Justice… A bird of fire | Asharq AL-awsat

The word “justice” was heard several times during the first session of the newly elected Lebanese parliament, immediately followed by the word “cancelled” shouted by the speaker of the parliament representing the majority of the ruling coalition.

It’s as if the current government is unable to hear words like “justice for the victims of the Beirut explosion” because some of those accused of being responsible for their murder, their injuries and their displacement were seated among their peers in Parliament. Nor can they hear “justice for Lokman Slim”, because the party accused of his assassination is well represented in Parliament, nor “justice for the depositors” who have lost their savings due to the complicity of the authorities, Parliament and banks.

Social media users were quick to point the finger at the demand for “justice” and its impending cancellation. In the end, the newly elected Parliament, with 13 new deputies belonging to the “October 17 Revolution” bloc, has not yet escaped those responsible for having led Lebanon into the abyss and is hampering all efforts for a solution. The same goes for the executive and judicial powers, which gravitate around the “traditional ruling blocs”.

It is no coincidence that the supporters of October 17 and the supporters of the traditional parties came together, each from a different point of view, and harshly criticized the “change of deputies”. Unfortunately for the latter, the hopes placed in them are commensurate with the extent of the destruction we have recently witnessed in Lebanon. While their rivals have all the state tools, funds, weapons and media they need, these MPs have nothing but an audience demanding that their disasters be resolved.

As for justice, a term that was repeated during the first session of the new Lebanese Parliament, it rather resembles the firebird of Slavic mythology. Her ability to radiate light and her dazzling beauty are only as hard as it is to reach and lock her in a cage. The best one can hope for is to obtain a feather from the wing of a firebird to lighten the darkness of one’s home and one’s life.

This sought-after but paralyzed justice would appear increasingly elusive the further we pursued it. Giving superpowers to new MPs does not help them or their constituents, nor do attempts to reinvigorate the political process. The fact that in the midst of economic collapse we have powerful forces determined to defend the regime, even if it means opening that way through violence, assassination and naked repression, leaves little room for these representatives to begin to implement the programs and ideas they pushed, most of which are delusional. The regime, on the other hand, is rooted in the structure of Lebanese society, its sects, clans and social classes. She is aware of the threats posed by voices that challenge partial identities.

Some may think that what happened in Lebanon from the legislative elections, to the parliamentary session, was nothing but noisy quarrels over the causes of the death of their country, demonstrating that the actors in this theater are too weak to settle the situation, and are, in fact, “tokens” that the ruling group exploits to sell to foreign powers in Lebanon.

It is not unreasonable to believe that this comedy obscures another serious threat to Lebanon and the region, the one expressed in recent speeches by the Secretary General of Hezbollah, the specter of an imminent regional war based on a bet wrong about Lebanon’s oil and gas resources, which we still have to go through a long and thorny path to exploit.

The Secretary-General, addressing those celebrating the election of 13 MPs demanding change, told them what they don’t want to hear: there is no escaping this noose around your neck. We promise you nothing but wars, “victories” and bloodshed, and more civil strife, the disintegration of the state and the erosion of society. The pretexts for the next wars have already been formulated. If the argument of protecting Lebanon’s oil wealth at sea doesn’t hold up, then there’s nothing wrong with going to war for another reason.

So far, despite good intentions and strong but ineffectual voices for change in parliament, the kind of political bloc needed to dismantle the ruling clique and its networks, from banks to armed militias, has yet to be form. Destruction is always the only item on the agenda of regime owners and protectors. Lebanon has not developed a capacity to fight its diseases. Meanwhile, the feuds between this regime’s figures and its patrons continue, and politicians addicted to gambling with what they don’t have and continue to recalibrate according to tactical demands.

The dream of bringing justice to the victims of crimes committed by these corrupt, violent and irresponsible groups is far beyond our reach, a bird of fire. But it seems inevitable to run after him in the hope that a feather of hope will fall from the bird’s wing.

Elna M. Lemons