This time is different

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The revolution may be leaderless for now but won’t be so forever.

by Elias Sakr -Source: Annahar

Anti-government protesters use fireworks against Lebanese riot police during a protest in the aftermath of last Tuesday’s massive explosion which devastated Beirut. (AP Photo)

220 victims and counting, thousands injured, and billions in estimated damages in just a matter of seconds. The official version: Around 2700 tons of ammonium nitrate that have been sitting for seven years at Beirut port fuelled a massive explosion that sent shockwaves through the capital and displaced thousands of families.

One week into this man-made humanitarian disaster, the Hezbollah-backed government of Hassan Diab resigned as thousands took to the streets to protest the catastrophe that capped decades of corruption and mismanagement, and provided, once again, evidence of Lebanon’s hijacked sovereignty.

The blast that ripped through the country’s major trade artery and one of the region’s busiest ports sent shockwaves around the world and mobilized the West to provide $300 million in emergency assistance to Lebanon within days; all while the Lebanese government failed to coordinate basic relief efforts and watched as volunteers from across Lebanon and the world rallied to help.

Diab, however, did not step down because his government failed to put in motion a crisis management plan and stopped short of providing millions of dollars in support for displaced families and damaged businesses.

His resignation followed remarks that he was ready to supervise early elections, which reportedly did not sit well with both his sponsors in the Hezbollah-led coalition and rival political parties.

The ruling class had reportedly heard from French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to Beirut that France supported the formation of a national unity cabinet tasked with reforming a dysfunctional system.

In fact, hours before Diab’s resignation, news started to leak over the potential formation of a national unity Cabinet led by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

The leaked reports may explain why the Future Movement, the Progressive Socialist Party, and the Lebanese Forces shelved plans of mass resignations from Parliament.

Probably, the very same parties that had secured the quorum for the parliamentary session that installed the Hezbollah-led Cabinet see today an opportunity to return to power on new terms with the Iranian-backed party.

But it may have escaped both coalitions that France and the international community’s opening is conditional on true reforms and an end to Hezbollah’s role as Iran’s military proxy in the region; which brings us back to the Beirut port explosion.

A blast that the US President labeled as a potential attack and several experts suggested involved more than just ammonium nitrate amid unsubstantiated reports of an Israeli attack, which Hezbollah was quick to dismiss.

But what if the explosion was the result of an Israeli attack? And what if Hezbollah pursues business as usual? Will a national unity cabinet protect Lebanon from becoming another scene of unclaimed Israeli strikes as is the case with Syria, Iraq, and Iran?

It may have also escaped opposition parties that a growing majority of Lebanese are not only holding them accountable for their negligence, incompetence, and corruption but for also providing political cover to Hezbollah through partisan deals that date back to the days of the Cedar Revolution which drove Bashar Assad’s regime out; deals that came at the expense of Lebanon’s sovereignty and nipped the 2005 revolution in the bud.

But this time is different. The October 17 revolution is alive and well, with thousands of Lebanese, both home and overseas, coming together in solidarity in the aftermath of the Beirut blast.

Make no mistake, we will hold those responsible accountable and reclaim our Lebanon. The revolution may be leaderless for now but won’t be so forever.

Kelloun Ye3ne Kelloun!

 

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