In a statement he made to the regulatory agencies on Monday afternoon, the Prime Minister announced the commencement of the “War on corruption”. In his statement, he preemptively addressed criticism by saying: “This is a long and difficult battle. We will be subject to political attacks, insults, and we will be accused of betrayal, but that is fine.”
Regulators asked the Prime Minister about his plan to activate these supervisory bodies he is addressing today, to which he replied: “ You are the body concerned with monitoring the state, and I know that you already have many cases prepared. There are a lot of cases that have been dropped years ago, and that failure on your end. State-run administrations are not allowed to remain in their current state. There is much evidence of brokered deals, corruption, mismanagement, and wastefulness. Who is supposed to pursue these accusations and achieve accountability?”
Did Diab issue any orders to protect these regulators and inspectors from politically backed corruption? Moreover, did he inform the political parties responsible for his assignment that fighting corruption entails that they do not interfere with the work of the administrations or regulators?! Of course not. this Prime Minister would not dare give such an order… His words will just be gone with the wind.
Sharing the Spoils
Last week, the cabinet confirmed an assortment of appointment for 20 vacant positions in financial, banking, as well as public institutions. The only new addition to the appointments which were suggested 3 months ago, was that this time, the Prime Minister had a share of the appointments. The rest of the appointments were largely selected by the alliance of Hezbollah, Berri, and Gebran Bassil.
Last month, when Sil’ata power plant project was being discussed, and alarm sounds of corruption rang high, Diab who claims to be fighting corruption today, responded with deaf ears. President Michael Aoun argued loudly against abjections by an AMAL minister to the project, that would cost the government $207 million in acquisition alone, in the midst of an already bankrupt economy. “Why do you Always object to the Sil’ata planta?!” Protested Aoun.
This enthusiastic response by the President sent a message to Diab which seemed to have paid off. It informed Diab that the required direction of his work should be towards protecting the corruption of the leaders and their entourage which assigned him. He must give them the appointments they need and protect their interests. The latest appointments of deputies in the central bank were chosen by Hezbollah and the FPM to restrict the governor Riad Salemeh’s work as well as pressure him to inject dollars into the market from the depleting reserves. These dollars are then used to assist Hezbollah’s allies in Syria.
In conclusion, the tale of the “War on Corruption” by Hassan Diab will not be fooling anyone. It would have been better for Diab to accept and acknowledge that the tides of corruption are more than he can handle. Furthermore, the IMF who took note of the Sil’ata power plant project as well as the absurd appointments in the Central Bank will never agree to aid a country overrun with corruption, with the exception of President Michael Aoun (For legal purposes).