Finance Capitalism versus Industrial Capitalism: The Rentier Resurgence and Takeover

August 10, 2021

Finance Capitalism versus Industrial Capitalism: The Rentier Resurgence and Takeover

Publication by Michael Hudson : Sage Journals

Abstract

Marx and many of his less radical contemporary reformers saw the historical role of industrial capitalism as being to clear away the legacy of feudalism—the landlords, bankers, and monopolists extracting economic rent without producing real value. However, that reform movement failed. Today, the finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sector has regained control of government, creating neo-rentier economies.

The aim of this postindustrial finance capitalism is the opposite of industrial capitalism as known to nineteenth-century economists: it seeks wealth primarily through the extraction of economic rent, not industrial capital formation.

Tax favoritism for real estate, privatization of oil and mineral extraction, and banking and infrastructure monopolies add to the cost of living and doing business. Labor is increasingly exploited by bank debt, student debt, and credit card debt while housing and other prices are inflated on credit, leaving less income to spend on goods and services as economies suffer debt deflation.

Today’s new Cold War is a fight to internationalize this rentier capitalism by globally privatizing and financializing transportation, education, health care, prisons and policing, the post office and communications, and other sectors that formerly were kept in the public domain. In Western economies, such privatizations have reversed the drive of industrial capitalism. In addition to monopoly prices for privatized services, financial managers are cannibalizing industry by leveraging debt and high-dividend payouts to increase stock prices.

1. Introduction
2. Marx’s View of the Historical Destiny of Capitalism: To Free Economies from Feudalism
3. Capitalism’s Alliance of Banks with Industry to Promote Democratic Political Reform
4. The Banking Sector Lobbies against the Real Estate Sector, 1815–1846
5. The Alliance of Banking with Real Estate and Other Rent-Seeking Sectors
6. The Rentier Squeeze on Budgets: Debt Deflation as a Byproduct of Asset-Price Inflation
7. Finance Capital’s Fight to Privatize and Monopolize Public Infrastructure
8. Finance Capitalism Impoverishes Economies while Increasing Their Cost Structure
9. Today’s New Cold War Is a Fight by Finance Capitalism against Industrial Capitalism
10. Summary: Finance Capital as Rent-Seeking
11. Some Final Observations: Financial Takeover of Industry, Government, and Ideology

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The role of Musa al-Sadr in shaping national identity of Lebanese Shias الصدر ودوره في تأصيل الهوية الوطنية للشيعة في لبنان

The role of Musa al-Sadr in shaping national identity of Lebanese Shias

February 01, 2021

The role of Musa al-Sadr in shaping national identity of Lebanese Shias

Description: 

Lebanese university lecturer in history, Talih Kamal Hamdan, explores the role of the late Imam Musa al-Sadr in shaping a sense of national belonging and identity within the Shia sect in Lebanon, specifically during the 1960s and 1970s.

Understanding the historical formation of the national and political identity of the Shia of Lebanon is particularly relevant today, as contemporary Lebanese Shia Muslims are highly influential actors not only within Lebanon, but on the regional level as well. This is especially the case when viewed from the lens of Hezbollah, a group which considers itself an extension of the general political paradigm shaped by al-Sadr.

Source:  Al Akhbar Newspaper

Date:  September 8, 2015

(Important Note: Please help us keep producing independent translations for you by contributing as little as $1/month here )


Transcript:

Imam al-Sadr and his role in instilling a sense of national identity in Lebanese Shia

Talih Kamal Hamdan

This year marks the 37th anniversary of the disappearance of Imam Musa al-Sadr and his two companions, (an anniversary that) comes at the height of internal, regional and international conflicts; takfirism; and discrimination against sectarian and ethnic minorities in the Arab world, where Shias are the main target of Takfiri groups. The role of Shias in the Lebanese political reality is also being increasingly targeted by way of distorting their nationalist struggles, for which Imam al-Sadr laid solid foundations, and for which thousands of martyrs (of Shia origin) sacrificed their lives. (Many Shias) gave their lives (within these nationalist struggles) in order to free (their) land (from Israeli occupation), fighting (the occupation) as members of national and Islamic resistance groups successively (established) between 1975 and 2006.

The government’s neglect of the villages in the South (of Lebanon), the Beqaa, and Beirut suburbs; together with the deplorable conditions that farmers and their families lived under; and the overwhelming dominance of feudal families who had great political, economic and social influence in these areas, all these were starting points for (the establishment of) left-wing and progressive parties beginning in the mid-50s. These parties sought to fight deprivation, unilateralism of southern political representation, and the blatant denial of the rights of workers and farmers. However, these parties failed to establish social justice. Due to their fragmentation, differing frameworks and (political/ideological) poles, and their ordering of priorities that favored politics over other issues, these parties were not able transform their social standing into influence in the government, thus preventing them from turning the family structure into a national institutional structure. They chose cosmetic changes over (real) change, and social struggles with political and power-based objectives over a comprehensive social revolution. Then came the civil war in 1975 and toppled the social and national, non-sectarian movements, thus giving the upper hand to the 1943 (sectarian) formula only with new faces.

Since the mid-1960s, there had been growing social demand (for the rights of) marginalized groups, especially the Shia community who was suffering from the lack of institutions, jobs and services, and the scattering of its skilled individuals between left-wing parties and Palestinian organizations on the one hand, and opportunistic feudal leaderships on the other. As a result, unlike other Lebanese social groups, (the Shia community) lacked a specific identity.  Therefore, the objective conditions made room for another kind of leadership, (a leadership) that seeks change, and mobilizes its resources to lift (people) from fragmentation to unity, and from a feeling of deprivation to a feeling of power; (a leadership that grants) the right to participate in the government and its administrative and functional departments, (the right to) social development, and (the right to) participate in local, regional and international political decision-making of the Lebanese state. All this on the basis of both a religious identity and a unified national vision. Thereafter, Imam Musa al-Sadr’s movement emerged to call for social and political reform as a priority, on the basis of the “Lebanization” of Shia decision-making, and (the Shia sect’s) integration into the Lebanese state, whom Shias had always felt abandoned by.

Initially, the influential feudal and religious families did not have a negative reaction to the emergence of Imam al-Sadr. However, (with time) his reform movement against traditional feudalism gained strength as he gained large public support. His work was culminated in the adherence of young secular individuals to his project thanks to his undermining of the religious legitimacy granted to the feudal leaderships. (He) took advantage of the political and social situation in the South, the Beqaa and the Beirut suburbs, to begin the process of comprehensive change of the role of Shias in Lebanon.

Imam al-Sadr took the social dimension as a priority, and fought for “ending the deprivation (of basic rights) in the Beqaa and the South”. He started by confronting his opponents from the traditional feudal leaderships, notably Kamel al-Assaad, and left-wing parties, especially the Communist Party, in order to prevent them from “manipulating the Shia youth ideologically and on the basis of party-loyalties.” (1)

Even though (Imam al-Sadr) held firm to his religious foundations, yet he used religion to sharpen the sense of belonging to a national identity, and worked on establishing a social identity that – similar to other sects – combined both patriotism and the exaltation of the (Shia) sect. He replaced family loyalty with religious sectarian loyalty, thus attracting various segments (of society) who had previously adhered to the (powerful) feudal families, or adhered to the left-wing parties with their (various) slogans.  (Imam al-Sadr) also brought back the idea of ​​institutionalizing religious identity by reviving the “Al Ber wal Ehsan” Charity (جمعية البر والإحسان) founded in 1948 by Sayyed Abd al-Hussein Charafeddine in (the city of) Tyre, making it a starting point for his social service activities, and a project similar to the Amel Association (الجمعية الخيرية العاملية) in Beirut. He then established the Supreme Islamic Shia Council in Lebanon in 1969, which was a major turning point (that struck at) the core of the traditional authoritarian leadership (of Lebanese Shias). He was also able to establish educational, professional and social institutions, after they were absent for many decades because of the (Lebanese) state’s failure (to provide) services and (build) institutions in the South and the Beqaa. By raising the awareness of Shias regarding their sectarian and national identity, (Imam Musa) wanted to stress that they are citizens who have the right to consistent development, to be relieved from deprivation, and protected against Israeli attacks (2).

He built multiple relations with many national and southern actors, and showed an outstanding leadership and a strong ability to influence Lebanese elites and the Lebanese people. Therefore, Sayyed (Musa) was granted Lebanese nationality in 1963 by President Fouad Shehab, and became a permanent guest at the Lebanese symposium, which was composed of Lebanese political and intellectual elites. Therefore, Sayyed Musa was described by Michel Asmar as a “man of the coming time”. He also established relations with famous media figures, especially Ghassan Tueni. However, despite his wide network of internal and external political relations (that he established) on the basis of supporting his reform project, he tried to make sure that his political line stays as independent as possible.

(Imam al-Sadr) was known for his boldness in objecting to the excesses of the (Lebanese) state against southern citizens who were suffering daily from Israeli attacks. As such, he declared a general strike to support the people of the South, and consequently, he established the Southern Council, then the Commission for Southern Support in cooperation with Cardinal Anthony Khreish and a large group of Muslim and Christian scholars and clerics. He also confronted the Palestinian resistance, despite his alliance with it, after its multiple excesses against the southerners. He addressed Abu Ammar (i.e. Yasser Arafat, Former Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization) saying: “Abu Ammar, I (am ready to) protect the Palestinian resistance (even) with my turban, but I will not be silent about its transgressions against people in the South” (3).

Accordingly, Imam al-Sadr is indeed the true father of “Lebanese political Shiism”, which considers the national dimension a priority in its internal movement, and which believes that Lebanon is the permanent home for all its sons and various other social groups, and (a country) that must be defended by all means and at all costs, not on the basis of hegemony and partisanship, but rather partnership and national belonging. This explains the (contemporary) Shia urgency and seriousness to protect Lebanon from both Israeli aggression and the Takfiri threat.

References

1- Abd Al-Raouf Sunno: “The Lebanese War 1975-1990: The Dismemberment of the State and the Rift within the Society”, Volume One, ibid, pg. 145.

2- Talal Atrissi: “The conditions of the Shiites of Lebanon have changed,” in: “The Shiites in Lebanon from marginalization to active participation,” ibid., pg. 245

3- “The Supreme Islamic Shiite Council and the Rights of the Sect,” a special booklet issued by the Supreme Islamic Shiite Council, January 1974, pg. 10.

——

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الصدر ودوره في تأصيل الهوية الوطنية للشيعة في لبنان

The role of Musa al-Sadr in shaping national identity of Lebanese Shias

الأخبار

طليع كمال حمدان الثلاثاء 8 أيلول 2015

تأتي الذكرى السابعة والثلاثون لتغييب الإمام موسى الصدر، ورفيقيه، هذا العام، في ذروة التناقضات الداخلية والإقليمية والدولية، وفي ظلّ تصاعد موجات التكفير، والعنصرية الدينية، تجاه الأقليات المذهبية والعرقية في المنطقة العربية، حيث يقع الشيعة العرب على رأس الاستهداف التكفيريّ، وتعاظم استهداف دور الشيعة في الواقع السياسي اللبنانيّ، من خلال تشويه نضالهم الوطني، الذي أرسى أسسه المتينة الإمام الصدر، وعمّدته دماء الشهداء، الذين سقطوا بالآلاف على طريق تحرير الأرض، بعد تعاقب مجموعات المقاومة الوطنية والإسلامية بين 1975- 2006.


شكّل الإهمال الرسمي لقرى الجنوب، والبقاع، والضواحي البيروتية، والأوضاع المزرية للمزارعين وعوائلهم، واستحكام قبضة العائلات التقليدية النافذة سياسياً، واقتصادياً، واجتماعياً على تلك المناطق، منطلقاً للأحزاب اليسارية والتقدمية، منذ منتصف الخمسينيات، لمحاربة الحرمان، وأحادية التمثيل السياسيّ الجنوبيّ، والإجحاف اللاحق بحقوق العمّال والمزارعين، لكنّها أخفقت في إرساء العدالة المجتمعية، بحيث لم تستطع تجيير مكاسبها على الصعيد الاجتماعي نفوذاً في السلطة الرسمية، نتيجة تشرذمها، وتعدّد أطرها وأقطابها، وتقدّم الجانب السياسيّ على ما عداه من قضايا، ما منعها من قطف التحوّلات الاجتماعية في البنية العائلية، وتحويلها إلى بنية مؤسساتية وطنية، فآثرت التجميل على التغيير، والنضالات الاجتماعية ذات المغزى السياسي، والسلطوي، على الثورة الاجتماعية الشاملة، فجاءت الحرب الأهلية، عام 1975، لتطيح الحراك الاجتماعي والحركة الوطنية اللاطائفية، لصالح تركيبة 1943 بوجوهها الجديدة.

فمنذ منتصف الستينيات، أخذت المطالب الاجتماعية تتصدّر واقع الفئات المهمّشة، وعلى رأسها الطائفة الشيعية، التي كانت تعاني من الحرمان على مستوى المؤسسات، والوظائف والخدمات، ومن توزّع طاقاتها بين أحزاب اليسار، والمنظمات الفلسطينية من جهة، وبين الزعامة التقليدية الانتهازية من جهة أخرى، ما جعلها تفتقر إلى هوية محددة، على غرار بقية المكوّنات الاجتماعية في لبنان، فأضحت الظروف الموضوعية أكثر اتساعاً لقيادة من نوع آخر، تحمل سمات التغيير، وتسخّر الإمكانات للارتقاء من التشرذم إلى الوحدة، ومن الشعور بالحرمان إلى الشعور بالقوّة، والحق بالمشاركة في السلطة، وتقسيماتها الإدارية والوظيفية، والتنمية الاجتماعية، والمشاركة في الخيارات السياسية للدولة اللبنانية المحلية والإقليمية والدولية، على أساس مركّب بين هوية دينية، وبعد وطني واحد. فجاءت حركة الإمام موسى الصدر لتحمل عناوين التغيير الاجتماعي، والسياسيّ، كأولوية على أساس «لبننة» الخيار الشيعي، وإدماجه في الدولة اللبنانية، التي لطالما شعروا بأنها تخلّت عنهم لعبث التهميش والإهمال.

أظهر مقدرة كبيرة
على القيادة والتأثير بالنخب اللبنانية والجماهير

لم يشكل ظهور الإمام الصدر، في البداية، صدمة سلبية بين العائلات التقليدية والدينية النافذة، لكنه مع تصاعد حركته التغييرية في وجه الإقطاع التقليدي، واتساع تأييده الجماهيري، ما سهّل إطلاق حركته التغييرية، فتوّج نشاطه بصهر العناصر العلمانية الشابة في مشروعه، من خلال تقويض الشرعية الدينية الممنوحة للزعامة التقليدية، مستفيداً من الواقع السياسي والاجتماعي، في الجنوب والبقاع والضواحي البيروتية، لتبدأ مسيرة التغيير الشامل لدور الشيعة في لبنان.

اتخذ الإمام الصدر من القضية الاجتماعية أولوية، وحمل شعار «رفع الحرمان عن الجنوب والبقاع» مرتكزاً لمواجهة خصومه من الزعامات الإقطاعية التقليدية، وعلى رأسهم كامل الأسعد، ثمّ الأحزاب اليسارية، وعلى رأسها الحزب الشيوعي، لمنعها من «التهام الشباب الشيعيّ أيديولوجياً وحزبياً (1).»

فهو على الرغم من تمسّكه بالثابت الديني، فقد سخّره لخدمة الانتماء إلى الهوية الوطنية، وعمل على تأسيس هوية اجتماعية تجمع ما بين إعلاء شأن الطائفة والتمسك بالوطن، على غرار بقية الطوائف. وبذلك استبدل العصب العائلي بالعصب المذهبي الديني، واستطاع من خلاله أن يستقطب شرائح متعددة، كانت مشرذمة الولاءات بين العائلة التقليدية وخياراتها المتعددة، والأحزاب اليسارية وشعاراتها، فضلاً عن إعادة إحيائه فكرة مأسسة الانتماء والهوية الدينية، فأعاد إحياء «جمعية البرّ والإحسان» التي أسسها السيد عبد الحسين شرف الدين عام 1948 في صور، لتكون منطلقاً لنشاطه الاجتماعيّ والخدماتي، وفي ذلك إعادة لتجربة الجمعية الخيرية العاملية في بيروت، ثمّ جاء تأسيسه للمجلس الإسلامي الشيعي الأعلى في لبنان، عام 1969، ليشكّل نقطة تحول رئيسة، في جوهر الزعامة التقليدية المطلقة. كما استطاع بناء مؤسسات تعليمية ومهنية واجتماعية، بعدما غابت لعقود طويلة، في ظل تقصير الدولة مؤسساتياً، وخدماتياً في الجنوب والبقاع، فأراد من تثبيت وعي الشيعة بهويتهم الطائفية والوطنية التأكيد على كونهم مواطنين لهم الحق في التنمية المتوازنة، ورفع الحرمان، والدفاع عنهم أمام الاعتداءات الإسرائيلية (2).

وقام بنسج علاقات متعددة مع جميع الأطراف الفاعلة وطنياً وجنوبياً، وأظهر مقدرة كبيرة على القيادة والتأثير بالنخب اللبنانية والجماهير، فقد منحه الرئيس فؤاد شهاب الجنسية اللبنانية عام 1963، وأضحى ضيفاً دائماً على الندوة اللبنانية، التي ضمّت في صفوفها النخب السياسية والفكرية اللبنانية، فوصفه ميشال أسمر بـ»رجل الزمن الآتي»، وربطته علاقات مع رجالات الصحافة الكبار، وعلى رأسهم غسّان تويني، وحاول قدر الإمكان الاستقلالية في خطّه السياسيّ، رغم تشبيكه مروحة من العلاقات السياسية الداخلية والخارجية على قاعدة دعم مشروعه التغييريّ.

اتّصف بالجرأة على الاعتراض على تجاوزات السلطة بحقّ مواطنيها الجنوبيين، الذين كانوا يتعرّضون يومياً للاعتداءات الإسرائيلية، فأعلن الإضراب العام لدعم أهل الجنوب، ونشأ نتيجة ذلك «مجلس الجنوب، وشكّل هيئة نصرة الجنوب مع الكاردينال أنطونيوس خريش، ومجموعة كبيرة من علماء ورجال دين مسلمين ومسيحيين، كما أنه اعترض على المقاومة الفلسطينية، رغم تحالفه معها، بعدما زادت تجاوزاتها ضدّ الجنوبيين، فخاطب أبا عمّار قائلاً: «يا أبا عمّار، بعمامتي أحمي المقاومة الفلسطينية، لكن لن أسكت عن تجاوزاتها ضدّ الناس في الجنوب (3).»

وعليه، فالإمام الصدر هو الباعث الحقيقي «للشيعية السياسية اللبنانية»، التي تجعل من البعد الوطني أولوية في حركتها الداخلية، وتجعل من لبنان وطناً نهائياً لجميع أبنائه ومكوناته المختلفة، يجب الدفاع عنه بكل الوسائل حتى لو غلت التضحيات، على قاعدة الشراكة لا الهيمنة، والمشروعية الوطنية لا الفئوية، وهذا ما يفسر الاندفاعة الشيعية في حماية لبنان من الاعتداءات الإسرائيلية، والخطر التكفيري.

هوامش

1ـ عبد الرؤوف سنّو: «حرب لبنان 1975-1990، تفكّك الدولة وتصدّع المجتمع»، المجلد الأول، مرجع سابق، ص: 145.
2 ـ طلال عتريسي: «تغيّر أحوال شيعة لبنان»، في: «الشيعة في لبنان من التهميش إلى المشاركة الفاعلة»، مرجع سابق، ص: 245
3 ـ انظر: «المجلس الإسلامي الشيعي الأعلى وحقوق الطائفة»، كتيّب خاص صادر عن المجلس الإسلامي الشيعي الأعلى، كانون الثاني 1974، ص: 10.
* أستاذ جامعي

Lebanon’s future: Lebanon’s Mutasarrifate Take II:

August 10, 2020

A crossroads of civilizations, Lebanon has been often involved in wars, invasions, and sectarian warfare. Image depicts Lebanese soldiers in 1861, right after a big clash between Maronite Christians and Druze muslims.

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

Most of the current instability in the Levant and the whole Middle East is inadvertently and inadvertently a result of the obsession about Israel’s security; both from the Israeli as well as the American sides. That said, many of the region’s problems are deep-rooted and go back to times before Israel was created and before America had any influence.

In the middle part of the Nineteenth Century, and whilst the entire Levant was under Ottoman rule, sectarian strife between Lebanese Maronites (a regional Catholic sect) and Druze (regional esoteric Muslim-based faith) left thousands savagely butchered, towns decimated, and civilians displaced. The strife escalated in 1860-1861, and as it was obvious back then that the Ottoman Empire was not far from its demise, the West was looking for half an opportunity to interfere in the Levant; and under the guise of protecting the Lebanese Maronites, coerced the Ottomans to give Mount Lebanon autonomy, under the auspices of the West.

This all happened prior to WWI, before Sykes Picot, and before any single Western nation could make a claim on Lebanon. The decision had then to be reached by consensus. This is why it was jointly reached by France, Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia. The Ottomans had no choice but to accept and dilute their influence in the region by giving the West a post within the Ottoman Empire.

The French proposed that the ruler should be given the title of Plenipotentriary, and the word was translated to a Turkish word of Arabic origin, Mutasarrif, but that person was appointed by the West; not by Turkey, and the political entity itself was called the Mutasarrifate of Mount Lebanon.

For readers interested in my take and analysis on Lebanon’s recent history in a more detailed but concise narrative, they can go to this reference. In brief, Grand Liban (Greater Lebanon) was created by the French under the demand of the then Maronite Patriarch Howayyek in 1920. It was meant to give Lebanese Christians a sense of security, and to be a neutral country in the Middle East; with a Western outlook.

This article will not discuss the geopolitical changes that have happened since. They are in the link above. That said, with the many changes over the last century, the situation in Lebanon has become untenable.

In summary, and among other things, Lebanon has to find a way to deal with Israel, with Syria which is the heart of the axis of resistance and support of Hezbollah, its Arab neighbours who are predominantly against Syria and Hezbollah, devise a united policy as to the status and level of the presence of Hezbollah, find a way out of the current financial collapse and redefine the country’s position as either a neutral country or a spearhead of resistance.

But this is easier said than done not only because of the political divisions, but also because of the endemic corruption of its Mafia lords; Lebanon’s ruling elite and their cronies.

These are the family lines of the same lords that led Lebanon into the civil war. They all have little armies, real armies; some with tanks and artillery. The Lebanese Army is incapable of crushing them, and even if it attempts to, it will have to attack them all at once; not one at a time without risking being accused of impartiality and giving favours.

Those leaders are accused of having thieved $800 Bn from Lebanon and siphoned it overseas. And in as much as they loathe each other, they equally need each other because the existence of each of them is contingent upon that of the others.

Much has been blamed in the past on the disunity of the Lebanese themselves, but when literally millions took to the streets in October 2019, they were united, they carried the slogan of ‘kellon yani kellon’ (all of them means all of them). But before too long, meddlers and thugs were set up inside their camps wreaking havoc and disunity. The protestors were hoping that the Lebanese Army would make a move and start arresting the leaders and the cronies implanted amongst them, but the army itself is bogged down in the same game of dirty politics and loyalties.

In simple terms, the Lebanese people can become united if they have the will and they have done so in the past. They have learned this lesson the hard way, but they simply do not have the means and the power to dislodge the ruling families who control everything; all the way from daily bread to election results.

The country has been struggling for years with mountains of rubbish that the government has not been able to process, electricity shortages, water shortages, soaring unemployment just to name a few problems. It is little wonder why the economy collapsed and the Lira lost nearly 80% of its value in the last few months. Add to this COVID-19, the Caesar Act, and now the Beirut Sea-Port explosions.

Of interest to note is that the latest events in Lebanon have been capitalized on to raise the level of dissent against Hezbollah. According to some, Hezbollah was blamed for everything; even including the sea-port disaster.

Sometimes however, disasters offer silver linings. The cries of Lebanese citizens in the streets of major cities did not generate any global compassion, but after the massive blast, there seems a change in this respect.

Many nations have come forward and offered to assist the Lebanese people, and their governments are not shying away from stating that they will not entrust this aid to the Lebanese Government for distribution to those in need. This is because the whole world, not only the Lebanese people, no longer trust Lebanese officials.

Thus far, among a list of nations, aid and offers of aid came from Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the USA, and ironically, even from Israel .

But no aid offer has thus far come close to that of France. French President Marcon did not only make a promise, but he also visited Lebanon and walked on Ground Zero (thereby shooting the concept of nuclear attack in the guts) and made a very intriguing yet audacious promise. He promised Lebanon a ‘new political pact’.

What does a ‘new political pact’ exactly mean?

This promise harks back to the days of colonization when France did not only actually draw the map of the new state of Lebanon and gave it a constitution that was shaped on France’s own, but it also goes back to the days when the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate was created, does it not?

Macron went further and promised to return to Lebanon on the 1st of September 2020, a very ominous date indeed, a date that marks the centenary of the declaration of Grand Liban.

But Lebanon is no longer under French mandate, and France is unable to receive such a mandate without international support. That said, as unbelievable as it may sound, more than fifty thousand Lebanese have signed a petition asking France to take control of Lebanon for the next ten years. And speaking of former colonizers, if such a poll was taken for the return of Turkish rule, perhaps more would sign it as the popularity of Erdogan is growing within the Sunni street.

This is not to say that Lebanese people want to be ruled by a foreign entity. It is simply because they are feeling beaten, robbed, hungry, terrorised, so helpless and have lost total faith in their own leaders and political process and are desperately screaming out for help from outside.

If the events of 1860-1861 have generated enough Western ‘sympathy’ to ‘help’ the people of Lebanon, then the events of 2020 are much more prominent and offer a much bigger opportunity and lure for a new-style intervention.

But once again, France cannot get away with doing this alone. With Russia already on the ground in Syria and America looking for a new role in Lebanon, France would have to get them on board somehow. It is plausible that a new international conference that of course includes Russia but also Turkey, but not Iran, may soon be convened to discuss the political future of Lebanon.

This time, the West will have a significantly larger incentive than the one it had back in 1861, because this time around, it will have one small eye on Lebanon, and the bigger eye on the security of Israel, as well as seeing in this an opportunity they have not been able to achieve by other means in order to reach a deal that stamps out Iranian influence and presence just at the door step of Israel’s borders.

If the international community were serious about helping the Lebanese people and the Lebanese Army, it is quite capable of freezing the assets of the corrupt leaders and repatriating those funds to jump-start the economy again. Lebanon has a huge wealth of highly qualified professionals, many of whom currently are unemployed, and are desperately needing work in a country that desperately needs rebuilding. But would they be trusted, given their miserable track record, and who would they be answerable to if they breached the agreed mandate?

But such a plan, devised by an international conference would not bear fruit unless it puts teeth into the decision, sending troops to disarm the relatively small militia of the corrupt politicians, forcefully if needed. Theoretically, and with good intentions, this is conceivable. However, since when has such an operation ever been genuinely executed and free of abuse and various stakeholder’s pursuing their nefarious agendas. How could we forget Libya? That said, the intervention in Libya was NATO-based, the presence of Russia and possibly China in any international agreement over Lebanon will add more balance.

But no one will be able to disarm the formidable army of the true resistance, Hezbollah, any more than Hezbollah will agree to lay down its weapons.

According to my analysis and predictions, it appears likely that some type of intervention will occur to cleanse the country of the political elite and their private interest militias. The pact will draw a line somewhere in South Lebanon, keep an area under Hezbollah’s control, and have Hezbollah to agree to leave Lebanese politics. This would be the biggest concession that Hezbollah will agree to, if it does. This will not give Israel all of what it wants, because such an outcome will not safeguard it from Hezbollah’s rockets, however Israel cannot expect more than that, if it does.

Russia may use this ‘opportunity’ to reach a way out of the deadlock and find a political settlement with the USA over their differences in Syria. But for this to happen, Syria will also need to agree to remove Iranian influence and presence from Syrian soil, as this fact has caused so much growing divisiveness in the region and provided an excuse for further Israeli aggression and US presence in Syria.

Most ironically in this particular context, even Chairman Nasrallah referred to silver linings in his latest speech on the 8th of August 2020, following the sea-port disaster. He said “from the womb of the tragedy, opportunities are born, and that international discussions emerging from this incident are an opportunity that must be capitalized upon by the Lebanese” I do not profess to know what Chairman Nasrallah meant, but he did add that all of those who are hedging their bets on the failure of the resistance will eventually fail.

Lebanon has probably gone the full circle, and the age of Mutasarrifate Take II is possibly only around the corner.

If Marcon is true to his word, for better or for worse he needs to act fast because he knows that the condition of the Lebanese people is dire. But no doubt, given his country’s history great skepticism prevails.

Tragically, such an outcome will catapult Lebanon right back into the age of Western custodianship. Depending on its fine details, and unless it stipulates the lifting of sanctions on Syria, its outcome may have serious further economic repercussions on Syria. Furthermore, it will take away many of the achievements of the Axis of Resistance, realistically however, such an outcome is not far-fetched.

The murderous, greedy, filthy and corrupt Lebanese political leaders would not have only destroyed Lebanon’s economy, but also returned it to the doldrums of the age of colonization.

Bassil from Tripoli: We Will Not Accept Dividing of Lebanon into Cantons

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July 6, 2019

Minister of Foreign Affairs Gibran Bassil, said Saturday afternoon, during a meeting with FPM cadres in the city of Tripoli that he wouldn’t “accept that Lebanon be divided into cantons or restricted areas in the face of the Lebanese.”

“Lebanese citizens will not be isolated in a region or a district,” he said, “We have the right to opinion and freedom of expression, and I thank all those who gathered to protest my visit.”

“A lot was said about this visit. The purpose of visiting Tripoli today is to distort its meaning because they want us to stay away from each other,” he went on.

The minister stressed that his visit to the Mountain last Sunday was not “to provoke any quarrel,” noting that the FPM did not participate in any war and was always with the Lebanese army against the militias.

Finally, he considered that his visit to Tripoli aims to promote coexistence in this city.

SourceNNA

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