EU Policy and the Lebanese Protests: Filling the Gap
by Julian Vierlinger
As the Lebanese political crisis enters a new round, the EU should follow a dual objective of (1) helping Lebanon avoid defaulting and halting currency depreciation while at the same time (2) rendering financial aid conditional on the new government ensuring accountability and inclusion of protestors demands. The current situation—where Prime Minister-to be Hassan Diab has on the one hand gained his position mainly through Hezbollah and Amal support (weakening the country’s position in the face of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and more generally the US-dominated macro-economic institutions), but on the other has vowed to form a technocratic government in conversation with civil society—has produced workable conditions for such a EU strategy. Indeed, should PM Diab comply with conditions, the resulting technocratic, civil society-supported government could advance the agenda of democratisation (including electoral reforms already stipulated in the 2018 Action Plan, such as residence voting, and a move away from sectarian gerrymandering). Should he however refuse to comply, a default of the country would be interpreted as a failure of the “old elite”—and not of civil society—which would, in turn, keep the “playing field” open. At any rate, the EU should take recent Internal Security Forces (ISF) and Army mistreatment of peaceful protestors (both in terms of excessive force, arbitrary arrests, and allegations of torture) seriously, and suspend aid to Lebanese security forces until convincing investigations have been launched and guarantees are in place that inhibit such events from occurring again.
Advocating for a coherent
European foreign policy in
the MENA region