Long Live the Troika!
By: Jawad N. Adra
Published Monday, August 6, 2012
The Hrawi prize bestowed upon Speaker Nabih Berri has awakened the memory of the Lebanese to the glories of the Hrawi era. With a deep sigh of longing for the past and a firm awareness that the future will be bleaker, they all recalled together: “Those were the days!” Those were the days indeed, for as Speaker Berri put it, the troika – which refers to the division of Lebanon’s top three government positions among the representatives of the Maronite, Shia, and Sunni sects – was the pyramid that paved the way for the paradise we are savoring today.
The late Ghazi Kanaan, may he rest in peace, lavished his countless blessings on all of us and particularly on the national, Arab and revolutionary parties, which had no other concerns but to kiss his hand and gossip about their enemies, friends and comrades equally. Nobody amassed wealth quickly in an indecent manner during the Hrawi era and nobody dared to violate the sanctity of human life.
Emigration rates hit a low during that golden age with only 300,000 people (around 8 percent of the population) leaving the country for good. Around 200,000 individuals were “accidentally” naturalized. Public debt soared to roughly $16.5 billion and profits from currency and treasury bill rigging skyrocketed to $30 billion. Those Lebanese leaders who screamed “Syria out!” were indebted to Ghazi Kanaan and his successor Rustom Ghazaleh, yet ironically rewarded them with accusations of treachery.
Fares Boueiz sat on the throne of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 8 years. Elie Hobeika – the ally of Syria and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, for whom we shall forever be grateful – sat on that of the Ministry of Electricity and Water Resources for five years after he was appointed Minister for Social Affairs and the Displaced.
Most of Lebanon’s zuama showed their true colors by becoming jesters for the lowest Syrian intelligence officer. That era laid the foundations for the calls for liberty, sovereignty and independence and the former first lady Mrs. Mona Hrawi was seen, alongside the other ladies of the upper crust, at the forefront of the March 14 demonstration in 2005, demanding the termination of the Syrian domination of Lebanon. How unfair that era was to her!
And pardon us, the naïve ones, if we have overlooked that the Hrawi era was an era of more humor than wit. It was that of the S-S (Syrian-Saudi) and the A-F (American-French) formulas and (…) let the Lebanese fill in the blank.
There was, however, a single bright spot during the term of that man, which was his insistence on the optional civil marriage law, which has remained shelved in the “Grand Serail,” may God keep it an uncontested privilege for us, the Sunni.
Jawad Adra is founder and managing partner of the the Beirut-based research body Information International.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect Al-Akhbar's editorial policy.