Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay, who is in Beirut to survey the destruction following last week’s massive explosions, said his country is ready to help rebuild the harbor. Speaking after a meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Oktay said Lebanon can use Turkey’s Mersin port until the Beirut port is rebuilt.
“Turkey is ready to help rebuild the heavily damaged Beirut port and nearby buildings,” the vice president said.
Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit vowed on Saturday to mobilize Arab efforts to provide support to Lebanon after the explosion in Beirut destroyed large parts of the capital. “We are ready to help with all our means,” he said.
An international conference call organized by France will be held on Sunday to discuss aid for Lebanon.
Turkey is eager to get the contract for rebuilding Beirut harbor. The Turkish lira has dropped to record lows against the dollar last week, and the country is facing an imminent balance-of-payments crisis. The current exchange rate is 7.29 Turkish lira per $1.
Scope Ratings has ranked Turkey as among its “Risky-3” economies most at risk of a balance of payments crisis. On July 10, the same rating agency downgraded Turkey’s credit ratings to B+ from BB.
Turkish debt will be higher than 40% of GDP this year, and the sinking lira is not only raising inflation, it is killing Turkey’s ability to pay up its debt, seeing as 50% of the government’s debt is in foreign currency. A long-term deterioration of the exchange rate could soon spiral into the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan government’s effective bankruptcy as it will be unable to service its public debt.
Assuming France will be in charge of the international aid effort to Lebanon, Turkey may not have an easy time landing the port rebuilding contract or parts of it. On his visit to Beirut last week, French President Emmanuel Macron promised the Lebanese that aid to rebuild the city would not go to “corrupt hands.” He was mostly referring to the current coalition of villains and idiots who have been running the country into the abyss, but he might as well have included Lebanon’s “friends” such as Syria, Iran and Turkey.