Lebanon. By: C/TSgt McDerby. Physical Characteristics.
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By: C/TSgt McDerby
Lebanon’s economy is very weak because of the previous war last summer. It has been struggling to rebuild itself up again by borrowing heavily from domestic banks.
Lebanon is also in an internal political crisis. The government was paralyzed by the resignation of six pro-Syrian ministers.
Planned reforms, which have been prepared by the government, remain in a political limbo because of the crisis.
Lebanon now faces a public debt of more than 40 billion dollars, or 180 percent of gross domestic product.
Lebanon’s unemployment rate is approximately 20%.
The estimated work force is about 2.6 million, 1 million are foreign workers.
The main industries are banking, food processing, jewelry, cement, textiles, mineral and chemical products. The main agricultural products are citrus, grapes, tomatoes, apples and sheep.
Lebanon exports food, tobacco, textiles, chemicals, precious stones, and metal products.
On May 7th, Prime Minister Siniora urged all Lebanese political groups to rally behind the state, saying it is the only way to achieve security, stability and economic growth.
On July 12, 2006, following an operation executed by Hezbollah militants on Israeli territory, Israel launched a massive military operation against the Lebanon-based Hezbollah. The fighting quickly turned into 33 days of open war and ultimately led to the death of 1,191 Lebanese and 44 Israeli civilians. Over the course of the war 4,409 were injured in Lebanon and nearly a million were relocated.
Fighting came to an end on August 14, three days after UN Security Council Resolution 1701—which called for an immediate end of the fighting—was passed. Israel, however, maintained an naval and aerial blockade on Lebanon in a measure meant to prevent Hezbollah from smuggling arms. The blockade was lifted on September 8, and by early December, all Israeli troops had withdrawn from Lebanon.
Smoke over Tyre after Israeli bombardment.
A Haifa street following a rocket attack
Prime Minister Fuad Siniora told the opening of the Arab Economic Forum that the Lebanese economy was hit hard by the Israeli military offensive last July and August.
“Lebanon continues to suffer from devastating consequence of the war and persistent (internal) crisis,” said Siniora.
Lebanon’s central bank has 13 billion dollars in foreign currencies and about 6.8 billion dollars in gold reserves.
Last summer’s 34-day Israeli war on the Shiite militant Hezbollah inflicted destruction in Lebanon estimated at several billion dollars, and along with the internal political crisis, scared off tourists and investors.
After the war, Hezbollah began organizing reconstruction efforts, and handed out financial aid to families who had lost their homes, building up loyalty from Shiite civilians. Last December, tens of thousands of demonstrators led by the Hezbollah leader called for the resignation of the pro-Western coalition government.
The Hezbollah supporters are creating another anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-Israeli following that could lead to future conflicts between us and the Middle East.