Lebanon’s Fugitive Central Bank Chief Epitomizes the Dangers of Impunity

Bank customers hold up a defaced poster of Central Bank chief Riad Salameh, right, reading, “Stole my future,” in Arabic, during a protest in front of the Central Bank, Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 6, 2021 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).
Bank customers hold up a defaced poster of Central Bank chief Riad Salameh, right, reading, “Stole my future,” in Arabic, during a protest in front of the Central Bank, Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 6, 2021 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).
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The lack of accountability can explain a lot of the worst behavior of state actors around the world. This is especially true in the Middle East, where elite impunity has been an ongoing driver of the cycles of conflict and destruction that have eviscerated the region in recent decades. And rarely is the connection between impunity and harm done by the state as clear as it is in Lebanon’s ongoing, epic economic meltdown. Since February, the symbol of that meltdown has been the head of Lebanon’s central bank, Riad Salameh, who is currently on the lam, fleeing the criminal charges […]

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