[Huang Peizhao, special correspondent of global times in Egypt and Syria, Qu Xiangyu, Li Xiaoding, Yuqing, Liu Yupeng] the shock wave of Beirut explosion is rushing to the political arena of Lebanon. Recently, a large number of Lebanon’s protestors took to the streets to express their dissatisfaction. “Your Lebanon is an attempt to untie the political knot Your Lebanon is full of sects and political parties… ” About a century ago, Gibran, who lived in the United States as a “proud man in the literary world of Lebanon”, had a deep insight into the sufferings suffered by Lebanon in the following 100 years: sectarian conflicts remained unchanged and various conflicts continued. Despite the long-standing end of the civil war, the political and economic order in Lebanon appears to be in the process of difficult reconstruction. Affected by the financial crisis and other factors, in recent years, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have planned for the “post oil era”. However, for Lebanon, which is lack of resources and has numerous sects, the room for maneuver is really limited. Some international scholars believe that due to the lack of a strong political group, the various factions in Lebanon can only constantly balance and rebalance.
as one of the birthplaces of Phoenician civilization, Lebanon is located at the transportation hub of the Mediterranean Sea. In history, the developed shipbuilding industry, maritime industry and commodity trade once made it rich and prosperous. But since modern times, the fate of Lebanon has become very bumpy. After the first World War, Lebanon was reduced to French rule. On November 22, 1943, Lebanon declared its independence and established the Republic of Lebanon. Two days after the explosion, French President Marco ó n visited Lebanon. The international media commented that “the largest local Christian Maronite is close to Paris culturally, and French is actually the second most widely used language after Arabic.”. This special relationship with Europe makes Lebanon more open to the Middle East countries, so it is also labeled with many labels, such as “Switzerland of the Middle East”, “little Paris of the East”, “financial center of the Middle East”, “media center of the Middle East”, etc.
in the Middle East media, Lebanon is often described as an “alternative” country with “mosaic” and diversified characteristics in politics, culture and religion. Lebanon covers an area of only 10000 square kilometers and has a population of more than 6 million. Among them, about 54% of the people in Lebanon believe in Islam, mainly Shiites and Sunnis, with Druze in a relatively small number; and about 46% believe in Christianity, including Maronites, Greek Orthodox, etc. In April 1975, the conflicts between the main religious sects in Lebanon intensified due to the distribution of state power, leading to civil war. In October 1989, the factions involved in the Civil War reached the Taif agreement in Saudi Arabia, redistributing political power.
but until now, the factors causing the long-term instability in Lebanon are still related to sectarian contradictions. Lebanon established a unique “sectarian decentralization system” when it became independent. According to the regulations, the president and commander-in-chief of the army were the Maronites, the prime minister was the Sunnis, the speaker of the parliament was the Shiite, and the chief of the general staff of the army was the Druze faction. The “mosaic puzzle” presented by the political ecology of Lebanon was initially considered to be suitable for the national conditions of Lebanon and “can prevent religious imbalance and excessive power of a certain party”. However, the “sectarian decentralization system” easily leads to the interests of the factions above the national interests, which has laid the root of disputes for Lebanon.
according to an article published recently by the associated press, Lebanon’s practice of “allocating” the highest official positions is likely to breed cronyism. Marwan muarsher, vice president of research at the Carnegie Endowment for international peace, believes that “one of the problems in Lebanon is that corruption has been democratized” and that “every sect has an economic industry under its control.”.
on August 3, the day before the big explosion in Beirut port, the Minister of foreign affairs and expatriates of Lebanon, nasief HiTi, submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Hassan diab, becoming the first cabinet minister to leave his post when the country was hit by the severe economic and financial crisis. The current government of Lebanon was formed on 21 January this year. HiTi believes that the government’s reform lacks motivation. The reason for his resignation is: “in view of the lack of effective will to promote the structural and comprehensive reform that has been urged at home and abroad, I have decided to resign I am in this position to serve the “boss” in Lebanon, but I have found several “bosses” with conflicting interests in our country. ”
an associated press report on August 3 said that “Lebanon, which is often on the edge of a cliff, is going to collapse” – under the problems of financial collapse, institutional destruction, inflation and the surge of poverty, Lebanon is heading for the critical point of collapse at a frightening speed. “As a once” model of diversity and resilience “in the Arab world, Lebanon may collapse Separation “.
“the instability of the political system is a long-term bottleneck for Lebanon’s development.” Egyptian political analyst Hussain told the global times on the 9th that Lebanon has been deeply involved in geopolitical disputes since its independence and has failed to establish a stable and efficient political system. On the issue of religious sects in Lebanon, Hussain said that on the one hand, the pluralistic characteristics of religious sects have made the country with a small area and population diversified in the fields of culture, art, education and journalism, but on the other hand, it has also led to the fragmentation of domestic politics and the establishment of interest groups, which makes it difficult to reconcile the contradictions formed. In addition, the deep involvement of external forces – western countries and some regional countries in Lebanon’s internal affairs has also made the internal political balance of Lebanon more delicate. In his view, although Lebanon has established an electoral system following the example of the west, elections have not brought about good governance. On the contrary, elections have become a tool for various forces to solidify their own interests and take advantage of the opportunity to “divide the fat”.
every time the internal political turmoil in Lebanon involves neighboring countries, the international media always emphasize that Iran is behind the scenes, and the Party of the current Sunni Prime Minister represents Saudi Arabia. For example, the Russian “news” reported on April 21 this year that the strategic interests of Saudi Arabia and Iran, two major regional powers, in Lebanon have not changed, which is one of the reasons for the country’s continuous instability.
and the US media recently analyzed that since the end of the civil war, Lebanon has suffered from Syria’s occupation, Israeli aggression, and round after round of sectarian struggle “The existence of a” proxy army “established in the era of strong Shiite lines against Israeli occupation has led the country to be trapped in the struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia for regional hegemony.
after the civil war, the people of Lebanon began to rebuild their homes, but the country’s industrial base was weak and the situation of underdeveloped agriculture remained unchanged. According to the data, up to 80% of the grain in Li relies on imports, and 90% of the wheat, the main raw material of pasta, is imported. Maha jessia, head of the Carnegie Center for the Middle East, regrets that “the long-term pillars of Lebanon – Commercial freedom and its role as a tourism and Financial Services Center – are losing their original middle class.”
for the past 15 years, Lebanon has always been in the eye of the storm in the Middle East. In February 2005, former Prime Minister Hariri of Lebanon was assassinated and killed, followed by the “Cedar Revolution”, the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, and the seizure of power by the anti Syrian faction. In 2006, a war broke out between Lebanon and Israel. The factional struggle in Lebanon remained unchanged. The assassination of officials occurred from time to time. In addition to the street bombing in Beirut, when the security situation in Lebanon was the most tense, international public opinion worried about “whether there will be another civil war in Lebanon and whether it will become another Iraq”. Syria fell into civil war in 2011, which led to millions of Syrian refugees entering Lebanon.
people who have visited Lebanon are nostalgic for the quiet and pleasant scenery there, and will pay attention to the changes that have taken place there quietly. Beirut used to be the financial center of the Middle East, where foreign exchange and gold were freely traded. A few years ago, a reporter from the global times went to Lebanon for an interview. When entering and leaving the country, there was little control over foreign exchange. In terms of payment links such as hotel reservation and market purchase, various currencies, such as US dollar, euro, and Lebanon pound, were used at the same time. However, since last year, the local administration of entry and exit began to strengthen foreign exchange control, and businesses in the market also insisted on collecting US dollars or euro in transactions. At the same time, the gap between the official exchange rate and the black market exchange rate is constantly widening, so banks have to introduce a number of measures to strengthen control. In October last year, a number of domestic import enterprises in Lebanon issued a joint statement, accusing local commercial banks of foreign exchange shortage leading to the devaluation of the Lebanon pound. Subsequently, many grain and fuel importers demanded payment in US dollars, which led to protests in the catering industry and gas stations. A mountain fire in autumn in the western region exposed the shortage of funds in Lebanon. The planes of the fire department even could not carry out fire fighting operations because of “lack of money”
according to the estimation of local financial institutions, Lebanon’s public debt accounts for 150% of GDP, ranking the third in the world, while the youth unemployment rate reaches 37%, and the overall unemployment rate is 25%. The long-term unrest also makes the society of Lebanon appear disorderly at times. “Global Times” reporter went to Beirut for a business trip in March last year. When he got out of the airport, he was pulled into a “black taxi” and was “slaughtered” in the city center. The normal price is only more than 10 US dollars.
a reporter from the global times visited Lebanon in May 2018 to cover parliamentary elections. Affected by the spillover of civil war in neighboring Syria, the election was postponed three times in 2013, 2014 and 2017. According to the reporter’s observation, the enthusiasm of the voters in Lebanon is not high, with a line of%, because some people think that “voting can not change anything”. French news station 24 commented at the time that the low turnout rate was due to people’s dissatisfaction with political elites and disappointment at the serious corruption and stagnation of economic development. It has been reported that Lebanon’s public infrastructure has never been systematically rebuilt in a real sense after the 1975-1990 civil war. The reporter stayed in the same hotel in Beirut many times, and every time he caught up with the power failure. The hotel manager explained: “it is reasonable to say that there are few people in Lebanon and the power consumption is not too large. On the whole, it should be enough. However, our poor management level leads to power failure. Fortunately, there are generators in the hotel, which can be used at any time. ”
Walid, 36, from Aleppo, Syria, and his family came to neighboring Lebanon in 2013 to avoid domestic war. What care laden Lebanese began novel coronavirus pneumonia in Beirut was that he was worried about the situation. He told the Global Times reporter on the telephone: “the deterioration of the economic situation and the impact of the new crown pneumonia epidemic situation have made Lebanon overwhelmed. No one knows what the sudden explosion will lead to the situation. The people in Lebanon around me are worried about a chain reaction, and the bigger crisis may have just begun. ”
a recent comment by Egypt’s “Dawn newspaper” also said: “Lebanon’s political arena is in a mess, various parties are increasingly inclined and fighting with each other, the economy is in a continuous downturn, unemployment and inflation remain high, and people’s dissatisfaction is increasing. Now some people want to use the port explosion to make a “square revolution” and ask the prime minister and the president to take the blame