This Week In Lebanon: 2/27/2022

Sunday, February 27, 2022

February 27, 2022

Lebanon Condemns Russian Invasion of Ukraine
On Thursday, Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement which condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for Russian forces to withdraw from there immediately. Meanwhile, neighboring Syria has voiced support for the Russian government and many other Arab nations have remained silent on the conflict. [Al Arabiya]


“Lebanon distinguished itself in its condemnation of Russian actions in Ukraine. This is in stark contrast to Syria and other Middle Eastern countries that have “kept a distance from the ongoing invasion of Ukraine,” or supported Russian actions.  This statement shows the positive interplay between US Ambassador Shea and the leadership in Lebanon. This is a telling moment for international support of US actions. Now countries will be closely judged on whether they are with or against the US. There will be little tolerance within the State Department of middle ground doublespeak on such a consequential issue.”

-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

Saudi Foreign Minister: Lebanon Needs To Actively Save Itself
The Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, has stated that Lebanon needs to implement needed reforms to to receive support from the international community. Speaking at the the 58th Munich Security Conference (MSC 2022) held from February 18 to 20 in Munich, Foreign Minister Al Saud stated, “Lebanon first needs to be actively saving itself…We need a stronger signal from the Lebanese body politic that they are going to step up.” [The 961]

“The Saudis are clearly unhappy with Lebanon but it’s more than their anger with Hezbollah’s fronting Iran’s interests. The Foreign Minister was quite clear in his comments – reforms, reforms, reforms. After all, they have poured billions of dollars into Lebanon since the Civil War to prop up the efforts of successive prime ministers, and aside from Saudis owning some choice real estate, they have little to show for their investments. Drug smuggling, pretentions of cultural superiority, and pervasive corruption have soured the relationship. Yes there are two sides to the perceptions but regardless, it’s past time for Lebanese leaders to understand that the region has changed and the country’s future depends in large part on listening to our former allies and responding credibly.”

-ATFL Vice President for Policy Jean AbiNader

Lebanon Approves $18 Million to Hold May Election
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) updated Lebanon’s classification from a “hybrid regime” to an “authoritarian regime” in its 2021 Annual Democracy Index. According to L’Orient Today, “EIU’s analysis of Lebanon’s deteriorated score attributed the country’s 2021 score to the growth of “the power of interest groups related to Lebanon’s sectarian political system” amid a further deteriorating economy and “fuel shortages [that] worsened the cost of living crisis.” The report also indicated that the score factored in ‘the worsening perceptions of democracy and rising support for military rule.'” [L’Orient Today]


“Lebanon has added another credential to its international notoriety. The EIU designation of Lebanon as “authoritarian” is well-earned if you click on the link and follow the criteria used by the Economist. Lebanon’s ranking is almost 55% lower than the world average due to the power of interest groups that are stronger than the government, the deteriorating economy, fuel shortages, the cost of living crisis, the worsening perceptions of democracy, and rising support for military rule. Prime Minister Mikati is in a struggle. Will his fellow Presidents move towards a rescue scenario for Lebanon, or are they betting on election results which guarantees their stranglehold on Lebanon’s future?”

-ATFL Vice President for Policy 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.