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Opinion: The Return of “Lebanonization” | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Syrian refugees walk outside their tents at a refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese border town of Arsal, Lebanon, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. Tens of thousands of impoverished Syrian refugees living in tents, shacks and unfinished buildings throughout Lebanon face a miserable winter as aid organizations scramble to meet their needs, constantly overwhelmed by ever-more […]

Last month, renowned columnist Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed wondered whether the “Iraqization” of Lebanon has begun. “Iraqization” is the most recent word for describing what happened—and what we fear could happen next—in the chaos that has afflicted much of the Middle East. In 1970s, Yasser Arafat began using political idioms like this one by saying that the region is approaching a state of “Balkanization,” meaning to become similar to the Balkan mini-states that were engaged in endless battles with one another during World War I. He used that term two decades before the second Balkan explosion and Yugoslavia’s disintegration into warring mini-states.

During that time, however, the expression “Lebanonization” spread widely because of the violence in Lebanon. After that, terrible events—even ones in Lebanon—were described as “Somalization,” as Somalia was torn apart at the hands of local gangs that assaulted the poverty-stricken nation. Then Iraq’s tragedies began to occur, eliminating all past idioms in the process. Tens of thousands of people were killed in indiscriminate bombings and corruption corroded the state, while its prime minister presides over the non-stop bloodshed there at the head of a coalition called the “State of Law.”

Because we still do not know how the situation will develop in Syria, its tragedies have yet to lead to the creation of another expression to supersede all of those mentioned above. Yet the violence shaking Lebanon since last summer suggests that “Iraqization,” is still going on, meaning the emergence of a type of people who are willing to kill themselves and everyone around them just because they want to convey a political message over the minor grievances of daily life.

In Syria, one can find all the attributes of savage “Iraqization,” “Somalization,” and “Lebanonization” in abundance. Tens of thousands of innocent people die in the name of God and faith. Each party has booked its place in heaven and decided to burn the houses of others on Earth. The East is reviving the West’s old sectarian wars from the Middle Ages, but this time using advanced technologies. People have benefited from modern medicine and improved food production, and we have also “benefitted” from advances in technology in spreading death, destruction and the culture of killing and extermination.

Nearly one million Syrian migrants in Lebanon suffer from epidemics that are no longer known in other parts of the world and are the products of poverty and famine. Syria’s “Resistance” group is fighting for Palestine by starving the Palestinians in the Yarmouk camp. In view of the ongoing “Lebanonization,” “Iraqization”, “Somalization” and “Syrianization,” the region’s residents have left no single idiom suggesting badness and destruction unused.

Perhaps we deserve nothing more. Look at what happened in Egypt in spite of January 25, and what happened in Libya in spite of February 17, and what happened in Tunisia in spite of what happened on a date I cannot remember. We only see people communicating with one another though bombs and death. Perhaps, for those nations, all that their historic partners on earth and under the sky should do is to die, even if their killers will have to die with them.