Lebanon: Inspiring the World to Unite
The World History is being rewritten by ‘People’s Power’ around the globe. Sudan’s historic success to overthrow the 30-year-ruling-dictator President Omar al-Bashir in less than four months of ‘People’s Power’ demonstration has inspired various countries, who are struggling to live a decent life in the ever-increasing rise of social inequality. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir must have never thought in his wildest dream that increasing the bread price by 300% would not only cost him his 30 years of Presidency, but also land him in jail.
The rise of leaderless ‘People’s Power’ around the globe is gaining fierce momentum to challenge authoritarian regimes, because of the never-ending ‘State Suppression’ and ‘Social Inequality’. The stupendous rise of leaderless ‘People’s Power’ in Lebanon, just 13 days ago, saw the Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigning on the 29th of October 2019. The reason – Hariri’s government had planned for a proposed tax on WhatsApp calls by $0.20. On the 17th of October 2019, hundreds of civil activists protested on the streets of downtown Beirut against the government’s move.
They blocked important streets linking the East and the West sides of Beirut. Minister of Higher Education Akram Chehayeb’s convoy was blocked by protestors, who assembled on his car. One of Minister’s bodyguards shot stray bullets in air to further enrage the protestors. Protestors’ numbers swelled on the streets thereafter. More and more people began flocking the Martyrs Square, Nejmeh Square and Hamra Street. Soon the demonstrations spread in various regions around Lebanon to grow bigger and bigger with each passing hour.
President Michel Aoun realized the grave situation and he requested Prime Minister Saad Hariri to call a snap Cabinet meeting on the 18th of October 2019. Mohamad Choucair, Lebanon’s Minister of Telecommunications announced that ‘WhatsApp Tax’ idea has been scrapped by the government. Education Minister Chehayeb announced that all schools and universities would remain closed the next day. The government’s announcement was too late to stop the anger of its citizen.
On the 18th of October 2019, several political parties’ offices of Hezbollah, Amal Movement and Free Patriotic Movement were attacked in Nabatiyeh and Tripoli. Hundreds of Lebanese forced their entry in Serail. However, they were stopped by the Internal Security Forces. People gathered in thousands to block major roads across the nation, burning tyres and trash cans.
People’s anger was ignited when the government introduced a $0.20 WhatsApp tax on calls, which would have affected the majority of the citizen. In spite of the quick reversal of the new proposed tax by the government, demonstrations carried on all night long. Ultimately, they were dispersed by the security forces.
In the 1960s, Lebanon was renowned as the ‘Switzerland of the East’ and Beirut was famously known as ‘Paris of the Middle East’ for attracting millions of tourists from all over the world. The 15-year-long Lebanese Civil War from 1975 to 1990 took a toll on the Lebanese economy. In the past 29 years, Lebanon’s economy and infrastructure has been crumbling. Citizens are facing severe economic crisis, while the incapable government has led the nation to become the most indebted nation in the world with $86 billion public debt.
Protests against the government had erupted many a times in the recent months for various corrupt and faulty policies to push the citizens towards more hardships. However, the ‘WhatsApp Tax Protest’ is unlike all previous protests. The government had crossed the boiling point of citizens’ patience. Crumbling infrastructure, daily electricity cuts, garbage piling on the streets, limited water supply and multiple tax increase has pushed the citizen to a point of no return.
‘Enough is enough’ and the result is in front of the world. Lebanese are demanding a complete overhaul of the political system. It was inspiring to see the Shias, the Sunis and the Christians coming together as one vocal voice to stand tall against the corrupt coalition regime of the Hezbollah, Lebanese Forces Party, Free Patriotic Movement, Future Movement, Amal Movement and others.
In the last 15 years, this is Lebanon’s largest protest and has been very inspiring in nature, because of being non-sectarian. People from all religions fronts united as one against the corrupt political elites. In every nation around the world, it is the political leaders, who create divisive religious ideologies among the citizens to rule and loot the nation. 6 million plus Lebanese have realized the divisive religious plot of the corrupt politicians of their nation. People’s Power ultimately forced Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign on the 30th of October 2019.
UNITED WE STAND – INSPIRING APPROACH
Unlike various other turmoil nations, who are on the verge of political crisis, the People’s Power in Lebanon achieved the fastest result to force and overthrow the State Head in just 13 days. Here, one cannot deny that Prime Minister Saad Hariri has displayed great leadership in catastrophic crisis to submit his resignation, before the nation could go further towards massive devastation. As the Prime Minister, he did not use brutal forces to quell the protest against the political elite.
The world has seen in recent times, how peaceful protestors in France, Sudan, Iraq, Hong Kong, Bolivia, Chile, Zimbabwe and many other nations were brutally dealt with teargas, pepper spray, water cannons, rubber bullets and even killed with live rounds by special riot police or forces. Prime Minister Hariri did not make use of heavy hands of the government forces to crush the protestors, unlike Macron, Carrie Lam, Military Junta of Sudan and Zimbabwean, Iraqi, Bolivian and Chilean governments.
On the 27th of October 2019, it was amazing to see 170,000 protestors forming a 171-km long human chain to display their solidarity to the regime and the world. It was marvelous to watch the young, old and even children joining the cause to form the human chain from the Northern city of Tripoli to the Southern city of Tyre. It was indeed very inspiring to watch the 171-km human chain of the Lebanese people chanting and waving the national flags.
CHALLENGING ROAD AHEAD
The political elite are in a dilemma, because after the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri their joy was short-lived. Instead of the protest dying down, people are demanding the whole government should be overhauled with a new council of independent experts to guide the nation through the worsening economic and financial crisis until a new election is held. The road ahead is surely a challenging one for the protestors and the political elite until a newly-elected government takes charge of the nation.
The citizens have lost all their trust on the ruling class and they are demanding to get rid of the whole lot. The People’s Power is also demanding to form a new electoral law that will abolish all sectarianism and make Lebanon as one district. Currently, Lebanon’s electoral law has the nation manipulated into 15 districts and seats are allocated by various sects. People’s demand also indicates that they want Lebanon to be just ‘ONE SINGLE NATION’, instead of being divided in various sects for the politicians to exploit their sects.
The ‘One Single Nation’ demand is the most challenging one and political leaders of various sects will never agree for such an arrangement. It will be interesting to see, how People’s Power in Lebanon will rewrite their nation’s history in the coming days, months or years. With the nation heading towards a financial collapse, it will be amazing to watch, who will become the frontrunner to lead the nation towards a better future.
As per Lebanon’s political analysts, the only real way forward is to appoint a government, which can move on from the catastrophic situation to restore confidence among its citizens and the international community. Saad Hariri has played his card very intelligently, because of his popularity among various political parties. Will he bounce back once again to rule the nation with the newly formed government? The Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement parties are not happy about the current situation and demands of the protestors.
Samir Geagea, Chief of Lebanese Forces has welcomed Hariri’s resignation and believes a new government of specialists will be ideal to take the nation forward. People comprising with clean image, integrity, expertise and success should form the new, which will be better for the nation and the citizen.
While there is power play by political leaders behind the scenes, the People’s Power is certain that they are not leaving the streets or the squares until their demands are met. They strongly believe they have nothing to lose. In fact, they are even ready to die on the streets and have decided not to give in to political sugarcoated gimmicks or false promises.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation is the first stage victory of the People’s Power. Stage two of the protest is to get all the money back from corrupt politicians, who have stolen from the public. They want to hold each one of them accountable for their corrupt crimes.
The rise of People’s Power in Lebanon should inspire the world citizen to unite as a single force and hold the corrupt global leaders accountable for suppressing their own citizens.
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