Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lebanon update: the morning after

So the day of anger called by the Future Movement has ended, and the country has entered a new phase with the appointment of Mikati as prime minister. 

First about the street demonstrations: as comrade Asa`ad put it (I am paraphrasing) Elsewhere in the Arab World, they demonstrate for freedom and in Lebanon they demonstrate for the sectarian leader. And indeed this is what went on. In Tripoli, a few thousand people collected from the city and the surrounding regions and brought in uses and probably paid by the Future movement went on a rampage: they burned the Al Jazira car and equipment and forced reporters from various agencies to hide in a building which they later on set on fire. The intervention of the army saved the journalists from being torched alive. During the same time, Future movement leaders where haranguing the crowd with super sectarian slogans, and working it into a state of frenzy. But this should not be surprising: In 2008, people from the same region, led by the same leaders cold bloodedly assassinated patients in a hospital because they belonged to the wrong party/religion. The murderers went unpunished. 

At one point yesterday Hariri came on TV and apologized for the rampage but did not ask people to get out of the street, so it went on. Shots were fired in Beirut and the army was pelted with stones. But on TV one could see that the demonstrators were just a handful, setting old tires on fire in the streets adjacent to their neighborhood, where they were confronting no one.

Then Mikati came on TV and said that he had accepted the appointment and that he will seek the participation of Hariri in the government and will visit him soon. 

Yesterday's events exposed the ugly face of the Future Movement and on the March 14 coalition: a small group of western-dressed neo-cons suavely wielding the most despicable sectarian discourse in order to control masses of poor people they themselves contribute to keeping in poverty, and whom they only remember when they need to pit them against another sect. For these people, humans are just numbers, both economically and politically. 

What is to be expected now? Lebanon will probably pull out from the International Tribunal, which will cease being a tool for destroying the Resistance. While the Tribunal will proceed, it will not have Lebanon's support for now. Israel and the US and Western European regimes suffer another blow here, after the liberation of the south in 2000, the war in 2006, this will be the third time the Resistance and Hizbullah prevail. But this next government must work on bringing together sunnis and shi`a as this sectarian division only serves the US and Israel. So far, and in spite of the "anger", the level of participation of people in the protests does not indicate overwhelming sunni support for Hariri's sulking and sectarianism. The choice of Mikati was very astute, and the fact that other sunni MPs have named him act in his favor. The economic situation is also tense (because of the Hariri group's outrageous neo-liberal agenda) and people are reluctant to stop working and lose income in order to keep a rich kid on his dad's seat. So I don't think we'll see mass protests.

On the more mundane level, Mikati immediately declared his commitment to a "free economy". We're not seeing a socially oriented government any time soon...


Zeraik said...

Pointing now the finger accusing the sunnis to be sectarian while hezbolah have being doing this all the time is classic delusion. when the shia goes to the streets and kill people it is considered to be spontaneous but not the other way around. If you are a Shia yourself and make post like this you are more sectarian then those you accuse now.

Alberto Zeraik

Rami Zurayk said...

@ Zeraik

I don't usually respond to comments like these but I will make an exception in this case.

1. Nowhere did I accuse the sunnis of anything. I wrote about the Future movement and march 14. Please read with your eyes not with your sectarian sensor.

2. There were only FM goons rampaging in the streets yesterday. Should i have made up some other violence in order to keep the balance?

3. What I wrote does not in anyway imply that there are no goons and thugs among the march 8 supporters. I have written about this in previous posts when it was relevant. find them before you point an accusatory finger.

4. So you mean that accusing the sunnis en masse is only sectarian when it is a shi`a who is doing it? So if a christian accused the sunnis s/he wouldn't be sectarian? weird logic. How about if it was an atheist?