By Sam Bridge
Fouad Siniora tells Arab Strategy Forum that Lebanon could see further economic and social protests if corruption is not stamped out
Lebanon is at risk of further economic and social upheaval if corruption is not stamped out, the country's former Prime Minister warned on Monday.
Speaking at the 12th Arab Strategy Forum (ASF 2019) in Dubai, Fouad Siniora made the comments during a session titled The Future of the Arab Region 2030.
The panel discussion, moderated by Egyptian TV host Emad El Din Adeeb addressed the future of Arab alliances under the new world order and the role of leading regional and global powers in shaping it.
“The Arab world is living in a bipolar landscape. We cannot get out of the bottlenecks that face us in the region without some serious efforts,” said Siniora during a discussion alongside Dr Marwan Muasher, former deputy Prime Minister of Jordan.
Siniora expressed his belief that serious efforts need to be executed for concrete reforms, which requires resilience and patience – two qualities that have been absent in the current crop of leaders.
Since the Arab Spring, several attempts to execute reforms in Arab countries have failed, increasing the citizens’ distrust of their governments.
“Politicians in Lebanon have taken the reins of power to boost their profits at the cost of the people. If this corruption continues, and leaders in power disregard the people’s demands, Lebanon will remain vulnerable to economic and security issues,” said Siniora.
Corruption needs an institutional remedy, he said. There must be legislation in place to eradicate corruption gradually, but senior officials and public sector employees should be transparent in handling matters of the government.
“I believe we need to have honest, open and transparent dialogues between decision makers and citizens to successfully implement reforms in the region,” he added.
He said the young generation cannot find adequate jobs, and governments will need to re-examine how to provide opportunities for the youth and jobseekers in the private sector.
Muasher added: “In Iraq and Lebanon, citizens have become increasingly dissatisfied with the gradual reforms and are no longer willing to accept the authoritarian regimes or political systems in power. They have called for an end to sectarian regimes and their representatives.
“I believe the Arab world is stuck between the rock of reforms and the hard place of the current situation. If we remain as we are, in 10 years, the world will be way ahead of us. There are many issues that have become a thing of the past, and other developed nations don’t pay heed to them anymore. We are lagging behind in the Arab world.”
He also called for the end of discrimination against women at the legislative and social level for Arab nations to progress.
“We need equal citizenship, and we need economic models that will stand for equal opportunities for all nationals,” added Muasher.