Washington, D.C.- On Tuesday, January 21, Lebanon’s new government was formed after 97 days of protests, which turned increasingly violent this past week.
On Wednesday, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed that Washington does “not know the answer yet” on whether or not it will work with the new Lebanese government, but ensured that it would support any government that reflects the will of the Lebanese people and is committed to anti-corruption and reform efforts.
“That’s the kind of government that we support around the world and the kind of government we would support in Lebanon,” Pompeo said.
Since the announcement of the Cabinet, protesters across the country have poured back into the streets, citing Diab and his Cabinet as a part of the ineffective political class that has caused the deep financial problems Lebanon has been facing for the past several decades. These protests differ from the previous months in regards to the unprecedented level of violence from and towards the protesters.
The concerns of In Defense of Christians are twofold.
First, the Internal Security Forces (ISF) verified use of rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons and other harmful methods are troubling. According to the Lebanese Red Cross, several hundred protesters have been hospitalized, with many of them sustaining permanent, life threatening injuries.
The demonstrators are becoming increasingly aggressive in their protests, they have begun rioting, vandalizing banks, destroying the property of media, and other acts of violence. Many Lebanese citizens continue to assert that these thuggish methods do not represent the majority of the protesters, and fear that more violence will ensue.
IDC calls on both the protestors and the government to make efforts in de-escalating the situation, specifically by avoiding any physical clashes and returning to dialogue.
Furthermore, IDC is concerned with the financial state of the country. In March, the country will need to make a decision regarding a $1.2 billion Eurobond that will be maturing. If this is not managed properly, the economic effects can and will be disastrous.
“IDC will be watching the new Cabinet very closely to see if they will be able to provide the economic and political reforms necessary to save the economy and end the rampant corruption,” said IDC President Toufic Baaklini.
Baaklini continued by saying, “Secretary Pompeo made a powerful point by stating that this new government needs to prove itself by committing to anti-corruption efforts, and we are all waiting to see their next steps.”