Lebanon between Agony & Death: From Uprising to Explosion

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Date : 10/14/2020

Speaker Name: Dr. Joseph Bahout

Following the Beirut port explosion in August, Dr. Joseph Bahout joined the Fares Center to offer a timely seminar. The Director of the Issam Fares Institute (IFI) at AUB, Dr. Bahout has long studied the regional and domestic crises which have rocked his country, and shared his thoughts on how Lebanon might escape the upheaval that currently ensnares it. 

Dr. Bahout began by touching on the broad sociology of the October 2019 uprising, and how Lebanon and its “new generation” have hurtled toward an uncertain future since the beginning of the Beirut political crisis.  

Bahout followed this topic by analyzing the subsequent economic collapse, which he stated has been only further exacerbated by Hezbollah’s place at the heart of the sanction system.  In terms of any sustainable options for recovery, Dr. Bahout suggested that the first step is to minimize the cleavage between three groups: those who believe Hezbollah should offer coverage of the Lebanese economy, those who wish for a centralized economy, and those who state that a return to the laissez-faire economy of Lebanon’s past is the only way forward. 

While Bahout admitted there is a certain degree of regional resolution occurring, the parts of civil society which believe regional dynamics will save Lebanon are “living in a state of denial”. He further argued that as the country’s collapse becomes more radicalized, the peoples of Lebanon should not depend on any Western “salvation” – particularly from the U.S or France. Dr. Bahout concluded his talk with a powerful point: any outside solution cannot be called as such if it will also re-legitimize Hezbollah. 

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