Lebanon: The resistance and the issue of internal political and social change

The resistance and the issue of internal political and social change 

‘The interest of the resistance and the movement requires building a broad national front to enforce the demands of the people on the one hand, and to preserve the weapons that protect Lebanon on the other.’

By Walid Sharara

November 4: The popular explosion in Lebanon in the last two weeks has put all the political actors, including the resistance, in a difficult dilemma. It is worth recalling at the outset that the deep and structural causes that led to this explosion are the neoliberal policies adopted by the ruling factions in Lebanon since the end of the civil war, some of which today shamelessly support the “demands of the people”, and that the resistance does not bear responsibility. Since the popular explosion, or movement, as some like to call it, includes broad masses and multiple social forces, with different and sometimes contradictory interests and aspirations, it was natural that there should be many opinions about its desired background and future. These views agree that corruption and systematic looting of national wealth are among the most important factors that have brought the country to the brink of financial and economic collapse, but they differ on the identification of key actors and policies that have allowed corruption and looting to grow, and on the role of external factors in producing the current situation. Some “new revolutionaries” are quick to express their “inspiration” by recalling the raging conflict in the region between the axis of resistance and the US-Israeli-Saudi alliance, and the need to pay attention to the fact that this conflict, with its multifaceted targeting of resistance in Lebanon, is part of the general context governing developments in Lebanon, including social mobility. Reality is one and cannot be divided into one dimension without the other. But this fact, the unity of reality, is also true for the resistance and its actual allies who have focused on the national issue and the main contradiction with the external enemy, with the enormous burdens that this focus entails, and the popular explosion has brought the economic and social issue to their agenda.

Photo: Al-Akhbar
Most national liberation movements linked the achievement of national independence with political, economic and social change in the interest of the popular majorities. There is no need to recall the historical and political, social and geopolitical conditions that prevented the convergence in Lebanon between resistance to occupation and internal political change and led to a settlement between the resistance and the poles of the Lebanese sectarian quota system. There is no doubt that the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the subsequent Syrian withdrawal led to further resistance involvement in the internal affairs, but on the basis of the logic of compromise. This logic was based on the acceptance of the resistance by economic and social groups, with some objections adopted by the ruling groups in the country in return for securing a political umbrella for the role of the former as a deterrent force for Israel and the resistance capabilities to confront it. The process of accumulating military and missile capabilities by the resistance and its axis in the region is the essence of the confrontation now raging between it and the US-Israeli-Saudi alliance. It is no exaggeration to say that the outcome of this confrontation will determine the destinies and the future of the peoples of the region, including the Lebanese people, because the success of the axis of resistance in continuing to develop its military and missile capabilities and the resulting shift in the balance of power to Israel’s disadvantage will enhance the ability to reduce the role of the external factor, which has been the main obstacle to the independence of the countries of the region and their control of their capabilities and renaissance in the past decades. Israel is trying to exploit the current situation in Lebanon and ask the United States and other Western countries to freeze aid to its government if it does not dismantle the alleged precision missile factories built by Hezbollah, according to Barak Rafid, a correspondent for Israeli Channel 13.

But this fateful confrontation is taking place in light of the entry of Qatari countries in the region, including the Lebanese state, in an advanced stage of the existential crisis due to the combination of a number of external and internal factors, including the nature of the groups that have “dominated” them. The popular explosion in Lebanon is caused by the sensitivity of large segments of the population to this existential crisis and its catastrophic effects. This explosion shook the foundations of the settlement which the resistance contributed to drafting three years ago and the resignation of the resulting government. The resistance finds itself facing a daunting challenge: to reconcile the adoption of the main demands of the popular movement and to participate in the production of a new settlement leading to the formation of a government in the country. Its ability to continue to play its strategic role is largely conditional on its success in the said conciliation. But the national political forces and popular sectors involved in the movement are also interested in the success of the resistance in this task. The forces and sectors referred to today do not have the capacity to effect radical political and socio-economic change in Lebanon due to the internal balance of power and the regional context. But a form of alliance and division of labor between it and the resistance, with the movement pressing in the street and the resistance pressing from within the state institutions to meet popular demands, may allow the most gains to be extracted from the dominant groups. The interest of the resistance and the movement requires building a broad national front to enforce the demands of the people on the one hand, and to preserve the weapons that protect Lebanon on the other.

Translated by Greg Butterfield

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