Lebanon Daily News Brief 07/11/2022

July 11th, 2022







Saudi National and Political Figure Murdered in Beirut
According to a Lebanese security source, a Saudi national and political dissident, Manea al-Yami, was stabbed to death in the Southern suburbs of Beirut. According to Reuters, “Yami, a member of the Saudi Shi’ite Ismaili Muslim minority, had been living in Lebanon since 2015, said senior [Saudi opposition National Assembly Party (NAAS)] member Yahya Assiri. He had been trying to secure safe passage to a third country.” [Reuters]




Massive Fire Near Roumieh
The Lebanese Army dispatched several water-dropping helicopters in tandem with the firefighting efforts of the Lebanese Civil Defense, as a large fire erupted in the forests of Roumieh, the village north-east of Beirut. According to the local chief of police, the fire was thought to be premeditated. [Naharnet]




EU Observers Discuss Post-Elections Recommendations with Leaders
According to L’Orient Today, “The European Union Election Observation Mission met on Friday with Lebanese authorities and representatives from political parties and civil society to discuss the 23 recommendations included in its report on the 2022 parliamentary elections, released Monday.” [L’Orient Today]




Lebanon’s Baalbek Music Festival Returns
Lebanon’s famous international music festival held in the Roman ruins of Baalbek returned for the first time since the country’s economic crisis under the theme, ‘Baalbek Nights Return.’ [Reuters]








British Embassy Beirut
Ambassador Collard: Farewell Lebanon

British Ambassador to Lebanon, Dr. Ian Collard

Ambassador Collard writes, “In my meetings with politicians and bankers, most seem not to want to accept that Lebanon must do everything that is asked in order to receive an international rescue package. There can be no Lebanon exceptionalism any more. Lebanon must adopt the necessary laws, open the books without preconditions, and reset the banking sector. The alternative is more and more of you forced into increasingly desperate measures to survive. Reform, done now, is the key to resolving Lebanon’s economic woes. Now is not the time for politicking. Never has it been more critical for your leaders to take the necessary decisions, however challenging that may be. They owe it to you to deliver better governance, transparency and accountability. They must show compassion and a commitment to bettering the lives of their fellow country people. Public interest must outweigh personal interest.” 

Read More Here




Arabs Believe Economy Is Weak Under Democracy

Jessie Williams, Sarah Habershon & Becky Dale

Williams, Habershon, and Dale write, “Arabs are losing faith in democracy to deliver economic stability across the Middle East and North Africa, according to a major new survey. Nearly 23,000 people were interviewed across nine countries and the Palestinian territories for BBC News Arabic by the Arab Barometer network. Most agreed with the statement that an economy is weak under a democracy. The findings come just over a decade after the so-called Arab Spring protests called for democratic change. Less than two years after the protests, just one of those countries – Tunisia – remained a democracy, but a draft constitution published last week could push the country back towards authoritarianism, if approved. Michael Robbins, director of Arab Barometer, a research network based at Princeton University which worked with universities and polling organisations in the Middle East and North Africa to conduct the survey between late 2021 and Spring 2022, says there has been a regional shift in views on democracy since the last survey in 2018/19.”

Read More Here








Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.






This Week In Lebanon: 07/09/2022


July 9, 2022

Lebanon Should Drill for Gas Regardless of Maritime Deal with Israel, MP Says
Lebanon Recovery Plan held up by Changes from PM
Addressing Food Insecurity in Crisis-Stricken Lebanon

Lebanon Should Drill for Gas Regardless of Maritime Deal with Israel, MP Says
In an interview with Sean Matthews, MP Neemat Frem makes the case that Lebanon should begin to drill for gas in uncontested areas as soon as possible. Frem anticipates that the negotiations with Israel will become delayed, especially with the upcoming elections there. [Middle East Eye]


As Lebanese MP Neemat Frem said, “We come to the negotiations in a very weak position …Israel is locked and loaded ready to go with Karish, while Lebanon doesn’t even have one commercially viable gas discovery.”  The government would have been in a stronger position knowing its resource potential through a vigorous exploration program rather than arguing about its border with Israel absent any determination of commercially viable energy. Now is the time for both sides to come to a resolution of the border. A deal will come together as long as US Special Envoy Amos Hochstein maintains the trust of both parties, who must in turn realize they will have to give up something to reach a fair compromise. 

-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

Lebanon Recovery Plan held up by Changes from PM
The $3 billion IMF bailout package from the IMF is contingent on reforms to Lebanon’s political system, including passage of a 2022 budget, banking secrecy reform, and capital control. Mikati’s previous government proposed a financial recovery plan to fill the $70 billion gap in the financial sector, which saw losses divided between the central bank, commercial banks, and depositors. That plan is now being revisited by Mikati’s current government. [Reuters]

The lack of transparency regarding the implementation of the IMF bail-out, and the contradictory messages from the government are dragging Lebanon further into a beggar-nation status. There is a staff-level agreement to be implemented. While debate is welcome, to further delay its implementation only drives the Lebanese people into more desperation. Using public assets like MEA and public companies is not an optimal solution. And, the sooner Lebanon has a national budget that spells out new disciplines in government spending, the better. What’s the point in using the previous exchange rate when it’s a charade that serves no good end?

-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader

Addressing Food Insecurity in Crisis-Stricken Lebanon
After surviving three years of economic turmoil, the Lebanese now face rising inflation and both macroeconomic and political crises. The people are suffering and food security one of the top humanitarian plights of the Lebanese people. [Lebanese Center for Policy Studies]


Lebanon is in a food crisis. Over half the population is food insecure and surveys indicate that both the quantity and quality of food supplies are lacking. Yet, there are short-term remedies. The new parliament needs to approve without delay the $150 million loan from the World Bank for wheat supplies. Parliament should implement the new competition law to reduce monopolistic practices and price-fixing by importers/sellers. This will enable greater access at reasonable prices for consumers. So, if the new parliament needs an agenda, here are two ready steps.

-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.

Lebanon Daily News Brief 07/08/2022



July 8th, 2022


Reports of Maritime Negotiations to Resume Soon
According to Naharnet, “A major progress is expected in the negotiations over the sea border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel, according to media reports and to both Lebanese and Israelis . . . the U.S. will try to convince Israel to give Lebanon the Qana field, ‘without any compensation in return’.” [Naharnet]

Fire in Beirut Port Silos Extinguished
After a fire broke out yesterday evening in the damaged grain silos at the Beirut port, firefighters extinguished the blaze that was reportedly caused by the fermentation of wheat that had remained in the silos. [L’Orient Today]

General Security Announces New Passport Procedure Amid Public Servant Strikes
In an announcement today, the Management of General Security said, “Due to the civil servants’ strike and the impossibility of obtaining new individual civil status extracts, and to facilitate applications for obtaining biometric passports for those who have made an appointment on the platform and who meet the specific conditions, the management of the General Security announces that it accepts applications for the renewal of these passports without the need to present an extract from individual civil status.” [L’Orient Today]


Soaring Food Prices Put Damper On Eid Al-Adha In Mideast

Nidal Al-Mughrabi and Ahmed Rasheed

Al-Mughrabi and Rasheed write, “Eid al-Adha, one of Islam’s two main festivals, marks the climax of the annual haj pilgrimage, when Muslims slaughter animals to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim, or Abraham, to sacrifice his son on God’s command, often distributing meat to the poor. But this year people in many Arab countries say higher prices mean they cannot afford the important tradition, reflecting the impact of the Ukraine war which has piled more pressure on already high global food prices . . . In Lebanon, where a three-year-long economic crisis has caused soaring poverty, butcher Makhaber Hassan said sheep prices were rising by the day, now standing at $250 – roughly 7.5 million Lebanese pounds.” 

Read More Here

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.



Lebanon Daily News Brief 07/07/2022

July 7th, 2022







UN Security Council Urges Swift Formation of Government
In a statement put forward by the United Nations Security Council, the multilateral body stressed the need for, “expediting the formation of a government to implement necessary reforms . . . [and for] all political actors to work together to prioritize the national interest and to rise to the challenges facing the Lebanese people.” [Al Arabiya English]




Parliamentary Committee Reviews Banking Secrecy Amendments, Capitol Control Law Discussed
According to L’Orient Today, “The Finance and Budget Committee began reviewing the government’s proposed amendments to the banking secrecy law on Thursday, with the committee’s head projecting that the review will be completed in 10 days. Also on Thursday, Deputy Parliament Speaker Elias Bou Saab held roundtable discussions with experts around the capital control draft law.” [L’Orient Today]




Nationwide Blackout Averted After Operator Partially Paid for Services
Yesterday, Lebanon’s state electricity company announced that the Zahrani and Deir Ammar power plants would shut down at 5pm because of unpaid debts to the plant’s operator, Primesouth. An hour after the electricity had been cut, EDL was informed by the Central Bank that the debts had partially been paid and subsequently instructed Primesouth to reinstate service to the Zahrani station. The Deir Ammar plant was set to reopen today at 2 PM. [The National]




Data Collection Underway in Audit of Central Bank
In a meeting between Lebanese President Michel Aoun and James Daniell, who is the managing director of the consultancy firm tasked with the forensic audit of Lebanon’s Central Bank, Alvarez and Marsal, it was publicized that the data collection process had already begun. [L’Orient Today]








Middle East Institute
Special Briefing: President Biden’s Trip To The Middle East

Paul Salem, Brian Katulis, Karen E. Young, Gerald M. Feierstein, Bilal Y. Saab, Alex Vatanka, Mirette F. Mabrouk, Khaled Elgindy, Eran Etzion, Mick Mulroy, Mohammed Mahmoud, Iulia-Sabina Joja, and John Calabrese

Paul Salem and Brian Katulis write, “A key objective for this trip is to send a signal that the United States remains committed to the region at a time of geopolitical uncertainty. President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East comes at another critical moment for this troubled, and troubling, region. Tensions between Iran on the one hand and Israel and a number of Arab Gulf countries on the other, stand at a crossroads between the possibility of a U.S. and Iranian return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the risk of a rapid escalation toward armed conflict.”

Read Full Briefing Here




The National
Lebanon’s Social Contract Has Collapsed, But Why Is There No Move To Revive It?

Michael Young

Young writes, “As Lebanon’s prime minister designate, Najib Mikati, tries to form a new government, most observers believe that his chances of doing so are very low. Partly that is because it may not be worth it since a presidential election is scheduled later this year and the government will have to resign once again. Therefore, Mr Mikati may simply prefer to keep his current caretaker government in place. But a more profound reason is that the prime minister designate doesn’t want to face the demands of the political parties and satisfy all sides. The reason for this is that Lebanon’s political system has become essentially ungovernable. The notion of sectarian compromise at its heart has become a justification for continuous obstructionism as each side tries to secure its interests. With the collapse of the economy that began in November 2019, followed by the complete immobility of the political class in introducing reforms to ameliorate the social and economic situation, one conclusion is inevitable: the system is utterly incapable of addressing Lebanon’s national challenges. In effect, the country’s social contract is dead.”






Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.





Lebanon Daily News Brief 07/06/2022

July 6th, 2022







Protests Over Economic Circumstances, Telecom Tariffs
Following recent spikes in the cost of phone and internet services amid already dire economic circumstances for the vast majority in Lebanon, hundreds of protesters expressed their anger in front of the headquarters of several institutions and companies around the Lebanese capital, including Électricité du Liban (EDL), the Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL), and the telecom company, MTC Touch. [The National] Protests occurred outside of the capital, too, in particular near MTC Touch’s offices in Tripoli and Baalbek. [L’Orient Today]




Air Traffic Controllers To Stop Working Nights in August
Late last night, Lebanese air traffic controllers announced a halt on night shifts starting in August amid labor shortages due to the worsening economic situation. [L’Orient Today]




Caretaker Minister of Displaced Announces Intention to ‘Repatriate’ Syrians Without Blessing of UNHCR
According to L’Orient Today, “Caretaker Minister of the Displaced Issam Charafeddine confirmed Wednesday that ‘Lebanon will follow the plan to return Syrians refugees to their country, regardless of the UNHCR’s position,’ after the UN refugee agency said it was not part of any negotiation to repatriate refugees to their strife-stricken home country . . . Charafeddine announced Monday that Lebanese officials are working on a plan to repatriate 15,000 Syrian refugees to Syria every month.” [L’Orient Today]




‘Forces of Change’ Bloc of 13 MPs Submits Legislation in Parliament Aiming to Strengthen Protection of Gold Reserves
The “Forces of Change” parliamentary bloc, made up of 13 MPs, submitted legislation to the Lebanese Parliament aiming to, “[strengthen] the protection of gold reserves at Banque du Liban.” The submission of the 13 MPs stipulates that the original 1986 law, upon which their legislation is based, prohibits BDL from using the gold reserves without Parliamentary approval, but does not protect against the gold being swapped for other commodities, or used in ways other than directly selling it. [L’Orient Today]








Viewpoints Series, Wilson Center
President Biden’s ‘Abraham Accords’ Trip: Five Key Issues

James F. Jeffrey

Jeffrey writes, “Joe Biden’s first presidential visit to the Middle East is shaping up as a potential game-changer in American actions and attitudes towards the region.  Just a few months ago, the cover of Foreign Affairs proclaimed, “The Middle East Moves On: In Search of a Post-American Order.” Well, a fair interpretation of the run-up to the July visit is that much of the Middle East would actually prefer to stick with Washington. And the administration, at first hesitant about engagement there beyond returning to the JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran, clearly is listening. The president’s ambitious program between Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia will culminate in a meeting between him and leaders of nine Arab states, four of which (UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt) already have relations with Israel. He will also meet with Iraq, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, and hold an innovative virtual summit with US, Israeli, Indian and UAE leaders, which underscores the administration’s ‘by-with-and-through’ security relationships with key regional players, while ensuring that Israel is included in them.”




Middle East Eye
Lebanon Should Drill For Gas Regardless Of Maritime Deal With Israel, MP Says

Sean Matthews

Matthews writes, “Lebanon must prepare to drill for gas regardless of whether or not it strikes a maritime demarcation deal with Israel, as its window to exploit Mediterranean energy is rapidly closing, Lebanese MP Neemat Frem told Middle East Eye. ‘I’m worried that the most likely outcome is that talks with Israel will stall,” Frem said in an interview with MEE in Washington . . . We [Lebanon] need to prepare very quickly for ‘plan B’, which means drilling in non-contested areas as soon as possible,’ he added. Lebanon and Israel have been engaged in US-brokered talks to resolve a festering maritime dispute over the potentially gas-rich territory since 2020. Negotiations have been complicated by the fact that the two countries lack diplomatic relations and are technically in a state of war.”






Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.







Lebanon Daily News Source 07/05/2022



July 5th, 2022


Hezbollah Drones Shot Down Near Karish Gas Field
On Saturday, three unarmed drones launched by Hezbollah were shot down by the Israeli military. Amid ongoing negotiations between the Israeli and Lebanese governments over the maritime boundary, Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Abdallah Bou Habib said, “Lebanon believes that any actions outside the state’s framework and diplomatic context while negotiations are taking place is unacceptable and exposes it to unnecessary risks.” [AP News]

Amal MP’s Submit Legislation Prohibiting ‘Messing with Deposits’
Yesterday, two Amal Movement MPs, Ali Hassan Khalil and Nasser Jaber, submitted legislation to the Lebanese Parliament prohibiting the Central Bank of Lebanon from, “messing with bank deposits, or reducing or haircuts from it from any side and disregarding the reason for the nature of this act, be it direct or indirect.” [L’Orient Today]

US Navy Offers Reward for Information on Illicit Cargos in Middle East
According to Reuters, “The U.S. Navy will for the first time reward individuals for providing information that leads to the seizure of illicit cargos such as illegal weapons or narcotics in waters across the Middle East, it said on Tuesday . . . The statement did not mention a specific country as being a target of the reward programme, but its implementation could complicate the shipments of Iranian weapons to Tehran’s allies in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.” [Reuters]

Israeli Caretaker Prime Minister Meets French President, Discusses Lebanon
Caretaker Prime Minister of the Israeli government, Yair Lepid, met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris to discuss a variety of issues, including the issues of the maritime border negotiations with the Lebanese government and Hezbollah’s weapons. [AP News]


The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies
Addressing Food Insecurity In Crisis-Stricken Lebanon

Souhad Abou Zaki, Leila Dagher, and Amin Salam

Abou Zaki, Dagher, and Salam write, “Almost three years into the economic crisis, Lebanon shows no sign of recovery. The sharp decline in economic activity, coupled with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising inflation, has pushed thousands of Lebanese households into poverty and unemployment. In addition to the rising poverty, the heavily indebted country that has long been struggling with structural macroeconomic anomalies and persistent political instability is now haunted by the sinister memories of the ‘great famine.’ Concerns about food and nutrition insecurity are intensifying at both the national and sub-national levels as the main food security indicators started to follow an alarming trajectory. Thus, there is a pressing need for government to prioritize food security and take immediate actions to prevent hunger and malnutrition. Examining the changing trends in the four main food security pillars, this brief provides several actionable policy recommendations that are urgently needed to strengthen food security in the short and medium-term, at both the national and household levels, recognizing the need for a more comprehensive food security plan that addresses food and nutrition security in its totality.”

Arab News
Lebanon-Israel Maritime Border Dispute Returns To The Fore

Najia Houssari

Houssari writes, “US mediator Amos Hochstein sent a proposal to Lebanon in March on the demarcation starting from Line 23, which was drawn in a zigzag form. Lebanon handed him an oral response, which he did not reveal, pending the Israeli response. Lebanon has been unable to confirm that Line 29 — which includes the Karish gas field — is the maritime border of Lebanon due to the failure of President Michel Aoun to sign a draft amendment to Decree 6433. It was issued in 2011 and specified that Line 23 was the point for negotiations with Israel to demarcate the maritime borders. However, Aoun considers Line 29 to be the point for negotiations. Line 29 gives Lebanon an additional area estimated at 1,430 square km while, according to the decree deposited with the UN, Lebanon only gets 860 square km of the disputed area . . .Former MP Fares Souaid said: ‘Hezbollah’s drones over Karish are aimed at reminding all parties that Iran is present in the ongoing negotiations between Lebanon and Israel over border demarcation under American auspices and at the expense of the Lebanese interest . . . The incident confirmed by Hezbollah may take place once again, and more serious incidents may occur. Therefore, we call on the nation’s representatives to raise the issue of Iran’s occupation within Parliament’.”

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.

This Week In Lebanon: 07/04/2022


July 4, 2022

PM Mikati Holds Consultations with MPs, Blocs Over Govn’t Formation
Gallup Poll: World’s Angriest Country is Lebanon
Kinopolitics and the Myth of Borders

PM Mikati Holds Consultations with MPs, Blocs Amid ‘Urgent’ Need for Govn’t Formation
This week, Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati held several rounds of non-binding consultations with various parliamentary blocs regarding the formation of a new government. [Naharnet] While most Parliamentarians stressed the urgency of forming a new government amid Lebanon’s debilitating and worsening economic crisis, other MPs denounced any configuration of a ‘national-unity’ government, stressing instead the need for a ‘government made up of independents’. [L’Orient Today


The unwise bickering among parliamentarians and with government officials better stop before it’s too late. This country will be bankrupt within a year if compromise among various competing groups is not found. There are several important issues which must be addressed in the coming weeks – IMF priority legislation, maritime border negotiations, formation of a caretaker government, and parliamentarian coalitions coming together to move legislation forward. While avenues toward Lebanon’s recovery and reform still exist, policymakers of all stripes better wake up by putting their country above their political ambitions and allegiances – and soon. If not, this failure will be on their hands. 

-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

Gallup Poll on Global ‘Emotional Temperature’: World’s Angriest Country is Lebanon
Based on figures published through Statista, Gallup’s Global Emotions poll observed that Lebanon is the world’s angriest country, followed closely by Turkey. The data used in the report came from surveys of 1000 individuals across over 100 countries, aged 15 and older, in which respondents were asked whether they had experienced anger in the past 24 hours, alone. In Lebanon, 49% of all respondents answered ‘yes’. [Statista]

Well, wouldn’t you be angry too, considering nothing has gotten better? The elections have been a source of both hope and frustration. Energy is projected to be better in the spring – doubling from 4 to 8 hours, depending on who is doing the calculation. The maritime negotiations continue dragging on, Syria continues shipping drugs to Lebanon as an intermediary for markets in the Gulf and Europe, and the judicial system is effectively torn between politics and justice – not very promising. Come on, Lebanon! The people want positive actions to rebuild trust and hope.

-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader

Kinopolitics and the Myth of Borders: How Ukraine Shapes Lebanon’s Refugee Landscape
Jasmin Lilian Diab highlights how the Russia-Ukraine conflict has not only led to new refugee crises, but has exacerbated existing ones, especially in the greater Middle East region. For Lebanon in particular, the more than 23.4 million people in need of humanitarian aid – which includes vulnerable Lebanese, Palestinians, and Syrians – have been hard hit by the overwhelming economic ramifications of the war in Ukraine on the global food and energy markets. Moreover, Diab makes a larger observation about the erratically shifting focus of the international community on humanitarian crises across the globe, and the unhelpful partialities that emerge when some groups of refugees are characterized as ‘civilized’, while others are overlooked and forgotten. [Wilson Center]


The costs of the war in Ukraine have gone far beyond its borders. Syrian and Palestinian refugees as well as the Lebanese are collectively facing growing food scarcity and declining international assistance as funds are increasingly diverted to the more than 6.8 million Ukrainians displaced by the war. On top of their humanitarian needs, the issue of human dignity again becomes critical as the new refugees, the “civilized” ones, are pitted against those from largely Muslim countries who are otherized. People -all people – deserve to be protected against the ravages of largely man-made disasters, especially in these challenging times for so many around the world. 

-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.

Lebanon Daily News Brief 07/01/2022



July 1st, 2022


US Ambassador Briefs President Aoun on Status of Maritime Border Negotiations
US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea visited the Lebanese President Michel Aoun at Baabda Palace today to brief him on the outcome of the latest, ‘productive’ talks between US Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein and the Israeli government regarding the delineation of Lebanon’s Southern maritime border. [Naharnet

Conference of Thirty Governments Convenes to Discuss Hezbollah’s International Network
The Law Enforcement Coordination Group (LECG), a group of over thirty governments from the Middle East, South American, Central American, African, Indo-Pacific, and North American regions, convened for the ninth time and focused on the issue of combatting Hezbollah and its international network. According to a State Department statement, LECG participants noted that [Hezbollah’s ongoing global terrorist plotting, weapons procurement, and financial schemes] demonstrate the growing recognition among our partners about the need to cooperate on our efforts to counter Hezbollah’s global terrorist networks.” [Al Arabiya English]

PM-Designate Meets with President Over Cabinet Formation
According to Naharnet, Al-Jadeed said that Aoun, during the meeting, proposed to Mikati the idea of ​​expanding the government from 24 to 30 ministers, including political members and ministers of state. It added that the two leaders discussed in the meeting the structure of the government rather than the names of the ministers.” [Naharnet]

Caretaker Minister: Bread Smuggling to Syria Rampant
According to Caretaker Minister of Economy and Trade, Amin Salam, bread bundles are being smuggled across the border into Syria as part of a larger scheme involving illegal stockpiling of supplies at a time when Lebanon has been experiencing bread and flour shortages. [L’Orient Today]


To Deal Or Not To Deal – The Maritime Boundary Negotiations
Adnan Nasser

Nasser writes, “Reports from international media indicate that Lebanon may be ready to consider compromising with Israel over resolution of the disputed areas to achieve a final deal over their shared maritime gas resources. The information was leaked to Reuters by three Lebanese officials with knowledge on the matter. American Senior Energy Advisor, Amos Hochstein is mediating on behalf of the United States since, technically, Israel and Lebanon are still at war and have not participated in direct negotiations that would bring about an acceptable settlement.”

L’Orient Today
It Takes Lebanon An Average Of 111 Days To Form A Government
Salah Hijazi

Hijazi writes, “Since the end of the Syrian tutelage over Lebanon and the withdrawal of the Syria regime’s troops on April 26, 2005, the formation of a government and its entry into service (after the vote of confidence in Parliament) takes an average of 111 days, according to calculations by L’Orient-Le Jour. The Tripolitan billionaire could therefore have difficulty forming a cabinet, especially in the face of some political actors’ intransigence. The stakes are high: the presidential election, scheduled to begin at the end of August, two months before Aoun’s term in office expires, may not take place. In the event of a presidential vacuum, the president’s prerogatives would constitutionally fall to the cabinet. This situation once again highlights one of the main causes of the Lebanese crisis: the impossibility of governance due to a practice that has continued to drift since the Taif Agreement and that requires an accord between all parties. This is a look back at all the times the logic of compromise or vacuum had the upper hand.”

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.