Lebanon Daily News Brief 03/24/2022

Thursday, March 24, 2022


Minister of Economy & Trade: Food Security Challenges Imminent in 4-6 Months
According to a L’Orient Today interview with Minister of Economy & Trade Amin Salam, “The Economy and Trade Minister told L’Orient-Le Jour that there is no need for alarm, and that his team is already examining alternative solutions to Russian and Ukrainian wheat, while preparing for the possibility of a lifting of central bank subsidies on imports of this essential commodity.” [L’Orient Today]


Judge Summons Central Bank Governor for Questioning
Lebanese judge Nicolas Mansour is summoning Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh for questioning on March 31st, 2022 in addition to ordering his brother, Raja, to remain in custody following his detention last week. They are both being charged with illicit enrichment, pertaining to apartments purchased and rented in Paris. [Reuters]


Minister of Interior Requests Army to Protect Zouk Power Plant, Risk of Explosion
In a statement, Minister of Interior Bassam Mawlawi asked the army to send soldiers to Zouk Power Plant, in order to protect vulnerable fuel tanks and expired chemical materials, adding that “the plant’s current security situation is not appropriate due to the presence of holes in the electronic fence and the absence of any guards, which would allow individuals to enter into its premises, where hydrogen and fuel oil tanks and some expired dangerous materials are present.” [Naharnet]



Lebanon Needs International Support For Judicial Reform

Adnan Nasser

Nasser writes, “It has been almost two years since the devastating explosion in Beirut’s port that had taken the lives of more than 200 people and 6,500 wounded. Billions of dollars’ in property damage was also inflicted on the society. This exacerbated the existing economic declines, and depositors faced even more severe monetary erosion  as a result of the widening  financial meltdown, making it nearly impossible to rebuild some semblance of normalcy. People wanted to know why this could happen and what is being done to unearth the answers. The Lebanese courts are fighting to give the people the truth on who is responsible for storing 2,750 tons of Ammonium Nitrate (AN), the cause of the blast. Judge Tarek Bitar, a dedicated legal servant, is giving the Lebanese hope in the domestic judiciary as Aya Majzoub, a Human Rights Watch researcher,  told Al Jazeera. Indeed, his willingness to call on witnesses from the elite such as former Ministers Hasan Khalil, Ghazi Zeiter, and Nohad al-Mashnouk has rattled the fragile cages of the once perceived immunity these influential political figures possess. He is setting a precedent that a majority of Lebanese are not used to seeing, that of politicians being treated as if they are under the law and not above it.”

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Carnegie Middle East Center
Party All The Time

Araz Bedross

Bedross writes, “The total number of Armenian voters is officially estimated at 106,476, divided principally between 86,163 Armenian Orthodox voters and 20,313 Armenian Catholics. In the last elections of 2018, only 28 percent of registered voters participated. In districts where there are many Armenians, such as Beirut, only 10,800 out of 44,703 voted. In the Metn District of Mount Lebanon, 10,400 out of 31,839 voters participated. While in Zahleh, only 3,000 voted out of 10,000 registered voters. Generally speaking, Armenian voters can be divided into three categories. The first is made up of those who are strongly affiliated with the main Armenian parties. They tend to be afraid of change, and even when they seek to take a distance from the parties, they are afraid of where this might lead. Such behavior may mean they are denied assistance and health services provided by Armenian social organizations. These voters subscribe to the belief that if party candidates are not elected, this will impact Armenian identity and language negatively, weakening the community. Most of these voters live in Armenian neighborhoods administered by the main political parties.”

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USAID & Mercy Corps
Flash Update: Humanitarian Impact of Ukraine Conflict on Lebanon
“Lebanon faces significant fallout from the Ukraine conflict due to potential grain shortages and the economic impact of higher commodity prices – in particular fuel – when it can least afford it. Mired in one of the largest economic contractions in history, the heavily import dependent Lebanon must face down the prospect of higher commodity prices and a renewed collapse of the Lebanese lira. Lebanon’s economy will be negatively affected by these factors at a time when the government has proven largely unable to mitigate their impact, and is devoid of the resources to do so. This in turn will negatively affect Lebanon’s most vulnerable, with the cost of essential goods such as food and fuel disproportionately affecting the country’s poorest residents.1 In the context of rising humanitarian needs in Lebanon and a precarious macro-economic situation, the impact of the Ukraine conflict will exacerbate an already dire humanitarian situation, potentially prompting further political destabilization, undermining the potential for an economic recovery, and driving many more into dependence on humanitarian assistance.”

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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.