By now, everything that needs to be said about the 'spontaneous' 'non-sectarian''non-political' 'isolated' clashes that took place in Beirut on the night of Wednesday 25th August has been said. No matter the level of outrage, sadness and despair expressed by the Lebanese, they will all calmly get back to their Iftars and their cocktail parties while avoiding Burj Abi Haidar for the next 48 hours. What grabbed my attention in the meantime were the stale stock phrases used by a number of politicians that seemed to echo the discourse of the civil war we thought had long been buried. The lowering of expectations is now in fashion across the board. Fares Soueid led the way with his call for a ' demilitarised Beirut' , a slogan popular circa 1987, as if the rest of the country deserved being turned into a shooting range. MP Houry, a shining bright light of the Future movement, tended to agree. He came short of calling for an Afghan approach to security, with Verdun functionning as a provincial capital (read Kandahar without the British). Khodr Habib, another Hariri invention, would like to add Tripoli to the list, supposedly with a direct naval link to the capital manned by Sunnis for Sunnis.
But the biggest lowering of expectations came from an unusual source. In his address yesterday Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, better known for raising Adrenalin levels, refused to blame minister Gibran Bassil for the electricity crisis. He went even further and also absolved his predecessors from any responsibility adding philosophically that we (the people) needed to be patient. Patience is not a Lebanese virtue, but short-term memory is; something the SSNP excel at. This self-labelled Social Nationalist party (not be confused with National Socialism) called on all factions to uncouple socio-economical and political issues, because politics should only be concerned with important patriotic issues. It is worthwhile mentionning in passing the usual crowd who accused Israel of instigating the in-fighting between the two pro-SYRIAN factions. At this rate I predict that one day all the Lebanese (and some Syrians) will wake up and find themselves agents of Israel through some unconscious process. Bring on the therapists!