Lebanon Daily News Brief 02/14/2022

Monday, February 14, 2022


Amal Movement Reiterates Disapproval of New Taxes, Parliament To Convene Next Week
Following last week’s remarks of disapproval in reaction to the draft 2022 budget – especially on the subject of new taxes – the Amal Movement, headed by Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, promised Monday ‘seriously study’ in the upcoming sessions of Parliament, which will be held on February 21st and 22nd. Finance Minister Youssef Khalil is close to the party and submitted the draft budget which was adopted by Najib Mikati’s cabinet last Thursday. The Amal Movement said that they, “despite what happened, will seriously discuss the draft budget in Parliament.” [L’Orient Today]

Jordan to Begin Electricity Exports in March
Jordanian Energy Minister Saleh Kharabsheh told Saudi owned TV station Al Arabiya that, pending the finalizing of a funding agreement with the World Bank, Lebanon can expect to receive imports of electricity from Jordan via Syria in March. [Reuters]

UNIFIL Head of Mission Mediates Last Tripartite Meeting of His Tenure
Last Friday, UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col of Italy chaired the first tripartite meeting of the year, which was also the last of his nearly four-year tenure. Senior Lebanese Army and Israeli army officers met with Major General Del Col at Ras al-Naqoura, in which he encouraged the delegations to continue their support of and commitment to the tripartite framework under the mediation of his successor, Major General Aroldo Lázaro Sáenz of Spain. [Naharnet]

Bahraini Shiite Opposition Group Al-Wifaq Defies Ban From Ministry of Interior
Bahraini Shiite opposition group al-Wifaq hosted an event titled “United for Justice” in the Rihab neighborhood of Ghobeiry, which is a southern suburb of Beirut that is considered a Hezbollah stronghold. The event defied last week’s order from the Minister of Interior and Municipalities Bassam Mawlawi, in which he directed security forces to cancel the event and another similar one. The order follows a previous decree in which Mawlawi ordered the deportation of all foreign nationals affiliated with the group. [L’Orient Today]



For Whom The Bell Tolls?
Jean AbiNader

AbiNader writes, “As I prepare for my return visit to Lebanon next month, I imagine how I will react to the sadness and despair of the poor and marginalized as clubs and restaurants continue to serve those who are able to spend their untouchable dollars by going out and facing life as it is. I am concerned with my reactions to the obvious lack of shame from the government leadership that can’t feed the families of the ISF and LAF, fund elections, pay the salaries of local staff at embassies abroad, can’t fund adequate public and private health services, and can’t prioritize Lebanon’s sovereignty above the agendas of groups who unashamedly take orders from their overseas overlords. One reaction is anger. Another reaction is sadness, and two recent pieces of news stand out. A UN Security Council report that followed on the World Bank’s release of a paper recounting the many misdeeds of the elite that brought the country to this point of dissipation. Add to that the pattern of migration from Lebanon that does not tell the usual story of ‘I’m going to emigrate for opportunities and a future’, but rather conveys a resigned feeling of ‘I’m tired, desperate, full of anger and sadness, and I have to go’.”

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Voters And Reformists Face Obstacles In Leadup To Lebanon’s May Elections
Steven Howard 

Howard writes, “The opposition is not the only group struggling to come together. The departure of Saad Hariri from Lebanese politics will provide a crucial test for the Sunni community who were once united under the banner of his Future Movement (FM). While there is concern about the ramifications of this departure for Lebanese politics, Ibrahim Johari argues that these orphaned Sunni FM supporters are a clear and obvious bloc of voters that opposition parties can target. For many of those who are challenging the status quo in the upcoming elections, they face many bureaucratic hurdles in order to organize and fundraise on a level to compete with the established players. Dana Hourany notes that Minteshreen, a leading opposition group born from the October 19 demonstrations, has yet to even receive its registration for the elections in May. They applied last June. Many of these newer political parties currently lack the necessary registration to both fundraise and campaign. Mark Daou of Taqaddom told Hourany that “[t]here are no employees in the Ministry of Interior to receive our papers, and they would tell you to not bother as there were already a ton of applications they had to go through first.” Hourany notes that Beirut Madinati waited for over three years to receive notification they were officially registered.” 

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AP News
Once Lebanon’s Center Of Glamour, Hamra Street Goes Dark
Bassem Mroue

Mroue writes, “Hamra Street was the center of Beirut’s glamour in the 1960s and 1970s, home to Lebanon’s top movie houses and theaters, cafes frequented by intellectuals and artists, and shops selling top international brands. It saw a revival the past decade, thriving with international chain stores and vibrant bars and restaurants. Now many of its stores are shuttered. Poverty-stricken Lebanese and Syrian refugees beg on its sidewalks. Trash piles up on its corners. Like the rest of Lebanon, the economic crash swept through the street like a destructive storm.”

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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.