BEIRUT: In his latest op-ed, Dan Azzi, a retired senior banker-turned colleague, sheds light on how fragile Lebanon’s financial system is, particularly if it falls on the wrong side of the US when it comes to punitive measures against Hezbollah and sanctions aimed at drying up the Iranian-backed militant group’s finances.
Dan concludes his article with a question; do these upcoming sanctions feature on the agenda of the ongoing negotiations over the Cabinet formation or are our political leaders simply bickering over their share of the pie?
The answer to Dan’s question, I believe, explains Lebanon’s government paralysis.
Simply put, the concealed struggle over the extent of Hezbollah’s role in the Lebanese government and state institutions amid a US-led economic war against Iran and its proxies across the region has put brakes on the Cabinet formation talks as uncertainties mount over what the near future holds for Lebanon.
For instance, how will a divided Cabinet weather potential US sanctions targeting its members or specific portfolios such as the Health Ministry, which Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri reportedly agreed to allocate to a Hezbollah partisan?
Hezbollah seems to have made up its mind. Instead of showing flexibility, the party of God went on the offensive. Not only is Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah demanding the allocation of key portfolios to its party, but also insists on representing his Sunni allies in the Cabinet, a deal breaker for Hariri who is now being blamed for obstructing the Cabinet formation.
Hezbollah’s hardened position is indicative of a larger trend that has marked the history of Iran’s post-Islamic revolution and its strategies across the region: Tehran and its proxies rarely make concessions under pressure.
Syria, Iraq, and Yemen are striking examples. This leaves Hariri with two bitter choices: To play along or be forced to step down. Both scenarios point to a gloomy era in Lebanon’s history.
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