New BLOG post | Snap Back to Reality: Saad Hariri Returns as Lebanon PM | May Tamimova

Martyr’s Square, Beirut, November, 2019. Photo taken by the Author.

On the first anniversary of his resignation, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is once again tasked with forming a government. Last year, protests broke out across the country in what became known as the 2019 October Revolution, which demanded the removal of the corrupt political regime in its entirety. These demands came as a direct response to a crippling financial and banking crisis but reflected many grievances resulting from the decades-long sectarianisation of social and political life.

Succumbing to protestors’ demands, Hariri resigned from government in late October 2019, nominally for the sake of the country’s ‘dignity and safety.’ This was a politically savvy signal that he was unwilling to continue working under the rule of President Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), an ally of Hezbollah, and it doubled up as a transfer of blame. However, having served three terms, Hariri personally oversaw the country’s plunge into an unprecedented economic crisis and offered political coverage to those who helped engineer it. After a year of cataclysmic events for Lebanon, including the Beirut port explosion and the Covid-19 pandemic, was Hariri really the only option for PM? This decision makes it clear that in Lebanon, political life excludes the broader Lebanese population and blatantly prioritises the agendas of the political and economic elite.


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