“Syria had established a monarchy under King Faisal Bin Hussein and the proclamation of a kingdom or an emirate in Lebanon was not greeted with any opposition from residents. Yet, the French wanted us to be republicans, so we became republicans…”
“Mount Lebanon lived in the Mutasarifiyah era for seventy years under a system pretty close to the monarchist regime. Why don’t we go back to those days and establish a long-term small-sized administrative council with advisory and legislative powers, and the state will be headed by what we call Emir or King rather than Mutasarrif?”
‘Who will be the next President of the Republic of Lebanon?’ A question frequently raised by the media, the politicians and the public as if anyone knows the answer. As if we lived under a parliamentary democracy in the first place to speculate who the next President will be. Is the current Parliament, whose mandate has been extended, even qualified to elect a new legitimate Head of State? Is it normal for the Speaker of Parliament to be Shia’a, the Prime Minister Sunni and the President of the Republic Maronite? Is it normal to distribute posts based on sectarian quotas? Is it normal for a Za’im (depending on the circumstances that dictate who that Za’im will be) to have the final say on whom to hire and promote to public posts from his sectarian community? Does it really matter whether we have a President of the Republic if there is no Republic to begin with?
Why were the major leaders of Lebanon reluctant to take on key ministerial portfolios as if public service did not befit them?
Did Kamal Jumblat not demand control over the Ministry of Interior portfolio, Rashid Karami the Ministry of Finance and Majid Erslan over the Ministry of Defense? When did being a Minister and leadership become two different things?
Since Lebanon achieved independence, ‘our’ Presidents have been appointed by external, not internal consensus. Today isn’t any different from yesterday. What is the solution? Rather who is the solution?
The answer resides in the hands of Gabriel Puaux whom we affectionately nicknamed “Higher Commissioner” (October 1938-November 1940) because “Colonizing Commissioner” sounded a little too heavy.
“…The Mutasarrifiyah system is worthier of the Lebanese and it has brought them stability after wars” says Gabriel Puaux in his memoir Deux années au Levant: Souvenirs de Syrie et du Liban, urging the declaration of Lebanon as an Emirate or a Kingdom ruled by an Emir or a King who would pass on the throne to his offspring. But who should that King be? Only Mr. Puaux has the answer.
In his book Before and After, Iskandar Riachi says “Mr. Piaux used to say that the Emir or King should be a Christian so that Lebanon does not lose the sectarian stamp that has distinguished and separated it from the rest of the neighboring regions. He should also be a Protestant because a Protestant King can reconcile the major sects.”
Problem solved. Let us then assign Emirs or agents to the regions and you will come to see that each of them is already in control of his sphere of influence. Then, we can form a Council of Emirs that reports to a King of absolute power.
If we wish to apply modernism or secularism, we can even resort to rotating the Emirate, appointing the Emir of the North to the Beqa’a and vice versa. A century or two after introducing this new system, we shall finally come to know its merits and demerits.
Thus, the Zu’ama may rule based on their influence in the regions with their powers prescribed by the Constitution, rather than being seized forcibly as is the case today.
A Protestant King ruling the Kingdom of Lebanon? “Yes”, says Puaux, provided that he be a foreigner, precisely from Sweden, because, in his opinion, the Zu’ama of Lebanon are unlikely to agree on a Lebanese candidate in a final, definitive and absolute manner. So let the King of Sweden, Carl Gustav, act as King of Lebanon.