Common narrative – Nowlebanon


The future of this country is not in the hands of absolutists from a hard left ideology or a prejudiced extreme right.

Fortunately, there is enough room in the middle. Including the immensely frustrated but reasonable protester-turned-politician. Driven by moderation rather than extremism, and ready to reach “across the aisle” and work with the older guard in a common pursuit. Enter parliament, together, and change Lebanon for the better.

This includes a focus on economic well-being, social justice and ending impunity. And at the same time, a long-avoided chamber that would preserve our plurality – a senate that would let our mosaic breathe without threat or anguish.

Defending secularism and demonizing bigotry is a short-term vision. Lebanese shouldn’t be afraid to adopt something new if it, in fact, works better in the end. But long before that, we have to give what we have built together a chance.

Taif Agreement and March 14

Two of the three pillars of the Taif agreement (the end of the presence of the Syrian army which took fifteen years instead of three to happen; a senate; and the disarmament of the militias) have never been implemented. work.

Reform parties (before and after October 17) should follow these missing steps. Yet both are not possible without disarming Hezbollah.

The tendency among many others of October 17 to quickly reprimand March 14 relies on a false narrative. A movement for a noble cause – and a commitment to Lebanon’s independence – has taken more than a million Lebanese to the streets.

The Syrian forces left five weeks later.

The reason for the failure of March 14 is not self-sabotage. Samir Kassir had March 14. Just like George Hawi. The liberal left, rather than the illiberal fringe, was at the center of calls for decency, dignity and the restoration of sovereignty.

Political assassinations eliminated its cross-community leadership and destroyed that movement’s goal of full sovereignty, which meant tackling the arming of Hezbollah.

Equating March 14 to March 8 throws principles out the window in favor of a superficial popularity vote. The one that October 17 will lose. And regardless of the March 14 mutation that emerged in favor of Hezbollah, not supporting the Lebanese who tried to reclaim the state after Syria’s withdrawal bends on the wrong side.

And proactively ignoring our history.

Cairo Agreement, 1969

Long before the end of the civil war, condemn what tore us apart.

Don’t just say we want “sovereignty”, “disarmament” and “neutrality” and leave the argument there. This is where the campaign hits a wall and turns from an issue that concerns us all into slogans and sound bites stripped of politics and agency.

Instead, accept that the Lebanese have been forced into a reality beyond their control. Local reformers have limited capacity to tackle this problem, which extends far beyond Lebanon’s borders. We want to recreate the conditions that allow the Lebanese to determine their destiny. And that starts with taking this cause to diplomacy.

Communicating through campaigns is inherently difficult. But when messages are dictated from the margins, moderates should stick to embracing rather than turning against previous attempts at reform.

Demand an agreement with Iran.

And not one at the expense of Lebanon.

A fundamental change that puts an end to Iran’s hold. A strong call for a place at the table. Whenever influential countries are willing to talk to Iran, we must make our country’s cause heard.

This is where too many people in civil society avoid this burden. The current regime and its representatives (the situation of paralysis in which we live) cannot demand a new relationship with Iran. On the contrary, the true ambassador of Iran in Lebanon is the same as our imposed representative in Iran: Hezbollah.

October 17 is due.

Pick up where other reformers – some who paid the ultimate price – left off. A model is Open letter from Mohamad Chatah to Tehran. I posted my own follow up and Open letter Last year. The conditions that we, as Lebanese, demand to recreate standard state-to-state relations.

Negotiations, instead of talking endlessly just to talk.

And while this is all beyond our limited control, at least apply appropriate language and lexicon so that the diet and the opponents of opponents does not win the local debate.

National Pact, 1943

An agreement with Tehran prevents two other factors from bringing us back to Damascus.

Assad wants his old role of intermediary in Lebanon and reappear as a local representative of Iran opponent on his terms. We must avoid this situation at all costs – a throwback to the 1990s that destroyed our post-civil war politics.

The second is a question that involves sectarian anxiety. The majority of October 17 did not legitimately call for the return of Saad Hariri to power, nor for that matter Bahaa Hariri (or Fouad Makhzoumi) to compensate for the disadvantage of a community vis-à-vis politics.

Yet the fallout from the “Sunni vacuum” is evident.

It makes no sense to confront Lebanon’s “social pact” or demand an end to the “system” without addressing this insecurity. Challenge the boycott that mirrors the Christian withdrawal from politics in 1992. Excuse the bigotry here, but whether real or imagined, the majority of Sunnis feel they are paying a price that is not shared by other communities. Like most Christians when Michel Aoun was forced into exile and Samir Geagea imprisoned.

All the more reason to pave the way for an agreement that lets our geography breathe without playing the role of a battlefield. The key is to arrive at a reality on the ground that allows for reform. And end a familiar pattern of nominal opposition that makes communal leaders Hezbollah’s favorite president, prime minister and speaker of parliament.

And when they challenge the status quo, their primary targets.

Communicating through campaigns is inherently difficult. But when messages are dictated from the margins, moderates should stick to embracing rather than turning against previous attempts at reform.

And find a common narrative.

Ronnie Chatah’s hosts The Banyan of Beirut podcast, a series of long-form storytelling and conversational episodes that reflect all that is modern Lebanese history. He also leads the WalkBeirut tour, a four-hour narration of Beirut’s rich and troubled past. He is on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @thebeirutbanyan.

The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOW.

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