Thursday, June 14, 2018

The silent war against Lebanon

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A silent, insidious war is being waged against Lebanon. A war that’s destroying the very fabric of Lebanese society, throwing a staggering number of families into poverty, driving the economy to the ground, destroying the already fragile political system and poisoning the air, the water and the land.

Over a million Lebanese live under the poverty line, unemployment fluctuates between 30 and 40%, tens of thousands of people lost their job in the past couple of years; Lebanon’s is going through an unprecedented economic crisis without any solution in sight. If we add the refugee, the garbage and the political crisis, we realize that what’s happening is nothing short of a full-fledged war waged against Lebanon, aimed at destroying it from the inside.

The Lebanese are fierce fighters. Anytime anyone threatened their land, they fought like lions to defend it, ultimately defeating the invaders, whomever they were, foreign armies or local militias. But when it comes to defend their basic citizen’s rights, the lions become sheep, and their fighting spirit changes into obedience and acceptance.

If anyone wanted to wage war against Lebanon, they would know by experience that the price of military action would be huge: soldiers killed, fortunes spent on bombs and missiles, not to mention the PR nightmare trying to sway international public opinion. So why go through all this trouble when you can wait and watch the whole country destroy itself?

Think about it, garbage rotting and burning everywhere are not so different from a biological attack on the Lebanese people. The air, the water and the soil are being poisoned. Breathing, eating and drinking in Lebanon can seriously harm your health and cause fatal diseases. It’s just more insidious than a bomb, but equally efficient.

The seashore is so polluted and private beaches so expensive, more and more Lebanese are avoiding them. When they can afford it, they travel to Cyprus, Turkey or Egypt. That’s a serious blow to the tourism industry – one of the country’s last profitable sectors. Instead of fixing the problem, the remaining public beaches are being be privatized, while garbage dumpsters have been relocated to different parts of Lebanon’s coastline.

The economy is such a mess, every day dozens of Lebanese lose their job while companies and businesses are downsizing if not closing down altogether. Real estate prices are so high most Lebanese can’t afford to buy the tiniest apartment. The overall cost of living has constantly increased but wages were kept as low as possible, thus driving the majority of the population into poverty.

Today, a third of the Lebanese population lives under the poverty line. In other words, more than a million Lebanese citizens don’t have enough money to feed their families. Let alone send their children to school or provide them with basic healthcare. All the while a tiny minority is making and spending obscene amounts of money. The infamous multi-million dollar weddings are only a fraction of that obscenity, the glittering tip of an outrageous iceberg.

This tiny minority, along with the political and economic establishment are the officers and soldiers of the silent war waged against Lebanon. They are the ones driving the country to self-destruct. They are the ones responsible of the political deadlock; they are the ones keeping the garbage crisis going and turning it into a weapon of mass health and ecological destruction; they are the ones raising the cost of living and refusing to increase wages accordingly; they are the ones impoverishing the vast majority of the Lebanese population and forcing so many of us to pack and leave.

Make no mistake, the refugee crisis is a blessing for these people. Cheap labor, precarious living situation, no legal rights, that’s exactly what they need to continue striving. Educated and free Lebanese citizens could endanger their never-ending theft of the country’s riches. It’s better to force them to leave and replace them with a more obedient and fearful population.

Are they doing this on their own or are they controlled by one or several foreign powers following some obscure agenda? The answer to that question is at this point irrelevant. One can endlessly speculate and throw hypothesis around, but the situation is too dire to waste time indulging in conspiracy theories. The Lebanese, regardless of their religion, sect or political affiliation, are losing the war. Have they surrendered or are they willing to rise up as they did so many times in the past? That’s ultimately the only question worth answering today.

© Claude El Khal, 2018

Previously published in 2017 and 2016