Let’s make a differential diagnosis of Lebanese traffic. The forthcoming list cannot be comprehensive as Lebanese traffic is incomprehensible, but here it goes anyway:
- Regular commute to work,
- Regular commute from work,
- Road blocks,
- A nearby car accident or a nearby scene to behold,
- Someone’s 1946 model car breaking down in the middle of the highway,
- Someone or a dozen more double parking the entirety of a street,
- Lebanon’s year independence day parade,
- And just your average regular day mainly.
Today, the need to expand the list of Lebanese traffic causes to add lucky number 13 has befallen upon us: Syria’s presidential elections. And here I was thinking the following crowds were here to enjoy our new internet bundles.
What’s The Point?
Today, Lebanon’s Syrians drove (and walked) all the way to Yarzeh to participate in their democratic (also known as fictive) elections which will give Bashar el Assad another presidential mandate (with about 90% of the vote). Would we be going on a limb to assume some have even come here from Syria, all expenses paid? A little tourism never hurt anyone. It’s the Middle Eastern way of running elections.
As a consequence of the Syrian onslaught, some Lebanese have been stuck in traffic since morning as the road leading to the Syrian voting polls was turned into a massive car graveyard. How many had to waste their entire day today being stuck in their cars for absolutely no point whatsoever except for the Syrians who are actually secure enough to go to their country’s embassy can prove to the entire world that their Bashar is a man of peace (while still able to scare the bejeezus out of them)?
Is there anything more ironic than a Syrian refugee clutching a picture of Bashar el Assad to his heart, a Syrian flag in his right hand and a Hezbollah flag in his left, chanting “Bel rouh, bel dam, nafdik ya Bachar?” – I mean, why did you leave in the first place?
The Syrian embassy in Lebanon has had 100,000 Syrians pre-register to cast their ballots in today’s early vote. Some of the pre-registration process was carried out by Lebanese parties who are aligned with the Syrian regime. I guess those same parties were more pre-occupied with making sure their Damascus boss’ re-election goes along without a hitch than about trying to make sure the presidential vote over here goes through. Priorities people, that is the point.
Today, those voting have the entire Damascus road under an electoral siege for no point whatsoever. I guess that’s not too far off from what goes on in our elections as well.
Who’s To Blame?
The question being asked by people is the following: who is to blame for yet another wave of massive traffic in an event that has been foretold for a few weeks now?
Many Lebanese are blaming our government and its lack of preparations for the event, especially the ministry of interior. But I have to wonder: is it our government and ministry of interior’s job to run any foreign elections on our land? Doesn’t this fall under the auspices of the embassy at hand whose job is to make sure its citizens can reach its premises and vote? Didn’t the Syrian embassy in Lebanon have data at hand that the turnout would be as stratospheric as it turned out to be? Did the government know of such numbers and still fail to issue regulations to counter them? Besides, even if our government knew of the predicted numbers, could we have done anything to address this with our roads and whatnot?
Lebanon’s Syrian Election
You know what’s sad? The fact that Syria, at war and barely together, managed to do a presidential elections, regardless of it being pointless, and Lebanon – at peace (in theory) – failing to vote for a president over almost 3 months of ballots. What’s even sadder is that Syria, a country at war, will not spend a single day with a presidential void while we’re going on day number 4 without a president now with no resolution in sight. The upcoming/current Syrian president will then proceed to give the magic word for the election of ours.
Don’t make fun of the Syrians going to vote the way they do. We do the same when it’s our time to head to ballots except we’ve probably forgotten how it feels like to actually cast a vote. It’s been a long, long time. Today’s conclusion is the following: at least 2014 has witnessed elections in Lebanon. Only It’s Syrian.
The following are pictures from the current mayhem in Baabda: