Bahaa Hariri’s Sawa Li Lubnan to launch 2022 electoral roll

Sawa Li Lubnan, a political organization funded solely by Lebanese billionaire Bahaa Hariri, will present its own electoral roll in the Lebanese elections in March 2022.

Bahaa Hariri insisted he didn’t want to be prime minister, but said he was “more than happy” to show leadership [Getty]

Sawa Li Lubnan, a political organization funded solely by Lebanese billionaire Bahaa Hariri, will present its own electoral roll in the Lebanese elections in March 2022.

The organization will support candidates who “believe in change” and present its own candidates in constituencies where it sees no viable one standing.

The two will run under a “Sawa-backed list,” said Said Sanadaki, executive director of Sawa Li Lubnan. The New Arabic. He declined to name specific candidates, saying it was too early to do so.

Sawa, whose name means “Together for Lebanon”, was founded in May to “eliminate corruption and ensure economic prosperity”. Since its founding, it has mainly focused on charitable initiatives, such as distributing food and providing mammograms.

The purpose of these aid programs is to provide services that should be provided by the state, Hariri said. The New Arabic.

“Electricity is not a favor, water is not a favor – it is something that must be provided by the government. This is not something you need to go to the chieftain [to get]”Hariri said.

The organization, which has 10 offices across Lebanon and is headquartered in Hariri’s former office in downtown Beirut, is well funded. Over the past few weeks, more than 1,400 billboards and billboards have been erected along the main streets and highways of Lebanon bearing slogans such as “the future is in your hands”.

Hariri and Sanadaki both refused to disclose Sawa’s budget, but Sanadaki said they would pay “whatever it takes” for the group’s efforts to be successful.

Over the past year, Sawa has also worked with the CT Group, an Australian political consultancy firm that has led political campaigns across the world, including the UK and Australia. Groupe CT helped the group plan its strategy and shape its organizational structure.

Sawa positioned himself in the midst of the October 17 revolution, when millions of Lebanese took to the streets in 2019 to demand an end to the country’s endemic corruption.

“We are not here to deal with those who come to terms with the current configuration, which is what has led to the total failure of Lebanon today. I want to put an end to this sectarian conception which does not serve the people, ”Hariri said.

Despite funding Sawa and having his seat in his office, Hariri denied that he was running for political office. “I don’t intend to be prime minister – we are trying to promote a system, not a person,” he said.

He further added that he recused himself from making the decision in Sawa, explaining that he had no say in the candidates behind whom the organization weighed.

“There is nothing wrong with leading. I don’t want to be, but if I can show some leadership then fine, I’m more than happy and willing to do it, ”Hariri said.

Who is Bahaa al-Hariri?

Bahaa al-Hariri is the son of the late Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, who was assassinated in a bomb attack in Beirut in 2005, and the older brother of triple Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Since Rafiq’s assassination, there has been a division of labor between Saad and Bahaa, the former dealing with their father’s political legacy and the latter with his business empire.

After the revolution of October 17, Bahaa reappeared on the political scene, criticize the entire political establishment, including his brother Saad. Since then, Bahaa has continued to criticize the elite to which his brother belongs.

Despite belonging to the Hariri dynasty, which has dominated Lebanese politics on and off for the past 16 years, Bahaa is still a dark horse candidate. He has not visited Lebanon for 11 years and spends most of his time between London and Paris.

“He doesn’t have a history. He has a political appetite aroused by the failures of his brother and the total collapse we have in Lebanon, ”said Sami Moubayed, political scientist and historian specializing in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. The New Arabic.

Saad’s declining political fortune could also have created an opening for his older brother.

Saad’s failure to get Lebanon out of its mainstream and his inability to form a government damaged his status as the undisputed leader of the Sunni constituency of Lebanon.

“Bahaa knows better than anyone that his brother has no more money to buy his loyalty. For a population that suffers so much in a cash-strapped economy, it could be a breath of fresh air, ”Moubayed said.

Calling Lebanon’s Sunni community the “800-pound gorilla in the room,” Bahaa said the group must come together around one direction. He added that Sawa is “comfortable” with his positioning within the Sunni community.

“I am against sectarians[ism], but they have their share of power and you cannot ignore them, ”he said.

Saad’s status as a Riyadh man in Beirut is also a thing of the past, after he failed to resist the powerful Shiite political movement, Hezbollah, as Saudi Arabia wanted. Although initially a staunch opponent of Hezbollah, Saad eventually softened his stance in order to lead a government that included the militant group backed by Iran.

On the other hand, Bahaa did not hesitate to criticize Hezbollah. He cited the recent Iraqi elections, where pro-Iranian groups performed poorly, as evidence that the region’s geopolitics have moved away from Iran’s favor.

“Saudi Arabia is ready to engage with [Bahaa] because he is looking for alternatives to Saad, ”said Moubayed.

Over the past month, Saudi Arabia and many other Gulf countries recalled their ambassadors to Lebanon following statements by Information Minister George Kordahi expressing support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

“The question is, has Saudi Arabia decided to distance itself completely from Lebanon, allowing the country to collapse? Or do they just distance themselves while waiting to find a suitable candidate they can lean on? Is this conditional on finding a new Sunni ally? said Moubayed.

Elections in five months

Acknowledging that Sawa is “late” for the 2022 elections, Sanadiki insisted that the political group has long-term goals in Lebanon beyond the elections alone. Hariri, for his part, said the election was the first of a thousand pages.

The next elected parliament is important, however, as it will appoint the new president of Lebanon. “Yes [Bahaa Hariri] wants to have his say in the next five years, he must be in parliament, ”explained Moubayed.

In addition, the 2022 elections are the first to be held since the October Revolution. The outcome of the upcoming elections will determine whether Lebanon’s traditional sectarian political parties still maintain their grip on the country, despite the ongoing collapse of its economic and political system.

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