International community must "back off" to allow Lebanon shape its future

10 August 2020, 19:09

By Seán Hickey

As the entire Lebanese government resigned after public outcry following the explosion in Beirut, political and social reforms must come from within the state.

Alistair Burt is former Foreign Office Minister and told Eddie Mair that the government has resigned as "it has seen to be responsible for the catastrophic explosion, not because it's been in power all this time but because it represents a system that's obviously failed."

The power-sharing government had the mandate to look after the interests of all Lebanese and the government has "manifestly failed," in doing so, Mr Burt said.

The former MP told Eddie that he was hopeful that the Beirut explosion "is a sufficient shock to the system that it may lead to something very different," for Lebanon.

Eddie had been speaking to journalists throughout the development of the story and came to the conclusion that "the rest of the world needs to back off before Lebanon can flourish." Mr Burt agreed with the idea, noting that "by and large the biggest influence is Hezbollah and Iran."

The former Foreign Office Minister told Eddie that unless Hezbollah recognises that the Lebanese army is the only military authority, then Lebanon can't advance.

"Hezbollah's role and the part that it will play in the future is absolutely crucial," he said.

Mr Burt told Eddie that "there is clearly a role for the international community in Lebanon," and there have been moves to help the state in the past, "but only in the basis of reform."

"This cannot be decided from outside, the Lebanese have to decide which way forward."