Their hands were outstretched as every year. The president, parliament speaker and prime minister received congratulations from all their friends. For what? Independence of course–70 years of it apparently.
Oddly enough, Lebanon’s interior minister openly admitted yesterday that the next Lebanese president would NOT be decided by the Lebanese.
On the very eve of ‘independence day’ he told An Nahar:
“The decision to elect (the president) is not in the hands of the Lebanese. It is an international decision which in the past stage had been given to the Syrians.”  

Of course most Lebanese already knew that. Forget sovereignty, after 70 years Lebanon is not even capable of providing basic services to its citizens like water or electricity, which have conveniently been subcontracted to “private businessmen” in the state’s absence.  
But all these annoying realities didn’t stop our “leaders” from accepting congratulations for “imaginary” independence.
First came all the businessmen and bankers, who have actually been getting richer as the country deteriorates. And there were smiles all around:  
They lined up by the hundreds:

 Some gave their additional shoulder hold for added economic stability:

A few got a shoulder rub back:

They arrived in dozens of bullet-proof luxury vehicles, which circled endlessly around the presidential palace.

Mercedes and BMWs:


And Range Rovers:

 At least someone tried to be humble with a Mini Cooper:

Then there were the legions of military and security officials. They haven’t solved almost a single one of the dozens of assassinations or terrorist attacks that have killed Lebanese citizens over the past five years.
And yet we have more generals and colonels than the eye can see. They come in every color, from blue:
To gray:
To beige:

To dark blue:

Then came the holy men, who haven’t been very successful at praying for their leaders’ sins:


 And among this giant sausage fest of old men, I counted about five women. Because hey, we wouldn’t be here without them!

 Finally this sordid occasion of hypocrisy was crowned by a letter of advice from one of the powers that helped create this tragic republic, England. Of course the British divided the spoils with their French counterparts some 70 years ago to help establish today’s Middle East dictatorships for their own advantage.

And yet 70 years later, the UK ambassador has the gall to ask why things have gotten so bad here in this mess his and other Western governments have only perpetuated. Still his message was dutifully read by our biggest national broadcaster.

Fortunately, Lebanon is blessed with many great minds that were not at today’s money party. These include social and human rights activists that are usually beaten and intimidated for their patriotic services. We also have an impressive blogging community that may help push a little change in this order of oligarchs, although the powers that be are working hard to infiltrate that space too. Thankfully one of our best  bloggers, Karl, has taken one of them to task this morning.

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