I wrote the news newspaper
The “importance” of the Paris conference for “helping Lebanon” does not lie in the existence of a “humanitarian detour” around the country after the August 4 explosion, but in the two political messages that it brought out. First, Paris succeeded in convincing the United States that the fall of the Lebanese structure was strengthening Iranian influence within it. Secondly, preventing a complete fall does not mean floating the existing authority in its current form. A conference whose primary goal was not fundraising, as evidenced by the final number: less than 300 million dollars are still just “pledges”.
36 countries participated in the “International Conference to Aid and Support Beirut and the Lebanese People,” which was held via the Internet, organized and administered by France, and an American “blessing”. Donald Trump did not send a representative on his behalf. Rather, he participated personally. During the meeting, he referred to the “ties between Lebanon and America,” noting that “we are working closely with France to address the effects of this incident, and we will continue, and we are committed to helping to overcome difficult circumstances.” This constitutes a partial break from the siege that was imposed on the political authority. Even if the “donors” repeated repeatedly that the aid would go directly to the Lebanese, in the end, those who were invited to the conference were not “civil society” or non-governmental organizations, but President Michel Aoun, and his meeting was coordinated with the Presidency of the Republic and the crisis cell in the government, and he urged The authorities in charge of initiating the reforms promised to the people. The IMF also delivered its “demands” to the donors ’conference, which in practice are steps that are supposed to be approved by the executive and legislative authorities, which means that“ coordination ”with state institutions will impose itself. This is one of the conference’s main messages: The “international community” does not want Lebanon to collapse completely.
The port explosion led to a local and external “shock”, which required intervention at the highest levels. Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Beirut was not “marginal”, and the same applies to the visit of the President of the Council of the European Union, Charles Michel, although the official for humanitarian affairs in the Union is usually dispatched to inspect the afflicted countries. The second message from the conference was expressed the day before yesterday by an official in the French presidential palace to “Reuters”, who reported that Macron told Trump that “American pressure policies could be exploited by Hezbollah.” And the same concerns previously warned “Israel” (see “Al-Akhbar,” issue of August 7). The “graduation” was with aids related to “social security”: medicine and health, education, food.
In addition, the conference was absent from hostile political positions, with the exception of the words of the representative of the United Arab Emirates, who recounted the Israeli narrative, linking the aid and the control of the Lebanese authority over the airport and the port, “and the implementation of Resolution 1701, which calls for the disarmament of all armed groups.”
However, this “gesture” does not mean the authority’s “instrument of innocence”. The decision to brake the “revitalization” of the economy through financial transfers is still in place, and its most prominent manifestation was the amount presented yesterday, compared to the size of the damages. Macron’s office announced that France had secured pledges from participating countries worth 252.7 million euros (nearly 290 million dollars). The second point is that the aid was limited to the humanitarian field. As for the reconstruction, they talked about “laying down plans,” and follow-up sources believe that their implementation may be delayed until a new government is formed. And diplomatic sources consider that after “solidarity” with the Lebanese people, the lesson remains in the implementation. “Yesterday, the aid was approved, but how much of it will be spent?” And when? Will you postpone the formation of a national unity government, as France wants? ».
The closing statement of the conference stated that “the partners are ready to support the economic and financial advancement of Lebanon within the framework of a strategy to achieve stability, and the commitment of the Lebanese authorities to swiftly implement measures and reforms.” The attendees agreed that “their aid should be swift, adequate, and proportionate to the needs of the Lebanese people, well coordinated under the leadership of the United Nations, and to be delivered directly to the Lebanese people.” The Beirut explosion was “a shock to the Lebanese people and to its friends and partners abroad”. Therefore, “and at the request of Lebanon, assistance for an impartial, reliable and independent investigation of the August 4 blast is an immediate need and is available.”
The conference opened with a speech by the French President that “we must mobilize all possible capabilities to help the Lebanese people.” He spoke about a transparent investigation, and repeated frequently the word “the Lebanese people”, and stressed that “the aid should go directly to where people need it on the ground, with the participation of the International Monetary Fund and other institutions.”
As for President Michel Aoun, he affirmed his commitment to “achieving justice, and that no one is above the law.” He recalled his pledge to “fight corruption and reform, and despite all obstacles, concrete measures have begun, with the financial and criminal investigation being the first, which will not be limited to a single institution.”
For her part, Director-General of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, said that the Beirut explosion “comes at a difficult time in which Lebanon suffers from deep economic and social challenges, exacerbated by the epidemic.” What is required is “unity of purpose in Lebanon, and for all institutions to unite to implement reforms.” Among the things required: «First, the sustainability of debt as one of the conditions for lending and that the financial system is solvency. Those who have previously benefited from the excessive returns must share the burden of bank recapitalization to ensure depositors’ savings are protected. Second, the passage of a law that legislates capital controls in the banking system and abolishes the multiple exchange rate system. Third, conducting a comprehensive audit in the key institutions, including the Central Bank. Fourth, establishing an expanded social safety network to protect the most vulnerable Lebanese people. She concluded that it is the moment “at which Lebanese policymakers must take decisive action. The fund is ready to help. ”