ATFL Statement on the Second Anniversary of the October 17 Demonstrations
Remembering the October 17 Demonstrations –
ATFL Calls on Lebanon’s Government to Act
Washington, DC, October 17, 2021 (ATFL) – The American Task Force of Lebanon (ATFL), a leadership organization of Americans of Lebanese descent, calls on the government of Lebanon to rebuild trust with the Lebanese people and the international community by moving forward with credible reforms required to receive urgently needed funds into the country and to take steps to ensure free and fair elections in spring 2022.
Today marks the second anniversary of the demonstrations against the government’s mismanagement of the economy and its widespread corruption. Sectarian politics have obstructed reforms and investigations into government corruption, leaving the pain of those affected ignored and leadership absent in building a national strategy of reconciliation and economic recovery.
The Lebanese people are suffering. The statistics on poverty, loss of education and quality of life, hyperinflation of essential goods, cost of living, and healthcare, and emigration of skilled Lebanese are well known. The security and stability of the country are eroding as the families of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Internal Security Forces (ISF) share the depressing costs of a barely functioning economy.
It is time to show restraint to instincts to respond with threats and violence to provocations from any parties. Lebanon is for the Lebanese. It is time to reaffirm that basic fact and begin the process of negotiations with the IMF, move towards a single exchange rate by reducing subsidies and public spending, work to ensure increased stable power supplies throughout the country, and earn the people’s trust by transparent and credible government policies to restore a functioning government.
The international community is clear in its position: clean elections, implementation of basic reforms, and a robust and sustainable social safety net are central to opening the country to outside support.
Lebanese overseas are also continuing their support and insist on an election process that is equitable to expatriate Lebanese and inclusive of all citizens in the country. Lebanon has the means to begin the process of reconstruction and recovery. Now, on this solemn occasion, is the time to commit to that vision and take the necessary steps to begin.
The American Task Force on Lebanon is 501(C)3 nonprofit organization of prominent Americans of Lebanese heritage, who educate for the strengthening of the historic U.S.-Lebanon relationship. The mission and objectives of ATFL shall always be in the best interest of the United States and will promote the national unity, independence, and prosperity of a democratic and multi-sectarian Lebanon.