Lebanon’s biggest challenge is real change, but it doesn’t seem to be on the agenda – Middle East Monitor

The Lebanese parliamentary election is watched with great interest around the world due to the nature of the state and its important strategic location next to Israel. The presence of Hezbollah, one of Iran’s most important proxies in the region, is a key factor given its overwhelming influence in Lebanon.

So much so, in fact, that there is a state within a state, with Iran as the de facto ruler, holding the keys to the Lebanese government. Hezbollah’s militia is armed with missiles, heavy weapons and all sorts of military equipment, with more than 100,000 fighters, according to Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, who added that Iran is paying for their food , their drinks, their medical care and their lodging, as well as their pensions. ; everything is provided by Iran.

This is why the Lebanese say that Iran is occupying Lebanon and that their country must win its independence. Such wishes are not just words for words; they arise from the people’s anger at the infiltration of Hezbollah at all levels in Lebanon. These concerns were confirmed by an Iranian politician who said, “Iran is occupying the capitals of four Arab states: Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.”

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Therein lies the importance of the recent legislative elections; it is considered a key step in Lebanon, especially in the midst of an economic crisis. Banks are bankrupt and depositors have lost their money; the inflation rate increases; there is massive poverty; and there is a significant decline in the value of the national currency, which has lost around 90% of its value. The Lebanese people are frustrated and many did not bother to vote because they are tired of the whole process and disgusted with the likelihood of the same old ruling clique returning to power. Leading Lebanese sects is a lifetime job and is passed on to the next generation as a legacy. Thus, voter turnout was lower than in 2018, even among Shia, Hezbollah’s natural support base, despite Nasrallah and Nabih Berri urging their supporters to turn out in large numbers and tempting them with money to do it. However, many have stayed home to express their anger and displeasure as they have no real freedom of choice and cannot go to polling stations to overthrow these leaders.

Lebanon is a long history of disaster and crisis – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The election ended two months of disputes and sectarian tensions between candidates and voters. Everyone claims to want to establish a strong civil state without sectarianism.

Shia Hezbollah and Amal won the 28 seats allocated to the sect based on quotas set by the 1992 Taif agreement. The Christian allocation was split between the Lebanese Forces Party led by Samir Geagea, which won 19 seats and became the largest bloc representing Christians in Lebanon, while the Free Patriotic Movement led by Gebran Bassil, son-in-law of President Michel Aoun, won 18 seats instead of the 27 won in 2018. The Sunni community lost a lot from the electoral boycott of the Future Movement led by Saad Hariri. This weakened the Sunnis, who had no effective leadership, so their votes were split between different blocs and suspect alliances.

Despite the odious sectarian electoral law that Bassil had tailor-made for his party to win the election, a group of young people outside the traditional political and partisan formations managed to penetrate the electoral rolls for the first time since the end of of the civil war in 1990. These new forces represent the civil current that emerged from the popular movement born in October 2019 and called for change, rejected sectarianism and demanded the structural reform of the regime and the overthrow of all old political symbols , without exception . Its catchphrase was “All Mean All”. These new forces managed to win 15 seats out of 128 and are currently seeking to form a common bloc.

OPINION: a Lebanese election with a taste of crisis

However, the biggest surprise of this election was the fall of all the agents and puppets of the Syrian regime, such as Emir Talal Arslan, leader of the Lebanese Democratic Party, and Wiam Wahhab, leader of the Tawhid party, as well as the le Deputy Speaker of Parliament Elie Ferzli, whom Damascus tried to save. He did this by claiming that there was a ballot box for expatriate votes in Syria that was sent late, all for Ferzli’s benefit, but it was revealed to be a fraud and dismissed by the courts.

Hezbollah thus lost its allies, who had a majority in parliament, even if the party and its ally the Amal Movement retained all the seats allocated to Shiites. However, his allies in other groups lost their seats, especially in the Free Patriotic Movement, the Christian cover of Hezbollah and its militia, despite his request to all his opponents in the elections to lay down their arms and hand them over to the Lebanese army. . He also called for the army to be the only armed institution in Lebanon. Hassan Nasrallah, secretary general of Hezbollah, admitted the loss on television after the election results were announced.

Thus, the parliamentary blocs and their alliances are now divided between several political forces, while Hezbollah, the Free Patriotic Current and their allies had a parliamentary majority after the 2018 elections.

Lebanon was the jewel of the Middle East and the center of cultural and artistic energy in the Arab world. The land of the free was called “Switzerland of the East”. It was the only Arab country that rivaled Israel in terms of civilization, tourism and culture. As soon as Iran entered the country and its militias took control of it, the Arab capital of light, Beirut, became the capital of darkness, gloom and bankruptcy.

Will the new parliament be able to restore its light and bring it out of darkness, recover its beauty, its splendor, its vitality and its freedom? I doubt it, given that Nabih Berri, 90, was elected speaker of parliament, a post he has held since 1992. Lebanon’s biggest challenge is to achieve real change, but that does not seem to be on the political agenda. .

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

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