Tuesday, April 21, 2020

In early April, details of proposed economic reforms by the Lebanese government headed by PR Hassan Diab were leaked to the media. If approved by the Council of Ministers and the Parliament, it is supposed to provide a framework for negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and international donors. While it has some helpful details about dealing with the budget deficits, restructuring the banking sector, providing support for the Lebanese currency, and efforts to crackdown on corruption and retrieve monies from capital flight.

ATFL asked its economic consultant, Samir El Daher, who served at the World Bank and has a career of advising public officials, for his assessment of what is public knowledge about the plan.

His response:

In a document released in early April, the Lebanes...

Monday, April 20, 2020

UNIFIL forces stationed in Southern Lebanon were able to position themselves on April 15th between the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Israeli troops to intervene before tensions broke out. Lebanon charged Israel with crossing the “Blue Line,” the controversial demarcated border between the two countries established in 2000. A “high alert” went out as Lebanese troops faced off with the Israeli soldiers, but UNIFIL intervened before things got out of hand.  UNIFIL later stated that there were no infractions over the border.

During a visit in June of 2019, an ATFL delegation visited the LAF Southern headquarters and the Blue Line and were encouraged by what we saw. One critical task was bringing together Israeli and Lebanese military for a meeting every six weeks to discuss infractions and di...

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The pandemic is affecting Lebanon deeply, as it is globally, and its impact is being felt in three related circles: the health toll of the virus, the stress on the local economy from the lockdown, and the larger impact on the failing financial system. While it has not reached the level of other countries in the region, as of April 13, there were 630 confirmed cases, 80 have recovered, and 20 have died. Some have pointed out that this may be an under count due to uncounted visitors from Iran being cared for by Hezbollah. Reporting from the Palestinian and refugee camps has been inadequate to date but the Ministries of Health and Social Affairs have pledged to work with UN agencies and NGOs to coordinate efforts to combat the pandemic among the refugee populations.

A lockdown was initiated on...

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