Totally disconnected from its population’s revolt: Does the President of Lebanon suffer from “political Alzheimer”?

A picture from the Associated Press by Mr. Bilal Hussein; also from Naharnet & the Toronto Star

On October 31, the President of Lebanon called for the end of sectarianism (earlier post by Bambi).

Today, he said that he supports a government of “experts (or technocrats) along with the politicians”. He means those same (useless and corrupt) politicians.

Not even a government of independent experts, as people have been demanding from Day 1 of their revolt.

Why? Because they lost confidence in ALL their politicians, including him, his own party, and allies.

Bambi feels for this President. He is getting old (80 years old now?). Stress must be tough on him in this DEEP crisis. He must be under extreme pressure.

Countries that go through economic turmoil or bankruptcy can manage to be saved when they do not have deep political issues like tiny Lebanon.

Both deep internal issues and powerful regional forces wanting to align it to this or to that side. Not an easy situation but this has always been the story of this small country.

In Bambi’s mind, the solution is not that hard though: For once, listen to your own population. It is providing you with the seeds of the solution: Put the Lebanese people truly first, for God’s sake.

Today, in a televised speech or interview, Lebanon’s President criticized the slogan: “All of them means all of them”.

Although he may have a point that not all politicians are corrupt to the same extent (some may be decent. Who knows?), “all of them means all of them” is the best slogan Bambi has ever heard about her birth country since the end of civil war.  

This is the first time where all the Lebanese people are united in one single voice in each downtown and square of large and smaller towns and villages.

This is the first time that people dare to criticize a powerful leader, from his own community (a powerful leader that Bambi will not name). He is one among all the others. He is not better or worse than the others. He is just more powerful, period.

Anyhow, President Aoun said that he extends his hand to the protestors and would like to meet with them.

However, there is no spokesperson for them. No leader. The movement seems to have grown out of despair and anger. It is the whole Lebanese nation in its own revolt (or intifada, as they say in Arabic).

The over 200 fires followed by the WhatsApp tax opened “Pandora’s box” of tragedies in Lebanon:

Now, the whole world knows that about 27% of the population is poor. In Tripoli, up to 36% of the population lives under the poverty line (Smat Ghadi & Fouad Gemayel in L’Orient Le Jour, edition of November 1, 2019).

What does this mean? 1.2 million Lebanese people live with less than US$8.6 per day (up to 300,000 of them with just US$5.7 per day). This is the extreme poverty line (Ghadi & Gemayel respectively, 2019; see above).

Clearly, there is an unprecedented economic crisis. Even clearer, some unidentified forces from within the government are pushing for the status quo.

However, people are far from being dumb.

People on the streets are dreaming of a country of law and of transparency, of fiscal reforms and secularism, of basic rights for all (i.e., electricity for 24 hours and food on their tables).

People are organizing local conferences on the streets. They are imagining a state that they deserve. What a beautiful civil movement!

Some are also asking for a true equality between men and women. Yet others are requesting a state of rights for the Lebanese LGBTQs, etc.

The good causes are numerous. The underlying idea is the same: Fairness, justice, and a responsible government.

People want to have faith in their country again.

They do not want to have to immigrate from one generation to the other and to live apart from their loved ones. Today, the President told the population to think of leaving (the country) if they do not like who is governing them.

Bambi worries about the reactions in the streets to this message. Some are already calling for more actions on the streets.

People just want a normally functioning country. Is this too much to ask for in 2019?

The war ended 29 years ago. The same politicians from the civil war era (13 years now) are still in power, sharing the piece of cake. Today, they are choking on the piece whilst the population is starving.  

A whole nation is living on its streets, united with the same basic demands: Solve this economic crisis, end corruption, and let people move on with their lives.

If you have the time to watch, you may wish to check the documentary link below from CNN:

Clearly in Bambi’s mind (after discussing with many people in Lebanon): There is a Lebanon pre-October 17 and a Lebanon, post-October 17. Failing to see this change is a symptom of the Lebanese life-threatening disease.

This being said, may God protect Lebanon… from itself. The days and years ahead are sadly going to be tough, especially without a political (real) solution.

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