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What Social and Political System?  What Electoral System after the withdrawal of Syrian troops?

Written in Dec. 5, 2004

Note:  This article was written a year before the Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon as the international squeeze on mandated Syria was on to vacate Lebanon.

The dialogue on “what Lebanon we want for after the Syrian withdrawal” is still not serious and very superficial.

There are nowadays heated discussions about the parliamentary laws for the coming election in April and the heavy interference of the Syrian intelligence services in our internal affairs.

The coalitions of pro and con the current political orientations of the government in Lebanon have missed their targets.

Their political programs are non existent. Their political discourses are plagued by coded insinuations of pure sectarianism and a coward evasion to face the requisites of the future.  The society has made a full circle to where it was before the civil war.

The only differences are that:

1) the Muslim bourgeoisies (Sunni and Shia) have captured a sizeable share of the economy compared to the overwhelming monopoly of the Christian, especially the Maronite, bourgeoisie and

2) the polarization of the citizens into sectarian enclaves is almost complete throughout the land.

How the retreat of the Syrian forces from Lebanon would change this stagnant social fabric if we are still apprehensive of asking the right questions?

What forces would replace the Syrian forces to ensure law and order if there are no communication among the political parties?

How the Lebanese citizens could ever fall again into the trap that foreign powers could guaranty a long lasting stable political system that satisfies the interest of all the citizens?

We all know that the Lebanese Army (soldiers and officers) is old and still is no match to the entrenched militias who have been governing ever since the Taif agreement.

If Lebanon is to experience a profound and lasting rebirth, drastic political reforms have to be discussed at all levels in the society.

These reforms should attack the fundamentals of a civilized society, mainly a new Constitution and the clipping of the sectarian powers that is insidious in every phase of the citizen life and status.

What I propose is an alternative that would make digging of trenches a worthwhile endeavor if no rational responses are offered for a compromise.

I will develop two facets of Lebanon in the future:

First, the fundamental internal changes needed in the Constitution and

Second, the 4 political problems that are dividing the Lebanese society:  Mainly the presence of the governments with all its institutions in the South, the disarming of the Palestinian camps, the dismantling of all the armed militias, including Hezbollah and obviously, the withdrawal of the Syrian troops and its intelligence services.

The Constitutional acts to be discussed are as follow:

1) Half the parliament members should be represented by the female sex in accordance with the spirit of a true democratic representation.

The rationales: Women are more than half the population and their intrinsic problems are more intimately understood by them as well as their solutions. They will be the guarantee that their rights are fully considered, applied and secured.

2)   Election laws should be revisited.

Everyone who voted twice in any general election, municipality or parliament, and who can read and write in the Arabic language should be eligible to be a candidate. No fees should be attached to the application for candidature in order for the election to be for the people and by the people.

The minimum age for voting should be 18 so that new spirits and demands become major factors in political programs.

3)   Part of the parliament members should be elected on the basis of individual departments that would guarantee the fair representation of all religious sects.

The rationales: Electoral districts should include between 15,000 and 25,000 voters and a male and a woman deputy elected. This system might prevent unknown candidates to win by taking advantage of the notoriety of the other candidates on the list.

Also, this system will insure the representation of all sects implicitly and save the Constitution to be discredited by explicitly requiring that Christians and Muslims be equally represented.

Part of the parliament members should be elected on political party lines and syndicated affiliations and on the proportional basis.

The rationales: The political life in Lebanon is almost non existent because the political parties have been weakened and sidelined after the civil war. There is a strong link between the immigration of the youth and the political void that excludes them from expressing their dreams and their needs of varied opportunities.

I suggest that the election law allows voters to select two political parties so that part of the members should represent the political parties that come second in the ballot boxes. The second choices should be among parties that are non sectarian historically or have proven to include other religious affiliations in their membership.

The rationales: The non sectarian political parties should also be included in the first choice list of parties.  The second choice is important so that sectarian parties would embark on programs that would promote them to be acceptable by many more than one sect.

Everyone of the 18 officially recognized religious sects should be represented by one member in the parliament.

The rationales: It is becoming urgent that responsible and legitimate discussions on religious differences be aired to the public and how these different values might be affecting the interests of all citizens..

Decentralization and autonomy of the districts in the administration and financial spending on projects and programs so that competition heighten performance and efficiency.

The rationales: Many ministries have to be eliminated and decentralized so that communities start enjoying the benefits of the concept of subsidiaries.

Ministries like Youth, Sport, Tourism and Communication (Propaganda)…should be dismantled and regrouped within the administration of the districts (Mohafazat) and a post of a general counsel, for each one of these ministries, attached to the Prime Minister, has to be created in order to coordinate and harmonize among the administrations of the districts.

The districts have to keep three quarter of the tax revenue without the need to be redistributed by the Ministry of Finance at later date, if ever. I suggest that Lebanon should be divided into only 3 districts having a continuous link from the sea to the Bekaa Valley, direction west/east.

Beirut should NOT have a special status since all the central administrations are located in the Capital and would enjoy the expenditures of the central government anyway.

Competition for performance and attraction of investments would drive these districts into steady growth in all fields.

The Mohafazat should enjoy their seaports, local airports and equal number of citizens and land size. The local airports should service the internal requirements, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, and Cyprus.

Election of the administrative bodies of the Mohafazat should take place with the elections of municipalities.

The Northern and Southern regions should retain three quarter of the tax revenue for 4 years, because they were denied serious budget investment since Independence, the middle region two third and Beirut a third. These proportions should be revisited on the fourth year to establish an equitable balance.

As working examples, the North region might include the departments (Cadaa) of Batroun all the way to the northern borders of Lebanon with Syria and the Bekaa and Hermil to the East;

The South region might include the departments of Shouf in the north all the way to the southern borders of Lebanon and the Hasbaya and Rashaya in the East.

The Middle region might include the departments of Jbeil in the north, Aley in the South and Zahle and middle Bekaa in the East all the way to the eastern borders..

Civil marriage should be the law of the land.  Providing options outside the civil law is tantamount of increasing the power of the religious sects by their effective means of rendering the law virtually weak and inexistent

All marital rights and responsibilities, like heritage, divorce, adoptions and so forth should be governed by civil laws.

The rationales: It is about time that sectarian powers to our everyday life are reduced to their bare minimum and allowing the citizens to mingle, communicate freely and do commerce freely among them.

The President of the Republic should be elected by the people for 4 years with the option of being reelected for another single term.

The rationales: It is of paramount importance to curb this vicious cycle of making a mockery of the Constitution every six years in order to prolong the term of the President. A four years term with option for another full term would give strong incentives for the President to perform in order to be reelected for a second term. Personally, I would encourage the citizens to desist in re-electing a President for a second term.

The 3 highest political positions President, Prime Minister and Parliament head must be rotated according to their religious sect (Maronite/Christian, Sunni and Shia) every 8 years.

This rotational arrangement will be the best catalyst for thinking out a fairer Constitution and restructuring the rights and responsibilities of the highest political personalities

Ambassadors Extraordinary should be appointed in Beirut and Damascus.

General Commissioners for the inter commerce and common policies should be attached to the Prime Ministers in Beirut and Damascus.

They are exhausting: Legitimate, Temporary, and Necessary. And all are faked terms

Note: Re-edit of “Legitimate, Temporary, and Necessary. June 5, 2009″

It is the temporary term that is the most frustrating: it means for ever.

And basically, nothing was legitimate since the “independence” of this pseudo-State in 1943.

 On June 7, 2009, the Lebanese will vote for a new Parliament.

Two groups of citizens will vote; the group constituted of the patriotic, secular, and reformists and the group of an amalgam of confessionals, feudalists, isolationists, statue quo,  and “colonial minded” mentalities.

The “colonial minded” citizens follow leaders who invariably rely on foreign interventions to balance a broken alliance among confessional castes system and perpetrate the conditions for weak central governments.

A brief current history might elucidate this drastic splitting among the Lebanese citizens. I

n May 24, 2000, Ehud Barak PM of Israel withdrew from most of south Lebanon with no preconditions, the first ever in Israel 61 years history of colonial implantation in our midst.

The joint strategy of Lebanon President Lahoud and Bashar Assad of Syria enabled Hezbollah a resounding victory.

The Arab League decided to hold its annual meeting in Beirut in August 2002 as a good gesture for its acknowledgment of the victory in 2000 of this tiny State.

In 2003, Syria had plans for partial withdrawal to the Bekaa Valley but the vehement rhetoric from the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and the Patriarch of the Maronite Christian sect slowed down the execution process.

Before the assassination of late Rafic Hariri in February 14, 2005 the Bush Jr. Administration and Jacque Chirac of France issued the UN resolution 1559 for the retreat of the Syrian forces from Lebanon and the dismantling of Hezbollah’s military wing and the return of its heavy armament.

The withdrawal of the Syrian troops was not the main objective because the international community and the main “Arabic” States wanted and kept high hopes that Syria will ultimately be pressured to do the dirty work of taming Hezbollah.

The Syrian government factored in many variables to oppose the frequent lures and pressures of what is expected of her to do in order to remain in Lebanon.

The targeting Rafic Hariri for assassination by the US, France, Saudi Arabia, and mainly Israel was not one of the variables considered and Syria strategy was shaken violently.

In fact, Rafic Hariri received so many encouragements and acted in such confidence that the Syrian government forgot to contemplate such an evil and drastic eventuality by foreign colonial powers.

The mass demonstration on February 14 was not a threat to Syria; General Aoun was still in exile in France and was pressured by the French government Not to return to Lebanon.

What Syria comprehended the loudest was the mass demonstration by Hezbollah on March 8, 2005.  Hezbollah thanked Syria for its sacrifices, which meant “Now it is time for your complete withdrawal

Hezbollah was always nervous of the Syrian presence in Lebanon because it was the only power capable of restraining its activities.

Hezbollah was sending the message to Bashar Assad “We can take care of ourselves and still continue the resistance against Israel if you definitely put an end to the international pressures for getting out of Lebanon”

The mass demonstration in March 14, fortified by the supporters of General Aoun (The Tayyar Horr), was not even a threat to Syria.  It was the realization of Syria that its continued presence in Lebanon will ultimately confront its army directly as the Lebanese government lost control over events and cowered under uncertainties.

Syria withdrew quickly to the frustration of the US and France who realized that they wasted Hariri for naught: Hariri could still be of great benefit to their policies in the Middle East region alive rather than dead.

The International Community, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia had to fall back to plan B: rekindling the civil war in Lebanon.  They initiated a series of bombing in Christian quarters hoping that the Christian will side en mass with the Sunni/Hariri clan.  Plan B petered.

Israel/Saudi Kingdom came back with more vigorous scare tactics by assassinating Christian personalities.  Samir Kassir, George Hawi, and Jubran Tweiny were marked as potentially Not reliable allies and could shift sides because they were independent minded and honest characters.

This wave of select assassination backfired because General Aoun signed a pact with Hezbollah and de-activated a potential civil war targeting the Christians.

Plan C also failed and civil war did not flare out.

Thus, direct intervention from outside was considered and Israel trained its forces for incursion into Lebanon with the US total aids and support in all phases.

Hezbollah, intentionally or by coincidence, preempted the completion of the plan in June 12, 2006.  Israel launched its offensive for 33 days and failed miserably in all the goals.  The attack backfired and the stature of Hezbollah ballooned and overflowed to all the Arab and Muslim populations.

The International Community, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia did not desist.

Plan D was to re-enforce the Sunnis with a military wing of extremist salafists called “Jund Al Sham” and financed by Bandar Bib Sultan of Saudi Arabia.

In the summer of 2007, a few ignorant and violent Sunni extremists preempted the timing by slaughtering Lebanese soldiers; the army pride and dignity reacted with an all out attack and crushed this insurrection in Nahr Al Bared Palestinian camp after many months and many martyrs.

The International Community, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia studied for two years to dismantle Hezbollah secured communication lines and to start a mini civil war in Beirut between the Shia and Sunnis.

Plan E backfired again on May 8, 2008 as Hezbollah occupied all the Israeli secret intelligence centers in Beirut, as well as the quarters of the so-called security organizations.

The Lebanese leaders had to meet in Dawha and agree on the election of a President to the Republic, an election law for Parliament, and the constitution of a national government.

Lebanon has suffered for 4 years of an incompetent and illegitimate government; the Lebanese lived in a totally insecure political vacuum; the economy was farmed out to the size of the Hariri clan and the financial debt skyrocketed to $60 billions.

This “political” debt is intended to pressure the Lebanese government into accepting the settling of the 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in return for debt cancellation.

We need to compare 4 categories of leaders along the two dimensions of principled leaders and pragmatists.

In the dimension of principled leaders we can discriminate the hate monger isolationist leaders versus the principled for the public and State good.

In the pragmatic dimension we have the individual interest oriented and the public/State pragmatists.

For example: Walid Jumblatt, Marwan Hamadeh, Amine Gemayel, Samir Geagea, and the Patriarch of the Christian Maronite sect can be categorized in the isolationist, confessional, and personal minded leaders.

Ex-President Emile Lahoud, General Michel Aoun, Hassan Nasrallah and the ancient secular parties (Communists and Syria National Social Party) could be classified as the principled and public/State object oriented pragmatists.

The classification of the remainder of the semi-leaders I leave it to the readers as exercises.

The Mufti of Beirut is a non entity: he is the bugle of Saad Hariri.  Saad Hariri is a non entity: he re-edited the slogan of the chairman of General Motors to say “What is good for the Saudi Monarchs is good for Lebanon”.  General Motors has declared bankruptcy; the Hariri/Seniora clan will declare bankruptcy on June 8, 2009.

With the exception of General Aoun who refused any kind of occupations, all leaders welcomed the mandate of Syria for 20 years; they kept repeating the mantra “The presence of Syria in Lebanon is “Legitimate, Temporary, and Necessary”.

Marwan Hamadeh and all the actual ministers were the ones repeating this mantra to the nauseating public for 20 years.

The Maronite Patriarch Sfeir was against the Syrian presence but was pretty cool regarding Israel’s occupation.

The members of the Seniora PM government did not voice out their refusal of Israel’s occupation of part of south Lebanon and constantly conspired to weaken the resistance forces against the Israeli occupiers on the basis that only international diplomacy can pressure Israel!

Only President Lahoud stood steadfast with Hezbollah and refused to deploy the army in areas of the resistance’s operations.

Thanks to Hassan Nasrallah and President Lahoud Lebanon managed to secure its integrity and unify its army.  Thanks to Hassan Nasr Allah and General Michel Aoun Lebanon buried any likelihood for the resurgence of a civil war.

My spirit went to statesman General Aoun who said once the Syrian troops crossed the borders “Syria is now out of Lebanon.  I have no qualms with Syria anymore. This is the time to open a new page in our relations”.

This position stands in contrast to those who begged Syria for crumbs and privileges for 20 years and once Syria withdrew they refrained from normalizing relations with Syria; the fictitious excuses to antagonize Syria were dictated by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.  What kind of state leadership is that?

The election results of June 7, 2009 should fortify Lebanon as a Nation and project the image of a solid central government with serious reforms and changes to the archaic political system.

That are my wishes but I know the struggle will be long and protracted.  Sweet revolutions need time to mature in this diversified Lebanon.

Note: All parliament elections in Lebanon bring in sectarian and feudal candidate. In 2020, Lebanese were left with a totally bankrupt State economically and financially. We are to suffer many years of “famine” conditions and no realistic hope in the future for any change or economic development.

In hindsight: “What could have happened if Beshir Gemayel was not assassinated in 1982?”

Beshir Gemayel was assassinated on Sept. 14, 1982 along with scores of other people who came to the meeting in Achrafieh.  Beshir was elected President of Lebanon under the bayonets of the Israeli army that occupied the Capital Beirut. He was to officially take on his duties the next day as President.

On April 13, 1975, the civil war started in Lebanon and lasted 18 years: It was a Palm Sunday. This year Palm Sunday was on April 13, and even the people in the second largest city of Tripoli celebrated in the streets, after 20 street battles last year.

This coincidence got me into thinking:

“what could have happened if Beshir Gemmayel was not assassinated in September 14, 1982, a single day before the official ceremony inducting him as President of the Republic of Lebanon?”

What if he governed for at least a year before being assassinated?

Probably:

1. Israel would not have entered West Beirut and sacked the city and stole all kinds of documents and artifacts…

2. The genocide in the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Chatila might Not have taken place. Over 3,000 elder people and children (Palestinians and Lebanese) were slaughtered in 2 nights, under the watch of a Lebanese army stationed in the nearby and claiming to be helpless.

3. Israel would have retreated to the 40 km “buffer zone” in the south, far quicker than it did, after the fighters of the Palestinian Resistance Movement (PLO) were evacuated from Lebanon.

4. The massacres in the Chouf province between the Christians and the Druze would not have happened (Samir Geaja and his militias The Lebanese Forces entered the Chouf at the instigation of Israel)

4. The massacres in East Saida between the Christians and the Sunnis would have been spared (Samir Geaja militias entered the Saida province at the instigation of Israel)

5. The thousands of new Christian refugees to the Christian canton would not have fled their towns and villages, at least not in such a hurry

6. The division of Lebanon into sectarian cantons would have been slower in the formation

7. The regular army would have assisted the UN forces in the south and the militias associated with Israel would have been disbanded.

8. A “peace treaty” with Israel would have been ratified with better terms than what was written during Amine Gemmayel tenure, and which failed to be ratified any way.

9. The Syrian troops would have stayed in the Bekaa Valley and refrained from approaching Beirut.

10. The sieges and massacres perpetrated against the Palestinian camps by the Amal militias of Nabih Berry (instigated by Syria) would have been delayed, at least.

11. The civil war would have taken another turn and saved Lebanon further deeper chasm among the sectarian forces

12. The Druze militias of Walid Jumblat would not have invested Mazra3a in Beirut with their tanks

13. Amine Gemmayel would not have been elected president and the Lebanese currency would not have devalued quickly to 1,500 times less

14. The second largest city of Tripoli would not have turned extremist Islamist, and the secular parties of the Communists and Syrian National Social would have retained stronger presence in that city

15. Yasser Arafat might not have returned to Tripoli and re-armed the Palestinian camps and cause thousands to be killed during two months of siege.

16. And most likely, Samir Geaja would not have ended up leader of the Lebanese Forces militia and left trails of calamities for the Christian population everywhere he got engaged militarily

In hindsight, which governments or political organizations were behind the planning of the assassination of Bashir Gemmayel? Israel, Syria, the Palestinian Resistance, any of the Lebanese resistance factions… All of them had a reason for this assassination

Mind you that Islamic Iran was engaged in a protracted war with Iraq of Saddam Hussein that lasted 9 long years of savage fighting.  The cease fire for that war was decided by Ayatolla Khomeini as he learned that he had a few months to live: He decided to extend a survival breathing space for his Islamic regime that was on the verge of collapse.

Question: Would Hezbollah be created?

Yes.

1. Hezbollah would have been instituted simply because the question of Palestine opens the door wide to Islamist Iran to tamper with our internal affairs. The peace treaty would have been an excellent excuse to rally the Shiaa around Iran positions.

2. The frequent tampering of Israel in South Lebanon would have inevitably alienated the Shiaa against the Israeli occupiers.

Note 1: In hindsight, the administrative institutions would have been re-structured and a semblance of a State re-constituted for a while, instead of the current militia/mafia political system

Note 2: Most probably, the Lebanese based “Syria National Social Party” took seriously the decision of Bashir to target their members and responded in kind.

Note 3: Israel tasted the spirit of resistance of the National coalition to any invaders and occupiers of Lebanon, after the Shiaa in the south welcomed Israel army with rice and flowers to get rid of the Palestinian “resistance” forces of Arafat. Arafat didn’t care of fighting Israel: He was content on settling in Lebanon and control it politically. This warmonger Sharon aided the Lebanese of ridding them from a Palestinian army and helped us breath more freely.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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