U.S. Official: No Bailout For Lebanon Without The Will To Reform

Insider | Zawya

There won’t be any international bailout for Lebanon, but government officials can unlock much-needed assistance if they show the will to reform, according to top U.S. diplomat David Hale.

Hale’s comments came in an interview with CNBC’s Hadley Gamble, in which he stated that there will be “substantial assistance for a reform program.”

“The key to opening the door is in the hands of Lebanese leaders,” said the former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

The challenge, which shouldn’t normally be one, is that Lebanese leaders must prove they can implement reforms in a way that international aid will not evaporate as it had in the past. 

Hale’s statements are similar to those heard since the beginning of Lebanon’s crisis. The solution is simple and it is in the hands of Lebanese officials: make reforms.

Yet, over a year into the economic crisis that hasn’t stopped aggravating, there has been no progress from the officials, just inertia and resistance.

Even a massive deadly explosion at the port of Beirut failed to manifest and catalyze the officials’ will to implement the critically needed reforms. Their priority continues to focus on the seats of power in the government.

Since his appointment in October, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has failed to form a rescue government as his proposals to President Michel Aoun have been met with bickering over the division of ministries. 

In a recent interview with Al-Jadeed, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea blasted those blocking the government’s progress. “Now is the time to build a government, not to block a government,” she said. 

Threats of sanctions on Lebanese politicians have become serious. Speaking to CNBC, former Lebanese Economic Minister Nasser Saidi said that “the only language Lebanese politicians will understand is personal sanctions on their own assets.”

Lebanon’s collapse is imminent, Hale stated. Sanctions are the only hope left to pressure officials to kick things into gear and get their country out of the danger zone; a step that France has recently decided to take.

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