Lebanon in Crisis: Hard Realities and Recommendations for a Way Forward
Date(s) - 05/12/2022
10:00 am - 11:30 am
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Arab Center Washington DC
Director of Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs; Associate Professor of Practice (Political Studies), American University of Beirut
Regional Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division, International Republican Institute
Nonresident Senior Fellow at Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, The Atlantic Council; Nonresident Senior Fellow, Arab Center Washington DC
Economist and Public Policy Practitioner Specializing in the MENA Region
Senior Fellow and Director of Conflict Resolution & Track II Dialogues Program, Middle East Institute; Non-resident Fellow at the School of Advanced and International Studies (SAIS) Foreign Policy Institute, Johns Hopkins University
Imad K. Harb – Moderator
Director of Research, Arab Center Washington DC
About the Webinar
Two and a half years of successive political, economic, and social crises in Lebanon have made life in the country difficult and unpredictable. Lebanon’s much-vaunted political system that previously sought consensus among equally interested confessional elites has now failed to secure necessary compromises. Its economy is practically on life support, with its different sectors suffering from deep and serious deficits and the national currency practically becoming worthless for the average wage earner. The political and economic collapse has resulted in a parallel deterioration in important indicators, such as high unemployment, inflation, poverty, and crime, and increased prospects of frayed social relations and a collapsed society. Worsening the country’s prospects are weaker relations with regional Arab states that were always central for its political and economic stability. On May 15, Lebanon will conduct a much-awaited parliamentary election that may provide a needed incentive to renewing its democratic institutions. Both domestic and external forces have insisted on the necessity of this election without which no outside economic assistance is assured. Many in the country hope that the upcoming round may bring in at least some newcomers into parliament who are committed to change and will work toward creating and nourishing a new political practice that can help address what so far has been a culture of corruption, impunity, and lack of accountability.
Arab Center Washington DC is organizing this webinar to analyze the different aspects of political, economic, and social life in Lebanon today and answer some fundamental and serious questions about the failures of its political system and the causes of its economic collapse. Have Lebanon’s confessional elites simply run out of ways to compromise or have they simply lost interest in sustaining the system? What really are the reasons for the utter failure of Lebanon’s free market economy and what could be ways to ameliorate the collapse? What is the role of regional or international actors and institutions in reviving the economy? Where does Hezbollah stand vis-à-vis the obvious collapse, how responsible is it for it, and can the group be integrated within state institutions? What are the prospects for the upcoming parliamentary elections and will they bring the needed change to governance? What is the role of regional actors in both how the country got here and how it may be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel? What are recommendations for the United States and European countries to help Lebanon out of this crisis?
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