President Emmanuel Macron will try to revive a French initiative on Lebanon when he hosts an international aid conference on Wednesday, but with the country’s nasty political class struggles for a breakthrough seem slim.
Four months after a massive explosion that killed more than 200 people and destroyed parts of the capital, Lebanon is nowhere near forming a credible government to overhaul the bankrupt state despite French efforts to persuade politicians to introduce partial reforms to meet the emergency.
France, the United States and other donors who have repeatedly come to Lebanon’s aid since the 1975-90 civil war are losing patience with their politicians, many of them famous faces responsible for the country’s downturn in economic crisis.
“There will be many tough messages about the severity of the crisis and how Lebanon cannot cut back on reform measures,” a diplomatic source told the conference. “But it will be easy on real commitments.”
Several heads of state and government will be with the UN and will participate in the video conference.
Macron, a naturally allied Lebanon is a former French colony, has invested a lot of political capital in trying to break the deadlock and promises not to give up the Lebanese.
He will visit French troops working as part of a UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon around December 20, diplomats said.
After seeing deadlines for forming a government card and political talks stalled, Macron chose to move on to a relief conference to take stock of the situation.
However, officials have made it clear that Lebanon will not be saved without reforms and that all support is only to help the recovery. A similar conference in August raised almost € 253 million ($ 298 million) in collateral.
A fund managed by the World Bank will also be created in the coming weeks to channel humanitarian aid through UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.
“When there is no Plan B, France always organizes a conference,” said a Western diplomat, adding that the situation in Lebanon would probably not develop until a new US government was in place.