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Lebanon's Profligate Factions Gamble on a Foreign Rescue

Jun 5, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
A protester passes a burning tire during a demonstration over feared pension cuts May 20, 2019, near the government's headquarters in Beirut.

A protester passes a burning tire during a demonstration over feared pension cuts May 20, 2019, near the government's headquarters in Beirut.

(MARWAN TAHTAH/AFP/Getty Images)

Since Lebanon's elections in May 2018, the country's big political factions -- the largely Sunni Future Movement of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the Free Patriotic Movement of Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, the generally Christian Lebanese Forces of President Michel Aoun, and the Shiite bloc of Amal and Hezbollah -- have agreed on one thing: the country's finances are unsustainable. With a debt-to-GDP ratio of 152 percent and a banking sector filled with depositors who readily withdraw their cash come any crisis, Beirut's politicians know that reform and austerity are a must if Lebanon is to maintain its budget and wider economy. Since Lebanon's elections in May 2018, the country's big political factions -- the largely Sunni Future Movement of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the Free Patriotic Movement of Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, of which President Michel Aoun is part, the generally Christian-dominated Lebanese Forces, and the Shiite bloc of Amal...

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