Head of the Lebanese Kataeb party MP Sami Gemayel warned that the ruling class was leading Lebanon to the brink of collapse, warning that officials were not lifting a finger to rectify the situation.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, he blamed the political settlement, which led to the election of Michel Aoun as president in 2016, for leading Lebanon to its current “catastrophic” state of affairs.
He held his former allies, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, for the current situation in Lebanon because they were part of the “disastrous” settlement.
The settlement, added Gemayel, allowed Hezbollah to take control of Lebanon.
“The current political class is covering for Hezbollah and is implementing the party’s policies, whether in defending it at international arenas or justifying its internal policies,” he continued.
“We believe that a government which is clearly controlled by Hezbollah must not be granted confidence,” he remarked.
In such a government, he explained, the party dictates its strategic decisions, allows illicit deals to be struck over economic affairs and holds direct sway over defense and foreign affairs.
The Kataeb party did not grant confidence to such a government, which was formed by a settlement that effectively gave power to Hezbollah and embroiled Lebanon in regional conflicts against the people’s will, said Gemayel.
“Some people do not want to admit to this reality. The truth is very clear. For the first time in Lebanon’s history, the president of the republic is not invited to visit the United States, any of the Arab states and any other country,” he noted. This is dangerous as it reveals that Lebanon has become a side in an ongoing conflict.
“When the government remains silent over every challenge from Lebanese territory against Arab or foreign countries and all of Lebanon’s historic friends, then this means that this government is complicit,” the MP remarked.
“We should no longer remain silent over such practices,” he demanded.
This is only the political aspect, he said. “We haven’t even started to discuss the massive failure on the economic and financial levels.”
“In the past, Lebanon could rely on aid and markets that would be opened for us. Now, we have to deal with sanctions, restrictions and unusual cash flows because Lebanon is being used to smuggle fuel to Syria,” he stated.
“Everyone must be held to account for this reality,” he stressed.
He therefore demanded that the government no longer be labeled as “national unity”, adding that all of its members who oppose its policies must resign.
“Remaining in power means that they are wronging the country and people,” the MP said without naming any names.
Gemayel proposed a Kataeb “roadmap” to amend the situation in Lebanon. He demanded that officials must first acknowledge their shortcomings and resign. This should be followed with the formation of a government of experts who can implement the reforms that the current government is unable to carry out.
This starts with fist controlling Lebanon’s land, sea and air borders. All illegal crossings must be shut to end smuggling.
The second step, he said, calls for ridding public institutions of all “fake positions” that are the greatest burden on the economy and finances. He explained that tens of thousands of people are registered as employees and earn salaries without even heading to work.
The electricity sector is another massive drain on the economy. Officials have not been able to resolve this issue for over 20 years because they are abusing the sector for their own personal enrichment, charged Gemayel.
The problem in Lebanon is that officials know what must be done, but they are not lifting a finger, he stated. “We have also lost friends who used to stand by our side after some parties insulted and threatened them. The irony is that they want to challenge and threaten the world and then ask it for help and money,” he noted.
“We have reached the edge of the abyss and no one has yet to slam on the brakes,” he warned. They speak of reform, but instead of implementing them, they are now blaming each other.
“We have no choice but to either carry out reform or resign and leave this responsibility for people who are serious about their work,” he stated.