2011 Lebanese protests
|This article is outdated. (June 2011)|
|2011 Lebanese protests|
|Part of the Arab Spring|
Location of Lebanon
|Date||12 January 2011
– 15 December 2011|
(11 months and 3 days)
The 2011 Lebanese protests were seen as influenced by the Arab Spring. The main protests focused on calls for political reform especially against confessionalism in Lebanon. The protests initiated in early 2011, and dimmed by the end of the year. In another aspect of the Arab Spring, Lebanese pro and anti-Assad factions descended into sectarian violence, which culminated in May–June 2012.
Lebanon is a parliamentary republic within the overall framework of confessionalism, a form of consociationalism in which the highest offices are proportionately reserved for representatives from certain religious communities. The constitution grants the people the right to change their government, however, from the mid-1970s until the parliamentary elections in 1992, a civil war precluded the exercise of political rights. According to the constitution, direct elections must be held for the parliament every 4 years. The last parliamentary election was in 2009, which led to about six months before a new government was formed. The parliament, in turn, elects a president every 6 years to a single term, he is, however, not eligible for re-election. The last presidential election was in 2008. The president and parliament choose the prime minister. Political parties are grouped with either the March 8 alliance or the March 14 alliance. (the Progressive Socialist Party of Walid Jumblatt is ostensibly independent but leans towards March 8 since their withdrawal from the then governing March 14).
Lebanon demographics is roughly split amongst Sunnis, Shias and Christians (most of whom are Maronite). Due to the demographic concerns, amid fears the country could be a powder keg, a census has not been carried out since 1932. Since then the government has only published rough estimates of the population.
2011 new government
On 12 January 2011, the government collapsed after Energy Minister Gebran Bassil announced that all ten opposition ministers had resigned following months of warnings by Hezbollah that it would not remain inactive should there be indictments against the group by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. Preliminary indictments were issued 17 January as expected,) President Michel Suleiman's appointed Minister of State, Adnan Sayyed Hussein, resigned later bringing the total number of ministers who quit to 11 thus causing the fall of the government. The New York Times suggested that the resignations came after the collapse of talks between Syria and Saudi Arabia to ease tensions in Lebanon. The resignations stemmed from PM Hariri's refusal to call an emergency cabinet session over discussion for withdrawing cooperation with the STL.
Suleiman, who is constitutionally responsible for the formation of a new government, accepted the resignations saying: "In line with clause one of article 69 in the Lebanese constitution on the circumstances under which the government is considered to have resigned...as the government has lost more than one third of its members...the cabinet [is requested to] act as a caretaker government until the formation of a new government." The March 8 alliance then nominate Najib Mikati to form a government in line with the accepted norms that a prime minister must be a Sunni (even though most Sunnis are supporters of March 14).
On 13 June, a new government was formed.
|This section requires expansion. (March 2011)|
|Hundreds of Demonstrators Call for Revolution in Lebanon on YouTube|
In follow-up rallies to the 27 February demonstration, around 8,000 people marched from Dora to Beirut in the second round of a campaign to "topple the sectarian regime" and its leading symbols and to call for a secular state. Similar protests took place in Baalbek and Sidon.
A rally was organised by the March 14 alliance in which several hundreds of thousands supporters attended in commemoration of the start Cedar Revolution 6 years earlier. The main slogan of the rally was calling for the disarmament of Hezbollah and to renew support for the ideals of the revolution.
In interfactional clashes in Tripoli, Seven people were killed and 59 were wounded, on Friday, 17 June. Armed clashes erupted in following a rally in support of Syrian protesters. Fighting broke out between gunmen positioned in the rival neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen (mainly Alawites who support the Syrian government) and Bab al-Tabbaneh (mainly Sunnis, supporting the Syrian uprising). Among the dead were a Lebanese army soldier and an official from the Alawite Arab Democratic Party.
On 26 June, hundreds of people marched towards the parliament in Beirut demanding the end of Lebanon's confessional system.
What the local press considered might be the largest general strike in its history had been called for this date. The General Labor Confederation is demanding higher wages, among other things. The cabinet acceded to these demands, and the marches were "suspended. However, the teacher's union refused to accept this, went on strike anyway, and paralyzed the nation's education system
5,000 protesters filled the streets of Downtown Beirut as part of a teacher's strike, which is said to be a precursor of a general strike planned for the following week.
Aftermath and spillover from Syria (2011-12)
On 5 and 6 October 2011, the Syrian army briefly invaded (killing one person) before retreating again across the border, causing instability in the Mikati government. “I am not being silent about this, we are dealing with the issue normally,” Mikati said, noting the permeability of the border.
Further incursions by the Syrian military onto Lebanese territory occurred in December 2011, resulting in more deaths. More Syrian incursions into Lebanon (also to Turkey) followed in March 2012. In addition to the Tripoli clashes in March between Alawites and Sunnis, several border penetrations increased fears of Syrian uprising affecting Lebanon. The clashes greatly escalated in May and June, leaving dozens dead and hundreds wounded.
- "Lebanese protest against sectarian political system". Reuters. 27 February 2011.
- Pro-Western coalition declares victory in Lebanon. The Globe and Mail.
- Lebanon Population. Country-studies.com.
- "Hezbollah and allies topple Lebanese unity government". BBC. 12 January 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- Hariri indictments set for Monday - Middle East. Al Jazeera English.
- Bakri, Nada (12 January 2011). "Resignations Deepen Crisis for Lebanon". New York Times. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- "Lebanese government falls". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 14 January 2011.
- US welcomes Hariri indictment - Middle East. Al Jazeera English.
- "Lebanese protest against sectarian political system". Af.reuters.com. 27 February 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
- Lutz, Meris (20 March 2011). "Lebanon: Thousands rally against sectarian leaders". Los Angeles Times.
- Lebanon... Perils of the Syrian Quake Aftershocks. (PDF) .
- "Rally for secularism commences in Beirut". www.nowlebanon.com. 26 June 2011. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
- Largest general strike looms | News , Politics. The Daily Star (11 October 2011).
- "Teachers threaten to step up strike action". The Daily Star (15 December 2011).
- March--8 MPs slam local reaction to incursion by ‘sisterly state’. The Daily Star (7 October 2011).
- Down with the Sectarian Regime (Arabic)