If you’re still checking this blog, you really are a champ! I know it has been forever since we’ve made a post. We returned to the states during Christmas, which was marvelous, but we are back in Beirut now.
Before launching into anything else, I suppose I should address the recent news coming from Lebanon. Yes, the government has collapsed, but this is not as dire as it might sound. In a parliamentary system, it is possible for a cabinet coalition to fall apart, but the government itself is still in-tact. Please do not picture a state of anarchy, with people taking to the streets waving flags and rifles; the PM, president, government offices, and military are still firmly in place. The task now falls to the president to re-from the coalition, which could take months. For example, Belgium also has a parliamentary system and have been “without a government” for 8 months now. The collapse creates a power vacuum and means that no new decisions or legislation will happen. In truth, this has been the state of affairs in Lebanon for several months anyway owing to a complete stalemate between the two blocs.
At the center of the debate stands the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which has been commissioned to investigate the 2005 death of Lebanon’s popular PM, Rafiq Hariri. Hizbullah deems the entire enterprise a tool of the US and Lebanon’s southern neighbor and has demanded that the PM and president’s party end all Lebanese funding to the UN and rescind the Lebanese judges from the court. Recognizing the unwillingness of the PM to take those actions and after several months of stalemate and attempted intervention by the Saudis and Syrians, last night the pro-Hizbullah bloc withdrew from the government.
For now, all is very stable and the newspapers are no more alarmist than normal. I have spoken with several Lebanese professors at the school who assure me that nothing will happen imminently; all sides want peace for now. I do believe this will hold for at least some time. So we wait. It is like standing on the corniche during January: the sun is shining down on you, but out to sea, you can see the steely gray clouds gathering as the thunder rumbles. As with the weather here, you never know if the storm will dissolve or hit the city; there is an equal chance of both.