The harshness of the images does not need an explanation. Youths from al-Nasiriya in southern Iraq found no other means other than bulldozers to raze the headquarters of parties they blame for razing the remains of the Iraqi state in favor of chaos. This anger against sides protesters blame for the killing and kidnapping activists is understandable.
The truth is that the systematic killing at protest squares in Baghdad and other cities is too much to bear. It is a high degree of oppression and brutality and violation of the most basic rights by powers that believe they can escape punishment.
Complicating the situation in Iraq are some powers, which do not believe in the state, its institutions and laws, that have succeeded in infiltrating the state and where they are earning salaries and enjoying its benefits. Since the parties, whose headquarters were targeted by protesters, are allied to Iran, the battle for restoring the Iraqi state is taking on both an internal and external form. The protesters want to restore the state from armed Iraqi factions and from Iran, which has given these very groups constant protection.
The same harshness of living without a state in Iraq are also playing out in Lebanon. I have listened to the testimonies of several Lebanese youths. Many are still committed to their unwavering dream for change and ousting the corrupt political class, despite its prowess at maneuvering and deceit to maintain its interests and control of the state.
I also listened to other testimonies from youths who have been eaten up by despair after their dreams were dealt one blow after another. The massive crime that was the Beirut port blast broke their ability to live in a country that has been torn apart by internal and foreign powers. They therefore, declare that they will seize the first chance they get to quit this nation.
These are damning testimonies. They believe that remaining in Lebanon is a waste of their lives and dreams. The corrupt system has decimated their ties to the land of their ancestors and they now see escape as a win. They believe that remaining is a form of assassination of their ambitions, aspirations and humanity. They complained that whenever they sought to express their anger through peaceful means, they were lured into clashes that the entrenched ruling class exploited to fire rubber bullets at and arrest them in practices that a majority of countries have abandoned and banned.
It is truly a tragedy for young generations to discover that they now have to wage a battle of building a nation that should have been waged and won decades ago. Moreover, it is a battle that is being waged in very challenging circumstances as Lebanon is caught in the fangs of internal and foreign powers. There are no drawn lines inside maps, whose borders have been violated. There are no limits to the practices of the hostile powers in the region. Some countries are so unlucky that they find themselves at the mercy of foreign powers that only exacerbate internal divisions.
It’s so difficult to be born in a difficult place. It is so difficult to be young and deluded into believing that you are required to build your own future and that of your nation. It is so difficult to be young and deluded into believing that you can introduce change and that the adventure is worth the price, even if it were hefty.
How difficult it is to realize early that you were born on a stolen map, which has been violated by foreign powers. How difficult it is to realize that some inhabitants of this map have been attracted to this foreign visitor and have turned into soldiers for its wars or puppets for its games. How difficult it is to realize that violence is the only effective means of communication, that the talent for wasting progress takes precedence over all others and that the land and its residents need accommodate the most powerful regardless of their policies and affiliations. Maps are stolen by greedy international powers or avaricious regional ones. They are stolen from the inside by those championing dictatorship and oppression and a unilateral approach to decision-making and abuse of gains and resources.
It is painful for maps to be stolen by the outside and for their will to come under occupation. This oppression will fade if an internal unifying roadmap that commits to freedom, sovereignty and independence emerges from the inside. Experience has shown that nations cannot be killed from the outside. A stranger can never have this chance. The real killing come from the inside: from the fragmentation of a national equation and the internal front; from hatred that resorts to violence, weapons and the elimination of the other; from the desire to maintain a single color to the nation and take out anyone who is different.
The plight becomes worse when internal parties see in foreign forces a closer ally to them than the different citizen living in the nearby neighborhood. These parties have the habit of abandoning leniency and concessions for the sake of striking acceptable internal settlements in favor of offering greater concessions to obtain foreign protection. At first, these internal parties celebrate at finding a foreign ally they see as a savior, but by the time it is too late, they come to realize that they have lost their independent decision-making power and have been transformed into a pawn for a policy that is greater than them and that offers them no room to participate in implementing or even questioning it.
This is what is going through the minds of people following the developments in Basra, Nasiriya or Beirut. The absence of a worthy state sheds the people’s blood, wastes the country’s resources and deepens divisions. This is why Iraq now, more than ever, needs the redeployment of American forces. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is well aware of this. The PM had just flown in from Washington to Basra to confirm that the assassination of activists will not lead to the assassination of the dream to restore the state.
Iraq’s future is not built on the assassination of activists and a deceptive media campaigns that shed their blood. It is definitely not built with the firing of rockets aimed at seeing the departure of one foreign force for the interest of another. The future is also not built with the disregard of the constitution and staging of elections amid tensions. There can be no future without first passing through the state and institutions.
The same can be said about Lebanon. It is truly shameful that the latest massacre that devastated half of the capital and that is sparking a new unprecedented exodus has not persuaded some officials and politicians to abandon the non-state. The Lebanese people are being impoverished and driven to hunger. The Lebanese people are being degraded and pushed to immigration. Despite all of this, some sides are still thinking about their share in the new government and their ability to keep chronic grudges, instead of deriving lessons from the tragedy and leading the country towards the state of law.