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Lebanon. Bitter Cedars

The internal security is at high risk. The central institutions are moving towards extinction. Lebanon continues to remain without a president of the republic. Millions of refugees old and new.

The Lebanese security situation is becoming more and more dangerous. There are almost daily signals confirming that the country is heading into a very dangerous situation depending on what is happening with the inside views of the different parties or through what is going on all around the Middle East, especially in Syria. Somehow Lebanon contributes to the transfer of the Syrian war into its own territory; it has been stated by both the military commander and the defense minister “we have entered a phase of the war on terror”.

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Lebanon lives the war without having to be involved physically. The institutions of the Lebanese Republic are facing extinction, the House of Representatives is disabled. There is no effective government, and soon, we will get to the presidential elections and the fear of many people is that they will not be held. There is no doubt that Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s return to Beirut has stirred the stagnant political atmosphere, and given forceful support to the movement of communication that has emerged in the wake of the Parisian settlement; this and the adoption of Samir Geagea, and the nomination of Michel Aoun for the presidency.
It is impossible for any concerned party in the Lebanese political affairs to deny the impact of the Saudi Arabia role and Iran on major Lebanese developments. What is happening in Syria and the outcome that will end the crisis in this country is one of the landmarks that will shape the next stage not only for Lebanon, but also for all countries in the region. Lebanon needs to move on from the stage of anticipation and waiting to take action through the activation of government intervention and the pumping of blood from the veins of the Chamber of Deputies, where there are dozens of projects awaiting in drawers in need of discussion and approval. Also the need to state and undertake the need to deal seriously with the municipal elections and the non-mainstream extension of this vital development. Especially now that there are dozens of municipalities dissolved and the same number of municipalities that do not work, at a time when Lebanon needs more than ever development and progress. The situation on the Syrian side of the Lebanese border is mostly located under control of the Lebanese organization and is not controlled by the Syrian faction.

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The Arab decisions began to affect the classification of Lebanon after Hezbollah was nominated as a terrorist organization. The Arab League has also followed the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council and classified Hezbollah as a terrorist organization against the backdrop of its involvement in fighting and intervening in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other Arab countries. Both Lebanese Foreign Minister, Gebran Bassil and Iraq’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and observations from the Algerian Foreign Minister opposed this decision.
There was also a decision to stop the Saudi Arabia financial donation, which was scheduled for the Lebanese army with a value of three billion dollars. And then came the Bahraini decision to deport a number of Lebanese people who were in the UK because of the affiliation of these with  help or sympathy towards Hezbollah.
This along with the UAE decision that preceded the Bahraini decision by a few weeks and the recent open trial of some of the people on the background of the formation of  Hezbollah gatherings in the UAE.

Syrians Refugees

On the political side it seems that the Arab decisions are intended to trap Hezbollah politically so that its relationship will be found very burdensome for Lebanese parties, and for its allies, especially for the Free Patriotic Movement and the Amal movement. At the economic level decisions to deport some Lebanese from the Gulf states and the development of media outlets and its connections with regulations-targeting will also have a serious impact. And if the decision evolved into a ‘do step’ where the Gulf states proceeded to pull the financial deposits from Lebanon or stop flights, the economic pain will be deeper and much more serious still. On one side it will be a kind of political trapping and on another the confusion of the party accounts.
In brief the list of projects on the future formula for Syria will, without a doubt, affect the image of the surrounding states, especially the millions of displaced Syrians that now pose a direct impact factor in this trend.

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From here and because the settlement phase had begun, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon started to visit the capitals of the region, and he holds one file: Displaced Syrians. In Lebanon, the task seems more difficult and Syrians refugees now make up more than a third of the Lebanese people and if we add to them the number of Palestinians refugees, their  numbers will reach half of those of the Lebanese. This means the demise of the concept of a structural idea to Lebanon itself. In the diplomacy scenario the US President Barack Obama is putting pressure on his team to accomplish a settlement in Syria before his departure from the White House.

Which future ?

In regard to Lebanon nothing is clear, and the Lebanese agenda is not on the table at this stage except to preserve stability and the necessity of holding the election of a new president without going into too much detail. It was said that the visit of Ban Ki-moon to Lebanon, knowing that it was intended primarily for the agenda of displaced Syrians, will also help to negotiate the need for the presidential election because of words whispered about the possibility of a decision by the United Nations in this direction. Of course, the focus of the diplomatic moves is in the direction of pressure on Hezbollah to soften its position amid appropriate regional circumstances, both economic and administrative. That issue needs appropriate timing with the current stage of adjustment and major deals and may lead small groups on, those that share losses as profit taxes are usually divided among bigger groups.

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In terms of the Lebanese economy, the Central Bank of Lebanon is always available and supports state funding. And there are no risks for Lebanese banks because of the events in Syria. The World Bank identified the direct cost of the Syrian crisis incurred by Lebanon at about $3.1 billion and the indirect cost at about $4 billion. The security situation in Lebanon, which reached its highest degree of risk during the vicious cycle that goes on in the ambience of the presidential election, and depends on the course of the crisis in Syria to determine the direction of the presidential wind in Lebanon. The idea is that international attention to Lebanon’s stability goal is to keep it displaced and thus avoid their left tendencies turning towards Europe. There is all of this and yet Lebanon is still the symbol of coexistence, tourism and the country of holiness and hope to overcome all the crises. Now we ask how long Lebanon will remain constrained by the policy of others; in other words when will Lebanon have its own actual independence based on the decisions of its own people?.

Jean Pierre Tohme
Micheline El Missan                                                                                                                                                     

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