ATFL and Congressional Staff Conclude Delegation Visit to Lebanon Biden’s National Security Strategy: America’s Search For Order In The Middle East Defeating the Deadlock
ATFL and Congressional Staff Conclude Delegation Visit to Lebanon
ATFL has just wrapped up a bipartisan Congressional staff delegation visit to Lebanon. In four days, we met with leaders in the education, policy, humanitarian and religious communities as well as with Members of Parliament, political party leaders, the cabinet, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), and local UN leadership. We had the opportunity to meet with US Ambassador Dorothy Shea and congratulate the US for its successful leadership in the maritime accord between Lebanon and Israel as well as discuss other priorities for Lebanon, including the Levantine Energy Deal. The success of the maritime deal has helped Lebanon catch the attention of its international friends. Now is the time to take advantage of this opportunity and keep the momentum going, day by day, for the next few months. Lebanon’s leaders can begin by electing a new president and then finalizing an IMF deal. They can then follow through with forming a new government and completing the Egyptian gas deal. Imagine how Lebanon could be viewed after five months of good news.
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel
Biden’s National Security Strategy: America’s Search For Order In The Middle East James Ryan writes that “President Joe Biden’s National Security Strategy (NSS) addresses two trends in America’s Middle East policy that have been apparent over his tenure: military de-escalation and regional integration.” [Eurasia Review]
In order to understand the implications of the ‘National Security Strategy (NSS) for Lebanon, one must begin with the overarching concerns of the US which remain in the president’s words, “Security, Stability, and Prosperity.” These ideal goals cover many objectives, not the least of which is to promote an environment in which countries are counted on as friends and allies to the degree they seek the same goals. Lebanon, under its current caretaker government, can either challenge or complement these goals: by electing a president committed to reforms, by passing and implementing the IMF conditions, and by investing in the people of Lebanon. This is the only long-term guarantee that the Lebanese will build a new social contract that serves to preserve and inspire the best in its people.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
Defeating the Deadlock Michael Young argues, “the dynamics indicate that only a figure who is above the fray, who has the means to push back against both Geagea and Bassil, who enjoys international respect, and who may not inconvenience Hezbollah for having spent years coordinating with the party, will emerge as the favorite. At present, [Joseph] Aoun alone appears to combine all these characteristics.” [Carnegie]
It is a paradox of Lebanese politics that while many are hoping for a new president who is strong, decisive, and able to stand for the many, the Lebanese will likely get a convener, a person who can stand up with and not against the power brokers/traditional politicians. As long as the status quo persists, the country will find leadership that is constrained and throttled by a system that elevates compromise over action no matter how laudable or practical the solution proposed, the electricity sector being a prime example of gridlock and malfeasance. Maybe the first action of the new president should be the full implementation of the Taif Accord – while not perfect, it stands as a hallmark of what must be done to restore Lebanon.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.
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