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Why Lebanon Deserves International Support

Lebanon itself needs to resolve its political crisis and implement necessary economic and fiscal reforms. But the international community must provide ample and unequivocal financial support, not least because of the heavy burden the country is bearing as a result of the war in neighboring Syria.

BRATISLAVA – The news from Lebanon in recent weeks has been grim. As street protests in Beirut and other cities intensify, so does the country’s economic suffering. A political, economic, and social crisis has taken hold, leading to hard-currency shortages that hinder imports of vital daily commodities such as wheat, medicine, and fuel. Moreover, these problems are occurring against a backdrop of faltering economic growth and huge external debts. Local banks have imposed unprecedented capital controls, and thousands of Lebanese have recently lost their jobs or had their wages greatly reduced.

Seen from outside, there is only one viable solution: Lebanon itself needs to resolve its political crisis and implement necessary and overdue economic and fiscal reforms. But to succeed, the country needs the international community to back it financially.

At a conference in Paris in 2018, international donors pledged $11 billion in loans and grants to Lebanon, conditioned on the implementation of various reforms – a message donors recently reiterated. The formation of a functioning cabinet is a first step on that path, so that the international community can see effective government returning to the country. These conditions seem fair and in line with some of the protesters’ demands. At the same time, international support for Lebanon in its hour of need must be firm and unequivocal.

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