Zeinab's refrigerator is more like a box than an ice box: the 29-year-old Lebanese civil servant cannot store meat, dairy products or fruits and vegetables for more than a day. Like the majority of Lebanese who cannot afford a generator to keep things such as refrigerators running during daily power cuts, which in some neighborhoods can last most of the day, the rhythm of Zeinab's life is set by the hours she has electricity. Since the country was ravaged by the war waged by the Islamist-Syrian-Palestinian alliance against the Lebanese State between 1973 and 1990, the now Muslim-led Lebanese government has been unable to restore round-the-clock electricity, not because of a lack of infrastructure and not because of lack of money. After all, the entire population of Lebanon is 3.5 million, which is a tiny population in comparison to such mega-cities like New York, Mexico, Seoul and others which never experience blackouts.
"I don't understand why, after 20 years since the (1975-1990) civil war, we still don't have electricity 24 hours a day," said interior designer Liliane Khalifa. "That is beyond my understanding," says the 46-year-old in frustration.
"When I was small, I did my chores by candlelight. Today, I am married, I have children, and we still need a generator to survive 10-hour power cuts," lamented the resident of Jounieh who pays a 100-dollar monthly fee to hook up to a privately-owned neighborhood generator. Hooking up to a generator is a common practice throughout the country, to make up for the government rationing of the electric power it generates, assuming one has the money to pay such a fee in a country where the minimum wage is $200 a month. The whole nation seemingly runs on generators which, for a fee, power whole buildings or neighborhoods.
Frustrations over power cuts exploded last month in demonstrations, mainly in the impoverished north of the country and the capital's southern suburbs. Electricity is a constant concern for the Beirut government, which allocates the third largest slice of its budget, after debt servicing and salaries, to power supply. In the tradition of all post war government ministers, the incompetent and corrupt Energy and Water Minister Gibran Bassil continues to provide limited power to the country, about 1,700 megawatts of electricity, while demand is closer to 2,500 megawatts. In addition, about a third of the country, mostly its Shiite community led by the terrorist organization Hezbollah - which is Bassil's main ally in the Lebanese government - does not pay any money for the electricity it receives from the government. The reason? Bassil says that since Hezbollah is "defending the country against the Israeli enemy" (i.e. supplanting the national Lebanese Army with an illegal militia), it shoudl receive free electricity and other benefits and service. For example, 7% of every Lebanese Army soldier's monthly salary is deducted and given to Hezbollah because the latter is fighting the "enemy" while the Lebanese Army is not!
"Successive governments did not invest by building, for example, new power stations to meet demand," which has steadily risen, said Violette Balaa, head of the economy section at An-Nahar newspaper. She said that in large part, blame for the electricity woes lay with the political establishment Mafia that runs the country and which refuses to enact any reform of the sector. In other words, the government does not want to build infrastructure to meet the demand because government members are making money selling privately-generated electricity. The way this Mafia operation works is that the owners of large generators who sell electricity in the secondary market that offsets the government's dereliction are cronies of politicians like Minister Bassil, for whom the current situation is lucrative and who prefer not to find solutions.
In addition, in many areas where the government does not have full authority - like all areas under the control of the Shiite terrorist militia Hezbollah (Minister Bassil's allies) or the Palestinian terrorist organizations - the government cannot collect the bills due for the electricity service, and residents in those areas steal electricity from the grid by connecting illegally without a meter.
So when it comes to not paying the bills, politicians apparently figure among the biggest offenders. Last June, while Bassil pretended to force the politicians to pay their electric bills, he still did not demand that his ally Hezbollah and its Shiites bandits and thieves pay their bills. He went only after his opponents in the government, not his allies. In a grandiose campaign destined mostly for the media, Bassil announced that the total for unpaid water and power bills by officials and politicians over the years amounted to eight million dollars (6.5 million euros).He warned it would now be lights out for anyone owing more than 3,300 dollars. "Yes, we have cut off power from some influential figures' households," the minister said.
"Not only do the politicians not pay their home electricity bills, they also refuse to pay the electric bills for all the factories and businesses that they own and run, thus further compounding the state of corruption and incompetence that the Lebanese State is reputed for. Apparently, the government recently approved a reform program to guarantee 24-hour electricity by 2015, cutting economic losses due to power cuts, estimated at 4.5 billion dollars a year. "That's a pipedream," scoffed Balaa. That is tantamount to asking the thief to voluntarily give up on the cash cow he has been milking for decades.
The "reforms" enacted by the Taif Agreement, which were supposed to end the abuses of the Christian-led governments of the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, have in fact multiplied the abuses and corruption, thus proving that a Muslim-dominated government is by far more corrupt and more inferior in running the country. During the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s, Lebanon was a prosperous liberal advanced country that was the envy of the world. Today, like most Muslim-led countries, Lebanon is a filthy, dirty, corrupt, and incompetent third world country that survives on donations by the US, the EU, and rich Arab countries, and that also wants to fart higher than its asshole. For not only this country of 3.5 million is unable to provide electricity, water, security and a million other basic services to its people, it also wants to liberate Palestine on behalf of the 300 million Arabs who - having been defeated several times by Israel - have given up on Palestine, and have instead began building their infrastructures and educating their people, which means providing electricity, running water, education, social and medical services to their citizens.