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Saturday, July 24, 2021

‘Moment of truth’ is approaching crisis-hit Lebanon

The little girl, wearing a red Mickey and Minnie Mouse T-shirt, stood firm. “The rulers of this country are all bullshit,” he said angrily, and “he should resign; if someone from another country comes to rule us,” he told the host of a talk show on Lebanon’s MTV channel That would be better.”

“We can’t get anything. There’s no medicine, no internet, no fuel,” she said.

The audience applauded. The host sighed.

Since Marita Derze’s announcements on July 15, the plight of her small Mediterranean country has only worsened, and while the youth’s comments may reflect the views of her parents more than her own, they seem out of place in that country. There is no one who is losing patience with the everyday struggle just to make ends meet.

The Lebanese pound is now trading at $22,000 per dollar on the black market, about 15 times the official rate of 1,500. The government is running out of hard currency to subsidize key products, drugs and gas, and the most common sights in the country are miles of ill-tempered motorists waiting to fill up tanks. Hospital operators say that their medicine is running out.

Lebanon’s PM-nominated steps down after months of standoff

A deepening political crisis has left Lebanon without a government for nine months, even as they face an unprecedented economic downturn

free fall

The World Bank has dubbed Lebanon’s economic free fall, which saw the country’s currency lose 95% of its value against major foreign currencies since 2019, one of the world’s worst financial crises in more than 150 years. is one.

A recent report said, “The Lebanese financial and economic crisis is likely to rank in the top 10, possibly the top three, most severe crisis episodes globally since the mid-19th century.” And it largely blames the country’s sectarian political elite for the slow-motion crisis.

“This reflects the magnitude of the country’s economic slowdown, which, given the disastrous deliberate policy inaction, has no clear turning point on the horizon,” the bank said. It warned, “The social impact of the crisis, which is already dire, could become increasingly disastrous.”

Ordinary Lebanese households have seen a decline in their purchasing power and are desperate.

And more than half the population is now living below the poverty line, with the Crisis Observatory at the American University of Beirut reporting this week that families only need to spend about five times the minimum wage to keep enough food on the table, from paying No matter for utilities, gas and hard-to-find medicine.

Gas, electricity, medicine in short supply in Lebanon

Analysts say parallel devastation hit Lebanon even when there was no government

The observatory, set up to monitor the Lebanese crisis, said the cost of food had risen by 700% over the past two years. “In less than a month the price of a basic food basket has increased by more than 50 percent,” the observatory’s head Nasser Yasin told AFP on Wednesday.

moment of truth

An international conference, co-organized by the United Nations and France, scheduled for 4 August to discuss the crisis in Lebanon, the country’s former colonial ruler, may be the last chance to save the failed state of Lebanon from recession, the French warned the officials.

The conference coincides with the first anniversary of the devastating Beirut port explosion, which killed more than 200 people, injured nearly 6,500, and flattened part of the Lebanese capital. Many blame the Lebanese authorities for storing hundreds of tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate at the port, which ignites.

“The moment of truth is fast approaching,” a senior French foreign ministry official told VOA. “Politicians do or do not reform; Until they do, there’s not much we can do to help draw the abyss,” he said. French officials are particularly concerned about the stability of the Lebanese military, a key state institution that is being relied upon to maintain security and law and order in a country on the verge of social explosion and collapse.

Earlier this week Lebanese military commanders warned of rising turmoil in the wake of last week’s resignation as the designated prime minister of Sunni Muslim centrist Saad Hariri. “The army is a deterrent to chaos,” said General Joseph Aun to his soldiers.

Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri leaves the cabinet formation after meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun at Rashtrapati Bhavan on July 15, 2021 in Babada, Lebanon.

According to General Yusuf Haddad, the Lebanese armed forces are in need of an immediate injection of $100 million to meet the basic needs of their soldiers. He has publicly warned that the country’s armed forces will be in a “critical situation” by September and that “if the forces fall, Lebanon will be lost.”

France, the US and Saudi Arabia have marked the country’s armed forces as the premier institution to defend. Earlier in July in Riyadh, his diplomats discussed subsidizing the Lebanese military with monthly allowances for 80,000 soldiers and officers, Western and Arab diplomats say. The average salary of a soldier was about $800 a month before the economic crisis, now it is about $80.

Diplomats and analysts say the country’s brutal civil war of 1975-1990 shows danger if the military falters. Former Italian diplomat Marco Carnelos says Lebanon is already a failed state. “But there’s always more downside, and Lebanon is going to be there,” he wrote in a commentary for the Middle East Eye news site, “when will the world step up?”

He complains: “No Western power other than France has yet given Lebanon the attention it deserves.” US diplomats say the Biden administration also deserves credit for trying to focus the international community more on Lebanon and has warned of the danger of not only a growing humanitarian crisis in the country but serious regional consequences.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken added his voice to widespread disappointment over the resignation of Saad Hariri, who said he was abandoning his efforts to form a government nine months after accepting the challenge because of a political dispute between Lebanese factions. Were. Hariri, 51, who has previously served as prime minister twice, is accused of obstructing Lebanese President Michel Aoun, an ally of the radical Shiite movement Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran.

“Lebanon’s political class has ruined the past nine months,” Blinken complained in a statement. “The Lebanese economy is in free fall and the current government is not providing basic services in a reliable manner.” “It is important that a committed and competent government is formed to implement priority reforms,” ​​he said.

“Lebanon is days away from a social explosion,” Acting Prime Minister Hassan Diab told foreign diplomats last week.

International donors pledge emergency aid for Lebanon’s struggling military

The aim of the meeting is to shore up the premier institution amid the macroeconomic crisis

But like France and other international donors, the Biden administration is conditioning support for Lebanon’s IMF bailout on the formation of a pro-reform government and the implementation of financial and economic changes. He says that without him the state will continue to move towards failure.

Western diplomats say the August 4 conference in Paris will focus on two key areas: how to use both carrots and sticks to appease the country’s political elite to agree on reforms, and if it will. fails, how to reduce humanitarian crisis and maintain stability. of the country’s armed forces.

This report contains information from AFP.

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Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
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