Jamal Wakim, a professor at the Lebanese University (LU), says that Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are putting economic pressure on Lebanon to undercut Hezbollah.
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): “Saudi Arabia wants to exert pressure on Hezbollah so they thought that exerting pressure on the Lebanese economy would help them achieve their political objective by isolating Hezbollah,” Wakim tells the Tehran Times.
“As the U.S. could not get rid of Hezbollah militarily, it thought of doing so by exerting economic pressure on the Lebanese economy in order to incite the whole population against Hezbollah,” he adds.
As the Lebanese crisis deepens, lines for fuel grow and food and medicine are scarce.
Lebanon is going through a financial crisis that the World Bank has said could rank among the world’s three worst since the mid-1800s in terms of its effect on living standards.
Following is the text of the interview with Jamal Wakim about the roots of the economic crisis in Lebanon:
Q: What is the main reason for Lebanon’s economic crisis?
A: The main reason for the economic crisis in Lebanon is that after the Civil War the Lebanese economy was restructured to be solely dependent on the tertiary sector and the financial sector and on marginalizing the productive sectors, i.e. agriculture and industry.
The financial sector was linked to the U.S. which could control it via its Federal Bank policies. As the U.S. could not get rid of Hezbollah militarily, it thought of doing so by exerting economic pressure on the Lebanese economy in order to incite the whole population against Hezbollah. By controlling the Lebanese financial system, the U.S. was able to dry it off, leading the whole economy to collapse.
Q: How do you see the role of the al-Hariri family in the current economic crisis?
A: The Rafiq al-Hariri governments between 1992 and 2004 were the ones that led to the restructuring of the economy to fit the interests of the financial and tertiary sectors. After his assassination, the economic–political class which benefited from the al-Hariri policies continued these policies that led to the current crisis.
Q: Why is Saudi Arabia trying to siege Lebanon economically?
A: Saudi Arabia wants to exert pressure on Hezbollah so they thought that exerting pressure on the Lebanese economy would help them achieve their political objective by isolating Hezbollah.
Q: Do you think the current government is able to tackle the economic problems?
A: No. It is because the prime minister and the government members represent the interests of the political-financial class that rules the country and whose interests lay in continuing the previous policies that protect the interests of the financial capitalist class.
Q: What are the main areas of economic cooperation between Iran and Lebanon?
A: It is too bad that there are no areas of cooperation between Lebanon and Iran, because Lebanon is under full Western control.