Monday, July 30, 2018

A lot has been written in the Lebanese media about the prospects for future oil and gas discoveries both on and off-shore, leading to speculation about how unproved discoveries would somehow solve the country’s fiscal woes. While voices are being raised to calm the optimism, noting the major hurdle of start-up requirements for moving ahead with exploration and production (E&P), it is worth looking at the future scenario within both the political and economic contexts.

The Oil and Gas Bulletin, a well-respected industry voice, noted in a recent article that Lebanon has several key obstacles that keep it from moving forward to build a new energy sector. “Lebanon does not seem to be ready — in terms of legislation, basic infrastructure, or skilled labor — to enter into the world of oil and gas...

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Recent Initiatives Offer Some Possible Answers

In the aftermath of the Helsinki Summit and references to moving forward on humanitarian assistance to the Syrian refugees, there were questions about what would be proposed as initiatives for longer-term solutions. Hezbollah’s Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah had already announced its initiative for a tripartite mechanism with Syrian authorities and Lebanon’s General Directorate of General Security to move forward on the issue. According to a Reuters report, “In a televised speech, Nasrallah said Hezbollah was establishing a mechanism to return ‘the biggest possible number’ of Syrians refugees who want to go home safely and voluntarily. We are ready to help ... and we will continue helping until this matter is settled politically and officially between...

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

While reading through the transcript of the joint press conference of Presidents Trump and Putin in Helsinki, there are many statements that have drawn the ire of analysts in Washington and elsewhere. But there are statements about the Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey that bear closer scrutiny for what they say and imply, and how the novel definition of Trump “realism,” which stresses partnership with the Russian leader, can contribute to solving the dilemma of refugee repatriation.

For example, President Putin noted that “As far as Syria is concerned, the task of establishing peace and reconciliation in this country could be the first showcase example of this successful joint work.” He believes that “Russia and the United States apparently can act proactively and take leaders...

Friday, July 6, 2018

Finance Minister Khalil warns of negative economic effects of slow government formation. In an article posted on Al Arabiya.net, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil made a strong case for accelerating the process of government formation. He believes that Lebanon needs to establish a government quickly to maintain confidence in the country and get to work on reforms to help an ailing economy. “It is important for political forces to be aware that time is not on our or anyone’s side. Therefore we urgently need to accelerate...the formation of a new government,” Khalil said in a statement from his office that was quoted in the post.

Although he has not be designated as a member of the incoming cabinet, he is highly regarded as a specialist in financial and economic affairs and is a senior repre...

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