Rear View – Lebanon in review (8 September 2020)
31 Aug-2nd Sept: Macron’s Return Visit to Beirut – But Has Anything Really Changed?
I know we can’t expect too much from the French President, Emmanuel Macron. A miracle would be nice but he can’t do that on his own turf so what is the likelihood of doing that on Lebanese soil??? I am not trying to be negative or pessimistic but more so realistic.
But let’s pay tribute to Monsieur le President because he appears to be truly the only world leader, including our very own Lebanese political leaders, that is showing any sincere concern and compassion for the people of Lebanon and the critical situation that our country is in.
Let’s recognize his actions on August 31st when he made a special effort to attend the home of the nation’s greatest musical icon Fairouz to dignify her with France’s highest award, the Legion of Honor and was quoted saying: “I told her what she means to me. She represents stories of love and a Lebanon dreamed of and loved.” Thank you, President Macron, for remembering the Lebanon that still burns in so brightly in our hearts – the one we fight and will die for – FOREVER.
In the words of another great socialist, Che Guevara: “We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are prepared to die for it.”
I think this last 12 months, many Lebanese in Lebanon and across the globe have shown our willingness to sacrifice for our beloved homeland.
1 Sept: Macron Celebrates Lebanon’s 100-Year Anniversary
Macron’s formal visit was to celebrate Lebanon’s 100-year anniversary of “re-creation” as I prefer to refer to it. This was the day in 1920, after World War I, that the victors of that war, Britain, France and America, who defeated the Ottoman Empire, Austro-Hungarians and Italians, took charge of the Middle East and Arabian peninsula amongst other territories and, if you have ever watched the classic film “Lawrence of Arabia” you will know that they divided up the spoils amongst themselves – well mostly France and Britain did.
France brought Lebanon and Syria under its protection and Britain took Palestine, Egypt and other parts of the Arabian peninsula. Important to note though that Lebanon has been around for nearly 6000 years with references to the Cedars of Lebanon in both the Old and New Testaments and our cities, Beirut, Tyre, Sidon and Tripoli. But rather than give you a history lesson, click on this link and read more about it in the piece by The961: https://www.the961.com/lebanon-not-100-years-old-older/
2 Sept: Unexpected Prime Minister For Lebanon
New Prime Minister for Lebanon. Macron also had the chance to meet Lebanon’s new PM-designate Mustapha Adib, the former Ambassador to Germany who was plucked out of nowhere, in a desperate attempt to appoint a PM prior to the French President’s return.
Adib was a surprise and unexpected choice but for the people on the streets he is not the man that will change Lebanon. WHY? Because he is cut from the same cloth as those that have brought Lebanon to its knees. Adib is affiliated with a small Sunni party headed by former Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who is accused of rotting the Lebanese banking system by running a ponzi scheme that netted him billions of dollars leaving the Lebanese taxpayers to pick up the bill and contributing to the country’s current state of bankruptcy. Mikati is only one of many, including another former Prime Minister, Fouad Saniora, who ripped the nation off during and after their terms in office.
So GOOD LUCK to PM Adib because he is going to need every tiny ounce of it.
After meeting with PM Adib and other members of the Lebanon’s political elite, on September 2nd, Macron announced he would make a third follow-up visit to Beirut in December to ensure that his recommendations are being implemented and that a “monitoring mechanism” is put in place in the coming months to ensure discussions lead to promised reform.
“What I have asked for, what all political parties without exception have committed to this evening right here, is that the formation of this government will not take more than a fortnight,” he said last week.
“We will not release the money” pledged at a Lebanon aid conference in Paris in 2018 “until the reforms are implemented,” Macron said, adding that he would return to Lebanon in December.
The coming six weeks are crucial for the future of Lebanon.
Problem with all this is it all sounds good, but we have heard it all before. Unless President Macron is willing to install members of his own political elite alongside every Minister and Member of the Lebanese Government, nothing is going to change. I am deeply saddened to say this and hope I am proved wrong L
4 Sept: Bisri Dam Project Thwarted by Thawra
Protesters who have been actively campaigning against the construction of the Bisri Dam since it was approved in 2015, received a huge vote of confidence on Saturday when the World Bank announced that funding for the dam project had been cancelled due to the “non-completion of the tasks that are preconditions to the commencement of construction of the Bisri Dam.”
A statement by the World Bank said the cancelled portion of the loan, around $244 million, would take effect immediately.
Protesters have opposed the dam describing it as an environmental crime and a project that mirrors Lebanon’s patronage system and bad governance.
Lebanon’s Bisri Valley lies on a green fertile bed, a spot that has cradled civilizations dating as far back as the Bronze Age. Its expansive lands of pine, citrus trees and ancient ruins would be threatened with being submerged if the mega dam was to proceed.
4 Sept: Pope Francis Honors Lebanon – Calls for Day of Prayers and Fasting.
This was one of the most humbling things I have ever witnessed and am so touched by the outpouring of love for my homeland from all around the globe. But on Sept 4, when I watched this message from Pope Francis, calling for prayers and fasting for Beirut – I was moved to tears. Watch his genuine expression of love as he reads his message and here the desperate plea and sadness in his voice. Thank You Pope Francis. Thank You so much for caring about Lebanon, my people and our suffering.
5 Sept: Hopes of a Miracle Dashed on Sunday
Hopes of a Miracle were finally dashed on Sunday after a Chilean rescue dog named Flash sniffed a pulse in the rubble of a historic home destroyed during last month’s explosion on Thursday 3rd of Sept. Rescue teams using highly sensitive sensor equipment picked up a pulse, believed to be a heartbeat, beating at 18 beats a minute and worked desperately for three days to try and find the survivor. But by Sunday they had lost the pulse and had all but given up hope. At least they tried.
Thanks for reading.