Stability, not war, is answer to Lebanon's problems

Neither Lebanon nor the world wants a new round of destruction and war; instead Lebanon needs stability and economic growth now more than ever before.



By Christiane Waked (Wide Angle)

Published: Wed 28 Mar 2018, 10:24 PM

Last updated: Thu 29 Mar 2018, 12:30 AM

Despite alarming articles such as the one published by Dr Mara Karlin, US Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategy and Force Development, that a "war between Israel and Hezbollah is almost inevitable", Lebanon seems to be the most secure country in the region.
Researchers like Elliott Abrams and Zachary Shapiro who work on Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, too, have warned in an article in Politico Magazine on March 15 that thousands of Americans could be stuck in a war in Lebanon. However, such arguments have no solid roots. The duo even stated that the US is not prepared for this eventuality.
The influx of refugees to Lebanon peaked this year (almost two million from Syria and Iraq alone) and is still on the rise. These refugees, while considered a burden for some Lebanese, are actually a shield that prevents a war from happening in this small country. The western world has invested significantly to keep these refugees away from their country and retain them in Lebanon.
Two important conferences were held recently in favour of Lebanon - in Rome and Paris. The Rome II conference held on March 15 sought to find means to back Lebanon's military and security forces and was attended by around 40 countries and regional bodies. Important financial commitments were made by several countries, including the United Kingdom which is expected to announce an 'eight figure pledge'.
The Lebanon investment programme which will be discussed in April at the Paris IV conference, also known as the Cedar Conference, is valued at around $17 billion. The attendees are expected to make commitments to bolster the infrastructure and the Lebanese economy that is burdened by refugee population.
Recently the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged Lebanon to implement reforms ahead of Paris IV conference. In its latest report concerning Lebanon, the IMF warned that Lebanon's economic situation is alarming and remains challenging as a result of slow GDP growth and rising public debt.
A war with Hezbollah now would spell disaster not only for Lebanon but also on a regional and international level. Neither Lebanon nor the world wants a new round of destruction and war; instead Lebanon needs stability and economic growth now more than ever.
Iran recently made budget cuts on Hezbollah after having lost around 2,000 fighters in Syria excluding those disabled and the seriously wounded. Israel, on the other hand, is well aware that it will pay a high price if it engages in war with Hezbollah.
Israel has realised that the Hezbollah is no longer a serious threat and that Lebanon is gradually acquiring the status of a responsible sovereign state. With the Lebanese parliament elections during the first week of May, it is felt that an attack on Hezbollah will only raise its popularity.
It is time Israel realised that it has more to gain by proclaiming peace, instead of declaring war with Hezbollah.
Christiane Waked is a Risk analyst. She is the former Press Attaché of the French Embassy to the UAE, and has worked as linguist and analyst in the French Interior Ministry.


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