Lebanon is facing a financial siege imposed by international powers and its priority is staving off strife caused by the country’s economic meltdown, Head of Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil said on Tuesday.
MP Bassil said he supported talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), hoping they would pressure the state into reforms, but that Lebanon was running out of time and any foreign aid could not come at the price of sovereignty.
Talks with the IMF were put on hold last week after becoming bogged down by a dispute on the Lebanese side over the scale of losses in the financial system and pending the start of reforms to address the root causes of the crisis.
“What we are subjected to is an economic, financial and political siege … This doesn’t pardon the state and the Lebanese from their mistakes … at the forefront of them — corruption,” Bassil said in an interview with Reuters.
“When there is a desire to help Lebanon, tomorrow the gates will be opened. And when there are great powers blocking the gates, Lebanon does not have capacity to open them.”
“The absolute priority … is how to keep Lebanon away from anarchy and strife.”
“We don’t accept this model of low productivity,” he said of the government, which he said could not continue if it failed to do more.
Asked if he saw a risk to peace, Bassil said: “Of course this fear exists.”
The response, he said, was “in national unity” and dialogue.
He warned of the risk of “an international game” unfolding to weaken Lebanon or “a party in Lebanon such as Hezbollah”.
“Syria must be a lesson for all. It would be a shame to take Lebanon on the path to destruction once again,” he said.