern history.
After a long French colonial occupation, Lebanon went into a national crisis that resulted in its independence. A nationwide accord among the different religious sects and international pressure made that happen. An internal political and public revolution set the grounds to a new Lebanese system that honored the independence of the soil and the affiliations of the country, and that respected different religious groups and acknowledged the proportional distribution of public offices among them.
15 years later…
In 1958, a political crisis rose and unleashed religious tension in the country. The rising Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, an ally of the Soviet-arabs, had been calling for the United Arab Republic (UAR), an Arab state that wipes out all sovereign countries borders and merges them into one republic under his leadership. The Arab nationalism idea that tickled the feelings of the Lebanese muslim community and enraged the Christians (sided with the West) so fond of the uniqueness of the Lebanese sovereign yet sectarian state. After an armed intervention of the United States on the Lebanese soil to protect the regime, General Fouad Chehab was elected as a moderate President with the purpose of preserving the calm in the country.
Yes, you’ve guessed it: 15 years later…
And in 1975, the Lebanese most brutal crisis started. An internal war broke between the Christians from one side and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) from the other side. Almost 300,000 displaced Palestinians were on Lebanese soil and amongst whom heavily armed men and women using Lebanese territories to conduct war acts against Israel since 1968. That fact became an internal threat to the Lebanese society. Soon enough most of the left-wings in the country with Muslim Majority joined the fight against the right wing (Christians). The country faced a civil war that destroyed Lebanon’s infrastructure, economy and society. A war from which Lebanese haven’t yet recovered from.
And another 15 years…
In 1990, with the blessing of the West and the intervention of the Arab League and its most powerful players, the Taif agreement (in KSA) marked the end of the armed fight, and the Syrian army was granted permission to occupy the country momentarily to preserve the fragile peace. An occupation that remained for a very long 15 years and instead of establishing peace, destroyed the public sector, oppressed the freedom of speech and empowered and armed its allies against the rest of the Lebanese society.
Pattern persists, 15 years later…
In 2005, the biggest crime in the region’s history hit Lebanon. The Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in Beirut on February 14th. A date that sparked the Cedar’s revolution, launching a chain of manifestations all over the country for many days until millions of people marched Beirut streets on March 14th calling for independence and the withdrawal of the Syrian troops from Lebanon. Following the demonstrations, the Syrian army withdrew completely; the regime remains the main suspect of the tragic murder that still hasn’t been resolved to date.
And today, 15 years later…
In late 2019, October 17th a Lebanese uprising revolution broke against the corruption and failure of the religious ruling political class. A revolution that is still ongoing as I’m writing these words. A social, economic and political revolution is getting stronger and promises to change the face of the country that we once knew.
A pattern not to be missed
It’s not the number “15” that actually counts in my observation. It’s the recurrent visible pattern in the history of our country. The social and political dynamics that affect our society indicate that the chances we’re getting are very few compared to the long years we’re living. A crisis happening today opens an opportunity to a real and positive change in the history of the country, but if the results turn to be disappointing, another long 15 years of suffering awaits our society and country before we may get another chance.
A social pattern
As a political activist, I cannot but try to analyze the reason behind those patterns in order to understand better and be able to stress on the importance of the outcome of such events.
What is it that makes the Lebanese society react in retro after such a long time?
In fact the different events that affected our society were influenced by many circumstances: The multiple wars in the region, the conquest for oil, the rise of nationalism, the religious extremism… But most importantly is how Lebanon internally reacted to those events and what social reasons drove those events to bring in a positive change, or a simple delay of a bigger crash.
Let me walk you through a personal story, that could help in understanding my analysis. My parents are Lebanese citizens, born in the 50’s. Aha! The 50’s, the era of the fragile Lebanese independence, a society torn apart between the pro-west and pro-east. The Israel invasions, the Palestinian displacement and the Christian’s fear for their forever legacy of freedom of belief and culture. They witnessed the vertical split of the society, they feared for their lives and the future of their families. They took sides with the coalition that was back then considered the safest. Nothing else mattered at the time: a worldwide plot of discrimination towards their group, they had no other option. They had to fight!
The ugly war made them realize that peace was far more important; despite the 1990’s treaty and its discrepancies, they opted for it for a chance of a safer future for them and us. Hope was all they were seeking. They were destroyed by war and hatred. They never got over the killing and the bombs, but they wanted out just like all Lebanese people. 15 years of Syrian occupation and life in disgrace made them stand firm in 2005 against evil to save once again the future of their children. Those same people, their children by their side in the streets of Beirut calling for the second independence. They left behind the hate and religious differences and saw hope in unity.
Do not underestimate such events in the life of societies. A society that survived a civil war, that was not granted enough time to heal and in just 15 years figured out a way to unite again.
It was probably hard on them, but not that hard on my generation. My generation that fought for the second independence and got it! We were in a new millennia, and this time we had the internet, the news, the coverage. We had all the visibility needed to get the world’s developed countries’ attention and were aspired by them and their fight for freedom. This time we communicated better, we believed in each other and most importantly we had one goal. And we won.
In 2020, today, my parents are on the streets again, with their children, and their grand-children chanting for a civil state that respects its citizens, provide them with the security and the dignity they deserve. This time they’re no longer leading the fight or taking their children to that revolution. They’re carrying their grand-children, the generation that had nothing to do with the war and aspired only and only for the future.
This is one very strong pillar that encourages me to fiercely believe that today’s fight, is my fight for a better future to my unborn children.
Today’s beautiful revolution
What makes today’s revolution so beautiful and hopeful is the fact that the leaders of this revolution, the youngest of us all, are people who didn’t have anything to do with the civil war. They’re millennial's and generation Z people who were born in an era where people became citizens of the world and not only citizens of one static territory or one single country. Those are people able to process, analyze and re-communicate information faster than anytime before. Young people used to connect, re-connect and build networks of information with tools they are very familiar with and part of the ritual of their daily lives.
Those young people do not see the difference between themselves and their fellow citizen, but they’re very much aware of the difference in their future in this country compared to their friends’ around the globe. A generation that is exposed to so many information and to which sectarians and politicians can no longer lie to or recruit on the basis of discrimination or religious extremism. Those young people read a lot, hear a lot, and dream a lot. Religion for them is a culture they inherited from their families, a mode-de-vie that was inflicted on them and usually by parents who thought it was the only way to teach them right from wrong. What is sure is that they see their fellow human being as an equal person with whom they share common values, languages, country and society, and they all as well share the lack of human dignity and social safety.
I admit, it’s hard to keep your optimism and assurance, especially when you chat with people from different ages about their current and future vision of this country that we all love. But what lifts me up, is the fact that the young generation of Lebanon has socially and politically matured way beyond their previous generations, and on those I bet my highest hope.
I might not live to see the beautiful dream I have for this country but I’m positive that the effort I’m doing today in that direction will give my unborn child, in 15 or 30 years, an opportunity to take the streets chanting for his own century’s cause rather than still trying to defeat the corrupt ruling class and the abolition of the sectarian regime we’re trying to take down today.
The biggest unknown remains on how the youngsters will organize themselves and grow into the future leaders of this country. Will they challenge the existing political parties, destroy the traditional organizations and build on their ruins some 21st-like century political organizations that would carry Lebanon to its next adventure?
Long live the revolution.