A Box Office Success?
By KARIM MAKDISI
".....In sum, while Lebanon’s June 2009 elections might have been internationally praised as ‘free and fair,’ it represented a step backwards in terms of long-term, socially progressive reform for the Lebanese themselves. On the one hand it has re-entrenched sectarianism, deepened rifts and mistrust between Sunnis and Shia’a communities, and brought out the chauvinist tendencies within the Christian elite. On the other hand, the elections returned to power politicians committed to crony capitalism and dependency on regional patrons. There are no socially progressive elements in either camp, and there is little hope that the newly elected parliament will address the inherent structural problems in Lebanon’s sectarian system that lead inexorably to conflict. Indeed, the truth is that the current mood of good will and apparent compromise between the election winners and losers is almost entirely a function of regional rapprochements between Syria and Saudi Arabia, and Iran and the US, rather than a collective realization among the newly elected politicians that things must change. This of course means that if and when regional tension returns, Lebanon will likely unravel once again. With the “peace process” train back on track, the Lebanese would be wise to fasten their seatbelts......"