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Economic Summit Disappoints Lebanon on Several Levels, Confirms Power of ‘Shiite Duo’

Economic Summit Disappoints Lebanon on Several Levels, Confirms Power of ‘Shiite Duo’

Sunday, 20 January, 2019 - 11:00
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit (L) at a meeting of Arab foreign ministers on Friday [Hussein Malla/AP]
Beirut - Caroline Akoum
The economic summit in Beirut did not meet Lebanon’s hopes, which were reflected in the efforts and preparations that have taken place several months before its convention.

Most of the Arab countries’ presidents sent representatives on the level of ministers, except for Mauritania and Qatar, whose president and Emir attended personally.

This was disappointing for Lebanon, especially that some leaders had confirmed their attendance but later apologized.

Their apologies followed the intra-Lebanese dispute, especially between President Michel Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who opposed inviting Libya and whose supporters burned its flags. Later, Libya apologized for participating in the summit.

The timing of the dispute along with the disagreement about not inviting Syria and the inability to form a government yet contributed to the failure of the summit, in which Lebanon was looking forward to it to accomplish a number of its goals.

The result was a political and financial loss of up to $10 million, which is the cost Lebanon has paid in its preparations to receive heads of states, as scheduled.

While MP Nicola Nahhas considered the Economic Summit to be over, even before starting, Kataeb Party's Deputy-President former minister Salim Sayegh and Researcher at Information International Mohammed Chamseddine agreed that what happened before the summit reflected the fragility of the regime in Lebanon and the dispersion of power.

What happened confirmed the control of the "Shiite duo" over the decision in the country, said Nahhas.

Chamseddine, for his part, said that the level of representation does not affect the program of work and decisions and that the problem was based on Lebanon's exaggerated expectations in regards to the summit and the allocation of a large sum of money to hold it.

“Its results turned to cause major financial and political loss after most Arab leaders decided not to attend,” he explained.

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