As Lebanon winds up its 2022 parliamentary elections, one thing is becoming increasingly clear; the reformist Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Party has held ground with at least 21 MPs in their bloc.
Relative newcomers to the political scene, the FPM made their first showing in Lebanon’s parliament in 2005, then 2009, 2018 and 2022 is only the fourth time they have contested in parliamentary elections. Since the birth of their parliamentary experience, they have been relentless in proposing solutions to the country’s problems and submitting reform laws (well over 300) only to be obstructed by the entrenched corrupt ruling class.
The only party to push for a forensic audit of Lebanon’s institutions and the only party to lift financial secrecy of the bank accounts of all their candidates, they are often (intentionally) portrayed as pro-Iranian and pro Hezbollah for insisting that a discussion on Hezbollah’s arms should come after a settlement with Israel on the half a million Palestinian refugees (burdening Lebanon since 1948), and land and maritime border disputes being resolved.
The FPM has managed to secure itself as the largest bloc in Lebanon’s parliament composing itself of different sects while also being the largest Christian bloc in Lebanon with representation spread out all over the country. While some might say holding onto the same size of 17 MPs who are party members and another 4 allies totaling 21 (at this stage) is not as great an achievement as is being celebrated; yet put into context, it was a slap in the face of the corrupt ruling class and their foreign backers to a point they are both resigned and stunned at how the people chose to vote by rejecting slanderous campaigns and vote buying in a scale prevously unseen.
Some of the corrupt ruling class are:
- The AMAL Movement former wartime militia led by warlord Nabih Berri (who has been parliament speaker since 1992).
- The Progressive Socialist Party former wartime militia led by feudal warlord Walid Jumblatt.
- The Future Movement led by Saad Hariri
- The Lebanese Forces former wartime militia led by warlord and convicted war criminal Samir Geagea.
- The Marada Movement former feudal wartime militia led by warlord Sleiman Frangieh (grandson of its founder).
- The Kataeb Party former feudal wartime militia led by Sami Gemayel (grandson of its founder).
- A number of smaller parties.
- Foreign funded NGOs composed of some or part of the above.
- Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh along with the banking and money exchange cartels.
In 2019, after years of obstructing reforms, draining the national treasury and getting richer, the corrupt ruling class were faced with massive nationwide protests against the dire economic situation. Within a week, the October 17 Revolution was then infiltrated by operatives of the corrupt ruling class and by mysteriously well-funded NGOs whose sole job was to attack the FPM. Yes, we had a revolution attacking the reformists and protecting the corrupt ruling class; what was surprising was how the international community and media reacted to this phenomenon and went along with the false narrative that was seeking only the character assassination of the President of the Republic (founder of the FPM) and his reform legacy.
It wasn’t until later that why and how was exposed. On September 24th, 2020, then US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, made a statement before US Congress that $10 billion USD was sent to the Lebanese Armed Forces and NGOs. Budgetary estimates from Lebanon’s army states that they received only $1.6 billion USD in foreign aid. Therefore these well-funded, well organized NGOs and “Civil Society Movements” causing civil disruption, premeditated slanderous media campaigns and attacking only the reformers had their sources of funding exposed to the tune of over $8 billion USD.
In 2013, a ship allegedly heading from Georgia to Mozambique mysteriously docks in Beirut and stays there for years. Its cargo, 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate are unloaded and stored in a hangar with other volatile materials for 6 years. Under the auspices of the Finance Ministry held by Nabih Berri and the Transport Ministry held by Walid Jumblatt and Sleiman Frangieh respectively; letters sent by customs officials from 2014 to 2017 to resolve the issue were ignored.
On July 20, 2020 information was relayed to President Michel Aoun about the contents in the hangar and he immediately gave orders for a plan of its safe and rapid removal. On August 4 2020, just 14 days after this danger was brought to Aoun’s attention and his ordering it be rectified, the hangar suspiciously catches on fire and the contents explode causing at least 218 deaths, 7,000 injuries, and US$15 billion in property damage, and leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless.
Aoun has been in a battle with the corrupt ruling class for decades and was about to start a forensic audit of all government accounts to see where Lebanon’s debt of more than $95 billion USD came from. That same week the port explosion occurs stalling these reforms and a well coordinated media campaign against President Aoun and FPM leader Gebran Bassil commences, although they have never held any portfolio in the Finance and Transport Ministries that oversee the port.
Well trained NGO operative inciting the crowd and turns on the tears when on camera.
When President Aoun took office in October 2016, he was faced with a country that had not passed an annual budget in 12 years, yet somehow the corrupt ruling class had gotten richer. He pushed for a budget to pass, it was discovered that there was a $95 billion USD black hole in Lebanon’s accounts which prompted the need for a forensic audit that the corrupt ruling class obstructed and stalled with all the tools at their disposal against the constitutional powers of the President (that were greatly reduced in 1990).
The largest ever Ponzi scheme in history was exposed, whereby the banks (owned by the corrupt ruling class) would lend the Lebanese Government money at exorbitant rates; in turn the banks would pay high interest rates for the Lebanese to deposit their money that can then be lent to the Lebanese government (where it can intentionally be misappropriated). All facilitated by Central Bank Governor (since 1993) Riad Salameh who is facing several lawsuits in Europe for embezzlement and money laundering.
Further to that, the hijacked revolution shut down the country, blocked roads and created disarray; and within the chaos, the corrupt ruling class and the Central Bank Governor were able to transfer tens of billions of US dollars abroad while locking the Lebanese people from accessing their own bank deposits. The value of Lebanon’s currency dropped by 90% and fluctuates based on the political environment rather than any economic convention.
This accelerated the ensuing financial meltdown of the country pushing more than half the population to the point of poverty. Below is a video of David Schenker, United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (2019–2021), where he speaks of exploiting the protests in Lebanon, accelerating the economic decline. Schenker must have had access to accurate polling data disavowing the allies the US backed in the days leading up to the elections calling them “selfish” and “narcissistic”.
Sanctions against Gebran Bassil
More surprising than the US meddling in Lebanon, the support of NGOs and the international media outlets focusing all their attacks and misinformation on the FPM; in November 2020, the US administration decided to sanction FPM Leader Gebran Bassil and overlooked the whole corrupt ruling class (many of whom have been staunch US Allies).
In the days after these 2022 elections, former US diplomat David Hale stated that their actions in Lebanon and the punishing Christians refusing to oppose Hezbollah (and taking the country to war) was a mistake that backfired in the polls.
Foreign Money and Vote Buying
In April 2022, Ambassadors from Gulf Arab states started to return to Lebanon and with them petro dollars. Envious and intimidated that Lebanon actually has elections, the Gulf has long sought to control Lebanon through buying off local leaders to implement their agendas which are more than often detrimental to Lebanon and its people.
In an Iftar dinner at the Saudi Embassy in Lebanon hosted by Saudi Ambassador and in the presence of the US Ambassador to Lebanon, the corrupt ruling class, civil society leaders and party heads all lined up one after the other to pledge their allegiance in return for campaign funds to cripple the FPM in the May 15 elections.
This allegiance paid off financially as the country who has high unemployment and poverty was plastered with billboards of these parties and movements to the tune of tens of millions of dollars and against campaign finance laws. Worse still was the vote buying on election day with dozens of officials from these parties and movements arrested for paying as high as $3000 USD per vote.
The plan of the economic collapse was to bring the people to a point of despair and then use as much as a year’s salary to entice them to vote a certain way. Added to this, the compromised media ramped up their attacks blaming the mismanagement and corruption on the President and the FPM who have gone through several battles to try and implement reforms with some success despite the institutionalised corruption throwing up all kinds of obstructions.
As the counting commenced, the Lebanese Forces jumped the gun and started through their media mouthpieces stating inflated results. As the counting continued from both the local votes and the expat votes from abroad (as a result of the efforts of Gebrean Bassil pushing for a law to allow the Diaspora to vote), the decapitation strategy in all regions against the FPM planned by foreign intelligence agencies and their local collaborators started to unravel. The fiercest electoral battles were pre meditated in the Christian heartlands with foreign forces backing the FPM’s historical rivals among whom were the Lebanese Forces and especially in the northern district of Batroun (Bassil’s hometown).
The FPM increased its party members in Parliament and with allies resulted in the largest bloc in Parliament and the largest Christians bloc.
Results as follows from 128 seats:
- 21 MPS (17 FPM + 4 Allies), with appeals and recounts ongoing, it may go up more.
- 18 MPS (13 Lebanese Forces + 5 allies) up by 3 seats despite unprecedented foreign backing.
- 16 MPS (13 Hezbollah + 3 allies) up by 4 seats.
- 15 MPS (AMAL Movement + Allies) down by 2 seats.
- 9 MPS (Progressive Socialist Party) unchanged despite unprecedented foreign backing.
- 4 MPS (Kataeb Party) up by 1 seat despite unprecedented foreign backing.
- 2 MPS (Independence Movement) up by 1 seat despite unprecedented foreign backing.
- 1 MP (Marada Movement) down by 1 seat.
- 27 MPS fragmented Independents and ex Future Movement (who did not officially contest elections)
- 15 MPS fragmented Civil Society Movements and “Revolution” many of whom had foreign backing.
Irrespective of the results, of most importance now are the draft laws proposed by the FPM in previous parliaments that have met with obstruction by the corrupt ruling class. These laws include:
- Forensic Audit to see where the $95 billion USD in Lebanon’s debt went.
- Lifting of Financial Secrecy on all accounts and assets of politicians and high-ranking civil servants (past, present and future).
- Creation of Special Court to try Financial Crimes.
- Capital Control to return and regulate funds smuggled abroad.
- The 2010 Electricity Plan to provide 24 hour electricity.
- Repatriation of 1.5 million Syrian refugees to their country.
- Commence Oil and Gas exploration and extraction off Lebanon’s shores.
At this stage we do not know if the corrupt ruling class will give in and cease obstructing these much needed reforms, what we do know however is that this is a large test for the new faces in Lebanon’s parliament claiming to represent civil society and the revolution if they will vote for these reforms, or will they be more of the same?