The founding president of the Lebanese National Peace Party analyzes the country’s current economic crisis

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Talking to Eddé Roger, Lebanese politician and thinker, founding president of the Assalam Party, the Lebanese National Peace Party argues that “We are walking on the edge of a precipice. We have to aid, support, and encourage the Lebanese people, but at the same time not give the impression that we want to establish a new protectorate, which would be completely stupid,” Eddé Roger said. Eat News explores the Lebanese crisis to talk about the French initiative that couldn’t be failed.

According to Roger Eddeh, France’s ties with Lebanon reach back at least to the 16th century, when the French monarchy negotiated with Ottoman rulers to protect Christians and secure influence in the region. By the time of the 1920-1946 French mandate, Lebanon already had a network of French schools and French speakers that survives to this day along with France’s cozy relationships with Lebanon’s power brokers, including some accused of fueling its political and economic crisis, Roger Eddeh said.

Moreover, Most parts of Lebanon are receiving no more than two or three hours of electricity a day. An incoming flight at Beirut’s airport had to abort a landing this month because the runway lights went out. The traffic signals in the capital have stopped working, adding to the congestion on Beirut’s already chaotic streets.

These are among the latest symptoms of an economic implosion that is accelerating at an alarming pace in Lebanon as its government, its banks, and its citizens run out of foreign currency simultaneously.

The collapse is the result of decades of economic mismanagement, corruption, and overspending. Hopes for rescue are fading as the country’s ruling elites balk at the kind of reforms and outside scrutiny that would unlock international aid. Talks with the International Monetary Fund to secure a $10 billion loan have stalled. Known as an oasis of prosperity and relative stability during the past decade of Middle East turmoil, Lebanon descends into poverty, despair, and potential chaos. Economists now predict a Venezuela-style collapse, with acute shortages of essential products and services, runaway inflation, and rising lawlessness in a country at the heart of an already unstable region.

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Since October, the Lebanese pound has lost over 60 percent of its value in just the past month and 80 percent of its value. Prices are soaring, and goods were disappearing.

Bread, a staple of the Lebanese diet, is in short supply because the government can’t fund wheat imports. Essential medicines are disappearing from pharmacies. Hospitals are laying off staff because the government isn’t paying its portion and canceling surgeries because they don’t have electricity or the fuel to operate generators, Roger Eddeh said.

Lebanon is no longer on the brink of collapse. The economy of Lebanon has collapsed. The Lebanese model established since the end of the civil war in 1990 has failed. It was a house of glass, and it has shattered beyond any hope of return, Roger Eddeh said.

Due to all these factors, the Lebanese citizen is living a tragedy and a magnitude of prejudice unprecedented in his history due to this authority’s negligence and corruption. The French rescue initiative was launched to save Lebanon from the possibility of extinction, according to French Foreign Minister Yves Le Drian. This French initiative addresses a package of obstacles represented by the US-Iranian negotiations and regional developments, whether or in the Mediterranean basin, against the backdrop of Turkish-Egyptian rapprochement, Roger Eddeh said.

President Macron’s visit to Beirut right after the devastating explosion of Beirut’s Port made him the most famous World Leader for the distressed Lebanese; that he felt overwhelmed and decided to attempt to Save Lebanon through a bold initiative to promote a Government of Reforms, acceptable to the donors and the IMF. That was the 4th of August 2020. Nothing has happened since.

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In the meantime, Lebanon lost 20 B$ of her vital, last reserves! That’s twice the amount promised by the donors at the Cedar Conference of Paris in 2018.

The donors were prepared to lend a hand to save Lebanon from a total financial and social collapse, provided that none of the governing mediocracies will be represented. That means a government without Hezbollah, providing a face-saving argument to get donors’ help, especially from the international community and the Gulf Countries, Roger Eddeh said.

That was asking the impossible from the governing, corrupt mediocracy, fearsome of accountability!

For excluding Hezbollah, Macron relied on Tehran’s goodwill toward France that kept trying to reconcile Iran’s Regime with the European community.

The election of Biden made Macron’s goodwill less relevant to Iran.

Today Iran is less likely than ever to cooperate, especially after Israel’s recent attack on Natanz, while the US Secretary of Defense was spending 48 hours in Israel, Roger Eddeh said.

Iran’s a big deal with China makes it as confident as North Korea to enjoy China’s protection for isolation. Becoming a Chinese client state makes Iran’s Regime feel safe in the foreseeable future while developing its nuclear and missile capabilities, roger Eddeh said.

The Regime wasn’t interested in negotiating a new and more comprehensive deal, covering the nuclear file and exporting its regional powerhouse, anyway!

As for any new government, the chances of success in saving Lebanon from its doomed economic meltdown are less than ever! Neither PM Saad Hariri nor President Aoun is convinced that they can do anything with a new government. “I suspect that they agree to disagree! Each can reinforce his fading popularity nationally and internationally by resisting the other’s demands, playing the traditional sectarian card,” Roger Eddeh said.

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Ornella Sukkar is a Lebanese journalist specialized in Arab-Islamic and radicalization studies from an oriental perspective and international affaires.


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