After a series of stalemates among its sectarian leaders, Lebanon has finally formed a new government under the recently appointed Prime Minister Hassan Diab, a former American University of Beirut engineering professor. The new cabinet has been criticized as pro-Hezbollah and as closely aligned with the Syrian regime. It continues to be rejected by a large number of citizens who have been demonstrating in the streets for nearly four months.
A closer examination of the new government reveals a large number of technically competent ministers, many of whom were educated in U.S. universities. A debate among the Lebanese is growing between those who want to give the new leadership a chance and those who say it’s dead on arrival because it doesn’t have the power to make real change, address the needs of its citizens, and stop rampant corruption.
One thing is sure, if the government is allowed a period of time to deliver essential services and fails, it will face an even stronger reckoning on the streets in the coming months.
Ambassador Edward M. Gabriel is a former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco and currently President of the American Task Force for Lebanon. He has an extensive background in international affairs, having convened multilateral policy forums involving national security, environmental, and trade and energy issues.