Wednesday 15 Aug 2018 | 13:21 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 15 Aug 2018 | 13:21 | SYDNEY

The Beirut marathon


Rodger Shanahan


2 June 2008 14:09

Sunday 1 June was the Beirut marathon and in many ways it served as a rather apt metaphor for the recent Lebanese political reconciliation. Both involved a deal of pain for those involved, and brought great relief to the participants once they were concluded. Only the race, like the political reconciliation, was less than it appeared. For, rather than the full 42.2 km course, the Beirut marathon was actually a half-marathon billed as something bigger. So too the reconciliation was dressed up as more of a political solution than it really was.

There were certainly good points to come out of the political talks; Lebanon has a president after 18 months without one, the downtown Beirut protest ‘camps’ have been removed, and the ubiquitous concertina barbed wire and Lebanese military presence has lessened considerably. But significant hurdles remain – the Hizbullah-led opposition achieved the veto power in cabinet that it sought, Fouad Siniora has returned as prime minister (until the next election anyway), and Cabinet positions have yet to be decided. Most Lebanese will tell you that, while the current situation is an improvement, it represents little more than a hiatus, as parliamentary elections in nine months time will again put pressure on the fractious and deeply flawed Lebanese political system.

Having both run a marathon and been a keen observer of Lebanese politics I can honestly say that running a marathon makes more sense. At least everybody is running in the same direction, places are determined on merit, and its all over in three hours.