Adonis Diaries

Lebanon: An improbable Statehood in the making

Posted on: December 23, 2008

Lebanon: An improbable Statehood in the making (Part 1, February 19, 2008)

 

Note: I had this large file; I split it in smaller specialized topics. Thus, I created another category called “Lebanon/Middle East”.  I divided the large articles into parts of less than 1500 words after re-editing and attaching notes for current events.

 

                        Lebanon has been mentioned countless times in the ancient stories of the Jewish Bible as the land of milk and honey and snow covered majestic mountains (thus its name) and of cedars, pine and oak trees. Lebanon has been described for its skilled inhabitants and sea faring mariners and commercial ingenuity by establishing trading counters around the Mediterranean Sea.  Lebanon is recognized as a formal States in the UN since its inception in 1946 at the sessions in San Francisco after the end of WWII; its delegate participated in the writing of the UN charter and the Human Rights.  Lebanon snatched its independence from the colonial mandated France in 1943 with a big help from Britain.  The last French troops vacated this land in 1946.  Still the Lebanese are lacking the definitive belief in a motherland.

                        Lebanon is surely a good place for leisure time and a vacationing location for its immigrants; many families that can afford to leave for greener pastures are not overly disturbed of not returning definitively.  Most Lebanese have not participated as a “Nation” to defend the land of aggressors and to preserving its unity.  After over 65 years of nominal independence the political system has failed miserably to convince the Lebanese that prospect for security and lasting development is feasible.

                        The main problem is that we have 19 officially recognized castes, closed sects, with autonomous personal status legal systems, associated with each respective sect.  Thus, the Lebanese citizen is practically a member of a caste from birth to death whether he likes it or not.  The political system has followed this caste structure and allocated the civil service positions, and in the highest levels, according to tacit agreements. A strict quota define what level and which function a citizen can attain and the number of deputies in the Parliament and ministers in the government according to a structured quota relative to the hierarchy of the caste after each civil war.

                        Members of a caste have realized that services could be obtained through the leadership of their caste and not from a central government or legal rights.

 

                        There are large sections among the citizens who have leftist tendencies, such as Marxists, progressives and seculars.  The main two political secular parties are comprised of members from all castes; they would like to establish reforms to the political system. Thus, the following harsh criticisms are not targeting individuals but the social structure in general.  Unfortunately, I had to adopt sectarian terminology in order to get the point through as clearly and as simply as feasible.

                        The Druze sect located mainly in the Chouf district and part of the Bekaa Valley that borders the Golan Height was originally a Shiaa sect affiliated to the Fatimid dynasty in Egypt around the 13th century.  When we mention Shiaa it is meant a sect among other sects that refused to abide by the Moslem Sunni sect that paid allegiance to a Caliphate not directly descending from the Prophet Mohammad.  After the demise of the Fatimid dynasty the Druze were harshly persecuted and they opted to close the membership in order to discourage serious infiltrations to their sect.  They admonished their members to have two positions, one that would satisfy the power to be and another of a more intimate belief system.  For example, Walid Jumblat is a typical Druze leader with two-faced messages and ready to change his political position when opportunities of allying to the strongest power materialize. In general, the Druze sect is suspicious and even hates every sect bordering their location of concentration.  They have practically allied to anyone that might weaken the political and economic status of their neighboring sects.  The Druze is the only citizen who recognizes that he belongs to a caste, a closed religious sect, where no outside believers can be accepted and none of the members scratched from the register. This is a dying sect that failed to open up and comprehend or assimilate the notion of belonging to a larger community or nation to unite with.

                        The Moslem Sunni sect is even worse than the Druze because it has been functioning as a caste since independence but not acknowledging it.  The Sunni sect has nothing in its religion to prevent it from opening up and uniting with other sects under one nation. It has enjoyed supreme privileges as the main caste during the Ottoman Sunni Empire and had the opportunities to concentrate in the main cities on the littoral and also to trade and communicate with foreigners and other sects but it opted to hide in its shell and stave off changes and reforms.  Foreign travelers and many accounts have revealed that nobody could rent in a Sunni house or has been invited inside their lodging. Only Sunni males were seen outside doing business; women were never seen outside their domiciles. Man reached the moon but the Sunni caste has yet to acknowledge this achievement.

                        The leaders of the Sunni caste agreed in the National Pact, right after independence, to share power with the Christian Maronite sect but they kept vigilant to continuously allying with the most powerful Sunny Arab State of the moment.  The civil wars of 1958 and then 1975 started in order to regain hegemony over the Maronite political privileges in the new political system.  The Sunni sect has allies with the monarchies in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Sunni State of Egypt and it frequently takes positions with Arab foreign powers at the detriment of national unity.  In general, the Sunni still hope for a return to a Caliphate reign and support all kinds of Sunni fundamentalists and salafists.  This caste is very adamant in proscribing matrimonial relationship outside its caste.

             The Maronite sect was very open for centuries and was the main religion that established roots in the Druze canton because the feudal Druze landlords needed the Maronite peasants to work their hard lands.  In 1860 a bloody civil war broke out in the Druze canton and thousands of Maronites were massacred.  When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, it encouraged the Christian Lebanese Forces to entertain military presence in the Druze canton.  As the Israeli forces vacated the Chouf region then the Druze feudal lord Walid Jumblat asked the aid of the Palestinian factions at the orders of the Syrian regime and he systematically slaughtered the Maronites and thus, drove the Christians out of the Druze canton and back to their original cantons of centuries back. 

            Since 1990, the government allocated over two billion dollars to repatriate the Christians to the Chouf and only 15% returned; there is no accountability in which black hole all that money was siphoned in. The Maronite adopted the closed sect system when agreeing to the National Pact and it is extremely difficult for non-Christians to join this sect.

           

            The Shia Moslem sect is currently the most numerous but it was not so when Lebanon got its independence and it was not centralized to effect any political changes. The feud between the Shiaa and the Sunny is historically and fundamentally a clan warfare between the Muslims who demand the Caliphate to be a direct descended to the Prophet and those who don’t mind as long as the Caliphate is from the Kureich family, mainly Hashem or Ummaya or whatever.

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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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