An aerial view taken on October 21, 2019, shows Lebanese protesters rallying outside Mohammed al-Amin Mosque and the nearby Maronite Cathedral of St. George in downtown Beirut, on the fifth day of mass protests against the ruling elite. (AFP via Getty Images)

Power Without People and People Without Power

Nida Al-Watan, Lebanon, October 26

The reform movement in Lebanon is tougher than the legendary Gordian knot. History tells us that Gordius of Phrygia tightened a knot that no one could untie. That is, until Alexander the Great came and cut it with his sword. What Lebanon has been suffering from is precisely this kind of problem. Our detached leaders, sitting in their ivory tower, tightened the knot of reform and guarded it, ensuring that no one could reach it and cut it free. But the young men and women who triggered a cross-sectarian, regional and political uprising in the past few weeks managed to unravel the knot and break the blockade imposed by the regime. What I have come to realize through the millions of Lebanese people who have taken to our cities’ squares, throughout all parts of the day and night, is the following: Lebanon is a country ruled by power without people, something that is opposed by people without power. Thankfully, those in our country’s leadership positions have lost their credibility. The massive protests have paved the way to the restructuring of power. And there’s no turning back. As usual, the government responded with more of its old tricks. Instead of dissolving the government and establishing a temporary coalition that would represent the people’s will and oversee the political reform process, the opposite happened. The government that pushed Lebanon into a political, economic and financial abyss responded by approving a few reforms on paper. Similarly, many voices in the international community suggested that the resignation of the government would lead to a complete political collapse. But the opposite is true: The continuation of this government is a recipe for collapse. Those who have enacted terrible economic and financial policies are the last to succeed. Now the most dangerous things standing in the way of the revolution are twofold. The first is that the people’s anger will not successfully translate into a policy and a roadmap for a clear political plan. The second is that the revolution will be thwarted by pushing people back into their political and sectarian alliances, thereby dividing and conquering them. But the people who made history see the importance of what they did by being a people’s dream and a nightmare of power. The challenge is to continue the revolution after leaving the squares. The people who made history and took to our streets over the course of the past few weeks see the importance of what they achieved. They have become the people’s dream and a nightmare to the powers. Our challenge is to now continue the revolution, even after leaving the squares. – Rafiq Khoury (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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