As promised, Mr. Macron returned to Lebanon 23-24 days after his last visit on August 6, 2020 (which took place just 2 days post-explosion).
Everyone was glued to his/her TV to watch him. Some people hugged him on the street. He is definitely the most famous politician in Beirut :).
Mr. Macron will be coming back to Lebanon in December. Until then, he is putting more pressure on the Lebanese authorities, insisting that they form a government within 15 days only (usually, it takes them an endless time to veto or fight for political power).
Now, surprisingly, they all agreed to nominate a new PM on the eve of Mr. Macron’s visit. His name is Mr. Mustapha Adib. Bambi has never heard of him before and she is not the only one. He seems to have been the political advisor of a former PM who, in turn, nominated him as the Ambassador of Lebanon in Berlin. He was born in Tripoli. He is 48-year-old (his birthday was two days ago). He has a PhD in law and political science. His spouse is French and they have five children (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mustapha_Adib_(politician). If Bambi understands the news well, he seems to be supported by France and Iran (+ other countries) whilst the USA is fine with him (it does not want to veto his name, so to speak).
There has been a shocking abuse of the freedom of press during the day of parliamentary consultations to nominate a PM. Specifically, the Lebanese MTV channel (one of the most highly respected mainstream media!) was prevented from covering the day-long event at the Presidential Palace. Can you imagine? The good news is that EVERYONE in Lebanon denounced this censorship (independent MPs like Ms. Paula Yaakoubian, other political figures, the media, the population on social media, etc.)!
Related to freedom, as you can see below, it seems that Hezbollah’s Mr. Nasrallah is asking to boycott Arab channels like Sky News – Arabic and Al Arabiya– Al Hadath. He is even threatenening to prevent them from broadcasting.
The attack on the freedom of the press is VERY worrisome. Bambi is against boycott in life because she believe in the freedom of thoughts and choice.
This being said, to come back to the new PM, Dr. Adib, two thoughts come to Bambi’s mind: All the Lebanese political fractions agree on his nomination, even if he seems to lack the political experience to lead a complex country like tiny, bankrupt, corrupt, and vulnerable Lebanon (on all fronts, namely public health, internal security, and geopolitical risk). Why is that in reality? Is it because he will be a good cover for their corruption OR just useless and this suits them? Who knows? Perhaps he will surprise Lebanon and the world with his magical efficacy, even if that same old corrupt system is still running the show. One thing good that this new PM did was to go talk to the people affected by the explosion on the streets. No Lebanese politician has dared to do this yet (only Mr. Macron and twice thus far!).
Anyhow, time will tell what will happen in Beirut… Until then, may Tamara’s mom and her 199 fellow citizens who lost their lives rest in peace. May the 6500 injured people heal. Best wishes to those left on their own to repair their destroyed homes, businesses, and/or cars.
May Lebanon finally know how to end impunity in order to truly reform itself in all sectors, namely financial (i.e., banking, etc.), political, and legal. It is hard to start or know from where to start the clean-up. However, one thing is sure in life and we know it from key theories of change of behaviours: Intention to change has to precede any plan of action. We also know that the resistance to change can be too powerful in its toxicity. Despite this, a change is overdue. If not, the alternative would be a clear take-over… or eventually civil unrest, especially if key external players come into play (like what happened in Syria). More than ever, Lebanon needs to hang on to its sovereignty in its institutions, borders, and a prosperous vision for the future. Lebanon, and especially the Lebanese people (i.e., their safety and well-being) must come first, that is before any loyalty to external ideologies or regional forces (from Iran, Syria, Russia, to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, or other).
As for Mr. Macron, during his very busy 48-hour-trip to Lebanon, he offered the diva Fairuz the “Legion of Honour”, which is the highest official French honour. Among her famous songs in the Arab world are: Li Beirut as well as Bihabek ya Loubnan. The latter means: “I love you Lebanon“. It is with these cute yet apparently heart-felt words, (pronounced incredibly well) that France President chose to end his last press conference before taking the plane back to Paris. Mr. Macron seems to have continuity in his thoughts. He began his second trip to Lebanon by honouring Fairuz.
In addition to his numerous meetings meant to oversee the work/coordination of volunteers and the 700 helping French soldiers as well as his encounters with the population on the streets, his meetings with politicians/key national figures, and with the singer Fairuz, Mr. Macron took the time to plant a cedar. He did so to celebrate Lebanon’s 100th birthday, as a symbol of hope. Once again, he gave hope to the people of Lebanon. This being sad, some young people decided to take the streets to demonstrate, asking him not to deal with the criminals in power (see further below, video in French).
One thing is sure, the people of Lebanon are far from being naive, even when they seem to want to believe in a saviour (like Mr. Macron). People know the issues of their country too well. Same for Mr. Macron, most likely. Despite this, he seems to be willing to take the risk when it comes to show his support to the Lebanese people. However, even with the purest intentions in the world, can he help Lebanon in reforming to be able to save itself?
Will it accept to reform finally? If so or if at all possible still, why did the Lead Lebanon Negotiator for IMF resign on August 30, 2020? According to Bloomberg, “he is the third ministry official to quit over Lebanon’s response to its financial crises” (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-30/lead-lebanon-negotiator-for-imf-and-eurobond-restructuring-quits). What are the next steps for Lebanon? How will it succeed in re-building the trust with its own people and, one day again, with any investor?