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May 22 2022 4:14 PM ˚
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Lebanon: ‘When sorrows come, they come ... in battalions’

Khalid Dalal (Photo: Jordan News)
Khalid Dalal (Photo: Jordan News)
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What is happening in Lebanon is literally a chain reaction of mischiefs that represent a textbook case of what William Shakespeare described in his immortal masterpiece “Hamlet,” saying: “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.”اضافة اعلان

The latest episode of that was the Lebanese Central Bank’s decision to lift the subsidies on fuel, to be added to the severe shortage in medicine and the long queues of people waiting to buy bread, for those who can afford it.

Some hospitals have become dysfunctional, like the 90-year-old Al-Makassed General Hospital in Beirut, which has closed its doors in the face of patients seeking treatment at the charity facility, citing a shortage in fuel and medicines.

Even in wartime, hospitals might face problems, but they keep functioning, because, in principle, the international community and relief agencies would not allow a humanitarian situation to deteriorate to this level of catastrophe!
The political situation in Lebanon and the bickering among politicians are the main culprit in this situation.

An entire year was wasted as the country was struggling, in vain, to form a government, but the disputes between President Michel Aoun and former premier Saad Al-Hariri ended in an all-too familiar failure after the tragic blast at Beirut Port a year ago.

This is a crime that shames all these political and sectarian leaders, whose pursuit of political and economic gain has dragged the country into the abyss, leaving almost half of the people below the poverty line.

Alas, the possible formation of a new government by the prime minister designate Najib Mikati is not the answer to the multi-faceted disaster the Lebanese are undergoing.

The seeds of failure are inherent in the process, even if the government was formed, thanks, again, to the differences among the same old faces and the futile quota system.

The absence of a functional and sustainable government simply means that international organizations that might be willing to offer help cannot trust that the people in power will be reliable partners to implement economic correction plans, The entire reality is absurd.

The country’s currency has lost more than 100 percent of its value against the US dollar in two years, while the unemployment rate is above 40 percent, and Lebanon is, consequently, rolling down the road to a complete bankruptcy.

No solution sounds feasible under the circumstances, but perhaps the Arab League can host a national dialogue conference bringing together all Lebanese stakeholders to salvage this Arab country through drawing a clear political and economic roadmap that is binding for all.

Maybe then Lebanon, once a vanguard of modernism and free press and a hub of cultural activities, will escape the bottleneck.

Moreover, it is high time for regional and international forces fighting for a grip of power on Lebanon to take a break and leave the country alone to breathe.

In fact, this is the job of the Lebanese people themselves to give the wake-up call to their politicians with a clear message that they can no longer tolerate external interference in their affairs, and that no group will remain a proxy for a greedy regional or international power.

Lebanon can be saved by a true democracy and a new order where meritocracy, institutions, transparency, checks and balances and the rule of the law prevail.

Admittedly, this is a far-fetched dream, but, after all, the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step and the Lebanese are undeniably among the most educated and enlightened peoples in the region to succeed.

In the meantime, the international community should shoulder its responsibilities and take bold steps to divert the course of events there to safety.

There are effective tools like grants, zero-interest or soft loans and, above all, debt cancellation or reduction, at least. Let’s all save Lebanon.

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