US Official: ‘No Assistance For Lebanon’ Before Government Formation

A United States Embassy Official in Lebanon has publically announced that “any new government must be credible and capable of implementing the reforms demanded by the Lebanese people” if the country wishes to receive “assistance” from the United States in the coming difficult period the country is facing.

The statement made over the weekend, and reported on by The Daily Star, targeted Lebanon’s government formation without any further comments being made on the shape or form of the new Cabinet.

The official stated, “The true test of any government would be in its actions.”

The official went on to elaborate: 

As we [the United States] have previously said, Lebanese leaders need to commit to and implement the reforms necessary to respond to the Lebanese people’s demands for an end to endemic corruption, better governance, and economic opportunity.”

Hassan Diab has been attempting to form a government since his designation as Lebanon’s new Prime Minister in December 2019. He has pledged to form a “small cabinet” constituted of independent experts who do not have any partisan or political ties with Lebanon’s major political parties.

The main demand of the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have taken to the streets since October 2019 is that the decades-old confessional ruling system is dismantled along with the removal of a corrupt and abusive political elite.

Although Diab has been met with opposition from major Lebanese political parties, particularly the Free Patriotic Movement of Gebran Bassil and the Amal Movement of Nabih Berri, according to reports, he is consistently optimistic about the formation of the government.

He has quite often stated it will be formed “before the end of the week” without anything materializing.

The US Embassy official said, “A credible government would be one that is broadly perceived by the Lebanese people as such, that will act in their interests, and is able to restore international confidence in Lebanon.”

He went on to stress that “unless this type of government is formed, no future international assistance for Lebanon will be unlocked,” and that there is “a strong international consensus on this point.”

The US official renewed Washington’s call for all sides to refrain from violence and for authorities to respect the right to peaceful protest and for the Lebanese people to make these rightful demands.

Across the past week, violence on multiple nights inside and outside Lebanon’s capital has intensified. Internal Security Forces were heavily criticized for excessive use of violence, including violence against journalists.

Caretaker Interior Minister Raya El-Hassan has since publically apologized for the use of unnecessary violence against members of the press. (How about the people?)

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