Nadim Houry, Executive Director of the Arab Reform Initiative, discusses the role of Arab countries in the Middle East in demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and negotiating the release of hostages taken by Hamas. Normalization between Bahrain and the UAE with Israel, in addition to negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, has been disrupted as the Israeli bombardment of Palestinian civilians in Gaza continues. Houry also addresses previous attempts to advance peace, such as the Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, and argues that a regional rather than bilateral approach with Israel is necessary, one which requires a non-negotiable end to settlement expansion in the West Bank and brings Iran and other regional actors into the fray.
Widespread corruption in Lebanon is fostered by the country’s ruling class, whose business interests are enmeshed with those of international finance. Nadim Houry, executive director of the Arab Reform Initiative, explains how Lebanon’s culture of political impunity is tied to the reconstruction agreements put in place in 1990, at the end of the 15-year civil war. The ongoing political deadlock shields the authorities from scrutiny and allows for vulture capitalists such as the former governor of Lebanon’s Central Bank, Riad Salameh, to embezzle the country’s resources. At the same time, ordinary people are faced with crushing inflation.
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