Lebanon needs fresh ideas for governance
People and institutions indulging in corrupt practices must be held to account
The GDP to debt ratio in Lebanon is now at 170 per cent. The local currency has lost around 80 per cent of its value in last nine months. Inflation, too, has shot through the roof because a large part of the economy depends on imports. Rising prices, especially of everyday essentials, is making survival tough for a large section of our society. Unable to manage daily affairs, a lot of people are being pushed to the edge and some even choosing death over life. Half of the population is now unemployed and can no longer afford the high cost of life in the country.
"Help us, help you," exhorted French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian to the Lebanese government during a session of questions to the government at the French Senate. Le Drian seized the opportunity to remind the Lebanese Prime Minister of his pledge to carry out a series of reforms within 'hundred days' but the ultimatum has passed since Diab's government was formed in January.
The Lebanese system has been crying for reforms for long, and now the prevailing situation due to Covid-19 has necessitated it further more.
The French need assurance from the Lebanese government before stepping up and helping the country. Commitments pledged at the Paris IV conference, also known as the Cedar Conference, to bolster the Lebanese economy, can only be realised when the Lebanese government initiates changes. Without these reforms, Lebanon will continue to sink deeper into the economic crisis.
Lebanon must audit public institutions to weed out corruption. People and institutions indulging in corrupt practices must be held to account.
Hezbollah, on the other hand, must review its strategies for the sake of the country and people. Since the US launched sanctions against the Syrian regime and its allies through the Caesar Act, Hezbollah has been mulling over ways to protect itself.
Political analyst and an expert on Iranian affairs, Raman Ghavami, recently told Khaleej Times: "As long as the Islamic Republic of Iran exists, Hezbollah's policies will be based on serving Iran rather than thinking about what is best for Lebanon"
Hezbollah is fully aware that the stakes are high and the solutions it proposes must offer solutions to people. It has called for a new agricultural and industrial approach to help decrease the commercial deficit. But the ideas suggested by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah in his last speech on July 8 are not enough.
"Nasrallah cannot expect us to become farmers. His call to the Lebanese population to turn to agriculture does not offer a pragmatic solution. Hezbollah's support to the Syrian regime and presence of armed militia are among the main reasons behind the collapse of the system," said Semaan Khawam, a Lebanese artist and activist.
Meanwhile, many Lebanese have lost faith in the country's government and they are preparing their exit. A lot of them are looking to emigrate. Will Hezbollah be able to save Lebanon for them?
Christiane Waked is a political analyst based in Beirut