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.”

SPEEDREAD

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.”


Iran nuclear deal parties meet as accord nears collapse

Updated 58 min 51 sec ago

Iran nuclear deal parties meet as accord nears collapse

  • Envoys from Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran will take part in the meeting
  • Iran insists that under the agreement it has the right to take measures in retaliation for the US’s withdrawal from the deal

VIENNA: The remaining signatories to the faltering 2015 Iran nuclear deal will meet in Vienna on Friday with the survival of the landmark agreement at stake after Tehran vowed to continue to breach the deal’s limits on its nuclear program.
Envoys from Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran will take part in the meeting, which is the first time the six parties will have gathered in this format since July.
Since May, Iran has taken a series of measures, including stepping up uranium enrichment, in breach of the 2015 deal, with another such move likely in early January.
Iran insists that under the agreement it has the right to take these measures in retaliation for the US’s withdrawal from the deal in 2018 and reimposition of crippling sanctions.
Since last month, European members have in turn begun raising the possibility of triggering the so-called “dispute resolution mechanism” foreseen in the accord, which could lead to the resumption of UN sanctions on Iran.
On the eve of what was already likely to be a strained meeting, Britain, France and Germany accused Iran of developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, in a letter to the UN on Thursday.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif dismissed the allegation as “desperate falsehood.”
However, despite the mounting tension observers say Britain, France and Germany are unlikely to trigger the dispute resolution mechanism on Friday when their diplomats attend the joint commission meeting chaired by senior EU official Helga-Maria Schmid.
Analysts say if UN sanctions are re-imposed and the deal falls apart, Iran could also withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
“It’s not clear whether that’s worth the benefit,” Ali Vaez from the International Crisis Group told AFP.
But he warned the risk of the deal collapsing was increasing as Iran was “running out of measures that are easy to reverse and non-controversial.”
“Both sides are locked into an escalatory cycle that is just very hard to imagine that they would step away from,” he said.
Francois Nicoullaud, former French ambassador to Iran, also says tensions were expected to continue to rise.
“Maybe it won’t be this time, but (the deal falling apart) will certainly be in the background of the discussions,” Nicoullaud told AFP.


Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani warned Sunday that if European partners triggered the dispute mechanism, Tehran may “seriously reconsider” its commitments to the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors the deal’s implementation.
European efforts to shield Iran from the effects of US sanctions by creating a mechanism to carry on legitimate trade with the Islamic republic have borne little fruit, much to Tehran’s frustration.
The EU is growing increasingly concerned by Tehran rowing back from its commitments.
The dispute resolution mechanism in the deal has numerous stages, but it can eventually culminate in the UN Security Council voting on whether Iran should still have relief from sanctions lifted under the deal.
In such a scenario, says Vaez, “we will have a major non-proliferation crisis on our hands in the sense that the Russians and the Chinese have already declared they would not recognize the return of (sanctions).”
Vaez said in the end the path to a diplomatic solution would depend on Washington’s next moves and whether it would at least be willing to relax its attempts to prevent sales of Iranian oil, a vital source of income for the country.
“The remaining parties to the deal have proved incapable of providing Iran with any kind of breathing space,” Vaez said.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that Tehran is willing to return to the negotiating table if the United States first drops sanctions.