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Who owns Lebanon? | Ya Libnan | Lebanon News Live from Beirut

April 14, 2008 @ No Comments

Who owns Lebanon?

Saturday, 12 April, 2008 @ 4:47 PM

By Ghassan Karam
Special to Ya Libnan
Who owns a country, I mean who is it that really owns a country?

in search of lebanon_ff.jpgWhen such a seminal question is raised it is not meant to show an interest in who holds title to property but the question is raised in an effort to get a handle on who in society is empowered to make the important decisions that shape the social, political and economic policies for the state. Who is it that is responsible for the design of the national fabric?

In many parts of the world the above question would be dismissed not because it is not important but because citizens view such a question as being very so elementary that they would be surprised about even the need to ask it. They would regard it as being the epitome of triteness and banality. It would be taken for granted that in the same way that the sun shines every morning the stakeholders, the everyday citizens own the nation and that elected officials are their only to serve the public.

Elected officials are held accountable for every one of their actions and if they cannot deliver on their promises then their term of service will become short indeed. Unfortunately this is not the case in the Arabic speaking world including Lebanon. This is a world where such a question is not raised because to contemplate the possibility of ownership by anyone besides the anointed tribal lords is tantamount to sacrilege.
What is truly disconcerting about this political setup is the daily scenes of the victims praising their victimizers. That is nothing short of feudal societies where the serfs gave everything that they have, including their lives, for the protection of the Lord of the Manor.

The mindless shouts of “By blood, by soul, we sacrifice for you Bashar” is not that much different from the hoodlums in Beirut who roam the street terrorizing neighborhoods because of a 2 minute comedic sketch that made some light hearted fun of their hallowed leader or those that take to the streets in their cars filling the night sky with thousands upon thousands of rounds from their illegal guns just because their tribal leader gave a speech on TV.

It would be easy to blame the Lebanese political class for the huge problems that the country is facing and that would not be wrong. But the real failure in Lebanon, just as well as the rest of the Arab world, is the failure for responsible citizenship to make an appearance. It is time that we, the citizens, wake up and take control of our destiny. The country belongs to us and we have to hold the feet of the politicians to the fire so to speak. Traditional politicians and traditional tribal lords belong to a traditional world that is hanging to life because of our failure to assert ourselves. If Lebanon is to grow and prosper then we, the citizens, must change. The blame for failure rests upon our shoulders more so than the shoulders of our failed politicians. Democracy demands that we become involved, active and that we insist on accountability. If we do not make this transition then the best that we can hope for is a continuation of the current status quo. That would be tragic.

Ghassan Karam welcomes your correspondence at

Source: Ya Libnan Exclusive

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