Thursday, November 16, 2006

Final confrontation ? Oh solution, FEDERALISM is thy NAME !!

Things have been happening very fast these past few days.

National dialogue talks resumed, and then (surprise...) failed again, like in the good old pre-July-war times.
However, one thing was different, as subsequently to the failure, all the 5 shiite ministers submitted their resignation from the Lebanese government.

The next day, a christian minister, a protégé of the pro-syrian Lebanese president, walked in the footsteps of his shiite collegues.

This however did not prevent the cabinet from convening and approving the U.N. draft text setting up an international tribunal to try former prime minister Hariri's suspected assassins.

Lahoud (the president) was quick to announce the illegitimacy of the cabinet without its resigning ministers, followed by Speaker Berri, both pro-syrians.

A few days afterwards, Hassan Nasrallah announced in a speech that "they" offered tens of thousands of "martyrs" to Lebanon, and hence Lebanon is theirs. (he probably said it better than me, and more convincingly, I'm sure, but the essence is there...)

Today, Hizbullah (HA) threatened with public obedience.

Aoun is, like usual, still barki.. uh... complaining like a crybaby all the time, but overshadowed by his so-called "ally", Hassan Nasrallah.

Good. So now THE solution.

First, I think I have said it enough. How does HA dare critisize the government, while it is the origin of all the government's troubles ?

But, something new, a new term is born, for you my dear readers (ok, drop the "dear"):
HA and Aoun are becoming masters at the art of Selective Unconstitutionalism !

For HA, it is perfectly unconstitutional for a cabinet to meet without its shiite ministers, and hence its decisions are void.

BUT, and there is where it becomes fun, it is perfectly constitutional to WAGE A WAR without informing your government, attack a neighboring sovereign nation (Yes "dear" readers, Israel exists, as a sovereign nation, for those who are still trying to ignore the "zionist entity").
It is perfectly constitutional to wage violent demonstrations, to destroy whole neighborhoods in the Nation's capital, just because some journalist drew Mohamed on a piece of paper in... Danemark.. or just because a Lebanese satirical show exposed Nasrallah's real intentions..

The list goes on, but I guess you get the idea.

Moreover, and this is one of my favorite parts, HA and Aoun are calling for a national unity government, in the name of democracy.
wow.. what a sentence.... let's take a closer look at it, shall we..

What do HA and Aoun mean by national unity government ? easy, one third plus one seats go to them. This would give them veto power on important governmental decisions... Otherwise known as political death to the country.
But they ask for it in the name of "democracy"..

Strange, call me stupid, but I used to think that democracy consisted of a party in power, and a party in the opposition..
When did the democracy become "all parties in power, let's get ready to rumble !".....??????
Can anyone answer that question ?

Let alone, Aoun, accusing the government of bad infrastructure... for you see, it seems that some roads were filled with water when the first rains came.... do I need to say that this problem exists since ages ?? Is Aoun really so desperate as to attack the government on such stupid and irrelevant topics ?

I guess that Aoun forgot that he was offered ministry seats in the goverment, that he refused, because he wanted specified ministries (defense and exterior, if I'm not wrong)...
So Aoun, a fan of "give me the best, orelse I'll say you are bad" ?

Here comes the part where I'll lose the few of you who are still agreeing with me up until this point.
HA doesn't want to negociate anymore (FM Fneish just said so today). Aoun seems pretty much incapable of admitting his error.
Where do we go from here ?

Easy: Federalism !

Okay, I'll give you 2 minutes to get over the shock and get back in your chair.
Ready ?
Think about it, why not ??

Let's leave the old stupid clichés for a minute. "Lebanon is the example of living together", "Lebanon has 18 sects that live together in harmony", "Lebanon is the place where everybody can live with everybody"....
Wrong ! wake up ! it's a bad bad dream !!

We CANNOT live together, not in the actual shape of the country !
Let federalism solve it ! we will all remain Lebanese, but we will also live in different federations, like it's the case in Switzerland for instance. Weren't we the switzerland of the east ?... ;)

Give me just ONE good argument againt the federal system.
We would all still sing the "kuluna lil watan", no problem there.
HA is clearly unwilling to compromise on anything unless it is in power.
Well, let it be in power in its region. We'll see how this goes.
Let us not be ashamed to say, that what made Lebanon the most democratic and advanced country in the region is not HA.

I tell you, let's forget our taboos and our illusions. Let's sit and study seriously this option.
If it turns out to be a bad one, so be it, but at least let's study the possibility !

UPDATE 1: Christian cabinet minister Pierre Gemayel just got assassinated, november 21st. It seems like a final confrontation is inevitable. Will the Lebanese once again shy away from the truth ?

Veritas Vos Liberabit, Veritas Lux Mea


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think also federalism is the best solution for you.they are dragging you down.

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jean. quite elaborate in your development. Still, it is very biased. Like the majority of lebanese, you are unfortunately looking through your own preconceived views without any consideration or understanding of what led Hezbollah to become what it is today, or even what made a historically passive population, the shia of lebanon, rally so strongly behind HA. what where the successive governments Shortcoming towards the south of Lebanon as a whole, and why are we in this impasse? You are putting the whole blame Hezbollah, who is a consequence rather than a cause itself.

6:13 PM  
Blogger Ms Levantine said...

Federalism is a great idea. I will be looking closely for the Marounistan federal state that will include Aoun, Geagea, Frangieh, Gemayel.. I predict it will have a long, peaceful and prosperous life. Bring it on.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jean, you offer the federalist system of government as a permanent solution for Lebanon's problems, and you wrongfully site the success of the Swiss model. Federalism works for Switzerland because it's a Eupopean country with a diverse (industrial) history and a societal developmental path that the Middle East will not experience for many decades to come. The Swiss consistantly have one of the highest standards of living in the world. Regardless of which state they come from, their values differ very slightly (they all believe in social democracy, it's only the degree in that belief that separates them).

On the other hand, Lebanon has historically been a collection of agrigarian communities that have lived in fear of one another for centuries. I come from the Bekaa valley where villages alternate between Christain, Muslim, Druse off the main roads for many miles.
The few times they speak to each other is when they perform trade functions. From a societal development prespective, Lebanon is where Switzerland was 500 years ago and to keep pushing a western-style solution will prove counterproductive. Maybe as a half-step to get all of Lebanon to move to the next stage is to look at the model in place for UAE. Instead of EMIR, substitute ZA'EEM.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Jean said...

you are all right when you say that federalism is not the ultimate solution. I myself admit it.

But here's where you're wrong:
- One of you (anonymous) said that HA probably was a consequence and not a cause.
Well even if this is right, I can surely say it is too late to look into the causes to treat the problem, unless Anonymous has a solution ready for next week. Because HA seem really eager to take it to the streets pretty soon.

- another argument, saying that I am biased.
Well of course I am. I don't pretend otherwise. I AM biased. why shouldn't I be ?

- Ms Levantine, I did not say the federalism is the PERFECT solution. Rather, for me, for the time being it is among the best ones.
As for the pro-syrian maronites you named, it is a democracy, everyone is entitled to have their opinion. But let us see if they will still be that pro-syrian, once they see that they will only have to count of themselves and on their state to advance in life, rather than on the neighboring country..... We'll talk then !

- Anonymous who spoke about Switzerland: the only analogy I was aiming at was to explain what federalism is. I didn't pretend that we are at the same level as the swiss.
Many people regard Federalism as a big word, I just wanted to show that it exists, and is not necessarily an insult to anyone.

Anyone, while all of you are right when you say Federalism is not the PERFECT solution, NOONE offered any other....

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jean, here's a solution that can be deployed next week: Hizbullah has to be dealt a severe blow to its leadership and someone from within the party has to emerge with moderate views that are acceptable to the shia specifically, and the Lebanese in general (but not ally with March 14th). A centerist shia will enable Lebanon to take the half step I mentioned earlier to move the country forward. The content of trasparancy that Hizbullah speaks of must be acknowledged by March 14th, but not much else of Nasralah's flame-throwing retoric. This will be a bloody choice, but a necessary one nevertheless. In a sence it's Hizbullah's rite of passage to shed the blood of its followers (like the rest of the militias during the civil war) so it can have the space it deserves at the National Dialogue table.

9:17 PM  
Blogger debate said...

federalism or no federalism if the coup plot mounted by hassan nasrallah succeeds then we will all be on Syrian army trucks on our way to the tadmour comcentration camp...

8:48 AM  
Blogger Nobody said...

In practical terms how can you split the country into a federation? I mean along which borders? You have something like election districts or the borders should be negotiated from scratch?

11:30 PM  
Blogger Jean said...


These are all details that can be discussed once the idea is adopted.
Add to that, federalism doesn't mean "different countries".

The question is: where do we go from here, if federalism isn't the adopted solution ? do we continue to ignore this option ?

Lebanon is so small, yet so very big to be administered by a central government alone..
There is NOTHING that could satisfy ALL the Lebanese, no measure whatsoever..
So why not apply different measures in different regions, to satisfy the maximum amount of people ? => Federalism.

But, alas, I guess it is still a taboo in the lebanese society, which continues to feed upon fairy-tails and good empty slogans..
Meanwhile.... ministers are getting murdered in broad daylight, and the people calling for federalism are being called traitors, or israeli agents.

11:43 AM  
Blogger Nobody said...

well.. the chances that such an idea would be ever adopted by hezbollah are zero .. you can proceed from the point that they already rejected any form of federalism

3:25 PM  
Blogger Nobody said...

mind you .. i am sure nasrallah sees himself as a regional leader .. beyond Lebanon.. under no circumstances he would accept being reduced to a leader of an impoverished Sadr City of shiite underclass in one of the lebanese cantons

3:28 PM  
Blogger Jean said...


If I was counting on the agreement of Hizbullah, I would have suggested many things.
HA will never agree to anything that goes against the interests of Syria, Iran, and more importantly, the "Islamic Nation".

But hey, HA didn't agree neither on the international tribunal.

NOTHING, and I mean nothing, can benefit from a unanimous decision in Lebanon. There is not one single subject on which all Lebanese agree.

Add to that, if you promise HA dominance on their "canton", where they can do as they please, since they have the peoples's support (rather, they ARE the people), and given that HA is a higly pragmatic party, I am not very sure they would refuse..

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Nicolas said...

I don't think Nobody's questiob about how to split the country is just a matter of details. It is in fact the first thing we should examin to evaluate the federalism's feasibility. Would you split the country in 2, 3 or 4 federated states? Would there be a state for every community, or would 2 or 3 communities share a state? For example would Christians share a land with Druzes or Dunnis for example? Or maybe Lebanon would be split in two, Shi"as and the others. But what about FPM partisans (this is a kind of joke!) to which state should they belong? Seriously, this is not simple, though the idea seems tempting. Second, in a federal country, each federated state runs its economy, internal affairs... but the defense and the foreign affairs are the responsibe of the federal government. So in Lebanon, creating a federal country would not solve the problem since the subject of disagreement is mainly defense (HA arms) and foreign policy (alignement with Iran-Syria or with Europe-USA). After all I agree with you that the debate should be opened (I also am against taboos)

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Roch said...

I have a question:
If you give HA a canton, can't they still decide to keep the weapons and still fight on the border... taking us all back into another war.

Another thing:
What do you think about a federation based on religions and not geography?
For exemple, in the elections, each one votes for his own religious representation, no problems will come up after it due to people voting in place of others.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not! I agree. A lot of people think about federalism last solution but afraid to talk about. Politically incorrect?? In Cyprus it was the only solution. It's difficult for Lebanon but "entre la peste et le choléra..."

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Shlomo said...

Hey Jean -

Long time...

Think you are 100% on the spot - federalism with a credible checks and balance and accountability IS the solution for Lebanon.

Plus, a good, strong, stable Lebanon, ridden of Syrian and Iranian influences could gradually make its way to peace with Israel.

This would form a serious block on the shores of mediterranean to deter crazy dictators, the radical elements of islam, could help Israel finally reach an agreement w/ Palestinians, and would distabilize Iran's sought after dominance in the region.

Here's hoping........

11:15 PM  
Blogger Lirun said...


4:02 PM  

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