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February 3, 2020
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February 21, 2020

Comparing Parties’ Discourses to the Voice of the Streets

Introduction

The October 17 uprising shook the political landscape of Lebanon and led to the resignation of the “national unity” cabinet which included virtually all mainstream parties. Rampant corruption, declining socioeconomic conditions, and news of imposition of additional regressive taxes pushed masses of people to the streets. In reaction, all party leaders claimed to support the demands raised in the streets but were prevented by “other parties” from implementing the reforms promised in the buildup to the 2018 parliamentary elections. This paper will analyze the discourse used by the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), Lebanese Forces (LF), Hezbollah, and Future Movement (FM) during the 2018 elections, compare the main themes raised to the demands of protesters, and project the discourse to how each party reacted to the uprising.

Free Patriotic Movement

In the buildup to the 2018 parliamentary elections, the main discourse elements of the head of the FPM, Gebran Bassil, largely revolved around the Christian share in power, duality of army and resistance, combating corruption, refugees, and economy. Certain speech segments were tailored to different regions while the overarching message remained the same. As will be demonstrated throughout the paper, all party leaders without exception framed their political positions as a continuation of a “glorious past”. In the case of Bassil, he recalls and highlights the roots of the FPM in the Lebanese Army, the role played by General Aoun against militias and foreign occupation, and the struggle of FPM youth against Syrian occupation during the post-1990s period.[1]

Regarding the Christian share in power, Bassil accused “political militias” of trying to steal the “Christian decision” and stressed on the role of the FPM in regaining the Christians’ partnership role within the political system especially with the “Strong President”.[2] The FPM bloc will be the backbone of support for the President as they continue to be his party.[3] To further ensure the return into the political system, Christians living in majority-Muslims regions[4] such as Chouf, Bekaa, and South have to “liberate” their seats from decades-old “occupiers” and ensure their “real representation”. It is important to note that, on several occasions, Bassil refers to Christian-dedicated seats as “our seats” thus clearly delineating a separating line between Christian and Muslim voters, in a clear reference to the Orthodox Law logic. In the case of Jezzine, he equated the loss of the FPM candidate to the taking over of the seat by a “foreigner”.[5] This “liberation”, compared in importance to the FPM’s historical struggle for sovereignty against Syrian occupation,[6]  will be followed by the real return of Christians displaced during the war, especially to the Mountain.[7] This rhetoric and comparisons reflect Bassil’s irrevocable link between sovereignty at the national level and the Christian influence over the state.

Under the same slogan, he discredits the FPM’s main Christian rival, the Lebanese Forces Party, by invoking their abandonment of the Orthodox Electoral Law as well as their transgressions during the war. He backtracks however to ensuring “Christian unity” through the understanding with the LF in spite of their escalatory electoral rhetoric and “lies”. In this case, Bassil fluctuates between rallying Christian support to his party by discrediting his rivals within the same sectarian community and rising above electoral considerations for the good of the community as a whole.[8]

Regarding the duality of army and resistance, support for this “formula” is repeatedly reiterated by Bassil as necessary for the protection of Lebanon’s sovereignty. The previous resistance of the FPM against Syrian occupation is complementary to Hezbollah’s resistance against Israel. The understanding with Hezbollah is also described as stronger than any temporary disagreement over electoral considerations.[9]

Combating corruption receives a decent share of attention as Bassil highlights the “clean history” of the FPM and vows to confront the “militias of administration” preventing state-building. He then stresses that political understandings with Hariri and Hezbollah will never be used as a cover for clientalism and corruption.[10]

Bassil calls for solving the refugee crisis[11] while stressing the FPM’s outright rejection for the nationalization of both Syrian and Palestinian refugees.[12] Moreover, he adopts a protectionist and nationalist stance by voicing support for Lebanese shops, businesses, and factories while calling for a switch from a rentier economy to a productive one.[13]

Lebanese Forces Party

The main discourse elements of the head of the LF, Samir Geagea, largely revolved around sovereignty and state building. Very minor, if not even negligible, tailoring affected the political message of Geagea in the different regions visited. A return to a “glorious past” is practiced as Geagea recalls the brief period after President Bachir Gemayel was elected,[14] the continued struggle of political detainee Boutros Khawand, and the oppression of party members during the post-1990s period. This representation of the party, its values, and sacrifices are what guides its decisions today.[15]

Contrary to Bassil’s understanding of sovereignty as cooperation between the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah, Geagea frames Hezbollah’s weapons as a direct challenge to the sovereignty of the Lebanese State and its monopoly over military decisions. He lays blame on all other parties in government for this core flaw because of the political cover they provide for its continuity and believes that the Lebanese Army is solely capable of defending Lebanon’s borders. Because of the complicity of all major parties, Geagea claims that the LF is the only party capable of regaining the state’s authority and control. He even goes further as he intertwines the LF with the 2005 “Cedars’ Revolution”.[16]

In terms of state building, Geagea was vocal against the corruption pervading public institutions as well as bribes, personal favors, familial ties, and clientalism during elections.[17] He then relies on the clean track record of LF ministers and parliamentary members to showcase that LF electoral candidates are the correct choice for the public good. This clean record, along with the party’s history of fighting for a strong state, again make it the only party capable of translating this vision into a reality.[18] Just as Bassil attempted to discredit the LF, Geagea did the same by criticizing the performance of the FPM-run Ministry of Energy.[19]

It is worth noting that Geagea downplayed the importance of electoral programs because he believes all the parties have well-drafted ones, but what really matters is their application.[20]

Hezbollah

The main discourse elements of the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, largely revolved around resistance, coexistence, and socioeconomic conditions. A return to a “glorious past” is practiced as Nasrallah consistently refers to martyrs against Israeli aggression, sacrifices against jihadist groups, and successfully liberating and defending the South from Israeli occupation. These are then linked to voters being loyal to the blood spilled and those fallen before to inspire hope in a better future.[21]

When addressing the theme of resistance, Nasrallah expands on a variety of issues such as the role that each region played in resisting the Israeli occupation and jihadist groups, supporting the Palestinian Cause, and opposing US policies of aggression in the region.[22] These were and continue to be achieved through the “golden formula” of Army-People-Resistance.[23] Details are provided over numerous US and Israeli attempts after the Israeli withdrawal in 2000 to limit the capabilities of the “resistance”, either by enticement or force. This is then linked to the influence that parliament has over all major issues relating to sovereignty and military, the importance of parliamentary elections in foiling any future conspiracies against the party,[24] and protecting the resistance in the ballot box.[25] On several occasions, Nasrallah equates local political opponents, namely the LF and the FM, to supporters of jihadist groups at the Lebanese borders. He also renews the accusation of foreign targeting of the “resistance” by the US and KSA through elections.[26]

Building on the image of the resistance as a national one, Nasrallah calls on voters to move beyond familial, tribal, and sectarian influences during elections.[27] Along the same line, he criticizes the sectarian discourse used by the FM and indicates that Hezbollah does not need to do that because it possesses proper political programs and adheres to a national cause.[28] He also highlights the shared grievances of all the Lebanese[29] and stresses on the importance of coexistence between the different religious communities of Lebanon.[30]

The third theme touched upon by Nasrallah during Hezbollah’s electoral gatherings is the socioeconomic conditions. Nasrallah vows that the party will now commit to reforming the financial and economic situation and protect the impoverished classes from additional taxes.[31] He also lays blame on the economic policies of the FM while highlighting his party’s developmental successes over the past decades in spite of their preoccupancy with land liberation and defense.[32]

Future Movement

The main discourse elements of the head of the FM, Saad Hariri, largely revolved around socioeconomic development, anti-Assad and anti-Hezbollah stances, and some sectarian rhetoric. A return to a “glorious past” is practiced as Hariri always refers to Rafic Hariri’s vision, achievements, and assassination. This is then linked to the FM continuing his path and implementing his vision for Lebanon.[33]

Throughout Hariri’s regional visits leading up to the parliamentary elections, he repeated the same promises of socioeconomic development, investment, stability, and job opportunities. The FM represents the choice of stability and prosperity contrary to deterioration. When speaking about development, the “project” of Rafic Hariri is often invoked as proof of the developmental capabilities of the party.[34] This goes along with moderation, sovereignty, and a strong Lebanese Army.[35]

In parallel to the socioeconomic focus of Hariri’s public speeches, he couples it with a heavy anti-Assad and anti-Hezbollah rhetoric as he accuses them of engineering the lists opposing his party. Hariri frames elections as a “direct confrontation with Hezbollah in all electoral districts”[36] and describes opposing lists as a “return to Syrian occupation, oppression, and assassinations”[37] as well as a “new wisaye”.[38]

Amid the escalatory tone Hariri adopts to rally supporters, he does invoke some sectarian sentiments. For example, in Beirut, he stated that the May 7 elections should be a direct reply to Hezbollah’s takeover of parts of the capital during the May 7, 2008 clashes.[39] Another instance is in Tripoli as he states that the “role of Sunnis in Lebanon” is best protected by the FM.[40]

Projecting Electoral Discourses on Socioeconomic Demands

In the following section, the priorities of protesters are based on a study conducted by the Issam Fares Institute regarding the demands of 51 protest groups across Lebanon. While these are not necessarily representative of the demands of all those who protested, it is one of the limited available reference points at the moment and provides an idea about the mood of the streets. The main socioeconomic demands are holding the corrupt accountable, recovery of stolen public funds, progressive taxation and debt restructuring which protect lower classes, productive economy, proper social security and protection of vulnerable segments, preserving the environment, and recuperating public properties. In terms of political demands, they revolved around the resignation of the previous cabinet, formation of a national rescue mini cabinet, early parliamentary elections, a new fair electoral law, and judicial independence.[41]

Comparing Bassil’s discourse to the main demands raised, one can see both a convergence and divergence. First, the heavy sectarian rhetoric and focus on the Christian share in power adopted by Bassil do not resonate among protesters and could even be labeled as hostile. One of the main messages from the protests was national unity and having cross-sectarian demands. Second, the issue of duality between the army and Hezbollah also was not the focus of the vast majority who rallied around socioeconomic demands and steered away from politically divisive topics. Third, Bassil’s calls for combating corruption and building a proper state fall squarely within the protester’s demands of recovery of stolen public funds, judicial independence, and holding the corrupt accountable. This convergence however was not reflected in protest behavior as heavy accusations of corruption and power grabbing were levied against the leader of the FPM by the streets. Despite this, Bassil’s post-uprising discourse declared the innocence of the FPM from corruption, criticized its “demonization”, laid blame on other parties in government for not allowing reforms to happen, and accused protesters of preventing state building by equally labeling everyone as corrupt.[42] Fourth, Bassil’s recurrent nationalist rhetoric against refugees was not shared by the vast majority of protesters as the blame of the deteriorating socioeconomic situation was targeted at the ruling parties rather than Syrian refugees. Fifth, Bassil’s call for a switch to a productive-based economy rather than a rentier one falls in line with the general mood of the streets. The major omissions, in discourse at least, are the calls for progressive taxation, fair electoral law, and civil state. These were included after the protests as Bassil called for upper classes bearing the burden of taxation, a transition towards a civil state, secularism, civil marriage, and abolishing political sectarianism. Paradoxically, Bassil also labeled “sectarian balance” and restoring “national partnership” as recent achievements of the FPM.[43]

Comparing Geagea’s electoral discourse to the main demands raised, a degree of convergence can be noticed in terms of state building, combating corruption, clientalism, and bribery. This however is limited to these broad concepts especially as Geagea stated the LF does not prioritize programs but rather clean individuals capable of instigating the needed change. Such an approach prevents accurately determining the overlap with protesters’ demands. Furthermore, Geagea stressed on the LF being the only party capable of implementing the needed decisions for a strong state to arise.

This rhetoric continued post-uprising as well as Geagea claimed that the clean work of LF ministers has become a benchmark, criticized the incapability of other parties to reform, and recalled the repeated warnings by the party against deteriorating conditions.[44] Geagea followed through on this rhetoric by announcing the resignation of the LF ministers from the cabinet shortly after the October uprising began.

The second major element of Geagea’s electoral discourse was the monopoly of weapons under the control of the Lebanese Army, in a direct targeting of Hezbollah. Similar to Bassil’s stance of support for Hezbollah, this also did not resonate among protesters as it does not fall within the immediate priorities of the uprising.

Comparing Nasrallah’s electoral discourse to the main demands raised, a large degree of convergence is present. First, Nasrallah criticized the use of sectarian rhetoric to rally voters by the FM while indicating that the party does not need to do that because it possesses a national project. Hezbollah’s Secretary General also stressed on the importance of coexistence between all Lebanese religious groups. Such an approach indirectly falls in line with the protesters’ demands for a civil state away from sectarian divisions; however, it is also at odds with the deeply religious ideology of the party. The same can be said about Hezbollah’s attempted sectarian framing of the protests as anti-Shia to discredit the movement.[45] Second, Nasrallah called for the implementation of socioeconomic reforms and development while moving away from “Harirism” economic policies. This goes hand in hand with rejecting additional taxes on the lower classes. When compared with the uprising demands, these coincide with progressive taxation, social security, and protection of vulnerable segments. Later statements prior to the uprising also include holding the corrupt accountable, judicial independence, and recovery of stolen public funds.[46] The discourse did not really change after the uprising when it comes to demands as Nasrallah reiterated previous socioeconomic stances of protecting lower classes and challenging the interests of financial elites.[47] In practice however, this discourse was again diluted as the party accepted Hariri’s proposed plan and the 2020 budget, both of which fall short of mounting any challenge to the same elites Nasrallah criticized only a short period earlier. Third, Nasrallah placed the resistance at the heart of the electoral campaign and linked the protection of Hezbollah’s weapons to the results of the parliamentary elections. Again, this segment about the weapons of the party was not the focus of protests, neither in support nor in opposition.

Comparing Hariri’s electoral discourse to the main demands raised, first, his promises of socioeconomic development based on Rafic Hariri’s vision do not overlap with protesters’ demands especially in terms of progressive taxation and recuperation of public properties. The neoliberal project implemented by Rafic Hariri conflicts with these calls. Following the uprising, Hariri shifted his approach to one that resonates with the protesters. The economic roadmap announced by the former PM, aimed at appeasing protesters to get out of the streets, included financial contributions from the banking sector, no new taxes on the lower class, support for poor families, subsidies for house loans, return of stolen public funds, combating corruption, and a series of reforms.[48] The roadmap also included privatization processes which may not receive a favorable response from a segment of the protesters. Hariri also absolved himself of responsibility by laying blame on other parties for blocking his plans to solve the root causes of protests.[49] Second, his resort to sectarian rhetoric in some instances of the electoral campaign such as invoking the May 7 clashes and the “role of the Sunnis” contradicts the calls for national unity and cross-sectarian demands raised in the streets. Third, the framing of elections as a confrontation with Hezbollah and Assad is not the focus of the protests which steered away from the traditional political divisions of the country. Despite the divergence in policies and approach, Hariri, through his resignation and consequent negotiations over the formation of a new government, portrayed himself as the negotiator in the name of the people as he insisted on a fully technocratic cabinet which fulfills raised demands.

Projecting Post-Uprising Discourses on Political Demands

Soon after the widespread protests began, Bassil warned against the resignation of the cabinet as it could lead the country into chaos, collapse, and even civil war.[50]  Even though the country’s economic situation is dire, the deliberate magnification of the consequences of overthrowing the government can be traced to the large influence that the FPM had over its decisions. Hence, its resignation would directly undermine the FPM’s sway in the state. This incitement of fear was coupled with an attempt to tarnish the reputation of protesters by accusing parties of diverting its rightful demands to an opposition to the President.[51] While it can be argued that the LF was using the protests to settle political scores, Bassil’s rhetoric aimed at discrediting the entire movement by shifting its socioeconomic nature to a politicized one. Such a shift in perception would make it easier for FPM figures and media outlets to counter the independent image of the uprising and maintain the ranks of supporters and sympathizers. In short, Bassil rejected all the political demands of the uprising, even after the resignation of the cabinet, as the FPM sought to maintain a proportional numbers of seats under the label of technocrats named by the party.

The LF was the only party to resign its ministers from government a few days into the uprising and called for the formation of a new technocratic cabinet from outside ruling parties.[52] The resignation situated the LF alongside the protest movement in this demand but did not initially go as far as calling for snap elections under a new electoral law.[53] This recently changed as Geagea did not mind early elections, albeit under the current electoral law. Whilst positively received among the party’s supporters, many protesters accused the LF of trying to “ride the wave” to both gain popular support and guarantee a better position in future elections.[54] Virtually powerless and unable to exert actual influence on cabinet decisions, the LF had the least to lose by resigning amid growing popular protests.[55] In spite of the different end goals and undeclared intentions between the LF and opposition movements, the LF, at least in rhetoric, has been the closest to the political demands raised in the streets. The major divergence being a technocratic cabinet called for by the LF contrary to a transitional one called for by the opposition deeply reflects the reading of the situation. Whereas some protest groups see this as an opportunity for a radical change in policies and to shift the balance of power in a new parliament under a less sectarian electoral law, the LF prefers a different style of governing within and without threatening the current system.

Nasrallah, similar to Bassil, outright rejected all political demands of the protesters. He warned of the chaos which will result from a power vacuum if the government resigns and stated that the same parties will return in any new cabinet or snap elections.[56] Hezbollah also viewed the demands for an independent cabinet as a region-wide foreign conspiracy against Iran and direct threat to its influence with sources within the party stating they will not give up in times of peace what they did not give up in times of war.[57] Despite acknowledging the legitimacy of the socioeconomic demands of protesters, the positive impact they had in pushing for reforms and a behavioral change of parties in power, and, contrary to all other parties, accepting part of the blame since Hezbollah has been in consecutive governments, he discredited the movement by highlighting the absence of a leadership and divisions in goals but also went further. Nasrallah accused protesters of preventing people from earning a living by blocking roads, damaging the economic situation of the country, humiliating people at checkpoints, asking for identification in ways reminiscent of the civil war, extortion, receiving foreign funding, having corrupt shadow leaders with foreign ties, and infiltration by parties wanting to settle scores. Even when Nasrallah gave credit to some movements which have pure intentions, he also marginalized their impact by questioning their actual size on the ground.[58] Nasrallah attempted to give off the sense that he was being objective and fair in his assessment so that he doesn’t appear as opposed to a socioeconomic movement, but the ultimate goal of his post-uprising speeches was clear. He retained the socioeconomic rhetoric employed during elections to appease Hezbollah’s conflicted support base and called on the new cabinet to respond to people’s genuine grievances, but stood firm against the emergence of any viable opposition that can challenge its control.

Just like the LF’s role extended beyond rhetoric to playing a role on the ground in supporting protests, Hezbollah did the same but in the opposite direction. Party supporters, in a noticeably organized fashion and on several occasions, attacked peaceful demonstrators, destroyed tents and temporary structures set up in protest squares, and chanted sectarian slogans. The violence in Beirut, Baalbek, and Tyr is a clear message of intimidation to both protesters and other parties negotiating over the form of the new cabinet and a clear attempt to frame the uprising from a sectarian lens. How far Hezbollah is willing to go in terms of violence to quash dissent is up for debate. The utilization of loosely organized supporters is one thing, but anything further than that risks further damage to the party’s standing among its lower class. Like Bassil’s framing of protests as against the President, Nasrallah opted for the anti-resistance card and highlighted the presence of LF supporters among protesters. Consequently, in a combination of discourse and violence, Hezbollah has put his support base in front of a binary of either supporting the resistance protecting Lebanon from Israel or demanding their socioeconomic rights.[59] The sway that Nasrallah holds over Shia Lebanese is evident, and while the party has been able to ensure its continued hold for the medium-term at least, its anti-corruption credibility on which the 2018 electoral discourse was based has been severely put into question as conspiratorial justifications grow weaker than ever.[60]

Even though Hariri initially attempted to weather the storm and pushed for the economic roadmap he announced a few days into the uprising, he later on resigned from his position as Prime Minister. This reception to demonstrators’ calls was followed by a further shift into the opposition as Hariri conditioned his return as head of cabinet to its fully technocratic nature. By doing so, Hariri maneuvered the political crisis well and bought himself good negotiating power,[61] but was eventually let down by the LF which refused to support his naming as PM. Whilst partly in line with a key political demand of protesters, he excluded himself from ruling party figures that protesters are objecting to their presence in power. Thus, Hariri tried to negotiate his return as Prime Minister based on the momentum of protesters who initially took to the streets against his own cabinet and economic policies. This is coupled with his rejection of providing special powers to the new cabinet and holding early elections based on a new electoral law. Again, like other ruling parties, Hariri adopted part of the popular slogans that suit his interests but stopped short of the demands that could induce actual change.

Conclusion

Different degrees of the discourse employed by mainstream parties during the 2018 parliamentary elections overlapped with the socioeconomic demands of protesters. In spite of this, every party viewed the uprising as a threat to their influence and tailored their response accordingly. Because the influence of the FPM and Hezbollah is the greatest in the cabinet, they went into survival mode and adopted a defensive stance. A campaign of demonization was thus levied against protesters. The LF acted in another manner and were quick to submit their resignation as they translated their electoral and post-electoral rhetoric into an on-the-ground support for the uprising. Hence, the LF can be firmly classified within the cooptation response. The FM’s initial attempt to adopt a responsive stance gradually shifted to cooptation, evident by Hariri’s political maneuvering during negotiations over the new cabinet. Interestingly, all party leaders, except Nasrallah, absolved themselves from the responsibility of the crisis and laid blame on the “others”. They also all claimed support of the demands of the protesters while stopping short of enticing actual change.

Through either demonization or cooptation, the efforts of mainstream parties revolved around remaining the only gateway to the socioeconomic demands raised by protesters as to prevent the emergence of new movements. Despite these attempts, grassroots movements, whilst still in their early stages and with different politico-economic tendencies, have begun to take shape. The continued presence of such movements beyond street mobilization, further organization, and development of an alternative program could prove a challenge to most mainstream parties whose practice in power has been inconsistent with their discourse. Whether this will materialize into parliamentary power as soon as the upcoming elections is dependent on many factors; however, varied degrees of winners and losers have resulted from the October 17 uprising whose ramifications on the political scene could well be long-lasting.

References

[1] Bassil, G. (2018) Statement of Head of Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil During Electoral Campaign Launch (Kalimat Ra2is al-Tayyar al-Watani al-7orr al-Wazir Gebran Bassil Khilal 7afel Etlak al-7amla al-Entikhabiya), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUxW9cnr7gI

[2] Supra note 1

[3] Supra note 1; Bassil, G. (2018) Statement of Head of Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil During Electoral Campaign Launch in Zahle (Kalimat Ra2is al-Tayyar al-Watani al-7orr al-Wazir Gebran Bassil Khilal Etlak al-Makina al-Entikhabiya lel-Tayyar Fi Da2irat Zahle), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWAyvtLhauo

[4] Bassil, G. (2018) Statement of Head of Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil in Maghdoushi (Kalimat Ra2is al-Tayyar al-Watani al-7orr al-Wazir Gebran Bassil Fi Maghdoushi), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V33Kvo303UE

[5] Supra note 1; Bassil, G. (2018) Statement of Head of Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil in Jezzine (Kalimat Ra2is al-Tayyar al-Watani al-7orr al-Wazir Gebran Bassil Fi Jezzine), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9q-tplmgWe8

[6] Bassil, G. (2018) Statement of Head of Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil in Jezzine (Kalimat Ra2is al-Tayyar al-Watani al-7orr al-Wazir Gebran Bassil Fi Jezzine), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9q-tplmgWe8

[7] Supra note 1; Bassil, G. (2018) Statement of Head of Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil in Damour (Kalimat Ra2is al-Tayyar al-Watani al-7orr al-Wazir Gebran Bassil Fi al-Damour), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8qTo3C1OCQ

[8] Supra note 1

[9] Supra note 6; Bassil, G. (2018) Statement of Head of Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil in Hrajel (Kalimat Ra2is al-Tayyar al-Watani al-7orr al-Wazir Gebran Bassil Fi Hrajel), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIto-A93BhU

[10] Supra note 1; Supra note 4

[11] Supra note 1

[12] Bassil, G. (2018) Statement of Head of Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil in Damour (Kalimat Ra2is al-Tayyar al-Watani al-7orr al-Wazir Gebran Bassil Fi al-Damour), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8qTo3C1OCQ

[13] Supra note 1

[14] Geagea, S. (2018) Lebanese Forces Candidates Announcement Event Platea 2018, Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVFiWyLxhOM; Geagea, S. (2018) Electoral Gathering for Beirut First List in the Presence of Dr Samir Geagea (Mahrajan Entikhabi Akamathu La2ihat Beirut al-Oula bi-7oudour al-Dokteur Samir Geagea), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Kep-AVpgCA

[15] Geagea, S. (2018) Lebanese Forces Candidates Announcement Event Platea 2018, Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVFiWyLxhOM

[16] Supra note 15

[17] Supra note 15; Geagea, S. (2018) Electoral Gathering by Lebanese Forces for the List of Definite Change (Mahrajan Entikhabi 7ashed Akamthu al-Kuwwat al-Lubnaniya li-La2i7at al-Taghyir al-Akid), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAynrH4fiqU

[18] Supra note 15; Geagea, S. (2018) Electoral Gathering in Hasroun The Statement of the Head of the Lebanese Forces Party Dr Samir Geagea (al-Mahrajan al-Entikhabi 7asroun Kalimat Ra2is 7ezb al-Kuwwat al-Lubnaniya al-Dokteur Samir Geagea), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sa07Ejdt1ms

[19] Supra note 15

[20] Supra note 15

[21] Nasrallah, H. (2018) Statement of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah During Electoral Gathering in Mashghara (Kalimat al-Amin al-3amm li-Hezbollah al-Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah khilal al-Maharajan al-Entikhabi fi Baldat Mashghara), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maJZzyHhY0w; Nasrallah, H. (2018) Statement of Hassan Nasrallah During Loyalty to Victory Gathering (Kalimat al-Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah fi Mahrajan Yawm al-Wafaa lil-Naser), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO3Ek-kLyEA

[22] Nasrallah, H. (2018) Statement of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah During Electoral Gathering for Baabda and Beirut II Districts (Kalimat Amin 3amm Hezbollah al-Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah khilal al-Maharajan al-Entikhabi li-Da2irat Baabda wa-Beirut al-Thaniya), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nnGhmXlfwM; Nasrallah, H. (2018) Statement of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah During Electoral Gathering in Mashghara (Kalimat al-Amin al-3amm li-Hezbollah al-Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah khilal al-Maharajan al-Entikhabi fi Baldat Mashghara), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maJZzyHhY0w

[23] Nasrallah, H. (2018) Statement of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah During Electoral Gathering in Mashghara (Kalimat al-Amin al-3amm li-Hezbollah al-Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah khilal al-Maharajan al-Entikhabi fi Baldat Mashghara), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maJZzyHhY0w

[24] Nasrallah, H. (2018) Statement of Hassan Nasrallah During Loyalty to Victory Gathering (Kalimat al-Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah fi Mahrajan Yawm al-Wafaa lil-Naser), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO3Ek-kLyEA

[25] Nasrallah, H. (2018) Statement of Secretary General Electoral Gathering in Baalbeck Hermel and Zahle (Kalimat al-Amin al-3am al-Mahrajan al-Entikhabi fi Baalbeck el-Hermel wa-Zahle), Retrieved from Al Manar: https://program.almanar.com.lb/episode/12945

[26] Supra note 25

[27] Supra note 24

[28] Supra note 23; Supra note 25

[29] Supra note 25

[30] Nasrallah, H. (2018) Statement of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah During Electoral Gathering for Baabda and Beirut II Districts (Kalimat Amin 3amm Hezbollah al-Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah khilal al-Maharajan al-Entikhabi li-Da2irat Baabda wa-Beirut al-Thaniya), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nnGhmXlfwM

[31] Supra note 24

[32] Supra note 25

[33] Hariri, S. (2018) Prime Minister Saad Hariri Announces Candidates List for Parliamentary Elections in Akkar (al-Ra2is Saad Hariri Yo3len La2i7at al-Murasha7in lel-Entikhabat al-Niyabiya fi Akkar), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3X-FN6gGJ0; Hariri, S. (2018) Announcement of Electoral Candidates for Future Movement (7afel E3lan Asma2 Murasha7i Tayyar al-Mustaqbal), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psWPib36H_E; Hariri, S. (2018) Statement of Prime Minister Hariri in Central Gathering for Future Movement in Barja (Kalimat al-Ra2is Saad Hariri fi Mahrajan Markazi li-Tayyar al-Mustaqbal fi Barja), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0Aosa6a0jM; Hariri, S. (2018) Statement of Prime Minister Hariri in Arsal (Kalimat al-Ra2is Saad Hariri fi Arsal), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqpiHAhXSys; Hariri, S. (2018) Mass Gathering in Front of Municipal Palace in Saida to Greet Saad Hariri (Mahrajan 7ashed Amam al-Kaser al-Baladi fi Saida li-Estseqbal al-Ra2is Saad Hariri), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0l17495-E4; Hariri, S. (2018) Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Visit to Batroun (Ziyarat al-Ra2is Saad Hariri ila Batroun), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_wh7pzrhDw

[34] Hariri, S. (2018) Prime Minister Saad Hariri Announces Candidates List for Parliamentary Elections in Akkar (al-Ra2is Saad Hariri Yo3len La2i7at al-Murasha7in lel-Entikhabat al-Niyabiya fi Akkar), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3X-FN6gGJ0; Hariri, S. (2018) Announcement of Electoral Candidates for Future Movement (7afel E3lan Asma2 Murasha7i Tayyar al-Mustaqbal), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psWPib36H_E; Hariri, S. (2018) Statement of Prime Minister Hariri in Central Gathering for Future Movement in Barja (Kalimat al-Ra2is Saad Hariri fi Mahrajan Markazi li-Tayyar al-Mustaqbal fi Barja), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0Aosa6a0jM; Hariri, S. (2018) Statement of Prime Minister Hariri in Arsal (Kalimat al-Ra2is Saad Hariri fi Arsal), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqpiHAhXSys; Hariri, S. (2018) Announcement of Future Movement’s Candidates in North District II Tripoli Menieh Dennieh (E3lan La2i7at Tayyar al-Mustaqbal fi Da2irat al-Shamal al-Thaniya Trablos Menieh Dennieh), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VPnUa84PSI

[35] Hariri, S. (2018) Statement of Prime Minister Saad Hariri during Electoral Gathering in Marjeyoun (Kalimat al-Ra2is Saad Hariri Khilal Mahrajan Entikhabi fi Marjeyoun), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxDEGnW5TqQ; Hariri, S. (2018) Prime Minister Saad Hariri Announces Candidates List for Parliamentary Elections in Akkar (al-Ra2is Saad Hariri Yo3len La2i7at al-Murasha7in lel-Entikhabat al-Niyabiya fi Akkar), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3X-FN6gGJ0

[36] Hariri, S. (2018) Announcement of Future Movement’s Candidates in North District II Tripoli Menieh Dennieh (E3lan La2i7at Tayyar al-Mustaqbal fi Da2irat al-Shamal al-Thaniya Trablos Menieh Dennieh), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VPnUa84PSI

[37] Hariri, S. (2018) Prime Minister Saad Hariri Announces Candidates List for Parliamentary Elections in Akkar (al-Ra2is Saad Hariri Yo3len La2i7at al-Murasha7in lel-Entikhabat al-Niyabiya fi Akkar), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3X-FN6gGJ0

[38] Hariri, S. (2018) Announcement of Future Movement’s Candidates in North District II Tripoli Menieh Dennieh (E3lan La2i7at Tayyar al-Mustaqbal fi Da2irat al-Shamal al-Thaniya Trablos Menieh Dennieh), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VPnUa84PSI

[39] Hariri, S. (2018) Announcement of the List Future for Beirut Statement of Prime Minister Saad Hariri (E3lan La2i7at al-Mustaqbal li-Beirut Kalimat al-Ra2is Saad Hariri), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mphr2b3xfCk

[40] Supra note 36

[41] IFI (2020, January 10) Towards a Just Lebanon Mapping the Demands and Goals of the October Uprising,, Retrieved from Issam Fares Institute: https://www.aub.edu.lb/ifi/news/Pages/20200110-towards-a-just-lebanon-mapping-the-demands-and-goals-of-the-october-uprising.aspx

[42] Bassil, G. (2019, November 3) Bassil to FPM Supporters in Baabda The People Flipped the Table Before We Did (Bassil bayn Munasiri al Tayyar al Watani al 7orr fi Baabda al Sha3b Sabakana wa Kalab al Tawila), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUIn-CiE_oM; Bassil, G. (2019, October 18) Bassil Statement from Presidential Palace in Baabda (Kalimat al Wazir Gebran Bassil men Kaser Baabda), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5QFlUl1GOI

[43] Ibid.

[44] Geagea, S. (2019, October 19) Press Conference of Head of Lebanese Forces Party Samir Geagea (al Mu2tamar al Sa7afi al Kamel li Ra2is 7ezb al Kuwwat al Lubnaniyya Samir Geagea), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PGuLdslFx0; Geagea, S. (November 1) Samir Geagea Lebanon Needs Clear Rescue Steps and We Cannot Ignore the People Again (Samir Geagea Lubnan Ya7taj ila Khutuwat Enkaziya Wadi7a wa La Yumkinuna Tajahol al Sha3b Marra Okhra), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52Vd4hQCfW4c

[45] Yee, V. & Saad, H. (2020, February 4) For Lebanon’s Shiites a Dilemma Stay Loyal to Hezbollah or Keep Protesting, Retrieved from New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/04/world/middleeast/lebanon-protests-shiites-hezbollah.html

[46] Dakroub, H. (2019, March 9) Hezbollah Says Will Press on With Anti-Corruption Drive, Retrieved from The Daily Star: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2019/Mar-09/478398-hezbollah-says-will-press-on-with-anti-corruption-drive.ashx

[47] Nasrallah, H. (2019, October 19) Statement of Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah 19-10-2019 (Kalimat al Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah 19-10-2019), Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGqVJ2zmawo

[48] Hariri, S. (2019, ) Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRw-dUR_beM

[49] Hariri, S. (2019, ) Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCi1RhLH764

[50] Supra note 42

[51] Ibid.

[52] Supra note  44

[53] Supra note 41

[54] Jadaliyya Reports (2019, October 18) Ongoing Post on Protests in Beirut/Lebanon, Retrieved from Jadaliyya: https://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/40115

[55] Dagher, R. (2019, November 25) The Revolution Diaries, Retrieved from Moulahazat: https://moulahazat.com/2019/11/10/the-revolution-diaries/

[56] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGqVJ2zmawo

[57] Haboush, J. (2019, December 5) Hezbollah and Amal Change Tactics and Ratchet Up Violence Amid Ongoing Protests, Retrieved from Middle East Institute: https://www.mei.edu/publications/hezbollah-and-amal-change-tactics-and-ratchet-violence-amid-ongoing-protests

[58] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Qf3pLRUzHU; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-5J9c0YHBU

[59] Supra note 57; Yahya, M. (2019, December 1) After the Lebanon Protests Between the Part of God and Part of the People, Retrieved from Carnegie Endowment: https://carnegie-mec.org/2019/11/01/after-lebanon-protests-between-party-of-god-and-party-of-people-pub-80255.

[60] Hashem, A. & Daher, A. & Hage Ali, M.  (2019, December 5) How Serious Is the Lebanese Uprising for Hezbollah’s Future, Retrieved from Carnegie Endowment: https://carnegie-mec.org/diwan/80484?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

[61] Young, M. (2019, November 28) Hezbollah Has Trapped Itself, Retrieved from Carnegie Endowment: https://carnegie-mec.org/diwan/80449

Jimmy Matar
Jimmy Matar
Jimmy Matar is a researcher about Middle Eastern politics, with a special interest in identities. He holds a BA in International Affairs and Diplomacy from Notre Dame University in Lebanon and an MA in International Relations from Leiden University in the Netherlands. He is currently the Research and Administrative Officer at the Middle East Institute for Research and Strategic Studies. Alongside his work in research, he was and continues to be involved in various civil society organizations focusing on human rights.