Wednesday, January 31, 2018

ATFL President Ambassador Edward Gabriel and Executive Director Leslie Touma met with the newly confirmed Lebanese Ambassador to the United States, Gabriel Issa on Tuesday, January 30.

On January 24th, Ambassador Issa  presented to the President of the United States of America, H.E Donald J. Trump, his  Letter of Credence at the Oval Office. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

An ill-wind brought trash to beaches north of Beirut that once was part of a landfill
near the town of Jiyyeh. A major storm washed the garbage out to sea and then
returned it to cover Zouq Mosbeh beach. Members of Parliament are crying foul and
condemning a system that has been broken for years, causing the 2015 garbage
crisis, and subsiding only with promises from the government that have yet to be
implemented. The waste management issue is still before the government and
perhaps this latest round of trash terror will bring about some sustainable results.

Aoun visit to the Gulf 

President Michel Aoun made his first trip to the Gulf as the head of state, visiting
“brotherly” Kuwait, discussing economic support and cementing agreements on
several issues. According to various sources,...

Friday, January 19, 2018

According to a three-part series released by the online paper Politico, the US has
been tracking Hezbollah’s role at the nexus of drugs from South America, arms to
Iran and Syria, and drug shipments to the US and Europe via a clandestine network
of used car dealers in West Africa since 2008.

The probe, dubbed Operation Cassandra, was, according to the series, obstructed
by the Obama Administration, which concerned how it might upset US negotiations
of the nuclear deal with Iran. The claims in the series are nettlesome enough that
the Department of Justice has vowed to refresh the investigation and bring a harsh
light onto Hezbollah’s international activities in funding terrorism and arms
transfers through illicit drug operations, money laundering, and other criminal

The Politic...

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Maybe there may be some luck in Lebanon’s future after all. For 60 years, the people of Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon benefited from the region’s oil wealth, not directly, but as a result of the hundreds of thousands of their citizens who worked in the Gulf since the early 70s.

Visiting Aramco and cities throughout the Kingdom in the late 70s and early 80s, I invariably came across Lebanese working in Saudi Arabia (my Barakat cousins even had a company in Jeddah), in many positions related to the country’s development – from the financial sector to agriculture, food processing, retail, construction, engineering, and education, among others.

In those years, Yemeni shopkeepers recognized my accent from having lived in Sanaa, which only slightly affected the jabali (mountain = hillbilly Arabic...

Monday, January 8, 2018

Recent movements by Hezbollah and the Syrian Army on Israel’s northeast border and the strong likelihood of no US disapproval of any upticks in Israeli militancy regarding the Palestinians, Hezbollah, or its borders, has prompted statements and actions by Israel’s right that portend bad news for Lebanon’s stability and security.

While Lebanon’s government and citizens are pressing for more economic development, stability in the political arena, and incremental reforms needed for infrastructure projects, the war of words on the southern border are heating up, most recently around the visits of Syrian, Iranian, and Hezbollah military leaders to the area. The most immediate effects are the potential to divert government funds away from development to security, discourage international investor...

Friday, January 5, 2018

The New Year has some new looks and some old threats along Lebanon’s borders. Part of the good news is that Lebanon’s five official border crossings with Syria are all open, some of them closed for five years. Maybe more importantly for the Lebanese, the government has finally removed security barriers in the downtown section around Parliament Square, which were not only an eyesore, but a death knell for the businesses that once thrived in the area.

When I visited Lebanon in 2006 with my children, there was no better time than being part of the happy crowds strolling along the streets watching the World Cup and savoring the nightlife of Beirut. The area was closed off after a show of strength by Hezbollah in response to the government trying to reign in its illegal ITC network. Then the are...

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A recent story on featured an assessment of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s recent experiences and his vision for Lebanon in the c