Monday, March 30, 2020

It is a lesson in Lebanese politics to track Hezbollah’s multiple layers of tactics and strategies focused on one goal – preventing the Lebanese state from undertaking actions that challenge its interests. Among the sectarian groups in Lebanon, Hezbollah stands out as the most consistent and rigorous adherent of maintaining its influence over the others whether by rallying its allies in Parliament to control legislation and government initiatives, bringing its thugs out into the streets to combat demonstrators, or simply reminding opponents of the fate of previous leaders perceived as obstacles to their leadership.

While the list of its contributions are often referenced by its non-Shia supporters, for example, protecting Christian villages in Syria against ISIS, providing basic services to...

Monday, March 16, 2020

Following her meetings with Lebanon’s current top leadership, newly appointed US Ambassador Dorothy Shea issued a statement that emphasized that “The people of Lebanon have rightly called for reform, an end to corruption, and the imposition of effective policies necessary to extricate Lebanon from its an unprecedented economic crisis. The United States continues to back the protesters’ legitimate demands for economic opportunity, accountability, and transparency.  Only by meeting those demands can Lebanon initiate the difficult process of restoring international confidence.”

She went on to say that “The United States is proud to have been a committed partner to Lebanon since the 1800s.  We have deep ties in education, in business, in security, and in people-to-people and family relatio...

Monday, March 9, 2020

In these times of great confusion and bewilderment, I felt compelled after much reflection to get clarity over the financial conundrum we are facing, which is characterized by deliberate obscurantism to say the least. I also wanted to reflect on some constructive ideas about this very difficult subject.

By nature I am compelled to seek the crux of a problem and think only in terms of solutions. I also wanted to understand how this affliction came about.

I tend to look at situations in a holistic manner beyond the outward manifestations of symptoms, which in this case are the bankruptcy of the financial institutions and the failed state of Lebanon.

The deeper underlying cause can be summed up by saying that extreme negligence, recklessness and self-serving narrow public policies driven by priv...

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

It is increasingly difficult to ignore the factors forcing the Lebanese deeper into poverty. For example, one unintended impact of US policy towards Iran is that while it effectively squeezes the economic performance of the regime, it also reduces resources for the Lebanese Shia community. At a recent session sponsored by Al-Monitor, Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran and senior policy adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, noted that the maximum pressure campaign being coordinated by the US has had a significant impact on Iran and its ability to support its proxy militias, including Hezbollah.

While on the macro level, this may be true, it is also clear that Iran, despite the expansion of US sanctions on individuals as well as entities, continues to provide its constitu...

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