The huge explosion in August in Beirut should have been a wake-up call for Lebanon’s leaders, but there’s little or no sign that a corrupt, sectarian political elite will make the social and economic reforms so badly needed.
The great powers have intervened in Lebanon since the 19th century, and its nominal sovereignty has often been compromised by its status as a buffer state.
Lebanon is governed by a political system that is regarded as a parliamentary democratic republic based on respect for public freedoms, with freedom of opinion and belief at the forefront of the Constitution.
The country is characterised by the adoption of a free economic system that guarantees individual initiative and private ownership.
Since Lebanon grew up it was suffering from political crises caused by the imbalance between its political system and its constituent society. The political system reflects the conditions of society, including class, religion, ethnic and even linguistic contradictions, regional or international disparities or loyalties, or external interventions.
For a society to be stable, it is essential that the political system reflects its interests, objectives, cultural and social values, so that the political elite becomes a mirror of social forces, and represents them.
When State institutions are unable to do so, the state is faced with a crisis resulting from a lack of existence.
The Lebanese political system is unique in a complex format; it is a democratic republican system in terms of form, but by contrast, it is a consensual inter-communal system in which basic positions are distributed under constitutional custom.
The Taif Agreement is the name known as the Lebanese National Reconciliation Document drawn up between the parties to the conflict in Lebanon and approved by law on 22 December 1989, ending the civil war in Lebanon.
Corruption of the Lebanese leaders
The “imperfect” application of the Taif Agreement has contributed to strengthening the concept of division rather than national unity. The deterioration of the economic situation has led to the poverty of Lebanese citizens and the spread of unemployment, while the wealth of some of the people increased.
When the sectarian system switches from hegemony to conflagration, and corruption became part of the system’s governance, distribution was made on the doctrinal basis in the state’s substrates and public institutions, which deepened the sectarian redistribution with which the class distribution was replaced.
The general financial crisis became a reality on the ground when power poles share in the benefits of the economy, and leaders wasted the resources of the service ministries they control to be used for political clients away from development goals, and the costs and benefits of the security services and military and security commanders that have been growing year after year.
Given the fragility of the Lebanese economy, which is based primarily on the service sector, tourism, deposit flow and external capital and is predominantly consumer-driven, successive political crises, wars, internal divisions and regional differences have played a major role in its upward and downward growth in the past decades.
Corruption cases against the Lebanon Central Bank governor in France and Switzerland
The Lebanese economy is now at risk of being carved up. The de facto freezing of bank deposits, a completely unconstitutional measure, is evidence of a ‘bank critic’ regime like no other in the world and contrary to human rights. This is the result of poor management of the banking sector and of a central bank that has been run by the same man for almost 30 years.
Since the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2019, the Governor of the Central Bank and the godfather of Lebanon’s fiscal policies since 1993 has been the bearer of the crisis, despite the judicial suspicions raised against him in Switzerland and France, and Lebanon’s discriminatory public defender.
Since January 2020, Switzerland’s Federal Prosecutor has raised doubts about his possible involvement in “the commission of serious money-laundering operations, in connection with the possible embezzlement of funds at the expense of the Bank of Lebanon,” which opened the door for the discriminatory public defender, Judge Jean Tnus, to question Salama on 5 July 2021.
In France, which Salama carries its nationality, in June 2021 two complaints emerged about the wealth of safety, including criminal conspiracy and money-laundering, and the French Public Prosecutor’s Office asked its financial police to conduct investigations into these charges.
There is an international and regional dimension to the Lebanese economic and political crisis that is reflected in the positions of the influential countries in Lebanon, first and foremost the United States and France.