In an exclusive interview with Doha News, a Lebanese official responds to a proposal for Lebanon put forward by the former Qatari prime minister.
The former Prime Minister of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, known commonly as HBJ, called on all Lebanese parties to prioritise the country’s national interest and accelerate the formation of government to overcome crises leading the country to abyss.
The proposition came in a series of tweets on Sunday as concerns rose over the dire situation in Beirut, exacerbated by a devastating port explosion that killed hundreds in August last year.
“Lebanon, dear to our hearts, does not need mediations from outside to get out of its current crisis, it needs all parties to unite and reach an agreement to solve the ongoing crisis,” Hamad bin Jassim said.
كي يخرج لبنان العزيز على قلوبنا من أزمته الراهنة فإنه لا يحتاج إلى وساطات من الخارج، بل يحتاج أن يجلس كل الفرقاء على الطاولة، لبحث مستقبل هذا البلد الجميل والذي كان دخل الفرد فيه في الستينات من الدول العشر الأوائل في العالم.
— حمد بن جاسم بن جبر (@hamadjjalthani) May 2, 2021
“I do not want to go into the reasons that drove Lebanon into this crisis because they are known to everyone,” he stated, adding that most Lebanese have already lost all their savings as a deterioration of the Lebanese pound continues to make life impossible for millions in Lebanon.
The Qatari official’s comments stem from a rich background on the Lebanese situation, Kassem Hachem, a Lebanese politician and a member of the Lebanese parliament told Doha News, referencing the 2008 Doha agreement that brought to an end an 18-month-long political crisis in Lebanon.
“The former Qatari PM definitely played a role that we appreciate in ending the 2008 Lebanese crisis and reaching a solution that all parties agree with. He has built his perspective on this basis.
“There are similarities between the two crises, although this year, it has come in various forms that have triggered other obstacles, ” he said.
However, the only solution to solve the Lebanese crisis is through cabinet formation, he added, echoing comments made by the Qatari official. Unfortunately state actors still prioritise personal interests over the national interest, he claimed.
“An urgent meeting by competent national authorities is definitely needed to find a solution,” Hachem said, responding to HBJ’s advice for all Lebanese factions to urgently come together and agree on a way out that will save the country and its people.
However, Hachem said the only possible way to reach an agreement is an internal, national determination to do so. Regardless of how hard foreign authorities attempt to help, he noted, the responsibility lies on the Lebanese people and authorities to form a new government.
“Of course no agreement will be reached without compatibility between Lebanon’s political factions, this is how the Lebanese system works,” Hachem affirmed.
Is a 2021 Doha agreement anticipated?
In another tweet, HBJ said “Lebanon’s politicians and sect leaders today need a place that brings them together and facilitates dialogue between them, so that they might reach a compromised solution that would relieve them of this destructive approach that has brought Lebanon to this situation.”
وعليه فإن ساسة لبنان وزعماء طوائفهم بحاجة اليوم لمكان يجمعهم ويسهل عليهم الحوار فيما بينهم لعلهم يتوصلون إلى صيغة توافقية تخرجهم من هذا النهج المدمر الذي أوصل لبنان لهذه الحال. ولا أريد أن أخوض أيضاً في تفاصيل الحل المأمول لأن هذا شأن اللبنانيين أنفسهم،
— حمد بن جاسم بن جبر (@hamadjjalthani) May 2, 2021
“I do not want to go into further details of the hoped-for solution because this is a matter for the Lebanese themselves,” he added.
Though the former official fell short of proposing Qatar mediation, Hachem said such an offer would be welcomed by Lebanon.
Meanwhile, member of the Lebanese Press Syndicate Council Ali Diab told Doha News that the former Qatari PM’s statements do not confirm an official initiative to propose another Doha agreement.
Instead, the tweet reads as mere advice to end the Lebanese crisis.
Last week, the caretaker Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, said his country “is going through a difficult phase and is missing a unified Arab effort.”
This came in a statement issued by Diab at the end of his three-day visit to Qatar, in which he met with different Qatari officials, including Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani.
“We found in Qatar what we are looking for, as our meetings took place within a framework of brotherhood. The State of Qatar assured us of its firm position on supporting Lebanon, its people, its security and stability,” he added without mentioning any further details on the results of his first trip since taking office.
Qatar has played a pivotal role in supporting Lebanon on its journey to reconciliation and has backed the country on several levels as it faced multiple crises. Doha enjoys good relations with various political parties in Lebanon.
The worst crisis since the 1975 Civil War
For more than a year, Lebanon has suffered with an economic crisis, described by experts as the worst since the end of the civil war in 1990, which has led to an unprecedented financial collapse.
This coincides with a political crisis and deadlock that has prevented the state from forming a new government and ending its troubles.
According to the World Bank, the poverty rate in Lebanon now exceeds 50% with most middle class citizens living below the poverty line.