The U.S. will not bailout the Lebanese government until it shows a commitment to enact reforms after the devastating explosion in Beirut, numerous sources reported.
While the U.S. will continue addressing the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon, it will not underwrite the government, Undersecretary of State David Hale said Wednesday according to Reuters.
“They (the Lebanese people) see rulers who use the system in order to enrich themselves and to ignore popular demands,” Hale said. “That era is over. There is no more money for that. They are at rock bottom and sooner or later, I believe, that the leadership will appreciate the fact that it is time to change.”
More than 200 people died in the devastating explosion in Beirut in early August, with thousands more injured. The blast is believed to have been caused by a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate that was stored in a hangar at the port.
“We will not be providing that kind of longterm assistance until we see a government that’s actually capable of reform and change,” Hale said. (RELATED: Lebanese Officials Ordered Under House Arrest During Investigation Of Port Explosion That Devastated Beirut)
“What happened at the port (is) bad enough, but in many ways it’s symptomatic of larger problems in Lebanon. . . We can’t fix that from the outside. Lebanese leaders have to demonstrate the political will and the commitment to do that and that was my main message.”
Hale said reforms should include combating corruption, improving transparency, restricting public debt and fixing the electrical system, among others, according to the Hill. He did not say whether the U.S. would support a new Lebanese government that includes Hezbollah.
The explosion deepened and reinforced the anger of many Lebanese who have expressed their indignation towards the elite ruling class, a sense that culminated in protests in 2019. The country faces its most severe economic crisis in modern history, with the lira having lost more than 80% of its value since October 2019.
Officials have estimated the blast caused losses amounting to $15 million, a financial burden Lebanon is unequipped to manage as it already faces financial crisis and a plummeting currency.