Lebanon not expecting new aid pledges at Paris meeting

Protesters chant slogans during ongoing protests against the Lebanese political class, as riot police block a road leading to the parliament building in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. (AP)
Updated 10 December 2019

Lebanon not expecting new aid pledges at Paris meeting

  • The political impasse returned to square one on Sunday when a tentative agreement on a new PM unraveled
  • Lebanon has also been in a political impasse since Saad Al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29

BEIRUT/PARIS: Lebanon does not expect new aid pledges at conference which France is hosting on Wednesday to press for the quick formation of a new government that can tackle an acute financial crisis.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urged Lebanon to create a new government swiftly or risk the crisis worsening and threatening the country’s stability.
The economic crisis is the worst since the 1975-90 civil war: a liquidity crunch has led banks to enforce capital controls and the Lebanese pound to slump by one third.
Lebanon has also been in a political impasse since Saad Al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29, prompted by protests against the ruling elite, with no agreement on a new government.
Nadim Munla, senior adviser to Hariri, who is running the government as caretaker, told Reuters the Paris meeting would probably signal a readiness to offer support once a government is formed that commits to reforms.
“They will recognize that there is a short-term problem and that if and when a government (is formed) that basically responds to the aspirations of people, most probably the international community will be ready to step in and provide support to Lebanon, or additional support,” he said.
“It is not a pledging conference.”
Lebanon won pledges of over $11 billion at a conference last year conditional on reforms that it has failed to implement. The economic crisis is rooted in years of corruption and waste that have generated one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens.
The political impasse returned to square one on Sunday when a tentative agreement on a new prime minister unraveled.
Hariri is now seen as the only candidate for the post.
He has said he would only lead a cabinet of specialist ministers, believing this is the way to address the economic crisis, attract aid, and satisfy protesters who have been in the streets since Oct. 17 seeking the removal of a political class blamed for corruption and misrule.
But Hezbollah and its allies including President Michel Aoun say the government must include politicians.
“Let’s see the coming few days and if there will be an agreement among the political parties on a formation ... otherwise we might take longer,” Munla said. Hariri would be willing to have politicians in cabinet but they should not be “the regular known faces of previous governments.”


Europe will face terror threat if Libya govt falls: Erdogan

Updated 22 sec ago

Europe will face terror threat if Libya govt falls: Erdogan

  • The article was published on the eve of a Libya peace conference in Berlin
  • Erdogan’s government backs Sarraj and the Turkish parliament approved the deployment of troops to Libya

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Europe it could face new threats from terrorist organizations if Libya’s UN-recognized government in Tripoli were to fall, in an article published in Politico on Saturday.

In the article, which was published on the eve of a Libya peace conference in Berlin, Erdogan said the EU’s failure to adequately support the Government of National Accord (GNA) would be “a betrayal of its own core values, including democracy and human rights.”

“Europe will encounter a fresh set of problems and threats if Libya’s legitimate government were to fall,” Erdogan wrote.

“Terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda, which suffered a military defeat in Syria and Iraq, will find a fertile ground to get back on their feet.”

The GNA led by Fayez Al-Sarraj has been under attack since April from strongman Khalifa Haftar’s forces based in the east of the country, with fighting killing over 280 civilians and 2,000 fighters.

In a joint initiative, Turkey and Russia have brokered a cease-fire but Haftar walked away from talks in Moscow this week aimed at finalizing the truce agreement.

A furious Erdogan has accused Haftar of fleeing Moscow and said he would “teach (him) a lesson” if he resumed fighting.

Erdogan’s government backs Sarraj and the Turkish parliament approved the deployment of troops to Libya earlier this month after the signing of a controversial security and maritime deal between Tripoli and Ankara.

“To leave Libya at the mercy of a warlord would be a mistake of historic proportions,” he said, in a veiled reference to Haftar.