JERUSALEM, Israel – Lebanon, once known as the Switzerland of the Middle East, is now on the brink of economic and political collapse. It is an event that could have dire consequences for Israel and the region.
Recently, Lebanese demonstrators blocked the main road leading to Beirut airport to protest the appalling conditions inside their country.
“Everyone is hungry, nobody has anything to eat, nobody can do anything, there is no electricity in the houses, the children need milk and nobody can afford to buy it. . This is why we are here, “said one protester. Ali Sweid said.
It is the worst crisis in Lebanon in decades. The Lebanese have to queue for hours to get fuel if it is available. Power cuts occur on a daily basis and many hospitals do not have enough medicine. The currency crisis is so severe that one US dollar is equivalent to about 15,000 Lebanese pounds, ten times what it used to be, and the national debt is 150% of its GDP. The country has not had a functioning government for months.
Hassan Diab, the acting Prime Minister of Lebanon, made a desperate appeal to the countries of the Middle East, the UN and the international community.
“To help save the Lebanese from death and prevent Lebanon from disappearing,” Diab said. “Lebanon is a few days away from the social explosion. The Lebanese are alone in the face of this dark fate.”
Lebanese expert Orna Mizrahi says political unrest, economic corruption, Hezbollah and COVID have created the current crisis. She puts the main blame on a dysfunctional political class.
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“We have a very wealthy elite of all the sects that they combine, there is a combination of money and control, political control and money and they are doing nothing to help their own people. They are deteriorating day by day until the situation we have now, ”she told CBN News.
Hezbollah and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, are the dominant power in the country with the most powerful army. Nasrallah wants Lebanon to avoid the West and look to Iran for help saving Lebanon.
Lebanon is still grappling with the catastrophic explosion in Beirut last August and the devastating impact of COVID on the country has helped bring Lebanon to the brink.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz recently offered to send humanitarian aid through the UN, but Lebanon is unlikely to accept the offer.
Israel and the region now face the worst-case scenario – when Lebanon falls into Iran’s hands.
Mizrahi warns that without the West’s help, Lebanon could become like Syria, a state now under Iranian influence. If Lebanon falls into the hands of the Islamic Republic, it could change the face of the Middle East.
* Originally published 7/8/2021