Lebanon Daily News Brief 05/20/2022

Thursday, May 19, 2022



US Treasury Sanctions Hezbollah-Affiliated Businessman, Several Associates and Related Companies
The US Department of Treasury announced its designation of Ahmad Jalal Reda Abdallah as a key financial facilitator of Hezbollah’s international financial system and also included five of his associates and eight affiliated companies in Lebanon and Iraq as part of the designation. According to the statement released, “This action illuminates Hezbollah’s modus operandi of using the cover of seemingly legitimate businesses to generate revenue and leverage commercial investments across a multitude of sectors to secretly fund Hezbollah and its terrorist activities.” [Al Arabiya English]

Eight Female MP’s Elected to the Lebanese Parliament
In this L’Orient Today article, eight recently-elected Members of Parliament are highlighted, reflecting a record number of female representation in Lebanon’s legislative body. “Ghada Ayoub is the incoming MP of the South I constituency for the Lebanese Forces . . . Nada Boustany is the incoming Free Patriotic Movement MP in the Mount Lebanon I constituency . . . Inaya Ezzedine is a former minister and an incumbent MP in the South II constituency for the Amal Movement . . . Sethrida Geagea is an incumbent MP in the North III constituency for the Lebanese Forces . . . Halima Qaqour is the incoming MP in the Mount Lebanon IV constituency for the Social Democrats . . . Najat Saliba is the incoming MP in the Mount Lebanon IV constituency for the independent movement Taqqadom . . . Paula Yacoubian is the incoming MP in the Beirut I constituency, running on the independent party Li Watani’s list . . . Cynthia Zarazir is the incoming MP of the Beirut I constituency, running on independent party Li Watani’s list.” [L’Orient Today]

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Several Recently-Elected MP’s Voice Opposition to Berri as Speaker of Parliament
According to L’Orient Today, “A number of newly-elected opposition deputies have voiced their refusal to reelect Nabih Berri as Parliament speaker [including MP Waddah Sadek (Opposition/West Beirut),  MP Halimeh Kaakour (Opposition/Chouf),  MP Halimeh Kaakour (Opposition/Chouf), MP Fouad Makhzoumi (Independent/West Beirut), and MP Samir Geagea (Lebanese Forces/Bcherre).” [L’Orient Today]


Lebanon’s Emboldened Opposition Goes From Protest To Parliament

Timour Azhari & Maya Gebeily
Azhari and Gebeily write, “Reform-minded candidates ran without the financial resources or staff of established factions but still won more than 200,0000 votes, second only to powerful armed group Hezbollah, gaining seats across Lebanon’s electoral districts and sects. It marked a significant break from politics-as-usual in Lebanon, where a handful of parties claiming to represent the country’s mosaic of religious sects have dominated politics since a 1975-90 civil war. ‘People can’t believe it… We are planting hope, and God willing, we will harvest change,’ said Kaakour, 46, and the only Sunni Muslim woman in parliament. Their wins weren’t the only surprises in Sunday’s poll. Shi’ite armed movement Hezbollah and its allies lost the majority they had won in 2018, while their opponents – the Christian Lebanese Forces party – made sizeable gains. Analysts say that could heighten sectarian tensions as the LF pushes for Hezbollah’s disarmament – but most new candidates say there are more pressing issues at hand.”

World Politics Review
Lebanon’s Elections Are A Pyrrhic Victory For The Corrupt Status Quo
Thanassis Cambanis
Cambanis writes, “Initial results show that no fewer than 10 anti-establishment candidates won seats in parliament. This wouldn’t be enough to create a sizable counter-establishment bloc in the 128-seat parliament, but it would be enough to give a real platform to many dissenting views. Hezbollah and its allies, which are collectively known as the March 8 bloc, lost ground, winning at least 61 seats, compared to 71 in the previous elections. Some of the candidates who won seats as independents will ally with either the March 8 bloc or its rival, the March 14 bloc. But it appears that neither side will control enough seats to select the speaker, setting the stage for the kind of drawn-out government formation negotiations that Lebanon is known for. As a result, despite the noteworthy gains by opposition figures and other political outsiders in Sunday’s vote, the rotten status-quo bargain that has driven Lebanon to ruin is likely to continue. The worst predations imaginable have pushed a small, relatively prosperous country into a financial abyss. Yet the first elections after a hellish three-year period that featured a popular revolution, an economic depression of historical proportions, and the deadly Beirut port explosion evidently was not enough to dislodge the ruling clique of warlords, organized crime bosses and bankers.”

The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies
Lebanon’s Ailing Power Sector: What is the Government’s Latest Electricity Plan?

Ali Taha

Taha writes, “A plan to reform and revive Lebanon’s ailing electricity sector has been approved by the Lebanese cabinet on 16 March 2022. The new proposal—which builds on the World Bank’s Lebanon Power Sector Emergency Action Plan, a “Least-Cost Generation Plan” from Électricité de France, and previous plans by the Lebanese Ministry of Energy and Water (MoEW)—sets the goal of 17 hours of electricity supply daily by 2023. Notably, it includes the establishment of an Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), a longstanding demand by the World Bank and Western donors, the construction of new power plants, diversifying the energy mix towards affordable renewable sources, and the introduction of cost-reflective tariffs.”

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.