Protesters reject Carlos Ghosn as possible Lebanese politician

Carlos Ghosn. (AFP)
Updated 16 November 2019

Protesters reject Carlos Ghosn as possible Lebanese politician

BEIRUT: While Carlos Ghosn battles corruption cases in Japan, men and women on the streets of his country of origin, Lebanon, are up in arms against the malaise over misconduct by those in power.

As the Brazil-born French businessman faces legal action over alleged corruption during his tenure as a former CEO of Nissan and Renault, Lebanese citizens are into their fourth week of anti-government demonstrations against the country’s political elite.

Which is why they do not see a fallen figure such as Ghosn as a future political leader in Lebanon. Arab News spoke to a cross-section of protesters to get their views on the possibility of Ghosn being part of a future Lebanese administration.

Some pointed out that the 65-year-old’s political affiliation to Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil would be a major impediment to him succeeding in domestic politics.

Architect Karl Osta said Ghosn may have been “successful” with Nissan but the case against him changed everything. “Even like talking about labor rights, he wasn’t good at it with his employees. I am not proud of him being of Lebanese origin.” 

If Ghosn was acquitted in Japan, 26-year-old Osta felt he would still not want him as a politician, believing that he would “try to regain from the Lebanese people what he lost in Japan.”

Lebanese chef, Ali Daher, 27, said: “The only thing I know is that he held a top managerial position at a famous car company. He never submitted any political agenda to judge whether he would make a successful politician. I don’t know if he has any political vision.”

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The Brazil-born French businessman faces legal action over alleged corruption during his tenure as a former CEO of Nissan and Renault.

Hanadi Gerjess, 29, said Ghosn’s links with Bassil, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement and son-in-law of Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, would make him an unpopular choice for many.

“Prior to his impeachment process in Japan, Ghosn was known to be a very successful businessman. Following his detention, Lebanon’s most hated political figure (Bassil) supported Ghosn and intervened in an attempt to have him released,” added the post-graduate student.

Retired photographer, Nawal Maroun, 64, has joined protests in Lebanon since day one calling for an end to corruption in the existing regime. “Ghosn accumulated huge wealth. Driven by greed, he continued making money … and ended up facing legal action in Japan. Even if he is acquitted, I believe that he’d still be the same.”

Housewife Sabah Baghdo said she had taken part in demonstrations in Lebanon because she strongly believed that anyone involved in corruption should face justice.

“I didn’t know much about Ghosn except recently when he got apprehended over embezzlement and corruption charges and is being tried. Every person is prone to commit a mistake … but mistakes differ in terms of gravity,” she added. “I wouldn’t trust him as a politician in Lebanon.”

Retired businessman, Sam Ballout, 65, said he would prefer Ghosn to stay out of Lebanese politics. “Nissan’s former CEO proved to be a greatly successful businessman who lost his credibility once he became affiliated with Bassil.

“I trust that the Japanese judiciary will find the truth. I had great respect for him as a credible and prosperous businessman … once he starts dealing with politicians, he loses that credibility.”

Abbas Hammoud, a 27-year-old Lebanese engineer, anticipated that Ghosn would fail in politics. “I might regard him on a personal level, but he hasn’t offered anything to Lebanon that would make me proud of him.”


Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

Updated 21 January 2020

Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

  • Expert says sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in Libyan conflict unlikely

JEDDAH: With the conclusion of the Libya peace summit in Berlin on Sunday, it remains to be seen whether Turkey is willing to implement the provisions of the final communique and stay out of the conflict.

Ankara is accused of sending Syrian fighters to the Libyan battlefront in support of Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

During the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron voiced concerns over the arrival of Syrian and other foreign fighters in Tripoli, saying: “That must end.” 

Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst at Oxford University, speculates that Turkey will not deploy more troops.  

But he told Arab News that a sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in the Libyan conflict is unlikely for the moment as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will remain present “until the GNA’s future is secured.”

Noting the difficulty of enforcing the Berlin agreement, Ramani said Turkey might not be the first mover in breaching a cease-fire in Libya.

But he added that Turkey will not hesitate to deploy forces and upend the agreement if Haftar makes any moves that it considers “provocative.”

The summit called for sanctions on those who violate the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya.

Turkish opposition MPs recently criticized the expanded security pact between Ankara and the GNA, saying the dispatch of materials and equipment to Libya breaches the UN arms embargo.

Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.

Micha’el Tanchum, Analyst

The summit does not seem to have resolved ongoing disputes regarding the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, a planned natural gas pipeline connecting eastern Mediterranean energy resources to mainland Greece via Cyprus and Crete.

The Cypriot presidency accused Turkey of being a “pirate state,” citing Ankara’s recent drilling off its coasts just a day after Brussels warned Turkey that its plans were illegal.

Erdogan dismissed the warning and threatened to send to the EU some 4 million refugees that Turkey is hosting.

Turkey dispatched its Yavuz drillship to the south of Cyprus on Sunday, based on claims deriving from the maritime delimitation agreement with the GNA.

Turkey’s insistence on gas exploration in the region may be subject to sanctions as early as this week, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday.

Aydin Sezer, an Ankara-based political analyst, drew attention to Article 25 of the Berlin final communique, which underlined the “Libyan Political Agreement as a viable framework for the political solution in Libya,” and called for the “establishment of a functioning presidency council and the formation of a single, unified, inclusive and effective Libyan government approved by the House of Representatives.”

Sezer told Arab News: “Getting approval from Libya’s Haftar-allied House of Representatives would be a serious challenge for Ankara because Haftar recently considered all agreements with Turkey as a betrayal. This peace conference once more showed that Turkey should keep away from Libya.”

Many experts remain skeptical about the possible outcome of the summit. 

Micha’el Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, said: “Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.”