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An endless political crisis in Lebanon


International pressure and the threat of sanctions from the European Union are doing nothing. Lebanon is sinking into an endless crisis, managed since August 2020 by a resigning government, in charge of current affairs. After Saad Hariri’s failure to form a new government, France, the European Union and the United States once again called on Friday, July 16, the Lebanese political class to urgently form a cabinet.

Paris also announced the holding of a new international aid conference in Lebanon on August 4, the first anniversary of the devastating explosion at the port of Beirut. Attributed to the negligence of the authorities, the disaster killed more than 200 people, destroyed entire neighborhoods and worsened the social, economic and political crisis.

Against a backdrop of economic and social decomposition, the political deadlock over the formation of a new government, supposed to launch reforms, a condition set by foreign donors for the release of international aid, continues. After nine months of negotiations, Saad Hariri, leader of the Sunni community, threw in the towel Thursday, July 15, failing to find an agreement with the Maronite President Michel Aoun on the composition of his team.

The latter demanded to appoint all the Christian ministers, supposed, according to the Constitution, to make up half of the government. Saad Hariri refused to cede to him this prerogative which, according to him, belongs to the prime minister. “Michel Aoun’s main ambition is to allow his son-in-law Gebran Bassil to succeed him as president in 2022, which Hariri would like to prevent”, analyzes Michael Young, editor of Diwan, the blog of the Carnegie Middle East Center think tank. “ The quarrels between Michel Aoun, Gebran Bassil and Saad Hariri play into the hands of the Shiite Hezbollah movement, hostile to placing Lebanon under the supervision of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Western donors. “

Michel Aoun must now begin parliamentary consultations to choose a head of government. Even though several names have started to circulate, naming a new Sunni personality will not be easy. Many observers see the resigning government remaining in place until the legislative elections scheduled for spring 2022, with the risk of exacerbating economic and security disintegration.

After Saad Hariri’s withdrawal, the Lebanese pound fell again on the black market, exceeding 22,000 pounds to the dollar, against less than 19,000 pounds the day before. Protesters briefly blocked several roads in Beirut. In the north, in Tripoli, clashes pitted protesters angry over rising prices, power cuts and shortages of diesel and medicine in the military.

In the South, demonstrators set fire to tires in Saïda. And, as if the difficulties were not sufficient, Lebanese Minister of Health Hamad Hassan indicated that subsidies on certain drugs would now be lifted to slow down the draining of foreign currency reserves from the Central Bank.

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