An open letter urged French President Emmanuel Macron to freeze the suspicious assets of Lebanese officials in France, with the aim of dismantling a “political and economic mafia” that plunged Lebanon into crisis and misery.
Take the example of Rifaat the lion
The letter, signed by more than 100 Lebanese civil society figures and published in the French newspaper Le Monde, said that Macron should issue instructions “in order to implement the legal mechanism to freeze the assets of questionable origin that are owned in France by Lebanese political and economic leaders.”
She added that “the political and economic mafia is responsible for the misery, hunger and insecurity that many Lebanese suffer from.”
The letter indicated that such a legal process must be based on the precedent of freezing illegal assets in France for some African leaders and former Syrian Vice President Rifat al-Assad.
The letter considered that “this widespread corruption has grossly contributed to enriching Lebanese political leaders” by emptying the treasury and fraudulently seizing aid sent after the civil war.
The message launched by the “Lebanese Citizens Around the World” group, headed by Dr. Elian Sarkis, was signed by a large number of doctors, lawyers, journalists and activists, including University Professor Karim Emile Bitar, the former Lebanese Minister of Culture and the former United Nations envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, and the resigned deputy. Paula Yacoubian, and the Lebanese economist Nicolas Sarkis.
The letter was prepared after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian declared in March that “the time has come” to increase international pressure on Lebanon to form a government.
Macron had called for a radical change in Lebanon after the devastating bombing of the port of Beirut, expressing his indignation at the absence of change, at a time when the country is still captive to the political stalemate with the worsening of the economic, financial and living crisis.
Analysts said that “sanctions such as the freeze of assets may be the most effective way for Paris to put pressure on the political class in Lebanon, although France has not indicated publicly until now that it is ready for such a measure.”
To this day, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and President Michel Aoun have not yet been able to agree to form a new government, despite the passage of several months, while Lebanon suffers the worst economic crisis in its modern history.