The State of the Dis-Union in Lebanon

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When ministers refuse to attend a cabinet meeting because they are pushing for their parochial issues at a time when the country is on its knees begging for help, the economy is tanking, unemployment is devastating, future prospects are bleak, virulent epidemics are clamoring and decisions are essential for survival – This is a state of disunion.

When the ministers cannot agree on how to handle the waste management crisis, first by refusing bids month ago for less than half the price that they were prepared to ship it out for, and also with different factions refusing to accept each other’s waste in their regions on confessional grounds, when modern incinerators are vindictively prevented from leaving the port at a time when the country is drowning in garbage and disease is spreading like wildfire – This as state of disunion.

When the leaders cannot agree amongst themselves on a President with allies turning against each other and uniting with their worst enemies to prevent others from occupying the presidential seat and the country is facing nearly a two year long vacuum in the Presidency – This is a state of disunion.

When an electoral law cannot be drafted because it has to serve many masters and guarantee a certain outcome for each and is therefor impossible and there cannot be fair elections without it – This is a state of disunion.

When disunion rules, stalemates prevail and neglect follows. Disunion means no change, no progress because these require consensus at the very least. They say that the only thing that does not change is change itself. We need to add to this adage in Lebanon that the only thing that does not change is the state of disunion. When the disunion becomes so great only the abyss remains. On the ledge of this abyss will there will be anything left to catch if the nation falls?

This is the state of the disunion address…

Reflections on the unintended consequences of the recent chaos in the Middle East

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In scientific thought, a main component of “Chaos Theory” is the idea that even very small events can cause very complex results. It also posits that these events can never be sufficiently articulated to allow for long-range predictions.

With that in mind, my return to Lebanon two years ago coincided with the escalation of the war in Syria and the subsequent chaos that has followed in both countries – Lebanon and Syria. Who could have imagined that the systematic destruction of a nation like Syria could lead to a series of such monumental unintended consequences, as we are witnessing today?

Some of these unintended consequences are:

  • The changing role of US foreign policy concerning Israel.
  • The dominance of Russian Diplomacy in the Middle East.
  • The rise of Persian and Shia influence in the area.
  • The breakdown of the decades long Saudi–US alliance.
  • The spread and organization of Al Qaeda and their affiliates in the region.
  • The destabilization of Lebanon with the unregulated influx of over a million refugees representing one fourth of the population.
  • The breakdown of the Lebanese political system.
  • The survival of President Bashar El-Assad against all odds.

To name but a few…

In hindsight, from the beginning I could see that things were not as they were portrayed, and that behind the Syrian crisis was the planned destruction of a nation led by extremists who’s foreign sponsors manipulated the world media to justify their actions.

This strategy formed the basis for a long-range directive to fragment the region into confessional enclaves. The latest Shia / Sunni divide is a by-product of such a man-made crisis in the region. The raging conflict and terrorist based strife that it has generated, has played into the “divide to rule” adage, which has systematically been at the forefront of Zionist tactics in the Arab world since Israel’s inception.

Naomi Klein describes these man-made crises in her book “The Shock Doctrine” as a strategies to facilitate the financial and political exploitation of war-torn, socially destroyed nations, in order to push through controversial change and exploitative policies, while citizens are too weak to create an effective resistance.

In any event, the western medias’ portrayal of the systematic breakdown of the traditional Arab leaderships in the Levantine world (Note I am not referring to the Arabian Peninsula where the most repressive regimes still exist impervious to popular uprisings) and their ensuing chaos has been from the outset propagandist distortions of the realities on the ground. The western media cleverly dubbed the fracturing of nations an Arab spring!

Neither in Libya, Egypt, or Tunisia can we call the outcomes spring-like at all. In Egypt we witnessed instead the planned takeover of the Moslem Brotherhood who had been preparing in hiding for this day, for decades. When finally, the opportunity came with Qatari backing to exert their power, what had been portrayed as a popular uprising, became an opportunity for these religious zealots to impose their rule. The Egyptian army subsequently overthrew them and quashed their ambitions with the acquiescence of the West, where ironically, the military intervention in a popular uprising was accepted for Egypt, but was not so for Syria.

In Jordan, interestingly the political thrust of the Moslem Brotherhood was contained. To an outsider, one could speculate that a line in the sand had been drawn as far as, toppling a monarchy with ancestral origins that linked them to Mecca and the Prophet. Maybe, the Saudis and Qataris could not risk setting a precedent by the toppling a historic monarchy for fear that it could ultimately happen to them. King Abdullah had a close call, but the attempt of the Moslem Brotherhood to topple him for was temporarily eliminated. However, Syria was not so lucky.

For whatever reason the problems escalated in Syria, including:

  • The initial mismanagement of the government forces’ use of violence to repress unrest.
  • The underestimation by the government of the scale of the problem at hand.
  • The initial miscalculation by the government of the degree of implication of foreign powers in the financing and arming of the rebellion.
  • The commitment of the West to continue to escalate the violence by sending foreign fighters and technology to Syria, in order to topple the Assad regime.
  • The tactical usurpation of the rebels’ cause by extremist factions funded by Qatar and Saudi Arabia to pursue their Jihad.
  • The reluctance of Saudi Arabia to concede defeat in the call for Assad’s resignation and their continued funding of the war.

All these elements have succeeded in ushering in a series of unintended outcomes that have completely overturned the balance of power on the world stage, and have introduced a new order that will have untold repercussions in the whole region.

The question becomes when do unintended consequences become an opportunity for positive change? And how does one take control of one’s destiny in the reshuffling of the deck?