Tuesday, May 12, 2020

  • Tuesday, May 12, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
Lebanon is suffering from an economic meltdown, that has become a looming catastrophe because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The New York Times covers it...with a curious omission.

Lebanon’s economic problems have been building for years. A nation of 5.4 million on the Mediterranean with a variety of religious sects and large groups of Syrian and Palestinian refugees, Lebanon has long suffered from internal conflict and spillover from the wars afflicting its neighbors. Its historically weak government has relied on increasing amounts of debt to pay its bills, while failing to carry out reforms that could have bolstered its economy or unlocked international aid. That has made it the third most indebted state in the world, and rampant corruption has further siphoned funds from state coffers.
Not once in the article does it mention Hezbollah's strangehold on the country and its fealty not to Lebanon but to Iran.

Lebanese media covers this angle:

 The government led by Hassan Diab will not succeed in rescuing the Lebanese economy as long as its touted reforms are tailored to suit the needs of Hezbollah and its regional allies – and as long as the Prime Minister’s No 1 priority is to remain in power at any cost. This government is essentially a fig leaf for a coalition of political parties led by Hezbollah, an entity that is loyal to the Iranian regime in Tehran.

With Hezbollah being an important weapon in its arsenal, Tehran has two objectives that it is determined to achieve in Lebanon. First, it intends to help consolidate Hezbollah’s dominance over the country by overturning its banking system, market economy, political system and the constitution. Second, it hopes to eliminate all possibilities of a popular uprising demanding reform and accountability, as this could not only topple the corrupt ruling class in Beirut but also expose Hezbollah’s power structure to major risks – a red line for Tehran.

It is clear to all sides that there is no way to rescue Lebanon from collapse except through serious negotiations with the IMF, which would unlock external funds conditioned on serious reforms.

Hezbollah has rejected Beirut’s co-operation with the organisation except on its own terms, endorsed by President Aoun and Mr Bassil; the latter is known to hold the keys to Lebanon’s energy sector. In other words, this axis is bent on cherry-picking only that part of the IMF’s advice which suits it, while preventing any scrutiny of the government’s books, especially in the energy sector that has bankrupted the state.

The key to foreign aid is clear: serious negotiations must be held with the IMF with a proven commitment to comprehensive reforms – not selective adjustments that overlook certain sectors for political reasons.
Arab editorial cartoonists are also clued in to what the New York Times ignores. The caption here says "Hezbollah's weapons drag Lebanon's economy into the abyss."

Iran is holding Lebanon hostage, and that includes the economy. It is astonishing, although not surprising, that the New York Times does not want to even give Hezbollah's role in Lebanon's problems a passing reference.

(h/t EBoZ)

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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