ANALYSIS: Lebanon is teetering on the brink

Neither Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah nor Lebanese President Michel Aoun care about restoring Lebanon to its once-respected status.

Yochanan VIsser ,

Anti-government protests in Beirut, Lebanon
Anti-government protests in Beirut, Lebanon
Reuters

Lebanon is once again teetering on the brink and is coping with a huge crisis that threatens to starve roughly half of its population.

The Coronacrisis exacerbated the already huge economic and financial crisis in Lebanon and recently many people have been forced to cease buying food essentials such as vegetables and fruits, as well as meat.

In Lebanon, fifty percent of the people earn as much as the top elite of 0.1 percent while the top ten list earns 60 percent of the income, making the country one of the most unequal societies in the world.

The country now even faces a major food crisis after it could not pay imports anymore as dollar reserves dried up. Prime Minister Hassan Diab has asked the International Monetary Fund for a $10 billion aid package that partly will be used to install economic reforms and implement an overhaul of the banking system that is steeped in losses.

The Lebanese pound recently collapsed, causing food prices to double and this caused new unrest with protesters burning banks in several Lebanese cities.

The unprecedented crisis motivated Lebanese journalist Nadim Koteich to stand up for the truth and to give an interview to LBC television, a Lebanese TV station, in which he compared his country to Israel.

What has become of Lebanon is the fault of the Lebanese government, Koteich said with President Michel Aoun as the main culprit, according to the Lebanese journalist.

Neither Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah nor Lebanese President Michel Aoun are the answer to restore Lebanon to its once-respected status in the international community Koteich claimed.

He said that nobody Michel Aoun had appointed to important positions had remained “normal”.

“Aounism is not a political phenomenon. It's a disease. There is a mental illness called Aounism in Lebanon," Koteich fumed in reference to Aoun’s policies.

The Lebanese journalist then compared his country to Israel and heaped praise on the Jewish state for its handling of the economy and the Coronacrisis which Israel now has under control.

Ridiculing Hezbollah’s propaganda over Israel, Koteich said that Israelis are ten times more productive than their Lebanese neighbors.

When his female Lebanese interviewer reminded Koteich that Israel gets international support, he retorted that Lebanon “used to get international support as well. We used to be a respected country."

“In the 1960s, Israel was a silly little country, and we were a respected country," Koteich added.

His interviewer then doubled down on Koteich and told him that people wouldn’t like his praise for Israel.

Koteich wasn’t intimidated and replied “ (those people) never like anything. Israel has important shows on Netflix. This is soft power. But we are talking about a scientific power, an economic power, a cultural power and a military power.”

He concluded the interview by saying the Lebanese people should do some soul searching and ask themself how they had gotten into this mess.

Lebanon has indeed been in decline since the Second Lebanon War now almost 14 years ago.

The financial crisis in 2008 changed Lebanon’s status as a hub for tourism, trade and financial business, with several market monopolies controlling the economy.

The country basically exported nothing except for services and paid for imports by encouraging foreign investment in the country. Lebanon had a negative trade balance of 30 percent of GDP and allowed the Central Bank to build up huge foreign currency reserves.

The policy made the Lebanese economy vulnerable to external shocks such as the Corona crisis and the so-called Arab Spring, the uprisings against dictatorial regimes in Arab countries.

The rise of Hezbollah in the Lebanese political arena made things much worse. For this reason last year’s political unrest slowly became directed at the Iranian-backed Shiite terror group.

Hezbollah is the dominant force in Lebanon and did nothing to improve the lives of the Lebanese people because it is pre-occupied with Israel’s destruction.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah again showed off his obsession with Israel when he last week held a speech in honor of the Iran-founded Quds (Jerusalem) Day, an annual hate fest directed at Israel and Jews.

"The establishment of this virus of an entity, this cancerous tumor amidst our umma (Islamic Nation)," said Nasrallah in reference to Israel’s Independence declaration in 1948.

“Palestine from river to sea must be liberated. Israel has no legitimacy to exist at all and must be destroyed," the Hezbollah leader told his audience.

“Resistance (Terror)” was the only way to achieve the “liberation of Palestine” through the Iranian “Resistance Axis” which includes according to Nasrallah “Syria, Palestine, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Lebanon.”

"Anyone who thinks they can change this position through sanctions or pressure is mistaken and must despair of their attempts to do so," the Hezbollah leader said.

Nasrallah had nothing to say about the huge crisis in his own country and remained mum on the looming bread crisis.

“Once the breadbasket of the Eastern Mediterranean, Lebanon is facing a dramatic challenge that seemed unimaginable a decade ago: the risk of a major food crisis,” Diab wrote in a desperate op-ed for The Washington Post.

He was referring to the fact that Lebanon now imports almost all its grain from Russia and Ukraine, but these countries have reduced or halted their grain exports to Lebanon due to the COVID-19 crisis - which is also exacerbating in the plagued country.



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