How Lebanon can break free from the past

How Lebanon can break free from the past

Lebanese anti-government protesters block a road in Lebanon’s northern port city of Tripoli on Wednesday, January 15, 2020. (AFP)
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Lebanon is stuck in the past — a no man’s land where there is no rule of law and no understanding of the innovation and changes coming to the world. It is a country where Carlos Ghosn, a fleeing fugitive, is received by the president and Hassan Nasrallah promises to avenge Qassem Soleimani, an Iranian national, with terror. Where else would this be accepted? Worst of all, some people — mainly public officials — consider both events to be justified.

In these two unrelated events, we can understand why the people of Lebanon, particularly the youth, have taken to the streets. They want nothing to do with these images of the past. The Lebanese are talented, tech savvy entrepreneurs with creative minds who are successful all over the world. Yet it seems that, in Lebanon, we go back to sectarianism and “blood and soil.” It is this archaic state of the country that needs to be torn down in order to put forward a vision for a rebuilt nation.

As the dust settles on the most impactful recent event — Soleimani’s demise — the protests in Lebanon will continue and will face the same ruthless answers from Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy, and the old state structure. It is, therefore, time to change everything. It is time to step into the age of innovation and disrupt the political, security and economic legacy that rules Lebanon. It is time for a new constitution and a new republic: One that empowers and gives the Lebanese people the capacity to fulfill their potential and seek a better future.

For this vision to come to fruition, there is an urgent need for the protesters to organize. A national transition committee needs to be prepared; one that will run the affairs of the country while preparing for a new constitution. All former political formations should be excluded from participating and its objectives should not be to anchor the country within a specific political orientation. In other words, this committee should not be a politburo or ersatz of the Ba’ath Party. It should be used to build state institutions. As it runs the country’s affairs, the committee will also have the responsibility of preparing for a new constitution, which will lead to a referendum. Only then can elections be held to choose the country’s new representatives.

As for now, it is too late for the country to be run by a government chosen by the regime, for legislative elections, or even for a so-called technocratic government.

Khaled Abou Zahr

As for now, it is too late for the country to be run by a government chosen by the regime, for legislative elections, or even for a so-called technocratic government.

Protests have made the will of the people clear but, if nothing is done to build new sovereign institutions, all will be lost and, worse, the forces of chaos can take over, especially as a steep financial crisis looms. A serious plan by a respected committee would also attract more support domestically and internationally. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. People need to see a clear path into the future, not just the rejection of the current regime.

If this plan is put forward, then Nasrallah’s threats can be compared to the buggy whip industry, which thrived when carriages were the main transportation method, but disappeared with the appearance of the automotive industry. If we do not prepare and work for this better future, then Lebanon will descend into chaos.

Once again, despite the gloomy current outlook, there is great hope for change. With more voices rising, Lebanon will not be a refuge for the ills of the past for long.

• Khaled Abou Zahr is CEO of Eurabia, a media and tech company. He is also the editor of Al Watan Al Arabi.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view