Lebanon Daily News Brief 05/04/21

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

May 4, 2021

Daily News

Diab Calls On Parliament to Pass Draft Law on Ration Card Funding
Caretaker Prime Minister Diab called on Parliament and BDL to find the funds required to cover costs of ration cards for Lebanese families. The annual cost for the subsidy card is $1.2 billion annually, while Lebanon would also be cutting spending on goods by $3.8 billion, he said. Diab said his cabinet would present a draft law to Parliament soon, and urged that it be passed as soon as possible. [The Daily Star]

French FM Le Drian to Arrive in Beirut Tomorrow
French Foreign Minister Le Drian will visit Lebanon this week and is expected to arrive in Beirut tomorrow. It’s reported that he will limit his meetings to President Aoun and Parliament Speaker Berri. The meetings are expected to focus on government formation and and French sanctions recently imposed. [Naharnet]

Locust Swarms Now Under Control
Lebanon’s Agriculture Ministry reported today that the locust wave that hit Lebanon two weeks ago is under control after sweeping through eastern and northeastern Lebanon. The ministry will continue to cooperate with the Lebanese Army to take care of several limited swarms that are still being detected in some areas. [The 961]

Lebanon and Israel Resume Maritime Border Talks 
Lebanon and Israel resumed maritime border talks today for the first time since they stalled after several rounds of negotiations last October. Earlier this month a draft decree that would expand Lebanon’s maritime claim was approved by Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister and ministers of defense and public works, but President Aoun rejected the request for presidential approval. US Ambassador John Desrocher is leading mediation efforts at the UNIFIL base in Naqoura. [Reuters]

Opinion & Analysis

The Atlantic
‘We Want a Nation’
Kim Ghattas

Ghattas writes, “Ten years on, it’s easy to view the Arab uprisings only as a failure. Democracy remains elusive in the Middle East, dictators are further entrenched, and wars have devastated entire countries. But amid the despair and fear, a new cohort of protesters and activists has taken to the streets since 2019…In Lebanon, at least a dozen new opposition groups that emerged from years of protests are actively preparing for legislative elections due next year. Although they are still struggling to present a unified front against an entrenched, corrupt political establishment made up in part of former warlords and Hezbollah, their effervescence is promising and includes the first ever effort at a kind of political action committee in the Middle East, Towards One Nation, which hopes to help bring opposition groups together, back candidates, and mobilize voters, all while fundraising in Lebanon and across the diaspora to support the campaigns.”

Read more here

Associated Press
As Lebanese Cry for Justice, Politics Paralyzes the System
Bassem Mroue

Mroue writes, “The judiciary [in Lebanon] is so deeply politicized it paralyzes the wheels of justice, mirroring how factional rivalries have paralyzed politics. Political interference in the judiciary has for years thwarted investigations into corruption, violence and assassinations. But mistrust of the judiciary is thrown into even starker relief now, when Lebanese are crying out for politicians to be held accountable for the disastrous crises in their country — not only the financial collapse but also last August’s massive explosion in Beirut’s port that killed scores and wrecked much of the capital. The explosion has been blamed on incompetence and neglect. Lebanon’s political posts are split up in a power-sharing system among sectarian-based factions. Judicial appointments are subject to the same sectarian allotment and horse-trading.”

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.