A Window to the Alternatives

Credits: Micho Khoury

Foreword

Al Rawiya is delighted to have the voices of the alternative Lebanese political parties featured. These parties have been asked to participate in this new recurring feature of Al Rawiya’s Politics section because it recognizes in them the leadership the country needs to accomplish the fair, sovereign, prosperous, and progressive Lebanon that we all deserve. 
The aim of this new ongoing series of articles is to give our readers the chance to begin getting to know more about the alternative parties for awareness, knowledge and action.
These parties will be asked about various topics on a regular basis by Al Rawiya along with providing a bite-sized look at what they stand for and what they are planning.
Please note that Al Rawiya intends to feature all alternative political parties, not limited to the opposition parties below.

Question Regarding the Tripoli Clashes 

Events in Tripoli have been, are, and will remain heated if no action is taken. In 2021, at least one Lebanese person died, 400 Lebanese were injured, 39 Lebanese were illegally and unlawfully arrested, and four of them are still missing because of protesting for their own basic rights. 

To make matters worse, Tripoli is one of Lebanon’s most deprived areas and its poverty has recently reached dangerous levels, with half of its population living below the poverty line.

Unfortunately, the current Lebanese political class is cold-bloodedly directing the security forces to counterattack the protesters, with no restrictions whatsoever, e.g. using live and rubber bullets. To date, we have seen limited immediate and solid actions from the independent and pro-revolution voices, specifically the Lebanese independent political parties. 

So in light of the situation there, we asked an independent political party:

  1. What actions have you taken in response to the unfair treatment and consequences of the aggression on the people of Tripoli?
  2. What are you currently doing to protect and rescue the four missing detained Lebanese citizens?
  3. What are you planning to do to prevent any other potential clash(es) between the Lebanese citizens and the security forces in Tripoli?

Answers

The National Bloc 

As a political party which aims, in its values, to preserve human dignity, freedom, and physical and moral integrity, we can’t deny that the living status in Tripoli needs the urgent implementation of a serious development plan. Yet, the fact that we’re not in power doesn’t mean that we are not doing the maximum we can. We have been actively condemning, speaking out against the situation and holding webinars to talk about the aggression in Tripoli in an attempt to raise more awareness about the city’s suffering due to continuous neglect, biased media portrayal and the lack of any treatment for Tripoli’s deprivation.

The National Bloc alongside many other groups, called out for protesting in support of the detainees that were arrested for speaking out. In addition to this, we have been continuously pointing out the breaches of our rights to freedom of expression and gathering, and also shedding light on the malfunctioning of the military court as well as refusing to have civilians prosecuted by it. For Tripoli specifically, we refuse to let it suffer during the pandemic, and wholeheartedly believe that the government is fully responsible for not taking any serious actions other than brutality to contain the situation. 

Nevertheless, preventing any other potential similar clash(es) is of essence to the National Bloc. Our actions on this matter are taken on a national level that embrace the situation in Tripoli. We believe in the importance of personal freedoms which are protected by the Constitution and by the law, and they are prerequisites for decent and efficient citizenship. The freedom of any citizen cannot be limited unless in accordance with the provisions of the law. And in this regard, the Lebanese National Bloc Party in its history and when it had the ability and power, made several contributions to this aspect and on different levels, especially through its work on submitting and passing a law that defines and limits the cases in which the army is assigned to internal missions. Also, one day before the October 17 revolution, we had launched a campaign in relation to a social safety net draft law, which included a complete well-reformed strategy to fight and eradicate poverty in Lebanon, specifically in Tripoli. We are, of course, still and will continue pushing for this draft to be voted on.

On another note, and as an opposition party, we are working to raise awareness and involve people into politics in order to reach democratic change. For this we will be increasing our engagement and activities in Tripoli to be able to create local youth leaders that can be the political future of the city.

National Bloc is a social, democratic, and secular party that aims and works to achieve a prosperous, green, and fair Lebanon. Founded in 1946, National Bloc refused to participate in the Civil War. The party revived its work in early 2019 [1]. Learn more about the National Bloc on their website.

Mouwatinoun wa Mouwatinat fi Dawla (MMFD) or “Citizens in a State”

The clashes between Lebanese citizens and security forces are bound to happen more frequently across the country due to the rapidly worsening situation and the lack of responsibility from individuals in public office as well as all those with any significant influence. The scenes of these clashes are always very painful and very worrying, especially when in Tripoli, the city that has suffered from decades-long deliberate neglect. Protestors rightfully cried out their pain, hunger, and anger, as they saw themselves, their community, and their city overcome with poverty and despair. However, confrontations of the sort must always be accompanied by a clear political vision, because protests, in all their forms, are only effective when they are a political means to a political end. As difficult as it may be to admit, sectarian leaders are pleased with scenes of meaningless confrontations because non-political action and especially non-political violence provides them with an escape from difficult questions.

MMFD firmly believes that Tripoli has a vital role to play in reconfiguring the Lebanese domain, and setting forth the basis for a new form of state, a civil state. Whether on a city, country, or regional level, Tripoli is key to any change, and consequently our party dedicates significant resources to the matter.

The party has been closely following the clashes since day one. This was done through the direct involvement of partisans, exerting the party’s influence on several local and national organizations, and through the work of the party’s legal committee. More importantly, MMFD is actively seeking to involve these young men and women in an organized political confrontation that clearly sets the agenda for taking over the streets in order to create a civil state for Lebanon.

MMFD or “Citizens in a State” was founded in 2016, and participated in the parliamentary elections in 2018 under the civil society alliance “Kulluna Watani.” Their mission is the establishment of an integral, civil, democratic, just, and potent state in Lebanon, to restore the value and meaning of public life [1]. Learn more about MMFD on their website.

Taqaddom

Taqaddom has repeatedly mentioned the critical situation in Tripoli during media interviews. We have visited the city several times during the recent clashes and after and engaged in discussions with the city’s activists. We have raised the risk of anarchy in the city with several of our contacts in the diplomatic circles.

We are also supporting the efforts of the lawyers who are pursuing the four missing detained Lebanese citizens. Our team of lawyers is not directly representing any of the individuals but have offered their support and willingness to partake in the work if needed.

In order to prevent any other potential clashes, we will be engaging directly with several groups in Tripoli to organize the city activists in a more strategic manner based on a clear political agenda to avoid any path of manipulation of the protests. We are keen on creating a positive momentum among activists so that they understand the political challenges that we are facing because of the regime. That way, the recourse to clashes and the eruption of violence is avoided and non-violent protests are the methods adopted by the majority. 

Taqaddom was founded during the 2019 revolution, and was announced in April 2020 to establish a secular state that guarantees the rights of its citizens and build confidence in political involvement. Their mission is to empower responsible citizenship, encourage participatory activism, and solidarity, as well as spread the culture of democracy, transparency, social justice, equality, and environmental awareness [1]. Learn more about Taqaddom on their website.

Disclaimer:  It has come to Sawti’s attention that Taqaddom is in the process of forming an alliance with the Kataeb party as part of its electoral strategy for the 2022 parliamentary elections. Although Taqaddom itself has not violated our criteria, it has partnered with a party which does — with particular emphasis on the latter’s sectarian nature and participation in the civil war. Despite Kataeb attempting to rebrand itself recently and represent the core values and principles of the Oct 17 uprisings, its history, as a key component of the ruling class and benefiting from it all the same, continues to cast a shadow of doubt. Understanding that history is crucial in making informed decisions. That choice remains in your hands – you are strongly encouraged to critically reflect on the available alternatives and endorse an option which makes the most sense for you.

LiHaqqi

LiHaqqi has from the beginning stood by the side of the people of Tripoli, despite the smear campaigns that took place. Riots were a result of years of systematic poverty and negligence of the city. In response to the continuous unfair treatment and aggression practiced by the regime, LiHaqqi’s North grassroot and the Freedom Working Group have participated with the people of Tripoli in their protests, and joined efforts with other political groups releasing several statements and participating in protests in front of military courts. The Freedom Working Group is currently working on a freedom’s coalition.

People are not to be blamed for clashes happening inside or outside of Tripoli. The surreal situation where people have been deprived of  their basic human rights, while the ruling class continues to show no efforts in doing any serious reforms, will only lead to more clashes and rage towards security forces as they are being aggressive and using illegal measures to suppress protestors.

LiHaqqi was initially founded as an opposition campaign for the 2018 parliamentary elections, and later became an established political organization. LiHaqqi is a grassroots progressive, political, and social movement that aligns its goals with those of the people, and is committed to participatory democracy1. Learn more about LiHaqqi on their website.

1 All descriptions of these alternative parties are sourced from Sawti, our team’s favorite resource for up-to-date information on anti-sectarian options and information concerning the upcoming 2022 elections as well as civic engagement more broadly.