A London-based research center said Lebanon's Gross Domestic Product will fall by 10 percent in 2006 and expects a reduced current account deficit of $4.8 billion this year... .Prior to this fiasco, some Lebanese political parties waged a relentless (and justifiable) political campaign against the Future Movement for accumulating $35 billion worth of debt during the fifteen years of post-war reconstruction. Today, in a matter of one month, as a result of the irresponsible actions of one party, Lebanon's GDP has shrunk by 10%. Akh! Aaaaaaaaaaakh!
Although the Economist Intelligence Unit expects a settlement to be reached, the country's prospects are even more uncertain than previously. The obstacles preventing the current government from engaging in effective policymaking will grow, and its stability could yet be endangered by the downside risks associated with the conflict... .
Need I say more? Is this where we all want our country to be?
Update - Hizballah Reconstruction Efforts:
The Financial Times, AP and other news services published articles concerning Hizballah's reconstruction efforts in Harek Hreik (the area of Beirut that was hit hardest by the Israeli Air Force).
Apparently, 1,000 volunteer engineers an architects are taking part in this rather impressive effort under the umbrella of an organization called Jihad el a3mar (literally, The Construction Jihad), which was originally launched following Israel's futile 1996 military adventure, "Grapes of Wrath," which led to the downfall of then Israeli PM Shimon Perez.
Funding, according to a representative of that organization, comes from private donations, as opposed to Iran. Kassem Allaik, head of Jihad el a3mar told the Financial Times that "each Hizballah association is self-financed and relies on individual donations from sympathisers."
Mr. Allaik went on to say that "We help build a society of resistance... . Our aim is to create conditions so people can stay on their land to confront the enemy."
Several comments concerning these efforts. The first concerns credibility. Mr. Allaik tells us that his organization does not get funding from Iran. I find that assertion hard to believe because Hizballah's credibility suffered tremendously as a result of its lies concerning the source of its weaponry.
Prior to the war, Nasrallah and most of Hizballah's top brass insisted repeatedly to the Lebanese public that they did not receive military material from Iran, or any other form of military support, for that matter. I remember watching a Kalam el Nass show, where one of Hizballah's MPs used the Maronites' relationship with the Vatican to describe Hizbalah's relationship with Tehran - I believe it was MP Ali Amar. Now if those public assertions did not turn out to be blatant lies, I simply do not know what is a lie anymore.
During the month-long war, Turkish authorities refused to allow an Iranian aircraft to fly into its airspace because the pilot would not land his aircraft in Turkey to be searched (it is important to note here that subsequent aircraft flying from Tehran to Damascus did land in Turkey, and after being searched were found to be carrying humanitarian aid). According to press reports, that particular plane was filled with silk-worm surface-to-ship missiles of the kind used to damage an Israeli ship off Lebanese shores. Moreover, numerous Hizballah fighters interviewed by Western journalists have claimed to have received training from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard during "business" trips to Iran.
Therefore, thanks to these blatant lies emanating from the Hizballah leadership, I find that I cannot take Mr. Allaik for his word. How naive of me to think, at one point in time, that I should believe these men because they were "men of the cloth."
The second point I would like to make concerning Kassem Allaik, is that irrespective of his source of funding and his motivation (which I will get back to in a minute) the work that he and his men are doing is impressive, noble, and, no doubt, much appreciated by the Shi'ite population. However, these men should not forget that once people have roofs over their heads, the inhabitants will need to sustain themselves and their families economically. That means that they will need well-paying jobs that only a vibrant economy can afford them.
I very much doubt Hizballah's ability to create such a reality. Rather, if anything, Hizballah's mere existence in Lebanon has ensured that the country's economic performance has failed to achieve anything near its potential over the past 15 years.
As for the motivation of these men's work. In Allaik's own words, "Our aim is to create conditions so people can stay on their land to confront the enemy... ." One can decipher from this statement that the sole purpose Hizballah has in mind for its people is to stay on their land merely to "confront the enemy." In other words, staying on their land is simply not sufficient in and of itself.
Well, if that is the case, then I advise the guys working for Jihad el a3mar to build straw buildings for their people because it looks like we're going to be experiencing a lot more these wars in the near future.
Straw houses are easy to destroy, but they're also easily and cheaply rebuilt.