Can the resignation of the government solve the problems in Lebanon?

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 Can the resignation of the government solve the problems in Lebanon?


According to Lebanons 1989 Taif agreement, there are 128 members of Parliament, half of which are Christians and half are Muslims. In the two major sects, the proportion of members from different sects, such as Shia, Sunni and Maronite, is also clearly stipulated. It is expected that the new government will take three months to a maximum of one year.

In order to reshuffle the political arena in Lebanon, some politicians also called on members to resign in order to hold parliamentary elections ahead of schedule. To trigger parliamentary elections, at least 43 members need to resign. At present, only six members have announced their resignation.

However, it is difficult to change Lebanons highly fragmented sectarian political pattern and the resulting corruption problem whether it is re elected as prime minister or reshuffle of Parliament.

Since the beginning of the civil war in Lebanon, sectarian asylum networks have become an important part of society. After the war, the religious organizations and warlords that became bigger in the war quickly made up for the governments lack of basic services and established a huge network of forces.

Asylum seekers provide jobs, large-scale project contracts and other benefits for the asylum recipients of various sects through government power, so as to obtain political support.

In the civil society, intermediaries associated with asylum seekers can help ordinary people calm things and canvass for candidates supported by asylum seekers during elections.

The system of sectarian power sharing

According to the Convention, the president of Lebanon must be a Christian Maronite, the prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of the parliament must be a Shia Muslim. The president has more power than the prime minister. According to the population ratio at that time, the ratio of Christian and Muslim members in Parliament was 6:5.

This kind of system of sectarian power sharing seems fair, but in fact it strengthens the differences between sects and blocks the possibility of secularism participating in politics. Once some sects are marginalized, conflicts are inevitable.

After gaining independence, the demographic structure of Lebanon began to change, and the population of Muslims, especially Shiite Muslims, increased dramatically. The increase of Muslim population and the movement of Palestinian armed forces to Lebanon during the Palestinian Israeli conflict eventually led to the civil war in Lebanon in 1975. In order to end the civil war, the parties to the conflict in Lebanon reached the Taif agreement in 1989 in Taif, Saudi Arabia.

The agreement adjusted the previous sectarian power sharing system by adjusting the proportion of Christian and Muslim members in parliament to 5:5. In terms of power, the executive power of the president is transferred to the prime minister, and the president mainly plays a symbolic role.

In addition to readjusting the seats in parliament, the Taif agreement also set eliminating political sectarianism as a basic national goal. However, this goal has not yet been achieved. Political sectarianism is becoming more and more serious as various sects are busy consolidating their power.

The distribution of government posts according to religious sects and the religious sects only defend their own interests, resulting in frequent deadlock in the implementation of policies in Lebanon.

The most typical one was in the presidential election. From 2014 to 2016, the parliament of Lebanon had a lot of disputes about the choice of president. It was not until October 2016 that ORN was elected president, ending the deadlock of no president for nearly three years.

Sectarian asylum network

The sharing of sectarian power and the decline of state institutions in the post-war period have promoted the development of Lebanons sectarian asylum network. Take the Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon as an example. Hezbollah stood out in the civil war and the second Lebanon Israel war and became a stronger armed force than the government forces. In addition to its strong military strength, Hezbollah provides housing, education, health and other life support for Shiite residents.

Corruption and informal operations in the Middle East and North Africa points out that after the civil war, due to serious damage to infrastructure and the governments focus on reconstruction of the capital, Beirut, Hezbollah began to rebuild schools and agricultural centers in the South and Shiite areas.

From 1996 to 2001, Hezbollah invested nearly $14 million in financial aid and scholarships for Shiite students, higher than the governments investment in education support. Students who cant afford tuition can apply for scholarships. At the same time, Hezbollah has set up its own health department, which is responsible for the construction of affordable clinics in Shiite settlements. During the war with Israel in 2006, the clinics provided medicine and medical services free of charge.

After the 2006 war, Hezbollah provided compensation to Shiite people who lost their homes in the war, and invested $400 million in infrastructure reconstruction with Iranian funding. This series of operations weakened the role of state institutions, making Hizbullah an important patron of Lebanons sects and had a weight lifting influence on the political arena in Lebanon.

Hezbollah has been in parliament since 1992. In the 2018 parliamentary election, Hezbollah won 13 seats, while the political alliance led by the organization won 71 seats, accounting for the majority. It was Hizbullah who supported him. The former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005, and his family are important patrons of Sunnis and have close ties with Saudi Arabia and Western countries. The influence of the Hariri familys shelter network is mainly in northern Lebanon.

In the post Civil War reconstruction, most of the companies involved in the reconstruction were related to the Hariri family or came from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. Corruption in reconstruction and massive borrowing have been controversial issues in Lebanon.

In addition to corruption, politicians preoccupation with profiting from the forces they represent also impedes basic services.

In 2015, a garbage crisis broke out in Beirut, the capital city, and the garbage in the city center was left untreated for several months. This situation is caused by the fact that politicians and religious leaders want to hand over the garbage collection contract to their closely related companies, and each faction struggles with each other and cannot reach an agreement.

Lebanon ranks 137th out of 180 countries in Transparency Internationals global corruption index in 2019. The world bank points out that Lebanons sectarian asylum system causes 9% of the countrys GDP every year. Salafism in Lebanon points out that, among the people, asylum seekers can influence ordinary people through intermediaries. At the time of the parliamentary election, the patrons provide financial support to the middleman, who mobilizes the people to vote. The book takes a middle-income family in northern Lebanon as an example to illustrate the role of intermediaries. The family added a floor to their home without government permission, and the government later issued a $50000 fine.

To solve the fine, the family found a Salafi middleman who had contacts with large patrons in northern Tripoli, including then Prime Minister Mikati. After Mikatis assistant intervened, the problem of fine was solved quickly, and the family involved did not need to pay the fine.

(function(){( window.slotbydup=window .slotbydup||[]).push({id:u5811557,container:ssp_ 5811557, async:true }In exchange, the middleman successfully mobilized the voters including the family during the parliamentary election. Nadim Houry, executive chairman of the Arab Reform Initiative group, a think-tank, said in an interview with NPR that corruption has become part of the DNA of Lebanons political system due to asylum networks and sectarian power sharing. At present, no official in Lebanon is not affected by sectarian asylum networks, hori said. And these sheltered networks are ultimately serving the oligarchs, who pretend to represent the interests of religious sects and actually seek profits for themselves. He believes that if Lebanon really wants to see changes, it should amend its electoral law to allow more non sectarian political groups, such as secularists and independents, to participate in the election. But even in exceptional cases, the process will take at least five to six years. Source: interface news Author: An Jing, editor in charge: Kang Ruixin_ NB16727

In exchange, the middleman successfully mobilized voters, including the family, during the parliamentary election. Nadim Houry, executive chairman of the Arab Reform Initiative group, a think-tank, said in an interview with NPR that corruption has become part of the DNA of Lebanons political system due to asylum networks and sectarian power sharing.

At present, no official in Lebanon is not affected by sectarian asylum networks, hori said. And these sheltered networks are ultimately serving the oligarchs, who pretend to represent the interests of religious sects and actually seek profits for themselves.

He believes that if Lebanon really wants to see changes, it should amend its electoral law to allow more non sectarian political groups, such as secularists and independents, to participate in the election.

But even in exceptional cases, the process will take at least five to six years.