Opinion: There are now two scenarios for Lebanon – one of unity and progress, the other of degeneration and street fighting; and in the Dahia district of Beirut sits the Hezbollah leader, who can decide an entire country’s fate

“No one is greater than their nation,” is how Lebanese Prime Minister Said Hariri concluded his resignation speech on Tuesday, quoting his murdered father.

Hariri answered the demands of the protesters who filled the streets of Lebanon, from Tripoli to Nabatieh, in an attempt to salvage his country and whatever support he had left.

Protests in Tripoli, Lebanon (Photo: AFP)
Protests in Tripoli, Lebanon (Photo: AFP)


Lebanon’s political system since the end of the civil war in the late 1980s has been based on a clear divide of power: a Christian president, a Sunni prime minister and a Shiite speaker of parliament.

The story of the 2019 protests is a story of a generation that has had enough of that system; a generation born into the middle of the civil war and therefore unscarred by it.

It is a generation of those who are fed up with rolling blackouts every two hours, garbage in the streets, blatant corruption infiltrating almost every facet of civil life – from real estate to the banks and even gas, down to the almost 40% unemployment rate.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri announces his resignation
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri announces his resignation


The hundreds of thousands of demonstrators are sure that the corruption and the lackluster ability of the state to govern stems from this ethnic-based political system and they want to remove it and begin a new, a civil-based system.

Desoite this, there is a sizeable number of people, from all ethnic groups, who stand to lose greatly from regime change in Lebanon.

Even though in the beginning the protests included Shiite supporters of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and Amal, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah almost immediately changed course and publicly came out against the protests and the attempted toppling of the existing political order.

Hariri, it must be noted, was an important facilitator for Hezbollah – allowing Lebanon to do business with the world, even as the state was essentially run by a terrorist organization.

Hassan Nasrallah (Photos: Reuters )
Hassan Nasrallah (Photos: Reuters )


Nasrallah cannot afford to lose this fight, which is why in the last few days the group began publishing propaganda showing the protest rallies as gathering spots for stoners and hipsters, there find women and enjoy the music and togetherness, all funded by Saudi Arabia and the United States.

When the smear campaigns didn’t work, they moved to more direct methods of action, sending black shirt-clad thugs to violently disrupt protests.

So where does Lebanon go from here? There are two possible scenarios, both rather extreme.

Hezbollah activists destroying protest camps in Beirut
Hezbollah activists destroying protest camps in Beirut


In the first scenario, everyone involved understands that from the moment of the prime minister’s resignation, the current coalition became history and a technocracy must now be put in place.

In parallel, preparations for a snap election must get underway, before the country goes bankrupt and people start losing their savings.

Nasrallah understands it’s smarter to roll with the wave and not crash into it, or else there won’t even be a cash cow left to milk.

In this scenario, the political system renews itself and for example a multi-ethnic party is created that goes on to win the majority in the elections.

In the other scenario, Nasrallah flips the table and starts a counter-protest that could lead to war on the streets.

As a result, the Lebanese economy collapses, the supply of oil and flour depletes quickly and anyone who can escape Lebanon does so.

Lebanon is filled to the brim with different ethnicities, parties and interests, but the man who ultimately decides their fate sits in the Dahia district of Beirut.

Nasrallah’s Iranian patrons are already dealing with a violent uprising in Iraq, are stretched across the region from Syria to Yemen and are suffering heavily from the American sanctions against them.

The question is whether Lebanon is worth adding to its list of headaches as it seeks the status of regional powerhouse.

As reported by Ynetnews