Home Supporting structure Is Lebanon going to collapse completely? – opinion

Is Lebanon going to collapse completely? – opinion


Lebanese with long memories are beginning to fear that the horrors of their 15-year civil war, which began in 1975, will return. The country is divided by two major problems: the inability of the government to cope with the catastrophic economic situation and the investigation of those responsible for the massive explosion in the port of Beirut in August 2020.

As the economic crisis worsens, there is real concern that the country may fall into free fall and completely collapse. The Lebanese currency has lost over 90% of its value over the past two years and continues to depreciate. There are severe shortages of food and basic necessities, and prolonged power outages have become the norm. Beirut recently suffered 24 hour periods without electricity.

Failure of power supplies has broader implications than just inconvenience. Essential services, such as the country’s hospitals, are under threat. If the emergency persists, the vital tourism industry, already at its lowest due to COVID, can barely continue to function – and if that collapses, the entire financial system could follow the same path.

The public does not believe those in power will take effective action to remedy the situation. As The Washington Post recently pointed out: “With corruption so rampant, citizens categorically do not believe politicians’ promises to reform the system. Members of the cabinet of the new Lebanese government come from the same political class that got rich illegally – and would lose out if there were serious economic reforms.

In the explosion that rocked the city at the port of Beirut last year, 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded, killing more than 200 people. The victims of the explosion demand that those responsible be brought to justice, but public opinion is well aware that there are powerful forces at work determined to prevent the truth from emerging. The forces acting to defeat the investigation are members of Hezbollah or persons associated with this organization.

A man prepares to fire a rocket-propelled grenade during a shootout in Beirut, Lebanon, October 14, 2021. (AZIZ TAHER / REUTERS)

On October 14, Hezbollah and its political ally Amal gathered outside the courthouse in the Lebanese capital to demand the impeachment of Judge Tarek Bitar, who is investigating the how and why of the massive explosion. They claim the judge is biased against Hezbollah and its supporters. Shortly after the start of their demonstration, gunshots rang out in the streets. At least six people were killed and 32 others injured in the firefight.

The demonstration was an attempt to repeat a winning tactic. Bitar himself replaces the first member of the judiciary appointed to investigate the massive explosion, Judge Fadi Sawan.

On December 10, 2020, Sawan formally accused then-acting Prime Minister Hassan Diab and three former ministers of negligence in connection with the explosion. But Diab, who had been backed by the Hezbollah parliamentary bloc in his bid to become the prime minister-designate, refused to appear for questioning. As were two of the other former ministers. They were backed by acting Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi, described by The National, based in Abu Dhabi, as “resolutely pro-Hezbollah”. Fahmi has publicly stated that even if the judiciary issues arrest warrants, he will not ask the security forces to execute them.

President Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian and staunch supporter of Hezbollah, made no comment at the time, but in February Sawan was removed from the investigation to be replaced by Bitar, who was considered apolitical. On July 9, Bitar applied to interview the Major-General. Abbas Ibrahim, head of the powerful General Security agency. Again, Fahmi declined the request. Now the Hezbollah caucus in Lebanon has turned against Bitar.

It seems clear that the government – or at least the members who support Hezbollah – are deliberately thwarting the investigation. With two judges pointing fingers at certain ministers and officials, suspicion must arise that prominent national figures were involved in the circumstances leading up to the explosion. Indeed, in a report released on August 3, Human Rights Watch said, “The very design of the port’s management structure was developed to share power among the political elites. This has maximized opacity and allowed corruption and mismanagement to flourish.

Attempts to derail the official investigation are met with genuine popular opposition, of which the exchange of gunfire on October 14 is an obvious symptom.

So far, those involved in the shooting have not been identified. Hezbollah and Amal accused their longtime opponents, the Lebanese Christian Forces Party (FL), of being behind the attack. LF leader Samir Geagea condemned the violence, which he blamed on the widespread availability of firearms.

Yet when he was summoned by military intelligence to testify about the clashes, his lawyers claimed the summons was illegal and LF supporters blocked the roads leading to his home in the town of Maarab, in. north of the country. Geagea, who was scheduled to testify on October 27, did not show up. The blatant disregard for authority by national figures suggests a nation weakened to the point of collapse.

Given its precarious position and the dominance of Hezbollah within its establishment, no Arab country could seem further from joining the Abrahamic Accords than Lebanon. Yet, paradoxically, no Arab country could be a more suitable member. By its very constitution, Lebanon is a pluralistic state in which Christians share power with Sunni and Shia Muslims. Leadership roles in the state must, by law, be shared among them. With such a strong Abrahamic approach already entrenched in the constitution, it may seem logical for Lebanon to normalize its relations with the region’s third Abrahamic faith-based nation – its immediate neighbor to the south, Israel.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The ruling cliques, dominated by Hezbollah backed by Iran and its allies, are mired in venality, corruption and self-interest. Arab News recently warned that their refusal to put Lebanon’s interests ahead of their own could destroy the nation.

Because of Lebanon’s constitution, he writes, “no party can hope to gain power if it is unwilling to share power … Unfortunately, none of these warring factions have the wisdom and foresight to understand. that, if they continue their present course, the state they seek to monopolize will be a heap of smoking ashes.

If disaster is to be avoided, Lebanon must find a way to rid itself of the shackles that bind it to the proxy of a foreign power. The vital question is: can he shake off the oppressive rule of Hezbollah and achieve a democratic future without corruption without descending into another civil war?