Lebanon in the Balance

Tarek Heggy
Tarek Heggy

Lebanon in the Balance

I was asked about Lebanon. The question was as follows:

How do you assess the political situation in Lebanon, which I know you love?

I love Maronite Lebanon, I clearly answered. It (Lebanon) reflects my love for the old Egypt, the Cosmopolitan Egypt, i.e. the Mediterranean Egypt, of which only its memory and spectre remain in the 70 to 90-year old Egyptian movies.

I am an Egyptian man who has devoted his intellectual, mental and cultural life to promoting the values of modernity and contemporaneity, with much effort put in in a series of books, articles, dialogues and lectures to confront calls for the cultural “past” and “fundamentalism.”

This was the reason behind my fondness for Lebanon since the 1960s. The country is more modern and incorporates the cultures of the Mediterranean.

This Lebanon, too, suffered as much as “Egypt did 70 years ago” but in a different level and manner.

I can now give you my assessment of Lebanon’s current political situation and add my “vision” for the future of political life in this unique country compared to the other Arabic-speaking countries.

The current situation in Lebanon is the result of the following: First, a history of sectarianism that the Lebanese have not been able to overcome since September 1920, when General Henri Gouraud declared the state of Lebanon. Second, the Iranian demon represented by “Hezbollah,” which did not exist prior to the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war in 1975. Third, the situation in the vicinity since 1979, mainly represented by the policies of Syria, Iran, Israel, the Sunni/Shiite conflict, and others.

Unless the elements inside and outside Lebanon change, the current situation will certainly remain as it is. These elements are namely Iran’s influence in the region and in Lebanon, prioritizing the Lebanese citizenship over sectarianism and the external pressures on Lebanon.

I guess the current situation in Lebanon and the external influences on the country will not witness major changes anytime soon. Therefore, I think that the life conditions of the Lebanese Christians will most likely become worse and eventually may lead them to establish their independence in one way or another.

In addition, another fact that worsens the situation of the Lebanese Christians is that the population growth of the Shiite Lebanese, the majority of who completely follow the Iranian regime, is more than twice the rate of the population growth of the Christian Lebanese.

Finally, Arabic-speaking societies have witnessed throughout the past 50 years a religious obsession phenomenon, which led to a decrease in the number of Christians in these societies and an increased pressure on the remaining Christians.

It came in line with the growing societal divisions that amounted to civil wars in some Arab countries.

Amid this incendiary situation comes Lebanon and its unsolvable dilemmas, as well as the Christian Lebanese.

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