Lebanon Daily News Brief 02/16/2022

Wednesday, February 16, 2022


Arrest Attempt on Riad Salameh Sparks Controversy, Judge Aoun Charges ISF Head With Obstruction
Yesterday, the State Security Forces, headed by Major General Tony Saliba, conducted raids on Central Bank governor Riad Salameh’s office and residences but was unsuccessful in bringing Salameh in for questioning, after he failed to show up for court hearings on three separate occasions. The hearings pertained to a suit filed against him by lawyers representing the civil society group, The People Want to Reform the System, which accuses him of embezzlement, wasting public funds, illegal enrichment and money laundering. Judge Ghada Aoun, who issued the subpoena against Salameh, “charged the director-general of the Internal Security Forces, Maj. Gen. Imad Othman, with obstructing the implementation of a judicial warrant and breaching the duties of his job,” following the reports that a standoff erupted between the Internal Security Forces who were assigned to protect Salameh’s residence and the State Security agents who were sent to enforce the subpoena. [L’Orient Today]

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt tweeted, “What would be better: the arrest of the central bank governor by the State Security agency and putting the institution under judicial guardianship or devising a program that would preserve depositors’ rights in collaboration with the IMF in order to halt the collapse?” [Naharnet]

The Future Movement issued a statement denouncing the raids as well as the charge issued against Maj. Gen. Othman, “The President’s insistence on this measure is aimed at serving the interest of the Free Patriotic Movement on the eve of parliamentary elections… It also aims to justify the shortcomings in the ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, to paralyze these negotiations and to undermine any possibility to achieve economic stability.” [Naharnet]


State Department Announces Reward of $10 Million For Information On Salim Ayyash
According to the US Department of State media note, “The U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the location or identification of Salim Jamil Ayyash, a senior operative in the assassination unit of the terrorist organization Lebanese Hizballah, or information leading to preventing him from engaging in an act of international terrorism against a U.S. person or U.S. property.” Ayyash was also sentenced in absentia to five concurrent life sentences by an international tribunal in December of 2020 on terrorism-related charges pertaining to the February 2005 suicide bombing that killed Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in downtown Beirut. [Department of State]


UN, Minister of Interior Co-Chair Second Elections Forum
The United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka and Minister of Interior and Municipalities Bassam Mawlawi co-chaired their second Elections Forum in preparation for the parliamentary elections scheduled for May 15, held at the Ministry in Beirut. Special Coordinator Wronecka stressed the importance that the elections be held on time in addition to stressing the role of public awareness campaigns, intensifying voter education as well as more providing more updates on out-of-country voting. [Naharnet]


Lebanon Wins Arab National Basketball Championship
The Lebanese national basketball team claimed victory in the finals of the 24th Arab basketball championship, which took place in the United Arab Emirates this February. [The961] Lebanon became the champion after beating Tunisia with a final score of 72-69. [MTV]



L’Orient Today
A Tale Of Opportunity And Need: Illegal Logging Is Rife In North Lebanon
Abby Sewell

Sewell writes, “In 2016, Lebanon was given a $55 million World Bank loan to clean up the Litani River and lake Qaraoun. Five years later only a fraction of the money has been spent, the river and lake remain an open sewer and cancer rates have skyrocketed. Will the people of the Bekaa Valley ever see the rest of the money, and enjoy clean water?”

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.