Twenty or thirty members and sympathisers of the Lebanese Communist Party (Read: the Lebanese branch of the Comintern, i.e. the Stalinist Party of Lebanon) have gathered next to the Cola roundabout (their traditional “starting point”) and head to Ashrafieh equipped with a pick-up and communist songs. The target is Charbel Nahhas’ house in Furn el-Hayek neighbourhood … next to where I live. While passing by, I recognized the leader of a youth organization affiliated to the Communist Party. I asked him, “what are you doing?” he answered with bitterness, “failed people”. He was expecting the masses to flock to show support for the resigned minister. On the evening news bulletin, the reportage shows many people chatting in Nahhas’ living room, while he was standing in the corner leaning to the wall.
Charbel Nahhas resigned following the adoption by the government of a minimum wage Law, a different one from what he proposed. By the way, both drafts are more favourable to the employers’ interests, rather to the workers. Nahhas, the Minister of Labour in the Lebanese government, submitted his resignation, first to Michel Aoun, a head of a parliamentary bloc, who rejected it, and then later to the Prime Minister, Najib Miqati, who accepted it.
Charbel Nahhas, the new love story of Stalinists, is considered a leftist, nevertheless in one of his books (“حظوظ اجتناب الأزمة وشروط تخطيها: سيرة تجربة في الإصلاح”, [the chances for avoiding the crisis and the conditions to overcome it: the biography of an experiment in reform], Beirut, An-Nahar, 2003, 327p.) he argues for privatization, for raising fuel’s prices, for a VAT, for a gradual reduction of the number of teachers in the public sector, etc. Charbel Nahhas is also an academic genius, in five years, he got a major in Transportation and Infrastructure, from the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, Paris (1976-1978), a D.E.A (master research) in Urban Economics, from the Université de Paris -1 (1977-1979), and a PhD in Social Anthropology, from the École de Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris (1978-1980).
In his website, a section is dedicated to his publications. I ventured into reading two articles/reports.
In the first one, “What future for the International fair and Tripoli?”, he started by exploring the concept, history and rational of fairs, the place of Tripoli in the chain of commercial distribution, and the needs for Tripoli. He drew to our attention that the fairground area is equivalent to the entire surface of Tripoli old town; compared to Beirut, it is equivalent to “the Downtown or neighborhoods of Hamra and the American University together. Internationally, it is 1.7 times the size of the Vatican, nearly five times the area of Les Halles in Paris; it is the equivalent of all the Quartier Latin between the Seine Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the Luxembourg Gardens and the Rue Mouffetard, or the equivalent of the City, between the Thames, the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral.” Nahhas dedicated a considerable part of his article to the spatial division in Tripoli between a poor area and a rich one, to conclude that the fair should be used either as a transport hub or a location for the Lebanese University.
The second one is a study on “The Socio-Economic Impact of Replacing the Commercial Port in Sour [Tyre] by a Touristic Port”. The report is full of economic graphs and analyses, (even some of the graphs are wrong in comparison to the numbers stated), and with no social assessment. Anyway, from his conclusion (page 30), we can extract two wisdoms:
1- “This advantage becomes larger and larger as growth improves in Lebanon as a whole and as tourism booms in Sour. In this sense, the loss would become greater and greater if the general outcome improves for the country and the town.”
2- “What is lost here or gained hare[sic] is often partly or totally gained or lost elsewhere. The same applies to the exterior. Relocation and new production have to be dissociated.”
So, to Charbel Nahhas and his fans, do not worry. For what is lost here or gained hare is often partly or totally gained or lost elsewhere. Anyway, your loss due to this setback and this resignation would be become greater and greater if the general conditions for this country improve.