Lebanon Is Not A Failed State.

The issue of the state in Lebanon has constantly been a big issue since 1920–ossa kbireh as we would say in Lebanese Arabic. The dream of the “powerful state” (ad-dawla al-qawiyya al-qâdira) lies in the heart of every Lebanese. Yet Lebanon’s road to statehood seems to be just as improbable as the road to get into Haifa’s pants. My dear fellow-citizens, let us stop fantasizing and face the truth. Haifa is vulgar and our state is doomed to be rachitic.

To Whom It May Concern, this is what the Lebanese state is like:

1. For local television channels, we have “cable” and “dish”. Télé Liban, the national channel, is a hollow shell, a disaster.

2. For public water supply, we have “citerne”. Just in case.

3. For “kahraba” (public power supply), we have “moteur” (informal, not-so-legal power supply). Just in case. When I was 10 years old, in 1994, I read in L’Orient-Le Jour that Électricité du Liban would ensure a 24/7 non-stop power supply within 6 months. I was flabbergasted. I had thought having 3 or 6 hours of electricity a day was normalcy in the whole world–except maybe in “America”. I was ten and stupid. Look at us today, we are adults, supposedly mature, but still stupid to believe that non-stop power supply will ever be reality.

4. For the Lebanese passport, we desperately want another passport.

We are dying to get another citizenship, aren’t we. One national affiliation is not enough; we are running after a second citizenship like dogs after a string of sausages (remember that scene in Tom & Jerry?). Did you ever notice the arrogance of those Lebanese who hold a second passport? They look at you with an air of self-importance. “Yeah, I am better than you”.

I understand why we are so desperate. We want to avoid “airport humiliation”. We are a proud people, we don’t like to be looked at like terrorists or an inferior “race” (what a horrible word, that one). We don’t want to suffer the prejudice our passport inflicts us.

Also, we would like to avoid losing our time and money applying for visas. We are the Third World (what a horrible word, that one too). We need the West. We need entry clearances to it. It’s not reciprocal; they can come and go as they wish (French speakers, I suggest you take a look at “Pour une géopolitique des visas” on Alter vs. Ego).

5. For the Parliament, we have the “Table of Dialogue”, a scandalous anti-constitutional heresy.

FYI, the Parliament is the institution for national dialogue, for ta’âyush‘s sake! Tawlit el-hiwâr consecrates political oligarchy and costs too much money. But who cares, the citizens are paying for it.

6. For the National Army, we have Hizbullah’s resistance: National Resistance, Islamic Resistance, Arab Resistance, Iranian-Khomeynist Resistance, Shi’ite Resistance… chose the name you like. It’s all of those and none of them at the same time, anyway.


For every single public institution and service, we have a spare institution, a replacement service, a surrogate state. Often on the verge of illegality. So, while we are waiting for the dawla al-qawiyya al-qâdira, I suggest we enjoy the duwal al-radîfa al-badîla.

Let us just stop lying to ourselves: Lebanon is not a failed state, it is an anti-state.

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2 Responses to Lebanon Is Not A Failed State.

  1. Pingback: On Moderation & Reform in the Middle East. | "Billets d'humeur" on Lebanon.

  2. rolfen says:

    It’s all fun until someone (in your family) actually dies in a place that looks more like a butchery then a hospital. And you can barely understand what happened. Electricity and all that are kinda fun, but then you’ll see. Lebanon is not a failed state. It’s hell.
    If it’s not hell for you (yet), consider yourself lucky. And warned.

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