The Hezbollah-Amal alliance, which with its enormous material resources (land, real estate, money, social institutions, weapons) is quite interested in preserving the existing system and, it seems, has no plans to listen to the demands of the demonstrators, writes Valdai Club expert Alexei Sarabyev.
The tragedy at the Port of Beirut rekindled protests that had brought the Lebanese people to the streets in October 2019. The point is not that people hadn’t started to live better; the explosion on August 4, 2020 cost over 150 people their lives and countless tens of thousands more their homes, dealing an equally forceful blow to the recession-hit national economy. It is viewed by many as evidence of the poor performance of the government formed in January, ostensibly as a government of technocrats unconnected with the corrupt system. In fact, the members of the government, according to their background, represent the political alliance of the ruling majority, and, being from different religious communities, they form a composition resembling the usual confessional quotas, the hallmark of the nation’s political system, where religious groups are represented proportionally.
In fact, the irritation of Lebanese citizens boils down to the fact that the politicians from the traditional clan-confessional parties have allowed themselves to completely neglect popular opinion. This could become fatal for the current national political arena. The authority of the parties has fallen sharply; the majority of Lebanese do not trust them. This is the case in spite of the fact that in a small country, everyone is somehow – directly or through business – connected with one political group or another. That is, very many are ready to sacrifice the established state of affairs in order to radically change the situation in society.
It is strange that an understanding of this critical dynamic is not noticeable among politicians engaged in political bargaining for portfolios in the envisaged future government.
This also applies to the current opposition, led by former prime minister Hariri, who is using every opportunity to discredit the ruling majority – from the colossal problems that the Cabinet of Hassan Diab cannot cope with, to the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is obsessed with punishing members of Hezbollah. This also applies to the Hezbollah-Amal alliance, which with its enormous material resources (land, real estate, money, social institutions, weapons) is quite interested in preserving the existing system and, it seems, has no plans to listen to the demands of the demonstrators.