Adonis Diaries

Archive for December 2nd, 2008

What socio-political reforms for Lebanon? (Part 1, November 31, 2008)

Note: This essay is of three parts.  The first part would investigate the facts and current realities of Lebanon’s socio-political structure (without delving into the details).  Part 2 is my version of Lebanon’s Republic and Democracy.  The third part develops on programs, processes, and resolutions.  Reforms have not taken place in Lebanon after 65 years of independence and these essays are screams for action.

Let us state the facts and realities of Lebanon’s socio-political structure.  Socially, Lebanon is an amalgam of castes enjoying self-autonomous structure, tightly related to religious sects.  Many would label these castes as tribes, feudal clans, oligarchy and so on, but caste is the correct name because it satisfies all the criteria for our communities. The successive Lebanese governments recognized 18 political castes with legal civil status laws and the right to administer their respective members from birth, to marriage, to inheritance and then death; they are to be represented in the Parliament and the higher State’s administration jobs according to what the latest civil war engendered in the power struggle among the castes.

It is obvious that this caste system has never appreciated a strong central government ,and the successive governments never tried hard to impose any serious reforms to unite a people under central civil laws, or modern citizens.  The “ideal” copy of our Constitution has never been applied since Lebanon’s “independence” of France in 1943.

The gross-brushed picture was that for the Christian sects (as a pool) and the Moslem sects to split the numbers of Deputies in the Parliament fifty-fifty, as well as their representations in the State administration offices.

Since the independence, demographic changes favored the Moslem sects ,which outnumbered the Christian citizens by a ratio of 70/30.  A civil war that started in 1975 till 1991 lead to the Taef “Constitution”, supposedly giving the Moslem sects firmer and wider executive powers; a constitution that was not actually applied as the original Constitution was not also applied.

The Dawha agreement in 2008, after a long stalemate in the government following the quick military coup of Hezbollah in Beirut, brought us back to the 1963 legislative election laws, which legally consecrated our socio-political caste system.  Up till now, the political process relied on a verbal agreement or consensus by the Maronite and Sunni caste leaders in 1943.

Many would like to embellish our political system by attributing to it a European notion of “conconferedracy or something of that kind”, where several communities speak different languages such as in Switzerland, Belgium, or Canada.  These communities in the developed States are open groups and communicate liberally and have no trade or social barriers, they obey to central government laws and have a unified civil status laws, and have developed into modern States.

This is not the case in Lebanon: we have closed communities with self-autonomous civil status laws that still refuse to have civil marriages, not even an optional one under a unifying civil law; Lebanon belongs to the under-developed States where juntas of theocratic castes dominate the political and economical spectrum.

Are Free-Trade Zones in the Middle East being worked out? (December 1, 2008)

I like to envision the creations of 11 free-trade zones in the Middle East, among the States of Turkey, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Cyprus.  Why free-trade zones?

Most of the recognized States by the United Nations in the Middle East were not naturally and normally constituted, and the borders are artificially delimited: The States  were divided up by the mandatory European nations of Britain, France and the active participation of the USA, after the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire lost the war in the WWI by siding with Germany.

Consequently, there are many ethnic, emotional, economic, linguistic, and historical intermingling and rivalries among these States.  Since military confrontations are out of the question, and since daily trade and social relations are binding certain bordering zones then, creative alternatives should be studied to form viable trade zones that otherwise would be left unmanaged and precariously volatile.

First, between the States of Turkey and Syria there are many legitimate claims that should be resolved on their borders.  There is the possibility of several free-trade zones such as (Cilicia, Iskandaron, and Lazkieh (Latakieh)) and the Kurdish common zone of Hassakeh and Diar Baker and Van.

Second, between Turkey and Iraq there is an ideal free-trade zone in their common Kurdish region around Mosul.

Third, between Iraq and Iran two zones can be contemplated (the common Kurdish region, and the region around the Persian/Arabic Gulf).

Fourth, between Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait the Basra region could alleviate recurring conflicts.

Fifth, between Iraq, Syria, and Jordan, where their frontiers intersect artificially, a free-trade zone would encourage commerce in that desolate area.

Sixth, between Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon there are shared bordered around the Golan Heights.

Seventh, between Syria and Lebanon there are potential two zones (the northern Lebanese frontiers of Akkar, and the south-eastern Bekaa Valley with Shebaa Farms).

Eight, between Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Cyprus a free-trade zone in Cyprus would iron out differences and encourage maritime commerce.

What are the processes for initiating these free-trade zones?

After a period of three years of ironing out details and instituting regulations with special passports or identity cards for the inhabitants of the zones, then all the zones between two states can be merged.

It is only normal that contiguous zones common to three States could eventually be merged and a belt of uninterrupted contiguous zones would form the natural borders of the Middle East.

As was done in Europe, let commerce and industry form the basis for these zones, which should generate rational cooperative decisions for our future.

The concept of a free-zone is to creating a magnate cities, self-autonomous city, with laws and regulations agreed upon among the States.

Ultimately, an economic union could emerge, based on a set of procedures and processes that works, which form a firm ground to negotiating common interests, and disseminating common laws and regulations valid in the various lands.




December 2008

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