Skip to main content

The Middle East

Lazy leaders are destroying Lebanon 

The explosion in Beirut’s port last August killed more than 200 people. Ibrahim Amro/AFP/Getty Images

It’s been a year since a huge explosion levelled Beirut’s port, killing more than 200 people and destroying thousands of homes, says David Rosenberg in Haaretz. No meaningful investigation has taken place and the rubble from the blast is still sitting there. Lebanon’s bickering politicians, who “can’t trouble themselves to form a government”, haven’t responded to the “host of foreign companies” offering to rebuild it. The latest prime minister, Najib Mikati, is a billionaire, just like his predecessor. “Even by global standards of corrupt and irresponsible governments, Lebanon is a standout.”

Part of the problem is that the country’s misfortune is “purely economic and entirely the consequence of its venal and corrupt leadership”. Its people are truly suffering – 77% of households don’t have enough food – but you don’t get the same visuals as you would from a war or natural disaster, both of which would prompt international aid. “Soft loans and grants” worth $11bn have been on the table for three years, but Lebanon’s political class refuses to undertake the reforms demanded in return. “Maybe the economic equivalent of a UN peacekeeping force – a cadre of economists and accountants – should be created to take charge of places like Lebanon.” It seems crazy, but all other options have been exhausted.