Lebanese administrative deadlock seems to have found a temporary resolution with Hezbollah and Amal agreeing with a cabinet session.
Hezbollah and Amal, the two prominent Lebanese factions, have announced that they will halt their embargo against cabinet meetings. The new move might pave the way for cabinet to convene after a three-month hiatus. During the time, Lebanese economy suffered harsh downfall and the currency have lost a major part of its value.
The new approach was motivated by the aim of passing the 2022 budget and address healing the economy. Hezbollah and Amal have multiple representatives in a cabinet which contains ministers with orientation to all major parties.
Due to multiple challenges, the Lebanese government under Najib Mikati premiership has not convened since last October. The fight over the inquiry into the fatal Beirut port blast two years ago was one of the underlying causes. Besides, a persistent diplomatic dispute with some Arab states over a minister’s remarks on Yemen war further convoluted the condition.
The outcome was the administration’s inability to make a quick response to the country’s severe economic situation. The currency value in Lebanon decreased to 10% in a five-month period ending in January 2022.
This led over 80% of the total population in the country into deep poverty. Lebanon’s rate of inflation has surpassed crisis-stricken nations like Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Financial agencies state that the downfall of Lebanon’s economy has no precedent since the 1850s.
Lebanese President recently warned that the country will require “six to seven years” to recover from the conflict. The finance sector broke three years ago under the burden of massive public debt and a reliance on foreign currency. Long years of fraud, financial failure, unstable financing, and administrative turmoil were the ingredients to the current disaster.
Hezbollah and Amal; Character and Influence
For multiple decades, the global community has urged Beirut to restructure its industry and adopt anti-corruption measures. Besides, Lebanon should have made the planning to achieve a deal with the IMF in order to access billions of dollars in investment funding.
Lebanon is also trying to pass a diplomatic squabble with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain. The countries are in dispute with Beirut over former information ministers’ criticism of what he described as “futile” Yemen war.
George Kordahi‘s remarks instigated a campaign led by Saudi Arabia that besieged the crisis-stricken economy of Lebanon. His criticism was one of the first and rare condemnations of Yemen war by an authority in the Arab states. Kordahi utilized a mild tone, but Riyadh feared it would open up the wave of criticism against the war.
The futility of Yemen war is clearer than any time in the past six years. Saudi Arabia, however, means to overcome the challenge in a way that least denigrates its political face in the region.
In any case, Riyadh diverted the challenge to Beirut in a way that the latter had no choice but to officially apologize, oust the minister and be patient. Weeks after the disputes, now the Hezbollah and Amal initiative might be a by-pass to relieve the economic wounds of the country.
As prominent and decisive political and religious factions, Hezbollah and Amal might be able to direct Lebanon into stability. The process, nevertheless, relies on many other factors including the solidarity among various, and opposing, political parties.
The present crisis in Lebanon roots in many local and foreign factors and resolution needs a long time and planning. To relieve the sufferings of the people, however, putting the political rifts and antagonism aside is the first step.