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Those Who Drowned Lebanon Claim To Be Our Saviors

Last week, a boat carrying 80 migrants seeking to make their way to Europe capsized in open water after the Lebanese Navy intercepted the vessel. At least 35 of the boat’s passengers lost their lives during the horrible incident. Nevertheless, the Lebanese authorities somehow had the audacity to shield themselves from this tragedy and play innocent. This event summarizes everything that is wrong with the human, national, economic, social, and political suffering that has been inflicted upon the people of Lebanon in recent years. The only thing we heard from officials was a weak denunciation. Not a single person demanded a fair and transparent investigation because everyone knew that such an inquiry would lead to the inevitable and expected outcome of extricating any politician from responsibility. We’ve seen this happen time and again, most recently with the so-called investigation into the explosion that took place in the Port of Beirut on August 4, 2020. In sum, not a single official resigned, not a single soldier was dismissed, and not a single measure was taken in response to the death of dozens of innocent citizens. Rather, President Michel Aoun, in a session of the Council of Ministers, diverted attention away from the incident by speaking extensively about the displaced Syrian refugees, while Prime Minister Najib Mikati shed crocodile tears. The Council of Ministers then tasked the military court with the investigation. This court, based on evidence accumulated over the decades, has mastered the art of covering up all mistakes made by Lebanon’s military and security institutions, whether they are legitimate like the army or illegitimate like Hizbullah. Unfortunately, just like with every other crisis we’ve experienced in Lebanon, this incident will also be swept aside and covered up until it’s forgotten about. This is the modus operandi of dealing with any political mishap in Lebanon, whether it’s the “boat of death,” the Beirut Port blast, the economic meltdown, the banking crisis, the electricity disaster, or the political impasse with the Gulf. Sadly, those who keep getting us embroiled in these crises are also those who claim to rescue us from them. They present themselves as our saviors, even though they are the primary reason for our misery. The most troubling part is that there are groups within the Lebanese public trying to escape from drowning, who still believe these politicians’ lies and help them secure a parliamentary majority one election after another. –Faris Khashan (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)