Editorial

Connect in unison

Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

In just a matter of weeks, Lebanon has been party to three pivotal international meetings in support of the country as it faces tough challenges involving security, the economy and the Syrian refugee crisis.

The Rome II conference in mid-March secured support for the Lebanese Army and security services so they can continue to safeguard the country from internal and external threats.

The Paris CEDRE conference earlier this month garnered even more financial assistance than expected to support Lebanon’s economy and struggling infrastructure.

And this week’s Brussels II meet saw donors pledge assistance for countries facing the Syrian refugee crisis. Though the final figure was far below the target, Lebanon’s share will be crucial as it continues to host an almost 1 million registered refugees who are still waiting for a peaceful settlement before being able to return home.

You’d think Lebanese politicians would rally together on these occasions as the country goes on the international stage, putting aside petty party politics for the greater good and supporting the government’s efforts – and those of the international community – to bring the country back from the brink.

Unfortunately, we have instead seen venomous pontification as nonperformers and proxies take any and every opportunity to squeeze campaign points out of issues that go to the heart of the national interest in the lead-up to May’s parliamentary elections.

Those who have complained of conditions tied to international funding know very well that foreign governments need to be accountable to their taxpayers. No doubt they are also keenly aware of the effect transparency has on practices of “splitting the cake.”

Their poison has not only been aimed at the government but has also targeted Prime Minister Saad Hariri in a cynical, poll-driven effort to undermine any credit he might receive for the government’s achievements. Unfortunately, using moments when the country is before the international community to take domestic political potshots amounts to shooting the entire country in the foot.

On occasions like these, Lebanese politicians need to look at the bigger picture and unite behind a vision that takes the country forward. After so many hits from friend and foe since 1975, this is a massive task that will take every effort.

The prime minister has been connecting Lebanon with the rest of the world, which has agreed to help share the country’s challenges and responsibilities for safeguarding its security, sovereignty and prosperity, after years of being considered by many as a rogue state.

Surely that’s an effort worth getting behind.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 26, 2018, on page 1.

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