Lebanon Daily News Brief 05/18/2022

Wednesday, May 18, 2022




Hezbollah Secretary General Acknowledges Loss of Parliamentary Majority
According to Reuters, “The leader of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged his party and its allies had lost their parliamentary majority in elections but said no single group had taken it, in his first televised speech since Sunday’s election. ‘Unlike the situation in parliament in 2018, no political group can claim a majority,’ he said.” [Reuters]

Ministry of Interior Corrects Turnout Figure to 49.19%
According to L’Orient Today, “L’Orient Today raised the issue of the number of registered voters with the ministry and election observers yesterday. Today, its website has been updated with new numbers that correspond with those in the final voter list, raising the overall turnout to 49.19 percent. This is on par with the 2018 turnout figure of 49.7 percent, upending the narrative that has been developing of an election with far lower turnout than previous ones.” [L’Orient Today]

Bread and Fuel, Energy Crises Persist
According to Ali Ibrahim, head of the Syndicate of Bakery Owners in Lebanon, “The flour crisis will grow and we will witness more queues outside bakeries.” The Secretary of the Gas Distributors Syndicate, Jean Hatem, said, “there is no (cooking) gas crisis, [because] the quantities are available but the problem lies in the dollar . . . Some companies delivered around 10% of the gas yesterday, but supply completely stopped today, and Energy Minister Walid Fayyad has promised us to issue a rate list today so that gas can be delivered again to the market.” [Naharnet]


Eurasia Review
Lebanon’s Elections Promise Change And Reforms

Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg
Aluwaisheg writes, “When the new parliament convenes, it will have many tasks at hand, with the most urgent being the economic situation and ending Lebanon’s isolation. Lebanon’s reputation can be restored when its institutions are working together to advance the country’s interests and refrain from interfering in its neighbors’ affairs. The parliament’s next important task is preparing for the selection of the next president, which should be carried out without intimidation or threats of violence, so as to give the new incumbent the credibility and authority that he or she will need.” 

Middle East Institute
Special Briefing: Lebanese Elections Reshape The Political Scene

Paul Salem, Fadi Nicholas Nassar, Carmen Geha, Bilal Y. Saab, Brian Katulis, Georges El Khoury, and Others 
Nassar writes, “It is this appeasement and acceptance of political violence, enabled by corrupt and broken elites and brokered with the tacit consent of international actors, that Lebanon’s opposition, and the electorate that voted them in, have now challenged. From the right-wing and center-leaning traditional parties to the emerging anti-establishment independent groups in the new parliament, those outside Hezbollah’s axis have chosen confrontation, not compromise.”

Geha writes, “The political order is an exclusionary one: It excludes non-loyalists, non-nationals, women, youth, the elderly — basically anyone that is not loyal to or benefiting from the establishment of violent mafia rule. This needs to change and now that we have a large group of revolutionary reformist parliamentarians, we have the opportunity to support this change.”

El Khoury writes, “This considerable surge in voter registration and turnout abroad can be attributed to the increase in political awareness among Lebanese expats, their disillusionment with the current establishment, and their ability to distance themselves from the day-to-day struggles of Lebanese life. Devastating incidents such as the 2020 Beirut port explosion as well as all-encompassing financial and social crises have fueled a desire for change, particularly among expats who have spent the past two years watching their home country sink deeper and deeper into the abyss.”

The National
With Fewer Seats, Lebanon’s Corrupt Parties Could Be Even More Dangerous
“Limited hope is being placed in a new generation of opposition MPs. Early signs indicate that some of them might have done well. In Lebanon’s broken system, what appears to be a dent in the number of seats for Hezbollah’s allies is also consequential. For example, the Lebanese Forces party has gained ground, at the expense of Gebran Bassil, President of the Free Patriotic Movement and a key Hezbollah ally . . . Hezbollah has never been afraid to block progress when it does not suit its objectives. A blow to the popularity of the worst offenders in Lebanon’s broken politics might be a welcome reminder that elections have some effect – and perhaps could have real clout one day – but if the long-term result is simply another stalemate of the kind that has crippled Lebanon for many months, this year’s very modest victory could soon look to be entirely Pyrrhic.”

Wilson Center
Lebanon’s Election Offers No Salvation

David Hale
Hale writes, “It is hard to insert a la carte independents into a system favoring fixed price menus, especially if independents don’t form coalitions of their own, as they failed to do on Sunday. Instead, independent aspirants can gravitate to the dozen or so seats that have remained competitive despite the dampening effect of elections by list; but they still face the superior resources and machinery of traditional leaders and parties.”

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.