One thought as I depart Lebanon:

Economists talk about a potential Venezuela scenario.

Political/security analysts should worry about a Somalia-lite scenario.

The two can happen in parallel and almost simultaneously.
As the state erodes and politicians dither, the damage done to the state’s standing and to the security services is growing cumulatively.

People need a semblance of order, belonging, food, basic services. This encourages the zaims to flex muscle and pose as defenders/providers.
Example: this show by Samir Geagea of Lebanese Forces created (rightly) much concern among many, but was (sadly) seen by others as appropriate given the circumstances.

It was denounced by people who never protested Hezbollah’s military parades and wars over 15 years.
As the economy collapses, the cost for politicians to rally or consolidate their base is shrinking. A population that is struggling to find food and is losing hope is cheaper to attract.
And identity politics is another cheap trick fully deployed again. Want reforms? ‘Shia rights’! Denounce corruption? ‘Sunni prerogatives’! Abolish zuama system? ‘Christian rights!’

All a distraction from the awful outlook and very difficult choices ahead.
30 years ago, my parents had enough of the Aoun-Geagea fighting and moved us to France. Tonight, these 2 madmen and their partisans are at it again.

This madness is not on Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, US, Saudi, Israel, Turkey, Qatar or else. It is our curse and our doing.
Lebanon gets more attention and sympathy than many countries in similar situations, but we manage to screw it up because our politics are so messy and intractable. Goodwill is vanishing fast. Only way out at the moment is Macron’s plan, which with all its flaws remains a good one

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More from @emile_hokayem

9 Aug
1. Least important news: I am back on Twitter, sad for my city Beirut for the horrific blast and for my country Lebanon for the existential crisis it is going through, but also hopeful (but as an analyst, skeptical) that the revolutionary movement will shake things.
2. This is a moment whose importance cannot be understated. If the destruction of a capital after the destruction of an economy does not generate profound political and institutional change, then Lebanon cannot be salvaged.
3. There will be many ideas and proposals in coming days for how this change should occur, what kind of transition we should wish for (early elections or transitional government), but let me focus on a matter that will central to any potential progress: Hezbollah.
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