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Roots of the Jebran Bassil ‘Phenomenon’

Roots of the Jebran Bassil ‘Phenomenon’

Wednesday, 17 July, 2019 - 08:30
Mockery follows Jebran Bassil wherever he goes and that’s fine. But there appears to be a lot of mockery and very little analysis for the causes for it.

The Bassil phenomenon requires analysis rather than mockery, which sometimes stems from actual opposition discrimination and sometimes from sectarian and partisan positions. It would be wise to analyze the Lebanese foreign minister.

Mockery during the time of the rise of populism does not mean much. The populist leaders of the world are no different than Bassil. The populist leaders, of course, including the fascist one, attract insults for various reasons, especially when they show their excessive narcissism. This is why comparing them to a caricature becomes a natural way to show opposition to them.

Bassil’s primary danger is that he is not a figure who suddenly landed to earth out of nowhere. He is a reflection of years of successive developments in the region, including Lebanon, that have affected its demographics and borders. These changes are a precious gift to these types of leaders, who thrive in promoting fear of the present and concern over the future. Transition periods are populists’ best ally. Ideology in this case, warns of horrors: Borders no longer protect us and hordes are breaking down demographics.

Therefore, start crying. The terrifying news will come soon enough.

We know that Bashar Assad displaced half of his people from their homes and a third of them from their country. We know that ISIS attempted to merge Syria and Iraq. These are not simple or normal everyday developments. If we understand the social and psychological repercussions of these events and buy into Hezbollah’s claims of takfiri hordes that are preparing to pounce on us from beyond Syria’s border, then we will understand Bassil’s investment in fear and worries and the massive political gains he can reap from them.

We also know that the myth of racism stems from actual facts on the ground, which is why he is investing it to create incitement. Of course, the flow of refugees and consequent population explosion, as well as the fading of the border, hold major repercussions and are very susceptible for exploitation for incitement.

The other truth is that this explosive geological change is occurring in a socially explosive area. This is the chronic problem of charged minorities in the Middle East, especially Lebanon. This is why the issue of numbers, coups and balances figure high in the racist rhetoric and culture of fear.

Assad took charge of terrorizing the majority, while ISIS took charge of terrorizing the minorities. These two rivals united for a single goal: Making Syrian, and ultimately Arab, unity almost a nightmare. Each has become the other’s hell.

It is most likely that the victory of the counter-revolution in the region, in Syria specifically, will exacerbate the crisis and reduce the chances of successfully approaching its majority and minority populations.

“Bassilism”, here, plays the role of poisoning the minorities. It has the task of taking minorities out of the democratic fold and dragging them into populist and racist agendas. This goes beyond the person himself and to a popular base that is willing to embrace this mentality. History is rife with such examples.

The developments in recent years have also rewarded the Aounist coup. It has become the “movement of national liberation” that places the Christians in a confrontation with all of their traditional choices towards the region and its conflicts, and the world and its alliances. The absence and failure of western powers in recent years has only encouraged this coup.

All this does not deny that “Bassilism” treats reality with illusions. This treatment exaggerates the causes of the problem itself as it claims to offer a solution to it. The sources of the historic Christian crisis stems from the sense of helplessness in affecting decisions of war and peace. Aonism and Bassilism resolved this problem by striking an alliance with Hezbollah, the party that alone monopolizes these decisions.

If stoking tensions is the way to “obtain the rights of Christians,” then we are confronted with a suicidal mentality that factors on the ground cannot treat. This is a threat to all people and nations and preoccupies emotions and whims. Mockery in this case has nothing to offer.

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