During the first session of the new cabinet, headed by President Michel Aoun in the Presidential Palace, Prime Minister Hassan Diab stated: “My first round [of trips] after the confidence-giving session will be in the Arab region, especially the Gulf.”
Notably, this is the second time that PM Diab publicly makes this assertion, aiming at maintaining good diplomatic relations with those countries.
His “first round” of trips represents his first step in gaining the endorsement of the international community, which has over the years, especially recently in light of the ongoing revolution, grown very dubious about the policies of Lebanon’s governors.
That is why President Aoun affirmed, when he addressed the new cabinet, “the need to work to address the economic situation, restore the confidence of the international community in Lebanese institutions, and work to reassure the Lebanese of their future.”
Now that the government is formed and ready to function, all eyes – local and international – will be on the actions of the ministers generally, and on those of PM Hassan Diab especially.
So far, France and Switzerland have announced their intention to help Lebanon and support the new government, with Switzerland insisting on efficient work and transparency.
In addition to the fact that PM Diab was appointed in the midst of an intense popular uprising, he is and will remain to be under heavy scrutiny by the Lebanese people because of the promises he had made to them in his first speech upon becoming Prime Minister of Lebanon.
And whether or not he attains the approval he needs from the regional and international powers is, of course, meaningless and worthless if he doesn’t attain that of his own people.
The revolution is still ongoing and the protesters are closely watching and following the political play as its events unfold.
Needless to say, if PM Diab did listen to the voices of the revolting people as he has implied in his first speech, and if the uprising does represent him as he has maintained, then he must do all that is necessary to gain their trust. And that is by giving them what they need.
If that is granted, local and international confidence and approval will follow naturally. If not, however, and the country is plunged into a deeper pit of chaos and turmoil, then no amount of confidence can keep him in his position.
The series of meetings that the Prime Minister held on Thursday with various ministers, including those of Finance, Labor, and Public Works, aimed to discuss “setting the path for the government to restore citizens’ confidence.”
As it should, PM Diab’s plan has been, since day one, to get Lebanon back on its feet and improve the living conditions of its people. But only time will tell whether or not he will prove to be up to this major challenge.
The pressure is mountainous as is the responsibility, and there is no room for error, procrastination, or failure at this critical time.