Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib yesterday began the expectedly tough task of forming a new cabinet in what seems to be a race against time to meet the two-week deadline set by French President Emmanuel Macron.
On Tuesday, Macron said as he wrapped a two-day visit to Beirut that Lebanon’s leaders assured him that a new government would be formed in two weeks to undertake “the substantial” reforms Macron and other world leaders had demanded before the country could get further assistance to salvage the crumpling economy.
Macron has set another deadline for those reforms: three months.
The Lebanese expected the French president to tackle the pressing issue of Hezbollah — to end the bizarre situation where an armed militia, which is heavily armed and sponsored financially by a foreign country, calls the shots in the country and holds its people, resources, stability and sovereignty hostage to Iran’s regional agenda
The French president told reporters that Paris wants to help Lebanon get out of its financial and political crisis, but that failing to implement reforms within the 3 month period would result in ‘punitive actions’, including withholding international aid and possibly even sanctions against leading politicians.
It is more of an ultimatum. “Going back to business as usual would be madness,” Macron said.
One crisis after another
But for most of the Lebanese people. These ultimatums didn’t work before. Why would they work this time? The same ruling class that plunged Lebanon into one crisis after another for the past 30 years is the one that Macron counts on to enact the required reforms.
Macron defended his position saying he was “realistic” and “pragmatist.” But there is nothing pragmatic about expecting different results by trying the same futile method.
Substantial reforms may need to overhaul the entire political, electoral and economic systems. But it was clear form Macron’s meetings in Beirut that most parties don’t agree with that.
Macron left without explaining what sort of reforms have been agreed with Lebanon’s ruling class. His statement as he ended his overhyped visit was vague on that.
Shortchanged by Macron's visit?
The Lebanese also expected the French president to tackle the pressing issue of Hezbollah — to end the bizarre situation where an armed militia, which is heavily armed and sponsored financially by a foreign country, calls the shots in the country and holds its people, resources, stability and sovereignty hostage to Iran’s regional agenda.
The Lebanese have been shortchanged by the much-anticipated visit of the French leader. They expected substantial results, particularly in the wake of the catastrophic explosion in the port that left 190 people dead and thousands more injured last months.
Macron on the other hand got what he wanted - a memorable photo with the legendary Arab singer Fairuz.
Meanwhile, and as he landed in Baghdad yesterday, Lebanon went expectedly back to business as usual. Welcome to the Lebanon’s madness, Mr. Macron!