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Lebanon: the temporary state - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Lebanese scene is surreal, but nevertheless we have become accustomed to it and have grown bored. Over and over again a group suddenly emerges, whether it is a party, militia, clan or sect, daring to raise its voice and launching an assault on the state and the people. In turn, this threatens and disrupts people’s lives and cripples the entire country without any deterrent or penalty from the official authorities. The latest scene in Lebanon caused a state of panic when a group decided to “avenge” the kidnapping of one of its affiliates in Syria, hence randomly abducting a number of Syrians in Lebanon, as well as a Saudi and a Turk, according to different accounts. This same group also blocked the sole road to Beirut Airport (the only airport in Lebanon), hence paralyzing the entire country. This is not a sign or a symptom of a feeble or fragile state; rather it is a sign of a temporary state.

Lebanon, theoretically, gained independence from France in 1940s, yet in practice it has continued to operate under the same intellect and mindset of a “susceptibility to colonialism”, as described by the late genius Malek Bennabi. Lebanon, through its political subconscious, seeks to be “led” by others; sometimes by compassionate and motherly France, and sometimes by sisterly Syria. We must also not neglect the fact that a large portion of Lebanese society is unconvinced by the idea of the Lebanese state itself, believing that it is an entity stolen from the Syrian motherland, to which it must return. Advocates of this view consider Lebanon to be a temporary idea, and therefore they have little respect or reverence towards the Lebanese state apparatus. Other factions believe that Lebanon should be a state with a Franco-European-Mediterranean frame of reference and a pure Phoenician history, and that the country in its current guise is a geographical mistake that must be rectified both culturally and politically. There is also a new and significant school of thought that seriously believes Lebanon should be part of the Islamic Republic of Iran, with Tehran being its principal frame of reference. All these examples display a lack of confidence in the idea of the “Lebanese state” as an entity, which further consolidates the mentality of colonialism regardless of outward signs of civilization and modernity, or chants and slogans about the Lebanese homeland.

In Lebanon, when people describe the state of affairs as a phenomenon of “Lebanonization”, they are in fact describing a situation far more profound than mere civil conflicts between sects, factions, ideologies and parties. They are referring to a unique situation whereby a group, individual, party, militia or family is considered more important than the state, its leader and all its apparatuses. This causes the prevalence of corruption, bribery and favoritism, the disobedience of laws, the ineffectiveness of state bodies, and an overall lack of discipline. This is the hallmark of a temporary state that expects and anticipates others to swallow it up, relieve its suffering, and steer it to safer shores, or any direction in this case.

The crippled Lebanese state has stood by helpless amidst the endless threats and insolence of various groups and trends. Attempts at good governance and patience have produced only one result: a decline in the prestige and a severe lack of trust in the Lebanese state, and a reliance upon other parties to accomplish what is required. Lebanon is a state that has been abused by its own politicians; a dreadful blight upon such a beautiful country. Lebanon’s politicians, by persisting with their unique mentality, will only succeed in restoring “colonialism” to Lebanon, and we will see this in the coming days.

Yet I can also confirm that the majority of the Arabs are fed up and bored with these Lebanese leaders who are nothing but tools for exploitation and blackmail. After all, those who show no concern for their own country cannot expect others to care.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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