Chinese Pearls Circling Lebanon – Will the Government Answer the Siren Song?

Much has been made of Hezbollah’s call to look east to China rather than deal with the IMF and the West which they believe pose an existential threat to their hold on power in Lebanon. Analysts seem to understand that the debt diplomacy perfected by China in Asia and Africa can pose a real threat to Lebanese financial independence, but don’t know how that could be any worse than the current situation. What hasn’t been discussed in any great detail is why China wants to help Lebanon in the first place, given its financial and political instability, especially since there is no oil available as collateral. For that perspective, one needs to zoom out for a broader perspective and consider the g

Looking to the Past for a New Formula for Coexistence

As a broad array of analysts bemoan the current situation in Lebanon, a moral authority raised his voice to plead for the country’s return to one of its principle guideposts, neutrality in foreign affairs, especially regional politics. Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai has dedicated two recent sermons and several interviews on the issue, and won quick endorsement from politicians outside of the ruling troika. Cast as “disassociation” in the Baabda Declaration by the government of President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Najib Mikati in 2012, it was approved by all parties in the government including Hezbollah, which had begun fighting in Syria in support of the Assad regime by that

Headlines Tell the Story of Lebanon’s Economic Decline

A review of the headlines in the latest Byblos Bank report produced by its Economic Research & Analysis Department provides a quick overview of the erosion in Lebanon’s economy. For example, the quality of living index for select Arab cities measured this past month puts Lebanon in front of only Cairo and Casablanca, third from the bottom, having dropped 14.2% in the past two years. In cost of living, on the other hand, Beirut ranks second highest among Arab cities. While some may think that the fact that the currency in circulation is up 67% is good news, it only reflects the lack of dollars in the system as the Central Bank prints more liras while their value has diminished upwards of 80%.

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