The Syrian revolution has induced many Lebanese to speak out about their country’s image abroad, and its future.
There have been, and still are, Lebanese statements that favor the Syrian regime. Michel Samaha’s arrest on the suspicion that he was conspiring with Damascus has shown this.
There are voices of fear punctuating Lebanon’s political debate, mainly from the Christians and the Shiites. They have reservations regarding the Salafi phenomenon which they allege is spreading, however such voices have failed to come up with a modern and democratic formula for a diverse society where parties can co-exist without racial fear.
Different voices as per sect
And so we see them drowning in “one inch of water,” bids like the Orthodox Gathering proposal- which calls for each of Lebanon’s sects to elect its own MPs under a proportional representation system- will worsen the situation.
Furthermore there are voices, such as that of Hezbollah’s which oppose the Syrian people and their will.
These voices have been subjected to rightful criticism. However, there is a voice supporting the Syrian revolution that also deserves criticism. It is a Sunni voice that declares that history began at the Syrian revolution and not before or after it.
Despite the utmost importance of this revolution and its influence on the region, such temporary awareness cannot be counted on as correct. Disregarding the region’s history often eradicates the basis of our reality. This is a lesson taught time and time again since the French revolution that was chronicled as year zero.
Charting the Syrian revolution as the beginning of history does not help the political situation in the Middle East. The issue of minorities in the Levant did not appear with the advent of the Syrian revolution. It has however, been severely affected by that revolution, minorities in the region find their own situations shaky due to the current events in Syria.
The long history of the Levant cannot be disregarded when attempts are made to understand and fix the current problem. The issue is worsened by supposedly ‘democratic’ nations which abandon their mandate as soon as certain threatening situations arise.
The situation in Lebanon may be an attempt to seek tyranny and end diversity in the country. It must be noted that any concept which divides the country and lessens the feeling of national belonging could lead to the widespread desire to follow a neighboring regime.
Most probably, flimsy Lebanon is stronger than it is thought for the simple reason of the generalized ‘Lebanonization’ of the entire region.
(Lebanese journalist Hazem Saghieh is a senior columnist and editor at al-Hayat daily. He grew up in Lebanon during the golden age of pan-Arabism. Saghieh’s vision of a united Arab world was shattered when the Israelis emerged victorious from the 1967 war. Twitter: @HazemSaghieh)