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    Ayman Mhanna’s contribution to Kelli Arena’s blog

    Kelli Arena

    Kelli Arena is an award winning journalist, communications expert and trainer. For 25 years, she worked as a news manager and on-air correspondent for CNN. She has covered every major news story from the 1987 stock market crash to the September 11th attacks to terrorism hearings at Guantanamo Bay.

    She posted a blog post today on her recent visit to Beirut and asked me to write a few paragraph describing how Lebanon is dealing with the region’s crises:

    Lebanon has had its own spring back in 2005. After 29 years of Syrian military presence and complete control over the political system, the Lebanese people stood up for their country’s freedom and sovereignty.

    More than one million citizens (out of a population of 4.5 million) gathered on March 14, 2005, in downtown Beirut (in what became known as the Cedar Revolution) to demand justice for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, killed a month earlier in a car bomb attack.

    The Beirut Spring, however, did not last long. Political rivalries, business-as-usual corruption and the domination of non-state armed militias thwarted the Lebanese people’s quest for a prosperous and truly democratic country.

    Unlike neighboring countries, Lebanon does not suffer from a very powerful and oppressive state. Lebanon actually lacks a real state.

    A myriad of confessional feudal lords and former militia leaders control Lebanese politics while the official state institutions are deprived of any significant power.

    The deep political divide between the Lebanese people also prevents them from engaging in one unifying movement for a better country. Any uprising would be depicted as targeting the “other camp” rather than an aspiration to a common good.

    The Lebanese people have, nonetheless, quite a strange way of dealing with this sad reality and with any crisis they encounter. They just pretend it does not exist.

    Check the party scene in Beirut, the car market, the real estate bubble or the new fashion trends; you would believe that Lebanon’s stability is strongly rooted.

    That’s if you don’t scratch the surface.

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