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Mahinda Rajapaksa Resigns and Saad al-Hariri Withdraws From Elections

May 5-11, 2022 | Issue 7 - B/L (Behavior/Leadership)

Zoe Beyer, Sara Buccino, Katie Lohret, Sofia Stanga, Jacqueline Schluger, B/L Team

Demetrios Giannakaris, Senior Editor



Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa[1]

Date: May 9, 2022

Location: Sri Lanka

Parties involved: Former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa; Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa; Sri Lankan civilians; Sri Lankan Trade Unions; Sri Lankan government officials; International Monetary Fund

The event: Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned from his position as Prime Minister after weeks of protests regarding the economic crisis that caused a shortage of food, fuel, and medicines. Protests turned violent when government supporters attacked demonstrators in Colombo. Violent protestors assaulted Rajapaksa, civilians, and government officials who supported him. Rajapaksa’s resignation will result in a dissolution of the Cabinet and a proposal for new elections in Sri Lanka. Protestors called for the President’s resignation, but he refused. Government entities, like trade unions, have called for a strike until the President resigns.[2] Rajapaksa has claimed responsibility for the crisis, saying he delayed seeking International Monetary Fund money, which led to an inability to import necessary goods to the island.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Trade union strikes will almost certainly further destabilize the Sri Lankan economy by halting services and production of goods during the import crisis. As the economic crisis continues, more violent protests are very likely to occur. The President will very likely resign to avoid increased violence while waiting for the crisis to resolve. Violence against government officials will very likely increase as civilians likely hold them accountable for not improving the Sri Lankan economy.

  • The lack of a Cabinet or Prime Minister will very likely prolong the government’s ineffectiveness due to the reduced number of governing officials. Lack of coordination and government leaders will likely make the distribution of necessities difficult as imports return to pre-crisis levels. Election candidates will almost certainly make solving the crisis a key part of their platform to win the approval of the citizens who felt neglected and unheard by the previous government.

Date: May 9, 2022

Location: Lebanon

Parties involved: Saad al-Hariri; Hezbollah; Lebanese citizens; Israel; USA; EU; United Kingdom (UK); Saudi Arabia

The event: Saad al-Hariri, a Sunni politician and one of Hezbollah's primary opponents, withdrew from the Lebanese elections; voter turnouts are expected to be low due to al-Hariri's withdrawal, helping Hezbollah eliminate opposition votes. Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shi'ite group, won 71 out of 128 parliament seats in 2018 and is projected to win two-thirds of the parliament seats in this election. Israel declared Hezbollah a national security threat and waged war against it in the past for terrorist activities. The US, UK, and several EU member states have also classified Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.[4] This election will occur while Lebanon struggles with its years-long financial crisis.[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Low voter turnout among Sunni Muslims and other groups opposing Hezbollah will very likely allow Hezbollah to win more seats in parliament and gain more influence in Lebanon’s government. Under Hezbollah’s leadership, Lebanon will likely witness an increase in kidnappings, aircraft hijackings, and suicide bombings on its soil, which will likely toughen its relations with Israel, the US, and the EU. Increased tensions between Lebanon and Israel will very likely increase violent confrontations, like airstrikes and artillery fire, which will almost certainly worsen Lebanon’s economic crisis and result in casualties and the destruction of infrastructure.

  • Hezbollah will likely strengthen Lebanon's diplomatic and military ties with Tehran. This would very likely lead to the deterioration of economic and diplomatic relations between Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries with a Sunni majority, such as Saudi Arabia. The Lebanese Sunni community will almost certainly not approve the election of Hezbollah politicians, very likely creating political instability and anti-Hezbollah demonstrations in Lebanon. Mounting political instability will likely further destabilize Lebanon and exacerbate current socio-economic issues.

 

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)


[1]Mahinda Rajapaksa in Russia.jpg” by Alexander Nikiforov licensed under Creative Commons

[2] Sri Lankan prime minister resigns after weeks of protests, Associated Press, May 2022, https://apnews.com/article/business-sri-lanka-indian-ocean-ad2724840cc42f4556797ad868559fae

[3]Sri Lankan president admits mistakes led to economic crisis, Associated Press, May 2022, https://apnews.com/article/business-biden-cabinet-sri-lanka-mahinda-rajapaksa-c85718a88d4ff03d2a72f969eb595afa

[4] A rival sits out Lebanon's election. Now Hezbollah could fill the void, Reuters, May 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/rival-sits-out-lebanons-election-now-hezbollah-could-fill-void-2022-05-09/

[5]Lebanon's Economic Update, The World Bank, April 2022, https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/lebanon/publication/economic-update-april-2022

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