Following on from the previous article about Lebanon, that nation is at another crossroads, which is easy to see. The warehouse area of the port of Beirut, Lebanon’s major port, through which most of its food was imported, is now gone. One of the richest areas of Beirut is in ruins. The nation is the site of an emerging great power competition, as those great powers (Russia, China and the US, and Iran as well) vie for ultimate influence. The outcome of that struggle will determine Lebanon’s future for the next few years at least, but also for the wider Middle East, as well as for the great powers. It will be of Lebanon’s choosing. To know what to expect next, we needed a working chart for the nation. In this post we look at that chart and then at what is in store astrologically for Lebanon and Western Asia in the immediate years ahead.
We start with a very brief background. What we know as the land of Lebanon today has always had a sectarian history since Islam and Christianity emerged. The primary sects these days are headed by warlords (like mafia bosses, and with private armies), composed largely of Maronite Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims and Druze. The people there, especially the Maronite Christians, have had close ties with Roman Catholicism and thereby France and Italy. The Druze emerged from the Maronites.
The area was under Muslim rule for about 400 years, starting with the Emirate of Mt. Lebanon, which was an autonomous region in the Ottoman Empire. In 1861 the area became the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate, which lasted until 1920 and the French Mandate, the latter an outcome of the fall of the Ottomans after the 1st World War. Since the Crusades, the French Mandate was the first time any European power had wielded any sort of controlling interest in the region.
During the French Mandate the state of Greater Lebanon was cobbled together from majority Maronite areas and surrounding Shia and Sunni provinces. It had the same boundaries as the modern Lebanese state. In 1926 it was declared a democratic republic by France with a parliamentary system of government, noting that system of government was French-imposed. During WWII, when France was occupied by Germany, Lebanon gained a measure of independence. On 8 Nov 1943, after elections were held, the government announced the end of the French mandate. They were promptly imprisoned by the French, until international pressure gained their release, at which point they re-declared their independence, by appearances in the morning of 22 Nov 1943. That date is celebrated as Lebanese Independence Day.
The reasons for choosing the timing of independence for that date were given in the preceding article. What we need now is to prove the chart. As a proving of the independence chart, the following are some of the major events that changed Lebanese society flowing on from their independence, with links to the charts of the events:
- 1958 insurrection: (chart) Political crisis caused by political and religious tensions. 5,000 US Marines briefly dispatched to restore order in Operation Blue Bat. The insurrection almost resulted in a civil war between Maronite Christians and Muslims. Resulted in a change in government, with Karami becoming PM.
- Lebanese Civil War: (chart) 1975 – 1990. The same tensions as the ‘58 insurrection boiled over, but involved all groups. Fomented by the PLO. Demographics had shifted in favour of Muslims, who rebelled against the Christian, West-leaning government.
- Taif Agreement: (chart) 1990. Ended the Lebanese civil war. Positioned Lebanon as a country with ‘an Arab identity and belonging’. The agreement formed the principle of “mutual coexistence” between Lebanon’s different sects and their “proper political representation”. Syria played a critical role in ending the civil war. The agreement further enshrined the sectarian system.
- Assassination of Rafiq Hariri: (chart) 14 Feb 2005. This started the Cedar Revolution, which resulted in a victory for anti-Syrian factions. In the West this was cast as the final independence of Lebanon from outside forces. To Middle East observers it was seen as a color revolution.
- July War: (chart) 12 July 2006. An Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon, in an attempt to oust Hezbollah. Ended in a stalemate and eventual Israeli withdrawal. Establish the dominance of Hezbollah militarily in Lebanon. It was an embarrassment for Israel and has resulted in tit-for-tat reprisals on both sides, with neither wanting a major conflict.
- The 2019-2020 protests: Started 22 Oct 2019. (chart) Protests against austerity measures, recession, unemployment, interventionism and general anger about the state of the government and sectarianism. They have some of the calling cards of an attempt at another color revolution.
- The Beirut port explosion, explained in the previous article.
I have not included secondary progressions on the linked charts, in order to avoid clutter. Where they are important they are described on the chart. The same is true of midpoints this time. In general, the transits and directions pretty well describe the events listed. In each of those charts either the Meridian or Horizon axes are activated, essential for proving the chart. Especially important are the aspects to the Midheaven, which concerns the government. The current protests, starting last year, involved a transit of Pluto over the Ascendant, which brings us to the independence chart, below (bigger):
The time of 10:10 am Beirut time gives 21 Capricorn rising. Of particular note is that the Ascendant for the nation was activated by the 10 January 2020 eclipse (the ‘Saturn/Pluto eclipse’) that signalled the end of the old era and the start of the new one. It also signalled a weakening of the West, the rise of the East and the end to old power structures, represented by Capricorn. This fits with Lebanon’s old structure since its early days through the first decades of its independence. It also points to a possibly brighter future, covered later.
Capricorn is said to represent the best and the worst of human nature. We have certainly seen that in Lebanon. It has had one of the most corrupt governments in the world (137th out of 198) with a confidence rating of 28 out of 100 – highly corrupt and opaque, in other words. It ranks right up there with Papua New Guinea, as far as that measure goes. The ratings on the linked site are rule of thumb only and not to be taken as gospel. Yet, virtually every source one reads will speak of the corruption and nepotism that has existed in Lebanon for years. The people are sick of it, hence the protests we are seeing. There is another side to that story, though.
Lebanon was founded under colonial rule, as both the UK and the French were old colonial powers. With the breakup of the Ottomans, primarily under British and French supervision, as well as the US, one imperial power was replaced by another, the former militarily and the latter primarily financial. The French, the British and the Americans – the West in general – have had designs on Lebanon all along. It has served the interests of those nations to keep that nation divided along sectarian lines and corrupted, meaning that the leaders in power in Lebanon could be easily swayed to Western purposes.
Beirut has been called ‘the party capital of the Middle East’. It is at one and the same time a place of great beauty and of the worst sort of poverty. Since the 1990s Lebanon has been a poster child for neoliberal capitalism, with less than 1% of the populace controlling most of the wealth. Beirut is a microcosm of Lebanon. Beirut has been described thus, by one of its part-time residents:
[It]…is above all us all, selfish, capricious, outrageous. It suffers from a maddening complex of superiority. It is convinced that it is “Paris of the Middle East” (or perhaps that Paris is the “Beirut of Europe”) and the only city in the region which at least has some brain, style and talent.
It had been invaded, bombed to the ground, battered by wars and conflicts; it had been divided by religions, overwhelmed by immigrants; it collapsed economically and socially, got into unserviceable debt, periodically covered itself with garbage as if it was a duvet, screwed its people by electricity and water shortages, paralyzed its streets with traffic jams, and yet, yet it is still standing here, confident and some would say arrogant, but standing with confidence and beauty, never defeated and always proud. Yes, even when on its knees – proud.
Beirut is like no other city in the Middle East. Like no other city in the world. This is no criticism and no compliment; it is simply a fact.
That entire article is worth reading and is well described in the independence chart. Very briefly, the ostentatiousness and displays of wealth, its pride, its happy-go-lucky attitude when times are good, the partying instinct and so forth are described in the Sun/Jupiter square and the Sun/Venus semisquare. In fact, Venus is at the midpoint of the Sun/Jupiter square. This combination describes one of the nation’s greatest weaknesses when negatively expressed: A materialistic mentality, pretentiousness, negligence, heedlessness, extravagance and squandering, ostentatiousness, the inclination to spend money unnecessarily. It is like an addiction.
Lebanon has displayed some of the worst aspects of capitalism. Yet, it can have a big heart. Uranus combinations in a national chart can indicate refugees (i.e. humanitarian ideals and efforts), and Lebanon is currently a temporary home to over 1.5 million refugees, the most per capita in the world, with most of them resulting from the war in Syria. Uranus is well aspected in the chart, trine to Venus and Neptune (very idealistic combinations) and sextile to Pluto. Uranus is opposed by Mercury, which gives Lebanon’s great sense of independence, its love of a battle of wits, but also its revolutionary attitude. The latter has been a blessing and a curse, but it will prove important in the months ahead.
Infrastructure is ruled by Venus (4th house) in the chart, and coupled with the Sun/Jupiter square gives the nation its beautiful, yet undependable infrastructure. Maintenance is not a feature of the Sun/Venus/Jupiter combination. Instead, it describes ‘high maintenance’, as in a high-maintenance partner. It puts one in mind of the old British TV sitcom Keeping Up Appearances.
Emigration is ruled by the 3rd house (Aries/Mars in this case) and also Uranus. Both Mars and Uranus are in the Lebanese 5th house, ruled by Gemini, and both planets are in Gemini, pointing to youth, diversity and the intelligentsia. The latter are usually the first to be expunged in times of revolution and purges, as has happened in Lebanon’s past. The Gemini emphasis along with Mars also suggests a high mobility with its expats. Because of all the troubles Lebanon has seen in the past 150 years, the Lebanese diaspora is at least double the nation’s current population of four million. That diaspora is concentrated largely in Argentina, Brazil and Columbia, comprised of Maronite Christians for the most part. Just over a million of them retain their Lebanese citizenship.
The thing that interests us most here, though it is all interesting, is the Scorpio MC, with its ruler (Pluto) in the 7th house, conjunct the north node and at the center of some rather troublesome midpoints. Pluto governs corruption, among other things, and describes the situation in Lebanon’s government quite well. It sits at the midpoint of the natal Moon/Saturn square, which on one side gives the nation a tremendous amount of creative force, for which it is known, but also having to experience some of the most painful upheavals in life.
Plu=Moon/Sat: “The necessity to rely upon oneself only, the inclination or necessity to rise in life by using force and to go one’s way alone. Organic suffering in conjunction with strong feelings of depression. – Separation from the wife or from the mother.” This describes both the large diaspora (separations) and probably the main ‘life-lesson’ for Lebanon – the necessity to have to rely only on their own devices and to divest themselves of foreign control in their affairs.
Foreign control was built into the current Lebanese state from the start, and is shown in the relation between the rulers of the 9th house (foreign affairs) and the 12th house (self-sabotage and secret enemies of the state) – Venus for the former and Jupiter for the latter. Jupiter is sextile to Saturn (one of the prime wealth aspects) and is in the 7th house (partnerships, contracts and open enemies). The ‘secret enemy of the state’ is its rule by the banking sector, which the Maronites mostly control. More on that momentarily, because it is at the root of the present protests.
The government of Lebanon is weak, shown by the Plu=Mars/Nep midpoint, in addition to the one just described. The Mars/Nep combination indicates the tendency to suffer brutally at the hands of others or to do likewise. This condition is ameliorated by Pluto completing the ‘easy opposition’ with the Mercury/Uranus opposition, but the two midpoints just described are an overbearing influence. The main takeaway from the Pluto placement is that Lebanon will do the best for itself when it begins to act independently. But that will be a very hard road, especially given the large diaspora, which wields considerable influence from afar, plus the very makeup of its constitution, made worse by the Taif Agreement. That brings us back to banking.
The 2nd/8th house axis is the main financial axis, and it is ruled by Mercury (foreign banking) and Neptune (domestic banking). The latter leaves the nation open to financial funny business. However, like Pluto, Neptune completes the ‘easy opposition’ with Mercury/Uranus. The midpoints to Neptune, which can also rule corruption, are even more troubling than those to Pluto, though. To begin, they all have much tighter orbs than those to Pluto.
The first and closest midpoint says quite a bit about the nation and how it handles its money, Nep=Jup/MC: “The dreaming of good fortune and successes without the right sense or appreciation of reality, the desire to gain successes without effort. – Luck established upon a weak basis, temporary and passing good fortune, disappointments, losses, being angry.” The next, Nep=Moon/Ven, shows the tendency to be tempted or seduced easily.
After Nep=Moon/Ven, the next midpoint, Nep=Sun/Plu, shows the undermining of health or of vocational position, martyrdom, stilted development, and a high impressionability. Then, the next one, Nep=Sun/Node, shows an inability to adapt easily and disappointments in associations. And lastly, Nep=Mars/Asc, shows a lack of energy (Lebanon exports very little), an inability to maintain position, and difficulties caused by others. Lebanon’s financial sector at home, then, is not in a healthy state and not robust.
Lebanon relies heavily on handouts and has a very heavy debt load (8th house/Mercury). That debt load is exacerbated by the strongest Mercury midpoint, Mer=Ura/Nep (not shown): plans without hope of realization, and a strange sense of imagination. That midpoint is an occultist’s dream, but in mundane affairs it plays havoc on planning. The silver lining there are the easy oppositions by Neptune and Pluto to the Mercury/Uranus opposition, along with something else.
Lebanon has tremendous creative potential especially in the arts and aesthetics. This is aided by another Pluto midpoint, Plu=Mer/Ven; “A tremendous creative power, the recognition of art as a mission, one-sided or too specialized artistic objectives. – Peculiar contacts or acquaintances.” This, coupled with the Moon/Saturn square, gives the focus to overcome obstacles, provided the nation can unite itself, think and act independently, and that means overthrowing the old order. Lebanon’s opportunity in this moment is thus great.
There are two major hindrances to Lebanon’s progress, standing squarely in the way of its independence. The first is its ties to the US dollar and its dependence upon it for financial well-being. This is being used to great effect in destabilizing the country, and that has a hidden cause. The reason that is happening is that the government, which just stepped down en masse, was working against the wishes of the Beltway and other Western interests. Diab was looking eastward and was ready to ink deals with China on major infrastructure projects. The dollar spigot was turned off as a result, and the economy collapsed, sparking the protests last year.
Lebanon’s finances for the past years were set up on a shaky system that was too dependent on foreign exchange rates and was not reformed by successive governments. From the last link:
Successive governments, however, did little to enact reforms or improve Lebanon’s infrastructure, while continuing to borrow heavily, accumulating one of the world’s largest debts reaching $90 billion, or 170% of GDP. With Lebanon in constant need of hard currency to cover its massive trade balance deficit — it exports way too little and imports almost everything —Salameh [central bank governor] helped attract deposits to local banks by offering higher interest rates than those of international markets.
When the flow of hard currency dropped, beginning in 2016 [a key date to remember] — in large part because falling oil prices reduced remittances from Lebanese working in Gulf Arab nations — Salameh responded with a so-called “financial engineerings” debt policy. This encouraged local banks to obtain dollars from abroad by paying high interest rates, to keep the state’s finances afloat. This approach is what his detractors now say proved too costly for the country. An economic recovery plan recently adopted by the government showed that the central bank had $44 billion in losses over the past years, the result of losing financial operations.
In the months before anti-government demonstrations erupted last October, panicked depositors pulled billions of dollars from banks, which subsequently closed for two weeks and later imposed stringent restrictions on withdrawals.
Lebanon’s debt now stands at 170% of its GDP. The second elephant in the room that stands in the way of Lebanon’s progress is its neighbour to the immediate south, Israel. The Zionists have always had designs on Lebanon. Plus, Lebanon has gas reserves in the Mediterranean, which is disputed with Israel.
The mention of 2016 has another significance because of the lack of finances, which would have drawn the notice of the Washington establishment – in addition to the fall in the flow of hard currency, Lebanon signed on to China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the following year. In 2018, Lebanon signed on to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The Beirut port is to be a major link in the BRI overland route to Europe, along with Syria and Iran. Any dealings with China are now anathema to the US administration, and West Asia is to be off limits to China, they hope.
Israel was about to ink a deal with China for improvements at the Haifa port and other infrastructure projects. A friendly visit to Israel by Pompeo in May of this year put the kibosh on those plans. Haifa, too, was to be an important port in the BRI. There were other projects, like a desalination plant, in which China was involved. Those plans are on hold now, too. A quick look at the directions in 2017 shows what was happening then.
In April of 2017 the directed Uranus/Pluto midpoint, our ‘revolution midpoint’ was at 22½ of the mutable signs, just 2 ½ degrees behind the Lebanese Moon. The Moon and Neptune rule ports. The Moon and Neptune are both in the 8th house, that house representing foreign investors. We recall that the Ura/Plu midpoint is found usually within a few degrees by direction advancing on key points in a chart when revolutionary events happen. That move by the Lebanese government regarding its infrastructure can be seen as a revolutionary step. The directed midpoint was exact on the Lebanese (parallax) Moon two weeks before the October protests started last year. That was when the contracts were to have been signed on the ports and the work begun. The timing is more than a little suspicious.
All of the preceding would lead one to easily suspect that the port explosion was actually an attack and/or false flag intended to send a message to the Lebanese government. The Diab government, as mentioned, was not in the Beltway’s best standing, and they have since stepped down. There have been offers of IMF loans, Turkish help and offers of several hundred million dollars of aid to Lebanon to help them through their troubles. But all of those come with conditions, the main one being that Hezbollah has to be removed from the government altogether.
Lebanon was one of the seven countries that was supposed to be regime-changed in five years, per Wesley Clark. Afghanistan and Iraq were crushed in the early ‘00s. The US tried in Lebanon, too, via Israel, with the July War as the pretext. But by that time, Iraq had become problematic with the Shia uprising in southern Iraq and drew US attention away from Lebanon. And that period also saw the rise of Hezbollah in Lebanon. There were further attempts to destabilize Lebanon with the Syrian war, which started basically in tandem with the destruction of Libya. Then Russia intervened in West Asia.
The ‘seven countries’ idea was effectively shelved in 2015, if not before. But Israel is a constant threat, though they dare not intervene in Lebanon now. The only threat to Lebanon at present is their own internal dysfunction, coupled with conspicuous consumption and its ties to the US dollar. Its weak political system must be overhauled and what replaces it prepared to act with daring if Lebanon is to see any sort of prosperous future, as the situation stands now. Hence, we see Western powers rushing to shore up their influence in Lebanon since the destruction at the port.
Lebanon faces a very difficult road ahead, shown in the independence chart if that chart continues to prove itself. The following points will illustrate it:
- The old warlords vying for power now that the government has resigned
- Interference from the US and Europe
- Its ties to the US dollar
- Its neoliberal Ponzi financial setup
- Its bloated banking sector
- Its privatized banks
- Internal corruption
- Identity confusion (there is no sense of a unified national identity)
- Lack of any resources, other than its offshore gas, a bit of agriculture and its creativity
- Its huge diaspora, compared to its population, which can either help or hinder. At present it represents a huge sinkhole of capital outflow which only harms the nation as investors flee and stash their money offshore.
The US is preparing sanctions against Hezbollah’s allies in Lebanon in an effort to weaken the organization. But Hezbollah is supported by Iran. It shows the stupidity of the DC establishment, in that it will only cause the Lebanese to turn even faster toward the East, at least in the Shia demographic there.
If the port explosion was an attack and meant to strong-arm the government, the move may well backfire. Port traffic has now been re-routed to Tripoli, 80 miles to the north of Beirut, and close to the Syrian-Lebanese border. China is also looking to expand the port at Tartus, where Russia has one of its naval bases. Those two ports are more likely the sites of transits of Hezbollah weaponry and aid than was Beirut. And now, with Haifa off the Chinese books for the moment, they will be concentrating on Tripoli and Tartus.
As to the port at Tripoli, the port’s director, Ahmed Tamer, confirms:
“…the port has witnessed during the past years the expansion work by Chinese companies, and it has received the largest ships from China, carrying a big number of containers”. Add to it the fact that Tripoli port will also be essential in the process of Syria reconstruction – to which China is totally committed.
China is already planning to invest in highway and railroads, further to be developed into high-speed rail. That will connect BRI’s central China-Iran corridor – fresh from the $400 billion, 25-year strategic partnership deal soon to be signed – with the Eastern Mediterranean. Add to it the role of the port of Tartus in Syria – bearing a strong Russian naval presence. Beijing will inevitably invest in the expansion of Tartus – which is crucially linked by highway to Lebanon. The Russia-China strategic partnership will be involved in the protection of Tartus with S-300 and S-400 missile systems.
And now, with the formal normalization of ties between Israel and the UAE (which is just putting a face on what was already there), the battle that is emerging on the Eastern Mediterranean coast is becoming quite clear – the ousting of Hezbollah, pushback against Iran, and stopping the BRI from reaching the Mediterranean. And then we can add the tensions arising from Turkish adventurism in the region, Turkey being a NATO, if fickle, ally.
Given the large donations for the protests coming from Brazil from Maronite donors (a powerful bloc), the sectarian divisions in Lebanon, the Western interests, meddling and animosity toward Iran and China and the powerful lure of dollars restoring the status quo that Lebanon has had since the ‘90s, what do we think will happen, realistically?
When we look at the current directions to Lebanon’s chart, especially the midpoints, there is one that stands out, Sun/MC=Plu. Pluto rules the Lebanese 10th house (government and international prestige) and that directed midpoint to the nation’s Pluto has the following meaning: “A violent attainment of one’s aims, the desire to attain leadership by the use of force. – The realization of extraordinary and unusual plans, a tragic destiny.” That midpoint will be exact in about seven months. That direction could mean any one or a combination of the bolded points.
Added to the preceding, there are approaching directions of the Moon/Saturn/Pluto combination, described earlier, to Lebanon’s Chiron, exact in a little over a year, and in effect well before then. That indicates either a very painful period or an extreme course of healing the nation’s woes. It takes place in the nation’s 8th house, which represents death, a debt trap or transformation. The hope would be for transformation. The likelihood would be for a period of extreme suffering for the nation. But then, the Lebanese are not essentially weak, as Hezbollah has shown. The existing government, however and as it has been since independence, is weak and is in desperate need of reform.
There are other directions shown on the chart, with directions to the Sun showing helpful influences (The world does stand with Lebanon in getting past the disaster.) There is another direction in particular, three degrees (read: 3 years) behind their natal ‘revolution midpoint’, that shows the events taking place now, pointing to either the tenacity to see tremendous reforms and projects succeed, or self-destruction due to selfishness and the loss of one’s possession. In effect, we are seeing both possibilities at the same time in Lebanon as events unfold. That midpoint is Saturn/Pluto. Whatever happens there, we are probably looking at about a three-year timeline.
If the ‘reforms’ in Lebanon’s government that look to be intervening go the way the West desires, then Lebanon’s suffering will be great. There will ensue years of neoliberal economic policy, such as radical slashing of public expenses, mass layoffs, across the board privatization and so forth. More protests would ensue, more massive and more violent.
The scene is set, regardless of how the port blast occurred. The Lebanese must unite if they are to survive as a functioning nation and act independently of any foreign influence. That road would be exceedingly difficult given the present system in place, its entrenchment and the weight of Western influence, including the diaspora. Two probable outcomes would appear to be clear:
- The Lebanese choose to keep their present system, in which case the conditions insisted upon by the West are in place – the disarming of Hezbollah, or the balkanization of Lebanon into zones of influence, with an armed Hezbollah in the south on Israel’s border and the northern half of the country undergoing its rapid decay under neoliberalism. Such a future will only lead to more protests in the north and ongoing skirmishes with Israel in the south.
- The Lebanese unite and act independently of the West. The nations to the East would be more than willing to help. The West would constantly seek to disrupt the process and heavy sanctions would likely be placed on the nation, with a concerted propaganda campaign highlighting and magnifying every incident of unrest, the ‘evils’ of Russia and China and attacking the Lebanese ‘regime’.
The Lebanese chose a revolutionary path in 2017, starting with the port. The damage to the port will be quickly rebuilt. The working part of the port still stands. Lebanon is yet another test case of the demise of the neoliberal economic order and the increasing allure of the East. Lebanon may have many characteristics of and a strong footprint in the West, but its culture is Asian and increasingly Muslim.
The blast at the port on 4 August this year has presented the Lebanese with an existential choice. Its soul path is the pursuit of excellence and independence, represented in the nation’s Capricorn rising. But to do that, the old structure, also represented in Capricorn, must die out and give way. It is in process anyway, starting in earnest in January and cemented in the COVID crisis. The neoliberal system cannot maintain itself. It is collapsing throughout the West. To take the IMF loans and donations will only enable Lebanon’s infrastructure to be quickly sold off at fire sale (not to make a pun) prices.
The trials of Lebanon are great and will continue for yet a while. But so, too, the opportunity is great should the Lebanese choose to go that route. May freedom come to that ancient land and people sooner rather than later.
Featured pic from BBC