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Lebanon is Sinking!

Lebanon is Sinking!

Thursday, 24 June, 2021 - 10:45

Recently, we have seen stances and developments successively emerge that indicate an international willingness to provide support for a plan to get Lebanon out of the pit it has been pushed into if the political class were to demonstrate that it had been taking any sort of course towards serious decisions… All initiatives were met with total disregard, an unprecedented insistence of turning their back toward them, and a refusal to make any pledges regarding the implementation of reforms, even those that successive Lebanese governments had committed to. This state of affairs explains why the World Bank says, in its latest report on Lebanon, that there is “political consensus in defense of a bankrupt economic system, which benefited a few for so long” faced with a “lack of political consensus over effective policy initiatives.”

European Union Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, who visited Beirut recently, waving the carrot of aid and the stick of sanctions against the corrupt obstructionists, was astounded by the positions and “concerns” of officials disregarding their responsibility to start putting out the fire. From his podium at the Presidential Palace, he repudiated all the justifications for the horrific decline, stressing that the reasons for the collapse are domestic and refuting claims that Syrian refugees are responsible for Lebanon’s crises.

The fears expressed by the British paper, The Daily Telegraph, did not induce any reaction, though it pointed to the dangers of the “devastating collapse” which “will inevitably lead to the collapse of all state institutions, including the Lebanese Armed Forces, the backbone of the country.” It also said that the army is “fighting to continue to feed its soldiers so that it can work to prevent the county’s total collapse.”

The revelations of the French daily, Le Point, raised apprehensions and fears when it explained that the investigations into Riad Salameh’s wealth and its sources could have allowed for further revelations regarding the fortunes of many Lebanese politicians. However, it was held off after the predictable panic, making it seem like those accused of the crimes are relaxed about the outcome of the investigations into their money laundering!

What is certain is that all the officials who have taken office over the last three decades, regardless of whether some have taken part for only 16 years- not a short period- are participants in the afflictions that have befallen all facets of life in Lebanon. All of them are accomplices in covering up a criminal approach to governance, the consequences of which are the disintegration of authority and the withering away of institutions whose efficiency has fallen below the lowest standard. This is the partnership among the big seven, the first of whom is Hezbollah, whose ascendance had been supported by the Syrian regime that was occupying in the early nineties until 2005 when Hezbollah took the mantle. It is an ideal method for consolidating external control and was never an approach for building and developing the country after it had emerged from a devastating civil war. Instead, it is a meticulously planned and studied partnership busy with seizing public and private money. Thus, all parties to this partnership bear responsibility for this policy’s repercussions!

They were partners in “unity governments” that drafted dodgy budgets approved by parliament. Each side got its share, and then some, from a system they built that distributes spoils according to sectarian quotas. For this reason, they are all responsible for the most dangerous decision, which is preventing any reform from being implemented, the legalization of smuggling, which is draining what is left of our financial capacities. This is a “geo-strategic” decision that stipulates a transfer of wealth from Lebanon to the Syrian regime and its militias, and of course, funding is primarily provided by the state!

Otherwise, how could convoys of dozens of tankers and trucks cross the Lebanese borders openly, in broad daylight and defiance of the Caesar Act, without the objection of any party from within the political system while people are getting “worn out” in queues of cars facing gas stations and as medicine becomes increasingly scarce at pharmacies. In the midst of all of this, the economy ministry announces: “From now on, we can no longer determine the price of bread!” And to make the matter clear, since October 17, about 18 months ago, around $7.5 billion a year were spent on subsidized goods from fuel, flour to medicines, with a total of up to $8 billion during the entire period, with 50 percent of this money spent on smuggled goods!

This disastrous trend has a mother, a father, and a lineage. It is absurd that President Aoun, after nearly five years in the palace, is trying to absolve himself of responsibility for the monetary, financial, economic, and social situation. It has become untenable to cover up the role and responsibility of the head of state and Basil’s team for the approach of imposing subordination to the axis of resistance, which covered up the violations, on Lebanon... It suffices to examine losses incurred by the ministry of energy, which was transformed into a private farm over the past 12 years, bringing total darkness upon the country after having increased the public debt by around $48 billion. And they are satisfied with singing the tune that they had other plans, but others “don’t let them work!”

All those who have visited Lebanon are aware that what unites all parties is adherence to positions in power, and everyone seeks to increase his share and role. What the visitors found out is that in contrast to the total lack of interest in the situation in Lebanon and the catastrophic living conditions, what is striking is the open struggle over the presidency, while “Lebanon is sinking,” as the World Bank put it in the title of their report describing the country’s perilous state situation that endangers its existence. Of course, all of this is happening amid an ongoing push to turn Lebanon into one of the regions that the mullah regime wants to be subordinated by “Greater Iran”!

In this context, we can reflect on the dangerous step taken by Gebran Bassil, who said he wanted the help of a “friend, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah,” adding: “I want him to be the arbiter and the one responsible for handling the issue of rights!” - referring to the Christians' rights that Basil and those behind him claim to defend, and now he has delegated the mission to Nasrallah! In other words, he rejects the constitution, which protects and safeguards the rights of all Lebanese, to declare that he accepts to go along with what Hezbollah decides is best! To put it differently, Bassil, on behalf of his team and the President of the Republic, rushed to put the decision in Nasrallah’s hands, in a dangerous repeat of the Mar Mikhael agreement, which stipulated the former providing cover for the party’s illegal weapons and statelet in exchange for the presidency!

That is, handing the country to Hezbollah, which is using Lebanon as a mere card that can be dealt by the Iranian negotiators in Vienna, in return for its eventual endorsement of his presidential bid and, before that, its support in the parliamentary elections after the Patriotic Movement declined and support for it plummeted according to every poll and study measuring the voters’ views.

The entire Lebanese political class certainly shares part of the responsibility for the ongoing crimes that are intentionally being perpetrated and have imposed subordination on Lebanon. However, the most dangerous recent development came from the palace “entrusted” with safeguarding the constitution. And it is no coincidence that it coincided with the arrival of Ebrahim Raisi, among the hardline of the Iranian presidential candidates, at the helm. It is a step meant to ensure the political future of Basil, who is sanctioned internationally and internally but always ready to make any concession and leave Lebanon to incur whatever cost so long as he becomes president!

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