Lebanon, with its 7,000 years of history, was the home of the Phoenicians till 64 BC. It then became the leading centre for the Christians under the Romans and was housing Maronites, Sunnis, Shias, Druze, Roman Catholics and others before becoming an independent country after the French Mandate in 1943, following the long presence of the Ottoman Empire.
It became known as the ‘Switzerland of the Middle East’, and since its independence, is a parliamentary democracy based on confessionalism, with a Maronite President, representing once the majority religion, a Sunni Prime Minister, a Shia head of Parliament, a Jewish community, etc.
But the population has changed and the majority is no more the Maronites. The politicians of the country aimed at conserving their positions and gradually forgot the people they were supposed to represent.
Lebanon is a country of mixture, with three main languages – Arabic, French and English. The food is well known with its mezze and a mixture of a variety of starters. And the vast majority of its people being profoundly religious, are truly believers; and are proud to be so.
With time, in the last decade, a country which has a very strong diaspora and tremendous possibilities, gradually lost its confidence and as a result the 7mn population is not capable of finding solutions for the problem of managing the country. The situation is worsening since the massive explosion in Beirut.
A possible solution, which requires the final approval of the people, and the support of foreign powers, would be to let the religious leaders of the country cooperate and run a new government, allowing the right decisions to be made for the benefit of the country and not for individuals as it has been recently done. Not because they know politics, but because they represent the people. Many of them have expressed their willingness to co-operate. Once the confidence is re-established, it is easy to identify the right people for the right jobs, amongst a largely educated populace.
In the new world, it has to be the people who need attention and not individuals. Lebanon can once again become a paradise of the Middle East, by modifying its approach to politics. Each and every citizen needs to support the changes for the benefit of its future.
An old Lebanese saying goes like this: ‘Good advice was once worth a camel, now that it is free of charge, no one takes it.’
Hope Lebanese prove it wrong.