After nearly nine months of feuds between ruling parties in Lebanon over government shares as the country’s economy and the lives of its people fell into disrepair, Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri declared his decision to step down after failing to form a new government.
Saad is the son of the former Prime Minister and billionaire Rafic Hariri, assassinated in 2005, and who was the architect of the country’s catastrophic economic and financial system.
It would have been Saad’s third term as prime minister: he stepped down under pressure from mass protests in 2019 and has already failed his post twice.
Saad also failed at the head of private companies inherited from his late father. Like the banks that hold the money of countless people in Lebanon, Saad had previously failed to pay his employees what was owed to them. But he is not the only incompetent leader among the parties that have run the country and have overseen the looting of its wealth for decades.
Last week, Lebanon’s Acting Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced the country’s impending “social explosion” to ambassadors from various nations. In a stern voice, he begged “kings and princes, presidents and rulers” of other countries to donate money to Lebanon so that the disaster would be avoided. The man at the top of the country’s executive power, however, has not told the ambassadors and his own people how exactly he will use the potential donations to avoid the planned explosion.
A real explosion occurred almost a year ago, when tons of ammonium nitrate inadvertently stored in the port of Beirut exploded and destroyed much of the Lebanese capital, killing hundreds of people and injuring thousands. The families of those killed, as well as the rest of the population, have demanded answers, justice and accountability. The only response from Parliament and the Interior Ministry was to refuse to waive the immunity protecting officials summoned for questioning by the investigating judge. Instead, the families were attacked by the military and internal security as they demonstrated outside the home of the interior minister and the house of the speaker of parliament.
Relatives of victims may not get their answers. But we all know the explosion in the harbor was a symptom of a deeper disaster. There is no war in Lebanon. The country is not under siege nor has it suffered any natural disaster. Nonetheless, he faces a total collapse.
As the state sinks deeper into the financial crisis, there hasn’t even been an attempt to come up with a plan, not even a bad plan that can be criticized. The political parties bicker over what little remains and have only one strategy: begging.
The crisis is on its own. In reality, he is left to his management by elites controlling all vital sectors of the economy, banks that have profited for decades from the dysfunctional system, and a central bank governor who is under investigation for corruption. in many the government for data retention, mismanagement and having a lot of responsibility for the policies that led to the current economic disaster.
But the crisis always produces its own profiteers, and in Lebanon there is a long history of war profiteers.