Has Lebanese resilience reached its limits?



► “The resilient are more the people of power”

Karim Bitar, director of the Institute of Political Sciences of Saint Joseph University in Beirut.

“This famous Lebanese resilience has reached its limits. The very word “resilience” is beginning to irritate the Lebanese. The inhabitants are exhausted. They think that those who are truly resilient are more the people of power. There is a form of revolutionary weariness. The Lebanese have had the feeling that they are screaming in the desert and that whatever they do, they will not succeed in bringing down the system.

→ ANALYSIS. Lebanon plunges into darkness amid fuel price crisis

The extent of the economic crisis is such that the Lebanese are caught by the throat. They must devote most of their time to ensuring their daily survival. When you have to spend hours waiting for a few liters of gasoline at the station, powdered milk or medicine at the pharmacy for your children or your grandparents … you no longer have the energy to think about political change.

This economic and social crisis as well as the pandemic gave respite to the Lebanese political class. It allows him to reactivate his clientelist networks. Political parties no longer need to spend large sums of money to buy allegiances: they just need to vaccinate people or give them food cartons. They also play on community feeling. With money, these are the two weapons they have to stay in power.

Conflicts that “risk becoming routine”

We observed a contraction of the GDP of 40% in one year. In all of world history, there is no example of such a rapid recession that has not led to violent conflict. We can expect incidents like the ones we are witnessing at gas stations in the months to come. It may become routine. Certain areas of the country such as Tripoli, the poorest city on the Mediterranean rim, are at risk of seeing neighborhoods set ablaze. Having said that, I don’t think there will be a full-blown civil war. The balance of power in Lebanon is still very favorable to Hezbollah (Shiite party close to Iran, Editor’s note).

→ ANALYSIS. Lebanon: black week for Hezbollah

The explosion in Akkar on the night of August 14 to 15 (which left 28 dead and 80 wounded in an underground petrol depot, Editor’s note) showed that there was always a capacity for outrage. But it does not turn into long-term political mobilization. After a few days, it falls back. The groups resulting from the revolution of October 17, 2019 are mobilized. But they are not sufficiently organized or united. They always present themselves as groups from civil society. There is a reluctance to political action. This will be the great challenge of the legislative elections of May 2022: to unite all these movements so that they form a common front and prevent the establishment from coming back, once again, through the window. “

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