Tear Gas, Trash, and Early Elections

22nd of August protest

For those of you who don’t know me or never read my blog, I’m the guy that enjoys the sport of Lebanese politics. At least it was like that until yesterday. Now I enjoy it with disgust. Every month, around the 25th day, I publish a purely analytical post, linking all the political events of the month to one another, in the smallest detail. For example, this month should have been about how Aoun was trying to unite the FPM and keep things together by bringing as many people as possible into the command (explains why there are two VPs for Bassil), and why Hezbollah was recently escalating its discourse in order to keep the FPM close after Berri last month gave the indirect green light to March 14 to extend Kahwagi’s term in order to force a deal on Aoun. Anyway, you got the point. There will be no monthly analysis post today. They are not worth it.

Let me tell you a little bit about Lebanon: It’s a small country, bordered by two bullies, with a parliament that extended its term twice, for a period of time equivalent to a whole term, because they failed to agree on an electoral law. The parliament, that is made up of two coalitions basically mirroring the conflict in Syria – and a third centrist one taking advantage of both in the name of neutrality, has failed, for the 27th time, to elect a president for the country because some of them even refuse to attend the elections – the last two presidents for the past fifteen years being two politically incompetent army generals that led Lebanon into a worsened economic situation. As of June 2015, The net public debt had increased by 8.3% year-on-year to $59.5bn. 25 years after the end of the Civil war, the government still can’t provide us with 24/7 electricity. Sometimes there are weeks when don’t have access to water. We have the highest per capita refugee ratio in the world, and yet all you hear on TV are politicians giving racist speeches on TV while acting as if the crisis did not exist. The Lebanese politicians – who are mainly the bloody warlords or their protégés/sons/sons-in-law that divided up the country among them after the war – reek with the smell of corruption, and have made deals over the years that benefited no one but themselves. The parliament and cabinet, that also barely meet, got this year the brilliant idea of ignoring a deadline for an already awful waste management plan, which led to piles of trash accumulating on the streets, while the government was trying to hide the evidence of their corruption by throwing the trash in the forests, rivers and sea, as if burning it wasn’t polluting enough. And the government had no environmentally friendly solution in mind: all they wanted to do was another landfill to satisfy their corrupted pockets.

So yeah, we had the right to protest yesterday. We wanted our basic rights as human beings. The warlords, that had destroyed Lebanon between 1975 and 1990, have now hijacked our parliament and our cabinet, shared the cake among themselves and made deals that harm our health.

They were supposed to let us think that we were a country that still had freedom of speech for citizens protesting peacefully. But I guess even that wasn’t a priority anymore. We were tear-gassed by the tear gas we payed for, beaten by men we pay their wages, and sprayed by fire hoses (as if there aren’t enough fires in the country to take care of). When it became dark, they started shooting and hunting down the protesters: yesterday we were a prey. But Lebanese citizens were always a prey.

The beauty of politics is that it is a process of interaction between the people and the politicians. And that interaction is mainly expressed through elections. So there is only one solution for the current crisis: We should recycle our garbage, but not our politicians. Lebanon needs a resignation from the cabinet, early elections for the parliament under a new fair electoral law, and most importantly, accountability for what happened yesterday, and before.

Salam in his press conference today implied that he was going to resign if the government wouldn’t solve the trash crisis in the Thursday cabinet session, without even hinting at any environmentally friendly solution. That’s not enough. It doesn’t matter anymore if he used a modified version of Elias Sarkis’ line “أنا منكم أنا لكم أنا معكم” (who was actually his father’s rival in the 60s and 70s – that should tell you how much they are ready to change their stances in order to stay in power) or if all hypocrite politicians say they’re sorry or they’re with the people or any other kind of bullshit they tell us (here’s three hypocrite statements, one from every coalition in power: Bassil, Jumblatt and Machnouk).

On the 22nd of August 2015, a new era began in Beirut. The politicians currently ruling us shouldn’t have a place in it.

Oh, and to the ISF cameraman desperate to take pictures of us and show them to his boss, I’m gonna make your life easier. I’m there in your pictures. No need to look me up.

22nd August protest police taking pictures

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8 comments

  1. They did this, they did that, it’s way easier to blame, than to take responsibility…. You do realize that initially they were elected into their positions by the people (may I add ‘repetitively elected’)? You do realize that this was a problem even before they ‘re-elected’ themselves, through extension, right? The worst part is that even if there are new elections to come up soon, they would probably be elected by the same people protesting all over again.. This is the story of Lebanon.

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    1. Reelected or not, the people have a basic right: elections. Lebanese politicians can’t take that from them simply because they failed. I’m also perfectly aware that there were problems before the extension. I’m not new to Lebanese politics.

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      1. What I am trying to say is that new elections will not lead to anything unless there is a real readiness for change. So the bigger problem here is not just regaining the rights to vote (of course this is a basic right), but also the hearts and minds of the real Lebanese who are looking for a better future for Lebanon.

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