This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Failure of Lebanese Power-Sharing

"Is it reasonable that a country in the world cannot find a solution to its garbage crisis?"
"The crisis only exists in Lebanon, and the reason is that there is a crisis of splitting shares and the presence of greed and rottenness inside state institutions. The state is too weak to be able to address a garbage crisis."
"[Certain political parties in the government are asking the people to grant them] an authorization for deciding war and peace with the Israeli enemy."
"If you can’t resolve a waste crisis, how will you be able to resolve a war crisis or to confront the enemy that is backed by all countries in the world?"
MP Mohammad Raad, head, Hezbollah’s Loyalty to the Resistance parliamentary bloc

"We are ruled by corrupt losers. All of them -- warlords, legislators and ministers -- are working for their own interest and not those of the people"
"The will of the people will eventually succeed no matter how long it takes."
Nada Qadoura, Lebanese retiree, protester
A Lebanese protester holds a national flag during clashes with security forces following a demonstration against the ongoing trash crisis on August 25, 2015, in front of the seat of the government in Beirut (AFP Photo/)
The three major religious factions in Lebanon, Christian Lebanese, Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims, along with the minority Druze, Alawi and Ismaili have traditionally shared governing the country. That tradition continues, after the long civil war and invasion that shook the country to its core. The incursion of Palestinians and with them the PLO, bringing Israeli and Syrian troops into the country further divided loyalties.

The unsettled violence that permeated the country gave birth to Hezbollah, the militant terrorist Shiite group financed, trained and armed by the Iranian Republican Guard Corps. Since the 1980s chaos of violent destruction in the country, the uneasy government alliance protocol has picked up where it had left off, only the government is so corrupt and frozen in inaction that it hardly governs, not helped that Hezbollah is responsible for a third of the parliamentarians and its involvement in Syria's civil has further roiled Lebanon.

Lebanese have taken to the streets in protest demonstrations against their government's inability or disinterest in providing the most basic of municipal services to the population; garbage pickup. Garbage has been piling in the streets after the closure of the main Beirut garbage dump and no action has been taken to relieve the impasse of no garbage collection. "You Stink", an online protest group, has called rallies to revolt against political corruption.

A man throws out his garbage on piles of rubbish on the street in Beirut on July 28, 2015 (AFP Photo/Joseph Eid)

Police have responded by beating back protesters with clubs and water cannons, hurling stones at them, while protesters throw back rocks and water bottles at police. Protesters are demanding the resignation of the country's top-tier politicians as unfit to rule. The prime minister claimed that if a cabinet meeting scheduled for Thursday fails to produce a viable option "then there is no need for the council of ministers". 

Prime Minister Tammam Salam has gone so far as to give hints he may himself step away from government. The political system is clearly dysfunctional without a functioning cabinet or parliament, let alone a president. The organizers of the protest claimed that men they describe as political thugs began fighting with police, attempting to pull down a barbed wire fence separating the protesting crowds from the Lebanese government building, prompting them to recall their supporters.

Since May 2014, President Salam, a Sunni Muslim, has served as acting president of Lebanon. The political paralysis due to actions by Hezbollah and its allies, the Free Patriotic Movement of Michel Aoun, and the Shi'a Amal Party, has prevented the election of a new president, a post normally held by a Maronite Christian.

Lebanese politicians fear that Hezbollah has captured the protests over the lack of garbage pick-up  to use it "to create a power vacuum amid the [Lebanese] parliament's failure to elect a new president who is acceptable to everyone".

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