Middle East analysis
Powerplays In The Rubble: What Next for Lebanon?

- According to the World Bank, Lebanon is seeing an economic and financial disaster of historic proportions rarely seen since the mid-19th century.
- Most Lebanese today are newly poor, money is worthless and electricity, food, medicine, and water are all scarce commodities. 
- Lebanon still has no real government as rival corrupt politicians struggle for position, divvying up the crumbs of power, while the ultimate arbiter and hegemon, the terrorist group Hizbullah, looks on.

The best-case scenario seems to be that a coalition government will be formed soon, likely with former prime minister Saad Hariri, that will be able to turn the spigots of foreign aid back on. A few billion in hard currency from the West and some Arab states would then supposedly stabilize Lebanon – prop up the currency, promote good governance, and implement some reforms – and at least prevent it from collapsing further. Elections would then be held in 2022. That seems to be the theory. And this rosy scenario is supposed to unfurl while Hizbullah still remains in ultimate control and the same politicians that oversaw the Lebanese debacle in the first place remain on top.

A more likely worst-case scenario would be continued economic collapse, further delaying government formation intended to delay May 2022 parliamentary elections so that the same crowd can stay in power even longer. A collapse that leads to the implosion of remaining institutions and low-grade gang warfare. While someone like the despised presidential son-in-law Gibran Bassil, a key Hizbullah ally, maneuvers in the rubble to gain the presidency in October 2022. With maybe another Hizbullah war against Israel thrown in, following the conclusion of a new American-Iranian nuclear deal.

It does look like Lebanon will need a miracle to survive so it is then quite timely that Pope Francis will be meeting with Lebanese Christian religious leaders at the Vatican on July 1. 

This is a message of support to Lebanon and particularly to the Lebanese Maronite Catholic Patriarch Bechara Butros Al-Rahi who has chided politicians for failing to form a government, openly criticized Hizbullah, and urged that Lebanon pursue a policy of active neutrality, distancing itself from regional conflicts.


# Middle East # Lebanon
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