A year after the horrific Beirut port explosion on August 4, 2020, the legal pursuit of justice and accountability is proving pointless. Little to no progress has been made, due to how deeply embedded corruption is in the country’s political and business structures. The upcoming legislative elections next year could be an opportunity to set the country on a reform track — but only if they are managed by an independent body under international supervision.
Mona Yacoubian, senior advisor to the vice president of Middle East & North Africa, testified on July 29, 2021 at the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Global Counterterrorism's hearing on "Lebanon: Assessing Political Paralysis, Economic Crisis and Challenges for U.S. Policy." Her expert testimony as prepared is presented below.
Lebanon, unlike many other countries, is actually ruled by a conglomerate of political figures and business elites and organizations. Therefore, a change in Lebanon can neither be about a single politician or party nor can it be led by one political group. In the past 15 years, there were several attempts to alter the governance model and practices in Lebanon. All of them proved unsuccessful for various reasons including the toxic manipulation of identity-based politics by the majority of politicians and clerics, deep-seated corruption, twisted social norms, regional power competition and the absence of an organized, competent and capable political alternative.