Lebanon political crisis and the next

According to western media, Lebanon’s Hezbollah Chief wished that the next Lebanese President should be a politician who won’t betray his party and assail the United States for its undeclared siege of his country. While addressing his supporters through a video link on Hezbollah’s Martyrs Day, Hassan Nasrallah said that his group wants a president that does not stab the resistance in the back but reassures the resistance against foreign intruders and their supporters.

The Republic of Lebanon is facing one of the world’s worst economic and fiscal crises in the last one and a half centuries. The country’s economy has contracted by 60% since 2019, which accounts for one of the biggest contractions among 193 economies across the world during this time. Presently, Lebanon is the third highest indebted country in the world in terms of debt-to-GDP ratio, while the war in Ukraine and the global energy crisis pushed 75% population of the country into acute food insecurity and nearly a quarter below the poverty line.

Amid such economic fragility, the West Asian nation is battling internal political instability and the belligerency of a powerful Hezbollah leader who occupies political as well as military mass in the country’s politics.

Historically, Muslim-majority Lebanon had been a center of chaos, political instability, and sectarian division in the past. The political power-sharing mechanism has been devised on religious/ sectarian grounds through which the premiership has been allotted to Sunni Muslims, the House Speaker elected from the Shia sect and Presidency has been assigned to the Christian community in the country.

The sect-based political system has promoted nepotism and corruption because each leader tries to support his particular sect in government jobs, services, contracts, and other privileges that not only destroyed the institutions but further intensified the economic crisis.

As for as Hezbollah is concerned, the decades-long Lebanon-Israel war had provided a fertile environment for Shia armed group to emerge as an alternative to the Lebanese military, and create a parallel center of power in the country by establishing its stronghold in society, politics, and government. Presently, Hezbollah and its popular leader, Hassan Nasrullah are important figures in Lebanese politics and remained instrumental in satisfying the country’s energy needs from Iran, dealing with security issues with Israel as well as evading threats from ISIS to the country.

At the time, Lebanon has struck into a deadlock over the election of the President whose slot lies vacant after former President Michael Aoun quit office on October 31. The 128-member parliament failed to elect President for the consecutive fifth time. According to experts, Hassan Nasrullah and his party support former President and close ally Sleiman Frangieh for the post of President, so far, Frangieh faces stern resistance from an independent MP Michael Moawad, and failed to win the contest.

Presently, the cleric wants an easy-go man in the office of Lebanese President who voluntarily curtails his anti-America and anti-Israel doctrine, while Lebanon needs such a statesman who carefully calibrates through multiple issues including debt servicing and loan restructuring, peaceful gas exploration at the Lebanon-Israel border, friendly relations with the west to deal with the global lenders to resolve Lebanon’s economic crisis, hence the wish of influential clearly contradicts national interests, however, the time would illustrate the trends of Beirut’s politics in the future.