In March this year, the Civic Influence Hub (CIH), with the Research and Strategic Studies Center of the LAF, organized a seminar conference to discuss national security in Lebanon. NOW speaks to Ziad Sayegh, CEO of the Civic Influence Hub.
NOW: What is national security?
Sayegh: National security is everything related to the protection of the interests of the state and the people. Some people might think it is a form of military security, but from the point of view of the Civic Influence Hub (CIH), the national security seminar conference—launched with the Research and Strategic Studies Center of the Lebanese Armed Forces—determines three fundamentals for national security: the efficiency of the operating system related to good governance in the country, such as respect for the Constitution and national law regardless of the political party in power; the sustainability of economic policies; and the sustainability of social policies.
These three fundamentals constitute tripartite equation: respect for the ambitions of the people; efficiency of Lebanese institution activities; and the establishment of sustainable policies. These fundamentals should be based on accountability.
National security is a concept that has not existed in Lebanon since 1943. In 1943, there was the national pact, but there was no national security. If the concept had existed prior to that, we could have spared Lebanon a lot of internal problems and external interference. As a pressure group, CIH is convinced it is necessary to correct structural imbalances in our economic and social policies. Our cooperation with the LAF Research and Strategic Studies Center stems from the belief that the military is nationally credible and can ensure that the Lebanese people benefit.
NOW: Why is it important to raise this issue now?
Sayegh: In the midst of the geopolitical dispersion in the region and incidents of late, it is necessary to protect Lebanon from the surrounding dangers and to ensure its development and prosperity. Our goal is to build a form of internal dynamics to protect Lebanon, stability being at the root of this.
The status-quo of the operating system in Lebanon is disturbing. For example, 33 draft laws—including the extended administrative decentralization law and the law on partnership between private sector and public—are still in parliament. On the economic level, with all the depth Lebanon has, we still face problems with electricity and water. Twenty-five percent of the Lebanese people are on the poverty line and 8% are below it. Eighty percent of the youth are emigrating and two-thirds of the Lebanese people do not have social security. The collapse we are witnessing in Lebanon should be an opportunity to gather the Lebanese people around their own interests and around building national security in Lebanon. The CIH sees national security as a federative and productive national pact.
NOW: What is the current of national security situation in Lebanon?
Sayegh: The concept of national security does not exist in Lebanon. During the seminar conference, we affirmed that we want to continue with the dialogue and the round tables to discuss national security. We also called for the establishment of a national security council in Lebanon, where all fundamental issues are discussed so as to ensure the interests of Lebanon and the Lebanese people. This needs a scientific reading—we need to get rid of emotional, poetic and demagogic reactions and be more interested in citizens’ concerns. To do this, there should be a bridge between scientists, experts and decision makers.
NOW: What are the obstacles?
Sayegh: Political differences might be an obstacle—especially that the conflict is sometimes between different political constants and fundamentals. External interference and Lebanese vulnerability towards external factors could also negatively affect this national vision. Taking into consideration the regional situation, I think there is no better opportunity for the Lebanese to detach themselves from external powers and try to build internal dynamics, because Lebanese interests are at stake. We need to give ourselves an opportunity for dialogue.
NOW: Do you think this is the only way to reestablish Lebanese stability?
Sayegh: The adjustment of roadmaps starts with the adjustment of perceptions. Concepts and perceptions should be made clear in the first place before thinking about the course of this vision.
NOW: What future steps will CIH take?
Sayegh: The CIH is also collaborating with other national institutions like Banque du Liban, economic stakeholders, universities, media outlets, syndicates, and civil society forums to announce a series of round tables that will offer a comprehensive to national security.
This vision needs to be highlighted more in the media. We also need to organize more conferences before we can determine what the public’s opinion is. After these discussions, we will organize—maybe in a year—we will be able conduct a poll and see what the Lebanese people think of it. The CIH, along with its partners, wants to call for the establishment of a federative and productive national pact that unifies the Lebanese people.
We should take the initiative, but it should be a scientific, pragmatic and sustainable initiative.
Read the full Myra Abdallah article on NOW English in the following link: http://bit.ly/1DH6Go8