June 9, 2009

THERE IS NO LEBANON:

Why Would Lebanon's Christians Side With Iran?: Because they're afraid of Saudi Arabia. (Brian Palmer, June 8, 2009, Slate)

Sectarianism has been enshrined in the Lebanese political system since its independence. In 1932, the French colonial government conducted a census, determining that Maronite Christians represented a slight majority in Lebanon. When the country won its independence in 1943, parliamentary seats were allocated based on the 1932 census figures: six Christian representatives for every five Muslim representatives. The 1989 Taif Agreement, which ended the Lebanese Civil War, adjusted the balance to 50-50. The highest offices are also distributed among Christians, Sunnis, and Shiites. (This confessional system makes it virtually impossible for any nonsectarian political movement, such as the Lebanese Communist Party, to gain significant power.)

No one really knows how many Christians are living in Lebanon today. The government has refused to conduct a census, because the results might upset the fragile Taif Agreement and plunge the country back into civil war.


Given that you can't have a census because it would show that the majority are being dominated by minorities, what's wrong with a Civil War?

MORE:
Lebanese elections: When faking democracy works (Kamal Dib, June 01, 2009, Daily Star)

The Lebanese elections scheduled for June 7 cannot be taken seriously as a democratic expression. Ahem - from a Western perspective, that is. Although party politics are at the core of a functioning democracy, political parties in Lebanon are marginal at best. Almost 100 percent of the electoral lists are controlled or run by city and country zaims (bosses). Such bosses - we prefer to call the warlord and merchant class of Lebanon (see our book, "Warlords and Merchants") - take political parties as small partners under their wing.

For a few months now, the elections more or less have been a "done-deal." The Lebanese Parliament has 128 seats, based on geographic ridings that follow religious representation (18 groups in all). The bosses, you see, have already figured out and struck the necessary alliances and vote exchanges, etc., to guarantee that at least 115 (if not 120) seats are already named. That merely leaves a few, mostly Christian, seats in some localities (such as in East Beirut and in a mountainous region) to save face that some competition did take place.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 9, 2009 6:17 AM
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