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The Economy Second, Hizbullah’s Disarmament First
Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah delivers a televised speech to Lebanese supporters in February. (Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images)

The Economy Second, Hizbullah’s Disarmament First

Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, August 8

Officials in Lebanon have already begun discussing the cost of rehabilitating Beirut from the terrible explosion in its port. Indeed, the governor of Beirut has indicated that the price tag will range somewhere from $3 billion to $5 billion before all damages are even counted. Similarly, the Lebanese prime minister, Hassan Diab, has called on all of those who “love Lebanon” to hurry up and support its economy, which basically was on the brink of collapse even before this disaster. Sadly, those who speak of economic support and financial aid forget that there is something far more important: political transparency. As dozens of innocent Lebanese civilians are struggling to maintain their daily lives in a destroyed city, it is our duty, as Lebanon’s allies, to ensure that the political conditions that led to this disaster don’t repeat themselves. What will happen after we support the Lebanese economy? Will the political deadlock change? Will corruption disappear? I’m talking about aid that extends beyond immediate medical and food supplies, for which the Lebanese people are desperate right now. Who will ensure that the dollars we funnel into Lebanon at a later stage will actually make their way to the Lebanese people? The president of the republic, the prime minister, the speaker of parliament, ministers, representatives and all other elected Lebanese officials must interact with the public in an honest and transparent way. They must answer the tough questions about what led to this horrific explosion that killed dozens and injured thousands. Most importantly, Beirut will never be rebuilt as long as it remains imprisoned and bound by the decisions issued by Hizbullah based on marching orders coming from Tehran. If the Lebanese want one government, one military and one law for everyone, they must remove Hizbullah from their political system. We in the Arab world empathize with the people of Lebanon. We wish them well and we hope that they will overcome the effects of this disaster. This can only happen if they stand up against corruption and against the conspirators who undermined their country from within. Those whose ultimate loyalty is to Iran cannot claim to care about the Lebanese nation. The entire world now stands in solidarity with Lebanon and understands the country’s urgent need for support. Our ultimate goal should be to direct as much humanitarian aid to the country as we possibly can. But we should hold off on writing checks. Any aid to the Lebanese economy must be conditional upon the removal of Hizbullah from the government, the supervision over where funds are going and the implementation of political reforms that Lebanon has already committed itself to. Any armed group outside the Lebanese military must be disbanded while the political structure in Lebanon must be redesigned from the foundations up. – Khalid Bin Hamad (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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