Lebanon has finally formed the long-awaited government, after a 13-month stalemate that plunged the country deeper in its economic crisis. Prime Minister Mikati has, at last, succeeded to present an acceptable line up of 24 “technocratic” ministers, expected to solve Lebanon’s financial and economic crises. This accomplishment materialized after two failed attempts to form a government following the explosion at Beirut’s Port in August 2020. In the meantime, the whole world followed and highlighted the political (and economic) developments in Lebanon, especially the several deadlocks that preceded the formation of Mikati’s government, oftentimes blaming President Aoun for “not agreeing” to previous proposals and “failing to reform the economy” (United Press International, July 2021). However, a closer look at the background and sources of what has become the worst economic crisis in the history of Lebanon leads us to better understand the insistent and stoic actions of President Aoun.
The failure “to reform the economy” cannot be matched with over three decades of deep-rooted and unmonitored corruption initiated and maintained by the post-Taef governments; corruption fueled by detrimental money policies adopted by late Prime Minister Hariri and his government. The corruption started in the early 1990’s, powered by the Taef Accord that allowed a horizontal method of governing instead of a vertical one, which enabled warlords and political elites to take over the government and divide the power (and wealth) among themselves, LONG before President Aoun became president.
Meanwhile, “experts” in the political field have been repeatedly calling for a technocratic government capable of effectively saving Lebanon from an impending economic demise. Noteworthy is the fact that in 1992, (then) Prime Minister Rafic Hariri had formed a “technocratic” government in which he appointed Fouad Seniora as Finance Minister who proceeded to devise and implement detrimental financial policies such as, creating unregulated funds and borrowing money at high interests to pacify people—all this upon disregarding prior accumulated debt and deciding to start “anew”.
Lebanon’s problem is not whether the government is technocratic or not. Regardless of credentials and qualifications, Members of Parliament have agreed on ministers who are (explicitly or not) affiliated with different factions and parties, which means these ministers would not oppose the Parliament’s decisions and vision. Subsequently, finding an impartial and purely technocratic minister will only happen on the Twelfth of Never.
Moreover, when President Aoun assumed his role as President of the Republic in 2016, he quickly realized he was up against a group of immoral warlords and politicians unwilling to concede their (illegitimate) power and wealth. He has since been fervidly pushing to execute forensic auditing for the purpose of uncovering the sources (and real culprits) of corruption, in vain. He was constantly and vehemently faced with obstinate resistance from the same group of corrupt politicians.
Additionally, and to create more distractions for the Lebanese people and international community, President Aoun was accused of delaying the formation of government or “not agreeing” to specific proposals. In reality, and in the face of so much opposition and political belligerence, President Aoun insisted on the formation of a balanced government –not just ‘technocratic’—in which he could fairly have a significant influence over cabinet decisions.
The world can continue to lament Lebanon’s prosperity. It can continue to blame President Aoun for the deteriorating economy. It can continue to condemn his administration for failing to “reform the country” and pray to God “to save the country” (The Wall Street Journal, July 2021). It can, for sure, come up with several (inadequate) theories of why this happened… But it can certainly not deny that President Aoun has steadily upheld Lebanon’s Constitution and strived to ensure the proper and fair representation in the Cabinet, despite the harsh and restrictive limitations of the Taef Accord. Mikati’s “technocratic” government does not have a magic wand but, supported by President Aoun’s unwavering stance, it certainly possesses the tools (Forensic Audit), ability (impartial judiciary department to apply the necessary corrective measures), and potential economic strategies to save Lebanon.
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