Saad Hariri’s blazing comeback turns Lebanon full-circle

  • + Same old Saad Hariri appointed for a fourth term as Prime Minister 
  • + Appointment newly leaves a traumatised Lebanon 
  • + Corruption, Hezbollah, economic depression continues to be Lebanon’s menu
Saad Hariri
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Why is Hariri’s heat level blazing? 

Answer? Has been appointed as Prime Minister of Lebanon for his fourth term 

President Michel Aoun tasked Saad Hariri to form a new government after Mustapha Adib, the previous Prime Minister quitted last month. Adib’s resignation was triggered by his failure to form a government at a time when the country is struggling with a host of problems, compounded as well with the straw that broke the camel’s back, which was the explosion, last August. The colossal explosion was caused by the detonation of 2.750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, that were unsafely stored at a warehouse in the port. Previous to this latter event, the collateral effects of Covid-19 has cast more than half of the population into poverty. This tiny country with only 4 million people, is recording more than 1000 new cases a day, according to their Health Ministry. As a result, hospital beds are nearing full capacity. 

Subsequently, the economic crisis they are facing is brutal. The local currency has lost more than 80% of its value against the dollar, inflation is skyrocketing, fuel is scarce, gas stations are rationing their supplies, poverty and hunger are increasingly widespread…

A long, horrifying and hopeless list that has now been presented at the top-front of Hariri’s “to do” things. Moreover, after the explosion left any part of the city destroyed and uninhabitable, billions are needed to resurrect the city on top of the $10 billion bailouts Lebanon has sought from the IMF to revive the economy and pay its bills. For the luck of some, Hariri’s past three-terms as Prime Minister has proven that he is an ally of the West and has been traditionally backed by Saudi Arabia, hence many believe that he will be able to shell out some money into the country. Though, the international community, especially France and the United States have conditioned any aid to Lebanon on deep-rooted reforms that would directly touch the heart of the political elite. 

There is still a very important aspect that has been taking place in Lebanon since October 2019, and these have been the revolts against the government, precisely the ones that forced Hariri to resign. So how come that the same government that was kicked out by his own people is now back again in power? 

Who is changing Hariri’s temperature? 

Answer: Revolutionaries try but the genesis Hariri himself installed is constantly winning

To better understand the reasons lying behind all the fuss created by the appointment of Saad Hariri as Prime Minister of Lebanon, we have to go back a few years. To start with, Hariri is the son of Rafik Hariri former Lebanese prime minister, who on the morning of 14th February 2005, whilst travelling in a motorcade past the St. George Hotel in downtown Beirut was assassinated when a bomb hidden in a van exploded. The killing brought tens of thousands of demonstrations against the pro-Syrian government, which led to the government’s resignation and Syrian troops were pulled out of Lebanon two months after the fatal event. The United Nations set up the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to investigate the killings. Such court found that a member of the militant group Hezbollah was guilty of involvement in the assassination, last 18th of August. 

However, all of the pitilessness and grievance started to fade away when Hariri installed the genesis of Lebanon’s multitude crisis. Corruption, inefficiency and sectarian politics.

It is evident that his political career has turned full-circle. And as such, it has undeniably flown in the face of demonstrators, which for a year have consistently called out for the removal of Hariri and the entire ruling elite, which foster nothing more but a mendacious political system. However, Hariri has demonstrated its ability to overcome all types of adversaries that aim to topple his mandate. His first term in office ended in 2011, caused by Hezbollah due to the release of this organisation’s names as suspects for Rafik Hariri’s death. However, in 2016 he returned to power. 

It was during this second-term when his wing of corruption started to flutter. He returned to power after agreeing to a controversial deal, which granted the keys of the presidential palace to Michel Aoun, known to be an unwavering political ally to Hezbollah. Hence, not only did he expose Lebanon to the influence of Hezbollah but he was taken to a meeting in Saudi Arabia, with the Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, who was linked to the murder of a columnist from the Washington Post in Turkey (2018). Consequently, the potential links with the potential murder and the former case of corruption provoked rage across the country, forcing him to resign the premiership. 

With all of this in mind, Lebanese people find themselves heartbroken. When things couldn’t get any worse, a massive explosion occurred, which was blamed on corruption. The corruption that Lebanon’s ruling class has endured for years, the lead carried by Hariri. 

What is driving Saad Hariri?

Answer: The need to stop the Lebanese train to the abyss 

Rage and disappointment are bubbling emotions due to the confirmation that the victim’s blood has “gone in vain and no one will pay the price”. As Fatima Al-Mahmoud, a freelance journalist wrote on Twitter.

Source: Arab News

The desperation of people to find some type of change and the creation of a new government that did not follow the traditional political elites or were influenced by Hezbollah was all in vain. For many the 22nd of October, the day of Hariri’s appointment was definitely a “Saad” day for Lebanon, as calls for radical change in governance have all gone unheard. 

Hariri’s main priority now is to dismount the bullet train Lebanon finds itself heading towards the abyss. To do so, he faces the challenging task to cure international support and basically abide by international pressures, such as the plan drafted by Macron, that if accepted could unlock billions of dollars in aid promised to the country. 

What does this mean for you? 

Answer: Continuous social, political and economic unrest 

In short, the shock that this appointment has had on protesters and the fact that Lebanese people already know his weak points, Hariri will undoubtedly prompt rage in the country and increase scepticism about Lebanon’s future. The decision to bring this figure as Prime Minister again was a decision taken by the country’s traditional political forces, which have been the ones causing the recent explosion and the economic disintegration. 

The poor hope shared by the Lebanese population shows that it needs a 360 detour and hopefully international aid to regain its prosperity. 

Berta Pereda Asencio

Research & Analysis Writer