Often, politics seem complicated and difficult to understand. We wish that governance and political affairs would fall into a simple equation that would make it easy to solve and figure out the right answer, but instead it seems complex, vague and haphazard.
The reality is that governance and politics could be as simple as a mathematical equation, the only problem is that there are multiple variables and most of the time we are not even aware of those variables or who controls them.
Bottom line is, everything happens for a reason, and Lebanon is no exception.
As a Lebanese, have you ever asked yourself why did we have a series of random bombings between December 2013 and January 2014 and then it suddenly stopped?
Did you ever wonder why were Jabal Muhsen and Bab Al Tebbaneh fighting endlessly for more than a year, and then suddenly Rifaat Eid disappeared with the wave of a magician’s wand?
Well let us make a simple observation.
Najib Mikati resigned from the Prime Minister position on the 22nd of March 2013 and despite that fact that Tammam Salam was named the prime minister on the 6th of April 2013, it took until the 15th of February of 2014 to actually form the government.
When did most of the car bombing in Lebanon happen?
According to the tracking provided by Now Lebanon, we have had 15 out of 22 vehicle bombings between the 9th of July of 2013 and the 17th of February 2014.
It is obvious that the bombing diminished exponentially after the formation of the government, and the majority of the bombings that followed happened within a month of the formation. So did the new cabinet have a magic wand for the bombings and suddenly wipe out all the fundamentalist groups active in Lebanon?
Well, if you are not convinced, let us observe the Tripoli fighting between the two neighborhoods of Bab El Tebeneh and Jabal Muhsen.
As soon as the revolution evolved into a war in Syria, the battlefield of Jabal Mohsen and Bab Al Tebeneh erupted again as Hezbollah carried its resistance to Syria and the Syrians carried their revolution to Tripoli. The clashes started on June 2011 and kept escalating until suddenly it all ended in March 2014.
Isn’t that the same month when the series of vehicle bombings cam to an end as well?
Isn’t that almost the same month the cabinet was formed?
All these are calculated chess moves that the various stakeholders in Lebanon orchestrate depending on the regional conditions and how they want to influence the decisions on the inside.
This cabinet, similar to all previous cabinets is nothing but a shit-show. They cannot even provide water to the people or handle university dean appointments, so nobody try to convince me that they were able to contain all the turmoil and annihilate all the armed groups.
But wait, before you jump your guns, I am not denying the fact that there are fundamentalist groups in Lebanon, as I am sure they are active and well-funded, but what I am trying to say is that they are merely tools and puppets being orchestrated by our political leaders whenever there is a need for them. One day they are Jabhat Al Nusra, another ISIS, then ISIL, then Kataeb Al Kassam and you name it.
They give them multiple names only to keep us confused and to show us that the danger is coming at us from every angle.
This is why today we are witnessing another episode where unfortunately the Lebanese army soldiers fall as casualties as always. Today, as the country enters its third month without a president, as we are about two weeks from the deadline of calling for elections (دعوة الهيئات الناخبة), and as the pressure escalates on the cabinet for increasing wages , we are one more time distracted by another series of terror attacks on the country, a series that started this time with a group called the Free Sunnis of Baalbeck in Arsal, Tayouneh and Raouche.
I am all for supporting the army against all these rogue puppet armed groups that sprout every now and then, but I would like to raise a few points that I feel every Lebanese should pay attention to as the events unfold.
1. Support the Lebanese Army, not only in dying but also in living:
Every time the Lebanese army engages in a battle with some terrorist group, profile pictures and infinite statuses and tweets flood the social media in support of the fallen martyrs and the brave heroes of the Lebanese army. While it is great to support our troops as they die, it would also help them if we supported them to live. A Lebanese soldier, if serving in a fighting troop, serves somewhere between 80 – 120 hours a week for a base salary of 450,000 L.L. equivalent to $300 (before transportation and other added figures). These soldiers are not allowed to have another job that would add to their income and have been waiting for three years for the wage hike that the various governments has been evading.
This year the Lebanese army is fighting ISIS and Jabhat Al Nusra, last year it was fighting Ahmad Al Aseer. A few years back it fought Fatih Al Islam in flesh and bone and years before that in Seer Al Doniyeh. We still do not know who killed captain Samer Hanna or who are the names behind the continuous attacks on the checkpoints. The Lebanese soldiers are the innocent victims both in peace and in war, so do not simply remember them during battle and forget their rights and cause when things are going well.
So before you get all touch-feely and supportive for the Lebanese army as they go die as martyrs for the recklessness of the politicians you voted for, support their right for better wages and better standard of living.
2. Be aware of another military president
I fully support and salute the leadership and bravery of General Jean Kahwaji as he leads the Lebanese Army at these critical times where the army has become the direct target of terror attacks and when the army is expected to maintain peace without being given the political orders to intervene.
Supporting General Kahwaji for his military leadership does not mean supporting him blindly. Quite often, as is the case in the United States and many other countries, the enemy is often exaggerated in order to push forward policies that require more military spending and aggressive foreign policies. In the case of Lebanon, I fear that the campaign to market the exemplary leadership of General Jean Kahwaji and stress on his role as the protector of Lebanon in his battle against the insurgent groups, is an attempt to push him forward as a neutral nationalistic candidate for the Lebanese presidency at a time when the political parties cannot agree on a name for that seat.
We have had enough Generals ruling our country. Let the Generals do what they do best, lead their armies and let politicians, lawyers, economists, or whoever else is qualified lead a democratic state.
3. Instability leads to parliament term extension AGAIN
As I tried to prove earlier, these surges of attacks sprout every now and then for a reason. A group of people somewhere allow the fundamentalist groups to gather themselves, gain momentum as long as they are leashed. When the necessary time comes, their leash is loosened in order to stir up controversy, distract the public and serve other hidden purposes.
In July 2013, the Lebanese parliament unconstitutionally cancelled elections and extended its term till November 20, 2014 under the alibi of instability in the country. While a small group of activists raised the voice and took the streets, the rest of the population was mentally numb or physically intoxicated in the bars of Jemayzeh, Mar Mkhael, Hamra, Jounieh and other areas. So, despite all their disagreements, all the MPs agreed on one thing “Kill the democracy in Lebanon”.
And so, at a time when the Arab world was in revolutions East and West asking for democratic elections, we in Lebanon went the opposite direction and cut the last chord of democracy in our country. Since then, we have been ruled by an unconstitutional parliament whose term ends in November 20.
This means that the deadline to call for elections is August 20 of 2014, three months before the date of the elections.
Almost 2 weeks before this deadline the violence escalates one more time in the country, which will definitely be used as a reason of instability preventing the Lebanese from going to vote at these turbulent times.
This is a very important and critical one, so please pay attention as the events unfold.
The influx of political events and news in this country is hard to keep up with. Every week we are occupied with an issue to be distracted from and shift our attention to another the week after. While we are distracted, busy trying to survive, a few key players are calling the shots and kneading the dough for their own plans.
I may well be wrong in my assessment, but what I am trying to do is look beyond the distraction and understand what purpose does it serve. I hope we can all wake up and be a little more strategic in our support for whomever and be pro-active rather than reactive in our involvement and activism.
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