In psychological jargon the term selective abstraction refers to when a person dismisses the positive and focuses on the negative aspects of a particular situation. Since the Doha accord, engineered with great personal effort by the Qatari dynasty and other Arab regimes, the Lebanese seem to be engaged in a reverse process of completely ignoring vital information that might suggest that all is not right in the country of the Cedar despite the impending election of the only candidate to the Presidential election, General Michel Suleiman. While this tendency allows them to bounce back and make the best of any hint of opportunity , as witnessed by the white balloons, the self-congratulatory (Mabrouk) emails, the rush on airline bookings and the 25% increase in the share price of SOLIDERE; this unfounded optimism carries in it the seeds of the next crisis to come. Without indulging in cruelty I will attempt to remind them of the negative elements in their current state of affairs:
-They are electing for the second consecutive time an Army general with no popular support, no political program and the military establishment as his last refuge.
-They have again interpreted, modified and frankly wiped their bums with the nation’s constitution to the point that its validity as a useful reference document has to be questioned.
-The media war between various factions shows no sign of let down with accusations of treason and counter treason.
-While a cabinet of national unity might defuse the tension on the street, previous experience with that format have led to stagnation and inefficiency in government.
-Instead of a direct confrontation between the Shiite and Sunni factions, the nearing electoral contest is likely to heighten tensions within the Christian street, as other constituencies are more or less guaranteed to one or the other of the dominating sectarian tribes.
-The issue of Hezbollah’s weapons has not been resolved. There is less of a consensus on them than ever before and any clash with Israel is likely to resurrect internal grievances.
-Other factions are likely to continue rearming following the defeat they suffered at the hand of opposition militias.
-The economic situation is dire for the majority of the population. Its resolution is not a priority for any of the major parties.
- There has been no improvement in the relationship with neighbouring Syria.
-The perpetrators of the assassinations and other act of terrors since 2005 have still not been identified. The international tribunal for Lebanon remains an empty promise.
-The situation of Palestinian refugees remains dramatic. While the threat of their ‘settlement’ is used in the internal political bazaar they remain economical and social pariahs in the country where many of them were born since 1948.
- Secularism is not on the agenda.
I probably missed something and would be gladly reminded of it. On the positive side General Suleiman’s primary school teacher reassured us in an Al-Jazeera interview that the young Michel was ‘popular at school with every other pupil requesting to be sat next to him’. I breathe a sigh of relief!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Mabrouk (or the silly euphoria)
By Joseph El-Khoury