Welcomed with Open Arms, or Arms in Hand? – Mustapha Adib Announced as The New Prime Minister of Lebanon

Published on 31 August 2020 at 14:34

The recent explosion in Beirut, Lebanon signalled to the world the dire state that the country was in. Ridden with political corruption and vested interests from both Shia and Sunni Muslims, the country was a pressure cooker ready to explode. And that’s exactly what happened in the nation’s capital, after ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive substance was left unattended in a storage facility in the capitals port. An explosion on the 4th of August shook the world and drew attention to the poor condition of the Middle eastern country. With widespread damage to both homes and food supplies, the country was sent into a state of emergency, and mass protests from locals. The government soon resigned. What followed was a wave of support from around the world, most notably from French president Emmanuel Macron who vowed to help rebuild the country. 

The vested interests of the secretion system in Lebanon is the main hindrance to the development of the country, according to the French president. The Lebanese president Michel Aoun, was inclined to agree, after calling for Lebanon to adopt a  secular approach earlier this week. In the background of the mass protests, the search for a new prime minister had begun. That search for a new prime minister ended this morning, after Lebanon named its German Ambassador as prime minister after support from both the Shia and Sunni parties. The presidency announced Mustapha Adib as the new leader, on television, whilst Mr. Adib arrived at the presidential palace in Baabda, to meet President Aoun and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri. 

Mr. Adib has been the Lebanese ambassador to Germany since 2013. His name only surfaced yesterday as the likely candidate to succeed former prime minister Hassan Diab. Aged 48, the now prime minister, was born in Tripoli, a large city to the north of Lebanon. He is a Sunni Muslim, which he must be to be eligible to become prime minister under the sectarian, power sharing regime in Lebanon.

Mr. Adib is no stranger to politics, according to the Lebanese embassy in Germany’s website, Mr Adib holds a PhD in Political Science. He has also conducted research and expert work in the areas of both human and state security, parliamentary oversight of the security sector, decentralisation and local democracy, and electoral laws. Between 2000 to 2004, he was an advisor to Najib Mikati, a billionaire and former prime minister who backed his nomination on Monday. In 2011, then-prime minister Mikati appointed Adib as his chief of cabinet.

Former premiers such as Saad Hariri and Fouad Siniora also supported Mr. Adib for prime minister after two other Prime ministerial hopefuls were rejected by Shiite Muslim groups.

Mr Adib’s appointment coincides with another visit by French president Macron.

However, opposition groups representing the protest movement that erupted have stated that Adib is from the same ruling class that brought Lebanon to its knees and rejected him as a candidate before he was even nominated this morning. 

The future of Lebanon is still unclear. In order to unite the vast political and religious divides, and to avoid further damage to the country, Adib must adhere to his own promises of reform. Already an announcement to become a secular state is an achievement, however this progress must continue in order to maintain peace and uphold democracy. The risk of Lebanon running a similar course to that of Syria and Bashar al – Assad, are almost comparable. Both Lebanon and Syria are former French colonies. Protests in Syria only a few years ago lead to a frantic attempt by Assad to cling to power. The consequences of the Syrian revolt have been widespread, and lead to one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of the 21st century. A repeat of this would not only have massive repercussions within Lebanon, but also for the entire Middle East and Europe. 

There is no denying that Adib has a difficult task ahead. He must first earn the trust of his electorate and international community. In addition to this committing to his promises of reform should be his utmost priority. To carry on the same course as the previous government, would not only be irresponsible, but also irreparable for Lebanon. 

In the meantime, we can only observe as the transition of power could either be welcomed with open arms, or with arms in hand. 

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