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Analysis

What Does US Seek Behind Pressing To Foil Lebanon Reforms?

Wednesday 1 July 2020
What Does US Seek Behind Pressing To Foil Lebanon Reforms?

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Alwaght- Over the past decade, the West Asia region has seen many weak and crisis-weary states all carrying characteristics of failed states, though with various degrees. 

Noam Chomsky, the prominent American philosopher and political theorist, in his definition of such states suggests that the characteristics of the failed states include the failure to provide security for their own people, guarantee the rights at home and abroad, and save efficient democratic institutions. To put it in a simple way, the failed states are the states that fail to accomplish the main duties of a government. 

One of the important regional states that over the past years has been grappling with the crisis is Lebanon. Due to the sectarian and religious diversity in the country, the Lebanese government is based on an agreed-upon political sharing system, dubbed “National Pact.” 

Although the pact was renewed in the 1990s in Saudi Arabia's Taif and was embedded in the new national constitution to put an end to 15-year deadly civil war, various governments’ failure to stabilize the economy, limit the foreign intervention, and fight corruption combined with unpredictable foreign challenges like the Syrian conflict reflected on the Lebanese economy and security immersed the country into popular protest and a political predicament. 

Although the protests continued in the new year with less intensity compared to last year, in a rare move the country picked a government in January led by Prime Minister Hassan Diab without the presence of important power actor March 14 Alliance dominated by Hariri-led Future Movement. The new administration since its inauguration launched a serious and comprehensive program to restore economic stability and fight corruption. But PM Diab in addition to the internal challenge of protests and treachery of some home political sides is facing serious foreign intervention resolved to foil his reforms. 

Currently, the US, Saudi Arabia, and the Israeli regime are the key foreign interventionist actors in Lebanon developments, plotting to fail the government which is close to Hezbollah and March 8 Alliance. Over the past few months, the White House has led these efforts, playing its cards in the Lebanese equations in a complicated strategy that also has regional wings and goals. 

Destroying the Lebanese economy 

The Lebanese economy at present is experiencing a set of infirmities including the huge foreign debts outsizing the GDP, surging inflation, recession, high unemployment rates, and slumping national currency value. In the middle of this mayhem, the PM is struggling to bring back to life the economy. However, the US is treacherously setting up major roadblocks in the way of his reformatory steps by imposing sanctions on Lebanese individuals and banks. 

Commenting on the US-foisted restrictions, Ali Hassan Khalil, the finance minister, in early July said that the sanctions targeting Hezbollah although only name the movement, their impacts extend to the whole country. 

At the same time, the US sway over the international financial organizations presents another obstacle ahead of PM Diab’s economic policies. Washington is undeniably pressuring these organizations to be tough to Beirut’s request for loans to take the economy back on the track. 

Also, the US perfidy and the meddling to block the Lebanese return to the economic stability is proven more than ever by the recently-implemented Caesar Act, which fully prohibits the world from dealing with neighboring Syria. The US Congress approved the law in January 2019 against Damascus and its supporters with an outright majority. It was ratified by President Donald Trump through an executive order in December last year. 

Although the sanctions ostensibly target Syria, they can negatively affect the Lebanese economy. The act is grave also to Lebanon because since the beginning of the crisis, Syrian businesspeople have been using Lebanon as a backdoor to their trade and transactions. At the same time, Syria is the only crossing of Lebanon to the Arab countries and it needs to continue its relations with Syria. The Lebanese banks for over a decade have been facilitating the Syrian trade with the world. Through the Caesar Act, Washington directly targets the Lebanese government and political parties.

Dani Mackay, a British journalist and West Asia affairs commentator, suggests that not only Lebanon is the sole economic card for Syria “out of the prison” but also is the beating heart of the Syrian business community. 

Additionally, the opposition parties may pressure the government to make the government kneel to the US demands by arguing that any defiance against the US can damage the government’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and bring further sanctions to the economy. 

The US-led scheme aimed at Hezbollah arms 

The new round of the demonstrations in the country that followed eased social restrictions to curb the coronavirus outbreak saw an important difference and it was the chanting of sectarian and religious slogans. Lebanon is a mosaic of sects and it is crystal clear that sectarian division is fatal poison to the national stability and security. Meanwhile, leaders like President Michel Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri have warned that foreign hands are behind such divisive slogans. 

Anyway, the sectarian division in Lebanon through a game designed by the Americans and their vassals is never new to Lebanon. Still, this sinister role is extremely dangerous in the present conditions. 

The Lebanese seem to observe very well the US meddling. On Saturday, the US envoy to Lebanon Dorothy Shea in apparently interventionist comments in a televised interview took anti-Hezbollah stances. 

In an interview on Saudi-owned Al Hadath TV, Shea said: "Hezbollah is destabilizing the country and jeopardizing Lebanon's economic recovery."

In reaction, the Lebanese court banned media from interviewing her for a year. Urgent Matters Judge Mohammad Mazeh said on Saturday that the remarks “offended many Lebanese and poured oil on the fire of [sectarian] strife.” Media channels who violate the decision could be closed down for a year and fined $200,000, he added. 

The important point about Washington’s multi-faceted strategy to destabilize Lebanon is its coincidence with the Israeli annexation plans in West Bank and the American push to conclude the so-called “deal of the century” despite wide global opposition. Pressuring such a strongly-resistant actor as Hezbollah and disarming it will mean eliminating a very effective and powerful pole in the Iran-led Axis of Resistance standing in the face of grave American and Israeli designs for the future regional developments. 

 

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Lebanon Hezbollah US Meddling Caesar Act

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