This Week In Lebanon: 2/14/2021

Sunday, February 14, 2021

February 14, 2021
 PM-Designate Hariri’s Meeting with President Macron 
 UNESCO Cancels Beirut Fundraiser 
 Family, Friends, Political Figures Attend Luqman Slim’s Funeral 
Prime Minister-Designate Hariri’s Meeting with President Macron
Closing out a foreign tour including visits, to Abu Dhabi and Cairo, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri met with President Emmanuel Macron in Paris to discuss Lebanon’s progress. They reviewed current obstacles to government formation under Hariri and possible solutions. Macron’s efforts so far to push for a newly formed government in order to enact reforms have failed so far. [Reuters]
“The article states that “Paris was not initially keen for Hariri to take up the role …But given the lack of progress in forming a credible government, Macron did not oppose the nomination.” For several months now, former Prime Minister Hariri has attempted to form a credible, reformist government. As time runs out for Lebanon perhaps France and the US should suggest the parliament immediately endorse the appointment of an independent technocratic government that has the credibility of the Lebanese citizens and the IMF.  A comprehensive French plan without a competent government and leadership untainted by its past, will neither succeed nor be trusted by the people.”
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

UNESCO Cancels Beirut Fundraiser
Due to the delay in government formation, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has canceled a planned conference that was meant to raise funds for the rebuilding of schools, museums, and other cultural and heritage sites in Beirut. UNESCO’s planned fundraising events for Lebanon were supposed to support the restoration of about 160 schools. [The 961]
“Schools and cultural and historical buildings are among the projects that UNESCO was targeting in its upcoming fundraising appeals for Lebanon’s reconstruction. Unfortunately, the agency could not proceed without a government partner and the caretaker authority does not meet the criteria. Yet another sign that Lebanon is facing the abyss as the political oligarchy maneuvers to protect their private interests while ignoring the catastrophic conditions all around them. Whose interests are served by a disintegrating Lebanon? Certainly not the Lebanese people.”
-ATFL Policy Director Jean AbiNader

Family, Friends and Political Figures Attend Luqman Slim’s Funeral
Family, friends, and political figures including foreign diplomats attended Luqman Slim’s funeral on Thursday. Among those in attendance was US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea who demanded accountability for Slim’s assassination. German Ambassador to Lebanon Andreas Kindl also called for a transparent investigation. [Naharnet]
“Given that the investigation into the Port of Beirut blast has yet to see the light of day, the chances of a transparent process concerning the assassination of Luqman Slim are equally troublesome. As is evident in the Port blast investigation, pursuing the truth is dangerous, and comes at a high cost to one’s professional career and indeed their lives. Without respect for the rule of law and an independent judiciary, there is little chance that the investigation will precede quickly and fairly. Hopefully, pressure from the international community will continue on both fronts and force some daylight into these murky incidents.”
-ATFL Policy Director 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.