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Just like a vulture that circles its dead prey, General Michel Aoun’s eyes were alight with joy when announcing the death of the Syrian-Saudi initiative to contain the current Lebanese crisis (can anybody tell me the number of crises Lebanon has suffered so far?) It is the initiative which the Lebanese have dubbed the “S – S initiative” whilst many others have stressed that there is, nor has there ever been, any such initiative. As is their custom, the Lebanese wanted to lay accountability for success or failure on others and shirk their own responsibility; this is because the Lebanese have long specialized in destruction rather than reformation. The boring and wearisome story of Lebanese problems has again come to the surface, catching everybody’s attention and tuning us away from more significant and serious problems. What happened in Tunisia and Algeria, and the similar situation that is being seen in Mauritania are all warning signs that unemployment and corruption are ticking time bombs that could explode at any time. Unemployment rates in the Arab world are at a record high, and the growth and development rates being put forward by some [Arab] ministries are not believable in light of the economy’s failure to produce new jobs. This is because economies with revenues that are heavily reliant on natural resources, real-estate and stock exchange are akin to virtual economies today.

Nobody can deny that the unemployment problem today is an international one and that whilst unemployment rates in industrial countries are high; these are catastrophically high in the Arab world.

Internationally, more than 300 million people are unemployed, and there is a problem with the price of goods that only serves to exacerbate the problem of unemployment. The ongoing currency war (something which one of the Arab Central Bank managers denied existed) contributes to raising unemployment rates.

China is afraid to raise the price of its currency as it is seeking to avoid inflation, which would result in the price of labor soaring and manufacturers would be unable to pay them off. This in turn would result in unemployment, as occurred in Europe and the US. Today, the US is strongly seeking to ensure that the dollar remains work, which would allow America to increase its exports, meanwhile Europe, and its threatened currency, has become China’s greatest partner.

There is another serious development and that is the Euro being used to price oil, and today more than 40 percent of oil production and exports are sold in Euros, which means that the US dollar being used as the major currency for commodities is something that will need to be reviewed. This is something that will definitely have a direct impact countries ability to put its economic plans into effect, attract new investments and guarantee jobs for their citizens. However, this is contingent upon these countries improving the investment climate by adopting policies that ensure transparency, accountability, fairness, and scrutiny. This is not to mention promoting the judicial system, eliminating favoritism, and imposing punishment. All that remains is for countries to face the challenge of putting all of this into action. As for Lebanon, it is like a broken record, and if the Lebanese are not willing to at least try to solve their own problems without foreign intervention, why should foreign parties even bother, and be more concerned about Lebanon than the Lebanese themselves?

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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