Lebanon crisis

‘Do your job,’ UN representative in Lebanon tells political elite

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Lebanon’s political elite must do its job and guide the country through its current crisis, the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis told Al Arabiya on Saturday.

Kubis said that it was the job of Lebanon’s political elite first and foremost, with the support of the international community second, to save the country from what he described as an “unprecedented crisis.”

“The country must be managed, the state must assume responsibility, the leadership of the country must act in a responsible and transparent and accountable way, and must manage the situation,” said Kubis.

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“The message is not that the international community will come and take over Lebanon and manage it. The message is: Do your job, political leaders of the country,” he added.

Lebanon faces political and economic crises, with ongoing deadlock preventing the formation of a government amid a worsening financial crisis that has led to hyperinflation and currency devaluation.

Kubis called out the Lebanese elite for failing to heed the warnings from nationwide protests that broke out in October 2019.

An anti-government protester shouts slogans while wearing a mask with the colors of the Lebanese flag in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, July 2, 2020. (AP)
An anti-government protester shouts slogans while wearing a mask with the colors of the Lebanese flag in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, July 2, 2020. (AP)

While he expressed concern over the depth of the crisis, Kubis did voice some hope in response to the protests and their organizing toward the next elections.

“The Lebanese people have to stand for themselves, and they showed an amazing example, from my perspective, of how they can do it,” he said.

“They are telling us very clearly – the people are there, the demands are there, and this is not the end. This is just another phase of their demands,” added the UN special coordinator.

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Kubis was asked several questions about the role of Iran-backed Hezbollah played in undermining Lebanon’s sovereignty. He also answered questions about Hezbollah’s ongoing violations of UN resolutions that forbid militias to retain arms.

When asked why his tweets rarely mention the organization, Kubis said that he uses Twitter primarily to provide public information, and his concerns about Hezbollah are expressed in his contributions to UN reports.

These include the UN’s insistence that states should be the only sovereign actors, a principle that Hezbollah has been accused of violating through maintaining its own militia and connections with foreign powers, including in Iran and Syria.

“The United Nations is very clear ... the state authority is the only legitimate authority that should be here, and that possession and maintenance of weapons by any group, including Hezbollah, outside the authority of the state is something that should not be accepted and is not accepted,” Kubis explained.

Any group that possesses weapons is in “blatant disregard” of UN resolutions 1559, 1680, and 1701, he added.

Kubis ended the interview with a message for the Lebanese leaders that the status quo could not continue.

“Good luck to Lebanon and to the people of Lebanon, and a more active approach to the leadership of Lebanon and political leaders. The country simply cannot continue, the people cannot keep on suffering, without the determined action of the Lebanese leaders, and without the support of the international community, but it starts with Lebanon. Otherwise the people will again have to say their word.”

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