US urges swift formation of Lebanon government
After Lebanon held its first election since grappling with harsh, successive crises, the United States calls on the country to rush toward forming a government.
The United States urged Friday the authorities in Lebanon to move urgently and form a government at the soonest time possible as the country grapples with an economic crisis ranked among the world's worst in centuries after elections raised fears of a new deadlock in the country.
"We urge those elected and the country's political leaders to heed the Lebanese people's call for change and to work seriously, and with urgency, to take the necessary actions to rescue the economy," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.
He also cited Washington as urging Beirut to swiftly form a government "capable of and committed to undertaking the hard work required to restore the confidence of the Lebanese people and the international community."
The US statement also saluted Beirut for holding elections on time, though it voiced concerns about "allegations of vote-buying, clientelism, and reports of intimidation," the statement claimed.
The latest election was Lebanon's first since simultaneous, consecutive crises hit the country and brought upon public outrage due to the living conditions rendered intolerable and exacerbated by mounting international pressure on the country.
The national currency has lost more than 95% of its value, people are blocked from accessing their savings in banks, and the minimum wage cannot cover basic necessities throughout the month, putting more than 80% of the population under the poverty line.
Due to the hardship, the Lebanese people are suffering, the country landed at the very bottom of the 2022 World Happiness Index released in March. The country only came second-to-last to Afghanistan, a nation that has just ended a US occupation that lasted 20-years and brought it to the brink of collapse.
US diplomat: US-backed Lebanese opposition self-centered, narcissistic
Ahead of the parliamentary elections in Lebanon, David Schenker, former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, unmasked the dangerous role played by the former US administration [Trump’s administration] in hastening Lebanon's economic collapse and maintaining the US financial and economic siege on the country.
In a ZOOM symposium for the Washington Institute entitled “Hezbollah-Shia Dynamics and Lebanon’s Election: Challenges, Opportunities, and Policy Implications”, Schenker openly admitted the US’ [Trump’s administration] exploitation of the "October 17" movement with the aim of distorting the image of Hezbollah by a policy of peeling off allies and friends.
As he continued to express the role of the US, Schenker explained how they imposed sanctions on financial organizations affiliated with Hezbollah most notably Jammal Trust Bank (JTB), stressing that the aforementioned action was intended - with a sarcastic smile drawn on his face - to be in conjunction with Moody's Investors Service downgrading Lebanon's issuer rating to C from Ca, saying, "We also sanctioned Hezbollah financial institutions, like the Jammal Trust Bank, we are careful to do so, as we were waiting for Moody’s [Analytics] to come out with their credit ratings first that downgraded Lebanon, and the day after, we piled on and did Jamal Trust but we weren’t responsible for the downgrade, so we raised the cost as well for Hezbollah’s allies."
In the same context, he detailed how they have raised the stakes for Hezbollah allies by imposing sanctions on institutions and persons including Gibran Bassil, the President of the Free Patriotic Movement.
Furthermore, he stated that while in his position, he visited Lebanon two or three times, during which he met anti-Hezbollah Shiite businessmen and journalists, in an attempt to infiltrate and mobilize the "Shiite civil society" against Hezbollah.
Former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs admitted that he was not optimistic about Lebanon’s parliamentary elections and does not think that the results will sway the current political situation in the country.
He said he thinks that the US administration should not bet on these elections.
The main aspect of Schenker’s talking point was what he labeled as the growing discontent with Hezbollah amongst the Shiite constituent. He stated that the US could have done more to exploit that discontent. He cited Bush’s administration taking sides with the March 14 coalition in 2005 as an exception. The US has sided with the March 14 coalition, in opposition to the March 8 coalition - made up of Hezbollah and their allies according to Schencker.
However, despite the protests that took place in 2019, and the widespread discontent in Lebanon, Schenker believes that the political situation will not change. He is even unclear whether the method of attacking Gibran Bassil and portraying him as corrupt will affect the choices of the Christian voting base as intended.
In his evaluation of Hezbollah and allies' opposition candidates, Schenker describes them as individualistic, self-centered, narcissistic leaders. He claimed that they are mostly seeking to obtain titles and the benefits of leadership rather than creating actual change in the political composition of the country.
It is worth mentioning that the United States sought to create instability in the country to weaken the Lebanese Resistance as a favor for the Israeli enemy, the US’ main ally in the Middle East.