No way out for Lebanon from crisis without a new social and political contract!

Wed, 09/04/2013

Lebanonwitnessed during the past weeks degradation in the security situation marked by a chain of explosions that hit the Southern Suburbs and Tripoli, resulting in more than 70 dead and 800 wounded. For Lebanon, this is not exceptional news, but rather the manifestation of sliding instability, the general deterioration of the overall situation in the country, and the reemergence of climates similar to those that preceded the outbreak of Lebanese civil war in 1975.
 
As usual, political and civil society figures, from all political spectrums, were quick in denouncing the explosions. Their denunciations were accompanied by accusations and counter accusations that further exasperated divisions among the Lebanese and deepened confessional and local polarizations. The media and television largely contributed to reinforcing such a highly tense climate, in which Lebanese citizens can only be the main losers.  
 
Rather than assuming full responsibility, through taking into their hand the control of the security situation, especially in those areas affected by violence, and providing immediate assistance from relief to rehabilitation, government authorities, to the contrary, were slow in responding, allowing for private and local security actions by political originations. One can observe a similar situation, when considering the actions and performance of the civil defense and the Higher Agency for Relief. Thus, poor government reaction created the context for local political forces to step in and implement various security measures such as setting up of inspection checkpoints, conducting neighborhood/regional patrols and watch, the checking of citizens’ cars, etc….
 
For their part civil organisations, went into action, surveying damages, providing relief support and emergency care. The following are examples of some of these initiatives:
·        In the southern suburb, various CSOs that are affiliated to particular local political parties conducted surveys of damages inflicted by the explosion in preparation to channeling financial compensations, other forms of aid and the provision of temporary shelters.
·        In Tripoli, local youth, and civil society groups organized a solidarity march, raising banners, calling for peace and rejecting violence and civil strife. Also, CSOs placed pressures on the Higher Agency for Relief to accelerate the provision of necessary aid, and contributed towards reducing the burden of the explosions on the citizens.
 
Though these civil society initiatives are undoubtedly commendable in their attempts to address the social problems at hand, their approach can only be considered as piece-meal and, in many instances motivated by narrow political and confessional considerations. These social actions underline once more the poor performance of public institutions which are riddled with political conflicts.
    
The hardships which Lebanese citizens are subjected to do not only stem from the performance of the Higher Agency for Relief, or those of the security or judicial institutions, etc.. These hardships have a much deeper causes that are largely rooted in the nature of the Lebanese system itself. The present dire situation that citizens are forced to endure, can be traced to confessional system (in its political and social forms), which succeeded in surviving for so many years, and has eroded the authority of the State, causing continuing instability and insecurity. This crisis situation will undoubtedly remain until Lebanese citizens both men and women agree to a new social and political contract that will guarantee their rights as citizens to social justice and equality.