Saturday, January 29, 2022

Political opponents turn down Lebanese president’s call for talks

Political opponents of Lebanese President Michel Aoun have opposed his call for a national dialogue conference on the worsening economic crisis and other issues, feeling that he may try to use it to his own and Hezbollah’s political advantage. . Meanwhile, the country’s currency has depreciated by more than 15% of its value since the start of the year, causing further misery for Lebanon in general.

Lebanon’s Christian President Michel Aoun, who provides political cover for Iran-backed Shia Hezbollah militias and political powerbrokers, says a national defense strategy could be part of the talks.

Lebanese observer Michael Young said the call for a national “defense strategy is particularly resonant for Hezbollah.” writing in dubai National The newspaper, Young, said it was “another term for finding a formula for integrating the party’s weapons arsenal into the state.”

Many Lebanese have long been calling on Hezbollah, the only militia that has kept its weapons to shut down during Lebanon’s 1975 to 1990 civil war.

But Aun’s opponents suspect he may be hedging Hezbollah for talks as a means to increase his chances of succeeding his son-in-law, Gebran Basil, in the presidency when his term ends later this year. Will go So far, former Sunni Muslim prime minister Rafik Hariri, Druze leader Walid Jumblat and Aun’s Christian rival Samir Gege have declined his invitation for talks.

Habib Malik of the Lebanese American University told VOA that he sees Aun and Basil jockeying for influence ahead of elections for parliament and later presidential in May.

“This is political theatre. Much of it has been designed and calculated with very clear objectives in mind. Basil is rapidly sinking in terms of any popularity among Christians and there is remote hope for him to succeed in the upcoming May elections, let alone Hezbollah’s candidate for president next November, making him truly a Houdini. Abortion, what we are seeing right now, is a well-thought-out ploy to tarnish their image to any gullible Christian.”

Many Lebanese are also frustrated by the country’s cabinet’s failure to meet for three months, interrupted by Hezbollah and its Shia ally, the Amal political party, over a dispute they have with the investigating judge on the deadly 2020 Beirut port blast. Such a meeting is necessary to revive talks with the International Monetary Fund in hopes of a financial bailout to help Lebanon’s tanking economy.

A man counts Lebanese pound notes at a currency exchange shop in Beirut on January 5, 2022.

On Tuesday, the national currency fell dramatically to a new low of more than £33,000 against the dollar, compared to 27,400 at the end of 2021, according to Reuters news agency. However, just two years ago, the Lebanese pound traded at 1,500 against the dollar.

Lebanese unions and the transport sector are calling for a “day of anger” – or protest – and workers’ strike on Thursday.


This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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