It is well known that factionalism and corruption have long stood in the way of the kinds of structural reforms that Lebanon needs. But an overlooked problem is the inaction of foreign powers who could easily impose domestic changes if they had the right incentives.
OXFORD – Lebanon’s political economy is paralyzed. The country’s political leaders Won’t do engage in the kind of economic reforms he needs, because that would undermine his own power. For good reason, most of the analyzes published on Lebanon include references to problems such as Corruption and institutional decadence. But what most comments miss is the role played by external stakeholders who see little reason to push for changes to the dysfunctional status quo.
While foreign powers with interests in Lebanon often voice support for reforms, they lack the proper incentives to back up their rhetoric with concrete actions, as this would only undermine their own influence in the country. Meanwhile, the Lebanese people are suffering at the hands of an oppressive economic structure. In 2021, the country’s GDP was barely $20.5 billionup from $55 billion in 2018. With soaring poverty rates and the currency having lost 90% of its value, the economy is on the verge of collapse and a humanitarian crisis is looming.
It doesn’t have to be that way. If foreign stakeholders wanted to bring about positive change in the country, they would have many tools to do so. They could easily tie the hands of Lebanese political elites by enforcing existing laws in their home country and leveraging their influence over global financial institutions to hold Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) in Lebanon to account.
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